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January Sheriff, county board at odds over jail issues



“We have already corrected the operational issues. If the facility issues were fixed, we would be able to return the Keith Stone inmates,” Stone said. But Nash County board Chairman Robbie Davis said the delay is caused by the sheriff’s office because the problems at the jail primarily are operations issues. “All the immediate facilities issues were addressed before Dec. 27 and were verified by the state,” Davis said. “The state has stated that the prisoners could T he state D epartment be returned at the Robbie Davis of H ealth and H uman time the Office of S ervices had ordered Sheriff gives them a staffing plan and it is approved.” that the detention Maj. Miste Strickland of the center be reduced to sheriff’s office, who helps oversee 56 prisoners by D ec . jail operations, said she was 27, 2019, until a list confused by Davis’ statement and did not foresee the return of the of multiple items are inmates any time soon. corrected . M ore than “I am not aware of any staffing 130 inmates were plan that needs to be submitted,” she said. “I do know there are still removed from the facility at the order of facilities issues. The county is still working on the plumbing. The jail the state DHHS. is not ready for the return of the inmates because of the facilities issue.” corrected. More than 130 inmates The final decision as to when were removed from the facility at to return the inmates largely will depend on the results of a rethe order of the state DHHS. Sheriff Keith Stone said the inspection by the state, Strickland county is to blame for the delay. said. Debate continued to swirl about when missing Nash County Detention Center inmates will return and whether the issues that remain are the responsibility of Nash County or the Nash County Sheriff’s Office. The county is responsible for the facilities issues at the jail and the sheriff's office is responsible for the operational issues. The state Department of Health and Human Services had ordered that the detention center be reduced to 56 prisoners by Dec. 27, 2019, until a list of multiple items are

ALAN CAMPBELL/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Triveya Downing, right, takes duck feed pellets from the hand of her father, Travis Downing, as her mother, Latoya McKinney, tosses the pellets to ducks on Jan. 3 at City Lake Park.

SARAH LOUYA/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Beck Johnson, left, plays with Legos with his sister Spence on Jan. 8 at the Imperial Centre.

SARAH LOUYA/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Storm, a 5-year-old Shih Tzu, receives a trim from Beth Smith on Jan. 7 at Pet’s Best Friend.

SARAH LOUYA/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Linda King, center, holds a pink sign and chants during an anti-war rally held by the Racial Justice Group on Jan. 13 in front of City Hall.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Rocky Mount Academy’s Mary Hanna Bryant drives around a pair of Faith Christian defenders on Jan. 28 during a basketball game at RMA.

SARAH LOUYA/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Helen Holt pushes her granddaughter Holland Blanchard on a swing on Jan. 10 at Sunset Park.


1151 Falls Rd, Suite 2008 Rocky Mount




Year in Review • 2020



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WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Kenidrin Waring looks at pieces from the ‘Celebrating the Legacy of African American Achievements’ art exhibit at Braswell Memorial Library.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM A train travels through the snow on Feb. 20 in downtown Rocky Mount.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Dion Smith rides his skateboard on Feb. 8 in downtown Rocky Mount.

CALVIN ADKINS/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Tarboro High School junior Nyla Guilford asks a question during the roundtable session of the Rural Student Forum on Feb. 11 at Edgecombe Community College in Tarboro.

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Shay Battle speaks during the Celebrate Life Banquet on Feb. 27 at Englewood Baptist Church.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Clyde Gallop, right, talks with city Parks and Recreation Grant Administrator David Griffin on Feb. 27 during a public input session to seek guidance for a master plan for Battle Park.

