Wake County

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.

Wake County District Attorney Colon WIlloughby
http://web.co.wake.nc.us/ / Wake County District Attorney's Office

  

In his 27 years as Wake County’s District Attorney, Colon Willoughby has prosecuted everything from high-profile murder cases to corruption in state government. For Willoughby, integrity and impartiality are vital components of the role. 

Trash at a state landfill.
N.C. Division of Waste Management

The amount of garbage headed to the Wake County has dropped significantly in the past few years.

In 2009, the county buried 460,000 tons of garbage. That dropped to 400,000 last year.

Wake County Solid Waste Manager John Roberson says a number of factors impacted the reduction in waste going to the landfill: People bought and threw out less during the recession, recycling options improved, and commercial waste businesses disposed of garbage elsewhere.

Roberson says his division saw a $2 million drop in revenue over the past four years.

Light rail transit with Amtrak visualization of area near Durham Station Transportation Center.
Triangle Transit Authority

  

Wake County commissioners invited a panel of experts to weigh-in on possible plans to develop rail transit in the county.

The three experts urged the county to focus on other mass transit solutions like expanding the bus system. Host Frank Stasio talks with Bruce Siceloff, a reporter for the News & Observer about the future of mass transit in Wake County.

A 14-mile light rail line is part of Triangle Transit's proposal for Wake County.
Triangle Transit Authority

Commissioners in Wake County are holding their first public discussion about a plan for expanded bus and light rail services.

The board meets Tuesday morning with three transit experts from outside the state.  It's the county's first public meeting about the plan, which Triangle Transit Authority presented in 2011.  Commissioners have declined to bring it up for discussion since then. 

Commissioner Paul Coble says he wants a second opinion.

An artist's rendering of the Northeast Regional Library planned for Raleigh.
Streamside Perspective / Wake County

Commissioners in Wake County have started the process of reviving construction projects for new libraries.  The board voted Monday night to revisit plans for a regional library in northeast Raleigh. 

The county drew up a design in 2007, but construction was postponed during the recession.  Voters passed a $45 million bond that year for library projects across the county, but commissioner Phil Matthews suggested this week that staff members should review population growth before going ahead with other plans in Garner, Cary and Fuquay-Varina.

A new study finds that mothers who participated in a domestic violence awareness program were more likely to leave abusive relationships.
Ian D. Keating via Flickr, Creative Commons

    

One in four women in America will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

UNC Health Care has opened a new mental hospital in Wake County after building repairs caused a two-month delay. 

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.

wake bus
Dave DeWitt

The Wake County Republican Party is opposing bond referendums for Raleigh transportation and public school construction projects. 

Voters will decide in October whether to approve $75 million in improvements to sidewalks and roads as well as traffic calming projects in Raleigh.  The Wake GOP executive committee says it voted to oppose that bond due to the city's accumulating debt. 

A bus participating in the Bus on Shoulder System (BOSS) program.
NCDOT

After a year of success in Durham County, the state's first Bus on Shoulder System (BOSS) is ready to expand into Wake County. The North Carolina Department of Transportation allows transit buses to travel on the shoulders of designated stretches of roadways to bypass congested traffic, but only when speeds drop below 35 miles per hour.

Wake County Justice Center
Wake County

The Wake County Justice Center opened officially yesterday in downtown Raleigh, combining the latest security measures with a high-tech, efficient design.

When visitors enter the main lobby of the Wake County Justice Center – after passing through airport-level security - they are greeted with an array of electronic message boards directing them to whatever government function they are seeking: 19 courtrooms, the Commissioners Board Room, District Attorney’s office, Register of Deeds, even a café. All of it in an 11-story building designed to achieve a LEED silver rating for environmental efficiency.

a pharmicist
NC Department of Health and Human Services

Behavioral health clinics in Wake County are shutting down today. That means about 2,000 people who have mental illnesses and rely on Medicaid are transitioning to treatment from private providers, but the county has been under a time crunch to transfer patients and some doctors worry theirs are falling through the cracks.

Margery Sved is a psychiatrist with Wake County Health and Human Services and one of 200 people who are being laid off today.

