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Hugs, Tears And Laughter Served Up On The Coffee Pot's Last Day

(Top left) Carolyn Artis prepares one of the last meals served at The Coffee Pot in Smithfield, which closed Friday after 35 years of business.

(Lower right) A customer thanks Carolyn Artis for her years of service. WTSB Photos


There were hugs, tears, laughter and lots of coffee served up for the Coffee Pot's last day of operation.

The Smithfield landmark closed its doors Friday after over 35 years of serving faithful customers, including politicians and community leaders.

The restaurant was packed with customers Friday morning who came to enjoy one last breakfast, a cup of coffee and to wish owner Carolyn Artis well.

Carolyn, who began as a dishwasher when the restaurant first opened, said it was time for her to go home.

But the 70-year-old is not planning to slow down. Carolyn says she'll get a part-time job and continue to feed the homeless and homebound.

Carolyn says the hardest thing for her will be when the last table is moved out and the restaurant is empty.

Clerk of Court Will Crocker and State Representative Leo Daughtry are among the many Johnston County notables who've eaten regularly at The Coffee Pot.

Throughout the years, Carolyn says the menu hasn't changed much. The most popular items have been hamburger steak, liver and onions and hundreds of cups of coffee every day.

Jim Jenkins told WTSB's Carl Lamm that he'll miss The Coffee Pot's liver and onions.

In the early days, when she was a dishwasher, Carolyn said Hollywood and Smithfield legend Ava Gardner and her brother Jack had eaten at The Coffee Pot. She said Jack's favorite dish was the hamburger steak.

Waitress Patricia Scott has waited on tables at The Coffee Pot for 27 years and waitress April Maupin has worked there 14 years.

Carolyn described her staff as one big happy family. Her 16-year-old granddaughter Tyra Pearce said she's been working with “Mee-Maw” since she was born. Tyra's dad Tyron Pearce worked there for about 15 years.

Carolyn has 12 children, 28 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

She told WTSB she would like to thank all of her customers for “putting up with her through the years.”

“I've been trying at times but it's been out of the goodness of my heart. Thank you for your support.”


Couple Accused Of Scamming Elderly Woman Out Of $522,742 In Cash, Land

A Smithfield couple is accused of befriending, then defrauding, an elderly woman for more than a half million dollars in cash and land.

On August 21st, Smithfield Police arrested Lewis Mark Parrish, 51, and Paige McCormick Parrish, 47, of Whitley Oaks Court, Smithfield on a felony charge of exploitation of an older adult.  Both posted a $24,500 bond and are free from custody awaiting their trials.

Police Detective R.L. Johnson said in December 2013, the Parrish’s got into the “good graces” of the 92 year-old victim and eventually moved into her home on the pretense of caring for her.

However, the couple allegedly withdrew or spent a total of $174,742 from four of the victim’s bank accounts and also transferred two tracts of land, totaling 64 acres on Cole Road near Clayton, out of the elderly woman’s name, Detective Johnson told WTSB News on Friday.

The land was valued at $348,000.

Altogether, the 92 year-old woman lost $522,742 in cash and land to the Parrish’s, police allege.

Police learned about the incident recently when a niece, who lived out-of-state, came to visit and found the Parrish’s, two total strangers to her family, living with her aunt.  Police were contacted and launched an investigation which led to the couple’s arrest.

Lewis and Paige Parrish are vendors at a local flea market but police said that had nothing to do with the crime.

As for the victim, she cannot recoup any of the money or the land until the Parrish’s go to court.  If convicted, the District Attorney has the authority to freeze the couple’s assets and pursue other legal remedies in an attempt to recover the victim’s cash and land.

The victim was left with a little more than $4,000 in cash in the bank.

 
Some Students Lacked Desks For Opening Day Of School
Johnston County School officials confirmed Friday that a few students did not have desks to sit in for the opening day of classes on Monday.

The lack of desks was isolated to just one school, Corinth Holders High, which had already borrowed 150 desks from other schools prior to the first day of classes.

Corinth Holders enrollment of 1,621 students is the largest enrollment of any public school in the county.

Tracey Peedin Jones, Public Information Officer, for Johnston County Schools said a larger than expected number of students showed up Monday to enroll. Those students had previously not enrolled at Corinth Holders.

Instead of having the newly-enrolled students wait in the library for a class assignment, they were immediately assigned to a classroom. A “small number” had a class period where there were not enough desks. 

Peedin Jones asked parents to have patience during the first few days of school as class sizes are sorted out, especially at schools like Corinth Holders where more children enrolled than expected.

The NC Department of Public Instruction told Johnston County school leaders earlier this year their projected maximum enrollment for all 44 schools would be 34,096 this school year.  On Thursday, enrollment numbers exceeded that project when 34,239 students showed up for school. 

Peedin Jones expects that number to continue to rise. Officials are expected another increase in enrollment next week after the Labor Day holiday weekend.  

And if parents have questions or concerns, contact their school principal immediately. Parents can also voice their concerns on a new online program called EdChat where anyone can express their opinion 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Smithfield Selma High Welcomes New Athletic Director
Many exciting things are happening at SSS.  In July, Coach Jeffrey Dufour joined the Spartans as the new Athletic Director.  

Dufour previously taught for 12 years in Pitt County, he brings a wealth of experience to the school. His last eight years were spent at Ayden-Grifton High School as the Head Girls’ Varsity Basketball and Head Track and Field Coach.  

When asked about his plan for SSS, Dufour explained how he wants to maximize participation from student athletes and create a culture in which everyone is excited to come to school and participate. He is joined by his wife of 30 years, Sharon Dufour, who will teach in SSS Math Department.

