Unemployment rates increased slightly or remained steady in Hickory Metro counties, according to the latest report issued by the North Carolina Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division. The report was released Thursday (January 3), and it shows the unemployment rates for the month of November.
Catawba County's unemployment rate stands at 3.1 percent, which is unchanged from October. Alexander County saw it's jobless rate increase slightly, to 2.9 percent from 2.8 percent. Burke County also saw a slight increase from October to November, from 3.1 percent to 3.2 percent, and Caldwell County's unemployment rate is 3.6 percent, up from 3.3 percent.
The Unemployment rate for the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area or MSA is 3.2 percent, up from 3.1 percent in October. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton is tied for the fourth lowest unemployment rate among 15 MSAs.
The statewide unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, up from 3.4 percent in the last report. Jobless rates increased in 56 of North Carolina's 100 counties, decreased in 14, and remained unchanged in 30. Scotland County has the state's highest unemployment rate at 6.6 percent, which Buncombe County has the lowest at 2.7 percent. When compared to the same month last year, unemployment rates decreased in 99 counties and remained unchanged in one. All 15 metro areas experienced rate decreases over the year.
31-year-old Jeffrey Scott Nichols of Millwood Drive in Newton was arrested Thursday (January 3) by Newton Police Officers. He's charged with breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering. Nichols was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $25,000 bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for next Monday (January 7).
58-year-old Clayton Eugene Darr of Victorian Lane in Granite Falls was arrested Thursday (January 3) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felony breaking and entering into a place of worship.
Thursday at 9:09 a.m. officers with the Lenoir Police Department responded to an alarm at the South Lenoir Church of God on Hickory Boulevard. Once on the scene officers found an open door. As officers were searching, they discovered that one of the offices in the church had been broken into. It appeared that someone forced the door open and caused damage. The officers reviewed the security camera video and were able to identify the suspect and his vehicle, a black Ford F-150 with a camper shell on the back.
A short time later a Narcotics officer with the Lenoir Police Department located the suspect’s vehicle in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Blowing Rock Boulevard. Officers searched Wal-Mart and found the suspect who was identified as Clayton Eugene Darr. Darr was later arrested and charged. He received a $30,000 secured bond. A District Court date was scheduled today (January 4).
Investigators are still investigating to determine if anything was stolen from the church. The damage to the interior door was estimated at $250.
34-year-old Angela Michelle Sullivan of 7th Street NW in Hickory was arrested Thursday (January 3) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with the sale of heroin and possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver heroin. In addition, Sullivan is charged with felony probation violation and two counts of failure to appear. She's charged with being a no-show in court to answer to two counts of the sale of heroin, and one count apiece of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver heroin and felony probation violation.
Sullivan was incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $25,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for February 22.
One person was killed in a single-vehicle crash in Lincoln County this morning (January 3). The deceased is 29-year-old Heather Jade Hodge of Crouse
At about 9:15 a.m. today, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol responded to the accident on N.C. Highway 182, near Harmon Road. An eastbound Dodge Caravan driven by Ms. Hodge ran off the right side of the highway in a curve. The vehicle struck a culvert and then ran into a tree. Ms. Hodge died at the scene. She was not wearing a seatbelt.
Ms. Hodge's four-year-old son was also in the vehicle. He was wearing a seatbelt, but was not properly confined in a child restraint device. The child was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
After 30 years of service, Captain Andy Webster has retired from the Hickory Fire Department. He was hired on August 21, 1989 as a firefighter and moved through the ranks. In March 2017, he was promoted to Captain. Captain Webster obtained certifications and courses to further his career including: NC Level II Firefighter, Hazardous Materials Operations level, NC Level II Qualified Fire Service Instructor, NC Fire Prevention Inspector Level I, NC EMT Basic, NC EVD, NC RIT, Leadership I-III, NIMS through FEMA, and level 2 NC Fire Officer.
Webster served as President of the Western North Carolina Association of Firefighters in 2017. He has been a member of the Cool Springs Volunteer Fire Department since 1984. In 2013, he was appointed Fire Chief and still serves in that capacity. After retirement, his plans are to continue serving as Fire Chief at Cool Springs and may one day run for elected office.
