Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT:
Residents sue North Carolina city to repair hurricane damage
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Some homeowners are suing a North Carolina city to get dams that were compromised by Hurricane Matthew repaired.
The Fayetteville Observer reported residents from four neighborhoods say the city should rebuild the dams even though they are privately owned.
The residents contend the dams and lakes had become part of Fayetteville’s storm-water and flood-control infrastructure and the city should replace them.
An attorney for the city would not talk about the lawsuit.
Hurricane Matthew caused extensive flooding and damage in Fayetteville in October 2016.
City staff members said last month Fayetteville cannot spend tax dollars on private property unless it’s for the good of the city in general. The city has not helped pay for repairs of privately owned dams unless there was a city-owned street on top of them.
North Carolina teacher gets probation for sex with student
LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A former middle school teacher in North Carolina has been placed on probation after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a teenager boy nine years ago.
News outlets reported 51-year-old Lee Annette Williams of Lexington has pleaded guilty to one count of felony crime against nature.
Davidson County prosecutors dropped other charges against Williams in exchange for her guilty plea. Williams had also been charged with of statutory rape, statutory sex offense and indecent liberties with a minor.
Judge Anna Mills Wagoner placed Williams on supervised probation for two years.
She was accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy who had been her student between in 2009. Officials said the abuse did not occur on school grounds.
Williams had been a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Ledford Middle School in Thomasville.
Regional American Airlines carrier cancels 100s of flights
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – American Airlines says a technical problem that forced one of its regional carriers to cancel hundreds of flights has been resolved.
A company statement says American’s PSA Airlines carrier canceled 275 flights Thursday and around 400 flights Friday because of the technical issue. Travel through Charlotte-Douglas International Airport has been particularly affected, where nearly half of PSA’s Friday flights were canceled.
The airline says the problem with a system that affects crew scheduling and dispatch operations was resolved and service was expected to resume at noon on Friday.
The airline says it’s working to accommodate passengers on American flights and other regional carriers.
There were no problems with American Airlines itself or other regional carriers.
Future of health benefit bill uncertain following House vote
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The fate of a proposal allowing North Carolina-based nonprofit organizations to offer health benefit plans not subject to state insurance regulations is uncertain because House lawmakers wouldn’t agree to the Senate idea out of hand.
The House declined Thursday night to accept changes senators made to a House measure that originally focused on how to recruit more school psychologists.
The new provisions envision groups offering coverage that doesn’t necessarily comply with the 2010 federal health care law. North Carolina Farm Bureau and the NC Realtors have pushed for the language. Critics say the plans would offer weak health coverage.
Key House Republicans said Thursday more time was needed to review the idea. It’s unclear if Senate and House leaders are willing to work out differences before the session ends.
Bill addressing mass violence threats gets legislative OK
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislation now heading to Gov. Roy Cooper would give harsher punishments for threatening mass violence at a school or place of worship, but also give extra help to accused young people.
The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday for a measure making such threats a felony. They are currently misdemeanors.
First-time offenders under age 20 could reach an agreement whereby a judge would dismiss a charge in exchange for community service, probation and mental evaluation and possible treatment. The case ultimately could be removed from their records.
Someone accused of making the threats could be held for 48 hours while a judge determines release conditions.
Sen. Tamara Barringer of Cary says the bill represents a chance to intervene before violence occurs and to keep schools safe.
Bill blocking future hog farm nuisance suits finalized
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina legislators have finalized tougher restrictions upon neighbors of hog farms seeking to sue for damages because of the stench and other nuisances coming from industrial-scale livestock operations.
The state Senate agreed Thursday night to accept House changes to legislation spurred on by the agribusiness industry following the results of the first of nearly two dozen lawsuits filed against pork producers. Smithfield Foods was hit with a nearly $51 million verdict – cut to about $3 million because of state limits on punitive damages.
Language within the bill would all but block other neighbors from suing the operations in the future. Farmers have filled Legislative Building galleries this week supporting the changes.
The bill now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper, who hasn’t said whether he’ll veto it.
Latest N Carolina opioid abuse legislation going to Cooper
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly has sent to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk the latest legislation addressing opioid abuse by creating new crimes against medical workers and granting certain police investigators easier access to prescription records.
The Senate quickly voted 41-3 on Thursday for the measure authored by the House, which held extensive debate on the measure Wednesday. House members were divided on a provision that would allow an investigator to get records from the state’s controlled substance database without a warrant or court order.
The measure also makes it a felony for medical professionals to embezzle or divert pain medicines designated for a patient for their personal use or sale.
Attorney General Josh Stein backs the bill. He also worked with legislators in passing an opioid bill last year.
Early voting bill would change North Carolina schedule, time
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Republican lawmakers are looking again at changing the rules on early voting, a popular idea which has prompted legal action.
A House committee voted Thursday to change the 17-day early-voting schedule and require more consistent voting times during that period.
The proposal would end the early-voting period statewide on the Friday evening before a primary or election day. Currently counties must offer voting until the Saturday afternoon before the election. Counties also would have to open all of their early voting sites from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and be required to keep uniform hours if sites are open on weekends.
The legislature passed an election law in 2013 reducing the number of early-voting days from 17 to 10, but federal courts struck that down, citing racial bias.