Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
North Carolina man pleads guilty in wreck that killed friend
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A man has pleaded guilty for a wreck in North Carolina that killed his friend on New Year’s Day.
News outlets reported that 25-year-old Steven Michael Derengowski of Wilmington pleaded guilty Wednesday to death by motor vehicle in New Hanover County Court.
Derengowski was charged in a wreck that killed his friend, 25-year-old Billy Ray Kolasa.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Carriker said Derengowski missed three warning signs before driving at 80 mph (128 kph) into a massive yellow crane being used to repair a bridge that crosses Lords Creek. Prosecutors say his blood alcohol level was 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit in North Carolina.
Derengowski has been sentenced to between six and nine years in prison.
Mayor in North Carolina claims racial, police bias
SHARPSBURG, N.C. (AP) – The mayor of a small town in eastern North Carolina says he’s the subject of racial bias.
News outlets report Sharpsburg Mayor Robert L. Williams Jr. stormed out of a meeting earlier this week, saying other town officials and police are biased against him because he’s black.
Williams was charged by a town police officer with driving while impaired May 8, the day he was elected mayor of the town of 2,000 people about 55 miles (88 kilometers) east of Raleigh.
The North Carolina Police Benevolent Association has written the town complaining that Williams has aimed “racially charged insults and inappropriate hand gestures” at town officers.
Williams would not talk about the allegations Wednesday, referring a reporter to an attorney he would not name.
Kroger closures in N Carolina to affect 1,500 workers
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – National grocery chain Kroger will shutter all stores in North Carolina’s Triangle region in a move that will affect around 1,500 workers.
News outlets report that the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company announced Wednesday that all 14 stores will be closed by Aug. 14.
The president of Kroger’s mid-Atlantic division, Jerry Clontz, says the Raleigh-Durham market is oversaturated with grocery stores, inhibiting the chain’s growth. Kroger entered the market in 1989.
The future of at least 10 locations has already been determined, as Kroger has entered into contracts with Food Lion, Crunch Fitness and Harris Teeter, the last of which the chain owns.
As for the affected employees, Clontz says they’ll be offered job fairs and job placement services. The company says more than half the employees are part-time.
SPEEDY SESSION-THE LATEST
The Latest: Party recommendation on Senate vacancy approved
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The General Assembly has decided new restrictions should be placed upon North Carolina’s governor when the governor names someone to fill temporarily a U.S. Senate seat vacated by death or resignation.
The House gave final legislative approval Wednesday night to a measure requiring 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.
Currently the governor only must choose someone affiliated with the same political party as the outgoing senator. The appointee will keep serving until the seat is open at the next scheduled statewide election.
The Senate approved the amendment Tuesday. The House vote was 71-39. Gov. Roy Cooper now must decide whether to sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.
POLICE SHOOTING-NORTH CAROLINA
Officer cleared for shooting man with knife in N Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Prosecutors say they will not charge a police officer who shot a man who charged at him with a knife in February in North Carolina.
District Attorney Spencer Merriweather III said in a report issued Wednesday that Officer Daniel Flynn was justified in fearing for his life when 27-year-old Charlie Shoupe threatened him as well as other Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers and firefighters and bystanders.
The report says Shoupe’s mother called 911 to report he was having mental problems and was cutting his arms with a steak knife. Later in the call, she says he is trying to attack firefighters and was yelling for police to shoot him.
The report says Flynn told investigators he shot Shoupe because he feared the unarmed firefighters and witnesses filming the incident were at risk.
Rep. Carney facing new health challenge with cancer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A longtime North Carolina lawmaker who’s suffered heart troubles for years that nearly caused her death at the Legislative Building is facing a new health challenge.
Eight-term Rep. Becky Carney of Charlotte told colleagues on the House floor Wednesday she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer. Carney says she’s already had surgery and will undergo chemotherapy starting next week. Carney says the cancer isn’t a “death sentence.”
In 2009, Carney went into cardiac arrest in her legislative office, ultimately needing CPR and a defibrillator to restart her heart. Then she had open heart surgery in 2015 and now carries a small backpack containing a mechanical pump that assists with blood flow.
The 73-year-old Carney is seeking re-election in November.
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.