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DECEMBER 2020 | Your Community. Your Neighbors. Your Story.

Our shop local

gift guide County students

reach for the stars JCPS honors

top administrators

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! s e v i L

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

Our shop local

gift guide County students

reach for the stars JCPS honors

top administrators

From all of us here at JNOW, Happy Holidays! Cover illustration by Valerie Register.


Holiday gift guide


Volume 5, Number 1

A Shandy Communications, LLC publication

Publisher Randy Capps


General Manager

Shanna Capps

Creative Consultant Ethan Capps

Advertising Manager

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.



















Activate Selma group receives $3,000 for mural project


It’s not the tree but the memories that matter I like to bring you all behind the curtain every now and then to give you a taste of just how glamorous the life of a magazine publisher is. Or should I say isn’t.

Writing a Christmas-themed column in the middle of November is hard enough in a normal year. Doing so in the midst of the most bizarre year I’ve ever seen is like trying to fold a fitted sheet — possible, but not fun. But the show must go on, and my deadlines are still the same as they’ve always been. So, here goes. We’ve had our tree up since Labor Day. It’s a rickety artificial tree that

leans slightly to the left. The lights aren’t quite right, and the star on top is just a hair off center. It spins, thanks to a motorized stand, and if you can get it to turn clockwise, it will do so quietly.

But, five feet away from my recliner, it gives me a constant reminder of where I’ve been. There are ornaments from our first Christmas together at a little condo in Shelby. There are tons of handmade items from Ethan and some of our adopted nieces and nephews. It’s more than 20 years worth of memories, all on our wobbly tree. You can look at 2020 and remember what

it has taken from us. You can recall the stress, the uncertainty and the loneliness.

Or, you can RANDY CAPPS squint your eyes a little, watch the tree spin and think about the things that are still right and good in the world. That’s what I do, anyway. I really hope you can find pieces of joy this holiday season. Thank you for reading, and Merry Christmas!

DECEMBER 2020 | 5

The smaller, but still 2020

has been something else, huh? It’s hard to put into words how much we’ve lost this year, and in how many ways COVID-19 has affected us.

packed jam full of Christmas activities is a fraction as long as it usually is. Still, there are chances for you to get out there and grab a little holiday cheer.

Even this holiday guide, which is usually

Happy holidays everyone, and enjoy!

Lights on the Neuse

Boyette Family Farm, 1620 Loop Road, Clayton Celebrate the holiday with an oldfashioned hayride at Lights on the Neuse this season. The hayride whisks you and your loved ones away to a transformed world of Christmas spirit. It’s open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night through Christmas Eve, and other select nights as well. For the complete schedule, visit

Dawn Avenue Lights

Dawn Avenue, Four Oaks Featured in previous Christmas guides, this imaginative display features a “mega tree,” singing Santa Claus, hundreds of lights and even broadcasts music over your car stereo in sync with the show.

Christmas Lights Contest

Smithfield The Light Up Smithfield Christmas Lights Contest will feature four categories: Griswold (the more and tackier, the BETTER!), Traditionally Elegant, Best Theme and Best Window Display. Show your creativity and get the whole family involved! This contest is open to all residences and businesses inside the city limits. Houses and businesses should be decorated no later than December 11. Judging will take place on Dec. 18-19 and winners ill be named on Dec. 21.

Ready Set Escape

1304-D Market Street, Smithfield Check out “Santa’s Cabin,” their new 30-minute Christmas escape room experience appropriate for all ages. For reservations, visit www.ready-set-escape. com

Free piano lessons

Elizabeth Ann Temple, MM, is offering free piano lessons for the month of December. It’s open to all ages, because Temple, a public school music teacher, wants everyone to have access to piano music during the holidays. Call or text 919-9017582 for more details.


Illustrations courtesy of the Cary School of Creative Arts. For more information, visit

cheerful, holiday guide

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 6 p.m.

Virtual Tree Lighting Downtown Smithfield This year’s tree lighting ceremony in Smithfield will be a virtual event, broadcast on the Town of Smithfield’s Facebook page. Join Mayor Andy Moore, along with a very special guest, as they flip the switch and light up Downtown Smithfield.

Dec. 4-5 and 11-12, 5-8 p.m.

A Drive-thru Christmas Village Tobacco Farm Life Museum, Kenly The Tobacco Farm Life Museum, Kenly Area Chamber of Commerce, Town of Kenly and local businesses are working together to provide a special 2020 holiday program. They invite you to Kenly to tour their first ever drive through Christmas Village and to enjoy the downtown holiday decorations.

Friday, Dec. 4, 5 p.m.

Christmas on Main Downtown Benson Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions and the safety of all, there will not be a parade this year. There will, however, be a tree lighting ceremony and participating stores will be open for shopping. Don’t miss entertainment, food vendors and visits with Santa as well.

Saturday, Dec. 5, 9 a.m.

Stuff UR Stocking Shopping Day Corbett Hatcher Communiity Building, N.C. 39 North, Selma Local vendors will be on hand to help with all your holiday shopping. Food trucks will also be on site. For more information, call Lynn Stanley at 919-369-4951 or Pat Gordon at 919-369-5826.

Saturday, Dec. 5, 9 a.m.

Breakfast with Santa Centenary United Methodist Church, Smithfield Tickets are required. Learn more at www.

Saturday, Dec. 5, 11 a.m.

Reverse Christmas Parade Downtown Four Oaks The annual Christmas parade will look a little different this year. The Town of Four Oaks will be lining Main Street with all of your favorite parade floats and festivities while the spectators will drive through to enjoy! The event will function similar to a drive through lights display. Tired Iron Classics will have an awesome display of vintage bikes and other vehicles. Drive through to check it out and grab your goody bag. This will be a family friendly, safe holiday event so be sure to add it to your calendar! Visit events/339901710429225/ to learn more.

