A Morganton man will serve an active prison sentence of at least seven years following his guilty plea to possession of a firearm by felon, assault inflicting serious bodily injury, soliciting gang activity and admitting to his status as a habitual felon during Burke County Superior Court.
31-year-old Randall Kyle Ballard was sentenced Wednesday (January 3) to a prison term of seven to nine years by the Honorable Robert C. Ervin, Superior Court Judge from Burke County. The defendant will serve his sentence in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
Ballard’s sentence length was enhanced by his habitual felon status stemming from prior convictions for possession of stolen motor vehicle in Burke County, and possession of a weapon by prisoner and felony larceny in McDowell County.
Ballard and two co-defendants assaulted the victim at a Burke County residence on Sept. 19, 2015. The victim was severely beaten and was hospitalized as a result of the attack. Following the assault, the victim was taken outside where several men, including the defendant, fired guns and claimed to be part of the Aryan Brotherhood.
The investigation further revealed that Ballard was using the assault to initiate one of the co-defendants, James Thomas Farr, into the Aryan Brotherhood gang. Ballard and James Dean Farr, the other co-defendant, are both validated gang members. All three defendants have now been convicted of charges stemming from the attack.
Daniel Strauss and Stephen Ritchie investigated the case for the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. Michelle Lippert handled prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.
The National Weather Service is forecasting sub-freezing temperatures and dangerously low wind chills for Caldwell County through Saturday, January 6, 2018. Due to the anticipated cold weather, Warming Centers will be available throughout Caldwell County during this time period. Caldwell County’s Department of Emergency Services is announcing they are partnering with area volunteer fire-rescue agencies and government locations and will operate seventeen (17) warming centers around the County which will be available to anyone in need of a warm place during normal operating hours. All residents who are vulnerable to extreme cold and who do not have sufficient heat in their homes or are stranded in vehicles are encouraged to seek warmth in any of the following locations until the close of business and/or the specified times. These warming centers are provided to offer relief from the severe cold and will not be operating as full shelters, nor offering medical support, food or drink.
All branches of the Caldwell County Public Library System will be open as warming centers during regular business hours;
• Lenoir Branch, 120 Hospital Ave NW, Lenoir Mon-Tue-Thurs 9:00AM-8:00PM, Wed-Fri and Sat 9:00AM – 5:30PM
• Hudson Branch, 530 Central St., Hudson, Mon-Wed-Thurs-Fri 9:00AM-5:30PM, Tues 11:30AM-8:00PM
• Granite Falls Branch, 24 South Main St., Mon-Tues-Wed-Fri-Sat 9:00AM-5:30PM, Thurs 11:30AM-8:00PM
Warming centers are open at the following Caldwell County Government locations during normal business hours:
• Caldwell County Health & Human Services Building, 2345 Morganton Blvd SW, Lenoir (8 am - 5 pm, Mon-Fri)
• Caldwell County Administrative Building, 905 West Ave, Lenoir (8 am – 5:00 pm Mon-Fri)
The following fire-rescue agencies will be open as warming centers during regular business hours and available for extended periods based on needs. On these days, in cooperation with the fire-rescue agencies in Caldwell County, these warming centers will be available 24-hours/day by calling (9-1-1 Communications) at 828-757-2324 who will then notify the agency of the need and the on-call Emergency Management staff;
• Collettsville Fire & Rescue, 5430 Adako Rd, Lenoir
• Gamewell Fire & Rescue, 2806 Morganton Blvd SW, Lenoir
• Granite Falls Fire & Rescue, 119 N Main St, Granite Falls
• Grace Chapel Fire & Rescue, 4548 Grace Chapel Rd, Granite Falls
• Hudson Fire & Rescue, 122 Mt Herman Rd, Hudson
• Kings Creek Fire & Rescue, 3420 Wilkesboro Blvd, Lenoir
• Little River Fire & Rescue, 4800 Oak Hill School Rd, Lenoir
• North Catawba Fire & Rescue, 2064 Connelly Springs Rd, Lenoir
• Patterson Fire & Rescue, 1414 State Rd 1560, Lenoir
• Sawmills Fire & Rescue, 4068 US Highway 321A, Granite Falls
• Valmead Fire & Rescue, 1757 Main St NW, Lenoir
Lenoir Emergency Outreach Shelter (LEOS) – Operated by Caldwell County Yokefellow, 1129 West Avenue, Lenoir (24-hr/day)
Additional options for keeping warm are available during the day:
• Stores, malls, restaurants
• Neighbor's home
Caldwell County Emergency Services also encourages people to follow these safety tips when temperatures are extremely cold:
• Minimize outside activities, particularly among the elderly and very young. Check on family members and neighbors who may be more vulnerable to the cold.
• Pets are also sensitive to the cold; remember to consider your pets’ needs when planning outside activities.
• Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Wear a hat and mittens/gloves to stay warmer.
• Be aware of frostbite. If a part of the body loses feeling and the skin feels waxy or looks white or grey, warm gently and seek medical help.
• Watch out for hypothermia. Shivering, memory loss, confusion, slurred speech, and drowsiness are all warning signs. Seek medical attention for signs of hypothermia.
