Governor Pat McCrory's State of Emergency remains in effect for 25 counties in western North Carolina. The governor gave an update earlier today (Monday, November 14) from the Lake Lure Command Post. While many evacuation orders have been lifted, mandatory evacuations are still in place in Burke, Graham and Rutherford counties. One shelter is open in Henderson County with three occupants.
The governor said officials will use more roads and creeks as natural containment barriers to fight fires over the coming days. In addition to nearly 1,600 firefighters from North Carolina and other states, 100 engines are being used to combat the wildfires. In support of the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Emergency Management's Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team has deployed a N.C. National Guard Blackhawk helicopter to be on standby, along with local rescue technicians to perform any rescues necessary from wildfire fighting operations.
Fires have closed many state parks, sections of the Appalachian Trail and roads throughout the region. The Tellico Fire in Macon and Swain counties has closed a 10-mile section of US 19/74 between NC 129 and NC 28. The Party Rock fire near Lake Lure and Chimney Rock has closed a 7-mile stretch of US 64/74A and NC 9. The N.C. Department of Transportation has set up detours around closed roads. For more information on road closures, click here.
Governor McCrory said that among the eight major wildfires still burning in North Carolina, the Party Rock fire in Rutherford County is considered the No. 2 priority fire in the nation and has caused 1,000 people to be evacuated. Details on the major fires burning are found below:
Chestnut Knob – Burke County:
Approximately 2,850 acres burned – 15% contained
120 firefighters on scene
Tellico Fire – Macon/Swain counties:
Approximately 13,700 acres burned to date – 33% contained
190 firefighters on scene
Party Rock – Rutherford County:
Approximately 2,450 acres burned – 15% contained
376 firefighters on scene
Boteler – Clay County:
Approximately 8,695 acres burned – 23% contained
351 firefighters on scene
Dicks Creek – Jackson County:
Approximately 730 acres burned – 92% contained
51 firefighters on scene
Knob – Macon County:
Approximately 1,130 acres burned – 90% contained
27 firefighters on scene
Maple Springs & Old Roughy – Graham County:
Maple Springs: approximately 7,177 acres burned – 15% contained
Old Roughy: approximately 657 acres burned - 60% contained
410 firefighters on scene
Muskrat Valley- Macon County:
Approximately 103 acres burned
50 firefighters on scene
Communities throughout the Catawba River Basin are asking customers to conserve water due to decreasing stream flows, groundwater levels and lake storage levels throughout the basin.
The City of Hickory, in cooperation with other major water suppliers along the Catawba River and Duke Energy, participates in a joint management effort to properly manage the water resources available within the Catawba River Basin. This group has worked cooperatively over the past fourteen years to develop the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP) which the water suppliers and Duke Energy use to manage water resources throughout the Basin.
Interim City Manager Andrea Surratt of the City of Hickory is declaring a Stage 1 LIP condition in conformance with the City of Hickory Water Shortage Response Plan due to decreasing stream flows, lower ground water table elevation and decreased Lake Storage levels. These conditions are due to the lack of rain the Basin experienced during the last half of June through October and hotter temperatures during those same months leading to seasonal elevated evaporation from the Lakes. Stream flow, ground water table and Lake Storage level data is monitored closely and the Catawba River Drought Management Advisory Group evaluates this data monthly during times of drought. On November 1, 2016 this data reflected conditions meeting the requirements of a Stage 1 LIP declaration.
Stage 1 LIP is the first stage of voluntary water use conservation. The goal of this stage is to reduce water use by three to five percent. Measures to achieve this goal could include:
Water outdoors with the intention of applying no more than one-inch per week to grasses and shrubs.
Turn water off while brushing teeth or washing face.
Repair leaking faucets and/or toilets.
Customers are asked to meet and continue the three to five percent water use reduction goal until further notice.
Partner governmental and non-profit systems of the City of Hickory affected by this Stage 1 LIP declaration include the Cities of Conover and Claremont, Towns of Brookford, Catawba, Long View and Maiden, portions of Alexander and Catawba Counties, Icard Township Water Corporation and all customers receiving a bill directly from Hickory.
If customers would like additional measures or have any questions, please do not hesitate contacting your local water provider. Customers may also get water use conservation tips from the Water Management Groups website at www.catawbawatreewmg.org.
A 17-year-old girl who had been reported missing has been located and is safe. She returned to her Oakwood Circle home over the weekend.
Tamara Louise Stansford, who had been last seen at her residence on November 2, was removed from NCIC as a missing person.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that they would like to extend their thanks to everyone for their help in bringing this to a safe conclusion.
23-year-old Kristina Kalene Lane McQuirt of 8th Avenue S.W. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police just before 5 p.m. Saturday (November 12) on one felony count each of breaking & entering, larceny after breaking & entering and possession of a schedule IV controlled substance.
