PRE News

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

North Carolina Republicans advanced a number of proposals on Wednesday that voting rights groups fear could reduce turnout for the 2022 midterm elections. The measures reducing the time mail-in ballots may be counted, prohibiting private money from being used to fund local elections operations and compelling courts to share citizenship information with state elections officials are unlikely to become law. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed similar efforts in the past and Democrats are not on board with the plans GOP lawmakers have put forward.

Another lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s latest round of redistricting has been filed. A conservation group, university mathematicians and voters involved in the suit accuse Republican mapmakers of illegal partisan and racial gerrymandering in both the state’s congressional and General Assembly districts. The litigation filed late Tuesday in state court is spearheaded by the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters.

NC Department of Transportation

A section of a highway in Eastern North Carolina, part of which runs through Greenville, has been federally approved to become an interstate. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more. 

  

  

A lawsuit filed on behalf of an adult and two minors in federal court says North Carolina’s requirement that transgender people undergo sex reassignment surgery is discriminatory, and not in line with a majority of states and medical organizations. Three law firms joined to file the lawsuit in North Carolina’s Middle District Court on Tuesday.

Pfizer - Facebook

The Pitt County Health Department said Tuesday that they're now offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 by appointment only.  The vaccine for children is a two-dose vaccine and the second dose is given at least 21 days after the first dose. While Pfizer vaccines are not available for individuals 12 and over, the Health Department continues to offer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to adults who need a first, second, third, or booster shot.

NCDPS

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper says he'll sign the legislature’s final two-year budget bill into law once it reaches his desk. He made the announcement on Tuesday just before the Senate gave its initial approval to the proposal. He says the good items contained inside the Republican-penned bill outweighed the bad. The bill contains significant raises and bonuses for teachers and state employees, a $15-per-hour pay floor come next year for local school employees who aren’t teachers and $5.9 billion for state agencies and higher education building projects.

Republicans at the North Carolina legislature have rolled out their final two-year budget bill. House and Senate GOP leaders unveiled the plan on Monday, with a goal of the General Assembly giving it final approval by later in the week. They are hopeful that sweeteners on employee pay raises, infrastructure and tax cuts for individuals will attract enough Democratic support so the long-delayed plan can become law, with or without Gov. Roy Cooper's signature. Cooper offered a lot of input in the final plan and left the door open to signing it.

A North Carolina judge has set a trial date next summer for a political operative accused of ballot fraud involving a 2018 congressional election whose results ultimately got thrown out. Leslie McCrae Dowless appeared in Wake County court with his lawyer on Monday to address 13 criminal counts filed against him related to activities from the 2016 and 2018 elections. Dowless declined to accept a plea agreement offered by District Attorney Lorrin Freeman. A judge set the trial for next August.

The Onslow County Health Department announced Monday that they will offer extended hours for their COVID-19 vaccination clinic.  The clinic, located in the Consolidated Human Services building in Jacksonville, will be open until 6:30 p.m. this Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for first dose vaccines and booster shots.  OCHD will also stay open an extra two hours on Nov. 22, 23 and Nov. 30th-Dec. 2.

ECU and Vidant Health move toward shared brand: ECU Health

Nov 15, 2021
ECU News Services

East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health in Greenville are working toward final approval in creating their new, shared brand: ECU Health. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more.

  

  

  

Rep. Madison Cawthorn says he'll run in a new congressional district under North Carolina's newly approved map. His Thursday night announcement to run in a redder district was a strategic move to thwart the chances of GOP state House Speaker Tim Moore. Moore said shortly thereafter that he would seek reelection as the House leader and would not pursue a congressional run. Looming over the March 2022 primary is a pair of lawsuits from voting rights groups accusing Republicans of partisan and racial gerrymandering.

East Carolina University News Services

Researchers at East Carolina University in Greenville found a new way to detect the COVID-19 causing coronavirus: by testing the air in buildings’ ventilation systems. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more.


NCDPS

North Carolina’s extended budget negotiations will come to a head next week with the Republican-controlled House and Senate voting on a final spending plan. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has suggested he could sign it into law, even though he wouldn’t get everything he wants. Senate leader Phil Berger’s office and budget-writer Rep. Jason Saine confirmed Wednesday that votes are coming on a two-year government budget. A statement from Cooper's office said the plan will contain a number of his priorities, including increased education funding.

Wolf Haven International

Federal wildlife officials overseeing the world’s only wild population of endangered red wolves announced they are abandoning a 2018 plan to limit the animals’ territory and loosen protections for wolves that strayed from that area in eastern North Carolina. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the announcement Wednesday as part of an ongoing federal court battle with conservation groups that argue the federal agency violated the Endangered Species Act by abandoning strategies that supported the wild population of wolves.

NCDHHS

Few North Carolina parents had their children vaccinated in the first days COVID-19 shots were available for kids age 5 to 11. State data shows more than 24,000 kids in the age group got the vaccine within the first five days it was administered. This represents less than 3% of the almost 900,000 children eligible in the age group. Dr. Mandy Cohen leads the state Department of Health and Human Services. She said she got her two daughters vaccinated once the kid-sized Pfizer shots became available.

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

A North Carolina trial judge has ordered the state to pay out $1.75 billion to help narrow the state’s public education inequities. The move angered Republicans who said the directive usurps lawmakers’ constitutional authority over the state coffers. Superior Court Judge David Lee said Wednesday that the state has failed to act decisively since a 2004 court ruling declared the state has fallen short giving children the “opportunity to receive a sound basic education.” Republican legislators say Lee's directive violates the state constitution.

