52-year-old William Alan Vanderwesten of Plateau Road in Newton was arrested today (Tuesday, September 6) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, possession of schedule II controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Vanderwesten was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $75,000 bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday (September 7).
A suspect who had been on the Burke County Sheriff's Office Most Wanted List has been arrested. 26-year-old Jesse Joe Potter of Bryant Road in Drexel was arrested last Thursday (September 1). Potter had been on the Most Wanted List since August 23.
Potter is currently charged with failure to appear. Additional charges are pending. He was wanted for felony counts of breaking and entering, financial card theft, and possession of stolen goods. He was also wanted on unspecified felony drug charges. It was expected that more information on the arrest would be released today (Tuesday, September 6).
Potter was placed in jail in Morganton under $30,000 secured bond. A court date is set for September 26.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit charged five people last week with drug related offenses. All five arrests were the result of different investigations. The investigations consisted of surveillance and undercover operations, assisting NC Probation and Parole, and citizen complaints.
Two of the narcotics investigations concluded last week after detectives assisted NC Probation and Parole Officers and also followed up on a citizen complaint. On Monday August 29, 2016 detectives seized a trafficking amount of opioid based pills from a subject while assisting the NC Probation and Parole at a residence near the 1900 block of Leonard’s Fork Church Road. The subject resisted arrest by Probation Officers before being taken into custody for a probation violation. During a search of his clothing officers found a trafficking amount of pain pills.
On Friday (September 2) narcotics detectives followed up on a citizen complaint about marijuana being grown at a residence near the 3500 block Navajo Drive in Maiden (Lincoln County). Narcotics detectives searched the residence where they located a small marijuana grow operation inside a bathroom and bedroom at the residence. Detectives seized three marijuana plants at full maturation and being prepared for harvest.
The other three subjects charged had outstanding warrants for their arrest from investigations occurring earlier this summer. One suspect was located in Mecklenburg County, another by Lincolnton Police Department Patrol Officers, and one was arrested after a tip led Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Adam District Patrol Deputies to a residence where he was hiding. All three suspects had been entered NCIC as wanted and attempting to avoid arrest after narcotics detectives initially looked for them.
30-year-old Brandon Scott Houser of Leonard’s Fork Church Road in Crouse was charged with one felony count of Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Possession. He was also charged with one misdemeanor count of Possession Schedule IV Controlled Substance and Resisting a Public Officer. He received a $36,500 secured bond.
40-year-old Elaine Maria Garber of Navajo Drive in Maiden was charged with one felony each of Manufacturing Marijuana and Possession with Intent to Manufacture, Sell, Or Deliver Marijuana. She was also charged with one misdemeanor count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. She received a $15,000 secured bond.
30-year-old Jonathan Craig Smith, Jr. of Old Lowesville Road in Stanley was charged with one felony count of Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Possession. He received a $10,500 secured bond.
43-year-old Robert Wayne Ellis of South Industrial Park Road in Lincolnton was charged with one felony count each of Sell and Deliver Counterfeit Controlled Substance and Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver Counterfeit Controlled Substance. He was also served with outstanding misdemeanor probation violation and a warrant for Communicating Threats. He received a $7,250 secured bond.
26-year-old Christian James Stewart of West Highway 27 in Vale was charged with one felony count of Possession Schedule II Controlled Substance and one misdemeanor count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He received a $5,500 secured bond.
Houser and Garber had District Court appearances scheduled for today. Smith, Ellis, and Stewart are scheduled to appear in District Court on September 19.
45-year-old Jerry Shayne Elrod of Caldwell Place in Lenoir was arrested Sunday (September 4) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver schedule II controlled substance and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling, or place to keep controlled substance. Elrod was also charged with two counts of failure to appear, misdemeanor larceny, and misdemeanor possession of stolen property. He was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $24,500 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Tuesday, September 6).
