WTSB Headline News

"If It's News... It's On AM-1090 WTSB"

1090 AM ~ Smithfield, NC

Merger Talks Between Smithfield & Selma To Continue April 20th
WTSB News has learned that officials from the Towns of Smithfield and Selma could hold their first joint meeting to discuss a merger as early as April 20th.

The Smithfield Town Council has formed a Town Consolidation Committee that recently met to discuss whether merging one or more departments would have any benefits.

The Selma Town Council discussed the merger during their work session last Thursday night.

If the two towns meet on April 20th, WTSB News has learned the two sides will discuss whether they should jointly hire a third-party consultant to assist and advise both towns on the matter.

Initially, a merger of the towns police departments and fire departments are up for discussion.

Residents in both towns, even council members, question how a merger could work, and whether one town might benefit more than the other. 

Officials stress the discussions are in the early stages and no formal decision has been made.  

Johnston Deputies Continue Murder Probe
Detectives with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office continue to investigate the murder of a Wayne County man.

The body of 25 year-old Dorian Oneal Teachey (pictured left) of Dudley was found beside the roadway in the 1400 block of Yelverton Grove Road, just off US70 east of Smithfield, around 11:30pm Thursday. 

A passing motorist called 911 thinking Teachey may have been the victim of a hit and run. But when deputies arrived they determined he had been shot.

Teachey died a short time after arriving at Wake Medical Center.

Captain A.C. Strickland said investigators have been working “non-stop” since the homicide. Officials have not said where they suspect Teachey was shot, whether it was beside the roadway, in a vehicle, or at another location.  

Anyone who may have information about the fatal shooting is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5000. Callers can remain anonymous.

Arrest Made In Wayne County Homicide
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has charged a 55 year-old man with murder following a homicide in Seven Springs.

Around 6:00am Sunday, deputies responded to an assault call on Al Drive.

The victim, Morris Timothy Holmes, 49, was taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Craig Bernard Melvin, also from Al Drive in Seven Springs, was arrested and charged with murder.

Melvin is being held in the Wayne County Detention Center without bond. A motive for the slaying was not immediately released.

PGI Donates Computers To Benson Library, After School Program

On Friday, the Polymer Group Inc. (PGI) plant in Benson donated 25 refurbished computer terminals and $3,000 for technology upgrades to the Town of Benson.   The computers and funding will primarily be utilized in the Mary Duncan Public Library for improved public access and education. 

Additional terminals will be used by the After School Tutoring program, an effort cooperatively administered by the Partnership for Children of Johnston County and supported by the Town of Benson.

“The Town of Benson is so fortunate to have a community minded partner in PGI.  The most recent donation of technology equipment and funding will have a positive impact on our residents for years to come,” stated Matt Zapp, Town Manager.  “For example, school aged students will be better equipped to learn at our after school tutoring lab.  Adults without internet access will be able to locate and apply for employment opportunities via the public access terminals at the library.”
PGI is a leading global engineered materials company, focused primarily on the production of nonwovens for the hygiene, healthcare, wipes, technical specialties, building and geosynthetics markets.  Locally, they have a manufacturing location situated in the Town of Benson on Chicopee Road.  

Deputies Investigate Armed Robbery
Law enforcement officers are searching for two suspects wanted for an armed robbery near Clayton.  The incident happened at a home in the 2800 block of Old US70 West around 2:00pm.

Johnston County deputies responded to the scene after a white male and black male reportedly went into the victims home and at gunpoint demanded money. 

Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, said one of the suspects placed a gun to the head of a 31 year-old woman inside while demanding an 18 year-old male retrieve money.

No injuries were reported, however the suspects fled with a small amount of cash and two cellphones.

Clayton Police also responded to the scene.

Shots Fired Near School Prompts Lockdown
A lockdown at Eastern Wayne Middle School was lifted around 1pm Monday after shots were fired near the school a short time earlier.

Goldsboro Police said shots were fired from a moving vehicle towards another vehicle in the parking lot of the 5 Star Discount about 11:45am. The business is located across from Eastern Wayne Middle.

After hearing the gunfire, school personnel initiated the lockdown. A uniformed Goldsboro Police Officer also happened to be on the school campus and made sure the campus was secure.

There were no injuries reported at the business or at the school.

Goldsboro Police are still investigating the incident.  

JCSO: Marijuana Found In Inmates Mouth
A Selma man is facing charges following an incident in the Johnston County Jail Sunday night.

Pine Level Police arrested Joseph Delton Mitchell, 44, of Old Creech Road, Selma for driving while impaired and driving on a revoked license.

While being processed into the Johnston County Jail, a jailor reportedly detected an odor of marijuana on Mitchell. During a thorough search, a “green ball” of suspected marijuana was found in his mouth, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

Mitchell allegedly swallowed some of the suspected marijuana while the jailor was able to retrieve a small amount.

Mitchell was charged with possession of a controlled substance on jail premises, a felony.

Bail was set at $2,500 for DWI and $25,000 for the controlled substance charge.

