There were four injuries yesterday (March 2) following an explosion and fire at a building on Highway 16 North near C&B Farm Road in Conover. The incident happened just after 2:30 p.m.
Conover Fire Chief Mark Hinson said the explosion occurred as a man was using a plasma cutter to cut the end off of a fuel tank. That man was airlifted from the scene to Wake Forest Medical Center with burns to 80% of his body. He remained hospitalized today with no additional update on his condition available.
Another man was injured and was treated and released at a local hospital. In addition, two Conover Firefighters suffered minor injuries. One was treated and released at the scene. The other was transported to the hospital. He was released at about 8:30 or 9 p.m. last night.
Chief Hinson said he believed the structure was no longer a listed business, but the owner did some odd jobs there and used the building to store some equipment.
Firefighters contained the fire after about an hour. The incident caused traffic to be detoured for several hours.
The Hickory Fire Department announces the retirement of two employees who have worked for the department for more than 20 years.
After 24 years, Darlene Huffman has retired from the Hickory Fire Department. Her interest in firefighting started as a volunteer firefighter with George Hildebran Fire Department, and she was hired as a Hickory firefighter on January 7, 1991. Huffman is certified as a Fire Service Instructor level II through the North Carolina Fire & Rescue Commission, a level II firefighter and a level III Fire & Life Safety Educator. In 2001, she was certified as an EMT, a CPR instructor, and teaches classes for the college.
In 2010, she became involved with the Pink Heals Tour and the first tour arrived in Hickory in 2011. This national tour supports persons who have been affected by cancer and raise awareness within the community. The tour consists of pink fire trucks that symbolize “community, hope, love, and rescue.” By traveling with pink fire trucks and wearing pink firefighting gear, this tour brings hope to communities where many are facing battles against cancer. Just watching cancer survivors sign the truck and listening to their stories of survival was inspirational to all involved; however, being able to donate $16,500 back to the community to help battle this disease will always leave a lasting impression.
For her work with Pink Heals, Huffman was awarded the 2012 Elk’s Firefighter of the Year award. Huffman resides in George Hildebran with her husband Kevin. In her retirement, she plans to teach part time for the college and may start a florist business.
After 26 years of service, Senior Firefighter Kenny Poole has retired from the Hickory Fire Department. Poole began his employment with the City of Hickory on February 16, 1989, when he was hired as a firefighter. Before working with the City, Kenny served as a volunteer firefighter with the Viewmont Fire Department.
During his career, he was certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and completed the operations level hazardous materials training. He also completed training as a certified level II Firefighter and in 2010; he was certified as a Technical Rescuer through the North Carolina Fire & Rescue Commission. Poole had the opportunity to work at all the fire stations. For the past 17 years, he also worked with Alexander County EMS.
Poole resides in Newton and during his retirement, he plans to work with the family business and enjoy riding his Harley.
38-year-old John Matthew Ward was arrested Monday (March 3) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with one felony count of obtaining property by false pretense. Following the arrest, Ward was placed in jail under $25,000 secured bond. He’s scheduled to appear in Superior Court March 30.
35-year-old John Yang of Jamestown Road in Morganton was arrested by Hickory Police early yesterday morning (March 2) on one felony count each of possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling or place for a controlled substance. Yang was accused of possessing 14.30 grams of amphetamine or methamphetamine.
He was taken into custody at about 3 a.m. without incident at the Quality Suites on 13th Avenue Drive S.E. and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $9,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled yesterday in Newton. He’ll next appear in a Catawba County courtroom on March 19.
53-year-old Jeffery Dean Kirby of Rattlesnake Lane in Lenoir was arrested yesterday (March 2) by Probation & Parole Officers in Caldwell County on one felony count of possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver methamphetamine and for a parole violation. Kirby was taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center with bond set at $100,000, secured. He was scheduled to make an appearance in District Court today in Lenoir.
The North Carolina Chapter of March of Dimes has awarded a grant of $25,000 to Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC) for its Maternity Services Centering Pregnancy Program for the 2015 year.
Community grants are intended to help the March of Dimes pursue its mission of improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. In 2013, the Foundation invested more than $4 million in active research grants in North Carolina, including some received by CVMC.
CVMC’s Centering Pregnancy program, which will be offered in English and Spanish, is a proven effective health care model that provides health assessments, education and support in a group setting, facilitated by a care provider. Since 2007, healthcare officials across the state have seen a substantial decline in prematurity rates amongst expectant mothers who participated in Centering Pregnancy programs.
Trish Hickling Beckman, Director of Maternity Services at CVMC, and Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright are serving as the 2015 Chairs for the Unifour March for Babies.
For more information on CVMC’s Centering program, contact Ms. Beckman at 828-326-3053 or at email@example.com. To connect with the North Carolina Chapter of March of Dimes, visit marchofdimes.org/northcarolina.
51-year-old Terry Lee Ayers of Persimmon Tree Road in Newton was arrested Monday (March 2) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with seven counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. Following the arrest, Ayers was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $98,000 bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday (March 4).
18-year-old Brittany Nichole Pearson of Hibriten Drive in Lenoir was arrested Monday (March 2) by Lenoir Police Officers. She’s charged with possession of methamphetamine, misdemeanor manufacture schedule IV controlled substance, and possession of schedule II controlled substance. Pearson was incarcerated at the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Tuesday, March 3).
38-year-old Shah Dion Harrison of 3rd Street NE in Hickory was arrested this morning (Tuesday, March 3) by Newton Police Officers. He’s charged with felony possession of marijuana, possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver schedule VI controlled substance, and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Following the arrest, Harrison was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $7,000 bond. A court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday (March 4).
A Newton man was sentenced to no less than 160 years of prison time for multiple sexual offenses spanning more than a decade. 43-year-old Daniel Richard Tutty pleaded guilty as charged in Catawba County Superior Court on Monday (March 2), to 46 counts of sexual offenses over an 11-year period with a minor female child.
The Honorable Hugh B. Lewis, Superior Court Judge from Mecklenburg County, sentenced Tutty to 160-201 years of active prison time in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections and issued a lifetime order for him to have no contact with the victim or her family. Tutty entered his guilty plea to 15 counts of indecent liberties with a child, nine counts of first-degree sexual offense, six counts of statutory rape, six counts of statutory sex offense, five counts of first-degree rape and five counts of sex offense in a parental role.
The offenses took place from 2002 to 2013, a period of time when the now 18-year-old victim was between the ages of 6-17, and often involved violence and/or physical force. The victim did not disclose the offenses for a long time because she was afraid of the defendant’s violent behavior.
The case, resolved less than two months after Tutty’s indictments, was investigated by Det. David Coffman of Newton Police Department. The District Attorney’s Office partnered with the Catawba County Department of Social Services and the Catawba County Child Advocacy and Protection Center during the investigation