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January 21st, 2011

Be debt-free in the new year

January 21, 2011

The Christmas holidays ended almost a month ago, and though the gifts remain, so do the bills.

Many people face large amounts of debt following the economic downturn, the collapse of the housing market and holiday overspending.

Area debt experts said the first step to being debt-free is to use the right debt-assistance services.

Some companies offer programs to rid people of their debt, but in the end, the fees charged by the company cause those in need to sink deeper and deeper into debt.

Briefcase most likely not linked to Zahra

January 21, 2011

What could have been a significant piece of evidence in the Zahra Baker case is now, most likely, a dead end.

Hickory Police Maj. Clyde Deal said Friday that a briefcase and blanket found Tuesday in Caldwell County probably isn't related to the 10-year-old disabled girl's death.

"We're looking into it, but it's not at the top of the list, because it's more than likely not related to the case," Deal said.

January 20th

Team works to prevent child deaths

January 20, 2011

Twenty-three Catawba County children died in 2009-10. Although that's a relatively low number compared to years past, it's a number county leaders want to see continually decreasing.

Catawba County's Child Protection/Child Fatality Team compiles statistics and information about each child's death in Catawba County, whether it be from a long-term illness or a motor vehicle crash.

"We talk about what happened and what we can do better," said Jennifer McCracken, of the Child Fatality Team.

Perdue opposes privatization

January 20, 2011

Gov. Bev Perdue said Thursday she opposes privatization of the state's liquor sales, which is the announcement county leaders hoped for.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution in December opposing efforts to privatize the state- and locally controlled system, and the county manager's office also voiced its opposition.

Perdue spoke Thursday at the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) annual legislative conference in Durham and told county leaders she thought privatization wasn't the right option for North Carolina.

Goals spark Board debate

January 20, 2011

Commissioners adopted state and federal legislative goals for Catawba County in preparation for the General Assembly's next session, which starts Wednesday.

The Board of Commissioners adopts state and federal legislative agendas annually to highlight issues important to the county and its residents.

Proposed agendas were developed in collaboration with major county agencies, including the county's three school systems, the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, Catawba County Economic Development Corporation, Western Piedmont Council of Governments and county municipalities.

Convenience could come at a price

January 20, 2011

Improved customer service and convenience could come to Newton utility bill payers, but if it does, it will come at a price.

Newton City Council is considering plans to create an electronic bill payment option for city utility customers. Proposals introduced this week could give citizens the option of making bill payments online, in person at city hall with credit and debit cards, or both.

January 19th

Board approves incentives

January 19, 2011

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners approved an incentives package Tuesday for a Claremont manufacturing facility.

Commissioners entered into a joint economic agreement with Germany-based Poppelmann Plastics that gives the company incentives based on 67 percent of the increased tax on the company's Phase II facility, which is a 53,000-square-foot warehouse, for five years. The maximum grant total is $28,676 a year or $143,380 total.

Newton gets budget surprise

January 19, 2011

When Newton leaders created a spending plan last summer, they hoped $250,000 would be enough money to fix one storm sewer culvert in the city.

On Tuesday city leaders learned that their budgeted sum won't fix one culvert on Ashe Avenue.

It will fix three.

In addition to addressing a crumbling culvert on North Ashe Avenue, Newton leaders approved construction and financing plans that will also replace culverts on North Frye Avenue and East 18th Street, as well.

Touching the future

January 19, 2011

Michael Neely is no fortune teller, but he works in the future on a daily basis.

Instead of gazing into a crystal ball, he peers at a computer screen, a digital sign or an iPad and accesses the future with a swipe of his finger.

The time of immediately accessible, completely customizable knowledge isn't far into the future, and if you ask Neely, he'll tell you the future is now.

"It's not so futuristic anymore," said Neely, 46, founder and owner of Blind Squirrel Digital in Newton.

Financial scams target needy

January 19, 2011

Some experts say the country's economy is on the road to recovery.

But as long as there are people facing financial problems, there will be scammers who seek to take advantage of those in need.

"Before Christmas and during hard times or disasters, people seem to be more generous," said Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid. "And you see scams pop up then."

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper advises state residents to be on the lookout for financial scams, especially during times of financial hardship.

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