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More than 50 people showed up to the Collett Street Recreation Center last Thursday night (January 22) to learn about plans for additions to the Catawba River Soccer Complex and give their input. The City of Morganton Parks and Recreation Department hopes to add two more regulation fields to the complex, additional parking, more greenway trail, a championship croquet course, and a 1.4 acre expansion to the dog park. The new fields could host regulation soccer, football, and rugby games,

The estimated cost of the project is $795,000, and the Parks and Recreation Department is applying for a North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant to help fund the improvements. If approved, the grant would pay $250,000 and require a local match of $250,000. The Morganton Parks and Recreation Foundation would pay $197,500, the City of Morganton would pay $197,500, and staff is seeking a private donation of $150,000 towards the project.

Parks and recreation Director Gary Leonhardt told the crowd that the project hinges on receiving the $250,000 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant, and raising the local funds. Morganton City Council voted to apply for the grant earlier this month. Leonhardt said during the meeting: "If we don't receive the grant, then the project likely won't be done, but I believe we can get the grant. There is a lot of demand for soccer right now, and growing interest in the community for rugby and lacrosse, which could be accommodate by these fields. When you combine that with the addition of the croquet course, dog park expansion, and greenway trails, this project meets a lot of needs, which is the kind of project the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund likes to fund."

Leonhardt said that demand for regulation fields is very high, and often time soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby leagues are playing on softball and baseball fields that really aren't adequate, and it's difficult to give the current fields at the complex adequate time to rest between games.

There was a positive response and support for the project from the attendees and several people spoke of the positive economic impact the additional fields would have. Andrew Fleming with the Table Rock Rugby Club, Mark Miller and Rusty Hollifield Morganton with Bobcats Football, and David Fletcher, Assistant Athletic Director and soccer coach at Freedom High School, all said they supported the project and look forward to having more fields to use. The additional regulation fields would allow for larger soccer tournaments and possibly some semi-pro football tournaments.

The City will be notified about the grant this July. If the City receives the grant, then the project plans will be finalized and sent out to bid. Once the fields are constructed, they will need time for the turf to grow and stabilize. Leonhardt said that if the city does receive the grant, it would still be a couple years out before the fields would be ready for play.

The idea to build a soccer complex came from a comprehensive master plan developed in 1997. The first two fields of the Catawba River Soccer Complex were completed in 1999 with funding from PARTF. Two more fields were added in 2009, also funded in part by a PARTF grant. The complex has been used by the Burke Soccer Association, Burke County Public Schools, Western Piedmont Community College, Asian Soccer Leagues, Latin American Soccer Leagues, the Morganton Lacrosse Club, the Morganton Rugby Club, and the Bobcats Semi-pro Football Club. The soccer complex currently offers four, lighted regulation soccer/lacrosse fields, a dog park, concession stand, field house with office and first aid room, 80-person picnic shelter, multi-feature playground equipment, and greenway trail.

29-year-old Matthew Edward Mullins of 34th Street Drive in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police Friday (January 23). He’s charged with felony possession of a stolen firearm, misdemeanor carrying a concealed gun, felony possession of methamphetamine and simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance.

He was arrested when an Officer on foot patrol at the Motel 6 on 13th Avenue Drive S.E. smelled marijuana coming from room 336. The Officer approached the room and identified its only occupant as Matthew Mullins. An initial search of the room turned up a baggie containing 11 Xanax pills.

When Mullins was searched, a Taurus TCP .38 caliber handgun and $1,360 in cash were found on his person. A search warrant was obtained, leading to the discovery of 0.9 grams of meth in the room.

Mullins was taken into custody without incident and detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under a $100,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (January 26) in Newton.

Monday, 26 January 2015 05:08

Morganton Woman Charged With Forgery Offenses

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34-year-old Christina Nicole Stogner of Dysartsville Road in Morganton was arrested Friday (January 23) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. She’s charged with two counts apiece of forgery of an instrument, uttering a forged instrument, and obtaining property by false pretense. Following the arrest, Stogner was incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $20,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (January 26).

Sunday, 25 January 2015 13:48

Claremont Business Destroyed By Fire

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Claremont Hardware and Farm Supply in Catawba County was destroyed in a weekend fire. The warehouse, which stood on the 4800 block of South Depot Street for approximately 50 years was a total loss. At approximately 3:30 p.m. Saturday (January 24) firefighters responed to the structure, which was engulfed in flames. Sixteen different agencies including the Catawba Fire Department responded with more than 100 firefighters. It started about one hour after the owners closed for the day. Firefighters were reportedly able to salvage several pieces of equipment and two adjoining warehouses. Fire officials are currently investigating to find out the cause of the fire. No damage estimate has been released.

Friday, 23 January 2015 17:23

I-85 to Close Twice Sunday in Gaston County

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As construction progresses on the new weigh station along Interstate 85 in Gaston County, the N.C. Department of Transportation will temporarily close a portion of the interstate on Sunday, January 25, for survey work and a blasting operation.

Crews are planning to close a portion of I-85 twice on Sunday, for roughly 15 minutes each time. The interstate will close first at 7 a.m. for surveying and then again at 9 a.m. for blasting and surveying. The blast itself should last only a few seconds and will sound like a low rumble of thunder.

