North Carolina saw 91 workplace fatalities in 2020
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina has experienced the deadliest year for workplace fatalities in at least 10 years. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that there were 91 workplace fatalities in 2020. That number includes 26 related to COVID-19. The figures were released Friday by the state Labor Department. In 2019, there were 55 workplace fatalities. That was the previous highest total since 2010. The construction industry is still the most hazardous industry. It had 26 work-related deaths in 2020. There were 22 deaths in the services industry. The numbers from the state do not include workplace deaths handled by the U.S. Labor Department. Those deaths include traffic accidents and fatalities on farms with 10 or fewer employees.
STATE PARKS-RECORD VISITATION
North Carolina parks saw record-breaking visitation in 2020
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina State Parks had record-breaking visitation last year. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Saturday that the high numbers underscore the public’s craving for outdoor space and exercise during the coronavirus pandemic. State parks spokeswoman Katie Hall said that North Carolina’s 41 state parks and recreation areas had 19.8 million visitors in 2020. That is 400,000 more visitors than any other year on record. It’s also 1.2 million more visitors than in 2019. The previous record for visitation was 19.4 million visitors in 2017. But the increased crowds have led to increased challenges. They include overflowing parking lots, litter and damage to natural resources from heavier use of trails and popular sites.
WAKE FOREST PRESIDENT
Vanderbilt provost to be president at Wake Forest University
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Wake Forest University has chosen Vanderbilt University provost and vice chancellor Susan Wente as its new president. Wake Forest’s board of trustees recently approved Wente’s appointment following the unanimous recommendation of a search committee. Wente will become Wake Forest’s president on July 1. She succeeds Nathan O. Hatch, who has served as the university’s president since 2005 and announced his retirement last fall. Wente is a cell biologist who received her Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Iowa and her Ph.D in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.
VEHICLE SHOOTING DEATH
Suspect charged with murder after man found dead in vehicle
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities have charged a North Carolina man with murder in the death of a man who was found after his vehicle hit a tree. The investigation began Friday afternoon after Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers responded to a report about an assault and found a man dead inside a wrecked sport utility vehicle. The victim was later identified as 28-year-old Cedric Kirkland. Authorities said Sunday that homicide investigators identified and later found a vehicle of interest. Further investigation led to the arrest of 24-year-old George Winston. Winston is charged with murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle.
DRUG TRAFFICKING RING
Drug ring investigation nets more pleas, sentencings
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) – Federal authorities say the mastermind behind a large drug-trafficking ring operating in Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and California has entered a guilty plea. Virginia prosecutors also say four other defendants in the case pleaded guilty or were sentenced in the past week. Forty-four-year-old Ramiro Ramirez-Barreto faces at least 20 years in prison after pleading guilty on Monday to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. Authorities described Ramirez-Barreto as a Mexican national linked to the Sinaloa cartel who supplied drug rings in Newport News, Virginia and in Henderson and Greensboro, North Carolina.
Car was speeding before crash into SC pond that killed 5
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) – Investigators say a car that crashed into a South Carolina pond earlier this month killing five people was speeding. Myrtle Beach Police say evidence at the crash and a review of traffic cameras show no other vehicles were involved in the Jan 23 wreck. Police say the 2016 Chevrolet Impala hit a curb on Harrelson Boulevard near the Myrtle Beach airport and was going so fast it flipped several times before plunging into the pond. When emergency workers arrived, they found three people on the shore of the pond and three others still inside the submerged car. Three people killed were from Lake City and two were from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
NC prisons offer incentives for offenders to get vaccine
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Most North Carolina prisoners can get five days knocked off their sentences if they receive COVID-19 vaccinations. It’s part of a package of incentives unveiled on Friday by state prison officials to motivate prisoners to obtain doses that are currently voluntary. Other incentives include extra visitations and a free phone call. About 21,000 of the 29,000 offenders behind bars are eligible for sentence reductions. Those who aren’t would receive $5 prison canteen credits. About 530 prisoners have active COVID-19 cases, and eight offenders are hospitalized. Forty-two prisoners have suffered COVID-related deaths during the pandemic.
‘Just shocked’: A town reckons with charges in Capitol riot
WOODSTOCK, Ohio (AP) – The tiny town of Woodstock, Ohio, was the base for two people who allegedly played big roles in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Residents are still trying to understand how that happened in their don’t blink-or-you’ll-miss-it, one-stoplight burg. It’s the now-shuttered Jolly Roger Bar & Grill that brought the FBI and other investigators to Woodstock in western Ohio. Federal authorities say Army veteran Jessica Watkins tended the bar and recruited members for a local militia group she has said she founded in 2019 and commanded. She and group member Donovan Crowl are now facing years behind prison bars.