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The front parking lot at Morganton City Hall will be closed for three weeks starting next Tuesday, September 16 while contractors repaint the water tank located in front of the main entrance to City Hall.

After evaluating options and receiving quotes for painting, the Morganton City Council gave the go ahead in August to repaint the tank. The tank does not contain any water and is not part of the City's water system, but it is considered a landmark in the city. The tank will be cleaned and painted and the Morganton Trading Company logo will be painted on two sides.

Utility Service Company, the contractor, will close off the parking lot at 7 a.m. next Tuesday. The front parking lot and front entrance to City Hall will be closed to protect the public and provide a safe work zone. The work is expected to take about three weeks to complete and the front parking area will remain closed during that time. The lot should be back open by October 6, barring any delays.

Parking will be available along East Union Street and in the parking lot behind City Hall, accessible from Avery Avenue and Lenoir Street. The public should utilize the rear entrance to City Hall, adjacent to the courtyard and fountain. For utility payments, the drive-thru will remain open for the duration of the project, but customers must bring their bill to pay via the drive through.

The project will cost $50,367. Funds for the repair will initially come from the tank maintenance funds and be reimbursed with revenues from the cellular antenna attachment to be installed on the tank.

For more information, call the Water Resources Department at 828-438-5276.

24-year-old Ashley Nichole Long of Lyle Haven Drive in Conover was arrested Friday (September 5) by Granite Falls Police on charges of misdemeanor larceny and possession of stolen goods or property. She was taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center with bond set at $40,000, secured. Long will appear in District Court on November 13 in Lenoir.

Monday, 08 September 2014 15:15

Lenoir Man Charged with Safecracking; Larceny; More

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26-year-old Timothy Raydean Nelson II of Colt Court in Lenoir was arrested by Caldwell Co. Sheriff’s Officers Friday (September 5) on charges of simple assault, injury to real property, safe-cracking, larceny of a firearm, felony larceny, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of stolen goods or property and obtaining property by false pretense (two counts).

Nelson was taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center under a $22,500 secured bond. He was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court today (September 8) in Lenoir.

Monday, 08 September 2014 14:51

Phostell's Barber Shop Celebrates Grand Re-Opening

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Phostell’s Barber Shop & Beauty Salon celebrated its re-grand opening in downtown Newton with a ribbon cutting ceremony last Wednesday (September 3). Owner William “Phostell” Rice, barber Ryson Reed and family have re-vamped and re-decorated the barbershop’s front room. Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman was among those on-hand for the ribbon cutting. The improvements come on the heels of the façade work that was done by Newton’s Downtown Development Association.

Ryson Reed and Olivia Stanek have relocated here from Ohio. Reed has been in North Carolina about five months and has been barbering at Phostell’s since July.

William Rice has operated Phostell’s at the Main Avenue location for over 17 years. He owns the building, which houses the barbershop and a beauty salon.

The barbershop is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Startown Elementary School was placed on lockdown shortly after 12:40 this afternoon in response to a report of two men walking along Startown Road carrying long guns.

Newton Police and Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Officers responded to the area, but didn’t find anyone.  The area has been cleared.  Some law enforcement personnel remained on the scene this afternoon to provide security.

Sheriff Coy Reid pointed out that dove-hunting season started last week and said it’s possible the two men may have been hunters.

32-year-old Robert Alan Hunter of West 17th Street in Newton was arrested by Hickory Police early Saturday morning (September 6) for felony possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and misdemeanor second-degree trespass. At the same time, 27-year-old Caira Leeann Prysock was arrested for felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver cocaine.

They were arrested when Police went to Prysock’s apartment to serve her with an indictment on the drug charge. As Officers approached they saw Hunter through the window and knew that he had previously been banned from Hickory Housing Authority property. Hunter appeared to be hiding objects in a clothes hamper.

Police smelled marijuana as they entered the residence. Hunter was arrested for second-degree trespass. They were given consent to search, leading to the discovery of an unloaded .25 caliber Jennings semi-automatic handgun.

Both subjects were taken into custody without incident. Hunter was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $10,000 secured bond. Prysock was released after posting a $3,000 unsecured bond. Hunter was scheduled to appear in District Court today (September 8) in Newton. Prysock has a Superior Court date set for September 12.

