Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
Chimney Rock Park reopens in western North Carolina
CHIMNEY ROCK, N.C. (AP) – A park in western North Carolina is reopening after a retaining wall at a parking lot collapsed last month after a week of heavy rain.
Chimney Rock State Park is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Asheville and reopened the Hickory Nut Falls Trail on Tuesday. That trail was the last piece of park property that was closed after the record rainfall during the Memorial Day weekend.
Park superintendent James Ledgerwood said damage to the park infrastructure was estimate at about $300,000. The park usually gets about 250,000 visitors annually.
Ledgerwood says a contractor has been in the park to deal with boulders that moved because of the rain.
Chimney Rock became a state park in 2007, though the site was established in 1916.
Company meets with North Carolina neighbors to build trust
ST. PAULS, N.C. (AP) – A chemical company executive says he hopes residents near a North Carolina plant will one day be proud to have the operation in their community.
Paul Kirsch is president of fluoroproducts for Chemours and spoke Tuesday night at a meeting about the company’s plant in St. Pauls in Bladen County.
News outlets report the more than 120 people at the meeting were skeptical.
North Carolina officials began investigating Chemours about a year ago, after news that researchers had discovered a compound called GenX in the Cape Fear River downstream from the plant. GenX is made at the plant and has been found in private wells around the plant.
GenX has been linked to cancer in animals. GenX is used by companies that make nonstick cookware and other products.
SPIRIT AIRLINES-NORTH CAROLINA
Spirit Airlines to fly from North Carolina to Florida
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Spirit Airlines will be offering new flights from North Carolina to Florida in September.
Spirit plans to offer flights three times a week between Piedmont Triad International Airport near Greensboro and Orlando International Airport starting Sept. 7.
The Miramar, Florida-based airline will also offer flights twice a week from the Greensboro-area airport to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and to Tampa International Airport on Sept. 6.
Piedmont Triad International Airport is the 66th airport in Spirit’s network.
Spirit operates more than 500 daily flights to 65 destinations in the United States, Latin America and Caribbean.
Allegiant also offers non-daily flights from the Greensboro area airport to Florida at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Orlando-Sanford International Airport.
North Carolina officer faces more shoplifting charges
(Information from: WBTV-TV, http://www.wbtv.com/)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A police officer in North Carolina charged with shoplifting from a grocery store faces more charges.
WBTV reported Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Samuel Yaravitz faces 25 more larceny charges.
Yaravitz was arrested in May and charged with shoplifting at a grocery store between Feb. 13 and May 9. It was not immediately clear if the new charges also result from thefts at the same store.
Yaravitz was a patrol officer assigned who was hired by Charlotte police in 1999. He’s been suspended without pay.
Police Chief Kerr Putney said he was disappointed that one of his officers failed to meet department standards.
A court date on the new charges is set next month. There was no record of an attorney on the charges. Police say more charges are possible.
Legislature considering change on US Senate vacancies
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislators believe political parties should have more say over whom the governor picks to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy.
The Senate voted Tuesday evening for a measure that would require the governor to appoint someone from a list of three people recommended by the executive committee of the party with which the outgoing senator was affiliated. The party would need to offer options within 30 days.
A similar version of the bill cleared the House last year but needs one more House vote before it could go to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.
Legislative staffers say North Carolina is among 36 states where the governor’s temporary appointee remains on the job until the next scheduled statewide election. Only Hawaii currently requires the governor to choose from a party’s list.
Road-building debt bill approved by N Carolina legislature
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A method to accelerate local and regional road-building projects in North Carolina by authorizing up to $3 billion in debt has made it through the General Assembly.
The legislation that permits the borrowing is heading to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk following Tuesday’s House vote. Cooper is expected to sign the bill, which passed the Senate last week.
Cooper’s transportation department asked the Republican-led General Assembly to permit the issuance of what’s called “special indebtedness.” The borrowing is not subject to a voter referendum and could commit the state to additional debt payments over the next 25 years. It would be repaid through dedicated transportation taxes and DMV fees.
Rep. John Torbett says the bill will keep road-building levels stable while lawmakers ultimately locate new revenue sources.
Legislators OK moving N Carolina presidential-year primaries
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Primary elections in 2020 and future even-numbered years – including presidential primaries – would be permanently moved from May to March in legislation heading to Gov. Roy Cooper for his consideration.
The General Assembly gave final legislative approval to the shift in an overwhelming Senate vote Tuesday. The House and Senate passed slightly different versions in 2017, but no action had occurred for a year.
The legislature moved the 2016 primary to March to attract presidential candidates to visit North Carolina and to be a more significant player in the nomination process. This year’s primary reverted to May.
The bill also would move the candidate filing period for even-numbered year elections from February to December of the previous year. This would apply to candidates for statewide, legislative and local offices.
No. 2 hog state moves to greatly help agribusiness in suits
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Lawmakers in the country’s No. 2 hog-raising state are pushing ahead with protection for agribusiness by all but blocking neighbors who suffer nuisances from suing farm operations.
A North Carolina House committee on Tuesday approved the proposal that was unveiled and passed the Senate in the past week.
Supporters say sharply restricting nuisance lawsuits against agribusinesses will keep alive rural towns that turned to livestock after the tobacco and textile collapsed.
Opponents say nuisance lawsuits are one of the last tools left to force change from an industrial-scale hog industry that hasn’t changed despite decades of complaints about open-air waste pits emptied by spraying on fields.
A federal jury recently hit pork giant Smithfield Foods with $51 million in penalties after neighbors complained for years about smells and other nuisances.