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Smithfield-Selma Chamber Recognizes Outstanding Citizens

(Top right photo)(Left to right) Citizens of the Year Dwight Morris and Chris Key

(Center) Distinguished Citizens Will Crocker and Donald Baker.

(Bottom right) Jimmy Creech Small Business Persons of the Year Ray & Rose Pittman.

The Greater Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce held its 45th Annual Meeting on January 26th. Highlights of the night included the naming of Chris Key and Dwight Morris as the area's Citizens of the Year for their work in developing the new Inclusion Park for special needs children being built at Smithfield Community Park. 

The Chamber presented a number of other awards, including:

Citizens of the Year, sponsored by Woody's Computing Service - Chris Key, owner of Aspect Financial in Smithfield and Dwight Morris, executive director of the Partnership for Children of Johnston County.

Distinguished Citizen from Smithfield, sponsored by Woody's Computing Service - Will R. Crocker, recently retired Johnston County Clerk of Court

Distinguished Citizen from Selma, sponsored by Woody's Computing Service - Donald Baker, head of the electrical department for the Town of Selma

Chamber Athena Award, sponsored by Corestaff Services - Jackie Lacy, a member of the Selma Town Council.

Jimmy Creech Small Business Person of the Year, sponsored by Stancil Oil Company - Rose and Ray Pittman, owners of Hula Girl Ice Cream & Grill in Selma

Life Memberships, sponsored by Triangle Insurance Group - Carolyn Ennis, Wingate Lassiter and Frank B. Holding

Howard Best Awards for Outstanding Members of the Board of Directors, sponsored by W. Landis Bullock Industrial Contractor Supply- Neil Watson, partner at Watson, Cooke & Jones, CPAs in Smithfield

Chamber Ambassador of the Year, sponsored by Watson, Cooke & Jones, PA - Leslie Atkinson with HealthQuest.

Past Board Chair Award - Keith Dimsdale, Chick-fil-A of Smithfield

Approximately 160 Chamber members attended the banquet, which was presented by Interstate Outdoor Billboards and held at The Farm on Batten Road, north of Selma.

 

Dr. Marilyn Pearson Named NC Health Director Of The Year
On Wednesday, the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors (NCALHD) honored Dr. Marilyn Roseann Pearson of Johnston County as Health Director of the Year.

The North Carolina Health Director of the Year Award was created by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and is implemented through the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors, an affiliate of the NCACC and is given to an individual for outstanding leadership in both public health in North Carolina and for leadership and involvement in local community and civic activities

Marilyn R. Pearson, MD was chosen as 2015 Health Director of the Year for her leadership and commitment to the health and well being of the residents of Johnston County.

Dr. Pearson began her career in the Johnston County Health Department as the Medical Director. After 7 years as a physician in the Johnston County Health Department clinics, she became Health Director and Medical Director, directly supervising three physicians, five mid-Level providers, and other managerial support teams.

In this capacity, she oversees services provided in the adult, pediatric, epidemiology, maternity and family planning clinics. In addition, vaccines, WIC, environmental, and health education services are also offered. In 2013, she led the expansion of the health department with the addition of the behavioral health services division. Pearson’s work in working with other health partners in Johnston County to strengthen the medical safety net for the uninsured and underinsured was a key element in her being chosen for this year’s award.

She was also recognized for her extensive service on several boards and committees, including the Living Well Partnership of Johnston County, the Johnston County Schools Agency Round Table, Partnership for Children, and Project Access of Johnston and Harnett Counties. Her statewide associations include membership on the Community Care of North Carolina Board and in 2011, she was appointed as Congressional District 2 Representative for the Division of Medical Assistance Medical Care Advisory Committee.

Pearson received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Clemson University and her MD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed her Internship and Residency in Family Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC and is currently a Diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice.

Pearson was nominated for the Health Director of the Year Award by staff at the Johnston County Health Department.

During the same event, NC Senator Gladys Robinson of Guilford County was named the Legislator of the Year and Graham Children’s Health Services was honored with the 2015 Public Health Partners Award for their efforts to improve children’s health in Yancey and Mitchell Counties.

“We are pleased to recognize these leaders for their service to the people of North Carolina,” said Buck Wilson, President of the NC Association of Local Health Director. “They are the true heroes of the public health community.”

The awards were given at the NCALHD annual meeting awards luncheon in Raleigh. The awards luncheon was held in conjunction with the State Health Director's meeting, also in Raleigh. WTSB File Photo

 

Foundation’s Gift Will Improve Access To Local Health Care

The Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation has given $9,000 to the newly established Johnston Health Patient Assistance Fund. At center, Tammy Thurman, community relations director for Piedmont’s eastern region, presents a ceremonial check to Johnston Health CEO Chuck Elliott, at right, and Johnston Health Foundation board member Jim Jenkins, at left. At far left is Alison Drain, director of the Johnston Health Foundation, and at far right, April Culver, vice president of planning and external affairs, whose area includes the foundation.

The Johnston Health Foundation has received its first corporate gift for a fund aimed at removing some of the most basic obstacles to a patient’s treatment and recovery.

A $9,000 contribution from the Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation doubles the size of the newly established Johnston Health Patient Assistance Fund, which will begin disbursements in February. Eligible expenses include medications, medical equipment, and transportation to and from doctors’ offices.

Alison Drain, director of the Johnston Health Foundation, says patients sometimes miss their medical appointments because they don’t have a ride. In other cases, they may not recover as quickly because they can’t afford their pain medications.

“A lack of financial resources can lead to expensive readmissions to hospitals,” she says. “Another effect is that patients arrive sicker, and it takes longer for them to get well.”

Drain says the foundation is thankful for corporate foundations such as Piedmont Natural Gas. “They have provided the seed money we need to begin helping patients right away and throughout their care here at Johnston Health,” she says.

“Piedmont Natural Gas is proud to support the Johnston Health Foundation’s Patient Assistance Fund,” said Tammy Thurman, community relation’s manager for the eastern region of North Carolina. “Piedmont will continue partnering with organizations such as the Johnston Health Foundation to support the health and well-being of our communities.”

The Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation was formed in 2004 to support nonprofit organizations in communities throughout its service territory. Since its beginning, the foundation has invested more than $8 million in the communities it serves.

                                    

Candlelight Vigil Held For Teens Killed By Train
A candlelight vigil was held Thursday night in front of Smithfield Selma High School for two students who died tragically.

Family, friends, classmates, and members of the community attended the vigil to remember the lives of 17 year-old Robert Jeffrey Naughton and 18 year-old Alan Morey Peedin, both of Selma.

On January 22nd, both young men were struck and killed by an Amtrak train near the intersection of Shelter Way and North Brightleaf Boulevard in Smithfield.

The two sophomores were best friends and reports indicate they sometimes walked along the tracks to and from school.

Smithfield Police are continuing to investigate how the accident occurred.  Photo courtesy John Payne
             

West Johnston High Yearbook Selected As A National Sample

Standing together and holding the 2014 West Johnston High School yearbook (from left) are Prowler Photo Editor Kendall Holland, Editor-in-Chief Madison Covey, and Features Editor Suki Pannu.

West Johnston High School yearbook editors Madison Covey, Kendall Holland, and Suki Pannu and their yearbook staff recently learned that the 2015 Prowler has been selected as a national sample by Balfour yearbooks. 

The company selects only two percent of all yearbooks nationwide. Sample yearbooks are used as journalism resources in workshops across the country and by Balfour yearbook representatives in their selling efforts.

According to WJHS Photography Editor Kendall Holland, the staff works extremely hard to make every page special, and she admits that she gets super nit-picky about every photograph that goes into the book.

“It's a lot of extra pressure to make things perfect,” said Holland.

For the past two years the Prowler yearbook was presented with the “Honor Distinction” by the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association. This summer the staff decided to take the yearbook a step further, and the hard work seems to have paid off.

“This is the best book West Johnston has ever produced,” said adviser Jeanette Neyman. “Though I must admit I was pleasantly surprised when we found out about being chosen as a national sample.”

According to Neyman, the yearbook is entirely student produced and student-run, so it is a huge achievement that is earned through many extra hours outside of the classroom.


Semi Wrecks On Highway 70
An Iredell County truck driver escaped injury Thursday when the tractor trailer he was driving ran off Highway 70 near Holts Pond outside of Princeton.

Troopers said Rhonda Dean Parsons, 67, of Harmony, NC was headed westbound in an ACE Transport truck around 3:49pm when he ran off the roadway to the right in a slight curve and came to rest off the roadway.

Parsons was not injured and was not cited by the Highway Patrol.

Damage to the 1999 Freightliner he was operating was estimated at $6,000.

The accident caused delays for westbound drivers while the truck was being pulled out of the ditch by a large wrecker. WTSB Radio


Break-Ins Reported At Two Churches

Local law enforcement officers are investigating two Johnston County church break-ins.

Around 11:30pm Thursday, two suspects broke into Clyde’s Chapel Baptist Church, located at 16657 Buffalo Road, Wendell, in northern Johnston County. 

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office says it appears the suspects broke into a door but were startled when a security alarm activated.  No items were taken but the door sustained about $500 in damage.

On Jan. 23rd, Smithfield Police were called to St. Peters Church of Christ at 1101 S. Massey Street. Police said someone gained entry through a window, damaged two interior doors, and removed a TV set valued at $300. 

Investigators don’t have any evidence the two break-ins are connected.  

                                      
600 Eggs Stolen From Chicken House
Johnston County deputies are investigating an usual theft.

On Wednesday, someone reportedly stole 600 eggs from a chicken house located in the 8600 block of Harper House Road in the Bentonville community.

Jackson Godwin reported the larceny to authorities on Thursday.

Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland said there are currently no suspects in the case, but it does remain under investigation.

The eggs were valued at $300.


Teen Accused Of Filing False Police Report

A local teen was arrested Thursday for allegedly lying to deputies.

Justin Ray Baker, 16, of Stone Creek Road, Four Oaks was charged with filing a false report.

Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland told WTSB News on Friday Baker reported he had witnessed another individual being shot.  The alleged shooting occurred sometime in the past, Strickland said.

However, authorities determined the incident never occurred, Strickland said.

Baker was given a $5,000 bond on the misdemeanor charge.    

 

Student Arrested For Teacher Peeping
A Johnston County teenager is facing felony charges after allegedly snapping a lurid photo of his teacher.

According to Johnston County Sheriff’s spokesperson Tammy Amaon, 16-year-old Justin Ferrell of the 50 block of Mack Lane, Angier, was arrested Monday and charged with felony secret peeping.

The charge stems from an incident that occurred Nov. 21, where the West Johnston High School student reportedly used his cell phone to take a picture underneath a teacher’s skirt.

The teacher was unaware a photo had been taken, Amaon said, but after Mr. Ferrell allegedly sent the photo to a friend, she was alerted to the incident.

Ferrell was taken to the Johnston County Jail and placed under a $5,000 bond.

Johnston County Schools public information officer Tracey Peedin Jones declined to comment when asked if Mr. Ferrell could face potential school discipline, citing confidential student records. Courtesy The Daily Record


Meth Lab Found Near Four Oaks
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office discovered a meth lab near Four Oaks Wednesday night.

Sheriff’s narcotics agents executed a search warrant at a home on Charlie Road and discovered a methamphetamine lab and methamphetamine.

Jamie Neil Parker, 37, of Charlie Road, Four Oaks was arrested. Parker is charged with manufacturing meth, maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance, and possess-distribute meth precursors.

Parker was confined in the Johnston County Jail under a $100,000 bond.

The Blackman’s Crossroads Fire Department and Four Oaks EMS responded to the scene to assist sheriff’s investigators. 

         

 

JCSO: Selma Woman Caught With Second Meth Lab
A woman on probation after being caught with a meth lab in a barn last October has been re-arrested after another meth lab was found in her possession on Wednesday, authorities said.

