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3 Meth Labs Found In Six Hours
Man Critically Burned In Meth Lab Explosion

(Photos) Emergency workers are shown outside a mobile home that was damaged during a meth lab explosion Wednesday night on Bizzell Grove Church Road near Princeton. One man was critically injured. Photos courtesy JoCoFire.com

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office discovered three meth labs on Wednesday, including a meth lab that exploded at a home outside of Princeton critically injuring one person.

Following a two month investigation, narcotic agents went to a home on Duchess Drive off Pierce Road around 2pm Wednesday. Agents found an active meth lab and arrested two people.  Kevin Nathaniel Scott, 25, of the Raleigh Road, Four Oaks and Brittany Michelle Carter, 22, of Duchess Drive, Garner were arrested for manufacturing methamphetamines. The same investigation led to the arrest of Brian Anthony Matthews, 24, of Winston Road, Clayton for felony charges of possessing and selling meth, according to Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland.

Information gathered at the scene of the Duchess Drive meth lab led agents to a second meth lab this one located in the 1200 block of Ennis Road, Angier, in western Johnston County.  Douglas Adam Spivey, 27, of Ennis Road, Angier and Kaitlyn Marie Phimasone, 21, of Creekside Drive, Clayton were arrested for manufacturing meth. 

Before agents could clear the scene of the Ennis Road meth lab, Captain Strickland said firefighters alerted deputies to a meth lab found inside a burning home around 8:00pm in the 5800 block of Bizzell Grove Church Road, outside of Princeton.  Bryan Ashley Stanley, 26, was severely burned and rushed to the Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill where he was listed in critical condition on Thursday. 

Strickland said no children were at the home when the meth lab exploded however the Department of Social Services are assisting with the investigation, along with the NC SBI. 

Woman Seriously Injured After Crashing Car During 115MPH Chase

Authorities have not released the name of a Florida woman seriously injured in a violent car crash during a high speed chase with Johnston County deputies in Benson.

The chase began around 12:14am Wednesday on Highway 50 about 3-1/2 miles north of Benson.

A sheriff’s deputy was traveling northbound when he met a vehicle traveling southbound without any lights. The vehicle also swerved into the officers lane of traveling nearly striking his cruiser, according to Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland.

The deputy turned his car around and activating his blue lights and siren, but the driver failed to pull over. Instead she sped up and reached speeds of 115mph, Strickland said. 

About three miles later the car ran through a stop sign on NC50 and Highway 27 in Benson, striking road signs, and two trees, before coming to rest in the front yard of a home at 709 West Main Street, Strickland said.

The driver was rushed to WakeMed where on Thursday she remained hospitalized in serious condition.

Officers have not said why the woman may have ran from deputies but authorities did confirm a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found inside the wreckage.  Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

Trooper Santa Catches Naughty Drivers
Troopers in Harnett County had a brainstorming session Monday and came up with a plan to keep motorists safer — with a holiday twist. “We thought, ‘What can we do differently?’” Trooper Daniel Edwards said.

A trooper, dressed up as Santa Claus, was positioned at the stop light at Dunn-Erwin Road and Tilghman Drive in Dunn Tuesday morning. As he was waving to motorists, he was also looking for those drivers without their seat belts on or children not restrained. He then called ahead to five other troopers, using an unseen radio, who stopped the motorists. There was also a sergeant on the scene.

There were signs on Dunn-Erwin Road that said Click or Ticket enforcement area. Troopers reasoned some people would pay more attention to Santa.

“This is a way we thought we could increase our seat belt safety over the holidays,” Trooper B.J. Holder said.

In less than an hour, 16 people had been cited. “We’re doing pretty good,” Trooper Edwards said.

Two hours later when the rains came, three hours in total, troopers had issued 55 tickets.

In all, there were 37 seat belt tickets, six driving while license revoked, four no registrations, two no insurance charges, two texting citations, two child restraint violations and two drivers were cited for running a red light.

The trial run of Operation Seat Belt Santa appeared to be success — at least in law enforcement’s eyes. Story and photo courtesy The Daily Record


Selma Town Council Divided On New Truck Purchase
(Left) Selma Town Councilman Tommy Holmes listens to discussion on the purchase of a new electric department bucket truck on Dec. 9th. The purchased was narrowly approved. WTSB Photo

In a 3-2 split vote, the Selma Town Council has approved the purchase of a new bucket truck for the electrical department.

Even though the new truck purchase was in the 2014-15 fiscal year budget, the council was still concerned about the purchase. Mayor Cheryl Oliver said the town is currently losing money in the Electric Department Fund and questioned whether the timing of the purchase was right.

Town Manager Jon Barlow said the truck would have to be ordered and could take 6 to 9 months to arrive and would not have any impact on the town budget until next year. 

“I can’t see spending money right now if we’re losing money,” Councilman Tommy Holmes said. 

Barlow said the truck would be an everyday truck used by the electric department. The current truck is in need of replacement. 

White International was the low bidder out of four companies to submit proposals.  Their bid was $155,444.56.  Other bids were $158,982 from Tri-Point, $159,903 from Map Enterprises, and $160,020 from Altec.

The truck will have a 50 foot insulated telescopic and articulating aerial device. 

Officials hope the electric department budget can get back on track in 2015 with the expected decrease in electrical rates with the pending buyout of generating assets from the NC Municipal Power Agency. Selma is among 32 towns and cities that are part of the Agency. 

Smithfield Police Investigate Purse Snatching Outside Grocery Store

Smithfield Police are warning citizens to be cautious following a purse snatching incident Wednesday night outside the Food Lion on South Brightleaf Boulevard.

Around 8:35pm, the suspect, a white female, walked up to a 65 year-old Smithfield woman while she was placing groceries in her car. The suspect asked directions to Wal-Mart. While the victim was giving the female directions, the suspect began assisting her with placing the grocery bags in her car. Moments later, the suspect grabbed the woman’s purse on her arm, pulling the victim to the ground, and then ran.

Police Lt. R.K. Powell said the female suspect got into a brown car driven by a black male. The vehicle was last seen traveling on Brogden Road towards I-95.  Authorities said the thief made away with only $15 in cash in the purse.  

Powell said the same suspect approached another woman a short time earlier outside Food Lion but the suspect did not attempt to steal the woman’s purse.

”Be cautious of your surroundings,” Lt. Powell said when asked about advise for shoppers this Christmas season. “Be leery of people you do no know. Unfortunately it’s that time of the year.”

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

Kenly Police Seize 1 Ounce Of Cocaine   
Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson said his officers happened to be in the right place at the right time Wednesday night.

Police were headed to an address on Lincoln Street in an attempt to locate 30 year-old Jermaine McIver of Kenly on outstanding felony drug warrants from Wilson County.

Chief Gibson said as officers were pulling up to the address they saw McIver allegedly engaged in a drug deal.  “He was attempting to sell crack cocaine to someone else,” Gibson told WTSB News.

Police seized approximately one ounce of suspected crack cocaine.  McIver was charged with felony possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine, and drug conspiracy. He was booked into jail under a $150,000 bond.

Chief Gibson said the second person was not arrested. His name was not released pending an ongoing investigation. 

Kenly Police Arrest Store Employee For Theft
Kenly Police have arrested an employee for allegedly stealing money from his employer.

Jamie Brian Strickland, 31, of Braswell Road, Smithfield was arrested Wednesday by Kenly Police.

Lt. Casey Jones said Strickland was employed at NAPA Auto Parts of Kenly on North Gardner Avenue.

Jones said during an investigation, Strickland allegedly confessed to ringing up two fictitious returns for automotive paint then pocketing the money.

In one transaction, Strickland allegedly took $212.43. In the other incident he took $119.56, Lt. Jones told WTSB News.

Strickland was charged with two counts of larceny by an employee. He was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $40,000 bond. 


Traffic Stop Leads To Drug Charges
A routine traffic stop on Highway 50 Wednesday afternoon led to the discovery of more than 22 grams of suspected marijuana and less than 1 gram of suspected ecstasy in a vehicle.

