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Friday, September 18, 2015

First Drip (9/18/15): Anti-government extremists indicted after foiled plot to kill government agents

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 10:54 AM

A federal grand jury indicted an anti-government extremist from Gastonia on charges of conspiring to violate federal firearms laws and other gun and drug charges. According to an affidavit, Walter Eugene Litteral and others were convinced the Jade Helm military exercise in the southwest U.S. was a front for the government to begin enforcing martial law and they planned to lure federal agents onto a piece of land in Clover, South Carolina, and kill them with assault rifles and explosives. 

Legislators gave their final approval for a new budget that will finance the state's government through June 2017 this morning. Governor Pat McCrory has said he will sign the budget into law before a temporary spending plan currently funding the state expires tonight. A handful of Republicans negotiated the budget and it has been criticized by many Democrats. Many of the votes approving the budget were along party lines. 

The new state budget, expected to be finally approved by Gov. Pat McCrory today, will place a $500,00 cap on state funding for future light rail projects. The cap wouldn't affect extension of the current Lynx Blue Line but could stifle proposals for similar projects throughout the city. The NC Department of Transportation will spend a total of about $400 million on the city's two current light-rail projects. City leaders have explored ideas such as building another light rail that would go from Uptown to Matthews and the Union County line. 

One person was reportedly shot at Herrin Avenue and North Davidson Street in NoDa last night around 10 p.m. Police said one person was taken to Carolinas Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. No one was arrested in connection with the shooting. 

A 12-year-old autistic boy is safe at home in Union County after wandering away from home yesterday evening and spending the entire night outdoors. Police said the boy wandered off at about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and was found when he approached deputies near his home around 7 a.m. today. 

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

First Drip (9/17/15): Cyclist killed Sunday had recently escaped homelessness

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 10:35 AM

Al Gorman, the cyclist killed as the result of a chain-reaction car wreck last Sunday, had reportedly found a home just months before his death after struggling for at least seven years with homelessness. Gorman was killed at the corner of Hawthorne Lane and Parkwood Avenue, between the NoDa and Plaza Midwood neighborhoods, a corner many cyclists say is one of Charlotte's most dangerous. About 70 members of the cycling community attended a vigil for Gorman on Tuesday night, and placed a "ghost bike" at the intersection, with signs reminding drivers to slow down. 

A 3-month-old boy who was taken from his home last night has been found, according to CMPD officials, and returned to his mother. Police responded to a domestic disturbance at the boy's home last Thursday night and the mother told police his father left with him and that he was poorly clothed and in danger. Officers are still looking for the baby's father, Donte Hill Sr., who they say has an outstanding warrant for probation violation. 

The owner of a west Charlotte Red Roof Inn has been stripped of his franchise following allegations that it was used as a hub for teen prostitution, often involving human trafficking. The owner, Chandresh Patel, released a statement saying he was recently made aware of the crimes, which he said were committed in the past, and is taking action resolve the issues. Patel, however, profited from the prostitution, according to investigators. 

A 14-month-old baby who was burned in an explosion on Tuesday is still in the hospital with life-threatening injuries resulting from burns over 40 percent of her body. The infant was burned when a gas can exploded at her family's North Charlotte home while they were burning trash in the backyard. In a Facebook post from the father, he said that doctors have told him that if his daughter, Emily Hinton, does pull through she will need multiple surgeries throughout her life. 

People in Hawaii and southern California were on tsunami alert following an 8.3-magnitude earthquake in Chile yesterday. The alert was later downgraded to an advisory, as conditions did not reportedly indicate a tsunami threat. At least five people in Chile were reported killed as a result of the earthquake. 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First Drip (9/16/15): Election results are in, Democratic mayoral candidates to go into run-off

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 12:08 PM

In yesterday's mayoral primaries, Edwin Peacock took the Republican nomination for the second time in a row while Democratic candidate Jennifer Roberts and current Mayor Dan Clodfelter will enter a run-off election in October. Roberts got 35.77 percent of the vote, well short of the 40 percent needed to avoid a run-off. Clodfelter received 25.78 percent of the vote and David Howard finished third among Democrats with 23.70 percent of the vote. 

