ONLINE JUNE 6, 2019
Smithfield budget adopted with tax rate
unchanged, meaning higher bills for most
The Smithfield Town Council
adopted its 2019-20 budget Tuesday night without
changing anything previously agreed upon. That includes
retention of the town's property-tax rate of 57 cents
per $100 valuation --- a rate that hasn't been changed
What that means this year is an increase in property-tax
bills for most Smithfield residents and businesses
because of countywide real-estate revaluation. That has
raised overall property values in Smithfield about 10
percent --- more than that for many folks, less for
The Town Council's vote to approve the budget was
unanimous. The new fiscal year begins July 1. Tax bills
will go out later this summer, due to be paid without
penalty early next January.
MORE about the budget and other decisions at
EXHIBIT OPENS AT AVA GARDNER MUSEUM
"Ava: My Real Story"
is the title of a new exhibit unveiled last Friday
evening at a reception opening the weekend's Ava
Gardner Festival. Museum Director Lynell Seabold
(left) stands with Johnston County Visitors Bureau
Director Donna Bailey-Taylor beside an electronic
"interactive kiosk" that enables visitors to scroll
through a gallery of photographs and information about
the late movie star who grew up the rural Brogden
community east of Smithfield. Lynell gave Donna
credit for coming up with the new exhibits' concept. For
more information, visit the museum's website>
County Commissioners hear from citizens
hoping to avoid higher property-tax bills
During a public hearing on the
proposed 2019-20 county budget Monday morning,
Johnston's County Commissioners heard from three citizens questioning the need
for higher property taxes recommended by County Manager
Bart Bloom of Parkridge Drive, Clayton complained about
a story that appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer
which, he said, misled readers into believing that the
county's property taxes would not be raised this year.
The story said the property-tax rate would not be raised
with Mr. Hester's proposed budget, remaining at 78 cents
per $100 valuation. What the story failed to point out,
Mr. Boom noted, is that this year's revaluation of real
estate for tax purposes would result in higher bills for
most residents and businesses in Johnston.
That will affect Clayton-area residents more than most
Johnstonians because real-estate market values in
northwestern Johnston have risen considerably more than
values elsewhere in the county.
Kenneth Taylor of Gordon Road near Clayton was more
direct: "Are you looking at a decrease in the tax rate?"
That's "possible," replied Commissioners' Chairman Ted
Godwin. However, he added, "when you have an 8-year
revaluation gap, you tend to fall behind in meeting the
needs." Mr. Godwin was referring to the fact that the
county hasn't increased property taxes since real-estate
revaluation was last conducted in 2011.
Brett McWhorter of Clayton Pointe Drive (off Little
Creek Road not far from the Johnston County Airport)
urged commissioners during Monday's hearing to study
"all possible efficiencies" and "all possible revenue
streams" before making a decision to raise property
will continue their budget deliberations next Monday
(June 10) and the following Monday (June 17). Both of
those meetings will begin at 6 p.m. in the Courthouse.
MORE about the budget hearing and other items of
business addressed by the County Commissioners at
Monday's morning and evening sessions>
Smithfield Middle, 7
principals for 2019-20
The Johnston County Board of
Education, following a closed session on personnel
matters last Thursday, approved new contracts that
moved current staff members into principals'
positions at eight schools.
LaShunda Faison will be the new principal at
Smithfield Middle July 1, succeeding Heather Anders,
who is moving to North Johnston Middle as its
principal. Ms. Faison is currently an assistant
principal at Smithfield Middle.
MORE about that and other items from
the board's May 30 session>
County sells school bonds: $20 million
The County of Johnston on Tuesday sold
$20 million of general-obligation bonds authorized by
voters last November for the county's public schools.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch was lowest of 11 bidders
offering a 20-year interest rate of 2.46%.
"The county's strong credit ratings and several other
factors played into this successful sale," said County
Manager Rick Hester. "Those factors include, but are not
limited to, financial policies the Board of
Commissioners put in place, the impressive job the
county's finance team does, and a vibrant local economy.
