Weekend reads: A GOP court shake-up, signature-matching pilot begins, and new coal ash

Chief Justice Newby removes Judge Stroud as chief of Appeals Court

Court of Appeals Judge Donna Stroud
NC Court of Appeals Judge Donna Stroud was removed from leadership role by Chief Justice Paul Newby. (Courtesy photo)

By Kelan Lyons

State Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby removed Donna Stroud as chief of the North Carolina Court of Appeals Tuesday, replacing her with Chris Dillon.

Typically the chief judge of the Court of Appeals is the one who has been on that court the longest. Stroud was first elected to Court of Appeals in 2006, six years before Dillon won a seat there.

Newby, Stroud and Dillon are all Republicans, but Stroud has been criticized by Newby’s colleague, Supreme Court Justice Phil Berger, Jr., who supported Stroud’s primary challenger in 2022. [Read more…]

MVP Southgate natural gas pipeline will no longer cross Alamance County

A map of Rockingham and Alamance counties showing the original route of the MVP Southgate natural gas pipeline. It would have entered near Eden and traveled 46 miles southeast into Alamance County. However, Alamance County is no longer included in the route, as of Dec. 29. (Base map: MVP Southgate)
The green lines show the original route of the MVP Southgate natural gas pipeline. Alamance County is no longer in the project path.
However, the pipeline owner has not yet published a new map of the redesigned route. (Base map: MVP Southgate)

By Lisa Sorg

The controversial MVP Southgate project will be shortened by more than half and no longer pass through Alamance County, according to public filings by Equitrans Midstream, the majority owner and operator of the natural gas pipeline.

Based in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, Equitrans Midstream announced the project’s proposed redesign in its filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 29. The project has not been finalized; nor has the company published a new route map. [Read more...]

An interview with acclaimed civil rights attorney and historian Bryan Stevenson

Civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson (Photo: Ted Vaden)
Civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson (Photo: Ted Vaden)

By Ted Vaden

Bryan Stevenson learned early on about the rule of law. As a young African American boy growing up in a mostly white county in rural Delaware, he started out attending “colored” schools.

That changed after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, when civil rights attorneys came into Delaware seeking to force public schools to integrate.

“If you had a vote in this county — which was 80 percent white — about letting kids into public schools, we would have lost the vote,” Stevenson recalled in an interview. [Read more...]

NC Elections Board debates using race as a criterion in signature verification pilot

Photo of an absentee ballot being mailed.
Photo: Getty Images

By Lynn Bonner

Durham is the most populous county that will take part in the ballot signature-matching pilot program for the upcoming primary elections.

The State Board of Elections on Tuesday approved the 10 counties that will participate in the mailed ballot signature-matching pilot as required under a new law.

In addition to Durham, Halifax, Bertie, Wilkes, Montgomery, Rowan, Jones, Pamlico, Henderson, and Cherokee will use signature matching software for the primary. [Read more…]

Respiratory virus season in full swing in North Carolina after holiday gatherings

Woman on the couch sick at home with a virus.
Cases of flu and COVID-19 are on the rise after the holiday season. Photo: Adobe Stock

By Clayton Henkel

Consider it a gift that you’d like to return.

Days after Christmas and New Year’s Eve gatherings where people celebrated in close quarters, cases of flu and COVID-19 are on the rise.

Data released Wednesday by the NC Department of Health and Human Services found that more than 22% of the emergency room visits for the last week in December had symptoms of a respiratory virus. [Read more…]

NC Court of Appeals upholds life without parole sentence for man who committed crimes as a minor

A view of the outside of the NC Court of Appeals building
The NC Court of Appeals Building – Photo: nccourts.gov

By Kelan Lyons

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled this week that a young man can spend the rest of his life in prison for killing his parents when he was 17 years old, an opinion handed down by two Republicans over the dissent of a Democratic colleague claiming the decision “diminishes longstanding concerns surrounding the sentencing of juveniles.”

Tristan Noah Borlase was sentenced in 2022 to two consecutive sentences of life without the possibility of parole for killing his parents, Jeff and Tanya, at their home in Boone in 2019. At the time, Tristan was one month away from turning 18…[Read more]

State education leaders want to reset long-term federal performance goals

By Greg Childress 

State education officials want to lower federal school performance goals, which they are unlikely to meet and contend were set too high.

For the 2022-23 school year, North Carolina districts met only one of 51 progress targets —  the graduation rate for Asian students. None of the goals for reading and math in Grades 3-8, high school English II or high school mathematics were met. The Every Student Succeeds ACT (ESSA) require states to have rigorous academics in reading, math and science to prepare students for success in college and careers. [Read more.…]

Coal ash more hazardous than previously known, EPA says, could alter Chapel Hill cleanup plan

A dark patch of what appears to be dirt on a steep hillside is actually coal ash. There is dormant brush around the ash, as well as fallen leaves.
This exposed coal ash is on a steep slope that leads to the Bolin Creek greenway in Chapel Hill. Although fencing has been installed to capture any runoff and prevent people from accessing the ash, contaminants can escape through the air, presenting health risks. (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

By Lisa Sorg 

The black dirt on the steep slope of an overgrown knoll of trash overlooking the Bolin Creek greenway in Chapel Hill is, in fact, not dirt.

It’s coal ash, fully exposed to the elements. On this windy winter morning, it’s hard to know if ash particles are hitchhiking on the breeze, but to stand downwind elicits a sense of unease.

Coal ash could increase a person’s cancer risk significantly more than previously estimated, according to a recent EPA report, raising questions about the safety of places where ash has been used as structural fill. [Read more...]

Yes, times are challenging, but Joe Biden knows cynicism and pessimism won’t get the job done (commentary)

President Biden speaks at a podium
President Joe Biden in the White House Rose Garden on Oct. 11, 2023. (Official White House photo by Oliver Contreras)

By Rob Schofield

To say that 2024 has commenced under the shadow of a host of daunting societal challenges is an understatement.

Across the globe, the enormous strains and stresses placed on our finite planet by a rapidly growing population of 8 billion-plus humans – most of them hoping to lead some approximation of a comfortable modern life – are evident.

Meanwhile, in a related development, brutal wars over the control of land and resources rage in several regions. [Read more...]

No compromise in NC elections lawsuits

the entrance to a voting precinct
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By Lynn Bonner

The parties in lawsuits contesting the issue of address verification for people who register to vote during early voting periods could not come up with a compromise that would resolve their differences, they said in a court filing Thursday.

Federal District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder told lawyers for Republicans, the state Board of Elections, Democrats, voting-rights groups, and voters to try to work out a compromise concerning a contested section of a new state law that requires the ballots of same-day registered voters to be thrown out if mail meant to verify their addresses cannot be delivered, WRAL reported. At a court hearing last week, Schroeder gave them a week to get back to him. [Read more…]

This article was originally published by a ncnewsline.com . Read the Original article here. .