Hickory City Council met in regular session last night (Tuesday, April 19).
Under new business, Council voted to authorize staff to apply for TIGER Grant Funding from the US Department of Transportation. TIGER Discretionary Grants provide funding of up to 80 percent of project costs in urban areas for surface transportation infrastructure projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region, or a metropolitan area. Hickory's TIGER request for the total project cost will be 25.4 million dollars. The grant would be used to revitalize infrastructure and connect the central business district with surrounding neighborhoods, commerce, recreational, and education facilities.
Council discussed the Hickory Public Housing Authority during last night's meeting. Mayor Rudy Wright recapped the history with the Housing Authority and HUD and explained that a voluntary merger of the authority was not feasible. The City Attorney agreed that there has been no movement towards a voluntary merger.
43-year-old Dustin Clay Armstrong of Arbor Spring Drive in Granite Falls was arrested Tuesday (April 19) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with violation of electronic house arrest. Armstrong was locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $300,000 secured bond. No court date was listed.
29-year-old Brandon Stuart Sweitzer of Holly Springs Drive in Granite Falls was arrested Tuesday (April 19) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver methamphetamine. Sweitzer was confined in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. No court date was listed.
17-year-old Oscar Alexis Junco Matamoros of Sandlewood Court in Newton was arrested Tuesday (April 19) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering. Matamoros was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $20,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Wednesday, April 20).
Burke County Commissioners have still not made a decision on the approval of schematic jail plans. At last night's (Tuesday, April 19) regular commissioners meeting, the board voted 3-2 to remove the item for decision from the agenda which directed commissioners to approve the schematic jail plans. Commissioner Jack Carroll made the motion. Commissioner Wayne Abele said he is not ready to build a new jail and said the board has rushed into this project. He added that they have not thought this thing through. The board agreed to hold a special meeting next Tuesday, April 26, at 3 p.m. to further discuss the new jail in Burke County.
In other action last night, following a public hearing during which nobody spoke, Burke County Commissioners unanimously approved a Building Reuse Grant request submitted by Fonta Flora for $150,000. The local brewery is looking to expand operations. The expansion will result in 10-12 new jobs.
In addition, following another public hearing during which there were no speakers, The board unanimously approved a Building Reuse Grant in the amount of $500,000 for Project R-SX, a local textile company. Burke County and Hildebran would each have to provide a $12,500 local match. The grant would be used for building improvements. The company will bring 50 new jobs to the county.
The Hickory Police Department has designated two parking spaces in the front west public parking lot at police headquarters that are intended to be a “Safe Exchange Zone” and are clearly marked with “Safe Exchange Zone” signs.
The spaces are open to anyone who needs a safe area to complete legal negotiations, such as personal sales transactions for items purchased online. The Hickory Police Department is also offering the area to blended families to use for child custody arrangements.
The area establishes a place where people may come without having to make exchanges at their homes or in random parking lots. The area is under surveillance and is meant to deter transaction fraud and other crimes.
There are no guarantees expressed or implied that make the area 100% safe.
53-year-old Vellessia Crunkleton Church of the East Bandys Crossroads in Catawba was arrested by Hickory Police at about 2 p.m. yesterday (April 18) on one felony count each of breaking & entering and larceny after breaking & entering.
She was arrested after Police were called to the Walmart store on Highway 70 S.E. where a Loss Prevention Officer saw Church conceal several items and pass the last point-of-sale without paying for them. Church had previously been banned from the store.
She’s accused of taking a table runner, salt & pepper grinders and WellPatches (which are used for pain relief). The items were valued at $29.
Hickory Police arrived and took Church into custody without incident. She was processed and released under a $3,000 unsecured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.
43-year-old Angela Lingerfelt Juarez, aka 'Shorty', of Gastonia Highway in Lincolnton and 44-year-old Robert Castillo of Millers Park Lane in Vale, were both arrested Monday (April 18) by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers. Juarez was charged with one felony count of Conspiracy to Sell Methamphetamine, one misdemeanor count of Resisting a Public Officer, and served with outstanding Orders for Arrest for Failure to Appear, Larceny, and First Degree Trespassing. Castillo was charged with one felony count each of Possession of Methamphetamine and Conspiracy to Sell Methamphetamine. He was also charged with one misdemeanor count of Possession of Schedule II Controlled Substance.
On Monday, the Lincoln County Narcotics Unit arrested the two suspects after Juarez allegedly called detectives and offered to sell them drugs. According to detectives, the woman inadvertently called an undercover detective thinking he was someone else.
Detectives say that's when the undercover narcotics investigator continued to have a conversation with her acting as if he was the person she intended to call. The woman and man had several more phone conversations with the undercover and set up a meeting to exchange money and methamphetamine.
Detectives then conducted a surveillance and undercover operation in an attempt to purchase the drugs. An undercover detective gave the couple money for drugs. Once the couple realized the undercover was not who they thought they called they left the area, keeping the money.
Detectives followed the couple to a business near Lincolnton and approached them. The woman had outstanding warrants for her arrest and was taken into custody. The man possessed methamphetamine and a small amount of hydrocodone pills and was taken into custody. Juarez was placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under an $8,000 secured bond. Castillo received a $12,000 secured bond.
Both suspects were scheduled to make first court appearances in Lincoln County District Court today (April 19).
33-year-old Crystal Dawn McGee of Sunrise Circle N.E. in Lenoir was arrested by Hickory Police at about 2:45 yesterday afternoon on a number of outstanding warrants. From the Morganton Dept. of Public Safety, she faces charges for felony larceny and possession of stolen goods. Those warrants were issued on April 7. In Caldwell County, McGee was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on a warrant issued on April 4. Hickory Police charged her with resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.
She was taken into custody without incident on 2nd Avenue Place S.E. in Hickory, just off of Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard. McGee was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $12,000 secured bond. She has court dates on April 20 in Morganton; on May 5 in Lenoir; and on June 8 in Newton.
The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners met in regular session last night (Monday, April 18).
The board held a public hearing to receive comments on a local jobs incentive for the initiative entitled "Project LG". The name of the new company is "80 Acres Urban Agriculture LLC", they also go by the name "Carolina Acres". They're establishing a manufacturing plant in Granite Falls. The company does indoor growing of fruits and vegetables year round. They're purchasing the former Hollin Gate Outlet facility on York View Court in Granite Falls. 35 new jobs will be produced by the company. None of the citizens in attendance spoke during the public hearing, and Commissioners approved the incentive grant unanimously.
In addition, the board received information from Emergency Management Coordinator Kenneth Teague regarding a FEMA grant to acquire property damaged during a microburst event that occurred on July 12, 2013. 28 homes were damaged and two were destroyed as a result of the event. The grant amount is $219,932, Commissioners approved the request to use that money towards recovery efforts.
Commissioners also recognized retiree Cheryl Whittington, who has served with the Caldwell County Emergency Services since the late 1990s and has served as Administrative Assistant since 2004.