Serving Kenly, Selma, Smithfield, Princeton & Pine Level since 1973

News Briefs: Commissioners might rescue public schools

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


SMITHFIELD — Johnston County Commissioners say they are discussing a financial rescue of the county’s public schools.

In a statement on Monday, commissioners said they and school leaders are talking over “a supplemental funding plan for the remainder of this school year.”

“We are confident there will be a resolution soon,” commissioners said.

As they discuss a bailout, commissioners have requested detailed financial information from the schools for the past 12 months.

“In addition, the Board of Commissioners is requesting Johnston County Public Schools and Johnston County government to share detailed financial information with each other on a monthly basis,” the statement said.

The schools have said layoffs are possible if they can’t come up with $8.9 million to close a gap between spending and budgeted revenue.

Crash kills man, injures woman, child

SELMA — One person died and a woman and child were injured in a two-vehicle crash Jan. 8 near Selma, the Highway Patrol reported.

Atlas Glen Willoughby Jr., 59, of Kenly was driving west on Hatcher Road when he failed to stop for the stop sign at N.C. 39, according to the preliminary report of the crash. A 2010 Dodge minivan headed north on N.C. 39 struck Willoughby’s 1989 Ford pickup on the driver’s side as the truck entered the intersection.

Willoughby died at the scene, the report stated. The minivan’s driver, Ashley Dawn Creech, 29, of Selma, suffered minor injuries. Her passenger, a 19-month-old, escaped harm, the report indicated.

Thieves prey on unlocked cars

CLAYTON — The bad news is that over the course of two nights last week, thieves struck 31 unlocked cars in downtown Clayton.

The good news is that, for the most part, they walked away empty-handed, said Stacey Beard, the town’s spokeswoman. “All of the cars were clearly rummaged through, but, thankfully, out of all 31 vehicles, only one wallet was ... reported stolen,” she said.

The unlocked cars were on O’Neil, Stallings, Whitaker, Hinton, Randolph, Kildee, Blanchard, Smith and Hardee streets on Jan. 5-6, Beard said. She asked anyone with home security footage showing suspicious activity to call Clayton police at 919-553-4611.

“Clayton police cannot emphasize enough: Don’t make it easy for thieves,” Beard said. “Always lock your car, even in your driveway. Do not leave valuables in your car. If you have no other option, at least hide them out of sight.”

“We live in a safe community, and the town of Clayton repeatedly ranks among North Carolina’s safest places to live,” Beard added. “However, criminals look for opportunity and will open unlocked car doors and steal items left in plain sight.”

Food hall announces third vendor

SELMA — Old North State Food Hall has announced its third vendor, Barley and Burger, a gourmet burger eatery.

Etaf Rum is the owner of Barley and Burger, which has a restaurant in Rocky Mount, and she’s the author of “A Woman Is No Man,” a New York Times bestseller.

“We are thrilled to be the burger vendor at the nation’s first roadside food hall, serving the quintessential American hamburger with culinary passion and simplicity,” Rum said.

Barley and Burger opened in 2018 and “quickly became a local favorite in Rocky Mount,” said Larry Lane of Lane Property Management, which will operate the food hall.

According to its website, Barley and Burger “serves gourmet, chef-driven burgers; local craft beer; artisan sandwiches; dangerously delicious appetizers; hand spun milkshakes; chopped salads; and more.”

“Our burgers are sourced from the highest quality Black Angus, whole-muscle cuts of short rib and chuck, and they’re produced by world-renowned butcher and chef Pat LaFrieda,” the website adds.

Lane welcomed the eatery to Selma. Rum and her co-owners “have created a special burger and equally special customer experience in their restaurant, and we are thrilled to have them bring both as our hamburger vendor,” he said. “Their passion for preparing high-quality, simple and authentic food and great customer service is perfectly aligned with our vision for the food hall.”

Police cite six clerks for alcohol sales

SMITHFIELD — Police have cited six store clerks for selling alcoholic beverages to minors.

The clerks worked at the following:

• Exxon, 836 W. Market St.

• CITGO, 825 Brogden Road.

• Tienda & Taqueria, 3207 S. Bright Leaf Blvd.

• ABC Store, 417 S. Bright Leaf Blvd.

• Simple Twist Tap Room, 228 E. Market St.

• Carolina Pottery, 1000 Outlet Center Drive.

In a news release, Capt. Ryan Sheppard said police enlisted 19-year-old confidential informants and tasked them with trying to buy alcoholic beverages at 30 stores with off-premise sakes. All had state-issued IDs, he said.

“The informants provided their identification to every clerk who requested it and gave them their correct age if asked by the clerk,” Sheppard said.

At the six places above, the teens were able to buy beer, wine or aliquot, the news release said.

Johnston man sentenced on drug, gun charges

NEW BERN — A federal judge has sentenced a Johnston County man to prison for drug and weapons crimes.

Last February, Glenn Shaw, 43, of Princeton pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine and possessing a firearm while a convicted felon. He had been charged also with possessing a sawed-off shotgun.

The charges followed arrests the previous year in Johnston and Wayne counties.

U.S. District Court Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced Shaw to 14 years and four months in prison.

Club seeking donations of peanut butter

SMITHFIELD — The Junior Women’s League of Smithfield is collecting jars of peanut butter for BackPack Buddies.

The program fills backpacks with kid-friendly food and then, on Fridays, sends the backpacks home with children so they will have food for the weekend.

From 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, the Junior Women’s League will accept donations of peanut butter at the Food Lion on Pritchard Road in Clayton.

With 185 children in the Backpack Buddies program, the club hopes to collect enough peanut butter to give each child one jar a month for the rest of the school year.

The club also has drop boxes at the following locations: the James Bryan Creech Public Library and Quality Care Animal Hospital, both in Four Oaks; the Pink Pineapple Boutique and the Public Library of Johnston County in Smithfield, both in Smithfield; and Revolution Modern Martial Arts in Clayton.

More information is online at

West Johnston Fire Department to buy truck

SMITHFIELD — The Johnston County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 6 gave the West Johnston Fire Department permission to borrow $400,000 to buy a fire truck.

United Community Bank offered the lowest interest rate at 2.95 percent over five years. But commissioners granted the fire department’s request to go with First Citizens, which offered the second lowest rate, 2.98 percent.

West Johnston Fire Chief Jimmy Wilkins said the fire department had enjoyed a long working relationship with First Citizens. “We been with them ever since ’63,” he said.

Over five years, the fire department will pay $300 more with First Citizens than it would have United Community Banking. That’s not a lot of money, but Commissioner Butch Lawter wondered where the county should draw the line.

Commissioner Chad Stewart acknowledged Lawter’s concern, but added, “Relationships matter.”

Lawter was the lone commissioner to vote against going with First Citizens. Commissioner Jeff Carver recused himself because he works for First Citizens.

County to build Archer Lodge water tank

SMITHFIELD — Johnston County commissioners on Jan. 6 agreed to spend $1.735 million to build an elevated water tank in the Archer Lodge community.

The county is seeking a $1.7 million loan from the state to build the 500,000-gallon tank.

State to maintain more county streets

SMITHFIELD — Johnston County commissioners on Jan. 6 added the following to the list of state-maintained streets:

• Edgewood Lane, Fieldsview Drive and Waterpine Drive in Sherrill Place subdivision, Cleveland Township.

• Tuscan Ridge Way, East Copenhaven Driver, West Copenhaven Drive, North Stonehaven Way and Rothes Court in The Vineyards at Tuscany subdivision, Wilders Township.