Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter unless otherwise noted

This week's sponsors: Attorney Allen H. Wellons; 7th Street Marketplace;
Realtor Susan Lassiter; Pernell Inc.; W. Landis Bullock; John H. Scovil & Associates

Johnston County Commissioners  /  Smithfield Town Council


The Bradford Pear trees that have lined South Second Street for almost half a century were still blooming on Ash Wednesday despite a "cold snap" that produced a high temperature of just 43 for the day (after a morning low of 27). Lining many of our principal streets with flowering trees was a project of the Smithfield Appearance Commission dating back to the 1970s.

Radio icon Carl Lamm retiring at 92;

future of broadcast station(s) uncertain

Photos from the cover of Carl Lamm's autobiography,
Sixty-Three Years on the Air,
published nine years ago.
Carl Lamm, Smithfield's "Mr. Radio" for six decades, announced this week that he will retire March 31.

What's more, his Radio Station WTSB will cease broadcasting at the same time.

It will be the second of his local stations to leave the airwaves. WMPM, which he joined as a part-owner in 1958, hasn't been broadcasting since the first of this month.

The future of both stations has not been determined, according to Mickey Lamm, Carl's son and partner in the family business, which also includes his sister, Lynda Lamm Carroll, who was most recently WMPM's general manager.

Meanwhile, the Johnston County Report (a.k.a. "JoCoReport") will continue to operate, said Mickey Lamm, who assembles the stories for that online news service that's updated daily.

WMPM, Johnston County's first commercial radio station, went on the air in 1950.

READ MORE in a fuller story published earlier this week by the JoCoReport>

141 E. Market Street, Smithfield  •  919-934-0553 


These students from Neuse Charter School, with coaching from older "experts" at Smithfield-Selma High School, spent last Saturday honing their skills controlling robots made out of plastic Legos. Competition in the "First Lego League" was one of several activities at the second annual "FIRST Robotics Expo" hosted by the SSS robotics team, led by David Brooks and Kaylee Myer (wearing the orange toboggans). Neuse Charter students "doing their thing" are (left to right) eighth-grader James Atkisson and fifth-graders Jackson Williams and Gabrielle Mejia. The acronym FIRST is "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." Kaylee, administrative captain of the student-run SSS team, said another project to build interest among local youngsters in this "sporting event with robots" is to offer summer camps, which also raise money for the team's expenses. To learn more about it all, visit the team's website at

IB programme may be expanding to more

schools in Smithfield and Wilson's Mills

Smithfield Middle, Smithfield Elementary, and Wilson's Mills Elementary hope to join Smithfield-Selma High School in offering International Baccalaureate's challenging courses of study. News release from Johnston County Public Schools>


Johnston County Public Schools observed National School Social Work Week March 4-8. More than 37,000 students in the county's 45 public schools are served by 17 social workers. "The connections and relationships that are built through the efforts of social workers enable students to find success both in school and in future endeavors," said Amanda Allen, the school system's director of social and emotional learning. Johnston social workers in the picture are (left to right): front row --- Kristen Percy, Phyllis Brown, Ashlie Pope, Elizabeth Ashley, Susan Kelly, Nan Jones; second row --- Danielle Pleasant, Serreda Jenkins, Michele Norman, Jamie Sessoms, Whitney Kelbaugh, Julie Hodge, Carla Pearce; third row --- Anita Godwin, Brittany Shedrick, and Gay Hicks.                      Johnston County Public Schools photo

Johnston County Board of Education
meets next Tuesday, March 12
Open business session at 4 p.m.
Public comment session at 6 p.m.
Evander S. Simpson Building, 2320 U.S. 70 Business East, Smithfield
The agenda was not published by the Sun's "press time" on Thursday;
however, this link will lead you to it once it's posted online>

7th Street Marketplace & The Chicken Barn

  Market Street (US 70 Business) at 7th Street, Downtown Smithfield

County Commissioners pledge funds

for police officers at all middle schools

Johnston's County Commissioners agreed this week to appropriate $120,820 in the coming year's county budget to match a state grant for seven "school resource officers" to be employed by the Sheriff's Department for duty at middle schools.

Officers are currently in place in middle schools at Smithfield, Four Oaks, Benson, Clayton, and Riverwood --- provided through municipal police departments. The remaining seven schools include Selma, North Johnston, Archer Lodge, Swift Creek, Cleveland, McGee's Crossroads, and Meadow.

The request to commissioners for county funding was made at Monday evening's session by Superintendent of Schools Ross Renfrow, who explained that the state has approved a "two-for-one" matching grant that's "very likely" to be extended for a second year and perhaps beyond that.

Sheriff Bizzell said he would "find a way to get the vehicles and equipment to carry this out" by the opening of next year's school term this summer. "The No. 1 priority of government is public safety," he declared.

Presently, all of Johnston's high schools have "resource officers" in place. The county's elementary schools do not.

READ MORE from Monday's sessions of the County Commissioners>

  real-estate broker


Smithfield Council orders water-rate

study after complaints from citizens

The Smithfield Town Council agreed Tuesday night to bring in a previously trusted consultant to evaluate costs of the town's water service and rates to be paid by all classes of customers before proceeding with expansion of the town's water-treatment plant.

That unanimous decision by council followed repeated complaints from Emma Gemmell and Pam Lampe that Smithfield's water rates are trending higher than necessary to cover the plant's expansion, which they claim isn't needed to serve the town's customers.

"Do we want to subsidize the county or do what's best for the Town of Smithfield?" Mrs. Gemmell asked.

The two women, who reside near the water plant in North Smithfield, believe the town's plant is being enlarged to serve the county's customers at the expense of the town's customers. (The County of Johnston operates its own water plant near Wilson's Mills but continues to purchase water from the Town of Smithfield.)

Councilman Travis Scott made the motion calling for "a further assessment of our water rates" by Utility Financial Solutions, a national firm based in Michigan which the town has used before to evaluate electric and sewer expenses and revenues. "We need to stay competitive with our rates," Mr. Scott said.

He also suggested the town set up a Utilities Advisory Board, including citizens, to review rates and services in the future. Mayor Andy Moore called that "a good idea."

READ MORE from Tuesday's Town Council session>