Associated Press

Dominion

The developers of the now-canceled Atlantic Coast Pipeline are laying out plans for how they want to go about unwinding their work and restoring disturbed land. In a filing with federal regulators made public Tuesday, the pipeline company proposed an approximately 24-month timeline for efforts West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Progress on the pipeline project ranged from none to essentially complete in some areas.

A museum in North Carolina plans to exhibit a collection of coins that were found on the Outer Banks. The coins date as far back as 221 BC and originated in places as far away as Spain and Egypt. The Virginian-Pilot reported Monday that the 55 coins are currently kept in a back room of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. Depending on state funding, there are also plans to create an app that displays each coin and the history behind it. The late William Sell and his wife, Catherine, of Pennsylvania collected the coins over decades.

COVID-19 hospitalizations and test positivity rates both are reaching record highs in North Carolina. The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Sunday there were a record-high 3,576 people hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s according to data reported by 95% of the state’s hospitals. Two weeks ago, there were 2,783 people hospitalized with the virus. That’s a difference of 793 people. On Friday, the last day for which data is available, the state’s health department says 13.6% of COVID-19 tests came back positive.

North Carolina has reported its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases so far during the pandemic. The state reported 9,527 confirmed cases New Year’s Day. That went over the state’s previous high by more than 1,000 cases. On Saturday, the state’s health department reported 9,356 cases. Cases for two days were released by the health department on Saturday. The last two days of reporting raised the number of cases in the state by a total of more than 18,800. It brings the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 558,437 cases during the pandemic.

Paul Newby is now on the job as head of North Carolina’s judicial branch. Newby took the oath for chief justice of the state Supreme Court early Friday at a small ceremony at his home. Newby has been on the court since 2005 and most recently was senior associate justice. Newby was elevated to the top position after defeating Chief Justice Cheri Beasley by just 400 votes in the November election. Newby will participate in a public swearing-in ceremony next week.

Creative Commons

At least 10,000 North Carolina public school students are unaccounted for amid the coronavirus pandemic. A recent report from the state's Department of Public Instruction estimates the whereabouts of less than 1% of the roughly 1.5 million students in the state system is unknown. The pandemic has upended the way students learn. Parents across the state having the option to have their kids learn remotely. Most students are taking at least part of their classes in person.

A North Carolina appeals court says domestic violence protection orders issued by judges must be granted to someone trying to stay apart from a same-sex dating partner, just like in opposite-sex relationships. A divided Court of Appeals on Thursday declared as unconstitutional current law expressly limiting such restraining orders upon dating couples to those of the opposite sex. The ruling stemmed from a Wake County case in 2018 involving two women. A local judge said she couldn't issue a domestic violence protection order, citing the law's language. The ruling could be appealed.

NCDPS

North Carolina has revised its vaccine distribution to more closely align its plan with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state expects most health care providers to make vaccines available to adults aged 75 or older by the middle of January. North Carolina is seeing a slowdown in the number of vaccines it is receiving from the federal government. About 60,000 doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected to be provided each week through the end of January. Gov. Roy Cooper has also set a one-month moratorium on evictions in the state.

Two leaders at the North Carolina state prison that has recorded the most COVID-19 cases among offenders have died. A state prison official confirmed Wednesday that the warden at Tabor Correctional Institution died Dec. 15 and an associate warden died Dec. 24. The official says the department can’t disclose medical details of employees. The son of the associate warden told The Charlotte Observer that his father died from coronavirus complications. Tabor has recorded 560 cases among offenders during the pandemic, although only a few cases are active.

North Carolina state employees and public school teachers won’t qualify for state medical coverage when they retire if they’re hired in 2021 and beyond. The 2017 state budget law directed the cutoff to begin in the new year. Legislative Republicans who backed the change said it was needed to rein in future anticipated health care costs for covered employees. The health plan offers supplemental insurance for Medicare enrollees and regular plan coverage for those who aren’t 65 years old. The change doesn't affect pensions, and health coverage will still be offered to active employees.

