Johnston County Board
of Commissioners

report from April 1 sessions

Commissioners present: Chairman Ted Godwin, Tony Braswell, Jeff Carver,
Patrick Harris, Butch Lawter, Chad Stewart, Larry Wood
Absent: None

County agrees to underwrite purchase

of park site in Cleveland Township

After rejecting a proposal for a special tax district last month, Johnston's commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a plan to help the Cleveland Community Parks and Recreation Association acquire 82 acres near the intersection of Matthews and Polenta roads for development of a public park.

The county will provide $185,000 from its Recreation and Open Space Fund:
• $100,000 to begin construction on 12 acres to be donated.
• $85,000 to cover one year's interest on a $1.7-million loan to purchase the remaining 70 acres.

The Open Space money will come from assessments already collected from real-estate developers in fast-growing Cleveland Township.

That was one of several options presented to commissioners Monday by Denton Lee on behalf of the Cleveland association, which previously had secured an option to purchase the site in hopes that a recreation tax district could be established to buy the land and construct a park there. The commissioners nixed the tax-district idea following a couple of informal public hearings where Cleveland residents were evenly split, for and against.

Mr. Lee told the board on Monday that portions of the 12 acres to be developed immediately could be ready for use as "practice fields" this fall. "This is an incredible tract of land (for a park) in the center of our community," he said.

County urged to make recycling

a money maker, not an expense

Mike Buzard, owner of a local commercial recycler of beverage bottles and cans, urged County Commissioners to look into separating recyclable materials that could be sold for revenue rather than paying companies to haul away such stuff unsorted.

He said the Carolinas Recycling Association recently rated Johnston County 78th out of North Carolina's 100 counties in terms of cost-effective recycling programs.

"A lot of big business nowadays is anti-landfill," Mr. Buzard said. If Johnston doesn't join the "green" movement, it may find itself selling "single-stream recycling" loads to other counties that are equipped to sort through it, he warned.

Mr. Buzard suggested using prison labor to sort recycled materials into "clean" categories that could be sold on the open market whenever prices are favorable.

"With the right machinery and the right plan, you can make money," he said.

His company, Beverage Destruction Services, is based off Wal-Pat Road in Smithfield. Started in 2016, it presently employs 22 and plans to hire additional workers soon. It collects glass, plastic, and metal containers filled with beverages that have "expired," empties them, and then finds buyers for what's left.

Commissioner Tony Braswell said Rick Proctor, the county's director of solid waste services, ought to look into Mr. Buzard's suggestions and "give us a report."


Tax Administrator Jocelyn Andrews reported to commissioners the Tax Office has handled 4,369 informal appeals of property revaluations issued to taxpayers at the beginning of the year. The next phase involves formal appeals before the county's Board of Equalization and Review (April 25 is the deadline to file for hearings before that board). As of 8 a.m. Monday, 49 requests for formal appeals had been received, Ms. Andrews noted.


Commissioners appointed or reappointed the following persons to boards that oversee fire departments in districts throughout Johnston:
Bentonville --- Anthony Wayne Westbrook, Christopher Scott Lee, Lewis Brian Lee.
Brogden --- Chadwick B. Ward, Allan Daughtry, Melton A. Thompson.
Claytex --- Jimmy D. McLaurin Jr., Mark Morris, Robert Brian Maynard.
50-210 --- Andy Mack Penny, Mark Knox, Sidney E. Sauls.
PI-LE --- Eddie Hales, Rex M. Braswell, Jackie Wood.
Shoeheel --- Roger Johnson, Larry C. Hodge.
Smithfield --- Jimmy B. Wood Jr., Ashley Spain.
Thanksgiving --- Gary Price, Raymond King, Eleanor Wrenn.
West Johnston --- Jimmy Wilkins, Travis Parrish, Timothy Godwin.
Selma --- Thomas E. White, John Talton.
Beulah --- Eric Boyette.
Nahunta --- Janelle Fiamingo.
Wilson's Mills --- William David Coman.


Ken Starling, chairman of the Johnston County Airport Authority, told commissioners the airport will get more than $8 million in recently awarded state and federal grants to make various infrastructure improvements at Johnston Regional Airport northwest of Smithfield. While $6 million of that will require no local match, the remaining $2 million will need a match of $200,000 (10 percent) from the county. Phil Lanier, the airport's manager, said a recent study shows Johnston's facility helps sustain 820 jobs, $39 million in personal income, and produces $5.2 million in annual state and local tax revenue.


Marie Watson, executive director of Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action, gave a rundown of services provided by the regional anti-poverty agency established here 53 years ago, in 1966. Its Head Start program serves 333 pre-school children in Johnston and its "crisis intervention" program this past year helped 2,200 residents "keep the lights on" or avoid eviction from their homes. The agency offers "weatherization" assistance to homeowners, provides help to homeless persons, and has a new "Healthy Home" program in cooperation with Blue Cross Blue Shield that provides items like new carpet and "grab bars" to make homes safer. "We are very committed to helping low-income families," said Ms. Watson, who has directed Community Action's work since 1987.


Commissioners adopted a resolution requested by the county's Veterans Service Office honoring the American Legion on the 100th anniversary of its establishment by an act of Congress following World War I in 1919. The resolution notes that the present-day American Legion in Johnston County has 1,294 registered members in nine active posts. Those are based in Smithfield (2), Clayton (2), Benson, Four Oaks, Kenly, Pine Level, and Selma.


Commissioners adopted a "Resolution of Honor" for Carl Edward Lamm, "known as America's longest continuous radio broadcaster" who retired from his family's radio station WTSB March 29 after 72 years on the air. A member of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame, Mr. Lamm was thanked for "dedicating his life and career to serving his community," including his "Rotary Radio Day" program aired on his previous station, WMPM, that raised $350,000 for local charities over the years. (Since his retirement, WTSB has been leased to another operator; WMPM went off the air earlier this year.)


Commissioners approved proclamations for:
The Week of the Young Child, April  8-12, requested by the Partnership for Children of Johnston County.
National Public Safety Communicator's Week, April 14-20, requested by the county's 911-Communications department.
Spring Litter Sweep, April 13-27, requested by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Older Americans Month, May, requested by Johnston County Community & Senior Services.
Child Abuse Prevention Month, May, requested by the county's Department of Social Services.
Portofino Derby Classic Day, May 4, requested by the Johnston Health Foundation.


Commissioners approved the addition of five streets in Crystal Creek subdivision in Smithfield Township to the state's road system for maintenance by NCDOT.

To read the board clerk's summary of Monday's sessions, go here>