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School board addresses several items
related to recent mismanagement charges

The Johnston County Board of Education at Tuesday's monthly meeting addressed several items related to administrative problems brought to light in recent months:

• The board was told that school officials would be meeting "later this week" with representatives of a firm under consideration to conduct a so-called "wellness audit" of school-system finances. This comes in the aftermath of a severe funding shortfall brought to light last fall, eased by last week's commitment by the County Commissioners to make additional appropriations over the next several months.

• The board agreed to review a contract with Cenergistics, a company employed by the school system several years ago to manage energy consumption for cost savings. Kay Carroll, a former school board chairman and presently one of 16 candidates for four seats on the board, says Cenergistics has taken credit for cost savings not of its making (his complaint was posted last week on the JoCo Report).

• An ad hoc committee recommended by Mike Wooten, chairman of the board's Finance Committee, will review the school system's annual expense for "legal services" to identify "where we can save money."

• The board adopted, despite a vote of "no" from Ronald Johnson, a new policy on the "Role of Board Members in Handling Complaints." Over the past several months Mr. Johnson has made public complaints from school employees about their treatment by superiors.

• The board received, without comment, revised policies on "Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying" to be adopted at next month's meeting. This follows recent allegations of sexual harassment involving unnamed school employees.

MORE about those items and other matters addressed at Tuesday's meeting>

More details under "What's Coming Up?" below....

7th Street  Marketplace &  The Chicken  Barn
Market Street (US 70 Business) at 7th Street, Downtown Smithfield

Not a record-setting rainfall, but enough
to produce river flooding and sewage spills

Several flooded sections of the Neuse Riverwalk / Buffalo Creek Greenway and a couple of sewage spills resulted from last weekend's rainfall in the region. The National Weather recording station at Johnston Regional Airport registered just over 4 inches of rainfall overnight Thursday. Similar amounts were registered around Raleigh, the origin of much of the Neuse's flow here.

As a result, the river at Smithfield rose to a level of 21.26 Saturday afternoon, inundating several sections of the greenway trail closest to the river as well as portions along Buffalo Creek upstream. Normally, the river at Smithfield measures about 5 feet in depth.

The Town of Smithfield reported two spills from its "sanitary sewer outfall" lines overnight Thursday --- about 13,000 gallons behind 302 Sunset Avenue in West Smithfield; about 7,000 gallons at Lee and West streets in East Smithfield.

Both spills were brought to the town's attention around 2 a.m. Friday. At the West Smithfield site, town employees "cleaned up the spill with machines and applied pelletized lime and wheat straw to the spill site," the town reported. At the East Smithfield site, "large amounts of water were flushed downstream and lime spread to contain the problem."

Here's a view of the Town Commons amphitheater and the inundated Riverwalk
behind it at the peak of last weekend's Neuse River flooding at Smithfield. Saturday's high-water mark was about 7 1/2 feet below the all-time record set by Hurricane Matthew's flood in 2016.
VIEW real-time river-depth readings and projections for Smithfield>



A national "Women's Choice Award"
goes to Johnston Health at Smithfield

Johnston Health's Smithfield hospital has been named "one of America's Best Hospitals for Outpatient Experience" by the Women's Choice Award, a national health-care rating service that operates in the private sector.

"Johnston Health is one of 294 award recipients representing the hospitals that have met the highest standards for outpatient experience in the U.S.," states a news release from Johnston Health.

"The methodology used to select Johnston Health evaluates patient satisfaction measures with a hospital visit based on the criteria in the Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Survey," according to the news release. "The evaluation process is the only national list that focuses on the opinion of women. It is the only award recognizing excellence in outpatient satisfaction based on robust criteria that considers the patient experience and clinical excellence."

The Women's Choice Award website reports that Johnston Health's "Patient Recommendation" score was 75%. "Patient Experience" ratings for particular services included "very good" for nurse communications, staff responsiveness, communications about medications, and cleanliness of room and bathroom.

The hospital was rated "average" for "effectiveness of care (national comparison)" and "below average" for doctor communications and recovery information.

MORE about the Women's Choice Award for North Carolina's hospitals>

Attorney at Law
106 South Third Street

Chamber announces annual awards;
Emery Ashley a "Distinguished Citizen"

The Triangle East Chamber of Commerce has announced recipients of awards to be presented at its annual banquet Feb. 21.

Emery Ashley, shown here receiving a ceremonial "key to the city" upon his retirement in December from the Town Council after eight years of service, will receive Smithfield's "Distinguished Citizen" award.

Sol Halliburton, director of the Johnston Health Foundation, will receive the Chamber's "Citizen of the Year" award.

MORE about the awards and the upcoming annual banquet on the Chamber's website>

Presidents Day a limited Monday holiday

Federal agencies, the Post Office, and banks will be closed next Monday (Feb. 17) in observance of Presidents Day. But it's not a North Carolina holiday, which means state and local offices and services as well as public schools will operate as usual.

Originally established by Congress in 1885 to commemorate the late President George Washington's birthday, the observance
was renamed "Presidents Day" as part of the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act enacted to create more three-day weekends for American workers. The current holiday falls between Washington's birthday on February 22 and the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln on February 12 --- the two men most associated with the present-day observance.



This Saturday (Feb. 15) at 3 p.m., beginning at the corner of Market and Sixth streets in Downtown Smithfield and proceeding westward to Second Street. The Johnston County Branch of the NAACP is hosting the event, which it says will include marching bands, youth groups, and representatives of various civic organizations and churches.

Next Wednesday (Feb. 19) at 7 p.m. at the Johnston County Agricultural Center on NC 210 west of Smithfield. Hosted by the Junior Women's League of Smithfield, the forum will begin with an hour-long question-and-answer session followed by a reception for the public to speak with the candidates. WRAL-TV "anchor" Gerald Owens will serve as forum moderator. Questions for the candidates must be submitted in advance no later than Monday (Feb. 17) through this link>

Next Thursday (Feb. 20) at 6:30 p.m. in the second-floor meeting room of the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield. Michael Spencer of Common Cause North Carolina will talk about "The Fight to Vote: Re-examining Racism," followed by questions from the audience. The Johnston County Heritage Center's Black History Month program is open to the public without admission charge. Light refreshments will be served.