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48-year-old Ronnie Lynn Benfield of South College Avenue in Newton was arrested by Hickory Police at about 9:20 p.m. on New Year’s Eve on one felony count of failure to appear.

He allegedly failed to appear in court in connection to charges that resulted from a traffic stop in June of 2014. Benfield was charged at that time with felony possession of a schedule II controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of marijuana up to half an ounce and possession of drug paraphernalia. The schedule II controlled substance was methamphetmine.

He was taken into custody without incident yesterday at the Days Inn & Suites on 13th Avenue Drive N.W. Benfield was jailed under a $20,000 secured bond. An appearance in Superior Court was set for March 7.

The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office has released statistics that show Catawba County’s Index Crime Rate (including violent crime and property crimes) has decreased faster than in any other reporting North Carolina county since 2011. Those numbers were compiled from the first half of 2011 to the first half of 2015.

During that time, among the top ten most frequently reported crimes, total reported offenses are down 21% and arrests are down 14%. The exceptions are drug and drug paraphernalia violations. Drug violations are the only reported crimes to rise each year from 2011 to 2014.

From the first half of 2014 to the first half of 2015, reported drug violations have risen by 71%. Non-forced burglary is up 25%, but forcible burglary is down 19%.

Since 2005, Catawba County’s Index Crime Rate (ICR) has decreased faster than in any other reporting North Carolina county. The ICR has decreased by 32% in Catawba County, compared to 17% in all reporting counties and 27% in populations of more than 50,000 people.

In the last four years, response time for Catawba County Deputies is down by 7%.

The Lenoir Fire Department responded to a residential fire at 602 Main Street S.W. last night (December 30).

According to Lenoir Fire Chief Ken Briscoe, the call came in at about 8 p.m. Firefighters responded with two engines, two ladders and a rescue unit. They arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the rental house. The fire was brought under control by about 8:20.

Chief Briscoe said a male and a female resident were safely outside when Firefighters arrived after they were alerted to the presence of smoke by their male Chihuahua; however, the dog ran back inside the burning structure. Rescue crews entered the home and found the dog alive in a front bedroom. The dog was successfully revived, using a respirator designed for pets that had been supplied by a local animal support group.

The male resident was treated by E.M.S. personnel on the scene for smoke inhalation. He was not hospitalized. The female resident was not injured and no injuries were sustained by Firefighters. Damages to the structure were estimated at $15,000 to $20,000.

According to Chief Briscoe, the fire was caused by an overloaded surge protector used for holiday lights. He said there were no working smoke detectors in the home. The Chief encouraged citizens not to overload outlets and surge protectors, and to make sure that all homes are protected by fully operational smoke detectors.

Kathy Bailey, Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge Chief Executive Officer, has been named by the national publication Becker’s Hospital Review as a “Women Hospital & Health System Leader to Know.”

Ms. Bailey, a graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been CEO at Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge since 2013. During her tenure as CEO, the hospital's employee engagement has risen by more than 30 percent and the patient harm rate has fallen from its baseline by more than 50 percent.

Those recognized by Becker’s Hospital Review are executives at hospitals and health systems across the nation that have established themselves as successful leaders within the healthcare industry. To develop the list for the year 2015, the Becker’s Hospital Review editorial team considered a record number of nominations by evaluating leaders for their management and leadership skills and career accomplishments.

18-year-old Nicholas Michael Thacker, 16-year-old Aaron Chapman Hadden and 17-year-old Jack Thomas Gill, all from Mooresville, have been arrested by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers. They were all charged with two counts each for identity theft and misdemeanor financial card fraud. Thacker and Hadden were also charged with three counts of breaking & entering a motor vehicle, two counts of larceny of a financial card and single counts of felony larceny and misdemeanor larceny.

Their arrests come in connection to an incident on November 16, of this year when the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office received several reports on motor vehicle break-ins in the area of Teeter Road and Linwood Road in Mooresville. The suspects stole tools, sunglasses, a watch and two credit cards.

The suspects then went to McDonalds and Wal-Mart and used the credit and debit cards to buy food and cigarettes. The owner of the credit and debit cards was able to provide the time and date the cards were used.

Detectives worked with the businesses to obtain video of the suspects. With help from Iredell County citizens, Detectives identified the suspects as Thacker, Hadden and Gill.

