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State Government
More Hurricane Florence Relief Made Available PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 25 April 2019 13:48
More families will soon be able to return home while they work to rebuild from Hurricane Florence thanks to an extension of a program to provide partial housing repairs.
The original Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program implemented with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wrapped up in early April with repairs completed on more than 2,100 homes. Using state funds, North Carolina is extending the program to 202 additional single-family homes in 12 counties. The program provides partial repairs at no cost to homeowners so Hurricane Florence survivors can return to and remain in their homes while longer-term repairs continue. 
“People want to be able to live in their own homes while they work to recover from Hurricane Florence,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “We’ve expanded this program to make it possible for more North Carolina families to get home faster.” 
The original STEP program provided repairs to homes with up to $17,000 in damage. The 202 homes included in the second phase of STEP applied for the original program but had slightly more damage. North Carolina Emergency Management stepped in using state funds to include these additional homes.
Work crews from Baptists on Mission, the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and four general contracting companies are currently making repairs to the 202 homes in Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Robeson counties.
Hurricane Florence survivors who still face long-term housing issues are urged to participate in the Disaster Case Management program. The state has contracted with experienced case managers who will work in conjunction with faith-based and volunteer organizations to help meet survivors’ needs.
To connect with a disaster case manager, Hurricane Florence survivors can email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call one of two regional offices listed below:
•    Residents of Anson, Bladen, Brunswick, Chatham, Columbus, Cumberland, Durham, Guilford, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Moore, New Hanover, Orange, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Union counties should call the Fayetteville office at 910-672-6175
•    Residents of Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Wayne and Wilson counties should call the Jacksonville office at 910-378-4913
There are additional state and federal programs which are either underway or awaiting funding to assist Hurricane Florence survivors. FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program helps eligible homeowners and local governments to rebuild, elevate or buy out flooded properties.
North Carolina is waiting for notification from Washington on another major program that will help with Hurricane Florence housing recovery, the federal Community Development Block Grant−Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In October 2018, Congress passed legislation appropriating CDBG-DR funds for Florence and several other natural disasters, but North Carolina does not yet know what share of the funds it will receive or the rules for using those funds to help with long-term recovery.
The state Department of Health and Human Services is also assisting hurricane survivors with housing solutions through its Back@Home NC program. The initiative assists families who were not eligible for FEMA assistance to transition to safe and stable housing. To date, more than 200 families have moved to permanent housing through the program. 
Kelli R. Brown Named Chancellor Of Western Carolina PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Donna Martinez   
Thursday, 25 April 2019 08:59

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors elected Dr. Kelli R. Brown as the new chancellor of Western Carolina University during a special session of the Board held today. Dr. Brown will assume her new duties on July 1, 2019. 

“On behalf of the Board of Governors, I am thrilled to announce the selection of Dr. Kelli R. Brown to lead WCU into the future,” UNC Board of Governors Chair Harry L. Smith, Jr. said. “Western Carolina has seen tremendous growth, particularly now as an NC Promise institution. Now, under Dr. Brown’s leadership, it is poised to see even greater success.”

Brown was selected by UNC System Interim President Bill Roper for approval by the Board of Governors from among three final candidates for the position. These finalists were chosen by a 21-person search committeemade up of members from the WCU Board of Trustees along with various stakeholders from WCU, the community, and the region.

“Western Carolina deserves a chancellor with a keen focus on student and faculty success, and Dr. Brown has demonstrated that focus throughout her esteemed academic career,” said Dr. Roper. “I welcome her to the UNC System and look forward to working with Dr. Brown in her new role.”

Brown will succeed WCU’s Chancellor David O. Belcher, who passed away in June 2018 following a two-year battle with brain cancer. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, has been serving as interim chancellor.

Patricia B. Kaemmerling, chair of the WCU Board of Trustees and co-chair of the university’s chancellor search committee, said that Brown emerged as a finalist during a national search that included opportunity for public input from all of Western Carolina University’s various constituencies and fellow members of the Board of Trustees.

