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1090 AM ~ Smithfield, NC

Teen Accused Of Kidnapping Animal Control Officer
An 18-year-old Clayton man is behind bars after he and his mother allegedly threatened the Town of Clayton’s Animal Control officer
 
Around 3pm Thursday, Animal Control Officer Angela Lee responded to the Brittany Woods neighborhood for report of a dog running loose near the intersection of Dairy Road and Brigadoon Drive.  Officer Lee located the mixed breed dog and was leaving the area with the animal in her truck, when she was flagged down by a man who said the dog belonged to his friend, Teddy Diaz.  Office Lee told the man that Diaz would need to provide proper paperwork for his dog and then she would be able to release it.   

As Officer Lee continued again to leave, 18-year-old Teddy Diaz of Darfield Court and his mother, 37-year-old Evelyn Hunt, reportedly pulled up in an SUV and approached Officer Lee’s truck, asking if they could retrieve the dog. 

Officer Lee said she would need to see the vaccination record for the dog before it could be released. Both Diaz and Hunt became irate, according to Town of Clayton spokesperson Stacy Beard. 

Officer Lee attempted to drive away when Diaz threw a bottle at her truck, Beard said.  Then Diaz and Hunt got into their SUV, drove around a median, and pulled their SUV in front of Officer Lee’s truck, preventing her from leaving. 

Officer Lee says the mother and her son then exited their SUV yelling expletives at her and Diaz attempted to get inside her Animal Control vehicle.  Officer Lee called for assistance and Clayton police officers arrived on the scene minutes later.  Diaz was arrested and charged with kidnapping, the NC statute that covers terrorizing a person confined in a place or car.

Diaz was placed in the Johnston County Jail under a $50,000 secure bond. 

 

Johnston County Scenes
East Clayton Students Tour Historic Downtown Smithfield


The Johnston County Heritage Center in Downtown Smithfield hosted students from East Clayton Elementary School for an educational walk through Historic Downtown Smithfield Friday morning.

Todd Johnson, the Director of the Johnston County Heritage Center, is standing on the steps of the historic Hastings House and is pointing east along Johnston Street towards the historic McCullers / Bingham House, which was built around 1850.

The area of Smithfield was settled in the early 1700s and Smithfield was chartered on April 23rd, 1777.  Contributed by Carter Rabil

 

DOT Says "No" To Reducing Speed Limit In Selma   
Even though members of the Selma Town Council want it, and residents who live along West Anderson Street want it, the NC Department of Transportation has announced they will not lower the speed limit from 35 to 25mph.

The speed limit for the Town maintained section of West Anderson is 25mph but is 35mph for the state section. 

Selma Town Manager Jon Barlow said at the November town council meeting, the DOT said data did not justify a reduction.

In July, Darryl Washington submitted a petition signed by residents on West Anderson asking for the speed limit to be lowered.

Washington said when he was 14 he was struck by a drunken driver and did not want to see the children and families on his street go through what he and his family experienced.

He said new families with children have moved to West Anderson Street and he would hate for town officials to wait until something happened before dealing with the issue.

The Council responded in July by posting new 25mph speed limit signs on the section of Anderson that they maintain, then asked the DOT to lower the speed limit on their section.

Jennifer Garifo, Communications Director for the NC Department of Transportation, said this week the NC DOT reviewed the state maintained section of West Anderson and found the average daily traffic count was 2,600 vehicles. The road is straight, not hilly, and there are sidewalks along both sides of most of the road, she told WTSB News on Wednesday. She also said the sections maintained by the town and state are quite different. “The stretch of this road that the town has reduced the speed limit on is more residential in nature compared to the section we maintain, which is more like a city street.”

“Due to these factors,” Garifo said, “we determined that reducing the speed limit would not meet the needs of the traffic that go through this area and that 35 mph is a safe and reasonable speed for our stretch of this road.

In an unrelated matter, the DOT also studied and rejected a request by the Town of Selma to install an electronic pedestrian crosswalk due to heavy foot traffic at the intersection of East Anderson and North Raiford Street in the Downtown area.  


Woman Arrested For Stealing Money Belonging To Deceased Man

A Johnston County woman has been arrested for reportedly stealing money from a dead man.

Jeana Nunney Muster, 35, of Lee Road, Clayton was arrested Thursday by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office in connection with the incident.

Authorities said the 57 year-old victim passed away on October 16th in Johnston County. The victim’s family then arranged for his burial in Maryland. While they were out-of-state for the funeral, family members reportedly asked Muster to stay in the home so it would not be vacant.

While in Maryland, relatives allege Muster withdrew $500 from the deceased man’s checking account.

Muster was charged with forgery, uttering a forged document, and obtaining property by false pretenses. She was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $50,000 bond.

Muster was previously arrested on September 14th for allegedly pumping $64 worth of fuel into her car and driving away from the Murphy gas station on Highway 42 West without paying. An alert employee wrote down the license plate number to the car and deputies later charged Muster with larceny.  


Wal-Mart Employee Charged In iPhone Theft

An employee at Wal-Mart was arrested Thursday on theft charges.

Officials at Wal-Mart on Highway 42 West allege Leu Ding, 22, of Raleigh, removed an iPhone, valued at $600, from the store without paying.

The incident was reportedly caught on a store security camera. Ding allegedly placed the iPhone in a bag and then under a counter while he was at work. At the end of his shift, Ding allegedly took the bag and walked out of the store without paying.

Ding was arrested for felony larceny by an employee and obtaining property by false pretenses. Ding was incarcerated in the Johnston County Jail under a $40,000 bond. 
   

Johnston County Farm-City Week Banquet
(Top photo: Left to right) Johnston County Commissioner Cookie Pope presents a Centennial Award to Johnston County Cooperative Extension Director Bryant Spivey.

(Second photo)Macy Jernigan, Ashley Blackmon, and Landon Wood from the
Black Creek 4-H were recognized for collecting 150 pounds of food for the Hungry to Help food drive.

(Third photo) Abbie Lambert, Anna Kate McKenzie, Emily Eldridge, Paul Eldridge from the South Johnston High FFA were recognized for collecting 194.2 pounds of food benefiting Backpack Buddies.

It is tradition for the Johnston County Farm-City Week Committee to host a banquet each year to celebrate agriculture and agribusiness in Johnston County. Agriculture and the greater agribusiness industry are part of a tremendous partnership that accounts for roughly 15% of the Johnston County economy and 16.5% of county employment, said Bryant Spivey, County Extension Director. Agriculture generates over $260 million each year at the farm level.

This year’s banquet was held on November 17th at the Johnston County Agricultural Center Auditorium. Dr. Richard Linton, NC State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean, was the banquet speaker. The 2014 Farm-City Week Banquet also celebrated the 100-year anniversary of North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Cookie Pope and Ted Godwin, Johnston County Commissioners, presented a proclamation to commemorate this milestone for Cooperative Extension in Johnston County.

Sponsors of the event included: AgCarolina Farm Credit, B&S Enterprises, BB&T, Central Marketing, East Coast Equipment, Farm Bureau Insurance – Smithfield Office, First Citizens Bank & Trust, Four Oaks Bank & Trust, Johnston County Farm Bureau Federation, Johnston County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, KS Bank, Smithfield Rotary Club, Southern Bank, Swift Creek Nursery, Tobacco Farm Life Museum, Wells Fargo Bank, and WTSB Radio.

