May 2020

Page 1

MAY 2020 | Your Community. Your Neighbors. Your Story.

Stronger Together A look at

Camp Flintlock

Meet a local

sci-fi writer

The Benson Sing celebrates

100 years

A message from Johnston Health It has been said that if you want to know the true measure of a person or a team, observe them under pressure or in crisis. We are thankful for what our many teams at Johnston Health have shown us and our community in response to the COVID-19 crisis. In spite of the pandemic, our hospitals continue to serve. To bring babies into the world, to repair diseased hearts, to handle emergencies. And while these uncertain times may have interrupted our routines, they have not shaken our commitment. We are thankful to our employees and medical providers who have met this challenge with courage, creativity and compassion. And while the crisis is still looming, we are now seeing a break in the clouds. As we emerge from the pandemic, we look forward to resuming the elective electi surgeries and procedures put on hold while preparing for COVID-19 patients. We appreciate your patience and understanding while we all have adapted and responded to the crisis. Know that we will always stay the course, to provide expert care, close to home. - Tom Williams CEO Johnston Health





The Johnston Health Foundation Needs Your Support in Our Efforts to Help Patients and Providers Through the COVID-19 Crisis! Here’s How You Can Help!

Monetary Gift

Your tax-deductible donation will provide critical funding for Johnston Health’simmediate needs to fight the pandemic, including protective equipment for health care providers on the front lines of the outbreak and aid for already-vulnerable patients.

To Give Visit:

In-Kind Donation

Johnston Health is asking community organizations, corporations and individuals to donate much-needed medical supplies to help protect workers and patients across the region. To donate items contact our Corporate and Community Outreach Coordinator: Leah Johnson 919-938-7194

ON THE COVER MAY 2020 | Your Community. Your Neighbors. Your Story.

Stronger Together A look at

Camp Flintlock

Meet a local

sci-fi writer

The Benson Sing celebrates

100 years

People from all across Johnston County are coming together to cope with the affects of COVID-19.



Volume 4, Number 6

A Shandy Communications, LLC publication

Publisher Randy Capps


General Manager

Shanna Capps




Advertising Manager


Ethan Capps

Irene Brooks

Office Manager Katie Crowder

Interested in advertising? Send an email to or call 919-980-5522

Story idea or a photo to share? Send an email to or mail it to P.O. Box 58, Four Oaks, N.C. 27524

919-980-5522 1300 W. Market Street, Smithfield, N.C. 27577 Johnston Now Magazine is a monthly publication of Shandy Communications, LLC for our Johnston County neighbors. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written consent by the publisher. Advertisers take sole responsibility for the validity of their advertisement. ©2020 Johnston Now. All rights reserved.














Camp Flintlock is a window to the Colonial past


Looking for silver linings in a sky full of clouds Five years ago, we published the first edition of the Four Oaks Journal, the magazine that eventually morphed into the one you’re reading now.

I mean, did you ever think you’d see someone turn rum into hand sanitizer — or see the day that toilet paper would become more valuable than silver?

It was a simpler time. You could sit down in a restaurant and everything.

What you won’t see this month is the community calendar. This will be the first magazine we’ve ever done without one, but since everything we might have listed has gone virtual, been postponed or even canceled, we figured we’d use that space in a more productive way.

Like everyone else, we’re adjusting to our new reality. This month, you’ll find plenty of information about how Johnston County residents are pitching in to help one another during the coronavirus pandemic inside these pages. I’ve heard that adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it. And what I’ve seen so far from this community makes me proud.

We’re adjusting, as we hope you are, to this bizarre set of circumstances. Remember to shop local (when you must), eat local and tip well when you do.

And, if you wouldn’t mind reading and advertising locally, too, we’d be grateful. RANDY CAPPS

We’ll get through this together. With any luck, having to do without so many things in the name of social distancing will help us develop a deeper appreciation for life’s simple pleasures. Like a hot basket of chips and queso at El Barzon, for example. Stay safe out there!

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MAY 2020 | 5

Earn a degree or certificate entirely online at JCC By Dr. David N. Johnson

Johnston Community College President

SMITHFIELD — The outbreak of COVID-19 has abruptly changed every aspect of our lives. Individuals across our community are trying to find a new “normal,” but let’s be honest, how can we return to normal when everything has seemingly changed? For most, we can no longer send our children to school, visit loved ones, attend a place of worship or even go to work. If we cannot go to work or no longer have work to go to, how can we afford to learn new skills? At Johnston Community College, we understand because we are all in this crisis together. To help meet the changing needs of our community, we have shifted almost all of our classes to an entirely online format, allowing you to earn a certificate or degree from an accredited college from the comfort of home. Right now, you can

enroll in most of our courses at minimal or no cost with scholarships and financial aid. Continuing education classes could be free if you are unemployed, underemployed or have received a layoff notice. Our online degrees include Associate of Arts college transfer, Associate of Science college transfer, Criminal Justice Technology, Fire Protection Technology and our Business Administration programs, including Accounting and Finance and Medical Office Administration. Want to learn a new skill or take a single class? We have more than 350 unique courses that allow you to start learning today through Ed2Go. We offer courses in arts and design, business, computer applications, computer science, construction and trades, health and fitness, hospitality, information

technology, language, legal, math and science, test preparation and writing. For more information, visit or call at 919-934-3051.

