Watching Your Wallet: Don’t break your gift budget this holiday season

  Cashing in on Charity: Donations meant to help sick children, wounded veterans, abused animals instead benefit for-profit fundraisers

  Lead character in Dark Waters has ties to Wilmington

  Honor student on chronically late school bus failing first period math

  Seizing the Opportunity: WECT Investigates Opportunity Zones in the Cape Fear region

Missed Opportunity: Federal initiative meant to help poor neighborhoods benefits the rich

Continued Coverage

  School bus driver shortage making some students late for class

  Hidden Damage: Wrecked, flooded border patrol truck sold at dealership without damage declared

  Addicted: Part Three - Road to Recovery

‘Inappropriate touching’ allegations against NHCS teacher: no charges, but questions remain

Former NHCS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Holliday files response to civil suit over Michael Kelly assaults

  Mother upset with Pender County Schools after six-year-old sexually assaulted on school bus

  Fake Filters? Made-up addresses, strange receipts and copycat websites reveal knock-offs on the market

After several strange clues, a Michigan father questions whether his water filters are authentic. Experts say counterfeit filters are a growing problem in the United States.

  Parent refiles retaliation complaint following superintendent’s suspension

The parent of a former Hoggard High School student has refiled a retaliation complaint with the New Hanover County School Board. This comes just days after the school board suspended Superintendent Tim Markley for retaliating against another parent, Dr. Clyde Edgerton, in an unrelated incident.

  Total PFAS concentration in Cape Fear River before 2017 nearly 1,000 times more than “health goal” level of GenX, study shows

A recently published study shows the total concentration of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the Cape Fear River before 2017 was nearly 1,000 times more than the state’s recommended “health goal” level for GenX.

  Addicted: Part Two - Coping with an Enduring Epidemic

By some measures, trends related to the opioid crisis seem to be improving, but experts warn there is a long way to go.

  Watching Your Wallet: Student loan debt reaches all-time high

  DEQ release results of PFAS testing in groundwater wells

  Addicted: Origins of an Epidemic

  CFPUA confirms 1,4-dioxane found in raw water for fourth time this year

  NHC Compost facility will test samples for PFAS levels

  Internal watchdog to evaluate EPA’s implementation of order allowing Chemours to manufacture GenX

  WECT INVESTIGATES: Potential impacts for employees’ pensions if NHRMC is sold

While county and hospital officials have assured employees their pensions will be protected, many NHRMC employees remain unconvinced, concerned in part by the actions of other hospital systems in the state, and lawsuits filed against them.

  A closer look at transparency concerns with possible NHRMC sale

It was a tumultuous week for members of the New Hanover County Commission, leadership of New Hanover Regional Medical Center and the thousands of people who work at or utilize the county’s largest employer.

  Investigation reveals ‘no evidence’ county manager sexually harassed employee

An investigation into sexual harassment claims against Columbus County Manager Mike Stephens “revealed no evidence confirming the substance of the complaint,” according to county attorney Amanda Prince.

  Commissioner: Behind-the-scenes research on hospital sale happened months before public informed

One day after a divided New Hanover County commission voted in favor of an “intent to sell” resolution for the county-owned hospital, WECT is learning more about behind-the-scenes dealings that were apparently going on for months before the public was made aware of the possible sale.

  WECT Investigates: Avoiding post-storm scams

Red flags to watch for and tips for how to avoid falling victim to post-storm scams.

  CFPUA board approves contract for construction of GAC filters

A $35.9 million contract to build eight new granular activated carbon (GAC) filters at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant was approved by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board on Wednesday.

  Chemours releases new plan to reduce PFAS in the Cape Fear River

Chemours has submitted an update on its PFAS reduction efforts in the Cape Fear River.

  Cautionary tales from other markets as county considers sale of NHRMC

Since many of you are trying to understand the potential impacts of a sale without a lot of time before commissioners vote on exploring a sale, WECT has researched some of the potential hospital buyers, along with a few cautionary tales about hospital systems in other North Carolina markets.

  Wilmington company under investigation by Attorney General appears out of business

The DTopp website is down, the owners phone number is disconnected, and the Better Business Bureau lists the company as out of business.

  Still no law requiring fingerprint background checks for teachers in N.C. public schools

Despite public outcry, state lawmakers have failed again and again to pass legislation requiring fingerprint-level background checks for all job candidates applying to work in public schools.

  State walks-back classifying Cape Fear River as swamp, city looks to continue water quality improvement effort

River advocates are pleased with the result.

  Former NHCS employee had history of alleged violent sexual assaults against women before he was hired

Former New Hanover County Schools employee Nicholas Oates was repeatedly arrested for violent and sexual assaults against women, that much is a matter of public record. Why the details of those arrests have disappeared – and why they didn’t show up on his background check – remains unclear.

