Archer Lodge Urges Wyndfall Residents To Work Together
Archer Lodge Mayor Mike Gordon listens to public comment Monday night on whether the town should try to regulate gunfire and target practicing within the Wyndfall subdivision. WTSB Photo
The Archer Lodge Town Council decided Monday night not to take action regarding homeowners who discharge firearms and engage in target practicing in the Wyndfall subdivision.
Instead the council urged the homeowners on both sides of the issue to work together to resolve the matter.
The subdivision is located off Buffalo Road within the Archer Lodge town limits.
At the February council meeting, four Wyndfall subdivision residents urged the town council to adopt a legally enforceable ordinance prohibiting the discharge of firearms within the town limits.
The town council discussed the issue at its March 6th work session. Several Wyndfall residents attended that meeting.
At the work session, the council voted to place an action item on Monday’s agenda to decide whether or not to seek Town Attorney Chip Hewett’s assistance regarding the issue.
The action recommended on the agenda was for Hewett, on behalf of the town, to assist with legal notices to the subdivision. But council voted to table any action.
During the public comment period, Patricia Bordonaro, who lives on Wall Road, told Mayor Mike Gordon and the Town Council that it’s the responsibility of a homeowner’s association, not the Town of Archer Lodge, to make the rules within their subdivision.
While the subdivision’s covenant prohibits discharging firearms, there is no homeowner’s association to enforce it.
Hewett said that it’s too late for Wyndfall residents to establish a homeowner’s association. Under state law, homeowners associations must be established as a corporation before the first lot or unit of a new planned development is sold.
One homeowner, Mark Ostrander, of Carrie Drive, said that he had shooting targets on his property. He said if neighbors have an issue they should resolve it themselves. He said he had been in public safety for 35 years.
Ostrander said that until last Thursday’s town work session he didn’t know Wyndfall had a covenant. He cautioned the town about becoming involved. Ostrander said over half the residents disobey covenant rules, citing rules against parking commercial vehicles on the roadway.
12 Year-Old Killed By Car
A 12 year-old Clayton boy died after being struck by a car Monday night. It happened in front of the child’s home in the 1500 block of Ranch Road two miles outside of Clayton.
Khalil Todd was struck by a 2008 Honda Accord being driven by Brian Session, 24, of Robin Lane, Clayton, while Session was traveling southbound around 8:19pm.
The Highway Patrol is still investigating the accident, but has ruled out speed and alcohol as factors.
County Approves Replacement Of Buffalo Road Water Pipes
Johnston County Commissioners Monday approved a project which could replace a deteriorating water pipeline which caused two sewer overflows last month along Buffalo Road near Smithfield.
The project request comes in response to two failures of the wastewater force main along Buffalo Road between the US Hwy 70 By-Pass and Booker Dairy Road. The failures resulted in sewer overflow to a direct tributary to the Neuse River.
Public Utilities Director Chandra Coats told commissioners that utilities staff workers discovered the pipe failures were the result of the pipe’s ductile iron material.
Coats said the original main was installed in 1977 and had corroded because of the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas.
Staff recommends replacement of 5,700 feet of pipe.
The county plans to replace the pipe using 16-incf PVC pipe, rather than the current 12-inch line in anticipation of growth in the Selma area.
Coats said the estimated cost for replacing the entire 5,700 feet of pipeline is $530,000.
The project may be eligible for $475,000 in funding through the State Emergency Loan program administered by the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
If the grant were approved, the county will be responsible for the $55,000 project balance, to be funded by the county’s sewer fund.
Should the state deny the county’s loan request, the county will instead fund the pipe replacement of 3,800 feet, the most severely corroded section of the pipeline.
The $355,000 cost for the 3,800 feet will be covered using $100,000 in funds budgeted in this year’s fiscal budget for developer upsizing and a $255,000 appropriation from a fund reserve.
Smithfield Awards Contract To PNC Bank
PNC Bank has won the contract to process and clear credit and debit card transactions for the Town of Smithfield.
Merchant Services are currently being processed through First Citizens Bank. Finance Director Greg Siler (pictured) said the cost to the Town for fiscal year 2013 was $69,583.
To reduce costs, Siler said the Town received proposals from five local banks. Of the five banks, PNC offered the lowest proposal.
Siler said PNC’s proposal could save the Town between $21,600 to $36,000 annually.
