EDITION issued December 20, 2018
We're almost ready to begin.
The first regularly scheduled edition of our online
newspaper will be e-mailed to you on Thursday, January
3. Subsequent weekly editions will be posted every
Thursday after that.
Receiving this "PREVIEW EDITION" means you're already on
our list of subscribers.
And yes, you'll continue to receive these dispatches
FREE of charge.
We do ask for your help in building our circulation.
Simply forward the link to smithfieldweeklysun.com
to anyone and everyone you know who might be interested
in what we're doing. Be sure to instruct them to sign up
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bottom of this page.
One purpose of this preview edition is to make sure
we're properly connecting to you and to see what needs
tweaking in the electronic composition of this
Your questions and suggestions are always welcome by
e-mailing me: email@example.com.
What's this all about?
For more than a year now, The News & Observer has
deprived us of a local newspaper: first by replacing the
basic content of its Smithfield Herald with "leftovers"
from the N&O's cooking section and then by ceasing
publication of the Herald altogether.
That has hurt our community immeasurably, and me
personally as I was a third-generation editor of the
Herald until 1994, when I voluntarily left the company
(then owned by Raleigh's Daniels family) to "test the
waters" as a free-lance publisher. Who would have
dreamed of the paper's demise in the years that
The Smithfield Herald as we once knew it is gone. What
I'm doing by launching the Smithfield Weekly Sun
won't come close to the Herald many of us remember. But
this is an effort to start the rebuilding process. How
far we can go remains to be seen....
During my early years with The Smithfield Herald,
Rotarian Jim White recruited me to be a volunteer bell
ringer for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign at Christmastime.
As you can see here, I'm still
doing it along with other members of the present-day
Rotary Club that Jim established.
Another Christmas tradition of bygone Herald days was
publication of the famous Yes Virginia There Is a
Santa Claus editorial from The New York Sun
in 1897 --- a monumental piece about faith that
transcends the Jolly Ole Elf. Here's a link to the content of that
in Downtown Smithfield
Here's a present-day view along
Market Street looking westward toward the Community
Christmas Tree in the Public Library's courtyard and
the Johnston County Heritage Center (the original home
office of First Citizens Bank):
By the way, the Town of Smithfield has
installed a real-time "webcam" atop Town Hall at the
corner of Market and Fourth streets. Here's a YouTube link to the camera's
live streaming. Like the photo above, the camera's
view is also westward.
When flooding blocks the Greenway
The view below of the Buffalo Creek Greenway was
recorded beside Buffalo Road at noontime on Wednesday of
this week, when the Neuse River level at Smithfield was
measured at 14.44 feet, just below the official "flood
level" of 15 feet. Despite frequent alerts put out by
the National Weather Service, flooding at Smithfield
isn't much of a problem (other than putting portions of
the Greenway under water) until the river rises well
beyond a depth of 20 feet (Hurricane Matthew produced a
record depth of 29 feet here). You can track real-time
readings of the Neuse at Smithfield on a web page
maintained by the Weather Service. It provides current
river levels as well as projections a few days ahead
that proved to be highly accurate during Hurricane
Florence and other recent rain events. That web page
also lists historical high-water marks here going back
to 1908! Click here to go directly to that page.
Earlier school start next summer?
The Johnston County Board of Education voted unanimously
at its monthly meeting last week to seek permission from
the N.C. General Assembly to open the 2019-20 school
term earlier than the August 26 date required statewide.
For 2018-19, Johnston County Schools have shortened the
fall semester to end before Christmas, adding the "lost
time" to the spring semester to meet the total number of
instructional days required by the state for the entire
school year. Through "local legislation" adoprted by the
General Assembly, school systems can secure a waiver
from a rule that the fall semester start no earlier than
the Monday closest to the 26th of August. Johnston's
school board didn't specify a starting date in their
request for the waiver but did recommend that next
year's calendar "mirror" the opening of fall-semester
classes at Johnston Community College. August 15 was
opening day at JCC last summer.
Local government coverage crucial
Full coverage of our local governing boards will be the
initial focus of the Smithfield Weekly Sun. That means
attendance by this reporter at all meetings of the
Smithfield Town Council, the Johnston County Board of
Commissioners, and the County Board of Education ---
from beginning to end. We haven't had media coverage
even close to upholding that standard for at least a
Toward that goal, the first edition of the Weekly Sun
two weeks from now will include published agendas for
meetings the following week: the County Commissioners on
Monday, January 7; the Board of Education and the Town
Council on Tuesday, January 8. The Weekly Sun's edition
of January 10 will give you a complete report on the
proceedings of those three boards.
What's coming after all that?
Other coverage priorities of the Weekly Sun will be
additional items neglected by the region's shrinking
public media in recent years: school activities
including sports, honors and awards for outstanding
citizens, news about locally owned and operated
businesses, community-betterment efforts by churches and
civic organizations. And yes, we'll be providing a
"public forum" for opinions from responsible readers
about topics of local concern in addition to weekly
commentary from the editor.
All of this will help fulfill an important long-term
mission of community newspapers to publish what many
have called "the first draft of history." Smithfield and
its citizens have many important stories to share, but
what good are they if the public knows them not?
--- Wingate Lassiter
For more information about our community,
including links to local government websites as well
as links to current economic data, obituaries, the
weather, upcoming events, and other stuff, visit our
"online newspaper parent" via the link shown above.
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