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14-year-old shot at Patton Circle

A 14-year-old boy was seriously injured in a shooting off of Patton Circle near Pitt Community College, the Greenville Police Department reported on Monday.

The incident occurred about 10:45 p.m. Sunday in a parking lot. Deputy Chief Ted Sauls said the department received a call that multiple shots had been fired in the 700 block. Shortly after, a caller reported someone had been struck by gunfire.

Several apartment buildings line Patton Circle, which sits behind a Taco Bell and a Country Inn & Suites. The boy was able to seek help at a an apartment in the neighborhood, Sauls said.

It is unknown if the boy was with anyone else at the time of the shooting but he was by himself when police and first responders arrived. He did not live in the neighborhood and the motive of the shooting is unknown at this time, Sauls said.

He was taken to Vidant Medical Center for a life-threatening gunshot wound. His mother told Sauls prior to Monday’s news conference that her son was stable.

Sauls said he does not know where the victim was shot or how many times. At this time it is unknown if the shooting was targeted or accidental. Greenville Fire-Rescue also responded to the scene, he said.

“Often times in a shooting incident it may look one way initially because of the injury and later you find out it was completely different than what you were originally thinking,” Sauls said.

A public safety camera in Patton Circle will be used to identify what vehicles were coming and going in the neighborhood around the time of the shooting. All public safety cameras in Greenville will also be used by detectives.

Sauls said there is no reason to believe there is any ongoing danger in the Patton Circle community.

Police declined to identify the boy or where he lives to help ensure his safety.

Sauls asked anyone with information to call the police department or Pitt-Greenville Crime-Stoppers at 252-758-7777. A $2,500 reward is available for information that leads to an arrest.

Backers still hopeful of luring second airline to Greenville

A second airline is interested in Greenville but only if assistance is available to offset the costs associated with launching a new route, the executive director of the Pitt-Greenville Airport said.

Bill Hopper said the airport needs the community’s help in guaranteeing that local support, including money, will be available if the airport secures a grant to help bring a new airline to the community.

Hopper presented details about efforts to secure the airline at Monday’s Pitt County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The airport is applying for a Small Community Air Service Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant helps communities improve air service by offering money to help airlines with start-up costs. The grant also would help fund a marketing program and guarantee the airline revenue during the start-up phase.

The airport previously has applied for the grant and been unsuccessful, but Hopper believes this application cycle will be different.

“One of the big differences we have this time that we haven’t had in the past is we have a letter of support from an airline,” he said.

Hopper said he cannot identify the airline but it’s a carrier with a major hub in Washington, D.C., that has multiple direct routes across the United States and numerous overseas connections.

American Airlines has been a great airline, Hopper said, but its Charlotte hub doesn’t have the international connectivity that businesses in this area want.

Along with the support of a second airline, Hopper said the transportation department is looking for local support.

The airport’s board of directors has agreed to appropriate $100,000 for a marketing campaign to promote the arrival of a second airline. Numerous entities, along with private industry, also have agreed to raise between $250,000-$300,000 to match the $750,000 in grant funding the airport hopes to receive.

The $750,000 will be split, so $100,000 would go to marketing. The remaining $650,000 will be combined with the local money to fund revenue guarantees — paying for seats that are not filled as the new airline builds its presence in Greenville, Hopper said.

“Whenever an airline comes into a new market they are taking on risk,” Hopper said. “They don’t meet revenue targets they are looking for, so this mitigates their risk.”

It costs an airline about $3 million to provide service in a new community. Hopper said the goal is to have an airline make two trips daily out of Greenville to Washington, D.C.

Hopper did caution that just because an airline is supporting the grant application doesn’t mean it is agreeing to provide the service. The airline is simply stating they are interested in providing the service, Hopper said.

If a grant is given and the airline decides against servicing Greenville, the money can be used to attract another airline that meets local parameters, namely a company with a Washington hubs and numerous international flights.

“This is about as good as it gets,” Hopper said. “The potential here in this area is great. It’s a very underserved market and a very exciting time to get this service.”

GPV still has sights on second carrier

Pitt-Greenville Airport learned in February it received a grant to underwrite the costs of bringing a second airline to the community. Then COVID-19 struck and the need for air service plummeted.

Across the world, thousands of flights were canceled while thousands more aircraft flew with almost empty cabins.

