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News Briefs: Newspaper voluntarily closes office

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Newspaper voluntarily closes office

Because of the coronavirus, the Johnstonian News has voluntarily closed its office through Tuesday, March 31.

While the office is closed, the newspaper will continue working to serve its subscribers, readers and advertisers.

• Missed paper/circulation — Call 252-243-5151 for any questions about a subscription.

• Payments — Use the secure drop box next to the newspaper building’s front door to leave payment by cash or check.

• Advertising — Advertisers should contact their sales representative by phone or call the newspaper’s vice president of sales and marketing at 252-265-7858.

• News — Visit JohnstonianNews.com for breaking news updates. Reporters continue to work daily to bring readers the latest local news. To contact the newsroom, call the editor at 919-424-1776.

Clayton closes playgrounds

CLAYTON —The Town of Clayton has closed its playgrounds and park restrooms to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Greenways, trails and parks remain open, the town said in a news release on Sunday.

Clayton Parks and Recreation Department staff were disinfecting playgrounds and restrooms in town parks each morning, the town noted. “And we saw parents practicing frequent hand-washing and sanitizer use with their children,” the town said.

But closing playgrounds and park restrooms will help stave off even further restrictions, the town said.

“I really want to thank everyone for being so great about following the guidelines that are helping slow the spread in our community” said Mayor Jody McLeod. “And it’s because so many people are being cautious that we’re definitely not at the point we feel a stay-at-home order is necessary.”

“We want people to get outside with their children, and we want families to continue getting takeout and supporting our local businesses,” the mayor added. “As long as we keep practicing social distancing and washing our hands frequently, Clayton will get through this.”

The town asked residents to observe the following rules when visiting greenways, park trails and open space:

• Refrain from using parks or trails if sick.

• While on greenways or trails, alert other users of your presence as you pass and step aside to let others pass.

• Observe the minimum recommended social distancing of 6 feet from other individuals. If this isn’t possible, find another area in the park.

State, IRS extend tax-filing deadlines

RALEIGH — The state and federal governments have extended this year’s tax-filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.

“Taxpayers need relief during this difficult time, and my administration is bringing it,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “I will work with both Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature to provide additional help.”

In North Carolina, the extension applies to individual, corporate and franchise taxes, but it comes with a catch. For people who owe the state taxes, interest will start accruing on the money owed starting April 15, unless state lawmakers intervene.

DMV offices offering appointments only

The Driver License Offices in Smithfield and Clayton are now open only by appointment.

To schedule an appointment, call the Division of Motor Vehicles at 919-715-7000. Hold times can be lengthy, and many offices will have a backlog in appointment schedules, the DMV says on its website.

Also, the DMV has suspended all road tests except for the commercial driver’s license and medical reevaluation. For those tests, call for an appointment.

The DMV notes that many of its services are available online at myncdmv.gov.

Smithfield limiting Town Hall access

SMITHFIELD — Smithfield is further restricting access to its Town Hall because of the coronavirus.

Utility customers can still make payments at Town Hall but must do so via a speaker placed in a vestibule at the rear of the building. For additional safety, the town is allowing just one person in the vestibule at a time.

The town asks customers paying with cash to use the drop box attached to the building.

Customers can also pay bills online at smithfield-nc.com, by phone at 1-855-603-9197 or by using one of the two drop boxes at Town Hall.

Deeds office encouraging online use of services

SMITHFIELD — The Johnston County Register of Deeds office is encouraging Johnstonians to do business online.

The public may record real estate documents online and make online requests for birth, death and marriage certificates, said Craig Olive, registrar of deeds.

His office is limiting in-person contact, Olive said, but to make that transition easier, he’s placing a drop box on the door to the deeds office.

Also, couples wishing to obtain a marriage license should call 919-989-5161 for an appointment. Also,

For more information about how the office is responding to the coronavirus, call 919-989-5160 or 919-989-5161.

Clayton declares state of emergency

CLAYTON — Mayor Jody McLeod on Monday declared a State of Emergency in response to the coronavirus. Currently, Johnston County has two coronavirus cases and neighboring Wake County has 14, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

“This emergency declaration is really just an administrative action, but I signed it today because I want Clayton to be proactive and to make sure we have the flexibility to respond to this pandemic, which is changing almost every hour,” McLeod said. “I do not want this to increase fears or ignite panic in our community.”

The State of Emergency will enable Clayton to use liability coverage, swiftly activate emergency plans and waive internal purchasing policies so the town can react quickly to any future issues.

Also, the declaration authorizes the town manager to take appropriate protective actions, including curfews and evacuations.

For coronavirus updates, go to ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus. Check claytonnc.org/virus for local cancellations and changes. Also, Johnston County has set up a hotline at 919-989-5400 to answer questions about the virus.

