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1 Killed, 6 Injured In Labor Day Crash
One person was killed and six others were injured in a single vehicle accident on Labor Day Monday in southern Johnston County.

Around 9:08am, the Highway Patrol says a Toyota minivan was traveling eastbound in the left lane of Interstate 40 near the 336 mile marker when the back right tire began to shred, causing the van to veer sharply to the right and overturn several times on the grassy shoulder of the interstate.

The driver, Va Pao Yang, 61, of Hickory, NC, his wife Yer Yang, 58, and their four daughters, Zoua Yang, age 23, Feng Yang, 16, Mai Yang, 17, and Tor Yang, 21, received non-life threatening injuries.

However, Paul Vang, 21, of Hildebran, NC, who was riding in the third row died from his injuries. Vang was the boyfriend of Tor Yang. 

Troopers said speed and alcohol were not contributing factors, and it appeared all the occupants were wearing seat belts.   
Charges are pending.

6 Die In Sampson County Fire
Six people died in a weekend mobile home fire in Sampson County.

The deadly fire broke out around 1:00am Saturday on Gibbs Road just outside of Garland.

Multiple fire departments responded to the early morning blaze that engulfed a singlewide mobile home.

Firefighters discovered 6 bodies inside the burned out structure. 

There are no indications of foul play, but an official determination will not be made until autopsies are completed on the victims.

The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office, Sampson County Fire Marshal’s Office, NC SBI, and federal ATF agents are currently investigating the cause.  Photo courtesy WTVD

6 People Displaced By Pine Level Mobile Home Fire
A Johnston County family of six was left homeless Saturday afternoon after flames ripped through their mobile home.

The fire destroyed a mobile home on Leafwood Court, off Country Store Road, outside of Pine Level.

The family lost all of their belongings. The Red Cross is now assisting them.

No injuries were reported.

The Johnston County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating to determine the origin of the fast-moving fire.  Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

Clayton To Decide Tuesday On Internet Cafe
The Clayton Town Council will decided Tuesday night whether to grant a permit to allow a video sweepstakes café to operate.

The applicant, RNC Entertainment, wants to operate a video sweepstakes business in the former Blockbuster building on US 70 Business Highway in the Wal-Mart Shopping center.

The business plans to operate 80 video gaming machines. The applicant said unaccompanied children under the age of 18 would be prohibited from entering the business.

If approved, this would be the fifth video sweepstakes business in the Town of Clayton. 

The public hearing begins at 6:30pm Tuesday in the Council Chambers located at 111 East Second Street.

County Commissioners To Talk Trash Tuesday

(Left) Rick Proctor, Director of the Johnston County Solid Waste department, spoke to commissioners recently about the need for a long-range funding plan. WTSB Photo

Johnston County Commissioners want the public's opinion on funding options for garbage.

A public hearing will be held Tuesday at 6:00pm at the Johnston County Courthouse to discuss a long-range plan for the Department of Solid Waste Services.

Johnston County residents currently purchase an annual $65 decal to dispose of trash at convenience center sites located across the county.
The Board of County Commissioners are considering other alternatives for funding trash disposal including: eliminating the decal system and adopting a set fee to be assessed on the annual property tax bills, a user pay system, and a recycling fee assessment on the annual tax bills.

Current disposal fees charges to individuals and businesses can sustain the landfill operations but won’t sufficiently increase the reserve fund, officials said.  But money is being lost in other areas.

The county’s yard waste program operates at a loss of $25,000 per year. Recycling operates at a loss of up to $230,000 per year and the convenience sites operate at a loss of up to $1.1 million per year.

One plan being considered is a countywide recycling fee of $5.00 on all residents, businesses and institutions that pay property tax in the County including municipalities.

Also proposed is instituting an availability fee of $50 for all residences, businesses and institutions that pay property tax and don’t already have a solid waste fee assessed by a town and eliminate the decal program.


Selma Eliminates Insurance Coverage For Future Retirees
The Selma Town Council has voted unanimously to eliminate health insurance for future retired employees.

The issue was decided at a special-called Selma Town Council meeting.

Council Member Tommy Holmes (pictured left) made the motion to eliminate the coverage. The motion was seconded by Council Member William Overby and unanimously approved by council.

The policy change will only affect new hires. Retired employees and those already working for the Town will be grand fathered in and will continue to receive insurance benefits after retirement.

Town Clerk Claudia Greenfield said the medical coverage costs the Town $7,000 per year per retiree. She said there are 11 Town employees who have 18 years or more tenure with the Town. Of those 11 employees, some could retire now Greenfield said.

Mayor Cheryl Oliver said the Town could not take this benefit away from employees who are so close to retirement.

