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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Cooley was confined under a $275,000 bond.

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

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

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

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

Authorities tell WTSB News that additional arrests are anticipated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Altogether, the facilities can accommodate 1,200 residents.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dropout Rate Continues To Decline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clayton Approves Customer Service E-Mail Policy Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Man Convicted Of Shooting Mother, Paralyzing Son In 2012 Shooting

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


SSS Student Arrested

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

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

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

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

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


Princeton High Student Facing Alcohol, Assault Charges

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

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

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

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


Suspect Charged With Injuring Law Enforcement K-9

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

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

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

Captain Fish said additional charges and additional arrests are likely.


Selma Police Getting Uniform Makeover

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

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

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

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

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

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


Highway Patrol Kicks Off Operation Slow Down

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

A county ordinance regarding the issue took effect last December.

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

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

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

New Copier Contract Could Save Smithfield $16,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Clayton High School DECA Chapter Shines At State Competition 


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

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

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

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

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

Zebulon Lions Club Recognizes Corinth-Holders Students 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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


Arrest Made In 2013 Fraud Case

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

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

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

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


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

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

Hodge allegedly left without paying for the items.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mills was suspended with pay following her arrest. 

 

Superintendent Proposes 12% Increase In Funding From County

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 
Cleveland Requests Recreational Funds From County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Controversy Over Smithfield-Selma Schools Continues

(Left) School Board Member Keith Branch and School Board Attorney Jimmy Lawrence listen to a presentation from Susan Lassiter (lower right) a member of the Citizens' Study Commission about Smithfield Selma area schools. WTSB Photos

The saga over the state of Smithfield-Selma area schools and what should be done to improve them continues.
The latest controversy started Monday during a WTSB Radio interview with Smithfield Mayor John Lampe.

In that interview, Mayor Lampe said the Town of Smithfield should sue the school system for what it’s done to Smithfield schools.

The mayor also said Smithfield residents should “show up at every school board meeting with a bag of rotten tomatoes and start throwing them at people and raise bloody hell about everything that’s wrong.”

At Wednesday’s school board meeting, Board Member Keith Branch thanked the audience for not bringing tomatoes.

During the public comment period, Susan Lassiter of the Citizens’ Study Commission addressed the Board of Education on the issue.

Members of the commission include Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver, Smithfield Council Member Emery Ashley, Smithfield Town Manager Paul Sabiston, and M. Durwood Stephenson all who were present at the school board meeting.

Lassiter said that Smithfield-Selma High School for several years has lagged behind other county schools’ scores.
Sixty-six percent of the students at SSS qualify for free or reduced lunches.

“During our study, we’ve learned that successful school districts make every effort to help their weakest schools with additional resources, strong leadership and strong teachers,” Lassiter said.

After her presentation, Lassiter and Mayor Oliver distributed copies of a report prepared by the commission to School Superintendent Ed Croom and the Board of Education.

Dr. Croom and school board members acknowledged the problems, defended Johnston County School’s handling of the Smithfield-Selma area schools and challenged the communities to become more involved.


“To turn these schools around is going to take a community effort,” Dr. Croom said.

Croom suggested scheduling meetings with school board members, members of the Smithfield and Selma town councils and other community leaders to explore options.

“Money alone won’t solve these problems,” Dr. Croom said.
“We’ve got to quit beating each other down and start working together,” Branch said.


Civitas Poll: Strong Support For Teacher Tenure Law

The latest Civitas Poll suggests strong public support for a new state law that requires local school systems to end tenure.

The new law instead allows districts to offer the top-performing teachers four-year contracts with guaranteed pay raises each year of the contract.

According to the poll, 64 percent of respondents said they support a new system for improving teacher quality and increasing the salaries of the best teachers.

"The results tell us two things. First, most North Carolinians are not sold on teacher tenure as something that benefits teachers and students alike. Second, the results tell us North Carolinians are committed to ensuring students have access to high-quality teachers in every classroom," said Dr. Robert Luebke, Senior Policy Analyst with the Civitas Institute. "North Carolinians strongly support policies to raise teacher quality, and that's important for all of us to remember.”

The poll asked a variety of education questions on topics, including teacher tenure, public spending, teacher pay and Common Core.

Significant findings include:  57 percent of respondents think the average salary for a public school teacher is too low, and 74 percent support a plan to raise the annual starting pay of teachers to $35,000. North Carolina residents are largely divided over Common Core: 37 percent support and 36 percent oppose the education standards, with 26 percent undecided.

When informed as to how much is actually spent per student, the percentage of respondents who believe North Carolina does not spend enough on education declines from 71 to 50 percent.

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

The Civitas Institute is a policy institute based in Raleigh.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Divided Selma Council Approves Land Option Agreement
The Selma Town Council, in a 3 to 2 vote, approved a new option agreement this week for a 70-acre tract in the Selma Crossings site.

Planning Director Jack Newman (pictured) said change in ownership of any property in a certified site must have a new option contract.

The owner of the 70-acre tract was the late Nancy Frost Rouse. The property has since passed on to several heirs.

The new option contract approved Tuesday for the Town’s recertification is two years.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce will meet at the end of the month to consider the Town’s application.
Rocky Lane with the firm Sanford Holshouser is handling the recertification process for the Town.

Mayor Cheryl Oliver, Mayor Pro-tem Jacqueline Lacy and Council Member Eric Sellers voted to approve the new option agreement. Council members Tommy Holmes and William Overby voted against it.


First Graduates To Have University of Mount Olive Diploma

Kenly Pastor To Serve As Baccalaureate Speaker

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

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

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

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

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


Two Charged With Possessing Narcotics
Two Clayton residents were arrested on felony drug charges during a traffic stop Wednesday on Barber Mill Road.

