Wake County

State Senator Tom Apodaca
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The General Assembly adjourned late Friday and lawmakers headed home.

They passed a $22.3 billion budget before they left, giving state employees a small raise and setting aside more money for the rainy day fund. They also made a small tweak to House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill.

Photo: A voting ballot
Flickr Creative Commons/ Ken Zirkel

A federal judge in Raleigh is hearing arguments this week on a case that challenges the legality of new electoral maps for the Wake County boards of commissioners and education. While several lawsuits have challenged the constitutionality of districts drawn by the Republican-majority General Assembly since 2011, this one focuses on the maps in only one county.

Housing
Leoneda Inge

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates today but experts say that’s unlikely to slow down the real estate boom in the Triangle. Most of the action is in Wake County, especially in Fuquay-Varina and Morrisville. 

A picture of a folded wad of cash.
401kcalculator.org / Flickr

Wake County Commissioners voted yesterday to raise the pay floor for county employees to $13.50 per-hour.

A picture of a sale sign in front of a home.
myguysmoving.com / Flickr

The switch to a year-round calendar for 22 schools in Wake County may have hurt some home prices, according to a new study out of Elon University and RTI International. It looked at how home prices changed after Wake made a controversial decision in 2007 to convert 22 schools to a year-round calendar.

An image of life expectancy across NC counties
VCU Center on Society and Health

A couple miles up Highway 540 in Raleigh could mean a difference of 12 years in life expectancy, according to new maps from the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Image of Glen Warren and his three children
Glen Warren

Glen Warren vividly remembers the first moments of single fatherhood: he was standing in the living room of his new mobile home with his three kids, and he quickly realized that he had no idea how to make them dinner. 

In the coming years he learned how to piece together meals, filed for child support, and worked multiple jobs to put food on the table. And through all of this, he became increasingly certain about one thing: fatherhood is incredibly important. 

Image of the jacket cover image of The End of Consensus
UNC Press

School board elections usually garner little public attention, but in 2009, media outlets across the country were covering the contentious school board election in Wake County. The election occurred against a backdrop of increasing concerns over student assignment policies, tremendous population growth, and the rise of the state’s Republican party.

Image of Greensboro Skyline
Beyonce245 / Wikimedia Commons

Two controversial redistricting bills passed last week in the Senate are headed for debate on the House floor. 

Senate Bill 181, introduced by Republican Chad Barefoot of Wake County, modifies the boundaries for Wake County Commissioner Seats. Senate Bill 36, introduced by Republican Trudy Wade of Guilford County, reconfigures the Greensboro City Council to a seven-member body in which the mayor has no voting power.  Both bills raise questions about the role of state lawmakers in controlling local governing bodies. 

Millbrook High School A. P. Human Geography teacher Mark Grow at work
Reema Khrais, WUNC

Many North Carolina students have been in class for only two days in the last two weeks because of the icy weather. But that doesn’t mean some of them haven’t been learning, or that teachers have stopped teaching.

On Friday morning at Millbrook High School in Wake County, Mark Grow carefully sidestepped an icy pathway where someone was shoveling.

“It’s been pretty slippery trying to get in and out of the building,” he said as he walked inside a school pod.

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

The U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday on a lawsuit challenging Wake County’s school board election maps.

The Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice is challenging the 2013 redistricting on behalf of a handful of Wake County residents and two local organizations. They argue that the new districts drawn by the Republican-led General Assembly disfavor urban voters.

House Under Construction
Dave DeWitt

 Members of the Cary Town Council are calling on county officials to help address the issue of overcrowding in Wake County public schools.

Earlier this month, the council tabled a request to rezone about 58 acres in west Cary that would have created 130 new homes.

Some members say they don’t feel comfortable moving forward with the plan just yet – at least not while many of the nearby schools are at or above capacity.

Photo of Republican John Alexander and Democrat Tom Bradshaw
Alexander for NC Senate, Tom Bradshaw for NC Senate

Wednesday afternoon former Raleigh Mayor Tom Bradshaw congratulated  opponent John Alexander on winning their race for the North Carolina Senate, after Wake County Board of Elections officials gave the final results of a re-count.

Bradshaw and Alexander’s race to represent a portion of northern Wake County -- the only one in the General Assembly to go to a re-count after this month’s election -- came down to 701 votes, or about .86 percent of the turn-out. The contest was one of a mere dozen or so that were competitive in the 170-seat body.

A pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed on Wake Tech campus.
WRAL via Twitter

Officials say one worker has been killed and four others were hurt when a pedestrian bridge under construction on Wake Tech Community College's northern campus collapsed. Wake County EMS officials say the four men suffered injuries Thursday that were serious enough to send them to a hospital trauma unit.

