VIRUS OUTBREAK-REOPENING SCHOOLS
N.C. lawmakers propose bill mandating in-person K-12 classes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Republican state lawmakers are promoting a bill that would require school districts to offer at least partial in-person instruction to K-12 students. Educators worry about their health and want to be bumped up as a priority in the state’s vaccine distribution plan. The North Carolina Association of Educators also wants the state to provide more funding to ensure teachers and students can come back to classrooms safely. President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans are negotiating a plan to give schools more money. Gov. Roy Cooper plans to come forward with updated school reopening proposals soon.
North Carolina saw 91 workplace fatalities in 2020
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina has experienced the deadliest year for workplace fatalities in at least 10 years. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that there were 91 workplace fatalities in 2020. That number includes 26 related to COVID-19. The figures were released Friday by the state Labor Department. In 2019, there were 55 workplace fatalities. That was the previous highest total since 2010. The construction industry is still the most hazardous industry. It had 26 work-related deaths in 2020. There were 22 deaths in the services industry. The numbers from the state do not include workplace deaths handled by the U.S. Labor Department. Those deaths include traffic accidents and fatalities on farms with 10 or fewer employees.
North Carolina tourist dies during Florida snorkeling trip
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Officials say a tourist from North Carolina died following a snorkeling trip off the Florida Keys. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says 42-year-old Erica Michelle Brown was snorkeling with family and friends Sunday afternoon when she began signaling for help. Someone on the boat began CPR. She was transferred to a U.S. Coast Guard boat. Paramedics waiting on shore took her to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. Sheriff’s officials didn’t list Brown’s hometown in North Carolina. Officials say autopsy results are pending.
CONFEDERATE LICENSE PLATES
North Carolina stops issuing Confederate license plates
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles says it will no longer issue specialty license plates featuring the Confederate battle flag. The StarNews of Wilmington reports the agency says removal of the license plate, issued to members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization, took effect Jan. 1. A statement from NCDMV says it will continue to recognize the North Carolina Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans as a civic organization entitled to a specialty plate, but the recognition doesn’t entitle it to dictate the contents of the government speech on that plate.
STATE PARKS-RECORD VISITATION
North Carolina parks saw record-breaking visitation in 2020
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State Parks had record-breaking visitation last year. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Saturday that the high numbers underscore the public’s craving for outdoor space and exercise during the coronavirus pandemic. State parks spokeswoman Katie Hall said that North Carolina’s 41 state parks and recreation areas had 19.8 million visitors in 2020. That is 400,000 more visitors than any other year on record. It’s also 1.2 million more visitors than in 2019. The previous record for visitation was 19.4 million visitors in 2017. But the increased crowds have led to increased challenges. They include overflowing parking lots, litter and damage to natural resources from heavier use of trails and popular sites.
Belmont University announces new president
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Belmont University’s Board of Trustees has announced that L. Gregory Jones will become the new president of the university starting June 1. According to a Monday news release, Jones will succeed former Belmont President Bob Fisher after Fisher’s retirement in May. Jones is currently the dean of the Duke Divinity School, a position he’s held from 1997 through 2010 and again from 2018 to present. Between 2010 and 2018, he served as vice president and vice provost for global strategy at Duke University, as well as served at Baylor University.
BC-NC-HOUSE FIRE-TWO KILLED
Woman, 9-year-old boy killed in North Carolina house fire
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Officials say a boy whose 10th birthday was coming this week and a 62-year-old woman have died in a house fire in North Carolina. News outlets report the Charlotte Fire Department says its investigators determined that a fire on the city’s east side on Monday was an accident which involved what they called a “stone based cooking device” on the screen-enclosed back porch. The department identified the victims as 9-year-old Boe Reh, whose birthday is Friday, and Saw Mo. Emergency medical personnel says six other people were evaluated at the scene for injuries, and CPR was performed on two of them.
One charged, one sought after N Carolina duck hunters robbed
BURGAW, N.C. (AP) — Authorities have arrested one suspect and are looking for a second after a group of duck hunters was robbed last week. The Pender County Sheriff’s Office says in a news release that the four hunters were returning to their vehicles on Thursday when they encountered the two suspects. According to the sheriff’s office, the suspects shot one of the victims then took the group’s money and weapons. The injured victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The sheriff’s office says James Farland Jr. faces multiple charges and is being held on a $300,000 bond. The sheriff’s office says a search continues for Tyrese Daquon Lee.
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