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Catawba County Public Health reports an increased number of cases of infectious diarrhea recently and is asking the public to be vigilant about thorough handwashing and disinfection, especially in homes with children. Parents are also asked to keep sick children at home from school or childcare, especially if they have diarrhea. Handwashing should be performed at key times, such as after going to the bathroom, before preparing meals, before eating and after changing a diaper.

The recommendation follows laboratory-confirmed cases of Shigella, a highly infectious disease that can cause severe diarrhea. Catawba County Public Health is working with childcare providers and schools, along with physicians and state epidemiological experts to stop the spread in the community. Because it is highly contagious in school and child care settings, state leaders work with the local health department to assist with prompt intervention measures that may help prevent the spread of Shigella to others. The uptick is similar to cases in several other counties across the state.

Symptoms of Shigella include fever, abdominal cramps, chills, headache, body aches or diarrhea. It is important for parents, caregivers and educators to watch for potential symptoms in children and in other people in the home. Anyone with symptoms should stay home from school, childcare and other group settings. Persons with symptoms should not go to work, especially if they are in foodservice or healthcare settings.

For kindergarten-age and younger children, it is recommended that parents take children with symptoms to their medical providers for evaluation and possible testing. Older children may return to school 48 hours after symptoms resolve.

For more information, contact a primary care provider or call Catawba County Public Health at 828-695-5800.

Monday, 26 September 2016 07:18

Two Arrested in Catawba County on Meth Charges

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20-year-old Jonathan William Meyer and 21-year-old Vanetta Lynn Davis, both of the same address on Double Circle Drive in Conover, have been arrested by Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Officers. Meyer was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine. Both suspects were charged with conspiracy to manufacture meth and possession or distribution of meth precursors.

They were both placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility Friday (September 23). Meyer is being held without bond. Davis’ bond was set at $30,000, secured. First appearances in District Court were scheduled today (September 26) in Newton.

Monday, 26 September 2016 07:10

Governor in Catawba County this Morning

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Governor Pat McCrory and Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla III will be in Catawba County this morning. They’ll be at Catawba Valley Community College’s Corporate Development Center where an economic development announcement is planned. The event is set for 10 a.m. today. The Governor’s appearance is not open to the general public.

The Corporate Development Center is located at 2664 Highway 70 S.E. in Hickory.

33-year-old Brian Jerome Robinson, 26-year-old Icey Chennell Gooden and 32-year-old Brandy Nicole Davis, all of the same address on Jamestown Road in Morganton, have been arrested by Burke Co. Sheriff’s Officers in connection to the murders of Albert Alexander Austin and Mr. Spencer “Jermain” Murray. In addition, Scott Devon Hemphill of Farmer Street in Charlotte was taken into custody in Mecklenburg County by Officers with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Team earlier this morning. With the exception of Davis, the suspects were charged with two counts each of felony murder. Davis was charged with felony accessory after the fact to homicide.

Events leading to the arrests began shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, September 18, when Burke County Deputies were dispatched to Canoe Creek Way in Morganton in reference to a burned vehicle. Deputies found what appeared to be human remains in the vehicle. Investigators learned that the vehicle was a Cadillac Deville belonging to Albert Alexander Austin, but registered to Spencer “Jermain” Murray.

Mr. Austin’s remains were identified earlier this week. The second victim has now been identified as Mr. Murray, with scientific verification pending.

Through further investigation, Authorities were able to identify four suspects as the persons responsible for the murders. Robinson, Davis and Gooden were taken into custody without incident yesterday afternoon (September 22).

The three were jailed in the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility. Robinson and Gooden were held without bond. Davis was given a $250,000 secured bond. They were scheduled to make first appearances in a Burke County courtroom today. Hemphill is also being held without bond. No court date is currently listed for him.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information should call the Burke County Sheriff at 828-438-5506 or Burke County Crime Stoppers at 828-437-3333.

Other agencies involved include the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Oak Hill Fire & Rescue, West End Fire & Rescue, the Burke County Fire Marshall’s Office, the Burke County Medical Examiner, the North Carolina License & Theft Bureau, the Forest City Police Department and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.

31-year-old Joshua Aaron Crosby of Mountain View Boulevard in Morganton was arrested yesterday afternoon (September 22) by Hickory Police. He's charged with felony counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, second-degree kidnapping and attempting to obtain property by false pretense. Crosby was also charged with speeding and misdemeanor larceny.

On Saturday, September 3, a 28-year-old male victim from Morganton was approached by a woman in the parking lot at the Target store on Catawba Valley Boulevard. The woman asked if the man wanted to buy a Target gift card at a discounted rate. The man declined. A short time later, the man reconsidered and approached the vehicle, expressing an interest in the gift card.

