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Archive for February, 2012

ONLY ON 3: Brunswick Co. footing bill to cover private ambulance company’s service cuts

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Brunswick County is scrambling trying to figure out how to fill the gap left behind when a private ambulance company made big staff cuts this week. Amera-Tech gave the county little notice it was laying off EMTs, which left emergency services in a bind.

Amera-Tech responded to non-emergency calls transporting, on average, 7,400 patients a year in Brunswick County.

The company most recently made headlines in October, when one of its ambulance drivers was charged with running a red light and killing a 19-year-old woman.

Friday, the company’s owner, Ervin Jacobs, called Brunswick County EMS Director Brian Watts.

“Basically he told me that they were going to need to be cutting back and starting monday morning would not be able to provide the non-emergency ambulance services that they had provided for so long,” Watts said.

Watts knew Amera-Tech was having financial problems, but he didn’t realize he would only be get 72 hours notice.

Amera-Tech is one of two private ambulance franchises in Brunswick County. Now that it is no longer offering medical transports, the county has had to step up and fill in the hole.

“We were able to, starting Monday morning, staff up some extra ambulances and put a process in place to take the calls and to prioritize the calls, dispatch the calls and actually do the transports,” Watts said.

The county is using part time employees and paying overtime. It’s a move that is affecting its budget.

“I wanted to do this as fiscally responsible as possible as I can, but at the same time it’s a service that has to be provided, so we’ve got to be able to balance the service provided with the cost,” Watts said.

The county is looking into a long term solution.

We called Jacobs and left several messages. He has not returned our call.

More: continued here

NC House forming task force aimed at unemployment fraud

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina House is forming a task
force to see what it can do to discourage people from attempting to
bilk the state unemployment insurance system of benefits.

House Speaker Thom Tillis announced Tuesday the creation of the
panel that’s being asked to offer recommendations to the full
General Assembly before it reconvenes for the budget-adjusting
session in mid-May.

The group will examine whether unemployment fraud penalties are
similar to those for other acts of fraud and how to make workforce
training and job placement a key mission of the recently revamped
state Division of Unemployment Security.

Lawmakers already are looking for a way to pay back $2.6 billion
the state owes the federal government for paying unemployment
benefits when state unemployment insurance funds ran out.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

More: continued here

WPD continues to search for missing blind man

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WPD NEWS RELEASE) — Wilmington Police investigators once again are issuing an appeal to the public for information about Melvin Jerome Bennett, age 60. Mr. Bennett, who is legally blind, has been missing for the past two weeks.

He was last seen at the K & D Mini Mart, 251 S. Kerr Avenue, at around 10:30 – 11:00 p.m. on the night of Wednesday, February 15, 2012. His family has not seen or heard from him since that time.

WPD investigators have searched several times in the wooded area near where Mr. Bennett was last seen. Today (Tuesday), they returned to the area and searched again, this time with the assistance of Brunswick Search and Rescue, using specially trained search and rescue dogs.

This afternoon (Tuesday) the SABLE (Southeast Airborne Law Enforcement) helicopter crew has been conducting an aerial search.

Anyone who knows anything about Mr. Bennett’s disappearance is asked to call 911 or the Wilmington Police Department’s main number at (910) 343-3600.

More: continued here

Driver in Brunswick killing sentenced

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Norman Elliott Simmons was sentenced to up to 81 months for his part in the 2008 killing of James Murdock.

More: continued here

UNCW chancellor responds to student criticism of tuition hike

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The University of North Carolina Board of Governors voted earlier this month to raise tuition next year by more than nine percent. UNCW students have voiced their displeasure, and now Chancellor Gary Miller is responding.

He says the tuition proposal was looked at by students before it was taken to the board. Although he understands the frustration of students, he says UNCW has the lowest tuition of its peer group.

He says the tuition hike was made out of necessity.

“All of us are unhappy about raising tuition,” Miller said. “I think they understood the need, and we were able to move that through, so we believe that we have taken steps to make sure that we were as transparent as possible in moving our tuition proposals through.”

With the increase, in-state students will pay about $62,00 a year. Out-of-state students will pay about $18,000 a year. The hike goes into effect this fall.

More: continued here



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