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The Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division has been conducting an ongoing investigation, known as “Operation Seven/Eleven,” for the past several months focusing on the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine in the county.

Investigators targeted several suspects who specifically manufacture meth using the “one pot” method, which has become an epidemic locally and nationally. The suspects typically buy or steal precursor items needed to manufacture meth from local businesses in and around the county.

In 2012, Catawba County ranked third in the state for meth labs located and dismantled. The county ranked fourth in the state in 2013. The arrest and successful prosecution of the suspects rounded up during Operation Seven/Eleven is intended to decrease the number of meth labs in 2014 by serving as an example of law enforcement’s zero-tolerance policy toward meth cooks.

Narcotics Officers identified 11 suspects who were involved in making meth or who assisted the cooks by providing precursor items. Investigators presented their cases to the Grand Jury on July 21, leading to 59 separate charges.

Last Wednesday (July 23), Deputies and Narcotics Investigators successfully located nine of the 11 suspects. Two suspects may have left the state to avoid prosecution, but are actively being sought. All other suspects are in custody.

Still at large are Joseph Edward Morin and his mother, Georgia Lynn Starks, both from Newton. They were charged with five counts each of manufacturing meth, conspiracy to manufacture meth and possession of meth precursors. Both suspects have been entered into the National Crime Information Center database as wanted persons. Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts should call the Catawba Co. Communications Center at 828-464-3112.

24-year-old Ashley Nicole Reynolds from Claremont faces 13 separate charges including manufacturing meth, conspiracy to manufacture meth, trafficking meth by manufacture & possession and possession of meth precursors. Reynolds was given a $50,000 secured bond.

25-year-old Julia Marie Flowers from Catawba was arrested on seven separate charges including manufacturing meth, conspiracy to manufacture meth, trafficking meth by manufacture & possession and possession of meth precursors. Flowers remains in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $121,000 secured bond.

18-year-old Jacob Rayce Carr from Newton faces six separate charges including manufacturing meth, conspiracy to manufacture meth, trafficking in meth by manufacture & possession and possession of meth precursors. Carr has been confined in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $325,000, secured.

35-year-old Wesley Michael Sain from Hickory was charged with manufacturing meth, trafficking meth by manufacture & possession and possession of meth precursors. Sain remains in custody under a $75,000 secured bond.

28-year-old Cody Lee Weiss from Newton has been arrested on 13 separate charges including manufacturing meth, conspiracy to manufacture meth, trafficking in meth by manufacture & possession and possession of meth precursors. Weiss was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $575,000 secured bond.

26-year-old Kevin Matthew Cook of Catawba was charged with conspiracy to manufacture meth and trafficking in meth by possession & manufacture. Cook was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $150,000, secured.

48-year-old William Jonathan McNeil of Newton has been arrested on one count of conspiracy to manufacture meth. He also faces charges for manufacturing meth, possession or distribution of meth precursors and misdemeanor larceny. McNeil has been confined in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility. He was given a $160,000 secured bond.

29-year-old Brandon Kyle Hensley from Maiden has been arrested on one count of manufacturing meth. Hensley is currently in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $10,000 secured bond.

And, 26-year-old Samantha Lynn Metz from Maiden has been arrested on one count of manufacturing meth. Metz remains in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $10,000, secured.

Most of the suspects arrested are scheduled to appear in Superior Court on October 6 in Newton. In addition to their October 6 appearances, Sain has a District Court date on August 20 and McNeill is due in District Court on December 15. Cook’s Superior Court date was set for September 2. The only listed court dates for Hensley and Metz were appearances today (July 30) in District Court.

42-year-old Troy Dean Bush of N.W. Main Street in Lenoir was arrested by Lenoir Police yesterday (July 29) on charges of assault on a female, communicating threats and assault with a deadly weapon. Bush was taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center with bond set at $2,500, secured. He will appear in District Court on August 19 in Lenoir.

16-year-old Nicholas Anthony Santellan of Highland Avenue N.E. in Hickory has been arrested by Conover Police on charges of felony possession of marijuana, maintaining a place for a controlled substance and possession with intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance. He was jailed early this morning (July 30) in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $5,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.

34-year-old Emily Kacey Robbins of West Davidson Avenue in Gastonia has been arrested by Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Officers and charged with one felony count of possession of cocaine and one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana.

Narcotics Investigators operating on a tip conducted a surveillance operation near a High Shoals business Monday night that led to Robbins’ arrest. Officers saw two vehicles involved in what appeared to be a drug transaction. When the vehicles left the scene, Investigators stopped both cars a short distance away. Robbins was taken into custody on drug charges.

