Gurnal Scott

Assistant News Director

Gurnal Scott joined North Carolina Public Radio in March 2012 after several stops in radio and television.   After graduating from the College of Charleston in his South Carolina hometown, he began his career in radio there.  He started as a sports reporter at News/Talk Radio WTMA and won five Sportscaster of the Year awards.  In 1997, Gurnal moved on to television as general assignment reporter and weekend anchor for WCSC-TV in Charleston.  He anchored the market's top-rated weekend newscasts until leaving Charleston for Memphis, TN in 2002.  Gurnal worked at WPTY-TV for two years before returning to his roots in radio.  He joined the staff of Memphis' NewsRadio 600 WREC in 2004 eventually rising to News Director.  In 2006, Raleigh news radio station WPTF came calling and he became the station's chief correspondent.  Gurnal’s reporting has been honored by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, the North Carolina Associated Press, and the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas.

Gurnal left WUNC in January 2015.

Ways to Connect

A Duke University study found a link between poverty and smoking in adolescents.
Valentin Ottone via Flickr, Creative Commons

The federal Food and Drug Administration has tapped UNC-Chapel Hill researchers to compile data that  may lead to stronger tobacco regulations. 

One study will focus on effects of tobacco products on the lungs.  The other will examine what people know about the dangers of tobacco and how warnings can be improved.  

Kurt Ribisl is a professor of health behavior at UNC-Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health.  He says most people are unaware of all the negative effects of tobacco.

Durham Police Department

Durham police officers are crediting an initiative started six years ago for reducing crime in one of the city's most violent neighborhoods. 

"Operation Bull's Eye" targeted a two-square-mile area with high rates of crime and "shots fired" calls.  Officers used enforcement and community-building programs to bring shooting incidents down by more than half and overall violent crime down by nearly 40 percent. 

Durham's deputy chief Larry Smith says the lower numbers can't be attributed to enforcement alone.  

United States Marine Corps

Camp Lejeune now has a memorial for military service members wounded in the line of duty. A Purple Heart memorial was given an official dedication Friday.

Captain Ryan Powell is from the Wounded Warrior Battalion Regiment at Quantico, Virginia. He says the memorial is being located near the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East headquarters which provides non-medical care for injured Marines on base. That includes a recovery protocol that also treats the mind, body and spirit...

NC DENR

Conservation groups will begin an effort next year to clear debris from North Carolina waterways.  Fishermen have told coastal organizations that many spots where they drop lines are littered with old crab pots and debris hidden deep in the water. 

The North Carolina Coastal Federation is leading a two-year project to clean up state waters from StumpyPoint to the Virginia line.  Ladd Bayliss is one of the federation's coastal advocates.

Duke Photography

The Duke Blue Devils return to the gridiron Saturday after an open date last weekend.  The Naval Academy will come to Durham for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff at Wallace Wade Stadium. 

Last week it appeared this contest may have been in doubt.  The Midshipmen faced the possibility of canceling their appearance because of the ongoing government shutdown.  Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said Navy kept Duke in the loop on their travel plans.

NCDOT

State transportation officials are working to permanently fix N.C. Highway 12 in Dare County. NCDOT officials say they are in the process of hiring a contractor to build a permanent bridge that will resist future washouts.  

Currently, a temporary metal bridge links where the roadway was destroyed by Hurricane Irene last year. 

Secretary Tony Tata said in an agency release that the project will be an important step in offering a reliable route to the Outer Banks for businesses, residents and visitors. 

US Coast Guard

The Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday night for a missing boater near Cape Lookout.  The man sent out a distress call Tuesday night saying that his 22-foot Bayliner was taking on water.  He said his plan was to put on his life vest, gather some supplies and swim about 200 yards to shore. 

Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill says it appears the unidentified boater was well prepared in the event of trouble

"Having a life jacket is one of the most important things to help keep that person above the water and prevent them from drowning," says Hill. 

