Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter unless otherwise noted

This new house under construction is the first residence to be built in South Smithfield since 2006. That's quite a change from the post-World War II new-housing boom that was followed by an even bigger construction bonanza after Sylvania opened its TV-assembly plant here in 1967.

Smithfield under construction: what's new?

The Town of Smithfield Planning Department is keeping track of significant construction projects on the town's website. Among the current highlights:

Classic Ford's new home for the dealership (pictured below) is nearing completion on the former site of Jones Brothers Furniture on North Bright Leaf Boulevard.

Smithfield Assisted Living Facility is under construction on Kellie Drive (a new street) just off Booker Dairy Road near the campus of Neuse Charter School.

East River, a large residential subdivision being planned on both sides of Buffalo Road just north of Booker Dairy Road and Durwood Stephenson Highway has received preliminary plat approval from the town.

Hampton Inn is working on plans for a new hotel beside the Golden Corral restaurant on the south side of Market Street near the I-95 interchange.

And there's more....
To see what else is cooking, visit the Smithfield Planning Department's
Projects and Development web page
and follow the links to "Current Activity" and "Development Activity" to view site plans and other information.

Superintendent Renfrow's talk was "live streamed" on the school system's website.

(Johnston County Schools photo)

Superintendent of Schools Ross Renfrow

presents his "State of the District" report

It wasn't like a "State of the Union" Presidential Address. It was a not-as-formal "State of the District Address" by Superintendent of Schools Ross Renfrow that was "live streamed" over the Internet Tuesday evening by Johnston County Schools.

The superintendent talked about measures now in place to improve student safety at all of Johnston's 45 school campuses, including front-door and interior cameras as well as locked doors with entry protected by key "fobs" and access cards.

He noted that Johnston's student population has grown by 771 students since the 2017-18 school term, putting the total above 37,000 for the county. Responding to that growth, he said all of the projects included in the recently approved $61-million county bond issue for schools will be completed within four years.

And he reviewed efforts to provide "personalized learning" for students coupled with an emphasis on professional development for teachers. "Every student counts; every moment matters," he declared.

At the end of his 30-minute talk, about 500 "interactive participants" representing all of Johnston's schools provided "real time" feedback on issues of concern, according to school officials monitoring the event.

READ MORE in news release from Johnston County Schools>

PowerPoint presentation covers even more details in Dr. Renfrow's report>

Partnership seeks new teachers close to home

Johnston County Public Schools has signed an agreement with Johnston Community College and North Carolina State University that opens new opportunities for Johnston County students to enter the teaching profession without leaving home.

A major goal of "JoCo Teach" is to entice more of those students to get their college degree and then practice their profession here.

READ MORE on schools' website>

Three local attorneys rated among state's best

Jack O'Hale
Lew Starling
Jimmy Narron

Three Smithfield-based attorneys are ranked among the state's "Legal Elite" by an annual survey done for the monthly magazine Business North Carolina.

John P. (Jack) O'Hale, once again, is listed among the top-ranked criminal lawyers.

Luther D. (Lew) Starling Jr. is ranked among the best attorneys in the litigation category. (Mr. Starling has an office in Smithfield as well as Clinton, where he serves as mayor of the town.)

James W. (Jimmy) Narron has been among the top-ranked tax and estate planning attorneys for a number of years. As a result, he was added to the rankings' "Hall of Fame" in 2007.

Lawyers listed in the "Legal Elite" are determined by ratings from their peers.

Read the complete list compiled by Business North Carolina magazine>

SSS and Neuse Charter post wins   

Scores from high-school basketball games on this week's SPORTS PAGE >

Are we in line for "commuter rail"?

The editor shares his two cents' worth on this week's


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.

MILTON GENE AUTRY, 55 - died January 18

ALBERT WALTER CURRIE, 94  - died January 17

GRACE MASSEY CREECH, 86 - died January 17

BRENDA KAY HEARD, 75 - died January 17


Innovation Academy: new life for an old school

Johnston County Schools is using the former "South Campus" school in Smithfield for an "Innovation Academy" that focuses on "first-generation college-potential students from impoverished areas" throughout the county.
South Campus was built in the 1950s as an addition to all-black Johnston County Training School (later Johnston Central High School) several blocks to the north. It was closed following integration and consolidation of local schools in 1969 and used for a while as an administrative annex and warehouse for the county's system. Later it housed an "alternative school" for troublesome students.
The halls of South Campus are lined with panels telling the story of Smithfield's African-American schools --- much like the panels placed in halls of the old Smithfield High School building when it was renovated to house administrative offices supplementing the school system's headquarters east of town.

READ MORE on schools' website about the Innovation Academy>


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