Morning News Briefs: Friday, January 11th, 2019
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Public Meeting Held Over Coal Ash Concerns
More than a hundred people gathered at Walnut Cove Elementary Thursday night to voice their concerns over coal ash stored at the Belews Creek plant in Stokes County. It was the first of a series of public meetings state regulators are holding to gather input about Duke Energy’s cleanup plans.
Community members say the company’s proposal doesn’t go far enough.
The Department of Environmental Quality recently approved the low-risk classification of six coal ash ponds, including Belews Creek. That means the cleanup process could be excavation, capping the waste in place, or a hybrid approach.
Duke Energy says it’s been testing the area around the Belews site and contends it’s not polluting drinking water.
It says regardless of the closure method, it will monitor groundwater for 30 years at the site.
Man At Center Of Fraud Probe Has Been Has Been Investigated Before
An election fraud probe is continuing in North Carolina’s Ninth District, the last undecided race in the country. Its not the first time the man at the center of it has been investigated.
Concerns about Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr.’s involvement in elections in the eastern part of the state go back to 2010.
A retired elections investigator says he looked at accusations that Dowless was among a group of people giving cash to voters in exchange for voting how they wanted them to.
The investigator says he was unable to build a strong enough case to bring criminal charges.
Investigators are now looking into whether Dowless ran a sophisticated operation over multiple election cycles to collect absentee ballots from voters, potentially illegally altering the selections or not turning them in to be counted.
North Carolina DMV Closes Asheville Office For Probe, Audit
The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles says it has closed a license plate office in Asheville to investigate "possible violations of state law" and audit the office.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports a DMV statement says investigators with the agency's License and Theft Bureau determined allegations of illegal activity warranted the office's temporary closure starting Wednesday. The allegations that prompted the investigation and closure are unclear.
The agency says the office's inventory will be audited, and investigators will secure its state equipment and supplies.
Ex-Officer Who Impregnated 14-Year-Old Being Sued
A former North Carolina police officer serving time for impregnating a then-14-year-old girl is being sued.
The teen and her mother are suing former Lowell police officer James "Paul" Blair. They want to be reimbursed for the cost of delivering and raising Blair's son. Lowell, a suburb of Charlotte, is located in Gaston County.
The lawsuit also names Lowell Police Chief Scott Bates and the city of Lowell, alleging they knew of Blair's history of improper contact with minors. A city attorney disputed those allegations.
Blair is serving a 12-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to statutory rape.
Death Toll From Flu In North Carolina Climbs To 16
State health officials say six people died from the flu in North Carolina last week, raising the death toll for the season to 16.
The N.C. Division of Public Health said Thursday four of the six flu victims were ages 65 and older, with the other two in the 50-to-64 age group. Of the total, 12 flu victims were 65 and older.
The flu season officially began Oct. 1 and typically runs through March 31.