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Friday Forward News Roundup

Vice President Harris Announces Funding for School Mental Health in Response to Gun Violence

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Charlotte's Eastway Middle School, discussing the impact of gun violence on students and the need for mental health services. Harris emphasized the importance of creating safe spaces in schools and highlighted the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, providing $285 million nationwide for additional mental health counselors, with North Carolina receiving $12 million for 332 more counselors. The visit comes in the wake of recent gun violence incidents in Charlotte, with students and officials addressing the urgent need for support and resources. (WUNC)


North Carolina Records 33 Incidents of Mass Shootings in 2023, Marking a Disturbing Increase

In 2023, North Carolina witnessed a significant rise in mass shootings, with 33 incidents reported—surpassing previous years' figures. Nationally, the Gun Violence Archive recorded 656 mass shootings during the year, with 712 victims killed and 2,692 injured. The state's toll of 151 people killed or injured reflects a concerning escalation from the 2022 count of 104 and the 2021 count of 98 victims. (Axios Raleigh)

Durham Secures $4.86 Million Federal Grant for 20 High-Speed Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Durham has been awarded a federal grant of $4.86 million to construct 20 high-speed charging stations for electric vehicles. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that the initiative is part of a national effort to establish "alternative fuel corridors" for both supply-chain trucks and personal vehicles, supporting the Biden administration's goal of having half of all cars and trucks on the roads be electric by 2030. The strategically chosen locations aim to serve travelers along major highways and promote electric vehicle adoption in underserved communities. (WRAL)


North Carolina Allocates Nearly $27 Million for 114 Electric School Buses to Enhance Student Health and Reduce Emissions

Governor Roy Cooper has announced the distribution of almost $27 million in federal funds to 15 school districts, charter schools, and tribal schools in North Carolina for the acquisition of 114 electric buses through the EPA's Clean School Bus Grant Program. The initiative aims to protect students from diesel fumes, reduce carbon emissions, cut maintenance costs, and create employment opportunities. With a focus on low-income, rural, and tribal communities, the buses will benefit over 300,000 students in 13 counties, contributing to the state's commitment to environmental sustainability and student well-being. (Indy Week)


Charlotte Initiates 537-Acre Solar Farm Project in Davidson County to Advance Climate Goals

The City of Charlotte has approved a contract for the South Davidson Solar Project, a 537-acre solar farm in Denton, North Carolina, as part of its Strategic Energy Action Plan. Construction is set to begin in the fall of next year, with the aim of providing clean energy for the city and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. The project aligns with Charlotte's goal of making all city-owned buildings 100% zero carbon emissions by 2030 and is expected to have a greenhouse gas reduction benefit equivalent to taking about 24,000 cars off the road annually. (WCNC)

Wake County Considers Nearly $100 Million Bond Referendum for Library Upgrades

Wake County commissioners are reviewing a potential $94 million bond referendum for the fall ballot, aiming to enhance and renovate libraries, including the construction of a new library in Rolesville. The proposal also includes replacing libraries in Wendell and southwest Raleigh's Athens Drive, significant upgrades to the Library Administration building, and renovations to multiple existing libraries. Rolesville's new library, contingent on bond success, would improve the 10-minute drive accessibility to 87%, and additional requests for new libraries may expand the bond to $121.7 million. The last library bond was approved in 2007 for various library projects in the county. (News & Observer)

North Carolina House Committee Explores Reforms for Homeowners' Associations Amidst Rising Concerns

A state House committee in North Carolina has convened to address grievances about homeowners' associations (HOAs) and discuss potential reforms during the upcoming legislative session. With bipartisan proposals failing in the 2023 session, a study committee was formed to investigate the issues raised by HOA members. Concerns include the lack of oversight, transparency, and challenges faced by homeowners in obtaining necessary documents. Proposals for reform range from establishing state-level oversight to addressing liens placed on properties for unpaid fines or dues, with discussions ongoing on the best approach for effective oversight and notification requirements. (CBS 17)

Buncombe County Living Wage Jumps to $22.10 an Hour in 2024, Reflecting Soaring Housing Costs

Just Economics of Western North Carolina has announced a significant increase in Buncombe County's living wage, now set at $22.10 an hour or about $45,968 annually before taxes. The living wage rate, representing a 9% increase, is designed to allow a single person working full-time to afford a one-bedroom apartment in the county, considering the rising housing costs. The change reflects the substantial increase in home prices in Buncombe County, reaching record median prices in 2023. Just Economics will also introduce a new certification for Living Wage Pledged employers, offering an alternative to the higher tier for employers committed to annual pay rate increases. (Citizen Times)



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