Also included in Farm-City Week celebrations was the Hungry to Help food drive benefiting Backpack Buddies. Sponsored by Johnston County 4-H and Johnston County FFA Chapters, the winning 4-H club and FFA chapter that collected the most food by weight received a $100 prize. The winning groups were the Black Creek 4-H Club with 150 pounds and South Johnston High School FFA with 194.2 pounds. Food was also collected the night of the banquet, with all donated items going to the Backpack Buddies programs at West Smithfield Elementary and Selma Middle School. The total amount of food collected this year for the Hungry to Help food drive was 1,037 pounds.

This year, the Farm-City Week Committee recognized the Andy Penny Family of McGee’s Crossroads and Bruce Woodard of Smithfield. 

Andy Penny Family

(Right) Members of the Andy Penny family (front row) Lawson Penny, Mason Penny, Paisley Penny (second row) Lisa Penny, Jared Penny, Andy Penny, and Denise Penny.

Andy Penny is farming on the same land today that was originally purchased by his great-grandfather following his return from serving in the Confederate State Army in 1864. At the age of 10, Andy learned how to do all the jobs that were involved in farming when his father passed away from a farming accident. Despite all of these responsibilities, Andy attended Sunday school and church each week, did well in school, and also started working with Rudolph Jones. Following his service in the National Guard from 1972-1973, Andy returned home to farm full time. He married Denise Jones in February 1974, and they were blessed with two sons, Jamie and Jared, who quickly grew up to be their father’s shadow. Jamie’s love of farming was so strong he chose to commute to NC State in order to remain at home to help his father. In 1999, Jamie was doing what he loved – working while riding a tractor – when he died in an accident.

Andy and Denise’s younger son Jared also loved working with his father, and began working full time following graduation from South Johnston High School in 2002. Jared and his wife Lisa, who does all of the office work for the farm, have three children, Mason, Paisley, and Lawson. Today, Andy and Jared tend approximately 800 acres, including soybeans, tobacco, and sweet potatoes. In addition to being recognized for growing quality crops, other farmers in the area recognize Andy and his family for community leadership. Andy has held various roles on the 50-210 Volunteer Fire Department for over 35 years, and the Penny’s are longtime members of Benson Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church where Andy is a Deacon, Sunday school teacher, and Denise serves on several committees.

Bruce Woodard

Members of the Bruce Woodard Family: (Front Row) Teresa Carter, Bruce Woodard, Jonathan Woodard, Garrett Woodard, Stuart Woodard (second row) Sandy Woodard, Carl Woodard, Paul Woodard, Don Woodard, Denise Woodard (third row) Matthew Woodard, Wilson Carter, Christopher Carter


Since his arrival to Johnston County in 1976 as Johnston County Cooperative Extension Chairman, Bruce Woodard has made a significant impact on many citizens. Raised on a farm in the Gold Valley community of Nash County, Bruce’s parents, Ollie and Mamie, were strong believers in education and encouraged their children to join 4-H as soon as they were eligible.

Following graduation from NC State University in 1953, Woodard began working with NC Cooperative Extension in Lenoir County, and also served as an agent in Northampton, Wake, and Cumberland Counties before coming to Johnston County. Mr. Woodard’s tenure from 1976-1986 resulted in many innovations that are still evident today, such as guiding the formation of the Planning Department within Johnston County Government, organizing Keep Johnston County Beautiful, Incorporated, and founding the Johnston County Agribusiness Council.

Woodard also oversaw the construction of the Johnston County Livestock Arena. As County Extension Chairman, Bruce looked to create events that would benefit the economy and improve tourism, such as the Central Carolina Farm and Home Trade Show and the Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival.

Even in retirement, Mr. Woodard has remained active. He serves on the Johnston County Livestock Mutual Board, is a charter member of the Johnston County 4-H Alumni Association, and established the Bruce and Annie Woodard 4-H Scholarship Endowment.

Woodard has been inducted in the NC 4-H Hall of Fame, is a Nash County 4-H Honor Club Member, and received the NC 4-H Alumni and Friends Full Circle Award. A longtime member of Centenary United Methodist Church, Mr. Woodard is also involved with the Kiwanis Club of Smithfield, and is on the Board of Directors for the Salvation Army.

Bruce and his wife of over 60 years, Ann, have 3 children and 8 grandchildren. Because of his humble service of over 40 years to the people of Johnston County, Mr. Woodard was also presented with the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Wake Sheriff Announces Completion Of Two Multi-Agency Projects

Sheriff Donnie Harrison announced Friday the conclusion of a three-day multi-agency law enforcement operation initiated by the Wake County Sheriff’s Office. From Tuesday November 18th through Thursday November 20th, 54 officers representing 11 law enforcement agencies joined with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office in conducting “Operation Capital Cleaning,” a project designed to target drug violations and other serious crimes through lawful vehicle stops.

A total of 322 vehicles were stopped during the course of the operation, which yielded at least twenty drug arrests. Other charges made during the operation included identity theft involving credit cards, illegally concealed weapon, driving while licenses were revoked, and a number of traffic violations. Marijuana, Ecstasy, and currency were also seized.

Sheriff Harrison described the operation as a success and called it a positive proactive project that proved to be quite worthwhile to the citizens Wake County. He expressed appreciation to the other agencies that assisted in the operation and for their service to the community.

Results of another special project were revealed by Sheriff Harrison Friday as well. “Operation Stop Means Stop” was conducted by members of the Wake County Special Operations Unit on Friday morning. Deputies rode on school buses while other deputies shadowed them in marked and unmarked patrol cars. The project was aimed at creating a safer traffic environment in areas frequented by school buses.

The Sheriff stated that one school bus violation was ticketed as well as 54 speeding violations of which three were in school zones. Eighteen other traffic charges were also made. Sheriff Harrison stated, “This was a very worthwhile project. The safety of our children and grandchildren traveling to and from school is of utmost importance.”

 

Smoak Named Clayton Chamber Super Star Teacher  
The Clayton Chamber of Commerce has named Susan Smoak as the November Super Star Teacher of the Month for November.  Super Star teachers demonstrate excellence and leadership in their classroom, creativity and motivation of their students and show a high level of commitment to our community.

Ms Smoak, a long time Riverwood Elementary teacher, serves on the School Improvement Team, as a mentor teacher and as a mClass trainer.  She maximizes her instruction time and always meets the needs of her diverse learners.  Students enjoy her lessons as she consistently tries new teaching strategies to engage all students.
Left to right:  Martha Stovall, Clayton Chamber Ambassador;  Susan Smoak, Super Star Teacher;  Charlenzo Belcher, Dylan’s Unique Gifts;  Donna White, JCS School Board Member;  Erin Belcher, Dylan’s Unique Gifts; Dorlissa Johnson-Cowart, Principal Riverwood Elementary

 

WTSB’s Making Sense Program Discusses Financial Topics

(Left to right) WTSB's Lynda Carroll interviews Jayne McBurney for Thursday's "Making Sense" financial program. WTSB Photo

Jayne McBurney, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences with the NC Cooperative Extension Service was a guest Thursday on AM-1090 WTSB Radio. She and host Lynda Carroll discussed financial questions posed by the listeners.

