Daily dose

Just don't undercook the fish:

Health officials OK recreational use of Dan River (Greensboro News & Record) -- People can fish and swim in the river without fear of skin irritation or other potential health problems linked to coal ash, N.C. health officials said.

Health agency says it's OK to use Dan River (AP) — North Carolina's public health agency is recommending lifting a recreational water advisory for a river that was polluted by a massive coal ash spill in February.

Environmentalists: Coal ash layers still evident in Dan River (Greensboro News & Record) -- Government authorities should scrap a recent decision halting Dan River cleanup efforts and make Duke Energy recover more of the coal ash that spilled this winter from its closed power plant near Eden, environmentalists say. Contrary to what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said last week, there are plenty of spots along the river where coal ash threatens the public health by lurking just beneath the surface of the riverbed, said Pete Harrison, an attorney for the Waterkeeper Alliance conservation group.

DHHS signs off on recreational use of Dan River (Triad Business Journal) -- The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has lifted the recreational water advisory that was issued in February for the area downstream from the coal ash spill at the Duke Energy plant in Eden.

Hagan continues to grow lead (Public Policy Polling) -- Incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan continuing to grow her lead over Republican Thom Tillis as the state legislative session drags on. Hagan now has 41%, to 34% for Tillis and 8% for Libertarian Sean Haugh. Her lead is up from 2 points in May and 5 points in June. The protracted legislative session with Tillis, the House Speaker, at the helm, can't be doing him any favors. A wopping 57% of voters disapprove of the job the General Assembly is doing with merely 19 percent approving. Legislative Republicans specifically have a 31/52 favorability rating. Those things are working together to help make Tillis very personally unpopular- just 24% see him favorably to 47% with a negative opinion. Tillis' continued efforts to fundraise while the state budget is in limbo is a drag, too, with only 24% of voters thinking it's appropriate for him to be out there raising money right now to 50% who consider it to be inappropriate. Still, these latest developments aren’t a bed of roses for Hagan. She continues to have negative approval numbers -- only 40% of voters approving of her to 50% who disapprove. Additionally, she’s very much being propped up right now by the 8% Haugh is receiving, which probably won’t hold through until November. When Haugh voters are reallocated to who they would support if they had to pick between Hagan and Tillis, her lead drops to 3 points -- 42-39. Nevertheless a lack of enthusiasm for Tillis from the Republican base is a big part of the reason so many GOP leaning voters are opting for Haugh at this point. Even among GOP voters only 39% view Tillis favorably to 29% who have a negative opinion, and that's helping to draw 11% of Republicans to the Libertarian at this point. The publicity from the recent Hobby Lobby decision isn't doing Tillis any favors either- 54% of voters say they're less likely to vote for a candidate who supports restricting access to affordable birth control, compared to just 19% who consider that a positive. That issue is a part of why Tillis currently trails Hagan 44/27 with women.

Goodbye to the GOP wave? (New York Times) -- Republicans entered this election cycle with high hopes. President Obama’s approval ratings had sunk into the low 40s, and the rollout of the Affordable Care Act had been an unmitigated disaster. In an off-year election, Democrats weren’t expected to fully mobilize the young and diverse coalition that has given them an advantage in presidential elections. Off-years are also when a president’s party typically suffers significant losses. This year seemed poised to turn into another so-called wave election, like in 2006 or 2010, when a rising tide of dissatisfaction with the incumbent party swept the opposition into power. Given a favorable midterm map, with so many Democratic Senate seats in play, some analysts suggested that Republicans could win a dozen of them, perhaps even picking up seats in states like Virginia, New Hampshire and Oregon. The anti-Democratic wave might still arrive. But with three and a half months to go until November’s elections, the promised Republican momentum has yet to materialize. The race for the Senate, at least right now, is stable.

