Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted

FEATURE PAGE: a visit to the Neuse River "greenway" trail
OPINIONS: Making progress on the recreation front
SPORTS & RECREATION: Easter Egg hunt this Sunday
Johnston County Board of Education's April 9 session

Photo from Susan Lassiter


Members of Smithfield's Down-to-Earth Garden Club brought their artwork to this week's meeting to serve as models for floral arrangements to be delivered to the SECU Hospice House. "Art in Bloom" was the theme of Tuesday's program. Admiring a creation by Linda Ridout are Ann Stephenson (left) and Bonnie Wilkinson. Organized in 1975, the 27-member club is led by president Rodney Sawrey.

Teresa Daughtry   919.585.5327 (D)

     Principal / Broker         919.669.4748 (C)

Superintendent's "draft" budget calls

for $10.7 million more for schools

Superintendent of Schools Ross Renfrow, at Tuesday's meeting of the Johnston County Board of Education, handed out a proposed budget for 2019-20 that calls for an increase in local spending of $10,757,151 to operate Johnston's public schools --- from $72,353,409 this fiscal year to $83,109,560 in the year ahead.

Much of that increase would cover a "projected" 5% salary hike for teachers and other employees. The final number will depend on what the N.C. General Assembly does regarding teacher salaries in putting together the state's budget this spring.

Dr. Renfrow's proposal adds 1% to local salary supplements and 2% bonuses for teachers in "restart" (or "low performing") schools, "based on student growth."

His proposal calls for an additional $20 million in county appropriations after eliminating "fund balance" contributions used to cover the current local budget for schools.

Capital requests were not included in the "draft" he gave board members Tuesday. And no discussion of the proposed budget was heard at Tuesday's session.

The school board will meet at 5 p.m. Monday, April 29 to begin work on a final budget proposal that must be submitted to Johnston's County Commissioners by May 15.
The commissioners, in turn, must adopt the county's 2019-20 budget, including school appropriations, by the start of the new fiscal year July 1.

View Superintendent Renfrow's proposed budget in detail>

Contract awarded for 24-classroom

addition at Corinth Holders High School

The school board awarded
a $5,822,000 contract for construction of 24 classrooms at Corinth Holders High School, already the county's largest with 1,928 students.

Wimco Corporation of Washington, N.C. was the low bidder at $153 per square foot, which is "well under" the project's budget, the board was told. Wimco was the contractor that built Corinth Holders High, which opened in 2010.

The money for the addition comes from the $76-million bond issue approved by Johnston's voters last November.

Enrollment numbers for the rest of Johnston's high schools (in descending order): Clayton 1,786; Cleveland 1,693; West Johnston 1,435; Smithfield-Selma 1,319;
South Johnston 1,267; Princeton (Middle/High combined) 986; North Johnston 797.

READ MORE from Tuesday's school board session>


Johnston County Public Schools photo


Four new members have been inducted into the Johnston County Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame: (left to right) Brian Honeycutt, a football standout at South Johnston High School (Class of 1992) and UNC-Chapel Hill; Margaret Lee, representing her late husband Phil Lee, a Meadow High (Class of 1966) all-conference basketball player who coached women's basketball champions at Vanderbilt University as well as a high school in Hampton, Va.; Johnny Dutch, a Clayton High (Class of 2007) hurdler who won multiple state and national championships and numerous medals while competing at the University of South Carolina and later as a track-and-field professional; Reggie Barnes, an all-star basketball player at Smithfield-Selma High (Class of 1985) who was the school's first NCAA Division I basketball recruit as a four-year player at UNC-Charlotte.

READ MORE about the four and view a list of previous inductees>

Highway 70 West Business  •  919-934-1174  •

Johnston County Public Schools photo


Johnston County Public Schools had six principals recently complete the year-long Distinguished Leadership Program provided by the N.C. Principals and Assistant Principals Association. Pictured with Superintendent of Schools Ross Renfrow (center) are principals (left to right) Takicey Dunston of Benson Middle School, Laura Makey of South Smithfield Elementary, Ben Williams of North Johnston High, Kelley Johnson of Innovation Academy at South Campus in Smithfield, Bennett Jones of Clayton High School, and Paige Barnes of West Clayton Elementary.

READ MORE about the program>

212 E. Church Street  •  919-934-1121 

Johnston County Industries photo


Smithfield's Carolina Pottery currently employs five clients from Johnston County Industries (JCI), the local "sheltered workshop" for disabled persons who seek employment. One of them is Ramsey Khelifi (center), who started work in January as a pricer at the Outlet Center store. Pictured with him are (left to right) Carolina Pottery supervisor Theresa Skurski, JCI employment specialist Donna Gilmore, store manager John Laughter, and JCI job-support specialist Pearl Sargent.