Red Oak site chosen for new elementary school The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education gave final approval to a plan to use the campus of the current Red Oak Elementary School as the site of the new consolidated elementary school. The new school will combine Cedar Grove, Swift Creek and Red Oak elementary schools. School board members Doneva Chavis, LaShawnda Washington and Reginald Silver voted against the plan. Chavis said she felt it would be better to keep Cedar Grove open and combine only the Swift Creek and Red Oak elementary schools. A school board ad hoc new construction committee voted to recommend choosing the Red Oak campus after hearing a report from Cumming Corp., the project management firm hired by the school district to help walk it through the initial phases of site selection and construction. Representatives from Doneva Chavis

R epresentatives from C umming said the R ed O ak site made more sense because of factors affecting its price , the land composition and

access to utilities was better known and the site was a feasible location .

Cumming said the Red Oak site made more sense because of factors affecting its price, the land composition and access to utilities was better known and the site was a feasible location. After the decision was announced, Nash


S T O R Y County Commissioner Fred Belfield said he will not support the building of a school at the Red Oak site. “The school should have been somewhere, Fred Belfield as close as possible, centrally located between those schools,” Belfield said. “If Red Oak wanted to keep their elementary school, they should keep the one they already have and build a consolidated school for Swift Creek and Cedar Grove. ... I see the whole thing as unfair. “Therefore, this is one commissioner who is dropping out from support of the consolidated school. I will not vote for one penny for that school.” Nash County board Chairman Robbie Davis reminded Belfield that the decision concerning site selection was not up to county commissioners. “We are attempting to work with school board members, and site selection is an issue that is out of our hands,” Davis said.

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Year in Review • 2020





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WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Haliwa-Saponi dancers perform during the International Festival of Cultures on March 7 at Nash Community College.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Meer Still, back, plays on the slide with Kai Still on March 12 at Buck Leonard Park.

First COVID-19 case reported in Twin Counties



The first local case of for groups of more than 100 COVID-19 was reported on people from assembling on local government properties. March 20 in Nash County. On March 13, Mayor Sandy The test had not been conRoberson declared firmed by the state lab a state of emerby the end of that day, gency to take efbut Nash County Health fect on March 15 Director Bill Hill said the in Rocky Mount. information was “credible All tournaments enough to get my attenscheduled for tion.” the Rocky Mount Bill Hill “I did have a health care Sports Complex vendor to report a positive case in Nash County. We and all events scheduled at the are still running that down,” Rocky Mount Event Center Hill said. “Our state system is with gatherings of 100 or more still not showing a case in our people were canceled until the county. This may be a report- declaration was revoked. ing issue or a residency issue.” Whether or not the case appears soon on state reports, Hill said Nash County is vulnerable to COVID-19 cases. T here are enough “There are enough cases out there, and this coronavi- cases out there , and rus does not recognize county this coronavirus lines and is easily transmittadoes not recognize ble,” Hill said.“It is a matter of county lines and is when, not if, it comes here.” Hill said the person easily transmittable . self-quarantined along with I t is a matter of the other person living in the when , not if , it same house. comes here . The news came near the -B ill H ill end of a month that saw state and local officials announce measures designed to limit the spread of the virus. Most On March 14, Cooper issued events had been canceled or an order closing all K-12 pubpostponed and many govern- lic schools, effective on March ment buildings were closed to 16 to last for a period of two the public. weeks. That order later was On March 10, Gov. Roy extended indefinitely. Cooper declared a statewide On March 17, Cooper issued emergency to prevent any an order closing restaurants mass gatherings or commu- and bars across the state to nity or social events organized dine-in patrons.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Co-owner Joshua Parvin pours a beer for a customer on March 16 at Koi Pond Brewing Co.

