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The front entrance to Morganton City Hall and the front payment drop box will be closed next week (May 24-31) while Verizon Wireless adds a new cell phone antenna to the Morganton Trading Company water tank.

Residents will be able to park in the front parking lot at City Hall, but they will have to walk around to the courtyard to enter the building. Residents can also park or use the payment drop box in the rear parking lot. The front entrance should be back open Monday, June 1.

33-year-old Edwin Lawrence Lawing of Old Conover Startown Road in Newton was arrested today (Friday, May 22) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with felony larceny and felony probation violation on warrants from 2012. Following the arrest, Lawing was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $102,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance was scheduled for today (Friday, May 22).

36-year-old Elisha Lynnette Boughman of “F” Avenue S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 6:35 p.m. yesterday (May 21) on one felony count of larceny by anti-inventory device.

She was initially arrested in February 2015 for shoplifting at the Kohl’s store on Catawba Valley Boulevard. A Loss Prevention Officer observed Boughman as she allegedly took girls clothing and a Nike fleece without paying. All of the items were recovered.

She was taken into custody yesterday without incident at Frye Regional Medical Center and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $23,000 secured bond. A Superior Court appearance in Newton was set for today.

23-year-old Tristian Gilmore, 21-year-old Morgan Newsome and 23-year-old Avery Forney, all from Charlotte, have been arrested by Watauga Co. Sheriff’s Officers. They were each charged with two counts of trafficking in opium & heroin.

On May 20, Officers with the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit and Patrol Officers conducted an undercover narcotics operation. In an effort to stem the flow of narcotics into the High Country, Detectives arranged for a large quantity of heroin to be delivered to Boone.

During the operation, the subjects fled the scene, resulting in a high-speed car chase through Boone. Boone Police joined in the pursuit and stopped the suspect vehicle at the intersection of Depot and River streets.

Officers took Gilmore, Newsome and Forney into custody. They recovered 50 grams of heroin and a semi-automatic pistol.

Each suspect was jailed under a $250,000 secured bond. They will next appear in District Court on June 18.

The investigation is ongoing. Further arrests are expected.

23-year-old Ashley Jordan Sigmon and 47-year-old Marcus Otto Gienger, both of the same Thomas Drive, Newton address, were arrested by Newton Police Officers. They’re both charged with possession of methamphetamine. Sigmon is also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Following their arrests, both suspects were detained this morning (Friday, May 22) in the Catawba County Detention Facility. Sigmon’s bond was set at $10,000, Gienger’s bond was set at $15,000. They’re both scheduled to appear in District Court today.

39-year-old Jason Scott Calloway of Fox Road in Old Fort was arrested Thursday (May 21) by Conover Police Officers and Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with two counts of felony larceny, two counts of conspiracy to commit felony larceny, two counts of possession of stolen goods or property, three counts of misdemeanor larceny, two counts of resisting a public officer, and one count apiece of second degree trespassing, possession of drug paraphernalia, misdemeanor probation violation out of county, and obtaining property by false pretense. Following the arrest, Calloway was incarcerated at the Catawba County Detention Facility under $35,500 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Friday, May 22).

35-year-old Jason Wayne Bare of West Memorial Highway in Harmony was arrested by Iredell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with two counts of domestic violence protection order violation, felony stalking, and violation of a pretrial release order.

On May 5 a victim went to the Sheriff’s Office with to report that she was being continuously harassed by Jason Bare. Deputies confirmed that there is a Valid Domestic Violence Protective Order for the victim on Bare and Pretrial Release Conditions are in place ordering him to stay away from the victim.

According to the victim the first time Bare violated the order was November 2014 when he went to the victim’s house and knocked the windows out of the victim’s vehicle while she and her children were at home. Deputies arrived on the scene and arrested him.

The investigation shows that Bare violated the order a 2nd time on Feb 15th, 2015 when he entered a store the victim was in and refused to leave after seeing her. Bare was arrested and charged by Det. Sgt. C. Harwell of the Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit for this incident and he is still awaiting trial.

