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Archive for July, 2009

President Obama brings health care message to North Carolina

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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President Barack Obama brought his push for health care reform to the Tar Heel State Wednesday. He spoke to citizens at a town hall meeting in Raleigh.

A standing-room only crowd greeted the President at Raleigh’s Broughton High School Wednesday, as he turns up the rhetoric to try and sell his health care reform plan.

“If you’ve got health insurance, then the reform we’re proposing will also help you, because it will provide you more stability and more security,” Obama said.

The President said his plan would cap out-of-pocket costs for patients, require insurance companies cover check-ups and preventative care, keep insurers from capping yearly and lifetime coverage and prevent them from denying you coverage because of your medical history. He also said it would help lower prescription costs and help small businesses provide insurance for workers.

Wilmington resident Kay Zwan knows about facing these challenges. We first met Zwan in February. She told us she lost private coverage for her family when she lost her job. This was made even more difficult because her husband and son both battle chronic illnesses when she lost her job last year.

“We’ve got to break that monopoly so that people, all classes of people, and those that are sick and disabled have access to the affordable care that they need,” Zwan said Wednesday in Raleigh.

But critics say the President’s plan would cost about a trillion dollars over ten years on top of the huge deficit the nation already faces.

Governor Bev Perdue supports reform, but wants to make sure it doesn’t burden families or the state.

Perdue said “It’s gotta be the right cost, the right care at the right place at the right time.”

The president said about two-thirds of the cost is already in the health care system. He said it just needs to be spent the right way on the right things.

And as congress works on reform, the President wants the goal kept in focus.

“Here in North Carolina you know this isn’t about politics, this is about people’s lives,” Obama said, “It’s about people’s businesses. This is about the future.”

The President originally wanted a health care reform package from Congress before its August recess. Wednesday he said the best-case scenario would be the House and Senate to vote on it by late September or October.

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President Barack Obama told North Carolinians his plan would cap out-of-pocket costs for patients, require insurance companies cover check-ups and preventative care, keep insurers from capping yearly and lifetime coverage and prevent them from denying you coverage because of your medical history.

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Associated poll

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School District in Limbo due to State Budget on hold

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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Kids go back to school in a few weeks but what will they go back to? From teachers to textbooks, there’s plenty of uncertainty because of the state budget deadlock. School districts are still faced with making some tough decisions about funding. Many wonder if it will boil down to hurting those who keep schools going.

The general assembly has yet to decided on a budget governor perdue will sign, leaving school district’s funding in limbo. Brunswick County Human Resources Director, Terry Chestnutt says depending on the legislature and what funds are available we don’t know what we will have to do. Brunswick county schools are anticipating a 5.5 million dollar reduction in it’s funding. New hanover county schools may see a ten million dollar reduction, leaving the question of possible layoffs on the table.

For both Brunswick and New Hanover counties, when it comes to sparing jobs, the name of the game is shifting. Open spaces from vacant positions, retirements, resignations. New schools opening have allowed teachers and teacher’s assistants to be transferred to those spots, instead of losing their jobs.

This week Governor Perdue sent a message to school officials saying “The general assembly must put aside it’s differences and bring me a budget plan that protects public school classrooms” or she will not sign it.

New Hanover County Human Resources Director John Welmers says “right now we do not anticipate a reduction in force or cutting any personnel now that is anticipating based on what the budget does.” Even with kids heading back to the classrooms, districts will still have to wait and see.

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Kids go back to school in a few weeks but what will they go back to?

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Associated poll

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Marino on Money: Summer break on a budget

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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This week, I am talking about saving money on a vacation. Remember one of my favorite sayings, “convenience has a cost,” Going out to lunch costs more than packing a lunch. The same principal applies to eating during vacations. Eating out regularly, or buying what you need while on vacation is much more expensive than planning ahead and bringing what you need.

Being flexible can also save money. Ask yourself, how badly do I want what I want? I have learned that there are always alternatives for whatever I want which are less expensive. I will agree that when it comes to theme parks, there is nothing like Disney. However, other parks are much less expensive. Jungle Rapids is in Wilmington, the Freestyle Music Park is two hours away in Myrtle Beach, and Carowinds is four hours away near charlotte. They are not Disney, but when you consider the price, it’s a great deal.

