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27-year-old Travis Xavier Thomas of Conley Place in Lenoir was arrested by Lenoir Police early this morning (December 12) on charges of felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell or distribute a schedule II controlled substance, felony maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance, misdemeanor simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.     

He was arrested when the Lenoir Police Narcotics Unit & Special Response Team served a search warrant at Thomas’ residence. During the search, Officers found and seized 6.9 grams of crack cocaine, 20 grams of marijuana and $125 in U.S. currency. The drugs seized have an estimated value of $1,800.

The six-month-long investigation leading to Thomas’ arrest was the direct result of community complaints. Additional charges may be forthcoming.

Thomas was confined in the Caldwell Co. Detention Center under a $150,000 secured bond. He is scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court on December 15.

21-year-old Samuel Franklin Holcombe was arrested by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers on December 10 and charged with felony larceny of a firearm.

On December 1, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a stolen firearm from Houpe Road in Statesville. The victim said a rifle valued at $240 had been taken from a closet inside the home. The responding Deputy searched for signs of forced entry and found none.

During the subsequent investigation, Detectives spoke with potential suspects and witnesses. Those interviews yielded the name of a possible suspect. Detectives then searched local pawnshop records and located the stolen gun and learned that the suspect had pawned the gun. The firearm was recovered.

The suspect, Samuel Holcombe was taken into custody and given a $10,000 secured bond. He will appear in District Court on December 17 in Statesville.

Friday, 12 December 2014 13:45

Cornerstone Bakery Victimized by Scammer

The Cornerstone Bakery on North Center Street in Hickory was victimized by a scam yesterday, listed on Police reports as a case of fraud, flim-flam, confidence games & trickery.

The incident occurred between 11 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. as someone called the business owner and said that Duke Power had not received the business’ last payment and would cut off the power unless she immediately obtained a Green Dot card and gave the caller the card number so that a cash payment could be made. The victim cooperated with the caller and provided the requested information over the telephone, resulting in the loss of an undisclosed amount of money from the business’ account.

The incident was reported at 1:25 p.m. yesterday. Hickory Police are investigating. Police remind the public to be aware of similar scams and never to give out sensitive financial information over the phone.

Friday, 12 December 2014 12:46

WHKY Announces Several Staffing Changes

Several staffing changes are in the works at WHKY-TV and radio.

Jim Karas has announced that he is retiring after 17 years as news director and anchor of the WHKY-TV News. Karas has been a fixture at WHKY since he was hired in March of 1997. He plans to spend time in both the Washington, D.C. and Myrtle Beach areas to spend more time with his family. Karas’ last day at WHKY will be Christmas Eve.

Ralph Mangum, who has been with WHKY as a news reporter since November of 2009, will move into Karas’ position as news director and TV news anchor. Mangum will continue to host the popular Crime Report segment on the WHKY News.

Returning to WHKY after a five-year absence is Rob Eastwood. Eastwood, who has most recently been a news reporter and on-air personality at WMNC in Morganton, will report the news on 1290 AM WHKY radio and will contribute to the TV news, as well. Eastwood will assume his new position on December 15.

Fentress Chestnut, who started at WHKY as a summer intern earlier this year and later became a part-time reporter, has now assumed a full-time role. She will continue to report the news for WHKY-TV and will also work in a production capacity, performing many tasks behind the scenes to get the nightly TV newscast on the air.

Also leaving WHKY after 21 years is Eric Stafford, who worked in production and graphics and contributed a weekly entertainment segment to the TV newscast. Stafford remains in the Unifour area, having taken a job with Caldwell County where he and his family make their home.

23-year-old Anthony Leon Poteat, Jr. of Presco Court in Charlotte and 24-year-old Michael Anthony Strother of Michelle Drive in Newton were both arrested by Hickory Police shortly before midnight last night (December 11). Poteat was charged with felony possession of heroin, felony possession of cocaine and simple possession of marijuana up to half an ounce. Strother was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. He faces additional charges for possession of stolen goods or property and obtaining property by false pretense.

