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City & State Briefs

Judge throws out students' citations

A second wave of Duke students cited for various alcohol-related offenses in the Alcohol Law Enforcement's August "back-to-school" enforcement campaign beat the charges against them in mid-December.

The Durham County District Attorney's Office moved to dismiss about three dozen court cases stemming from a party held at 910 N. Gregson St. just before fall semester classes started.

The District Attorney dismissed the cases because they were similar to cases dropped by District Court Judge Craig Brown relating to a party at 1206 Markham Ave. In that case, Brown ruled that ALE agents acted unconstitutionally by entering the party without obtaining a search warrant.

 

ALE arrests 48 store clerks in December

During December 2005, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement agents checked 146 retail establishments in Durham and Orange counties and arrested 48 store clerks for selling tobacco to underage persons.

The enforcement effort was part of the statewide Tobacco Compliance Check Campaign.

The agents issued a criminal citation to each of the store clerks who sold cigars, cigarettes, snuff or bulk tobacco to customers younger than 18 years old.

In recent years, the state has tried to promote a Red Flag campaign to encourage retailers to check the color border around a person's picture on the North Carolina driver's license. A red border means the person cannot buy tobacco; a yellow border signifies that a person can buy tobacco but not alcohol; and a green border allows a person to purchase both.

MOP steakhouse closes doors

Cattleman's Steakhouse, a member of the Merchants on Points program, has reportedly closed. A local restaurateur is considering leasing the space and opening a new steakhouse.

This is one of many recent changes to dining on Hillsborough Road near campus. The Italian Garden restaurant next door has also closed.

The person hoping to lease the former Cattleman's space is considering opening a sports bar where Italian Garden used to be.

Additionally, the former China Inn at 2701 Hillsborough St. is undergoing renovation and may soon become a Mexican buffet restaurant.

 

Report finds UNC schools restrict speech

A report released Tuesday says some campuses in the University of North Carolina system impose unconstitutional limits on freedom of speech.

The report cited examples such as Fayetteville State University's ban on vulgar language and UNC Greensboro's prohibition on "disrespect for persons."

The report suggested the UNC system pay more attention to First Amendment freedoms. It was issued by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

 

Chief arrested twice, remains on leave

Carrboro Fire Chief Rodney Murray will not return to work after being arrested twice in the past few weeks.

Murray was charged with driving while impaired after his car was found Dec. 24 in a ditch in Durham. He was also accused of making harassing phone calls and failing to stop for lights or sirens. A week later, he was charged with stalking a woman who later filed a domestic violence protective order against him.

He will continue on medical leave until his retirement March 1, town officials said. Murray has been on intermittent medical leave since he had a heart attack in late November 2005.

Murray has been chief since 1994 and worked for the Chapel Hill Fire Department for 26 years before that.

Assistant Fire Chief Travis Crabtree will continue serving as interim fire chief.

 

Wray to resign amid allegations of racism

Greensboro Police Chief David Wray announced his resignation Monday, just days after the city manager locked him out of his own office amid a review of reports of racial profiling by an elite police unit. The department's Special Intelligence Section has been accused of treating black officers unfairly. SIS came under further criticism when officers were caught trailing a black officer's car in June 2005.

The city manager stripped Wray last month of his ability to hire, fire, promote or transfer officers in the department without his permission.

"The city manager and some others have lost confidence and trust in my ability to lead," Wray said in a statement. "This is my great regret."

Assistant Chief Tim Bellamy will take over as acting chief.

 

More than 6,200 arrested for DWI

During the governor's holiday drunk driving enforcement campaign, 6,258 people were arrested statewide for driving while impaired. Altogether, they issued nearly 200,000 traffic and criminal citations during the campaign-more than any of the past three winter campaigns. The use of more checkpoints contributed to the increase in citations.

North Carolina has a large fleet of "BATMobiles," or breath-alcohol testing mobile units, which were used in the campaign. The six units are equipped with testing equipment and often a traveling magistrate, that otherwise would be unavailable to officers without leaving the checkpoints. The campaign, titled "Booze It or Lose It," ran from Nov. 17 to Jan. 1.

 

City lessens water restrictions

Because of increased rainfall, Durham officials have lowered the city's water conservation efforts to Stage 1-the lowest level available.

With its reservoirs drained to less than a two-month supply, Durham instituted mandatory Stage III restrictions Nov. 7 that banned watering lawns except during prescribed times as well as washing cars.

As of December, rainfall had replenished the city's main reservoir at Lake Michie and had filled Little River Lake to less than five feet below full.

 

N.C. workplace safety data released

Three fewer people died in workplace accidents last year than the year before, according to figures from the North Carolina Department of Labor. The data show that 80 workers died in 2005. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said the state has worked alongside employers and industry groups to ensure the safety of North Carolina's workers.

Construction deaths decreased from 37 to 27, although that industry still led the state's workplace fatality statistics at 34 percent.

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