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Arson, assault charged after house burned

GRANITE FALLS – A domestic argument over a set of keys Wednesday night led the to assault of a Granite Falls woman, the fiery destruction of a three-floor rooming house and the arrest of the woman’s husband on assault and arson charges, local authorities stated.
Samuel John Hendrix, 47, of 5076 Dalton Place, Granite Falls, was arrested Wednesday night and charged with assault on a female and felony first-degree arson.
According to an incident report written by Lt. David Anderson of the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department, Granite Falls police officers Chris Robinson and Larry Rogers were the first law enforcement officers to arrive on the scene at approximately 8:47 p.m. Wednesday and found the rooming house on Dalton Place fully involved in fire.
Robinson asked Hendrix, who was standing outside the house he owned, how the fire started and the suspect reportedly admitted to starting the blaze. Hendrix told Robinson he poured gasoline down the chimney to start the fire, stated Anderson.
A Hendrix family member, who was salvaging what he could from the gutted house Thursday afternoon, said that Hendrix poured 10 gallons of gasoline down the chimney.
Caldwell County Fire Marshal Dale Coffey said there were four people inside the house when Hendrix allegedly started the fire. One man was forced to climb out of a window to escape the blaze, he said.
Coffey said Hendrix was charged with first-degree arson because the house was occupied. A conviction for first-degree arson is punishable by a sentence of 38 to 183 months in a state prison.
A prior criminal record for Hendrix includes a charge of taking indecent liberties (fondling) with a minor. That charge was dismissed in 1991 in exchange for a guilty plea of contributing to the abuse of a juvenile. Hendrix received a 24-month suspended sentence and three years probation.
Before starting the fire, Hendrix allegedly assaulted his wife, Faith Renee Hendrix, by hitting her in eye and throwing her to the ground several times. Rogers found the woman standing near the residence with her children. Anderson stated that she told Rogers about the altercation but did not know how the fire got started.

Citizens invited to help in downtown revitalization

LENOIR – Citizens of Lenoir are invited to help plan the revitalization of a portion of downtown Lenoir.
A public Design Charette, or meeting, will be held Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. or longer, if necessary, at the City-County Chambers at the Caldwell County Offices, 905 West Avenue in Lenoir.
“The purpose of this charette will be to involve interested citizens in the design of this first phase of the downtown Lenoir renovation, which will include new streetscape improvements, new building placements, existing building renovations, outdoor gathering areas and building facade renovations,” said Roger Dahnert of Woolpert Associates of Charlotte.
The city of Lenoir in July approved a $49,406 contract with the private consulting firm, Woolpert Associates to develop a master plan for revitalization of a two-and-a-half block area of downtown Lenoir. The area is bordered by West Street, College Avenue, Church Street and Boundary Street and encompasses a portion of Harper Avenue. The area is basically from the county office building to the Blackweilder Hospital.
The study is being paid for with Community Development Block Grant Entitlement funding the city of Lenoir receives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The design team of Woolpert Associates will be coordinating the meeting and will be available for questions and comments.
The participants will be asked to offer suggestions, test different ideas, develop a program for area uses and participate in the actual design process for the downtown renovation.
“We want to invite everyone to attend the charette and “be a part of the process for the improvement of downtown Lenoir,” Dehnart said. “It will be fun and interesting.”
Woolpert Associates has already begun working on a plan for Lenoir’s downtown revitalization. The firm recently interviewed 48 people, including city council members, city staff and downtown business owners and property owners.
“We interviewed a good cross section of people,” Dehnart said. “We were very pleased. Everyone was excited about the possibilities for downtown revitalization. We got some good ideas.”
The firm will develop an overall master plan for the area using citizens’ input and other data. The plan could include zoning or zoning overlay recommendations, Dehnart said. The master plan and recommendations will be presented to the Main Street Advisory Committee and the city council for approval.

School rating system complicated

LENOIR – How can a school that raises its percentage of students at grade level to become a school of distinction still not be able to meet the state expectations for growth?
It is all in the way the state’s growth formula figures it.
The ABCs of Education growth expectation rates are obtained for each school using a complex series of formulas that use a variety of state and local information sources. Results were released two weeks ago and each school was assessed based on the standards set by the program.
There is one scale that rates performance standards, based on the percentage of students above grade average. If 90 percent of the school’s students are above grade average the school is a school of excellence, if 80 percent of the students are above grade average it is a school of distinction and if 50 percent of the students are below grade average it is a low performing school.
In the ABCs program there is another scale that uses a formula to find expected growth for schools in the system. There are four separate categories in the program, exemplary growth/gain, expected growth/gain and low performing schools.
These different types of categories use a formula to obtain an expected growth for each individual school, and based on that growth estimate and their actual growth they are placed into a category. Those that exceed the expected growth are exemplary, those that meet it are expected, those that don’t but almost do are in the no recognition category. Schools that fall far below expectations are considered low performing.
The formula takes several factors into consideration, including the school’s previous performance, the statewide average growth and statistical adjustments which are needed, when comparing one year with another.
“I think that the ABCs are a pretty accurate assessment of the things that it tests,” Caldwell County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom McNeel said. “It was designed to be an assessment of the state mandated curriculum. In my experience it is the most accurate test in quality assessment that North Carolina has ever had in its history and probably better than any other state’s tests.”
Lenoir’s Davenport Elementary School last year met the exemplary status and the expected status, while this year the school did not meet either one, despite experiencing a 5.4 percent increase in the students who performed above grade level. The 5.4 percent increase actually made the school a school of distinction when it was not one last year.
Meanwhile, the Lower Creek Elementary School experienced only a .5 percent increase and not only met the expected growth for the school but exceeded it, making it an exemplary school.
The state actually uses a combination of three different formulas to find the expected growth. These formulas use the student’s previous scores from the last year, the state averages for the grade and the statewide average score improvement during the same period. The formulas also use the average percentage rate of improvement to find the expected growth for the school.
For more information about the ABCs of Education contact the Caldwell County School Board at 728-8407 or check the N.C. Public Schools Web site.

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