Proposed County Budget Keeps Tax Rate Unchanged
Johnston County Manager Rick Hester released his proposed 2013-14 fiscal year budget on Thursday. The $179 million spending proposal is up less than one percent from the current fiscal year, not factoring in an increase of $3.6 million in debt service. Hester’s plan keeps the property tax rate of 78 cents unchanged.
Highlights of the budget include a total allocation of $50 million for Johnston County Schools, $4 million for Johnston Community College, and funding 24-hour EMS service for residents of northern Johnston County at the Thanksgiving EMS Station.
County employees would see a two percent pay adjustment effective July 1. The Sheriff’s Office would add 8 positions, four in July and four next January. The Health Department would add one staff member, Public Utilities would add a utility maintenance technician, and EMS would add 4 positions to staff the Thanksgiving EMS station.
Under the budget proposal, residential retail water meter fees would increase from $195 to $215 per meter. Residential retail wastewater assessment fees would increase $300 from $2,400 to $2,700. Bulk wastewater treatment costs would go from $2.65 to $2.80 per $1,000 gallons.
Hester said counties continue to be significantly impacted by the state’s decision to withhold lottery proceeds. However, vehicle tax collections are expected to be up next year with collections being handled at the time of vehicle registration renewal.
Property tax revenue this year is expected to be at $94.9 million with $24.7 million in sales tax collections. Next year, the ad valorem rate is projected to be at $95.8 million with $25.8 million in sales tax revenue.
Princeton High Student Admits To Lying, Pleads Guilty To Gun Charge
Cole Withrow, the student at the center of controversy for having a gun in his vehicle at Princeton High School, resulting in his arrest April 29, entered a guilty plea on Thursday.
Withrow, 18, appeared in probable cause court with his attorney, Frank Wood of Selma, and under a plea arrangement with District Attorney Susan Doyle, his felony charge of possession of a weapon on educational property was dropped to a misdemeanor. This will allow Cole to graduate at an alternative school and avoid having a felony on his record.
After the court hearing, Withrow released a statement saying he was not truthful to Principal Kirk Denning and Johnston County Sheriff’s School Resource Officer Adam Davis. The statement said Withrow knew the weapons were in his truck, he regretted not removing the weapons from the vehicle before going to school, and never meant to hurt anyone by his actions.
“I should have stopped the inaccuracies, and I did not. As a result, I think it is imperative that I now take responsibility for my own actions,” Withrow said in the statement. “I would like to apologize to Princeton High School Principal Kirk Denning, Johnston County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom and the Johnston County Board of Education. I recognize now that due to confidentiality laws, these individuals could not publicly respond to the inaccurate information despite the fact that they had evidence that proved my statements wrong. I am grateful that Dr. Croom modified the mandatory suspension to allow me to continue my studies, graduate and receive a diploma from the Johnston County School system. I will not pursue any appeal to the Johnston County Board of Education.”
“I would also like to apologize to the law enforcement, including Deputy Adam Davis, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell and Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle for any stress or negative comments that have been posted because of the inaccurate information received. I understand these individuals were just doing the jobs they are there to do.”
To bolster the prosecution’s case, the weapon seized from Withrow was placed in an identical vehicle he drove to school on April 29 to show there was no way anyone operating the vehicle did not know the weapon was inside.
A hoodie was placed over the shotgun but it only covered the stock of the gun. The barrel from the trigger down remained exposed.
In addition to the photograph from the re-enactment (pictured above) , school surveillance cameras allegedly caught Withrow in at least four different lies. Cole reportedly remained untruthful until being presented with the video evidence.
Chief District Court Judge Andy Corbett told Withrow that based on the facts he heard Thursday, he could easily have been convicted of the felony he was originally charged with.
School Board Chairman Larry Strickland saying in part, “The main concern of the school system, aside from the education of the fine children in Johnston County, is for students and personnel’s safety in school… In the future, we would ask that the media and the public not jump to conclusions in student discipline and or criminal matters, especially when all the facts are not known.”
State’s Unemployment Rate Falls To 8.9 Percent
North Carolina seasonally adjusted April unemployment rate decreased to 8.9 percent from March’s revised rate of 9.2 percent, the NC Department of Commerce announced Friday. The national rate also fell to 7.5% in April from March’s 7.6%.
