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Hosted by Community & Senior Services of Johnston County, the annual event was held last Thursday evening inside the Courthouse atrium, where loved ones gathered to remember family and friends lost and those now living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Candles were lighted from tip to tip as each person taking part called out a victim's name. The national Alzheimer's Association estimates more than 6-million Americans, including 180,000 North Carolinians, are living with the disease today. Those numbers are projected to increase to 12.7 million and 210,000 by the year 2050. (Screenshot from County of Johnston's YouTube streaming of the event)

New charter school lifts county's enrollment total

First-month reports filed with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI) show enrollment in Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) was down slightly from last year's first-month number, but that was more than made up by enrollment of 1,759 reported by the area's new charter school, American Leadership Academy-Johnston, which opened its doors this fall to grades 1-10.

Johnston's public-school enrollment at the end of the first month came in at 36,410 – down from last year's first-month Average Daily Membership (ADM) of 36,787, which was up from 35,721 in 2020 at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the latest ADM report shows Neuse Charter School at Smithfield with 909 students (grades 1-12) and Johnston Charter Academy at Clayton with 672 (grades 1-8). American Leadership Academy's new campus is located beside US 70 Business near Johnston Regional Airport between Smithfield and Clayton.

Adding charter-school enrollment to the JCPS number, the first-month reports lift Johnston's total to 39,750 students.

Johnston's first-month ADM of 36,410 in traditional public schools is below the 37,307 JCPS reported had arrived on campuses by the 10th day of the fall semester that began August 26. Based on historical trends, a subsequent report to DPI later this fall is likely to show a figure closer to the Day 10 report. The numbers in that report will determine the annual allotment of state funding for all of Johnston's schools, including the charters.

READ MORE about recent enrollment changes at North Carolina's charter and traditional schools in a story with data posted on the EducationNC website


For us, 2 new representatives in the next Congress

Two men representing Johnston County (and beyond) will be elevated to new legislative positions when the 118th United States Congress convenes in January.

Republican TED BUDD will give up his seat as representative of a Congressional district in central North Carolina to take office as the state's second U.S. senator, joining Tar Heel Republican Tom Tillis in the upper chamber of Congress. Senator-elect Budd won the seat by defeating Democrat Cheri Beasley in last week's election.

Democrat WILEY NICKEL is leaving his post as a Wake County representative in the North Carolina Senate to take office as the representative of a new 13th Congressional District that encompasses all of Johnston County and parts of Harnett, Wake, and Wayne. He won the seat by defeating Republican Bo Hines in last week' s election, thanks to substantial voter support in Wake that more than offset big majorities by Mr. Hines in Johnston, Harnett, and Wayne.

Currently, Johnston County's representative in the U.S. House is Republican David Rouzer of Wilmington. He was re-elected last week to continue serving as representative of a new 7th Congressional District that includes his home county of New Hanover. Mr. Rouzer was a resident of Johnston County when he first won election to Congress – in 2014. He moved to Wilmington in 2018.

Mr. Nickel's election helped produce an even partisan split in North Carolina's delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives – from eight Republicans and five Democrats now to seven from each party starting next year. (N.C. got an additional seat in the House as a result of nationwide population shifts recorded by the 2020 Census.) Overall, the makeup of the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives has been flipped by last week's election results to a slight Republican majority.

An attorney who heads a Cary-based law firm, Congressman-elect Nickel resides in Cary, just beyond the bounds of the 13th District. (The U.S. Constitution does not require a member of the U.S. House to reside in the district he is elected to represent.) Mr. Nickel has served in the N.C. Senate since he was first elected in 2018. From 2008 until 2012, he worked on the staff of President Barack Obama. Mr. Nickel will be 47 years old on November 23.

Senator-elect Budd, 51, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016. He and his family reside on a farm in Davie County where he grew up. He owns and operates a gun store in the town of Rural Hall north of Winston-Salem.

By the slimmest of margins, the U.S. Senate will remain controlled by Democrats, who will hold at least 50 of the 100 seats as a result of last week's election. The final count will be determined by a runoff election next month in Georgia. If the Senate split winds up 50-50, as it is now, Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat who presides over Senate proceedings, would provide tie-breaking votes.



Princeton lone survivor after playoffs' 2nd round

Princeton's Bulldogs took care of business by trouncing Pender County's Heidi Trask High 71-34, but Cleveland High's Rams lost to Rolesville 28-21 in the second round of North Carolina's high-school football playoffs last Friday night. As a result, Princeton – the only Johnston County team still alive in the competition – will host Burlington Cummings this Friday in the third round.

The Bulldogs are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern bracket of the 2-A playoffs. Cleveland was the No. 6 Eastern seed in the 4-A playoffs. The Rams finished the season with a record of 11-1. Princeton is now 11-1, the team's only loss at the hands of Smithfield-Selma in the first game of the season.


