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NEWS UPDATES FOR JULY 2024

Published July 1, 2024 at 5:13 AM EDT

Latest news headlines updated throughout the day by WFAE journalists.

North Carolina receives federal funds to restore carbon-storing lands

Posted July 23, 2024 at 4:35 PM EDT

Nature has its own solutions for combating climate change. The federal government awarded North Carolina $139 million to help nature do just that by protecting land that also captures and stores carbon.

Gov. Roy Cooper organized a four-state coalition to apply for federal funds to increase natural habitats that remove and store carbon from the atmosphere. Proposed projects include planting urban trees, reforesting land and coastal erosion control. These projects also aim to help communities weather the worsening effects of climate change, such as extreme heat and flooding.

Award recipients across the U.S. estimated that their projects would avoid nearly1 billion metric tons of carbon emissions by 2050, or roughly the emissions generated by 5 million average homes during the next 25 years.

The Nature Conservancy, one of the nonprofit partners on the grant application, will be rewetting peatlands in North Carolina. That’s a wetland type that emits carbon when dry but stores gas when wet. Ten acres of healthy peatlands can store the equivalent of 3.25 passenger vehicles per year.

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources partnered with multiple state agencies, as well as nonprofits like the N.C. Coastal Federation, Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project, and the Black Family Land Trust to apply for federal funding.

Cooper touted the economic returns this grant will bring the state. Grant partners plan to add thousands of acres to coastal state parks. North Carolina’s state park systemattracts millions of visitors each year.

One person dies, one person injured by falling tree

Posted July 23, 2024 at 7:14 AM EDT

A person died early Monday morning in east Charlotte after a tree fell on an apartment building.

The Charlotte Fire Department said several crews evacuated people from a three-story apartment building on Commonwealth Avenue near Morningside Drive.

They rescued one person who was taken to a hospital. A second person was found dead.

Catawba Co. deputies shoot and kill suspect

Posted July 23, 2024 at 7:12 AM EDT

Catawba County deputies shot and killed a suspect they were trying to arrest Monday night at a business near Conover. WSOC reports Catawba County’s Special Tactics and Response team tried to arrest 33-year-old Pierre Ramseur who worked at Elite Comfort Solutions at about 6 p.m.

He was wanted on several felony and misdemeanor crimes committed in the county, including second-degree kidnapping, common law robbery, felony larceny, misdemeanor larceny, communicating threats, injury to personal property, and had an outstanding domestic violence protective order. Investigators said Ramseur first refused to surrender and then began ramming police vehicles as officers tried to make the arrest.

Officers fired their weapons after they said he drove toward them. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the matter.

ACC vows to fight on in lawsuits

Posted July 23, 2024 at 7:11 AM EDT

The Atlantic Coast Conference opened its football kickoff event Monday in Uptown Charlotte. Before the sports talk, ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips made opening remarks and addressed ongoing legal challenges from Clemson and Florida State, who want to leave the league, in part, for bigger television deals elsewhere. Phillips said he won’t back down.

"We will fight to protect the ACC and our members. For as long as it takes. We are confident in this league and that it will remain a premier conference in college athletics for the long term future," he said.

The ACC Kickoff event runs through Thursday with press conferences from coaches and players. The conference welcomes Southern Methodist, Cal and Stanford into its ranks this season as realignment shuffles teams across the country.

One killed in overnight shooting

Posted July 22, 2024 at 8:04 AM EDT

Police are investigating a deadly shooting early Monday in west Charlotte. CMPD says officers responded to a report of shots fired at about 1:30 am on Rachel Freeman Way. That’s between 485 and Steele Creek Road. They found a man with a gunshot wound who was pronounced dead at the scene. The identity of the victim has not been released nor have any circumstances about what led to the shooting.

Charlotte FC ends up with its second draw in a row

Posted July 22, 2024 at 8:03 AM EDT

Charlotte FC got a second straight draw over the weekend to finish a stretch of three straight matches on the road. With Major League Soccer teams taking a break now for Leagues Cup competition, Charlotte coach Dean Smith says his team will be a factor in the playoff race.

"You know, we're 25 games in now. We've definitely left points out there. We know that we've created a lot of chances in games where big chances that we haven't taken and that's been our Achilles' Heel. But in terms of character, I think the players have shown that with the traveling that we've done and the games that we've played, you know we can be a force and I think there's a lot of belief in that group now and we'll take that into the into the Leagues Cup now," he said.

Charlotte is sixth in the eastern Conference, just one point out of the fifth spot with the top seven making the playoffs with the 8th and 9th place team in each conference qualifying for a play-in match.

Charlotte opens Leagues Cup play Saturday on the road. The competition features MLS and teams from Liga MX, the main soccer league in Mexico.

NC DOT looks to fix up Independence Boulevard

Posted July 22, 2024 at 8:02 AM EDT

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is looking for public input on proposed improvements to Independence Boulevard between 277 in Uptown Charlotte and 485 in Matthews. They’ve scheduled a drop-in style session from 4 to 7pm on Monday in the cafeteria at East Mecklenburg High School.