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Nurse Jamie Bragg of the Nash County Health Department demonstrates how COVID-19 testing is being conducted outside the department on March 18 in Nashville.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Owner Kimberly Clayton places two-ounce containers of the hand sanitizer she makes at The Bath Place in downtown Rocky Mount.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Law enforcement officers remove items from what had been a sweepstakes establishment on March 24 in the Conetoe area


Year in Review • 2020


The first two COVID-19 related deaths occurred on April 7 in the Twin Counties. One death was in Nash County. The other was in Edgecombe County. The Nash County resident whose death was related to COVID-19 was a man in his late 70s with underlying health conditions, according to a press release from the Nash County Health Department. Nash County Health Director Bill Hill said he and his team had feared Bill Hill that day would come. “We have been following this case closely since (April 2),”Hill said.“Based on the gravity of the illness, I knew the outcome could not be good unless something changed.” The Edgecombe County resident who died was a woman in her late 60s with underlying medical conditions, according to a press release from the Edgecombe County Health Department. “We are heartbroken to announce the first death in our county related to COVID-19,” Edgecombe County Health Director Karen Lachapelle said. “On behalf of myself and our staff, we send our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends.” Both Hill and Lachapelle said the deaths highlight the need to comply with executive orders and advice from local health officials. “Today’s heart-breaking news is a sad reminder of the dangers of COVID-19, and I want our community to know that their decisions impact the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hill said. “It is imperative for the health of yourself, your family and your community that you follow the governor’s stay-at-home order, stay home when you don’t feel well, wash your hands often and clean frequently touched surfaces. When you must go out, practice social distancing by staying six feet away from other persons.” By April 30, 191 positive cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths had been reported in the Twin Counties. And those area case numbers and deaths continued to swell throughout the year.


Coronavirus claims first two lives in area



AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM U.S. Postal Service employee Wanda Coleman serves customer Henry Battle Jr. through a protective barrier on April 2 at the Nashville Post Office.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Damian Taylor of the Washington Crab & Oyster Co. sells crabs on April 4 on opening day of the 2020 Nash County Farmers Market.

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Nash-Rocky Mount bus driver Florence Nicholson helps school nutrition workers deliver meals to students and their families on April 9 in the Thorne Ridge II Apartment Complex.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Children make thank-you cards for Nash UNC Health Care workers during a session of the child care program for essential workers at the Harrison Family YMCA.

B y A pril 30, 191 positive cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths had been reported in the T win

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM With protective barriers, face masks and gloves in place, a woman pays for her groceries at Smith’s Red & White in Dortches.

C ounties . A nd those area case numbers and deaths continued to swell throughout the year .

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Yolanda Evans prepares a package of food on April 23 at the Taste of Paradise.

Year in Review • 2020





State audit finds problems with city finances, operations WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM The Rev. Bernard Grant delivers a sermon during a drive-in church service on May 2 at Showers of Blessing church.

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Maj. David Phelps of the local chapter of the Salvation Army walks down West Raleigh Road on May 14 as part of a journey of appreciation for the work of volunteers.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM City residents make payments on May 12 at the drive-thru window at the municipal Business Services Center.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM A wreath is positioned in front of a police cruiser parked in front of City Hall on May 14 in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15 and National Police Week.

The findings of a probe into the finances and operations of Rocky Mount’s municipal government by State Auditor Beth Wood outlined instances of certain city officials receiving preferential treatment, certain city policies not having been followed, a lack of collections of certain money owed to the city and a misspending of Rocky Mount taxpayers' dollars in certain instances. A key part of the findings was that multiple city officials prevented the municipal Business Services Center from Beth Wood trying to collect $47,704 in utility bills owed by Councilman Andre Knight. The audit also reported that City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney spent taxpayer funds on unallowable travel expenses. The report said the failure to comply with the travel policy resulted in $1,575 in unnecessary travel expenses. The city said Small-Toney spent $858.62 in November 2017 at a National League Rochelle of Cities conference in Charlotte and Small-Toney $557.50 in August 2018 at an ElectriCities conference in Asheville. According to the report, Small-Toney used the city’s credit card at two dinners at the conferences to charge an average of $95.40 a person for one meal and $50.69 a person for the other meal, instead of the allowable $21 per diem dinner rate. The audit report also found that the Andre Knight municipal Engineering Division failed to comply with the code of ordinances in a case of a subdivision development, which could cost the city $31,000. Former Mayor David Combs was identified as a partner in the A key part of the development company in the case. findings was that The audit also reported multiple city officials failures to follow the prevented the guidelines of city programs designed to municipal B usiness help developers and S ervices C enter property owners replace roofs of downtown from trying to buildings and renovate collect $47,704 in downtown buildings. The findings showed $32,452 utility bills owed by in uncollected loans and C ouncilman A ndre $28,000 in improperly K night . awarded loans and grants. The report also found that city managers had failed to designate an ADA coordinator for matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act for as far back as the September 2010 retirement of the then-city human relations director, who had been serving in both positions.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Tina Truong sells masks, face shields and hats outside 5 Star Nails in Cobb Corners. WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Protestors march down Falls Road on May 31 toward the Confederate monument.




