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Tornado-damaged schools will not reopen for next school year
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Officials say schools damaged by a tornado in North Carolina will not reopen for the next academic year.
Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras told families at meetings Wednesday that students will not return next academic year to three elementary schools damaged in the April tornado.
News outlets report school officials are working with the district’s insurance company to determine what it will pay for the damage. School officials didn’t say what work needs to be done to the buildings.
Contreras says a process that includes soliciting proposals from contractors would extend any project longer than the time remaining before school starts.
Staff and students from the three elementary schools have been relocated to three others. The district is unsure where those displaced will be for the 2019-20 school year.
N Carolina Constitution Party recognized as official party
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – There’s another new official political party in North Carolina that can field candidates in November’s general elections.
The state elections board voted Wednesday to recognize the Constitution Party of North Carolina after group members collected more than 12,000 valid signatures from registered voters. The Constitution Party joins the recently recognized Green Party in North Carolina.
The General Assembly passed a law last fall lowering the signature threshold, which had been at more than 90,000. The Green Party was recognized because of a new option linking recognition to whether the party had candidates on ballots in at least 35 states in the last presidential election.
The two parties are holding conventions later this month to choose nominees for this fall.
Road debt authority gets unanimous Senate approval
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s road-building agency could benefit from up to $3 billion in debt to complete more projects faster in a bill getting bipartisan support in one General Assembly chamber.
The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday for authorizing the borrowing for the next 10 years and repaying it with projected revenues already being designated for road construction. The “special indebtedness” doesn’t require a voter referendum before it could be issued.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s Department of Transportation said last fall it would seek the debt so that the current uptick in road building can be extended once current cash balances soon dwindle. Borrowing would be capped at $300 million annually and couldn’t happen if the state’s self-imposed transportation debt limits are exceeded. An identical bill is working its way through the House.
CHILD ABUSE-COUPLE CHARGED
North Carolina couple accused of abusing pre-teen daughter
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Police have accused a North Carolina couple of inflicting what’s described as “serious mental injury” on their pre-teen daughter for more than two years.
Raleigh police told local news outlets 47-year-old Russell Jay Smith and 38-year-old Lindsey Michelle Smith surrendered to officers on Tuesday.
According to police, the Smiths abused their daughter, who was 11 when it began, by putting her through “extreme isolation” and “ostracism.” Investigators also said the couple failed to provide an adequate education for the child and forced her to remain standing for hours.
The Smiths are charged with negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury and misdemeanor child abuse. They’re jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail. It’s not known if they have attorneys, and they were scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
Cooper vetoes Republican budget changes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed the state budget adjustments approved by the Republican-dominated legislature.
Cooper vetoed the measure Wednesday before announcing the move at a news conference. The nearly $24 billion plan came to his desk late last week, and he had until this Monday to act.
Republicans have veto-proof majorities, and votes last week indicated they have margins to override his budget veto for the second consecutive year.
Cooper criticized GOP leaders for not spending more on school safety initiatives and for failing to give teachers average pay increases that are higher than what he sought.
Still, the Republican proposal provides average teacher raises of 6.5 percent, and 2019 tax cuts approved previously would still be carried out. Cooper wanted some of those tax cuts blocked.
ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGE
Police arrest North Carolina man for leaving 4 dogs to die
CLAYTON, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have arrested a man who they say moved away from a home and left four dogs behind to die in cages.
Clayton police say neighbors alerted them to a foul smell coming from a home, and when officers went inside, they found three dead dogs inside crates and a fourth barely alive.
Doctors euthanized the fourth dog to prevent further suffering. Two of the dead dogs were taken to the NC State Veterinary Center for necropsies, while the third dog was too decomposed to be tested.
Authorities charged 53-year-old Willis Wayne Hodges with four felony counts of animal cruelty. Following his arrest Tuesday, Hodges is being held in the Johnston County jail under a $100,000 secured bond. It couldn’t be determined if he has an attorney.
Charter school creation for 4 towns gets final approval
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Four North Carolina municipalities now have the authority to apply for and to operate charter schools.
The General Assembly gave final approval Wednesday to the measure following a House vote giving the option to the Charlotte-area towns of Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville and Cornelius.
The Senate agreed earlier this week to the bill. Since it’s a local measure, the bill isn’t subject to Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.
Elected officials in the towns requested the right to build non-traditional public schools and give enrollment preferences to students living in their town limits. They say the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system has failed to build new local schools while others remain overcrowded.
Opponents say the measure sets a precedent for other towns to seek the same authority and will exacerbate racial segregation in classrooms.
CHARLOTTE AIRPORT-HANDGUN SEIZED
Loaded handgun seized at North Carolina airport checkpoint
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Transportation Security Administration officers have seized a handgun from a man trying to board a flight at a North Carolina airport.
A news release said the man was trying to board a plane Wednesday at Charlotte Douglas International Airport when the gun was detected in his carry-on bag on the checkpoint X-ray machine.
An officer notified Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, who cited the man on a local charge of carrying a weapon on airport property.
It’s the 29th instance in which a handgun was seized at Charlotte Douglas in 2018. In 2017, officers seized 68 firearms.