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North Carolina News – April 6, 2022

North Carolina News – April 6, 2022

CLIMATE CHANGE-BLACKOUTS

Storms batter aging power grid as climate disasters spread

Power outages from severe weather have roughly doubled over the past two decades across the U.S. as a warming climate stirs more destructive storms. An Associated Press analysis found the number of outages tied to severe weather rose from about 50 annually nationwide in the early 2000s to more than 100 annually on average over the past five years. The weather disasters fueled by climate change now roll across the U.S. year-round, battering the nation’s aging electric grid. The resulting blackouts can be harmful and even deadly for the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable communities.

RACIAL-INJUSTICE-NORTH-CAROLINA-DEATH

Nurse indicted in custody death, no indictment for officers

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A grand jury has indicted a nurse on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the 2019 death of a Black man at a North Carolina jail, but declined to indict five former detention officers involved in the incident. News outlets report Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill confirmed that Michelle Heughins, who worked as a nurse at the jail, was indicted Monday in John Neville’s death. O’Neill says he’s disappointed in the outcome and prosecutors will meet with investigators and Neville’s family before deciding on any further action. Body camera videos showed him yelling “I can’t breathe!” as he was restrained. An attorney for Heughins says her client will be fully vindicated at trial.

CHARTER SCHOOLS

NC court halts suit fighting municipal charter school option

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s intermediate appeals court has ruled a lawsuit that attempts to block a law that permits four Charlotte-area municipalities to operate their own charter schools can’t go forward. The Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Tuesday in favor of legislative leaders defending the 2018 law. The North Carolina and Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP chapters and two parents had sued, calling the law unconstitutional in part by encouraging racial segregation in public schools. A trial judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit, but the appeals court said the plaintiffs alleged neither a direct injury nor immediate threat of injury from the law.

SEVERE WEATHER

2 killed in Georgia, Texas as damaging storms strike South

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Authorities say one person is dead in Georgia and another in Texas amid damaging storms, high winds and tornadoes around the South. Forecasters said the storms Tuesday were just the start of what could be two days of violent weather in the region. More than 50,000 homes and businesses were without power Tuesday night from eastern Texas to South Carolina. In Bryan County, Georgia, an offical said a woman was killed by a suspected tornado that damaged homes and left several others injured. In Whitehouse, Texas, a fire chief confirmed one person was killed as storms moved through early Tuesday Forecasters say another round of damaging weather is expected Wednesday.

CONFEDERATE MONUMENT

NC court upholds Asheville’s removal of Vance obelisk

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A western North Carolina city’s decision to remove a monument honoring a Civil War-era governor has been upheld by the state Court of Appeals. An appeals panel unanimously affirmed Tuesday a Superior Court judge’s decision last year to dismiss a lawsuit filed by an historic preservation group. The group opposed the demolition of the obelisk honoring former Gov. Zebulon Vance in Asheville. The obelisk was dismantled but the base has remained in place pending appeals. Vance also was a U.S. senator and Confederate military officer. The obelisk is one of many Confederate statues and memorials taken down amid recent protests for racial justice.

NATO-PLANE-CRASH

Hundreds line streets at funeral of fallen Marine

LEOMINSTER, Mass. (AP) — Residents of a Massachusetts city turned out in force for the funeral of a U.S. Marine officer who died last month during a NATO training exercise in Norway and was known for his infectious smile and commitment to serve. Capt. Ross Reynolds’ casket was transported on Tuesday from Leominster City Hall to St. Cecilia’s Church by a horse-drawn carriage and escorted by a contingent of Marines and Boy Scouts. Hundreds of residents carrying U.S. flags lined the streets and gathered outside the church where the private funeral was held. Reynolds was a 27-year-old Osprey pilot and one of four Marines killed when their aircraft crashed March 18.

FELONS-VOTING-NORTH CAROLINA

Appeals courts asked to step in on NC offenders’ voting case

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Lawyers representing competing sides in a legal debate over when felony offenders in North Carolina should be able to vote again are asking appeals courts to step in. Last week, a panel of trial judges struck down a 1973 state law that prevents someone convicted of a felony from having voting rights restored while they’re still on probation, parole or post-release supervision. It’s possible they could begin voting in the May 17 primary. Republican lawmakers asked the Court of Appeals to block enforcement of the ruling while it’s challenged. But those who sued over the law asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to take over the case instead.

OUTER BANKS-NEW BRIDGE OPENING

Outer Banks will soon open 2nd bridge to skirt flooded route

RODANTHE, N.C. (AP) — A bridge that will allow locals and tourists to avoid a perennially washed-out route on North Carolina’s Outer Banks is set to open to traffic this month. The News & Observer reports that people will be able to walk, bike and run across the 2.4-mile Rodanthe Bridge on Saturday ahead of its opening. The $154 million bridge will bypass the south end of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and part of the highway that’s often washed over by the ocean during storms. Construction on the project began in 2018. The structure is known as the “jug handle bridge” because of how it sticks out over Pamlico Sound.

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