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20-year-old Abigail Hope Farmer of 16th Avenue S.E. in Newton was arrested by Hickory Police at about 11:40 Saturday morning (May 30) on one count of felony larceny and one misdemeanor count for failure to appear in court.

She was charged in connection to a shoplifting incident at the Target store on Catawba Valley Boulevard. A Loss Prevention Officer saw a subject place items in a tub. The subject, later identified as Abigail Farmer, placed the tub in a shopping cart and then pushed the cart and tub past the last point of sale. Items taken include: a robe, thongs, shirts, bras, baby clothing, jean shorts, tank tops, jeans, skirts, sleepwear and a USB charger, plus the utility tub.

Loss Prevention then detained Farmer until H.P.D. arrived and placed her under arrest. She was taken to the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $12,000, secured. She has since been released. A first appearance in District Court was set for today (June 1) in Newton.

35-year-old William Junior Sisk of 17th Street N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at 9:15 p.m. Saturday (May 30) for failure to appear on one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon and one misdemeanor count of simple assault & battery.

The arrest comes in connection to an assault in June of last year. Hickory Police responded to Frye Regional Memorial Hospital where an assault victim told Police Sisk had assaulted him at the Frazier mobile home park. The victim said Sisk hit him in the face with an object, requiring medical attention.

Following his arrest Saturday, Sisk was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility where he was also charged by the Sheriff’s Office with two counts of non-support of a child. He was held under a total bond of $37,300, secured. Court dates were set for June 4, 5 & 17.

23-year-old Robbie Octavion Little of 10th Avenue Drive N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police early yesterday morning (May 31) on one felony count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and misdemeanor counts of assault by pointing a gun, assault on a female and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.

He was arrested after Police responded to an assault call at the Camelot Court apartments. The victim said she had been assaulted by Little, who allegedly pointed a firearm at her. Police found Little in the rear parking lot and also located two firearms outside, behind the apartment.

As he was being handcuffed, Little reportedly tried to pull away from Officers several times, resulting in the resisting charge against him.

Little was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $25,000 secured bond. He has since been released. A first appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.

U.S. 21 will have overnight closures in place at I-40 exit 151 this week in Statesville to allow a contractor to dismantle the old I-40 bridges over the highway. The work is part of the I-40/77 Interchange Improvement Project.

Starting at 9 p.m. each night through Thursday, the highway will be shut down, with detours in place. It will re-open by 6:00 each morning, with the work expected to wrap up Friday morning, weather permitting.

Southbound U.S. 21 traffic will be detoured onto I-40 West to N.C. 115 (Exit 150), where drivers can turn left at the end of the ramp, then left at the next light to get onto I-40 East, and then exit at U.S. 21 to continue south. Northbound drivers on U.S. 21 will be directed onto I-40 East, and then I-77 North, where they should keep to the right on the loop ramp to get back onto I-40 West. Then they can exit for northbound U.S. 21.

Drivers are encouraged to slow down and use caution while the detour is in place. They also need to pay attention to detour signs and message boards.

Monday, 01 June 2015 13:36

Suspect Indicted On Statutory Rape Counts

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19-year-old Joshua Keary Robinson of Forest Ridge Drive in Stanley was arrested Friday (May 29) by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with two felony counts of Statutory Rape/Sex Offense of a 13, 14 or 15 year old victim by a Defendant more than four years but less than six years older than the victim.

The charges are in connection with an incident that occurred on February 27. Detective Dan Renn began the investigation after the report was filed with the Sheriff’s Office on March 2.

The victim in the case is a 14-year-old female who met the suspect through a mutual friend. The incident was taken before the Lincoln County Grand Jury and indictments were handed down on May 11.

Robinson turned himself in at the Lincoln County Magistrate’s Office on Friday, where he was served with the warrants and placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $150,000 secured bond. He was scheduled to appear in Superior Court today (June 1).

City Manager Sally Sandy will present the 2015-2016 proposed budget to the Morganton City Council Monday night, June 1, 2015, during the Council’s regular meeting, and recommend the Council call a public hearing on the budget June 22, 2015.

Despite losing $215,000 in revenue, which represents 1.5 cents of the City’s tax rate, due to the NC General Assembly’s decision to eliminate the local privilege license tax, the proposed budget contains no recommended tax increase, no increase in the garbage fee, no increase in water rates, no increase in sewer rates, and no increases in internet fees or phone service fees. Sandy is recommending that electric rates be decreased by 2 percent.

“To lose a revenue of $215,000 by action of the General Assembly and not be forced to raise taxes or cut services is a testament to the decisions made two years ago in revaluation,” Sandy said. “The decision to raise taxes 5 cents then has helped sustain us. However, if the General Assembly had not taken away privilege licenses, there would be no need to appropriate any fund balance.”

The proposed total budget including the general fund, water fund, wastewater fund, electric fund, CoMPAS, and cemetery trust fund, is $72.9 million, 1 percent less than the previous year.

The proposed general fund budget is $22.2 million. Sandy recommended keeping the City tax rate at .53 cents. One cent on the tax rate generates about $158,000, and total ad valorem taxes, a.k.a. property taxes, are expected to be about $8.2 million, or 37 percent of general fund revenues.

The general fund contains $4.4 million in funding for proposed capital improvement projects including resurfacing of streets; resurfacing sections of the greenway; parking lot paving at CoMMA and Public Safety; building improvements, parking lot additions and additional tennis courts at the Mountain View Recreation Center; the final phase of the City’s Wayfinding Program; downtown islands on Sterling Street and Green Street; new patrol cars for Public Safety; and new vehicles for Public Works. It is worth noting that the capital improvement projects include $788,697 in grant funding, which reflects the City staff’s diligence and success in securing grants to benefit Morganton.

The proposed budget also includes $240,518 to help fund the Burke County Emergency Communications Center, and just over $550,000 to help fund Burke Development, Inc., the Burke County Library, the Burke County Narcotics Task Force, and the Foothills Regional Airport Authority.

The proposed budget also contains a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for City employees and a 1 percent merit fund. Although City employees have been doing more with less for the last several years, they not received merit raises since 2008, and City directors and supervisors believe that being able to reward employees who consistently perform beyond expectations is essential to keeping a well-trained and motivated workforce. However, 37 city positions still remain unfilled.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners has approved a budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year.

During today's (Monday, June 1) session at the 1924 Courthouse, the Board unanimously adopted a Fiscal Year 2015/2016 County Budget in the amount of $235,495,973, which invests in maintaining the Board’s goals of an average eight minute EMS response time; long-planned expansion of the Jail facility to meet an increasing jail population; restoring six day a week operations in the County parks, an additional Sheriff’s investigator; and increased investment in public education to maintain the County’s statewide rank of 15th in total public schools current expense funding and advance from 18th to 15th in statewide community college funding for CVCC.

Adoption of a $0.575 property tax rate for every $100 of valuation would establish a tax rate that could be held constant for four years--until the next revaluation cycle in 2019. This rate is projected to be the 8th lowest tax rate of the 27 urban counties in North Carolina--those with a population over 100,000--and the 2nd lowest among Catawba’s neighboring counties. The tax rate is an increase over the current 53 cents per $100 valuation.

In other action at today's meeting, the Board approved the appropriation of existing fund balance in the amount of $35,000 to Oxford Fire Department. The department currently has a 1996 brush truck that has become unsafe to operate and is no longer cost effective to maintain. These funds will be used to replace the brush truck. The department is replacing the current truck with a new truck at a total cost of $110,000. The $35,000 being requested will be used as a down payment for the purchase.

The Board also approved an application for the 2015 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. Funding allocation is based on population and violent crime statistics. The 2015 JAG Grant has been announced and Catawba County is eligible for $12,900. No local match is required. The Sheriff’s Office is requesting these funds be used to purchase equipment to be used in force-on-force training that will meet a JAG priority to reduce gun violence by providing active shooter response training to officers. This training will be for the Sheriff’s STAR Team and first responder deputies. Equipment will be used to convert existing rifles, add training pistols and purchase training ammunition.

25-year-old Cameron Lashawn Baker of Hickory and 37-year-old Michael Eric Whitaker of Conover were both arrested Friday (May 29) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Drug Task Force Officers. They’re both charged with trafficking marijuana and possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana.

On Friday, the Task Force, which consists of the Sheriff’s Office, Maiden Police Department, and Department of Homeland Security, made the arrests. Working in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Inspectors, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and Newton Police Department, the arrests came after search warrants were executed at residences on 3rd Street Place SW in Newton and Travis Road in Conover.

Investigators seized 14.77 pounds of hydro marijuana at the Newton residence. It had been shipped through the Postal Service. They also seized 14.31 pounds of hydro marijuana at the Conover residence which had also been shipped using the Postal Service. In each case the marijuana has a street value ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 depending upon how it is packaged and sold.

Baker was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $32,500 secured bond. Whitaker was jailed under $26,500 secured bond. Both suspects were scheduled to appear in District Court today (Monday, June 1).

28-year-old Dustin Brian Winebarger of Finch Place in Boomer was arrested Saturday (May 30) by Caldwell County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with felony flee to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, reckless driving to endanger, and felony probation violation. Following the arrest, Winebarger was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $17,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, June 1).

Monday, 01 June 2015 05:28

Caldwell County Commissioners Meet Tonight

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The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners will meet in regular session this evening. Among the items on the agenda is a report on World Elder Abuse Awareness Month. Under Items For Decision, the board will vote on designating a voting delegate for the 2015 NACo Annual Meeting. The board will vote on a consent agenda that includes budget amendments and the approval of a fireworks display for Mount Zion Baptist Church. The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners meeting gets underway at 6 p.m. in the City/County Meeting Room at the Alden E. Starnes Administration Building in downtown Lenoir.

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