Selma's Saggy Pants Draws National Attention

(Right) Selma Town Councilman William Overby is interviewed by the media on August 19 about a proposed saggy pants ordinance. The story later made news across the United States. WTSB Photo

The Selma Town Council's brief flirtation with a ban on saggy pants has drawn national attention.

Council Member William Overby asked the issue be placed on the agenda at the council's August 19th work session.

At that meeting, Overby said that after reviewing minutes from the Dunn City Council about their handling of the issue in 2012 he came to realize such a ban would violate people's rights and he asked Mayor Cheryl Oliver the council to take the issue off the table.

But that didn't stop the issue from going viral on the Internet and being picked up by news outlets throughout the country.

Among the TV stations across the nation which picked up the saggy pants story were stations in Richmond, VA; Savannah, GA; Mobile, AL; Nashville, TN; Biloxi, MS; Lake Charles, LA: Toledo, OH; Springfield, MA; and Phoenix, AZ.

Crews Resurfacing US301 Near Benson
Drivers opting to take US 301 to Benson in the next few weeks should expect to encounter some traffic.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is currently working on a resurfacing project that extends the length of the heavily traveled U.S. 301 — from the Harnett line into Benson and through Johnston County.

According to Benson Public Works Director Don Johnson, crews are currently milling 2 inches from the old asphalt outside Benson and repaving long stretches with fresh blacktop.

The project is wide in scope, he explained, and is set to include the entirety of U.S. 301 in Johnston County.

Paving work is expected to be completed for Benson’s portion during the second week of September, said Mr. Johnson.

Until then, expect some wait times approaching and leaving Benson along U.S. 301 in the form of single lanes and small traffic jams — as road crews grind away old asphalt and smooth over the new.

Johnson said striping the new surfaces would follow the completion of paving next month.

In addition, Benson will use the opportunity to pave portions of roads affected by its Phase I waterline project — small sections cut for drainage and some curb work will be finished within the next few days, explained Mr. Johnson.

In an email sent to Benson administrators, Town Manager Matt Zapp said that extensive paving work would be ongoing for roughly two weeks.

Now, most of the ancillary work has been completed along East Harnett Street, Elm Street, Mann, Hall, Church and Main streets.

Piggybacking off the NCDOT work will help Benson decrease paving costs and expedite area projects before Mule Days in late September, Mr. Zapp noted. Courtesy The Daily Record

Clayton Proclaims September Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Month

The Clayton Town Council Monday proclaimed September as Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Month.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders, affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 people in the United States, including several Clayton residents.

CMT is characterized by a slow and progressive degeneration of the muscles in the feet, lower legs, hands, and arms.

It causes a loss of normal function that can be severely disabling and may be accompanied by chronic pain and overwhelming fatigue.

Mayor Jody McLeod (left) presented a copy of the Town Council’s proclamation to Margaret Lee (right), the President of the Woman’s Club of Clayton.  She suffers from the disease.

Mayor McLeod said the Town Council wishes to remind its citizens of the vital importance of the health care of those around them and to support programs to help people with CMT.


Selma Police Investigating Weekend Crash
Selma Police are investigating a two-car crash Saturday afternoon on Highway 70-A just off Highway 70 East. 

Seven people were inside the two cars that collided. EMS crews took two people to the hospital. The others were checked out at the scene.

The Selma Fire Department and Selma EMS responded to the scene. Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

Hugs, Tears And Laughter Served Up On The Coffee Pot's Last Day

(Top left) Carolyn Artis prepares one of the last meals served at The Coffee Pot in Smithfield, which closed Friday after 35 years of business.

(Lower right) A customer thanks Carolyn Artis for her years of service. WTSB Photos

There were hugs, tears, laughter and lots of coffee served up for the Coffee Pot's last day of operation.

The Smithfield landmark closed its doors Friday after over 35 years of serving faithful customers, including politicians and community leaders.

The restaurant was packed with customers Friday morning who came to enjoy one last breakfast, a cup of coffee and to wish owner Carolyn Artis well.

Carolyn, who began as a dishwasher when the restaurant first opened, said it was time for her to go home.

But the 70-year-old is not planning to slow down. Carolyn says she'll get a part-time job and continue to feed the homeless and homebound.

Carolyn says the hardest thing for her will be when the last table is moved out and the restaurant is empty.

Clerk of Court Will Crocker and State Representative Leo Daughtry are among the many Johnston County notables who've eaten regularly at The Coffee Pot.

Throughout the years, Carolyn says the menu hasn't changed much. The most popular items have been hamburger steak, liver and onions and hundreds of cups of coffee every day.

Jim Jenkins told WTSB's Carl Lamm that he'll miss The Coffee Pot's liver and onions.

