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Rocky Mount’s community and business development director dropped the ball on federal funding for a housing project last year, leaving city taxpayers to foot a $182,000 bill. Landis Faulcon didn’t follow up with necessary paperwork needed to secure federal funding for the construction of eight housing units known as MS Haywood Court. When the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pulled funding, the city ended up having to pay for construction of two of the units, according to minutes of the Oct. 8 Committee of the Whole workshop in which the entire council met to discuss city business. The city didn’t maintain adequate control over its HUD funds and didn’t accurately report its activities to HUD, according to an audit report from HUD’s Office of Inspector General.

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Nash Central seniors Drifton and Chandler Padgett signed to play baseball at N.C. Wesleyan. Trey Whitley, named the Telegram’s All-Area Pitcher of the Year last season, also signed to NCWC in December. New Bishops coach Greg Clifton, who is coming off back-toback state championships with Faith Christian, has recruited a

good amount of the local talent and will manage a roster that includes former Nash Central players Cameron Taylor, Noah Shrock and Zach Patterson. With the signing of Drifton and Chandler, two-thirds of the Bulldogs’ six-player senior class is now signed to play baseball in college, with Hunter Robinson headed to Barton College.

SHARPSBURG MAYOR PLEADS GUILTY TO DWI

Sharpsburg’s mayor pleaded guilty to driving while impaired in connection to his election-night arrest. Robert L. Williams Jr. was sentenced to a day in jail, 24 hours of community service and two years probation. Williams’ blood alcohol content was .13, according to court records. The legal limit in North Carolina is .08. Williams was elected May 8, 2018, after a court-ordered rematch of the race he lost by three votes in 2017. Williams appeared to be impaired as he left town hall, which was a Nash County polling site, on election night. Police said Williams nearly caused a crash by almost backing his truck into another vehicle. An officer tried to pull Williams over after he failed to maintain lanes, but Williams didn’t stop until he reached his residence.

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NASH CENTRAL’S PADGETT TWINS SIGN TO PLAY BASEBALL AT WESLEYAN

CITY MANAGER’S OFFICE REMODELING IRKS COUNCIL

Rocky Mount City Manager Rochelle SmallToney is remodeling her office suite without the knowledge of City Council. Three City Council members said they were unaware of and dismayed to learn about the remodeling. City staff claim the work is due to mold, but the contractor doing the job said that simply isn’t true. Quotes for the job ranged from $127,464 to $158,530 with the work going to DJ Rose & Sons at a cost of $89,600 after the manager decided not to remodel the fifth-floor hallway at a cost of $41,500. The remodeling is necessary due to mold, said Tameka Kenan-Norman, the city’s chief communications officer. Contractor Dillon Rose Sr. said the work didn’t involve mold.

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CITY SETTLES DISCRIMINATION SUIT

The Rocky Mount City Council made public a payout to a former employee to settle a discrimination suit. John Jesso, the city’s former director of downtown development, received $40,000 from the city in a workers compensation claim. Jesso was hired in May 2014 and left in October 2018. He was pushed out by the new Community and Business Director Landis Faulcon, a friend of City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney, who took the reins in July 2017. The settlement included a clause that the city doesn’t admit wrongdoing. The settlement also has a nondisclosure agreement.

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CITY OFFICIAL’S MISSTEP COSTS TAXPAYERS $182K

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1) Zen Royal, 4, roars playfully as she crawls through a play tunnel Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, at Wee R1 Kidz Zone. 2) Northern Nash’s Sencere Battle, left, hits Rocky Mount High’s Tybiaus Harrison on the hand as he shoots the ball Tuesday, January 22 during Northern Nash’s home game against Rocky Mount High. 3) Faith Christian’s Olivia Bowling, left, battles Rocky Mount Academy’s Barrett Edison and Ada Catherine Everette for the ball Friday, January 11 during Faith Christian’s home game against Rocky Mount Academy at Faith Christian School. 4) Bill Kincheloe of Bulluck Furniture places a sale tag on a mirror while pricing items on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, at Phipps Warehouse in preparation for Bulluck Furniture’s annual warehouse sale. 5) Firefighters work together to extricate two women trapped in a motor vehicle Thursday, January 3 during a mock motor vehicle crash scene training exercise at Nash Community College.6) Mary Kate Girouard, 7, ascends the ball and socket climbing wall Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, at Game Day Adventure & Arcade at the Rocky Mount Event Center. 7) Southern Nash’s Chris Allen, right, eyes Northern Nash’s Henry Richardson, left, as Northern Nash’s Davontae Wiggins, back, also defends Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, during the game at Northern Nash High School. 8) Southern Nash’s Jalisa Williams, right, battles for a rebound with Northern Nash’s Hannah Evans, left, and Northern Nash’s Kylise Clark during the game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, at Northern Nash High School.

NEW CITY HIRE FACED ALLEGATIONS IN SHARPSBURG

Rocky Mount’s incoming parks director ran afoul of the State Highway Patrol for driving a police vehicle when he was town manager in Sharpsburg. Elton Daniels was charged in 2012 by state troopers with having a police blue light. A trooper stopped Daniels in an unmarked Dodge Charger on U.S. 301 about a mile outside of Sharpsburg. Even though the charge was dismissed, Daniels’ use of the vehicle was a violation of public trust, according to former Sharpsburg Mayor Randy Weaver. The Sharpsburg Town Board had been allowing Daniels to use the cruiser because it was cheaper than reimbursing Daniels for mileage in his own vehicle. Daniels was on town business during business hours when he was stopped — however, North Carolina law states it’s a violation for anyone other than a law enforcement officer to have possession of a blue light.


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Year in Review • 2019

& Home Care Services

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& Home Care Services

252-451-1113 OUTSTANDING PEOPLE - OUTSTANDING CARE      

February 1

DEPUTIES SHOOT, KILL MAN IN BAILEY

Three Nash County deputies were placed on administrative leave after an officer-involved shooting claimed the life of a 28-year-old man in Bailey. Sgt. John Winstead, Deputy Stan Ricks and Detective Taylor Neal responded to a call concerning a sexual assault that identified the suspect as Jonathan Ramirez. The victim reportedly identified the vehicle and deputies tracked the vehicle and followed it to a location on the 1200 block of Maudis Road in Bailey where the suspect lived. In the ensuing confrontation, Ramirez reportedly pulled a weapon on the deputies and they responded in self-defense. Ramirez died at the scene.

DOWNTOWN HOTEL DEAL ANNOUNCED

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The Rocky Mount City Council announced a huge hotel deal for downtown. A developer from Tennessee wants to build a brandname hotel next to the Event Center along with a 660-space parking garage at Goldleaf Street and Atlantic Avenue. The preliminary plan is months away from fruition, said City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney. She said the project will be $60 million combined with the $40 million Event Center for $100 million in downtown development. Developer David Hunt said he’s been to Rocky Mount nine times in the past few months to study downtown. Hunt said he would also develop condominiums and 20,000 square feet of retail space.

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CITY OFFICIAL SCRAMBLED TO ESTABLISH RESIDENCY

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City emails obtained by the Telegram revealed a department head’s recent mad dash to find a local residence after living in Virginia for a year. Landis Faulcon began work in January 2018 at a $120,000 annual salary to head a newly created Community and Business Development Department. A year later — despite city requirements — Faulcon still lived in Virginia Beach, Va. The emails obtained by the Telegram showed Faulcon’s attempts to rent a house from a subordinate that were quashed by her superiors and her resulting unsuccessful attempts to secure rental property at another house across the street.

