PRE News

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

A group of North Carolina voters want U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn disqualified as a congressional candidate. They say his actions surrounding the riot in Washington on Jan. 6 last year amount to engaging in an insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution. Lawyers filed a challenge of the Republican's candidacy with the State Board of Elections on Monday. Cawthorn claimed President Joe Biden's victory was fraudulent at Donald Trump's rally that day and accused Republicans who weren't fighting of trying to silence Trump's supporters.

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

Two North Carolina Supreme Court justices have decided they won’t step away from hearing a case that challenges two constitutional amendments, one of which mandates photo voter ID. Associate Justices Phil Berger Jr. and Tamara Barringer wrote Friday that they believe they can be fair and impartial in hearing the lawsuit brought by the state NAACP. Group lawyers had asked last summer that the justices be disqualified. Berger is the son of Senate leader Phil Berger, who is a named defendant. Barringer voted to hold the referendum when she was in the Senate.

NCDPS

Gov. Roy Cooper has taken executive action to set more aggressive goals than he did in 2018 for greenhouse gas reductions and zero-emission vehicles in North Carolina. Cooper signed an executive order on Friday at North Carolina A&T State University. The order sets a statewide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels by 2030. It also seeks to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050. The order also aims for 1.25 million registered zero-emission vehicles in the state by 2030. These goals don't have the force of law.

Craven County’s board of education voted 4-3 to reinstate a required masking policy in schools, starting Monday. They held a special meeting last night to consider masks before the start of the spring semester.

A filing with state officials says the company that runs QVC is shutting down a North Carolina distribution center heavily damaged by a fire, putting nearly 2,000 people out of work. News outlets report that on Dec. 29, Qurate Retail Group filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining and Notification notice with the North Carolina Department of Commerce announcing its plans. Records show the company is permanently closing and expected to lay off employees from Feb. 1 through the middle of the year.

  A rapid trial over North Carolina’s new congressional and legislative districts has concluded with arguments over whether the boundaries contain unlawful gerrymanders that must be replaced. The three trial judges now have until Tuesday to rule, the result of a directive by the state Supreme Court. The justices delayed the March primary until May in the meantime. The plaintiffs' lawyers said Thursday that the maps approved by the General Assembly include illegal partisan and racial gerrymanders and must be redrawn.

Vidant Health Public Relations

On Wednesday, Vidant Health positive test rate for COVID-19 surpassed the state’s, as the hospital system continues to deal with long lines at testing sites and staffing shortages due to COVID-19 infection. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more. 


A North Carolina legislator who helped orchestrate redistricting in his chamber has acknowledged in a mapmaking trial that he examined some “concept maps” that were created quietly as he drew new boundaries in public. Wednesday's testimony by House Redistricting Committee Chairman Destin Hall contrasts with comments about transparency Republicans made while drawing congressional and legislative boundaries this fall. Hall downplayed the maps he said he examined briefly and were designed to make him familiar with city and town borders before drawing.

NCDHHS

North Carolina set another record Wednesday for the highest single-day number of positive tests and new COVID-19 cases. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 dashboard shows 20,770 new COVID-19 cases since Tuesday.

Wikipedia

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division said in a news release the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach ferry route will operate on an alternate schedule Jan. 6-10 due to COVID cases and exposures.

The percent of Lenoir County residents who tested positive for COVID-19 has jumped 9% in the past week and is currently at 19.7%. The Lenoir County Health Department reported 451 new confirmed cases in the last week, an increase of 288% since Dec. 29. According to a news release, 18 people who tested positive for COVID are currently hospitalized at UNC Lenoir Health Care, 14 of which are unvaccinated and four fully vaccinated. Three unvaccinated patients are in Intensive Care Units. Two are on ventilators. The number of COVID related deaths remains at 170, unchanged since Nov. 30.

As the Omicron variant causes stark increases in COVID-19 cases throughout the country, North Carolina COVID-19 testing and positive cases have been record breaking in the first days of 2022. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more. 

  

  

NC Ferry Division

All ferry routes are back on their normal schedules after strong winds from a coastal storm suspended operations Monday.  The North Carolina Ferry Division said Tuesday that a 13 mile section of N.C. Highway 12 between the Basnight Bridge and Rodanthe remains closed due to ocean overwash.  Crews hope to reopen that section of highway soon. 

A fast-moving redistricting trial over North Carolina’s new congressional and legislative maps has started. Three state trial judges began hearing evidence Monday from lawyers for plaintiffs in lawsuits that allege district boundaries approved by the Republican-controlled legislature in November are tainted by extreme partisanship and racial bias that favor the GOP.  Republicans say the lines are lawful, crafted using a transparent process that avoided racial and partisan data. The state Supreme Court told the judges to rule by Jan. 11. Appeals are expected to follow.

A North Carolina prisoner with COVID-19 died over the weekend. The Department of Public Safety announced on Monday that the unnamed male offender in his late 70s at Greene Correctional Institution died at a hospital on Saturday. The department says he wasn't vaccinated. Prisoners are encouraged but not required to receive COVID-19 vaccines. An initial review shows COVID-19 was likely the cause of death or at least a contributing factor. The death marked the first offender death related to the virus since May. Statewide there were over 19,600 positive COVID-19 cases reported on Saturday.

