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PUBLISHED ONLINE JULY 14, 2022   •   VOL. 4, NO. 27

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

 

Two county officials under investigation
Commissioner Dickie Braswell faces criminal charge; Ronald Johnson considered giving up school-board seat

Two weeks ago the Johnston County Sheriff's Department announced the arrest of County Commissioner Dickie Braswell on a charge of taking indecent liberties with a 13-year-old girl.

Last week the Smithfield Police Department put Detective Ronald Johnson on administrative leave while conducting "an internal investigation" into a matter yet to be identified.

Following that announcement, Mr. Johnson said he would resign from the Johnston County Board of Education at the end of this week, but on Wednesday said he had changed his mind and would remain on the board.

Chief of Police Keith Powell initially said Mr. Johnson had been placed on leave with pay but said this week his leave is now without pay.

In the meantime, no further details have been provided about either case.

Commissioner Braswell, appointed to the county board last year to fill a vacancy, has made no comment about his future status as an elected official. He is currently running unopposed for election to a full four-year term as the board's representative from a district that extends from Princeton to Bentonville to Four Oaks.

Mr. Johnson has been serving on the school board since 2016 and is not up for re-election again until 2024. He has worked as a Smithfield police officer for 17 years.
He issued a statement Wednesday about his situation to the JoCo Report>

 



Leo Daughtry named to N.C. transportation board
 

Smithfield attorney Leo Daughtry has resigned from the UNC Board of Governors with three years left on his term to accept appointment by the N.C. General Assembly to the state's Board of Transportation. His term on that board, as an at-large rather than district member, continues till June 30, 2026.

What will be his focus? "I hope to improve the roads in our fast-growing county," he replied to an inquiry from the Weekly Sun. "It seems that we are beginning to have more traffic than we can handle."

Mr. Daughtry was a long-time Republican leader in the General Assembly, first serving as a senator from 1989 till 1993, then as a representative till he decided not to seek re-election in 2016. He served as House Majority Leader in the mid-1990s and ran for Governor in 2000.

In reporting his appointment to the bipartisan Board of Transportation, Business North Carolina pointed out that Mr. Daughtry "recently was a vocal critic of the Legislature’s mandate that UNC System headquarters move from Chapel Hill to Raleigh." The magazine noted that he and fellow UNC board members Art Pope and John Fraley "criticized the cost and lack of public discussion of the move from UNC’s traditional base in Chapel Hill. But state lawmakers say the combined office can lead to better coordination among agencies."

 



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County to cover cost of first year's tuition at JCC

Johnston's County Commissioners have funded a new initiative that will cover the cost of tuition at Johnston Community College during the 2022-23 school year for 2022 graduates of North Carolina high schools.

The recently adopted county budget provides $250,000 for the JoCo Commissioners Promise Program that will bridge the gap for any tuition not covered by the Longleaf Commitment Grant, federal Pell grants, or other state funds. Students will be responsible for the costs of textbooks, supplies, and program-specific fees.

To qualify, students who meet eligibility requirements must apply to JCC and fill out FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms. Registration for the college's fall semester ends August 12. For more details and a link to the application process, visit https://www.johnstoncc.edu/jocopromiseprogram>

 



Town adds police officer with master's degree

Jenyssa Louise Cooper, a former probation officer and correctional officer with the N.C. Department of Public Safety, took her oath of office at Tuesday's monthly meeting of the Smithfield Town Council.

She fills one of half a dozen vacancies on the town's police force following the recent retirement of Captain Ryan Sheppard.

Ms. Cooper holds both a bachelor's degree from Mercy College and a master's degree from Walden University, both in the study of criminal justice.
(Town of Smithfield photo of Officer Cooper with Chief of Police Keith Powell)

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council approved purchasing four new vehicles for the Police Department. The town is paying $138,944 ($34,736 each) for Ford Explorer SUVs, which Chief Keith Powell said is the only model of police vehicle currently available through a state contract with Performance Automotive of Clinton.

Meanwhile, Chief Powell's monthly report to the council showed an increase in "calls for service" by the Police Department through May – from 8,596 last year to 9,926 this year. The largest increase by category has been for speeding violations.