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DOWNTOWN HOTEL PLANS STIR CONFLICT

Top city officials are on the verge of announcing a new hotel near the Rocky Mount Event Center while sitting on a state grant for a competing downtown project. State Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland in October announced a $55,000 grant to support the renovation of the 46,400-square-foot Carlton House on Church Street, which is set to include a restaurant. The project, which includes $4 million in private investment, was expected to create 11 jobs and boost business downtown. Real estate development company LarGerKo has yet to be told by city officials whether the grant has been awarded. While holding out on LarGerKo, city administrators have been furiously putting together a deal for a hotel across from the Event Center.

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1) Sarah Blount uses an ultraviolet flashlight to examine a map in the ‘FBI

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY COLLECTS FIVE LOCAL ATHLETES

PROBE UNDERWAY INTO CITY HALL

An independent investigation into city management is underway and Mayor David Combs said he will be meeting with State Auditor Beth Wood . An 800 number for employees to report unfettered, unfiltered information with anonymity is being finalized and will be available soon Combs didn’t provide any further information about his meeting with Wood, including who initiated it. The council also is tweaking a new committee for the city’s internal auditor to report to — in the meantime, the auditor will report to the mayor versus the city manager as it was prior to changes the council previously made.

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Five local high school athletes made decisions on their athletic futures on national signing day. Tarboro defensive lineman Melik Ward signed to play football at N.C. A&T and classmate and linemate Hunter Medford signed to play at Barton College. Rocky Mount Academy’s Barrett Eidson signed to play soccer at UNC-Asheville, a

Division I program. Woodall Rose, the ace of the Rocky Mount Academy pitching staff, signed to play baseball at Methodist University, which plays in the USA South Conference with N.C. Wesleyan. Southern Nash’s Lamont Williams signed to play football at NCAA Division II Chowan.

Catch the Cat and Mouse Killer’ room on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 at No Idea Escape Room in Tarboro. 2) Nash UNC Health Care volunteer chaplain Mark Dickens, left, shares a laugh with Gwendolyn Alston as he visits with her Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 at Nash General Hospital. 3) Asher Aloisio, 7, watches as doughnuts are glazed Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in Rocky Mount. 4) K-9 officer Penny waits to be petted Monday, February 11 outside of the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office in Tarboro. 5) Shanell Knight, right, founding director of Michael’s Angels Girls Club, receives a hug from club member Zionna Payne, 10, while chatting with club member Jada Smith, 8, during the third annual Your Present Our Future Career Exploration for the 21st Century Woman luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 at Edgecombe Community College. 6) Nash Central’s Avante’ Simmons, center, yells in celebration while chest bumping teammate Chris High, left, after assisting on High’s buzzer beating shot to end the first half Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 during the game against North Johnston at Nash Central High School. 7) Fike’s Keyshawna Ortiz, right, loses the ball after colliding with Rocky Mount High’s Zahnetta Wilkins, left, and Raina Bullock, third from left, during the game Friday, Feb. 1, 2019 at Rocky Mount High School.

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Year in Review • 2019

ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

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March 1

A jailbreak led authorities on a hunt for five inmates who escaped from the Nash County Detention Center in Nashville. David Marshal Viverette, 28, David Ruffin Jr., 30, Keonte Daemoan Murphy, 23, Raheem D-Carlos Horne, 25, and Laquaris Rashad Battle, 22, reportedly escaped out of a back door of the facility. Viverette and Horne were captured later on the night of the escape in Rocky Mount. Murphy and Ruffin were apprehended early the next day. Battle was located and taken into custody six days later during a traffic stop in Hardeeville, S.C. Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said the jailbreak underscored the need for upgraded facilities and more staff at the Detention Center.

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SOUTHWEST EDGECOMBE’S LEWIS TO PLAY FOR BARTON COLLEGE

SouthWest Edgecombe’s Jayden Lewis committed to play football for NCAA Division II Barton College as part of the school’s inaugural football season, which begins in the fall of 2020. SouthWest Edgecombe football fans might have memories of his 1,247 passing yards and 18 touchdowns as the team’s quarterback this past season, Lewis will be punting for the Bulldogs while also seeing

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EIGHTH-GRADER SAVES BROTHER’S LIFE

An exceptional student at W.A. Pattillo Middle School revived his little brother with special skills he learned at school. Quantavious Pittman, 13, an eighth-grade student in Theresa Glast’s Exceptional Children’s class, put the CPR skills he learned at school to work when his little brother Khamani, 6, lost consciousness at home and could not be awakened. The boys’ mother, Otika Pittman, said she had taken Khamani to the doctor the day before for stomach pains and nothing was identified as being wrong. But the pain that Friday night was even worse. Quantavious said his coach taught him CPR and his teacher insisted that her students should have the opportunity to learn CPR along with the other eighthgrade students in school. He said he used mouth-tomouth resuscitation and chest compressions to save his brother’s life.

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1) Northern Nash’s Tyler Garner watches the ball bounce away after attempting to make a sliding catch on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, during the game against East Wake at Northern Nash High School. 2) Shirley Draughn, right, strikes Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Bryon Varnell with a baton on Saturday, March 30, 2019, during Subject Control and Arrest Techniques training at the inaugural S.H.I.N.E. Citizens’ Academy at the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office Training Center in Pinetops. Varnell is wearing a RedMan padded suit for defensive tactics training. 3) Mark Johnson, right, watches his great niece, Faith Davis, 8, slide down a slide Thursday, March 28 at Sunset Park. 4) Southern Nash Middle School eighth-grader Samantha McGuire, 13, left, shakes her hands in relief after correctly spelling a word Wednesday, March 20, 2019, during the Advancement Spelling Bee at the Dunn Center. 5) Los Angeles Rams running back and former Tarboro High School standout Todd Gurley, bottom, sits as magician John Logan, left, and former New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell perform a magic trick with a cup of orange juice Monday, March 4, 2019, during a reading rally at Tarboro High School. 6) State Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash, interacts with students in Kevin Williams’ kindergarten class Friday, March 1, 2019, as he reads ‘The Giving Tree’ during Baskerville Elementary School’s Read Across America Day celebration at the school. 7) Erin Swanson, director of innovation at Edgecombe County Public Schools, left, stands beside Casandra Cherry as she is awarded the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Teacher Award grant for $175,000.00 on Monday, March 11 at Phillips Middle School in Battleboro.

TEACHER TAKES PLEA DEAL IN STUDENT’S ASSAULT

A former Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools teacher entered into an agreement to avoid prosecution in a case in which she was accused of assaulting a middle-school student. Jamie Dunn, 35, of Spring Hope, was placed on unsupervised probation for six months and her case will be dismissed if she completes 24 hours of community service, 90 days of supervised probation, an anger management course and stays away from the student and her family. Dunn was accused of using a closed fist to hit a 15-year-old female student on the arm at Rocky Mount Middle School. The incident occurred in Dunn’s classroom. Dunn was hired in August 2006 and left the school district on May 24, 2018, before the end of the school year and roughly three weeks after the alleged assault.

