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Inmates sue over Alamance County’s cash bail system

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of three Alamance County jail inmates who say they can’t afford cash bailouts of more than $1,000. Two of the inmates are only facing misdemeanor charges.  The ACLU is seeking class-action status and lawyers argue the county violates the inmates’ constitutional rights because they are presumed innocent while awaiting trial, but remained confined because they can’t afford bail. The inmates say the system requiring bailouts paid in cash unfairly jails the poor while those with money can go home.

New Hanover residents oppose sale of NHRMC, poll shows

A majority of New Hanover County residents oppose or are unsure about the possible sale of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center, according to a poll commissioned by the New Hanover County Democratic party and conducted by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling. It found 82% of respondents are against the possible sale to a for-profit entity, with 5% in favor. About 53% oppose the sale to a non-profit hospital while 25% would favor a move. The study polled more Republicans than Democrats and the release states, “the age and race breakdown roughly resembles proportions found in the voting pool for a typical election.”

Wilmington’s private-equity-backed PPD takes steps for IPO

Pharmaceutical Product Development LLC, a privately owned contract research organization based in Wilmington, has submitted a draft registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to explore a potential initial public offering. The time frame, number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have yet to be determined. PPD employs 1,500 workers at its Wilmington headquarters and 23,000 in 46 countries. It is owned by private equity funds The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friendman, along with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.

Premier Inc. forms new health systems network

Charlotte-based Premier Inc., which provides health care services, consultation, insurance and clinical and financial databases, is forming Contigo Health, which it describes as a “network of health systems collaborating with employers and their health plans.” Thirty-five health systems have signed letters of intent to participate in the Contigo Health network. Premier officials noted that insurance deductibles for most corporate employees have tripled since 2008.

McClatchy to end Saturday newspapers next year

California-based McClatchy Co., the parent of the Charlotte Observer, Raleigh’s News & Observer and 28 publications, will stop printing Saturday newspapers at some point next year. The move is part of the company’s transition from print to digital as it prepares to face a “significant liquidity challenge” in 2020 after the IRS declined a request to defer making payments to its pension plan. McClatchy has already phased out the printed newspaper in 12 cities and will announce when North Carolina’s publications are affected at a later date.

Durham fintech Spreedly receives $75M from Spectrum Equity

Spreedly, a Durham-based fintech startup, received $75 million from Spectrum Equity, a Boston-based private equity firm. The provider of cloud-based software infrastructure for payments will use the funds to accelerate product development and support expansion. Spreedly was founded in 2011 and powers more than 1million transactions daily, a 108% growth rate in the last year.

Cary’s Medfusion sold for $43M to NextGen Healthcare

Steve Malik sold his Cary-based medical service data firm Medfusion to California’s NextGen Healthcare, a publicly traded ambulatory care company, for $43 million. He will use the proceeds for a new venture called Greenlight Health data services. Malik, who owns the North Carolina FC soccer team, says the the sale will add more liquidity for the $2 billion Downtown South entertainment district project in Raleigh that he is championing. NextGen’s acquisition is expected to close in December pending regulatory approval.

Charlotte City Council approves $50 million light-rail study

Charlotte City Council approved plans to pay $50 million for consulting firm WSP USA to study a 26-mile light-rail line design that would run from Matthews to downtown Charlotte and west to Charlotte Douglas International Airport into Gaston County. The proposed light-rail line, dubbed the Silver Line, would likely cost between $3 billion and $4 billion with funding sources not currently identified. Charlotte has an existing 19-mile Blue Line that runs from from UNC Charlotte to Pineville.

Atrium, Novant join BCBSNC’s Blue Premier value-based program

Atrium Health and Novant Health, two of the state’s biggest and most profitable health care systems, signed onto Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Blue Premier value-based care program. The program, which goes into effect for the systems on Jan. 1, holds health care providers and insurance companies financially accountable for the quality of care a patient receives based on performance standards. Typical health insurance company plans reimburse health care providers based on the amount of services they provide.

