Top stories of the decade
Publication Salisbury Post
Date January 01, 2010
Section(s) News
Brief Here are some of the top stories of the past decade. Not every year is represented, but here's what we found in Post files:



Here are some of the top stories of the past decade. Not every year is represented, but here's what we found in Post files:


- F&M Bank strikes deal with the county to buy Main Street property, which will become its new headquarters. F&M plans to open Easy Street corridor to rear garden and donates second building to Waterworks Visual Arts Center.

- With construction falling behind, Southeast Middle School. School opens with student body split between other schools. Finally, school opens on Oct. 11.

- Chamber of Commerce builds new Gateway center at the entrance to Salisbury on Innes Street.

- Almost 2,000 people lose jobs. Ball Corp., Federal Mogul and Color-Tex close. Freightliner lays off a third of its work force, and Pillowtex closes it Park Avenue neighborhood plant.

- "Want To Be A VJ" contest draws national attention to Spencer and the Transportation Museum as young people from all over take their chance at MTV stardom.

- Delhaize America completes $3.5-billion purchase of Hannaford Bros.

- Pedestrian bridge at Lowe's Motor Speedway collapses, injuring more than 100 people, three critically.

- Drought conditions show weakness of Kannapolis, Landis and China Grove supplies. Finally, Salisbury and Rowan officials — as part of deal to supply CP&L plant —reach agreement to cooperate on building lines to supply south Rowan.

- Rowan-Salisbury Schools Supt. Dr. Joe McCann retires; school board chooses Alexander County Superintendent Dr. Wiley Doby as his replacement.

- Patient Johnnie Reid, 83, pulls a gun and shoots Dr. Charles Flynn at the V.A. Medical Center. Guards kill Reid in a hail of gunfire. Sheriff's deputy who didn't search Reid before brining him in for commitment resigns.

- Entire nation mourns the death of Lakeina Francis of Rowan County and 15 other sailors killed by terrorist bombing of the USS Cole.

- Masked gunmen shoot and rob couple that own A-OK Mart in Salisbury, leaving Pralhad Patel dead. Wife Kunjbala, survives only because small caliber bullet ricochets off her skull.


- The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed us along with the rest of the world. At least one Salisbury native, Todd Isaac, who worked on the 103rd floor of one of the twin towers, perished. Volunteers from Salisbury went with a Baptist Men's feeding team to the Pentagon to provide hot meals for the emergency workers. Hundreds attended rallies in Salisbury and Kannapolis honoring the dead and those who died trying to help others.

- Dale Earnhardt dies in a crash at Daytona. Overnight, fans began creating a shrine at Earnhardt's race-car business on N.C. 136 between Kannapolis and Mooresville. About 4,500 people turned out for a memorial service at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium. Plans were made to build a statue of Earnhardt in his hometown of Kannapolis.

- Drought grips the region. Rowan and Salisbury officials sign a historic agreement to send water south, but the pipes and pumps won't be ready until the middle of 2002. Charlotte came through with a promise of water from the Catawba River, after Landis installed a pump to bring the water through a Kannapolis line.

- A recession is in full force. Pillowtex, already in bankruptcy court, and Freightliner, which already had eliminated more than 1,000 jobs here, idle thousands of workers for weeks at a time. Fuchs, a manufacturer of electric-arc furnaces and related industrial equipment, closes its Salisbury plant. The county's unemployment rate hits 11.4 percent, the highest rate in decades.

- Several local teachers run into trouble with the law with allegations of sexual misconduct, including West Rowan teacher and girls' basketball coach Angie Waddell.

- A fire at Catawba College's Foil House dormitory kills a student from New Mexico.

- Livingstone College inaugurates a new president, Dr. Algeania Freeman — the historically black college's 11th president but the first woman to lead the institution.

- Fire heavily damaged historic Stoudemire Furniture in Spencer.

- Carolina Power & Light cranks up a new $250-million peak generating plant in west Rowan, even as Entergy, a Houston-Texas-based company, and Duke Energy considers building their own plants.


- Rowan County and much of the N.C. Piedmont suffer a severe drought. Streams and wells dry up, and the Yadkin River reaches its lowest level since measurements started in 1928. Grass grows where High Rock Lake used to be.

- Catawba College finishes an academic year of tragedy in spring 2002 after four students die during three incidents — a dorm fire, a shooting on campus (with Livingstone students charged) and shootings in an off-campus apartment. New President Dr. Robert Knott brings in new philosophies and personnel.