Woodard Sworn In As President Of NC Association Of County Clerks

(Left to right) Jennifer Slusser, County Attorney - Tommy Woodard, (Ms. Woodard's husband) -  Paula Woodard - DeVan Barbour, Johnston County Board Vice-Chairman - Tony Braswell, Johnston County Board Chairman - Rick Hester, County Manager - and Dana Cuddington, Deputy Clerk to the Board.

Paula Woodard, Clerk to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, was sworn in as President of the NC Association of County Clerks to Boards of County Commissioners on Saturday night in Burlington.

The event was held at the Association's 2015 Annual Conference that was co-hosted by Alamance and Caswell Counties.  As President, Woodard will serve a one year term for the Association.

Eagle Scout Receives Good Citizenship Award
On Saturday, an Eagle Scout from Boy Scout Troop 95 in Smithfield received the Eagle Scout Good Citizenship Award from Lewis W. Rice III, the Eagle Scout Coordinator for the Johnston County Marine Corps League Carry-On Detachment #1236.

Paul Douglas Eldridge, son of Paula Woodall and Terry Eldridge of Smithfield, also earned the Hometown USA Award in 2013 for his service project of installing a bird sanctuary at West Smithfield Elementary School.

For his Eagle Scout project this year, Paul created an outdoor classroom / rewards area in the courtyard at Four Oaks Middle School where he currently attends as an eighth grade honor student. Paul is one of only 5 young men in all of Johnston County to have earned the rank of Eagle Scout at age 13.

The Eagle Scout Good Citizenship Award is the Johnston County Marine Corps League’s way of recognizing young men such as Paul for earning Scouting’s highest award as an Eagle Scout.

Dr. Seuss Inspires Wacky Hats At West Smithfield Elementary

Principal Bridgette Spaulding (left) talks with the students wearing wacky Dr. Seuss inspired hats. Beside her (from left) are kindergarten students Dazie Sutton, Angel Carranza, Jonny Nava, Ahtziry Galindo and DeMarion Hicks.

Mrs. Lee King's kindergarten class at West Smithfield Elementary spent a few weeks in March studying Dr. Seuss as part of National Reading Awareness Month.

Dr. Seuss was the author of over 45 children's books, including The Cat in the Hat, Fox in Socks and There's a Wocket in my Pocket. Through the study the students learned that Dr. Seuss liked to wear wacky hats because he felt they were transformational and inspired imagination. 

Also in March the class studied 3D shapes such as the cube, rectangular prism, cone, sphere, cylinder, and pyramid. So as a way to combine their studies each child in the class created their own wacky Dr. Seuss inspired hat made of 3D shapes. 

Culminating activities included a hat parade to share their creations and a birthday party for Seuss' birthday complete with Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Popcorn and Pink Ink Yink Drink.


Over 50 People Charged In Operation March Madness

(Photos) Smithfield Police detain several people on Blount Street Friday as part of Operation March Madness. WTSB Photo

Operation March Madness 2015.  It’s not the NCAA basketball tournament but the name of an undercover drug investigation conducted by Smithfield Police for the past year.

Early Friday, Smithfield Police began rounding up over 50 suspects from the Smithfield and surrounding areas who will face a combined total of more than 320 charges.

Police said the suspects were primarily street level drug dealers who had allegedly been selling prescription pills, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, MDMA, and meth.
Police Captain R.K. Powell said the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Clayton Police Department, and NC Probation & Parole Officers assisted with the yearlong investigation.

Body Found In Sampson County Home
The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating what caused the death of a 51 year-old woman.

Around 3pm Thursday, relatives of the victim called 911 after discovering the woman’s body in a residence on Moore’s Bridge Road outside of Rose Hill.

Authorities said two family members became concerned about the woman and after going to the residence to check on her welfare discovered her body.

Sampson County sheriff’s detectives have not released the name of the victim pending notification of family members out of state. 

Man Shot In East Smithfield
Smithfield Police are investigating a shooting Thursday afternoon that injured a Raleigh man.

Twenty-seven year-old Robert Jackson was walking on Blount Street near Martin Street around 4:15pm when officers said he was approached by several people.  During a confrontation a shot was fired from a handgun and Jackson received a minor injury from a bullet wound.

Jackson was transported to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact Smithfield Police Detective R. Johnson at 919-934-2121 or the Smithfield Police Tip Line at 919-989-8835.

Elderly Woman Scammed Out Of $15,000
Smithfield Police are working with US Postal Inspectors to try and recover $15,000 an elderly woman mailed to a sweepstakes scam this week. 

The 82 year-old woman was contacted by phone and told she was the $1 million winner of a Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes.  The caller claimed that before she could claim her prize she needed to mail in $15,000 to begin the process of claiming her prize.

The victim did as she was told. However, after relatives discovered the money missing from her account, they notified police. 

Police Captain R.K. Powell said the check was mailed to an address in Texas.  Powell said he was hopeful the letter could be intercepted by US Postal Inspectors who are also assisting with the investigation.

Police encourage citizens to be caution when contacted about sweepstakes or other promises of money, especially if you have to pay any money to receive your prize. 

Man Accused Of Threatening To Kill Girlfriend
A 21 year-old man was arrested Thursday night after he allegedly pointed a weapon at his girlfriend and threatened to kill her, according to Smithfield Police.

