Local

Wilmington, NC – The Wilmington Fire Department has the equipment and manpower, but lacks training and support staff. That's the finding of an outside assessment commissioned by the city.

Recommendations include boosting the number of training captains from one to four or five, and hiring an I-T person. It also recommends fixing safety issues at some of the older firehouses.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says city staff will comb through the 207-page report and prioritize recommendation.

Wilmington, NC – Thursday was the official grand opening of Wilmington's first off-leash dog park.

A private citizen group teamed up with the city to make the two acre stretch of fenced in park a reality at Empie Park. Small dogs and big dogs each have their own areas to run free, and there are water facilities and seating.

The city says Empie Park's new off-leash dog park, and Kure Beach, are now the only two places in the immediate area where dogs can romp free from their masters.

Wilmington, NC – Neighborhood complaints tipped off police to keep an eye on a Castle Street clothing store called "X-Slave Fashions."

Police say that after witnessing what they thought was a drug deal in front of the store, officers arrested the owner and three others.

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous credits old-fashioned, boots-on-the-street policing for the bust.

"It's like the door-to-door salesmen. If you keep banging on doors, you're going to make a sale. Well, it's the same thing out there. You've just got to keep hammering away at it."

Wilmington, NC – Robeson County is gearing up to launch the first 211 information number east of I-95.

Robeson County commissioners signed off on the phone line this week. The number will deliver information on such topics as where to get flu shots, severe weather and social services.

United Way of Robeson County Director Sandra Oliver says there is a strong need for the 211 line.

Wilmington, NC – Wal-Mart says a stoplight put the breaks on a proposed store for Market Street in Ogden.

The 200,000 square foot store was planned for a stretch of Market Street near Dunbar Road in Ogden.

Wal-Mart spokesperson Tara Stewart tells WHQR that a stoplight couldn't be secured for the area, that along with issues surrounding Wilmington's moratorium on sewer hookups forced the company to abandon the project.

Wilmington, NC – The National Weather Service estimates four to five inches of rain fell on parts New Hanover county Tuesday, flooding intersections and shorting out traffic lights.

A blocked storm drain closed the 3rd Street on-ramp to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge for several hours, backing up traffic down 3rd Street and forcing drivers like Larry Dew of Harvest Table Ministries into stop-and-go traffic.

Wilmington, NC – Tuesday's heavy rains washed out the Beach Blast and Beach Sweep planned for UNCW students.

The university says weather reports of afternoon storms were convincing enough to cancel the event, which was planned for Wrightsville Beach near Ocean Pier.

Instead, students were treated to a showing of the cult classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off at UNCW's new movie theater.

Wilmington, NC – Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo delivered an update Tuesday on the convention center planned for downtown Wilmington.

Saffo says a development agreement will be made within the next two months.

Opponents of the convention center say there will not be enough business to support it, leaving the city stuck with the bills. But Saffo says having the project paid for with an occupancy tax is better than using general tax money.

Wilmington, NC –

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - Pentair Inc. on Tuesday cut its earnings outlook for the third and fourth quarters, sending its shares down as much as 10 percent, as weakness in the housing market took a toll on its swimming pool equipment business.

Wilmington, NC – Nearly 90% of the surveyed firefighters rated morale at the department as 'Poor,' 'Very Poor,' or 'Terrible,' and more than half said they've considered leaving.

The Wilmington Professional Firefighters Association, which represents a majority of the city's firefighters, contracted with an outside group for the survey as part of their ongoing effort to lobby for changes in the department. The group presented their findings at the City Council meeting Tuesday night.

123 of the surveys sent out were returned, a response rate of 62%.

Wilmington, NC – The City of Wilmington is asking S & C Communications to pay for the cost of fixing damage to a sewer pipe last month.

A letter from the Assistant City Attorney requests $196,605.01.

Nearly five million gallons of wastewater spilled after an S & C crew punctured the River Road sewage pipe back in July.

At first the company said the city failed to mark the pipe, but the city has said it has photos that it marked the site.

Wilmington, NC – UNCW's Assistant Men's Basketball coach has resigned after a little more than three months on the job.

Chuck Benson says he's leaving for an assistant coaching job at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson, Tennessee.

Back in April, Benson was the first hire by Seahawks head coach Benny Moss.

Wilmington, NC – Governor Mike Easley says he will sign legislation removing specific goals for the North Carolina Department of Transportation when it comes to contracting work out to minority and women-owned businesses.

The North Carolina Black Leadership Caucus is urging Easley to veto the bill, which removes the 10% and 5% goals for contracting work out to minority and women-own businesses.

NCBLC Director N. Carnell Robinson says eliminating apsirational goals for the DOT will send a message to other state agencies.

Wilmington, NC – Governor Mike Easley signed the landfill moratorium into law in a room at Cape Fear Community College overlooking Brunswick county, site of one of the state's most contentious waste disposal battles.

The proposed Hugo Neu landfill in Navassa is one of five applications statewide frozen by the law.

Easley says while some of the projects may have merit, the state needs more time to develop a coherent policy on proposed landfills.

Wilmington, NC – Passengers flying out of Wilmington International Airport should expect heightened security due to an alleged terrorist plot in London to blow up U.S.-bound planes.

