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State Government
Commissioner of Banks Ray Grace Confirmed For Another 4-Year Term PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:02

The General Assembly unanimously approved Governor Roy Cooper’s reappointment of Grace to another term as Commissioner of Banks. House Joint Resolution 147 sets Grace’s term through March 31, 2023.

“I am grateful to Governor Cooper and members of the General Assembly for their support,” said Ray Grace.  “The opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of our great state, and to help retain North Carolina’s traditional place as a leader in banking and financial regulation, is a great honor.”

Grace’s initiatives include growing de novo banking and encouraging innovation in financial services. Within the past year, the agency has seen an increased interest from the business community in forming new banks and has approved two applications. Also, Grace was involved in helping North Carolina become the first state to pass legislation related to money transmission and virtual currency.

Grace has served at the N.C. Office of the Commissioner of Banks (NCCOB) for almost 45 years. He helped charter 95 de novo banks in North Carolina. He also served as the state banking representative to the Federal Financial Stability Oversight Council (2016-2018) and has served on the board of directors and in various capacities at the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, a national organization representing state financial regulators.  

Grace joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966, served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968, and was honorably discharged in 1969. He graduated from Niagara University, Niagara Falls, New York, in December 1973, with a B.S. in Commerce, and began his career at NCCOB in July 1974.

