Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment
Criminal record, sentence changes among new N. Carolina laws
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – New laws are taking effect in North Carolina to help more people convicted of lower-level crimes and nonviolent drug trafficking get their records cleared or punishments eased. The “Second Chance Act” and “First Step Act” are among nearly a dozen state laws approved since 2019 by the General Assembly and taking effect fully or partially on Tuesday. The First Step Act allows a judge to deviate from mandated prison sentences and hefty fines for drug-trafficking convictions if several conditions are met. The Second Chance Act expands upon other criminal expunction options approved in recent years. Other new laws address delivery robots and occupational licensing.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
N. Carolina reports record number of virus hospitalizations
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina has reported its highest number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus for a fourth consecutive day. The state health department said on Monday that more than 1,950 people were hospitalized with the virus statewide. The number of patients in intensive care units statewide also reached a new daily record of more than 450. Both case and positivity rates have been on the rise over the past week. The recent COVID-19 surge has led state prison officials to shutter three facilities temporarily. That decision was made so officers and staff can handle security and medical needs elsewhere.
1st female Senate majority leader elected in N. Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Senate will have its first female majority leader. Senate Republicans meeting on Monday elected Sen. Kathy Harrington to the post for the session that begins in January. The Gaston County legislator is the first woman in that position since the chamber created it over 40 years ago. The caucus also agreed unanimously to nominate Sen. Phil Berger of Rockingham County as its choice for Senate president pro tempore, which is the chamber’s most powerful position. Berger has held the post since 2011. Harrington will enter her sixth Senate term and recently has been one of the chamber’s top budget writers.
BC-US-STATE PARK-FATAL FALL
Man dies after 50-foot fall in North Carolina state park
DANBURY, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man has died after falling nearly 50 feet in a popular section of Hanging Rock State Park. News outlets report the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation says 39-year-old William Michael Smith of Lawsonville was in a well-traveled area of Hanging Rock on Sunday. However, he was in an area not designated for climbing, and he was not dressed for climbing. Officials say Smith was found dead when rescue personnel reached the scene. The division says there was a fatal fall in the same area in 2017.
FATAL CAMPGROUND FIRE
15-year-old boy dead, brother injured in campground fire
BRYSON CITY, N.C. (AP) – A campground fire in North Carolina has killed a 15-year-old boy and injured his brother. The Swain County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that Blake Lantz died in the blaze at the Ela Campground and RV park in Bryson City Sunday night. The fire started at one camper and spread to nine different units, destroying seven. Officials said his brother was injured as he escaped the blaze, but is expected to recover. Lantz’s body is being sent to Chapel Hill for an autopsy.
Storm, ocean waves cause closure of N. Carolina coastal road
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A strong low pressure system off the coast of North Carolina whipped up ocean waves that forced the closure of a flood-prone coastal highway. The News & Observer of Raleigh reported a photo posted on Facebook by the state Department of Transportation showed that asphalt on N.C. Highway 12 was no longer visible on Monday. The high water levels forced officials to close the road. The ocean overwash was expected to continue through Monday evening. While N.C. 12 remained open on Hatteras Island, the transportation department said there were several areas of deep standing water.
Man gets prison time for false bomb threats made to schools
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A hacker who made dozens of phony bombing and shooting threats to schools in the United States and the United Kingdom has been sentenced to nearly eight years in federal prison. Twenty-two-year-old Timothy Vaughn of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was sentenced Monday in California. Prosecutors say Vaughn was part of a worldwide hacker collective that sent phone calls and email reports of violent school attacks to 86 school districts. Some warned of imminent bombings and one said land mines had been placed on school property. Prosecutors say Vaughn and others also falsely reported a hijacking on a London-to-San Francisco airline flight.
HURRICANE DORIAN-NEW SCHOOL
New school planned on North Carolina island hit by Dorian
OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) – A new school is set to be built on a North Carolina barrier island that was hit by a hurricane last year, leaving the former building heavily damaged. News outlets have reported that Hurricane Dorian struck the Outer Banks’ Ocracoke Island in September 2019, sending more than 5 feet of water into some areas, and flooding the only school building on the island. The Virginian Pilot says a $9.5 million building is now set to be built as a replacement. The structure will sit more than 7 feet above sea level, and is expected to be completed in 2022. The newspaper said state and federal dollars will fund the construction.