Smithfield declares emergency too

SMITHFIELD — Smithfield on Tuesday became the latest local government to declare a state of emergency because of the coronavirus.

“This decision is not made lightly, nor is it made to cause fear or panic with our citizens,” said Mayor Andy Moore. “This declaration is meant as an administrative action that allows Smithfield to access federal funds, if needed, for any loss of revenues or increased expenses that may occur during this time.”

The declaration also allows Moore to more quickly make any decisions needed regarding public safety and the well-being of Smithfield residents, the town said in a news release.

On a related matter, the town is asking residents and visitors to refrain from visiting Smithfield’s public buildings, including Town Hall. Customers can pay utility bills online at smithfield-nc.com, by phone at 1-855-603-9191 or by using one of the drop boxes at Town Hall.

Wilson’s Mills closes Town Hall

WILSON’S MILLS — Wilson’s Mills has closed town offices to the public because of the coronavirus.

Essential staff will be on call to receive messages, the town said in an email on Monday.

Planners move business online

SMITHFIELD — Because of the coronavirus, the Johnston County Planning Department is asking the public to conduct planning business online.

The public can submit many forms and documents online, including plats, rezoning requests, subdivisions and zoning complaints, the county said in an email on Tuesday.
If an in-person meeting is necessary, call 919-989-5150 to schedule an appointment. The public can also call that number for help with online submittals.

Smithfield planning office closed for in-person business

SMITHFIELD — The Smithfield Planning Department is closed for face-to-face business until further notice, the town announced on Tuesday.

For assistance, call 919-934-2116, Ext. 1111 or Ext. 1114, or email Planning Director Stephen Wensman at stephen.wensman@smithfield-nc.com or Julie Edmonds at julie.edmonds@smithfield-nc.com.

Many Smithfield planning documents are online at smithfield-nc.com/page/planning_documents.

Kenly alters some services

KENLY —Because of the coronavirus, the Town of Kenly is canceling some services and altering others.

The Parks and Recreation Department has postponed until April 6 all sporting events likely to draw more than 50 people.

The town’s library remains open, but it asks anyone with cold-like symptoms to deposit their books in the book drop.

The library is making hand sanitizer or wipes available for computer users, and it’s limiting computer use to one hour per person, unless schoolchildren are doing school work.

The library is not charging overdue fines until after April 6.

Wilson’s Mills declares emergency

WILSON’S MILLS — Mayor Jim Uzzle Jr. on Wednesday declared a state of emergency because of the coronavirus.

The declaration authorizes the town administrator and police chief to take appropriate protective action, including implementing prohibitions, restrictions, evacuations and curfews, in order to maintain public order and to afford adequate protection for lives, safety or property as needed.

County alters some animal services

SMITHFIELD — Amid the coronavirus, Johnston County Animal Services is altering some services.

• Johnstonians can makerequests for field staff services, including injured or sick animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous and aggressive dog complaints, by calling 919-934-8474. 

• The shelter will conduct all services, including intake and adoption, by appointment. For an appointment, call 919-934-8474.

• Pets in the county’s care still need homes. See available pets online at johnstonnc.com/animalsvcs/. For an adopting appointment, call 919-934-8474. 

SECU moves most services to drive-throughs

RALEIGH — The State Employees’ Credit Union, which has a number of branches in Johnston County, has moved to drive-through only for most of its services.

Customers can still enter branches to access safe deposit boxes, drop off tax-return information and inquire about loans, but they will need to call their branch first to make an appointment.

Customers can also use the SECU website, ncsecu.org; the SECU Mobile App, available for download from the Apple App and Google Play stores; 24-hour support via phone at 1-888-732-8562; and voice-response services at 1-800-275-7328. Also, customers can use one of the SECU’s 1,100 ATMs statewide to obtain cash, deposit checks and transfer money between accounts.

Foundation seeking grant applications

The Johnston County Community Foundation is accepting grant applications from nonprofits serving needs in the county.

Grants typically range from $1,000 to $5,000, and total grant awards will not exceed $40,000. Applications are available online. Visit nccommunityfoundation.org for information about applying. The deadline for applications is noon April 14.

Grants are not available for regranting purposes, capital campaigns, capital improvements, out-of-state travel or for individuals.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our nonprofits to expand their impact in our local community,” said Nancy Faber, JCCF board president. “We are excited to partner with our local nonprofit community to continue supporting Johnston County.”

For more information, email N.C. Community Foundation program officer Kelly Lee at klee@nccommunityfoundation.org or call her at 252-557-0278.

State, IRS extend tax-filing deadlines

RALEIGH — The state and federal governments have extended this year’s tax-filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.

“Taxpayers need relief during this difficult time, and my administration is bringing it,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “I will work with both Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature to provide additional help.”

In North Carolina, the extension applies to individual, corporate and franchise taxes.

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