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Parker Gas Branch Manager Named NC Dealer Of The Year
Parker Gas Company Branch Manager Alex Jernigan has been named the 2014 Dealer of the Year by the North Carolina Propane Gas Association (NCPGA).

Jernigan accepted the award Tuesday at the NCPGA’s annual convention in Pinehurst. He’s been branch manager at Parker Gas in Smithfield for 10 years and has been in the industry 28 years.

Jernigan told WTSB that it was the pinnacle of his career.

Jernigan said he was surprised when the announcement was made. It was kept secret until that night. At first, he thought the presenter was talking about Parker Gas Company Co-Owner David Parker.

Dealers who receive the award are recognized for promoting the industry, safety and education in their communities, Jernigan said.

He also said dealers which receive the award are those that go above and beyond for their customers.

“As good as our customers have been to us, we try to return that and give back to this community,” Jernigan said.

“To me, this award says I take time to make a difference every day,” Jernigan said. “As long as we have this mindset, we’ll be in business a long time. It means so much to our company to do our best everyday,” Jernigan said.

Jernigan serves as the association’s District 7 Director and has been a member of the for about 18 years.

The North Carolina Propane Gas Association was founded in 1957 to promote, protect and encourage the growth of the LP-Gas industry. There are 519 companies across the state that are members of the association. WTSB Photo

Fire Damages Princeton Home

A Princeton home was damaged by flames Friday morning.

Shortly after 7am, fire crews responded to a house fire at the corner of South James Street and Second Street in Princeton.

Officials have not said how the fire began.

The Princeton, Pine Level, and Brogden Fire Departments responded to put out the blaze. Johnston County EMS also stood by at the scene. Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

Town Of Clayton May Reduce Cremation Burial Fees
The Clayton Town Council is considering reducing its fee for burying cremated remains. 

A letter from Benson Attorney James Levinson prompted the discussion. The Town currently charges $900 for the burial of cremated remains, the same rate it charges for a standard burial.

In his letter, Levinson responded to an invoice his firm received from the Town for burial services rendered at Maplewood Cemetery on US Hwy 70. The Town also provides burial services for the Stallings Street Cemetery and Forest Hills Cemetery on Little Creek Church Road.

“These days, more and more people are involved in cremation and it is unreasonable to charge $1,000 to have someone take a shovel, dig an 18-inch hole to bury a cloth bag, not much larger than a coffee cup and then cover it back up,” Levinson wrote.

At Monday’s Town Council work session, Town Manager Steve Biggs recommended that the cremation fee be cut in half, $450 for cremation burials Monday through Saturday.

Currently, the Town doesn’t provide interments on Sundays, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday. Grave openings are accomodated by the Town on other holidays.

Under the proposed change, burials will be handled by the Town on Sundays at a higher rate…$1,200 for standard burials and $900 for cremated interments.

The Town Council will discuss and vote on the proposed changes at its October 6th meeting.

Traffic Shift Underway This Weekend On US70 In Goldsboro
On Friday, crews with the NC Department of Transportation and S.T. Wooten of Wilson began work on shifting traffic on US 70 West at the location of the tie-in for the US 70 Goldsboro Bypass. This shift marks another step forward in the construction of the western most section of the bypass in Wayne County.

Traffic on U.S. 70 West will be reduced to one lane and shifted to the left lane between N.C. 581 and Community Drive on Friday while crews with S.T. Wooten pave the new westbound lanes of U.S. 70 as part of the tie-in for the Goldsboro Bypass from U.S. 70 West. The single lane of traffic will then be shifted to the outside right lane once this lane is paved.

Upon completion of the paving of the inside lane at both ends of the tie-in with existing U.S. 70, traffic will then go back to two lanes. Once this switch is complete, traffic will be placed in its final pattern onto the new alignment of the U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass at this location. Crews expect the shift to be complete by Sunday, Sept. 21, weather permitting.

A $62.4 million contract was awarded to S.T. Wooten in July 2012 for the construction of this 5.9-mile western section of the US 70 Goldsboro Bypass. The four-lane divided highway will go from US 70 west of Goldsboro to Interstate 795. Interchanges will be constructed at US 70 and NC 581. This section of the project is currently scheduled to be completed by summer 2015.

The US 70 Goldsboro Bypass is a three-part project estimated to cost $246 million. Once complete, the 20-mile bypass will span from US 70 just west of N.C. 581 in Wayne County to US 70 just east of Promise Land Road in Lenoir County.

The first 3.9-mile section of the bypass, signed as NC 44, opened to traffic in December 2011 from I-795 to Wayne Memorial Drive north of Goldsboro. Once the east and west sections are complete, this section will be resigned as the US 70 Bypass.

A $104.4 million design-build contract was awarded to Barnhill Contracting Co. in February 2012 for the 12.5-mile eastern section of the bypass. Interchanges will be constructed at US 13, Parkstown Road and US 70. This project is currently scheduled to be completed by spring 2016.