Strickland Farms tobacco and house
Leoneda Inge

U.S. tobacco growers are watching new regulations being considered across the Atlantic.  The European Parliament is set to vote on guidelines that would curtail the use of additives in tobacco that provide flavorings to the plant. 

Burley tobacco -- produced mainly in Kentucky -- contains a number of additives that change the taste.  North Carolina has some burley growers, but mostly exports flue-cured tobacco.  N.C. State extension economist Blake Brown says any new regulations could hurt tobacco farmers.

Kroger announced it is buying Harris Teeter.
Mike Kalasnik via Flickr, Creative Commons

Harris Teeter shareholders have approved a plan for Kroger to acquire the Matthews-based grocery chain.  Harris Teeter officials said in a statement that 83 percent of the votes cast by shareholders were in favor of the $2.5 billion merger agreement.   The acquisition by Ohio-based Kroger still has to be approved by federal regulators. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory has criticized the federal Justice Department's lawsuit alleging racial discrimination over new voting rules as a government overreach.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder criticized the law signed by McCrory in August, saying changes such as restrictions on certain types of ID and fewer early-voting hours would reduce participation rather than expand it. 

NC State Athletics

The UNC football team faces off this weekend against in-state rival East Carolina.  North Carolina has won 12 of 15 all-time games against the Pirates from Greenville, but that won't dampen the pride that each squad will bring into the game at Chapel Hill.  Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora says the game puts old friends and foes back on the same field.

Duke Energy's Cliffside Steam Station
Duke Energy

State Attorney General Roy Cooper says he will appeal Duke Energy's latest rate hike. The North Carolina Utilities Commission  approved a plan this week allowing the nation's largest utility a to increase consumer rates by 4.5 percent for the first two years and by 5.1 percent in the third year. 

The hydraulic fracturing (fracking) water cycle.
Environmental Protection Agency

North Carolina environmental officials have said "no" to a federal grant to check water quality in areas where fracking may occur.  The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says the money from the EPA would only pay for salaries of people brought in to do testing. 

Division of Water Resources director Tom Reeder says DENR doesn't need them.

NC DENR

Engineers in Raleigh's Storm Water Utilities Department are planning to replace dams protecting some capital city neighborhoods.  Each project is expected to begin next year with costs into the millions of dollars.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

State health officials have confirmed the first death from West Nile virus in North Carolina this year.   The Department of Health and Human Services says the victim was an adult in Wilson County.  Privacy rules do not allow the age, name or gender to be disclosed. 

Duke Energy provides electricity for most of North Carolina since the 2012 merger.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy is dropping its practice of paying for retirees' health benefits.  The country's largest utility joins companies like IBM, General Electric and Time Warner in the policy change.

 Instead of covering insurance for more than 14,000 retirees, Duke Energy will give them a yearly stipend.  Retirees can use that payment to buy their own coverage.  Dave Scanzoni is a company spokesman.

gopack.com

The NC State Wolfpack will take the field tonight for their biggest game of the season to date. The Clemson Tigers are third-ranked in the national polls and an early contender for the national championship.

Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg

Some Fort Bragg soldiers will begin specialized air assault training classes this week.  Fort Bragg soldiers had previously gone to posts outside the state to complete the course.  Soldiers will learn the logistics of moving troops and equipment by helicopter during combat. 

Capt. Matt Smoose is the school's commander.  He says the training includes helicopter transport and what's called 'springload operations'.

The Bonner Bridge connects Bodie and Hatteras Islands on the Outer Banks
ncdot.org

A federal judge has issued a ruling partially clearing the way for a new span to replace the Bonner Bridge along the Outer Banks

Activists represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center claim building a new bridge parallel to the existing bridge that links Hatteras Island and the mainland would harm coastal wildlife habitats. They want a longer, more costly bridge further out in Pamlico Sound.

City of Raleigh

Triangle residents are being invited this week to consider public transportation as a commuter option.  Local and regional systems are taking part in "Try Transit Week" hoping to get people out of their cars and on a bus to work or play. 

