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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Local craft breweries and artisans to showcase in Raleigh marketplace

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 2:08 PM

This Friday at downtown Raleigh’s Cobblestone Hall, nine local craft breweries and more than forty local artisans will be participating in the first “Hops and Shop” market as part of First Friday. “We’re dubbing it the craftiest market in North Carolina,” says Cristy Bullock, the event’s founder. For ten dollars, attendees will get a pint glass and a punch card for ten beer samples from the participating breweries, while shopping the products local artisans will have for sale. All the proceeds from ticket sales, and 10 percent of all additional beer sales, will go to the Pretty in Pink Foundation,...

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DOJ to would-be Meadowmont and Durham frackers: Cease and desist

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 2:25 PM

It would appear the Pennsylvania company behind a number of bizarre mineral rights leasing offers in Durham and Chapel Hill has gotten on N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper's bad side. In a sharply worded letter mailed Monday, Cooper's office ordered Crimson Holdings Corporation—and its affiliated real estate firm Campbell Development LLC—to stop offering oil and gas leases in North Carolina. DOJ also demanded the prospective drillers, who sought to buy the mineral rights for nature preserves in Durham and the park at Meadowmont in Chapel Hill, reject and return any accepted lease offers from landowners. "Until you can demonstrate that...

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Voting laws restrict young North Carolinians

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 11:29 AM

After a slew of voting restrictions passed the General Assembly last summer, the upcoming midterm elections will be the state’s first taste of voting under the new policies. Among the changes to voting laws are a shortened early voting period, a shortened registration period, an end to same-day registration, an end to provisional or “out of precinct” voting and county election boards may not open polling places for longer if problems arise. That is, unless the Middle District court in North Carolina issues an injunction against the new rules until the larger court case determining their constitutionality is decided in...

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Monday, July 28, 2014

N.C. voters want stronger actions from lawmakers on coal ash

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 4:40 PM

A poll taken last week found that most North Carolina voters want lawmakers to do more to get Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash.  Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning Raleigh surveying group, found in a poll of 519 voters that more than 75 percent of North Carolinians don’t think the Legislature has made Duke Energy do enough to clean up coal ash pollution at the state’s 14 coal ash power plants. The view was consistent across party lines and the poll found that weak leadership on environmental issues was tied to low favorability numbers for Governor Pat McCrory and...

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Riegelwood couple fails in lawsuit against Guinness Book of World Records

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 4:39 PM

A North Carolina flower-growing couple has failed in its efforts to sue the Guinness Book of World Records over its practice of judging the flower competition.  In a complaint filed two years ago, plaintiffs Everett Wallace and Melody Wagner, from Riegelwood, N.C., called Guinness a corrupt organization. They also asked the Jim Pattison Group, the parent company of Guinness World Records Limited, to turn over its database records. They argued that they attempted to set a world record by growing an 8'8" Zinnia flower, but that Guinness unfairly denied their application. Similarly, they say their 16-foot Marigold was not properly considered...

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DENR investigating landman behind Triangle fracking bids

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:59 PM

Reps for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) say they are investigating the Pennsylvania agent behind a handful of likely doomed offers to buy mineral rights in the Triangle. As the Indy reported Wednesday, state law requires representatives for gas and oil companies, otherwise known as "landmen," to register with DENR or risk a civil penalty. Frank Sides, the agent named on the mineral rights offers of Crimson Holdings Incorporated, does not appear to be registered in the state, based on DENR's online registry. DENR spokesman Jamie Kritzer said his agency was only recently informed of Sides'...

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"Disastrous" sales tax bill passes N.C. Senate

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 12:41 PM

This morning the North Carolina Senate voted 31-17 to pass H1224. Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, a Republican from Concord, introduced an amendment to the bill to raise the local sales tax cap to 2.75 percent rather than 2.5 percent. His amendment was defeated. John Burns, a Raleigh attorney and Democratic candidate for a seat on the Wake County Board of Commissioners this November, spoke to the INDY about how the bill will affect Wake County’s future. You say H1224 will be disastrous for Wake County, specifically. Why? The language in the bill as amended would allow most counties in the state to...

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N.C. State Trustee arrested in D.C. on gun charge

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Ronald Prestage, a veterinarian and president of Clinton-based Prestage Farms, was arrested in Washington D.C. yesterday for bringing a loaded 9 mm handgun into the U.S. Capitol Building. Prestage is an alumnus of N.C. State University and was elected to its Board of Trustees in July, 2013. He lives in Camden, South Carolina. According to the South Carolina newspaper The State, Prestage, was believed to be on his way to a Congressional meeting when a security officer found the weapon in his bag during a routine search. Prestage was charged with carrying a weapon outside a home or office, a felony in Washington....

