News: Local News

Jul. 03, 2014 @ 08:19 AM

Flamboyant, eccentric Willard Blevins dies

You didn't have to know Willard Lee Blevins' name to know who he was.

Blevins was the person everyone had seen walking local streets dressed as Superman, Batman, a gorilla, Elvis Presley, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Spiderman, an Indian, Johnny Cash or Cher, to name several.

“He was the legend of Caldwell County,” said Mary Greene, Blevins’ lifelong friend, who also was his caretaker in the latter years of his life.


Jul. 03, 2014 @ 06:31 AM

Hurricane will bring relief from heat

You weren't suffering from blurred vision Wednesday, and there wasn't a forest fire anywhere filling Caldwell County's air with smoke.

That was just a thick haze of ground-layer ozone, said meteorologist Neil Dixon from the National Weather Services in Greenville, S.C.


Jul. 02, 2014 @ 11:19 AM

School board shuffles principals

Caldwell County Schools will see a game of musical chairs involving a few of their principals.

At Monday’s Board of Education work session, the board unanimously approved the appointment of Chris Ackerman as the new principal of Oak Hill School.


Jul. 02, 2014 @ 11:18 AM

Cajah’s Mountain is cleaning up... literally

In a continued effort to make Cajah’s Mountain’s town hall more hospitable and functional, interim town manager Jim Chandler urged the town council Tuesday to look at hiring regular cleaning services.


Jul. 02, 2014 @ 11:16 AM

Embracing the mad scientist within

Liquid oozed. Soda exploded. Balloons floated around the room. On Tuesday afternoon, the Lenoir branch of the Caldwell County Public Library became a laboratory for young mad scientists.

As part of the Fizz, Boom, Read Children’s Summer Reading program, the library’s youth services staff set up several tables with different activities that allowed kids to experiment and tap into their inner scientist.


Jul. 02, 2014 @ 08:51 AM

More Caldwell County residents rejoin workforce

The number of Caldwell County residents looking for work surged in May by about 300, so the local unemployment rate rose even though the number of people with jobs went up by more than 100, according to figures released Tuesday by the N.C. Department of Commerce.


Jul. 02, 2014 @ 08:21 AM

Bridge nears completion

People who regularly drive on U.S. 321-A south of Hudson should have to take a detour only for another few weeks, the N.C. Department of Transportation said.


Jul. 02, 2014 @ 08:09 AM

Campers trade vacation for volunteerism

Nearly two years ago Lee Laney, 79, suffered a heart attack and now struggles to walk due to poor blood circulation, so he was in dire need of a wheelchair ramp to get in and out of his house.

Thanks to a faith-based volunteer agency called Carolina Cross Connection, Laney will get his wheelchair ramp.


Jul. 01, 2014 @ 08:34 AM

Will bad news motivate voters?

Turnout in a one-race runoff election in the summer normally is expected to be light, and even recent news about the candidates in this month's runoff for district attorney may not be enough to affect the turnout, a Caldwell County elections official said.


Jul. 01, 2014 @ 08:13 AM

Lenoir puts spotlight on musical heritage

By late summer, local residents should see tangible evidence of Lenoir's efforts to capitalize on its musical heritage: a historical marker to tell visitors what happened here.

Doc Watson, Etta Baker and Pop Ferguson, all greats in traditional music, have one thing in common – a deep connection with Lenoir.


Jun. 30, 2014 @ 05:20 PM

Exela purchases land on Morganton Boulevard

Lenoir-based pharmaceutical company Exela Pharma Sciences recently bought two adjoining properties on Morganton Boulevard, a total of 9.48 acres, for just over $1 million.


Jun. 30, 2014 @ 02:36 PM

Lenoir's downtown Wi-Fi down for upgrades

The City of Lenoir downtown Wi-Fi is down today and tomorrow for upgrades, according to Lenoir Communications and Resource Director Kaye Reynolds.

The upgrades are being paid for by Google, which gave the city just under $100,000 for updates including a separate internet fiber solely for the wireless service, a new wireless controller and replacement of the 13 access points across the downtown district.


Jun. 30, 2014 @ 09:25 AM

Amateur Radio Club competes in 2014 Field Day

Hudson’s Redwood Park was much more than a gathering space Saturday, and will be into this afternoon, alive with the sounds of radio static, the quick, intermittent beeping of Morse code, and precise radio call signs sounding from the pavilion and reaching around the globe.


