Daily Dose

A runoff election, particularly in a congressional or legislative district, is neatly defined and should be simple for the candidates. There’s little guessing about who is likely to vote – they’ve already identified themselves – down to the household – by voting in the initial primary. And, there aren’t so many people, or such an extensive geographic spread, that there is difficulty in reaching out personally to nearly every voter. Decent polling and get-out-the-vote efforts can identify just who voted for which candidate. And, these efforts can also identify which voters who may not have voted for the candidates in the runoff, would be likely to shift.

So, on Tuesday, what happened to Phil Berger Jr. -- A proven vote-getter as winner in a DA election in Rockingham County who had the big-GOP money and connections to the state’s most powerful Republican, his dad Senate President ProTem Phil Berger? Well, to paraphrase the Bard -- if he were a campaign consultant or Fox analyst: “The fault, dear Philip, is not in our stars. But in get-out-the-vote.” And Berger’s got up and went somewhere else. Mark Walker is the GOP nominee in the district state Sen. Berger likely designed for his son to inherit.

In the May primary, where Berger led the crowded field of nine candidates with 34 percent of the vote, 44,136 ballots were cast in the GOP primary – about 25 percent of the registered Republicans in the 6th District. In the runoff earlier this week, turnout in the district dropped to 17 percent of the Republicans. In May Berger got 15,127 votes. By July, 2,177 of the folks who’d voted for him before decided they had something better to do than vote for their candidate – Berger got just 12,550 votes. In Rockingham County, his home, Berger wasn’t even able to capture the same number of votes in July as he received in May – dropping 603 votes to 2,163. Walker carried the county with 2438 votes.

Where the greatest difference came was in Guilford County, which accounted for 55 percent of the votes cast on Tuesday’s district primary (compared to 49 percent in May). Now, it didn’t hurt Walker that Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes endorsed him in the runoff. In May, Berger narrowly carried Guilford County with 6,115 votes. By July, his support (6,101 votes) didn’t grow a bit. But Walker’s vote exploded – from 5,909 in May to 11,286 votes this week.

The N.C. Board of Elections will soon certify Walker as the winner of the 6th District GOP primary – but look to the campaign finance reports Berger’s campaign will file to see real winners – his campaign consultants who may not have delivered a winner but walked off with big fees from the big-spending campaign.

EPA suspends Dan River coal ash removal efforts (Greensboro News & Record) -- Federal and state authorities reached a milestone recently in calling at least a temporary halt to coal ash removal efforts linked to this winter’s Dan River spill. Officials suspended those efforts after removing about 3,000 tons of mixed ash and sediment from three, sandbar-like deposits along the river and from water treatment plants in two, downstream Virginia cities, Danville and South Boston. Danville emerged as the epicenter of the spill’s impact, about 20 miles downstream from Duke Energy’s retired Dan River Steam Station near Eden, where as much as 39,000 tons of ash escaped through a ruptured pipe Feb. 2.

Dan River Cleanup Work Wrapped Up (Dredging Today) -- Duke Energy has completed cleanup work along the Dan River just upstream of the Schoolfield Dam in Danville, Va. Completion of the work was reviewed and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since the operation began on May 6, approximately 2,500 tons of coal ash and river sediment have been removed from this location. Crews and equipment were staged at Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville for the past three months. The company expects equipment demobilization and restoration activities in the park to continue for the next two weeks, with plans to return the park to the public in late July. Schedules are subject to change due to weather and work conditions at the site. As part of restoration efforts at the park, Duke Energy will repair and repave portions of the parking lot and reseed grass areas. In consultation with the city of Danville, the company will delay major plantings such as trees and shrubbery until the fall.

Coal ash, sediment moved to Person County landfill (WTVD-TV) -- At least 2,500 tons of coal ash and sediment removed from the Dan River are now in a Person County landfill, which completes three months of clean-up following the third largest coal ash spill in U.S. history. Duke Energy announced Wednesday that it had completed the massive spill and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reviewed and approved the work.

