Underwoods
Geer Services, Inc.
Geer Services, Inc.
Charles Parish
Geer Services, Inc.
San Marco Properties
Claude Nolan
Geer Services, Inc.
Aug 142013
 

Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — North Carolina’s sweeping and restrictive new voting law is facing multiple legal challenges from civil rights groups that argue it discriminates against black and young voters.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill Monday, which goes into effect in 2016. Among other things, the law requires voters to bring state-issued photo IDs to the polls, cuts down early voting time by one week, eliminates same-day voter registration, and bans pre-registration for youth voters who will turn 18 on Election Day.

The American Civil Liberties Union, along with two other groups, immediately filed a legal challenge that argues the law attempts to suppress minority voters, thereby violating the Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP has filed a similar suit.

Allison Riggs, a staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said in a statement, “Taken together, the new restrictions in this law will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible voters, depriving many of our most vulnerable citizens from being able to easily exercise a constitutional right.”

A third lawsuit will challenge the voter ID provision under the state’s constitution, according to The Nation.

McCrory and Republican lawmakers noted that voter ID laws are popular in opinion polls and stated that the North Carolina law is simply meant to prevent voter fraud.

But Democrats and civil rights groups argue that voter fraud is a negligible problem in North Carolina. And moreover, they say that Republicans are simply trying to improve their chances of winning elections by preventing young and minority voters — who tend to vote Democrat — from casting ballots.

North Carolina is the latest battleground on voting rights. Last June, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that required certain states with a history of racial discrimination, including North Carolina, to get federal permission before changing their voting laws.

Since the restrictions were removed, several states have moved swiftly to enact new voting laws. The Justice Department has already indicated it will pursue legal action against Texas for its new voter ID law, and North Carolina could be next on the list.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

May 292013
 

ABC News(HAVELOCK, N.C.) — Warren Salter’s yard had yielded more problems than dandelions. Just inches below the surface, he’s dug up glass, spark plugs, even the hood to an old truck.

Salter bought his house in Havelock, N.C., in 2001, but by 2003 he realized that something was wrong.

“Everybody’s yard is dropping,” Salter told ABC News. “What used to be flat land for the kids to play football in is now big sunken areas.”

“Trees I planted about five years ago, now you look at them and they’re tilted downhill toward where everything is sinking,” he said.

The reason, he said, is because the neighborhood was built on an old landfill, one that Salter said was last used in the 1940s and 1950s. The city of Havelock began building out in the 1960s and Salter’s home was constructed in 1973.

“My neighbor knew of the dump before this area was built out. He actually remembers where an old school bus is buried,” said Salter. That bus in now believed to be under someone’s backyard.

Salter told ABC News that he only has to dig inches in his yard to find traces of the dump like steel, glass or the truck hood.

Salter put a call in to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2003 after he realized there was a problem, and they directed him to the North Carolina Division of Waste Management. He said the state conducted studies on the neighborhood around 2005. It was discovered during these inspections that some cavities, or land voids, are a mere two feet below the soil, believed to be caused by now decomposed garbage, he said.

“I get the feeling that it won’t be long before I’m coming home, driving my truck up to my driveway and will sink right through,” he said.

Neighbor Shannon Richards moved into her 1975 house in 2001 and learned about the landfill a year later.

“My problem is with my house settling. I have cracks in my drywall. I even have some doors that won’t close anymore. A couple of years ago, I had a pipe that snapped. That was before we knew of the landfill…now I realize that was probably due to that,” Richards said.

“My dog has pulled glass out of the backyard,” she said.

Richards said the city of Havelock should be held somewhat responsible.

“[The city] issued the permits to the builders. We’d like for them to come in and properly clean it up. If they can’t do that, we’d like for them to buy us out,” she said.

Havelock city attorney Warden Smith told ABC News that a city meeting is scheduled for June 10, but Salter and his neighbors may find it a bit “anticlimactic.”

“As a practical matter, the meeting on the 10th is simply for our office to report the board of commissioners our findings…for these citizens, it may be a fairly disappointing meeting,” Smith said.

“My answer as the city attorney is that the city of Havelock has no liability at all,” Smith said. “It wasn’t done on their watch.”

Smith explained that the landfill and the dumping predated the establishment of the city. He said, “Private property owners will have to deal with it themselves.”

The North Carolina Division of Waste Management said in a statement Wednesday, “We are investigating the site to determine the nature and extent of the waste and any health risks due to the presence of metals on-site. Through preliminary soil testing, we have determined the presence of metals in the soils, but those levels are not considered to be an immediate health risk to people living in the community.”

Salter said that he is having “a hard time” finding legal representation. He even put in a call to environmental activist Erin Brockovich, but has yet to hear back.

