South Laurel Street in Lincolnton has recently been the site of several improvements designed to make the street safer and more bicycle-friendly.
The improvements are a collaborative effort between the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the City of Lincolnton. They are part of the "Complete Streets" initiative being implemented in North Carolina and other locations throughout the country.
South Laurel Street was originally a four-lane roadway, but it is now a three-lane roadway with a center, two-way left turn lane and bicycle lanes on either side of the road next to the curb and gutter.
South Laurel Street was a prime candidate for the improvements because it is located in a mixed commercial & residential area and is a connector between those locations, downtown Lincolnton, an elementary school and recreational areas such as the YMCA and the Martha H. Cloninger Rail-Trail. All of those areas lend themselves to alternative modes of transportation.
The South Laurel Street project will improve safety with the addition of the center, two-way left turn lane. South Laurel Street's traffic volume is below the road's capacity and projections show only a slight increase in volume over the next 25 years. It will also provide safer routes of travel for bicyclists and pedestrians with designated bike lanes and increased distance between pedestrians and vehicular traffic.
Signs are now in place alerting drivers to the change in traffic pattern.
A single-vehicle accident occurred on Interstate 40 near exit 129 this morning (December 18), not far from Fairgrove Church Road. According to the N.C. State Highway Patrol, the vehicle was traveling eastbound at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control and overturned three times, crossing the median and coming to rest on the westbound shoulder, facing the opposite direction. Five E.M.S. and Fire Department units responded, along with the Highway Patrol. The crash was reported at 8:55 a.m. today.
The driver was transported to Catawba Memorial Hospital with what were described as non-life threatening injuries. No one else was in the vehicle. The driver’s name has not been released. Troopers say speed was the likely cause of the accident, but drugs or alcohol are not believed to be factors.
One westbound lane on the Interstate was closed for a short time. All lanes were re-opened between 9:15 and 9:30.
A worker at an assisted living facility in Taylorsville fled the scene after smoke filled the building. The man was later arrested. 911 received a call of an alarm at A New Outlook of Tayorsville on Wood Road. Taylorsville Police and Alexander County Sheriff’s Officers responded. When they opened the door to the facility it was black with smoke. Officers removed the 27 patients from the facility. One of the patients was hospitalized due to smoke inhalation. One Taylorsville Police Officer, Sergeant Kevin Elder, received five stitches to a finger while rescuing a patient. One of the workers at the facility, 28-year-old Brandon Shane Parsons of Taylorsville, fled the scene after beginning the process of removing patients. He fled the scene when he heard sirens. He returned to the facility and was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear. He was placed in jail under $1,400 total bond. The center was reopened in about an hour, the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Will Wakefield, a 19-year-employee at the Caldwell County Department of Social Services, has been named the director of the department. He will assume his new position on January 1, 2015. Currently serving as Program Administrator of Adult & Family Support Services, Wakefield will take over for retiring director, Joyce P. Edwards, who is stepping down after 31 years of service. Caldwell County DSS typically has about 154 employees.
Wakefield started at DSS in 1995, leaving once for nine months and then returning. He began as a Child Care Social Worker and moved on to Work First Social Worker, Child Welfare Social Worker, Social Work Supervisor, Families for Kids Coordinator and Program Administrator. He has worked in all divisions at DSS, including economic services, children's & adult services and administration.
Wakefield earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Appalachian State University in 1994 and a Masters in Public Administration from ASU in 2011. He lives in Caldwell County with his wife, Esther and son, Elijah.
30 students at Southwest Elementary School were recently given new bicycles by Academy Sports+Outdoors. The Hickory Fire Department helped to assemble the bikes.
Southwest Elementary Principal Jenny White said the students were required to earn 100 “behavior stamps” during October and November in order to have their names dropped in the hat for the final selection. According to Principal White, 90% of the students earned the needed stamps.
Academy’s annual bike donation provides local schools with an opportunity to reward children during the holidays with bikes and helmets based on their perfect attendance, academic performance, good behavior and/or need. Academy will donate over $250,000 in youth bikes and helmets this year.
The school is located at 1580 32nd Street S.W. in Hickory.
64-year-old Anita Tilley Austin of Tilley Lane in Troutman has been arrested by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Deputies for multiple domestic violence protection order violations and felony stalking.
Events leading to the arrest began on November 28 as Deputies responded to suspicious activity at a residence on Big Forest Drive. The resident said someone had been beating loudly on his windows during the night. The man said he believed the suspect may have been Anita Tilley Austin, against whom he had a domestic violence protection order.
A subsequent investigation led to Austin’s arrest. The matter was forwarded to the Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit for further investigation. Sgt. Katie Harwell learned that Austin had violated the protection order on multiple occasions and had stalked the victim from October 15 through November 28. The felony stalking charge was issued on December 15.
Austin is currently being held in the Iredell County Detention Center under a $190,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for January 5.
A Loss Prevention Officer at the Wal-Mart store on Highway 70 S.E. in Hickory was sprayed with pepper spray by a suspect leaving the store with approximately $60 in merchandise he had not paid for.
The incident occurred at about 1:15 yesterday afternoon (December 16). The male suspect took an X-Box game, a DVD and an optical cable. He was confronted by the L.P.O. and another employee at the exit. The suspect then pepper sprayed the Officer and fled. It’s not clear if he fled on foot or in a vehicle or in which direction he traveled. The optical cable was recovered.
E.M.S. treated the Officer on the scene. The Hickory Fire Department also responded to ventilate the fumes from the pepper spray.
Police are currently reviewing video surveillance footage. No description of the suspect was released.
33-year-old Betty Matheson Rowe of Roby Martin Road in Lenoir was arrested Tuesday (December 16) by Caldwell County Sheriff’s Officers. She is charged with breaking & entering, two felony counts of larceny after breaking & entering, felony possession of stolen goods or property and three counts of obtaining property by false pretense. Following the arrest, Rowe was placed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under a $20,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.
55-year-old Rex Wayne Harmon of Flat Springs Road in Elk Park was arrested by Caldwell County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with two counts of trafficking, opium or heroin. Harmon was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $20,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Thursday (December 18).
27-year-old Toby Eugene Hill of Walker Chapel Road Morganton was arrested this morning and charged with larceny by defeating anti-theft device, misdemeanor larceny, and simple assault. Following the arrest, Hill was placed in jail under $6,000 secured bond. A court appearance is scheduled for today.