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Archive for July, 2009

Oak Island bridge cracks could be repairable

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

By Shelby SebensShelby.Sebens@StarNewsOnline.com

The hairline fractures found in five of the 56 concrete girders being erected at the new bridge to Oak Island prompted the N.C. Department of Transportation to halt work and inspect their severity.

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Troubleshooters: Drowning in more water bill problems

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

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Julie Little used to pay about $50 every other month for sewer, based on the gallons of water she used at her house. The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority recently made some changes, and went to a flat rate system of $82.50 per household for sewer service.

“I think it’s kind of a gimmick to get more money out of people, because some people are just saying the heck with it, and paying the $82.50,” said Little.

When Julie’s neighborhood off Cathay Road was built, county water was not an option, so a private company called Aqua built the water system. Until recently, Aqua read the customers meters to put together water bills, and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority did their own, separate meter readings for the sewer bills – but not anymore.

“When Aqua asked us not to read their meters, we obliged, and switched all our customers to the flat rate,” described CFPUA customer service director Martha Zeigler.

Aqua tells WWAY there were liability concerns with outside agencies like the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority reading their water meters, so they put a stop to it. CFPUA customers can still qualify for a sewer rate based on usage, but to qualify they have to fill out an application, then show proof of their water usage.

Sally Farias is also upset about her sewer bill. “In order to keep your meter read, not the flat rate, you had to fax in your water bill every month, which to me, I don’t have time for that,” she said.

The good news is, this is only temporary. The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is working with Aqua to come up with a list of customers they have in common. Once that happens, Aqua will start sending the CFPUA a list of meter readings each month, so that the agency can calculate sewer bills without customers having to mail in any information.

“We realize that customers are upset about the change, but we’re trying to work with the customers to come up with a solution,” said Zeigler. “while we are currently working with Aqua to get these meter readings in automatically.”

The agencies hope to have this worked out in the next couple of months. In the meantime, save your water bills.

If you missed the July deadline for getting the metered rate, you’ll have another chance to apply in December, and the utility authority will credit you for all the bills you’ve saved since the changes went into effect.

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videoJulie Little called our newsroom recently, upset about her bill from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. The agency has fixed the computer glitch that caused billing problems all over New Hanover County, but a new problem has cropped up.

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Associated poll

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New law is leaving identity thieves out in the cold

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

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Each year, identity thieves steal more than a billion dollars from consumers. Whether you are at a store, an ATM, or shopping online – anyone’s identity can be swiped if they are not paying attention. “You have to be cognizant of where you use your card, who you give your information to, you just have to keep on top of all of that,” said Sgt. Craig Bredenbeck of New Hanover County sheriff’s Office.

“When someone steals your information, like your social security number or other personal information, they’ll go out and try to set up a credit card or loan in your name and that’s what happens with identity theft,” described NC Attorney General Roy Cooper.

A new law will allow consumers to stop the thief cold in their tracks. With a security freeze, the bank won’t issue that credit card or that loan to the criminal because you will have frozen your credit. The new law, which goes into effect October 1st, allows consumers to go online to freeze or unfreeze their credit for free.

“I definitely think it’s a good thing, because before you actually had to make a written request and provide documentation that you were the actual person,” Shannon Blizzard of Long Acquisitions said.

Offering the service online could make it easier to keep consumers safe, but experts say they don’t expect identity thieves to disappear.

“It has probably added to the prevention and helping in maybe deterring identity theft, but it’s not going to totally stop it,” Sgt. Bredenbeck said.

The new law will also prevent creditors from reporting victims’ debts to national credit bureaus, and require credit monitoring services to notify consumers about their eligibility for one free credit report each year.

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videoLast year, nationally, more than 10 million of us were victims of identity theft. Now, North Carolina lawmakers are taking extra steps to keep consumers safe. A new law will allow consumers to block their credit lines free online.

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Associated poll

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CFCC graduates receive tools of the trade

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

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Some Cape Fear Community College graduates are getting a jump start on their careers.

Anonymous donors are providing free tools to three graduates of the school’s Heating and Air Conditioning program. Ordinarily, they would have to buy their own tools. But because of someone’s generosity, they each a complete set of tools for the trade.

“It’s an awesome award to be given and monetarily helps me so don’t have to make that investment and can get to work,” said Bob Sclaline.

Paul Boro also received some tools. He said, “This right here is saving me $1,000 and that gives me $1,000 dollars to invest in other tools or advertising. It is a huge help.”

The three recipients had all gone back to school, either because of the economy or because they needed a career change.

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Some Cape Fear Community College graduates are getting a jump start on their careers.

Anonymous donors are providing free tools to three graduates of the school’s Heating and Air Conditioning program.

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Associated poll

More: continued here

Cue the ‘Jaws’ music – alligator takes a dip at Topsail Beach

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

By Saja HindiSaja.Hindi@StarNewsOnline.com

Police are patrolling Topsail Beach for an alligator last spotted in the surf in the 500 block of North Anderson Boulevard.

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