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Sun. Headlines: Gov. Says Too Late to Halt I-77 Tolls

Gov. Pat McCrory says it's too late for the state to change its mind on using toll lanes to expand Interstate 77 north of Charlotte. McCrory said during a stop Friday in downtown Mooresville that the contract with a private developer to build and manage the lanes is already signed, the Charlotte Observer reports.

Work on the $655 million project begins this summer, to widen the road with express lanes from I-277 in north Charlotte to Exit 36 in Mooresville. The project is expected to be finished in 2018.   McCrory said canceling the contract could cost the state up to $100 million. The governor suggested some politicians opposing the project now are looking for cover after approving it two or three years ago.

LOBBYING GROUP COULD HELP DECIDE CHARTER FUNDING

A non-profit group that has lobbied for an increase in charter schools and private education vouchers in North Carolina could soon be in charge of allocating taxpayer money to help charters launch.  Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina could decide which fledgling charter schools or even applicants get a piece of 1 million dollars a year in state money.   North Carolina Center for Nonprofits vice president David Heinen says the budget proposal may break new ground in state spending by giving, the parents group the decision-making power over money.   None of the money would go to the group’s own expenses. Officials say they hope their new funding role will help the group raise more money from foundations.

WOMAN CHARGED AFTER FATAL WRECK

A 3-year-boy died and his 7-year-old brother was seriously hurt in a two-car crash early this morning on Billy Graham Parkway. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police said the boys’ mother, Chantee Boyd, was headed south on Billy Graham Parkway towards Morris Field Drive at high speed when she lost control of her Honda, spun and ended up in the northbound lanes. Another driver struck then struck her car head-on.  Neither driver was seriously hurt. Boyd now is facing charges including felony death by vehicle, reckless driving, and driving while impaired. 

FIRE CLOSES OUTER BANKS ROAD

Firefighters spent Saturday trying to extinguish a wildfire on the Outer Banks that briefly closed the only highway off the island. The National Park Service says the fire started around 11 o’clock Friday night in an uninhabited area a few miles north of Avon, near power lines by Pamlico Sound. The fire quickly spread east and grew to about 20 acres. The smoke caused officials to shut state Highway 12 for about four hours.

2 CHARGED WITH MURDER OF GASTONIA MEN

Authorities say two men from Gastonia were killed during a drug deal in South Carolina last week, and two other men have been charged in their deaths.  The York County Coroner identified the victims as 35-year-old Aron Young and 43-year-old Jerry Farmer. The men were found dead in a burning truck on a dirt road late Thursday. Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller says they were shot at a Blacksburg home.   The sheriff says deputies received a tip there had been a shooting at the house and found 45-year-old Donald Creswell Jr. burning carpet and other evidence. Creswell and 33-year-old Steven Parker are charged with murder.

MAN SAYS HE STABBED ROOMMATE IN SELF DEFENSE

A man who police say stabbed his roommate to death in Catawba County says the victim attacked him first after an argument over dirty clothes.  No charges have been filed as authorities continue to investigate the death of 50-year-old David Petrea on Thursday.    Petrea's roommate, 54-year-old Randall Head, told media outlets that Petrea was a good friend, but struggled with a drug problem. Head says he got into a fight with Petrea and had to stab Petrea to save his own life.   Authorities are questioning a third person as they determine whether to file charges.

SC LAWMAKERS FACE BUDGET DEADLINE

South Carolina legislators are due back for a special session this week, when their main task will be to pass a state budget for the fiscal year that starts in two weeks. But with parts of the budget package still up for debate on both chambers' floors, it appears highly unlikely a final spending plan will be possible before July 1.   With so much work remaining, lawmakers would have to pass what’s called a continuing resolution to keep state government running until they reach a compromise.