“I believe the big time is where you are, and I believe the big time is here at SSS,” says Dufour, quoting his inspiration, Frosty Westering, veteran coach and professor at Pacific Lutheran University.  

“I’ve seen a lot of great things here at SSS since July, but since the first day of school with students, my enthusiasm has risen quite a few levels.  The students are motivated and excited.  Great things were done in the past, and we’re going to elevate our game and build on those experiences,” Dufour said.  

Smithfield-Selma’s Principal Stephen Baker said, “Spartan pride is really about this community, and what our high school means to us.  It involves the past, present, and our dreams and vision for the future.  Coach Dufour and I are united in this vision, and he brings a skill set that is uniquely suited to help us grow our students into successful student athletes.”  


Ribbon Cutting Held For Wake Radiology

On August 20th, Wake Radiology officially opened its new office at 218 Venture Drive in Smithfield.

The company has 20 locations throughout the Triangle and is a leading provider of medical imaging, including mammograms and MRI.

Dr. Lyndon Jordan III, a Smithfield native and managing partner, cuts the ribbon and celebrates with Smithfield-Selma Chamber members and company staff.   Photo courtesy Smithfield Selma Chamber


Four Oaks Woman Accused Of Prescription Fraud
A Four Oaks woman has been arrested for attempted prescription fraud.

Melissa Thornton Tart, 34, of Flowers Road, Four Oaks was arrested Thursday.

On Monday, August 25th, Smithfield Police allege Tart went to Walgreen’s in Smithfield and attempted to pass a forged prescription, and doctors signature, for oxycodone.

Tart was charged with one felony count of attempted to obtain a controlled substance by fraud or forgery. She was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $10,000 bond.  


Clayton Man Charged In Thefts

Johnston County deputies arrested a Clayton man Thursday afternoon for allegedly stealing items from his own father and two other victims.

Kenneth Charles Kinard, of Sunray Drive, Clayton is facing three counts of felony larceny and three counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.

On June 26th, the victim, Kinard’s father, reported to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office approximately $1,175 in property was taken, according to Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland.  The items, which included a printer, golf clubs, GPS, and external hard drive were taken to a Clayton pawnshop and sold by the suspect, authorities allege.

Between June 5th and June 6th, Kinard is also charged with stealing two ladders and an air compressor valued at $600 from one person and taking a ladder valued at $150 from another individual.  

The 25 year-old suspect was also charged with failing to appear in court on a misdemeanor shoplifting charge in 2013.

Bond was set at $82,250. 

 

Man Linked To Selma-Area Home Invasions, Robberies, Sexual Assault 
Law enforcement authorities announced Thursday they have solved four home invasions, a sexual assault, and attempted business robbery with the arrest of one individual.

Tajai Xavair Flonard, 20, of Futrell Road, Selma was arrested after Johnston County deputies and Selma Police conducted a search warrant at his home late-Wednesday.

Flonard is currently in the Johnston County Jail under a $1 million bond.

“I think this is a good example of law enforcement organizations working together to provide safer communities,” Sheriff Steve Bizzell told WTSB News.  “We want to get folks like this where they belong, and that’s behind bars.”

In the early morning hours of July 26th, August 6th, August 25th, and August 27th, Flonard allegedly forced his way into homes, all within a 5-mile radius, and at gunpoint robbed the victims. The home invasions all appear to have been random targets.

During the August 25 home invasion, Flonard allegedly sexually assaulted a woman at gunpoint, while other family members were present in the home. 

Also, on the morning of August 27, Flonard is accused of attempting to rob the Neighborhood Market on East Lizzie Street at gunpoint.

Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland said, “A joint investigation was conducted by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and Selma Police Department. Detectives were able to develop a suspect in connection with the home invasions, sexual assault and robberies that occurred in the Selma area.”

Flonard is facing multiple charges including first-degree burglary, first-degree sex offense, robbery, kidnapping, larceny, larceny of a firearm, and attempted robbery. 

Captain Strickland said additional charges against Flonard are expected.

While conducting a search warrant at Flonard’s home on Wednesday, authorities said his brother, Lance Emmanuel Flonard, of the same address was present. Lance Flonard was reportedly found to have a gun. Authorities said he was a convicted felon out of New York.  He was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. His bond was set at $25,000.        


Local Teen Wins NC Junior Duck Calling Contest

A Johnston County teenager has won the North Carolina Junior Duck Calling Contest.

Chase Wall of Four Oaks won the calling contest on Sunday in Kinston.

Chase is the 15 year-old son of Shane and Toni Wall of Four Oaks. Chase is a sophomore at South Johnston High School.

Chase used a Rich-In-Tone Duck Call during the competition.

He will now move on to represent North Carolina in the World Junior Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart, Arkansas.


Fraternal Order Of Police Donates 600 Book Bags

Fraternal Order of Police members include: (Front row from left) Ronald Johnson, Smithfield PD; Chris Blinson, Smithfield PD; David R. Johnson Jr., Smithfield PD; and Ronald L. Daniels, Selma PD. (Back row)Kevin Smith, Smithfield PD; Michael Gray, Smithfield PD; and Michael Baldwin, Rtd. Department of Corrections.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Johnston County Lodge recently purchased and donated 600 new book bags to help children in Johnston County Schools.

Each book bag was filled with essential school supplies like pencils, paper, glue sticks, and notebooks, which were also purchased by the Fraternal Order of Police.

Several members of the order worked hand in hand with Johnston County School social workers, nurses, and administration to fill the bags on August 21st.

