WNC CONFIDENTIAL: Your key to hard-to-find public information and records.

Also: A county-by-county look at domestic-violence homicides; a McDowell woman is a new casualty as heat-emergency numbers spike

In a newly released report, the N.C. Office of the State Auditor has cited the N.C. Department of Transportation for alleged major missteps in Haywood County. The DOT’s Sylva-based Division 14, as well as Haywood’s maintenance department, countenanced unnecessary cost overruns and other questionable decisions, the report said.

In a video briefing released concurrent with the report last week, State Auditor Beth Wood noted that “this investigation originated with a hotline complaint and led to a number of findings concerning Department of Transportation projects in the far-western part of the state.”

A video message from the N.C. Office of the State Auditor detailing an audit into the N.C. Department of Transportation in Western North Carolina. Click the image or here to play the video in a separate browser window.

Wood’s report ticked off a litany of alleged misdeeds and the consequences, including:

  • “Failure to control rental equipment costs contributed to a multimillion dollar project overrun.”
  • “Failure to follow DOT’s contracting policies for rental equipment unnecessarily increased the cost of highway maintenance projects.”
  • “Three DOT employees made excessive purchases, discounts were lost, and items cannot be located.”
  • “The failure to follow the approval process increased the risk of unauthorized and wasteful purchase card transactions.”
  • “An engineer’s secondary employment conflicted with DOT responsibilities.”

See the report, along with DOT’s appended response to the findings, below:

North Carolina’s 2011 domestic violence-related killings

Source: the N.C. Department of Justice. Click to view full-size image.

106 North Carolina residents died in domestic-violence incidents in 2011, the N.C. Department of Justice said in a report issued July 2.

“68 of the victims were female, 38 of the victims were male,” the report said. “25 of the offenders were female, 81 of the offenders were male.”

“13 of the 106 victims had taken out protective orders and 6 of the protective orders were current when the victims were murdered,” the report added.

The total killings numbered almost the same as the total for 2010, when there were 107.

In WNC, Buncombe County had five such killings, and Rutherford County had four, while many of the region’s counties had one or none.

See the report, with county-by-county breakdowns, here. [PDF]

State’s health emergencies rise with the temperature

The death of a 73-year-old McDowell County woman on June 30 has been attributed, at least in part, to heat exposure, according to a published report in The McDowell News. And across North Carolina, more than 150 people went to the hospital or an emergency department that same weekend due to heat-related illnesses, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The department, which tracks such emergencies on a special website that lists preventative measures, also issues periodic “North Carolina Heat Reports.”

The latest such report, which covers May and June of this year and can be viewed below, shows heat-related health problems spiking with the recent record temperatures.

View the report here. [PDF]

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Jon Elliston is the lead contributing open government reporter at Carolina Public Press. Contact him at jelliston@carolinapublicpress.org.

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