State briefs

Published 11:34 am Monday, January 21, 2013

Former N.C. pastor pleads
guilty to sex charges
GASTONIA (AP) — A former Stanley pastor has pleaded guilty to engaging in sex acts with two girls while in Haiti doing mission work in 2009.
The Gaston Gazette reports Larry Bollinger was charged with two counts of sexual misconduct with minors last May. Federal indictments said he had sexual relations with the girls, who were 11 and 12 years old at the time.
The 67-year-old Bollinger cried in federal court Friday, thanking his wife for support and offering an apology. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for each count. A sentencing date hasn’t been set.
Bollinger worked for a missionary organization while in Haiti. While there, he served on several committees including a photography team which was to take pictures of each of the more than 600 students.

N.C. man to be reunited with Purple Heart from WWII
RALEIGH (AP) — A North Carolina man who mailed his Purple Heart home from France almost 70 years ago got it back in a ceremony in Rutherfordton.
Ninety-year-old George Hemphill reclaimed the Purple Heart he earned during World War II in France at a ceremony Sunday. He mailed it home and assumed it was in a box of his medals that he didn’t open.
A Florida man bought it in an antiques store in Columbia, S.C., in 2000 and held on to it. His friend found Purple Hearts Reunited, a Vermont organization run by Capt. Zachariah Fike. Fike tracked down Hemphill, who also will get a Bronze Star in Sunday’s ceremony.
Hemphill says he’s flabbergasted that so many people worked
to reunite him with his Purple

Examination of landslide
damaged N.C. road continues
CHEROKEE (AP) — Federal highway officials say they may have both a cost estimate and a repair timeline this week for the section of U.S. 441 in Cherokee destroyed in a landslide.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that engineers with the Federal Highway Administration continued their assessment Sunday of the highway, which goes through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As the link between Cherokee, N.C., and Gatlinburg, Tenn., it carries more than 2 million visitors annually.
Charles Sellars of the National Park Service said engineers may complete their assessment this week.
The landslide happened Wednesday morning about 9 miles north of Cherokee. Sellers said officials estimated 90,000 cubic yards of mud, rock and trees slid down a steep slope.
The area received more than 8 inches of rain over three days.

Nash County receives
$1 million for plant costs
ROCKY MOUNT (AP) — Sanderson Farms has given more than $1 million to Nash County to compensate for the costs of trying to bring a chicken processing plant to the county.
The reimbursement was received in a letter from Bob Billingsley, director of development and engineering for Sanderson Farms.
Sanderson Farms officials said in November that they wouldn’t open a large-scale chicken processing plant in Nash County on N.C. 97 just north of the Wilson County line. The company cited legal challenges that could delay the project.
County Commissioner Robbie Davis presented the letter during a county commissioners’ retreat Friday at the Golden