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Charlotte Area News
WFAE's coverage of the case of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Ferrell. The court case ended in a mistrial.

Sun. Headlines: Sanders Draws Crowds in Carolinas; Lawmakers Agree on Budget

Bernie Sanders

More than 3,000 people were at Winthrop University in Rock Hill Saturday to hear Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.  The Vermont Senator is in the midst of a three-state weekend swing, hoping to draw the same kind of large crowds he's attracted across the country. Sanders holds another rally Sunday night at Greensboro Coliseum's special events center, which seats 5,000 people.

Sanders faces a challenge in the South, overcoming strong support among African Americans for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front runner for the party nomination. The North Carolina primary is expected in mid-March.

At Winthrop, The Charlotte Observer reports, Sanders told the audience: “We need a government that represents all of us and not just the billionaires.”

McCRORY WORRIES ABOUT BUDGET DEAL

North Carolina lawmakers say they’ve reached a tentative deal on the state budget, but the governor is raising questions about it. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger said Friday the legislature will vote on a final plan this week. Details of the plan aren’t public, but Republican Governor Pat McCrory says he's worried the new budget will expand the sales tax to cover more services and labor, which he calls a tax increase.

FIREFIGHTERS CLIMB DUKE TOWER IN 9/11 MEMORIAL

Hundreds of Charlotte area firefighters commemorated the 9/11 terrorist attacks Saturday morning by climbing the stairs at the 54-story Duke Energy Center in Charlotte – in full gear. The fifth annual Charlotte Memorial Stair Climb was organized by the Charlotte Fire Fighters Association. The climb honors the more than 400 emergency responders who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in 2001.

POLICE AND BARBERS HOST TOWN HALL TODAY

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and the North Carolina Local Barbers Association will host their eight Cops & Barbers Town hall Sunday. The event, at 3 o’clock at Tuckaseegee Recreation Center, is the first since a mistrial was declared in the case of Randall Kerrick, a white police officer accused in the 2013 shooting death of an unarmed black man, Jonathan Ferrell.

DROUGHT CONTINUES, AFFECTING RURAL HILL CORN MAZE

The drought in western North Carolina is getting worse. The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor lists five counties now in severe drought status – Gaston, Lincoln, Cleveland, Polk and Rutherford.  Other counties, including Mecklenburg,  remain in moderate drought conditions. The National Weather Service says Charlotte area rainfall is about 7 inches below normal.  

The lack of rain is affecting crops across the region, including the cornfield at Historic Rural Hill in Huntersville. With corn just a few feet tall, the site is scaling back this year’s Amazing Maize Maze, a cornfield maze fundraiser that usually attracts 30,000 visitors a year. It usually opens in mid-September, but organizers have pushed this year’s start to October 3. The maze will be open only on weekends, and night mazes have been eliminated.  Rural Hill has operated the maze since 1998.

3 CHARGED IN MUSIC FACTORY SHOOTINGS

Charlotte Mecklenburg police have charged three men in connection with shootings Friday night that hurt five people at the NC Music Factory near downtown Charlotte. A fight broke out in a band rehearsal space at the complex just before 10 o’clock Friday, spilling outside where the suspects continued shooting at one another.  

49ers BEAT PRESBYTERIAN

UNC Charlotte’s football team beat Presbyterian 34 to 10 in first home game of the season Saturday. More than 16,600 people watched the game at Jerry Richardson Stadium, as the 49ers record improved to 2 and 0.  Charlotte’s defense held Presbyterian to just 112 yards of offense in the game. 

KENSETH WINS, NASCAR CHASE FIELD SET

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup ended its regular season last night, as Matt Kenseth cruised to victory on the track at Richmond. It was Kenseth’s fourth win of the season and the eighth in the last 11 races for his team, Joe Gibbs Racing of Huntersville. Teammate Kyle Busch was second and Joey Logano was third, followed by Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The win put Kenseth in a tie with Busch and six-time champion Jimmie Johnson for the top seeds in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, which begins next Sunday in Chicago.  Jamie McMurray clinched a berth in the Chase by starting last night’s race. Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer claimed the last four spots in the Chase field.