In the early days, when she was a dishwasher, Carolyn said Hollywood and Smithfield legend Ava Gardner and her brother Jack had eaten at The Coffee Pot. She said Jack's favorite dish was the hamburger steak.

Waitress Patricia Scott has waited on tables at The Coffee Pot for 27 years and waitress April Maupin has worked there 14 years.

Carolyn described her staff as one big happy family. Her 16-year-old granddaughter Tyra Pearce said she's been working with “Mee-Maw” since she was born. Tyra's dad Tyron Pearce worked there for about 15 years.

Carolyn has 12 children, 28 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

She told WTSB she would like to thank all of her customers for “putting up with her through the years.”

“I've been trying at times but it's been out of the goodness of my heart. Thank you for your support.”

Couple Accused Of Scamming Elderly Woman Out Of $522,742 In Cash, Land

A Smithfield couple is accused of befriending, then defrauding, an elderly woman for more than a half million dollars in cash and land.

On August 21st, Smithfield Police arrested Lewis Mark Parrish, 51, and Paige McCormick Parrish, 47, of Whitley Oaks Court, Smithfield on a felony charge of exploitation of an older adult.  Both posted a $24,500 bond and are free from custody awaiting their trials.

Police Detective R.L. Johnson said in December 2013, the Parrish’s got into the “good graces” of the 92 year-old victim and eventually moved into her home on the pretense of caring for her.

However, the couple allegedly withdrew or spent a total of $174,742 from four of the victim’s bank accounts and also transferred two tracts of land, totaling 64 acres on Cole Road near Clayton, out of the elderly woman’s name, Detective Johnson told WTSB News on Friday.

The land was valued at $348,000.

Altogether, the 92 year-old woman lost $522,742 in cash and land to the Parrish’s, police allege.

Police learned about the incident recently when a niece, who lived out-of-state, came to visit and found the Parrish’s, two total strangers to her family, living with her aunt.  Police were contacted and launched an investigation which led to the couple’s arrest.

Lewis and Paige Parrish are vendors at a local flea market but police said that had nothing to do with the crime.

As for the victim, she cannot recoup any of the money or the land until the Parrish’s go to court.  If convicted, the District Attorney has the authority to freeze the couple’s assets and pursue other legal remedies in an attempt to recover the victim’s cash and land.

The victim was left with a little more than $4,000 in cash in the bank.

Some Students Lacked Desks For Opening Day Of School
Johnston County School officials confirmed Friday that a few students did not have desks to sit in for the opening day of classes on Monday.

The lack of desks was isolated to just one school, Corinth Holders High, which had already borrowed 150 desks from other schools prior to the first day of classes.

Corinth Holders enrollment of 1,621 students is the largest enrollment of any public school in the county.

Tracey Peedin Jones, Public Information Officer, for Johnston County Schools said a larger than expected number of students showed up Monday to enroll. Those students had previously not enrolled at Corinth Holders.

Instead of having the newly-enrolled students wait in the library for a class assignment, they were immediately assigned to a classroom. A “small number” had a class period where there were not enough desks. 

Peedin Jones asked parents to have patience during the first few days of school as class sizes are sorted out, especially at schools like Corinth Holders where more children enrolled than expected.

The NC Department of Public Instruction told Johnston County school leaders earlier this year their projected maximum enrollment for all 44 schools would be 34,096 this school year.  On Thursday, enrollment numbers exceeded that project when 34,239 students showed up for school. 

Peedin Jones expects that number to continue to rise. Officials are expected another increase in enrollment next week after the Labor Day holiday weekend.  

And if parents have questions or concerns, contact their school principal immediately. Parents can also voice their concerns on a new online program called EdChat where anyone can express their opinion 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Smithfield Selma High Welcomes New Athletic Director
Many exciting things are happening at SSS.  In July, Coach Jeffrey Dufour joined the Spartans as the new Athletic Director.  

Dufour previously taught for 12 years in Pitt County, he brings a wealth of experience to the school. His last eight years were spent at Ayden-Grifton High School as the Head Girls’ Varsity Basketball and Head Track and Field Coach.  

When asked about his plan for SSS, Dufour explained how he wants to maximize participation from student athletes and create a culture in which everyone is excited to come to school and participate. He is joined by his wife of 30 years, Sharon Dufour, who will teach in SSS Math Department.

“I believe the big time is where you are, and I believe the big time is here at SSS,” says Dufour, quoting his inspiration, Frosty Westering, veteran coach and professor at Pacific Lutheran University.  

“I’ve seen a lot of great things here at SSS since July, but since the first day of school with students, my enthusiasm has risen quite a few levels.  The students are motivated and excited.  Great things were done in the past, and we’re going to elevate our game and build on those experiences,” Dufour said.  