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Johnston Health names Endoscopy Nurse Ambassador of the Month Submitted by Johnston Health

SMITHFIELD — Sheila Nixon, a nurse who has worked for 28 years in the Endoscopy Department, has been named Johnston Health Ambassador of the Month. During a recent presentation, interim CEO Tom Williams said Nixon is a dedicated nurse whose focus is always the patient. “She communicates well with patients and families, assists with orienting new co-workers and keeps up with the latest trends — all to ensure that her department is providing safe and excellent care,” Williams said. Nixon says she is passionate about her work because the colonoscopy is such a good tool for preventing and detecting colon cancer. Though the procedure has saved many lives through the years, she

Interim CEO Tom Williams congratulates Sheila Nixon, a nurse in the Endoscopy Department at Johnston Health, on being named Johnston Health Ambassador of the Month. At far left and right are: Ruth Marler, Chief Nursing Officer; Amy Skinner, the department’s Clinical Coordinator; Karla Allen, Manager of OR Operations and Amy Hamby, Associate Vice President of Patient Care Services.

remembers in particular the 25 year old who survived colon cancer because it was caught in its early stages. Amy Skinner, the department’s Clinical Coordinator, said Nixon has a knack for helping patients feel at ease.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to be a nurse,” she said.

duty. They deliver quality care, foster teamwork and offer excellent service.

Through the Ambassador Program, Johnston Health recognizes employees who go above and beyond the call of

In addition to a designated month-long parking space, Nixon will receive eight hours of paid time off.

“She gives them her full attention, and she knows how to make them laugh,” Skinner said. “She is one of the reasons that we feel like family.” Nixon lives in the house where she grew up, on East Street in Smithfield, and works in the hospital where she was born.

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MAY 2020 | 7

Camp Flintlock is a window to the Colonial past By Benjamin Sanderford | Photo by Johnston County Visitors Bureau

A cold, crisp morning is no big deal at Camp Flintlock. In fact, for the reenactors who work there, mostly recruited from word of mouth, it is just another day at the office, especially when a fourthgrade class of schoolchildren comes to visit. “Our goal at Camp Flintlock is to allow participants to actually do activities that were commonplace at the time of the Revolutionary War,” said camp owner Tim Langdon, “and learn about our past and forefathers by experiencing in a small way the activities they would have done themselves.” The youngsters, from Raleigh Oak Charter School, are excited when they arrive with their teachers at the campground near Four Oaks, and the opening demonstration, Langdon’s personal favorite, does not disappoint. The head re-enactor fires off his musket, then lets the teachers take a shot. With the students’ rapt attention established, he leads them to the next stations. Half the group is sent to play Colonialera games such as rolling the hoop 8 | JOHNSTON NOW

and, everyone’s favorite, tug-of-war. Meanwhile, the other group gets a crashcourse in journal-making. No staples, of course. The students have to stick the leather covers and pages together with a hammer and nails before tying them up. After showing them the process, the head re-enactor gently admonishes the children to shout, “I love Camp Flintlock” every time they hit their thumbs. Next stop is a lesson on Colonial fashion. Four lucky volunteers, selected by their teachers for their ability to stay still, get to serve as models so their classmates can learn about waistcoats, short skirts, coonskin caps and parasols. Of course, this is not just about clothing. The students get a sense of Colonial culture as well. For example, girls used their fans to send signals to boys three centuries ago. One gesture told an annoying young man to shoo, another signaled that a girl was ready to get the boy in trouble with her father and a third in which the young lady turned her fan upside down and held the handle close to her lips meant that she wanted a kiss. “Our proudest moments happen whenever

we see young adults that did one of our programs years later and they still remember activities and experience,” said Langdon. The collective horrified cry from the schoolboys suggested that they will remember the kiss signal for a long time. The immersion offered by Camp Flintlock, founded in 1999, and other living history organizations is what makes them special. Not only can they show and tell students what life was like long ago, but allow them to experience it too. What better way is there to understand Colonial games than to play them? What better way is there to learn about Colonial clothes than to wear them? And what better way is there to imagine the battles of the War for Independence than to see the flash and hear the crack of musket fire? It is Langdon’s hope that all who visit Camp Flintlock leave “with a better understanding of how our ancestors lived and a greater appreciation for the lives they lived to set the foundation for the country we love.” We should be glad that Camp Flintlock’s hands-on approach

works. The more children become interested in the Colonial past, the better, even if they had no ancestors in America at the time. This is the age that produced arguably the greatest generation of Americans ever. They protested the British government’s infringement of their liberty, endured years of war to preserve that liberty and enshrined it in documents that still have the power to inspire people today. Learning about Colonial daily life is the best place for schoolchildren to start their quest to understand the Founding Generation. From

there, they can delve into the ideas and values that Colonial Americans held dear. They can see the social context that shaped their predecessors’ outlook. Most importantly, they can apply the lessons of the past to the present. It is a tall order to show the courage of the men who crossed the Delaware in December 1776, let alone the wisdom of General Washington when he resigned as commander-in-chief rather than seize power for himself after the war. However, with luck and a decent education, the children of today will prove themselves worthy of the Founding Generation’s legacy.

