Monday, November 19, 2007

Carolina Journal Weekly Update

Reaction of the Week
RALEIGH — The state’s second highest court rejected attempts by the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources and the Environmental Management Commission to fine a Nash County property owner $7,500 for failure to submit a comprehensive site assessment for a property he had inherited, reports Michael Lowrey for Carolina Journal.In reaching its decision, the N.C. Court of Appeals found the landowner was not responsible for the contamination on the property and questioned the department’s handling of the matter.A.J. Lancaster Sr. owned and operated a convenience store in Nash County. As part of his business, he sold gasoline, which was kept, as is customary, in underground storage tanks. Groundwater contamination at nearby well sites was detected in tests conducted by Nash County and DENR officials in 1989 and 1991. DENR officials suspected the leak was coming from Lancaster’s tanks and in early 1991 demanded that Lancaster immediately correct the situation. He did not respond to the agency before he died in November 1991.A.J. Lancaster Jr. inherited the property and continued to use the tanks. In 1993, he was informed of new technical requirements for underground storage tanks. After studying the cost of upgrading the tanks, he decided it made more financial sense to have them removed. This was done in late December 1993. Contamination was discovered at that time and 225 cubic yards of soil near the tanks was removed and properly disposed of. He was not alerted by DENR to the possibility of groundwater contamination at the time.

News Features
CJ: State agency, university deny records requests
RALEIGH — The North Carolina Climate Action Plan Advisory Group proclaims its commitment to “transparency,” but when asked by Carolina Journal to provide data and analysis by its consultant, the state-appointed panel had little information to offer.

CJ: Water is emotional, especially when scarceGREENSBORO — Water is a very emotional subject for a lot of people,” N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources section chief Tom Fransen said in July. A battle brewing in Guilford County over water, land, and suburban development confirms Fransen’s words.

CJ: Court rules for widow in tax caseRALEIGH — The N.C. Court of Appeals rejected an attempt by Henderson County officials to collect back taxes, penalties, and interest from a widow after they failed to assess property taxes on her house for a decade. The decision by the state’s second highest court might not be the last word in the matter, however, because the N.C. Supreme Court must take the case if the county appeals the ruling.

Black’s son bid high but got jobsRALEIGH — A company owned by the son of former House Speaker Jim Black won contracts to provide pest control at the state’s newest three prisons, although competing bidders offered to do the work at less than half of Black’s price. Black Pest Control was paid $124,000 for prison construction projects in Bertie and Greene counties, although a business in Stafford, Va., bid $42,000 on the same work.

Charter school loophole urgedRALEIGH — Facing flak from parents who want more charter schools and public school supporters who hate the idea, a blue-ribbon commission is borrowing a page from the playbook that agents and general managers use to skirt the salary limits in professional sports.

Upcoming Events
Monday, November 19, 2007 at 12:00 NoonA meeting of the Shaftesbury Societywith our special guest Dr. Michael SaneraReflections on Environmental Journalism based on attending the Society for Environmental Journalists National Convention

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at NoonSpecial Wednesday Shaftesburywith our special guest Dr. Richard BrakeFailing Our Students, Failing America: Holding Colleges Accountable for Teaching America’s History and Institutions

Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.4th Annual Evening of Holiday Cheerwith Our Very Special Musical GuestsA Little Night Music

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