Local and State Headlines for Wednesday, January 9th, 2018

Democrat List For Lt. Governor's Race Grows (Raleigh, NC)

The field of Democratic candidates in North Carolina's lieutenant governor's race is getting crowded.  Former state senator Cal Cunningham announced yesterday that he plans to seek the Democratic nomination.  Former state senator Malcolm Graham also recently said on Twitter that he is thinking of throwing his name into the primary.  Asheville's state Senator Terry Van Duyn has already announced her candidacy.

Chickenpox Outbreak Over In Asheville (Asheville, NC)

A chickenpox outbreak in Asheville is over.  Dozens of students at the Asheville Waldorf School were first treated for the virus in late October to early November.  WLOS-TV says the outbreak has been deemed over by the Buncombe County Health Department after no new cases popped up during Christmas.  It was considered the biggest outbreak of chickenpox in North Carolina since the 90s.

Equestrian Center Fined For Polluting Water(Mill Spring, NC)

The Tryon Equestrian Center is facing a fine from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.  The agency is forcing management to cough up nearly 65-thousand dollars for allegedly allowing sediment to pollute streams on the center's property.  The equestrian facility hosted the World Equestrian Games last September.  The center's COO told The Citizen Times that excessive rains have made it harder to remove the sediment.

Art Display Vandalized Twice At Asheville Airport (Asheville, NC)

Airport police are investigating multiple vandalisms of artwork at Asheville Regional.  An airport official says an installation by local artist Jonas Gerard was vandalized on Sunday and Monday.  WLOS-TV says Gerard was charged with sexual battery in 2015 only to have the charges dropped a little more than a year ago.  A Gerard spokesman claims a defamatory group has caused nearly 40-thousand-dollars in property damage since the charges were dropped.  

Tree Clean-Up Underway In WNC (Henderson County, NC)

Debris leftover from December's large snowstorm is now being cleaned up in Western North Carolina.  A DOT subcontractor says it may take a month to clear off up to 50-thousand trees from state-managed roads that fell during the storm.  The large amount of rain that has followed since the snowstorm has reportedly made it too difficult to bring in equipment until now.   Clean-up along U.S. Highway 74 is expected to wrap up this week.

Potential Winter Weather Heading This Way (Asheville, NC)

Forecasters are keeping a close eye out on a weather system that could potentially bring snow and ice to Western North Carolina later this week.  Temperatures are rapidly dropping into the 20s and 30s over the next few days in the region.  The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory until Thursday morning as gusts could reach up to 45 miles-an-hour.  Wintry precipitation may hit the area early Saturday.

Screenings To Begin At CMS Schools (Charlotte, NC)

Random safety screenings will soon begin at schools across Charlotte.  CMS officials rolled out more security measures yesterday that include a few options on how the district will conduct the searches.  Those include a screening of every student, screening select buildings, and using gunpowder-sniffing dogs.  Video surveillance upgrades have been completed at nearly a dozen CMS schools, with another 15 set to be done this month.

Harris Regrets Running From Reporters (Charlotte, NC)

Republican Mark Harris says he shouldn't have run away from reporters this week.  He told WBTV yesterday that he regrets the way he handled the situation after a Republican Party meeting in Charlotte on Monday night when he ran down a stairwell and set off a building alarm.  Harris said he didn't want to bring his wife in front of the media.  The board of elections is investigating ballot fraud allegations in the ninth district congressional race, in which Harris outgained Democrat Dan McCready by over 900 votes.

Funding Short For Charlotte Greenway Project (Charlotte, NC)

Funding for a large greenway project in Charlotte is well short of what it will cost.  An engineer told the city council yesterday that funding for the 26-mile Cross Charlotte Trail is about 77-million-dollars short.  The Charlotte Observer says that will leave more than ten miles of the greenway space with no funds to complete it.  The trail is expected to link to other greenways in the county.

Fire Destroys Home In Gaston County (Gaston County, NC)

Gaston County fire investigators are searching for the cause of a blaze that destroyed a home last night.  Around two dozen firefighters rushed out to Carson Drive to battle flames already pouring from the home.  There was no one home at the time.  It took about half-an-hour to put out.

Four Suspects Arrested For Newton Armed Robbery (Newton, NC)

Four South Carolina suspects are facing charges in connection to a Monday night armed robbery in Newton.  Police said the suspects were pulled over at a gas station on North Carolina Highway Ten after robbing a gaming store.  Officers seized firearms and cash from the car.  The group was arrested without incident.

Furniture Maker To Bring 200-Plus Jobs To Hickory Area (Catawba County, NC)

A furniture maker is bringing over 200 jobs to Catawba County.  Governor Roy Cooper says Design Foundry will invest more than three-million-dollars over the next five years at a manufacturing facility north of Hickory.  The county manager says the company is partnered with Crate & Barrel.  