Benjamin Sanderford, a resident of Clayton, studied social science at UNC Greensboro. He can be reached at

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Circle of Friends: A model for us all By Jessica Wahler

They’re called the Circle of Friends — teens who are involved with helping students in their school’s Life Skills class with everything from lunchtime companionship to playing cards and board games or solving puzzles and coloring pictures. Sometimes, the Friends are simply there to listen. They show that we all are more alike than different, and everyone craves the same thing — acceptance. The Circle of Friends program is unique to Corinth Holders, Johnston County’s largest high school with almost 2,000 students. It would be easy for Life Skills students to get lost in the shuffle or feel like they’re left to an island of their own. Instead, they become more integrated into high school life and look forward to seeing their buddies almost every day. Freshman Preston Styons is one of those buddies. He says the program has promoted growth and maturity for everyone who is involved. He calls the experience nothing

short of “life changing.” Friends often volunteer for Special Olympics, and many accompany the Life Skills students to their Alternative Prom — complete with two crowning moments, the announcements of Prom King and Queen. During the holiday season, the Friends host parties for the class, and this past year, they also raised money to buy a present for each Life Skills student. The Friends also are charged with helping with social skills and to encourage students to express their life’s hopes, dreams and interests. To become a part of Circle of Friends, students must complete an application, which includes an essay about why they want to join. Club dues are required. There’s also a set number of participation days, although many students visit the class daily. Thanks to dedicated teachers, Crystal Ridenhour, Amy Jackson and Sarah Jeffrey, the Circle of Friends has been active at Corinth Holders

Mackenzie Fisher, left, and Mary-Everett Wahler meet Santa Claus.

since the 2011-12 school year. Jackson says “high-fives” in the hallways aren’t unusual among the Life Skills students and their Friends. The friendships and camaraderie are heartwarming. According to sophomore

Kenzie Fisher, “Circle of Friends is more than just a club to me. It’s a chance to show students how being different isn’t bad.” Jessica Wahler, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Advantage off Cleveland Road, is the mother of Mary-Everett, 15, a freshman in the “awesome” Life Skills class at Corinth Holders High School.

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MAY 2020 | 11

Johnston County’s Victors in Europe By Benjamin Sanderford

Monday, June 5, 1944, found Edwin S. Smith of Four Oaks aboard a troop ship in Weymouth Harbor, England. The young artilleryman was anxiously awaiting the time when he and thousands of others would be ordered to assault Adolf Hitler’s “Fortress Europe.”

He and his comrades were in a small landing craft with their two guns and trucks by 11 a.m. They took several minor hits from German bullets as they raced towards Omaha Beach, but, just as they reached the shallows, a shell blew a hole right in front of their boat, causing a truck to fall into the water.

Finally, the order came.

Fortunately, Stewart and most of his unit managed to pull a howitzer ashore and fire on the enemy bunkers. Stewart gained the Bronze Star for his actions that day, but lost a friend, one of among 2,400 Americans who became casualties at “Bloody Omaha.”

“Tomorrow is D-Day,” Smith wrote in his diary. Some 5,000 Allied ships set sail for Lower Normandy that night. The infantry landed on five beaches the next morning. Another artilleryman from Four Oaks, Lester Stewart, was not far behind.

Smith landed later that afternoon and, after surviving

enemy artillery fire in a German-made dugout, described June 6, 1944, as “the most momentous day of my life!!!” It took weeks for the Allies to drive the Germans out of Normandy, but events elsewhere were picking up speed. Smith recorded hearing about the July “revolt” by a small group of principled German army officers against Hitler. The coup only failed because the conspirators’ colleagues were either afraid of the dictator, or still loyal to him. More encouraging was the news that the French Resistance had liberated Paris in August. The German garrison commander had surrendered rather than carry out Hitler’s insane order to destroy the city. Then Romania sued for peace with Soviet Russia, depriving Germany of its oil reserves. By the end of October, Aachen became the first German city to fall to U.S. forces. Stewart was in the Belgian Ardennes Forest that winter when the Germans launched one last, desperate counterattack. The Battle of the Bulge was the costliest engagement for the United States in Europe, resulting in 75,000 casualties. Nevertheless, around 81,000 Germans were killed, wounded or captured during the battle. The back of the German army was broken, and the Soviet Red Army demonstrated this in January 1945 by launching an offensive that drove the enemy out of Poland and across the Oder River, 43 miles from Berlin. By March, the Western Allies were confronting the mighty Rhine. German demolition


teams frantically worked to blow up every bridge over the river, but the American advance was too swift. U.S. troops captured the vital crossing at Remagen just as the enemy was trying to destroy it. Stewart was among the first across, and had to endure two weeks of increasingly futile German attacks. The heart of the Reich was now vulnerable. Some of its servants, however, remained as murderous as ever. Lieutenant Hardy D. Narron of Kenly fell into German hands after being shot down over Italy. As a POW, he was entitled to humane treatment, but Hitler’s followers equated mercy with weakness. Narron did not survive long after his capture. American soldiers were not the only people to experience the horrors of Nazism. Captain Glenn W. Grier, Jr. of Smithfield saw the results of the Holocaust firsthand when he visited a concentration camp in April 1945. He later wrote of being appalled by how the Jewish inmates “were reduced to live the lives of animals by starvation and torture.” One month later, on April 30, Adolf Hitler committed suicide rather than face the consequences of his decisions. The following week, May 8, 1945, at Eisenhower’s headquarters in Reims, France, the German armed forces agreed to capitulate. Shortly after midnight on May 9, at a formal ceremony in Berlin, representatives from Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States signed the document terminating the war in Europe. The soldiers of Johnston County were triumphant.

