WUNC News

Stories, features and more by WUNC News Staff.  Also, features  and commentary not by any one reporter.

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The Carolina Hurricanes are welcoming two new coaches to their staff. Former team captain Rod Brind’Amour and NHL head coach Dave Lewis will be assistant coaches for the team. Brind’Amour was appointed the team’s director of development last year after 20 years as an NHL player. Head Coach Paul Maurice says that year of experience will make Brind’Amour well suited for the job. 

Gov. Bev Perdue
bevperdue.com

  Governor Bev Perdue is studying the budget plan sent to her over the weekend by the Republican controlled General Assembly. It spends about $500 million less than the budget she proposed. 

The Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center has released 41 turtles on Topsail Island. More than 4 hundred school children came from surrounding counties to watch yesterday's event. The turtles were escorted down the beach and gently returned to their ocean home. Many of the turtles that were released had been found stunned in last winter's cold water. Jean Beasley, the center's director, said sea turtles are crucial to human survival.

Greensboro city officials will cut the ribbon for a new amphitheater today. The venue is located on the southern part of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. The amphitheater's capacity holds about 2,000 more people than Raleigh's new downtown Amphitheater. Andrew Brown with the coliseum says an amphitheater was a natural choice for the complex.

Copper Theft Increasing

May 31, 2011

The Public Works Commission of Fayetteville is reporting problems with thieves breaking into electric substations to steal copper wire. Spokeswoman Carol Justice-Hinson says they’ve had 12 break-ins since April.

Carol Justice-Hinson: "They’re cutting the fence and finding all kinds of creative ways to get in. This isn’t uncommon—I think what’s different right now is that we’ve had so many. For the last two months, its been one right after the other."

No State of Things broadcast today, instead: A one-hour special revisiting Steinbeck's iconic book, Travels with Charley, and journeying into today's America through the eyes of contemporary artists. Episodes in Sag Harbor, N.Y.; New Orleans; North Dakota; Spokane, Wash.; Humboldt County, Cal., and Monterey, Cal. Produced by John Biewen of Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and hosted by Al Letson of State of the Re:Union, a series you can hear on WUNC in July.

Pigs just before auction, hogs,
Chris Cioffi

  Durham County Animal Shelter officials auctioned off five little pigs today. The young piglets made headlines two months ago after they turned up on interstate forty blocking traffic. The porkers have been living in a converted dog pen at the Durham County Animal Shelter. Lee Sackett of C-J Acres Animal Rescue Farm in Keystone Heights, Florida was the winning bidder. He paid $3,200 for the pigs.

Fans and friends of Scotty McCreery will gather at Garner High School tonight to watch the hometown star perform one last time in the American Idol competition. The show will air at 8pm on Fox and the winner will be announced tomorrow night. Terry Mascaro was McCreery’s manager at Lowe’s Foods. The 17-year old bagged groceries there even as he made trips to Hollywood to film the show. Mascaro says the town is proud to see Scotty representing Garner on national television. 

Officials gathered in Raleigh today to christen a new Capitol Area Transit operations and maintenance facility. The facility is needed to accommodate a rise in demand on the city's bus fleet.

Andrew High is from congressman David Price's office. He says the money for the maintenance facility came from federal funds. High says it will help with more people using public transportation.

North Carolina will receive 4 million dollars of the 2.4 billion dollars in federal money Florida declined for high speed rail projects. The Department of Transportation will use the money for an environmental impact study of a potential high speed rail line between Raleigh and Richmond. DOT spokeswoman Greer Beaty says this is something people should be excited about.

WakeMed celebrated Mother's Day by kicking off a campaign to promote breast feeding. The hospital no longer gives out formula or pacifiers to new mothers. WakeMed Women and Children's Services Director Elizabeth Rice says breast feeding is healthier for both infants and mothers. But she says the hospital isn't taking away anyone's right to choose how they feed their baby.

More schools around the state are flying color-coded flags to let students and staff know about poor air quality conditions. The flags correspond with the Air Quality Index. Health officials say people with breathing sensitivities should be careful on code orange, red, or purple days. Allison Davis with the E-P-A says the Triangle usually gets several code orange days each summer.

