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News (742)

Gold mining in North Carolina will be discussed by Vivian P. Hopkins on Thursday, Sept. 25, while Dr. Gary Freeze will address bypasses and highways in Catawba County on Tuesday, Sept. 30. Both presentations begin at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Main Library in Newton. The public is cordially invited.

Hopkins, vice president of the Historic Gold Hill and Mines Foundation of Rowan County, will present her Road Scholar talk “If Picks and Shovels Could Talk: Gold Mining History in North Carolina.” The Wilkes County native has spent much of her life researching gold mining history in the state and has authored several books on the subject.

She currently serves as vice president of the Historic Gold Hill Foundation. Her appearance is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Freeze, a professor of history at Catawba College in Salisbury, will share research about the impact of Business Route 321, Interstate 40 and other local highways. He is at work on his third book of Catawba County history—The Catawbans Volume III due out next year.

Freeze, a Salisbury resident, is regarded as Catawba County’s historian, having written several volumes concerning Catawba County history over the years. Other topics in his program series will be baby boomers on Nov. 11 and shopping malls and mass merchandisers on Dec. 2.

Both programs are suitable for students and adults. For more information about either program, contact Tammy Wilson, public information officer, at 465-8661. .

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, the House passed legislation to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, originally enacted as part of welfare reform of 1996, provides funds to states to promote self-sufficiency for low-income families seeking child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program.

“I want to thank Chairman Kline for his leadership while working with us on this bipartisan legislation,” said Senator Richard Burr. “I also want to thank the rest of my House colleagues who shared in the vision that Senator Mikulski and I had over three years ago for this legislation -- that kids could have safer environments in which to stay while their parents worked and taxpayers did not continue to subsidize providers who created unsafe settings and threatened their well-being. It has been a long time coming, but I’m proud we have reached this point. I hope the Senate will swiftly agree to this legislation.”


Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville, and The Thomas Wolfe Memorial will present the official opening of the Lenoir-Rhyne University Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative on Friday, October 3 at 6 p.m.

The Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative, directed by Laura Hope-Gill, offers the M.A. in Writing and certificate programs pertaining to Narrative. Hope-Gill worked with theEstate of Thomas Wolfe, as well as the Memorial and the Thomas Wolfe Society, to develop a program embracing Wolfe's practice of generating prodigious amounts of writing to plumb the depths of the human experience and self-discovery.

Hope-Gill says, "The program emphasizes the journey of the draft, the finding of a new voice, and the work of the man himself. Writers in the Thomas Wolfe M.A. Program break through the self-censorship and also the templates we carry in us for what a story, poem, or novel should look like. We find our own way, as Wolfe did."

The launch of the program, which is free and open to all, will take place at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial at 52 N. Market Street in Asheville. The event includes a reading by David Madden, Andrea Clark, and Laura Hope-Gill of Wolfe's short story, "Child by Tiger" and an opportunity to meet the program's inaugural students. Refreshments will be served.

For more information about events at Thomas Wolfe Memorial, 52 N. Market Street, Asheville, NC 28801 call: 828-253-8304 or visit: http://www.lr.edu/graduate/ma-writing/program.

The Hiddenite Center, in partnership with the Alexander Friends of the Library, will host a book signing and community reception in honor of Alexander County native and NASCAR Hall of Fame member, Rex White. The public is invited to attend the reception and book signing, which will be held on Sunday, October 12 from 3 until 4:30 p.m. at The Hiddenite Center’s Educational Complex (70 Hiddenite Church Road in Alexander County). Light refreshments will be served as guests enjoy remarks from Rex White and a selections from “Gold Thunder” as read by Micah Henry of the Alexander Radio Theater. Copies of the book will be available for purchase during the signing and reception. This event is free and open to the public; donations will be welcomed and appreciated.