Curbside Kindness By Jason Ast

JDP has been ‘curbside’ and phone-order only these last few weeks. Obviously, times have changed for all of us — some more so than others. But we’ve seen daily acts of kindness that nearly bring us to tears (sometimes actual tears) daily. A few days ago, we were helping two different customers at the same time. Their cars were side by side, with one parking space between them. In one car was a woman who simply needed food and treats. In the other car, was a younger woman who had just taken in a very young, stray puppy walking around covered in mud. The woman who found the puppy told us that she was trying to find the owner and wanted to clean up the dog, get flea treatment, food, etc. Since we were ‘curbside’ only and not allowing people in the store, we would run back and forth between her car and the store — attempting to find the “biggest bang for the buck,” since money is tight given the stay at

home orders. We look for ways to donate products and services where we can in these instances. In the meantime, the other lady (the one simply buying food and treats) noticed all the activity and overheard the conversations. She was done shopping with us but chose to stay around — for what, we didn’t know. We finished helping the customer who had found the puppy and were saying our goodbyes, when the first lady joined the conversation and asked for a moment to speak with her. A few moments later we watched as the kind stranger handed over two large bills (cash) to help the younger woman who had just found the puppy. The young woman with the puppy cried and was so very thankful for the generosity of the stranger. It hit each of us too — watching people positively affect others, simply to be kind, with no expectation of return. We see similar stories like this daily, both at JDP and around town. I swear to each of you, even if you can’t or aren’t seeing it for yourself, there are amazing acts of kindness

happening all around us here in the Garner area every day. No matter how simple the gesture, it can mean the world to the person receiving your kindness. Even just a smile can help someone who’s having a really tough time right now. Please, everyone, continue to be strong, stay positive and show each other kindness. Katie and I are so proud to live and serve this community. Trust me — we live among great people! Thank you for your support and kindness towards us at JDP, too. We are here to serve, so if Katie and I, or JDP, can help you or someone you know, please reach out to us. For more information, contact: Just Dog People • 91 Glen Rd., Garner 919-335-5299 • Temporary New Hours Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. • Sun. Closed

MAY 2020 | 13

Downtown Smithfield using music, community spirit to fight coronavirus By Randy Capps

The coronavirus pandemic has written a new normal for people all over the world, and Johnston County is no exception. A typical weekday lunch hour in Downtown Smithfield would feature the hustle and bustle of people coming and going from the courthouse, shuffling in and out of town hall or perhaps doing a little shopping on Third Street. Of course, none of that was happening on a recent Tuesday afternoon. Simple Twist, The Diner, Sami’s and the other downtown restaurants were filling take out orders, but otherwise it was oddly quiet, thanks to the governor’s recent orders designed to slow the spread of the virus. But this new normal came with a bright side. A young woman stood on the corner of Market and Third Streets, filling the air with music. Elle Stephens, strumming away on her guitar, was doing her best to sing the streets back to life. Or, at the very

least, show a glimmer of hope to anyone within earshot. She was there to support the local restaurants, but there was a little something in it for the Clayton native as well. “Playing,” she said. “I love sharing my music with people. I’ve got a lot of original songs that I play. It’s fun. I just got into it in August. I’ve been writing and singing for a while, but I’ve just started playing locally.” While her usual venues, places like bars and restaurants, are unavailable, any chance to perform is one worth taking. “(I’d have to) Write music in my room,” she said, with a laugh. “One of my friends is still working, and she plays around, and that’s what we do when she gets home. ‘Let’s just play music, because there’s nothing else to do.’ It’s making us feel better. Giving us something to do. An outlet.”

only Sarah Edwards’ passion, it’s her job. As Executive Director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation, she’s tasked with promoting the businesses there. It’s a demanding mission even in the best of times, but it’s one she believes in.

Promoting Downtown Smithfield is not

Musicians like Stephens and Proton

Tammie Sperry, from Designs Down to a T, painted the windows at O’Meara Realty Group. They are in support of small businesses, Easter and a bear for the bear hunt.


s Elle Stephens performs in Downtown Smithfield.

owners, either. “A gentleman at SoDoSoPa the other day had a Facebook Live concert, a musician named Nathan Sheppard,” Edwards said. “He took the donations that he received and gave them to a waitress there as a tip. She went home with $235 that day.” The staff of Simple Twist in Smithfield poses for a photo.