Saturday, Dec. 5, noon

Merry Makers Market 2728 N.C. Hwy. 42, Willow Spring Find unique gifts for friends and family. Pick out your perfect Christmas tree at Healing Green Farms. They look forward to spending the holiday season with you and spreading cheer to shoppers. Visit www. to learn more.

Saturday, Dec. 5, 3 p.m.

Christmas Parade (Small Business Clayton Style) The Clayton General Store and Clayton small businesses will be doing it again, bringing you a small town, but big time Christmas parade. Stay tuned for more details. Visit events/626669108044032/ to learn more.

Saturday, Dec. 5, 7 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 20, 10 a.m.

One on One with Santa and Mrs Claus Clayton General Store This will be one-on-one scheduled time with your family and Santa and Mrs Claus. It’s an amazing experience where Santa will speak to your kids by name and talk about their Christmas list. Visit www. to learn more.

Festival of Trees InStill Distilling Co., Clayton Don’t miss the Festival of Trees, benefiting Clayton Women in Networking. There will be a silent auction, entertainment, heavy hors doeuvers and more. All trees will be donated and decorated by local businesses. Cost is $15. Register at

Thursday, Dec. 24, 6 p.m.

Dec. 16-20, 7 p.m.

New Year’s Eve at The Farm Come ring in 2021 with Jim Quick & Coastline on The Farm at 95! They are reserving a limited number of tables for $100 per table. These tables seat up to 8 people and do not include admission into the event. This will be the only way to guarantee a seat for the evening. Tickets are on sale now at! Learn more at events/780530899478287.

Drive-thru Nativity Pleasant Hill Christian Church, Benson Pleasant Hill Christian Church Presents a live nativity — the story of Christ presented in 10 scenes. Enjoy the animals and lantern-lit drive as you and your family experience the real meaning of Christmas. There is no charge or admission fee, and you can drive through as many times as you would like! Visit www.drivethrunativity. org to learn more.

Eden Woods Luminaries Eden Drive, Smithfield Residents of Eden Woods subdivision in Smithfield will line their streets with luminaries on Christmas Eve (weather permitting). Guests are invited to drive through the candlelit neighborhood.

Thursday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 19, 10 a.m.

Breakfast with Santa Serving Spoon at 119, Pine Level Enjoy a delicious breakfast and get a little quality time for your young ones with jolly ol’ Saint Nick! Visit events/359077295279785/ to register.

Illustration by Alexandra Kirby

DECEMBER 2020 | 7


Cleveland School Rotary Club donates dictionaries Submitted by Cleveland School Rotary Club

The Cleveland School Rotary Club has been donating dictionaries to Johnston County third grade students since 2009, and they weren’t about to let a pandemic break their streak. Though the COVID-19 protocols prevented club members from meeting with the students, the tradition lives on. The club is part of Rotary International, the world’s oldest civic organization, and it’s motto is “Service Above Self.” For more information, call Suzanne Wiley at 919-661-7994.

Lindsey Camper, left, poses with Dixon Road Elementary principal Kenneth Bennett during the Cleveand School Rotary Club’s annual dictionary giveaway to third-grade students.

DECEMBER 2020 | 9

Members of the Clayton Town Council cut the ribbon at the opening of the Harmony Playground presented by Caterpillar at East Clayton Community Park recently. From left: Councilman Michael Grannis, Mayor Jody McLeod, Mayor Pro Tem Jason Thompson, Councilman Avery Everett and Councilman Art Holder.

Clayton cuts ribbon on new inclusive playground Submitted by Town of Clayton

CLAYTON — We’ve been saying it for eight years now. “Every child deserves a chance to play.” That tagline became a reality for the Clayton community recently when Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod and the Town Council officially cut the ribbon to open the Harmony Playground, presented by Caterpillar, at East Clayton Community Park. The town, in partnership with the Clayton Community Recreational Foundation and numerous community partners large and small, worked tirelessly to build the inclusive playground, which allows children and their guardians of all abilities to play together. The Clayton Community Recreational Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has helped the community support family events, parks and other Clayton recreation activities for more than two decades. “Harmony Playground has been a long time coming,” Dean Penny, Foundation 10 | JOHNSTON NOW

chair and a leader of the project’s fundraising efforts over the years, said. “We are excited to have finally reached the stage where we have opened this up to the community.” “This playground was just a dream 10 years ago when the town started designing East Clayton Community Park,” Larry Bailey, former Clayton Parks and Recreation Director, said. “Instead of just putting some swings and slides out here, we knew we had an opportunity to build something unique.” The Harmony Playground is just that. Not only is it the first of its kind in Clayton, but at least one of its features offers a truly one-of-a-kind play experience. The playground’s Music Area was created by the North Carolina State University Park Scholars Class of 2019. Each class of Park Scholars selects a “legacy project” within the community. The 2019 class approached Clayton Parks and Recreation a few years ago because they wanted to build a playground for children with special needs. The scholars then spent the

next two years working in partnership with Parks and Recreation to design, raise funds and, eventually, build the Harmony Playground’s music walls and poles. “There are have been so many people involved in this project over the years that it would be hard to name them all,” Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard said. “From focus groups to donors and designers, this has been a true community effort.” Among those who have worked to make the playground possible are local industry leaders like Caterpillar, as well as Novo Nordisk, Gregory Pool Equipment company, Grifols and Northeast Foods. The Dean and Cathy Penny Family Fund and T&T Creative have also been a big part of the playgrounds success — providing funding, services and staff time to fundraising efforts. The Town of Clayton provided the land for the playground and $600,000 in funding for additional amenities such as expanded parking, shelters and bathrooms. The Johnston County Board of Commissioners provided an additional

$100,000 to the playground in their 2019-2020 budget. The town also received a very competitive Connect NC Parks & Recreation Trust Fund grant for $89,810 and a GameTime grant worth about $60,000 in savings from this playground equipment manufacturer. “We celebrate the culmination of an eight-year journey that started with ... about 10 people who had a vision where children and adults of all ages and abilities could come and play together,” County Commissioner Butch Lawter, a member of the original playground focus group, said. “I look forward to seeing all children of all needs being able to participate in this park,” Clayton Town Councilman Michael Grannis added.

