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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 Accepts Job In Virginia
Friday will be the last day on the job for Smithfield Public Utilities Director Ken Griffin.

Griffin has 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 has 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

Arrest Made In 2011 Murder
A man has been arrested in connection to a more than three-year-old murder case. 

Gasper Nunez, 27, of Angier has been indicted in the death of 25-year-old Shawn Brandon Scott of Angier which occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2011. 

Mr. Scott’s then-fianceé, Elizabeth Phillips, became concerned when Mr. Scott didn’t meet her at a Fuquay-Varina Walmart that night as they had planned. Ms. Phillips, the couple’s daughter, Ava Renee Scott, and other family members had been waiting for Mr. Scott to join them Christmas shopping later that evening.

Ms. Phillips returned to find Mr. Scott had been fatally shot at his home on Packhouse Court, just off Oak Grove Church Road, Thanksgiving Day.

Mr. Nunez was indicted on felony murder charges and attempted robbery with a deadly weapon. 

He had been convicted previously in Harnett and Johnston counties on a variety of charges from breaking and entering and larceny to possession with intent to distribute drugs. 

According to sheriff reports, Mr. Nunez was brought in by a bondsman from Phoenix Bail Bonds sometime before 5 a.m. Monday. He was listed as an absconder from parole or probation prior to his arrest. 

Mr. Scott’s father, Perry Scott, said he has “mixed emotions.” 

“I’m glad to know they got the indictment, but this is just the beginning,” he said. “I’m hoping we have enough evidence to make a conviction...  I’m looking forward to a conviction so we can get justice.” 

Mr. Scott said he was stunned to get the news of an arrest.  “You know, it’s been 40 months since this happened,” he said Monday. “To get the call today was just … it’s a big surprise. Now I’m looking to what comes next.” 

Mr. Scott doesn’t know what information broke the case and Harnett County Sheriff’s Major Jeff Huber said he couldn’t say as the case was pending. Courtesy The Daily Record

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

Rouzer Chairs First Subcommittee Hearing
Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee, held a public hearing to examine the implications of potential retaliatory measures against the United States in response to its country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef and pork.

In 2002, Congress initially adopted a country-of-origin labeling requirement for meat products despite serious concerns that it would not comply with trade commitments. Subsequently, the law was amended ion 2008 and immediately challenged in the World Trade Organization (WTO) by Canada and Mexico, the main livestock exporters to the U.S. The WTO has since ruled three times in their favor, and members and witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing stressed the significance of the U.S. potentially losing its fourth and final appeal.

“We could be looking at substantial retaliatory sanctions against agriculture and a variety of other industries,” Chairman Rouzer said. “As we heard from our panel of witnesses, the threat of retaliation is severe, and Congress must act quickly to prevent irreparable damage to certain industries and the overall economy. After hearing from members of the agriculture and business communities, it is more apparent than ever that this committee must not only fully understand the potential consequences following the WTO decision, but to be ready with a legislative solution. I remain committed to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to avoid retaliation.”

Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said, “I applaud Chairman Rouzer’s leadership on this urgent issue. I agree with my colleagues on this subcommittee that we should look into all ramifications of the WTO decision so we can find a way to maintain trade with our main livestock markets, Canada and Mexico. Meat industries knew from the start that this policy would not hold up in the WTO, but Congress didn’t listen, and we have seen major costs with no benefits. COOL has been a failed experiment from the start, and now the economic damages we could face will be felt by all Americans, not just the agriculture industry.”

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.   

Two Vehicles Stolen From Selma Garage

A vehicle seized by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and another car towed after it was involved in a traffic accident were both stolen from a garage over-the-weekend.

James Ross, owner of Bull’s Performance on South Ethel Street in Selma, noticed the vehicles missing from his storage yard on Monday.

One of the vehicles was a green 2002 Jeep Cherokee towed for the sheriff’s office. The second was a red 2008 Pontiac G8 that was towed from a traffic accident a week earlier in Selma.

