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Big Dawg News

Friday, July 31

Fifteen current and former Burke County Public Schools prep softball players are headed this weekend to the Big League World Series in Delaware. The first game is Sunday afternoon against Canada. The fifteen players represent Freedom, Patton and East Burke. The team is sponsored by the Morganton Recreation Department.


The Alexander County Sheriff's Office responded to a residential breaking and entering that occurred Wednesday morning. Investigation into the incident revealed surveillance video from a nearby residence captured images of the suspect vehicle leaving the scene. Authorities are looking for a 2000 Honda Accord with a sunroof. The car is missing the entire front bumper and only has wheel covers on the passenger-side wheels. The vehicle was last seen driven by a black male. Anyone with information may call the Alexander County Sheriff's office at 632-1111 or the Tip Line at 632-8555. A reward may be offered for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for this crime. 


Lenoir-Rhyne University received a $2,500 grant from Piedmont Natural Gas for funding captioning equipment for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing program.

The Piedmont Natural Gas Company is known for their support of nonprofit organizations, such as their annual sponsorship of the Giving from the Heart awards luncheon for United Way.

Michael Durham, Piedmont Natural Gas Community Relations Manager, presented the check to Dr. Barry Redmond, Coordinator for Corporate and Foundation Relations and Shawn Frank, Director of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Student Services on July 21 at the Lenoir-Rhyne campus.

Since 1977, deaf and hard-of-hearing services have been in place at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Over 200 deaf and hard-of-hearing students have benefited from services over the years and 15 students will be enrolled this fall that need the support of the program.


Catawba Valley Community College, with local companies, has developed the Manufacturing Academy to prepare students for manufacturing positions.

The Manufacturing Academy, an industry-driven training course designed by local manufacturers, will introduce students to the basic concepts of manufacturing and careers with local companies. The Manufacturing Academy will last twelve weeks and consist of six modules to be presented over that time period.

Students will have the opportunity to apply for open positions with companies that present at the end of the course. Some companies participating include Bernhardt Furniture Company, CommScope Inc., LEE Industries, Target and RPM Wood Finishes Group.

The introductory session will begin in October.


Unemployment rates increased in 95 of North Carolina's counties in June, increased in four counties and remained unchanged in one. The Hickory-

Lenoir-Morganton rate was 6.2%, up three tenths of one percent from May. Area county rates include Burke at 6.3%, Caldwell 6.9, Catawba 6.1, McDowell 5.9, Alexander 5.6 and Avery County at 5.8%. All fifteen of the state's metro areas experienced rate increases. Graham County had the highest unemployment rate at 12.3%, while Buncombe County had the lowest June rate at 4.7%.


A delegation from the Republic of Georgia is in Catawba County. The group is studying Catawba County's solid waste collection and disposal system and methods, its' recycling success and related issues. The visit is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development, which describes itself as "the lead U.S.Government Agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential."


Dr.Amy Sturgis, an adjunct instructor in Liberal Studies at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, recently received the 2015 award for Best Magazine Review/Criticism/Column, given by the Los Angeles Press Club at the 57th Southern California Journalism Award ceremony.


The City of Morganton Softball Team will begin play in the World Series Sunday in Delaware. The girls won the Southeast Region over the weekend in Fort Myers. The team will play four games in Delaware and their record will determine if they move into the final round. The first game is against Canada at 3PM.


The Catawba County Elections Office has announced that the filing period for candidates seeking a seat on the Hickory Public Schools or

Newton-Conover City Schools Board of Education will begin at 12 Noon Friday August 14th and end at 5PM Friday September 4th. There are four seats open for Hickory Public Schools and three seats open for Newton-Conover City Schools. The General Election is Tuesday November 3rd.


In response to drought conditions in the region, Duke Energy is requesting lake neighbors who withdraw water from the Catawba-Wateree lakes for irrigation to voluntarily limit watering to Tuesdays and Saturdays. The request comes as part of a collective effort by municipal water suppliers, state and federal resource agencies and Duke Energy to preserve and protect water resources in the Catawba-Wateree River Basin.


A Marion man is charged with Second Degree Arson. The McDowell County Sheriff's Office Monday night, was called to assist emergency personnel at a house fire in Marion on Reid Street. The two story home was heavily damaged. The occupant, 33 year old Gregory Scott Johnson, was detained at the scene, and after further investigation, was charged was setting the house ablaze. The motive behind the crime is under investigation. No one was injured.


Catawba County has achieved the top ranking among North Carolina counties in the amount of materials recycled, per person. This is the third year out of the last four that Catawba County has ranked number one. Information released by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources indicates for fiscal year 2013-2014, Catawba County recycled just over 507 pounds per person. According to Amanda Kain, Catawba County's Waste Reduction Coordinator and Educator, "Catawba was the first county in the state to offer curbside recycling countywide way back in 1990 and we have made recycling a habit since then."