Pelosi headlines NC Democratic fundraiser

Posted July 21, 2024 at 7:12 AM EDT

"North Carolina Democrats and former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shied away from the greatest source of disunity — President Joe Biden's status as the party's presumptive nominee — during Saturday's "Unity Dinner," instead focusing their ire toward Republicans and attempting to rally their own party," WRAL reported.

Read more at WRAL.

Former Democrat and CMS Board candidate speaks at RNC

Posted July 18, 2024 at 9:52 PM EDT

Former Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools employee and Democrat Annette Albright was given a prominent speaking role at last night’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

Albright blamed Democratic policies for making schools unsafe.

Albright unsuccessfully ran for the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board last year, finishing sixth. Though the race is officially non-partisan, some progressives accused her of being a Trojan Horse candidate. They said she held Republican views without saying so.

Her candidacy drew statewide attention.

Less than a year later, Albright was at the RNC and speaking an hour before President’s Trump’s acceptance speech.

“Sadly I have repeatedly seen the Democrat Party cares more about appeasing the teachers union than prioritizing the needs of our kids,” she said. “They champion safe spaces instead of safe schools.”

She ended her speech saying she will register as a Republican and plans to vote for Trump this fall.

CMS faces shortage of bus mechanics as August opening nears

Posted July 18, 2024 at 4:32 PM EDT

About five weeks before students return to classes, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is seriously understaffed on the mechanics who inspect and maintain school buses, Transportation Director Adam Johnson told a school board committee Thursday.

"For our technicians that maintain the buses and do the monthly inspections, we are still operating about 56% staffed. So we still need to hire an additional 24 Technician II positions to help us maintain the buses," he said.

Johnson said until the jobs are filled, bus technicians have to maintain a larger number of buses. Johnson didn’t report on driver vacancies, but the CMS website lists 80 openings. That’s in a fleet of more than 800 buses.

Students start school on Aug. 26 and buses start driving practice runs the week before that.

CMPD asks for help locating deceased woman's car

Posted July 18, 2024 at 8:58 AM EDT

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police are asking for help in locating a vehicle belonging to a woman who was found dead on Sunday. Investigators say 32-year-old Elizabeth Hurd had been reported missing by family a week ago and her body was discovered on Werburgh Street. That’s off Park Road in south Charlotte.

CMPD is looking for a white 2014 BMW SUV with North Carolina license plate KJP-9368. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 704-432-TIPS

Sen. Tillis attends RNC despite previous party censure

Posted July 18, 2024 at 8:55 AM EDT

Sen. Thom Tillis was censured by the North Carolina Republican Party last year when he supported same-sex marriage. But the Raleigh News and Observer reports Tillis put that aside Wednesday to show unity and attended the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. He said he decided to go after the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. He said he hopes inflammatory rhetoric will be toned down.

"Look, I can, I can have a disagreement with anyone where, where you're gonna have problems with me is when you engage in a discourse that threatens all the work that we've done since 2010 to turn the state around and maintain Republican majorities. I'm all about that," he said.

Tillis does not have a speaking role at the convention but said he plans to stay through Friday in order to hear Trump’s speech Thursday.

NPR will have special coverage of the Republican National Convention tonight at 9.

Charlotte FC draws 1-1 against Columbus

Posted July 18, 2024 at 8:38 AM EDT

Charlotte FC battled to a draw on the road Wednesday night with the Columbus Crew. Patrick Agyemang scored a late goal for Charlotte to tie the match. He said after beating the top team in Major League Soccer over the weekend and earning a point in Columbus last night, the team is making a statement.

"Those are two top teams in our, in the whole league honestly and to play away against these two teams and to get results, it shows the quality of the team we have and I don't even think we were happy with our, both of our performances, we knew we could do better. So it shows how good we are and the potential we have. So, it's just all about us focusing and concentrating on the next game and to lead this momentum into Leagues Cup," he said.

Charlotte heads to Texas Saturday night to face the 10th place team in the Western Conference, Austin FC.

MLS takes a break for League’s Cup competition starting next Friday. It features 77 games hosted at stadiums throughout the US and Canada. All 47 first division professional clubs in the U.S., Mexico and Canada will compete in the World Cup-style tournament.

New federal study uses dragonfly larvae to track mercury pollution

Posted July 17, 2024 at 3:56 PM EDT

Federal scientists recently received an assist from nature's little helicopter, the dragonfly, to better understand how mercury pollution travels through the environment. Volunteers and scientists in 150 National Park sites collected and measured dragonfly larvae to test for chemical traces in their tissues.

Mercury is naturally occurring but burning fossil fuels, waste and wood can release the heavy metal into the air. Mercury is toxic and can cause neurological and reproductive harm when consumed in high levels. Animals that consume fish with high levels of mercury may experience a range of adverse health effects.

The dragonfly larvae data revealed how atmospheric mercury makes its way into the ground and waters. Rain and snow leave behind mercury in drier regions, while gaseous mercury accumulates on leaves in wetter, forested areas. In North Carolina, many species of fresh- and saltwater fish contain high levels of mercury such as wild catfish, largemouth bass and black crappie.

