Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted

Pastor Lee Colbert marks 40 years at First Baptist
SRAC joins "World's Largest Swimming Lesson"
A weekly celebration of our musical heritage

Fireworks Sunday, neighborhood parade Thursday highlight Smithfield's celebration

Downtown Smithfield will celebrate the Fourth this Sunday (June 30) on South Third Street from 6 to 9 p.m. with the Carolina Soul Band, games and activities (including "water wars"), food trucks, and fireworks, of course.

Next Thursday the actual Fourth at 10 a.m., a South Smithfield neighborhood will conduct the 26th edition of its annual parade that's open to anyone who wants to join in, whether it's older kids on bicycles, younger children in wagons and strollers, adults "marching" on foot --- decorated appropriately for the patriotic occasion. Hosted by Evans and Patricia Horne and Emery and Kim Ashley, it begins at 1206 Crescent Drive not far from South Smithfield Elementary School. Cookies and lemonade will be served at the conclusion of the procession.

Local government meetings delayed one week: Both the Johnston County Board of Commissioners and the Smithfield Town Council have postponed their monthly meetings because of the Fourth holiday. The County Board will meet Monday, July 8 (instead of July 1) and the Town Council will meet Tuesday, July 9 (instead of July 2).



New trees have been planted in honor

of First Baptist's long-standing pastor

Lee Colbert, who has served Smithfield's First Baptist Church as pastor since 1985 (after six years as associate pastor), stands with one of two "coral bark" maple trees planted earlier this month in place of two large, decaying oaks that had to be removed. An accompanying placard "sanctifies" the trees in honor of his 40 years of service to the congregation.

READ MORE about his service as pastor here on today's FEATURE PAGE>

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Drone photo courtesy of Sysco's Zak Lokken


Sysco's food storage and distribution center at Selma has undergone an expansion that pushes the facility's size to 500,000 square feet and local employment to more than 380. The expansion added 75,000 square feet to the "dry" storage warehouse and another 46,000 square feet to "freezer" components. Although the company's designation here is "Sysco Raleigh," the plant is actually located within the town limits of Selma, beside the US 70 Smithfield Bypass just east of Buffalo Road. At a ribbon-cutting event last Friday, Selma's Mayor Cheryl Oliver called Sysco "a shining star in our business community." It opened here in 2006 with about 130 employees. More than 50 of them are still on the job, according to Tom Woods, Sysco Raleigh's president. Sysco Corporation distributes food products to more than 600,000 restaurants, health-care and educational institutions, and other bulk-buying customers from 330 centers worldwide. Its headquarters are in Houston, Tex.


From Johnston's
Economic Development Office, here's the latest list (from 2018) of the county's largest industries (by levels of employment): Grifols at Clayton (1,000+ employees), Novo Nordisk at Clayton (1,000+), Caterpillar at Clayton (500-999), Flanders Precisionaire at Smithfield (250-499); Sysco Raleigh at Selma (250-499); Airflow Products at Selma (250-499); 3C Packaging at Clayton (250-499); OPW Fueling Containment at Smithfield (100-249). Johnston's largest public-sector employers (each with 1,000+ on the job) are the County of Johnston, Johnston County Public Schools, and Johnston Health.

County reports sewage spill at Smithfield

The Central Johnston County wastewater collection system had a discharge of untreated sewage on June 20-21 of an estimated 84,000 gallons from a force main in the vicinity of 101 NC 210 at Smithfield (near US 70 Business).

The untreated wastewater discharged into the Neuse River and into a pond that drains into the Neuse River. The spill was caused by an air-release-valve failure. The spill was reported to the Johnston County Department of Utilities at 10:30 p.m. on June 20 and ended at 3:30 a.m. on June 21.

The Division of Water Resources was notified of the event and is reviewing the matter. For more information, contact the Johnston County Public Utilities Department at 919-989-5075.

News item above from the County of Johnston

EDITOR'S NOTE: The sewage discharge into the Neuse River occurred downstream from the Town of Smithfield's water-treatment plant.

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

Photo from Junior Women's League of Smithfield


The Junior Women's League of Smihfield raised $15,000 for the Smithfield Rescue Mission from their annual "Big Night Out Gala" held last Saturday. "We were overwhelmed by the support of over 60 local businesses and community members to make our fund-raising goal a reality," stated Meredith Fordham and Jessica Davis, co-chairs of the event. The Smithfield Rescue Mission was established in 1977 to help local persons in need. Its largest outreach is a service called "Blessing Baskets," which delivers boxes, bags, and baskets of food to families and individuals in distress. The Junior League's $15,000 donation will be used to purchase food and hire a part-time driver for deliveries. Since its start in 2016, the Junior Women's League of Smithfield has donated more than $71,000 and contributed more than 7,600 volunteer hours to a number of local service organizations. Visit the Junior League website to learn more about its work and how to become a member>

First Missionary Baptist, Johnston 4-H hosting food-collection event Saturday

Women's Heart to Heart and Christian Education Ministries at First Missionary Baptist Church in collaboration with Johnston County Cooperative Extension are hosting a "Stomp Out Food Insecurities" food drive and community outreach event this Saturday (June 29) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the church grounds at North Fourth and Caswell streets in Smithfield.

Non-perishable food items, including healthy snacks for kids, will be collected "to assist those who are experiencing episodes and cycles of disruption in food intake as a result of limited resources."

The event will also feature a free water slide and free hot dogs and hamburgers for all comers as well as music and games. Cooperative Extension 4-H staff and alumni will provide information and demonstrations on growing and making healthy foods.

In honor of the late William H. (Bill) Clayton (pictured at right) --- beloved 4-H agent in Johnston County and a former deacon at First Missionary Baptist --- a tree will be planted in his memory on the church grounds during a ceremony at 11:30 a.m.


Another "Creature"

sighting reported

Jeanene Bowman reports another sighting of the "Creature of Spring Branch": in late May in the backyard of her residence across Riverside Drive from Spring Branch.

It's believed to be a groundhog --- an animal not usually associated with Eastern North Carolina, at least not in years gone by.

Be on the lookout for it. And try to get a photo if you can. Jeanene thinks there may be "several" of these roaming around the neighborhood!
(The photo above is the one Kelley Garris submitted to us earlier.)
--- Wingate Lassiter

A rundown of upcoming civic and cultural opportunities in our community
that we've been told about or seen publicized in other media:

DOWNTOWN SMITHFIELD INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION coming early this year: on Sunday (June 30) from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on South Third Street with music, food trucks, and fireworks (which may start sooner than 9:00 because of weather).

SOUTH SMITHFIELD NEIGHBORHOOD PARADE at 10 a.m. next Thursday, the Fourth of July. The 26th annual parade starts at 1206 Crescent Drive and is open to all comers as either participants or spectators.

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 or telephone 919-351-1559.

MUSIC FOR THE LUNCH BUNCH SERIES continues takes a holiday next week, then resumes Wednesday, July 10 at 12:15 p.m. at Smithfield's First Presbyterian Church with a performance by Jim Grant and Isaac Bruton, vocals and piano. View the full series schedule>