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CITY SETTLES DISCRIMINATION SUIT

A Nash County man was arrested and charged with the brutal slaying of his wife. Diana Alejandra Keel was reported missing from her Nashville home. Her badly injured and decomposing body later was discovered along a rural road in Edgecombe County. Her husband, Lynn Keel, 57, didn’t report her missing for a few days and was identified by the Nash County Sheriff’s Office as a person of interest. He was initially questioned and released and then disappeared after authorities filed first-degree murder charges against him. He was later apprehended just outside Tucson, Ariz., after state police there halted him in a traffic stop. Keel’s first wife, Elizabeth Keel, reportedly died of head trauma in 2006 after falling at the same residence where Lynn and Diana Keel lived.

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time at the slot receiver position. . Lewis, also the Cougars’ punter, finished fifth in the state in average yards-perpunt, coming in at 42 yards. With SWE’s high-scoring offense, which averaged just shy of 40 points per game, he and the offense were rarely in punting situations. The times he did kick, Barton College apparently was watching.

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ROBERSON LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR MAYOR

Sandy Roberson, an independently wealthy investor and home health hospice owner, officially launched his bid for the office of mayor of Rocky Mount at the Event Center. “I believe this campaign is about the city’s future and hope,” Roberson said. The city government needs to build trust and understanding through transparency, Roberson said. He sees in his hometown an internal vulnerability that’s hampering growth and opportunities. Roberson said his top priority is jobs and that jobs and education go hand-in-hand. A Rocky Mount native, Roberson’s mother is the daughter of a railroad worker and a mill worker. His father was from a tobacco farm in Martin County. As a successful businessman, Roberson said he has the experience to be effective at economic development and job creation.

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ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

Year in Review • 2019

Rocky Mount Academy Celebrates 50 Years of Independent School Education

April 1

CITY EMAILS SHINE LIGHT ON SECRETS

Rocky Mount officials are mum on city manager emails about withholding information from the press, secret money, replacing federal paperwork, relief that auditors didn’t find certain files and more. “The Auditor pulled that file and thankfully he did not pull others!! It probably would have been worse!!!” City Manager Rochelle SmallToney states in an Aug. 12 email to a city staff member. City officials declined to answer any of the questions, with Tameka Kenan-Norman, the city’s chief communications officer, citing an ongoing investigation as to the reason why no answers were provided. “A majority of your questions address those areas currently being investigated. We will not provide comment while the investigation is underway,” Kenan-Norman said via email. She didn’t specify what investigation to which she is referring.

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BURIED HUD REPORT CITED FISCAL WOES

A 2016 HUD consultant report swept under the rug by local officials at the time details how the city has been propping up the Rocky Mount-Edgecombe Community Development Corp. Commissioned by the city, the report is a bleak assessment of the city’s Community Housing Development Organization funds known as CHDO. Conducted by the Minnesota Housing Partnership, the report was handed over to then-City Manager Charles Penny and the City Council. After that, the report never saw the light of day. CDC Executive Director Joyce Dickens said she wasn’t given the report in 2016 and when the Telegram provided it to her, it was the first time she saw it.

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NASH TO LEAVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP

Some of the most affluent and influential business leaders in the Twin Counties were unable to convince the Nash County Board of Commissioners not to withdraw from the Carolinas Gateway Partnership. Commissioners said they feel since the county already invested in a retail economic developer, a focus on large business and industry is a logical next step. The public-private economic development partnership is made up of Nash County, Rocky Mount, Nashville, Tarboro and Edgecombe County. As of Oct. 1, Nash County will leave the group, according to a 5-2 vote by commissioners.

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SUPERINTENDENT’S VEHICLE USE RAISES QUESTIONS

Superintendent Shelton Jefferies traveled more than 29,000 miles in a fleet vehicle belonging to Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools in the 2017-18 fiscal year. That is in comparison to 1,607 miles traveled in a fleet vehicle shared by the entire cabinet staff and 2,671 miles traveled in a fleet vehicle shared by the entire technology staff for the same year. The fleet vehicle used exclusively by Jefferies is on track to travel about the same number of miles this school year. Jefferies already has driven the vehicle 22,826 miles as of April 1, with three months left in the fiscal year. He traveled 7,816 miles in the fleet vehicle for the entire 2016-17 school year. Since then, Jefferies’ mileage on the vehicle has more than tripled each year.

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ONE PLAINTIFF DROPS OUT OF ECPS SUIT

Kimberly Briggs, one of the two plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit in 2016 against the Edgecombe County Board of Education in the wake of an alleged sexual assault during a field trip, has dismissed her claims. Briggs filed the lawsuit with her daughter, who is identified as L.B., who was a student at SouthWest Edgecombe High School at the time . The complaint accuses the defendants of “discriminatory, retaliatory and defamatory conduct against the plaintiffs following a completely foreseeable and preventable incident that occurred on a school-sponsored field trip.” L.G. alleges she was sexually assaulted in a hotel room by three male students, who had been drinking and smoking marijuana. L.B. also alleges that school officials accused her of sexual harassment and suspended her for 10 days while the male participants in the alleged sexual assault were not punished.

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NASH CENTRAL’S JOHNSON IS SINGLES CHAMPION Cameron Johnson still hasn’t been beaten on the tennis court. The Nash Central senior won the Eastern Plains Conference singles championship, collecting three wins in straight-set fashion. Johnston entered the tournament with a 14-0 record, and the trio of wins at the North Johnston-hosted event brought

his record to 17-0. Johnson won his first two matches by 6-1, 6-0 scores, and wasn’t touched in the title match, winning 6-0, 6-0. He also has non-conference wins this season over 3-A schools and rivals Rocky Mount High, Southern Nash and Northern Nash.

1) Ge’Nay Bobbitt, 6, center, laughs as Khyleah Muhammad, 10, left, pushes her in an Oodle swing with Meokie Edge, 5, back, on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, during the Down East Partnership for Children Party in the Park at Discovery Park. 2) Alexis Holmes, 14, pets her 1-year-old goat Optical Illusion, dressed for warmth in a hoodie and dog coat, as they watch the meat goat show Tuesday, April 2, 2019, during the 82nd annual Eastern Carolina 4-H Livestock Show & Sale at the East Carolina Agriculture and Education Center. 3) G.W. Bulluck Elementary School third-grader Angel Lee, 9, collects a plastic Easter egg with assistance from exceptional children teacher Mary Ellen Joyner on Friday, April 12, 2019, during the Egg-xtra Special Easter Egg Hunt at the Harrison Family YMCA. 4) Alexis Archer holds three-year-old Dalton Casper as she paints a monster on his face Saturday, April 6 at the inaugural SpringFest Street Fair in Tarboro. 5) Amanda Telep and Angelica Wimer stay dry under an umbrella Saturday, April 13 at the 2019 Spring Affair Food Truck Rodeo in downtown Rocky Mount. 6) David Davis strains a devil’s daiquiri into a glass for Stephen Davis (not pictured) on Friday, April 19 at the Tap @1918 at Rocky Mount Mills. 7) Gov. Roy Cooper talks during the Carolina Connector intermodal transportation facility groundbreaking on Wednesday, April 24 at N.C. Wesleyan College.


Year in Review • 2019

ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

Here to ServeYou In Your Time Of Need!

