Florida man hikes 930-mile N.C. trail

A Florida man has completed walking North Carolina's 930-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Scot Ward arrived at Jockey's Ridge State Park on Sunday, completing a trek that began May 23 at Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountains.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that Ward said the last day was the best since he started.

Ward dodged cars and tropical storms, suffered dehydration and followed a trail that is sparsely marked and not yet complete.

He hopes to write a guidebook for the trail. Associated Press

Meck briefs


The area's only psychiatric emergency department, at Carolinas Medical Center-Randolph, will open expanded treatment space Oct. 14.

CMC-Randolph Psychiatric Emergency Department, which has child and adolescent psychiatric emergency centers in the nation, has been managed by Carolinas HealthCare System under a contract with Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health Authority since 1986.

The $6.3 million county-funded project is the first expansion of CMC-Randolph since 1976. It provides an additional 12,856 square feet of space, including separate areas for adult and adolescent patients. Construction began a year ago at 501 Billingsley Road.

In the past eight years, emergency volume at CMC-Randolph has increased by 222 percent, according to county officials. Last year, more than 16,800 patients were evaluated, and volume is expected to rise an additional 5 percent annually over the next five years.

CMC-Randolph provides comprehensive inpatient, outpatient, community-based and emergency mental health services. Karen Garloch

Mi Casa Su Casa, the local Latino advocacy center, has moved due to the fire at Central United Methodist Church.

The agency is now across the street from the church at 5601 Executive Center Drive, suite 108. The fire caused extensive damage throughout the building. The administrative offices of Mi Casa Su Casa are covered in soot, said executive director Cristina La Paz.

La Paz said the clean up could take up to three months so the center will continue to serve the community from its interim offices. Mi Casa Su Casa's phone number, 704-536-9845, has not changed. Franco Ordoñez

Regional briefs

Catawba County


Water suppliers in the upper Catawba River basin loosened water-use restrictions last week.

Unless drought conditions worsen, customers may now water their yards twice a week rather than just once a week through at least Nov. 30.

The suppliers include Hickory and its customers, along with Lenoir, Morganton, Conover, Claremont, Granite Falls, Valdese, Long View, Maiden and community water systems such as water corporations. Hannah Mitchell

Cleveland County Shelby

Destination Cleveland County on Monday broke ground for the Don Gibson Theater in the former State Theatre on South Washington Street in Shelby.

The 440-seat venue, scheduled for completion in August 2009, is named for Shelby native Don Gibson, a singer/songwriter who died in 2003. Gibson wrote such classics as “I Can't Stop Loving You” and “Sweet Dreams.”

The renovated 1939 art deco theater will have state-of-the-art technical equipment and be the site for a regional performing arts center.

The city of Shelby has issued a lease agreement with the nonprofit Destination Cleveland County for the theater and approved a $500,000 challenge grant for the renovation. The N.C. Rural Center approved a $400,000 grant for the project, which is part of the local Rhythm and Roots campaign. Joe DePriest

Kings Mountain

Police say a man was killed Sunday when he misjudged the speed of an approaching train.

The victim was identified as Robert Lee Black, 41, of Kings Mountain.

Police say he died about 1 a.m. Sunday while trying to cross the tracks on North Piedmont Avenue. Police say the incident happened near the train depot. Steve Lyttle

Horry County, S.C.


The Defense Department says a soldier from Conway has died in Iraq after his vehicle was hit with an improved explosive device.

The department said Monday on its Web site that 33-year-old Staff Sgt. Ronald Phillips Jr. died Thursday in Bahbahani.

Phillips was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart.

Phillips' father, also named Ronald, told The Sun News of Myrtle Beach on Monday that his eldest son was his hero. The father said he hadn't seen his son in more than a year, but that Ron Jr. had been scheduled to return home this week on leave. Associated Press

Police digest

Durham County


Two murder suspects were involved in a fight at the Durham County Jail in which two detention officers and four inmates were injured.

Durham County Sheriff's Capt. Ricky Buchanan said inmates in a cell pod refused to be locked back in Saturday night and assaulted the detention officer on duty.

The Herald-Sun of Durham reported Monday that warrants showed that 19-year-old Stephen Oates, and 31-year-old Roderick Jerome Wooten were among five men charged with resisting an officer in the scuffle.

Oates is charged with murder in the death of Duke grad student Abhijit Mahato. Also charged in that case is Laurence Alvin Lovette, who is charged with the murder of UNC Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson. added thisWooten is charged in the 2005 death of Jason Harrington. Associated Press

Gaston County


A man charged with murder in the heart attack death of 79-year-old Mary Parnell, when police said he burst into her home last week, appeared in court Monday.

But despite Larry Whitfield's apology, a Gaston County judge declined to reduce his $175,000 bond, WCNC-TV, the Observer's news partner, reported.

“I didn't mean for none of this to happen,” Whitfield told the court.

Quanterrious McCoy also was in court. His mother told a judge her son was an honor student with a clean record who deserved a lower bond. The judge also denied her request.

Whitfield and McCoy were together Friday as police pursued two men following an attempted credit union robbery in Gastonia. The men wrecked their car and ran and McCoy was found hiding, police said.

Whitfield is accused of breaking into one home and accosting the owner with a knife. Police say Parnell had a heart attack after he broke into her home. Victoria Cherrie