Over the years community organizations have helped push the playground to the finish line including The Woman’s Club of Clayton, The Clayton Civitan Club, Christine Taylor Trust, The Archway Foundation, State Farm, Johnston County Association of Realtors, Balfour Beatty, RTP Electrical Associates, LLC, Zaxby’s of Clayton, Zaxby’s of Smithfield, Rotary Club of Clayton, Hudson’s Hardware, Premiere Financial, Terracon, Walmart and Sam’s Club and Sheetz. Numerous individuals and families also contributed to the fundraising efforts. “On behalf of all of our kids ... thank you,” said Candice Collier-Lang, a parent of two daughters, one with special needs, who was a member of the initial community focus group.

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DECEMBER 2020 | 11


JCPS Principal, Assistant Principal of the Year value teamwork, community Submitted by Johnston County Public Schools

Dr. Kerri Evans, principal of Swift Creek Middle School, was selected as the 20202021 Principal of the Year for Johnston County Public Schools recently and Carson Cataliotti, assistant principal of South Smithfield Elementary School, was selected as the 2020-2021 Assistant Principal of the Year. Evans and Cataliotti were surprised with the recognition in front of their families and JCPS staff at their respective schools. Evans has served as the principal at Swift Creek Middle since the school’s opening in 2017. “This was a proud moment for me. We have worked so hard to build our Swift Creek community and culture since we opened in 2017,” she said. “At the moment that I was named Principal of the Year I thought, ‘This is for all of us. This is

for all of the hard work that has gone into building Swift Creek over the last three years.’” Cataliotti has served as the assistant principal at South Smithfield Elementary since 2017. “It was such a high honor to be named Assistant Principal of the Year,” Cataliotti said. “I’ve served for 13 years in Johnston County Public Schools. This is my fourth year as AP, and to be named Assistant Principal of the Year was very exciting. Assistant principals are sometimes behind the scenes, so to be recognized was a true surprise.” The Amy Renfrow Leadership Principal of the Year Award is named after former Corinth-Holders Elementary principal Amy Renfrow. The awards are given through the Johnston County Principal

and Assistant Principal Association (JCPAPA). The Johnston County Education Foundation awarded Evans with a check in the amount of $1,000 ($500 for personal use and $500 for her school) and Cataliotti with an award check in the amount of $500. Both were nominated by their colleagues to receive the award. Evans is described by her colleagues as someone who has impeccable judgment and character, as well as someone who truly cares about her students and staff. She is known for working hard to ensure that all of her teammates and students succeed. “Working with Dr. Evans is one of the highlights of my career,” said Swift Creek

Middle Assistant Principal Isaac Bruton. “She is the epitome of leadership. She loves her staff and her staff loves her. We all work as one team, and she is very collaborative.” Cataliotti is described by her colleagues as someone who never stops learning as well as someone who always advocates for teachers. She is known for being a strong leader, approachable and caring. “(She) brings so much joy to our school every single day. The passion that she has for students is evident,” said South Smithfield Principal Laura Makey. Both women are known among their colleagues and students for their teamwork, servant leadership and dedication to their communities. “I love serving the students and the staff here,” said Cataliotti. “I believe heavily on distributive leadership. We are only as smart as the person next to us. Building on the strengths and talents of others is so important to me so that we can be the best school that we can be. Teamwork is everything. We have to

work together to meet the needs of our students.” Evans said she is humbled by the outpouring of community support she has received since the school first opened. She said students, staff and parents alike all see themselves as a part of the Swift Creek Wolf Pack. “I am so proud of our school, teachers, students and community. We have such an amazing team here,” said Evans. “Middle school is such a great place to be. I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love our community atmosphere, and I love my students.” Evans and Cataliotti were both raised by educators and former administrators and found a passion for education early in life. “Both of my parents were principals. I’ve been around the school setting since I was a child. I’ve spent years being in an environment with educators,” said Evans. “It was a proud moment to know that all of the work that went into my schooling to be the best middle level educator I can be has paid off.”

Cataliotti said that as a young girl she would often play school with her stuffed animals, and even asked for an overhead projector for Christmas one year. “My dad was my elementary school principal and my mom was my middle school principal. I guess leadership runs in the family,” said Cataliotti. “I just knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher. Being a first grade teacher was my heart for such a long time. I decided to go into administration because I viewed a school as a bigger classroom, and that is exactly what it has been like for me. I love being able to have a bigger impact on my students.” Evans and Cataliotti will represent Johnston County Public Schools over the 2020-2021 school year as the Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year. Both Evans and Cataliotti said they hope to continue working with their teachers and staff to continue building a sense of community in their schools over the next year.


Pictured are, front row: Heather Davies, registered dietitian; Ashley Scott, HealthQuest director; Sol Halliburton, executive director of the Johnston Health Foundation; Dana Peterson, 2019-2020 president; Sarah Edwards, 2019-2020 president elect and Kelly Blanchard, 2019-2020 V.P. of Fund Development. Back row: Frankie Benavidez, Health & Wellness Specialist; Amanda Johnson, Development and Communications Coordinator; Pam Bachelor, BNI moderator and PR chair; Laura Hill, V.P. of membership; Erin Smith, V.P. of community outreach and engagement and Meredith Fordham, BNI co-chair.