In mid-May business publications reported airlines were shutting down in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Columbia had either shut down, declared bankruptcy or suspended operations.

While daily flights out of Pitt-Greenville Airport dropped from five to two round-trips daily, airport executive director Bill Hopper remains optimistic that a second airline can be secured.

“It definitely has not put our options on that to a halt,” Hopper said. “Nobody knows what is happening in the airline industry. When things start moving again there are thoughts that maybe some of the airlines will be looking to lower risk options. Having a grant like that positions us well with a lower risk option.”

The $750,000 Small Commuter Service Development Program grant the airport received from the U.S. Department of Transportation mitigates the financial risk associated with initiating new air service.

The majority, $650,000, will be combined with the local money to fund revenue guarantees — paying for seats that are not filled as the new airline builds its presence in Greenville. The local business community agreed to fund up to $300,000 in the risk mitigation effort. The remaining $100,000 would be used for to marketing.

The goal is to bring in an airline that would fly to Washington D.C. and connect with domestic and international flights.

Hopper received notification earlier this week that the deadline for spending the grant has been extended three years, to January 2028, giving the industry time to adapt and find its equilibrium.

“Things are starting to pick up a bit. I would say that right now we have at least one arrival and one departure a day where we are seeing 80 percent full, which is good,” Hopper said.

The other arrival and departure, depending on the day of the week, have fewer passengers, he said.

“We continue to work hard to get this airport back to normal activity,” Hopper said. “We’re seeing growth every day. Fuel sales are up. Passengers numbers are up. Operations activity, flight instruction is starting to pick up. Our hope is we’ll continue to see this increase in activity.”

Residents meeting to discuss proposed rules for private schools and their facilities

A discussion about city code changes involving the regulation of private schools and associated facilities is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today in the Greenville City Council chambers.

The meeting is one of the first in-person sessions held by the city since large gatherings were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Government-sponsored events are exempt from the governor’s order limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people or less.

Greenville’s Chief Planner Chantae Gooby said the city will practice social distancing during the session. Seating in the council chambers is limited to about 40 people. The third floor city hall gallery is being set up so the overflow crowd can watch the meeting. That space can accommodate 20 people. Staff will bring individuals from that area into the council chamber if they want to make comments, she said.

“We expect to have everyone who wants to be heard to have that opportunity,” Gooby said.

The session is being held at the direction of the Greenville Planning and Zoning Commission. The commission delayed action on a request to approve the private schools text amendment after a number of people living in Planter’s Walk, Planter’s Trail and Quail Ridge neighborhoods protested the proposal because it would exempt a private high school athletic complex from the special-use rules put in place when the facility was first permitted by the city.

Those rules, which included limits on lightning, restricted use of the athletic complex to events involving the high school’s team and the middle school associated with it.

In the fall, the owner of John Paul II Catholic High School’s athletic complex, Rich Balot, sought to rezone the property so the complex no longer would be governed by the special-use permit.

He withdrew the request after neighbors protested and a planning and zoning commission member sympathized with the neighbors.

If adopted, the text amendment would govern how private schools would use lighting, sound, hours of operation and other associated matters.

While the proposed change would immediately affect John Paul II Catholic High School’s athletic complex, it would be applied to any current or future private school that wants to build athletic complexes or other structures.

A major complaint of people living in surrounding neighborhoods involved the text amendment’s original proposal for the use of amplified sound.

The first proposal would permit its use seven days a week. Depending on the day, amplified sound could run from 11 to 15 hours.

An opponent who spoke during the May planning and zoning commission meeting, said the usages time equals 87.5 hours out of a 168-hour week.

When Balot applied for the rezoning change, he said he wanted to give area youth teams a place to practice. He said he did not plan to profit from outside usage. He said he eventually plans to give the complex to the high school.

During the May meeting on the proposed text amendment, Gray Williams, executive director of the Greenville-Pitt County Sports Commission, supported the amendment, saying the complex “would also help us to expand the scope of the existing tournaments we are currently facilitating.”

The goal of tonight’s meeting is to reach a compromise on the amendment’s language. The planning and zoning commission is scheduled to revisit the request at its July 21 meeting.

New data detail June virus spikes in Pitt

A new report shows Pitt County averaged more than 12 new virus cases daily in June as part of a marked uptick since the state’s reopening. Another report detailed a virus outbreak at a Greenville child care center.

