Smithfield's Warren Grimes (right) will
be honored as "Citizen of the Year" and Smithfield's
Mayor Andy Moore (left) as a "Distinguished Citizen" at
the annual banquet of the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of
Commerce January 28.
In the past the Chamber has not
announced the award winners until the night of the
banquet, thereby surprising the recipients. This year
the Chamber's leaders decided to announce the winners in
advance to give more friends and family members a chance
to attend the dinner.
Other recipients of this year's awards: "Small Business
Person of the Year," Melissa Overton of
MedicalTraining.me; and several more "Distinguished
Citizens" --- for Selma, Tom and Kathleen Hinnant; for
Kenly, Jennifer Holloman; for Princeton, Carlyle
Woodard; for Wilson's Mills, Johnny Eason.
stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter unless
Will local state legislators support
for earlier opening of Johnston's
The Johnston County Board of Education voted unanimously
last month to ask the N.C. General Assembly for
permission to open next year's school term here in
mid-August rather than the state-mandated opening date
of August 26.
The Sun contacted Smithfield's representatives in the
Legislature for a response to the school board's
Larry Strickland and Donna White, former school board
members who represent Johnston in the State House, said
they supported a similar request last session and will
support the school board's request again this year.
State Senator Brent Jackson is not ready to lend his
support, his spokesman said.
"Constituent input is vital to the legislative process,
and helps to paint a clearer picture of what the
citizens of District 10 want and need," said Christopher
Stock of Senator Jackson's staff. He said the senator
will take that input into consideration when the school
board's request comes up for a vote.
"Representative Strickland and I introduced a bill
during our first term in 2017 to allow Johnston County
Public Schools to have a customized start/end date," Ms.
White noted. "It was not successful."
"The issue is the tourism industry," Representative
Strickland said. Save our Summers is a lobbying group
that protects the current statewide calendar from
earlier school openings, he noted. "This issue has been
going on in Raleigh for at least 15-20 years. We in the
House chamber passed in 2017 House Bill 375 that allowed
flexibility and did exactly what Johnston County Public
Schools is asking for. It was referred to the Senate
Rules Committee and never heard from again."
Mr. Strickland pointed out that the Rules Committee's
chairman, Senator Bill Rabon, is a resident of Oak
Island and represents several counties that include the
major beach resorts of southeastern North Carolina.
The 2019 session of the General Assembly convened
January 9 for a one-day organizational session. The
Legislature will reconvene on January 30 for its
biennial "long session" that usually lasts till summer.
What better place to start than the editor's comments
about a couple of issues facing our public schools:
high-school attendance districts, and the annual school
calendar. So let us begin with this week's edition....
STUDENTS RECOGNIZED FOR GOOD CHARACTER --- The
Johnston County Board of Education recognized during
its January meeting these four students who have
demonstrated "dependability" at their schools: in
front (from left) are Selma Elementary's Sa’Niy
Bartell and Smithfield Middle's Abraham Aguilar. In
back are Selma Middle's Israel Barajas and
Smithfield-Selma High's Diana Martinez.
Get to know your local schools . . .
Here are links to the websites for Smithfield's schools
- with all sorts of information about personnel,
operations, activities, and more:
Johnston County Public Schools' Superintendent Ross Renfrow will present his annual "State of the District" address on Tuesday, January 22 at 6 p.m. The event will be "live-streamed" on the school system's website: https://www.johnston.k12.nc.us
SSS senior Anthony Council scores 51
He led the Smithfield-Selma Spartans to victory over
conference rival West Johnston High School last Friday,
Coates and her husband, Jordan, have opened Coates
Hearing Clinic at 1652 East Booker Dairy Road in
She grew up in Ohio, did her
internship at Wake Forest University's Bowman Gray
School of Medicine, and has been a practicing
audiologist the past several years in Raleigh.
Coates Hearing Clinic offers
"comprehensive" hearing exams, hearing aids and
other devices, tinnitus treatment, balance
assessment, cochlear implant evaluation, and
"custom hearing protection." The clinic's hours
are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The website: www.coateshearing.com.
