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PUBLISHED ONLINE JUNE 2, 2022   •   VOL. 4, NO. 22

Stories and photos by WINGATE LASSITER unless credited otherwise
(Click on highlighted link to e-mail the editor)

A Memorial Day walk through Flags for Heroes

A couple takes advantage of Monday morning's peaceful beauty to walk among the American flags posted by the Rotary clubs of Johnston County along the trail on hospital grounds beside Hospital Road. Rotary's Flags for Heroes project was started during the coronavirus pandemic to honor front-line health-care workers, then expanded to honor the fallen on Memorial Day. Meanwhile, at Monday's observance inside the Courthouse, Retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant Brad Palmer reminded the gathering that "there are plenty of veterans in this county that need us" upon their return from military conflicts around the world. County Commissioner Ted Godwin read a proclamation noting that 249 Johnstonians have perished in battle since the start of World War I a century ago. VIEW the entire 30-minute program archived on the county's YouTube channel>


Smithfield's Town Council gets one new member

The mayor and four councilmen who won election May 17 were sworn into office during a special ceremonial session of the Town Council Tuesday evening. Pictured (left to right) is the newly constituted governing board:
• Marlon Lee, beginning his third term as East Smithfield's representative.
Sloan Stevens, beginning his first term as South Smithfield's representative.
• Travis Scott, beginning his third term as North Smithfield's representative.
• Mayor Andy Moore, who was won re-election every other year since 2015.
• John Dunn, an at-large representative chosen Tuesday to remain Mayor Pro Tem.
• David Barbour, beginning his second term as West Smithfield's representative.
• Roger Wood, an at-large representative midway through his second term.
• Steve Rabil, an at-large representative midway through his second term.

Smithfield's estimated population climbs to 11,630

That's up 3% from the official 2020 count of 11,292, according to 2021 estimates for cities and towns released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. The latest estimate for Johnston County is 226,504 – an increase of 4.9% above the 2020 total. The population for North Carolina as a whole rose 1.1% from 2020 to 2021 and is now estimated to be 10,551,162.

Neighborly rejuvenation
of an old neighborhood

That's what Kay Kennedy has done along the streets near her home on Smithfield's Riverside Drive. She has purchased and fixed up, for rent or sale, about 20 old dwellings that were showing their age and in need of some major repairs – and upgrades.

You'll find her story
on this week's FEATURE PAGE>


4-bedroom brick ranch on half-acre landscaped lot at 707 Crescent Drive in South Smithfield – with an office, all appliances, stair lifts, wired workshop, 2-car carport, greenhouse. 2,936 square feet: $399,000 (MLS#2444987)

LAND FOR SALE  2.4-acre vacant lot at 1558 W. Market Street (US 70 Business) in West Smithfield. Mostly level with 323-foot road frontage. Less than 3 miles from Johnston Regional Airport, about 5 miles from I-95: $525,000 (MLS#2447472)


Number of Johnstonians employed up to 103,245 in April

That's an increase of 967 from the estimate for March, producing a jobless rate of 3.0% for April – down from 3.1% a month earlier. The N.C. Department of Commerce's monthly report shows 3,186 Johnstonians filing for unemployment insurance in April – down from 3,236 in March. Johnston's jobless rate in April a year ago was 4.3%.


May's rainfall hit the average, yet total for year still lags

May produced 4.23 inches of rain recorded by Cornell Cox's Backyard Weather Station in South Smithfield. That brings our year-to-date total to 15.56 inches – an amount below the five-month average of 18.78 inches for our area, according to U.S. Climate Data. Coincidentally, the average for May here is 4.23 inches – the same number recorded by Mr. Cox's rain gauge this past month.



SSS High's graduation ceremony this Friday evening

Smithfield-Selma High School will celebrate the graduation of 255 seniors at 6 p.m. Friday at Charles Tucker Stadium. That includes some students who completed high school in December but chose to walk with the spring semester's graduates, SSS Principal David Allen told the Sun. Adding 25 students who got their diplomas in December, SSS will graduate 280 this year, he noted. Friday's ceremony will be live-streamed>

Firemen will distribute free smoke alarms this Saturday

As part of a grant program sponsored by the N.C. Fire Marshal's office, the Smithfield Fire Department is offering a limited supply of free smoke alarms to homeowners. Homeowners whose smoke alarms are not functioning, are past their life span, or who have no alarms are encouraged to contact the Fire Department at 919-934-2468 to schedule a visit on "Smoke Alarm Saturday" this weekend.

