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News
'Horton Hears a Who' leads to 10 arrests, but sheriff says there is work to be done

ASHE COUNTY — Ten people have been arrested and charged in what the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office described as a “complex and far-reaching narcotics trafficking network based in Ashe County,” in a press release Friday, Oct. 11.

Dubbed “Horton Hears a Who,” the joint operation between the ACSO and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation began in December 2018.

Ashe County Sheriff B. Phil Howell said the case is still not complete, with much litigation and further investigation required. He praised the officers who worked on the case, especially with the arrest of Michael G. Mash. Howell said officers staked out Mash’s residence for 24 hours to eventually arrest him.

Howell said the West Jefferson Police Department, Jefferson Police Department, Boone Police Department, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Wilkesboro Police Department, North Wilkesboro Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also played a role in the operation.

Michael A. Horton, 49, of Jefferson, who Howell said was the main focus of the case, was charged with conspiracy to traffic 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine and two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Drew H. Hoffman, 45, of Lansing, was charged with conspiracy to traffic 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, two counts of possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Hoffman’s May 4 arrest for the 1.9 pounds of methamphetamine he was found with is believed to be the largest bust in Ashe County history, according to the ACSO.

Ashely D. Walker, 32, of Lansing, was charged with conspiracy to traffic 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crime.

Kellie E. Wolfe, 23, of Jefferson, was charged with conspiracy to traffic 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Christopher B. Walters, 43, of Jefferson, was charged with conspiracy to traffic 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Michael G. Mash, 48, of Lansing, was charged with conspiracy to traffic 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of methamphetamine

Michelle E. Sole, of Warrensville, was charged with conspiracy to traffic 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute over 500 grams of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Kelvin C. Faw, 43, of Crumpler, was charged with selling methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, delivering methamphetamine and conspiracy to traffic more than 400 grams of methamphetamine.

Sandra D. Roop, 44, of Lansing, was charged with selling methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, delivering methamphetamine and maintaining a dwelling for the sale of drugs.

Ivan H. Moore, 30, of Wilkesboro, was charged with selling methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine and delivering methamphetamine.

Horton, Hoffman, Walker, Wolfe, Walters, Mash and Sole will be facing federal charges, according to Howell, while Faw, Roop and Moore are facing state-level charges.

Ashe Post & Times will provide updates for this story and these cases as they develop.


News
featured
Ashe Memorial Hospital CEO Laura Lambeth to retire at the end of 2019

JEFFERSON — Laura Lambeth announced in a press release Tuesday, Oct. 15, her retirement as CEO of Ashe Memorial Hospital effective Dec. 31, 2019.

Since 2013, Lambeth has helped Ashe Memorial Hospital deliver high quality health care to the Ashe County community. As the chief executive officer, Lambeth was recognized as one of the Top 50 rural hospital CEOs by Becker’s Hospital Review and Ashe Memorial Hospital was named a Top 100 critical access hospital in the nation.

“In the seven years I’ve been CEO, Ashe Memorial has emerged as a top critical access hospital in the country,” Lambeth said. “I’m proud of the investments made over my tenure, including the expansion and introduction of new services, our community partnerships, and the facility improvements we’ve made — including the expansion of the emergency room.”

“For nearly 75 years, the people of Ashe County and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains have relied on Ashe Memorial Hospital to deliver world-class medical care where it is needed most: close to home,” said Donnie Johnson, Ashe Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees Chairman. “We are especially thankful to Laura for her service the last seven years and wish her the best after her retirement.”

During the course of Lambeth’s leadership, services were expanded to include a new chemotherapy unit, as well as outpatient orthopedics. Additionally, new partnerships were formed in the community to ensure Ashe Memorial Hospital cared for the community outside the walls of the hospital. Lambeth successfully partnered with the community to develop new programs such as Heart of the Huskies, Food Pantry and the Community Paramedics Program.

During her course of leadership, she has been able to bring the concept of needing to establish relationships with surrounding universities. This has allowed AMH to become student friendly and to open doors for people in the community to obtain their education close to home.

“The facility improvements, including the new and improved $1.9 million emergency room renovation, allow us to provide better access and care to the community,” said Charles Jones, practicing general surgeon and board member.

During this transition, Ashe Memorial Hospital will continue to deliver top care to the community.

“It has been my highest privilege to serve the Ashe County community,” Lambeth said.


Community
History preserved with burial of time capsule at Ashe County Charters of Freedom

JEFFERSON — Foundation Forward, the nonprofit responsible for the installation of the Charters of Freedom in front of the Ashe County Courthouse, gathered alongside county elected officials for the burial of a time capsule at the setting Monday, Oct. 14.

Within the sealed stainless steel canister, letters from local elected officials were stored to be read upon its opening 68 years from now on the 300th anniversary of Constitution Day, Sept. 17, 2087, as well as the names of everyone who contributed to the Charters of Freedom project and instructions to be resealed for another 100 years. Two other time capsules were also buried to be opened in 2187 and 2287.

“Words cannot express the significance of the freedom that we share because of these Charters of Freedom that we’re going to be representing and honoring today,” Ashe County Commissioner Larry Dix said at the start of the ceremony.

Together with Dix, Board of Commissioners Chairman Todd McNeill, Commissioner Paula Perry and Commissioner William Sands shared remarks before representatives from Foundation Forward placed the time capsules within a lockbox.

“I won’t be around in 2087, but some of my kids might and my grandchildren will, and I hope that they will be here and be a part in honoring the freedom that we have in what we call the United States of America,” Dix said.

David Streater, Director of Education at Foundation Forward, said the tradition started after Vance and Mary Jo Patterson, founders of Foundation Forward, visited the Charters of Freedom and National Archives in Washington, D.C.

“They see this as a way of giving back to the community,” Streater said. “(Vance Patterson) has a vision that in 2087 on Constitution Day, people in their communities that have one of these settings will all open them.”

After placing the time capsules within the lockbox, Streater then handed the combination for the safe to Interim County Manager Adam Stumb for him to pass on in the years to follow.

“We’re very proud to seal this up for Ashe County, and hopefully we are still around for the reopening, but if not, we send our best wishes with it,” said Mike Unruh, Director of Communication and Support at Foundation Forward.


Community
Ashe County crowns Keith queen

At halftime of the Ashe County Huskies’ 44-28 win over North Wilkes Friday, Oct. 11, the school announced named senior Caroline Keith the 2019 Homecoming Queen.

Freshman Kirkland Hudler and Claira Corey, sophomores Katie Woods and Brenna Maloney, juniors Savanna Vannoy and Bella Powers and seniors Julia Bassett and Cierra Burgess filled out the rest of the homecoming court.

The 2018 Homecoming Queen Maggie Knight was on hand to hand Keith her sash, flowers and place the tiara on her head. Ashe County High School JROTC cadets acted as escorts.