Wednesday News: Realtors wet dream edition

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NORTH CAROLINA'S POPULATION SURPASSES 10 MILLION PEOPLE (AP) — North Carolina has become the ninth state to surpass the 10 million population mark, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/north-carolinas-population-surpasses-10-million-people-3097743

NC POPULATION PASSES 10 MILLION, NOW 9TH LARGEST STATE IN US (TWCN-TV) -- Two hundred eighty-one people are moving to North Carolina every day. The U.S. Census Bureau now says the state's population has passed the 10 million mark, making it the ninth largest state in the country.
http://www.twcnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/news/2015/12/22/nc-population-passes-10-million--now-9t...

COOPER: GOV. MCCRORY DESERVES 'LUMP OF COAL' FOR CHRISTMAS (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Attorney General Roy Cooper wants his campaign supporters to put Gov. Pat McCrory on Santa’s “naughty list” this year. The leading Democrat running for governor sent out a fundraising email Tuesday calling on donations to help fill “a virtual stocking with coal” as his campaign seeks $15,000 by midnight Wednesday.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article51...

CONSERVATIVE GROUPS NOT RUSHING TO HELP BRANNON AGAINST BURR (Roll Call) -- Obstetrician and 2014 Senate candidate Greg Brannon barely snuck under Monday’s filing deadline to challenge North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr in March’s primary. Whether that’s too late for Brannon to amass the tea party support he might need to unseat a two-term senator remains to be seen, but so far, the kinds of groups that would back an anti-incumbent challenger such as Brannon don’t sound effusive about his candidacy.
http://atr.rollcall.com/conservative-groups-not-rushing-help-burr-primary-challenger/

POPULATIONS GROW IN SOUTHERN STATES KEY TO 2016 ELECTION (Wall Street Journal) -- Florida, North Carolina and other sun-soaked states that could help determine the 2016 presidential election saw their populations grow this year, according to Census Bureau data released Tuesday.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/sun-soaked-states-see-populations-grow-census-bureau-reports-1450804845

HOUSE GOP LEADER HAGER BEMOANS GERRYMANDERING, WON’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT (Weekly Independent) -- He’s very sad that more Republicans aren’t running in noncompetitive seats
http://www.indyweek.com/news/archives/2015/12/22/house-majority-leader-mike-hager-bemoans-gerrymande...

LAWSUIT SEEKS TO OVERTURN JUDICIAL RETENTION CONTESTS (N.C. Political News) -- An attorney, Sabra Faires, and two Wake County voters, Bennett Little cotton and Diane Lahti, have filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s new law calling for retention referendums for justices of the N.C. Supreme Court, claiming that the referendum, passed this year by the General Assembly, does not meet the definition of an election specified in the state constitution.
http://www.ncpoliticalnews.com/?p=17379

STUDENTS SPREAD THEIR WINGS IN WEEKLY POLITICAL TALK SHOW (UNC-W News) -- It’s not every day student journalists get the opportunity to interview a state leader. Hosts of UNCW’s “WingSpan,” a weekly political talk show produced by communication studies students, had that chance when they sat down with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.
http://uncw.edu/news/2015/12/communications-studies-students-spread-their-wings-in-weekly-political-...

TILLIS’ PRESS AIDE JUMPS TO MISSOURI REP. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) -- Rep. Ann Wagner has a new communications director. Meghan Burris, press secretary for Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., has signed on to go to work for Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri, starting Jan. 4.
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/wagner-names-new-communications-director/articl...

POLICY & POLITICS

WALKER, US ATTORNEY, TO RESIGN (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Thomas Walker, the top federal prosecutor for the 44-county district that stretches from Raleigh to the coast, is leaving his post. Under his watch several grand jury investigations have looked into state government offices, including the Department of Environmental Quality, which was not prosecuted as part of the Duke Energy case. In July, a federal criminal grand jury in Walker’s district began a probe of expensive no-bid contracts for high-ranking employees at the state Department of Health and Human Services and for a consulting firm. Subpoenas have been issued to former DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos, who announced her resignation a week after the state government office received subpoenas for her.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article51052310.html