In the contested city council elections, voters sent three incumbents back to the November general elections. Winners included LaWana Mayfield, who beat challenger Warren Turner, whose seat she took in District 3 four years ago. In District 2, Al Austin fended off Democratic challenger Steven Jones and will now face Republican Justin Dunn in the November election. John Autry of District 5 won his primary, and therefore will keep his seat, as he faces no Republican opposition. 

In the at-large city council election, two incumbents, Vi Lyles and Claire Fallon, were among the four that will move ahead to the general elections. Also among the top four vote getters in the field of 12 were Julie Eiselt, founder of Neighbors for a Safer Charlotte, and James "Smuggie" Mitchell, a former city council member who ran for mayor in the Democratic primary against Patrick Cannon in 2013. 

Yesterday, the North Carolina Senate voted 33 to 16 to approve a state budget well after the fiscal year has begun. The vote was along party lines, but complaints were focused more on the way the budget was passed as opposed to what the money was spent on. Democrats pointed out that, despite ignoring budget deadlines for months, once Republicans did write out a budget, they pushed it through without giving anyone ample time to read it. The 500-page budget, negotiated by a small amount of Republican legislators, was delivered to other lawmakers for review late Monday night, just 15 hours before they were to vote on it. 

Surf City Police Chief Mike Halstead announced his retirement at an emergency meeting yesterday following posting on his personal social media a long rant against the Black Lives Matter movement in which he says blacks, white and Mexicans need police and "we don't need you," and makes references to a "murderous society," including a New Black Panther movement that he believes wants to kill whites and cops. "We are ready for you," Halsead wrote. "You take one of us and there will be 100 to step up and end you." 


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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

First Drip (9/15/15): Early voters set record in Charlotte primaries

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 11:55 AM

Voters will (hopefully) hit the polls to vote in mayoral and other municipal primaries today, but a record number of Charlotteans got it out of the way early, according to county officials. Michael Dickerson, elections director of Mecklenburg County, said 9,407 early voting ballots were cast for this year's primary. That number is a more than 50-percent increase from the 6,254 ballots cast during early voting for the 2013 primaries. 

Five people were reportedly injured in a crash between what look to be work vehicles this morning on Mt. Holly Road. According to Medic, five people were transported to Carolinas Medical Center following the wreck, one of which had serious injuries. 

CMS has contacted 7,600 job applicants to inform them that their personal information was sent to a private contractor without the applicants' consent. CMS stated this morning that an unauthorized agreement between a CMS employee and a vendor led to the data breach, which included applicants' names, addresses and Social Security numbers. 

A judge has denied bail again to a former North Charleston police officer who killed an unarmed black man while on duty in April. Michael Slager is charged with killing Walter Scott during a traffic stop for a broken taillight. An order from Circuit Judge Clifton Newman on Monday afternoon stated that evidence presented to him suggesting that Slager is a flight risk was "persuasive." 

Two students in Houston have died following a school bus crash during which the bus went "airborne" off an overpass onto the road below, according to witnesses. One female student was reportedly pronounced dead on the scene, and another died later at the scene. The cause of the accident are still under investigation. 

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Monday, September 14, 2015

First Drip (9/14/15): Sanders speaks to large crowd at Winthrop

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 11:08 AM

PHOTO BY ZACH NEESMITH
  • Photo by Zach Neesmith
Bernie Sanders spoke to a crowd of about 3,000 people at Winthrop University in Rock Hill on Saturday evening. Sanders was introduced by Dr. Cornel West and spoke for nearly two hours about wealth inequality, college affordability, mass incarceration and race relations. Sanders mentioned during his speech that the crowd was the largest he had seen during his multiple stops in South Carolina.

Today marks the second anniversary of the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell by CMPD officer Randall Kerrick. Ferrell's family is planning to visit the site of the shooting for the first time, according to reports. A candlelight vigil is planned at the site in Bradford Farms this evening, and mourners are also expected to gather at Marshall Park. 

A second person has reportedly died as a result of a wreck that happened following a police chase in west Charlotte on Friday night. Sarah Bianca Love was pronounced dead on the scene and 17-year-old Jennifer Taggart reportedly died later at the hospital, officials said. The chase began shortly after detectives received a license plate reader hit on a stolen car and police bang following the vehicle. The suspect driving the car, Kenneth Goggins, was charged with felony death by vehicle, felony serious injury by vehicle, DWI, reckless driving, felony speeding to elude and possession of a stolen vehicle. 