Danielle Lea Medlin, 30, was reportedly caught with another methamphetamine lab in her possession Wednesday afternoon at a location in the 2600 block of Bizzell Grove Church Road, outside of Selma.

Last year, Medlin was living in a barn when agents said they found evidence she had been making meth for an extended period of time.

Medlin is currently on probation for 18 months after entering Alford pleas to two felony counts of meth possession.

Probation officers, assisted by sheriff’s deputies, were checking on Medlin Wednesday when the latest meth lab was found, according to Johnston County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tammy Amaon.

Medlin is back in jail under a $225,000 bond. 

Man Arrested Twice In 10 Days For DWI
What are the odds of a person being arrested for DWI in the driveway of their own home?  How about if that happened twice?

That has happened to a local man, according to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

Around 7:30pm Wednesday, a sheriff’s deputy noticed a vehicle weaving while traveling on Lake Wendell Road. The officer stopped the vehicle as the driver pulled into his own driveway.

James David White Jr., 51, of Lake Wendell Road, Wendell reportedly told officers he had been at a friends and had consumed 4 to 5 beers, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

White refused a breathalyzer test. 

On January 19, the same deputy was on patrol on Lake Wendell Road and was nearly struck by a vehicle allegedly driven by White. The deputy caught up with White, activated his blue lights, and White reportedly came to a stop in his driveway. 

White allegedly admitted to drinking beer before driving that night. He also refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. That DWI charge is still pending.

Wednesday night, White was charged with his second DWI offense in 10 days. He was also cited for driving on a revoked license. Bail was set at $5,000.

  
Vehicle Catches Fire After Hitting Object On US70

It’s wasn’t snow in the parking lot of the Clayton ABC Store Thursday morning.  However, drivers traveling on US70 through Clayton saw some something resembling snow in the parking lot.

Clayton Fire officials said it was foam left behind they had used to extinguish a stubborn vehicle fire around 6:45am.

A motorist was traveling on US70 and said they struck an unknown object in the roadway. Moments later they realized they also had a flat tire. After pulling into the parking lot of the ABC Store, they saw where their car was on fire.

Clayton firefighters said the fuel tank on the car had ruptured and gasoline was fueling the fire.

Crews had to use foam to fully extinguish the fire.  No injuries were reported. Contributed photo 


Sampson County Man Identified As Pedestrian Killed In Accident
The Highway Patrol has identified a pedestrian struck and killed by an SUV in Wake County.

On December 26, the victim was struck by a vehicle while standing in the roadway on Highway 96.  Troopers attempted to track down his next of kin but were unable to do so.

After several media outlets published the man’s photo this week, someone came forward and identified the pedestrian as 55 year-old Mateo Martinez Rodriguez of Happy Trails Lane, Newton Grove, in Sampson County.

Relatives of Rodriguez were located in Texas and notified about his death.

  
Man Facing Weapons Charges
A 42 year-old man is facing several charges after reportedly being caught with two loaded guns and 5 knives outside a Smithfield restaurant.

Smithfield Police received a call around 11:03pm Monday at Applebee’s on North Brightleaf Boulevard. Police allege the man, Bobby Clay Thorne of Highway 231, Wendell, had been inside drinking and as he left an employee noticed a concealed handgun under his coat.

Police said Thorne was already asleep in his truck parked outside when they arrived.  

Lt. R.K. Powell said responding officers found a loaded 12 gauge shotgun, a loaded 22 caliber handgun, and five throwing knives. 

Thorne was charged with three concealed weapon violations.  He was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $12,000 bond.

Police said there was no evidence Thorne was attempting to cause harm at the business, but he did violate the law by having the weapons illegally concealed. Lt. Powell also said Thorne did not have a concealed carry permit.    


Tax Service Owner Sentenced For Tax Fraud
A Rocky Mount tax service owner has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

Tina Luretha Tyree Johnson, 46, of Rocky Mount filed two false federal income tax return claims with the IRS in 2008 for individuals totaling $40,867.

The actual loss totaled over $400,000 and $1 million in intended loss to the IRS, prosecutors said in a press release.

US Attorney Thomas G. Walker said, “Our tax system relies on the honesty of tax payers with a heightened duty of honesty expected from professional tax preparers. Whenever someone like Johnson deliberately files false returns, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in support of the IRS will pursue the matter through the Courts as provided by our laws.”

Thomas J. Holloman, III, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation said the sentence is a clear message to unscrupulous tax return preparers, like Johson, that with criminal activity and greed comes severe consequence. “I would encourage citizens to avoid being taken advantage of by seeking out credentialed, reputable tax preparers during the current filing season.”


Wayne County Man Sentenced For Drug Distribution, Firearm Charge
A 30 year-old Goldsboro man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison following by 10 years of probation.

Philly Hardy was named in a seven count criminal indictment in February 2014.

Last July, Hardy pled guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin, and possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking offense.

In July 2013, agents simultaneously executed search warrants at Hardy’s apartment and the home he shared with his grandparents, both in Goldsboro. 

Several firearms were located along with a 50-round drum magazine pistol, ammunition, 69 bundles (27.7 grams) of heroin, and $13,686 in cash.

Investigators allege Hardy possessed and distributed more than 33 kilograms of heroin between 2007 and 2014.  He later issued a written statement where he acknowledged his involvement and expressed remorse for the harm his actions had caused to himself, his community, and his family.

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Drug Enforcement Administration with the case.

 
New Study: EPA Rules Will Cost NC Tens of Thousands of Jobs
Obama Administration Regs Will Also Boost Energy Bills

Raleigh – New rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposing unprecedented restrictions on electric power plants will drive up energy bills and cost North Carolina tens of thousands of jobs, according to a study conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University and released by the Civitas Institute.

“These new rules forced upon the states by the Obama administration will unleash significant harm on the people of North Carolina,” said Civitas Institute President Francis De Luca. “Energy bills will rise dramatically and our economy will lose tens of thousands of jobs. These new rules will especially harm low-income households.”

A policy brief for the study analyzing the impacts on NC can be read here, and a more detailed analysis and explanation of the study’s methodology can be read here.

