Aid will help seniors, those with disabilities to heat homes
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Officials in North Carolina say that some households in the state will be eligible to receive federal money to cover one monthly winter heating bill. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Monday that the money would come from the federal Low-Income Energy Assistance program. North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services said the money is meant to help thousands of eligible seniors and people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic. The payment amounts will be based on the heating source. For instance, $300 will available for coal or wood. People who use natural gas or oil would get $400. For electric, the amount is $500.
AP-VA-CHESAPEAKE BAY PLUNGE-LAWSUIT
Widow’s lawsuit over fatal Chesapeake Bay plunge to be heard
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A trial involving a widow’s lawsuit filed over the death of her husband who was killed when his tractor-trailer plunged over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel begins in a Virginia court. The Virginian-Pilot reported in January that the lawsuit filed by Billie Jo Chen against the CBBT says the bridge-tunnel’s own wind and gauge policy should have prohibited Joseph Chen from crossing the bridge in 2017. Billie Jo Chen is suing for $6 million. CBBT is claiming sovereign immunity, which typically protects governmental entities from negligence lawsuits. A CBBT police investigation concluded Joseph Chen was responsible for the accident. The trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Criminal record, sentence changes among new N. Carolina laws
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — New laws are taking effect in North Carolina to help more people convicted of lower-level crimes and nonviolent drug trafficking get their records cleared or punishments eased. The “Second Chance Act” and “First Step Act” are among nearly a dozen state laws approved since 2019 by the General Assembly and taking effect fully or partially on Tuesday. The First Step Act allows a judge to deviate from mandated prison sentences and hefty fines for drug-trafficking convictions if several conditions are met. The Second Chance Act expands upon other criminal expunction options approved in recent years. Other new laws address delivery robots and occupational licensing.
Deputies: Woman shot man, robbed store in N.C. crime spree
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say a woman who stole a car and a gun from a home in North Carolina was arrested after she robbed a convenience store and shot a homeowner. The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office said the woman entered the first home Monday while she was fleeing from deputies responding to a report of a suspicious female at a gas station in Greensboro. Authorities say she drove to another gas station with the car she stole from that home and committed armed robbery for cigarettes. Deputies say she then entered a second home and stole another set of car keys. That’s when the homeowner started to chase her away, and officials say she shot him. She was then arrested.
Man gets prison time for false bomb threats made to schools
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A hacker who made dozens of phony bombing and shooting threats to schools in the United States and the United Kingdom has been sentenced to nearly eight years in federal prison. Twenty-two-year-old Timothy Vaughn of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was sentenced Monday in California. Prosecutors say Vaughn was part of a worldwide hacker collective that sent phone calls and email reports of violent school attacks to 86 school districts. Some warned of imminent bombings and one said land mines had been placed on school property. Prosecutors say Vaughn and others also falsely reported a hijacking on a London-to-San Francisco airline flight.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
N. Carolina reports record number of virus hospitalizations
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina has reported its highest number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus for a fourth consecutive day. The state health department said on Monday that more than 1,950 people were hospitalized with the virus statewide. The number of patients in intensive care units statewide also reached a new daily record of more than 450. Both case and positivity rates have been on the rise over the past week. The recent COVID-19 surge has led state prison officials to shutter three facilities temporarily. That decision was made so officers and staff can handle security and medical needs elsewhere.
1st female Senate majority leader elected in N. Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Senate will have its first female majority leader. Senate Republicans meeting on Monday elected Sen. Kathy Harrington to the post for the session that begins in January. The Gaston County legislator is the first woman in that position since the chamber created it over 40 years ago. The caucus also agreed unanimously to nominate Sen. Phil Berger of Rockingham County as its choice for Senate president pro tempore, which is the chamber’s most powerful position. Berger has held the post since 2011. Harrington will enter her sixth Senate term and recently has been one of the chamber’s top budget writers.
BC-US-STATE PARK-FATAL FALL
Man dies after 50-foot fall in North Carolina state park
DANBURY, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man has died after falling nearly 50 feet in a popular section of Hanging Rock State Park. News outlets report the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation says 39-year-old William Michael Smith of Lawsonville was in a well-traveled area of Hanging Rock on Sunday. However, he was in an area not designated for climbing, and he was not dressed for climbing. Officials say Smith was found dead when rescue personnel reached the scene. The division says there was a fatal fall in the same area in 2017.
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