The Fraternal Order of Police has long been a supporter of Johnston County Schools. FOP members said they were extremely glad to be able to help provide resources for the county’s children.


Civitas Calls On Thom Tillis To Drop Debate
Civitas President Francis De Luca is urging Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis to withdraw from a U.S. Senate debate co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters. De Luca says the League of Women Voters has two active lawsuits against the state and is part of a left-wing organization known for its controversial call to “eviscerate” and “cripple” the state’s political leadership.

“It is outrageous that the Speaker of the North Carolina House and current candidate for the Senate is involved with a group which is also suing the state to block good legislation – and which apparently condones undemocratic tactics,” De Luca said.

The League of Women Voters (LWV) joined with a nonprofit arm of the AFL-CIO, the NC NAACP and others in a federal lawsuit seeking to undo the Voter Identification and Verification Act (VIVA). De Luca said it is a badly needed law, which will make elections fairer and more secure. A federal judge this month rejected a request for an injunction against VIVA. The suit against the law itself is scheduled for hearing in July 2015.

The other lawsuit seeks to overturn the congressional redistricting completed by the General Assembly in 2011 ­– and it names Tillis personally as a defendant. The U.S. Justice Department and a state court have held the redistricting to be constitutional.

According to a press release, the LWV is a member of Blueprint NC, which in 2013 it distributed a memo outlining for a statewide attack on Republican and conservative politicians. The memo called for “crippling their leaders” – including Tillis – and using hardball tactics to “eviscerate the [GOP] leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”

“Speaker Tillis should not be lending his stature to the League of Women Voters while they are working with left-wing groups standing in the way of beneficial legislation,” De Luca said. “And if he is going to fight against entrenched liberal groups in Washington, he should show he’s no pawn of liberal groups here.”

The debates with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, which are also sponsored by WECT-TV, are scheduled for Wednesday, September 3rd and Tuesday, October 7th.

The Civitas Institute – “North Carolina’s Conservative Voice” – is a policy institute based in Raleigh.


Teen Charged With Prescription Fraud

A Wake County woman was arrested at a Johnston County Wal-Mart on Wednesday night on fraud charges.

Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland said deputies were called to the Wal-Mart on Highway 42 West after the suspect reportedly went to the pharmacy inside the store and attempted to pass a forged prescription for $300 worth of oxycodone tablets.

Deputies responded to the scene and arrested Joseta Maurita Poulson, 18, of Raleigh, before she left the business.

Poulson was charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery and obtaining property by false pretenses. Both are felony charges.  Poulson was confined in the Johnston County Jail under a $26,000 bond.


Suspect Charged In Theft Of $5,820 In Property

A Smithfield man has been arrested for allegedly stealing property from a home then selling it to a recycling facility. 

While being arrested on Wednesday, the suspect, Quintaris Azhaun Lawrence, 23, of Swift Creek Road, allegedly resisted arrest and tried to flee from officers.  A small amount of marijuana was also reportedly found in his possession.

On August 23, Lawrence reportedly stolen $5,820 worth of items, including motorcycle radiators, army boxes, batteries, and aluminum, which were later resold to a local recycling facility for $229.81. 

Lawrence was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses, possession of stolen property, assault, resisting arrest, resisting a public officer, and damage to property. Bail was set at $44,000. 


Highway Patrol Encouraging Motorists To Slow Down During The Labor Day Holiday
The State Highway Patrol is reminding motorists to be careful as they enjoy the Labor Day holiday. According to AAA, 34.7 million people are expected to travel during the Labor Day period. More than 6.3 million people from the South Atlantic states (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia) are expected to travel this holiday weekend by automobile, air and other forms of transportation, up 1.6% from last year.

To ensure a safe driving environment for motorists, the Highway Patrol will increase patrols on all interstates and major four lane highways during the holiday, which officially begins on Thursday, August 28th and ends at midnight on Monday, September 1st.

Last year in North Carolina, troopers investigated 14 fatal collisions and 403 injury collisions over the Labor Day weekend. During the 2012 Labor Day holiday troopers investigated 24 fatal collisions.

Speed is the leading cause of traffic collisions and fatalities in the state. Statistics have shown that motorists who slow down and travel at posted speeds will not only increase their chances of arriving at their destination safely but will also conserve fuel.

Troopers will also be on the lookout for aggressive drivers who tend to cause many crashes.

“Speed is the number one factor in fatal collisions and we will be looking for aggressive drivers, drunk drivers, and other violators while patrolling throughout the state during the holiday week,” said Lt. Jeff Gordon, Highway Patrol spokesman. “We are committed to doing our part to reduce traffic collisions throughout our state but we need the motoring public to do their part by obeying all traffic laws while traveling to their holiday destination.”

Citizens may report crashes, drunk drivers, stranded motorists or other highway situations to the Highway Patrol by dialing *HP (*47) on their cellular telephones. This is a toll free call that connects the caller with the nearest Highway Patrol communications center.

11 Complete Crisis Intervention Training

CIT Training graduates include: (Front row from left)C. Meyers, R. Walls, G. Whitman, D. Strickland Guin, D. Thorne, S. Godwin. (Back row): K. Nicholson, C. Boykin, D. Sorrell, P. Hill, R. Broughton, S. Pilkington, M. Medlin, and J. Gonzalez.

The 7th Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training academy was held recently. It is sponsored by the Johnston County Mental Health Center and Johnston Community College.

