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Thursday, May 6, 2010 | 50¢ BY THE BOTTLE ‘Odd timing,’ lots of rumors with indictments Arrest of former secretary in Sheriff’s Office expected today; she maintains her innocence BY JESSIE BURCHETTE JON C. LAKEY/SALISBURY POST John Patterson of Spencer looks over his collection of local whiskey bottles. Spencer man tries to find history behind pieces in his collection S PENCER — Maybe the craziest thing about John Patterson’s bottle collection is that he has nine cats. Through the years, Patterson’s cats have never knocked down a bottle — a nonevent that seems impossible when you visit his modest home in Spencer. Fruit jars and milk, soft drink, drugstore and MARK whiskey bottles WINEKA serve as the interior decorating theme at the Patterson household. But it’s the milk bottles that dominate. “I don’t know of anybody who has more,” Patterson says. They fill rows on rows of shelves. They rest on the top of door jambs. They sit on mantels, window sills or inside cabinets. As a concession to his wife, Cindy, Patterson has not allowed his passion for bottles to leak into the kitchen or their bedroom. “I wanted her to have a few spaces bottle-free,” John says. But the living room, dining room, hallway and computer room might as well be museum stops for viewing Patterson’s impressive collection. To a casual observer, the milk bottles look to be filled with just that — milk. Only a close-up inspection reveals the “milk” to be tiny pellets of Styrofoam. In all, Patterson has more than 2,000 different milk bottles from North Carolina, from the days when the state was filled with independent dairies. His bottles represent 23 Rowan County dairies alone. (See the box on 2A for a rundown.) His prize local milk bottle pre-dates 1900 and comes from the Rockwell Park Dairy. “When I found that bottle, that became the best, No. 1 bottle in my collection,” he says. Patterson will be looking to add to his collection Saturday when the Piedmont Bottle & Pottery Club sponsors its Fourth Annual Antique Bottle Show & Sale at the Salisbury Civic Center. “I’ve been trying for years to get one here,” says Patterson, who is serving as the show chairman. “I kept plugging for Salisbury.” Previous shows by the club had Patterson shows his Mountain Queen bourbon bottle. been held in Lincolnton. The Salisbury show will have 48 sales tables and chances at door prizes for those who attend. There is no charge. There will be several Cheerwine-related exhibits, Patterson says. Other cities with bottle shows include Asheville, Raleigh and maybe the region’s best — a twoday affair in Columbia, S.C. Patterson thinks Salisbury is a perfect spot for a bottle collectors’ show because of its location, good accommodations and sense of history. He keeps a carload of bottles at the ready for all the shows he attends, “and I always go with the intention of adding to my collection,” See BOTTLE, 2A Top county officials are expressing relief that a two-year investigation of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office finances has resulted in criminal charges. The same officials say changes have been made in the Sheriff’s Office and other county departments that will make future embezzlement difficult and unlikely. On Monday, a Rowan County grand jury indicted a for- HUDGINS mer secretary in the Sheriff’s Office for allegedly taking more than $50,000 over several years. Kathy Hudgins, the personal secretary to former Sheriff George Wilhelm, resigned in June 2008. Hudgins’ duties included making the deposits for the Sheriff’s Office. Hudgins, who is scheduled to be arrested today, has maintained her innocence. The SBI launched an investigation in April 2008, resulting in the indictment. During the intervening two years, top county officials were kept out of the loop, told very little about how much money was taken. Carl Ford, chairman of the BY KARISSA MINN After coming in fourth in the Republican primary, Rowan County Commissioner Tina Hall has not decided whether she will call for a runoff against third-place candidate Commissioner Chad Mitchell. Hall said she has talked with County Elections Director Nancy Evans to learn more about procedures. “As far as I can understand, there is likely to be a state runoff, so there wouldn’t be any [xbIAHD y0 0 1rzu problem with doing one locally,” Hall said. “I’ve got a little bit of time to make a final decision.” An official canvass of the vote will be performed on Tuesday, May 11. Hall