Jayne fielded questions on the difference between a regular and Roth IRA, reverse mortgage, long term care insurance, credit cards, and whether or not one should borrow from their 401K.

Jayne's monthly financial program, "Making Sense" is heard the third Thursday of each month at 2:15 pm on AM-1090 WTSB.  The goal of the program is to help individuals and families through basic financial education. The sponsors of her show are Aspect Financial of Smithfield and Stormin’ Normans of Kenly.

 

Princeton FCCLA Stands Up To Cancer

From left: Joy Woodard (Advisor), Meilani Ikeda, Kirsten Kimmerly, Jackie Rodriguez, Kyra Stanley, Rocio Reyes, Amber Broughton, Brittany Gonzales, Maryssa Proctor, Britany Hazelwander, Lakyn Whitley, Emily Shallington, Mayra Gonzalez, Corrin Jackson, and Jenny Tart (advisor).

Princeton High School’s FCCLA (Family, Career and Communities of America) recently raised funds to benefit a Princeton Elementary student, who is battling Ewing’s Sarcoma for the second time. 

The mission of FCCLA is to promote personal growth and leadership development.  Princeton High School's FCCLA focuses on helping others within our community. The organization wanted to honor or memorialize all those who have been affected by cancer, so members sold $1 balloons in memory or honor of someone who has had cancer.  

The FCCLA project raised $1,029 for the Princeton Elementary student, and all of the FCCLA members said they are very grateful for the support they received from the school and the community.


Clayton Middle Sends Flags Of Encouragement To Troops

(Right) Soldiers from the 3rd Platoon Bravo Company 1-120th Infantry hold up handmade flags made for the troops by students at Clayton Middle. Contributed photo

Students in Paula Jones’ and Kaity Ricketts’ classrooms at Clayton Middle School recently created flags to send to troops to encourage them as they serve our country in the United States Army.  

Not long after mailing the flags the students received a response from the 3rd Platoon Bravo Company 1-120th Infantry.

The letter read: “We wanted you to know that we received the packages from your classes that you took the time to make. We can't say enough how much it warmed our hearts, especially in this New Jersey cold weather, to get something that so much work and heart was put into. Your students are amazing, and we are really touched.  Please let your class know that we will keep these pictures and crafts with us throughout our deployment. Thank you so much.”

Both Jones and Ricketts said they are extremely grateful that the troops took the time to say thank to their students, and the students were equally encouraged by the troop’s response.

 

Standing Room Only At Benson Elementary Choral Performance
Benson Elementary School third and fourth grade students performed for a standing-room only crowd of parents, teachers, and other various guests on Thursday, November 13th. 

The students performed the Patriotic Musical, "This Is America" during the November PTA meeting. 

Principal Deborah Johnson said she was extremely pleased with the number of parents and guests that showed up for the performance to celebrate Veteran's Day. 

“The students did a fantastic job and made us so proud,” said music teacher and choir director, Lisa Bishop Allen.

Caption: Third and fourth grade students from Benson Elementary perform the Patriotic Musical, “This Is America” before a standing room only crowd.

 

Tax Credits Approved For Any Future Rehab Of Former Town Water Plant
The Town of Smithfield has approved a request from the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation to apply for tax credits for the old water treatment plant.

Currently there are no plans to restore the abandoned facility but the Town had to apply for a 20% state tax credit and a 20% federal tax credit before a December 31, 2014 deadline. Afterwards the grants would not be available.

Although there is no pending project or any interest in development, the Town had to apply for the grant by December 31, 2014 for it to be eligible for anyone in the future. 

The grant would allow for a 20 percent state tax credit for certified rehabilitation of an incoming-producing historic structure, along with a 20 percent federal investment tax credit. 

The grant, called the NC Mill Rehabilitation Tax Credit, was started after the closure of many textile, tobacco, and furniture plants across the state, as a way to enhance the feasibility of reusing former industrial sites.

The water treatment plant at the north end of Front Street was completed in 1913. The three story, three bay brick building features segmental arched openings, a corbelled cornice, and several one- and two-story brick additions.

In 1911, the Town of Smithfield issued a $55,000 bond for the construction of the water plant after it was passed by voters. The 1911 bond also included work for water, sewer, and an “electrical light plant” which were considered to be vital for the towns growth.

According to state archive records from 1913, “E. R. Patterson recalled what a spectacle the strange men and machines made as they brought these new improvements to his sleepy and dark southern town.”

In 2010, an arson fire at the vacant water plant caused minor damage. Smithfield Police said at the time a mattress inside the building was likely set on fire by a homeless person.  No arrests were ever made.  

The grant is being administered by the NC Department of Cultural Resources Division of Historical Resources. WTSB Photo


Stepson Charged In Four Oaks Murder
A Four Oaks man has been charged with murder after the body of his stepfather was found in a wooded area Wednesday afternoon in the Blackman’s Crossroads community.

The body of 62 year-old Gilbert Ray Stanley was found off Thomas Road around 2:15pm by Johnston County deputies.

Stanley was last seen alive at his home in the 8000 block of Strickland’s Crossroads Road on Monday night. 

Stanley’s stepson, Brandon Lee Slade, 37, (pictured right) was initially charged Tuesday with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill prior to the victim’s body being located. Hours after Stanley’s remains were found Wednesday, sheriff’s detectives upgraded the charge to first degree murder.

He is currently in the Johnston County Jail where he is being held without bail. 

Stanley’s body was taken to the NC Medical Examiner’s Office in Raleigh for an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Funeral services for Stanley will be held Saturday at 2pm at the West and Dunn Funeral Home Chapel in Benson.

Sheriff Steve Bizzell publicly expressed his appreciation to the citizens of the Blackmon's Crossroads community for their outpouring of support and information provided during the investigation.

Bizzell said his officers were assisted by District Attorney Susan Doyle and her staff, the NC Highway Patrol Air Support Unit, Wake County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Division, Fayetteville Police K-9 Department, Raleigh Fire Department Urban Search & Rescue, and Johnston County Emergency Services.

   

School Employee Handbook Gets Makeover
Workers at Johnston County Schools will now have online access to review company policies, procedures and benefits. On Nov. 12 the school board approved an electronic format of a revised employee manual.

According to the district’s chief personnel officer Robin Little (pictured right), Johnston County Schools has not had an updated employee handbook for several years. She said the document would be beneficial to all employees and provide answers to question they may have.

The recently developed guidebook contains general information about the school system, important policies and procedures and a summary of employee benefits.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had an employee handbook,” agreed Superintendent Ed Croom. “This is an all-in-one inclusive document.”
Little also noted hard copies of the new employee handbook will also be available for those without internet access.


Ribbon Cutting Held For El Barzon Mexican Restaurant

The Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce sponsored a ribbon cutting on Wednesday for El Barzon Mexican Restaurant and Bar.

The new business is located at 1691 South Bright Leaf Boulevard in Smithfield.

