Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. EDT
Private zoo visitors hurt as tree falls on sightseeing cart
TROUTMAN, N.C. (AP) – At least three visitors to a private zoo in North Carolina are receiving emergency treatment after a large tree toppled in windy conditions onto a passing sightseeing wagon.
It happened Saturday afternoon at Zootastic Park near Troutman, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Charlotte.
Iredell County Emergency Communications Supervisor Jody Sherrill said one person was flown by helicopter and two others were taken by ambulance to hospitals. Sherrill said the area had experienced strong winds.
Photos from the scene show the tree crashed down on two open-sided wagons towed by a tractor, with what appeared to be goats and turkeys nearby.
A zoo employee referred questions to owner Scottie Brown, whose phone would not accept messages.
The eight-year-old zoo’s website said its animals include llamas, kangaroos and camels.
Student protesters interrupt Duke University alumni event
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Student protesters with bullhorns interrupted Duke University’s president as he was about to address returning alumni.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Saturday’s protest inside a campus theater was met with a smattering of applause mixed with a chorus of boos. Many alumni stood and turned their backs to the demonstrators until they left to hold a longer protest in front of the university’s Gothic-style chapel.
Demonstrators issued a dozen specific demands including $15 an hour minimum wage for university workers, loan-free financial aid, open Board of Trustee meetings and a community space for the disabled.
The protest came as Vincent Price is completing his first year as university president and 1968 graduates remembered eight days of demonstrations following the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
EX-SHAW UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
Former Shaw University president to be honored at luncheon
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A historically black college is holding a memorial service for a former president who saved the school from financial difficulties.
Shaw University says in a news release the ceremony for Talbert O. Shaw is scheduled for Saturday at the Thomas J. Boyd Chapel on the campus. There will also be a luncheon.
Under his leadership, Shaw raised funds which helped the school pay off its debts and establish a $12 million endowment.
During his 15-year tenure which started in 1987, Shaw oversaw renovations of historic buildings, built new ones and revamped academic programs. Largest of the buildings was the learning center that bears his name.
Shaw also led the effort to bring the Shaw Divinity School from its status as an independent school to under the auspices of the university.
E-cigarette brand’s 2.6M power units being recalled
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A big cigarette name is recalling the power units used for about 2.6 million electronic cigarettes.
R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. has issued a nationwide safety recall of all Vuse Vibe power units after consumer reports that batteries malfunctioned and caused the units to overheat and create a fire risk. No injuries have been reported.
R.J. Reynolds Vapor markets the Vuse brand of e-cigarettes. The subsidiary of British American Tobacco says owners should stop using the product or charging the power unit and contact the company to receive a refund.
DUKE ENERGY-SOLAR POWER
Court sees if church solar panels break electricity monopoly
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s highest court is taking up a case that could force new competition on the state’s electricity monopolies.
The state Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the Utilities Commission’s decision to fine clean-energy advocacy group NC WARN for putting solar panels on a church rooftop and then charging it below-market rates for power.
The commission told the group that it was producing electricity illegally and fined the group $60,000. The group said it was acting privately and appealed to the high court.
If the group prevails, it could put new pressure on Duke Energy’s monopoly. State officials say a ruling for NC WARN would allow companies to install solar equipment and sell power on site, shaving away customers and forcing Duke Energy to raise rates on everyone else.
Man missing in North Carolina state park found dead in lake
ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man who disappeared during a church camping trip last week is dead.
Multiple media organizations report that the body of Jesse Sgro was found Saturday in the water at Singletary Lake State Park. The Fayetteville man’s body was found in the middle of the Bladen County park’s lake.
North Carolina State Parks spokeswoman Katie Hall says Sgro appears to have drowned.
Hall says a group of people went out on the lake in canoes around sunset April 6 when conditions were windy. Sgro’s canoe was found across the lake from his campsite the next morning with his life jacket and cell phone still in the boat.
2 tax preparers plead guilty to preparing fraudulent return
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Two North Carolina tax preparers are headed to prison after admitting they filled out hundreds of fake tax returns involving more than half a million dollars.
Federal prosecutors say Kristyn Daney and Rakeem Scales admitted Friday to preparing a false tax return for an Internal Revenue Service undercover agent three years ago. They face at least three years in prison plus restitution.
Daney and Scales said ahead of the 2014 tax filing season they were directed to manipulate client information to maximize refunds. They said those instructions came from a co-owner of Fast Tax in Winston-Salem.
Former Forsyth County magistrate and local NAACP president S. Wayne Patterson was one of the businesses owners. He pleaded guilty in November to aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return.
COASTAL BRIDGE REPAIR
Work on Wright bridge on North Carolina coast nearly done
KITTY HAWK, N.C. (AP) – State transportation officials say work on a bridge on the North Carolina coast is nearly done.
The N.C. Department of Transportation said in a news release that work on the eastbound lanes of the Wright Memorial Bridge on the Currituck-Dare county line will be done in about a month.
Eastbound lanes were closed in October for repair and refurbishment work. All traffic was diverted to the westbound lanes while work continued.
The work is part of an overall $21 million project to refurbish the Wright Memorial Bridge. The project is funded by an initiative designed to improve the conditions and increase the lifespans of high value bridges across the state.
The project is scheduled to wrap up on May 14.