Brothers Charged In Clayton Break-Ins
(L to R) Two brothers, Jackie and Jason Rook were arrested Monday in connection with two Clayton business break-ins.
Two Johnston County brothers have been arrested in connection with two Clayton-area business break-ins early Monday. Around 1:30am, a Johnston County deputy was conducting a routine business check at Adessa and IAA, two businesses on Sadisco Road. The officer spotted one person inside the fence of the business and a second person outside the fence. Both suspects ran, however, Jason Lynn Rook, 25, of Graham Street, Selma was captured.
Around 5:30am, a deputy on patrol in Micro spotted the second brothers vehicle and during a traffic stop, Jackie Lynn Rook Jr., 28, of South Davis Street, Micro reportedly fled on foot. He was captured a shortly time later.
Both men are charged with breaking and entering, larceny, conspiracy, possession of burglary tools, and injury to property. Jason Rook was also charged with failing to appear in court on a communicating threat warrant.
Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland says it appears the brothers were attempting to steal catalytic converters from vehicles.
Community Helps Solve Break-Ins
It takes everyday citizens to help solve crime and that’s exactly who helped nab the thieves police say were victimizing two Clayton neighborhoods. Thanks to tips and cooperation from residents in Clayton Estates and neighboring Alta Mobile Home Park, Clayton Police arrested 21-year-old Javier Zavala and 18-year-old Luis Garcia for breaking into three different homes and stealing property.
After detectives charged them in one break in on March 6th, they were able to tie these two suspects to two other break-ins that happened on March 4th. It was in big part due to the citizens who live in Clayton sharing information, police said.
Zavala is currently being held in the Johnston County Jail under a $200,000 bond on three charges of felonious breaking and entering and two counts of larceny after breaking and entering.
Garcia is being held under a $100,000 bond on two counts of felonious breaking and entering, two counts of larceny after breaking and entering, and conspiracy breaking and entering.
These were just three of several break-ins in these neighborhoods over the last couple months. The Clayton Police Department is working with residents to follow leads on the remaining cases and hopes that with continued help from the local community they’ll be able to solve the remaining crimes and put a stop to the break-ins.
Anyone with information about this or any other cases in the community is asked to call the Clayton Police Department at 919-553-4611.
Nash Deputies Solve Rash Of Business Break-Ins
(L to R) Dalian Keith Green and Alvin Michael Hamlin are charged with 12 business break-ins in Nash County dating back to March 2013.
The Nash County Sheriff’s Office has arrested two people they say are involved in numerous business break-ins dating back to early 2013 where large quantities of cigarettes were taken.
A total of 12 break-ins occurred in Nash County but others are believed to have occurred as far west as Wake County and as far east as Beaufort County.
During the yearlong investigation, Dalian Keith Green, 51, of Whitakers and Alvin Michael Hamlin, 35, of Weldon, NC were developed as suspects.
Green had previously served time in federal prison for break-ins.
Green and Hamlin have both been charged by the Nash County Sheriff’s Office with a dozen counts each of breaking and entering, larceny, and damage to property.
“This is a great closure not only for the sheriff’s office but for the citizens of Nash County and other counties throughout the eastern part of the state,” said Nash County Sheriff’s Investigations Division Commander Lt. Todd Wells. “There has been a lot of tiring hours and lost sleep during this investigation. I am proud of the investigators that worked this case as diligently as they have”.
Green and Hamlin are currently under investigation by law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions to see if they may be responsible for additional crimes.
Smithfield To Update Economic Development Plan
The Town of Smithfield has hired Sanford Holshouser to help update its Strategic Economic Development Plan.
Town Manager Paul Sabiston said Holshouser had provided the Town an initial Economic Development Plan in 2004.
Sabiston said this plan is a basic report and study of the economic factors impacting Smithfield.
The report uses raw data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources to help determine which businesses and industries will benefit by moving to Smithfield.
Sabiston said this plan is in need of an update. The Economic Development Committee met with Rocky Lane, managing partner with Sanford Holshouser, to discuss the need for an update.
Lane will serve as project manager for the Town’s Strategic Economic Development Plan Update. Lane has over 24 years experience in economic development.
The Town Manager said he got financial support through commitments from four other agencies to fund this updated study.
The total cost will be $10,000 plus some minor expenses.
Sabiston said the Johnston County Visitor’s Bureau, Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation and ElectriCities will each contribute $2,000 toward the fee.