Smithfield-Selma’s Principal Stephen Baker said, “Spartan pride is really about this community, and what our high school means to us.  It involves the past, present, and our dreams and vision for the future.  Coach Dufour and I are united in this vision, and he brings a skill set that is uniquely suited to help us grow our students into successful student athletes.”  

Ribbon Cutting Held For Wake Radiology

On August 20th, Wake Radiology officially opened its new office at 218 Venture Drive in Smithfield.

The company has 20 locations throughout the Triangle and is a leading provider of medical imaging, including mammograms and MRI.

Dr. Lyndon Jordan III, a Smithfield native and managing partner, cuts the ribbon and celebrates with Smithfield-Selma Chamber members and company staff.   Photo courtesy Smithfield Selma Chamber

Four Oaks Woman Accused Of Prescription Fraud
A Four Oaks woman has been arrested for attempted prescription fraud.

Melissa Thornton Tart, 34, of Flowers Road, Four Oaks was arrested Thursday.

On Monday, August 25th, Smithfield Police allege Tart went to Walgreen’s in Smithfield and attempted to pass a forged prescription, and doctors signature, for oxycodone.

Tart was charged with one felony count of attempted to obtain a controlled substance by fraud or forgery. She was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $10,000 bond.  

Clayton Man Charged In Thefts

Johnston County deputies arrested a Clayton man Thursday afternoon for allegedly stealing items from his own father and two other victims.

Kenneth Charles Kinard, of Sunray Drive, Clayton is facing three counts of felony larceny and three counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.

On June 26th, the victim, Kinard’s father, reported to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office approximately $1,175 in property was taken, according to Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland.  The items, which included a printer, golf clubs, GPS, and external hard drive were taken to a Clayton pawnshop and sold by the suspect, authorities allege.

Between June 5th and June 6th, Kinard is also charged with stealing two ladders and an air compressor valued at $600 from one person and taking a ladder valued at $150 from another individual.  

The 25 year-old suspect was also charged with failing to appear in court on a misdemeanor shoplifting charge in 2013.

Bond was set at $82,250. 


Man Linked To Selma-Area Home Invasions, Robberies, Sexual Assault 
Law enforcement authorities announced Thursday they have solved four home invasions, a sexual assault, and attempted business robbery with the arrest of one individual.

Tajai Xavair Flonard, 20, of Futrell Road, Selma was arrested after Johnston County deputies and Selma Police conducted a search warrant at his home late-Wednesday.

Flonard is currently in the Johnston County Jail under a $1 million bond.

“I think this is a good example of law enforcement organizations working together to provide safer communities,” Sheriff Steve Bizzell told WTSB News.  “We want to get folks like this where they belong, and that’s behind bars.”

In the early morning hours of July 26th, August 6th, August 25th, and August 27th, Flonard allegedly forced his way into homes, all within a 5-mile radius, and at gunpoint robbed the victims. The home invasions all appear to have been random targets.

During the August 25 home invasion, Flonard allegedly sexually assaulted a woman at gunpoint, while other family members were present in the home. 

Also, on the morning of August 27, Flonard is accused of attempting to rob the Neighborhood Market on East Lizzie Street at gunpoint.

Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland said, “A joint investigation was conducted by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and Selma Police Department. Detectives were able to develop a suspect in connection with the home invasions, sexual assault and robberies that occurred in the Selma area.”

Flonard is facing multiple charges including first-degree burglary, first-degree sex offense, robbery, kidnapping, larceny, larceny of a firearm, and attempted robbery. 

Captain Strickland said additional charges against Flonard are expected.

While conducting a search warrant at Flonard’s home on Wednesday, authorities said his brother, Lance Emmanuel Flonard, of the same address was present. Lance Flonard was reportedly found to have a gun. Authorities said he was a convicted felon out of New York.  He was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. His bond was set at $25,000.        

Local Teen Wins NC Junior Duck Calling Contest

A Johnston County teenager has won the North Carolina Junior Duck Calling Contest.

Chase Wall of Four Oaks won the calling contest on Sunday in Kinston.

Chase is the 15 year-old son of Shane and Toni Wall of Four Oaks. Chase is a sophomore at South Johnston High School.

Chase used a Rich-In-Tone Duck Call during the competition.

He will now move on to represent North Carolina in the World Junior Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart, Arkansas.

Fraternal Order Of Police Donates 600 Book Bags

Fraternal Order of Police members include: (Front row from left) Ronald Johnson, Smithfield PD; Chris Blinson, Smithfield PD; David R. Johnson Jr., Smithfield PD; and Ronald L. Daniels, Selma PD. (Back row)Kevin Smith, Smithfield PD; Michael Gray, Smithfield PD; and Michael Baldwin, Rtd. Department of Corrections.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Johnston County Lodge recently purchased and donated 600 new book bags to help children in Johnston County Schools.

