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CLAREMONT (AP) â€” The unexplained death of a 10-year-old disabled girl is weighing on the minds of students at a North Carolina middle school and leading them to collect toys for their underprivileged peers.
Students at River Bend Middle School have collected more than 800 stuffed animals in memory of Zahra Baker, who like them lived in Catawba County.
The stuffed animals will be given to police in Conover and Hickory on Monday for distribution to children who are needy or whose parents are in jail.
North Carolina policy makers could be forced to close a multibillion-dollar gap in the state budget, passing on their shortfalls to county governments.
The state faces a $3.5 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2011-12 because of the continually weak economy, the end of federal aid and the expiration of the temporary tax package, said Alexandra Forter Sirota, of the N.C. Tax and Budget Center.
The final state general fund budget for FY 2010-11 was about $18.9 billion.
The city of Claremont has a population of about 1,100 people.
At the end of the Pierre Foods expansion, the facility in Claremont will employ more than 1,200 people. This means that Pierre Foods could use every city resident to operate its facility on East Main Street.
Pierre Foods employs 717 people currently, and an ongoing expansion project will bring an additional 500 jobs in two years.
In 102 minutes, Carl Cline's life changed forever.
Cline, 67, of Newton, experienced a life-threatening heart attack. If it was not for his emergency phone call, he might not have survived.
When Cline started to feel pain, he called 9-1-1 and an ambulance was at his house in 2.5 minutes.
"It was like clock work," Cline said, of the EMS responders who assisted his medical condition. "I had (the heart attack) at the 87th minute."
Capital murder charges remain a possibility for the Hickory woman jailed on charges she interfered with the investigation into her stepdaughter's death.
The District Attorney's Office released a statement Tuesday about the case after several media outlets reported this weekend that Elisa Baker made a deal with prosecutors to receive life imprisonment, instead of the death penalty, in exchange for reliable information leading to the recovery of 10-year-old Zahra Baker's body.
Those reports, according to the District Attorney's Office, are false.
The county is another step closer to having a new and improved Justice Center in Newton.
County commissioners approved design plans Monday for the structure and allowed planners to proceed with the project's schematic design.
Commissioners decided to move forward with four design concepts for the Justice Center, including combining two projects into one, choosing a two-wing building design instead of a front expansion, adding shelled space for future expansion and a parking deck and submitting a master plan of the project to the city of Newton.
North Carolina drivers' college-themed or other decorative license plate frames could cost them $100 in fines.
A North Carolina law banning license plate frames took effect a year ago, but starting Dec. 1, violators can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor for obstructing their license plate.
A Charlotte man pleaded guilty to murdering a Conover couple.
Frederick Sylvester Hedgepeth, 25, pleaded guilty to the murder of Jerry Bullin, 72,Â and his wife, Joanne, 70,Â on Monday. He was sentenced to two life sentences for the murders.
Earlier this year, Hedgepeth was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon involving the couple's deaths.
According to officials, the Bullins drove from their Conover home to Salisbury on June 2 to show Hedgepeth a 2009 Honda Accord that he wanted to purchase from the couple.
Catawba County's new sheriff took his oath of office Monday, surrounded by family, friends and members of the law enforcement community.
Coy Reid officially became sheriff Monday at the Catawba County Board of Commissioners meeting, as former Sheriff David Huffman watched from the audience.
"It's something that I've wanted to do for a long time now," Reid said of his bid for sheriff. "It's a goal that I had, and I accomplished it. Now I just want to accomplish it the right way and do the right thing for the people."
Several elected officials took oaths of office Monday as they officially embarked on their new leadership roles.
Elected county commissioners and a soil and water conservation district supervisor were sworn into office at the Catawba County Board of Commissioners meeting at the 1924 Courthouse in downtown Newton.