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Benson Business Robbed At Gunpoint
Law enforcement officers are investigating Tuesday nights armed robbery of the Treasure Hut in Benson. Around 10:30pm, a lone gunman walked into the sweepstakes café, located at 807 South Wall Street, and at gunpoint took an undisclosed amount of money.

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and Benson Police both responded to the business.

Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland said there were customers inside the business at the time of the robbery but no injuries were reported.

The suspect was described as a black male with skinny build, wearing a hoodie, bandana, and blue jeans.  He fled from the business on foot.

Anyone with information about the robbery of the Treasure Hut in Benson is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5000. Dunn Daily Record Photo  


Police: 3 People Shot Following Dispute Over Water Gun  
Selma Police have arrested two people in connection with the shootings of three people Friday afternoon.

The incident happened at the Stanridge Apartments off River Road.

Police Captain R. L. Daniels said the shootings all stemmed from a prior altercation over a water gun.

Police said Antoinette Price was shot by Barren Jamal Amerson.

Amerson and Toriana Dublin were then shot by DeAngelo Covington.

Amerson was charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Covington was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

Police expect all the victims to recover from their injuries. 


Wilson Man Sentenced To Federal Prison For 2013 Robberies
A Wilson man has been sentenced to 19-1/2 years in federal prison for a string of armed robberies.

Artavious Quonta Boddie, 24, was sentenced in federal court in Raleigh on April 10.

Boddie had pled guilty on December 18, 2013 to conspiring to rob a business engaged in interstate commerce and using a firearm during a crime of violence.

Boddie conspired to rob three businesses between February 21-24, 2013.  They were Discount Cigarettes in Wilson, the Kangaroo Express in Wilson, and the Fuel Doc in Lucama.

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, Wilson Police, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Kenly Police, and the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. 


Suspect Indicted In Kenly Meth Lab Explosion

The man Kenly Police said had a mobile meth lab explode inside his truck outside a Family Dollar store in February has been indicted by a Johnston County Grand Jury.

The Grand Jury indicted 24 year-old Joshua Robert Phillips for manufacturing methamphetamines.

On February 23, Phillips, of Flower Hill Road, Middlesex had reportedly pulled up to the front of the Family Dollar and went inside. Moments later a ‘one pot’ meth lab inside his truck exploded, sending shrapnel and vehicle parts more than 70 feet, according to Police Chief Josh Gibson.

Store security camera footage showed a fireball engulfing the truck. The blast was so intense it buckled the doors on the truck.

Chief Gibson said the mobile meth lab was in a 16-ounce bottle but the pressure was so intense, it detonated like a small bomb.

Chief Gibson said a “one pot batch of meth” is often made in a 16-ounce bottle. It has to be shaken frequently, but the cap has to be turned often to release pressure or it can explode, as it did in this incident. 

Phillips was arrested at the scene. The SBI assisted with the clean up of the meth lab, Chief Gibson said.


Homeless Man Indicted For Sexually Assaulting Child
A homeless man has been indicted on three sex charges for allegedly molesting an 8 year-old girl after the child’s family allowed the man to stay in their home.

Danny Ferrell Bass, 60, was indicted last week by a Grand Jury sitting in Smithfield.  Bass was indicted on one count of sex offense with a child and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child.

The alleged incidents happened between January 1 and February 28 of this year. 

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office received the complaint against Bass on March 13 and he was arrested March 21 on the charges.

Authorities described Bass as an acquaintance of the victim and her family.

School Board Urged To Take Stand On Tenure
A prominent Johnston County teacher advocate is urging the Board of Education to go on record opposing the end of teacher tenure.

At the center of the controversy is state legislation, which will eliminate career status for teachers by 2018 and implements a four-year contract for 25 percent of eligible teachers.

In a March 14th letter to school employees, School Board Chairman Larry Strickland addressed the controversial legislation.

But Rich Nixon, (pictured right) President of the Johnston County Association of Educators, told board members they need to do more.

He said teachers want the board to adopt Strickland’s letter as a Resolution of the Board, publicly opposing the 25 percent contracts.

“While the board’s intent was commendable,” Nixon said, “I believe it has underestimated the depth of feeling among teachers over these contracts.”

Nixon said hundreds of Johnston County teachers have joined with their colleagues from across the state in signing pledges not to accept the 25 percent contracts.
Forty-one school boards across the state have taken public stands against the legislation.

Although the school board’s letter to employees indicates opposition to the 25 percent contract, Nixon said the board’s public silence suggests otherwise.

At Wednesday’s meeting, school board members sympathized with the teachers but took no official action.
School Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom said school officials this week had a conference call with legislators regarding the legislation.

Board Member Donna White said the board’s handling of the issue is a “work in progress.” Board Member Mike Wooten said his wife has taught public school for 30 years. “Believe me, I’ve heard you,” Wooten said.


Selma Middle School Adding 5th Grade Students
Beginning next school year, fifth grade students at Selma Elementary School will transition to Selma Middle School.

Over the last three years, the enrollment numbers at Selma Elementary have increased by 13.8 percent and there are 7 mobile units on campus.

Chief Operations Officer Patrick Jacobs (pictured) told the Johnston County School Board that there’s no available space for additional mobile units.

Jacobs said Selma Elementary is the second largest elementary school in the district.

To alleviate overcrowding, Jacobs said the current 5th grade would be moved to Selma Middle School. There is available space at the middle school and the 5th grade would have their own wing.

Jacobs said the 5th grade used to be at Selma Middle School several years ago and they were very successful there.

As of April 1st, the current enrollment at Selma Elementary was 1,064 students. There are currently 162 fourth graders that will transition to the middle school next year.

Jacobs said transportation will be provided and that administrators at both schools have had meetings with teachers and parents.

