Commissioner: Behind-the-scenes research on hospital sale happened months before public informed

One day after a divided New Hanover County commission voted in favor of an “intent to sell” resolution for the county-owned hospital, WECT is learning more about behind-the-scenes dealings that were apparently going on for months before the public was made aware of the possible sale.

  Chemours releases new plan to reduce PFAS in the Cape Fear River

  Cautionary tales from other markets as county considers sale of NHRMC

  Wilmington company under investigation by Attorney General appears out of business

  Still no law requiring fingerprint background checks for teachers in N.C. public schools

  State walks-back classifying Cape Fear River as swamp, city looks to continue water quality improvement effort

  Former NHCS employee had history of alleged violent sexual assaults against women before he was hired

Continued Coverage

  Measure of Hate documentary explores the undercounting of crimes in America

Abuse of Power: WECT Investigates risks seniors face with powers of attorney

  New details after mayor’s son walks free in child porn plea deal

  Watching Your Wallet: Decade-by-decade, experts help you save for retirement

  WECT Investigates: Knowing your daycare

  Chemours to fund soil sampling in several counties

  New Hanover school employees that are fired, even convicted of felonies, still eligible for retirement benefits

It does not matter if an employee is convicted of a felony that isn't related to their work. A teacher could traffic heroin, burn down a house, or even commit murder -- if the crime isn't directly related to their job, then it doesn't affect benefits.

  Fake Filters? Companies falsely claim to have prestigious water safety certification

With water quality and safety concerns across the country, many families are turning to water filters. But there are counterfeit filters and filters carrying fake certification marks.

  WECT Investigates: Judge’s order blocks man from filing ‘frivolous’ lawsuits

Calvin Norton has sued local officials so many times in lawsuits deemed “frivolous” by a judge, that he has effectively had his right to sue in state court revoked. But that hasn’t stopped the Columbus County man.

  Untested Waters: Feds take small steps toward inspecting more seafood

The FDA has a new strategy for imported food safety, and Congress has increased seafood inspection funds. But the U.S. still lags behind some other countries when it comes to inspections and regulations.

  Attorneys exploring evidence for civil suit following teacher sex crime scandal

  NC compost rules are up for re-adoption, no mention of PFAS

  WECT Investigates: Oak Island property owners battle town over flooding issues

Watching Your Wallet: Experts say to shop around for the best deals on car insurance and cell phone plans

  Hope and a plan: Bladen County looks to repair White Oak Dike

  Criminal investigation underway into Kelly’s claim schools knew about suspected sex crimes against students

  Bogus applications plaguing NC college campuses, pose security risk

It appears that many of these bogus applications are not coming from real people, but bad actors in other countries making up fake identities. They are using those fake names to pose as college applicants, hoping to be issued a student email account.

Latest test results show spike in PFAS level in Cape Fear River

Raw water sampled June 3 showed total PFAS at 262 parts per trillion (ppt).

  Columbus County manager accused of sexual harassment by employee

According to the timeline provided by Bowen in a letter to commissioners, she had a series of disturbing interactions involving County Manager Mike Stephens that she says began in January of this year.

  Why alligators with orange heads are showing up around the Cape Fear region

If you take a walk around Greenfield Lake, or any spot alligators tend to frequent in the Cape Fear, you may notice many have orange markings on their heads.

  City spends $500K to settle lawsuit after questionable arrest on child rape allegations

The criminal charges against James Bader were leveled in the midst of a bitter child custody battle, and were later dismissed due to lack of evidence to warrant prosecution.

  Two years later, where do we stand on GenX?

It has been two years since news broke of GenX found in the drinking water. This unknown contaminant sparked fear and outrage across the Cape Fear. Two years, countless meetings, protests, water samples, and lawsuits later, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says the water is far safer to drink

  WECT Investigates: Medicaid and ER visits — a look at expenses, expansion

As lawmakers battle over the state budget in Raleigh, arguably the biggest sticking point between the two political parties is Medicaid expansion.

  State elections board issues order in Columbus County Sheriff dispute, parties plan appeals

The North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) has formally issued its findings in the case of the disputed sheriff election in Columbus County.

  Prison administrator’s ‘inaccurate’ documentation increased risk for vehicle misuse, audit finds

A state prison administrator racked up at least 2,800 unaccounted miles during a three-year period, paving the way for potential misuse, a report released by North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood on Tuesday found.

Watching Your Wallet: Spring housing market secrets revealed

Want to get top dollar for your home this spring? Or are you looking to buy your first home? NerdWallet gives tips for those on both sides of the equation.

  WECT Investigates: Allegations of mismanagement renewed as Yahweh Center bankruptcy case continues

More than two and a half years after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the Yahweh Center Children’s Village is still mired in litigation, and court documents indicate the mismanagement of the nonprofit’s finances may have been going on for decades.

More filters targeting PFAS part of CFPUA’s 10-year capital improvement plan

The addition of eight filters to remove man-made chemical compounds in the water at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant is part of the 10-year capital improvement plan approved by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board on Wednesday.