May 1

TWO CHARGED IN MISSING WOMAN’S MURDER

A Nash County relative of a Raleigh woman who was reported missing was charged with murdering her and a second person was charged with being an accessory. Cleavon Williams, 44, of the 4200 block of Biltmore Lane southeast of Spring Hope, was charged with first-degree murder of Sarah Denise Patterson, 51. Patterson was last known to be on the 4200 block of Biltmore Lane in Spring Hope. Patterson’s body was found in a shallow grave off West Old Spring Hope Road, approximately a mile from Green Road and south of Spring Hope. Williams, who has an extensive prior criminal record, was jailed without bond in the Nash County Detention Center. April Smith, 41, was charged with accessory after the fact of murder. She was released on a $25,000 secured bond. 1 S ar ah L o u ya

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The summary of an independent review of City Hall found no malfeasance on the part of City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney. The law firm Nexsen Pruet presented the results of its probe of five topics related to public concern about operations at City Hall, especially actions of Small-Toney. Mayor David Combs called for the review in late January after a series of articles in the Telegram and expressed public concern. Nexsen Pruet Special Counsel Bridgett BlinkSpears said the firm didn’t track down every issue raised by the newspaper, but stuck to six main topics: Moral, turnover, hiring practices, compensation, HUD and perception of bias. Nexsen Pruet lawyers interviewed more than 60 people over 150 hours. 3 S ar a h L o u ya

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PROBE OF CITY REPORTS NO WRONGDOING

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SCHOOL BOARD ACCEPTS COUNTY BAILOUT

The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education voted to accept an $800,000 advance from Nash County commissioners to help balance the current fiscal year’s budget. The shortfall came to light after mistakes were found in the current budget, including $578,226.80 in errors in the technology budget because of technology contracts that were active into the current year but were not budgeted for in the current budget because they were thought to have ended in the previous year. The two boards had been meeting in small group sessions to avoid public meeting requirements as they negotiated the terms of the deal after a proposal by the school board’s finance committee to correct the shortfall by cutting teacher supplement pay for the rest of the school year fell flat.

4 INMATE ESCAPES FROM NASH COUNTY JAIL Another inmate escaped from the Nash County Detention Center. Terrell Gailand Miles, 29, of Rocky Mount, was believed to have stuffed materials in a door lock to render it inoperable. Once outside the door, which leads directly to the exercise yard, Miles apparently pushed out the lower part of the fence surrounding the exercise area to gain access to the perimeter passageway. He then ran a short distance and hopped a six-foot fence to complete his escape. Miles was apprehended later that night after a traffic stop in front of the Emergency Department of Nash UNC Health Care. He attempted to flee on foot but immediately was nabbed by law enforcement officer. 6 A la n C am p b el l

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1) Children react as they ride the roller coaster Thursday, May 9 at the Nashville Blooming Festival carnival. 2) Rebecca Watkins laughs as her 4-month-old golden retriever Maggie plays on the floor of her art studio while she paints an oil on canvas beach scene on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at Bel Air Art Center. 3) Jane Gravely, left, and Janice Gravely lift their hands as they praise God in song Thursday, May 2 during the National Day of Prayer at City Hall. 4) Luke Milman, 12, swings on the Mobile Ninja Warrior course Saturday, May 25 at the The Ultimate Backyard Warrior obstacle course competition. 5) Elizabeth Jones Ohree, center, the oldest surviving sibling of the late Army Pfc. William Hoover Jones, receives a City of Rocky Mount proclamation from Rocky Mount City Councilman W.B. Bullock while surrounded by family on Monday, May 27, 2019, during the Memorial Day ceremony at the Rocky Mount Veterans Memorial at Jack Laughery Park. Rocky Mount Mayor David Combs proclaimed May 27, 2019 as William Hoover Jones Remembrance Day in Rocky Mount in honor of the Korean War veteran. 6) Rocky Mount Academy’s Isabel Smith, right, celebrates with Barrett Eidson following Eidson’s goal on Thursday, May 9, 2019, during the match against Raleigh Friendship Christian School in the NCISAA 2-A second round playoffs at Rocky Mount Academy. 7) Rocky Mount High pitcher Evan Hart snags a comebacker for an out on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, during the game against Wilson Hunt at Fleming Stadium in Wilson.

RMA WINS FIRST BASEBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP Jacob Braddy pitched six strong innings and kept Faith Christian away from a big inning in a 6-3 victory over the Patriots in Game 3 of the NCISAA 2-A state championship series. The Patriots won Game 2, 11-6, to send the best-of-three series the distance. And it was in that final game where the Eagles secured their first state baseball title in

school history. RMA had won Game 1 by throwing out the would-be tying run at the plate in the seventh and had the advantage heading into the deciding Game 3. FCS was playing for its third consecutive 2-A state title, having won the previous two. But the Patriots couldn’t make it a third despite their best efforts.

5 BID PROCESS TILTS PROJECT TO DEVELOPER The stringent requirements and short response period set by the Rocky Mount City Council for a downtown hotel and parking garage make it highly likely the only developer able to apply for the job is the one already working on the project. Involved in the project from the very beginning, first with a feasibility study then as builder, is Tennessee developer David Hunt. He said in mid-February that he has been working closely with city management, visiting Rocky Mount nine times since July. The city’s guidelines for submittal call for a site plan, a construction timeline, the brand of the hotel and more, all due within seven days. No developer could meet all those requirements in a week unless they’ve already been working on it, according to a local developer familiar with the matter.

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ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

Year in Review • 2019

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June 1 EMBATTLED CITY OFFICIAL PUT ON LEAVE PENDING PROBE A Rocky Mount department head who lives out of the area and once told a city panel she was out of the loop has been placed on leave during an investigation. Community and Business Development Department Director Landis Faulcon was placed on administrative leave with pay pending a review of the programs administered by the department Faulcon began city employment in January 2018. Under Faulcon’s watch, permitting for commercial and residential buildings slowed to a crawl, according to an internal city document. Within months of Faulcon coming on board in Rocky Mount, all five of the workers in her combined departments left city employment. One employee received a $40,000 discrimination complaint settlement payout.

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WOMAN CHARGED WITH MURDER, ARSON

A Nash County woman was arrested after a dead body was found in the ashes of a mobile home that burned down. Alayna Renee Sherrod, 32, of 7515 Strickland Road in Bailey, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and arson following the discovery of a man’s dead body inside a mobile home that was destroyed by fire in a rural area northwest of Bailey. The body of Marcelino Ponce-Gonzales, 59, was discovered in one of the bedrooms of the mobile home at 7515 Strickland Road after a search warrant was obtained not long after firefighters extinguished the blaze. Nash County Chief Deputy Brandon Medina said it was clear to investigators from the start that the cause of the fire was suspicious.

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COUNCIL OKS DOWNTOWN HOTEL PLANS

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The Rocky Mount City Council voted 4-3 to approve a planned multimillion dollar downtown hotel and parking garage during a special Committee of the Whole meeting. The city advertised the meeting as a closed session but presented the hotel project and financing in open session with no citizen participation. The Draft Development and Cooperation Agreement between the city and Hunt Services allows the city and Hunt Services to work with each other in order to facilitate the planning, design, financing, construction and operation of the proposed facilities including a 107-room Tier 1 hotel, one or possibly two parking garages, residential condominiums and retail space. Developer David Hunt in February said the proposed multi-layered project would be a $60 million to $70 million development aiding in downtown revitalization.

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FOUR KILLED IN PLANE CRASH

Four people were killed in the crash of a Piper PA-46 aircraft in rainy weather in Nash County. Gregory Boll, 57, Evva Leigh Boll, 48, Felix Laquidara, 53, and Roberta Laquidara, 52, were all of Naples, Fla. A dog, rabbit and at least two chickens also were aboard the plane. Partial pieces of an aircraft wing were found off Harrison Road and a fuselage was located off Taylor’s Store Road. Investigators said they believe the plane broke apart in mid-air, likely as a result of bad weather. The last reported radar contact with the plane was in the area of N.C. 43 and Harrison Road. George Boll, the pilot, was the owner of an electronics firm and his wife was a homemaker. The Laquidaras were joint owners of a beauty salon operation.