Duke Energy: Cleanup Along Dan River Complete (WFMY-TV) -- Duke Energy claims its completed its work along the Dan River just upstream of the School field Dam in Danville, VA. The company says it removed nearly 2,500 tons of coal ash and river sediment from the area. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviewed and approved the completed work. The state and other federal agencies also over saw the cleanup. Crews and equipment were staged at the Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville for the last three months. Duke Energy hopes to have the park back up and running by the end of July.

Duke Energy completes Dan River ash cleanup (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Duke Energy says it has completed the removal of 2,500 tons of coal ash and sediment from the Dan River, just upstream from the Schoolfield Dam in Danville, Va. The work was reviewed and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is part of the utility’s effort to clean up deposits of ash left along the river after a ruptured stormwater pipe spewed up to 39,000 tons of ash from a waste lagoon at the Dan River Steam Station in February. Duke has already removed about 500 tons of ash and sediment from water-treatment facilities in Danville and in South Boston, Va., as well as from areas of the river near the Dan River power plant and Town Creek, two miles downstream from the plant.

Duke Energy completes cleanup work along the Dan River (Duke Energy News Release) -- Duke Energy has completed cleanup work along the Dan River just upstream of the Schoolfield Dam in Danville, Va. Completion of the work was reviewed and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since the operation began onMay 6, approximately 2,500 tons of coal ash and river sediment have been removed from this location. Crews and equipment were staged at Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville for the past three months. The company expects equipment demobilization and restoration activities in the park to continue for the next two weeks, with plans to return the park to the public in late July. Schedules are subject to change due to weather and work conditions at the site. As part of restoration efforts at the park, Duke Energy will repair and repave portions of the parking lot and reseed grass areas. In consultation with the city of Danville, the company will delay major plantings such as trees and shrubbery until the fall. Duke Energy is working with the city of Danville to identify future opportunities for additional enhancements at the park such as improved river and fishing access areas. … To learn more about cleanup operations along the Dan River, visit www.duke-energy.com/dan-river.

Winner of GOP contest in NC promoted outsider role (AP) — A former Baptist minister who knocked off the son of one of North Carolina's most powerful politicians in a Republican primary for Congress did so in part by cultivating an outsider's image.

Analysis: ‘Business as usual’ exasperates voters (Greensboro News & Record) -- Mark Walker’s genuineness resonated throughout the 6th Congressional District, political observers say.

6th District Congressional Candidates Hard at Work After Runoff (TWCN-TV) -- Republican Mark Walker and Democrat Laura Fjeld were gearing up their campaigns the day after the Tuesday runoff.

Ex-Im Bank creates political divisions in the Carolinas (McClatchy Newspapers) -- Few people use the Export-Import Bank or even know what it is, but suddenly a government agency which helps promotes American businesses that want to sell products overseas has landed in the center of an unusual political tussle. The Export-Import Bank of the United States divides North Carolina Senate candidates Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan. Tillis, a Republican, opposes it. Hagan, the incumbent Democratic senator, supports it. But it’s not a typical partisan split. Republican lawmakers nationwide are divided over whether Congress should renew the bank’s charter by a Sept. 30 deadline.

Senate Dems' Hobby Lobby bill fails to move forward (Reuters) -- An attempt by US Senate Democrats to override the Supreme Court’s controversial birth control ruling failed to muster enough votes to move forward yesterday, but lawmakers vowed to keep pressing the issue heading into the midterm elections. Senators, including three Republicans, voted 56-43 for the bill, which would bar employers from discriminating against female employees in coverage of preventive health services, including contraception. That was short of the 60-vote hurdle needed to move the bill forward. But Senate Democratic leaders promised to bring the contraception issue up again. … N.C. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat who faces one of the toughest re-election contests this year against Republican state lawmaker Thom Tillis, has made the issue a key part of her campaign, spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said “Kay’s excited to know that women are backing her and are spending time volunteering, knocking on doors,” Weiner said. “It’s certainly drawn attention and put it on the radar of North Carolina women that there is a contrast in this race when it comes to access to contraception.”

