ONLINE JUNE 20, 2019
It's official arrival time
is 11:54 a.m. on Friday
That's the precise moment of Summer Solstice, when the
Sun reaches its highest position in the Northern
Hemisphere's sky, producing the year's longest day and
shortest night. Actually, according to the Old Farmer's
Almanac, sunrise and sunset for us remains at 5:58 a.m.
and 8:32 p.m. for three days --- this Friday, Saturday,
County budget adopted
with a 2-cent
reduction in the property-tax rate
Johnston's County Commissioners adopted
the county's 2019-20 budget Monday evening with a 2-cent
reduction in the property-tax rate --- from 78 cents to
76 cents per $100 valuation.
It's the first rate reduction in 16 years but it means
higher property-tax bills for most Johnstonians because
of this year's upward revaluation of taxable real estate
for most homeowners and businesses.
Before approval by unanimous vote, commissioners
increased the coming year's appropriation to Johnston
County Public Schools by $3 million above a $2.5-million
increase that had been recommended by County Manager
Rick Hester. Still, that's well short of a $20.5-million
increase requested by Johnston's Board of Education.
It's said to be the only Freedmen's Bureau
schoolhouse still standing in North Carolina
And it's right here in Smithfield --- on
North Fourth Street near First Missionary Baptist
An historical marker telling the story was unveiled
Wednesday morning at a ceremony inside the church
sanctuary (shown on the right by church leaders
Robert Stanley and Nathaniel Sanders).
Todd Johnston, director of the Johnston County Heritage
Center, said the original Freedmen's Bureau school for
Smithfield's African-Americans was likely a "drafty log
house" built in 1865
at the Town Commons on Front Street.
In 1867 educators raised $50 to
purchase the lot where First Missionary now stands for
construction of the present-day structure (pictured
here), which was opened to students in April 1869,
Mr. Johnson said.
The structure was later moved to a lot to the north so
First Missionary could build its church at the corner of
Fourth and Caswell streets. The schoolhouse remained in
service there until 1912.
A couple of years ago the Historic Smithfield Foundation
was established as a charitable, non-profit organization
to raise funds for restoring the schoolhouse as an
historic site open to visitors. So far, the property has
been purchased from the church. An estimated $190,000 is
being sought to undertake the restoration (for more
information about that effort, e-mail email@example.com).
The Johnston County Visitors Bureau funded the
Freedmen's School historical marker and four others
throughout Johnston to be erected this summer: at
Atkinson's Mill north of Selma this Friday; at the
Hinton's Quarter Courthouse site at Clayton June 28; at
the Governor Benjamin Willilams birthplace site east of
Smithfield on July 6; at the Catch-Me-Eye explosion site
in Selma July 20.
The federal Freedmen's Bureau was established by
Congress in 1865 to help former black slaves as well as
poor whites in the South following the Civil War.
life-long librarian will call it a day
Margaret Marshall, director of the Public
Library of Johnston County and Smithfield for 16 years,
is retiring at the end of June.
She has worked as a librarian most of her adult life, in
both academic and community settings.
READ MORE about
her and what our libary has been doing to improve its
services during her time here>
THAN 300 IN SMITHFIELD'S TRIATHLON
All told, 309
individuals and 19 teams finished Saturday's 9th
annual Three Little Pigs Triathlon. Pictured at the
start of the race inside the Smithfield Recreation and
Aquatics Center are swimmers and spectators with hands
over hearts as the National Anthem is played. After
swimming 250 yards in the pool, the athletes completed
a 14-mile bicycle ride mostly on Buffalo Road,
followed by a 5K (3.1-mile) run/jog/walk through
Community Park onto the Buffalo Creek Greenway and
today's SPORTS & RECREATION page>
"Creature of Spring Branch": what is it?
Several weeks ago Kelley Garris sent me
this photo, taken by her husband Greg, of a not-so-small
mammal near Spring Branch not far from their residence
on South Third Street.
Then, earlier this month, I saw what appeared to be the
same creature beside the same stream at the Community
Garden when no one else was around.
I sent the Garris photo to Ruffin Johnson, long-time
observer of wildlife in and around Smithfield, and he
says it's a groundhog --- a species not seen in these
parts in years gone by, but lately finding its way into
our Eastern N.C. habitat.
So, if you see it and are able to photograph it, please
share and tell us where and when you encountered the
"Creature of Spring Branch."
Street (US 70 Business) at 7th Street, Downtown Smithfield
7th Street Marketplace & The Chicken
WHAT'S COMING UP?
A rundown of upcoming civic and
cultural opportunities in our community
that we've been told about or seen publicized in other
DOWNTOWN SMITHFIELD "RHYTHM &
BREWS" this Friday (June 21) from 7:00 to
9:30 p.m. on South Third Street featuring the Peak
City Band. Free admission. Beer will be sold.
LEAGUE GALA this Saturday (June
22) to benefit the Smithfield Rescue Mission's
"Blessing Baskets" program for needy families. The
event begins at 7 p.m. at The Farm at 95. Tickets
are $65 each and include an open beer and wine
bar. For more information and to purchase tickets,
MUSIC FOR THE LUNCH BUNCH SERIES continues
next Wednesday (June 26) at 12:15 p.m. at Smithfield's
First Presbyterian Church with a performance by
pianist Ella Ann Holding of Smithfield. View the full series schedule>
SMITHFIELD INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION Sunday,
June 30 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on South Third
Street with music, food trucks, and fireworks.
MY KID'S CLUB SUMMER CAMP
July 8-19 at South Smithfield Elementary School. It's
open to the first 50 kids ages 6-12 who submit an
application from a child's teacher, the office at
South Smithfield School, or by contacting Mamie Moore,
director of operations for My Kid's Club: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or