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Ask Matt ... about $19M armored truck haul stashed in Mountain Home in the '90s

Q. What is being built on that grassy lot on US 64 West in Etowah near the intersection of McKinney Road?

A self-storage facility. It will be part of the AAA Storage World family business owned by Dennis Dorn. It will be identical to the building on Sardis Road in Asheville. He has two other self-storage businesses, one in Spartanburg and one on Sugarloaf Road that boasts 450 units. Dorn acquired the five-acre Etowah site late last year. “This will be an 80,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility,” said Dorn. “It will be fenced, gated, lighted, one level, with a high tech security system plus it will have an outdoor storage area for RVs and boats.” AskMatt storageThe Etowah location will be built in two phases with the first scheduled for completion in September.
Dorn has over 26 years in the storage business so during my interview I asked him if he remembered the story about the storage facility in Mountain Home that once held $19 million in cash. “Oh yeah, I remember,” he said, “In fact, I gave the FBI information that helped them pinpoint the location.” The story begins in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1997. Phillip Noel Johnson, a 33-year old disgruntled armored truck driver, overpowered two co-workers, unloaded $18.8 million into sacks, locked them in a Mountain Home mini-storage facility, and fled to Mexico with only a pocket full of cash. Johnson was eventually arrested by Texas border patrol agents while re-entering the country. Almost all the money locked in storage in Mountain Home was recovered. The heist, the largest in history at the time, put Henderson County in the national news. Johnson was convicted in 1999 and sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. He was released from prison just last year.

Q. There is an enormous amount of work by Duke Energy along Laycock Road and Ridge Road in Edneyville. Lots of new power poles. What’s going on?

It’s all about power and the growing customer base in Edneyville. According to Duke Energy officials there are two things going on. Materials are staged for a new Duke Energy substation in Edneyville.Materials are staged for a new Duke Energy substation in Edneyville.A new substation is being built on Laycock Road near the existing one and the electric utility is rebuilding five miles of transmission line that serves the substation. The new lines will provide more capacity and higher reliability. Existing right-of-way will be used. Much of the pole installation work has been completed. The estimated project completion date is fall 2020.
Some may remember in 2015 Duke’s plan to acquire new right-of-way for high power transmission lines that met with so much public opposition that Duke abandoned the project. The need for more power however never disappeared.