The Hickory Elks Lodge recognized the Firefighter and Police Officer of the Year during its 12th annual Elks Americanism Awards & Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, February 21. The award recognizes those men and women who have exemplified selfless service to the community, both on the job and in volunteer activities. Each of the departments’ chiefs conducts the nomination process.
The Firefighter of the Year is Hickory Fire Department Battalion Chief Matt Hutchinson and the Police Officer of the Year is Master Police Officer (M.P.O.) John W. Ray with the Hickory Police Department.
Battalion Chief Hutchinson recently provided research, coordination and collaboration in writing a regional “Assistance to Firefighters Grant.” FEMA then awarded the city a grant for over $1.7 million. The grant provides mobile units for emergency response vehicles and walkie-talkies for other personnel.
Hutchinson was hired in May 2003 as a firefighter. He moved through the ranks and was promoted to Battalion Chief of Logistics in 2009, earning numerous certifications throughout his career. In 1994, he graduated from UNC-Asheville College with a Bachelors in Sociology & Criminal Justice. In December 2008, he completed a Masters degree in Public Administration from Appalachian State University.
Hutchinson lives in Caldwell County with his wife, Millie, daughter, Rebecca, and son, Matthew.
M.P.O. Ray currently is currently assigned to H.P.D.’s Edward P.A.C.T. Ray is a native of Morganton where he graduated from Freedom High School. Ray went on to work at the Foothills Correctional Institution before he began his law enforcement career with H.P.D. in 2008. He graduated from McDowell Technical Community College’s Basic Law Enforcement Training program. In February of 2012, Ray was promoted to Master Police Officer and also serves as a Field Training Officer.
Ray is a member of the North Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association and he served as a member of the North Carolina National Guard from 2001 to 2003, completing a four-month tour of duty in Iraq.
30-year-old Teri Ann Thomas was arrested today (Thursday, March 5) by authorities in Burke County. She’s charged with felony possession of schedule two controlled substance. Following the arrest, Thomas was placed in jail under $7,500 secured bond. A court appearance was scheduled for today.
The City of Hickory has reported a discharge of untreated wastewater that occurred on March 4. An estimated 20,000 gallons were discharged at the Moose Club Pumping Station on 9th Street Court N.W. The untreated wastewater was discharged into Lake Hickory.
The overflow was the result of a power outage caused when a tree fell across power lines on 6th Street N.W. and a subsequent mechanical failure of the emergency generator at the pumping station. The city dispatched contract pumpers to minimize the volume of the wastewater overflow.
The Division of Water Resources was notified of the event today (March 5) and is reviewing the matter. For more information contact the Hickory’s Public Utilities Department at 828-323-7427.
49-year-old Vernon Lee Monroe of 5th Street N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 6 p.m. yesterday (March 4) on one felony count of larceny from a person and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Monroe is accused of reaching across the counter at the Night Secrets store on Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard S.E. in Hickory and taking five pornographic DVDs. He fled on foot and was chased by Police, who found him hiding in a drainage culvert behind the nearby Goodwill store. In his possession was a black bag containing the stolen DVDs.
Monroe was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $21,500 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for tomorrow in Hickory.
18-year-old Christopher Isaiah Allen was arrested Wednesday (March 4) by Burke County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with two counts of first degree sex offense. Following the arrest, Allen was incarcerated under $200,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Monday (March 9).
The City of Hickory will begin its annual sales of mulch and leaf compost this week. Mulch and leaf compost will be available starting Friday and Saturday, March 6and 7.
The City of Hickory’s Yard Waste facility hours are 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning Friday, March 6. The facility is located on Cloninger Mill Road, which is off N.C. 127, near the bridge that crosses Lake Hickory. The hours will remain the same until all mulch and compost is gone.
The material used for the mulch and compost comes from what city crews pick up during the year, including tree branches, Christmas trees and leaves. Leaf compost is $20 per scoop (pickup truck load) and ground mulch will be $20 per scoop. For more information, please call the Hickory Public Services Department at (828) 323-7500.
47-year-old Charles Shea Ellis of 25th Street NE in Hickory was arrested Wednesday (March 4) by Maiden Police Officers. He’s charged with four counts of trafficking opium or heroin, one count of conspire to traffic opium or heroin, possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver schedule II controlled substance, sell schedule II controlled substance, and deliver schedule II controlled substance. Ellis was placed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $100,000 bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Friday (March 6).
58-year-old Charles Alfred Vandresser of Vandresser Point in Hickory was arrested Wednesday (March 4) by authorities in Catawba County. He’s charged with felony solicitation of statutory sex offense with a person 13,14, or 15 years of age. Following Wednesday’s arrest, Vandresser was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $75,000 bond. A court appearance is scheduled for Friday (March 6).
The Burke County Board of Commissioners this week directed County staff to move forward in getting proposals for a health clinic that would treat employees, retirees and dependents. A workshop was held Tuesday by commissioners to gather information on a possible clinic. According to a published report, commissioners were informed that the county is self-insured. That means county employees who have insurance through the county pay a co-pay when they go to the doctor and then the county pays the remainder of the bill, the same as any medical insurance provider.
According to the report, a health clinic for Burke County employees could help cut the cost the county has to pay for insurance. The more employees, retirees and dependents who use the clinic, the more money the county could save. The clinic would provide a lower-cost option for employees to get medical care. County officials say in the report that the incentive for employees to use the clinic is that they would not be responsible for a co-pay.
The clinic would offer things such as treatment of common illnesses such as flu and allergies. Along with issues such as sprained ankles and back problems. The clinic would also offer annual physical exams and health screenings. The proposed clinic, which would be open 20 hours a week, would not replace medical care for chronic or more serious health conditions. The report says that the county does not want to compete with other medical providers.
Commissioners were informed that other counties in the state have saved money by providing similar health clinics for employees. Those counties include Caldwell and Henderson. It is estimated that Burke County would also save money by having the clinic.
According to the published report, while the concept received overall support from commissioners, Maynard Taylor did voice concerns about the necessity of the clinic. The report says that Taylor said the majority of county residents would not benefit from the clinic.
30-year-old Robert Shawn Tipps of Rhoney School Road in Hickory was arrested Wednesday (March 4) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with felony possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. In addition, Tipps is charged by Probation and Parole with two felony counts of probation violation in connection with cases from 2011. Following the arrest, Tipps was incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $20,000 bond. A court appearance is scheduled for Friday (March 6).