Wikipedia

One of North Carolina's most powerful contemporary political leaders has died. Former state Sen. Marc Basnight served a record 18 years as Senate leader. A family spokesperson said the Democrat died Monday afternoon at his home near the North Carolina barrier islands called the Outer Banks. He had been ill for years with what was later diagnosed as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. His nine terms as Senate president pro tempore through 2010 made him the longest-serving head of a legislative body in North Carolina history. Gov. Roy Cooper served with Basnight in the Senate.

The State Archives of North Carolina is looking for help in transcribing hundreds of old records with handwriting that one expert described as “colonial chicken scratch.” The Virginian-Pilot reported last week that some of the documents are 300 years old. The state has put the records on a website called Transcribe NC. Volunteers can take a stab at deciphering what they say. The documents are written in an outdated style with large swirls and long tails. The site offers a tutorial on how to decode the writings. Many of the documents are court records from before the Revolutionary War.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has been ordered to make changes that advocates hope will improve services for children with dyslexia. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the department has found several school districts and the agency itself were not in compliance with federal requirements for identifying children eligible for special-education services. DPI is requiring changes designed to reduce the roadblocks that may have kept some children from getting the help they need. Literacy Moms N.C.

Creative Commons

North Carolina environmental officials are looking into the failure of a hog lagoon which led to the spill of approximately 1 million gallons of untreated waste. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Water Resources is looking into the spill at a farm in Trenton in Jones County. A news release from the department on Wednesday says it was notified on Dec. 21 and conducted an on-site inspection.

NCDPS

Public inauguration festivities for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and other statewide elected officials will be subdued for the second time in a row. The coronavirus pandemic means an open-air swearing-in ceremony and inaugural parade otherwise slated for early next month are canceled. Cooper's executive orders restricting mass gatherings prevent them from happening. Neither event happened four years ago due to an approaching winter storm. Cooper's administration is now assembling a low-key televised event for Jan.

The North Carolina Supreme Court says it will remove portrait from its courtroom of a former slave-owning chief justice who once defended slavery through his court rulings. The ex-justice Thomas Ruffin argued in one case that a slaveholder should not be guilty of assault or battery of an enslaved person — and that an owner's power over his slave was absolute. An advisory commission recently recommended Ruffin's portrait be taken down. Outgoing state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley says it will be replaced with the seal of the court.

NCDPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is warning of increased transmission of the coronavirus over the Christmas holiday period. But he imposed no new restrictions on travel or gatherings as he spoke about the pandemic at a news conference Tuesday. All but eight of the North Carolina’s 100 counties are presently seeing substantial or critical levels of community spread. The state is also seeing more people in the hospital due to COVID-19 than ever before since the start of the pandemic.

NC DPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed an executive order making it easier for businesses to sell alcohol without customers having to show up in person. The order will remain in effect through the end of January as a step to help fight the coronavirus. It lets restaurants, hotels, clubs, bars and some distilleries holding certain permits from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission sell alcoholic products to-go or for delivery. Cooper's order promoting curbside and delivery options aims to let residents purchase alcohol in a safer way.

NCDPS

Gov. Roy Cooper has issued five pardons of innocence to people he believes are not guilty of the crimes they were charged with. Cooper's pardons open the door for the ex-convicts to receive $50,000 from the state for each year they were wrongly imprisoned. They can secure a maximum of $750,000. Among the inmates pardoned is Ronnie Long. Long spent 44 years in prison for a rape he says he didn’t commit. Cooper also pardoned Teddy Isbell, Sr., Kenneth Kagonyera, Damian Mills and Larry Williams, Jr.

NCDPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the state is being given too little time by the federal government to make plans for distributing Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine. Hospital workers at greatest risk of exposure to the virus are starting to get vaccinated this week. President Donald Trump's administration has yet to provide the state with a specific number of doses it can expect to receive next week. Cooper said he told Vice President Mike Pence the state would like more notice so it can better plan where to send the doses.

