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Region: DSS probe nearing completion

Regional briefs

Cabarrus County

Gaston County

Gastonia

An investigation into allegations of mismanagement and fraud in a job retraining program at Gaston County Department of Social Services is nearing completion, authorities said Friday.

DSS director Keith Moon said a family member of a former DSS employee alleged that some DSS staff hired relatives for temporary positions and that benefits had been improperly provided. The charges focused on the Workforce Investment Act Program, which provides retraining for people who have been laid off or displaced.

Moon asked for a state audit and a review by Gaston County police into the allegations.

“County police interviewed our entire staff and some external people,” Moon said Friday. “We hope to wrap things up very soon.”

Two Workforce program employees resigned in July, but Moon said he couldn't link their departures to the allegations.

Joe DePriest

Two Cabarrus County events scheduled for today have been canceled because of the threat of bad weather.

In Kannapolis, officials canceled all events surrounding the opening of the Rogers Lake Road extension, which now is serving as the city's new east-west connector. And in Concord, the Tour de Tots and Peanut Butter & Jam Festival are also canceled.

Adam Bell

Eastern N.C.

Pocosin Lakes

The wildfire that burned more than 62 square miles in Eastern North Carolina is completely contained.

But officials said Friday that parts of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, where the fire burned, remain unsafe for the public. The fire began June 1 with a lightning strike on private land, then burned in and around the refuge.

Refuge manager Howard Phillips said the fire burned the ground under trees, which can cause the trees to fall without warning. Phillips said that prompted officials to close part of the refuge.

Associated Press

Cape Hatteras

A hearing has been scheduled on a proposed law to reduce closures to protect endangered birds and turtles on Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said the hearing would be held Thursday by the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

Jones introduced a bill to return the seashore to a previous management plan that was struck down after environmentalists sued the National Park Service. Environmental groups said the older rules didn't do enough to protect endangered species.

The seashore operated this spring and summer under the more restrictive rules that limited access to some fishing spots, prompting complaints from local businesses and fishermen.

Associated Press

Police digest

Rowan County

Kannapolis

A Kannapolis man charged this week in a sexual assault involving a 12-year-old now faces rape charges.

Kannapolis police Friday charged David Avila Garcia, 22, of Baron Ridge Road, with two counts of first-degree rape. On Wednesday, Garcia was charged with taking indecent liberties with a child.

Gail Smith-Arrants

Lincoln County

Denver

Lincoln County authorities Friday arrested an eastern Lincoln County woman, her husband and her son on nine felony counts each of cruelty to animal charges.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office reported that Vicki Rauch, 40, was charged after authorities removed nearly 400 animals from her residence during what was dubbed “Operation Noah's Ark.”

The animals were placed in temporary facilities in a warehouse at the former R-Anell Homes plant on N.C. 16 in Denver.

Authorities said Rauch's husband, Michael Rauch, 47, and her son, Brandon Olsen, 19, were also charged with nine counts each of felony cruelty to animals. Michael Rauch turned himself in Friday at the Lincoln County Magistrate's office, authorities said.

Joe DePriest

Gaston County

Mount Holly

A Charlotte woman who had already been charged in connection with a crash that killed a Charlotte trucker has now been indicted on a charge of second-degree murder, Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell said Friday.

If convicted, Charla Dean Davis, 44, could face 15 years in prison, Bell said. She also faces additional charges of driving while impaired and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting serious injury.

Earlier, Davis had been charged with felony hit-and-run, reckless driving, and driving with a revoked license. She was being held in the Gaston County Jail under a $300,000 bond.

Davis told police she was driving the Saturn Vue that struck three pedestrians Aug. 7 on the Wilkinson Boulevard bridge over the Catawba River, near the Mecklenburg-Gaston county line. One of those pedestrians, Ronnie Gene Eudy, 40, died several hours later from his injuries.

Joe DePriest

Eastern N.C.

Clinton

A former N.C. middle school teacher accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student has been arrested again after police found her with the same boy.

Jeannie Michelle Hodges resigned as a language arts teacher from Hobbton Middle School just before she was charged in July with statutory rape and accused of having an affair with a former student. Released on bond, the 40-year-old Autryville woman was ordered to stay away from the boy.

But WRAL-TV reported Friday that Hodges was arrested Aug. 30 after her car was stopped at a checkpoint. The boy was driving; Hodges was in the passenger seat. Hodges was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and allowing an unlicensed driver to drive.

Associated Press
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