September 2020

Page 1

SEPTEMBER 2020 | Your Community. Your Neighbors. Your Story.

HEALTH AND F I T N E S S Johnston Co. soldiers help

turn the tide in WWII

JCC, JCPS work together

on virtual learning

JWL of Smithfield members

serve community

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IMPROVING HEALTH & WELL-BEING People from around the world rely on Grifols medicines made right here in Johnston County. Our plasma-derived products treat rare, chronic and life-threatening conditions. Everyday hundreds of Grifols team members report to work at our Clayton site and contribute collectively to saving lives. What we do matters. Visit to learn more.

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

HEALTH AND F I T N E S S Johnston Co. soldiers help

turn the tide in WWII

JCC, JCPS work together

on virtual learning

JWL of Smithfield members

serve community

Johnnie Sue Lee poses before a class at HeathQuest. Photo by Johnston Health.



Volume 4, Number 10

A Shandy Communications, LLC publication

Publisher Randy Capps


General Manager

Shanna Capps

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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.
















Junior Women’s League of Smithfield creates food resource guide, adds Blessing Boxes


High school football falls victim to COVID-19 I told myself I wasn’t going to write another column about COVID-19, but the writer’s mind goes where it wants, and mine is no different. My default response to all things pandemic has been, “everything sucks. Everything’s canceled.” It’s too hard for me to dive into specific things that we’ve lost, milestones our children have missed or worries about small businesses (including mine). The scope of it all is too large, so I toss it all in the same “COVID sucks” box and try to keep things moving. The postponement of high school football until February (hopefully) is a particularly bitter pill, however.

I love high school football. I’ve covered tons of college and pro events, and none of those top the thrill I get walking into a football stadium on a crisp Friday night, hearing the marching band and feeling the buzz of my friends and neighbors as they watch their children play.

What happens when there’s a positive?

But, in the midst of a pandemic, it was always going to be difficult to have a season this fall.

If there winds up being high school football in the dead of winter, I’ll be there. But I’m writing things on my calendar in pencil these days.

How would the North Carolina State High School Athletic Association handle different school models across its conferences? How would schools handle transportation to practices and games with students attending virtually? How often would schools test for the virus?

There are more questions than this, but you get the idea.


In a perfect world, there would be a vaccine and we could all get back to whatever normal used to be. But right now? Everything sucks. Everything’s canceled.

SEPTEMBER 2020 | 5

Johnston Community College, Johnston County Public Schools collaborate on virtual learning project Submitted by Johnston Community College

JCC’s Jaguar Office of Learning Technologies (JOLT) is actively collaborating with instructors from Johnston County Public Schools on how to create engaging online materials with emerging technology. The program provides direct access to stateof-the-art equipment to help teachers design and deliver quality online content. The project is comprised of teachers from the Early College Academy (ECA) and the Career & Technical Leadership Academy (CTLA), both of which operate on the JCC campus. Starting this month, they have the further option to pursue a full certification course called BRITE (Basic Requirements for Instructional Technology Effectiveness). “We want to lead the way in the delivery of high-quality online instruction for every student in our county,” Dawn Dixon, associate vice president of University Studies & Educational Technologies at JCC, said. “We have the expertise, we have the

Instructional designer Perry Frink shows local teachers how to use the high-tech Lightboard, which was built by Johnston Community College engineering students.

equipment, and we have the dedicated space to make this happen. And this is the type of partnership that makes JCC’s middle name — community — very real and robust.” Inside STUDIO T, which stands for Specialized Training Unit for the Development of Innovative Online Teaching, educators have ample opportunities to be learners. In addition

to training and consultation with an instructional designer, they have dedicated spaces for video editing and audio recording equipment. They also have access to JCC’s latest investment, Blackboard Collaborate, an embedded web-conferencing tool that transforms the online teaching environment with interactive features such as video chat discussions and instant live polls. But the high-tech tool in highest demand seems to be the “Lightboard,” a clear glass structure on which instructors can write while still facing the screen. Although the Lightboard seems like space-age prop from a SciFi film, the real-life version in STUDIO T was built by students from JCC’s Associate in Engineering Degree Program and Industrial


Technologies Program. Lance Gooden, chair of JCC’s Department of Mathematics and Engineering, says the students, along with the expert guidance of faculty, ended up creating the first ADA-compliant Lightboard in the world. Their experiential-learning project — with real-world impact — was made possible by funds from the Associate of Engineering Program while the professional development and implementation of the Lightboard Studio was supported by the JCC Foundation. STUDIO T is now a onestop instructional design shop for JCC faculty and, in the coming month, will serve a broader swath of Johnston County Public School teachers.

