Easley pushing for help for farmers
N.C. Gov. Mike Easley wants help from the federal government for farmers in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and 57 other counties who have suffered crop losses due to the drought that began last year.
Easley asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer on Friday to declare the counties disaster areas. The declaration would allow farmers to receive low-interest emergency loans. Easley said the drought has eased in some parts of the state but that many farmers still need financial help to stay in business.
The disaster declaration also would make farmers eligible in any county next to a county that receives the designation. Associated Press
The Puerto Rican Cultural Society of Charlotte will host a festival, Pasadia Boricua, on Sunday to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. The free event, from 1 to 6 pm. at Park Road Park, will feature live music by DJ El Nene, face painting by local artist Lillian White and traditional piraguas (snow cones) by Orlando Bermudez. Members of the society will also demonstrate traditional Puerto Rican children's games and activities. Franco Ordoñez
The Council for Children's Rights, a nonprofit advocacy group, will hold its annual fundraiser, The Lunch for Children's Rights, at noon Nov. 3 at the Charlotte Convention Center. Special guests will include Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, author of “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Tragedy of Children's Rights from Ben Franklin to Lionel Tate.”
The lunch is free, but donations are welcomed. To sponsor or host a table, call 704-943-9460. Eric Frazier
The Echo Foundation is accepting applications for students who want to travel to Rwanda as part of the Charlotte-based organization's annual travel and leadership initiative for local high school students.
In July, Echo will return with students to Dr. Paul Farmer's Partners in Health clinic in Rwanda. The students will spend two weeks in the area, working with residents and learning about some of the problems in that country, which has been racked by genocide.
Students who are selected for the program will spend the spring semester preparing for the trip. Applications are due by Oct. 27.
Candidates will need to display leadership skills, individual initiative, a demonstrated record of public service, and an interest to help others. Applications are available online at www.echofoundation.org or by contacting Sarah Mabus, 704-347-3844. Scholarships are available. Steve Lyttle
Burke County Morganton
Animal control officers charged a Cleveland County man with three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty after finding 20 dogs living in unsanitary conditions next to his produce stand.
Members of a grass-mowing crew contacted authorities after seeing some of the dogs in thick layers of feces, said Lt. Steve Massey with the Burke County Sheriff's Office animal control division.
Officers searched the property next to Hudson's Produce on N.C. 18 south of Morganton and found the mixed-breed dogs, four of them puppies, in a camper and three buildings. In some cases, the animals were living in a foot of built-up feces, Massey said.
They charged Steve Hudson, 59, on Wednesday and took the dogs to the county shelter. They also found the carcass of one dog.
Hudson told officers he had taken in stray dogs that happened by his stand, Massey said, and that the situation had gotten out of hand.
The discovery of the animals came in the same week that Catawba County animal-control authorities confiscated 153 dogs from a home south of Newton due to unsanitary conditions. Those dogs were adopted or taken in by adoption organizations. Hannah Mitchell
Union County Monroe
Former Forest Hills High School teacher Francisco Javier Berrio, 31, was sentenced Thursday to 18 to 23 years in prison after he was found guilty of numerous sex charges involving a 14-year-old student.
DNA evidence obtained in the case and Berrio's own statement to law enforcement officials played key roles in the four-day trial, Union County District Attorney John Snyder said.
“The Union County Sheriff's Department did excellent work in gathering evidence, so we were able to present a very clear case,” Snyder said.
Superior Court Judge Calvin Murphy found Berrio guilty on multiple counts, including indecent liberties with a child, sex acts by a teacher with a student, crimes against nature and statutory rape.
Snyder said the student, now 17, and Berrio, who taught Spanish and French at the school until his arrest in April 2007, were involved for a year and a half. Snyder said Berrio and the student had sex in his classroom during study hall and after school hours.
The student reported the relationship to another teacher, which eventually led to law enforcement officials' investigation, Snyder said. Celeste Smith
Partners in Out-of-School Time is now accepting grant applications from summer camp operators seeking funding for outdoor, educational summer camp programs.
The group's Summer Camp Fund will provide grants of up to $8,000 to camps seeking to expand outdoor opportunities for low-income school-aged children living in the greater Mecklenburg area and surrounding counties.
“The Summer Camp Fund will open the doors for more children to hike in the woods, swim in a lake, explore the world of plants and animals, and learn ways to protect these natural habitats,” Partners in Out-of-School Time president Claire Tate said in a statement.
Applications will be accepted until Nov. 14. Details: www.postcarolinas.org.