The N.C. Department of Transportation will help make Thanksgiving trips a little smoother by suspending most road construction activities on major routes across the state.
Most construction work that would require a lane or road closure along all interstates and N.C. and U.S. routes will be suspended from 6 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, November 23), until midnight, Sunday (November 27). Most road or lane closures that are remaining in place for the holiday weekend are in central and eastern North Carolina, with the exception of lane closures on N.C. 294 in Cherokee County and U.S. 74 in Jackson County.
Travelers also need to be aware that more than 200 local roads in the eastern part of the state are closed or have lane closures due to damage from Hurricane Matthew. Remember here in western North Carolina, several forest fires could affect travel as smoky conditions may reduce visibility. Shifting fires and smoke could cause a road to be closed on short notice for safety reasons.
Drivers can get the latest update on travel conditions at ncdot.gov.
AAA Carolinas projects that 2 million Carolinians will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, with just under 1.4 million North Carolinians and 670,000 South Carolinians traveling. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as tomorrow (Wednesday November 23) to Sunday (November 27).
This year's increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. North Carolina's average price of gas is currently at $2.13 a gallon and South Carolina's sits at $1.99 a gallon, both under the national average of $2.14. Last year, North Carolina's average was $2.10 and South Carolina's was $1.91.
Driving remains most popular mode of travel for Thanksgiving. The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive this Thanksgiving. The 1.2 million North Carolinians and over 600,000 South Carolinians planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent, with 46,000 North Carolinians and 46,000 South Carolinians flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase only slightly this Thanksgiving, to 40,000 North Carolinians and 20,000 South Carolinians.
Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous holidays for motorists due to its five-day length and the heavy traffic caused by the high number of travelers on the road. Last year, the number of deaths on North Carolina highways during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend reached 22 people, while South Carolina highways saw nine traffic fatalities.
A fugitive wanted on a charge from Georgia was arrested in Catawba County. 19-year-old Jonathan Anthony Gordon, who is listed as a homeless person from Newton, was arrested Monday (November 21) by Newton Police Officers. He's charged on a warrant from Gwinnett County, Georgia, with probation violation. Gordon was on probation for burglary.
Following Monday's arrest, Gordon was locked up in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $50,000 bond. He was scheduled to appear in District Court in Newton today (Tuesday, November 22).
44-year-old Parrish DeWayne Burton of Burris Road in Conover was arrested Monday (November 21) by Hickory Police Officers. He's charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense. Burton was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $75,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Tuesday, November 22).
29-year-old Brian Allen Sipe of Bumgarner Lane in Taylorsville was arrested Friday (November 18) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with solicitation of a child by computer or electronic device to commit an unlawful sex act and indecent liberties with a child.
On Friday, the Burke County Sheriff`s Office Criminal Investigation Division engaged in an undercover operation using social media. During the investigation, the identity of a suspect was discovered to be Brian Allen Sipe. Sipe traveled to a predetermined location for what he thought was to meet with a minor to perform sex acts. However, when he arrived he was taken into custody without incident by the online undercover investigator.
Sipe's bond was set at $25,000 secured, he did post bond following his arrest and is not currently being held in jail. A first court appearance for Sipe was scheduled for Monday (November 21).
The wildfire burning at South Mountains State Park in Burke County is now reported to be 50% contained. According to the latest update, despite continued low humidity, the Chestnut Knob fire did not expand much at all on Monday (November 21). It is estimated at 6,433 acres, only a slight increase from the previous day.
The Florida Green Team, which is in charge of fighting the fire at South Mountains State Park, was given approval by their agency to extend their assignment from 14 to 21 days. Crews are beginning to assess potential damage to trail areas and stream crossings. There are 352 personnel fighting the Chestnut Knob wildfire, 33 engines and seven dozers are being used.
29-year-old Michael Kayleeon McBryde and 34-year-old Sherry Devon McGill, both of the same address on 1st Street S.W. in Hickory, were arrested by Hickory Police just before 10 p.m. Saturday (November 19). They were each charged with one felony count of possession of cocaine.
