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

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

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

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

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

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

Burglary Suspect Captured Following Manhunt
One person is in custody following a two-hour manhunt Monday in southern Johnston County.

Around 11am, a resident returned to the home in the 2100 block of Wood’s Crossroad Road, outside of Benson, only to find a burglar inside.

The suspect fled out the door and into a wooded area.

Johnston County sheriff’s deputies set up a perimeter around the area and began searching the wooded area with the help of K-9’s.

Around 1:00pm the suspect was taken into custody. The name of the person arrested was not immediately released. Photo courtesy John Payne


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

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

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

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

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

The blaze was ruled accidental.  Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

Rep. Rouzer Holds Press Conference In Smithfield
Representative David Rouzer held his first press conference in Johnston County on Monday after being sworn into office earlier this month to represent the Seventh Congressional District.

Rouzer (NC-7) held press conferences in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Johnston counties outlining constituent services and discussing his legislative agenda for the 114th Congress. 

Rouzer spoke to the media and others gathered at the Johnston County Agricultural Center near Smithfield.

4 Arrested On Felony Drug Charges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selma Planning Lawsuit To Condemn Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JCS Approve Early/Middle College Schedule
By Laura Crosio

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grief Counselors At SSS Friday Following Deaths Of 2 Students
Grief counselors were on hand at Smithfield Selma High School on Friday, one day after two students were struck and killed by a train.

The tragedy occurred near the intersection of Shelter Way and North Brightleaf Boulevard.

Seventeen year-old Robert Jeffrey Naughton of Graham Street, Selma and 18 year-old Alan Morey Peedin of S. Sharpe Street, Selma were struck and killed at 1:50pm by a northbound Amtrak train carrying 94 passengers from Savannah to New York.

The accident delayed the train for about two hours.

Smithfield Police have not commented on unconfirmed reports the teens were wearing headphones when they were struck. Photo by John Payne

Smithfield Woman Killed In I-95 Head-On Collision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pair Sought For Using Stolen Credit Card At Clayton Wal-Mart 
It happened two months ago but Clayton Police hope newly released surveillance images will help them solve a crime.

On November 28, 2014, a man and woman walked into the Clayton Wal-Mart and used a stolen credit card to purchase $114.88 worth of merchandise.

If anyone recognizes the man or the woman in the surveillance image you are asked to contact the Clayton Police Department at 919-553-4611. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JCS Students Participate In 2014 Shrine Bowl Of Carolinas
By Laura Crosio

Three Johnston County high school students were selected to participate in the 75th Annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on Dec. 20, 2014 in Gibbs Stadium at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC.

The Shrine Bowl pits the top high school football players from North and South Carolina against each other in yearly competition that rotates between Spartanburg, SC and Charlotte, NC.

Representing Johnston County were Johnny Frazier, Princeton High School, Jared Johnson, Corinth Holders High School and Greg Tyler, Cleveland High School.

Barry Honeycutt, a coach from Corinth Holders High School, represented Johnston County as the only Triangle area coach selected to participate in the 2014 Shrine Bowl.


HealthQuest Highlighted On WTSB Radio
Samantha “Sam” Sayers loves her job as a personal trainer and service representative with HealthQuest in Smithfield. And she told the WTSB Radio audience all about it on Thursday during an interview sponsored by Johnston Health.

Some of the topics discussed were the benefits of personal training, how to maintain health and fitness goals throughout the year, and why the “buddy system” might just be the right plan for 2015.

Sam informed WTSB listeners about the four personal training packages for the month of January, which include significant savings.

Also, there is a Bring A Buddy Plan, which includes discounts for two or more joining with no enrollment fee.

Health Quest is located in the Johnston Medical Mall, Suite 1701, directly across from Johnston Health in Smithfield. To take advantage of their specials call 919-938-7581 or www.johnstonhealth.org. HealthQuest is open seven days per week.