Johnston Community College names new senior director of communications and marketing Submitted by Johnston Community College

Nancy Stearns Bercaw is Johnston Community College’s new senior director of communications and marketing. She comes to JCC from her prior role as senior adviser for communications and marketing at Ajman University in the United Arab Emirates. During her three-year tenure at Ajman, Bercaw helped the institution attract significant global visibility and earn recognition as having the third most international student body in the world. Previously, she served the University of Vermont in

multiple communications capacities over a period of 15 years, which included the initial creation of UVM’s Center on Rural Addiction funded by a $6.6 million federal grant. “I look forward to bringing my experiences from Ajman and Vermont to the work of JCC here in Smithfield,” she said. “Every community deserves to be celebrated and promoted for its own unique and compelling story. What impresses me most about JCC thus far is the overall sense that everyone belongs here.” Dr. David Johnson, JCC

president, noted that Bercaw offers an “out of the box” approach to marketing and communications. “Nancy’s creative storytelling skills and her work with diverse populations will help leverage JCC’s special place in North Carolina’s higher education landscape as well as our own strong commitment to inclusion and impact,” he said. Bercaw has written for publications around the world including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Korea Herald, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CBS 48 HOURS, MariaShriver.

Nancy Stearns Bercaw

com and U.S. News & World Report. She is the author of two published memoirs: “Brain in a Jar” and “Dryland.”

SEPTEMBER 2020 | 7


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My Kid’s Club summer camp success paves way for fall after school club programs Submitted By My Kid’s Club

SELMA — Based on the success of My Kid’s Club’s (MKC) summer camp at the Selma campus, the organization is confident that — continuing to follow the federal and state guidelines for COVID-19 — the club will be operating when school is in session at Selma and South Smithfield locations. Forty students (social distancing reduced the number of spaces available) attended the day camp from June 29 through July 31. Students aged 6 to 14 wore masks and practiced social distancing. “Wearing masks outside allowed the children to be together without worrying. It was great to see the children being joyful together, riding their bikes, painting, making clay pots, designing

science experiments and just playing,” said John Lopp, Director of Clubs.


MKC also offered four hours of direct instruction daily to acclimate children to an in-person academic learning environment again. The campers particularly loved IXL, an online math program, and answered more than 30,000 math problems over the summer. Members also banked several hundred hours of independent reading. Middle school students learned drumming and wrote research papers on key musical genres and figures with the help of Pastor Todd from Selma Baptist Church.

“We are looking forward to building on this success with our after school club programs at Selma Elementary School and South Smithfield Elementary School when school is in session,” said Alison Gammage, MKC executive director. “When the club reopens, MKC will launch a new mentoring program with trained high school students to virtually support our younger students learning at home. We are dedicated to minimizing the negative effects of this pandemic on the children of Johnston County and welcome volunteers and community partners.”

Thanks to MKC’s committed counselors and volunteers, lessons learned from the summer will be implemented for the fall

To learn more about My Kid’s Club, contact or call 919-351-1559.

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Partnership for Children of Johnston County reaches 10,000 children with free books Submitted by Partnership for Children of Johnston County

SMITHFIELD — The Partnership for Children of Johnston County has reached a milestone in its effort to increase literacy in the community and provide books to children. Through the agency’s partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL), more than 10,000 children have received free books delivered directly to their home since the program began in Johnston County. In 2017, the organization became part of the expansion of Imagination Library when North Carolina’s state lawmakers included $3.5 million in the first year and $7 million in the second year of the state budget for Smart Start to administer the program across the state. The library provides free, age-appropriate books each month to children under the age of five.

The Smart Start network, made up of local partnerships across the state, began registering families across North Carolina for the Imagination Library as part of the work to ensure children develop a love of reading early in life. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library began in 1995 in Parton’s home county in east Tennessee. Her vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with a gift of a specially selected book each month mailed directly to their homes. She wanted children to be excited about books and experience the magic that books can create. Parton also wanted to ensure that every child would have access to books, regardless of their family’s income. Today, DPIL spans five countries and

mails more than 1 million free books each month to children around the world. All children in Johnston County under the age of 5 are eligible to participate. Visit to register a child.

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Samantha Barbour, health and wellness specialist at HealthQuest, leads a virtual training session.

Locked out of your gym? Try virtual training at HealthQuest Fitness and Wellness Center Submitted by Johnston Health

Can’t get to the gym? Virtual personal training is a great option, especially during the pandemic. “We love engaging with people and challenging them to reach their wellness goals,” said Samantha Barbour, a personal trainer with HealthQuest Fitness and Wellness Center. “It’s a passion that even a pandemic can’t dull.” With all of the new technology in communication, virtual training makes it even easier to meet your goals.


