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News Index

Your Hometown Christian Radio Station. WWWC Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

Sunday
Jul052009

Watagua Democrat: Municipal Elex Filing Starts Today

The filing season for municipal elections opens Monday morning, with seats open in all town races.

This year, Boone has scheduled its elections in November, which will save about $15,000. Previously, elections were held in October, with November as a run-off date. Three town council seats and the mayor's position will be open.

In Blowing Rock, races will be held for mayor and three council seats. Three council seats are each open in Seven Devils and Beech Mountain, which both elect their mayor from within the council.

The top two vote-getters in each council race will receive four-year terms, while the third-place finisher gets a two-year term.
The filing period officially began Friday, July 3 at noon, but elections offices were closed for the Fourth of July holiday. Filing begins at 8 a.m. on July 6 and ends at noon on July 17.

Election Day is Nov. 3.

Sunday
Jul052009

At Least 4 Dead In 4th Fireworks Explosions In ENC

At least four people working on Fourth of July fireworks shows are dead from explosions Saturday.

Three of them died from a blast on Ocrakoke Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks. Federal agents are on scene today investigating why the fireworks blew up as they were being unloaded from a truck. The blast shook homes and businesses across the southern end of Ocracoke Island.

A memorial parade was scheduled Sunday afternoon to remember the three workers who died earlier in the explosion.

The crew worked for Melrose South Pyrotechnics near Rock Hill, S.C.

Friday
Jul032009

Horses Cause Car Wrecks; Insurance Now Big Issue

Two automobile accidents were caused early Tuesday morning on Sheep Farm Road when horses wandered out into the roadway.

Jason Christopher Horton, 28, of Mount Airy, struck the first horse at approximately 12:30 a.m. According to Trooper J.R. Vindich with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, he was called to the scene where he discovered that Horton had driven his vehicle home. Vindich said he saw three other horses standing over the dead horse in a driveway. He used an air horn to get the horses to move away from the roadway into a nearby field, according to his supervisor, 1st Sgt. Justin Dodson.

“He also got out of his car and ran the horses into the field, away from the roadway,” Dodson said.

Since it was so early in the morning, Vindich said he left the scene to check on Horton. When he returned to the scene, he discovered that another horse had been struck by Amber Hayden, 20, of Mount Airy. The horse’s head went through the passenger side of Hayden’s 2001 Ford Escort.

Hayden said a woman that lived in the house at the accident scene brought out a wash cloth and some water to help calm her until the ambulance arrived. She was transported to Northern Hospital of Surry County and was released at 5:30 a.m., she said.

Wednesday afternoon highway patrol officials identified the owner of the horses as Jesse Slate of Low Rider Trail.

Neither Horton nor Hayden have collision insurance or medical insurance.

Hayden said she believes the trooper is liable in her wreck, saying that he should have never left the scene of the accident. Her friend, Joanna Easter, blames Vindich for causing Hayden’s accident.

“If he would have just stayed there to warn people that the horses were in the road, then she would never had been in the accident in the first place,” Easter said.

Dodson said Vindich acted properly in removing the horses from the roadway before leaving to check on Horton.

Hayden said she was only going about 45 miles per hour when the accident happened. She said she was on her way home when the accident happened. She had been staying with a friend until her friend’s husband returned from a trip. Hayden said a police officer at the scene questioned her about why she was out so late.

“I was sitting in my mom’s van and he came over and asked me why I was out so late. He said, ‘You know nothing good happens after 11 o’clock,’” Hayden said, adding she was insulted by the comment. “It seemed like he wasn’t interested in how I was doing at all.”

She said the accident happened so quickly.

“All I saw was a big brown blur and I closed my eyes,” Hayden said. Witnesses at the scene told her that the horse’s head had gone through her windshield. She was also told that she actually hit two horses. Only one of them died.

