Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted

FEATURE PAGE: Church organist since '65
SPORTS & RECREATION: SSS hosts Special Olympics
OPINIONS: Handel's Messiah was written for Easter
Smithfield Town Council sessions of April 11 & 15

Community sunrise service at 6:30 a.m.

Easter Sunday at Sunset Memorial Park
(US 70 Business @ NC 210 intersection)

Good Friday closings

Public schools and state, county, and municipal offices are CLOSED; banks, post offices, federal agencies are OPEN.

After revaluation, will property-tax rates

be adjusted downward, or stay the same?

Now that April 15 is behind us --- and federal and state income taxes have been calculated for last year and estimated for the year ahead --- the next big tax question around here is what will local property taxes look like for 2019?

The answer will come during the next month or so as Johnston County's Board of Commissioners and Smithfield's Town Council figure out what's to be included in their budgets for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

Neither of those boards has decided on tax rates during early rounds of budget talks.

The Smithfield Council met twice during the past week to work through budget proposals with Town Manager Mike Scott, who said at last Thursday's session that the town's current property-tax rate of 57 cents per $100 valuation would need to be "just under" 54 cents to be "revenue neutral" after the county completes the revaluation process, now in the appeals mode.

Smithfield's tax rate has remained at 57 cents since 2003, when it was reduced from 63 cents following countywide revaluation that year. The rate remained the same after revaluation in 2011, in effect producing a tax increase for Smithfield property owners.

READ MORE from the Town Council's budget sessions of April 11 & 15>

"Trusted by families since 1977"

A church organist for half a century

Thad Hardee began playing the organ for services at Smithfield's First Baptist Church in 1965, a year after graduating from high school here.

He's not the principal organist at First Baptist these days, but he's still playing there, and at three other churches, as a frequent substitute for special occasions.

Thad is a "product" of Smithfield's legendary piano teacher Flora Canaday.

READ MORE on today's Feature Page>

Highway 70 West Business  •  919-934-1174  •


These folks were recognized by Johnston County's  Partnership for Children at last Friday's "Champions" breakfast for their "significant achievements as individuals and local businesses who are committed to quality early experiences for young children": (left to right) in front --- Dana Wooten, State Representative Donna White, Colleen & Nate Roby, Mamie Moore, Brittney & Larry DiBartolo, Tommie Biggins, Marty Clayton, Partnership Executive Director Dwight Morris; in back --- Regina Smith, Earl Worley for KS Bank, Chris Key, Jeanelle McCain, Tim Johnson, Chuck Elliott, and Mae Rice.
(Partnership for Children photo)

READ MORE about their contributions to the Partnership>

212 E. Church Street  •  919-934-1121 

ECU honors Smithfield professor

Smithfield's Johna Lee Faulconer (left), an associate professor in the College of Education at East Carolina University, has received an award "for her commitment and enthusiasm in teaching and mentoring off-campus students" and "demonstrated excellence in the delivery of courses offered through distance education."

The award is named in honor of Max Ray Joyner (center), former chair of the ECU Board of Trustees. Also pictured is Regis M. Gilman (right), executive director of ECU's Office of Academic Outreach, Continuing and Distance Education.

Dr. Faulconer teaches in the College of Education's Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, and History Education. Nominees for the Joyner award must receive student recommendations and peer reviews and provide samples of course syllabi, tests, and teaching materials. (East Carolina University photo)

7th Street Marketplace & The Chicken Barn

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

SSS grad runs the Boston Marathon

Gwyn Reece, a 2018 graduate of Smithfield-Selma High School who's now a freshman at Duke University, ran the Boston Marathon on Monday, finishing the 26.2 miles in 3 hours, 36 minutes, 36 seconds.

The daughter of Michael and Mary Reece
of Smithfield, Gwyn competed on the SSS cross-country team. She ran in Boston after qualifying on her own.

Her grandparents are Earl and Julia McCullers, formerly of Smithfield.

A professional photographer captured Gwyn's determination during the race.

MORE about athletic achievements on the SPORTS & RECREATION PAGE>

141 E. Market Street  •  919-934-0553 

SSS ProStart winners advance to nationals

Among 52 Johnston County students in Career and Technical Student Organizations who will advance to national competition in the next few months are members of the ProStart Management team at Smithfield-Selma High School: (left to right) Andrew Fitch, Maniya Mozingo, teacher advisor Brenda Lillard, Ky'ra Joyner, and Aimee Perryman. Finishing first in state competition, their team planned a restaurant from the ground up --- named "Flippin' Fire" and located inside an old fire house. Their plan included facility design, menu, staff, and marketing. The SSS team got an assist from chef Teddy Diggs, a recognized industry leader who volunteered as their mentor.
(Johnston County Public Schools photo)



Each week we'll post links to obituaries about persons who have died during the past week. We'll 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.



KENNETH HUBERT WOOD, 88 - died April 13

  real-estate broker