Jones, playing on the street, is just one of the ways she’s trying to bolster the local establishments. “We’re just working to do whatever we can to support the local businesses,” she said. “That idea was actually brought to me by Chris Johnson, the former director of the DSDC and the county’s economic development director. He just said, ‘hey, wouldn’t it be neat if we did this?’ We owned some speakers and a soundboard and just kind of started putting some feelers out there.” It’s easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of the situation, but Edwards is focusing on the positives. “I’ll be quite honest. I haven’t really turned on the news very much,” she said. “I think it’s very easy to hear all of the panic and all of the negative and

let that be the dominate force in the conversation.” Instead, she’s inspired by how her friends and neighbors are coping. “I think a lot of it is just seeing what the business owners are doing to adapt,” she said. “Essentially adapt to survive is what somebody told me recently. I was talking to somebody the other day who was saying that, back in 2008 during the recession, I don’t know if we had the same understanding of how important it was to support locally-owned businesses. That’s been nice to see. It’s something we’ve been working on for years, kind of continuously reiterating how important that is. “That’s been a big part of it for me. Seeing just how willing people are to put their money where their heart is.” That isn’t limited to the business

Edwards believes that an all-for-one spirit is exactly what we need to pull through this crisis. “I think the movement that we’re promoting is do what you can to keep Smithfield strong,” she said. “Whether that’s visiting businesses and shopping with them in person... Online, we have businesses doing curbside pickup and drop off. Obviously, the restaurants are doing delivery in some cases, prepared meals and takeout. Buying gift cards for future use — just doing what you can. The small businesses in the community are constantly giving back. You look at any fundraiser, it’s the small businesses that have donated to silent auctions or stepping up as sponsors. They’re so crucially important.” All that, while giving midday diners a musical treat. “It’s been a fun addition, and it’s something we’d like to do more of after this is all over,” she said. MAY 2020 | 15

Johnston C residents c Staff reports

Here at Johnston Now magazine, we’re quick to remind everyone that we are not a go-to source for breaking news. We also don’t deal with crime or political topics. There are plenty of places for you to get that sort of coverage. The same is true for basic coronavirus coverage. There are a number of outlets that will keep you updated with the latest positive test counts and other pertinent public health information. We prefer to focus on the silver lining of what has been an unprecedented situation. With that in mind, here are a few things that your friends and neighbors have been doing during the pandemic. Taking care of Four Oaks first responders FOUR OAKS — Four Oaks Middle School and the Four Oaks Athletic Boosters teamed up to provide drinks and snacks to the Four Oaks Police Department and the Four Oaks Volunteer Fire Department “We are thankful for their hard work during this time,” Four Oaks Area Chamber of Commerce Director Joan Pritchett said. “We are always better together, even if we are six feet apart!”

n County businesses, s come together to face crisis

Anthony Fife has been doing a little chalk artwork to brighten his Clayton neighborhood. He and his wife, Amy, own Renzi Tate Furnishings.

Lane & Associates Family Dentistry gives back to its employees and community GARNER — As the largest dental practice in the state, Lane & Associates Family Dentistry (LAA) is proud to serve during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the guidelines recommended by the American Dental Association, CDC and the N.C. Dental Board, LAA responded immediately by treating emergency patients and restricting elective procedures. This decision prioritized the safety of their patients, the community and their employees. By treating dental emergencies, LAA is able to reduce the number of patients seen at urgent care facilities and hospitals, freeing up resources during this uncertain time. “As health care professionals, we have a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve in order to follow public health advice, help limit infections and slow the spread of the

FLAG of Clayton teams up with local residents and restaurants to provide meals to Johnston Health workers in Smithfield and Clayton.

virus,” said Dr. Don Lane, owner of Lane & Associates. LAA is also encouraged by its staff as they go above and beyond; donating blood to the Red Cross and assisting with the PPE shortage. Teams are sewing masks made with materials provided by the company. Nearly 1,000 masks will be donated to the UNC Health Care system. Glow Yoga in Clayton offering free classes “Just Breathe Guided Meditations” are being offered by Glow Yoga on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7:30 a.m., via Zoom. Visit to sign up. House-Autry puts families first with 16,000-pound food donation FOUR OAKS — As a local food manufacturer with North Carolina roots that stretch back over 200 years, House-Autry is committed to helping our community through this unprecedented

challenge. To demonstrate that commitment, the company has donated more than 16,000 pounds of breaders and mixes to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. This donation will provide nourishing meals for thousands of North Carolinians who may not have access to the food they need. “During this time of anxiety and uncertainty, we need to pull together as a family like never before,” House-Autry CEO Craig Hagood said. “We will get on the other side of this challenge. Our schedules may be turned upside down right now, but together we will get through it.” House-Autry offers their thanks to all of the agency organizations and volunteers that are helping our community through these challenging times. MAY 2020 | 19


We are excited to announce our newest pharmacist, Casey Liverman Johnson! Casey grew up in Selma, went to Smithfield- Selma High School and earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree Campbell (Class of 2005 There’s one atthing thatUniversity will never change: with Alan Carroll)! Casey and her husband Randy have 2 we’ll always be here for you. daughters, Carly Rae (8) and Cara (5) and live on their farm in Four Oaks. spentworking the last 20 Learn howShe we’re toyears helpwith ourCreech customers through Drug in Selma. We are thrilled to have her join our staff at thisPharmacy unprecedented Carroll in Smithfield.time Casey passionate about community pharmacy and loves taking care of her patients. Please stop by and say hello and welcome her to Carroll Pharmacy! 840 S. Brightleaf Blvd., Smithfield Member FDIC. © 2020 United Community Bank | 919-934-7164 LIKE US ON FACEBOOK