Seven Johnston County deputy school resource officers, one sheriff’s lieutenant, two EMS workers, and a juvenile court counselor became newly certified CIT personnel. 
CIT is a training and response program designed for law enforcement and other first responders who handle crisis calls involving people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and alcohol and substance use disorders.

CIT training provides an “on-the-job-tool” that can be used by law enforcement personnel and other first responders to recognize mental health issues and crises, to de-escalate crisis situations, to enhance and maintain officer, consumer and public safety, and to assist in directing individuals with mental illness to the appropriate health care systems and reduce their involvement in the criminal justice system.

The following agencies in Johnston County have certified CIT officers: Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Smithfield Police, Clayton Police, Benson Police, Selma Police, Princeton Police, Johnston County Emergency Medical Services, Johnston Health, Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, and the Mental Health Association of Johnston County.

The next CIT Training Academy is scheduled for October 20-24. For more information about CIT, call Charlene Meyers at the Johnston County Mental Health Center at 919-989-5575.

 

Pine Level Softball Team Wins National Tournament
The Chaos 00 14U Girls Softball Team based out of Pine Level won the World Fastpitch Connection Summer
Nationals held recently at Myrtle Beach South Carolina.

The team went undefeated in bracket play scoring 45 runs and allowing 10, defeating the Mason Thunder 99 from Ohio 9 to 3 in the Championship game.

Team members from left: Jazmin Harper, Casey Bunting, Aniyah Jones, Keelin Hunter, Lindsey Massengill, Macy Tyndall, Amberlyn Pearce, Haley Bunting, Megan Deal, Jada Santiago, Taylor Puetz. Coaches from left, Coach Lee Bunting, Head Coach Junior Pearce, Coach Wayne Massengill. Contributed photo


Johnston’s Jobless Rate Climbs To 6.0 Percent

Johnston County’s unemployment rate increased from June to July, according to a report released Wednesday by the NC Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division.

Johnston’s jobless rate increased from 5.5 to 6.0%. A year earlier, in July 2013, our unemployment rate was 7.1 percent. 

Johnston was among 95 of the states 100 counties that saw unemployment numbers increase in July, the latest month where county statistics are currently available.

Other local counties also had higher jobless numbers: Wake - 5.1 to 5.5%, Wayne – 6.5 to 7.1%, Wilson 9.8 to 10.2%, Sampson 5.9 to 6.6%, Harnett, 7.4 to 8.0%, Nash 8.8 to 9.5%, Franklin 6.1 to 6.4%.

In real numbers, a total of 5,126 people are unemployed in Johnston County out of a labor force of 85,606, according to the report.


Rash Of Johnston, Wake County Car Break-In’s Possibly Related
The Johnston and Wake County Sheriff’s Offices are urging drivers to lock their cars, when left unattended, following a rash of car break-ins.

Between Monday night and Tuesday morning, a total of 15 cars were entered and valuables were stolen in Johnston County, according to Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland. Also, one vehicle, a Ford Escape, was stolen.

Captain Strickland said the car break-ins occurred in subdivisions in the western part of the county.  All are believed to be connected.

“Please take the time to lock your vehicles,” Captain Strickland said. “And if you see something suspicious call us.” 

The incidents occurred on Kendall Drive, Winston Pointe Drive, Chippenham Court, Keller Drive, Valley Drive, Bedford Lane, Castlewood Drive, Finley Court, E Trafalgar Court, and Clarence Lane.  

Detectives are aggressively working on the 16 incidents. 

In Wake County, cars parked in rural subdivisions in the southern and eastern portions of the county have been entered. In a press release, Wake County Sheriff’s Captain Jimmy Stevens said the thefts date back a few weeks. Items were taken from cars that were left unlocked.   

Authorities have not ruled out the incidents in the two counties are connected.

Anyone who spots any suspicious activity is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5000 or the Wake County Sheriff’s Office at 919-856-6800.


Princeton Police Receive Governor’s Crime Commission Grant
The Princeton Police Department has been awarded a Governor's Crime Commission Grant for $14,625.00 for additional part time hours to be utilized now through June 30th, 2015. 

The grant will allow Police Chief Tyrone Sutton to place additional officers on the streets of Princeton to reduce crime in critical areas involving alcohol, drugs and investigations using a wide variety of enforcement.

Chief Sutton said the first goal is identifying the known areas of crime through observation and citizen complaints, the second is focusing on  reducing drug activity, alcohol violations and applying more time to investigations.

Small municipalities, like Princeton,rely heavily on funding through grants when town budget restraints restrict police department purchases, additional manpower and modernization of equipment.

There are a number of law enforcement agencies and departments who apply for grants every year however many are declined. Since federal funding is limited, the commission has to carefully select departments with  greater needs than others that match their criteria.

Chief Sutton said the Town of Princeton and the Princeton Police Department are pleased to receive this grant award so that we may continue to serve the community more efficiently and in a more proactive and strategic way.


Police: Mom Caught Driving Drunk With 2 Year-Old In Car
A Selma woman was arrested Wednesday morning for allegedly driving drunk while her 2 year-old child was in the vehicle.

Smithfield Police arrested Jessica Brandy Hinnant, 34, of Hinnant Edgerton Road, Selma during a traffic stop around 2:25am on Booker Dairy Road.

Police Captain Bruce Gentry said Hinnant’s child was in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop. Hinnant registered 0.12 on the Breathalyzer, above the legal limit of 0.08, police said.  Gentry also said a small amount of suspected marijuana and drug paraphernalia was found in the vehicle. 

Hinnant was charged with driving while impaired, misdemeanor child abuse, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Captain Gentry said the child was turned over to the custody of Hinnant’s mother.
 