Sunday’s blast and surveying work will follow the same protocol as blasts done last fall along the new weigh station construction site.

For southbound traffic, crews will close the entrance ramp from Exit 13 to I-85 South and pace traffic starting after Exit 14 (N.C. 274). For northbound traffic, both exits from N.C. 74 onto I-85 north at Exit 10 will be closed to traffic. They will pace traffic starting at Exit 8 (N.C. 161) for I-85 North.

When all traffic on both north- and southbound I-85 is clear of the blasting and surveying area, then the project contractor will begin the blasting work. After the blasting, the contractor will make sure I-85 is clear of any debris and then traffic will be released to its normal flow. The amount of time for traffic flow to return to normal after the blast will depend on traffic volume in the area at the time of the blasting.

The new weigh station will include construction of the truck scale building and booth, as well as grading, drainage and paving around the new facility. Sloan Construction, a division of Reeves Construction Company, was awarded the contract.

Once completed, the new weigh station will have space for five offices and three unisex restrooms, as well as a lobby with a vending area for truck drivers. The existing weigh station on I-85 northbound (about 10 miles southwest of Charlotte) will close after the new facility opens.

The project is scheduled for completion in November 2016.

Friday, 23 January 2015 14:25

Safe Harbor Rescue Mission to Hold Event Monday

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The Safe Harbor Rescue Mission in Hickory will hold an event this coming Monday (January 26) called Hope Rising in Our City. The event is intended as a time of worship and prayer for homeless persons, persons suffering from addiction and those less fortunate in the community.

Hope Rising in Our City will take place at Christ Church’s Fairgrove Campus on 1800 Fairgrove Church Road, across from Wendy’s. Doors will open and coffee will be served at 9 a.m. with the program set to begin at 9:30 a.m.

Safe Harbor is located at 210 Second Street S.E. in Hickory. Call 828-326-7233 or email info@safeharborrescuemission.org.

Friday, 23 January 2015 13:56

Hickory Woman Charged with Felony Hit & Run

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33-year-old Melanie Jean Lacy of 11th Avenue N.E. in Hickory was arrested Tuesday (January 20) by Hickory Police on one felony count of hit & run with damage to property and driving while license revoked, a misdemeanor. She was taken into custody without incident on 11th Avenue N.E. in Hickory. Following her arrest, Lacy was taken to the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $2,500, secured. She has since been released. An appearance in District Court was scheduled for February 11 in Hickory.

Friday, 23 January 2015 13:30

Man Killed in Accident Yesterday in Boone

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21-year-old Jacob Dylan Whitaker of Wake Forest, N.C. was killed in a two-vehicle accident in Boone at approximately 7:35 last night (January 22). Boone Police, the Boone Fire Dept. and Watauga Medics all responded to the scene of the crash on N.C. Highway 105 near Dogwood Road.

Mr. Whitaker was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the second vehicle, 21-year-old Jonathan Dylan Reeder refused medical treatment. There were no other occupants in either vehicle.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Relay For Life of Catawba County was recently awarded the prestigious All American Relay Award. The award recognizes Relay For Life events that demonstrate exemplary efforts in overall growth, successful implementation of key development in leadership, teams & survivorship, event branding and demonstrated diversity outreach. Of 583 Relay For Life events across the South Atlantic Division, Catawba County was one of only two to receive this award and one of 87 of the 4,890 Relay For Life events nationwide.

The award will be presented at the Relay For Life of Catawba County Kickoff Party and 20 Year Anniversary Celebration on Monday, January 26, at 6 p.m. The event will be held at Catawba Valley Medical Center in the AHEC Building, 810 Fairgrove Church Road S.E. in Hickory. There will be food, prizes and awards as part of the celebration. The public is invited.

Relay For Life of Catawba County exceeded its fund-raising goal in 2014 by $66,835 with a record-setting total of $193,835.

Relay For Life mobilizes communities throughout the country to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones lost to cancer and raise money for the fight against cancer. For more information, contact the American Cancer Society at 704-674-3214 or visit www.relayforlife.org/catawbanc.

24-year-old Rodney Dale Reese, Jr. of Lee Pearson Road in Granite Falls was arrested at about 9:45 yesterday morning (January 22) on one felony count of possession of a schedule II controlled substance. He was also charged with misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer. In addition, he was served outstanding warrants from January 13 for two felony probations and from January 6 for misdemeanor cyberstalking and injury to personal property.

He was arrested in connection to an incident on January 20 when Officers on patrol on Highway 70 S.W. saw a vehicle with an expired license plate. A vehicle stop was conducted on Highway 321 at exit 43-A. Three people were in the vehicle, including Reese, who was in a rear passenger seat. Reese initially gave Officers a false I.D.

As Officers approached the vehicle a second time, they saw Reese attempting to swallow contraband. He spit out a baggie containing several smaller baggies that had a crystal residue on them. He still had another bag in his mouth, leading Officers to suspect that Reese had swallowed an unknown quantity of what they believed to be crystal meth.

Reese was searched, leading to the discovery of a glass pipe in his pants pocket. Digital scales and empty baggies were found in the vehicle. Reese was then transported by E.M.S. to Frye Regional Medical Center. Police arrested Reese when he was released from the hospital yesterday.

The driver was cited for the expired tag, but no other charges were filed.

Reese was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $33,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.