Johnston County deputies arrested 21 year-old Kala Breann Sapp, of Scarlett Lane, Garner.

Sapp was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.  Bail was set at $10,500.

Draughon Completes Basic Military Training
Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class Davon Draughon has 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.

Draughon is the son of Michelle Irwin and step-son of Lyle Irwin of Four Oaks, and the grandson of Darlene and Keith Parker of Four Oaks.

He is a 2012 graduate of South Johnston High School.

Smithfield University Women Bring Special Gifts To West Smithfield Elementary

West Smithfield students receive books from members of the Smithfield Branch of the National Association of University Women on Dec. 10. Adults pictured  (from left) are Mrs. Mogie Reddy, West Smithfield Assistant Principal, Mrs. Lina Sanders-Johnson, Mrs. Pearl Blackmon, Mrs. Shirley Cohen, and Dr. Carolyn Ennis. Students pictured from left are Kevin Lopez, Jennifer Moran, Jah'Zon  Lee-Walker, Elizabeth Massengill, Stephanie Garcia, and Trebor Mapp.

Representatives from the Smithfield Branch of the National Association of University Women recently gifted several books to the students of West Smithfield Elementary School just in time for Christmas. 

There was lots of excitement in the air as the University Women opened each box and placed the books on a table in the office for some of the students to choose from, and all of the visitors were educators with many years of experience in the Johnston County School system. 

“We have a desire to promote an interest in reading for the youth of today,” said group member Lina Sanders-Johnson.

She added that as a group they want the students to know that  reading good books can be the foundation for a successful life.

Some of the donated books included “Christmas Around the World,” “Disney’s African Cats,” “Disney’s Sleep-Time Fun,” “Disney-Pixar Cars Take Along Tales,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

Mrs. Tandra Bachelor-Mapp, Principal and Mrs. Mogie Reddy, Assistant Principal assured the group that the books will be sent home with the students over the holidays, so that they can read them at their leisure. 

The group also presented Mrs. Reddy with a certificate to be displayed at the school in recognition of the work West Smithfield is doing with their students.


Gunman Sought In Selma Store Robbery
Selma Police have released images from a surveillance camera in hopes someone will recognize the suspect who robbed the Short Stop convenience store.

Around 9:40pm on December 10th, a lone black male armed with a handgun entered the business on Anderson Street and pointed a gun at the clerk and demanded money.

The suspect fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.  A Clayton Police K-9 was brought to the scene and tracked the suspect to the 400 block of East Waddell Street where a getaway vehicle may have been parked.

The suspect is described as a black male with long dreadlocks, wearing a burgundy sweatshirt with the word ‘Meredith’ across the front, blue jeans, black shoes with white trim, and a white bandana.

Selma Police Captain R.L. Daniels said a reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Selma Police at 919-965-8189.  


Dunn Man Charged In 100MPH Chase
Gets bitten by K-9

Dunn Police arrested a man after he led officers on a chase all over Dunn and onto Interstate 95.  Billy Ray Lockamy, 56, of Dunn was approaching a license check on West Duke Street when he reversed and attempted to avoid the stop, according to reports.

The vehicle made a reckless turn onto Wilson Avenue at which point officers attempted to catch up with the car. Mr. Lockamy ran through several stop signs and was traveling at a high rate of speed as he approached I-95.

According to the reports, police were able to get Mr. Lockamy’s license plate number and identify him. Mr. Lockamy was allegedly traveling 100 miles per hour down I-95 towards Cumberland County.

Mr. Lockamy continued to drive down I-95 at a high rate of speed, passing other vehicles recklessly, while being pursued by several police cars.

Mr, Lockamy exited I-95 at Godwin Falcon Road, traveled across U.S. 301 and after making several more turns, drove onto a railroad bed. According to reports, Mr. Lockamy was traveling approximately 50 mph along the railroad bed. Mr. Lockamy continued down the railroad bed until he reached a pond and a bridge, at which point he got out of the vehicle and fled on foot. Mr. Lockamy was able to run into a wooded area where he was located by police.

Mr. Lockamy began fighting with one officer after he was ordered to get on the ground. K-9 Paco was released on Mr. Lockamy and bit him several times on the leg after he refused to comply with verbal commands to stop fighting, according to reports.

After Mr. Lockamy was detained, he was taken to Betsy Johnson for treatment of the dog bites.

When Mr. Lockamy arrived at the hospital, he was issued a citation for DWI. The emergency room physician requested Mr. Lockamy be admitted overnight to the hospital as he was complaining of chest pains.  Mr. Lockamy refused to stay at the hospital, saying he was “ready to go to jail.”

Mr. Lockamy was charged with felony fleeing arrest, reckless driving, driving while license revoked, failure to stop for a stop sign, trespassing on a railroad right of way and failure to yield to lights and sirens. He is being held on a $10,000 bond. Courtesy The Daily Record


Four Oaks Bank Welcomes Young To Local Advisory Board
Four Oaks Bank welcomes Charlie Young to its Smithfield Advisory Board.  Charlie is manager of Farm Bureau Insurance in Smithfield, where he has been an agent for twenty-two years.   Prior to that, Charlie worked for eight years as an agent for Home Beneficial Life Insurance Company in Wilson, NC.   

A graduate of Smithfield-Selma High School, Charlie attended NC State University and Johnston Community College where he received his degree in Business Administration.  He is also a Life Underwriting Training Council Fellow.  

Charlie is a deacon, trustee and Sunday school teacher at Micro Freewill Baptist Church and a member of the National Association of Financial & Insurance Advisors.  He previously served on the Advisory Council for Micro Pine Level Elementary School and North Johnston High School, is a past president of the Micro Athletic Association, past treasurer of the North Johnston Panther Club, former member of the Selma Lions Club and former Commissioner with the Town of Micro.

“We are fortunate to have Charlie Young join our Smithfield Advisory Board“, said Mike Wooten, Senior Vice President and Smithfield City Executive for Four Oaks Bank.  “His business expertise and reputation in our community will certainly bring value and insight to our distinguished local board of advisors”, said Wooten.

Four Oaks Bank & Trust Company is a state chartered bank headquartered in Four Oaks, North Carolina, where it was chartered in 1912.  The wholly owned subsidiary of Four Oaks Fincorp, the single bank holding company trading under the symbol FOFN on the OTC Bulletin Board, Four Oaks Bank had $837.9 million in assets as of September 30, 2014.  The Bank presently operates thirteen full-service branch offices located in Four Oaks, Clayton, Garner, Smithfield, Benson, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Wallace, Harrells, Zebulon, Dunn and Raleigh, and one loan production office in Southern Pines. 

Angier Woman Facing Drug Charges
A tip led Johnston County deputies to a home Monday where officers reportedly found items commonly used to produce methamphetamine.

Kristin Dale Kornegay, 22, of Kudzu Lane, Angier was arrested, according to Johnston County Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland.

Strickland said Kornegay is still under investigation for possibly fraudulently using another person’s credit card to buy the items in question.

Kornegay was charged with felony possess-distribute meth precursors and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

She was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $41,000 bond.

Clerk Accused Of Stealing Money From Employer
A convenience store clerk has been arrested on charges she stole money from the business.

The incidents happened at the BP gas station at 5477 Highway 42 West, Garner, near the I-40/NC42 interchange.

Ashley Renee Monsour, 28, of S. Pleasant Coates Road, Benson alleged took $1,961 from the business.

Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, said after a customer paid with cash, Monsour would void the sale and take the cash.

Monsour was charged Tuesday with two felony counts of larceny by an employee. She was given a $5,000 bond. 

Deputies Arrest Suspect On Fugitive Stalking Warrant From Ohio

A man living at an address in northern Johnston County has been arrested on fugitive charges in Ohio.

Johnston County sheriff’s deputies said they received a tip 40 year-old Timothy James Ciampa was at a location in the 4600 block of Highway 231, Zebulon on December 11th.

