Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. EDT

June 12, 2018 - 12:00 am

HOG SMELLS-LAWSUITS

No. 2 hog state moves to greatly help agribusiness in suits

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Lawmakers in the country's No. 2 hog-raising state are pushing ahead with protection for agribusiness by all but blocking neighbors who suffer nuisances from suing farm operations.

A North Carolina House committee on Tuesday approved the proposal that was unveiled and passed the Senate in the past week.

Supporters say sharply restricting nuisance lawsuits against agribusinesses will keep alive rural towns that turned to livestock after the tobacco and textile collapsed.

Opponents say nuisance lawsuits are one of the last tools left to force change from an industrial-scale hog industry that hasn't changed despite decades of complaints about open-air waste pits emptied by spraying on fields.

A federal jury recently hit pork giant Smithfield Foods with $51 million in penalties after neighbors complained for years about smells and other nuisances.

TRANSPORTATION DEBT

Road-building debt bill approved by N Carolina legislature

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A method to accelerate local and regional road-building projects in North Carolina by authorizing up to $3 billion in debt has made it through the General Assembly.

The legislation that permits the borrowing is heading to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's desk following Tuesday's House vote. Cooper is expected to sign the bill, which passed the Senate last week.

Cooper's transportation department asked the Republican-led General Assembly to permit the issuance of what's called "special indebtedness." The borrowing is not subject to a voter referendum and could commit the state to additional debt payments over the next 25 years. It would be repaid through dedicated transportation taxes and DMV fees.

Rep. John Torbett says the bill will keep road-building levels stable while lawmakers ultimately locate new revenue sources.

TEXTILE PLANT CLOSING

Company to close North Carolina plant, eliminating 63 jobs

(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)

BOONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina company says it will close a textile plant later this month, eliminating 63 jobs.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported Parkdale Mills said it will close the yarn-making plant in Boonville by June 29.

The Gastonia-based company said the phasing out of jobs would begin immediately with departments closing as production ends.

The company cited "business reasons" for the decision. It did not offer details for the explanation. The company said some employees may be offered jobs at other Parkdale plants.

The company has nearly two dozen domestic plants, including locations in Lexington, Sparta, Thomasville and Walnut Cove.

Bobby Todd with the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce said Surry Community College is helping employees, and the partnership will assist Parkdale in finding a future use for the plant.

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OFFICER FIRED

Police officer in S Carolina fired after N Carolina arrest

FORT MILL, S.C. (AP) — A police officer in South Carolina has been fired after authorities in North Carolina say she was charged with drug possession and driving while intoxicated earlier this month.

Fort Mill Police Chief Jeff Helms said he fired 55-year-old Tanya Ervin-Leonhardt on June 3, one day after she was arrested about 45 miles (72 kilometers) away in Cherryville, North Carolina.

Cherryville Police Chief Cam Jenks told media outlets Ervin-Leonhardt was pulled over after someone reported her passing other cars recklessly and yelling at least one other driver.

Jenks says officers smelled alcohol on Ervin-Leonhardt's breath and she refused to take a sobriety test. Officers also found 12 grams of marijuana in her car.

Ervin-Leonhardt worked for Fort Mill Police for 16 years. It wasn't known if she had a lawyer.

STATE BUDGET-COOPER

N Carolina budget bill law as House completes veto override

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina General Assembly Republicans have overridden Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the state budget for the second year in a row.

The House completed the override Tuesday with a vote of 73-44 after floor debate. The Senate voted to override last week, the day after Cooper issued his veto. Republicans margins in both chambers are wide enough that they can override and veto if they remain united.

Cooper complained the GOP budget didn't do enough for public education, teacher pay and the environment. Republicans countered that Cooper wanted to spend too much in his own proposal. The bill adjusts the second year of the two-year budget and largely takes effect July 1.

This is the 11th override of Cooper's 14 vetoes since he took office in early 2017.

KAYAKER'S BODY FOUND

Body of kayaker recovered from North Carolina lake

GRAHAM, N.C. (AP) — The body of a kayaker has been recovered from a North Carolina lake.

News outlets reported that a search crew found the body of 21-year-old Joseph Taylor Smith of Graham was found Monday afternoon in Saxapahaw Lake.

Smith had been missing since Sunday evening.

Witnesses told Alamance County sheriff's deputies that Smith and several friends were on the lake in a kayak when it overturned. They say Smith decided to swim to shore. He was not wearing a life jacket.

A witness saw Smith go under the water and he did not resurface.

OFFICER ARRESTED

S Carolina officer fired after DWI arrest in N Carolina

(Information from: The Herald, http://www.heraldonline.com)

FORT MILL, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina police officer who was arrested in North Carolina has been fired.

Fort Mill Police Chief Jeff Helms tells The Herald that 55-year-old Tanya Moore Ervin-Leonhardt was fired June 3, a day after her arrest on charges including driving while impaired, drug possession and illegally carrying a gun.

Cherryville Police Chief Cam Jenks says officers responding to reported careless driving "could smell the odor of alcohol on her breath." She identified herself as an off-duty officer and refused to take a sobriety test. Police found marijuana and paraphernalia in her car.

Jenks says concealed carry permit holders aren't allowed to carry concealed weapons with alcohol in their systems.

Helms says Ervin-Leonhardt was a desk officer who joined the department in 2002.

It's unclear whether she has a lawyer.

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DEPUTY SHOOTING

Sheriff: Deputy shot N Carolina man who pointed gun

ELKIN, N.C. (AP) — Authorities say a sheriff's deputy shot a North Carolina man who pointed a gun at an officer.

News outlets cite a release from the Surry County Sheriff's Office that says deputies responded to a reported disturbance at a home on Monday. They encountered 36-year-old Herbert Charles Kipp, who the release says pointed a long gun at a deputy.

He was subsequently shot, but the release doesn't specify which deputy shot him.

Kipp was treated and released at a hospital, before being charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon on a government official.

It's unclear whether he has a lawyer.

The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.

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