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Winter weather and extreme cold temperatures continue to continue to force local school systems to adjust their schedules.

On Thursday, February 18…

Catawba County Schools and Hickory Public Schools will be on a three-hour delay for students and staff.

Alexander County Schools will be closed Thursday. It will be an annual leave day for ten-month employees and on optional teacher workday for 11 & 12-month employees. Those who choose to report to work should do so at 10 a.m.

Burke County Schools and Caldwell County Schools will operate on a three-hour delay for students and staff with limited bus routes. The WrapAround program in Caldwell County will begin at 9 a.m.

Newton-Conover City Schools are on a three-hour delay.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 17:42

Former Congressman Ballenger Passes Away at 88

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Former Congressman Cass Ballenger has passed away at the age of 88. Mr. Ballenger had been in failing health for some time and had been in hospice care since last Friday. He died at 12:30 this afternoon (Wednesday, February 18) in Hickory. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, February 27, at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension.

Congressman Ballenger represented the 10th Congressional District of North Carolina from 1986-2005. He was also the founder and former Chairman of the Board of Plastic Packaging, Inc., a manufacturing company with plants in Hickory and Forest City, N.C.

He also served in the North Carolina Senate (1977-86), the North Carolina House of Representatives (1975-77) and on the Catawba County Board of Commissioners (1966-74). In 38 consecutive years in elective office, serving at the local, state and federal levels, Ballenger never lost an election.

As a Congressman, Mr. Ballenger was a member of the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving as a Deputy Whip and as a member of the House Steering Committee. He was also a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Council on the Arts.

After graduating from Episcopal High School, Mr. Ballenger attended the University of North Carolina and later received a liberal arts degree from Amherst College, where he was initiated into the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity. He served in the U.S. Naval Air Corps during World War II. Mr. Ballenger also volunteered as a Lay Reader for the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, traveling to lead services in parishes without rectors. He was a longtime active member of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Hickory.

21-year-old Hannah Jolynn Griffith and 27-year-old Bon Jod Xiong, both of the same Tuckaseegee Road address, were arrested today (Wednesday, February 18) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. They’re both charged with sale of methamphetamine, possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver meth, and conspire to sell meth. Following their arrests, both suspects were detained at the Catawba County Detention Facility under $20,000 bond apiece. They’re both scheduled to appear in court Friday (February 20).

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 12:30

Claremont Man Charged With Methamphetamine Offense

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55-year-old Michael Gene Yates of Boggs Road in Claremont was arrested today (Wednesday, February 18) by Catawba County Sheriff’s officers. He’s charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following the arrest, Yates was detained at the Catawba County Detention Facility under $5,000 bond. A court appearance is scheduled for Friday (February 20).

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 12:12

Conover Man Charged With Drug Trafficking

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57-year-old Barron Jerome Loritts of Rifle Range Road in Conover was arrested today (Wednesday, February 18) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following the arrest, Loritts was detained at the Catawba County Detention Facility under $40,000 bond. A court appearance is scheduled for Friday (February 20).

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 11:28

Man Arrested For Possession Of Weapon By Felon

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28-year-old Rex Allan Eversole was arrested Tuesday (February 17) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with felony possession of a weapon by a convicted felony. Following the arrest, Eversole was placed in jail under $20,000 secured bond. He’s scheduled to appear in Superior Court March 2.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 11:20

Man Arrested In Burke County On Robbery Charge

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41-year-old Charles Steven Setzer was arrested today (Wednesday, February 18) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with felony common law robbery. Following the arrest, Setzer was placed in jail under $25,000 secured bond. A court appearance is scheduled for next Monday (February 23).

18-year-old Adam Evans Jr. of Harmony Highway in Harmony was arrested by Iredell County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with felony breaking and entering, felony larceny after breaking and entering, burning personal property, and resisting a public officer.

According to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office, on February 6th, a citizen from Harmony came into the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office to report a breaking and entering to her home. The victim reported electronics, cash and other items stolen. Soon after filing the report the victim received a possible lead from an acquaintance who named a suspect. The victim shared the information with Detectives who were investigating the case. The man named was AJ Evans of Tabor Rd in Harmony.

Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office began to follow up on the new lead. During the investigation Detectives located some of the stolen items at a location where Evans once lived. Detectives conducted interviews with various citizens about Evans. During the interviews Detectives spoke with Evans who lied about his identity. At the time there were no warrants on Evans and the investigation continued.  

As a result of the investigation Detectives not only found evidence leading to charges files against Evans for the Breaking and Entering but were able to uncover additional evidence linking Evans to a 2013 case where evidence shows Evans set a car on fire in the Forest Oaks Dr area.

Following his arrest, Evans was incarcerated in the Iredell County Jail under a $15,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for March 5.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 10:18

Fraudulent Check for Nearly $40K Deposited in Hickory

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Hickory Police are investigating an incident in which a bogus check from Canada was deposited at a local bank.

On Monday (February 16), H.P.D. received an email from authorities in Canada’s Squamish District in British Columbia regarding a fraudulent check drawn from a Canadian business account. The check was stolen and the payees and the amount were changed. Property loss was reported at $38,375.

The incident occurred on February 13 or 14. The check was deposited at Community One Bank on 3rd Street N.W. in Hickory.

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance & Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government has recognized the Catawba County Social Services Child Wellbeing Project and the EcoComplex, designed and maintained by Catawba County Utilities & Engineering, as part of the 2015 Bright Ideas program. This year’s cohort includes 124 programs from all levels of government -- school districts; county, city, state & federal agencies; and public-private partnerships -- that are at the forefront in innovative government action.

According to Dawn Wilson, Social Work Program Manager with Catawba County Social Services, the Child Wellbeing Project was developed in collaboration with The Duke Endowment. The Child Wellbeing Project works with families when children leave foster care under age 16 for their reunified, guardianship or adoptive families. The program seeks to help permanent placements remain stable and successful and improve the well-being of children who have been in foster care.

For more information, contact Social Services Public Information Officer Margaret Allen at 828-695-6583.

According to said Barry Edwards, Catawba County Utilities & Engineering Director, the Catawba County Regional EcoComplex & Resource Recovery Facility is a system designed to recover all useable products and by-products from a group of private and public partners located in a close-knit defined area. The group works together to use each other’s waste products, either as a source of energy -- electricity, steam or heat -- or as a raw material for the production of their own product, such as pallets, lumber or compost.

For more information, call Jack Chandler, Assistant Director of Utilities & Engineering, at 828-465-8940.

For more information about the Ash Center for Democratic Governance & Innovation, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.