Originally created 01/12/04

Across the southeast



Costs, criticism build for computer network

RALEIGH, N.C. -A computer network for all North Carolina public school teachers, targeted for completion this year, will take two more years and will probably end up costing more than $150 million.

Only six of the state's 117 school districts are online as part of a trial of the system, which is called NC WISE. Many of the teachers using it say it is difficult to access the network, much less complete basic tasks such as entering daily attendance information. Some call it "NC STUPID."

State education officials say the rising costs and delays are related to the scope of building a system with a dozen or more applications that can be used by 80,000 teachers.

Couple says loan team suggested separation

GREENSBORO, N.C. -Two employees of the nonprofit home builder Project Homestead advised a couple to legally separate so the husband could qualify for a home loan, the couple told the News & Record of Greensboro.

One Project Homestead official who the couple says helped them with the transaction denies any participation. The other, who no longer works for the nonprofit group, said he cannot recall any such transaction.

The allegations by Glenn and Sylvia Manuel add to a list of legal and financial questions facing Project Homestead, which helps low- and moderate-income families buy homes.

Mrs. Manuel said she and her husband could not qualify for a loan because she had a bad credit rating.

Project Homestead Vice President Gloria Ratliff and William Brown, who no longer works with the organization, told the couple they could solve that problem by filing separation papers, Mrs. Manuel said.

DNA tests to continue over 1984 slaying

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -Additional DNA testing will be done as authorities investigate a 1984 rape and killing that saw one man serving a life sentence freed from prison last month and another man charged with the crime.

The latest testing is part of the investigation of Willard E. Brown, who was charged with stabbing Deborah Sykes to death in 1984.

Mr. Brown was charged after DNA testing linked him to the crime. His reported confession led to the release of Darryl Hunt, who had served about 18 years behind bars for a crime he denied committing.

Forsyth District Attorney Tom Keith said investigators with the State Bureau of Investigation and the Winston-Salem police department are working at substantiating Mr. Brown's statements and ruling out accomplices.