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News Index
Tuesday
Apr142009

Goss Sets Budget Public Hearing in Wilkes

State Senator Steve Goss announced today that he will be holding a public hearing in Wilkes County on Friday, April 17 at 3:00 p.m. to hear from local people how the current economy is affecting them. “I am hearing constant discussions in Raleigh on how the economy is affecting the State," Goss said in a statement. "My concern is to make sure that I hear from folks in our communities of how the current economic crisis is affecting them." The hearing is set for this Friday, April 17 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Commissioner’s Room of the County Office Building in Wilkesboro. No appointments are necessary and the floor will be open to all persons attending.

Tuesday
Apr142009

New Cell Phone Policy Sought for Wilkes Schools

Wilkes county schools officials admit each school busilding currently has different rules on the use of cell phones, BlackBerries, and other wireless devices on school grounds. School board members are looking at ways to change that. Associate Superintendent Dr. Wanda Hutchinson told the board at a recent meeting, "all the schools have their own policies now. But we find some variance from school to school in what they tolerate and don't tolerate." The proposed policy would cover the use of mobile telephones and other wireless devices by students and school personnel at school, and also at school functions and events. The policy would not permit students to use any wireless communication device on school property, except for personal digital assi stants (PDAs) or laptops used for instructional purposes. Students would be allowed to bring them on school property, but must leave them turned off and in their lockers during regular school hours. The policy would also ban students form using portable radios, music players, electronic games or similar devices on school grounds unless approved by the principal. the Journal-Patriot reports school board members accepted the policy without discussion, and are set to vote on the policy at their May 4 meeting.

Tuesday
Apr142009

State Computer Models Show Fibrowatt Emissions Could Be Hazardous

Computer modeling of Fibrowatt LLC's plans to produce electricity by burning poultry litter by state officials has lent credence to opponents' claims the plant will be a source of pollution. State tests using a hypothetical facility intended to model what Fibrowatt plans to build just east of Elkin showed toxic arsenic emissions were nearly three times the state standard. Officials said the tests also indicated release of lung-damaging fine particles and pollutants that form smog. However, the officials noted that the results might be unreliable because they aren't based on real emissions and a real plant. Arsenic, which is in chicken feed, has a low standard because of its toxicity.Poultry-litter plants would likely emit more nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and particle pollution per megawatt than a coal-fired plant, said North Carolina air-quality official Donald Van der Vaart in a Charlotte Observer article. That's because wood sawdust, a major part of poultry litter, burns less efficiently than coal. Van der Vaart said he believed Fibrowatt would be able to comply with state rules. The company hasn't yet applied for the air quality permits it needs to open the three proposed plants. Negotiations are continuing with Duke Energy and other utility companies for sale of the electricity they would generate.

Monday
Apr132009

Update: Name of Man Killed by Wildlife Officer Released

A 12-year veteran wildlife officer was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed a hunter Saturday morning in Wilkes County, according to a statement from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. In a written statement today, officials said officer Mark Minton was patrolling an area off Cain Creek Road at about 7:30 a.m. when he came into contact with 76-year-old Clyde Coffey. Capt. Rusty Hunter with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission said an armed confrontation between the two prompted Minton to shot Coffey one time, killing him. Coffey's family members said Sunday they doubt Minton's claim that he was provoked. "Who shoots a 76-year-old on his own land?" Coffey's daughter told Channel 12. "There is no evidence to suggest the officer confused the hunter with an animal," Hunter said. "It appears, from all information gathered, the officer was protecting himself. And I don't know any further details than that." The statement today said the investigation had been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation. Minton is on paid administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

Monday
Apr132009

Wilkes Home Sales Jump in March

Here's the good news story we'd hoped to start the week with: home sales are up in Wilkes county. Not just a little, either, say local Realtors. According to monthly statistics compiled by the Wilkes Board of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service, the march home sales totaled $4.5 million. That's more than double February's sales and nearly 90 percent more than January. It was also a 21 percent increase over a year ago. The Journal-Patriot reports the average home sold for a bit over 150-thousand dollars in March.

"(Realtors in Wilkes) are a lot busier than we were. It seems to pick up every week," said Linda Zinger, president of the Wilkes Board of Realtors. Zinger said much of this increase is due to first-time home buyers taking advantage of a new federal tax credit. This economic stimulus measure lets first-time home buyers deduct $8,000, or 10 percent of a home's value from their federal income tax if they buy between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 of this year. The credit is refundable, meaning tax filers see a refund of the full $8,000 even if their tax bill was less than that.

