Winterville North Carolina 2018

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Market on the Square community coming together through art, entertainment and fun

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Contents THE COVER


A Slice of the Good Life

Residential & Commercial Growth


Market on the Square


Biscuit & the Bean


Awesome Radio




Civitan Club









Winterville’s Market on the Square continues to grow each season highlighting local talents and wares.


Winterville Vol 1 No. 1 2008 Edition

VOLUME 15 - 2018

WINTERVILLE© is published annually by The Times-Leader newspaper. Contents are the property of this newspaper and the Town of Winterville and may not be reproduced without consent of the publisher. To advertise in this publication, contact The Times-Leader at 252-746-6261.


A slice of the good life!



Residential Commercial


veryone appears to want a “slice of the good life.” “There is a huge demand to live in Winterville,” said Stephen Penn, Winterville’s economic developer. “Residentially, the town is booming and extremely healthy.” Five subdivisions are under construction throughout town, including 228 lots in Eli’s Ridge, 62 lots in Holly Grove, 57 additional lots in Brookfield, 40 additional lots in Copper Creek and 39 additional lots in Villa Grande. In Winterville, 99.5 percent of its housing occupancy is full, according to the most recent American community survey by census. “This is an incredibly high number and says a lot … people want to be in Winterville,” Penn said. The state of North Carolina is 85.7 percent occupied. Raleigh sits at 91.4 percent, Greenville at 88.2 percent and Ayden is estimated to be 90 percent occupied. Winterville’s planner Bryan Jones has lived in Winterville for 20 years. He began working for the town in 2017. He has seen first-hand the town grow both residentially and commercially. Growth will continue, too. Jones predicts once the Fire Tower-Old Tar roads expansion project is complete that corridor will explode. Winterville’s strong school system, low crime rate and small-town feel makes Winterville an ideal location in which to raise a family, Penn said. “We have great neighborhoods and offer a slow-pace feel with all the amenities of a city,” he added.


Winterville’s close proximity to the medical district in Greenville and easy access to the coast and central part of the state also add to its appeal. “The region is growing in general,” Penn said. Jones added, “Large employers are driving the interest (in Winterville).” Winterville’s recreation director Evan Johnston, who has worked with the town since 2009, also believes growth will continue, especially near Frog Level, County Home, Forlines and Worthington roads. “I believe it will be sooner than later. In the next five years, the town will look way different,” Johnston said, referring to the four-lane plan for Fire Tower and Old Tar roads. “Worthington and Corey roads will become a prime gateway — the next


Fire Tower Road.” The development of additional subdivisions and business expansion will only further drive the town’s recreation efforts to ensure Winterville’s slogan: A Slice of the Good Life. Winterville recreation recently upgraded its parks with the installation of new playground equipment. Recreation staff is also working to create a greenway system throughout the town connecting its parks, business district and downtown. “Social amenities are big ticket items (for enticing new residents to town),” Penn said. Johnston added, “Our road map (for recreation’s future) is in place and changes with the community.”

Recreation strives to meet the needs of its residents. The department recently added Zumba for adults and is expanding its existing programs. Recreation offers more than just sports. It caters to senior citizens with activities throughout the week and tries to develop programs for teenagers, like glow-light parties, Halloween trails and movies and concerts in the park. The department also hosts an annual daddy-daughter dance in the winter. Town officials are also developing plans to construct a multi-purpose facility to house indoor sports, arts, entertainment, and more. “We have a lot going for us,” Johnston said, referring to the town’s charm. “Our schools, recreation programs and private organizations

all enhance our citizens’ quality of life … our future looks extremely bright.” Winterville is in a “dream position,” Penn said. “We are growing like crazy and have a great reputation. Our town’s family-feel has only enhanced our growth, and we’ve maintained that familyfeel through our growth, which speaks volumes. Winterville is a significant destination — a hub of eastern North Carolina,” Penn said. From a commercial standpoint, Winterville receives interest regularly from small and large-scale developers across the country. Most of the town’s prime commercial sites are being developed or are under contract for development, according to Penn. Laurie Ellis Road, a main corridor through town, is undergoing an upgrade. “Laurie Ellis will assist in the marketability of commercial land along N.C. 11,” Penn said. Over the past year, many new businesses have opened in town. “We are always excited to see new businesses in our market and to see existing businesses expand,” Penn said. “With our continued growth, it is an extremely important time to look at the future and ensure we continue to grow in a healthy and sustainable manner.” Staff is thankful to its elected officials for their “willingness to invest” in the town’s future, Jones said. “Winterville has had smart development,” Penn said. Johnston added, “We are all invested in the town’s success and preparing for the future. Winterville is also a certified retirement community. These certified communities provide amenities, services and opportunities retirees need to enjoy active and productive lives. To learn more about Winterville’s housing options and available real estate for commercial development, email Penn at or Jones at For more information about Winterville’s recreation programs, email Johnston at