Catawba County Commissioners meet today (Tuesday, September 6) in regular session. The meeting was moved to today due to the Labor Day holiday yesterday (Monday, September 5). The meeting will be back at it's normal location at the 1924 Courthouse, the last meeting was moved due to the Soldiers Reunion activities in Newton.
Among the items on today's agenda, there are two items Commissioners will be voting on the consent agenda, the GKN Driveline Agreement Amendment along with the Map Review Officer Designation.
Under departmental reports today, commissioners will hear a presentation on the award planning and design contract for Mountain Creek Park. This will be presented by Planning and Parks Director Jacky Eubanks, Gary Wirth of Wirth and Associates, and Purchasing Manager Debbie Anderson. Also under departmental reports, commissioners will hear a vision and strategic planning process/economic and demographic trends update. This will be presented by county manager Mick Berry and Economic Development Corporation President Scott Millar.
Under the Managers Report at tomorrows meeting, commissioners will discuss the replacement of the public information officer and the new classification of communications and marketing director.
Today’s Catawba County Board of Commissioners meeting gets underway at 9:30 a.m. in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
Hickory City Council will be meeting in regular session tonight. The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners meeting normally held the first Monday of the month has been moved due to the Labor Day Holiday, Caldwell Commissioners will meet next Monday, September 12, at 6 p.m. in Lenoir.
43-year-old Landon Arthur Haynes of Pax Hill Road in Lenoir was arrested Monday (September 5) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Haynes was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Tuesday, September 6).
41-year-old James William Brown of East Maiden Road in Maiden was arrested Saturday (September 3) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with possession of methamphetamine, simple possession of schedule II controlled substance, possession of open container/consuming alcohol in a passenger area, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Brown was locked up in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $10,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Tuesday, September 6).
25-year-old Phillip Voltz of 8th Avenue Drive SW in Hickory was arrested Friday (September 2) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with first degree sexual offense, assault by strangulation, intimidating a witness, and assault inflicting serious injury. Following the arrest, Voltz was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under no bond. No court date was listed.
Attorney General Roy Cooper warns consumers to be on the lookout for scams that could follow Hurricane Hermine, which moved up the east coast late last week. Hermine, which was at times a Tropical Storm and at times packed Hurricane-force winds, hit the North Carolina coast late last week into the start of the Labor Day weekend.
The Attorney General said in a news release from the North Carolina Department of Justice that the majority of North Carolina contractors, tree removal companies and car repair shops are reputable businesses, and many local merchants pitch in to help their communities recover from severe weather. But some unscrupulous scammers travel to areas that have been hit by natural disasters to take advantage of consumers.
Last Thursday (September 1), Cooper put consumers and businesses on notice that North Carolina’s price gouging law barring charging excessive prices in a time of disaster was in effect in 33 eastern counties. He also shared advice for vacationers whose Labor Day plans may be affected by the storm.
Cooper urged North Carolina residents to report scams and frauds to his office by calling toll-free 1-877-5-NO-SCAM within the state or by filing a consumer complaint at ncdoj.gov.
To avoid scams that follow storms:
Put safety first. If you need to evacuate on short notice, for example due to flooding, don’t risk your safety by gathering your personal items. After the storm has passed, do not attempt to move downed power lines or attempt dangerous repairs on your own.
Take important financial documents with you if you evacuate, including insurance policies, mortgage documents, an inventory of the contents of your home, and any bills to pay. Also take your insurance agent’s phone number and the number for the Consumer Protection hotline, 1-877-5-NO-SCAM, with you.
If the storm damages your property, contact your insurance company. Some insurance companies require an adjuster’s approval before work can be done. Take pictures and videos of the damage, if possible. Cover holes in your roof or walls with a tarp to prevent additional damage if you can do so safely.
Don’t pay for work up front. Inspect the work and make sure you’re satisfied before you pay. A small down payment may be required for some projects, but don’t pay anything without getting a written contract. Avoid paying with cash; use a check or a credit card instead.
Beware of any contractor who tries to rush you or comes to your home to solicit work. If an offer is only good now or never, find someone else to do the work. Seek recommendations from friends, neighbors, co-workers and others who have had work done on their homes.