Among other outstanding career accomplishments, in 1960, Rex White famously beat Richard Petty for the championship in what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, placing second to Ned Jarrett in the following year. White has been elected as part of the 2015 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which will be inducted in January. According to a description of his book on Amazon.com, the autobiography, as told to Anne B. Jones, also contains information gained through interviews with other racing professionals, including personal stories from NASCAR greats Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett.

Hiddenite Center events, exhibits and programs are made possible in part through the generous funding by Alexander County government, the Eileen and R. Y. Sharpe Family Foundation, The Winston Salem Foundation, the Friends of the Hiddenite Center membership program and by the Grassroots Grant of the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. The Hiddenite Center’s Lucas Mansion and Educational Complex are wheelchair accessible.
To become a member of the Alexander Friends of the Library, pick up a membership form that day or to learn more about the Friends, check out the Friends on Facebook by searching for Alexander Friends of the Library.

To learn more about Hiddenite Center events and programs, please visit www.hiddenitecenter.com, email info@hiddenitecenter.com, or join the Hiddenite Center on facebook by searching Friends of the Hiddenite Center.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 10:45


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The Hickory Community Theatre has just announced the lineup of singers for the fourth edition of the successful “Dueling Divas” singing competition. Seventeen singers, their ages spanning six decades, are vying for the tiara this time out. The contest takes place on Saturday, October 4th at 8:00PM.

The singers, in alphabetical order, are Linda Campbell, Leslie Cline, Sydney Cline, Morgan Ferretti, Kaylyn Hall, Emma Lee Kurts, Sara Lane, Crystal Leigh, Jennifer Michaels, Madison Phelps, Edyth Pruitt, Laura Rhinehart, Savannah Spencer and Lucy Weaver. Leslie Cline is the defending champion, having won the title in Dueling Divas 3. Sara Lane was second runner-up in that same round.

“Dueling Divas IV”, is a singing competition where these talented women singers compete to win the title of Grand Supreme Diva. The winner is the one who gets the most donations from the audience. All proceeds benefit the Theatre’s Tickets for Teachers program. Tickets for this show are $14, general admission.

Sponsorship opportunities for these events are available. Contact John Rambo, Managing Director at (828) 327-3855 ext 103 for details or email john@hickorytheatre.org.

The Hickory Community Theatre is a funded affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. Paramount Automotive is the Official Automotive Sponsor of the 2014-2015 Season.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 08:43

3 Departments Investigate Valdese Shooting

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A shooting incident in Valdese is under investigation. Valdese Police, Drexel Police, and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office responded to a shooting incident at AutoZone on Main Street in Valdese.

Witnesses told Valdese officers arriving on the scene that the suspects had fled the scene in a burgundy truck and the victim left the scene on foot. A Valdese Officer and Burke County Sheriff’s Deputy located the suspect vehicle on I-40, about a half mile past exit 112. The officers then conducted a felony vehicle stop.

Jeff Ballard and Bradley Ballard were detained for questioning. During a search of the suspect vehicle three firearms, a knife, and slapjack were confiscated. The victim, Jeremy Green, had fled the scene on foot and after searching the area Officers could not find Green.  

All hospitals in that area were placed on alert to contact the police department if Greene looked for treatment at their facility.

So far, officers have determined a pistol was discharged at the crime scene but the bullet had not struck the victim.

Witnesses told police they believe the victim did receive a head injury from a physical altercation with the suspects, before the gun went off.

This investigation is ongoing and charges are pending in this matter.

The following is the direct statement that WHKY-TV received yesterday afternoon from the Boone Chief of Police, Dana Crawford regarding the death of Anna Smith.


“We are all terribly saddened at this discovery. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Ms. Smith. I want to assure the Smith Family and the Boone community that we have begun and will continue to conduct a thorough investigation to find the answers that we all want to know. We have much to do in this case and must look at all possibilities; therefore, we cannot prematurely arrive at any conclusions. Obviously, in a death investigation there are many facts that would not be prudent to release. In fact, releasing sensitive information could hinder an investigation and potentially damage a criminal case if this case were to turn in that direction. I am greatly concerned about the state of anxiety that the citizens of Boone and the students and faculty find themselves in, and I want to address these concerns to the degree possible.