Vidant Health Public Relations

With the start of 2022, East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine’s and Vidant Health’s joint operating agreement is now underway, creating ECU Health. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more. 

Jared Brumbaugh

A fast-moving trial to determine whether North Carolina’s new congressional and legislative maps contain unlawful gerrymanders or otherwise should be used in the 2022 elections is set to begin. An array of lawyers for plaintiffs and leaders of the Republican-controlled General Assembly that approved maps in November will have three days to present evidence before a panel of state trial judges starting Monday. Closing arguments are Thursday. The state Supreme Court last month ordered the judges to hear redistricting litigation and rule by Jan. 11. Appeals are then expected.

David Dickens/CWHF

A wild horse that lived on North Carolina’s Outer Banks has been struck and killed by a vehicle. The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the incident occurred Saturday afternoon. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund protects and manages the Colonial Spanish Mustangs. It said in a statement that the horse was named Rabbit and had been born in 2019. The fund said that she had “galloped down the dunes and directly into the path of the vehicle." The driver called 911 and the fund. The organization wrote that the incident was determined to be an accident.

NCDHHS

North Carolina has reported another record number of daily COVID-19 cases. The state Departme nt of Health and Human Services reported Friday there were 19,174 new positive cases, surprassing the previous one-day high set on Thursday. The single-day high before that had been in January 2021. The recent rapid spread of coronavirus through the contagious omicron variant has prompted long lines at testing sites and some universities to delay student returns for the spring semester. Duke University is requiring remote learing further into January.

A federal trial set for January on litigation challenging North Carolina’s voter photo identification law has been delayed. That's to give time to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether legislative leaders should be permitted to help defend the law in court. The justices said last month it would consider that request from House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger. The presiding judge in a lawsuit filed by civil rights groups wrote Thursday that it made sense to delay the Jan. 24 trial start to avoid further confusion over voter ID.

NCDHHS

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday reported a record high number of daily COVID-19 cases. Statewide, there were 18,571 positive tests for COVID-19.  According to a news release, that is 60% higher than the previous record of 11,581 set in January 2021.  NCDHHS said hospitalizations have increased by over 20% in the last three days with currently more than 22-hundred people hospitalized.  That is the highest level since mid-October.  Over 500 adults are in Intensive Care Units across the state. The daily percent of positive cases has increased to 22%. 

A top Republican lawmaker says legislation could soon surface that would require state appellate judges to disclose publicly how they voted privately on orders issued by their courts. Senate leader Phil Berger said Thursday that the proposal stems from court action that ultimately led the state Supreme Court to delay the March primary until May while redistricting litigation is heard. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals orders in early December didn't describe whether individual jurists supported or opposed decisions.

The North Carolina General Assembly is putting off its next tranche of work until 2022. The House and Senate scheduled floor sessions for midday Thursday, a month after lawmakers last sent bills to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. But House Speaker Tim Moore and staff for Senate leader Phil Berger say there will be no recorded votes. Jan. 10 is the earliest date that some colleagues could be needed to take action. The 2021 session began in January and by one measure marked the second longest uninterrupted annual session since at least 1965.

Authorities say a pregnant U.S. Navy veteran was fatally shot in a North Carolina club during a Christmas event. Precious Vernetta Dyer was pronounced dead early Sunday morning at a music hall in Wilson.

Ellis Airport

Airports in North Carolina will receive almost $460 million over the next five years, including some in the East. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more. 

  

  

U.S. Drought Monitor

The combination of an extended period of abnormally dry weather and above-normal temperatures has plunged much of North Carolina into drought, and projections for 2022 suggest conditions won't improve. The Fayetteville Observer reports that in the latest drought map, a belt of “severe drought” extends from roughly Statesville through Charlotte and the Fayetteville area into northeastern North Carolina. The U.S. Drought Monitor says severe drought means water users should eliminate nonessential uses of water and prepare for possible mandatory water restrictions.

NCDPS

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and top state health officials are making a push ahead of the holidays to expand free at-home testing and encourage vaccinated individuals to get a booster. But they declined to reimpose statewide mandates — even as they warned on Monday of a huge COVID-19 surge fueled by the omicron variant. Over two-thirds of North Carolina adults have received at least two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the J&J vaccine. But Cooper said 62% of vaccinated people have not yet received boosters.

U.S. Department of the Interior Press Team

The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge’s visitor center on the Outer Banks was raised five feet off the ground to help ensure it survives flooding and other extreme weather events. PRE’ Meredith Radford has more. 

  

North Carolina Judicial Branch

North Carolina's highest court has ruled that nonprofit charter schools can’t avoid civil fraud claims alleging mismanagement of taxpayer money by arguing they’re immune from such lawsuits like a state agency. The state Supreme Court on Friday reversed a 2019 Court of Appeals decision that had dismissed claims against Kinston Charter Academy, which closed abruptly in 2013. Then-Attorney General Roy Cooper sought financial damages for the state and monetary penalties against the academy and its leaders. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that receive state funds.

Authorities say they have found the body of a man who was working at a distribution center in North Carolina for the QVC home-shopping television network when a massive fire erupted at the facility. Edgecombe County Manager Eric Evans said authorities found the man’s body on Sunday morning at the facility near Rocky Mount. The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that 21-year-old Kevon Ricks has been identified as the worker who died. QVC confirmed the death in a statement Sunday night and said it was offering resources to its Rocky Mount employees.

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