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Archive for September, 2011

WWAY reporting Brian Berger to hold 7:30 p.m. news conference

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

According to WWAY, embattled New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger will hold a news conference at 7:30 tonight at the government center in Wilmington.Check back for more as this story develops.

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Belville mayor says relationship not inappropriate

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Belville Mayor Jack Batson, who is facing censure tonight, said he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong.

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Prison program gives inmates, dogs “New Leash on Life”

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — You’ve heard of a new lease on life, but how about a “New Leash on Life?”

The Pender Correctional Institution celebrated three years of inmates training dogs to be partnered with families. But the nine-week experience impacts more than just the dogs whose lives are saved.

“You just open the crate, and there she is, wagging her tail and happy,” Janet Smith said of the dog she adopted from the “New Leash on Life” program. “She’ll jump up and give you morning kisses.”

Smith was the first person to adopt a dog through the program. Three years and 16 graduating classes later, inmates at Pender Correctional Institution have trained dozens of shelter dogs adopted by loving families.

“They get a dog that’s already a companion animal, so they stay in their homes,” Barb Raab, president of Monty’s Home, said. “People are just really thrilled with the dogs that come from here.”

Raab teaches the inmates how to train the dogs. She says not only is it a win-win for the dogs and inmates, but also for taxpayers’ wallets.

“It costs $100 to capture, house, and eventually euthanize an adoptable animal,” Raab said. “The recidivism of the inmates, too. They don’t come back to prison once they’ve been through one of these programs, and housing an inmate is like $40,000 to $45,000 a year.”

Raab says the program has not only saved lives, it has changed lives.

“Helping them has helped me, and that’s the greatest thing I can tell you,” inmate David Shimp said. “And then knowing that it goes on. It’s even paying it forward even more, because the families that adopt the dogs.”

“She’s my best friend,” Smith said. “That’s all I can say. She’s my best friend.”

So far the program has graduated 63 dogs, all of which have been adopted. A new class starts Monday.

The New Leash on Life program will expand to New Hanover Correctional Center in January.

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Berger to address recent actions at news conference

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A day after his fellow commissioners called for his resignation, New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger will hold a new conference of his own this evening.

Berger says he will hold a “brief press conference” at the New Hanover County Government Center at 7:30 p.m. “to address past, present and future implications of the commissioner’s actions in recent weeks.”

WWAY will have a crew at the event. We will have updates online and on-air throughout the evening.

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ONLY ON 3: Can voters recall Brian Berger?

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger has had a chaotic and controversial couple of weeks. It all came to a head yesterday when the other county commissioners asked for his resignation.

Wednesday night Berger released a statement saying he looks forward to continuing his service as a county commissioner. That has many thinking could or will there be a recall vote?

“I would need to have a substantial number of people ask me to do that,” Rep. Carolyn Justice (R-16th District) said. “I might even require them to get petitions signed and I see that it’s something that folks really want.”

State legislators from our region understand that because of the situation with Berger many people are wondering about a recall vote. Fellow commissioners asked Berger Wednesday to resign, because his personal issues have become, they said, a public distraction.

When Berger said he would not resign, it left questions about pushing a bill through the legislature to do something about it. One Pender County town recently had a similar issue.

“I recently did one for the Town of Topsail Beach,” Justice said about a recall bill. “I required that a substantial number of people actually ask me to do it. Once I wrote the bill it required that 30 percent of the registered voters petition to have it done. Then it goes on a ballot, and we decide, when writing the bill, whether it’s going on the next ballot or we choose when it’s going to be heard.”

Justice, who supported Berger’s run for county commission, says she would need Rep. Danny McComas and Rep. Susi Hamilton of New Hanover County to agree to support a recall bill in the legislature’s short session next spring. They would also need the support of Sen. Thom Goolsby, who represented Berger in court after he was arrested in June.

Rep. McComas was out of town Thursday, but said by phone that legislation can only be made while in session, and that will not happen until May. He said one thing that could get the ball rolling would be if New Hanover County Commissioners pass a resolution asking for the legislature to weigh in.

Justice says the key to considering something like this is local support.

“I think you know by listening to the news, I think you know by your phone calls, the people you meet in restaurants, I mean, you know when it begins to build and it’s something that people want,” she said.

We tried to get talk with Sen. Goolsby and Rep. Hamilton, but they have not return our calls.

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News provided by WWAY NewsChannel 3 and the StarNewsOnline

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