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Thieves take road signs, cause problems in Lincoln County

Authorities in Lincoln County are trying to solve the problem of stolen road signs.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says 64 signs have been stolen in 2015, which they say is a dramatic increase from last year,

The sheriff's office says the thefts not only cost taxpayers about $100 for each sign taken, but it also creates problems for people who need emergency help but can't be located if the street sign is missing. The stolen signs can cause a slow response time and endanger lives.

Officials say some signs are targeted for what's on them. The sign for Diesel Drive in northeastern Lincoln County has been replaced seven times in the last week.

A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the thefts.

Published: Fri, 06 Mar 2015 05:08:21 -0500

Weekend Traffic Update

March 7: Sulkirk Road Water Main Replacement

To accommodate construction for Sulkirk Road Water Main Replacement, Sharon Road will close between at the intersection of Sulkirk Road on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 7 a.m. and reopen Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 6 p.m. During this closure, motorists can use the detour route of Fairview Road, Park South Drive and Park Road (shown in green below).

During this closure, there will be no direct access to Sulkirk Road from Sharon Road. Local traffic can detour using Brookfield Drive and Severn Avenue from northbound Sharon Road OR Eastburn Road, Anchor Street, Stokes Avenue and Sulstone Lane from southbound Sharon Road.

March 7: 3rd St. Storm Water Work 

West 3rd Street between South Church Street and South Tryon Street will close on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 9 a.m. and will re-open by Monday, March 9, 2015 at 6 a.m. This closure is necessary for storm water work. Eastbound detour will be right on South Church Street, left on West Stonewall Street, left on South Tryon Street and right back on to East Third Street. 

March 7: Run Jen Run

The race will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 7 at Symphony Park. The route includes Barclay Downs Drive, Morrison Boulevard, Roxborough Road, Colony Road, Ferncliff Road, Inverness Road, Manning Drive, Topping Place and Scofield Road.

March 7: Corporate Cup 5K & Half-Marathon

The event begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 7 on College Street and Stonewall Street and will end by 11 a.m. Event organizers expect 3000 participants. The course includes Stonewall Street, South College Street, South Tryon Street, West Boulevard, Park Avenue, South Mint Street, East Third Street, Queens Road, Providence Road, Queens, Sharon Road, Runnymede Lane, Rockbrook Road, Colony Road, Roswell Avenue, West Queens Road and East Morehead Street.

March 7: Get Your Rear in Gear, Colon Cancer Run

The race begins on Saturday, March 7 at Independence Park at 8 a.m. Event organizers expect 2000 participants. The route will use Park Drive, Hawthorne Avenue, Fourth Street, North Kings Drive, Central Avenue, Louise Avenue, Eighth Street, Ridgeway and Gateway Avenue. 

March 7: Corvian Green on the Green 5K

The event begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday March 7 on David Taylor Drive. Event organizers expect 750 attendees  

Published: Fri, 06 Mar 2015 04:29:34 -0500

Obama making first visit to South Carolina while in office

President Barack Obama is making his first stop in South Carolina while in office.

Obama is expected to make an appearance at Benedict College in Columbia on Friday.

During the event at the private, historically black college, the president is expected to speak about his 1-year-old My Brother's Keeper initiative aimed at improving the lives of young minority men. The program is expected to be a continuing focus for the president after he leaves office.

This is the first time Obama has been in South Carolina since the 2008 primary campaign in which he and Hillary Rodham Clinton fiercely fought for the state's black voters.

South Dakota and Utah are the only two states Obama hasn't visited.

Published: Fri, 06 Mar 2015 04:15:57 -0500

Burger King franchisee doles out $120K in rewards to employees after winning award

Upon receiving the award for Burger King Fanchisee of the Year, Tom Barnett rewarded the people who earned it for him.

Barnett sold his prizes, a new Corvette and a Rolex, for $60,000, then personally matched that amount along with a business partner. He then distributed the $120,000 in various amounts of hundreds and thousands amongst more than 100 employees.  