Dipping Into Electric Fund Costly To Smithfield Power Customers  
WTSB News has learned that every utility customer in the Town of Smithfield could see an immediate 4 to 5 percent electrical rate decrease if town officials would stop using the electric fund to pay for non-electric related expenses.   

At the April 1st Smithfield Town Council meeting, Councilman Perry Harris requested the Town end its practice of transferring money from its electric fund to its general fund.  “It’s a travesty this council needs to address,” Harris said.

Over $714,000 is being transferred this fiscal year.

Councilman Harris wants that amount cut in half during the new fiscal year budget starting July 1st and eliminated after next years budget.

But Town Manager Paul Sabiston (pictured) warned eliminating the transfer would either cause property taxes to increase or town services to decrease.

Mayor Pro-tem Andy Moore said he couldn’t support Harris’ motion until he knew what the repercussions would be.

The town manager tells WTSB News that the excess funds generated by electric sales go towards necessities. Of the $714,301 being transferred, Sabiston says $86,214 is for “a payment equivalent to a property tax payment.” 

Another $331,000 goes towards employee insurance costs. Sabiston would only say the remaining $297,000 “is transferred under the prevailing state statue.”

However, Sabiston did say in an email to WTSB that the amount taken from the electric fund is equivalent to a 4 to 5% rate decrease for town power customers.

A second WTSB email to the town manager requesting additional information on the electric fund was not answered.

Council Members Emery Ashley and Travis Scott said the Board needs to take a serious look at Harris’ proposal.

Harris agreed to table his motion on ending the transfer from the electric fund until the May 6th council meeting.


Poll: Voters Pessimistic On Personal Finances, Economy

The latest Civitas Institute Poll shows North Carolina voters blame Democrats more than Republicans for their personal financial woes as the state and nation move into the 2014 election.

While voters are slightly more positive about the overall economy, they are pessimistic when asked about their own personal financial situation both past and future. “And this ‘optimism’ about the overall economy appears in a time when nearly three-fourths of respondents believe the recession is continuing and won’t be ended for a year or more,” said Civitas President Francis X. De Luca.

“These numbers can't be interpreted any other way than being bad for Democrats,” he said.

The poll of 600 registered North Carolina voters was conducted March 18-20, and has an error margin of plus/minus 4 percent.

The majority of respondents, 59 percent, believe it will take more than 2 years for the recession to end. 15 percent think it will end within one to two years.

Since 2011, 36% of those polled believe the overall national economy and job outlook has gotten worse, 27% say it has remained unchanged, and 35% think it is better.

In the next year, 23% think the economy will worsen, 29% say it will not change, while 45% think it will improve.

As for personal finances since 2011, 45% say their finances and job situation has worsened, 22% say it has gotten better, and 45% reported no change. Only 36% think it will get better in the next year. 

When asked who is most responsible for the national economy and job outlook, 29% said President Obama, 17% blamed former President Bush, 19% the Republican majority in the US House, 13% the Democratic majority in the US Senate, and 16% said a combination. 

25% blamed President Obama for the greatest impact on their own personal finances, 12% President Bush, and 15% each the Republicans and Democrats in Congress.


Local Envirothon Teams Advance To State Competition

(Top right)   Edmundson Quadrangle 4-H ‘Quokkas’  –  Team Advisor Melody Lineberger, Matthew Cherry, Faith Turner, Jeremy Mayer, Ashley Turner, Parent Advisor Ms. Turner, and Lindsay Barnes

(Lower right)  WJHS ‘Wildcats in the Wild FFA’ – Team Advisor Eric Honeycutt, Aaron Honeycutt, Sapphire Soto, Hannah Sermersheim, Melanie Langness,  and Sam Brown

The Johnston County Envirothon teams recently placed in the top seven at the regional Envirothon competition. They will now advance to the State Envirothon to be held later this month. 

The Envirothon is a team competition for middle and high school students who are tested on their knowledge of soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife and current environmental issues. 

Not pictured is the McGee’s Crossroads Middle School Team, the Rabid Beavers, who will also advance to the State competition.


Canada Completes Military Training
Army National Guard Pvt. Martin M. Canada has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

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

Canada is the son of Jennifer and Bill Canada of Princeton. He is a 2011 graduate of Princeton High School.

 

Debate Continues Over Gunfire In Archer Lodge Subdivision
(Left) Archer Lodge resident Mervin Jones told the Archer Lodge Town Council Monday night unless something is done to stop gunfire in the Wyndfall Subdivision someone may be killed. WTSB Photo

The debate over target practicing in an Archer Lodge subdivision continues.

Four residents of the Wyndfall Subdivision spoke at Monday night’s Archer Lodge Town Council meeting.
The Wyndfall subdivision is located off Buffalo Road, within the Archer Lodge Town Limits.

One of the residents, Mervin Jones of 123 Carrie Drive, had contacted WTSB News earlier about continuing gunfire in the subdivision.

Jones told WTSB he wanted to get word out that the residents and children are in fear.

Jones said there were gunshots fired Sunday. He said there were also shots fired by people using what he described as AK assault rifles on Saturday, April 5th.

Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland confirmed deputies were dispatched on Saturday, April 5th at 4:50 p.m. to Carrie Drive regarding shots fired.

Scott Beasley, of Johnston County 911, confirmed the incident was called in by one of the other neighbors complaining about the other neighbor shooting and said he was afraid someone was going to get hurt.

According to a report filed by a sheriff’s deputy who responded to the scene it said, “The subjects appeared to be shooting in a safe manner.”

Jones told the council, “It doesn’t make sense. We’ve got a real problem. Someone is going to get killed if you don’t take action.”

Another resident, Adam Lawhorn of 116 Carrie Drive, told council the noise created by the target practice is interrupting our rest and frightening our children. Lawhorn cited one resident who won’t let their children play outside because of the shooting.

This isn’t the first time Archer Lodge Mayor Mike Gordon and the Town Council have heard citizens’ complaints.

