Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted

SPORTS & RECREATION: New dog park officially open
FEATURE PAGE: Ham & Yam schedule & sponsors
OPINIONS: Unproductive partisan politics
School board's budget session of April 29
Town Council's budget session of April 30

Teacher supplement increase a priority

in coming year's local budget for schools

Members of the Johnston County Board of Education want an increase in teacher salary supplements at the top of the list of new funding requests in Superintendent Ross Renfrow's proposed local budget for fiscal 2019-20.

His proposal adds 1% across the board to current supplements. The price tag is $1.4 million, part of a $21.1-million increase in school funding sought from Johnston's County Commissioners in the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

The school board met in special session Monday evening to go over the proposed budget with Dr. Renfrow. The session lasted less than an hour, and no changes were made in the numbers he presented. Formal budget adoption by the school board is expected at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 14.

The County Commissioners will make decisions about the schools' request and other county budget items, including the new year's property-tax rate, in June.

READ MORE from Monday's school-budget session>

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But in a positive way with Saturday's official opening of the town's new Second Street Dog Park. In this photo are contestants lining up for a "Best Dressed" contest.

READ & SEE MORE about the event on the Sports & Recreation Page>

Smithfield Council considers contributions

to non-profits, including local schools

Most of Tuesday evening's budget session of the Smithfield Town Council was spent listening to funding requests for Fiscal 2019-20 from 13 non-profit agencies, including six local schools:
• Annie D. Jones Child Enrichment Fund --- $3,000 (same as this year).
• Ava Gardner Museum --- $25,000 (up from $22,000 this year).
• Community & Senior Services --- $3,500 (same as this year).
• Downtown Smithfield Development Corp. --- $55,000 (same as this year).
• Harbor, Inc. --- $2,500 (same as this year).
• Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield --- $270,474 (up from $250,000).
• Triangle East Chamber of Commerce --- $4,000 (same as this year).
• Innovation Academy at South Campus --- $3,500 (a new request).
• Neuse Charter School --- $1,000 (same as this year).
• Smithfield-Selma High School --- $1,000 (same as this year).
• Smithfield Middle School --- $1,000 (same as this year).
• South Smithfield Elementary School --- $1,000 (same as this year).
• West Smithfield Elementary School --- $1,000 (same as this year).
The Town Council deferred decisions on those requests until further budget deliberations later this month. The town's 2019-20 budget must be adopted by July 1.

READ MORE from Tuesday's town-budget session>

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Members of the extended Ennis family attending last weekend's celebration included (left to right) Darryl Ennis, Roderick Ennis, Deloris Ennis, Donna Horton, Carolyn Ennis, Adrienne Grantham, Audrey Baine, Daniyah Humphrey, and Aria Baine.

Historic African-American gymnasium

is now the Coach Reginald Ennis Pavilion

A two-day celebration last weekend marked the official re-naming of the refurbished Johnston Central High School gymnasium in East Smithfield as the "Coach Reginald Ennis Pavilion."

The event was a tribute to a beloved coach and teacher who served Johnston County's public schools almost 40 years, including the transition from segregated campuses to integration and consolidation of our local schools.

The weekend's activities were hosted by the Johnston Central Alumni Association, which purchased the 1937 gymnasium in 1983 after it had fallen into despair following the closure of Johnston Central High in 1969.

Mr. Ennis was a graduate of that high school, known in those days as Johnston County Training School (JCTS). Following a stellar basketball career at North Carolina College in Durham (today's North Carolina Central University) he returned home to teach and coach at JCTS in 1946, where he made his mark over the next 22 years.

He joined his wife, Carolyn, as a teacher at partially integrated Smithfield High School in 1968-69 before moving over to consolidated Smithfield-Selma Senior High School, where he began coaching basketball once more. In 1970 he was elevated to an assistant principal's position at SSS, where he remained until his retirement in 1985. He died in 1994.

During his playing days at North Carolina College, Reginald Ennis got the nickname "Hawk," a moniker that followed him home to JCTS, where the basketball team under his guidance became known as "The Mighty Hawks."

The weekend's dedication activities spotlighted a number of his players who returned to pay tribute to Coach Ennis, including Alfred (Al) Heartley, the first African-American basketball captain for the N.C. State "Wolfpack," in 1970-71.


Johnston County Public Schools recognized "Volunteers of the Year" at the annual PTA/PTO Council Meeting Banquet April 16. Pictured with Superintendent of Schools Ross Renfrow: (left to right) Billy Lassiter from Smithfield-Selma High, third runner-up; Cindy Cole, River Dell Elementary, first runner-up; Sarah Poling, McGee's Crossroads Elementary, "Adult Volunteer of the Year"; Angela Clinard, West Clayton Elementary, second runner-up; and Edward Olive, South Johnston High, third runner-up. Others honored from local schools:  ADULT ---- Janet Costa, Smithfield Middle; Aly Carey, South Smithfield Elementary; Lisa Bombardier, West Smithfield Elementary; Shannon Macedo, Wilson's Mills Elementary; Charles Brewer, Innovation Academy at South Campus; YOUTH --- Brittany Stanley, Smithfield-Selma High; Aniya Williams, Smithfield Middle; Rafael Fuentes-Reyes, South Smithfield Elementary; Diana Herrera-Hernandez, West Smithfield Elementary; Alex Torres Diaz, Wilson's Mills Elementary; and Sarah Beth Williamson, Innovation Academy at South Campus.

(Johnston County Public Schools photo)

Don't forget

MAY 12!


Johnston County Board of Commissioners
10 a.m. & 6
p.m. Monday,
May 6
Johnston County Courthouse, 207 E. Market Street, Smithfield
• At the morning session,
the board will receive the Health Department's annual "Community Health Needs Assessment" report and will be asked to approve Health Department fees for 2020.
• At the evening session the board will hold a public hearing on an Economic Development Incentive Grant for an unnamed "warehouse/distribution center in an underdeveloped area of the county." Hearings will also be held on two rezoning petitions: one in Cleveland Township, the other in Meadow Township.
View the full agendas for both sessions>

Smithfield Town Council
7 p.m. Tuesday,
May 7
Town Hall, 350 E. Market Street, Smithfield
Among items on the agenda:
• Public hearing on a request from Daniel Evans for a special-use permit for a U-Haul rental facility on the east side of South Bright Leaf Boulevard just north of its intersection with Wellons Street.
• Public hearing on a request
from Xtra Mile Motors for a special-use permit for an automobile dealership on the north side of West Market Street 500 feet east of its intersection with Highway 210.
• Public hearing on a request from Hilce Sierra for a special-use permit for a residential dwelling on property within a B-2 (business) zoning district on the east side of South Seventh Street just south of its intersection with Woodall Street.
• A decision on Bonnie Godwin's request for a special-use permit for a residential dwelling in an O/I (Office/Institutional) zoning district on the north side of North Street just east of its intersection with Seventh Street. A public hearing on her request was conducted last month.

View the full agenda with supporting documents>


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.

BONITA KAY (BONNIE) VANN CAPPS, 67 - died April 30

WALTER RAY PERRY, 75 - died April 27

ROBERT LEE DEANS, 72 - died April 25

ALICE FAYE THORNTON POPE, 79 - died April 25

US 301 South, Smithfield  •  919-934-8913  •