There were three people in the vehicle. They told the victim to get in. He did so, and the vehicle left the parking lot and headed north on Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard. During that time, the victim said he was choked and a knife was displayed. The suspects obtained money from the victim, who was then released on 7th Street S.E. The victim refused treatment from E.M.S. It’s not clear if he was acquainted with any of the vehicle’s three occupants.

Crosby is the third person arrested in connection to the case. 27-year-old Jessica Dawn Flynn of Harwell Road in Catawba and 25-year-old Ryan Scott Gibson of Woodstone Drive in Newton were both previously taken into custody; Gibson on the day of the incident and Flynn the following day.

Crosby was also charged in connection to an incident the same day in which he attempted to return merchandise for a refund that he had previously stolen from Target. Employees saw him conceal a flashlight and headphones and exit the store without paying. He came back later for a refund, but was not allowed to return the items. That incident apparently led to the identification of the suspects in the kidnapping case.

Following his arrest yesterday, Crosby was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $41,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was set for today in Newton.

Friday, 23 September 2016 10:22

Two Arrested for Robbery at Firehouse Subs

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17-year-old Ahmad Shaakim Smith of 1st Street N.W. and 21-year-old Demontae O’Neil Spence of 16th Street N.E., both from Hickory, were arrested by Hickory Police yesterday (September 22). They were each charged with one count of felony robbery with firearms or other dangerous weapons. Spence was also served a warrant from August 2015 for misdemeanor failure to appear.

The two were arrested in connection to an armed robbery Sunday (September 18) at Firehouse Subs on North Center Street in Hickory, which was reported the following day on WHKY. The suspects allegedly entered the restaurant, which closed at 9 p.m., through a rear door and took an undisclosed sum of cash from an employee who was counting the money. One of the men displayed a handgun. The suspects exited through the same back door and fled on foot. No injuries were reported.

Smith, who is listed on H.P.D.’s arrest report as a student at Hickory High School, was taken into custody without incident at 2:30 p.m. at the school. Spence was arrested without incident at H.P.D. headquarters shortly after 11 p.m. yesterday. Both suspects were placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for Smith set at $50,000, secured, while Spence was given a $25,025 secured bond. They were scheduled to make first appearances in District Court today in Newton.

A company working for the City of Morganton has started the process of draining, cleaning, and inspecting several water tanks on the City’s water system. Water Resources Director Brad Boris said the tanks will be isolated from the system during the maintenance, so customers shouldn’t have any problems, but residents will see workers climbing and checking the tanks. If customers do have water issues, such as low water pressure, they should call the Water Resources Department at 828-438-5276.

Utility Services out of Georgia is performing the work as part of the City’s Water Tank Maintenance Program. The program started three years ago. The Grandview tank was drained and inspected Thursday (September 22) and Lake James is on the schedule for today (Friday, September 23). The following tanks will be drained and inspected in the future. Dale Circle on September 28, Valdese on October 5, Salem on October 11, and Glen Alpine on October 18.  

The Water Tank Maintenance Program will ensure that every water tank on the city water system gets an exterior inspection and interior wash out and inspection every other year. One year, the exterior of a tank will be checked, the next year, the interior of the tank will be checked. The City’s budgeted $309,000 this year to fund the program for 2016-2017.

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Subcommittee Meetings will be held on Monday (September 26) at 8 a.m. in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Government Center, 100A Southwest Boulevard in Newton. These meetings were rescheduled for Monday after having previously been cancelled with the adoption of the Board’s 2016 Meeting Schedule last November.

Also, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting scheduled for Monday (October 3), will be held at 7:30 a.m. in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Government Center.

The Burke County Sheriff's Office is continuing to seek information on suspects on the agency's Most Wanted List.

36-year-old John Yang remains on the Most Wanted List. He's wanted on a felony charge of failure to appear on a count of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver controlled substance, and failure to appear on a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Yang's last known address was 2871 Cougar Valley in Morganton. He's been on the Burke County Sheriff's Office Most Wanted List since December 11, 2015.

27-year-old Anthony Takeo Sherril is still wanted by authorities in Burke County. He's being sought on felony counts of breaking and entering to a place of worship, larceny, and possession of stolen property. Sherril's last known address was 5521 Miller Mill Road in Hickory. He's been on the Most Wanted List since August 14, 2014.

You can see the entire Most Wanted List at the Burke County Sheriff's Office website, www.burkesheriff.org. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of any of the suspects on the list you can call 828-438-5500 or e-mail admin@burkesheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip to Morganton-Burke Crime Stoppers at 828-437-3333.

34-year-old James Michael Helton of North Caldwell Avenue in Newton was arrested by Conover Police Officers. He's charged with assault by strangulation and interfere with emergency communications. Helton was placed in the Catawba County Detention Facility this morning (Friday, September 23) under no bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today.

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The individuals depicted have been arrested but not convicted at the time of story postings. This information does not infer or imply guilt of any actions or activity other than their arrest. We make no warranty or guaranty as to the accuracy of this data.

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