Cause Of Driver's Death Probed In Fatal I-40 Crash
The Highway Patrol has not determined if the driver of a tractor-trailer, who died on I-40 near Benson on Tuesday, was killled as a result of injuries sustained in the accident or if he drowned.

The 18-wheeler, driven by Steve Allen Williams, 46, of Wade, NC was traveling eastbound and hauling cinder blocks, when it traveled into the median, through a median guardrail, and overturned in the westbound lanes. The semi skidded off the interstate and stopped when the cab of the truck struck a ditch.

The Highway Patrol said Thursday Williams was still inside the overturned semi with his head submerged under the water in the ditch. Williams was still in his seatbelt.

E J Trucking Company of Wade owned the semi.  Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

FBI Joins Search For Clayton Murder Suspect

On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined the search for a Clayton teenager wanted for murder.

Seventeen year-old Cortaz Quemel Lucas Jr. has been wanted since December 28, 2014 when he allegedly gunned down 28 year-old Robert Lee Horton in the Alta Mobile Home Park.

Clayton Police said Lucas and Horton knew one another and the shooting was domestic related.  Police later said Lucas had possible ties to gang activity and expanded their search in early-January out-of-state.

On Thursday, the FBI announced a federal warrant was issued for Lucas charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Local and federal authorities believe Lucas has left North Carolina and may be hiding in New York City or Philadelphia.

FBI agents in three states are working with local law enforcement officers trying to locate Lucas, who is considered to be armed and dangerous. 

Clayton Police are offering a $1,000 cash reward for information leading to his apprehension.

Johnston Receives Funding For Water, Wastewater Projects
The State Water Infrastructure Authority announced Thursday nearly $164 million in funding loans and grants to help pay for drinking water and wastewater projects in communities across the state.
The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the Community Development Block Grant for Infrastructure Program and the State Drinking Water and Wastewater Reserve Program will help pay for 83 projects.

In Johnston County, a $3,381,700 low interest loan was awarded for a Water Treatment Plant Filter Addition.  The project will allow the County to add a fourth filter group to the water treatment plant in Wilson’s Mills, providing redundancy for the plant operation. It also includes other operational efficiency improvements, which should result in a cost savings for daily plant operations.

An additional $828,764 low interest loan was awarded to Johnston County for a sewer rehabilitation project. The funds will allow the County to identify and repair infiltration and inflow issues that can lead to excessive high peaks in flows at the county wastewater treatment plant. By eliminating infiltration, it will preserve capacity in the system for wastewater from existing customers and for future growth.

“These projects will improve operations and efficiencies of the County’s water treatment, wastewater treatment and collection systems,” said Johnston County manager Rick Hester.

Two Arrested In Connection With Meth Lab Explosion

Two people have now been charged in connection with Tuesday’s meth lab explosion on Old Fairground Road.

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday the arrests of 30 year-old Christopher William Melton of Turlington Drive, Benson (top left) and 33 year-old Perry Joe Carroll of Old Fairground Road, Angier (top right).

Sheriff’s Narcotics Captain A.C. Fish said Melton was burned when a “one pot” meth lab exploded while in a walk-in pump house around 7am Tuesday.  Melton received minor facial burns.  He was arrested Tuesday after his release from the hospital.

On Wednesday, Carroll was arrested Captain Fish said based on evidence Carroll had participated in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Captain Fish said the investigation is still on going and more arrests are expected.

Melton was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $1,501,000 bond. Carroll was held under a $501,000 bond.

Sheriff’s K-9 Injured During Apprehension Of Suspect
A Johnston County Sheriff’s Office K-9 was injured during the arrest of a man who reportedly fled from officers Tuesday night.

“Lex” a K-9 was used by its handler to help track a suspect who ran after deputies responded to check on a suspicious vehicle parked in the 7000 block of Highway 50 north of Benson.

The K-9 tracked the suspect, identified as Joshua William Carter, 28, of Johns Court, Benson to a creek. While the officer was attempting to take Carter into custody, he allegedly kicked the K-9 in the side.