Officers responded and located Ciampa. He was wanted by authorities in Brown County, Ohio for stalking. He was confined in the Johnston County Jail without bail pending extradition. 

On Star Helps Lawmen Catch Car Thief
When Daniel Pacini, 22, of Fayetteville allegedly stole a car last Thursday in Cumberland County he may not have realized the vehicle was equipped with On Star.  On Star is a service on many General Motors vehicles that provides vehicle security services. 

Law enforcement authorities were able to quickly located the vehicle traveling northbound on Interstate 95.  Pacini was arrested without incident during a traffic stop on I-95 near Selma.

Pacini was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. He was also charged with being a fugitive from out of state. The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office did not have any details about the fugitive warrant.

Pacini was given a $20,000 bond on the auto theft charge. He was held without bond on the fugitive warrant. 


Benson Man Accused Of Threatening, Assaulting Deputy
A 61 year-old Benson man is facing several charges after he allegedly threatened, pushed, and later spat on a law enforcement officer.

A Johnston County deputy was dispatched to a home on Tall Pine Drive near Benson on December 11th to assist an individual with obtaining property from the address.

While on the scene, Robert Braxton Lassiter allegedly threatened to assault the deputy, then pushed the officer.  Lassiter was handcuffed and taken to the Johnston County Jail. While inside the detention facility he alleged spat on the deputy.

Lassiter was charged with two counts of communicating threats, assault on a government official, and felony malicious conduct by a prisoner.  Bond was set at $57,000.

Wilson’s Mills Teens Facing Marijuana Charges
Arrests Made During Search Warrant For Breaking And Entering Cases

Two Wilson’s Mills teenagers are facing felony drug charges, arrested during a search warrant Friday night at a home on Marlin Lane.

Police Chief David Hess said the search warrant was executed as a part of an investigation into a number of break-ins in recent weeks.  During a search of the home 16.1 grams of suspected marijuana were seized. 

DeCarlos McCain, 19, of Rocks Edge Lane and Royal Atkinson, 18, of Marlin Lane were both charged with possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana.  Atkinson is also charged with maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance. 

“The residents in the community deserve to be able to enjoy where they live,” Chief Hess said. “Drug sells and fear of their home being broken into prohibit that quality of life from occurring.  Our officers will aggressively rid drug dealers and those associated with criminal activity from reducing the quality of life in Wilson’s Mills.”

Atkinson and McCain were both held in the Johnston County Jail under at $20,000 secured bond. 

Wilson’s Mills Police are offering a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of person or persons responsible for the recent breaking and enterings.  Anyone with information about the crimes can contact Wilson’s Mills Police at 919-938-4448.


Wilson’s Mills Police Hold First Annual Shop With A Cop

(Right) Wilson's Mills Officer R. Casile helps Edlijah Bailey push his new bicycle and gifts purchased during the department's first annual Shop With A Cop event.

The Wilson’s Mills Police Department made Christmas wishes come true for a group of local children.  On December 11th, the police department took eight children to Wal-Mart in Clayton for the first annual Shop with a Cop.

“The blessing of this program was to see the children smile when they chose a gift,” said Police Chief David Hess. “The humbling experience was almost every child shopped for someone other than themselves.” 

Shop with a Cop was made possible by donations the police department received.  Chief Hess thanked Wise Recycling, Company Wrench, Willow Run Veterinarian, Bartlett Milling, Wilson’s Mills Events Board, E&J Power Washing, Wilson’s Mills Civitan, B&J Farms, the Wilson’s Mills town staff, and Charlie Smith for their generosity and selfless giving.

The police department raised enough funds to provide about $150 in gifts for each child.  The Wilson’s Mills Baptist Church provided transportation for the event and provided a hot meal for the kids after the event.  The Wilson’s Mills Fire Department also provided a frozen turkey to each family for the holidays.  Santa Claus even made a special trip to visit the children.

Rouzer Names Chief Of Staff

Congressman-elect David Rouzer, who will be representing North Carolina's 7th Congressional District during the 114th Congress, has named Melissa Murphy to serve as his chief of staff.  Mrs. Murphy currently serves as the deputy chief of staff and legislative director to Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina and has nearly a decade of experience on Capitol Hill.

"I am excited to have Melissa as part of our team.  She will provide exceptional leadership and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the North Carolina Delegation that will serve the coastal communities, this district, and the state very well,"  said Rouzer.

"It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve the people of North Carolina's Seventh Congressional District. I look forward to working with David to help him and his team best represent the interests and priorities of families in Eastern North Carolina," said Murphy.

A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Mrs. Murphy received her Bachelor of Arts in Government from Wofford College and her Master of Public Administration from the University of South Carolina.  In her role with Wilson's office, she helped secure legislative language in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act for the Port of Charleston's dredging project.  Further, Murphy advised Wilson on all legislative areas with expertise on appropriations, healthcare, labor, education, tax and tourism issues.  She also oversaw all policy initiatives associated with Mr. Wilson’s chairmanship of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel.


Fire Destroys Mobile Home

An accidental fire destroyed a mobile home Tuesday at Rose's Mobile Home Park on North Street in Smithfield.

The Smithfield and Selma fire departments responded to the 10:30am alarm and quickly put out the fire in a singlewide mobile home. 

The occupant had reportedly left home about 20 minutes earlier to go visit her mother, only to receive a phone call from a neighbor saying their home was on fire.

Assistant Johnston County Fire Marshal Kevin Hubbard said the fire appears accidental, having started in a bathroom.

No injuries were reported. WTSB Photo

Fire Burns Van

A van went up in flames Tuesday morning. 

The Garner and Clayton Fire Departments responded to the fire in the parking lot of the Wilco Hess on US70 at Guy Road in Wake County.

No injuries were reported. Photo courtesy Frank DeVoid

Woman Charged With Burning Home
Woman Charged With Burning Home
A Johnston County woman has been arrested in connection with a fire that caused $15,000 in damage to a home.

Shontavia Renee Davis, 24, of Hines Drive, Four Oaks was arrested Friday on a single felony count of fraudulently burning a dwelling.

On December 3rd, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office alleges Davis set fire to a residence in the 4100 block of Lake Wendell Road, Wendell. Davis reportedly set fire to a dresser, back door, and the vinyl siding behind the home causing the damage.

Authorities did not say how they were able to link Davis to the fire.

Fraud Alert: Phone Scam Using Sheriff's Office Name

Authorities are alerting the public about a phone call scam involving the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.

On Monday, a Harnett County resident received a phone call from a person claming they were with the TMA Company.  They claimed TMA was representing the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and was working on a case. They then gave a fictitious case number.

The caller requested the victim give them their social security number to verify the case.  The victim refused. That’s when the caller threatened the victim to either give them the number or they would have the sheriff’s office “serve them with papers.”

Officials said only one report has been received, however other calls could have been made that have not yet been reported.
Phone Call Scam Using Sheriff’s Office Name

Officers say its important not to give out any personal information to any person or company that you don’t know.    

KS Bank Establishes JCC Endowment In Honor Of Harold And Barbara Keen

Earl Worley, chief operating officer of KS Bank, left, announces the scholarship endowment in honor of Harold and Barbara Keen.

KS Bank, Inc. has established a scholarship endowment at Johnston Community College in honor of longtime college supporters Harold Thomas Keen and Barbara Allen Keen.

The endowment supports scholarships to assist JCC alumni and program support to enable the JCC Foundation to advance the alumni relations program.

The current president/CEO of KS Bank, Inc., Harold Keen is a JCC alumnus who earned his associate’s degree in accounting from the college in 1976. His wife, Barbara, also earned her associate’s degree from JCC and had a distinguished career in art education at the college where she taught graphic design for nearly 30 years.

“Both Barbara and Harold, in very different ways, have made a dramatic impact on our community and Johnston Community College,” said Earl Worley, chief operating officer for KS Bank. “With the establishment of the Harold Thomas Keen and Barbara Allen Keen JCC Alumni Endowment, the KS Bank Board of Directors wants to honor both of them for their personal and professional achievements.”

