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Austin Hedrick, a Bunker Hill High School student, was killed at about midnight Friday night when a rifle discharged in the vehicle he was riding in.

The victim’s father, Scotty Hedrick, was driving a small Mazda pickup truck on Hudson Chapel Road, east of Catawba. Austin Hedrick was sitting in the window seat and a 15-year-old family friend was sitting between them.

A "hunting-style" rifle was wedged between Austin Hedrick and his friend. Near the intersection of Hudson Chapel Road and Brown Chapel Road, the rifle went off. Austin Hedrick was shot in the head. The victim was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Authorities don’t know why the rifle discharged. It’s not clear at this time if any charges will be filed. The Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

Austin Hedrick is the third Bunker Hill student to die in the past two weeks. Two 15-year-old Bunker Hill students were killed in an auto accident on October 3.

Monday, 20 October 2014 07:08

Bat with Rabies Found in Catawba County

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Catawba County’s second confirmed case of rabies in 2014 has been recorded after a bat found in a Hickory residence tested positive for the disease.

Hickory Animal Control Officers were dispatched to a residence in northwest Hickory on Wednesday, October 15 after a bat was found in the home.  The remains of the bat were shipped to the North Carolina Public Health Laboratory in Raleigh on the evening of the 15th by Catawba County Animal Services staff.

The North Carolina Public Health Laboratory notified Catawba County on the afternoon of October 17th that the bat tested positive for rabies.

Animal Services reminds pet owners that rabies is still present in the local wild animal population and is a threat to pets and humans, year-round.  The best way to protect pets from rabies is to have them properly vaccinated.  Humans should avoid contact with wild animals and be aware that one form of rabies may cause a wild animal to lose its normal fear of humans and approach or attack.

For more information on rabies or rabies vaccinations, call Catawba County Animal Services at 828-464-7686.

Charter Business will host the first-ever Tech Expo for business owners across Catawba, Burke, Lincoln, Watauga, Alexander, Wilkes and Caldwell counties. The event is scheduled for tomorrow (October 21) from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. at The Crossing at Hollar Mill.

The free Tech Expo will feature more than 30 area expert vendors who specialize in facilitating and providing technology to businesses across the foothills. The event also will include educational seminars on topics ranging from Cloud computing and network security to disaster recovery and digital media marketing.

The Crossing at Hollar Mill is located at 883 Highland Avenue S.E. in Hickory. To learn more or to register for the Tech Expo, contact jesse.sloane@charter.com.

Monday, 20 October 2014 06:57

Ribbon Cutting Planned for Newton Travel Agency

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Dyson Travel, a full service travel agency, is now located at 22 West “A” Street in Newton. A ribbon cutting will be held on Tuesday, November 4 at 9 a.m. Officials from the City of Newton and the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce will be on hand to offer congratulatory remarks. The event will last about 30 minutes.

For more information, call Jared Dyson at 828-994-4337 ext. 200 or email jdyson@dysontravel.com.

Friday, 17 October 2014 14:51

Morganton Man Charged with Felony Vehicle Theft

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29-year-old Samuel Everette Young of Eric Teague Road in Morganton has been arrested by Long View Police for felony larceny of a motor vehicle. He also faces misdemeanor charges in Burke County for breaking & entering and first-degree trespass.

Young was jailed yesterday (October 16) in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $6,000, secured. He had a first appearance in District Court on the larceny charge today in Newton with another court date coming up on November 6. An appearance in Morganton on the misdemeanor charges was set for October 29.

Friday, 17 October 2014 14:41

Two Area Fire Departments Announce Fundraisers

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Two area fire departments have announced upcoming fundraisers. The Grace Chapel Volunteer Fire Department will hold its semi-annual barbecue on Friday & Saturday, October 24 & 25. The Oxford (or Catfish) Volunteer Fire Department will hold its biannual fish fry on Saturday, November 1.

The Grace Chapel event will be held at 4548 Grace Chapel Road in Granite Falls. It will run starting at 5 p.m. on Friday and at 11 a.m. on Saturday until the barbecue is gone.

