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Archive for May, 2012

ONLY ON 3: Developers quiet a day after mayor criticizes ballpark plan

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — One day after Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said the proposal for a ballpark is not a good one for the city, many of the main players who pitched the plan are MIA.

We contacted the private developers, Mandalay Baseball and the Atlanta Braves and got very little response.

“Pardon the pun here; we’re putting all of our skin into the game and they have very little skin in the game,” Saffo told Chad Adams during an appearance on The Big Talker FM Tuesday morning.

We wondered what the group that put that proposal together thought about the mayor’s comments, but we heard more answering machines than anything else.
Rich Neumann from Mandalay Baseball simply said, “No comment,” and hung up on us when we asked why.

Co-developer Raiford Trask III refused to go on camera. He did say, “First and foremost, as a taxpayer, I’m glad to see the city is approaching this in that manner. The mayor has always been very fiscally responsible, and there’s no reason to assume he would not be on this project.

“From the first day we talked about this we made it clear that the development team was only interested in this deal if it’s a good deal for the city, the Braves, Mandalay, as well as us.”

Connie Majure-Rhett with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce said she was in meetings all day and directed us to Jim Hundley of the Wilmington Baseball Coalition.

“I think what the comments suggest is that the mayor and the city council are taking a reasonable approach in making sure that it’s a good deal for the city,” Hundley said.

We did not get calls back from co-developer Clay Boardman from Flywheel, lead architect Chris Boney, or Mike Plant and Chip Moore of the Atlanta Braves.

The private developers, Mandalay Baseball and the Braves are expected to bring an updated proposal to city council in early June.

Meanwhile, a group working on a petition to block taxpayer funding of the ballpark says it is close to the number of signatures it needs to force City Council to adopt their plan or put it up for a public vote. The group will host a public softball game and other activities at Wilmington’s Empie Park Saturday from noon till 3 p.m.

More: continued here

STORMTRACK 3: Severe Thunderstorm Watch through 9 p.m.; large hail and gusty rain possible

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A stalled frontal boundary and strong upper-level system will provide focus for strong thunderstorms in southeastern NC this afternoon/evening. As a result, the National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch that remains in effect until 9 p.m. Large hail and gusty winds will be possible, along with brief heavy rain.

Track all the warnings on Facebook and Twitter. See the latest radar images at wwaytv3.com/weather

-Chief Meteorologist Jerry Jackson

More: continued here

Captured: human trafficking in the Port City

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Human trafficking is an underground crime that is intensifying across the country. This modern-day slavery is hitting closer to home than you may expect.

“Worldwide it’s a massive business,” Resident Agent in Charge with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Robert Becker, said.

Women and even young girls are trapped in lives of misery, forced to have sex with perhaps dozens of men a day. This crime, known as human trafficking, is happening right here in the Port City.

“In our district, what we find more is a smaller local brothel-like setting, where the perpetrators are vetted by the persons running the brothel,” Becker said.

Federal investigators are working on several open cases of human trafficking.
“Victims in our area tend to be female, in their teens, found in rural areas,” Becker said.

Many of the victims are immigrants. They’re promised a better life in the United States. But others are American girls.

Regional Director of NC Stop Human Trafficking, Lindsey Roberson, says runaways are a prime target for traffickers.

“What i’m seeing the most of here are girls who are in their teen years, 15 or 16 years old, who are meeting a man older than them, generally in their early 20s, who are romancing them,” Roberson said.

Neet Childs was 16 when a 36-year-old man befriended her. He eventually began pimping her out for sex in cities along the east coast.

Childs said, “I felt betrayed, you know? I didn’t think that that could happen to me.”

The buyers were not exactly who you may expect. “Doctors, businessmen, police officers, the people that we trust with our lives,” Childs said.

On the supply side, it’s all about the money. According to the United Nations, human trafficking is a $32 bil business worldwide. North Carolina ranks 7th in the country for the worst states for the crime. And in Wilmington, investigators say Interstate 40 and the State Port are hot spots for trafficking, where girls can be moved in and out of the city quickly.

Federal investigators say the major difference between human trafficking and drug trafficking is that it’s not a consumable product, meaning a drug is sold one time. A girl can be sold over and over again.

“Bottom line, it’s all about money, and that’s why it’s the fastest growing trade. Now it surpassed, we think, gun trafficking, and it’s right behind drug trafficking,” Roberson said.

Organizers of the crime are using the Internet to pinpoint their next victim and to solicit customers. New York-based backpage.com has come under fire for advertising trafficking victims under its adult services section.

The crime has many layers, making it even more difficult to identify and prosecute. New Hanover County District Attorney, Ben David, says society and local law enforcement have to change their mindset

“We need to change the term from she’s a prostitute to she’s being prostituted, from a noun to a verb,” David said.

If you have information about a potential trafficking case, you can call the Polaris Project hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

A new non-profit has plans to open the Centre of Redemption, a restorative home for young female survivors of sex trafficking. This Thursday, if you eat at the Moe’s restaurant on Military Cutoff Rd. a portion of the proceeds will go the Centre of Redemption.

Additional resources:
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To learn more about a local movement to combat this crime in the Port City through a bi-weekly newsletter, you can email Cacky at ccatlett@wwaytv3.com.

More: continued here

ONLY ON 3: Homeless high school student raising awareness about problem many face

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With graduation approaching, high school seniors are working on their final projects. A Wilmington girl’s project hits close to home… or her lack thereof.

“It’s not what you wear or what you eat or where you live, it’s about how you act about the situation that you’re in,” Angela Giacoman said.

Giacoman’s situation is very different than many of her classmates at Mosely Performance Learning Center. She’s been homeless on and off for the last five years, because of a host of family problems. Her current address is the Salvation Army.

Giacoman decided to focus her senior project on improving the services already in place for homeless students. The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that provides funding for the homeless. Giacoman says while it does help, she thinks more can be done for teens like her.

“They don’t have ways to stay after school or resources to pay for projects or things like that,” Giacoman said. “I really want it to change, so that it says that they get better equal education opportunities.”

New Hanover County Schools social worker Amy Hand said many resources are available, but communication is lacking.

“I think where we could improve is on the identification of these families and making sure that the people that need these services are getting them,” Hand said.

Hand said the McKinney-Vento Act serves more than 650 students in the county. She said many more are likely ashamed to come forward, but Giacoman said the key is to ignore negative people. Her advice is never give up.

“Don’t drop out of school. Don’t. Don’t drop out of school,” Giacoman said. “I am 19 years old, and I’m graduating in 13 days. Had I dropped out of school, I would be homeless, and I wouldn’t have a job. Then I really wouldn’t know what to do.”

Giacoman says she plans to enroll in Cape Fear Community College’s Marine Technology program after graduation. She is excited about getting a job and getting into a more stable lifestyle.

More: continued here

STORMTRACK 3: Severe storms and hail reported today

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A stalled frontal boundary and strong upper-level system has provided focus for strong thunderstorms in southeastern NC this afternoon/evening.  As a result, the National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch that remains in effect until 9 p.m. Large hail and gusty winds will be possible, along with brief heavy rain. Western Columbus, Bladen, and Robeson counties reported large hail and gusty storms earlier today.

Track all the warnings on Facebook and Twitter. See the latest radar images at wwaytv3.com/weather

-Chief Meteorologist Jerry Jackson

More: continued here

 

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