Here are four reasons why it’s so convenient: • Location — Virtual training can go anywhere. Going to the beach for the weekend? Take your trainer with you and work out in the sand. • Comfort — One of the greatest concerns in the gym is that others are judging you. Training virtually eliminates that anxiety. You’ll feel comfortable performing new exercises, and you’ll feel free to move your body without others watching.

• Time — One of the most common reasons why people don’t work out is a lack of time. Virtual training saves time because it doesn’t require travel to the gym. You get to start and finish with your session and then continue with the rest of your day. How cool is that? Time truly is on your side. • Self pacing — With the help of your trainer, you have the opportunity to set a pace that is comfortable and without compromising your vision for your health.




It’s time to reconsider what you think you know about strokes By Melissa Overton

Did you know that stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.? Recently a new campaign was launched that says, “When it comes to stroke, it’s ok to overreact.”

of your blood vessels to your brain as plumbing. When you have a stroke, it is either a clogged pipe (87% of cases) or a burst pipe (13%). Either way, you need a plumber, which is why you should never “redneck it” to the hospital. Instead of taking your loved one yourself, call 911.

Often when someone begins to have signs and symptoms of a stroke, one of two things happen: The person thinks they just feel bad and they go lie down to rest, hoping the symptoms will go away. Or they get help. Unfortunately, more times than not, people do not seek help. We hear the loved ones say, “I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to bother anyone.” In health care, we also hear people say, “Well, when you have a stroke, nothing can be done anyways except put them in a nursing home.” The truth is that today there are some great things that can be done. We have medications that can be given to sometimes reverse a stroke and surgeries that can be done to repair one. Today, I want you to start thinking

Expertly trained EMS personnel will evaluate your loved one and then notify the “plumbing crew” that they need to be ready to take care of your emergency. One of the first things that they will do at the hospital is take you for a special X-ray of your brain, called a CT scan. This allows the team to quickly learn if your pipe is burst or clogged so that we can take the next steps to best care for you. When you travel to the hospital on your own, you delay your care, as the team did not know to best prepare for your arrival. It’s important that we get the word out in our community to call 911 when a stroke is suspected, because currently, only about 3-6% of people make it to the hospital in time to get the testing and treatments that could potentially reverse or repair the

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stroke. It is not because health care isn’t ready. It is because often people think there’s no treatment or cure for stroke. And even if it is too late or not safe to get the treatments right away, we know how to aggressively manage stroke rehab to give a better chance of recovery long term. Prevention is the key to avoiding stroke, so things you can do to reduce the risk of having a stroke are to make healthy food choices, move more and stop smoking. Getting annual physical checkups to monitor for your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure is also extremely important. Now that you know why it is important to call 911, I want to leave you with the signs and symptoms of stroke. Think BE FAST. Balance loss, Eyesight loss, Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911. Melissa Overton, RN, BSN is the owner of MedicalTraining. me, a local training facility that teaches First Aid, CPR AED and other lifesaving classes for the American Heart Association, ASHI and the American Red Cross. She can be reached at


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Five working-from-home dental tips you should follow Submitted By Lane & Associates Family Dentistry

We’re all making adjustments to cope with the new realities brought on by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, while coping with all of the new things going on, it’s important to stay on top of your dental health — even if you aren’t making that morning commute to work every day. Here are five ways to make sure you’re taking care of your dental health: MAINTAIN YOUR REGULAR DENTAL ROUTINE Just because your coworkers can’t smell your breath through the Zoom call doesn’t mean you should skip your dental routine. “Your dental routine is more important now than ever before,” said Dr. Cameron Noah. “With the stay-at-home suggestions and a majority of people trying to avoid going out other than for necessities, keeping up your dental hygiene is vital.”


Be sure you are brushing and flossing at least twice a day and attending your sixmonth dental checkup. With the current PPE and OSHA guidelines, dental offices are safe and clean environments going above and beyond their already rigorous hygiene standards. STAY HYDRATED AND AVOID SUGARY DRINKS OR HIGH SUGAR PRODUCTS Drinking enough water throughout the day is still just as important as it was when you were heading into work. Our suggestion is to get a large water bottle, around 32 ounces, and fill it up first thing in the morning before you sit down to work. This way, it’s ready to drink, and since it’s sitting near you, the likelihood of you consuming it goes up significantly. We know it’s tempting to down that soda or eat that candy bar, but avoiding sugary drinks and food products will also help prevent cavity formation.