North Carolina’s April 2013 unemployment rate was 0.5 percent lower than a year ago. The number of people employed decreased 4,188 over the month to 4,303,113, and increased 35,026 over the year. The number of people unemployed fell 15,259 over the month to 419,287, and declined 21,843 over the year.
County unemployment numbers for April will be released on May 29.
Local Players Help Brunswick Advance To National Playoffs
The Brunswick Community College Dolphins beat Lenoir Community College with a score of 9-5 on Monday at Big Rock Stadium in Morehead City to win the Regional Title and secure the team's first appearance at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series.
The Dolphins will travel next week to the NJCAA Division II World Series in Enid, Oklahoma.
Johnston County has several connections to the BCC Dolphins.
Sophomore Jonathan Corbett is the son of Scott and Michelle B. Corbett of Benson. Freshman Catcher T.J. Brown is the son of Tim and Vicki Brown of Wilson's Mills, and head Coach Robbie Allen played baseball at Clemson where Johnston County Manager Rick Hester attended. Both Allen and Hester played on the same Whiteville American Legion team in the late 1970’s.
A webcast of the games will be available at www.davidallenballpark.com. Photo courtesy of Michelle B. Corbett
School Dropout Rate Decreases
The school dropout rate for Johnston County Schools has seen improvement this year.
There were 259 dropouts last year. So far, this year, that number is 176, a decrease of 83 students.
Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Dr. Oliver Johnson (pictured) presented the findings Tuesday at the Johnston County School Board meeting.
As of May 7, the dropout count for Clayton High has decreased from 43 to 37 students, Cleveland High, from 18 to 17 students; Corinth-Holders, from 20 to 9 students; North Johnston, from 27 to 22 students; Princeton High, from 18 to 5 students; Smithfield-Selma High, from 40 to 38 students; South Johnston, from 43 to 26 students and West Johnston from 25 to 21 students.
There has been one dropout this year from the Middle College. None of the middle schools have reported any dropouts.
Dr. Johnson said the school system's "full-court press" to reduce the dropout rate is paying off. He said disciplinary actions and suspensions have also declined.
The school district has multiple options for students who are considering dropping out or who've already dropped out.
Dr. Johnson said these include: Evening Academy, the Alternative Graduation program, the GRADUATE! Program, online learning and credit recovery.
Johnston County Schools strives to ensure that all students graduate from high school, Dr. Johnson said.
Political Signs Can Be Displayed 60 Days in Advance
Political signs in the Town of Selma can now be displayed 60 days in advance of elections.
The amendment change approved Tuesday by the Selma Town Council puts the Town's code in line with Johnston County policy.
"These conflicting regulations have led to confusion in the past, which has resulted in burdensome enforcement activity," Town Manager Richard Douglas said.
The amendment to lengthen the display period is consistent with the Selma Land Use Plan, Douglas said.
County Names May 19-25 As Emergency Medical Services Week
Johnston County Commissioners have designated May 19-25 as Emergency Medical Services Week.
In its resolution, commissioners said it's appropriate to recognize the value and accomplishments of emergency medical services personnel.
Commissioners said these personnel provide lifesaving care 24 hours a day and improve the survival and recovery rates of those experience sudden illness or injury.
Mother Facing Child Abuse Charge
A Smithfield mother was arrested on child abuse charges after police were called to her home on Monday. Smithfield Police Lt. Keith Powell said Jessica Alford Jeffreys, 35, of West Street was arrested for allegedly whipping her two children, ages 13 and 15, with a coaxial cable, causing marks on their arms and legs.
Jeffreys was charged with one count of child abuse. Police Lt. Keith Powell said both juveniles received minor injuries. The Department of Social Services was also notified about the incident.
In an unrelated incident on Tuesday, Jeffreys was arrested for failing to appear in a Wake County courtroom on a driving with a revoked license charge.
Police: DWI Suspect Registers 0.36
A man Smithfield Police said was highly intoxicated after being involved in a minor accident was taken to the hospital for observation before being taken to jail. Officers arrested Jason Scott Biedekapp, 23, of Lazy J Drive, Smithfield Monday night around 9:06pm after he allegedly backed his 2011 GMC into a parked vehicle in a business parking lot on South Equity Drive.
Lt. Keith Powell said Biedekapp registered 0.36 on the Breathalyzer, more than four times higher than the legal limit of 0.08. Due to his high impairment level, Lt. Powell said Biedekapp was taken to Johnston Medical Center before going to jail.
