Morning Headlines: Friday, January 8, 2016
Roberts Leaving As Budget Director; Gray Moves From Revenue
Gov. Pat McCrory is losing his state budget director of 16 months. The governor is also moving his revenue secretary to the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
McCrory announced Thursday changes entering the fourth year of his administration.
Budget Director Lee Roberts will step down at the end of the month to return to the private sector as managing director of an investment management firm. He'll be replaced by Drew Heath, chairman of the state Industrial Commission.
McCrory also said he's appointing Revenue Secretary Lyons Gray to the state utilities panel to fill a vacancy. The new secretary will be current revenue department Chief Operating Officer Jeff Epstein.
Forest Wants Revamp To Too-Negative Charter School Report
A report describing North Carolina's charter schools as having students who are more white and affluent than traditional public schools is being sidetracked after Lt. Gov. Dan Forest complained it's too negative.
Forest said Thursday the State Board of Education's annual report to lawmakers on charter schools lacked sufficient balance and should be rewritten despite a legal deadline next week.
Forest said a red flag for him was the report citing a study last year by Duke University researchers. They wrote that charter schools are increasingly serving relatively able white students in racially imbalanced schools rather than the academically needy.
Chairman Bill Cobey says he expects lawmakers will accept a delay until a revised report is produced.
Charters educate nearly 78,000 students at 158 schools.
Guilford County OK’s Incentives For Ecolab
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has approved economic incentives for a Greensboro manufacturer.
The board approved just over $175,000 in incentives for Ecolab to expand its existing operations.
The company manufactures sanitation products for the food service industry.
The News and Record of Greensboro reports the money would be paid over a four-year period after the company completes a capitol investment of $27 million and creates 35 new jobs.
The incentive package comes as Ecolab is considering expanding its location in Dallas.
Expanding the Greensboro location would require the construction of a rail spur, which could cost over $4 million.
North Carolina Zoo Adds Second Polar Bear
The North Carolina Zoo has added a male polar bear to its population.
News outlets report that 9-year-old Nikita was safely relocated to Asheboro from the Kansas City Zoo on Wednesday evening.
The new bear will join the zoo's 16-year-old female polar bear Anana, on exhibit after a period of acclimation in polar-bear holding quarters. Officials hope that the two will breed cubs.
Animal curator says Nikita has been adapting well to his new environment.
Nikita was born at the Toledo Zoo and arrived in Kansas City when he was 3 years old. Anana has been at the North Carolina Zoo since September 2014.
There are only about 60 polar bears on exhibit in the United States.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.