The victim has reported that Bare has on two separate occasions within the last 3 weeks passed by her in a public area and made an overt effort to harass her. Det. Sgt. C. Harwell spoke with Magistrates further about the case who found Probable Cause in the case to charge Bare.

Bare is currently being held in the Iredell County Detention Center under a $55,000 bond. He's scheduled to appear in District Court June 3.

A Charlotte man credits Newton Police Sgt. Jason Briggs with saving his life during a medical emergency on a cruise ship.

Briggs and his family were on a cruise in the Bahamas when a fellow passenger, Barry Crabtree of Charlotte, went into cardiac arrest. Briggs and his wife jumped into action, immediately beginning life-saving protocol by performing CPR on Crabtree until the ship’s medical personnel arrived.

Crabtree was resuscitated and transported to a local hospital for stabilization before he was brought back to the United States to recover. Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman and Police Chief Don Brown presented Briggs with the Life-Saving Pin at a recent City Council meeting. Briggs will wear the pin on his police uniform.

Crabtree and his family were at the meeting to offer their thanks to the Briggs family.

Friday, 22 May 2015 04:38

Gas Leak Results In School Evacuation

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At approximately 8:54 a.m. Thursday, Hickory firefighters were dispatched to a gas leak at Hickory Career Arts and Magnet School, located at 409 8th Avenue NE. Firefighters responded with two engines, one ladder, one rescue and two command units.

On arrival firefighters found a 1.5” gas main that had been damaged by construction crews, with an active natural gas leak. Piedmont Natural Gas was immediately notified and within 15 minutes were on scene with the gas leak controlled. The school was evacuated and students relocated to a nearby safe location.

Catawba County EMS was also on scene for standby and no injuries were reported.

A jury convicted a Conover man of felony intentional child abuse inflicting serious physical injury during Catawba County Superior Court Wednesday (May 20). 27-year-old Luis Alberto Villa-Campos was found guilty of the offense that left a then-3-month-old female child with multiple broken limbs and additional body trauma from an alleged incident of tugging on the child between him and the child’s mother, 26-year-old Ruby Hoard of Conover is also facing similar charges related to the case. Her trial will be held at a later date.

Shell Pearce, Villa-Campos’ defense attorney, requested that sentencing for his client be postponed. Following a meeting with counsel in chambers, the Honorable Jeffrey Hunt, Superior Court Judge from Transylvania County, granted the request. Sentencing will take place August 24, when Hunt will be on the bench again for Catawba County Superior Court.

The jury needed 70 minutes of deliberations to find Villa-Campos guilty as charged, bringing the three-day trial to a close.

On April 1, 2014, the infant was taken to the home of Maria Campos-Jimenez (the defendant’s mother) by him and Hoard, and left there with two other children. After Villa-Campos and Hoard left, the child began to cry intensely. Campos-Jimenez tried to console her but could not. She noticed the girl’s leg was swollen and contacted her son to find out why the infant was injured. He told her he did not know.

Because of that discussion and an apparent injury, Campos-Jimenez told her son she was taking the child to the hospital. Eventually, the infant was admitted and evaluated at Catawba Valley Medical Center where it was determined she had multiple broken bones, bruising and swelling. She later was transported to Brenner Children’s Hospital at Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem.

Neither Villa-Campos nor Hoard showed up at either hospital to check on the child. Dr. Stacy Briggs of WFUBH told investigators and shared testimony that the infant suffered two broken arms and a broken leg, noting that her injuries were not accidental.

Villa-Campos initially denied any wrongdoing and said he did not know how the child’s injuries occurred, though he admitted he knew she was hurt. Villa-Campos later said there was an altercation between him and Hoard prior to April 1, and both of them were holding the child. They began pulling the infant in opposite directions, an act he said may have injured her.

Pearce argued that his client was protecting the child during his altercation with Hoard and did nothing to harm her, adding that Villa-Campos had “already been punished enough for what may or may not have happened.” He remains in custody at the Catawba County Detention Facility where he is being held without bond.

Det. Jason Reynolds investigated the case for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Michelle Lippert assisted with prosecution of the case for the District Attorney’s Office, and Michael Van Buren provided preparation work.