Junior Women’s League of Smithfield’s Big Night In raises $9,000 for Johnston Health Foundation Submitted by Junior Women’s League of Smithfield

SMITHFIELD — Due to Covid-19, the Junior Women’s League of Smithfield had to cancel its fifth-annual Big Night Out gala in June and instead held a virtual Big Night In event to benefit the Johnston Health Foundation. The League’s 2019-2020 Board of Directors were proud to be able to recently present a check for $9,000 to

Johnston Health Foundation for their new Healthy Families Program. The Healthy Families Program will provide fitness and nutrition education to the deserving parents/guardians of the children enrolled in the existing Healthy Kids Program at HealthQuest. Parents and guardians directly influence

their child’s participation in activities and the purchase and preparation of their food. The Healthy Families Program is the next step taken to provide a resource with the holistic health of children in mind. “This Community Impact Grant was made possible because of generous donors who supported our out-of-

the-box Big Night In virtual fundraiser earlier this year. JWL is extremely grateful for all of the support we received from our community. It truly was amazing, especially during this uncertain time,” said Meredith Fordham, co-chair of BNI. Visit for more information. DECEMBER 2020 | 17

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DECEMBER 2020 | 19

Real Country Variety and More Music



Illustration by Tom Hutchison

DECEMBER 2020 | 23

Glow Yoga Gift Certificate

If you have someone on your list that’s into yoga, a gift certificate from Glow Yoga in Clayton is a fine choice. They can be used for local handmade items from the Namaste Boutique and yoga classes, workshops and trainings. There are also locally farmed organic CBD flower and pre-rolls, handmade jewelry, essential oils, Glow Yoga apparel and much more. For more details, visit www.

Holiday gift guide I

n 2020, words like strange, odd and unprecedented have lost their meaning, buried under the avalanche of weird that this year has dropped on all of us.

One bit of normalcy, however, is the need to knock out a little holiday shopping. After all, a thoughtful gift still goes a long way toward making the season brighter for that special someone. As always, your friends at Johnston Now are here to help. We’ve asked around and gathered a few gift giving ideas that will not only tickle the fancy of those on your shopping list, but help you shop local and support your neighbors this holiday season. With that, we wish you all the best this holiday season. Happy shopping!

2020 Themed Christmas Ornaments For just $7.50 for each, you can put an ornament on your tree that tells the world how just you feel about 2020. It’s a different take on the notion of putting a new ornament on the tree each year, but this year, it seems appropriate. This is just one of the many unique and customizable gift ideas on offer at Oak City Collection. For more details, stop by the shop on Third Street in Smithfield.

Black Creek Arsenal Gift Certificate The folks at Black Creek Arsenal in Four Oaks also have gift certificates on offer. They can be customized to whatever amount you like and can be used on anything in the store. It’s a father-and-son owned gun shop with a full time gunsmith, and they buy, sell, trade, repair, clean and transfer firearms. Ammunition, guns parts and gun accessories are also available. Learn more at

Handmade Chocolate Truffles

It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate, and the folks at The Queen’s Court in Downtown Clayton have just such a treat — chocolate truffles from Sweet Shop USA for $24.99. “These chocolates are so good, we keep selling out. Customers tell us they are the most incredible chocolates they have eaten! ... Included in this assortment are Double Chocolate, Fudge Love, Over the Top, Red Velvet and Sea Salt Caramel.” To learn more, call 919-631-2443.

Custom Monogrammed Corkscrew

This is a traditional metal corkscrew but with a personal touch. They can monogram it with either a Roman (more masculine) or Vine (more feminine) font for the wine lover on your list. For more details, stop by Oak City Collection on Third Street in Smithfield.

Kurgo Bridge

Our friends at Just Dog People always have the best ideas when it comes to man’s best friend, and the Kurgo Bridge is no exception. The bridge provides extra comfort and space while riding your dog in the backseat by “bridging” the gap between the front and back seats. For multi-dog families that have trouble fitting their furry pals in the backseat, this is your answer! It’s $59.99, and you can find out all about it at Just Dog People on Glen Road in Garner (919-977-7822).

DECEMBER 2020 | 25

Ready Set Escape Gift Certificate

There’s no shame in going the gift card route for gift giving. I’ve done it myself on many occasions. It is, after all, a sure-fire way to make sure the person you’re shopping for likes their gift. But instead of an Amazon or Walmart gift card, why not give the gift of adventure? Ready Set Escape, conveniently located in Smithfield, offers three different escape room adventures guaranteed to thrill adventure seekers. Pirate’s Plunder is a room ideally suited for novice players, Hollywood Heist is jam packed with fun movie references and, for experienced players, Monopoly Mania offers a two-room experience to test would-be escape artists. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, all rooms are private. For pricing or to learn more, visit

Grandpaws K9 Interactive Services Gift Certificate

During this time of year, many people get puppies and rescue dogs for Christmas. However, by February or March, the shelters are full of untrained dogs. Grandpaws can help you build a lasting relationship with your dog and avoid the pitfalls of early dog ownership. Normal price for a consultation is $175, but if you want to give your loved one a gift certificate for a consultation, the cost will be $150. There are also customizable gift cards for other services depending on one’s needs. Learn more at

Starmark Bob-A-Lot

An interactive dog puzzle toy (available in two sizes) to keep Fido entertained while providing mental stimulation! Dogs get bored easily, so help them challenge themselves to get the treats out in this multi-level toy. The Bob-A-Lot can also be used as slow-feeder for dogs that inhale their kibble too fast. It give a whole new meaning to ‘working for your dinner!’ Pricing ranges from $15.99 to $23.99. Call Just Dog People at 919-977-7822 to find out more.

