PRE News

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

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The City of Jacksonville says the Freedom Fountain is working again after a soapy substance was added to the water Tuesday night causing it to foam.  On Wednesday morning, city crews were at the site cleaning the fountain and assessing the damage. Lisa Miller, Jacksonville's media services manager, told PRE that the city estimates the cost of the clean up to be between $500 and $1000. The city is working with police department to access security footage to determine who is responsible for the vandalism. The Freedom Fountain on New Bridge St.


North Carolina Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has again declined to apologize for remarks he made in June criticizing sexual education in public schools and likening gay and transgender people to “filth.” The Republican Party’s highest executive officeholder in the state was responding Tuesday to criticism from three LGBTQ lawmakers. Some Democrats and LGBT advocacy groups have called for Robinson's resignation but no major Republican officials have condemned him. The lieutenant governor insists that he can separate his personal views about homosexuality from his day-to-day job.


The Town of Beaufort’s board of commissioners voted unanimously to repeal their indoor mask mandate within town limits, effective immediately, at their meeting Monday. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more.

A state agency has cited a North Carolina company after a worker was electrocuted and two others injured back in April. WITN reports the N.C. Department of Labor says it found two serious violations against Caldwell & Jones near Mount Olive and fined the company $9,000. Cashwell & Jones and its parent company, Harvey Fertilizer and Gas, have 15 days to pay the fine, request an informal conference with the labor department, or appeal the fine. The worker was killed as they were installing a flagpole in front of the business in April.


Nearly all 10,000 employees at state-operated healthcare facilities are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  According to a news release from the NC Department of Health and Human Services, 16 individuals were dismissed for non-compliance with the mandatory vaccination requirement that went into effect September 30th.


The N.C. Department of Transportation has signed a $432 million contract this month to rebuild eight miles of Interstate 95 through one county with an eye on eliminating a recurring flooding problem. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports flooding resulting from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018 closed the highway in Robeson County for several days. Starting next year, contractors will begin work on widening I-95 from four lanes to eight and replace bridges at three interchanges.

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is facing calls to resign after a June video surfaced showing him likening some sexual orientations to “filth.” The state's highest Republican executive officeholder has a long history of espousing views many consider discriminatory. His latest remarks are being condemned by the White House, Human Rights Campaign, Equality North Carolina and Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Jackson. Top GOP officials aren't commenting. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper hasn't weighed in on whether the independently elected Robinson should resign.

Mayor of Kinston appointed to Governor's Crime Commission

Oct 11, 2021
Mayor Dontario Hardy

The mayor of Kinston was appointed to the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more.

UNC Research

North Carolina Oyster Week, which runs from Oct. 11-15, celebrates the ecology, economy and culture of the bivalve mollusk. Desired for their unique flavor, wild-caught and cultivated oysters support local economies across the state. The state's shellfish industry provides over $27 million in economic impact and more than 500 jobs, according to a recent study from North Carolina State University. Oysters also help improve water quality by filtering up to 50 gallons of water per day.

The Coast Guard searched in the vicinity of Portsmouth Island in Ocracoke Inlet in North Carolina on Sunday for a 27-year-old woman who is missing after a canoe capsized. The search began after a 911 call was received about 4:15 p.m. on Saturday of a capsized canoe with two people aboard. Watchstanders subsequently lost communication with the reporting source, who was a member of the same group. An aircrew located a conscious male survivor alongside a green canoe at about 9:54 a.m. on Sunday. He was transported to Carteret Hospital in Morehead City.

Far fewer North Carolina third-graders in public schools have demonstrated reading proficiency, compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. State educators say the finding is troubling and needs to be urgently addressed. A report presented this week to the State Board of Education showed 31% of third-graders had not met promotion standards. That means these students are either repeating third grade this fall or receiving specific kinds of fourth-grade class instruction. The past school year was marked by limited in-person instruction due to the pandemic.

 A new organized effort to boost North Carolina minority voter turnout during the 2022 elections and beyond is underway. The New North Carolina Project is modeled after a similar initiative in Georgia founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. The North Carolina organization aims to register over 100,000 voting-age adults and increase early-voting turnout dramatically next year. The group's leader is former Democratic state House candidate Aimy Steele.

Child care providers in North Carolina can begin applying next week for grants coming from an $805 million pool for the state through a COVID-19 relief law approved by Congress. Gov. Roy Cooper announced the start of North Carolina Child Care Stabilization Grants while visiting a Carrboro school on Thursday. All private, licensed early care and learning programs can apply starting Monday. Grants will range from $3,000 to $60,000. The grants can be used for things like payroll, capital improvements and training. Grants will be awarded starting in November for 18 months.


Researchers at East Carolina University in Greenville are enrolling people in a clinical trial for an experimental pill that was shown in another study to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death in people who had COVID-19. PRE’s Meredith Radford reports that the purpose of this study is to find out if the pill can prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in those who have not yet been infected.

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

A landmark energy measure for North Carolina that aims to dramatically reduce power plant greenhouse gas emissions has received final legislative approval and now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk for his expected signature. The House voted on Thursday for the consensus legislation, which passed the Senate on Wednesday. The negotiated agreement instructs the North Carolina Utilities Commission to draw up a plan by the end of next year to meet carbon dioxide reduction goals that Cooper has championed.