Odds of a GOP Wave Are Increasing (National Journal) -- There's plenty of race-by-race evidence to suggest that most contests are trending in a Republican direction. Over the past several months, the Iowa and Colorado Senate races have turned from long shots to promising Republican pickup opportunities. In Iowa, Republican nominee Joni Ernst is running evenly with Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley in the Real Clear Politics polling average, a marked shift over the last two months. And in Colorado, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall only holds a 1-point average lead over GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, according to RCP, in a race that's shaping up to be a barn burner. … To be sure, there are several races where Democrats have stabilized their standing. Sen. Kay Hagan has inched ahead of Republican Thom Tillis in North Carolina, thanks largely to the state House speaker's role in a contentious budget fight in the state Legislature. Her numbers are still weak and she remains one of the most vulnerable Democrats, but her strategy of making Tillis an unacceptable alternative is very viable.

Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners Dives Into N.C. Senate Race (Roll Call) -- Freedom Partners, a group affiliated with the Koch Brothers, has purchased at least $2.8 million in airtime in North Carolina to boost the GOP’s bid to pick up the state’s Senate seat. The airtime will benefit state Speaker Thom Tillis, who faces Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., in a competitive race that could determine which party holds the Senate next year. The ad buy is for Aug. 6 through Sept. 2. The group has bought airtime on broadcast and cable in Charlotte and Raleigh, and on cable in Greenville-New Bern and Wilmington, according to a GOP source. A Democratic source also spotted additional broadcast buys in Greenville-New Bern, Wilmington, and Greensboro, plus cable time in Greensboro, bringing the total reservation to $3.4 million. Freedom Partners also made sizable ad buys for later this year in the Oregon, New Hampshire, and Louisiana Senate races in the past week. Tillis’ fundraising was lackluster in the most recent fundraising quarter, bringing in $1.6 million — less than half of Hagan’s $3.6 million haul.

READ IN (Washington Post) -- Today marks 16 weeks before Election Day. Over the next four months, we'll take a time out on Tuesdays to spotlight who's spending, and where, over the coming week. Here are the five most expensive races of the week: -- North Carolina: What state did you expect would be on top? Crossroads GPS is the biggest Republican spender this week, at $365,000 of the $500,000 being spent against Sen. Kay Hagan (D). The League of Conservation Voters is responding with $245,000 going after state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R).

Budget fight in Raleigh could hurt GOP chances of taking over U.S. Senate (Washington Post) -- North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and state Senate President Phil Berger (R) are members of the same party, but they don’t see eye to eye. Since McCrory took office in 2013, the two have been at each other’s throats constantly, on issues ranging from taxes to election reform to immigration. Now, disagreements between two of the most powerful men in Raleigh over teacher pay and whether to accept federal Medicaid money have kept the legislature in session weeks past their planned adjournment date, while McCrory and Berger take shots at each other in the media. The budget impasse could resonate far beyond Raleigh: Stuck in the middle, between feuding leaders of his own party, is state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R). Tillis faces Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in one of the most contentious, most closely-watched Senate contests of the year. Hagan is among four Democrats who represent states Mitt Romney carried in 2012, Democrats the GOP must beat if it is going to retake control of the U.S. Senate.

Political group running another anti-Tillis NC ad (AP) — An independent political group plans to spend more than $1 million over the next two weeks for a television ad critical of North Carolina Republican Senate nominee Thom Tillis by trying to link him to conservative financiers.

Aiken outpaces Ellmers in 2nd Dist. fundraising (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In the race for North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, Clay Aiken outpaced U.S. Rep Renee Ellmers in second-quarter campaign contributions, recently filed federal finance reports show.

Clay Aiken says people 'hungry' for politicians to listen to them (Fayetteville Observer) -- For Clay Aiken, it's all about being there.

SHORT SESSION, DAY 71; Overtime 23, $1.15 million
Celebrants recall Cohen's knowledge, hard work, door dents (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Veteran legislative staffer Gerry Cohen got a big send-off party for his retirement, where he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, an award for state service. Cohen is retiring after 37 years at the legislature. He was hired in 1977 as one of four people in the bill drafting office and went on to run the division for 31 years. He’s been legislative special counsel for the past two years. Among the hundreds feting Cohen on the third floor of the Legislative Building on Tuesday were current and former legislators, including former Rep. Charles Neely, and former Sens. Ellie Kinnaird and Howard Lee. One of the House members on the personnel committee that hired Cohen in 1977 returned, as did Attorney General Roy Cooper, a former state representative and senator, and state budget director Art Pope, a former House member. Co-workers and former legislators called Cohen a mentor and friend.