Round Halo Necklace

Jewelry is always a go-to gift option for that special someone, and you can pick up a piece of timeless elegance at Selma Jewelry. The Lafonn Round Halo Necklace (.62 ct) features Lafonn’s signature Lassaire round simulated diamonds in sterling silver bonded with platinum — all for $140. Learn more at 26 | JOHNSTON NOW

Mistletoe-Scented Candle

This beautifully scented candle is in a decorative vessel filled with clean burning soy wax. You can re-purpose or refill it long after the wax has melted away. They are hand poured in the USA in small batches and just $19.99. To find more gift ideas at The Queen’s Court, call 919-631-2443.


G a l m

The Inn at Pine Knoll Shores

Give the gift of ocean proximity with our friends at the Inn at Pine Knoll Shores. Relax in an oceanfront room and let the waves carry your worries away. The facility has a full restaurant and bar, pool, hot tub and workout room. This month, you can book a room for just $99! Learn more at

HealthQuest Membership and Gift Cards

Give the gift of health! Encourage your family and friends by showing them how much you care about them. Purchase a one-month membership for only $40 through Dec. 31. HealthQuest is loaded with amenities, including: strength training equipment, free weights, pools, steam rooms, massage therapy, personal training, swim lessons, nutritional counseling, child care services and more. You can also purchase gift cards at HealthQuest for any amount that can be used for any service or pro shop items. Massage gift cards are also available, and through their loyalty program, if you buy five massages, the sixth one is free. Visit healthquest or call 919-9387581 to learn more.

CC Fur Pom Toboggans

The CC Fur Top Toboggans from 104 Clothing & Boutique make the best stocking stuffer! There are several pattern and color options just in time for Christmas. Just $24 each. 104 Clothing & Boutique is a small, female-owned business located in the Cleveland Community. To learn more, download their app, find them on Facebook or check out the store on N.C. 42 West in Garner.

Citizen Promaster Diver Watch

In the interest of equal time, our friends at Selma Jewelry have an option for men, too. With Eco-Drive technology, the Citizen Promaster Diver is powered by light and never needs a battery. This watch is featured in stainless steel with azure blue aluminum bezel and matching azure blue dial. All Citizen watches are 20 percent off, and for more information, visit www.

Wool Fedora Hats

Trending all year long — the fedora hats from 104 Clothing & Boutique ($30) are a wardrobe must have! There are solid and patterned belt options and they can be styled with so many outfits all year long. To learn more, download their app, find them on Facebook or check out the store on N.C. 42 West in Garner.

DECEMBER 2020 | 27


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DECEMBER 2020 | 29

North Carolina’s first NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative team includes Johnston County students in grades 7-12 and two college students. The team hopes to research, build and launch a mini-satellite to space by 2023. Photo by Dunja Nasimento-Wilson

Johnston County students tackle out-of-this-world endeavor By Shannon Mann

Putting a man on the moon more than 50 years ago was just the beginning of what human imagination and engineering could do when it came to touching the stars. Today, America has established the Space Force for securing a future beyond Earth’s boundaries and NASA is preparing for missions to Mars, but space isn’t just for the military and professionals anymore as some Johnston County students are setting out to prove. In August, nearly two dozen middle and high school students from local public, charter and home schools came together via Zoom with the goal of researching, building and launching North Carolina’s first CubeSat.


CubeSats are nanosatellites that meet NASA research objectives and compete for the opportunity to travel to lower Earth orbit aboard a future rocket launch. According to NASA’s website these tiny satellites were developed in 1999 by Cal Poly and Stanford Universities to provide a platform for education and space exploration. Since 1999, 41 states have launched a CubeSat. North Carolina is one that hasn’t, but last spring, coaches from a team in Florida reached out to SmithfieldSelma High School teacher Angela Jenkins to see if she might be interested in forming the first team from North Carolina.

“When I received the phone call about participating in NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, I immediately thought of my current and previous students who live, love and breathe everything NASA,” she said. “I imagined all the dreams they talked about and how the one thing they wanted was to participate in a space program. I couldn’t say no to this opportunity because I would be saying no to their dreams.” Jenkins’ initial group of students came from another STEM-based program, FIRST robotics. As a mentor to the FIRST Robotics Competition Team 6004 f(x) Robotics, based at Smithfield-Selma High School, and a coach to the FIRST

Tech Challenge team NUSA based at Neuse Charter School, she had worked with these students for several years preparing them to build/program robots to compete in the world’s largest STEMbased competition for K-12th graders. To grow the team she reached out to other Johnston County FIRST Lego League coaches, high school principals, Science Olympiad coaches and the local Civil Air Patrol to see who else might be interested. So far, 22 students, including two in college, have signed on to be part of this historic team, named f(x) First in Orbit — a nod to N.C.’s aviation history and the team’s robotic roots. “There’s a huge benefit to having a CubeSat team in our county; both for the students and the community,” Jenkins said. “Working toward this mission paves the way for other students in the county and state to dream, and it demonstrates that students can have a lasting impact within the community and the world around them. Part of this team’s mission is to develop resources for future teams and educational institutions working to expand people’s knowledge about CubeSats and their value in education. Developing these resources will further STEM within Johnston County and North Carolina.” The endeavor of launching a CubeSat is no small task, but Jenkins isn’t flying blind. Kevin Simmons, a veteran coach in Florida, serves as a mentor on the ins/ outs of the program. Simmons discovered the program in 2009 while serving as an Albert Einstein Distinguished

Members of the f(x) First in Orbit team met at Smithfield-Selma High School to discuss their NASA payload proposal. The team is made up of students from across Johnston County. Photo by Sloan Mann

Educator Fellow at the National Science Foundation. “This spring when COVID shut down in-person school, my young fifth and sixth graders decided we would reach out and try to help teams from two states who had never launched a CubeSat: (North Carolina) and Nebraska.” A native of Mount Airy and graduate of N.C. State University, Simmons tried for years to start a CubeSat team in the Tar Heel State with no success, but with his Florida students eager to share their knowledge, he tried again. He caught up with a former high school and college friend, Dr. Todd Holmes and that changed the trajectory. Holmes, an

administrator in the Johnston County school system connected Simmons with Jenkins and the North Carolina team was born. “I really believe in the CubeSats and am at an age where it is important that I help my students understand that ‘winning’ is not enough. We must help others,” Simmons said. “Helping others go to space is a really cool mindset. My students really enjoy the chance to work with the older students in N.C. and Nebraska.” With veterans helping to mentor their teams, North Carolina and Nebraska are also looking at how they can help each other. Both teams are proposing DECEMBER 2020 | 31

to develop their technologies so that their CubeSats can communicate with each other in outer space — a design application that sets them apart from other proposals.

help guide these young minds to obtaining financial backing to off-set a $100,000 price tag, Jenkins encourages community and business leaders to invest in the future of STEM in Johnston County.

