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Beginning today (Wednesday, May 27), at 8 p.m., the N.C. Department of Transportation will shift traffic on Interstate 40 West to a temporary detour. Lane and ramp closures will be in place during the traffic shift, which is part of continued work on the I-40/77 Interchange Improvement Project in Statesville.

The I-40 West traffic shift and detour are necessary so crews can remove the old I-40 bridges over U.S. 21, continue completing the new I-40 bridges and complete a temporary access to U.S. 21. Crews will finish shifting traffic into the temporary pattern by 6 a.m. on Thursday (May 28). Traffic will remain in this detour for 60-90 days, weather permitting.

Work on the traffic shift will begin with a left lane closure on I-40 West to open up areas in the concrete barrier wall so that crews can tie-in the new traffic pattern to the existing route. All westbound traffic will be shifted to the left, across the old median and onto the new concrete pavement. Then, just before N.C. 115, traffic will be shifted back to the right and onto the original westbound lanes.

While traffic is shifted onto the detour, crews will also close the ramp from I-77 South to I-40 West.

Traffic traveling I-77 South to I-40 West will use the following detour route: Take I-40 East to Exit 154 at U.S. 64, and at the end of the ramp, turn left, go to the light and turn left to return to I-40 West. This ramp closure and detour will be in place for 60-90 days, weather permitting.

During the overnight work to shift traffic onto the detour, the U.S. 21 Ramp to I-40 West will be closed. This closure will allow crews to remove and replace pavement markings and place a concrete barrier wall for the new traffic pattern from U.S. 21 to I-40 West. Also during this time, the left lane of I-40 East will be closed from N.C. 115 to U.S. 21 to allow crews to place a concrete barrier wall.

Traffic traveling on US-21 to I-40 West will use the following detour route: Traffic will take I-40 East, to I-77 North, keep right and continue on the loop ramp to I-40 West. This ramp and lane closure will only be in place while crews implement the traffic shift and should be removed by 6 a.m. on Thursday.

Traffic is encouraged to slow down and use caution while the traffic shift is implemented and while the detour is in place. Signs and message boards will alert motorists to the new traffic pattern.

Officials in Burke County are still in the process of trying to find a location for a new jail. According to a published report, county officials still have some obstacles to overcome for the Government Drive site to be a viable option for a jail and a possible courthouse. One issue that officials are dealing with is whether a traffic light can be installed at the entrance to Government Drive.

In the published report, Burke County Manager Bryan Steen is quoted as saying he is waiting to get information from the North Carolina Department of Transportation about placement of a traffic light at the intersection of Enola Road and Government Drive before the county moves forward in the process.

According to the report, that's not the only issue with that site, another is an oversight in zoning at the property. When county commissioners held a work session to discuss the jail last week, Architect Jack Hemphill said when the city did an overhaul of its zoning ordinance last year, the zoning of the property on Government Drive no longer allows jails, despite the fact that there is already one there. A Morganton official has reportedly confirmed that this is the case, but has also says that this issue will be corrected and it will be brought before the Morganton planning board at their next meeting.

The consensus of the board of commissioners was to move forward with a new location after Morganton City Council voted not to close a portion of Bouchelle Street for the jail to be built downtown behind the courthouse. Commissioners are considering not only building a new jail on Government Drive but a new courthouse on the property. During the work session, Hemphill told commissioners there is enough county-owned property on Government Drive for a 256-bed jail and courthouse with room to expand in the future. County officials believe a jail and courthouse need to be together for security reasons.

A suspect wanted for 24 sex offense charges is being sought by Iredell County Sheriff's Officers. 45-year-old Rudy Anthony Prickler Jr. of Coddle Creek Highway in Mooresville is wanted by authorities.

On April 24, 2015, a report was filed with the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office by the Department of Social Services in reference to the sexual assault of a young child by a male family member. The case was sent to the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit and was assigned to Detective Sergeant C M Benfield. The child was scheduled for a forensic interview at the Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center. During that interview the child disclosed numerous occasions when she had been sexually abused in Prickler’s home.

On these occasions, Prickler showed the child erotic material, and sexually assaulted her. She also disclosed that Prickler took photographs of her while she was unclothed. After the interview, Detectives searched Rudy Prickler’s home in southern Iredell County. During this search, numerous items of evidence were seized.

At this time, 24 warrants have been issued for Rudy Prickler; 12 counts of First Degree Sex Offense with a Child under 13, and 12 counts of Indecent Liberties with a Child. The investigation is continuing and more charges are possible. At this time Prickler’s whereabouts are unknown and the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance from the public in locating Rudy Prickler. If anyone has information on the location of Rudy Prickler you are urged to contact the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office at 704-878-3180 or communications at (704) 878-3100.

26-year-old Edward Ryan Williams, who is listed on police reports as a homeless person from Hickory, was served a felony indictment by Hickory Police at about 7:30 Friday evening. He was charged with two felony counts of trafficking in heroin or opium

He was charged in connection to a vehicle stop in February of this year. Five grams of heroin and 4.3 grams of marijuana were allegedly found in the vehicle. At the time, Alfred Wright was charged with trafficking and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling or place for a controlled substance. Williams initially faced a misdemeanor marijuana charge; however, after further investigation, the felony trafficking charge was added.

Williams was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $100,000 secured bond. An appearance in Superior Court was set for May 29 in Newton.

