Category Archives: Greenville
GREENVILLE — Trillium Health Resources, through the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, will donate 100 nasal naloxone kits to both the Jacksonville Police Department (75 kits) and the Manteo Police Department (25 kits). In addition, Trillium plans to make a $15,000 donation to the NC Harm Reduction Coalition to expand opioid overdose reversal kit distribution efforts to people at risk of overdose, their relatives, and organizations that interact with individuals who use legal and illegal opioids.
Robert Childs, Executive Director of NCHRC stated, “NCHRC is excited to work with Trillium Health Resources to decrease overdose related mortality in eastern North Carolina. By expanding access to naloxone, we can reduce the amount of overdose deaths and give our loved ones a second chance on life.”
The opioid overdose reversal kits include the medicine naloxone. Naloxone counteracts the effects of respiratory failure caused by opioid overdoses, particularly heroin, oxycodone and morphine. The kits are easy to use and since August 1, 2013, more than 2,300 people across North Carolina have used them successfully to save a life, including more than 400 in the 24-county region that Trillium serves. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid use has increased in the United States regardless of gender, income, and age. Between 2000 and 2014, opioid-related overdoses resulting in death increased by 200%, with 28,647 deaths in 2014. In North Carolina, deaths related to heroin alone increased by 565 percent between 2010 and 2014 (according to injuryfreenc.org).
Individuals interested in treatment for substance abuse, whether from opioids or any other type of drugs, may contact Trillium at 1-877-685-2415. Organizations in need of naloxone kits may contact NCHRC at 1-336-543-8050. Trillium Health Resources is a Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization responsible for publicly funded mental health, substance use, and intellectual/developmental disability services and supports for people living in eastern North Carolina. The counties that comprise the Trillium area include Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Martin, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington.
By Betty Murphy
GREENVILLE — Recent media reports of declining revenue, lagging patient volume and reduced operating surplus have not slowed Vidant Health from plunging ahead with plans for numerous acquisitions, mergers and/or joint ventures.
However, to accomplish these goals Vidant needs a major infusion of capital.
Continued warnings by all three major bond ratings agencies (Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor) predict a negative financial outlook for non-profit hospitals in 2015, including Vidant.
This is primarily due to reduced Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements, ongoing Medicare penalties, rising costs and decreasing patient volumes. Overbuilding, overextension, mergers and over-marketing also contribute to this gloomy outlook.
On March 4, 2015, the North Carolina Medical Care Commission announced plans to offer $287 million in Health Care Facilities Revenue Bonds – proceeds to be lent to Greenville-based Vidant Health and Vidant Medical Center. Detailed financial information disclosed in documents, which must accompany any bond issuance, provides an unusual opportunity for transparency.
Moody’s recent downgrade of Vidant Health’s economic picture from Stable to Negative may have been predicated on information and materials that were not included in the Official Statement, but were furnished to Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s Rating Services.
Series 2015 Bond proceeds will be used to:
Pay a portion of constructing and equipping various health care facilities, including a new Cancer Center
Pay a portion of the interest accruing on Bonds through 4/1/2018
Refund all outstanding Series 2008D Health Care Bonds – currently $119,715,000
Pay the usual sale and issuance bond expenses incurred
The main bond objective is construction of a new Cancer Center as promised by an earlier hospital administration. This project was planned in conjunction with the building of the Heart Center, which opened in 2009. These two facilities are like peas in a pod – matching structures side by side.
Of course, these construction plans were made before ObamaCare. The cost estimate for construction of the Cancer Center and related equipment is $170 million, excluding financing costs of about $21 million.
Insiders say the success of the new Cancer Center relies upon an aggressive fundraising campaign by the Vidant Health Foundation to reach a goal of $40 million toward the construction costs. If not met, the balance will need to be generated through the operations of the Health System.
Vidant plans to fund two new outpatient clinic facilities, conduct numerous repairs and provide equipment for certain facilities with an additional $39 million of the Series 2015 Bonds.
Five year Capital Expenditures
Vidant projects that capital expenditures for the next five years will be a whopping $892 million (2015-2019). We’ll see how accurate this projection turns out to be.
