Catawba County has been awarded a $414,109 grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) to expand Riverbend Park by more than 200 acres and 1,900 feet of Catawba River shoreline, bringing the park’s overall size to approximately 689 acres and 5,200 total feet of shoreline.
Park patrons will be able to access the park’s new property by late summer 2018. Landowner Byron Bean offered 209 acres adjacent to Riverbend Park to the County earlier this year in memory of the late Harriet H. Bean. Mr. Bean and family desired for the land to be used for health, recreation and educational purposes.
Appraised at $1.2 million, the land was sold to the County for $400,000 with the balance of the appraised value considered a donation. The PARTF grant provides for the entire purchase price and associated surveying and legal fees.
The expansion allows for the addition of five to 10 miles of multi-use, natural surface trails to Riverbend’s existing 12-mile trail system, which will wind through the new property’s mature forests, rolling hills, open meadows, and variety of natural habitats that range from riparian corridors to upland forests. The property also provides expansive views of Barrett’s Mountain, the Brushy Mountains, and the Catawba River.
Located next to the Oxford Dam at 6700 Highway 16 North in Conover, Riverbend Park offers environmental, educational, and passive recreation opportunities year-round. One of the largest non-state parks in North Carolina, Riverbend Park is known for trails that can accommodate hikers and mountain bikers, a two-acre fenced dog park, kayak and canoe access to the Catawba River, miles of shoreline and a three-quarter-acre pond for fishing, a 1,000-square foot meeting facility, exceptional bird watching, and a diverse natural habitat.
Since 1997, Catawba County has received nearly $900,000 in PARTF grant funds to support the creation and enhancement of Riverbend Park, as well as the creation of Bakers Mountain Park on 189 acres in the Mountain View area.
Riverbend Park anchors Catawba County’s four-park system, which includes the County’s highest elevation point at Bakers Mountain Park, a second dog park at St. Stephens Park in Hickory, and the soon-to-be-developed Mountain Creek Park on 589 acres in the Sherrills Ford area. Catawba County Parks are open six days a week (except Wednesdays) and on most holidays. For more information about the Catawba County Parks system, visit www.catawbacountync.gov.
31-year-old Preston Sentel Woods of South Derby Avenue in Newton was arrested Monday (September 18) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with being an habitual felon and with fail to report a new address as a sex offender. Woods was placed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under no bond. A Superior Court appearance was scheduled for Monday.
37-year-old Jeremiah Tywon Wiseman of SW Realty Street in Lenoir was arrested Monday (September 18) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. Wiseman was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $75,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for Monday.
Investigators with the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office are looking for a missing person. 25-year-old Caitlin Briana Taylor was last seen around August 7 in the Connelly Springs Road area of Caldwell County. She is a white female, 5'7", 120 pounds. If you know where to find Caitlin, call Detective Minor at 828-759-1554. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 828-758-8300 and you could be eligible for a cash reward.
34-year-old James Andrew Pitts of Old North Road in Lenoir was arrested Saturday (September 16) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felony breaking and entering, misdemeanor counts of larceny and injury to personal property, and failure to appear. Pitts was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $11,000 secured bond. A District Court date is set for November 20.
48-year-old Scott Eugene Dellinger and 27-year-old Randi Dawn Jeune, both of the same Dale Street, Newton, address were arrested Monday (September 18) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. Dellinger is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, Jeune is charged with possession of heroin. Dellinger was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $50,000 bond, Jeune's bond was set at $8,500. They were both scheduled to make District Court appearances today (September 19).
58-year-old Harvey Lee Clemons of Martin Lane in Claremont was arrested by Hickory Police at 7:40 last night (September 17) on one felony count of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Clemons’ arrest comes in connection to a reported armed robbery yesterday. Hickory Police responded to the Save More store on 1st Avenue S.W. The victim told Police that a black male said he had a weapon and demanded cash from the register. The suspect left the business before obtaining any property.
Harvey Lee Clemons, who matched the suspect description, was spotted by Police on the 1500 block of 3rd Avenue S.W. where he was taken into custody without incident. According to H.P.D.’s arrest report, he was armed with “personal weapons” at the time of his arrest.
Clemons was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $20,000, secured. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled today in Newton.
