PUBLISHED ONLINE OCTOBER 27, 2022   •   VOL. 4, NO. 42

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



Susan Lassiter got this afternoon shot of resplendent trees on Rosewood Drive earlier this week when skies were as blue as they can be this time of year. And this is just the start of Smithfield's fall color explosion!


Superintendent gets 2 bonuses, contract extension

The Johnston County Board of Education has awarded Superintendent of Schools Eric Bracy performance bonuses of $5,000 and $17,000 covering the past two school years along with pay raises of either $4,752 or $5,248 for seven high-ranking administrators.

In addition, the board extended contracts with Dr. Bracy and the seven "Cabinet" members through June 2026, and it increased monthly travel allowances to $900 for the superintendent and $750 for the others. Those actions were taken during a couple of recent special sessions held by the school board.

Dr. Bracy now receives a salary of $226,904.52. The pay raises approved by the board for the seven Cabinet officers result in new salaries as follows:
• Chief Academic Officer Nicholas King – $137,448.
• Assistant Superintendent David Pearce – $137,448.
• Chief of Financial Services Stephen Britt – $137,445.60.
• Middle Schools Assistant Superintendent Kendrick Byrd – $128,916.
• Elementary Schools Assistant Superintendent Patty Whittington – $128,916.
• Chief of Human Resources Brian Vetrano – $124,908.
• Chief of Facilities and Construction Brooks Moore – $117,252.

32 additional employees of Johnston's schools get six-figure salaries:

• Chad Jewett, Principal, Thanksgiving Elementary School – $119,190.
• Linda Edmundson, Central Services Administrator – $117,908.04.
• David Hawks, Principal, North Johnston High School – $114,853.08.
• Sharon Bryant, Central Services Administrator – $110,067.96.
• Dondi Hobbs, Principal, Wilson's Mills Elementary School – $109,746.
• Tol Avery, Choice Plus Administrator – $109,572.
• Charles Ferrell, Central Services Administrator – $109,572.
• Allen Sasser, Principal, Pine Level Elementary School – $109,358.04.
• Stephen Baker, Principal, Selma Middle School – $108,645.96.
• James Parrish, Principal, Four Oaks Elementary School – $107,537.04.
• Anna Kuykendal, Central Services Administrator – $107,484.
• Jenna Sauls Hairr, Principal, Cleveland High School – $107,162.04.
• Sarah Reynolds, Principal, Corinth Holders High School – $106,662.12.
• Tracey Peedin Jones, Central Services Administrator – $106,320.
• Lisa Allen, Central Services Administrator – $105,668.04.
• Kelley Johnson, Principal, Virtual Academy – $104,692.92.
• Dorlisa Johnson-Cowart, Central Services Administrator – $104,436.
• Jennifer Swartz, Principal, West Johnston High School – $104,184.
• Robert Daniels, Principal, Early College – $103,890.12.
• Clinton Eaves, Principal, Meadow School – $103,506.96.
• Michelle Turnage, Central Services Administrator – $102,816.
• Chad McLamb, Principal, Corinth-Holders Elementary School – $102,006.96.
• Kebbler Williams, Central Services Administrator – $101,904.
• William Weaver, Principal, South Johnston High School – $101,531.04.
• Tamara Thomas, Central Services Administrator – $101,268.
• Marlon Watson, Central Services Administrator – $101,268.
• Susan Jones, Principal, South Smithfield Elementary School – $101,121.
• Carla Withrow, Central Services Administrator – $100,880.04.
• Chenetra Mangum, Principal, West View Elementary School – $100,641.
• Kristy Stephenson, Central Services Administrator – $100,636.08.
• Daisey Edmundson, Central Services Administrator – $100,032.
• Tamara Poland, Principal, Polenta Elementary School – $100,031.04.

Low-performing schools present goals to board

Three of the five Johnston County schools defined by the state as "low performing" – based on student testing this past year – are in this area: Smithfield-Selma High, South Smithfield Elementary, and West Smithfield Elementary (the other two are West Clayton Elementary and Johnston schools' Virtual Academy). Their principals presented goals for academic improvement in the year ahead and each school's plans for reaching those goals during a special session of the Johnston County Board of Education on Tuesday.

Here's a statistical summary of the three Smithfield schools' presentations:

SMITHFIELD-SELMA HIGH – David Allen, Principal
Demographics: 1,525 students with 49% Hispanic, 26% Black, 20% White;
16.2% served as Exceptional Children; 40% eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
Academic improvement goals: By the school year's end, overall proficiency in biology, English, and math combined will increase from 30.5% to at least 35.5%. Proficiency among Students With Disabilities will increase from 34.5% to 40%, among English Language Learners from 32.9% to 38%.

Demographics: 445 students with 45% Hispanic, 28% Black, 25% White;
21% served as Exceptional Children; all students receive free breakfast and lunch.
Academic improvement goals: By the school year's end, overall proficiency will increase from 37.2% to 45%. Proficiency among Students With Disabilities will increase from 8.8% to 25%, among Black students from 24.2% to 47%.

