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North Carolina news

Published 8:54pm Thursday, January 10, 2013

Coast Guard to hold hearing on tall ship’s sinking

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — The Coast Guard said Thursday it will convene a formal hearing next month into the sinking of a tall ship off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy.

The HMS Bounty sank about 90 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras during the October storm. One crew member, Claudene Christian, 42, died after she and the other 14 crew members evacuated the ship in two life boats. The captain, Robin Walbridge, 63, of St. Petersburg, Fla., is presumed dead after a three-day search failed to find him.

The Coast Guard said the hearing will take place at a hotel in Portsmouth from Feb. 12 to Feb. 21. During the hearing, the Coast Guard will investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the vessel’s sinking. The Coast Guard may also develop recommendations during the hearing to improve the safety of similar vessels. The National Transportation Safety Board will also participate in the investigation and may submit evidence, make recommendations and examine witnesses.

The three-masted sailing ship was built for the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando, and was featured in several other films over the years, including one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

The ship’s connection to its namesake went back to the original Bounty, whose crew famously took over the ship from its commander, Lt. William Bligh, in April 1789. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian, and Claudene Christian said she was his great-great-great-great-great granddaughter.


Officials plan controlled burns at Camp Lejeune

JACKSONVILLE (AP) — Officials plan controlled burns at Camp Lejeune to reduce the possibility of forest fires.

The Camp Lejeune Environmental Management Division has started lighting fires on forestry parts of the base and will continue the process for the next eight months.

Officials say the burning will help maintain clear habitats for endangered species and reduce the possibility of an uncontrolled wildfire. Kyle Avesing with the environmental management division says the prescribed burns will help endangered species like the Venus fly trap, rough-leaf loosestrife plant and the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Avesing says residents on and around the Marine training base can expect to see smoke from the planned fires until August. There will be a break in April and May because of the seasonal risk of fires.


Ex-NC youth pastor accepts plea deal on sex charge

GASTONIA (AP) — A former youth pastor and teacher has accepted a plea deal on a sex charge in Gaston County.

The Gaston Gazette reported ( that 34-year-old Brandon James Carter pleaded guilty to taking indecent liberties with a child and kidnapping Wednesday. He was sentenced to less than two years in prison. He will be on probation for three years and must register as a sex offender.

Carter was arrested last March. He was youth and music minister at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Cherryville at the time.

Prosecutors say the crime involving a 13-year-old girl occurred at a home in Lincoln County in 2004.

The now 21-year-old woman said she had to come forward to protect other teens.

Carter previously taught at East Lincoln Middle and East Lincoln High schools.


Smokies park hosted an extra half-million in 2012

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — A half-million more visitors toured the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2012 than during the preceding year.

Figures released by the National Park Service showed nearly 9,686,000 people entered the park during last year. That compares with just below 9,009,000 the year before.

Park officials said a mild winter and spring during 2012 helped boost tourism in the nation’s most-visited national park. There were nearly 2 percent more visitors in December than in the last month of 2011.

For the year, visits to the Smokies were up 7.5 percent from 2011.

The year with the largest number of visitors in this century was 2000, when 10.1 million people came to the Smokies.

NC schools cut corporal punishment cases in half
EMERY P. DALESIO,Associated Press


RALEIGH (AP) — The number of North Carolina children being paddled at school is falling fast as the handful of districts that continue to use physical pain as discipline decline.

A report to the State Board of Education on Thursday showed the number of uses of corporal punishment fell to 404 statewide during the last school year, down by 55 percent from the 891 cases in the 2010-2011 school year. That was the first year all uses of corporal punishment were required to be reported.

The new figures show that two out of every three times paddling was used in North Carolina schools, it happened in Robeson County.

Just a dozen of the state’s 115 school districts had employees swatting students, but just nine districts did it more than once.


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