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With spring comes the arrival of warmer weather,

blossoming flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Spring also welcomes Winterville’s Market on the Square. The Market on the Square opens in April and runs through July. It was created as a way to attract people to Winterville and as a way for local artisans, farmers and bakers to sell their goods. “For vendors, the market allows another area for them to make their sales and reach out to the community, whether they make a sale that day or later on. A lot of people sell their crafts on Etsy or online, and this allows them to have a person there for face-to-face interaction with customers,” said Stephen Penn, Winterville’s economic developer. The market also is an opportunity to establish a sense of community for the residents of Winterville and surrounding areas. “With Winterville favoring a younger community in age and how long they’ve been in Winterville, we wanted to give a platform for people to get together and know each other and have pride in Winterville,” Penn said. The late Winterville Councilman Ron Cooper pushed to bring a farmers market in an effort to attract more foot traffic in Winterville and establish a place where

local farmers, artisans and bakers could sell their goods. “Prior to his passing away, he was really pushing for Market on the Square. It was in the works, and he was, unfortunately, unable to see the first market. It’s something I felt a need to push forward because it was something he had been asking for. Part of it, for me, is in remembrance of him,” Penn said. Market on the Square is located on the corner of Main and Church streets. “One reason we selected the location was because it’s downtown. It’s a great lot, and we felt that it would really allow us to use the great green space downtown. It’s one of the last green spaces we have downtown, and we can make it fun. It’s a great central location for people to walk to, ride there or bike to,” Penn said. The open lot allowed for vendors to set up on the grass and foot traffic to move freely. “(The Market) is in an open area so people can walk around,” said Suzanne Burchfiel, the owner Zuzu’s Artisans Jewelry. Organizers opted to host the market

Dawn Everette (center) and her daughters Ruthanne, 7, and Annabelle, 11, of Winterville are just some of many visitors who love to attend Winterville’s Market on the Square.

Thursdays, so it would not interfere with already established markets in the area, like the Wednesday Umbrella Market in Greenville or Farmville’s Agricultural Market, held Tuesdays. “We looked at a lot of different nights of the week to have events, and with so many craft and farmers markets, we wanted to make sure we didn’t interfere with existing markets. We really just wanted to add to the farmers markets and craft markets (already) in the area rather than take away from. Thursday afternoon seemed to be the one that really allowed for that and made sure we didn’t interfere with other markets,” Penn said. Market on the Square launched in April 2017 and featured approximately 39 vendors, with some vendors exiting the market before the season ended. It returned for its second season in 2018

With Winterville favoring a younger community in age and how long they’ve been in Winterville, we wanted to give a platform for people to get together and know each other and have pride in Winterville. -STEPHEN PENN

Winterville’s economic developer Stephen Penn is excited about Market on the Square’s growth and future.


with the addition of food trucks and live music. “We were thinking of new ideas to bring folks out and decided to implement some form of entertainment each week. Our goal is to give multiple services out here. We want the community to come out here, eat some great food, support the local economy and hear some great entertainment, ” said Josh Walston, an administrative intern for the town of Winterville. The Market featured several bands during the 2018 season, including Southern Fried Rhythm & Blues, MusicHead DJ, Will Stovall and Joe Shingarra. “The band aspect of it was something that really brought a lot of people and vendors as well. Josh worked on it and put a lot of time and energy into it and did a

Hasan Moss, 12, of Blount’s Creek makes homemade lemonade during a Market on the Square.

Asa Benson (right), 4, and sister. Emily, 4, take a break from the bounce house to enjoy Sparky’s Snowballs at the Market on the Square.

great job getting everybody excited. We just thought that music would provide a nice ambiance and a little bit of entertainment for both vendors and participants,” Penn said. “We hope that the band attracts friends, family and followers to purchase items and enjoy the market on the square.” The additions were well received by both vendors and customers. “It’s fantastic. One of the biggest differences for here and the Umbrella Market is that they have beer and music, and it keeps people in the location to shop,” said Ashley Licari with Today’s Natural Mom. Patron Katie Benson of Winterville added, “I’m loving the music. I think it gives it an energetic vibe.”


Along with the addition of music and food trucks, market organizers increased marketing efforts. “We did a significant amount of advertising on Facebook. Facebook reached a lot of people in the community. It was incredible how many people were reached. I think social media marketing is more important than we initially expected,” Penn said. The market can hold up to 40 vendors. The 2018 season closed with 39 vendors. “I think Market on the Square is steadily growing especially by the end of the past market,” Penn said. Vendors offered a variety of goods including fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables from Smith’s Vegetables. They also offer homemade lemonade.

Jerry Smith, the owner of Smith’s Produce, sets up his booth at the market.

