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News Index

Damage, Possibly Caused by Semi, Found at Business Monday

A local store owner is having to repair damage made to a sign and the building over the weekend. It happened at Chris Feed & Seed on Sparta Road, sometime between Saturday night and Monday morning. An employee says she left Saturday night about 7pm, and when she returned to open Monday, she found the damage. About 1-thousand dollars damage was done to the gas sign outside and about 25-hundred dollars damage was done to the building. Someone in the area told the deputy he had seen a semi trying to turn around in the parking lot Sunday morning, and he suspected that maybe the driver had hit the sign and building unknowingly. He identified the semi as being blue and white, and thought it was pulling a Family Dollar Store trailer. But the deputy checked with both Dollar General and Family Dollar, and both businesses said they did not have a supply truck in the county any time Sunday. The case remains open for investigation.


Wilkes United Way Campign Kickoff Today

The Wilkes United Way Kickoff Luncheon is today. Officials say the kickoff luncheon will feature Wilkes native John Swofford, now the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The United way hopes to raise $1 million this year. Swofford, son of the late Jack and Helen Swofford of North Wilkesboro, became the fourth full-time commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference in July 1997. He was a two-time all-state football player and three-sport MVP at Wilkes Central High School. Swofford played quarterback and defensive back for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1969 to 1971. The 1970 team went to the Peach Bowl and the 1971 team won the school’s first-ever outright ACC title and appeared in the Gator Bowl.Wilkes United Way Executive Director Rick Stegall told the Journal-Patriot Swofford has been a strong supporter of United Way.


State Buys Grandfather Mountain

North Carolina Governor Mike Easley joined Crae Morton and other members of the Morton family yesterday to announce that the State of North Carolina has purchased Grandfather Mountain and will add the site to the State Parks System. The deal included the peak of the mountain and about 2,600 acres surrounding the summit. The state spent $12 million to purchase the site from the Morton family. Easley said this move will help protect the site from development by putting it under the North Carolina State Parks umbrella. Easley expained, “North Carolina will protect and preserve Grandfather Mountain forever and in such a way that would make Hugh Morton proud… and that’s a pretty doggone high standard, but we’re willing to accept that.” Morton said the entire family came together for this decision and said, “My family is unanimous in this. We are all 100% behind these efforts.” Easley explained this transaction will not change the way the park is run very much.


Foxx Votes Against Bailout

Fifth-district representative Virginia Foxx is one of the members of the House that voted against the Wall Street bailout yesterday. Afterwards, she issued the following statement:“Our country is facing an historic economic challenge that requires action on the part of Congress. Our main objective in confronting this challenge should be putting our country first-which ultimately means taxpayers and future generations. The people of Northwest North Carolina have clearly expressed their outrage over the current proposal. “I voted against this bill because I am very concerned about the unprecedented direction that this economic recovery package would take our country. This plan puts taxpayers, their children and their grandchildren on the hook for the bad decisions of Wall Street and government sponsored enterprises. Taxpayers deserve better.“This bill was another massive government intervention into America’s economy. It would have fundamentally changed our marketplace by rewarding financial companies that made bad decisions and placing those who exercised prudence at a serious disadvantage. And it would have done all this with the tax dollars of hard-working North Carolinians. Congress must protect American citizens who have played by the rules and not do long-term harm to the values we hold dear.


Truck Stolen

Sheriff deputies are looking for a local man in connection with the theft of his former boss' pickup. The 1995 Toyota was reported stolen on Saturday, several days after Allen Wood noticed it missing. He said he thought the truck might have been repossessed, but when he was by the Mulberry fire department on Saturday, he saw his pickup broken down on the road out front. He says a man was with the truck, which had a "lost tag" placard on the back. The man told him he had purchased the truck from Zack Sparks -- an employee of Woods' that he had been unable to get hold of for some time. The man made the same statement to deputies when they contacted him, and also told them that a number of tools that were in the truck when it was taken were not in the truck when he bought it. Together, the truck and tools are valued at about 11-hundred dollars. The case remains listed as under active investigation.


Mama and Son Arrested in Drug Case

Wilkes sheriff deputies arrested two family members Saturday evening, after they chased one of them to the other's house, had to use a Taser on him multiple times, and found her trying to hide a of marijuana until they left. It started when a deputy was dispatched to a suspicious vehicle call shortly after 7pm near Glen Ridge and Rock Creek Road, where a caller said they'd seen drug activity of some sort. On the way to the area, the deputy spotted the car that had been described and was able to get the driver to pull over. What started as a routine stop turned into a high-speed chase when the deputy told the driver he could see what looked to be baggies of drugs in his left-hand jacket pocket. Having identified the driver as 39-year old Gene Bullis, Junior, the deputy followed at some distance and pulled up behind Bullis as he was getting out of the car at his parents' home on Skyview Drive.