The Town will use $2,000 from its economic development fund in the Water/Sewer Department.
County To Sell Ten Surplus Sheriff’s Vehicles
Johnston County Commissioners have declared ten Sheriff’s vehicles as surplus.
Chief Deputy Bengie Gaddis told commissioners on Monday the vehicles had excessive mileage and that some of them were in need of major mechanical repairs.
Eight of the vehicles are Ford Crown Victorias. The other two are a Ford 500 and a Chevy Tahoe.
The Chevy Tahoe was purchased with drug money. Federal guidelines require that the proceeds from the sale of this vehicle be credited back to the Sheriff’s Office budget for federal auditing purposes.
Mileage on the surplus vehicles range from 112,000 to 167,078 miles.
The vehicles will be auctioned to the public by the Randy Wester Auction Company of Benson.
Gaddis said Wester agreed to hold a surplus property sale on Saturday, April 12th at 10 a.m. The sale will take place behind the former Johnston County Industries building on North Brightleaf Boulevard in Smithfield.
In other board action, commissioners approved the county Jail Health Plan. Sheriff Steve Bizzell requested commissioners review and approve the plan as required annually by the state Jail Inspector. No changes were made from last year’s plan.
Clayton Man Facing Hit And Run, Drunk Driving Charges
A Clayton man was arrested Monday morning in connection with a weekend hit and run accident on North Brightleaf Boulevard at Market Street in Downtown Smithfield.
Police said a 2001 Ford Explorer driven by Anatoloio Sanchez Balderas, 41, of Wildwood Drive, Clayton turned his SUV into the path of a 2004 Toyota driven by Javis Erwin Blackmon, 80, of Vermont Street, Smithfield.
After the collision, Balderas reportedly fled on foot from the scene. He was later apprehended by police officers and charged with driving while impaired and hit and run. He was jailed under a $14,000 bond. His SUV was also impounded.
Blackmon and one passenger in his vehicle sustained minor injuries.
Police Investigating Internet Scam
Smithfield Police are investigating a computer fraud case involving an 86 year-old Smithfield man. Officers said the elderly man discovered Sunday that someone had hacked into his email account and had been sending out emails to everyone on his contact list.
The suspect was sending out a fake email claiming the elderly man was in the Phillipines and had been robbed. They claimed the hotel where he was staying was holding his luggage and would not release the luggage unless they wired money. The victim in the case had never left town.
The suspect in the case was not successful in obtaining any money in the scam.
Poll: NC Voters Reject Raising Taxes To Improve Education
60% reject raising taxes to improve education, 90% support raising teacher pay, and 82% of those say reallocate budget to pay for teacher raises
BestSchoolsNC, a new nonpartisan, nonprofit organization leading a movement to make North Carolina’s schools the best in the nation, is released new polling numbers Monday which further detail the views of North Carolina’s registered voters on key education policy priorities.
“North Carolinians expect results on education, and our poll finds they broadly believe our state can achieve results without raising taxes,” said Tammy Covil, Executive Director of BestSchoolsNC. “This view applies specifically to teacher pay. We found that voters are eager to reward great teachers, and would like our elected representatives to do that by reallocating funding from other areas of the state budget. Everyone has to make difficult budget choices at the family kitchen table, and folks expect their elected leaders to do the same. We can achieve results without raising taxes, and make progress toward our goal of making North Carolina’s schools the best in the nation.”
According to the poll of 611 registered voters, by a 2-to-1 margin, voters do not believe it is necessary to pay higher taxes to improve public education. Democrats specifically, by a 10-point margin, 49 to 39%, do not believe it is necessary.
90 percent of those polled believe teacher pay should be increased. Of that number, 54% believe teacher pay should be increased based on performance, while 46% support an “across the board” increase.
Across party line, 74% of Democrats, 83% of Independents, and 92% of Republicans who believe teacher pay should be increased prefer funding the increase by reallocating current state budget dollars and not raising state taxes.
Sixty percent support the recent plan announced by state lawmakers to increase the base teacher salary by 14%, which will increase the salary of one-third of NC teachers. The plan earns 64% support from Democrats, 61% from Independents, and 56% from Republicans.
57% believe a teacher’s “professional performance” should most determine their pay, while 50% of voters support basing a teacher’s salary in part on the academic progress of their students.
The poll has a 4 percent margin of error. The sample precisely matched the registered voter population at 43% Democrat, 31% Republican, and 26% Unaffiliated.