At the Monday night meeting, homeowners were advised to hire an attorney and take civil action against the neighbors who are violating the subdivision’s covenant, which prohibits the discharge of firearms.

Archer Lodge Town Attorney Chip Hewett told WTSB News, “The subdivision has been told to file a civil action and get an injunction to stop the shooting.”

Mayor Gordon told the homeowners that resolving the issue isn’t as easy as adopting an ordinance.

“If we pass an ordinance, it affects all 4,400 people who live in Archer Lodge, not just the people who live in your subdivision,” Gordon said.

Mayor Pro-Tem Carlton Vinson told the homeowners the town council was concerned and believed there had to be a remedy to this.

“We’re asking you to pursue your legal recourse to the fullest extent of the law,” Vinson said. “Then, if you don’t get results, come back to the council.”


Arrest Made In Home Invasion, Rape
A Middlesex man has been arrested in connection with a home invasion and rape. The incident occurred April 3rd at a home in northern Johnston County but details about the incident and arrest were not released by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) until Tuesday.

Wallace William Cooley Jr., 48, of Tommy Lane, was charged Monday with first-degree burglary, first-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping, assault by strangulation, and assault on a law enforcement officer.

Cooley allegedly forced his way into the victims’ home and sexually assaulted the victim, according to Captain A.C. Strickland with the JCSO.

While a sheriff’s detective was processing Cooley into the Johnston County Jail Monday afternoon, he allegedly assaulted the officer, resulting in an additional felony charges.

Cooley was confined under a $275,000 bond.

   
Authorities Link Kenly Man To Kidnapping
A Kenly man has been arrested on kidnapping charges and more arrests are possible.  The Wayne County Sheriff’s
Office said the incident happened April 10th. 

The victim was picked up from a residence near Pikeville and taken to Fremont where his hands, arms, and legs were bound with duct tape. He was also covered in spray paint.

A Fremont police officer happened to be in the area for an unrelated incident when he came in contact with the suspects and then discovered the victim at a residence.

Jerry Mason, 39, of Highway 581 North, Kenly was charged with second-degree kidnapping. 

Authorities tell WTSB News that additional arrests are anticipated.

Report: Employee Turnover, Ratio Of Staff To Residents A Concern At Area Nursing Homes

(Right) Jimmy Parker, Chairman of the Johnston County Nursing Home Advisory Committee, presents a report to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners. WTSB Photo

Johnston County Commissioners heard an update on nursing homes and adult care facilities in the county last week. A committee report shows that high staff turnout rates at the facilities is a big weakness. Another problem is the lack of proper dining areas for residents.

Jimmy Parker, Chairman of the Johnston County Nursing Home/Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee made the report.

In addition to a high turnover rate among employees, Parker cited the lack of proper and pleasant dining experiences, facilities in need of improvements and renovations, and a high ratio of staff to residents in many facilities.

There are 24 facilities in Johnston County, 4 nursing homes, 12 assisted living facilities and 8 family care homes.

Altogether, the facilities can accommodate 1,200 residents.

Parker said new facilities are improving conditions in Johnston County but work still remains to be done.
Gabriel Manor, an assisted living facility opened last summer in Clayton. It is a 75-bed facility with half its space devoted to dementia care.

Principal LTC is also building a 100-bed skilled nursing facility in Clayton.

Parker cited the work of the Community Advisory Committee as an advocate of residents of adult care facilities for making a difference.

Committee members regularly visit all county long-term care facilities. Parker said they assist residents in resolving issues with their facilities and educate the community about issues facing residents in long-term care facilities.

He said positive aspects of care in Johnston County include dedicated and well-trained management and staff, facilities devoting more attention to dementia care, rehabilitation services, and church and community group involvement.

Parker said he’d received calls from citizens regarding the committee’s work after a recent appearance on WTSB Radio with Carl Lamm and County Manager Rick Hester.


Dropout Rate Continues To Decline

The Johnston County Board of Education heard good news about the county’s student dropout rate.

Dr. Oliver Johnson, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, (pictured) told the school board that the dropout rate has steadily declined over the past five years.

The rate for high school students in 2012-2013 dropped from 2.65 to 1.95. Statewide, the dropout rate was 2.45.

A total of 189 students dropped out in 2012-2013, compared to 249 in the previous year.

Dr. Johnson said dropping out is a complex social problem for which there’s no simple solution.

The best approach, he said, includes a broad range of strategies to address the problem.

By creating an equitable, challenging and quality educational environment that’s conducive to learning, Johnston County Schools strives to ensure that all students graduate from high school.

Clayton High School had the largest number of dropouts in 2012-2013 with 35 students, followed by Smithfield-Selma High with 32 students.

Cleveland and North Johnston High had 24 students each, South Johnston had 23 dropout students, West Johnston had 21, Corinth Holders High had 16 dropout students, Princeton High had 7, South Campus had 6, Middle College High had 1 and the Early College Academy had none.

How did Johnston County’s 1.95 dropout rate compare to surrounding school districts? Johnston County tied with Wake County for the lowest dropout rate in the region.

Wayne County’s dropout rate was 4.0, followed by Harnett County with 3.85, Wilson County, 3.43; and Sampson County, 3.25.

Clayton Approves Customer Service E-Mail Policy Change

The Clayton Town Council has voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the Customer Service Policy.
The policy change will allow email coordination with customers who give permission to be contacted through email.

The new enhanced communication will help both the town and utility customers save money.

For example, if the Town conducts a meter reading at an address and the water usage is unusually high, an automatic email will be generated to the customer alerting them to the high consumption. If the higher usage is due to a water leak, the alert will help the customer find and repair the leak, saving water and money.  

The electronic or email communications will only be with Town of Clayton Utility Customers who sign up for the program.

Robinson Completes Basic Combat Training
Army Pvt. Elizabeth R. Robinson has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, SC.