An overview of joint ventures and new acquisitions
In 2014 with an initial investment of $500,000 each, Vidant formed a joint venture for a shared services partnership with WakeMed Health & Hospitals and Wake Forest Baptist Health.
During 2014, Vidant acquired operation of several practices and buildings previously operated by Brody School of Medicine/ECU. The integration of these practices, although integral and critical to Vidant Medical Center, is estimated to lose approximately $3 million annually.
In 2014 Vidant Health formed Coastal Plains Network, a clinically-integrated network throughout Vidant’s 29-county service area. This network allows Vidant to collaborate with local physicians in Medicare Shared Service Programs and Accountable Care Organizations.
Vidant Medical Group (Vidant physicians) formed a subsidiary – Vidant Medical Group Affiliates – who will perform billing functions for non-Vidant employed providers who will not participate in the Coastal Plains Network.
In a 2015, Vidant proposed a joint venture with Onslow County Hospital Authority and CarolinaEast Health System. Vidant is expected to pay $30 million to Onslow and make a $9 million contribution to fund the initial working capital for the joint venture. Vidant proposes to have a 60 percent membership interest in the joint venture and be the managing partner. Onslow and Carolina East would each have a 20 percent interest.
Publicly available documents confirm that the deal has yet to be completed and that Vidant Health cannot assure that it will be. Also, as always, the terms are subject to change.
Last month Belhaven’s Mayor Adam O’Neal traveled to Jacksonville in Onslow County and issued a warning: “If you’re going to work with Vidant, you need to be careful”
BANK ROBBERY DEFENDANTS SENTENCED
GREENVILLE – United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that DAVID McARTHUR KING, 24, of New Bern, THOMAS LEE CUTHBERTSON, JR., 24, of Vanceboro, and KHIRY TERREL JONES, 24, of Oriental, were each sentenced resulting from their earlier guilty pleas to bank robbery and firearms charges. The charges stem from the December 2, 2013 robbery of First Citizens Bank in Oriental, and the November 22, 2013 robbery of TD Bank in Easley, South Carolina.
On December 10, 2014, Senior U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard sentenced KING TO 20 years in prison for his plea to two counts of armed bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2113(a) and 2113(d), and a single count of using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, or possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A), all for his role in both robberies. On January 13, 2015, Judge Howard sentenced JONES to 8 years in prison for armed bank robbery, for his role as the getaway driver in the First Citizens robbery. On January 14, 2015, Judge Howard sentenced CUTHBERTSON to 17 years in prison for armed bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2113(a) and 2113(d), and a single count of using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, or possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A), all for his role in both robberies. KING, JONES AND CUTHBERTSON were each ordered to be supervised for 5 years following release. KING was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $61,539.50, which includes $3,000.00 from an additional robbery. JONES was ordered to pay $33,797.00 in restitution. CUTHBERTSON was ordered to pay $58,521.50 in restitution.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New Bern Police Department, the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office, the Oriental Police Department, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney John Bennett is prosecuting the case.
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News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.
By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
GREENVILLE – Red wolf foes took advantage of the largest football crowd in the history of East Carolina University to display an airplane-pulled banner Saturday afternoon, minutes before the Pirates’ 70 to 41 pummeling of the UNC-CH Tar Heels.
There’s no telling how many of the 51,000 fans at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium fans pulled out smart phones to ‘Google’ the phrase “Red Wolf Restoration Scandal.”
Those who did would have seen dozens of links tons to publicity and documents decrying a multi-million dollar federal effort, originally begun in the late1980s, to relocate the red wolf to five counties in the state’s eastern environs.
One large landowner in the so-called ‘red wolf recovery area’ is Jett Ferebee. For years, he has been pushing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to pull the plug on what Ferebee calls “a failed experiment.”
The well-timed aerial onslaught missed a Monday morning headline — touted Sept. 22 on the website of a pro-wolf, New York-based organization – which, in a perverse way, may point to Ferebee’s trump card in a controversy that has tentacles throughout the world.
“FOR RED WOLVES, IGNORING CLIMATE CHANGE IS NOT AN OPTION” screamed the website of the Wolf Conservation Center in upstate New York.