THOMAS WALKER, US ATTORNEY FOR EASTERN DISTRICT, TO RESIGN (WRAL-TV) -- Thomas G. Walker, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, will resign and return to private practice, effective Jan. 7, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.
http://www.wral.com/thomas-walker-us-attorney-for-eastern-district-to-resign/15191826/

US ATTORNEY RESIGNING FROM POSITION AT START OF 2016 (AP) — Thomas Walker, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, has announced he is resigning from his post.
http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/us-attorney-resigning-position-start-2016-3097783

MORE THAN HALF A MILLION IN N.C. SIGN UP FOR OBAMACARE HEALTH INSURANCE (Triangle Business Journal) -- This year's total eclipsed last year’s by more than doubling the number that had signed up by Christmas 2014.
http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/morning_call/2015/12/more-than-half-a-million-in-nc-sign-up-for....

MEADOWS, PITTENGER ON LIST OF 2015 'WORST ETHICS VIOLATORS” (McClatchy News) – A Washington government watchdog group listed two N.C. Republican congressmen – Robert Pittinger and Mark Meadows -- among its 2015 “worst ethics violators.” Among others on the list, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article51076635.html

PITTENGER AND TILLIS ARE WEALTHIEST MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FROM NC (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Center for Responsive Politics ranks Thom Tillis as 20th richest senator
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article51071480.html

MANY COUNTY WORKERS INTEND TO CARRY WEAPONS (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Nearly 30 Pitt County employees so far have notified their supervisors that they plan to bring concealed guns to work since the Board of Commissioners lifted a ban on weapons, the human resources director said.
http://www.reflector.com/news/many-county-workers-intend-carry-weapons-3098035

BOWE BERGDAHL DEFERS PLEA AT FORT BRAGG (Fayetteville Observer) -- Looking squarely ahead, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl remained silent in a Fort Bragg courtroom as he deferred to enter a plea that he deserted his remote camp in Afghanistan and misbehaved in front of the enemy.
http://www.fayobserver.com/military/sgt-bowe-bergdahl-defers-plea-at-fort-bragg/article_c3979207-3e2...

BOWE BERGDAHL ARRAIGNED AT FORT BRAGG (AP) -- Wearing a dress blue uniform, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl faced a military judge Tuesday for the first time since the U.S. Army decided to proceed with a military trial that could result in a life sentence for his disappearance in Afghanistan in 2009.
http://www.wral.com/bergdahl-to-be-arraigned-on-charges-including-desertion/15191481/

SLAIN MUSLIM STUDENTS' FAMILIES FIGHT GRIEF TO HONOR LEGACY (AP) -- Relatives of three young Muslims who were killed in North Carolina earlier this year are honoring their memories through charity.
http://www.wral.com/slain-muslim-students-families-fight-grief-to-honor-legacy/15193356/

FAMILY OF CHAPEL HILL SHOOTING VICTIMS CONTINUE PUSH FOR HATE CRIME CHARGE (TWCN-TV) -- Family members of Deah Barakat, who was shot to death in Chapel Hill in February, hope the federal hate crime charges will be given next year.
http://www.twcnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/news/2015/12/16/family-members-of-chapel-hill-shooting-...

LINCOLN COUNTY PROMISES TO IMPROVE ANIMAL SHELTER (AP) — Lincoln County officials promised improvements at its animal shelter after the North Carolina agriculture department fined the shelter for the deaths of nearly 200 cats earlier this year.
http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/lincoln-county-promises-improve-animal-shelter-3097703

VA. WON'T ALLOW CONCEALED GUN PERMITS FROM N.C., 24 OTHER STATES (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Virginia no longer will recognize concealed handgun permits from 25 states – including North Carolina -- effective Feb. 1, Attorney General Mark Herring said at a news conference Tuesday.
http://www.pilotonline.com/news/government/virginia/virginia-won-t-recognize-concealed-handgun-permi...

VA. TO REJECT OTHER STATES’ HANDGUN PERMITS, INCLUDING NC (TWCN-TV) -- Attorney General Mark Herring says the state is revoking its agreement with 25 states after a review found that their permit requirements are weaker than Virginia's.
http://www.twcnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/news/2015/12/22/virginia-to-reject-concealed-handgun-pe...

