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  • Popular Richlands gardening business damaged in fire

    By WCTI Staff
    Published On: Nov 20 2014 06:24:34 AM CST
    Updated On: Nov 20 2014 05:12:37 PM CST

    A popular gardening business in Onslow County was damaged in a fire Thursday morning.

    The fire started at about 6 a.m. Thursday at Richlands Great Outdoors on East Franck Street in Richlands, said Emergency Services Director Norman Bryson. Waste collectors saw smoke coming from the ceiling and called 911.

    The Bletner family has owned and operated the business for 13 years. Co-owner Rhonda Bletner, says it's painful to see her livelihood on fire.

    "We bought this building back in 2001. We wanted to have our family raised here. It's just a family business. I mean all three of my kids are in it, our employees," said Bletner.

    On Thursday morning, Bletner watched her dream go up in smoke. She got a phone call from a friend around 6am, saying that her business was on fire.

    She says she thought, "That the whole building was engulfed. That's what you think when you hear that your building is on fire."

     Bletner drove to the place where she's put in 13 years of hard work. It was a much different view than she'd ever seen before.

    "It's horrible. We've been here and work hard every day, almost 7 days a week and it's almost like one of your children when you see it going up in smoke. It's very heart wrenching," said Bletner.

     But she was still hard at work Thursday morning. If she couldn't work in her store, she decided to do something for the fire crews who were saving it. She bought everyone breakfast.

     "They are hungry. They need to eat. They've done an awesome job," said Bletner.

    Officials said no one was inside the 40,000-square-foot business when the fire happened. Bryson said the blaze started in the bathroom area of the store's office. But the exact cause is under investigation.

    Richlands Great Outdoors suffered mostly smoke damage, officials said. But the business office was destroyed after the roof over it collapsed.

    No one was hurt in the fire. But some koi fish being kept in the business were killed, the owners said.

    There is no timetable on when the store will reopen. It is a family-operated business.

    Four fire departments responded to the fire. Rhodestown Volunteer Fire Department officials said the building used to be a sewing factory.

    Bletner says she and her family will re-open the business when it's ready.

  • Union County sheriff IDs deputy killed in tractor-trailer wreck

    By WCTI Staff
    Published On: Nov 19 2014 10:18:08 AM CST
    Updated On: Nov 19 2014 03:28:56 PM CST

    Credit: WSOC Channel 9


    Authorities have released the name of a North Carolina sheriff's deputy who was killed after a tractor-trailer overturned onto his cruiser.

    The Union County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday afternoon that 54-year-old Sgt. Jeffrey Wayne Greene was killed in the wreck in Monroe Wednesday morning.

    Greene had been working for the Union County Sheriff's Office since December 2004, reports ABC affiliate WSOC. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren. In addition, Greene was a veteran who served in the Air Force and Marine Corps.

    The wreck that killed Sgt. Greene happened at about 7 a.m. Wednesday at the intersection of Highway 74 and South Sutherland Avenue in Monroe, the seat of Union County. The scene is southeast of Charlotte.

    The Highway Patrol told WSOC Sgt. Greene's cruiser was stopped at a westbound traffic light in the left turn lane. A Kia and a tanker truck were also at the intersection.

    When tractor-trailer approached the intersection, it did not stop for some reason, troopers said. The driver of the tractor-trailer tried to avoid slamming into the back of the tanker truck by making an evasive maneuver to the left, which caused the 18-wheeler to overturn. The tractor-trailer landed directly on the deputy's car and also partially on the nearby Kia, said investigators.

    Troopers told WSOC Sgt. Greene died at the scene.

    PHOTOS: Scene of the wreck (Click Here).

    Investigators said Eddie Ray Weeks --of Weeks Trucking in Fayetteville-- was the driver of the tractor-trailer. Both he and the driver of the Kia were taken to hospitals, but their conditions have not been released.

    Weeks will be charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle, investigators told WSOC. Once he is released from the hospital, he will be taken to jail.

