COVID Cases Up in WNC, Workers Protest for Higher Pay, Vax Lottery Friday

Buncombe County Man Guilty Of Defrauding VA

(Buncombe County, NC) -- A Buncombe County man is admitting a scheme to defraud Veterans Affairs out of nearly one-million-dollars. John Paul Cook received disability payments for 30 years after claiming his military service led to blindness. Federal investigators say he continued to have his driver's license renewed and served as an archery instructor for the Boy Scouts over that time frame. He pleaded guilty to defrauding the program on Monday.

Businesses Fined In Hendersonville Wall Collapse

(Hendersonville, NC) -- Three companies are facing fines in a deadly wall collapse in Hendersonville. This week, the Labor Department ordered Robert Crawford Masonry and Hajoca Corp to pay nearly 31-thousand-dollars each for violations connected to the accident. One man was killed and four were injured when a retaining wall on Spartanburg Highway collapsed early this year. Pinnacle Grading faces a 28-hundred-dollar fine.

COVID Hospitalizations Rise In WNC

(Asheville, NC) -- COVID hospitalizations are shooting up in the Asheville area. HCA Healthcare is reporting 24 people at Mission Hospital and Angel Medical Center were being treated for the virus yesterday. That total is more than triple the number on July 11th. Hospitalizations statewide have risen to over 600.

Workers Protest For Higher Pay In Marion

(Marion, NC) -- Some workers in Marion are pushing for a minimum wage increase. More than a dozen people protested outside the Hardee's on Highway 226 yesterday in an effort to raise base pay to 15-dollars-an-hour. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at seven-25 since 2009. Congressman Madison Cawthorn told WLOS-TV a rise in minimum wage to 15-dollars-an-hour nationally would be catastrophic.

Algae Bloom Identified In Haywood County Lake

(Haywood County, NC) -- Visitors to one Haywood County lake are being warned about potentially harmful algae bloom. The state's Department of Environmental Quality reported to the county that a bloom was identified in Waterville Lake ten days ago. The public is encouraged to avoid contact with large accumulations of algae, although boating and fishing are still allowed.

Hazy Skies In Asheville Due To Western Wildfires

(Asheville, NC) -- Smoke from western wildfires is creeping into the mountain region. A haze was visible in Asheville yesterday, thousands of miles away from dozens of fires. One of those is the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, which covers more than 600-square-miles.

Charlotte Congresswoman Helping Huntersville With More Relief Money

(Huntersville, NC) -- Congresswoman Alma Adams is spearheading an effort to provide Huntersville with more pandemic relief funding. NBC Charlotte reports the city's allotment under the American Rescue Plan Act is lower than over a dozen cities in the Carolinas that are less-populated. Adams and state Senator Natasha Marcus sent a letter to leading North Carolina lawmakers this week, stating Huntersville was short-changed. A Congressional report first estimated the city would receive 12-million-dollars more than it has been allotted.

Company Proposing Lithium Mine In Gaston County

(Gaston County, NC) -- Opposition is growing against a proposed lithium mine in Gaston County. Piedmont Lithium presented details to county commissioners last night for its 840-million-dollar plan, but it first needs proper zoning. More than 16-hundred people have signed an online petition to stop the project, citing potential water quality issues and lower property values. No vote was taken.

COVID Hospitalizations Pick Up In Charlotte, Statewide

(Mecklenburg County, NC) -- North Carolina hospitals are filling back up with patients being treated for COVID-19. There were more than 600 hospitalizations reported statewide yesterday. Both Novant and Atrium Health are seeing trends of rising hospitalizations among the unvaccinated. Around 56-percent of North Carolina adults are fully vaccinated.

Workers Protest For Higher Pay In Mint Hill

(Charlotte, NC) -- Some workers in the Charlotte-area are pushing for a minimum wage increase. A group of people protested outside a McDonald's in Mint Hill yesterday in an effort to raise base pay to 15-dollars-an-hour. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at seven-25 since 2009. Similar protests took place across the country.

Mosquito In Mecklenburg County Found With West Nile

(Mecklenburg County, NC) -- The West Nile virus has shown up in Mecklenburg County. Public health officials say a mosquito found locally last week tested positive for the virus. There are no known cases among humans. Safety measures like using an EPA-registered mosquito repellant and emptying standing water will minimize exposure to mosquitos.

ESPN's GameDay Coming To Charlotte

(Charlotte, NC) -- ESPN is heading to Charlotte for a marquee college football match-up. College GameDay will broadcast from Romare Bearden Park in uptown prior to the Georgia-Clemson game on September 4th. The Bulldogs and Tigers will play at Bank of America Stadium for the Duke's Mayo Classic. Clemson is coming off another appearance in the College Football Playoffs last season.

