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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chatham County adopts resolution opposing coal ash dump

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 10:31 AM

It may not matter much in the end, but Chatham County commissioners have unanimously adopted a resolution opposing Duke Energy's plans to dump 3 million tons of potentially toxic coal ash in abandoned brick mines in Moncure and Sanford. Board members called on state lawmakers to act to suspend the energy giant's proposal to dump in Chatham and Lee counties, which could be cleared as soon as early 2015. However, as reported in the Indy last month, this year's Coal Ash Management Act leaves local government authorities virtually no decision-making power in the plan. State law allows the N.C. Department...

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Fuquay-Varina man not guilty of attempted murder for shooting neighborhood bully

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 9:55 AM

The jury in the Wake County trial of Justin Bass, a 25-year-old Fuquay-Varina man who shot a neighborhood bully during a late-night July 4 gathering, issued a not guilty verdict for attempted murder.  The jury did, however, convict Bass for assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury—a lesser charge of the second offense he'd been accused of: assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Bass was sentenced to two-and-a-half to four years in prison, with credit for 155 days of time served. During the week-long trial, Bass testified that he shot the bully, Justin Fogg, a 27-year-old...

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Remembering Durham's homeless who died this year

Posted By on Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Tunisia Martin had big, brown eyes. Scott Rhoton loved art. Timothy Alred was a fisherman who had planned to just pass through town. He stayed nearly five years. Coriyanna Hayes was not yet three months old. These are four of the 18 people, homeless or who had recently moved into permanent supportive housing, who died in Durham within the last year. About 20 religious leaders, homeless advocates and friends gathered at the Durham Farmers Market pavilion Saturday evening to remember these people, most who died young, not for the circumstances that led them to the streets, but for their...

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Updated: EPA will not treat coal ash as a hazardous waste

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 2:59 PM

In this week's cover story for the Indy, we reported that a pending decision from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could be pivotal in determining who is legally responsible should Duke Energy's plans for coal ash dumping in privately-owned mines in Sanford and Moncure go awry. Based on today's ruling from the regulatory agency, it may not be the Fortune 500 utility. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, an appointee of President Obama, said Friday afternoon that the coal ash would be regulated as a non-hazardous solid waste like household garbage, a designation leaving state government as the primary regulator for the...

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Alamance sheriff accused of racial profiling honored by Gov. McCrory

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 1:46 PM

As the Burlington Times-News is reporting this week, no one in North Carolina has ever intentionally been a two-time recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina's highest civilian honor. At least not until this week, when Gov. Pat McCrory extended the prestigious award to Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, even as Johnson awaits a federal judge's ruling in a bitterly disputed racial profiling case. Federal prosecutors are contending that Johnson directed his deputies to target and arrest Latino residents in order to cause their deportation. Johnson has denied those claims. An Indy investigation in 2012...

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N.C. Health Department reviewing abortion regulations

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 12:52 PM

It’s not 1965 but women in North Carolina are fighting for access to abortion. The state Department of Health and Human Services held a public hearing Friday to receive comments on abortion regulations that it reviewed under a 2013 Sharia Law/motorcycle safety bill. The Department will decide whether to change the draft rules before adopting them, with expected interference from hard-right state lawmakers in the next legislative session. Obstetricians, physicians, nurses and other medical professionals said they are satisfied with the new regulations that don’t place undue burdens on a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy. A lobbyist, an attorney...

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fuquay defendant says he shot confronter as he reached for knife

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Revenge or self-defense? That's what Wake County Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt asked the jury during her closing argument in the trial of Justin Bass, 25, a Fuquay-Varina man charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. The shooting, which occurred during a late-night gathering at the Bay Tree apartment complex in Fuquay last July 4, left Jerome Fogg, 27, with five gunshot injuries, which he survived. Bass testified that he shot Fogg after Fogg reached for a knife at his hip from a distance of about 6 feet away. The...

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Little Raleigh Radio, one year on

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Updated: This story has been updated to reflect the changes in the low power FM application of the organization formerly known as Capital Team Sports, Inc. The organization is now known as Oak City Media, Inc. and was the first local applicant to be granted a construction permit by the FCC. The group hopes to launch as 101.9 WKRP in Northeast Raleigh in 2015.  Although it’s been a big year for Little Raleigh Radio—its live web stream launched February 17, airing live shows and new, prerecorded programming online every day since—founders Jacob Downey and Kelly Reid are still waiting to...

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Raleigh's Planning Department to be reorganized

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Raleigh’s city manager announced Wednesday that the city’s Department of Planning and Development will be divided into two separate departments “to better meet an increased demand for planning and development services.” Beginning July 1 next year, the Planning Department will be split into a City Planning Department, which will focus on long-range planning and growth for the city, including for neighborhoods, and a Development Services Department, which will focus on development issues specifically. The change came about with input from city employees and local developers. “We believe this change will allow our Planning and Development staff members to better serve...