Jun. 29, 2014 @ 08:13 AM

Text messages from district attorney could have been faked

District Attorney Jay Gaither has raised the possibility that some of the inflammatory text messages cited in a sexual harassment lawsuit against him could have been fabricated.

That is entirely possible and "very simple to do," said Larry Daniel, digital forensic examiner and cellular analyst with Raleigh-based Guardian Digital Forensics. "You can create an entire string of text messages. You can Google how to do it."


Jun. 29, 2014 @ 06:27 AM

Town employees hurt by health insurance costs

The Town of Hudson’s 2014-15 budget will increase sanitation fees, have town employees help pay for their health insurance and complete the 10-year park improvement plan, Town Manager Rebecca Bentley said.

The budget, which was unanimously approved on June 17, has total revenue and expenditures at just over $2.5 million. The property tax rate was not increased, but sanitation fee went from $5 to $7.50 a month.


Jun. 29, 2014 @ 06:26 AM

Beekeepers know the buzz

There's a reason beekeeper suits are white, as a photographer in a black shirt learned when he approached Gary Jones’s beehives last week to snap a photo.

As the photographer inched closer, one of the bees got caught in the fine white wisps of hair on his head. The photographer quickly brushed him off, and the bee charged -- right at the photographer’s nose.


Jun. 27, 2014 @ 08:35 AM

Two called 'large-scale' meth dealers

Two Caldwell County men were accused of having nearly a pound of crystal methamphetamine in Ashe County Monday evening.


Jun. 27, 2014 @ 08:11 AM

Lawyers say Whisnant can't go to trial

A man accused of bludgeoning to death his girlfriend can't face the death penalty, a judge ruled Thursday, and his lawyers now say he doesn't have the mental capacity to stand trial.


Jun. 27, 2014 @ 08:11 AM

SUV sought in hit-and-run

A dark-green SUV struck a moped Tuesday evening and seriously injured one of two people riding it, but the SUV's driver never stopped, the N.C. Highway Patrol said.


Jun. 27, 2014 @ 08:46 AM

District Attorney Jay Gaither accused of sexual harassment

District Attorney James C. Gaither is accused in a civil suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court of sexually harassing a young assistant district attorney over a three-month period in 2013.

Gaither said late Thursday afternoon that the woman, Whitney Nicole Shaffer of Hendersonville, was fired for sleeping with a local defense attorney and is trying to retaliate against him.


Jun. 26, 2014 @ 08:20 AM

Sammy Sturgill did not come for fight

Relatives of Sammy William Sturgill say he didn't just show up at Bobby Dean Sparks' house on Bradford Street -- he was asked to come, several times, in recent days.


Jun. 25, 2014 @ 08:10 AM

Family homeless, dog killed

Twice on Monday, Charles Barrett thought he had extinguished a fire that flared up between a bedroom and the kitchen inside his family's mobile home off Windsong Circle. But the fire flared up a third time about 9 p.m.


Jun. 26, 2014 @ 09:27 AM

Dispute over woman behind killing, family says

Sammy William Sturgill died early Tuesday at the home of the man who recently married Sturgill's ex-girlfriend while Sturgill was in jail.

Lenoir police haven't released many details about what they think happened, but family members of Bobby Dean Sparks, 62, of 1609 Bradford St., who is charged with first-degree murder in Sturgill's death, say they think the marriage of Sparks to Teresa Lynn Hall, 41, was what brought Sturgill to Sparks' house.


Jun. 25, 2014 @ 07:39 AM

WrapAround kids learn the importance of farming

“I’ve got cucumbers!” shrieked a young boy who is part of the Caldwell WrapAround program, holding his plastic bag of cucumbers high in the air as he streaked across the grass. He wasn't the only one among about 200 students visiting the Sawmills Farmers Market who were excited as they bustled from vendor to vendor to buy produce and crafts just like adults. They perused carrots, cumcumbers, squash, peaches and more, picking out the perfect ones to bring home for dinner.


Jun. 25, 2014 @ 06:48 AM

Cloudy 'Fun in the Sun' still a success

Young school children raced between the craft booths along the sidewalk at the Granite Falls branch of the Caldwell County Public Library under dark, foreboding clouds at Tuesday's "Fun in the Sun" event.