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North Carolina News – February 3

North Carolina News – February 3

DELIVERY DRIVERS-DRUG CHARGES

6 indicted in theft ring involving package delivery drivers

EDEN, N.C. (AP) — Police say six people have been arrested in North Carolina for their roles in a theft ring in which package delivery drivers traded packages for drugs. WGHP-TV reported that Eden police launched an investigation after they received a tip about a delivery driver trading packages. That same tip led them to five locations throughout the city. Police said they identified two FedEx employees and found multiple packages at five different addresses. In all, investigators said they recovered more than $10,000 worth of stolen merchandise. The six are facing a variety of charges.

DEPUTIES INDICTED-STUN GUN

Indictment: Deputies encouraged girl to use stun gun on self

MORGANTON, N.C. (AP) — Two former North Carolina sheriff’s deputies have been indicted after authorities accused them of encouraging a teenage girl to use a stun gun on herself last year. The News Herald of Morganton reports Joshua Marshall of Morganton and Luis Alberto Sanchez of Vilas were indicted last month by an Avery County grand jury on misdemeanor charges of contributing to the abuse of a juvenile and willfully failing to discharge their duties. According to the indictments, Marshall and Sanchez encouraged a 17-year-old girl to use a stun gun belonging to the sheriff’s office on herself. The Avery County Sheriff’s Office asked the SBI investigate the case in July. 

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-FOREIGN-NURSES

Strained US hospitals seek foreign nurses amid visa windfall

Many American hospitals are looking abroad for health care workers, saying they’re facing a dire shortage of nurses amid the slogging pandemic. It could be just in time as there’s an unusually high number of green cards available this year for foreign professionals seeking to move to the United States. The reason is U.S. consulates were closed during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving tens of thousands of unused visa slots for eligible workers. The Biden administration has taken some steps to try to help foreign health care workers get here more quickly. But some hospitals say they’re still waiting on consular interviews to bring in nurses.

FERTILIZER PLANT FIRE

Explosion fears remain as N. Carolina fertilizer plant burns

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — An uncontrolled fire at a fertilizer plant has continued to burn in North Carolina. Fire officials in the city of Winston-Salem said the potential for an explosion had not gone down on Wednesday afternoon. They also said they couldn’t predict when the blaze might go out. And they didn’t know how many people have actually complied with calls to evacuate an area that includes 2,500 homes. The fire is at the Winston Weaver Company fertilizer plant on the north side of the city. The blaze began Monday night and shot bright orange flames into the sky. An estimated 500 tons of combustible ammonium nitrate were housed at the plant.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VACCINE-STUDENTS

NC panel rejects vaccine mandate for high school seniors

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina state health panel has declined to require high school seniors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Wednesday’s decision aligns with the wishes of Gov. Roy Cooper and other state health leaders who’ve said such a mandate was premature. Some University of North Carolina system professors had asked the commission to add the vaccine to state immunization requirements for those who are 17 years old or entering 12th grade. The commission is composed of people elected by the North Carolina Medical Society and appointed by the governor. Some parents opposed to a mandate gathered outside the building where the meeting was held.

DEBT STUDY

Debt study says NC government still in good fiscal position

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s annual debt affordability study says state government largely continues to be in a fiscally healthy position when it comes to borrowing. The study’s authors say the state could approve $4.3 billion in bonds this year — or $1.4 billion annually for the next five years — and remain within self-imposed debt-to-revenue limits. That cap is designed to help the state retain top scores from credit-rating agencies. This debt is repaid with state operating fund revenues. But the report says there’s no additional debt capacity right now for transportation projects. This debt is repaid with revenues from things like gasoline and car-sales taxes.

AP-UKRAINE-TENSIONS

Biden orders forces to Europe amid stalled Ukraine talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is ordering 2,000 U.S. troops to Poland and Germany amid the stalled talks with Russia over the Kremlin’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders. The U.S. is also moving roughly 1,000 troops to Romania from an infantry squadron based in Germany. U.S. officials from Biden on down say no American forces will be sent to Ukraine itself to fight, even with the threat of a Russian invasion. Still, Russia reacted angrily to the latest troop announcement, calling it “destructive.” The United States says the new military movements are meant to reassure allies — and remind Russia — of America’s commitment to NATO’s eastern flank in the region.

BLACK CEMETERY-MARKERS VANDALIZED

16 markers disturbed in historic Black N. Carolina cemetery

SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) — Officials say more than a dozen gravestones were either broken or toppled in a historic Black cemetery in North Carolina where the oldest headstone is said to date back more than 170 years. The Salisbury Post reports it’s  not clear when or why the Dixonville Cemetery was vandalized, but Dixonville-Lincoln Memorial Task Force Chair Emily Perry said it was heartbreaking to see vandalism affecting a project she has worked on for 11 years. The vandalism was discovered as Perry and communications staff with the city of Salisbury drove to the cemetery on Wednesday to film videos for Black History Month.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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