“We have any vegetable you can name. It’s good for people to come out and get fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and to eat healthy,” said Shaun Moore of Smith’s Produce. Vendors Zu Zu’s Artisans Jewelry and Beaded Effects offered handmade jewelry at Market on the Square. Today’s Natural Mom offered an assortment of homemade skin care products, bath salts and reusable bees wax cellophane wrap. Willard’s Woodwork provided homemade wood creations, like decorative trees made from cedar wood and games. He also carries dragonflies made from old license plates. AJB Wood Creations also offered handmade wood items, like cutting boards and wood cut pieces. Capture the Moment sold postcards featuring owner Renee Lee-Bryan’s scenic North Carolina photography. She also offered homemade laundry detergent. The Crafty Twins sold macramé plant hangers, key chains and wall hangings. Their booth also featured Himalayan salt rock ornaments. In the 2018 season, Market on the Square also featured bounce houses for children and Sparky’s Snowballs. “I love (the market). It gives my kids the opportunity to get some of their energy out, and it gives me the chance to see the gifts, talents and the (vendors’) abilities. The music gives it a festival-like feel and gives the kids something to bounce to,” said Kimberley Gilbert of Winterville. Penn added, “I think it’s something that allows people of all ages to come out and be a part of the community. A lot of people that come through the market make their purchases and allow their children to jump at the bounce house, then say hello to others and then may return home. I think it was good community pride and giving back to the community and residents and allowing people to come together as a community.” Market on the Square provides its customers and vendors a sense of community. “It has created a strong family tie for those coming to the event. For some, it’s the avenue to see friends and spend some time outside or wind down from a week of work. For others, it allows their kids to run around and use the bounce house or the easy access to local vegetables and The Market on the Square provides a sense of community.

artisan products,” Penn said. Market organizers hope to continue to grow. “We just hope that it continues to grow and becomes an event that the community loves. Winterville is a family invested town. It’s really beautiful. It’s diverse, and we love the thought of having a market bringing everybody together to just enjoy,” Penn said. To become a vendor at the 2019 Market on the Square, email Penn at Kevin Diermeier of MusicHead DJ entertains market patrons.

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Bean By Donna Marie Williams Together, mother Laura Smith and her son Josh have taken her love for baking and his love for coffee and combined them to make The Biscuit & The Bean Café. The café has become a onestop shop for customers who love gourmet breakfast items, hot and cold sandwiches and, of course, coffee. “We just wanted to be a community service, community orientated. We had no plan. We just had a vision when we first opened,” Smith said. The café’s name is a play on words,


Josh said. When thinking of the name for the business, he thought of the atmosphere that a bed and breakfast creates and wanted a name that would represent the same warm and sweet feelings associated with the words bed and breakfast. He began to play with the letters B&B and eventually thought of biscuits representing his mother’s love for baking and her signature sweet potato biscuits. Bean represents coffee. The Biscuit & The Bean Café began its humble journey when the Smith family learned about the

closing of Middle Grounds Coffee Shack. “We were looking at more on the manufacturer side (of the coffee business.) That door shut, and we were kind of at a standstill. We found out about the Middle Grounds Coffee Shack closing. We had no vision for a coffee shop, but the opportunity presented itself. That was the door the Lord opened. We had no intentions of going into the coffee shop business. We prayed about it, and we felt it was a good fit,” Smith said. The mother-son team soon

(Left) A nitrous coffee and a café mocha are just two of the many coffee options. (Middle) April Reed (left) of Greenville and Julie Cary of Winterville meet over coffee. (Right) Pastor Todd Sutton of Reedy Branch Official Free Will Baptist Church frequents The Biscuit & the Bean. (Bottom) Sarah Miller (center) of Greenville serves Sarah Jackson (right) of Greenville a “hen house” sandwich and Kristen Foy of Kinston a sweet potato biscuit.

began to make their vision into a reality by equipping their new business with a new kitchen. “A new kitchen allows us the opportunity to serve and offer a more diverse menu,” Smith said. The Biscuit & The Bean’s menu includes specialty biscuits, sandwiches and wraps, salads and soup. Bakery items include muffins, cinnamon rolls and seasonal pastries. The Biscuit & The Bean’s sweet potato biscuit and red-eye biscuit are two of the most commonly ordered items. The red-eye biscuit features coffee-rubbed pork tenderloin with a molasses glaze on the customer’s choice of biscuit. Customers can choose between a buttermilk, sweet potato or hoop cheese biscuit. For dessert, customers can choose between Laura’s blue ribbon winning signature pound cake, edible cookie dough, pastries, signature brownies and other seasonal items. The roasted sweet potato salad is among the favorite salads offered. It features roasted North Carolina sweet potatoes, summer greens, blueberries, toasted pecans, goat

cheese and Chianti basil vinaigrette. “We like to support local, and we try to keep everything as local as we can,” Smith said. As for coffee, the menu is just as vast. From specialty drinks such as macchiatos and cappuccinos to specialty lattes, The Biscuit & The Bean offers various ways for customers to receive an energy boost. The Biscuit & The Bean also offers a unique nitrous cold brew coffee. The nitro is brewed cold in a refrigerator for 16 hours and is then poured through a stout spout. “It nitrogenates, which allows it to remove 67 percent of acidity. It’s important for people who

have digestive issues, like colitis and indigestion. It allows them to enjoy coffee more without it being combative or a nuisance. It can be done hot or cold. With the addition (of nitrogen), it’s a low-calorie caffeine high. A lot of students and a lot of people like it,” Josh said. Four different selections of coffee roasts are also offered — light, medium, dark and flavored roast. The light roast is a single origin Tanzanian peaberry blend, meaning that it is shipped directly from the farm to the roaster with limited transaction. The medium or house blend rotates throughout the year with a favorite found in the Royalty blend.


