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January 5th, 2011

City applies for park grant

January 5, 2011

Claremont will apply for a grant worth more than $130,000 to improve and expand the city's Francis Sigman Park.

The North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant will pay for up to $140,281 for improvements to the park, if the city's application is accepted.

Henry Helton, who is in charge of the Claremont's public relations, presented possible expansion and improvement ideas to City Council on Monday at its regularly scheduled meeting.

"We've got this facility," Helton said. "Let's use it to the fullest capacity."

4th grader wins CCS bee

January 5, 2011

Catawba County Schools has a new way to spell winner: K-a-m-i-n-s-k-i.
Blackburn Elementary School fourth-grader Brandon Kaminski, 9, won the system's 2010-11 district spelling bee, which was held Wednesday at Maiden High School.

Kaminski out-spelled 20 students from the county's elementary and middle schools. Every student participating in Wednesday's bee was the winner of their respective school's spelling bee.

"I just really like (spelling), because it gives me the opportunity to do something that no one else in my school has done recently," Kaminski said.

Council approves Pierre incentives

January 5, 2011

Claremont City Council approved incentives aimed at the creation and retention of jobs in the city and surrounding area.

Council members unanimously accepted economic incentives with Advance Pierre Foods on Monday at Claremont's monthly council meeting.

The agreement provides tax incentives equal to 80 percent reduction in property taxes during the next five years and comes with the stipulation that Advance Pierre Foods must create and keep 500 new jobs at the company's Claremont production facility.

Saarstedt to create 20 new jobs

January 5, 2011

Newton to deliver incentives in exchange for $14.2 million expansion project, job creation

Saarstedt investment: $14.2 million
Newton incentive grants: $228K
Incentive amount per job created: $11,418 or $11K+

During the next five years, Newton will provide up to $228,366 in economic grant incentives to Saarstedt Inc., as the supplier of medical instruments and disposables plans to create 20 new jobs.

"Saarstedt is one of our most valuable corporate citizens," said Newton Mayor Robert Mullinax. "Hopefully this will be a boost for us for the coming year."

January 4th

Man arraigned in Travis Baker murder

January 4, 2011

The man accused of murdering a Catawba County teen was arraigned Tuesday in court.

John Lee Mitchell, 48, is charged with murdering Travis Lee Baker, 19, who was reported missing in 2007.

Mitchell's attorney, Lisa Dubs, was present for the arraignment, which is the formal reading of a criminal complaint against a defendant. Mitchell is in Catawba County jail with no bond.

Investigators combed the county for signs of Baker or his red Camaro, and the teen's remains were located in June 2009 on a property in Catawba County.

Ex-treasurer's case continued

January 4, 2011

The Hickory woman accused of stealing money from an elementary school organization had her case continued in court.

Holly Lafone Specht, 30, is charged with stealing money from the Webb A. Murray Elementary School's Parent Teacher Organization when she served as the organization's treasurer during the 2008-09 school year.

Specht was scheduled to appear in Catawba County Superior Court on Tuesday, but her attorney, Mark Killian, appeared in her place.

Specht's attorney requested the case be continued, so he could obtain evidence relating to the investigation from third parties.

Inconsistencies emerge in Zahra case

January 4, 2011

New details emerged Tuesday in the Zahra Baker case, revealing inconsistencies in accounts provided by key players in the investigation.

According to recently unsealed search warrants, Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, told police her stepdaughter died Sept. 24. Elisa Baker said Zahra's father, Adam Baker, then dismembered the child and scattered her remains the next day in various locations in Caldwell and Catawba counties, including Christie Road in Hudson and the Dudley Shoals Road/Burns Road areas.

Fire at mall closes store

January 4, 2011

An electrical malfunction led to a fire at Valley Hills Mall on Tuesday morning.
Hickory Fire Department responded to an activated fire alarm at 5:05 a.m. Tuesday at the mall, 1960 U.S. 70 SE. Even though no smoke was seen from the outside of the mall, firefighters were let into the building by a security guard. The guard confirmed he smelled smoke inside the mall.
After searching the mall, firefighters saw smoke and water coming from the Hot Topic store on the mall's lower level. Firefighters forced entry into the store and found smoke in Hot Topic's storage area.

29 more warrants released in Zahra's case

January 4, 2011

A judge released 29 more warrants Tuesday in the Zahra Baker murder investigation.
The warrants total 200 pages and include information from Hickory Police's search for the missing 10-year-old Australian native.
Check The O-N-E's Wednesday edition for details uncovered in the warrants.

Burke pleads guilty

January 4, 2011

A Newton man was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

Jonathan Caleb Burke, 31, of Newton, was charged with reckless driving, felony hit and run and second-degree murder after he hit and killed Tammy Wallis, 29, of Newton. Wallis was killed as she walked to her mailbox in September 2008.

Burke was offered a plea agreement that consolidated his reckless driving and felony hit-and-run charges into the second-degree murder charge.

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