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Up In Smoke
A van with Florida tags caught fire Monday afternoon in the parking lot of the Southeastern Welcome
Center on US. 17. Shallotte Volunteer Fire Department responded to the blaze. The driver and passen
gers managed to escape injury and remove a few personal items from the vehicle before it burst into
Bus Driver Sues Trucker, Employer For
Negligence In March 1 993 Accident
I he driver of a school bus struck
last year by a logging truck is suing
the trucker and his employer.
According to a complaint filed
July 25 in Brunswick County
Superior Court, bus driver M attic
Grant Bryant "has suffered great
pain and will incur permanent injury
as well as future pain, suffering and
hospital, medical, drug expenses and
loss of income" as a result of her in
The log truck struck Bryant's bus
from the rear while the bus was
stopped to unload a passenger. The
wreck took place March 19, 1993,
on U.S. 17 at Supply.
Eighteen students and Bryant
were taken to area hospitals for ex
amination. Bryant and two passen
gers required hospitalization for
their injuries. Several days later
Bryant was readmitted to The
Brunswick Hospital with com plica
The complaint charges that the
log truck driver, Willie C. Pridgen of
Ivanhoe, employed by Laura
Trucking Corporation of Watha, act
ed negligently, "severely injuring"
Bryant by speeding, failing to keep
his vehicle under control, driving
too fast for conditions, failing to re
duce speed to avoid an accident, at
tempting to pass a stopped school
bus, and failing to pay proper atten
tion to his driving.
Bryant's lawsuit claims her "hos
pital, medical, drug expenses and
loss of income" exceed $15,000,
"and that sum will greatly increase
in the future." It adds that she "has
suffered mental and emotional in
juries and damages which are likely
to be permanent..."
Bryant seeks damages of more
than $10,000 "plus pre-judgment in
terest, reasonable attorney fees and
State Grant Comes Through
For County Learning Center
Brunswick County Schools
learned this week it will receive a
grant of $196,937 for its new
Brunswick County Learning Center.
"All this money will go toward
personnel,'* Assistant Superinten
dent Oscar Blanks, who is in charge
of support services, said Tuesday af
ternoon. This is the only source of
funding we have (for the center)
since everything else is tied up in
"1 was getting shaky. We were
starting to hire people and hadn't
The schools had applied for ap
proximately $400,000 through the
Prevention/Intervention grant pro
gram administered by the N.C.
Department of Public Instruction.
Blanks learned earlier this summer
that the full request would not be
funded, but that partial funding was
At that point the school board
amended its budget request to the
county, seeking an additional
$150,000 to help operate the alterna
tive school site. In an offer of settle
ment in the budget dispute between
the school board and commission
ers, the commissioners indicated
support for the project, designating
those funds specifically. The school
board reject* . the overall offer, say
ing it wasn't enough to meet the
schools' operating needs.
The grant comes from $12 million
for crime prevention and interven
tion provided by legislators during a
special crime session. The funds are
intended to support school-based
programs that target juvenile crime
by improving services to students at
risk of school failure or at risk of
participation in juvenile crime, and
to provide for a safe and secure
Another $150,720 received earlier
from an $18 million crime preven
tion package approved by the legis
lature, is being used to fund four
other positions at the school. (See
related story in this issue on The
Brunswick Learning Center.)
Blanks said he hopes the school
will have county funds available lat
er to pay for necessities such as util
ities, supplies "and that sort of
Meeting Set For
A mandatory meeting for parents
of all West Brunswick High School
athletes will be held next Thursday,
Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. in the school's
Athletic Director Yogi Hickman
said the meeting is for parents of all
students who plan to participate in a
school sport this year at West
Brunswick, including winter and
South Brunswick Medical Group
Gary D. Ross, M.D.
Board Certified In Internal Medicine
Samuel W. Kirtley, M.D.
Board Certified In Family Practice
For complete outpatient medical care
and routine health maintenance
Wal3c-in service and extended. o?ftc*
hour m convenient for working familim*.
Adult. Pediatrics and Women's Medical
Concerns ? Laboratory and X-Ray
Facilities ? Complete
Located off Hwy. 17
at Union School Road
Open Mon-Pri 9-6 pm
Saturday 10-2 pm
such other and further relief as to the
court seems just and proper." She al
so asks for a jury trial.
She is represented by R.C. Soles
of Tabor City.
MOST CLAIMS DISMISSED
Judge Says County Not Immune
From All Of Vereen's Lawsuit
BY ERIC CARLSON
A judge has dismissed most of the
claims in a law
suit filed by
his job from the
But the judge
refused to grant
the board legislative immunity from
being sued for its official actions.
All of Vereen's claims against for
mer Brunswick County Manager
David Clegg were also dismissed in
the July 28 ruling by Judge Jack
Thompson, who ruled that neither
Clegg nor the former commissioners
could be sued "in their official ca
pacities" because they "did not hold
office at the time this action was
The judge also threw out Vereen's
claims that the former commission
ers owe him damages for wrongful
termination, violation of due pro
cess, breach of contract and "willful
or wanton misconduct."
Despite the setback, the Vereen
lawsuit is expected to proceed to
ward trial on his remaining claims
that the county violated his constitu
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tional right to free speech and politi
cal association when the commis
sioners wrote his position out of the
1991-92 budget in what was called a
"reduction in force."
Nfereen's lawsuit claims he was
fired by three Republican commis
sioners because he is a Democrat.
The action seeks a jury trial on
whether he should be awarded more
than $68,000 in back pay along with
benefits, damages in excess of
$10,000 and legal costs.
Last month, insurance company
lawyers defending Brunswick
County argued to Judge Thompson
that the entire lawsuit should be dis
missed because the commissioners
were acting as elected officials and
therefore should be granted "legisla
tive immunity" from court action.
Attorney Reginald Gillespie of
Durham insisted to the judge that the
Constitutional "separation of pow
ers" prevents the commissioners, a
legislative body, from being forced
to testify in a lawsuit ? a court ac
tion ? about their reasons for elimi
nating positions from a budget.
But Vereen's attorney Sheila
McLamb argued that North Carolina
courts have never granted county
commissioners immunity from such
personnel cases. She cautioned that
Thompson would be "setting the
public policy" for the state by agree
ing to apply the doctrine of legisla
tive immunity to the case.
Thompson made no comment
about the question in his one-sen
tence denial of the county's claim of
In an interview Monday, County
Attorney Mike Ramos said the
county's claim of legislative immu
nity is not a dead issue.
"It will be appealed one way or
another," Ramos said. "Either it will
be settled before we go to trial or
(Thompson's denial of the motion)
will be used as grounds for appeal if
Brunswick County has already
used the legislative immunity de
fense to get a similar lawsuit dis
missed in federal court. In June,
U.S. District Court Judge James C.
Fox threw out a racial and political
discrimination suit filed by former
Brunswick Clerk to the Board
Regina Alexander, whose paid posi
tion with the county was eliminated
from the same budget by the same
commissioners who cut Vereen's
In the Alexander case. Judge Fox
called the annual process of drafting
a budget "uniquely legislative in na
ture" and said it was a "discre
tionary" action that falls "squarely
within the political decision making
authority of the board."
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