Lex was taken to a veterinarian for treatment of injuries.

Carter was charged with resisting arrest and felony assault on a law enforcement animal.  He was confined in the Johnston County Jail under a $5,000 bond. 

Johnston County Early College Recognized For Innovation And Excellence

Cited as a leader in education transformation for student success

Raleigh, NC – Johnston County Early College High Academy is among four schools statewide honored by NC New Schools for their innovative practices and academic excellence.

The Johnston County school earned the recognition on the strength of solid evidence that it’s helping all students achieve success by setting high expectations and following effective, student-centered approaches to teaching and learning. Schools winning recognition are achieving strong student outcomes measured by a number of different criteria including state exams and the ACT college entrance exam.

The school exceeded goals for academic progress by students last year, outpaced the state on ACT performance by more than 30 percentage points in each of the last two years and also achieved a graduation rate in 2013 and 2014 exceeding 95 percent.

"Johnston County Early College Academy is honored to be recognized,” said Brandon Garland, the school’s principal. “Through our strong partnership with Johnston Community College, we are pleased to offer a unique educational opportunity to our students. We thank NC New Schools for recognizing the hard work and dedication of our students, faculty and staff."

The three other schools singled out for innovation and excellence by NC New Schools are Caldwell Early College High School, Henderson County Early College High School and Wake Early College of Health and Sciences.

Educators Receive National Certification
By Laura Crosio

New Johnston County Schools National Board Certified teachers on the front row (from left) are Crystal Gray, North Johnston High; Amanda Allen, East Clayton Elementary; and Jennifer Holley, West Johnston High. On the back row are Megan Beck, Smithfield-Selma High; Kalie Acquarulo, Smithfield-Selma High; and Christen Vannewkirk, Cleveland Middle.

Six area teachers recently earned the designation of National Board Certification and recognized by the Johnston County Board of Education at their Jan. 13 meeting. 

Sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the certification is a rigorous year-long process of self-reflection and growth.

The mission of the organization is to advance student learning and achievement by establishing definitive standards and systems for certifying accomplished educators. Each year many teachers complete the National Board process but less than 50% are successful in earning the credential.

The six teachers include: Kalie Acquarulo, Smithfield-Selma High School; Amanda Allen, East Clayton Elementary; Megan Beck, Smithfield-Selma High School; Crystal Gray, North Johnston High School; Jennifer Holley, West Johnston High School; and Christen Vannewkirk, Cleveland Middle School.

In addition, the following teachers renewed their board certifications: Dana Coleman, Dixon Road Elementary; Camela Horne, Princeton Middle/High School; Kimberlee Nappier, Riverwood Middle School; Angela Pierce, Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability; and Suzanne Tart, South Johnston High School.

Suspect Accused Of Stealing 10 HVAC Units
Authorities have arrested a Wendell man in connection with the theft of 10 HVAC units.

Daniel Mujica Granados, 20, of David Road, was arrested Saturday and charged with felony larceny.

On November 27, the victim, who lived on Stotts Mill Road, Wendell, in northern Johnston County, reported that 10 HVAC units he had in storage were stolen. The units were being kept for salvage and had a value of approximately $1,900.

Granados was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $20,000 bond.                   

$7,000 Necklace Stolen From Jewelry Store
Smithfield Police are investigating the theft of a $7,000 gold necklace taken from a jewelry store.

Around 8:45pm Friday, police said a man walked into Zales Jewelry on Outlet Center Drive and asked to see some jewelry. 

After being handed an expensive necklace, police said the suspect fled on foot. So far, no arrests have been made.

Stolen Town Truck Recovered

Smithfield Police are investigating the theft of a town owned truck.  Sometime Friday night or Saturday morning, someone knocked down a gate to a storage facility on Booker Dairy Road and stole a 2002 Ford Super Duty work truck. 

The truck was later found abandoned in a wooded area in Selma.  The vehicle had sustained some minor damage. 