31-year-old Michael Harrison Lowman of Rector Street in Valdese has been arrested by Burke Co. Sheriff's Officers on two counts of second-degree exploitation of a minor and one count of indecent liberties with a child.
On Friday (September 15), the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children contacted the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s (S.B.I.) Computer Crimes Unit regarding a social networking and dating app or website. On the site were images involving what was believed to be a minor child and an adult. The images were of a graphic nature and depicted juveniles in a state of undress.
The S.B.I. contacted the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and representatives of the local Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce. The subsequent investigation led law enforcement to Michael Lowman.
S.B.I. Agents and Burke County Sheriff’s Officers interviewed Lowman and other residents of the Rector Street home. The interviews provided Investigators with probable cause to seize Lowman’s cell phone. Evidence was obtained, including a number of images that were defined as child pornography under North Carolina state law.
A polygraph examination was conducted. Lowman admitted that he had downloaded and uploaded child pornography, and that he had taken immoral, improper or indecent liberties with minor children for the purpose of arousing or gratifying his sexual desire.
Lowman was a teacher at George Hildebrand Elementary School in Connelly Springs. He resigned from Burke County Public Schools and surrendered his teaching license at about nine o’clock this morning. His last day as a teacher in Burke County was Friday.
Lowman was arrested and jailed under a $250,000 secured bond. An appearance in District Court was set for today (September 18).
The investigation is ongoing. Additional charges may be pending.
55-year-old James Ward Moody of Morganton was given an active prison term of 33 to 100 months following his guilty plea to felony secret peeping and second-degree exploitation of a minor during Burke County Superior Court on Tuesday (September 12). The Honorable Robert C. Ervin, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, imposed the sentence for Moody. The defendant also will be required to register as a sex offender.
Officers with Burke County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in reference to the defendant secretly videotaping a 12-year-old girl while she was in the shower. The victim told officers when she got out of the shower a cell phone was set up on a shelf recording her. Moody demanded the victim return his phone to him once she discovered it. He forced her into a bedroom where she hid as she called her father for help.
The video showed Moody setting up the device in the bathroom and repositioning it to capture the victim undressing. A forensic download of Moody’s phone revealed pornographic videos and still images of naked juveniles performing sex acts with adults along with the video of the victim.
Isaac Propst was the lead investigator for the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant District Attorney Michelle Lippert handled prosecution for the State.
A Conover man will serve at least 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of trafficking opium/heroin by possession during Burke County Superior Court last Wednesday (September 13).
24-year-old Devin Andrew Yancey was given an active prison term of 11 to 15 years by the Honorable Robert C. Ervin, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, following his plea. In addition, Judge Ervin assessed a mandatory fine of $50,000 for Yancey.
On April 8, 2016, a vehicle operated by Yancey was stopped for drifting back and forth across the center line by Officer Justin Walker of Morganton Department of Public Safety. While searching Yancey’s person for an arrest on active warrants for other charges, the officer discovered a large plastic bag of assorted pills in the defendant’s pocket. A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up a small pill flask with more assorted pills. Nearly half of the pills turned out to be Oxymorphone, a Schedule II Controlled Substance.
Six months later, in October, Isaac Propst of Burke County Sheriff’s Office came into contact with concerned citizens who said they saw individuals inside a house where the owners were known to be out of town. The officer saw Yancey look out one of the windows and close the blinds quickly. Propst demanded Yancey and another individual come out of the house.
A search turned up a plastic bag and unlabeled bottle of narcotics, both containing whole pills and crushed white powder that tested positive as Oxymorphone. Scott Lanning and Aaron Moore of the Burke County Narcotics Task Force investigated the cases. Assistant District Attorney Lance Sigmon handled prosecution for the State.
18-year-old Ahmad Shaakim Smith of 1st Street NW, 18-year-old Robert Dijuan Nelson Jr. of 10th Avenue Drive SE, and 19-year-old Nicholas Troy Conley of 20th Street NE, all from Hickory were all arrested Sunday (September 17) by Hickory Police Officers. Smith is charged with felony counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver schedule IV controlled substance. Smith is also charged with misdemeanor counts of carrying a concealed gun, possession of drug paraphernalia, and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling, or place to keep controlled substance. Nelson is charged with felony possession of controlled substance, felony probation violation, and two counts of resist, delay, and obstruct an officer, and Conley is charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of possession of controlled substance.