Alert readers may want to visit www.nywolf.org.
From Ferebee’s perspective, the Obama administration’s obsession with climate change might just be the key!
“Well, here you go,” wrote Ferebee in an e-mail blast to followers, estimated by some to number in the thousands. “That title says it all. Even the Wolf Conservation Center has now decided eastern N.C. is not the place for wolves.”
Although the website goes on to describe North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge as the “only one place in the wild” where red wolves exist, Ferebee replies “except it may all be underwater soon” due to climate change.
Ferebee cites a recent article in Smithsonian Magazine that describes coastal North Carolina as “more vulnerable than almost anywhere else in the United States to sea-level rise associated with climate change, and the 154,000 acre Alligator River refuge could be one of the first areas to go under.”
Ferebee, always astute to any political correctness that might ultimately roll back the red wolf experiment, closes his e-mail with a tongue-in-cheek comment:
“May I personally suggest South Salem, N.Y. (home of the Wolf Conservation Center) where the elevation is 541 feet above sea level as a relocation site,” wrote Ferebee.
The implication was clear. Much of eastern North Carolina, where wolf-coyote hybrids now roam, has an elevation above sea level in the single digits.
Editor’s note: To contact Ferebee, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to steer you in his direction.
(Click on Map to Enlarge)
By Beth Anne Atkins | Special to the County Compass
GREENVILLE — As Vidant Health continues to be challenged by significant reductions in government reimbursements due to the Affordable Care Act, its Board of Directors approved the Fiscal Year 2015 operational plan this week, which provides the strategic direction and financial resources needed to guide and fund the health system during the next year.
The health care system, which has seen significant reductions to the amounts reimbursed by both Medicare and Medicaid, is predicting an operating margin less than half of that budgeted in 2014.
Art Keeney, board chairman, thanked the committees for their direction and contributions over the past several months in bringing together an operational plan and budget that “focuses on clinical effectiveness, healthy people and communities, and affordable care.”
Keeney also emphasized that “Vidant Health remains a healthy organization in an extremely challenging industry that is moving very quickly from payment that is paid per visit or procedure to payment-for-value. This budget provides the funding necessary to continue Vidant’s position as the highest-valued health care system throughout Eastern Carolina.
The Vidant Health budget projects total operating and non-operating revenues of $1.574 billion, operating and non-operating expenses of $1.529 billion, yielding a profit of $44.6 million, which represents an operating margin of 1.8 percent — less than half of what was budgeted in 2014. Any margin will be reinvested back into facilities, new services, equipment, and system employees.
Vidant Health will focus capital reinvestment (more than $128.3 million in the next year) on the beginning of a new cancer center, information systems, diagnostic services, normal equipment replacement and much-needed upgrades in the core infrastructure of the system’s hospitals. If further reductions in reimbursement occur, the ability to fund these capital requirements will be at risk.
The system estimates providing care to 63,300 inpatients, 1.2 million combined emergency department and outpatients visits, perform 45,000 surgeries, and deliver 6,100 babies during the next fiscal year.
Dr. Marcus Albernaz, finance committee chairman, explained the budget emphasizes building on the high-quality patient care already provided throughout the system and recognizing the importance of the system’s 10,572 full-time-equivalent employees. The budget funds salaries and benefits of $869 million for the system’s employees. He further indicated that Vidant Health is moving toward a more integrated system of care — versus a collection of individual sites — to provide the highest-quality care in the most cost-effective setting.
Leaders will continue to focus on the most effective and efficient way to provide health care in eastern North Carolina by assessing all positions when they become vacant and looking at streamlining processes.
Vidant Health, a mission-driven, not-for-profit corporation, owns, leases or has a majority membership interest in eight eastern North Carolina hospitals. The health system includes Vidant Beaufort Hospital, Vidant Bertie Hospital, Vidant Chowan Hospital, Vidant Duplin Hospital, Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, The Outer Banks Hospital, Vidant Medical Center, Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital, Vidant Home Health and Hospice, Vidant Wellness Centers, Vidant Medical Group and is affiliated with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.
