PUBLISHED ONLINE JANUARY 3, 2019




from Wingate Lassiter, editor & publisher

Welcome to the first standard edition of the Smithfield Weekly Sun.
We plan to post each week's new content on Thursdays. Our subscribers will be notified by e-mail as soon as a new edition is posted. Anyone else may access this digital newspaper anytime at smithfieldweeklysun.com. If you want to sign up as a subscriber (free of charge), there's a form to do that at the bottom of this page.


All real estate revalued for taxes   


By now, you've received in the mail a notice from the County of Johnston giving you an updated valuation of your real estate for local property taxation. North Carolina law requires counties to do this every eight years, so this is our year for across-the-board "revaluation."
Keep in mind that the new values do not tell you what your actual property-tax bill will be for 2019. For Smithfield residents, that will be determined by tax rates set by the County Commissioners and the Town Council when they adopt their annual budgets this spring.
Property owners may appeal the new valuations according to information printed on the back of your "Notice of Assessed Valuation" form. You may get started by visiting the Johnston County Tax Office's Valuation Appeals page online.
If you'd like to check out valuations assigned to your neighbors' real estate, check out the county's "Map Click" searchable database of properties.

Hospitals limiting visits as flu cases rise


Over the holiday weekend, emergency departments at Johnston Health in Smithfield and Clayton saw an uptick in the number of influenza and respiratory viruses among their patients and throughout the community. As a result, both hospitals are restricting children ages 11 and under from visiting until further notice.
Meanwhile, have you gotten your yearly flu shot yet?


A New Year's Day in the park . . .




With intermittent sunshine and temperatures rising into the mid 70s, Tuesday the First of January was a good day to get outside for some recreation. This scene shows young families enjoying the swings at Smithfield's Partnership for Children "inclusion park" --- a new section of the Community Park off Booker Dairy Road next to the Recreation and Aquatics Center. This unique facility features playground equipment for handicapped children, but it's open for play to everyone.

Follow this link to view more photos from New Year's Day in Smithfield....




LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENDAS


Johnston County Board of Commissioners
10 a.m. & 6
p.m. Monday, January 7
Johnston County Courthouse, 207 E. Market Street, Smithfield
Commissioners' Chairman Ted Godwin will present the annual "State of the County" address during the morning session.
Cleveland Township representatives will update the board on a proposed parks and recreation tax district during the evening session.
View the agendas for both sessions here.

Johnston County Board of Education
2 p.m. Tuesday, January 8

Evander S. Simpson Building, 2320 U.S. 70 Business East, Smithfield
View the school board's agenda once it's published online.
The board will receive a report from Mark Dorosin of the Julius S. Chambers Center for Civil Rights on Johnston County Schools' attendance districts and how they are affecting racial and socioeconomic diversity among students. The report was requested by Concerned Citizens for Successful Schools, a task force made up of local citizens focused on schools in the Smithfield-Selma district.
Here's a link to the full report.

Smithfield Town Council
7 p.m. Tuesday, January 8
Town Hall, 350 E. Market Street, Smithfield
View the agenda with supporting documents (large PDF - slow to load)
This month's agenda includes awarding of a contract for a "Wayfinding Signage" project to guide visitors to significant places in town.


PEOPLE IN THE NEWS   


We'll do our best to keep you informed about newsworthy honors and awards received by Smithfield citizens and professional people. The headlines about particular persons are followed by links to online stories about them. The honors highlighted below were bestowed this past fall. We're drawing attention to them now because they were thinly publicized when first announced....

Carolyn Ennis receives "Volunteer of the Year" award
read more...

Leo Daughtry honored by Wake Forest School of Law
read more...


Twyla Wells receives Athena Award from Chamber of Commerce
read more...

Phyllis Parrish, Hazel Sanders, Joyce Wade honored by JCPS
read more...

We welcome award announcements from public agencies and civic organizations. "News releases" should be e-mailed to: editor@smithfieldweeklysun.com.



DEATHS & FUNERALS


Each week we'll post links to obituaries about persons who have died during the past week. 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 immediate area.