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fuquay man claims he shot neighborhood bully in self-defense

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Yesterday in the Wake County courthouse, defense attorney Michael Howell asked his client, seated on a witness stand, a blunt question. "Mr. Bass, did you shoot Mr. Fogg?" "Yes sir, I did," said the witness. "Why?" said Howell. "I was fearful of my life, and I was threatened by Mr. Fogg."  The witness was Justin Bass, 25, who admitted to shooting Jerome Fogg, a 27-year-old former Mixed Martial Arts fighter, in a late-night incident last July 4 in Fuquay-Varina's Bay Tree apartments. Fogg, who was struck by three bullets, went into a two-week coma, but somehow survived. Bass is charged...

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From the archives: Raleigh's Cuban community

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 12:10 PM

The good—and it's-about-pinche-time—news broke this morning that after 53-plus years, the U.S. and Cuba are discussing normalizing their relations, including opening an embassy in Havana and lifting the embargo. Cuba has freed an American prisoner, a contractor in jail for five years; and in return, the U.S. is releasing three Cuban spies, and, according to NPR, "an unnamed U.S. intelligence asset jailed in Cuba for 20 years." (This is beginning to sound like a baseball trade.) The INDY wrote about Raleigh's Cuban community in 2009; at the time, more than 5,000 Cuban exiles lived in North Carolina. President Obama is...

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Monday, December 15, 2014

SCOTUS backs NC Supreme Court about traffic officer's mistake about the law

Posted By on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 7:12 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court today affirmed the validity of traffic stops made by officers who administer them based on a mistaken understanding of the law—provided the mistake was reasonable.  The case, Heien v. North Carolina, originated in Surry County, when an interdiction officer pulled over a car with a broken taillight, mistakenly believing that the law required two functioning taillights when in fact it did not. The officer, who searched the car, discovered cocaine, and the motorist was charged and convicted with drug trafficking. The N.C. Court of Appeals reversed the ruling, but the N.C. Supreme Court reversed it back....

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N.C. lawmaker to introduce bill prohibiting discriminatory profiling

Posted By on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Rep. Rodney Moore, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County, announced at a Monday press conference that he would introduce legislation aimed at curbing racial profiling during the upcoming legislative session. In the wake of the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Moore said North Carolina lawmakers need to be proactive about preventing a similar tragedy from happening here. He called racial profiling by law enforcement an “age-old problem” in African American communities and for people of color. “We do not want to see a Ferguson happen here,” Moore said. “If we don’t let our citizens know that their...

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Fuquay-Varina man fights attempted murder charge

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 1:46 PM

The presentation of evidence began this morning in the Wake County case against Justin Bass, 25, who is charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury. The charge stems from a late-night shooting in Fuquay-Varina's Bay Tree apartment complex this past July 4. The shooting left Jerome Fogg, who has experience with Mixed Martial Arts training, injured. Bass is expected to testify that he acted in self-defense. This morning's testimony included two state's witnesses. A neighbor testified to hearing late-night commotion in the parking lot. She looked through her door...

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

March Saturday to honor Lennon Lacy

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 3:44 PM

The North Carolina NAACP will host a march in Bladenboro Saturday, to honor the memory of Lennon Lacy— the teenager found dead from hanging late this summer— and to bring awareness to the case. In a conference call with reporters Thursday, NC NAACP president the Rev. William J. Barber said the NAACP and Lacy’s family sent a letter to several state and federal elected officials, asking them to add their voices to the call for a full federal investigation into Lacy’s death. Lennon Lacy’s mother, Claudia Lacy, said she does not believe her son committed suicide as local investigators quickly...

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From the archives: Stop Torture Now protests rendition flights out of Johnston County Airport

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 7:57 AM

Congress may be surprised that the CIA using rendition flights to essentially smuggle terrorism suspects to black sites where agents brutally and systematically tortured them, this revelation would not surprise the members of Stop Torture Now, an activist group based in Raleigh, Smithfield and Fayetteville. As Bob Geary has reported, since 2005, the Stop Torture Now, a 2007 winner of an INDY Citizen Award, has protested the CIA rendition flights allegedly flown out of Johnston County airport. Aero Contractors, a private air carrier, was implicated in operating those rendition flights, according to a 2005 article in The New York Times....

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Durham man charged with firing shotgun through his house window

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 1:08 PM

On Sunday Thomas Rowland of West Trinity Avenue in Durham was arrested for discharging a firearm in the city. The arrest was made after Rowland fired a shotgun blast trough the front window of his home.  In an interview, Rowland, 56, claimed the shooting was an accident. He was attempting to unload the gun, he said, when he inadvertently pulled the trigger. "Fortunately no one got hurt," he said, asserting he had no ill motives for firing the gun. "If I was going to hurt someone, I wouldn't have used a damn shotgun." "I just broke the window," he added....