Woman Falls From Moving Vehicle
A 23 year-old woman was seriously injured Friday afternoon when she reportedly fell from a moving vehicle on US70 Business East of Clayton near the US70 Bypass, according to the website JoCoFire.com
The woman was rushed to WakeMed in Raleigh by Johnston County EMS for treatment of serious injuries.
The NC Highway Patrol is investigating the incident. Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com
Selma Couple Facing Drug Charges
Two Selma residents were arrested on drug possession charges after deputies were called to check on a suspicious vehicle around 5pm Saturday in the 5100 block of Highway 96 North.
When officers arrived, they reported found two people passed out inside the vehicle. They were identified as Rebecca Nicole Holland, 32, of Old Creech Road, Selma and Joseph Daniel Stallings, 27, of Narron Road, Selma.
During a search of their vehicle, deputies allegedly found heroin, Zanax, cyclobenzaprine (a muscle relaxant), and drug paraphernalia, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.
Both Holland and Stallings were charged by deputies with felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Both were jailed under a $10,500 bond each.
Man Accused Of Selling Friend’s Vehicle
A Johnston County is accused of selling a friend’s vehicle to a salvage yard. Robert Eugene Holloman, 35, of Hickory Crossroads Road, Princeton was arrested Friday.
On January 24, Michael Mitchell of Baker’s Chapel Road, Princeton reported his vehicle had been stolen. According to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer for the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Mitchell told deputies at the time Holloman took his vehicle to be repaired. Holloman later allegedly claimed the car had been impounded by authorities.
During their investigation, Johnston County deputies learned the vehicle had been taken to a Wayne County recycling business and sold for scrap metal.
Holloman was charged with felony larceny of a motor vehicle. Bail was set at $20,000.
Four Oaks Prankster Arrested
Four Oaks Police arrested the person suspected in making the prank phone call that put Four Oaks Elementary and Middle schools on a lockdown Thursday morning for nearly an hour.
Arrested was 19-year-old Darnell Dyshawn Canady of B Street in Fayetteville. He is charged with one felony count of False Report Mass Violence Educational Property and two misdemeanor counts of resisting a public officer.
Canady is being held in the Johnston County Jail under a $60,000 secured bond.
In an interview with WTSB News, Four Oaks Police Chief Danny Toppings recalled the incident and what led to Canady’s arrest.
Toppings said Canady allegedly phoned in the fake call from a friend’s house on Sanders Street in Four Oaks.
Canady allegedly told a Johnston County dispatcher that he saw a man walking with a gun toward Four Oaks Middle School and that the man told him he was going to shoot some people.
Toppings said Canady allegedly gave the dispatcher a phony name and phone number and when asked, could not give the dispatcher a description of the phony gunman.
Four Oaks Police went to the home where the call originated and found several young people there. After questioning them, Toppings said police found the caller was allegedly Canady. Police found him at a residence on Allen Street in Four Oaks and arrested him.
Toppings said the schools did a fantastic job following lockdown procedures that made it easier for the law enforcement officers to search the campuses.
He also credited the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and State Bureau of Investigation for their assistance. Topping said at one point there were over 100 officers on the campuses working the case.
Toppings said pranks such as the one that disrupted classes yesterday are no joke. Toppings has two grandchildren at Four Oaks Elementary School.
“This prank took police away from cases they were working to go out to the schools and make sure everyone was safe,” Toppings said. “When you think about the disruption to the schools, the trauma to students, staff, parents and families and the money it costs, it’s just a mess."
Smithfield Revises Compensatory Time Policy
The Town of Smithfield has adopted changes in its Employee Handbook relating to compensatory time for exempt employees.
Town Manager Paul Sabiston said a council committee met last month to discuss revisions to its compensatory time policy.
The committee agreed the current policy should be changed to eliminate “comp time” as a benefit for exempt employees and that personal leave should be taken following what they described as “extraordinary circumstances.”
Exempt Town employees include the Town Manager, Fire Chief, Police Chief, Public Works Director and the Town Clerk.
Any comp time allotted to non-exempt Town employees can’t exceed 40 hours of total time and should be taken by the employees as soon as possible with the consent of their supervisor or department head.
At the end of the fiscal year, any comp time over 40 hours that’s not used will be forfeited unless authorized by the Town Manager.