TRY EATING FOODS CONTAINING VITAMIN D AND CALCIUM WHENEVER POSSIBLE Your diet is one of the most influential changes you can make while working from home. You have easy access to your kitchen and don’t have to worry about the office goody jar. Try choosing foods like spinach, dairy products and lean proteins. These are high in vitamin D and/or calcium which are essential to healthy bones and teeth. If you can also add in a multivitamin as a regular part of your day, your body and teeth will thank you. ASK IF YOUR PROVIDER HAS TELEDENTISTRY CONSULTATIONS If you are in need of dental care, you should reach out to your dental provider to see what types of services they are offering during this time. Some locations, like Lane & Associates Family Dentistry, are even offering teledentistry appointments

with consultations via mobile or web applications. These consultations are live with a dentist where you can show them the issue safely from the comfort of your home. VISIT A DENTIST BEFORE AN EMERGENCY ROOM If you have a dental emergency at home, many locations throughout North Carolina are offering same-day services. To avoid overcrowding at emergency hospitals, please call your dental provider before visiting the ER. Typically, dentists and dental specialists will be able to handle your case more proficiently, causing you less time in pain and more time where you can get back to work. Although some of us may not want that. We hope these five dental tips help while you are working from home. If you have any other dental questions and would like to speak to a dentist, call 877-LANE-DDS or visit

SEPTEMBER 2020 | 19

’T N ES ” O D L S A I E H “T EM R SE






Managing your mental health By Sarah R. Coates, LCMHC, NCC

When asked to write about navigating your mental health in the COVID pandemic, I found myself confronting my own fears, doubts and uncertainties. It’s all we’ve been talking about since March. It’s on the news, in our social media platforms, in our conversations with family members and colleagues. You’re either tired of hearing the word

“pandemic” by now, or you’re still grappling with how it’s affected you personally. The reality is that it’s still here, we are still talking about it, and it is certainly affecting our mental health. In my profession as a licensed clinical mental health counselor, I’m hearing many themes and statements about the pandemic. You may recognize some of these sentiments as your own:

“This doesn’t seem real,” “I feel trapped,” “I feel I’m being squeezed at all angles,” “I feel unmotivated; it’s hard for me to keep going,” “I have to think about things I’ve never had to think about before,” “I am very scared” or “ I’m over it!” No one is exempt from the ramifications of the pandemic. Even the “experts” in the mental health field are feeling the grip of it. I find myself feeling like the rug got pulled out from underneath me, and I’m still trying to catch my breath. I personally find myself six months in still on a roller coaster of emotion that changes daily or weekly, including feelings of anxiety, fear, worry, sadness and grief. What we are experiencing in this pandemic is a collective trauma. A trauma is an unhealed wound or an adverse life experience.








in a pandemic A global unprecedented health crisis is certainly an adverse life experience. We are also experiencing grief and loss in great proportions. Our way of living, working and playing changed very quickly.

navigate our mental health during a pandemic? Humans are made up of mind, body and spirit. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. It all works together to make us who we are.

My work world changed in an instant. In March I had to flip a 60-member staff to tele-working almost overnight and carry the stress of keeping the business afloat and everyone paid. Like many of you, I have to balance work and overseeing online school for my daughters.

We must figure out how to cope with what has happened and find joy and satisfaction in whatever state we find ourselves. This leads us to a practice called radical acceptance.

Like many of you, I worry about what our future will look like, how much longer we can keep doing this, and when will one of my loved ones become sick? Those of you that lost jobs, income or family members during this crisis are traumatized at an even greater proportion.

Radical acceptance is a skill based in dialectical behavioral therapy, which teaches us that we are to recognize reality for what it is and find satisfaction within that reality to keep living. Radical acceptance is not giving up or giving in. It’s not weakness or submission.

We are being collectively traumatized, and it has created a mental health crisis.

To radically accept what is happening in this pandemic is to say, “I might not want to accept this as the new normal, but I can temporarily adapt to alleviate my suffering.”

The question becomes, how do we

So how do we adapt? How do we


cope? In therapy we learn coping skills. In life there are adaptive or maladaptive coping skills. Adaptive skills are the ways of coping that are helpful, bring you a sense of calm and help move you forward in satisfaction with life. Maladaptive skills on the other hand would be anything that doesn’t serve you well like excessive drinking, substance abuse, not eating or any other self-harming behaviors. Some very common adaptive coping skills are: relaxation breathing, prayer, gardening, exercise, singing, art, music, body movement like yoga or dance, creative writing, going for a drive in the country or to the coast or baking. Remember adaptive coping skills can be anything that serves you well. For more help in adapting and coping during this pandemic, please reach out to a skilled mental health professional.