We intend to work this case as any death investigation. At this point we do not have direct information that there is foul play. In fact, there are factors to indicate that Ms. Smith was intent on harming herself. I know this is difficult for family and friends to hear, but these are facts. This is not the time that I would have preferred to release this information; however, it has been referenced that Ms. Smith had been experiencing some emotional difficulties in prior press releases from ASU and even from the family. It is important to note that a letter was found with the body of Anna Smith. To protect the integrity of the investigation we are not prepared to discuss the content of the letter that appears to have been authored by Ms. Smith. We intend to request a forensic analysis of the letter.

Today an autopsy is being conducted by a forensic pathologist and we fully expect that the preliminary findings will shed some light on what happened to Ms. Smith. Other aspects of the autopsy examination will take additional time to analyze. This investigation is in the beginning stages and we will be open and transparent, but please understand that we cannot release information that will jeopardize the case.   

Based upon reports that we have heard from community members and media sources, it is obvious to me and my staff that many, if not most, people in the community are under the impression that this case is a homicide. We do not have any information leading us in that direction. The reason that I am reluctantly releasing this information is because I do not want to give the impression that we are not investigating all possibilities- we are. We will pursue the facts, wherever they may lead, to determine what happened to Anna Smith.

We are not investigating this case alone. We will be working with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, and the ASU Police Department. In addition, we will be consulting the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We will all work together to determine how this happened. We continue to receive information and encourage any citizen with information to contact the Boone Police Department.”

The 911 call can be found on the Boone Police website townofboone.net.

The front parking lot of Morganton City Hall will be closed for three weeks starting tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, while contractors repaint the water tank located in front of the main entrance to City Hall.

The paint on the water tank at City Hall has been peeling off for some time. After evaluating options and receiving quotes for painting, the Morganton City Council gave the go ahead in August to repaint the tank. The tank does not contain any water and is not part of the City's water system, but it is considered a landmark in the City. The tank will be cleaned and painted, and the Morganton Trading Company logo will be painted on two sides.

Utility Service Company, the contractor, needs to close off the parking lot in front of City Hall to perform the work. At 7:00 am Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, the front parking lot and front entrance to City Hall will be closed to protect the public and provide a safe work zone for repainting the old tank. This work is expected to take about three weeks to complete, and the front parking area will be closed for that time. The lot should be back open by Oct. 6, 2014, as long as the project isn't delayed.

Parking for City Hall will be available along E. Union Street and in the parking lot behind City Hall that is accessed from Avery Avenue and Lenoir Street. The public should utilize the rear entrance to City Hall that is adjacent to the courtyard and fountain. For utility payments, the drive through will remain open for the duration of the project, but customers must bring their bill to pay via the drive through.

The project will cost $50,367. The funds for this repair will initially come from the tank maintenance funds and be reimbursed with revenues from the cellular antenna attachment to be installed on the tank. For more information, call the Water Resources Department at 828-438-5276.

The Morganton City Hall parking lot will be closed for three weeks starting Tuesday Sept. 16, 2014, while the City Hall water tank is repainted. The public can park in the rear parking lot or along E. Union Street and access City Hall via the courtyard entrance. The lot should be back open by Monday Oct. 6, 2014.

Monday, 15 September 2014 11:51


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“I’ve got a wonderful gang” said Charles Jeffers, director for the Hickory Community Theatre’s “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel”, when he announced the show’s cast.

He announced a ballot of nine players with a wide variety of theatre backgrounds. They are Jay Barnhardt, Marquinn Brannon, Ingrid Keller, Ralph Mangum, Peyton Powell, David Sheronas, Bob Smith, Nagarajan Thoppey and Silas Waugh. The cast includes four newcomers to the Hickory Community Theatre.

The play is a comedy romp taking place in a swamp in Alabama. It is a tangle between a New York tabloid journalist and a two feckless duck hunters who, in a bumbling misfire, think they shot an angel. It was written by popular author Mitch Albom, who also wrote “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.”