County To Publish Delinquent Tax Liens
Johnston County Commissioners Monday authorized Tax Administrator Sheila Garner to advertise tax liens for delinquent 2013 tax bills.
Garner told commissioners that unpaid real estate taxes, as of January 31st, totaled nearly $4.7 million.
To satisfy state law, Garner said notices of delinquent taxes were sent by mail to the property owners of record as of January 7th.
A list of unpaid real estate taxes to advertise the liens will be published this month.
Garner said advertising the liens is a first step in enforcing tax collections. She thanked commissioners for their continued support in the collection of unpaid taxes.
Body Found In Harnett Courthouse Parking Lot
Crime scene tape surrounded part of the Harnett County courthouse Thursday after a body was found in a car in the building’s parking lot.
Lillington Police Chief Frank Powers said his officers found the body of man first reported missing on Wednesday. They were alerted to the situation by an employee at the courthouse.
Chief Powers said he was still working to get the victim’s name but said it appeared the victim died of natural causes while in his car.
“We don’t know if it was a heart attack or something else but foul play is not suspected in the case,” Chief Powers said.
According to police scanner transmissions officers immediately tried to use CPR to revive the patient. They put crime scene tape around the area where the body was found until it was removed. Employees worked inside the courthouse throughout the day. Story courtesy of The Daily Record
Tew Out As Dunn Fire Chief
One of Dunn’s longest-serving emergency responders has been let go after more than three decades of fighting fires and another employee has been moved from administration to shift work.
Dunn Fire Chief Austin Tew is no longer with the Dunn Emergency Services and Assistant Chief Scott Phillips has transitioned to an emergency responder’s position.
Dunn Emergency Services Director Gary Whitman said the moves were made due to budget issues, which required him to adjust personnel.
“I started looking at next year’s budget and quite frankly, it was just a situation where the numbers just wouldn’t work without some adjustments,” he said.
He said the organization has been able to utilize federal grants for a number of years to assist with the cost of personnel and that those grants are no longer available.
Mr. Tew left the organization Friday, but Mr. Whitman said he is still teaching classes for the organization. Story and photo courtesy The Daily Record.
Murder Suspect Faces Additional Charges
The man accused of killing a Four Oaks man faces additional charges.
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office reports Anthony Edward Messer, 31, of Four Oaks is charged with one felony count each of breaking and entering and larceny.
Messer was charged in December with robbery and murder in the death of 62-year-old Billy Watson Strickland of Four Oaks.
Strickland’s body was found along side Hannah Creek road.
Sheriff’s spokesperson Tammy Aamon said a burglary was reported at a Stewart Road home in Four Oaks on December 14th, three days before Strickland was murdered.
The homeowner reported that Messer allegedly stole a rifle, $550 in cash and several prescription pills.
Aamon said a Johnston County sheriff’s detective interviewed Messer and that he reportedly confessed to the break-in.
Messer remains in custody awaiting trial for Strickland’s murder.
Smithfield Hires New Public Utilities Director
The Town of Smithfield has hired Kenneth C. “Griff” Griffin as its’ new Public Utilities Director.
Griffin’s annual salary is $87,499.36. He will receive standard benefits for a Town Department Head, up to $5,000 in reimbursable moving expenses and up to 2 weeks of short-term hotel accommodations and travel totaling approximately $1,500.
Griffin has served as a consulting engineer for water and wastewater treat systems.
He has over 20 years experience leading water, wastewater and electric utilities in the southeastern United States.
Griffin received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California at Irvine, Master of Science degrees from Cornell University, the University of Southern California and a PhD from the University of Mississippi.
He has also done postgraduate course work at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Griffin’s wife Connie is a counseling psychologist in private practice. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Selma Police Add “Most Wanted” Page To Website
The Selma Police Department has added a “Selma’s Most Wanted” page to its’ website.
Police Chief Richard Cooper (pictured) said the individuals on the website don’t necessarily live in Selma, but they do have friends and family members who live in the town and visit on occasion.
Cooper said the criminal charges these people have don’t reflect the type of people Selma’s citizens want in their town.
All callers to Selma’s Most Wanted can remain anonymous. Cooper thanked Selma’s citizens for keeping it a community in which people can be safe and proud to live and work.
McIntyre Hails Passage Of Flood Insurance Legislation
U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre announced Wednesday that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the 2014 Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability.
