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Archive for June, 2014

Berger to take mental health evaluation

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A judge granted a motion to have New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger undergo a mental health evaluation as his probation violation case was continued today.

Berger was arrested earlier this month in Watauga County on a drug paraphernalia charge and several probation violations after Beech Mountain Police found him in a home there after a call about shots being fired in the area.

Today Berger was set to face those probation violations, until the judge granted a defense motion to have him undergo a forensic mental health evaluation.

Berger is due back in court July 22. He remains in custody in the New Hanover County Jail.

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Duke Energy seeks right plan for coal ash clean-up

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Since the spill in the Dan River, coal ash has been a hot topic. This has folks asking a few questions about the coal ash in our own backyard. Duke Energy Progress is trying to answer some questions.

“In light of Dan River, we’ve taken a fresh look at all our sites,” Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said.

Duke Energy commissioned a third-party review to look at potential risks. They are also developing a long-term strategy for all ash ponds in the state, including at the retired coal-fired Sutton Steam Plant near Wilmington.

“If you think about it, the most aggressive timelines call for those plants to be excavated in five years,” Brooks said.

That’s what new legislation is pushing for, but Duke Energy says it might be too fast. The company is worried about rushing the process and missing opportunities for efficient disposal. Duke Energy reps say this timeline ultimately comes down to how plants are classified. Until then, they are deciding on how to take care of the ash. Options include taking it to a lined landfill, reusing it or capping it with proper close methods.

“But we have to make sure we’re making the right choice for Sutton and not just one size fits all, and that takes time, that takes science and that takes study,” Brooks said.

Coal ash contains contaminants known to cause cancer. This is raising the most questions about the selenium levels in Sutton Lake. While the toxin levels in the lake are elevated compared to the Cape Fear River, they still meet standards based upon the usage for the pond, because of that testing they’re taking extra precaution for residents nearby.

“We don’t know if that ground water will migrate to the Flemington community, but in some of the monitoring wells we saw we did see some elevation,” Brooks said. “So Duke Energy proactively took the step to work with the utility, the public authority to build a water line.”

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Wilmington leaders to discuss drainage improvement plan

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

The City of Wilmington will host a public meeting Wednesday to discuss a drainage improvement project planned for the Clear Run area.

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WPD releases first comments on use of surveillance equipment

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Five days after the public learned Wilmington Police use secret surveillance equipment in the fight against crime, the department is finally speaking out.

“Location information is a vital component of law enforcement investigations at the federal, state and local levels,” a news release from WPD spokeswoman Linda Rawley. “As a general matter, the Wilmington Police Department does not discuss specific techniques used by law enforcement to obtain location information, as they are considered investigative sensitive, the public release of which could harm law enforcement efforts at all levels by compromising future use of the technique.”

Last week records revealed Wilmington is one of the few departments in the state to own devices called StingRay, Harpoon and others. Groups like the ACLU question the Constitutionality of the equipment which allows officers to track down someone’s cell phone.

“The Wilmington Police only collects and maintains information that has investigative value and relevance to a case, and such data is retained in accordance with controlling state law,” Rawley’s release continued. “The Wilmington Police does not keep repositories of cell tower data for any purpose other than in connection with a specific investigation. The collection of cell tower records is only performed after required Wilmington Police approvals are received in the specific investigation, and only after the appropriate court order is obtained from a court. If the records obtained are deemed relevant, the specific records are made part of the investigative case file.”

Defense attorney and state senator Thom Goolsby said he has never received information about the use of such equipment in criminal cases in Wilmington.

Recently New Hanover County Public Defender Jennifer Harjo wrote to several area defense attorneys asking for any information they had on the devices as she investigates their use.

When WWAY asked WPD for comment last week about the surveillance equipment, Rawley referred us to the FBI, which says it protects information about the sensitive devices and requires local agencies to do the same.

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Second suspect in home invasion murder case in custody

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Markee George arrested in connection with death of Aaron McGhee

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