Each book bag was filled with essential school supplies like pencils, paper, glue sticks, and notebooks, which were also purchased by the Fraternal Order of Police.

Several members of the order worked hand in hand with Johnston County School social workers, nurses, and administration to fill the bags on August 21st.

The Fraternal Order of Police has long been a supporter of Johnston County Schools. FOP members said they were extremely glad to be able to help provide resources for the county’s children.

Civitas Calls On Thom Tillis To Drop Debate
Civitas President Francis De Luca is urging Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis to withdraw from a U.S. Senate debate co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters. De Luca says the League of Women Voters has two active lawsuits against the state and is part of a left-wing organization known for its controversial call to “eviscerate” and “cripple” the state’s political leadership.

“It is outrageous that the Speaker of the North Carolina House and current candidate for the Senate is involved with a group which is also suing the state to block good legislation – and which apparently condones undemocratic tactics,” De Luca said.

The League of Women Voters (LWV) joined with a nonprofit arm of the AFL-CIO, the NC NAACP and others in a federal lawsuit seeking to undo the Voter Identification and Verification Act (VIVA). De Luca said it is a badly needed law, which will make elections fairer and more secure. A federal judge this month rejected a request for an injunction against VIVA. The suit against the law itself is scheduled for hearing in July 2015.

The other lawsuit seeks to overturn the congressional redistricting completed by the General Assembly in 2011 ­– and it names Tillis personally as a defendant. The U.S. Justice Department and a state court have held the redistricting to be constitutional.

According to a press release, the LWV is a member of Blueprint NC, which in 2013 it distributed a memo outlining for a statewide attack on Republican and conservative politicians. The memo called for “crippling their leaders” – including Tillis – and using hardball tactics to “eviscerate the [GOP] leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”

“Speaker Tillis should not be lending his stature to the League of Women Voters while they are working with left-wing groups standing in the way of beneficial legislation,” De Luca said. “And if he is going to fight against entrenched liberal groups in Washington, he should show he’s no pawn of liberal groups here.”

The debates with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, which are also sponsored by WECT-TV, are scheduled for Wednesday, September 3rd and Tuesday, October 7th.

The Civitas Institute – “North Carolina’s Conservative Voice” – is a policy institute based in Raleigh.

Teen Charged With Prescription Fraud

A Wake County woman was arrested at a Johnston County Wal-Mart on Wednesday night on fraud charges.

Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland said deputies were called to the Wal-Mart on Highway 42 West after the suspect reportedly went to the pharmacy inside the store and attempted to pass a forged prescription for $300 worth of oxycodone tablets.

Deputies responded to the scene and arrested Joseta Maurita Poulson, 18, of Raleigh, before she left the business.

Poulson was charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery and obtaining property by false pretenses. Both are felony charges.  Poulson was confined in the Johnston County Jail under a $26,000 bond.

Suspect Charged In Theft Of $5,820 In Property

A Smithfield man has been arrested for allegedly stealing property from a home then selling it to a recycling facility. 

While being arrested on Wednesday, the suspect, Quintaris Azhaun Lawrence, 23, of Swift Creek Road, allegedly resisted arrest and tried to flee from officers.  A small amount of marijuana was also reportedly found in his possession.

On August 23, Lawrence reportedly stolen $5,820 worth of items, including motorcycle radiators, army boxes, batteries, and aluminum, which were later resold to a local recycling facility for $229.81. 

Lawrence was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses, possession of stolen property, assault, resisting arrest, resisting a public officer, and damage to property. Bail was set at $44,000. 

11 Complete Crisis Intervention Training

CIT Training graduates include: (Front row from left)C. Meyers, R. Walls, G. Whitman, D. Strickland Guin, D. Thorne, S. Godwin. (Back row): K. Nicholson, C. Boykin, D. Sorrell, P. Hill, R. Broughton, S. Pilkington, M. Medlin, and J. Gonzalez.

The 7th Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training academy was held recently. It is sponsored by the Johnston County Mental Health Center and Johnston Community College.

Seven Johnston County deputy school resource officers, one sheriff’s lieutenant, two EMS workers, and a juvenile court counselor became newly certified CIT personnel. 
CIT is a training and response program designed for law enforcement and other first responders who handle crisis calls involving people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and alcohol and substance use disorders.

CIT training provides an “on-the-job-tool” that can be used by law enforcement personnel and other first responders to recognize mental health issues and crises, to de-escalate crisis situations, to enhance and maintain officer, consumer and public safety, and to assist in directing individuals with mental illness to the appropriate health care systems and reduce their involvement in the criminal justice system.