About $2,000 in tools were also missing from the truck. Police said the suspect also caused about $1,000 in damage to the gate. 

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact the Smithfield Police Tip Line at 919-989-8835. 


Teacher Helps Students Gain Free Access To Heritage Research

Riverwood Middle Principal Kerri Evans
(right) congratulates Doug Pawlak (left) for his excellent efforts on behalf of all Johnston County students.

Students throughout Johnston County will now have free access to the online heritage research tool Ancestry.com thanks to a gift from the company and Riverwood Middle School’s Doug Pawlak.

Pawlak, an eighth grade social studies teacher, read an article published in the News and Observer in December, about Ancestry.com opening its collection of historical documents to schools for students to use in their classrooms.

After reading the article Pawlak contacted Johnston County Schools’ personnel, and personnel at Ancestry.com, to make access to the records available to all Johnston County students. Thanks to their efforts students now have free access, while on the school network, to Ancestry.com’s “Ancestry Classroom.” Students also have limited free access to historical military records and newspapers from across the United States from the 1700s to 2000s.

“We are very grateful for Mr. Pawlak’s efforts,” said JCS Elementary Digital Learning Coordinator Amy Stanley. “These new research tools will be a tremendous resource for our students.”

DWI Suspect Arrested In His Own Driveway

Johnston County deputies arrested a motorist for impaired driving Sunday night in the driveway of their own home.

Around 7pm, an officer was on patrol on Lake Wendell Road and was nearly struck by the suspects vehicle at an intersection. The deputy caught up with the vehicle, as it drove left of center several times, officers said. The deputy activated his blue lights and the driver stopped in the driveway of his own home on Lake Wendell Road.

James David White Jr., 51, of Lake Wendell Road, Wendell, allegedly admitted to drinking beer before driving. Deputies said he stumbled as he got out of his vehicle and had slurred speech.

White refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test at the Johnston County Jail, officials said.

White was charged with driving while impaired, driving left of center, and driving on a revoked license. Bond was set at $2,500.   

Police Seize Vehicle From DWI Suspect 

Smithfield Police impounded a vehicle from a DWI suspect following a traffic stop Sunday morning on Packing Plant Road.

Santos Escamilla, 38, of Packing Plant Road, Smithfield was arrested for DWI and driving on a revoked license during the 1:54am traffic stop, police said.

Lt. R.K. Powell said due to Escamilla having a prior DWI charge police seized the 2001 Chevy Tahoe he was driving pending the outcome of his case in court.   Escamilla was released on a $2,500 bond pending a Feb. 4th court appearance. 

Clayton Man Arrested For DWI, Marijuana Possession
Smithfield Police said they found a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the possession of a man arrested for driving drunk Sunday morning.

Around 1:2am, police stopped a Jeep on Wilson’s Mills Road.  The driver, Mark Williams Baker, 33, of Hazel Street, Clayton registered 0.13 on the Breathalyzer, police allege. 

Baker was charged with DWI, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was given a $2,500 bond.

JCS Releases Turnover Rate
By Laura Crosio

The teacher turnover rate at Johnston County Schools decreased in 2014, according officials but may be on an upward trend for the coming year.

Each year, school systems are required to present a complete report documenting the number of teachers who leave their positions and their reasons why. The findings were presented at the Jan. 13 school board meeting.

The report showed the highest reason for teacher turnover was accepting a position to work in another district.

Although that percentage was down 12.7% from 2013, the numbers are still significant enough when compared to the state average for school officials to stress the need to maintain competitive supplements for their employees. 

The report also noted retirements were on the decline with a 2% change from 2013. Retirement figures for JCS teachers are below the state average.

Mom Charged With Leaving Child At Home Alone
A young mother is facing criminal charges for allegedly leaving her 3 year-old son at home alone.

Nineteen year-old Kaitlyn Renee Ward of Dell Meadows Place, Four Oaks was arrested Sunday. 

