Local

N.C. lottery sends $100M to education fund

North Carolina's lottery has made its largest transfer of money to state education programs in the game's 2 1/2-year history.

The North Carolina Education Lottery said it sent $99.8 million to a dedicated state fund Wednesday morning. The money is used for class-size reduction and pre-kindergarten initiatives, public school construction and college scholarships.

The lottery began selling tickets in March 2006 and has generated to date $825 million for these programs.

Lottery executive director Tom Shaheen said Wednesday the lottery has seen a decline in sales over the last three weeks due to the economic downturn. But he said it's still on pace to give $385 million in profits to the state for the fiscal year ending next June 30.

Associated Press

Meck briefs

Charlotte

Charlotte is made up of streets, neighborhoods and communities. Turns out, at least in the eyes of city planners, the Queen City is also made up of centers, corridors and wedges.

Tonight, city officials plan the second of three special meetings on the city and how it is growing.

While “centers, corridors and wedges” may sound like a child's boardgame, it is actually a plan crafted by officials to manage growth.

City planners are tweaking the plan, which has been in place in one form or another since 1994. The changes account for the city's new desire for more mass transit and the growth that tends to accompany it.

The public is invited to attend and give input. Officials could have the additions ready for City Council approval by January.

The meeting tonight is 6-7:30 p.m. at Northside Baptist Church, 333 Jeremiah Blvd. The last meeting is scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. next Thursday at First Baptist Church, 301 Davidson St.

Clay Barbour

Regional briefs

Caldwell County

Hudson

A Caldwell County man has been charged with shooting his 18-year-old stepson in the head with a small caliber handgun, Hudson police reported.

Authorities said the teenager was shot during a domestic disturbance on Throneburg Avenue in Hudson on Tuesday afternoon. The victim, Dustin Chester, was taken to Frye Regional Medical Center and later taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was listed in good condition on Wednesday, police said.

After consulting with the District Attorney's Office, Charles Chester, 63, of the Sawmills community, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, according to Hudson police. Bond was set at $25,000 unsecured and a first court appearance scheduled for Thursday.

Joe DePriest

Cumberland County

Fort Bragg

Military prosecutors argued Wednesday that the first soldier accusing of killing a direct superior in Iraq – known as “fragging” during the Vietnam war – told other soldiers he wanted to kill and burn his National Guard officer.

Prosecutor Capt. Evan Seamone told jurors that Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez was frustrated with Capt. Phillip Esposito's strict oversight of the supply room where Martinez worked. Martinez, a New York National Guard soldier, told another soldier he planned to “frag that (expletive)” before a suspicious blast tore through Esposito's living quarters, the prosecutor said during opening arguments of Martinez's death penalty trial.

Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis Allen, also a National Guard officer, were killed when a mine detonated outside their room in 2005.

Associated Press

Chester County, S.C.

Property and casualty insurers are hoping a new facility coming to South Carolina will do for home building what a similar testing facility in Virginia has done for car safety.

The Institute for Business and Home Safety announced Wednesday its plans to build a $27 million research facility in Chester County that will allow scientists to see exactly what winds from a Category 3 hurricane do to an 1,800-square-foot, two-story home.

Researchers also will look at the effect of hail and wind-blown fire on home construction.

“This is going to be the controlled experiment that we've been looking for for quite some time,” said Scott Schiff, director of Clemson University's Wind and Structural Engineering Research Facility, which tests construction materials in high winds. “They will be able to do full-scale destructive testing.”

Associated Pr

ess

South Carolina

Columbia

The pilots of a doomed Learjet that crashed while hurtling down a runway, killing four people in South Carolina, should have lifted off the runway rather than try to abort the takeoff, aviation experts said Wednesday.

The plane's speed reached a point of no return and couldn't safely stop after the crew reported hearing a suspected tire blowout, the experts said.

“Technically, they probably should have continued the takeoff because they were at a point at which they were not going to be able to stop on the remaining runway,” Eric Doten told The Associated Press after federal investigators on Wednesday issued a preliminary report on the crash that happened just before midnight Sept. 19.

Former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity disc jockey DJ AM, whose real name is Adam Goldstein, were severely burned in the crash, but have been released from the hospital and are expected to fully recover. Two of the musicians' close friends and the plane's pilot and co-pilot were killed when it shot off the end of the runway.

In the report issued Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board officials said the plane was traveling 156 mph just before the pilots tried to abort the takeoff. At that speed, the pilots had issued the “V1 speed callout,” which means the plane has reached the point where it has to takeoff, the experts said.

Associated Press

The state's teachers face layoffs if senators try to tinker with the $488 million in budget cuts mostly targeting health care and higher education, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman warned Wednesday.

Leatherman's committee sent the bill to the Senate floor Wednesday and it will be debated today. It carves deeply into health care and college spending, as well as more obscure programs helping some of the state's most vulnerable residents. For instance, state colleges alone take $123 million in cuts and a program advocating for people with disabilities loses all its state money.

The state's tax collections stalled as the $7 billion budget went into effect in July. Bill Gillespie, the state's chief economist, warned the committee a surge in oil prices after the election could be a drag on the economy. “My advice to you is to batten down the hatches,” Gillespie said.

Associated Press

Conway

An armed man who blocked a hospital emergency room entrance in a standoff with police was taken into custody Wednesday, but authorities provided few clues on a motive for the tense overnight event.

No injuries were reported in the standoff at Conway Medical Center that started around 7 p.m. Tuesday when the man drove into an ambulance bay and refused to move. The man was armed with a long gun and asked police to let him speak to his probation officer.

As negotiations continued Wednesday, officers seized on a “window of opportunity” and the man did not resist arrest, Myrtle Beach Police Chief Reggie Gosnell said.

Associated Press

Wake County

Raleigh

Attorney General Roy Cooper says North Carolina will receive $1.2 million from a $60 million settlement with Pfizer Inc. over the marketing of the drug maker's pain relievers Celebrex and Bextra.

The settlement between the New York-based Pfizer and 33 states, along with the District of Columbia, follows a five-year investigation.

The states alleged Pfizer misrepresented facts about potential side effects and illegally promoted Bextra for uses rejected by the Food and Drug Administration.

Cooper said “patients and their doctors need trustworthy information about prescription drugs, not marketing that clouds the truth.”

Associated Press

Police digest

Mecklenburg County

Charlotte

A Charlotte teenager was fatally stabbed Wednesday afternoon, and the suspect barricaded herself for about 11/2 hours in an apartment at the Shadowood Apartment complex in east Charlotte.

The incident took place just after 5 p.m. in a parking lot area of one of the apartment buildings, police said. After the assault, the suspect ran into an apartment and refused to come out until a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police SWAT team and negotiators arrived at the site. She left the apartment about 6:20 p.m.

Police say the stabbing wasn't random; the suspect and male victim knew each other. Police had evacuated nearby apartments.

The victim was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center, where he died just after 6 p.m. Police didn't release names.

David Perlmutt
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