The second annual 2016 Footcandle Film Festival is coming to the Drendel Auditorium at the SALT Block the weekend of September 23-25. The film festival will bring 30 films for attendees to view. They’ll have the chance to meet some of the filmmakers throughout the weekend. A complete list of the films, their descriptions and trailers can be found on the festival website (

After two full days of films, the festival will conclude at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday with an awards ceremony at The Crossing at Hollar Mill where festival winners will be announced and a full dinner will be served to attendees.

Tickets are now on sale to the general public. Visit and click the “Buy Tickets” link on the homepage. Weekend passes are available.

For more information, contact the Film Society at or visit the festival’s website.

54-year-old Timothy Martin Benvenuti of 28th Avenue N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 9:45 last night (August 15) on one misdemeanor count of child abuse.

He was arrested after personnel with St. Stephens Elementary School reported that Benvenuti struck two minor subjects while in transit to or from the school’s Before & After School program.

Benvenuti was taken into custody without incident at his residence. He was taken to the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $1,000 secured bond. He is no longer in custody. An appearance in District Court was scheduled for September 28.

27-year-old Adrian Durrand Johnson, Jr. of 5th Avenue S.W. in Hickory was arrested at about 8 a.m. yesterday (August 15) by Hickory Police on a number of outstanding warrants. He is charged with felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance and misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana up to half an ounce and simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance. He was also charged with failure to appear on felony counts of possession of cocaine and speeding to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, plus additional failure to appear charges on misdemeanor counts of assault on a female, resisting a public officer (two counts), driving while license revoked (two counts) and speeding.

Johnson was taken into custody without incident at a residence on Camp Street in Conover. He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $95,000, secured. Appearances in Superior Court on the felony drug charges were scheduled for today and for October 3. District Court dates were set for August 24 & 31, all in Newton.

One person is dead and two others are in custody following an Officer-involved shooting this morning in the parking lot at Walmart on Blowing Rock Boulevard in Lenoir. The deceased has been identified as Carl Marcus Nivens.

The incident occurred around 9 a.m. today (August 16). Events unfolded as Lenoir Police responded to reports of a vehicle break-in. As an Officer exited the store behind a possible suspect, the man turned and fired at the Officer. The Officer returned fire, killing the suspect.

After the shooting, a handgun was reportedly spotted on the pavement outside the store and plastic tarps were draped near the store’s home & pharmacy entrance. A male and a female were with the deceased prior to the shooting. They were both detained and remained in custody as of this afternoon.

No one else was injured.

The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation is the lead agency.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016 07:38

Hudson Woman Charged with B&E; More

38-year-old Amanda Jo Greer of Lemont Avenue in Hudson was arrested yesterday (August 15) by Hudson Police on charges of breaking & entering, injury to real property, domestic criminal trespass and a probation violation. Greer is on probation for an August 2013 D.W.I. conviction in Caldwell County.

Following her arrest, she was taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center with bond set at $10,500, secured. Greer will appear in District Court on September 20 in Lenoir.

Contractors in Morganton are refurbishing manholes this week in the northern part of the city.

Contractors will be at work on Williams Street, Holly Place, Laurel Hills Drive, Wedgewood Drive and Wedgewood Court. The work is part of a larger capital improvement program started in July to address infiltration and inflow into the city's sewer system.

Water Resources Director Brad Boris, Water Resources Director says the program has resulted in reduced treatment costs at the plant. He says that keeping stormwater and groundwater out of the city’s sewer system is a priority because those waters are major contributors to sanitary sewer overflows.

For more information, call the Water Resources Department at 828-438-5276.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016 07:13

Catawba Man Jailed on Assault Charges

60-year-old Henry Calvin Kennedy of Rosewald Street in Catawba has been arrested by Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Officers on two counts each of assault on a female and communicating threats. The charges date back to 2014. Kennedy was jailed yesterday (August 15) in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $20,000 secured bond. He will appear in Superior Court on August 29 in Newton.

22-year-old Travis Martin Allen of Swafford Road in Spruce Pine has been charged by McDowell County Sheriff’s Detectives with taking indecent liberties with a child.

Detective Billie Brown says Allen had inappropriate sexual contact with a 12-year-old female acquaintance in McDowell County in July. The girl’s family reported the incident to the Sheriff’s Office. Similar charges against Allen are pending in Mitchell County.

He has a court date in Mitchell County today (August 16) with an appearance in a McDowell County courtroom coming up on August 31.

25-year-old Michael William Watkins of N.W. Wheeler Street in Lenoir was arrested by Lenoir Police yesterday (August 15) on charges of felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, misdemeanor assault on a female and misdemeanor injury to personal property. Following his arrest, Watkins was taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center with bond set at $55,000, secured. He was scheduled to appear in District Court on the felony charge today, with another court date coming up on August 18.

A Catawba man accused of a 2012 murder and subsequent burning of the victim’s body pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a prison term of at least 20 years during Catawba County Superior Court today (August 15).

36-year-old Jermaine Wilkes of Edna Street in Catawba pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, concealing or failing to report a death and burning personal property. He was convicted for the June 7, 2012 slaying of 22-year-old Brianne Mary Ginty.

Wilkes’ murder trial had been scheduled to begin today; however, following his guilty plea, the Honorable Robert T. Sumner, Superior Court Judge from Gaston County, sentenced Wilkes to serve 20 to 26 years in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections. Wilkes has been incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Center since his arrest in June of 2012.

Ginty’s parents, Patrick and Susan, both addressed the court today. In a statement read by Assistant District Attorney Lance Sigmon, Patrick Ginty acknowledged the loss of a “daughter and friend” while asking the court to give Wilkes the maximum sentence possible to bring closure to the family.

On June 7, 2012, Firefighters from Sherrills Ford Fire & Rescue responded to a vehicle fire on Hopewell Church Road in Catawba and found a vehicle registered to Ginty severely burned and still smoldering. They also discovered skeletal remains inside the vehicle. The body was burned beyond recognition. DNA samples from the remains and from Ginty’s parents were used to confirm the victim’s identity.

Investigators responded to Ginty’s residence, located more than seven miles from the site where her burned car was found. They found that forced entry had been made into the home through a window.

Officers learned that Ginty’s boyfriend, Antoine Reid, had broken into her home while Wilkes was with him. Reid later left the house, but Wilkes remained at the residence with Ginty. During that time, an altercation occurred between Ginty and Wilkes that led to her death.

Blood, later identified as Ginty’s, was found on the floor of the living room. After developing Wilkes as a possible suspect, Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers found him walking along a road and took him into custody.

Wilkes initially denied any wrongdoing, but later admitted that he had moved Ginty’s body to the wooded area and burned it after she allegedly fell and hit her head when he struck her once. Defense Attorney Scott Reilly described it as an act of panic that led to a series of horrible decisions by his client.

Jason Beebe and Brian Kelly led the investigation for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Sigmon and Sean Baetjer handled the prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.

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