Loss Prevention at the Walmart store on Highway 70 S.E. stopped McQuirt past the last point of sale after she allegedly placed a PowerLine car cord adapter in her pocket and didn’t pay for it. The adapter was valued at $15. Two Alprazolam pills were found in the suspect’s wallet.
McQuirt had previously been banned from Walmart. She was taken into custody without incident and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $10,000. A District Court appearance was scheduled today (November 14) in Newton.
62-year-old David William Pope of Camp Meeting Road in Connelly Springs was arrested Sunday (November 13) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Pope was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court date was scheduled for today (Monday, November 14).
34-year-old Joshua Allen Bentley of Mountain View Road in Wilkesboro was arrested by Hickory Police at about 2:25 Sunday afternoon (November 13) on one felony count each of breaking & entering and larceny after breaking & entering, as well as misdemeanor larceny and second-degree trespass. He was also charged as an habitual felon.
He was arrested in connection to a shoplifting incident at the Walmart store on Highway 70 S.E. in Hickory. Bently allegedly took a number of items past the last point of sale without paying. Those items included Axe body spray, a hamper, Tide laundry detergent pods, ten pair of men’s underwear, antifreeze, motor oil, a gift bag and 12-gauge shotgun ammunition, all with a combined value of $531.
Bentley had been previously banned from Walmart and also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He was accompanied by a female suspect who fled the scene and was not apprehended.
Following his arrest, Bentley was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $12,000, secured. District Court appearances were scheduled for today and for December 30.
30-year-old Javario Davon Robinson of 8th Avenue Drive S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police early Saturday morning (November 12) on one felony count of failure to appear.
The arrest comes in connection to an incident on December 18 of last year when Robinson was spotted on Hickory Housing Authority property on the 900 block of 2nd Street S.W. He had previously been banned from the property.
As Officers approached the suspect, he allegedly threw a baggie containing a white rock substance to the ground. The substance was identified as 0.1 grams of crack cocaine. Robinson was initially arrested at that time.
He was taken into custody without incident at about 1:15 a.m. Saturday at Frye Regional Medical Center. Robinson was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $25,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled today (November 14) in Newton.
38-year-old Eric Tait Robertson was arrested Sunday (November 13) by authorities in Burke County. He's charged with felony assault by strangulation. Robertson was placed in jail in Morganton where bond was set at $6,500 secured. A court date is set for January 31.
City of Morganton Water Resources workers planned to shut off water service to a section of West Fleming Drive today (Monday, November 14). They'd planned the shutoff for 9 a.m. to repair a water line break.
Water will be shut off on West Fleming Drive from Cox Street to Rand Street. About 40 customers will be affected including residents and businesses in the area. Workers plan to have water service restored by 5 p.m. today barring any unforeseen problems. For more information, call the Water Resources Department at 828-438-5276.
33-year-old Jason Francis McGee of Sparks Drive in Hudson was arrested Friday (November 11) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with safecracking, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and discharging a firearm into occupied property. McGee was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $30,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, November 14).
53-year-old Marty Lee Baker of Lick Mountain Drive in Hudson was arrested Friday (November 11) by Caldwell County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with possession of methamphetamine. Baker was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, November 14).
35-year-old Scott Wesley McClain of Lee Moore Road in Maiden was arrested Sunday (November 13) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with two counts of conspire to sell or deliver schedule II controlled substance, and single counts of possession of methamphetamine and resisting a public officer. McClain was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $32,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, November 14).
Hickory City Council Meets in regular session Tuesday night (November 15).
Among the items on the agenda is the reaffirmation and ratification of second readings. They include the approval of the Community Relations Council's Fall 2016 grant recommendations. The approval to award the contract to Buckeye Bridge LLC for the construction of the Random Woods Sewer Project. The approval of a change order for engineering services for sanitary sewer in multiple subdivisions. And a budget revision. All of these items were approved unanimously on first reading.
Among the items on the consent agenda Tuesday is the approval of a resolution for a Building Reuse Grant Application for Project Little Rock for the former Regal Manufacturing Building on 3rd Avenue SE. Also on the consent agenda is the Citizens' Advisory Committee recommendations for assistance through the City of Hickory's housing programs.
Under new business, Hickory City Council will vote on the acceptance of the bid and award of the contract with Hickory Sand Company totaling more than $4.5 million for sanitary sewer improvements for the Central Business District Rehabilitation Project.
Tuesday's Hickory City Council meeting gets underway at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Julian G. Whitener Municipal Building at 76 North Center Street in Hickory.
