BERGER-CHIEF OF STAFF
Fork named next chief of staff for N.C. Senate leader Berger
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger’s next chief of staff will be his top legal adviser since 2018. The Republican announced on Friday that Brian Fork will succeed Andrew Tripp, who is leaving to become general counsel for the University of North Carolina System. The succession is similar to what’s happened over in the House, where Speaker Tim Moore announced last month his chief of staff’s departure for a post within the university system.
Golden LEAF awards $2.4 million in funding to four counties
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) — The board of directors of Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded more than $2.4 million in funding to support a variety of efforts in four North Carolina counties. A news release from the foundation says the board approved four projects on Thursday for workforce training, agriculture, and economic development. The counties involved are Mitchell, Rutherford, Wake, and Halifax. The money is coming through the Open Grants Program. Awards do not exceed $200,000. The board also approved two initiatives totaling $1.4 million to support agriculture and capacity building at N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. Board members also approved $331,000 for two projects to support recovery from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.
Police: 27 pounds of fentanyl found in North Carolina home
UNIONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina say they’ve completed one of the largest narcotic seizures in the county, confiscating 27 pounds of the opioid painkiller fentanyl. The Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Monroe Police Department confiscated the fentanyl, along with 34 pounds of pressed pills, believed to be Roxicodone. A tip received by Monroe police started the investigation and later led to the search of a home in Unionville Wednesday evening. After the search, 33-year-old Aron Gerardo Prado Martinez and 25-year-old Luis Noe Prado Martinez were both arrested and charged with two counts of trafficking in opium/heroin. It’s unclear whether they have an attorney.
ELECTION 2020-CHIEF JUSTICE
Hand recount in NC chief justice race set to begin next week
North Carolina’s election board says hand recounts of a small portion of ballots cast statewide in the extremely close race for North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice will begin next week. Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley asked for the partial hand-to-eye recount immediately after the machine recount of millions of ballots cast in her race with Republican Paul Newby was finally completed Wednesday. Newby remains 400 votes ahead of Beasley. The partial hand recount could be expanded statewide if there are great enough differences in the results in the random precincts. A final result in the race could still be weeks away.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
As virus spread worsens, NC is reluctant to add restrictions
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in North Carolina have reached their worst levels since the pandemic began. But the state’s top health official said Thursday more restrictions may not be needed if people follow the existing rules. Dr. Mandy Cohen, health department secretary, says the state is open to further restrictions. But she also repeated her calls for more mask wearing, hand washing and physical distancing. Meanwhile, Gov. Roy Cooper has been reluctant to impose additional restrictions on businesses. Pfizer’s vaccine could arrive in North Carolina as early as Dec. 15. Health care workers will be first to receive the initial wave of 85,000 doses once the vaccine is approved.
BC-NC-VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHRISTMAS PARADE
Town plans Christmas parade despite coronavirus concerns
YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A town in North Carolina is planning to hold a Christmas parade despite concerns from county health officials that the event could facilitate the spread of the coronavirus. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Wednesday that Youngsville plans a mile-long parade with up to 300 people watching. The town has faced repeated warnings from the Franklin County Health Department that COVID cases are rising. The county also said that the parade would violate Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order limiting crowds. Town Manager Phil Cordeiro told county officials that Youngsville’s parade falls under the same First Amendment exemption. He also said the parade is a permitted religious service because it starts in the parking lot of a church.
Rep. Robert Reives to lead N.C. House Democrats in 2021
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Democrats who won North Carolina House seats last month have chosen Chatham County Rep. Robert Reives to be their leader for the next two years. The incoming House Democratic Caucus met on Thursday and elected Reives unanimously. Rep. Darren Jackson of Wake County had decided not to seek reelection as minority leader, citing in part the party’s disappointing Nov. 3 election. Republicans kept control of the chamber and picked up four additional seats. Reives is an attorney who joined the House in early 2014. Reives will appoint a deputy minority leader. The caucus will elect minority whips for the two-year session.
New Mexico governor to lead Democratic governors group
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been selected as the new chair of the Democratic Governors Association for 2021. The first-term governor previously served as the group’s vice chair and was among those seen as possible candidates for the U.S. Cabinet post of health and human services secretary in the Biden administration. The vote by the nation’s Democratic governors came Thursday during the group’s annual meeting. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will serve as vice chair. Outgoing chair New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was picked to serve as the group’s finance chair.
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