Newton has been designated as a “Tree City U.S.A.” in each of the past four years and is on its way to a fifth year of recognition this year.
Tree City U.S.A. began in 1976 as a bicentennial program through the National Arbor Day Foundation. The nationwide program provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America.
Communities must meet four core standards of sound urban forestry management to achieve Tree City U.S.A. status:
- Maintain a tree board or department;
- Have community tree ordinances;
- Spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry; and
- Celebrate Arbor Day.
More than 135 million people live in the 3,400 communities that participate in Tree City U.S.A.
On Monday (January 26), the N.C. Department of Public Safety (DPS) paid tribute to 28 of the department’s most dedicated and outstanding employees during its first annual DPS Badge of Excellence Awards Ceremony.
The ceremony, held in Apex, N.C., acknowledges DPS employees who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments. The Badge of Excellence program promotes department-wide recognition that acknowledges and celebrates employees' impactful contributions to the overall goals and mission of the department, North Carolina state government and to North Carolinians. Employees are nominated for the award by other DPS employees including their supervisors, co-workers and subordinates.
Among those receiving recognition for Public Service & Volunteerism was Burke County Correctional Officer Darris Williams. Williams works in the support section at the Marion Correctional Institution. As the intelligence representative for his housing unit, Williams spent many hours outside of his shift working to track and validate the activities of gang-affiliated inmates. Last spring he was named the Marion Facility’s Intelligence Officer.
Williams also excels in volunteer work in the community. A former standout high school football player, he has served as president of the Forest City youth football program and vice president of the Mid-Atlantic Youth Football & Cheer Conference.
31-year-old Christopher Gene Crawford of 20th Avenue Drive Northeast in Hickory was arrested today (Wednesday, January 28) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with forgery of an instrument, uttering a forged instrument, and obtaining property by false pretense. Following the arrest, Crawford was detained at the Catawba County Detention Facility under no bond. A first appearance in court was scheduled for today.
As progress continues on the Enola Road widening project in Burke County, the N.C. Department of Transportation will implement a new traffic pattern on Enola Road beginning Thursday (January 29). The new traffic pattern will make Enola Road a partially divided roadway. Drivers will notice the portion from I-40 North to Brick Street will be median divided, and the side south of I-40 will have a painted center turn lane.
Previously, a two-lane, two-way pattern was in place on Enola Road. The $14.1 million project will widen 2.2 miles of Enola Road from Arnold Drive to South Sterling Street/N.C. 18 in Morganton. Once completed, the project will improve mobility through the area, which includes Broughton Hospital and the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center as well as three schools and several businesses. For real-time travel information at any time, visit the Travel section of the NCDOT website, call 511, or follow NCDOT on Twitter. Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website.
45-year-old Crystal Franklin Burgess Wilson of Worthington Place in Lincolnton has been arrested by Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Officers on a charge of felony embezzlement greater than $100,000.
She’s accused of taking more than $196,000 from a Denver business over a seven-year period. On January 20, an official with S&L Sawmill on N.C. Highway16 in Denver filed a report regarding funds that were stolen from the company. Detectives were provided with copies of 179 checks written on the S&L Sawmill account to the suspect.
The checks written to Wilson, her bank and other accounts, totaled $196, 885.86. The checks were written between 2008 and 2014. She was terminated from employment in November of 2014. Detective Richard Calhoun interviewed Wilson, who admitted to taking the funds.
She was taken before a Lincoln County Magistrate yesterday (January 27) and released on a $25,000 unsecured bond. Wilson was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court today.
Professional commercial photographer Michael Cunningham will be at the Patrick Beaver Memorial Library on Saturday, February 7 at 1 p.m. Cunningham is best known as the photographer and co-author of the book “Crowns.” The book is the basis of the gospel musical “Crowns” that will be performed at the Hickory Community Theatre (H.C.T.) from February 6-22.
Cunningham attended college and taught in North Carolina before gaining national media attention as a photographer.
The program at the library is free and open to the public. Cunningham will share information about other projects, in addition to “Crowns.” Books will be available for purchase.
The library is located at 375 3rd Street N.E. For more information call 828-304-0500 ext. 7235.
Cunningham will also attend the opening performance of “Crowns” at H.C.T. on February 6. Purchase tickets online at www.hickorytheatre.org or call 828-328-2283.
In addition, he will be present at a "high tea time" at the Hickory Museum of Art on February 7 at 4 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to wear their own meaningful hats. Call 828-327-8576 or visit hickoryart.org for more information about the Hickory Museum of Art program.
Cunningham’s visit to Hickory is courtesy of the Hickory Public Library, the Hickory Public Library Endowment, the Hickory Community Theatre and the Hickory Museum of Art.
29-year-old Brittany Michelle Flack was arrested Tuesday (January 27) by authorities in Burke County. She’s charged with felony identity theft. Following the arrest, Flack was placed in jail under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Wednesday, January 28).
31-year-old Jessie James Silcox of Hall Dairy Road in Claremont was arrested Tuesday (January 27) by Probation and Parole Officers. He’s charged with one count of felony probation violation. Following the arrest, Silcox was detained at the Catawba County Detention Facility under $20,000 bond. A court appearance is scheduled for February 2.
20-year-old Alexander Monroe Vernon of Knight Street in Lenoir was arrested Tuesday (January 27) by Hudson Police Officers. He’s charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while impaired, and driving after consuming under the age of 21. Following the arrest, Vernon was detained at the Caldwell County Detention Center under $4,500 secured bond. He made a first court appearance Tuesday, the next District Court appearance is scheduled for March 5.
Hildebran Town Council voted to demolish a 98-year-old building and tower that sits on South Center Street. Council met Monday night and approved a motion to tear down the school building and tower. The lone dissenting council member was Wendell Hildebrand. Lee Lowman, Barbara Lowman, James Hollowell and Brenda Banks all voted in favor of the demolition. In the initial agenda, council was going to discuss the building, the vote on the demolition was added to the agenda Monday.
A period of public comments resulted in most speakers saying they wanted to save the building. However, published reports say many of the speakers were not Hildebran residents, which was also the case in a previous meeting in which comments were taken. While the structure looks good from the outside, council member Lee Lowman said the inside is beyond repair. Much of the inside of the building is reported to be in an extremely run-down condition.
The Town of Hildebran bought the building in 1988 from the Burke County Board of Education for $10. Since that time, new windows and a new roof have been added to the building. At this time, the doors are padlocked and most of the first floor is just used only for storage. At this point in time the building has one tenant, a sign company. The company's monthly rent reportedly comes close to covering the building’s annual insurance. This issue has been brought before Hildebran Town Council in the past, and those boards have voted to leave the structure standing. A motion was presented to shelve the vote until March, but that was voted down, 4-1.