Selma Police Receive $20,000 Grant From Governor’s Crime Commission

(Left) Selma Police Chief R.A. Cooper discusses how the police department will use a $20,000 grant with the Selma Town Council. WTSB Photo

The Selma Police Department has received a $20,000 Governor’s Crime Commission Grant.

The grant will enable the police department to purchase mobile computers that will have the capability of accessing law enforcement records.

Mobile computers currently being used by police don’t have the capability of interacting with the computer server because of their age.

Officers on the street will now have access to this information in real time as the information changes.

Sales Taxes To Be Reimbursed To School System On Three Projects
The Johnston County Board of Education has approved an agreement with Johnston County to be reimbursed sales and use tax revenues for three construction projects.

The three projects are construction of the new North Johnston Middle School, the classroom addition work at River Dell Elementary, and construction of the Princeton High School gymnasium.

The Board of Education and Johnston County Commissioners are expected to sign an Inter-Government Agreement and a Lease Agreement for the use of the taxes for these projects.

The projects will titled in the name of Johnston County Schools. The County appoints the School Board as its sole agent to carry out all phases of construction. The School Board will still have the authority to negotiate and execute construction contracts.

The agreement will allow the school system to be reimbursed the sales and use taxes on purchases made for the three projects.

Safety Counts: Become A Certified Safe Farm

Extension agents Tim Britton (left) and Dan Wells (right) discuss farm health and safety with Johnston County farmer Ray Boswell.

September 21st through September 27th is officially National Farm Safety & Health Week, but Certified Safe Farm offers North Carolina farmers in 18 counties the opportunity to learn ways to take steps every day toward on-farm safety and health.

“Farming is among the most dangerous occupations there are, with farmers at risk for serious injury, health concerns and even death,” says Julia Storm, Cooperative Extension agromedicine information specialist with N.C. State University’s Department of Applied Ecology. “And it’s not just farmers who are at risk. It’s their families and their farm workers.”

Farmers participating in the Certified Safe Farm program have access to voluntary, non-regulatory on-farm safety reviews conducted by Extension agriculture agents; occupational health and wellness services offered through AgriSafe-North Carolina; a cost-share program for making improvements; and a farm entrance recognition sign for those who successfully complete the program.

A partnership of N.C. State University, N.C. Cooperative Extension, and the N.C. Agromedicine Institute offers the program, with funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. Participating county Cooperative Extension centers are Alexander, Anson, Ashe, Craven, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Hoke, Randolph, Robeson, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly, Union, Vance, Warren, Watauga and Wilson.

Certified Safe Farm lowers farm costs, saves lives and improves health, Storm says, by helping farmers develop practical solutions to safety and health problems on the wide variety of agricultural crops and enterprises in North Carolina. Learn more by contacting your local agricultural Extension

For farmers everywhere, the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety will feature webinar and online resources each day of National Farm Safety & Health Week. Topics include rural roadway safety, sun safety, occupational health services, children’s safety, grain bin safety and confined space entry, and safe tractors. Visit http://www.necasag.org/ for details.

Every day, about 167 agricultural workers suffer a work-related injury that causes them to lose time on the job, and 5 percent of these injuries cause permanent impairments, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tractor overturns were the leading work-related cause of death for farmers and farm workers. Contributed story and photo


Couple Charged With Domestic Assault
A Benson man was arrested Thursday night for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend who is 8-1/2 months pregnant. The woman was also charged with assaulting her boyfriend.

The incident happened around 9:40pm at a home on Holly Grove Road.

Joshua Nathan Raynor, 33, allegedly grabbed his girlfriend by the hair and pulled her down a dirt driveway, according to Johnston County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tammy Amaon. The woman, Latasha Marie Dunn, 26, allegedly punched Raynor in the nose.  Both were checked out at the scene by EMS crews.

Both Raynor and Dunn were charged with domestic assault. Raynor was also charged with battery of an unborn child.

Woman Accused Of Assaulting Deputy

A 57 year-old woman was arrested for assaulting a Johnston County deputy after the officer was called to a disturbance in the 7200 block of Highway 242 South of Benson Thursday night.

Kelly Tutor Parker allegedly hit the deputy in the arm with a closed fist while the officer was attempting to talk with her, according to Johnston County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tammy Amaon.

Amaon said officers were called to the address after Parker reportedly went to her next door neighbors home and began causing a disturbance.  Parker reportedly was yelling and cursing at her neighbor and officers during the incident. She had also been drinking, Amaon said.

Parker was charged with assaulting a government official. Her bond was set at $2,500. 

The officer was not injured.


Elderly Couple Killed In Highway 210 Crash
The Highway Patrol has released the names of an elderly couple killed in a head-on collision Wednesday afternoon on Highway 210 near Lassiter Road outside of Four Oaks.

Troopers identified the victims killed as 80 year-old Robert Sherill McGee and his wife, 79 year-old Melba McLamb McGee, both of McGee Road, Benson.