Oxford’s fish fry will take place at 5688 Oxford School Road beginning at 11 a.m. on November 1. Eat-in and carryout plates will be available with adult and children’s pricing available for those dining at the fire department.

Authorities in Morganton say residents across the state are once again reporting that scammers are calling their homes and threatening to disconnect their utility service. The scammers demand immediate payment over the phone and some scammers are using the names of city employees when they call.

The City of Morganton does not call any electric or water customer by phone demanding payment by money order or pre-paid card. City of Morganton customers who may get behind on their payments will be notified via a city utility bill and city staff will work with customers to set up payment arrangements, if at all possible.

Anyone who receives such a call should not listen to the scammer's instructions, but should hang up immediately and contact the City Electric Department at 828-438-5277 or the Water Department at 828-438-5276. Do not share any personal information with scammers and do not return any phone calls. Several customers have lost hundreds of dollars in related scams.

Public Safety Chief Ronnie Rector said that if residents receive a phone call from a scammer, they can report it to Public Safety by dialing 828-437-1911. If someone shows up at a house in person asking to get into the home, citizens should ask for ID and call City Hall to confirm the person is who they say they are. Call 9-1-1 immediately to report suspicious activity.

Friday, 17 October 2014 13:55

Two Apartment Break-Ins Reported in Boone

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High Country Crime Stoppers and Boone Police are seeking the public’s assistance in solving two separate apartment break-ins at University Highlands.

Items taken include an Xbox One, an Xbox Kinect, two controllers, a 42” LG flatscreen HD TV, a custom-made A.S.U. pillow, several bottles of alcohol, an Xbox “Destiny” game, a PlayStation 4, two PlayStation controllers, a 42” Emerson flatscreen TV and the PlayStation “Call of Duty Ghost” game. The break-ins occurred between 2:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on October 15. Both apartments were unlocked with the residents asleep inside at the time.

Authorities remind the public to always keep their doors locked.

Anyone with information regarding the break-ins should call Crime Stoppers at 828-268-6959 or 828-737-0125 or call Boone Police at 828-268-6900. Tips may also be submitted by clicking here or by texting "NCTIP” plus the tip to 274637 (CRIMES). All information will be kept confidential.

Information leading to arrests, recovery of stolen property, seizure of drugs or the location of wanted persons could result in a cash reward.

Excavation continues on the construction site of the new I-85 weigh station in Gaston County. Crews will temporarily shut down a portion of the interstate Sunday (October 19) to perform a brief blasting operation. The blast will be very similar to the three previous blasts that occurred in late August and early September at the site near Bessemer City.

The blast will go off at 10 a.m. and should last only a few seconds. People standing outside during the blast will likely hear a brief, low rumble, similar to thunder.

A portion of I-85 will be closed down briefly before, during and after the blast to ensure debris from the blast doesn't cause any damage. Crews will begin closing down I-85 near the construction site about 30 minutes before the blast.

For southbound traffic, crews will close the entrance ramp from Exit 13 to I-85 South and pace traffic starting after Exit 14 (N.C. 274). For northbound traffic, both exits from N.C. 74 onto I-85 north at Exit 10 will be closed to traffic. They will pace traffic starting at Exit 8 (N.C. 161) for I-85 North.

When all traffic in both directions on I-85 is clear of the blasting area, then the project contractor will begin the blasting work. After the blasting, the contractor will make sure I-85 is clear of any debris and then traffic will be released to its normal flow. The time required for traffic flow to return to normal will depend on traffic volume in the area.

The project is scheduled for completion in November 2016.

Sandy Ridge American Legion Post 544 will host the 2014 Honoring Veterans Dinner on Saturday, November 1 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. The event will be held in the Life Center at the Sandy Ridge Baptist Church, 3702 16th Street N.E. in Hickory.

Bill Oxford, Chairman of the N.C. American Legion Department’s State Leadership & Development Committee and past N.C. Department Commander, will be the keynote speaker. Entertainment will be provided by Lauren Wasmund, an 11th-grade student from Taylorsville. The Bunker Hill High School JROTC will present the colors and serve dinner.

Veterans, active Military and their spouses will attend as guests. All others pay $6 per plate, at the door. For more information, email srpost544@embarqmail.com.