Jenkins team is meeting several times a week to complete its research and prepare the preliminary design review (PDR) for submission to NASA in mid-December. The team will find out if their PDR is accepted by April 2021.

Simmons echoed her sentiments explaining that these type of programs are crucial to students’ futures. “Being part of a CubeSat team positions them well to go to the universities of their choice and gives them real-world, authentic experience,” he said. “There are no low paying jobs in aerospace. Any student who wishes to work in the satellite world needs this experience with CubeSats while they are in school.”

“If chosen by NASA we begin a two-year journey of building and testing our satellite,” she said. The journey will be a historic milestone for the students, the county and state and Jenkins makes it known that it will not happen without community support. From finding experts in aero/astro/engineering to

More information of f(x) First in Orbit can be found at:

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f(x) First in Orbit lands at Kennedy Space Center By Shannon Mann | Photos by Dunja Nasimento-Wilson

Eighteen students from North Carolina’s first CubeSat team traveled to Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently to meet with NASA and other corporate leaders in the field of mechanical and aerospace engineering. The students are part of the f(x) First in Orbit CubeSat team, which formed in April 2020, with the goal of researching, building and launching a minisatellite into space. As the first team from North Carolina to participate in NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, the team was invited to Florida to present

Eighteen students from N.C.’s f(x) First in Orbit CubeSat team traveled to Kennedy Space Center to meet veteran members of Florida’s Wolfpack CubeSat team. Both teams, along with a rookie team from Nebraska, presented initial payload ideas as they prepare their proposal design review for submission to NASA in mid-December.

their initial payload ideas to a panel of six engineers. “It was important for us to go so we could have our design ideas reviewed and critiqued.” Joseph Evans, a sophomore at Smithfield-Selma High School, said. “It was an amazing experience in terms of education, progress and personal enjoyment.” The team of Johnston County students, along with two college students from N.C. State and Johnston County Community College, presented two possible ideas to the panel ranging from using piezoelectric sensors to detect space debris to measuring the concentration of low Earth orbit radiation. Both proposals incorporated a unique element in which the team would link their CubeSat communications to another minisatellite being developed by a rookie team in Nebraska so that the satellites could talk to each other while in orbit. “We spent many hours preparing our slides for the presentation and additional time memorizing our speeches, but in the end it was all worth it,” said Ethan Carroll, a 10th grade home schooler. “We needed feedback from NASA scientists on our ideas so that

Ethan Carroll, a 10th grade home schooler and member of the f(x) First in Orbit team, briefs the Johnston County Board of Education in early September asking permission for the team of public, charter and home schoolers to travel to Kennedy Space Center, F.L. The board unanimously voted in favor of supporting the team in their goal of researching, building and launching N.C.’s first CubeSat into space.

we could further refine the designs until we had one solid idea for our final proposal.” The reviewers asked lots of questions about their research and offered feedback to help the team narrow their focus to one payload. The all-day briefing at KSC’s Center for Space Education also allowed the North Carolina team to meet with middle-schoolers of a veteran team in Florida with a 2018 launch to their credit. “It was interesting to hear what the Florida teams were doing,” said Sloan Mann, a seventh grade home schooler. “Some of their project ideas ranged from $120,000 to a million dollars. It is hard to think something so small could cost so much, but we learned a lot from them.” The opportunity came

during a time when most field trips have been put on hold, but the team’s coach, Angela Jenkins, a teacher at Smithfield-Selma High School, was not going to the let the opportunity pass. Since the bulk make-up of the team roster consists of public high school students, Jenkins arranged for the team to brief the Johnston County Board of Education in early September. The board was so impressed with the students’ initiative, and ensuring this historical endeavor stayed in the county, that they unanimously voted to support the four-day trip. Madi Wallace, a home schooled ninth grader, said she didn’t know anything about the team when her Science Olympiad coach emailed her, but she knew she had a strong interest in space and couldn’t pass up this oncein-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I loved getting the opportunity to speak to NASA scientists who gave us feedback on our payload ideas,” she said. “I also enjoyed getting to know my team better and making new friends throughout this incredible experience.” The trip to Kennedy Space Center was just the start of an 18- to 36-month journey for this team as they prepare their proposal design review for submission to NASA later this month. In addition to researching, building and launching a CubeSat they also have the goal of documenting everything they do to provide educational resources to other teams that might follow in their footsteps. Chelsea Partridge, a panelist for the team at Kennedy Space Center and test engineer for the Orion Capsule said she was blown away by what the students were doing. “It is incredible to see such interest in young people in building these satellites and doing this testing,” she said. “You are all phenomenal students.” Follow the team on Twitter at @FirstinOrbit or find them on Facebook at First in Orbit. DECEMBER 2020 | 33


DECEMBER 2020 | 35

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Activate Selma group receives $3,000 for mural project Submitted by Activate Selma

SELMA — Activate Selma, a grassroots group of business owners and citizens, recently received a check for $3,000 for their mural project in the downtown Selma district. The funds were awarded from the Triangle East Economic Development Foundation. “These funds will help drive a positive movement in Selma,” said founding member, Cindy Brookshire. “We want to see Selma grow and prosper and this is just one step we are taking to make that happen.” Ron Hester of Hester Properties is the third building owner to donate a blank canvas to this project. The train mural on his building on East Railroad Street was completed in September and discussions of where to put another mural are on the top of the list for the Activate Selma group. “In giving this building as a canvas, we are continuing to move Selma forward in a positive, energetic way and I love being a part of this movement and seeing what will happen in the next few months with other buildings and murals,” said Hester. This is the third in a series of highly visible murals or tourism banners that have been installed in the Town of Selma’s Central Business District. Murals create a tangible sense of place and destination, resulting in increased foot traffic while adding color, vibrancy and character to a walkable town.