The dark roast is an Ethiopian Sidamo blend, a French roast that is very oily and has a robust flavor to it, Josh said, adding that it is one of his favorites. “Jamaican Me Crazy” is one of the most popular flavored blends that the shop offers, and for decaf lovers, a Columbian roast is brewed. The Biscuit & The Bean receives their coffee, syrups, sauces and service work from Cactus Creek in Aberdeen. Customers can enjoy a cup of one of the café’s signature blends or buy it by the pound. All but the “Jamaican Me Crazy” beans can be ground to the customer’s preference and specifications of the coffee maker. Despite its extensive menu, The


Coffee is warm. Coffee is inviting. So why not be like a cup of coffee?


Biscuit & The Bean strives to offer more than just coffee and delicious food. “Coffee is an important part of our day. Food is an important part of our life, and both bring people together. It’s a way for you to be involved in your community. It’s a way for you to touch people’s lives and for them to touch your life. A true coffee shop… should be there to help someone start their day and be there throughout the day. It should be about establishing relationships. (Customers) are not just a number. They are more than that. They should be as close to family without having the same last name,” Josh said. At The Biscuit & The Bean, customer service is equally as important as the quality of coffee and food items it serves. “We’re family focused and faith-based, and we try to treat everybody that way when they walk through the doors,” Smith said. Smith and Josh aspire for The Biscuit & The Bean to be more than a coffee shop. They want it to be as welcoming as a second home. “It has like a home feel. You feel relaxed, almost like you’re home at

your kitchen table. It’s a good casual atmosphere,” said customer Wade Barnes of Greenville. The Biscuit & The Bean offers customers a meeting room adjoining the main dining area and has become a meeting place for regular customers. “I am here quite often meeting people during the week. This is where we can meet, and there is nothing wrong with their sweet potato biscuits,” said Winterville resident Ray Moore with a smile. “I love it here. I love the staff. I love the atmosphere.” The mother-son duo also gives back to the community in which they serve and offer fundraisers, with 10 percent of the proceeds going back to the organization or cause. “We do about six fundraisers a month to give back to the community. If we find there is a need, we reach out,” Smith said. In the past, The Biscuit & The Bean has held fundraisers to benefit a children’s home, local athletics, metastatic breast cancers survivors and for people in need of an organ transplant. Along with fundraisers, The Biscuit & The Bean opens its doors to several area churches.

The Biscuit & the Bean offers a wide variety of specialty coffees and award-winning deserts (right), along with various tea flavors and parfaits (left). (Middle) Coffee is measured before being brewed. A café mocha with a sweet potato biscuit is a customer-favorite. (Bottom) Milk is steeped before being added to a coffee.

“Eighty percent of our customers are faith-based. A lot of our churches meet here. You can find people in the corner daily praying or having a Bible study,” Smith said. The Biscuit & The Bean has also stayed open after hours for churches to have ministry or fellowships. It is their customers who keep them motivated on a day-to-day basis. “It’s an honor to get up and serve them each day, and for customers to allow us to be a small part of their lives. Our customers are like our family. It makes it not like a job,” Smith said. Since opening in July 2017, The Biscuit & The Bean has focused on community, customers and service. “We’re just grateful for the opportunity, and we try to be positive in the community,” Smith said. Smith and Josh would both like to see The Biscuit & The Bean expand. “We want to continue to grow, but never waver from our humble beginnings … no matter how large we may become and continue to provide great customer service,” Josh said.

No matter what the future holds, one thing is for certain: The mother-son duo will continue to serve their clientele, like a cup a coffee. “Coffee is warm. Coffee is inviting. So why not be like a cup of coffee?” Josh said. The Biscuit and The Bean, 168 Beacon Drive, Winterville, is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. MondaySaturday. For more information, call 252-321-7425.

In August 2018, The Biscuit & The Bean expanded and opened a second location in downtown Farmville. Along with expansions, the Smith’s have not ruled out their manufacturing vision. “For manufacturing, we’re still waiting for when the time is right and the right door opens,” Smith said.


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From a young age, Akela Thigpen wanted to work in media. She doesn’t call it fate, but rather faith, when her dream came to fruition in 1997. For 11 years, Thigpen had worked as a waitress at Little Man restaurant in Plymouth. The late Apostle T.L. Baylor walked into the restaurant. It was the first and only time he patronized the place. “God sent him there for me,” Thigpen said, explaining at the time she was in an abusive marriage and needed a change. Baylor learned of her desire to work in the media field and told her she could shadow his crew at his radio station, WPNC in Plymouth. “The radio business is truly my calling,” Thigpen said with a smile. “I started volunteering at the station and realized media can take you anywhere. Being married, I was in a box. I thought Plymouth was it. I found healing through radio. Onair, I would talk about a friend in an abusive relationship and ask for advice for her. Of course, I was the friend. I got therapy over the airwaves.” Radio became her passion and life.