Selma Police quickly located the Pontiac parked on King Circle, but don’t know how the vehicle got there since it was so badly damaged in the wreck it could not be driven. A baby seat and bag of diapers in the vehicle were missing.

As of Wednesday, the stolen Jeep had still not been located.

The Pontiac was towed back to the garage.

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.    

Driver Arrested For Identity Theft
A Selma man was arrested for identity theft after he allegedly provided a false name and drivers license during a traffic stop.

Smithfield Police stopped a vehicle around 11:07am Tuesday on Outlet Center Drive.

Police Captain R.K. Powell said the driver, David Abraham Macias, 24, of Godwin Lane, Selma presented the drivers license of another person named David, but with a different last name.

The officer determined Macias was not that individual and arrested him for felony identity theft.  Police suspect Macias may have used a fictitious name to avoid being ticketed for driving on a revoked license, however he was also cited for that offense.

Macias was incarcerated in the Johnston County Jail under a $42,000 bond.    


Senate Reforms Address Decades-Long Unfairness In Sales Tax
On Monday, NC Senator Brent Jackson (R-Sampson-Johnston) joined Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Onslow) as a sponsor on legislation to reform the state sales tax system to ensure all North Carolina counties benefit from tax dollars their own citizens pay – so they have the local resources necessary to strengthen public education, attract new jobs and contribute to the state’s economy.
The bill proposes a three-year phase-in to a per capita sales tax system – so citizens from the state’s rural counties no longer involuntarily redistribute their tax dollars to subsidize urban counties when they drive to those areas to spend their money.

Instead, those who purchase goods will actually benefit locally from the sales tax dollars they spend.

“For decades, North Carolina’s rural and less economically developed counties have essentially subsidized more urban and economically established counties through this outdated, unbalanced sales tax system,” said Jackson (pictured). 

“Senator Brown’s bill will tip the scales in the other direction, ensuring that rural counties receive their fair share of the tax revenue generated by their own residents.  These changes will promote growth in rural North Carolina and hopefully avoid property tax increases by providing rural counties with additional revenue to fund crucial programs such as education, public safety, and infrastructure.”

Three of the state’s most economically thriving counties receive a disproportionate share of sales tax revenue – Mecklenburg, Wake and Durham – were awarded over 85 percent of state JDIG incentive funds last year and receive more dollars under the new transportation funding plan – programs paid for by all taxpayers.

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.”

DOT Maintenance Crews Focusing On Filling Potholes
With another long winter hopefully in the rear-view mirror, N.C. Department of Transportation maintenance crews in Division Four, which includes Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Wayne and Wilson counties, are now focusing efforts on filling potholes along state-maintained roads in the region.

“Right now our desired turnaround time on fixing priority potholes is 24 hours pending weather conditions,” said Division Four Maintenance Engineer Chris Pendergraph. “Unfortunately a lot of the potholes we are currently seeing are shallow and cannot be fixed with cold patch. We ask the public for patience as these potholes will be addressed when we are able to use hot-mix asphalt.”

Since most asphalt plants do not operate during winter months and “hot mix” asphalt is not available, crews have been using “cold patch,” as well as spray patchers, to fix the holes as an interim treatment. Cold patch is a premix that NCDOT stockpiles for winter pothole response.

As asphalt plants begin operations this season, crews will transition from cold patch to hot mix as it becomes available.

Potholes are common during winter months when moisture seeps into cracks in the pavement, freezes, expands and then thaws. When the ice expands, it causes the cracks to widen and the asphalt layer to rise. Traffic then loosens the pavement, which eventually creates a pothole. Because potholes can quickly form without warning, we urge motorists to be on the lookout and pay special attention to the roadway.

Motorists can help the department by reporting potholes. If you see a pothole on a state-maintained road, report it by calling 1-877-368-4968, or by filling out a form online at www.ncdot.gov/contact. Click on “County Contacts” on the left side of your screen and then select your county. Once you fill out the form, it will be sent to the appropriate NCDOT office.