Around 1:50pm, accident investigators said a 2015 Chevy pickup driven by David Michael Walker Jr., 19, of Evans Road, Princeton was traveling westbound on Highway 210. Walker traveled across the centerline and collided head-on with a 2005 Dodge pickup truck driven by Robert McGee. McGee and his wife died instantly in the crash.

After the impact Walker’s truck spun around facing the opposite direction and was rear ended by a 2013 Kia driven by Liane Patrice Buckmon Hatley, 52, of the 8800 block of Highway 210, Four Oaks.  

Walker and Hatley were taken to Wake Med for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The passenger in Walker’s truck, Hugo Flores Jimenez, 41, of the 6100 block of Swift Creek Road, Smithfield was taken to Johnston Medical Center for minor injuries.

Walker was charged by troopers with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and driving left of center.

Funeral services for the McGee’s will be held at 11am Saturday at Johnson Memorial Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church. Burial will follow in Dunn.  Mr. McGee was a retired farmer, had retired from Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh, and was a licensed taxidermist.  Mrs. McGee was a homemaker and had also retired from Dorothea Dix. WTSB Photo     
460,000 Gallons Of Wastewater Spills Near Clayton
Johnston County officials said about 460,000 gallons of untreated wastewater spilled from a sewage line located along White Oak Creek near Dory Lane outside of Clayton.

The spill was discovered on Wednesday. County officials said it was caused by a pipe failure.

The untreated wastewater flowed into White Oak Creek in the Neuse River basin. The pipeline was immediately repaired to prevent any further discharge.

The spill was reported to the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality. Anyone with questions about the spill can contact the Johnston County Public Utilities Department at 919-989-5075.

Selma Approves 25MPH Speed Limit In Wynbrooke Subdivision
The speed limit for all streets within the Wynbrooke subdivision is now 25 miles per hour.

That action was taken by the Selma Town Council at Tuesday’s meeting. The new speed limit was requested by the Selma Police Department.

The Wynbrooke subdivision is located on River Road. The roads included are North and South Wynbrooke Lanes, Driftwood Court, Shadow Bend Lane, Shady Grove Court and Deebeau Court.

The Town Council also approved a request by the Public Works Department that new stop signs also be placed in the subdivision.


Report: Johnston Schools Hired 273 New Employees This Year
The Johnston County Board of Education received an update this month on their employee situation.

Chief Business Officer Robin Little (pictured) said the county is awaiting data from the state Department of Public Instruction on the percentage of highly qualified teachers in Johnston County classes in 2014. There were 99.25% of classes with highly qualified teachers in 2013.

Little said human resource staffers attended job fairs at 13 in-state colleges and universities and four out-of-state university job fairs. 255 people attended the Johnston County Schools’ job fair in April.

As of August 25th, Little said there are 21 classrooms that have teachers who either aren’t certified or currently seeking certification, the highest number being Exceptional Children’s classrooms.

Among certified employees, there were 273 new hires this year. Of those, 100 were added to the elementary schools. There were 98 new hires in classified employees.

Little said the school system is committed to diversity in its hiring practices. Of the new certified hires, 83.7% were Caucasian, 7.8% were African-American, 7% were Hispanic and 1.5% were other.

There was a 13.4% teacher turnover rate in 2013-2014. Figures for last year aren’t available.

Little said challenges Johnston County Schools face includes: vacancies in Career Technical Education, a shortage of Exceptional Children teachers, the increasing cost of completing certification for lateral/provisionally licensed teachers and other states recruiting in North Carolina.

Johnston County Schools will continue to see increasing retirement numbers. Little said there are 83 certified employees with 30 or more years and 17 certified teachers with 29 years.

She said the shortage of qualified applicants and increasing work force mobility are also factors affecting the future. WTSB Photo


Archer Lodge Considering Rezoning For Storage Facility 
The Archer Lodge Town Council held a public hearing last week about a zoning request for which would permit a storage business on Covered Bridge.

The 5.27-acre tract is located in the 5000 block of Covered Bridge Road, near Helena Lane. The Town Council is considering whether or not to rezone the property from Agricultural-Residential to Community Business.

The applicant, Mobile Fleet Service of Clayton, wants to use the property as a storage facility for mini-storage, vehicle storage, office buildings and warehouse storage to accommodate the growing population in the area.

During last night’s public hearing, residents objected stating that the proposed business would negatively impact them and change the dynamics of the community.

Property Owner Tom White said applying for the rezoning has been a learning process. He told the Town Council he wanted to put in a low-traffic business.

White said he wanted to keep Archer Lodge a small community. The trees will conceal the business, there will only be one entrance and it will generate revenue for the community.

No action was taken by the Town Council. Mayor Mike Gordon directed Town Clerk Jean Overton to place the item on the agenda for the October 13th council meeting.

Poll: McCrory Positive, Leads Cooper
McCrory Approval +3 at 43-40; Governor Leads Cooper by 2 (40-38); Obama 6 Points Under Water

American Insights (AI), a North Carolina-based polling and micro targeting firm, releasing new data Wednesday on Governor McCrory, his 2016 reelection race and President Obama.