Officers were called to an address on Sussex Drive after the 23 year-old victim reported the incident.

Police located the suspect a short time later in the 1100 block of North Brightleaf Boulevard and took him into custody.

Brian Irving Piedra, 23, of Sussex Drive, Smithfield was charged with assault by pointing a gun and assault on a female. At the time of his arrest, Piedra was wanted for failing to appear in court recently for a DWI charge.

According to a police report, a 9mm handgun, pellet gun, ammunition, and a holster were seized.

Teen Wearing Only Underwear Caught In Backyard Of Strangers Home
A Kenly teenager was arrested Friday morning after reportedly being caught in the backyard of a home dressed in only his underwear.

Around 1:15am, a resident in the 10000 block of Covered Bridge Road, Zebulon heard a noise outside their home and went to investigate.

The homeowner reportedly found 17 year-old Dylan Lee Glover in his backyard.  The homeowner held the teen at gunpoint until deputies arrived.

When officers arrived, Glover reportedly struggled with deputies before he could be handcuffed, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

Glover reportedly told deputies he had been drinking liquor all day and didn’t remember much, but thought he was walking near his home, which was more than 20 miles away.

Glover was charged with resisting a public officer.

JCSO: DWI Suspect Found Asleep Behind Wheel 
A DWI suspect was arrested Friday morning while sitting in the middle of Highway 42 near NC96 outside of Selma.

Around 1:24am, a deputy on patrol spotted a white Lexus in the middle of the roadway and stopped to check on the driver.

The deputy reportedly found 29 year-old Chester Alvas Best Jr., of Durham Street, Smithfield in the drivers seat, slumped over the steering wheel, asleep.  Officers said the vehicle was still running and Best had his foot on the brake pedal.

Officers said they had to shaken Best before he awoke. 

Best later registered 0.11 on the Breathalyzer, above the legal limit of 0.08, officials said.

Best was charged with driving while impaired. He was given a $1,500 bond.

Local Bailbondsman Helps Capture Murder Suspect

Gasper Nunez, 27, of Angier has been arrested in the 2011 Thanksgiving Day murder of 25-year-old Shawn Brandon Scott of Angier.

While the details on what broke the more than three-year-old case are still unclear, more details are available about Mr. Nunez’s arrest.

William Torres is one of the bondsmen who brought Mr. Nunez in early Monday morning.  “We came across him several times,” Mr. Torres said. “We were after him for probation violations, and we come to find out he’s wanted on murder charges. We made it a priority.”

Torres said Phoenix Bail Bonds of Smithfield, the company he owns, spent about a month investigating Mr. Nunez and two weeks tracking him down.  “We had to stay on him hot because we were afraid he’d find out about the more serious charges,” Mr. Torres said. “We didn’t mention the charge, his family didn’t even know about it.”

According to Mr. Torres, Mr. Nunez was wanted on probation violations and hadn’t come in to his office to clear things up. Mr. Nunez was on probation from convictions in Harnett and Johnston counties for drugs, break-ins and thefts, among other crimes.

“We weren’t going to go off on his bond if he’d just had a job that took him out of state and then he’d be back,” Mr. Torres said. “But we kept waiting and waiting, he wouldn’t come in.”

Torres decided to look into Mr. Nunez more closely, and that’s when he discovered the murder indictment from Harnett County.

“We’re in the business to make money, but if we can get someone who’s a threat to the public, we make a point to look for them,” Mr. Torres said. “If I come looking for you, it’s not gonna be fun for you, I don’t want to be responsible for someone’s murder.”

Torres said no one got hurt while the bondsmen were detaining Mr. Nunez.

“We found him in a singlewide way out in the country in Angier,” Mr. Torres said. “He was laying in the bed with the girlfriend, and she had a small child. So using guns was an issue and a taser was an issue.”

Mr. Torres said he and Eddie Brantham, another bondsman, “muscled” Mr. Nunez down, blocking him in the trailer.

“Once we had him in the hallway, he got down,” Mr. Torres said. “We had two deputies from the sheriff’s office there who we knew could intercept him if he got past us.”

Mr. Torres said his company had tracked Mr. Nunez down to South Carolina and to Dunn before they caught him in Angier.

“We found him in South Carolina, but we couldn’t get the law there to cooperate with us,” Mr. Torres said. “We relocated him in Dunn, but by the time we got there he was already running.”

According to Mr. Torres, Mr. Nunez didn’t know about his murder indictment. “We didn’t tell him in the car or anything,” he said. “We waited ’til we got to the sheriff’s office and I said, ‘Here’s a surprise for you.’ He was real mad about that.”

Mr. Nunez had been indicted by a Harnett County Grand Jury Feb. 9 for murder and attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, but the warrants went unserved until Monday.

Shawn Scott, the victim in the murder, was gunned down in his home on Packhouse Court, just off Oak Grove Church Road, Thanksgiving Day of 2011.

