Margaret Spellings visits Pembroke

Margaret Spellings talks with Community and Civic Engagement Director Christie Poteet.
Margaret Spellings talks with Community and Civic Engagement Director Christie Poteet.

UNC System President Margaret Spellings visited Pembroke to thank volunteers for providing local assistance after Hurricane Matthew. She talked to students and employees about relief efforts and visited the Care

Resource Center, which is operated by the Office for Community and Civic Engagement. The office runs a food bank and organizes volunteers to staff it. Spellings also brought donated supplies from other schools in the UNC system. She praised UNC Pembroke for helping out, even in the face of its own damage and loss of utilities for days, “it’s terrific to see a community to come together as this one has an aftermath of Hurricane Matthew I mean they’ve made a ton of progress in a short period of time. UNCP has probably, you know about 2 million dollars worth of damage. Governor McCrory has asked me to serve on the recovery commission and I intend to take what I’ve learned today back to that meeting on Tuesday morning. So I’m proud of y’all here in Pembroke and you know we’re here for the long haul.”

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Robeson County devastated by flooding

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Courtesy of CNN Newsource

Much of Robeson County is still recovering from the flooding damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. Despite the rumors, the levee in Lumberton did not actually break, though the Lumber River did overflow its banks in numerous locations. Many homes in the area were flooded by knee-deep water or higher. Emergency shelters were set up in county schools that also had no power. Estimates were as high as 2,000 people being displaced. The campus reopened on Monday, and Chancellor Cummings used the opportunity to make a formal address to employees and to any students who had returned ahead of Tuesday’s classes. He was joined by Student Body President Logan John. The Chancellor made a point to raise spirits despite the challenges Hurricane Matthew left. He ended his speech by reminding attendees about UNCP’s mission and how it relates to this disaster, “In closing, we talk a lot about our mission— about changing lives through education. Over the past 11 days, the lives of many of our students and employees have been profoundly—profoundly impacted. For them this is a critical time, for them their lives, their frame of reference now forever for the rest of their life will be before the storm, and after the storm. This disaster has the potential to derail dreams, to derail visions, to derail ambitions. UNCP can not allow that to happen and we will not allow that to happen because this is where people come to vision, this is where people come to dream and where dreams come true. We are going to stand by you people, we are going to make this happen.”

Hundreds rescued by air or boat

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Courtesy of CNN Newsource

Rescue teams in North Carolina were using helicopters to pluck people from their roofs, and boats to reach people down below. Emergency crews in Lumberton say they were trying to save some 1,500 people who were stranded by the flood. The FAA suspended flights in the area so choppers could go in more safely to rescue people, while officials stressed that people not try to drive their cars through flooded roads, where the depth can be deceiving. Deaths during the hurricane were attributed to drowning in cars and ditches.

Jobs still coming to North Carolina

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The company will get a local incentive package worth $400,000.

The HB2 Economic boycott of North Carolina does not seem to extend to the pharmaceutical industry. Aurobindo Pharma USA has announced 275 new manufacturing jobs will come to Durham. The New Jersey-based company makes generic pharmaceuticals. They’re investing about $32 million in a new research and development facility that will employ production operators and quality-control specialists. The company is part of a conglomerate headquartered in India. They’ll bring an annual payroll of about $17 million to Durham County.

NC Board of Elections encouraging absentee voting

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Elections continue throughout the year, with state supreme court affected on June 7.

Absentee voting began last week for the June primary in North Carolina, for 16 congressional districts, including District 9, where Scotland and Robeson Counties now fall. The June primary resulted from a court order to re-draw district lines that had been gerrymandered by race. The State Board of Elections is urging people to vote by mail so that high school graduations and summer vacations don’t keep people from going to the polls. Stand-alone primaries like this one suffer from low voter turnout, yet the state supreme court is another primary race being determined on June 7th.

NC governor modifies House Bill 2 limits

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Governor McCrory in his video message about his recent executive order on HB2.

In light of campus protests and high-profile boycotts of North Carolina, Governor McCrory this week issued Executive Order 93, which makes small concessions to HB2 opponents. In it he affirms the right of local governments to establish non-discrimination policies, but only for their own government employees. He expanded the states’s policy to protect government employment regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, but some states agencies already covered that. In the order he asks the General Assembly to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination. McCrory hasn’t budged on the issue of gendered bathrooms and locker rooms, the most sensational part of HB2. McCrory ended his video message this week by asking God to “continue to bless the great state of North Carolina.”

App State protestors end their occupation

Students stand with posters in hallway, including Black Lives Matter poster
Photo courtesy of ASU student protestors.

At Appalachian State University in Boone, students ended their occupation of the administration building this week. Student activists had been in the building for six days, demanding their chancellor to make a public statement opposing House Bill 2.  Previously they marched in the streets, blocked traffic, and demonstrated outside Chancellor Everts’ house. Everts did release a statement against HB2 but did not explicitly offer amnesty to employees who helped the students, which was one of the protestors’ demands.

 

Private colleges in NC oppose HB2 discrimination

Across the state, a number of private colleges have released statements about how the passing of the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act will impact their campuses. The trend in the statements they provided to the organization Campus Pride is that they are already dedicated to making sure their campuses are inclusive and diverse. Some of the schools already have single-occupancy bathrooms that are universal for all student use. Another impact of the law is that it prevents people from suing in state court if they think they have been discriminated against, whether they are in a protected category or not. As for state colleges, UNC-system President Margaret Spellings has declined to comment on the law, which omits sexual orientation as a class protected from discrimination by private entities.

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Examples of private institutions of higher education in North Carolina who have emphasized their own protections against discrimination.

NC attorney general says he won’t defend HB2

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Cooper says some state agencies have protections that are in conflict with the discrimination permitted by HB2.

North Carolina’s Attorney General says his office will not defend the constitutionality of a bill on transgender use of bathrooms. House Bill 2 blocks transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender they identify with. Instead, the law requires government agencies and public school bathrooms be used based only on biological sex. The bill was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory. It also overrides the ability of cities and towns to require more protection against discrimination in the private sector. State Attorney General Roy Cooper is challenging McCrory to be the state’s next governor, and he says the law is discriminatory.

In a press release he said the NC Department of Justice and the Treasurer’s Office have policies against the discrimination that would be permitted in the bill for private businesses.  He says McCrory should have followed the example of another Southern governor, Georgia’s Nathan Deal, who vetoed a similar bill that allegedly protected businesses’ religious liberty to discriminate.

 

 

 

 

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