State officials require towns to monitor emerging compounds in Cape Fear River Basin

As part of its strategy to address compounds in surface water and biosolids, state environmental officials are requiring towns in the Cape Fear River Basin to monitor emerging compounds beginning this summer.

  DNA Detectives: Scientists combining forensics with genealogy break ‘unsolvable’ cases

Scientists are using forensic genetics to help solve decades-old cold cases.

  Election deception: WECT Investigates spillover of absentee ballot irregularities in Columbus County

The ties between Bladen and Columbus counties run deep, and in 2018, they shared the symptoms of absentee ballot irregularities.

  Industry experts concerned with local handyman’s work: ‘He could potentially kill someone’

Officials are concerned that a man repairing chimneys in and around Wilmington is doing dangerous modifications, and putting people at risk. The handyman posted dozens of videos of his repair work online the president of a nationwide chimney sweep group says the work is so faulty it's dangerous.

  Town of Belville appeals judge’s decision on H2GO

Commissioners voted 3-2 at a meeting Monday night to appeal Superior Court Judge Charles Henry’s decision that the previous H2GO Board of Commissioners’ decision to dissolve the authority and convey its assets to the Town of Belville is “unlawful, void and of no effect.”

  Failed and Forgotten

The deaths of hundreds of children because of abuse or neglect goes unnoticed every year by agencies that protect kids. Congress and a 45-year-old law are largely to blame.

  A trifecta of failures puts kids at risk

When children die because of abuse or neglect, child protection agencies are often blamed – they are underfunded and overworked. But there are many other culprits who failed children.

  Digital rollbacks: Millions of cars have false mileage on odometers

Carfax experts say there are potentially more than one million cars on the roads with false odometer readings - meaning their mileage has been rolled back to make the vehicles look like they have less wear and tear.

  Utility documents list acting sheriff’s purported residence as commercial account with cow barn

Documents subpoenaed from Duke Energy shed new light on concerns that acting Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene may not have lived in the county prior to his election as required by state law. The documents also indicate there has been an address change on the account.

Attorney issues statement on class action lawsuit against Chemours

According to Ted Leopold, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, the federal judge’s move is another step in the right direction.

  Drain on the system: Stormwater infrastructure in focus in the wake of Florence

As development continues, the stormwater system will be subjected to greater and greater pressure, and experts say the importance of intentional management will have long-term effects on both the environment and quality of life for city residents.

  CFPUA welcomes newly introduced Gen X-related bill

CFPUA is welcoming Senate Bill 518, a newly introduced piece of legislation that would set new standards for Gen X and other similar compounds in the state’s water supply.

Proposed Gen X-related bill would target Chemours, form task force

Ambitious new legislation would set new standards for Gen X and other similar compounds in the state’s water supply.

No PFAS found in drinking water at CFPUA plant but some detected in three wells

On March 27, CFPUA sampled finished water at three wells — two serving the plant and an emergency well that doesn't provide drinking water — in an effort to monitor potential movement of PFAS compounds that have been detected in and near an aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) well.

Watching Your Wallet: Experts give advice on reining in your tax refund

Rather than taking a tax refund check and splurging on a quick shopping spree, NerdWallet advises people make smart spending – or saving - plans.

  Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen approve conditions of water agreement with CFPUA

The agreement calls for CFPUA to provide as much as 45 million gallons of water to the town each year to supplement its regular groundwater supply.

  Wrightsville Beach races to supplement water supply before summer rush after contaminated well shut down

One of Wrightsville Beach's most productive water wells has been shut down since January because of chemical contamination.

CFPUA staff gets OK to move forward with Sweeney Plant upgrades

The CFPUA board unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday that authorizes Executive Director Jim Flechtner to complete design and permitting for the project as well as obtain bond funding and construction bids.

  Another deputy seeking back pay from Columbus Co., says acting sheriff didn’t have authority to fire him

“It is Mr. Campbell’s position that, due to the N.C. State Board of Elections position that Mr. Green’s [sic] election was never certified, Mr. Green was without legal or actual authority to either demote or terminate Mr. Campbell.”

Charter school group to withdraw application for new Pender County school

State officials confirmed they have received word the application will be withdrawn.

  Undercounting hate: FBI will not report its hate crime numbers again this year as required by law

The Uniform Crime Reporting Act of 1988 requires federal law enforcement agencies to submit information about their cases to a federal database maintained by the FBI; however, those agencies are currently not submitting data, including information about hate crimes.

  A year later, slow movement at Independence Mall

A year later, there are only limited signs of progress for the makeover of Independence Mall.

  Acting sheriff fired deputies despite uncertain election results

In the midst of unprecedented confusion in Columbus County over who should be serving as sheriff, some deputies have been terminated from their job. While North Carolina law generally gives sheriffs broad latitude to fire at will, pending legal challenges bring the recent firings under scrutiny.