Biedekapp was charged with driving while impaired, hit and run, and failure to carry his drivers license. Bail was set at $2,000 pending a June 24 court appearance.
Selma Council Member Blasts Town Manager
Says Town Hall Isn't Being Run Properly
A Selma Town Council member harshly criticized the Town Manager at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.
The incident which prompted Tommy Holmes’ comments took place on Friday, May 10.
Holmes (left) said he was at the Selma Fire Department when someone approached him.
The man said he’d gone to the Town Hall and couldn’t find anyone who could assist him. He asked Holmes who was in charge.
Holmes said he went to Town Hall to investigate.
When he arrived, Holmes said Town Manager Richard Douglas, Town Clerk Claudia Greenfield, Deputy Clerk Brenda Thorne and Finance Officer Erica Walters were all absent.
Holmes said when he asked a Town staff employee who was in charge, she replied, “That’s what I’d like to know.”
Holmes said he called Mayor Cheryl Oliver and she also went to Town Hall.
Douglas said Greenfield and Thorne were both in training classes at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Walters is on maternity leave, though she continues to work from home and is also available to her staff.
Oliver said there should be a protocol when staff members are absent but that no customer or town business issues were not addressed.
Holmes said he’s heard several citizens’ complaints about going to the Town Hall and not being able to find someone who could assist them.
“We need to get to the bottom of it,” Holmes said. “It’s not fair to the citizens to run such a sloppy Town Hall.”
Douglas countered at the Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting by saying he “took offense” at Holmes’ remarks.
When interviewed Wednesday by WTSB News, Holmes said he wasn’t going to back off because he said he’s telling the truth.
While the Town Manager declined to respond to Holmes' comments, he did issue a statement Wednesday via e-mail to WTSB News.
Douglas said, “Town Hall was open for business and that any resident that needed to pay a utility bill, obtain a building permit, share a concern/question either in person or by telephone, or visit for any other reason was able to do so on Friday, and to my knowledge no concern or issue was left unaddressed.”
Douglas also said, “As always, staff knew how to reach me if needed and I, as well as our Town Clerk, was available by telephone with the exception of two hours Friday morning. In addition, I have full confidence in each of our staff members to carry out their duties in my absence.”
The Town Council has met in closed session twice in the past six months to discuss Douglas' contract, which expires in October.
Council met on April 9th to discuss Douglas' contract but no action was taken.
Last November, during a closed session, the Town Council discussed the Town Manager's job performance.
After the November meeting, Douglas said consensus was reached not to extend his current contract, but rather discuss an extension in April.
At the time, Mayor Oliver described November’s closed session as "staying the course." She said it’s routine to wait until six months before an employee's contract expires before evaluating the situation and that the Town Council is "moving along" as planned.
Holmes said he’s “100 percent against renewing” Douglas’ contract.
“The Town Manager isn’t leading the town and employees like he should,” Holmes said. “It’s time for Selma to go in a different direction, it’s time for us to make a change and move forward.”
Douglas has served as Selma's town manager since October 2008. Before coming to Selma, Douglas served as Raeford city manager from 2004 to 2008. He also served as Long County Administrator in Georgia from 2000 to 2004.
While Mayor Oliver declined comment on Holmes’ allegations, she said Holmes had a right to voice his opinion.
“Tommy’s comments have merit in the sense that if he felt the public’s needs weren't adequately served, he should have commented on it,” Oliver said.
Well Known Rotarian, Businessman David Arnn Dies
Local residents are fondly remembering the life of David Arnn who died Wednesday night in Pennsylvania from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident May 10.
Arnn was active in the local Central Johnston County Rotary Club. He also operated Smithfield Manor Nursing Home on Berkshire Road in Smithfield for a number of years.
At 1:44pm last Friday, Mount Union Pennsylvania Police said Arnn was operating his 2007 Harley Davidson on the Croghan Pike. Arnn, 71, who now lives in Louisburg, lost control on the wet roadway and struck a raised median, throwing him from the motorcycle. Arnn was transported to an area hospital for treatment of his critical injuries. Mount Union Police said Arnn was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash on State Route 522. Photo courtesy Facebook
DSDC Director Defends Criticism By Smithfield Councilman
Smithfield’s Downtown Development Director Chris Johnson is responding to harsh comments made against him and his organization by Council Charles E. Williams during the Smithfield Town Council Meeting on May 7.