Year in Review • 2020

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(252) 813-3109 stephaniewebbsemail@gmail.com

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June CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Kristyn Unangst, left, talks with Dr. Priyank Desai inside the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Nash UNC Health Care.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Zaxby’s employees are evacuated from their floodwater-engulfed restaurant on June 17 in Nashville.

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Members of the Civil Air Patrol and National Guard help distribute personal protective equipment to representatives of long-term care facilities on June 3 at the Red Oak Volunteer Fire Department.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Yezen Hamad gives a piece of watermelon to Gabe Geoffrion on June 20 at the original Mack’s Produce Stand on East Raleigh Boulevard.

THOMAS HARPER/SPECIAL TO THE TELEGRAM Crews work to dismantle and move the Confederate monument on June 29 in front of Battle Park along Falls Road.



WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Senika Nicole Cofield performs during the inaugural Juneteenth Gospel Concert on June 19 at Mount Zion First Baptist Church.

Work crews remove Confederate monument Work crews in late June removed the represented by Councilman Reuben BlackConfederate monument that had stood well. since 1917 near the entrance to Battle Park “It’s something that memorializes muralong Falls Road. der to me and to people who look like The dismantling of the monument elicme, rape to me and people who look like ited mixed reactions from people who me and economic subjugation to me and watched the work. people who look like me,”Blackwell “This is a good day,” said Linsaid. “... My only desire is to move wood Gallop, an African-Amerthe statue in a manner that can be ican man who has lived in the preserved for folks to be able to look Rocky Mount area for about a at it in a place they want to is beyear. cause I’m trying to be bigger than Buck Luper, a lifelong white resthe people who put it up, who did ident of Rocky Mount, had a difnot care about what I felt or people Reuben Blackwell ferent reaction. who look like me or anything relat“I just hate to see part of history ed to my journey." removed,” he said. The monument was the scene of a peaceThe Rocky Mount City Council voted ful protest on May 31 to call attention to 6-1 to remove the monument at a cost of the death of African-American George $281,250 during its June 8 meeting. The Floyd while in police custody in Minneapcity hired the Greenville Monument Co. to olis and whose death resulted in riots in handle the removal of the monument. The council directed that the monument cities nationwide. The original dedication of the monument be moved to a place for safekeeping to protect it from any destruction or vandal- was held on May 14, 1917. Col. R.H. Ricks, ism until there is a determination at a later a Rocky Mount native, donated funds for its purchase and installation. The original time about a suitable private location. The monument had stood in the ward cost of the monument was $15,000.

T he

monument was the scene of a peaceful protest

on M ay 31 to call attention to the death of A frican A merican G eorge F loyd while in police custody in M inneapolis and whose death resulted in riots in cities nationwide .

