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Gastonia, North Carolina

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Gastonia is a city located in Gaston County in North Carolina, a state of the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 66,277. It is the county seat of Gaston County. It is considered part of the greater Metrolina area, a region of population, of which... (More Info and Source) Gastonia Real Estate

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Gastonia Area News

School district defends replacing deputies with private security at schools

Deshonia Cauthen has four daughters in Chester County Public Schools.  She was not happy to hear about the school district's change to campus security for next fall.
 
"It leaves you a little uneasy," Cauthen said. "If we have officers in the schools, they have this power, they have this authority. They can do this. They can do that."
 
She's not so sure about what a private security guard could do to keep control in schools.
 
Last Friday, the school board announced it had approved a contract with defender services in Columbia to provide security next year.  
 
The company will place an officer on all nine Chester campuses, all day and every day.  
 
Chester County Schools have only four sheriff's deputies who obviously can't be everywhere at once.
 
Some parents embraced the idea of having someone in uniform, even at the elementary schools.
 
Shatima Scott was glad to see the board taking the step to protect all students.
 
"It’s comforting to know that they will have someone at every school. That brings me a lot of joy," she said.
 
Russ Odum said he wanted to know more about why the school system dropped the Sheriff's Office.
 
"There’s probably a reason for that, and I don't think we know that reason yet," he said.
 
Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood was visibly angry talking to reporters on Friday, calling the idea stupid and threatening to remove his own child from public schools.
 
"I don't know who they think they are. I don't understand how they could choose security guards over law enforcement," Underwood said. "They are putting these kids in jeopardy."
 
Currently, the school district pays half the salary of the four resource officers, and the county pays the other half.  It's not clear what arrangement is being worked out under The new contract with defender services. However, Underwood said it's possible those four deputies could lose their jobs if the county chose not to fund their whole salaries.
 
The website for defender services lists them as a staffing business that also provides staff for maintenance and custodial work, lawn care, and other positions. The company used to provide security for springs industries. Calls to defender services on Monday were not returned.
 
Chester's School superintendent denied Channel 9's request for an interview on the issue on Monday. However, the district did send an e-mailed statement aimed at explaining the training the new security officers will have.
 
It says in part:
 
“These officers (former military personnel, state troopers, retired law enforcement, etc.) Will possess a current license issued by the state of South Carolina and the South Carolina law enforcement division (sled).  These uniformed officers will carry firearms and have the power to arrest and detain, and must be in good physical condition to perform their duties.  Security officers will also receive D.A.R.E. training and will work closely with school officials to cover specific needs of specific buildings.
 
Officers must complete a training program and complete both written and performance tests.  Prior to reporting for duty, officers will receive training in:

  • basic response
  • active shooter training
  • dealing with people
  • record keeping and reporting
  • fixed posts and patrols
  • understanding the law
  • enforcing the law
  • preventing and controlling fires
  • enforcing rules and controlling areas
  • handling special situations and emergencies
  • first aid and safety

 
*Officers receive additional training throughout the year by their regional security manager who is a 28-year retired sergeant with the highway patrol.”
 
The release also said the district will work to hire officers who are local to the area, and principals at each school will be involved in making sure each candidate is a good fit.
 
The school district will also send out a letter to parents explaining the security changes for the upcoming school year. Officials said the addition of private security is part of a much bigger plan to upgrade school safety. The district has added buzz-entry systems to its schools and placed roughly 500 cameras on campuses since 2013.

Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:57:12 -0400

Action 9: Some blame certain antibiotics for devastating side effects

Some patients and doctors are blaming popular antibiotics for devastating side effects, including ALS/ Lou Gehrig's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and even death.

Fluoroquinolones

These kind of antibiotics are called "fluoroquinolones."  They're prescribed for a variety of serious bacterial infections.  Some of the more well-known generics include Ciprofloxacin and Levofloxacin, and the brand name examples include Cipro and Levaquin.

Donna Versace said she was fine until she got a urinary tract infection, took Ciprofloxacin, and started having odd side effects. 

"All of the joints in my body started popping," she said. 

She admits she can't prove the drug is to blame.  But, she says, she never had trouble standing before.  Now, she needs a cane and usually ends up on the sofa.  Versace says it's been hard to keep a job, or even friends, because she just can't keep up. 

"It's ruined [my life].  I can't go anywhere.  I lay on my couch, with pain every single day that is so bad it feels like somebody's ripping flesh right off my bones," Donna Versace said.