The owner of the newly renovated eatery is Jose Gonzalez. The manager is Beatriz Baldovinos.


Wilson’s Mills Police Release Photo Of Person Of Interest In Rash Of Break-Ins

The Wilson’s Mills Police Department needs the public’s assistance identifying a person of interest in a recent rash of breaking and enterings. 

Police Chief David Hess said Thursday his department is not releasing specifics about the crimes “as they are all active investigations.”  However, Hess believes someone knows who this individual is and possibly other details of the crimes only known by the offender and law enforcement. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Wilson’s Mills Police Department at 919 938 4448, ext. 24. 

A reward is available for information leading to an arrest in this case.

 

Selma Homeowner Assaulted By Burglar 
Following a brief manhunt Wednesday afternoon, one of two burglary suspects caught by a homeowner was arrested.

Around 2pm, a neighbor saw two people inside a home in the 900 block of Thorne Road outside of Selma. The person contacted their neighbor who was at work. They said no one should be at their residence.

The homeowner, Brian Patrick Batten, returned home as the suspects were exiting with a shotgun, flat screen TV, and a video game system.

During a confrontation, the 36 year-old victim was hit in the head by his own gun the suspect was carrying. Batten received minor injuries.

Both suspects then fled on foot.

Johnston County sheriff’s deputies searched the area and brought in a K-9. A short time later, 19 year-old Jonathan Joshua Macias of Godwin Lane, Selma (pictured above)was apprehended. 

Macias is charged with five felony offenses: breaking and entering, larceny, possession of a firearm by a felon, larceny of a firearm, and conspiracy.  He was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $200,000 bond.

Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, say Macias was not the suspect who assaulted the home. That individual is still at large but deputies are actively searching for the second suspect.  


Search To Begin Soon For New Smithfield Police Captain
Following last week’s demotion of Smithfield Police Captain Bruce Gentry the search will soon begin for a replacement for the number two position in the local police force.

Gentry (pictured left) , an employee with the department since 1992, was demoted Nov. 10 from the rank of Captain to lieutenant then reassigned to a school resource officers position. He was also given a 5 percent reduction in pay.

While Smithfield Police Chief Michael Scott could not discuss the reason for Gentry’s sudden demotion, Scott did say the process to fill the vacany will begin in the near future.

“The department currently has five lieutenants that are eligible to test for Captain,” Chief Scott told WTSB News. “All are fine officers and all would do a very good job in this position. I am fortunate to have such a great pool of potential candidates. The department will set up a testing process (written and/or assessment center) in the near future. This will be followed by an oral interview, review of personnel files and work history, and finally I will make an appointment to the position. I do not have a timeline right now as I am reviewing possible testing scenarios with the IACP (International Association of Chief of Police.) I hope to move the process forward as soon as possible.”

Under town ordinances, the promoted Captain will receive a 5 percent pay increase. The promotion must also be approved by the Town Council. 2009 WTSB File Photo


Driver Cited For Wrecking Car After Calling 911 About Flat Tire
Smithfield Police cited a motorist Wednesday for failing to report an accident after calling officers, reportedly not to investigate a crash, but to change a flat tire.

Around 3:30am Wednesday, Smithfield Police said Angela Dawn Bass, 45, of Buffalo Road, Smithfield called 911 asking for assistance changing a tire on her 2006 Jaquar in the parking lot of Wendy’s fast food restaurant at 1131 North Brightleaf Boulevard.  

When officers arrived, they noticed the vehicle had been involved in a crash and had sustained about $5,000 in damage, according to police reports.

Bass reportedly told police she had been sitting in the parking lot for about an hour.

Officers said Bass was traveling northbound, went off the roadway to the left, striking a curb. Her vehicle then traveled an additional 83 feet before striking a large ditch, then an additional 80 foot before hitting a large bush, and then coming to rest in the parking lot. Police said the vehicle traveled 197 feet after the initial impact with the curb.

Johnston County EMS was called to the scene but Bass was not transported.

She was cited for failing to report an accident and reckless driving.

Damage to the landscaping at Wendy’s was estimated at $1,500.



Assistant DA Accused Of Mishandling Rape Case

State Bar Files Complaint Against Prosecutor

Innocent Man Spent Nearly 600 Days In Jail Before Being Cleared
 
The NC State Bar has filed a complaint against Assistant District Attorney Paul Jackson for his alleged mishandling of a 2011 criminal case.

Jackson has been ordered to appear before a three-member panel for a disciplinary hearing on December 5th in Raleigh.

The case involves an innocent man charged with raping a mentally handicapped woman. The man spent nearly 600 days in the Johnston County Jail before his release.

Elio Santos DeLa Cruz, 36, was charged by Selma Police with raping a 27 year-old woman on June 12, 2011. The victim had the mental intellect of a 3 year-old and was not able tell authorities who sexually assaulted her. 

The victim was taken to Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield that day where a rape kit was performed. The results were sent to the SBI Lab where the test was not run until September 12, 2012, 459 days later. 

The SBI sent an electronic report to the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office in September 2012 alerting prosecutors Cruz’s DNA did not match the DNA sperm sample taken from the victim.  However, it took the District Attorney’s Office an additional 4-1/2 months to notify his defense attorney that Cruz was wrongly charged, all the while the innocent victim sat in the Johnston County Jail.  That delay is at the center of the complaint filed against Jackson. 

Assistant District Attorney Paul Jackson admitted a clerical error was to blame for the additional 4-1/2 months the victim spent in jail after the DNA tests results were completed by the SBI.

DeLaCruz defense attorney Steven Walker attempted to have the charge against his client May 2012, October 2012, and December 2012 due to the lack of a speedy trial.  Each time prosecutors sited the SBI Crime Lab’s “unnecessary delay in processing the DNA from the rape kit” as the cause for the delay in the trial, when in fact the results had been electronically sent to the district attorney’s office in September 2012.    

According to court records obtained by WTSB, Jackson said he learned of the results on January 24, 2013 and within minutes notified Walker in person. That same day, Jackson dismissed the second-degree rape and felony restraint charges. Four days later, a cocaine possession charge was dropped since DeLaCruz had spent more time in jail than time he would have served if convicted on the drug charge.

The NC State Bar alleges Jackson falsely informed the courts he had “probably talked to the SBI Crime Lab about the DeLaCruz case” and had stated in court in response to questioning about the delay, “when you talk to the molecular genetics section, they’re saying we’re retooling.”

The State Bar alleges Jackson “made false statements…engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation… and engaged in conduct that was prejudical to the administration of justice…”  according to a complaint filed by Barry McNeill, Deputy Counsel to the NC State Bar.

In a written response, Jackson’s lawyer, James Maxwell of Durham, alleges Jackson mistakenly believe that he, or through an assistant, had probably contacted the SBI Lab within the time frame referenced.

Maxwell alleges the DNA report exonorating DeLaCruz was in fact downloaded but either Jackson or his assistant weren’t notified, or the notification was accidentally misplaced. Jackson claims he never received the DNA report in September 2012 as he should have, and “…that process failed due to human error.”

 

Wilson’s Mills Adopts New Golf Cart Ordinance
The Town of Wilson’s Mills has enacted a golf cart ordinance regulating where and who can operate a golf cart in the Town limits. 