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CEREMONY CELEBRATES FALLEN SOLDIER’S LIFE

The remains of a Nash County soldier who died on a North Korean battlefield nearly 70 years ago were returned home to a celebration of his life and sacrifice. U.S. Army Pfc. William Hoover Jones was honored by family, friends, veterans and well wishers during a memorial service at Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount. His small unit faced 250,000 Chinese soldiers near Pakchon, North Korea. Jones couldn’t be found when his unit made a fighting withdrawal in November 1950. Posthumously, Jones received the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

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KEEFE NAMED NEW NORTHERN NASH BASEBALL COACH Northern Nash has named athletic director Joey Keefe to be the school’s varsity baseball coach. Keefe will take over the vacant coaching position. Keefe was named the school’s athletic director in February 2018. Keefe will take over for Bard Collins, who led the program for the past four seasons. Collins stepped down as the varsity

baseball coach in May following an 0-10 mark in the Big East Conference. He said that he believed a coaching change would spark new energy moving forward. Collins recorded an 18-67 record as the Knights’ head baseball coach during the past four seasons. The Knights won a conference championship in his first season in 2016.

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1) Caedyn Phillips, 5, left, and Cameron Fox, 4, laugh as they play in a fountain on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, at Sunset Park’s spray park. 2) Thomas Parrish V, 15, left, directs his brother Zachary Parrish, 11, as they record audio while working on their movie ‘B1 - The Awakening’ on Thursday, June 6, 2019, at home in Rocky Mount. 3) Amiyah Lynch, 6, right, pushes her twin sister, Amari Lynch, in a swing Friday, June 14 at Sunset Park. 4) Margaret Basemore, right, a breast cancer survivor, has her fingernails painted by Certified Medical Assistant Morgan Willcox on Friday, June 7, 2019, during the Cancer Survivors Day Celebration at the Danny Talbott Cancer Center at Nash UNC Health Care.5) Kaleigh Yenney works on a painting Tuesday, June 25 in her Rocky Mount home. 6) N.C. Wesleyan College softball coach John Brackett picks up trash scattered around the demolished home dugout at Edge Field on Thursday, June 20, 2019, following a tornado at the college’s athletic fields.


Year in Review • 2019

ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

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Belinda Faulkner Moorefield Real Estate

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July 1

NASH-ROCKY MOUNT SUPERINTENDENT RESIGNS

The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education voted to accept the resignation of Shelton Jefferies as superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. The board also voted to place Chief of Staff Brian Miller in that position until an interim could be appointed. All members of the board voted in favor of the motion except Dean Edwards and Ricky Jenkins. Edwards said his objection was about Miller’s temporary appointment, not the acceptance of Jefferies’ resignation. Unlike former superintendent Anthony Jackson, who resigned in June 2015 “at the will of the board”and received a payout of $155,380.10 in salary and another $1,565.73 in insurance benefits as an incentive to accept the resignation agreement, Jefferies will leave with nothing but the residual payments owed him.

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A downtown Rocky Mount businessman has been ordered by the judicial system to be evicted from his location in city-owned space and to pay the municipal government more than $15,300 in past-due rent. Tarrick Pittman, owner of Cool Geeks computer repair in the Douglas Block, was issued the ruling from the Edgecombe County Superior Court. Rocky Mount’s municipal government since last autumn had been arguing in court papers that Pittman breached a sublease agreement by failing to pay past-due rent at the location. The order shows the judge told Pittman to pay $15,320, plus all costs of the legal action. Pittman can appeal to the state Court of Appeals. Pittman is challenging Councilman Andre Knight for the Ward 1 seat.

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1) Deajuwan Perry attempts a fakie frontside flip on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, while skateboarding at Sunset Park’s skate park. 2) Jayla Cooper, 12, left, Taliyah Davis, 10, center, and Ty’Lik Harrell, 12, work together to complete a task Tuesday, July 23 at Camp No Limit at the Church of the Good Shepherd. 3) Rocky Mount City Council Ward 4 candidate Elaine B. Williams, center, celebrates with State Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash, after filing notice of candidacy on Friday, July 5, 2019, at the Nash County Board of Elections in Nashville. 4) Kire Jeffrey, right, throws daughter Amea McLea, 3, up in the air Monday, July 29 at Sunset Park. 5) Freedom School student Lyric Bibbs, 5, raises her arms and sings the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus during the Harambee morning motivation on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, at Peacemakers of Rocky Mount. 6) Jonathan Bryant Jr., 9, encourages his family’s 9-month-old female Yorkie mix Abby to jump over the low bar in the agility area on Friday, July 26, 2019, at Best Friend’s Dog Park. 7) Nicole Oxendine, right, spins dance partner Lillian Negron during a salsa dance class led by Jose Paredes on Saturday, July 13 in the Smokestack Courtyard at Rocky Mount Mills.

N.C. STATE’S DOEREN EXCITED ABOUT SOUTHERN NASH’S KNIGHT

On the first of two days at the Atlantic Coast Conference football media days in Charlotte, a familiar name known in the Twin Counties popped up when N.C. State coach Dave Doeren was asked about his team’s backfield depth — Zonovan Knight. The Southern Nash grad and Firebirds all-time rushing yards

leader has a rare blend of speed, agility and strength, and showed glimpses of that standout talent when he turned in an electric performance during the Wolfpack’s spring game this year. That performance, coupled with his practice performances and team needs, has the true freshman firmly in the team’s plans from Day 1.

COUNCIL OKS PARKING DECK FUNDS

The Rocky Mount City Council took one step closer to a proposed downtown hotel and parking deck project. The council voted 4-3 to ask approval from the state for financing for an $18 million parking garage to be built by Hunt Services next to the Event Center. During a required public hearing, more than a dozen residents roughly evenly split for and against the project. Opponents called on the council to be better stewards and called the plans “voodoo economics.” Supporters of the project said downtown development is long overdue. Earlier in the day during their meeting, Nash County commissioners said they had concerns about the project. County board Chairman Robbie Davis said he fears the brunt of the project’s cost would fall on the shoulders of Nash County residents in Rocky Mount.

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TWO CHARGED IN CHILD ABUSE CASE

An Edgecombe County woman and a Pitt County man were arrested in connection with the abuse of a child under 2 years old in ways that medical authorities described as “torture.” The mother of the child, Amber Dixon, 27, of Macclesfield was charged with felony child abuse by neglect. Elton Joshua Pritchett III, 37, of Greenville was charged with two counts of misdemeanor communicating threats, two counts of felony assault by strangulation and one count of felony child abuse. The warrant for Pritchett’s arrest cites that the child suffered from multiple contusions, the presence of petechiae indicating possible strangulation, ligature marks and scrapes that were described by the reporting physician as signs of torture.

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MERCER TAPPED TO BE NEW FIRE CHIEF

A former longtime city firefighter is returning home to assume the job of Rocky Mount fire chief. Corey Mercer, currently fire chief in Elizabeth City, has been selected for the top spot in Rocky Mount by City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney, who announced her decision Monday afternoon. Mercer, who has worked in the firefighting field since 1994, will leave his post as Elizabeth City’s fire chief, which he has held since March 2018. The Wilson native started in January 1994 as a firefighter in Rocky Mount. The army veteran moved up the ranks, also serving as a fire engineer, fire captain and battalion chief before acquiring the role of fire chief in Elizabeth City. Mercer replaces retired Fire Chief Mike Varnell.


