Dave DeWitt

Reporter @DaveDeWitt

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Environment Reporter. He came to WUNC in 2003 and spent four years on the staff of The State of Things.

He regularly files for NPR’s news magazines as well as Marketplace and Only A Game. He formerly worked in college athletics, college admissions, and with the Tar Heel Sports Network. In 2001, he wrote the non-fiction book "True Blue".

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Environment
4:00 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Big Energy Changes Could Be Coming To NC

Seismic testing for oil could occur off the North Carolina coast in 2017.
Credit Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

The days of oil rigs off the coast of the Outer Banks is still many years away, if it ever comes. But the state of North Carolina is already making plans that will allow oil companies to use seismic imaging to search for possible oil reserves.

Donald Van der Vaart, the Energy Policy Advisor with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, told the North Carolina Energy Policy Council that seismic testing was last done off the coast of North Carolina in the 1980s.

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Environment
7:06 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Duke Energy Invests Big In Solar

Strata Solar of Chapel Hill is one of the contractors working with Duke Energy.
Credit Strata Solar

Duke Energy is investing $500 million in solar power generation in North Carolina.

Three new large-scale solar facilities will be built in Bladen, Wilson, and Duplin Counties. The 65 megawatt facility in Duplin will be the largest solar plant east of the Mississippi.

Due to a state law passed in 2007, Duke and other utilities must source at least 12.5 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021.

“We choose solar today because solar is the cheapest renewable energy certificate available to us,” said Duke Energy Vice President Rob Caldwell.

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Environment
5:03 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Red Wolves: A Future In Doubt

Hank, one of two captive red wolves, managed by the Red Wolf Coalition.
Credit Dave DeWitt

Hank and Betty seem like they’re in a pretty good mood today. It’s stopped raining, and the sun is poised to peak out between the loblolly pines that surround their den. And their caretaker, Kim Wheeler, has brought them a snack.

As the director of the Red Wolf Coalition, Wheeler cares for these two captive red wolves at their enclosure just south of Columbia. She often brings groups of tourists here to see the mating pair and learn more about how the species behaves.

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Environment
1:47 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Eno River Plagued By Invasive Plant

Hydrilla, an invasive plant found here in the Eno River, first came to the U.S. from Asia.
Credit Dave DeWitt

A state task force will begin work soon to try to control an invasive plant that threatens the Eno River. Hydrilla was first spotted in the southern U.S. in the 1960s.

Hydrilla came to this country from Asia and is especially concentrated on the eastern side of the Eno River State Park, where the water is wide and slow-moving.

The plants are visible just below the surface of the river, like a giant bright green blanket choking off sunlight to the river’s bottom. The plant is spreading at a rate of about a mile a year, and in twelve years could reach Falls Lake.

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Environment
4:22 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Burlington Agrees To Sewage System Improvements

The Haw River is a source of drinking water and recreation.
Credit Haw River Assembly

The City of Burlington will embark on a series of improvements to its wastewater collection system. It’s part of an agreement between the city and various environmental groups. 

Back in January, more than 3.5 million gallons of raw sewage spilled out of a cracked pipe near a wastewater treatment plant and into the Haw River. The Haw River winds through Alamance County and feeds into Jordan Lake, the main source of drinking water for more than a quarter of a million people.

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Education
4:30 am
Fri September 5, 2014

The School Nurse Problem In NC, And What One Parent Is Doing About It

The school nurse-to-student ratio in NC is well above the level recommended by the CDC.
Credit NC Parents Advocating For School Health

Teri Saurer is a parent, and like any parent she got a little anxious a few years ago when her daughter, Hannah, was about to head off to kindergarten.

“Hannah had a prior history of epilepsy and she now has life-threatening food allergies,” Saurer explains. “I was very concerned sending her to school. So I looked into the nurse situation and I was very surprised to find out that there was not a nurse in her school every day.”

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Education
4:55 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Experienced Teachers Under Fire

Experienced teachers have been at odds with lawmakers throughout the year.
Credit Reema Khrais

College pennants hang from every open space in Chuck Hennessee’s classroom at Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill. He’s even strung some up on clotheslines from one side of the room to the other, so you have to duck to avoid them. But for Hennessee, it’s been a few years since his own graduation.

“I am a better teacher in my 29th year now than I was in my 25th and much better than I was in my 20th, my tenth, and it doesn’t even compare to my fifth and first year,” says Hennessee.

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Education
4:40 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Science And Math, 24 Hours A Day

The North Carolina School of Science and Math turns 35 years old this year.
Credit NCSSM

It’s probably not much of a surprise to learn that the car line to drop off new students and all their stuff at the North Carolina School of Science and Math runs like a well-oiled machine.

Vans and cars, loaded with suitcases and boxes, pull into the temporary unloading zone. When they stop, senior students in blue t-shirts descend on the cars, unload them, mark the correct rooms, and off they go, on hand trucks and trolleys. An entire car unloaded in a few minutes.

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Education
3:12 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

School Bus Cameras Put Focus On Illegal Passing

More school buses will have external cameras.
Credit Dave DeWitt

Law enforcement will soon have a new tool to catch motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses. School districts are in the process of installing more external cameras that are activated when the bus stops. The cameras capture images of license plates and motorists that pass the buses while they are stopped.

School officials say the new cameras will help keep more kids safe.

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Education
5:52 am
Fri August 15, 2014

McCrory Surveys Education Reforms

Gov. Pat McCrory
Credit Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory praised the Legislature for raising teacher pay in its last budget. He also expressed some disappointment that several of his signature efforts in education were not included.

McCrory spoke to the Education Conference of the North Carolina Chamber.

The Governor’s initial budget included smaller teacher raises than what was eventually passed. But the concept of paying teachers more at the beginning of their careers was one the Governor and Legislature shared, as was simplifying the teacher pay schedule.

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