Twyla Wells, executive director of the JCC Foundation, thanked KS Bank and the Keens for their longtime support of the college. “I want to applaud KS Bank and Harold and Barbara Keen for their insight in developing a fund to support the alumni of Johnston Community College,” said Wells. “We are fortunate to have so many JCC graduates living and working in Johnston County, and we want to welcome them back any time they need additional education and training.”

For more information about giving and alumni opportunities at JCC, please contact the Foundation staff at (919) 209-2222.


Public Utility Director Recognized
(Left to right) Smithfield Town Manager Paul Sabiston recognizes Public Utility Director Ken Griffin for completion of the Certified Public Power Manager program at the December 2nd Smithfield Town Council.
Photo by Tom Woerner/WTSB

Selma To Prioritize Paving For 9 Gravel Streets
The Town of Selma has 9 gravel streets within their jurisdiction.

At the November town council meeting, board members asked Town Manager Jon Barlow to obtain an estimate for paving each of those streets.

Currently, town staff used a tractor with a scraper blade to maintain the streets. Some residents who live on the streets say that isn’t enough.

At the December meeting, Barlow said the cost to repave the nine streets would cost $511,350. 

The streets include: Debnam Drive, Graves, Hare, Pine, Richardson, Sellers, Stokes, White Street, and Winston Circle.  The longest is Sellers Street at 651 feet, while the shortest is White Street at only 118 feet.  The total length of the paving is just over 3408 feet. Barlow said the bids average $150 per lineal foot.

The Council recommended Barlow prioritize paving the streets based on the greatest need during the next paving project in Selma.  Officials hope one to two streets can be paved each year for the next several years until all paved.

Officials asked Barlow to obtain three estimates for any future paving contracts.  No date was set when any future paving work may take place.     

Female, 2 Year-Old Child Injured In Domestic Assault
A Four Oaks man is facing several charges following a domestic altercation at his home Friday night on Joni Court near Four Oaks.

Johnston County deputies allege Joseph Glenn Poston threw the family Christmas tree across the room, shoved a 24 year-old woman, burst through a closed bedroom door, then struck a 2 year-old in the stomach.

When deputies arrived, Poston was happy and not concerned about the health of the woman or the child, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. And in the presence of officers, Poston reportedly slapped the child.

Amaon said officers suspected Poston was under the influence of an unknown substance.

While be placed into handcuffs, Poston allegedly became aggressive and began cursing at officers and attempting to pull away. Amaon said a deputy had to deploy his taser to subdue the suspect.

Poston was charged with assault on a child, domestic assault on a female, and resisting a public officer.

EMS crews responded to the scene to check on the woman and child. 

Suspect Accused Of Shoplifting From Princeton Dollar General Store
A Smithfield woman was arrested Saturday for allegedly trying to shoplifting $35 in items from the Dollar General on US70 in Princeton.

A store employee reportedly locked the door preventing Sherry Marie Rutrowski, 38, of Wilson’s Mills Road, from leaving.

Rutrowski had allegedly placed numerous items in her purse. After being confronted, she alleged told an employee she had planned to pay for the items, but began removing the merchandise and randomly placing the items inside the business.

A Johnston County deputy and Princeton police officer responded to the business. All the items, including baked beans and makeup were recovered.

Rutrowski was charged with shoplifting by concealment of goods. She was given a $3,000 bond on the misdemeanor charge.


3 Meth Labs Discovered, 4 Arrested

(Top row - left to right) Bobby Ray Pilkington, Anthony Bryan Peedin, and Tammy Lynn Starling were arrested at their home on Jerusalem Church Road, Kenly on meth lab charges. (Lower right) Stormie Talton was arrested Friday for an alleged meth lab in Willow Spring.

Four people are facing charges after the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office reportedly located methamphetamine labs at three different locations.

Friday morning, narcotic agents were assisting probation and parole and social workers at an address on Jerusalem Church Road outside of Kenly. While at the home, agents reportedly found a burn pile in the back yard. Items found in the burn pile were those commonly used to operate a meth lab, authorities said. 

Bobby Ray Pilkington, 27, Anthony Bryan Peedin, 27, and Tammy Lynn Starling, 41, all from the 1100 block of Jerusalem Church Road were charged with manufacturing methamphetamines, possess-distribute meth precursors, and felony conspiracy.  All three suspects were booked into the Johnston County Jail under a half million dollar bond each.  

A 2-1/2 year-old child at the home was also removed by social workers, according to Tammy Amaon, spokesperson for the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

Around 1pm Friday, deputies responded to an address on Sunrise Ridge Drive in the Willow Spring community to serve an involuntary commitment paper.  While inside the home, officers saw a “one pot” meth lab, Amaon said.

Stormie Talton, 33, of Sunrise Ridge Drive, Willow Spring was charged with manufacturing meth, maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance, possess-distribute meth precursors, possession of drug paraphernalia, and felony conspiracy. Her bond was set at $200,500.  Amaon said once the other suspect is released from a mental health facility they will also be charged.

Agents stumbled across a methamphetamine lab outside of Benson on Saturday night.  Deputies responded to a suspicious person call down a path in the 5500 block of Benson Hardee Road. While searching the path for the individual, officers found a complete meth lab, Amaon said.  The suspect managed to elude arrest but narcotic agents are actively investigating the incident.

Fire Damages Same Home Twice In 2 Months
For the second time in less than two months the same home in Selma has burned.

Around 3pm Saturday, the Selma and Smithfield Fire Departments found heavy flames coming from a vacant residence in the 900 block of South Raiford Street.  The fire was extinguished but not before it caused major damage. Neighbors reported seeing vagrants in the house recently. Officials said there was no electricity connected to the home.

On October 22nd, a fire at the same unoccupied home damaged a front room. 

The Selma Police Department is investigating both fires, which are both considered suspicious.   Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com

2015-2016 School Calendar Approved
By Laura Crosio

The Johnston County School Board adopted a staff and student calendar for the 2015-2016 school year at their Dec. 9th meeting.

A 45-member committee consisting of principals, central office staff, parents, students and local employee groups met several times this past year to develop 23 possible calendars for the upcoming school year. The calendars were narrowed down to three possible options and samples were placed on the district’s website, according to Chief Personnel Director Brian Vetrano.

He noted the final version was well received and similar to the current 2014-2015 school calendar.

By law, the calendar must contain a total of 215 days with 185 student days or 1,025 hours, 10 annual vacation days and 11 holidays.

Students in Johnston County will begin school on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. The year will end on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 and high school graduations are slated for Friday, June 10, 2016.

NC210 Closure For Bridge Replacements Scheduled For Jan. 5th
The NC Department of Transportation has schedule the closing
of a section of NC 210 near Smithfield to begin on January 5, weather permitting. The closure will be in place for approximately eight months.

The closure will allow crews with S.T. Wooten Corp. of Wilson to replace two bridges over Swift Creek and the Swift Creek overflow. Both bridges were constructed in 1934 and are classified as Functionally Obsolete, which means they were built to design standards that are no longer in use. The new bridges will be built to modern design standards.

During the closure, through traffic on N.C. 210 will use US70 Business/Market Street, Swift Creek Road and Cleveland Road as a detour route around the closure. Local traffic will be able to use N.C. 210, but will not be able to cross the bridges.

These replacements are part of a $10.4 million express design-build contract awarded to S.T. Wooten Corp. in 2013 to replace 12 bridges in Johnston County with new bridges by late 2015.

To date, nine of the 12 bridges in Johnston County have been replaced, including bridges on N.C. 96, Juniper Church Road, Benson-Hardee Road, Old Stage Road, Eldridge Road, Bizzell Grove Church Road, Old Beulah Road and two on Shoeheel Road. A bridge on Micro Road is currently under construction and is expected to open in mid-April, weather permitting.

Over 60 Children Helped With “Cops & Kids” Event

Pictured right: Trooper Jeremy Devaughn and Officer Ricky Parks of the Rocky Mount Police Department along with happy recipients of the "Cops and Kids" event.