Two Women Are Accused Of Sexually Assaulting A Trans Woman (Raleigh, NC)

Two women are accused of sexually assaulting a transgender person in the bathroom of a Raleigh bar.  Investigators say last month, 38-year-old Amber Harrell and 31-year-old Jessica Fowler started grabbing a 29-year-old transgender woman in the bathroom of the Milk Bar and exposing themselves.  The victim called 9-1-1 and Fowler and Harrell have been charged with kidnapping and sexual battery.  They're out on bond, but if convicted will have to register as sex offenders.

A Durham Teacher Is Fired From Montessori School After Alleged Child Touching (Phoenix, AZ)

A Durham teacher is accused of molesting two young girls on vacation.  Over Christmas break, 44-year-old Nathan Elder of the Montessori School of Durham was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona.  He was visiting family members and a young girl told her parents he fondled her.  Police in Oakland, California, are investigating another similar incident involving another young girl.  School officials fired Elder immediately after learning about his arrest.

One In Custody After A Church Parking Lot Stabbing (Durham, NC)

Durham police are investigating a church parking lot stabbing.  They say last night, one person was taken to the hospital after being stabbed outside of Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church on West Main Street.  The victim is expected to survive.  One person has been taken into custody, but no charges have been filed yet.

Rape And Murder Charges Involving Woman Found Dead In A Ditch (Fayetteville, NC)

An arrest has been made in the rape and murder of a Fayetteville woman.  In October, the body of Tyesha Williams was found on Windsor Drive in a ditch, not far from a playground.  Yesterday, police announced they had arrested 23-year-old William Thomas, who was already in custody for unrelated crimes.  Thomas and Williams are believed to have known each other, but police didn't say how.

A Brother's Death After A Fight Leads To Murder Charges (Raleigh, NC)

A Raleigh man is facing murder charges after the brother he fought with died.  Police say in September, 58-year-old Bernard Moore seriously injured 75-year-old Theodore Moore and put him in the hospital.  The older brother died after being in the hospital for more than a month.  The medical examiner says the death was caused by injuries he suffered in the fight.  Bernard Moore is being held in Wake County without bond.

A Man Is Accused Of Using Zip Ties On A Family During A Burglary (Raleigh, NC)

A Raleigh man is facing charges for a terrifying kidnapping and burglary.  Police say a few weeks ago, 41-year-old Russell Watkins ambushed a family on Slippery Elm Drive and zip tied the residents, one of whom was 14-years-old, and stole valuables from the home.  He was arrested in the past week and yesterday asked the judge to lower his nearly 700-thousand-dollar bond.  That request was denied.

Three People Hurt When School Bus, Car Crash Into Home (High Point, NC)

Two people are fighting for their lives after a car accident involving a school bus in High Point.  It happened around 3 p.m. yesterday near Meredith Street and Oneka Avenue.  Police say a car ran a stop sign and hit an Oakview Elementary School bus.  The crash sent both vehicles into a nearby home.  Two people in the car suffered life-threatening injuries.  The bus driver was also hurt, but not seriously.  

Rally, Counter Rally Planned Outside Confederate Monument (Winston-Salem, NC)

Groups for and against the Confederate monument in Winston-Salem are planning a rally this weekend.  One of the groups is the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which commissioned the monument back in 1905.  The other one is called "Get Hate Out of Winston-Salem."  Both groups plan to meet at the statue on 4th and Liberty streets on Sunday afternoon.  They're expecting a peaceful event. 

Blue Cross And Blue Shield To Help Fund Leadership Program (Undated)

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is hoping to attract more primary care doctors to the state.  That's why the insurer is putting 750-thousand dollars toward funding a leadership program that offers training and education opportunities to medical students.  The goal is to increase access to primary care, lower heath costs and improve care. 

Teens Charged In Connection With String Of Auto Break-Ins (Winston-Salem, NC)

Three teens are under arrest in connection with a series of vehicle break-ins in Winston-Salem.  Some two-dozen vehicles were hit up yesterday morning in the area of Fairview, Kennison Village and Morgan Trace drives.  Police say all vehicles were left unlocked.  Two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old were arrested on suspicion of auto breaking and entering, and larceny of a firearm.  More charges are pending. 

Two Men Accused Of Breaking Into Yadkin Co. Elementary School (Yadkin Co., NC)

Two men are accused of breaking into an elementary school in Yadkin County.  Deputies say it happened New Year's Day at Forbush Elementary.  They say the men ran away from the school after they were spotted by a staff member.  Nicholas Campbell and Michael Popp, both of East Bend, were later arrested on felony breaking and entering and other charges.

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