North Carolina News Briefs

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Asheville Police execute search warrant in case of man found in Swannanoa River

Police are making progress in the homicide investigation of Benjamin Lee Hoffman II, whose body was found in the Swannanoa River Oct. 18. Police executed a search arrant Oct. 28 and collected what they describe as a key piece of evidence detectives believe will clear or support the allegation of a person of interest. Forensic analysis of the item is currently being performed. The 44-year-old Hoffman was found in the river near Azalea Road three days after he was reported missing. He was last seen Sept. 17, according to police. No information about his cause of death has been released.

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Oct 30, 2021
Asheville Airport travelers return in force; plans to double terminal size move forward

Asheville Regional Airport is a busy place again. Passenger numbers have rebounded to higher levels than before the COVID-19 pandemic, surprising officials. While it may have been a speedbump to passenger numbers, the pandemic didn't stop the planning for construction of a new, $230 million terminal twice the size of the current building, set to break ground next summer. Those plans call for a 275,000-square-foot terminal building to replace the current 113,000-square-foot terminal, Bleiweis said, with 12 gates and 12 loading bridges to replace the current seven gates and five loading bridges.

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Oct 30, 2021
Ex-wife accuses Wilmington City Council candidate of domestic abuse

The former wife of a candidate for Wilmington City Council has accused him of physical and emotional abuse while they were married. Cat Halecki said in a Facebook post Wednesday that she was abused by Jonathan Uzcategui, a Republican running for Wilmington City Council in the Nov. 2 race. She said that throughout their 12-year marriage, he emotionally and physically abused her. He denied causing her any physical harm. The New Hanover County Republican Party made a public Facebook statement on Thursday, signed by chairman Will Knecht, in support of the candidate.

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Oct 30, 2021
Former New Bern chief of police to throw hat into mayor ring

Toussaint Summers recently retired as New Bern's chief of police in March. This week Summers made his second big announcement in a year -- he will throw his hat into the ring and run for New Bern mayor in the upcoming 2022 municipal elections. He became the city’s first Black police chief in 2011 before his retirement on March 19. If elected, Summers would be only the second black mayor, after Leander R. Morgan was elected in 1977, 1979, and 1989.

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Oct 30, 2021
Richlands native pens children's book to bust stigma around ADHD

While the pandemic had many binge-watching shows in 2020, Richlands, North Carolina, native Jennifer Langston wrote a children’s book. Langston is a mental health therapist and clinical supervisor who now works with children, adolescents and adults. During her downtime away from helping clients navigate the full gamut of mental health disorders and tough life situations, Langston wanted to help educate children about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. “Antsy Agatha” introduces the reader to a 7-year-old whose parents are always telling her to calm down. Agatha struggles to sit still and complete her schoolwork and does not understand what she is doing wrong. Fortunately, Agatha’s parents recognize that they need help. The author hopes her book will help more children and their families make sense of living with ADHD.

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Oct 30, 2021
'He led this community from the heart': Hoke County mourns loss of Sheriff Hubert Peterkin

American flags attached to fire trucks blew in the somber drizzle outside the Cape Fear conference B Headquarters on Friday, Oct. 29. The rain didn’t deter the Hoke County community, friends, family and supporters of longtime Sheriff Hubert Peterkin from lining up outside. The 59-year-old Peterkin died unexpectedly Oct. 22. He served in law enforcement for 34 years, including 16 years at the Fayetteville Police Department and 19 years as Hoke County sheriff.

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Oct 30, 2021
Giant new distribution center planned for Fayetteville. Is it Amazon?

A one-million-square-foot distribution center that will create more than 500 full-time jobs appears to be coming to Fayetteville. Local officials would not identify the prospective tenant, but city documents imply that the owner is Amazon. The proposed facility, nicknamed "Project Bronco," is expected to create those jobs by 2023, with an average annual wage of about $33,000. Cumberland County commissioners are expected to vote on awarding up to $1.25 million as a grant to the company should it meet established requirements for investment and job creation.