McIntyre said, “The House of Representatives has spoken loud and clear: it’s time to provide relief from the rising tide of devastating flood insurance rates! Our families, homeowners, and businesses deserve the security of flood protection without the fear of losing their investments to unreasonable insurance premiums.”
McIntyre and Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) recently sent a letter to the entire North Carolina delegation, urging their support of H.R. 3370 when brought to the floor this week.
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act addresses the increases in flood insurance premiums required by the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.
It includes several important provisions including ending dramatic premium increases caused property sales, restoring grandfathered properties for those who played by the rules and built their properties according to code, and providing refunds for families who suffered unaffordable premium increases.
Highway Patrol Launches Anti-Litter Campaign
Beginning March 10th, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and State Highway Patrol will launch “Litter Free NC.”
Sgt. Jeff Gordon said it’s a statewide anti-litter campaign to educate the public and generate awareness about the effects of litter in hopes of reducing the amount of litter in our state.
The focus will be litter prevention as opposed to litter clean up.
The Litter Free NC campaign will be an on-going initiative. However, a heavy educational media and public awareness blitz will be conducted during the week of March 10 – 17.
Gordon said people might think litter is a victimless crime, but it impacts people’s safety, security and well being, and someone has to pick it up. Litter is not just a safety hazard, it’s a crime, Gordon said.
As income-tax filing season for the 2013 tax year reaches its’ peak, billions of dollars in fraudulent refunds continue to flow to scam artists using stolen or fabricated identities and fake dependents to take advantage of a major loophole in the way the federal government issues refunds to individuals.
The IRS says it is catching some of the perpetrators, but its enforcement efforts are hindered by political pressure to issue tax refunds before the agency can verify the identities of tax filers.
Officials from the North Carolina Department of Revenue say they are taking measures to catch the tax crimes, formally known as Stolen Identity Refund Fraud, but some flaws remain in the agency’s procedures dealing with SIRF.
For example, NCDOR recently sent an interest income notice to a “taxpayer” in Durham several months after The Carolina Journal notified NCDOR that the “taxpayer” did not live in Durham and her identity had been invented by fraudsters.
N.C. Department of Revenue spokesman Trevor Johnson said his department is aware of the numerous fraud schemes involving state and federal revenue agencies. He said the agency does not want to disclose its methods for detecting stolen or phony identities, because that might help the fraudsters discover new ways to perfect their craft.
“If an individual receives something in the mail from the N.C. Department of Revenue that does not appear correct, they should immediately contact the department,” he said. Johnson said that his agency has stopped $18 million in identity-related fraudulent refunds in calendar year 2013.
He said the department does not have an estimate of how many refunds were later determined to be fraudulent, or how many fraudulent refunds are never detected.
Barbour Says NC FAST Program Is Getting Worse
Johnston County Commissioner DeVan Barbour told his fellow commissioners Monday that the problems that plague NC FAST are getting worse.
NC FAST stands for North Carolina Families Accessing Services Through Technology. The state government website promotes NC FAST as a program designed to improve the way the NC Department of Health and Human Services and county departments of social services do business.
Johnston County was one of four pilot counties for NC FAST. The purpose of the pilot program was to work out the system’s bugs before going statewide.
Barbour said that when NC FAST went statewide, to all 100 counties, the program couldn’t handle the demand and, in his words, “exploded.”
NC FAST’s website claims that it will “enable workers to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time assisting families.”
Barbour called that claim a lie and said NC FAST is approaching critical mass.
Barbour asked Johnston County Director of Social Services Tina Corbett (left) and Income Maintenance Program Administrator Geneva Ray to attend the commission meeting. He praised them and their employees for being incredibly dedicated, full of passion and drive.
Corbett said she appreciated Barbour’s comments and wanted to point out that this is not just a Johnston County issue. Counties across the state are experiencing similar problems. She also wanted Johnston County residents to know her staff is working as hard as they can to process their benefits. They are experiencing delays and are trying hard to shorten the delays as much as possible.
Barbour said some DDS employees are having to work seven days a week, and that weekend work has become mandatory to administer the program.
One employee worked an entire weekend to get data entered, and when she got to work Monday she had 1,700 cases pop up on hold.
The system failures are forcing the county to pay overtime and county employees are burned out.
Commissioners were sympathetic at Monday’s meeting and Barbour said Johnston County’s state legislators are aware of the problems plaguing the problem.
Barbour said he doesn’t know what the solution is. He said, “We hope problems with the system are being resolved but things are getting worse and worse, instead of better and better.”