A McDowell County teenager is charged with robbing a couple. The McDowell County Sheriff's Office, Monday, charged 17 year old Daniel Colton Freeman of Old Fort with one felony count each of robbery with a dangerous weapon, burglary and aggravated assault. The robbery occurred April 13th inside a residence on Conner Ridge Road in Old Fort. Additional arrests are forthcoming.


For the next couple of nights the southbound lane of South Sterling Street will be changed to one lane, while contractors working on the I-40 Exit 105 project pave and stripe the road. Starting at 6PM, the southbound lanes of South Sterling from the old Abele's location and through Bush Drive will be channeled down to a single lane, sharing some space from the northbound lanes, especially in front of the Hess Station. Traffic flow through the area will be restricted and slowed. Wednesday night or no later than Thursday night the southbound traffic on South Sterling Street will move to the new alignment in a temporary single lane pattern.


A teenager has died after being shot in Catawba County. WSOC-TV reports that the teenage girl was with a 21 year old man, when they stopped to look at a gun for sale on Rocky Ford Road. According to officials, the girl was photographing the .22 rifle when the man accidentally pulled the trigger. No charges have been filed. Officials will in the future meet with the District Attorney's Office.


The Burke County Sheriff's Office has received complaints of multiple parking violations along a stretch of North Powerhouse Road at Lake James. These violations are occurring in no parking zones, along a stretch of North Powerhouse from Benfield's Landing Road to Laurel Ridge Court and is clearly marked with multiple "No Parking Anytime" fixed signs on both sides of the roadway. Vehicles have been impeding the flow of traffic and these violations can lead to traffic accidents and possible injuries. These no parking zones will start being enforced and if an owner/operator cannot be located to remove the vehicle in a timely manner, it will be towed at the registered owner's expense.


Beginning today, the Burke County Health Department will begin seeing clients within the new Virtual Primary Care Clinic located in the health department on East Parker Road in Morganton. Any Burke County citizen, 18 or older, can receive services by walking in or calling ahead for an appointment. For the first two weeks, clinic hours will be Monday-Friday 9-3 and Friday mornings 8:30-11. In the middle of August, clinic hours will be Monday-Friday 8-3. The clinic is designed for those with no insurance or Medicaid, but a minimum of $50 will be charged for services. For more information or to make an appointment call 764-9229.


A Burke County man is charged with assaulting his sister. Burke County Sheriff's Deputies responded Monday afternoon to CHS Blue Ridge Morganton, in reference to an assault that had occurred. Kendra Wiest told deputies that her brother Michael James Wiest II had assaulted her. The assault took place Saturday at a mobile home park on Windy Hill Hollow in Morganton. A CHS physician stated that she was released from the hospital, but will have to undergo surgery due to a fractured bone in her face. Michael James Wiest II was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious bodily injury. Bond was set at $20,000 secured.


Burke County Sheriff's Deputies, Sargent Rick Hasson and Sargent Mike Church, along with members of the N.C. Secretary of State Trademark Task Force, participated with other members July 15th in an enforcement sweep of the sales venues surrounding Bank of America Stadium in downtown Charlotte. 17 trademark violations were detected, primarily involving counterfeit soccer shirts bearing the Mexican team crest, which is trademarked and currently protected by Adidas. No violators were charged as illegal items were voluntarily surrendered. The estimated value of items was listed at about $137,000. Other agencies assisting include the Catawba County Sheriff's Department, Kannapolis and Tarboro Police and Homeland Security Investigations, Charlotte.


Hickory firefighters responded Thursday morning to a reported fire at Valley Creek Apartments on 7th Avenue SE. Crews found smoke coming from an apartment in the eight unit building. One apartment was heavy damaged and the one above sustained smoke damage. Three residents were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. The Red Cross responded and will help families displaced by the fire. Fire investigators determined that an unattended candle that was too close to combustible objects, was the cause of the fire.


A vehicle recovered from an area lake is believed to match that from a missing person case from 1972. The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office, with help from the SBI and North Catawba Fire and Rescue, conducted a vehicle recovery operation, Tuesday, at the Lake Rhodhiss Boat Access on Waterworks Road. A 1968 Pontiac Catalina was retrieved in about 30 feet of water. The car matches the vehicle belonging to an individual that was reported missing February 19 1972. Investigators discovered human remains in the vehicle. The remains were to be sent to the Chief Medical Examiners Office for an autopsy and identification. There are no signs of foul sign at this time of the investigation, according to the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office.