Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
NC promises more vaccines for providers hit by shortfalls
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s top public health official says coronavirus vaccine providers currently receiving little to no supply will soon have extra doses reserved for them. The supplies for some providers have dwindled because of a shift in strategy favoring mass vaccination sites. That has resulted in thousands of residents getting appointments postponed or canceled. Doses that have been provided for a mass vaccination site at the Carolina Panthers football stadium this weekend will account for as much as one-fourth of the state’s weekly allotment. State health director Mandy Cohen says providers aren’t allowed to turn away residents from other states who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
NC General Assembly returns to begin work session in earnest
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly is returning to Raleigh two weeks after meeting briefly to elect chamber leaders. The Republican-controlled House and Senate reconvenes on Wednesday to begin what will become the lion’s share of this year’s work session. State law initially required lawmakers to hold a one-day meeting Jan. 13 to seat members, who in turn re-elected Rep. Tim Moore as House speaker and Sen. Phil Berger as Senate leader. Wednesday marks the first day that legislators can file bills. Lawmakers are aiming to approve a state government budget that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is willing to sign.
NC jobless aid office addressing millions in overpayments
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina official says tens of millions of dollars in jobless benefits have been paid during the coronavirus pandemic to people who don’t actually qualify for them. The head of the Division of Employment Security told lawmakers on Tuesday about how nearly $70 million in benefits had been overpaid during the first nine months of 2020. Most of that happened after COVID-19 lockdowns sent unemployment claims rocketing to historic levels. While GIbson says not all overpayments are fraud, identity theft is to blame for millions of dollars in payouts. Gibson says his agency is acting on several fronts to recover these overpayments.
At session start, NC legislators pitch consensus with Cooper
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly session begins in earnest Wednesday with the same divided government in place as in the previous two years. Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper are aiming to avoid the same result from 2019. That’s when they dug in their heels, leading to a budget stalemate that never got fully resolved. While Cooper blocked the GOP’s favored legislation on hot-button issues, much of his agenda got sidelined as well. Lawmakers and Cooper will get an early chance to find consensus through distributing more COVID-19 federal relief money. Passing a budget and redistricting are other top tasks this year.
N. Carolina state Sen. Jeff Jackson enters US Senate race
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina Democratic state senator has announced he’s running for the U.S. Senate in 2022. Jeff Jackson unveiled his bid Tuesday. He’s the second high-profile Democrat to enter the race to succeed Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who isn’t seeking reelection. Former state Sen. Erica Smith is running again after an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2020. Republican incumbent Thom Tillis won in November, extending the GOP’s winning streak in Senate elections in North Carolina to four. Former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Walker is also running for Burr’s seat. Jackson says he plans to ultimately visit all 100 counties.
Department store chain Belk filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina-based department store chain Belk says it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Charlotte Observer reports that private equity firm Sycamore Partners made the announcement on Tuesday. The firm owns Belk and says it will continue with “normal operations” as it goes through bankruptcy. Sycamore Partners says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of February. The 133-year-old chain grew from the opening of a store in Monroe, North Carolina, in 1888. The Belk family sold the chain for $3 billion in 2015. Belk has more than 20,000 employees at its nearly 300 stores in 16 Southeastern states.
TERROR PLOT ARRESTS-TEXAS
Texas man pleads guilty in plot to attack Trump Tower
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – A Texas man has pleaded guilty to a terror charge after authorities accused him of plotting attacks on the White House and Trump Tower in New York City. Twenty-two-year-old Jaylyn Christopher Molina, of Cost, also pleaded guilty Monday to one count of receiving child pornography after authorities found images on his cellphone while executing a search warrant. Molina was accused of conspiring with a South Carolina man in attacks inspired by the Islamic State. Their plotting allegedly began in May 2019, when President Donald Trump was in office. Molina faces up to 40 years in prison when he’s sentenced in April.
North Carolina police officers shoot man brandishing rifle
HAVELOCK, N.C. (AP) – Police in a North Carolina town say officers shot and wounded a man who they say pointed a rifle in the direction of officers and a woman. News outlets report Havelock police went to an apartment complex for the third time on Monday for a domestic call involving a man and a woman. When one officer arrived, they found a woman in a car. Then, the man walked out with what police described as an AR-style weapon. According to police, the man ignored commands to drop his weapon and pointed it at the woman and officers. The officers shot and wounded the man, who was taken to the hospital.