The Census has been extended. For now, the extension is until October 31st by order of a federal judge, but that decision has been appealed, so it could happen sooner. It was supposed to have ended September 30th. At this point, North Carolina's count of people is still about 6% short of what was expected. The state has had a miserable self-response rate. Only 62.5% of households have self-responded. With followup collecting info adding another 31.5% we're up to 94%. That failure to be counted will quite possibly keep North Carolina from getting another seat in Congress and will mean more money from federal grants will go to other states instead--making North Carolinians have to pay more in state and local taxes than they would have. If you haven't responded or had a census-taker get your information, please do it now at at http://my2020census.gov or 844-330-2020. Amazon and Google already know more about you than the Census will ever ask, so it's NOT an invasion of your privacy or any other such nonsense as you may have seen some post on Facebook.
NCDOT Distributing Powell Bill Funds
For anyone who doesn't know, not all streets in towns & cities are officially city streets. Major thoroughfares and some others are state-maintained. The towns & cities rely on money from the Powell Bill, a state program, for some of the money to maintain their city-owned roads. The money, allocated in October and in increments at other times, can also be used to build and maintain sidewalks, greenways, bikeways, etc. NCDOT announced this week the October allocations. Lincolnton will get $145,965.41 this month and a total of $291,930.82 for the fiscal 2020-2021 year. Here are the total allocations and October amounts for some area towns:
High Shoals $17,685.44...$8,842.72
Hickory $ 1,118,766.04...$559,383.02
CLICK HERE to see the complete list.
Labor Department Presents Annual Safety Awards
The NC Department of Labor recognized area employers and employees Thursday (Oct. 1st). The event, sponsored by the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, is usually a gathering for a banquet, but due to the pandemic, this year, it was virtual.
Among those recognized were American Woodmark Corporation, which received a Million Hour Award for operating over a million hours with no lost-time accidents. Duke Energy's Turbine Combustion Plant received a 24th Consecutive Year award; Salem Industries, an 11th Consecutive Year award. Cherie Berry provided keynote remarks at the virtual meeting, which was her final safety awards presentation as Labor Commissioner.
Another Suspect Arrested
Hickory Police have announced the arrrest of a second suspect from a shooting that occurred on August 3rd in the parking lot of the Days Inn on 13th Avenue Drive NW in that city. Markus Deontae Williams, 26, of Conover, was arrested by the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office on two charges of Assault With a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill and one charge of Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. Williams is being held under a $230,000 secured bond on those charges at the Catawba County Detention Facility as well as multiple additional charges unrelated to this case.
United Way Selects Officers for Coming Year
The United Way of Lincoln County held its annual 'meeting' by way of emails in mid-September. Fred Jarrett, the new chairman of the United Way board of directors will have to remember which hat to wear. Fred is also chairman of the Lincoln County Republican Party and chairman of the city's Downtown Steering Committee. Jordan Frye of Atrium Health will serve as vice chair; Lindsey Huffman, as treasurer. Natalie Ducharme is the 2020-2021 Campaign Committee chair; Health Belcher will be co-chair. Anthony Simpson will chair the Allocations Committee and Richie Haynes the Nominations Committee. United Way Executive Director Kathy Vinzant has announced her pending retirement; we'll tell more about that in a coming separate article.
Cool, Clear Water
The NC Division of Water Resources has honored 55 water treatment plants for surpassing federal and state drinking water standards in 2019. The division’s Public Water Supply section recognized eight facilities with the “Gold Star” honor, an award for systems that have received the NC Area Wide Optimization Award for 10 consecutive years. The city of Lincolnton's water treatment plant has received that award so many times that statewide, public water systems talk about "the Lincolnton standard" as a measure of the very best in water treatment facilities. In addition to Lincolnton, "Gold Star" systems for 2019 included Weaverville-Ivy River, Marion, Waynesville-Allens Creek, Maggie Valley Sanitary District, Wilkesboro, Harnett County, and Henderson-Kerr Lake Regional Water Authority.
Among other area water systems recognized for meeting the highest standards in 2019 were Cherryville, the Cleveland County Water System, and Hickory.
Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) decreased in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties in August. Scotland County had the highest unemployment rate at 11.6 percent, while Camden and Watauga Counties each had the lowest at 4.6 percent. The August statewide rate was 6.8 percent.
Lincoln County had the 28th lowest rate in the state at 5.8% (compared to 7.6% in July and 3.7% in August 2019). Other area counties also saw improvement--Catawba County's rate was 7%, down from 9.2% in July; Gaston County's rate was 7.5%, down from 9.6% in July; and Cleveland County's rate was 7%, down from 9% in July.
Oktoberfest Castle of Cans
Another annual tradition is going to be different this year. Since 1999, Hickory's Octoberfest has included a Castle of Cans annual food drive. This year, it will be a virtual fundraising campaign. For every $5 collected, Second Harvest Food Bank can typically distribute 35 lbs. of food to soup kitchens and agencies including the Corner Table of Newton, Eastern Catawba County Cooperative Christian Ministries, Exodus Homes, the Family Care Center, Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministries, the Hickory Soup Kitchen and the Salvation Army.
Food Lion is again providing its support by donating 5,000 pounds of canned goods to the Oktoberfest Castle of Cans campaign through its Food Lion Feeds hunger-relief initiative. For information about the Castle of Cans, contact Carleen Crawford at 828-781-0845 or Amy Ogle at 828-322-1121.