Johnston County deputies received a tip about Ward’s child being left home unattended. When they arrived at the residence around 2am Sunday they reportedly found the child inside with no adult supervision.

Ward was charged with misdemeanor child abuse. She was given a $2,500 bond.

Teen Charged In Clayton Theft

A teenager was arrested Friday, one day after she allegedly stole items from a Clayton-area home.

Amanda Lyn Gustavson, 19, of Manchester Trail, Clayton reportedly went with a friend who was dog sitting at a home on Wingate Drive near Clayton on Thursday.

While at the home, Gustavson reportedly removed a flat screen TV, handgun, ammunition, jewelry, and a cooler from the residence, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

Gustavson returned the stolen jewelry to a sheriff’s detective, but the others items have not yet been recovered, Amaon told WTSB News on Tuesday.

Gustavson was charged with felony larceny.

Suspect Accused Of Mailing Tobacco To Inmate

A 22 year-old woman was arrested Friday for allegedly trying to smuggle tobacco to an inmate in the Johnston County Jail.

A day earlier, staff at the Johnston County Jail intercepted a letter mailed to an inmate. Inside the letter contained loose tobacco, a match and a match strike pad.

Ashley Katherine Nappen of Little Creek Church Road, Clayton was charged with giving or selling tobacco products to an inmate, a misdemeanor offense. She was released on a $1,000 bond pending an appearance in Johnston County District Court.   

Relative Charged With Attempted Break-In

A Smithfield man was arrested Sunday night for allegedly trying to break into his uncle’s home on Lucy Court outside of Clayton.  Deputies said they found the suspect, Braxton Ray Liles, 25, of Wilson’s Mills Road, nearby on Vinson Road and took him into custody.

Liles vehicle was found behind his uncle’s home. Inside the car, deputies reportedly found Liles wallet, a bag containing suspected methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia.

Liles reportedly told officers he had permission to be at his uncle’s home but after deputies contacted the homeowner learned Liles was not suppose to be on the property.

Liles was charged with attempted breaking and entering, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and probation violation. Bail was set at $90,000.  

2 Pounds Of Marijuana Found Following Newton Grove Car Chase
A Pitt County man is facing numerous charges following a high-speed chase Tuesday near Newton Grove.

The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Interdiction Team was working in the Newton Grove area when one of the deputies observed a car traveling at a high rate of speed.  The deputy clocked the vehicle on radar speeding 68 mph in a 55 mph zone.  But when the officer tried to stop the vehicle, the driver reportedly tried to elude arrest. 

The chase lasted several miles until the driver finally stopped on Warren Mill Road and fled on foot carrying a large plastic bag.

Lawmen set up a perimeter around the area and then began searching in the woods where the suspect was located a short time later. Two bags were found containing 2 pounds of suspected marijuana. Also $650 in cash was located.

Linwood Earl Wright II, 22, of Greenville was charged with felony speeding to elude arrest, reckless driving, speeding, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, maintaining a vehicle for a controlled substance, driving left of center and resisting an officer. Wright was booked into the Sampson County Jail under a $50,000 bond.

Selma To Spend $12,500 To Remark Crosswalks, Parking Spaces

The Selma Town Council has voted unanimously to spend $12,500 for a pavement-marking project.  A study of street marking and on-street parking space indicated several pedestrian crosswalks, stop bars, railroad markings and parking lines have become faded and need to be remarked. 

Town Manager Jon Barlow said the faded markings are both a safety problem and an appearance issues.

The NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) reviewed a list of locations to remark and said the project should cost about $12,500. $3,500 of the money would be used to remark 8 railroad crossings and another $9,000 for intersections.

Because the Town of Selma did not have the manpower or equipment to do the work, the Town Council voted Jan. 15th to pay the NCDOT to perform the work.      

Some of the work will be taking place along Oak, Waddell, North Railroad, Raiford, Webb, Green, and South Sumner Streets.                                                                                                                      


Early Morning Fire Destroys Mobile Home
A mobile home was destroyed by a fire early-Monday morning outside of Four Oaks.