The study concludes that North Carolina will experience higher electricity costs and greater effects on energy reliability than most states due to its higher portion of electricity production coming from coal-fired power plants, which are especially targeted by the EPA.

The impact on North Carolina’s economy will be significant. The study found that: EPA rules will cost the North Carolina economy a total of $1.7 billion between 2015 and 2030; the state’s economy will lose 32,120 jobs by 2030, and real disposable income would fall by $3.5 billion per year by 2030.

Electricity bills for residential ratepayers will increase by about $355 per year by 2030, and for industrial ratepayers by nearly $52,000 per year.

“North Carolina has always enjoyed lower than average electricity rates and a reliable grid. But with the combination of EPA regulations and the state’s renewable portfolio mandates, the Old North State will see a transition to higher costs and less reliable energy production,” De Luca said.

The Civitas Institute – “North Carolina’s Conservative Voice” – is a policy institute based in Raleigh, N.C. More information is available at www.nccivitas.org, or contact Jim Tynen at (919) 834-2099.


Wilson’s Mills Police Offering Child Car Seat Installation
The Wilson’s Mills Police Department will be offering free child car seat installation and safety inspections.   The service offered at the Wilson’s Mills Police Department, located at 100 Railroad Street in Wilson’s Mills from 6am to 6pm on January 31st, February 1st, 14th, 15th, 27th, 28th and March 1st.  

Officer J. Graham is a certified child car seat technician and will be available to install or inspect child safety seats.  “This was Officer Graham’s idea.” Chief Hess added, “We are fortunate to have a staff of dedicated officers like him who want to make a difference in the community.”

Parents who are interested in having their child safety seat installed or inspected may schedule in advanced by contacting Chief David Hess at 919 938 4448 ext. 24.  They may also contact Officer Graham on the listed dates by contacting the Johnston County 911 Center, non-emergency number at 919 934 9411.

Chief Hess said, “Proper installation of your child’s car seat is very important.  An improperly installed car seat or a car seat not designed for your child’s age can cause serious injury or death.  This service is a great way for our department to help our community.”   Parents may visit the National Highway Safety Administration website for more information. 
      

 

Clayton Murder Suspect Captured In Fayetteville
One month to the day after 17 year-old Cortaz Quemel Lucas Jr. allegedly gunned down a man in Clayton, the teenager was apprehended during a traffic stop early Wednesday in Cumberland County.

Lucas had been on the run since Dec. 28th when Clayton Police said he shot and killed Robert Lee Horton in the Alta Mobile Home Park following what police described as a domestic disturbance. Horton was the boyfriend of Lucas’ mother.

Clayton Police along with the help of the SBI and FBI had gathered information Lucas was in the Fayetteville area. Working with the Fayetteville Police Gun and Gang Violence Unit and the Fayetteville Police Emergency Response Team, officers were able to stop a car and locate the teen hiding in the passenger floorboard of the vehicle.

Lucas was transported to the Johnston County Jail where he was held without bond on a first-degree murder charge. He is also charged with probation violation stemming from 2014 charges of trespassing and assault. 

Authorities had been searching as far away as New York and Pennsylvania for Lucas. Police said he may have had ties to gang activity but the shooting was not gang related.  


Benson Protest Signs Taken Down
Two controversial signs encouraging a boycott of town hall in Benson have disappeared. They were taken down after the town notified the property owner the signs were in violation of a town ordinance.

The signs encouraged people in town to boycott Benson area businesses and to stay away from town hall because of alleged wrongdoings. They also encouraged citizens to boycott the business of Benson Commissioner Will Chandler. Chandler owns Glam-O-Rama cleaners in Dunn.

He said he is glad to see the signs come down.

“There was absolutely no reason for these signs to go up in the first place, and I am glad they came down,” he said.

Mr. Chandler said he was told the signs came down last Tuesday night.

He said he does not know who put them up, or who took them down.

The annual Benson Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet was held Thursday night, meaning visitors coming to town for the banquet didn’t see the display of signs.

“I was glad the signs weren’t up when we had the banquet,” Mr. Chandler said.

The signs also asked citizens to boycott the business of Benson Town Attorney Issac Parker who has a private practice in town and also offers legal counsel to the town board.

The signs promised more signs would be erected at the site but the additional signs never appeared.

The signs were put up on land owned by Jim Gordon, who is the owner of Country Construction. Mr. Gordon said he has no knowledge of who put up the signs. He said the signs were put up by a group in the community who was upset with a situation at town hall.

Country Construction has done construction work for the town on water system projects in the past.

Town manager Matt Zapp is glad the signs are gone.

“We’re appreciative that the signs have been removed,” Mr. Zapp said. “We had notified the property owner of the fact that the signs were non-compliant with town ordinances and he had failed to pull a permit.”

Calls to Mr. Gordon’s office were not returned as of press time. Courtesy The Daily Record


Two Injured In Crash In Front Of SSS High

A three-car accident Tuesday afternoon sent two people to the hospital.

The crash happened in front of Smithfield Selma High School just after 4:00pm.

Smithfield Police said a Honda driven by Gomez Emisela Gomez, 39, of Woodland Street, Selma was headed west on Booker Dairy Road and was attempting to make a left turn into the driveway of the school.

However, Gomez turned into the path of an eastbound Ford SUV driven by Julie Anna Ventura, 31, of S. Sussex Drive, Smithfield.  After the impact Ventura’s SUV ran off the road and Gomez Honda was spun around into the westbound lanes and collided with a Dodge driven by Monsharee Willette Love, 26, of Ash Street, Smithfield.

According to a police report, an unknown person had stopped in the turn lane in front of the school and had given Gomez a hand signal to turn in front of him into the driveway but Gomez still failed to see the approaching SUV.     

Gomez and Love were taken to Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Gomez was cited by Officer J.B. Sittig with an unsafe movement violation. Photo courtesy John Payne

          
Johnston Schools, American Heart Association Partnership Raises $161,916

Michelle Gray (left), American Heart Association Youth Market Director, recognizes Cleveland Middle and Four Oaks Elementary as AHA top contributors. Beside her (from left) are Cleveland Middle’s Kendrick Byrd and Four Oaks Elementary’s Nickie Lee, David Pearce, and Becky Shearer.

