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Big Dawg News

Thursday, July 2

Two Morganton men were arrested and charged with Trespassing on Railroad Property on Tuesday.

35-year-old Christopher Ralph Hughes and 53-year-old David Lash Hanna were both charged with Trespassing on Railroad Property, Impeding the Operation of Railroad, Misdemeanor larceny, and Accessory after the fact of Breaking and Entering. The Accessory after the fact charge is a felony charge.

According to a press release from the Burke County Sheriff's Office, the charges stem from events late Monday night when the subjects broke into buildings at Bristol Industries and stole a dump truck with loaded various items from the business. In the process of leaving the property, Hughes and Hanna got the truck stuck across train tracks located across from Bristol Industries.

A Norfolk Southern train was approaching from the west, according to the conductor, and he saw suspects flee the area in another dump truck crashing through the fence surrounding Bristol Industries. The conductor was able to bring the train to a stop without striking the truck stuck on the tracks

Additional charges are pending and additional suspects are being sought.


Skeletal remains were discovered Monday in a wooded area off Highway 70 SE in Catawba County. Hickory Police and Catawba County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the scene about 2:30PM. The remains were sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for positive ID. The investigation is continuing.


Metal Works Mfg. Company in Cleveland County plans an expansion that will create 86 new jobs within the next three years. Governor McCrory's office announced Wednesday, that the company will make an annual investment in new jobs for the Cleveland County workforce of $3.9 million by the end of 2019. Salaries will vary by function, but the average annual wage will be $45,393. The average annual wage in Cleveland County is $34,899. According to Governor McCrory, the company will make armor for specialty vehicles and lifts and material handling equipment.


Unemployment rates were up in May in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area. According to the N.C.Department of Commerce, the rate was 6.0%, compared to 5.2 in April. Area county rates include Burke at 6.0%, Caldwell 6.6%, Catawba 5.8, McDowell 5.8, Alexander 5.3, Avery 5.8, Watauga 5.3, Cleveland 6.6 and Rutherford 8.1%. Graham County had the state's highest unemployment rate in May at 12.0%, while Buncombe County had the lowest at 4.5%.


The woodland fire that broke out on Bakers Mountain in Catawba County Monday afternoon has burned about 40 acres as of late Tuesday morning, according to Catawba County Emergency Management. Around 150 firefighters have assisted, including crews from Mountain View, the N.C. Forest Service, Propst Crossroads, Newton, Cookville, Sherills Ford and Triple Community, along with Catawba County EMS and Hickory Rescue. No residential structures are at risk.


Two Marion men are charged in connection with a string of car break-ins. The McDowell County Sheriff's Office, Tuesday, charged 25 year old Cameron Sean Bradshaw and 25 year old Bryan Alan Kelly with five counts each of felony breaking and entering a motor vehicle, three counts of misdemeanor larceny and one count of felony first-degree burglary. They are accused in a string of automobile breakins on May 25th and 26th in the Veterans Drive-Nix Creek Road area. A portion of the stolen items has been recovered.


An Asheville man was sentenced to at least 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder in Buncombe County Superior Court on Monday.

44-year-old Gary Mason Jenkins was sentenced by Judge Gregory Horne of Watauga County to a minimum sentence of 290 months and a maximum of 360 months in the NC Department of Corrections.

According to a release from the Buncombe County District Attorney, officers with the Asheville Police Department investigated the case after responding to an assault call at Pisgah View Apartments in Asheville. Officers found Richard Smith upon arrival, who had been severely beaten. Jenkins was arrested a few hours later after being identified by neighbors.

The crimes were committed in February 2014.


The Burke County Sheriff's Office is seeking the public's help in identifying suspects from a May 31st Armed Robbery in Hildebran. When deputies responded about 4:30PM to Hardees on South Center Street, they discovered that the suspect had fled on foot. Detectives have linked this Armed Robbery with two others in the Hickory area. One of the suspects is described as a white male in his 20's 5' 6" to 5' 8" with a slender build. He was reported to have been driving a silver 4 door Nissan Sentra. Anyone with information is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division at 764-9505 or 438-5500.


A Nebo stabbing suspect now faces three counts of attempted murder. The McDowell County Sheriff's Office announced Monday, that 17 year old Jordan Flores DeJesus now faces the added more serious charges, in addition to the original charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. He is accused of stabbing his girlfriend and her parents June 24th at their residence on Isaac Drive. The three victims have been released from area hospitals.


A Rutherford County company will expand its' operations by adding 40 new jobs over the next three years. Governor McCrory's office announced the expansion, Monday, of White Oak Carpet Mills, LLC of Spindale. The company plans to invest $4.1 million in the town of Spindale over the same period. Salaries will vary by job, but will include management and production. The average salary of the new jobs will be $38,878, the average for Rutherford County is $30,479.