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Oct 30, 2021
Mt. Mitchell closes due to snow, ice, wind; October's lowest temperature recorded Wednesday

Mt. Mitchell State Park closed Thursday, Oct. 28, due to snow, ice and high winds. The weather station on Mt. Mitchell showed a temperature of 36 degrees, with a wind chill of 25 degrees and wind gusts of 22 mph, at of 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The low for the day was 35 degrees, recorded at 3:15 p.m., and the high was 41.8 degrees just after midnight. Closures and updates are posted on Mt. Mitchell State Park's website along with maps, hours, activities and location. The summit of Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi at 6,684 feet.

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Oct 30, 2021
Mayor Mitch Colvin to rescind Fayetteville's mask mandate, Cumberland's order remains

Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin is rescinding the city’s mask mandate effective Monday, Nov. 1. Colvin made the announcement Friday, Oct. 29, saying the decision was the result of the reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. On Aug. 27, Cumberland County commissioners mandated masks for the county and all its municipalities. About 57% of Cumberland County residents are fully vaccinated.

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Oct 30, 2021
Top treats: North Carolina's favorite Halloween candies

It's almost Halloween so let's talk candy. For North Carolina, the most popular Halloween candy is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. CandyStore.com, a major retailer for buying candy in bulk, studied candy sales data from the past 14 years to decide which Halloween candy is most loved in each state. For North Carolina, top tier treats include Reese's Peanut Butter Cups followed by Snickers and M&M's. According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween candy spending is expected to hit $3 billion this year, which is 20% more than last year's $2.4 billion.

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Oct 30, 2021
Asheville area hotel, lodging sales break another record in August

Surging Buncombe County sales for hotels and other types of lodging have broken another record despite ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, hotels, vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts generated $54.2 million, according to the Buncombe Tourism Development Authority. It follows a record-breaking $56.7 million in June and $65.1 million in July.

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Oct 29, 2021
Asheville police find body in abandoned Patton Avenue Denny's

Asheville Police discovered a woman’s body in an abandoned Denny’s off Patton Avenue. Police located the body while conducting a search of the vacant restaurant at 675 Patton Ave. around 4 p.m. Oct. 27, according to an Asheville Police Department press release. No further details about the deceased or manner of death were immediately available. Police are in the process of notifying the next of kin and investigating alongside the North Carolina State Medical Examiner's Office.

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Oct 29, 2021
Gastonia Police and community talk mental health Saturday

A Gastonia Police officer wants to have a conversation about mental health with fellow officers and community members Saturday. Sgt. Shaunte Southern will host his Sixth Barbershop Rap Session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Phillips Center in Gastonia. The rap sessions are designed to allow officers and the community to talk and educate each other in a relaxed setting, similar to a conversation in a barbershop. The session includes free candy, food, haircuts, hot dogs and a group conversation.

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Oct 29, 2021
Arts Davidson County looks to grow with hiring of first full-time executive director in over a decade

Amanda Murphy envisioned a life working with numbers when she earned her bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and she did just that for many years. An introduction to the Davidson County arts scene through her four children who were and are active in Lexington Youth Theater began a change in her career focus, however. Hired as the part-time events and community coordinator for Arts Davidson County in September 2020, she has just named as the nonprofit's full-time executive director. She is the nonprofit's first full-time executive director in more than a decade.

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Oct 29, 2021
Julia Ray Day: African American business pioneer gets birthday present in form of own day

The year Julia G. Ray was born, Woodrow Wilson was president, Charlie Chaplin made his film debut and a burly left-hander named Babe Ruth started playing baseball with the Boston Red Sox. That would 1914. While Bab Ruth went on to leave his mark on professional baseball with 714 home runs and a Hall of Fame career, Julia Ray lived a quiet yet extraordinary life in Asheville. Ask those who know her, and they'll tell you her time here is worthy of life's hall of fame, especially when it comes to the impact on her community. Ray turns 107 on Oct. 28, which the city of Asheville has proclaimed Julia G. Ray Day.

