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25 Years Ago, Hugo Hit Charleston

It’s been quarter-century since Hurricane Hugo hit the Carolinas and people across the region are remembering the anniversary this week. The storm killed 49 people and caused $7 billion in damage, and was a defining moment for Charleston, South Carolina, and for its mayor, Joseph P. Riley Jr.  Hugo came ashore 25 years ago today in Charleston, slamming the city with 135 mile an hour winds. 

In an interview with the Associated Press, the 71-year-old Riley called it the most important time in his long service to the city. Riley was in his candlelit office in City Hall that night in 1989 as the storm hit, then worked in the following days to bring in money and supplies to help get Charleston back on its feet. He became a national figure after the storm, and used that notoriety to help restore the city he has served for decades.


The North Carolina Department of Transportation is offering details of its proposal for more than a billion dollars in road projects, most in rural areas of the state. The Raleigh News & Observer reports the DOT has compiled a list of 21 potential projects worth a total of 1.49 billion dollars that could be built by borrowing money through bonds. The projects range from coastal and eastern areas to central North Carolina to the mountains. Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and Gov. Pat McCroy promoted the plan during stops in four cities last week.  The state may not be able to borrow money for all the projects – the state treasurer says the state’s limit is about 1.2 billion dollars.  


Meanwhile, a project here in the Charlotte area continues to bring out opponents … The DOT plans to widen I-77 between Charlotte and Mooresville beginning next year by using toll lanes.  At a Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce meeting Friday in Cornelius, DOT representative Warren Cooksey found himself in a debate with toll lane opponents.  Cooksey argued the case for toll lanes and the state’s partnership with construction giant Cintra, which will help finance, build and operate the toll lanes. But our news partner CorneliusNews.net reports Cooksey faced a barrage of questions about why the state isn’t putting a ceiling on toll rates and whether the plan will really solve I-77 congestion north of Charlotte. Cooksey said the plan is the best way to get the road widened in the next few years, instead of waiting for traditional road funding to be available in 20 years.


A new commission is starting to study the pros and cons of the math and English language targets for North Carolina's public school student The newly formed Academic Standards Review Commission on Monday will start its review of the Common Core standards in North Carolina. The committee will look at the pros and cons of the math and English language targets for North Carolina public school students. The commission could recommend modifying what students should learn between kindergarten and high school graduation. It’s possible but less likely the commission will do nothing about the standards. The state is reviewing the standards after complaints, including from Tea party Republicans who say Common Core is a federal takeover of education. 

The common core also is under scrutiny in South Carolina, where opponents are telling state education officials the new standards for Advanced Placement U.S. History are anti-American.  The State newspaper in Columbia reports that opponents will bring their complaints to the state Education Oversight Committee on Monday.


Cigarette smoking is down among North Carolina teens, but electronic cigarette and hookah use is up.  The News & Observer of Raleigh obtained a copy of the latest North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey. It found cigarette smoking declined 13 percent among high school students between 20-11 and 20-13, with just 13.5 percent of high school students using cigarettes.  At the same time, e-cigarette use rose from about 2 percent of students to 8 percent. The use of water-filled pipes called hookahs more than doubled to 6 percent of high school students. Health officials say while the drop in cigarette smoking should be celebrated, the rise in other tobacco use is discouraging.


  •    East Carolina clobbered North Carolina 70 to 41 Saturday in a game that saw the Pirates rack up a school record 789 total yards.
  •    UNC Charlotte’s 49ers had their first loss, 20 to 13 at Elon.  A five yard touchdown pass with just under 4 minutes left sealed the victory for the Phoenix.
  •    Tonight in Charlotte, the NFL’s Carolina Panthers play Pittsburgh at Bank of America stadium Game time is 8:30.