32-year-old Mario Javon Johnson of Stanley was arrested last Thursday (November 10) by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with one felony count each of trafficking opiates by possession, possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance, possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule IV controlled substance, and maintaining a dwelling for controlled substance. Johnson was also charged with one misdemeanor count each of simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The arrest came after Narcotics Investigators concluded a three month long investigation into drug activity at a residence near the 6900 block of Old Plank Road in Stanley. With assistance from Charlie District patrol deputies and CID detectives, Narcotics investigators executed a search warrant for the residence.
According to Narcotics investigators, several types of drugs were believed to have been being sold at the residence including cocaine and marijuana. Investigators seized cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and a trafficking amount of opioid based pills from the residence on Thursday.
Johnson's bond was set at $75,000 secured. He was scheduled to appear in District Court today (Monday, November 14).
Wildfires continue to burn in western North Carolina with the smell of smoke in the air for miles around. The fire at South Mountains State Park in Burke County reportedly grew to more than 3,000 acres by midday Sunday. The smoke was noticeable across the Greater Hickory Metro area, causing hazy conditions in multiple counties.
There was some progress reported in fighting wildfires Sunday, according the National Forest Service. They're reporting that higher humidity assisted teams in their efforts to suppress some of the fires.
By midday Sunday, the Boteler Fire, located east of Hayesville, was at 8,180 acres and was 23 percent contained. Clay County evacuations associated with that fire were lifted on Sunday.
The Tellico Fire, three miles south of Almond, was at 9,965 acres and 33 percent contained on Sunday afternoon. It closed a ten mile section of U.S. 19/74 in the Nantahala Gorge because of rocks and debris falling onto the roadway, the Forest Service said in a release. The closure starts at N.C. 129 on the south end and N.C. 28 to the north. The N.C. Department of Transportation said that the road will be closed to all traffic until officials determine it is safe for residents and visitors. There is a detour in place.
According to the North Carolina Forest Service, The Party Rock Fire, near Lake Lure, remained at 2,883 acres in size and was 15 percent contained, as of late Sunday afternoon. The North Carolina Forest Service and U.S. Forest Service websites have been providing daily updates.
The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation announced today (November 11) that several state parks in western North Carolina have been closed to allow additional staff and resources to be deployed to fight wildfires in South Mountains State Park and in and around Chimney Rock State Park.
In addition to those parks, where fires have burned approximately 1,000 acres in both locations, the division has closed the New River, Gorges, Elk Knob, Lake James and Mount Mitchell state parks and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Citizens planning to visit other state parks in the western part of the state are advised to check the division's web site at www.ncparks.gov before making the trip. The parks will reopen when the fires are contained or extinguished and staff are able to return to their assigned parks. A handful of staff will remain on duty in the closed parks for security purposes.
The division has also expanded its burning ban on all fire, including charcoal, to all parks west of Interstate 95.
A grand opening and ribbon cutting will be held tomorrow (Saturday, November 12) for Plush Kutz at 523 Highway 70 S.W. in Hickory. David Williams is Plush Kutz’ owner-operator.
The ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday. Food and drinks will be served until 3 p.m., free of charge. Prizes will be given away throughout the day. Everyone who comes by will be entered into a drawing for free haircuts for a year.
The new Plush Kutz facility replaces the previous location on South Center Street. For more information, call Mr. Williams at 828-322-9825.
54-year-old Michael Curtis Hallyburton was arrested Thursday (November 10) by authorities in Burke County. He's charged with felony non-forced breaking and entering. Hallyburton was placed in jail in Morganton under $10,000 secured bond. A court date is set for December 12.
31-year-old Jeremiah Aaron Wylie of Lenoir was arrested Thursday (November 10) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony larceny of a motor vehicle. Wylie was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $100,000 secured bond. A District Court date is set for next Monday (November 14).
34-year-old Mitchell Dewayne Hines of Statesville will spend at least four years in prison following a guilty plea earlier this week. Hines pleaded guilty to felony larceny and admitted his status as a habitual felon during Catawba County Superior Court on Tuesday (November 8).
The Honorable Gregory R. Hayes, Superior Court Judge from Catawba County, issued a prison term of four to six years for Hines following his guilty plea. His sentence was enhanced by habitual felon status stemming from prior felony convictions in Iredell County for breaking or entering (March 2003), possession of stolen goods (October 2003) and larceny after breaking or entering (September 2009).
The defendant entered the Jewelry Exchange in Hickory with his girlfriend on February 25, 2016, and asked to see some diamonds. When the diamonds were displayed, Hines grabbed them and ran out of the store.
Video surveillance, an anonymous tip and an ankle monitor on the defendant helped investigators apprehend him less than a week later, and he confessed to the crime.
John Patterson investigated the case for Hickory Police Department. Kyle Smith handled prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.