On Sunday (September 17) at approximately 3 a.m., Hickory Police Officers responded to a convenience store on Springs Road NE after receiving a call in reference to a possible impaired driver. Officers found the vehicle in the business parking lot. The driver, Ahmad Smith, was in possession of 2.3 grams of marijuana and eight dosage units of Xanax. Two passengers, Nelson and Conley, were also charged.
Smith was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $25,000 secured bond. Nelon's bond was is $27,500 secured and Conley's bond was set at $1,500 secured. Smith and Conley were scheduled to appear in court today (September 18). Nelson has a court date October 10.
22-year-old Austin Lee Barnette of Kistler Lane in Granite Falls was arrested Sunday (September 17) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering. Barnette was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $100,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (September 18).
37-year-old Michael Stephen Cole of West Shannon Road in Siler City was arrested Sunday (September 17) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felony counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver schedule IV controlled substance and maintain a vehicle or dwelling for controlled substance. Cole is also charged with failure to appear. He was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $200,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (September 18).
26-year-old Jordan Bradford Armstrong of Anderson Mountain Road in Maiden was arrested Saturday (September 16) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged on bills of indictment with two counts of the sale of heroin, and single counts of delivery of heroin and possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver heroin. Armstrong was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $25,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance was scheduled for today (September 18).
Firefighters responded to a house fire in Catawba County Saturday. According to published reports, responders worked for approximately an hour to control the residential fire on Whitener Road Saturday afternoon (September 16).
According to the published reports, a spokesperson from the Propst Crossroads Fire Department said nobody was home at the time of the fire. There were no injuries as a result of the blaze. Multiple fire departments from Catawba County reportedly responded to the fire, in addition to the Union Fire Department from Lincoln County.
The cause of the fire is unknown. The Fire Marshal's Office is investigating.
The superintendent of the Caldwell County Schools has announced he will retire at the end of the school year. Dr. Steve Stone made the announcement at a special called meeting of principals, administrators, and Education Center Staff. Dr. Stone will retire effective June 30, 2018.
June will mark 12 years of service in the Caldwell County School System and 20 years as a superintendent, which ranks Dr. Stone as the second longest tenured superintendent in North Carolina. Prior to coming to Caldwell County, Dr. Stone served four years as superintendent in Edgecombe County and four in Hertford County. June 30 will mark 38 years in public education for Steve Stone.
Stone grew up in Person County in eastern North Carolina. He received his Bachelors Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his Masters Degree from UNC Charlotte, and his Doctorate from NC State. Dr. Stone was selected as 2014 Superintendent of the Year for the Northwest RESA.
The Caldwell County Board of Education will hold a special meeting on September 26 to begin discussion on the hiring of a new superintendent.
Joshua Alan Ruch and Erin Olivia Shell are both wanted by Hickory Police. Ruch was allegedly involved in an attempted robbery at about 8 p.m. Wednesday (September 13) in the parking lot at the Walmart store on Highway 70 S.E. in Hickory. During the robbery, Ruch displayed a handgun and demanded money from the victim.
Ruch is wanted on multiple outstanding warrants for resisting a public officer, two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell & deliver marijuana and two counts of robbery. Police say Ruch is often in the company of Erin Olivia Shell, who is also wanted on a charge of felony larceny of a motor vehicle.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Joshua Ruch or Erin Shell should call Hickory Police at 828-328-5551 or contact Inv. Carlos De Los Santos at 828-261-2621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
22-year-old James Cody Peters was arrested today (September 15) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony non-forced breaking and entering, felony larceny after B&E, possession of stolen goods, and probation violation. Peters was placed in jail in Morganton under $25,000 secured bond. A court appearance is scheduled for Monday (September 18).
31-year-old Tracie Slayton Worley of Kristen Lane in Hudson was arrested Thursday (September 14) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with felony larceny by employee. Worley was given a custody release. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Monday (September 18).
62-year-old Eddie Lee Kirk of Laytown Road in Lenoir was arrested Thursday (September 14) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with trafficking in methamphetamine. Kirk was given a custody release. A District Court appearance is scheduled for Monday (September 18).