Hayden said she just wants the owner of the horse to pay for her medical expenses, for the ambulance bill and for repairs to the car that is owned by her mother. She said she is suffering with neck and back pain. Wednesday, she said, the pain in her neck and back had worsened.

“I was born with a birth defect, this has just aggravated that even further,” Hayden said.

Both drivers are caring for their own small children. Hayden has a 1-year-old son and Horton has a 5-year-old daughter. Horton said he was afraid to get medical treatment because he is not insured. He did, however, see an ophthalmologist Tuesday due to the shard of glass that was in his eye. He was complaining of back pain Wednesday afternoon as well. His mother, Teresa Brannock, said her son had complained of a headache after the accident.

Both Horton and Hayden just want to have their vehicles repaired and have their medical expenses paid for.

“I just want them to pay to have my car fixed, for my medical bills and the ambulance bill,” Hayden said.

Horton said he has seen the horses on walks with the owners on Sheep Farm Road where he lives.

“I’m just surprised that the owner hasn’t come forward. I’m sure he’s really upset about his horses,” Horton said.

Dodson said Hayden and Horton can turn the accident report into their insurance companies or pursue a civil suit against the owner on their own.

“It will ultimately be the responsibility of the owner of the horses for the accident. The owner of the horses is responsible for keeping the horses out of the roadway,” Dodson said.

Trooper Sonny Hiatt investigated Hayden’s accident.

Troopers estimated the damage to Horton’s vehicle at $2,500 and Hayden’s car at $3,500.

Vindich said he looked around until 1:30 a.m. the morning of the accident trying to find the owner of the horses. He said a man with a horse trailer came to the scene to pick up the dead horses. Vindich said Surry County Animal Control was called but refused to responded to the scene.

Thomas Williams, media relations specialist for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, said Animal Control did respond to the scene 40 to 45 minutes after the initial call.

Friday
Jul032009

No Charges In Wilkes Turkey Hunter Fatal

No charges will be filed against a N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission law enforcement officer who was involved in the fatal shooting of a Wilkes County turkey hunter on April 11, according to a July 2 release by the commission.

According to a press release issued by District Attorney Tom E. Horner of Wilkesboro earlier today, Officer Mark Minton’s actions “were reasonable and appropriate in response to the perceived use or imminent use of deadly physical force . . .” and no criminal prosecution is warranted.

The Commission was notified this afternoon of the findings by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Wilkes County District Attorney’s Office.

“We appreciate the work of both agencies to resolve this issue,” said Gordon Myers, the executive director of the Commission. “An internal investigation is ongoing and until the investigation is complete, it would not be appropriate for the Commission to comment further.”

