Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment
NC legislative session opening subdued amid virus worries
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly begins a new two-year session with Republicans still in charge and COVID-19 safety concerns still prominent. The House and Senate gavel in Wednesday for a one-day meeting to seat the 170 lawmakers that make up the legislature and elect chamber leaders. GOP Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. Tim Moore are expected to remain in their leadership posts. The opening day in Raleigh will be subdued compared to previous years due to the coronavirus. Family members of legislators won’t be on the floor with their loved ones to retain social distancing.
VIRUS -NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina lawmakers irritated over slow vaccine rollout
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina are growing increasingly frustrated with the state’s slow rollout of Pfizer and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines. They point to confusion over how to schedule appointments, a lack of clear guidance from the state over distribution and difficulties overcoming vaccine hesitancy among nursing home workers. Lawmakers want the state to offer clearer guidance to local health officials and do more to scale up the distribution of vaccines. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday ranked North Carolina as the 10th slowest state in the country per capita in administering doses. About one-fourth of the more than 820,000 doses distributed thus far have been administered.
Appalachian State and UNC-Charlotte delay in-person classes
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte have delayed the start of in-person classes as the number of coronavirus cases rise across the state. The Greensboro News & Record reported Monday that in-person classes at Appalachian State won’t begin until Feb. 1. That is two weeks later than originally planned. UNC-Charlotte said on Monday that it is pushing back face-to-face classes by a month. UNC-Chapel Hill was the first public university in North Carolina to push back the start of in-person undergraduate classes.
UNIVERSITY-PROUD BOYS INVESTIGATION
College employee accused of being Proud Boy, no fault found
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina State University says its investigation into an employee accused of being a member of the Proud Boys “did not substantiate any significant allegations.” The school announced its findings into Chadwick Jason Seagraves, a desktop support team manager, on Monday. The university had launched a probe after the allegations about Seagraves were posted on Twitter and reported by Raw Story. Seagraves has previously told The News & Observer the he was not a member of the far-right extremist group. He was also accused of publishing personal information about left-wing activists in Asheville and Portland, Oregon. He hasn’t acknowledged doing that.
LGBT RIGHTS-NORTH CAROLINA
Moratorium over: N. Carolina towns advance LGBT protections
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The first North Carolina municipalities are acting to expand LGBT rights a month since a moratorium expired on anti-bias ordinances created during the effort to remove the state’s “bathroom bill.” The town of Hillsborough voted unanimously Monday to approve new protections for people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and other differences when it comes to employment and public accommodations. Two more towns had similar ordinances on their board agendas this week. The moratorium began in early 2017 and ended Dec. 1. The 2016 “bathroom bill” drew national condemnation and led corporations and sports teams to reconsider business in the state.
Court tosses convictions of former Wilmington Trust execs
DOVER, Del. (AP) – A federal appeals court has overturned the convictions of four former executives for the only financial institution to be criminally charged in connection with the federal bank bailout program. A three-judge panel on Tuesday ordered that the convictions of the former Wilmington Trust executives for making false statements to federal regulators be reversed and that judgments of acquittal be entered. The court also vacated their conspiracy and securities fraud convictions and ordered a retrial on those charges. The ruling marks a stunning reversal in the government’s case against former bank president Robert Harra Jr. and three other top executives.
Foundation boots UNC-Chapel Hill fraternity from house
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – A foundation has ended the lease for a fraternity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that was linked to a drug trafficking ring. News outlets report the lease for the Kappa Sigma fraternity will end on Jan. 18, one month after local and federal law enforcement officials announced that that two of the fraternity’s members were charged in October with federal drug crimes. Court filings showed the illegal drug activity involved chapters of Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma, and Beta Theta Pi fraternities at UNC-Chapel Hill between 2017 and the spring of 2020.
North Carolina trooper under investigation for BLM comment
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper is under investigation following a social media post in which he described the Black Lives Matter movement as a “racist money laundering hate group.” WRAL reports Master Trooper Mark Melvin posted the comment to Facebook in December. It’s since been deleted. On Monday, Melvin was placed on administrative duty while an internal investigation continues. WRAL also reported that Melvin tagged himself on Facebook as present at the U.S. Capitol siege and posted pictures. He also said he would not enforce the curfew ordered by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in response to spiking coronavirus cases.