North Carolina News – February 4

North Carolina News – February 4


Fertilizer explosion risk ‘greatly diminished,’ chief says

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A fire chief says the explosion threat from a fire at a North Carolina fertilizer plant has “greatly diminished” now that much of a combustible chemical has burned off and firefighters have returned to the site to spray down what’s left. The Winston-Salem Fire Department tweeted that the voluntary evacuation for a 1-mile radius around the plant would be reduced to 660 feet Thursday evening. Winston-Salem Fire Chief Trey Mayo said that with the aid of experts on the fertilizer ingredient ammonium nitrate, officials determined it was safe for firefighters to get close enough to set up more unmanned sprayers early Thursday at the site.


Cooper urges speed as NC wind energy panel holds 1st meeting

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — A panel designed to advance wind power projects in North Carolina and the infrastructure to produce sector jobs has gotten some encouragement from Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper spoke at Thursday’s first meeting of the Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies in Wilmington. He urged members to work swiftly to help the state reap industry benefits. A renewable energy company has already proposed a project off the northeastern North Carolina coast. The federal government also has started the process for leasing an area east of Wilmington. Cooper had created the panel through an executive order last June.


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.


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. 


Ex-lecturer held without bail, charged with threats to UCLA

DENVER (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a former lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, who is charged with making threats against the school to be held without bail in Denver. Matthew Harris was taken into custody Tuesday in Colorado. He had lectured in the university’s philosophy department until being put on “investigatory leave” last year when the school found he sent pornographic and violent content to students. Soon after, a restraining order was placed against Harris after he allegedly sent threatening messages saying he would “hunt” and kill a professor at the University of California, Irvine. Harris is charged with transmission of threats in interstate commerce. He did not enter a plea Thursday. He is scheduled to return to court Tuesday.


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.


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.


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.

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