Thursday
Jul022009

WJP--Wllkes BOE Wants To Cut School Days To Save Money

In a money-saving move, the Wilkes County Board of Education on Tuesday agreed to ask the N.C. General Assembly to shorten the school calendar by 18 days and add 45 minutes to each school day for the 2009-10 school year.
"The law says schools must operate for 180 days and 1,000 hours every school year," Wilkes County Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen C. Laws told the board. "We simply want to change state law to say 'or' 1,000 hours. We want that flexibility."
The board Monday unanimously agreed on a proposed school calendar for the coming school year that would start classes Aug. 24 and end school May 21, a move that Laws told board members could save the Wilkes County school system $900,000 in the fiscal year that begins today.
There would also be longer holidays in the schedule, including a full week holiday for Thanksgiving (Nov. 23-27), a two-week break for the Christmas and New Year's holiday period (Dec. 21-Jan. 1) and an additional break for students between March 11-15, 2010.
The 180-day calendar previously approved by the board would start school Aug. 25 and end classes June 7.
"None of us are happy about changing the school calendar," Laws told board members. "We also understand the lateness of this, but we're trying to find ways to retain revenue and allow us to keep people working."
Also Tuesday, the school board approved a continuing budget resolution, allowing the schools to continue operations while a budget for the current fiscal year is still being debated in Raleigh.
The two issues of the proposed short calendar for Wilkes County and the state education budget are linked, because N.C. Sen. Steve Goss (D-Watauga) has added legislation allowing the short calendar to the Senate version of the budget.
The shortened calendar would be used only in Wilkes County, as a pilot program, Laws said.
If state lawmakers approve the shortened calendar for Wilkes County, students and their parents here would see little disruption, Laws told board members.
"We intend to start school on the Aug. 24, rather than the 25th," he said, referring to the standard 180-day calendar the board approved earlier. "Also, we would be getting out of school before Memorial Day. I doubt there would be many who would object to that."
Rep. Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes) has also approved of the short calendar, and plans to introduce that measure into the House budget when appropriate, Laws told board members.
After the board meeting, Laws said he undertook the short calendar after lengthy discussion with his principals over ways to save money about three weeks ago.
"Wilkes County would be the one and only, as I understand it, pilot for a calendar such as this," Laws said.
"The state can watch Wilkes County and see if this does keep the integrity of what you want to do in the classroom and if it does save the amount of money you want it to save."
The state cut Wilkes County school system's budget by nearly $700,000 in current-expense money in the past fiscal year, and the state also cut its share of capital-outlay spending as well, Laws said.
The budget cuts in the current year's spending plan may be even more drastic, following a projected shortfall in state revenue of some $4 billion.
"We feel confident we can retain all the teachers who want to work here, and those whom we want to work here," he said. "But we stand to lose 58 teaching assistants. We will do anything we can to save those jobs in Wilkes County."
The shortened school calendar would also require the school day to be longer by 45 minutes to maintain current curriculum requirements, he said. Under the proposed short calendar, the school day would begin at 7:45 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. for most students. The longer school day would add up to 1,040 hours, slightly more than the 1,000 hours currently required, Laws said.
The cost savings in either plan would come from reduced operating costs for utilities, diesel fuel for buses (due to fewer days on the road for buses), school nutrition and hourly payroll expenses for support staff (such as substitute teachers, cafeteria workers and bus drivers).

Thursday
Jul022009

Union Workers Approve Long-Awaited Contract At Smithfield

Workers at the world's largest pork slaughterhouse in rural North Carolina have agreed on a four-year contract with a Smithfield Foods subsidiary.

Workers at the Smithfield Packing plant in the Bladen County town of Tar Heel accepted the company's contract offer Wednesday after two days of voting.

Smithfield's initial contract with the United Food and Commercial Workers includes wage increases of 40 cents an hour for three years and 30 cents an hour in the fourth year. Members of the union's contract bargaining committee say starting pay at the plant is about $10 an hour.

The contract effects about 5,000 workers in the country's least-unionized state.

The deal ends a 16-year dispute between the UFCW and Smithfield over union organizing efforts

Wednesday
Jul012009

Woman Settles Domestic Violence Suit Against Jonesville PD--WXII

The lawsuit by a woman who claimed her husband should have been arrested after violating a series of protective orders has been settled for $430,000, the woman's lawyers said Tuesday. Vernetta Cockerham had filed the lawsuit because she said the department did nothing to protect her family when she complained that her husband was trying to kill her. Cockerham's husband, Richard Ellerbee, stabbed her several times in 2002, then killed her 17-year-old-daughter, Candice, before dousing himself with gasoline and setting himself on fire after fleeing to New Jersey. Cockerham's layer, Harold Kennedy, who called the settlement substantial, hailed it as a victory for domestic violence victims across the state. Kennedy said he hopes the settlement will make law enforcement agencies take domestic violence more seriously than they did in his client's case. Kennedy claimed the Jonesville Police department was seriously negligent after failing to arrest Ellerbee. Kennedy said Ellerbee left death threats against Cockerham, kidnapped one of the couple's children from a day care and dug graves across the street from her home to scare her. "I am very satisfied with the settlement," Cockerham said. "It should be a wakeup call for officers and individuals who don't take domestic violence seriously."

