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PUBLISHED ONLINE OCTOBER 20, 2022   •   VOL. 4, NO. 41

Stories and photos by WINGATE LASSITER unless credited otherwise
(Click on highlighted link to e-mail the editor)
 


Voting has begun; here's info on candidates

Early voting in this fall's General Election began in Johnston County today (Thursday) and continues through the Saturday before Election Day November 8. Folks already voting have likely made up their minds about which candidates to support. For those of you still uncertain about your choices, take a look at a rundown of candidates in races of local interest on this edition's FEATURE PAGE>

 

Town fires Johnson for "detrimental conduct"

Following an "internal investigation" initiated three months ago by the Smithfield Police Department regarding Detective Ronald Johnson's professional behavior, Town Manager Mike Scott advised him in a letter last Friday that his employment with the town has been terminated.

Mr. Johnson had been on unpaid leave since mid-July. Mr. Scott said in his letter that Mr. Johnson would receive pay through October 14, the date of his termination.

The town manager's letter cites "detrimental personal conduct" in addition to wrongful administration of a "no contact" order with an unnamed individual and improper use of Police Department equipment, including a computer, "for non-police matters" as reasons for Mr. Johnson's dismissal.

The town manager's letter indicates that recent revelations about Mr. Johnson's inappropriate texting during meetings of the Johnston County Board of Education was a contributing factor in his firing by the town. Mr. Johnson has been a member of the school board since 2016. The rest of the board on two occasions recently voted to censure him for violating several board policies and asked the District Attorney to initiate proceedings to remove him from office.

DA Susan Doyle announced this week that she has a requested "a thorough and complete investigation to be conducted to determine if further actions are warranted against Mr. Johnson."

A 17-year veteran of the Smithfield Police Department, Mr. Johnson has a right to appeal the town manager's decision to fire him.

VIEW the full text of Mr. Scott's letter terminating Mr. Johnson's employment>

 



Acreage to be purchased is about half of the property outlined in red.
 

County OKs purchase of site for a new high school

Johnston's County Commissioners Monday evening gave the go-ahead for the county's Board of Education to pay $2.7 million for a 90-acre tract on the east side of Wilson's Mills that's big enough for a new high school and possibly a new middle school as well. Located beside Talton Farm Road near the county's water-treatment plant on the Neuse River, the acreage is owned by KAT Properties of Johnston County, LLC and Iris T. Atkins.

A new high school in that vicinity is one of the projects to be funded by the proposed $177-million bond issue before Johnston's voters in this fall's election. School officials have said the new campus could bring relief to six attendance districts where high schools are at or near capacity: Smithfield-Selma, Corinth-Holders, Clayton, Cleveland, South Johnston, and North Johnston.

Monday's resolution approving the purchase says the County Commissioners and the Board of Education "agree to collaboratively review the site for opportunities for parks, open spaces, (and) greenways."



Commissioners OK $8-million transfer for school projects

The Board of Education had adopted a resolution in late June approving the transfer but the County Commissioners delayed concurrence until an agreement was recently reached to move that money out of the school system's 2022-23 Current Expense budget rather than its General Fund Balance as initially proposed.

That cuts the schools' Current Expense budget from $85,573,000 to $77,573,000 with the understanding that the newly created shortfall can be covered by a subsequent transfer from the school's General Fund Balance if the Board of Education chooses to do so.

Before approving the $8-million transfer Monday, commissioners were given a list of projects to be done with that money, including $935,000 to replace tennis courts at Smithfield-Selma High School, $130,000 to share with the Town of Smithfield the cost of replacing two boilers at the jointly operated Recreation and Aquatics Center, $550,000 to replace playground equipment at several schools including West Smithfield Elementary, and numerous district-wide expenses involving ADA compliance issues, athletic equipment maintenance, and classroom furniture.

VIEW the complete list of projects as provided to the County Commissioners>

READ the board clerk's summary of all matters addressed at Monday's session>
 





JOCO WORKS: 8th-graders learn about local careers

More than 3,000 eighth-graders from all of Johnston County's public schools attended JOCO WORKS 2022 – held on the campus of Johnston Community College for two days last week where students had the opportunity to connect with more than 40 local industries. JOCO WORKS is a collaborative effort among the county's school system (JCPS), JCCollege, the Triangle East Chamber of Commerce as well as chambers at Benson and Clayton, government agencies, and various business leaders to meet the future needs of Johnston County's workforce. In the photo above, students observe an industrial robot in action provided by Novo Nordisk, the event's "presenting sponsor." (Screenshot from JCPS highlight video)
 

JCC Truck Driver Training School gets grant for expansion

The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded $443,000 to the Johnston Community College Foundation to allow JCC to purchase two trucks and a simulator for expansion of the college’s Truck Driver Training School from 185 students to 241. The funding will also allow enrollment of 30 incumbent workers in new continuing education courses and 20 high-school students through the Career and College Promise program.

Established in 1999, the Golden Leaf Foundation is a non-profit organization that distributes a portion of North Carolina's funding from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. Visit www.goldenleaf.org to learn more.

 



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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS REPORT

Smithfield-Selma wins Homecoming game 42-8

The Spartans overwhelmed Southern Wayne to remain undefeated at 8-0 overall and 5-0 in Quad County 3-A Conference games, setting up a showdown of unbeaten teams this Friday versus conference foe C.B. Aycock High at Pikeville.

Once again, SSS built its margin of victory on a running attack that amassed 334 total yards. Senior Gerard Sanders had 217 of those on 20 carries, including a touchdown run. Sophomore Devyn Grant ran for two TDs, sophomore Julian Dobbin one, and senior quarterback John Renfrow for another. Junior Isaiah Dawson scored a touchdown on one of two pass interceptions he made.

