Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted

Of Johnston County's 45 public schools,

15 graded "D" or "F" in latest "report card"

That's the bad news. The good news is that the number of schools that either "met" or "exceeded" performance-growth expectations in 2018-19 was 26 --- double the number from the previous school year.

Those results from the state's latest public-schools "report card" were presented to the Johnston County Board of Education on Tuesday.

Among 13 schools getting "D" grades this year were Smithfield Middle, South Smithfield Elementary, West Smithfield, and Wilson's Mills Elementary. The others were Benson Middle, Benson Elementary, Clayton Middle, West Clayton Elementary, Cooper Academy (at Clayton), Corinth-Holders Elementary, Micro Elementary, Selma Elementary, and Polenta Elementary schools.

Selma Middle and North Johnston Middle schools were graded "F."

Seven schools got "B" grades: Cleveland High, Cleveland Middle, Cleveland Elementary, Corinth-Holders High, River Dell Elementary, Riverwood Middle, and Riverwood Elementary.

Only two schools got "A" grades:
the Career & Technical Leadership Academy and the Early College Academy --- both non-traditional schools with limited enrollment based at Johnston Community College.

Here's the list of "report card" grades for all 45 schools>

READ MORE about all that and more in this week's school board report>

Johnston County Public Schools photo

9/11 remembered at Smithfield-Selma High

Navy Junior ROTC students are shown presenting the colors during Wednesday morning's observance of the 18th anniversary of the infamous 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and other intended targets in Washington, D.C.
Johnston County Public Schools posted a report online about the SSS event>

SSS celebrating 50th anniversary of sports

It's Homecoming Week at Smithfield-Selma High School, highlighted by Friday night's football game pitting the Spartans against the Panthers from North Johnston and the traditional crowning of a Homecoming Queen.

It's also the first of a series of 50th anniversary celebrations marking the start of Smithfield-Selma Senior (SSS) High School athletic competition.

There was no Homecoming Queen in the fall of 1969 because there was no "homecoming" for a school yet to graduate its first senior class. But the school's yearbook for 1969-70 did include this picture of the first "Miss SSS": Margaret Ilene Wallace (daughter of Tom and Margaret Wallace of Smithfield).

The school's first principal was Charles Tucker, for whom the Spartans' football stadium is named.

READ MORE about plans for this Friday's celebration on the SPORTS & RECREATION page>


Not a common site after Dorian's passage

This house and car in East Smithfield's Belmont neighborhood got smashed by an oak tree toppled during Hurricane Dorian's passage along the Carolina coast last Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, this was a one-of-a-kind occurrence as the storm caused minimal damage here. At one point, radar indicated a tornado moving westward above northern sections of town, but touchdown wasn't confirmed and no damage was evident afterwards. The National Weather Service observatory at Johnston Regional Airport recorded 7.29 inches of rainfall between 10 a.m. Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday
(Cornell Cox's rain gauge in South Smithfield registered 6.4 inches), but neither flash flooding nor river flooding followed. The Neuse at Smithfield rose from a depth of 4.97 feet Thursday morning to a crest of 11.66 feet Friday afternoon --- comfortably below the river's "flood stage" of 15 feet here.

Attorney at Law
102 S. Third St.


On Smithfield's Mountains-to-Sea trail

Smithfield was one of numerous communities across the state that observed the 42nd birthday of North Carolina's Mountains-to-Sea Trail last Saturday. We were eligible because the town's Buffalo Creek Greenway linking the Town Commons Downtown with the Community Park beside Smithfield-Selma High School has been designated as an official link in the yet-to-be-completed "MST."

The editor's first-hand report is on this week's OBSERVATIONS page>

  real-estate broker


A rundown of upcoming civic and cultural events in our community
that we've been told about or seen publicized elsewhere:

RETIRED STATE TROOPER CHUCK COATS will autograph copies of his recently published Highway Patrol Stories from 1 to 3 p.m. this Saturday (September 14) at the Johnston County Heritage Center in Downtown Smithfield. Copies of the book will be on sale for $20 (tax included).

(Daughters of the American Revolution) will host a "Bells Across America" event at 3:45 p.m. next Tuesday (September 17) on the steps of the Johnston County Courthouse to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution.

A NEW EXHIBIT IN THE FRANK CREECH ART GALLERY at Johnston Community College will open with a reception open to the public from 5:30 till 7 p.m. next Tuesday (September 17), hosted by the Johnston County Arts Council. The works of three Clayton artists --- Amy Beshgoorian, Medrith Nuttle, and Sharlene Thomas --- will remain on display weekends --- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays --- through October 6.

THE 15th ANNUAL HISTORICAL GHOST WALK hosted by the Johnston County Heritage Center is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 24 in Smithfield's Riverside Cemetery. Admission will be $5 for adults and $3 for students in grades K-12. Tickets are not sold in advance. Guided tours are offered first-come, first served, starting at the corner of South Second and Church streets.


Each week we'll post links to obituaries about persons who have died during the past week. We'll monitor the websites of local funeral homes to compile our list, and we welcome links provided by readers to obituaries of persons with Smithfield connections who have died outside our immediate area.

ELIZABETH LAWHON WALL, 79 - died September 11

THELMA ELAINE HINTON WARD, 52 - died September 8

ELOWYN LACY HOWELL, infant - died September 7

LOIS HILLERS WILSON, 93 - died September 7

PHYLLIS PARRISH NORRIS, 69 - died September 6