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Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT

 

INSURER-HOSPITAL DISPUTE
Blue Cross Blue Shield drops North Carolina hospital
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has dropped a hospital from its network.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported the move taking effect Aug. 21 comes amid a legal dispute between the insurance company and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes in Danbury.
Blue Cross accuses LifeBrite of using a scheme to bill the insurance company for “fraudulent” lab services.
LifeBrite said it appears Blue Cross did not know the role the hospital plays in providing high-quality health care to residents of Stokes County and surrounding areas.
LifeBrite sued Blue Cross on April 13, saying the insurer violated their contract by withholding reimbursements that the hospital said totaled at least $15 million as of March.
The insurance company says other hospitals are available in Eden, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Elkin and Mount Airy.

 

ALGAE BLOOM-FISH DEATHS
North Carolina questions town’s explanation of fish deaths
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina water quality chief says a town misled the public about a fish kill.
The Charlotte Observer reported the town of White Lake said this week an algae bloom killed fish in the lake, not the chemical used to treat the algae.
Jim Gregson is deputy director of the North Carolina Division of Water Resources. Gregson asked White Lake this week to correct its statement. He says the stress from low oxygen levels because of the algae combined with the exposure to the chemical used to treat the algae caused the fish deaths.
Town spokesman Mike McGill says Gregson told the town last week the chemical was not responsible.
The town completed the treatment in time for the 40th annual White Lake Water Festival on Friday and Saturday.

 

SHRIMP BOAT FREED
Shrimp boat free after a week aground in North Carolina
HOLDEN BEACH, N.C. (AP) – A shrimp boat owned by a South Carolina man has been pushed back into the ocean in North Carolina after being stuck on a beach for a week.
Media outlets reported the shrimping boat “Big Earl” was pushed and pulled out to sea Thursday.
The 20-ton (18-metric ton) boat had been stuck on Holden Beach after shrimping nets got tangled in the boat’s propeller.
The boat’s owner, Reese Atkins, said getting Big Earl back out to sea is a big relief. He said it was hard to sleep knowing the boat was stuck.
Atkins bought the boat last month for $30,000 and sells shrimp in his hometown of Florence, South Carolina.
He said it was incredible to watch the Holden Beach community help get the boat back in the water.

 

 

APPLE-SECOND CAMPUS
North Carolina beefs up tax breaks as Apple scouts new sites
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislative leaders say they’re committing to an expansion of tax breaks for companies promising thousands of jobs, a move that comes as people familiar with recruitment efforts tell The Associated Press tech giant Apple is strongly considering the state for a new corporate campus.
The state legislature’s top two leaders said Thursday that officials will lower the threshold for so-called “transformative” companies to get massive state subsidies.
A North Carolina government official and an economic development official told The Associated Press that Apple will decide soon whether to build a planned hub near Raleigh. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of business recruitment.
The economic development official said Apple could create 5,000 jobs, with a later target of 10,000 jobs.
Apple declined comment Thursday.

 

 

CHEMICAL-RIVER
Republicans agree on how to address little-known chemicals
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislative Republicans say they’ve worked out an agreement to expand work and funding to clean up, contain and evaluate unregulated industrial chemicals like the one a plant dumped for decades into the Cape Fear River.
House and Senate GOP lawmakers filed identical bills in their chambers Thursday that represent a negotiated compromise after failing to reach agreement on competing versions last winter. The provisions still must be voted on and sent to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
The agreement locates roughly $12 million, with $8 million for University of North Carolina researchers to sample and evaluate emerging contaminants like GenX.
The legislation also gives Cooper authority to shut down The Chemours Co. plant that discharged GenX if his administration can’t halt further unauthorized discharges by June.

 

 

DOCTOR-STORED HUMAN FAT
Doctor accused of keeping human fat in closet back at work
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina doctor accused of reusing syringes and storing human fat in plastic bags can practice medicine again, even though her license was suspended.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports a Wake County judge granted a temporary restraining order Tuesday against the N.C. Medical Board, saying it violated due process by summarily suspending Dr. Anne Litton White’s license ahead of a June 21 board hearing where she can defend her medical actions.
The board says White reused syringes and leftover botulinum toxin on multiple patients, and kept small plastic bags of fat from liposuction procedures in an office closet.
White denied the conduct in an affidavit, and her lawyer said her practice has lost up to $10,000 daily during the suspension.

 

BANK ROBBERY-SUSPECT SURRENDERS
North Carolina bank robbery suspect turns himself in
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Police in a North Carolina city sought the public’s help in finding a suspected bank robber, but an apparent case of nerves was all it took to help them catch their man.
Asheville police tell the Asheville Citizen-Times 46-year-old Mario Devon Sauls apparently freaked out after seeing his picture posted everywhere as a suspect in a robbery at a State Employees Credit Union branch on Wednesday. Arrest warrants said a man wrote a bomb threat on a deposit slip and handed it to a teller, who gave him money.
Police spokeswoman Christina Hallingse said Sauls approached an officer as she pumped gas Thursday and confessed to the robbery.
Sauls is in the Buncombe County jail in lieu of an $80,000 secured bond. It’s not known if he has an attorney.

 

OVERDOSE DEATH-MURDER CHARGE
North Carolina man accused in overdose death at motel
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have charged a man with second-degree murder in the overdose death of another man at a motel last year.
Greenville police tell local news outlets that 26-year-old Floyd T. Thrope Jr. of Henderson was arrested in the town of Oxford on Wednesday.
According to police, 30-year-old Vincent Rodenwold of Franklinton was found dead in a Greenville motel room last December from a combined heroin and fentanyl toxicity. Police say they were able to identify Thorpe as Rodenwold’s drug supplier.
Thorpe is being held in the Granville County jail on a $200,000 bond. It couldn’t be determined if he has an attorney.