His family had been waiting for them to join them at Walmart in Fuquay-Varina to go Christmas shopping, but he never showed up.  When they went to check on him they discovered his body.  Courtesy The Daily Record

A Taste Of Johnston County Moonshine
Broadslab Distillery opens new tasting room, souvenir shop

(Right): Broadslab Distillery owner Jeremy Norris and his wife Shelly, center, cut the ribbon at the distillery's tasting room along N.C. 50 outside Benson.The location will act as a hub to sample Broadslab's products as well as a souvenir shop. Also pictured from left are Sharon Stevens with the Dunn Area Tourism Authority, Deborah Davis, Benson Chamber Vice President John Wood, Jenna Hinman, Evelyn Aranda and Benson Town Manager Matt Zapp. Photo and story courtesy The Daily Record

Benson celebrated a milestone last week. A crowd of local officials, chamber of commerce representatives, commissioners and area business owners met along N.C. 50, just outside town, to celebrate moonshine - the polarizing elixir some call the lifeblood of Johnston County’s Broadslab community.
A ribbon cutting was held for the new Broadslab Distillery tasting room - a hallowed hall dedicated to the legal production of moonshine within the onceprominent bootlegging district.

Dial the time machine back 50 years and all those town officials posing for a picture with the snipped ribbon would have been standing in front of a dismantled liquor still - a fact not lost on attendees.

“I’ve never seen so many new faces at a ribbon cutting,” quipped Benson Chamber Vice President John Wood.

“(Benson commissioner) Will Chandler, I’m not sure you’ve ever been to a ribbon cutting!”

Mr. Chandler carried on the observation.

“I’ve been to several stills in my lifetime,” he said, referencing his time as a firefighter. “But never a legal one - this is going to bring a lot of people into Johnston County and into Benson.”

Broadslab Distillery founder Jeremy Norris was on hand to show people around his new tasting room, which he opened out of necessity. What started as a relatively low-key business in 2012 is quickly gaining notoriety. making a name for itself in a crowded spirits market. 
Broadslab’s moonshine and rum is currently available in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Upstate New York.

The whiskey connoisseurs that drove Mr. Norris to expedite his plans for another facility are also the ones driving sales and boosting name recognition. With the official opening of the Broadslab tasting room on Thursday, the young distillery will join Johnston County’s Beer, Wine and Shine Trail,  a checklist for tourists of local breweries, vineyards and, in Mr. Norris’ case, stills.

However, it’s not all about sales and tours and orders. Mr. Norris is adamant about preserving Broadslab’s rebellious history and it shows in nearly every one of his decisions , the tasting room, for example, was once his grandfather’s home.

According to Mr. Norris, the late Leonard Wood was the spiritual inspiration for the distillery. 

“He was farming and making moonshine, but he decided to quit and join the Raleigh Fire Department around 1950, because he was having a lot of run-ins and close calls. He had a couple of children that were young. He always told me that’s why he left the farm and got a job as a firefighter,” he told The Daily Record in 2012. 

“He said that if he stayed in it he would probably end up pulling time, because his brother went to jail because of it.”

Due to state liquor laws, Norris can’t technically sell his moonshine on site. 

“The tasting is free,” he said. “What we’re going to do for $12 you’ll get a tour of the distillery and a shot glass.”

T-shirts, hats and other Broadslab- branded items are also available on site. The tasting room is located down the road from the distillery at 4870 N.C. 50 South, just outside Benson.

Parole Commission Considering Release Of Former Kenly Man Who Killed 3 People
The NC Parole Commission will decide in April if a former Kenly man convicted of killing three people in a traffic accident should be released from prison.

Arthur Lee Hinnant was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury in September 2002.  He was sentenced to 40 years in the NC Department of Corrections, but because the crime occurred prior to a new sentencing law that began in October 1994, Hinnant is now eligible for parole.

On April 23, 1994, Hinnant, who was then 40, and living on West Fourth Street in Kenly, was driving his Hyundai on Highway 222 near Kenly. Prosecutors said he was under the influence of cocaine.

His vehicle crossed the centerline and slammed head-on into a Ford operated by Chrystal Michelle Hathaway, 19, of Pinetops.  Hathaway and her mother, Mary Wade Hathaway, 40, and aunt Barbara Wade Corbett, 37, also of Pinetops were killed. Corbett’s son, David Wayne Corbett, who was 9, was taken to Johnston Memorial Hospital then airlifted to Duke Medical Center.

A passenger in Hinnant’s car, Willie Mackelin Forsythe of Kenly, was also airlifted to Duke. Both Corbett and Forsythe survived.

Hinnant was initially charged with 3 counts of manslaughter but because of serious head injuries he suffered in the 1994 crash he was declared mentally unfit to stand trial.  Tom Lock, who was the Johnston County District Attorney at the time, dropped the charges.

Hinnant moved to Massachusetts so his relatives could care for him. However, family members of the victims continued to push Lock to prosecute the case. Several months later, Lock recharged Hinnant, but this time with three counts of second-degree murder.

Hinnant fought extradition to NC until a Massachusetts judge ruled in 2000 he was competent to stand trial.  In July 2002, Hinnant entered an Alford plea to the charges in Johnston County Court. The plea meant Hinnant did not admit guilty but did acknowledge there was sufficient evidence again him to be found guilty.

