North Carolina News – March 23

North Carolina News – March 23


Wolves bite worker at center where lion had killed intern

BURLINGTON, N.C. (AP) — A woman has been bitten by two juvenile wolves at a North Carolina wildlife center where an intern was fatally mauled by a lion in 2018. The Raleigh News & Observer reports the latest incident occurred Saturday at the Animal Park at the Conservators Center. The center said in a statement that the worker was “performing routine activities” with the young wolves when she was bitten on her upper arms and right leg. Authorities say she suffered non-life-threatening injuries. In 2018, intern Alexandra Black was cleaning an animal enclosure when a lion escaped from a locked pen and fatally attacked her. Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed the animal.


Man pleads guilty to setting fire in store after protest

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to setting a fire inside a store in Raleigh following a demonstration over the death of George Floyd. A U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Tuesday that Richard Rubalcava faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential penalty is 20 years in prison. Federal authorities said the Raleigh man was arrested in June 2020 after a fire was set in a Dollar General Express that had been looted. George Floyd, a Black man, had died while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. People came together across the country to protest racism and police brutality. Some people turned to riots and looting in the Raleigh area.


Senators call NC elections director for settlement questions

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Republican lawmakers are still unhappy with a legal settlement that the State Board of Elections reached with a union-affiliated group over absentee ballots during last fall’s campaign. And they want to hear from the board’s director again. The Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee said it expects Karen Brinson Bell to come before the panel on Tuesday and take questions.  A House elections committee already questioned Bell last month about the settlement. The Democratic-controlled board accepted a legal agreement in September that was challenged in court by Republicans. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately declined to block the new, extended ballot deadline.


Bill shortens NC teen drivers’ wait for next-level permit

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The time new teenage drivers must wait to receive a provisional license would be trimmed in legislation approved by the state Senate. The measure backed Monday also would allow the Division of Motor Vehicles to hire commercial driver training schools to conduct road tests necessary to obtain licenses. Current law requires young people with learner’s permits to hold them at least 12 months before seeking a license that lets them drive unsupervised. The wait would be reduced to nine months. The drivers would still have to be 16 and log in time behind the wheel to advance. The bill now goes to the House.


NC Senate Republicans to pitch more state tax reductions

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A key North Carolina state senator says Republicans in the chamber will pitch additional individual income tax reductions this spring. Sen. Paul Newton of Cabarrus County told The Associated Press on Monday that GOP leaders will present legislation that would decrease the state’s income tax rate of 5.25% to a hair under 5%. The measure also would increase the standard deductions for income tax filers. Republicans have been lowering the tax rate and increasing the deduction for several years. They credit those steps with boosting the state’s fiscal health. Newton’s bill is also expected to include efforts to reduce corporate franchise taxes.


Man charged with wielding chainsaw at North Carolina motels

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A white man arrested after police say he menaced Black guests with a chainsaw at a North Carolina hotel over the weekend was arrested in Cailfornia last year on charges of carrying a loaded gun on the beach. Twenty-seven-year-old Jacob Vanderburg Sunday morning by Raleigh police. WRAL-TV reports Vanderburg is accused of waving a chainsaw at three people at three different motels in Raleigh. Chainsaw marks were left on a guest room. In July 2020, WRAL reports Vanderburg was arrested in Santa Monica, California, for carrying a gun on the beach. Witnesses told police Vanderburg said he was upset with liberals and Black Lives Matter protests.


US weather model upgraded to better forecast extreme events

The National Weather Service upgraded its forecast model, with an eye on predicting extreme weather events better and faster. Meteorologists say Monday’s improvement should help forecast hurricanes, blizzards and downpours. The new version in tests beat the older version in this month’s Colorado snowstorm, Hurricanes Dorian and Michael, and the massive downpours in the Southeast a year ago. The weather service chief also says the model will improve day-to-day forecasts but acknowledges it still doesn’t beat the European weather model.


Dozens of students displaced in off-campus apartment fire

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Nearly 100 people have been displaced after an apartment fire damaged a dozen units in a three-story apartment complex in Raleigh catering to off-campus students. News outlets reported that the fire started Monday around 9:30 a.m. at the Village Green apartment complex. Flames were shooting through the roof and smoke was visible from miles away. The fire was under control a little after 10 a.m. Many of the residents attend N.C. State. The university offered assistance to affected students. No serious injuries were reported. More than 70 firefighters came out to control the blaze. The cause remains under investigation.

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