Around 2am, fire crews were summoned to a mobile home fire on Stewart Road, just off Keen Road. The singlewide mobile home was fully engulfed in flames when fire fighters arrived.

Johnston County Assistant Fire Marshal Banks Wallace said the home was vacant but there was power connected to the residence.  Officials determined the fire started in one location but the cause remains under investigation.

A neighbor reported hearing a loud “boom” but officials believe it wasn’t any type of explosion rather the intense heat shattering the windows to the home.  

The Four Oaks, Blackmon’s Crossroads, and Strickland’s Crossroads Fire Departments responded to the scene along with Johnston County EMS and the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

No injuries were reported.  Contributed photo

School Board Approves Personnel Changes

(L to R) Susan Jones has been named the new principal at Polenta Elementary, Bridgette Spaulding the new principal at West Smithfield Elementary, and Patty Langley an assistant principal at Riverwood Middle.

The Johnston County School Board approved several personnel changes at their January monthly meeting.

Denise Byrd, principal at Polenta Elementary, was named the Human Resources Director for Johnston County Schools effective March 1.

Susan Binder Jones was named the new principal at Polenta Elementary School effective March 1. Previously Jones was an assistant principal at the school.

Tandra Batcherlor-Mapp, the current principal at West Smithfield Elementary will move February 1 to Director of Support Services. And Bridgette Spaulding, Executive Director of Support Services will move to principal at West Smithfield Elementary.  

Patty J. Langley was named the assistant principal at Riverwood Middle effective February 1. She had been the curriculum coach at Four Oaks Middle School.         

Johnston Health Opens Full Service Clayton Hospital
Johnston Health has opened its full service hospital in Clayton. Last Saturday, Mayor Jody McLeod and CEO Chuck Elliott joined all 17 directors of the Johnston Health Services Corp. Board for a ribbon cutting of the $50 million three-story addition to Johnston Health Clayton.

Standing, from left, are: Jim Jenkins, John Scovil, Ralph Stewart, Chip Hewett, Gary Park, Bobby Parker, Mayor McLeod, Dr. Eric Janis, Dr. Regina Ryan, Dr. Dennis Koffer, Jeff Carver and Tony Braswell; seated, from left, Dr. Robert Bylciw, Ricky Young, David Strong, Cookie Pope, Bengie Gaddis and Chris Ellington.

During a short program, Johnston Health board chairman Bobby Parker talked about the board’s dream of extending health care services to Clayton and surrounding communities. He thanked hospital board members, past and present, for all the “time, effort, angst and joy” they experienced during the journey.

“Without your commitment, support, shared vision and willingness to take a chance, all of this would not have happened,” he said. More than 650 people attended the public event. The full-service hospital began accepting patients on Wednesday.

Johnston Health is the health care system serving Johnston County. Established in 1951, the flagship hospital in Smithfield has 129 acute care and 20 behavioral health beds. Johnston Health Clayton, which opened in 2009 as an outpatient center, expanded into a full-service hospital with 50 acute care beds this month.

Store Owner Accused Of Having Over $60k In Counterfeit Merchandise
The owner of two Selma businesses raided by Selma Police and investigators with the NC Secretary of State’s Office has been arrested.

On December 11, law enforcement officers said they seized $60,660 worth of counterfeit merchandise from New Beauty and MOA Fashion, two adjacent stores in the Johnston Square Shopping Center. 

On Friday, Oki Pak Staude, 72, of Fayetteville, the owner of the two retail stores, was charged with a felony counterfeit trademark violation. She was released on a $2,500 bond pending an appearance in Johnston County Court.

Selma Police Detective Sgt. J.A. Hughes said officers had been investigating a complaint for about three weeks of counterfeit merchandise being sold from the stores, which lead up to the raid and the seizure of items, primarily clothing and jewelry.

Officials declined to release the brand names of the counterfeited goods.

