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The U.S. Department of Justice is suing a North Carolina county, alleging that a 911 operator was fired after she complained about being sexually harassed on the job. According to the lawsuit, Jennifer Riddle began working for Wilson County Emergency Communications in 2017 and was sexually harassed by the agency’s assistant director. The lawsuit says that when she complained of the harassment, an investigation substantiated her complaints and county officials fired the assistant director.

Military Bases

Two Navy sailors have died due to complications from COVID-19, amid growing concerns about the deadly delta variant and new federal guidance to increase mask use. A Navy reservist based in Idaho died Monday, and a doctor assigned to the Naval Medical Center at Camp Lejeune, N.C., died last Friday, bringing the total number of sailor COVID deaths to 10. The Navy identified the sailors Wednesday as Master-at-Arms First Class Allen Hillman, 47, of Boise, and Capt. Corby Ropp, 48, of Camp Lejeune. Their deaths are the first COVID-related ones in the Navy since April 29.

Police at a North Carolina university have accused a Pennsylvania man of setting a campus patrol SUV on fire. A news release from East Carolina University on Wednesday says officers received a call on Tuesday about one of its vehicles on fire off campus. Damage to the vehicle was confined to the rear and the fire was quickly extinguished. The news release says an ECU patrol sergeant located the suspect and apprehended him after he tried to flee. Authorities filed multiple charges against 20-year-old Fernando Daniel Laurens, including three counts of felony arson to personal property.

NCDPS

North Carolina’s state health department is compelling workers, volunteers and others at 14 state-run health care facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September. If they don't get the vaccine and do not qualify for an approved medical or religious exemption, they could be fired. Several North Carolina hospital systems are requiring staff to get vaccinated if they want to remain employed. Republican House Speaker Tim Moore criticized the new mandate state health officials established Tuesday.

N.C. Coastal Land Trust

One of North Carolina’s last privately owned undeveloped barrier islands is now conserved.  The 2.5-mile long Hutaff Island, located between Lea Island and Topsail Beach in southern Pender County, serves as nesting grounds for sea turtles and shorebirds. The island also has more than 1,000 acres of tidal marsh and creeks that serve as nursery habitat for fish, shrimp, and crabs. The conservation partnership involves The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, Audubon North Carolina and the Hutaff/McEachern family, funded by conservation philanthropist Tim Sweeney.

The N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division says it is suspending its Currituck-Knotts Island service to alleviate a staffing shortage at the Hatteras terminal. NCDOT says in a news release that Currituck-Knotts Island route will resume its scheduled service on July 31. Earlier this year, the department said its ferry service was facing a shortage of deck hands, seamen and captains. The Virginian-Pilot reported in the spring that there is often a waiting list to get a ferry job. But this year the service needs to fill an expanded summer schedule.

Disposable face masks have protected millions of people from the COVID-19 pandemic. Once used, they are often abandoned in trash cans or left on sidewalks. But soon these masks might have a new purpose in road construction. Ashlyn DeLoughy has the details.

NCDPS

North Carolina COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have skyrocketed in recent weeks amid spread of the more contagious delta variant. But despite the rises in cases, the state appears unlikely to implement new restrictions. It is instead moving forward with plans to eliminate its statewide mask mandate and ease masking guidelines for high school students starting on Friday.  This has prompted concerns from teacher advocates that it may be less safe to return to work.

NCDOT Ferry Division

North Carolina transportation officials say successful drone flights this week to Ocracoke have them hopeful that it may soon get easier to deliver vital supplies to the remote Outer Banks island amid bad weather. The North Carolina Department of Transportation and drone logistics company Volansi completed two successful trial flights of a delivery drone from a ferry dock in Hatteras to Ocracoke Island. That's according to a news release the department issued Friday. The tests conducted Thursday involved an eight-mile round-trip flight.

NCDEQ

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries is asking local anglers to donate their fish carcasses for science. 


Officials say no one was seriously injured when a small airplane flipped over onto its roof shortly after landing at the Ocracoke Island Airport on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. A news release from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore said the incident happened around 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The single-engine airplane came to rest in grass near the end of the runway, and emergency officials responded. Neither the pilot nor passenger required transport to a hospital. The Federal Aviation Administration was notified and no further details were immediately available.

North Carolina General Assembly

The North Carolina General Assembly is slowing down this week as lawmakers prepare for budget negotiations and action on other measures during August. The state Senate plans no recorded floor votes until next week, while House leaders say they’ll take up legislation in floor sessions only on Monday evening and Tuesday. This week’s break is happening largely because some Republicans are traveling to a conference. Senate leader Phil Berger says his chamber is also awaiting the House to approve its version of the state government budget.

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The House select committee on the Jan. 6 insurrection is holding its first hearing. The committee has been plagued with partisan conflict but is pushing forward to investigate the events leading up to and during the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Watch the hearing live at 9:30 a.m.

Wikipedia

Former Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory wants to have three debates with U.S. Rep. Tedd Budd and former Rep. Mark Walker. The three Republican candidates are competing for the party's nomination for an open 2022 U.S. Senate seat. McCrory raised the most money in the latest reporting period but Budd has seen an uptick in momentum after getting the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. McCrory announced on Thursday that he would like one of the primary debates in the late fall and the other two in early 2022. Walker agreed to the debates.

(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Commercial fishermen sold nearly 20% less fish and shellfish to North Carolina seafood dealers in 2020, a decline from the previous year that's being blamed on the state's stay-at-home order brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries says in a news release that commercial fishermen sold 42.9 million pounds of fish and shellfish last year, a decrease of 19% from 2019 and about a 23% decrease from the previous five-year average.