Get three written estimates, if possible, and compare bids. Check credentials and contact the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau to learn about any complaints against the contractor. Ask to get the contractor’s certificate of insurance directly from their insurance company, not from the contractor. Before work begins, get a written contract detailing all work to be performed, costs and a projected completion date.
For car repairs, shop around and compare written estimates. On major jobs, get a second opinion. If the mechanic recommends replacing parts, ask for the old parts back. You may get credit on some parts if the mechanic wants to keep them.
Beware of charity scams that use disasters to make phony pleas for donations sound legitimate. If a caller refuses to answer your questions about the charity, offers to come to pick up a donation in person or calls you and asks for a credit card, bank account or Social Security number, it may be a scam. To report telemarketing fraud, call the Attorney General’s Office. To check up on a charity, call the Secretary of State’s office toll‑free at (888) 830‑4989.
Visit ncdoj.gov to file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division or to get tips on avoiding scams and bad business deals.
For tips on preparing for severe weather, visit readync.org.
26-year-old Michael Lamar Brice of 15th Street S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police shortly before midnight Thursday (September 1) on one felony count of possession of cocaine and one misdemeanor count of resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer. He was arrested on warrants from the Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office. Those warrants were issued on August 16.
Brice was taken into custody without incident at his residence. He was processed at H.P.D. headquarters and then released under a $3,500 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled Friday (September 2) in Newton.
At the same time, 39-year-old Chasity Dawn Lowman, from the same address on 15th Street S.E. in Hickory, was also arrested by Hickory Police. She was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant from Lincoln County for failure to appear in court. Lowman was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $15,000 secured bond. She has since been released. An appearance in Superior Court in Lincolnton was scheduled for Tuesday (September 6).
Today, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10) announced a combined $277,447 in U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants to a pair of local fire departments in the Tenth Congressional District. The grants will go to the Claremont Fire Department and the City of Newton Fire Department.
Claremont’s grant is for $23,810. The department will use the grant to replace older turnout gear and other personal protective equipment. Newton’s grant totals $253,637. According to Newton Fire Chief Kevin Yoder, the grant will be used to purchase 45 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air packs.
The grants come in the twelfth round of this year’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG), which aims to help Firefighters and first responders throughout the country. Local departments applied for the grants from the program, which is administered by the Grant Programs Directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.
Claremont and Newton are two of five 10th District departments to receive AFG funding thus far during the 2015 cycle. A total of $573,521 in AFG funds has been awarded among those departments. Grants will continue to be announced in weekly rounds throughout the coming months.
According to school accountability data released Thursday (September 1), Catawba County Schools’ students continued to make gains on most measures of student learning, with approximately 89 percent of schools earning grades of C or better in the third year of the state’s A-F grading system. 44.4 percent of Catawba County's 27 eligible schools earned a school rating of B with Challenger Early College earning an A+NG designation, indicating an A school with no significant achievement and/or graduation gaps.
Elementary and middle schools' performance grades are based only on test scores in reading and math (grades 3-8), science (grades 5 and 8) and Math I (if applicable). High school grades are based on results from end-of-course exams in English II and Math I in addition to Biology and include other performance indicators as well. The other indicators are the percentage of 11th graders meeting the UNC System’s minimum admission requirement of a composite score of 17 on the ACT college readiness exam, the cohort graduation rate, the percentage of students taking and passing Math III and the percentage of graduates who are Career and Technical Education concentrators who earn a Silver Certificate or higher on the ACT WorkKeys assessment. Growth is included for all school performance grades unless it hurts the grade overall.