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Believe in God? No? N.C. constitution says you can't hold public office

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 8:44 AM

It's that time of year when we hear about the alleged war on Christmas, the war on God—battles manufactured by the religious right to stir up the fundamentalist troops snoozing in the pews. Well, while religion is waning in public life, it's not a war, but more like a "meh." The "war," one could argue, is on nonbelievers, at least when it comes to holding public office. The New York Times published an interesting article about seven states that still have language in their constitutions saying people who don't believe in God can't hold public office. North Carolina—shocking!—is one of...

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Monday, December 8, 2014

30 individuals indicted by federal grand jury on drug and gun charges

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 4:11 PM

A grand jury in Greensboro has indicted 27 men and three women on federal drug and gun charges, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina announced today. 28 of the defendants are from Alamance County and two are from Guilford County. The 15 indictments allege that the defendants engaged in conspiracy to distribute cocaine base and marihuana; the distribution of cocaine hydrochloride, cocaine base and marihuana; the use of communications facilities to facilitate the conspiracy to distribute marihuana; the possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking activity and possession of firearms by convicted felons. Indicted and...

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Charter school study in Wake County may provide focus for urban renewal efforts

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM

A study of 662 families who had at least one child enrolled in a popular Wake County charter school finds that many families with children enrolled in charter schools are likely to move to be close to the school. In North Carolina, where charters are not subject to school district boundaries, this finding could benefit urban renewal efforts that are underway in cities and towns across the state. “We wanted to see if the presence of a charter school made a community more attractive to home buyers,” said Dr. Bart Danielsen, an N.C. State University professor and researcher who is...

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Wake County's new transit future starts tonight at Raleigh Convention Center

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 7:48 AM

Wake County, wrestled from the grip of gas-guzzling, fill-it-up-with-premium, to-hell-with-that-catalytic-converter Republican county commissioners, is launching a new vision for mass transit tonight. The public meeting starts at 6 p.m. the Raleigh Convention Center, in Ballroom C. If you can't make the meeting—perhaps it would take you 90 minutes and three buses to get there—you can watch the event live on cable channels 11 and 18. The event also will be streamed on raleighnc.gov and WakeTransit.com. You can also send questions to @waketransit on Twitter. Consultants Jarrett Walker and Kimley Horn will discuss how with public input, they will identify major travel corridors...

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Hofmann Forest sales agreement falls through

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 1:23 PM

The owners of Hofmann Forest announced Friday morning that the $130 million contract for the sale of the forest to an Illinois agri-businessman has been dropped. “The purchase agreement for Hofmann Forest has terminated with the buyers unable to finalize the financial contingencies of the contract,” a news release, sent on behalf of the Board of Trustees for the Endowment Fund of N.C. State University, stated. “As a result, the sale to Resource Management Service LLC and Hofmann Forest LLC will not proceed to closing.” The release says Hofmann Forest will continue to be owned by the Board of Trustees...

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

From the archives: Charles Koch could be teaching history to your kids

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 7:39 AM

Editor's note: In light of the discussions about North Carolina's AP U.S. History course, which Bob Geary covers in his Citizen column this week, we thought it would be a good time to revisit this story, which originally ran in the INDY on Feb. 27, 2013. Charles Koch: One of the most polarizing and pivotal men in politics, he's one half of the billionaire Koch brothers. The sixth-richest person in the world, he co-owns Koch Industries, a multinational conglomerate with key investments in manufacturing and fuels. In 2011, Time magazine ranked him among the most influential people in the world....

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Crushed Velvet suit

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Mary Stevenson Keef never stood a chance. She knew it. The opposing counsel knew it. Even the judge presiding over the hearing probably knew it. After about 10 months and several out-of-court settlements, Keef, originally one of several plaintiffs suing the owners of the Velvet Cloak Inn for unfair trade practices, among other allegations, was left to fend for herself against the attorneys of David M. Smoot and his wife, Jean, in a hearing on Tuesday. “If we had a trial, it would be an exercise in futility,” said Ronald H. Garber, one of the Smoots’ attorneys, during the calendar...

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Court upholds Durham woman's conviction for fatally stabbing dog

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 8:41 AM

Yesterday the North Carolina Court of Appeals published a unanimous opinion affirming a lower court's conviction of a Durham woman who stabbed her dog to death after it bit her finger. Nesta Gerberding, who was convicted for felonious animal cruelty and given probation, had claimed she was justified in the killing because the pit bull, Tank, was vicious, and she wanted to protect her family and the people an animals in the neighborhood. She also contended that during her trial last year, the judge offered improper jury instructions by using non-applicable hypothetical examples of crime justifications that had nothing to...

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