Gaston & Catawba

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Catawba County

Hickory bans sex offenders

Registered sex offenders will no longer be allowed in Hickory parks and recreation centers now that the City Council has approved a ban.

Hickory is the second city in the four-county area, after Morganton, to approve such a measure.

Hickory's new law will apply to nonviolent sex offenders as well as violent offenders.

Local officials plan to place signs outside recreation facilities informing sex offenders that they can't enter. They'll also send letters to registered offenders who live in the region.

Civil liberties advocates have opposed such measures, saying they violate offenders' rights. Hannah Mitchell

Brownfields meeting

Hickory officials have set a public meeting to talk about a new brownfield redevelopment program.

Brownfields are sites that are potentially contaminated with toxic material. A meeting to discuss them will be 7 p.m. Thursday at the Highland Recreation Center on Eighth Street Drive N.E.

City staff and environmental consultants will explain the program and ask for questions and suggestions.

The city has grant money to assess whether a site has contamination, spur redevelopment plans and market properties. Details: 828-323-7422. Hannah Mitchell

Ban on bars considered

A temporary halt on new or expanded bars, nightclubs and dance clubs is under consideration in Hickory.

The Hickory City Council has set a Sept. 2 public hearing on a proposal to suspend new bar or club zoning permits for 120 days. If approved, the moratorium would give officials time to rethink the process used to allow businesses that get most of their revenue from alcohol sales. Changes could include restricting such businesses to certain zoning districts.

The proposed moratorium wouldn't include bars that sell significant amounts of food.

City officials say they're concerned about a rising number of police calls to the city's 14 bars and nightclubs, said Assistant City Manager Andrea Surratt. The city could require the businesses to get special-use permits, which involve public hearings and site plans.

“That would give neighbors more of a voice,” Surratt said. Hannah Mitchell

Gaston County

School open houses

These schools will hold orientations and open houses today:

Kiser Elementary: 2-3 p.m., third grade; New Hope Elementary: 2 p.m., kindergarten; Rankin Elementary: 2-3 p.m., grades 1-5; Springfield Elementary: 3 p.m., grades 1-2; 4 p.m., kindergarten. Leigh Pressley