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News Index
Friday
Apr032009

Decision on Furniture Plant Made, Officials Say

Wilkes County is about to lose 250 furniture-manufacturing jobs, and county officials are resigned to the fact that they can do little about it. As we’ve previously reported, La-Z-Boy plans to consolidate wooden-furniture production of three divisions in North Wilkesboro to a larger plant in Lenoir operated by one of the divisions, Kincaid Furniture Co. Inc. On Monday, the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners will vote on a $500,000 incentive request from Kincaid. That amount is supposed to help pay for some of Kincaid's consolidating expenses, said Bobby White, the manager of Caldwell County. According to White, Kincaid has 200 jobs at its 500,000-square-foot plant in Lenoir and would add 30 jobs from the consolidation over five years.Wilkes County officials had planned to make a counter offer, John Yates, the county manager, told the Winston-Salem Journal yesterday. "We talked to Kincaid's representatives Tuesday," Yates said. "They basically said they had made their decision, that they were not interested in a counteroffer, and it was up to the Caldwell commissioners now.” Yates said that county officials are "extremely disappointed and surprised by their decision." The Kincaid move is the third furniture-manufacturing consolidation move in North Carolina in nine months. In all three cases, one community benefited from another's lost jobs, with incentives playing a major role in each decision. However, unlike the Kincaid case, the other consolidations also involved state incentives -- Stanley Furniture Co. Inc. abandoning a plant in Lexington for a larger one in Robbinsville and Broyhill Furniture Industries Inc. reopening a plant in Lenoir and closing a plant in Taylorsville.

Friday
Apr032009

Research Project to Start at Baptist

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is one of 18 hospitals in the state that will be participating in an effort to reduce the number of infections in intensive-care units. The project will focus on central line-associated bloodstream infections. About 250,000 central line-associated bloodstream infections occur in hospitals each year, with nearly 1 in 4 patients dying as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.A goal of the national program is reducing the average rate of cases in participating hospitals from five infections to one infection for each 1,000 catheter days. The N.C. Center for Hospitals Quality and Patient Safety will oversee the program in the state.

Thursday
Apr022009

Quick Reaction Sometimes Needed in Economic Development

Local governments must be able to react rapidly and work together when opportunity knocks, according to site consultants making a report recently to the Wilkes Economic Development group. Although elected officials reacted less than positively at the retreat when Wilkes EDC Director Don Alexander suggested that Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro and county governments increase their respective tax rates by a penny to create an inter-governmental economic development fund, the broad concept-although not necessarily not involving property taxes-hasn't been dropped. "If we don't sit down and do something, shame on us," Wilkesboro City Manager Ken Noland told the Journal-Patriot. "I don't think the people are satisfied," said Noland, adding that he thinks Wilkes citizens are ready to see local governments invest more in economic development. "We're talking about some type of interlocal agreement that could be with industrial property or it could be with pooling resources, including money," said Noland. "If we all did some amount from our tax rates, we could start building reserves and help effect change." He said this could help position local governments in Wilkes to respond faster and more effectively and not miss out when opportunities for new jobs arise. Or when things such as Lenoir's commitment of subsidies to La-Z-Boy prompt officials to say they'll close a plant here, and local officials want an opportunity to save the jobs.

Thursday
Apr022009

Moo?

A little different kind of cattle rustling going on in Wilkes these days...the stolen cattle don't moo, they don't leave behind cow patties, and they'd definitely make a poor hamburger. Sheriffs deputies say someone has stolen a statue of a Holstein cow from the end of a driveway on Lomax Road in Traphill. The theft happened almost three weeks ago, but the report on it was only released today. The cow statue, worth about 200-dollars, stands about 2-feet high and is about 3-feet long. At one time, there was a much larger cow statue nearby, apparently, as deputies report questioning a group of kids that had been connected to the larger cow being stolen. According to the report, deputies are "confident they had nothing to do with taking the statue." At this point, the investigation is still listed as open, and deputies say they have told the victim, John Wheeler, they will keep an eye out for the cow.

Thursday
Apr022009

WRMC Reports Profit in Feb; Third Straight Month

Wilkes Regional Medical Center officials reported a profit in February -- the third straight month of the bottom line being in the black. In February, hospital officials say they made $621,000, taking the total profit for the first five months of the fiscal year to about 1.5-million dollars. While gross patient revenue in February and net operating revenue were both short of budget, the impact of the 45 layoffs in early January was seen in employee expenses, which were almost three-quarters of a million dollars below budget. The Journal-Patriot reports the hospital is taking steps to improve patient satisfaction. Gene Faile, Wilkes Regional's chief executive officer told the board Tuesday, "we're starting a telephone hotline in an effort to address patient concerns," he said. "We're placing cards next to all of the phones in the hospital. If a patient or family member has an unmet concern, even down to a light bulb that isn't working in the restroom, they can phone the patient hotline. Those concerns will be addressed within 20 minutes. The hotline plan will be implemented on Monday.