Legislators Don't Really Have Deadline To Agree On Budget (WFMY-TV) -- The clock is ticking on the state legislature's chances to make changes to the budget. Let's take a step back for a second. When legislators passed the budget last year, in 2013, it was a two-year-budget. So, technically, they don't need to make changes because there's a budget in place through 2015. But during this short session, they can make adjustments to the budget for the rest of the year (2014-2015). So things like teachers’ salaries, and Medicaid money can be adjusted for the rest of the budget period. Legislators returned to work on May 14th, 2014, and they're still in session. If it seems like they're taking a long time in this session, you'd be right. This is the longest short session since 2008, when legislators met from May 13th to August 27th.

With friends like these, NCGOP doesn't need enemies (WCNC-TV) -- t the close of another tough week of budget negotiations, political analyst Dr. Michael Bitzer says it’s remarkable for unified government to be this divided. We have Republican unified government, the House, the Senate the Governor, they’re all of the same party, Bitzer said. The budget stalemate comes down to how to fund Medicaid, the healthcare safety net for those who can’t help themselves, and how big a pay raise teachers should receive.

Secret Meeting, No Budget Breakthrough (WUNC-FM) – Gov. Pat McCrory met with Senate Republicans Tuesday to try to narrow their differences over budget adjustments meant to be in place three weeks ago. McCrory's office and a top budget negotiator confirmed the 90-minute visit. But, Senator Harry Brown says McCrory and senators did not have a breakthrough in the closed-door gathering. The Jacksonville Republican says the governor and lawmakers proposed potential compromises to end the delays preventing the budget's completion.

What we have here is a failure to communicate (WRAL-TV) -- Senate leaders met privately with Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday morning to discuss their stances on Medicaid reform, teacher pay and teaching assistants, but they made no headway on a budget deal.

Governor, NC Senate Republicans talk about budget (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory and Senate Republicans met privately Tuesday as they sought to resolve their differences over budget adjustments supposed to be settled three weeks ago, but the gulf between elected leaders remained wide on key issues. McCrory's office and a top budget negotiator confirmed the governor visited the Senate Republican Caucus on Tuesday morning for about 90 minutes.

McCrory signs Common Core changes into law (AP) — North Carolina has begun a rewrite of the Common Core education curriculum. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation Tuesday that includes the review and revision of the state's reading and math curriculum in K-12 schools. Four other states have also passed laws to rewrite the standards. The law directs the State Board of Education to rewrite the Common Core standards based on recommendations from a new 11-member standards advisory commission.

McCrory Signs Bill To Rework Common Core (WUNC-FM) -- Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill designed to review and potentially replace the Common Core academic standards. McCrory referred to the bill as a “Common Core review bill,” despite lawmakers who say that the legislation will work to replace the standards.

Local education leaders: Common Core repeal not likely to make major impact (Port City Daily) -- The statewide repeal of Common Core standards is likely to look like a change in name only to North Carolina classrooms.

State Senate seeks to impose limits on local sales taxes (AP) — Four large North Carolina counties would see their authority to raise sales taxes scaled back under legislation passed Tuesday by a Senate panel.

NC Senate considering sales tax changes (AP) — Some senators want to give more choices to most North Carolina counties in how they can generate extra revenues through local sales taxes, while scaling back authority for some of the state's largest counties.

N.C. Senate committee endorses sales tax limit (Charlotte Observer) -- A North Carolina Senate committee Tuesday endorsed a measure that could prevent Mecklenburg County voters from approving a quarter-cent sales tax increase to supplement the pay of local teachers. The measure caps local sales taxes at 2.5 percent – Mecklenburg’s current rate. County commissioners last month had scheduled a November referendum on additional money to help teachers, Central Piedmont Community College, the arts and libraries.

