Crime rates hit 25-year low in North Carolina

Published 12:48 pm Friday, July 16, 2010

The overall crime rate in North Carolina plunged 8.8 percent in 2009, the largest annual drop since the state started tracking crime figures in 1973, according to N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper. Violent crime was down even more, dropping 12.5 percent compared to 2008.

Statewide figures show a 19.1 percent decline in homicides in 2009. Robberies were down 17.6 percent and aggravated assaults fell 10.7 percent, although the rate of rates was unchanged. The state also saw improvement in property crime rates. Motor vehicle thefts were down 25.8 percent.

Officials attributed the improvement in North Carolina, in part, to improved law enforcement efforts and stricter sentencing. Attorney General Cooper noted that North Carolina is planning to implement a new law that will expand the states DNA database for criminal investigations and could further reduce crime rates. Some law enforcement officers also attributed the drop in crime to an aging population in the state and country, adding that most crime is committed by younger people.&bsp; The overall crime rate fell 5 percent nationally in 2009.

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Tuition will jump in the University of North Carolina system for the upcoming 2010-11 year due to budget cuts by the state legislature, according to UNC President Erskine Bowles.

Bowles approved an increase of $750 for students attending UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State, the largest universities in the UNC system and the ones hit with the largest budget cuts.&bsp; At UNC-Asheville tuition is expected to rise by $82 for the upcoming year and then by $347 for the 2011-12 year. Students at Western Carolina University and Appalachian State University will see increases of $573 and $468, respectively, in the upcoming year. Each campus was given the option of raising tuition over the next two years, although most opted for the full increase this year.


North Carolina has been ranked fourth in CNBC’s annual “America’s Top States for Business” survey, according to N.C. Governor Bev Perdue. North Carolina moves up from ninth last year.

The ranking is the highest North Carolina has achieved in the four years of the survey. In 2008 and 2007, North Carolina ranked 6th and 5th, respectively.

In its rankings, CNBC scored the states on more than 40 measures of competitiveness based on the cost of doing business, workforce, quality of life, economy, transportation and infrastructure, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital and cost of living.


State lawmakers have given support for an alternative energy project that is expected to turn all of Mecklenburg Countys household garbage into electricity. The N.C. Senate voted 44-0 to allow power produced at the ReVenture Park plant in Gaston County to count triple toward the states alternative energy requirements.&bsp; The state is requiring all electric companies to get three percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2012. The project, which will include a biomass power plant and solar farm, is expected to employ about 1,000 people at a former textile-dye plant in Gaston County.


The City of Charlotte has received a $25 million federal grant to plan the first leg of a streetcar line. The city plans to start streetcar service in 2014, 70 years after they last ran in the city. The first leg will run from the Presbyterian Hospital to the citys main transit station near Time Warner Cable Arena.

The city later wants to extend a 10-mile line from Beatties Ford Road to an area near Eastland Mall, a project that could cost about $500 million and take about 20 years to complete. In addition to the federal grant, the city set aside $12 million for the first phase of the project, which is expected to cost about $37 million.

The city plans to begin work soon on the first phase by moving utilities under the street. Overhead lines will power the cars.

Charlotte beat out 65 other cities applying for the federal grant.


Rev. William Barber, the president of the NAACP in North Carolina, and three other activists have been banned from stepping on the property of Wake County Schools, the largest school system in the state. Barber, Duke University historian Tim Tyson and two other activists were arrested on June 15 following accusations they disrupted a school board meeting.

The activists have been protesting a decision by Wake County School to end busing in the district. The district had allowed students to attend better performing schools outside their immediate neighborhood, but a new school board voted earlier this year to end the practice and return to neighborhood schools. Protesters say the decision was racially motivated.


A judge has ordered Rutherford County Schools to pay about $730,000 to Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy (TJCA).&bsp; TJCA claimed the Rutherford County school system was not distributing federal and state revenue to the charter school as required by state law. The tax revenue is designated for children in the county from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. TJCA sued for more than $900,000 in tax revenue it says it is owed over the past four years.

By the way the law was written, the current expense money has to be divided per student basis, and we represent 7 percent of the Rutherford County student population, said TJCA headmaster Joe Maimone. By the start of the 2010-11 school year, 1,000 students will be enrolled in the charter grammar, middle and high schools.


Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport is planning a $90 million renovation to improve the appearance and function of the 50-year-old main terminal.&bsp; The airport plans to make the building more eco-friendly while also improving traffic flow and security and centralizing ticketing and screening.

In 2009, GSP had 1.2 million passengers, down from a high of 1.8 million in 2005. The airport says it hopes the renovation will allow it to handle more than two million passengers annually in the future.


South Carolina has passed a new law allowing breweries to offer limiting tastings of their products and sell a limited amount of beer following a tour. Previously, beer only could be sold in retail stores in the state, while wine could be sold at wineries. The new law, signed by Gov. Mark Sanford at R.J. Rockers in Spartanburg, is expected to boost the states micro-brewery industry.


Four of the original Greenville 8 who confronted segregation reunited recently in Greenville, S.C. to mark the 50-year anniversary of their sit-in at the whites-only Greenville Public Library in 1960. The group included Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The Greenville 8 entered the library on July 16, 1960 in protest of its segregation policies. They peacefully refused to leave and were arrested by city police.&bsp; Following a lawsuit, the Greenville Public Library temporarily closed and then reopened on September 19 as an integrated public facility.