Johnston County Schools were honored for its fundraising efforts for the American Heart Association after raising nearly $162,000 for the organization.

Michelle Gray, American Heart Association Youth Market Director, recognized the continued support of the school system at a recent Johnston County Board of Education meeting.

Johnston County Schools (JCS) is a proud partner with the American Heart Association and one of the top 10 supporters in the state. Each year, elementary and middle schools throughout the county participate in fundraising events such as “Jump Rope for Heart” and “Hoops for Heart.” During these activities, students build awareness of healthy heart habits in an effort to improve the quality of life within our communities. 

This year JCS elementary and middle schools raised a combined $161,916.84, which is approximately a 20 percent increase from last year’s total.

The top elementary and middle schools, Four Oaks Elementary and Cleveland Middle, were also recognized for their contributions. Four Oaks Elementary had the highest total for elementary schools with $19,780.40, and Cleveland Middle had the highest total for middle schools with $6,345.60.

Cleveland Middle Principal Kendrick Byrd accepted the honor on behalf of his school. Four Oaks Elementary Principal David Pearce, along with Nickie Lee and Becky Shearer, accepted the honor on behalf of their school.

                 
Wilson’s Mills Elementary Spelling Bee Champion Crowned     

Araceli Carrasco-Cruz (center) is the winner of the Wilson’s Mills Elementary Spelling Bee. On the left is second place finisher Matthew Hall, and on the right is third place finisher Erick Peralta-Mejia.

Thirty students in grades four and five competed in the Wilson’s Mills Elementary Spelling Bee on Jan. 22nd.  

Parents and classmates cheered each of them on as they spelled their way through an array of challenging words.  Some of these words included “fatigue,” “antibiotic,” and “mirage.”  

“We are extremely proud of all the participants,” said Principal Jamie Stoke.

First place went to Araceli Carrasco-Cruz from Patsy Elrod’s fifth grade homeroom. The winning word spelled by Araceli was “amnesia.”

Second place went to Matthew Hall from Stephanie Caviness’ fifth grade homeroom. Third place went to Erick Peralta-Mejia from Carmen Young’s fifth grade homeroom.

Araceli will represent Wilson’s Mills Elementary at the Johnston County Schools’ Junior Spelling Bee.

 

JCSO: Meth Found In Clayton Home 
Two Clayton residents were arrested Tuesday after they were reportedly caught with methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in their possession.

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) was asked to assist probation and parole officers with the search of a home on Hobbs Street in Clayton.

During the search, the illegal contraband was reportedly found.

Austin Tyler Dean, 19, and Kelsey Leigh Coats, 26, both of Hobbs Street, Clayton were arrested.  Dean was given an $80,000 bond. Coats was held under a $15,000 bond.  

Benson Man Accused Of Forging Checks
A Benson man was arrested Tuesday for cashing or attempting to cash five forged checks worth $1,855.

All the incident happened at McLamb’s LP Gas and Supply Company on Highway 242 South of Benson since Jan. 20th.

A company official called Johnston County deputies to respond to the scene to report the incident. While the deputy was on the scene, the suspect, Raymond Joseph Earp, 45, of Beasley Road, Benson returned and was arrested.

Earp is facing 14 felony charges ranging from obtaining property by false pretenses, forgery, and uttering a forged

 

Man Who Threatened To Kill Police Sentenced To Federal Prison
A Johnston County man has been sentenced to 6 years in federal prison.

Richard Kirk Maynor, 42, of N. Sussex Drive, Smithfield was sentenced on Jan. 21st by Judge Terrence W. Boyle in U.S. Federal Court in Raleigh.

Maynor was found guilty on a federal charge of possession of a stolen firearm and ammunition.  He was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release with conditions.

On March 16, 2014, Smithfield Police responded to a domestic disturbance involved Maynor and a 51 year-old woman.  While patting Maynor down, police said a stolen 357 handgun fell out of his pants. 

Police Lt. R.K. Powell said while officers were preparing to transport Maynor to jail, he allegedly threatened to kill the officers and their families.

Because of those threats, and because Maynor was in the possession of a stolen firearm, Smithfield Police asked federal authorities to adopt the case.


Benson-Area Burglary Suspect Captured Following Manhunt

The man accused of breaking into three locations in southern Johnston County on Monday may have gotten away with it if he hadn’t have parked in the middle of the roadway.

Just before 11am, a Johnston County sheriff’s deputy was on routine patrol on Wood’s Crossroads Road, in the Meadow community outside of Benson, and spotted an unoccupied car in the roadway.  The deputy went to a home just yards away from the vehicle and discovered a burglary in progress.

The suspect fled on foot. Additional officers surrounded the area and about two hours later, 21 year-old Xavier Deandre Lemon of Coats, NC was spotted.

Deputies said Lemon had broken into a turkey house. Lemon reportedly refused to come out and was bitten by a law enforcement K-9 during his apprehension.

Lemon was also linked to a break-in a short time earlier on Drag Strip Road.

After being treated at Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield for a dog bite, Lemon was taken to the Johnston County Jail.

Among the charges he faces include three counts of breaking and entering, two counts of larceny of a firearm, two counts of larceny, one count of possession of stolen property, and one count of resisting arrest.

He was given a $280,000 bond on the charges.

According to the NC Department of Corrections website, Lemon was released from prison in September 2014 after serving a brief prison term for a break-in in Harnett County. Scene photo by John Payne
   

Benson Chamber Banquet Awards Winners

Outgoing Benson Chamber President Bryan Parker, right, and 2015 Chamber President William Neighbors, left, at the 66th Annual Benson Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet, held this year at the Benson American Legion. Courtesy The Daily Record


The Benson Area Chamber of Commerce handed out awards to its top citizens and businesses during its annual awards banquet, held at the American Legion Thursday night.