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

Robinson is the daughter of Lilian Howell and granddaughter of Ken and Pat Howell of Princeton.  She is a 2013 graduate of Rosewood High School near Goldsboro.

 

Former Johnston County KKK Leader Arrested For Kansas Murders
The former grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — Glenn Miller — is in custody for killing three people, two outside a Jewish center and a third outside a retirement home, in Overland Park, Kansas on Sunday.

The former Johnston County man was going by the name Frazier Glenn Cross.  Miller, now 73, had been living in Missouri.

He was booked into the Johnson County, Kansas Jail for the murders.

Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said there was no indication the suspect knew his victims. He said it’s being investigated as a hate crime. The shootings took place the day before Passover, which is today.

A TV news video shows the suspect yelling what appears to be “Heil Hitler!” from the backseat of a police car.

Miller founded the Carolina Knights of the KKK during the 1980s. 

In 1984 he ran unsuccessfully for governor of North Carolina and in 1986 ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.

He was once sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

He formed another Klan group, the White Patriot Party, and was found in criminal contempt and sentenced to six months in prison for violating the court settlement. He was later caught by the FBI with a weapons cache in Missouri. 

He served three years in federal prison and as part of the deal testified against other Klan leaders in a 1988 trial. Story courtesy The Daily Record


Man Convicted Of Shooting Mother, Paralyzing Son In 2012 Shooting

One of three men arrested for shooting into a Smithfield apartment in 2012, wounding Jalissa Wallace, who was 24 at the time, and her 8 year-old son, Jeremiah, has been convicted.  Jeremiah was struck in the spinal column and was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Sameer Muhammod Edgar, 28, of Detroit, Michigan pled guilty Thursday in Johnston County Superior Court to two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and 24 counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling.

The shooting happened at 7:56pm on September 5, 2012 at 38 Towbridge Street.  Police said both the mother and son were inside their apartment when they were struck multiple times by the gunfire. 

Edgar was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Richard T. Brown to serve between 15 and 19 years in the NC Department of Corrections.       

Two others, Mister Premier Height of Kenly and Cornel Breon Harper of Kinston are still awaiting trial for their roles in the crime. 


Selma Mayor Weighs In On School Issue
In an exclusive WTSB News interview, Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver weighed in on the challenges facing Smithfield-Selma area schools.

While Mayor Oliver declined to comment on remarks made last week by Smithfield Mayor John Lampe, she did respond to comments made by School Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom.

Mayor Oliver is a member of the Citizens’ Study Commission, which has focused on Smithfield-Selma High School. At last Wednesday’s school board meeting, Mayor Oliver handed out copies of a report prepared by the commission to school board members.

Dr. Croom cited positive indicators including: a decrease in the dropout rates from 8.14 in 2008-2009 to 2.55 in 2012-2013.

Another positive indicator, Dr. Croom said, is an increase in the graduation rate of 61.1 in 2008-2009 to 75.1 in 2012-2013.  

The superintendent said the graduation rate increase at Smithfield-Selma High is the largest in Johnston County.

Mayor Oliver agreed that “these are positive indicators but said they “aren’t improving our test scores.”

Dr. Croom said Johnston County Schools has directed additional resources to Smithfield-Selma area schools.

Mayor Oliver responded by saying “When Dr. Croom made his comments he stated that federal dollars were included in his ‘additional resources.’”

“What was not stated was if SSS is receiving an equitable amount of Johnston County taxpayer dollars,” Mayor Oliver said.  “The federal dollars should be above and beyond the Johnston County funding versus being used to equalize funding among all schools. Federal funding should be used to provide extra resources to those schools that need it the most based on their demographics and performance.”

Mayor Oliver said she wants to see the school system use JCS resources or NC Department of Public Instruction resources to provide creative alternatives to the current school curriculum that would better meet the needs of the student population.

One area in which Mayor Oliver, Dr. Croom and school board members are in agreement is the importance of community involvement to the success of Johnston County schools.

“Many in the Selma community support the Backpack Buddy and Lunch Buddy programs,” Mayor Oliver said. “Some of our community leaders participate in career programs, read aloud programs, and serve as substitute teachers.”

Mayor Oliver said the area’s elected officials are focusing on economic development in order to provide quality jobs and affordable services for Selma and Smithfield.   “Doing this will allow us to attract a wide range of citizens and businesses that can better support our schools along with other community organizations.”


SSS Student Arrested

A Smithfield Selma High student was arrested by Selma Police last Tuesday after officers responded to a disturbance on Peedin Street.

Three people in a black SUV allegedly left the scene before officers arrived.  Later that day, the victim was traveling through Selma and got behind the suspects vehicle.  The victim dialed 911 and followed the vehicle to West Jones Avenue where police conducted a traffic stop.

Daniel Ines Yanes, 17, of West Waddell Street, Selma was the only occupant in the vehicle, police said.  During a search of the SUV officers reportedly found a small black bag in the center console containing 0.4 ounces of suspected marijuana.

Yanes was charged with possession of a controlled substance and driving without a license. He was released on a $500 bond pending a May 28 court appearance. Police also impounded the SUV.

According to a Selma Police arrest report, Yanes is a student at Smithfield Selma High.


Princeton High Student Facing Alcohol, Assault Charges

A Princeton High student was arrested Saturday after he allegedly tried to bite a Johnston County deputy then tried to kick the windshield on his patrol car.

Officers had responded to a disturbance call on Sunshine Road outside of Kenly when they encountered 16 year-old Dylan Lee Glover.

Before officers arrived, Glover, who had been consuming alcohol, deputies said, jumped on a recliner and punched his step-father in the face.

Glover was charged with consuming alcohol underage, assault, and resisting arrest.  Bail was set at $5,000 on the three misdemeanor charges.   According to his arrest report, Glover is a Princeton High student.