As Christmas approaches, children across the state are eagerly awaiting the arrival of holiday gifts under the tree. Sadly, many children will not experience the excitement of gifts under the tree.

In effort to spread a little joy and happiness this holiday season, members of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and law enforcement officers from Nash and Edgecombe County participated in the annual Fraternal Order of Police "Cops and Kids" event on Saturday, December 13th.

Over 60 less fortunate kids received a happier than normal Christmas this year. Each child was teamed up with a law enforcement officer to spend $250 on essential needs and toys.

The event resulted in smiles and friendships for years to come.

Clayton Hires New Officer
Officer Jeff Young is the latest member to join the Town of Clayton Police Department. He comes to the force with four years of experience serving as a patrolman for the Benson Police Department.

The town hired Young on November 3rd. He has spent the last several weeks in the field training alongside Officer Tyler McNeill.

“I appreciate this opportunity,” said Young. “This department is very well respected in the community and I am excited to be here.”

Young is currently working toward his associate’s degree at Miller-Motte College.  He has been married for six years and has two daughters, ages 2 and a newborn. The family plans to relocate to Clayton in the near future. Photo courtesy Town of Clayton

Garner Police Investigate Attempted Kidnapping
Garner police are seeking the location and identity of an unknown Hispanic male who attempted to forcibly kidnap a female while armed with a knife Sunday morning at Abberly Place Apartments off Timber Drive East.

The victim described her attacker as a Hispanic male in his early 40's, approximately 5'4", and heavyset. He was wearing a bright lime green t-shirt under a light colored hooded sweatshirt and jeans.   The suspect was driving a large white 4 door truck with a white camper shell that had windows, making the truck resemble a large SUV. The victim was able to get away from the suspect and was not injured.

Anyone with any information on this case is asked to call the Garner Police Department.

Keurig Coffeemaker Lands 2 Men In Jail On Felony Charges

(L to R) Anthony Shawn Battle of Selma and Darrius Tyrone Perry of Greensboro were arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges following a shoplifting incident Sunday night at Wal-Mart in Smithfield.

Two people were arrested for allegedly shoplifting a coffeemaker from Wal-Mart in Smithfield, then returning minutes later in an attempt to exchange the item for cash.

Smithfield Police arrested Anthony Shawn Battle, 43, of Live Oak Church Road, Selma and Darrius Tyrone Perry, 43, of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Greensboro around 8:10pm Sunday at Wal-Mart.

Lt. R.K. Powell said Battle and Perry were observed by a loss prevention officer take a $159 Keurig coffee maker and leave the business without paying.  A very short time later they went back into the business, saying the item was a gift and they were returning the merchandise. 

Both men were charged with felony attempting to obtain property by false pretenses and misdemeanor larceny.  Perry was also charged with failing to appear in Guilford County Court for a trespassing charge earlier this month.

Battle was given a $50,000 bond. Perry was held under a $50,100 bond. The Keurig was recovered and returned to the business.


Hundreds Attend Portrait Unveiling For Will R. Crocker

(L to R) Retired Clerk of Court Will Crocker stands with his portrait painted by artist Richard Nelson of Tryon, NC. WTSB Photo

Hundreds of people gathered in the Old Superior Courtroom at the Johnston County Courthouse Thursday afternoon for the official unveiling of a portrait of recently retired Clerk of Court Will Crocker.

Crocker, who was born in 1937 on a farm near Pine Level, was appointed Clerk of the Selma Recorders Court in 1959. Those duties including being a dispatcher for the Selma Police Department.  In 1966, James Woodard appointed Crocker assistant clerk of court. Woodard resigned from his position to accept an appointment in the administration of Gov. Jim Hunt. 

Crocker ran for office and was elected in 1978. He served 36 consecutive years until deciding earlier this year not to seek a tenth term in office.

Emery Ashley, President of the Johnston County Bar, said it was a great occasion to honor a man who served the American legal system, serving with passion for the rule of law and also serving with distinction.

Ashley read a letter from Mark Martin, Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, thanking Crocker for his dedication and service.

James Narron, a local attorney and friend of Crocker, described the retired clerk as a fabric of the community and the court system.  “He is a great man. He is a beloved man.” 

Narron said Crocker loved Johnston County and the people of Johnston County and was always glad to give help.  “He always spoke with wisdom.” 

Narron said Crocker held the Bible for hundreds of swearing-in ceremonies across the county.  “Will Crocker has become an institution.”

Narron said a future Clerk of Court not even born yet, will one day look up on the wall of the old Superior Courtroom, and gaze at his portrait. “He will strive for his greatness.”  Narron added, “This portrait is a great tribute to a great man.”

Leo Daughtry, a member of the NC House, local attorney and close friend of Crocker then spoke.  Daughtry thanked Crocker for his service and said Crocker’s late wife, Rita, would be very proud of him today. 

He was mindful of young lawyers, that even though they might make a mistake, Crocker was there not to embarrass them but to help them. He also cared for those who lost loved ones handling countless number of estate proceedings, Daughtry added.

“I am thankful for everything everybody has done for me,” Crocker said. “I feel like Lou Gehrig in 1939 when he said I am the luckiest man on the face of this earth. He was probably first. I thank God I was second.”

Joined by his family, the portrait was unveiled. 

Artist Richard Christian Nelson from Tryon, NC told WTSB it was an honor to participate and celebrate someone’s life like Mr. Crocker. Nelson told WTSB that about three months earlier he spent a day with Crocker learning who he was.  Nelson then returned to his studio and completed a charcoal drawing. Later, over the course of 3 weeks he created the portrait. 

After the ceremony, a reception was held in the courthouse atrium. The portrait was then quietly hung on the wall in the old Superior Courtroom.  

Community Paramedics Will Provide In-Home Care To Chronically ill
A Johnston County EMS paramedic typically spends his day en route to 911 calls.

But the thrust of a program now in the works would have specially trained paramedics checking in with certain patients at home to see if they’re taking their medications, for example, or are well enough to get to their doctor’s appointment the next day.

Rather than responding to 911 calls, the community paramedic would try to prevent them. In short, it would be his job to help chronically ill patients proactively manage their own care after leaving the hospital.

Johnston Health recently received a $350,000 grant from The Duke Endowment to implement this care-transition program, which will include local agencies such as EMS and Johnston County Mental Health.

Beverly Legath, (pictured right) director of case management for Johnston Health, wrote the grant application after EMS approached the hospital with a suggestion for starting such a program. She says the program is designed to prevent costly readmissions and to reduce non-urgent visits to the emergency department.

“More importantly, this is an opportunity to deliver care in a more coordinated and efficient way,” she says. “We’re helping patients maintain accountability for their health. This program says that we care.”

Johnston County EMS would be responsible for hiring and training two full-time advanced-practice paramedics. If all goes as planned, the program could be up and running by July.

The program would focus on patients who are at high risk for readmissions and frequent non-urgent calls to EMS. This could be due to the progression of their disease (most commonly diabetes, COPD and heart failure, and/or social factors, such as living arrangements.

“These patients have medically and socially complex needs and live at home. They feel they have no health care options other than emergency services,” she says. “The community paramedic program can begin to address their medical and social needs in a cost-effective way that promotes better use of health care resources.”


School Board Selects Leaders
By Laura Crosio

Larry Strickland (far right) takes his Oath of Office on Dec. 1 from former Clerk of Court Will Crocker, as Superior Court Judge Tom Lock looks on from the bench. Strickland was reappointed Chairman of the Johnston County Board of Education on Tuesday, Dec. 9th. WTSB Photo


Johnston County School Board members Larry Strickland and Dorothy Johnson were unanimously re-appointed to continue their roles as Chair and Vice-Chair.

Their fellow members chose them to serve in this capacity for the 2015 calendar year at their Dec. 9 regular meeting.

“I thank you for the vote of confidence,” commented Chairman Strickland. “I am very proud of this Board of Education. I appreciate the opportunity to lead this group.”