A juvenile identified only as Levi M. is being sought by authorities with the Division of Adult Correction & Juvenile Justice. The juvenile was in custody at the Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center and failed to return to the facility yesterday (September 7) following a home visit. His home is in Lincoln County. The Stonewall Jackson facility is in Cabarrus County, near Concord.

Levi M. was last seen Sunday around noon near a wooded area at a home on Highway 73 in Iron Station. Local law enforcement is cooperating fully with the investigation.

Due to the unpredictability of juvenile behavior, division officials have a high degree of concern for the safety of both the juvenile and the public.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Levi M. should contact local law enforcement.

Monday, 08 September 2014 11:26

Hickory Woman Charged with Felony Sex Offense

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26-year-old Lauren Michelle Clontz of 13th Street Drive N.E. in Hickory was arrested after she turned herself in at Hickory Police headquarters just before 10 a.m. Friday (September 5). She was charged with one felony count of statutory rape or sex offense with a 13, 14 or 15 year old when the defendant is at least six years older than the victim.

Hickory Police say the arrest was the result of inappropriate text messages that were intercepted by the victim’s parents. Police are not calling the offense a rape, though the crime does fall under North Carolina’s legal description of statutory rape.

Clontz and the victim, a teenaged boy whose age was not specified, were acquainted prior to the offense. A Police spokesperson says the crime is not connected to the Children’s Academy on 10th Avenue Drive N.E. in Hickory, which is listed as Clontz’s employer.

Clontz was released after posting a $12,000 secured bond. An appearance in District Court was set for today (September 8) in Newton.

72-year-old Billy Cort Hull of 3rd Avenue S.E. in Hickory and 24-year-old Chelsey Paige Dalton of Bomwan Street in Shelby were both arrested by Hickory Police early Sunday morning. Hull was charged with felony possession of cocaine and felony possession of methamphetamine, as well as misdemeanor possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Dalton was arrested on outstanding warrants issued by the Long View Police Department in February of this year for felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver cocaine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

They were arrested when Officers on foot patrol in the area of the Sunny Valley apartment complex on 3rd Avenue S.E. detected the strong odor of marijuana coming from an apartment. Officers knocked and stepped inside the apartment where they spoke to Hull and another man, who they knew had been previously banned from Hickory Housing Authority property. The second man was searched, but nothing illegal was found on his person. Dalton (who initially told Police her name was “Santana” Dalton) and another female were present in a bedroom.

Hull would not give consent to search the apartment. Police searched his person, but found nothing. While one Officer went to obtain a search warrant, the subjects were seated on a couch. The couch was first searched for weapons, leading to the discovery of a pill bottle containing 0.1 grams of crack cocaine.

When the search warrant was issued and executed, a pill crusher, a straw, a blunt wrapper, four marijuana roaches, some loose marijuana and another container containing marijuana were found in the bedroom. The marijuana weighed 2.5 grams. Another small baggie containing 1.3 grams of methamphetamine was found in another sofa.

The other two persons in the apartment were not charged. Hull and Dalton were both taken into custody without incident. They were taken to the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for Hull set at $9,500, secured, while Dalton was given an $8,000 secured bond. Hull was scheduled to appear in District Court today. Dalton has a Superior Court date coming up on September 12.

Monday, 08 September 2014 06:54

Group from Altenburg, Germany Tours Hickory Metro

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A group of seven representatives from Altenburg, Germany arrived in Hickory Friday (September 5) and will remain in town through tomorrow (September 9). The visit is hosted by the Western Piedmont Sister Cities Association.

Their tour being focused on public-private partnerships that re-purpose vacant buildings for economic development and an improved quality of life.

The group is touring areas of western North Carolina, including the cities of Hickory, Lenoir and Morganton. They have visited the Historic Morganton Festival, the Patterson School, the Hickory Regional Airport and other locales within the Hickory Metro. A tour of Sarstedt Manufacturing in the Newton-Conover area is planned for today.

Their trip will conclude with a celebratory dinner, sponsored by the City of Hickory, at the Olde Hickory Station this evening at seven o’clock with a performance by the bluegrass band, Carolina Wind. They’ll spend the day Tuesday with Christof & Rosi Klingspor before departing from Charlotte tomorrow evening.

The Western Piedmont Sister Cities Association is the local branch of Sister Cities International, which coordinates contacts between U.S. cities and other countries. Representing over 2,500 communities in 126 countries around the world, Sister Cities International encourages dialogue among governmental, educational, artistic, business and other officials who seek to improve the quality of life for their communities.