Raleigh mayor says NC Senate bill would hurt Wake's ability to handle growth (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Most counties would have new options for raising sales taxes, but Wake and other urban counties would see new restrictions on local taxes under a bill expected to go to the Senate floor Wednesday.

Senate tax bill targets Wake, Mecklenburg (WRAL-TV) -- A key Senate committee on Tuesday approved a proposal that would limit the power of four large North Carolina counties, including Wake County, to raise sales taxes.

McCrory signs bill sponsored by dead lawmaker (AP) — Legislation to protect health care workers sponsored by a North Carolina lawmaker who died last weekend has been signed into law.

N.C. legislature grants Pleasant Garden man's annexation wish (Greensboro News & Record) -- Charles Kirkman’s family farm, Backward Branch, is inside town limits under a law passed this week.

Health officials eye state budget Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Officials at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine and their health care delivery partners at Vidant Medical Center are staying connected to their legislative delegation this week as efforts continue to close the gaps in the state’s budget talks.

N.C. largest job-slashing machine in South (Triangle Business Journal) -- Mass layoffs, like that of Microsoft jettisoning 18,000 workers, were a frequent occurrence of the past, but in North Carolina it appears to be a reality of the present, as job cuts continued to be widespread in June. According to a report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, North Carolina had the largest number of planned job cuts of all Southern states in June, with 1,494 layoffs. Its year-to-date figure of 7,559 job cuts was only behind Florida. However, the Triangle is not suffering as much as other regions. Urban areas in North Carolina have fared better than their rural counterparts in the realm of jobs.

CMS teachers moving to S.C. have superintendent worried (WCNC-TV) -- resh back from his testimony in the state capital, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Heath Morrison is concerned about the number of his teachers leaving for South Carolina, and the promise of thousands of dollars more a year in pay. Right now North Carolina is at the bottom of teacher pay in the U.S. “We don t have numbers right now. We are very concerned obviously. We have our teachers who want to be here, love teaching in NC, love teaching Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The salaries right now are more competitive in South Carolina and so they’re making a professional decision not biased on where they want to teach, but where the dollars are directing them. That’s why I’m in Raleigh all the time trying to make sure that the budget, whenever it is passed has a good pay increase for our teachers,” Morrison said. Teacher pay has become a flashpoint between the House and Senate in Raleigh, as the two bodies work together to form a budget for everything the state pays for. As of Friday evening, the Senate wants to give teachers an 11 percent pay raise with tenure intact. However, thousands of teacher assistants would be let go. Gov. Pat McCrory has promised to veto any budget that includes that.

Congress, Biden Aim For Job Training That Leads To Jobs (NPR) -- Something pretty remarkable happened Tuesday afternoon in a small windowless auditorium next door to the White House. President Obama signed a new law: the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It streamlines and updates the nation's job training programs and was 11 years overdue. The bill got overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. "Folks in Congress got past their differences; they got a bill to my desk," Obama said at the signing ceremony. "So this is not a win for Democrats or Republicans; it is a win for American workers." … U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican and a former community college president, was instrumental in writing the new law. "Job training is so yesterday," she said. "Workforce development and skills development is tomorrow." Foxx stood next to the president and the vice president Tuesday, wearing a bright pink suit and a smile as Obama signed the bill. Afterward, Vice President Joe Biden said, she told him he was starting to sound like a Republican.

New Questions on Health Law as Rulings on Subsidies Differ (New York Times) -- One federal appeals court panel ruled that the federal government could not subsidize coverage bought by people on the federal insurance exchange. Another said the opposite.

Appeals courts split on health-law subsidies (Washington Post) -- Two federal appellate courts handed down contradictory rulings on the legality of a provision of the law that provides insurance subsidies to millions.

Conflicting Rulings Issued on Health-Law Subsidies (Wall Street Journal) - Two U.S. appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on whether consumers can receive subsidies for health coverage purchased on insurance exchanges established by the federal government.

Federal appeals courts issue conflicting rulings on Obamacare (LA Times) -- The legal battle over President Obama’s healthcare law ramped up again Tuesday, as two federal appeals courts handed down conflicting rulings on whether the government can continue to pay subsidies nationwide to millions of low- and middle-income people to help them with the cost of insurance.

