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

NCDPS

North Carolina Republican lawmakers are concerned about a new strategy from Gov. Roy Cooper's administration. A pivot toward more mass vaccination sites has caused some counties in the state to get fewer doses than expected. This has resulted in thousands of appointment delays or cancellations. The state is working to balance out geographic imbalances. It will soon get 20,000 additional weekly doses from President Joe Biden's administration. In the meantime, Cooper has extended three executive orders that halt evictions, ease alcohol sale restrictions and keep people at home from 10 p.m.

North Carolina General Assembly

The North Carolina General Assembly has returned to Raleigh to begin in earnest its annual work period. The Republican-controlled House and Senate reconvened Wednesday after a two-week layoff. State law initially required lawmakers to hold a one-day meeting Jan. 13 to seat members, then reelect Rep. Tim Moore as House speaker and Sen. Phil Berger as Senate leader. Early-year legislation is likely to include addressing how to distribute more federal COVID-19 dollars Congress approved and locating money for rural broadband service. Legislators also filed their first bills Wednesday.

Two small political parties in North Carolina are no longer officially recognized by the state and can't field candidates on ballot. That's because Constitution Party of North Carolina and North Carolina Green Party candidates for president and governor failed to get at least 2% of the vote in November. The decertification means more than 9,000 registered voters for both parties will be labeled unaffiliated voters again. The groups can try to collect signatures of registered voters to be reinstated in time for the 2022 elections.

NCDPS

North Carolina's top public health official says coronavirus vaccine providers currently receiving little to no supply will soon have extra doses reserved for them. The supplies for some providers have dwindled because of a shift in strategy favoring mass vaccination sites. That has resulted in thousands of residents getting appointments postponed or canceled. Doses that have been provided for a mass vaccination site at the Carolina Panthers football stadium this weekend will account for as much as one-fourth of the state's weekly allotment.

North Carolina General Assembly

The North Carolina General Assembly session begins in earnest Wednesday with the same divided government in place as in the previous two years. Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper are aiming to avoid the same result from 2019. That's when they dug in their heels, leading to a budget stalemate that never got fully resolved. While Cooper blocked the GOP’s favored legislation on hot-button issues, much of his agenda got sidelined as well. Lawmakers and Cooper will get an early chance to find consensus through distributing more COVID-19 federal relief money.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission says that a man has been shot and killed while duck hunting in coastal Hyde County. The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that the commission say that Brandon Marshall was shot by a member of his hunting party. The incident remains under investigation. Officials said that a 911 call was made and first responders had attempted life-saving measures. Marshall was from the Englehard, a coastal community on the Pamlico Sound. He was known as an advocate for hunting and hunting safety.

NCDHHS

North Carolina is giving more of its weekly allocation of the coronavirus vaccine to large vaccination sites such as such as the Charlotte Motor Speedway. This is creating supply shortages in other areas of the state that has forced some health systems to cancel appointments or offer fewer than they'd expected. Officials in the state are working to improve their rocky rollout to administering the vaccines. North Carolina has been among the slower states in the nation to get vaccines into peoples' arms.

Duke Energy, North Carolina officials and a conservation group have reached an agreement on how the utility pays to get rid of coal ash stored in the state. The proposed settlement announced Monday would shift $1.1 billion in expenses away from customers over the next decade to the nation’s largest electric utility and its shareholders. The agreement came a month after the state Supreme Court ruled regulators should revisit an order that would have placed nearly all of the expense upon Duke’s electric customers in the state.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

The House is formally transmitting the article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate, setting the stage for the trial in that chamber the week of Feb. 8. Watch the ceremony live.

North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services says the state has seen 1,280 of its coronavirus vaccine doses get discarded. This pales in comparison to the roughly 1.1 million doses it says has entered the state thus far. The department says it has not received reports of significant batches being lost. Doses could be tossed out due to a vaccine being stored too long in a freezer or not being administered in a timely manner once it has been taken out of a freezer. Some providers are using working to maximize their supplies by extracting extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

NCDPS

North Carolina medical, business and nonprofit leaders and state legislators assembled by Gov. Roy Cooper have gotten behind several aspirational goals to improve health care coverage. The North Carolina Council for Health Care Coverage held its last meeting Friday, less than two months after it was created by the Democratic governor. He wanted the council to help steer state leaders toward consensus on health care access. The panel came up with “guiding principles” but didn't endorse specific policies.