A Morganton teenager drowned Thursday night at a reservoir in Burke County. Mutiple crews responded to a 911 call just after 6:30 at the reservoir on Branstrom Orchard Road. Crews located the victim, 17 year old Rayden Lynn Biddix, around 11AM Friday. According to Burke County Sheriff's Office, Biddix and a friend were swimming, when Biddix got into trouble and was unable make it back to shore. His friend attempted to aid, but was unable to help. Agencies assisting the Sheriff's Office, included the N.C. Park Service, N.C.Wildlife Resources, Burke County EMS & Rescue, Brendletown Fire & Rescue and North Catawba Fire & Rescue.


Two McDowell County residents are charged in the shooting death of a Nebo man. The McDowell County Sheriff's office Friday, charged 31 year old Jerry Ryan Echols of Marion with murder and 22 year Joshua Mason Ledbetter of Nebo with accessory after the fact of murder. 39 year old

Christopher English of Pinnacle Heights Drive was found shot about 1AM June 17th partially lying in the roadway at the intersection of Pinnacle Heights Drive and Pinnacle Heights Road. English died at the scene. Echols has been incarcerated since June 19th for various charges. Further investigation led authorities to Ledbetter who they say assisted Echols after the shooting. It is believed that Echols and English got into an argument on Pinnacle Heights Road on the morning of the 17th and Echols shot English several times.


Two Morganton natives were arrested without incident after marijuana plants were found at their residence on Tuesday.

21-year-old Marquez Antonio Lipscomb was being served a warrant and indictment for felony breaking and entering and larceny when Officers found one marijuana plant in the backyard next to a heat pump. Another harvested plant was found on a porch connected to the residence. 

Lipscomb was also charged with Felony Possession Controlled Substance with Intent to Manufacture and 32-year-old Valerie Latrice Moore was charged with Felony Obtaining Property by False Pretense.

Both Lipscomb and Moore have court dates set for July 27th. Lipscomb is being held on a $25,000.00 secured bond and Moore at $6,000


Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, in partnership with N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund and other funders, has permanently conserved one of the largest remaining unprotected Catawba River Basin watershed tracts in the South Mountains.

The conservancy and the state parks system purchased a 2,207-acre tract known as Simms Hill on June 4 from owner Tim Sweeney in two concurrent transactions. Of the total acreage, 757 acres were acquired by the state and added to South Mountains State Park, bringing the park to more than 19,000 acres.

Foothills Conservancy acquired the remaining 1,450 acres to establish the regional land trust's new South Mountains Headwaters Preserve for the protection and enhancement of water quality, biodiversity and wildlife habitat. A permanent conservation easement protecting 300-foot streamside buffer zones on 624 acres of the property was conveyed to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Foothills Conservancy acquired an additional 43-acre tract known as the Wright Tract earlier this year, which will also be part of the new preserve.


Governor Pat McCrory broke ground today on Sealed Air's new global headquarters in Charlotte. Sealed Air is a Fortune 500 company and global manufacturer of protective and specialty packaging for food and consumer goods.

"With plans to create more than 1,200 jobs for North Carolinians by 2017, Sealed Air will be a great corporate partner for Charlotte and our state," Governor McCrory said. "Attracting Sealed Air's headquarters shows companies around the world that North Carolina is a great place to do business."

Last July, Governor McCrory announced Sealed Air planned to relocate to Charlotte from its current headquarters in Elmwood Park, New Jersey. The company has four additional North Carolina locations in Hudson, Lenoir, High Point and Rockingham.

Sealed Air will invest $58 million through a long-term lease with a third-party developer who will construct a new, state-of-the-art facility for the global headquarters.

Salaries will vary by position, but the average annual wage will be $119,482. The average annual wage in Mecklenburg County is $59,046.


A Burke County resident faces multiple charges. The Burke County Sheriff's Office Tuesday, arrested 26 year old Megan Nichole Billings of Valdese. Charges include 1 Count each of Felony Larceny By Trick, Felony Possession of Stolen Goods, Felony Probation Violation and Felony Indictment and along with 6 Counts of Misdemeanor Failure to Appear and 1 Count of Misdemeanor Probation Violation. Bond was set at $52,200 with a first court appearance July 14th.


The Burke County Sheriff's Office is investigating an incident on Sunday night in Connelly Springs where a juvenile was injured and transported to the hospital for treatment. An arrest was made Monday where 23 year old Kyle Adams Glenn of Connelly Springs was charged with misdemeanor Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Glenn was confined under a $5000 secured bond. A court appearance is scheduled for July 7th. The investigation is ongoing.


Blue Bloodhound, LP is establishing operations in Catawba County and plans to create 191 new jobs over the next 3 years. The company plans to invest $400,000 in the city of Hickory over the same period. Blue Bloodhound,LP has developed proprietary software that will assist truck drivers with maintaining safety records, remind them of renewal deadlines, and locate job opportunities for Class A and B drivers. Salaries will vary by job but will include customer service representatives, accounting and marketing. the average annual salary for the new jobs will be $46,368; the average for Catawba County is $36,770. Blue Bloodhound will lease the second floor of the Moretz Mills building on 8th Street in Hickory.