Demographics: 416 students with 55.2% Hispanic, 23.1% Black, 15.3% White;
17.7% served as Exceptional Children; all students receive free breakfast and lunch.
Academic improvement goals: By the school year's end, overall proficiency will increase from 33.3% to 41.8%. Proficiency among Black students will increase from 2.3% to 31.3%, among Students With Disabilities from 6.5% to 22.5%.

As required by state law, the Board of Education adopted the improvement plans presented by the principals. Included in those plans are beefed-up coaching of teachers by curriculum specialists, increased collaboration among school staffs regarding individual student challenges, more opportunities for parental and community interaction, employment of retired teachers as tutors using federal funds designated for recovery from academic losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and numerous other steps that vary from school to school.

VIEW the YouTube archive of Tuesday's meeting to get full details of the plans>



Cases in Johnston's schools appear to be under control

The Johnston County Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard showed 21 active cases throughout the system as of Wednesday afternoon – 13 among students, 8 among staff. Of those 21 total cases, 17 were reported at eight elementary schools, including 2 at South Smithfield and 8 at West View in Cleveland Township. No cases were reported at any of the other Smithfield-area schools.
VIEW the JCPS coronavirus dashboard, which is updated frequently>

Booster shots recommended for Johnstonians age 5-6 and older

Bivalent booster doses for Pfizer (5 years and older) and Moderna (6 years and older) are now available from the Johnston County Health Department Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If at least two months have passed since one's last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that persons age 5 and up get one updated bivalent booster to protect against the most recent COVID circulating and to assist in restoring protection that has dwindled since prior vaccinations. For more information, visit or call 919-989-5200.

Total cases
since 3-2020
(# on 9-21-22)
since 3-2020
(# on 9-21-22)
Fully vaccinated
[got new boosters]
115,322: 55%
[9,814: 5%]
6,106,332: 63%
[721,184: 11%]
UNITED STATES 97,318,833
226.6 million
WORLDWIDE 628,916,960
total doses

Sources for data shown above: county and state numbers from N.C. Department of Health and Human Services; national and worldwide statistics from Johns Hopkins University.

HOME FOR SALE IN SOUTH SMITHFIELD:  2,427 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2-car garage. 811 Baker Street (MLS# 2478008). Asking price: $410,000.

Hospitals earn five stars for heart care – again

UNC Health Johnston this week announced it is five-star rated for treatment of heart attack, according to new research released by Healthgrades, a national marketplace connecting doctors and patients.

Johnston has received a Five-Star Distinction for Treatment of Heart Attack for three years in a row, from 2021 to 2023.

Healthgrades evaluated patient mortality and complication rates for 31 common conditions and procedures at nearly 4,500 hospitals nationwide to identify the top-performing hospitals for treatment of heart attack.

This year’s analysis revealed significant variation in patient outcomes between five-star hospitals and one-star hospitals. From 2019 through 2021, if all hospitals as a group performed similarly to five-star hospitals, on average, 201,586 lives could potentially have been saved, and 160,498 patients could have avoided potential complications.

Additionally, from 2019 through 2021, patients treated for heart attack in five-star hospitals (30-day mortality) have, on average, a 45.5% lower risk of dying than if they were treated in one-star hospitals. (Story provided by UNC Health Johnston)


The Salvation Army Advisory Board's new leaders

Beginning two-year terms as leaders of the board are (left to right) Secretary Nathan Arn, President Barbara Lee, Vice President Lynn Ragsdale, and Treasurer Warren Grimes. The Smithfield Corps is headquartered at 306 North Bright Leaf Boulevard.
(Photo from The Salvation Army)


Our signs have changed
with the change in our seasons.

to make sure you're ready
for colder days coming our way!



SSS defeated by Aycock in a 7-0 defensive battle

Neither team scored a touchdown on offense, with the game's only TD coming on a "pick six" return of an intercepted pass in the second quarter of play. The Spartans had a golden opportunity to tie the game (or win it) as time was running out when C.B. Aycock fumbled and SSS recovered the pigskin just a yard shy of the end zone.

But a fourth-down pass was batted down in the closing seconds, giving Wayne County's Aycock High the victory in the battle of previously unbeaten teams. Smithfield-Selma is now 8-1 overall, 5-1 in Quad County 3-A Conference action with one regular-season game remaining – at home this Friday against East Wake High.

Offensive statistics for the game, played at Pikeville, tell the story. Neither team rushed for as much as 100 yards – Smithfield-Selma with 98 yards on 35 carries, Aycock with 91 on 30 carries. And neither team mustered an effective passing attack, with the Spartans gaining just 40 yards on five completed passes and the Golden Falcons 54 yards on four completions. Defenses forced five punts by SSS, six by Aycock.

To close out the conference season this Friday, Aycock travels to Southern Wayne, winless in league play. East Wake, the Spartans' opponent, has a conference record of two wins and four losses.

