Stories and photos by WINGATE LASSITER unless credited otherwise
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Centennial for the Johnston County Courthouse

Present-day edifice was dedicated 100 years ago this week

Here's a view of the Second Street facade of the 100-year-old Courthouse along with the glassed atrium linking it to the large "annex" that was added in 1989. In recent times the atrium doorway has taken over as the main entrance to both the old and new buildings, even though the original front faces Market Street. More about the September 26, 1922 dedication event plus 176 years of Johnston County courthouse history on this week's FEATURE PAGE>

Town to get a little more state aid for street work

The Town of Smithfield's allocation of state Powell Bill funds for street repairs is up from last year's $301,166 to a 2022 distribution of $359,021, the N.C. Department of Transportation announced this week. Half of that money will be sent to Smithfield next month, the balance to arrive before January 1.

Even so, it may be some time before meaningful results are evident. "We will likely make some small repairs around town yet this fiscal year for areas that need it, but an actual street resurfacing project will not occur again until after the beginning of FY '24," Town Manager Mike Scott told the Weekly Sun. "That award will likely be for about $300,000." (FY '24 is the town's fiscal year that starts next July 1 and runs through June 30, 2024.)

The town's most recent resurfacing work came from a $183,640 contract awarded by the Town Council June 27 covering eight sections of half a dozen residential streets.

The state's formula for distributing Powell Bill funds – set up by legislation adopted by the N.C. General Assembly in 1951 – allocates 75% of a municipality's share based on population and 25% on locally maintained street mileage. The Town of Smithfield is responsible for taking care of 62.71 miles. The state's latest population estimate for Smithfield is 11,710.


Slight decline in employment = 3.5% jobless rate

The number of Johnstonians holding jobs fell from 104,433 in July to 103,215 in August while the number filing for unemployment benefits rose from 3,546 to 3,720, according to the latest report from the N.C. Department of Commerce. That raised the county's jobless rate from 3.3% in July to 3.5% in August (the statewide rate rose to 3.9% last month). Johnston's unemployment rate in August 2021 was 4.3%.

VIEW the state's August report covering all of North Carolina's counties>

Adam Carroll (standing) and Ben Armstrong have teamed up as the County of Johnston's Public Information Office that's already gaining recognition for its work since last year's startup.

County's young media team wins a national award

It's for a video highlighting the Johnston County Heritage Center, and it comes from the national City-County Communications & Marketing Association. "We were notified that we received a second-place award at the 3CMA conference in Portland, Oregon" earlier this month, Adam Carroll, the county's public information director, told the Weekly Sun.

We won a Silver Circle Award in the category of Marketing & Tools – Best Use of a Promotional Item for the Heritage Center video," he said, pointing out that Johnston's office was "competing against hundreds of other counties and municipalities across the country" with populations above 150,000.

"Ben and I both directed, produced, filmed, and edited the video in-house and it took us about two months to complete the video from start to finish," Mr. Carroll said.

Ben Armstrong was employed last September to assist Mr. Carroll, who was hired as the county's first full-time public information director in June of last year. The two have similar backgrounds in video production that included work with East Wake TV, a media contractor for several nearby small towns. Before that, Mr. Carroll worked in production at WRAL-TV.

"We want to especially thank Todd Johnson, the Heritage Center director, for being an exceptional co-worker to collaborate with," Mr. Carroll said of the award-winning contest entry. "He helped us get some great footage and interviews that were crucial in putting together one of my favorite videos we've produced since I've been here.

One of the highlights of the Heritage Center video is a project now under way to restore a structure on Smithfield's North Fourth Street that housed a Freedmen's School for African-American children during the difficult decades after the Civil War. The entire video (just five minutes long) may be viewed on the county's website>

In their office/studio on the top floor of Johnston's 100-year-old Courthouse, Adam and Ben are currently working on a video to mark the 100th anniversary of the county's Health Department in October.

