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On Monday, June 16, the Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation will re-open its office at 2491 Highway 421 South in Boone following renovations designed to ensure safer operations for the cooperative's largest district.

Nearly 30,000 members are served from the Watauga district office. The renovated facilities include an expanded warehouse to house service vehicles and large equipment. The warehouse will help protect equipment and improve response time during outages.

The renovated office also features a community meeting room that can be reserved by members when the room is not in use for meetings. The room can accommodate approximately 100 people.

A new payment kiosk that takes cash, checks or debit cards has been added. The kiosk can be used any time of the night or day. The payment kiosk is located at a new second drive-thru at the office.

A Blue Ridge Energies gas appliance showroom featuring gas logs, fireplaces, wall heaters, water heaters and more is included in the new office. The subsidiary's bulk propane plant and operations is also located on the property.

An open house is being planned for July. Details will be announced in the coming weeks.

27-year-old Michael Nelson Kelly of Hickory Heights Court in Lenoir was arrested by Caldwell Co. Sheriff’s Officers yesterday (June 11) on felony charges of larceny, possession of stolen goods or property, breaking & entering and obtaining property by false pretense.

Kelly was taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center with bond set at $25,000, secured. He was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court today in Lenoir.

Thursday, 12 June 2014 13:41

Hickory Man Arrested on Felony Firearms Charge

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46-year-old Ronald Lee Paylor of 1st Avenue S.E. in Hickory was arrested just before midnight last night (June 11) on one felony count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and misdemeanor counts of communicating threats and violating a court order.

He was arrested after Hickory Police responded to a report of a man with a gun at the Horseshoe Apartment complex on 2nd Street Place S.W. in Hickory. When Officers arrived, they saw a black male at the edge of a nearby wooded area. The person who called Police confirmed that he was the man she had seen with a gun.

The man, who appeared to be intoxicated, walked toward Officers and was taken into custody. He did not have a gun on his person. Officers found a silver-colored revolver in the wooded area where they first saw the suspect, who was identified as Ronald Paylor. The gun was later determined to be a fake.

The complainant, a 35-year-old Hickory woman, is Paylor’s ex-girlfriend. Paylor is prohibited by court order from making contact with the woman, who told Police that Paylor threatened her.

The suspect was taken into custody without incident, but while being processed at H.P.D., he reportedly became aggressive and refused to be fingerprinted. He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $20,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for tomorrow in Hickory.

Thursday, 12 June 2014 13:37

Hickory Woman Indicted for Financial Card Fraud

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20-year-old Taya Alequa McCathern of “F” Avenue S.E. in Hickory was served felony indictments by Hickory Police at about 5:30 p.m. yesterday (June 11) on one count each of obtaining property by false pretense and financial transaction card fraud.

The indictments stem from an incident on September 6 of last year. The fraud was discovered on September 15 when the victim saw some charges and overdraft fees on her bank statement that she couldn’t account for. She worked with her bank, eventually reporting the crime to Police on September 30.

Taya McCathern is the victim’s cousin. She had access to the victim’s card while babysitting the victim’s daughter.

McCathern was taken into custody without incident and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $5,000 secured bond. She’ll appear in Superior Court tomorrow in Newton.

The City of Newton Fire Department we will conduct annual fire hydrant maintenance and testing beginning Monday, June 16. The Fire Department will concentrate on hydrants in the northeast quadrant (north of “A” Street and east of Main Avenue) for the next several weeks.

Citizens residing in the area may experience discoloration of their water as minerals inside the underground water lines are disturbed. If discoloration occurs, citizens should allow water to run from any faucet for several minutes.

Fire hydrant tests are crucial to locate fire hydrants that are inoperable or in need of repair. The North Carolina Department of Insurance requires annual fire hydrant testing for the purposes of grading municipal water systems, which determines municipal insurance ratings.

For more information, call the Newton Fire Department at 828-695-4314.