Year in Review • 2020


Belinda Faulkner Moorefield Real Estate



July Developers cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project Dominion Energy and Duke Energy approximately 70-acre farm as part of the abruptly cancelled the $8 billion Atlan- future route of the pipeline. tic Coast Pipeline project, attributing the “My farm is safe, but everybody else decision to ongoing legal battles, delays benefits from this decision, too,” Winand increasing cost uncertainties that stead said. made the project economically Area economic development ofunviable. ficials did not have the same reThe Atlantic Coast Pipeline action. was announced in 2014 in reCarolinas Gateway Partnership sponse to a lack of energy supPresident and CEO Norris Tolson ply and delivery diversification said the pipeline project would in North Carolina and Virginhave provided the area with adia. Demand for the project was ditional infrastructure that many Norris Tolson driven by the regional retirecompanies need. ment of coal-fired electric gen“We’re disappointed about that eration in favor of environmenbecause I think it is a significant tally lower-cost natural gas-fired issue for all of rural North Caroligeneration. na, especially eastern North CaroWhile Dominion Energy and lina, to not have access to a sort of Duke Energy had long touted unlimited supply of natural gas,” the energy and economic benhe said. efits of the pipeline, the project Marvin Winstead Rocky Mount Area Chamber of had a multitude of detractors, Commerce President and CEO many with concerns about how the projDavid Farris said while he was disapect would impact the environment. pointed by the news, he believed there Nash County farmer Marvin Winstead, will be other opportunities for the area in leader of the nonprofit Nash Stop the terms of energy beyond the pipeline. Pipeline, said he was delighted but sur“I don’t think we’ve ever felt like we prised when he heard the news. would live or die with the pipeline,” FarWinstead had been fighting the proj- ris said. “It certainly seemed like it was ect since receiving a letter in May 2014 going to be or play a major role in econotifying him of a proposal to cross his nomic development.”



W instead

had been fighting the project since receiving a letter in M ay 2014 notifying him of a proposal to cross his approximately


acre farm as part of the future route of the pipeline .

AMELIA HARPER/ ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Gatekeepers Workcamp volunteers Andy Barker and Carley Outlaw work on a plant bed and trellis on July 16 in the common area of the South Rocky Mount Community Gardens.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Surrounded by friends and family, Miriam Bindrim watches a welcome-home car parade on July 9 in front of her home in Nash County.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Participants of the We Fit Leadership Academy pull weeds during a visit to Kendrick Ransome’s Golden Organic Farm outside Pinetops.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Nurse Brandy Earp stocks the nurses station inside the COVID unit at Nash UNC Health Care.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM A downtown building being renovated at the southwest corner of Southwest Main Street and Western Avenue collapsed on July 28 amid stormy conditions.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO A girl operates a flight simulator during the IBX Stem Center’s Drone Camp hosted by Michael’s Angels Girls Club in Tarboro.





Year in Review • 2020



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August City computer system hacked in cyberattack

JOHN H. WALKER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Members of the Tarboro River Bandits swarm teammate Phillip Boykin after his walk-off home run lifted them to victory over Fuquay-Varina in the Carolina Virginia Collegiate League championship on Aug. 1 at Tarboro Municipal Stadi



Someone hacked the City of Rocky Mount’s computer network by using Conti ransomware — and the municipality refused to make a payment for the return of information. City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney said the city’s technology staff found out certain files in the city’s computer network had been encrypted so city employees could not open them — and that the city was the victim of “a sophisticated ransomware attack.” Ransomware is a type of malicious computer software designed to block access to one’s computer system until a sum of money is paid. Rochelle Problems with the computer system were Small-Toney detected early in the morning of Aug. 14 in the city’s Emergency 911 system, Small-Toney said. Mayor Sandy Roberson said that once ransomware was determined to C ity M anager be the cause of the disruption to the computer R ochelle S mall network, an incident reT oney said the city ’ s sponse team comprised of technology staff forensic professionals, infound out certain frastructure recovery exfiles in the city ’ s perts, a breach coach and city staff was assembled. computer network Roberson said there was had been encrypted a demand for a ransom so city employees and made clear the city could not open refused to do so after conthem — and that the sulting with the FBI and other law enforcement city was the victim agencies. of “ a sophisticated “They were demanding ransomware attack .” Bitcoin payment in return for a tool that would decrypt the encrypted files and any data that they may have taken,” City Finance Director Amy Staton said. Staton said that this particular computer virus generally spreads quite quickly. “Within three seconds of someone signing on, it can encrypt their computer,” Staton said. Amy Staton City officials said in a news release that “the group responsible for this cyberattack claim to have stolen city information and are threatening to publicly release the information unless the city pays a ransom.”The press release re-emphasized the city was not going to make the payment.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Students walk across campus after returning for classes on Aug. 19 at N.C. Wesleyan College.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Milo Wood of Burchette Sign Corp in Colfax installs a new sign at the Circle K convenience store at the corner of Sunset and Winstead avenues.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Executive Director Ginny Mohrbutter launches confetti during the kickoff of the United Way of the Tar River Region’s 2020-21 fundraising campaign on Aug. 27 at Davenport Honda.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Pamela Stahl, left, and Jeffrey Steven Warren put up flowers in honor of their late friend, Timothy Medley, on Aug. 11 at a Tar River Transit station.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Luke Smith checks out the ducks during a visit with his grandmother to Indian Lake in Tarboro.

