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

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Former Lenoir employee accused of stealing $100k

LENOIR, N.C. (AP) - A former city of Lenoir employee has been charged with embezzling more than $100,000.

Forty-eight-year-old Sherry Lynn Phillips Nichols of Lenoir has been charged with one felony count of larceny by an employee.

Lenoir police say Nichols was charged after officers received a report about an employee stealing money.

She had worked as a customer service representative at Blue Ridge Cemetery in Lenoir.

Capt. Couby Stilwell says the embezzlement occurred over about a year and a half. Stilwell says Nichols had been an employee of the city since 2005.

It was not clear if she has an attorney.

Police say no customer who bought a plot in the cemetery has lost money.


Wilmington attorney to head NC ports board

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) - Gov. Pat McCrory has named Wilmington attorney Michael Lee as the new chairman of the North Carolina State Ports Authority.

Lee is also on the board of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. He replaces Danny McComas who recently resigned from the ports board.

Lee is a Republican who is running for the state Senate. He says he will resign from both boards if elected.

The governor on Tuesday also appointed Holly Grange of New Hanover County to the port board.


9 indicted in kidnapping of NC prosecutor's father

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Authorities say a group of kidnappers thought they were abducting an assistant district attorney when they pulled up to a North Carolina house earlier this month.

But they had the wrong address and the prosecutor's father answered the door, so they kidnapped him instead. For five days, the FBI says kidnappers held 63-year-old Frank Janssen captive in an Atlanta apartment. They tormented his family by sending text messages threatening to cut him into pieces if police were called or their demands weren't met.

On Tuesday, an indictment charged nine people in Janssen's abduction, including 49-year-old Bloods gang member Kelvin Melton. Authorities say Melton orchestrated the kidnapping from his North Carolina prison cell in retaliation for being prosecuted in 2012 by Janssen's daughter, Wake Forest assistant district attorney Colleen Janssen.


Florida woman denied flight in NC with oxygen tank

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A Florida woman says an airline worker at a North Carolina airport refused her to allow her to fly home with an oxygen tank because she did not have the proper paperwork.

Seventy-eight-year-old Jane Graham-Bailey of Jensen Beach, Fla., told the Asheville Citizen-Times she hoped to board a flight in Asheville to go home in time for an Easter dinner with her family, after visiting her daughter in North Carolina.

Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said Graham-Bailey was denied passage because she did not have a required physician consent form for the oxygen tank. Wheeler says the airline's rules are based on FAA regulations.

Graham-Bailey said no one asked for paperwork when she flew from Florida to North Carolina. She plans to fly home Sunday from a Tennessee airport.


Second Republican NC Senate debate is Wednesday

DAVIDSON, N.C. (AP) - The four leading candidates for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in North Carolina are back on television for a second straight night.

Thom Tillis, Mark Harris, Heather Grant and Greg Brannon were slated to participate in a debate Wednesday night at the WRAL-TV studios in Raleigh. They attended a TV debate Tuesday night on the Davidson College campus, aired by Time Warner Cable News.

There are eight GOP candidates in all who want to take on Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan in November. The primary is May 6 and in-person early voting begins Thursday.

Tuesday's debate featured Tillis highlighting his legislative record as the state House speaker. The four agreed often in responses to questions, although Brannon tried to differentiate himself from Tillis.


2 red wolf pups in SC named for Colbert, Jewell

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Two wolf pups born earlier this month in South Carolina have been named for comedian Stephen Colbert (kohl-BEHR') and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The State newspaper reported that managers at the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in Charleston County said the pups are expected to go on public display in several weeks.

"Colbert" and "Jewell" were among six pups born April 8 at the Sewee Visitors Center. One was stillborn and a second died shortly after birth.

The two other pups have been taken to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.

Project leader Raye Nilius says Secretary Jewell visited Cape Romain in November. Colbert is a Charleston native who has a show on Comedy Central and will replace David Letterman on CBS next year.


Price to attend celebration of RDU Terminal 1

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (AP) - U.S. Rep. David Price is scheduled to attend a formal ceremony mark the reopening of the refurbished Terminal 1 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The celebration is scheduled for Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in the ticketing area.

Raleigh-Durham CEO and president Mike Landguth is also scheduled to attend the ceremony.

Terminal 1 was known as Terminal A when it opened in 1982. For years, it was the airport's main terminal, serving all airlines except American and the now-defunct Midway. It now houses only Southwest Airlines and its subsidiary AirTran.


Reynolds American 1Q profit falls more than 28 pct

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Reynolds American Inc. says its first-quarter profit fell more than 28 percent as the company experienced lower cigarette sales and higher spending on its electronic cigarettes and legal costs.

The nation's second-biggest tobacco company said Wednesday it earned $363 million, or 67 cents per share, for the quarter ended March. 31. That's down from $508 million, or 92 cents per share, a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings were 72 cents per share, missing Wall Street estimates by 2 cents.

The Winston-Salem, N.C., maker of Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes said revenue excluding excise taxes increased nearly 3 percent to $1.93 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $1.91 billion.

Its R.J. Reynolds Tobacco subsidiary sold about 4 percent fewer cigarettes. But the Camel and Pall Mall brands both gained market share.

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