Thursday
Apr022009

Faye Cox Passes

Former North Wilkesboro Town commissioner Faye Cox died yesterday morning at the age of 76. She served as commissioenr from 1993 until four years ago. Miss Cox was retired from the Town of North Wilkesboro Police Department as a sergeant, serving for 30 years (1958-1987). Miss Cox and Pat Brown were the first two female members of the town police force. Two former town officials talked with the Journal-Patriot yesterday about Cox's tenure on the board. Former Town Manager Jim Bentley said this morning, "We worked together for many years, and I was there working for the town when we hired Pat and Faye. They were both good, dependable people and dedicated officers." Former Mayor Conley Call said Miss Cox "was one of the most dedicated public servants this town has ever had, both as one of the first female police officers and then later, after she retired, as a member of the town board. Faye was everyone's friend. She always thought of the average person and represented everyone. She did her homework and didn't mind speaking up and working to get things done that were good for the community." Funeral services will be Sunday, 2:30 p.m., at Hinshaw Street Baptist Church with the Rev. Jim Gore officiating. Burial will be in Mountlawn Memorial Park. The family will be at Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home from 6 until 8 Saturday night.

Thursday
Apr022009

Thefts Reported at Neighbors' Homes

Wilkesboro police are investigating a pair of burglaries they believe are related. Officers were called Tuesday by Don Elledge and Terry Icenhour, who are neighbors. Both reported thefts; Elledge from a camper outside his home and Icenhour from the house. The items stolen from Elledge's camper include a weed eater and a leaf blower, each valued at about 300-dollars. The items taken from Icenhour's home included an AK-47 weapon, two video games, and a camera. Total value of those items is about 600-dollars. Police identify the same potential suspect in both reports, saying the 30-year old man has a history of taking property belonging to both the victims. Because he has yet to be arrested or charged, we are withholding the man's name.

Wednesday
Apr012009

Horse Owners: Time for Booster Shots

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler reminds equine owners that now is the best time to vaccinate their horses, donkeys and mules against West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis. State Veterinarian Dr. David Marshall said these diseases are now endemic to North Carolina, but they are easily preventable.“We haven’t had a lot of cases of EEE or West Nile the past few years, but the disease cycle ebbs and flows in our state,” Marshall said. “Horse owners should not let down their guard. They should continue to vaccinate against these diseases, and take other precautions to minimize standing water that would allow mosquitoes to breed.”In 2008, North Carolina had 12 reported cases of EEE in horses, and 11 of them were fatal. It is estimated there are as many as four unreported cases of EEE for every one that is reported. Horse owners should talk with their veterinarians to determine the best time to start the vaccination process for EEE and West Nile virus. Both vaccinations initially require two shots, 30 days apart, for horses that have no prior vaccination history. Neither vaccination fully protects the animal until several weeks after the second shot, so it is best to vaccinate as early in the mosquito season as possible.Marshall recommends a booster shot of each vaccine be given every six months in North Carolina because of the extended active mosquito season.

Wednesday
Apr012009

Man Jailed on DWI Charge

A 32-year old Wilkesboro man was jailed Saturday, after a police officer found him with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit. Pedro Fuenes was pulled over about 10:30pm Saturday, after an officer first saw him stop unexpectedly in traffic along River Street. As the officer followed Fuenes, he watched him weave across the center line three times in a quarter mile, prompting the officer to turn on his blue lights and eventually his siren. Fuenes turned onto Corporation street, then pulled over. When the officer asked for Fuenes' license, he was nearly bowled over by the odor of alcohol, and he very nearly had to help Fuenes to his feet so he could attempt a roadside sobriety test. The officer reports Fuenes was unsteady and unable to complete even one of the tests; in fact it took several attempts at the breath test before he could get a reading, which turned out to be .23. After five attempts at a breath test in the intake center, deputies gave up testing Fuenes and marked him down for a refusal, prompting a magistrate to order him held on a one-thousand dollar bond, facing multiple traffic charges along with the DWI. A family member picked up the car.

Wednesday
Apr012009

Pair Charged with Theft, Threats Afer Shoplifting Incident

Two Wilkes residents were taken to jail following a weekend shoplifting incident at Wal-mart. Wilkesboro police arrested 24-year old Brandon Prevette and 23-year old Michelle Teague, who had been caught in the act of shoplifting Saturday afternoon. The pair had children with them in the store, ages 1 and 3 years old, while they were being watched by store security personnel. A loss prevention employee tells police he saw Prevette conceal a pocket knife, and confronted him. When Prevette was asked to give up any items that were not his, he pulled the knife out and laid it on the security desk, along with several other items that had been concealed in a diaper bag. The items that had been picked up included a couple of tools, two knives, a sheet set and other miscellaneous items, together worth 106-dollars. As he was being taken into custody, Prevette allegedly threatened the loss prevention employee, and he was charged with making that threat, along with the theft, which he and Teague were both charged for. A magistrate set his bond at 1-thousand dollars and hers at 500-dollars, and officers took the pair to jail. A family member was called to pick up the children before they left the store