The recipients included 2014 Citizen of the Year Kay Wood.

Small Business Person was Jenny Campbell with Jenny’s Sweet Creations.

Business of the Year winner was Benson Area Medical Center, a community-owned nonprofit, offering primary health care services to area residents.

Business Family of the Year was awarded to the Norman Dunn Family with West & Dunn Funeral Homes.

Board of Director’s Award winners were Max Johnson and local photographer Ken Tart.

Outstanding Youth winner was South Johnston High School student and Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen Karson Fair.

Educator of the Year winner was Christina Shatto, teacher at McGee’s Crossroads Elementary.

Humanitarian Award winner went to Ricky Ennis, owner Stainless Steel Specialties in Garner.

Arts Award winner was presented to Marilyn Brickmeier with Alicia’s School of Dance.

Other awards included Ambassador of the Year Dianne McLamb, Outstanding Senior Citizen Bob Johnson, Outstanding Woman and Volunteer award winner Betty Jo Young, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Sgt. William Brown and Firefighter of the Year Kent Stephenson.



Rouzer To Have Full-Time District Office In Smithfield


Congressman David Rouzer (far right) spoke Monday at the Johnston County Agricultural Center in Smithfield.

US Congressman David Rouzer (NC-07) was in Smithfield on Monday discussing services his office will provide to constituents and also outlining his plans for Congress over the next two years.

Rouzer spoke to citizens, politicians, and the media while at the Johnston County Agricultural Center in Smithfield, where one of his primary district offices would be located.

“I am very proud to have our office here at the Agricultural Center as one of our primary district offices,” Rouzer said.  “I would like to thank the Johnston County Commissioners and the other agencies housed at the Agricultural Center for their willingness to work with, and accommodate, us at this fine facility. 

"I would also like to thank all the elected officials who were able to join us today. I look forward to working with each of them as we work to address the needs of the district and our local communities.

"This office is here so that we can be accessible to the citizens of Johnston County.  We will also have local office hours at the Clayton Town Hall and the Benson Town Hall. 

"We are committed to providing the best constituent services possible.  If you have a problem, it means that we have a problem.  We will bend over backwards to help anyone who has a legitimate need."

Rouzer’s office at the Agricultural Center on NC210 near Smithfield will be staffed full-time from 8:30am-5:30pm Monday-Friday.

Rouzer’s staff will also be at the Clayton Town Hall the second Wednesday of each month from 9:00am-11:00am, and at the Benson Town Hall the second Wednesday of each month from 1:00pm-3:00pm.

Other district office hours will be held monthly in Elizabethtown, Whiteville, Stedman, Kenansville, Raeford, Pink Hill, Surf City, and Clinton.


Two Injured In US70 Crash Near Princeton
The Highway Patrol has filed charges in connection with a violent two-vehicle accident Saturday afternoon.

The crash happened at 2:48pm on US70 at US70-A just west of Princeton.

Troopers said Mary Holloway Cox of Old Batten Road, Selma pulled her 2009 Nissan SUV into the path of a 2004 BMW driven by Evan Henry Craig of Cherry Point, NC. 

Cox and a passenger, Vernon Gray Cox, were transported by ambulance to Wake Medical Center in Raleigh for treatment of their injuries. Craig was not injured.

Damage to the SUV was placed at $8,000 and damage to the BMW at $6,000.

Cox was cited by Trooper T.L. Garner with failure to yield.  Trooper Garner estimated Craig was traveling at 55mph in a 55mph zone when his car struck the side of Cox’s SUV which was traveling at 10mph.  Photo courtesy John Payne
  

Commissioners, School Board To Hold Joint Meeting
Johnston County Commissioners and the Johnston County Board of Education will hold a rare joint session in February.

The two boards will sit down for a special called meeting on Monday, February 9th at 6:00pm at the A.G. Glenn Building in Smithfield.

The meeting will allow both boards to receive an update on the growth patterns in the County and how it will impact the school systems needs to accommodate the increase in student population.

The meeting is open to the public.   


Woman Seeking Money For Sick Relative Charged With Theft
A Benson woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing a credit card from a Smithfield home then using it at a Princeton gas station.

Johnston County deputies allege April Danielle Norris, 41, of Highway 301 South, went to a home on Bonnie Avenue, Smithfield in the Brogden community on Jan. 21st.

Norris reportedly told the homeowner she needed money to help a relative who was in the hospital. 

The person declined to give Norris any money, however, she reportedly stole the victim’s wallet while they were not looking. 

Norris was charged with misdemeanor larceny. Detective Lt. M. Carson did not rule out additional charges in the case.

Lt. Carson said the suspect’s story about a relative being in the hospital and in need of money was not verified.

Norris was given a $5,000 bond on Monday. She was released from custody after a bondsman posted her bail.          


Rash Of Car Break-Ins Reported In Wayne County
Wayne County authorities are asking drivers to keep their cars locked following a drastic increase in the number of car break-ins.

Over the last several weeks, car break-ins have been reported throughout the county. The majority have occurred after dark and the majority of the vehicles were left unlocked.

Sheriff Larry Pierce said the thieves are looking for easy targets. “ Probably 99% of these break-ins are in unlocked vehicles. It is a shame that you cannot leave your vehicle unlocked in your own yard but that is reality in today’s time. Please lock your doors, no matter where you park.”

“I understand that some people think that if they lock the doors and someone wants to break-in they will just break out the glass. That does happen but most of the time the thief does not want to make any more noise than they have to when committing their crime, especially in residential areas, where more people are around to hear the noise,” Sheriff Pierce said.

Pierce said it’s important to keep valuables in your car out of sight, and if possible take them inside with you when you leave your car unattended. 


South Smithfield Kindergartners Learn Computer Programming

South Smithfield’s Jane Embler (left) leads kindergarten students (from left) Tanner Broughton, Brayden Parr, Will Denning, Wallbel Diaz, and Michael Davis through a computer coding activity .