NCCOB is responsible for the chartering and regulation of North Carolina's state banks, thrift institutions, and nondepository trust companies.  NCCOB also regulates other financial services firms and individuals operating in North Carolina, including mortgage brokers, mortgage lenders, mortgage servicers, mortgage loan originators, check cashers, consumer finance companies, money transmitters, and refund anticipation loan facilitators. NCCOB is funded by industry fees and assessments and not taxpayer dollars.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:07
Growing Number of North Carolina Teens at Risk of Addiction to Nicotine, Study Finds PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 14:58
High school students are at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, a fact confirmed by a North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services analysis of vaping devices confiscated from students at seven schools in various parts of the state.
Nicotine — the addictive drug found in cigarettes — was present in 85 percent of e-cigarette and vaping devices and containers analyzed by the department’s State Laboratory of Public Health found. However, youth are not always aware that e-cigarettes and vaping devices contain nicotine. A U.S. Monitoring the Future Study (2018) found that 11.5 percent of 8th–12th graders perceive they are “only vaping flavors” with no nicotine, and this percent increases with age. A Truth Initiative Study (2018) found that 63 percent of Juul users (age 15-24) did not know these products always contained nicotine.
For the last four years, e-cigarettes have been the most frequently used tobacco products among students in North Carolina. From 2011 to 2017, e-cigarette use by high school students increased nearly 900 percent with 16.9 percent reporting e-cigarette use in 2017. Among middle school students, e-cigarette use increased by over 400 percent from 2011 to 2017. Use of e-cigarettes by students while in school poses health and safety risks and violates established tobacco-free school policies in North Carolina.
“The rise in use of e-cigarettes by youth is alarming,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer for DHHS. “We now have a new generation of youth at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine and they may not even know it. The use of nicotine by school-age children is a concern because human brain development continues to age 25. Early exposure to nicotine can negatively impact brain development, attention, learning and memory. It also can prime the brain for future addiction.”
Conducted by the State Laboratory of Public Health in partnership with the Division of Public Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch and the NC Department of Public Instruction, the study found that of the 76 devices confiscated by schools, 33 (43 percent) were Juuls. Commercially sold Juul pods sold at that time are equal to about two packs of cigarettes. Products like Juul resemble flash media drives used for storing and sharing files on computers. Due to increasing use by youth, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein launched an investigation into Juul marketing practices last year.
Additionally, most e-liquids tested were flavored. The Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams have voiced concern that candy-flavored vaping products are particularly enticing to middle school and high school students. 
While the FDA has authority over these products, according to the current FDA time-line, the products themselves would not begin to become fully regulated until August 2022.
QuitlineNC is North Carolina’s tobacco cessation program, which can help people quit e-cigarettes as well as other tobacco products. For free help to quit, call 1-800-QuitNow (1-800-784-8669) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
Fishermen Get $7.2 Million For Hurricane Florence Relief PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 14:54
The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Marine Fisheries, under the Hurricane Florence Commercial Fishing Assistance Program, distributed 1,002 checks totaling $7,231,500 are going to fishermen to help compensate for October and November harvest reductions due to Hurricane Florence.
“When the storm hit, coastal communities suffered tremendous damage to homes, businesses, schools and their entire economy,” Governor Cooper said. “Helping the commercial fishing industry recover is critical for the people and places who rely on it for their livelihood, and these funds are an important boost.”
The program is designed to help make up for losses to the state’s nearly billion-dollar commercial fishing industry due to the storm and is part of a package of Hurricane Florence relief efforts Governor Cooper signed into law on December 3, 2018. 
The first round of checks to fisherman went out in February and included 678 checks totaling more than $3.2 million to help compensate fishermen for reductions in the September harvest. See the total number of checks and amount by county for both rounds of payments HERE.
Distribution of the money is based on reported commercial fishing landings in September, October, and November 2018 as compared to the same months in 2015, 2016, 2017. The state collects records of all marine fish and shellfish sold at North Carolina docks.
Hurricane Florence severely disrupted North Carolina’s commercial fishing industry throughout the fall of 2018. The storm’s historic rainfall and powerful winds destroyed boats, gear and buildings critical to fishing businesses.
As a result of the storm, Gov. Cooper sought and also won a federal disaster declaration for the state’s marine fishing industry. That designation can assist with additional relief for commercial fishing families struggling to make a living while repairing their businesses.
According to the state Division of Marine Fisheries, the North Carolina commercial fishing industry generated more than $96 million in revenue in 2017. 
Cooper Names Judges PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 14:52
Governor Cooper announced three judicial appointments to Judicial Districts 29A, 29B, and 3B, which cover McDowell, Rutherford, Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania Counties in the western part of the state and Craven, Carteret, and Pamlico Counties in the east. 
"These experienced attorneys bring valuable knowledge of the law and their communities to the bench, and I’m thankful for their willingness to serve North Carolina,” said Gov. Cooper.
Gov. Cooper appointed Ellen Shelley of Marion as District Court Judge in Judicial District 29A, serving McDowell and Rutherford counties. Shelley will fill the vacancy created by the Honorable Laura Powell when she resigned to take a position as the District 29A public defender. Since 2014, Shelley has been a partner of Evans & Shelley PA, practicing civil, criminal, and family law. She also serves on the board of directors for multiple community boards. Shelley received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Carolina and her Juris Doctor from the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama.
Gov. Cooper appointed Kimberly Gasperson-Justice of Hendersonville as District Court Judge in Judicial District 29B, serving Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania counties. Gasperson-Justice will fill the vacant seat previously held by the Honorable Peter Knight, now a Superior Court Judge in District 29B. Gasperson-Justice has served as the Clerk of Superior Court in Henderson County since 2006 and has nearly 17 years of experience in private practice. She is also a retired Major in the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps. Gasperson-Justice received her Bachelor of Arts from Mars Hill College and her Juris Doctor from Campbell University School of Law.
Gov. Cooper appointed Bob R. Cherry of Newport as District Court Judge in Judicial District 3B, serving Craven, Carteret, and Pamlico counties. Cherry will fill the vacant seat previously held by the Honorable Paul Quinn, who is now a Superior Court Judge in District 3B.   Cherry founded Bob R. Cherry, PLLC, until becoming Assistant District Attorney in Prosecutorial District 3B. He previously served as an adjunct professor for the University of Central Florida’s Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Department. Cherry received his Associates Degree from Daytona Beach Community College, his Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Central Florida, and his Juris Doctor from the University of Florida College of Law. 

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