"All of our county employees do an excellent job and work incredibly hard and oftentimes do not get the recognition that they deserve," Mr. Carroll said. "Our goal is to highlight every department in the county so that the public knows that our employees are working tirelessly to make Johnston County a better place."

Besides the videos produced for the county's Facebook and YouTube pages online, the two are responsible for managing the live-streaming of meetings of the County Commissioners and other official events such the county's Veterans Day observance in November.

And they've recently been working on a Crisis Communication Plan for keeping the public informed during emergencies including hurricanes as well as man-made disasters. A gallery of the county's videos may be viewed on its YouTube site>


Our signs are changing
to remind you that a new
season is headed our way.

to make sure you're ready.



SSS comeback at Hunt keeps Spartans undefeated

The final score was Smithfield-Selma 21, Wilson Hunt 17 and that wasn't achieved until the game's final minutes when sophomore Dwight Nesbitt caught a short pass on third down at the SSS 14-yard line and scampered 86 yards untouched to paydirt.

It was the first time the Spartans had been in front, trailing 14-7 at halftime no thanks to a misplayed snap on an end-zone punt and another fumble at the 1-yard line that gave the Warriors two quick and easy scores. SSS senior Gerard Sanders ran up the middle for a 62-yard touchdown in between the two Hunt TDs.

The Spartans got their second touchdown in the fourth quarter with a 50-yard drive after a punt return
for a TD was nullified because of a penalty. Quarterback John Renfrow scored on a 12-yard keeper to cut Hunt's lead to 17-13.

The game-winning touchdown by Nesbitt came with just 2:33 remaining. The Spartans added a two-point conversion to make the score 21-17, thereby requiring Hunt to come back with a touchdown rather than a field goal to have a chance to win. The SSS victory was sealed when the Warriors gave up the ball with a fumble on their final possession.

The Spartans' balanced attack included 152 yards passing and 148 on the ground, 106 of those rushing yards by Gerard Sanders. On defense, senior Michael Thompson Jr. had 15 solo tackles; senior Joshua Hightower had 10.

The win puts SSS at 5-0 overall and 2-0 in Quad County 3-A Conference play, which continues this evening (Thursday) with a weather-rescheduled contest at home against Wilson Fike.

Smithfield-Selma's Head Coach Deron Donald (pictured) has led his Spartan footballers into the Top 25 Eastern N.C. rankings by, an online sports site under the umbrella of Capitol Broadcasting Company (WRAL-TV).

Last week's football scores for other Johnston County schools
Cleveland (5-0)             28
South Garner                 7
Clayton (2-3)               49
Garner                          0
Corinth Holders (2-3)  38
Willow Spring               9
South Johnston (3-2)    37
Wilson Fike                   22
West Johnston (3-2)   42
Southern Wayne        12
Princeton (4-1)            76
Louisburg                    28
North Johnston (1-4)    16
North Pitt                      32
For more information about football and other sports
at each of our high schools, search>

SSS soccer 4-2 in conference; volleyball team 6-11 overall

The SSS boys soccer team has a 4-2 record in Quad County 3-A Conference play after a 3-2 overtime win over Southern Wayne at home on Monday and a 2-0 defeat at C.B. Aycock High on Wednesday. The Spartans' overall record is now 4-8-2.

The SSS girls volleyball team is 6-11 overall and 1-8 in conference matches after a 3-1 loss to South Johnston last Thursday, a 3-0 win over Southeast Raleigh on Monday, and a 3-0 loss to Wilson Hunt on Tuesday. The girls tennis team is still winless after 15 matches.

Neuse Charter's volleyball team 5-0 in conference play

Neuse Charter's girls volleyball team is 13-3 overall and undefeated at 5-0 in Carolina 1-A Conference matches after a 3-0 win at Lakewood last Thursday, a 3-0 win at Rosewood on Monday, and a 3-1 victory at Union on Tuesday.

The boys soccer team has a season's record of 5-5 and a conference record of 1-3 after losses at Rosewood 14-2 on Monday and Midway 4-2 on Tuesday followed by a 3-2 win over Lakewood at home on Wednesday.





