Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter unless otherwise noted

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


Smithfield Middle School's Knights were winners of the Johnston County Public Schools' annual Battle of the Books competition among teams from 12 of the county's middle schools. Each team read a total of 27 novels and answered questions testing their knowledge of what they had read. Members of the winning team: (left to right) in front --- Jude Reece, Kevin Chen, Silvia Franco, Britney Arana Alberto, Yuridia Hernandez Martinez, Jessica Antonio-Juarez; in back --- Coach Allison Beadle, Stefani Robeson, Allana Massey, Catherine Cepin, Iyana Sanders, Coach Stephanie Worley. The team will enter regional competition April 12.

Johnston County Public Schools photo


Town of Smithfield has financing in sight

for Hurricane Matthew demolitions

This now-vacant residence at 115 Riverside Drive, pictured at the height of Matthew's flood on Oct. 10, 2016, is one of seven in Smithfield slated for demolition.
The Smithfield Town Council last Thursday evening authorized Town Manager Mike Scott to apply for a zero-interest loan from the State of North Carolina to pay for acquisition and demolition of seven houses and elevation of an eighth inundated by Hurricane Matthew's floodwaters in 2016.

Mr. Scott said the town will be reimbursed for the estimated expenditure of almost $2.1 million, but the state's loan would make it simpler to come up with the cash to pay contractors as soon as their work is done. He told the council he's hopeful the work can be completed by June 30, the end of the town's fiscal year.

Four of the houses to be demolished are located on Highway 210 near Swift Creek: those owned by Bill Davis at 665 NC 210, Russell and Karen Perrington at 739 NC 210, Adolfo Rodriguez at 808 NC 210, and Ricky and Lois Creech at 845 NC 210. The other three are residences of Timothy Hughes at 115 Riverside Drive, Eleanor Medlin at 307 Woodall Street, and the late Leonard Woodall at 308 Rosewood Drive. Fred Lempe's house at 211 Brookshire Drive will be elevated.

The town will hold title to the demolition sites after the buy-outs. Council members asked if any of them could be used for parks or "green space," perhaps soccer fields and the like. The town manager said staff looked into those possibilities but encountered objections from nearby property owners.

The eight projects have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with 75 percent of the cost covered by federal disaster funds and 25 percent by the state.

Hurricane Matthew's flooding at Smithfield set an all-time record, cresting just over 29 feet deep at the gauging station below the Market Street bridge.

READ MORE from last week's Town Council session>

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


Johnston County Board of Commissioners
10 a.m. & 6
p.m. Monday, March 4
Johnston County Courthouse, 207 E. Market Street, Smithfield
• At the morning session,
the board will consider a new policy on rental of the Johnston County Agricultural Center's auditorium, limiting its use to "public purpose activities by schools, public service organizations, volunteer groups, non-profit and civic organizations, chambers of commerce, and county agricultural and economic development partners" while excluding "private social functions such as weddings or parties" as well as "for-profit commercial or business activities."
• At the evening session the board will get a briefing on grant funds available for placement of "resource officers" at Johnston's middle schools and a request for additional funds that may be needed beyond any grants received.
• Also during the evening session, the board will hold public hearings on three business-zoning requests involving small tracts of land in Pleasant Grove, Clayton, and Banner townships. The County Planning Board is recommending approval of all three requests.
View the full agendas for both sessions>

Smithfield Town Council
7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5
Town Hall, 350 E. Market Street, Smithfield
Among items on the agenda:
• Receipt of the town's audit report for fiscal year 2017-18.
• A request from the Police Department, responding to "numerous citizens over the years," for new rules to prohibit animals from being tethered as a means of confinement and to require shelter for dogs and similar-sized animals that are kept outdoors.
Public hearings on three items: (1) permanent closing of one block of Meadowbrook Drive between First and Vermont streets that was never built; (2) a request to remove a 35-maximum employee limit on "light manufacturing activities" within certain business and industrial districts; and (3) a request for a special-use permit to operate a U-Haul rental facility at 1343 West Market Street.
• An update to the 10-Year Capital Improvement Plan for Public Utilities including projected expenditures for the town's electrical, water, and sewer systems.

View the full agenda with supporting documents>

"Trusted by families since 1977"

The Jewel Box is in its 73rd year

as a family business in Smithfield

Jimmy Blow (at right in photo) opened his Smithfield jewelry store in October 1946.

Son Gordon Blow (left) joined him in 1973.

It's very likely Johnston County's longest running business with its founder still on the job, at age 96.

