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The North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission has officially launched a new statewide campaign targeting underage drinking in North Carolina. The new campaign, called Talk It Out, is a multi-media campaign designed to raise awareness of the issue, and to give parents the right tools for talking to kids about the dangers of underage drinking.

During a news conference at Daniels Middle School in Raleigh on Dec. 8, N.C. ABC Commission Chairman Jim Gardner announced plans for broadcast, web, social media and a series of events and activities across the state associated with the campaign. Chairman Gardner also unveiled the Commission’s original body of research, The State of Underage Drinking in North Carolina.

“When Governor McCrory appointed me to the North Carolina ABC Commission in 2013, he directed me to do something about the issue of underage drinking. Our team got right down to business and undertook a unique research effort to better understand the magnitude of the problem in our state. We went straight to the source – parents and children,” said Gardner.

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When it comes to fishing, Western Carolina University art professor Jon Jicha is happy angling in all kinds of waters.

But recently, Jicha painted a couple of his favorite fish for the North Carolina Department of Transportation to use in two new vehicle plate designs. The designs show native brook trout (the state’s official freshwater fish) and red drum (the official state saltwater fish) in their natural habitats.

More than just attractive car tags, the plates serve to reinforce the necessity of maintaining the state’s natural resources – especially those that tend to get caught and eaten in large numbers.

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Work is under way to ensure that the needs of North Carolina’s most vulnerable populations are addressed during disasters. Nearly 70 emergency management planners, first responders, state agencies, partner organizations, family members and self-advocates gathered Wednesday, Nov. 12, to hear details of a technical plan and discuss next steps to improve emergency preparedness for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

For the past year these stakeholders met to determine specific ways to better prepare and serve the needs of the whole community. To address those unmet needs, North Carolina Emergency Management embarked upon the Emergency Preparedness Initiative, a four-year program to identify and prioritize action items needed to better prepare people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for emergencies.

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The key to economic and community development in Western North Carolina is for leaders of the public, private and nonprofit sectors to reach beyond town limits and county lines to embrace a more regional approach, steeped in a spirit of cooperation and partnership.

That was the message heard again and again Wednesday, Nov. 12, from speakers and participants at LEAD:WNC, a one-day summit convened by WCU to discuss solutions leading to sustainable economic and community development.

Approximately 275 business leaders, chamber of commerce representatives, elected and appointed officials, educators, economists and entrepreneurs gathered in the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center for a day of discussion centered on six sectors of the region’s economy – education, tourism, health care, innovation and technology, the creative arts and natural products.

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