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New Wastewater Spill Notification Guidance Released

The N.C. Division of Water Resources (DWR) released new guidance this week to operators of wastewater treatment and collection systems regarding the reporting of wastewater spills. The memo comes in response to provisions of SB 729 Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, which changed the reporting requirements. The new law requires that unauthorized discharges of 1,000 gallons or more of untreated wastewater into the surface waters of the state be reported to regulators within 24 hours.

A separate provision requires public notification of a spill within 24 hours. Previous law required that the public be notified of a spill within 48 hours. The division said it will continue to enforce a more stringent requirement that is in current collection system permits to report unauthorized discharges to surface waters of any amount. The memo to wastewater treatment operators also contained sample press release language, sample public notice language, and specific instructions on how to give the public notice.


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Commerce Department Issues Draft Community Development Plan

The state Department of Commerce has issued a draft Consolidated Action Plan that outlines how four programs operated by the state will disperse federal Housing and Urban Development dollars over the next five years. The division began accepting public comment regarding the plan earlier this week. The comment period will run through Nov. 8. The four programs affected by the plan are the state Community Development Block Grant program, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Emergency Shelter Grants Program, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program.

The state receives more than $60 million annually in federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funding for housing and community development. The draft plan, along with  additional information about the four programs and how to submit comments, can be found here.


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Business Recruiting Public-Private Partnership Opens Doors

The state's new public-private partnership overseeing job recruiting and economic development is now open for business. Governor Pat McCrory announced earlier this week that "we have a new office, a new structure and a bold new approach for how we sell this state." The partnership is employing 34 people, many moved from previous jobs within the Department of Commerce. The McCrory administration is touting the public-private partnership as a more nimble approach to economic development and business recruitment that will also be able to tap private dollars for those efforts. Read more here about the start-up of the partnership.
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Census Driving Data Shows Changing Commuter Patterns

New Census data shows that the number of people who are commuting to work by private automobile is declining for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, an increase is taking place among those taking public transportation, riding bikes, and walking to work. A jump also occurred among those working from home. More than 85 percent of workers still get to their jobs using private cars, but the data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey shows over two-thirds of the nation's largest metropolitan areas are experiencing declines in driving. The Brookings Institute recently published its own analysis of the commuter survey information.
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Crime Rate Continues to Fall Statewide and in Select Cities

The latest Uniform Crime Report from the State Bureau of Investigation shows overall crime in the state decreasing by 7 percent in 2013 and violent crime falling by 5.4 percent. In a look at crime rates in 14 North Carolina cities, the report shows crime falling in nine. The biggest drop in reported crimes occurred in Concord, which experienced an 11-percent decrease, followed by a 7-percent decline in Gastonia. Charlotte, Fayetteville, Winston-Salem and Rocky Mount all experienced 6-percent drops in their overall crime rates.

Compared to a decade ago, the state's overall crime rate is down 24.4 percent, with violent crime down 26.3 percent over that period. The report can be found here. Read more about the report here and here.


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State Treasurer Ranks High on Worldwide Listing

State Treasurer Janet Cowell is ranked 18th in an annual ranking of the most significant public sector investors in the world. The ranking from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute is based in large part on the more than $90 billion in state pension funds overseen by Treasurer Cowell. The amount includes approximately $20 billion in the Local Government Employees Retirement System. In compiling the rankings, the institute also places emphasis on the executives' involvement in "developments and trends in the asset owner space." Read more about the rankings here.


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Secretary Foxx Says FAA Not Delaying Any Charlotte Airport Decision

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says that he is not holding up any decisions from the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the fate of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Secretary Foxx spoke to reporters this week, saying that the FAA has a methodical process in addressing the issues like those involving control of the airport. The dispute over who controls the airport is before the courts after the Legislature acted to give control to a regional commission. The City of Charlotte sued, and the courts have been waiting for guidance from the FAA. A court hearing that could prove the most significant in determining the outcome of the case was scheduled for today. But a ruling from the court may be months away. Read more about Foxx's comments in this Charlotte Observer article and more about the court hearing in this piece from the newspaper.
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Cornelius Tapped by Google as "eCity"

The Town of Cornelius has been chosen by Internet giant Google as its "eCity of North Carolina" for 2014. The award recognizes "the new digital capitals of America" and is focused on small business success and entrepreneurship, according to the company. The online strengths of the businesses within cities and towns are examined in determining the winners. Awards are given to cities and towns in all 50 states.

Although not specifically mentioned by Google, the towns of Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville operate the MI-Connection community-owned broadband system. In accepting the award, Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis said, "Entrepreneurs here are turning to the Internet to start and develop their own businesses and we hope Cornelius becomes an inspiration to other areas in North Carolina and around the country." Read more about the eCity awards here and here.