On defense, Devyn Grant made 13 tackles while senior Michael Thompson Jr. had 12. Senior Jalill Howell and junior Jayden Brinkley had nine tackles apiece; senior Kaseem Darden had eight.

Heading into Friday's showdown, it appears SSS and Aycock are evenly matched. The Spartans have scored a total of 125 points and given up 57 against their five conference opponents to date. Aycock has scored 128 and allowed 95 in its five league contests.

Only two games remain in the regular season. After this week's game at Aycock High, the Spartans are at home October 28 versus East Wake, which has just one win this fall.

 

Last week's football scores for other Johnston County schools
Clayton (5-3)                50
Corinth Holders (2-6)     6
Cleveland (8-0)            54
Southeast Raleigh         0
West Johnston (4-4)   21
C.B. Aycock                29
South Johnston (4-4)   14
Wilson Hunt                 42
North Johnston (3-5)   14
Goldsboro                     7
Princeton (7-1)           63
Spring Creek               0


Spartans' soccer team No. 3 in conference matches

Smithfield-Selma High's boys soccer team stands in third place in the Quad County 3-A Conference with a 6-4-2 league record following Monday's 2-0 win over West Johnston and Wednesday's 1-0 loss at Southern Wayne. The Spartans' overall record is 6-10-4. The regular season wraps up with matches at home Monday versus C.B. Aycock, at East Wake on Wednesday.

The SSS girls volleyball team finished the season with an overall record of 7-16 with a 3-0 win at East Wake last Thursday followed by a 3-0 conference tournament loss versus West Johnston on Monday.


Neuse Charter volleyball No. 1 in at 10-0 in league play

The girls volleyball team finished the season with an unblemished 10-0 record in the Carolina 1-A Conference, defeating Union High last Thursday in the finale. The Cougars' overall record is 18-3.

The boys soccer team finished the regular season with two wins this week: 8-5 over Lakewood on Monday and 4-3 over Union High on Wednesday. That leaves the Cougars with an overall record of 8-8, 4-6 in conference play.

 



 

WHAT'S COMING UP?

Friends of the Library Book Sale this Friday-Saturday

The sale of discarded books at the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield opens at 9:15 a.m. both days and closes at 5 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. A $10 "bag sale" will wind up the event starting at 1 p.m. Saturday.
 

SSS hosting Craft and Vendor Fair fund-raiser Saturday

This year's theme for the event at Smithfield-Selma High School is "A Home for Three Holidays." It continues from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. Saturday with more than 30 crafters and vendors offering home-decor items as well as soaps, jewelry, clothes and accessories, beauty products, cooking supplies, candies, and baked foods. Admission is free, even though it's a fund-raiser for the school's IB Denmark Student Exchange Program, with raffle tickets to be sold for various prizes.

Heritage Center's 18th Ghost Walk next Thursday the 27th

The Johnston County Heritage Center will stage its 18th annual Ghost Walk on Thursday, October 27 in Smithfield’s historic Riverside Cemetery, beginning at 6 p.m. Visitors will be greeted at the corner of Second and Church streets beside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where they will begin guided tours through the cemetery. Six characters from Johnston County’s past will be portrayed: John O’Neal, a Colonial pioneer settler who led an unsuccessful insurrection; Phereby Thomson, wife of two of Smithfield’s most prominent men of the early 19th Century; William A. Smith, a planter-politician who was a pro-Union leader during the Civil War; Martin Luther Wilson, long-time principal of Richard B. Harrison High School; Elreta Melton Alexander, a Smithfield native who became North Carolina’s first African-American female attorney and judge; and civil engineer William Ragsdale, whose discovery of unusual flora and fauna in northern Johnston County resulted in today's Flower Hill Nature Preserve. Admission charge is $5 for adults and $3 for students, payable at the event. No advance tickets will be sold.
 



DEATHS & FUNERALS

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

MARGARET ANN POLLOCK 67 – died October 18

CHARLES WILBERT LAMM, 69 – died October 16

GLADYS BUTLER PRINCE, 94 – died October 15

MARY ANN (TINK) MORRIS, 87 – died October 14

JOSEPH (JOE) RANCE TYNER, 83 – died October 14

MARVIN LEE (MARK) MOYE, 73 – died October 12

 



A WORD (OR TWO) FROM THE EDITOR

National praise for Smithfield's embattled river!

Local Facebook pages this week brought news that our Neuse has been named "River of the Year" by American Rivers, a "river conservation organization" headquartered in Washington, D.C. that claims "300,000 supporters, members, and volunteers across the county."

Here's what American Rivers says in its introduction to an extensive narrative (with photos) explaining why the Neuse is now being honored:

The Neuse has seen major progress in recent decades, with cleanup efforts improving water quality and restoration efforts improving habitat for wildlife and access for fishing and boating. The river’s rebounding health has benefited wildlife and people alike, and as the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, the Neuse illustrates how positive steps for clean water benefit both the environment and economy....

VIEW the rest of the organization's Neuse River story>


Our town wouldn't be here today if John Smith hadn't established a commercial ferry crossing at this place in Colonial times. A half-century ago the seemingly dirty Neuse was mostly ignored by townspeople; today, thanks to its greenway walk and ongoing beatification efforts, it's a place of community pride....


Screenshot from County of Johnston video posted on Facebook shows the Neuse as it passes through the heart of Smithfield. The Legion Hut on the Town Commons is seen at the bottom, just below the Market Street bridge. Midway through this northward view, barely visible in the distance, is the Front Street boat ramp.
 



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