  Measure of Hate documentary explores the undercounting of crimes in America

InvestigateTV shows issues with undercounting hate crimes, including the FBI failing to meet a federal mandate to report. After months of reporting on this issue, this documentary also highlights results of the investigation, including police departments amending their records.

Abuse of Power: WECT Investigates risks seniors face with powers of attorney

While these strongly-worded, legally-binding documents can help seniors keep their affairs in order, they also include significant risk.

  New details after mayor’s son walks free in child porn plea deal

Justin Brochure's sentence is a stark contrast with other child pornography cases, including the recent sentencing of 27-year-old Brenan West, who will serve at least 10 years in prison, despite facing fewer chargers than Brochure.

  Watching Your Wallet: Decade-by-decade, experts help you save for retirement

By retirement, financial experts say you should have at least eight times your annual salary saved up. NerdWallet explains how to get there, decade-by-decade.

  WECT Investigates: Knowing your daycare

A WECT review of all daycares in our five county viewing area uncovered 23 facilities had administrative actions taken against them by the state in the past three years.

  Chemours to fund soil sampling in several counties

Starting Monday and continuing through Aug. 2, Chemours will be gathering soil samples to test for levels of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including GenX.

  New Hanover school employees that are fired, even convicted of felonies, still eligible for retirement benefits

It does not matter if an employee is convicted of a felony that isn't related to their work. A teacher could traffic heroin, burn down a house, or even commit murder -- if the crime isn't directly related to their job, then it doesn't affect benefits.

  Fake Filters? Companies falsely claim to have prestigious water safety certification

With water quality and safety concerns across the country, many families are turning to water filters. But there are counterfeit filters and filters carrying fake certification marks.

  WECT Investigates: Judge’s order blocks man from filing ‘frivolous’ lawsuits

Calvin Norton has sued local officials so many times in lawsuits deemed “frivolous” by a judge, that he has effectively had his right to sue in state court revoked. But that hasn’t stopped the Columbus County man.

  Untested Waters: Feds take small steps toward inspecting more seafood

The FDA has a new strategy for imported food safety, and Congress has increased seafood inspection funds. But the U.S. still lags behind some other countries when it comes to inspections and regulations.

  Attorneys exploring evidence for civil suit following teacher sex crime scandal

Two Wilmington law firms have announced they are investigating evidence for a possible civil lawsuit against New Hanover County Schools, after a recent scandal involving students being abused by their teacher.

  NC compost rules are up for re-adoption, no mention of PFAS

North Carolina’s compost rules are due for a re-adoption and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is allowing the public to express their thoughts.

  WECT Investigates: Oak Island property owners battle town over flooding issues

In Oak Island, 2018's record-setting rainfall exposed and exacerbated ongoing issues with the town’s stormwater system that are still in the process of being fixed.

Watching Your Wallet: Experts say to shop around for the best deals on car insurance and cell phone plans

A NerdWallet financial expert offers tips on saving money on car insurance and cell phone bills: Watch this and don't pay for what you don't need.

  Hope and a plan: Bladen County looks to repair White Oak Dike

Nine months later, the breaches in the dike remain mostly untouched — leaving the community vulnerable to future flooding.

  Criminal investigation underway into Kelly’s claim schools knew about suspected sex crimes against students

Law enforcement has been investigating claims raised by a former teacher now convicted of sex crimes against students that New Hanover County school administrators knew about claims he’d been sexually inappropriate with his students, and failed to report the allegations.

  Bogus applications plaguing NC college campuses, pose security risk

It appears that many of these bogus applications are not coming from real people, but bad actors in other countries making up fake identities. They are using those fake names to pose as college applicants, hoping to be issued a student email account.

Latest test results show spike in PFAS level in Cape Fear River

Raw water sampled June 3 showed total PFAS at 262 parts per trillion (ppt).

  Columbus County manager accused of sexual harassment by employee

According to the timeline provided by Bowen in a letter to commissioners, she had a series of disturbing interactions involving County Manager Mike Stephens that she says began in January of this year.

  Why alligators with orange heads are showing up around the Cape Fear region

If you take a walk around Greenfield Lake, or any spot alligators tend to frequent in the Cape Fear, you may notice many have orange markings on their heads.

  City spends $500K to settle lawsuit after questionable arrest on child rape allegations

The criminal charges against James Bader were leveled in the midst of a bitter child custody battle, and were later dismissed due to lack of evidence to warrant prosecution.

  Two years later, where do we stand on GenX?

It has been two years since news broke of GenX found in the drinking water. This unknown contaminant sparked fear and outrage across the Cape Fear. Two years, countless meetings, protests, water samples, and lawsuits later, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says the water is far safer to drink

  WECT Investigates: Medicaid and ER visits — a look at expenses, expansion

As lawmakers battle over the state budget in Raleigh, arguably the biggest sticking point between the two political parties is Medicaid expansion.