30-year-old James Fenton Leatham of Marshall Bowman Lane in Taylorsville has been charged with six counts of first-degree statutory sex offense with a child and six counts of indecent liberties with a child. The charges involve the reported sexual assault of a nine-year-old victim.

Leatham was arrested without incident and jailed under a $500,000 secured bond. He made a first appearance in district court yesterday (June 11) via videoconference. His next court date was set for June 16.

The Newton Police Department on Monday (June 9) held a graduation ceremony for the participants who completed the 2014 Citizens Police Academy.

12 members of the Newton community graduated from the seven-week program, which provides insight into the daily operations of the police department. The purpose of the academy is to open lines of communication to help the public better understand why Police Officers follow certain procedures.

The group met each Monday beginning April 29 for a two-hour class taught by members of the Police Department. The academy explored the areas of administration, support services, vehicle stops, criminal & narcotics investigations, code enforcement, animal control and firearms.

Mayor Anne Stedman, Mayor Pro Tem Mary Bess Lawing, Council Member John Stiver and City Manager Todd Clark joined Police in recognizing the participants and expressing appreciation for the group’s interest in local government.

This year’s participants were Beth Cline, W.E. Coates Jr., Richard Painchaud, Steven Painchaud, Pamela Paxton, Darlene Pitman, Brenda Pritchard, Donald Pritchard, David Shugart, Joshua Smith, Walter Smith and Alexandria Snyder.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 16, in the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.

The Board will consider a set of proposed amendments to Chapter 6 of the Catawba County Code, which pertains to animals. The amendments follow a thorough review and update of Chapter 6 to incorporate current animal control practices and clarify certain language in the current ordinance, which was adopted in 2007.

The Board will also receive an update on the “Eat, Drink and Be Local” event that took place May 18-24. The event included a farm tour, gardening & cooking classes, a local beer & wine tasting and a local foods feast, as well as area restaurants featuring local foods.

Yesterday (June 11), the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) and the Belk Foundation awarded a total of $17,500 in grants to three teams to support efforts to enhance teacher effectiveness in local communities.

School system teams from Catawba, Greene, and Lee counties received grants to address different needs of educators in those communities. The IEI evaluated a total of 32 applications from across the state. Each plan was judged on competitive criteria including clarity & feasibility, collaboration among educators, budget and impact on North Carolina. All proposals were required to include at least one classroom educator, one school administrator and one community member.

Locally, Dr. Carol Moore and the team from Catawba County Schools received $4,500 for “Real Life Issues: Project & Problem-Based Learning Development.” The program will enable five teachers to spend time shadowing local STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professionals. The teachers will then build curriculum tied to local STEM activities to help meet local workforce needs. Dr. Moore is the K-12 Science Curriculum Specialist for Catawba County Schools.

For more information, click here.

Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Detectives are warning residents of a scam in which a man posed as a utility worker to get inside a western Lincoln County residence. The man posed as an electrical worker to get into an elderly woman’s home on the 1400 block of Shoal Road Tuesday afternoon (June 10).

The 90-year-old woman told Deputies that a red pickup truck pulled into the driveway and a white male came to the door. He told the woman that they had been working on power lines down the road and needed to check to see if she had power.

The man came inside where he looked at the coffee pot in the kitchen, walked down a hallway and into her bedroom. The woman asked what he was doing and he grabbed a jewelry box containing costume jewelry. He pushed her out of the way and into her oxygen tank and left. The man got back into his truck and fled the scene traveling north on Shoal Road.

The suspect is described as a white male, 5’5” to 5’7” tall. He is middle-aged and clean-shaven with short hair. The suspect was wearing a faded gray or green ball cap and an old traffic vest with two stripes down the front.

He was driving a red, full-sized pickup, possibly a Dodge, with chrome on the bottom and black plastic in the bed of the truck.

Anyone with information should contact the Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Office at 704-732-9050, the Lincoln Co. Communications Center at 704-735-8202 or Crime Stoppers at 704-736-8909.