Officials said there was an increased safety concern with golf carts and wanted to take a proactive approach to reduce injuries and address the growing popular mode of transportation.

Police Chief David Hess said the public will have until July 1, 2015 before enforcement of the ordinance will take place. 

Starting then, golf carts in the city limits must be registered with the town.  The police department will conduct a safety inspection to ensure it meets the new regulations.

Under the ordinance, golf carts must not be capable of exceeding 20 mph. The operator must be at least 16 years old and possess a valid driver’s license and they cannot be operated on roadways where the posted speed limit is greater than 35 mph.

Golf carts will not be allowed to tow trailers. They must be operated in the same direction as the flow of traffic and to the far right hand side; must have a reflective orange triangle on the rear; be equipped with a rear view mirror and cannot be operated before 6 AM or after 10 PM.  The ordinance also requires the golf cart to have liability insurance.

The fee to register a golf cart with the Town of Wilson’s Mills is $25 for the first registration and $10 every year after.  The full ordinance can be viewed by visiting the Town’s website www.wilsonsmillsnc.org and clicking the link for Town Ordinances.

 
Elections Officials Considering Splitting Two Voting Precincts

The Johnston County Board of Elections will likely split two current voting precincts next year.

Because of rapid growth in the area, the South Clayton and Flower’s Plantation voting precincts each have more than 6,000 registered voters.  Additional growth will only add to the numbers.

To prevent long lines at polls in the future, Leigh Anne Price, Johnston County Elections Director, said a search is underway for new alternate sites so the two precincts can be split before the next elections.

Price expects a decision to be made and announced early next year.  WTSB File Photo


Council Approves Hiring Part-Time Police Officer
During a work session Tuesday night, the Smithfield Town Council voted to hire a part-time police officer.

The request was first made at the November 5th, meeting but postponed for discussion at the November 18th meeting.

By having a part-time officer, the police department can minimize overtime pay at a high rate to current full-time officers.  The part-time rate would be $16.85 hour. 

The Town Council approved the measure, which will have no adverse impact on the budget.

In other action Tuesday night, the Council approved hiring a Police Officer Trainee. The full time employee will be allowed to complete Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) while employed with the Town.


Water Sampling Costs To Increase Dec. 1st
Effective December 1st, you’ll pay more for a water sample test. This month, Johnston County Commissioners agreed to pass along the increase from the state to the public. The request was made by the Johnston County Health Department, which oversees the sampling and collections.

The costs to consumers will be based upon the type and number of samples received and by whether the county health department collects the sample or if the consumer does the collection.

This year, the North Carolina General Assembly passes legislation allowing the NC State Laboratory of Public Health to increase the costs of water samples and pass them on to the local health departments.

A current bacterial test currently costs $15. The state increased the cost by an additional $19.91. The county will charge $35 effective December 1st. If the health department collects the fee will increase to a total of $50.

Larry Sullivan, Director of Johnston County Environmental Health Department said the County requested that the department round the fees up to the nearest dollar. He said the important thing to remember is that "if you're not a user you won't have to pay."

Sullivan said even with the large number of samples the county provides annually the rates have not gone up in years. "The only reason we're raising them now is to recoup the material cost only," he said. "The county is not making any money on this at all - we're just recovering the money that we have lost."

Commissioner Cookie Pope expressed regret for the change. "When the state passes (and) stops paying for things that have been previously provided to citizens it is a sad state of events," she said. The new fee schedule is available from the Johnston County Department of Public Health.


SSS Student Charged In Selma Break-In
Selma Police have arrested a Smithfield Selma High student on burglary charges.

Seventeen year-old Glorious Prince Unique Bright of Johnson Street, Selma is accused by police of breaking into a home on North Sumner Street on November 3rd. During the break-in, a door was kicked in and a 50 inch flatscreen TV and two laptop computers were stolen.

Witnesses reportedly saw two suspects flee on foot. One was reportedly identified by police as Bright.

Bright was charged with breaking and entering, larceny, and conspiracy.

Police said all the items were recovered, but the TV had been damaged. 


Schmidt Completes Basic Training
Army Pvt. Aaron M. Schmidt has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC.

During the nine weeks of training, Schmidt studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

Schmidt is the son of Jeanne and Michael Schmidt of Clayton. He is a 2013 graduate of Cleveland High School near Clayton.


Selma Town Council Approves New Town Hall Operating Hours
(Left) Selma Town Councilwoman Jacqueline Lacy listens to discuss about adjusting the Town Hall operating hours. Lacy was one of two councilmembers to vote against the time change. The measure passed 3-2, to switch the operating hours from 8am to 5pm effective Jan. 1st. WTSB Photo


In a split vote, the Selma Town Council has approved a change in the hours of operation at the Selma Town Hall.

Effective January 2, 2015, the Town Hall will be open from 8am until 5pm. Currently, the town hall is open from 7:30am until 5:30pm.

Town Manager Jon Barlow requested the Council review the hours of operation, which he said weren’t the typical hours town government offices are open.  Normally, town halls are open from 8am to 5pm, but the earlier opening and later closing time allowed residents the opportunity to drop off utility payments before and after work.

But with online utility payments now an option, along with a drop off box for customers who can’t make it during the day, officials said the change should improve staffing.

Currently, the 5 customer service representatives working 4-1/2 day work weeks – four 9-hour days and one half-day. At times, this leaves the staff stretched thin. Mayor Cheryl Oliver said she was concerned the extended work hours would leave only one person at the customer service counter. 

Councilman William Overby said the Council had been discussing Town Hall hours since January and it was time to make a decision. 

Councilwoman Jacqueline Lacy expressed the desire to keep the hours unchanged.  Barlow said he was concerned an 8 to 5 schedule may reduce customer service, for those who depending on the extended hours. 

In a 3 to 2 vote, with Council members Lacy and Eric Sellers dissenting, the Council voted to switch operating hours from 8am to 5pm in January. Selma residents will be notified in a town newsletter about the change. 


Council Tells Town Manager To Place Computer Purchase Request In 2015 Budget

The Smithfield Town Council nixed a request by Town Manager Paul Sabiston to replace 30 computers this month, telling the manager to put the expenditure in next years budget request.

Sabiston wanted the Town Council to spend over $37,000 on new computers and a secure email system.

Alphanumerics conducted an analysis of the towns information technology system and infrastructure and presented their recommendation to Sabiston.

Sabiston then made the request to the Town Council on November 5th.

He wanted approval to spend $25,200 for 30 new computers and monitors, plus an additional $12,600 for a secure email system and cloud storage for those same computers.

The Town has about $16,000 set aside in the current 2014-15 budget for computer-related expenses, Sabiston told the Council.

After hearing the manager’s proposal, Councilman Perry Harris made a motion, seconded by Charles A. Williams, and approved unanimously to have Sabiston place the spending request in the next fiscal years budget.    

Last year, the Smithfield Fire Department needed to replace some aging computers. Fire Chief Patrick Harris placed the expenditure in his budget, which was approved. The computers were purchased and are now in use. 