Council OKs "betterment" funds for new I-95 interchange
The council approved an expenditure of $12,000 to cover the expense of new traffic-signal poles painted black instead of "industrial gray" as part of a state project to rebuild the interchange of I-95 and East Market Street (US 70 Business).

Town Manager Mike Scott said $15,000 in "betterment" funds had been budgeted for the project with an expectation that the town would have to pay for a sidewalk on the south side of Market Street west of I-95. The N.C. Department of Transportation now says it will cover the cost of the sidewalk's construction, he told the council.

Mr. Scott recommended the black-paint option to match utility poles already in place along the Market Street entrance to town. NCDOT's schedule calls for the project's contract to be awarded in October 2023.


Crumbling drainage gutters on Stevens Street to be replaced
The council approved a contract with low bidder James Paul Edwards Inc. to replace deteriorating valley-type gutters where Stevens Street intersects with First and Second streets in South Smithfield. Cost of the work totals $17,664.

Permits issued for three organizations' special events.
The council approved permits for three upcoming events on public properties:
• TrueVine Apostolic Ministries will host a "Youth Jubilee" in the 700 block of East Smithfield's Second Avenue from noon till 4 p.m. this Saturday (July 16).
• The Partnership for Children of Johnston County will host a "Rootle Roadster" event at Smith-Collins Park from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. Saturday, July 23.
• The SSS Robotics Booster Club will hold a "FoxChalk" fund-raising event on a closed portion of Third Street Downtown from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. September 10.

 




Public Library ends fines for overdue materials

On July 1 the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield became “fine free.” That means patrons will no longer be charged fees for overdue materials. In addition, the library has erased all past-due fines on patron accounts.

"The change is a part of an institutional movement from libraries state and nationwide that have been guided by the recommendations of the American Library Association in an effort to increase free public access to library services," explained PLJCS Director Johnnie Pippin. “We want to remove barriers and make library access easier, equitable, and enjoyable for the residents of Johnston County – not block individuals from utilizing the library.

"This initiative is about focusing on recovery of our materials, not charging punitive monetary fines," he added. "The hope is that anyone who stopped using our wonderful library will come back and take advantage of our great services."

Borrowed material will continue to have due dates, and patrons will receive notices when their materials are due to be returned, Mr. Pippin said, and "there will be the added measure of two automatic renewals if there are no holds."

Located in the heart of Downtown Smithfield at Market and Third streets, the library is open 9-5:30 Monday-Wednesday & Friday, 9-7:30 Thursday, and 9-1 Saturday.

 

 

Central Johnston Rotary's leaders for 2022-23

Beth Watson is the new president, succeeding John Parrish (left) who was named "Rotarian of the Year" for his work leading the club "back to life" following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago. With them is President-Elect Jamie Stanley, who's scheduled to succeed Mrs. Watson next July.
 



Johnston hospitals earn honors for stroke care

UNC Health Johnston has received the American Heart Association’s "Get With The Guidelines" GoldPlus award for ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based standards.

Johnston also received the Heart Association’s Target: Stroke Elite award for meeting specific criteria that reduce the time between an eligible patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster alteplase.

In addition, UNC Health Johnston received the national association’s Target: Type 2 Honor Roll award for ensuring patients with Type 2 diabetes who might be at higher risk for complications receive the most up-to-date, evidence-based care when hospitalized due to stroke.

Stroke, the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S., occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so brain cells die. Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability and accelerating recovery times.

UNC Health Johnston operates what was formerly Johnston Memorial Hospital at Smithfield and a newer hospital at Clayton.

 




WHAT'S COMING UP?

County Commissioners will meet twice on Monday

Since the board didn't hold its regular first-Monday-of-the-month session on the Fourth of July, two sessions are scheduled this coming Monday in the commissioners' meeting room at the Courthouse:
• At the 10 a.m. session, the board will conduct a public hearing on a resolution authorizing a $177-million school-bond issue to be placed on the ballot for this November's General Election (the resolution does not specify projects to be funded if the bond issue is approved by voters). Also at the morning session, commissioners will get an update on a Recreation Master Plan that's in the making and will receive the annual report from the county's Child Fatality Prevention Team.
VIEW the complete agenda for the 10 a.m. session>
• At the 6 p.m. session, the board will conduct public hearings on four land-use rezoning requests – three in Cleveland Township, one in O'Neals Township. Two of the Cleveland requests involve plans for large residential subdivisions.
VIEW the complete agenda for the 6 p.m. session>


This Friday's Third StrEATery will feature Latin Jazz

Downtown Smithfield's monthly outdoor dining event continues from 6 to 9 p.m. along the 100 block of South Third Street (closed to vehicular traffic for the duration), this month featuring the La Fiesta Latin Jazz Quintet. There's no admission charge for patrons of nearby restaurants to bring their meals to tables set up along the street. Complementing the music are games set up for the youngsters.
 