Performances are in the Jeffers Theatre October 12-November 2. Tickets are $18 for adults ($2 off for seniors) and $10 for youth 18 and under. Thursday nights all adult seats are just $14. Purchase tickets online at www.hickorytheatre.org or call (828) 328-2283.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for this production.

The Hickory Community Theatre is a Funded Affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. The 2014-2015 Season is brought to you by Paramount Automotive, the official automotive sponsor of the Hickory Community Theatre.


Hickory is known across the world for its quality handcrafted furniture, designed by artists and built by craftsman from the Hickory Metro, and it’s time to showcase the best of the best chairs that are designed and manufactured in our area.

Furniture companies in Catawba, Burke, and Caldwell and Alexander counties as well as individual craftsmen in the four-county Metro are invited to enter a chair for the Furniture. Well Crafted. Inaugural design competition by September 23. This competition complements the current “Furniture. Well Crafted.” exhibit at the Catawba Science Center, as well as dovetails with Hickory’s “Life. Well Crafted.” brand.

“The Convention and Visitors Bureau is excited about partnering with the City of Hickory and Catawba Science Center in this chair competition,” said Bebe Leitch, CEO of the Hickory-Conover Tourism Authority (TDA). “This competition is more than a chair design. This competition is about the getting back to the roots of our heritage of furniture manufacturing, and using that as a tool to boost the region’s job base.”

For more than 110 years the furniture industry has been a major employer in the Hickory Metro. Once again, local furniture companies are growing. Their reputations are built on quality furniture that can be passed from generation to generation. Our local manufacturers are adapting with the latest technology that allows them to customize order for customers.

“The Furniture. Well Crafted. Hands-on exhibit at Catawba Science Center is about our community,” said Alan Barnhardt, Catawba Science Center Executive Director. “It begins with the history of furniture manufacturing in our area, then visitors learn about modernized technology utilized in furniture making today. Children and their families immerse themselves in many of the skills used in building a piece of furniture. This exhibit also showcases the educational and career opportunities and posts salary ranges for a variety of furniture jobs available in our area.”

“People can earn a really good salary working in this industry,” added Barnhardt. “The furniture companies that I have been working with are seeing a 20 percent increase in business and are in need of dedicated employees. Catawba Science Center saw an opportunity to share the application of science and technology with our 130,000 annual visitors. It’s made for an incredible, interactive educational experience that has been well received by the community.”

As of September 10, more than a dozen companies have agreed to participate in the
Inaugural chair design competition, and many more are expected by September 23. The jury to decide the First, Second and Third Place winners will be made up of retired furniture executives and designers from the four-county Hickory Metro. First Place receives $500, the 2014 “Furniture. Well Crafted.” trophy and an autographed copy of Factory Man, by author Beth Macy and John Bassett, III. Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker battled off shoring, Stayed Local and Helped Save an American Town. Second Place receives $300, and Third Place receives $200.

“After winners are announced, the chairs will go on tour around the community, more details to be announced soon,” said Mandy Pitts, City of Hickory Communications Director and Brand Manager. “We are fortunate that the Catawba Science Center put together the Furniture. Well Crafted. Exhibition, and thankful for the companies, schools and colleges that helped make it Happen. If you have not seen the exhibit, make sure you see it before it ends in mid November.”

The Catawba Science Center, is located on the SALT Block 243 3rd Avenue, NE, Hickory and is Open Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday 1 – 4 p.m. CSC Members are free, non-CSC member admission is $8 for adults $6 for seniors 62 and older, and Youth 3 – 18, and children under 3 are free.

Applications for the Furniture. Well Crafted. Design competition is due September 23, and the chairs are not delivered until November 3. For more information, call or email Mandy Pitts, City of Hickory Communications Director/Brand Manager, mpitts@hickorync.govmailto:mandypitts@charter.net or (828) 261-2290.

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