Special to the County Compass
GREENVILLE, N.C. — ‘Shark Tank,’ the popular TV show, which introduces aspiring entrepreneurs to rich, successful business people, will hold casting calls in Greenville on July 24 as the Emmy-nominated production enters its sixth season.
According to U.S. Cellular, one of the show’s sponsors, the day-long session has been scheduled for The Martinsborough, located at 330 S. Evans Street. Aspiring businesspersons can begin arriving at 9 a.m. to receive a wristband, with interviews beginning at 10 a.m. The first 500 entrepreneurs who show up at the open call are guaranteed to be seen and will pitch the “Shark Tank” casting team with their products, services or ideas.
“At U.S. Cellular, we champion small business owners and offer them access to tools to help them be successful,” said Dana Dorcas, director of business sales for U.S. Cellular in North Carolina. “By working with ABC’s Shark Tank, we are providing an unprecedented opportunity for people in our local communities to pitch their ideas to experts and have the chance to grow their business.”
Clay Newbill, executive producer of Shark Tank, said his crew is looking forward to the visit.
“We know great ideas come from everywhere, so we’re excited to hit the road this summer with U.S. Cellular to hear from entrepreneurs,” said Newbill.
U.S. Cellular is also bringing Shark Tank casting calls to two other cities, Des Moines, Iowa and Milwaukee, Wis. For further casting call information and to fill out an application, please visit the website www.SharkTankOpenCall.com.
In September, consumers and business owners will also be able to enter a U.S. Cellular “Shark Tank” sweepstakes. More details will be available in the coming months.
Applicants selected to appear on the hit show will have the opportunity to seek investment funds from The Sharks — tough, self-made, multi-millionaire and billionaire tycoons who may choose to invest their own money in the best businesses and products that America has to offer, giving budding entrepreneurs the chance to make the American dream come true, and the potential to secure business deals that could make them millionaires in their own right.
The Sharks are: billionaire Mark Cuban, owner and chairman of AXS TV and outspoken owner of the 2011 NBA championship Dallas Mavericks; real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran; “Queen of QVC” Lori Greiner; technology innovator Robert Herjavec; fashion and branding expert Daymond John; and venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary.
The entrepreneurs who dare to enter the Tank must try to convince the Sharks to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they desperately need to turn their dreams into million dollar realities. But the Sharks have a goal, too – to get a return on their investment and own a piece of the next big business idea. When the Sharks hear an idea worth sinking their teeth into, they’re more than ready to declare war and fight each other for a piece of it.
During the 2013-14 season, ABC’s Shark Tank consistently won Friday among Adults 18-49, ranking as the night’s No. 1 TV series on 26 of 28 original telecasts. In addition, the hit unscripted show dominated its 9 o’clock time period among young adults, qualifying as ABC’s highest-rated program in the hour in nine years – since the 2004-05 season.
In its fifth season, Shark Tank surged by double digits from the previous year, with Total Viewers up 16 percent, and Adults, ages 18-49 up 14 percent, marking the series’ best-ever season on both Nielsen measures.
By Jett Ferebee | Special to the County Compass
Each year I sit down and make sometimes painful economic decisions regarding the wildlife conservation efforts on my farm. With prime farm land values approaching $6,000 per acre and farm rents exceeding $200 per acre, the decision to take acres out of production in order to create much needed filter strips, fallow fields, wind breaks, perennial food plots, warm season grasses for nesting, etc. becomes very difficult.
The Albemarle Peninsula is dominated by large commercial farms. For the most part, the land is farmed ditch-bank to ditch-bank unless it has been declared “wetlands.” These wildlife habitat enhancements are critical in this region.
On many of these large eastern NC farms such as Lux Farms, Mattamuskeet Ventures, Whitetail Farms and countless other smaller operations, sportsmen have stepped up to the plate and set aside valuable land in order to benefit wildlife in an otherwise barren environment due to intensive farming.
I can assure you, as the Red Wolf Program and its byproducts continue to decimate the wildlife on these farms, you will see less and less of these conservation practices continue. Sportsmen will no longer see the value to continue setting this land aside. I can only imagine the impact of this unintended consequence to North Carolina’s wildlife, in particular its valued small game populations.