PAGE JENKINS PARTIN - died January 2

JESSIE LARKIN BROWN JR. - died January 1

BOBBY CHARLES FISHER - died December 31

STEPHEN MICHAEL MURPHY - died December 29


MARY E. ARCHIBALD - died December 28


ALICE EVA-MAE SMITH CARROLL - died December 28

ALICE JONES DEBNAM - died December 28


HIGH SCHOOL
SPORTS REPORT

      
BOYS VARSITY BASKETBALL           

Wednesday, January 2
Apex Friendship              73
Smithfield-Selma             59
   Spartans: 24 points by Anthony
   Council, 16 by
Sha'kerr Howard
Team's record to date: 4-7

Next game:
Friday, January 4 (7:30 p.m.)
Harnett Central @ HOME
GIRLS VARSITY BASKETBALL

Wednesday, January 2
Apex Friendship                45
Smithfield-Selma               23
   Spartans led by Khaliyah Peacock,
   averaging 11.6 points per game  
Team's record to date: 4-7

Next game:
Friday, January 4 (6:00 p.m.)
Harnett Central @ HOME



THAT'S THE WAY IT WAS




Here's an early 1960s view of the Cities Service station on Smithfield's busy "Truck Lane" (so named when built after World War II as a U.S. 301 downtown bypass; today it's the southern leg of Bright Leaf Boulevard). In the background is the entrance to Smithfield's last cotton gin, which closed in the 1970s and a portion of which still stands, although in disrepair. All of these were businesses owned and operated by the late J. Marvin Johnson. The service station later served as the local base of AmeriGas. It was recently demolished. (Photo from the Reuben Johnson collection at the Johnston County Heritage Center in Downtown Smithfield.



A PLACE FOR OPINIONS


Any American newspaper worth its salt has an "editorial page" --- a place where its readers may voice their opinions alongside the point of view of its editor. The Smithfield Weekly Sun will continue that long-standing tradition to provide a public forum for the printed word. We will restrict the content of our forum to concerns of local interest, and we will require subscribers who wish to contribute their opinions to do so over their names. In other words, we will only publish signed (and verified) "letters to the editor." We do request that your submissions be in digital form, electronically transmitted to us via e-mail addressed to wingate.lassiter@hometownheritage.com.
If you're not a registered subscriber and want to "get in the game," simply sign up (free of charge) using the form that appears at the bottom of this page.

A new year's editorial agenda   


As we head into 2019, I've got a few issues of concern on my mind that I plan to address on these pages in the weeks ahead. Here are some of them:

MARKETING SMITHFIELD . . .
Out community has not done what it takes in this dynamic and highly competitive region to entice more folks, and businesses, to make Smithfield their home. We've seen progress here in parks and recreation, downtown revitalization, public safety, competitively priced electricity... but Smithfield's story has not been shared with the rest of the world as it ought to be shared. The recent hiring of a marketing specialist by the Town of Smithfield is a start toward correcting that shortcoming. Let's see what else we can do to "put us on the map" of economic development.

LOW-PERFORMING PUBLIC SCHOOLS . . .
Smithfield's schools --- elementary, middle, and high --- continue to fall behind most of those in the rest of Johnston County when it comes to the state's academic measuring sticks. And that's a drag on efforts to attract families to live here. Granted, there's some recent momentum among school leaders and concerned citizens to change that, but it's an issue that merits our close attention to make sure any reported progress is for real and will continue.

COMMUTER RAIL linking Johnston County with the Triangle . . .
I attended a recent "summit" hosted by the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce to jump-start a local discussion about the feasibility of getting that done. While the business community and citizens at large can push for it, commuter rail is unlikely for us until our County Commissioners step up to the plate with financial commitments to make it happen.

GREENWAY TRAIL connecting Smithfield and Clayton . . .

This past year the County Commissioners received a report from Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail about efforts to secure greenway easements from local property owners along the Neuse River between Smithfield and the end of a paved greenway trail that extends from the Falls Lake Dam north of Raleigh to Sam's Branch at Clayton. The big question before us is who will build and maintain the new connection? The County of Johnston? With assistance from the municipal governments of Smithfield and Clayton?

That's an incomplete list of goals for our community, from my point of view. But for now, it's a start....


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