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Headline Roundup: I-77 Tolls, CMS Raises, Family Dollar And More

North Carolina transportation officials are still not saying what tolls will cost on Interstate 77 north of Uptown Charlotte after a private company builds high-occupancy toll lanes. The plan calls for one lane in each direction on the north end of the project and two lanes in each direction closer to Uptown.

A Spanish contractor, Cintra, has been selected to build and maintain the lanes. Speaking today on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks, Ned Curran, chairman of the state Board of Transportation, said the tolls will change dynamically. “If there are not enough people in the lane, the price drops. If there are too many people in the lane, the price increases… so the pricing will always be relative to demand,”  Curran said. 

Cars with three people, including the driver, will be able to drive in the new lanes without paying a toll. The number of standard lanes on the 45 mile stretch of I-77 will not change.

Mecklenburg County Manager Recommends CMS Raises
Mecklenburg County Manager Dina Diorio tonight will recommend that county commissioners approve a total of $12.2 million to give raises to county-funded positions at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. That’s according to the Charlotte Observer.

In the new budget approved this summer, the county set aside $7.3 million until state lawmakers decided how much they’d raise pay for state-paid teachers. The county usually matches that level for the 28,000 county-funded positions at CMS. After state lawmakers approved an average 7 percent teacher raise, CMS requested an additional $4.9 million.

Family Dollar Board Advises Against Dollar General Bid
Family Dollar’s board is advising shareholders to reject a takeover bid from Dollar General. Family Dollar has turned Dollar General down twice already, saying it would stick with a planned merger with Virginia-based Dollar Tree.

Dollar General last week took its $80 a share, all cash offer directly to shareholders. Dollar Tree is offering $74.50 a share in cash and stock. Family Dollar says the Dollar General deal would run into problems with regulators.

Cumberland County Commissioners Delayed Poultry Plant Decision
Cumberland County has delayed a decision on a proposed poultry plant near Fayetteville. County commissioners met privately yesterday but were unable to agree on an incentives package for the $113 million project. The Sanderson Farms plant is expected to employ 1,000 workers.

Earlier this week, more than 150 people showed up at a public commissioners’ meeting to criticize the effect the plant would have on property values and the environment.

McCrory Touting Transportation Plan In Trip Across State
Governor Pat McCrory is making stops across North Carolina today to highlight his new transportation plan, which calls for improving on existing highways and rail lines to better connect different parts of the state.

Along the coast, McCrory calls for stabilizing inlets, replacing aging bridges, and expanding ports. In the central part of the state, the plan includes expanding mass transit and relieving congestion. And in Western North Carolina, the governor wants to improve highway and rail connections to neighboring states.

The 25-year plan builds on a new model for funding transportation projects passed last year by the legislature. The strategic  transportation initiative prioritizes projects that would have the greatest impact. McCrory says the new formula could allow for funding as many as twice the number of projects compared to the old formula.

Burr Announces Second Term Run
U.S. Senator Richard Burr says he’s planning to run for a second term in 2016. That’s according to the National Journal. The Winston-Salem Republican is rejecting speculation he would leave at the end of his current term.

Burr is 58 years old and was first elected to the U.S. House in 1994. He served ten years there before winning the senate seat vacated by John Edwards in 2004. Burr defeated North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in 2010 for a second term.

Guns And Ammunition Sales A Boon To NC Wildlife Programs
An increase in sales of guns and ammunition in recent years has boosted wildlife programs in North Carolina. The Raleigh News & Observer reports a federal tax that’s been in place since the Great Depression sends money to wildlife research, game projects and hunter education in North Carolina and elsewhere. 

North Carolina has received nearly $20 million from the tax on guns and ammunition this year. That's more than three times as much as the state received in 2007. Wildlife officials say the extra money has made up for cuts in state funding and allowed them to start new projects. The increased revenue has paid for parking lots, roads, signs and boundary markers on about two million acres of game lands managed by the Wildlife Resources Commission.

Iredell Co. Sheriff's Officer Fired Over Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
An Iredell County Sheriff’s patrol officer has been fired, following the county paying $475,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by two women. Suzanne Wick and Lisa Mangiardi filed the suit in 2012, accusing officer Ben Jenkins of making sexual remarks to them and also stalking and propositioning them. Wick and Mangiardi say the sheriff did little to reprimand officer Jenkins.