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North Carolina News – March 2, 2022

North Carolina News – March 2, 2022

Horsch now NC Senate leader Berger’s top communications aide

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A former journalist is now the top communications aide for North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger. His office announced this week that Lauren Horsch has been elevated to deputy chief of staff for communications. Horsch succeeds Pat Ryan, who is leaving state government to start a public relations firm. She joined Berger’s office in 2019 as a communications adviser. Horsch previously worked at publications such as the N.C. Insider state government news service, The Herald-Sun of Durham, The Des Moines Register and The Daily Herald of Roanoke Rapids. 

BUS DRIVER-FATAL SHOOTING

Suspect in NC bus driver’s shooting death arrested in Kansas

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say a suspect in the fatal shooting of a North Carolina bus driver has been arrested in Kansas. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police announced Tuesday that detectives found 21-year-old Darian Dru Thavychith through a collaboration with federal and state authorities. Police in Kansas say Thavychith was arrested without incident at a Shawnee gas station. Thavychith is charged with murder and shooting into occupied property in the death of Charlotte Area Transit System bus driver Ethan Rivera on Feb. 11. At a court hearing Tuesday, Thavychith agreed to be extradited to Charlotte.

WIFE KILLED-GUILTY PLEA

North Carolina man pleads guilty in his wife’s death in 2020

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man has been sentenced to up to 31 years in prison for killing his wife in front of their kids after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. News outlets report 34-year-old Alexander Dzikowski pleaded guilty on Tuesday. The Nash County Sheriff’s Office says Tiara Dzikowski was stabbed multiple times at their home in Battleboro on Dec. 6, 2020. Deputies said the children in the home witnessed the crime, then went next door to a neighbor’s house and said their mother had been stabbed by their father.

OAK RIDGE-TVA

Oak Ridge, TVA to partner on decarbonization technologies

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) — The Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Tennessee Valley Authority have signed a new memoradum of understanding to work together on decarbonization technologies. According to a news release, the partnership will help TVA work toward the goal of net-zero carbon emissions. The partners will explore capturing carbon directly from the air and converting carbon dioxide into valuable products. They will also explore hydrogen generation, electric vehicle charging, new nuclear reactor technology, long-duration energy storage and grid modernization, among other things. TVA provides electricity to 10 million people in seven states. Oak Ridge is the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory.

MEDICAID EXPANSION

Cooper administration delivers NC Medicaid expansion pitch

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has made another pitch for Medicaid expansion in what could be the most promising environment for the idea so far in North Carolina. State Medicaid director Dave Richard made a presentation on Tuesday to a House-Senate committee created specifically to study expansion. North Carolina is among a dozen states that haven’t expanded Medicaid under the 2010 federal health care law. The GOP-controlled legislature has blocked the idea for years, but now Senate leader Phil Berger is open to it. A commitee co-chairman is hopeful the panel’s recommendation could be voted on by the full General Assembly as soon as September.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-STATE AGENCIES

Mask-optional policy begins next week at most NC agencies

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Mask-wearing inside most North Carolina state government buildings will become optional starting next Monday through an executive order from Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper’s order announced on Tuesday applies to his Cabinet-level agencies and other offices that have specifically chosen to participate in the policy. Cooper attributes the changes to improving COVID-19 numbers and access to vaccinations and other treatments. The new policy still allows agency heads to require masks in high-risk settings. Cooper kept in place a requirement that unvaccinated employees get tested for COVID-19 at least once a week, but those workers will be able to comply by using at-home rapid tests. 

RICHARDSON-NOT RUNNING

Billy Richardson won’t seek reelection to N. Carolina House

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Democratic state Rep. Billy Richardson of Fayetteville says he won’t seek reelection to the North Carolina House this fall. Richardson made the announcement late Monday. Candidate filing ends Friday. Richardson has had a two-part legislative career, serving in the House for four years in the mid-1990s before returning in 2015. He says his reasons to step down “are several and mostly private” but largely focus on the sacrifices his family and work colleagues have made for him to serve. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002. Richardson represents the 44th House District, which remains comfortably Democratic after the recent redistricting.

PATROL VEHICLE ESCAPE

Sheriff’s office seeks man who escaped from patrol vehicle

HAMPSTEAD, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina are searching for a man who they said escaped from a sheriff’s deputy’s patrol vehicle. The StarNews reports that Pender County Sheriff’s deputies responde to a report of a domestic violence situation at the Scotchman store in Hampstead on Sunday night. After following a vehicle that was reportedly involved to a nearby Lowes Foods, officials say deputies detained a male passenger, handcuffed him and put him in a patrol vehicle. During the investigation, officials say the man escaped from the patrol vehicle and fled.  Officials say they’ve determined that the man they initially identified as the suspect wasn’t involved. Deputies are working to correctly identify the man who escaped custody.

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