The following agencies in Johnston County have certified CIT officers: Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Smithfield Police, Clayton Police, Benson Police, Selma Police, Princeton Police, Johnston County Emergency Medical Services, Johnston Health, Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, and the Mental Health Association of Johnston County.

The next CIT Training Academy is scheduled for October 20-24. For more information about CIT, call Charlene Meyers at the Johnston County Mental Health Center at 919-989-5575.


Pine Level Softball Team Wins National Tournament
The Chaos 00 14U Girls Softball Team based out of Pine Level won the World Fastpitch Connection Summer
Nationals held recently at Myrtle Beach South Carolina.

The team went undefeated in bracket play scoring 45 runs and allowing 10, defeating the Mason Thunder 99 from Ohio 9 to 3 in the Championship game.

Team members from left: Jazmin Harper, Casey Bunting, Aniyah Jones, Keelin Hunter, Lindsey Massengill, Macy Tyndall, Amberlyn Pearce, Haley Bunting, Megan Deal, Jada Santiago, Taylor Puetz. Coaches from left, Coach Lee Bunting, Head Coach Junior Pearce, Coach Wayne Massengill. Contributed photo

Johnston’s Jobless Rate Climbs To 6.0 Percent

Johnston County’s unemployment rate increased from June to July, according to a report released Wednesday by the NC Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division.

Johnston’s jobless rate increased from 5.5 to 6.0%. A year earlier, in July 2013, our unemployment rate was 7.1 percent. 

Johnston was among 95 of the states 100 counties that saw unemployment numbers increase in July, the latest month where county statistics are currently available.

Other local counties also had higher jobless numbers: Wake - 5.1 to 5.5%, Wayne – 6.5 to 7.1%, Wilson 9.8 to 10.2%, Sampson 5.9 to 6.6%, Harnett, 7.4 to 8.0%, Nash 8.8 to 9.5%, Franklin 6.1 to 6.4%.

In real numbers, a total of 5,126 people are unemployed in Johnston County out of a labor force of 85,606, according to the report.

Rash Of Johnston, Wake County Car Break-In’s Possibly Related
The Johnston and Wake County Sheriff’s Offices are urging drivers to lock their cars, when left unattended, following a rash of car break-ins.

Between Monday night and Tuesday morning, a total of 15 cars were entered and valuables were stolen in Johnston County, according to Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland. Also, one vehicle, a Ford Escape, was stolen.

Captain Strickland said the car break-ins occurred in subdivisions in the western part of the county.  All are believed to be connected.

“Please take the time to lock your vehicles,” Captain Strickland said. “And if you see something suspicious call us.” 

The incidents occurred on Kendall Drive, Winston Pointe Drive, Chippenham Court, Keller Drive, Valley Drive, Bedford Lane, Castlewood Drive, Finley Court, E Trafalgar Court, and Clarence Lane.  

Detectives are aggressively working on the 16 incidents. 

In Wake County, cars parked in rural subdivisions in the southern and eastern portions of the county have been entered. In a press release, Wake County Sheriff’s Captain Jimmy Stevens said the thefts date back a few weeks. Items were taken from cars that were left unlocked.   

Authorities have not ruled out the incidents in the two counties are connected.

Anyone who spots any suspicious activity is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5000 or the Wake County Sheriff’s Office at 919-856-6800.

Princeton Police Receive Governor’s Crime Commission Grant
The Princeton Police Department has been awarded a Governor's Crime Commission Grant for $14,625.00 for additional part time hours to be utilized now through June 30th, 2015. 

The grant will allow Police Chief Tyrone Sutton to place additional officers on the streets of Princeton to reduce crime in critical areas involving alcohol, drugs and investigations using a wide variety of enforcement.

Chief Sutton said the first goal is identifying the known areas of crime through observation and citizen complaints, the second is focusing on  reducing drug activity, alcohol violations and applying more time to investigations.

Small municipalities, like Princeton,rely heavily on funding through grants when town budget restraints restrict police department purchases, additional manpower and modernization of equipment.

There are a number of law enforcement agencies and departments who apply for grants every year however many are declined. Since federal funding is limited, the commission has to carefully select departments with  greater needs than others that match their criteria.

Chief Sutton said the Town of Princeton and the Princeton Police Department are pleased to receive this grant award so that we may continue to serve the community more efficiently and in a more proactive and strategic way.

Police: Mom Caught Driving Drunk With 2 Year-Old In Car
A Selma woman was arrested Wednesday morning for allegedly driving drunk while her 2 year-old child was in the vehicle.

Smithfield Police arrested Jessica Brandy Hinnant, 34, of Hinnant Edgerton Road, Selma during a traffic stop around 2:25am on Booker Dairy Road.