They were arrested in connection to an incident on July 29 of this year as Officers on foot patrol at Blue Ridge Heights on the 900 block of 1st Street S.W. observed foot traffic coming and going from a residence in the apartment complex. As Officers approached the residence, they smelled marijuana.
McGill was listed as the tenant and McBryde was an additional resident at the time. A search warrant was executed, leading to the discovery of 0.3 grams of cocaine, 0.1 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
A prosecution summary was submitted, leading to the arrests Saturday. McBryde was jailed under a $7,500 secured bond. McGill was processed and released under a $5,000 unsecured bond. Both suspects were scheduled to appear in Superior Court today (November 21) in Newton.
A Special Meeting of Hickory City Council will be held Tuesday (November 22) at 5 p.m. at the Julian G. Whitener Municipal Building, in City Council Chambers at 76 North Center Street in Hickory.
The purpose of the Special Meeting is to discuss the North Carolina Department of Transportation Construction Agreement for the Repairs of the Sinkhole located at the Intersection of Highway US 70 and 7th Street SE.
43-year-old Scottie Eugene Hopkins of Vermillion Lane in Statesville was arrested today (Monday, November 21) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Hopkins was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $25,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for January 23.
The city of Newton is currently developing a pedestrian plan to enhance walking conditions and to improve connectivity and safety throughout the city. In addition to taking an online survey at www.newtonnc.gov/walk, you are invited to learn more about the planning process and share your ideas on the future of walking in Newton during meetings on December 5 and 6.
You can join city officials from 4:30-6 p.m. Monday, December 5, for a short walk around Downtown Newton to discuss the key elements of a walkable Newton. We'll meet at Newton City Hall, circle downtown, and then return to City Hall.
The next day, from 4:30-6 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6, you can attend an open house at City Hall to discuss and review recommendations for improving the pedestrian environment through infrastructure projects, programming, and policy. Attendees are welcome to stay for the City Council meeting at 7 p.m. to hear a presentation on the status of the Newton Pedestrian Plan. Newton City Hall is located at 401 North Main Ave.
The purpose of the Newton Pedestrian Plan is to improve all aspects of the pedestrian experience and increase pedestrian activity throughout the city. It will address how to make the city's streets safe for Newton’s youngest and oldest pedestrians, how to improve the connections between neighborhoods, and how an improved pedestrian environment can create a healthier and more livable city. Your input will help build a better understanding of community needs and priorities.
If you have any questions, please email Newton Planning Director Randy Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
36-year-old Dequelle Kushawn Williamson of 9th Avenue S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 7:40 Sunday evening (November 20) on one felony count of possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine and one misdemeanor count of resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.
He was arrested after Police received information regarding illegal narcotics activity at the Valley Creek Apartments on 7th Avenue S.W. Officers went to the residence in question where they found five occupants. During a consent search, Williamson allegedly attempted to swallow a baggie that contained 2.2 grams of cocaine.
Two subjects were issued citations for possession of marijuana up to half an ounce. The other two subjects present were not charged or cited.
Williamson was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $15,000, secured. An appearance in District Court was scheduled today (November 21) in Newton.
39-year-old Rodney Lamont Pounds of 2nd Street S.W. in Hickory was arrested shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday (November 19) on one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.
He was arrested after Police responded to a possible stabbing at an address on 2nd Street S.W. in Hickory. Officers arrived to find the victim, a 35-year-old black male from Hickory, walking east across 2nd Street S.W. E.M.S. transported the victim to Frye Regional Medical Center.
A knife was found at another nearby residence on 2nd Street S.W. Through the course of the investigation, Officers learned that the victim was injured after an argument between Rodney Pounds and the victim escalated to the point of physical violence.
Pounds was arrested without incident at his residence. He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $20,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled today (November 21) in Newton.
In line with their strategic plan initiative, Catawba County Commissioners joined municipal and business leaders for a tour of local business parks last Thursday (November 18) as part of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) competitiveness assessment of Catawba County.
The tour was one of two coordinated by the EDC and its Committee of 100 to help assess the County’s current and future economic development potential for recruiting businesses and workers to the County.
The first tour, which took place earlier this month, visited business parks in Rock Hill, S.C., Gastonia, N.C., and Lincoln County, N.C., to view what area counties are offering in the competitive economic development marketplace.
