The Soles Saga Continues…

We’ve been doing our best to stay on top of this Tabor City debacle…it hasn’t been easy. For one thing…Tabor City isn’t exactly right around the corner. In addition, we’ve yet to find credible whistle blower to give credible information that connects all the dots.

As you’ve seen, we’ve tried to speak directly with Soles and with the young men involved. Soles has done two interviews with us and so has Strickland. B.J. Wright tried to scare reporter Lynda Figueredo off his property, then changed his mind and did an off-camera interview. B.J. told Lynda that it was Kyle Blackburn who was about to assault the Senator Sunday evening. Yesterday, Lynda went to find Blackburn…

It wasn’t clear where Blackburn lived, the police report had an old address on it. Lynda and Chief Photog Ryan Koresko asked neighbors around Tabor City if they knew where to find Blackburn. Ryan says there was STEEP tension. Everyone brushed them off, told them to go away…get off their property. The stress is high in this community which may show just how much of a presence Soles has.

Soles, his family…and the family money…is deeply entrenched in this community. Soles is quite open about his desire to financially help many of these families. When we spoke with Strickland, we asked him if he had any plans to get a job. He replied, “No, because he’s (Soles) always been there for me.” 

Lynda eventually tracked down Kyle Blackburn yesterday. He lives in a new trailor in the middle of an overgrown patch of land. He was with his girlfriend who we have reason to believe was also with these boys on Sunday when they kicked down the door of Soles’ home.

Much of the dialogue between Lynda and Blackburn happened through his closed front door. He made a very blunt comment to Lynda about how…er…”appealing” he found her. If I give any more details I’ll probably get in trouble…it wasn’t exactly an appropriate comment…

That was about the extent of the interaction. He yelled to her that B.J. was lying. He never came outside.

We hoped to get more from the District Attorney Rex Gore. This case is in the hands of the State Bureau of Investigation which closes up much of our access to information. But SOME comment? ANYTHING? Nope! We got an email from Gore that he will have no further comment…

(**reporters grit teeth in frustration**)

The saga continues…

Swine Flu at UNCW?

There has been concern over an alleged swine flu (H1N1) outbreak on UNCW’s campus.

 WECT has received numerous phone calls of worry that cases of infected students are multiplying through the dorms and classrooms. This morning I spoke with a staff member of their student medical center who clarified the situation. Indeed they have seen a recent uptick in the number of students coming down with a “bug.” Something “going around” is not uncommon at the start of a school year with so many new students sharing rooms, bathrooms, books, etc. However, the University did say that what seems to be “going around” appears to pack a punch.

So is it the dreaded swine flu?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The Center for Disease control has recommended that health care professionals stop testing for H1N1. The virus is NO more severe than traditional flu. In fact, over 13,000 people die every year from flu….swine flu has proven itself far more innocuous than its yearly counterpart. Testing is expensive and ultimately both types of flu are handled the same way. Testing is racking up major bill$ for health care providers and whatever the result is…patients are treated the same.

For the calls we have received claiming that swine flu is spreading throughout campus…that can simply not be the case unless a student has been hospitalized, admitted tested and confirmed….by the STATE. UNCW has not diagnosed anyone with swine flu because they are not testing for it. They are treating any sick kids as though they had flu with the necessary remedy: rest, isolation…time.

Isolation may be the hardest part of clearing out whatever is “going around” at UNCW. Dorm rooms don’t exactly allot space. The University says they highly recommend staying home from classes and doing your best to keep to yourself. Cough into your sleeve and WASH YOUR HANDS. Honestly, I started a 30 second hot soapy water regime a few years ago (and repeat throughout the day) and I RARELY get sick.

So hear ye, hear ye. If you hear rumors of rampant outbreaks of swine flu…unless that person went to the hospital…you cannot confirm that they have it. Lets not create hysteria. If anyone has more information or questions get in touch with us.

 

Casey Roman

WECT Investigative Reporter

croman@wect.com

News Room: (910) 791.6681 http://www.wect.com http://www.wsfx.com

Homeless Camp

This is the kind of story that begs for a follow-up…which meant that I was headed back into the woods…

The homeless camp that the WPD discovered off Carolina Beach road isn’t exactly easy to find. You have to know exactly what you’re looking for.

Lynda Figueredo first covered the story. She came back half eaten alive by mosquitoes and with a welt from a large spider bite.

Yours truly covered both follow-ups and of course they happened to occur on the days that I chosen to wear heels and a skirt…

My first trek into the woods was with Larry Ventura who you again saw on last night’s report. Larry contacted WECT weeks ago when the story broke and said that he wanted to help owner Sharon Efrid put her property back together. He said that he “helped people who tried to help themselves.”

Larry is a long shoreman from California who says his personal equipment list includes tractors and large construction trucks. He’s experienced in heavy-duty work but as we made our way through the property…he was surprised to see just what he had signed himself up for.

Once you clear the initial brush, you enter into what looks like a little colony. There are clearly staked “plots” of land, each with its own tent set-up. Every area has a hanging teddy bear posted out front which I can only imagine is some sort of territory marker. They’re actually pretty creepy.

There’s trash everywhere and large piles of beer cans. Oddly, many of the campsites had electronics that were either just stolen goods…or an attempt at making things look more “homey.” What good is a t.v. set and an sewing machine going to do you out in the woods without any electricity?? Otherwise there was much of what you might expect: mattresses, plates, old couches and even a designated washing (and wasting) area downstream.

There was no one on-site the two times I visited…except for the ENORMOUS spiders that live there. An important note: I have severe arachnophobia.

The first time Larry and I went, he said he could have the entire place cleared by the August 10th deadline under one condition…he wanted $4,000 from anyone to give to the homeless people who would be displaced by the demolition. I reminded him that the people who had set-up camp there were trespassing. He agreed that they were in the wrong but said that homeless ‘issue’ would never get better if they just keep getting displaced.

That story aired but I never heard from Sharon as to whether or not she wanted to accept his help. Larry was persistent so I contacted Sharon a few weeks later and she said she would agree to meet him at the site.

That was what you saw in yesterday’s report.

More details came out when we talked with Larry yesterday which made the agreement a hard sell for Sharon. He said that he would still need the $4,000 but it would now be to cover his crew and equipment. That price is what you might expect from a private hauler and its one that Sharon can simply not afford.

Sharon said she felt that the people who caused this mess should be the ones to clean it up. Apparently some of them were taken to jail. She says they should have been taken right back to the property and told to get to work.

She was less than thrilled to hear that Larry’s crew was made up of homeless men. Larry says that those men are part of a ‘program’ where they “sign out” to come work with him. He did not elaborate on this arrangement. As you can imagine, Sharon is not feeling very agreeable towards the homeless and is currently in no mood to offer them daily pay. She’s concerned she’ll pay them once and never see them again.

There is just one week until her deadline. Sharon knows she can’t be too picky but it seemed that Larry’s price and crew just wasn’t what she wanted.

As you saw, they ended with a handshake but no final deals. She told me that until the surveyors confirm exactly what is and is NOT her property she’s not moving a thing (otherwise she may be paying to clear out someone ELSE’S land).

I spoke with them both today. Larry wanted to head over this morning and get to work but when I talked to Sharon she expressed her gratitude towards him, but said the price was just too high.

I’ll be in touch with her and you’ll likely see an update on the deadline, August 10th.