January 2019

Page 1

January 2019 | Your Community. Your Neighbors. Your Story.

South Johnston puts new

spin on learning

Readers share

wedding stories

Jazz legend has

Bentonville roots

“Friends have asked why on Earth did I travel from Wake Forest to Clayton to have my baby delivered at Johnston Health. I tell them that after the wonderful care I had with my first delivery there, I wouldn’t think of going anywhere else!” – Melinda Gibson & daughters Kennedy & Adalynn Wake Forest, NC

For the Gibsons’ full story, visit us on the web.


Expert Care - Close To Home! www.johnstonhealth.org/labor-and-delivery


ClaytonWeddingExpo Saturday

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Your future starts here. To register for this FREE EVENT, call 919-553-3152, ext. 2 or go online to theclaytoncenter.com

ON THE COVER Sam and Sarah Lassiter share a moment during their backyard wedding. Photo by Megan Morales Photography.


Wedding Stories


Volume 3, Number 2

A Shandy Communications, LLC publication

Publisher Randy Capps


General Manager

Shanna Capps shanna@johnstonnow.com

Creative Consultant Ethan Capps

Advertising Consultants Jess Barbour, Gordon Becton and Irene Brooks Senior Graphic Designer Tuesdaie Williams Graphic Designers Jess Barbour and Ali Kabrich Editorial Consultants Mike Bollinger and Rebecca J. Blair Office Manager Katie Crowder

Interested in advertising? Send an email to shanna@johnstonnow.com or call 919-618-4405 Story idea or a photo to share? Send an email to hello@johnstonnow.com or mail it to P.O. Box 58, Four Oaks, N.C. 27524

919-980-5522 www.johnstonnow.com Facebook.com/JohnstonNow 102 N. Main St., Four Oaks, N.C. 27524 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. ©2019 Johnston Now. All rights reserved.
















Small changes can lead to big things in 2019 Some things are natural.

You can count on things like birds migrating south for the winter, moths flying to flame or my bride reading sales papers on our living room floor after lunch on Thanksgiving. For columnists, the urge to write on New Year’s resolutions is equally strong. I resisted it last year, opting instead to share my affinity for obscure ‘80s movies while encouraging you all to dream big in 2018.

spending less time in front of a screen, ‘tis the season for self improvement. There’s nothing wrong with that. I did it myself. I have a bad habit of letting emails stack up like old Christmas cards, which isn’t great for those folks who are trying to reach me. I’m going to work on that.

Randy Capps


It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Just think of a little thing you could do differently that might Hopefully, you took my advice and made the year we just left make your life better. behind all that it could be. After all, a journey of a 1,000 miles starts with a single step. Here I sit, once again, with my inner writer saying, “come on, man. Write about your resolutions. People love that For the record, I didn’t have to go nearly as far for this stuff.” column. Thanks a lot, writer’s brain. It’s relatable. Plenty of people make declarations this time of year. Whether its losing weight, running a marathon or just


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moving to Wayne County during the 1890s. There, for reasons unknown, Hinton changed his surname to that of his father, “Monk.” The Monks raised a total of 10 children, all of whom received at least some formal education. The seventh child, Thelonious Sr., even managed to learn to play the piano in his spare time. Unfortunately, the family’s financial situation did not allow him to pursue his musical interest. After leaving his parents’ home, he moved to Rocky Mount in search of employment and married the formidable, politically active Barbara Batts. It was here in Rocky Mount that Thelonious Monk Jr. was born on October 10, 1917.

Levin Cole’s farmhouse near Bentonville.

There were many great jazz musicians during the mid-20th century, but Thelonious Monk, the second-most recorded to date, stands out. Famous for his inventiveness, energy and dynamism, Monk broke the mold of traditional jazz and substantially added to the genre’s repertoire. However, few people know that his family was from Johnston County and, while there, experienced black Americans’ first taste — and subsequent loss of — freedom. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed in Dec. 1865. It read: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

died, the economy had been ruined and the land was occupied by Northern soldiers. For the freedmen, however, 1865 was the year of Jubilee, a watershed moment that marked the start of their quest for equality. The journey was not easy. The year 1866 saw the North Carolina government pass the “Black Codes,” a series of laws meant to limit the new freedom of black people. Some of these repressive laws gave former masters the right to keep custody of their underage ex-slaves. Hinton, whose parents had recently died, probably would have remained a servant on the Cole plantation if his half-brother and sister-in-law, Levin and Harriet Cole, had not brought him to their farmhouse nearby.