That may sound far-fetched, but she's not alone.  A Georgia man's wife says he was in great shape, got sick, went to urgent care, and got a prescription for Levofloxacin.  Kathy Dannelly says he took just two pills and, days later, he was dead.  "That's really hard to get out of my mind," she said. 
 
Jeff Stephens says he had a sinus infection, took seven doses of the same medicine, and ended up hobbling around.  "I may be one of those that's crippled for the rest of my life.  It's terrifying," he said.  Just weeks before, he says he was running on a beach in Australia and that he has home video of it.

SC doctor asks feds to require more warnings

Dr. Charles Bennett thinks there are many more examples.  He runs, he said, the largest drug safety program in the country, which happens to be in South Carolina. 
 
He's an oncologist, tied to the University of South Carolina, South Carolina College of Pharmacy and Medical University of South Carolina.  He says his group has an $8 million budget to investigate medicines with adverse side effects. 
 
He said his group gathered "thousands" of stories from people who reported these side effects from those drugs -- click here to read more on the warnings:  

  • Muscle weakness
  • Heart disease
  • Hearing loss
  • Depression
  • Nerve damage
  • Death

"Some of these side effects occurred after two or three doses of drug.  Some of them occurred with re-challenge: every time you took the drug again, you got sick again.  Some of the side effects: never resolved," he said.
 
But Bennett is clear: These antibiotics can be very effective, so he doesn't want them banned.  He just wants the federal government to do more to warn patients about possible side effects. 
 
In 2013, the FDA did require labels on these kinds of antibiotics to mention possible "permanent nerve damage."  

Still, Bennett is petitioning the FDA to require even stronger warnings on these drugs.  He said, so far, the agency hasn't responded. 
 
So, now, he's asking Congress to step in and force the FDA's hand.  "Because I think, if we get the grassroots from the Congress, the Senate, we're going to get it turned over," he said. 
 
Senators on the health committee, like North Carolina's Richard Burr, may be hard to convince. 


CLICK HERE to view on YouTube

"I'm not sure that the American people want non-healthcare professionals trying to drive decisions about medications and their approval or rejection," he said.
 
Bennett also believes it's an uphill battle because these antibiotics, he says, generate more than $2 billion in sales each year.

Drug company response

A dozen companies make these drugs, including the generics and the brand names. 

The company behind Levaquin, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, told Action 9, "Our first priority is the well-being of the people who use our medicines.  We are aware of the [Dr. Bennett's] Citizen Petition and are evaluating it.  Levaquin (levofloxacin) is part of the important fluoroquinolone class of anti-infective prescription medications that have been used for more than 20 years to treat infections, including those that may be serious or life threatening. All medicines, including Levaquin, have both benefits and risks.

"We continually collect and monitor information on the safety and effectiveness of all our medicines, and, in cooperation with the U.S. FDA and other health authorities, we incorporate new data into our product labels so doctors and patients can make informed decisions.  Ever since it was first approved by the FDA in 1996, the Levaquin label has provided information to physicians on the risks and benefits associated with the medication, including warnings and precautions.  Since 2004, the Levaquin label has informed physicians and patients about possible side effects related to peripheral neuropathy."  

You can find the current Levaquin Medication Guide here, and the full U.S. prescribing information, including boxed warning, here.

Consumer advice

If you have negative side effects from fluoroquinolones, tell your doctor.  If you feel the warnings should be stricter, tell your federal lawmaker.  

Read more 9 investigations:

 

 


Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:45:00 -0400

Charlotte leaders discussing firing of former CFD arson investigator

Charlotte's City Council is in a closed session Monday evening to discuss the case of a former Charlotte Fire Department arson investigator who claims she was fired, because she was a whistleblower.

A source told Channel 9 reporter Jenna Deery the meeting is in regards to the firing report of former arson investigator Crystal Eschert.
    
This meeting was supposed to happen weeks ago, but council members wanted a block of time to discuss this matter.

The city has been investigating the firing of Eschert since December.

The fire department said an inappropriate comment on Facebook was her undoing.

That may have set the standard for consequences for social media posts for other city employees.

But Eschert claims her firing was in retaliation for being a whistleblower about safety concerns at a CFD training facility.

Channel 9 has been told council is talking to the city's attorney to discuss releasing her firing report.

According to state personnel laws, they are the only ones who can do that as long as it is to restore public confidence in city operations.

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Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:12:57 -0400

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