"They made us feel appreciated," one employee told People Magazine. 

Barnett owns 24 Burger King restaurants in the 

Published: Fri, 06 Mar 2015 03:49:17 -0500

Photos: Thursday’s micromoon was smallest of 2015

Thursday’s full moon was the last full moon of winter and the smallest full moon of 2015. The smallest full moon of the year occurs when the moon is farthest away from Earth.  It’s sometimes called the micromoon or minimoon. You can see the closest and biggest full moon of the year on Sept. 28, 2015 — the Harvest Moon. (Source: EarthSky.org)

Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:43:30 -0500

Report: Woman, 5-year-old son robbed at gunpoint

A woman said she and her 5-year-old son came face to face with a gunman feet away from their home Wednesday night near Deanna Road and Nations Ford Road.

The man approached the mother and demanded money and her son quickly ran off. 

She said the gunman chased him but couldn't catch him.

He then ran back over to the woman and put a gun to her head.

She said he stole her cell phone, money and jewelry and drove away in a black Honda.

The woman's older 12-year-old son described what happened.

"He told her not to tell anyone and don't tell police or he would kill her," he said.

A neighbor saw what happened wrote down his tag number and called police.

So far, no one has been arrested.

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Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:00:35 -0500

Judge denies injunction to stop I-77 toll lanes

Interstate 77 toll lanes are on track to being built after a judge denied an injunction to stop it.
 
The group Widen I-77, which has fought the proposed toll lanes from the beginning, posted a message to its website Thursday.

The post said that Judge Oswald Smith III denied the motion for a preliminary injunction.
 
Eyewitness News was in Alamance County Tuesday to see Widen I-77 in court as they fought the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Mobility Partners, which would build and run the toll lanes.
 
A group leader testified the toll lanes would be much more expensive in the long run than simply widening the road without tolls.
 
The group asked for an injunction to stop construction on the toll lanes before it even begins.

The state argued the tolls are needed as a solution for one of the most congested roadways in the state.
 
The plan is to build them on a 26-mile stretch of I-77 from uptown Charlotte to Mooresville.
 
Mobility Partners hopes to begin construction this summer, but Widen I-77 leaders said the fight isn't over yet.
 
They said they will be meeting with attorneys Friday morning.

Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:33:25 -0500

Woman trapped in car following uptown crash

Firefighters had to pry a woman out of her car Thursday night after she crashed on the Brookshire Freeway in uptown Charlotte.

PHOTOS: Woman trapped in car following uptown crash


She flipped the vehicle at about 8 p.m. at the Graham Street exit and ended up on West Eleventh Street.

The woman suffered life-threatening injuries, according to paramedics.  

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Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 21:40:00 -0500

Report: Crashes cause majority of deaths for truckers

A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed 65 percent of on-the-job deaths of truck drivers are due to motor vehicle crashes, making it the leading cause of work-related deaths in that occupation.

About 2.6 million workers drive trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds.

An estimated 317,000 motor vehicle crashes involving a large truck were reported to law enforcement agencies in the US in 2012.

Wearing a seat belt is required by federal regulation but the report also found one in six drivers of large trucks didn’t use their seat belts in 2013 and more than one in three truck drivers who died in crashes in 2012 were not wearing seat belts.

“Wearing a seat belt matters,” said North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Darren Conrad who works with the Motor Carrier Division. “We patrol the interstates here in North Carolina to make sure drivers are in compliance with the law. We even ensure all large truck drivers are buckled when passing through weigh stations.”

Troopers in North Carolina reportedly cited 2,734 large truck drivers with seat belt violations in 2014.

That is the highest amount when compared to 2013, 2012 and 2011.

Troopers wrote 2,494 seat belt citations to large truck drivers in 2013, 1744 in 2012 and 1706 in 2011.