Dems target women with bills on contraception, pay (AP) — Democrats and Republicans are fervently pursuing a batch of doomed bills in Congress because they target a coveted prize in the Nov. 4 elections: female voters.

Arrowood to run for Court of Appeals this fall (Q Notes) -- Former N.C. Court of Appeals Judge John Arrowood announced Tuesday he will run in this November’s election to fill the seat of retiring Chief Judge John Martin. A special candidate filing period will be held due to Martin’s retirement. No primary will be held and all candidates will run together in November. “I want to take this opportunity to thank Judge John Martin for his years of service to the people of North Carolina,” Arrowood said in a release. “I am honored to have the opportunity to put my experience before the voters in asking them to allow me to take this seat on the Court.”

Financial disclosures show net worth of WNC’s congressional reps (Carolina Public Press) -- Each year, members of both chambers are required by law to disclose the details of their assets and liabilities in an effort to deter perceptions of any conflict of interest. Inside: A Carolina Public Press analysis of at U.S. Reps. Foxx, McHenry and Meadows’ reports.

2014 electorate to be whiter than in 2012. Here are Senate races where it matters (Washington Post) -- Kay Hagan, brace yourself.

SHORT SESSION: DAY 65; Overtime 15, $850,000
Common Core elimination bill moves forward in N.C. (AP) — The Common Core curriculum standards that dictate what's taught in grade school classrooms across the state are on their way out.

McCrory to sign bill replacing Common Core (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A compromise bill repealing and replacing the state’s Common Core education curriculum passed the House on Wednesday and is on its way to the governor, who says he will sign it into law. The House passed the legislation 71-34. The Senate approved it last week. “I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards,” Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement. “It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards. No standards will change without the approval of the State Board of Education.”

Common Core on way out in North Carolina (Wilmington Star-News) -- McCrory to sign bill passed by House, Senate

Governor to Sign Bill Aimed at Reviewing Common Core Standards (TWCN-TV) -- The bill, aimed at replacing the state's Common Core education standards, passed in the House Wednesday. Common Core will remain in place this coming school year and until the new standards are complete.

North Carolina On Its Way To Replacing Common Core (WUNC-FM) -- The NC House gave final approval to a measure on Wednesday that would review and change the Common Core standards. The bill is now before Governor Pat McCrory, who says he will sign it. Lawmakers have argued that they want to rewrite the English and Math standards to better suit North Carolina students. They say they’re responding to critics and parents who have complained that the standards are flawed and academically deficient.

N.C. House Passes Bill to Consider Common Core Repeal, McCrory Will Sign (Voter Update Magazine) -- The Republican-led N.C. House on Wednesday voted 71-34 to adopt a measure that would review and possibly replace Common Core standards in North Carolina, sending the bill to the governor.

Senate, House at odds over future of Medicaid (AP) -- Senate Republicans offered a Medicaid overhaul on Wednesday that’s more sweeping than a House plan because it would recruit private managed-care companies to coordinate patient services and shift North Carolina’s Medicaid agency to a new department. The proposal unveiled in a Senate committee also would accelerate dramatically the reform process compared to the House timeline, which envisioned a majority of the Medicaid recipients treated under its model by mid-2020.

Senate's proposal for Medicaid overhaul draws criticism (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A new Senate plan to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program drew immediate fire from doctors and hospitals who do not like that the proposal would open the state to commercial managed care for people using the government insurance. The legislature is trying to change Medicaid so the state knows each year about how much the program will cost. The $13 billion program that covers about 1.7 million low-income children, select parents, disabled and elderly people has run over budget the last four years. Legislators say Medicaid absorbs money they’d rather spend on other priorities.

