Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment
NC court order threatens executive branch power over funds
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina Court of Appeals panel’s ruling threatens the ability of elected executive branch leaders to control non-tax dollars without legislative permission. The panel’s majority ruled this week that Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein had to deposit money paid annually by Smithfield Foods as part of an agreement over hog waste into the state’s coffers. The money had been held in a private bank account for grants designed to enhance the state’s environment. The state Supreme Court upheld the Smithfield arrangement in April with the attorney general. The lower-level appeals court’s decision could mean the General Assembly can decide specifics of how to spend millions received.
‘If not one thing, it’s another’: Storm rolls into Northeast
NEW YORK (AP) – A major snowstorm has rolled into the Northeast at a key moment in the coronavirus pandemic. It’s coming days into the beginning of a massive vaccination campaign and in the thick of a virus surge that has throngs of people seeking tests per day. The storm is poised to drop as much as 2 feet of snow in some places by Thursday, and the pandemic is adding new complexities to officials’ preparations, from deciding whether to close testing sites to figuring out how to handle plowing amid outdoor dining platforms in New York City streets. Still, officials say they don’t expect the winter blast to disrupt vaccine distribution.
Airbnb suspends North Carolina listings over COVID-19 rules
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Airbnb says it has suspended listings across North Carolina for violating its party guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said in emails sent to The Associated Press that 21 listings in the Research Triangle area were suspended, as well as 17 listings in the Triad and 20 listings in Charlotte. Viviana Jordan, North Carolina public policy manager for Airbnb, said in a news release that North Carolina has banned large gatherings because of the pandemic for several months. The company said its actions target a small minority of hosts who have previously been warned about responsible hosting or have otherwise violated company policies.
Naval Academy midshipman dies in drowning accident on leave
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – A 22-year-old midshipman died in a hotel pool drowning accident while he was on leave from the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland. The Naval Academy said in a statement Wednesday that John Johnson, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, died Monday in Park City, Utah. Police reports say Johnson was with friends at a resort outdoor pool when he didn’t resurface. Friends jumped in the pool, pulled him out and performed CPR. He later died at a hospital. Officials said Johnson was a member of the 29th Company and served as a platoon commander. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Association Leadership Award in 2019.
Wintry weather snaps tree limbs, creates outages in Virginia
A multi-faceted winter storm has coated parts of Virginia with snow, sleet and freezing rain, taking down tree limbs, creating power outages and leading officials to warn motorists against travel. Officials in Charlottesville say tree limbs came down in parts of the city. Dominion Energy reports more than 8,100 customers were without power by mid-afternoon, many of them in the Shenandoah Valley. Virginia State Police said that as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, troopers had responded to approximately 200 crashes and 125 disabled vehicles. A single-vehicle accident on Interstate 81 around 7:45 a.m. killed a North Carolina man, and state police said slick road conditions were a factor.
Court: Officers’ shortcut across yard soiled evidence
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Court of Appeals says police unlawfully obtained evidence at a home because officers took a late-night shortcut through the suspect’s yard, instead of walking up the driveway. Tuesday’s split decision by a three-judge panel discusses how police must act when performing a “knock and talk” at someone’s home to collect information about a possible crime. Judge Chris Brook wrote that Gastonia officers lacking a search warrant exceeded the “background social norms” expected of a traveling salesman or other visitor. A trial judge refused to suppress the evidence. The suspect pleaded guilty to charges but appealed.
North Carolina HBCUs receive gift from MacKenzie Scott
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Three historically black North Carolina colleges have received historic financial gifts from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Scott is the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. She gave Winston-Salem State University a record $30 million as part of more than $4.15 billion in donations to 384 organizations in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. She donated $45 million to North Carolina A&T State University and $15 million to Elizabeth City State University. Scott listed the recipients of her donations and why she did it in a post on Medium.com. Among the other recipients are food banks, emergency relief funds and legal defense funds which address institutional discrimination.
AP-NC-TROPICAL WEATHER-DISASTER DECLARATION
Cooper signs disaster declaration for N. Carolina counties
RALEIGH, N.C (AP) – The Small Business Administration has approved North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration for five counties affected by heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Eta. The declaration affects Alexander, Caldwell, Catawba, Iredell and Wilkes counties. Heavy rains from Eta caused widespread flooding across North Carolina on Nov. 12, requiring evacuations and water rescues, and leading to 12 deaths. The storm also damaged and washed out roads and caused widespread power outages. Approval of the declaration means SBA low-interest disaster loans are available to people and businesses recovering from the storm.