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MAY 2020 | 21

Sami’s Pizza and Pasta in Smithfield makes generous offer In April, Sami’s Pizza and Pasta offered a free slice of cheese pizza per day, per school-aged child in need. Deep River Brewing Company serves as drop off location for food bank CLAYTON — Deep River Brewing Company is serving as a drop off location for the Clayton Area Ministries (CAM) Food Bank. CAM has been working hard the last few weeks to provide for the community and among the items urgently needed are: pasta sauce, rice, oatmeal, grits, canned food, peanut butter and jelly. Visit the brewery, Align Family Chiropractic or Brad Palmer’s Edward Jones Office from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day to donate goods. Stevens Chapel Baptist Church spreading cheer SMITHFIELD — A few members of Stevens Chapel Baptist Church visited six

nursing home facilities in the county to install and refill bird feeders. This helped residents, who were quarantined because of the coronavirus, have something fun to see outside their windows. In addition, the church traveled around the week before Easter and hid eggs in yards. They hid 12 in each location, 11 with treats and one empty one to represent the empty tomb. FLAG chapter serves meals to first responders, health care professionals Melissa Brown and Beverly Schechtman started a local Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) to help raise money to provide meals from local restaurants for the 210 front line health care professionals and staff members at Johnston Health’s Smithfield and Clayton locations. They have partnered with Johnston Health and will be providing meals for all of the 150 employees at Smithfield and 60 employees at Clayton

every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night at 7:30 p.m. To learn more, visit their Facebook group at www. InStill Distilling Co. turns rum into sanitizer CLAYTON — To help meet the needs of Claytonarea first responders, InStill Distilling Co., with an assist from Clayton Bakery & Cafe, started converting bottles of their rum into hand sanitizer. “It’s our rum at a very high proof, mixed with hydrogen peroxide and glycerin and distilled water,” Eric Tansey, InStill’s owner, told WRAL. Rich Girard, owner of Clayton Bakery & Cafe, worked with the World Health Organization on the formula. Johnston County Visitors Bureau provides list of events Looking for a list of pick-up and virtual events? Visit www. for a growing list of options. Here for Good NC campaign gives money back to area businesses Chess Royal, owner of Trophy Case, launched the Here For Good NC campaign. Every shirt sold gives $10 back

to a local business that the purchaser chooses. They are still accepting local businesses that would like to be included in the list of recipients. Visit to learn more. Clayton Piano Festival hosts virtual concert Clayton Piano Festival hosted a home concert livestream event on April 11, featuring past CPF performers directly from their living rooms. Rachel Flowers, Matthew Harrison, Julia Mortyakova, Valentin Bogdan and Angelo Rondello were the performers, while Johnathan Levin and Christin Danchi were the hosts. “The lockdown and closings have affected musicians and the arts community in devastating ways,” Levin, founder of the Clayton Piano Festival, said. “Since Covid-19 spread worldwide, I’ve seen friends from all over the world speak first of Here for Good NC returns $10 for every shirt sold back to local businesses.

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cancellations — this and that festival, opera productions, concerts, orchestra jobs and then the dialogue switched to a real fight for survival, as it becomes more clear that (things) may not be back to normal for quite some time. “With this in mind, I spoke to my board members and they were in agreement that artists need both encouragement and an outlet to share their work now more than ever. So we agreed

to try a livestream concert — a sort of musical tour of the country — checking in with musicians around the nation to hear their music and bring more awareness of their need. “Personally, I’ve struggled with a feeling that music, and most of the other creative things that I’ve built my life around, aren’t vitally important right now, and that I wish I could help out in perhaps more ‘essential’

Members of Stevens Chapel Baptist Church installed and refilled bird feeders at nursing homes around the county.

ways. But what I’ve noticed over and over again through producing these concerts and performing myself, is

that music is vitally essential, and a world without it is not necessarily something I would want to be a part of.”

MAY 2020 | 23

Don’t play politics with your portfolio Submitted by Lee Dunn/Edward Jones adviser

You’re probably aware this is an election year. During the next several months, the candidates will discuss issues that should greatly interest you as a citizen. But as an investor, how concerned should you be with the results of the presidential and congressional elections?

Maybe not as much as you might think. At different times, the financial markets have performed well and poorly under different administrations and when different parties have controlled Congress. And after all the votes are counted, outcomes in the investment