Williams made a motion to “sever all ties” with Johnson and his group, claiming Johnson misinformed the East Smithfield community about a grant application. Johnson had worked with Wallace Green, Director of the Raleigh Area Development Authority, to land the $50,000 grant for low-income areas.
“No other Smithfield community has this,” Johnson said during the May 7 meeting.
However, Williams wanted Johnson’s organization audited.
Williams motion died for a lack of a second. Johnson said last week he was “blindsided” by the councilman’s comments.
In an email to WTSB News, Johnson said he would be sending out copies of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporations financial records and minutes of meetings for the past 5 years. “Public trust has been question(ed) and my organization receives tax dollars. I do not take that lightly… I don't want the organization that I work for and love to be tarnished by the words of one man.”
Johnson also released an editorial letter saying he would continue to do what he believes is right and to continue seeking opportunities to improve Smithfield.
In the meanwhile, some citizens say they would like to see Councilman Williams resign from the Smithfield Town Council. One person said it was time for new representation in the East Smithfield community saying Williams has done little to improve the area since he took office in 1989.
Sheriff Offers $1,000 Reward In Church Vandalism Investigation
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell announced Thursday his department is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrests and convictions of those responsible for vandalism discovered Wednesday morning at Branch Chapel Free Will Baptist Church.
A sign at the church, located at 7438 NC 96 North of Selma, was spray painted with graffiti, including the words: “Money is the root of all Christians” and the words “Evil” and “Satan” on one side of the sign.
On the other side, the suspects spray-painted “666” and “Hypocrites”.
“When you start vandalizing God’s house and property it doesn’t get much worse than that,” Sheriff Bizzell told WTSB News on Thursday. “I will not stand for churches to be victims of crime.”
The incident appears to be isolated with no other churches in the area reporting any vandalism. Nevertheless, deputies have stepped up patrols around rural churches.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5010.
Driver Hurt In Rollover Accident
Emergency crews from the Cleveland Fire Department and Johnston County EMS rendered aid to the victim of a single vehicle crash on Lee Road near Steel Bridge Road Wednesday afternoon.
The driver, and lone occupant, in the single vehicle crash was able to climb from the vehicle after it overturned several times in a field. The victim was transported to Johnston Health in Clayton for treatment of minor injuries.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the crash. Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com
School Lunch Prices Will Increase
It will cost a nickel more this fall to buy a Johnston County School lunch.
Chief Operations Officer Patrick Jacobs (pictured) recommended the increase at Tuesday's Johnston County School Board meeting.
The lunch meal price for elementary and middle schools will increase from $2.10 to $2.15 for paying students.
Paying high school students will pay $2.30, up from $2.25 this year.
Jacobs said the U.S. Department of Agriculture mandated the meal price increase for all public school systems who participate in the National School Lunch program.
The mandated price increase is due to an assumed increase in food costs resulting from national nutrition standards set forth by the U.S.D.A.
This is the second consecutive increase for elementary and middle school students. Lunch prices increased this year by 10 cents.
High school students' last meal increase was the 2008-2009 school year when meal prices increased by a dime.
Selma American Legion Posts Celebrates 75th Anniversary
The Selma Town Council has designated this Saturday, May 18 as Selma American Legion Post 141 Day.
In the Town's proclamation, Mayor Cheryl Oliver said the post's 75th anniversary provides an opportunity to recognize the Legionnaires for their many contributions to the Selma community.
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a wartime veteran's organization.
Over the years, the American Legion now has more than 2.5 million members in over 14,000 American Legion posts worldwide.
The Selma American Legion will hold a number of events for their 75th anniversary this Saturday including a 5K Fun Run starting at 9:30am. The location is 300 North Webb Street in Selma. For more information about the events call 919-915-4111.
Sister Charged In Financial Card Theft
A local woman has been arrested and charged with stealing from her own brother. James Council called Johnston County deputies on Wednesday saying someone had used his prepaid MasterCard to make purchases without his permission.
During an investigation, Council’s sister, Gina Marie Council, 27, of Old Country Lane, Selma was identified as a suspect and arrested on financial card fraud charges.
Gina Council allegedly used the card on May 14 to make a $13.64 purchase at a local McDonald’s and make $40 and $80 cash withdrawals from ATMs.
Schools Seek 12.3 Percent Budget Increase
Johnston County Schools want a 12.3 percent increase for the 2013-2014 school year.
Superintendent Ed Croom presented the proposed budget at Tuesday's school board meeting.