Lawsuits against N.C. political donor, insurance tycoon, show lack of cooperation

Court documents show Greg Lindberg, a Durham insurance tycoon and the state’s largest political donor who has been indicted by the federal government on bribery charges, has been very uncooperative during previous lawsuits. Lindberg has shown a pattern of refusing to answer questions, appearing more than an hour late to court and failing to submit documents on time, at all, or in such volume it was difficult to decipher, according to court documents from a previous embezzlement case and a case about terminating employees without paying severance in contracts. Lindberg is involved in a number of lawsuits. Some attorneys have accused him of delay tactics, while others say they don’t recall problems with discovery or depositions.

Atrium Health says it’s combining with Wake Forest Baptist, not merging

Charlotte’s Atrium Health clarified its potential partnership with Winston-Salem’s Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest School of Medicine. Atrium calls the partnership a “strategic combination,” with both legal entities remaining intact and continuing to answer to their respective boards, but will operate as a unified enterprise by integrating their strategic and operational efforts. The proposal, which was announced in April, is under review by the Federal Trade Commission.

Friends Homes announces expansion project in Greensboro

Friends Homes, a continuing care retirement community, plans a major residential project on its Guilford College Road and Friendly Avenue campuses in Greensboro. Friends Homes West, on Friendly Avenue, will expand with 11 three-bedroom cottages, eight two-bedroom townhomes, three buildings containing 54 villa apartments, a new sports court and fitness options. The Friends Homes Guilford campus will add 20 townhomes.

Nash County egg producer sues over 200,000 hen deaths

Braswell Egg Co., an egg production firm in Nash County whose products are sold by Eggland’s Best, is suing Poultry Management Systems, claiming a system error killed 221,590 hens. Braswell claims to have purchased a production monitoring system from Poultry Management that was incorrectly installed, resulting in a “catastrophic loss” of hens. Braswell says losses exceeded $25,000 and that PMS tried to evade responsibility for the loss when it “abruptly stopped negotiating.” Poultry Management didn’t respond to a call seeking comment.

Ocracoke to reopen more than two months after Dorian

Ocracoke island will reopen to the public on Nov. 22, more than two months after Hurricane Dorian left record flooding and devastated the community. Officials are waiting to open the island until most of the debris is removed and repairs on N.C. 12, the coastal island’s main highway, are completed. The highway repairs are expected to be completed by the end of the month. Officials say food, gas and lodging are still limited.

N.C. State capital campaign raises $1.6 billion

N.C. State University reached its capital campaign goal of $1.6 billion with two years to spare. The “Think and Do the Extraordinary” campaign was launched in 2016 to add more need-based scholarships and financial support. Since the campaign started, the university has established 636 new scholarships and fellowships, created 83 new, endowed faculty positions and increased its endowment by 178%. N.C. State raised the funds from more than 88,000 donors.

Duke Energy objects to executives giving depositions in coal-ash suit

Duke Energy Corp. is fighting efforts from insurers to compel CEO Lynn Good and COO Dhiaa Jamil to testify in depositions as part of preparation for a coal-ash liability lawsuit. Duke is suing more than two dozen insurance companies in an attempt to recover $600 million in coal-ash liability costs. Seventeen insurers say Good and Jamil have “first-hand knowledge of Duke’s coal-ash-related actions and were personally involved in, and critical to, Duke’s plans.” Duke argues they don’t have any special knowledge.

Triangle’s Pyxus misses revenue estimates

Morrisville-based Pyxus International Inc., formerly known as Alliance One International, reported revenues of $383 million for the second quarter, less than analyst estimates of $430 million. The producer of tobacco, hemp and e-liquids posted a loss of $1.81 per diluted share, compared with a loss of $6.04 per share last year. The company says sales decreased due to an 11.2% drop in average sales prices. Shares closed at $10.33 yesterday and have traded between $9 and $32 in the last year.

GoTriangle lost public confidence after light rail failure

A new report finds that Triangle area public-transit leader GoTriangle is losing credibility with the community after spending $130 million on the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project before shutting it down earlier this year. GoTriangle, which operates buses in Wake, Durham and Orange counties, led the project over the last two decades before pulling the plug in March. From Nov. 14-19, GoTriangle is hosting community workshops in Durham for the public to provide input on the agency’s future.