In January 2014, she created Awesome Radio, a Christian radio station. Her station went online in May 2014, and her studio opened in August 2016. They went on-air on station 106.9 FM. Its tower stands on Forlines Road in Winterville. “I didn’t want a traditional station. I wanted it to be a ministry. A safe place for our listeners to find answers and be led to our Lord Jesus,” Thigpen said. Her radio station is built on Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Awesome Radio dedicates three hours to ministry by local and national ministers.

Thigpen did not want the typical morning show with hosts providing comic relief in between music. She wanted people to hear the Word and find healing on their commute. “Whatever people woke up with from the night before, it is still there. Ministry can help them through the rest of the day,” she said. “It humbles me when I hear from listeners, ‘I listen to your station because it is different from other stations, and the ministry touched my heart.’” Thigpen is grateful to her listeners. Her station is listener supported. Awesome Radio also hosts numerous shows throughout the week on various topics, including health, senior citizens, agriculture, college, life situations, local government, sports and more. The nonprofit station features 25 dedicated volunteers, who serve as show hosts. “Most have never been in radio. I go up to people all the time and say, ‘I like your voice,’” she said, adding she then waits for God to speak to her. “I’ll get a vision for a show and ask

the person if they’re interested in being the show’s host.” Thigpen prays her station is touching lives. “You never know what people are going through. We try to give advice through ministry, counseling and prayer,” she said. “I strive to point people back to Christ. I ask myself, ‘What did I do today to make an impact?’ I do this all in Jesus.” Thigpen views herself as a “regular Christian.” “In the restaurant, I met so many people and would see and hear their situations, and I would often ask myself, ‘How can I help that person?’ I had ideas for shows to fill their void and needs and offer solutions,” she said. “I’m doing this solely for the glory of God. God will make it easy for you. God is doing everything that He promised.” For more information and to access Awesome Radio’s full schedule, visit









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f one travels to Winterville’s two elementary schools during student drop-off, a man in a polo shirt, regardless of the weather, can be seen welcoming students to school with a high five and a smile. School Resource Officer Larry Dobra splits his time among Creekside and W.H. Robinson elementary schools and A.G. Cox Middle School. “Trying to split your time evenly is really hard during a week,” Dobra said. “The reality is I spend three days at Cox and a day at each elementary over the course of the week — that’s what it breaks down to. I split it up.” This means he does not spend a whole day at any one school, instead traveling to all three as needed. However, his primary location is A.G. Cox Middle School where he spends most of his time and has an office to serve as home base.


Setting his own schedule is a boon for Dobra. He does not want to fall into a pattern. “The best part is I have leeway to choose what school I’m going to and when,” Dobra said. “I want to make it that way so that nobody who is outside of the school can go, ‘Oh, this is a time to try and do something.’ I also want the parents to feel that their children are secure. I want them to know that someone besides the staff is watching; that the town has got it covered.” When it came time to name a school resource officer, Dobra was the obvious choice. “I’ve actually been pushing for a (school resource officer) with (Winterville Police) Chief (Ryan) Willhite for almost as long as he’s been chief in Winterville,” Dobra said. “I’m a firm believer that we need to build a rapport with the children of the city along with making sure the schools are safe. What better way to do that then having an officer there

rather than relying on an outside agency?” For the past four years, he has been trying to come up with ways to increase Winterville Police Department’s presence in the schools, including patrolling athletics events. “When this popped up, I was probably the front runner for the position from the beginning,” Dobra said. He is more proactive than previous school resource officers, according to teachers. Previous officers would “patrol the cafeteria” during lunch times. Dobra sits with the students and talks to them as if they are normal people. “On the same aspect, I still have to follow the guidelines set by the teachers,” Dobra said. “I’m already getting feedback from the teachers that they love that I’m going a step above.” The school resource officer position is the result of collaboration between Winterville

School resource officer Larry Dobra is a fixture around Winterville, whether it is greeting kids as they come into Creekside Elementary School, passing out candy at Winterville’s Trick or Treat Trail or planning patrols with Chief Ryan Willhite of the Winterville Police Department.