has until May 13 to call for a runoff — if it is confirmed that she can. In an election with three seats open, the top three votegetters must each receive 40 percent of one-third of the total vote — plus one — in order to avoid the possibility of a runoff. Mitchell missed the mark by about 30 votes. Deaths Please recycle this newspaper Though they aren’t likely to sway the vote, there are more ballots still to be counted. Evans said the county has received about 50 provisional ballots, but typically only half of them are valid. “I have to take them one by one and just research every one of them to see if they are OK,” Evans said. She said some people who weren’t registered may have attempted to vote, and others who belonged to one party may have tried to vote in another party’s primary. LV Neomi B. Hilliard Benjamin McCubbins III Betty F. Basinger See INDICTMENTS, 2A West Middle basketball coach, another man charged in cocaine sting Two men have been arrested and charged with trafficking cocaine after a joint investigation by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Unit and Davie County Sheriff's Office Vice Unit One of those charged, Alphonso Lee Keaton, 37, of 4640 Needmore Road, Cleveland, had been a basketball coach at West Rowan Middle School this past season. His employment ended with the end of the season. Rita Foil, public information officer for the Rowan-Salisbury Schools, said all background checks were made before he was hired. Kevin Rankin, 37, of 6370 Old U.S. 70 Cleveland, and Keaton were arrested in the parking lot of Advance Auto in Mocksville. Detectives said they discovered through the investigation that Keaton wanted to buy a quantity of cocaine. Investigators from Rowan and Davie County Sheriff’s offices observed Keaton and Rankin buy 96 grams of cocaine for $2,400 Wednesday. After the drug transaction, detectives from these agencies arrested both Keaton and Rankin in a vehicle stop. Both subjects were charged with trafficking in cocaine by purchasing, possession and transportation as well as conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. Keaton and Rankin were placed in the Davie County Jail under $100,000 bond each. Their court date is May 13. Extended campaign may drain Democrats’ funds Hall ponders whether to go for runoff Rowan County Board of Commissioners, said the rumor mill has gone non-stop for a year or more. He said the eight indictments will go a long way toward clearing the air. But Ford also questioned the timing of the indictments, wondering why they were released on Tuesday — Election Day with 11 candidates running in the primary for sheriff. “They talked about it for a year and a half, kept hearing it (the grand jury indictments) areC going to be this Monday, then it was next Monday, and so on. It’s odd timing.” Arnold Chamberlain, who was chairman of the Board of Commissioners when the county discovered the shortfall, said commissioners were kept in the dark. “We knew money was missing, we didn’t know to what extent. We heard a lot of gossip, a lot of rumors.” Chamberlain said he had total confidence in District Attorney Bill Kenerly’s handling of the investigation. He also praised the county finance department for taking steps to fix the problems and flaws in the system. Until the discovery of the missing funds, Sheriff’s Office financial operations were separate from the county operation. Auditors cited the use of receipts that weren’t sequentially In addition, a small number of absentee ballots will be arriving late by mail. They had to be postmarked and mailed RALEIGH (AP) — A day after a primary election failed to produce a winner, two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate looked ahead Wednesday to a protracted runoff campaign that will drag into the summer — a grueling schedule that threatens to leave the eventual winner starved for cash. North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who led Tuesday’s vote with 36 percent but failed to win enough support to win the nomination outright, said it would not be good use of resources for rival Cal Cunningham to continue the campaign. He finished second in the six-member field, with 27 percent. The two began a second See RUNOFF, 2A See FUNDS, 2A Evella Marie Jones Sarah M. Medlin Delphina Donaldson Gary Kepley Ray Franklin File Catherine Stallings Contents Classifieds Deaths Education Horoscope 4C 6A 1B 11B Opinion Sports Time Out Weather 8A 1C 1D 12B

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