Using new polling methodology, the poll shows that Governor McCrory is narrowly in positive approval territory with North Carolina registered voters at 43% approval to 40% disapproval. 16% strongly approve of the job McCrory is doing as Governor, while 27% strongly disapprove.

Looking ahead to his likely 2016 match up with Attorney General Roy Cooper, McCrory currently holds a slim, two-point lead at 40% to 38%. Intensity of support is roughly equivalent as 29% of voters would definitely vote for McCrory while 27% would definitely vote for Cooper.

Among likely 2014 voters, McCrory leads by three, 43% to 40%. President Obama’s approval is six points under water with North Carolina registered voters, 42-48. He also suffers negative intensity in the Tar Heel State with 41% strongly disapproving of his job as president, compared to only 22% who strongly approve.

“North Carolina voters are closely divided on the Governor’s performance in office as well as his likely reelection match up with Attorney General Roy Cooper in 2016. However, in both cases he is on the positive side of the split,” said American Insights Director Pearce Godwin.

The registered voter sample taken during the poll precisely matches the registered voter population at 42% Democrat, 31% Republican, 27% Unaffiliated.

Neuse Charter Tag Teams With Pro Wrestlers For Saturday Fundraiser

Neuse Charter School has “tag teamed” up with professional wrestlers from Omega Lives to present “Loco in Joco 2” on Saturday, September 20 at the Neuse Charter School Gymnasium.  This fundraising event will benefit both the Neuse Charter School wrestling program as well as the Make A Wish foundation.   Doors open at 6:30pm and bell time for the first card starts at 7:30pm.

Omega Lives Wrestling brings the feel of Old School wrestling back the way it used to be and was meant to be.  Smithfield’s very own, Shane “The Hurricane” Helms returns home to face Zane Dawson for the PWI title, the Hardy Boyz square off against the Bravado Brothers.  More than 7 matches are schedule for this action packed event.  Special guest appearances also include reality TV stars, Ron and Amy from Lizard Lick Towing, as well as up and coming Nashville recording artist Amanda Daughtry.

Seating is first come first serve, so get there early for best seats!  As an added bonus, most of the talent will be available for autographs as you enter the building at 6:30pm.  Front row seats are already sold out, however ringside ($20) and general admission ($15) seats are still available.  For more information, wrestling fans can visit www.OmegaLives.com

Neuse Charter School was founded in 2006 and opened its doors to students in August of 2007.   In August 2011, Neuse opened on the 26-acre campus site and gymnasium on Booker Dairy Road in Smithfield.  North Carolina charter schools do not receive state or local funding for land, buildings or other facility needs for their students.  All facility funding comes from the operational budget charter schools receive based on the per pupil enrollment at each school.

Neuse Charter is a public, SACS accredited, free-tuition K-12 school open to any child who is a legal resident of North Carolina. The school’s mission is to provide a challenging learning environment, to keep expectations high and to make sure all students achieve their maximum potential.  The school offers an international studies and foreign language focus, in addition to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.

Further information may be obtained by visiting the school’s website, www.neusecharterschool.org or by calling Neuse Charter at 919-938-1077.

20,000 Expected For Clayton Harvest And Music Festival
The biggest event in the Town of Clayton each year will happen this weekend.

The 2014 Clayton Harvest and Music Festival began Wednesday and will continue through Sunday. The majority of the events will happen Saturday and Sunday.

Nearly 20,000 people are expected to fill downtown for this annual weekend of music, vendors, food, rides and performances.

On Thursday night, the Town Square Concert series wraps up its season with Nantucket, an award-winning band that was inducted in 2012 into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

On Friday, bring the family to the Town Square, located at Fayetteville and Main Streets, for a Free Movie Night. The fun starts at 6:00pm and the movie “Frozen” starts at 7:30pm.

On Saturday, Main Street will be lined with a parade of vendors and displays. This year will feature a Fitness Village in the Clayton Mart parking lot, an Artists Village behind Home Town Realty. Children can do crafts at the Creative Hands Kids Corner at the Wagner House.

There will also be a classic car show, tractor show, community talent showcase, and a food truck rodeo. Then Saturday night, the North Tower Band will be in concert in the Town Square.

On Sunday, a new tradition kicks off with the Harvest and Music Festival Pageant. For more information, about the Clayton Harvest Festival contact the Clayton Chamber of Commerce at 919-553-6352.


September Is Proclaimed Recovery Awareness Month
Smithfield Mayor John Lampe and the Town Council have proclaimed the month of September as Recovery Awareness Month.

In his proclamation, Mayor Lampe said that one in four U.S. adults experience mental illness every year, 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 suffer a mental illness and that drug and alcohol addiction are the number one health problems in America.

The proclamation stated that 20 million Americans age 12 and older used an illegal drug within the past month. Mental illness cost American businesses $193.2 billion in lost wages every year

Mayor Lampe encouraged all Smithfield citizens to support the community’s efforts to provide services and support to people in recovery.