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Oct 29, 2021
Alamance County officials completed a first phase of restoration of the McCray School

North Burlington hosted state and local officials on Monday for the dedication of the newly-renovated McCray School, one of North Carolina's oldest structures that once housed a segregated school. Despite overcast skies, the rain held off as project and Alamance-Burlington Schools officials spoke about the months-long undertaking to restore the building located at 4460 NC Highway 62. Established in 1915, the McCray School is a single-room school built for African American students. The McCray School ended in 1952 with the opening of Pleasant Grove Elementary. Through the decades, the building has gone from school to community meeting space. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places sometime in the late 1980s. While work on the primary building has wrapped, the scope of the overall project has expanded to include a second phase. The second phase entails the construction of an outdoor teaching area adjacent to the primary structure and the placing of historical markers that will tell the story of the McCray School.

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Oct 29, 2021
'Bursting at the seams': Pender County makes progress for new jail

With a packed jail, Pender County Sheriff Alan W. Cutler is looking forward to a day when the county doesn't have to waste money, time and resources to send inmates to other places. But in the meantime, officials will continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. That may change in upcoming years as progress continues for a new jail. Officials made another step by signing a contract with Moseley Architects P.C. for architectural and engineering design services to build a 95,000 square foot project consisting of a new jail, law enforcement center, and E911 facility. The county is paying $3.25 million to the Charlotte-based firm. The total estimated cost of the project is $40 million.

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Oct 29, 2021
Officers cleared in August shooting in downtown Wilmington following investigation

Two law enforcement officers involved in an August shooting in downtown Wilmington will not face charges after firing their weapons at a driver who refused to pull over. Wilmington Police officer Andrew Vrooman and Stanley Taylor, with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office were the officers involved. According to a news release from District Attorney Ben David, both were cleared after a report by the State Bureau of Investigation was delivered to the District Attorney's Office this week.

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Oct 29, 2021
Viral Facebook post: New Bern woman arrested for alleged child abuse caught on nanny cam

A nanny cam video, which has been watched thousands of times, led to a child abuse arrest of a New Bern woman. Parents watched a nanny cam live recording on Oct. 26 showing their 2-year-old son and possible abuse. Lauren Rowe of New Bern, the nanny in the video, was charged with misdemeanor child abuse and was arrested on Wednesday Oct. 27, according to court records. A short clip of the incident was posted on Facebook Wednesday morning by the parents Max Oglesby and Laura Oglesby and has thousands of views and shares. In the video, Max Oglesby said you can see Rowe pulling his son's arms back, trying to loop them and hold him by his wrists while trying to force feed him a pot pie. Max Oglesby said their son sustained symmetrical bruising around his arm.

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Oct 29, 2021
Teen arrested in connection to threat at Pender County high school

A 14-year-old was taken into custody by the Pender County deputies and charged for allegedly making a threat of mass violence towards Heide Trask High School in Rocky Point. According to a news release from the Pender County Sherriff's Office, authorities received notifications Monday night, which led to an investigation. Deputies conducted a search warrant at a home in Rocky Point and said there was no credible threat of violence towards the school. Additional information regarding the threat is not being released at this time because of an ongoing investigation.

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Oct 29, 2021
'Green Your Halloween' at the Henderson County Convenience Center throughout November

In Henderson County, residents are being encouraged not to let their pumpkins and decorative squash meet a spooky end in the landfill, but instead compost them with Henderson County Solid Waste. From Nov. 1 to Dec. 3, residents may bring items like leftover pumpkins and decorative squash to a special dumpster at the Henderson County Convenience Center. Since September 2018, county residents have deposited over 83 tons of food waste into the bins at the recycling center as part of the food waste pilot program.

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Oct 28, 2021
Man charged with murder in death of teen bystander on Sept. 3 in Fayetteville

A 21-year-old Raeford man was arrested Tuesday, Oct. 26, in the shooting of a Fayetteville teen. Jaylin Deshawn Covington is charged with first-degree murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle in the death of 16-year-old Hayle Genesis Miller. The victim was shot on Sept. 3 as a group of young people met up for a fight at a Fayetteville park. She died eight days later. Covington is was being held Wednesday morning in the Cumberland County jail without bail.

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Oct 28, 2021
Wilmington man pleads in 2018 murder case, defense looking to appeal

A Wilmington will spend 18 years in prison for a 2018 fatal shooting. Trent Williams was charged with first-degree murder and possession of a stolen firearm after 25-year-old Quayshon McRae was shot and killed in the 1600 block of Moore Plaza in Wilmington. Williams entered into an Alford plea for one count of second-degree murder. An Alford plea allows a defendant to maintain his innocence by not admitting to a crime while also avoiding going to trial.