Senate Lawmakers Unveil Details Of Medicaid Plan (WUNC-FM) -- Lawmakers in the N.C. Senate have proposed a plan that sheds more light on how they’d like to manage the state's Medicaid program. But it differs significantly from plans put forward by the House and by Gov. Pat McCrory. The Senate’s proposal would allow hospital and doctor-led health plans to see Medicaid patients as well as managed care plans run by insurance companies. It’s no surprise that lawmakers in the state Senate want to bring in managed care organizations to take care of Medicaid patients. They believe using such groups to treat the state’s low-income population will help decrease the Medicaid budget shortfalls that have bedeviled the state for years. But as Sen. Ralph Hise explained this morning, the Senate’s proposal would require participating organizations to be up and running by 2018.

New Senate Medicaid plan rankles docs, hospitals (WRAL-TV) -- Senators want to create a new agency to run the state's Medicaid health insurance agency for the poor and disabled and want to clear the way for managed care companies to participate. Doctors groups and the McCrory administration have objected to the plan.

Senate plan to reform, restructure Medicaid program (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The state Senate revealed details today about its proposal to privatize the state Medicaid program, including fleshing out its plan to create a Department of Medical Benefits. Stripping the Medicaid program from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has been a key point of the Senate’s budget proposal, and remains the focus of the third edition of House Bill 1181.

2 appeals making way through court on teacher tenure (Greensboro News & Record) -- “This is a lengthy process,” Ann McColl, an attorney for N.C. Association of Educators, said of the legal proceedings.

Crowd funding bill clears Senate Committee (WRAL-TV) -- North Carolina start-up companies would be able to sell up to $2 million in unregistered securities to in-state residents under a bill that cleared the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. The same bill also contains a provision that encourages investment in economically distressed areas.

Compromise on NC general's qualifications rejected (AP) — The state House has taken the unusual step of rejecting a compromise with the Senate to adjust the qualifications necessary to become the lead uniformed officer of the North Carolina National Guard.

Brock seeks Davie, Yadkin counties fracking research funds in budget (WGHP-TV) – Republican State Sen. Andrew Brock has been under fire after asking to add $1 million to the state’s proposed budget in order to gather test data regarding hydro fracturing, or fracking, in Davie and Yadkin counties. However, Sen. Brock says he’s not asking for the money to promote fracking in the counties, instead, he says he wants to protect the land in case fracking does happen there. This came last month, shortly after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into effect allowing fracking in the state. “We don’t want it. I mean, I have never talked to anybody who wanted that,” said Tommy Cumby, of Yadkin County.

Sterilized women may get reparations reprieve in N.C. (Chicago Tribune/Bloomberg News) -- A Democratic legislator in North Carolina is fighting to give people forcibly sterilized by the state four decades ago more time to file for compensation under a 2013 law that gave them a year to come forward. Fewer than half the estimated 1,800 living sterilization victims, most of them poor, black women, filed claims by the June 30 deadline. The state is closing the door on the rest, a stance that undermines the first and only eugenics reparations in the United States, said State Rep. Larry Hall, a 58-year-old who represents Durham. "It's shameful that we would know we damaged these people like we did and not do everything possible to make up for it," Hall said. "These were horrific acts committed by the state. It would be laughable, if it wasn't so sad."

NC Senate seeking to limit sales tax rates (AP) — North Carolina counties would be limited in the sales taxes they could charge in a bill that surfaced Wednesday in the Senate.

Senate bill would scuttle November sales tax referendum (Charlotte Observer) -- A state Senate committee passed a bill on Wednesday that would scuttle a November referendum to raise Mecklenburg County’s sales tax rate by a quarter-penny, largely for teacher pay raises.

Senate seeks to curb local tax use (WRAL-TV) -- A new Senate proposal would give counties more leeway to raise sales taxes - but ban them from using that revenue to meet education and transportation needs at the same time.