Major hospital systems across North Carolina will soon require workers to get a COVID-19 shot if they want to keep working at the facilities. The decision comes as state health officials warn of a rise in cases fueled by the delta variant. Communities with large unvaccinated populations have been particularly hard hit. The state Healthcare Association said on Thursday that Duke Health, Atrium Health and many UNC Health hospitals will soon compel workers to get vaccinated. Dr.

Authorities say the bodies of two brothers from Virginia have been found after the helicopter they were traveling in disappeared off the North Carolina coast. The Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office says officials were notified Thursday that the body of one man was found in the Albemarle Sound. Responders recovered the body of John Arant and a short time later, they found the body of his brother, Alan, who was the pilot of the aircraft. Emergency responders began their search after a concerned friend notified officials that they lost communication with the helicopter Monday evening.

Colleagues of the late North Carolina Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin are remembering her as a trailblazer for women in public service who accomplished much during a life cut short by cancer. The House and Senate approved a resolution on Wednesday remembering Goodwin, who died last September at age 50. Goodwin served in the state House from 2005 through 2010. She also made state history by becoming the first lawmaker to give birth while holding office in 2008. Goodwin later served on the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

The state of North Carolina and scores of local governments could receive $750 million combined from a $26 billion proposed national settlement with several opioid producers. Attorney General Josh Stein’s office gave out the figure on Wednesday. He was one of several attorneys general who negotiated the settlement.  A memorandum of agreement between North Carolina and local governments directs 15% of the state’s settlement share be earmarked for the General Assembly to spend. The rest would go to all 100 counties and some municipalities.

NC DPS

North Carolina health officials and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper announced they will eliminate the statewide mask mandate and ease masking requirements in schools. The new recommendations released on Wednesday urge K-8 schools to require masks for students and staff while they are indoors but allows fully vaccinated high school students and staff to be unmasked. The mask mandate expires at 5 p.m. on July 30. That's the same time the updated school reopening guidance takes effect.

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Legislation to legalize marijuana for medical use in North Carolina has advanced through another state Senate panel. Members of the Senate Finance Committee voted for the legislation on Wednesday. The bill would allow patients of who have of several “debilitating medical conditions” like cancer, epilepsy or HIV to purchase and use marijuana products. Ten marijuana producers licensed by a new state commission could open four stores each. The measure still must go through two more committees before reaching the Senate floor.

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Legislation that would end the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s century-long role overseeing state interscholastic sports has cleared a Senate committee. The Republican-authored bill recommended on Wednesday would create a new North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission. It would enforce student eligibility rules from the State Board of Education and adopt and enforce game rules and sportsmanship standards. Bill supporters say the association isn’t using its power to primarily benefit student-athletes and its member schools.

A bill in North Carolina would require children to get parental permission before they could receive COVID-19 vaccines approved by federal regulators for emergency use. The parent or guardian requirement is contained in a bill approved by a Senate committee on Wednesday that also would expand the types of medications that immunizing pharmacists can administer. Currently only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available to children from 12 to 17. North Carolina law currently allows these children to make this vaccination decision.

The family of a North Carolina woman killed in a crash with a sheriff’s deputy will receive $1.25 million in a settlement agreement. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports 63-year-old Shirley Ann James was killed in a January crash with a Johnston County Sheriff's Office patrol car driven by 24-year-old Deputy Quinton Rhue. According to reports, Rhue had been driving with his lights and siren on when he began to pass traffic on U.S. Highway 301. James was traveling in the same direction and was turning when she was struck by Rhue’s patrol car.

USS North Carolina Battleship

A nearly four-year project to repair the hull of the USS North Carolina battleship is complete. News outlets report the cofferdam surrounding the battleship was flooded with water from the Cape Fear River on Tuesday to mark completion of the repairs. A Wilmington-based company cut and replaced steel on the bow and also repainted affected areas of the hull. The battleship arrived in Wilmington in 1961 after serving in World War II. It's suffered over 50 years of corrosion from the Cape Fear River and plans to repair the ship’s hull have been on the table since at least 2010.

At-home COVID-19 vaccinations are now available to North Carolinians who cannot leave their homes.  The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council Area Agency on Aging for the new initiative.  Caregivers, providers, and individuals with limited mobility can schedule an at-home vaccination by completing an online form or by calling 1-866-303-0026.  The announcement comes as state health officials urge anyone 12 and over to get a vaccine as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads across North Carolina.

NCDHHS

Two unvaccinated people are now among those who have died from COVID-19 in Onslow County in the last week.  Onslow County now has a total of 157 COVID-19 related deaths.  The highly contagious Delta variant, which was detected in the county on July 12, is likely leading to a surge in new cases. According to a news release, about 350 new cases were reported in the past week.  The county reports it’s seen a 163% increase in cases in the last two weeks.

North Carolina's unemployment rate has fallen for the ninth consecutive month. The state Commerce Department reports the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.6% in June, compared to 4.8% in May. It's a streak of declining rates going back to October.  Data released by the agency show more people entered North Carolina’s labor force and were hired in June compared to the month before. Figures in May had signaled a decline in the number of people actively seeking work.

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At the same time the North Carolina Zoo is seeing a huge increase in visitors compared with last year, it’s struggling to find staff to keep all of its exhibits open.  Diane Villa is director of communications and marketing for the zoo in Asheboro zoo. She tells The Courier-Tribune the zoo is having trouble finding applicants “like just about every other business out there.” The newspaper reports most attractions are open, but certain features like an obstacle course and feeding activities have remained closed.

Law enforcement in North Carolina have arrested a woman who they they say posed as a member of the military and scammed a person out of more than $7,000. The Pitt County Sheriff's Office received a report that a resident met a woman on an online dating site who said she needed money to ship her belongings home from overseas. Investigators determined the woman was using a fake name and identified her as a 63-year-old woman from Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Multiple charges were filed against the suspect, and she was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

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