Dr. Eric Janis
heads Johnston Health board
Health recently welcomed new and familiar faces to its
board of directors (left to right in photo above): David Mills of Smithfield, an attorney who's
a former board member and chairman of the Johnston
Health Foundation; Dr. Marilyn Pearson of
Clayton, director of the Johnston County Public Health
Department; Bobby Parker of Clayton, a
general contractor who was a hospital board member for
14 years before returning for a new term; and Dr.
Dennis Koffer of Smithfield, a retired surgeon
who is the medical director for Johnston Home Care and
Newly elected officers include Dr. Eric Janis
(pictured at right), a cardiologist, as board
chairman; and Jeff Carver,
a Johnston County commissioner, as vice chair. Dr. Richard Alioto, an orthopedic surgeon, is
chief of the medical staff.
Other members of Johnston Health's
board of directors are: Dr. Linda Butler,
chief medical officer for Rex Healthcare; Chris
Ellington, chief financial officer for UNC
Hospitals as well as UNC Health Care system
affiliations; Bengie Gaddis, chief deputy of
the Johnston County Sheriff's Department; Ted
Godwin, chairman of the Johnston County Board
of Commissioners; Jim Jenkins, a retired
industrialist and former chairman of the Johnston
Health Foundation; Gary Park, president of
UNC Hospitals; John Scovill of Smithfield,
a certified public accountant; and Terry Rose
of Pine Level, an attorney and nurse practitioner
Johnston Health operates acute-care hospitals in
Smithfield and Clayton, which are licensed for a
combined 199 beds. Since February 2014, Johnston
Health has been affiliated with UNC Health
DEATHS & FUNERALS
Each week we'll post links to obituaries about persons
who have died during the past week or have funerals not
yet conducted. We will monitor the websites of local
funeral homes to compile our list, and we welcome links
provided by readers to obituaries of persons with
Smithfield connections who have died outside our
Monday, January 21 will be observed by all
federal, state, and local government offices and
institutions as Martin Luther King Day in honor of
the slain civil-rights leader.
That includes Johnston County's
schools and U.S. Postal Service offices and
deliveries to homes and businesses.
Banks and other financial institutions
also observe the holiday.
The Public Library in Downtown
Smithfield will be closed, along with the Johnston
County Heritage Center across the street.
The Ava Gardner Museum will be open
Monday (it's open seven days a week except for
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, and
Town of Smithfield's garbage and
trash pickups usually done on Monday will be
postponed till Wednesday of next week. The
Johnston County Landfill and the county's Solid Waste Convenience
Centers will also be closed on
actual birthday is January 15. Congress made it a
national holiday with legislation passed in 1983,
designating the third Monday in January as the day
of national observance.
Dr. King was just 39 years old when he was
assassinated in April 1968.
Johnston MLK Committee's observance
The Johnston County MLK Committee will present
"Dream Catchers 2019" at 10 a.m. Saturday (January
19) in the gymnasium at Smithfield-Selma High
The student-led program will feature
an oratorical contest with cash prizes, a "hip
hop" and spoken-word contest, and a free
criminal-record expungement clinic. To
participate, call Antoan Whidbee at 919-934-3222
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
THAT'S THE WAY IT WAS
A long-gone remnant of segregated schools
This photograph from the archives of the Johnston
County Heritage Center shows the abandoned main
building of Smithfield's African-American high school
three years after its closing in 1969 with the opening
that fall of consolidated, and integrated,
Smithfield-Selma High School. Located in Smithfield's
Belmont neighborhood east of the railroad tracks,
Johnston County Training School opened in 1921. Its name
was changed to Johnston Central High School in 1965. On
this site today stands the relatively new headquarters
of Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action, the region's
information about our community, visit our
online "newspaper parent" via the link shown
below. This website is a handy "portal" to
important sources of current information about
Smithfield and Johnston County.