State News Briefs: Aug. 14

By: Associated Press

Meal debts paid for students in North Carolina school system

GREENSBORO — An anonymous donor has ensured that some students in one North Carolina school system will be able to get a meal.

The News & Record of Greensboro reports an anonymous donor paid off the outstanding charges for students at Guilford County Schools in High Point.

School board chairwoman Deena Hayes-Greene says the donation totals $10,500, and adds that she hopes others will chip in to eliminate the rest of the debt across the school system, which totals approximately $35,000.

Families whose meal balances have been paid will receive a letter letting them know they don’t owe the district any money.

Information from: News & Record,

Lawsuit challenges judicial elections in NC’s largest county

RALEIGH — A lawsuit challenging the new way of electing District Court judges in North Carolina’s largest county says the law divides the county into two predominant racial groups and sorts the voters into districts by race.

The action challenges a law passed in 2018 that puts Mecklenburg County’s 21 District Court judgeships into eight districts, meaning the judges are no longer elected countywide. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill, and legislators overrode his veto.

The plaintiffs ask that the law be declared unconstitutional for several possible reasons, including that it violates the Voting Rights Act.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Wake County by former Appeals Court Judge Robert Hunter. Defendants include the State Board of Elections, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate leader Phil Berger and Cooper.

UWGB chancellor leaving to take post at University of Akron

MADISON, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller is leaving to take over as president at the University of Akron.

UW-Green Bay announced the move Wednesday. Miller will officially step down from his post at UW-Green Bay at the end of September.

Miller took over as chancellor in August 2014 after serving as chancellor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. During his stint at UW-Green Bay he established the Richard J. Resch School of Engineering. He led the university to four straight years of increasing enrollment.

UW System President Ray Cross issued a statement calling Miller an effective leader.

Hundreds of NC transportation workers to be laid off

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s Transportation Department says it’ll lay off hundreds of workers to help cover the ballooning cost of storm damage repairs and legal expenses.

News outlets report that layoffs will include contractual and temporary laborers such as those who patch potholes, inspect construction sites and review highway plans.

Chief Operating Officer Bobby Lewis said NCDOT is reviewing more than 1,000 positions, although he said the exact number of layoffs or how much will be saved from them isn’t clear.

Lewis said NCDOT considers the move temporary with hopes to rehire some workers next year.

The cost saving measure comes as two massive expenses weigh on the department’s budget — about $300 million in weather-related costs and what’s projected to be $1 billion in legal fees for settling lawsuits.

NC doctor found guilty of illegally prescribing opioids

NEW BERN — A jury has convicted a North Carolina sports medicine doctor of illegally distributing opioids through a cash-only business.

The Justice Department says the jury handed down Sanjay Kumar’s verdict Monday on 13 counts, including illegal distribution of oxycodone, money laundering and tax evasion.

Prosecutors said Kumar wrote about 9,500 prescriptions for addictive opiate pain killers and other drugs between 2011 and 2016. The News & Observer reports witnesses said Kumar wrote prescriptions without examining patients in a cash-only business.

North Carolina Medical Board records show Kumar’s license expired in 2017 and wasn’t renewed.

The Medical Board also scheduled an October hearing to consider accusations that two of Kumar’s patients died from overdoses under his care.

Kumar faces sentencing in January.

Information from: The News & Observer,

Conversation starters ready to go on ’ReCONNECT NC Day

RALEIGH — Looking for substantial communication that doesn’t involve cellphones or social media? North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues is offering ways to sit down and converse about weighty topics while building positive relationships.

The object of Wednesday’s “ReCONNECT NC Day” is to try and build new bridges as the divisive arguments of the 2020 presidential elections approach.

The “Civic Conversations” like those being held in Charlotte, Greenville, Wilson, Elkin and Wilkesboro will emphasize listening first to understand the views of others. A Cary barbershop is hosting a discussion with police officers. The group Teach for America is involved in a Rocky Mount community conversation.

These meetings are part of a three-year institute initiative designed to respond to what it calls the increasing disconnect among North Carolina residents.

North Carolina man sought in pregnant woman’s death

CHARLOTTE — Police in North Carolina are searching for a man wanted in the death of a woman who they say was 24 weeks pregnant.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have charged 35-year-old Edward Silk Garner Sr. with offenses including murder in the death of 28-year-old Alesha Shantel Summers. Garner had not been apprehended as of Tuesday evening.

Police also say he took his two children from the scene, and left with Edward Silk Garner Jr., who voluntarily came to police headquarters on Tuesday morning after seeing his photo on various media outlets.

Police say the two children were found safe with relatives at separate locations. Officers later found the car belonging to the elder Garner.

North Carolina agency ends bridge project over funding

WILMINGTON — The North Carolina Department of Transportation has stopped working on a bridge project that didn’t score high enough on a state improvement plan to receive funding.

The StarNews reports the agency announced Tuesday that is now ending planning and design work on the Cape Fear Crossing, which would’ve added a fourth Wilmington-area crossing to the Cape Fear River. The estimated $1 billion bridge was first pitched over two decades ago and has been caught up in heated debate ever since.

The idea that the river needed another crossing was strongly supported by area residents, but the exact location of the bridge caused neighborhood-level backlash. Residents complained that a new bridge could ruin the quiet pace of their neighborhoods while officials argued that it would help the region better handle growth.

Information from: The StarNews,

Associated Press