Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted

SPORTS & RECREATION: "Poocha Palooza" Saturday
FEATURE PAGE: Holt Lake memories, Part 3
OPINIONS: Drowning in plastics pollution?


Thomas Stelling (in the yellow smock) travels up and down the East Coast restoring historical markers and plaques in public places. He was at work last Saturday repainting this marker that stands on the lawn in front of the Johnston County Courthouse. Fabricated from aluminum, it was erected in 1996 by Smithfield's Historical Properties Commission to tell a remarkable story related to the end of the Civil War not long after the bloody Battle of Bentonville in southern Johnston County. David Stephens (pictured), a former member of the Smithfield commission who recently noticed the sign's paint was peeling badly, took it upon himself to employ someone with Mr. Stelling's expertise to carry out the do-over.

While Mr. Stelling was at work, a county employee saw what he was doing and engaged him to repaint the plaque at the base of the World War I monument at the Courthouse. That plaque lists, in gold letters, the 49 Johnstonians who perished in "The Great World War 1917-1919."

Above the plaque is a bronze statue of a soldier in arms that was erected upon completion of the present-day Courthouse in 1921 --- when no one envisioned a Second World War that took the lives of more than 140 Johnstonians.

Mr. Stelling was able to repair both the Sherman sign and the World War I monument before day's end on Saturday. He's a retired newspaper pressman from Daytona Beach, Florida.


Johnston County's population: 202,675

--- a 20% gain since the 2010 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau's latest population estimate puts Johnston County over the 200,000 mark for the first time: 202,674 as of last July 1. That's an increase of almost 34,000 since the 2010 Census was taken --- a gain of 20% in eight years.

The county's population began growing at record levels in 1990, the year Interstate Highway 40 opened into western Johnston from Raleigh and the Research Triangle. The 2000 Census showed a gain of more than 40,000 (almost 50%) during I-40's first decade: from 81,306 to 121,965. The 2010 Census put the county's population at 168,878 --- an increase of almost 47,000 (38%) during that decade.

Neighboring Wake County, meanwhile, has grown from 900,993 in 2010 to 1,092,305, according to the latest Census estimate. That's an increase of almost 200,000 (21%) in less than a decade.

READ MORE Census data about Johnston County>

Teresa Daughtry   919.585.5327 (D)

     Principal / Broker         919.669.4748 (C)

Schools to close May 1 for teachers' rally

Johnston County Public Schools will be closed to students with an optional teacher workday next Wednesday, May 1.

School officials based that decision on the number of teachers, teacher assistants, bus drivers, and other school-system employees who have elected to take leave that day. That number exceeded 500 by the end of last week.

Several schools will open their cafeterias May 1 for breakfast and lunch: West Smithfield Elementary, Selma Elementary, Four Oaks Elementary, Princeton Elementary, Micro Elementary, Corinth-Holders Elementary, and Clayton's Cooper Elementary.

"Trusted by families since 1977"

Saturday is Johnston's Household

Hazardous Waste Collection Day

Anyone with hazardous materials in their household that need to be discarded may get that done, free of charge, from 8 a.m. till 1 p.m. this Saturday (April 27) at the Johnston County Livestock Arena beside the landfill off NC 210 west of Smithfield.

Here's the flyer with details ab
out what materials will be accepted>

Two boards to work on budgets next week

The Johnston County Board of Education will meet in the Simpson Building on US 70 Business East at 5 p.m. Monday (April 29) to begin public deliberations regarding Superintendent Ross Renfrow's "draft" local budget for Johnston's schools.

The Smithfield Town Council will meet in Town Hall at 7 p.m. Tuesday (April 30) for a third time to consider budget options for the fiscal year ahead.

Johnston's County Commissioners won't begin their budget sessions prior to a public hearing June 3 on County Manager Rick Hester's proposal, which he plans to release in the latter part of May.

The new fiscal year for state and local governments in North Carolina begins July 1.

Highway 70 West Business  •  919-934-1174  •

Carolyn Jones (right), receives the Hospice Angel Award from Wanda Johnson, volunteer coordinator for Johnston Health Home Care & Hospice.

Hospital volunteers worth a million bucks with their service

Story & photo from Johnston Health

Their record of service is quite impressive, from awarding scholarships to running gift shops to assisting hundreds of patients a day. In fact, the 214 men and women who volunteer at Johnston Health gave a combined 41,990 hours last year valued at more than $1 million.

During the 39th annual Volunteers Appreciation Luncheon last week, Johnston Health applauded the service
of its volunteers. "You are all critical to the operation and success of our organization," said Chuck Elliott, president and CEO. "We could not do our jobs without you."

Eric Janis, M.D., chairman of Johnston Health's board of directors, unveiled a $1-million "check" representing the value of the volunteers’ hours. "We respect, admire, and appreciate what you do," he said. "You make a difference because you care, because you’re present, and because you know the right things to do and say."

While all of the volunteers received certificates, four were honored with special awards:
Iris Hocutt, a chaplain volunteer, received the Overa S. Stevens Award for faithful service.
Phyllis Toole and B.J. Christensen, hospital volunteers in Smithfield and Clayton, respectively, received the Sue Archambeault Award for "exemplary volunteerism."
Carolyn Jones received the Hospice Angel Award for "lifting spirits, and quietly touching lives."

April Culver, vice president of marketing/communications and strategy, thanked outgoing hospital volunteers' president Gale Cass for her leadership, energy, and initiative. In the nine years since joining the first group of volunteers at Johnston Health Clayton, she has also donated her time to hospice, the Johnston Health Foundation, and as a patient and family advisor.

In addition, retiring volunteers Charles and Pat Wall, Mary Williford, Linda Barefoot, and Margie Gower were honored with donations made in their names to the foundation.

212 E. Church Street  •  919-934-1121