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home : state news : state news June 24, 2016

1/31/2014 12:01:00 AM
North Carolina News - January 31st

Wayne Howard
News Journalist


NC Flu deaths now up to 44--
North Carolina health officials released new flu numbers Thursday, saying 11 more people have died since their last report. That brings the total number of deaths from flu-related complications this winter statewide to 44. Flu complications can be particularly dangerous for high risk groups including young children, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or immune system problems.

Fort Bragg soldier found dead at his home in Hope Mills--
An 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper was found dead at his home early Tuesday morning, the military announced Thursday. He was identified as Staff Sgt. Alton Jefferson II, 36, of Lancaster, California. The cause of his death is under investigation. Jefferson was a photographer who served as a military intelligence systems maintainer/integrator with Delta Company, 127th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. He joined the Army in October 2000 and joined the 82nd Airborne February 2012. His deployments included two tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq.


Lincolnton man gets up to three years in prison for driving a moped while drunk--
A Lincolnton man has been sentenced to 23-37 months in prison for felony habitual driving while impaired. Aaron Burl Barkley, 34, was convicted this week in Catawba County Criminal Superior Court. Barkley was driving a moped near Maiden when he ran through a driver’s license checkpoint, He had a long history of convictions on both drug and alcohol charges going back to 2005.

Handicapped Cleveland County woman dies in fire--
Investigators say they believe Sharon Renee Branch was trying to escape the fire that destroyed her apartment on Oak Drive but was unable. Branch suffered from multiple sclerosis. Neighbors tried to get into the house, but the door was locked and the smoke too strong. Branch, 36, perished in the fire Wednesday evening. The fire totally gutted the duplex. The cause was still undetermined late Thursday. Branch's funeral will be Sunday at 3 PM at Polkville Baptist Church. The family will receive friends in the church fellowship hall from 1:30 until 2:45. Burial will be in the church cemetery. Branch suffered from multiple sclerosis and walking was a challenge.


FBI ups reward for information about missing girl--
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is adding to the reward offered for information in the case of missing Rowan County teenager Erica Parsons. Deron Roberts, the FBI's assistant special agent in charge, told a news conference Thursday that the agency is now offering a $25,000 reward in addition to the $10,000 already being offered by the Rowan County Sheriff's Office. Parsons was last seen in November 2011. Casey and Sandy Parsons told police they had nothing to do with the girl's disappearance and that she was living with her biological grandmother in Asheville. Police say that woman does not exist.


House fire shuts down US-321 near Lenoir--
A house fire shut down traffic on US321 near Lenoir Thursday afternoon. Nobody was home when the fire started. A passing motorist saw smoke and reported the fire. 


Science Museum, Aquariums reopen, NC Zoo remains closed--
The state’s science museum in Raleigh has reopened to the public, but the North Carolina Zoo will remain closed Friday as roads leading to the popular park in Asheboro as well as walkways in the park remain icy. The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh reopened at noon Thursday on its regular schedule. Also, the state’s three coastal aquariums at Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Fisher and Roanoke Island will reopen at 9 a.m. Friday on their regular schedules. The state-operated Jennette’s Pier also reopens for its regular hours, starting at 8 a.m. Friday. The state’s zoo will remain closed for a fourth consecutive day Friday. Staff members will determine Friday if roads accessing the zoo and sidewalks in the zoo are safe enough to accommodate visitors this weekend. An announcement about whether the zoo will be open this weekend will be made Friday. The public can learn about the zoo's daily operating status by calling the park's toll-free number at 1-800-488-0444 or by visiting the website at www.nczoo.org.


Tillis says teachers, state workers will likely get raise--
NC House Speaker Thom Tillis said Tuesday that lawmakers are planning to include raises for teachers and state workers in this year's budget. We're in ongoing discussions with the Senate and the governor," Tillis said after a meeting of the General Assembly's Government Operations Committee, an oversight group comprised of the legislature's top leaders. The group received a report forecasting larger tax revenues in 2014 compared with 2013, although economists emphasized those numbers were still subject to change. Tillis is planning to run for the US Senate. He's one of at least five Republicans who will face off in the primary to oppose Democrat Kay Hagan in November.


Girl still in critical condition after Sunday wreck--
Kira Bray, a 5-year-old from Hamptonville in Yadkin County suffered a broken neck and other injuries when a van driven by her father rear-ended a stopped vehicle on NC150 near Boiling Springs Sunday morning (Jan. 26th). She remains hospitalized in Shelby.



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