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News Index

Man Stabbed, Condition Unknown

Hospital officials are not releasing the condition of a Wilkes man who was slashed by a knife during a confrontation with another man Saturday afternoon. 39-year old David Wheeling was taken to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem following the fight. The hospital would not comment on whether Wheeling was even a patient -- in accordance with federal law that allows patients to deny release of even basic information to the public.

Sheriff's Detective Captain Steve Cabe said Wheeling's throat was slashed by a knife during a fight between Wheeling and another person, whose name is not being released, while both were outside their vehicles on Tumbling Shoals Road. The incident occurred about 5 p.m. Saturday near a popular swimming hole and waterfall called the Old Mill Pond on the upper Reddies River. Cabe told the Journal-Patriot witnesses have been interviewed but that a suspect in the case hasn't been positively identified. The department withheld the report of the incident from its daily group of releases yesterday.


Service Arrangements for Watson Announced

Service information has been announced for Gary Watson, the 54-year old North Wilkesboro man whose death this weekend at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir remains under investigation. Reins-Sturdivant is handling the memorial service, which will be held Sunday July 26th, at 4pm at the Forest Edge Amphitheater at Ft. Hamby. The family will receive after the service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Humane Society of Wilkes, PO Box 306, North Wilkesboro, NC 28659 or to the donor's choice.

Watson was found by a passing jet ski rider, face down in the water near his kayak Saturday afternoon. He was diabetic, and there is speculation he may have had a heart attack. But autopsy results have not been released, and both the Division of Wildlife Resources, which investigates boating-related deaths and Wilkes Medical Examiner Terry Tyler refuse to characterize his death until those results are in.


FSA Storage Facility Loan Program

The US Farm Service Agency's Farm Storage Facility Loan Program, which provides low-interest financing for producers to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities, is looking for applications from eligible farms. In a news release, the Wilkes Farm Service Agency says producers planning to submit an FSFL application can speed the approval process by requesting an environmental evaluation of their proposal. The environmental review is required as part of the project, anyway. The loan program is only available to producers before construction begins on the proposed facility; once ground breaking has occurred, the project is no longer eligible for the program. Additional information about initiating a Farm Storage Facility Loan is available at at the Wilkes FSA office.


Details of Watson's Death Released; Cause Undetermined

Authorities say an autopsy will determine what caused the death of a man who was pulled from the water over the weekend at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir. 54-year old Gary Watson was found Saturday afternoon in the water, face down, near his kayak in Point Lookout Cove. He'd been on the lake for a few hours, according to a time line released by authorities. Wilkes Medical Examiner Terry Tyler told the Journal-Patriot that Watson's wife Nancy said he's left between noon and 1 to go kayaking on the lake. Emergency communications received the call for help about a quarter till four. A jet ski operator had seen his kayak floating in the cove and gotten the attention of a family in a passing boat for assistance after finding Watson floating in the water face down near the kayak.

Mike Lane, captain of the Wilkes Rescue Squad, said Watson was deceased when he and other squad members arrived at Warrior Creek Park. According to his family, Watson often swam and was a good swimmer. Watson was found alone and was wearing flippers on his feet, but not a life jacket. Watson was diabetic and had diabetes medication in the kayak, according tot he medical examiner.

Although there is speculation that Watson had a heart attack, Taylor and Wildlife Enforcement Agent Chad Starbuck of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, who is actually responsible for the death investigation since it occurred while Watson was boating, both said they couldn't comment on a possible cause of death until autopsy results are known.


Half of WCC Flooding Damage Not Covered by Insurance

Nearly half of the 209-thousand dollars in damage suffered by Wilkes Community College during the recent flooding won't be covered by insurance. WCC President Gordon Burns says that's because 102-thousand dollars worth of the damage was done to the grounds on the lower level -- and lawns, greenery, landscaping and other raw property are not items covered by insurance. Burns told school trustees Thursday night that the damage to buildings, estimated at 106-thousand dollars, will be covered, but the college has a 25-thousand dollar deductible.

He says the expense comes at a tough time, given the current state of the economy and severe cuts being anticipated in the state budget. The Journal-Patriot reports the flood damage not covered by insurance will have to be paid for through WCC Endowment Corporation donations, funds from WCC itself or funds from local government.