Police Chief R.A. Cooper told WTSB News on Monday that no additional arrests are anticipated.

Selma Postpones Sewer Rate Hike Until February

(L to R) Councilwoman Jacqueline Lacy and Mayor Cheryl Oliver discuss a proposed sewer rate increase at their Jan. 15th meeting. A vote on the increase was delayed until February. WTSB Photo

For the second straight month, the Selma Town Council has failed to take any action on an increase in sewer rates, but a price increase is likely to be adopted in February.

At their January 15th monthly meeting, Town Manager Jon Barlow proposed a fee adjustment that would charge more to in-town customers who use 2,000 gallons or more monthly, and more to all-of-town customers.

For example, in city residents would pay the same amount, $7.50 per month for 0-999 gallons, and $6.65 for 1000-1999 gallons. Out of town customers would pay $15.00 per month for 0-999 gallons up from $12.50, and $13.30 for 1000-1999 gallons, up from $10.15.

The proposed increase would generate an estimated $421,000, which would cut into the $600,000 proposed deficit in the Selma Sewer Fund this fiscal year.

However, Mayor Cheryl Oliver and town council members expressed concerns there were too may tiered rates which could be confusing for both citizens and town staff to interpret. And there was little being done to encourage conservation.

Councilman Eric Sellers said he did not want to adopt a rate that would penalize business customers who used more, while also wanting to help residents who conserve. 

A motion was unanimously approved asking Barlow to return in February with two different proposed rate increase, one a flat rate and one a simplier tiered rate structure.

Either way, Selma residential and business customers will likely see a rate hike averaging up to $2.00 more per 1,000 gallons to help generate additional revenue for the sewer fund.

For the past 5 years, Selma’s sewer fund has been losing money because for every 100 gallons of water sold, 158 gallons of sewage is sent to Johnston County for treatment. The reason is due to aging sewer lines dating back to the 1940’s that have developed leaks allow water runoff to infiltrate the lines. 

Local Growers Place In State Agriculture Yield Contest

Pictured left to right: Eric and Chavis Lee, Tim Britton, and Hunter and John Langdon. Not Pictured Ray Boswell.

John Langdon Farms of Benson placed first in the State in the No-Till Irrigated Class with a corn yield of 282.4 bushels/acre. The winning corn hybrid was DCK 68-05. This entry was also the first runner up in the State irrigated division.

Ray Boswell of Selma placed first in the district with a yield of 109.6 bushels/acre, planting Southern States 520. Second place was awarded to Harold W Lee and Sons with a yield of 104.4 bushels/acre planting Dyna-Gro 9171.
Harold W. Lee and Sons also won a district award for the most efficient soybean yield, raising 60.4-bushels/acre at a cost of $3.79/bushel and along with Danny Howell of Princeton received recognition for joining the 60-bushel soybean yield club.

Will Boykin of Middlesex received recognition for joining the 70-bushel soybean yield club. Ray Boswell and Harold W Lee and Sons received recognition for joining the 100-bushel wheat yield club.

Tim Britton, Agricultural Extension Agent in Johnston County, received the State Achievement Awards for corn and wheat yields in his district.

The state yield contests are run by North Carolina State University and sponsored by the North Carolina Corn, Small Grains, and Soybean Associations.  

Vote To Fire Town Manager Fails

(Right) Selma Town Manager Jon Barlow listens as a vote is taken to fire him or force his resignation. Barlow kept his job, for now, as the motion failed 3-2.

(Below) Councilmen Tommy Holmes (left) and William Overby make the motion to oust Barlow. WTSB Photos

Selma Town Manager Jon Barlow has his job, at least for now.  In a 3-2 vote, Barlow narrowly held on to his position as town manager following a vote at Thursday night’s council meeting.

At the end of the two-hour meeting, Councilman Tommy Holmes introduced a motion asking Barlow to resign. If Barlow failed to resign, Holmes motion then stipulated that Barlow be fired.  Councilman William Overby seconded the motion, which failed to pass by one vote. 

