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February 21, 2018
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February 22, 2018
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Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
Procession planned for ‘America’s Pastor,’ Rev. Billy Graham
MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) – The Rev. Billy Graham, the Christian evangelist dubbed “America’s Pastor” who died this week at 99, will lie in repose for two days next week with a funeral to be held March 2.
Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for the public relations firm handling the arrangements for Graham, says the body will be taken Saturday from Asheville to Charlotte, North Carolina. The procession is expected to take 3 1/2 hours, ending at the Billy Graham Library.
Graham died Wednesday at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.
DeMoss says invitations will be extended to President Donald Trump and former presidents. He says Graham’s son Franklin Graham will perform the eulogy.



Billy Graham dies: ‘America’s Pastor,’ adviser to presidents
MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) – As a young man, Billy Graham practiced his sermons by preaching to the alligators and birds in the swamp. At his height years later, he was bringing the word of God into living rooms around the globe via TV and dispensing spiritual counsel – and political advice – to U.S. presidents.
The Rev. Billy Graham, dubbed “America’s Pastor” and the “Protestant Pope,” died Wednesday at his North Carolina home. He was 99 and had achieved a level of influence and reach no other evangelist is ever likely to match.
More than anyone else, the Hollywood-handsome Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the United States.



Sheriff: 8 gang members arrested in N Carolina drug bust
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) – A multi-agency operation has yielded the arrests of eight documented gang members in a drug bust in North Carolina.
Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson told news outlets the Tar River Regional Drug Task Force executed a search warrant on a Rocky Mount home Tuesday, seizing 520 bags of heroin, nearly $14,000 cash, three handguns and crack cocaine. Atkinson said the men arrested are part of the Sex Money Murder street gang, a subset of the Bloods.
Lt. E.W. Muse with the sheriff’s office says the house primarily served as a drug distribution center. He said one of the recovered handguns was stolen, while the others had their serial numbers removed.
The eight men are all charged with possession or trafficking of heroin, cocaine or Suboxone, in addition to individual counts.



Rash of dead dogs in trash bags pops up in N Carolina county
(Information from: WNCN-TV.)
WILSON, N.C. (AP) – Several dead dogs have been found dead in trash bags in one North Carolina county within a week.
WNCN-TV reports five dogs have been found in Wilson County since Friday. Wilson County Humane Society President Kim Edmonson says she discovered the latest dead dog on Wednesday afternoon.
The humane society believes the instances are connected.
Edmonson says Wilson County deputies said a dog found Monday was too badly decomposed to investigate, and asked the city sanitation department to dispose of the remains, but they were still there Tuesday.
She said she took that dog to a vet, who determined it was an adult male pit bull mix who died from blunt force trauma.
The sheriff’s office told the station that they’ve turned the case over to an animal cruelty investigator.


North Carolina: Chemours chemical penalties delayed to stick
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina environmental regulators are delaying penalties against a chemical company for discharging compounds with little-researched health but worrying effects until they’re confident a case will stand up in court.
State assistant environment secretary Sheila Holman said Wednesday that regulators are being methodical with the prospect of a court challenge by Chemours in mind.
Holman was responding to questions from legislators investigating why products from the chemical plant near Fayetteville has been found in nearby water wells and public drinking water in Wilmington, nearly 100 miles downriver. Little research exists about the health effects of the company’s chemicals.
The Wilmington, Delaware-based company didn’t respond Wednesday to an invitation to comment. Chemours CEO Mark Vergnano last week told stock analysts the company doesn’t believe the chemical discharges have harmed anyone’s health.



New task force to test, monitor North Carolina river
(Information from: Times-News, http://www.blueridgenow.com)
BREVARD, N.C. (AP) – Environmentalists are using a new task force in western North Carolina to test and monitor for E. coli and sewage leaks draining into the French Broad Watershed.
The Times-News of Hendersonville reports MountainTrue has collected data showing increased levels of E. coli in the watershed. It points to aging infrastructure and leaking private treatment systems as the culprits.
By taking regular water samples, officials hope to identify hot spots and track down the sources of leaks – where human waste is entering local rivers and streams – and end the pollution.
The French Broad Riverkeeper is also involved in keeping an eye on the watershed.
A meeting scheduled for Wednesday was designed to train interested volunteers in proper sampling techniques and given them their own sampling territories.


North Carolina police have no special plans for tournament
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina police department says it’s making no significant changes in its plans before a basketball tournament during which shootings have occurred the past two years.
The Charlotte Observer reports the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said it will be using “the same template” when the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament begins on Feb. 27.
Capt. Norman Garnes told council members during a meeting Tuesday that CMPD won’t have an overbearing presence during the weeklong tournament, adding that “we will be there and ready.”
Shortly before the men’s championship last Feb. 25, CMPD said several dozen rounds were fired from multiple weapons in downtown Charlotte. In 2016, police say someone fired as many as 50 rounds from an AK-47 into the side of the Hyatt Place Hotel, also in downtown Charlotte.


The Latest: Judges hear arguments in special session lawsuit
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A panel of state judges has heard arguments over litigation challenging a December 2016 session of the North Carolina General Assembly where laws were approved that weakened incoming Gov. Roy Cooper.
A government reform group and several voters want the work performed during the special session voided because lawmakers didn’t give adequate notice of the meeting and the chance for citizens to “instruct their representatives.” That phrasing is in the state constitution.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the judges questioned the plaintiffs’ attorney about how much advance notice was needed to be lawful. But lawyer Burton Craige said that didn’t matter in this extreme case – there was only two hours between the announcement and the session’s opening.
Attorneys for the state told the judges that lawmakers followed the rules in convening the session.
The panel didn’t immediately rule from the bench when almost two hours of arguments ended.

AP-WF-02-22-18 1120GMT