Webster said “I’m looking forward to what every direction life takes me in and just being able to work at my schedule. Plan to travel and catch some college and pro football games with my son Dallas and see the country with my life partner Jennifer. And cook a meal every now and then for family and friends.” He continued “I also want to thank all the citizens of this great city for allowing me to serve them for the past 30 years. I was able to live out my childhood dream of working as a firefighter.”
26-year-old Carsen Elizabeth Byrd of Lakeside Drive in Salisbury was arrested by Hickory Police late last Friday night (December 28) on an outstanding warrant for a felony probation violation. She was also charged with misdemeanor counts of possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer. Byrd is on probation as she serves a 30-month suspended sentence following a July 2018 felony conviction in Rowan County for obtaining property by false pretense and larceny by servant or other employee.
Byrd was taken into custody without incident just before midnight Friday at a restaurant on Highway 70 S.E. in Hickory. She was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $53,000, secured. Byrd will appear in District Court on January 7 and in Superior Court on January 14.
28-year-old Adam Grant Johnson of East 16th Street in Newton was arrested Wednesday (January 2) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with one count of felony probation violation, two counts of misdemeanor probation violation, and failure to appear on counts of cruelty to animals, driving while impaired, and reckless driving to endanger. Johnson was confined in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $27,500 bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for January 16, a Superior Court date is set for January 28.
35-year-old Jeremy Lane Melton of South Fork Court in Claremont was arrested by Hickory Police early this morning (January 3) on one felony count of possession of a schedule I controlled substance and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Melton was taken into custody without incident just before 5 a.m. today at a restaurant on 14th Avenue S.E. in Hickory. Following his arrest, Melton was taken to the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $5,500, secured. By noon today, he was no longer listed as an inmate in Catawba County. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled today in Newton.
26-year-old Neng Vang of Oak Ridge Church Street in Connelly Springs was arrested Wednesday (January 2) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with possession of methamphetamine, resisting a public officer, and felony probation violation. Vang was incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $11,000 bond. District and Superior Court appearances were scheduled today (January 3).
28-year-old Martin Leon Brinkley of Morningside Lane in Lenoir was arrested Wednesday (January 2) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with possession of methamphetamine. Brinkley was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled today (January 3).
34-year-old Daniel Scott Huffman of Hickory, 29-year-old Jessica Michelle Deaton of Lincolnton, and 49-year-old Eddie Jerry Ruff, Jr. of Kings Mountain, were all arrested on drug charges filed in Lincoln County. Huffman was arrested Monday (December 31) and charged with two felony counts each of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and sell and deliver cocaine. Deaton was arrested December 21 and charged with possession of methamphetamine. Ruff was arrested in Gaston County on true bills of indictment charging him with three felony counts apiece of possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine and sell and delivery of methamphetamine.
The three suspects are part of a group of wanted individuals targeted as part of a seven-month long drug investigation by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office narcotics officers. Deputies are still looking for the following suspects on various drug charges: 32-year-old Kasey Lynn Earwood, whose last known address was in Mount Holly, 43-year-old Christa Ann McClung of Lincolnton, 46-year-old Christopher Lee Reynolds of Vale, 26-year-old Jessie Eric Stuckey of Stanley, and 42-year-old Phillip Wayne Thompson of Cherryville.
Earlier, six people were arrested in connection with the investigation and six other people were indicted by the Lincoln County Grand Jury on existing charges. Huffman was jailed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $50,000 secured bond. Deaton was jailed under a $10,000 secured bond. Ruff was released from the Gaston County Jail on a $10,000 secured bond. Huffman's next District Court date is January 7, Ruff has a Superior Court appearance on that date, no court date was listed for Deaton.
Anyone with information on the suspects being sought or concerning drug activity is urged to call the Drug Tip line at 704-736-8606 or Lincolnton/Lincoln County Crime Stoppers at 704-736-8909. All tips will be investigated and callers can remain anonymous.
