PRE News

Stories broadcast on PRE which are of interest to Eastern North Carolina

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.

New Bern High School - Facebook

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.

N.C. State Fair - Facebook

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.

NCDHHS

The Carteret County Department of Human Services said in a news release Tuesday that two residents, one in their 80s and the other in their 60s, died from complications of COVID-19.  Both had underlying health conditions and were hospitalized when they passed away.  The recent fatalities brings Carteret’s total number of deaths to 76 since the pandemic began.  The county also announced 76 new cases since Monday for a total of 7,588 cases.

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.

Fourteen Onslow County residents have died from COVID-19 since last Monday, according to a news release. As of Monday, Onslow County had over 3,000 open cases of COVID-19, which dropped more than 600 from last week, according to the release.

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.

NCDHHS

The Onslow County Health Department reports that 18 residents have died from COVID-19 in the past week.  Eleven of those deaths were reported since Monday. According to a news release, seven of the individuals who died were under 65 years old and four were over 65 years old.  Since Monday, the County has averaged 259 cases per day. Onslow Health Director Kristen Richmond Hoover said in the release that Onslow has at least 14 open outbreaks and clusters of cases, including eight schools and two day-care facilities.

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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The Carteret County Solid Waste Division is encouraging residents to dispose of unwanted household hazardous materials at an upcoming collection event, according to a news release.

Onslow County Schools Have COVID-19 Clusters In 8 Schools

Sep 15, 2021
Onslow County Schools

The Onslow County Health Department has told Onslow County Schools and that clusters of COVID-19 cases have been identified at eight district schools, according to a news release.

The Charlotte division of the FBI says it is launching a campaign across North Carolina to raise awareness about federal hate crimes and to encourage people to report them. A news release from the agency says its campaign is part of a nationwide effort coordinated through FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. The national campaign includes billboards, social media, gas station pump ads, and radio, television, and bus advertisements.

Tim Pike, Jones County Emergency Management

Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc on Eastern North Carolina three years ago this week. The devastation in small rural areas like Jones County is difficult to forget. PRE’s Meredith Radford reports on the progress that’s been made in recovery and ways county officials hope to mitigate future devastation is still recovering, and that their emergency management team learned some important lessons from the storm. 

NCDOT

A state performance audit says North Carolina’s Department of Transportation spent less than its leaders predicted during the second half of 2020. But State Auditor Beth Wood's office says DOT didn't carry out key recommendations from last year's audit, which found several hundred million dollars in overspending. So in their latest review, the auditors say it "was largely due to chance" that DOT didn't overspend last year, and that as a result, it remains at risk for future overages.

An eastern North Carolina industrial operation says it's investigating whether safety procedures were followed after an accident that killed two workers over the weekend. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said two Valley Proteins workers were found unresponsive Sunday at the Fayetteville plant and the building was evacuated. According to its website, Valley Proteins collects, renders and recycles fat and bone trimmings, meat waste and used cooking oil.

Advocates for North Carolina workers say the unemployed need higher and longer jobless benefits from the state more than ever now that additional federal benefits created for the COVID-19 pandemic have expired. Well over 100,000 displaced workers in the state can no longer receive federal benefits that ended this month, including an additional $300 per week. On Monday, Democratic Sen. Wiley Nickel urged Republican colleagues to pass legislation to raise maximum state benefits from $350 to $500 a week. GOP lawmakers have been cool to similar proposals in the past.

CCDRA/Kristy Kulberg

It’s been three years since Hurricane Florence caused catastrophic damage in Eastern North Carolina.  Communities across the region are in various stages of recovery.  Most businesses that were damaged have reopened, homes in flood-prone areas are in the process of being elevated, and many residents have made some progress restoring their homes and getting their lives back to normal.  But in areas that were hit hard by the 2018 storm, like Craven County, the work is far from over.  PRE’s Jared Brumbaugh has more on the ongoing recovery efforts, which are happening in mostly rural and underserved areas of the county.


NASA

Sept. 13 is the anniversary of Hurricane Florence steamrolling thru eastern North Carolina. Three years after the storm, some communities are still recovering. Florence resulted in at least 40 fatalities — and caused an estimated $17 billion in damages across the state. Almost 40% of North Carolinians live in one of the counties designated by FEMA for federal disaster assistance following the storm. PRE’s Meredith Radford spoke with Brian Haines, the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s communications officer for their emergency management division about the ongoing recovery in our area. 

Authorities say two employees at an eastern North Carolina industrial operation have died at the site. It happened Sunday at the Valley Proteins Inc. plant in Fayetteville. The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office says deputies came to the operation Sunday afternoon after the employees were found unresponsive. Their names haven't been released pending family notification. Sheriff’s detectives are investigating what caused the deaths. Valley Proteins is based in Virginia and collects, renders and recycles fat and bone trimmings, meat waste and used cooking oil.

"Courtroom One Gavel" by Joe Gratz is marked with CC0 1.0

North Carolina's highest court has ruled that felony offenders who are out of prison and registered to vote in North Carolina during a roughly 10-day period thanks to a recent order by trial judges will remain on voting rolls for now. The state Supreme Court declined on Friday to reinstate an order last month that declared any offender no longer behind bars could register. But the court declared that a felony offender who registered to vote because the order was enforceable at the time “are legally registered voters” until told otherwise.

NCDPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has rejected a bill to limit how teachers can discuss certain racial concepts inside the classroom. Republicans do not appear to have the necessary votes to override the Democratic governor's veto on Friday. The proposal would have prohibited teachers from compelling students to personally adopt any ideas from a list of 13 beliefs.

"Courtroom One Gavel" by Joe Gratz is marked with CC0 1.0

A North Carolina judge has set a mid-October deadline for state lawmakers to provide funding for improving public education or he will take action himself. News outlets report State Superior Court Judge David Lee said he was “very disheartened” that the General Assembly is funding a small part of a plan calling for at least $5.6 billion in new education funding by 2028. Lee says if the plan isn't fully funded by a court hearing on Oct. 18, he will consider options on how the court can resolve the matter.

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