Although Wilmington is not a national hub, airport director Jon Rosborough says increased security precautions are underway at ILM.

He says cars are prohibited from lingering at the curb for pick-ups and drop offs, and beefed up security inside the airport may slow down the boarding process.

Wilmington, NC – The University of North Carolina, Wilmington launched a new program delivering graduate science courses for middle and high school science teachers.

It's the first program in the state focused on giving science teachers a boost in knowledge.

The courses are open to current teachers, professionals from the science field moving into teaching jobs, and graduate students working toward a teaching degree.

ICW, New Hanover County – The radio on detective Morrissette's console blares out the normal chaos of law enforcement - attempted break-ins, car crashes, and fights. But those troubles are a world away from the sparking waves of Mott's Channel off Wrightsville beach. Where Morrissette's attention is currently on a pair of dolphins cresting in the shallows.

Wilmington, NC – An intense thunderstorm roared through southeastern North Carolina late Tuesday afternoon, leaving flooded streets, power outages, and fallen trees in its path.

Wind gusts reached 49 mph, and more than two inches of rain pelted rush hour traffic as the quick, hard-hitting system rolled through Wilmington.

Progress Energy says 6,700 homes were without power, but crews had most of the lights back on within 45 minutes.

Wilmington, NC – The Department of Health and Human Services has refused an application to turn Southport's Fort Johnston into a homeless shelter.

The decision released Monday blocks Fellowship Deliverance Ministries of Georgia from taking over the waterfront property.

An HHS spokesperson says it declined the application because the group failed to explain how it would staff the shelter, provide services and manage the property while out of state.

Wilmington, NC – Work will soon begin to replace the control system on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

The state has now awarded a $5.4 million dollar contract on work that will begin later this month, and wrap up 18 months from now.

The control system lifts the bridge for river traffic.

Lannie Wilson of the North Carolina Board of Transportation says this is the first electrical upgrade for the 37-year-old lift span bridge.

Wilmington, NC – Wilmington's Good Shepherd Ministries says its food pantry is getting bare.

Executive Director Katrina Knight says the supply usually gets thin around October, but a growing demand along with the newly added dinner meal has caused the agency to run low earlier.

She says short supplies hit all food agencies in the summer when people are on vacation and out of their usual routines.

Wilmington, NC – Traffic planners at the City of Wilmington will roll out plans Thursday night to possibly cut the number of lanes on a stretch of Market Street.

The city is looking at Market Street from Covil to Third, trimming it from four to two lanes and filling up the remaining space with bike lanes and/ or turn lanes at certain intersections.

Wilmington, NC – An online petition is calling on state officials to get involved in efforts to preserve public saltwater fishing piers in North Carolina.

Paul Graham, co-sponsor of the petition, says private pier owners are plagued by hurricane risks and financial difficulties, and many are scrambling to sell.

Graham says the fishing piers are very important to him and to many long-time beachgoers, and it would be a shame to lose such a valuable part of North Carolina's coastal culture.

Wilmington, NC – Construction is under way in Columbus County on a new state prison.

The maximum-security prison is going up near Tabor City and will hold 992 cells.

Crews cleared the site last summer and a construction started back in June. John Harris is the senior project manager for Centex Construction, he says it's going to take thousands of workers to build the prison, most of them local.

Harris says he expects to finish the prison by April of 2008, and it will cost 94-million dollars.

Wilmington, NC – Cape Fear Community College is kicking off its seventh annual Wooden Boat Festival Friday in downtown Wilmington.

Tom Forrester may be over eighty and overheated, but the local woodwork enthusiast doesn't let that slow him down.

Forrester is happy to put in the hours at the riverside workshop where he's getting his exhibit ready for this weekend's festival.

Wilmington, NC – Less work on beach erosion, more on ocean exploration. That will be the shift if the Undersea Research Center at UNC-Wilmington is successful in lobbying congress.

UNCW's Undersea Research Center is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

A bill currently before congress could combine NOAA's undersea research with its ocean exploration program.

Wilmington, NC – State lawmakers are attempting to crack down on cell phone use in the car, but some traffic officials say the bill would be difficult to enforce.

A new bill prohibiting teens from chatting on cell phones behind the wheel contains a loophole allowing some calls. Lieutenant Everett Clendenin of the North Carolina Highway Patrol says such loopholes would make issuing citations difficult.

Wilmington, NC – New Hanover County Republicans now have their candidates for two open races for the North Carolina legislature.

The New Hanover County GOP tapped Wilmington dentist Al Roseman for the 9th Senate District race.

In a 25 to 20 vote, voting members of the New Hanover County republican party chose Wilmington dentist Al Roseman over retired banker Beth Dawson to take on incumbent Julia Boseman.

Wilmington, NC – Last year's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission designated the Adrian B. Wilmington Armed Forces Reserve Center on West Lakeshore Drive a surplus property. Now, under federal rules, groups that would use the facility for public benefit get the first shot at it, with homeless services taking a preferred role in the transfer.

Wilmington, NC – State Health Officials are urging residents in eastern North Carolina to use insect repellent after diagnosing cases of West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis in some chickens and a horse.

The chickens diagnosed with West Nile were in Craven and Beaufort counties.

The Eastern Equine Encephalitis cases were diagnosed in Columbus and Carteret counties.

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