The district’s four-year high school cohort graduation rate remained steady at 89.7 percent and continues to be above the state average of 85.8 percent. On state exams, the percentage of students proficient in math and science improved overall across elementary and middle grades while high school End-of-Course assessment performance fluctuated slightly. In grades 3-8, student grade-level proficiency in reading remained at 57.8 percent as compared to the state at 56.9 percent. In math, the overall proficiency rate increased to 56.8 percent up from 55.6 percent in 2015. Grade-level proficiency in science, tested in fifth and eighth grades, reached 72.8 percent, an increase of 2.0 percentage points from the previous year. High School performance experienced increases in the measurement of Math Rigor and WorkKeys proficiency. Challenger Early College had a Cohort Graduation Rate of 100 percent.
In terms of growth achieved by schools in the district this past year, twenty-two of the twenty-seven eligible schools (81.5%) met their expected growth performance. Eight of those twenty-two schools exceeded expected growth. Fourteen schools saw an overall increase in their performance composite percentage rates. Elementary schools with the largest increases in proficiency were: Maiden Elementary, up 6.8 percentage points; Murray Elementary, up 6.6 percentage points; and Campbell Elementary, up 6.4 percentage points. At the middle school level, River Bend Middle School’s proficiency climbed 6.8 percentage points while Arndt Middle School’s proficiency increased 6.0 percentage points. Bandys High School’s proficiency climbed 1.2 percentage points.
28-year-old Terry Nikita Johnson of 8th Avenue Circle S.E. in Hickory was arrested at about nine o’clock last night (September 1) on one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The arrest was Johnson’s second in connection to an incident that began when Police responded to a possible B&E at Highland Mini-Storage on Highland Avenue N.E. in Hickory. Officers found several subjects attempting to gain entry using a hammer as their vehicles provided them with a light source. Police learned that the owner had given permission to break off the lock and replace it with a new one. No one was charged in connection to the apparent break-in.
In the course of the investigation, Officers saw a 9mm handgun in the passenger seat where Terry Johnson had been seated. At the time of his initial arrest on July 5, felony drug charges were also filed after Police found a baggie containing 4.1 grams of crack cocaine during a secondary search of Johnson’s person at H.P.D. headquarters. A second suspect was charged when digital scales were found in her purse.
Following his arrest yesterday, Johnson was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $20,000 secured bond. He has since been released. An appearance in Superior Court was set for today in Newton with another Superior Court date on September 19.
23-year-old Ashley Keashea Lineberger of Houston Mill Road in Conover was arrested by Hickory Police just before 11 a.m. yesterday (September 1) on one felony count each of breaking & entering, larceny after breaking & entering and obtaining signatures by false pretense.
Lineberger was arrested after a Loss Prevention Officer at the Walmart store on Highway 70 S.E. watched her bring an empty Walmart bag and an old receipt into the store. The suspect gathered items from store shelves matching those on the receipt. She then took the items and the receipt to customer service for a refund. The items included cotton swabs, lotion, shampoo, bath tablets and feminine hygiene products.
Lineberger was taken into custody without incident at the store and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $25,500 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled today in Newton.
Tiffany Elizabeth McKee and Seiara Nichole Matthews, two 16-year-olds who had been reported as runaways on August 16, have been found and are safe. The two were located in Stanton, Virginia yesterday (September 1). They were in the home of an individual they met on Craig’s List.
Ms. McKee and Ms. Matthews have been returned to Hickory. They were not physically injured.
The Hickory Police Department’s investigation is continuing. No charges are pending at this time.
48-year-old Malcolm Lynn Andrews of Upton Place in Lenoir was arrested Thursday (September 1) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon. Andrews was locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $100,000 secured bond. A Superior Court date is set for October 31.
36-year-old Paul Richard Walton Jr. AKA "Pooh-Pooh" and "Pretty Paul" of East Catawba Street in Lincolnton, was arrested Thursday (September 1) by Lincolnton Police Officers. He's charged with five counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, five counts of selling cocaine, and five counts of delivering cocaine.
On Thursday at approximately 2:30 p.m., detectives and patrol officers with the Lincolnton Police Department and detectives with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office arrested Walton at his residence. The arrest is the result of a three month investigation into Walton and his associates and their illegal drug distribution in the Oaklawn community. The investigation was initiated after the Lincolnton Police Department received several complaints from citizens.
