Stories and photos by WINGATE LASSITER unless credited otherwise
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There's a whole lot of building going on...

And it's much more than the huge Amazon distribution center presently under construction beside US 70 Business West (shown above in this County of Johnston aerial shot taken two weeks ago).

For Smithfield and vicinity, it's a mixture of large government facilities and commercial buildings going up, including the Johnston County Detention and Public Safety complex on US. 70 Business East, Johnston Community College's new School of Engineering, and yet another multi-story hotel off Outlet Center Drive.

On the residential side are several significant subdivisions taking shape, with more on the drawing board. In addition, new houses are popping up here and there in neighborhoods old and young throughout the town.

PHOTOS of some of the highlights are on today's FEATURE PAGE>




Numbers indicate we've passed another peak

That appears to be the consensus from the front lines of the medical community statewide. For Johnston County this past week, hospitalizations and new cases reported are both down from recent peaks, although deaths continue to mount while numbers getting fully vaccinated continue to trail state and national levels.

This week's report from the school system on COVID-19 infections (posted Thursday morning) shows 90 active cases among students and staff (down from 163 last week) with 437 students and 32 staff members quarantined (a week ago 665 students and 52 staff were quarantined).

Schools with the most students in quarantine (Thursday morning): Benson Middle 24, Four Oaks Elementary 20, Corinth Holders High and Polenta Elementary with 19 apiece. Locally, Selma Elementary reported 14 (down from 25 last week), Smithfield Middle 11 (unchanged), South Smithfield Elementary 10 (down from 20), Wilson's Mills Elementary 9 (up from 6), Smithfield-Selma High 8 (down from 16), and West Smithfield Elementary 6 (up from 2).

On the vaccination front, the Johnstonian News reported this week that at least 11 employees of Johnston Health have left their jobs rather than get COVID shots as required by UNC Health Care. Johnston Health has 1,850 full-time and part-time employees at its hospitals in Smithfield and Clayton plus supporting medical clinics.

The Johnston County Public Health Department is holding a Pfizer vaccine drive-thru clinic today (Thursday) at the BrightLeaf Flea Market on US 301 South until 2 p.m. First, second, and booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine only are offered free of charge. Last week the CDC's Independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that elderly and other at-risk persons get a booster shot at least six months after receiving the second of two primary doses.

Meanwhile, JCATS (Johnston County's public-transit system) continues to offer free rides to vaccination clinics. More than 200 Johnstonians have taken advantage of that state-provided service so far, reports Neal Davis, director of Community & Senior Services of Johnston County. READ MORE on the JCATS website>

VIEW the current list of vaccination clinics in Johnston County>

VIEW the current list of COVID testing sites in Johnston County>


Case total
since 3-20 
(last week)
since 3-20 
(last week)

(last week) 

(last week)
94,796: 45%*
(93,185: 45%)
5,564,973: 53%*
(5,491,901: 52%*)
UNITED STATES 43,356,406
  184,335,263: 56%
(182,012,343: 55%)
WORLDWIDE 233,378,202
total doses given
* Percentage of total population (all ages)
Data provided by: County of Johnston at 5:00 p.m. September 28
N.C. Department of Health and Human Services at 11:55 a.m. September 29
Johns Hopkins University at 9:21 a.m. September 30

August unemployment rate here down to 3.9%

The N.C. Department of Commerce reports Johnston County's unemployment rate declined from 4.1% in July to 3.9% in August as the number of Johnstonians with jobs rose slightly from 97,935 to 97,979 while the number looking for work dropped from 4,156 to 3,958. A year ago, Johnston's jobless rate was 6.0%. The statewide rate last month was 4.4%. Rates in surrounding counties: Wake 3.7%, Sampson 4.3%, Franklin 4.4%, Wayne 4.7%, Harnett 5.0%, Nash 5.8%, Wilson 6.4%.

Andrea Guzman-Hernandez was crowned Homecoming Queen by last year's queen, Kiara Smith, during halftime of Friday's football game at Smithfield-Selma High School. Senior football player George Brewer was named Homecoming King. 

Spartans' Homecoming spoiled by Hunt, 35-0

Following a competitive first half that left Smithfield-Selma trailing 7-0, Wilson County's Hunt High Warriors came back to score four second-half touchdowns to spoil the Spartans' well-attended Homecoming game.

The loss puts the Spartans' season record at 2-3, including two losses without a win in Quad County 3A Conference matchups.

