Jeremy Loeb

Reporter

Ways to Connect

A proposal from WakeMed to buy Rex Healthcare from UNC is getting a chilly response. UNC president Thomas Ross said in a statement selling Rex Healthcare would be damaging to its core mission and not in the best interest of the people of North Carolina. He went on to say UNC Health Care's board of directors will discuss the proposal on Monday. WakeMed President and CEO Bill Atkinson says there are number of uncertainties over health care in Wake County.

Triangle residents will soon have to dial 10 digits to make local phone calls. That's because almost all numbers with the 919 area code are used up. Switzon Wigfall is a Senior Operations Analyst with the North Carolina Utilities Commission. He says this is a result of the explosion of cell phone use.

Switzon Wigfall: "When you have school kids 7 and 8 years old with cell phones, you can see the multiplicity effect of all the applications that's taken place in telecommunication markets today. So, yes. As some point, you exhaust the numbers."

Firefighters continue to fight a large blaze burning in northeastern North Carolina. Officials reported progress Monday in protecting homes and business from the fire. It started last Thursday in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Spokesman Bill Sweet says favorable weather conditions allowed firefighters to burn land in the path of the fire to keep it from spreading further.

There's new evidence that the method of extracting natural gas called "hydraulic fracturing" could be contaminating drinking water. A team of Duke researchers have found elevated levels of methane in well water near hydraulic fracturing sites. That could be an important finding as state legislators consider whether to begin allowing the practice here in North Carolina. Natural gas deposits have been discovered deep under some of the state's most populated counties like Wake, Durham, and Orange.

Marines at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville have a new facility to train for their biggest threat in Afghanistan: roadside bombs.

Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are responsible for nearly 80 percent of combat deaths in Afghanistan. The Marine Corps says Camp Lejeune's new training facility will ensure Marines are as prepared as possible before going into harm's way.

Jamani the gorilla from the NC Zoo
NC Zoo

  A gorilla at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro is expecting. That's big news for the zoo which has only had one other gorilla birth in its history. Spokesman Rod Hackney has been at the zoo for 24 years and still remembers the last birth. It was 22 years ago in 1989.

A dam breach in Moore County didn't put the public in danger. But it did serve as a reminder of the many dams in North Carolina that could be more dangerous if they failed. Mell Nevils, Chief of the Land Quality Section of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which includes the North Carolina Dam Safety Program, says the dam in Moore County was classified as an "intermediate hazard" meaning there was a likelihood of property damage in the event of a failure.

Roy Cooper
governor.state.nc.us

A settlement between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Valley Authority includes a payment to North Carolina. The TVA agreed to implement better emissions technology at all of its coal-fired plants including the four closest to North Carolina. Attorney General Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit against the TVA in 2006.

Foreclosures Down in NC

Apr 14, 2011

The number of foreclosures in North Carolina was down in the first quarter of 2011. That's according to a report from RealTrac, a firm that tracks foreclosures. But the number is down due to a logjam of foreclosures for lenders, not because there are fewer people going into foreclosure. Banks are being investigated for lending practices that led to the mortgage meltdown. Daren Blomquist with RealTrac says the seemingly good news is artificial.

A state trust fund that provides money for water pollution cleanup could shrink significantly under the budget proposed by the state House. That's according to Richard Rogers, the Chief Executive of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. He says the House budget appropriates 10 million dollars to the trust fund, 80 percent less than the 50 million proposed by Governor Bev Perdue in her budget.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are due at a celebration for 40 expectant mothers at Camp Lejeune this morning. The visit is part of a 2-day national tour and comes a day after Mrs. Obama announced a new initiative to support military families. The non-profit Operation Shower is hosting the event. LeAnn Morrissey, creator of Operation Shower, says she started the group as a way to give back to those wives whose husbands are fighting overseas.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
usda.gov

A manufacturing plant in Greensboro could benefit from a new push for ethanol fuel by the Obama Administration. US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced cash incentives for gas stations who want to install pumps that provide different combinations of ethanol and gasoline.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources is evaluating a number of sites around the state deemed hazardous because of spilled dry-cleaning solvent. There's a spill in Carrboro that originated from a dry-cleaner in the 70s that's no longer there. John Powers is the director of DENR's Dry Cleaning Solvent Clean Up Act team. He says the first thing they do when a site is volunteered for clean-up is to evaluate water to find out the extent of the contamination.

Red Wolf Pups Possible

Apr 6, 2011
Red Wolf, animal,
Museum of Life and Science

Animal keepers at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham are keeping their fingers crossed that one of their red wolves is pregnant. The red wolf is extremely rare. There’re only about 300 estimated to be alive today. 2 of them are at the museum. And keepers have been excited the past few weeks because the female wolf has changed her behavior and and is looking a bit chubbie.

Progress Energy will shut down a coal-fired plant near Lumberton six years ahead of schedule.

Progress Energy spokesman Drew Elliot says the plant has provided more than a half century of reliable service:

Bald Eagle, bird, animal,
West Hills Veterinary Center, Henderson, NC

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are investigating the shooting of a mature bald eagle in Warren County near the Virginia border. They're offering a $2,500 reward for anyone with information that leads to a conviction.

