News

Elizabeth Edwards Dies

Dec 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards died at her home in Chapel Hill this morning.  She was 61.  Edwards was the estranged wife of former North Carolina Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards.  A family statement says, ``Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth's presence but she remains the heart of this family.''  Elizabeth Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.

Budget Cuts Could Cost Students

Dec 7, 2010

State education leaders are warning lawmakers that double-digit budget cuts will affect university and community college classrooms.

State lawmakers are looking for spending cuts to offset a $3.2 billion shortfall next year.  But higher education officials say a proposal to cut their budgets 10% would mean fewer seats, fewer classrooms, and higher tuition.  UNC Chief Operating Officer Jeff Davies says universities already sustained huge cuts in this year’s budget.  He says schools would have to raise tuition 6.5% just to keep their doors open:

Tobacco workers employed by Lorillard plan to protest at an FDA meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning in Raleigh. The government is reviewing the safety of menthol cigarettes- Lorillard has a market share of about 35 percent of the product. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 317-T in Greensboro is organizing the event. Randy Fulk is the union's international representative. He worked for Lorillard Tobacco for more than 36 years:

Pres. Barack Obama at Forsyth Tech
Jennifer Rotenizer, Winston-Salem Journal

There have been encouraging signs the economy is no longer shrinking – but growing.   President Barack Obama told a crowd in Winston-Salem yesterday he will continue to fight for investments in education and innovation – a move he says will help continue the country’s economic recovery.   The president’s words were welcomed by students and staff at Forsyth Technical Community College where they’re in the business of re-invention and re-training.

Debra Goldman
Wake Schools

The Wake County School Board meets later today. One item on the agenda is a discussion on a revised student assignment plan for next year.

Rep. Tim Moore
NC General Assembly

State Republicans plan to introduce a bill that would require voters in North Carolina to present identification… possibly photo identification… before casting votes. Republicans have tried to pass this sort of bill before. But they’ve been the minority party.  They will take over the House and Senate in January.

President Barack Obama will be in North Carolina today visiting students at Forsyth Technical Community College.

President Obama’s visit is the highlight of a year of celebrations at Forsyth Tech. The community college is 50-years-old.  For the first time in the school’s history – Forsyth Tech has more than 10-thousand students enrolled. Many of the students are laid off workers or those insecure about their current jobs.  Gary Green is president of Forsyth Tech. He says President Obama’s visit means a lot.

New Sheriff In Town

Dec 6, 2010
Calvin Woodard
Calvin Woodard For Sheriff

There’s a new sheriff in Wilson County. For the first time in its history, an African-American will be sworn in to lead the law enforcement effort in the county east of Raleigh.

A new Republican majority on the Wake County Board of Commissioners plans to undo some efforts passed by the old Democratic majority.

A lot is expected to happen later today when the Wake County Commissioners meet for the first time with new members. The Republican Majority will rescind a resolution that expresses “deep concern” over the re-segregation of the Wake County schools.

The county commissioners have financial oversight over the schools.

The anti-re-segregation resolution passed last April.

Warwick Arden
NC State

NC State has hired a provost. Chancellor Randy Woodson announced late this afternoon that Warwick Arden will assume the job as the University’s top academic officer.

Election Turnout Doesn't Match Hype

Dec 3, 2010
Bob Hall
Democracy NC

Despite all the media coverage of last month’s elections, the majority of North Carolina voters did not cast a ballot.

44% of the state’s registered voters cast a ballot in this year’s midterm elections. That’s better than 37% in 2006, but Bob Hall with Democracy North Carolina says it’s still pretty low.

Three soldiers at Fort Bragg received medals today for their bravery during a recent deployment to Afghanistan. Sargeant First Class Marius Orhon received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and Sargeants Erik Crouch and Ryan Schloesser both received Bronze Star Medals with Valor. Crouch is a medic who performed valiantly after his group was attacked by Taliban. Major Matthew Ziglar is the company commander.

All Raleigh City taxi cabs now have flashing lights in case the driver experiences a threatening situation. Police want citizens to call 911 if they see amber lights flashing from a taxi cab's trunk or grille. A city law requires all drivers to have the silent alarm system. Officials adopted the law after an unusually high number of cab robberies in 2008.

reenactment
nchistoricsites.org

State and local officials are unveiling new artifacts today at the Alamance Battleground near Burlington. The items were found over the past year by archeologists, historians and volunteers. Bryan Dalton is the manager of the Alamance Battleground State Historic Site. He says discoveries include musket and cannon shot and other items.

The US Labor Department is suing one of the country’s biggest food distributors for discrimination at its Lumberton facility.  

Sweepstakes Parlors Get Reprieve

Dec 3, 2010
Laura Leslie

The doors will stay open at some video sweepstakes parlors, despite a new state law that took effect this week.