Suspect Charged With Injuring Law Enforcement K-9

A Johnston County Sheriff’s Office K-9 was injured Friday night while helping narcotics officers apprehend a suspect. 

Narcotic agents were executing a drug search warrant at a location on Buck Road near the Nash County line when three suspects ran, according to Captain A.C. Fish.  A K-9 tracked down Quinton Jamar Ellis, 34, of Riverview Drive, Zebulon and during the process the K-9 was kicked. Ellis also was bitten by the dog.

Ellis was charged with felony assault on a law enforcement animal resulting in injury, resisting a public officer and possession of a controlled substance.  Captain Fish said a small amount of suspected cocaine and marijuana were seized along with a large but undisclosed sum of cash.

Captain Fish said additional charges and additional arrests are likely.


Selma Police Getting Uniform Makeover

(Far left to right) Officer Sergio Guzman displays the new Selma Police uniform, while Officer Travis Abbott displays the existing police uniform. The new Selma Police patch is shown (lower right).

For the first time in over 30 years, Selma police officers will soon be sporting new uniforms.

Money for the new uniforms is in the police department’s budget and won’t cost the Town of Selma any additional funds.

The poly rayon material in the new uniforms will reduce the cost of repair and replacement. A new uniform patrol was also designed by Senior Patrol Officer Bruce Avery.

Police Officer Travis Abbott displayed the police department’s current uniform at the Selma Town Council meeting last week. Standing next to Abbott was Police Officer Sergio Guzman who modeled the new uniform.

The Selma Town Council voted unanimously to approve the new uniforms which police will begin wearing this fall.


Highway Patrol Kicks Off Operation Slow Down

On Monday, the Highway Patrol kicked off its annual Operation Slow Down 2014 campaign to catch excessive speeders on North Carolina’s highways.  Operation Slow Down, will continue from Monday, April 14 to Sunday, April 20, to reduce traffic collisions across the state.  The campaign will be conducted in combination with state’s No Need to Speed campaign.

Speed remains the leading cause of traffic collisions and fatalities in North Carolina and across the country. Last year, the Highway Patrol investigated 815 fatal collisions on North Carolina highways statewide. Of those, 208 deaths were contributed to speed.  In 2012, 242 deaths were reported.

“Our number one priority is to ensure the safety of the motoring public,” said Bill Grey, commander of the North Carolina Highway Patrol.  “The Highway Patrol is determined to reduce fatal collisions in North Carolina by targeting speeders who recklessly endanger our citizens,”

During Operation Slow Down 2013, troopers issued over 19,581 citations for numerous traffic violations to include 8,634 speed-related charges.


Clayton Proclaims April Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Public Event Planned April 29th at Clayton Town Center

(L to R) Harbor Inc. Executive Director Keri Christenson accepts a proclamation from Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod proclaiming April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. WTSB Photo

April has been declared Sexual Assault Awareness Month by the Clayton Town Council.

The town’s proclamation shared statistics on sexual offences: 208 registered sex offenders are living in Johnston County; 393,000 women in North Carolina have been the victim of rape; there is a forcible rape once every 6 minutes in the U.S. according to the FBI.

Harbor, Inc served 68 victims of sexual assault in Johnston County last year.

Harbor also invited the public to an event hosted by Harbor, Inc. and Mount Vernon Christian Church Tuesday, April 29th at 6:30pm at the Clayton Town Center.

The event planners hope to engage African American men and boys in examining gender roles, masculinity, and power; identify men and boys’ roles and responsibilities in the prevention of rape and sexual assault .

Mayor Jody McLeod presented a copy of the proclamation to Harbor Inc Executive Director Keri Christenson.


Benson, Wilson’s Mills Request County Enforcement Of Erosion Ordinance

On April 7th, Johnston County Commissioners heard from the towns of Benson and Wilson’s Mills. Both asked the county to handle the enforcement of new erosion and sediment control ordinances.

A county ordinance regarding the issue took effect last December.

In February, the Town of Wilson’s Mills passed a resolution calling for joint erosion and sediment control enforcement with the county. The Town of Benson passed a similar resolution in March.

Johnston County Stormwater Administrator Jamie Guerrero asked commissioners to consider the town’s joint resolutions.

County Manager Rick Hester said commissioners approved the County administering the ordinance for both towns.

New Copier Contract Could Save Smithfield $16,000

(Right) Smithfield Finance Director Greg Siler discussions a new copier contract with the Smithfield Town Council. WTSB Photo

Toshiba has won the Town of Smithfield’s business for copier services.

The Town Council voted unanimously to approve a proposal by Finance Director Greg Siler.

The Town’s current contract with Office Systems expires in May.

Siler said numerous concerns had been raised by town employees about the maintenance, training and pricing.

Price quotes were received from four other vendors. While Quality Office was the lowest bidder at $2,224 monthly, Siler recommended the Town give the bid to Toshiba at $2,416 monthly.

Toshiba’s pricing was based solely on price per copy, Siler said. There was no additional charge for equipment leasing or property taxes.

Toshiba will also provide an additional copier and pay off a separate copier lease for the Smithfield Police Department with COECO, valued at $16,385.

Siler believes Toshiba’s proposal could save the Town of Smithfield $16,000 next year.


Clayton High School DECA Chapter Shines At State Competition 


Clayton High School DECA Chapter award recipients on the front row (from left) are Garrick King, Daniel Smith, and Taylor Sauls. On the second row are Graydon King, Rachel West, Callie Boyd, Meredith Cuilla, and Karsen Parker. On the third row are Vance Lanier, Hayden Marquez, and Waylon Howell. On the fourth row are Grayson Byrd, Mason Schiefelbein, and Richard Jimenez. Not pictured is Jack Cawthorn.

The Clayton High School DECA Chapter recently attended the 70th Annual NC DECA Career Development Conference in Greensboro.