Pitt County also saw 22 new virus cases over the weekend, bringing the cumulative total from 635 on Friday to 657 on Monday, according to figures released by the Pitt County Health Department. Six people have died from the virus and 473 have recovered, the department reports.

The department on Friday updated its report listing the number of confirmed cases by the date tests were administered. The number of new cases daily began increasing after May 22, when the state’s stay-at-home order was lifted. In the first 25 days of June, a total of 321 people tested were positive, about half the total since the first cases were confirmed in March.

The total averages to nearly 13 new cases a day; before restrictions were lifted new cases averaged 3-6 a day, according to county data.

On 18 of the days between June 1-25, at least 10 people tested had positive results. The single-day high was on June 4, when 30 of the people tested were positive. Twelve people tested on June 3 were positive and 24 people tested on June 5 were positive.

The numbers were consistently high in the following days: 17 on June 6; 10 on June 8; 11 each on June 9 and 10; 12 on June 11; 22 on June 12; 19 on June 15; 12 on June 16; 19 on June 17; 20 on June 18; 19 on June 19; 11 on June 20; 17 on June 22; and 13 each on June 22 and 23.

June 14 is the only day that showed no positive test results. The remaining days showed between two and nine positive tests. The numbers could change as more tests are confirmed.

The increases are attributable in part to outbreaks at several area nursing homes and a child care center, health officials said.

A report released by the state Department of Health and Human Services on Friday offered details on a cluster reported at A Child’s Place on Moye Boulevard, whose clients include workers from nearby Vidant Medical Center.

The facility was among five listed in the state’s report on COVID-19 Ongoing Clusters in Child Care and School Settings. It said seven staff members and two children had been infected.

Pitt County Public Health Director John Silvernail reported earlier that the cluster was isolated to one wing at the facility and that all cases had been isolated.

The state report released Friday on congregate living settings showed no changes for Pitt County, which has ongoing outbreaks at four facilities:

  • One staff and two residents at Ayden Court Nursing and Rehabilitation.
  • Eighteen staff and 42 residents at East Carolina Rehab and Wellness.
  • Six staff at PruittHealth–Farmville.
  • Two staff and nine residents at Care One Assisted Living of Greenville.

Updated reports on child care facilities and nursing homes are due out today. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported on Monday that 1,342 more people statewide tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 63,484 laboratory confirmed cases since March.

DHHS reported 1,605 new cases on Sunday, 1,719 on Saturday and 1,635 on Friday. Friday’s total was the fourth highest one-day total on record. Previous highs were 1,768 on June 12, 1,652 on June 19 and 1,172 on Wednesday.

The state said that 45,538 people were believed to be recovered as of Monday. The state tallied 1,325 deaths as of Monday.

Pitt County has released little information about the six local deaths. All but one person was 65 or older and all had co-morbidities like heart condition or diabetes, officials said. None of the deaths have been linked to outbreaks at local nursing homes.

The DHHS dashboard on Monday indicated that five the people were white and one was black; three were men and three were women; one was 50-64, two were 65-74 and one was older 75 or older.

The number of people hospitalized statewide on Monday was 843, down from 890 on Sunday. A total of 888 were hospitalized on Saturday and on Friday there 892, the third-highest statewide total. Previous highs were 915 on June 19 and 906 on Wednesday. Vidant Health reported that 55 people were hospitalized in its facilities in eastern North Carolina on Monday, up from 47 on Saturday, down from a high of about 70 earlier in June.

A total of 886,305 people across the state had been tested as of Monday. The state reported that 9 percent of all tests were positive as of Friday. The positive test rate in Pitt County was 6 percent on Monday, according to the DHHS dashboard.

State health officials have reported that a large number of young people are contracting and spreading the virus. Numbers in Pitt County support that.

The DHHS dashboard on Monday reported 679 positive cases for Pitt County on Monday — 21 more than the county reported. People between 25-49 accounted for 42 percent of the total; people 50-64 made up 21 percent; 18-24 were 13 percent; and ages 65-74 were 10 percent.

White people accounted 52 percent of the total, black people 33 percent, Asian and Native American each were 1 percent and the remaining 13 percent was listed as “other.” Non Hispanics accounted for 83 of the total, while Hispanics were 17 percent.