A statement from the Jonesville Police Department claimed the two officers named in the suit did nothing wrong. "The resolution of this case admits no wrongdoing on the part of the town or its officer," the statement reads. "We do hope Vernetta Cockerham finds peace with this resolution."

Kennedy said domestic violence advocates from across the state came to the court proceedings to show their support.

"Thank God -- this is good news," said Lee Ann Brennan, a domestic violence victim who attended the court proceedings. "Hopefully police will be held accountable now. Often times the do not take the victim seriously. They blow them off thinking they are going to go back (to their partner) anyway. (The Jonesville Police Department) really let her down. This verdict is wonderful."

The case was being heard by the Yadkin County Superior Court.

Wednesday
Jul012009

Car Chase And Fatal Shooting

Monday afternoon, the State Bureau of Investigation and the Wilkes Fire Marshal's office were investigating an arson on Taylor Lane in McGrady. The house fire occurred on Friday, June 26th. While investigating and conducting interviews, officials saw Shelia Jean Griffin drive by in a car. She was a person of interest in the arson case. Officials attempted to pull over Ms. Griffin by activating their blue light. A car chase began on Hwy 18 but ended a few miles later about a quarter mile from Rock Springs Church. SBI agents and Sheriff's officials observed the car swerve and then travel into the other lane before going up an embankment and landing on its side. Officials found Ms. Griffin unconscious and hanging upside down. When First Responders arrived, she was removed from the vehicle. When First Responders began administering CPR, they noticed the single gunshot wound to the chest area. Griffin was transported to WRMC where she was pronounced dead. According to Sheriff Dane Mastin, they believe the gunshot wound was self inflicted. Mastin also stated that the arson investigation was leading to a probable arrest of Griffin.

Tuesday
Jun302009

CAR CHASE AND FATAL SHOOTING

Monday afternoon, the State Bureau of Investigation and the Wilkes Fire Marshal’s office were investigating an arson on Taylor Lane in McGrady. The house fire occurred on Friday, June 26th. While investigating and conducting interviews, officials saw Shelia Jean Griffin drive by in a car. She was a person of interest in the arson case. Officials attempted to pull over Ms. Griffin by activating their blue light. A car chase began on Hwy 18 but ended a few miles later about a quarter mile from Rock Springs Church. SBI agents and Sheriff’s officials observed the car swerve and then travel into the other lane before going up an embankment and landing on its side. Officials found Ms. Griffin unconscious and hanging upside down. When First Responders arrived, she was removed from the vehicle. When First Responders began administering CPR, they noticed the single gunshot wound to the chest area. Griffin was transported to WRMC where she was pronounced dead. According to Sheriff Dane Mastin, they believe the gunshot wound was self inflicted. Mastin also stated that the arson investigation was leading to a probable arrest of Griffin.

Tuesday
Jun302009

Break-In, Steal, Some Get Away...Some Don't

It’s that time of year for yard and garden work and it seems some feel the best way to accomplish those tasks is to steal lawn and garden equipment. The Sheriff’s Dept is investigating several break-in and thefts recently. A resident near Elkin reported someone removed the window to his outbuilding and stole a leafblower. A Millers Creek man reported that someone cut the lock off two of his outbuildings and stole a 4-wheeler and various hand tools. Also a Wilkesboro man reported that some thief was bold enough to steal a weedeater and air compressor from his carport.

Of two stolen car reports recently, one has been recovered. A North Wilkesboro man stated his Jeep Cherokee was parked in his driveway when he went to bed but gone the next morning. As soon as the vehicle was reported stolen local officials determined that the Jeep had been recovered in a traffic stop in Catawba County. Things did not go as well for a Ferguson resident who also reported his 95 Nissan stolen from his driveway. There are no suspects in that theft and the vehicle has yet to be recovered.