Fourteen Clayton High School students received high role play and high test score medallions. The following students received awards: Garrick King, Daniel Smith, Taylor Sauls, Graydon King, Callie Boyd, Meredith Cuilla, Karsen Parker, Rachel West, Vance Lanier, Hayden Marquez, Waylon Howell, Grayson Byrd, Mason Schiefelbein, and Richard Jimenez.

The chapter won a bronze “Chapter of Distinction Award” for their program of work. Six students, Meredith Cuilla, Karsen Parker, Waylon Howell, Richard Jimenez, and Katie Simpson, will go on to compete at the DECA International Career Development Conference in Atlanta in May.

The chapter advisors are Natalie Everett, Kasie Braswell, and Jay Westbrook. 
  

Zebulon Lions Club Recognizes Corinth-Holders Students 

Corinth-Holders Elementary Student Council members stand with the Zebulon Lions Club mascot. From left are school counselor Page Gambill, Dixie Childers, Dakota Grogg, Goreti Espinoza, Brandon Pulley, Macey Mozingo, Tyler Boswell, Leandria Newton, and Chris Keyes.

The Corinth-Holders Elementary School Student Council students have been extremely busy this year. The 14 students, led by school counselor Page Gambill, have facilitated Backpack Buddies, led activities for Red Ribbon Week and No Name-Calling week, made posters for Love the Bus Week, read books to kindergartners and first graders during Read Across America, and served as both role models and classroom helpers throughout the school.

The school’s student council group is sponsored by the local Zebulon Lions Club, which is made up of a group of outstanding community members. The Zebulon Lions Club purchases t-shirts for the student council each year as a way to support young people serving their community.

Recently eight student council members were able to attend a Zebulon Lions Club meeting at their building. Dinner was provided, and the student council members led a presentation on what they do at Corinth-Holders Elementary and their future goals. The students were given little lion stuffed animals to reward their efforts after their dinner with the Lions.

According to Gambill, these students truly represented Corinth-Holders Elementary and demonstrated why they were chosen to help improve the school and community.

 

Four Oaks Woman Arrested
Seven ounces of suspected marijuana along with components commonly used to manufacture methamphetamines were reportedly found in a Four Oaks area home last now. Now an arrest has been made in the case.

Kimberly Holleman Batts, 45, of the 2700 block of NC96 South, was charged Friday with maintaining a place to keep a controlled substance.  She was given a $10,000 bond. 

Officers also seized a number of firearms during the March 21 search of the property, according to Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland.


Arrest Made In 2013 Fraud Case

A Harnett County woman was arrested Sunday in connection with a 2013 credit card fraud case.

Wendy Jessica Partin, 32, of Twelfth Street, Erwin was charged with financial card fraud, a felony.

On March 26, 2013, George Stone of Four Oaks reported his credit card was used without his authorization. 

Partin was arrested Sunday and given a $10,000 bond on the charge.


Man Accused Of Shoplifting Beer, Hot Dogs
A Gaston County man didn’t make it very far after he allegedly stole beer and hotdogs from a Clayton area store on Saturday.

Richard Braxton Hodge, 47, of Bessemer City was arrested in the parking lot of the Grocery Bag on NC42 East at Buffalo Road. 

Hodge allegedly left without paying for the items.

He was charged with misdemeanor shoplifting / concealment of goods. Hodge was released on a $250 bond.

 

School Employee Accused Of Embezzling Money
An employee at a Johnston County elementary school has been suspended following her arrest on embezzlement charges. 

WTSB News has learned Kelly Jean Mills, 36, of Quince Court, Smithfield, an employee at Princeton Elementary School, was arrested Thursday by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and charged with four counts of embezzlement.

Between October 2013 and March 2014, Mills allegedly embezzled $2,610. (Originally authorities said $26,610 in error.)

According to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer with the JCSO, Mills was in charge of collecting money from students and teachers or other outside sources for field trips and other schools funds. Mills allegedly converted the funds to her own personal use.

Mills was released from the Johnston County Jail on a $30,000 bond.

According to Tracey Peedin Jones, spokesperson for Johnston County Schools, Mills was hired in 1999 and most recently was the Head Secretary/Bookkeeper at Princeton Elementary making an annual salary of $29,676.

Jones said, “The school system has high expectations for all employees and takes concerns such as this very seriously.”

Mills was suspended with pay following her arrest. 

 

Superintendent Proposes 12% Increase In Funding From County

Johnston County Schools will be asking the Johnston County Board of Commissioners for more money to operate during the next fiscal year. The total amount proposed in School Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom’s budget proposal is $58,474,275 for the 2014-2015 school year.
The budget, if approved, would include a current expense increase of $4,791,002 and a capital outlay increase of $1,283,273, resulting in a total increase in funding of $6,074,275, a 12 percent increase in funding over the 2013-14 fiscal year budget.

Dr. Ed Croom presented his proposed budget to the Johnston County Board of Education at Wednesday’s school board meeting. The budget must be approved and forwarded to the Board of Commissioners by May 15th.
Among the proposed expenses for next year are: $1,850,129, a 5 percent state increase for employee hospitalization, retirement and Social Security; $403,722, a 2 percent salary increase for Exceptional Children teachers and a $247,126 salary adjustment for local school administrators.
The General Capital Outlay Needs Funds are for furniture, school maintenance and maintenance of the bus fleet.
The school system did not receive capital outlay funds for a three-year period prior to this year.

The school system received just over $52 million in funding for the current fiscal year. They received $52.2 million in funding from County Commissioners during the 2012-13 fiscal year and $49.3 million during the 2011-12 budget.

Johnston County Manager Rick Hester says his proposed budget to County Commissioners will be completed by mid-May. A public hearing on the County budget is set for June 2nd at 10am. Hester also expects commissioners to hold at least two budget work sessions in June. The county budget, including funding for the school system, must be adopted no later than June 30. WTSB Photo


Prominent Doctor Found Dead In Home
Clayton Police have announced they do not suspect foul play in the death of a prominent local physician.

