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Headline Roundup: Duke Contests DENR Fine; Historic Preservation Tax Credit Bill Moves Forward; More

Duke Energy says it will “vigorously contest” a $25 million fine for groundwater contamination from coal ash. The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced the fine two weeks ago for Duke’s Sutton plant near Wilmington.

In a statement, Duke calls the record fine a regulatory overreach. The company plans to file a formal appeal by the April 9th state deadline that it says will detail specific instances where it believes DENR exceeded its legal authority or didn’t follow proper procedures.

Historic Preservation Tax Credit Bill Moves Forward
A bill that would bring back North Carolina’s historic preservation tax credit is moving through the state House. The Finance committee this morning signed off on the measure that would give tax breaks to developers who turn old buildings into offices or housing.

The previous historic tax credit program expired on January 1, as part of recent reforms pushed by Republican leaders. The new proposal would expire in 2021. More than half of the House’s 120 members are co-sponsors of the bill, indicating it’s likely to pass a floor vote. But state senators have been more resistant to reviving the tax credit.

Eastway Drive Bridge Closure Extended Five Months
The bridge on Eastway drive in North Charlotte will stay closed for another five months. The Charlotte Department of Transportation said today the bridge will now reopen in August. It’s been closed since last May for Lynx light rail construction. This is the second delay for the Eastway Bridge. It was originally scheduled to reopen last December.

Credit Union Expands In Charlotte
Truliant Federal Credit Union is planning a major expansion in the Charlotte region. The company this morning announced it will add 10 branches in the area by the end of next year. Truliant says the expansion will create 120 jobs. Truliant currently has four branches in the Charlotte region.

Dowd Y To Get Major Renovation
The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is planning a $20 million renovation of the Dowd Y near uptown. The remake will include expanded workout areas and a parking garage. The YMCA says it’s raised half of the $20 million cost from private donors and it hopes to raise the rest by the end of the year. The Dowd Y opened 55 years ago. 

BMW's South Carolina Plant Produces 3 Millionth Vehicle
BMW produced its three-millionth vehicle today in South Carolina. The German auto maker opened its plant near Spartanburg in 1994. It produces the company’s X line of SUV’s 70 percent of which are exported. BMW is in the middle of an expansion at the plant which will add 800 jobs and bring production capacity to 450,000 by the end of next year.

Charleston, Myrtle Beach City Councils To Consider Resolution Opposing Offshore Drilling, Exploration
The city councils of Charleston and Myrtle Beach tonight plan to consider resolutions opposing drilling and exploration for oil and natural gas off the South Carolina coast. Some critics of offshore drilling worry the practice could damage the state's $18 billion tourism industry. Seven coastal communities in South Carolina and 12 in North Carolina are on record against offshore drilling. Supporters say drilling can be done safely and will create jobs and new revenue.

SC Author To Open Fitness Studio
Pat Conroy is opening a new business in South Carolina. The Beaufort Gazette reports the 69-year-old author of "The Prince of Tides" plans to open a fitness studio next month in Port Royal. Conroy’s partner in the business is his former trainer. He posted on facebook that he wants to stay healthy to write four or five books more before he meets Jesus. Conroy says he started exercising after nearly dying three years ago.