NCWRC/Tyler Barnes

The coronavirus pandemic has given some people more time to fish. And that may be why three catfish catfish records were broken last year in North Carolina. The Virginian-Pilot reports that the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission announced the new records on Wednesday. They involved three catfish species. The commission said that Pinehurst resident John Stone caught a 23-pound, 5-ounce channel catfish in a private pond in Moore County in September. Joey Baird of Lawrenceville, Virginia, caught a 121-pound, 9-ounce blue catfish in Lake Gaston in July.

NCDHHS

Local transit agencies across North Carolina will help provide transportation to and from COVID-19 vaccine sites.  According to a news release, the N.C. Department of Transportation and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that approximately $2.5 million dollars in Coronavirus Relief Funding is being distributed to transit agencies to provide transportation assistance.  Individuals who need a ride to a vaccine site should reach out to their local transit agency.

NCDPS

North Carolina is seeing a small amount of coronavirus vaccines thrown out for reasons including doses that weren't used in a timely manner after being taken out of a freezer. Mandy Cohen is the state's top public health official. She said at a news conference Thursday that the Department of Transportation will offer free rides to vaccination clinics for people who need transportation. People 65 years or older are currently eligible to get vaccinated. State health officials say more than 573,000 vaccines have been distributed thus far.

Equal Rights Amendment supporters say it's still important that the North Carolina legislature ratify the proposal even as ERA’s future is being weighed by a court. General Assembly lawmakers and state and national ERA activists announced Thursday their redoubled efforts to bring ratification up for debate and votes this year. Republicans in charge of the General Assembly have been cool to acting on these resolutions in the past. The amendment was first sent to the states in the 1970s, and Virginia became the 38th and apparent last state necessary for validation.

A report filed to the state shows that a crack in the wall of a gasoline pipeline caused more than a million gallons to spill in a North Carolina nature preserve. That's more than four times the size that a company initially reported. The Charlotte Observer reports that in September, Michael Regan, then-secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, said 273,000 gallons of gasoline spilled in Mecklenburg County's Oehler Nature Preserve near Huntersville.

Wolf Haven International

A judge has ordered the federal government to come up with a plan to release more endangered red wolves from breeding programs to bolster the dwindling wild population. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle signed an order Thursday directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to draft a plan by March 1 for releasing captive-bred wolves into the wolves’ designated habitat in North Carolina.

Greenville Utilities Commission

A North Carolina utility has temporarily canceled late fees after finding that its customers were experiencing delays in getting their bills in the mail. The Daily Reflector of Greenville reports Greenville Utilities says it's received reports of customers getting their bills several days after they were due. Interim director of customer relations Scott Mullis says a check confirmed that some batches of bills have been delayed in the mail.

A former North Carolina congressman and state Republican Party leader who lied to FBI agents about a bribery scandal received a pardon from outgoing President Donald Trump. Federal authorities said ex-Rep. Robin Hayes participated in a scheme while GOP state chairman in which a wealthy insurance company magnate attempted to bribe the state insurance commissioner with campaign funds. Hayes accepted a plea agreement in 2019 while three others indicted went to trial. Hayes got one year of probation.

North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety has received about 1,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine for inmates and prison staff. An additional 300 doses allocated for the prison system are expected to arrive this week. The limited supply will go to prison healthcare staff administering the vaccine, staff working with infected inmates or in housing units where offenders have tested positive for the virus and inmates 75 years or older. Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee worries about vaccine hesitancy among some staff members and inmates.