Hinnant has never received any infractions since his incarceration in 2002. Originally sent to Central Prison, Hinnant is now at Odom Correctional Institution in Jackson, NC, where he is held in minimum security.

In the North Carolina parole process, inmates do not meet face to face in a meeting with the parole commissioners, according to Keith Acree, spokesperson with the NC Department of Public Safety. “The commissioners review all available records, paper and electronic, and solicit input from interested parties who support or oppose the inmate's parole.  Those parties including family, friends, victims, prosecutors, investigators etc. can provide input in writing or in a personal meeting with a commissioner,” Acree said.

The Commission is expected to render a decision in the case by late-April. 

Graham Peace Recognized For Overcoming Obstacles
An employee at a Smithfield business was recognized this month in a NC Department of Health and Human Services newsletter.

Graham Peace works at the Lowe’s Home Improvement store on North Brightleaf Boulevard.

In 2000, Graham was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). By 2005 he needed a cane to walk.  His mobility continued to deteriorate and he moved to a walker then to a wheelchair in 2007.   His coordination and dexterity in his hands also diminished, but his cognitive functioning remained intact.

Because MS brought fatigue and hindered his ability to work, Graham sought assistance from the N.C. Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS). His experience in sales/customer service and a combination of accommodations, a good working environment and an understanding supervisor would allow him to work in that capacity again, according to the newsletter.  

He started using a rented manual wheelchair, but that required his wife’s assistance until 2009. That was when the DVRS assisted him with the purchase of a power wheelchair and accessories. Without this device, he would have continued to have limited means of mobility.
DVRS and its Independent Living Rehabilitation Program (ILRP) also assisted Graham with locating an appropriate vehicle and helped with the installation of modifications that allowed him to drive independently and safely. ILRP counselor Reynold Barco helped Graham obtain a Hoyer lift, bathroom modifications and a home ramp.

DVRS staff became concerned about his stamina, so DVRS decided to explore a community-based assessment to get an idea of his work abilities and tolerances.

Dunn Regional Office staff members Scott Daniel, Eddie Culp and Hadiya Abduk-Khaliq and Johnston County Industries helped Graham improve his job search and in 2014, he was hired by Lowe’s in Smithfield, where he has shined ever since.

Lowe’s staff describes Graham as a welcome spirit to the store, where everyone truly cares about him. He has developed a reputation for being knowledgeable, approachable and friendly as he helps customers locate items in store. Customers often come in and ask specifically for him to assist them.

Pauline Haislip of Lowe’s Human Resources stated that Graham is an asset with a great personality, and she “couldn’t imagine not having him to work” at the store. She added that the employees look to him for assistance in their work by seeking his advice.

Graham says he doesn’t work for the money, he does it because he wants to be there and his work reflects his enthusiasm.

If you or someone you know has a disability or need assistance finding and maintaining a job or living safely and independently in your home, contact DVRS at: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dvrs/contacts.htm

Smithfield Utilities Director Resigns
Friday was the last day on the job for Smithfield Public Utilities Director Ken Griffin.

Griffin resigned to accept a job as County Administrator for King William County, Virginia.

Griffin told WTSB News it will allow him to relocate closer to his wife, who lives in Williamsburg, VA.

He had been in Smithfield just over a year, replacing former utilities director Earl Botkin who left Smithfield to accept a job in Kinston.

Former Smithfield Town Manager Pete Connet has been appointed the interim utilities director on a part-time basis until a full-time replacement for Griffin can be found. Connet also served as the interim director after Botkin left. 

Griffin says he will miss Smithfield, especially the town staff he’s gotten to work with.  “The employees are absolutely wonderful. It’s the best group I’ve ever gotten to work with. They are so capable.”

Griffin has 25 years in municipal leadership positions.

When the opportunity opened up to be closer to his wife, Connie, their 2 daughters, and 3 young grandchildren, he said it was something he could not pass up.

”I’m really proud of working with the council and town manager to make a lot of improvements in the water treatment plant, water and sewer system.”  WTSB File Photo

Johnston 10th Fastest Growing County In NC

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday on where the heaviest population growth in North Carolina was concentrated last year.

The fastest-growing county in North Carolina between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, was Brunswick County, whose population rose 3.1 percent over the period. Brunswick County was followed by Chatham County (2.9 percent), Union County (2.8 percent), Wake County (2.4 percent) and Cabarrus County (2.4 percent).

With respect to numerical growth, Wake County added 23,667 people over the period, more than any other county in the state. It was followed by Mecklenburg County, which grew by 20,025 people, Durham County (6,217), Union County (5,872) and Guilford County (5,166).

Mecklenburg County remains the most populous county in North Carolina, with 1,012,539 residents, followed by Wake County (998,691) and Guilford County (512,119).

Johnston County was ranked 10th on the list of the fastest growing NC counties based on percentage of increase.

Johnston’s population increased from an estimated 178,000 in 2013 to 181,423 in 2014, an increase of 3,423 people, a 1.9% population gain.  

Tyrell County has the smallest population of any county in NC with 4,115 residents, up 10 from 4,105 in 2013. 

The report indicated the state’s population grew by 95,047 people from 9,848,917 to 9,943,964.  