“A seat-belt violation is a primary offense meaning we can pull over any driver for that violation alone,” Conrad said.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol also reported there were 57 fatal accidents involving large trucks in 2014 and of those deaths 10 drivers weren’t wearing a seat belt. That was an increase from 2013, but still lower than the number of fatal accidents involving CMV reported in 2012 and 2011.

“You wonder if some of those drivers would have survived had they been wearing a seat belt,” Conrad said.
 
Employers should establish and enforce company safety policies, including seat belt use requirements for truck drivers and passengers, as well as bans on text messaging and use of handheld cellphones, the report suggests, troopers said. It also stressed the importance of educating drivers on seat belt use and ways to avoid drowsy or distracted driving.

“We’ve seen a lot of companies hire knowledgeable safety directors,” Conrad said. “It’s important that everyone do their part in keeping the interstates safe.”

North Carolina Highway Patrol                      2011          2012          2013          2014        2015

Fatal Accidents CMV

63

68

46

57

4

Fatal Accidents CMV No Seatbelt

11

13

10

10

0

Citations CMV- Fail To Wear Seatbelt

1706

1744

2494

2734

206

Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 21:09:13 -0500

Deputies: Rings stolen from couple married for 50 years

Rowan County deputies are trying to track down a thief who stole hundreds of dollars in jewelry from a couple that has been married 50 years.

The wife is 77 years old and the husband is 80 years old.

According to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, someone swiped an engagement ring, a set of wedding bands, wedding rings, two diamond rings and two high school class rings from the couple’s home on Burmac Circle.

The couple said it's the memories the jewelry represents that they're most upset about.

“They got a handful of rings, his rings. Things that mean something to us. They might as well have put a gun to me,” said Betty Burleson.

The Burlesons have been checking pawn shops all week hoping to find the jewelry.

Authorities estimated the stolen rings, which included a 1953 Wadesboro High School class ring as well as a 1955 New London High School class ring, were worth more than $850.

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Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:48:43 -0500

CMPD officer recovering after west Charlotte wreck

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer is recovering after a car crash in west Charlotte Thursday evening.

The officer was on-duty at the time of the wreck, driving an unmarked vehicle on Billy Graham Parkway at West Boulevard when another driver crossed the median and slammed into the officer.

No charges have been filed and the officer is expected to be OK.

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Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:03:25 -0500

Charlotte man sentenced for son's murder

A Charlotte father will spend the next 25 years in prison after he pleaded guilty Thursday to killing his 2-year-old son.

Last February, investigators told Channel 9 that Jackobie Morgan's spine was broken after he was assaulted by his father.

Eyewitness News reporter Tina Terry spoke to Cheryl Jordan, Jackobie’s mother, after she attended the ruling Thursday.

Jordan said her son now has his justice.

“I just wish it wouldn't have happened this way. No mother wants her child taken from them like this; No mother,” Jordan said.

Jordan said that her son was a happy and healthy little boy until a visit with his father, Travis Pemberton, last year.

“It was heartbreaking. It hurt, because I would have never thought his father would have hurt him. That's his only child,” Jordan said.

During that visit, police were called to Pemberton's home, and they found the boy unresponsive.

A medical report later said the boy died from blunt force injuries that broke his spine.

“She sent a healthy, happy baby to spend two weeks with his father, and she gets back a deceased baby, and that's not right,” Debbie Jordan, Jackobie’s grandmother said.

In court Thursday, attorneys said Pemberton admitted to police that he spanked the boy after he wet the bed.  Pemberton accepted a deal and plead guilty to second-degree murder.

He will spend 25 to 31 years in prison.

Terry reported that Pemberton cried in the courtroom during the proceedings.

His attorney said he loved his son and is still coming to grips with the fact that his actions killed the boy.

Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 18:35:37 -0500

Man pleads guilty for bilking $11M in embezzlement scheme

An Iron Station man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday on charges he bilked $11 million from clients and used it to fund a lavish lifestyle, including strip club visits and three-tiered pools.

James Staz, 44, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion as part of a plea agreement. A superseding indictment filed in court charged him with 16 counts.