"Wind turbine blades" by vaxomatic is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A wind farm that is scheduled to be built off North Carolina’s Outer Banks is projected to create nearly 200 full-time jobs in Virginia and North Carolina. The Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday that the projection comes from an economic study by alternative energy developer Avangrid Renewables. The Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Project will be built roughly 27 miles off Corolla. Construction is set to begin in 2024. Building the windfarm is expected to create 800 jobs. And it will produce 193 full-time jobs in Virginia and North Carolina once it’s running.

U.S. Small Business Association

The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration in North Carolina is the next president of the state community college system. The State Board of Community Colleges voted unanimously Monday in an online meeting to choose Thomas Stith III to lead the 58-campus system. Stith succeeds Peter Hans, who was at the post for two years before being named president of the University of North Carolina system. Stith was previously Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief of staff and a Durham City Council member. COVID-19 is expected to be an early top priority for Stith.

North Carolina has awarded its 15 electoral votes to President Donald Trump, following the will of the people in a state where the Republican won a narrow victory. The group of electors met Monday in Raleigh at the old Hall of the House of Representatives in the State Capitol Building. The pandemic has shifted the look of the Electoral College, with members and others in attendance required to get their temperature checked upon entry and wear a mask once inside.

NCWRC

State officials in North Carolinians say that hunting and fishing have increased this year. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Sunday that license revenue from fishing, hunting and combination licenses rose more than 20% in the past seven to eight months. Vessel revenue was up more than 10%. That information comes from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Paul Thompson, northern mountains land management biologist with WRC, says the increase is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has conceded to Republican Paul Newby in their extremely close election after two rounds of recounts saw little change in the vote margin between them. Beasley said she called Newby on Saturday to congratulate him. Newby had led Beasley by 401 votes from almost 5.4 million ballots cast after a statewide machine recount was completed last week. Beasley then requested a hand recount of ballots. Newby is the senior associate justice. Beasley became the first Black female chief justice in North Carolina when Gov.

The chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court says non-essential, in-person court proceedings will be halted starting Monday for 30 days due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley says in a news release on Friday that the pause is necessary to protect the health and safety of court personnel and the public. According to the news release, since the start of the pandemic, judicial branch officials and employees have reported 291 confirmed positive cases.

Officials have suspended the search for a kayaker who disappeared while fishing on the North Carolina coast, and a reward is being offered to anyone who finds him. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission announced on Wednesday that the agency had suspended its search for 26-year-old Alexander Rush of Kill Devil Hills. On Thursday, the commission announced that a local family was offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who finds Rush, who was fishing near the Old Manns Harbor Bridge in Dare County around 7 p.m. Saturday.

NCDPS

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislative leaders say they’ve found a solution to address the potential loss of $30 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for rural broadband. The governor and GOP lawmakers disagreed on whether the money had to be spent by the end of the month. They worked out a deal whereby the $30 million will be used for other qualifying expenses. Then lawmakers will vote early next year to spend the same amount in state dollars for more broadband grants.

The relocation of the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles headquarters from Raleigh to Rocky Mount is almost complete. DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup told a legislative commitee on Thursday that the final office shifts will be completed by Dec. 19. The move-ins began in July. Almost 500 positions are being relocated. The move is the result of a 2018 law. The Rocky Mount headquarters won’t provide in-person services to the public. Jessup says the state is trying to address a high vacancy rate with headquarters jobs. It's likely that many workers didn't want to make the move.

A task force that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper commissioned to study K-12 educator diversity has finalized its recommendations.  The DRIVE Task Force was comprised of nearly three-dozen educators, administrators, education advocates, government and university system representatives and business leaders. Black, Hispanic and other minority students comprised 53% of the statewide public school population in the 2018-19 school year but only 21% of teachers were considered minorities.

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