Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter unless otherwise noted

This month's sponsors: Pernell, Inc.; W. Landis Bullock; John H. Scovil & Associates;
7th Street Marketplace (Stancil Oil Co.); Carroll Pharmacy; Realtor Susan Lassiter

School board hopeful that Legislature

will allow mid-August school opening

The Johnston County Board of Education decided Tuesday to wait another 30 days before adopting a school-year calendar for 2019-20. Board members are hopeful the State Senate will approve a bill expected to pass the N.C. House of Representatives that would allow local flexibility in setting start and end dates for public schools. Similar bills have stalled in the Senate in recent sessions.

READ MORE from this week's monthly meeting of the school board>

75% of Johnston's students ride the bus

Commemorating "Love the Bus" Week, Johnston County's Superintendent of Schools Ross Renfrow notes that more than 75% of the county's public-school students ride one of the "yellow buses" to and from school each day.

According to a report provided to the Sun, more than 20,000 students ride a bus to school in the morning and more than 23,000 from school at the end of the day.

Each school day more than 300 buses make 1,261 trips covering more than 22,000 miles, Superintendent Renfrow notes.

Here's the report with bus-riding stats for all the county's public schools>

SSS academic achievers listed 

Here's the Principal's List and Honor Roll from Smithfield-Selma High School
for the second nine-week grading period>

SSS, Neuse Charter teams get wins

Scores and more on this weeks' SPORTS PAGE>

50th anniversary of school consolidation

This year brings the 50th anniversary of the closing of all our smaller local high schools and the opening of much-larger Smithfield-Selma High. Along with consolidation of schools came integration, with both white and black students leaving their long-time segregated schools at the same time.

How did it work out?
The editor's perspective appears on this week's OPINIONS page>


Chamber honors "Semester Superstars"

Seven high-school and middle-school teachers from local schools were named "Semester Superstars" on Monday by the Triangle East (formerly Smithfield-Selma) Chamber of Commerce: (RIGHT TO LEFT) Tarsha Johnson, "inclusion" teacher at Smithfield-Selma High; Sarah Anderson, AVID* "enrichment" teacher at Smithfield Middle; Nicole Stevens, AVID* coordinator at Selma Middle; Haley Darden, math teacher at Princeton Middle; Randy Parker, science teacher at Innovation Academy at South Campus; Becky Worley, math teacher at Career and Technical Leadership Academy; and Kalicia Gurley of Neuse Charter School.

The teachers were selected by the staffs at each school. They received gifts from local businesses, including checks for $100.

Monday's presentation luncheon was hosted by the Chamber's Education Committee. Sponsoring businesses were Carolina Premium Outlets, Christopher & Banks, Country Superstars 102.3, DeWayne's, Dr. Peggy Smith, Golden Corral, HealthQuest, Johnston Community College, Johnston County Visitors Bureau, Marvel Dixon with Mary Kay Cosmetics, Pernell Inc., PNC Bank, Sleep Inn & Suites, Wake Radiology, and Wood Termite and Pest Control.

* AVID is an acronym
for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It is a national "college readiness program" that emphasizes writing, critical thinking, teamwork, organization, and reading skills.

Highway 70 West Business, Smithfield    919-934-1174

NAACP's MLK Parade this Saturday 

In recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 90th birthday (January 15), the Johnston County Branch of the NAACP will present its fourth annual MLK Parade at 3 p.m. this Saturday (February 16) in Downtown Smithfield.

The parade will include floats, bands, celebrity vehicles, and
local dignitaries. It will last approximately 30 minutes. For more information, call Barbara L. Monk, parade committee chair, at 919-934-0339.

Presidents Day closings on Monday 

Next Monday (February 18) is the national Presidents Day
holiday. Federal agencies including the U.S. Postal Service will be closed (and most mail deliveries suspended for the day). Banks will be closed also.

Public schools will be open as usual on Monday, along with state, county, and municipal offices.