This information is based on annual population estimates for each of the nation’s counties, county equivalents, metropolitan statistical areas, and micropolitan statistical areas since the 2010 Census and up to July 1, 2014.

West Johnston Senior Named Morehead Scholar

West Johnston senior and UNC Morehead-Cain Scholar Melanie Langness (left) stands with Principal Paula Coates (right).

West Johnston High School senior Melanie Langness has been named a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

The selection process for the Morehead-Cain is extremely rigorous, with less than three percent of each year's nominees selected as Morehead-Cain Scholars. High school seniors demonstrating exceptional impact and academic achievement from North Carolina and schools across the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and various other countries are eligible for the prestigious scholarship. 

Langness competed against 126 other finalists at the end of March on the UNC campus. Participants attended classes, panels, and a formal banquet. Part of the final process also required a final set of two 20-minute interviews with six judges.

The four-day weekend gave Langness the chance to not just compete with other finalists but a glimpse into her future. 

“Finals weekend was amazing,” said Langness. “Meeting the other finalists gave me the opportunity to make new friends, talk about interesting subjects with some incredibly intelligent people. Attending classes and panels the foundation set up gave me a feel of what college is going to be like and a taste of the unbelievable opportunities the scholarship entails.”

Langness was notified recently that she won the scholarship.

“I was feeling unconfident about my chances of getting the scholarship, so when I clicked on the application and saw congratulations I choked up and started crying hysterically,” said Langness. “Once I calmed down I casually walked into my mom’s room and told her she didn’t have to pay for college. Then I cried some more.”

According to the official Morehead-Cain Scholarship website Moreheadcain.org the merit based scholar committee looks for candidates for whom knowledge is about more than grades and test scores, and for whom learning is an appetite rather than a means to an end.

Langness is currently ranked as salutatorian. She also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Scratchpost online newspaper and Senior class Vice-President. Her plans include double majoring in journalism and global studies and working toward correct representation of the cultural implications behind current events in today’s popular media. 

Langness is most excited about the summer enrichment opportunities that the scholarship provides. 

“My first summer is outdoor leadership. Right now I am considering the option of backpacking in the Canadian Yukon for 30 days. It will be surreal to have all these opportunities for travel and personal growth,” said Langness. “I have never been out of the country before.”

“It’s a dream come true,” she added. 

Principal Dr. Paula Coates said she wasn’t surprised.

“Melanie is a strong student with very high standards for academic success and more importantly, personal integrity,” said Coates. “I am very proud of her and excited for her to have earned this opportunity that will continue to benefit her in life’s journey. 

Morehead-Cain Scholars are chosen on the basis of leadership, academic achievement, moral force of character and physical vigor. The scholarship covers all expenses for four years of undergraduate study at UNC-Chapel Hill including a stipend for a laptop computer. In addition, it features a distinctive program of summer enrichment experiences. Over four summers, scholars will have the opportunity to complete an outdoor leadership course, carry out public service in the United States or abroad, conduct research at sites across the world, and finally gain experience in private enterprise.

Selma American Legion Honors Police Department

Members of the Selma American Legion recently recognized the Selma Police Department.

Legion Post 141 members appeared before the Selma Town Council to present a plaque to the police department thanking them for their dedication and service to the community.

Mark Peterson, post commander, (far right) said the Selma Police Department does outstanding work. 

Police Captain R. L. Daniels (second from right) accepted the plaque on behalf of the police department. WTSB Photo

Shots Fired Into Smithfield Home
Shots were fired into a Smithfield-area home Wednesday night.

Around 11:45pm, Johnston County deputies responded to a call in the 900 block of Barbour Road.

At least two rounds from a 45-caliber gun were fired into the home. One bullet struck a mirror and the second landed in a pile of clothes.

Three people, ages 17, 22, and 60, were inside the residence.

The victims said they did not hear any vehicles or anything suspicious prior to the shots being fired.

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the incident. No injuries were reported. 

Woman Accused Of Spraying Mace On Two People
A Pitt County woman was arrested Wednesday night after she alleged maced two people at a home near Selma.

Wynetta Evette Carwell, 25, of Greenville was at a home on Godwin Lane near Selma visiting acquaintances when she alleged became upset, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

Carwell then sprayed two people at the home with mace.

The victims, ages 25 and 40, were treated at the scene by EMS personnel but were not taken to the hospital.

Carwell was charged with two counts of simple assault. 

Kenly Man Arrested By Selma Police
Selma Police arrested a Kenly man on prescription pill charges after being called to a disturbance.

Officers responded to the A-Mart on North Pollock Street Tuesday night. Before they arrived, the person allegedly causing the disturbance had left the scene.

Police said they located the individual, Bradley Vann Jones of Hickory Crossroads Road, a short distance away on Lizzie Street.

Police allegedly found 21 does of adderall, 3 doses of alprazolam, and one dose of zolpidem in his possession along with suspected drug paraphernalia.  Authorities said Jones did not have prescriptions for the medications.

Jones was charged with three misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance, one felony count of possession with intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance, and one misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Bail was set at $25,000. 


Trooper Involved In Crash
A Johnston County state trooper was involved in a crash Wednesday morning.