To help crews locate the pothole, be sure to provide as much information as possible about its location, including the city or county, road name, nearest intersection, which lane the pothole is in, and the size and depth of the pothole. If a pothole is in a work zone, the contractor will be notified and is responsible for fixing it. You should contact your local municipality to report a pothole on a road that is not maintained by NCDOT.

The location, size and depth of the pothole determine its priority. Potholes within travel lanes of major routes will be first priority. Potholes on shoulders will be less of a priority, as will shallow ones.

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.

Man Buys Car With Stolen Identity

A man who wanted by Johnston County deputies was arrested last week in Florence County, SC.  Robert Gonzalez, 35, of Goldsboro was returned to Johnston County on Monday where he was formally charges.

Gonzalez is accused of stealing the identity of a Clayton man the using the victim’s personal information to purchase a 2012 Chrysler 200 from CarMax in Raleigh.

The victim was an acquaintance of the suspect.

While Gonzalez is in custody, the vehicle has still not been located.

Gonzalez was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses and identity theft, both felony charges.  He was also wanted at the time of his arrest for six probation violation warrants and for failing to appear in court on two traffic charges.

At last report, Gonzalez was in the Johnston County Jail where he was held under a $172,500 bond.        

Police Impound Vehicle From DWI Suspect
Smithfield Police seized a vehicle from a DWI suspect during a traffic stop Saturday night.

According to a police spokesperson, Geraldo Mendoza, 35, of the 7000 block of Highway 210, Smithfield was stopped in the 2000 block of South Brightleaf Boulevard around 10:45pm.

Police charged Mendoza with driving while impaired and driving on a revoked license.

He registered 0.24 on the Breathalyzer, three times above the legal limit of 0.08, police said. 

Captain R.K. Powell said a Chrysler 300 Mendoza was driving was impounded because he had a prior conviction for DWI. 

Pair Accused Of Trying To Defraud Walmart 

Two women were arrested at Wal-Mart in Smithfield on Sunday on felony charges.

Smithfield Police Captain R.K. Powell said the suspects entered the business, removed a $26.92 box of diapers from the shelf, failed to pay for the items at the cash register, but took the diapers to the customer service counter seeking a refund, as if it were purchased.

Ashley Nicole Beasley, 24, (top left) of Blackmon Road, Four Oaks and Hannah Christine House, 25, (top right) of Allen Court, Four Oaks were arrested at the scene and charged with one count each of felony obtaining property by false pretenses.

Beasley was given a $25,000 bond. House was given a $20,000 bond.

Smithfield Man Accused Of Stealing Cell Phones From Wal-Mart

A Smithfield man is accused of removing anti-theft devices in an attempt to steal two cell phones from Wal-Mart at 1299 North Brightleaf Boulevard.

Smithfield Police were called to the business around 9pm Saturday.

Police Captain R.K. Powell said Trevor Elijah Grice, 20, of Lansdown Place, Smithfield was located at the scene and charged with felony larceny by defeating an anti-theft device.

The two phones valued at $179.76 were recovered.

Grice was processed at the Johnston County Jail and given a $20,000 bond.


Princeton Woman Charged In Work Zone Traffic Death Of DOT Worker
A Department of Transportation worker was killed Monday in the US70 Goldsboro Bypass work zone after being hit by an impaired driver.

The accident happened at 10:59am on US70 near Capps Bridge Road in Wayne County, three miles from the Johnston County line.

The Highway Patrol says a 2003 Saturn Vue driven by Tahisha M. Dukette, 28, of Hanson Drive, Princeton was traveling westbound on US70. Dukette traveled off the roadway into the median and struck a DOT worker identified as William Grey Bailey, 36, of Kenly. 

Bailey died at the scene from his injuries.

Dukette was placed under arrest and charged with driving while impaired, felony death by vehicle, and child endangerment. She was transported to the Wayne County Jail for processing. Troopers said Dukette had two children in her vehicle. They were not injured during the collision.