Obamacare court kerfuffle could disproportionately hurt N.C. (Triangle Business Journal) -- ​Depending on how court rulings on the Affordable Care Act from Tuesday shake out, North Carolina could be disproportionately affected.

NC Has Closed Nine Correctional Facilities Recently, Here's Why WUNC-FM) -- The number of people in North Carolina returning to prison after their release is on the decline. In fact, a new report released just this month shows that North Carolina has had one of the biggest drops in recidivism in the country.

National Report on Child Well-Being Ranks NC Low (TWCN-TV) -- North Carolina ranks near the bottom of the list for child well-being. The report was released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

N.C. ranks 38th in child well-being (Triangle Business Journal) -- North Carolina ranks 38th among U.S. states in overall child well-being, according to the 2014 Kids Count report

Belhaven, NC, Mayor Adam O'Neal leaves a meeting with Va. governor (Hampton Roads Daily Press) -Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal leaves a meeting Tuesday with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at the governor's mansion.

NC Mayor Makes Strides in Fight for Medicaid (WRIC-TV) -- A North Carolina mayor is making national headlines for a three hundred mile walk he's making to Washington, D.C. Mayor Adam O'Neal decided to do it after he says the only hospital in his small town of Bellhaven closed because his state didn't expand medicaid. He's been meeting with many people on the way and Tuesday afternoon he met with the governor as he made a stop here in Richmond. The Republican mayor says people in his town are literally dying since this hospital closed and he says it's only a matter of time before other rural hospitals across the country suffer the same fate. "We just had a 48-year-old mother of three and wife pass away, had a heart attack. She spent an hour in the parking lot of a high school waiting for a helicopter instead of spending 25 minutes in the back of an ambulance, and 35 minutes at the hands of an ER physician" said O'Neal.

Brunswick Co., McCrory stand up against immigration issues (WECT-TV) -- A crisis along our nation's border has reached into Brunswick County. Commissioners want to keep an influx of illegal immigrant children from settling inside county lines. County leaders say the impact on the health and safety of local residents would be too great. The border crisis has made headlines nationally for months, with thousands of children crossing the border into America. So Brunswick county leaders are taking what they call a pro-active approach to prevent negative impacts on taxpayers here. On Monday night, Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution opposing the re-settling of immigrant minors within Brunswick County. … At the state level, Governor Pat McCrory, along with several other governors, sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to secure our country's borders, and to also protect the children caught in the middle of the crisis.

McCrory joins GOP governors in letter to Obama calling for action on immigration (Voter Update Magazine) -- Gov. Pat McCrory joined five of his fellow Republican governors in sending a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, urging him to address the influx of unaccompanied children across the Southwestern U.S. border. More than 57,000 immigrant children traveling without their parents have crossed from Mexico into the United States so far this year, up from 28,000 in 2013, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The letter calls on Obama to take the lead in developing a plan “to deal with this crisis in a humanitarian and practical way.”

NC tax breaks OK'd for 250 IT jobs in Charlotte (AP) — An information technology consulting company plans to create 250 jobs in Charlotte within five years as it hopes to serve the city's big banks.

Former CFO for Boggs Paving, Inc. Pleads Guilty in $87 Million Fraud Scheme (FBI News Release) -- Kevin Hicks, 43, of Monroe and former Chief Financial Officer for Boggs Paving Inc. entered a plea of guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer for his role in an $87-million fraud scheme involving government-funded construction projects, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Hicks is one of the eight defendants charged with government procurement fraud and related offenses. Hicks pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Department of Transportation and one count of money laundering conspiracy. … According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, from 2003 through 2013, Boggs Paving and the defendants conspired and fraudulently obtained federally and state funded construction contracts by falsely certifying that a disadvantaged business enterprise or a small business enterprise would perform and be paid for portion of the work on those contracts. … An indictment filed in October 2013 also brought criminal charges against Arnold Mann, 55, of Fort Mill, S.C. Mann was a project manager, estimator and area manager for Boggs Paving. Mann pleaded guilty in June 2014, to one count of conspiracy to defraud USDOT. Greg Tucker, 41, of Oakboro, N.C. and Boggs Paving’s project manager, estimator and vice president in charge of bidding on federal construction projects in North Carolina, has also agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud USDOT. ... The remaining defendants in the case are Boggs Paving Inc., Carl Andrew Boggs, III, 50, of Waxhaw, N.C., Greg Miller, 60, of Matthews, N.C., John Cuthbertson, 69, of Monroe, and Styx Cuthbertson Trucking Company, Inc., of Wingate, N.C. They face multiple charges including conspiracy to defraud USDOT, wire fraud and mail fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and money laundering conspiracy. John Cuthbertson and Styx Cuthbertson Trucking are also charged with one count of making a false statement on a loan application.

