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Archive for October, 2009

Democratic Senator Basnight speaks out about Soles

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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Tuesday, Senate Republican leader Phil Berger spoke to WWAY about two ongoing SBI investigations into Senator RC Soles. Wednesday, the top Democrat senator responded.

Senator Soles is under investigation by the SBI for accusations of sexual misconduct, and for shooting a former client at his home in late August.

Senator Marc Basnight is the Senate President Pro-Tem. We asked him what impact the SBI investigations could have on Senator Soles’ role as Chairman of the Commerce Committee and Chair of the Democratic Caucus.

Senator Basnight responded in a statement. “Senator Soles has been an outstanding senator on behalf of the people of this state and as effective and dedicated as I’ve ever seen for the people he represents in his district. It would be unfair to him and to the people he represents to rush to judgment.”

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Tuesday, Senate Republican leader Phil Berger spoke to WWAY about two ongoing SBI investigations into Senator RC Soles. Wednesday, the top Democrat senator responded.

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Associated poll

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Cape Fear Skyway Bridge Project still up in the air

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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The Cape Fear Skyway Bridge Project has come to a fork in the road. Wednesday, elected leaders who make up the Transportation Advisory Committee met to discuss the billion dollar project that would connect New Hanover and Brunswick counties.

It looks like it will be another few weeks before there could be a decision about whether the project becomes a reality.

While leaders are all in agreement that there needs to be a solution to a growing traffic issue through New Hanover and Brunswick counties, it’s where the bridge will go that’s up for debate.

Previous plans for the bridge would cut directly in to the Brunswick County subdivision, Snee Farm. Wednesday, two new ideas were proposed. They would bypass residential areas, and go north of the Brunswick Forest subdivision. Brunswick County officials are generally in favor of those plans.

“The Skyway Project, is a critical need for the future transportation needs of southeastern North Carolina. Where it goes is the key, and the latest route that they’ve proposed is the only one that I could give serious consideration to,” said Brunswick County Commissioner Bill Sue.

But time is ticking on the New Hanover county side. Right now the land where the bridge would start, at Carolina Beach Road and Independence is protected. That protection runs out this Sunday.

Wilmington transportation planners say there’s no point in stopping development there, to hold it for a bridge, if an agreement can’t be reached on where the bridge lets out on the Brunswick County side.

From here, the transportation authority will review the new plans for the bridge and get community feedback.

The next meeting is October 28th at Wilmington City Hall.

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The Cape Fear Skyway Bridge Project has come to a fork in the road. Wednesday, elected leaders who make up the Transportation Advisory Committee met to discuss the billion dollar project that would connect New Hanover and Brunswick counties.

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Associated poll

More: continued here

Early voting kicks off election season

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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Election season is upon us. The Brunswick County Board of Elections spent the day making the final preparations for early voting, which kicks off Thursday. The polls will open at 8:00 a.m.

After last year’s presidential election, officials expect a much smaller turnout this time around.

“We have five machines available, but we can activate more if needed,” said Greg Bellamy of the Brunswick County Board of Elections. “We have 11 workers prepared besides our staff, so we’re ready.”

If you have not registered to vote, early voting will be your last chance. You will need proper identification and proof of address.

Early voting will run until October 31st.

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Election season is upon us. The Brunswick County Board of Elections spent the day making the final preparations for early voting, which kicks off Thursday.

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Associated poll

More: continued here

Rise in unemployment driving many to enlist in military

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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With unemployment rates on the rise throughout the country, more people are choosing to march to the military recruitment office rather than the unemployment office. Military enrollment is the highest it’s been since the volunteer military started in 1973.

“I decided to join the army because I think it’s the best career decision a young person can make because there are not many jobs out there now with the economy being down,” said new Army recruit Michael Caldwell.

Caldwell is part of a youth troop that’s storming military recruitment offices throughout the country.

For the first time in more than 35 years the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines have all met their recruitment goals, and it’s no different here in the port city.

“We in the Wilmington area have seen a slight increase in the numbers and the quality of personnel that we have been putting in the Army,” said Sgt. John Jones of the Army.

Ninety-five percent of new recruits have at least graduated from high school, and with increasing unemployment it’s easier for many to choose from more than 100 career opportunities offered by the army than applying the old fashioned way.

“So if you want to be that radiologist or the optometry lab specialist you can be that exact person,” Jones said.

With ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many of the newly enlisted will likely go to war. Rather than fighting for jobs, more people are choosing to fight for their country.

“If I wasn’t joining the army, I’d be working in a job that wouldn’t give me any benefits or give me any financial security in the long run,” Caldwell said.

Recruiters say student loans are another incentive driving more young people to the military.

Full-time military members are eligible to receive up to $65,000 to pay back their loans.

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videoWith unemployment rates on the rise throughout the country, more people are choosing to march to the military recruitment office rather than the unemployment office. Military enrollment is the highest it’s been since the volunteer military started in 1973.

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Associated poll

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Mental health industry gets financial lift

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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The struggling mental health sector just received some much needed funds. The state released 15 million dollars to help bring back some important services.

Considering that money will be spread among more than 100 providers in our area, will it make a dent?

Since 2006, Southeastern Mental Health has had to cut services and providers, leaving many patients with mental health and developmental disabilities to fend for themselves. About a month ago it closed its doors, they just didn’t have the money to keep going.

“We’ve been forced to close some of our group homes, which the children really need to be in, we had six homes, now we’re down to two,” said community services director Carolyn Blue.

Blue and members of her family started Word of Life Outreach in 2002.

As a former schoolteacher, Blue saw the need to help treat at risk youth with mental health and developmental disorders. State cutbacks have forced mental health providers like her to pay out of their own pockets just to keep their organizations alive.

“But now the savings and stuff is gone, because you had to keep things a float,” said AJ Johnson, director of business affairs.

“For the past two years, at least two and a half years we’ve kept staff on, when we really couldn’t afford to keep staff on,” Blue said.

Southeastern Center for Mental Health got word Wednesday that 15 million dollars will be available to help offset the state budget.

The center’s director, Foster Norman anticipates using $400,000 to bring back services that had been cut.

Carolyn Blue says the community service treatment that helps patients transition back into society is one area suffering the most. “We’re forcing them back into the communities, and they’re the ones who will end up raping our children, raping our grandparents, and breaking into stores and stuff, and murdering people, having accidents, and they will end up in prison.”

That money still has to be spread among hundreds of providers in our area, but Southeastern anticipates using the funds for adult substance abuse or child developmental disability services.

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videoThe struggling mental health sector just received some much needed funds. The state released 15 million dollars to help bring back some important services.

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Associated poll

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