Archive - News Article
February 21st, 2011
Undetermined homicidal violence killed the 10-year-old disabled girl from Hickory who used hearing aids and wore a prosthetic leg to walk.
A recently released autopsy performed Nov. 12 at Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill revealed Zahra Baker died from unknown violent injuries before her body was dismembered by at least two different cutting instruments.
Editor's note: For complete details from this story, including reporting on autopsy reports and a timeline of events for investigations conducted by departments of social services in Caldwell and Catawba counties, be sure to see the Tuesday print edition of The Observer News Enterprise.
HICKORY, N.C. (AP) â€” More than four months after a 10-year-old disabled girl disappeared, her jailed stepmother was charged with murdering her with the indictment coming the same day authorities revealed that they haven't been able to find the dismembered girl's head.
Walter Ellis knows a lot about black history.
That's not because he studied it in school or perused endless history textbooks.
It's because he lived black history.
Ellis, 88, is a lifelong resident of Catawba County. He's seen the area go through many changes during his lifetime, and he celebrates Black History Month as a way to commemorate those changes and look forward to a future where people have the same opportunities â€” regardless of the color of their skin.
Catawba County wants the world to know it can "start something here."
During Catawba County Chamber of Commerce's annual membership meeting Thursday, business leaders, government officials and educational representatives were introduced to Catawba County's web portal â€” a website linked to all chamber members.
Startsomethinghere.com was unveiled Thursday at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center event after two years of brainstorming and planning.
What kind of impression does Newton leave on residents and visitors as they enter the city?
According to one city council member, nothing too positive.
"Coming down N.C. 16 from Conover, the first thing you see is a house on that corner that looks terrible," Council Mary Bess Lawing said of a residence where used and abandoned child toys and refuse fill the property. "People coming through town, wherever they are coming from, they come in and see dilapidated property or property that needs tender, loving care, and they think, 'What kind of city is this?'"
A recently filed House bill could cut salaries for certain school system leaders, forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for city school superintendents they want to remain on the job.
House Bill 131 was filed Wednesday in the General Assembly proposing that the North Carolina State Board of Education fund one school superintendent per county. For counties, like Catawba County, with more than one school district and superintendent per county, that could mean changes in personnel, unless taxpayers want to pay for superintendents' salaries themselves.
Case goods and upholstery producer Fairmont Designs selected Hickory for a project that will create 200 new jobs during the next four years with a minimum investment of $1.5 million.
Fairmont Designs acquired a former 215,000-square-foot Thomasville Furniture facility, where it will manufacture upholstered furniture.
Fairmont Designs has 25 years of expertise in manufacturing home furnishings and furnishings for the hospitality industry. They have a 200,000-square-foot upholstery plant in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., where they are headquartered.
Catawba County is under a fire weather watch until Saturday night.
The National Weather Service in Greenville-Spartanburg issued the fire weather watch Friday. The watch is in effect for late Saturday morning into early Saturday evening.
A fire weather watch means that critical fire weather may occur and cause a spread of wildfires.
Catawba County residents enjoyed warm, clear weather for the previous week, but that good weather could come at a cost.
On Thursday, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources listed Catawba County as one of 27 North Carolina counties under moderate drought conditions, and continued warm, dry weather could only worsen those conditions.
The National Weather Service forecasts no rain and partially sunny conditions for Newton and the surrounding area during the next seven days. High temperatures are expected to remain in the upper 60s and low 70s.
When it comes to obtaining city services for new homes or rental residences, one Newton landlord says the city's policies aren't fair.
"To get services from the city, you have to pay for all of them. You can't just have electricity, water, sewer or solid waste pick-up â€”Â you have to have all of them or you can't get any," said Newton resident Tom Dixon.
Further every city water customer is billed for at least 3,000 gallons of water usage, regardless of how much water they actually consume.