Ex-NC executive pleads guilty to fraud scheme (AP) — The former chief financial officer of a Monroe paving company has pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in an $87 million scheme involving government-funded construction project.

Audit: Ex-Tarboro manager siphoned off town funds (AP) — A state audit has determined that the former manager in Tarboro siphoned off more than $450,000 in taxpayer funds to provide himself with unapproved benefits and to buy personal items unrelated to his job.

Historically black colleges face uncertain future (AP) -- Three days before Payton Wilkins returned home to Detroit last May with a bachelor's degree, his cousin was arrested for selling heroin and crack cocaine. "Before I came to college I was hanging out with him so it's a really good chance I would be in prison right now," said Wilkins, 24, the first person in his family to graduate from college.

Zipper manufacturer expanding Oxford facility, adding 155 jobs (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Ideal Fastener Corp. plans to expand its Granville County facility, where it produces zippers, adding 155 jobs over the next five years. Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced the expansion Tuesday morning. The privately-held company plans to invest more than $5.7 million in its plant in Oxford, about 45 miles north of Raleigh, where it already employs 226 people. The company chose Oxford over sites in China, India and Indonesia. Ideal Fastener is eligible to receive $1.3 million in benefits over the next 12 years from the state if it meets hiring and investment targets. The average annual wage for the new jobs will be $35,200, just below the Granville County average of $35,592. “This expansion in Oxford will enable Ideal Fastener to manufacture a zipper using new technology that its customers will be able to apply to their products,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker in a statement.

Spectra Group, Inc. Expanding To Charlotte; Move Will Add 250 Jobs (N.C. Political News) – Gov. Pat McCrory and North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced today that Spectra Group Inc. will be moving its financial services delivery center to Mecklenburg County. The company plans to create 250 jobs in Charlotte by the end of 2018. “Companies such as Spectra Group continue to be attracted to North Carolina because of our great business climate and the financial services we have located here,” said Governor McCrory who was on hand for the announcement at the Charlotte Chamber. “This move to Charlotte will put it in the center of one of the largest banking and financial communities in the country.”

Spectra picks Charlotte over Austin, Tampa (Charlotte Business Journal) -- At Spectra Group's jobs announcement on Tuesday, CEO Aditya Narra says he hopes the company's new Charlotte office will become a "nearshore" solution for banks looking to outsource compliance and audit projects.

NC sheriff gets close look at US border crisis )WRAL-TV) -- Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page recently traveled to south Texas to help put a local public safety face on the immigration crisis being debated from Washington, D.C., to San Diego.

Veterans group schedules convention in Asheville (AP) — A national veterans group calling for peace at home and overseas is bringing its message to Asheville for its annual convention.

Brunswick schools to set up countywide panel to review challenged books (Wilmington Star-News) -- The way the Brunswick County school board handles challenges to the appropriateness of books may change in August.

Berger to undergo second mental health evaluation (Wilmington Star-News) -- The evaluation calls into question Berger's "capacity to proceed," District Attorney Ben David said.

Berger deemed incompetent for probationary hearing; judge orders 2nd assessment (Port City Daily) -- A mental health evaluation of Commissioner Brian Berger found the New Hanover County official incompetent to proceed with a hearing

Trial for New Hanover Co. Commissioner Put On Hold (TWCN-TV) -- Berger appeared on several charges Tuesday morning, including probation violation, DWI, impeding traffic and Schedule II drug possession.