Thousands of gallons of wastewater reach greenway creek

Posted July 17, 2024 at 9:31 AM EDT

Charlotte Water says it’s investigating after more than 28,000 gallons of wastewater overflowed on Charlottetowne Avenue last Friday and reached Little Sugar Creek in the Catawba River Watershed. Temporary pumps stopped the overflow. The agency says there is no impact to drinking water. Spokesperson Cam Coley says anything put in plumbing or manholes can cause overflows and that even products labeled as flushable do not break down in the sewer system.

Anne Springs Close Greenway to replace failed bridges

Posted July 17, 2024 at 9:27 AM EDT

Construction is expected to start this fall to replace two bridges at the Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill. Officials say both should open next spring, officials said Tuesday. The Rock Hill Herald reports in addition to the former road bridge that collapsed in January, the greenway will also replace the popular swinging bridge across Steele Creek about a mile upstream of the Field Trial Barn. Some trails will be rerouted to connect two larger, taller bridges into the greenway system. Replacing both bridges will cost about $1 million.

Heist Brewery in NoDa closed after kitchen fire

Posted July 17, 2024 at 9:27 AM EDT

A kitchen fire Tuesday night has closed Heist Brewery in NoDa. WSOC reports the two-alarm fire on North Davidson street was controlled in about 40 minutes. No injuries were reported. Heist posted on Instagram that the location will be closed temporarily.

Stein, Jackson lead GOP opponents in fundraising

Posted July 16, 2024 at 1:09 PM EDT

Democrats have outraised their Republican opponents in the two most prominent statewide races.

North Carolina’s governor’s race is one of the most-watched in the nation.

Democrat Josh Stein, the state attorney general, raised nearly $14 million in the second quarter. That’s nearly three times as much as his opponent, Republican lieutenant governor Mark Robinson, who was given a prominent speaking slot Monday night at the Republican National Convention.

Both candidates are already airing TV ads with 3 and a half months to go until election day.

Stein has nearly $16 million left to spend. Robinson has $6.5 million in the bank.

In the race for state attorney general, Charlotte Democratic Congressman Jeff Jackson raised more than $4 million in the second quarter and has nearly $6 million cash on hand. Republican Congressman Dan Bishop of Waxhaw raised $2.7 million and has about $2.6 million left to spend.

Record heat bakes Charlotte region again

Posted July 16, 2024 at 7:47 AM EDT

After a little relief over the last few days, potential record-setting heat has roared back in the Charlotte region with heat index values in the triple digits through Wednesday.

Mecklenburg County, the city of Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management, along with other partners are making resources available to help vulnerable residents keep cool.

Residents without shelter can cool off and get other services at day services centers hosted by Roof Above on North College Street open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Block Love Charlotte on North Graham Street open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Mecklenburg County’s pools, spraygrounds, recreation and senior centers, and library branches are also open to the public.  

Federal regulators say North Carolina should begin PFAS testing on locally-caught freshwater fish

Posted July 15, 2024 at 10:35 PM EDT

North Carolina should begin testing all locally caught, freshwater fish for 12 types of PFAS, or so-called forever chemicals. Federal regulators advised all states and tribal authorities to conduct tests at fisheries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found potentially harmful levels of forever chemicals in fish across the country.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services already recommends limiting the consumption of fish from the middle and lower Cape Fear River. State agencies detected PFOS, another type of forever chemical, in all fish caught and tested there.

Sidman outraises Cotham for key Mecklenburg House race

Posted July 15, 2024 at 11:49 AM EDT

Mecklenburg Democrat Nicole Sidman has raised more than twice as much money as her opponent, incumbent Republican Tricia Cotham.

They are fighting for a key state House seat that could determine whether the GOP keeps their supermajority in the General Assembly.

Cotham switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party last year. Since then, Democrats have poured money and resources into the race.

Sidman, who works at Temple Beth El in Charlotte, has raised $317,000 for the entire election cycle since announcing her candidacy in late 2023. She has $231,000 cash on hand.

Cotham has raised $151,000 this election cycle, and has $160,000 left to spend. Most of her donations came from political action committees.

Cotham’s district covers Matthews, Mint Hill and parts of south Charlotte. It’s considered a toss-up.

Mecklenburg County’s other competitive state House race is for an open seat in Davidson, Cornelius and parts of Huntersville.

Democrat Beth Helfrich has raised $243,000 compared to $91,000 for former Huntersville Mayor Melinda Bales, a Republican.

The seat is currently held by Republican John Bradford. He ran for Congress in the 8th District but lost in the GOP primary in March.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson won't answer question about 'killing' comments

Posted July 11, 2024 at 12:22 PM EDT

Lt Gov. Mark Robinson, the GOP nominee for governor, was at the Capitol for a ceremony honoring a Craven County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant on Wednesday.

WRAL reports after the event, reporters tried to ask Robinson about recent comments at a Bladen County Church saying “some people need killing” as he was leaving and got this response:

"You wanna come out here and you wanna smirch this lady's award by coming out here asking me that silly question? That's what you got out of this? There's your answer. Shame. That's what it is. Pure shame and you should be ashamed," he said.  

Robinson’s campaign said he was referring to enemies of the United States during World War II.

