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SEA TURTLE PROTECTION
NOAA almost done collecting info about future of leatherback
The federal government is almost done collecting information about a decision that could change the conservation status of the world’s largest turtle.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has received a petition from a fishing group asking that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean’s leatherback sea turtles be listed as “threatened,” but not endangered, under the Endangered Species Act. The agency is scheduled to complete collecting information and comments about the subject on Monday.
Leatherbacks can weigh 2,000 pounds and live all over the world’s oceans. They have been listed as endangered by the U.S. for more than four decades.
NOAA is expected to make a decision about the turtles later this year. Fishermen say better information about the turtle’s population is needed because rules about its conservation impact commercial fishing.
TRAIN CRASH-SOUTH CAROLINA-PASSENGERS
Amtrak crash: Screams, cries, awakening to a ‘nightmare’
CAYCE, S.C. (AP) – Survivors of the weekend crash of an Amtrak train that slammed into a freight train in South Carolina have described seats ripping loose, screams, crying and awakening to a nightmare.
Passenger Eric Larkin told The Associated Press he woke up as he slammed into seats in front of him during the crash early Sunday. He and other passengers then reported hearing screams and crying, and seeing bloodied passengers trying to get off of the crumpled Amtrak train in the pre-dawn hours.
The North Carolina resident says he left the train in a daze, hours later, not knowing where he was. He was walking with a limp hours later.
Larkin says it’s a blessing to be alive. He says: “I thought that I was dead.”
North Carolina early childhood investment focus at forum
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Early childhood education and health care and their connections to a strong economy and well-trained workforce are the key issues before participants at the annual Emerging Issues Forum put on by North Carolina State University.
The two-day conference in downtown Raleigh will attract 700 people for discussions on how to fund such early-age programs from the public and private sectors, as well as on their long-term benefits for children.
Speakers at the “kidonomics” forum include Gov. Roy Cooper, SAS (sass) chief executive Jim Goodnight, other elected and corporate officials, early childhood education experts and regulators.
Former four-term Gov. Jim Hunt helped assemble the first conference in the mid-1980s. It’s now operated through N.C. State’s Institute for Emerging Issues.
PRISON GUARD KILLED
DA wants death penalty for inmate charged in officer’s death
WINDSOR, N.C. (AP) – Prosecutors want the death penalty for an inmate accused of beating to death a correctional officer who rushed to extinguish fire set in a prison dormitory trash can.
Multiple media organizations report that District Attorney Valerie Asbell last month advised a Bertie County judge she would seek the death penalty against Craig Wissink. He’s accused of beating to death Sgt. Meggan Callahan with the fire extinguisher she used to douse the fire inside Bertie Correctional Institution last year.
The 36-year-old Wissink was already serving a life sentence for a June 2000 murder in Fayetteville.
Callahan was the first of five North Carolina prison workers to die last year in two attacks by inmates. State prisons have seen severe staff shortages, putting workers in danger.
Army: Paratrooper, 19, found dead in North Carolina
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division has been found dead in North Carolina.
News outlets report the division’s report doesn’t release any details about the circumstances of 19-year-old Pfc. Connor T. Brown’s death. An investigation is ongoing.
The Chesterton, Indiana, native joined the Army in June 2016 and was stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville.
Lt. Col. Robert McChrystal, commander of the 1st Battalion, 508th PIR, says the service is “forever grateful” for Brown’s decision to volunteer during wartime.
SERIES OF FIRES
North Carolina investigators find 6 fires within 3 hours
REIDSVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Police and fire officials in a small, North Carolina city are investigating why they were forced to respond to six fires within a three-hour span.
Reidsville officials say the series of suspicious blazes were reported between midnight and 3 a.m. Sunday.
There have been no reported injuries in the fires.
Attorneys say evidence tampering in James Jordan murder
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The killer serving life in prison for murdering NBA legend Michael Jordan’s father has seen his bid for a new trial postponed for months after a new state law forced off the judge weighing his request.
The Fayetteville Observer reports the law affects Daniel Andre Green, who with an accomplice killed James Jordan along a North Carolina road. His body was dumped in a South Carolina swamp.
The law stops retired judges who return to the bench to fill judicial gaps from taking lengthy cases unless they involve business disputes.
Retired Superior Court Judge Michael Beale said he had worked on the Jordan murder case for more than a year before he was removed in September.
Green’s attorney says someone tampered with the dead man’s shirt after his autopsy.
Feds subpoena SC school district in construction probe
(Information from: The Island Packet, http://www.islandpacket.com)
BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) – Federal investigators want a South Carolina school district to turn over records related to construction bids and cost overruns at a pair of new buildings.
The Island Packet of Hilton Head reports federal prosecutors subpoenaed the records last month from the Beaufort County School District.
School board members say federal investigators seek information related to two Bluffton schools where construction costs ballooned by millions of dollars more than initial estimates by Superintendent Jeff Moss.
A Greenville, North Carolina-based architecture firm designed the schools, its first such projects in South Carolina. Hite Associates previously worked with Moss when he was superintendent in two North Carolina school districts.
The school board says the district is not the investigation’s target.
Moss has said costs rose due to construction complications and expanded building size.