McCrory gets bill keeping BRAC details secret (Fayetteville Observer) -- Legislation to shield from the public's eyes the federal government's plans and ideas to close or expand military bases in North Carolina unanimously passed the General Assembly on Wednesday. The bill, called the Military Lands Protection Act, now awaits Gov. Pat McCrory's signature.

NC Senate approves moped regulations bill (AP) — Whether North Carolina will require moped drivers to carry insurance remains a sticking point in a bill to create new regulations for the motorized scooters.

Bundle of criminal law changes clears Senate Rules (WRAL-TV) -- The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday approved the latest omnibus bill of changes to criminal laws, including provisions in the wake of the April kidnapping of the father of a Wake County prosecutor.

Rucho denies tax change aimed at Mecklenburg (Charlotte Business Journal) -- The co-chair of the state Senate finance committee, who also represents Mecklenburg County, said Wednesday that a planned referendum on higher local sales taxes wasn't the impetus for a state law that would make an increase impossible here.

Teacher raises could cost local taxpayers (WRAL-TV) -- If the state base salary goes up for teachers, the local supplement, funded by county taxpayers will theoretically go up.

DON’T BET ON IT: House eyes July 25 exit (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The NC House on Wednesday filed a bill calling for an end to the short session on July 25. But the General Assembly runs on its own concept of time.

Clay Aiken fundraising picks up (Fayetteville Observer) -- Clay Aiken raised more than $450,000 for his campaign to unseat Rep. Renee Ellmers from April through June.

McCrory spins selection and says he will review poet laureate process (AP) — North Carolina's governor, facing criticism that he bypassed a traditional selection process in choosing a poet laureate with only two self-published books to her name, said Wednesday he seeks to give opportunities to those who aren't part of "elite groups."

N.C. Governor Causes Controversy With Poet Laureate Appointment (NPR) -- North Carolina's governor has announced that Valerie Macon would be the state's next poet laureate. Macon works fulltime at the state's Department of Health and Human Services. The literary community is not happy with the selection because the governor bypassed normal channels and the advice of the literary community.

McCrory says poet laureate position shouldn't be limited to cultural elites (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In defending his choice of a self-published poet to represent North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory said the poet laureate position shouldn't be limited to cultural elites.

McCrory advisor says future of NC schools 'bright' (WNCN-TV) -- Despite the growing concern over the teacher turnover rate in North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory's senior education advisor Eric Guckian says the governor's administration plans to turn the tide. Half-way through the school year, Wake County Public Schools saw a 40 percent increase in teacher turnover, which means the school district has 1,500 vacancies to fill in a force of 10,000. A lot of that turnover has been attributed to frustrations over flat teacher pay. "I think you need to do a number of things. And I think one of the things we're focused on is obviously teacher compensation," Guckian said. "We are in a situation where, due to the recession and due to the events of the last 10 years really, we've got some making up to do."

NC Home Insurance Increase Set For October Hearing (TWCN-TV) -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said Tuesday the public hearing has been rescheduled from August to Oct. 20. Goodwin ordered a hearing because his staff determined the proposed rates appeared to be excessive and unfairly discriminatory.

States Siphon Gas Tax for Other Uses (Wall Street Journal) -- States are allotting a growing share of the funds they raise from gas taxes to debt service and spending unrelated to roads and bridges, making them more reliant on federal assistance to pay for new infrastructure.

No permit but lots of KKK fliers for 'rally' near High Point (Greensboro News & Record) -- Ku Klux Klan leaders say the organization is planning an August rally in High Point.

NC continues fight against bail in murder case (AP) — North Carolina's Supreme Court is temporarily blocking the release on bail of a man a judge described as probably innocent despite nearly 20 years in prison on a marred double-murder conviction.

Horse's Mouth for July 16 (Lake Norman Citizen) -- “Here’s my ask of you: for two generations you and I have been saying to our children, don’t go to work in the mill, don’t go to work on the farm. … Guess where we need young people excited again? We need them involved in advanced manufacturing and in advanced agriculture.” — North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker, speaking to small business owners at a Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce event earlier this week about the state’s shifting employment base needs.