Charlotte COPA America match ends in brawl with fans

Posted July 11, 2024 at 9:48 AM EDT

On Wednesday night, Columbia downed Uruguay 1-nil in front of more than 70,000 fans at the COPA America tournament semifinals at Bank of America Stadium. After the match, some players from Uruguay went into the stands and fought with fans. Columbia moves on to face Argentina in the Finals Sunday in Miami. The third-place match between Uruguay and Canada is Saturday in Charlotte.

VP Kamala Harris heading to NC for Thursday rally

Posted July 11, 2024 at 9:04 AM EDT

With President Biden at the NATO Summit in Washington, Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Greensboro on Thursday for a campaign event. Gov. Roy Cooper will attend as well as Biden’s campaign continues to view North Carolina as a battleground state. Republicans have won the state’s electoral votes by less than four percent in every election since 2008, including a 75,000-vote margin in 202o. The visit marks Harris’s sixth visit to North Carolina.

Charlotte Hornets keep preseason win streak alive

Posted July 10, 2024 at 11:45 AM EDT

The Charlotte Hornets still haven’t lost in NBA preseason Summer League Play. Tuesday night they downed the Sacramento Kings 86-82 behind 29 points from Bryce McGowens. New head coach Charles Lee praised his team for coming back from a halftime deficit.

"I think that we're prepared and we're ready for anything that the game kind of brings our way. And I've felt that from this group; they've kind of bonded together really quickly, really early and I just think that what it does, it just gains character, like competitive character at the end of the day. Now, we know that if we're down, the game's far from over. We know what it takes to kind of get back in the game," he said.

 The Hornets head to Las Vegas next where they’ll play the New York Knicks Saturday.

CMPD arrest driver in fatal crash

Posted July 10, 2024 at 11:44 AM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have made an arrest following a fatal crash in east Charlotte: 22 year old Dimas Ramirez was charged with felony death by motor vehicle and reckless driving. In February, officers responded to a crash at Central Avenue and North Sharon Amity Road. Officers found Ramirez’s Chevy Uplander on its passenger side and a Honda Accord with front-end damage. The four passengers in the Honda were not injured. A passenger in the Uplander, 39 year old Abigail Romero, was pronounced dead by paramedics.

Offshore wind leases sold near OBX

Posted July 10, 2024 at 11:41 AM EDT

Virginia-based Dominion Energy has agreed to buy an offshore wind lease currently owned by Avangrid Renewables. The lease is off the coast of the Outer Banks.

Dominion says it will pay Avangrid $160 million for the site called Kitty Hawk North. It’s about 40,000 acres, located 25 miles south of where Dominion’s already building its Virginia offshore wind farm. The purchase only covers about a third of Avangrid’s total lease area off the Outer Banks. The company will keep the rest and still pursue its own wind farm there.

Avangrid has struggled to get approval from the city of Virginia Beach to run cables from the Kitty Hawk site through the Sandbridge neighborhood, due to pushback from residents. Dominion says it’s aware of those community concerns and will continue to work through them.

Two deadly overnight shootings in Charlotte

Posted July 9, 2024 at 7:30 AM EDT

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police are investigating two deadly overnight shootings. The first was at about 9 pm Monday in west Charlotte on Parker Drive off Wilkinson Boulevard. Officers responding to an assault call found two victims with gunshot wounds. One died upon arrival at a hospital, the other had non-life threatening injuries. CMPD says two others went to hospitals on their own. Police have not released identities of the victims nor what led to the incident.

The second shooting happened Tuesday at about 1 am on Statesville Avenue off of I-85 in north Charlotte. Police responded to an assault call and found a victim with a gunshot wound who was pronounced dead at the scene. CMPD has not yet released the victim’s identity nor the circumstances of the shooting.

Rock Hill power bills going up

Posted July 9, 2024 at 7:28 AM EDT

Customers in the Rock Hill area will see their power bills go up next month. Duke Energy Carolinas is increasing its rates in the state after approval from the Public Service Commission of South Carolina. The Rock Hill Herald reports the rate increases range from 4.4% to 8.7% on average, depending on the type of customer, for an average yearly increase of about $150.

The commission approved the rate review request based on a settlement agreement submitted in May. This marks the first base rate increase requested by the company since 2018, according to Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier. The new rates take effect August 1.

Mixed drinks to-go now legal in NC

Posted July 9, 2024 at 7:27 AM EDT

Governor Roy Cooper signed 12 bills and vetoed one Monday. One of those he signed will allow customers to add mixed drinks with their food order at restaurants. The drinks must be in a sealed container and IDs are still required. The bill Cooper vetoed would have allowed more tree cutting around billboards.

The governor said with a record-breaking tourism economy with scenic landscapes and a push to plant one million trees in the state, the bill would have hurt those efforts. Cooper also signed a bill that he said simply restates small pay raises for teachers, but urged legislators to do more. Another bill the Governor signed provides what he described as critical but limited grants to help keep childcare centers open but urged lawmakers to do more on that front as well.

NC settles into deeper drought

Posted July 8, 2024 at 10:25 AM EDT

Some rain over the weekend has helped with drought numbers but there’s still a long way to go. Last month was the driest June on record, North Carolina climate officials said. Almost the whole state entered July at or near drought conditions.