Trooper Daniel Sharpe was in his patrol car sitting stationary on the eastbound shoulder of Covered Bridge Road around 6:42am when he observed a car exceeding the posted speed limit.

The trooper activated his emergency equipment and attempted to travel westbound, but turned into the path of a car driven by Corrie Jermaine Whitley, of Barnes Road, Middlesex.

After the impact, both cars came to rest on the shoulder of the roadway.

Both Trooper Sharpe and Whitley received minor injuries but were not transported to the hospital by ambulance.

No charges were filed. Photos by John Payne

Corinth Holders Names New Varsity Football Coach
Corinth Holders High School announced Wednesday that Coach Guy “Bubba” Williams will be the second varsity football coach in school history. 

Coach Williams comes to Corinth Holders after six seasons as the varsity head coach at Eastern Wayne High School. The last two seasons, his Eastern Wayne teams have lost in the 3A Eastern Regional finals. 

Williams is a 2003 undergraduate and 2005 master’s graduate of East Carolina University, where he lettered in football and was a team captain.

Prior to becoming a head coach at Eastern Wayne, he was an assistant at New Bern High School for four seasons. Williams played for his dad, Chip, at New Bern High and also coached under him for two seasons. 

Coach Williams and his wife, Meredith, have two children, a son, Guy, age 4, and a daughter, Campbell, age 2.

Williams follows Coach Barry Honeycutt at Corinth Holders. Coach Honeycutt, who is retiring from teaching in June, led Corinth Holders to a share of a 3A Two Rivers Conference championship this past season and its first ever playoff win.

PHOTO: Corinth Holders High School varsity football Coach Guy Williams.

Princeton Basketball Court Renamed To Honor Former Coach 

On Saturday night, at halftime of the Princeton Alumni game, Princeton High School honored former Coach Rick Boyette.

The basketball court was formally named “Coach Rick Boyette Court” after the Johnston County Board of Education recently approved the renaming request.  The Princeton Bulldog Booster Club was also instrumental in getting the court renamed.

Boyette, who started his career at Princeton in 1971, offered many thanks to all his former players and the booster club.

Coach Boyette taught and coached at Princeton High School for 38 years. His final record in basketball was 501 wins and 148 losses. Coach Boyette was inducted into the Princeton Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Johnston County Hall of Fame in 2012.

He was the Varsity Girls Basketball Head Coach for 24 years, Varsity Softball Head Coach for 12 years, and Varsity Boys Basketball Head Coach for 8 years.   Boyette was also named the Coach of the Year nine times.

He also assisted over 30 athletes in gaining college scholarships, including 17 female basketball players.  Contributed photo

Karen Lee Named Clayton Super Star Teacher

(Left to right)  Martha Stovall, Chamber Ambassador;   Dolores Gill, West Clayton Elem Principal;  Karen Lee, Super Star Teacher;  Princess Jasmine, Wishes & Wands Events; Hannah Pellas,  Wishes & Wands Events;  Donna White, Johnston County School Board; and Jazz Woodard, Chamber Ambassador

The Clayton Chamber of Commerce has named Karen Lee as the Super Star Teacher of the Month for March. 

Super Star teachers demonstrate excellence and leadership in their classroom, creativity and motivation of their students and show a high level of commitment to our community.

Lee has a passion for not only her students but also for computers and technology.  Her classroom uses Chrome Books to research topics and for many learning activities.  She is the Digital Learning Coach at West Clayton School, which means she teaches her fellow teachers about using 21st century technology.  Ms Lee enjoys sparking the interest of her students with new ideas, new hands-on activities and new challenges.  She has a passion for teaching and shows dedication every day.

Woman Who Reported Vehicle Stolen Arrested
A Johnston County resident was arrested Tuesday for allegedly filing a false police report.

Adeline Carter Reeves, 56, of Ridge Road, Angier, a western Johnston County address, called the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office to report her Dodge Durango had been stolen by a relative.

Authorities later determined the vehicle had been involved in an accident hours earlier.

Reeves was arrested for filing a false police report. She was given a $1,000 bond on the misdemeanor charge.   

Second Person Charged With Child Abuse

A second person has been charged with child abuse in connection with an incident March 4th.

On that date, Johnston County deputies were asked to assist social workers check on the welfare of a child reportedly staying in a camper off Lee Road outside of Clayton.

Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland said deputies found used needles inside the camper near a baby crib and where a 1 year-old baby had been crawling.
Jeffrey Ryan Dayton Smith, 30, of Penwood Road, Willow Spring was arrested that day and charged with child abuse. He was wanted at the time of his arrest for probation violation, Captain Strickland said.

On March 21st, a second person, Mindy Marie Rains, 30, of Lee Road, Clayton was charged with child abuse.  She was also wanted at the time of her arrest for failing to appear in court on a financial card fraud case. 

Social workers took custody of the 1 year-old found in the camper on March 4th.    

Johnston County Maintains Excellent Bond Ratings
Johnston County government’s strong bond ratings (AA+ and Aa2) were recently affirmed by Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s Investor’s Service in advance of the upcoming $18 million bond sale from the November 2013 bond referendums.