Kindergartners at South Smithfield Elementary recently learned a few computer-programming skills.
                                                           
Several kindergarten students worked collaboratively to develop their problem solving skills in order to program a portion of the popular “Angry Bird” game.  Using Smartboard technology students used what they learned about programming to help Angry Bird navigate an elaborate maze to find the pesky pig.
                                                                             
Cheering could be heard throughout the kindergarten hall when the students’ program worked, and the Angry Bird got the pig.  By the end of the week, students were able to program the Angry Bird on their own.

 

Three-Pointer With Only 3 Players Propels Neuse Charter To Victory

Neuse Charter School's #3 Lacey Jones makes a 3-pointer with only 7 seconds remaining and with only 3 players on the court to defeat North Duplin 51-50. YouTube Video


Everyone is talking about the shot made by Neuse Charter School’s Lacey Jones to defeat North Duplin.

Jones, a freshman at Neuse Charter, made a three point shot with just 7 seconds left to go in the basketball game Friday night to win 51-50.

What makes the long basketball goal all the more amazing is that Neuse Charter only had three players on the court.

Due to injuries and players fouling out of the game, there were only three players eligible by the end of the game, while North Duplin had five players.
 
With the win, the Neuse Charter girls basketball team moves to 6 wins and 10 losses for the season.

Fire Destroys Mobile Home
A family lost all of their belongings after a mobile home they were renting went up in flames Saturday night.

The fire broke out in the Upchurch Mobile Home Park on Boyette Road in Four Oaks.

Three adults were staying in the home and were using the stove to heat the home.  The occupants left home only to return to find the mobile home on fire.

Crews from the Four Oaks, Elevation and Smithfield Fire Departments responded to the scene. Four Oaks EMS and the Four Oaks Police Department also responded.

The Red Cross is assisting the three individuals displaced by the fire.

The blaze was ruled accidental.  Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com


4 Arrested On Felony Drug Charges

A woman who called 911 over-the-weekend saying she was being held hostage in a Johnston County home ended up being arrested along with three others in the residence.

Johnston County deputies responded to an address on Greenleaf Road, Angier around 10:20am Saturday after a woman, identified as Jessica Ann Meadows, 22, of Grovewood Drive, Clayton called 911 saying she was being held against her will.

Officers knocked on the door, received permission to search the home, and once inside they said Meadows ran out the door and jumped in a vehicle parked outside.

Deputies said they questioned three men present at the home but all reportedly denied any knowledge about the woman’s allegations.

However, officers did located marijuana, methamphetamines, meth-making components including two boxes of pseudophedrine, and drug paraphernalia inside the singlewide mobile home.      

(Top left to right) Meadows, along with Brandon Dean Milligan, 25, of Greenleaf Road, Angier, Brian Anthony Matthews, 24, of Winston Road, Clayton, Aaron Alexander Howell, 22, of Old US421, Lillington, were charged with several felony drug violations. 

Milligan, Matthews and Howell were given $501,000 bonds each. Meadows was given a $51,000 bond.

Sheriff’s office spokesperson Tammy Amaon said detectives are still investigating the incident.   


Selma Planning Lawsuit To Condemn Home

The Town of Selma has moved to condemn and tear down a home that has been in poor condition since 2009.

The property is located at 905 West Walnut Street and owned by Sandra Lemon. 

Lemon appeared at the December 2014 council meeting asking for additional time to repair the home.  Lemon did obtain a construction permit to make repairs and was told to return to the January meeting to give the board an update.

However, Lemon failed to attend the Jan. 15th meeting and Planning Director Julie Maybee told the council some grass and brush had been cut on the property but no structural repairs had been made.

There is no water or sewer service connected to the property, which has broken windows, a major roof leak, weak floors, and a swimming pool filled with trash and trees. 

After Lemon failed to make any adequate progress on the repairs, and also failed to attend the meeting, the council voted unanimously to allow Town Attorney Chip Hewett to proceed with a condemnation lawsuit, which if successful, will allow the dilapidated structure to be torn down.

Hewett said the home does have a lien and the lienholder will have to be named in the pending lawsuit.


Forest Service Finds Laurel Wilt In Duplin County
Homeowners encouraged to dispose of dead trees on site

The NC Forest Service has confirmed that laurel wilt, a devastating fungal disease of redbay and other plants in the laurel family, has been identified in Duplin County in an area near Rose Hill.

The disease has been identified across the Southeast in portions of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. In North Carolina, it was first discovered in Bladen, Columbus, Pender and Sampson counties in 2011. Additional identifications were made in Brunswick County in 2012 and New Hanover County in 2013.

In North Carolina, sassafras, pondberry, pondspice, swampbay and spicebush also fall in the laurel family and could be affected by this disease.

Laurel wilt, first discovered in the United States in Georgia in 2002,  is introduced into trees by the non-native redbay ambrosia beetle. It is believed the pest can travel about 20 miles per year naturally, but can spread more quickly when transported in wood, such as firewood.
                                                       
Symptoms of laurel wilt include drooping reddish or purplish foliage. Evidence of redbay ambrosia beetle attack may be found in the main stem; often strings of chewed wood, called frass toothpicks, can be seen sticking out of entry holes. Removal of tree bark reveals black streaking in the outer wood.

Homeowners with dead redbay trees are encouraged to keep cut trees on their property. Dead trees should not be removed to a landfill or off site. Proper disposal of redbay includes leaving wood on site, cutting or chipping wood on site, or burning wood on site in compliance with local and state ordinances.

In areas where burning is allowed, a permit can be obtained from the NC Forest Service through a local burn permit agent, a county ranger’s office, or online at http://ncforestservice.gov/. Click on “Burning Permits” under the Quick Links section.

About laurel wilt
Female redbay ambrosia beetles bore into trees, carrying a fungus with them. Once the beetle is inside the tree, she makes tunnels and lays eggs. Fungal spores begin to grow in these tunnels, blocking the movement of water from the tree roots and causing the tree to wilt and eventually die from lack of water. This fungus is fast-acting; trees typically die within a month of infection. Beetles do not feed on the wood of the tree; rather, they feed upon the fungus “farm” they created. Photo courtesy NC Forest Service


JCS Approve Early/Middle College Schedule
By Laura Crosio

The 2015-2016 academic calendar was approved by the Johnston County Board of Education on Jan. 13 for students attending the Middle College High School and Early College Academy. Classes are held at Johnston Community College.