DAS WON’T SEEK CHARGES AGAINST FORMER CLAY COUNTY EMPLOYEE (Carolina Public Press) -- Two different district attorneys have said there’s not enough evidence to pursue charges against a former Clay County employee in connection with allegations from a former sheriff that she illegally monitored his telephone calls. But the employee, former Finance Director Vicki Hogsed, lost her job anyway.
http://www.carolinapublicpress.org/23917/das-wont-seek-charges-against-former-clay-county-employee

CALL FORMER NC BIOTECH CENTER CEO TOLSON 'MR. SERVICE' (WRAL-TV) -- Well, the retirement of Norris Tolson from a life of business and service didn't last very long. He's got a new job, and the Rocky Mount Telegraph says the group that hired him as director made a smart move.
http://wraltechwire.com/just-call-former-nc-biotech-center-ceo-norris-tolson-mr-service-/15191717/

GENERAL NEWS

N.C. HITS A MILESTONE: 10 MILLION PEOPLE (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Since 1970, the state’s population has doubled
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article51162555.html

NEW CENSUS ESTIMATES GIVE N.C. REASON TO TOUT GROWTH (Route 50) -- North Carolina has become one of nine states in the nation with a population over 10 million people, according to figures the U.S. Census Bureau released on Tuesday.
http://www.routefifty.com/2015/12/north-carolina-census-population-10-million/124725/?oref=rf-today-nl

NC POPULATION TOPS 10M (WRAL-TV) -- North Carolina has become the ninth state with more than 10 million residents, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
http://www.wral.com/nc-population-tops-10m/15192136/

MOST POPULAR LIQUOR BRANDS IN N.C. – BY 2015 SALES (Triangle Business Journal) -- When it comes to vodka, North Carolinians picked up a taste for Tito’s and dropped their taste for Absolut. The top of the list, however, little changed as vodka is still by far the volume leader in North Carolina.
http://www.bizjournals.com/triad/blog/morning-edition/2015/12/most-popular-liquor-brands-in-nc-by-20...

ROAD HOGS: TRACTOR-TRAILER CARRYING MORE THAN 2,000 PIGS OVERTURNS (AP) — Police in Raleigh say a tractor-trailer carrying more than 2,000 pigs crashed on Interstate 40 south of downtown Raleigh, causing damage that caused traffic problems for hours.
http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/tractor-trailer-carrying-more-2000-pigs-overturns-3097827

DEAR SANTA: USPS DELIVERS NORTH POLE MAGIC TO NC KIDS (Public News Service) -- Writing a letter to Santa is part of a holiday tradition for many North Carolina kids, but the miracle of him writing back is adding some extra sparkle to the season. How does the "big guy" find time to keep up with correspondence? He's got some elves at the U.S. Postal Service.
http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2015-12-23/consumer-issues/dear-santa-usps-delivers-north-pole-magi...

SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES

HALIFAX OFFICIALS WANT SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION SUIT DISMISSED (WRAL-TV) -- A coalition of advocacy groups and parents is suing the Halifax County commissioners over a three-district school system which the plaintiffs say divides children into "good" and "bad" school districts along racial lines.
http://www.wral.com/halifax-officials-want-school-district-consolidation-suit-dismissed/15192599/

NC COMMISSION’S MATH RECOMMENDATIONS DRAW DIVERGENT REACTIONS (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Commission didn’t recommend specific new math standards
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article50...

ANOTHER TRANSITION AHEAD FOR ELIZABETH CITY STATE (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Elizabeth City State University’s future is unclear after the resignation of its leader only 14 months into the job.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article51180165.html#storylink=mainstage

DESIMONE TO RECEIVE NATIONAL MEDAL OF TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION (UNC News) -- UNC Professor Joseph DeSimone will receive the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation — our nation’s highest honors for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology at a White House ceremony early next year. DeSimone is Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts.
http://www.unc.edu/spotlight/desimone-to-receive-national-medal-of-technology-and-innovation/

ASHEVILLE TEACHER RESIGNS AFTER RAISING SAFETY CONCERNS (AP) — Lauren Jones, a former Asheville High School teacher who raised concerns about safety at the high school, has resigned her position at Asheville Middle School. Jones said she was transferred to the middle school from Asheville High in October after she emailed school officials with safety concerns on the high school campus. Jones appealed her transfer, but lost that appeal Friday.
http://www.greensboro.com/news/north_carolina_ap/asheville-teacher-resigns-after-raising-safety-conc...