Next up for SSS is a trip to Wilson to face conference-foe Fike High at 7 p.m. Friday. Here's an overview of the Spartans' season from MaxPreps>

Spartans' soccer boys raise their record to 7-3-1

SSS is in second place in the Quad County 3A Conference following a 3-2 victory over Southern Wayne on Monday. The Spartans are 3-1 in conference matches. Wilson Fike is undefeated at 4-0. MaxPreps has an overview of the SSS season>



School board to meet Friday on policy amendment

Notice of the special meeting went out Wednesday morning. Its sole purpose is "to discuss and take action on a Policy 5100 amendment." That policy has been amended twice recently in response to County Commissioner Fred Smith's insistence that local funding for Johnston's public schools be frozen until the school board adopts a policy specifically banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory. Friday's meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. as a virtual session with board members participating by means of remote electronic devices. It will be live-streamed at

Season's final Third StrEATery Downtown this Friday

The last of this season's Third StrEATery outdoor-dining events continues from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday on the 100 block of South Third Street. The Legacy Motown Revue will provide the musical entertainment for diners who choose to take out meals from nearby restaurants and eat at tables set up on the street. There's no charge for admission to the dining area.

West Smithfield's drone field officially opens Saturday

The Town of Smithfield will host a ribbon-cutting at 12:30 p.m. followed by drone-flying demonstrations from 1 to 3 p.m. at its newly fenced field at Gertrude Johnson Park beside US 70 Business West. "Bring your drones and fly with us!" reads a flyer promoting the event. "Licensed drone flyers (will be on hand) to assist you if you've never flown a drone."

County Commissioners to consider school funding Monday

That contentious item is listed on the agenda for the board's 6 p.m. session at the Courthouse following public hearings on five rezoning requests involving properties in Elevation, Pleasant Grove, Wilson's Mills, and Clayton townships. Back in June commissioners put off a decision on county funding for Johnston's public schools this fiscal year until the state's budget is settled and the school board addresses Critical Race Theory to their satisfaction. VIEW the full 6 p.m. agenda>

The agenda for the commissioners' 10 a.m. session on Monday includes updates on COVID-19, the county's Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and a study of the county's solid-waste disposal service. VIEW the full 10 a.m. agenda>

Town Council to get more West Smithfield requests Tuesday

On the agenda for the 7 p.m. session at Town Hall:
• Amending the town's application for a federal grant to upgrade sewer infrastructure in West Smithfield to increase the town's contribution toward the $3.8-million project from $760,000 to $950,000. It's related to job creation by the coming of Amazon.
• Second consideration of conditional zoning requested for a proposed subdivision with 143 residential units on 31.56 acres on the north side of NC. 210 west of Skyland Drive in West Smithfield.
• Public hearing on yet another West Smithfield conditional zoning request for a proposed subdivision with 70 residential units on the northeast side of West Market Street southeast of its intersection with Britt Street.
• A staff request to amend the town's utility policy to retain deposits from new customers for the life of the account. Presently, the town refunds deposits after 12 consecutive months of timely payments for residential customers, 24 months for commercial accounts. VIEW the complete agenda for Tuesday's meeting>


For sale: highly visible
commercial property

Former Jewel Box store on its own lot at 1699 East Booker Dairy Road, Smithfield with more than 30 parking spaces. Price reduced to $569,000.

Fonville Morisey Realty   •   919-669-9235   •


Click on the name to read an obituary, usually posted by the funeral home

GLORIA SHERRON EARP, 81 – died September 26

PATRICIA ANNE JOHNSON WATSON, 68 – died September 25

JOSEPH GLENN AYCOCK JR., 77 – died September 24

JOHNNY FRANKLIN YOUNG, 89 – died September 23



On vaccination resistance and masks in schools

Here are opinions submitted by a couple of Sun readers, both with Smithfield addresses:

I am totally shocked that Johnston County has only a 45% rate of residents who are fully vaccinated (against COVID). It is time to get the flu shot. Do you think this rate will be only 45%? Please people, take the vaccine.

At the September 14 school board meeting, a group decided to push the "no mask" issue. I suspect that many of them are "making the rounds" on this protest (when you have a stand to sell hot dogs, it’s certainly not spontaneous). How many of those protestors live/work in Johnston County? Do they just follow Madison Cawthorn around?

Our school board needs to demand that all speakers on this issue be Johnston County folks, not semi-professional agitators. They also need to get and rely on SCIENTIFIC  evidence about COVID, which shows that masks help to slow the spread. Stop making the COVID vaccines and mask wearing a political issue and treat it like the health issue it is.

Polio is no longer found in the US because all of us were lined up in the cafeteria at school for the Salk polio shots (and again a few years later for the Sabin vaccine).  There are several generations without a smallpox scar because of mandatory vaccines. (And, by the way, George Washington mandated that vaccine for his troops in 1777).

A modest proposal:  if you don’t want your child to wear a mask while in school and on the bus, pull them out and home-school them – at your own expense! That way, they aren’t exposed to any ideas you don’t personally agree with.


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