Last week's football scores for other Johnston County schools
Cleveland (9-0)             45
Garner                            0
Clayton (6-3)               63
Willow Spring               0
Corinth Holders (2-7)   20
Southeast Raleigh       28
South Johnston (4-5)    13
East Wake                    28
West Johnston (4-5)     8
Wilson Hunt                15
Princeton (8-1)             47
Beddingfield                 14
North Johnston (3-6)     8
Eastern Wayne            34
For more information about football and other sports
at each of our high schools, search>

Spartan soccer ends season with double-overtime tie

Smithfield-Selma's boys soccer team finished the season with an overall record of 6-11-5 (wins-losses-ties) and a Quad County 3-A Conference record of 6-5-3 after a 3-2 loss to C.B. Aycock on Monday and a double-overtime 1-1 tie at East Wake on Wednesday.

Neuse Charter volleyball girls advance in state playoffs

After winning the conference tournament last week for their 20th win of the season, the Cougars' volleyball girls defeated KIPP Pride of Gaston County in a state 1-A playoff opener on Saturday and Rosewood High on Tuesday. Next up is a match versus Cape Hatteras at 7 p.m. today (Thursday) at home.

The Neuse Charter boys soccer team ended the regular season with a 4-3 loss at home versus Union High on Monday. The Cougars finish with a record of 8-9 overall, 4-7 in conference play.


An assortment of illuminated spooks will greet trick-or-treaters to this North Third Street residence. Are such displays to be the norm for Halloween from now on?


Halloween in Smithfield: trick-or-treats 5-8 p.m. Monday

That's the official word from the Town of Smithfield for Halloween Night (Oct. 31). Other events of the season hosted by the town include:
Downtown Smithfield "Candy Crawl" for costumed participants 4-6 p.m. Friday.
"Boo Bash" at the Sarah Yard Community Center 4:30-6:30 p.m. this Friday.
"Trunk or Treat" at Smithfield Community Park 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Third StrEATery season finale this Friday Downtown

Featured entertainment for the Downtown Development Corporation's outdoor dining event on South Third Street is Blazin' Keys, Dueling Pianos. Patrons of nearby restaurants are invited to bring their meals outside where tables will be set up on the street that's closed to motorists. The event continues from 6 to 9 p.m.

Section of Buffalo Road closing Monday for pipe work

A contractor will close Buffalo Road north of Selma starting at 8 a.m. Monday to replace a drainage pipe, the N.C. Department of Transportation has announced. The closure will be between Live Oak Church Road and Old Buffalo Road. The road is expected to reopen by Monday, November 7.

Town Council's regular monthly meeting this Tuesday

The Smithfield Town Council will consider awarding contracts for expansion of the splash pad at Eva Ennis Park and construction of nearby trails linked to Smith-Collins Park when it holds its regular monthly session that begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall. The 2021 N.C. General Assembly appropriated state funds totaling $535,000 for the two projects. Also on Tuesday's agenda is a public hearing on an amendment to the town's development ordinances that would allow buildings as tall as 100 feet when located in a B-3 zoning district within 660 feet of I-95. Under existing rules, buildings of that height require approval of a special-use permit by the Town Council. VIEW the complete agenda for Tuesday's council session>


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

KEVIN WAYNE DRAPER, 50 – died October 25


RICHARD VAN HERSH JR., 77 – died October 23

BEULAH PEEDIN LEE, 81 – died October 21


JAMES BURTCHEL (RED) HARPER, 83 – died October 19

FREDDIE GENE HOWELL, 74 – died October 19


Absentee ballot requests due Tuesday, with an exception

Requests for absentee ballots for the November 8 General Election must be received by the Johnston County Board of Elections no later than 5 p.m. next Tuesday (November 1). No special circumstance or reason is needed to receive and vote by absentee ballot.

The completed and signed request forms may be returned to the elections office either by mail or dropped off in person. Ballots will be mailed within one to two days after receipt of the written request. (The office is located at 205 South Second Street.)

A voter who develops a sickness or a physical disability may apply or have a near relative or verifiable legal guardian request a ballot after next week's deadline so long as that's done by 5 p.m. on Monday, November 7 – one day prior to the election. For more information, call 919-989-5095 or e-mail

The First Baptist Church Ministry Center beside East Johnston Street in Smithfield is one of seven locations throughout Johnston County that are open for early voting Monday-Saturday through November 5. Voting hours are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. till 3 p.m. Saturdays.




Political ads on TV are insulting our intelligence

For the most part, they're full of half-truths at best, outright fabrications of fact at worst. Yes, freedom of speech guaranteed by the United States Constitution's First Amendment is sacred; but what good is that if such "freedom" deliberately ignores one's responsibility to uphold accuracy and fairness?

If I had my druthers, there would be a rule that candidates can only advertise themselves – who they are and what they stand for – and must refrain from smearing their opponents with vitriolic, and oftentimes comical, assaults on truth.

Saw this Facebook post the other day that sums up my feelings about the situation:


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