Eric Mennel

News Producer

Eric Mennel prepares the afternoon/evening "drive time" newscast on WUNC. Previously, he was a producer for The Story with Dick Gordon. Eric has reported for All Things Considered, This American Life, 99% Invisible and other radio programs. He covered protests and security measures at the 2012 Republican National Convention for WUSF Tampa and NPR News. One day, he hopes to own a home with a wrap-around porch.

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Rodanthe Bridge
6:31 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Rodanthe's Getting A New Bridge - But What Will It Look Like?

The new Rodanthe Bridge could go along the current easement for N.C. 12
Credit N.C.D.O.T.

The N.C. Department of Transportation has been planning to put a bridge at Rodanthe for some time. N.C. 12 is particularly susceptible to storm water breaches there, and so a bridge looks like the only way to keep the road viable, long-term.

There are two options for the bridge. Option 1: Go straight through Rodanthe, alongside the current route of N.C. 12. A one lane service road would remain in place to serve the private property alongside the highway.

Option 2: Send the new bridge around Rodanthe, into the Pamlico Sound.

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Business & Economy
9:06 am
Fri January 3, 2014

More Rec Centers Proposed For Raleigh Strip Malls

Children at the Greystone Rec Center in north Raleigh
Credit City of Raleigh

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has asked her staff to look for vacant commercial space that she might recommend for recreational development. 

McFarlane offered the idea of leasing space in strip malls and shopping centers to build recreational facilities. It's an attempt to kill two birds with one stone- build the recreational facilities the city wants/needs while also creating an anchor business in a shopping center that might otherwise be floundering.

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First Day Hikes
5:00 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Parks Offer Free Hikes To Start 2014

A view from a state park in Hillsborough overlooking the Eno River
Credit Laura Candler

North Carolina's state parks will offer free hikes on New Year's Day, along with educational opportunities for children and adults alike. More than 40 outings are scheduled, rain or shine, as a healthy way to ring in the new year. Some hikes will be only a couple of miles, while others will run as long as 5 miles.

It's the third year the state parks system has offered free First Day Hikes. Park officials expect thousands to attend across the state.

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Unemployment Rate
6:41 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

N.C. Unemployment Rate Drops, But Don't Get Too Excited

Credit U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the never ending story that is "so-so" economic news, North Carolina's unemployment rate took a sharp drop in November, but that doesn't necessarily mean there are more people employed.

Here are the numbers up front:

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Film Tax Incentives
6:22 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

How To Scare Away Iron Man? Get Rid Of His Tax Breaks

Iron Man Figure Show in Time Square, Hong Kong
Credit Just_The_Way / Flickr

Iron Man 3. Homeland. Sleepy Hollow.

Those are just a few of the productions that took (or are taking) place in North Carolina. And when you ask an industry expert why producers choose a specific city or state to film in, the answer has very little to do with climate, or airport access, or number of available caterers.

"The only places they look to do business are places that have a [tax] incentive," said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission. "That's the number one qualifying factor."

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Gun Laws
5:00 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Where Can't You Carry A Gun in N.C.?

Credit emedco.com

A new law, which went into effect in October, makes it legal to carry a gun in the state's restaurants, bars, parks,  and public schools/universities (with a handful of caveats.)

You can't carry a weapon into a city government building, though.

Many of the laws opponents had one question on mind: Why? What evidence was there that guns were needed to prevent violence in local parks?

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College Debt
4:28 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

N.C. Students Have Enough College Debt To Buy 20 Llamas

$24,000 in debt could buy you: 15 - 20 Llamas from Four Ladies and Me Llama Farm in East Bend
cogdogblog Flickr

North Carolina's students are graduating with more debt than ever before.

The average student graduating from a public, or private-non-profit school will graduate with $23,893 dollars in debt. In 2008, the average student had just $18,000 in debt.

We wondered...just what could you buy with $24,000?

How about a Toyota Camry L with keyless entry?

Or perhaps you prefer more than 1,700 bottles of wine from GlenMarie Vineyards in Burlington, NC.

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Budget Agreement
6:24 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

N.C. Lawmaker Thinks Budget Comprise Is Too Small To Signal Change In Washington

Credit price.house.gov

Rep. David Price (D-NC) plans to vote for the budget agreement, proposed on Wednesday by representatives Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Patty Murray (D-WA). Though he's not convinced it will be enough in the long run.

"It's hard to imagine sequestration looming over us for ten years," said Price.  "We are going to need to do something bigger and ambitious at some point."

"It does not necessarily mean we're on our way to larger agreements," Price added.

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Environment
6:37 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Is North Carolina To Blame For Northern States' Air Pollution?

Pollution fills the air from the Blue Ridge Paper mill in Canton North Carolina, deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Credit Doug Bradley / Flickr

That's not an easy question to answer.

Earlier this week, eight Northern states filed a petition with the EPA alleging that states from the South and Midwest are producing enough smog that it's affecting the air quality downwind. But how much can be blamed on North Carolina?

On the face of it, it's likely that some of North Carolina's air pollution does seep across state lines.

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Traffic Deaths
5:46 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Traffic Fatalities Rise; Trend Likely To Continue

A car accident on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill
Credit Triplezero / Flikr

After a six-year dip in the number of traffic fatalities in North Carolina, deaths in 2012 rose by 5.5 percent. That's according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal agency says 1,292 people died in car accidents in North Carolina last year, with 33,561 fatalities occurring nationwide.

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