Both men were taken into custody without incident at the Fast & Fresh store on Main Avenue N.E. in Hickory. They have been incarcerated in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for Poteat set at $19,550, secured, while Strother was given an $11,000 secured bond. First appearances in District Court were scheduled for today.

Friday, 12 December 2014 11:22

WPCOG Names New Executive Director

Anthony Starr, current Assistant Executive Director of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG), has been named the new Executive Director of the WPCOG effective January 1, 2015. The WPCOG Policy Board voted on November 25 to confirm the appointment during its Policy Board Meeting held in Newton. Starr will become the third full-time Executive Director since the creation of the WPCOG in 1968.

Starr, a Catawba County native, brings with him 19 years of local government experience and has directed budgeting, finance, GIS/IT, Aging Services, Small Business Administration Loans, and Section 8 Housing at the WPCOG since 2012. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Community & Regional Planning from Appalachian State University, a Master of Public Administration in Town, City & County Management from Appalachian State and the Municipal Administration Course at the School of Government, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

The WPCOG is a regional planning and economic development organization that serves 28 local governments in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties. The WPCOG is headquartered in Long View and operates with a staff of 49 professionals in six divisions.

For more information, visit www.wpcog.org.

Dr. George Thomas Place II, who has extensive experience in agricultural teaching and research, has been named Catawba County’s new Cooperative Extension Director. He will begin his new duties on January 5, 2015. He succeeds Jeff Carpenter, who retired in 2013. In his new role, Dr. Place will supervise a staff of seven.

Dr. Place earned both a PhD and Master’s Degree in Crop Science from N.C. State with a grade point average of 4.0. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Plant Biological Sciences with a Chemistry minor in combined studies at the University of Missouri Kansas City and the University of New Mexico.

Dr. Place, who is fluent in Spanish, has been working in Panama since May 2012 with the Peace Corps, where he and his wife, Soraya, co-founded a project to improve food security and educate and empower the next generation of farmers and leaders.

Catawba County’s Cooperative Extension serves as the outreach arm of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at North Carolina State University and the School of Agriculture at North Carolina A&T State University. Its mission includes sustaining agriculture and forestry, protecting the environment, maintaining viable communities, developing responsible youth and developing strong, healthy, safe families.

For more information, visit http://catawba.ces.ncsu.edu or call 828-465-8240.

Friday, 12 December 2014 07:31

Hickory to Create Bond Committee

Hickory City Council and city staff have begun the process of creating a Bond Committee. The committee will help provide input regarding the $25 million streets and sidewalks bond referendum and the $15 million economic development bond referendum that were passed in the November 4 election.

Interested citizens can fill out an online form at www.HickoryNC.gov by clicking on the Bond Information button at the top right of the Home Page (www.HickoryNC.gov/bondform). Citizens can also contact the City Manager’s Office at 828-323-7400. The deadline to apply is January 9 at 5 p.m.

20-year-old Taya Alequa McCathern of Glenwood Place Court in Hickory was arrested yesterday (December 11) by Hickory Police for misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon. She was also served warrants for failure to appear on charges of financial card fraud and obtaining property by false pretense.

McCathern was arrested after Police responded to the 500 block of North Center Street where a 22-year-old male victim said the suspect chased him with her vehicle and hit him in the left leg. The victim said he did not require medical attention. He also said McCathern had thrown a knife at him, but no knife was found.

She was taken into custody a short time later and confined in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $30,000 secured bond. McCathern was scheduled to make a first appearance in Superior Court on the felony charges today with another District Court date on the misdemeanor charge set for January 22.

The Hickory Board of Education will hold a specially called meeting on Monday, December 15, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the Administrative Services Building, 432 4th Avenue S.W. in Hickory.

The meeting has been called to allow a discussion of the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs at Hickory High School.

The Board will also go into closed session for personnel reasons.