Year in Review • 2020





2 0 2 0 September


The city's proposed downtown hotel project was put on hold after the developer involved with the public-private project was indicted on federal charges in Mississippi. David Hunt, 54, of Jackson, Tenn., was charged in connection with allegedly being part of a bid-rigging scheme with a past official of Mississippi’s department of education. Hunt and his team had been proposing to build a hotel, parking garage, retail spaces and housing adjacent to the Rocky Mount Event Center. Hunt does business as Hunt Services, which includes hotels, offices and retail center locations. His list of businesses includes Doc Imaging, which is in the business of managing documents and providing printing services. David Hunt Also indicted in the case were former Mississippi Department of Education official Cerissa Renfroe Neal, 45, and Joseph Kyles, 51, and Lambert Martin, 59, both of Memphis. T he indictment states The indictment states that to meet the that from 2013-16, Neal would split contract re- M ississippi D epartment quests from one contract of E ducation ’ s into multiple, smaller requirement that contracts to avoid the amounts that would such an informal trigger a formal, combid have at least two petitive bidding process. competing vendor The indictment states that to meet the Mis- quotes , N eal would sissippi Department of obtain bogus and Education's requireinflated quotes , by ment that such an informal bid have at least herself and from two competing vendor H unt , K yles and quotes, Neal would obM artin . tain bogus and inflated quotes, by herself and from Hunt, Kyles and Martin. The indictment states that this was designed to make the intended conspirator’s business the lower bid — and to guarantee the awarding of the contract. As a result, Neal received more than $42,000 directly or indirectly from her conspirators, and Hunt, Kyles and Martin, through their businesses, got more than $650,000 from the State of Mississippi The city had been trying to seek state Local Government Commission approval of Hunt's plan to build the parking garage as part of the proposed downtown project. The City Council voted two weeks after news of the indictment to suspend the request of the state for approval of part of the proposed downtown development project and also to have a regional law firm double-check the details.


Downtown project put on hold after developer indicted

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Hannah Auer competes on Sept. 6 in the Labor Day Weekend Ninja Competition at Ultimate Backyard Warrior in Rocky Mount.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Progressive Care Services employee Kendrick Sexton hands a helping of free food to Jayla Pittman on Sept. 4 as part of the clinic’s outreach efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Volunteers load boxes of fresh food onto trucks on Sept. 18 outside the United Way Tar River headquarters on Sunset Avenue.

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Workers install a new sign directing pilots to the new state-of-the-art self-serve fuel farm on Sept. 22 at the Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional Airport.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Dyrll Smith picks up litter at the interchange of U.S. 64 and Atlantic Avenue.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM A player prepares to catch the ball during the second round of the Tru Vegas Event Center Kickball Tournament on Sept. 13 in Tarboro.




Year in Review • 2020


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WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Nash County Chief Deputy Brandon Medina, center, talks with a city police officer during the ‘Serving the Servants’ event on Oct. 10 at Black Cat Harley-Davidson.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Voters line up to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting on Oct. 15 at the former Trade-It store on Wesleyan Boulevard.