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markets can be unpredictable. Consequently, you’ll be helping yourself greatly by not making big moves in your portfolio in anticipation of new legislation or political moves down the line. Of course, that’s not to say that nothing emerging from Washington could ever have an impact on your investment decisions. For example, if a future president and Congress decide to change the capital gains tax rate, it could affect some of your choices, such as which stocks and stock-based mutual funds you should buy, and how long you should hold them. Overall, though, your investment results will ultimately depend on actions you can take, including these: • Making changes for the right reasons — While the results of an election may not be a good reason to make changes in your investment portfolio, other factors can certainly lead you to take steps in this direction. For one thing, as you get closer to retirement, you may want to shift some, though certainly not all, of your investment dollars from more growth-oriented vehicles to more conservative ones. Conversely, if you decide, well in advance, that you might want to retire earlier than you originally thought, you may need to invest more aggressively, being aware of the increased risk involved. • Following a long-term strategy — In pretty much all walks of life, there are no


shortcuts to success — and the same is true with investing. You need to follow a longterm strategy based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon, and you need the patience and perseverance to keep investing in all markets — up, down and sideways. • Avoiding mistakes — Many people think of an investment mistake as failing to “get in on the ground floor” of some company that ultimately grew to huge proportions. But it’s pretty hard to become an early investor in companies like these, many of which start out as privately held businesses without any stockholders. Furthermore, companies with shorter track records can be much more unpredictable investments. However, you do want to avoid some real mistakes, such as chasing “hot” stocks. By the time you hear about them, they may already be cooling off, and they might not even be appropriate for your needs. Another mistake: failing to diversify your portfolio. If you only own one type of asset, such as growth stocks, you could take a big hit during a market downturn. Spreading your dollars over a wide range of investments can help lower your risk exposure. (However, diversification by itself can’t guarantee a profit or protect against all losses.) After Election Day, regardless of the outcome, you can help keep your portfolio on track by not playing politics with it. Lee Dunn, a financial advisor with Edward Jones, can be reached at 919-550-2516.

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MAY 2020 | 25

COVID-19: Devastating Loss and Choosing a Different Picture in a Global Pandemic By Erica K. Smith, MSW, LCSW, BC-TMH Removing our ability to connect in traditional forms, COVID-19 has taken moments, memories, and most tragically, lives. This leaves many of us wondering, how can you cope with a pandemic? First, allow yourself to mourn what was lost. Regardless of how you may consider your loss versus that of another, loss is loss. Now, allow yourself to grieve. Cry, talk about it, post about it, but process it in whatever way works for you. You can then decide to live in this state of grief, of what could have been. You could also decide to redirect your thoughts and attitude toward a state of empathy and gratitude. It is true that you did not choose these circumstances, but you can choose to focus on a different picture. This is not to minimize the reality of loss - of loved ones, health, finances and more. Nor is this to minimize the reality of essential employees who may now be working harder than ever, in circumstances more dangerous and stressful than before. It is to refocus your attention to what remains. These circumstances call for empathy. We can still choose to celebrate or acknowledge the lost moment, even if it is not the original celebration you had in mind. These circumstances call for gratitude. Perhaps you are spending more time with your people, more time in nature, more time giving, more time on that heart project or home cleaning job. Maybe you have the time to learn what brings joy to those closest to you. Perhaps, you finally have the time to rest and get to know yourself. In this time of crisis, you can choose to focus only on your losses. You can also choose to step back and see a different picture, your losses...and. Choose empathy, choose gratitude and notice a different picture of a pandemic. If you or your loved one needs someone to process feelings of loss or anything else during this time, all of our providers are offering Teletherapy! Call today to learn how we can help! Reach out to us in one of our 5 locations: Garner - Cary - Raleigh - Apex - Holly Springs

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Real Country Variety and More Music

Four Oaks native adds to town’s literary culture

K.L. Stewart poses with her latest book, “Angels & The Dark City of Trost.”

By Randy Capps

On the surface, the town of Four Oaks is a quiet unassuming place. It doesn’t look like the sort of place that would produce literary works ranging from Russian history to science fiction. While Dr. Barbara Allen wrote the world’s first biography on Alexander Shlyapnikov in English, another Four Oaks native is busy producing dark fantasy novels.

“The current books that I have, the idea came to me as a short story when I was about 12,” she said. “It was a rainy day, and I couldn’t go outside. So, I was like, ‘I’m going to write a story.’ And I kind of kept writing and kept writing — and now it’s a series of books.” It’s changed a few times since then, of course, but that idea is now the heart of what she plans as a 12-book series.

K.L. Stewart is the pen name of Kristy Reimann, and she’s written five books so far. One is a book of poetry, called “She’s Facing Me.” “The Ruby Mountain” is a children’s book and the other three are part of her Dark Angel Wars series.

“For people who don’t write it’s hard to understand, but you have characters who live in your head,” she said. “Some of them, I’ve been thinking about and writing about since I was 12. So, they’re just as much a part of me as anything else.”

She still lives in Four Oaks with her husband, A.J., and daughters Victoria, 18, and Annakah, 5.

The book, which Stewart recommends for adults or teenagers, is a dark fantasy.

“I stay at home,” she said. “I clean and take care of my daughters. And I write. I write when they’re at school.” Her passion for writing developed early. “I’ve just always liked to tell stories, even before I could read and write,” she said. “I would just look at books and make up stories. Then, when I learned how to write, I was writing stories as far back as I can remember. And I was serious about it, even as a kid.” In fact, her latest book, “Angels and the Dark City of Trost,” is part of a series that Stewart has been working on for years.

