PRE News

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

Officials at Fort Bragg say a soldier was killed and four others were injured in an accident involving a military vehicle. News outlets report that a news release from the Army post says the accident occurred Monday around 12:50 p.m. The names of those involved in the accident were being withheld pending notification of relatives. The accident was the second wreck on the post in four months. In June, an Army corporal was killed and two other soldiers injured in a wreck as they were en route to training.

North Carolina’s highest court is now considering whether the legislature’s decision 10 years ago to begin charging some retired state government workers and teachers a premium for health insurance violated an agreement the state made with those workers. The justices heard arguments Monday but didn't immediately rule. Their decision could affect hundreds of thousands of retirees and the state with premium refunds and future expenses. Retirees argue the state was contractually obligated to offer premium-free benefits under a plan in which they paid 20 percent of their co-insurance.


North Carolina's COVID-19 metrics are improving even as fewer and fewer people are receiving a vaccine. State health department data released Monday showed unvaccinated residents are far likelier to contract the virus, become hospitalized and die. State health officials warn of a decreased effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing infection from the more contagious delta variant. But the approved COVID-19 shots remains the best prevention measure. In the past two weeks, hospitalizations have dropped by 25%. Cases have declined by more than 30%.

Plants and fossils, rising sea levels, pirates. All of these are part of the history and life of Eastern North Carolinians. And now, you can learn about it all locally. PRE’s Meredith Radford takes us to the new North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Greenville which recently opened.

A North Carolina sheriff's office has charged a man after one of its deputies was wounded as they went to serve him an involuntary commitment order. News outlets report Robert Joseph Westrup appeared in court on Monday on charges of assault on law enforcement with a deadly weapon and attempted first-degree murder. Three Craven County sheriff's deputies went to serve Westrup on Friday after his family expressed concern. According to the sheriff's office, Westrup fired on the deputies and hit deputy Zachary Bellingham, who is recovering in the hospital.

Litigation challenging the North Carolina General Assembly’s decision a decade ago to charge some retired state government workers and teachers a premium for health insurance is now before the state Supreme Court. Oral arguments are set for Monday. The court’s ultimate decision could affect hundreds of thousands of retirees and cost the state premium refunds and future health care expenses. The plaintiffs argue the state was contractually obligated to offer premium-free benefits under a plan in which they paid 20 percent of their co-insurance.


North Carolina state Rep. Dana Bumgardner has died from cancer. North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore confirmed Bumgardner’s death on Saturday. The Gaston County Republican died at his home in Gastonia. He was in his fifth two-year term. He is survived by his wife Cindy, his children, Lauren and Austin, and his grandchildren Payton, Maggie, and Kate.

Hundreds of people in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, have rallied against restrictive anti-abortion laws in Texas. The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Saturday that the protest was organized by a coalition of local advocacy groups. The Texas law, which was passed in May and went into effect in September, prohibits abortions after a fetal “heartbeat” is detected — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the law. The court will hear oral arguments for another major abortion case in December.

Law enforcement and education leaders in North Carolina are joining in a campaign it hopes will keep students from being exposed to online pornography and adult sex predators. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, the state Department of Public Instruction and the nonprofit group The Third Talk have partnered on an internet safety video. The video will tell middle school and high school students about the dangers of online pornography. Students will see the video in school.

A North Carolina school board has passed a policy preventing Critical Race Theory in its classrooms after county commissioners threatened to withhold nearly $8 million in funding. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Johnston County teachers could be disciplined or fired if they teach that American historical figures weren’t heroes, undermine the U.S. Constitution in lessons or describe racism as a permanent part of American life.

The National Park Service says a North Carolina man has died while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean off the Outer Banks. According to a news release, the man, who was from Horse Shoe in Henderson County but whose identity wasn’t immediately released, was reported by a friend to be feeling tired in the ocean without a flotation device. The park service says he was in the ocean near the northern entrance to Buxton. The friend called 911 at around 11 a.m., and Hatteras Island Rescue Squad personnel went into the ocean and brought the man to shore, where they performed CPR.

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

Legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper have announced an agreement on an energy bill that aims to meet Cooper’s goals on greenhouse gas reductions. The measure would remove most of the prescriptive actions that House Republicans laid out in an earlier version of the bill that passed the chamber in July. Friday's deal still would allow Duke Energy to seek multiyear rate increases, instead of year by year. The new bill tells the Utilities Commission to create a roadmap on how to reach goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

Wikimedia Commons

Onslow County Schools said they’ve seen an 89% decrease in student quarantines three weeks after implementing masking requirements.  According to a news release, the number of students excluded from school after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 peaked at more than 2,300 on September 9th.  Data reported Friday indicated 251 students were actively excluded from classes.  Prior to the masking policy, not all students were wearing face coverings.  On Sept.

NCDOT - Facebook

More than 10 million pounds of litter has been collected from North Carolina roadsides this year, nearly breaking the state’s record set in 2019.  According to a news release, the announcement comes after the two week Fall Litter Sweep, in which more than 418,000 lbs. of litter was picked up statewide. About 40% of the roadside litter was collected from Division 2, which includes Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Pamlico and Pitt counties. Officials say the agency and it’s partners will break the 2019 record of 10.5 million pounds within one month.