County Commissioners will meet three times on Monday

Johnston's Board of Commissioners will conduct a public hearing on County Manager Rick Hester's proposed 2022-23 budget during Monday's morning session, which begins at 10 a.m. at the Courthouse. VIEW the proposed budget in detail>
Also on the morning's agenda is an update on GoTriangle's commuter-rail study.
VIEW the complete agenda for the 10 a.m. session>
At 2 p.m. Monday commissioners will convene in the Selma Civic Center for a public hearing on an economic-development incentive grant for an unidentified "agribusiness manufacturing facility in Selma."
During their regularly scheduled 6 p.m. session, commissioners will hold public hearings on four land-use rezoning requests: two in Cleveland Township, one in Pleasant Grove Township, and one in O'Neals Township.
VIEW the complete agenda for the 6 p.m. session>

Town Council to consider another large project Tuesday

The Smithfield Town Council will conduct a public hearing on rezoning for another large residential development during its regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall. NRP Ventures LLC plans to develop 491 acres on Mallard Road between US 70 Business East and Brogden Road with 490 single-family lots, 691 townhouse lots, a 564-unit three-story "multifamily development," and a similar 260-unit four-story component. Another rezoning request to be considered Tuesday seeks Light Industrial zoning for 42 acres on the northeast side of Barbour Road's intersection with US 70 Business West. On the evening's "Consent Agenda" are a proposal to pay off remaining debts on the Recreation and Aquatics Center and awarding of a contract for a renovation study of the old American Legion Hut on Front Street presently leased by the Neuse Little Theatre.
VIEW the complete agenda for Tuesday's council session>

Music for the Lunch Bunch series returns next week

The Johnston County Arts Council's Music for the Lunch Bunch series returns for another season next Wednesday (June 8) when a troupe from the Neuse Little Theatre presents the first installment, followed by pianist Dexter Ruffin on June 15, vocalist, pianist, and violinist Carmen Parker on June 22, vocalist Bruce Johnson and organist Kelly Garris on June 29, pianists Kwan Yi and Jared Yoakem on July 13, pianist Dara Edwards on July 20, and pianist Jonathan Levin on July 27. All performances will be held at Smithfield's First Presbyterian Church and will begin at 12:15 p.m. and last about 30 minutes.

These front-yard signs
are endorsements you
can trust in all seasons.



Click on the name to read an obituary, usually posted by the funeral home

LINA M. SANDERS-JOHNSON, 85 – died May 31


ELIAS OWEN PHILLIPS, 88 – died May 27

AUDREY BARNES CREECH, 91 – died May 26




Seeking assurances that "it can't happen here"

I was relieved to learn that the administration of Johnston County's public schools sent out a message to parents in the wake of that massacre in a Texas elementary school, reassuring them that "in addition to our regularly assigned school resource officers and safety plans that are in place, we will have an increased law enforcement presence and patrols at all schools."

Those safety measures include "security vestibules" recently installed at all of Johnston's schools and procedures in place that don't allow visitors to enter school buildings without on-the-spot permission.

Thank goodness for those steps taken, for we've all learned by now there's no guarantee "it can't happen here."

What to do about all these mass murders at schools, in churches, and just about anywhere else?

A logical place to start is reinstatement of that 1994-2004 Congressional ban on military assault weapons in the hands of anyone other than trained members of the nation's armed forces.

But the bigger picture shows us a nation in turmoil over political divisiveness that has descended into awful depths of despair, anger, hatred, and prejudice the likes of which we haven't seen in our lifetime. It's scary, it's counterproductive, and it defiles what we've been taught about our nation's reason for being.

We reap what we sow, and right now it's a bitter harvest.

Let's wrap up this edition on a positive note with the photograph below of Sloan Stevens taking his oath of office this week as a younger generation's addition to the Smithfield Town Council. He's accompanied by his children, Trey and Natalie, and his wife Kelsey. Administering the oath is Resident Superior Court Judge Tom Locke. Behind them are Mayor Andy Moore and Town Clerk Shannan Parrish. Norman Rockwell, the iconic American artist, would've relished this scene:


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