Mother Accused Of Using 4 Year-Old Son To Help Shoplift
A young mother is accused by Smithfield Police of using her 4 year-old son to assist her with shoplifting merchandise.

The incident was reported Monday morning at Wal-Mart at 1299 North Brightleaf Boulevard.

According to police, Ashley Denise Everett, 23, of Rocky Mount was removing items from clothes hangers and placing them in her shopping cart where her 4 year-old child was located.  Everett allegedly had her child to then place the items in a diaper bag.

Everett was arrested at the scene and charged with larceny and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.

She was released on a $1,500 bond pending an October 7 court date, according to police records. 


3 Injured In Smithfield Crash
Three people were sent to the hospital Tuesday night after a motorist said her foot became lodged between the gas and brake pedals and couldn’t stop her car.

The accident happened just before 9pm on Futrell Way at Fayetteville Street in East Smithfield.

Police said a 2002 Honda, driven by Deborah Williams Peacock, 56, of Smith Street, Smithfield, was traveling west on Fayetteville Street when her foot became wedged between the gas and brake pedals. As Peacock approached the intersection of Futrell Way she could not stop her car, which collided with a 1999 Dodge driven by Patrick Alvonda Byrd, 47, of Ogburn Road, Smithfield.

After the impact, Peacock’s car continued on striking a speed limit sign. She was able to free her foot from the pedal and stop a short about 100 yards away on Durham Street.

Both drivers and a passenger in Byrd’s car were taken to Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield for treatment of minor injuries.

Peacock was cited for having an open container of alcohol in the passenger area.
 

Faith Communities Sponsor Luncheons For Teachers

Justice Paul Martin Newby (far right) presents a plaque to Sleep Inn Sales Director Sarai Daniels (center) thanking her for 18 years of support during the Back-to-School luncheon held at West Johnston High School. To her right is daughter, Lynn Daniels, Super 8 general manager. Also assisting in the presentation of awards is Justice Bob Edmunds and Johnston Baptist Association’s Dade Sherman.

Local churches across the county graciously welcomed back the Johnston County Schools (JCS) family with several special luncheons to show their support for the upcoming school year.

One of the largest luncheon events was held at West Johnston High School on Thursday, August 21st.

Roughly one thousand teachers from the West Johnston and Cleveland attendance areas and other JCS employees filled the cafeteria and enjoyed a free meal courtesy of the Johnston Baptist Association, an organization that has long been a supporter and community partner of JCS.

Assisting in the event’s food service were Justices Paul Martin Newby and Bob Edmunds. Also in attendance were Johnston Baptist Association’s Dade Sherman, Johnston County Board of Education members, and Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom.

Sponsoring the event – and sponsors for the past 18 years – were First Baptist Church of Smithfield, Super 8 Hotel and Sleep Inn and Suites, Stevens Sausage Company, Selma IGA, Franklin Baking Company, and Pepsi Bottling Ventures.

The meal included hamburgers and hotdogs with all the popular trimmings, chips, soda, and dessert. Attendees also had the opportunity to win several high-end door prizes and participate in a few dance competitions.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of all our community partners during the teacher workdays,” said Johnston County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom. “Year after year they do a tremendous job of helping us kickoff the new school year.”



Smithfield Man Shot In Driveway Of Selma Home
Selma Police are investigating the weekend shooting of a Smithfield man.

Around 4am Saturday, police said 24 year-old Sammy Gonzalez Jr., was shot while in the driveway of a home in the 1200 block of North Pollock Street.

Police believe the victim and several friends had just pulled up to a home in their car when a gray Jeep pulled in behind them.

A man got out of the Jeep, pointed a pistol at Gonzalez and ordered him to empty his pockets.  As Gonzalez began emptying his pockets the suspect fired the weapon striking the victim in the leg.

Police said the suspect got back into the passenger seat of the Jeep and fled on Highway 301 towards Micro.  Police said another individual was driving the Jeep but never exited.  Police said both suspects were black males. 

Gonzalez was treated at WakeMed for non-life threatening injuries.

Anyone who has any information about the shooting is asked to contact Detective J. Bass at 919-965-8189.


Woman Killed In Wayne County House Fire
A woman died Monday in a house fire in Wayne County. 

Flames broke out just before 7am at the home on Bass Lake Drive in Mount Olive.

Several fire departments responded to the scene, however, intense smoke and flames prevented firemen from being able to rescue a woman trapped inside.  The body of Sharon Kascask was located after the flames were extinguished.

Kascask was found lying on the floor of the master bedroom. 

A 12 year-old inside the home was able to escape but had to break out a bedroom window and jump outside. He ran to a neighbor’s house for help.  The child suffered smoke inhalation and minor burns and underwent treatment at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and the NC SBI Arson Team are investigating how the fire began. Officials do not believe the fire is suspicious but so far have not been able to pinpoint the cause. 


DOT: No Timetable For Booker Dairy Road Extension
There is no timetable for the start of the Booker Dairy Road Extension project in Smithfield, but by 2015 the DOT will likely have some idea how the project will rank for funding. 

The planned project will extend Booker Dairy Road, from the curve just east of Smithfield-Selma High, on a new path to US 301 connecting with Ava Gardner Boulevard, NC Department of Transportation Communications Supervisor Steve Abbott said. 

Additional improvements will take place on Booker Dairy from Buffalo Road to White Oak Drive. 

From White Oak to US 301, the new road will be mostly on a new location. 

Abbott said the DOT is undergoing an evaluation of every highway project in the state as part of the new Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) plan, including the Booker Dairy Road Extension Project.

