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29-year-old Samuel “Zane” Billings of Mt. Olive Church Road in Morganton is wanted by the Burke Co. Sheriff’s Office on outstanding warrants for financial card theft, breaking & entering, larceny and possession of stolen goods.

“Zane” Billings is wanted in connection to numerous break-ins and larcenies throughout western Burke County, specifically in the Highway 64 South and Dysartsville Road areas.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Samuel “Zane” Billings should call 828-438-5500 or 828-438-5506.

33-year-old Joey Eugene Richards of Statesville has been arrested and charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree kidnapping and larceny of a motor vehicle. The charges come in connection to an armed robbery at the Cricket Store on Crossroads Drive in Statesville on Sunday (November 16). Richards was also served warrants on unrelated charges of larceny of a motor vehicle, felony breaking & entering and felony larceny after breaking & entering.

Yesterday (November 17), Statesville Police Investigators received information suggesting that Richards matched the description of the suspect in the Cricket Store robbery. Richards had outstanding warrants on an unrelated incident and was wanted for questioning in that case.

Investigators learned that Richards was at the Greyhound bus station in Charlotte. There, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police located Richards, who was armed with an air soft pistol, and arrested him on the outstanding warrants.

Richards was taken to Statesville for questioning and for processing on the unrelated charges. During the investigation, Richards admitted to the armed robbery at the Cricket Store.

The unrelated charges stem from a November 8 break-in at the West Front Street Shell service station. Richards was identified as the suspect who broke into the business and removed a safe, along with the keys to a 2000 Dodge Durango. Richards stole the Durango and was stopped later that night in Catawba County before the vehicle was reported stolen. Based on that encounter, Investigators linked Richards to the break-in and vehicle theft.

Richards was jailed under a $250,000 secured bond. No court date is currently listed.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 13:25

Hiddenite Center Wins Community Foundation Award

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The Hiddenite Center was recently awarded a $1,000 grant from the Catawba Valley Community Foundation’s 2014 Community Grants Program, an affiliate of the N.C. Community Foundation. The funds will be used during The Hiddenite Center’s annual Explore N.C. Heritage Fair.

The Hiddenite Center is located at 316 Hiddenite Church Road in Hiddenite. Call 828-632-6966 for more information.

Low-income elderly or disabled persons in Catawba County who need help paying their heating bills may apply at the Salvation Army in Hickory beginning December 1.

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) is offered each year, with low-income elderly or disabled persons receiving first priority. Those who received LIEAP funds in the past must reapply each year.

Households including elderly or disabled persons have first priority and may apply December 1 through March 31, or until the funds are exhausted. Only households including an elderly person age 60 or older or households with a disabled person receiving services through the Division of Aging & Adult Services are eligible to apply during the priority period. Disabled persons are defined as those receiving SSI, SSA or VA disability.

Payments will be sent directly to the primary heating provider, such as the electric, gas or heating oil company.

Assistance is based on household income and the number of persons living in the household. To be eligible, households must have total resources of $2,250 or less. "Resources" may include checking and savings accounts, cash, certificates of deposit, etc. The household must be responsible for paying the heating bill. Eligibility is based on income. The income of everyone in the household is counted.

Low-income households that do not include an elderly or disabled person may apply for LIEAP funds January 2 through March 31, if funds are still available at the time.

To apply, bring identification, Social Security numbers for everyone in the household, verification of income & resources and a current heating bill. Persons applying under the early deadline must also bring proof of age, disability and services received from the Division of Aging & Adult Services.

For additional information, contact Catawba County Social Services at 828-695-5625.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 11:03

Lenoir Woman Arrested on Assortment of Drug Charges

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22-year-old Theresa Kay Vallera of S.E. Hibriten Drive in Lenoir was arrested by Lenoir Police yesterday (November 17) on charges of felony possession of cocaine, misdemeanor possession of marijuana up to half an ounce, simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. Following her arrest, Vallera was taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center under a $7,500 secured bond. She was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court yesterday in Lenoir.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 10:58

Hickory Man Faces Felony Larceny and B&E Charges

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26-year-old Jonathon Eugene Benfield of Shiloh Church Road in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 10:35 yesterday morning (November 17) on one felony count each of breaking & entering and larceny after breaking & entering.

Events leading to his arrest began on November 12 when Police responded to a break-in at an apartment on the 1100 block of 10th Street Place N.W. in Hickory. A ring and an iPhone IV valued at approximately $1,100 were taken. The victim told Police that her estranged husband, Jonathon Benfield, was the suspect.

A warrant for his arrest was issued that day. Benfield turned himself in at H.P.D. headquarters yesterday. He was taken into custody without incident and then released after posting an $8,000 unsecured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for tomorrow in Newton.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 07:16

Morganton Man Faces Felony Meth Charge

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40-year-old Jeffrey Lee Ballard of Gold Mine Road in Morganton has been arrested by Burke Co. Sheriff’s officers on charges of possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.

Ballard was arrested yesterday (November 17) as Burke Co. Sheriff’s Detectives were traveling on Piney Road towards Pax Hill Road. While they were at a stop sign, Detectives noticed a truck sitting on the wrong side of the road at the intersection of Old John’s River Road and Pax Hill Road. Detectives went to check on the truck’s occupant, Jeff Ballard.

During the investigative stop, Detectives found used glass pipes and methamphetamine in Ballard’s possession. Ballard was not cooperative during the investigative stop, resulting in the resisting charge.

The case was turned over to the Burke Co. Narcotics Task Force for further investigation.

Ballard was jailed under a $40,000 secured bond. He was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court today in Morganton.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 07:13

Fire Damages Roof at Wizard Lounge

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Hickory Firefighters responded to a fire yesterday (November 17) at the Wizard Lounge on 21st Street N.E. in Hickory. Firefighters arrived on the scene to find smoke coming from the building. According to published reports, damages were confined to the building’s roof. No injuries were reported. Firefighters believe the fire was caused by a neon light on the building.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 07:05

Habitat-Thrivent Home Set for Nov. 22 Dedication

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Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley and Thrivent will host a home dedication at 11 a.m. on November 22. The new house is located at 820 5th Avenue S.W. in Hickory.

The house will be home to Nolan Carlton. Carlton is the father of four grown children and has four grandchildren. He grew up in the Lenoir area and then moved to Atlanta before returning to the Catawba Valley area.

The home is a result of a partnership between Habitat and Thrivent. Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is a multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity. Thrivent Builds is designed to involve Thrivent members and Lutherans in helping provide a “hand up” to people in need of affordable housing. Excluding government funding, Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is Habitat's largest single source of funding, constructing and repairing more than 3,500 homes in the U.S. and around the world since 2005.

25-year-old Brittany Danette Dean of Powell Brickyard Road in Lenoir was arrested by Caldwell Co. Sheriff’s Officers Friday (November 14) for violating a house arrest order. Following her arrest, Dean was placed in the Caldwell Co. Detention Center under a $50,000 secured bond. She was scheduled to appear today (November 17) in Superior Court in Lenoir on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.