FORMER CUMBERLAND PTO PRESIDENT FACES EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGE (WRAL-TV) -- Cumberland County authorities said Tuesday that they have charged a former Parent Teacher Organization president with stealing from the group.
http://www.wral.com/former-cumberland-pto-president-faces-embezzlement-charge/15192381/

MORE UNC ACADEMIC FRAUD RECORDS NOW SEARCHABLE (WRAL-TV) -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has released more documents from a trove of 5 million pages of emails, memos and other records collected as part of the investigation into the school's long-running academic fraud scandal.
http://www.wral.com/more-unc-academic-fraud-records-now-searchable/15190226/

WILSON TRYING TO RECOUP MONEY (Wilson Times) -- The Wilson County Board of Education is among the school districts across the state who want to have improper equipment fines assessed against drivers collected and used to help support the school system.
http://www.wilsontimes.com/News/Local/Story/39684678---Wilson-trying-to-recoup-money

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

DUKE-PIEDMONT ACQUISITION CLEARS ANTITRUST REVIEW (Charlotte Observer) – Duke Energy’s acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas has cleared an antitrust hrudle, the companies said Tuesday.
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/article51060450.html

FEDS: NO ANTITRUST ISSUES IN DUKE-PIEDMONT DEAL (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Federal regulators have approved Duke Energy’s proposed $4.9 billion purchase of Piedmont Natural Gas, clearing the antitrust hurdle for the companies and achieving the first of two regulatory approvals required to close the deal.
http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2015/12/22/feds-no-antitrust-issues-in-duke-piedmont-deal.html

FED REGULATORS GIVE OK TO DUKE OFFER FOR PIEDMONT NAT. GAS (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Federal regulators approved a key step Tuesday in Duke Energy’s proposed $6.7 billion purchase of Piedmont Natural Gas. The deal, which would give Duke about a million new customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, was announced Oct. 6.
http://www.greensboro.com/federal-regulators-give-ok-to-duke-offer-for-piedmont-natural/article_4752...

DUKE ENERGY PLANS 15-MEGAWATT SOLAR FARM IN DAVIE COUNTY (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Davie County could gain its second significant solar farm if Duke Energy gains state regulatory permission to build a 15.4-megawatt facility off Crawford Road between Mocksville and Cooleemee.
http://www.journalnow.com/journal_west/news/duke-energy-plans--megawatt-solar-farm-in-davie-county/a...

FROM RAINDROP TO TAP: WHERE YOUR WATER COMES FROM (N.C. Health News) -- This seemingly small convenience – clean tap water – is by no means a worldwide norm. Which got us at N.C. Health News thinking: How do we get our drinking water? What coordinated dance of technology and people allows us to plunge our heads under kitchen taps and drink water with abandon?
http://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2015/12/22/from-raindrop-to-tap-where-your-water-comes-from/

REIDSVILLE MAYOR, NEIGHBORS PROTEST GIANT UTILITY POLES (Greensboro News & Record) -- Residents along Parkway Drive in Reidsville say Duke Energy has lowered their property values with huge, steel transmission poles.
http://www.greensboro.com/news/reidsville-mayor-neighbors-protest-giant-utility-poles/article_ffd98d...

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS QUESTION PLANNED DUKE PLANT (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Several area environmental groups are questioning Duke Energy’s planned natural gas facility at Lake Julian and are asking to be heard on the proposal as it is considered by state utility regulators.
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2015/12/22/environmental-groups-question-planned-duke-plant/...

GROUPS WANT DUKE TO CUT SIZE OF PLANNED ASHEVILLE GAS PLANT (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Two N.C. environmental groups have asked state regulators to let them participate in a review of Duke Energy’s proposed natural gas plant in Asheville, raising objections to part of the utility’s plan.
http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/energy/2015/12/green-groups-want-duke-energy-to-cut-the-si...