Charter school company says it will respond to records request (Wilmington Star-News) -- Since early May, reporters and editors have filed multiple public information requests

ECU grad program declines (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- East Carolina University is expecting a decline in graduate student enrollment for the fifth straight year, but officials are attributing much of that drop to the diminished popularity of its distance education program.

Authorities Seek Two Dinosaur Thieves (WUNC-FM) -- A man and a woman were caught on videotape Monday July 14 taking a miniature baby dinosaur replica, worth about $10,000, from a display at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Watch the heist here.
NC police seek suspects in replica dinosaur theft (AP) — State Capitol Police are looking for a man and woman who were caught on video taking a baby dinosaur replica from a display at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

Dinosaur replica stolen from NC science museum (WRAL-TV) -- State Capitol Police asked Wednesday for the public's help in identifying two people who took a replica of a baby dinosaur from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh on Monday.

On video: Young couple swipe $10,000 baby dino replica (Raleigh News & Observer) -- NC State Capitol Police are asking for help in identifying a young man and woman recorded on video taking a polymer resin model of a duck-billed Edmontosaurus from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.

Polk County awaits opening of equestrian center (AP) -- Tryon Resort, a sprawling $100 million equestrian center and luxury resort, is opening this summer in Polk County with events that could attract horse lovers and riders from across the country and worldwide, bringing a boost to the region's economy.

Merz North America moving HQ to Raleigh (Triangle Business Journal) -- Merz North America is establishing its headquarters in Raleigh.

Merz North America CEO: We outgrew the Triad (Triad Business Journal) -- After a strong growth spurt, the High Point-based pharmaceutical company decided it needed to move to the Triangle.

Charlotte Convention Center plans to feed 10,450 (AP) -- This will be some dinner. The 10,450 members of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority will sit down at 1,000 tables to dine at Charlotte Convention Center on Thursday as part of their convention this week. Seven conveyor belts are being used move plates as 80 kitchen staff serve 2,000 pounds of salad, 4,000 pounds of potatoes, 2,500 pounds of green beans, 2,500 pounds of chicken and 4,375 pounds of short ribs. Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray says the meal is double the size of any previous meal, and bigger than any meal served at the Democratic National Convention two years ago. Alpha Kappa Alpha is the oldest Greek organization established by African-American women. It was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1908.

Kidnapping plot was tied to Mexican drug cartel, federal documents allege (WRAL-TV) -- A man rescued in Cumberland County in what authorities say was a complex kidnapping plot had been delivering drugs for a Mexican drug cartel and owed it $200,000, according to a federal complaint filed Wednesday.

Drug maker moving HQ from Greensboro to Raleigh (WRAL-TV) -- Pharmaceutical company Merz North America announced Wednesday that it would shift its headquarters from Greensboro to Raleigh and consolidate other operations in the Triangle.

A rare look into economic recruitment, requirements: Cary's disappearing 1,237 jobs document (WRAL-TV) -- The Town of Cary published, albeit briefly, a document spelling out details of a job recruitment proposal that could lead to the addition of 1,237 information technology jobs from an "international information technology and engineering services firm." For those interested in how economic recruitment works, this is interesting reading. The package includes $17 million in state tax credits and a $123,700 matching grant from Cary for a state One North Carolina Fund grant.

Gathering Of Jim Smiths Descends On City (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Tour groups are a common part of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art landscape, but some visitors on Wednesday afternoon may have sparked a serious case of déjà vu for the other guests. Most of their nametags said “Jim Smith.”

Local cabbies speak out about Uber (Wilmington Star-News) -- Local cabbies knew they would be in for more competition when the ride-sharing service UberX arrived.