The McDowell County Sheriff's Office, will help from other agencies, arrested 33 people last week on 46 warrants. Operation Summer Sweep resulted in charges for felony probation violation, parole violation, assault with a deadly weapon, failure to appear and assault on an officer. Assisting the McDowell County Sheriff's Office, were personnel from Marion Police, State Bureau of Investigation, N.C.Department of Public Safety, N.C.Department of Revenue and U.S.Marshal's Task Force.


A Burke County man had his first federal court appearance yesterday after being charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

The criminal complaint was filed Monday charging Justin Nojan Sullivan, 19, of Morganton, with one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIL, one count of transporting and receiving a silencer in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony, and one count of receipt and possession of an unregistered silencer, unidentified by a serial number.

According to the press release, the criminal complaint alleges that the FBI became aware of Sullivan's plans to obtain a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at the Hickory Gun Show on June 20th which he planned to use to kill a large number of U.S. citizens on behalf of ISIL. The criminal complaint reveals Sullivan had conversations with an undercover FBI agent regarding terrorist attacks and the need for a homemade silencer.

Sullivan was arrested in his home on Friday.


At a special meeting of the Morganton City Council on Monday, Morganton City Council members adopted the City's proposed budget for the 2015 through 2016 fiscal year. In the 72 million dollar budget, Morganton property tax rates increased to 53 cents per every 100 dollars of taxable property owned for the general tax, and rates for the special downtown district increased to 14 cents per every 100 dollars of property owned. Also on Monday, City Council awarded contracts to bidders eager to help with Morganton's Mountain View Community Center restoration project. Among some of the issues contractors hope to address in the proposed renovation include installing two multi-purpose tennis courts, replacing sidewalks and parking lots, renovating gutters and canopies, and improving the Center's storm-water runoff drainage issues.


A Burke County man will spend at least 120 years in prison after pleading guility to a triple homicide. 57 year old Donald Eric Kincaid of Morganton was sentenced Friday in Burke County Superior Court, in the case involving the August 2014 murders of Barbara Ann Johnson, Zakiya Talibeh-El Bey and Freddie Charles Thompson Jr. Kincaid killed the victims in their West Concord Street Morganton home. Detective Tim Corroveau led the investigation for Morganton Department of Public Safety with assistance from the State Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Frank Webster of the District Attorney's Office.


McDowell County residents are charged with stealing jewelry from numerous homes in Marion. The McDowell County Sheriff's Office Friday, reported the arrests of 29 year old Jose Manuel Sorta, 21 year old Jorge Luis Rodriguez and 22 year old Karen Lizzet Andrade, all of Marion. Sorta faces 8 counts of various felony charges, Rodriguez two felony counts of breaking, entering and larceny and Andrade one count of felony obstruction of justice. Sorta was wanted by Maryland authorities and by U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Candidates for public office in Caldwell County may begin filing July 6th. The 2015 Caldwell County Municipal elected offices open for filing include races in the City of Lenoir, the Village of Cedar Rock, and the Towns of Cajah's Mountain, Gamewell, Granite Falls, Hudson, Rhodhiss and Sawmills. Filing ends at Noon July 17th with the election scheduled for Tuesday November 3rd.


Trafficking in Meth and Opium or Heroin charges are filed on a Burke County man. 35 year old Reginald Curtis was taken into custody Saturday by Alcohol Law Enforcement. He faces 5 additional charges with bond set at $361,000. According to the Catawba County Sheriff's Office, a first court appearance is scheduled today.


The Catawba County Grand Jury delivered true bills of indictment to three murder suspects on Monday.

Tevin Jerome Davis, DeMarcus Kashaun Pollard and Jamar Franklin Robinson were charged with murder in incidents that happened about 175 yards apart but investigators do not believe they appear to be related.

Both 23 years old, Davis of Statesville and Pollard of Hickory are indicted for the June shooting death of 46-year-old Lancelot Kenyatta Ellison in Hickory. Robinson, 24 of Conover, was indicted for the June shooting death of 23-year-old Octavis Sentex Geter.

All three murder suspects are being held without bond at the Catawba County Detention Center. Their next court date is Aug 3rd during administrative session of Catawba County Superior Court.


A guilty verdict and active prison time for the defendant was the result of the first bench trial in Caldwell County.

According to a release from the office of the District Attorney, 44-year-old Kurt Allen Corey of Lenoir was found guilty of failure to report a change of address by a sex offender on Wednesday and sentenced to serve 17-30 months of active prison time at the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

As required by law, sex offenders are supposed to register with the police a change of address within three days if they move. Corey failed to do so, violating a previous 2000 conviction in Michigan of Criminal Sexual conduct with a victim between 13-16 years old. The violation required Corey to register as an offender for 25 years.

The bench trial was the third in the 25th Prosecutorial District since the practice was approved by constitutional amendment last year and started Jan. 2015.