The Region | Mooresville to fix utility bills error

Water and sewer customers in Mooresville were shocked to open their mail last weekend and discover they'd been double-billed on their monthly water and sewer statements.

Town officials said a computer error is to blame and that residents will be billed only for the “current charges” line on their bill. The computer erroneously added that charge to the “previous balance” line and doubled the total amount due.

Maia Setzer, the town's director of administration and finance, stood inside town hall to explain the error to dozens of puzzled residents who showed up to inquire about their bills on Monday. The town also posted notices on the front doors of town hall to explain the mishap.

Residents on automatic draft will see the correct amount drafted on Nov. 10, Setzer said.

Joe Marusak

Regional briefs

Cabarrus County | Kannapolis

Billionaire David Murdock, the developer of the $1.5 billion North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, will be on Martha Stewart's nationally syndicated TV show Wednesday morning to detail his views on proper nutrition and diet.

Murdock, who owns Dole Food, created the 350-acre campus to focus on health and nutrition. He also will assist Stewart in making a longtime family treat featuring roasted pineapples.

The campus opened last month, three years after Murdock unveiled plans for it.

The campus is a collaboration with N.C. universities and private companies and is being built on the site of the former Pillowtex mill complex, which closed in 2003.

Adam Bell

Burke County | Pisgah

A Mebane rock climber was being treated Monday for serious injuries he received Sunday in a fall in the Pisgah National Forest in Burke County.

Justin Almers, 28, was climbing with a friend in the Table Rock area Sunday when Almers fell more than 100 feet, leaving him suspended by a climbing rope 200-300 feet from the ground, according to Burke County Emergency Services.

Because of the rough terrain and the height Almers hung from, it took rescuers four hours to reach the climber and another 10 hours to get him off the mountain, said Maj. Ken Anthony, emergency services operations director.

Almers suffered deep cuts to his head and torso as he hit the rock during his fall.

Hannah Mitchell

Catawba County | Hickory

Two school mascots that have identified a Catawba County community for decades set off a debate here last week about race and whether it's OK to use an ethnic image to promote school pride.

The Catawba County school board settled the issue officially when it voted Monday to maintain the St. Stephens Indian and the Arndt Middle School Redskin as the schools' mascots.

But debate lingers about the images. School officials, parents and students say they honor American Indians by depicting them as brave and noble, while Native American advocates consider such mascots derogatory representations.

Eddie Davis, a former state school board member and former president of the N.C. Association of Educators, is traveling the state, asking school districts to get rid of American Indian-related mascots.

He said the symbols offend American Indians. After he left the state school board in 2001, the board asked districts to consider retiring such mascots, and some have done so. Now Davis has taken on the cause himself, petitioning districts with the mascots to get rid of them.

St. Stephens High School Principal DeAnna Taylor, who graduated from Arndt and St. Stephens, said the mascots respect American Indians. She assumes that officials adopted the symbols because the county is named for the Catawba Indians.

Taylor said the community hasn't called for the mascots' removal and that unless residents or school or state officials do so, the images will remain.

“It's never been used in a derogatory way,” she said. “It's always been about bravery, about being something that's admired.”

Hannah Mitchell

Eastern N.C. | Morehead City

An N.C. dentist is offering kids cash for Halloween candy.

The Daily News of Jacksonville reported Monday that Dr. Jack Winchester of Morehead City is paying $1 a pound for the candy to promote dental health. He said the buyback runs through today, and the candy will be sent to deployed troops.

Winchester said he got the idea at a dental seminar. He bought 300 pounds of candy last year and hopes to double that amount this year.

In addition to candy, Winchester mailed troops cards and colored pages from the kids who turned in their stash. He is a former Navy dentist and said he enjoyed getting letters and gifts during deployments.

Associated Press

Police digest

Gaston County | Kings Mountain

A man found dead on Interstate 85 near Kings Mountain early Sunday was assaulted and then hit several times by vehicles, authorities said today.

Gaston County Police Capt. Calvin Shaw said a Honduran ID card was found near the body. Authorities have a good idea of who the man is but are not releasing the name until they can confirm it, he said. Shaw said police are working with the Honduran consulate to find a possible next of kin.

Shaw said an autopsy on Monday revealed the man had been assaulted by at least one person, or perhaps more. But he would give no details of the assault.

The N.C. Highway Patrol received a call about 1 a.m. on Sunday, reporting that a body was in the southbound lanes of I-85.

The man was not wearing a shirt, and troopers did not find a car on the scene that might have belonged to him. Police couldn't provide a description of the clothing the man was wearing.

Authorities asked anyone with information in the case to call the Gaston County Police at 704-866-3320.

Joe DePriest

Wake County | Raleigh

Best-selling author Kaye Gibbons is expected in court on felony charges of obtaining prescription drugs through fraud.

The “Ellen Foster” novelist, who lives in Raleigh, was arrested Sunday and charged with obtaining property by false pretense and illegal possession of a controlled substance.

Raleigh police Lt. David Linthicum said a pharmacy alerted authorities when Gibbons tried to pick up the prescription painkiller hydrocodone. The 48-year-old was released from jail Sunday after posting $5,500 bail.

Gibbons is expected in court next month on similar charges, including obtaining controlled substances by misrepresenting herself as a doctor.

Associated Press