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Monday, 20 October 2014 15:32

Hickory Man Indicted for Theft by Employee

29-year-old Joshua Keith Gajus of Henry River Road in Hickory was served a felony indictment by Hickory Police at about 5:15 Friday afternoon (October 17) on one felony count of larceny by servant or other employee.

The indictment comes in connection to a May 2013 case in which Gajus, who worked for the Verizon store on North Center Street in Hickory, was accused of checking out phones on a personal account and then selling them.

Gajus was taken before a Magistrate and then released under a $5,000 unsecured bond. He will appear in Superior Court on October 31 in Newton.

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Monday, 20 October 2014 14:59

Hickory Man Faces Felony Meth Charge

39-year-old Tony Lee Watson of 31st Street Court S.E. in Hickory was arrested at about seven o’clock Saturday evening (October 18) on one felony count of possession of methamphetamine and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was arrested after Hickory Police were called to assist Probation & Parole Officers at Watson’s residence. Officers found 0.4 grams of meth and a syringe in a dresser, plus an additional 0.8 grams of meth.

Watson was taken into custody without incident and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under an $8,000 secured bond. He was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court today (October 20) in Newton.

The Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center will hold a vigil tomorrow (October 21) at noon to remember the 23 children listed by the N.C. Child Fatality & Prevention Team as homicide victims by a parent or caregiver. The vigil will be held at the Sails on the Square in downtown Hickory.

The vigil is held annually in October in remembrance of the children who died as a result of abuse and neglect. A bell will ring as each child’s name, age and cause of death is read aloud. Simultaneous with the ringing of the bell, a T-Shirt bearing the child’s name and age will be displayed. The artwork on each of the 23 shirts has been created by students in the Art Club at Hickory High School. When the vigil is over, the T-shirts will be displayed at the Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center in Conover through the month of October.

The event will last approximately 45 minutes. For more information, contact the CAPC at 828-465-9296.

30-year-old Bradley Joe Pennell of Lewittes Road in Taylorsville and 20-year-old Ciera Pauline Hatcher of Withering Heights Drive in Newton were both arrested by Hickory Police at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on charges of felony possession with intent to sell or deliver methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Pennell was also charged with felony maintaining a vehicle, dwelling or place for a controlled substance, while Hatcher faces one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana up to half an ounce.

They were arrested when an Officer on foot patrol at the Days Inn on 13th Avenue Drive N.W. in Hickory smelled the strong odor of marijuana coming from room 308 as he walked past the room. The Officer knocked on the door and was given consent to search. The search turned up 12.9 grams of methamphetamine, 1.2 grams of marijuana, a marijuana roach weighing 0.3 grams, needles, digital scales, two pipes, a hypodermic needle containing an unknown substance and $994 in cash.

A third person in the room was not charged.

Pennell and Hatcher were each taken to the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for Pennell set at $30,000, secured, while Hatcher was given a $9,000 secured bond. Both subjects were scheduled to make first appearances in District Court today (October 20) in Newton.

25-year-old Christopher Phillip Smith has been arrested by Officers with the Morganton Department of Public Safety for second-degree forcible sexual offense.

Smith was arrested on October 9 and placed in the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility under a $25,000 secured bond. An appearance in District Court was set for October 29 in Morganton.

Additional charges are pending.

22-year-old Rebecca Enid Rivera of 20th Avenue Drive N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police early Saturday morning on charges of trafficking in cocaine, possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine, possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling or place for a controlled substance. She was also charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Events leading to Rivera’s arrest unfolded as Police went to Rivera’s residence after a neighbor reported a domestic dispute. Officers arrived and were let in by Rivera. Officers saw signs of a struggle and conducted a safety sweep of the property. In the process, they saw cocaine in an upstairs bathroom, in plain view.

Rivera refused to grant consent for a search. Officers applied for and were given a search warrant. In executing the warrant, 2.8 ounces of cocaine, 14 grams of marijuana and various items of drug paraphernalia were found and seized.

Rivera gave no information regarding the domestic dispute and sustained no injuries requiring treatment. The other person involved in the domestic incident was not at the residence when Police arrived.

She was taken into custody without incident and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $70,000 secured bond. She has since been released. A first appearance in District Court was set for today (October 20) in Newton.

H. DeWitt “Dee” Blackwell announced his retirement as Executive Director of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG), effective December 31, 2014.

A 40-year veteran of the WPCOG, Blackwell joined the organization in November of 1974 as Regional Planner. Since 1974, he served the Council in numerous capacities including: Planning Director (1976-1994), Director of Planning and Community Development (1994-2000), Assistant Executive Director (2000-2008), and Executive Director (2008-Present).

Austin Hedrick, a Bunker Hill High School student, was killed at about midnight Friday night when a rifle discharged in the vehicle he was riding in.

The victim’s father, Scotty Hedrick, was driving a small Mazda pickup truck on Hudson Chapel Road, east of Catawba. Austin Hedrick was sitting in the window seat and a 15-year-old family friend was sitting between them.

A "hunting-style" rifle was wedged between Austin Hedrick and his friend. Near the intersection of Hudson Chapel Road and Brown Chapel Road, the rifle went off. Austin Hedrick was shot in the head. The victim was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Authorities don’t know why the rifle discharged. It’s not clear at this time if any charges will be filed. The Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

Austin Hedrick is the third Bunker Hill student to die in the past two weeks. Two 15-year-old Bunker Hill students were killed in an auto accident on October 3.

Monday, 20 October 2014 07:08

Bat with Rabies Found in Catawba County

Catawba County’s second confirmed case of rabies in 2014 has been recorded after a bat found in a Hickory residence tested positive for the disease.

Hickory Animal Control Officers were dispatched to a residence in northwest Hickory on Wednesday, October 15 after a bat was found in the home.  The remains of the bat were shipped to the North Carolina Public Health Laboratory in Raleigh on the evening of the 15th by Catawba County Animal Services staff.

The North Carolina Public Health Laboratory notified Catawba County on the afternoon of October 17th that the bat tested positive for rabies.

Animal Services reminds pet owners that rabies is still present in the local wild animal population and is a threat to pets and humans, year-round.  The best way to protect pets from rabies is to have them properly vaccinated.  Humans should avoid contact with wild animals and be aware that one form of rabies may cause a wild animal to lose its normal fear of humans and approach or attack.

For more information on rabies or rabies vaccinations, call Catawba County Animal Services at 828-464-7686.

Charter Business will host the first-ever Tech Expo for business owners across Catawba, Burke, Lincoln, Watauga, Alexander, Wilkes and Caldwell counties. The event is scheduled for tomorrow (October 21) from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. at The Crossing at Hollar Mill.

The free Tech Expo will feature more than 30 area expert vendors who specialize in facilitating and providing technology to businesses across the foothills. The event also will include educational seminars on topics ranging from Cloud computing and network security to disaster recovery and digital media marketing.

The Crossing at Hollar Mill is located at 883 Highland Avenue S.E. in Hickory. To learn more or to register for the Tech Expo, contact jesse.sloane@charter.com.