Once he got worked up, Bullis never seemed to calm down. A six-page crime report describes the deputy repeatedly shocking him with a Taser to no effect, Bullis being able to fight off multiple deputies, and other activity generally telling of being high on something, according to the deputy. During the confrontation, Bullis' mother Edith came out of the house and stood between the deputies and her son, refusing for quite a while to allow them any access to him. When she did finally step aside, it was only because there were several deputies and a Lieutenant she knows at the scene. Still, she would not go further than arm's reach from him, and after a while it became obvious she was trying to help him hide something. When a search of his jacket pocket turned up only one baggie of marijuana and deputies could not find any drugs by walking the driveway and some distance along the road, they confronted Mrs. Bullis, who was standing in one spot very firmly planting one foot. When she was told to move by one of the deputies, Mrs. Bullis allegedly started faking back pain as a distraction and tried to kick something under the nearby car. It turned out to be another baggie of drugs.

She was arrested for simple possession and resisting an officer, while her son was charged with fleeing to elude arrest, resisting an officer, and drug possession.


Duplicate Check Cashed

Wilkesboro police are investigating allegations that a local woman knowingly cashed a duplicate paycheck accidentally issued by her employer. The woman, whose name we are not releasing until she is actually charged with the crime, is a former employee of United Hearts Home Care. Her last paycheck was issued when it should be, and the company realized after payday that it had issued the check twice. After calling the bank and having a stop payment put on the check, the company learned the former employee had indeed tried to cash the second check. In fact, she called and asked why payment had been stopped on the check, and was told that it was a duplicate and she had not earned the money. A few days later, United Hearts received a call from a local convenience story that had cashed the payroll check for the former employee. Of course, it came back to the c-store as having payment stopped on it. Now the store is demanding the money for the check, plus a service fee. Police are continuing their investigation into the case.


Bomb Team Recovers Explosives from Wilkes Basement

A Wilkes homeowner made the wise choice last week to call in professionals to get rid of some explosives stored in her basement. Susan Cox, whose husband Woody was a Navy bomb technician and an engineer who used explosives in his work, called the sheriff's office last week to ask for the Wilkes explosive disposal team to remove the items. According to a report released Friday a number of explosive items were recovered from the house and taken to the Sheriff's department explosive magazine, where they ware being stored until they can be destroyed at the bomb range.


HUD Grants to Help Housing Crisis in NC

North Carolina will receive grants totaling $57.7 million from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 90-percent of the money goes to the North Carolina statewide program to buy foreclosed homes, land and property, to demolish or rehabilitate abandoned properties, to offer down payment and closing cost assistance to low- to moderate-income homebuyers, and to create “land banks” to temporarily manage vacant land. The other 10-percent goes to Charlotte's program. In addition to helping states and local communities purchase and rehabilitate abandoned and foreclosed properties, the NSP requires housing counseling for families receiving homebuyer assistance and mandates that states and local grantees ensure that new homebuyers under this program obtain a mortgage loan from a lender who agrees to comply with sound lending practices.


Woman Robbed, Assaulted -- Waits 10 Hours to Tell Deputies

A woman tells sheriff deputies she was the victim of an armed robbery outside a Millers Creek store, but she waited more than 10 hours to report it because she was afraid she'd get in trouble for drinking. 49-year old Janet McNeil was in the Wilkes Regional Emergency Room when deputies were called about 10:30 yesterday morning. She said that shortly before midnight, she'd been standing at the drink machine outside Millers Creek Pawn Shop. A man approached her from the left side, she says, and reached in front of her, cutting her neck before she had a chance to react. She showed deputies a cut about 2 and a half inches in length. After the man threatened her, she gave him all the money she had -- a 5-dollar bill. She says after the man robbed her, she went home and her roommate bandaged up the wound. The robber is described as a white male, about 35 to 45 years old, 6-feet tall and 160 pounds, with short blond hair and a slim build. He was wearing blue jeans and boots, along with a silver watch or bracelet on his left arm, which is the arm he used to hold the knife. He left on foot to the south, behind the pawn shop.