The late Randall Terry
ncsu.edu

  N.C. State University is dedicating a new veterinary hospital today. The Randall B. Terry Medical Center will be one of the nation's largest veterinary hospitals. The new facilities include a Canine Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, a linear accelerator for cancer radiation treatment, and new ultrasound stations. 

Ari Friedlaender with Humpback whale in Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica
Alison Stimpert, University of Hawaii

  Duke scientists are finding record numbers of humpback whales feeding on krill on the Western Antarctic Peninsula. A new report shows scientists observed more than 300 whales in a bay in May 2009. Scientists say a sheet of ice should have prevented whales from feeding on krill by that time of year. But Duke’s Ari Friedlaender says climate change is shortening the winter season and ice is forming slowly. So the krill are exposed for feeding.

WakeMed Hospital Turns 50

Apr 26, 2011

WakeMed is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The public hospital was built by the county government in response to unfulfilled needs for medical care. Today the WakeMed Health and Hospital system runs two hospitals in the county and plans to break ground on a third that will focus on women. WakeMed President and CEO William Atkinson says the facility was the first in the county to provide care for individuals of all races under one roof.

President Obama has declared disaster areas in central and eastern North Carolina. Residents in 18 counties can apply for disaster relief funds today on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website. 

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler toured several eastern counties yesterday to get a handle on the damage. He says most of the damage was to infrastructure, equipment and livestock. And that will be expensive for farmers to replace.

The Department of Public Instruction will put cameras on school buses to identify drivers who don't stop when children are getting on or off the bus. State law requires drivers to stop when a school bus has its "stop arm" out. The pilot program will help identify the license plates and drivers of vehicles that fail to stop. DPI Transportation Services chief Derek Graham says the cameras will help law enforcement catch "stop arm" violators.

Drivers can learn how to save gas at a workshop today in Raleigh. The North Carolina Solar Center will host the Drive Green, Save Green demonstration. Participants will drive a five-mile course as they normally would and then try again with a few pointers in mind. Anne Tazewell from the Solar Center says a conscientious driver can save an extra 10 to 30 percent on fuel by following their advice.

The U.S. is more energy dependent on Canada than you might think. That's why Duke officials say they've planned a conference tomorrow on the U.S.-Canada energy relationship. Stephen Kelly is the associate director of Duke's Center for Canadian Studies. He says most people don't realize how big a role Canada plays in our energy supply.

235 Years of Independence

Apr 12, 2011

Halifax County is celebrating the date memorialized on North Carolina's state flag today. On April 12, 1776, the state's Fourth Provincial Congress met in Halifax to declare sovereignty from the British crown. Carl Burke with the Halifax State Historic Site says the move became known as the Halifax Resolves.

Kay Hagan On The Budget

Apr 7, 2011
Kay Hagan
hagan.senate.gov

Congressional leaders and the White House have yet to reach an agreement to keep the federal government running. The current spending plan runs out at midnight tomorrow. Congressional leaders met at the White House Thursday afternoon and planned to meet later in the day. They need to strike a deal that can be agreed to by the President, the Republican-controlled House, and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Teenagers who binge drink may do long-term damage to their brains, according to a study from UNC Chapel Hill. Scientists administered alcohol to adolescent mice and measured changes in brain matter. They found adolescent mice exposed to alcohol lost brain matter in the frontal cortex and were less proficient at memory tests. Dr. Fulton Crews is a professor of pharmacology at UNC. He says the human adolescent brain functions in much the same way:

The 9-1-1 center for Guilford County and Greensboro will test its disaster readiness beginning today.  Guilford Metro will relocate to a backup facility across town until Friday morning.

Veterinarians are meeting in Asheville today to learn a quicker, more cost-effective way to neuter and spay pets. The Humane Alliance of Western North Carolina is hosting the conference. It operates a spay and neuter service in Buncombe County that sterilizes an average of 24,000 cats and dogs a year. The group can offer the procedure at a lower cost than full service clinics because it performs many at a time in an assembly line.

Civil rights and labor leader Margaret Turner has died. She was involved in numerous struggles for civil rights in Durham. Turner played an important role in turning people out to events and speaking up at work and in the community.

State Senator Floyd McKissick knew Turner and says she was one of the “unsung heroes” of the movement:

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