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Driller apparently wants to frack Meadowmont in Chapel Hill

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:58 PM

It appears the relatively unknown Crimson Holdings Corporation wants to frack more than a handful of nature preserves in Durham, as reported in today's Indy. Documents obtained by the Indy Wednesday show the company, which appears to be a small operation in Pittsburgh, made a similar request for mineral rights to the Chapel Hill Town Council last week. Their target? Roughly 51 acres of town-owned park land abutting Meadowmont, an upscale development on the border between Durham and Orange counties. Chapel Hill Town Councilman Ed Harrison said the Meadowmont land is the largest town-owned tract in Durham County. The response...

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N.C. Health Department revises Dan River advisories

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 1:54 PM

It’s now safe to swim in the Dan River, but please, don’t eat the fish just yet. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has revised and updated public health advisories issued back in February, following cleanup of coal ash deposit from the massive Duke Energy spill into the river near Eden, N.C. According to a press release, Duke Energy finished cleaning up the river June 30. DHHS recommends lifting the recreational water advisory, noting that the most recent evaluation of surface water and sediment data downstream from the coal ash spill site showed that “no incidental ingestion...

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Durham Police release preliminary officer-involved shooting report

Posted By on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 3:47 PM

The Durham Police Department this afternoon released a letter sent from Chief Jose Lopez to City Manager Thomas Bonfield offering details of an officer-involved shooting last week that put one man to the hospital in critical condition. The shooting occurred during early morning hours last Wednesday at the Burton Apartments on Mathison Street just south of downtown. The State Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the case. The DPD letter states that  a Spanish-speaking woman called 911 at 2:17 a.m. to report that she, a friend and a 7-month-old child had been shot at by a man from his apartment...

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N.C., national groups focus on fighting hunger

Posted By on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 3:25 PM

This week, state and national organizations are bringing awareness to—and fighting to end—childhood hunger. In Washington, chefs including Raleigh’s Ashely Christensen and other advocates are meeting with elected officials about the No Kid Hungry campaign, an initiative from non-profit organization Share Our Strength that works to end child hunger by connecting kids to nutrition programs such as school breakfasts and summer meals. And in Raleigh the Inter-faith Food Shuttle, in collaboration with WRAL and Radio One, is focusing on fighting hunger all over North Carolina. WRAL will air local and national documentaries about the issue and will hold a fundraiser to benefit the Inter-faith Food...

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Fracking company makes offers in Durham

Posted By on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Almost two months after fracking was legalized in North Carolina, a Pennsylvania company is offering to buy mineral rights from landowners in Durham. And since the company’s agent has not registered with state officials, he could be breaking the law. Leaders of the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, a conservationist nonprofit in Durham, say they recently have received offers from Crimson Holdings Corporation, a company based in Pittsburgh, seeking to buy mineral rights on multiple tracts. The association owns 340 acres and four public nature preserves in Durham. Crimson Holdings has also approached at least one other landowner near Falls Lake...

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Durham immigrants charged with arranging fraudulent marriages

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 7:08 PM

Federal prosecutors have charged two immigrants living in Durham with arranging fake marriages in order to stay in the country. In a complaint filed last Friday, Regina Zsigmond and Krisztian Komondi are charged with visa fraud and conspiracy to commit visa fraud. The complaint was based on an affidavit by Tony Bell, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigation. Bell stated that Zsigmond and Komondi were a couple who entered the U.S. in 2003 on tourist visas, which they overstayed. In 2010 they divorced, and within six  months they entered into fraudulent...

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

NC strong in supporting ex-offender reentry, weak in prison population-reduction measures

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 7:03 PM

North Carolina did not enact major legislation last year to reduce prison populations and costs, nor did it expand community-based recidivism-reduction and diversion programs, according to a new report analyzing a litany of new laws across the country. The state did, however, rank high in enacting new laws supporting the reentry of offenders into the community.  The report, "Recalibrating Justice: A Review of 2013 State Sentencing and Corrections Trends," was published this week by the Vera Institute of Justice's Center on Sentencing and Corrections.  The report analyzes 85 bills enacted by 35 states last year addressing sentencing and corrections. The...

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N.C. Bill would pit transit against education

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 2:19 PM

In the waning days of the General Assembly’s protracted short session, the state Senate is getting crafty about what counties would be allowed use their tax dollars for.   On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee passed a revised version of House Bill 1224. It gives all North Carolina counties the right to hold a referendum on whether to raise their sales taxes to a rate of no more than 2.5 percent, with revenues going to either public transportation or education, but not to both. And education tax money would be appropriated by a County's Board of Commissioners, not its Board of...