A Johnston County sheriff’s deputy stopped a vehicle around 12:20pm for a traffic violation, according to Tammy Amaon, spokesperson for the department.

During the traffic stop, the deputy reportedly found a small amount of suspected cocaine inside the vehicle.

The driver, Teshoma Rodjeska Tomlinson, 41, and the passenger, Cassandra Woodard Williams, 52, both of Applewood Drive, Clayton were both charged with one count of felony possession of cocaine.

Both were booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $10,000 bond.


Benson Man Arrested For Cocaine Possession

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) said a deputy allegedly located a small amount of cocaine in a car during a traffic stop Wednesday morning near Clayton.

Rodney Louis Barbour Jr., 45, of Rose Court, Benson was arrested following a vehicle stop around 11am in the 400 block of Slate Top Road.

Barbour was charged with felony possession of cocaine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.  Barbour was given a $10,500 bond by a magistrate on the two charges.


Princeton Man Facing Drug Charges In Wayne County

A Princeton man has been arrested by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office on drug charges.  James Darden of Dave Howell Lane was arrested Tuesday.

A member of the department’s Aggressive Criminal Enforcement (ACE) Team located a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of Wal-Mart in Wayne County.  Darden was reportedly found inside the vehicle along with suspected methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia.

Darden was charged with possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia.

 

Selma Honors Firefighters, 911 Dispatcher For Life Saving Efforts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

Clayton Approves Rezoning Requests For Sheetz Store, Riverwood Expansion

(Left) Developer Fred Smith speaks during a public hearing Monday night before the Clayton Town Council on the expansion of Riverwood. WTSB Photo

Despite some opposition, the Clayton Town Council approved zoning requests Monday for a new Sheetz convenience store and expansion of the Riverwood Athletic Club community.

The new Sheetz store will be located on Hwy 70 Business West at NC42 East.

The request was to rezone 2 ½ acres from Residential to Highway Business Special Use District, included 7 properties owned by 5 separate owners.

The Town planning staff recommended approval because the rezoning is consistent with the long-range Strategic Growth Plan for this area which forecasts major commercial development of this area.

That projected development includes a transportation plan that includes a “South Connector” which would ultimately connect NC 42 East to NC 42 West via Rose Street.

Four residents spoke in opposition stating that the residential neighborhood was not ready to be zoned commercial and that the majority of property owners opposed the change.

Enough property owners signed a protest petition that a supermajority was required from council for the project to move forward, meaning at least 4 of the 5 council members would need to approve the rezoning.

Council members approved the rezoning to commercial by a vote of 4 to 1, with Councilman Jason Thompson dissenting.

Thompson stated that while he liked Sheetz convenience stores, he wanted to represent the concerns of the residents and argued that with funding for the South Connector so far off, the timing was not right for commercial development at this time.

Other council members stated the location on busy Highway 70 was prime for such development.

Mayor Jody McLeod stressed that residents would still be able to further participate in the design of the development during the special use permit process which would require another neighborhood meeting and council approval.

In the other zoning matter, the council unanimously approved rezoning 46 acres located at 3131 Covered Bridge Road and adjacent to the Riverwood Athletic Club for the expansion of 156 single-family homes.

No one spoke in opposition, although a petition had been presented earlier by some residents opposed to the expansion.

Council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning after hearing from developer Fred Smith.

Smith said that the narrow curving streets, integration with the school system and surrounding amenities, commitment to environmental preservation and conservation would continue to provide a quality development in Riverwood with this addition of more than 150 new homes.

 

Clayton Ranked Among Top 10 Places To Live In NC
A few local towns have made it on the list of the Top 10 places to live in North Carolina.

The Town of Clayton tied with Cary for ninth place.  Garner was ranked sixth. And Knightdale was ranked third.

Movoto Real Estate selected North Carolina for their latest state to see what towns are the best to call home.  Factors included the overall cost of living like food and utility costs, the median home price, unemployment rank, and the adjusted median income.

Only towns with a population over 10,000 people were in the running. And that left 83 towns in the competition.

The top 10 most affordable towns, as ranked by Movoto Real Estate, were:

1. Town of Indian Trail
2. Town of Stallings
3. Town of Knightdale
4. City of Monroe
5. City of Thomasville
6. Town of Garner
7. Town of Holly Springs
8. Town of Lewisville
9. Town of Cary
9. Town of Clayton

Movoto highlighted several benefits about living in Clayton. Among them, the famous downtown sculpture trail, the beautiful Hocutt-Ellington Public Memorial Library, the Clayton Center, and the Clayton Youth Theater.

Clayton scores especially well in its ranking for low cost of miscellaneous expenses, a score of 95 where the national average is 100; and also for its low unemployment rate of 8.7 percent. Overall, Clayton’s cost of living is 100—right on track with the national average and four points higher than the state average—but with this town’s high median household income of $50,282, it actually works out to be more affordable for residents in the end.


Selco Wins Bid For Smithfield Street Resurfacing Project
Selco Construction of Smithfield has been awarded the Town of Smithfield’s 2013-2014 Street Resurfacing Project.

Of the six companies who bid, Selco came in lowest at $228,036.78. The highest bidder was Nu-Tech Paving of Youngsville at $484,024.40 Other bidders were ST Wooten Construction, Johnson Brothers, Turner Asphalt and Barner Construction.

Public Works Director Lenny Branch (pictured) told the Smithfield Town Council the resurfacing project consists of 15 city streets, including repair work to replace sections of North Bright Leaf Boulevard near Johnston Medical Center that were damaged by a broken water line earlier this year.

Branch said the budgeted amount for this project is $290,000, leaving a balance of $61,963.22.