STI will overhaul the way the DOT funds transportation improvements.

Once the project begins, construction is estimated to take a full year.

Abbott said there are no changes planned for the existing part of Booker Dairy Road east of White Oak towards US301 (North Brightleaf Boulevard).

Local officials hope the new section of Booker Dairy will open up the area for development. Abbott said it could potentially happen if the landowners decided to, although limited access control to the new road is currently proposed.

Abbott said the design for the project is ongoing. Right of way acquisition will not happen unless this project ranks high under the new STI plan.

In May, the DOT said about 3,100 highway projects are being considered across the state, varying in size and importance.  By 2015, the initial phase of the STI will narrow the list to 371 priority projects over the next 10 years.   


Abbott said it was too early to tell how the Booker Dairy project will rank and when the project can move forward.


Suspect Accused Of Making Meth In Storage Unit, Fleeing Twice
A Johnston County man who reportedly fled from authorities during a two-county car chase has been arrested.

On August 12th, Johnston County Sheriff’s Office narcotic agents and the NC SBI had conducted a search warrant on a self storage unit on Highway 42 west of Clayton.  Authorities said they found a methamphetamine lab that had been in operation inside the storage unit. 

As SBI crews were decontaminating the unit, Sheriff’s Narcotics Captain A.C. Fish said the suspect, Joshua Andrew Ferguson of Wood Lee Road, Four Oaks pulled up to the scene. He fled in his car. After the chase entered Wake County, officers discontinued the pursuit for safety reasons due to Ferguson driving at night without any headlights, rainy conditions, and Ferguson’s alleged reckless driving, Captain Fish said.  

On Saturday, deputies were called to investigate a complaint at an address in the 11000 block of Highway 96 South. Deputies said Ferguson attempted to flee on foot but was caught in the back yard of a nearby home. 

While being transported to jail, Ferguson was able to unbuckle his seat belt and roll out of the patrol car, officials said. The deputy was able to slow his vehicle down to prevent Ferguson from being injured.    

Ferguson is facing numerous charges including manufacturing meth, possess/distribute meth precursors, fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, resisting a public officer, maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance, and probation violation.

The 32 year-old man was confined in the Johnston County Jail under a $202,500 bond.


Second Heavy Equipment Theft Reported
For the second time this month, and nearly in the same location, an expensive piece of construction equipment has been stolen.

On Friday, August 22nd, a Caterpillar 259 skid steer loader and equipment valued at $44,500 was stolen from NC Landscapes at 5533 NC Highway 42 West.

Johnston County sheriff’s deputies said the equipment was offloaded from a trailer then loaded onto another trailer and stolen from the business.

On August 11th, Clayton Police said a Caterpillar 289 skid steer loader and trailer valued at $55,000 was taken from a jobsite on Highway 42 West near Johnston Medical Center.

Sheriff’s Captain J. Caldwell said its unknown if the two cases are connected but deputies are working with Clayton Police on the thefts.

Anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area where the thefts occurred is asked to contact Clayton Police at 919-553-4611 or the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5010. 


Princeton Man Accused Of Possessing Meth

A Princeton man was arrested on drug charges Sunday morning during a traffic stop on South Brightleaf Boulevard in Smithfield.

Around 9:05am, a Smithfield police officer stopped a vehicle.  During a search of the car a small amount of suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were located, according to Police Captain Bruce Gentry.

Johnathan Glenn Wilkins, 25, of McKenzie Drive, was charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.  Wilkins was given a $20,000 bond. 


Driver Accused Of Having Concealing Stun Gun
Smithfield Police arrested a driver during a traffic stop Sunday reportedly because he had a concealed stun gun in his possession.

An officer conducted a traffic stop around 9:45am on Bridge Street. 

The driver, Nathan Tobias Matthews, 36, of Oak Street, Smithfield was driving on a revoked license, according to Police Captain Bruce Gentry. 

A search subsequent to Matthews arrest revealed a concealed stun gun in his possession, Captain Gentry said.

Matthews was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor.  He was released on a $2,000 bond pending an October 23 court date, according to an arrest report. 

 

Local Basketball Team Completes ALS Challenge
On Sunday, the Tobacco Road Basketball League Neuse River Team completed the ALS ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for ALS.

After completing the challenge, the team challenged the rest of the Tobacco Road Basketball League.

The semi-pro players came together in Smithfield to accomplish the task.

The Neuse River Tobacco Road Basketball League team helps and mentors the youth Neuse River team. All came together Sunday to raise awareness for ALS. Contributed photo


First Day School Enrollment Up 796 Students
The first day of traditional calendar schools in Johnston County saw an enrollment increase of 796 students.

33,181 students attended the opening day of classes on Monday, compared to 32,385 students

Most of the 44 Johnston County Schools showed attendance increases but several campuses saw slightly fewer students on the first day of school.

A total of 11 schools had more than 1,000 students enrolled.

The largest attendance on Monday was at Corinth Holders High which had 1,621 students enrolled, up from 1,426 last year.  Clayton High had 1,417 up from 1,282. Cleveland High had 1,412 students enrolled Monday, down slightly from 1,485 last year.   Enrollment at Smithfield-Selma High was up from 966 last year to 1,098 Monday. South Johnston saw an increase of 40 students from 1059 to 1999. West Johnston High’s enrollment was down slightly from 1314 to 1298. 

The largest student attendance by grade was eighth grade with 2,761, followed by sixth grade 2,711, and seventh grade at 2,699. 

Johnston County School officials reported no transportation or administrative glitches on the opening day.