Wake County To File Lawsuit Against JUUL

(Wake County, NC) -- The Wake County Board of Education has voted to move forward with a plan to file a lawsuit against e-cigarette maker JUUL. The vote, taken Tuesday night, was unanimous. Wake County will become the first school district in the state to file a lawsuit against the vaping company, claiming it purposely targeted teenagers in marketing efforts by using fruit flavored e-cigarettes, endangering students' health.

Zebulon Man Dies After Being Shot Outside Vape Shop

(Zebulon, NC) -- Police in Zebulon are looking for a person of interest in connection with a shooting outside a vaping shop Tuesday. It happened just after 6 p.m. at the Best Tobacco Shop on West Gannon Avenue. Investigators say the male victim was shot in the parking lot of the business and then ran inside to ask for help. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he later died. Zebulon police have posted a photo of a possible suspect wearing a red cap and t-shirt and driving a white four-door late model sedan. Anyone with information is asked to contact Zebulon police.

School Districts Anxiously Awaiting Word About Possible Mask Mandates

(Raleigh, NC) -- North Carolina school officials could announce a new set of rules today with reference to students returning to school and the wearing of face masks. This comes amid heightened concerns over the recent increase in COVID cases statewide caused by the new Delta variant and low vaccination rates. Most Democrats are urging Governor Roy Cooper to keep the current mask mandate in place for schools. Republicans argue that the decision should be left up to the individual school boards.

Senate Republicans Exploring Possibility Of Overhauling State High School Athletic Association

(Raleigh, NC) -- A bill being debated in the North Carolina Senate would overhaul the state High School Athletic Association and replace it with a new 17-member commission. The Republican-backed proposal was considered for the first time Tuesday during a hearing of a Senate education panel. The proposed shakeup comes amidst criticism of the non-profit Association's estimated accumulation of assets that some say totals more than 42-million. Under the Senate proposal, the North Carolina Athletic Association would be replaced by a 17-member North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission. The Commission would be made up of principals, superintendents, coaches and athletic directors.

Software Company N-able Goes Public, Immediately Announces Plans To Expand

(Raleigh, NC) -- Triangle-based software developer N-able has officially become a separate publicly traded company. The announcement made on Tuesday comes after N-able recently split from SolarWinds. In a written statement, N-able said it now plans to expand its operations near Research Triangle Park in Morrisville to employ around 400 workers. The company currently has 230 employees. N-able makes software products that manage IT infrastructure of small- and medium-sized businesses.

Person Jumps Off Overpass While Evading Police

(Forsyth Co., NC) -- A man is hospitalized with serious injuries after jumping off an overpass while evading Forsyth County sheriff's deputies. The scene unfolded early yesterday morning on I-40. Deputies tried to pull over a Mercedes-Benz, but the driver sped off, reaching speeds of over 100 miles-an-hour. Deputies deflated the car's tires with stop sticks, and the driver got out and jumped off the overpass. He's expected to face numerous changes once he's released from the hospital. Guns, cash, and drugs were seized from the vehicle.

Officer Hurt In Single-Vehicle Wreck

(Asheboro, NC) -- An officer is hurt after a single-vehicle wreck in Asheboro. It happened yesterday afternoon on the 12-hundred-block of Fayetteville, near the Food Lion shopping complex. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says the officer was responding to a call when a vehicle pulled out in front of their cruiser. The officer tried to avoid the crash and hit a utility pole. The officer was not badly hurt. An investigation is ongoing.

Greensboro Forms Transgender Task Force

(Greensboro, NC) -- Greensboro's newly formed Transgender Task Force will hold its first meeting today. The task force was created to help address the needs of transgender people. It's made up of four committees including Health and Community Wellness, Local Process and Policy Change, Housing Discrimination and Youth Involvement. The virtual meeting will take place from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Randolph Co. Schools Make Masks Optional

(Randolph Co., NC) -- The Randolph County Board of Education says masks will be optional in the fall. Board members passed the resolution yesterday, saying it does "not violate any school rules." The statewide mask mandate ended on June 11th. The CDC has also stated that people who are fully vaccinated can go without a mask in most settings.

NC COVID-19 Lottery Set For Today

(Raleigh, NC) -- North Carolina will hold its third COVID-19 vaccine lottery today. It's a chance for state residents to win one-million dollars and a college scholarship. Anyone who has had at least one dose is eligible. Winners from the first two Summer Cash drawings were from the Piedmont Triad. We won't know today's winners for another week or so. The fourth and final drawing will be held on August 4th.

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