CPP logo The year 2022 took the nation through many economic, legislative and political twists and turns and North Carolina marched in step.

The state started the year with a winter storm that dropped as much as five inches of snow across central NC; 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 Governor 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, North Carolina 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 gained a congressional seat, sitting congressman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) lost the 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 alignment with Carolina Public Press’ mission. We also took into consideration the readership of each of these stories. They have been arranged chronologically.

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.
Now, they’re trying to apply that theory again with a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, this time over a disagreement with the other branch of government, the state courts.

7 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.

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 DSS 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.

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.

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.

8 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.

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.

81 ‘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.

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.

 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.

 Editor's note: Carolina Public Press is an independent nonprofit news organization dedicated to nonpartisan, in-depth and investigative news built upon the facts and context North Carolinians need to know. Their award-winning, breakthrough journalism dismantles barriers and shines a light on the critical overlooked and under-reported issues facing the state’s 10.4 million residents.
Ben Sessoms covers local government in eastern North Carolina, primarily in Cumberland County and the surrounding region. He can be reached at bsessoms@carolinapublicpress.org or 828-774-5290 extension 414.

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