For the second consecutive year, Moody’s Investor’s Service placed a positive outlook on the County’s rating, which could bode well for an upgrade in the near future.
Bond ratings are a measure indicating the likelihood that the County will be able to meet scheduled interest and principal repayments.

Tony Braswell, Chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners (pictured) stated, “Strong bond ratings are critical, because it results in lower borrowing costs for the County.”

Students Open Food Pantry At SSS

Emma Lampe (left) and Emma Szczesiul (right) sort through dozens of grocery bags full of non-perishable food items for the SSS Food Pantry.

As part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Smithfield-Selma High School, students are encouraged to participate in service learning projects to fulfill a need they see either within the school setting or in the community.  

During their freshman and sophomore years, the IB students at SSS volunteered their time to the “back pack buddies” program. This year, however, IB students Emma Lampe and Emma Szczesiul started the first ever SSS Food Pantry for students and families who do not have an adequate food supply at home.  

“We started the food pantry in an effort to help every one of our peers get access to the most basic human right and alleviate the stigma surrounding not having enough and needing help at home,” said Emma Lampe.

During the initial start-up, Lampe and Szczesiul reached out to the community for help. Both young ladies contacted local grocery stores and community members for assistance; they also created a simple form so that families could identify the need as well as inform the food pantry students of any allergies and specific needs. 

The student-driven project was a success because of the help from the community. In all, Lampe and Szczesiul collected hundreds of non-perishable items and were able to fill the shelves of the food pantry. 

“As a teacher, I am very proud that my students took the initiative, not only to identify issues that our students face, but also to create a solution,” said Cynthia Hutchings, IB advisor. 

Throughout the course of the school year, SSS students and families who are struggling to keep food on the table are encouraged to fill out an anonymous application in Student Services. On Fridays, students involved with the food pantry help pack the anonymous bags, leaving them with counselors for pick up. 

“Our biggest hope is that the SSS Food Pantry will impact every student at SSS- both those receiving and those volunteering their time,” said Szczesiul. 

In order to keep the shelves of the food pantry full, Lampe and Szczesiul are asking the community for donations towards the cause. 

Alcohol, Speed Factors In NC231 Crash

Troopers say that speed and alcohol were both factors in a serious single car crash in northern Johnston County.

Anthony Allen Jr., 31, of Zebulon was traveling southbound on Highway 231 around 2:13am Saturday when he ran off the roadway and struck a tree.

Allen was trapped inside the mangled wreckage for 30 minutes before he was cut free by emergency workers.

According to the NC Highway Patrol, Allen was traveling at an estimated 70mph in a 55mph zone at the time his car ran off the roadway.  Troopers also suspect alcohol was involved.

Allen was not wearing a seat belt, authorities said.

He was charged with driving while impaired, driving on a revoked license, having an container of alcohol, and failing to maintain lane control.

Trooper H.D. Nazal investigated the single vehicle accident.  Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com 

New Guardian ad Litem Advocates Sworn In
The District 11 Guardian ad Litem Program held a swearing-in ceremony in Smithfield on March 18th for volunteer child advocates in Johnston County. 

The volunteers completed the required advocate training and the Honorable District Court Judge Paul Holcombe administered the GAL Volunteer Oath. 

The volunteers will now serve as court appointed advocates for children who have been abused and/or neglected.

Pictured from left to right:  Judge Holcombe, Sarah Borland, Latoshia Anderson and Marie Mobley, Attorney Advocate for Harnett and Johnston County.

A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a trained community member appointed by a district court judge to investigate and determine the needs of abused and neglected youth petitioned into the court system by the Department of Social Services.  The GAL works with program staff and an attorney advocate to represent the child’s best interest in court. District 11 serves Harnett, Johnston, and Lee Counties.

If you have an interest in becoming the voice for a child, contact the Guardian ad Litem program at 910-814-4690 or 919-934-3348.  The next training class will begin in April. Please submit application by April 1, 2015. You can also find out more about the program by visiting www.ncgal.org or www.facebook.com/ncGuardianAdLitem.

JCC’s Woodstock Family Fun Event Set For April 18 

Johnston Community College’s Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center is making plans for its seventh Howell Woodstock event on Saturday, April 18.

Howell Woodstock offers many free fun activities for the family from 1 until 8 p.m., including fishing, hayrides, environmental educational programs, star gazing, nature walks, live music, and a bonfire with s ’mores. The event will feature a variety of educational programs and booths related to conservation and green living, as well as reptile and birds of prey displays at the learning center. This year’s event includes recreational activities such as a rock climbing wall and inflatables. Local vendors will also have food and drinks for sale.

“This year marks our seventh Woodstock event, and we are excited to once again be offering this family-fun day out at Howell Woods,” says Jordan Astoske, director. “This is such a beautiful time of year on the Howell Woods property, and we hope folks will come out and bring their families and have a great time with us.”

Howell Woods is a unique 2,800-acre natural resource located at 6601 Devil’s Racetrack Road in the Bentonville community of southeastern Johnston County. Howell Woodstock will be held rain or shine.

For more information about the event and Howell Woods, please call (919) 938-0115 or visit www.johnstoncc.edu/howellwoods.