Headlines from Murphy to Manteo

Top news from across the state of North Carolina

Western N.C. towns listed among national top 30 spots

Buncombe and Lenoir counties – Asheville and Hickory have made National Geographic’s list of 30 best small towns in America. Issuing the list as a recommendation for tourists wanting a taste of the state, the publication citied Asheville’s thriving craft beer industry and art community as a big draw. Editors called Hickory “hipster-friendly” because of its vintage clothing boutiques, tattoo parlors and the Hickory Hops Festival. National Geographic said they judged the towns based on green space, community event, and “Instagrammable moments.” Source: National Geographic

Cherokee tribe sues opioid makers

Haywood County – The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages from 23 companies that manufacture or distribute opioids. The suit alleges violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as well as negligence, conspiracy, fraud and creation of a public nuisance. The 161-page complaint seeks money for costs incurred to provide treatment, counseling, rehabilitative services, care for the children of addicted parents and law enforcement for opioid addiction. The tribe says that its new treatment center in Snowbird costs $13 million and it has so far spent $35 million on a planned crisis stabilization unit. Buncombe County and Catawba County had already filed similar legal action. source: Smoky Mountain News

Owen wrestling coach fired after altercation with parent

Buncombe County – The Buncombe County Board of Education last week upheld the school system’s decision to fire Owen High School’s wrestling coach. Lucas Pokorny had the support of a dozen students and their families at the school board meeting, but the members decided to fire him based on a zero-tolerance policy. Student witnesses said the coach was in the school gym during a practice and corrected the push-up technique of a student athlete. A parent objected, argued and an altercation ensued. A dozen Owen High wrestlers and their parents showed up at a school board hearing to support Pokorny. He said he will appeal the decision. source: Black Mountain News

Jackson County is a good place to be a cat

Jackson County – Jackson County passed a milestone in 2017. For the first time in 36 years, the Jackson County Animal Shelter did not have to euthanize any healthy, adoptable cats due to a lack of space at the shelter. The shelter Facebook pages says they are at capacity for dogs. The shelter says that they charge $70 to adopt a dog and $55 to adopt cats. The fee includes a voucher for spay or neuter and a housing fee. source: Sylva Herald

Lake James has record number of visitors

McDowell and Burke counties – State parks across North Carolina broke records in 2017 for the number of visitors. Ranger Jamie Cameron at Lake James reported an 8 percent increase in visitors for 2017 with 586,000 people exploring the state park. The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources reported that 19.4 million visitors toured state parks across N.C. in 2017, a 3.4 percent increase over 2016. source: N.C. Department of Cultural Resources

Escaped inmate returned to custody

Forsyth County – Forsyth Correctional Center said Bobby Abraham returned to custody Monday morning just hours after he walked away from a work assignment in Winston-Salem. Officials say he will face charges for his escape. Abraham, 28, is a minimum custody inmate serving a sentence for attempted trafficking of a Schedule 2 drug in Mecklenburg County. He was due to be released in April 2019. source: NC Department of Public Safety

Commission meets on fate of Confederate statues

Wake County – The North Carolina Historical Commission held its first meeting on studying whether to move three Confederate statues from the State Capitol grounds. The five-member commission was petitioned by the N.C. Department of Administration under Gov. Roy Cooper in September requesting that the monuments be moved to a Civil War battlefield 50 miles outside of Raleigh. State law only allows monuments to be moved to places of similar honor and prominence. Source: N.C. Historical Commission

Truck driver charged in traffic death of Salisbury family

Rowan County – An Illinois truck driver has been charged in the deaths of four members of a Salisbury family stemming from an interstate crash in southern West Virginia. The Gilley family – David and Christine Gilley and their children, Jack and Grace – were killed in April when a tractor-trailer crossed the median on I-77, striking their SUV which rolled and caught fire. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Bertram Copeland of Rockford, Ill., was arraigned Monday on four counts of negligent homicide and reckless driving. He is free on bond according to West Virginia State Police. Source: WNCN

Evernham inducted in NASCAR Hall of Fame

Mecklenburg County – Ray Evernham, 60, was inducted on the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte Friday. As Jeff Gordon’s longtime crew chief, Evernham served for three of Gordon’s four NASCAR Cup Series championships at Hendrick Motorsports before owning a flagship team himself that led to some of the sport’s great crowning moments. Under Evernham’s leadership with the famed “Rainbow Warriors” No. 24 Chevrolet team, Gordon rolled to 47 Cup wins in just seven full seasons. Fellow Hall of Famer Bill Elliott later earned Evernham Motorsports its inaugural victory in that 2001 season finale at Homestead, Fla. — the first of 15 total wins for Evernham’s team. Source: Field Level Media

VGCC President named N.C. President of the Year

Vance County – Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of Vance-Granville Community College, has been named President of the Year for 2018 by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges. She is the first leader in VGCC history to receive the honor. The President of the Year Award, sponsored by Wells Fargo, was established by the State Board in 2001. This award encourages, identifies, and rewards outstanding leadership and commitment to the community college mission among the presidents of the 58 institutions of the North Carolina Community College System. source: Vance-Granville Community College

Wright to receive Friday Award

New Hanover County – North Carolina State University will present the 2018 William C. Friday Award to Amy Wright for her leadership and entrepreneurship as an advocate for people with disabilities. Wright is the Founder and CEO of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, an award-winning coffee shop in Wilmington that employs 40 intellectually disabled people. Wright was recently named 2017 CNN Hero of the Year. The Award is presented annually to individuals that carry on Mr. Friday’s dedication to leadership, scholarship, service, and character. The award ceremony will be held on Jan. 31. source: NCSU

Vidant nurse named NC School Nurse of Year 

Pitt County– The School Nurse Association of North Carolina (SNANC) recently named Terri L. Joyner, MSN, RN, NCSN, its School Nurse Administrator of the Year. Joyner, who has served Vidant Medical Center in a variety of roles in her 30-year career, has been a member of the hospital’s School Health team for 15 years. Vidant’s School Health Program began in March 1996, with its growth attributed in part to Terri’s contributions and leadership. Her oversight of 20 school nurses who serve 37 schools in Pitt County has a wide-reaching impact on the care students receive every day. source: Vidant Medical Center