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Saturday, 29 August 2009 16:32

RRPD roundup - Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Roanoke Rapids Police Department reported the following:

  1. Saturday morning around 7:45 officers received a call of an attempted theft of a vehicle, Chief Jeff Hinton said in a news release. Officers responded to 150 Highway 125 and spoke with the victim who heard "banging" around 3 a.m. but did not report noise. The victim found the steering column on their vehicle was broken and the ignition was pried. The case remains under investigation and damage was about $500. 

  2. A checking station in the 300 block of Madison Street during the day on Saturday led to the arrest of: Donte Anton Peebles, 29, of Roanoke Rapids, for possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, felony possess marijuana and possess drug paraphernalia. His bond was $8,000 and his court is Sept. 16. Kelsey Demond Harper, 34, of Roanoke Rapids, was charged with possess drug paraphernalia, possess with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, felony possess marijuana and maintaining vehicle for distribution of a controlled substance. His bond was $8,000 and his court date is Sept. 16. 

  3. Saturday around 10:30 p.m., Willie Albert Tillery, 27, of Roanoke Rapids, was arrested at his residence and charged with: robbery, three counts assault by pointing a gun, assault with a deadly weapon and three counts of communicating threats. He went to jail on $10,000 bond and has an Oct. 14 court date. No further details are available at this time.

  4. Friday around 11:30 a.m., Tammy Jean Britton, 46, was arrested at her residence in Roanoke Rapids on a fugitive probation violation out of Virginia. She was jailed on $100,000 bond.

  5. Reports of a shooting at Halifax Regional Medical Center last night are unfounded, Hinton said. “Some gunshot victims from the county came to HRMC for treatment,” he said. “Family members (and others) came with them and HRMC called for officers to come out there and assist with crowd control. A call was given out as a nurse being held hostage. Everything out there is fine.”

Saturday, 29 August 2009 16:32

Developer appeals council rezoning decision

A Roanoke Rapids developer has appealed the denial by city council of his zoning request, according to a lawsuit filed in Halifax County Superior Court yesterday.

Council turned down the rezoning request of developer Mike Davis, who owns MTD Investments Inc., at its July 28 meeting. Council accepted the recommendation of the planning board, which recommended it turn down Davis’ request to rezone 6.62 acres of land at the end of Downs Brook Drive to multifamily housing. The decision by council was unanimous.

The lawsuit, filed by Cary Whitaker, a Roanoke attorney, says the rezoning would change the zoning of the property from R-12 to R-3, a lawful use under the city’s zoning ordinance.

“The application complied in every respect with the requirements of the zoning ordinance,” the lawsuit says. “No factual reasons were stated by the Respondents for its failure to make the necessary findings to deny the application and its conclusions are not supported by competent evidence in the record.”

The appeal maintains, “The decision of Respondents was arbitrary and capricious in that the Statement of Consistency with Plans to Amend the Land Use Ordinance had already been distributed. The decision of the City Council was arbitrary and capricious in that adjoining property and property which is of a similar nature has been zoned R-3. The reasons set out in the Statement of Consistency with Plans to Amend Land Use Ordinance for denying petitioner’s application are conclusions not supported by the facts.”

Davis said in an interview yesterday he simply wants the decision overturned. This is the second time the rezoning request was turned down. He said the same request was turned down about three or four years ago.

He said the city’s rejection of the rezoning is costing him untold amounts of money. “I could have had it developed and selling property at the peak of the market. There is no justifiable reason. If it was rezoned I would be building townhouses.”

Demand for townhouses is strong, he said. “They sell good. People are looking for places to live with no maintenance.”

Friday, 28 August 2009 16:29

Frying pan assault case continued

The case of a woman charged with assaulting her husband in the head with a frying pan was continued to Sept. 23, according to court records.

Rosie Lewis was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Lewis, 71, was arrested last week following an Aug. 14 assault which apparently started over the victim not liking what his wife cooked for him.

The assault occurred in the 5000 block of Justice Branch Road in Enfield. 

EMS was already on scene treating the victim, James Lewis, 85, for head injuries. Mrs. Lewis was standing outside with EMS as they were treating the victim.

There was an argument earlier in the morning, which is believed to have started over breakfast, when the victim did not like what was cooked for him.

Mrs. Lewis cooked the victim another meal. While this was going on another argument took place and escalated when Mr. Lewis picked up his cane and drew back in an attempt to strike Mrs. Lewis.

