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25-year-old Thomas Eugene Smith of 24th Avenue SE in Hickory was arrested this morning (Thursday, May 5) in Catawba County. Smith is charged on warrants from Burke County with statutory rape or sex offense when the defendant is greater than six years older than the victim, and indecent liberties with a child. Smith was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $75,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for Friday (May 6).

Thursday, 05 May 2016 05:21

New Police Chief Named In Hickory

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After 22 years of service to the Hickory Police Department (HPD), Major Thurman Whisnant will now serve as Hickory’s new Chief of Police. City Manager Mick Berry recognized Whisnant’s exceptional skill set and ability to lead HPD, following the retirement announcement of the current Chief of Police, Tom Adkins.  

Whisnant graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and also graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA.  He holds numerous certificates and licenses, such as an Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate through the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and is certified as a General Instructor with specialization in Law Enforcement Physical Fitness.  Whisnant has also completed hundreds of hours of job-related training during his tenure with HPD.

In addition to his responsibilities with HPD, Whisnant is also an engaged community member and is active in several civic organizations.  He serves as the City of Hickory liaison for the Community Relations Council and is a part of the Hickory Racial Justice and Reconciliation group, as well as a member of the Western Catawba County Kiwanis Club.  His past roles include Associate Director for the North Carolina Torch Run for Special Olympics, a member of the Board of Directors for the Rape Crisis Center, and a member of the Executive Board of Exodus Homes.

A Gaston County man was arrested and jailed under a quarter-million dollar bond for allegedly threatening a Lincolnton Police Officer. On Wednesday (May 4), law enforcement authorities in Gaston County arrested 47-year-old Jason Scott Webb of Point Circle in Belmont. He's charged with communicating threats, cyberstalking, and harassing phone calls. The warrants were taken out in connection with an investigation conducted by the Lincolnton Police Department.  

The investigation involved Webb threatening, cyberstalking, and harassing Lincolnton Police Department Detective Brent Heavner. Detective Heavner charged Webb in 2015 with felony counts of soliciting a minor by computer for a sexual act and delivering marijuana. Webb entered a guilty plea to Soliciting a Minor by Computer for a Sexual Act in October, 2015. Due to his conviction, Webb became a registered sex offender. Webb is also currently on probation for that conviction.  
   
During the months of March and April of this year, Detective Heavner began getting threatening e-mails and voicemails. An investigation determined that the e-mails and voicemails were being sent by Webb.  

Warrants were secured by Sgt. Dennis Harris of the Lincolnton Police Department. Following his arrest Wednesday, Webb was placed in the Gaston County Jail under $250,000 secured bond. He's scheduled to appear in District Court May 24.

Catawba County Emergency Management will be testing the Community Alert System next Tuesday (May 10), as part of their regular procedures to validate the system. This will only be a test.

The Community Alert System is an emergency notification system used by Catawba County government and its municipal partners: Catawba, Claremont, Conover, Hickory, Maiden, and Newton, to provide important information regarding emergencies and issues that could affect health, safety and security. The County’s Community Alert System, which is powered by CodeRED, can provide information to landlines, VOIP phones and cell phones as well as email and text messages. The system also sends messages using TTY messaging for the deaf/hard of hearing.

In the past couple of years, the Community Alert System has been used for chemical spills, floods, wildfires, information about the McGuire Nuclear Station, evacuations, hazard warnings, hostage situations, crimes that affected a specific neighborhood, searches for missing children or adults at risk, shelter in place advisories, water or sewer outages, road closures and public health information. The Community Alert System augments other public information methods that include radio, television, and social media in urgent and emergency situations.

Catawba County residents and businesses are urged to enroll their mobile devices and can register anytime for the Community Alert System at www.catawbacountync.gov/alert or by calling (828) 465-8230 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

31-year-old Roallenger Steven Jarrett of Sigman Street in Hickory was arrested Tuesday (May 3) by Probation and Parole Officers. He's charged with felony probation violation. Jarrett was locked up in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $50,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for next Monday (May 9).

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 11:25

More Info Released on Arrest of Conover Man

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More details have been released in the arrest of 28-year-old Justin Lynn Brandon. He was arrested early Tuesday morning (May 3) for a felony probation violation, plus misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana up to half an ounce, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.

He was arrested when Officers conducting a property check at the Days Inn on Fairgrove Church Road S.E. saw a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot. Officers approached and saw a marijuana pipe in plain view. Police searched the vehicle, which was occupied only by one person in the passenger seat, and found 0.9 grams of marijuana.

The passenger told Police that the vehicle’s driver was in a room at the hotel. Officers located the man, who initially gave them a false name and date-of-birth. He was then identified as Justin Lynn Brandon. After he was correctly identified, the outstanding felony warrant for a probation violation was found.

Brandon was taken into custody without further incident just after 3 a.m. The passenger was not charged. Brandon was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $16,000 secured bond. A Superior Court date was set for May 9 with a District Court appearance coming up on June 8.

42-year-old Mitchell Todd Bowman of Collettsville Road in Lenoir was arrested today (Wednesday, May 4) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with breaking and entering and felony larceny. Bowman was placed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $10,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for Thursday (May 5).

21-year-old Dustin Alexander Vines of Pope Lane in Lenoir and 24-year-old Katie Michelle Melton of West Stage Coach Trail in Lawndale were both arrested Tuesday (May 3) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. They're both charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Following their arrests, both suspects were locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. They're both scheduled to appear in District Court Thursday (May 5).

Hickory City Council met in regular session last night (Tuesday, May 3). During the public comment period, several people shared their concerns about North Carolina's controversial House Bill 2. Mayor Rudy Wright encouraged all citizens who have an opinion about HB2 to share their thoughts with their state legislators.

Minutes and second readings were approved unanimously by council. City Planner Dave Leonetti presented information about the Community Development Block Grant 2016 Annual Action Plan. During a public hearing on the plan, four people spoke in favor of the proposal. Council voted unanimously to approve the action plan.

Zack King with Catawba County Health Department presented information about the community health assessment. Mayor Wright recognized the passing of community activist Larry Pope and remembered his faithfulness in Council meeting attendance. He also recognized the passing of noted local journalist Charles Deal.

33-year-old Rory Marshall Clark was arrested this morning (Wednesday, May 4) by authorities in Burke County. He's charged with felony possession of schedule II controlled substance. Clark was placed in jail in Morganton under $3,000 bond. A court appearance was scheduled for today.