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Trail project wins $8 million grant

A state environmental agency has awarded more than $8 million to create a network of trails in the Charlotte region and protect nationally-recognized Wilson Creek in Caldwell County.

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund said Wednesday it has granted $3 million to the Carolina Thread Trail, an ambitious project to link greenways, trails and open space across 15 counties in the Charlotte region.

The grant to the Catawba Lands Conservancy, which administers the initiative, will be used to buy land in Mecklenburg and Gaston counties.

More than 800 acres along Wilson Creek, a National Wild and Scenic River in Caldwell County, will be protected with $5.5 million in trust-fund grants to Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina. The creek has been threatened by development.

One $4.8 million grant will buy 649 acres that is the largest privately-owned but unprotected tract within the creek's watershed. A second $693,000 grant will buy an easement protecting 170 acres along the creek.

Bruce Henderson

Meck briefs

Charlotte

Three new stores will be coming to SouthPark mall, including one store that's new to the market, the center has announced.

Aeropostale and American Apparel will open later this month, and a Michael Kors store will open in November. The SouthPark Michael Kors store will be Charlotte's first.

Aeropostale will occupy more than 3,600 square feet in the Macy's wing. The retailer specializes in casual apparel and accessories primarily targeting teens ages 14-17. It replaces Bombay Co. and will open Aug. 29.

American Apparel will be in the main entrance near Wolf Camera and occupy 3,500 square feet. The Los Angeles-based chain focuses on T-shirts and other casual wear. It replaces Sharper Image and will open by the end of August.

Michael Kors will occupy nearly 2,000 square feet in the Nordstrom wing. Kors is a leading fashion designer who focuses on luxury “jet-setting” accessories and sportswear. The store replaces Sigrid Olsen and is scheduled to open in mid-November. Nichole Monroe Bell

Former Air Force Col. Quincy Collins, who shared a prison cell with John McCain in Vietnam, will speak at the Mecklenburg Evening Republican Women's Club on Tuesday. Collins, of Charlotte, will speak to the group at Captain Steve's Seafood Restaurant, 8517 Monroe Road. Dinner is at 6 p.m., the program at 6:30 p.m.

Jim Morrill

Regional briefs

Cabarrus County Midland

A 2-year-old Midland girl who was reported missing Wednesday was found in a neighbor's pool and has died, the Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office said.

The sheriff's office provided these details in a news release:

At 10:33 a.m., deputies were sent to 11850 Jim Mossman Road after a parent of Bethany Baltimore reported her missing. A neighbor found the girl in a nearby pool.

The neighbor, a certified emergency medical technician, pulled the girl from the pool and began CPR. Bethany was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast in Concord where she was later pronounced dead. An autopsy is planned through the medical examiner's office in Charlotte. The criminal investigations division of the sheriff's department is continuing to investigate the death.

Adam Bell

Durham County Durham

A Connecticut man has sold his collection of more than 280 old-fashioned spittoons to the Duke Homestead State Historic Site near Durham.

The N.C. Division of State Historic Sites has bought the collection of 282 spittoons from Jim Kinner of Jewett City, Conn., for $6,700, which state officials said was about half the market value.

The spittoons are made of brass, glass and porcelain and are in different shapes, such as turtles or fish. Some are decorated with floral patterns while others are glazed in a mottled orange and brown.

Kinner's collection ended up at the Duke Homestead after a board member read about the collection and approached him.

The Duke Homestead is on 44 acres in Durham County and is where farmer Washington Duke began manufacturing smoking tobacco. Associated Press

Police digest

Catawba County Hickory

A Hickory man has been charged with trafficking fake IDs, Lincoln County authorities said Wednesday.

The suspect, Emilio Camarena Guzman, 33, was charged on Friday with one count of trafficking in stolen identities and three counts of financial identity theft, according to the Sheriff's Office.

He was being held in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $40,000 secured bond.

Authorities said Guzman was arrested after making arrangements to make false identification for an unidentified illegal immigrant. According to the Sheriff's Office, Guzman met with the person one day to take a picture and returned the next day with an N.C. Driver's License and number along with a Social Security number and card for a price of $150. Joe DePriest

Chester County, S.C. Richburg

One person was killed in a single-vehicle wreck Tuesday night in Chester County.

The S.C. Highway Patrol said a man died when he apparently lost control of the vehicle on Hunter Road, about two miles south of Richburg.

The wreck happened about 8:20 p.m. The victim, whose name was not released by troopers, was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle.

The Rock Hill Herald said it was told that the driver went off the right side of the road, overcorrected, and then went off the left side of Hunter Road. The truck overturned, and the victim died at the scene. Steve Lyttle

Cleveland County Shelby

A sheriff's deputy shot and wounded a suspect early Wednesday during a confrontation near Shelby, authorities say.

The incident happened at a residence on East Green Street, the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office says. Authorities say the shooting resulted from a confrontation between deputies and multiple suspects. NewsChannel36, the Observer's news partner, reported that two deputies were sent to the house after receiving a 911 call.

The deputies questioned two suspects separately. One suspect pulled a gun on a deputy, NewsChannel36 reported, and the deputy fired at the man, wounding him in the chest. The suspect was taken to Cleveland Regional Medical Center in Shelby and is expected to survive, authorities say.

Neither of the deputies was wounded. An investigation, involving local authorities and the State Bureau of Investigation, is under way. Steve Lyttle

Lincoln County Vale

A Vale couple faces charges in connection with the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl, authorities said Wednesday.

According to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Jimmy Dean Black, 34, was charged with statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a minor. Patricia Ann Black, 36, was charged with accessory after the fact.

Authorities said Jimmy Dean Black is accused of having sex with the girl and showing her sexually explicit movies. Patricia Black is charged with knowing about the incidents and not reporting them to law enforcement.

Joe DePriest

Mecklenburg County Charlotte

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department unit that tracks and arrests violent criminals has made its 1,000th arrest – a woman wanted for armed robbery.

Octavia Clipper, 19, was arrested around 2:50 p.m. Wednesday, police said. Police say Clipper fled to New York City with another suspect and had recently returned to Charlotte.

The unit was started in 2005 to apprehend robbery suspects. Cleve Wootson Jr.

Union County Monroe

Police say insurance fraud was the motive behind a weekend fire that damaged a Monroe beauty salon.

Monroe police charged the salon's co-owners and two alleged accomplices in connection with the fire Sunday evening at 1401A W. Roosevelt Blvd.

The fire caused more than $200,000 in damage to Body Scapes Salon and adjoining businesses in a strip mall near N.C. 200, said Chief Ron Fowler of the Monroe Fire Department. The blaze followed a failed attempt to set fire to the building on Saturday. That incident was not reported, Fowler said. No one was injured, he said.

Co-owner Hope Mullis, 40, of Monroe, was charged with two counts each of insurance fraud and conspiracy, plus one count each of burning a building and attempting to burn a building – all felonies, according to a Monroe Police Department news release. Co-owner Michele Blanton, 43, of Monroe, faces felony charges of conspiracy and two counts of insurance fraud, police said.

Police said two women acted as accomplices. Police said they are Angela Haley and Robin Sell, both of Monroe. Haley, 38, is charged with two counts of conspiracy, and single counts of burning a building and attempting to burn a building, all felonies, police said. Sell, 39, is charged with two felony counts of conspiracy, police said.

Mike Torralba
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