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Tillis defunds the Democrats

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 11:14 AM

House Democratic Leader Larry Hall (D-Durham) has been much in the news this week. After a year and a half of trying to be dignified, trying to air their grievances through the proper channels, trying not to appear like 'sore losers', House Dems are finally coming out and saying they're sick of being suppressed by the Republican majority. Hall has come out accusing Speaker of the House Thom Tillis of defunding the House Democratic Caucus as a retaliation for Democrat's questioning of the new legislative building rules that were clearly aimed at stifling Moral Monday. He says that he...

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Court of Appeals: warrantless DWI blood draws permissible

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 7:55 AM

The North Carolina Court of Appeals yesterday released an opinion affirming the legality of warrantless DWI blood draws in emergency situations. Stephen Granger of Wilmington had been convicted of a DWI charge after a New Hanover County superior court judge denied his motion to suppress the results taken from a warrantless blood draw against his consent. Granger had argued that his fourth amendment search-and-seizure rights were violated because, he alleged, the charging officer had time to get a warrant on the night in question, and chose not to. One early morning in May 2012, Granger rear-ended a truck. When Wilmington...

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New "unsolved homicide" section on Durham Police website

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 6:03 PM

The Durham Police Department has added a new "Unsolved Homicides" section on its website. The section features descriptions of unsolved homicides, and more cases will be added every week, according to DPD. “We know that there are people who have information about these unsolved homicides and we hope that they will come forward. These victims have not been forgotten and we want to continue to pursue justice for them and their families,” said Homicide Investigator Delois West in a DPD press release. To report information about an unsolved homicide, call 919-560-4118 or email unsolvedhomicides@durhamnc.gov....

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North Carolina Pastors speak out against marriage equality

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 12:32 PM

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals seems poised to topple Virginia’s gay marriage ban, upholding a decision a federal judge in the state made earlier this year. This has implications for North Carolina’s own gay marriage ban, Amendment One, which was voted into our state’s Constitution in May, 2012. The North Carolina Pastors Network, a state chapter of the socially conservative American Pastors Network, is not happy to see their “hard-fought traditional marriage victory” threatened. At a press conference outside the State Capitol building this morning, pastors from the group sent out a plea to Governor Pat McCrory, asking him to defend Amendment...

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Monday, July 14, 2014

89-year-old Wake Forest resident fatally shoots intruder

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 6:05 PM

The Wake County Sheriff's Office just announced that an 89-year-old Wake Forest resident shot and killed a man who was allegedly trying to break into his home on Jordan Lane this past Saturday.  When responding deputies arrived in response to a call made at 6:20 that evening, Calvin Anderson Ray, the homeowner stated he had shot Jeffrey Mitchell, 47, who was lying deceased on Ray's front porch. The Wake County District Attorney's Office is investigating the case. No charges have been filed. ...

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Senate cancels meeting as it butts heads with House, McCrory

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Ten days past the intended target date for a combined budget, North Carolina legislators cancelled a day of deliberation as Gov. Pat McCrory and the House continue to lock horns with the Senate. State senators said they would not meet with their House counterparts July 11, even as looming areas of disagreement remain in the state budget. Another meeting is scheduled for July 14, giving both sides time to cool down. At a contentious meeting July 10, McCrory threatened to veto any budget that contained the Senate’s plan to raise teacher salaries by 11 percent. The House has its own...

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Raleigh shoppers to pay for plastic bags?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Last night a committee voted to send a memo to City Council members encouraging them to examine the possibility of a plastic bag “ban.” “Plastic bags are a nuisance in every neighborhood in Raleigh,” Environmental Advisory Board member Norman Camp said during the meeting. “Particularly in walkable neighborhoods. I pick them up every day and clean them out of the Walnut Creek wetlands.” The move comes after City Council member Bonner Gaylord floated a proposal that stores charge a 5 to 10-cents fee per plastic bag used, in an email to city staff last month. The intention is to cut...

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bill would eliminate worker's comp for undocumented immigrants

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 3:37 PM

As the Industrial Commission moves further to the right, a new bill that would prevent undocumented immigrants from worker’s compensation appears to be helped along by the commission itself. HB 369 says any worker not lawfully employable in the United States will not get compensation for occupational injury or disease if the employer believed they were allowed to be in the country legally when hiring. Work in North Carolina primarily taken by undocumented workers — construction, landscaping, meat processing — consists of some of the most dangerous jobs one can have. Even cleaning services, another job undocumented workers take in...

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"Too Far Tillis" Rally in Raleigh

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 3:26 PM

It’s been a year since the Legislature sneaked abortion restrictions into a motorcycle safety bill in a late-night session on the eve of a holiday weekend. Tonight, advocates for women’s reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood’s political arm will hold a rally in Raleigh’s Bicentennial Mall, to protest House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis who the groups says “led the charge to pass the bill.” A survey from the left-leaning polling group Public Policy Polling found that 80 percent of North Carolina voters thought it was inappropriate to combine abortion legislation with bills about motorcycle safety and Sharia law. 47 percent...

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