Sarah Coates, is the Practice Owner of One80 Counseling. One80 Counseling is available to help you and your family as our team of therapists continue to offer telehealth and/or in person office visits. Call 919-772-1990 to learn more.

SEPTEMBER 2020 | 23

Why water aerobics is a great option for Submitted by Johnston Health

When you’re driving past Holts Lake in Smithfield, you might see lakeside resident Johnnie Sue Lee riding her water trike. At 66, the retired nurse is feeling her best ever, thanks to HealthQuest, the fitness and wellness center she joined 12 years ago. She got her start in the pool, believing water would be the kindest environment. At the time, she was 54 years old. She was also “overweight and a couch potato,” she said, and afraid of dying with the same chronic illnesses that plagued her mother. It was her husband, Sherwood, who suggested a membership to the local wellness center.


In the water, and over time, she gained strength, confidence and new friends. With coaching from the staff, she changed her diet, set fitness goals and began losing weight.

“When I first started in the pool, I couldn’t swim even 12 yards,” she said. “Now I can swim a mile in 39 minutes.”

They held her accountable, she said, and also showed great concern for her well-being.

“I can’t say that HealthQuest saved my life. But it sure saved the quality of my life,” she said.

“I was hooked,” she added. “The certified trainers were knowledgeable and provided structure. They look at every member as a whole person, not just a body.”

Recently, Lee talked with a client about what he could expect from his membership at the wellness center.

Six years in, she began teaching water aerobics as a way to give back to the community.

Along the way, she’s lost 100 pounds and several dress sizes.

“You’ve found the best place you can be,” she told him. “A place where people can be supportive, where you don’t have to be lonely, where you’ll meet friends

you can’t find anywhere else.” What are the benefits of working out in the water? Here are the top five: • Improved cardiovascular strength, physical endurance and flexibility. • Enhanced balance, coordination and muscle tone. • Aid in recovering from injuries and chronic conditions. • Relaxation for your brain, boosted mental health and improved sleep. • Reduced stress, anxiety and depression.

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Johnnie Sue Lee, right, teaches a class in the pool at HealthQuest.

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Out of disruption can come good


By William Massengill

COVID-19 has brought a lot of disruption to healthcare. But that disruption has created some new ways of delivering patient care, which are having positive outcomes for patients. At Benson Health, we have felt that pressure to adapt. Early on in this pandemic, we implemented a drive-up clinic, where we not only provided COVID-19 testing, but also treated patients with any respiratory problems or COVID-19 symptoms. This change has provided access to medical care and testing while protecting our patients and staff from potential infection. Telehealth services have been discussed for several years but they were not widely reimbursed by many insurers prior to this pandemic. Today, those services are reimbursed

thanks to changes by insurance companies and legislation in Congress. This allows patients to reduce their risk of exposure to infection while being a great resource for patients with mobility and transportation issues. Flu vaccinations are always important and especially this year. Benson Health will be implementing a drive-up flu shot clinic for our patients. Patients will never leave their car to get a flu shot. Again, this new way of doing things will reduce exposure to our patients while providing a resource that particularly benefits older patients who have problems getting from their car into our medical facility. For the past 14 years, Benson Health has provided primary care for our area farmworkers with a Thursday evening clinic. This year, with funding from a

charitable foundation, we have been able to take that clinic to the workers. This change addresses the issue of the exposure of multiple people in a single vehicle during this pandemic while providing for COVID-19 testing and primary care services to a population that is vital to the agricultural economy of Johnston County and the surrounding area. There are other ways in which various healthcare providers are bringing innovation to the way they deliver patient care and I have only addressed a few. While disruption is painful, let’s hope that we take some lessons learned from this ordeal and that it improves the delivery of health care long past the time when this pandemic is over. William W. Massengill, Jr. (MSW, MBA) is the CEO of Benson Health. To learn more about the organization, visit

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The Techno Tigresses, an all-girl robotics team based in Johnston County, toured Richard Childress Racing recently to learn more about the sport of NASCAR.