JCSO: Burglar Arrested After Posting Stolen TV’s On CraigsList
A Smithfield man was arrested Monday after reportedly being caught trying to sell stolen property on CraigsList.

Keith Devon McMillan, 34, of Braswell Road, was arrested by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office on felony breaking and entering and felony larceny charges.

McMillan is accused of breaking into the home of a 33 year-old woman on Rains Mill Road outside of Princeton on November 12th stealing $4,165 in property, including two flat screen TV’s.

Authorities said when the victim saw her stolen TV’s for sale on CraigsList she contacted deputies.

McMillan was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $40,000 bond. Detectives are still working to recover the items taken in the break-in.


Employee Charged With Theft
An employee at a Smithfield business has been arrested on theft charges.

On Saturday, an official with Barefoot & Associates on Cleveland Road reported an employee had left the business with a 5-gallon container of gasoline and tools.

A deputy was in the area and conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle on Dickinson Road.

David Ross Ammons, 32, was arrested and charged with felony larceny by an employee and misdemeanor larceny.  The fuel worth $15 and the tools, valued at $250, were recovered, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.


Dunn Woman Arrested For Insurance Fraud
Harnett County sheriff’s deputies have arrested Krystle Frederick, 29, of Dunn on felony insurance fraud, burning personal property and conspiracy. 

Frederick filed a police report with Dunn Police in September reporting her car stolen.

She reportedly told police she wasn’t sure if she left the keys in the vehicle and claimed the car was worth $15,000. The vehicle found on fire the next morning just outside the city limits. According to reports, police found cinder blocks and car jacks in the back of the car. Dunn Daily Record story


Johnston Health Earns ‘Top Performer’ Recognition From Joint Commission

Johnston Health has been recognized as a 2013 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures® by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in the United States. Johnston Health was recognized as part of The Joint Commission’s 2014 annual report “America’s Hospitals: Improving Quality and Safety,” for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measure performance for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care. Johnston Health is one of 1,224 hospitals in the United States to achieve the 2013 Top Performer distinction.

The Top Performer program recognizes hospitals for improving performance on evidence-based interventions that increase the chances of healthy outcomes for patients with certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children’s asthma, stroke, venous thromboembolism and perinatal care, as well as for inpatient psychiatric services and immunizations.

To be a 2013 Top Performer, hospitals had to meet three performance criteria based on 2013 accountability measure data, including:

“Delivering the right treatment in the right way at the right time is a cornerstone of high-quality health care. I commend the efforts of Johnston Health for its excellent performance on the use of evidence-based interventions,” said Mark R. Chassin, M.D., FACP, M.P.P., M.P.H., president and CEO, The Joint Commission.

“We understand what matters most to patients at Johnston Health is the quality and safety of the care they receive. That is why we have made it a top priority to improve positive patient outcomes through evidence-based care processes,” said Chuck Elliott, CEO and president of Johnston Health.

“Johnston Health is proud to be named a Top Performer as it recognizes the knowledge, teamwork and dedication of our entire hospital staff,” Elliott said.

November Proclaimed Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Johnston County Register of Deeds Craig Olive and the Johnston County Board of Commissioners have proclaimed November as Alzheimer's Disease Awareness and Caregivers Month.  Olive (left) is pictured with Jeff Carver, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. 

Jeff Carver, Chairman, along with the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, has proclaimed the month of November as Alzheimer's Disease Awareness and Caregivers Month. 

Craig Olive, Johnston County Register of Deeds, requested this proclamation to bring awareness to the disease and those that it affects. 

Currently, 5 million Americans are now living with the disease and over 15 million are serving as their caregivers.  More than half of all Americans know someone who has or had Alzheimer's.  This brain disease causes deterioration in memory and thinking, as well as judgment and reasoning ability. 

Olive's mother, grandmother, and aunt all suffered from this progressive degenerative disease.  He is well aware that the disease affects the entire family and, often times, requires long-term care. Olive also strives to bring awareness of the service that caregivers provide. 

The proclamation is for caregivers that serve in any capacity, whether it is for an Alzheimer's patient or other illnesses.  The role of caregiver often goes unappreciated but the service they provide is immeasurable.  “The road traveled by those who serve as caregivers can be a long and treacherous one.  My goal is to show our support to each of them,” Olive said.

With early detection and diagnosis individuals and families can gain access to treatment medications, enroll in critical research trials and fully participate in planning for the future. To learn more about dealing with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s access the Eastern North Carolina Alzheimer’s website at http://www.alz.org/nc/ or call 1-800-272-3900.


Pierce Completes Military Training
Air Force Airman Trent J. Pierce graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio, Texas.

Pierce completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Pierce is the son of Jonathan and Sheryl Pierce of Selma.

 

Selma Man Charged With Attempted Murder Following Shooting
A Selma man is charged with attempted murder following a domestic related shooting Sunday morning.

Selma Police said the suspect, 35 year-old Jeremy Wayne Hodge was still on the scene and allegedly still holding the 9mm handgun used in the shooting when officers first arrived on the scene.

Detective Jeffrey Bass said officers were called to a residence on Walnut Street around 6:45am. 

That’s where Hodge allegedly went into the home of his 32 year-old ex-girlfriend, found 21 year-old Tyler Jordan Nicholas Anders of Kenly hiding in a closet, and as Anders tried to flee Hodge shot him at close range in the face.

Police said Hodge had moved out of the home on November 9th and had been staying at different friends homes since the break up with his girlfriend.  Detective Bass said Hodge called his ex-girlfriend the night before the shooting saying if he every caught anyone at the home he would kill them.

Police said Hodge also pointed the handgun at the female and threatened to shoot her.

Hodge allegedly claimed the shooting was self-defense but Detective Bass said evidence does not support that claim.

Hodge was charged with attempted murder, assault by pointing a gun, and communicating threats.

He is currently in the Johnston County Jail under a $2 million bond.

Selma Police said Anders remains in the hospital in serious but stable condition.


Jailor Resigns Following DWI Arrest
A jailor at the Johnston County Jail resigned from his position Monday after his weekend arrest for driving while impaired.

William Cody Harrington, 25, of Walking Horse Trail, Garner was arrested by a Wake County state trooper for DWI during a traffic stop Saturday on I-40 near US70 in Garner.

Harrington was off-duty and was driving a personal vehicle at the time of his arrest.

Harrington had been employed since August 1, 2014 as a jailor. 

He submitted his resignation to Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell.


Suspicious Fire Destroys Benson Home
The Johnston County Fire Marshal’s Office and Johnston County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a suspicious fire that completely destroyed at a vacant home.

The home located at 5991 NC 50 North, Benson went up in flames around 4am Sunday. 

Crews from the 50-210, Elevation, and West Johnston Fire Departments brought the blaze under control. 

Authorities said the home was in foreclosure. Assistant Fire Marshal B. Wallace said there was no electricity connected to the home and the blaze was likely intentionally set.   

The fire forced emergency workers to shut down a section of NC50 for nearly five hours. Anyone with information about the fire, or anyone who was suspicious activity near the home is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5000.

Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

 

Council Split On Making Emergency Repairs To Eroding Walking Trail
If you frequent the Buffalo Creek Greenway walking trail you may have noticed a section of the greenway has been washed away.  Nearly 100 feet of the greenway is in danger of collapsing into the Neuse River behind the Boy Scout Hut at Bridge and Front Streets.

Smithfield Planning Director Paul Embler said excessive rainfall this year accelerated erosion on the banks of the Neuse River, eroding the greenway.

Because the walking trail is within 50 feet of the Neuse River a simple fix isn’t possible.  Just to make emergency repairs, the Town must hire an engineering consultant to submit paperwork to the NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources and the Corps of Engineers who have jurisdiction.  

In a 4-to-2 vote, the Town Council authorized Embler to spend up to $5,000 to hire Kimley-Horn of Cary to conduct the engineering work and for emergency repairs once approved by state and federal officials.  Councilmen Perry Harris and Marlon Lee voted against the expenditure.

Embler said a long-term or more permanent repair would be very expensive.  “It’s going to be a cash cow to keep that afloat.”

The erosion occurred less than 5 years after the sidewalk was paved for the new Greenway.     

Complicating the repair work and erosion issue is a 24 inch sewer line which could be impacted if the river bank continues to collapse. 

Councilman Harris suggested Town Manager Paul Sabiston create a fund starting with the 2015-16 budget for ongoing repairs for the Greenway.  

 

Pair Arrested For Severely Beating Homeless Man
Two people have been charged with severely beating a homeless man outside a Smithfield-area convenience store.

On Monday, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests of the two suspects, one who is a student at Smithfield Selma High School. Authorities said the motive remains undetermined.

Around 9:45pm Thursday, the 40 year-old homeless man was in the parking lot at Jimmy Gas on US70 Business West at Swift Creek Road. Authorities said the business had already closed for the night.

The two suspects reportedly came upon the victim and for no apparent reason beat him severely.  The victim was taken to Wake Medical Center then transferred to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill where he is in serious but stable condition, according to Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland.

Strickland said Justin James Shaffery, 17, and Jose Maria Banegas-Ramos, 25, both of Homestead Lane, Smithfield were identified as persons of interest in the case.

After they were brought in for questioning on Friday they were both charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and felony conspiracy. Shaffery, a student at SSS, was jailed under a $200,000 bond. Banegas-Ramos was incarcerated under a $100,000 bond.

115 Grams Of Marijuana Found During Traffic Stop
A SAFE team deputy reportedly found 115 grams of marijuana hidden behind the radio of a car during a traffic stop Friday night on Josephine Road in the Cleveland community.

Austin Chad Pardue, 20, of Crestwood Drive, Garner was arrested by officers following the traffic stop.

Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, said the deputy initially stopped Pardue for speeding.  The officer detected an odor of marijuana, Amaon said, which led to a search of the car and the location of the drugs. 

Pardue was charged with felony possession of marijuana, felony possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.  Bail was set at $11,000.


Smithfield Police Investigate Robbery Report
A Smithfield man said he was robbed by two women. The incident happened Thursday night on Berkshire Road but Smithfield Police said the 46 year-old victim waited until Saturday to report the incident.

According to Smithfield Police the man was riding his bike on Berkshire Road when he was stopped by a woman driving a car. While talking with the woman, police said a second female came up behind the man and struck him in the head.

The victim said the women stole his identification, cell phone, and $250 in cash. 

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident around 9:30pm Thursday is asked to contact the Smithfield Police Tip Line at 919-989-8835.

 

Advisory Council Appointments
The Johnston County School Board recently approved the appointment/reappointment of Advisory council members for several area schools.

Councils serve in an advisory capacity to the principal on issues that might affect the entire school community.  They are made up of groups of parents/guardians, grandparents, or other community members who have a vested interest in public schools with a desire to help make positive changes that promote the community school. 

The appointments include: Douglas Sorrell, Cleveland High School; Devoise Holder and Brenda Harlee, McGee’s Middle; Mary Walker, West View Elementary; Beth Ferrell, Corinth Holders Elementary; Holly Martin, Princeton Elementary; and Shamona Foreman, Stevie Prince, Roseanne Brooks and Anita Godwin, Selma Middle.

 

20 Complete JCC’s First Entrepreneur Academy

Pat Killette, left, teaches students during the first Entrepreneur Academy.

Twenty individuals recently completed Johnston Community College’s first Entrepreneur Academy.

Offered through JCC’s Small Business Center, the academy was held in partnership with The Town of Benson. The program included nine courses on a variety of small business-related topics including labor issues, financing, taxes, business plans, and business counseling from the Small Business Center. The Academy concluded with an investor’s roundtable and business idea presentation by the students.

Classes were held from September through November at the Johnston County Workforce Development Center in Clayton and at the Benson Conference Center in Benson. Participants earned a certificate of participation from the college for completion.

Pat Killette, director of JCC’s Small Business Center, coordinated and gave the business counseling for the academy. She said the program aims to help local entrepreneurs and current small business owners hone their skills on how to start a small business or improve their existing business. She said she was thrilled with the results.

“I was ecstatic with the program,” Killette said. “I had so many positive comments from the participants. Some actually slowed down their plans because they learned proper procedure, cost, and other necessary skills and some said they learned how to grow their existing business.”

“The quality of the participants was awesome,” she added. “These people were very educated and really skilled in what they do whether they already own a business or not.”

Killette plans to offer a second academy beginning in January. For more information, please contact Shelley Gardner at (919) 209-2572.

 

Tanker Truck Fire Shuts Down I-95 Near Benson
Traffic was backed up for several miles Friday morning after the cab of a tractor trailer carrying ethanol burst into flames.

The driver of the truck managed to pull the fuel tanker to the side of Interstate 95 near the I-40 interchange just north of Benson. He escaped without injury.

However, the fire gutted the cab of the truck. Firefighters prevented the blaze from extending to the tanker.

Until the blaze was contained, both north and southbound lanes of the interstate were shut down. Photo courtesy Dunn Daily Record


Smithfield Electric Department Receives Public Power Awards
The Town of Smithfield’s Electric Department has received the 2014 Public Power Awards of Excellence in the areas of service excellence, financial stability, and energy efficiency.

The awards were presented to town officials by ElectriCities Chief Operations Officer Roy Jones.

There are 13 electric department employees: Rodney Johnson, Jay Godwin, Tammy McLamb, Elaine Andrews, Audrey Mitchell, Carl Garner, Luther Peedin, Jeff Stewart, Glenn Sheets, Rob Cruse, James Groves, Ron Dailey, and Public Utilities Director Ken Griffin.


Selma Votes To Keep Downtown Alleyway Open
(Left) Patricia Oliver speaks in opposition to a proposal to close a Downtown Selma alleyway. The Town sided with Oliver, and a recommendation from staff, to keep the alley open. WTSB Photo

An 8 foot wide alley in Downtown Selma was the focus of a public hearing Thursday night by the Selma Town Council.  In September, the Council received a request to close the alley from Pollock Street to Charway Lane. 

But during a public hearing Thursday night the towns planning and economic director and a adjacent business owner recommended it not be closed.

In a 2004 study of Downtown Selma by the NC Downtown Development Association, the report noted a “wonderful artery of alleyways linking parking lots to streets… they alleyways made the uptown very pedestrian friendly.”