Number Of Motorists Charged With Passing Stopped School Buses Down

With the start of traditional calendar schools on Monday, that means more buses will be on the roads. But there is one good number to report about all those buses. The number of motorists charged with passing a stopped school buses has dropped significantly in Johnston County.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NC DPI), 4 Johnston County motorists have been cited for passing stopped school buses for the first eight months in 2014, compared to 35 in 2013.

The numbers have decreased statewide as well. In 2013, 478 motorists were cited statewide, compared to 179 for the first eight months of this year.

Lt. Jeff Gordon, Public Information Officer for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, told WTSB News a conviction for passing a stopped school bus is five points on their driver’s license.

Lt. Gordon said drivers who are convicted face a $500 fine and are not eligible for a prayer for judgment. A driver who passes a stopped school bus and hits someone will face a Class I felony and a minimum of $1,250. The penalty rises to a Class H felony and fine of $2,500 if someone is killed.

"Student safety is top priority for school bus drivers and school transportation staff," State Superintendent June Atkinson said. "We want our students to arrive at school safely and to be delivered home safely. That is why every North Carolina motorist should always remember to stop completely for the school bus's flashing red lights and extended stop arm, and to watch for students around bus stops."

Since 1999, 13 students have been killed while boarding or exiting a school bus; and four of those deaths occurred in the 2012-13 school year alone. North Carolina law requires motorists to stop and remain stopped while the bus has its stop sign and flashing red lights engaged.

One tool school districts use to reduce the number of violations is school bus stop arm cameras. Johnston County Schools has more cameras installed than any other county in the state.

According to the NC DPI Transportation Services, Johnston County Schools operates 257 buses. Of those, 92 buses have cameras, which is significantly more than surrounding counties.

Statewide, there are more than 13,300 school buses on the roads, with 263 of those operating in Johnston County.


Clayton High Roof Replacement To Cost $180,000

The Johnston County Board of Education has awarded a $180,000 contract to replace the roof at Clayton High School without seeking bids. Officials said the roof is in such poor condition it is creating a health and safety hazard and there simply wasn’t time to solicit bids. 

Hamlin Roofing Company was selected to replace the roof.
Chief Financial Officer Patrick Jacobs said the roof on Clayton High School is beyond repair.

It is looking so badly, Jacobs said, that patching is not an option. Due to all the recent rains, the leaks have created a potential health hazard for students and staff, Jacobs recently told the school board.

The General Assembly allows for an exception to the public bidding process for “cases of special emergencies involving the health and safety of the people and their property.”

Jacobs said Johnston County Schools feels that competitive bids weren’t required due to the special circumstances involving the health and safety of school personnel and students as well as the preservation of the school building and property.


Clayton Police Conduct License Checkpoints 
The Clayton Police Department, with the help of several other law enforcement agencies, held a very successful license checkpoint Saturday night. 

Two checkpoints were established, one on Highway 42 at Glen Laurel Road and a second on Glen Laurel Road at Powhatan Road.

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, NC Highway Patrol, Smithfield Police, Kenly Police, Princeton Police, and Wilson’s Mills Police Department’s participated.

The following charges were made: Drug offenses – 21; assault on law enforcement officer –1; resisting, delay,obstruct – 1, license restriction – 1; no operators license – 28; open container of alcohol – 8; expired registration – 15; driving on a revoked license – 7; underage consumption of alcohol – 1; expired inspection – 4; failure to change address with DMV – 1; safe movement – 1.

Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com 


Four Oaks Man Found Dead In Home
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a Four Oaks man.

Early Sunday morning, 48 year-old Dean Ward Temple was found deceased in his home on Temple Road near Four Oaks. 

Authorities said Temple’s girlfriend discovered his body.

The NC Medical Examiner’s Office is assisting with the investigation.

As of Monday, an official cause of death had not been determined, according to Sheriff’s Captain J. Caldwell.



Former Church Employee Charged With Taking Indecent Liberties

A former employee at a Wendell church has been arrested on charges of taking indecent liberties with a child.

Benjamin David Farrell, 28, of Wake Forest was arrested Friday on a single felony charge by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

The alleged incident involving Farrell had been under investigation since August 10th. 

Sheriff’s Captain J. Caldwell said Farrell allegedly had inappropriate contact with a 14 year-old girl and had sent inappropriate text messages to the victim. 

Farrell was part of the administrative staff at The Passage Church in Wendell, according to Pastor Matt Walton. Walton told WTSB News on Monday that Farrell is no longer employed by the church. He had been a volunteer and a paid staff member with the church about 3 years. 

Pastor Walton declined further comment about the alleged incident.

Captain Caldwell said the incident happened earlier this month at a home outside of Clayton in Johnston County.


Man Charged With Inappropriately Touching 10 Year-Old Girl

A Smithfield man was arrested Sunday morning on charges he inappropriately touched a 10 year-old girl. The alleged incident happened over-the-weekend. 

Sergio Domingo Lopez, 32, of Highway 210, Smithfield was charged with one felony count of taking indecent liberties with a child.

Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain J. Caldwell said the suspect allegedly touched the young victim while she slept.

Lopez was booked into the Johnston County Jail where he was held under a $100,000 bond.

     
Man Charged With Firing Gun Towards Father

A 32 year-old Clayton man was arrested Saturday for allegedly shooting at his own father. The incident happened on Wilson Jones Road.

The suspect, Richard Keith White III, 32, was located a short time after the incident and charged with discharging a weapon in occupied property/moving vehicle. 

