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Archive for October, 2011

FIRST ON 3: Festival Latino owes county money, may lose site

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The annual Festival Latino should kick off in a couple of weeks, but not unless its organizer pays the bills. Money from last year’s event is still overdue, and the group needs to pay for this year’s festival before it can go on.

“(Festival organizer Lucy) Vasquez has had a long-standing event. This is unusual that she goes this long without a payment,” New Hanover County Parks Director Jim McDaniel said.

Festival Latino has been around for more than a decade. The annual event in Wilmington is a fundraiser for the non-profit group Amigos Internacional. But there may not be a festival this year if Vasquez does not pay her bill to New Hanover County.

“There is a little over $1,000 for 2010, and there is $1,255, I believe, for 2011,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel says payments to use a county facility are typically required before an event, but for 2010’s festival he made an exception and allowed Vasquez to pay for Hugh MacRae park after the event. It’s been almost a year, though, and she still has not paid.

“We sent her an invoice in March and July and September for 2010,” McDaniel said.

Vasquez says she got the invoices, but she was too preoccupied with this year’s festival to pay last year’s bill.

“I think I mentioned it in passing when I’ve spoken to them, like, ‘I’ve gotten your bill. There’s something there I need to talk about. We’ll work on it,'” Vasquez said.

This year’s Festival Latino is scheduled to be at Ogden Park November 12, but if Vasquez doesn’t pay up by Friday, it’s not going to happen.

“I have another group interested in Ogden for the weekend she plans to hold her festival, and I gave her until Friday to get this all cleared up,” McDaniel said.

Vasquez seemed confident that her event will go as planned.

“We had a meeting yesterday, and we discussed everything that had to be done, and we left with an understanding, and I’m confident that everything is going to be wonderful,” she said.

Festival Latino typically brings in about 20,000 people from all backgrounds in southeastern North Carolina.

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Accident causing traffic delays

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

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Board of Elections to be more visible

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Department creates an ‘elections outreach coordinator’

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Candidate profile: Ronald Sparks

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With early voting underway and Election Day right around the corner, we’ve been introducing your to the candidates for Wilmington City Council.

So far we’ve met the challengers in the race. Now the two incumbents.

Ronald Sparks says his background and experience makes him an ideal selection for voters.

Sparks has served on Wilmington City Council since 2007. He’s a native Wilmingtonian; born, raised and educated right here in the Cape Fear.

“I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a BS in physics, actually tripled majored in math, chemistry, and physics. Ended up with a bs in physics, minors in math and chemistry. I worked in this area my whole career,” Sparks said.

Sparks, an engineer, says he first ran for office because he was concerned with the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. He says his core concerns for running the first time around are the same for this election.

“My campaign focus has always been housing, infrastructure and public safety,” he said.

Sparks says his experience as an incumbent has made him realize the challenges that come when one sticks up for an issue.

“When you are looking at a big budget like we have, infrastructure a lot of times gets pushed away from other things. No one really gets excited about a sewer line ribbon cutting, and for the last 60 years I don’t think the amount of attention has been placed on infrastructure,” Sparks said.

This election, though, has brought much attention to the topic of jobs. Many voters want to know what candidates plan to do to encourage job creation in the Port City. Sparks says it all comes back to infrastructure. He says companies look for well kept areas, not places that are dealing with sewer line or road issues. Sparks says small businesses have to be kept in mind as well.

“We want to make sure that we are helping the small businessman do his business and not putting stones in their way that prevents them from doing business,” he said.

As an incumbent Sparks has found himself the target for many newcomers to the political scene, who’s message revolves around change.

“I have found some of the rhetoric kind of not useful,” Sparks said. “This is a non-partisan election, and some folks want to bring partisan thinking into this election, and that’s not good. If you look at Washington, DC, which is completely partisan and the amount of gridlock they have there, we don’t want that kind of gridlock in Wilmington.”

Come Election Day Sparks is confident that voters will see past the talk of others and realize he is a great choice to once again serve on council

Our Wilmington City Council candidate profiles wrap up tomorrow with the other incumbent Laura Padgett.

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Obama announces help for student loan borrowers

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

AP Education Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says it has never been more important for Americans to get a college education. But he says it has also never been more expensive to do so.

Speaking at the University of Colorado in Denver, the president announced new executive actions to lower student loan payments. The initiative accelerates an income-based repayment plan that reduces the maximum required payment on student loans to 10 percent of annual income. The measure was supposed to go into effect in 2014, but Obama wants it to start next year.

Obama also announced a program to allow borrowers to consolidate their loans and get a lower interest rate.

The president says by lowering loan payments, people will feel more confident buying houses and making other purchases that will give the economy a much needed boost.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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