Police: Accident Caused By Driver Who Didn’t Yield
Clayton Police say a Clayton man caused a two-car accident Tuesday night that send both drivers to the hospital.

Around 10:08pm, police said Jason Carroll Watson, 29, of Page Street, Clayton was traveling westbound on US70 and attempted to make a left turn across traffic onto South Fayetteville Street. According to a police report, Watson pulled his 2007 Chevy into the path of a 1998 BMW driven by Martinez Maria Alvarez, 20, of Brockton Drive, Raleigh. 

Both Watson and Alvarez were taken to WakeMed for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Police said Watson failed to yield the right of way for the oncoming vehicle. Damage to both vehicles was estimated at $3,000.

The accident was investigated by Officer T.B. McNeil.  Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

FBI Raids Home During Child Porn Investigation 
A Pikeville man has been arrested on child porn charges following an investigation by local, state, and federal authorities.

Andrew Floyd Fabian, 56, of Duck Ridge Drive, was taken into custody on Tuesday without incident.

In August, the NC Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force said Fabian distributed child pornography on a peer-to-peer network.

After reviewing the contents of various downloads, the task force reached out to the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to adopt the case for federal investigation.

Around 6am Tuesday, a federal search warrant was executed at Fabian’s home.  During the search, an FBI computer forensic analyst reportedly identified child porn on Fabian computer.

He was taken into custody on charges of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Additional state and federal charges may be filed as part of an ongoing investigation.   

Arrest Made In Weekend Shooting
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 35 year-old man in connection with a shooting last Saturday off Big Daddy’s Road in the Pikeville community.

Macarius F. Mandeville, 35, of Lisa Drive, Pikeville was charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Mandeville had reportedly fled from the scene of the weekend shooting before officers arrived.

Authorities have not disclosed any additional details about the incident.  

New Study: Offshore Energy Exploration Would Create 30K Jobs, Generate Billions For NC
Raleigh – A new study released this week shows that North Carolina would create nearly 30,000 jobs and billions in expanded economic output if offshore oil and gas production were to be allowed in the Atlantic Ocean. The Tar Heel State stands the most to gain of the seven Atlantic coast states examined.

According to the study, the economic benefits for North Carolina if Atlantic offshore oil and gas production were allowed would be substantial: North Carolina could realize over $24.5 billion in economic output, $4.3 billion in additional tax revenues and on average employment levels that are nearly 30,000 higher each year over the 2017 to 2035 period.” It’s also worth mentioning that those new jobs are not minimum-wage, low-skill positions.  Jobs in the oil and gas industry pay over $70,000 per year on average.

“The research provided in this study should serve as a wake- up call for legislators. The next potential leasing period begins in 2018, just four short years from now. North Carolina has an opportunity to provide tens of thousands of jobs and more affordable, home-grown energy for its citizens,” said Brian Balfour, Director of Policy for the Civitas Institute.

The study, conducted by Dr. Tim Considine, the School of Energy Resources Distinguished Professor of Energy Economics at the University of Wyoming, evaluated both the economic benefits and the environmental costs of offshore energy exploration in the Atlantic to Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Compared to the costs and benefits of other states studied, North Carolina emerges as the clear winner, having the greatest potential for development and economic growth. Under the brightest scenario evaluated, by 2035 North Carolina would have the potential to produce, on its own, more than the amount of total natural gas it consumes.  Not only would this result in lower fuel prices, it would create a major competitive edge for North Carolina in exporting energy.

This study was funded by the Interstate Policy Alliance, a foundation-supported effort to commission and promote state-based research for free market organizations.

Teen Held In Rash Of Sampson County Car Break-Ins
The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Duplin County teen Tuesday they alleged broke into several cars in the Roseboro community.

The area has seen an increase in car break-ins in recent days. Detectives were in the area Tuesday when a citizen observed someone trying to break into a car outside a daycare, and another vehicle near a beauty shop. 

Based on the suspects description given by the witness, authorities were able to locate 19 year-old Joseph Boney of Warsaw. Boney has been charged with the rash of vehicle break-ins in the Roseboro area.

“I cannot praise the citizens enough for their vigilance and willingness to get involved in helping to solve crime in their community,” said Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton. “They are truly the eyes and ears of the community.  It’s great to see citizens and officers have such a good working relationship.”


Smithfield Welcomes New Police Officer
The Smithfield Police Department has hired a new police officer.

Terry Douglas White was sworn in by Mayor John Lampe during a recent Smithfield Town Council meeting.

White was hired to fill an existing vacancy within the police department.

He is a graduate of NC State University and had previously worked for the Rocky Mount Police Department.


Cooper Elementary Welcomes New Character Education Teacher
Karen Newhart, who has an M.S. in Brain Based Teaching and B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and is licensed to teach K-6 Elementary Education, is Cooper Elementary School’s new character education teacher.

Character education is a national movement that encourages school districts to promote ethical, responsible, and caring young people. Mrs. Newhart will be teaching Cooper students important values such as honesty, fairness, and respect to self and others.  These concepts include ethical and moral reasoning, social and emotional learning, life skills education, and conflict resolution.  

