The year 2022 took the nation through many economic, legislative and political twists and turns and North Carolina felt its effects. The state started the year with a winter storm that dropped as much as 5 inches of snow across central North Carolina; COVID-19 tests and vaccines continued to be rolled out; and the state experienced the spread of new coronavirus variants as the pandemic left in its wake an economic upheaval.

Later in the year, inflation surged across the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned abortion rights in June and Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order to protect access to abortion; Hurricane Ian ravaged the coastal cities at the end of September, leaving thousands without power or homes and killing at least four people. Mass shootings increased, reaching epidemic levels, with a mass shooting occurring in October in Raleigh when a 15-year old went on a rampage in a suburban neighborhood – killing five and injuring two.

Politically, North Carolina also made some turns in the road. The state added a congressional seat, sitting congressman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-11th District) lost his primary, and voters elected a new U.S. senator. To wrap the year up, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case, Moore vs. Harper, originating in North Carolina, that could change election law in the state and the rest of the country.

Throughout the year Carolina Public Press reported on the in-depth stories that mattered to our communities. The stories for this end-of-year edition were selected based on human interest, impact and inclusiveness, relevance, timeliness, uniqueness and aligned with Carolina Public Press’ mission. We also took into consideration the readership of each of these stories. They have been arranged chronologically.

Senate leader Phil Berger (left) and House Speaker Tim Moore field questions at a press conference in 2015. Carolina Public Press file photo

Why NC legislators are arguing a legal theory that could upend US democracy (April)

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, tried out a legal theory in 2020 elections litigation that had the potential to change the balance of power between the state legislature and the executive branch. 

It failed at every level of state and federal courts.

Dr. Sheila Cannon, center, speaks with nursing students, Jesse Rollier, left, and Carissa Bascomb, right, on May 4 at Fayetteville State University. Cannon is the associate dean of the School of Nursing at FSU. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Carolina Public Press

Pilot program brings sexual assault nurse training to historically Black university (May)

By the end of summer, a handful of nursing students at Fayetteville State University will have started taking courses on how to care for sexual assault survivors. It’s a small start but one Sheila Cannon has worked toward for more than two years. The funding comes from the state legislature, which allocated $125,000 for a pilot training program in Cumberland County late last year.

The Cherokee County Courthouse in downtown Murphy. Shelby Harris / Carolina Public Press

Child’s death triggers new state response to Cherokee County DSS (May)

The death of any child whose family was in contact with a county Department of Social Services  unleashes a hurricane of bureaucracy. In North Carolina’s system of state oversight and county administration, state workers examine whether county workers followed law, policy and accepted practice. 

Status of abortion access in the U.S. as of Aug. 8, 2022. SOURCE: KFF analysis of state policies and court decisions, as of November 23, 2022. 

What does Supreme Court action on abortion mean for North Carolina: An FAQ (May)

This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn the nearly 50-year-old legal precedent upholding the legal right to an abortion. If that happens, North Carolina is one of the few Southern states where abortion would remain legal after six weeks.

Cherokee County Department of Social Services office in Murphy. Seen here on June 13, 2022. Shelby Harris / Carolina Public Press

Judge orders Cherokee County DSS to turn over open case records (June)

The Cherokee County Department of Social Services must hand over all documents related to all open DSS cases on the calendar, a District Court judge ruled at a Monday hearing.  Last month, local attorney David Moore said he filed a subpoena for DSS records after learning that Cherokee County DSS was under investigation by the state of North Carolina yet again after a 5-month-old’s January death.

Cars line up on for gas on Andrew Jackson Highway at town limit of East Laurinburg. Carolina Public Press / Mark Darrough

NC town set to cease existence as state treasurer calls for criminal charges (June)

For the first time in North Carolina’s history, the Local Government Commission used a new law, Senate Bill 314, to vote unanimously to dissolve the town’s charter, which is scheduled to take place on June 30. 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services provided these images showing different ways that monkeypox infections can appear. Photos courtesy of NC DHHS.

Monkeypox cases spreading in NC (July)

North Carolina officials have confirmed 11 cases of monkeypox, a disease caused by the monkeypox virus, in the state as of Wednesday. Of those cases, 10 involve North Carolina residents, and one involves a nonresident. At least 929 people in the United States — and over 7,500 people around the globe — have been infected with it since May 18, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dead trees on the shore of a tidal creek in Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, Down East, N.C. Jack Igelman / Carolina Public Press

‘Ghost forests’ are creeping across NC’s coast at an alarming rate. Researchers are trying to stop them (August)

The spreading stands of dead trees are what’s known as “ghost forests,” a general term to describe contiguous areas of dead trees. And they are the focus of Duke University ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist Emily Bernhardt’s research. 

Brian Hogan sits outside a school in Marble on June 4, 2021. Hogan and his daughter were awarded a combined $4.6 million in damages by a federal jury in May after she was wrongfully separated from him by the Cherokee County Department of Social Services. Jacob Biba / Carolina Public Press

NC child welfare leader says system is ‘in crisis’ and state could be sued ‘at any point’ (September)

The state’s child welfare system “is in crisis,” and “at any point there could be a massive class-action lawsuit,” the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services told county directors of social services departments during a presentation earlier this month.

Cynthia Leeks speaks about her research and conclusions surrounding the City Council’s contract with a company called ShotSpotter in Fayetteville on Dec. 13. Leeks, secretary for the neighborhood watch for a Murchison Road district, acknowledges the council’s decision and intends to hold officials accountable to ShotSpotter’s effectiveness. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/ Carolina Public Press

Automated gunshot detection is coming to Fayetteville. The community is split on whether it’s the right fit for the city  (December)

Cynthia Leeks, 60, lives in a neighborhood off the Murchison Road Corridor in Fayetteville. She moved back to the area five years ago to be close to her aging parents. She is now the secretary of her local neighborhood watch. She loves her neighborhood, she said, even though it’s in a city where gun violence is commonplace. Even with the violence, Leeks doesn’t want police officers knocking on her door after a ShotSpotter gunshot alert has been sent to them.

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