Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted

SPORTS & RECREATION: "Smithfield-Selma Strong" event
FEATURE PAGE: Sidewalks making a comeback
OPINIONS: N.C. Senate blocks "local control"
School Board's May 14 session

School board adopts budget request

asking county for $20.5-million increase

The Johnston County Board of Education on Tuesday adopted Superintendent Ross Renfrow's proposed local budget totaling $84,062,810 --- an amount that would require an increase of $20,498,958 from the County of Johnston during the new fiscal year that begins July 1.


County Manager Rick Hester's recommended county budget, released this morning (Thursday), includes an appropriation of $66,042,842 for Johnston County Public Schools --- an increase of 3.9% above the current year's appropriation but well short of the school board's request for 2019-2020.

A public hearing on the county budget is scheduled for Monday, June 3. The County Commissioners will begin their public budget deliberations after that.

Here's the manager's budget message in full>

Back to the school board's requested budget:
It adds 1% to local salary supplements paid school teachers, a new 2% supplement for teachers at low-performing schools that show improvement on end-of-grade tests, and funds to employ 53 additional full-time school-bus drivers to reduce the system's reliance on teacher assistants and other employees to cover more than 1,200 routes driven daily.

Across-the-board salary adjustments for all Johnston school employees, including teachers, are based on a 5% increase in state pay granted by the N.C. General Assembly now in session. Approval of raises that high appears uncertain at this point.

During Tuesday's brief discussion of the local school budget, Superintendent Renfrow noted that county funds pay for 275 positions not funded by the state. That number includes 52 classroom teachers, 37 assistant principals, 99 "operations and facilities" personnel who maintain everything from buildings to buses, and other positions beyond state funding allotments.

Here's the complete local-budget request approved Tuesday>

READ MORE from Tuesday's school-board meeting>



Cancer survivors line up for a ceremonial walk around the track at Smithfield-Selma High School during opening moments of Saturday's day-long fund-raising festivities.

Relay for Life cancer fighters raise more than $113,000

Johnston County's 2019 Relay for Life fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society has raised $113,407, according to an online report updated Wednesday.

Saturday's event on the football field at Smithfield-Selma High School was the 25th held here since 1995. That first year raised a modest $44,000 but it quickly grew into what organizers say was the nation's biggest Relay for Life fund-raiser when more than $500,000 was raised in the late 1990s.

For the Johnston County event, the leading individual fund-raiser year after year is Jackie Parrish (pictured), who just turned 92. She and her team of "Friends" raised $10,739 this spring.

Smithfield's First Presbyterian Church placed third in team competition by raising $8,242 this time around.

READ MORE on the Johnston County Relay for Life Facebook page>

Attorney at Law
102 S. Third Street
Downtown Smithfield


Leading the way for South Smithfield School's walkers are (left to right) third-graders Micah Sanders, Drew Webster, Wellons Lee, and second-grader Hyannah Mitchell.
(Photo from South Smithfield School's Facebook page)

Youngsters walk and bike to school

in tune with a nationwide movement

South Smithfield Elementary School celebrated National Walk or Bike to School Day May 8 by organizing a parade of youngsters, accompanied by adult protectors, from the Civitan Baseball Field beside Bright Leaf Boulevard to the school's campus several blocks away.

Since 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School --- a component of the University of North Carolina Safety Research Center --- has been coordinator for these events throughout the nation. Besides this month's "Walk or Bike" event, National Walk to School Day has been observed the first Wednesday in October since 1997 under auspices of the UNC Center's Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

More pictures from May 8 on South Smithfield School's Facebook page>

TODAY'S FEATURE PAGE shows sidewalks are making a comeback here>

  real-estate broker


SSS student serves as page in N.C. Senate

Smithfield-Selma High School's Camryn Barefoot has been serving this week as a Senate Page in the N.C. General Assembly. Her sponsor is State Senator Jim Burgin, who represents portions of Johnston, Harnett, and Lee counties.

According to SSS Principal David Allen, Camryn has interest in pursuing a government career that requires leadership and communication skills.

(Photo from SSS)

Johnston Community College news

• JCC receives $283,800 National Science Foundation grant
   for engineering and biotechnology training
   Read the story on JCC's website>

• JCC receives $200,000 Golden LEAF Foundation grant
   for "specialty care" nursing unit
Read the story on JCC's website>

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

The eastern end of road-widening project

The widening of Booker Dairy Road on a new course to Bright Leaf Boulevard winds up near this point just north of Wal-Mart. What will be the name of this new road? Booker Dairy Road presently runs into Bright Leaf almost a mile southwest of here. This new section is closely parallel to another relatively new street: Ava Gardner Boulevard. No official word at this time on the new road's naming.

Full service printing, graphic design, and promotional products!

1294 W. Market St., Smithfield • 919-934-9036 •


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.

HUBERT THOMAS DeHAVEN, 72 - died May 14


LISA HIX KERSEY, 51 - died May 10

BENNY LEE DEW, 64 - died May 8