    This is the first time the Union County Sheriff's Office lost a deputy in the line of duty, WSOC tweeted.  Flags at the Sheriff's Office are at half-staff.

    All photos courtesy of WSOC-TV.


    For more information, visit WSOC Channel 9.

  • Three crashes reported as man flees from stabbing

    By Anna Bulszewicz
    Published On: Nov 21 2014 07:08:29 AM CST
    Updated On: Nov 21 2014 08:50:03 AM CST

    The Greenville Police Department reported a suspect is in custody after they believe he caused three vehicle crashes during Friday's morning commute, while fleeing the scene of a stabbing.

    Police report the stabbing early Friday at the nearby Whitebridge Apartments located on Whitebridge Road.

    The suspect is accused of stabbing a female victim at that location then fleeing the scene in a white Jeep. Police say an officer witnessed the first of three crashes at the corner of Arlington Boulevard and Firetower Road. The suspect hit a car then shortly after hit another vehicle in the same intersection.

    According to police, the suspect kept driving on Arlington Boulevard where he reportedly drove into the Kangaroo Gas Station parking lot and hit a truck head on.

    The stabbing victim was badly injured, according to police.

    The suspect is in custody. His name has not yet been released. They say he could face charges of assault with a deadly weapon. If the stabbing victim dies he could face murder charges.

    There was no information regarding the conditions of the victims involved in the car crashes.

  • Graco recalls nearly 5 million strollers due to amputation hazard

    By WCTI Staff
    Published On: Nov 20 2014 01:00:08 PM CST
    Updated On: Nov 20 2014 03:01:40 PM CST

    Graco announced Thursday it's recalling almost 5 million strollers because of the risk of fingertip amputations.

    According to Graco's website, the company has received 11 reports of finger injuries --including six reports of fingertip amputations, four reports of partial-fingertip lacerations, and one report of a finger laceration-- involving select stroller models.

    Graco says the strollers "have folding hinges that could in rare circumstances have the potential to pinch a child’s finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard."

    As a result, Graco says it is conducting a voluntary recall on select stroller models manufactured over the past 14 years. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the affected units include 4.7 million in the U.S, 202,000 in Canada, and about 10,300 in Mexico.

    The recall includes eleven Graco and Century-branded strollers with model names: Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate, says Graco. They were sold between Aug. 1, 2000 and Nov. 19, 2014.

    To see if your stroller is included in the recall, visit by CLICKING HERE or visit the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can also call 800-345-4109 (Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST).

    The stroller's model number can be found on the white label at the bottom of the stroller leg, just above the rear wheel.

    Graco says it will offer free hinge covers to those who have purchased any of the affected strollers. The company advises that while customers are waiting for their repair kits, they should be very careful when unfolding their strollers and make sure the hinges are firmly locked before placing their children inside. Customers should immediately remove their children from the strollers that begin to fold.

    For additional questions, contact  Graco's customer service team by CLICKING HERE or visit Graco's FAQ page.

  • Greenville Police identify man shot at apartment complex near ECU

    By WCTI Staff
    Published On: Nov 20 2014 05:21:08 PM CST
    Updated On: Nov 20 2014 11:52:46 PM CST

    Greenville Police have released the name of a man who was shot Thursday evening at an apartment complex where ECU students live.

    Devante Kittles, 20, was shot at 33 East, an apartment community on 10th Street, said the Greenville Police Department. Officers responded at about 5:15 p.m. Thursday.

    Kittles' injuries were not life-threatening and he was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said. Kittles is not an ECU student but is a convicted felon, investigators added.

    Police said they believe the shooting was likely caused by an earlier altercation. However, Kittles is being uncooperative and is refusing to provide information, police explained.

    Officers found the gun at the scene, said investigators.

    According to an ECU Alert, the shooter reportedly fled in a small dark-colored car of an unknown model. There is no presumed threat to campus.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Greenville Police at 252-329-4315. Information can also be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 252-758-7777.

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