- A band of freezing rain sweeps across the Piedmont on Dec. 4, and downed power lines plunge most homes in Rowan County into darkness. Hundreds of utility workers from other states help Duke Power Co. restore service for a record for customers knocked out of power: 1.3 million in the Carolinas. More than Hurricane Hugo.

- Using her native Salisbury as a home base, Elizabeth H. Dole becomes the first woman from North Carolina to win election to the U.S. Senate, defeating Erskine Bowles to win the retiring Jesse Helms' seat. It's the most expensive U.S. Senate race in the nation -- a $24.5 million contest.

- Rowan voters approve a $76.9 million school bond referendum.

- Gov. Mike Easley plugs holes in the state budget by withholding funds normally earmarked for local government. Rowan County approves a half-cent increase in the sales tax, raising it to 7 percent.

- School officials beef up the Rowan-Salisbury system's sexual harassment policy after more teachers face charges, including East Rowan baseball coach Jeff Safrit.

- The early morning heist of an armored van at Mault Brothers Texaco is the largest take ever in Rowan County history. A clue led investigators to Randolph Albert Henderson, who had worked at Montech Financial Systems — owners of the armored van service. Henderson and Michael Todd Collins eventually confessed to the crime. Collins led authorities to more than $200,000 buried in a green army ammunition box on his land. A third accomplice was later charged, too, Ronald David Cherney.

- More economic struggles: American LaFrance takes 200 jobs with it to Charleston, S.C. Corning puts its almost-new fiber optic plant in mothballs and laid off 500 people in Cabarrus. Unemployment starts at 9.6 percent in January; by November, it's 4.4 percent.


- The closing of textile giant Pillowtex results in the biggest loss of jobs ever for the Carolinas, with, Unemployment reaches 12.4 percent in Rowan

- The country goes to war with Iraq and local Army Reserve units mobilize. By year's end, three soldiers with Rowan connections have died: Wilfredo Rivera, of Charlotte, on April 30, 2003; Sgt. David Parson of Kannapolis, on July 9, 2003; Sgt. Brian Richard Hellerman, on August 6, 2003; Sgt. Gregory L. Wahl, of Long Island, N.Y., formerly of Rowan.

- Woodleaf Elementary student Ana Sola dies after she and a cousins are hit while boarding their school bus. West Rowan High School student Brandon Potts, 17, is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

- Rowan County celebrates being 250 years old with a yearlong celebration, highlighted by the Cheerwine Parade of the Century in April.

- After four years of drought, Mother Nature turns on the faucets. Rainfall across the county breaks records from Piedmont Research Station west of Salisbury to the southern end of the county at Enochville. The flow at the Yadkin College Station reaches 10 billion gallons per day, 60 times the historic low flow of 153 million gallons a day recorded only months earlier.

- An American Lung Association report says Rowan County has the 16th worst air pollution in the country and the poorest air quality in the state, with 74 days in 1999-2001 of unhealthy air quality.

Health officials said Rowan may have been unfairly singled out because it has two ozone monitors, in Rockwell and Enochville, while other counties have none. But others said bad air is bad air, and Rowan better deal with it.

Rowan County is one of 32 counties that must reduce air pollution or risk losing federal highway funds. Commissioners allocated $10,000 to establish a Clean Air Commission, which will work closely over three years with the Catawba College Center for the Environment. Local financial institutions make pledges toward a $300,000 Clean Air Initiative that organizers hope will serve as a model for the region.

- Elizabeth Dole is sworn in as a U.S. senator.

- Write-in candidates unseat incumbents in Landis and China Grove. Cleveland municipal elections lead to a tie for mayor and one town commission seat.

- Construction around Interstate 85's East Innes Street interchange makes the area look like a war zone. Rain and contractor problems put the project months behind schedule. Work on a culvert narrows East Innes Street traffic to one lane in each direction. Work halts briefly after contractor Rea Construction's parent company files for bankruptcy and Rea can't pay subcontractors or buy materials.

- The flu season arrives early and hits hard, depleting local clinics' supply of flu vaccine. Confirmed cases take several lives in North Carolina, including one in Rowan, a 3-year-old girl.


- The economy rebounds slightly. Freightliner adds about 1,200 employees. National Starch announces an expansion, MI Home Products builds a plant in Summit Corporate Center, several restaurants and retailers open and Starbucks is on the way.

- California billionaire David Murdock wins the bidding for the dormant Pillowtex Plant 1 complex in Kannapolis with his $6.4 million bid and talks about fashioning a master plan for the area. Among the possibilities are a $50 million sports and entertainment arena and a film-and-publishing business.