Realtors report that sales of part-time homes in mountainous areas of Wilkes are up, but not as much as full time residences elsewhere in the county. Inquiries from potential buyers about undeveloped mountain land in Wilkes have increased in recent months, but local Realtors said this hasn't yet translated to a corresponding increase in sales.

Monday
Apr132009

Wildlife Officer Shoots, Kills Hunter Saturday

A hunter was shot and killed in Wilkes county early Saturday morning by a veteran state wildlife officer. It happened near Cain Creek road on private property. Wildlife Officer Mark Minton patrolled the area for the first day of turkey hunting season. Officials say some sort of confrontation occurred with a hunter on that land and the Minton fired shots. The name of the hunter has not been released so far. Capt. Rusty Hunter with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission said the officer acted in self defense. "There is no evidence to suggest the officer confused the hunter with an animal," Hunter said. "It appears, from all information gathered, the officer was protecting himself. And I don't know any further details than that." Mark Minton is a 12-year veteran with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission. Hunter said Minton was patrolling the area checking for bait traps, bag limits and hunting licenses. The matter has been turned over to the SBI, standard practice when a law enforcement officer is involved in a shooting.

Friday
Apr102009

Perdue Pulls Agency Funds So State Can Write General Fund Checks

Gov. Bev Perdue today instructed the Office of State Budget Management to take steps to manage the state’s cash flow in order to meet its financial obligations. Effective immediately, Perdue enacted additional limitations on spending throughout state government, including freezing the purchase of goods and services, ceasing all travel not approved for public safety, public health and economic development reasons, and leaving unfilled personnel positions vacant. Exceptions may be made for direct classroom instruction expenses and emergency situations related to law enforcement, health care and public safety. “North Carolina continues to face budgeting challenges. My decision to limit agency spending is crucial to North Carolina’s ability to meet our financial obligations and to provide the essential services required by our citizens,” said Gov. Perdue. Additionally Perdue has intiated transfers totalling $145 million in funds from 18 agencies and programs to maintain the general fund.

Friday
Apr102009

30th HBCT Deployment Ceremony is Tuesday

The National Guard unit that includes soldiers from North Wilkesboro is prepared to deploy, and will have a brigade-level ceremony next week. North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, Chief of Staff for the United States Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Craig McKinley are among the distinguished guests who will address the soldiers and families of the North Carolina Army National Guard's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) during the unit's deployment ceremony Tuesday in Fayetteville. The farewell for the nearly 4,000 soldiers will take place Tuesday afternoon. A host of other local, state and national elected officials will take part in a large scale send off with appropriate military fanfare, attending veterans of the 30th from WWII, families, friends and well wishers of the NC National Guard's largest unit. The 30th has just returned from an intensive final training event that was held at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin CA. Their validation is complete and they will be departing for Iraq in the days following this ceremony. This mobilization marks the second time the Soldiers of the 30th were called up to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2004, the 30th was the first National Guard Brigade Combat Team to be activated, deployed and control their own area of operations. The 30th is headquartered in Clinton, N.C., with armories in communities from Wilmington to Charlotte; the brigade also includes a battalion from the West Virginia Army National Guard and a company from the Colorado Army National Guard.

Friday
Apr102009

Hospice Has Rich History

If you aren't somewhat of a history buff, you probably didn't know that the concept of a hospice has a long, rich history. Sharon Wilcox with Hospice of Wilkes explains:

Her comments came during a Focus on the Foothills interview yesterday with 3WC's Angela Henley. We'll have excerpts from the interview over the next few days on 3WC News, and you can download the full interview form our podcast page at 12403wc.com

Friday
Apr102009

Cameras Could be Installed on Stop Arms

The effort to keep people from passing stopped school buses will get a new tool, if a bill passed in the North Carolina House this week earns Senate approval. The bill would allow school districts to install cameras on the stop arms of school buses. It passed unanimously. Lawmakers hope this new legislation would help prosecute drivers who pass school buses while school children are entering or exiting the bus. Bus drivers say people passing stopped school buses is nearly a daily occurrence, and if the new bill becomes law, it would help school bus drivers who already have several responsibilities with the children. “We can take down the tag numbers and report it to the police, but it’s hard to get a description when you’ve got so much on your mind, like the safety of the kids." One driver explained, “Cameras would be great because they can’t come back and say, ‘I didn’t see you stop,’ or, ‘That wasn’t me driving.’ It would be a perfect way to prove which vehicle it was and also who was driving.”