Associated Press

The National Park Service says a North Carolina man has died while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off the Outer Banks. According to a news release, the man, who was from Horse Shoe in Henderson County but whose identity wasn’t immediately released, was reported by a friend to be feeling tired in the ocean without a flotation device. The park service says he was in the ocean near the northern entrance to Buxton. The friend called 911 at around 11 a.m., and Hatteras Island Rescue Squad personnel went into the ocean and brought the man to shore, where they performed CPR.

"greenhouse gas" by Gerald Simmons is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper have announced an agreement on an energy bill that aims to meet Cooper’s goals on greenhouse gas reductions. The measure would remove most of the prescriptive actions that House Republicans laid out in an earlier version of the bill that passed the chamber in July. Friday's deal still would allow Duke Energy to seek multiyear rate increases, instead of year by year. The new bill tells the Utilities Commission to create a roadmap on how to reach goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

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Onslow County Schools said they’ve seen an 89% decrease in student quarantines three weeks after implementing masking requirements.  According to a news release, the number of students excluded from school after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 peaked at more than 2,300 on September 9th.  Data reported Friday indicated 251 students were actively excluded from classes.  Prior to the masking policy, not all students were wearing face coverings.  On Sept.

North Carolina is renaming four state prisons and a drug addiction treatment facility for probationers because their current names are connected to racism or slavery. The Department of Public Safety announced the changes on Thursday. They go into effect next week. Two of the locations — in Hoffman and Goldsboro — have been named for 20th century governors Cameron Morrison and Gregg Cherry. Prisons in Tillery, Butner and Black Mountain also are getting renamed.

Persistent liquor shortages on local Alcoholic Beverage Control store shelves prompted North Carolina lawmakers to question the current top state ABC official and the distribution contractor. The House ABC committee met for two hours Wednesday with the deputy ABC commissioner and a lawyer representing the company called LB&B Associates. The committee chairman says he had a lot more questions than answers at the close of the hearing. The implementation of a new inventory and ordering software program hasn't been smooth.

All or parts of more than 30 new laws in North Carolina take effect Friday. They include new police accountability reporting requirements, rules for sheriff’s candidates, mandated clergy hospital visitation and Sunday bottled liquor sales. One law directs police and deputy standards commissions to create a public database of law enforcement officers who have had their certifications revoked or suspended. Hospitals also must let a clergy member visit a patient even when there’s a declared emergency like the one under COVID-19, provided the minister complies with health protocols.

Republicans at the North Carolina legislature have turned back efforts to repeal a new law that requires school districts to vote regularly on face masks. Critics say the law has contributed to recent raucous board meetings. The House on Wednesday rejected an amendment to an education bill that would have scaled back the law. School boards must vote at least once a month on whether their face covering policy for students and staff should be modified. Nearly all of the state’s 115 districts have agreed to require face coverings in some form. Gov.

North Carolina General Assembly

The North Carolina General Assembly has wrapped up internal negotiations towards fashioning a two-year state budget. Now heavy lifting begins to see if acceptable changes for all can be made so Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will sign a final proposal. House Speaker Tim Moore said Wednesday that he and Senate leader Phil Berger completed their meetings to hammer out remaining differences between the two chambers. Now Republicans will present their negotiated plan to Cooper and his aides. The governor likely will say what changes he wants.

The police chief in a northeastern North Carolina city is Gov. Roy Cooper’s next public safety secretary. Cooper on Tuesday appointed Elizabeth City Public Safety Director Eddie Buffaloe to become his secretary of the state Department of Public Safety. Buffaloe is also the current president of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police. Buffaloe is subject to state Senate confirmation. He succeeds Erik Hooks, who was nominated by President Joe Biden to become deputy administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A former North Carolina police officer has been accused of stealing guns from the police department where he worked. In a news release issued Tuesday, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation says former North Topsail Beach police officer Mark William Ray Jr. is charged  with 15 counts of obtaining property by false pretense, embezzlement, and felony conversion. The SBI says the North Topsail Beach police chief asked the agency in March to investigate suspected thefts of several firearms being held as evidence at the police department.

