Already-strained child care centers in NC’s Border Belt fear loss of state funding

By Rachel Baldauf rachelbaldauf@borderbelt.org Cynthia Mitchell, who has been the director of Beverly’s Day Care in Columbus County for 36 years, has always had a tough job. But it’s gotten even harder since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a drop in enrollment and a spike in supply costs.  Funding from North Carolina’s Child Care Stabilization Grants helped Mitchell stay afloat. Since 2021, the pandemic …Read more Continue reading Already-strained child care centers in NC’s Border Belt fear loss of state funding

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Robeson and Scotland counties are growing, slowly, for the first time in years

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org  Robeson and Scotland counties grew between 2020 and 2023, mirroring population increases across much of rural North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Robeson County grew by 0.91% during the three-year span, accounting for an increase of 1,056 people, according to a new report from the North Carolina Rural Center. Neighboring Scotland County grew by 0.25%, an increase of 86 people. While …Read more Continue reading Robeson and Scotland counties are growing, slowly, for the first time in years

Elizabethtown needs to prevent flooding. But with little cash, options are limited

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org  Stephen Duffy feels like he is constantly playing a game of Whac-A-Mole. The Elizabethtown public services director is stuck in a stormwater doom loop: filling potholes and sealing broken pipes as needed but never attacking the root cause of the damage caused by stormwater. That’s because the Bladen County town, like most municipalities across rural southeastern North Carolina, lacks any budget …Read more Continue reading Elizabethtown needs to prevent flooding. But with little cash, options are limited

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Horace Locklear, a Lumbee trailblazer in North Carolina law and politics, dies

By Sarah Nagem sarahnagem@borderbelt.org Horace Locklear saw the injustices of the segregated South while growing up in Robeson County, where schools, the local hospital and water fountains were separated into thirds — white, Black and Native American.  The prejudices he endured as a Lumbee ignited in Locklear a commitment to serve his community and advocate for tribal rights. He became the first Native American licensed attorney …Read more Continue reading Horace Locklear, a Lumbee trailblazer in North Carolina law and politics, dies

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Red Springs company’s request for $1.1m in state funds would not ‘survive an audit’

By Lisa Sorg  This story was originally published by NC Newsline. No payroll. No receipts. No bills or invoices. Lacking any supporting documentation, James Freeman, president of the Emerging Technology Institute, nonetheless asked the Town of Red Springs to reimburse him $1.1 million in state taxpayer funds for “service, salaries and goods” related to his military training center and STEM education venture, public records show. But the …Read more Continue reading Red Springs company’s request for $1.1m in state funds would not ‘survive an audit’

Columbus County magistrate suspended, accused of ethical violations

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org Robert A. Worley was suspended from his duties as a Columbus County magistrate on Wednesday after being accused of using private court records for personal use and criticizing the Whiteville Police Department in Facebook posts. Six members of the Whiteville Police Department, including Chief Douglas Ipock, said in affidavits that Worley used records from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the …Read more Continue reading Columbus County magistrate suspended, accused of ethical violations

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Judge denies petition in Robeson County election bribery case

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier denied an appeal in a case alleging voter bribery in Robeson County’s primary election, an attorney involved in the case said Wednesday.   The ruling by Rozier, who had not filed an order explaining his decision as of Thursday morning, means Robeson County Commissioner Judy Sampson’s slim victory in the March 5 Democratic primary will …Read more Continue reading Judge denies petition in Robeson County election bribery case

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Columbus and Robeson counties among 10 deadliest in US for car crashes, analysis shows

By Rachel Baldauf rachelbaldauf@borderbelt.org  Robeson and Columbus counties are among the top 10 most dangerous counties in the United States for drivers, according to a new analysis. Robeson ranked third and Columbus ranked sixth in the study, which looked at the number of traffic deaths per 10,000 people between 2018 and 2021. Robeson County saw 263 traffic deaths during that time, the most out of …Read more Continue reading Columbus and Robeson counties among 10 deadliest in US for car crashes, analysis shows

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Two Robeson County commissioners are accused of bribing voters in primary election

By Ben Rappaport and Paul Woolverton This story was co-published by The Assembly, CityView and the Border Belt Independent. Update: Superior Court Judge Hoyt Tessener issued a temporary pause April 23 on the election results between Lacy Cummings and Judy Sampson. A hearing is scheduled for April 29 in Raleigh. Two Robeson County commissioners are accused of bribing at least 21 voters in the March …Read more Continue reading Two Robeson County commissioners are accused of bribing voters in primary election

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Thousands of southeastern NC residents will likely lose discount for internet service 

By Sarah Nagem sarahnagem@borderbelt.org Tens of thousands of people in rural southeastern North Carolina are set to lose access to a federal program that helps pay for internet service. The Affordable Connectivity Program allows eligible residents to save up to $30 on their monthly internet bill. But the program for low-income families is set to end in May unless Congress agrees to extend its funding. …Read more Continue reading Thousands of southeastern NC residents will likely lose discount for internet service