All three suspects were arrested. Thacker’s bond was set at $10,000, secured. Hadden was given a $15,000 secured bond, while Gill’s bond was $3,000, unsecured. Thacker has a court date on January 11. Hadden is due in court on February 1 and Gill will appear in court on March 7.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015 14:33

Man Charged in Connection to 2010 Sex Offenses

28-year-old Jared Wayne Lege has been arrested by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers on one count of first-degree statutory sex offense by an adult and three felony counts of indecent liberties.

On December 14 of this year, The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office received a report regarding a child who was sexually assaulted by a family member. The incidents allegedly occurred from August 1, 2010 through December 1, 2010 on North Main Street in Troutman. The case was assigned to Detective Sgt. Jason Lowrance of the Special Victims Unit.

The child was interviewed at the Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center. Numerous witnesses were identified and interviewed. As a result of the investigation, Jared Lege was arrested and charged accordingly.

Lege was held under a $125,000 secured bond. He was scheduled to appear in District Court today (December 30).

Wednesday, 30 December 2015 11:07

Man Assaulted During Attempted Vehicle Break-In

A 36-year-old man was struck with a tire iron as he confronted an individual who was attempting to break into a vehicle in S.W. Hickory.

The incident occurred between nine and ten o’clock last night. The victim saw one or two individuals attempting to gain entry to a vehicle the victim knew did not belong to them. The victim attempted to intervene and pursued one subject on foot. During the foot pursuit, one man turned and hit the victim with a tire iron.

The victim did not require medical attention. Nothing was taken from the vehicle, but it did sustain damage during the attempted B&E. The vehicle is owned by a 40-year-old Hickory woman.

Hickory Police are investigating.

Hickory Rescue Squad personnel rescued eight newborn puppies and their mother this morning, according to a report from WSOC.

The puppies were born beneath a neighbor's outbuilding on Plateau Road, near Fred T. Foard High School. Because of rain and mud, the mother was unable to get the pups out from under the building.

Rescue Squad personnel were able to jack up the building and remove the puppies safely. According to WSOC’s report, the pups were being cleaned up in preparation for a reunion with their mother.

A preliminary autopsy report was unable to determine the cause of death of a six-month-old child who died on Christmas Eve.

Lincoln County Major Crimes Unit Captain Tim Johnson was notified of the preliminary results by staff at Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem. The autopsy could not determine a specific cause of death. After consulting with the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office, 30-year-old Stephanie Amber Tillman of Temple Lane in Dallas was charged with felony involuntary manslaughter. Tillman was also charged with three misdemeanor counts each of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, neglect by parents and child abuse.

Deputies and Lincoln County E.M.S. were dispatched to the Temple Lane address at 11:45 p.m. on December 24 after the child’s father, Jerry Allen, called 9-1-1, reporting that he came home from work to find his six-month-old son unresponsive, naked and alone on the living room sofa.

Mr. Allen said his wife, Stephanie Tillman, was in bed in a back bedroom. Their other two children, ages three and four, were also in the room. Both children were awake and naked when they were found. The children were placed in the custody of Lincoln County D.S.S. at the scene and later turned over to relatives for care and custody.

Tillman remains in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $60,000 secured bond. She’ll appear in District Court on January 12.

The investigation is ongoing.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015 14:40

Two Arrested after Failing to Stop for Police

20-year-old Jaquan Cortez McDowell of 7th Avenue S.E. in Hickory was arrested at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve on one felony count of fleeing to elude arrest and one misdemeanor count of possession of a schedule VI controlled substance. Also arrested at the same time was 18-year-old Tashanna Lashay Foster of 20th Avenue Drive N.E. in Hickory. She was charged with misdemeanor larceny on a warrant issued in November in Gaston County.

They were arrested after a vehicle driven by McDowell failed to stop for Police at the intersection of 7th Avenue S.E. and 8th Street Drive S.E. After an object was thrown from the passenger-side window, the vehicle did come to a stop on 8th Street Drive S.E. The thrown object was found to contain 13.3 grams of marijuana. 0.1 grams of marijuana was found in the driver’s set.

Both suspects were taken into custody without incident and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility. McDowell was initially held without bond. Foster was given a $4,000 secured bond. Both have since been released. McDowell will appear in District Court on January 4 in Newton. Foster has a January 20 court date in Gastonia.