WUNC News

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

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This weekend Cary will host the nation’s largest round robin table tennis competition. More than 300 internationally ranked players will visit Cary for the event.

Mike Babuin is the founder of the Cary Table Tennis Association and creator of the competition. He says that while many Americans play table tennis at home, few consider it a serious sport. That’s not the case in other countries. And he says the countries taking table tennis seriously are the ones bringing home Olympic medals:

Ten people were injured in an explosion on Fort Bragg last night. The injured are eight marines and two navy personnel. Marine staff sergeant Jayson Price says the explosion happened during a routine spring exercise called “Rolling Thunder.” The exercise uses live ammunition including 155 millimeter howitzers.

"The cause of the incident is under investigation and the regiment remains in a check firing status, meaning they’re not firing until safe training can resume," Price says.

reenactment
www.greensboro-nc.gov

Country park in Guilford County will commemorate the 230th anniversary of the battle of Guilford Courthouse this weekend. Re-enactors will show how revolutionary soldiers lived and will re-create the battle.

Bus ridership is increasing throughout the Triangle, thanks in large part to rising gas prices. January ridership on Triangle Transit was up 17.7 percent from last year. Brad Schulz at Triangle Transit says gas prices are just one reason people are choosing the bus.

A group of parents in Guilford County wants daily recess in elementary schools. They will present a petition along with supporting research to a Board of Education meeting tonight. Currently, elementary school principals in Guilford County decide how students spend the time that's dedicated to physical activity . Parent Amy Hanson says recess helps children learn.

"Kids need a break from concentration, for their brains to process the information that they've taken in and to refresh them to learn more. Kids are also better behaved after recess and can focus more on learning."

A new microscope developed at Duke University may increase doctors’ abilities to detect melanoma. Chemistry professor Warren S. Warren oversaw the development of the laser-based microscope. He says doctors may be “overcalling” melanoma and removing moles in case they are cancerous.

North Carolina conservation groups say preserving land for public use has long-term economic benefits. A new report from the non-profit Trust for Public Land claims that every dollar North Carolina invests in parks, farms and wilderness has a return of 4 dollars to the local economy. The report measures the “natural goods and services” of different ecosystems in the state. An area is valued by the quality of its air and water and its ability to remove pollutants naturally—making wetlands and forests the most valuable and developed or barren land the least valuable.

Wake Technical Community College is holding a two-day bio-diesel workshop this week. Students will learn how to convert waste vegetable oil into bio-diesel using the college’s new 40-gallon processor. Rich Cregar, an instructor in Automotive Systems Technology, started the course four years ago as part of a state-wide project to incorporate sustainable technologies into the curriculum of North Carolina’s community colleges.

The Division of Forest Resources is working to put out with a number of fires across the state. Windy, dry conditions have contributed to 211 fires over the past several days. Forest Resources spokesman Brian Haines says crews have had trouble containing the 582-acre Lumber Plant Fire in Surry County in western North Carolina.

North Carolina Amtrak will suspend Piedmont mid-day service between Raleigh and Charlotte starting today.  Service is being halted due to improvement projects along the route. Amtrak Spokeswoman Amanda Perry says the closures are to give workers a chance to recondition the tracks and improve on-time service.

"It would minimize delays and service interruptions and that sort of thing.But the actual speed of the train is not expected to increase."

It's Pothole Season

Feb 11, 2011

North Carolina roads may be clear of ice and snow, but drivers still might hit trouble spots. It's the beginning of pothole season. Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbott says drivers should watch out for potholes. But he says the cold weather actually has minimized damage.

"Because we haven't had the thaw and freeze and thaw and freeze of last year potholes are not as bad as they were last year."

Wally Harrelson Dies

Feb 9, 2011

Former Guilford County Commissioner Wallace-or Wally-Harrelson has died. He was 74. Harrelson was the County's longtime Public Defender. Colleagues remember him as a mentor and a strong criminal defense lawyer. Howard Neumann, the Chief Assistant District Attorney, worked with Harrelson for 25 years:

"I don't know of anyone who has worked as hard for his clients as Mr. Harrelson did. He was a real, what we call, old-school lawyer. Did it the old fashion way."

Opposition is mounting against reopening Greensboro’s only landfill to solid household waste. The proposal upsets nearby residents who say it could harm their health and future development. A previous city council voted to close the landfill, which is located in a residential area. Former Councilwoman Goldie Wells is part of the Concerned Citizens of Northeast Greensboro.

"It shouldn’t have been brought up again because we had fought the battle once before. It’s not good for the community, not good for economic growth in this area, and really for the city of Greensboro."

Duke University is expanding its offerings in the history of economics. The university received a grant for a fellowship and visiting scholars program, and a summer teaching institute. Bruce Caldwell is an economics researcher and founder-director of Duke's Center for the History of Political Economy. He says this field is rarely studied anymore.

Elizabeth Edwards Dies

Dec 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards died at her home in Chapel Hill this morning.  She was 61.  Edwards was the estranged wife of former North Carolina Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards.  A family statement says, ``Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth's presence but she remains the heart of this family.''  Elizabeth Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.

All Raleigh City taxi cabs now have flashing lights in case the driver experiences a threatening situation. Police want citizens to call 911 if they see amber lights flashing from a taxi cab's trunk or grille. A city law requires all drivers to have the silent alarm system. Officials adopted the law after an unusually high number of cab robberies in 2008.

Fifty students will be part of the first class of the East Carolina University School of Dentistry this fall. School officials aim to meet the state's demand for more dentists. North Carolina has the fourth lowest dentist-to-population ratio in the country. The school will open 10 clinics in rural areas across North Carolina. Three of those clinics will be in Sylva, Ahoskie and Elizabeth City. Associate Dean Francis Serio says 4th-year students will spend most of their time treating patients in those clinics.

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