Gerrymandering is surging in states where legislatures are in charge of redrawing voting districts used to elect members of Congress. A new map passed by North Carolina's Republican-led legislature could net several new seats for the GOP — providing a big boost in the party's quest to retake the U.S. House next year. But that could be canceled out in Illinois, where Democrats who control the legislature adopted a new map designed to elect as many Democrats as possible. Lawmakers in other states also have been using 2020 census data to draw districts beneficial to their own parties.

Meredith Radford

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein made a stop in New Bern Tuesday to announce more than $850,000 in grants to eight environmental projects across Eastern North Carolina. PRE’s Meredith Radford was there and has this.

 

  

  

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

Longstanding education funding litigation in North Carolina could reach a watershed if a judge orders money be spent over the wishes of the General Assembly. Superior Court Judge David Lee scheduled a hearing Wednesday in which he’ll consider options on how to carry out two years of a remedial spending plan offered by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the State Board of Education. Plaintiffs in the so-called “Leandro” lawsuit want Lee to direct $1.7 billion to go to three agencies. Republicans who control the legislature say only the General Assembly can appropriate funds in state coffers.

NCDOT's Ferry Division - Twitter

The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division said Tuesday that several ferry routes that were suspended due to high winds during this weekend’s storm have resumed.  The Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach ferry is currently operating on a one-boat schedule because a boat with mechanical issues is being repaired.  The Currituck-Knotts Island ferry resumed their regular schedule at 10 a.m. The ferries serving Ocracoke-Hatteras, Ocracoke-Cedar Island and Ocracoke-Swan Quarter have reopened on the following regular schedules: 

City of Jacksonville

The City of Jacksonville announced Monday that it has acquired more than 400 acres of land to spur economic growth and expand recreational opportunities for residents. The land area is located near the intersection of Gum Branch Rd. and Western Blvd. and was purchased by the City for $2.4 million dollars without affecting the current tax rate.  According to a news release, although some of the land is tagged as wetlands, the City has determined that the majority of the acreage is suitable for a variety of outdoors sports fields and recreational facilities.

Pitt County NC YouTube

The Pitt County board of commissioners is seeking public input on how to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds. PRE’s Meredith Radford reports that the first input sessions will take place Wednesday. 

  

  

  

Duplin County Health Department Facebook

Duplin County’s health department is offering a cash card to anyone receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more. 

  

  

NCDOT

A storm at the North Carolina coast has closed a section of the only road linking Hatteras Island to the mainland. The state Department of Transportation said N.C. Highway 12 was closed starting Sunday morning from Rodanthe north to the Marc Basnight Bridge at Oregon Inlet due to ocean overwash that breached dunes protecting the road. The department said the stretch could remain closed through Tuesday, since crews must clear the road and rebuild dunes.

NWS

The National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City says a strong, slow-moving coastal low will impact Eastern North Carolina from Saturday into early next week. Moderate to major coastal flooding of 2 to 4 feet above ground level is expected in low-lying areas in Downeast Carteret County, and areas along the lower Neuse River.  Minor inundation of 1-2 feet is forecast for areas adjacent to the southern Pamlico Sound and areas along the coast south of Cape Lookout.  Significant overwash is expected along NC highway 12 on the Outer Banks.

Legislation to authorize and regulate sports gambling in North Carolina has reemerged in a House committee more than two months after it passed the Senate. A House committee voted Thursday for a measure would direct the North Carolina lottery to issue between 10 and 12 interactive sports wagering operator licenses. College, professional and some amateur sports could be wagered on. The state would collect a tax on an operator’s adjusted gross revenues. Bill supporters say betting is already happening within North Carolina’s borders through offshore online websites or local bookies.

Lawsuits filed by North Carolina’s attorney general against 14 manufacturers of a fire suppressant claim the makers caused a public nuisance, created a design defect, failed to warn their customers and fraudulently transferred corporate assets to shield their profits. Attorney General Josh Stein said in a news release Thursday that his office filed four lawsuits which named 3M, Corteva, and DuPont, among others.

The North Carolina General Assembly has finalized maps for the state’s legislative and congressional districts that are supposed to last for the next decade. The House and Senate voted Thursday for the lines drawn based on 2020 census figures for the state House, state Senate and U.S. House delegation. Republicans would largely fare well under the plans. Democrats and their allies say the maps contain illegal partisan and racial gerrymanders. One lawsuit was filed last week and more could be coming. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto stamp can’t block redistricting plans.

The North Carolina General Assembly is about to finalize maps for the state’s legislative and congressional districts that are supposed to last for the next decade. The House and Senate scheduled floor sessions Thursday to debate and vote on the lines drawn based on 2020 census figures. Maps for the state House, state Senate and U.S. House delegation had already passed one chamber by Wednesday. Republicans would largely fare well under the plans. Democrats and their allies say the maps contain illegal partisan and racial gerrymanders.

The U.S. Department of Justice says it's reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed against a North Carolina county alleging that an emergency communications unit engaged in unlawful retaliation when it fired a worker who told supervisors that she had been sexually harassed on the job. A news release from the department on Wednesday says a consent decree calls on Wilson County to develop and submit for approval revised discrimination and retaliation policies, investigation procedures for complaints of discrimination and trainings that will apply countywide.

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