Public art is an outward and visible sign of Selma’s uptown revitalization and falls under the umbrella of economic development, one of the four main areas that Selma Town Council and Town Management are focusing on in fiscal year 2020-21 — the other three are infrastructure, code enforcement and appearance. The first was a 2019 mural featuring historic landmarks around Selma that was painted in Vick Park by Fayetteville artist and former Selma art teacher Dorothy Finiello. The mural was part of the East Anderson Street Redevelopment Plan executed by members of the Town of Selma Appearance Commission. That plan had the park resurfaced, added wall improvements, fencing, lighting, benches, tables, landscaping and the mural. Vick Park is used for picnics, community meetings, the Selma Saturdays Arts and Crafts Market, and well as other public and private gatherings.

The second is a tourism banner mounted on the side of Reid’s Print Services’ building at the busy intersection of U.S. 301 and Anderson Street in September 2020. The cost of the banner and installation was paid for by the 2 percent hotel and restaurant tax collected by the Johnston County Visitors Bureau. The Selma Tourism Committee is executing a campaign of gateway, wayfinding and banner signs and this is the first of that series. Charles and Donna Reid donated the use of their building for this banner. The third, for which Activate Selma received funding, is a building-sized mural of a steam engine locomotive, painted by Raeford artist, Lacey Crime. The building is a warehouse on East Railroad Street owned by Hester. He donated the use of his building and secured the artist, who finished the mural

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A few members of the Activate Selma group pose in front of Ron Hester’s new mural. They are, from left: Front row, left to right, Warren Stancil, Todd Daniels, Jeffery Hamilton and Jud Patterson. Back row, George Boyd, Cindy Brookshire, Donna Reid, Ron Hester, Darryl Washington, Michael Sneed and Byron McAllister.

at the end of September – just in time for the Oct. 2-3 annual Railroad Days Festival. The mural faces the North Carolina coastal line that is used by CSX and Amtrak. Passengers from up and down the east coast arriving and departing from

Selma Union Depot will be able to see the mural, as well as customers of Trackside Antiques, A Matter of Record, Heidi Moore CPA and People’s Barber Shop. Many people have already been spotted taking selfies in front of this mural. Activate Selma is a grassroots group

of business owners, entrepreneurs, volunteers, residents and friends who have a heart for Selma. Patterned after, they meet every Wednesday at 9 am at various locations around uptown Selma to spark creative problem-solving and push through broken record stories of the town’s past.

DECEMBER 2020 | 39

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Add your organization’s events to the community calendar at or email us at For the full community calendar with hundreds of area events, visit NAMI Support Groups and Classes

The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers free weekly support groups throughout Johnston County for both those who are in recovery with mental illness (NAMI Connection) and for their caregivers, loved ones and friends as well (NAMI Family Support). For more information on the support groups and educational classes of NAMI Johnston County, NC, visit, email or call 919980-5277.

Every Thursday, 6:30 a.m.

Clayton Rotary Morning Club Rainbow Lanes Every Thursday morning, 70 service-minded people, representing all ages, genders and races, meet at Rainbow Lanes in Clayton. Breakfast is served at 6:45 a.m. and the hour-long meeting starts sharply at 7 a.m.

Every Thursday, 9 a.m.

First and Third Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

Fellowship Masonic Lodge #84 meeting Fellowship Masonic Lodge #84, S. Brightleaf Blvd. Fellowship Masonic Lodge #84 meets the first and third Thursday of each month. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m., and visitors are welcome. The lodge will open at 7:30 p.m. For more information, email Grover Dees at gdees1@nc.rr. com.

First and Third Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

Clayton Rotary Mid-day Club This small group of service-minded individuals are very dedicated to community betterment in Clayton and Johnston County. The club meets on the first and third Tuesday at noon at the Cleveland Draft House in Clayton.

Plant a Row for the Hungry JCC Arboretum Join a year-round garden the provides fresh fruit and vegetables to nearby soup kitchens and food pantries. No gardening experience is required to volunteer and training is provided. For more information, please contact Tiffany at

First Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

Every Thursday, noon

Smithfield Running Club Hastings House, S. Front St., Smithfield Join the Smithfield Running Club each Monday and Saturday to meet new people, get back in shape, train for races and explore the growing downtown area of Smithfield. Monday meetings are at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday runs are at 9 a.m. For more information, find them on Facebook by searching for Smithfield Running Club or email smithfieldrunningclub@

First and Third Tuesday, noon

Smithfield Lions Club meeting Selma Lions Club building, West Oak St., Selma This group gathers for fellowship and business. There is no meal. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Come learn about the club and how we help with local community service projects. For more information contact Karen Brown at 919-934-2555.


Central Johnston County Rotary Club Johnston Medical Mall The Central Johnston County Rotary Club meets every Thursday and serves the Smithfield and Selma areas.

Clayton Civitan Club meeting Clayton Civitan Club building, McCullers St., Clayton Join the Clayton Civitan Club for its meetings each month on the first and third Thursdays of each month at 6:45 p.m. For more information, call 919-550-0694.

