Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
COAL ASH-DUKE ENERGY-THE LATEST
The Latest: Duke Energy wants tainted groundwater case ended
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina appeals court is deciding whether to keep alive a five-year-old lawsuit trying to force Duke Energy Corp. to clean up groundwater contaminated by its coal ash pits.
The Charlotte-based electricity utility told Court of Appeals judges Thursday the lawsuit should be dismissed. Duke Energy lawyers say the company is following deadlines set by a state law, and only that law can enforce cleanup.
Conservation groups pushing the lawsuit say it adds pressure on Duke Energy to clean up groundwater pollution that’s lasted for decades.
Duke admits coal ash has tainted underground water supplies, but says it has not harmed neighbors using water wells.
Duke Energy last month agreed to pay an $84,000 penalty and stop potentially toxic waste from leaking from three plant sites.
Longtime North Carolina Rep. Michaux won’t seek re-election
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Rep. Mickey Michaux, who currently is North Carolina’s longest-serving state legislator, says he won’t seek re-election this fall.
The Democrat from Durham first joined the House in 1973. The 87-year-old attorney announced on the House floor Thursday he won’t seek a 21st two-year term.
Michaux was a civil rights activist during the 1960s. While in the House, Michaux served as senior budget chairman and a host of other leadership positions. He fought to preserve voting rights protections and warned against changes to election laws he said would harm black voters.
Michaux left the House when he became a U.S. attorney in the late 1970s and later ran unsuccessfully for Congress. He returned to the House in 1985.
Michaux didn’t give a specific reason for his decision. Candidate filing starts Monday.
Man separately accused of letting dog freeze, assault
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
HOPE MILLS, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man is accused of assault and letting his dog freeze to death in unrelated incidents.
The Fayetteville Observer reports 27-year-old Alexander Raphael Grose was charged Wednesday with felony cruelty to animals in the Jan. 8 death of his dog. The arrest warrant in the Cumberland County magistrate’s office says he left the dog tethered to a post with insufficient shelter during the regional cold snap.
He’s also charged with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury. Jamal Thomas suffered fractures around his eye, bleeding in the eye and other injuries in the Dec. 25 incident.
It’s unclear whether Grose has a lawyer.
Museum reports $10K emerald theft weeks after it disappeared
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A $10,000 emerald has been reported missing from a North Carolina science museum, more than three weeks after it was last seen.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that a representative from the Asheville Museum of Science reported the theft Jan. 24, although the Asheville police report lists the last known secure date of the emerald as Jan. 1. The case’s status is now listed as “closed/leads exhausted.”
In an emailed statement, the museum’s executive director, Anna Priest, says the museum wasn’t broken into and nothing else is missing. She said the museum will increase security measures.
The newspaper says the museum declined to comment further on Thursday.
Final compensation check sent to NC sterilization victims
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The third and final compensation payment has been mailed to sterilization victims, marking the end of a 15-year pursuit of financial help for people who suffered under North Carolina’s eugenics program.
The state Department of Administration said in a news release that it mailed letters and an enclosed check of almost $10,500 to victims Thursday. Victims with approved claims received their first payment of $20,000 each in October 2014. A second payment of $15,000 each was mailed in November 2015.
About 7,600 people were sterilized under North Carolina’s eugenics program before it ended in 1974. The N.C. Industrial Commission certified 220 victims.
The payments were made after a decision by the N.C. Court of Appeals rejecting arguments from the heirs of some victims about the law.
CLASS SIZES-THE LATEST
The Latest: Republicans grill Cooper lobbyist on pipeline
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper’s new legislative lobbyist got a surprise when he appeared at a joint House and Senate budget hearing.
Legislative director Lee Lilley got grilled by Republican lawmakers Thursday for nearly an hour about an agreement Cooper’s office reached with utilities seeking to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. That deal would set aside $58 million for environmental mitigation and possible economic development along the pipeline route.
Complicating matters is that Lilley previously worked for a consulting firm that lobbied in Washington for Dominion Resources, one of the pipeline’s developers. GOP lawmakers questioned whether the mitigation fund had been mandated in return for regulators in Cooper’s office issuing a key pipeline permit. Lilley said the two actions were separate and the mitigation fund voluntary.
Democrats in the budget hearing objected to the strident questioning of Lilley, who said he had been on the job only five days.
North Carolina A&T’s undefeated team honored at legislature
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina A&T State University football team has been lauded by members of the General Assembly for an unforgettable season.
The House and Senate passed a resolution Thursday with Aggies players, staff and the school chancellor in attendance. They honored the Greensboro university for its undefeated record and Celebration Bowl victory in December that crowned the Aggies with their fourth Historically Black Colleges and Universities national championship.
Legislators praised the school for its football prowess and strong academics. The resolution identified famous alumni, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, current U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, and astronaut Ronald McNair, who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.
Obama-backed committee targeting races in 11 states
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A Democratic group backed by former President Barack Obama plans to invest millions of dollars in state-level elections in 11 states this year, with its heaviest focus on Ohio.
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, says this year’s election cycle is critical to affecting the congressional redistricting process. It’s the first cycle whose winners will participate in drawing congressional maps for the decade starting in 2021.
Electoral targets the group announced Wednesday include 11 states, nine gubernatorial races, 18 legislative chambers, two ballot initiatives and two down-ballot races. Eight more states are on the committee’s watch list.
The group is targeting six areas in bellwether Ohio, including governor, auditor and secretary of state. All are members of the map-drawing apportionment board.