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James Staz and his father, William Staz, operated payroll company Employee-Services.net and provided several duties for clients, including collecting and paying employment taxes, investigators said.

Court documents allege the company collected $11 million to be used for federal and state employment taxes, but in reality it went toward James Staz and Williams Staz's lifestyles.

The executive director of one of the victim companies, The Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project, said the first realized something was wrong in early 2014.

"We received a phone call from an IRS agent asking us where our most recent tax withholdings check was," said Mike Mathers, executive director for the company. The nonprofit helps children with disabilities.

"Employee Services took care of (our tax withholdings) and apparently that was the beginning of (Employee Services) not taking care of it," Mathers said.

James Staz on a single day "spent a total of $38,880 at strip clubs and night clubs," the indictment indicated.

Investigators want the pair to pay for their alleged financial crimes.

The father and son's company once had around "500 client companies located in North Carolina" and other states, according to the indictment.

James Staz could face up to 20 years in prison.

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Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 17:13:42 -0500

Police looking for man who robbed south Charlotte BB&T

Police are trying to identify the person who robbed a bank Thursday in south Charlotte.

The robbery happened around noon at the BB&T Bank at 5369 Ballantyne Commons Parkway. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said a man brandishing a firearm entered the bank and demanded money from the clerk.
 
He was described as a black man in his late 30s or 40s, about 6 feet tall. He had a heavy build and was wearing a light-colored T-shirt, a baseball hat with the number 48 on it and khaki pants.
 
Anyone with information on the robbery or the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. 
 
To learn more about the Crime Stoppers mobile app, visit http://charlottecrimestoppers.com/
 
The public may also call the FBI Charlotte at 704-672-6100 with information.

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Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:42:51 -0500

CMPD: Student hits another with beer bottle, punches teacher

A Charlotte high school student is facing assault charges after police said he attacked two other students and a teacher.

Teachers told anchor Scott Wickersham the Independence High School student appeared to have been drinking, and was carrying a beer bottle he smashed against another student during that fight.

La'domi Yarka Burris, 17, has faced charges before for assault including felony breaking and entering and larceny and resisting an officer.

Some school staff members said they won't feel safe if this student comes back to class.

A teachers group said it will fight to make sure he doesn't return.

Teachers said Burris didn't show up for school Wednesday morning at Independence High School, but came to campus around lunch.

Those inside say he was running in the halls with a beer bottle and appeared drunk.

He went to a classroom “punched the teacher in the chest … assaulted a female by punching her in the face … hit the third victim over the head with a beer bottle,” according to the police report.

Judy Kidd, with the classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina, said she's spoken to those involved.

Burris was arrested and remains in jail.

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Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:40:03 -0500

2 lawsuits brought against city over taxi cabs dismissed

Two lawsuits brought against the city of Charlotte and others were dismissed Thursday.
 
The lawsuits were brought by Universal Cab and Diamond Cab. Both cases arose from the City Council's June 13, 2011, award of airport taxi contracts to Taxi USA (Yellow Cab), Crown Cab, and City Cab. 

Read our past coverage:

The complaints claimed several individuals involved in the selection process engaged in an inappropriate campaign to deprive the plaintiffs of airport taxi contracts.
 
The lawsuit named former Mayor Pro Tem Cannon, former aviation director Jerry Orr, former CRVA chief executive officer Tim Newman and  the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance president Mohammad Jenatian.
 
"The decision to dismiss these two law suits is a victory for the City of Charlotte," said city attorney Robert Hagemann. "It has been our contention all along that the City Council's decision was lawful and appropriate.”
 
In dismissing the lawsuits, the judge concluded the plaintiffs failed to establish a causal connection between the alleged improper conduct and plaintiffs' injuries.

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Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:33:52 -0500

Hung jury in Jodi Arias sentencing retrial

UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that jurors who deadlocked in the sentencing retrial of Jodi Arias were 11-1 for the death penalty. The majority could not sway the lone holdout.

Read the original story below.