Sanderson Farms considering Cumberland County (Wilson Times) -- Sanderson Farms Inc. is considering building a chicken processing plant in Cumberland County that would employ 1,100 workers.

Wilmington Not Part Of Manufacturing Revival, Numbers Show (Wilmington Business Journal) -- Wilmington and two other metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in North Carolina are missing out on a nationwide revival in manufacturing, according to a report released Wednesday

Brock seeks Davie, Yadkin counties fracking research funds in budget (WGHP-TV) – Republican State Sen. Andrew Brock has been under fire after asking to add $1 million to the state’s proposed budget in order to gather test data regarding hydro fracturing, or fracking, in Davie and Yadkin counties. However, Sen. Brock says he’s not asking for the money to promote fracking in the counties, instead, he says he wants to protect the land in case fracking does happen there. This came last month, shortly after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into effect allowing fracking in the state. “We don’t want it. I mean, I have never talked to anybody who wanted that,” said Tommy Cumby, of Yadkin County.

State to delay gas testing in Cape Fear region (Fayetteville Observer) -- Soil testing for natural gas that was to get underway this summer in Cumberland County will be delayed.

Duke Energy scores poorly in J.D. Power customer ranking (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Duke Energy’s utilities in the South took a shellacking for the second consecutive year in the J.D. Power Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. Utilities are ranked on power quality, reliability, price, billing and payment, corporate citizenship, communications and customer service. Duke utilities held down three of the bottom five places in the latest survey of customers at 13 large utilities in the South. And all ranked below the regional average for large utilities. … Duke Energy Progress, which generally covers eastern North Carolina and a part of South Carolina, continued a steep decline since its purchase in 2012. That year, it had bested the average score for large utilities. Its score has dropped every year since, and it ranks No. 11 in this year’s survey. Duke Carolinas, which covers western North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, has been on more of a roller coaster. It ranked No. 9 this year, which is where it ranked in 2012. And both years, it was below the regional average.

How much has NC sea level risen? Answer varies from north to south (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The northern NC coast is part of a land mass that is slowly sinking, and seas have risen there about 15 inches in the past 90 years. Farther south, at Wilmington, it's about 7 inches.

White House Announces Climate Change Initiatives (New York Times) -- President Obama announced plans aimed at guarding the electricity supply; improving local planning for flooding, coastal erosion and storm surges; and better predicting landslide risks.

Man headed to prison for dumping PCBs (AP) — A federal judge is ordering a North Carolina man to pay $21.3 million in restitution for illegally dumping waste oil laced with PCBs near the Cape Fear River.

Owner of Leland oil business gets three-and-half-year prison sentence (Wilmington Star-News) -- The owner of a Leland-based oil business was sentenced to three and a half years in federal prison Wednesday after earlier pleading guilty to the unlawful handling of used oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCBs,

Rooftop installations part of Virginia solar ambitions (UPI) -- New rooftop installations in northern Virginia are part of a program aimed at installing 30 megawatts of solar power in the state, Dominion Virginia Power said. The utility company said it installed 3,000 solar panels on the roof of a distribution center in Sterling, Va., used by industrial real estate company Prologis, Inc. Once completed by October, the installation will generate around 800 kilowatts of power, enough to meet the annual energy demands of about 200 homes.

Duke Energy joins advisory board for new Areva nuclear fuel assembly (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Duke Energy and five other nuclear utilities have formed a technical advisory board supporting Areva’s new nuclear fuel assembly design.

Study Tests Low Impact Development on Large Projects (Coastal Review) -- A new study shows that low-impact development (LID) can save money or real estate on large commercial projects.

Mysterious Pig Virus Concerns Environmentalists (Public News Service) -- Pigs continue to die in large numbers in North Carolina, and while pork producers work to stop the virus that's killing the animals, environmentalists are working to make sure the carcasses are disposed of properly.