Police Captain Bruce Gentry said Hinnant’s child was in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop. Hinnant registered 0.12 on the Breathalyzer, above the legal limit of 0.08, police said.  Gentry also said a small amount of suspected marijuana and drug paraphernalia was found in the vehicle. 

Hinnant was charged with driving while impaired, misdemeanor child abuse, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Captain Gentry said the child was turned over to the custody of Hinnant’s mother.

Mother Accused Of Using 4 Year-Old Son To Help Shoplift
A young mother is accused by Smithfield Police of using her 4 year-old son to assist her with shoplifting merchandise.

The incident was reported Monday morning at Wal-Mart at 1299 North Brightleaf Boulevard.

According to police, Ashley Denise Everett, 23, of Rocky Mount was removing items from clothes hangers and placing them in her shopping cart where her 4 year-old child was located.  Everett allegedly had her child to then place the items in a diaper bag.

Everett was arrested at the scene and charged with larceny and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.

She was released on a $1,500 bond pending an October 7 court date, according to police records. 

3 Injured In Smithfield Crash
Three people were sent to the hospital Tuesday night after a motorist said her foot became lodged between the gas and brake pedals and couldn’t stop her car.

The accident happened just before 9pm on Futrell Way at Fayetteville Street in East Smithfield.

Police said a 2002 Honda, driven by Deborah Williams Peacock, 56, of Smith Street, Smithfield, was traveling west on Fayetteville Street when her foot became wedged between the gas and brake pedals. As Peacock approached the intersection of Futrell Way she could not stop her car, which collided with a 1999 Dodge driven by Patrick Alvonda Byrd, 47, of Ogburn Road, Smithfield.

After the impact, Peacock’s car continued on striking a speed limit sign. She was able to free her foot from the pedal and stop a short about 100 yards away on Durham Street.

Both drivers and a passenger in Byrd’s car were taken to Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield for treatment of minor injuries.

Peacock was cited for having an open container of alcohol in the passenger area.

Faith Communities Sponsor Luncheons For Teachers

Justice Paul Martin Newby (far right) presents a plaque to Sleep Inn Sales Director Sarai Daniels (center) thanking her for 18 years of support during the Back-to-School luncheon held at West Johnston High School. To her right is daughter, Lynn Daniels, Super 8 general manager. Also assisting in the presentation of awards is Justice Bob Edmunds and Johnston Baptist Association’s Dade Sherman.

Local churches across the county graciously welcomed back the Johnston County Schools (JCS) family with several special luncheons to show their support for the upcoming school year.

One of the largest luncheon events was held at West Johnston High School on Thursday, August 21st.

Roughly one thousand teachers from the West Johnston and Cleveland attendance areas and other JCS employees filled the cafeteria and enjoyed a free meal courtesy of the Johnston Baptist Association, an organization that has long been a supporter and community partner of JCS.

Assisting in the event’s food service were Justices Paul Martin Newby and Bob Edmunds. Also in attendance were Johnston Baptist Association’s Dade Sherman, Johnston County Board of Education members, and Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom.

Sponsoring the event – and sponsors for the past 18 years – were First Baptist Church of Smithfield, Super 8 Hotel and Sleep Inn and Suites, Stevens Sausage Company, Selma IGA, Franklin Baking Company, and Pepsi Bottling Ventures.

The meal included hamburgers and hotdogs with all the popular trimmings, chips, soda, and dessert. Attendees also had the opportunity to win several high-end door prizes and participate in a few dance competitions.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of all our community partners during the teacher workdays,” said Johnston County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom. “Year after year they do a tremendous job of helping us kickoff the new school year.”

Smithfield Man Shot In Driveway Of Selma Home
Selma Police are investigating the weekend shooting of a Smithfield man.

Around 4am Saturday, police said 24 year-old Sammy Gonzalez Jr., was shot while in the driveway of a home in the 1200 block of North Pollock Street.

Police believe the victim and several friends had just pulled up to a home in their car when a gray Jeep pulled in behind them.

A man got out of the Jeep, pointed a pistol at Gonzalez and ordered him to empty his pockets.  As Gonzalez began emptying his pockets the suspect fired the weapon striking the victim in the leg.

Police said the suspect got back into the passenger seat of the Jeep and fled on Highway 301 towards Micro.  Police said another individual was driving the Jeep but never exited.  Police said both suspects were black males. 

Gonzalez was treated at WakeMed for non-life threatening injuries.

Anyone who has any information about the shooting is asked to contact Detective J. Bass at 919-965-8189.

Woman Killed In Wayne County House Fire
A woman died Monday in a house fire in Wayne County. 

Flames broke out just before 7am at the home on Bass Lake Drive in Mount Olive.

Several fire departments responded to the scene, however, intense smoke and flames prevented firemen from being able to rescue a woman trapped inside.  The body of Sharon Kascask was located after the flames were extinguished.

