PUBLISHED ONLINE JULY 18, 2019   •   VOL. 1, NO. 29

Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted

Feature: Good works by Junior Women's League
Sports & Recreation: Wiffle Ball's moment in the sun
 Observations: Biggest source of our stormwater

Oh, no, not again! It's deja vu for the Vermont Street culvert at Meadowbrook Branch in South Smithfield where last Friday's flash flooding washed away a portion of the street, just as Hurricane Matthew's rainfall did in October 2017.

After an extended dry period, Smithfield

gets way too much rainfall in one night

We surely needed the rain that finally found Smithfield last Thursday night and early Friday morning, but not that much in such a short period of time!

The National Weather Service reporting station at Johnston Regional Airport (3 miles northwest of Downtown Smithfield) measured a total of 6.58 inches between 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11 and 6:55 a.m. Friday, July 12. About 4.5 inches of that total was recorded between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Friday.

Too much for our public drainage systems to "process" all at once.

The worst washout was the collapse of Vermont Street where it crosses Meadowbrook Branch, a relatively small stream we neighborhood kids called "the ditch" (damage pictured above). It was ironic that the only culvert failure along Meadowbrook was where the street and large pipe had been reconstructed after a similar failure caused by Hurricane Matthew's flooding almost two years ago.

Town Manager Mike Scott said this week that it may take as long as three weeks to get Vermont Street open again. "We may get it done sooner but we have not yet selected a contractor," he told the Sun on Tuesday.
Estimated cost of repairs: $15,000 to $20,000, which the town manager said would likely come from $272,128 that's budgeted in the General Fund for contingencies like this.

Another repeat "casualty" of last weekend's flash flooding, WRAL-TV reported, was the West Smithfield home of Harbor Inc., the local shelter for victims of domestic violence. The same thing occurred there with Hurricane Matthew --- not long after Harbor had moved into its newly constructed home.

The threat of swift water on the Neuse following last Friday's storm prompted postponement of the 2nd annual River Rat Regatta, scheduled for last Saturday, until August 17.

Meanwhile, the recently resurrected Fifth Street Community Garden "survived" the gushing waters of adjacent Spring Branch with plant beds, and vegetables, intact.

Smithfield's railroad underpass flooded from the unexpected deluge that fell upon the town early last Friday, but it didn't take long for the stormwater to drain away. Town Councilman Marlon Lee appears to be celebrating that development after checking out the situation shortly before 9:30 Friday morning, when Market Street was reopened to traffic. The underpass used to flood frequently after heavy rainstorms, but that occurrence has become uncommon since the town completed a massive drainage "mitigation" project 20 years ago.

MORE about Smithfield floods on this week's OBSERVATIONS page>


Mayor Andy Moore files for re-election;

4 candidates have filed for 3 council seats

Former Councilman Roger Wood of Whitley Drive and Jim Snyder of West Davis Street filed this week for seats up for election on the Smithfield Town Council this year. They join incumbents Stephen Rabil of Wilson Street and John Dunn of Eden Drive, who previously had filed for re-election to second four-year terms.

Meanwhile, Andy Moore has filed for re-election to a third two-year as mayor.

Mr. Wood won a close election to a district council seat, representing West Smithfield, in 2013 but chose not to run for re-election in 2017.

Mr. Snyder ran for mayor in 2015, when Andy Moore was elected.

This year's election will fill three at-large council seats. That means all of Smithfield's voters will mark their ballots for up to three candidates among those listed, with the top three vote-getters winning election without a runoff.

The deadline for candidates to file is noon this Friday (July 19). Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.

Town is replacing electric meters in North Smithfield

The Town of Smithfield's Electric Department is upgrading electric meters north of Hospital Road and east of Buffalo Road during the next few weeks. It's part of an ongoing project to install new digital meters throughout town that can be read remotely as a cost-cutting measure.

Town Manager Mike Scott reported at last week's Town Council meeting that all of Smithfield's electric meters, commercial as well as residential, should be converted to "automated" Nex Grid meters within the next 18 months. The old meters have already been replaced in some residential neighborhoods.

212 E. Church Street  •  919-934-1121  •

What it was was big boys' Wiffle Ball

The North Carolina Wiffle Ball Tournament was played at Smithfield last weekend, when 12 teams competed in the 31st annual edition.

All told, 22 games were played Saturday and Sunday, and a Johnston County team named "Uncensored" took the title, going undefeated in the double-elimination event. A team called the 'Super Smash Brothers" finished second.

MORE about it on this week's SPORTS & RECREATION page>

"Trusted by families since 1977"

Smithfield's civic-club scene is changing

The Junior Women's League of Smithfield is filling a void left by the demise of traditional women's clubs.

READ MORE on this week's FEATURE PAGE>

  Johnston Community College photo


Dr. Oliver Johnson (center) of Smithfield is a new member of the Board of Trustees at Johnston Community College. Here he's being sworn in along with Hank Daniels of Smithfield, reappointed to the board for a third four-year term, and Heather Choate of Newton Grove, joining the board as president of JCC's Student Government Association. Benton Sawrey of Smithfield also began a second term on the board this month. For the complete story, visit the JCC website>