Gov. Bev Perdue has signed a proclamation declaring Friday a “Day of Mourning” and encouraging people around North Carolina to observe a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. in the wake of a school shooting in Connecticut that left 26 people dead, including 20 young students.
“Our thoughts and hearts continue to be with the families of the victims of this senseless act of violence in Newtown, Conn.,” Perdue said. “(My husband) Bob and I are deeply shocked and heartbroken over this tragic loss of life. Our prayers are with all the families of the children, teachers and administrators.”
Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy has written letters to governors across the nation, requesting each state to participate in a moment of silence. Malloy is also asking houses of worship and government buildings that have the ability, to ring bells 26 times during that moment in honor of each life that was taken during the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
Tobacco payments settled
A decade-long dispute over payments that tobacco companies owe 19 states has been resolved with an agreement that will bring $108 million to North Carolina and ongoing annual payments.
Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office announced the agreement on Wednesday.
Under an agreement reached in 1988, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard agreed to pay the states more than $200 billion over 25 years to settle lawsuits related to smoking. Other companies later joined the agreement.
But the companies and the states have had a disagreement over some of the payments, which has now been resolved, avoiding costly litigation, Cooper said in a news release.
North Carolina has received more than $1 billion from the agreement. Its annual payment of about $23 million could have been jeopardized if the dispute continued, Cooper said.
The money is used for health education and economic development to offset the impact of tobacco’s decline.
A federal bonus
North Carolina will receive an $18 million bonus from the federal government for improving access to children’s health-care coverage, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Wednesday.
The money was part of an award of $306 million in performance bonuses to 23 states. States qualify for bonuses based on measurements of how well they simplify enrollment and renewal, and how they ensure eligible children have easier access to coverage under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
This is the fourth year the bonuses have been distributed. The money helps offset the cost of insuring the lowest-income children in each state. The bonuses were authorized by 2009 legislation. CMS is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Strike up the band
The Asheville High School marching band has been selected from nearly 3,000 applicants as one of the groups that will march in the Inaugural Parade marking the start of President Barack Obama’s second term.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee on Wednesday announced the participation of several dozen bands representing high schools, colleges and groups from around the country.
They will follow the traditional parade route, which heads down Pennsylvania Avenue from 4th Street past the White House. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will watch the parade from a reviewing stand across from Lafayette Park.
“The talented groups chosen to participate in the Inaugural Parade reflect the spirit, values and diversity of our great nation,” Obama said in a statement. “Vice President Biden and I are honored to have them join us in the parade.”
Staff writers Craig Jarvis and Austin Baird
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