Julie Maybee, Planning & Economic Director, recommended the alley remain open to preserve connectivity, building and utility access.

Patricia Oliver, who owns an adjacent building said there would be no rear access except for the alley. “This is a big mess,” she told the Council. “I need to keep it open. Nobody don’t know who owns it.”

Oliver also claimed the alley wasn’t owned by the town and a recent survey was incorrect. 

Councilman Tommy Holmes said, “I really don’t know how we got tied up with this to start with.”

Originally an access for horse and buggies, the town was concerned closing the alley could create problems for utility easements and repairs. 

Holmes made a motion to keep the alley open. It was seconded by Councilwoman Jacqueline Lacy. The board voted unanimously to keep the alley open.  

JCC Nursing Student Receives $2,500 PTK Scholarship
Dawn Simone, a nursing student at Johnston Community College, has been selected as a Phi Theta Kappa 2014 Frank Lanza Scholar. Simone, of Wendell, is one of 20 students to be selected for the national, prestigious honor.

Frank Lanza Scholars are awarded $2,500 scholarships to facilitate completion of associate degrees in nursing, respiratory care, or emergency medical services.

At JCC, Simone is a member of PTK, the Johnston Community Association of Nursing Students, and the Psychology Club. She also enjoys mentoring other nursing students. A first generation college student, Simone said her experience at JCC has made a positive impression on her daughter and two sons. Her 18-year-old daughter is now a JCC student as well.

“This really comes at a fantastic time, and I’m so grateful for this award,” Simone, a second year nursing student said. “My experience at JCC has been great. I’ve always liked school and I’ve had really good instructors here at JCC.”

After she graduates next May with her associate’s degree, Simone hopes to begin working in a local hospital. She is also interested in transferring to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to pursue her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Peggy Woods, a JCC nursing instructor, said Simone is a hardworking student who goes the extra mile to help others.

“Dawn is a phenomenal student in many ways,” Woods said. “She is a class leader, she eagerly mentors the first-level students and she possesses compassionate and competent care at the bedside. She will no doubt be a future leader in nursing.”

                                                            

3 Meth Labs Found In 2 Days
JCSO: Meth Lab Explodes, Severely Burning 'Cook'

(Top Right) One man was seriously burned after a meth lab exploded in a garage at this home on Southfort Drive Thursday morning. (Lower right) Emergency workers stand by at the scene on Southfort Drive Thursday. Photos courtesy JoCoFire.com

Johnston County sheriff’s deputies located three meth labs on Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the total number of meth labs in 2014 to 35, nearly double the number found in 2013.

Meth Lab Explodes
Around 5:40am Thursday, a meth lab exploded in a garage on Southfort Drive off Cleveland Road seriously injuring the alleged meth cook, Carl Hall Jr., 31. Sheriff’s Narcotics Captain A.C. Fish said Hall’s girlfriend, Victoria Rae Harrigan, 30, was driving him to the hospital but had a flat tire on the way. They contacted EMS workers who in turn notified law enforcement.

Hall was rushed to the Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for treatment of serious burns, Captain Fish said.  Harrigan was taken into custody. Authorities said she was a wanted person from out of state. Details on those charges were not immediately available.

3 Arrested In Selma Meth Lab Bust
Wednesday afternoon, three people were arrested after an active meth lab was reportedly found on Thistle Drive outside of Selma. (left to right) Leslie Elwood House Jr., 51, Jennifer Renee Wyand, 34, and Van Buren Killette Jr., 31, were arrested. 

Captain Fish said agents executed a search warrant on Thistle Drive and located multiple locations where meth labs had been used including the bedroom, kitchen, garage, and multiple locations outside the residence. Wyand and Killette’s 8 year-old daughter was at home at the time of the drug raid.  She was decontaminated at the scene before being taken to the hospital for a medical evaluation. She was turned over to the custody of the Department of Social Services. 

Killette was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $500,000 bond, Houser under a $250,000 bond, and Wyand under $251,000 bail

Mobile Meth Lab Found In Truck
Deputies said they located a mobile meth lab in a truck abandoned by a suspected thief early Wednesday morning on Sanders Road off Highway 50 North.

Around 1am, a homeowner was awakened by the sounds of someone trying to steal his ATV.  The resident startled the thief who then fled on foot, abandoning his pickup truck in the back yard of the victim’s home. 

When deputies arrived on the scene they found a meth lab in the truck, Captain Fish said. The suspect was nowhere to be found.  Deputies seized the truck and are working to identify the suspect.

       
Phil Lee Stepping Down As Riverwood Middle Principal
Due to declining health, Riverwood Middle School principal Phil Lee announced Thursday he would be stepping down from his position, effective December 1st.  Lee will transition to the assistant principal’s role at the school for the remainder of the school year.

The current assistant principal at Riverwood Middle, Kerri Evans was named principal effective December 1st. She was given a contract as principal through June 2017. 

In a prepared statement Lee said, “This has been a difficult decision. However, due to my declining health, I believe it is the best decision for our school and my family.   I will however, continue at Riverwood Middle as part of the administrative team and will serve in the capacity of Assistant Principal for the remainder of the year.  It has been my pleasure to be the principal of Riverwood Middle School for the past 10 years. The students, parents, faculty, and patrons have been exceptional to work with during my tenure.”


Proposed Landscape Master Plan Unveiled For US70 West
A 2014 Strategic Economic Development Plan presented to the Town Council on Nov. 5th indicated entryways to the Town of Smithfield needed improving.  The report said appearance along the “gateways” remained negative just like they were in a 2004 report.  

To try and improve the entryway in West Smithfield, Planning Director Paul Embler has unveiled a preliminary master plan for landscape improvements on US70 West (West Market Street) from the Neuse River Bridge to Wilson’s Mills Road.

The proposal includes planting trees and shrubs along both sides of US70 West and reducing the width or eliminating altogether some driveways.  Embler said the NC Department of Transportation will need to sign off on the plan and will likely require a reduction in the number of driveways to improve safety.

The council adopted a resolution approving the preliminary plan, which will now be forwarded to the DOT for their review. Embler said the state would likely make their own changes to Smithfield’s proposal. 

Councilman Perry Harris said all landowners have been contacted, but that didn’t necessarily mean the tenants at some of the properties have been notified. 

Harris said the next step will be to meet with the landowners and show them the plan.

In 2013, the DOT said they had funds to pay for the project, Councilman Harris said, but the Town of Smithfield would be responsible for 100 percent of the maintenance.  Harris said he doesn’t know if the DOT still has funds available but added, “They’re not going to pay for it unless we move forward. It’s a good plan. We need to move forward expeditiously.” 

Link to West Market Street Master Plan

(Yellow highlighted area indicates DOT right of way – Green indicates area for proposed shrubs and trees)

    
Asian Art On Display At JCC

The Frank Creech Art Gallery at Johnston Community College in Smithfield now has a private collection of Asian art on display.

The collection belongs to Stan Allen of New Bern and is the first of its kind to be on display at the college.

The gallery will have an opening reception on Friday, November 21st at 6:00 p.m. The Bringing Asia Home exhibition and the reception are free to the public.