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Commissioners represent county’s interests at National Association of Counties DC Conference

Only two counties from western North Carolina were represented at this year's annual Legislative Conference of the National Association of Counties (NACo) held March 5 through 9 in Washington, D.C.: Buncombe and Macon.

Macon County commissioners Ronnie Beale and Bob Kuppers, as well as county manager Jack Horton, all attended the conference which Horton called “very educational and useful.” According to Horton, the conference is an excellent opportunity for county governments to learn and advocate about federal legislative issues which directly impact local governments.

Over 2,000 elected and appointed county officials from across the country attended the conference this year. Members of Congress and key officials addressed attendees during general session presentations.

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State Transportation Secretary Gene Conti announced the appointment of Becky Wallace as director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. Wallace assumed her new position on March 14.

“Becky is a recognized leader in law enforcement and a dedicated public servant,” Conti said. “Her firsthand knowledge, experience and coalition-building skills will benefit our partnerships across the state, and help us make traveling in North Carolina even safer.”

As director of GHSP, Wallace will oversee the daily operations of the organization to carry out its mission to promote highway safety awareness and reduce the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in the state.

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North Carolina lawmakers will not be considering laws that would amend the legal age of adult criminal responsibility to 18 this year. So far, no bill on the matter has been introduced this legislative session, and it is likely no bill will be passed, say officials, as budget cuts in Raleigh are paramount for many legislators.

Currently, any person 16 years of age or older who has committed a crime of any kind is charged as an adult in North Carolina courts. Eleven states have set the age at 17, while the other 37 states have set the age of adulthood at 18. New York is the only other state to try 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for criminal matters.

Bills pushing for the age change have died in finance committees in the last two sessions, due to the high price tag that would come with them. Adding 16- and 17-year-olds to the cases handled by the juvenile justice system would require more case workers and funding. “In this budget year, it just doesn’t seem likely that that will happen,” said Chuck Mallonee, Chief Juvenile Court Counselor of the seven westernmost counties of N.C. Mallonee is in favor of increasing the age of adulthood.

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AG awards money recovered in price fixing case to food banks

Food banks across North Carolina will get more than $740,000 in grant funds to help fight hunger, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Tuesday at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina in Winston- Salem.

The money comes at a time when the state’s food banks are working harder than ever to meet the needs of North Carolina families hit by the economic downturn. North Carolina food banks have seen a 30 percent increase in need since 2006, according to the NC Association of Feeding America Food Banks.

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published: 10/18/2013
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