This current 2012-13 expense fund is $52.2 million. The school board proposes $55.5 million for 2013-14, an increase of $3.3 million or 6.2 percent.
Add to that a 2013-2014 request for $3.2 million in capital outlay and that means a total increase of $6.4 million.
Dr. Croom said the staff is recommending a one percent teacher supplement increase, with benefits of $1.1 million, but overall salaries will decrease by $415,157.
Other increases include $500,000 each for technology and bus driver salaries, a $611,200 increase in bonus with benefits for classified employees, nearly $500,000 for worker's compensation and $227,000 for charter schools.
The school board also plans to cut utility costs by $350,000.
In the proposed budget, 39 percent goes for instructional expenses, 34 percent for plant operations, 11 percent for the office of the principal, 5 percent for fiscal and human resources, 4 percent for support, 3 percent for transportation, 2 percent for benefits and 1 percent each for Executive Administration/Public Information and the Board of Education.
Dr. Croom said there are pending legislative bills that could affect this proposed budget.
The school budget proposal was presented to the Board of Commissioners Wednesday afternoon. May 15 is the deadline the budget request must be sent to county leaders.
Selma May Increase Property Tax Rate
Selma Town Manager Richard Douglas is recommending the Town increase its ad valorem tax rate from 51 cents to 53 cents to fund two additional firefighter positions.
Douglas said the additional firefighters will improve services and decrease the Town's ISO rating.
If the budget is approved, all Town employees will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase but no merit raises.
The Town Manager said a much improved dental insurance plan is included at an overall cost increase of $9,000, to be funded by the elimination of health insurance for elected officials, similar to the policy in Smithfield and Benson.
Under the proposed $17.2 million budget, the Town will maintain its current electric rates.
Douglas said any decrease in electric rates would affect needed system improvement.
The proposed budget will increase sewer rates by $1 per 1,000 gallons, reflecting the proposed 15 cent increase per 1,000 gallons by Johnston County.
The proposed budget will maintain existing water and sanitation rates and Douglas said there would be no fund balance reserve appropriations.
Douglas said in the proposed budget there would be compliance with state electric transfer fund limitation and reduction in electric fund transfer to the general fund by 4.9 percent.
Overall spending is proposed to be decreased by 0.8 percent from the current operating budget.
Douglas said the proposed budget is based on minimal expected growth in revenues and uncertainty regarding existing revenue sources.
A public hearing on the budget will be held Tuesday, May 21st at 6:30 p.m. in the Jernigan Building, located at 106 East Anderson Street.
The Mayor and Council will meet Wednesday, May 29th at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the proposed budget.
Bill Would Toughen Penalties For Passing Stopped School Bus
Last year across North Carolina, five children were hit and killed by a vehicle while trying to board or get off their school buses. To try and encourage drivers to pay closer attention to stopped school buses, the NC House on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would increase the penalties for those illegally passing buses.
The House Bill would fine those convicted of passing a bus with its stop-arm out and red lights flashing, which would be a felony offense, would face a $2,500 fine and if the person died, the fine would increase to $5,000. Also, the driver would lose their license for up to 3 years. A second conviction for the same offense would result in their licenses being revoked for life.
A study by NC State University shows as many as 576,000 vehicles pass stopped school buses in North Carolina each year.
Poll: Voters Back Developing NC Natural Gas Resources
The latest Civitas Poll shows that North Carolina voters strongly favor developing the state’s natural gas resources, including offshore reserves.
The poll of 500 NC registered voters had a margin of error of plus-minus 4.36 percent.
“Voters want to see North Carolina develop the natural resources lying right under our feet, or just off our seacoast,” said Civitas President Francis X. De Luca. “Legislators should heed these beliefs, and pay less attention to the scare tactics often used to block energy development.”
Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed support onshore and offshore exploration of natural gas reserves. 21% oppose drilling, while others were undecided.
Former Office Managers Charged With Embezzling Nearly $79,000
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office has arrested two former office managers at a roofing company for allegedly embezzling money. The thefts were discovered after officials with David Leduc Company near McGee’s Crossroads conducted a financial audit from 2007 to 2011.
Authorities allege Summer Brooke Holmes, 28, of Highway 42, Willow Spring (top right) reportedly took approximately $78,000 from the business by forging her signature on company checks.
When Holmes left, she reportedly trained another office manager, Lisa Call Powell, 32, of South Creek Road, Willow Spring (lower right). Between July and December 2011, Powell allegedly took $943 from the business.
