Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
CRUISE SHIP-PASSENGER OVERBOARD
Coast Guard ends search for North Carolina cruise passenger
MIAMI (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a 50-year-old North Carolina man who reportedly went overboard from the Carnival paradise cruise ship.
Commander David Aldous said in a news release that the agency has been in touch with the family of Brian Lamonds of Greensboro, North Carolina. He says suspending the search is one of the most difficult decisions that first responders have to make and “it is never made lightly.”
Lamonds was reported missing Tuesday morning 85 miles (136 kilometers) west of Fort Myers on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Coast Guard crews from Miami, Key West and Clearwater searched for about 55 hours, covering some 3,059 square miles (7922 sq. kilometers). The cruise ship was heading from Tampa to Key West when Lamonds went overboard.
Judge rules North Carolina dam owner should pay $1.1 million
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
VASS, N.C. (AP) – A judge has ordered the owners of a troubled dam in North Carolina to pay the state $1.1 million because of a breach.
The Fayetteville Observer reported Woodlake CC Corp. has agreed in a consent judgment filed in Moore County this month that it owes the state the cost of the breach in 2016 after Hurricane Matthew’s heavy rains.
Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Brewer said it’s too soon to say how and when Woodlake will pay.
State officials worried in 2016 the entire dam might fail and evacuated residents downstream.
The state breached the dam last year, leaving a mostly empty 1,200 acre (485 hectare) lake that was once used for boating, swimming, fishing and water skiing.
Residents are considering how they can get control of the dam and lake.
Construction worker falls to death in North Carolina city
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A construction worker has fallen to his death in North Carolina’s largest city.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said in a news release that a man fell to his death at an office building construction site Wednesday afternoon in downtown Charlotte.
The victim has been identified as 24-year-old Juventino Mata-Hernandez. He died at the scene.
The 33-story tower is being built near the Carolinas Panthers Bank of America Stadium. The bank has leased most of the office space. It’s expected to open next year.
There was no immediate indication why the man fell.
The Occupational safety and Health Administration will investigate the death.
North Carolina budget fast-track squeezes out amendments
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Republicans at the North Carolina legislature are fast-tracking this year’s budget adjustments so quickly they’re preventing rank-and-file members – particularly Democrats – from formally offering their own changes.
House and Senate GOP leaders have been meeting privately for weeks on adjusting the second year of the two-year government spending plan approved last summer.
House Republicans announced Wednesday a not yet released plan will be voted on next week. Leaders will use a procedural method preventing amendments in committee or during floor debate.
Democratic Rep. Billy Richardson said Republicans want to avoid votes that could be used against them in fall campaigns.
GOP Rep. Chuck McGrady is a top budget-writer. He says he wouldn’t have necessarily wanted it this way but says the budgeting process has been efficient.
Former N Carolina SBI director Beatty nominated for bench
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A longtime state government veteran is among those nominated by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to become special trial court judges, who often are brought in to handle complex cases or to perform fill-in duties on the bench.
Cooper announced late Wednesday that Bryan Beatty is his choice for one of three special Superior Court judge vacancies. The former State Bureau of Investigation director and public safety secretary recently wrapped up nearly a decade on the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
Cooper’s other two choices are Robeson County Chief District Court Judge J. Stanley Carmical and Chief District Court Judge Athena Brooks, serving Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties.
All three are subject to state House and Senate confirmation to serve five-year terms.
US government set to release hurricane season outlook
MIAMI (AP) – U.S. government forecasters are set to release their prediction for how many hurricanes and tropical storms they expect to form over Atlantic and Caribbean waters in the next six months.
The six-month Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters will release their storm season outlook Thursday at the agency’s aircraft operations center in Lakeland, Florida. That facility is the base for NOAA’s “hurricane hunter” aircraft that fly into storms to collect data used in storm forecasts.
NOAA predicted that 2017 would be an above-average season, and it certainly was: A trio of devastating hurricanes – Harvey, Irma and Maria – ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and many Caribbean islands. Overall, last year saw 17 named storms, including 10 hurricanes.
Democrat: School safety campaign issue if gun ideas ignored
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Democratic legislative candidates plan to make school safety a fall campaign issue if Republicans won’t consider legislation that includes gun-control provisions backed by the Democratic governor.
Rep. Graig Meyer of Orange County made the comment during a Wednesday news conference where several House and Senate Democrats promoted legislation mirroring Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposals. Meyer recruited many House Democratic candidates.
Cooper and other Democrats want to raise the age to purchase assault-style rifles from 18 to 21 and to ban “bump stocks,” which allow guns to mimic fully automatic fire. They also want judges to be able to force people considered physical threats to themselves or others to surrender weapons temporarily.
Legislative Republicans have avoided gun restrictions, focusing instead on improving building safety and hiring more school psychologists and police officers.
CAR INTO RESTAURANT-DEATHS
Family apologizes to community for man who drove into eatery
GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) – Relatives of a North Carolina man accused of driving into a restaurant, killing two loved ones, are thanking authorities and apologizing to the community.
Monty Self read a statement Wednesday to reporters in Gaston County west of Charlotte. He’s the brother of Roger Self, who faces two first-degree murder counts after authorities say he rammed a sport utility vehicle into a restaurant where his family was eating.
The statement says the family is “sorry for this moment” and what it’s brought to Gaston County. The family’s pastor has said Roger Self was suffering from depression. The crash killed his daughter and daughter-in-law and critically injured two other relatives.
The family started a GoFundMe page for funeral and hospital expenses, but says it won’t be used for any legal defense costs.