WILLIAM F. WEST/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Emergency personnel on Oct. 9 take a shooting victim out of the Walmart on Benvenue Road.

MIKE GREINER/SPECIAL TO THE TELEGRAM A tractor-trailer rests in the median after a collision with a car on Oct. 19 on Interstate 95 at Gold Rock.

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM School nurse Deb Terrell, left, and receptionist Shonda Locket screen a student and check his mask as returns to his classroom on Oct. 19 at Benvenue Elementary School.

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Roughly 900 area residents participated in the Nash County Trick or Treat Trail event on Oct. 28 in Nashville.

Local man wounded in shooting inside Walmart A shooting on Oct. 9 at the Walmart Su- away. That is when the shots were fired and percenter sent shoppers scrambling and Ray was struck. closed off access to the Cobb Corners shopAccording to the search warrant, police ping center. reviewed video footage after the shooting An eyewitness who was in the and an officer identified the susWalmart at the time of the shootpects due to having had dealings ing said arguing was heard in the with them a couple of weeks earlier. deli section of the store before Officers also found out the susshots were fired. pects had spent the night of Oct. “I heard two shots but some oth8 at a residence in the 600 block ers said they heard three shots,”he of Piedmont Avenue, the warrant said. “When the shots were fired, everyone just froze. Then people Akavius Knight states. Officers went to that residence, began to leave the store. Some left located Jaylen Knight and Darrius using the emergency exits.” Williams and detained them, the The victim was identified as 34-year-old Willie Ray. Ray was warrant states. initially transported to Nash UNC Knight, 21, and Williams, 19, were Health Care then transferred to charged with assault with a deadly Vidant Medical Center in Greenweapon with intent to kill inflicting ville. serious injury. According to a search warrant, Darius Williams The third suspect, a juvenile, was Ray told police he had been in the released to his parents. His name self-checkout line when he was was not released at the time bepushed by four men and a fight cause of his status as a juvenile but ensued. later was identified as Quashawn Ray told police he punched one Cherry in the warrant of the men and the other suspects The fourth suspect, Akavius pulled him away from the one he Knight, 20, later was arrested in had punched, the warrant states. Muskogee, Okla., and charged in Ray told police one of the suspects Jaylen Knight pulled a gun and he began to run connection with the incident.



T he

victim was identified as 34- year - old W illie R ay . R ay was initially transported to N ash UNC H ealth C are then transferred to V idant M edical C enter in G reenville .

Year in Review • 2020


Over 15 Years in Business

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Kathy Akers






Nash County deputy loses life in line of duty A Nash County deputy was seriously in- were transported to Nash UNC Health Care jured in a car crash and later died at Vidant for treatment of non-life-threatening injuMedical Center in Greenville. ries. Allison served with the Nash County The wreck occurred after Deputy Jared Allison, 26, tried to halt a careless and reckless Sheriff’s Office for 2½ years and was asmotorcyclist on Thanksgiving Day on South signed to the office’s traffic team. He was a U.S. Army veteran and an avid aniWesleyan Boulevard. Allison was working as part of mal lover and rescuer. “We have lost a hero,” Stone said. the sheriff’s office’s participation in the Governor’s Highway Safe“He was a wonderful, caring person. ty Program’s Thanksgiving Click It He gave out many verbal warnings and was as much of an educator or Ticket Campaign to enforce the seat belt law to ensure motorist in the community as he was a law enforcement officer. He was a true safety during the holiday. Jared Allison Allison had halted a southbound gentleman, and he exemplified our core value of compassion.” driver in a traffic stop on South Allison’s compassion received meWesleyan Boulevard when he spotted a motorcyclist driving recklessly and be- dia attention in the summer of 2019 when gan a pursuit heading south on Wesleyan an animal rescue operation he participated Boulevard, Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone in was filmed by Animal Planet for a program to be broadcast on the channel. He said. The 2019 Ford Explorer that Allison was and his wife adopted a dog from that rescue driving struck a Nissan sedan at the inter- operation and named it Nash. section with Old Mill Road and May Drive. "His family still has that dog," Stone said. Allison is survived by his 9-year-old son The Explorer went onto the median and struck a culvert, resulting in him being eject- Colt Michael Allison, wife Brenae Allison and parents Scott Allison and Angela Mced via the passenger side of the vehicle. The driver and passenger of the Nissan Clellan.

