Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Year in review: Berger arrest, county clerk dismissal top government headlines

Brian Berger’s legal troubles continued to grab headlines in 2014, but the now-former New Hanover County commissioner wasn’t the only news in politics and government over the past 12 months.

Two fellow commissioners, Jonathan Barfield and Woody White, tried unsuccessfully to defeat David Rouzer in his campaign to represent the state’s 7th Congressional District. And the man who he replaced, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, called an end to an 18-year run representing the district.

But plenty of other news came out of town and city halls and area county commission chambers. Here us a look at the top five government and politics stories for 2014, determined by readership and community impact:

Commissioner Berger arrested, found in possession of firearms (June 10)

Berger's mugshot after his arrest in Avery County.
Berger’s mugshot after his arrest in Avery County.

New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger was arrested Tuesday in Avery County on charges of violating his probation and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Berger was arrested after police in the Town of Beech Mountain investigated him after responding to a call of shots fired early Monday evening near a home where Berger was staying.

Beech Mountain Police Chief Jerry Turbyfill said Berger, who was not known to police at the time of the call, refused to unlock the door of the home when an officer asked him to do so. Without evidence that Berger had fired a gun, Turbyfill said the officer gave him a warning and left, but investigated him afterward due to his suspicious behavior.

By the time the department had verified Berger’s previous charges in New Hanover County, Turbyfill said Berger had since become wanted for absconding, a violation of the terms of his probation.

“We had absolutely no idea that he was a commissioner,” Turbyfill said.

Click here to read the full story.

Ousted county clerk responds to her dismissal (July 24)

Sheila Schult submitted her resignation Monday as New Hanover County clerk at the request of a majority of the board of commissioners. File photo.
Sheila Schult submitted her resignation as New Hanover County clerk at the request of a majority of the board of commissioners. File photo.

Three days after her abrupt resignation at the request of a majority of the board of commissioners, dismissed New Hanover County clerk Sheila Schult says she still does not know why she was asked to resign, noting her most recent evaluation was positive.

Reached Wednesday at her home, Schult said she believes information about her dismissal could see the light of day, but she declined to go into specifics about why she believes she was asked to resign.

“I think it’s going to come out probably sooner rather than later. But at this point, I’m not ready to go on-record,” Schult said.

“I’ve had an outpouring of love, support, emails, texts, phone calls and everything else,” she said. “People that know me know me, and they know the job that I do. So it’s just hogwash whatever gets spewed out of the mouth of politicians. The whole job is political, and I really don’t want to say more at this point.”

Click here to read the full story.

McIntyre to retire at end of term (Jan. 8)

U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.
U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.

After nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and one very close election, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre is retiring at the end of this term.

The Lumberton Democrat announced today he would not seek a 10th term representing North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, which has changed significantly following his first victory in 1996.

“In eastern North Carolina, we have demonstrated that public service is a partnership between the people and the representative they entrust to speak on their behalf,” McIntyre said. “For us, this has been where the priorities of policy over politics, issues over ideology, dialogue over dollars, and cooperation over campaigning have prevailed.

“Having answered the call entrusted through this partnership, I will be retiring from the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of this term,” McIntyre said.

Click here to read the full story.

General Assembly adjourns; no action taken on film credit tweak, historic preservation (Aug. 21)

The N.C. State Legislative Building on Jones Street in Raleigh. Source: N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
The N.C. State Legislative Building on Jones Street in Raleigh. Source: N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Seven weeks after legislators said they planned to do so, this year’s “short session” of the General Assembly adjourned Wednesday night with some issues resolved, others not so much.

A bill regarding coal ash impoundment regulations was ratified, but the Senate did not take up a proposed tweak to the state’s film credit program, referring that to committee instead.

Other issues not addressed include the state’s historic preservation tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of this year, and economic development proposals that did not pass the House earlier this week.

Click here to read the full story.

Voters approve schools, transportation bonds (Nov. 4)

Residents attend a transportation bond meeting last week at Parsley Elementary School. Photo courtesy City of Wilmington.
Residents attend a transportation bond meeting at Parsley Elementary School. Photo courtesy City of Wilmington.

New Hanover County voters have pushed forward $160 million in local school district construction and renovation projects.

The district’s education bond referendum was approved Tuesday night with 63.8 percent of the vote.

The passage of the bond means 14 projects designated as high priority by local school officials will now get the green light.

…With the passage of a transportation bond Tuesday night, the City of Wilmington will see $55 million in street and sidewalk improvements.

Approximately 65 percent of voters within city limits approved the referendum, in which Wilmington will now assume $44 million in debt to help pay for the projects, which include area road improvements, crosswalks and walking trails.

Click here to read the full story.

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