A 78-year-old Gastonia man has died as a result of injuries suffered during an attack in July, police said. Fletcher Campbell was reportedly homeless when a 19-year-old man attacked him by throwing a brick at his face repeatedly on July 6. A judge has charged Donald Wallace with murder. 

Lawmakers are reportedly planning to unveil a $21.75 million budget today. The new fiscal year began more than 70 days ago. The legislature is reportedly planning to fund pay for teacher assistants, whose funding will otherwise run out this Friday. They are still reportedly negotiating on tax provisions. 

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Friday, September 11, 2015

First Drip (9/11/15): Plaza Midwood residents petition against proposed development

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 10:12 AM

Plaza Midwood residents are speaking out against what they call a "cookie-cutter" development planned for the middle of the Commonwealth/Morningside neighborhood. More than 600 people have signed a petition against the development, which they say is too dense and does not fit the neighborhood's character. Five homes would need to be demolished on St. Julien Street and McKlintock Road for the project. It goes in front of city council on September 21. 

Elected officials and executives with Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont held an event yesterday at the 18-acre site of a new Goodwill Opportunity Campus, currently under construction off Wilkinson Boulevard. The campus, scheduled to open in spring 2016, will include the 16,000-foot Leon Levine Opportunity Center, which will host various resources and job training opportunities. Officials at the event announced four full-time partners that will work full-time on campus, including Charlotte Community Health Clinic, Common Wealth Charlotte, Charlotte Metro Credit Union and The Center for Community Transitions. 

Democratic mayoral candidate David Howard has reportedly raised $60,000 from the African-American community during his campaign, far surpassing the amounts raised by competitors Dan Clodfelter, Jennifer Roberts and Michael Barnes. African-Americans make up 64 percent of registered Democrats in Charlotte, and therefore play a large role in choosing a Democratic nominee during Charlotte primaries. Early voting for the primaries ends tomorrow, while election day is Tuesday, September 15. 

Strong storms last night reportedly left 1,500 Charlotte residents without power this morning. Duke Energy is still assessing the damage and did not have an estimated time this morning for the power being turned back on. 

Duke Energy finally settled a 15-year lawsuit from the federal government regarding air pollution violations at five North Carolina plants. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2000, was settled for about $5.4 million, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department. A trial was scheduled to begin next month. 

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

First Drip (9/10/15): This year's Charlotte murder total already surpasses 2014

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 10:20 AM

Just over eight months into 2015, the CMPD has already investigated more murders than in all of 2014. The homicide total in Charlotte reached 43, one more than the total for 2014, during a violent Labor Day weekend that saw five killings. Although African Americans make up one-third of Charlotte's population, they made up two-thirds of the reported murder victims. There have been 28 arrests made in connection with 2015 homicides. 

European grocery chain Lidl has confirmed it is scouting four locations to bring a store to the greater Charlotte area, including Monroe Road, Lake Norman, Indian Land and South End. An official with the company's U.S. real estate partner has said they plan to hit the market in 2018. Among the properties being pursued by Lidl is 3229 South Boulevard in South End, here they hope to build a 33,000-square-foot specialty grocery store to compete with the new Publix and the Harris Teeter planned for opening later this year. 

Duke Energy is facing strong opposition from residents in western North Carolina opposed to its plan to run a 45-mile high-voltage power line through the foothills connected to a 600-megawatt natural gas plant. In Flat Rock last week, Duke experts met with about 850 residents of the area to hear their concerns, many of them asking Duke to rethink its plans, stating they did not want the line or the 150-foot towers that would hold it. Experts said burying the line would run the costs of construction from $340 million to more than $2 billion. 

Police have arrested a man they say is responsible for shooting a man and woman in Conover last night, killing the man. Daniel Williamson, 25, faces murder and other charges after allegedly shooting Lisa Vanhoogen, who was transported to Catawba Valley Medical Center, and Michael Anthony Beltran, who was pronounced dead on the scene. Conover police said the suspect knew the victims. 

A Rock Hill man purchased a $100,000 winning scratch-off ticket at a gas station in west Charlotte, officials said. Frank Tanzi reportedly bought the $5 Mega Bucks ticket at a Sams Mart on Scott Futrell Drive. He's the second person to win the Mega Bucks top prize since August, and eight winning tickets still remain. After taxes, Tanzi took home $69,251. 

