Morning News Briefs: Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
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Hearing Held For Volleyball Coach Charged In College Scheme
An initial court appearance has been held for the Wake Forest University women's volleyball coach accused in a scheme to help get wealthy children into elite schools.
A brief docket entry says William Ferguson was advised of his rights during the hearing Tuesday in Greensboro. He's been charged with racketeering conspiracy.
Federal court documents allege that the leader of a for-profit college counseling business directed that money be paid to the women's volleyball program and a camp controlled by Ferguson. In exchange, prosecutors say Ferguson agreed to designate a daughter of one of that business's clients as a volleyball recruit to help her get into the university.
The university has placed Ferguson on administrative leave.
Mixed Reactions To Statue Removal
The Confederate soldier statue that has been at the corner of Fourth and Liberty Streets in downtown Winston-Salem is no longer standing. The removal is drawing mixed emotions from community members.
There were cheers and somber faces as the crowd watched construction crews remove the confederate soldier from its pedestal. The 30-foot tall statue was taken down in pieces to preserve it.
The city had ordered the United Daughters of the Confederacy to remove the statue by the end of January, calling it a public nuisance and a safety concern. Mayor Allen Joines says the city is paying for the eventual relocation to Salem Cemetery, and it will be in storage in the meantime.
The UDC has said it will continue to fight for returning the monument to the place it’s been since 1905.
North Carolina Considers Hand-Held Phone Ban While Driving
Distracted driving dangers are getting revisited in North Carolina, where lawmakers are advancing a prohibition on hand-held cellphone use in the name of reducing fatalities and potentially reining in insurance rates.
A House committee overwhelmingly backed legislation on Tuesday to bar drivers from holding their wireless devices to take calls, as well as using them to watch videos or text. Violators would face fines, with knocks on insurance records for repeat offenses.
The state already banned texting or emailing while driving for a decade. But lawmakers say it's hard for authorities to enforce the rule.
National Group: North Carolina Teacher Pay Moves Up Rankings
North Carolina's standing on teacher pay keeps improving compared to other states.
The National Education Association released on Tuesday its annual teacher salary rankings. The data show North Carolina ranked 34th in average teacher pay during the 2017-18 school year at more than $51,200, compared to 38th the year before.
The North Carolina Association of Educators — the state's NEA affiliate — says last year's average pay ranked fourth in the Southeast.
An NCAE news release also estimates North Carolina will move to 29th overall and 2nd in the Southeast when this school year ends, with an average salary of almost $54,000.
Peregrine Falcons Abandoning Blue Ridge Parkway Nests, Human Activity Blamed
Wildlife officials are concerned that peregrine falcons have been abandoning a nesting site along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tourists approaching the site to take selfies may be to blame.
Cliffs along the Blue Ridge Parkway have long been a stronghold for nesting peregrine falcons, a species that has already been deemed threatened.
So biologists were alarmed to discover the birds have been abandoning one of their favorite nesting sites, the Devil’s Courthouse.
The National Park Service says peregrines have not successfully nested on the overlook since 2007.
Biologists believe that’s because of increased human activity at the cliff. They point to people straying off of marked trails to take pictures.
The News and Observer reports there have been calls to have the popular trail and parking area blocked off until the falcons return.