White’s father called Johnston County deputies after his son allegedly fired a gun into the cab of his truck, shattering the rear glass window.  The victim reportedly told deputies as he attempted to flee a second bullet shattered a second window.

White was incarcerated in the Johnston County Jail under a $50,000 bond.  


10 Charges Filed Against Suspect In $35 Shoplifting Case
Smithfield Police arrested a shoplifting suspect on a total of 10 charges after he allegedly tried to steal just a little more than $35 in merchandise.

The incident happened Saturday afternoon at Wal-Mart at 1299 North Brightleaf Boulevard.

Police Captain Bruce Gentry said Kevin Joseph Stein, 42, of White Oak Drive, Smithfield switched the price tags on 9 items so they would ring up at a lower price at the register and also attempted to shoplift additional merchandise.

Stein was arrested at the scene and charged with 9 counts of larceny by changing the price tag and one count of larceny. Stein was given a $5,000 bond and ordered to appear in court in October on the 10 misdemeanor charges.

Police said the merchandise was recovered.

 
DWI Suspect Accused Of Damaging Police Car
A DWI suspect is facing multiple charges following a traffic stop around 1:20am Sunday.  Smithfield Police stopped a car for reportedly speeding 64mph in a 35mph zone in the 1100 block of North Brightleaf Boulevard.

The driver, Bruce Percell McClamb, 22, of Collier Street, Smithfield was arrested for DWI, speeding, possession of marijuana, having an open container of alcohol, and driving left of center.

Before being taken to jail, Police Captain Bruce Gentry said McClamb began striking his head against the passenger door window causing the glass to shatter.  McClamb was not injured but was subsequently charged with damage to property.

Captain Gentry said McClamb registered 0.14 on the Breathalyzer, above the legal limit of 0.08 in NC.

McClamb was given a $4,500 bond on the charges.         


Four Oaks Bank Employees Build Wheel Chair Ramp For Resident

On August 16th, a group of thirteen Four Oaks Bank employees, along with some of their spouses, generously gave up their Saturday to build a wheel chair ramp for a woman in need in the Four Oaks community.

To quote one volunteer, “It was a blessing to ‘Give Back’”. Another said, "The team spirit was awesome. It was a wonderful, rewarding time.” Contributed photo.

 

NC Medical Board Suspends Smithfield Cardiologist’s License
The North Carolina Medical Board has suspended a well-known Smithfield cardiologist’s medical license for prescribing a controlled substance to a family member and using profanity on the social media site Twitter.

On Thursday, Dr. Franklin C. Wefald, with Millennia Cardiovascular, had his medical license suspended for one year. The suspension will be stayed after 120 days. The period of the 120-day suspension begins on October 15th, 2014 and ends on February 12th, 2015.

Dr. Wefald was also fined $5,000. He has until July 12, 2015 to pay his fine.

The Consent Order was signed by Dr. Paul S. Camnitz, President, of the North Carolina Medical Board.

According the Medical Board’s Finding of Facts, between 2011 and 2013, Dr. Wefald prescribed controlled substances to a family member. To conceal his actions, Dr. Wefald signed another physician’s name to the prescriptions and used the physician’s DEA registration number.

The report stated Dr. Wefald did not maintain a medical record for the family member documenting an appropriate medical history, physical exam, diagnoses, or treatment plan. The investigation did not reveal any harm to the family member as a result of the prescribing.

Between January and February 2013, the report said Dr. Wefald had a Twitter account in which he used his first and last name and identified himself as a physician.

"Dr. Wefald used profanity and disparaging and inappropriate remarks about fictitious patients,” the report said. He also "referred to specific procedures which did not involved actual patients."

The Medical Board reprimanded Dr. Wefald for his Twitter use.

The medical board ruled Dr. Wefald’s “inappropriate and unprofessional use of social media… violates the ethics of the medical profession.”   The board said he “committed unprofessional conduct, including violating the ethics of the medical profession” by prescribing controlled substances to a family member.                                                       

Dr. Wefald was first licensed by the NC Medical Board in 1999.

Dr. Wefald waived his right to a hearing, judicial review or an appeal of his case. He entered into the Medical Board’s consent order voluntarily.

Dr. Wefald indicated to the Medical Board that he wanted his case resolved without the need for more formal hearings. 2008 WTSB File Photo
                     

$3,000 Worth Of Sunglasses Stolen During Robbery
A female clerk was not harmed during a robbery Thursday night at the Sunglass Hut at Carolina Premium Outlets.

Around 8:51pm, a lone suspect entered the business, took out a bag and began filling it with Ray Ban sunglasses.

The suspect, a heavyset black male wearing dark clothing, reportedly told the clerk not to interfere or she would be harmed. No weapon was displayed.

Smithfield Police said the suspect made away with 20 pair of sunglasses worth $3,000. 


Dr. Dean Dornic Named One Of America’s Best Eye Surgeons
Dr. Dean Dornic has been named one of America’s best eye surgeons.

The accomplishment was published in a recent issue of Delta Sky magazine.

Dr. Dornic was nominated by his peers and selected by the nation’s leading provider of information on top doctors.

He is also board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Dornic has had an interest in eye care since 1980.  He has both a doctor of medicine and doctor of optometry degree.  

He has performed thousands of successful LASIK surgery procedures. Dr. Dornic is affiliated with Eye Specialists of Carolina with offices in Smithfield and Cary.

Dr. Dornic
is an active member of the medical staff at Johnston Health, Rex Health Care Center, andd WakeMed Cary Hospital.

After completing his ophthalmology training at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, he underwent additional fellowship training in refractive surgery at the Sinskey Eye Institute in Santa Monica, California.