Local robotics team makes pit stop in Lexington By Shannon Mann

As the first professional sport to welcome back fans during the COVID pandemic, a North Carolina-based NASCAR team also welcomed a few students from Johnston County for a STEM-based pit stop recently. Richard Childress Racing (RCR) in Lexington, invited the Techno Tigresses — Johnston County’s only all-girl FIRST Lego League Challenge team ­— for a tour to talk about how NASCAR incorporates technology and fitness into their sport. As part of this year’s robotics competition theme, “Game Changers,” teams across the globe will examine the evolution of sports and activities that make people physically and mentally strong. Teams will identify

problems within parameters of the theme and develop innovative solutions for solving those problems. “We learned that drivers and pit crews need to stay in shape,” said Sloan Mann, robotics team member. “They have a really big gym at RCR and a lot of the pit crew were college athletes.” Ashley McCluney, RCR’s director for partnership and event marketing, told the team the history of RCR and how Richard Childress started in the mid-1960s with an old taxi cab that he purchased for $20. “Today, we have 12 to 15 cars per driver and a budget well into the millions,” she said. McCluney allowed the team

to get a behind-the-scenes look at how race cars are built and fitted to each driver and track, and how technology embedded into the cars helps pit crews make real-time decisions. The robotics team even got to try their hand at using a few tools while visiting the

Caterpillar Pit Stop Simulator. “I thought it was very interesting because coming into it I knew almost nothing about race cars,” said Kaitlyn Nolte, robotics team member, “Coming out I know a decent amount about RCR and how statistics and technology are used to get better.” SEPTEMBER 2020 | 27 becomes first American Red Cross Licensed Training Provider in Eastern North Carolina Submitted by Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation

SMITHFIELD — Thanks to a new partnership, is now offering certified training as an American Red Cross Licensed Training Provider (LTP), the only independent, freestanding LTP east of Raleigh. The Downtown Smithfield business has previously offered training from the American Heart Association and the American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI), and has now added additional services: American Red Cross First Aid & CPR AED, Basic Life Saving (BLS), Advanced Care Life Saving (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Saving (PALS) for non-healthcare individuals

and military personnel. “Developing this partnership with the American Red Cross has been important for me because I want our community — our neighbors, church members, coworkers, family and friends — in eastern North Carolina to have easy and affordable access to life-saving classes,” said MedicalTraining. me founder and president, Melissa Overton. There are more than 360,000 sudden cardiac arrests annually in the United States, according to the American Red Cross, and about 90% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die. If administered DowntownSmithfield 28 | JOHNSTON NOW


immediately after cardiac arrest, CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. “A friend’s brother died over the July Fourth weekend. Twice,” Overton said. “CPR brought him back. It is the only thing that kept him alive until they got him to the hospital. Learning CPR only takes a few hours out of a day, but it could save a life. That’s a priceless return on investment.” offers engaging virtual and inperson classes, which can be hosted at clients’ workplaces, homes, churches or at the facility in

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Johnston County Public Schools broke ground on the district’s newest elementary school recently. Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony (from left) were Johnston County Board of Education Vice-Chair Dr. Peggy Smith, Johnston County Manager Rick Hester, Johnston County Commissioner Jeffrey Carver, Johnston County Board of Commissioners Chairman Ted Godwin, Johnston County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy, Johnston County Board of Education member Tracie Zukowski, Johnston County Board of Education Chair Todd Sutton, Johnston County Board of Education member Mike Wooten, Johnston County Board of Education member Terri Sessoms and Johnston County Board of Education member Teresa Grant.

Johnston County Public Schools breaks ground on Thanksgiving area elementary school Submitted by Johnston County Public Schools

SELMA — Johnston County Public Schools broke ground on the district’s newest elementary school recently. The school, located off of Lynch Road,

will serve families in the Thanksgiving area once construction is complete, which is expected in May 2021. The school is scheduled to open in time for the 20212022 school year.

The new construction, designed to help alleviate overcrowding at elementary schools in the northeastern portion of Johnston County, will be the district’s 24th elementary school.

Child must be under 18 years old. Expires 9/30/20

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Junior Women’s League of Smithfield creates food resource guide, adds Blessing Boxes Submitted by Junior Women’s League of Smithfield

SMITHFIELD — The Junior Women’s League of Smithfield (JWL) has seen months of hard work by its newest members come to fruition with the completion of two projects to address food insecurity in Johnston County. In August 2019, members of JWL’s provisional class were split into two project groups. As they began researching the county’s needs, one group determined that while there are a number of organizations that offer assistance, it was often difficult to find information about the programs offered. After months of research and outreach to organizations in the area, the first Johnston County Food Resource Guide was published in March with printed guides placed at JWL’s Blessing Boxes around the county. A digital version is also available at www. The second group elected to expand on the previous provisional class’ Blessing Box project. They would go on to build and install four new Blessing Boxes, which are small pantries stocked with free food and personal care items for people in need that are able to be accessed at any time. There latest boxes are in Archer Lodge, Kenly, 30 | JOHNSTON NOW

Meadow and Pine Level. The provisional members coordinated a drive among JWL members to donate supplies to stock and replenish the boxes, and members of the general public are also encouraged to contribute items at the following locations: • Archer Lodge Fire Department, located at 6483 Covered Bridge Road (Clayton). • Benson Fire Department, located at 313 S. Elm St. • Kenly Fire Department, located at 101 W. First St. • Meadow Fire Department, located at 7409 N.C. 50 South (Benson). • Pine Level Fire Department, located at 104 W. Main St. • Selma Fire Department, located at 201 N. Webb St. • Smithfield Fire Department, located at 111 S. Fourth St.