The body of Dr. Kenneth S. Friedman was found in his home at 121 Townsend Drive in the Glen Laurel neighborhood around 10am Thursday. Clayton Police said they responded to the address for a wellness check.
Officers found Friedman unresponsive. The 60 year-old doctor was pronounced dead at the scene.

Town of Clayton spokesperson Stacy Beard tells WTSB News that police are continuing to investigate exactly how Dr. Friedman died but they do not believe foul play was involved.

According to his website, Dr. Friedman trained at SUNY New York at Stony Brook, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, and York University Hospital. 

Dr. Friedman practiced medicine and non-invasive cardiology at Johnston Health.

Chuck Elliott, CEO of Johnston Health said, "Dr. Friedman was a dear friend and co-worker, and we’ll miss him greatly here at Johnston Health. Our staff liked that he was easy going and down to earth, and his patients appreciated that he talked with them in a way that made them feel safe and comfortable."

 

Police Investigating Two Robberies
Smithfield Police are investigating two unrelated robberies. The first robbery happened just before midnight Monday in a parking lot on Pitchi Street.

An 18 year-old Clayton man told officers he was suppose to meet with two girls at that location. When he arrived, Police Lt. R.K. Powell said the teen was met by two male suspects who pistol whipped the victim then took his money.  The suspects then stole his pickup truck, which was later found wrecked and abandoned on Market Street.  Lt. Powell said the victim sustained lacerations to his head due to the assault. The incident remains under investigation.

The second robbery occurred around 6:20am Thursday at the Star Market at 836 West Market Street. A female clerk had just opened the business when a man armed with a small black handgun entered the business and at gunpoint took an undisclosed amount of money.  Lt. Powell described the suspect as a black male, wearing a blue hoodie, brown bandana, and light color pants.  The clerk was not injured.


JCSO Attempting To Identify Burglar
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office is attempting to identify a suspect who broke into a convenience store on Highway 70 taking cell phones.

The burglary happened at 3:25am on Wednesday, April 2 at Mi Casita, located on US70 West of Smithfield at Swift Creek Road.

The suspect, a black male wearing dark clothing, kicked in the front glass door of the business. After making entry he stole several cell phones then fled.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to contact sheriff’s investigators at 919-989-5000. Callers with information can remain anonymous. 

 
Cleveland Requests Recreational Funds From County

Johnston County Commissioners have responded to a request for help from a supporter of the Greater Cleveland Athletics Association.

Attorney Jonathan Breeden (pictured) told commissioners the association served 3,500 children in 2013.

The association is run by a dedicated team of volunteers, Breeden said, and uses many facilities it doesn’t own to serve the children.

He expressed appreciated for C3 Church, which allows the association to use their property for its soccer program.

Breeden said children from Clayton, Smithfield and Wake County participate in the Cleveland recreational programs.

He asked the commissioners to develop a policy which would allow the association to apply to the county for funds for the purchase of land and facilities.

At Monday’s meeting, commissioners adopted an open space fund disbursement policy.

Open space funds may be used to purchase, develop or improve existing or new recreational properties.

Interested organizations may apply to County Manager Rick Hester’s office from July 1st to August 15th. A 5 percent match of the total project cost will be required by the applicant.

Priority will be given to established organizations, including rural athletic associations. WTSB Photo


Duke Energy Progress Requests Rezoning Of South Raiford Street Property
Duke Energy Progress has requested the Town of Selma rezone a property it owns at 809 South Raiford Street from residential to light industrial.

The property was purchased by the former Carolina Power and Light, now Duke Energy Progress, in 1914 and was used for many years as a utility yard.

Planning Director Jack Newman told the Selma Town Council Tuesday that it was a non-conforming use since the property has been zoned residential since the 1970s.

In 2010, the use as a utility yard ceased and any use of the property, Newman said, must be medium-density residential.

This rezoning request would provide the opportunity for a business to use the property as it has traditionally been used.

The Planning Board voted 3 to 2 to recommend the rezoning be approved. The Town planning staff agreed and requested a Tuesday, May 13th public hearing.

After discussion, council approved the request. The public hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Jernigan Building at 106 East Anderson Street. 2006 WTSB File Photo


Williams Completes Basic Training
Air Force Reserve Airman Charnese B. Williams graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

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

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

Williams is the daughter of Charlene Williams of Four Oaks and granddaughter of Lida Leslie of Holly Springs. She is a 2008 graduate of West Johnston High School near Benson.

 

Teen Charged In Incident At Cleveland Business
A Johnston County teen was arrested on several charges following an incident at a Cleveland business Thursday night.  

According to Johnston County deputies, two underage females entered the Star Mart Exxon around 9:30pm and attempted to buy beer. The clerk refused to sell them alcohol because of their age.

That’s when authorities allege, 19 year-old Sierra Dawn Pastrana of Cleveland Road, Garner and a second person knocked over a display case and ran out the front door with a 12 pack of beer. 

Deputies were called and located Pastrana nearby hiding under a boat. 

She was charged with shoplifting, consuming alcohol underage, being intoxicated and disruptive, and damage to property. She was released on a $1,000 bond.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said additional charges are pending against the second suspect.  



Smithfield, Benson And Wilson Receive ElectriCities Awards
The Towns of Smithfield, Benson and Wilson were among 21 public power communities across North Carolina that have received Public Power Awards of Excellence.

ElectriCities of North Carolina presented the awards to the Towns. ElectriCities provides management services to the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency which has 32 member cities, including Smithfield, Benson and Wilson, in eastern North Carolina.

The Smithfield plaques were presented to Town Electric Distribution Superintendent Rodney Johnson by Mayor John Lampe at Tuesday’s Smithfield Town Council meeting.

The three towns received Awards of Excellence in Energy Efficiency, Financial Stability and Service Excellence.
In addition, Benson and Wilson also received the Competitive Business Environment award.

