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This Hour: Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment

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KIDNAP VICTIM RESCUED

Woman charged in NC kidnap to have bond hearing

ATLANTA (AP) - A woman facing charges in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor's father is set to have a bond hearing in federal court in Atlanta.

Patricia Kramer was one of nine people indicted Tuesday in the April 5 kidnapping of Frank Janssen. Authorities say the kidnapping was retaliation for Janssen's daughter's prosecution of a high-ranking member of the Bloods gang being held in a North Carolina prison.

Kramer was originally scheduled for a bond hearing Wednesday. But the hearing had to be postponed so a new lawyer could be appointed for her. Originally, a Federal Defender Program lawyer had been appointed for her. But the program is already representing another defendant in the case, so it can't represent Kramer as well.

The other eight people charged are in custody.

PRIMARY-EARLY VOTING

NC early voting begins for May 6 primary election

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Polls are opening in all 100 counties so people can vote in person before the May 6 primary day in North Carolina.

Early voting starts Thursday. It's different from similar periods in recent years because the General Assembly passed a law in 2013 reducing the number of early-voting days from 17 to 10.

Citizens also can no longer register to vote at early-voting sites and cast ballots at the same time. Voter registration ended two weeks ago. Early voting ends May 3.

The law required counties to offer the same number of cumulative hours of voting time during the 10 days as they did before. But dozens of counties received exemptions for this election.

Voters are casting ballots for U.S. Senate, Congress, the legislature, court posts and local seats.

STRAWBERRY CROP

NC strawberry growers expect strong season

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina strawberry growers are expecting a strong season despite the late spell of cold weather.

N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said it has been a challenging winter for strawberry growers, but the combination of row covers and irrigation set up those growers for an outstanding season.

Several growers in southeastern North Carolina started harvesting in mid-April. Dexter Hill, marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said the peak of the season should arrive around the second week of May.

Piedmont consumers can expect to find the largest supply of berries in the second and third weeks of May. Those in the western part of the state should see berries from the middle of May through the first half of June.

HUSBAND STABBED

Caldwell County woman charged with husband's death

LENOIR, N.C. (AP) - A Caldwell County woman has been arrested and charged with stabbing her husband to death.

Police in Hudson say 58-year-old Danny Harris died after being stabbed Tuesday afternoon.

Fifty-four-year-old Donna Harris has been charged with murder. It was not clear if she has an attorney.

An apartment manager said the couple had moved into the complex last July.

ST AUGUSTINE PRESIDENT

St. Augustine's University chooses interim leader

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The new interim president of St. Augustine's University in Raleigh says he will work to restore faith among the school's students, graduates and faculty.

Fifty-five-year-old Everett Ward was named to the interim post Wednesday.

The St. Augustine's graduate is a former Department of Transportation administrator and state Democratic Party director.

He made a $10,000 donation to the school as he took office that he hopes will be an example to alumni of the financially troubled university.

The school's board of trustees removed Dianne Boardley Suber earlier this month after she said she planned to retire next month.

St. Augustine's faces enrollment declines, administrative turnover, staff reductions and a construction lawsuit.

Two federal agencies are reviewing how the school is handling grants. A regional accrediting agency is reviewing the school's finances.

BARBECUE-MARIJUANA

Gaston County restaurant owner faces drug charges

GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) - Police in Gaston County say a barbecue restaurant was selling more than barbecue to some customers.

The owner of Smokey's BBQ Restaurant was arrested earlier this week on a variety of marijuana-related charges.

Thirty-nine-year-old Donnie Allen Wooten of the Gaston County town of Dallas was one of three people arrested Tuesday.

Police said the investigation started in November after an undercover agent bought 30 pounds of marijuana.

Wooten faces more than two dozen charges. Thirty-five-year-old Michael Gene Huffman of Dallas faces more than 50 charges. Twenty-nine-year-old Tausha Michelle Mixon of Dallas faces seven charges.

Police say they are looking for a fourth suspect.

It was not known if the suspects have attorneys.

ATLANTA TRANSIT OFFICERS

MARTA looks to military bases for police officers

ATLANTA (AP) - Metro Atlanta's public transit system is looking to Detroit and military bases in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia as it attempts to recruit new police officers to its force.

Officials with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority -- known as MARTA in the Atlanta area -- went on recruiting trips last month to Fort Lee in Virginia and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Trips to Detroit in May and to west Georgia's Fort Benning Army base in June are also planned.

The transit system is also offering a $3,000 signing bonus for new officers.

WSB-TV reports that the system has a dozen vacancies on its police force, and the proposed new budget adds an additional 29 officers.

MARTA's police force includes more than 300 sworn positions.

COLUMBUS REPLICA SHIPS

Columbus' ship replicas to dock at Morehead City

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) - Members of the news media can take a look at two replicas of Christopher Columbus' sailing ships in advance of the public taking tours.

The "Pinta" and the "Nina" are scheduled to dock Thursday at the Sanitary Fish Restaurant in Morehead City. They'll remain there until their departure on May 5.

The "Nina" was built by hand. The "Pinta" was recently built in Brazil and is a larger version of the archetypal caravel.

While in port, the general public is invited to visit the ships for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour. Admission charges are $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and $6.00 for students ages 5 to 16. Children aged 4 and under are free.

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