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ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

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Year in Review • 2019

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August 1

COUNCIL OKS DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT DEAL

The City Council by a 5-2 vote approved a modified resolution adopting the development agreement for a proposed hotel, parking garage, residential and retail project, all to be adjacent to the Rocky Mount Event Center. Tennessee-based developer Hunt Services is proposing to spend about $33 million on the private part of the public-private project. Hunt is proposing to build the garage, which would be leased to him but with the city to receive any profits. After 20 years, possession of the garage would be turned over to the city. Hunt has estimated the hotel will cost nearly $14.8 million, the garage will cost nearly $17.8 million and a mixed-use structure will cost nearly $16.8 million.

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WOMEN FILE SUIT AGAINST NEED

A Rocky Mount-based anti-poverty organization was accused in court papers by two former employees and a demoted employee of having targeted them for age and gender discrimination. Gloria Wilson, Phyllis Rodgers and Evelyn Powell filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in Nashville against Nash-Edgecombe Economic Development, more commonly known as NEED. The lawsuit names NEED Executive Director Ginell Rogers, former Head Start Director Elton Powell and former board Chairman James Collins as defendants, as well as those who served on NEED’s board from 2017 to June 27. In the lawsuit, Wilson, Phyllis Rodgers and Evelyn Powell cite a Telegram story published in May 2017 about Rogers being named executive director of NEED in which she said her goal was eventually to have a younger presence at NEED.

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MAN KILLS HIMSELF AFTER HIGH-SPEED CHASE

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A Halifax County man led law enforcement officers on a high-speed vehicle chase before eventually wrecking his vehicle and taking his own life. The Nash County Sheriff’s Office was notified by the State Highway Patrol that troopers were involved in a high-speed pursuit on U.S. 301 in Rocky Mount but discontinued the chase due to heavy rain and the suspect’s vehicle’s high rate. The Sheriff’s Office later received a report about a wreck in which the description of the vehicle matched the one in the chase. The suspect, Rodney L. Silver, 39, drove the vehicle away from the crash site, but the vehicle was reported to be seen driving slowly on N.C. 43. Deputies attempted to pull the vehicle over when the driver got out, walked to the front of it and shot himself in the head with a handgun.

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CANDIDATE WALKS AWAY FROM MAYORAL DEBATE

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One of the four candidates for mayor of Rocky Mount ended up leaving a debate before the event started at Benvenue Country Club, apparently over wanting to video the event. The gathering was sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club and television station WHIG. Retired Brig. Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray, the club’s president, asked Bronson Williams to have his cameraman to turn off his equipment. When WIlliams declined, Gordon-Bray asked him and his cameraman to leave. The other candidates who participated in the debate — Robert Lee Alston, Kevin Jones and Sandy Roberson — all made clear crime is of the utmost concern in Rocky Mount. The subject of crime came up when the candidates were asked what would be the first issue they would like to address if elected mayor.

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LOCAL SOLDIER BURIED WITH HONORS AT ARLINGTON

A local man who lost his life more than 68½ years ago fighting as an infantryman in the Korean War was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. The service for U.S. Army Pfc. William Hoover Jones was conducted at the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel, which is adjacent to the cemetery. After the service, a horse-drawn caisson was part of the procession into the cemetery and to the interment site. Jones, 19, was considered missing in action, but as a result of efforts by President Trump, North Korean Communist dictator Kim Jong Un in July 2018 released 55 coffins containing the remains of fallen U.S. soldiers. Jones’ remains were subsequently identified with the help of DNA and military and X-ray records.

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FORMER SOUTHERN NASH RB KNIGHT SHINES IN N.C. STATE DEBUT Former Southern Nash running back Zonovan Knight made an impact right away in the Wolfpack’s 34-6 win over visiting East Carolina in front of a sold-out crowd. Knight took his first career handoff and burst through the middle of the Pirates’ defense for a 9-yard touchdown run with 8:34 left in the first quarter. Knight led the Wolfpack with 43 rushing yards and a touchdown on a

team-high nine carries. Knight scored a total of 71 rushing touchdowns at Southern Nash on his way to securing the Firebirds’ career rushing record with 5,073 yards before he left to attend NCSU in the spring. The four-star recruit began working with the N.C. State team in January and later shined at the team’s spring game.

1) Bryce Edwards, 9, center, dances to the song ‘If I Only Had a Brain’ at NoteBusters Music Camp on Tuesday, August 6 at Lakeside Baptist Church. 2) Amilya Hill, 7, right, sits as Tracy Pitt styles her hair Saturday, August 24 at Edgecombe Community College in Tarboro. 3) Fourth grade student Jeshlyn Jimenez walks off the bus on the first day of school on August 26 at Swift Creek Elementary School. 4) Leonard Johnson, an electrician with Pemberton Inc., installs an LED Edison bulb in a pendant light on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, at Books and Beans at Rocky Mount Mills. 5) Rocky Mount High’s Keeshawn Silver, left, celebrates after sacking Greenville Conley quarterback Nick Hamilton on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, during the game at Rocky Mount High School. 6) Aiden Moore, 5, watches as program assistant Ja’Quel Dickens playfully blows on his block tower on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, at the Lucy Ann Boddie Brewer Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region. 7) Jo Ann Lamm, left, receives a hug from Southmountain Children and Family Services Executive Director Chris Jernigan after learning that the Nash, Edgecombe, Wilson Children’s Advocacy Center will unofficially be known as ‘Jo Ann’s Place’ as Assistant District Attorney Nancy Lamb applauds on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, during the grand opening and open house for the center in Rocky Mount.


Year in Review • 2019

ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

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Wishing Everyone A Happy 2020! September 1

An embattled Rocky Mount department head has quit as part of the terms of a financial and legal settlement agreement with the municipal government. Landis Faulcon resigned as the city’s community and business development director and was paid $500 for a release from all claims, Rose said. Additionally, Faulcon was paid for 37½ hours of compensation for sick leave, which amounted to $2,308, and for 39.81 hours of unused vacation time, which amounted to $2,450. Faulcon continued to live in Virginia Beach, Va., and in Halifax County about a year in her new job in Rocky Mount. City policy specifies that municipal department heads reside within the city limits. Under Faulcon’s watch, permitting for commercial and residential buildings had slowed to a crawl and key employees in her department had left.

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1) Rocky Mount Fire Engineer Zack Updyke, right, and firefighter J.D. Howard control the bucket and nozzle on Ladder 30 while battling the blaze at That Place Inc., a solid wood furniture manufacturer, on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, at the business on Highland Avenue. 2) Larema Coffee House barista Lucas Hodge, left, teaches new employee Morgan Russell how to make pour over coffee on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, at the new downtown business. 3) Nash County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Allen Wilson chats with a motorist while handing out railroad grade crossing safety information on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, during Operation Clear Track at the railroad grade crossing on Tarboro Road. 4) N.C. Wesleyan College quarterback Donielle Totten, left, is tackled by Shenandoah University’s Tyler Williams as he runs the ball on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex. 5) Josiah Dockery, 6, dresses up for the photo booth Saturday, September 21 during the Your Choice Resource Center Walk for Life at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex. 6) Elizebeth Blair, left, and Isaiah Matta, right, cross the finish line together while holding hands with Muddy the Mudcat on Saturday, September 28 during the Harrison Family YMCA’s third annual Color Run at N.C. Wesleyan College. 7) Rocky Mount High’s Caroline Broderick returns a shot during her No. 1 singles match against Southern Nash’s Iris Radilla on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, at Southern Nash High School. 8) SouthWest Edgecombe’s Davis Wainright, right, tackles Northern Nash’s Jayden Freeman on Friday, September 27 at Northern Nash High School.