“You have a group of heroes who are physic beings,” she said. “They have powers. It’s very sci-fi. They are trying to go into this dark city. And it’s called that because that’s where the Shadow God thrives. They’re trying to get intel to help the forces of good, and of course, they’re going to run into obstacles along the way.”

my kids. They love them.” He Man and She-Ra aren’t the only things she shares with her children. Her older daughter, Victoria, has an author credit on “The Ruby Mountain.” “The children’s book came about through a trip to the mountains with my daughter,” Stewart said. “She was eight or nine, and that age, they’re into fairies and unicorns and that sort of stuff. Her birthstone is a ruby, and she actually found this huge ruby when we went gem mining in the mountains. ... A lot of it was very much inspired by her.” She’s working on a sequel to the children’s book, and there are still plenty more books to come in the Dark Angel Wars series.

The volume of her ideas, and the pace at which they’re created, make self publishing a good fit for Stewart. “Publishing it is not that hard,” she said. “It’s getting the word out. I don’t have a marketing team or anything, so I do everything myself. I also do my own artwork. That takes a lot of time to figure out. But getting it out by self publishing is great. You don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you whether or not it’s worth their time when you know it is.” It’s just the sort of attitude one might expect from someone who creates a world’s history and puts it to paper. K.L. Stewart hosts a blog at www. authorklstewartcom and her books are available at

Stewart cites Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series as an inspiration, and her love of the genre dates as far back as her knack for writing. “I’ve always loved it,” she said of science fiction. “Thinking back, Masters of the Universe was probably one of the first things that really inspired me. I still share the old cartoons with MAY 2020 | 27

36th annual Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival postponed Submitted by Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation

SMITHFIELD — The Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation (DSDC) Board of Directors has announced the postponement of the 2020 Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival amid concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Ham & Yam Festival has been a Smithfield staple for the past 35 years,” DSDC Executive Director Sarah Edwards said. “Our first priority with the festival is always safety, and in an abundance of caution and for the health and safety

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of all attendees and our community, we have decided that it is appropriate to postpone the festival at this time.” Based on the mandates issued in Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 117 prohibiting mass gatherings until at least April 30 and the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation to cancel mass gatherings through May 10, the Board’s consensus was that there was simply too much uncertainty to feasibly move forward. Originally planned for May 2, the annual festival draws approximately 20,000 visitors to Downtown

Smithfield each year for country ham and sweet potato foods, entertainment, a barbecue cook-off, vendors and fun for the entire family. With such a large event, there are many things that must be considered in determining a reschedule date. “Rest assured, we will share information as it becomes available,” Edwards said. “In the meantime, we hope that everyone will join us in Downtown Smithfield at our events scheduled later in the spring and into the summer, and that the community continues supporting our small businesses in an effort to keep Smithfield strong.”


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MAY 2020 | 29

Benson State Annual Singing Convention gears up for 100th anniversary celebration By Randy Capps

BENSON — The Grand Ole Opry sets the standard for tradition and longevity among musical shows. Despite a wealth of history, the Opry is still four years younger than the Benson State Annual Singing Convention. The “Benson Sing” is celebrating its 100th birthday with this year’s edition, scheduled for June 2628 at the Benson Singing Grove. Usually, the convention features contests where singers compete for prizes. This year, however, will be more of a celebration. “The Board of Directors decided to omit the singing contests this year and hold a huge weekend celebration with tremendous concerts by regional, state and national recording artists in honor our first 100 years,” Benson State Annual Singing Convention Manager Rayvon Best said. The legacy of gospel music

in the Benson area goes back even farther. “Early newspaper articles show that prior to 1921, church choirs in Benson and several surrounding communities would gather at an appointed church or outside in a large open area for a day of gospel singing, usually on the fifth Sunday in the month,” Best said. “These early gatherings became traditional annual events. As early as 1917, it was reported that the idea of choir competition for the area was introduced by Mrs. E. M. Hall, Mrs. J. H. Rose, and other interested musicians and singers.” The first event, held in Benson in 1921, was organized by Simon P. Honeycutt, J. B. Raynor, T. C. Miller J. V. Barefoot and J. H. Rose. According to P. B. Wood, Jr., a past convention president, these five men “saw a need to bring the community together each year to sing praises to God

and to enjoy the fellowship that goes hand in hand wherever Christian people congregate.” According to a release, “yearly attendance in the 1930s and 1940s exceeded 20,000 people and recorded sessions of the convention were broadcast on national radio as early as 1948.” Thousands of people attend the event each year, and admission is still free. In keeping with the tradition of having national recording artists serve as host groups, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Mark Trammell and the Mark Trammell Quartet and The Hoppers will serve in that role for this year. In addition, Joey Gore and The Wilmington Celebration Choir and Wesley Pritchard and The Fayetteville Community Church Choir will also be performing. Those are the latest in a long line

of gospel music standouts to grace the stage at the Benson Singing Grove. Past host groups include Gold City, Dove Brothers, The Florida Boys, Hovie Lister and the Palmetto State Quartet, The Perrys and many more. Best’s association with the event dates back several decades as well. “I have lived in Benson all my life and have been involved with the convention for over 32 years,” he said. “Along with many others, Christian music is very important to me. I am pleased to know that I live in a town and work with an organization that provides singers the opportunity to come together to sing and fellowship. “Many singers and fans view our convention as a yearly homecoming. Our historical convention is the most unique and the oldest outdoor gospel singing convention in the world.” At press time, the event is still on as scheduled.

For more information about the Benson Sing, visit or call 919-894-4389.








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