South Laurel Street in Lincolnton has recently been the site of several improvements designed to make the street safer and more bicycle-friendly.
The improvements are a collaborative effort between the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the City of Lincolnton. They are part of the "Complete Streets" initiative being implemented in North Carolina and other locations throughout the country.
South Laurel Street was originally a four-lane roadway, but it is now a three-lane roadway with a center, two-way left turn lane and bicycle lanes on either side of the road next to the curb and gutter.
South Laurel Street was a prime candidate for the improvements because it is located in a mixed commercial & residential area and is a connector between those locations, downtown Lincolnton, an elementary school and recreational areas such as the YMCA and the Martha H. Cloninger Rail-Trail. All of those areas lend themselves to alternative modes of transportation.
The South Laurel Street project will improve safety with the addition of the center, two-way left turn lane. South Laurel Street's traffic volume is below the road's capacity and projections show only a slight increase in volume over the next 25 years. It will also provide safer routes of travel for bicyclists and pedestrians with designated bike lanes and increased distance between pedestrians and vehicular traffic.
Signs are now in place alerting drivers to the change in traffic pattern.
A single-vehicle accident occurred on Interstate 40 near exit 129 this morning (December 18), not far from Fairgrove Church Road. According to the N.C. State Highway Patrol, the vehicle was traveling eastbound at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control and overturned three times, crossing the median and coming to rest on the westbound shoulder, facing the opposite direction. Five E.M.S. and Fire Department units responded, along with the Highway Patrol. The crash was reported at 8:55 a.m. today.
The driver was transported to Catawba Memorial Hospital with what were described as non-life threatening injuries. No one else was in the vehicle. The driver’s name has not been released. Troopers say speed was the likely cause of the accident, but drugs or alcohol are not believed to be factors.
One westbound lane on the Interstate was closed for a short time. All lanes were re-opened between 9:15 and 9:30.
33-year-old Brandon Russell Atwood was arrested Wednesday (December 17) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with felony forced breaking and entering. Atwood was placed in jail in Burke County under $40,000 secured bond, he was scheduled to appear in District Court today.
Morganton Department of Public Safety Officer Jeff Gillstrap has been honored with the North Carolina Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) of the Year award for 2014. Officer Gillstrap received the award when he attended the Drug Recognition Expert Training in Raleigh on December 1, hosted by the State Drug Recognition Expert Program Coordinator Brian Smith.
In order to earn the DRE award, a DRE officer must meet certain criteria, and perform certain tasks, above and beyond the scope of practice of a regular Public Safety Officer. In addition to the normal education in the field of law enforcement, such as firearms use and general traffic laws, a DRE officer must go a step further and gain experience and training in all fields associated with impaired driving, such as how different drugs can affect a person and learning to recognize those signs and symptoms of impairment. Although most Public Safety Officers can easily recognize a drunk driver and perform routine sobriety tests, recognizing a driver under the influence of prescribed or illicit drugs is more difficult. This is due to the varying effects of a wide array of drugs, as well a complicated evaluation process needed to identify this type of impairment. Performing these evaluations takes an extensive and more specialized learning environment.
The Drug Recognition Expert must learn a 12 step process of evaluating a suspected drug-impaired driver, as well as determine the category of the impairing substance or substances, learn how to best document any findings and gather evidence through a blood test. For every drug type – stimulants, depressants, etc. – there are different signs and symptoms specific to that class of drugs and DRE officers must learn it all. Also, at the completion of such classes, a DRE officer must then successfully complete a final comprehensive exam. By this process, the Drug Recognition Expert then becomes a valued community asset who is instrumental in investigating, detecting, and prosecuting the drug-impaired driver, whereby, making the roads safer in the community the DRE officer represents.
The successful completion of this training is not the end for a DRE officer. The Drug Recognition Expert must continue to perform a minimum number of evaluations each year as well as stay up to date on new training and information.
Officer Gillstrap has been a Drug Recognition Expert for 8 years. He is one of only 151 DRE officers in the entire state and is currently assigned to the Traffic Unit at Morganton Public Safety, a program funded through a grant awarded to Morganton Public Safety by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
28-year-old Steven Lynn Myers of Blowing Rock Boulevard, Lenoir was arrested Wednesday (December 17) by Caldwell County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with breaking and entering. Following the arrest, Myers was detained at the Caldwell County Detention Center under $50,000 secured bond. District Court appearances are scheduled for today and February 2.
Educational opportunities continue to expand at Lenoir-Rhyne University with the recent addition of a Criminal Justice major to its undergraduate studies program. Interested students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice through the University’s College of Arts & Sciences.
The new Criminal Justice major requires 42 hours of study (in addition to core curriculum requirements) and includes such classes as Victimology, Criminal Law and Procedure, Corporate and White Collar Crime, Drugs and Criminal Justice as well as Comparative Criminal Justice Systems. Students interested can also pursue a minor in criminal justice which requires 18 credit hours in addition to core curriculum requirements. The program will be delivered in ways that are accessible to both traditional students and adult students, and LR intends to partner with interested community colleges to develop articulation agreements that make program completion for transfers as seamless as possible.
For more information about Criminal Justice studies at LR, visit www.lr.edu/academics/programs/criminal-justice or contact the Office of Admissions at 828-328-7300.
Chairs designed and manufactured by local craftsmen and craftswomen are on tour throughout the Hickory Metro until January 2015. According to a news release from the City of Hickory, in November, the inaugural Furniture. Well Crafted. Chair Design competition was a success, and 20 of the 23 chairs are on tour until Janaury 26, 2015 in nine locations throughout the Hickory Metro.
The Hickory Furniture Mart gets more than 500,000 furniture shoppers a year, and six of the chairs are at the Mart. Additional tour spots include Conover City Hall, Newton City Hall, Catwaba County Chamber of Commerce in Hickory, Burke County EDC in Morganton, Caldwell County EDC/Chamber of Commerce in Lenoir, Catawba Valley Community College’s (CVCC) Furniture Academy in Hickory, and CVCC’s campus in Alexander County in Taylorsville.
To see photos of the chairs, go to www.HickoryWellCrafted.com.
31-year-old Heather Shae Jonas of Pine Ridge Drive, Taylorsville, was arrested Wednesday (December 17) by the Long View Police Department. Jonas is charged with possession of stolen goods, misdemeanor larceny, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Jonas was detained at the Catawba County Detention Facility under $2,000 bond, she’s scheduled to appear in District Court January 15 and February 25.
68-year-old Johnnie Lee McCarroll of 2nd Street Place Southwest, Hickory, was arrested Wednesday (December 17) by the Hickory Police Department. He’s charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver cocaine, and with being a habitual felon. Following the arrest, McCarroll was detained at the Catawba County Detention Facility under $15,000 bond, he’s scheduled to appear in District Court today, and Superior Court Friday.
An 88-year-old Lenoir man was killed when he was struck by a vehicle Wednesday. According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the accident happened on Hartland Road shortly after 6 p.m. Published reports say Ceivel Herman Greene was crossing his street to check his mailbox when he was hit by an SUV heading in the southbound direction. The reports say that according to witnesses, Greene walked in front of the vehicle and was struck. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was not hurt and will not be charged.