Police Department and Pitt County Schools. The school district pays for a school resource officer’s salary and benefits; the department and municipality pay for equipment, training, vehicle and other necessities. “We recently obtained grant funding allowing us to proceed with the expansion of our (school resource officer) program and continue a welcome partnership with Winterville (police department),” said Jeff Hudson, the security specialist for Pitt County Schools. Willhite added, “The town was more than happy to take that funding on to get our own officer into the schools.” The town of Winterville, the department and the school district felt it was important to have a Winterville police officer in the schools rather than a sheriff’s deputy. “The sheriff’s office is obviously short staffed like everyone else. The previous deputy was being shared between Cox and a school in Ayden, so they didn’t really have a full-time resource officer,” Willhite said. “We’re kind of in the same boat, but I feel like Officer Dobra is probably there a lot more than the deputy was able to be there.” He added, “It just makes sense. The schools are in our jurisdiction. We’re going to be

responding to any emergencies there any way.” Pitt County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Operations Matt Johnson is happy to have a local officer. “Having a Winterville officer serve the Winterville schools is beneficial to the school system and to the community as a whole,” Johnson said. “Winterville officers know the community best, making a partnership more effective to everyone involved, including our students.” It is also important for Dobra to create relationships with students who live in Winterville. “We’re going to get to know them, and hopefully, we’ll be able to change the perception that’s out between some citizens and police. We want to establish a rapport between the police and the children as they grow up,” Willhite said. While some students have a negative opinion of police officers, Dobra has already

Every morning, Dobra helps students in the drop-off line get ready for school. He stands out front, always in short sleeves, and welcomes them with a high five or hug. “I try to get them pumped up as they’re going into the school,” he said. “I’m giving them verbal encouragement, so they enjoy coming into school.” He also helps calm their fear and anxiety. “(A student) came up, crying. I got down on her level and asked what was going on,” he recalled. “She forgot her backpack in the car with her homework in it. So I told her that we all make mistakes. Her teacher might be a little upset, but she wouldn’t hate her. Tomorrow, she’d remember the backpack, and everything would be good.” Dobra enjoys watching the kids achieve their goals and continue to grow. “(This student) is hearing impaired, and he’s been having some anxiety with getting to class by himself,” Dobra said. “The first time he had to walk to class by himself, he was crying. Today, he didn’t even look back (for his parents). He just walked right in. “That’s fantastic. I love to see that. He came so far in just a short amount of time, and I’m just as proud of him as his parents,” Dobra said. The younger students seem to be more

Most of them at the elementary level really appreciate what we’re doing. I hear a lot of them say they want to be police officers. They still have that idea that we’re there to help, and having somebody there to talk to them really helps a lot. - OFFICER LARRY DOBRA

seen a change. “If you go down to the elementary schools, you should just see how the kids respond to (Dobra),” Willhite said. Dobra added, “I think they’re realizing they can be a bit more comfortable with me because I do the fist bumps and I try to talk to them. There are some who wouldn’t look at me at first, but I broke through that mold.”

positive than the middle school students, according to Dobra. “Most of them at the elementary level really appreciate what we’re doing. I hear a lot of them say they want to be police officers,” Dobra said. “They still have that idea that we’re there to help, and having somebody there to talk to them really helps a lot.” Winterville Police Department hopes opinions continue to change for the better.


“We’re just trying to change the way they think about law enforcement and let them know that we can be trusted,” Willhite said. Dobra added, “Some of the children don’t share a positive opinion (of police), and I’ve seen that as low as first grade already.” At the middle school, he finds that half of the students want nothing to do with him but around half are excited to see him. “I’m trying to find ways to reach each child the best I can,” Dobra said. “If I see them with history out, I’ll talk history with them as we’re walking down the hall. I’ll answer questions. Just anything to get them to grasp at so they know they can talk to me.” Willhite added, “It’s about forming relationships. Once you have a relationship with a child, you’re golden. It’s just finding some common ground to start it and grow the seed.” When Dobra is stern with a student, he finds them afterward and explains why their behavior was inappropriate. He also tries to make sure they part as friends rather than enemies. Dobra also serves as the liaison for the Do the Right Thing program. The nationwide program started in Winterville a few years ago and was extremely successful, according to

Dr. Debbie Chavez Pediatrics

Jennifer Quigley Physician Assistant


“ ” The


kids are what makes


Willhite. However, it fell out of focus. “Now that we have Officer Dobra in the schools, he can kind of be the spearhead for the program and keep it going. He’s the Do the Right Thing coordinator,” Willhite said. “(The coordinator) has to know the kids and their parents and teachers, so that these stories can come to the top and be recognized.” So far this year, Willhite has only given out one Do the Right Thing award, but he anticipates the number of awards will rise. A student at Christ Covenant School donated birthday money to a Christian charity and received a nomination. At the end of the year, all of the nominated students will attend a celebration where they receive prizes and T-shirts. The department only has one school

Dr. Sami Velineni Family Medicine

Jennifer Perry Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Nachida Sitouah Internal Medicine Diabetes Specialist

Dr. Andrew Haven OB/GYN

resource officer right now. That may change in the future. “We look forward to the growth of this program and appreciate the support of the Winterville Police Department, the town of Winterville and the community,” Hudson said. The district hopes to eventually have an officer at each of the 37 public schools in the county. Willhite would like to see the program grow as well. “I would like to see our school resource officer program grow to where we have an officer in every public school that we have instead of having to move him around,” he said. “Obviously, that has to do with money and how much funding and grants we can find.” The best part of the job for Dobra is working with the kids. “At the elementary, it’s seeing their innocence and their joy,” he said. “At the middle school, it’s seeing the growth in many of them. In the past two weeks, I can already see that some of them have the chance to be great. “The kids are what makes this worthwhile.”