Mrs. Lewis picked up an iron frying pan and hit her husband on the head several times, knocking him to the floor and causing a head injury.

The victim was carried to Halifax Regional Medical Center in Roanoke Rapids where he received 50 stitches.

Mrs. Lewis was charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and has since been released from jail.

The Halifax County Sheriff’s Office reported the following:

•Yesterday Deputy Roy Viverette arrested Earl McDowell, 20, of Scotland Neck for injury to property. On Aug. 8 an investigation into a car window being busted out in the Scotland Neck area began. During the investigation Detective Jonathan Merritt was contacted because blood was left at the scene. Through a combined investigation, Viverette charged McDowell, who has a Sept. 2 court date. He was jailed on $1,500 bond.

•Today Viverette arrested Quinton Lowe, 23, of the Scotland Neck area with breaking and entering, assault inflicting serious injury, injury to personal property and forcible trespass. The charges stemmed from an investigation that started back on Saturday. The victim told officers he was laying on his couch around 12:03 am when he heard a car pull up in the driveway. The victim told officers his door was kicked in and  Lowe asked him for money he allegedly owed him. The victim said he owed Lowe $70 for drugs. Lowe demanded the money immediately and started hitting the victim with his fist in the head and face, also kicking him in the chest with his foot. The victim advised officers he never had a chance to get up from the couch because Lowe was on him so fast. The victim said Lowe told him he would be back the next day to get his money. The victim was able to get down the street to call 911. The victim was treated and released at Our Community Hospital. Lowe was arrested and has a Sept. 2 court date. He was jailed on $ 5,000 bond.

The Halifax County Sheriff's Office is looking for Travis Young, 31, of Roanoke Rapids, after a deputy observed suspicious activity in the Carolina Rest Home Road area yesterday.

A vehicle and foot chase ensued.

Further investigation lead to Deputy C.T. Jenkins to obtain warrants for: Felony flee to elude arrest, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to heed to blue light and siren, speeding 90 mph in a 55 mph speed zone, reckless driving and littering.

Young has a lengthy criminal history. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts is asked to call Halifax County Crimestoppers at 252-583-4444.

Friday, 28 August 2009 16:26

Foot chase leads to arrest

A foot chase today led to the arrest of a Garysburg man on a breaking and entering charge, according to the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office.

Detective Rich Somogyi said in a press release Deputy Joe Puhak stopped a vehicle in the Weldon area. 

The driver and occupants fled on foot. Puhak chased them and caught Tavio Lamont Taylor, 24.  Puhak's investigation led to Taylor's arrest for several outstanding warrants, one of which was for armed robbery.

Somogyi assisted Puhak with the investigation, which led to Taylor's arrest for breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering. 

Taylor was charged with breaking into a residence and taking property in the Weldon area.  Taylor was placed in the Halifax County Jail under a $22,500  bond and is scheduled to appear in Court on Sept. 30.

Enrollment in the Halifax County school system is down by about 400 students thus far, its spokesperson said yesterday.

The number of students within the system determine the funds it receives from the state and the decrease could mean the loss of three or four teachers, Keith Hoggard said.

If the decrease holds it could also mean a $3.2 million loss in state funding.

The funds the school system receives or a decision on what happens with teachers won’t be made until school has been in session for 10 days, he said.

For the past five years the school system has lost 200 students a year, Hoggard said. “We’ve lost more than anticipated if this holds up,” Hoggard said, “But we could gain students by the end of next week.”

The drop in students was around 500 but the system gained about 120, according to attendance figures yesterday, Hoggard said.

There are several reasons enrollment is down, Hoggard explained. “A lot of them are are going to early college.”

Early college is a program offered at Halifax Community College where students take their regular school work while also taking college courses which give them enough credits for a two-year degree or two years of credits to take on to a four-year school.

Many parents are putting their children in charter schools, he said, and some are taking students to neighboring school districts including Northampton, Warren, Edgecombe and Nash-Rocky Mount. There has also been a steady population decline with the number of people with children because of factories closing, meaning people are leaving the area to find jobs.

There are currently 3,885 students in the school system. “We’re hoping to get a few more back. It’s only the fourth day of school. We picked up 120 and hope by the end of next week to pick up 100 to 200 more,” Hoggard said.

If state funding should be cut by the end of the 10 days, Hoggard said the school system would have to look elsewhere to make up funding.