“The house is settling. My back yard is dropping. My neighbor’s yard is dropping quickly.” Salter said. “We have a mess out here and we’re not getting the attention we deserve to get it cleaned up.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 062013
 

WCTI/ABC News(GREENVILLE, N.C.) — A Florida woman is being held on $5 million bond for allegedly mailing a knife to her two young children and telling them to kill their grandparents, police said.

Leticia Silva, 31, of Lakeland, Fla., is charged with four counts of solicitation to commit murder. Her children, daughters age 7 and 9, have been living with their grandparents in Greenville, N.C., for seven years.  The grandparents have permanent custody of the girls, police said.

Silva “contacted her children and asked them to kill their grandparents,” according to a statement by the Pitt County Sheriff’s office.  Greenville is located in Pitt County.

“The children revealed that Silva had mailed a knife to be used as the weapon to commit this crime,” the sheriff’s statement said.

 

The knife and the message were sent to the girls in December 2012, police said. The grandparents found the knife under the pillow of one of the girls in February, according to the statement. The police said they began their investigation on Feb. 4.

Officials said the grandparents spoke to the children about finding the knife and were told that they “love their grandparents very much” and couldn’t carry out the murder.

Silva turned herself in to Pitt County authorities on Monday and was held on $5 million bond. She recently requested a reduction in bail, telling the judge, “Your honor,  I need… my family is here from Florida. I turned myself in. I need to see if I can get a bond reduction.”

The judge refused to lower Silva’s bail.

Silva’s boyfriend reportedly has said that he believes the charges are a result of a “misunderstanding” and that the children’s grandparents are “making this all up.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 042013
 

Thinkstock/Getty Images(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) — It was cold, wet and gray in Winston-Salem, N.C., when Police Officer Charlie Ziegler noticed a woman pushing a stroller in the rain.

“I went up to her and said, ‘Get in the car, there’s no reason for you or your baby to be out here,’” Ziegler told ABC News.

Ziegler’s act of chivalry last Tuesday was photographed by a passer-by and posted on Facebook and the officer has been surprised by how popular the photo has become on the Internet since, to him,  it was a normal act of kindness.

“You see someone and you just help them,” he said.

The woman and her child had only three blocks left before reaching her destination, a daycare center where she works, but Ziegler wanted to get them out of the icy rain.

Ziegler joined the police department four years ago.

“It was one of those, either do it or stop talking about it kind of moments. Right around when the economy went completely down. So I applied and here I am,” said Ziegler.

But the officer doesn’t attribute his good deed to being a policeman. As a husband and father of two young children, Ziegler says even if he was off-duty, he still would have helped the woman.

When off-duty, Ziegler works at First Baptist Church. He said that while providing security there, he often sees the woman who he helped walk by.

Ziegler’s mother-in-law, Donna Johnson, told ABC News that the act was representative of his caring personality.

“He’s just that type of person. Very helpful and outgoing, and he doesn’t want to see anyone in trouble or in need,” said Johnson.

Ziegler’s wife Rachel echoed her mom’s statement. “It’s not a surprising story,” she told ABC News. “It’s very Charlie-esque.”

Rachel Ziegler said she’s surprised by how viral the image has become.

“Last Tuesday I was actually having lunch with him and he told me that someone from the local news had contacted him and it surprised me,” she said. “You would just expect anyone to do that…to save someone from the freezing rain.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jan 202013
 

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — Three people were wounded at a gun show in North Carolina on Saturday, when a 12-gauge shotgun accidentally fired as a man was trying to open the case during a security check, local officials said.

A retired sheriff’s deputy and two bystanders were hit by shotgun pellets today at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show, which is held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

“When he attempted to open the case to be inspected, the shotgun accidentally discharged,” fairgrounds spokesman Brian Long said.

The three suffered minor gunshot wounds.

Because of the shooting, Long said private gun sales will be banned at the show Sunday.

“We are not going to allow any what you would call private person-to-person gun sales,” he said. “They will not be allowed to bring a gun with them. They will only be able to come in and buy from the vendors that are selling at the show.”

Long said thousands of people turned out to attend the annual show.

“The advance ticket sales for the show were higher than usual, so we do believe that we have an adequate number of officers and security personnel on sight,” he said.

There were two other incidents at other gun shows around the country Saturday.

A man shot himself in the hand when he was unloading his .45-caliber semi-automatic at the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show in Indianapolis. And gun dealer checking a semi-automatic handgun he’d bought accidentally pulled the trigger, and the bullet ricocheted off the floor and hit a friend in the arm and leg. The gun’s magazine had been removed, but one round was still in the chamber, police said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio