PUBLISHED ONLINE MAY 9, 2019

Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted


OPEN THIS WEEK'S "INSIDE" PAGES
SPORTS & RECREATION: Looking ahead to summer activities
FEATURE PAGE: "What's That Yam Thing?" winners
OPINIONS: Public hearings are for the public
Johnston County Commissioners' May 6 sessions
Smithfield Town Council's May 7 session





Photo courtesy of Brian Eaves, Town of Smithfield

A "BLESSING BOX" FOR PERSONS IN NEED

The Junior Women's League of Smithfield has installed the first of several drop-off and pick-up stations providing non-perishable food items and toiletries for needy persons. It's located in front of the Smithfield Fire Station on South Fourth Street. The "Blessing Box" project is being done by the league's "provisional class," which plans to set up similar stations at the Selma and Thanksgiving fire departments as well as locations in Princeton and Clayton. On hand for a ribbon-cutting at the Smithfield station last Saturday were Mayor Andy Moore and league representatives (left to right) Kandice Nylin, Morgan Estes, Kathy Colby, Dawn Phipps, Kaitlyn Sproles, and Emily Johnson.



How stands the health of Johnstonians?

Here's a new report with some answers


Johnston's County Commissioners received a Community Health Needs Assessment report from Johnston's Health Department at Monday's monthly meeting. Here's what the data, assembled this past year, tells us about our collective physical condition:

• A survey based on a sample of 1,151 Johnstonians ranked drugs and substance abuse as the issue most affecting our quality of life. Right behind that is low income and poverty.

• Access to health services in Johnston lags behind the state as a whole: 30.2 primary-care providers per 100,000 population here --- 70.6 statewide; 86.2 mental-health providers per 100,000 here --- 215.5 statewide; 22.5 dentists per 100,000 here --- 54.7 statewide.

• The age-adjusted death rate due to heart disease is 199 per 100,000 population in Johnston, compared to a rate of 161.3 for all of North Carolina. The rate for stroke here is 41.9 deaths per 100,000, a little less than the rate of 43.1% for the entire state. The age-adjusted death rate for lung cancer is 56.4 per 100,000 here, 50.7 statewide. The death rate for influenza and pneumonia is 15.9 in Johnston, below the death rate of 17.8 statewide.


• 87.1% of persons up to age 64 have some type of health insurance coverage (everyone 65 and over should be covered by Medicare). That leaves almost 13% of Johnstonians 64 and younger uninsured. For North Carolina as a whole, that number is closer to 12%.

READ MORE data from a summary provided by Dr. Marilyn Pearson, Johnston County's director of public health>

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




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MOTHER'S DAY
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HAM & YAM: TASTY, AND EDUCATIONAL

Fred Dees and Tres McAdams of the Smithfield Kiwanis Club carry on a tradition that has continued without interruption since the first Ham & Yam Festival in 1985 --- even when it rained --- and that's frying country ham for biscuits the club sells each year as a fund-raiser. Meanwhile, something new at this year's festival, held last Saturday, was a demonstration of Revolutionary War musket and cannon firing by Adam Young and Tim Langdon of nearby Camp Flintlock. That's a Colonial-era re-enactment service that takes its show on the road to schools as well as historical venues like the riverside Town Commons in Smithfield, which was chartered as a municipality on May 9, 1777 by the first General Assembly of the independent State of North Carolina. That makes today (the 9th) the town's 242nd birthday.


TODAY'S FEATURE PAGE: winners of the "What's That Yam Thing?" contest>




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Smithfield Council hears recommendations regarding recreation, planning, utility fees


Near the end of Tuesday night's regular monthly meeting, the Smithfield Town Council resumed deliberations regarding the town's 2019-20 budget. The council has still not decided what the town's property-tax rate will be in light of this year's real-estate revaluation.

Meanwhile, several department heads are proposing changes in fees to be charged for various activities in the year ahead:

Parks & Recreation Director Gary Johnson proposes eliminating fees for Smithfield residents to use the Sarah Yard Community Center at Smith-Collins Park (local residents are presently charged $2 per day). At the same time, he wants the town to start collecting a fee of 10% from admission charges
to commercial events staged at the Recreation and Aquatics Center.

Planning Director Stephen Wensman seeks an increase of $100 "generally across the board" in fees charged by the town for various planning and permitting services.

Public Utilities Director Ted Credle wants the town to start charging $1,000 per lot for water-line hookups to newly constructed residences. He said the County of Johnston and the Town of Clayton are already charging much more than that for new connections.

Regarding electricity, water, and sewer rates charged residents and businesses, Mr. Credle is recommending no changes at this time.

The council recessed Tuesday's meeting until 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16 to continue working on the new budget.

READ MORE from Tuesday's meeting of the Smithfield Town Council>




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