One of the Junior Women’s League of Smithfield Blessing Boxes is located in Pine Level.

• Thanksgiving Fire Department, at 2375 Thanksgiving Fire Department Road (Selma).

which the needs have been so apparent,” said Erin Smith, vice president of community outreach and engagement. “We invite people who would like to support our Blessing Box initiative to contribute nonperishable food and personal care items to the boxes directly or to make a donation on the

“We are so proud of our provisional members and their work to add new resources and raise awareness of existing resources during this time in

JWL website.” JWL members will continue to update the Food Resource Guide and ask that anyone who has information regarding other available assistance please email that information to jwlsmithfield@

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Johnston County servicemen at the turn of the tide By Benjamin Sanderford

It was June 1942 and the war was not going well for Johnston County. Despite the confident tone of the weekly battle report in the Smithfield Herald, the situation was dire on all fronts. The besieged Soviet city of Sevastopol (Sebastopol), in the Crimean Peninsula, still held out against the Germans and Romanians, but there was no hope of relief. In Libya, British leaders reported a “success” that became a disaster in which Allied forces barely escaped destruction. Within a few days, they were fleeing into Egypt, pursued by the fabled “Desert Fox” Erwin Rommel and his vaunted GermanItalian Panzerarmee Afrika towards the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, Japan continued to advance. Although the U.S. Navy had thwarted a Japanese attack at the Battle of the Coral Sea in May, an enemy invasion of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands was imminent. More immediately, a major battle was in progress near Midway Atoll, west of Hawaii. Glenn Ford, of Smithfield, was there aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Torpedo bombers and dive bombers from the Hornet, the Enterprise and the Yorktown ambushed the Japanese fleet on June 4. By the evening of June 7, the Yorktown and the destroyer USS Hammann were sunk, but so too were four Japanese carriers and a heavy cruiser. The Imperial Navy had lost its ability to support a major offensive. Nevertheless, there was still cause for gloom. The number of medical men being drafted, including Dr. Watson Wharton of Smithfield, was creating a shortage of physicians in Johnston County. There were also rumors that coffee, tea and cocoa would soon be rationed. Looking at the battlefront on June 12, 32 | JOHNSTON NOW

Hugo S. Sims, the war analyst at the Herald, expressed concern that the Chinese, under attack from Japan since 1937, might not have the equipment necessary to hold the enemy back. Sims also heard from experts that a German invasion of Turkey could not be ruled out. However, it was the expected German summer offensive in Russia that worried Sims the most. As he noted, it was only two years ago that Scandinavia, the Low Countries and France had all fallen to the armies of the Reich. More ominously, despite the failure to take Moscow back in December, it was clear that Germany still had one last chance to conquer the Soviet Union. Sims’ worst fears seemed realized when the Germans made their move. Sevastopol finally fell on July 4. By mid-August, German forces had advanced deep into the Caucasus Mountains, threatening the oil fields that fed the Soviet war machine. Back in the Pacific, the Japanese launched an offensive on New Guinea that would take them to within 30 miles of the capital, Port Moresby. They also began construction of an airfield on the small but strategic island of Guadalcanal. U.S. leaders decided to take it. On Aug. 7, the Marines waded ashore. One of them was Robert E. Moore, of Elevation. As an ambulance driver, Moore was not expected to fight on the front line, but Guadalcanal would become a place, in the words of the Herald’s Tom Lassiter, “where dodging Japanese shells, bombs and bullets became an everyday pursuit.” The Americans easily took the airfield, which immediately became a base for fighter planes, but the Japanese high command ordered a counter-offensive to retake the island. There followed a costly back-and-forth series of encounters on