• Use caution when heating your home. For tips on how to safely use space heaters, fireplaces, woodstoves and refer to the U.S. Fire Administration’s home heating safety handout.
• If using a space heater, be aware of the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
(News release from Caldwell County Government)
49-year-old Andrew Thomas Watts was arrested Thursday (January 4) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of trafficking in methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a felon. Watts was arrested at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, he was being held in jail in Morganton following his arrest under $80,000 secured bond. Superior Court dates are set for February 5 and March 5.
20-year-old Julius Quinton Carson of 10th Avenue SE in Hickory was arrested Thursday (January 4) by Hickory Police Officers. He's charged with felony possession of cocaine. On Thursday Hickory Police assisted Probation Officers at 112 10th Avenue SE. Police found 1.1 grams of cocaine at the residence. Carson was arrested without incident.
Following the arrest, Carson was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $10,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (January 5) in Newton.
Unemployment rates rose across most of the Greater Hickory Metro and most of the state of North Carolina according to the latest report released Thursday (January 4) by the North Carolina Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division. The statistics are for the month of November.
Alexander County's unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent from 3.4 percent in October. Burke County has a jobless rate of 4.3 percent, that's up from 3.9 percent in the previous report. Caldwell County's unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, which is down from 4.6 percent in October. Caldwell is the only county in North Carolina to see a decrease in unemployment. Catawba County's jobless rate jumped to 4.2 percent, up from 3.9 in the last report.
The Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area or MSA has an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent in the current report, that's up from 4 percent even in October. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton is tied for the fourth lowest unemployment rate among 15 MSAs in the state.
The statewide unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, up from 4.1 in October. Unemployment rates increased in 99 of North Carolina's 100 counties, with Caldwell being the only county with a decrease. Tyrrell County has the state's highest unemployment rate at 8.1 percent, while Buncombe County has the lowest at 3.4 percent.
23-year-old Chaston Miriah Wilson of NE Nuway Circle in Lenoir was arrested Thursday (January 4) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She was charged with one felony count of forgery of an instrument. Following the arrest, Wilson was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $5,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for Thursday.
With predicted temperatures near single digits and a wind chill near zero, Catawba and Caldwell County Schools have announced that they will operate on a two-hour delay today (Friday, January 5). That includes Catawba's Quest program and Caldwell's WrapAround program. Other school systems operating on a two-hour delay are the Hickory Public Schools, Newton-Conover City Schools (students and staff), Burke County Public Schools (students and staff) and Alexander County Schools.
43-year-old Eric Eugene Sigmon of Conover will spend at least six years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple assault charges and kidnapping. The Honorable Nathaniel J. Poovey, Superior Court Judge from Catawba County, handed down the sentence during Catawba County Superior Court on Tuesday (January 2).
Sigmon pleaded guilty to felony counts of first-degree kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, plus misdemeanor assault on a female and two counts of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon in the presence of a minor. Sigmon, who had no significant prior criminal history, was sentenced six-to-eight years in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
The charges were the result of a domestic situation between the defendant and a female victim that occurred on March 16 & 17 of last year. Sigmon stomped the victim with his feet, stabbed her in the leg with a knife and strangled her until she lost consciousness. He also locked the victim in a bedroom and struck her in the head with a gun.
Three children were in the home at the time of the assault. The children were interviewed at the Child Advocacy & Protection Center of Catawba County. Their statements were consistent with those made by the victim. Sigmon also struck one of the children with a flashlight. In addition, the defendant held a gun to the victim’s head and hit her with a flashlight and his fists in the presence of at least two of the children.
Stacy Huffman investigated the case for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant District Attorney Jamie Adams handled prosecution for the State.
25-year-old Rebecca Nicole Larcinese was arrested today (January 4) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with felony counts of possession of schedule II controlled substance and probation violation. Following the arrest, Larcinese was placed in jail in Morganton under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Friday (January 5).
36-year-old Christopher Lee Ingle was arrested Wednesday (January 3) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of possession of schedule II controlled substance and probation violation. Ingle was arrested at an address on Old NC 10 in Hickory. He was placed in jail in Morganton under $8,000 secured bond. Ingle has a District Court appearance Friday (January 5) and a Superior Court date February 5.
30-year-old Misty Michelle Hughes of York Road in Granite Falls was arrested Wednesday (January 3) by Hudson Police Officers. She's charged with felony common law robbery. Hughes was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (January 4).
29-year-old Brandi Michelle Collins of Pax Hill Road in Lenoir was arrested Wednesday (January 3) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with felony larceny of a motor vehicle. Collins was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $20,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (January 4).
26-year-old Allen Jebriaun Audrey of Wheeler Street NW in Lenoir was arrested Wednesday (January 3) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession of methamphetamine. Audrey was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for January 22.
Caldwell County water customers in the Collettsville area were allowed to resume normal usage of their water Wednesday (January 3) after testing showed it was clear. Residents were advised to use bottled water or boil water for consumption after a major water line break on Collettsville Road and Abington Road and side roads last Friday (December 29). Over 300 residences were without water for a day while crews worked to repair the lines. After a large repair, water is tested to make sure that there is no bacteria in the lines.