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WMNC News, Thursday, October 23rd

Early voting starts today. In Burke County there will be four locations, the Burke County Board of Elections Office, Rutherford College Town Hall, Burke Senior Center, and Hildebran Depot Park. In Catawba County, five one-stop voting locations will be open at varying times and dates. New for this election is a one-stop site at 403 Conover Station in Conover NC. Other one-stop sites will Include: the Newton Main Library at 115 West C Street, the Highland Recreation Center at 1451 8th St. Dr. NE, Hickory, the Southwest Branch Library at 2944 Highway 127 South in Mountain View, and the Sherrills Ford Fire and Rescue headquarters at 4011 Slanting Bridge Road in Sherrills Ford. In Caldwell County voters can cast their ballots early in the City/County Chambers at the Alden Starnes County Building in Lenoir, at the Public Library in Lenoir, and at the Shuford Recreation Center in Granite Falls. In Alexander County early voting is taking place at the Alexander County Board of Elections in Taylorsville. For specific times and dates you can contact your local Board of Elections. The final day of early voting will be Saturday, November 1. Election Day is Tuesday, November 4. 

A Catawba County man is charged with failing to register. The Hickory Police Department Wednesday arrested 23-year-old Joshua Stephen Moriarty of Hickory. He's charged with fail to register as a sex offender and second degree trespass. Following the arrest, Moriarty was placed in the Catawba County Jail under $50,500 bond, a court appearance is scheduled for Monday.

A Catawba County man arrested Wednesday in Caldwell County faces a stolen goods charge. The Lenoir Police Department arrested 21-year-old Bradley O'Neil Caldwell Jr. of Hickory. He's charged with possession of stolen goods or property, misdemeanor larceny, and shoplifting with concealment of goods. Following the arrest, the suspect was placed in the Caldwell County Jail under $2,500 secured bond.

Residents of Burke County had the opportunity to spark conversation about what can promote wellness throughout the county during the Healthy Places NC forum at the Community House on Wednesday afternoon. Discussed during the forum were what individuals, organizations, and the community can do to make Burke County a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play as a County initiative. Statistics were given to show the County's Health Rankings which look at a variety of measures that affect health, such as high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, rates of smoking, obesity, and teen births. Burke County is ranked 77 out of 100 which is in the bottom quartile. 17% of people don't have access to healthy foods, 29% of people have a BMI over 30, and 30% of people in the county say they are physically inactive. The Kate B. Reynolds Trust plans to invest $100 million dollars in 10-15 counties over the next decade and Burke County is the fifth county to get involved with the initiative. Ideas discussed were having community exercise groups, raising awareness about HIV/Aids,  having better transport around the county, more information on Diabetes prevention, and having information more accessible to the community. Some of those working with the Healthy Places Burke County initiative and Kate B. Reynolds Trust who were present at the forum were Abena Asante, Senior Program Officer of Health Care Division for the Kate B. Reynolds Trust, Community Coach, Jan O'Neill, and Nancy Taylor, Executive Director of Community Foundation of Burke County. For more information about Healthy Places NC, contact Abena Asante by email at or by phone at 336-972-1564.

A teenager has been arrested in connection with a bomb threat at McDowell High School. Detective Andy Manis of the McDowell County Sheriff's Office charged 16-year-old Alaina Marie Hudgins of Marion, late Wednesday afternoon with felony making a false bomb report. Hudgins is a McDowell High 10th-grader who is accused of a bomb threat hoax at the school Tuesday morning, which prompted a half-day search of the building by law enforcement, emergency personnel, school officials and a dog team. A similar bomb threat at the high school Wednesday afternoon is still under investigation, but a suspect has been identified and charges are forthcoming

A woman is charged with stealing credit cards and purchasing thousands of dollars in items. Detective Paul Alkire of the McDowell County Sheriff's Office charged 32-year-old Kimberly Dianne Mikula of Marion, with two counts of felony obtaining property by false pretense and one count of misdemeanor larceny. On Sept. 29, James Frampton, of Crossings Drive South in Marion, reported that Mikula, his ex-girlfriend, allegedly stole two of his credit cards and purchased thousands of dollars' worth of items, including furniture and merchandise from retail stores. Frampton was out of state when the incidents reportedly occurred.