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23 public power communities across the state received ElectriCities 2014 Public Power Awards of Excellence. The awards honor outstanding efforts in key areas such as creating a competitive business environment, legislative involvement on public power issues, customer service programs and community energy efficiency promotion.

The Town of Granite Falls received five awards.

The Competitive Business Environment award recognizes efforts by the town to create a strong business climate, including economic development planning and community or regional partnering, an online economic development presence and focus on key accounts customers.

The Energy Efficiency award recognizes efforts by the town with energy-efficient building programs, energy education and energy audits.

The Financial Stability award recognizes customer options throughout the billing process, including: equal payment programs, alternate payment methods such as online billing and payment, credit card payments and multiple payment locations. The award also recognizes community partnerships to help customers in need and the implementation of new technology within the electric system.

The Legislative Involvement award recognizes town staff and officials' involvement in the legislative process on issues pertaining to public power. The award recognizes town officials actively engaging with their legislative delegation, participation in ElectriCities-sponsored events and involvement in the Public Power Grassroots Network.

The Service Excellence award recognizes outstanding efforts by the town to communicate with customers through advertisements, online resources, social media or other community-based methods. The award also addresses emergency communications and community public power celebrations.

ElectriCities of North Carolina, Inc. serves more than 70 North Carolina public power communities with municipally owned and operated electric systems serving more than 500,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in North Carolina.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 11:36

Parade and Tree Lighting Set for this Friday

The Hickory Christmas Parade and tree lighting will take place this Friday, November 21.

At 5:30 p.m., the Lenoir-Rhyne Brass Ensemble will play under the Sails on the Square. The parade will begin at 6 p.m. at the intersection of North Center Street and Main Avenue N.E. All parade entries will be announced by Christmas Parade Hosts, City Manager Mick Berry and Deputy City Attorney Arnita Dula, who will be stationed by the red, green and white balloon arch over North Center Street near the water fountain in front of City Hall.

Spectators are encouraged to bring chairs and set them up in the blocked off parking spots along the railroad tracks on Main Avenue between 3rd Street N.W. and 2nd Street N.W. Bleachers will also be set up in the City Hall Parking lot on North Center Street.

Several groups will perform on 1st Avenue N.W. in front of the parking lot deck. James and Dorothy Best will serve as Grand Marshals for the Christmas Parade.

After the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus will light the Christmas Tree in downtown Hickory, then visit with children until 8:30 p.m. Rick Cline and Nathan Hefner will perform under the Sails on the Square after the parade until about 7:45 p.m. and then the Lenoir-Rhyne Percussion Ensemble will play until 8:30 p.m.

For a complete parade line up, go to www.HickoryNC.gov.

High Country Crime Stoppers and the Watauga County Sheriff's Office are seeking the public’s assistance in solving a break-in and larceny at New River Building Supply on Highway 105 South in Boone.

At 4:19 in the morning on Tuesday, July 29, an unknown white male broke a window and entered a warehouse door. The man removed various items from the store, including flashlights, drills, a saw and food items.

High Country Crime Stoppers is now offering a guaranteed $500 reward for information leading to the perpetrator’s arrest. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 828-268-6959 or 828-737-0125 or call the Watauga Co. Sheriff's Office at 828-264-3761.

All information will be kept confidential.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 11:06

Morganton Man Accused of Breaking into Truck

27-year-old Curtis Chase Clark of Hartland Road in Morganton has been arrested by Burke Co. Sheriff’s Officers on charges of felony breaking & entering a motor vehicle and felony larceny of a firearm.

On November 6, Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to the Chesterfield Family Restaurant on Johns River Loop in Morganton in reference to a vehicle break-in. The victim said his truck had just been broken into. An employee at the restaurant saw a possible suspect walking north on N.C. Highway 18 carrying a backpack that was stolen from the truck.

A Deputy made contact with a male subject, Curtis Clark, walking near the area of Hartland Road and Hidden Pines Drive. Clark denied any involvement with the incident. A Detective found a backpack on the ground, covered with a hooded sweatshirt. When the Detective told Clark his DNA would be on the sweatshirt, Clark began to cooperate and admitted that he had broken into the truck.

A pistol and other items were found in the backpack. Some of the victim’s property taken from the truck was also found on Clark’s person.

Clark was arrested and given a $20,000 secured bond. He was scheduled to appear in District Court on December 1 in Morganton.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 10:44

Christmas Concert Set for December 20 at H.C.T.

Award-winning vocalist Jackie Finley; national recording artist Nathan Hefner; award-winning percussionist Rick Cline; Jennifer Canterbury, who recently played the lead role in “The Little Mermaid”; and Allen Finley will present their ninth annual Christmas concert. The event, entitled, “A Mancini Christmas Concert,” is scheduled for 8 p.m. on December 20 in the newly renovated Hickory Community Theatre.