Holmes was charged with five counts of embezzlement and Powell with a single count of embezzlement.
Holmes bail was set at $50,000 while Powell received a $10,000 bond.
Former Kenly Police Chief Arrested
A former Johnston County police chief and deputy sheriff has been arrested on domestic assault charges. Larry Glenn Carter, 64, of Dogwood Lane, Kenly turned himself in to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office on Friday where he was served with an assault warrant issued by Kenly Police.
Carter was the former police chief in Kenly from 1992 to 1999. Prior to becoming Kenly’s police chief, Carter was a former deputy and detective with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office from July 1980 to January 1992.
On May 7, Carter allegedly struck his wife in the face with an open hand during a domestic altercation, according to a warrant issued by Kenly Police Corporal G.W. Strong. Police Chief Josh Gibson said officers were called to Carter’s home and police reportedly saw marks on the victim consistent with a statement she gave lawmen about the incident.
The warrant for Carter’s arrest was issued Thursday and he surrendered to authorities Friday. Following a first appearance in court, Carter was given a court-appointed attorney and as a condition of his release, he was ordered not to contact the victim.
Carter was also ordered to appear in Johnston County Court on the charges on June 3.
Interstate 95 Economic Assessment Complete
Dozens of people turned out Monday at Johnston Community College in Smithfield for the first of four public meetings with the Department of Transportation to discuss the findings of the Interstate 95 Economic Assessment.
The study was conducted at the direction of the North Carolina General Assembly in response to the I-95 Environmental Assessment, which recommended $4.5 billion in projects to expand and upgrade the interstate to meet future needs and paying for these projects through tolling.
The following key findings came from the I-95 Economic Assessment:
The I-95 Economic Assessment was conducted and prepared by Cambridge Systematics of Atlanta, Ga. and was guided by an advisory council made up of leaders from key industry associations, economic development and tourism groups, the Chamber of Commerce and the No Tolls I-95 Coalition.
Stakeholder and public comments were received through interviews, surveys, focus groups and the Driving95 website to address the following questions:
Information gathered in the assessment will be provided to the General Assembly so it can determine how to move forward with improving the interstate.
The I-95 Corridor Planning and Finance Study began in 2009 and focuses on improving the safety, connectivity and efficiency of all 182 miles of I-95 through North Carolina.
Johnston County EMS Announces Cadet Program, Open House
At the May Board of Commissioners meeting Johnston County EMS Chief Josh Holloman delivered the systems annual update, which included the announcement of a new cadet program and upcoming open house.
The EMS cadet program will allow young adults ages 15-18 to participate as part of the EMS crew and to attend training to learn life saving skills, including basic life support procedures and CPR. Holloman says this is a program that is needed in our county and research shows will have an impact in career and education decisions of our youth. “Many of our current employees started in EMS cadet programs.” Holloman said. “The programs have been proven to assist young adults with their career paths and it will be an asset to our system as it builds our next generation of paramedics.” Applications can be obtained at any EMS station throughout the county, or can be obtained by calling the EMS office at 919-989-5050.
Also announced, Johnston County EMS will hold its’ first EMS open house on Sunday, May 19 as a kick off to EMS week. The public is invited to the event, which will be held at the Clayton Main EMS Station, located at 317 S. Robertson Street in Clayton from 2pm-4pm.
Attendees can learn how to provide hands-only CPR, receive free blood pressure checks and tour the station and equipment. Activities will also be available for children, refreshments will be available and there will be a demonstration of a full scale cardiac arrest scene at 3pm.
Break-In Reported At Cleveland Middle School
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a break-in discovered Monday at Cleveland Middle School on Cornwallis Road. Assistant Principal Roger Lee Norris told authorities he discovered a mobile classroom had been forcibly entered. Deputies said the suspect damaged a window and a computer. The suspect also wrote obscenities on an eraser board.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5010.
JCSO: Traffic Stops Leads To Marijuana
Two Johnston County men were arrested on felony marijuana possession charges during unrelated traffic stops on Friday.
The first suspect, Cameron Royal Atkinson, 18, of West Jones Street, Selma (right) was stopped for speeding on River Road by a SAFE Team deputy. During the traffic stop, 4 individual bags of suspected marijuana were seized, some of which were in plain view, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.