N.C. could receive $40M from feds for farm aid

The federal government announced $800 million in aid to farmers in Florida, Alabama and Georgia to assist with hurricane damage. But North Carolina could end up with more than $40 million of the remaining funds, which haven’t been allocated to the three Southern states. N.C. and federal officials are still negotiating over the terms of the aid package, U.S. Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce told The Associated Press.

Investigation finds former ECU interim chancellor allegations “largely false”

A UNC System investigation into East Carolina University’s interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach found that while he did go drinking at several Greenville bars with students, allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior and comments, and buying drinks for underage students are “largely false.” The investigation, conducted by the Womble Bond Dickinson law firm, found Gerlach “probably consumed” between seven and 10 alcoholic drinks over six hours before driving home after 2 a.m.

New law increases standard deduction, adds sales tax

Gov. Roy Cooper signed a law that increases the standard deduction by $750 to $1,500 starting in 2020. For a single filer the deduction, or amount of income on which filers pay no income taxes, will now be $10,750. The law also directs companies to collect sales taxes on consumers buying products offered through third-party retailers as a way to collect more taxes from out-of-state retailers.

N.C. ranked 2nd in number of dangerous dams

North Carolina has the second-largest collection of poorly maintained dams built in places where failure could be deadly, according to a two-year investigation by The Associated Press. The state only trailed Georgia among 44 states and Puerto Rico that responded to AP‘s public records requests. North Carolina’s 168 hazardous dams that are in poor or unsatisfactory condition make up 10% of the dangerous dams AP found nationally.

Charlotte’s Ekos names new CFO

Charlotte-based Ekos, which provides workflow management software for breweries and other craft producers, named Chris Rosbrook chief financial officer. He joins the company from MapAnything, where he served as CFO and helped the company raise $75 million in equity capital. Ekos recently raised $8 million in a fundraising round, which will be used to help the company expand and add more software developers and engineers.

TransEnterix CEO steps down

Todd Pope, the longtime president and CEO of TransEnterix, a Research Triangle Park-based biotech firm, is stepping down amid the company’s financial struggles. In October, TransEnterix brought on J.P. Morgan Securities LLC to help with “considering strategic alternatives” as it looks for financial opportunities to keep the company afloat beyond the first fiscal quarter of 2020. The company named Anthony Fernando, TransEnterix’s chief operating officer and chief technology officer, as president and CEO.

Charlotte leads for next Major League Soccer expansion bid

Charlotte is the frontrunner for the next Major League Soccer expansion bid, and the newest team will be made in “the next number of months,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “It’s fair to say that Charlotte has done a lot of work to move their bid to the front of the line,” he said, adding David Tepper, owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, is a catalyst for the bid. If selected, Tepper is expected to pay between $300 million and $325 million for the 30th MLS team.

State Treasurer says views haven’t changed on Charlotte Police Chief retirement

North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell says he has “absolutely not” changed his opinion that Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney can’t retire in January and then return to oversee the 2020 Republican National Convention while continuing to collect his pension. Folwell says he’s relying on the opinion of tax attorneys in Washington and the treasurer’s office, and it would be “careless” to go against their advice.

Pender County still seeking FEMA funds for $7.5M of courthouse repairs

Pender County is still seeking funding to repair its historic courthouse nearly 13 months after Hurricane Florence first damaged the site. The building’s repairs have been delayed because the county is still unsure what renovations FEMA funds will help cover. Architects from LS3P Associates, who is leading the projects, expects most of the efforts, which will largely be paid through FEMA mitigation funds, to cost more than $7.5 million. The masonry repair work, expected to cost around $1 million, is scheduled to begin next week and continue through late March.

Wake Forest Baptist Health to use $6M grant studying non-opioid pain management

Wake Forest Baptist Health is planning to use $6 million in grant funding from the National Cancer Institute to test a web-based, pain-management system that will move patients away from opioids. The funding will be applied over five years and is in addition to the $25 million grant the health system received earlier this year from the NCI Community Oncology Research Program. The study will be geared toward cancer patients that have received treatment but still have lingering pain, a problem among 40% of those patients.

