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Road blocked to help mother bear retrieve cub's body

Police stopped traffic on a Western North Carolina highway to help a mother bear retrieve her cub's body after it had been killed by a vehicle.

Officers in the Buncombe County town of Woodfin stopped traffic on westbound Interstate 26 for about 20 minutes Tuesday, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported Thursday. The mother bear had tried twice to get to her 80-pound cub on the busy highway.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission biologist Mike Carraway said as many as 15 bears have been hit by vehicles this year in the Western North Carolina county. Bears have been feasting on plentiful acorns and berries as well as raiding backyard bird feeders.

“It was killed straight out,” said Woodfin police Sgt. Dawn Roberts. The mother bear “grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and pulled it off the roadway,” Roberts said. “She pulled it off into the woods. She was tending to it.”

Associated Press

Meck briefs

The election committee advocating for the city and county bonds on Tuesday's ballot has raised $170,000, far less than the group brought in last year, according to a campaign report.

In 2007, the effort to pass bonds had vocal opposition and the bond committee raised $270,000. This year, the economy has soured and fewer people are speaking out against the $477.2 million in bonds on the ballot.

The bond money would help local government pay for parks, roads, neighborhood improvements and affordable housing.

Unlike individual political races, there is no limit on contributions to referendum committees. Contributors to the campaign include some of the city's largest businesses, as well as real estate and building interests, according to the campaign finance report filed at the Board of Elections this week.

Duke Energy contributed $50,000, more than any other organization. Bank of America and Wachovia each contributed $25,000. The Charlotte Regional Realtor Association, the N.C. Association of Realtors and Belk each gave $10,000.

Julia Oliver

Charlotte

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Discovery Education announced a partnership Thursday that will provide CMS teachers with advanced training and curriculum materials for teaching science.

The announcement was made during one of several appearances Thursday in Charlotte by biologist and TV personality Jeff Corwin, who visited two CMS schools and conducted a program at Discovery Place. Discovery Education is a division of Discovery Communications, whose networks include the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the Science Channel. Corwin's program appears on Animal Planet.

Steve Lyttle

Regional briefs

Burke County

A 64-year-old Hickory man who police say was involved “with a number of” youth organizations was arrested Wednesday night in Burke County and charged with sex-related offenses.

Gary Adam Molesa was charged with indecent liberties with a minor and second-degree statutory sex offense. The charges, according to court records, involve youths under the age of 16.

Officials with the sheriff's office did not say which organizations Molesa was involved with, but they said they are looking for additional information from the public. Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Burke County Sheriff's Office at 828-438-5500.

Steve Lyttle

South Carolina Columbia

South Carolina has begun taking orders for Christian-themed license plates.

The Department of Motor Vehicles said Thursday the plate's design has a stained-glass window with a cross on the left side and the words “I Believe” across the top.

The agency will begin making the plates after it gets at least 400 prepaid applications or if a sponsoring organization makes a deposit of $4,000 by May 1.

People can pay $5 in an online transaction to reserve the plate. “I Believe” plate holders also would have to pay the regular annual vehicle registration fee of $24.

A group that advocates separation of church and state filed a federal lawsuit in June to block the plates.

Associated Press

Police digest

Mecklenburg County Charlotte

A 41-year-old Charlotte man was killed Thursday morning in a motorcycle crash in northwest Mecklenburg County.

Police say Calvin Collins Jr. died when his 2000 Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle went off Swearngan Road and down an embankment. The crash scene is near June Furr Road, not far from Charlotte's Oakdale community.

Collins was not wearing a helmet, police say, and died at the scene.

Steve Lyttle

Police arrested two men Thursday in the beating death of a Charlotte man earlier this year.

Officers arrested Charlie Coleman, 22, and Marquis Baker, 20, for allegedly taking part in the death of Henry Wellington Smith.

Smith, 57, died after four men pulled him from his car Oct. 14 and beat him unconscious. Smith died later at Presbyterian Hospital.

Coleman was arrested and taken into custody without incident at 1451 Torrence Grove Church Road. Baker was arrested a short time later at 7945 N. Tryon St. Police arrested Brannon Beckham, 16, on Wednesday on charges of taking part in the assault.

Clay Barbour

Belmont police chased a bank robbery suspect briefly Thursday into southwest Charlotte.

Community One Bank, in the 6400 block of Wilkinson Boulevard in Belmont, was robbed at about 2:30 p.m. Police chased a suspect to 2100 Westinghouse Blvd.

WBTV reported the suspect was wearing a disguise and driving a Chevy Trailblazer. The station also reported the FBI was trying to determine whether the man was involved in an earlier bank robbery, this one at First Bank in Cabarrus County Thursday.

Clay Barbour

York County Fort Mill

The owner of two Fort Mill lottery stores faces multiple charges after authorities said he sold illegal lottery tickets and pocketed the money.

Authorities Wednesday night issued arrest warrants against 31-year-old Jayson Carl Parker, 31, of Fort Mill in connection with illegal scratch-off tickets sold at Lotto World and Lottery Super Store, both stores in the Carowinds area.

Toya Graham, (Rock Hill) Herald

Stanly County Oakboro

A West Stanly High School teacher and coach has been charged with sex crimes against a 15-year-old student. The allegations against Marko Little surfaced last week and the school district suspended him pending an investigation.

Little, a physical education and social studies teacher and assistant football coach at West Stanly High School, turned himself in to authorities Thursday. He is charged with four counts of indecent liberties with a child and four counts of taking indecent liberties with a student.

Little is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 24. He has bonded out of jail.

WCNC

Elsewhere

Texas

Democratic fundraiser Fred Baron, who was linked to the John Edwards mistress scandal, has died.

Susan Jones Knape, a spokeswoman for Baron & Budd, the Dallas law firm Baron founded, said Baron, who has been fighting cancer, died Thursday afternoon.

Earlier this month, the 61-year-old Baron obtained an experimental drug in hopes of treating his late-stage multiple myeloma. The drug, though, was not approved to treat his disease.

Baron made headlines this summer when he acknowledged sending money to Edwards' former mistress. Baron, who was national finance chairman for Edwards' presidential campaign, has said Edwards had no involvement with the payments. Those payments were used to resettle Rielle Hunter, Edwards' mistress, in California.

Baron has bankrolled millions for Democrats in Texas, almost single-handedly rescuing the party from financial catastrophe. Associated Press

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