- Downtown traffic is detoured as workers dismantle and replace the Innes Street bridge over Norfolk Southern's rail lines. Meanwhile, businesses claim ongoing construction at the I-85 interchange is ruining their business. Bulldozers and surveyors begin preparing to widen U.S. 70,.

- Jim Sides and Arnold Chamberlain win seats on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, making the entire board Republican. Republican Fred Steen wins appointment, then the primary and general election to the Rowan County N.C. House seat held by Eugene McCombs, who died in January.

- A dispute between car dealers leads to the shooting of a competitor's blimp. Team Chevrolet owner Thom Dillard apologizes to the company that owns the blimp and receives a prayer for judgment continued for a misdemeanor charge. In another case, Gerald Bradley Wood, son of Gerry Wood, is cited for damage to property when he admits cutting down a Cloninger Ford sale sign.

- Bids for new schools come in well over budget, forcing Rowan-Salisbury school officials to delay some projects and get the county's help to build Jessie Carson High School, which breaks ground in 2005. Problems followed.

- The war in Iraq continues and Lance Cpl. David Houck, 25, is killed in Fallujah. His parents, who live in Mount Ulla, see him buried in Arlington National Cemetery, joining thousands of other American heroes. Sgt. Gregory L. Wahl, a graduate of West Rowan High School who had moved back to Long Island, N.Y., is killed while on patrol.

- A city matriarch, 102-year-old Mary Hanford, dies. She was mother of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.

- Twenty-six-year-old Kristina Mack is found stabbed to death in her Thomas Street apartment, and her 2-year-old daughter has been raped. Police charge Shawn Louis Goodman, who had moved in with Mack after they met on the Internet.


- County Manager Tim Russell resigns after admitting he used $23,000 in county funds — with the knowledge and support of three commissioners, he says — to track down the author of "The Department of Common Sense" letters, which were highly critical of county government. The search included private investigators who conducted surveillance of some citizens. County Attorney John Holshouser resigns. The identity of Common Sense remains a mystery.

- David Murdock unveils plans for the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis, involving three University of North Carolina institutions in a biotechnology project that when fully realized could represent a $600 million to $700 million investment and create thousands of jobs.

- Local residents respond after Hurricane Katrina rips through the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana and Mississippi. People responded with cash contributions, supplies, equipment, facilities, their homes and themselves. The city of Salisbury adopted the city of Pascagoula, Miss., setting into action trips of local firefighters and volunteers to the Gulf Coast.

- Salisbury native David Wilhelm, a U.S. Immigration and Customs agent, is shot to death in his home by an intruder — a gunman who was on the run after killing three people in an Atlanta courthouse. An estimated 1,200 to 1,300 people filled Omwake-Dearborn Chapel at Catawba College for his funeral.

- The war in Iraq claims the life of more people with local ties — Lance Cpl. Kenneth James "Cowboy" Butler, 19.

- The tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004, devastated parts of a dozen nations around the Indian Ocean, leaving at least 216,000 people dead or missing and nearly 2 million without homes. A Salisbury family lost a loved one when 38-year-old Carol Shellhorn Massey, daughter of W.B. "Bud" Shellhorn and sister to Dr. Doug Shellhorn, was swept away by a three-story wave striking a beach in Thailand, where she was vacationing.

- Reginald Weeks Jr. — who initially tells police he found the lifeless body of his 18-year-old stepdaughter, Brittany Nicole Loritts, when he returned to their Scales Street home — is charged with her murder.

- The Salisbury Post celebrates its 100th birthday with several activities, including a Pops at the Post concert by the Salisbury Symphony.

- Dr. Judy Grissom is selected as the next Rowan-Salisbury Schools superintendent following the resignation of Dr. Wiley Doby.

- Gas prices soar toward $4 a gallon because supply lines are crippled by Hurricane Katrina. Rowan Countians are waiting in lines for gas, seeing stations run out of fuel and paying more than they ever thought they would. By December, the average price in Rowan County is back down to about $2.15 a gallon.


- The community rallies around Tiffany Woodie, critically injured in a late 2005 accident with a drunken driver. She walks across the stage to receive her high school diploma.

- Jon Barber, Tina Hall and Chad Mitchell win the race for Rowan county commissioner.

- The Rowan Salisbury School System is one of 11 systems in the state ordered to have a state assistance team visit due to test scores.

- First United Methodist Church's plans to demolish buildings on West Fisher Street upset preservationists, who try unsuccessfully to prevent the move.

- Dr. Jimmy Jenkins takes the helm at Livingstone College.

- Rowan Marine Lance Cpl. Nathan Ross Elrod, 20, is killed in Iraq.

- School board struggles with redistricting and adopts board member Jim Shuping's "keeping communities together" proposal, which moves a block of students from North Rowan to Salisbury High.