“We have a lot of work to do and we will work hard to get it done,” added Vice-Chair Johnson. “I think we all work well as a team.”

Both Strickland and Johnson have been board members since 1998. Their terms will expire in 2018.


Smithfield Rescue Mission Experiences Record Growth In 2014
The Smithfield Rescue Mission has experienced one of its busiest years, and is asking the community to help them finish 2014 strong. As the need for long-term services grows in Johnston County and eastern North Carolina, the mission is working to grow as well.

This year the Smithfield Rescue Mission regularly delivered food to 59 households in the Johnston County area, provided 15% more nights of lodging than last year, and added a new building to its main campus.

The new building was given to the mission through generous contributions from mission supporters, and will open early next year. It will serve as a chapel and multipurpose center. This will free up more space in the main building for the emergency shelter and recovery program activities.

With an increase in services, the mission is experiencing a budget shortfall.

“We've been blessed for 37 years to be in a community that sees the need for the rescue mission, and supports what we do,” said Ben Olsen, associate director of the rescue mission.

“Our prayer is that in 2015 we'll be able to help even more people,” Olsen said. “But to do that, we need more partners to help us continue building that vision.”

The Smithfield Rescue Mission was founded in 1977 as a place to help the homeless in Johnston County. In addition to an emergency shelter, the mission offers the New Life Program. The program includes classes, case management, accountability and encouragement that helps clients break the cycle of abuse and addiction.

For more information on how to help, visit their website www.smithfieldrescue.org, or call their office at 919-934-9257. To give a tax-deductible gift, go to their website to make a secure online donation, or mail a check to P.O. Box 681, Smithfield, NC 27577.


Counterfeit Merchandise Seized From Selma Businesses
Selma Police with help from the NC Secretary of State Office seized over $60,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise from two businesses in Johnston Square Shopping Center on Thursday.

Selma Police Detective Sgt. J.A. Hughes said officers had been investigating a complaint for about three weeks the businesses New Beauty and Moa Fashion had been selling counterfeit merchandise.

The businesses are adjacent to one another, but have the same owner.

A total of $60,660 in counterfeit items were seized, primarily clothing and jewelry, Hughes told WTSB News.  Police did not disclose the name brands at the request of trademark investigators with the NC Secretary of State. 

Police did say there were a total of 12 different trademarks that had been counterfeited.  Police said charges are pending.

Wreck Claims Angier Man; $1 Million Found
An Angier man was killed in Texas last Tuesday after he was hit by a truck along a major interstate highway.

Eric Jemique Royster, 36,  died immediately in the accident. According to Harrison County, Texas, Sheriff’s Lt. Jay Webb, Royster and his cousin were driving a truck for the Atlas Van Lines moving company on Interstate 20 when the accident happened. The truck the pair were driving caught fire. The two occupants attempted to separate the cab of the truck from the trailer.

Royster stepped on to what he thought was a service road, which was actually a Texas state highway running parallel with the interstate and was struck by a pickup truck. He died at the scene of the accident, which happened near Waskom and Scottsdale, Texas.

Lt.  Webb said his officers found what he described as a “very substantial” amount of cash at the scene. There was approximately $300,000 in cash identified as currency. There was a substantial amount of cash that was burned beyond recognition.

Harrison County Sheriff Tom McCool told a Harrison County newspaper the estimated total amount of money is as much as $1 million. The United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing is now assisting in the investigation to determine how much cash was involved. “All we know for sure is this is a lot of money,” Lt. Webb said.

“We suspect it was money used in the drug trade because of the way it was packaged and the way it was transported,” Lt. Webb said.  The money was recovered inside the driver’s side door of the vehicle. The bills were wrapped in plastic and packaged in aluminum foil.

Sheriff McCool said any money that is still able to be used will be divided between the Harrison County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s office and used for “law enforcement purposes.”

Lt. Webb did not know the passenger in the truck’s first name, but said his last name was Royster and said he was Eric Royster’s cousin.

Survivors include his parents, Freddie and Zeola Royster of Angier; daughter, Jamikwa Williams of Raleigh; son, Eric J. Avery of Coats; brother, Tyshawn McCarthy of Angier; and sisters, Shannon Jones (Shawnwon) of Georgia and Earlena Lanier of Angier. Story courtesy The Daily Record


Clayton Man Serving On Board USS Makin Island

Gulf Of Aden (Nov. 9) - Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Timothy Sexton, from Clayton, North Carolina, inspects wires for fraying on the motherboard of a desktop printer while performing routine maintenance in the automated data processing space aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8).

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass
Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lawrence Davis/Released)

Tickets Now Available For North Carolina’s Largest Civil War Reenactment

Thousands of Re-enactors to descend on Bentonville Battlefield – March 21-22, 2015

Four Oaks – In March 1865, almost 80,000 soldiers descended on the woodlands near the small village of Bentonville. Fighting waged for three days in what would become the largest Civil War battle fought in North Carolina. In March 2015, Bentonville Battlefield State Historic site will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle with a weekend chock-full of exciting activities for the entire family.

The event will feature two distinct battle scenarios:  “The Fight for the Morris Farm” on Saturday at 3:00 pm and “Last Grand Charge of the Army of Tennessee & Morgan’s Stand” on Sunday at 1:30 pm.   In addition to the daily battles, activities include free lectures from Civil War historians, book signings, 19th century medical displays, domestic skills, period music, and dozens of “sutlers,” who turn an open field into a Civil War shopping mall.

The 150th Bentonville reenactment will be the largest event in the Civil War 150th commemoration in North Carolina, and may be the largest to ever take place in the state. Re-enactors from across the country will attend as this is set to be the last large-scale reenactment of the 150th cycle in the nation. Don’t miss this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Tickets for the battle scenarios, and may be purchased online at www.150thbentonville.com/tickets, at Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site, or by calling (910) 594-0789. Checks can be mailed to Bentonville 150th Event Tickets, P.O. Box 211, Newton Grove, NC 28366.

Advanced tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children aged nine to12.  After March 15, and at the gate (if available), tickets will be $15 for adults and $10 for children nine to12. Children aged eight and under attend free. A discounted combination two-day ticket is also available during advanced sales only ($20 for adults and $10 for children aged nine to 12.) Although the large size of the re-enactment does not allow for all of the battle to be seen by each visitor, the scenarios have been altered to maximize the visitor’s experience.

The battle scenarios Saturday and Sunday are the only events that require tickets. All other activities at the 150th anniversary event—lectures, house tours, music, demonstrations and more--are free to the public.

The 2015 event is sponsored by the Friends of Bentonville Battlefield, Inc., North Carolina State Historic Sites and Properties, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and the Johnston County Visitors Bureau. Bentonville’s re-enactment is part of North Carolina’s Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration. All proceeds from the event support Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site with a percentage to be used for improvements of the site’s visitor center.

The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, involved 80,000 troops and was the last Confederate offensive against Union Gen. William T. Sherman. Bentonville Battlefield interprets the battle and field hospital, where many Confederates were left in the aftermath.

Bentonville Battlefield is located at 5466 Harper House Road, Four Oaks, NC 27524, 3 miles north of Newton Grove on S.R. 1008, about one hour from Raleigh and about 45 minutes from Fayetteville. For more information, visit www.nchistoricsites.org/bentonvi/bentonvi.htm or call 910-594-0789. 

SJHS Skills USA Hosts 2nd Annual Baseball Camp

Seated in the front row and the individuals involved in the organization of the baseball camp are SJHS SkillsUSA Advisor Paige Evans, SkillsUSA Parents, Tracie Johnson and Kim Denning. On the second row, are SkillsUSA members, Anna Weaver, Anna Webster, Taylor Lee, Kendall Evans, Sarah Pierce, and McKinley Johnson. Standing in the third row are former MLB Players, Mike Marbry and Barry Foote, along with NC Wesleyan Players, JJ Rodriquez, Steven Machin, Bobby Mondoux, and the SJHS SkillsUSA Community Service Team members, Joseph Johnson and Carson Denning. Continuing on are NC Wesleyan Players, James Kornegay, Will Graves, Brad Guengerich, and Macon Hammond. On the back row is former MLB player, Derek Foote and NC Wesleyan Players, Richard Harrell, Noah Huff, James Johnson, Andrew Franklin, Lee Dunn,  and Ryan Grant.

The South Johnston SkillsUSA chapter recently hosted its 2nd Annual Baseball Skills camp. The Community Service team planned the event with all proceeds going to benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Durham. 

Approximately 35 boys attended the camp where they worked on skills such as pitching, base running, catching, and fielding.  Also, several former major league baseball players, the NC Wesleyan Baseball team, and SJHS baseball coach Aaron Parnell were instrumental in making the camp a success.  

This camp is the first phase in the SkillsUSA Community Service project that members have planned for this year. Team members Carson Denning, Joseph Johnson, and Will Lee will present the completed project this spring at the NC SkillsUSA state conference.  

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Their mission is to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders, and responsible American citizens.



Princeton High Wins $25,000 Grant For Promoting Teen Driver Safety

Receiving the $25,000 Celebrate My Drive check on the front row ( from left) are Alethia Belageo and Peyton Overbee. On the middle row are Shawn Herrmann (State Farm Agent), Megan Evans, Chad Richards (State Farm Agent), State Farm Good Neigh-Bear (Patrick Herrmann), Patrick Sasser, Jordan Canada, Hayden Hinson, Britany Hazzlewander, Heather Peterson-PHS Safe Teen Driving Council Sponsor and PHS Driver Education Coordinator, and Tyler Sasser. On the back row are Tyler Beasley, Quinton Rhue, Princeton High School Principal Kirk Denning, and Will Mitchiner (State Farm Agent).

Princeton High School has won a $25,000 grant for encouraging safe driving practices in the community from State Farm.

The Princeton Bulldogs are among 100 winners in State Farm Celebrate My Drive teen driver safety awareness campaign. They received the check during a ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 9th at the school.

Princeton was among 3,283 registered high schools across the US who participated in this year’s program. Students, parents, administrators and the entire community rallied in support of teen drivers, making online safe driving commitments, helping the Bulldogs reach their goal. 

“State Farm is proud of Princeton’s efforts to generate excitement among students, faculty and the entire community to make safe driving commitments and have positive conversations about teen driver safety,” said State Farm Agent Chad Richards. 

Crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and the first year behind the wheel is the most dangerous. Celebrate My Drive is an opportunity to celebrate new drivers, focusing on the freedom, but also the responsibility, that comes with earning a driver’s license. It’s a chance for teens and their high schools to amplify conversations about this important topic and help be part of the solution.

“We appreciate all of the wonderful support of the program to help reduce teen crashes and save lives,” added State Farm Agent Shawn Herrmann.

Presenting the check were local State Farm Agents Chad Richards, Shawn Herrmann, and Will Mitchiner. Others in attendance included the Princeton Safe Teen Driving Club, student council and class officers, Principal Kirk Denning, Johnston County Manager Rick Hester, and Johnston County Commissioners Jeff Carver, Tony Braswell Chairman, and Ted Godwin.

Princeton High School is required to invest 10 percent of the grant award on a teen driver safety program for students.

According to Heather Peterson, Princeton High School Safe Teen Driving Council Sponsor and Driver Education Coordinator, they plan to use the remaining funds on future projects like repainting the school parking lot and providing some scholarships for students who have been active in the safe driving program all four years of their high school careers.

“We will also be using part of the money for educational programs here at our own school and part of the funds to reach out to other schools who don't have these types of programs,” said Peterson.

She added that the school is very excited to have won the Celebrate My Drive Challenge and is grateful to State Farm for providing them with the opportunity.

“We usually function on about a $500 a year budget, that we have to do fundraisers to get, so this money will allow us to do so much more and reach even further than just our school and community here,” said Peterson. “We can not thank our faculty, students, parents and community enough for helping us win the State Farm Celebrate My Drive Challenge. We are a very small school and without everyone in our community pulling together we never could have accomplished such an amazing win like this one. I have never worked in a community where everyone jumped in to help as much as in the Princeton area.”


Rouzer Named Chairman Of Livestock And Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee
Congressman-elect David Rouzer (NC-07) has been selected to serve as the Chairman of the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee for the 114th Congress by Agriculture Committee Chairman-elect Mike Conaway (TX-11). 

The Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee has jurisdiction over policies, statutes, and markets relating to all livestock, poultry, dairy, and seafood.  It also oversees the inspection, marketing, and promotion of such commodities and products like aquaculture, animal welfare, grazing, foreign agricultural assistance, and trade promotion.

"I'm truly humbled to be granted this opportunity right out of the gate.  The livestock, meat, dairy and seafood industries are vital to North Carolina's economy, the future of American agriculture, and are critical to maintaining an abundant, nutritious, and safe food supply," said Rouzer. 

"Congressman-elect Rouzer has a strong background in agriculture,” Chairman-elect Conaway said.  “His experience as an Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and general knowledge of agriculture will be an asset to the House Committee on Agriculture.  Even though this is his first term in Congress, I have a great deal of confidence in him, which is why I selected him to lead the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.”

Rouzer will also serve on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.   


False Report Of Gun Incident At Clayton High
Reports of a student with a gun on the campus of Clayton High School on Thursday, Dec. 11th were false.

WTSB News received several calls from concerned parents Thursday afternoon after students took to social media saying a student had brought a gun to campus, pointed the weapon at others in the school, and threatened to shoot them.

Additional officers responded to the school to investigate the rumors, which turned out to be unsubstantiated.

School resource officers said no one, including students were found with a gun on campus and no one alerted school personnel about any incident.

Officials said the report was erroneous.  Nevertheless, local media and parents did contact school officials and deputies to find out what was happening.

Search Warrants: Selma Murder May Have Been Drug Related

Witness Said Suspect Never Spoke To Victim Before Firing Fatal Shot

Search warrants released Thursday in the alleged murder of a Selma teenager earlier this month indicate the shooting was likely drug related.

WTSB News obtained copies of search warrants granted by a judge to detectives with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. One was for the home of the murder victim, Jamel Monee McCoy, 19, on Condary Road near Selma and another for the home of the suspect, Howard Joseph “Joey” Wood Jr., 47, on Berea Church Road near Four Oaks.

The court documents allege Wood was “a regular customer of illegal narcotics from the address of 374 Condary Road, Selma.”

On the night on December 3rd, Wood attempted to contact Karen McNeill at the residence wanting to stop by.  McCoy answered the phone and reportedly told Wood they were going to bed.

A short time later, around 9:30pm, there was a knock on the door, according to the search warrants. McCoy answered the door and was shot.  McNeill said she saw a white van in the driveway with Joey’s Carpet written on the side.  She remembered that Wood normally drove that vehicle.

Another witness to the shooting, Freda Toler, said she observed McCoy open the door and heard a “pop”.  She said McCoy fell to the floor and was bleeding from her chest. She said they immediately called 911.  Toler also alleged the white male standing at the door, identified by authorities as Wood, never said a word to McCoy before firing the fatal shot.

Several deputies responded to the shooting scene while other officers went to Wood’s address. The search warrant said deputies spotted the white work van in his driveway on Berea Church Road. When he exited his home he was arrested for an unrelated warrant already on file. 

Among the items seized from Wood were three magazines with unfired cartridge cases, clothing, tennis shoes, a cell phone, partial box of ammunition, a pistol box, and the white van. 

Items seized from the shooting scene were a projectile from the wall, a fired cartridge case, swabs of suspected blood, and carpet fibers.

McCoy died at 10:02pm in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital.    

At the time of his arrest, Wood was wanted for violating a domestic violence protection order in Haywood County in August 2014.  He was also wanted for failing to appear in Johnston County Court on a reckless driving to endanger warrant on November 26th.