  State elections board issues order in Columbus County Sheriff dispute, parties plan appeals

The North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) has formally issued its findings in the case of the disputed sheriff election in Columbus County.

  Prison administrator’s ‘inaccurate’ documentation increased risk for vehicle misuse, audit finds

A state prison administrator racked up at least 2,800 unaccounted miles during a three-year period, paving the way for potential misuse, a report released by North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood on Tuesday found.

Watching Your Wallet: Spring housing market secrets revealed

Want to get top dollar for your home this spring? Or are you looking to buy your first home? NerdWallet gives tips for those on both sides of the equation.

  WECT Investigates: Allegations of mismanagement renewed as Yahweh Center bankruptcy case continues

More than two and a half years after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the Yahweh Center Children’s Village is still mired in litigation, and court documents indicate the mismanagement of the nonprofit’s finances may have been going on for decades.

More filters targeting PFAS part of CFPUA’s 10-year capital improvement plan

The addition of eight filters to remove man-made chemical compounds in the water at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant is part of the 10-year capital improvement plan approved by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board on Wednesday.

State officials require towns to monitor emerging compounds in Cape Fear River Basin

As part of its strategy to address compounds in surface water and biosolids, state environmental officials are requiring towns in the Cape Fear River Basin to monitor emerging compounds beginning this summer.

  DNA Detectives: Scientists combining forensics with genealogy break ‘unsolvable’ cases

Scientists are using forensic genetics to help solve decades-old cold cases.

  Election deception: WECT Investigates spillover of absentee ballot irregularities in Columbus County

The ties between Bladen and Columbus counties run deep, and in 2018, they shared the symptoms of absentee ballot irregularities.

  Industry experts concerned with local handyman’s work: ‘He could potentially kill someone’

Officials are concerned that a man repairing chimneys in and around Wilmington is doing dangerous modifications, and putting people at risk. The handyman posted dozens of videos of his repair work online the president of a nationwide chimney sweep group says the work is so faulty it's dangerous.

  Town of Belville appeals judge’s decision on H2GO

Commissioners voted 3-2 at a meeting Monday night to appeal Superior Court Judge Charles Henry’s decision that the previous H2GO Board of Commissioners’ decision to dissolve the authority and convey its assets to the Town of Belville is “unlawful, void and of no effect.”

  Failed and Forgotten

The deaths of hundreds of children because of abuse or neglect goes unnoticed every year by agencies that protect kids. Congress and a 45-year-old law are largely to blame.

  A trifecta of failures puts kids at risk

When children die because of abuse or neglect, child protection agencies are often blamed – they are underfunded and overworked. But there are many other culprits who failed children.

  Digital rollbacks: Millions of cars have false mileage on odometers

Carfax experts say there are potentially more than one million cars on the roads with false odometer readings - meaning their mileage has been rolled back to make the vehicles look like they have less wear and tear.

  Utility documents list acting sheriff’s purported residence as commercial account with cow barn

Documents subpoenaed from Duke Energy shed new light on concerns that acting Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene may not have lived in the county prior to his election as required by state law. The documents also indicate there has been an address change on the account.

Attorney issues statement on class action lawsuit against Chemours

According to Ted Leopold, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, the federal judge’s move is another step in the right direction.

  Drain on the system: Stormwater infrastructure in focus in the wake of Florence

As development continues, the stormwater system will be subjected to greater and greater pressure, and experts say the importance of intentional management will have long-term effects on both the environment and quality of life for city residents.

  CFPUA welcomes newly introduced Gen X-related bill

CFPUA is welcoming Senate Bill 518, a newly introduced piece of legislation that would set new standards for Gen X and other similar compounds in the state’s water supply.

Proposed Gen X-related bill would target Chemours, form task force

Ambitious new legislation would set new standards for Gen X and other similar compounds in the state’s water supply.

No PFAS found in drinking water at CFPUA plant but some detected in three wells

On March 27, CFPUA sampled finished water at three wells — two serving the plant and an emergency well that doesn't provide drinking water — in an effort to monitor potential movement of PFAS compounds that have been detected in and near an aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) well.

Watching Your Wallet: Experts give advice on reining in your tax refund

Rather than taking a tax refund check and splurging on a quick shopping spree, NerdWallet advises people make smart spending – or saving - plans.

  Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen approve conditions of water agreement with CFPUA

The agreement calls for CFPUA to provide as much as 45 million gallons of water to the town each year to supplement its regular groundwater supply.

  Wrightsville Beach races to supplement water supply before summer rush after contaminated well shut down

One of Wrightsville Beach's most productive water wells has been shut down since January because of chemical contamination.

CFPUA staff gets OK to move forward with Sweeney Plant upgrades

The CFPUA board unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday that authorizes Executive Director Jim Flechtner to complete design and permitting for the project as well as obtain bond funding and construction bids.