Convicted murdered Jodi Arias will not receive the death sentence after an Arizona jury failed to reach a decision Thursday. 

"In my assessment, we are hung and additional time will not change this," Maricopa CountyJudge Sherry Stephens said.

The announcement came after jurors deliberated for 26 hours over five days. 

Arias was first convicted of the first-degree murder of former boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2013, but her sentencing was up in the air after a hung jury in May 2013. Judge Sherry Stephens declared a mistrial for the penalty phase at that time, and Thursday's sentencing was the result. 

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Alexander was found brutally murdered in 2008 after he didn't show up for work. He was stabbed 27 times, shot once and slashed in the throat. (Video via HLN

Arias claimed that she killed Alexander in self-defense, but the jury decided that the killing was premeditated. 

The jury was tasked with deciding between the death penalty and life in prison for Arias.

In this interview with KSAZ after her murder conviction in 2013, Arias said"I believe death is the ultimate freedom," though she wavered on that statement later.  

Stephens said Arias will be sentenced April 13. Our partners at KNXV in Phoenix report that she will choose between life in prison without parole or the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:36:17 -0500

Man accused of sex offense, cyberstalking of 14-year-old girl

A Stanley man has been arrested on a child sexual charge in connection with an incident from Labor Day weekend in 2014, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
 
Detective Dan Renn arrested Robert Anthony Douglas Waldrup, 23, of 1992 Cardinal Loop, Stanley on one felony count of statutory rape/sex offense of a 13-,14- or 15-year-old victim by a defendant more than six years older and one misdemeanor count of cyberstalking.
 
Waldrup’s bond was set at $100,000 Thursday morning.
 
He is charged with sexually assaulting the 14-year-old girl between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30, 2014 after driving the girl to her relative’s house on Old Plank Road.
 
The cyberstalking charge stems from numerous text messages he sent to the girl, her friends and family.

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Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 12:34:04 -0500

Professor targeted for firing in UNC academic fraud retires

(AP) A senior professor at North Carolina's flagship public university is the highest profile casualty in an academic fraud scandal that saw administrators helping athletes get easy grades so they could keep playing.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Thursday that philosophy professor Jan Boxill is ending her fight to hold onto her job. She was targeted for firing in October on the day that a scathing report into the cheating scandal was released.

The campus released Boxill's letter dated Monday saying she was retiring effective two days earlier.

The October report said Boxill was an academic advisor to women's basketball players and directed some to fake courses where they earned artificially high grades. The report says Boxill sought to influence student grades at least twice.

Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 12:32:17 -0500

NFL: Greg Hardy is eligible to sign free agent contract

(AP) Panthers defensive end and soon-to-be free agent Greg Hardy will be allowed to sign a new contract even if he remains on the commissioner's exempt list.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday in an email to The Associated Press, "There's nothing to prevent a player on the Exempt list without a contract from signing a new one."

RELATED: Panthers' Hardy hands over domestic violence case documents to NFL

NFL free agency begins Tuesday.

However, Hardy's playing status remains in limbo. He isn't allowed to actually play until removed from the exempt list, which could prevent teams from going after him in free agency.

Hardy was scheduled to meet with NFL officials Wednesday in New York to discuss his domestic violence case, but no resolution has been announced.

He faces a possible suspension from the league even though his conviction on two counts of domestic violence was dismissed Feb. 9 following a successful appeal.

The NFL has said it is investigating Hardy's case.

The league unsuccessfully petitioned courts in North Carolina to have evidence from Hardy's first trial unsealed. Without that evidence, it may be difficult for the league to suspend him.

Hardy made $13.1 million last season as Carolina's franchise player, but only played in one game.

Hardy is not expected to re-sign with Carolina and could become one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market.

The 26-year-old Hardy remains in the prime of his career and had 15 sacks in 2013, tying a Panthers franchise record.

Hardy, who is normally active on social media, has not tweeted anything about his meeting with the league.

Published: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:43:46 -0500