The Highway Patrol Reconstruction unit is assisting with the investigation.

Bailey was an engineering technician and had been with the DOT since March 2010.  Photos courtesy JoCoFire.com and John Payne 

Suspicious Fire Heavily Damages Downtown Clayton Home
Clayton Police are investigating a suspicious house fire.

Around 2:30am Sunday, a police officer was on routine patrol and noticed a lot of smoke in the downtown area.

The officer was able to trace the smoke to a house that was on fire at 332 West Second Street.

The abandoned house was heavily damaged by the fire.

The Clayton, Archer Lodge, Cleveland and Garner Fire Departments responded to the scene along with Johnston County EMS.

No injuries were reported.

Exactly how the fire began is under investigation, but officials are treating the blaze as suspicious. Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

Ultralight Pilot Unhurt In Crash

(Right) An ultra light plane is loaded into the back of a pickup truck after it crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday afternoon in Harnett County. No injuries were reported. Photo by John Payne

A 71 year-old man walked away from an ultralight plane crash Sunday afternoon.

The pilot had just left from a private ultralight field off Highway 421 near the Harnett County Jetport when the crash occurred.

Reports indicate the pilot was at an altitude of 500 feet when he experience and engine problem. He was unable to make it back to the runway and had to make a hard landing around 4:30pm.

The pilot, who did not give his name, said he hoped to have the plane repaired and flying again “within 6 months.” 

The Harnett County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.  Photo by John Payne

Johnston’s Jobless Rate Increases To 5.2 Percent
Johnston County’s unemployment rate increased in January, the latest month where individual county statistics are available.

The county jobless rate was at 4.5 percent in December. It jumped to 5.2 percent in January. However, that is still 0.8 percent lower than the unemployment rate in January 2014.

A total of 98 counties in NC saw unemployment rates increase in January, while only two saw lower jobless numbers.

The statewide unemployment rate increased from 5.0 percent in December 2014 to 5.9 percent in January 2015. 

In real numbers, 4,467 people are without jobs in Johnston County, out of a labor force of 85,395.

In North Carolina, 273,212 are without employment out of a labor force of 4,636,703, according to the NC Department of Commerce – Labor and Economic Analysis Division. 

KS Bank Robbery Suspects Captured In Clayton

(Right) Marquize Harris and Phillip Williams both of Goldsboro were arrested at a Clayton hotel after Goldsboro Police said they robbed the KS Bank on Wayne Memorial Drive on March 18th.

Two people charged in the March 18th armed robbery of KS Bank on Wayne Memorial Drive in Goldsboro were arrested that night in Johnston County, thanks to some alert Clayton police officers.

Around 10:13am last Tuesday, two masked gunmen entered the Goldsboro bank, fired a single shot into the ceiling, and demanded money.

There were several customers and employees in the bank at the time of the robbery but no one was injured.

Later that night, Clayton Police received a call to respond to the Comfort Suites on US70 after hotel patrons complained of suspicious activity on the second floor.  While investigating the complaint, two men and two women were detained.  Information gathered at the hotel led Clayton Police to notify Goldsboro Police of their findings.

Clayton and Goldsboro Police then conducted a search warrant on two hotel rooms and a vehicle in the hotel parking lot.  Authorities said they seized evidence in both rooms and the car that tied all four suspects to the robbery.

Marquize Marcel Harris, 25, of E. Walnut Street, Goldsboro and Phillip Alexander Williams, 30, of Maple Street, Goldsboro were charged by Goldsboro Police with robbery, discharging a firearm to incite fear, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Both Harris and Williams were also charged with seven counts of kidnapping.

Harris was also wanted at the time on several outstanding arrest warrants including possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver heroin, possession of cocaine, possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of marijuana.  He was confined in the Wayne County Jail under a $10,259,999.

Williams was also wanted at the time on warrants charging him with possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon, allowing vicious animals/dogs to run at large, and possession of marijuana.  His bond was set at $10,212,199.

