Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
TEACHER BITING INVESTIGATION
Mom: Teacher bit her 4-year-old’s finger, causing infection
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WALKERTOWN, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina are investigating a parent’s report of a teacher biting her 4-year-old daughter.
Dominique Davis tells the Winston-Salem Journal she contacted Middle Fork Elementary School staff after noticing dried blood on her daughter’s hand Jan. 24. She says school officials said her daughter injured herself on a paper-towel dispenser, but her daughter later said a teacher in her pre-K special-needs class had bitten her finger. Davis says a human bite caused an infection, and another finger was broken.
Forsyth County Chief Deputy Brad Stanley said Tuesday the sheriff’s office and Child Protective Services are investigating the allegations.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools spokesman Brent Campbell says officials are conducting an internal investigation. No disciplinary actions have been taken.
Davis says her child is enrolled at a new school.
North Carolina lawmakers returning for work, possible votes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina lawmakers will soon return to work after keeping the General Assembly session in a holding pattern for weeks while Republicans negotiated some bills and awaited court rulings.
The Senate and House have floor meetings Wednesday, and a spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger says senators could vote on legislation. A Senate committee scheduled confirmation meetings for some of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s appointees. House and Senate Republicans have said other floor votes could occur at least Thursday and Friday.
The uncertainty stems largely from court decisions affecting judicial primaries and redistricting. The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday ruled on General Assembly boundaries approved by a three-judge panel.
The last floor votes occurred Jan. 10. Lawmakers have held perfunctory sessions every few days to keep the work session going.
FRENCH BROAD-FUEL SPILL
At least 1,000 gallons of oil spill into N. Carolina river
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – At least 1,000 gallons of petroleum fuel has spilled into a river in North Carolina.
The Asheville-Citizen Times reports authorities warn people to stay out of the French Broad River following Sunday’s spill in Asheville. North Carolina Division of Waste Management spokeswoman Laura Leonard says the oil spilled from an above-ground storage tank at the Mountain Energy Bulk Fuel Facility, around 100 feet (30 meters) from the river.
Asheville Fire Department spokeswoman Kelley Klope says the department patched the hole and placed salvage drums under the tank to contain the flow.
Klope estimates 4,000 gallons spilled into the French Broad, while Leonard says the figure is closer to 1,000 gallons.
The state health department hasn’t reported any fish kills. An oil sheen is visible for 2 miles (3 kilometers).
MIDDLE-AGED WHITE DEATHS
Study: N Carolina midlife whites dying more from ‘despair’
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Researchers at East Carolina University have found that middle-aged whites in North Carolina are dying at an unprecedented rate.
The university said in a release the study published in the North Carolina Medical Journal found a nearly 6 percent increase in the mortality of whites aged 45 to 54 from 2000 to 2013, and a 30 percent decrease in the mortality rate of midlife nonwhites.
Lead author Dr. Chris Mansfield attributed a large portion of the mortality increase to “deaths of despair,” a classification that includes suicide, liver disease and drug overdose.
The midlife white death rate saw the largest increase in North Carolina’s 40 most economically distressed counties.
Mansfield says the study’s findings reflect national trends, but midlife white life expectancy in Canada and Europe increased during that time.
Woman pleads guilty to stealing $3M from N Carolina hospital
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina woman accused of stealing more than $3 million from a hospital has pleaded guilty.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement that 46-year-old Kimberly Russell Hobson entered her plea on federal charges of wire fraud, bank and identity theft Tuesday. The Winston-Salem Journal reports Hobson was accused of embezzling the money from High Point Regional Hospital from 2003 to 2017 while serving as its finance director.
A court record says the transactions appeared on internal records as payroll payments to doctors.
She was also accused of using hospital accounts to make payments on her credit cards and loans. Investigators say she bought luxury cars and gold coins with some of the money.
She faces up to 32 years in prison when she’s sentenced in May.
North Carolina deputy fired after arrest for bank robbery
(Information from: The Dispatch, http://www.the-dispatch.com)
LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff’s deputy has been arrested in connection with a bank robbery and fired from his job.
The Dispatch of Lexington reports Davidson County Sheriff David Grice said Jeff Athey had been arrested on Tuesday for a bank robbery in Rowan County, and was fired once the information was verified.
Grice said no one was injured. The sheriff said he was “as shocked and appalled as anyone else at Mr. Athey’s behavior.
Local media outlets report Athey is accused of robbing an F&M Bank branch in Rockwell. He was arrested around 4 p.m. No further word on his status was available Tuesday night.
Supreme Court blocks some redrawn North Carolina districts
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked some but not all of the North Carolina legislative districts that federal judges redrew for this year’s elections.
The justices partially granted Tuesday the request of Republican lawmakers who argue House and Senate maps they voted for last summer were legal and didn’t need to be altered.
A three-judge panel determined those GOP-approved boundaries contained racial bias from maps approved in 2011 and violated the state constitution. So the judges hired an expert who changed about two dozen districts in all. The judges approved them last month.
The Supreme Court says the district changes made in and around Charlotte and Raleigh because of state constitutional concerns are blocked, but changes elsewhere related to racial bias must be used when candidate filing begins next week.
TRASH HAULER COMPLAINTS
County gives waste hauler 30 days to address complaints
(Information from: Times-News, http://www.blueridgenow.com)
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A trash hauler has 30 days to clean up its act or lose its permit in a North Carolina county.
The Times-News of Hendersonville reports residents have sent the Henderson County Board of Commissioners a slew of complaints following Waste Pro’s takeover of routes servicing 8,000 residences in Henderson and Transylvania counties, a significant increase from its previous portfolio of 800 homes.
The board gave the company a 30-day notice Monday to address concerns it’s mixing trash in with recycling and failing to pick up trash along its designated routes.
Waste Pro Division Manager John Witherspoon told the board the company will rectify errors within 30 days, and credit customers for the weeks trash wasn’t picked up.
Waste Pro is one of 14 permitted residential waste haulers in the county.