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Archive - 2011 - News Article

December 6th

School leader to retire

December 6, 2011

Catawba County Schools Superintendent Glenn Barger will retire at the end of the school year — again.

Barger previously retired as superintendent in 2000 after holding the post for 10 years. He rejoined the county system as interim superintendent Oct. 1, 2010, and assumed the full-time position in late February of this year.

"I told the school board Monday night I plan to go back into retirement at the beginning of this school year, effective July 1," Barger said.

Catawba teen's murderer sentenced

December 6, 2011

The man who killed a 19-year-old Catawba teenager in 2007 will spend at least 12 years in prison.

John Lee Mitchell pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the April 2007 death of Travis Baker and two other charges on Tuesday in Catawba County court. He will serve a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

The Travis Baker case, which began as a missing person case in 2007, turned into a homicide investigation after his bullet-riddled skull and other remains were found under a lumber pile off Eulalia Lane near Catawba in June 2009.

Victim's family shares suffering

December 6, 2011

Dewayne Baker stood up in Catawba County Courtroom No. 2 on Tuesday and faced his son’s murderer.

Holding two sheets of notebook paper scribbled with red ink, he locked eyes with John Lee Mitchell, the 48-year-old man who shot his son, Travis, to death more than four years ago.

“Mr. Mitchell, I stand here today to speak for someone that can’t,” Baker said, continuing to speak about his son’s loving personality as a brother, uncle, grandson and father. “You shot our son to death…Our life will never be the same.”

Wells to seek Hilton's N.C. House seat

December 6, 2011

In the wake of N.C. Rep. Mark Hilton's decision to not seek re-election, one would-be candidate has stepped forward to try to fill his seat representing the state's 96th House District.

In a Tuesday afternoon email to The O-N-E, the Hickory Metro real estate developer Andy Wells announced his decision to seek Hilton's seat. The seat for North Carolina's 96th district is up for election in November 2012, and filing begins in February. That district includes much of western Catawba County, including Conover, Mountain View, but it does not include Hickory.

Murderer to serve 12-15 years

December 6, 2011

The man who killed a 19-year-old Catawba teenager in 2007 will spend at least 12 years in prison.

John Lee Mitchell, the Florida man who killed 19-year-old Catawba native Travis Baker in April 2007, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Tuesday in Catawba County Court. Mitchell will spend a maximum of 15 years in N.C. Department of Correction.

The Travis Baker case, which began as a missing person case in 2007, turned into a homicide investigation after his bullet-riddled skull and other remains were found in a lumber pile off Eulalia Lane near Catawba in June 2009.

Conover Christmas event canceled

December 6, 2011

Conover has canceled its annual Christmas in the Park event due to a forecast for heavy rain Tuesday evening.

The event will not be rescheduled, according to a release from the city.

Hilton won't seek re-election

December 6, 2011

N.C. Rep. Mark Hilton won't seek a seventh term in the N.C. House, and he said the decision was driven by a desire to spend more time with his family — not by growing suspicions surrounding loans he received from an economic development company operated by a fellow legislator.

"The time has come for me to spend more time with my family," he said.

"When I first got elected, I wasn't married, and I had no children.

Since then, me and my wife have been procreating and having children biannually. We have three and we are going to stop there."

The O-N-E Morning Read: Tuesday, Dec. 6

December 6, 2011

The colors of the holiday season are on full display in greenhouses throughout the Catawba County Schools system - and they’re on display in The O-N-E, too.

Be sure to get a copy of the Tuesday O-N-E for photos and stories about area high school students’ efforts to grow poinsettias - and their experience. Readers will also find out how to support this learning initiative - while adding holiday color to their homes - in The O-N-E’s coverage online, http://www.observernewsonline.com/content/sales-support-students.

December 5th

Sewer project progresses

December 5, 2011

County officials are moving along with a sewer project that they say will benefit three Catawba County Schools and more than 20 residences.

The Bunker Hill/ Oxford Sewer Project will provide municipal sewer service to Bunker Hill High School, Oxford Elementary School and River Bend Middle School, in addition to about 20 homes in the area.

On Monday, county commissioners agreed to award the bid for construction to Neill Grading and Construction Company, of Hickory.

The total project will cost about $1.9 million, with construction costing about $1.5 million.

Sales support students

December 5, 2011

Students at three Catawba County high schools are trading holiday decorations in exchange for more learning opportunities.

Bandys, St. Stephens and Bunker Hill high school classes are selling poinsettias to support their greenhouse programs.

Students have learned about the plants and how they grow, and the community can now purchase the products of those lessons.

"It gives the kids an opportunity to see how to grow the crops," said Shannon Vanhoy, an agriculture and horticulture teacher at Bandys.

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