Born to John Jack Monk and a woman known only as “Mother Cole,” Hinton had been the property of Willis Cole, whose plantation just happened to be the site of the Battle of Bentonville.

Here, relatively safe from the political violence that plagued the Reconstruction-era South, Hinton learned to read and write. As mundane as this sounds, literacy was a tangible gain for a young black man born in bondage. Before emancipation, it had been forbidden under state law to teach a slave to read and write.

The end of the Civil War brought great turmoil to the South. For many whites, it was a catastrophe. Thousands of young men had

Hinton later married Sarah Ann Williams of Newton Grove between 1875 and 1877. They then settled down to work as sharecroppers,

With its passage, Hinton Cole, 13, was set free.

The younger Monk thus came from a family that understood the value of freedom, cherished its gains and longed for more. The family moved to New York City when Thelonious, Jr. was five years old and he started playing the piano soon after. Monk’s professional jazz career began in the 1940s, but it was not until the 1950s when many people began to take notice of him. This was largely because he was an innovator, using dissonance, silence and other unorthodox techniques that upset many critics. Monk was undeterred. He would become the great musician that his father could not be and he would do it by using the freedom that his grandfather had gained. At the end of his career, after writing around seventy pieces of jazz and winning over his audience, Thelonious Monk could bask in the glow of success. It had been a long road, and it all began in Bentonville Township, Johnston County. Benjamin Sanderford, a resident of Clayton, studied social science at UNC Greensboro. He can be reached at benwsanderford@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of Johnston County Heritage Center

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My mother-in-law, mom of seven children, special education teacher and polio survivor, taught me a phrase that continues to impact my life today. “Finish in style!”

I don’t recall what situation initially prompted that statement, but I think it’s great advice for everyone. Since this column is about clearing clutter and getting organized, you may wonder how “Finish in style” is relevant. Keep reading! Research shows — and I’ve confirmed it in the 40 years I’ve been in the organizing industry — that 80 percent of what we keep we never use. Furthermore, the more we have, the less we use — either because we don’t remember we have it, we can’t find it or it’s too difficult to access. There is also scientific evidence to support that losing clutter also facilitates a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that losing weight and getting organized are always on the “Top 10” list of New Year’s resolutions, so eliminating your clutter can be a “two for one” win. So why do so many people have an ongoing struggle with getting and staying organized? The biggest reason is too much stuff. While many of us want to make the last years of our lives great years, it’s difficult or impossible to do when you are burdened with stuff.

• I want to be responsible and respectful of the things I’ve been given. • I have to take care of other people and other things in my life first. • It’s hard to admit I have an issue. • I am afraid to let something go; I might want it back. The situation is further complicated in today’s world as we learn that our children have little or no interest in all the “stuff” we’ve accumulated in our lives. At a seminar I presented on downsizing in a retirement community, I suggested that people ask their children what specific items they would like to have. One gentleman replied, “The only thing my son wants is my wallet!” There were many knowing laughs. While you may think this is a new problem, I discovered in my research for my latest book, “Less Clutter More Life,” that it has been around a long time. In the King James Version of the Bible, in 1 Samuel, chapter 10, verse 22, Samuel is looking for Saul to appoint him king, but can’t find him. When he asks the Lord about it, we see this reply: “And the Lord answered, behold he hath hid himself among the stuff.” So what do you do with all that “stuff” that has accumulated? Here are three ways you can get started:

Begin creating and maintaining a list of agencies, organizations and even businesses that will take what you don’t need and recycle or repurpose it. For example, those towels that have been around forever, would be welcome at an animal shelter. Tear off the mailing labels of the magazines you’ve read, and drop them off in the doctor’s office the next time you go.

