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Archive for March, 2012

As governor, legislature fight for ferry fares, business owners worry

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — It hasn’t happened yet, but riding a ferry in North Carolina could soon cost more.

The legislature required the Department of Transportation to raise more revenue from ferry riders, but a recent executive order by the governor has temporarily stopped that plan. People in southport are still worried about the possibility of a hike.

“Part of the charm of Southport is having that ferry and being able to take that over to the aquarium, going over and seeing what’s going on over in carolina beach,” Southport business owner Emily Giles said.

But is it quite as charming if the price is more expensive?

New rates were supposed to take effect April 1. The increase would double the fare on the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry from $5 to $10 each way per car.

“Even with rising gas costs, I think double is just too aggressive, and I think the state should find more clever ways to make up for the budget differences,” ferry passenger Rachel McPherson said.

An executive order from Gov. Bev Perdue has temporarily stopped the hike from happening. The DOT says it is in a holding pattern, because it wants to follow the law and the governor’s order, leaving open the option of going with the proposed rate.

Passengers on the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry are not the only ones upset about the possible toll increase.

“I think it will have an impact on our business, especially in the summer,” Southport business owner Barbara Pascucci said. “We have many tourists who tell us that when they have company they want to bring their people here, but the people love to ride the ferry. They will not drive down.”

Downtown Southport business owners say that if that price changes at all, fewer people will come aboard the boat and their business.

“By raising that cost we fear that those visitors aren’t going to come over to southport as often, so I just keep my fingers crossed that the price doesn’t go up,” Giles said.

Ferry tolls were on the agenda at a state House Appropriations Subcommittee meeting today. Lawmakers were expected to discuss whether the governor has the legal authority to block the increases.

More: continued here

Bypass work severs Goodman Road

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Road closing to build part of Wilmington Bypass

More: continued here

ONLY ON 3: Wilmington voters tepid on City Council, warming to CFPUA

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We’re taking a closer look at an exclusive poll that reveals what Wilmington voters think about some major issues in our city, namely, the job City Council is doing, as well as what voters
think about the CFPUA.

The current Wilmington City Council has been in office for just three months. When asked whether voters approve or disapprove of the job it is doing 40 percent gave council the thumbs up. More than 50 percent though, are not happy.

“I guess 40 percent is a pretty good number that approve,” Councilwoman Laura Padgett said. “I’m not sure it’s a real number. I think polls can be directed by the way questions are answered.”

CLICK FOR FULL RESULTS AND CROSSTABS

Voters were also asked if City Council is responsible or irresponsible when determining how to use taxpayer dollars. Again, not glowing reviews. Nearly 50 percent of those polled said “irresponsible.”

“I feel like we are elected to make our best judgement in how we use the money,” Padgett said. “I feel like we need to be very careful. I look at it as other people’s money, which makes it more important to me than how I might spend my own money.”

After battling billing problems and rate increases, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is slowly starting to wash its hands of disgruntled customers. The poll asked whether residents were satisfied with the services they received from the CFPUA. Of those polled, almost 55 percent said they were either somewhat satisfied or very satisfied.

“I think this organization, we’re 3.5-years-old now, and I think as more and more people interact with us they have been able to see time and time again the commitment we have from our board all the way through our organization for providing excellent service,” CFPUA CEO Matt Jordan said.

The results also show that 70 percent of those polled think jobs and the economy are the two most pressing issues the city is facing right now.

More: continued here

ONLY ON 3: Wilmington woman part of lawsuit on military sex assaults, harrassment

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Gang rape, harassment and sexual assault. Those are among the allegations from eight women in a lawsuit filed this week against the Department of Defense.

The suit filed Tuesday claims military officials, including the current and former secretaries of Defense, ignored the rampant problem of sexual assaults.

One of the women lives here in Wilmington.

“We all just wanted to serve our country and be good Marines and service members,” former Marine Lt. Elle Helmer said. “Ultimately we were failed.”

Helmer is one of eight current and former female service members who filed a lawsuit alleging rape, sexual assault and harrassment while serving in the military.

Click here to read the entire lawsuit

“It’s very hard to come forward and admit what they would call weakness, but what I would call strength in the sense that people are coming forward and asking for help,” Helmer said.

She claims her assault occurred while stationed at the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington, DC, as a public affairs officer.

She says after being ordered to attend a Marine Corps-endorsed pub crawl and drink excessively, her boss, a major, ordered her back to his office and raped her.

“Ultimately I fell and hit my head on the corner of his desk and was knocked out,” she said. “During the time I was knocked out was when the rape occurred.”

Helmer says she was ultimately forced out of the Marine Corps, which she says is far too common with other victims.

“The Department of Defense is ultimately losing good personnel, and victims are becoming collateral damage,” Helmer said.

The lawsuit claims many of the men questioned were barely punished, if at all. It’s an issue Helmer says goes beyond the service women who report the assaults.

“My rapist was served collateral duties at the White House,” she said. “With that said, these people guard the president.”

Helmer says she hopes the lawsuit is a catalyst for change and the military realizes how big this problem really is.

“Take care of your people, and if you’re losing your people, it’s ultimately weakening a nation. It’s a homeland security issue,” she said.

A Defense Department spokeswoman told the Associated Press that she could not discuss pending litigation, but said the military has no tolerance for sexual assault.

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New Hanover County to review future of building

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Could take up to $10 million to renovate Chestnut St. tower

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