by YES! Weekly staff

S C U T T L E B U T T : Developments across the Triad and beyond, compiled by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

Internet crimes against kids task force

A $475,960 grant from the US Department of Justice will pay for the new Piedmont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, to be led by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s offices in Forsyth, Randolph, Davidson, Rockingham and Alamance counties will also participate, according to a Nov. 24 announcement by the department. The task force involves a partnership between the sheriff’s offices, local district attorney’s offices and the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of North Carolina. According to the announcement, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office was recognized by the US Attorney’s Office for its aggressive efforts against internet sexual predators, which began with the “Apartment X” sting operation in August-October 2006. Ten suspects reportedly traveled to Guilford County for the purpose of having sex with what they believed to be a minor child, according to the announcement. Sheriff BJ Barnes, who was running for reelection in 2006, handily won his contest against Democratic challenger Berkeley Blanks. The task force warns that “when these predators who swim in the murky waters of child pornography and the internet and hided behind monitors and keyboards target North Carolina children, law enforcement will be there.” The initiative also includes a public service announcement campaign aimed at both parents and potential predators in both English and Spanish languages. — JG

New indoor football league The Texas-based Independent Indoor Football Alliance was launched last year and is expanding into North Carolina with the addition of three new indoor football teams, the High Point Renegades, the Carolina Renegades in Kernersville and the Carolina Blue Jays of Iredell County. According to the team’s website, the Renegades will play indoor home games at Proehlific Park, the Greensboro athletic park owned by former NFL wide receiver Ricky Proehl, and outdoor home games at Sutton Stadium in Kernersville. The team holds tryouts on Jan. 3. Tryouts for the High Point Ravens begin Dec. 20. The new league plans to expand to Richmond, Va., Salisbury, Md. and Savannah, Ga. next year. The last attempt at indoor football in the Triad was the Greensboro Revolution, which played home games at the Greensboro Coliseum and folded after two seasons in the summer of 2007. Owner Anthony Pewonski closed shop and disappeared, leaving several employees unpaid. The state of North Carolina’s Wage and Hour Bureau closed four wage payment cases filed by former Revolution employees after failing to resolve them. — JG Local fire departments receive grants Republican Rep. Howard Coble announced on Nov. 26 that a handful of fire department’s in North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District will receive federal grants, one from the Department of Agriculture and others from the Department of Homeland Security. The Whitsett Fire Department in Guilford County will receive $98,686 from Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program for helmets, boots, breathing devices and communications equipment. — JG

Commissioners appoint RJR executive The Forsyth County Commissioners made the first of two appointments to the board that governs and maintains Smith Reynolds Airport during the council’s regular meeting on Nov. 24. Commissioners unanimously approved the nomination of Thomas F. McKim, vice president and deputy general counsel for Reynolds American, to a three-year term on the Airport Commission. Commissioners delayed voting on nominations for a second open seat until the council’s Dec. 1 meeting. In other business, commissioners ratified the result of the Nov. 4 educational bond referendum, which passed by a 62-38 margin. The bond issue allocates $62.1 million to Forsyth Tech for expansion and renovation of existing facilities with the remainder of the funds going to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools for new buildings. — KB

Gas station agrees to refunds Shell to Go President Ramesh Acharya signed a settlement agreement with the NC Department of Justice on Nov. 24, which obligates the company to refund customers at its Mount Hope Church Road gas station in the McLeansville area of Guilford County to the tune of $2,700 and pay a $5,000 civil fine, which will go to North Carolina schools. Shell to Go is one of six gas-station companies that have signed such agreements, following investigations launched in the wake of consumer complaints that poured into the Department of Justice after North Carolina’s law against price gouging was triggered “by the declaration of an abnormal market disruption due to Hurricane Ike striking the Gulf Coast.” Attorney General Roy Cooper’s investigation “found that Shell to Go changed the price of gas sold at its station throughout the day on September 12 as much as $5.09 per gallon, and that the station overcharged consumers more than $2,700 from September 12 through September 17,” a department press release states. Under the agreement, Shell to Go will reportedly “pay refunds to any consumer who presents a receipt or other proof of purchase for regular gasoline purchased on September 12, and for mid-grade and premium gas purchased from September 12 through September 17. Consumers have 30 days to present receipts to Shell to Go.” — JG

Van driver who hit child bonded Michael Charles Parks, a 40-year-old man who had been wanted on charges of driving while intoxicated and driving while license revoked, turned himself into the Greensboro Police Department on Nov. 25, the department has announced. After driving a 1995 Chevrolet van east through a stop sign on South Lindell Road, Parks reportedly drove off the roadway and struck a boy who was playing in the creek bed. The boy is said to have sustained serious injuries; he was taken to Moses Cone hospital in Greensboro, and then to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. Parks, in turn, was taken to Wesley Long Hospital for minor injuries. Neighboring residents had complained that Parks had remained at large after the accident. Police said Parks was given a $1,500 bond. — JG

Ground to be broken for new library Mayor Yvonne Johnson and District 2 Councilwoman Goldie Wells are among those planning to attend groundbreaking on Thursday for the new 10,000 square foot McGirt-Horton branch library, according to an announcement by the city of Greensboro. The library branch is currently located in a storefront at the Renaissance Shopping Center, and reportedly was originally opened in 1986 as a one-room reading station in the Claremont Courts public housing project. According to the city press release, the new branch will be one of the first libraries certified with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED status in the state. Taking input from a Teen Advisory Board, Library Director Sandy Neerman said the new library will include a video lounge and multi-media lab. — JG