In a second traffic stop, this one on US70 West of Smithfield, a SAFE Team deputy reportedly found a bag of suspected marijuana in the pockets of John Joseph Chopski, 31, of Briarwood Lane, Smithfield, (left) who was stopped for speeding, Amaon said.
Three additional bags of marijuana were located in the driver’s area of the vehicle, along with drug paraphernalia, and cash, Amaon said.
Both Atkinson and Chopski were charged with felony possession with intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance, felony maintaining a vehicle to keep a controlled substance, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Bond for Atkinson was set at $30,500. Bail for Chopski was placed at $25,300.
Wal-Mart Customer Charged With Scam
A Clayton woman is facing charges following an incident inside Wal-Mart on Highway 42 West on Friday.
According to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Taneika Lashay McKey, 20, entered the business, allegedly concealed two dog collars in her purse, then went to the customer service desk and tried to return the items without a receipt for a gift card.
McKey was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses, a felony. She was transported to the Johnston County Jail where she was given a $20,000 bond. Deputies said the items McKey tried to exchange for cash were valued at $24.81.
Stranger Who Passes Out On Couch Arrested For DWI
A resident on Peele Road near Clayton allegedly got a big surprise Friday afternoon when a man she didn’t know walked into her home and passed out on the couch. The homeowner called 911, but before deputies arrived the woman made the man leave. Deputies allegedly spotted the suspects Ford truck in a nearby field and found him asleep behind the wheel with the motor still running.
Charles Phillip Tyler, 33, of Fireweed Place, Clayton was charged with driving while impaired. Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, said Tyler registered 0.11 on the Breathalyzer. Amaon said deputies located several open containers of beer in Tyler’s truck. He was later released from jail on a $1,500 bond.
Four Oaks Man Arrested For DWI
DWI charges have been filed against a Four Oaks man following a vehicle stop by a Johnston County deputy on Highway 50 South of Benson near Five Points Road. The officer said he was sitting stationary beside NC50 around 2:20am Sunday when a vehicle passed by his location at a high rate of speed.
Once the officer caught up to the vehicle and activated his blue lights and siren, the driver reportedly continued on at speeds up to 85mph for another 1-1/2 miles before stopping
Deputies identified the driver as Daniel Lee Allen, 27, of Keen Road. Allen reportedly told officers “You got me. I messed up.”
Allen was charged with driving while impaired and driving left of center. Deputies said Allen registered 0.12 on the Breathalyzer, which is above the legal limit of 0.08 in North Carolina.
Trent Graduates From Basic Training
Army Pvt. Quentin P. Trent Jr. has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Waynesville, Mo.
During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received instruction in drill and ceremony, weapons, rifle marksmanship qualification, bayonet combat, chemical warfare, field training and tactical exercises, marches, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, traditions, and core values.
Trent is the son of Yoneka and Phillip Trent of Champion Street, Clayton. He is a 2012 graduate of Clayton High School.
EMS Call Volume Increases
The Johnston County EMS' call volume increased significantly last year.
EMS Division Chief Josh Holloman told Johnston County Commissioners Monday that EMS received 19,300 calls in 2012, compared to 18,700 calls in 2011.
Holloman said eight supervisors received Crisis Intervention training last year and that the Four Oaks EMS received first place in the state Basic Life Support competition.
Johnston County EMS worked with agencies in Smithfield, Clayton and Princeton to consolidate operations, maintained 70% transports to the Johnston Medical Center and maintained a response time average of 9.36 minutes.
Holloman said Johnston County EMS has begun drawing blood of stroke patients to assist the hospital and decrease the treatment time.
He said his agency is working with Johnston Health to improve heart attack care, is updating its current protocols and working to improve cardiac arrest outcomes.
In 2012, Holloman said EMS handled 153 cardiac arrest calls where the patients stopped breathing. Now, 23 of those patients are home and doing well. That's a significant improvement from 2010 when EMS handled 131 cardiac arrest cases and four patients ended up at home in good health.
The Johnston County EMS System consists of Johnston County, Four Oaks, Selma and 50-210 EMS, 911 Communications and 24 fire departments of which 19 are first responders. WTSB File Photo
Motorcyclist Injured In NC50 Crash
The Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of a serious motorcycle crash Monday morning. It happened around 12:30am on Highway 50 just north of McGee’s Crossroads. The driver was ejected from his bike and transported to WakeMed for treatment.
The name of the driver or the cause of the crash has not been released by troopers. Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com
Smithfield Approves Rezoning, Conditional Use Permit for New Apartment Complex
The Smithfield Town Council has approved a rezoning and conditional use permit for a new apartment complex.