From February 2015 through the present, Lincolnton Police have conducted a sting operation targeting child predators soliciting children through various social media websites. The operation was spearheaded by the L.P.D. Criminal Investigations Division, with assistance from the Narcotics Division, the Patrol Division and the Community Services Division.

17 people have been charged as a result of the investigation. The offenders are from various backgrounds and locations. They agreed to meet an undercover Officer posing as either an under-aged girl or boy from Lincolnton in order to have sexual activity with them.

Investigators received over 1,000 responses from various social media outlets during the operation. Some of the offenders brought alcohol and controlled substances with them to meet with what they believed to be under-aged children.

The lead investigator in the case is Det. Brent Heavner. Det. Heavner initiated the operation after investigating a case in which a young victim was sexually assaulted. The operation was designed as a proactive effort to prevent such cases. Several Lincolnton Police Officers received specialized training, in conjunction with the Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center.

Also assisting were nine other local and statewide law enforcement organizations, as well as the National Exploited Children’s Network.

The persons arrested are all males, ranging from 24 to 53 years of age. They are from Burke, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, McDowell and Union counties. The investigation is ongoing and further arrests are possible.

Commission meetings are scheduled for next week in Hickory.

A Special Meeting of the City-walk Subcommittee of the Bond Implementation Commission will be held on Monday (June 1) at 6:00 p.m. at the Winkler Park Activity Center, Winkler Park, 2500 Clement Boulevard.

The purpose of this Special Meeting is to approve the minutes of the May 19 meeting, recap the city-walk bus tour, discussion of subcommittee members for ideas, suggestions, and more related to the project and other related items, and establish the next meeting date for the Subcommittee meeting.  

A Special Meeting of the River-walk Subcommittee of the Bond Implementation Commission will be held on Monday at 4:00 p.m. at the Winkler Park Activity Center.

The purpose of this Special Meeting is to discuss an overview of the project, a bus tour of the river-walk corridor, discussion with subcommittee members for ideas, suggestions, and more related to the project and other related items, and establish the next meeting date for the Subcommittee meeting.  

A Special Meeting of the Streetscapes and Gateways Subcommittee of the Bond Implementation Commission will be held on Tuesday, (June 2) at 3:00 p.m. at the Highland Recreation Center at Stanford Park Community Room, 1451 8th Street Drive NE.

The purpose of this Special Meeting is to discuss an overview of the project, a bus tour of the streetscapes and gateways, discussion with subcommittee members for ideas, suggestions, and more related to the project and other related items, and establish the next meeting date for the Subcommittee meeting.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 10:41

Arson Suspected In House Fire in Hickory

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A house fire in Hickory is under investigation as a case of arson. According to Hickory Police Department and Hickory Fire Department reports, at approximately 9:30 p.m. Monday, a passerby notified Hickory firefighters about a possible structure fire at 3814 1st Street Drive NW. Firefighters responded with two engines, one ladder, one rescue and two command units.

Firefighters arrived to find the front porch area of the home on fire and the fire was quickly brought under control. Damage was confined to the outside of the home and damage estimates are approximately $30,000 according to the Hickory Fire Department, $50,000 is the estimate given by Hickory Police. At the time of the fire, the home was vacant. No injuries were reported. Catawba County EMS and Hickory Rescue also responded.

Investigators from Hickory Fire and Police Departments determined the cause of the fire to be intentionally set. An accelerant sniffing dog from Caldwell County Fire Marshal’s Office was also brought in to assist. The investigation is currently ongoing.

Anyone with information about this fire is asked to contact Hickory Fire Department Division of Fire & Life Safety at 828-323-7522 or Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551.

36-year-old Darrin Keith Leonard was arrested Friday (May 22) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with felony trafficking heroin. Following the arrest, Leonard was placed in jail under $20,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Tuesday, May 26) in Morganton.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 05:39

Stolen Vehicle Charge Filed In Burke County

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36-year-old John Wesley Hooper was arrested Sunday (May 24) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Following the arrest, Hooper was placed in jail under $5,000 secured bond. A court appearance is scheduled for June 9 in Morganton.

The City of Hickory will be installing a new sidewalk and curb and gutter, beginning Wednesday (May 27). This will be occurring along a portion of 9th Avenue, SE that lies between Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard and 15th Street, SE, and, also, along 15th Street, SE from 9th Avenue, SE to Tate Blvd, SE. This street is known to locals as Punches Hill.

The project will include new storm drainage, some decorative retaining walls, new curb and gutter on the south side and new sidewalk for pedestrian traffic on a portion of the south side of 9th Avenue, NE, along with landscaping and new resurfacing, once the project is complete. This sidewalk and street improvement project will greatly improve pedestrian safety and enhance the feel of the street.

The project will take approximately 120 days to complete, depending on weather. This will necessitate the need for this section of roadway to be closed, except for local traffic only, during the construction period. Local residents will have access at all times with minor delays. The project work hours will be from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., until school lets out for summer break, to allow for free travel of school buses. Once school is out, the work hours will change to 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to allow for the evening commute traffic to flow freely. The street will be reopened at the close of each workday to allow for normal traffic flow.

The appropriate signage will be installed to allow for the public to take alternative routes to avoid this construction zone and to minimize delays. Please follow signage and flaggers when the work zone is active to insure the safety of the workers and the traveling public.

Please feel free to direct any questions pertaining to the project to Steve Miller, Assistant Public Services Director or Brian Tart, Street Division Supervisor at (828) 323-7500.