Goldsboro Police said they expected more arrests to be made. 

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.

Man Caught At Landfill Hiding Inside Trash Dumpster

A Mt. Olive man was arrested Friday for allegedly trespassing at the Wayne County Landfill.     

A deputy was on patrol around 2:00am that morning and found the suspect hiding inside a 40-yard trash container at the landfill.

Justin Paris Best, 29, was arrested and charged with trespassing. He was given a $500 bond.

Authorities did not say why Best was at the landfill or inside the dumpster.


Budine Graduates From Basic Training
Air Force Airman 1st Class Kelsey N. Budine graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

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

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

Budine is the daughter of Robin Budine of Efland, N.C., and sister of Chris Budine of Clayton, N.C., and Kayla Budine of Watford City, N.D.

She is a 2010 graduate of Orange High School, Hillsborough, N.C. She earned an bachelor's degree in 2014 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, N.C.

DMV Issuing Voter ID Cards In Preparation For 2016 Elections

With the 2016 elections fast approaching, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is continuing its joint effort with the North Carolina State Board of Elections to issue no-fee voter ID cards and register qualified voters at all driver license offices statewide.

As directed by the General Assembly in accordance with the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA – House Bill 589), effective January 1, 2016, North Carolina will require all voters to present valid photo identification to cast a ballot in the upcoming elections.

“The Division will continue to support the process of registering North Carolinians to vote and issuing no-fee voter ID cards,” said NCDMV Commissioner Kelly Thomas. “We want to remind everyone that you can complete this process as a priority service at any of the 114 driver license offices across the state. Don’t wait until the last minute.”

“We at the State Board of Elections are committed to ensuring that every eligible voter has proper ID ahead of 2016,” said NCSBE Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach. “Our dedicated outreach staff stands ready to help.”

According to House Bill 589, voters who are present to cast their ballot, either on the day of a primary election or early voting, will be required to show one of the following acceptable forms of photo identification:

There are no photo ID requirements for persons who vote via a by-mail absentee ballot, although by-mail absentee voters will need to provide identification information when requesting an absentee ballot.

No-fee ID cards are available at all driver license locations for residents who have no other valid form of identification as per House Bill 589. Applicants will need to present documents that verify their age and identity, their residency address in North Carolina and provide a valid Social Security number. The Division has posted document requirements for the card on its website http://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/driver/id/

Applications for cards can be made at any driver license office. The cards are mailed to applicants 10 to 15 days following the completion of an application.

New Assessments For Kindergarten Students

By Laura Crosio

Starting next year, kindergarten students in Johnston County will undergo a new assessment process approved by state lawmakers. 

The K-3 Formative Assessment will study students in early grades and follows North Carolina’s Early Learning and Development Standards and the Standard Course of Study (Common Core).

Teachers will assess students in areas that include cognitive, language development and physical development. The process will occur during instruction time by observing students, asking questions and listening to student thinking, according to Dr. Rodney Peterson, the school’s chief academic officer. He also noted the program is similar to how teachers are currently assessing in the classroom.

Peterson also said although the program is to meet the requirements of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant, the district will not receive any extra funding for this program. This had some school officials concerned.

“We are currently using a lot of fund balance to make ends meet,” said Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom. “This is legislative mandate that needs to be done. We are already spending more than what we’re taking in. To pick this up, we need to make cuts. We have schools where over 80 percent of our kindergarten students show up under proficient.”

According to school officials, figures for this program will be included in next year’s budget forecast and presented within the next few Board of Education meetings.


Towns Of Smithfield And Selma Discussing Possible Merger Of Some Departments

Police, Fire Departments Initially Being Considered

Discussions are underway between the Towns of Smithfield and Selma to see if a merger of one or more departments would be beneficial to the municipalities.

Smithfield Town Council members Perry Harris, Travis Scott and Charles Williams, along with Mayor John Lampe met Monday to discuss the pros and cons.