Walton was placed in the Lincoln County Jail under one-million dollars secured bond. He was scheduled to appear in District Court today (Friday, September 2).
The case is still under investigation and more charges and arrests are expected. If anyone has any information about this case or any other narcotics or criminal case, please call the Lincolnton Police Department at (704) 736-8900 or contact the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Crimestoppers at (704) 736-8909.
We have more information on an arrest we first reported on Thursday on WHKY. 27-year-old Colton James Mostacato of 20th Avenue NE in Hickory was arrested Wednesday (August 31) by Hickory Police Officers. He was picked up on warrants out of Burke County charging him with felony indecent liberties with a child, solicitation of a child by electronic device for a sexual act and disseminating obscene material to a minor.
On August 16 the Burke County Sheriff’s Office was contacted in reference to allegations of impropriety with a minor child by Colton James Mostacato. The report alleged that Mostacato had attempted to initiate an illicit affair with a minor child through various social media outlets. A news release from the Burke County Sheriff's Office says during this attempt, Mostacato sent lewd sexually themed materials, solicited the minor for nude photos and tried to arrange a meeting with the minor child for the express purpose of performing sex acts.
The Burke County Sheriff’s Office, working in conjunction with the minor’s family, were able to infiltrate and prevent the incident from escalating further. Mostacato was taken into custody by the Hickory Police Department Wednesday at his place of employment without incident. He was taken before a magistrate and arraigned on his charges, where he received a $50,000.00 secured bond. Mostacato was not listed as an inmate in either Catawba or Burke County as of this morning (Friday, September 2). He was scheduled to appear in District Court in Morganton yesterday (Thursday, September 1), no upcoming court dates are listed.
Chadwick D. Smith has joined the 25th Prosecutorial District as an Assistant District Attorney.
Hired by District Attorney David Learner, Smith was sworn in as the 25th Prosecutorial District’s newest Assistant District Attorney on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, by the Honorable Robert T. Sumner, Superior Court Judge from Gaston County.
He will be working out of the Catawba County office in Newton handling matters in District Court.
Smith has spent 16 years in private practice, working in the Raleigh-Durham area for two years and in Mecklenburg for the last 14.
“We’re very fortunate to have the opportunity to employ a man of Mr. Smith’s ability,” Learner said. “He has significant trial experience that he will bring to bear in this position as Assistant District Attorney.”
Originally from Walnut Cove in Stokes County, Smith received his Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science with a concentration in Government and a minor in U.S. History from Campbell University in 1997. He earned his Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central University in 2000.
Smith and his wife Amy have been married since 1997.
Up to 75 new jobs will be coming to Newton as a result of a North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) Grant.
Temprano Techvestors was recently awarded an RIA grant totaling $253,750 toward a total investment of up to $520,000. Temprano will locate its headquarters in Newton and will renovate an outdated office building into a state-of-the-art facility to support tech sales, marketing, support, and engineering jobs.
The company says they are committed to hiring employees this year and expects to create up to 75 new positions during the next three years. The average wage of the jobs at Temprano will pay 110 percent above the average income per capita in the county. The new positions include technology sales and marketing, software engineering, as well as technology support and implementation roles.
Temprano helps emerging market software companies bring their products to market in North America. To support that effort, Temprano plans to add new, high-tech jobs as part of its expansion. The business was founded by Luke Walling, a longtime Catawba County resident, creator of several successful local startups such as Walling Data Systems, and angel investor.
The building that will house Temprano is located at 2105 Northwest Boulevard. Blackwelder's Furniture originally constructed the building in the 1940s. Walling Development purchased it in 2007. Much of the original structure was demolished and rebuilt to honor its original look, including retaining the original bow trusses and general building profile. Walling Data moved into the space in late 2008 and was acquired by AVG Technologies in 2009. AVG occupied the 8,000-square-foot space until April 2016, when Temprano chose the space for its new endeavor.
For more information about Temprano, visit www.temprano.com.