Across the Region |

Political donor gets ‘last chance' drug

An experimental cancer-fighting drug has been obtained by ailing Democratic fundraiser Fred Baron, his son said Thursday, despite the drug maker denying a public plea to approve the treatment.

Andrew Baron said his 61-year-old father, a prominent political donor who was linked to the John Edwards mistress scandal, has received the drug Tysabri after a legal basis for its use was found. He provided few other details in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Andrew Baron has described Tysabri as a “last chance effort for life,” saying doctors last week had given his father only days to live. Fred Baron has late-stage multiple mylenoma, his son said.

Boston-based Biogen Idec Inc. had refused Fred Baron access to the drug despite prominent figures such as former President Bill Clinton and cyclist Lance Armstrong pushing the drug maker on Baron's behalf.

Associated Press

Meck briefs


More than 700 people gathered Thursday evening at a northern Charlotte church to hear political candidates talk about their commitment to nursing home care, AIDS research, and after-school and youth summer job opportunities.

The event, organized by the nonprofit group Helping Empower Local People, or HELP, was attended by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bev Perdue; U.S. Rep Mel Watt, a Charlotte Democrat, and his Republican opponent Ty Cobb Jr. of Salisbury; and two congressional candidates, Larry Kissell of Biscoe, who is running in the 8th District, and Harry Taylor of Charlotte, who is running in the 9th District.

More than 30 churches and community organizations participated in the assembly at Mayfield Memorial Baptist Church.

Lisa Zagaroli

Families are invited to a day of activities at the U.S. National Whitewater Center on Saturday. It's part of the launch of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' Parent University, a series of seminars to help parents prepare their children for success.

The event is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center, 802 Hawfield Road (www.usnwc.org).

Agencies working with CMS will have booths offering health screenings, wellness information, and activities for kids and parents. Whitewater rafting and food will be discounted. Parent University, which debuted this fall, offers sessions on parenting, helping children with school, and other topics. Details: www.cms.k12.nc.us/departments/ parentuniversity or 980-343-0318.

Ann Doss Helms

ImaginOn holds its annual party for teens at 7 p.m. Saturday in celebration of Teen Read Week. The party, at 300 E. Seventh St., includes food, gaming and music. Details: libraryloft.org. Click on “Teen Read Week.”

Pam Kelley

Regional briefs

Stanly County

A Georgia grandmother charged with hiring someone to kill one of her five dead husbands was released from a Stanly County jail Thursday.

Betty Neumar, 76, posted $300,000 bond late Thursday morning at the jail, where she's been held since her May arrest, Sheriff Rick Burris said.

Neumar is charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder in the 1986 death of her fourth husband, Harold Gentry.

“I can't believe they let her out. It's just wrong, flat out wrong,” said Gentry's brother, Al, who pressed law enforcement for more than two decades to get the case reopened.

Associated Press

Police digest

Gaston County

Gaston County Police on Thursday charged Carl Ray Davenport with first degree murder in the beating death of Gerald Daniel Howard of Cherryville.

A neighbor found Howard unconscious in his front yard Sunday with severe swelling and bruising to the right side of his face. He was flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where he died Monday.

After investigating the incident, detectives discovered that Howard had been assaulted Saturday about 9 p.m. Witnesses said Davenport and a girlfriend had been at Howard's house at that time, then left. Davenport is being held in the Gaston County Jail without bond.

David Perlmutt

Stanly County

An Ansonville man has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 9-year-old Jamoire Hall in Norwood on Oct. 5, Stanly County authorities announced Thursday.

Olandus Henry Blakeney, 21, of Ansonville, was charged with the shooting.

Officials said Jamoire was crouched behind a box in a tent during a church event when people in the crowd, including Blakeney, started shooting, apparently in an argument. Officials said Hall was hit by a bullet.

Kevin Cary