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News State / Region

N.C. one of only two states to charge 16- and 17-year-olds as adults

This past Tuesday morning, Rep. Marilyn Avila (R-Wake) announced the introduction of HB399, the Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act. This legislation would raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction, so that 16- and 17-year-olds who commit misdemeanors are handled in the juvenile system, not the adult criminal justice system. According to Rep. Avila, the lead bill sponsor, ‘raising the age’ is a win for our families, communities, and state finances.

“Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction will lead to both significant fiscal savings, safer communities, and much better outcomes for children,” stated Rep. Avila. “That’s why a strong bipartisan majority of House members voted to approve the bill last year.”

During the 2013-2014 legislative session, “Raise the Age” legislation overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives, but failed to receive a hearing in the Senate.

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Western Carolina University is the recipient of $50,000 in funding from the University of North Carolina General Administration to create a program designed to help former college students who didn’t finish their bachelor’s degrees go back to school.

The funding through UNC General Administration’s Office of Academic and Student Success will be used for the planning and implementation of a WCU initiative named the Finish Line. The UNC system allocated a total of $320,000 to fund targeted efforts at UNC campuses to recruit, enroll and retain the students.

The program is for people living in North Carolina who attended a U.S. college or university in the past, but left without earning a diploma. In the UNC system, these former students are known as “part-way home” because they have completed part of their undergraduate studies but, for a variety of reasons, did not make it to graduation.

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Harvey Gantt, an architect and civil rights activist who formerly served as mayor of Charlotte and was a candidate for the U.S. Senate, will be the keynote speaker for a daylong symposium at Western Carolina University – “North Carolina in Dialogue: Our Past, Present and Future.”

Set for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, April 10, the interdisciplinary symposium will provide a platform for the public and WCU’s students, faculty and staff to learn from a lineup of distinguished scholars and public activists and intellectuals who will offer perspectives on North Carolina’s history, politics and culture, said Rob Ferguson, an assistant professor in WCU’s Department of History who co-organized the event with Chris Cooper, head of WCU’s Department of Political Science and Public Affairs.

“Our hope is that we have brought together a wide array of scholars and activists who can offer thoughtful and compelling perspectives on our state,” Ferguson said. “Perhaps more importantly, we want the audience to engage the panelists and each other in productive dialogue regarding the future of North Carolina.”

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Warmer weather across North Carolina means an increase in activity along highways, both in terms of travelers and the number of N.C. Department of Transportation projects to improve our roads and bridges. That means it is even more important for drivers to pay attention and be careful while on those roads. That is especially in work zones, and as a reminder to motorists it is National Work Zone Awareness Week through Friday, March 27.

In 2014, more than 4,000 crashes occurred in work zones, killing 22 people and injuring almost 2,000. The National Work Zone Awareness Week campaign aims at preventing work zone fatalities and accidents by encouraging safe driving through highway work zones and construction sites.

And it is not just for the safety of the workers out on the roads.

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