NCDOT - Facebook

More than $29 million in grant funding was awarded to 13 airports across North Carolina for safety and improvement projects.  $5.3 million will go to Hyde County Airport for pavement rehabilitation on the runway, replacement of navigational aids, and construction of turnarounds. Michael J. Smith Field in Carteret County will receive $400,000 for runway rehabilitation. $350,000 will fund the removal of buildings within the runway approach at Dare County Regional Airport.  Projects in Martin, Duplin, and Robeson counties were also approved for funding.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fishers says their Elizabeth City office will temporarily halt license sales beginning Friday.  According to a news release, the sale of licenses will be suspended until further notice. The public can contact one of the other DMF Offices in Morehead City, Manteo, Washington, or Wilmington for assistance pertaining to licences.  Coastal recreational fishing licenses can be purchased at many sporting goods stores, bait and tackle shops, and on the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission website.

North Carolina is renaming four state prisons and a drug addiction treatment facility for probationers because their current names are connected to racism or slavery. The Department of Public Safety announced the changes on Thursday. They go into effect next week. Two of the locations — in Hoffman and Goldsboro — have been named for 20th century governors Cameron Morrison and Gregg Cherry. Prisons in Tillery, Butner and Black Mountain also are getting renamed.

Persistent liquor shortages on local Alcoholic Beverage Control store shelves prompted North Carolina lawmakers to question the current top state ABC official and the distribution contractor. The House ABC committee met for two hours Wednesday with the deputy ABC commissioner and a lawyer representing the company called LB&B Associates. The committee chairman says he had a lot more questions than answers at the close of the hearing. The implementation of a new inventory and ordering software program hasn't been smooth.

All or parts of more than 30 new laws in North Carolina take effect Friday. They include new police accountability reporting requirements, rules for sheriff’s candidates, mandated clergy hospital visitation and Sunday bottled liquor sales. One law directs police and deputy standards commissions to create a public database of law enforcement officers who have had their certifications revoked or suspended. Hospitals also must let a clergy member visit a patient even when there’s a declared emergency like the one under COVID-19, provided the minister complies with health protocols.


North Carolina COVID-19 hospitalizations have fallen below 3,000 for the first time since August 20th. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rapidly increased across North Carolina this summer due to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant. According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 dashboard, as of Thursday, 2,943 people are currently hospitalized with the virus. 810 people are in Intensive Care units across the state.  4,765 new COVID-19 cases were reported since Wedneday. The daily percent of positive cases is at 7.7%.

Republicans at the North Carolina legislature have turned back efforts to repeal a new law that requires school districts to vote regularly on face masks. Critics say the law has contributed to recent raucous board meetings. The House on Wednesday rejected an amendment to an education bill that would have scaled back the law. School boards must vote at least once a month on whether their face covering policy for students and staff should be modified. Nearly all of the state’s 115 districts have agreed to require face coverings in some form. Gov.

North Carolina General Assembly

The North Carolina General Assembly has wrapped up internal negotiations towards fashioning a two-year state budget. Now heavy lifting begins to see if acceptable changes for all can be made so Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will sign a final proposal. House Speaker Tim Moore said Wednesday that he and Senate leader Phil Berger completed their meetings to hammer out remaining differences between the two chambers. Now Republicans will present their negotiated plan to Cooper and his aides. The governor likely will say what changes he wants.

City of Greenville Website

The City of Greenville is receiving almost $25 million dollars in recovery funding to address the economic impact of COVID-19 on the community. PRE’s Meredith Radford reports that city leaders are seeking public feedback on spending ideas. 

The police chief in a northeastern North Carolina city is Gov. Roy Cooper’s next public safety secretary. Cooper on Tuesday appointed Elizabeth City Public Safety Director Eddie Buffaloe to become his secretary of the state Department of Public Safety. Buffaloe is also the current president of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police. Buffaloe is subject to state Senate confirmation. He succeeds Erik Hooks, who was nominated by President Joe Biden to become deputy administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A former North Carolina police officer has been accused of stealing guns from the police department where he worked. In a news release issued Tuesday, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation says former North Topsail Beach police officer Mark William Ray Jr. is charged  with 15 counts of obtaining property by false pretense, embezzlement, and felony conversion. The SBI says the North Topsail Beach police chief asked the agency in March to investigate suspected thefts of several firearms being held as evidence at the police department.


Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper says he'll aim to get Republican lawmakers to fund North Carolina public education improvements a judge says the state must start implementing. He made the comments Tuesday about a decades-old school funding case called “Leandro.” He also spoke as a critical phase of state budget talks will soon begin. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore are expected this week to send to Cooper an initial joint offer on state government spending for the next two years.

Nine North Carolina counties are benefiting from 25 ambulances and their crews provided by the federal government to help locals struggling to respond to the spikes in calls during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Division of Emergency Management says the two-person ambulance crews are ready to work after receiving personal protective gear and communications gear on Monday. The crews are assigned to Brunswick, Franklin, Graham, Guilford, Macon, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Pender and Robeson counties. The ambulances could be assigned elsewhere after 10 days.

Down East Rural Planning Organization

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is working with local planning organizations to develop a transportation plan for the needs of Craven County over the next 30 years. PRE's Meredith Radford has more. 

A North Carolina-based hospital system says more than 175 of its workers have been fired for failing to comply with its vaccination requirement. Novant Health announced the firings on Monday. Last week, Novant Health announced 375 employees had been suspended and been given five days to comply with the mandate. The deadline was Friday. Of the 375, spokesperson Megan Rivers says nearly 200 workers came into compliance. Rivers didn’t provide specific numbers on how many lost their jobs.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a measure that would have limited powers of the attorney general to enter into future legal settlements. The legislation was passed by Republicans furious with Attorney General Josh Stein's handling of a 2020 elections lawsuit. The measure would have required formal approval of settlements challenging state law or the constitution by the Senate leader and House speaker when they're named parties.