Officials are initially taking a look at public safety, which includes the fire and police departments.

Scott told WTSB News he has a lot of concerns about any type of merger, especially with the Smithfield Fire Department and Selma Fire Department. While savings could be realized by having only one fire chief, versus the salaries of two fire chiefs, Smithfield is currently spending $1.5 million annually on their fire department, while Selma is only spending $500,000.

Scott said there could be enough savings to build a second fire station but has concerns if you merge only one department, it may not be the best thing for the citizens and taxpayers.

“It is more beneficial to look at the entire town versus one department,” Councilman Scott told WTSB News on Thursday. “If you bought a store, you would buy the entire store, not just one department in the store.”

Another concern for the first term Smithfield council member is what does Selma have to offer Smithfield.  “From a personal opinion, a merger would create more problems than it would do good.”

When the Smithfield Town Council meetings Tuesday, March 24th they could vote to ask for a formal meeting with the Selma Town Council to discuss a merger, even though the likelihood of a merger does seem slim.

Scott said after talks are held and the council thinks a merger is the best thing for Smithfield, then the facts should be presented to the public and allow the citizens to vote and make the final decision.      

In recent years, economic development studies have noted that towns like Smithfield and Selma could be more successful and save money if they merge with neighboring communities.  

Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver said she will ask members of the Selma Town Council at their March 26th work session if they would like to hold merger talks with the Town of Smithfield.

Olive expected members of both councils to meet jointly and determine if this is something they want to explore further.

Last fall, Mayor Oliver, Selma Town Manager Jon Barlow, Smithfield Town Manager Paul Sabiston, and Smithfield Mayor John Lampe met. That’s when the merger idea was first mentioned, Oliver said.

“Two obvious goals would be cost savings and or cost avoidance and improved service,” Mayor Oliver told WTSB News Thursday. “Again, we're just getting going. Other goals may be identified during our joint meeting.” 

Sabiston said discussions are “extremely preliminary at this point.” 

“The two towns have only briefly discussed at this point the concepts and there have not been any full meetings between the towns – only a couple of informal discussions with the mayors and managers. 

Following the March 16th meeting by Smithfield leaders Sabiston said, “…it was the consensus that if we decide to pursue the matter in earnest that we share with Selma the services of a consultant to help advise both towns as to the benefits and issues that may arise in such a joint operation.”    

Selma Town Councilman William Overby, who has already announced he would run for Mayor in November said Friday, “I am totally against it right now.”  Overby said it was concerning to learn about the merger talks from outside sources and not from Selma leaders. “Mayor Oliver has hidden it and kept it undercover from members of the Selma town council.” 

Selma Town Councilman Tommy Holmes says a merger was not feasible, saying Smithfield has 2-1/2 times the population of Selma.  “I don’t think it’s going to work out. We’ll go through the talks with them. As far as voting on a merging the two towns, no. Selma is Selma. Smithfield is Smithfield. I’ve talked to some Selma citizens and they’re dead against it. 

“How is it going to work out? To me it’s out of the question,” Holmes said.                    

Cooper Elementary Students Featured At Clayton Art Gallery

(Top photo) Cooper Elementary talented artists (from left) are Zachary Hoss, Seth Parker, and Kalyn Kyle.

(Bottom) Artwork at the exhibit from Zachary Hoss, Seth Parker, and Kalyn Kyle.

Three students from Cooper Elementary have received the honor of being selected for a young artist exhibit in Clayton in honor of Youth Art Month. 

Art plays an important role in the education of our youth as it helps to develop the skill of critical and creative thinking, strengthens problem-solving abilities, and builds communication as well as collaboration skills, and this March the school has recognized artists in the third, fourth, and fifth grade.

The youth art exhibit is on display through March 27th, at the Thistlebird Art Studio in downtown Clayton. Students selected for the exhibit include third grader Seth Parker, fourth grader Zachary Hoss, and fifth grader Kalyn Kyle.