UNC Health Care board accused of inappropriately using state airplanes

An investigation by WBTV uncovered members of the UNC Health Care board, including Chairman Charles Owen III, have been inappropriately using state-funded airplanes through UNC Air Operations to avoid driving to meetings across North Carolina. Records show the hospital system spent $50,000 in the first nine months shuttling board members to meetings. Owens and former UNC Health Care CEO Bill Roper also failed to disclose conflicts of interest with certain companies for years, coming in conflict with the State Government Ethics Act.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest wants to expand private school vouchers

As part of his education plan, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest wants every family in North Carolina to receive a state-funded voucher to attend a private school. Forest, a hopeful for the 2020 Republican nomination for governor, said he’d continue to give priority for low-income families to receive vouchers through a weighted selection lottery but would expand the eligibility criteria “to allow every family in North Carolina the chance to choose a school that works for them.”

CommScope stock up 27% on earnings beat

Hickory-based CommScope Holding Co. Inc. reported adjusted third quarter earnings of $126.9 million, or 55 cents per share, beating analyst estimates of $102.9 million and 44 cents per share. Net sales were $2.38 billion for the period, representing a 106.9% increase from last year. The network infrastructure provider’s stock jumped 27% following the news and closed trading yesterday at $14.94 per share.

Bandwidth shares fall 14% after earnings report

Raleigh’s Bandwidth Inc. shares declined 14% Thursday after the company predicted a bigger fourth quarter loss and lower revenue than expected. The communications platform-as-a-service company reported revenue of $60.5 million for the Sept. 30 quarter, compared with $50.5 million during the same quarter last year. Bandwidth lost $1 million, compared with a $2.5 million profit a year earlier. For the fourth quarter, Bandwidth expects a loss of 15 cents to 17 cents per share, with revenue of about $58.5 million. Analysts had predicted a 14 cent loss and revenue of $66 million.

myFutureNC names first president, CEO

The myFutureNC commission, which works to improve postsecondary education attainment in the state, has appointed Cecilia Holden its first-ever president and CEO. Holden previously served as the director of government and community relations for the North Carolina State Board of Education. She will begin her new position the first week of December with the goal of helping 2 million North Carolinians achieve a high-quality postsecondary degree by 2030.

Belmont greenlights historic property redevelopment

Belmont leaders approved a major redevelopment project of the historic Chronicle Mill near downtown. The decision creates a seven-acre conditional zoning ‘Downtown District’ for the Chronicle Mill to accommodate redevelopment plans. Mill owners John and Jennifer Church want to create 230 apartments with 12,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, adding a fourth story to the property and developing a new five-story building at the site.

Feds award $24M grant for faster internet in Clinton, other rural areas

North Carolina received a $23.7 million grant to build a high-speed fiber network to bring faster internet access to Clinton and other rural areas through the USDA’s ReConnect Program. The Star Telephone Membership Corp,, which offers internet, telephone and digital security services with offices in Clinton and Elizabethtown, will build the fiber-to-home network.

Gibbins Advisors pledges oversight for HCA-Mission deal

Nashville-based Gibbins Advisors, the independent monitoring firm hired to keep HCA Healthcare accountable for its promises during its acquisition of Mission Health, says it will provide oversight from within the health system and across the community. The health care consulting firm is scheduling site visits and meetings in Mission Health’s 18-county region and says it welcomes community dialogue.

Gov. Cooper asks businesses to choose education investments over tax cuts

Requesting assistance from business leaders to make teaching a more attractive profession, Governor Roy Cooper says he favors higher teacher salaries instead of further corporate tax cuts. “When business has a choice between further cuts in corporate taxes or investments in our teachers,” he said at the North Carolina CEO Forum, “I hope you will say investments in our teachers, because the CEOs I talk to aren’t complaining to me about our corporate tax structure. What they are complaining about is filling the jobs that they have with talented workers.”

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