I can also assure you, if you gentlemen do not step up to the plate, history will prove that the failed Red Wolf science project created the largest wildlife disaster to ever impact our state. Just look at how quickly the coyote problem got out of hand.
I can hit this issue from so many different sides it is ridiculous. Where is the common sense? In the private sector, I would be broke if I did not act when common sense dictated.
After 27 years and over $28 million of taxpayer dollars, the Red Wolf program has gone from the initial four breeding pairs to 21 breeding pairs, and now down to seven or less breeding pairs. These three additional breeding pairs represent an investment by taxpayers of over $9.3 million per breeding pair. The unfortunate flaw of the red wolf is hybridization and will likely lead to its extinction in the wild unless new measures are taken.
I have a plan to save the red wolf and North Carolina’s wildlife. A plan far superior to the nonsense going on now. I just need your help.
Editor’s note: Readers may contact Mr. Ferebee by e-mail: email@example.com
Special to the County Compass
Open Letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
Attention: Leopoldo Miranda
Assistant Regional Director
There is no doubt that you have pushed the Red Wolf issues in NC to the forefront as I have made my concerns known to you specifically. For this I am grateful. Your biologists have now trapped extensively on my farm in Tyrrell County at your direction, but the problem has become increasingly worse.
Please see the attached 12 pictures from the night of December 15th. USFWS has ruined my farm!!!! As I have stressed to you, I would like USFWS to obey the law as opposed to me being placed in jeopardy of the law.
The caveat that one is not guilty of killing a red wolf if the hunter thought it was a coyote does not cut it with me. Especially, with the current furor over the killing of Red Wolves. I, in no way should have to flirt with a violation of this magnitude, because of the USFWS’s unwillingness to obey the law. That is just not right.
I am specifically asking you for written permission for me, or my agents, to remove/take any Red Wolves on my farm that your personnel have not removed. This is a request I have made for over 10 years.
Here is the law, plain and simple, from the 1995 Rules Revisions:
“(v) Any private landowner may take red wolves found on his or her property in the areas defined in paragraphs (c)(9) (i) and (ii) of this section after efforts by project personnel to capture such animals have been abandoned, Provided that the Service project leader or biologist has approved such actions in writing”
Thanks again Leo. Your efforts to make corrections to this out of control program are appreciated.
Editor’s note: Mr. Ferebee owns a large tract in Tyrrell County, which shares a one-mile border with the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
Feds respond to landowner’s letter
Click on letter to enlarge
Special to the County Compass
GREENVILLE – A Pamlico County man, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to drug dealing, will serve 11 years in federal prison for his crimes – a sentence handed down Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
According to a press release issued jointly by local District Attorney Scott Thomas and U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker, Pamlico County resident Herman Otis Midgette, 41, sold and distributed a large quantity of cocaine between 2009 to early 2012.
Officers from the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office conducted surveillance and utilized confidential informants to make controlled purchases of over 100 grams of cocaine from Midgette at various locations within Pamlico County. Further investigation revealed
Midgette, known locally by the nickname of ‘O.T.,” was responsible for distributing over 700 grams of cocaine since 2009.
The Coastal Narcotics Enforcement Team, a multi-agency task force comprised of agents from the Craven County Sheriff’s Office, Havelock Police Department, Jones County Sheriff’s Office, New Bern Police Department, Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office, River Bend Police Department, State Bureau of Investigation and Trent Woods Police Department, conducted the investigation.
Walker, the U.S. Attorney, issued a statement praising the task force:
“I appreciate the outstanding cooperation of the numerous agencies involved with this investigation. This case demonstrates how working together can result in the removal of a dangerous criminal from a community.”
Scott Thomas, the state prosecutor based in New Bern who oversees cases in Pamlico, Craven, and Carteret Counties, vowed to continue his aggressive prosecutions of narcotics traffickers.
“I am pleased this investigation resulted in a conviction and substantial prison sentence,” said Thomas. “We will continue to do all we can to coordinate our efforts as we pursue drug dealers.”