Some city and town officials are crying foul over a bill that would limit their ability to provide high-speed internet to their citizens. North Carolina courts have twice ruled local municipalities have the right to provide broadband service: once for Morganton in the 1980s and again for Laurinburg in the mid 90s. Those towns, along with Wilson and Salisbury offer broadband to its citizens, and Fayetteville is planning to.

Salisbury Assistant City Manager Doug Paris says those court decisions make the argument against municipal broadband a weak one:

A study conducted by Duke University researchers finds orphans around the world at great risk of experiencing traumatic events, and for those events to lead to later health and mental health issues. It shows 98% of those children have experienced trauma beyond the loss of their parent. The traumas include things like physical or sexual abuse and witnessing violence or death. It also finds young boys just as vulnerable as young girls.

strawberries
NC Strawberry Association

The North Carolina Strawberry Association is optimistic about the upcoming season for growers. The weather has been ideal lately and growers are hoping there won’t be extreme temperatures in the coming months.

A community college in Jacksonville is seeing a number of its students struggle with the effects of traumatic brain injuries. School administrators at Coastal Carolina Community College held a presentation this week to get the word out to students about the help available to them. The proximity to Camp Lejeune and the large veteran population means a number of students have suffered injuries in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Christopher Sabin, the college’s Director for Veterans Programs, says many students hide their problems:

A fair being held at Fort Bragg today will focus on resiliency. The first-ever “Resiliency Fair” is a chance for soldier and their families to learn about some of the support services available at the sprawling Army post. Master Sergeant Jennifer Loredo says resiliency is an important part of being a soldier:

"Being able to bounce back from an event that happens in your life and either grow from it or move forward. Soldiers and family members and people in general really can always work on improving their resilience, and so that’s kind of what this is about."

Chief financial officers in the US have a more optimistic outlook about the economy. That’s according to a new survey from Duke University and CFO Magazine. It finds optimism among CFOs to be at its highest level since early 2007.

John Graham is a finance professor at Duke and the director of the survey:

"Things are looking up. There are still a couple of worries. One is employment. Employment is expected to increase, but slowly. So we don’t expect to see too much of a decrease of the unemployment rate next year. A new worry is inflation."

battleshipnc.com

A relic of World War II and source of pride for North Carolinians is getting some much-needed repairs. The Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington will have work done on its hull starting in April. But people will be able to tour the ship as the work is taking place.

Spokeswoman Heather Loftin says it's an opportunity for a new generation to experience history in the making:

Michael Zirkle Photography, Raleigh Historic Districts Commission, National Park Service

An old water line no one knew about has delayed the reopening of Raleigh’s Pullen Park. Renovations have been taking place for several years and planners hoped the park would be open this summer. But the water line combined with cold weather have pushed back the reopening. David Shouse is a senior park planner with the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department.

UNC Coach Roy Williams (left) and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski Feb. 9, 2011 in Durham
goduke.com

The UNC and Duke men’s basketball teams square off Saturday night in Chapel Hill with the regular season conference title on the line. Both teams are 13-and-2 in the ACC. Tar Heels coach Roy Williams calls Duke an “unbelievable opponent.”

A group meeting in Durham today will focus on how to protect elderly people from abuse. The coalition is called Partners Eliminating Adult Victimization in Durham. It's one of a growing number of groups across the state. John Margolis is the Adult Protective Services Supervisor for Durham County and a co-chair of the group.

"The statute in North Carolina is more geared towards a disabled adult rather than an elder adult. And for Adult Protective Services to be involved with an elderly individual, there has to be some type of incapacity there."

Emergency officials are meeting today in Raleigh to plan for a possible energy disaster. The two-day event is being sponsored by the Department of Energy and includes representatives from 12 states across the southeast as well as Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands. James Mercer of the Raleigh Emergency Management Office is coordinating the event.

Sanderson Farms is delaying plans to build a poultry processing plant in Nash County.

Joe Sanderson, CEO of Sanderson Farms, says overproduction in the chicken industry has left the price of chicken low while feed costs are high. And so the company decided to delay building the plant until market conditions can be reevaluated in the Fall. The plant has also drawn controversy from some who allege wastewater from the plant will contaminate local water supplies.

The North Carolina African-American Heritage Commission presented findings today of an information-gathering process that involved more than 200 citizens and spanned six communities. Acting director Michelle Lanier says the commission will focus on four priority goals of sustainability, partnerships, recognition and awareness:

"I think when we recognize that the African-American story is an American story, is a North Carolina story, and that we are interested in connecting with people rather than dividing people, then people start to listen a lot more."

A Durham man has been taken off death row after a Superior Court judge commuted his sentence. Isaac Stroud had been sentenced to die for the 1993 murder of his girlfriend. But his attorneys argued mental illness should have disqualified him from a death sentence. The ruling means Stroud will instead spend life behind bars. Marilyn Ozer is an attorney who’s worked on the case since 2001. 

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