The Lenoir News-Topic is a 5-days-per-week newspaper in Caldwell County North Carolina. I cover government and business at the paper. These are my best pieces from my time with the paper.
'Cornerstone' of Caldwell's music dies
"Carolina" Ray Whisnant, a renown musician in Caldwell County passed away, so I reached out to fellow musicians and family to write a remembrance of the popular picker.
EPA Grant saves small business
My sources in the government tipped me to this neat story about a small business owner who put all his money into a property that turned out to have an expensive environmental issue. The city found a workaround to use its EPA grant to help the owner.
City sees potential in West End
This article is another part of the story of housing in Lenoir. The city was planning a small area study that would look at individual parcels to promote growth in the neighborhood, so I spoke with local community leaders about how the issues affects them.
Samson keeping plans quiet
Samson, a furniture company based in China, bought the two Heritage Home Group factories in Lenoir when HHG filed for bankruptcy in the fall, but the company kept its plans quiet. I spoke with industry experts and examined Samson's past to give insight into what they might do.
Big Lots buys Broyhill
The Broyhill was sold to an unidentified buyer after the Heritage Home Group bankruptcy. I was the first in the country to figure out who bought it. I had the thought to check trademark records and found the documentation before any other outlet.
'What a great company it was'
After Heritage Home Group went under, it meant the end of Broyhill in Caldwell County — a company that shaped the county. I wrote about its history and impact and spoke with past employees and Paul Broyhill, an interview I was honored to conduct
Activists still pursue decades old cause
The Caldwell Systems Inc. incinerator and landfill was planned and built in the 1970s, and these activists opposed it then. Decades later, when issues surrounding the landfill arose again, these two were still involved, so I wrote a profile on them and their dedication.
Industries show teachers what it takes
I followed teachers on a tour around industries all over the county, which is part of the county's efforts to help teachers inform their students about job opportunities available in their community.
Blowing Rock says Caldwell owes big debt
I was tipped off to a dispute over occupancy taxes between Caldwell County and Blowing Rock. Since, I've followed the lawsuit as the two governments have sparred over the tax money.
Animal control director making strides
After years of complaints and state violations at the Caldwell County Animal Control Shelter, it got a new director who made changes to improve the shelter. The issue was brought up at multiple county meetings and was an important topic for residents.
Lenoir violated wastewater rules
Through state Department of Environmental Quality documents I regularly check on, I found out the city had been violating wastewater pretreatment rules for almost two years.
Google not just an employer
On the 10th anniversary of Google opening a data center in Lenoir, I wrote this article about what it was like for such a big company to Caldwell County, and the company means to the community — the good and bad.
Sawmills flushes sewer expansion
The town of Sawmills wrestled over a sewer expansion — only 30 percent of the town is covered – so I found people who were desperately in need of a sewer connection.
Schools try to tackle poverty
I talked to teachers and administrators who confront poverty every day about the schools' role in helping their students who live in low-income households.
Companies have jobs, seek skills
Companies in Caldwell County face a problem many do: an unqualified workforce that can't fill their more high-tech jobs. I looked at how schools are trying to shrink that skill gap.
In Lenoir recount, Beal still wins
After the Lenoir City Council election ended with an incumbent losing by five votes, they held a recount. While the vote came out the same, I focused on the recount event itself like the feel of the room, and the candidates demeanor.
Highway will take bite — but how big?
As the NCDOT settled plans to widen a four-lane highway to six, I looked at what real estate the plans would take through our county. Using road plans and county maps I found how many properties would be affected and spoke with owners about how they felt.
Attack on blight gets new tool
To deal with Lenoir's vacant housing problem the city started using tax foreclosure to crack down on the worst houses. I followed up when the first batch of houses were foreclosed, demolished and sold.
Toxic waste fell through the cracks
A superfund site in Caldwell County was supposed to have a study done nearly a decade ago. EPA, NCDEQ and the county all didn't notice until this year.
Company: Landfill won't spray waste
Multiple outlets across the state reported that a waste management company with a landfill in Caldwell County got approval to test a new liquid waste disposal method. I did some digging and found out the company got approval and tested the method years ago.
U.S. 321 change alarms businesses
Plans to widen the main highway through Caldwell County got the community up in arms. In this piece followed the story through the eyes of business owners at the heart of the largest change to the road.