Since students take both high school and community college courses, these two schools have been granted a waiver to schedule classes to begin and end at times different than required by law to better align their calendars.

Classes at the Early College Academy and Middle College High School will begin on Monday, Aug. 3. The year will end on May, 20, 2016.

 

Woman Accused Of Damaging ATM Machine
A video surveillance camera and an ATM card helped authorities quickly identify a woman who allegedly vandalized an ATM machine Sunday.

Denise Dyane Henderson, 47, of Eddy Court, Benson reportedly went to a State Employees Credit Union ATM machine on Highway 210 near I-40. Authorities said the machine kept Henderson’s card.

That’s when she allegedly vandalized the machine apparently in an attempt to retrieve her card. 

Henderson was charged with damage to property and given a $1,000 bond. A second arrest is pending, officials said.

 

DA: Police Justified In Using Taser On Suspect Who Later Died          
District Attorney Susan Doyle announced Friday that Smithfield police officers who tasered and subdued a suspect who later died, were justified in their use of force and will not face any charges.

On July 23, 2014, Smithfield Police responded to McDonald’s in West Smithfield and encountered Rondrickquiz Williams, who was holding a cane and acting violently and erratically. 

Police ordered Williams to drop his cane but instead he grabbed a female bystander and attempted to use her as a human shield.  Williams eventually pushed her away, ran, grabbed an elderly man and threw him to the ground.  Williams then began assaulting the officer who was trying to take him into custody.

Additional officers arrived and deployed a taser several times with little to no effect, the District Attorney’s report said.  During the struggle, Williams shouted that he was God and the devil and he was going to die. Eventually he was detained and transported to the hospital by an EMS crew.

Williams died 13 days later, on August 5, at Wake Medical Center.

An autopsy performed the following day indicated his death was due to cocaine toxicity and a preexisting condition of an enlarged heart which may have also been a contributing factor.

Doyle stated the autopsy indicated it was unlikely the deployment of the taser contributed to Williams’ death. 

Doyle said under state law, law enforcement officers are allowed to use force in the arrest of a person, and under the circumstances “…their use of force was justified, reasonable and warranted. As a result no criminal charges will be filed related to the incident.”

The names of the officers involved in the incident were not released.

Smithfield Police said at the time of the incident last year, Williams was wanted in Harnett County on several outstanding warrants including breaking and entering, robbery, possession of stolen property, and possession of a firearm by a felon.


Football Filled With Drugs, Alcohol Tossed Into Prison
An inmate at Johnston Correctional Center in Smithfield is facing felony charges for what authorities said he had concealed inside a football.

On December 20, prison guards noticed a vehicle pull up to the facility on US70 and toss a football over the fence. 

The football was found a short time later in the possession of 18 year-old John Edmund Govern of King, NC.

Officials said after opening the football, they found vodka, marijuana, rolling papers, tobacco, and lighters. 

Govern was formally charged Thursday with felony possession of a controlled substance on prison premises and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

According to the NC Department of Corrections website, Govern has been in custody since February 2014 after being convicted in Stokes County for obtaining property by false pretenses. 


Smithfield Woman Killed In I-95 Head-On Collision

A 91 year-old Smithfield woman was killed Thursday at 12:13pm following a head-on collision on Interstate 95 near Selma.

The Highway Patrol says Nellie Green of South Third Street, Smithfield was traveling northbound in the inside southbound lanes of I-95 when her 1995 Buick LeSabre collided head-on with a 1997 Toyota driven by Eve Goldman, 39, of Philadelphia, PA near the 96 mile marker.

Goldsman’s father was in the vehicle in front of his daughter and swerved just in time to avoid being hit but his daughter was not as fortunate.

Trooper J.M. Dorsey said Green had gotten onto I-95 at Exit 95 in Smithfield headed the wrong way.  Several motorists called the Highway Patrol reporting the wrong-way driver, but the crash happened seconds later.

Troopers said Green got out of her vehicle, was walking around the accident, and was talking with emergency personnel at the scene. However, she died while being taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Officers estimated Green was traveling 55mph and Goldman 65mph when the vehicle’s collided.  Green did not apply the brakes prior to the crash. 

Goldman was transported to Johnston Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Selma Police diverted traffic off I-95 onto US70 and US301 until the southbound lanes of I-95 reopened.
                                                
No charges will be filed. Photo by John Payne       

 

South Johnston Principal Heads To D.C. For Input On New Program  

South Johnston High School principal Eddie Price was among a selection of school administrators nationwide to attend a new program in Washington, D.C., this week. Mr. Price, right, was part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Principals at ED. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is at left.
Courtesy The Daily Record

South Johnston High School principal Eddie Price wasn’t in his office Tuesday. No, he wasn’t busy fielding questions from parents or hosting a teacher workday at the school between Benson and Four Oaks — he was 280 miles away in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Price was invited to meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other senior U.S. Department of Education officials this week for a full day of learning and advising, as part of the new Principals at ED effort in the capital.

The goal of Principals at ED is to bring groups of “highly innovative and successful principals from across the country to the Department of Education to learn more about federal programs and to share experiences from their jobs as school leaders,” according to a Johnston County Schools press release.

Throughout the day, Mr. Price, along with other principals from schools across the nation, met with senior staff from across the agency to learn about and give input on a variety of the department’s programs, policies and initiatives. The participants spent time with leaders from the offices of early learning, English language learners, special education and educational technology, among others.

The day culminated with a roundtable discussion with Secretary Duncan and Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle.

The visit was coordinated through the Department’s Principal Ambassador Fellow (PAF) program.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education launched the first PAF program, modeled on the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program, in order to better allow local leaders to both contribute their knowledge and experience to the national dialogue about public education.

The PAF program is one means of recognizing the critical impact that principals have on instruction and student achievement; school climate and improvement; and community and family engagement.