The campus flood crested at 18 inches against the outside of Thomson Hall, with 2 or 3 inches covering the ground floor, having come in around doors and windows. WCC's visitor's center as well as public bathrooms next to the tennis courts were flooded. The tennis courts, walking trail, picnic grounds and the area around the Watson stage were all inundated. Fencing on the edge of Moravian Creek along the walking trail was washed away and the outdoor area used for law enforcement training courses was also damaged.


Change Sought in Law for Injury Cases

North Carolina is one of four states, along with the District of Columbia, that still uses a legal rule that says that if you contributed in any way to your injury, you will not recover any money in a lawsuit. Some are trying to change that. Lisa Vogel is one -- she talked recently with the Winston-Salem Journal. Vogel thinks that under a fairer legal system, she would have won the lawsuit she filed against the drunken driver who killed her son in 2005. He got into a car one night on Memorial Day Weekend with a friend's roommate. The roommate drove and soon ran off the interstate, flipping the car and killing Vogel. The roommate was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and DWI in Vogel's death, but successfully defended himself against the Vogels' civil lawsuit by claiming that Vogel, who had been drinking, was negligent in getting in the car.

After repeated attempts during the past three decades, a bill to rewrite North Carolina's system has passed the House for the first time and is in the Senate. Those who oppose any changes say there's no groundswell of support for a new system that they say will lead to higher insurance rates and an increase in lawsuits. The bill would institute a system in North Carolina called "comparative fault," which asks judges and juries to decide who's at fault and award damages according to each side's share. People suing would recover nothing if they are found more than 50 percent responsible for their own injury.


Some Area Post Offices Reduce Hours

The U.S. Postal Service is cutting hours of some area post offices to reduce costs. The window services will be closed at post offices in North Wilkesboro and Millers Creek at 12:30 one day a week instead of at 5pm, reducing the part-time employee hours at each location. Carl Walton, a postal service spokesman, tells the Journal-Patriot the closures will start July 22nd and last for a month to six weeks. At the Elkin Post office, the window will open 15 minutes later, at 8:30 instead of 8:15am. That starts next Monday and will last an indefinite time.

Federal officials have discussed a variety of ways to reduce postal service costs nationally due to a budget deficit in the billions of dollars that they said resulted from the recession, high gas prices and competition with e-mail and other electronic communication.


Foxx Explains GOP Energy Plan

As we mentioned in Friday's newscasts, there is a Republican plan for Energy independence and Environmental stewardship, contrary to what you may have been hearing int he mainstream media. Fifth District Congresswoman Virginia Foxx explained the plan in a recent Focus on the Foothills interview:

You can hear the complete interview on our podcast page at


Local Man Dies at Reservoir; Details Sketchy

Information is still sketchy about how a Wilkes man died this weekend at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir. Gary Watson, who worked for Brame-Huie Pharmacy, died over the weekend. The Reins-Sturdivant website lists his date of death as Saturday, but funeral arrangements are still pending. What's also unconfirmed is how he died. Emergency responders were seen by several people arriving at the Boomer boat ramp and then moving to the Warrior Creek ramp, where Watson's body was apparently taken after he was found in the lake. It is not clear if he drowned or had some type of medical emergency before being found in the water.


Charles Collins Followup

A followup on a story we first reported earlier this week -- the arrest of racing promoter Charles Collins, who is charged with fraud in relation ot his plans to film a reality TV series at North WIlkesboro Speedway. A local female racecar driver who was tapped to participate in a reality TV show being filmed at North Wilkesboro Speedway told WXII-TV she was promised between $250,000 to $350,000 a year. April Meyers said she was in awe when she heard she could make such a large amount of money as one of the stars in the show. Meyers, no stranger to racecars, races at Bowman Gray Stadium on some weekends and helps her husband prepare his car on other weekends.

She said Collins wanted her to first go to a driving school he was going to hold at the North Wilkesboro track. She said she filled out an enrollment form and then she and her sponsors paid Collins almost $2,300. She said she started to get nervous because the driving school kept getting postponed, so she asked for her money back. All the checks he wrote bounced, says Meyers.

Although Collins remains in jail, Wilkes County leaders said the dream of reviving the track isn't dead, and they are currently negotiating with four other parties to see if a deal can be worked out to sell the track. The North Wilkesboro Speedway was built in 1946 as a dirt track. The first official race was held May 18, 1947. It was part of the NASCAR circuit every year from 1949 to 1996.