Congress enacted the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971 which set Presidents Day on the third Monday in February, in between the actual birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and George Washington on February 22.


Smithfield police & fire statistics

Included in the "agenda packet" for last week's monthly meeting of the Smithfield Town Council were statistical reports from the police and fire departments:

The Police Department reported the number of "calls for service" dropped by 555 last year, from 22,887 in 2017 to 22,332 in 2018.

Arrest reports totaled 1,301 this past year, down from 1,402 in 2017. Reported burglaries dropped from 111 to 77 and DWI charges declined from 110 to 94. At the same time, drug charges rose from 364 in 2017 to 400 this past year.

The number of traffic accidents investigated showed a slight decrease, from 896 to 884, but citations for speeding rose dramatically, from 514 in 2017 to 899 in 2018.

More about the Police Department on the Town of Smithfield website

The Fire Department
reported an increase in responses to structure fires during the six-month period from July 1 through December 31, with 118 dispatches during that period in 2018, up from 96 in 2017. EMS/rescue calls for the six-month period showed a decline, from 1,644 in 2017 to 1,599 in 2018.

The number of false fire alarms rose from 116 to 140 during the six-month reporting period for 2017 and 2018. The department collected $4,150 in fees for false alarms July-December this past year.

More about the Fire Department on the Town of Smithfield website

7th Street Marketplace & The Chicken Barn
  Market Street (US 70 Business) at 7th Street, Downtown Smithfield

Bigness a fitting name for this lady's service  

CEO Chuck Elliott (left) congratulates Lynne Bigness on being named Johnston Health Ambassador of the Month. Also in the photo are Josh Burnette (center), director of food services, and Kyle McDermott, vice president of support services.

Johnston Health story & photo

Lynne Bigness, the catering coordinator for Johnston Health, has been named Ambassador of the Month.

Kyle McDermott, vice president   of support services, said Ms. Bigness takes pride in her work, and always strives to go above and beyond. “She loves people, and it’s her passion to bring smiles to the faces of those she serves,” he said. “Customers describe her as friendly and accommodating, and they always have great things to say about the wonderful meals she prepares.”

Before coming to Johnston Health two and a half years ago, Ms. Bigness worked in food services for 16 years at Barton College in Wilson.

“It makes me happy when people enjoy my food,” she said. Her tasty entrees often bring compliments from customers, including the Rotarians who meet for lunch on Thursdays at Johnston Medical Mall.

During a typical week at the hospital, she does as many as 15 caterings --- all solo.

“She likes being busy, and she is such a hard worker that her supervisor often has to remind
her to take time off,” said Josh Burnette, director of food services.

Through its Ambassador program, Johnston Health recognizes employees who go above and beyond the call of duty and deliver quality care, foster teamwork, and offer excellent service. In addition to a designated month-long parking space, Ms. Bigness will receive eight hours of paid time off.

"Trusted by families since 1977"


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.

NANCY PITCHI ENNIS, 80 - died February 13

ROBERT LEE COLBERT, 90 - died February 11

NICHOLAS PETER FORTE, 85 - died February 9


Smithfield real-estate broker



Ashley W. Smith, an African-American of high standing
, built this house in the heart of Downtown Smithfield in the late 19th Century. Located on the north side of Market Street between Third and Fourth streets, the Victorian showplace was purchased in 1935 by Underwood Funeral Home, whose fleet of ambulances are shown out front in the 1950s. The house was demolished in the early 1960s to make way for enlargement of the town's Hudson-Belk department store. Mr. Smith was one of several blacks who served terms on the Smithfield Town Board prior to 1898, when African-Americans were disenfranchised across the state as part of a "white supremacy" campaign championed by North Carolina Democrats. To commemorate Black History Month, the Johnston County Heritage Center has opened a new exhibit entitled
“Building the Black Community – 1865-1900."

a public service announcement