Latest North Carolina News:
Crews battle wind-driven wildfires in western North Carolina
BRYSON CITY, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say wind-driven wildfires in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park have burned hundreds of acres in western North Carolina and forced the evacuation of several homes. The fires also prompted officials to close several trails and backcountry campsites in the nation’s most-visited national park. The park covers more than 520,000 acres straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Crews from the National Park Service, North Carolina Forest Service, Bryson City Fire Department and Bureau of Indian Affairs were working to contain the fires. Officials said both fires were started from power lines knocked down by high winds and were estimated to be 10% contained as of late Saturday night.
EXPLAINER: Why the 14th Amendment has surfaced in midterms
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Some attorneys and voters are using a rarely cited section of the 14th Amendment dealing with insurrection to try to stop some U.S. House members from running for re-election this year. First-term Republican firebrands Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia have been among those targeted. Their opponents are citing a section of the amendment that was designed to prevent members of Congress who had fought on the Confederate side during the Civil War from returning to the institution. One law professor says it’s a novel legal theory that will have a difficult time succeeding.
Microsoft gives up on seeking $20 million in NC incentives
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Microsoft Corp. won’t seek taxpayer-funded economic incentives valued at about $20 million related to two announced job expansions in 2019 in North Carolina. The company wrote the state’s Economic Investment Committee this month requesting the grant agreements be terminated. According to WRAL-TV, the company said it wasn’t “willing to share” employee data that would prove they met job-creation requirements for the Job Development Investment Grants. Microsoft announced in October 2019 that it would create 430 jobs in Charlotte. Microsoft unveiled plans less than two months later for 500 new jobs in Morrisville. Microsoft’s letter said it has more than 2,500 full-time employees in North Carolina.
Affordable housing, long overlooked, getting federal boost
BOSTON (AP) – States and localities are increasingly tapping federal funds to help finance efforts to build more affordable housing, repair dilapidated units or reduce their homeless numbers. Housing advocates believe the money from the $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds could transform the way communities address the growing homelessness problem and a shortage of affordable housing. Several places, including Washington, D.C., the state of Massachusetts and Clark County, Nevada, have allocated tens of millions of dollars for new homes. Others, like the state of New York, the city of Austin, Texas, and Maricopa County in Arizona are investing in upgrades to their homelessness outreach and preventive efforts.
Ariana DeBose wins Oscar for best supporting actress
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Ariana DeBose lived up to Oscar predictions and followed the path of her “West Side Story” predecessor Rita Moreno. DeBose won the best supporting actress trophy Sunday for her breakout performance as the fierce Anita, 60 years after Moreno claimed the award in 1962 for the original film version of the Broadway musical. She becomes the first Afro-Latina and openly LGBTQ actor win in the category. Largely unknown in film circles before landing the coveted role, the 31-year-old North Carolina native became the clear Oscar favorite after an awards season full of victories. DeBose says “dreams do come true.” DeBose beat out fellow nominees Jessie Buckley, Judi Dench, Kirsten Dunst and Aunjanue Ellis.
National Weather Service confirms tornado in North Carolina
TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down in North Carolina earlier this week as severe thunderstorms moved through the region. The weather service said Friday that a team conducted a storm survey for the area northwest of Taylorsville in Alexander County and confirmed an EF-1 tornado with winds of up to 110 mph. Officials say it was 6 miles (10 kilometers) long and 150 yards (137 meters) wide. News outlets report that Wednesday’s storms brought down trees and damaged homes in the area.
REYNOLDS AMERICAN-JOB CUTS
Reynolds American to cut 350 jobs in consolidation
TOBACCOVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Reynolds American Inc. says it’s cutting 350 full-time positions as it consolidates more production into its Tobaccoville plant. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Reynolds American announced Thursday that the consolidation begins next month and will continue through 2024. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco operations in Oxford and American Snuff’s operations in Winston-Salem will move to Tobaccoville. In Tennessee, the ASC Traditional Oral operations in Memphis will move to Clarksville, where Reynolds has another smokeless tobacco production facility. Reynolds says more than half of employees in closing facilities will have the opportunity to transfer. The company is offering displaced employees a comprehensive severance and medical benefit continuation package and outplacement support.
FATAL SHOOTING-SHERIFF’S DEPUTY
Autopsy: Black man shot by off-duty deputy had 4 wounds
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – An autopsy says a Black pedestrian shot and killed by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy earlier this year was hit four times during the altercation in a busy North Carolina street. The autopsy released Thursday by North Carolina’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said that 37-year-old pedestrian Jason Walker had wounds to his head, chest, back and thigh in the Jan. 8 shooting. The deputy has said he was defending himself after Walker jumped on the hood of his truck. The shooting prompted protests by demonstrators who questioned authorities’ account of what happened.