The Glen Lake Apartments will be located on a ten-acre tract located on the south side of NC Hwy 210, nearly 500 feet west of its intersection with Skyland Drive.
The 72-unit multi-family housing complex will be constructed by Raleigh-based Penco Land Company.
Council Member Andy Moore questioned what type of turn lane might be required by the state Department of Transportation for the complex.
Mayor Pro-tem Emery Ashley said whatever turn lane is required by the DOT, he didn’t want it to be the Town of Smithfield’s responsibility.
Penco Representative Mike Weaver (pictured) told the Council his company would assume responsibility for the cost.
Weaver said the development is geared toward middle income tenants, such as teachers, police officers, firefighters and city workers.
The complex will have a pool and community room.
Ashley moved for approval of the conditional use permit, with the condition the site plan be brought back to council for final approval. WTSB Photo
County Awards $39,000 To Juvenile Crime Prevention Council
The Johnston County Board of Commissioners has awarded $39,000 to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.
The $39,000 will be used to help pay for an instructor in the Structured Day Program, for a Community Services/Restitution Assistant and also for increased transportation expenses and utilities.
Steve Strickland, the council vice chairman, made the presentation to County Commissioners on May 6.
In a letter written to commissioners by District Court Judge Addie Rawls, who serves as the council chairperson, she said it costs counties $89 per day for each juvenile and the State of North Carolina $98,485 for each juvenile that's committed to a Youth Development Council.
Judge Rawls said the council hasn't increased its request for county matching funds. Most of the 20 percent match required by each juvenile program is through in-kind services.
Judge Rawls said the programs have gone out of their way to find other sources to meet the 20 percent match.
The council anticipates $251,231 from the state to help fund its programs.
Homeowner Detains Burglary Suspect
Johnston County deputies arrested an accused burglar Friday afternoon after a Kenly homeowner returned to his residence to find the suspect trying to leave with jewelry and prescription medication.
The homeowner held Cameron Shane Ellis, 19, of Little Rock Church Road, Wilson until deputies arrived on the scene, according to Johnston County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Tammy Amaon.
Amaon said the victim called from his home on Richardson Bass Road after retuning home from lunch to find the suspect attempting to crawl from underneath a partially closed garage door.
Ellis was reportedly detained by the victim until deputies arrived and took Ellis to jail. Ellis was charged with felony larceny and felony breaking and entering. Bond was set at $40,000.
Arrest Made In Business Robbery
A woman has been charged with robbing a Wayne County Business. Thirty-seven year-old Regina Speight of Dudley is accused of entering the Downeast Travel Center on Highway 117 South around 2:30pm Friday. Speight allegedly displayed a knife and ordered the clerk to hand over money. The clerk was then forced into a closet.
Deputies were summoned and located Speight a short time later at her home.
She was charged with armed robbery and first-degree kidnapping. Speight was confined in the Wayne County Detention Center under a $400,000 bond.
Thieves Steal $7,216 In Cigarettes
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office is looking for two suspects who stole $7,216 worth of cigarettes during a break-in at 4:48am last Sunday, May 5. The entire theft was captured on security cameras at Smoker Friendly at 5568 Highway 42 West near the I-40 interchange.
The suspects used a large brick to smash the glass. Once inside, the suspects reportedly brought in two large trash cans they filled with cartons of cigarettes. The suspects were both wearing dark clothing and gloves. One of the suspects appears to be a black male with light skin or a Hispanic male. There was no identity available of the second suspect.
Anyone with information about the suspects or anyone who was in the area at the time and saw suspicious activity is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5010. Callers with information can remain anonymous.
Spill Reported At Water Treatment Plant
A spill of potable water treatment process byproduct sludge occurred on May 9 at the Johnston County water treatment plant near Wilson’s Mills. Approximately 1,500 gallons flowed into an unnamed tributary of the Neuse River.
The spill resulted from a clogged drain line during a routine process unit cleaning operation. The material consists of sediment and silt removed from river water in the treatment process in addition to very low concentrations of treatment chemicals. Water plant staff removed visible deposits of the sludge from the stream.
The spill has been reported to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Division of Water Quality.
Downham Completes Basic Training
Army National Guard Pvt. Joshua L. Downham has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia.
During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions. Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.
Downham is a 2009 graduate of Johnston Community College.