The Energy Efficiency Award recognized efforts by the three towns with energy-efficient building programs, energy education and energy audits.

The Financial Stability Award recognizes customer options throughout the billing process, including: equal payment programs and alternate payment methods.

The Service Excellence award recognizes outstanding efforts by Smithfield, Benson and Wilson to communicate with customers through advertisements, online resources, social media and other community-based methods.

Benson and Wilson received the Competitive Business Environment Award. The award recognizes efforts by the towns to create strong business climates, including economic development planning and community and regional partnering.


First Graduates To Have University of Mount Olive Diploma

Kenly Pastor To Serve As Baccalaureate Speaker

The University of Mount Olive will graduate approximately 320 students at the 60th Spring commencement service on Saturday, May 3rd. The graduation service is set to begin at 2pm in the George and Annie Dail Kornegay Arena. These will be the first graduates to have their diploma from the University. UMO officially changed its name from College to University at the start of the spring 2014 semester.

The commencement speaker for this year’s ceremony will be Congressman G. K. Butterfield, who is the representative for the 1st district of North Carolina.

Serving as the baccalaureate speaker is the Reverend Aubrey Baxter Williamson (pictured) . Williamson is a Wayne County native, and the husband of Campus Chaplain Carla Williamson. Williamson currently serves as the pastor of Kenly Original Free Will Baptist Church in Kenly.

The baccalaureate service is scheduled for 10:30 AM in Southern Bank Auditorium.

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville.

 

Selma Honors Firefighters, 911 Dispatcher For Life Saving Efforts

(Top right) Selma Fire Chief Phillip McDaniel presents a lifesaving medal to 911 dispatcher Jonathan Davis. (Lower right) Selma firemen Brannan Barbee and Brandon Gibbs received medals for their combined actions that saved a man trapped on the second floor of his burning apartment last month. WTSB Photos

Selma Fire Chief Phillip McDaniel honored firefighters and a Johnston County dispatcher for life saving accomplishments at two incidents in March.

Firefighters Brannan Barbee, Brandon Gibbs and Johnston County 911 dispatcher Jonathan Davis received Silver lifesaving medals for their actions during a March 17th house fire with an occupant trapped inside at 813 Lizzie Street.

Chief McDaniel and Mayor Cheryl Oliver presented the medals during Tuesday’s Selma Town Council meeting.
Firefighters Barbee and Gibbs were on the scene within 3 minutes, 51 seconds, McDaniel said.

Davis was on the phone with Ray Almon while he was trapped on the second floor above the fire.

McDaniel said Barbee single handedly deployed a fire hose, forced the front door open and extinguished the fire from the outside. Meanwhile, Gibbs deployed a ladder to the second floor window and helped Almon down the ladder.

The other incident was the March 26th head-on collision on Interstate 95 in which two people were killed and three people pinned in their vehicles.

The Selma Fire Department assisted the Smithfield Fire Department at the scene.

McDaniel said Firefighters Barbee, Zac Peele, Adam Harper and Shawn Ford displayed true heroism when they helped rescue the pinned accident victims.

McDaniel and Oliver presented Barbee, Peele and Harper with unit citations for their actions. Ford was working and unable to attend.


Commissioners Approves Land Purchase For New Middle School
Johnston County Commissioners Monday approved the $377,128 land purchase for the new North Johnston Middle School.

At January’s Board of Education meeting, the school board voted to execute an option to purchase the land from property owner Leland Eugene Batten Jr.

Before land purchases become official, the Board of Commissioners must approve them.

Chief Operations Officer Patrick Jacobs (pictured) told Commissioner Ted Godwin that the 32-acre tract on Oil Company Road across from the Micro Fire Department had passed geotechnical testing and was suitable for construction.

The current North Johnston Middle School will be
converted into an elementary school.


Smithfield Town Council Meetings Will Start Earlier
Effective Tuesday, May 6th, the Smithfield Town Council meetings will start a half-hour earlier at 7pm.

Historically, the town council has met at 7:30pm.
Mayor John Lampe and the Town Council approved the request for the time change by Town Manager Paul Sabiston.

Council meetings typically last about two hours. Mayor Lampe said he would work to reduce the length of the council meetings.


Governor Proclaims April Guardian ad Litem Child Advocate Month
Volunteers recognized for their service to abused and neglected children

The District 11 Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program recently held a swearing-in ceremony in Johnston County for GAL advocates. These volunteer child advocates completed the required training and District Court Judge Paul Holcombe administered the GAL Volunteer Oath.

These GALs will now serve as court appointed advocates for children in Johnston County who have been abused or neglected. Pictured from left to right: Judge Holcombe, Betty Burrier, Ivis Fuentes, Amanda Miller and Marie Mobley, GAL Attorney Advocate.


The month of April is designated as North Carolina Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Child Advocate Month, by proclamation of Governor Pat McCrory.

While appreciating advocates who donated more than 463,000 hours of service during 2013 to children in all 100 counties, GAL Child Advocate Month also highlights the nearly $11 million dollars these volunteers saved the state last year as they, in the proclamation’s words, helped “improve the quality of information presented to the court” and acted as “the court’s eyes and ears in the child’s life.”

The proclamation also serves as a reminder of the immense need for more GAL volunteer advocates throughout the state.

In 2013, 4,824 GAL volunteer advocates served 15,251 children in North Carolina. However, more volunteers are needed to ensure that every child has someone to speak on their behalf. Currently in North Carolina, more than 1,700 children do not have a GAL volunteer to advocate for them in court.

If you have an interest in becoming the voice for a child, contact the Guardian ad Litem GAL office at 919-934-3348. The next training class session begins May 15. The application deadline for the class is May 1. You can also find out more about the program by visiting www.ncgal.org or www.facebook.com/ncGuardianAdLitem