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Headline Roundup: UNC Academic Fraud, Smoking Ban And More

An independent investigator says athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill were encouraged to sign up for so-called “paper classes” that didn’t meet. Former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein says the academic problems in the university’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies department started in 1993 and lasted until 2011. He says an academic advisor, Deborah Crowder, graded many of the papers rather than a member of the faculty. Athletic coaches told Wainstein that they knew the classes were easy but did not know the students’ work was not being graded by a professor. Wainstein presented his findings today to the UNC Board of Trustees. The school released a statement in which Chancellor Carol Folt says UNC has been taking corrective action since the problems first came to light and that Wainstein’s findings will be used to further strengthen those processes. Starting in March of next year, you won’t be able to smoke on county and municipal grounds in Mecklenburg County. County Commissioners last night passed a smoking ban that also prohibits tobacco products in most parks. The plan they approved is scaled back from the original proposal and excludes about 20 regional parks and 6 golf courses. Only Commissioner Bill James voted against the ban.

Former Cherryville Police Chief Woody Burgess has been placed on probation on embezzlement charges. Burgess was sentenced this morning to one year of probation and six months of home detention. He also has to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $12,000 in restitution and fines. Federal prosecutors say for nearly a year, Burgess told the city's then-finance director to write checks to buy guns for his personal use. He served as Cherryville police chief for more than 10 years. Burgess is the only person the embezzlement investigation who was not sentenced to prison.

Power is back on for more than 23,000 customers of Union Power Cooperative and Duke Energy. The outage lasted for about 90 minutes, starting shortly after 10 o’clock this morning. Most of the affected customers were in Union County. The utilities say a problem at a Duke Energy substation caused the outage.

The two major challengers to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley used the final debate last night to hammer the incumbent on the state's child welfare agency and her lack of support for a law to take guns away from people convicted of criminal domestic violence. Independent candidate Tom Ervin, a Greenville attorney, says he decided to run because of Haley's poor handling of the Department of Social Services. He says she stood by while an incompetent leader of the agency let children be abused and killed because of poor management. Democratic State Senator Vincent Sheheen says convicted abusers should never have guns. Haley did not support a ban during the debate.

Air traffic at Myrtle Beach International Airport is back to normal after a problem with the runway lights last night forced flights to be canceled or delayed. Three flights were canceled and a fourth was delayed during the hour-long outage. Crews are currently paving the airport's 9,500-foot runway during overnight hours. An airport spokesman says he doesn’t know if the problem was related to the construction.