GREEN GROUPS WANT DUKE TO CUT SIZE OF PLANNED ASHEVILLE GAS PLANT (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Two N.C. environmental groups have raised objections to part of a plan proposed by Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) to build a natural gas plant that could be as large as 752 megawatts.
http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/morning-edition/2015/12/green-groups-want-duke-energy-to-c...

SUPPORT FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES TAPEWRS AMONG LOCAL GOVTS (Route 50) -- Electric vehicles, sold for their fifth full year by major automakers, are well-established in the U.S., leading some local governments to reduce or eliminate purchase incentives for plug-ins, according to a new Navigant Research report.
http://www.routefifty.com/2015/12/electric-vehicles-local-governments/124710/?oref=rf-today-nl

THE FUTURE IS GREEN (Greensboro News & Record editorial) -- Corning Incorporated, with more than 1,000 N.C. employees, recently signed a 25-year deal to buy most of the electricity generated by the largest solar farm in the Eastern United States. It happens to be operated by Duke Energy Renewables in Edgecombe County. Corning is committed to clean energy. It’s far from alone. So are Greensboro-based VF Corporation, as well as Google, Apple and Facebook, which have built electricity-consuming data centers in the state. They want to power them with renewable energy. They’re also concerned about North Carolina’s retreat from the same commitment.
http://www.greensboro.com/opinion/n_and_r_editorials/our-opinion-the-future-is-green/article_08afa2f...

SHARING THE BEAUTY OF THE N.C. COAST (Coastal Review) -- For those looking to entertain holiday visitors, getting outside and sharing the special places all along the N.C. coast is sure to create lasting memories.
http://www.coastalreview.org/2015/12/sharing-the-beauty-of-the-n-c-coast/

PLEASURE ISLAND BEACHES UNDERGO $10M NOURISHMENT PROJECT (WUNC-FM) -- Kure and Carolina Beaches are closed until spring for a roughly $10 million beach nourishment project. Sand dredged up from the ocean is being used to replenish the eroding beaches.
http://wunc.org/post/pleasure-island-beaches-undergo-10m-nourishment-project

EDITORIALS

MCCRORY ACTS TO PROTECT WORKERS WRONGLY CLASSIFIED AS CONTRACTORS (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is due credit for stepping in where legislators of his own party failed to act. He has moved to protect workers and businesses that play by the rules when it comes to classifying workers as employees or contractors.
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article51165890.html

LEAVING EDUCATORS OUT OF THE CONVERSATION ON PATH FOR NC SCHOOLS (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- The current North Carolina government has not proven itself to be competent in setting its own path in public education
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article51161310.html

REFUGEE REQUEST REASONABLE, BUT DON'T DIM LIBERTY'S LIGHT (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Yes, we are a beacon to the world, for those who seek justice, democracy, tolerance, a better life and freedom. Times like these dim that lamp, but we must never allow it to be extinguished by the darkness of fear.
http://www.reflector.com/opinion/editorials/refugee-request-reasonable-don8217t-dim-liberty8217s-lig...

NOT QUITE THE ‘NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS’ (N.C. Policy Watch column) -- ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through Raleigh town; Politicians filed for the next election round. There was Richard and Deborah; don’t forget Chris Rey. For GOP governor, Bob Brawley had a say. Brawley’s filing annoyed the Guv’s re-election hunt; So they leaked scary emails to “news” team Jones & Blount.
http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/12/23/twas-the-night-before-christmas/

TOO MANY IN NC LEGISLATURE RUN UNOPPOSED (Raleigh News & Observer) - The filing deadline often brings the end of the campaign for nearly a third of the General Assembly’s seats. Both parties should put up more candidates to foster more contested elections and more democracy.
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article51165580.html#storylink=mainstage

LEAVING EDUCATORS OUT OF CONVERSATION ON PATH FOR NC SCHOOLS (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, “states would have more say in setting their own paths in public education”
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article51161310.html

COURTS GET POLITICAL IN TUSSLE OVER REDISTRICTING (Fayetteville Observer) -- We really would have enjoyed being surprised by this one. Unfortunately, the members of the N.C. Supreme Court voted in completely partisan fashion to again uphold the redistricting maps that the Republican-led General Assembly created in 2011.
http://www.fayobserver.com/opinion/editorials/our-view-courts-get-political-in-tussle-over-redistric...

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