Wood is facing murder charges stemming from the Dec. 3 shooting death of McCoy.   


Selma Rejects $2 Sewer Rate Increase
Revised Rate Increase To Be Discussed In January

Council Concerned About Billing Issues, $70,000 Billing Error

(Right) Following a 3-2 vote rejecting a $2 across the board sewer rate hike, Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver has asked Town Manager Jon Barlow to propose a new rate fee structure that would charge larger users more but smaller users less. Barlow will make the recommendations in January. WTSB Photo

In a split vote, the Town of Selma rejected a request Tuesday night by Town Manager Jon Barlow to increase sewer rates $2.00 per 1,000 gallons for both residential and business customers.

Barlow said it wasn’t pleasant asking for a rate increase halfway through the fiscal year but Selma’s sewer fund was in trouble. 

In making the 3-to-2 decision, board members did agree to discuss the issue in January, at which time some sort of sewer rate hike would likely be adopted.

At issue is Selma’s aging water and sewer infrastructure. For every 1-gallon of water sold, more than 2 gallons is sent back for treatment. Every time it rains, Selma sees a sharp increase in wastewater that has to be treated, due runoff that enters broken pipes.

Barlow said current rates don’t support the operation of the sewer fund. In the 2013-14 fiscal year, the fund had a cash loss of $439,000 and a net loss of $678,000.  And there are no reserve funds to fall back on.  To complete the last fiscal year budget, the town loaned the sewer fund $600,000 from excess revenues in the water department budget.

The proposed $2 increase would have generated an additional $424,000 in revenue, which would allow the sewer fund to break even for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. 

“We can’t see something for less than it costs us,” Councilman Eric Sellers said. 

Mayor Cheryl Oliver recommended Barlow review the proposed fee increase to not penalize residential customers who may be on a fixed income, while considering higher fees to those who have a higher water and sewer volume, including commercial and out-of-town customers.

Billing Issues A Concern
The Council learned one town water and sewer customer, the Johnston Correctional Institute, had been under billed for utility services since July, 2014. The $70,000 error was recently discovered and the prison has been send a new bill seeking payment.

The NC Department of Transportation building on US70 was also under billed but the amount was much smaller. 

The Council agreed there was a perception among residents water and sewer bills contained many errors.  Councilman Tommy Holmes asked that town staff review each bill every month until the problem is discovered.

Mayor Oliver said each month a number of customers, many of them the same customers, come to her with billing errors. Each time the town has to make an adjustment.

3 Charged In Kidnapping, Assault Of Benson Woman

(L to R) Deborah Gaither, Anthony Gaither, and Anthony Matthew Allen are all facing kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon charges following an incident in Benson, according to Benson Police.

Benson Police are releasing limited information surrounding the alleged kidnapping of a 40 year-old woman.  The victim was reportedly assaulted at a residence in Benson then transported to Raleigh against her will.

Police said she was able to escape and notify authorities in Wake County on Tuesday. After she was taken to a Raleigh hospital, the suspects attempted to enter her treatment room, but were ordered to leave by hospital security.

Lt. Greg Percy said the suspects were located in Benson and arrested.

Deborah Gaither, 44, of Benson, Anthony Gaither, 24, of Raleigh, and Anthony Matthew Allen, 28, of Benson are all facing charges of kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and conspiracy.     

All three suspects were booked into the Johnston County Jail under a half million-dollar bond each.

Authorities did not release any type of motive or if the victim knew the suspects.

The woman sustained numerous cuts, abrasions, and bruises, including a puncture wound to her leg. She also received injuries related to strangulation. At last report, she was still in the hospital recovering from those injuries.

Lt. Percy said the investigation is still continuing.    

36 Neuse Charter Students Working On Senior Projects

Neuse Charter High School twelfth graders are working to create and complete a senior project.

A total of 36 seniors will be graduating this year. Some of them have been enrolled since 2007 when the school first opened their doors to the fifth grade.

Senior Tess Will wrote her Junior Paper on illiteracy and chose to do a children’s book drive this year as her Senior Project. 

Collecting gently used children’s books from teachers, staff, students and parents for the last couple of months have yielded her over 500 books.

Will chose to donate all the books to the Boys & Girls Club of Johnston County.  After dropping off all the books she said, “I can’t believe how great that felt.  Those kids were wonderful.  Seeing their excitement as they waded through all those books was worth all the work I put into this project.” 

Will has always been a huge reader and cannot remember when she did not have a book to read.  “People should never say they don’t like reading.  They just need to find the right thing for them to read, and when they do they won’t be able to stop.”                                     

Selma Councilman Recovering From Heart Attack

(Left) Selma councilman William Overby is pictured at the November town council meeting. Overby suffered a heart attack Dec. 3. WTSB Photo

Selma Town Councilman William Overby was not present for the December town council meeting held Tuesday night.

Overby suffered a heart attack on December 3rd. He has been at WakeMed since that time before being released Tuesday to continue his recovery at home.

Overby did however remotely attend the meeting through a telephone connection and voted on several issues.

Councilman Tommy Holmes said Overby was very thankful for the many cards, calls, and text messages wishing him a speedy recovery. Reports that Overby would not be able to return to serve on the board were not true, Holmes said.

Overby, who was first elected in 2013, has already announced he will be running for the Selma mayors seat in the fall of 2015. 

Wilson’s Mills Police Arrest Suspect In Child Sex Offense Case
The Wilson's Mills Police Department has arrested a 50 year-old man for alleged sex offenses with a child that occurred over a six year period.

Police Chief David Hess said his department began the investigation in February of 2013. Over the next 22 months, the Wilson's Mills Police Department, Selma Police, Department of Social Services, the State Bureau of Investigation and the Johnston County District Attorney's Office, all worked together to bring justice in this case. 

On Tuesday, Miguel B Ramirez, 50, of Rocks Edge Lane, Wilson's Mills was arrested.

Chief Hess said the sexual abuse allegedly began when the victim was six years old and continued for the next six years. When the investigation began, police say the child moved out of Ramirez's home to live with a family member.   Police say that during the time of alleged sexual offense, Ramirez was a foster parent of the victim and later adopted the victim.  Police say that at the time of the adoption the allegation of sexual abuse had not occurred and the adoption agency likely was not aware of the alleged sexual abuse to the victim.

Police Lieutenant George Strong stated, "Keeping families safe and protecting children from predators is of imperative importance to our organization. As leaders of the community we are committed to the preservation of peace and vigorous enforcement of state, local and federal laws."

Ramirez was arrested without incident at his home and was confined in the Johnston County Jail under a $350,000 bond.

South Johnston Student Arrested For Stabbing At ‘The Farm’

An arrest has been made in a weekend stabbing at The Farm, an event venue on Batten Road near Micro.

Just before midnight Saturday, Johnston County deputies were called. Arriving officers said they found about 100 people in the parking lot and approximately 8 engaged in an affray.

During the altercation, 18 year-old Pedro Ibanez Alverez of South Brightleaf Boulevard, Smithfield was stabbed with a knife. Alverez was rushed to the hospital for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injuries.

On Wednesday, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of 16 year-old Marcos Humberto Chavez Jr., of Boyette Road, Four Oaks.  Chavez was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.  WTSB News confirmed Wednesday that Chavez is a student at South Johnston High.

Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office said additional arrests are pending.

The Farm recently was the location of the Smithfield Selma Chamber of Commerce Small Business Expo. 

West Johnston Student Charged With Campus Assault

A West Johnston High student is facing criminal charges after allegedly attacking another student with a chair. The incident happened in the school cafeteria on Tuesday.

Seventeen year-old Datrel K’Chaun Lyons of Clayton Road, Angier allegedly struck a 16 year-old student with a chair then began punching him, according to Tammy Amaon, Public Information Officer, with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

Amaon said another student recorded the assault on their cellphone camera. The video was turned over to the school resource officer.

Lyons was charged with assaulted and released from the Johnston County Jail on a $1,000 bond.

The victim in the case received a very minor injury to his leg, authorities said.