The paltry average of 1.35 inches of rain across the state made it the driest June according to records going back to 1895, the North Carolina State Climate Office says. The Piedmont and coastal plain were hit hardest, but not all of the mountain region was spared. In Boone, the roughly inch and a half of precipitation was its third driest since 1980. At one point, Greensboro, Hickory and the Alleghany County community of Laurel Springs went 17 straight days with no measurable rainfall. Almost the entire state is considered abnormally dry or under drought conditions, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council.

Stokes County is one of 10 counties where the drought was considered severe as of Thursday. At that level, crop yields are generally low and wildfires become difficult to extinguish. The council also suggests such municipalities implement water shortage response plans. Officials say the conditions are expected to lead to damage to the state’s corn, tobacco and soybean crops.

Charlotte Hornets kick off preseason with a win

Posted July 8, 2024 at 10:24 AM EDT

The new-look Charlotte Hornets are off to a good start in the preseason after a second straight win in the California Summer League last night, downing the Chinese National team 93-62. Concord native Leaky Black said the players are all on the same page.

"I feel like we just have a good group of guys who are just willing to buy in. We got a lot of defenders. I feel like there's a lot of dogs. So I mean, dogs, I mean, people who don't care about the box score, don't care about who scores and that whole thing. So I feel like we're all just buying in together just, just trying to get a win. So we're all moving on the string and one beat like that, we look pretty good," he said.

The Hornets are off today and close out play in California tomorrow night against the Sacramento Kings

Gov. Cooper vetoes energy, crypto bills

Posted July 8, 2024 at 10:22 AM EDT

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoed two bills late Friday, having to do with changes to building codes and the federal government’s use of cryptocurrency.

Senate Bill 166 would tweak building codes and reduce the size of the Building Code Council. In his veto message, Cooper said the changes would limit energy efficiency requirements and options for electric vehicles, as well as removing some experts from the Council. Last year, the General Assembly overrode a Cooper veto in order to enact a law forbidding updates to the state’s residential building code until 2031.

 Cooper also vetoed House Bill 690, which would block North Carolina from accepting crypto-currency backed by the Federal Reserve as payments, or piloting any such payments. Cooper said the bill is vague and premature. On social media, House Speaker Tim Moore promised to swiftly override the veto.

Mecklenburg County opens cooling centers as heat indexes reach triple digits

Posted July 5, 2024 at 6:02 PM EDT

Temperatures hit 100 degrees in Charlotte on Friday, and heat indexes are expected to remain in the triple digits on Saturday.

According to the National Weather Service, the blistering conditions could also bring a chance of showers and thunderstorms.

Mecklenburg County officials said they will provide additional resources for residents to keep cool. The Revolution Park Sports Academy, Tyvola Senior Center and Eastway Regional Recreation Center are designated cooling stations Friday and Saturday.

Roof Above’s Day Service Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Block Love Charlotte's Day Service Center will remain open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to offer services to the unsheltered homeless.

Several spraygrounds will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the weekend at Clarks Creek Community, First Ward Park, Romare Bearden and Latta parks.

The Charlotte Area Transit System will offer free transportation to designated cooling stations, recreation senior centers and sprayground this weekend.

The county is also offering free box fans to seniors and adults who received disability income.

Fire damages 24 apartments in Charlotte, displacing several families

Posted July 5, 2024 at 5:25 PM EDT

Charlotte fire investigators believe an unattended candle likely caused an early morning fire at a Charlotte apartment complex Friday that displaced several families.

The flames were reported about 2:30 a.m. at an apartment building on Holliswood Court near South Tryon Street.

According to the Charlotte Fire Department, the smoke and flames spread to 24 apartment units. It took firefighters roughly an hour to control the blaze. Firefighters also rescued multiple pets.

Five civilians and one firefighter were evaluated for injuries by MEDIC and were all released. In total, 29 people were displaced by the fire.

No one was seriously injured. The damage is estimated at about $1.4 million. The Red Cross is helping families and individuals who were displaced.

New NC plan aims to recruit and retain more direct support professionals

Posted July 5, 2024 at 4:13 PM EDT

North Carolina is ramping up efforts to address a shortage of direct support professionals, or DSPs, which provide in-home and community-based services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

In June, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released a multi-year plan aimed at addressing what it calls a critical shortage of DSPs.

The goal is to improve recruitment, retention and training strategies. Among the initiatives, the state will soon launch an awareness campaign targeting high school and community college students.

To that end, the state will partner with community colleges to implement curriculum and certification programs, with the promise of scholarships covering tuition and other fees. It will also offer provider recruitment and retention grants.

NCDHHS will further its goals next year by expanding existing initiatives and exploring new approaches toward growing the workforce.

Portions of the comprehensive workforce plan address directives from a recent consent order stemming from a lawsuit against NCDHHS and the state of North Carolina. The 2017 suit was filed on behalf of people with I/DD who were unable to access needed services in their communities.

NC lawmakers call election officials to testify on third-party candidates

Posted July 5, 2024 at 4:10 PM EDT

North Carolina elections officials are being called to testify before a legislative committee to talk about their treatment of third-party candidates.

WRAL reports last week, the North Carolina State Elections Board blocked requests by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Constitution Party candidate Randall Terry to be listed as presidential candidates on the November ballot.