WILLIAMS S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Dr. Michael Hicks examines a patient on Nov. 16 at Hicks Animal Clinic, which marked its 100th year in operation in 2020.



have lost a hero . H e was a

wonderful , caring person .



out many verbal warnings and was as much of an educator in the community as he was a law enforcement officer . H e was a true gentleman ,

and he exemplified our core value of compassion . - K eith S tone

AMELIA HARPER/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM The Rev. William J. Barber II speaks during a ‘Last Call to the Polls’ event on Nov. 2 in the parking lot of the Rocky Mount Event Center.

WILLIAMS S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Members of the Street Soldiers motorcycle club help Lewis Clark put on his club vest after making him an honorary member outside his home in Rocky Mount.

WILLIAMS S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Morgan Dawson slides through artificial snow during the Tree Lighting Festival on Nov. 28 in Red Oak. WILLIAMS S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Felix Morton helps distribute free turkeys on Nov. 24 outside the Rocky Mount OIC.




Year in Review • 2020


WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Nash County deputies pay tribute to Deputy Jared Allison as his body in taken out of an ambulance on Dec. 2 at Wheeler & Woodlief Funeral Home.

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM The annual Tower Lighting was held on Dec. 3 at Rocky Mount Mills. Due to coronavirus precautions, there was no in-person viewing of the event.


First COVID-19 vaccinations given in area The first COVID-19 vaccinations in the area were administered on Dec. 17 at Nash UNC Health Care. Tonygia Lynch, a nursing assistant in the Nash UNC Health Care Emergency Department, was the first local person to receive the vaccine. When asked why she chose to get the shot, Tonygia Lynch said she wanted to set an example for others in the community. “Because I am a Black female with underlying health issues, I want the community to know how important it is to take the shot,” she said. “It’s important for the community to see me get the shot. There is a possibility that you could die if you got COVID. I have nine grandbabies that I want to see grow up. Why take the risk of dying when you can live since you have something that could help you?” Dr. Kenneth Moore, a physician in the emergency department at Nash UNC, was

WILLIAM S. MANLEY/ROCKY MOUNT TELEGRAM Leroy Thomas restocks a table on Dec. 4 at the Peacemakers Christmas Toy Store.


one of the first doctors to be vaccinated at Nash UNC. Moore said he had done the research and was ready to get the vaccine. “I had done a lot of background research scientifically — not research from the press — and I decided that this is the right thing to do at the right time,” Moore said. “I’m an ER doctor. I’m on the front lines. I’m in an at-risk population, my age and race and co-morbid condition puts me at risk, and I also want to ensure my family’s safety.” The hospital was just beginning Phase 1A of its vaccine distribution plan in which the vaccine will be given to front-line workers at the hospital who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19, said Dorsey Tobias, executive director for marketing, communications and strategy for Nash UNC Health Care. The vaccine will not be mandatory and only will be administered during the designated phase to the workers who choose

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Tonygia Lynch receives the area’s first COVID-19 vaccination on Dec. 17 at Nash UNC Health Care.

to receive it, Tobias said. The vaccine delivered to Nash UNC Health Care was part of a batch of Pfizer vaccines that were being distributed to hospitals across the state. Local health officials said it would be months before the vaccine is widely available to the general public.


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Rocky Mount Telegram 2020 Year in Review  

Rocky Mount Telegram 2020 Year in Review