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Former Council Member Wanda Merschel Dies At 69

Winston-Salem city leaders are mourning the loss of longtime City Council member Wanda Merschel.

Merschel began her civic involvement at the neighborhood level, pushing for historic preservation in the West End, where she lived.

She turned that passion for advocacy into a four-term stint on the city council, ending with a decision not to seek re-election in 2013.

Mayor Allen Joines praised Merschel for her wisdom and good judgment, saying she would leave a lasting legacy on the city she loved.

Merschel died last week at the age of 69. A downtown plaza is named in her honor.

Greensboro Will Host National Youth Swimming Championships

Greensboro will host a handful of national youth swimming championships over the next few years. They are expected to have a significant economic impact on the city.

The Greensboro Aquatic Center, or GAC, will host the YMCA of the USA's National Short Course Swimming Championship from 2021 through 2023. It's considered a major competition, with more than 1500 young athletes participating. The center will also be home to the National Long Course Swimming Championship in 2020 and 21.

According to the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, the five championships will generate more than $20 million in economic impact, specifically around the local hospitality industry. An estimated 2000 parents, coaches, and volunteers are expected to be in attendance, in addition to the swimmers.

4 Suffer Minor Injuries In North Carolina Plane Crash

Authorities say four people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries after a small plane crashed in western North Carolina.

The plane went down around 5 p.m. Sunday near the Rutherford-Polk county line.

Rutherford County Emergency Management Director Edward Hamrick told TV station WHNS the four-seat aircraft was flying out of Henderson County as part of an exhibition flight for children who were on board.

The FAA will investigate.

Lawsuit Over Asheville Hotel Set For Supreme Court Hearing

A costly three-year legal battle over a proposed hotel in downtown Asheville is set for a hearing before the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The Citizen-Times reports arguments will be heard Monday in Raleigh in the case over the city's denial of the project, a 185-room Embassy Suites hotel and parking deck. City council members cited concerns about parking, traffic and a high concentration of hotels when they voted against the project in 2017.

Hotels have become an increasingly fraught issue in the popular tourist destination, which implemented a one-year moratorium on hotel projects in September.

Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry Set To Close For 3 Months

A popular North Carolina ferry route is set to close for three months to allow crews to perform repairs.

The StarNews reports the N.C. Department of Transportation will close the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry beginning Monday to update ramp equipment at both ferry terminals. The department's ferry division said contractors expect work on the approximately $3 million project should be done by early April.

The closure will be a headache for tourists and commuters. What was a 30-minute trip over the water could take over an hour by road.

Nearly 200,000 vehicles make the Southport-Fort Fisher crossing each year.

North Carolina Zoo Marks Record Attendance In 2019

The North Carolina Zoo says it had a record-setting number of visitors in 2019. The zoo in Asheboro announced Friday it had a record 917,309 visitors in 2019, 85,000 more than in 2018.

The zoo says it is the world's largest natural habitat zoo. It is home to more than 1,800 animals and 52,000 plants. 

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