Mayor Cheryl Oliver and Council members Jackie Lacy and Eric Sellers all voted to keep Barlow as their manager.

The vote comes less than one week after the town council met in closed session on Jan. 9th for a lengthy review of Barlow’s job performance.

Barlow was hired in January 2014. His one-year contract is expiring and town officials have not extended the contract. 

If Barlow resigns he will not receive any severance. If he were fired, he would receive 3 months pay.

One point of contention is a deal the Town reportedly reached with Barlow when he was hired last year.  Barlow was suppose to relocate to Selma within 6 months but requested and was granted an additional 6-month extension. 

Barlow’s family continues to live in Wake County. Two weeks ago, Barlow reportedly rented an apartment in Selma.

Councilman Overby told WTSB News on Friday Barlow’s job performance is below average. Overby said Barlow first told board members he wanted his family to stay in Wake County to allow his child to finish school. Overby said last week Barlow told him his family did not want to move to Selma.

”If Selma is not good enough for his family, then he is not good enough to work here,” Councilman Holmes told WTSB News Friday. 

”He fails to keep us informed,” Overby added. 

Overby and Holmes promised to hold a vote during every monthly meeting until they get the one additional vote they need to oust the town manager.

On Friday, WTSB News asked Barlow about the vote. Barlow would only say, "It is my pleasure to serve as Town Manager for the Town of Selma.  I have enjoyed the past year and look forward to working on the things that we have planned for the coming year."

School System Prepares For State Report Card
By Laura Crosio  

Johnston County schools are bracing themselves for the release of a statewide grading of public schools that officials feel may not accurately reflect their standards.  During 2012-2013, the NC General Assembly passed legislation that requires an A-F grade on each school.

At a recent school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom (pictured) presented to board members how those rankings are calculated and where JCS may fall.

“There’s been a lot of controversy and I want to make sure the board is aware,” said Croom. “When the grades come out it’s going to be concerning what you see.”

Dr. Croom explained it’s a statewide controversy that stems from how lawmakers calculated the formula to grade each school. He noted 80% is based on proficiency while the remaining 20% of the grade is centered on the school’s growth. School leaders across the state believe the weight should be an equal 50/50 split.

Another cause for concern is the new grades are coming on the heels of implementing Common Core, which increased higher standards for students and teachers.

“It’s going to take three or four years for teachers to get their hands around the curriculum,” Dr. Croom said. “This is a completely new set of standards and measurements but over time you will see the scores go up.”

“I don’t have a concern about what we’re doing,” said Board Member Dr. Peggy White. “It just makes me furious that we have a culture that says we have to put a number on everything.”

Grades are slated to be released on Feb. 5.

Archer Lodge Approves Memorial Site
By Laura Crosio    

The town of Archer Lodge is one step closer to their goal of creating a memorial honoring locals who have served in the armed forces.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            On Jan. 12, officials approved a 5,000 square foot permanent location adjacent to town hall to begin the project. Recognizing veterans is a long-running tradition in the community. Each July, Archer Lodge hosts a Family Fun Day that dedicates a portion of the program to honoring military members, according to Councilman Mark Wilson.

Wilson said the project has been in the works for over a year and now with the approval of a site, the memorial committee will move forward with seeking bids from landscape architects to begin construction. The design will be based on a concept brought to the town by members of the Corinth Holders High School Art Club.

The memorial will include a monument containing the engraved names of veterans both past and present, podiums representing each branch of the military, paved walkways, memorial benches and landscaped grounds.

“We were very pleased with the design presented to us by Corinth Holders and their art club,” said Wilson. “It indicated to us that the younger generation wanted to be involved and that maybe they will not forget the older generation and the veterans who have served.”

Wilson said the estimated cost of the project is $150,000. The seven-member veteran’s memorial committee will begin fundraising in the coming months and hopes to fund the project exclusively with private and corporate donations.