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Headline Roundup: Panel Interviewing Online Charter School Companies; I-485 Lanes Open; More

A panel selected by the state school board is meeting today with companies who want to open North Carolina’s first online-only charter schools. The committee will interview representatives of N.C. Virtual Academy and N.C. Connections Academy in Raleigh.

Charter schools receive state money but operate under fewer rules than other public schools. Thirty states allow fully online charters. North Carolina is one of more than two dozen states that allow online courses to supplement, but not replace, brick and mortar schools.  

Lexington County Sheriff's Plea Deal Rejected
Former Lexington County Sheriff James Metts appears headed to trial on 10 criminal charges. A federal judge today rejected a plea deal that would’ve kept the state’s longest serving sheriff out of prison.

Metts was prepared to plead guilty to helping keep two men in the country illegally from ending up in a federal database. But U.S. District Judge Terry Wooten said there was too much of a difference between a sentence of up to 16 months in prison and the three-years probation agreed to by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Judge Wooten says it’s rare to grant only probation in a federal case when the guidelines call for prison time. He also noted that the defendant is a public official. Metts officially resigned from office yesterday; he had been suspended since June after almost 42 years as sheriff.

Mecklenburg County Asks Lawmakers To Correct Property Tax Billing Problem
Mecklenburg County will ask state lawmakers for permission to relieve current property owners for tax liabilities from before they owned their properties. The Charlotte Observer reports county manager Dina Diorio made the announcement yesterday.

Mecklenburg County has found nearly 13,000 undervalued parcels stemming from the botched 2011 countywide revaluation. Diorio says the county wants to send bills for the difference to the owners of the property at the time of the revaluation and reimburse with interest anyone who already paid taxes for years they didn’t own the property. Current state law requires that current property owners pay the difference.

I-485 Lanes Open In South Charlotte
Starting as early as tomorrow, people will be able to drive in new lanes on I-485 in south Charlotte. The Charlotte Observer reports the state DOT plans to open newly built lanes on each side of the highway over the next few days. The nine-mile widening project runs from I-77 to Rea Road. The DOT says all six lanes of 485 will be open by Saturday morning.

Charlotte Hosts International Soccer In 2015 
Charlotte will host an international soccer competition next year. Two matches featuring the Mexican national team will be held at Bank of America stadium in July. Details of the Gold Cup Doubleheader will be announced after the New Year.

No Curfew For Fayetteville Youth
Fayetteville police are no longer considering imposing a curfew on young people. The Fayetteville Observer reports Chief Harold Medlock says after looking at two years of crime data, police have determined a curfew wouldn't do any good. Medlock says very few children younger than 16 are victims or charged with crimes committed after 11 p.m. In fact, he says, more juveniles are involved in crimes during daylight hours. Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson proposed the curfew last summer.

Morganton Brewer Expanding
Catawba Brewing plans to start construction on a second brewery next week. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports the Morganton-based craft brewer hopes to have a 5,400 square foot facility open in Asheville by the spring. The new location will also include a barbecue restaurant.

Catawba already has a tasting room in the city near the Biltmore Estate. The company’s main brewery will remain in Morganton. 

Family Sues Driver, School Board In Death Of Son
The parents of an 11-year-old Forsyth County boy killed two years ago when he was hit by a car while trying to catch a school bus are suing the driver and the local school board. The Winston-Salem Journal reports lawyers for Odina and Norris Wesley claim Billy Bailey was texting when his car hit the couple’s son. The two accuse the school board of failing to supervise bus drivers and placing bus routes on heavily traveled highways. Bailey pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor death by vehicle.

SC TV Station Wins DuPont Award
A South Carolina TV station will be honored with an Alfred I. DuPont award for its investigation of the state’s Department of Social Services. WLTX  TV in Columbia will receive the award next month for its series called “DSS: The System Failed.” The reports examined the case of a four year old boy who died in the state’s care, despite reports of abuse.