land and at sea. As at Midway, Ford and the Hornet battled the Japanese fleet. Unlike at Midway, however, they were firmly in the enemy’s cross hairs. During an intense battle on Oct. 26, near the Santa Cruz Islands, two waves of Japanese aircraft struck the Hornet, delivering fatal damage. Ford escaped aboard a destroyer before his ship sank. At this point, the four aircraft carriers and their dozens of experienced naval pilots lost at Midway might have tipped the balance in Japan’s favor, but the Japanese did not have the strength to keep up this campaign of attrition. By the time Moore was rotated off Guadalcanal in December, it was clear that the Americans would win. Meanwhile, on New Guinea, U.S.Australian forces were attacking the Japanese bases at Buna and Gona. The fall of these positions marked the end of Japan’s threat to Australia. From the start of 1943 onward, the Japanese would be on the defensive. A similar situation was developing in Europe. Here, the German dictator, Adolf Hitler, made a fateful intervention. Instead of concentrating all forces on the Caucasian oilfields, he diverted troops to take Stalingrad, the city that bore the name of his Soviet counterpart, Joseph Stalin. The predictable result was that the Germans were unable to take either objective. Georgy Zhukov, Stalin’s best general, took advantage of German weakness in November 1942 by encircling the German troops bogged down in Stalingrad. Hitler immediately authorized a relief attempt, but forbade his besieged soldiers from breaking out, even after the Soviets had defeated the relief force. On Feb. 2, the last German holdouts in Stalingrad surrendered due to lack of


food and ammunition. By that time, the Germans in the Caucasus had hastily retreated, abandoning all their summer gains. The campaign had cost the Germans over 500,000 killed, wounded or captured for nothing. Germany could no longer win the war with Russia. At the same time, the war in North Africa was entering a new phase. Britishled forces finally turned the tables on Rommel in November at El Alamein, forcing him into a headlong flight out of Egypt and across the length of Libya. The hounds were closing in on the Desert Fox. On the other side of Africa’s Mediterranean coast, British and American warships were sailing towards the French colonies of Morocco and Algeria. The colonial authorities there were loyal to the pro-Nazi Vichy regime, but many junior officers were sympathetic to the Allies while the chief official present, Admiral François Darlan, was a ruthless opportunist. French North Africa, the Allies believed, would be a softer target than a region directly occupied by Germany. The landings, on Nov. 8, 1942, did not go off without a hitch. The Vichy loyalists fired on the Allies and both sides took losses before Darlan, realizing the overwhelming strength of the Allied

forces, called a ceasefire. The Germans and Italians reacted immediately by occupying Tunisia, but their advance towards Algeria was thwarted by proAllied French troops. Nevertheless, American soldiers such as Smithfield artilleryman Gilbert Stephenson were in for a hard fight as Axis forces continued to arrive in Tunisia, including Rommel and his veterans. The wily German commander had a surprise in store for them. Rommel launched a ferocious attack against inexperienced U.S. troops in February 1943 culminating with the capture of the Kasserine Pass on the twentieth. The battle was embarrassing for the Americans, but it taught them valuable lessons. A couple weeks later, after a bruising fight with the British troops who had pursued him from Egypt, Rommel concluded that the combined Allied armies were too strong to defeat. On March 10, he went to Hitler’s headquarters and implored his leader to order an evacuation of Tunisia. Hitler fired him on the spot. As at Stalingrad, the Nazi tyrant had become obsessed with holding ground.

By the end of the month, U.S., British and French forces were all advancing. Stephenson’s battalion gained a measure of retribution for Kasserine Pass by bombarding German positions at El Guettar and Fondouk, where it knocked out 23 enemy tanks. The Germans and Italians continued to resist fiercely throughout April, but they could not stop the Allies. The Axis positions finally collapsed in early May, and their last troops surrendered on the thirteenth. Around 250,000 Germans and Italians were taken prisoner in Tunisia. Hitler’s hubris had once again proved catastrophic for the Reich and its partners. It had been a momentous year. In mid1942, the Allies were wringing their hands about what the enemy might do. Now, in mid-1943, Japan was halted at Midway and turned back at Guadalcanal and Germany was badly mauled in Russia and North Africa while Italy was vulnerable to Allied invasion. It was only a matter of time before the Axis was defeated. The courage and skill of Johnston County’s soldiers, sailors and Marines would be needed to finish the job. Benjamin Sanderford, a resident of Clayton, studied social science at UNC Greensboro. He can be reached at

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SEPTEMBER 2020 | 35

Summertime fun Violet, Jillian, John, Melissa and John Brown check out Flag for Heroes in Clayton.

Jacob Moore and Jaie Love pose at Shackleford Banks. Photo by Stephanie Klein


Kaitlyn Free found a little inspiration in a sunflower near her home in Four Oaks recently.

Eleanor England of Meadow picks strawberries at Pace Family Farms in Clayton. Photo by Amber England

Lisa Lovering took this photo of her granddaughter, Eleanor England, and son-inlaw, Billy England, enjoying a creek near Natural Bridge, Va., on a hot day in July.

Dominick Riddle kayaks at Emerald Isle. Photo by Stephanie Klein

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