Every Monday and Saturday

Second Monday, 6 p.m.

Parents of Adult Children in Transition meeting The Church at Clayton Crossings Parents of Adult Children in Transition meets the second Monday of each month at The Church at Clayton Crossings from 6-8 p.m. To learn more, contact Jeff Holland at

Second Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Widowed Persons fellowship group Parkside Cafe, Pine Level The Widowed Persons Fellowship Group, Johnston County, cordially invites widowed males and females to join them at their monthly self-pay dinner meeting. There is no charge to join their group. Come and see what they’re all about. Call 919-965-3865 with any questions.

Second Wednesday, 8 a.m.

Veterans Rally Point American Legion Post 132, Pitchi Street, Smithfield All veterans are invited to attend Veterans Rally Point on the second Wednesday of each month. This is a place where veterans to meet, socialize and network. For more information, call Robert Boyette at 19-989-5067.

Second Wednesday, noon

Woman’s Club of Clayton meeting 109 Church Street, Clayton The Woman’s Club of Clayton (TWCC) is a non-profit philanthropic organization made up of professional women who share a common goal: to work together to improve our local community, socially, physically, culturally, and educationally. TWCC meets at noon the second Wednesday of each month (except June, July and August) at the TWCC clubhouse.

Second Thursday, 7 p.m.

Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting The Pine Level VFW Post 9564 meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.

Third Monday, 6 p.m.

Kiwanis Club of Clayton The Kiwanis Club of Clayton serves the community with emphasis on school youth Kiwanis programs. It advises two local high school KEY (Kiwanis Educating Youth) clubs and one elementary school club and meets each month. For more information, email president Jack Tucker at mrtcpa@ or call 805-377-9573.

Fourth Monday, 6:30 p.m.

Disabled American Veterans meeting 1500 Buffalo Road, Smithfield Smithfield Chapter 44 of the Disabled American Veterans meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec 1, 9 a.m.

Free COVID-19 testing Receive free drive-thru testing for COVID-19, courtesy of the Johnston County Health Department. Its open to all ages, with no preregistration required. There are no out-of-pocket costs, but bring your ID and insurance card. To learn more, call 919-209-8310.

Third Monday, 7 p.m.

Vietnam Veterans of America American Legion Post 132, Smithfield The Smithfield Chapter 990 meeting of the Vietnam Veterans of America is every third Monday of the month at 7 p.m.

Third Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Johnston County African-American Caucus meeting The Johnston County African-American Caucus meets every third Tuesday of the month. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting is a virtual one. Visit www.us02web.zoom. us/j/9216132965 to attend. The Meeting ID is 921 613 2965. For more information, email

Third Saturday, 1 p.m.

Refreshing Springs Outreach Ministries, Inc. We invite you to worship and fellowship with us as we continue to grow at Fairfield Inn & Suites-Marriot. For any questions, email Rev. Pam Ballard at pballard@ or call 919-585-7497.

DECEMBER 2020 | 43

Friday, Dec. 4, 8 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 12, 1 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 18

Donnie Howard Music Shenanigans Taproom, Benson Don’t miss this show at Shenanigan’s Taproom in McGee’s Crossroads.

Marketing Your Business JCC Small Business Center, Clayton Marketing for the 21st Century in small business is more dynamic and challenging than ever. Discover how to most effectively and efficiently use the many marketing tools Sunday, Dec. 6, 10:45 a.m. available. Learn how to reach your customer, analyze your Sunday Drive in Concert industry and business environment. Understand how to Benson Church of God differentiate between branding, advertising and grassroots Check out Tennessee Sunday Drive and a musical experience marketing techniques. Explore the components of an that takes audiences on a journey they will remember effective marketing plan in this comprehensive seminar. Preforever. Visit registration required. Attendee must be 18 or older. Register to learn more. at Citizen Science: Feeder Watch Howell Woods, Four Oaks Come learn about Feeder Watch, a citizen science project that collects data on winter birds. This will help you identify winter species and collect data for researchers and scientists. Please wear closed-toed shoes and dress for the weather. This program is for all ages, however, children must be accompanied by an adult. This program is $5/participant. Call 919-938-0115 to learn more.

Saturday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m.

Bad Decisions Band The Junction Come out to The Junction for an evening full of Bad Decisions.

Clayton Area Parkinson’s Group We invite all people with Parkinsons and their caregivers to join us to learn, socialize and exchange ideas in friendly and casual meetings. Meeting locations and times vary. To learn more, call Mark or Jane Wilson at 919-359-0633 or 919631-2628. Or email

Friday, Dec. 18, 5:30 p.m.

Stone Soup Toad Song Farm, Clayton In the spirit of the story of stone soup, everyone is asked to bring something to go into the pot or something to go on the table. Everyone is also invited to bring their own bowl and spoon and beverage of their choice. They start cooking the soup at 5:30 p.m., and serve it up once everyone’s contribution to the pot has had time to heat up and meld its flavor with the rest of the soup ingredients. Whoever finds a stone in their bowl wins a prize. Drumming and general merry making around the fire is encouraged. At the end of the evening, everyone is challenged to take a jar of our hearty soup to share with a friend or neighbor who can’t make it out to the event.

Saturday, Dec. 19, 10 a.m

Open House & Pony Rides 690 West Olive Road, Clayton Pasture Pals Equine Rescue presents an open house and pony rides fundraiser. Learn more at

Saturday, Dec. 19, 1 p.m.

Winter Birds Howell Woods, Four Oaks Come celebrate the Winter Solstice by observing animals that overwinter — birds! Learn how to identify local and migrant species and examine birds from feeders and on the trail. Please wear closed-toed shoes and dress for the weather. This program is for all ages, however, children must be accompanied by an adult. This program is $5/participant. Call 919-938-0115 to learn more.

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Profile for Johnston Now

December 2020  

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