Ripple in review: 2013

Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter

January 2, 2014

Looking back at the headlines of 2013’s The Yadkin Ripple, two words come to mind: crime and punishment.

Throughout the year, The Ripple brought together the stories of criminal activity and the repercussions of those actions. The Ripple was there to bring the tough stories to life through the written word and candid photographs.

There were kinder moments in Yadkin County as well. The county made new deals to purchase water, the school system welcomed a new superintendent, and commissioners voted in a new, lower property tax rate.

The Ripple was there for major election moments as well. Voters in the county struck down a proposed sales tax hike, while Jonesville voted to bring in alcohol for sale.

The list of stories is not all-inclusive, but it touches on some of the stories of which the readers paid special attention.

Greg Martin

Following the capture of Sgt. Greg Martin’s alleged murderer in October 2012, family members and fellow police officers were able to breathe a bit easier.

In February 2013, it was announced that Scott Vincent Sica, the alleged shooter of Martin in 1996, could face the death penalty for his actions.

One of Sica’s two accomplices in the failed robbery that led up to the murder told investigators that Sica was the man behind the fateful shot.

Brian Eugene Whittaker was the only eye witness to the shooting. The two had began driving away from Jonesville in a stolen truck when Martin pulled them over on I-77.

Whittaker said Sica shot Martin when Martin uncovered their bag of masks and robbery equipment.

Whittaker and the third man had been charged with first-degree murder in January.

Drug arrests

While drugs are becoming a common occurrence in Yadkin, the arrests are, too.

One case in Jan. 24’s Ripple saw 11 people arrested in conjunction with more than 100 drug charges.

Sheriff’s deputies searched several vehicles and a motel room, finding hundreds of prescription pills, 220 grams of crack cocaine, three marijuana plants, six firearms and $515 in cash. Two vehicles also were seized.

All but one of the suspects were from Yadkin County. The other was from Winston-Salem.

Indecent liberties by custodian

James Larry Sheek, 68, of Yadkinville, was arrested March 15 on one felony count of taking indecent liberties with a student by school personnel.

Sheek was a custodian at Forbush High School. Sheriff Ricky Oliver said the alleged incident took place on school property and may have happened immediately after school hours.

School system superintendent at that time Dr. Stewart Hobbs said Sheek had been put on suspension and dismissal procedures had begun pending the completion of the investigation.

Jonesville alcohol

After previous attempts failed, Jonesville voted in three new alcohol laws November.

The town passed malt beverages, an ABC store and mixed beverage referendum in three separate ballot questions, each with more than 59 percent of the vote.

Jonesville brought the referendum to a vote following a presentation by the Jonesville Tourism Development Authority to the town council.

Anita Darnell, head of the TDA, also was elected to the town council as a commissioner in November. Darnell said she would have to wait till she took office to see how the new alcohol laws would affect the town moving forward.

Jonesville businesses are beginning to apply for alcohol licenses. Many already have received their permits and are selling, while the question of an ABC store and its potential opening remain uncertain.

Lower property tax

Yadkin’s county commissioners voted in May to lower property tax rates by 1.1 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The cuts came after the board voted unanimously to approve a $34,967,886 budget, cutting $294,138. County Manager Aaron Church said he found the cuts through a $95,000 reduction in debt services, a $60,000 cut in non-departmental line item, and $139,138 reduction in personnel.

The new rate is set at 67.9 cents per $100, from 69 cents.

Church said he found several line items in the budget that were unaccounted for when he took the manager job. Many of those mystery items have been eliminated or cut back to allow for budget cuts.

The cuts came after the county applied for a grant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a new agricultural center. Yadkin was told it had too much money in its general fund, so cuts were made and the savings passed onto the citizens.

Higher sales tax

In September, the board of commissioners voted to place a sales tax rate increase on the November ballot.

The quarter of a percent increase would have brought the county’s sales tax from 6.75 percent to an even 7 percent.

Proponents of the increase said the rate would pass the tax burden away from property owners to all consumers who pass through the county. Opponents questioned what good the tax would do, as it would not be levied on gas, unprepared food or medicine — leaving little else in the county to be taxed but restaurant meals and the odd clothing purchase.

Voters chose not to adopt the rate increase in a 58 percent vote against.

Commissioners can bring up the referendum again any time, as the referendum did not require any “cooling period” between this and subsequent votes.

School superintendent

Dr. Todd Martin became Yadkin County Schools’ newest superintendent Sept. 30.

Martin was sworn in the evening before he took his post on Oct. 1. He took over for former superintendent and Martin’s former boss Dr. Stewart Hobbs.

Martin previously served as assistant superintendent in Stokes County and has a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Western Carolina. He also holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Appalachian State University and a doctorate from Gardner-Webb University.

Arlington fire

Terrie Lynn Parsons, 49, died after her home in the former town of Arlington caught fire March 3. At least five area fire departments responded, and Parsons husband, Michael, also was injured.

Officials with the SBI investigated the fire, but no word has been given to their findings as of press time.

Winston water

A deal to buy water from Winston-Salem could lead to economic growth in eastern Yadkin County, according to County Manager Aaron Church.

Yadkin will link with the Winston-Salem Utility Commission and purchase water from the city. The water will then be sold to East Bend to provide uncontaminated water for the town.

East Bend’s water was treated with chlorine and stored, but harmful byproducts resulting from the water not being sold and used quickly enough caused the water to be unsafe.

Eventually the county hopes to see businesses locate in the eastern portion of the county and utilize the new water lines available.

The articles reviewed are compiled from former reporters Lindsay Craven and Taylor Pardue.