Jeff Hammerstein with Wake EMS says he thinks the highest point on the bridge was 40 feet above the ground. 

The four Democratic winners pose with Congressman David Price
Reema Khrais

After sweeping all four open seats, Democrats now have full control of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

“It looks like we did it. The people of Wake County have chosen to move forward,” said John Burns, a business lawyer from Raleigh. He unseated Coble.

Democrats Matt Calabria, Sig Hutchinson, John Burns and Jessica Holmes each captured about 55 percent of the vote, defeating Commissioners Joe Bryant, Paul Coble, Phil Matthews and Rich Gianni.

Photo of Republican John Alexander and Democrat Tom Bradshaw
Alexander for NC Senate, Tom Bradshaw for NC Senate

The friendship between Tom Bradshaw and John Alexander has lasted more than 40 years, and has revolved around YMCA gymnasiums.

Bradshaw has been dedicated to the Y since he went to youth camps growing up. And Alexander, whose father got involved decades ago, has spent much of his life at the YMCA.  

They’re both on the executive board of the YMCA of the Triangle and on other community boards.

This year they both want to be the state senator for the northern part of Wake County.

Wake County commissioners heard from health officials today on the county's readiness should an Ebola case be diagnosed here.  The leaders cited several calls of concern they've received from residents after the disease was discovered in a hospital patient in Texas. 

Wake County health experts say they are working with hospitals, universities and airport authorities to ensure the earliest warnings are given should a case appear in North Carolina.  

Brent Myers is the medical director for Wake County EMS.  He says the county's efforts are being replicated across the state.

Wake County
www.wakegov.com

Wake County is celebrating a major milestone this week. Latest numbers show the county will welcome its one millionth resident.

So, bring out the pulled pork and the craft beer!  If calculations from the Census Bureau and the Carolina Population Center are correct, Wake County will have one million residents by Friday.

Phil Matthews is Chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Glenwood Elementary students
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

Wake commissioners voted Monday against a referendum that could have raised the county's sales tax by a quarter-cent to generate about $28 million to go toward public schools.

Some Wake Commissioners wanted to hold the vote because the General Assembly might limit their ability to raise sales taxes. Lawmakers want to cap the local sales tax rate to 2.5 percent. The measure would allow some of the large urban counties, including Wake, to bypass that requirement if they levy a quarter percent tax this November.

A picture of a gavel on a table.
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

A decision by a Wake County District Judge to dismiss the cases against five Moral Monday protesters could affect many more of them. Judge Joyce Hamilton came out of retirement to help decide many of the cases.

Last week, Hamilton considered a recent Supreme Court decision that prohibited Massachusetts from blocking protesters in a buffer zone around abortion clinics before making her decision.

Photo: Woman at a cash register
MIKI Yoshito via Flickr

A state Senate committee is recommending a plan that would curtail the ability of four of North Carolina's most populous counties, including Wake, to raise their local sales tax.

A picture of segments of pipeline.
Harald Hoyer / Creative Commons

PSNC Energy is taking feedback from property owners about plans to lay a natural gas pipeline. The company wants to extend an existing transmission line from Northern Wake County into Eastern Franklin County and south to Zebulon.

PSNC Spokeswoman Angela Townsend said the company is working to keep up with anticipated population growth in the area. She did not comment on the projected increase of customers or pipeline capacity. Townsend said the extension would be up to 29 miles long.

Gavel, Court
SalFalko via Flickr, Creative Commons

 A Wake County superior court judge ruled Friday that a state law ending teacher tenure is unconstitutional, arguing the state cannot take away the due process rights of teachers.  

Judge Robert Hobgood ordered a permanent injunction against the law, which would eliminate career status – commonly known as teacher tenure – by 2018. His ruling also said that the law violated the constitutional protection of contracts, and the prohibition against taking a person’s property.

The FBI says a North Carolina man who was rescued from kidnappers on Wednesday might have been targeted because of his daughter’s work as a prosecutor in Wake County.

Frank Janssen was missing from his home in Wake Forest for five days before an FBI team found and rescued him in Atlanta.

Investigators say Janssen’s captors were communicating via cell phone with a man whom Janssen’s daughter, a prosecutor who focuses on drug and gang cases, put in prison for life.

Jerry Tillman
Dave DeWitt

Next month, a million or so North Carolina public-school students between third and twelfth grade will start taking tests. Lots of them. Reading and math tests for the younger kids; biology, Algebra, and English for the older kids.

Their scores will be tabulated and run through some servers at SAS Institute, a private company in Cary. There, software called EVAAS will compare the test score the student earned to one a statistical model predicted the student should get.

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