“It is important to recognize that character education also includes a student’s performance values such as effort, perseverance, and diligence,” said Mrs. Newhart. “These are essential principles that will allow our nation’s youth to develop confidence to be able to transition into adulthood where the social world has certain expectations and they will be able to accomplish their individual goals.  Promoting these values is fundamental in developing these youths to become functioning members of society.”

Cooper’s comprehensive character education program will help to develop each student’s emotional and social skills and will consist of units based on specific character traits, personal development, and strong community involvement that will instill a sense of self-worth.  

According to Mrs. Newhart, she is a strong believer in teaching students optimism and helping students understand that they are in control of changing their own brilliant brain.

JCSO: Meth Found During Benson Traffic Stop

A routine traffic stop near Benson on Monday resulted in the arrest of a man on a felony drug charge.

A deputy stopped a vehicle on Beasley Road.

During a search of the car suspected methamphetamine was located in a baggie inside a soda can, according to Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain D. Johnson.

Russell Aaon Partin III, 35, of Rock Crossing Drive, Dudley was charged with felony possession of methamphetamine. He was given a $5,000 bond after being booked into the Johnston County Jail.

5 Johnston County Residents Sentenced To Federal Prison

(Right) Joanne Session Smith of Clayton was the ringleader of a large scale cocaine distribution network from 1990 to 2011 in Johnston County. She was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.

Five people have been sentenced on federal charges related to a cocaine distribution network in the Johnston County area.

Joanne Session Smith, 57, of Clayton, Al Mace, 33, of Smithfield, Dwayne May, 47, Brenda Richardson, 50, and Cherie Snead, 40, all of Selma, were sentenced by US District Judge Malcolm Howard.

All five individuals had previously pled guilty to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. The charges stemmed from a narcotics ring responsible for selling large amounts of cocaine from January 1990 to December 2011.

The ring was broken in 2011 when Smith was identified by law enforcement as a drug trafficker. The other four assisted her by delivering crack cocaine.  May also provided protection.

Smith and May received the longest sentences of 14 years.  Snead received a 5-year prison sentence. Mace and Richardson were both sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Assistant US Attorney Jennifer E. Wells praised the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office for their “diligent and thorough work.” 

Smith is believed to have distributed over 284 kilograms of crack cocaine and 64 grams of cocaine. She took orders from multiple buyers, converted cocaine into crack, packaged the crack for sale, and arranged the delivery of the drugs to buyers.  She also maintained a premise for distributing drugs.  

Selma Police Seize 225 Pounds Of Marijuana
Selma Police seized marijuana with a street value of $600,000 last week, but the seizure didn’t take place anywhere near Selma.

Last Thursday, two Selma police detectives were working a multi-agency campaign on I-85 in Durham.

The officers observed a rental truck fail to move over for an emergency vehicle parked on the shoulder of the interstate. They stopped the truck and after speaking with the driver learned he was traveling from New York to South Carolina.

A K-9 alerted for narcotics in the vehicle. 

Detectives Scott Richardson and Dominic Dias (pictured left to right) searched the cargo area and located 225 pounds of marijuana packaged in cardboard boxes and concealed in black plastic wrap.

Two people in the truck were arrested on marijuana trafficking charges. Their names were not immediately released.

“Many people who start out using marijuana for the first time end up using harder drugs later on,” Detective Richardson said. “If taking this marijuana off the streets saves someone’s life, and keeps them from ever using narcotics, then I know that we have done our job in protecting and serving our Community and fellow Americans.”

Two Charged In Shooting Of 13 Year-Old

Zebulon Police have arrested two people in connection with a shooting that injured a child.

Just before midnight Monday, officers responded to a report of 4 to 5 shots being fired in the 500 block of E. North Street.

When they arrived they found a 13 year-old boy had been grazed in the neck by one of the shots. Luckily, the young boy did not have to go to the hospital and was treated at the scene by paramedics.

Additional shots that were fired struck apartment complex buildings behind the victim.

With the help of a Wake County Sheriff’s Department K-9 team, the suspects were tracked to a nearby home and arrested, according to Zebulon Police Chief Tim Hayworth.

Cedano Lee Moore, 22, and Barry Darnell Sills, 47, both of N. Privette Street, Zebulon were arrested.  They were charged with conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. 

Chief Hayworth said additional charges have not been ruled out.

Puppy Seized During Animal Cruelty Investigation Euthanized
A dog seized from a Smithfield man during an animal cruelty case Monday afternoon was later euthanized because of its extremely poor health.

Smithfield Police receive a tip about a 4 month-old black lab at a home on Blount Street.

Police Captain Bruce Gentry said when officers arrived they located the puppy, which showed signs obvious signs of neglect and malnourishment. 

Johnston County Animal Control responded to the scene and took custody of the animal. However, due to its poor condition, Animal Services Director Ernie Wilkinson said the puppy was euthanized.