Dr. Mackenzie Smith Family Medicine

Dr. Anna Imhoff Gynecology

Merin Joshy Behavioral Health

Winterville Museum & Winterville Depot owned and operated by the Winterville Historical & Arts Society, Inc.

The Winterville Historical and Arts Society, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization that promotes the recognition of the common heritage which all citizens of our community share. We actively encourage participation in the creative and performing arts by our local citizens. The organization operates on annual memberships and holds quarterly meetings which feature special programs of historical or cultural arts interest. The Winterville Museum is located in the historic Cox-Ange House at 2543 Church Street. The Museum is open from 3-5 pm on the second Sunday of each month as well as by appointment for private tours. The Winterville Depot, located at 217 Worthington Street in Langston Park, is a newly renovated facility available for rent. Let us provide you with a unique venue perfect for your next meeting, birthday party, shower, or family reunion! Contact us for rental information.




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C IVITAN C LUB Big-hearted, civic-minded B Y B R E N DA M O N T Y


he Winterville Civitan Club is unique among the thousands of chapters of the global volunteer community service organization Civitan International. “We’re not a large chapter, but we do big things,” said Tarshi McCoy of New Bern, the president of the Winterville Civitan Club. Past president Leigh Wilkinson of New Bern has been involved with Civitan for 25 years. She has helped build several Civitan clubs, including Winterville. Wilkinson is an attorney with Ward and Smith in New Bern and still finds time to be a member of six Civitan clubs, including Tryon Civitan in New Bern. “I’ve joined every club I’ve ever helped build,” she said. She and Kinston Civitan member Margie Gooding have both been past district Civitan governors. They, along with Stephanie Crosby of New Bern, a member of the Tryon and Cape Lookout Civitan clubs, worked together to get the Winterville club started. “Each year, we try to identify locations to build new clubs,” Wilkinson said, adding it requires 25 members to start a club. “Margie’s son had moved to Winterville, and she wanted to start a club there. She asked if I would help. We’re always looking at where we can build a new club. When we zero in on a location, we look at clubs that are nearby that can be sponsors.” Kinston and Tryon sponsored


Winterville in getting started. The Tryon Civitan Club was chartered in 1982, while the Kinston Civitan Club began in 1989. The three women invited Debbie Avery, the director of the Winterville Chamber of Commerce, to lunch to share their vision of establishing a Civitan Club in Winterville. Avery outlined the activities of other civic groups in the community and when they met, so as not to conflict with their meeting times and efforts, according to Wilkinson. “We began meeting weekly for people to

come in, and we’d tell them about Civitan. When we got to the magic 25, we set our charter date for May 5, 2015, but we continued to add members after that,” she said. Current officers of the Winterville Civitan Club include McCoy, Wilkinson, Karen Smith of Ayden and Winterville residents Ka’Leah Mozell, Jeff Furness, Norreen Furness, Crystal Gooding, John Hill and Tony Smart. Club meetings are open to the public and held at 6 p.m. the third Monday of the month in the Winterville Free Will Baptist Church Fellowship Center, 488 Cooper St., Winterville. Of the six Civitan clubs to which Wilkinson belongs, Winterville Civitan is unique, she said. “There are a lot of Civitan clubs that are made up of mainly retirees; some are mainly women or mainly men,” Wilkinson said. “Winterville Civitan Club is one of the youngest in terms of average age and is the most diverse.” The small club of 21 members is a cross-section of the community, consisting of men and women, retirees and those still working, some with grown children and others with babies or small children, veterans and active-duty military. “We are a small group, but we have some of the biggest-hearted people I have ever met,” Wilkinson said. “We are family friendly. We welcome members to bring their children to the meetings. You just don’t go many

places and see that diverse group of people coming together. I don’t know what the magic juju is, but we’ve got it.” Civitan International was founded in 1917 in Birmingham, Ala., by a group of businessmen. In 1922, the first international club was chartered in Switzerland, then another in Canada, then into Europe in 1969. Civitan expanded into Asia with the Seoul Civitan Club in South Korea in 1974 and Nippon, Japan, the following year. Today, there are Civitan clubs in 35 countries. In the United States, not only has Civitan led society in service, its members take pride in being the first organization to integrate in the South — in the 1940s, no less. It was also the first all-male civic organization to allow women to be full members and the first major service organization to elect a female to serve as president of Civitan International for the 1990-91 term. Civitan International reaches out to youth around the world with Junior Civitan clubs in middle and high school and Campus Civitan collegiate branches. In 1956, Civitan unanimously adopted service to individuals with intellectual and developmental disorders as its primary focus. Since 1992, Civitan has sponsored the Civitan International Research Center in Birmingham, a cutting-edge facility focused on finding cures and developing treatments for issues such as autism, Rett syndrome, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and many other brain-related disorders. In their communities, Civitan members engage in projects that support not only this cause but also their local communities. Whether it is clean water in undeveloped lands, medical research, an orphanage or the Special Olympics, Civitan actively seeks to make a difference in the lives of others around the world. Each club is encouraged to support at least one charity associated with intellectual or developmental disabilities and then choose others within their community. “Our club decided early on that we didn’t want to be a fundraising club. Our people want to get out there, roll up their sleeves and do something,” Wilkinson said. The Winterville Civitan Club members volunteer each year to help with the Special Olympics Spring Games in Pitt County. “We show up with our volunteers and do whatever they assign us,” Wilkinson