Democrats who control the board said they want more time to review each candidate’s petition before making a final decision at a later date.

This week, leaders of North Carolina’s House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter to Alan Hirsch, chairman of the state elections board, asking him to testify before their committee next Tuesday, the same day the elections board plans to meet to continue reviewing the third-party petitions.

Early morning fire at Charlotte motel under investigation

Posted July 4, 2024 at 4:13 PM EDT

Charlotte fire investigators are trying to figure out what caused a fire early Thursday morning at a motel in northwest Charlotte.

No injuries were reported from the blaze at the Econo Lodge near I-85 and Glenwood Drive. The fire was reported on the Charlotte Fire Department's X account at 4:07 a.m.

According to the Charlotte Fire Department, the fire was quickly controlled by a team of 30 firefighters.

MEDIC: 4 people injured in 3 overnight shootings in Charlotte

Posted July 4, 2024 at 4:10 PM EDT

Police in Charlotte are investigating three separate shootings that took place Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

According to Mecklenburg County EMS, one person was shot and injured on Taylor Avenue, just off Beatties Ford Road around 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Later, two people were shot and injured on Statesville Road near Cindy Lane in north Charlotte around midnight.

Sometime around 1:20 a.m., another person was found shot on Cutwater Circle. No other details were released.

Kannapolis police hire therapy dog to aid officers' mental health

Posted July 4, 2024 at 9:45 AM EDT

The Kannapolis Police Department has added a new nonhuman member.

Millie, a four month old Bernedoodle, will be the department’s therapy dog.

She was donated to the department by a resident who wanted to help after four law enforcement officers were killed in a shootout at a Charlotte home in April.

Kannapolis Police Chief Terry Spry said he recognizes the importance of mental health and hopes Millie will ease day-to-day stresses and help in moments of crisis.

"(If) we have a critical incident and things of that nature we'll bring Millie in to help the officers decompress," Spry said.

Millie and her handler will complete an eight week training course this month. She will also make appearances at community events and serve as a therapy dog for other city staff members.

On Monday, CMPD officer Brent Simpson died from a self inflicted gunshot wound. CMPD Police Chief Johnny Jennings stressed afterward that officers' mental health should be discussed more.

Charlotte police visiting youth arrested during last year's Fourth of July celebrations

Posted July 3, 2024 at 6:11 PM EDT

A year after uptown Fourth of July celebrations turned chaotic and led to 32 arrests, local officials are hoping to avoid a repeat.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers are visiting the homes of juveniles arrested during the disruptions last year to warn them off further disruptions.

County commissioner Vilma Leake also said Tuesday night parents should be held accountable.

"I thought about all of this and what we have to put up with when it comes to parents not parenting their children," Leake said. "So I pray that this year that we will have a safe community on the Fourth of July."

Fireworks in uptown are scheduled Thursday night at the Charlotte Knights’ ballpark following their game against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. First pitch is at 6:35 p.m.

Gov. Cooper signs bill with restrictions on vaping products

Posted July 3, 2024 at 5:25 PM EDT

Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday signed new restrictions on vaping products into law. The goal is to prevent the sale of products that haven't been FDA approved.

The bill would require the makers of vape pens and other similar nicotine products to get a certification showing their product has federal approval.

The state Department of Revenue would then publish a list of approved products, and retailers could be fined if they sell something that's not on the list.

"There's some pretty hefty penalties for manufacturers that bypass these laws, which I think we need to have to protect our kids and protect others," said Republican Senator Michael Lee, the bill's sponsor.

Lobbyists for convenience stores opposed the bill. They said small businesses would take a hit if products already on their shelves became illegal.

Lawmakers also voted to limit sales of tianeptine, a relatively new drug known as gas station heroin, but they didn't take action before adjourning on new regulations for hemp and CBD products or on a proposal to legalize medical marijuana.

South Carolina budget includes new funds to combat dogfighting

Posted July 3, 2024 at 4:41 PM EDT

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said Wednesday that South Carolina’s new state budget includes $566,000 in new funds to combat dogfighting.

That money will allow the State Law Enforcement Division to hire three new agents focused exclusively on breaking up dogfighting rings in the state.

In a news conference, McMaster said dogfights are not only cruel, but typically lead to other criminal activity.

"If we could find out where these dog fights are going to take place and we could go out there and drop a net over all those people that accumulate to watch those things and bet money on who, which dog is going to die first — if we could drop a net on, we'd solve half the crimes in the county right there. In that one night," McMaster said.

There’s currently just one SLED agent focused on animal fighting, so this will quadruple the number of dedicated agents in South Carolina.

Biden nominates NC solicitor general to 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

Posted July 3, 2024 at 4:16 PM EDT

President Joe Biden intends to nominate North Carolina Solicitor General Ryan Park to a seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court hears appeals from nine federal district courts around the southeast, including in North and South Carolina.

In a joint statement, North Carolina Republican Senators Ted Budd and Thom Tillis said they oppose the nomination, but Park may not need their votes to win confirmation from the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"While the White House has fallen short of engaging the advice and consent process in good faith for North Carolina’s judicial vacancies, we still hope to work together to find a consensus nominee who can earn bipartisan support and be confirmed," Budd and Tillis said in the joint statement.