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Oct 28, 2021
Two E.E. Smith alums start watch company dedicated to the city that gave them their start

Two alums from E.E. Smith High School in Fayetteville started the watch company SPGBK inspired by their community and their passion for education. Kwame Molden and Maurice Davis have been friends throughout school, up to undergrad at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Now, even states apart, with Molden in North Carolina and Davis in Maryland, their watch business continues to grow. SPGBK watches are now available in 100 Nordstroms stores and 50 Macy's stores nationally, including the Macy's in Cross Creek Mall. The name of the watch company comes from the positive emotions that come with that weeklong break students and teachers get in the spring.

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Oct 28, 2021
Police: Lexington couple arrested for severely injuring infant

A Lexington couple have been arrested and charged with allegedly abusing a 6-week-old, according to police. Police arrested 23-year-old Zachary Ryan Honeycutt and charged him with felony intentional child abuse causing serious bodily injuries. Also arrested is 18-year-old Destiny Alisha Watts, charged with felony negligent child abuse causing serious injury. Honeycutt allegedly shook the baby last week, causing bleeding in four different areas of its brain, according to an arrest report. The report stated Watts was charged with being grossly negligent in the care of the child and showing reckless regard for human life that resulted in serious injury to the child.

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Oct 28, 2021
Shelby resident featured on 'Good Morning America' for grocery budget hack

A Shelby woman whose budget saving plan helped get her family out of debt is getting national attention from ABC's "Good Morning America." Kim Anderson and her husband paid off all their debts including a $93,000 mortage in two years. She shared that experience in her book: "Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have." The "Good Morning America" interview was shot Oct. 15 in California. Anderson shared the frugal tips she used to wipe out her debt.

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Oct 28, 2021
A dirty record: NCDOT cleans up more roadside litter in 2021 than ever before

More garbage has been collected from North Carolina roadways in 2021 than in any previous year in the state's history, with more than two months still to go. Crews with the state Department of Transportation, along with contractors and volunteers, have picked up more than 11 million pounds of litter from roadsides, breaking the record set in 2019. That total is already half a million pounds over the 2019 record of 10.5 million pounds, according to NCDOT, marking more than $15.8 million spent on litter collection since Jan. 1.

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Oct 28, 2021
Asheville High expenditures: $11,000 for groundhogs, officials say

Another culprit of Asheville City Schools’ financial crisis has poked its head out. During the Oct. 25 Asheville City Schools Board of Education meeting, the district revealed that groundhogs at Asheville High School are causing significant damage to the campus and will cost $11,000 to remove. School superintendent Gene Freeman called the woodchucks’ presence massive and said their burrowing has likely led to a crack on the school’s tennis court. The animals are also preventing other necessary repairs by dwelling in places that need work, such as the front stairs where stones have shifted and left gaps.

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Oct 28, 2021
"The Skeletons in our Closets": Theme for this year's annual Ghostwalk

As Halloween quickly approaches, take a stroll through downtown New Bern and catch some of the city's famous ghosts and spirits and hear some scary tales from the past. The New Bern Historical Society will hold its 31st Annual Ghostwalk Oct. 28-30. This year's theme is Tales of New Bern’s Past with “The Skeletons in our Closets.” This year's event will be held entirely outdoors. Local actors will be in costume and portray spirited characters while telling stories from the past.

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Oct 28, 2021
Second man arrested in homicide outside Fayetteville restaurant

A second man was arrested Friday, Oct. 22, in a fatal shooting outside a Caribbean restaurant in Fayetteville. Jalen Rashad Everett of Laurinburg, is charged with accessory after the fact of first-degree murder in the Oct. 17 killing of 33-year-old Bruce McLeod, and shooting of 33-year-old Gavin Hale, outside the Island Flava Restaurant & Lounge. The first arrest came on Thursday, Oct. 21 when police charged 33-year-old Cornelius Magnus Davis Jr., of Laurinburg, with first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and possession of a firearm by a felon in the shooting.

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Oct 28, 2021