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

First Drip (9/9/15): CMPD Chief says Labor Day shootings related, 'gang-like'

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 10:51 AM

At a press conference held yesterday, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said many of the 12 shootings that occurred over Labor Day weekend appear to have been related, and were most probably committed by "gang-like" groups retaliating over recent things like "silly disagreements" between young men in night clubs. In the case of a 7-year-old shot and killed at a birthday party, Putney said police think the shooters either had the wrong address or were targeting someone who no longer lived there. 

Three top executives of United Airlines have resigned following a scandal that was reportedly the direct result of a New York Port Authority official's distaste for stopping in Charlotte on his way to his South Carolina vacation home. Officials are investigating whether United restored a direct flight between Newark and Columbia for the then-chairman of NYPA in exchange for upgrades the company wanted at Newark Liberty International Airport. 

A crane being pulled by an 18-wheeler caught fire on I-485 early this morning, snarling traffic as diesel fuel spilled across lanes of traffic. Pictures show that the entire front end of the crane was engulfed in flames at one point. The fire occurred on the outer loop of I-485 between Harris and Brookshire boulevards. 

The Burke County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in finding a 15-year-old girl who has been missing for two weeks. Police say Ashli Deann Bailey was last seen leaving her home in Connelly Springs, North Carolina in August with a family member. She has a pierced tongue, piercings with gauges in both ears, two piercings below her lip and a nose piercing.
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Kim Davis, the Kentucky town clerk who became a martyr for some conservatives after being jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was released from jail yesterday and will return to work as soon as Friday. Upon her release, she faced another court order stating she must not block any more marriage licenses from being issued or return to jail. She said she has not yet decided if she will obey the court order. 

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Drip (9/8/15): Labor Day weekend marked by violence throughout Charlotte

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 12:16 PM

A non-fatal shooting in southwest Charlotte last night wrapped up a violent Labor Day weekend in Charlotte, during which 12 people were shot and five killed, including a 7-year-old boy being shot and killed on Friday night. The most recent shooting, along Huntsmoor Drive, resulted in one victim being brought to the hospital with a life-threatening leg injury. 

The Apple Corporation has partnered with the Virginia-based Conservation Fund to protect a 3,600-acre forest in Brunswick County. The partnership was formed to protect the land, which is seen as a prime piece of land for developers along the southern border of North Carolina. It sits along the Highway 17 corridor between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. 

Officials are investigating after more than 1,000 gallons of sewage spilled into a Four Mile Creek tributary this morning. The spill, which happened near TPC Piper Glen golf course, is believed to have been caused by a grease buildup in a sewer or manhole. 

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte has announced intentions to remove a monument depicting a Confederate flag that sits in front of the Dowd YMCA to make room for renovations. The Y has reached out to local organizations The Sons of Confederate Veterans, who raised about $3,500 to have the monument installed in 1994, and United Daughters of Confederact to give them a chance to collect the marker, as the Y has stated the marker is not owned by them nor does it reference or represent its organization.

The city of Baltimore has reached a $6.4 million settlement with the family of Freddie Gray, who died of a neck injury he suffered while in police custody in April, causing unrest throughout the city. The wrongful death lawsuit settlement will still need to be approved by the city's Board of Estimates. 

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Friday, September 4, 2015

First Drip (9/4/15): Another firm joins call to knock down Moynihan's new job title

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 11:39 AM

Another large Bank of America shareholder has voiced opposition to the bank's decision to ratify its current board structure and name CEO Brian Moynihan as chairman. Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co. has joined two of the nation's largest pension firms in calling for shareholders to vote against the bank's decision in an upcoming shareholder's meeting. The meeting will take place in Charlotte on September 22. 

A CATS bus on I-77 southbound caught fire this morning during rush hour on Fort Mill. Two passengers and the driver were on the bus when a fire reportedly started in the back of the bus, near the engine. The fire mostly affected the exterior of the vehicle and nobody was injured, according to officials. 

A CMS teacher told police that an 11-year-old sixth-grader stole her car and trashed it, returning it with damage to the exterior and the interior and cigarette butts all over the floor. The teacher said the student stole her keys and walked through the parking lot hitting the key fob until he found her car. 

It's just that slow of a news day, folks. 

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