READ MORE on "something new
under the SUN": it's a weekly FEATURE PAGE>

Booker Dairy Road one way this weekend

The N.C. Department of Transportation will close the westbound lane of Booker Dairy Road this Saturday and Sunday (March 2-3) to facilitate construction of additional lanes.
As a result, to access Booker Dairy Road motorists will need to enter from Buffalo Road and exit via Bright Leaf Boulevard (US 301). The closing was initially scheduled this past weekend but postponed because of rainy weather.

Here's a road in need of "rehabilitation"

THE EDITOR'S POINT OF VIEW: Outlet Center Drive's meandering course to reach East Market Street ought to be erased and a more sensible layout constructed.


School employees with "heart" honored

Johnston County Public Schools honored 50 of its employees for "going above and beyond" at the annual "Leading with the Heart" reception held last week. Inspired by Mike Krzyewski's book Leading with the Heart, the event recognizes employees who demonstrate leadership, compassion, and "heart" in their work.

Each school selected one employee to be honored, including: Cali Durning, South Smithfield Elementary; Emily Rose, West Smithfield Elementary; William Overby, Wilson's Mills Elementary; Destiny Fulwood, Smithfield Middle; Susan Hales, Smithfield-Selma High; and Elizabeth Ham, Innovation Academy at South Campus.

For the complete list with a photo, follow this link>

Eight more schools join "Share Table"

Introduced at West Smithfield Elementary School in December, the "Share Table" program --- which provides leftover, untouched food to needy students who may be hungry after breakfast and lunch meals at school --- has been expanded to eight more schools, including South Smithfield Elementary and Wilson's Mills Elementary.

READ MORE about it here>

Tickets on sale for "Showcase of Stars"

Advance tickets to the Johnston County Education Foundation's annual "Showcase of Stars" fund-raiser featuring performances by students from the county's public schools are on sale till 6 p.m. today (Thursday) and from 9 a.m. till noon Friday (March 1) at Grace Community Church, 923 E. Booker Dairy Road near Smithfield-Selma High (SSS) where the event will be held.

This year's Showcase will be held on Saturday, March 9 at SSS since the auditorium at Johnston Community College is closed for renovations. After this week, tickets will be on sale at the SSS auditorium one hour prior to each show, if seats are available. The ticket price is $15 per show.

To view the full schedule of performances, follow this link>

Basketball done for high-school teams

Conference tournaments are finished, and only the Neuse Charter girls made the state playoffs but lost their opening-round game. Roundup on SPORTS PAGE>

Highway 70 West Business, Smithfield    919-934-1174

Community College issues Dean's List

Johnston Community College has released its Dean's List of high-performing students for the spring semester. To make the list, a student must complete at least nine credit hours in a semester (excluding "developmental" courses) and achieve a Grade Point Average of at least 4.0.

Smithfield residents making the list: Jordan D. Alt, Patrick R. Bailey, Wendell O. Benton, Benjamin T. Coleman, Owen R. Daughtry, Shauvon N. Deyton, Crystal A. Fonseca, Kyndall E. Foy, Yamilet Faire, Angel M. Fry, Lillian R. Garcia, Amy N. Grider, Blake E. Guy, George Haywood, Kailyn Jijon, Karen R. Joya Cabrera, Jacob D. Lete, Jennifer Lopez-Ramirez, Pamela A. Lounsbery, Lesly Mata, Joshua C. Murphy, Courtney R. Richards, Jose L. Rios Aburto, Oscar Rodriguez, Karina M. Rodriguez Montanez, Dewey L. Stephenson, Kelly Tesh, Luke R. Thompson, Gracie D. Whitley, Patricia A. Wiser, Rita A. Zavala.

To view the entire Dean's list, follow this link>


Renovations to the Tart Building at Johnston Community College --- which includes the Paul A. Johnston Auditorium and a new Student Success Center in space previously occupied by the school's library --- are moving toward completion by the end of the year, reports JCC President David Johnson. The project, he noted, includes "a complete redesign of the entrance plaza." The Frank Creech fountain sculpture, "The Rescue," remains in place "but with brand new surroundings" once construction is finished, Dr. Johnson added. "It's going to be a real show-piece from top to bottom, inside and out."


Smithfield real-estate broker



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.

JOHN BRIAN JONES, 50 - died February 27

MONROE REID JONES, 68 - died February 26

JESSE SANDERS, 74 - died February 26

EULA LEE SELLERS, 90 - died February 25

ANTHONY GEORGE (TONY) BAKER, 86 - died February 22

HILDA PACE CREECH, 88 - died February 22

ELEANOR PEARCE ABBOTT, 89 - died February 20

BRUCE WILLIAMS LASSITER, 69 - died February 20

JOHN E. (JACK) LILLICH, 96 - died February 14