The event will showcase music by composer Henry Mancini, such as “Moon River,” “The Pink Panther Theme,” “Peter Gunn” and “Days Of Wine & Roses,” as well as traditional Christmas music.

Jackie Finley has opened for country music stars Travis Tritt and Jo Dee Messina; performed at Nashville’s World-Famous Tootsie’s Orchid; won the 2007 NFDA Idol competition in Las Vegas; and holds six Kay Awards for acting at H.C.T. Hefner performed at Reece Witherspoon’s wedding and has opened for music star Patti Page.

Individual tickets are $22 and are available at the Hickory Community Theatre’s website, www.hickorytheatre.org or by calling 828-328-2283. Tickets may also be purchased by calling Finley Advertising at 828-324-6700 or 828-322-4738 or at nathanhefner.com.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 10:39

Two Burke County School Employees Abruptly Resign

According to published reports, two high-level Burke County Public Schools employees have abruptly resigned. The two are assistant superintendent Milland Bradley and Jan Crump, director of human resources. Crump resigned Friday (November 14) and Bradley resigned Sunday (November 16).

A spokesperson for the Burke County Board of Education would confirm only that the two had voluntarily resigned. In consideration of employee confidentiality, no additional details were released. The two will not receive severance packages.

Bradley was hired as an assistant superintendent in July, 2012 and Crump was originally hired in August of 1994, serving in a number of roles until moving into the human resources director position in July 2012.

33-year-old Richard Keith Stevens and 32-year-old Tara Nichole Stevens, both of Miller Bridge Road in Connelly Springs, have been arrested for several sex offenses. Richard Stevens was charged with two felony counts each of intercourse or sexual offenses with certain victims and first-degree sex offense. Tara Stevens was charged with felony child abuse and intercourse or sexual offenses with certain victims. The charges were filed on November 13 & 14.

Both suspects were confined in the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility with bond for Richard Stevens set at $200,000, secured, while Tara Stevens was given a $150,000 secured bond. Richard Stevens had a first appearance in court on November 17 with a probable cause hearing set for December 8. Tara Stevens had a first appearance on November 14. Her probable cause hearing was scheduled for December 9.

No further details are available.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 07:03

Edison Project Winners Chosen

Daniel Adkins has won first prize in the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce’s Edison Project competition. Adkins won the $10,000 prize for You2CanBrew. You2CanBrew will be a retail facility focusing on the craft beer, home brewing and small system brewing communities. The business will provide tier-based instructional courses, including in-house brewing booths and assembling "starter kits" of equipment and ingredients, all of which will be available in a retail location.

The second-place $5,000 prize went to Mark “Hootie” Bowman. Bowman’s Collegiate Kids Books will create interactive, touch & feel children's books featuring school mascots, school traditions and well-known school landmarks. The books will utilize moveable parts, a variety of textured materials, scratch & sniff experiences, custom colorful artwork and a simple rhyming cadence.

Bridgette Cooke’s BioRid concept claimed the $3,000 third-place prize. BioRid is a device that offers a more consistent and effective method for removing dangerous microorganisms from the surfaces of radiological equipment. The BioRid device uses science and technological engineering to sanitize equipment during storage.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 16:54

Catawba County Offers Flu Shots Dec. 4 & 5

Catawba County Public Health is offering two walk-in flu shot clinics on December 4 & 5 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days.

Vaccinations will be available by walk-in only for individuals age three and older. Appointments are recommended for infants ages 6-35 months. Appointments can be made by calling 828-695-5800.

The seasonal flu shot costs $26 for individuals age three and older and $20 for children ages 6-35 months. For people 65 and older, the high-dose flu shot is available for $40 and the pneumonia vaccine is available for $80. Accepted forms of payment include cash, check, debit & credit, Medicare Part B (only) and Medicaid. Medicare Advantage and other insurance plans will not be accepted; however, individuals may pay and then file with their insurers for possible reimbursement.

Catawba County Public Health is located off Fairgrove Church Road, behind the Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory. For more information, call 828-695-5800 or visit www.catawbacountync.gov/phealth.

High Country Crime Stoppers and the Watauga County Sheriff's Office are seeking the public’s assistance in solving an incident that involved the theft of Halloween decorations.

Sometime between 9 p.m. Wednesday (October 29) and 4 a.m. Thursday (October 30), a Halloween decoration described as an inflatable ghost stack was stolen from Doc’s Gem Mine on Mystery Hill Lane in Blowing Rock. A white, mid 90s four-door Nissan Altima was seen in the area during the time of the theft.

Anyone with information regarding the crime should call Crime Stoppers at 828-268-6959 or 828-737-0125 or the Watauga County Sheriff's Office at 828-264-3761. All information will be kept confidential.

High Country Crime Stoppers pays rewards for information that leads to arrests, the recovery of stolen property the seizure of drugs and the location of wanted persons.