Category Archives: Local News

Local News

Social Service Worker Arrested During Drug Bust

An employee at the Johnston County Department of Social Services was among three people arrested Saturday during a drug raid at a home outside of Smithfield. The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division had conducted a six-month undercover operation involving the illegal sale of marijuana, according to Captain A.C. Fish.

During a search warrant at 120 Thain Place, Tracey Seeley Wright, 42, (top right) was arrested. Wright, according to officials, has been an income maintenance caseworker with the Department of Social Services for just under two years. She, along with her son, Brandon Harold Wright, 19, (lower left) and his girlfriend, Tayrn Marie Corbin, 23, (lower right) were arrested at the scene on felony charges, according to Captain Fish.

Agents said they seized two ounces of packaged marijuana from the home, along with a stolen firearm, drug paraphernalia, and undercover drug buy money from the operation.

Captain Fish alleges Mrs. Wright conspired with her son by providing money for him to purchase marijuana. After Brandon Wright sold marijuana, he and his mother both profited from the sale.

Altogether, the three suspects face a combined total of 23 charges.

Tracey Wright was confined in the Johnston County Jail under an $81,500 bond. Brandon Wright was incarcerated under a $241,000 bond. Corbin was given a $51,500 bond.

Children Accused Of Stealing From Vacationing Parents

While a Johnston County couple was on vacation in July, authorities say their two children stole numerous items from their home. On Thursday, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, which had been investigating the theft for three months, arrested the couple’s son and daughter on charges they took nearly $5,100 in items.

Journey Marie Odom, 21, and Garrett Dean Freeman, 17, both of Tamworth Drive, Willow Springs were arrested. Odom was charged with felony conspiracy. Freeman was charged with felony conspiracy, felony larceny and two counts of larceny of a firearm.

Among the items taken were guns, TV’s, jewelry, and a laptop computer, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

Fire Department Fundraising Scam Reported

Area fire departments are warning residents about a fundraising scam where individuals have been going door-to-door collecting money for the agencies. However, the departments are not currently collecting money and the suspects are pocketing the money.

The scam has been reported within the past three weeks by residents living in the Selma, Thanksgiving, and Wilson’s Mills fire districts.

The people claim they are raising money on behalf of the fire department, and write out a receipt after accepting money. Authorities said the receipt does not include any name at the top, and is identical to receipts given out in 2011 during an identical fundraising scam in the same communities.

Citizens are encouraged to report any suspicious activity to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office or your nearest law enforcement agency. If in doubt, contact the agency involved and ask if they have a fundraiser underway and how the money will be used. Most legitimate groups have solicitors wear identification and have contact numbers readily available should anyone have a question about the legitimacy of the fundraiser. Never donate if you are uncomfortable doing so.

8th Annual Historical Ghost Walk Oct. 25

The Johnston County Heritage Center’s annual “Ghost Walk” through Smithfield’s historic Riverside Cemetery is scheduled for Thursday evening, Oct. 25.

Guided tours with small groups will begin at 7 p.m. at the corner of South Second and Church streets – beside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. No tickets to the event will be sold in advance. Admission fees will be collected at the Ghost Walk’s starting point: $3 for adults and $2 for students in grades K-12 (pre-school children are admitted free of charge). Tours will depart every five minutes or so until everyone has been “served.”

Stationed throughout the cemetery, volunteer re-enactors will portray half a dozen departed Johnstonians who left their mark on local history: Lieutenant Eric Ellington, one of the nation’s pioneering military aviators prior to World War I; Billy Rand, victim of an infamous hazing incident at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1912; Bertha Roe, African-American civic leader who was instrumental in establishing Girl Scout troops for young black girls in the years before racial integration; Dr. Stacy Duncan, beloved family physician who practiced in Benson from the 1930s into the 1960s; Edna Crump, a charitable woman who offered her residence as a foster home for untold numbers of babies and young children in the 1920s and 1930s; and an Unknown Confederate Soldier speaking for himself and several comrades buried in Riverside Cemetery following the Battle of Bentonville.

At the end of the course, refreshments will be offered by the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation inside the historic Hastings House beside the cemetery on Front Street. In case of inclement weather, the event will be postponed till Thursday, Nov. 1. For more information, call the Heritage Center at (919) 934-2836.

Police Charge Man With Choking Girlfriend

A Smithfield man was arrested Friday on charges he choked his girlfriend until she lost consciousness. The alleged incident happened at an apartment on South Front Street.

Guadalupe Roman Garcia-Casttilo, 37, was arrested after the woman regained consciousness and was able to dial 911. Police said Garcia-Casttilo was still on the scene when they arrived. The 38 year-old victim was treated and released at Johnston Medical Center.

Smithfield Police Lt. Keith Powell described the incident as domestic related.

Garcia-Casttilo was charged with felony assault by strangulation and confined in the Johnston County Jail without bond pending his first court appearance on the charges.

Police: Traffic Stop Yields Pain Pills

Smithfield Police said they found approximately 14 prescription pain pills in a car stopped Sunday afternoon on North Brightleaf Boulevard near Hospital Road. Jeremiah Fitzgerald Atkinson, 33, of Ward Street was arrested on opiate trafficking charges. Lt. Keith Powell said the pills were wrapped in cellophane. Atkinson was incarcerated under a $50,000 bond.

Police: WTSB Website Viewers Help Identify B&E Suspect

Selma Police have made an arrest in connection with a break-in reported September 28 at the Short Stop on East Anderson Street. After a surveillance image of the suspect was posted on the website, Detective J.A. Hughes said several people called to identify the suspect.

