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Associated Press

Posted on September 28, 2013 at 8:01 AM

Updated Saturday, Sep 28 at 8:01 AM

FRACKING-GRANT REJECTED

NC water chief defends rejection of federal grant

(Information in the following story is from: WRAL-TV, http://www.wral.com )

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's top water quality regulator is defending his rejection of federal grant money intended to help the state monitor environmental impacts on streams and wetlands caused by drilling for natural gas.

WRAL-TV of Raleigh reported Friday that Division of Water Resources director Tom Reeder spoke before a meeting of the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission. He said the $580,000 in grants he turned down from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would have been useless to regulators because they would have tested only surface water, not groundwater.

That position was roundly criticized by a coalition of environmental and conservation groups concerned about the potential for harm from North Carolina's plans to allow energy companies to drill for gas natural using hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

PITT COUNTY-SEGREGATION TRIAL

Court assigns Pitt County schools unitary status

(Information in the following story is from: The Daily Reflector, http://www.reflector.com )

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The former superintendent of Pitt County Schools says the decision by a judge to release the system from a federal desegregation order bring closure to her tenure.

The Daily Reflector of Greenville reports that Beverly Emory said she feels like she did her job and can move on.

Senior U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard ruled that the school system has eliminated the "vestiges of past discrimination." The case centered on whether Pitt County Schools should be released from a 1970 federal court desegregation order and if the 2011-12 redistricting plan was legal considering it still was under that order at the time it was imposed.

A group of black parents wanted the court to reverse the plan, which they said effectively re-segregated several county schools.

WHOOPING COUGH DEATH

NC DHHS reports infant death from whooping cough

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — State officials are reporting North Carolina's first death from whooping cough in 2013.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Friday that a 3-week-old from Transylvania County died from pertussis. No additional details were made available.

Acting State Health Director Dr. Robin Cummings said infants cannot begin vaccination against whooping cough until they are 2 months old. She said even young children are not fully protected until they have finished a series of vaccinations.

Cummings said it's important that anyone who lives with or is around a baby should be vaccinated. DTaP is a vaccine that helps children younger than age 7 develop immunity to diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. Tdap is a booster immunization given at age 11 or older that offers extended protection.

MEDICAID DIRECTOR

DHHS head Wos names acting NC Medicaid director

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The head of North Carolina's health agency is picking a registered nurse and three-year department veteran to run the division that manages the state's $13 billion Medicaid program.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos said Friday that Sandy Terrell will lead the Division of Medical Assistance. She replaces Medicaid director Carol Steckel, who is leaving her post after eight months to take a job with a Florida-based company that specializes in government-sponsored Medicaid services.

Terrell will be the Medicaid program's acting director after Steckel's last day on Oct. 11. Terrell has worked in the Medicaid division since 2010.

Steckel was seen as a central player in proposals by Wos and Gov. Pat McCrory to shift operations of the government health care program for the poor toward private companies.

MAYBERRY FESTIVAL

Mount Airy celebrates Mayberry at annual festival

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina town that inspired "The Andy Griffith Show" is bringing Mayberry to life at a weekend festival.

Mount Airy is hosting its 24th annual Mayberry Days festival. It started Thursday and continues through Sunday.

This year's festival features guest appearances from actors on the show and a bluegrass concert honoring musician Doug Dillard, who played one of the "Darling Boys" on several episodes.

Already, the festival has included the donation to the Andy Griffith Museum of a jumpsuit worn by actor George Lindsey, who played Goober. Lindsey wore the jumpsuit on the show while working at Wally's Service Station.

Saturday's schedule includes the Mayberry Days Parade and various contests such as checkers, Mayberry trivia, an apple peel-off and a pork chop sandwich eating contest.

OUTDOOR HERITAGE

NC Wildlife Commission events honor outdoor life

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's Wildlife Resources Commission is marking the state's hunting and fishing heritage with free events at a half-dozen locations around the state.

The activities Saturday vary at each event and include fishing with bait and tackle provided, shooting a bow and arrow, observing live reptiles and birds of prey, and identifying aquatic insects. The events are scheduled in Raleigh, Corolla, Fayetteville, Nashville, Winton, and the Pisgah Forest near Brevard.

A survey this year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Census Bureau survey showed that $3 billion was spent in North Carolina during 2011 on fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching activities.

NC STATE-GIFT

NC State University receives $50 million gift

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State University has received the largest single contribution in the school's history, a $50 million gift aimed at funding its Park Scholarships programs.

Chancellor Randy Woodson announced the gift from the Park Foundation on Friday.

A statement from the school said the gift, combined with additional donor support, enables an endowment to provide income to attract the brightest minds to N.C. State.

The Park Scholarships program was established in 1996. It annually selects approximately 45 scholars from across the state and around the nation. It provides a four-year scholarship, a computer stipend, enrichment grants, specialized faculty mentoring and a variety of learning opportunities.

The program includes many formal opportunities for scholars to provide service on campus, in the community, across the state, and throughout the world.

JEWELRY THEFT RING

Va. man sentenced for role in jewelry theft ring

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for his role in a violent, multi-million dollar jewelry theft ring.

Federal prosecutors say 34-year-old Luis Carlos Muchado was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk for the ring that operated out of Richmond.

According to court documents, co-defendant 37-year-old Alexander Cuadros-Garcia of Colombia led the group that stole more than $4.6 million in jewelry from victims in Virginia and at least four other states including New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland.

Most of the robberies involved damaging car windows and threatening victims at knife-point.

Cuadros-Garcia and Muchado were charged along with six other members of ring in March 2012.

Prosecutors say Muchado pleaded guilty in April to racketeering charges. Cuadros-Garcia previously pleaded guilty for his role and will be sentenced in October.

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