She was released from jail after posting a $5,000 secured bond. Her next appearance in District Court was scheduled for August 14.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 08:46

I-40 Access to ncDataCampus Nears Completion

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North Carolina’s ncDataCampus, a 70-acre business park in Catawba County, will soon have completed access from I-40, providing enterprise data center users a fully served, ready for development option in North Carolina’s Data Center Corridor. Completion of the access is scheduled by mid-August.

The Data Center Corridor is home to data centers for Apple, Google, Facebook, AT&T, WiPro, Disney, Bed Bath & Beyond and others. The corridor continues to be an option for enterprise users seeking redundancy, cost savings and reliability in a Mid-Atlantic facility.

Users have a choice of up to three protected data center sites surrounded by a 20MW solar facility. Duke Energy powers the site via an on-site substation.

The ncDataCampus is owned by the Catawba County Property Development Corporation, a 501(c)3 economic development arm, and is being developed specifically for data center users. Special incentives and rapid permitting options exist to facilitate quick development.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 08:20

Lincolnton Woman Drowns in Denver

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The body of a drowning victim at Lake Norman has been located several feet away from where she was last seen.

36-year-old Elisabeth Anna Burford of Rock Ola Lane in Lincolnton and a friend had been swimming off a pier on the 4600 block of Mitchell Lane in Denver. The man told authorities that he went inside the residence and when he returned the woman was missing. She was reported missing at about 4:15 p.m.

Sherrill’s Ford Fire & Rescue divers located the body at 6:40 p.m. several feet from the end of the pier. She was identified and the family has been notified.

The Denver Fire Department, Sherrill’s Ford Fire & Rescue, the East Lincoln Fire Department, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Officers, Lincoln County E.M.S. and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputies all responded to the scene.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 07:23

Escaped Inmates Reportedly Captured in Georgia

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According to published reports, 20-year-old Calvin Lee Metcalf of Bakersville, N.C. and 25-year-old Phillip Nicholas Metcalf of Spruce Pine have been captured. The two men, who are reported to be cousins, were arrested this morning (July 30) in Gordon County, Georgia after escaping yesterday in Avery County.

The Metcalfs were being held in McDowell County on breaking & entering and larceny charges out of Mitchell County. They were being taken to Avery County yesterday as part of an ongoing investigation. At about 4 p.m., the two men reportedly overpowered an Avery County Deputy, taking his service weapon and his patrol vehicle.

Both men are due to appear in a Mitchell County courtroom on August 8.

No further details are available at this time.

20-year-old Calvin Lee Metcalf of Bakersville, N.C. and 25-year-old Phillip Nicholas Metcalf of Spruce Pine have escaped from the custody of Deputies in Avery County. The incident occurred at about 4 p.m. yesterday (July 29). Authorities across North Carolina and surrounding states are searching for the two men.

They were being held in McDowell County on breaking & entering and larceny charges out of Mitchell County. They were being taken to Avery County yesterday as part of an ongoing investigation. According to published reports, the two assaulted an Avery County Deputy and made their escape.

They are believed to be traveling in a gray 2011 four-door Dodge truck with a camper cover, tinted windows and black running boards bearing license tag number AEW-7350.

The Metcalfs are considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information regarding the suspects is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 07:04

Maiden Woman Accused of Embezzling from Wal-Mart

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33-year-old Meghan Black Cook of H.E. Propst Road in Maiden has been arrested by Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Officers on one felony count of embezzlement.

Cook is accused of embezzling money from the Wal-Mart store on N.C. Highway 73 in Denver where she was an employee.  Wal-Mart Loss Prevention told Officers that Cook made 51 cash refund receipts for medication that had been purchased and took money totaling $4,035.  The incidents occurred between April 2 and July 24 of this year.

Cook confessed to the theft and was placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $10,000 secured bond.  She will appear in District Court on August 7.

Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley will break ground on the Women Build House this Saturday (August 2) at 10 a.m. at the Glen at Green Park on 4th Street S.W. in Hickory. The public is invited to attend.

The house is being built in partnership with Ge Moua and Vicky Lee and their daughters, five-year-old Valerie and ten-month-old Viviana. Ge works at the Target Distribution Center as a warehouse worker while Vicky just completed her degree as a Medical Assistant. Ge and Vicky qualified for a Habitat home by meeting Habitat’s three eligibility guidelines: need, ability to repay the non-profit loan and willingness to partner with Habitat as evidenced by completion of homeowner readiness classes, completion of 250 sweat equity hours and a down payment on their home.

The Women Build house is a result of the work of the local Women Build Leadership Team that has raised nearly $60,000 in the past year through community donations, grants and the Home Tweet Home Birdhouse Auction in May.

The team is currently seeking teams of women who are interested in getting involved in the construction of the home and preparing for next year’s Women Build. Anyone interested should call the Habitat offices at 828-328-4663.

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