'I'm super thankful': Former Hornets star Kemba Walker announces retirement

Posted July 3, 2024 at 1:45 PM EDT

One of the top players in Charlotte Hornets’ history is retiring.

34-year-old Kemba Walker made the announcement Tuesday on social media, saying “Basketball has done more for me than I could’ve ever imagined and I’m super thankful for the amazing journey I’ve had.”

He became a four-time NBA All Star and played for 12 seasons in the NBA. He played eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats and became the Hornets's all-time leader in points scored and minutes played for the team.

Walker last played in the NBA during the 2022-23 season for the Dallas Mavericks. He spent the 2023-24 season playing for AS Monaco of the Euroleague.

During his NBA career, Walker also played for The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks.

Charlotte FC faces Inter Miami in uptown Wednesday

Posted July 3, 2024 at 1:32 PM EDT

Charlotte FC is back on the pitch at home Wednesday night, hosting the top team in Major League Soccer – Inter Miami.

Charlotte is coming off its first loss in a month last time out, but at a press conference Monday, coach Dean Smith said he believes in his team’s ability to get back on track.

"It's going to be a tough game for us. We've got to make sure that we're right at the top of our game. We can't start like we did against Philly and last week at Houston," Smith said. "We have to make sure we're ready right from the off, and I'm sure our fans will help us do that as well."

Miami will be without two of its top players. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are both playing in the COPA America tournament.

Kick off is at 7:30 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium.

Thieves steal $1,350 worth of Stanley Cups from Gastonia sports store

Posted July 3, 2024 at 10:57 AM EDT

Police in Gastonia are searching for two men photographed stealing 30 Stanley Cups from an Academy Sports store on East Franklin Boulevard on Friday, June 28.

Two men were seen walking out of an Academy Sports in Gastonia with 30 stolen Stanley Cups on Friday, June 28, 2024.
Gastonia Police Department
Two men were seen walking out of an Academy Sports in Gastonia with 30 stolen Stanley Cups on Friday, June 28, 2024.

The stolen cups are worth $45 each, for a total of $1,350. According to a police report, the two men entered the store around 12:35 p.m. and loaded a shopping cart with the cups, then transferred the goods into two reusable grocery bags and walked out of the store.

Police say the men were seen getting into a black Chrysler 300 and driving off. Anyone with information about the crime can call Crimestoppers of Gaston County at 704-861-8000 and could be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

With GOP resignation, NC Senate slips below veto-proof majority

Posted July 3, 2024 at 9:13 AM EDT

A Republican from Kinston, North Carolina who had been seen as a rising star in the state legislature resigned his seat Tuesday.

WRAL reports State Senator Jim Perry was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Senate in 2019 and rose through the ranks to become Senate majority whip — a top leadership position tasked with keeping the Republican caucus voting as a bloc. He also served as co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Perry's resignation drops the Senate below the threshold needed for Republicans to guarantee a veto-proof supermajority.

The legislative session is mostly over, though lawmakers could come back sporadically this summer and fall to consider veto overrides or make another attempt at writing a new state budget.

County-level GOP leadership in Lenoir, Craven and Beaufort counties can now nominate someone to take his place, at least until the winner of this year's election is sworn in in January.

Mecklenburg County Democratic commissioner calls on Biden to step down as the party’s presidential nominee

Posted July 2, 2024 at 6:32 PM EDT

Democratic elected officials and strategists have not publicly called for President Joe Biden to step down as the party’s presidential nominee after his poor performance in last week’s debate — until Tuesday.

A Congressman from Texas is calling for Biden to withdraw, and a local elected Democrat called for him to withdraw as well.

Mecklenburg County At-Large Commissioner Leigh Altman, a Democrat, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “for the good of the party and the country, he needs to step down and let (Vice President) Kamala (Harris) become president.”

She described Harris as the “most competitive person to win in November.” Reached by phone, Altman said she did not want to comment beyond her post.

According to the Associated Press, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Texas, cited Biden’s poor debate performance as his reason for calling for the president to pull out of the election.

The AP says Doggett is the first sitting lawmaker in his party to publicly call on Biden to step down.

In a rally in Raleigh, the day after the debate, Biden acknowledged his shortcomings in the debate but fiercely defended his decision to stay in the race and his ability to do the job as president.

Mecklenburg pilot program offers $600 monthly stipends for formerly incarcerated people

Posted July 2, 2024 at 6:27 PM EDT

People returning from prison often struggle to find a job and pay for housing and other necessities. A pilot program from Mecklenburg County is meant to help out with something new: A guaranteed income supplement.

The pilot program launched this week gives supplemental income to residents reentering the community after incarceration.

Some 60 former inmates have been chosen to receive a $600 monthly stipend for a year. The money can be used to pay for child care, health care, drug abuse treatment, education and housing and utilities. The program’s funding from the county totals $500,000.

Mecklenburg County Criminal Justice Services Director Sonya Harper said those who qualify for the stipend must go through the county to receive the funds.

"They just notify the department and say, 'Hey, I need assistance with housing this month', or I need assistance with child care or things related to my kid this month. And so the department, we will do like direct purchasing or take care of an expense directly on behalf of the client," Harper said.

