The Office of Governor Pat McCrory announced appointments yesterday including one from Wilkes County. Appointed to the State Community Corrections Advisory Board--Phillip Redmond (Iredell County) – Redmond is the sheriff of Iredell County and Scott Cunningham (Forsyth County) – Dr. Cunningham is the chief of the Kernersville Police Department. The board reviews the criteria for monitoring and evaluating community-based corrections programs, among other duties. The term length is three years. Appointed to the North Carolina State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision--Tom Horner (Wilkes County) – Horner is the district attorney in Prosecutorial District 23. The council adopts the provisions of the revised Interstate Compact for the Supervision of Adult Offenders. It also provides for the state to participate in the international prisoner transfer program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. Each term is three years.
U.S. Senators Kay Hagan (NC) and Patrick Leahy (VT) are urging Senate Appropriations Committee leaders to prioritize funding for the lifesaving Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program in their federal spending bill for FY2015. Hagan and Leahy led a group of 19 Senators in sending a letter requesting $30 million for the program, which helped provide more than 2,130 lifesaving vests to law enforcement officers in North Carolina last year. “With state and local law enforcement already struggling under significant budget constraints, and the demand for vests continuing to increase, it is imperative that Congress continue to invest in this lifesaving program,” Hagan and her colleagues wrote. Since its inception in 1999, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program has made over a million life-saving vests available to law enforcement officers nationwide by providing matching federal grants to state and local authorities. According to the Government Accountability Office, the lives of over 3,000 law enforcement officers have been saved by armored vests since 1987. The Senators’ letter is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Sheriffs’ Association and the Major County Sheriffs’ Association.
Recently, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) voted in favor of House Concurrent Resolution 96, the Republican “Path to Prosperity” budget sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan. Rep. Foxx delivered the following remarks as part of a floor speech in support of the legislation: “For the first time in American history, we may bequeath to our children and grandchildren a less prosperous country with limited opportunities to pursue their American dream." Congresswoman Foxx also said, “Over the next decade, the U.S. government will spend $5.8 trillion dollars servicing debt. $5 trillion dollars, simply to make interest payments to our creditors! Those dollars could be put to work at home strengthening our military, caring for our veterans, and improving the lives of all Americans – but instead it will go to pay for the inability of those who came before to responsibly manage the nation’s treasury. We need to stop spending money we don’t have.” The legislation--“Path to Prosperity” budget-- passed the House of Representatives on a 219 to 205 vote. Congresswoman Virginia Foxx is currently in her fifth term as the Representative of North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District and is the elected Republican Conference Secretary.
The North Wilkesboro and Wilkesboro Police Departments have announced the arrests of 29 drug offenders resulting from joint undercover drug investigations between the two towns. The arrests are the result of both narcotics units working together to investigate the sale and distribution of various drugs in the community. The majority of the investigations were conducted using undercover officers to make purchases of cocaine, crack cocaine, prescription pills, crystal methamphetamine and marijuana. Many of the cases started with complaints from citizens about drug activity in their neighborhoods. One investigation which has been ongoing for the past eight months was the sale and distribution of crack cocaine in both towns. The investigation started with a citizen complaint and continued from there. During the investigation investigators discovered that several individuals were bringing both crack cocaine and powder cocaine in large quantities into town from other jurisdictions outside of Wilkes County. Once the cocaine was in town the individuals would distribute the cocaine to other individuals for sale. As a result of this one investigation six suspects were charged. Investigators also worked with the other jurisdictions which have resulted in suppliers being arrested and charged and others being investigated currently. In all, 26 individuals were arrested on charges related to cocaine, prescription pills, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Both agencies were also assisted during several investigations by the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, Mooresville Police Department the State Bureau of Investigations and the North Carolina Highway Patrol. Chief Rankin stated that “these arrests are the result of many hours of investigative work. They reflect the results achieved by our two Departments working together. These arrests should send a strong message that Chief Bowlin and I are committed to use every resource available to us to deter this type of activity and protect our citizens. We will continue to make this one of our top priorities”. Chief Bowlin stated that “we are not going to tolerate illegal drugs being used, bought or sold in our two towns. The fact that these two departments come together to identify and arrest these suspects should put others on notice. We consider it a privilege to be able to work with the fine officers of the North Wilkesboro Police Department to keep both our towns safe.”
The Wilkes County Commissioners met this week for their regular meeting. Jack Hemphill of Hemphill Randall Associates, the architects of the new Wilkes Detention Center; and Chris Little of Vannoy Construction were at the meeting to give an update on the progress of the new jail. Hemphill told Commissioners that they had reached four milestones: 1) the roof is on and inside work is proceeding rapidly, 2) the brick is going up on the outside, 3) they have hit the 75 percent completion mark, and 4) all the special state inspections have been done and approved up to this point. Mr. Little told Commissioners that even though the weather had put them a couple of weeks behind, the work is still progressing on target. Chairman Gary D Blevins said he and the other Commissioners would be by soon for another tour of the construction site. Chairman Blevins also asked the architect how many counties actually got to build a jail on adjacent property to their courthouse. Mr. Hemphill said that most counties wanted their jail near the courthouse but could not due to zoning or no land available. Commissioners agreed that the former County Commissioners should be commended for their foresight in selecting a location suitable for the construction of both buildings.
The Wilkes County Commissioners had their regular meeting this week. They got an update on the construction of the new jail which is progressing well despite bad weather at times. Also Finance Officer Jerry Shepherd gave a financial report for the month. Tax collections for March were over 291,000 dollars more than the same time last year with a total overall collection of over 500,000 dollars more than last year. The Wilkes County Sales Tax are over 148,000 dollars than the same time last year. County Commissioners commented that they were pleased to hear of the growth being shown by these numbers. Commissioners also approved the Window World Lease Agreement Resolution. Then a date was set for a public hearing concerning an Interflex Economic Incentive Agreement. The Public Hearing will be before the next Commissioners' meeting on May 5th at 10am.
North Carolina ranks sixth in the 2014 economic outlook competitiveness ranking, according to the newest edition of the Rich States, Poor States report released by the American Legislative Exchange Council. North Carolina's 2013 tax reform significantly improved its national ranking, jumping 16 spots from 22nd place last year to sixth place this year. The report also reveals that big reforms significantly helped Indiana, Michigan and North Carolina improve their national rankings this year. “This is a monumental one-year leap in economic competitiveness, but unsurprising due to the tremendous tax reform the state accomplished in 2013,” said Jonathan Williams, director of the American Legislative Exchange Council Center for State Fiscal Reform.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting this week, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires. Enrollment also begins this week for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters. Local Producers signing up for these programs may contact the Wilkes Farm Service Agency at 207 W Main Street, Room 108 or by phone at 336-838-3622 ext 2.
No one was occupies the home, so a thief decided to take a couple of pumps. The Wilkes Sheriff's Office was called this week to investigate a theft from a property on the Roaring Gap Road in Thurmond. The house is owned by a bank and no one is currently living there. The realty company checked on the property and discovered that someone had stolen the heat pump and the well pump. Stolen property is valued at 4500 dollars. The theft occurred sometime within the past two weeks; there are currently no suspects.
Together, they were valued at nearly 100 dollars and he just walked out the door with them. Reportedly, a white male came in the Sears store and was looking at some wrenches. The Sales Associate at the store told the man he had to step in the back for a minute but would be right back to assist him. When the store employee returned, the man and the wrenches were gone. Store surveillance video was pulled which showed the man stealing the tools. The video of the theft is being turned over to Wilkesboro Police who are investigating the incident.