Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Quartz plant fire forces evacuationSPRUCE PINE (AP) ó Residents of the Spruce Pine area were able to return home Sunday morning after a plant fire forced them to evacuate their homes.
The Unimin Corporation Quartz/Feldspar Plant in Spruce Pine suffered “substantial” damage in the fire, which started around 11 p.m. Saturday, according to a company press release. Plant manager Doug Myers said there were no injuries at the facility, which normally operates only on weekdays.
Officials told people who live within four miles of the plant to evacuate their homes because of the fire. Fire departments from six counties sent crews to assist with putting out the blaze.
Officials said the fire appeared to be contained as of 5 a.m. but residents had to wait until authorities gave the all clear before returning home. Myers said the cause of the fire has not been determined. He said the fire did not pose a danger to the surrounding area, but air quality tests were being conducted.
Spruce Pine is roughly 50 miles northeast of Asheville. The Unimin site, which includes the plant, a mine, laboratories and an office building, employs 92 people, according to a company press release. The plant itself employs 46 people.
State accelerating anti-DWI efforts
RALEIGH (AP) ó North Carolina is stepping up efforts to keep drunken drivers off the state’s roadways.
In announcing the campaign, Gov. Mike Easley said that officers will ramp up patrols and checkpoints through Jan. 4 for the Booze It & Lose It campaign. In a statement, Easley urged residents to celebrate the holidays responsibly.
The state says that, during last year’s holiday season, 165 North Carolina motorists were involved in fatal traffic crashes.
Alcohol was involved in 49 of those fatalities.
Prosecutors dispute marshal’s story
RALEIGH (AP) ó Federal prosecutors say they don’t think a retired U.S. Marshal was telling the truth when he took up for Jeffrey MacDonald, the military doctor convicted of killing his wife and two children 38 years ago.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that prosecutors argued in papers filed this month that Jim Britt never drove to South Carolina to bring a key witness to MacDonald’s 1979 murder trial. Britt died last month.
He came forward in 2005 saying he heard a prosecutor coerce that witness to lie in MacDonald’s trial. MacDonald’s recent appeal was based Britt’s statements.
MacDonald, a former Fort Bragg Army surgeon, is serving three life sentences for the murders of his pregnant wife and two daughters. The story produced the best-selling book and television miniseries “Fatal Vision.”
Fayetteville police fatally shoot man
FAYETTEVILLE (AP) ó State police are conducting a routine investigation after a Fayetteville police officer shot and killed a man.
Fayetteville Police Lt. David Sportsman said early Friday that an officer responding to a report of shots fired about 9 p.m. Thursday came upon a man stumbling in the middle of a road.
Sportsman said when the officer tried to question the man, he fired at the officer.
Sportsman said Officer Michael Yount returned fire. The man was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. His name was not immediately released.
The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating, standard procedure when an officer is involved in a shooting incident. Yount is being placed on administrative duty.
Federal grant will help mentally ill inmates
DURHAM (AP) ó Mental health professionals in Durham have a $200,000 federal grant to help them steer nonviolent inmates who are mentally ill into treatment programs.
About three dozen inmates will be helped through the two-year program, beginning early next year.
The Durham Center and Alternative Care Treatment Systems of Kinston will work with inmates to create plans that keep inmates out of jail while giving them the help they need.
Officials say each team will consist of a mental health professional, a person knowledgeable about the criminal justice system and a person with mental illness who has received help.
A dozen sites around the state have used similar programs and have diverted more than 300 people into mental health treatment programs.