The new ban covers gambling-style games, like keno and slots, as well as any other game that uses a - quote - "entertaining display" to reveal sweepstakes results. A Guilford County judge ruled that last part of the new law is unconstitutionally broad, while a Wake County judge ruled it is constitutional.

Fifty students will be part of the first class of the East Carolina University School of Dentistry this fall. School officials aim to meet the state's demand for more dentists. North Carolina has the fourth lowest dentist-to-population ratio in the country. The school will open 10 clinics in rural areas across North Carolina. Three of those clinics will be in Sylva, Ahoskie and Elizabeth City. Associate Dean Francis Serio says 4th-year students will spend most of their time treating patients in those clinics.

Ben Jealous
NAACP

The NAACP is holding a national education summit in Raleigh this week. The event will be highlighted by a keynote address from Ben Jealous, the president of the national NAACP.

Ben Jealous last spoke in Raleigh in September at the Christian Faith Baptist Church. Jealous announced then that the NAACP was filing a complaint with the federal government against the Wake County Schools.

Chapel Hill town officials are considering permanently moving the public library to University Mall. They voted to put on hold an expansion project at the library’s current site on North Estes Drive. This after the owner of the mall offered to sell the space currently housing Dillard’s department store. Officials estimate the move would save taxpayers close to 4 million dollars.  They say the new location would be more accessible.

Assistant director Mark Bayles has been with the library for 27 years. He speaks fondly of the current location:

Gambling Goes On As Police Weigh Ban

Dec 1, 2010
Still open
Laura Leslie

A new state law that took effect today makes video sweepstakes gambling illegal. But many parlors are still open and operating around the state. One sweepstakes parlor a block away from the Garner Police Station had six gambling customers at 10:30 this morning.

A year ago today a new School Board was sworn-in in Wake County. The four new members represented a new majority, elected by an average margin of 68%. They promised to radically alter the way students were assigned to schools. But nobody expected what was to come over the next twelve months.

New State Laws Take Effect

Dec 1, 2010
Susie, the burned dog who inspired Susie's Law
Laura Leslie

New state laws take effect today on issues ranging from video gambling and Medicaid fraud to animal abuse.

Drivers will be subject to new laws taking effect today. Most involve licensing and license plates. One law adds a potential $100 penalty for having a license plate frame that covers important information on the plate. And commercial driver licenses will now expire after five years because of hazardous materials regulations. And more laws go into effect January 1st.

Marge Howell with the DMV says licensing laws are being relaxed for older drivers:

No More High-Proof Liquor

Nov 30, 2010

North Carolina's ABC Commission has decided that liquor stores in the state will no longer sell 95% grain alcohol.  The state warehouse currently stocks two 190-proof brands, Everclear and Diesel. A recent study by the Mecklenburg ABC board found that most of its grain liquor is sold at stores near college campuses, where the potent spirits are especially popular.  

State ABC spokeswoman Agnes Stevens says the Commission decided the high-alcohol drinks had no redeeming social value:

Last Day For Video Sweepstakes

Nov 30, 2010
sign on window
Laura Leslie

Today is the last day that video sweepstakes parlors will be legally allowed to operate in North Carolina.  But a judge’s ruling could open the door to other games.

Clinton In Greensboro

Nov 30, 2010
Clinton
Bryan Series

Former President Bill Clinton will speak in Greensboro tonight. He is appearing as part of Guilford College's Bryan Lecture Series.

Instant Runoff Count Underway

Nov 29, 2010

Elections officials around the state have started the second phase of vote counting in a Court of Appeals race.

One of this year’s Court of Appeals races is the first statewide contest in the US to use instant runoff voting.  In the general election, voters chose a first, second, and third choice from a field of 13 candidates.   Cressie Thigpen and Doug McCullough were the top two winners as first choice. 

Starting today, elections officials are sorting through ballots on which the first choice was someone else.  Deputy state Elections Director Johnnie McLean:

Chimney Rock Park Plans Posted

Nov 29, 2010

The public gets its first look today at the draft master plans for the new Chimney Rock State Park.  The landmark near Asheville has been one of western North Carolina’s top attractions for decades.  In 2007, its private owners sold it to the state to become part of a large new state park at Hickory Nut Gorge. 

weather map
NOAA

 

Today marks the start of the official “Winter Weather Preparedness Week.” State emergency officials will be educating the public on ways to be prepared in the event of nasty weather. Jeff Orrock is with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. He says this year’s forecast of an intensified La Nina system means there’s a good chance we’ll see a warmer, drier winter than last year’s:

USDA Offers Help For Longleaf Pine

Nov 26, 2010
Longleaf Pine stand, Forest, Trees,
USFWS/Jack Culpepper

The federal government is making $800,000 available to North Carolinians trying to conserve the official state tree.  Landowners who plant or manage stands of longleaf pine can apply now for cost-sharing help from the U-S Department of Agriculture.   Longleaf forest used to cover some nine million acres of the southeastern US. But development and logging have cut it back to less than a million acres today. 

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