Local

Hotels to drop rates for CIAA

Attending next year's CIAA tournament will be a little less expensive for some guests.

Twenty-four local hotels have agreed to reduce their room rates by 15 percent, and are dropping any minimum-stay requirements for the tournament, which returns to Charlotte Feb. 24 to 28, 2009. The deal was announced this week by officials of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

A list of the hotels offering the discounts is available on the Web at www.ciaatournament.org. Click on the “Tickets” link at the top of the page.

“The CIAA realizes these are tough economic times,” CIAA Commissioner Leon Kerry said in a statement. “Any relief that we can provide to CIAA fan's and alumni's purse strings during Tournament Week will help them focus on the fun and festivities of the event.”

Charlotte has hosted the CIAA tournament since 2006. The association recently signed a deal to keep the weeklong event in the Queen City through 2011. April Bethea

Meck briefs

Charlotte

Johnson C. Smith University will host local residents, businesses and leaders today to introduce the school's 13th president, Ronald Carter.

“A Gateway to Civic Engagement and Community Development Meet and Greet” will begin at 5:30 p.m. in an air-conditioned tent in the center of campus.

Carter will introduce Angela Jeter, director of the Center for Civic Engagement, and Sen. Malcolm Graham, special assistant to the president for community relations. Staff Reports

Regional briefs

Carolinas Coast

Isle Of Palms, S.C.

A scientist says a dead pygmy sperm whale that washed up on an S.C. beach last month suffered from parasites and lung congestion and was malnourished.

The Charleston Post and Courier reports the 11 1 / 2-foot whale was found on the Isle of Palms on Aug. 31. It's one of nine whales found dead along the Southeast coast in recent weeks.

Another whale, also malnourished and suffering from parasites, washed up on Folly Beach on Aug. 22.

Wayne McFee of the National Ocean Service in Charleston says scientists are trying to find out what is happening to the whales. Associated Press

Iredell County

Mooresville

A 56-year-old Charlotte man died Monday afternoon when he fell from scaffolding at a construction site near Mooresville, authorities said.

Ruben Gomez, 56, was killed instantly in the fall, said Detective Lt. Andy Poteat of the Iredell County Sheriff's Office.

Poteat said Gomez was working on a scaffolding about 20 feet off the ground when he lost his balance and fell.

Gomez was working for SSC Construction Co. of Concord at a construction site on Pinnacle Lane off N.C. 150 near Mooresville.

The sheriff's office and N.C. Department of Labor are investigating, which is standard in any workplace accident involving a death.

Poteat said there were other workers at the site at the time of the accident, but investigators are not sure if anyone was on the scaffolding with Gomez.

Neil O'Briant, public information official for the N.C. Department of Labor, said the death occurred at a residential construction site. A two-story home is being built there, he said. (Statesville) Record & Landmark

N.C. Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials say they're keeping the number of feral hogs in check, but they'll likely never eliminate them entirely.

The population control program began three decades ago as the prolific species became a larger threat to other animals and plants in the 500,000-acre park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

Park spokeswoman Nancy Gray said 223 of the wild pigs have been destroyed so far this year.

Imported European hogs escaped from a private hunting preserve in 1920 and have interbred with stray domestic swine. There are as many as 1,000 wild hogs in the Smokies. Associated Press

Black Balsam

Rescuers used chain saws to cut a trail into a ravine to get to a man with dementia who had been missing for two days in the N.C. mountains.

Searchers found Alan Dietrick, 60, at the bottom of a 60-degree mountainside Monday evening in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. He had been missing since Saturday, when his wife, Rosemary, last saw him picking berries by the road. Authorities said Dietrick uses anti-seizure medication and has mild dementia.

The U.S. Forest Service cut trees down the ravine so rescuers could slide Dietrick up the slope, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported Wednesday. WHNS-TV reported that Dietrick's family said he, his wife and a family friend were camping in the national forest when they decided to go and pick berries. They said one minute Dietrick was in sight and the next he was nowhere to be found.

Dietrick was wearing only shorts, a ball cap and a T-shirt and had no water.

Dietrick was in fair condition at Mission Hospitals, where he was being treated for hypothermia. Associated Press

Offshore Drilling

Raleigh

Gov. Mike Easley wants any final bill in Congress expanding offshore oil exploration to give states like North Carolina control over who can drill.

Easley wrote to the state's congressional delegation Wednesday asking it to support legislation that would give leasing rights to individual states, not oil companies.

The Democratic governor says states are best suited to decide whether to allow for drilling to protect their citizens and economic security.

The U.S. House approved a bill Tuesday that would open waters 50 miles off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to oil and natural gas development — if adjacent states agree to go along. The states wouldn't get royalties from energy production.

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where changes are likely. Associated Press

Police Digest

York County, S.C.

Rock Hill

A judge denied a request from former York County Coroner Doug McKown to wait to deal with an alcohol violation in Lincolnton, N.C., until he finishes probation in South Carolina.

McKown was in court Tuesday, asking the judge to delay a hearing on the N.C. charges until his probation on a drug charge ends in June. If McKown pleads guilty, he could be arrested for violating probation in South Carolina and face up to a year in prison.

Judge Dean Black refused the request, giving McKown until Oct. 22 to find a lawyer to deal with the drinking while driving and open container of alcohol charges.

McKown resigned after he was pulled over in July. He says he was in North Carolina picking up a friend who had too much to drink. Associated Press

A Rock Hill woman told the man who came to repossess her car that he wouldn't get it.

And to prove her point, Rock Hill police say, she ran over the repo man's arm Monday night.

Police have charged Demetria Evette Dockery, 25, of Rock Hill, with assault of a high and aggravated nature. The incident happened late Monday night, according to the York County Sheriff's Office, and Dockery was arrested Tuesday evening.

According to The (Rock Hill) Herald, a 20-year-old man from Boiling Springs, S.C., tried to repossess Dockery's car at her house Monday evening. A sheriff's office report said Dockery told the man “that he was not taking her car and she would run over him.”

The man told police that Dockery got in the car while he was underneath it, and then she ran over his arm. Police noted that the man had tire marks on his left arm.

The victim could not be reached for comment. The (Rock Hill) Herald

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