The Region | Highway name honors firefighters

Officials have formally renamed part of U.S. 17 in Charleston as the Charleston Nine Memorial Highway for the firefighters killed in a furniture store blaze last year.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reported that more than 40 people turned out for the ceremony at the site of the Sofa Super Store. A 3.6-mile stretch of the highway is being named to honor the dead firefighters.

State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis said the road's new name will ensure generations will be reminded of the firefighters' bravery.

State officials, city leaders, firefighters and the families of the dead firefighters attended the ceremony.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told the crowd the city will never forget the men's “instinctive and selfless” actions.

Associated Press

Regional briefs

Catawba County Hickory

Ric Vandett, superintendent of Hickory Public Schools, has announced his retirement at the end of the 2008-09 school year, the district announced.

Vandett was named superintendent of Hickory schools in July 2006 after serving as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for six years.

Leigh Pressley

North Carolina Raleigh

David Lance Upchurch was found not guilty Monday in the death of Noah the Chihuahua.

The case of Noah's death divided a southeast Raleigh neighborhood and drew big interest from the general public and members of the legal profession. And it may not be over.

Upchurch, 38, who works in the information services department of The News & Observer, was found not guilty of cruelty to animals after Wake District Court Judge William Lawton ruled he could not conclude Upchurch caused the death of the 12-year-old, long-haired dog.

Thomasi McDonald, (Raleigh) News & Observer

An N.C. Court of Appeals ruling says the author of a book about Clay Aiken can seek compensation from an incident involving the “American Idol” singer's bodyguard.

In the ruling filed Tuesday, a judge said Jeannie Holleman had provided enough support for her claim for compensation.

At a fundraising event in Hawaii in 2005, Holleman says Aiken's bodyguard grabbed her and pulled her from a chair she was seated in next to Aiken.

Holleman wrote a book, “Out of the Blue … Clay it Forward – How One Man & His Fans Are Changing The World.” Holleman said Aiken's mother and family friends conspired against the book, calling it untrue and disparaging it on fan sites.

Associated Press

Police digest

Mecklenburg County Charlotte

A glass panel from a skyscraper under construction fell to Tryon Street on Tuesday evening, blanketing half an uptown block in glass, but injuring no one.

One car was damaged by the shattered glass around 4:45 p.m., according to one of the more than a dozen workers sweeping up the remnants from Tryon Street and a nearby parking lot. The worker said the wind caught a glass panel that was going to be installed more than a dozen stories up on the Wachovia tower. There were no reported injuries, though police blocked off a section of Tryon Street for a portion of rush hour, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokeswoman Officer Jean Wassenaar.

The building has been under construction since 2006. Wachovia and the tower's other tenants – including Duke Energy – will move in beginning in 2010.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

Cabarrus County Concord

A Cabarrus County mother, accused of giving her youngest son a lethal dose of drugs, faced a judge for the first time Monday on a second-degree murder charge.

Cabarrus County Sheriff Brad Riley told WCNC that Robin Dale Lee, 45, drugged both of her sons with the painkiller methadone.

“The methadone contributed to Phillip's death,” said Riley.

On Sept. 1, investigators found the body of 5-year-old Phillip Lee at the family home on Lower Stone Church Road in Cabarrus County. Phillip's 13-year-old brother, Alex Martinez, wasn't feeling well and called 911 after finding his dead brother. Their mother was unresponsive.

Martinez was hospitalized because of a drug overdose. Robin Lee was also treated at a hospital.

Lee also faces two counts of child abuse and two counts of providing a controlled substance to a minor, methadone.

She is being held at the Cabarrus County jail under a $750,000 bond. Her probable cause hearing is scheduled for Nov. 25.


York County, S.C. Fort Mill

A Fort Mill man boarded a school bus Monday afternoon at the Steele Street Park bus stop and threatened students from Fort Mill Elementary School, according to district Superintendent Keith Callicutt.

Callicutt said the district plans to press charges against the man. District officials did not release the name of the man.

Callicutt said Fort Mill Elementary School Principal Karen Helms will notify parents of the incident in a letter to be sent home with students.

The incident happened as the bus was dropping off students after school Monday.

“We will press charges and let the court system handle it,” Callicutt said. “We take this very seriously.”

Jonathan Allen, (Fort Mill Times)

Cleveland County Shelby

Four men are in a Cleveland County jail after being arrested in connection with a home invasion and robbery late Monday in Shelby.

According to police, four men broke into a house on Bowman Street and demanded money from the couple living there. The incident happened about 11:30 p.m. Police responded and arrested four suspects a short time later.

The four are Shelby residents and were identified by Shelby police as:

Calvin Obrian Ross, 21, charged with breaking and entering; robbery with a dangerous weapon; possession of a firearm by a felon.

Billy Tequan Borders, 27, charged with breaking and entering; robbery with a dangerous weapon; possession of a firearm by a felon.

Timothy Lemont Surratt, 25, charged with breaking and entering; robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Eric Eugene Goode, 20, charged with breaking and entering; robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Steve Lyttle