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FSU WINS DOWN EAST VIKING FOOTBALL CLASSIC Fayetteville State defeated Elizabeth City State 55-12 in the 22nd annual Down East Viking Football Classic. The ECSU offense, seemingly stuck in neutral in the first three games of the season, recorded season-high production in all facets of the offense. Mistakes at crucial times, including two lost fumbles in the first half that killed potential scoring drives. The game, played at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex, was

SAMPLE BALLOT FUELS SPECULATION

A sample ballot for the Rocky Mount elections is making the rounds and at least one candidate raised concerns that the ballot is confusing voters because it does not identify its source as required by law. The ballots list the whole slate of candidates running in city elections, even though real individual ballots list only the post of mayor and the candidates for a voter’s ward, if that seat is up for election. The sample ballot marks choices for Sandy Roberson as mayor, Tarrick Pittman for Ward 1, Gwen Wilkins for Ward 3, T.J. Walker Jr. for Ward 4 and Lige Daughtridge for Ward 5. No legend is displayed at the bottom of the sample ballot indicating its source. The top simply reads: “We, the Street Team, ask that you vote for the candidates below that are marked.”

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TRAINING WOES DELAY HEAD START

Nash-Edgecombe Economic Development Inc. has delayed the beginning of Head Start programs and Evelyn Powell no longer is employed by the organization. Powell said she was fired during training sessions that were designed to prepare Head Start teachers for the start of classes. She was told that the dismissal was related to performance issues, but she said she felt it was in retaliation for a lawsuit she filed against NEED for suspending her in May 2018. NEED officials said the agency has retained consultants with experience in Head Start programs to help provide updated information about the management of the Head Start centers, compile the grant needed to fund the program over the next five years, evaluate the Head Start centers, train management staff and help develop training agendas for teachers.

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dominated early on by the Broncos, who took advantage of a few positive chunk plays on offense and special teams en route to a 35-12 halftime lead. Although off to a winless start to open season, the Vikings looked like they finally figured out something on offense. They produced 318 yards of total offense after entering the game with a total of 361 across the first three games combined.

SCHOOLS CUT TOP STAFF POSITIONS

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools will eliminate two cabinet-level positions that officials say will result in substantial savings for the cash-strapped school district. The chief of staff position and the chief communications officer position have both been eliminated from the district organizational structure. Interim Superintendent Del Burns said the savings to the school district this fiscal year will be roughly $220,000 in salary and benefits since the positions were occupied for about two months out of the year. In the future, savings in salaries and benefits should top $250,000 a year, he said. An executive director position in the district has been re-purposed to help fill the gap, and the duties of the eliminated positions have been redistributed to other areas, according to a press release from the school district.

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FAMILY JUSTICE CENTER CLOSED DOWN

The Family Justice Center that has been operating in Rocky Mount through My Sister’s House was closed down. Though My Sister’s House was approved for grant funding for the Family Justice Center for the coming year, Emily Lemus, director of My Sister’s House, said that she and her staff members decided to reject the grant. The center is too expensive to sustain, she said, as My Sister’s House was responsible for finding more than $100,000 each year as the cash match required through the grant. The center was one of many across North Carolina and the country that aims to combine the law enforcement, legal, counseling and mental health resources needed by victims of domestic abuse in one place.


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ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

Year in Review • 2019

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ARREST MADE IN MISSING WOMAN’S MURDER

A Nash County woman was charged in the murder of a missing woman whose body was found buried in Spring Hope. The body of Deborah Elaine Deans, who went missing in January 2004 in Nash County, was found behind a home at 1402 Wiley Road near Spring Hope. Kimberly Hancock, 49, was charged with one count of first-degree homicide in Dean’s murder. She was held without bond. The body was found in a wooded area behind two trailers at 1402 and 1889 Wiley Road near Spring Hope. The body was found in a shallow grave, wrapped in debris as described by a tip emailed to the Fighting Crime Facebook page. Nash County Sheriff Stone said that information demonstrates the importance of community input in solving crimes, especially cold cases.

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RUNOFF ELECTION SET TO CHOOSE NEXT MAYOR

Sandy Roberson and Bronson Williams will vie in a runoff election for mayor of Rocky Mount. In unofficial results, Roberson was ahead with 4,718 votes, or 48.2 percent, but he failed to get more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright. Williams received 2,652 votes, or slightly more than 27 percent. Finishing third was Kevin Jones, who received 2,263 votes, or slightly more than 23.1 percent. Finishing fourth was Robert Lee Alston, who received 142 votes, or nearly 1.5 percent. The position came open after Mayor David Combs decided not to seek re-election. In the elections for City Council, incumbents Andre Knight and Richard Joyner were re-elected. Lige Daughtridge won the Ward 5 seat and T.J. Walker Jr. won the Ward 4 seat.

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MAYORAL CANDIDATE’S RESIDENCY CHALLENGED

A Nash County woman filed two protests with the Edgecombe County Board of Elections challenging Bronson Williams’ right to run for Rocky Mount mayor. Both protests are related to Williams’ residency. Though Williams filed to run for mayor in Edgecombe County and listed an Edgecombe County address — 1611 Hargrove St. — as his residence, there seems to be evidence that no one has lived at that address for some time. Williams said he is living with his parents at another location while the Hargrove Street house is undergoing renovations. The second protest states that these residency issues make Williams ineligible to run for mayor because he filed to run for mayor in Edgecombe County. Jones said in the protest that Williams lives on Pinefield Drive in Nash County.

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COUNCIL CANDIDATE EVICTED FROM CITY-OWNED BUILDING

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Rocky Mount City Council candidate Tarrick Pittman’s business has been evicted from a downtown building, with a “no trespassing” sign posted on the door by the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office. A judge in Edgecombe County Superior Court ordered the eviction. Pittman’s CoolGeeks computer repair service had been a tenant in what is a city-owned structure in the 100 block of East Thomas Street. Pittman has argued the building is the scene of environmental issues. City Attorney Jep Rose said Pittman owed a total of $18,420 in unpaid rent and when an agreement could not be reached, the city had no choice but to begin legal proceedings to evict Pittman’s business. Pittman is challenging longtime incumbent Andre Knight.

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CANDIDATE FILES PROTEST AGAINST EARLY VOTING SITES

Mayoral candidate Sandy Roberson filed a protest against the early voting sites for the mayoral runoff election, which he said offered an unfair advantage to Edgecombe County voters. Roberson filed the protest with the state, Nash County and Edgecombe County elections boards. When early voting began, Edgecombe County had voting sites open in Rocky Mount and Tarboro, while Nash County had one in Nashville. The second Nash County site was scheduled to open about a week later at Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount. Roberson handily won the most votes in Nash County but placed third among Edgecombe County voters in the October election. The Nash County elections board met the day after the protest was filed and voted to make Braswell Memorial Library available for early voting the next day.