Forum on bond issue at South Smithfield School Monday

The last in a series of informational sessions about the upcoming referendum on a proposed $177-million bond issue for Johnston County Public Schools is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at South Smithfield School. The referendum will be on Johnston County's ballots for the November 8 General Election.

County Board to consider industrial incentives Monday

The Johnston County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing during its 10 a.m. session Monday on a developer's request for property-tax rebates for a proposed industrial "spec" (speculative) building at the intersection of Brogden and Wal-Pat roads bedside I-95 at Smithfield. Al Neyer, a commercial real-estate firm with offices in several states, also wants the county to lease the facility for as much as $25,000 a month until an industrial occupant is recruited.
VIEW the complete agenda for the 10 a.m. session>
At the board's 6 p.m. session, commissioners will receive the draft of an updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan that's been in the making for more than a year. A draft of the state's 2024-2033 Transportation Improvement Program will also be presented. The board will conduct public hearings on three rezoning requests.
VIEW the complete agenda for the 6 p.m. session>

Town Council hearings on commercial projects Tuesday

The Smithfield Town Council will conduct public hearings shortly after the start of Tuesday's 7 p.m. monthly meeting on a developer's request for property-tax rebates for an industrial project beside Brogden Road at I-95 (details in item above) and Blueline Aviation's request for rezoning and voluntary annexation of property it wants to develop across Swift Creek Road from Johnston Regional Airport. Additional hearings are scheduled on amendments to the town's maintenance and appearance regulations for commercial buildings and a proposal to reduce the size of the town's Board of Adjustment from seven regular members to five.
VIEW the complete agenda for Tueday's council session>

Information session Wednesday on new facility for seniors

The Crossings at Smithfield – advertised as a "resort-style independent senior living community" – is nearing completion on North Smithfield's Kellie Drive across from the Landings of Smithfield, an assisted-living facility already in service by the same operator. A "Meet & Greet" information session about the new facility's offerings for adults age 55 and older is scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m. next Wednesday at the nearby Recreation & Aquatics Center beside Smithfield Community Park. For more information and to RSVP visit>


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

GRAYLON EVERETT BEASLEY, 87 – died September 26

RICHARD (RICK) DAVID HARRIS, 70 – died September 25

EDNA EARL SANDERS WHITE, 61 – died September 24

TYREE BLACKWELL, 90 – died September 23

ANNETTE CLARK, 82 – died September 22

DENNIS HOYT HILL JR., 59 – died September 19

KATHY MAE BRYAN, 70 – died September 14




2.4-acre vacant lot at 1558 W. Market Street, US 70 Business. Mostly level with 323-foot road frontage. Less than 3 miles from Johnston Regional Airport, about 5 miles from I-95: $525,000 (MLS#2447472)



Market Street's landing strip needs a slowdown

Coming into Smithfield from the northwest on US 70 Business, the posted speed limit is 45 mph (which means many motorists are likely moving closer to 55 mph). The 45-mph zone continues all the way to the Neuse River bridge, then suddenly drops to 25 as traffic lands in Downtown Smithfield.

No surprise, then, that many drivers aren't navigating safely through the heart of the business district, creating hazardous conditions for pedestrians as well as vehicles parked along Market Street.

So why not a reduction in the speed limit from 45 to 35 between 70's intersection with NC 210 and the river bridge? It's already 35 on 210 for a short stretch west of that intersection. Crazy to ask folks coming into town on 210 to slow down to 35 for a bit, speed back up to 45 for half a mile, then suddenly throttle down to 25 as they reach Downtown.

Fixing that hazard ought to be one of several steps the town and NCDOT need to take to improve traffic safety through the heart of Smithfield. Cutting down the length of the green lights along Market is another "traffic calming" measure worth pursuing. But so far there appears to be no sense of urgency among officials to do much of anything.

Traffic crosses the Neuse River bridge at 45 mph-plus as it enters Downtown Smithfield, where the posted speed limit is 25.


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