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North Carolina lawmakers to study school district break-ups
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina lawmakers are set to study the idea of breaking up some school districts.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports a newly formed joint legislative study committee is scheduled to report by May 1 on whether to recommend passing legislation to divide previously merged districts.
Primary sponsors of the bill to create the committee are Republican Reps. Bill Brawley and John Bradford of Mecklenburg County and Rep. Chris Malone of Wake County, also a Republican.
Supporters of the bill say the state should look at what’s the most effective size for school districts while opponents say it could lead to resegregation of schools.
Wake County is the nation’s 15th largest school system and the state’s biggest with 160,429 students. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is second in the state with 147,000 students.
NEWBORN DEATH-MAN CHARGED
Police accuse North Carolina man of killing 17-day old girl
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have charged a man in the death of a 17-day-old girl.
Multiple media outlets report the Kannapolis Police Department has charged 39-year-old Maurice Lavon Daniels with first-degree murder, child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and an order for arrest.
Kannapolis police said they received a Department of Social Services referral regarding a possible assault on a 17-day old girl, who died Monday. An autopsy is planned to determine the child’s exact cause of death.
A warrant said the infant suffered abusive head trauma and a broken clavicle.
Daniels was arrested at a Charlotte motel. He is being held without bond in the Cabarrus County jail. It’s not known if he has an attorney.
McCrory, other Republicans baring down on $58M pipeline fund
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Former Gov. Pat McCrory and other North Carolina Republicans want more answers about an agreement between Democratic successor Roy Cooper and Atlantic Coast Pipeline builders over a $58 million fund.
McCrory has criticized the mitigation fund negotiated between utilities creating the pipeline and Cooper’s office. Cooper’s administration says the agreement was reached separately from the water permit state regulators issued recently and payments are voluntary.
McCrory wants an ethics investigation of Cooper, telling The News & Observer of Raleigh on Tuesday the fund at a minimum gives the impression of payments for the permit.
Legislation given final approval Tuesday and heading to Cooper overrules the agreement so fund dollars go to public schools. Republican lawmakers also want Cooper’s legislative lobbyist to answer written questions about the agreement by Thursday.
ALLIGATOR RIVER BRIDGE
Alligator River Bridge to be closed for 1 week in March
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina transportation officials say the Alligator River Bridge will close for one week in March so work on the swing-span drawbridge can be completed.
The N.C. Department of Transportation says in a news release that the bridge between Tyrrell and Dare counties will close on Wednesday, March 14 and is scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, March 20. During the closure, work crews will complete the electrical and mechanical swing span repairs that were started during the previous bridge closure in January.
The work is part of an extensive renovation project designed to extend the life of the 58-year-old bridge.
The drawbridge will also be closed to boat navigation.
During the closure, NCDOT will have detour and variable message signs in place to guide motorists through alternate routes.
CAPE HATTERAS LIGHTHOUSE REPAIRS
Iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse goes dark for repairs
BUXTON, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has gone dark for about a month while officials await custom-made parts for storm damage repairs.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nate Cox, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman, said the light has been off since mid-January after machinery was damaged by storms. He said replacement parts are being made by a company in Ohio and should arrive soon. Cox compared the process to finding parts for an antique car. The lighthouse was built in 1870, replacing an earlier structure.
Cox said modern ships use GPS and digital mapping so the repairs haven’t sidelined a primary navigation tool.
The current outage, although unusually long, should be shorter than several months in 1999 when the lighthouse went dark so it could be moved.
Cooper unveils North Carolina workforce development plans
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper says upgrading North Carolina’s workforce is a big deal for his administration, so he’s laying out how he wants to make citizens ready for jobs today and prepared for future industries.
Cooper laid out his “NC Job Ready” initiative Tuesday while speaking at a career and technical education high school in Raleigh.
Some of his workforce priorities overlap his public education efforts to raise the graduation rate and increase the number of residents with post-secondary education or credentials. He wants easier access for training in high-demand fields, better internet and expanded workplace and employer-led learning opportunities.
A program Cooper announced last month called “Hometown Strong” to connect rural and small-town communities to public and private economic development assistance is also part of the NC Job Ready blueprint.
CLASS SIZES-THE LATEST
The Latest: House, Senate adjourn, plan to return in May
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina General Assembly is officially on hiatus for the next three months, as long as the courts or a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper doesn’t force them back.
The House and Senate adjourned Tuesday with both chambers approving a resolution they won’t return to Raleigh for votes again until May 16.
Lawmakers left behind on Cooper’s desk one bill – a wide-ranging proposal that creates a solution for school districts and new class-size limits next fall. But it also includes items involving the state elections and ethics board and a proposed natural gas pipeline many Democrats aren’t happy about.
A court also could rule elections board changes don’t comply with a state Supreme Court opinion, forcing lawmakers to return.
The General Assembly adjourned without addressing competing House and Senate measures involving the chemical called GenX.
North Carolina state Rep. John Blust won’t seek re-election
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina Republican who’s served in the General Assembly for 20 years isn’t seeking re-election.
Rep. John Blust of Greensboro made his announcement Tuesday on the House floor just before the legislature adjourned until May. This year’s candidate filing began Monday.
Blust served in the Senate for 2 1/2 years in the mid-1990s. He got elected in 2000 to the House, where he was known to publicly critique leadership and the legislative process when both Democrats and Republicans were in charge. Blust said he regretted being unable to force dramatic changes to devolve power from a few key positions.
The 63-year-old lawyer and accountant said he had considered not running for months, but the idea took hold when redistricting performed by federal judges recently put him in an unfavorable district.