Asheville lawyer's suspension stayed (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- A state commission granted a stay of the suspension levied against an Asheville attorney who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice in 2012, the N.C. State Bar announced this month. Julia Leigh Sitton was suspended three years from practicing law after it was determined she accepted an extra $2,000 per month for her work on the campaign of former Gov. Bev Perdue through a purported consulting contract, the State Bar said. Her suspension was effective Sept. 21, 2012, the date she pleaded guilty. Sitton was able to apply for a stay based on the conditions of her order of discipline from the State Bar’s Disciplinary Hearing Commission. She also received credit for the time she voluntarily abstained from practice following her conviction. Sitton worked for the Bev Perdue Committee in 2007 and 2008. The political committee paid her $3,000 per month.

Sheriff McMahon: Jail personnel acted properly on day of Ronald Hewett's death (Wilmington Star-News) -- An internal investigation found that all New Hanover County jail personnel on duty when Ronald Hewett died July 12 followed policies and procedures, Sheriff Ed McMahon said in a Tuesday release.

sheriff completes review of Hewett’s death; SBI investigation ongoing (Port City Daily) -- New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon announced today he has completed an internal review of the death of former Brunswick County sheriff Ronald Hewett

Fred Eshelman leaves UNC board one year early (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Fred Eshelman, a Wilmington pharmaceutical executive, political donor and UNC-Chapel Hill benefactor, has stepped down from the UNC system's Board of Governors a year early.

Movie filming expected on Asheville streets (AP) -- A movie will be filming in downtown Asheville next week.

At Middle Creek, former Miss North Carolina fulfills her coaching dream (Raleigh News & Observer) -- New Middle Creek girls' volleyball coach Adrienne Core, who won the Miss North Carolina competition in 2010, said she has always wanted to be a coach. Her prior success didn't seem relevant, but her not-so-secret pageant past quickly surfaced anyway.

Science teachers get hands-on lessons through Kenan Fellowship Program (Fayetteville Observer) -- Around Carmen Psaltis, middle schoolers giggled and shrieked as they tried to catch butterflies at Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

Health officials confirm chikungunya in Cabarrus (AP) — Cabarrus County health officials have confirmed the county's first case of chikungunya, saying the patient was infected while traveling in a Caribbean country.

Retired Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr. to head Charlotte-based children's charity (Fayetteville Observer) -- A former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division will now helm a Charlotte-based children's charity.

Rush before the proof of shale gold (Environment & Energy Daily) -- In the classic film "Field of Dreams," a farmer builds a baseball diamond after hearing a premonition that "If you build it, he will come." In North Carolina, the same spirit has inspired two laws and more than 100 pages of regulations clearing the way for shale gas rigs that may never arrive. The state began to embrace hydraulic fracturing after Republicans took over the Legislature in 2010 and pushed to end a six-decade ban on horizontal drilling, fracking's partner in the technological upheaval that shook loose eye-popping volumes of natural gas in the nearby Marcellus Shale. The U.S. Geological Survey increased its projection of recoverable resources in the Marcellus by a factor of 40 after fracking swept the nation, and many in the GOP hope that North Carolina's Triassic shale basins could prove similarly underestimated.

Solarize Chatham and Orange counties moving forward (Triangle Business Journal) -- City-focused solarize projects around the Triangle are scaling up to the county level.

Thunder Moon (Coastal Review) -- Our naturalist Sam Bland explores the lure of full moons on coastal animals and residents and takes stunning photos of a recent "supermoon."

Panel Meets To Look At Sea-Level Rise... Again (WUNC-FM) -- The panel responsible for studying sea-level rise along North Carolina's coast met Monday in New Bern. It was the first meeting under a new mandate to look at the forecast for sea-level rise for a shorter time period. Four years ago the Coastal Resources Commission's science panel issued a dire report saying oceans could rise 39 inches by the year 2100. The state then issued a moratorium on using that prediction for policy purposes. The new guidelines for the science panel call for a 30-year prediction.