NCDPS

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper says he'll aim to get Republican lawmakers to fund North Carolina public education improvements a judge says the state must start implementing. He made the comments Tuesday about a decades-old school funding case called “Leandro.” He also spoke as a critical phase of state budget talks will soon begin. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore are expected this week to send to Cooper an initial joint offer on state government spending for the next two years.

Nine North Carolina counties are benefiting from 25 ambulances and their crews provided by the federal government to help locals struggling to respond to the spikes in calls during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Division of Emergency Management says the two-person ambulance crews are ready to work after receiving personal protective gear and communications gear on Monday. The crews are assigned to Brunswick, Franklin, Graham, Guilford, Macon, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Pender and Robeson counties. The ambulances could be assigned elsewhere after 10 days.

A North Carolina-based hospital system says more than 175 of its workers have been fired for failing to comply with its vaccination requirement. Novant Health announced the firings on Monday. Last week, Novant Health announced 375 employees had been suspended and been given five days to comply with the mandate. The deadline was Friday. Of the 375, spokesperson Megan Rivers says nearly 200 workers came into compliance. Rivers didn’t provide specific numbers on how many lost their jobs.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a measure that would have limited powers of the attorney general to enter into future legal settlements. The legislation was passed by Republicans furious with Attorney General Josh Stein's handling of a 2020 elections lawsuit. The measure would have required formal approval of settlements challenging state law or the constitution by the Senate leader and House speaker when they're named parties.

Dozens of people have gathered to urge the governor to pardon a North Carolina man who served more than two decades behind bars for a murder he said he didn’t commit. Dontae Sharpe and his allies held a vigil Friday in front of Gov. Roy Cooper’s state residence. Sharpe was released from prison in 2019 when a judge ordered a new trial for him and the prosecutor wouldn’t pursue a retrial. He filed a pardon application. A pardon of innocence means Sharpe would receive monetary compensation. A Cooper spokesperson said a decision would occur by the end of the year.

North Carolina's highest court says it's constitutional for the state to require people convicted of the most serious sex offenses to be monitored perpetually by satellite-linked bracelets. But the influence of Friday's state Supreme Court majority opinion may be muted, since a new law will soon reduce lifetime GPS monitoring of such “aggravated offenders” and others convicted of sex crimes to 10 years. The majority overturned a lower appeals court decision that monitoring was reasonable only for the time the named defendant was on post-release supervision.

NCDPS

New state data shows roughly one in three of the more than 56,000 state government employees required to get a COVID-19 shot or be tested weekly are not yet fully vaccinated. Law enforcement and state prison officials have been the least likely to get vaccinated. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said those who do not get the vaccine or perform weekly testing can be punished. Nearly 9 in 10 workers within the Office of State Budget and Management and Office of State Human Resources are fully vaccinated.

An agency which accounts for missing U.S. soldiers says it has identified the remains of a North Carolina man who served in World War II. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says in a news release Thursday that it identified U.S. Army 1st Lt. James E. Wright of Parkton. The news release says Wright was assigned in September 1944 to the 5th Infantry Division, a part of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army. Wright disappeared as soldiers retreated across the Moselle River against German opposition.

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North Carolina Republican legislators say there’s an agreement in principle that would lead to new controls upon the nonprofit body governing high school sports. But there’s still uncertainty, as all the details haven’t been worked out. House and Senate GOP members who’ve scrutinized the North Carolina High School Athletic Association say lawmakers from both chambers met with representatives of Gov. Roy Cooper, the State Board of Education and the association. The association and education board would sign a formal memo on how the association would oversee interscholastic sports.

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People attending the 2021 N.C. State Fair won’t be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19, but officials say it’s strongly encouraged. A statement from fair officials also says any size or type of clear bag is acceptable. Wristlets, diaper bags and medical equipment bags will be accepted at the fair even if they are not clear, but they will require additional inspection. In addition, officials say there will be no concerts inside Dorton Arena when the fair opens next month. The space will be used for vendors to provide a larger venue for farmers and producers.