Leigh Wilkinson Past President

Tarshi McCoy Current President

said. “One year we helped line athletes up for races. One year we gave out awards and another year they had us timing an event.” The club also does its fair share of hosting annual fundraising events for worthy causes, many of which they learn about through guest speakers they invite to the monthly meetings. “Riley’s Army is a big charity that we

“It’s a great organization to be a part of to give back to your community. We’re small, so we all know each other. We are small, but we are mighty.” -TARSHI MCCOY

and beer raffle. “This year we are doing a Spirit Wall,” McCoy said. “The wall consists of donated items from our membership as far as any type of ‘spirit,’ whether it’s wine, beer, liquor, whatever it is.” As of Oct. 31, 2018, the Spirit Wall consisted of 13 bottles of wine, two 12-packs of beer, two bottles of vodka and one each of tequila, Kahlua, Jack Daniels, Bailey’s Irish Crème and Crown Royal. “The winner of that is not going to get one bottle; they get all of it,” McCoy said. Tickets are $20 each or six for $100. Participants must be age 21 or older to win. The drawing will be held Dec. 17, 2018 at the club’s annual Christmas social. All proceeds will be used to benefit local charities. “It will be just in time for the winner to give them as gifts for Christmas or use for entertaining at Christmas and New Year’s,” Wilkinson said. Each year, Winterville Civitan adopts a local family and showers them with gifts at the Christmas social, according to McCoy. In the past, they adopted an anonymous family through the Pitt County Department of Social Services and donated clothes, toys, books, bikes and helmets. In 2017, they became aware of a grandmother raising several grandchildren through one of their guest speakers from Rebuilding Together Pitt County, which does home renovations and repairs for local residents in need. The club donated not only gifts for each of the children but a washer and dryer and other home appliances.

help. We’ve done that every year,” McCoy said. Riley’s Army is a pediatric cancer support organization based in Winterville. Kimber Stone, the charity’s executive director, was a guest speaker at a club meeting. She is now a member of Winterville Civitan. In 2016 and 2017, Winterville Civitan held Grapes and Grain, a wine and beertasting event to raise money to benefit Riley’s Army. The fundraiser was hosted at Firefly Wine Shop. The donation to Riley’s Army helped send two children with cancer to summer camp. This year, the group changed it to a wine


“They were able to come to our Christmas social, so we got to meet them. It was awesome,” Wilkinson said. Other service projects of Winterville Civitan include serving meals every other month at the Community Crossroads Center, a Greenville shelter. Civitans partner with another organization that prepares the food, and Civitans help serve it and clean up. Winterville Civitan Club has also adopted a portion of N.C. 903 to keep free of litter, which they collect four times a year. Civitans also “roll up their sleeves” in support of Backpack Buddies. The program provides students supplemental food for the weekends when they do not have access to free meals at school. Each month, Winterville Civitans partner with Rose Hill Free Will Baptist Church in Winterville, where they package food items obtained through the regional food bank as well as donated by local grocery stores. In addition to the annual fundraising benefiting Riley’s Army, Winterville Civitans sponsor an activity booth at the annual Pediatric Cancer Survivors Banquet.

Winterville Civitan also joins Civitan International in recognition of Clergy Appreciation Week. The club held its first-ever clergy luncheon in 2018 catered by Moore’s BBQ in Winterville. Hill, a club member and board member and the former pastor of Winterville Free Will Baptist Church, reached out to clergy he knew in the community, and club members invited pastors from their churches to attend, including the chaplain

of The Caswell Center in Kinston. “It is great to have that one opportunity to thank them, from a lot of us who were not in their congregation. I think it meant a lot to them that people revere them and realize how difficult their jobs are,” Wilkinson said. McCoy became involved with Civitan at Wilkinson’s invitation, she said. “I invited her to come to our social. Then I reeled her on in,” Wilkinson said with a smile. McCoy said, “I was trying to get involved in the community. I went and after I learned a little bit more, I said, ‘Cool. I’m in. It’s a great organization to be a part of to give back to your community.’ We’re small, so we all know each other. We are small, but we are mighty.” Wilkinson said, “We’re always looking for good people to come and join us and bring their ideas and help us make the Winterville community a better place to live.” To learn more about the Winterville Civitan Club or Civitan International, visit online or call McCoy at 252349-4702 or Wilkinson at 752-672-5482.

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