Republican legislative leaders will soon draw up another budget offer for Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper after he presented a counterproposal this week. House Speaker Tim Moore confirmed on Thursday that Cooper sent a counteroffer to him and Senate leader Phil Berger earlier this week. The two GOP leaders last week finalized internal negotiations on a state government budget and presented that plan for Cooper to consider. Differences are likely around tax cuts, teacher pay raises and education spending.

House Republicans have resurrected a proposal to keep more non-U.S. citizens off North Carolina’s voter rolls through juror information.  The House Elections and Campaign Finance Committee voted along party lines Wednesday for the bill. It tells North Carolina courts to send information about potential jurors being disqualified because they aren’t citizens to election officials. Election workers would then figure out whether they are registered voters and prepare to remove them from the rolls. The voter could formally challenge such action. Democratic Gov.

A teacher has resigned from a North Carolina charter school after telling Black students in her class that they would be her “field slaves” if not for the Constitution. One parent says that comment was one of many such incidents at the school. Winterville Charter Academy sent a memo which also referred to “racially insensitive words” being used by children in the class without any action from the teacher. WITN reports that school officials said the teacher “will not be returning.” A statement from the school says it is working to address the ongoing concerns of parents.

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

An energy bill negotiated by legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper that aims to meet his greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for North Carolina is now one vote away from reaching Cooper's desk. The Senate voted Wednesday for the measure, and it could be acted on Thursday by the House. The bills tells state regulators to develop a plan to reduce energy producers’ carbon dioxide output 70% by 2030, and achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The bill also gives Duke Energy the ability to seek multiyear rate increases.


Hospitals, nursing homes and adult care and hospice care facilities in North Carolina would be required to allow patient visits in a measure given final legislative approval. The bill heading to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk following a Senate vote on Wednesday is another piece of legislation responding to constituent complaints last year about family members being unable to visit loved ones in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill says visitations must be allowed to the extent that federal law permits, and that hospitals can be fined for violations.

Carteret County was awarded a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense National Defense Community Infrastructure Program to partially fund shoreline and infrastructure protection measures on Radio Island.  The restoration project involves dredging 35,360 cubic yards of material from East Taylors Creek and placing it along approximately 2,775 linear feet of Radio Island.  The shoreline has experienced significant erosion due to frequent storms.  


A bipartisan energy bill backed by Gov. Roy Cooper that targets scaling back greenhouse gas emissions is advancing in the North Carolina legislature. The bill also gives Duke Energy the option to seek rate increases. The measure cleared two Senate committees on Tuesday and is likely to be on the Senate floor Wednesday. The legislation should be on the Democratic governor’s desk soon, given its backing from members of both parties, Duke Energy and several key business groups.

Rep. Walter Jones

A post office in a North Carolina city has been named for a native son and a longtime congressman with endorsements from Republicans and Democrats. The Daily Reflector of Greenville reports the post office in Farmville has been named for Rep. Walter B. Jones, who served in Congress from 1994 until he died at age of 76 in February 2019. Ceremonies marking the renaming were held on Tuesday. Legislation proposing the naming of the post office was introduced by US Rep. Greg Murphy, R-Greenville in 2019.

The General Assembly is ready to begin drawing new boundaries for the North Carolina legislature and the state’s U.S. House delegation for the next decade. The House and Senate remapping committee leaders said Tuesday that members could begin drawing boundaries Wednesday in committee rooms open to the public, with map work streamed on the internet. It’ll likely be at least two weeks before plans are debated and voted upon. North Carolina is redrawing House and Senate boundaries and those for Congress based on 2020 census figures released earlier this year.


Marjorie K. Eastman, a combat veteran, former intelligence officer and mother of one, has made her entry into North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate primary battle. She seeks to distinguish herself from the three leading candidates by branding herself as a political outsider with a fresh perspective. Eastman said she decided to enter the race after the Biden administration's hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, former Gov. Pat McCrory and ex-Rep. Mark Walker are the top candidates vying for the GOP nomination.

NC Department of Health and Human Services

 The State Department of Health and Human Services and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina are providing food assistance to people affected by COVID-19. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more.


Camp Lejeune

A project to replace the White Oak River railroad trestle bridge in Stella will begin Oct. 8, 2021. The bridge is part of the 34-mile rail line that moves heavy military freight between Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. The replacement project also includes building a temporary work platform to aid in demolition and installation activities. Pile driving operations for the platform and new bridge will occur Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m.


A North Carolina appeals court says some supporters of former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s efforts to contest the 2016 gubernatorial election results can be sued for allegedly defaming voters. The decision announced on Tuesday paves the way for a trial court to hear arguments against a Virginia-based law firm and the Pat McCrory Committee Legal Defense Fund.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is now reporting data about COVID-19 reinfections.  According to information collected between March 1, 2020 and September 20, 2021, 10,812 people in the state tested positive for a second time after having a laboratory confirmed case at least 90 days prior.


Rep. Ted Budd has been playing defense since getting former President Donald Trump's endorsement in North Carolina's GOP Senate primary. Budd is one of three leading candidates looking to keep an open U.S. Senate seat in Republican hands. Former Gov. Pat McCrory accused Budd's family of “fraud” over a loan it gave to a company run by Budd's father. The family got the loan repaid even as farmers lost millions in the seed company's bankruptcy.