NC FAST is considered as the first major test for the McCrory administration’s focus on overhauling information technology in state government.
At a $484 million contract cost for development, implementation and ongoing support, NC FAST represents the biggest IT project in state government history.
Selma Man Charged With Kidnapping
A Selma man is charged with second degree kidnapping and assault on a female.
Smithfield Police Lt. Keith Powell said the incident happened Tuesday, March 4th at 12:56 p.m. at the Gorgeous Nail Spa on East Market Street.
Witnesses told police Shantwan Dantarious Strickland, 26, of West Jones Street, Selma allegedly entered the spa, grabbed a 24-year-old woman by the hair and arm and dragged her from the business.
The woman’s friends and 4-year-old son were left behind. Family members later picked up the woman’s son.
Lt. Powell said Strickland allegedly forced the woman into his car and drove off. When Strickland realized police had been called, Lt. Powell said he dropped the woman off in Selma where she called her mother. The mother picked up the alleged victim and brought her to the Smithfield Police Department, Lt. Powell said.
Strickland was arrested by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and is being held in the Johnston County Jail.
Smithfield Police Report Theft At Smithfield-Selma High School
Smithfield Police reported a burglary at Smithfield-Selma High School.
The theft was reported Monday, March 3rd at 11 a.m. by a school employee. The thief entered through a security window gate, broke a glass window, damaged an office door and closet door and stole $300 cash.
Police said total damage was estimated at $2,080. Anyone with information is urged to call the Smithfield Police Department at (919) 934-2052.
Two South Johnston Teens Participate In DHHS Infomercial
Two South Johnston High School students were asked to participate in a video about improving mental wellness in N.C. teens.
Freshman Rachel Sauls and sophomore Leanna White were included in a video that is part of a new campaign by N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to improve mental wellness in teens.
The campaign will help train teachers and counselors on how to improve mental wellness in teens in order to prevent school violence, teen suicide, and substance abuse.
(from left) Rachel Sauls - Freshman at SJHS and Leanna White - Sophmore at SJHS
RTP Foundation CEO Donates Office Space To Johnston County
The head of the Research Triangle Foundation told Johnston County Commissioners Monday the RTP wants to donate office space to the county.
Bob Geolas (pictured), promoting the concept of a regional rail system, said the RTP would like to use the donation of the office space to strengthen the relationship between the RTP and the county.
Commissioner Ted Godwin thanked Geolas for the offer but said Johnston County needs to have “a seat at the table” regarding plans for a proposed regional rapid rail system.
Johnston County Economic Development Director Chris Johnson told WTSB News it was always great to see the head of the RTRP in Johnston County and hear his supportive words about our community.
Johnson said it was encouraging to hear Geolas say they are promoting the assets and resources in all the surrounding counties and that they want to help Johnston County grow.
Geolas, Commissioner Cookie Pope’s nephew, responded that his mother lived in Smithfield and commuted every day to work in Raleigh.
He said a rail system would help ease the congestion created by Johnston County employees commuting to jobs at the RTP.
Supporters of rapid rail see it as part of a regional rail-bus transit system extending past Durham through Cary and Raleigh to the Wake-Johnston County line.
Geolas said that for such a system to become a reality it requires a public-private partnership. While it’s a complicated issue, Geolas said it’s a solvable issue.
Johnson said he has long been a supporter of regional rail.
Although it is a huge investment, it is important to Johnston County's future, Johnson said.
Johnson said the key obstacle is making sure that the rail system is linked to RDU Airport.
Ham & Yam Festival Celebrates 30th Anniversary
The 30th Annual Ham & Yam Festival will be throwing back to the 1980s and the origins of the festival with its free concerts on Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3.
The Breakfast Club (pictured), a 1980s tribute band will perform on Friday night, May 2. The festival will close on Saturday, May 3 with a concert featuring Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band
“Great tribute bands like Who’s Bad and The Breakfast Club offer an entertaining show and appeal to a wide audience with songs that everyone knows,” states Sarah Edwards, festival organizer and Interim Director of Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation.
In addition to the free concerts, a full schedule of events on Saturday, May 3 is expected to attract thousands of people to Downtown Smithfield, where the festival occupies several blocks.
Craft and food vendors, and kids activities, and live entertainment are part of the annual Ham & Yam Festival.
The Ham & Yam Festival is organized by the nonprofit Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation.