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The N.C. Department of Transportation will help make Thanksgiving trips a little smoother by suspending most road construction activities on major routes across the state.

Most construction work that would require a lane or road closure along all interstates and N.C. and U.S. routes will be suspended from 6 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, November 23), until midnight, Sunday (November 27). Most road or lane closures that are remaining in place for the holiday weekend are in central and eastern North Carolina, with the exception of lane closures on N.C. 294 in Cherokee County and U.S. 74 in Jackson County.  

Travelers also need to be aware that more than 200 local roads in the eastern part of the state are closed or have lane closures due to damage from Hurricane Matthew. Remember here in western North Carolina, several forest fires could affect travel as smoky conditions may reduce visibility. Shifting fires and smoke could cause a road to be closed on short notice for safety reasons.

Drivers can get the latest update on travel conditions at ncdot.gov.

AAA Carolinas projects that 2 million Carolinians will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, with just under 1.4 million North Carolinians and 670,000 South Carolinians traveling. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as tomorrow (Wednesday November 23) to Sunday (November 27).

This year's increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. North Carolina's average price of gas is currently at $2.13 a gallon and South Carolina's sits at $1.99 a gallon, both under the national average of $2.14. Last year, North Carolina's average was $2.10 and South Carolina's was $1.91.

Driving remains most popular mode of travel for Thanksgiving. The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive this Thanksgiving. The 1.2 million North Carolinians and over 600,000 South Carolinians planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent, with 46,000 North Carolinians and 46,000 South Carolinians flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase only slightly this Thanksgiving, to 40,000 North Carolinians and 20,000 South Carolinians.

Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous holidays for motorists due to its five-day length and the heavy traffic caused by the high number of travelers on the road. Last year, the number of deaths on North Carolina highways during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend reached 22 people, while South Carolina highways saw nine traffic fatalities.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 05:44

Fugitive From Georgia Arrested In Catawba County

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A fugitive wanted on a charge from Georgia was arrested in Catawba County. 19-year-old Jonathan Anthony Gordon, who is listed as a homeless person from Newton, was arrested Monday (November 21) by Newton Police Officers. He's charged on a warrant from Gwinnett County, Georgia, with probation violation. Gordon was on probation for burglary.

Following Monday's arrest, Gordon was locked up in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $50,000 bond. He was scheduled to appear in District Court in Newton today (Tuesday, November 22).

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 05:29

Multiple Felony Charges Lodged Against Conover Man

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44-year-old Parrish DeWayne Burton of Burris Road in Conover was arrested Monday (November 21) by Hickory Police Officers. He's charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense. Burton was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $75,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Tuesday, November 22).

29-year-old Brian Allen Sipe of Bumgarner Lane in Taylorsville was arrested Friday (November 18) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with solicitation of a child by computer or electronic device to commit an unlawful sex act and indecent liberties with a child.

On Friday, the Burke County Sheriff`s Office Criminal Investigation Division engaged in an undercover operation using social media. During the investigation, the identity of a suspect was discovered to be Brian Allen Sipe. Sipe traveled to a predetermined location for what he thought was to meet with a minor to perform sex acts.  However, when he arrived he was taken into custody without incident by the online undercover investigator.

Sipe's bond was set at $25,000 secured, he did post bond following his arrest and is not currently being held in jail. A first court appearance for Sipe was scheduled for Monday (November 21).   

The wildfire burning at South Mountains State Park in Burke County is now reported to be 50% contained. According to the latest update, despite continued low humidity, the Chestnut Knob fire did not expand much at all on Monday (November 21). It is estimated at 6,433 acres, only a slight increase from the previous day.

The Florida Green Team, which is in charge of fighting the fire at South Mountains State Park, was given approval by their agency to extend their assignment from 14 to 21 days. Crews are beginning to assess potential damage to trail areas and stream crossings. There are 352 personnel fighting the Chestnut Knob wildfire, 33 engines and seven dozers are being used.

Monday, 21 November 2016 18:03

Two Arrested in Hickory on Felony Cocaine Charges

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29-year-old Michael Kayleeon McBryde and 34-year-old Sherry Devon McGill, both of the same address on 1st Street S.W. in Hickory, were arrested by Hickory Police just before 10 p.m. Saturday (November 19). They were each charged with one felony count of possession of cocaine.

They were arrested in connection to an incident on July 29 of this year as Officers on foot patrol at Blue Ridge Heights on the 900 block of 1st Street S.W. observed foot traffic coming and going from a residence in the apartment complex. As Officers approached the residence, they smelled marijuana.

McGill was listed as the tenant and McBryde was an additional resident at the time. A search warrant was executed, leading to the discovery of 0.3 grams of cocaine, 0.1 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

A prosecution summary was submitted, leading to the arrests Saturday. McBryde was jailed under a $7,500 secured bond. McGill was processed and released under a $5,000 unsecured bond. Both suspects were scheduled to appear in Superior Court today (November 21) in Newton.

A Special Meeting of Hickory City Council will be held Tuesday (November 22) at 5 p.m. at the Julian G. Whitener Municipal Building, in City Council Chambers at 76 North Center Street in Hickory.

The purpose of the Special Meeting is to discuss the North Carolina Department of Transportation Construction Agreement for the Repairs of the Sinkhole located at the Intersection of Highway US 70 and 7th Street SE.

43-year-old Scottie Eugene Hopkins of Vermillion Lane in Statesville was arrested today (Monday, November 21) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Hopkins was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $25,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for January 23.

The city of Newton is currently developing a pedestrian plan to enhance walking conditions and to improve connectivity and safety throughout the city. In addition to taking an online survey at www.newtonnc.gov/walk, you are invited to learn more about the planning process and share your ideas on the future of walking in Newton during meetings on December 5 and 6.

You can join city officials from 4:30-6 p.m. Monday, December 5, for a short walk around Downtown Newton to discuss the key elements of a walkable Newton. We'll meet at Newton City Hall, circle downtown, and then return to City Hall.

The next day, from 4:30-6 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6, you can attend an open house at City Hall to discuss and review recommendations for improving the pedestrian environment through infrastructure projects, programming, and policy. Attendees are welcome to stay for the City Council meeting at 7 p.m. to hear a presentation on the status of the Newton Pedestrian Plan. Newton City Hall is located at 401 North Main Ave.

The purpose of the Newton Pedestrian Plan is to improve all aspects of the pedestrian experience and increase pedestrian activity throughout the city. It will address how to make the city's streets safe for Newton’s youngest and oldest pedestrians, how to improve the connections between neighborhoods, and how an improved pedestrian environment can create a healthier and more livable city. Your input will help build a better understanding of community needs and priorities.  

If you have any questions, please email Newton Planning Director Randy Williams at rwilliams@newtonnc.gov.

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