The pilot program also includes a control group of 60 inmates who won’t receive any supplemental income, so the county can compare the results to the group that does, and evaluate future funding possibilities.

NC Forest Service urges caution around fireworks

Posted July 2, 2024 at 8:07 AM EDT

The North Carolina Forest Service is urging residents to consider the risks of dry conditions as they prepare for Fourth of July festivities.

The state Forest Service is discouraging fireworks and outdoor burning unless the region gets a good soaking rain. The agency says while fireworks are an important part of Independence Day celebrations, they’re best left to professionals. Dry conditions make fire danger high and create risks that flames could get out of control more easily.

As of last week, all of the Piedmont/Triad was experiencing a moderate drought, while parts of the high country were at the lesser tier of abnormally dry, according to the North Carolina Drought Monitor. Not much immediate relief in the area is expected. The National Weather Service forecast calls for mostly sunny conditions leading up to the holiday with a slight chance for thunderstorms on the Fourth in the Piedmont

Charlotte waste, recycling pickup to continue as normal on July 4

Posted July 2, 2024 at 8:06 AM EDT

City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services will collect garbage, recycling, yard waste and bulky waste as scheduled on Thursday, the Fourth of July Holiday.

City offices will be closed, but there will be no delay to collection services. Waste Services says carts should be put at the curb no later than 6 a.m. on collection day.

Charlotte Hornets pick up another player

Posted July 2, 2024 at 8:05 AM EDT

The Charlotte Hornets are adding another player. ESPN reports the Hornets will get guard Josh Green from the Dallas Mavericks through a multi-team sign and trade deal. Green averaged 8 points per game last season for the Mavericks. Meanwhile, the team says recent draft picks Tidjane Salaun and KJ Simpson won’t participate in mini camp due to injury. Salaun has a minor laceration near his knee and Simpson has a hamstring injury. Salaun is expected to be available for Summer League play.

Gov. Cooper signs antisemitism bill into law, saying it will make NC 'more welcoming'

Posted July 1, 2024 at 4:00 PM EDT

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday signed a bill into law that targets antisemitism, saying it will help the state become more welcoming.

House Bill 942, nicknamed the SHALOM Act with the Hebrew word for “peace,” creates an official state definition for antisemitism identical to the definition used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

It includes 11 examples such as denying the Holocaust, accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than their own country, or holding Jews collectively responsible for the state of Israel’s actions.

The bill received near unanimous approval from Democrats and Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly.

"Defining antisemitism is important to stopping it, and this new law helps to do that as antisemitic incidents are on the rise," Cooper said in a statement. "While we protect the right to free speech, this legislation helps to make our state a more welcoming, inclusive and safe place for everyone."

Charlotte the stingray has died at her NC aquarium

Posted July 1, 2024 at 3:43 PM EDT

The North Carolina stingray that made international headlines for supposedly becoming pregnant with no mate in her tank has died, her aquarium confirmed Sunday.

In a post on Facebook, the Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO said Charlotte the stingray died on Sunday after continuing treatment with her medical care team and specialist.

The stingray had been the subject of international scrutiny after the Hendersonville aquarium said in February that she had become pregnant, possibly with multiple pups, despite there being no male of her species in her tank.

The aquarium later said she was not in fact pregnant, but had a rare reproductive disease. The ray was thought to be between 12 and 14 years old.

"We are continuing to work with her medical care team and research specialist," the aquarium said in its statement, adding that would remain temporarily closed for the time being.

It also thanked Charlotte's fans for their "continued love and support while we navigate this great loss."

Atrium Health reaches settlement with prominent NC family

Posted July 1, 2024 at 8:57 AM EDT

Atrium Health has reached a settlement in a legal dispute with the heirs of Cannon Mills over the inheritance of millions of dollars.
The Charlotte Observer reports that’s according to a motion filed in state business court on Friday.

The Cannon family, a prominent name in North Carolina textiles, filed a lawsuit in February. The dispute was over the rightful heir to the Cannon trust, which was created in the 1960s and directed money to go to the then-county-owned Cabarrus Memorial Hospital. That hospital eventually merged with Atrium, which argued it’s entitled to the money. The Cannon family in the lawsuit argued Atrium was not the intended recipient of the trust.

The settlement must still be approved by a court.

CMPD chief disappointed with suspect's bond

Posted July 1, 2024 at 8:40 AM EDT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said Friday that he’s beyond "disappointed" that a suspect charged with murder and rape less than two weeks ago has been released from jail on bond.

Raphael Wright is charged with shooting and killing a woman, as well as first degree rape.

WSOC reports Wright was freed under a $50,000 bond to await his trial. Jennings has argued for years that local magistrates set bond too low for violent offenders, allowing them to get out of jail quickly.

Levine Properties buys 'Akers' Acres'

Posted July 1, 2024 at 8:40 AM EDT

Levine Properties said the company has purchased the historic "Akers' Acres" estate on Sardis Road in South Charlotte with the aim of preserving it.

The home, built in 1937, was designed by Charlotte architect Louis Asbury Sr. and originally bought by insurance executive James Jones Akers.

The home is expected to be a candidate for landmark designation. Its future has been a source of speculation since it was put on the market.