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SOUTHWEST EDGECOMBE WINS FIRST VOLLEYBALL CONFERENCE TITLE SouthWest Edgecombe defeated visiting Eastern Plains Conference rival North Johnston in straight sets, 25-20, 25-10, 25-21, in a win that sealed the conference championship for the Cougars. It was the first time the Cougars won a volleyball conference championship since 1994, a span of 25 years. The Cougars closed out Game 1

after allowing the Panthers to cut the deficit to three points late in the game, then dominated the second game by scoring the final eight points. North Johnston didn’t buckle in the final set and looked poised to dig out a win. The Panthers held an early 6-4 lead with the help of strong serves and solid net play, only watch the lead slip away.

1) SouthWest Edgecombe’s Lexie House, top, celebrates with teammate Kaliyah Lynch after scoring a point on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, during the match against North Johnston at SouthWest Edgecombe High School. 2) Nisaja Thomas serves the ball Tuesday, October 1 during her match at Northern Nash High School. 3) Kaden Richardson, 4, plays with chains Thursday, October 10 at Cedar Grove Elementary School in Nashville. 4) Haven Taska, 6, left, moves her arms and legs as she spins to feel the effects of spin speed on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, while visiting the Spin exhibit at the Children’s Museum and Science Center at the Imperial Centre. 5) Jackson Griswold, 9, dressed as the Joker from the motion picture ’Suicide Squad,’ enjoys a popcorn ball on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, during the inaugural Halloween Spooktacular in Brown Auditorium at Nash Community College. 6) Tarboro quarterback Kimani McDaniels runs the ball to score a two-point conversion on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, during the game against Pamlico County at Tarboro High School. 7) N.C. Wesleyan College’s Leo Guzman, bottom, Christian Shaw, second from left, and Antonio Johnson combine to tackle Greensboro College’s Cale Matthews on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, at the Vernon T. Bradley Sports Complex.


Year in Review • 2019

ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

1175 Jeffreys Rd. Rocky Mount, NC 27804

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Over 14 Years in Business Kathy Akers

Property Management, Sales and Leasing

REALTOR®, CRS, GRI, SFR

Phone: 252.977.1616

(252)266-4038

Website: www.simmonsandharris.com

www.KathyAkersHomes.com

Nov. & Dec. 1

STATE ORDERS INMATES REMOVED FROM NASH JAIL

The state Department of Health and Human Services ordered the Nash County Detention Center to be reduced to 56 prisoners. Nash County commissioners expect that order to cost the county an estimated $232,000. A letter sent by the department to county officials listed 25 items that must be corrected before additional prisoners can be rehoused in the facility. The Detention Center usually has a population of between 200 and 300 inmates. At the time the letter was sent, about 190 inmates were housed there. About 50 of those, primarily women, violent prisoners and prisoners with special needs, already were in the process of being relocated. Rehousing the inmates will cost about $55 to $60 a day per inmate, Sheriff Keith Stone said.

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ROBERSON WINS MAYORAL ELECTION

Sandy Roberson defeated Bronson Williams in a heated runoff election to become the next mayor of Rocky Mount. Roberson took roughly 60 percent of the cross-county vote in the Twin Counties, gaining 5,924 votes to Williams’ 3,921. The vote was split along county lines, with Roberson winning roughly 70 percent of the Nash County vote and Williams winning roughly 74 percent of the Edgecombe County vote. Nearly 10,000 voters came out for the mayoral election — almost twice as many as voted in the last mayoral election in 2015. In the 2019 election, 9,845 residents cast votes as opposed to 5,201 votes cast in 2015. In that 2015 election, Bronson Williams garnered 1,811 votes, losing to incumbent Mayor David Combs, who choose not to seek another term in 2019.

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SCHOOL BOARD VOTES TO CLOSE THREE SCHOOLS

The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education voted to close Cedar Grove Elementary School, Red Oak Elementary School and Swift Creek Elementary School For roughly two years, the school board has been discussing plans to close the three elementary schools, build a new elementary school in the northern part of the county and consolidate those three schools in one location. While the decision to close Cedar Grove met with limited opposition, similar motions to close Red Oak Elementary School and Swift Creek Elementary School passed unanimously. School board members also approved a motion “to enter into a contract with Cumming to provide initial services through the completion of bidding for the new elementary school in an amount that shall not exceed $175,000 and request funding from (county) commissioners.”

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MAN KILLED IN NASHVILLE HOME INVASION

A man was killed in an early morning shooting at the Oak Tree Apartments in Nashville. Nashville Police Chief Anthony Puckett described the incident as “a home invasion that resulted in a homicide.” Marquis Perry, 27, was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound at the scene. Perry’s girlfriend and 12-year-old child were present in the apartment at the time of the incident and the girlfriend was found bound when police arrived. Warrants later were issued for Antwan Ray Hawkins of Charlotte and Montreal Tyrek Cooper of Maple Street in Rocky Mount. Hawkins, 35, was discovered to be in federal prison on a federal probation violation for weapons and drug charges. Cooper, 24, remained at large and police continued to search for him.

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1) Leo Votipka, 4, watches his grandfather Ben Votipka walking beside him as he pedals his hand-me-down Radio Flyer tricycle in the Englewood neighborhood on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Rocky Mount. 2) A pink and purple sunset fades on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, as seen from the Nash UNC Health Care campus in Rocky Mount. 3) English Edmondson, left, Pearl Davis, center, and Barbara Johnson enjoy Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday, November 27 at First United Methodist Church. 4) SouthWest Edgecombe’s Keishon Porter, left, and Northeastern’s Jerron Hinton battle for the ball Friday, November 29 during a playoff game at SouthWest Edgecombe in Pinetops. 5) Shelby Wagnon, right, holds Ariel, a 6-month-old alpaca, while talking to her twin sister Mercedes Wagnon on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, at Alpaca Bella Fina Ranch in Whitakers. 6) Santa Claus greets 5-month-old Mya Cruz as she participates in the Englewood United Methodist Church living nativity on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, during the 14th annual Lighting of Wesleyan at the Dunn Center at N.C. Wesleyan College.

FIREBIRDS, VIKINGS FALL SHORT IN STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS Tarboro was caught chasing, and the Vikings never caught up as East Surry dominated the Class 1-AA state championship game, winning 56-28, at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium to stop the Vikings’ march toward a third consecutive title. Tarboro’s state-leading 44-game win streak was snapped with the loss, its first since the 2016 season. The streak spanned three East Regional titles and two state championships.

Southern Nash also fell short in its search for its first state football championship. The Firebirds came close but couldn’t capture the elusive championship in a 23-7 loss to West representative Charlotte Catholic in the Class 3-A title game at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium. It was the Cougars’ third consecutive 3-A title.

CITY TO AWARD RESTITUTION TO FORMER STRIKERS

The Rocky Mount City Council voted to award restitution to sanitation workers who had been fired after having gone on strike in 1978. The restitution represents $1,000, specifically a week’s pay and benefits adjusted for inflation, for each striking employee fired by the municipal government on July 25, 1978, and reinstated on July 31, 1978. The strike protested the arrest and suspension of the late sanitation worker Alexander Evans, an African-American, for allegedly stealing a man’s suit left out on his garbage route in the predominantly white Englewood residential area. Evans, of Whitakers, was convicted in Rocky Mount District Court of committing misdemeanor larceny but eventually was cleared by a jury in Nash County Superior Court. Evans resumed working for the sanitation department and eventually retired.


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ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

Year in Review • 2019

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2019 Year in Review  

A look back at the top stories of 2019 in the Twin Counties

2019 Year in Review  

A look back at the top stories of 2019 in the Twin Counties