26-year-old Travis James Wise was arrested Wednesday (January 2) by Morganton Public Safety Officers. He's charged with felony possession of methamphetamine. Wise was also charged with displaying a fictitious registration plate and expired registration. Wise was arrested shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday near exit 100 of Interstate 40 in Morganton. He was not listed as an inmate in Burke County as of today (January 3). A District Court appearance is scheduled for January 18.
25-year-old Karissa Deloris Browning of McDaniel Street in Newton was arrested Wednesday (January 2) by Long View Police Officers. She's charged with ten counts of failure to appear. The charges Browning was scheduled to answer to include identity theft, obtaining property by false pretense, and larceny, along with highway violations. Browning was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $25,500 bond. A District Court date is January 31, a Superior Court appearance is scheduled for February 4.
27-year-old Christopher Cole Cox of Travis Road in Conover was arrested Wednesday (January 2) by authorities in Alexander County on charges filed in Catawba County. He's charged with possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Cox was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $25,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled today (January 3).
34-year-old Daniel Scott Huffman of East 19th Street in Newton was arrested by Hickory Police at eight o'clock on New Year's Eve. He was charged with two felony counts each of possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance and the sale or delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. He was also charged with misdemeanor maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. The warrants for his arrest were issued in Lincoln County in May of 2018.
The suspect was taken into custody without incident at a retail store on Highway 70 S.E. in Hickory. Following his arrest, Huffman was taken to the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $50,000 secured bond. As of this afternoon, Huffman was listed as an inmate in Lincoln County. He'll appear in Superior Court on January 7 in Lincolnton.
45-year-old Steven Wayne Fidler of Oxford School Road in the Ellendale Community of Alexander County was arrested Monday (December 31) by Alexander County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony flee to elude arrest in a motor vehicle along with misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest, fail to heed lights or siren, driving while impaired, and driving while license revoked. He's also charged with parole violation.
On Monday at approximately 2:00 p.m., an officer responded in the area of Walker and Bryant Roads in the Ellendale Community, in reference to a suspicious vehicle. Officers located the vehicle, which, according to a news release, refused to stop, resulting in the officer giving chase. The pursuit began and the vehicle turned onto Three Forks Church Road, turned left onto Chapman Mill Road, and then turned right onto Oxford School Road.
The vehicle pulled into a driveway at a residence on Oxford School Road. The driver, Fidler, was ordered out of the vehicle then refused the commands given by the officer and attempted to enter the residence. After Fidler continued to refuse commands, the officer deployed his taser and the driver was taken into custody.
Fidler was also wanted on a charge of parole violation in Richmond County. He was placed in jail under a $25,000 secured bond for the charges filed by Alexander County authorities, and is being held without bond for Richmond County charge. Fidler has a first appearance scheduled for next Monday (January 7) in Alexander County District Court.
49-year-old Lynn Allen Tester of Log Cabin Place in Lenoir was arrested Tuesday (January 1) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felon possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver methamphetamine. Tester is also charged with failure to appear. He was incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled Thursday (January 3).
41-year-old Patricia Diane Bare of SW Jason Place in Lenoir was arrested Monday (December 31) by Lenoir Police Officers. She's charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Bond for the suspect was set at $7,500 secured. A District Court date was scheduled for Thursday (January 3).
49-year-old Jeffery Ben Pavkovich and 45-year-old Christopher Lee Broome, both from Gainesville, Georgia, have been arrested by Hickory Police on felony drug charges. Pavkovich was charged with one count each of trafficking in methamphetamine and maintaining a vehicle for a controlled substance. Broome faces one count of possession of meth.
Both men were taken into custody without incident just before three o'clock Tuesday afternoon (January 1) at a hotel on 13th Avenue Drive N.W. in Hickory. According to H.P.D.'s arrest reports, Pavkovich was in possession of 376 grams of methamphetamine at the time of his arrest, while Broome was in possession of one gram of meth. They were jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for Pavkovich set at $750,000, secured, while Broome was given a $25,000 secured bond. They will both make first appearances in District Court tomorrow (January 3) in Newton.