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January 4th, 2011

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.

January 3rd

More questions in Zahra's case

January 3, 2011

Nine residents were selected Monday who could potentially determine the outcome of an investigation into the death and disappearance of Zahra Baker.

Superior Court Judge Robert C. Ervin presided over the selection Monday of new members of the Catawba County Grand Jury. It's these people who determine if there's reasonable cause to charge someone in connection with Zahra's death.

Burke appears in court

January 3, 2011

The man accused of killing a woman with his vehicle and leaving the scene of the crash was in court Monday.

Jonathan Caleb Burke, 31, of Newton, appeared in Catawba County District Court on charges of injury to real property and a motions violation.

Burke is charged with felony death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired and reckless driving to endanger after he allegedly struck and killed Tamara Wallis, of Newton, as she stood outside her home on N.C. 16 in September 2008.

Tax deadline approaches

January 3, 2011

Residents have a couple more days to pay their taxes without having interest added to their bills for delinquent payments.

The deadline for residents' tax payments is Wednesday.

Catawba County tax administrator Mark Logan said more people paid their tax bills as the year ended, and the county continues to collect payments.

Tax collection increased more than 2 percent this year in comparison to last year.

Logan said, as of Dec. 31, about 70 percent of tax money owed to the county was collected, which increased from about 67 percent collected during 2009.

December 30th, 2010

Celebrate the New Year

December 30, 2010

As you celebrate the start of 2011, think of The O-N-E.

Send in your favorite pictures from your New Year celebrations. We want to see how Catawba County rings in a new year.

Submit pictures via our website by clicking on "submit a photo" or by e-mailing onenews@observernewsonline.com. Pictures will be published in future print editions, as well as online.

Goodwill increases during new year

December 30, 2010

The holiday season is often a time of excess.

When the holidays are over, many people vow to rid themselves of those extra things, whether its clothing, unwanted gifts or out-of-date electronics.

The impending new year is one of the busiest times for Goodwill Industries, which sees donations increase across the state as residents adopt an "out with the old, in with the new" mentality.

The Goodwill on Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard in Hickory received more than 150 donations Wednesday, which is twice the amount of donations the store receives on average.

City pursues business grant

December 30, 2010

Newton business owners could receive grant funds for doing the one thing everyone hopes for these days — creating jobs in the community.

Newton officials recently announced the city is eligible to apply for a Main Street Solutions grant, which can provide business and commercial property owners in the city up to $200,000 for job creation.

"For Newton and the whole state, job creation is probably the No. 1 priority," said Rob Powell, Newton commercial development coordinator.

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