- Ground is broken for the N.C. Research Campus and work proceeds quickly.

- Food Lion moves ahead with $35 million expansion to create more office and meeting space.

- Fire destroys the petting barn at Dan Nicholas Park, killing all the animals inside. Arson is suspected.

- Salisbury and Rowan agree to build a $6.5 million sewer line along the U.S. 29 corridor.

- Michael Jason Brown, 27, dies after his scooter crashes in eastern Rowan.


- Drought returns to the region. Farmers lose much of their crops, forcing some to sell livestock. A battle ensues over whether Concord and Kannapolis can pipe water from the Catawba River basin. The drought has little impact on the Yadkin River, however, and Salisbury City Manager Dave Treme says he's ready to sell water to other, needier towns.

- Thirteen-year-old Treasure Feamster, a bystander, dies in the crossfire of a fight outside a party at the J.C. Price American Legion Post. Nine youths are charged in connection with the gang-related shooting. Mayor Susan Kluttz organizes gang summits, calling together groups from throughout the community, and joins with other N.C. mayors in calling for legislation allowing authorities to better deal with gangs

- The first gold-domed building of the N.C. Research Campus rises from the ruins of Cannon Mills Plant 1. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and N.C. State University break ground on their own facilities, and the Research Campus moves forward at almost breakneck speed. Murdock purchases the largest MRI in the world. Cabarrus and Kannapolis agree to issue $168.4 million in bonds to pay for roads, sewers and other supporting public facilities.

- Superior Court Judge John L. Holshouser Jr. sentences Rigo Verto Guillen-Martinez to the maximum sentence -- 30 years in prison -- for killing LeeAnna Newman and her unborn child while driving drunk and fleeing from a Kannapolis police officer. U.S. authorities have already deported Martinez once, and he just came back -- illegally.

- The Rev. Coy Privette, a member of the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners and well-known conservative leader, faces six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution. Privette pleads guilty, enters a pretrial program for first offenders, apologizes to his family and the public and refuses to step down from his commission seat.

- With state road projects going wildly over budget, the Department of Transportation suspends indefinitely its plans to replace the obsolete I-85 bridge across the Yadkin River.

- NorthEast Medical Center in Concord and Rowan Regional Medical Center merge with the region's two largest competing hospital systems — Carolinas Health Care System and Novant — and both propose facilities in the Kannapolis area.

- The economic bleeding continues. Freightliner lays off 1,180 workers, eliminating its third shift. Philip Morris USA announces plans to close its Concord plant by 2010, eliminating about 2,500 jobs.

- Captain's Galley, a popular restaurant in China Grove for 20 years, closes after an outbreak of E. coli makes at least nine customers sick and an 86-year-old woman dies of complications. A former employee discloses workers slaughtered a goat in the restaurant kitchen a few days before the outbreak.

- Dave Risdon dreams of bringing a high-class road-racing track to replace the defunct N.C. Finishing/Color-Tex plant. He runs into problems over historic preservation, erosion control and wetlands damage. A judge issues a restraining order against Risdon temporarily. Workers demolish the old N.C. Finishing plant, and Risdon predicts great things, claiming on his Web site to have the backing of the billionaire owner of Virgin Airlines.


- Salisbury firefighters Justin Monroe and Vic Isler die fighting a fire at Salisbury Millwork. Thousands attend the funeral at Omwake-Dearborn Chapel and investigations are launched.

- Residents mobilize against Salisbury's plan to annex hundreds of homes off N.C. 150. They form Good Neighbors of Rowan County and succeed in thwarting the plan by signing up for more city services than Salisbury can afford to deliver.

- Salisbury goes looney for George Clooney as the star films scenes for "Leatherheads" at the Salisbury Station and returns to promote the movie.

- School and county officials debate building a new central office for Rowan-Salisbury Schools, which could cost as much as $16.8 million.

- Judge Kevin Eddinger holds attorney Todd Paris in contempt for reading a Maxim magazine in court.

- The economy slows down. Freightliner lays off 1,500, then calls some back. Performance Fibers (formerly Invista) reduces operations in Salisbury

- Barack Obama makes history, winning election as the first black president. The majority of Rowan voters support his opponent, John McCain, in a busy campaign year that brings both former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton to Salisbury.

- Dr. Carol Spaulding becomes new president of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

- Dr. David Boyd is found dead in his Country Club-area home. Three are charged.

- The district attorney accepts a plea deal for three young people charged in the 2006 death of Michael Brown, at whom they threw eggs as he rode his mo-ped. They get suspended sentences.