Last Thursday's tour visited several sites with development potential inside Catawba County, including locations in Catawba, Claremont, Conover, Hickory, Maiden, and Newton. Following presentation of the assessment’s findings, the EDC will work with the County Commissioners, municipal leaders and other partners to identify specific action steps that can be taken to achieve local economic development goals.
More information about the EDC’s initiatives can be found on its website, www.catawbaedc.org.
30-year-old Justin Lee Calloway of Moss Lane in Granite Falls was arrested Sunday (November 20) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felony counts of identity theft and obtaining property by false pretense. Calloway was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $2,500 secured bond. No court date was listed.
City of Morganton Water Resources workers planned to shut off water to Park Street at 9 a.m. today (Monday, November 21), to repair a break on a six-inch water line. Approximately 25 customers will be affected on Park Street and the 400 Block of North Street. Workers expect to have the line repaired by 1 p.m., barring any unforeseen problems. For more information, call the Water Resources Department 828-438-5276.
51-year-old Leonard Everett Wilcox of Rattlesnake Lane in Lenoir was arrested Saturday (November 19) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with possession of methamphetamine and assault on a female. Wilcox was locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $2,500 secured bond on the meth charge and no bond on the assault charge. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today.
52-year-old Donald Joseph Gaul and 46-year-old Sandra Lynn Gaul, both of the same Clarence Beam Road, Lincolnton, address were arrested by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers Friday (November 18). They're each charged with two felony counts apiece of sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance, possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance, and maintaining a dwelling for controlled substances. 45-year-old William Elton Patterson, who lists a different address on Clarence Beam Road, was charged Friday with one felony count of possession of schedule II controlled substance and one misdemeanor count each of simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The arrests came as a result of a six month long undercover operation and search warrant at a residence near the 1300 block of Clarence Beam Road. Narcotics detectives say they received multiple complaints about drug activity, including drug sales, over the past six months at two different residences.
Undercover detectives made multiple purchases of methamphetamine from individuals frequenting and living at both locations.
Investigators also used surveillance techniques to monitor the activity and developed information leading to the search of the residence. Detectives seized methamphetamine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia during the operation.
Donald Gaul received a $30,000 secured bond. Sandra Gaul received a $15,000 secured bond. She was already in jail on multiple unrelated charges and now has a total bond of $106,000 secured. Patterson received a $20,000 secured bond. All three suspects were scheduled to appear in District Court today (Monday, November 21).
The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are likely.
The Catawba County Board of Commissioners meets in regular session tonight (Monday, November 21).
There are two public hearings on tonight's agenda. One is to discuss a rezoning request of 2.3 acres from R-40 Residential to RC Rural Commercial District. The property is on Bethany Church Road in the Balls Creek Small Area Planning District. The other public hearing is to discuss a request to rezone 1.69 acres from R-40 Residential to Highway Commercial, or HC District. That property is on Smyre Farm Road in the Balls Creek Small Area Planning District.
In addition tonight, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners will hear an update on the water and sewer strategic planning from Utilities and Engineering Director Barry Edwards. There will also be a presentation related to a proclamation for Farm City Week, which is November 21-28.
Commissioners will also vote on appointments and on the consent agenda, which contains five items including the approval of the 2017 Board of Commissioners Meeting Schedule. Tonight's Catawba County Board of Commissioners meeting gets underway at 7:00 in the Robert E. Hibbitts Meeting Room at the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.
34-year-old Charlene Ann Dockery of Trout Pond Road in Claremont was arrested Sunday (November 20) by Conover Police Officers. She's charged with three felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense, two felony counts of possession of stolen goods, and one felony count apiece of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, and attempt to obtain property by false pretense. Dockery is also charged with misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana up to one-half ounce.
Dockery was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $32,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, November 21) in Newton.
35-year-old Ashley Nicole Starnes of Crown Court in Lenoir was arrested Friday (November 18) by Lenoir Police Officers. She's charged with felony possession of methamphetamine. Starnes was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $1,500 secured bond. A Superior Court date is set for January 9.