Expert sees improved outlook for fall leaves in North Carolina

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ASHEVILLE (AP) — An expert on fall foliage who had earlier said leaf colors in the North Carolina mountains would be below average is changing her forecast
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports Western Carolina University resident leaf color expert Kathy Matthews says relatively dry conditions over the last month, along with cooling temperatures, have improved the outlook.
In her mid-August forecast, Matthews predicted a less-than-spectacular season because of consistent rain over much of the year. She said leaf color for trees getting abundant rain generally is muted, adding that the stress of dry soil causes colors to pop.
Matthews said while some trees are already showing some color, the Asheville area and other valley locations appear to be on pace for changes, which is in the second and third weeks of October.
RALEIGH (AP) — Two closely-linked outside groups poised to target Republican candidates for the North Carolina legislature have disclosed how much money they now have to work with in the fall campaign’s final weeks.
North Carolina Families First says it’s received $1.4 million and N.C. Citizens for Protecting Our Schools collected $237,000 to produce electioneering communications, like TV and radio ads and mailers. The amounts are identified in new filings with the State Board of Elections. The groups have spent $92,000 so far, with most going to a television ad calling out three state House members in the mountains.
N.C. Families First actually reports receiving nearly $1 million for its activities from N.C. Citizens for Protecting Our Schools. N.C. Citizens says contributions for activities to-date came in part from the National Education Association.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities say an Army sergeant has pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy to defraud the government in connection with a scheme to steal more than a million gallons of fuel from the U.S. military for resale in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Department of Justice said 32-year-old Christopher Ciampa of Lillington, North Carolina, entered his plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court. Sentencing is scheduled for December.
Ciampa was assigned to manage requests for fuel and other items for military units in Afghanistan. Prosecutors say Ciampa and others submitted false requests which were awarded to an Afghan trucking company, costing the U.S. nearly $11 million.
Ciampa admitted that he and his co-conspirators sent some of the money back to the U.S., adding that he hid $180,000 inside stereo equipment shipped back home.
GRIFTON (AP) — Authorities in Lenoir County say one person is dead after a house fire.
Local media outlets report the first started around 11 a.m. Tuesday in a house near the Pitt County line.
The Hugo Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire and put it out within minutes. The victim was found shortly afterward.
Both the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation are looking into the fire.