Friday, 28 August 2009 16:23

Two busted for meth precursors

Two arrests yesterday show the meth problem may be getting closer to home.

While there have been no documented cases of meth labs in the county, the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested and charged two women for the illegal purchase of  pseudoepherine/epherdrine, Lt. Chuck Hasty said in a news release.

Hasty said narcotics Agent Tim Harris conducted an investigation dating back to April of last year. Harris arrested Connie Crews Hux, 42, and Ruby May Holcomb, 64, both of Roanoke Rapids for exceeding the pseudoepherine/ephedrine limits. 

Hux was charged with 13 counts and Holcomb was charged with 16 counts. 

Hux has a $5,000 bond and Holcomb has a $2,500 bond with their court date scheduled for Nov. 4.

Hasty said North Carolina law prohibits the purchase of more than two packages of certain products containing pseudoepherine/ephedrine per day and more than three packages of certain products containing pseudoephedrine/ephedrine within a 30-day period. 

Businesses are required to keep a purchase log of each sale of certain products containing the drugs and must maintain them for two years. Business are required by law to provide this information to law enforcement per request.

These are common substances used to make methamphetamine.

Meth has become a popular drug because it cheaper and has a more potent high, Hasty said in a telephone interview yesterday. Whether the arrests signal there are active meth labs in the county is a matter that remains under investigation, Hasty said.

Methamphetamine starts with the pseudoeherine or ephedrine and other household products are added to make the drug. Some of those products are paint thinner; drain cleaner, anhydrous ammonia, acetone and lithium batteries. 

The state of the community has taken its lumps over the past year with the economy, but there are still positive signs, speakers said at the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of Our Community luncheon at Kirkwood Adams Community Center today.

Audience members listened as Hobgood Mayor Tim Purvis, Roanoke Rapids Graded Schools District Board Chairman Vernon Bryant and Halifax County Board of Commissioners Chairman Gene Minton shared their views on the state of the county.

Purvis described Hobgood as a community of volunteers who work together on projects, whether it is the annual Cotton Festival or its fireworks show.

The mayor said, however, “When I talk about my vision, my picture is not a rosy one.”

He said costs have increased, electricity is going up. A proposed coal tax could raise the price of electricity 40 to 70 percent should it pass, he said. “People in small towns can’t afford it,” he said.

He said the system is broken, Washington is broken. “We need to get practical people making common sense decisions,” he said.

Education, which would be a topic throughout the event, has to start at home, the mayor said. “Parents have to be held more accountable to what their children are doing in school. Take kids that don’t want to be in school out and put them in some trade school. You would see the SAT scores go up.”

The success of small towns like Hobgood depends on the success of Roanoke Rapids, Purvis said, adding decisions made in Washington now to 10 to 15 years ago have also affected small towns. He also said the entire county must market the Roanoke River because it is one of its biggest assets.

Bryant said the city school system has long been a leader in the state, the first to have 12 grades and the first to offer kindergarten. Three of its four schools this year made ABCs of Education and Adequate Yearly Progress marks with Roanoke Rapids High School just missing the mark.

Bryant said it is important to encourage students to go to college. “We’ve got to change the focus on how we do business,” he said. “We have to encourage kids to enter college.”

Minton said Halifax County was able to weather the financial crisis without having to raise taxes, furlough or lay off employees.

In the tight times the county opened a new airport which outgrew its 18 hangars before opening. Now more have to be built, he said.

Minton said he expects the economy to rebound. “I expect better times,” he said.

The county is poised for that rebound with a 700-acre industrial park near the airport the county is working to get certified. The economic development commission, tourism and other agencies have done a good job selling the county, he said.

On education, Minton said, “The county is committed to education. Our goal is to give equal funding to every single school district in Halifax County.”

Minton believes the days of strife over a chairperson stalemate are over. “We’ve broken down barriers and have common goals,” a statement to which members of the county chapter of the NAACP looked at each other mockingly after Minton said it.

He said the county installed a new courthouse security system and has finally found a company for the Littleton industrial building. The company is FASTA and it represents a $2.5 million investment in the town and 105 jobs.

Meanwhile, chamber Chairman Preston McElheney, speaking at the beginning of the event, wanted to kick off the Roanoke Valley Promise, finding ways of assuring students in Halifax County have a chance to earn a two-year community college degree.