Sen. Richard Burr says the Justice Department has told him it will not prosecute him over stock sales made during the coronavirus pandemic, ending an insider trading investigation that led him to at least temporarily step aside from a powerful committee chairmanship last year. Prosecutors had investigated for months whether the North Carolina Republican and former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee had exploited advance information when he unloaded as much as $1.7 million in stocks in the days before the coronavirus caused markets to plummet.

Government offices are being shuttered in North Carolina’s capital as precautions against potential mayhem as Joe Biden takes his presidential oath in Washington. Municipal offices in downtown Raleigh will be closed to the public on Wednesday. Some state government and Wake County offices downtown were already closed Tuesday and will remain so Wednesday. An increased police presence is also likely around high-profile state buildings Wednesday. Gov.

Two North Carolina state lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon of Brunswick County announced Tuesday the results of a coronavirus test he took on Monday after experiencing mild cold-like symptoms. State Rep. Brian Turner of Buncombe County announced Monday he had tested positive. They participated in the same duck hunting trip last Friday attended by other elected officials. It's unclear whether the virus was contracted on the trip. Rabon attended last week's opening day of the General Assembly session, but Turner didn't attend.

Coast Guard officials say man has been rescued from his sunken fishing vessel off the North Carolina coast. Officials say the man was rescued Monday with the help of a good Samaritan about 20 miles southwest of Kitty Hawk.  Coast Guard officials received a report from the father-in-law of a man whose 18-foot boat sunk at the mouth of Alligator River, near East Lake. Coast Guard crews from Elizabeth City responded to the incident. A Coast Guard aircrew directed a nearby vessel to the location of the sunken boat. The other vessel’s crew were able to bring the man aboard.

A North Carolina woman recognized as the oldest living U.S. Marine has died at age 107. The Marine Times says Dorothy Schmidt Cole died of a heart attack at her daughter's home in Kannapolis on Jan. 7. The Corps recognized Cole as the oldest living Marine on her birthday in September. According to Marine Times, Cole enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943 after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Cole had attempted to join the Navy two years earlier but was told she didn’t meet their height standards. She is survived by her daughter.

NCDHHS

An updated vaccine distribution plan from North Carolina now prioritizes adults 65 years or older. It also removes college students from the prioritization schedule. They had previously been listed as a priority over the general public. The simplified plan aims to address concerns the previous guidance was too complicated and slowed down vaccinations. Some had also been concerned the plan prioritized college students over other groups that are more likely to die if they get infected with the coronavirus.

Democratic candidates dominated fundraising in the elections for the top statewide positions in North Carolina government last fall, but it didn’t always translate into victories. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's fundraising total for his successful reelection bid reached $41 million, compared with almost $12 million for GOP challenger Dan Forest. But new Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson won despite millions spent by billionaire Michael Bloomberg to help Democratic candidate Yvonne Holley.

Five new judges have been officially installed to sit on the bench at the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Thursday’s online investiture ceremony included live swearings-in within the Raleigh courtroom of the state’s intermediate-level appeals court. These new judges joining the 15-member court had already taken their official oaths earlier this month. Four of them won eight-year terms in the November election. They are Judges Jeffery Carpenter, April Wood, Fred Gore and Jefferson Griffin. New Judge Darren Jackson joined the court after Gov. Roy Cooper appointed him to fill a vacancy.

A retired three-star Marine Corps general is Gov. Roy Cooper’s choice as North Carolina’s next military and veterans affairs secretary. Walter Gaskin retired from active duty in 2013 as a lieutenant general. Cooper announced on Wednesday that he'll join Cooper’s Cabinet. Gaskin will succeed former state Rep. Larry Hall, who served as secretary during Cooper’s first term. Gaskin's last duty station was in Belgium as a military adviser for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He also served at Camp Lejeune and most recently joined the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission.

NCDPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has mobilized 550 members of the National Guard in light of concerns over security in Washington and the state capital. He says 200 guardsmen will help before and during President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. North Carolina is one of dozens of states sending personnel to Washington. Cooper says the other 350 other guardsmen will remain for duty in North Carolina. The Democratic governor says they will be deployed for about 7 to 8 days because of “threats of significant large-scale protests in D.C."

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