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30-year-old Joshua Dane Keener of US Highway 70 East in Hickory was arrested Friday (August 19) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with three counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Keener was locked up in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $75,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, August 22).

After recent flooding devastated parts of Louisiana, many people are eager to pitch in and help those affected.  Unfortunately, past catastrophes like tsunamis in Japan, Hurricane Katrina, along with other events have shown us that scammers are out to take advantage by tricking you into giving money, or even, as we reported last Friday (August 19), by selling you a flood-damaged car.

Attorney General Roy Cooper encourages North Carolinians to give generously to relief efforts for Louisiana flood victims, but be wary of charity scams. If you plan to donate, remember:

Don’t respond to out-of-the-blue emails, text messages or social media posts that ask you to give. Instead, contact the charity directly through their website or valid phone number.

Avoid pushy telemarketers who refuse to answer your questions or pressure you to give them a credit card number. Some telemarketers keep as much as 90 percent of the money they raise for charity for themselves. Your money will go further if you give to the organization directly.

Be cautious when giving through crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter.  Although many of these fundraising appeals are legitimate, crowdfunding sites don’t screen users for authenticity. Know who and what you’re really donating to before you give.

Don’t give cash, which can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by credit card. If you write a check, make it out to the charity, not to a fundraiser.

Protect your personal information. Never give your credit card or bank account number to someone you don’t know who contacts you, and don’t share personal financial information by email or text message.

Check out charities before you give. For detailed financial information about a charity, contact the NC Secretary of State’s office at (888) 830-4989 or secretary.state.nc.us/csl, or visit guidestar.org.

If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at ncdoj.gov.

The Stolen dog and car from Dollar General in Bethlehem last Wednesday (August 17) have been recovered. An updated from the Alexander County Sheriff's Office says that the dog is Okay and has been returned to the owner. A suspect is in custody and the investigation is continuing. The Sheriff's Office planned to release more information today (Monday, August 22).

Monday, 22 August 2016 04:42

Hickory Police Searching For Missing Teens

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The Hickory Police Department is currently attempting to locate Tiffany Elizabeth Mckee and Seiara Nichole Matthews, who were reported as runaways by their families last Tuesday (August 16).

Mckee was last confirmed being seen last Monday (August 15), at approximately 11 p.m. at her residence in the 900 Block of Highway 70 SW in Hickory. Matthews was last confirmed being seen last Monday, at approximately 10 p.m. at her residence in the 700 Block of 5th Avenue SW in Hickory.

Tiffany Elizabeth Mckee is a 16-year-old white female with long dark hair with blue tips. She is 5’4” and weighs approximately 110 pounds. Mckee was last seen wearing black shorts with a white stripe and a camouflage shirt. She is also believed to have been wearing a silver necklace with a Batman emblem on it.  

Seiara Nichole Matthews is a 16-year-old black female with short black hair. She is 5’5” and weighs approximately 145 pounds.  

Mckee and Matthews are friends and are believed to be together. Contact the Hickory Police Department at (828) 328-5551 with any information relating to Tiffany Elizabeth Mckee or Seiara Nichole Matthews.

District Attorney David Learner, after reviewing multiple video accounts of the officer-involved shooting that occurred at Wal Mart in Lenoir on Tuesday, Aug. 16, has determined that the officers acted properly and the use of deadly force was justified.

DA Learner met Friday with Lenoir Police Chief Scott Brown, Master Patrol Officer Brandon Thomas and Sgt. Brett Ingram, confirming to the officers and the department that the shooting of 32-year-old Carl Marcus Nivens was justified.

The District Attorney reviewed video surveillance from Wal Mart, body camera video from the officers, preliminary autopsy photos and preliminary toxicology screens that indicated the presence of amphetamines and methamphetamine in the deceased subject. He also reviewed findings of the lead investigator from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation in making his determination that the officers acted appropriately.

“The officers’ decisions to use deadly force were fully justified and undoubtedly avoided injury to the officers and innocent bystanders,” Learner said. “Nivens was actively shooting at Sgt. Ingram who returned fire, killing the suspect.”

The officers initially were placed on administrative leave but returned to active duty effective last Friday (August 19).

The Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, in cooperation with county and local governments, announced today (Friday, August 19) that two local businesses have been awarded with North Carolina Department of Commerce Rural Economic Development Division grants in order to expand or initiate their operations.

Lenoir pharmaceutical manufacturer Exela Pharma Sciences has received a $500,000 grant to facilitate a planned $2.55 million investment at the former Expo building across from the company’s headquarters along U.S. 321. Meanwhile, 80 Acres Investments, a new vertical farming company in Granite Falls, has received a $125,000 grant to make improvements to the former Hollin Gate building. The grants will assist in the creation of 50 new, full-time jobs.

A manufacturer and developer of pharmaceutical products, Exela Pharma Sciences plans to renovate and lease the 86,427-square-foot building that is owned by Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation.

The renovation project will allow Exela to expand its manufacturing lines to produce sterile injectable syringes and infusion bags for hospital use. The site will also be utilized for quality assurance laboratories, packaging, and labeling.

A company already in operation in Ohio, Arkansas, and Alabama, 80 Acres Investments is involved in the engineering and manufacturing of equipment that is utilized in vertical farming operations that are installed into refurbished stainless steel containers.

The company has purchased a 5,500-square-foot building at York View Court, along with adjacent acreage, and the renovations will allow the company to meet the growing demand for vertical farming processes that are proving to be increasingly popular with national food distribution companies and retailers. Vertical farming utilizes LED lighting, enhanced irrigation techniques, and climate-controlled functions to provide a year-round growing cycle that both increases product yield while reducing the overall carbon footprint.

The renovation project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2017. The company plans to hire 10 new, full-time employees.

18-year-old Trevin Ali Brown of 28th Street N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police just before eight o’clock last night (August 18) on one felony count of robbery with firearms or other dangerous weapons. He was also served outstanding warrants from June of this year for felony first-degree burglary, felony second-degree kidnapping and misdemeanor simple assault & battery, plus another warrant from December 2015 for felony possession of cocaine.

The robbery charge stems from an incident on July 30. An 18-year-old male victim reported that he was contacted by the suspect through Snapchat regarding a gun that was for sale. The two met at Hickory East Apartments where the suspect allegedly pointed the gun at the victim and fled with both the money and the gun. The suspect and the victim are acquainted.

The outstanding warrants from June come in connection to an incident at the Civitan Court Apartment complex on 17th Avenue N.E. in Hickory. On June 14, two victims heard a knock at the door. A 19-year-old female victim came downstairs and was briefly assaulted. The 23-year-old male victim also came downstairs where he was assaulted and dragged away from the residence. Neither victim was transported to the hospital.

Brown is the third person arrested in connection to that case. 20-year-old Michael Emmanuel Tucker, Jr. of Hickory was arrested on July 10 and 19-year-old Cedric Devonta Ellis of Hickory was arrested on July 29.

Brown was taken into custody without incident yesterday at a residence on 5th Avenue S.W. in Hickory. He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $95,000 secured bond. An appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.

A black 2009 Nissan Cube was stolen from the parking lot at the Dollar General store off of Highway 127 in Bethlehem. The victim’s dog, Gabby, was in the vehicle and was also stolen. The dog is a white Shih Tzu.

The incident unfolded at about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday (August 17) as the victim parked in front of the store with the engine running and the air conditioning on as the dog was left in the vehicle. Two white males entered the store and quickly exited. They got into the parked Nissan and drove away with the dog still inside.

The suspects were both described as white males with slim builds in their mid-20s.

The Alexander Co. Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Anyone with information regarding the incident or the whereabouts of the dog or the vehicle should call the Sheriff’s Office at 828-632-1111 or call Crime Stoppers at 828-632-8555.

Friday, 19 August 2016 05:35

Break-in Charges Filed Against Lenoir Man

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24-year-old Morgan Brooks Sumpter of SW Melrose Street in Lenoir was arrested Thursday (August 18) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felony counts of breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering. In addition, Sumpter is charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Sumpter was confined in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $2,500 secured bond. A District Court date is set for Monday (August 22).

45-year-old Brian Kelly Ferguson of NW Rankin Street in Lenoir was arrested Thursday (August 18) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor resisting a public officer. Following the arrest, Ferguson was locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $20,000 secured bond. He was scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday. 

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