New Funding Formula Sinks Road Projects (Coastal Review) -- The Mid-Currituck Bridge is one of many proposed road projects in Eastern N.C. that get short changed in a new highway funding formula.

Philosophies clash as SolarBee fleet lands in Jordan Lake (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Men lowered the bulky, spacecraft-looking machines into Jordan Lake one by one, first winching them from a truck, then dragging them slowly behind a johnboat to their positions on the huge reservoir. Ken Hudnell, the suntanned scientist who engineered the controversial project, watched cross-legged from the dock. This was the enactment on Tuesday of North Carolina’s unprecedented experiment in water management – and, Hudnell hopes, the test case that will show water regulators’ errors of omission of the past 20 years. … Four men are doing the bulk of the installation, anchoring the 850-pound, North Dakota-built machines along the Haw River’s inlet and the Morgan Creek arm of the huge lake. They were flanked Tuesday by kayak-paddling representatives of the N.C. Sierra Club and motorboat-driving employees of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The state employees were collecting a round of the baseline data that will show whether the SolarBees are cleaning the water, including measurements of the lake’s clarity, oxygen content and temperature. “The best we can tell you is we’ve got to collect the information,” said Jason Green, a branch supervisor for DENR. He’s been asked to take a boatload of legislators out on the lake, and perhaps even DENR Secretary John Skvarla.

'SolarBees' Poised To Churn Jordan Lake (WUNC-FM) -- State environmental officials are overseeing the installation of special machines in Jordan Lake starting today. SolarBees are water circulators intended to prevent algae from storm water runoff from forming in the lake. Installers are placing a total of 36 machines: 12 in the Haw River arm of the lake and 24 more in the Morgan Creek tributary. Susan Massengale is a spokeswoman with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. She says this step begins 18 months of water testing.

Petition Shows Growing Public Concern About Sale of Hofmann Forest (TWCN-TV) -- A new social media campaign is gaining momentum and drawing attention to the link between the sale of the Hofmann Forest and the water quality in Emerald Isle.

Speed was reason Arthur didn't cause more damage (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- It was no Isabel, Irene or Sandy. When Hurricane Arthur whooshed through the Outer Banks on the Fourth of July, it left far less damage than past storms. The main reason? Speed. When Arthur touched down at Shackleford Banks, it was shifting to the east at 15 mph.

School’s in for some, but teacher salaries, assistants still being debated (Wilmington Star-News) -- Year-round students in the Cape Fear region already have gone back to school, and the General Assembly is still haggling over a budget that will have a direct impact on them and their teachers.

End to pension ‘spiking’ worth support (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- State pensions are a perk for government workers that many of us in the private sector would long to have for ourselves.

Medicaid match (Greensboro News & Record) -- Gov. McCrory takes on Senate leaders over competing Medicaid reform plans. The governor needs to win this one.

Judges show partisanship in striking ACA subsidies (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A federal appeals court ruling against subsidies on federal ACA exchanges displays raw judicial partisanship. Only hours later, judges for a similar case in a different court came to an opposite conclusion.

Why NC water-quality plans must include therapy, like SolarBees, as well as pollution prevention (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Jordan Lake has always been impaired. As a reservoir built on low-lying, nutrient-rich farmland and filled with water that can take more than a year to traverse it, the lake has high nutrient levels and stagnant water that enable detrimental blue-green algae to dominate the beneficial algae

Export-Import Bank critical to many small NC businesses (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- North Carolinians should be concerned about economic fallout from the possible failure of a number of companies in the state - especially small businesses - if Congress shuts down the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Neither Hagan nor Tillis is a winger (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get a news release from some partisan source that says a) that Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is too left-wing to represent North Carolina or b) that GOP Senate candidate Thom Tillis is too right-wing to represent the state. In fact, Hagan and Tillis are fairly representative of their parties today. Both are business-oriented, and both have come under criticism from their ideological wings for not having sufficient ideological fervor. Tillis is no Ted Cruz, Hagan no Elizabeth Warren. But while Hagan and Tillis are not ideologues, there is a wide gulf between them on the issues, reflecting the polarization of American politics.