  CFPUA’s application for $46M grant denied by state

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority wanted the money to pay for new granular activated carbon (GAC) filters meant to filter GenX and other PFAS compounds out of drinking water.

  Failure to Protect: Citizens demand answers regarding White Oak Dike

Exactly six months after the White Oak Dike breached and sent floodwaters spilling into the community of Kelly, the small community’s residents took their local elected officials to task.

  Search continues for Holden Beach woman reported missing on Friday

Capt. J. Dixon with the Holden Beach Police Department said in an email Tuesday afternoon that the investigation into Judy Brock’s disappearance is ongoing.

  Reverse osmosis filtering system working at NHC landfill

New Hanover County is filtering out per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) at its landfill, according to sampling results from the NC Department of Environmental Quality.

  Protecting your voice: Restoring voter confidence in the wake of election fraud

After election fraud put the national spotlight on Southeastern North Carolina, WECT Investigates took a look at how other Cape Fear area counties fared in 2018.

  Watching Your Wallet: Thousands of consumer complaints hidden in federal watchdog database

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides information about financial institutions, including complaints. But NerdWallet and InvestigateTV have found examples of complaints that don't show up in the database.

Permit issued for Chemours to install oxidizer aimed at reducing PFAS air emissions

The permit incorporates the requirements of a consent order signed Feb. 25 to install the oxidizer by Dec. 31 and reduce all PFAS emissions by 99 percent beyond the 2017 baseline.

  Case involving inmate’s amputated penis among lawsuits filed against county

WECT has uncovered millions of dollars in additional payouts by New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington to settle lawsuits and claims, raising the grand total spent by local governments to at least $16.6 million.

CFPUA sees spike in 1,4-dioxane levels in water from Cape Fear River

Results released this week show 1,4-dioxane of 1.8 parts per billion (ppb) in raw water on Feb. 13 and 0.54 ppb in the finished water treated at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant on Feb. 14.

  Federal investigators issue subpoenas in NC-9 investigation

The Department of Justice has issued subpoenas for a federal grand jury investigation into allegations of election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

  City, county, schools spent $9 million settling lawsuits over 5+ years

While some agencies went to great lengths to comply, an attorney for New Hanover County strategized with her colleagues about minimizing what they’d provide in response to our request. Some claimants were also ordered not to talk to the media about the terms of the settlement funded by taxpayers.

  New Hanover Co. school system one of few in the state to have attorney on staff

WECT has learned that most NC school districts, even some of the largest ones, opt to contract with outside attorneys on an as-needed basis rather than hire an attorney to serve on staff. While some feel the in-house attorney is an asset, others said they think it's an obstacle.

  Wilmington hibachi restaurant shut down over low inspection grade

A Hibachi restaurant in Wilmington was closed indefinitely last week and its permit revoked after county health inspectors found nearly 30 violations at the business.

Original copies of 1898 black-owned newspaper rediscovered

A significant part of Wilmington’s black history has been rediscovered by a New York Times Magazine writer, some Wilmington students and a researcher.

Documents: Slaughterhouse union officers spent funds on all-inclusive vacation, trip to SeaWorld

The former two top officers of the union representing thousands of workers at Smithfield Foods siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds for personal use.

Court approves order to stop PFAS from entering Cape Fear River

A judge has approved a consent order requiring Chemours to do more to protect drinking water for residents in southeastern North Carolina.

State records contradict sheriff’s candidate’s address history

Documents unearthed through a subpoena appear to show contradictory information about when Columbus County Sheriff candidate Jody Greene lived in that county. Greene's residency is the subject of an ongoing challenge to his legal eligibility to serve as sheriff.

  Cold hold: Despite years of notice, 40 percent of SENC restaurants violated stricter refrigeration rule

This four-degree difference applies to restaurants, cafés, school cafeterias, grocery stores, gas stations, caterers, hotels, and any other type of food service facility requiring health department inspection.

CFPUA praises Chemours’ requirements in revised consent order; will reconsider pending legal action

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is reconsidering its motion against Chemours after the chemical company filed a revised legal agreement with the state Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday.

  Chemours agrees to analyze Cape Fear River sediment in updated legal agreement with DEQ, Cape Fear River Watch

The updated agreement will now require Chemours to report monthly GenX air emissions, analyze PFAS buildup in river sediment, and provide filtration systems in certain public buildings for drinking water fountains and maintain them for 20 years.

  NCDEQ holds public hearing on Chemours in Bladen County

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality will hold a public meeting and hearing Monday on a draft air permit for Chemours to install and operate a thermal oxidizer/scrubber system for emission control at their Fayetteville Works Facility.

  Watching Your Wallet: Experts explain the new tax code in simple terms

With sweeping tax code changes affecting this year's filings, experts from NerdWallet help explain how the changes will work for different people.

  Hate crimes in the Cape Fear: How local trends compare to national trends

Hate crimes across the country have increased by 17 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the FBI. Locally, though, the Cape Fear area hasn’t seen the same trend. Numbers have consistently fluctuated between seven to nine incidents each year.