Plus, it didn't hurt that interest rates have recently
The $20 million is needed now to pay for construction of
additional classrooms at Corinth-Holders High School,
security vestibules at a number of schools, and purchase
of a new elementary-school site east of Flowers
Crossroads. It's the first installment of $76 million in
bond issues approved by Johnston's voters last fall for
public schools and Johnston Community College.
Free summer meals at some schools
Johnston County Public Schools will
offer free meals during the summer month to children
teens 18 and younger through USDA Food and Nutrition
Services. West Smithfield Elementary is one of four
schools where breakfast and lunch will be served
Monday-Thursday starting next week (June 10) and
continuing through August 8. Serving times are 8-8:30
and 11:30-12:30. The other schools participating are
Selma Elementary, Micro Elementary, and Cooper Academy.
Street (US 70 Business) at 7th Street, Downtown Smithfield
7th Street Marketplace & The Chicken Barn
Smithfield's population is
U.S. Census estimate
Smithfield's population continues to
show modest gains from year to year. The latest U.S.
Census estimate just released --- for July 1, 2018 ---
is 12,669. That's a gain of 1,703 since the 2010 Census.
That pales in comparison to what's going on in Clayton,
where the 2018 estimate is 22,850 residents --- a gain
of almost 42% above its 2010 Census count of 16,116.
Johnston County's population, according to the latest
estimate, is 202,675 --- a gain of 20% above 168,878
registered in 2010.
KS Bank ranks 31st
Business North Carolina Magazine's
annual ranking of banks and credit unions based in North
Carolina ranks KS Bank of Smithfield as the 31st
largest. That's based on 2018 revenue of $16.4 million.
The bank's net income was $4.1 million, total assets
amounted to $400.1 million, and deposits totaled $330.8
The largest N.C.-based bank is Bank of America,
headquartered in Charlotte. Second is BB&T of
Winston-Salem. First Citizens Bank, founded in
Smithfield and now headquartered in Raleigh, ranked
third. The State Employees Credit Union ranked fourth.
Garden open for business
The revived Smithfield Community
Garden was officially opened to the public with a
ribbon-cutting ceremony last Saturday morning.
Folks are now welcome to come by and pick ripe
vegetables to take home. Payments will be collected with
an "honor system."
The Community Garden is located on South Fifth Street
beside Spring Branch between Church and Woodall streets.
MORE about it on today's FEATURE PAGE>
WHAT'S COMING UP?
A rundown of upcoming civic and cultural opportunities
in our community
that we've been told about or seen publicized in other
COMMUNITY BLOOD DRIVE June 18
from 10:30 a.m. till 3 p.m. at the Johnston County
Health Department at 517 N. Bright Leaf Blvd.
Appointments may be made at redcrossblood.org by
entering sponsor code "Smithfield" at the upper
right-hand corner of the opening page.
JUNIOR LEAGUE GALA June 22 to
benefit the Smithfield Rescue Mission's "Blessing
Baskets" program for needy families. The event begins
at 7 p.m. at The Farm at 95. Tickets are $65 each and
include an open beer and wine bar. For more
information and to purchase tickets, visit www.jwlsmithfield.com.
MY KID'S CLUB SUMMER CAMP July 8-19 at South
Smithfield Elementary School. It's open to the first
50 kids ages 6-12 who submit an application from a
child's teacher, the office at South Smithfield
School, or by contacting Mamie Moore, director of
operations for My Kid's Club: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or
DEATHS & FUNERALS
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.
PHILLIP JAMES THOMAS SR., 72 - died June
WILLENA M. CAMPBELL, 92 - died May 31
DONALD JACKSON OLIVER, 72
died May 29
THAT'S THE WAY IT WAS
Here's how Smithfield's train station appeared around
1970, not long before its demolition. Built in the late
19th Century after the railroad arrived here, its purple
signage and trim was standard for the Atlantic Coast
Line Railroad, which operated passenger trains on a
double-track main line through Johnston County during
the first half of the 20th Century. Until the late
1960s, two of those trains, numbers 80 northbound and 89
southbound, made stops at Smithfield while all the
others running between Richmond and Florida whizzed on
by, some of them stopping at nearby Selma, where the
passenger depot was saved for Amtrak trains that serve
it today as the stop for "Selma-Smithfield." (Photo
from the editor's collection)