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Friend IDs three in fire

COOLEEMEE — An elementary school instructional assistant and her two children were among the four people found dead after a house fire Monday near here, family acquaintances said Tuesday.

Ashton Brown and her children, Bella Rose, 4, and Brixtyn, 8 months, died at the house, said Jackie Klostermann, a friend of Brown who created a GoFundMe to help the family pay for funeral costs.

Neither the GoFundMe page nor authorities have identified the man whose body also was found in the fire-damaged house. Davie County Sheriff J.D. Hartman described the two adults who died as the parents of the children.

Deputies began an investigation of the fire because of “some suspicious circumstances discovered by firefighters,” the Davie County Sheriff’s Office said. The State Bureau of Investigation and the Davie County Fire Marshal’s Office also are investigating.

A family member said that Brown worked with special-needs children.

Board sacks superintendent

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education voted 7-2 Tuesday to fire Superintendent Earnest Winston, effective immediately.

“We must move forward on a different path,” board member Rhonda Cheek said, while fellow member Thelma Byers-Bailey called it “a sad day.”

Winston, 47, was not present at the meeting or at work Tuesday. He could not be reached for comment.

He’ll be paid $576,800 — $24,033 per month — for the two remaining years of his contract.

The board is expected to name Hugh Hattabaugh, the school system's former chief operating officer, as interim superintendent. He also held that post in 2011.

Bank cuts jobs, branches

WINSTON-SALEM — Charlotte-based Truist Financial Corp. declared Tuesday that the integration of BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. “is substantially completed,” including projected reductions in branches and ATMs.

Since December 2019, the workforce is down 14%, going from 59,300 to 51,169. More job cuts might be coming, as the bank plans to consolidate its six data centers to three by year’s end.

The bank closed 822 branches by March 31, lowering the number to 2,112 compared with more than 2,900 at the end of 2019.

ATMs were reduced to 3,214 as of March 31, compared with 3,807 on March 31, 2021.

Truist debuted Dec. 7, 2019, the result of BB&T’s $33.5 billion purchase of SunTrust.

Traffic stop yields drugs

STATESVILLE — Two people were arrested in Iredell County on felony drug charges after a traffic stop.

Brandon Matthew Nelson, 41, of Eagle Springs, and Ashley Loree Ray, 32, of Seagrove, were each charged with felony counts of trafficking methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine and maintaining a vehicle, place or dwelling for the sale or use of a controlled substance and misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. A magistrate set bond at $25,000 each.

Their car was stopped for traffic violations April 13 on Salisbury Road near Statesville, Sheriff Darren Campbell said in a news release.

After speaking with with Nelson, who was driving, and checking records and criminal databases, deputies searched the car. They found more than 6¼ ounces of methamphetamine, almost a quarter-ounce of cocaine and some marijuana in a hidden compartment under the hood, Campbell said.

— From wire reports

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