U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement congratulating former active duty Army Sergeant Kyle White of Charlotte. “I congratulate Army Sergeant Kyle White on being awarded our nation’s highest military honor. Sergeant White’s actions during a long and bloody night in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan saved American lives and exemplified the highest values of the United States Army. Sergeant White fought through multiple injuries, concussions and steady enemy fire to drag a wounded Marine to safety and treat another soldier who had been badly injured. Sergeant White's bravery and heroism in combat are a testament to his commitment to service and dedication to his country. We are proud to have veterans like him in our state, and I know that North Carolina is better, safer and stronger because of his service." On May 13, 2014, President Barack Obama will award Kyle J. White, a former active duty Army Sergeant, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry at a ceremony at the White House. Sergeant White will be the seventh living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Wilkes Sheriff's Office continues to have a list of break-ins and thefts each week to investigate, and they continue to make arrests. Before the weekend, the Sheriff's office had arrested 6 individuals for larceny and 3 for breaking and entering. Wilkes County also continues to have several reports of assault. At least 14 people were arrested for assault last week. As for the break-ins, a resident on the Sleepy Hollow Road reported the theft of a 36-inch flatscreen Sanyo TV from their home. Someone forced open an door to get inside the house. A couple of tools boxes were also stolen from the house. Then a North Wilkesboro resident reported the theft of a battery from their lawn mower. There are currently no suspects in either theft.
The Wilkes Sheriff's Office is investigating the theft of 900 dollars in property from an outbuilding. The property owner lives on Wolf Lane. The victim went to get their weed-eater and found that the hinges had been taken off the outbuilding door. Once inside the thief or thieves took a DeWalt Drill Combo Set, a Skil chainsaw, a Poulan chainsaw, and two trimmers. Again stolen property is valued at 900 dollars and there is a suspect in this theft. Charges against the possible thief are pending.
Preparations are well underway for MerleFest 2014, presented by Lowe’s, which officially begins Thursday, April 24, and runs through Sunday, April 27, on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Fans of MerleFest know to expect the unexpected with special surprises, spontaneous jam sessions and one-of-a-kind musical collaborations from the 130+ acts performing on 13 stages during the four-day festival. As in previous years, the list of performers fits the “traditional plus” definition originally offered by the late Doc Watson. Thursday is also a day for community outreach, with several MerleFest artists visiting and performing at local schools. The culmination of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest takes place on Friday. The complete lineup and stage schedules are posted at www.MerleFest.org and available on the MerleFest mobile app; festival updates are delivered via Twitter (@MerleFest) and Facebook.
Wilkes Community College students led the state in overall medal counts at the 2014 North Carolina SkillsUSA State Conference on April 10 in Greensboro. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled work force and helping each student excel. The students brought home 42 first place gold medals, 14 second place silver medals, 13 third place bronze medals, 12 fourth place finishes and seven fifth place credits. Participating in the competition were 37 Career and College Promise high school students and 90 WCC students. Of the 127 WCC competitors, 88 placed in the top five in the state. Seven Career & College Promise students received a Gold Standard credential for their test area by scoring 98 percent proficient. Additionally, WCC won Largest Postsecondary Chapter in North Carolina. Top 10 results will not be released until May 7; however, many of the WCC students were confirmed in the top 10 of their contests. Those who received first place awards will now represent North Carolina and Wilkes Community College at the National SkillsUSA Conference to be held in Kansas City, Missouri, in June. Community support is vital to the WCC SkillsUSA Club, and its members and advisors wish to thank local sponsors. In addition, this year’s WCC Annual Fund Drive allowed contributors to designate that their donation be applied to the WCC SkillsUSA Club.
AdvantageWest, the regional economic development organization serving Western North Carolina, announces the launch of a new website, AdvantageWest.com. Featuring mobile-friendly design, the new site serves as a platform for showcasing the strategic advantages of doing business in the western part of the state. One goal of the Site Selection section of AdvantageWest.com is to serve as the first stop for a company wishing to expand or relocate to the region. The website includes profile pages of the 23 counties including Wilkes in the AdvantageWest region and an interactive map of the region with information on airports, railroads, colleges and universities, hospitals, and even state and national parks. There’s also a list of the global brands located in the area and an extensive overview of the job announcements in the region from the past several years. The site addresses quality of life in Western North Carolina, a section on efforts to build the green economy in the region, and Newsroom and Event Calendar sections. Again, the new website is: AdvantageWest.com
As the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services assists Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties in their response to a case of Hepatitis A in a food handler, it is important to remind people to always take precautions when preparing food, whether at home or at a restaurant. The simple act of thoroughly washing your hands before and during the preparation of meals can prevent the spread of Hepatitis A and other food-borne diseases. Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds. All surfaces should be washed, including the back of the hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails. This is especially important after using the restroom and before handling food. Food service workers should always have gloves on when coming in contact with ready to eat foods (foods that do not need to be cooked or foods that have already been cooked.) In addition, the best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through vaccination. According to the CDC, vaccination is recommended for all children starting at age 1, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus. For information about the vaccination, contact the Wilkes County Health Dept at 651-7450.
The identity theft landscape is constantly changing, as identity thieves continue to create new ways of stealing personal information and using it for their gain. One of the main ways during tax season is stealing someone's identity to file a false claim and get a refund. This form of ID Theft was reported to the Wilkes Sheriff's Office this week. A Moravian Falls woman went to her tax preparer to get her taxes filed. When they tried to e-File, they were informed that a tax return had already been filed this year using the Wilkes victim's Social Security number. That investigation is still underway. Over the past several years, the IRS has taken numerous steps to combat identity theft and protect taxpayers. The IRS has designed various new identity theft screening filters that will improve our ability to spot false returns before they are processed. Once a tax return is flagged, we will correspond with the sender before further processing the tax return to make sure we have the right taxpayer. For more information, go to www.irs.gov
He said first and foremost, he wanted to thank his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving him the ability and the opportunity to work and serve the people of Wilkesboro as a member of the Wilkesboro Police Dept. Deputy Chief Major Steve Dowell is retiring from the Wilkesboro Police Dept. According to Wilkesboro Town Manager Ken Nolan, Major Dowell is the first to retire with 30 years of service from the Police Dept and only the 6th person with 30 years to retire from the Town. Nolan also said that Dowell was a perfect example of a public servant. Many of Maj Dowells peers praised his loyalty, kindness, and service. As for what he plans to do now, the Major says he has a new grand baby that he wants to spend time with and he has plans to go fishing.
One from Wilkes and 14 other student-athletes from North Carolina High School Athletic Association member schools have been honored for their outstanding sportsmanship as winners of “Heart of a Champion” recognition. Each of the NCHSAA member schools had the opportunity to nominate student-athletes for the recognition. The students must have participated in at least one varsity sport or activity, including cheerleading, during the 2013-14 school year, have not been ejected from any contest, and must have demonstrated outstanding citizenship and sportsmanship during their high school careers. The students filled out an application questionnaire and then a school official, such as the principal or athletic director, also provided an evaluation. Maria Meyer of North Wilkes was one of the 15 students honored at a luncheon on Saturday at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Durham.