“Dr. Brown distinguished herself as a top candidate in what I would characterize as an extremely deep pool of exceptionally well-qualified potential leaders for our university,” Kaemmerling said. “In addition to her considerable senior leadership experience in academic affairs, Dr. Brown served as interim president of Valdosta State University for much of 2016. I am pleased at the decision by the Board of Governors, and we all look forward to working with our 12th chancellor – and our first permanent female CEO – to build upon the strong foundation in place at WCU.”

Brown most recently served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Georgia College & State University, Georgia’s public liberal arts institution, and has more than 30 years of higher education experience.

“Being selected as the 12th chancellor of this incredible institution is the opportunity of a lifetime. I am impressed by the university’s passionate focus on student success and its ongoing commitment to access while also delivering the absolute highest quality education,” Brown said. “I am inspired by WCU’s efforts to prepare students for life through experiential education and career preparation – especially students from the western region that this university was founded to serve.”

AboutKelli R. Brown, Ph.D.

Kelli R. Brownwill become Western Carolina University’s 12th permanent chancellor on July 1, 2019, after having served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Georgia College & State University, Georgia’s public liberal arts institution.

At Georgia College, she has led faculty and student success initiatives, including revitalizing a Center for Student Success, centralizing academic advising and increasing the four-year graduation rate by 25 percent. She has supported numerous leadership development programs for faculty and departmental chairs and increased faculty recognition (including awards, and tenure and promotion). In July 2016, Dr. Brown was appointed interim president of Valdosta State University, a regional comprehensive university in southern Georgia. She served in that capacity until a permanent president took office in January 2017, and she then returned to her position at Georgia College. She joined the faculty at Georgia College as a professor in the School of Health and Human Performance in June 2013.

Dr. Brown was interim dean and professor in the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida from 2012 until 2013 and was associate dean for academic affairs there from 2007 until 2012.  She was an ACE Fellow in 2011-12. From July 2003 through June 2006, she was interim dean of the Graduate School at the University of South Florida. Prior to that appointment, she was an active faculty member in the College of Public Health. Before joining the faculty at USF in 1996, she was chairperson of the Department of Health Sciences at Illinois State University for two years. During her seven years at Western Illinois University from 1987 until 1994, she rose through the ranks to become the graduate program coordinator in the Department of Health Sciences and, ultimately, assistant to the dean in the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

Dr. Brown's research interests include school and community partnerships, prevention (social) marketing, and adolescent and youth health issues. While at USF, she was a co-principal investigator in the University of South Florida’s Prevention Research Center’s program in community-based prevention marketing, and was the Sarasota demonstration project director. She has worked on numerous funded projects in which social marketing has been used in community and school settings. She was the principal investigator for Florida's statewide social marketing campaign (Florida Cares for Women) to increase breast and cervical cancer screening utilization, and she worked with the Seminole women of Florida in developing culturally appropriate breast and cervical cancer materials.

Dr. Brown has been active in several professional health education organizations. She served as the president of the Society for Public Health Education from 2012 until 2014. SOPHE serves as an independent professional association represented by a diverse membership of nearly 4,000 health education professionals and students throughout the United States and 25 international countries. She was the first female president of Eta Sigma Gamma, health education’s national honorary society. She has been an active member of numerous professional organization boards, and was a board member of the Foundation for the Advancement of Health Education Inc. She was an editorial board member for the Social Marketing Quarterly journal, and was the first co-editor of the Health Promotion Practice’s social marketing and health communication column from 2006-2009. She was the editor of the Journal of School Health, a highly-esteemed peer-reviewed journal for adolescent and school health, from 2008 until 2011. She is an inaugural member of the Pedagogy in Health Promotion: The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Editorial Board. 

She holds a doctorate in education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; a master of science and education in public health degree and bachelor of science degree, both from the University of Toledo; and an associate in applied sciences degree in dental hygiene from Michael J. Owens Technical College in Toledo, Ohio.

Dr. Brown has been married to Dennis M. Brown for 30 years. 


Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2019 09:17
Commissioner of Banks Ray Grace Confirmed For Another 4-Year Term PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:02

The General Assembly unanimously approved Governor Roy Cooper’s reappointment of Grace to another term as Commissioner of Banks. House Joint Resolution 147 sets Grace’s term through March 31, 2023.

“I am grateful to Governor Cooper and members of the General Assembly for their support,” said Ray Grace.  “The opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of our great state, and to help retain North Carolina’s traditional place as a leader in banking and financial regulation, is a great honor.”

Grace’s initiatives include growing de novo banking and encouraging innovation in financial services. Within the past year, the agency has seen an increased interest from the business community in forming new banks and has approved two applications. Also, Grace was involved in helping North Carolina become the first state to pass legislation related to money transmission and virtual currency.

Grace has served at the N.C. Office of the Commissioner of Banks (NCCOB) for almost 45 years. He helped charter 95 de novo banks in North Carolina. He also served as the state banking representative to the Federal Financial Stability Oversight Council (2016-2018) and has served on the board of directors and in various capacities at the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, a national organization representing state financial regulators.  

Grace joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966, served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, and was honorably discharged in 1969. He graduated from Niagara University, Niagara Falls, New York, in December 1973, with a B.S. in Commerce, and began his career at NCCOB in July 1974.

NCCOB is responsible for the chartering and regulation of North Carolina's state banks, thrift institutions, and nondepository trust companies.  NCCOB also regulates other financial services firms and individuals operating in North Carolina, including mortgage brokers, mortgage lenders, mortgage servicers, mortgage loan originators, check cashers, consumer finance companies, money transmitters, and refund anticipation loan facilitators. NCCOB is funded by industry fees and assessments and not taxpayer dollars.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:07
Growing Number of North Carolina Teens at Risk of Addiction to Nicotine, Study Finds PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 14:58
High school students are at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, a fact confirmed by a North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services analysis of vaping devices confiscated from students at seven schools in various parts of the state.
Nicotine — the addictive drug found in cigarettes — was present in 85 percent of e-cigarette and vaping devices and containers analyzed by the department’s State Laboratory of Public Health found. However, youth are not always aware that e-cigarettes and vaping devices contain nicotine. A U.S. Monitoring the Future Study (2018) found that 11.5 percent of 8th–12th graders perceive they are “only vaping flavors” with no nicotine, and this percent increases with age. A Truth Initiative Study (2018) found that 63 percent of Juul users (age 15-24) did not know these products always contained nicotine.
For the last four years, e-cigarettes have been the most frequently used tobacco products among students in North Carolina. From 2011 to 2017, e-cigarette use by high school students increased nearly 900 percent with 16.9 percent reporting e-cigarette use in 2017. Among middle school students, e-cigarette use increased by over 400 percent from 2011 to 2017. Use of e-cigarettes by students while in school poses health and safety risks and violates established tobacco-free school policies in North Carolina.
“The rise in use of e-cigarettes by youth is alarming,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer for DHHS. “We now have a new generation of youth at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine and they may not even know it. The use of nicotine by school-age children is a concern because human brain development continues to age 25. Early exposure to nicotine can negatively impact brain development, attention, learning and memory. It also can prime the brain for future addiction.”
Conducted by the State Laboratory of Public Health in partnership with the Division of Public Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch and the NC Department of Public Instruction, the study found that of the 76 devices confiscated by schools, 33 (43 percent) were Juuls. Commercially sold Juul pods sold at that time are equal to about two packs of cigarettes. Products like Juul resemble flash media drives used for storing and sharing files on computers. Due to increasing use by youth, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein launched an investigation into Juul marketing practices last year.
Additionally, most e-liquids tested were flavored. The Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams have voiced concern that candy-flavored vaping products are particularly enticing to middle school and high school students. 
While the FDA has authority over these products, according to the current FDA time-line, the products themselves would not begin to become fully regulated until August 2022.
QuitlineNC is North Carolina’s tobacco cessation program, which can help people quit e-cigarettes as well as other tobacco products. For free help to quit, call 1-800-QuitNow (1-800-784-8669) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

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