Kascask was found lying on the floor of the master bedroom. 

A 12 year-old inside the home was able to escape but had to break out a bedroom window and jump outside. He ran to a neighbor’s house for help.  The child suffered smoke inhalation and minor burns and underwent treatment at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and the NC SBI Arson Team are investigating how the fire began. Officials do not believe the fire is suspicious but so far have not been able to pinpoint the cause. 

DOT: No Timetable For Booker Dairy Road Extension
There is no timetable for the start of the Booker Dairy Road Extension project in Smithfield, but by 2015 the DOT will likely have some idea how the project will rank for funding. 

The planned project will extend Booker Dairy Road, from the curve just east of Smithfield-Selma High, on a new path to US 301 connecting with Ava Gardner Boulevard, NC Department of Transportation Communications Supervisor Steve Abbott said. 

Additional improvements will take place on Booker Dairy from Buffalo Road to White Oak Drive. 

From White Oak to US 301, the new road will be mostly on a new location. 

Abbott said the DOT is undergoing an evaluation of every highway project in the state as part of the new Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) plan, including the Booker Dairy Road Extension Project.

STI will overhaul the way the DOT funds transportation improvements.

Once the project begins, construction is estimated to take a full year.

Abbott said there are no changes planned for the existing part of Booker Dairy Road east of White Oak towards US301 (North Brightleaf Boulevard).

Local officials hope the new section of Booker Dairy will open up the area for development. Abbott said it could potentially happen if the landowners decided to, although limited access control to the new road is currently proposed.

Abbott said the design for the project is ongoing. Right of way acquisition will not happen unless this project ranks high under the new STI plan.

In May, the DOT said about 3,100 highway projects are being considered across the state, varying in size and importance.  By 2015, the initial phase of the STI will narrow the list to 371 priority projects over the next 10 years.   

Abbott said it was too early to tell how the Booker Dairy project will rank and when the project can move forward.

Suspect Accused Of Making Meth In Storage Unit, Fleeing Twice
A Johnston County man who reportedly fled from authorities during a two-county car chase has been arrested.

On August 12th, Johnston County Sheriff’s Office narcotic agents and the NC SBI had conducted a search warrant on a self storage unit on Highway 42 west of Clayton.  Authorities said they found a methamphetamine lab that had been in operation inside the storage unit. 

As SBI crews were decontaminating the unit, Sheriff’s Narcotics Captain A.C. Fish said the suspect, Joshua Andrew Ferguson of Wood Lee Road, Four Oaks pulled up to the scene. He fled in his car. After the chase entered Wake County, officers discontinued the pursuit for safety reasons due to Ferguson driving at night without any headlights, rainy conditions, and Ferguson’s alleged reckless driving, Captain Fish said.  

On Saturday, deputies were called to investigate a complaint at an address in the 11000 block of Highway 96 South. Deputies said Ferguson attempted to flee on foot but was caught in the back yard of a nearby home. 

While being transported to jail, Ferguson was able to unbuckle his seat belt and roll out of the patrol car, officials said. The deputy was able to slow his vehicle down to prevent Ferguson from being injured.    

Ferguson is facing numerous charges including manufacturing meth, possess/distribute meth precursors, fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, resisting a public officer, maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance, and probation violation.

The 32 year-old man was confined in the Johnston County Jail under a $202,500 bond.

Local Basketball Team Completes ALS Challenge
On Sunday, the Tobacco Road Basketball League Neuse River Team completed the ALS ice bucket challenge to raise awareness for ALS.

After completing the challenge, the team challenged the rest of the Tobacco Road Basketball League.

The semi-pro players came together in Smithfield to accomplish the task.

The Neuse River Tobacco Road Basketball League team helps and mentors the youth Neuse River team. All came together Sunday to raise awareness for ALS. Contributed photo

Clayton High Roof Replacement To Cost $180,000

The Johnston County Board of Education has awarded a $180,000 contract to replace the roof at Clayton High School without seeking bids. Officials said the roof is in such poor condition it is creating a health and safety hazard and there simply wasn’t time to solicit bids. 

Hamlin Roofing Company was selected to replace the roof.
Chief Financial Officer Patrick Jacobs said the roof on Clayton High School is beyond repair.

It is looking so badly, Jacobs said, that patching is not an option. Due to all the recent rains, the leaks have created a potential health hazard for students and staff, Jacobs recently told the school board.

The General Assembly allows for an exception to the public bidding process for “cases of special emergencies involving the health and safety of the people and their property.”

Jacobs said Johnston County Schools feels that competitive bids weren’t required due to the special circumstances involving the health and safety of school personnel and students as well as the preservation of the school building and property.