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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.

Friday, 17 October 2014 11:02

First Responders in Iredell County Rescue Swimmer

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First responders in Iredell County recently rescued a swimmer in distress. At 8:49 last Saturday evening (October 11), Iredell County Communications took a call regarding a person swimming in the lake near Greyfriairs Road in Mooresville. Deputy Patrick Irwin from the county’s Community Oriented Police (COPS) unit responded and spoke with the caller who said a man swam up to him and asked which way did he need to go to swim to Denver.

The caller said the man then got back into the lake and swam away. Deputy John Fletcher and Deputy Justin Carroll arrived and all three Deputies began looking in the water, but were unable to see the swimmer from the shore. The Deputies went to surrounding houses on the waterfront in an attempt to locate the man, but were unsuccessful.

Lt. Doyle Summers arrived and contacted Lake Patrol Officer Matt Burleyson and Lake Norman Fire & Rescue. Two boats were launched and began to search the area. By that time, the swimmer had been in the water for over four hours.

As the search continued, Deputy Burleyson heard someone yelling. The Deputy went toward the voice and found the man in the middle of the lake, treading water. Lake Norman Fire & Rescue came to Deputy Burleyson's location and was able to secure the man on their boat. The swimmer was identified as 37-year-old Michael Allen Vercio of Denver.

Iredell County E.M.S. checked Vercio's vital signs and checked him for any injuries. Vercio's body temperature and dropped to dangerously low levels. E.M.S. personnel say if Vercio had stayed in the water any longer, he might not have survived.

After he was cleared by E.M.S., Deputy Irwin escorted Vercio to another location where he was released to his parents’ custody.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday (October 20) in the 1924 Courthouse at 30 North College Avenue in Newton.

The Board will hold a public hearing on a request to rezone four parcels totaling approximately 17.31 acres on Botanical Drive in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning District from residential general industrial. A second hearing will be held on a request to amend the County Zoning Overlay Map to declassify the Maiden Creek and Allen Creek Watersheds in response to the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission’s action to declassify those watershed areas.

The Board will also consider adopting the proposed 2015 Schedule of Values, a set of standards and rules created following the study of the county’s current real estate market which, after final approval by the Board, will be used as an appraisal manual to set property values, effective January 1, 2015.

The Board will consider entering into an agreement with Burke County regarding the closing of the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility that would set forth provisions for the termination of the operating agreement for the jail.

The Board will consider using the sole source exemption, allowed under State law when a needed item is available from only one source, for the purchase of an access control system for the Justice Center/Public Safety expansion.

The Board will also issue a report on the attainment of its goals for fiscal year 2013/2014, which ended on June 30 of this year. In addition, a team of county telecommunicators will be presented with the National Emergency Number Association’s Communications Team of the Year Award.

24-year-old Brandon Andrew Norkett has been arrested by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers on charges of felony breaking & entering and larceny after breaking & entering.

On September 19, the Sheriff’s Office took a report regarding a B&E and larceny at a house on Elmwood Road. The home owner said approximately $2,100 in property was taken, including televisions, Sound Bars, a PlayStation 3, a Blu-ray player, various movies and PlayStation 3 games. Deputies processed the scene and spoke to neighbors in the area.

Det. Sgt. Wesley Gregory obtained information regarding a possible suspect, Brandon Norkett. The Detective was told that a TV had been sold to a family member for $500. He also learned that Norkett was staying on Kayla Lane in Statesville where some of the stolen items were stored in an outbuilding on the property.

Det. Sgt. Gregory recovered the TV, 126 movies and the sound bar, valued at approximately $1,350. Those items were returned to the owner. An attempt to locate Norkett was unsuccessful and warrants were issued for his arrest.

Norkett was found and arrested on October 13 at a home on Trailways Drive in Statesville. His bond was set at $5,000, secured. District Court appearances were set for today (October 17) and November 3 in Statesville.

Norkett is also a suspect in a financial transaction card theft case, currently under investigation by the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office. The investigations are ongoing with additional charges likely.

Friday, 17 October 2014 06:55

Rehabilitation to Begin on Conover Bridge

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The N.C. Department of Transportation is working to extend the life of bridges throughout Division 12, and improvement work will begin in the coming week on a Catawba County bridge on Old N.C. 16 over U.S. 70.

Within the next week, motorists will begin to see crews from project contractor Astron General Contracting performing sandblasting and painting the bridge, located near Conover. The bridge was built in 1947.

Rehabilitating an existing bridge instead of replacing it helps to extend the life of the bridge while stretching taxpayer dollars and improving more bridges, faster.

The bridge rehabilitation work will require lane closures, at times, on Old N.C. 16 and U.S. 70.

The work will take several weeks to complete and is weather-dependent.

This rehabilitation project is part of a $4.4 million contract to improve 19 bridges in Division 12: four in Catawba County, seven in Cleveland County, three in Gaston County, three in Iredell County and two in Lincoln County.

For more details about North Carolina's bridges, visit the NCDOT's bridge information website.

Friday, 17 October 2014 06:51

Komen Race for the Cure Tomorrow at Lenoir-Rhyne

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The 15th Annual Susan G. Komen N.C. Foothills Race for the Cure will be held in Hickory tomorrow (October 18). The One Mile Fun Run & Walk is set to begin at 8:10 a.m. The 5K Race & Walk will start at 9 a.m.

The event will take place at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Registration is still open. Those wishing to participate may register online or in person on the day of the event. For more information, visit www.komenncfoothills.org.

Proceeds benefit the fight against breast cancer.

High Country Crime Stoppers and Boone Police are seeking the public’s assistance regarding a larceny at the Wal-Mart store in Boone.

At about 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 16, Boone Police responded to the Wal-Mart store at 200 Watauga Village Drive. A male suspect ran into the parking lot after he was confronted by management. He left the area in a blue Ford F-150 pickup truck driven by Crystal Gail Taylor, who was charged with misdemeanor aiding & abetting larceny. Taylor would say only that the suspect’s first name is Tim. The suspect is thought to frequent the Hunger Coalition.

Anyone with information regarding the larceny 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 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.