Donnie Ray Stanley, 57, of Smithfield was arrested on breaking and entering and damage to property charges, Detective Hughes told WTSB on Friday. In the break-in, cigarettes and cigarette lighters were reportedly taken.

Princeton Man Charged In Selma Business Break-In

A Princeton man was arrested Friday in connection with a break-in discovered a day earlier at Atlantic Seafood in Downtown Selma. A police officer spotted a man walking in the downtown area early-Friday with a cut to his arm. After stopping to speak with the suspect, police allege Travis William Hargis, 22, of Old Cornwallis Road, confessed to the break-in.

Hargis was charged with breaking and entering, larceny, and damage to property. He was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $41,000 bond.

Selma Police Detective J.A. Hughes said Hargis has not been ruled out as a possible suspect in several other business break-ins in downtown Selma over the past month. Anyone with information about those break-ins is encouraged to contact officers at 919-965-8189.

Cooper, Selma Elementary Receive Champions of Equity and Opportunity Award

(L to R) Maureen Hanahue, Monica Lopez, Almudena Moyano, Laura Chapa, Judy Ramirez, Karla Gutierrez, Monica Otoya, Mariela Quiros, Claudia Morales, and Denise Byrd.

Cooper Elementary School and Selma Elementary School were honored at Tuesday’s Johnston County Schools’ Board of Education meeting for receiving the 2012 Champions of Equity and Opportunity in Education Award.

The Howard N. Lee Institute recognized 21 schools with 2012 Champions of Equity and Opportunity in Education Award for the Splash Language Immersion Program.

These schools, through their integration of VIF’s Splash language immersion programs, showcase a strong commitment to closing gaps for all students by improving student achievement, literacy, and language acquisition. The 21 Splash language immersion schools in North Carolina receiving this honor are: Selma Elementary and Cooper Elementary in Johnston; Elon, Smith and South Graham in Alamance-Burlington; Glen Arden in Buncombe; E. E. Miller, Owen, Howard Hall and Morganton Road in Cumberland; E. Iredell in Iredell-Statesville; Eastfield in McDowell; Forest Hills in New Hanover; Clyde Erwin; Hunters Creek and Sand Ridge in Onslow; Hopewell in Randolph; Marvin, Shiloh and Sun Valley in Union; and Jeffreys Grove in Wake.

The Splash language immersion program produces bilingual, biliterate, and globally aware students. In language immersion, students learn up to 90 percent of core subject matter in the target language, usually Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. The program has generated remarkable gains in advancing student achievement.

The results from the 2011 end-of-grade examinations found that students in Splash classrooms continue to outpace non-immersion peers in their schools on standardized tests, regardless of their background or socio-economic status. Of the programs with tested students, 85 percent passed the reading exam and 95 percent passed math, 23 and 11 percent higher, respectively, than their peers.

The ceremony to honor the outstanding efforts in education was held at the North Carolina Education Summit on School and Community Engagement Awards Gala and Dinner on Monday, September 24 in Greensboro.

Historic Four Oaks Drug Closes After More Than 100 Years In Operation

Bill Canaday Retires After 68 Years Of Serving Friends

(Right) Bill Canaday is shown inside Four Oaks Drug in recent years.

(Below) In this undated photo, R.C. Canaday Sr. is show standing on the right. Photo courtesy The Johnston County Heritage Center

After a century of selling drugs, and milkshakes too, pharmacist M.S. “Bill” Canaday, owner of Four Oaks Drug Company on Main Street in Downtown Four Oaks has retired. His store officially closed on Wednesday. During the last few weeks of operation Kay Carroll, pharmacist with Carroll Pharmacy, had run the business while Canady was recovering from a recent illness.

Bill Canaday took over the Four Oaks Drug Company from his father in 1944. He had just graduated from the University of Chapel Hill’s Pharmacy School and was looking forward to his new career.

His father had graduated from the same program in Chapel Hill and purchased the business from a local doctor in the early 1900’s. Mr. Canaday said that back then, around 1918, there weren’t very many pharmacists.

“They graduate them in droves now, but during that time, there were doctors and then people with high IQ’s that would give out the pills,” he said with a chuckle.

His drug store stayed in the same location for over 100 years, serving the small town of Four Oaks. It remained as a full functioning time capsule of sorts, next to the big box retail chains that have all but taken over the business of prescription medicine since Mr. Canaday launched his career 68 years ago.

“These places like CVS and Walgreen’s, they’re wholesale houses, they have the business on both ends with the insurance cards and discounts,” he said.

Mr. Canaday said that he thinks his business stood the test of time because it was a fixture in the community and that he has always tried to extend a helping hand.

“You help people out. Back when I started, this town was all farmers, so I would give them credit. You had to want to do it and I’ve always tried to do my best,” he said.

Inside the tiny building in downtown, large wooden display cases adorn the walls; stretching from the pale green tile floor to the ceiling. A small booth sits in a corner, a perch for people to enjoy the many concoctions Mr. Canaday and other employees made at the soda fountain over the years.

The Bastian-Blessing Company soda fountain inside the drug store was installed in 1947 and remained in place for the next 65 years, serving many thirsty patrons and children that make their way through the store every week. Orange-aids, milkshakes, and lemonades were among the popular items patrons ordered.

A few years back, the old fountain brought in a set of visitors, a couple from across the Atlantic.

“This man and his wife from England came in one day and said they stopped by on their way to the beach. So I gave them one of our little papers with the history of the store on it and they said they just had to have a picture with me behind this fountain,” he said with a laugh.

No decision has been made on what might become of the drug store, which holds memories for thousands of people who have patronized the business over the years. (Dunn Daily Record contributed to this story)