The man police said was the owner of the puppy, Dennis Lee Watson, 39, of Smithfield was arrested for animal cruelty. He was given a $2,500 bond pending an October 27 court appearance on the misdemeanor charge. 

Internet Café Public Hearing Scheduled For October 20th

The public hearing for a proposed sweepstakes café in Clayton has been rescheduled for Monday, October 20th.

The public hearing was originally scheduled for the September 2nd council meeting. At that meeting, Mayor Pro-tem Michael Grannis moved that it be rescheduled for Monday, October 20th. No explanation was given for the delay.

The Special Use Permit for RNC Entertainment would allow it to operate a video sweepstakes business in the former Blockbuster building at the Wal-Mart Shopping Center on U.S. Hwy 70.

The proposed business would house 80 video gaming machines.

Unaccompanied children under the age of 18 would be prohibited from entering. The operating hours would be from 9am to 1am Sunday through Thursday and 9am to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

If approved at the next Town Council meeting, this would be Clayton’s fifth video sweepstakes business. 

The public hearing will begin at 6:30pm and be held in the Council Chambers at the Town Hall, located at 111 East Second Street.


Smithfield Proclaims September 17-23 As Constitution Week
Smithfield Mayor John Lampe has proclaimed September 17th-23rd as Constitution Week 2014.

September 17th marks the 227th anniversary of the drafting of the United States Constitution.

The Constitution was signed by delegates at the U.S. Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on that date in 1787

The law establishing the present holiday was created in 2004.

Mayor Lampe presented a copy of the proclamation to members of the Smith-Bryan Daughters of the American Revolution.

Smithfield Police Make 3 Weekend DWI Arrests
Smithfield Police made three weekend drunk driving arrests.

Around 1:41am Saturday, police said they witnessed a car operating recklessly in the parking lot of Twisters, at 1300 South Brightleaf Boulevard. After stopping the vehicle a short distance away, Jose Palomo Gonzalez, 23, of Powhatan Road, Clayton was arrested.  Lt. R.K. Powell said Gonzalez registered 0.17 on the Breathalyzer, above the legal limit of 0.08. Gonzalez was charged with driving while impaired and driving without a license. He was released on a $2,500 bond.

Officers were on patrol around 9:53pm Saturday when they said they stopped a Chevy truck in the 1300 block of South Brightleaf Boulevard.  The driver, Garrett Cody Martin, 21, of Highway 222 West, Middlesex was charged with DWI. Lt. Powell said Martin registered 0.16 on a Breathalyzer. Martin was released on a $1,500 bond pending an October 30 court appearance.
James Richard Soard, 52, of Ricks Road, Selma was arrested fir DWI at 2:07am Sunday. Lt. Powell said officers stopped a Ford truck Soard was operating in the 1300 block of North Brightleaf Boulevard. He later registered 0.09 on the Breathalyzer.  He was given a court date of November 18 after being released from custody on $1,500 bail.


Bus Strikes Car In School Parking Lot
No one was injured Friday afternoon when a school bus collided with a parked car at Smithfield Selma High School.

The accident happened around 2:35pm.

A bus driver had parked a school bus in the parking lot and had walked to the back of the bus when she felt the bus begin to move.  The bus rolled backwards striking an unoccupied Ford SUV owned by William Robert Parker of Smithfield.

Damage to the bus was estimated at $100. Damage to the SUV was placed at $2,500.  No injuries were reported, and no charges were filed by Smithfield Police.

JCSO: Driver Who Sped Past Deputy Arrested
A Maryland man landed in the Johnston County Jail Friday afternoon on speeding and reckless driving charges.

Around 5pm, an unmarked Johnston County Sheriff’s Office patrol car was traveling on I-95 near the Keen Road Exit in Four Oaks, when a driver traveling in excess of 80mph in a 65mph zone reportedly passed the deputy.

Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland said the deputy attempted to stop the suspect’s car, however the driver accelerated to more than 100mph. The vehicle finally stopped on US701 near I-95.

David Rawls Campbell Jr., 37, of Frederick, MD was charged with speeding and reckless driving to endanger.  He was given a $5,000 bond.

Driver Charged With $64 Fuel Theft
Thanks to an alert employee who wrote down the license plate number of a car, Johnston County deputies were able to arrest a driver who allegedly pumped fuel into her car then drove away without paying.

The gas drive off was reported around 4pm Sunday at the Murphy gas station in the 4900 block of Highway 42 West near I-40.

Deputies identified the suspect as Jeana Nunney Muster, 35, of Lee Road, Clayton.

Muster was later located and charged with the larceny of $64 worth of fuel. She was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $1,000 bond.

Teen Arrested For Marijuana Possession

An undercover narcotics agent with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office reportedly found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in a car during a traffic stop near Pine Level Friday night.

Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland told WTSB News the officer witnessed a car fail to stop for a red light on North Brightleaf Boulevard at the entrance to Wal-Mart in Smithfield.  After following and observing the vehicle, the officer conducted the traffic stop.

