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Archive for October, 2012

Ballpark debate sparks fireworks from both sides

Friday, October 26th, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — WWAY and WHQR hosted the only baseball stadium debate Thursday night. Appropriately, with a big game comes fireworks, and the exchange was full of them.

“That’s opportunity, and it’s knocking at our door,” Wilmington City Councilman Kevin O’Grady said while knocking on the table.

City leaders have answered that door, and voters will decide whether it stays open or closes. The big leaguers stepped up to the plate Thursday night. On the yes side, Councilman O’Grady and Mayor Bill Saffo. On the opposing was the “Vote No Tax Stadium” group’s Scott Harry and Jim Rafferty.

The debate was marked by starkly different stances. The two sides clashed on whether the ballpark would spark direct spending and economic development.

“Go look it up. Go look up stadium economists, and you’re gonna see page after page after page. They all say the same thing: it doesn’t work,” Harry said.

O’Grady countered, saying, “$168 million over 20 years. That’s $8 million a year.”

Mayor Saffo compared the potential success in Wilmington to that of other ballparks in North Carolina cities such as Durham and Fayetteville. He also voiced his disdain for how city leaders have been targeted in the community.

“Never before have I seen a group of elected officials vilified in the community because we are just bringing this up for discussion to ask you to make a decision in the democratic process,” Saffo said.

O’Grady says the deal will put the taxpayer debt at $44 million over a 20-year period. The “Vote No” group argued that number is higher, at $75 million, which sparked heated banter.

“You have overstated the debt,” O’Grady said.

Harry fired back.

“Great,” he said. “This is the first time you’ve said the tax rate would drop.”

The current agreement between the city and Mandalay and the Braves calls for a two and half cent increase for homeowners, per 100 dollars of property value. O’Grady says that rate will gradually decrease over the life of the loan.

When city leaders were asked if baseball would die if the referendum fails on Election Day, Mayor Saffo said, “I believe so. We’re the only ones here at the table.”

Councilman O’Grady echoed the mayor’s stance.

“There will be no votes to do any other thing, because this is it,” O’Grady said.

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NAACP says Tea Party ‘poll watchers’ are out to suppress minority vote

Friday, October 26th, 2012

BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — With early voting underway and thousands hitting the polls, one group is openly trying to challenge minorities’ right to vote in North Carolina. That is according to the state NAACP, which claims that the Tea Party is behind it all.

Checking photo ID when you go to vote is not legal in North Carolina, but the NC NAACP says some are working around the law to personally suppress the black vote. The group claims black and minority voters need to beware at the polls, claiming certain members of the right wing Tea Party movement are determined to suppress the minority vote through signing up to be poll watchers and asking for photo ID.

“There’s also other voting suppression tactics by putting false things on computers, like you can vote online or having phone calls that give information,” says Rev. William Barber, NC NAACP President.

Barber says the evidence is in a recent report released by the organization entitled “Abridging the Vote, ” published by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

“This is not something we’re just making up,” Barber says. “The report was done by one of the best researchers in the world. You can look it up online. There’s a full report.”

Thursday evening, area NAACP chapters hosted a rally entitled “If We Ever Need To Vote We
Sure Need To Vote Now.” Barber was the guest speaker, preaching to the audience about the Tea Party intimidation tactics and how to avoid them.

However, Tony McGhee, a black Tea Party member says there is no truth to the claims.

“I think it’s a false accusation,” he says. “And I can’t deny anyone from having the perspective or perception of things but I have a different perspective and perception. I think it’s a false accusation.”

McGhee says voter fraud is a serious problem in North Carolina and poll watchers are only trying to prevent it, but Barber seems to think McGhee is out of his league.

“He’s talking as a guy of the Tea Party that just started,” the reverend says. “We’re talking from an organization that has been around 103 years and an organization that anything that the NAACP has ever done has been good for America and good for North Carolina.”

McGhee and Barber did agree on one thing, and that is to keep your cool and a watchful eye out while at the polls. They also advise to speak with a polling judge if you think something is not right.

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Red Cross wants you to get ready for Hurricane Sandy

Friday, October 26th, 2012

The Red Cross is already getting ready for Hurricane Sandy, and they say you should be too.

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Historic haunts in the Port City

Friday, October 26th, 2012

For some Wilmington houses, a supernatural undertone meshes with its classic architecture.

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12-year-old NC boy dies getting on school bus

Friday, October 26th, 2012

COATS, NC (AP) — A 12-year-old Harnett County boy has died after he was struck and killed while trying to get on a school bus.

The boy was struck shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday on N.C. 27 near Coats. The victim was Adam Kempf, a seventh grader at Coats-Erwin Middle School.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol says the boy was struck by a van as he crossed the road to board the bus. Forty-three-year-old Fernando Ortiz-Soto of Sanford is charged with felony death by motor vehicle and driving without a license.

Neither Ortiz-Soto nor the other three people in the van were hurt.

There were about two dozen students on the bus. None of them was hurt.

It was not clear if Ortiz-Soto has an attorney.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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