Don’t cut after-school subsidies for school-aged kids (Charlotte Observer column) -- Funny how “women and children first” has come to mean that they are first in line for the chopping block in North Carolina. The latest in a series of swipes at family health and integrity comes from the legislature’s newest hurtful proposal to deny after-school subsidies for many school-aged children, because they now believe that the magic investment in children 0-5 means they can cut everything for 6-18-year olds. Both the House and Senate are considering changes to the program’s criteria that would result in thousands of children aged 6-12 becoming ineligible for subsidies. About 25 percent of those who receive subsidies in Mecklenburg County could lose them.

Will latest job prospects pan out, or will we be a runner-up? (Wilmington Star-News) -- Where have we heard this before? A company that could employ up to 1,000 people has its eye on a Brunswick County industrial park. Let's hope the third time is the charm. Meanwhile, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says company that would hire up to 200 people is looking seriously at the city as its new location. He didn't say what type of company. Missing in both cases is an estimate of how well these jobs would pay. But after ending up a bridesmaid in several previous attempts to land companies with lots of jobs, Southeastern North Carolina business and government leaders should put pressure on the state to make sure we don't let yet another deal slip through our fingers.

Wasteful pursuit of 'Choose Life' tags (Charlotte Observer) -- Republican leaders of the N.C. General Assembly are determined to keep trying to get pro-life specialty license plates approved even though two courts have already declared them unconstitutional. Lawyers for House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger Sr. petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court Monday to hear the case. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, ruled unanimously in February that the license plate violated the First Amendment.

Wake DA race offers strong candidates (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Wake County residents and voters had three qualified candidates for district attorney prior to Tuesday’s Republican runoff. Now there are two. Jeff Cruden, a veteran assistant DA, and attorney John Bryant met to settle which would be the Republican candidate in November against Wake Clerk of Court Lorrin Freeman, a Democrat. This race could be interesting. Whereas Freeman is soft-spoken, Bryant can be bombastic. He’s outgoing, popular among his fellow lawyers and knows the land – and the land mines – around the DA’s office. Freeman has been clerk of court since 2006, and she has managed the office well and been open about its operation. She has some prosecutorial experience, having been an assistant DA, and she’s certainly savvy about politics. She’s also well-connected among Democrats. Her father, Franklin Freeman, is a former judge and was chief of staff to former Gov. Mike Easley.

Reynolds deal is a good one (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The deal by which Reynolds American Inc. will buy its Greensboro cigarette manufacturing rival, Lorillard Inc., seems solid. We won’t go so far as to call it “a win, win, win, win,” as Reynolds head Susan Cameron did, but it is, at the very least, a win.

Teaching the basics of reading (Winston-Salem Journal) -- We’re supporters of the pleasures and benefits of reading, through which we gain knowledge, understanding and the ability to express ourselves. Thanks to the legislature’s efforts, there may be a few more avid readers in the future.

Common Core repeal raises questions (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- It’s hard to say exactly what the N.C. General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory did this week to Common Core standards in North Carolina.

Rep. Price's bill would shed light on college athletics (Raleigh News & Observer) -- US Rep. David Price co-sponsors a disclosure law on college athletics that could curb spending extremes by exposing them.

Fayetteville's VA hospital chief earned bonus (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Elizabeth Goolsby received a bonus of $6,912 in 2013. There's anger over those bonuses, but it appears she earned it. The Fayetteville VA facility has its share of long wait times, but its population of former military members has grown six times faster than the VA had provided staff or funding

Telling protest of pastors against same-sex marriage in NC (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- A news conference this week of the American Pastors Network - much like the pro-Amendment One effort itself - seemed as much about political pandering and trotting out half-truths than speaking to the most pressing concerns of North Carolinians.

Sound and fury (Greensboro News & Record) -- Attention turns to the U.S. Senate race, where big money will be spent. Voters should focus on the real issues.

Clear message from the state (Charlotte Observer) -- A bill that tells local governments how much and how they can tax their residents sends a clear message to cities and counties in North Carolina: The state is running the state – all of it.