Wake School Bus
Dave DeWitt

Tonight, the Wake County School Board will continue its discussions on hiring a superintendent.

It’s been more than two weeks since the three finalists for Wake Superintendent visited the district for a hectic few days of interviews and public appearances. Wake School Board Chair Keith Sutton initially indicated a new superintendent would be hired within a few days, but delays have pushed it back to tonight, at the earliest.

Wake County Justice Center
www.wakegov.com

Many Wake County employees are moving into a new downtown justice center this week.

County officials have invested three years of construction and $184 million in their new government headquarters.  Office workers have begun setting up in the facility.  The county's Register of Deeds will the first to open its doors Wednesday.

Durham City Hall
City of Durham

County commissioners and city council members across the state turn their attention to their local budgets this week. 

Many local governments are avoiding increases on property taxes as they craft their budgets for the next fiscal year.  But they're also expecting less direct funding from the state and increasing some fees for services like solid waste or animal control. 

North Carolina's Congressional District 12 in 1992.
http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us

In 2010, when Republicans won control of the state House and Senate, they radically redrew voting districts in favor of their own party.  In previous elections, Democrats have done the same.  Now, there's a bipartisan effort in the state House of Representatives to reform the redistricting process.

Meals on Wheels volunteers in Wake County.
Meals on Wheels of Wake County

The automatic budget cuts or sequester handed down from Washington are starting to affect North Carolina organizations that serve seniors.  Meals on Wheels of Wake County says they got the news last week.  Sequestration means they will lose funding that equates to 12,000 meals a year.  Alan Winstead, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels of Wake County, says he’s confident they will find alternative funding to continue serving hot lunches to 1,300 seniors a day, but the budget cuts have other implications. 

A group of Wake County mayors is asking the legislature to repeal a law that bans a possible route for the rest of highway 540. The panel voted Wednesday to put the so-called "Red Route" back on the table after federal regulators said they would cut funding for the project if the state does not allow the DOT to study all possible routes. That proposal has been unpopular among the planning board. It would take 540 through Garner rather than around the south side of the town. Most mayors say they voted to repeal the Red Route ban in order to get the funds back.

Advocates are speaking out about a spike in domestic violence-related homicides in Wake County. There have been five alleged such killings in the last four months - one more than in all of last year. Organizers of a silent march in downtown Raleigh yesterday say about 75 people turned out to honor Agata Vellotti. Police say she was killed by her estranged husband 2 weeks ago. Another march will be held for Kathleen Bertrand, allegedly shot by her ex-husband at a Raleigh shopping center on Monday.

Wake County Commissioners' efforts to reduce the amount of pollution in Falls Lake and Jordan Lake got a little complicated this week.

Gurnal Scott: Both lakes are considered polluted because of excessive nutrients washed in by stormwater runoff. They are primary sources of Wake County’s drinking water. Commissioners approved new rules requiring developers to use more retention ponds to prevent further pollution. But this week, state lawmakers delayed action on clean water rules. Commissioner Tony Gurley was surprised by that.

New Policy To Control Feral Cats In Wake County

Jun 5, 2012

In the past, Wake County euthanized all unwanted cats. But not anymore. The county is adopting a new approach to control its feral cat population.

Asma Khalid: Feral cats are unsocialized. They can't live indoors. This new policy allows private animal groups the right to trap, neuter, vaccinate and then return these alley cats to the outdoors.  The Wake Audobon Society opposes the plan. It fears more outdoor cats will mean fewer birds. But, Pam Miller says that's not true.

Public transportation has long been a contentious topic in the Triangle. As cities like Charlotte have expanded bus service and built a light-rail system, cities like Raleigh and Durham have failed to keep up.

But now, a plan to increase busses and begin the long process of connecting the cities in the Triangle by rail is just a few steps from being implemented. Those last few steps are proving to be the hardest.

Wake County residents who need mental health care could become UNC Health Care patients later this year.

Voters will go to the polls tomorrow with a lot of decisions to make. Local and statewide nominees will be determined, as will a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. Local elections boards have seen a unique set of circumstances in preparing for election day.

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