Neuse Charter basketball teams have won first 4 games

Both the Cougar boys and girls basketball teams are 4-0 after non-conference wins at home this week. The boys beat Southside Christian 89-50 on Monday and Friendship Christian 72-34 on Tuesday. The girls beat Southside Christian 43-33 on Monday and Friendship Christian 50-16 on Tuesday.

For the boys team, senior Sire Holmes scored 31 points in Monday's game and 13 on Tuesday. Senior Donollyn Terrell led the Cougars with 19 points on Tuesday after scoring 12 on Monday. Junior Jayvin Bradley scored 17 in Monday's game; senior Phillip Sullivan had 10 on Tuesday.

For the girls team, sophomore Cayley Cochran scored 30 points in Monday's win and 18 on Tuesday. Senior Lyndsy Parrish scored 12 points and junior Nivea Winston 11 in Tuesday's victory.

The basketball season for Smithfield-Selma High begins next Monday with boys and girls games at Cleveland High School.



Downtown Smithfield's Wine Walk scheduled this Friday

The Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation will host the 12th annual Wine Walk from 5 to 9 p.m. this Friday. Walkers will begin at the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield. Tickets may be purchased for $25 in advance online or $30 at the door (if available). All walkers will have their IDs checked and be given commemorative wine glasses and a wristband that will allow them to taste wines at participating businesses. The event was launched as a fund-raiser for Harbor, but the domestic-violence agency is no longer involved. Proceeds will benefit projects of the Downtown Development Corporation.

County Commissioners to consider school-safety funding

The Johnston County Board of Commissioners will convene at 6 p.m. Monday at the Courthouse. Among items on the agenda is a request from Johnston County Public Schools for an additional $9.6 million in "restricted Capital Outlay Funds" for equipment and construction "to improve school safety." Of that amount, $1.5 million would come from the school-bond issue approved by Johnston's voters last week.
VIEW the complete agenda posted by the county for Monday's session>

Board of Education's monthly session next Tuesday

The Johnston County Board of Education's November meeting, postponed from last Tuesday (Election Day), will be held at 4  p.m. next Tuesday (Nov. 22) at the Evander S. Simpson Building on US 70 Business east of Smithfield.
VIEW the agenda once it's posted, usually no later than Friday afternoon>

Next week's Thanksgiving holidays: one day or two?

For state and local government agencies and public schools in North Carolina, Thanksgiving holidays include both Thursday and Friday next week (schools are closed next Wednesday as well). For federal agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service, it's a one-day holiday: Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Banks are also closed next Thursday, open next Friday.



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

DOROTHY MAUREEN LEHMAN KING, 89 – died November 15

LOLA MAE MOYE MOORE, 78 – died November 14

CHERYL LYNN CHICKI, 61 – died November 13

FRANKIE CANALES CUBAS, 13 – died November 12

MARY GAHAN ELMORE, 95 – died November 12

RUTH EVELYN BRYANT ELLIS, 85 – died November 11

JEANETTE McIVER POWELL, 91 – died November 11

JOHNATHAN WAYNEY CUMMINGS, 43 – died November 10

JIMMY VANCE GARNER, 71 – died November 10

VICKIE ELAINE WARD SMITH, 72 – died November 9


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Outlet Center Drive is unfixed for the holiday rush

I've noticed many of our two-lane highways and secondary roads have gotten fresh coats of asphalt in recent months, not just around here but everywhere else I've traveled in North Carolina and beyond. Smithfield's pothole-plagued Outlet Center Drive is not one of them.

Why not? Because it's no longer a state-maintained roadway like the others that have been resurfaced. For a decade now, Outlet Center Drive (formerly Industrial Park Drive) has been a Town of Smithfield "street" – added to a growing list of local resurfacing needs that can't be met by the town's paltry allocation of state Powell Bill funds for street maintenance.

When this year's options for spending some of that money came before the Town Council in June, an expenditure of just over $180,000 was a choice between rebuilding half a mile of Outlet Center Drive or spreading the money over eight sections of half a dozen residential streets. The council chose the latter, preferring to bring smoother rides to the citizens of Smithfield rather than visitors to the outlets, restaurants, and hotels along I-95.

Why, then, isn't Outlet Center Drive a state-maintained "service road" alongside the Interstate anymore? Town Manager Mike Scott explained: "The town took over responsibility for Outlet Center Drive as part of the agreements with NCDOT to create the round-about and Crossroads projects in that area, around 2010."

Perhaps that was a good deal for the cash-strapped N.C. Department of Transportation. Not so good for the Town of Smithfield, especially when you consider the ludicrous configuration of streets that were built to steer traffic between the southern end of Outlet Center Drive and East Market Street.

Since Powell Bill allocations for Smithfield and just about every other city and town in North Carolina haven't kept pace with street-repair needs, perhaps our legislative delegation can come to the rescue by requiring NCDOT to take back responsibility for a road the state built to begin with.

Patched potholes along Smithfield's Outlet Center Drive are barely visible in the photograph below, but you can't miss 'em when you drive along this busy roadway.

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