Fun in the Park planned at Smith-Collins this Saturday

The event at Smith-Collins Park will continue from 11 a.m. till 4 p.m. offering free food, games, and music. Its sponsors are the East Smithfield Improvement Organization, the Smithfield Police Department, and the town's Parks and Recreation Department.
 



DEATHS & FUNERALS

Click on the name to read an obituary, usually posted by the funeral home
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This week's list covers the past two weeks
since the Sun wasn't published last Thursday
.)

EVERETT SHERRILL THOMPSON, 86 – died July 12

SARAH LEE CARTER RIED, 66 – died July 11

JOSEPH HAROLD ADAMS, 76 – died July 6

JAMES MONROE DUNN, 58 – died July 6

JAMES THOMAS SULLIVAN, 64 – died July 6

ELIZABETH KING KEENE, 82 – died July 3

ELI MASON PARRISH (INFANT) – died July 2

GERALDINE (GERRY) LOIS JOHNSON McARDLE, 90 – died July 1

CHARLES ANDREW (ANDY) CREECH, 82 – died June 30

CAROL FAYE HEATH ENNIS, 66 – died June 30

SADIE LAMM TEDDER, 88 – died June 30

MARK LEE JONES, 65 – died June 29

HENRY COY SANDERS, 77 – died June 27

 



A WORD (OR TWO) FROM THE EDITOR

About Frank Daniels Jr. and The Smithfield Herald

I cannot let the passing of The News and Observer's Frank Daniels Jr. go by without adding my personal note of gratitude for what he meant to the newspaper industry in our region, and to The Smithfield Herald in particular. (He died June 30 at age 90.)

When my family agreed to sell the Herald to the N&O in 1980, Frank and his team from the get-go gave us great support in making sure our community's newspaper would continue to thrive and, beyond that, expand its service to the citizens of Johnston County.

As the number of Herald subscribers and advertisers rose along with Johnston's surge in population, we were able to enlarge our news staff and increase the Herald's content to three sections of the paper on Tuesdays and four on Fridays! At one point in the early 1990s we were on the verge of adding a third weekly edition.

One of the best things the Daniels family did for us was providing staff to set up a distribution system where we could deliver the Herald to all of our subscribers anywhere in Johnston County on Tuesday and Friday afternoons rather than put those papers in the mail for delivery "out in the country" a day later.

We were part of the N&O's close-knit corporate family that included several other excellent community papers besides the Herald, including the Waynesville Mountaineer, The Cary News, combined papers at nearby Wendell and Zebulon, plus a couple of larger operations at Beaufort-Hilton Head and Rock Hill, S.C.

Those were the best of times for the newspaper industry around here, and Frank Daniels was a big reason for our success.

The recent demise of The News and Observer as we once knew it along with the unthinkable obliteration of The Smithfield Herald and other nearby weeklies didn't take place on Frank Daniels's watch. That happened after his family sold all its newspaper holdings to California's McClatchy Company, which subsequently undertook an overly aggressive expansion across the nation that led to bankruptcy in the wake of the "Great Recession" of 2007-2009.

After the N&O's sale to McClatchy, Frank Daniels and several of his associates purchased The Pilot in Southern Pines and today that award-winning publishing company is flourishing with a twice-weekly newspaper for Moore County along with several state and regional magazines augmented by a number of online publications upon which the Smithfield Weekly Sun is modeled.

If only those guys had somehow been able to add The Smithfield Herald to that mix, I believe we'd still have that first-rate newspaper this community sorely needs now.

– Wingate Lassiter, editor & publisher

 



If you're not a subscriber and want to be alerted each Thursday when a new edition of the Smithfield Weekly Sun is published, send your name and e-mail address to wingate.lassiter@nc.rr.com and I'll add you to the list (at no cost).

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