NCDOT

North Carolina government would need billions of dollars in additional road-building funds if it wants to carry out currently planned projects for the next decade. A Department of Transportation report says the gap between the costs for committed DOT projects and available funding from 2024 to 2033 is at least $7 billion. WRAL-TV reports projects could get dropped from the state's transportation building roadmap or others don't get added.

North Carolina Senate Republicans have used another parliamentary maneuver to try to advance legislation that would increase public access to the personnel history of government employees. The Senate voted Wednesday for a House notary measure with an amendment that inserts the personnel record language from another bill that cleared the Senate in June. That language would make public short explanations of why an employee was transferred, demoted or suspended. The measure approved in June — after a key bill deadline — has been idling.

A federal prosecutor says AmeriCorps has announced settlements with two North Carolina universities and a service agency which requires a payment of more than $800,000 to the U.S. for alleged false claims for grant money. Acting U.S. Attorney G. Norman Acker III says the settlement was reached with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, East Carolina University and the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.

A North Carolina-based health care provided says nearly 400 of its workers face firings for failing to comply with a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination program. The Winston-Salem Journal reports Novant Health said Tuesday that 1.4% of its overall workforce, or 375 employees, are not being allowed to work. Novant unveiled its mandatory vaccination policy on July 22, saying then that it would require full compliance by Sept. 15. In a news release, Novant Health says the affected workers will have a five-day period to comply with the vaccine mandate.

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Former colleagues of the late Senate leader Marc Basnight gathered to remember his contributions to North Carolina and view a portrait to hang in the Senate chamber. Gov. Roy Cooper was among more than 30 former senators who attended a floor meeting Tuesday that passed a resolution in memory of Basnight. He died in December at age 73. The Outer Banks Democrat served nine two-year terms as Senate president pro tempore, making him the longest-serving head of a legislative body in North Carolina history.

A North Carolina fire chief is resigning after authorities confirmed his arrest on drunken driving charges. WITN-TV reports that Greenville Fire/Rescue Chief Eric Griffin announced Sunday that he’s resigning. The announcement comes after the Nash County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Griffin was arrested early Sunday and charged with speeding and driving while impaired. Chief Deputy Brandon Medina says Griffin was traveling 94 mph in a 70 mph zone and a sobriety test found a blood alcohol content of .20. Griffin had been with the department since 1993 and served as chief since 2014.

North Carolina General Assembly

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore says Republican legislative leaders are aiming to finalize a North Carolina state budget and complete redistricting by the end of October. He spoke to reporters on Wednesday at the Legislative Building. Moore says he was hopeful House and Senate Republican budget writers would get a compromise spending plan to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper next week. The General Assembly wouldn’t vote on that plan. But it would serve as a starting point for negotiations with Cooper.

Police have opened an investigation after a woman was found unconscious and pulled from the surf at a North Carolina beach. Wrightsville Beach police say in a news release that officers responded to calls around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in which callers reported seeing a woman in the surf and pulling her to shore. According to police, the woman was found unresponsive, not breathing and without a pulse. Police say the woman couldn't be resuscitated and was pronounced dead. The woman was identified by police as 78-year-old Sally Mertens. Police are still investigating the incident.

A flap over North Carolina absentee ballots in the 2020 election has resurfaced at the General Assembly as Republicans gave final approval to legislation limiting Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein’s ability to enter legal settlements. The bill is now heading to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk following a party-line House vote on Wednesday. It says legal settlements must be backed by the Senate leader and House speaker when they are named parties in litigation.

A North Carolina sheriff's office says a man has been arrested for sex offenses involving a teenager. The Carteret County Sheriff's Office says in a news release that 26-year-old Andrew Tyler Lewis of New Bern was arrested on Tuesday after an investigation just outside of Morehead City. According to the sheriff's office, investigators with a task force received a tip about sex offenses involving a 13-year-old girl and began an investigation which lasted for a month. Lewis is charged with statutory sex offense with a child and is jailed on a $300,000 bond.

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