Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter unless otherwise noted

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


These young folks at Smithfield's Centenary United Methodist Church filled 175 vases with red rose buds that were delivered on Valentine's Day to every resident at Smithfield Manor Nursing and Rehab: (right to left) Camryn Outen, Austin Outen, Blaine Outen, Graham Henderson, Ellie Pippin, Tristan Matthews, James Foy, Brayden Parr, Connor Parr, Crecia Parrish, Riley Pippin, Elijah Matthews, Emory Foy, Jenna Pearce, Lily McLamb, and Olivia Fisher. The church's congregation collected the vases, Carolina Pottery donated ribbon for bows, and a "special donor" purchased the flowers. Members of the "delivery team" were Hayley and Grace Ann Henderson, Connie Johnson, Meagan Matthews, John and Sharon Parrish, John Stearley, and Carolyn Williams.
Centenary Church photo

Johnston Health gets yet another

high mark from a national evaluator

Johnston Health, which operates public hospitals in Smithfield and Clayton as part of the UNC Health Care system, has received yet another honor from a national rating agency.

The Women's Choice Award has named Johnston Health "one of America's Best Hospitals for Patient Safety." That places Johnston Health in the top 8 percent of 4,797 U.S. hospitals evaluated.

This past year, Johnston Health received the Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award, Grade A hospital-safety ratings from the Leapfrog Group, a four-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and was named a "Top 25" hospital service by Business North Carolina magazine.

READ MORE about the latest honor in a news release from Johnston Health>

The editor's perspective on hospital advances --- on our page of OPINIONS>


Durwood and Vicky Stephenson have given the Johnston Health Foundation $50,000 to establish the Kay S. Wallace Endowment for Cancer Patient Support. The gift was made in memory of Mr. Stephenson's sister, who died in 2016 after a five-year battle with breast cancer. On hand for a reception acknowledging the donation were members of Mrs. Wallace's family: (from left) David Moore; Chad, April, and Ava Culver; Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson; and Arnold, Justin, Jordan, and Itzamara Wallace. Because of the size of the gift, the foundation has named the education room at Johnston Health Hematology & Oncology for Mrs. Wallace.

Johnston Health photo

Highway 70 West Business, Smithfield    919-934-1174

Under the Oak Cafe joins Downtown lineup

Blake and Megan Gotliffe and son Landon (who just turned one) have imported a taste of their Under the Oak Farm near Clayton to Downtown Smithfield.
Blake Gotliffe was cooking for a Raleigh restaurant when he decided to venture out on his own. But it wasn't a restaurant he started; instead, it was Under the Oak Farm, a one-acre tract near Clayton where he and wife Megan reside and do a little farming --- food farming, that is.

"Farming had been my hobby for some time," Blake said. "We started out pickling our produce and selling it at the Clayton Farmers Market."

Then they began hosting private dinners at Under the Oak, and their catering business grew to the extent they expanded last summer into a former restaurant space next to the Howell Theatre on Downtown Smithfield's Third Street.

"We needed a commercial kitchen,
and this place had it," Blake noted.

"People kept asking us: 'Are you open for lunch?' We had a great sandwich catering menu," Blake boasted. And so this week they opened Under the Oak Cafe, serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday from the same kitchen where they prepare their dishes for catering.

Along with all that, wife Megan has a baking business she calls "I Do Cakes" --- special orders for weddings, of course.

Back to the farm: Blake said the couple "wanted some land to grow our own food." Very soon they'll be planting "root vegetables" to supplement the ingredients for their catering and cafe offerings, he said.

"Ninety percent of our ingredients come from North Carolina," he noted. "Nowadays how important it is to know where your food comes from."

With the addition of Under the Oak Cafe, Downtown Smithfield now has half a dozen eateries within a block or so of the Johnston County Courthouse in the heart of town. That wasn't so barely a decade ago.

For more information about Under the Oak, follow this link>


Photos from Johnston County Public Schools


Among students receiving congratulations from the Johnston County Board of Education last week:
(left-hand photo, left to right) For demonstrating the character trait of fairness: Ean Newcomb of Swift Creek Middle School, Cooper Harris of South Smithfield Elementary, Billy Bowen of West Johnston High, and Brandon Stackhouse of South Johnston High; (right-hand photo) Jude Reece of Smithfield Middle School, overall winner of "MathCounts" competition involving more than 100 students from Johnston's 12 middle schools.

SSS boys, Neuse Charter girls advance

Both teams are competing in the semi-finals of their respective conference tournaments this evening (Thursday).
Get scores and more on this week's SPORTS PAGE>

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

Woodruff heads county elections board

The Johnston County Board of Elections now has five members rather than four under a new statewide scheme resulting from recent lawsuits and a new law enacted by the N.C. General Assembly. Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has appointed Gordon Woodruff of Smithfield, also a Democrat, as the new board's chairman. Other members, appointed by the State Board of Elections, include two Democrats: Shirley Bell and Deborah Hooker, both of Clayton; and two Republicans: John Shallcross Jr. and Debbie Zink, both of Smithfield.

The next round of elections here are for municipal offices. The filing period opens July 5 and lasts just two weeks, till July 19. Election Day is November 5.

Town of Smithfield offices before voters this year are the mayor's chair, now held by Andy Moore, and three at-large seats on the Town Council, now held by Emery Ashley, John Dunn, and Steve Rabil. Four other council members, elected by districts, hold seats that aren't up for election again till 2021.


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.

LINDA SUE JONES BYRD - died February 19

"Trusted by families since 1977"

NCDOT's "re-do" aims to reduce confusion where four highways meet.
The preliminary plan includes four round-abouts in place of stop signs.

I-95-US 701 interchange plan to be shown

The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will host "open house" at Four Oaks Middle School next Thursday evening (Feb. 28) to answer questions and collect public comments about its plan to reconfigure the complex interchange of I-95 with U.S. 701, U.S. 301, and N.C. 96. NCDOT representatives will be on hand from 4 to 7 p.m. in the school's cafeteria to present the plan's details.
For a look at the plan, follow this link>

Town Council to meet at 6:30 p.m. today

The Smithfield Town Council will convene this evening (Thursday) to conduct public hearings on amendments to its Unified Development Ordinance. Among several changes under consideration: one would require public notice prior to preliminary approval of a subdivision; another would reconstitute the town's Historic Properties Commission as the "Historic Preservation Commission." Also on today's agenda is discussion concerning adoption of an annexation policy.

Want a "say" in the Smithfield Town Plan?

Citizens can still "have a say" in development of the Town of Smithfield Comprehensive Growth Management and Transportation Plan, even after a public workshop this past Tuesday evening hosted by Kimley-Horn of Raleigh, the consulting firm employed by the town to assemble the plan. At the workshop, citizens were able to inspect preliminary elements of the plan and make suggestions. Now, through an online survey, you can put in your "two cents' worth."
Here's the link to take part>


Black History program: "Dancing Stories"