If you still want to go to Disney, then look at the off season. Many families, including ours, go to Disney in September or October. The prices are lower and the parks are less crowded. Their peak is summer, some holidays, and spring. If you are flexible with dates, you can save a tremendous amount of money on vacations.

Find the value weeks or off season for wherever you want to do. Then, sign up for email specials. For example, if you like cruises, then sign up for cruise deals from AAA, travel agencies, or different websites.

Ross Marino is a Certified Financial Planner. You can reach Ross by calling him at (910) 395-1991. If you have a financial question for Marino on Money, visit the Marino on Money page.

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We’re a couple of months into summer, but it’s not too late to take that vacation. This week Marino on Money shares some tips for smart spending on your summer break.

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Hampstead dachshund saved from onion overdose

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

By Ben Steelman,Ben.Steelman@StarNewsOnline.com

During a backyard cookout, Rommel gobbled down a roasted onion on a dropped kebab. Big mistake: In no time, the dog was deathly ill.

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Arson suspected in Tabor City fire; Victim has ties to State Senator

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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A Columbus County 17-year-old is recovering, after escaping from his burning house overnight. Fire investigators say it looks like arson.

The victim, Allen Strickland, has been in the news before. He’s a law client of State Senator RC Soles, and the two have a rocky relationship that’s required police intervention on more than one occasion.

Allen Strickland’s brand new home in Tabor City has been reduced to a burnt-out frame.
Strickland says the home was paid for by Senator Soles.

Strickland says he woke up around 4 o’clock Wednesday morning to a room full of smoke, and tried to escape through his bedroom window, but it exploded, burning his arm. He finally made it out through a back window upstairs.

“It was either stay in there or jump out, so I jumped out,” Strickland said. “When I got down I laid on the ground and thanked the Lord that I made it out of there”

About 45 minutes before the fire, Strickland says he heard someone knocking at his front door. But before he could see who it was, they were gone, and Allen went back to bed. He says there’s a lot of people who could have set his house on fire.

“This whole town is jealous of how I got that house, how I got my car, how I get money and all, and everybody just can’t stand it,” Strickland said.

When asked if thinks someone was trying to kill him, he replied, “Yeah, somebody is trying to hurt me. Whoever did it, they did it with the intention of me getting killed”

Allen says Senator RC Soles paid for his house, his car, and gives him a regular allowance as part of an arrangement they have if Allen agrees to finish school.

Allen doesn’t have a job, and his parents aren’t active in his life, so the money to buy these things obviously has to come from somewhere. But he says all the transactions between he and the senator have been in cash.

WWAY has been calling RC Soles for weeks to ask the Senator for details. Soles has yet to return our calls. On Tuesday, morning anchor Kevin Wuzzardo asked the Senator about the alleged gifts during an unrelated interview. This is what happened:

Kevin: “On another matter, a young man named Allen Strickland told us that you’ve given him tens of thousands of dollars to pay for his house and his car, as part of an arrangement that if he finishes school, you’ll buy him these things. Have you given him that money?:

Soles: “I cannot hear you.”

Kevin: (Louder) “A young man named Allen Strickland told us that you’ve given him tens of thousands of dollars to pay for his house and his car.”

Soles: “I cannot hear you, speak up.”

Kevin: (Louder) “A young man named Allen Strickland – “

Soles: “Speak up.”

Kevin: “Do you hear me, Senator?”

The phone then went dead.

The senator knew he was being recorded, and he had not had any problems hearing the previous nine minutes of an interview about the budget. When we tried to call him back after the line went dead, he was no longer available.

Back in Tabor City, authorities have called in the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the suspected arson, and say it may become an even bigger case since Strickland was inside during the fire.

“We can’t say that it was an attempt on his life, we don’t know yet,” Tabor City Police Captain Dean Foley told WWAY. “You’ve talked with him and you know his side of it. Right now we’re looking at it as just a possible arson. Until that time, we know if it was an attempted murder or not”

Police are planning on increased patrols for Allen Strickland’s protection, and if he cooperates, they’d like to keep up with him on a daily basis.

WWAY will continue to try to reach Senator Soles for clarification.

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A Columbus County teen is recovering after escaping from his burning house overnight. Fire investigators say it looks like arson. The victim, Allen Strickland, is a law client of Sen. RC Soles, and says Soles gave him money to purchase the house.

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Associated poll

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