 Capital Area Transit is offering special events every day to entice new riders.  Lindsay Pennell handles marketing for the Raleigh bus service.  She says over the years they've been able change some people's transportation choice.

Army Institute of Heraldry

A 90-year-old World War II veteran will receive a high military honor in Durham. 

Hurricane Irene
nasa.gov

The 2013 Atlantic storm season has been milder than expected so far. Only eight named storms have formed by the season's midpoint.  The latest -- Humberto -- is the first hurricane to form.

A Triangle live-in diet program once endorsed by celebrities and others seeking weight-loss results appears to be permanently closed.   The Rice Diet Center was once affiliated with Duke University before striking out on its own 11 years ago. 

Hollywood stars have been among those who traveled to Durham to embrace eating meals of mainly white rice and fruit in an effort to slim down. As more diet plans gained recognition, the Rice Diet lost favor and followers.  The center's current owner, Dr. Robert Rosati, was forced to close the program after 70 years.

Gregory Vineyards

North Carolinians have had to endure bouts of mild but wet weather this summer.  That combination can help in some ways but can hurt in others. 

North Carolina wine growers specializing in muscadine varieties typically prefer dry weather with lots of sun.  Lane Gregory runs Gregory Vineyards in Angier.  He says up to 40 inches of rain fell on his muscadines in June and July.  Gregory says that has altered the balance in his yield.

wakegov.com

Wake County commissioners are moving forward with an effort to assess the county's transit needs.  Members unanimously voted this week to bring in experts from outside the county to look at a current plan to improve transportation. 

Those ideas include expanding local and commuter bus service and building a commuter rail system from Garner to Durham.  The plan would cost Wake County more than half a billion dollars. David Cooke serves as county manager and says experts will analyze transportation needs beyond just Wake County.

An aerial view of BASF's Crop Protection and PlantScience site in Research Triangle Park.
BASF

Officials with a leading plant sciences company have expanded their presence in Research Triangle Park.  BASF cut the ribbon today on new lab, office and greenhouse space.  The expansion cost $33 million. 

The new addition includes an insect production facility, or an "insect zoo," to aid in testing bug-killing agents.  Nigel Armes is BASF's director of research and development.  He says the facility is key in establishing the company as a leader in insecticide production.

The report aims at bringing a better balance between academics and sports at UNC at Chapel Hill.
Tnbailey09 voa Creative Commons

A panel of academic and athletic leaders have released a report aimed at re-defining the role of sports on campus at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Committee members listed 28 recommendations they hope will help bring a better balance to school and sports on campus. 

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum faces ongoing financial struggles, and the Greensboro mayor wants the city to take it over.
Jeff Tiberii

There is a deal on the table to help keep the doors of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro open.   The museum, at the site of a famous lunch counter sit-in in 1960, has been struggling financially. 

Now, the city's mayor and three council members will bring a potential loan package to the full council.  Museum officials requested $1.5 million.  The city's plan calls for a total of $750,000 and creates committees to help oversee operations.  

The food stand.
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

Some capital city residents are getting access to farm fresh food months after two grocery stores closed in their area.  The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle of Raleigh is operating a weekly food stand in a church parking lot. 

The Raleigh Area Development Authority is helping to fund the shuttle's effort to keep the southeast part of the city from turning into a "food desert".  Cindy Sink is a spokeswoman with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.  She says the food stand adds to ongoing efforts.

Kay Hagan is urging the US Attorney General to review NC's Voter ID law.
Third Way Think Tank via Flickr, Creative Commons

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan says she's asked the nation's Attorney General to look into the state's new Voter ID law.  The North Carolina Democrat says she wanted Eric Holder to examine the legislation signed this month by Republican Governor Pat McCrory.  Hagan says the law enacts restrictions that could suppress voter turnout among minorities, as well as younger and older voters.  Supporters say it's intended to prevent fraud at the polls.  Hagan told WUNC's Frank Stasio those instances barely exist.

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