Samantha Nicole Parker, 18, of Browns Pond Road, Selma was charged with possession of marijuana up to ½ ounce, and possession of drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors. 

Parker was released from the Johnston County Jail after posting $1,500 bail.

Father Of NFL Player Serious Injured In Selma Crash
The father of Denver Bronco’s player Marvin Austin Jr., who was a former standout for three seasons with the UNC Tarheels, was seriously injured in a single car accident Sunday night in Johnston County.

Marvin Austin Sr., 49, of Oxon Hills, MD was behind the wheel of a car that ran off Buffalo Road near Live Oak Church Road, north of Selma, around 6:30pm. Austin was ejected from the car and rushed to WakeMed where he underwent emergency surgery. 

Three other people were in the car. Their injuries were not as serious.

The Highway Patrol told WTSB News on Monday the accident remains under investigation. Speed was a factor but they have not said if alcohol played a role.

His son, Marvin Austin Jr. signed with the Denver Broncos this year. He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft by the New York Giants. He also played with the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

Austin, played three years with UNC before being dismissed by the team.

Austin was among three people to receive a disassociation letter from the University of North Carolina in 2013 for improper benefits taken during their time at the university. Contributed photo  

Driver Ejected When Car Flips On US70 Bypass
A Raleigh woman was badly injured in a single car accident early-Sunday. 

It happened on the US70 Clayton Bypass under the Cornwallis Road Bridge.

The Highway Patrol said Keisha Muriel Leak, 41, was traveling westbound around 4:00am in a Nissan Sentra. Leak, for unknown reasons, ran off the roadway to the right, overcorrected, hit an embankment, then overturned in the eastbound travel lanes.

She was ejected from the vehicle. She was transported to WakeMed with serious injuries.

The NC Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the early morning accident.

Troopers tell WTSB News that alcohol and speed were not factors. Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com


Clayton Man Killed In Tennessee Rafting Accident
A Clayton man died in a weekend rafting accident in Tennessee.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the 50 year-old man was rafting on the Ocoee River with when the raft overturned. The victim was with six other people in the raft when it overturned in a rapid on the river in Polk County on Saturday, according to the newspaper report.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says the man was unresponsive when he was recovered from the water farther down the river. His name was not immediately released. Investigators say the victim was wearing a life jacket.

Officials say the death is the fourth fatal accident on the Ocoee River in the past four years. The accident is under investigation.

Two New Bridges Open To Traffic
Late Friday, the NC Department of Transportation reopened the bridge on Bizzell Grove Church Road between Pine Level and Princeton to traffic.

Work began in May on the replacement of the 56 year-old bridge, which is part of a larger project to replace 12 bridges throughout Johnston County. This is the eighth bridge to be replaced in the project.

In addition to the bridge on Bizzell Grove Church Road, the DOT also reopened the new bridge on Old Fairground Road late-Friday. This completes a larger project to improve the intersection of Old Fairground Road and Massengill Pond Road.

The DOT closed the intersection of Old Fairground Road and Massengill Pond Road southeast of Angier on Monday, August 25, so crews could realign the intersection and reverse the traffic pattern from the previous alignment to improve mobility through the area.

Motorists using Massengill Pond Road previously had to stop at the intersection with Old Fairground Road, while traffic on Old Fairground Road had the right-of-way to go through the intersection without stopping. The change allows drivers on Massengill Pond Road to go through the intersection, while traffic heading south on Old Fairground Road will have to stop.

Selma Accepts $104,000 Assistance To Firefighters Grant

The Selma Town Council has accepted a $104,000 Assistance To Firefighters Grant.

The purpose of the FEMA grant is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations.

Town Manager Jon Barlow (pictured right) said that in 2013 the Selma Fire Department applied for the grant to replace all of its communications equipment.

Barlow said the current radios are 14 years old. In 2016, Johnston County will undergo an upgrade to its entire communications system and render Selma’s current radios useless. WTSB Photo

Smithfield Tables Request For Cost of Service Study
The Smithfield Town Council tabled a request for an Electric Utility Cost of Service Study and Rate Design.

Public Utilities Director Ken Griffin (pictured) asked the council Tuesday to award $30,548 contract to Utility Financial Solutions.

Griffin said the Town last conducted such a study the mid-1990s.

With the new agreement between ElectriCities and Duke Energy Progress, Griffin said the Town is anticipating significantly reduced costs for purchased power which make up 85% of the Town’s cost to provide electric service to its customers.

Griffin said the Public Utilties staff felt it was time for a new study and rate design for all classes of the Town’s electric utility.

Council Member Travis Scott said he didn’t feel like it was a good way to spend $30,000 when the Town could do its own analysis.

Town Manager Paul Sabiston said the Town has several different rates and that what’s required is a complicated, sophisticated analysis.

Council Member Charles A. Williams asked if the Town could wait on implementing the study.

Sabiston said the Town could wait until January or February before making a decision. Scott moved that the matter be tabled until January. WTSB Photo