Identify a permanent place — clearly labeled — in your home where you can easily put things you don’t need or want anymore. If you have more than one floor, have a place on each floor.

Begin looking at your belongings to determine whether they really will help you “finish in style” by asking the question: “Does this help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” If the answer is, “not really,” it’s clutter, make it someone else’s blessing — and live happily ever after!

Barbara Hemphill lives in Johnston County and has appeared frequently in national media. For more information about living a healthy clutter-free life, visit productiveenvironmentnetwork.com or email barbara@barbarahemphill.com

What stops us from getting rid of the stuff so we can get organized and “finish in style?” Here’s a list of the reasons I’ve heard: • I never have enough time. • I have better things to do; organizing is boring. • It’s too difficult. • It never lasts; it is never good enough. • I often overthink the situation. • I didn’t create it; I have no idea what is even there. • I am easily distracted and go off on tangents. • I get stuck in the memories of the past. • It’s too emotionally draining.




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SMITHFIELD — The Town of Smithfield has hired Brian Eaves as its marketing and communications specialist. Eaves has nearly 20 years of experience in all facets of media, including audio, video, radio and social media. In this position, he will help to promote all of the things about the Town of Smithfield to both citizens and visitors.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Town of Smithfield as the marketing and communications specialist,” he said. “We have so much to offer — excellent schools, recreation, shopping, dining and more. What a fabulous place this is!” Eaves earned an associate degree in Business Administration from Johnston

Community College and bachelor's degree in Business Management and Human Resources from Barton College. He has been married to his wife, Andrea, for 18 years and has three children ages 7, 8 and 14. He is a member of Hocutt Baptist Church in Clayton.

13 JCC STUDENTS SELECTED FOR N.C. STATE'S C3 PROGRAM Submitted by Johnston Community College

through the C3 program. “The C3 dual admission program complements our Career and College Promise (CCP) program,” she said. “Almost 50 percent of the students selected by N.C. State had CCP credit. Several of the students received our new Stay the Course Scholarship which results in an affordable pathway to a bachelor’s degree.

Pictured from left with JCC’s mascot are Haley Evans, April Godwin, Jessica Creech, Adonis Kinsey, Angelina Greco, Travis Martin, Mary Lee Howell, Ahmad Musleh, LeAnn Biscoglio, Osmar Sanchez, Dawn Dixon, Sirus Forghani and Martha Harmening.

SMITHFIELD — Johnston Community College is pleased to announce its first group of dualenrolled students selected in N.C. State University’s Community College Collaboration (C3) program. C3 is intended for community college students from low-tomoderate income backgrounds with demonstrated potential for academic success who aspire to transfer to N.C. State after completing their associate degree. The program provides academic and program support for students during their time in community college and prepares them for


a successful transition to N.C. State and timely completion of a bachelor’s degree. C3 students have up to three years to complete their associate of arts, associate of science or associate of engineering degree at JCC. After completion of the degree and maintenance of a 3.0 or better GPA, program participants are guaranteed admission to N.C. State. Entry into specific majors may be more competitive. Dawn Dixon, dean of university studies and educational technologies at JCC, said JCC is excited to build and strengthen its partnership with N.C. State

“JCC is a nationally recognized community college for its organizational philosophy for student success. Our students continue to show above average performance as transfer students at senior institutions and outnumber other community college participants in total number of Goodnight Scholars selected to N.C. State. As an institution, we will continue to work diligently to ensure our students are ready for this new opportunity and for any and all opportunities that become available to them,” she added. Current JCC students selected for the inaugural C3 dual-enrolled program are: LeAnn Biscoglio of Clayton; Katelyn Brewer of Wendell; Jessica Creech of Clayton; Haley Evans of Selma; April Godwin of Kenly; Angelina Greco of Smithfield; Mary Lee Howell of Smithfield; Adonis Kinsey of Clayton; Kobie Langston of Dunn; Travis Martin of Clayton; Ahmad Musleh of

Dunn; Tracey Powe of Knightdale and Osmar Sanchez of Wilson. Howell, an associate in arts major at JCC, is ecstatic about her selection to C3. A Princeton High graduate, she plans to study communications media with hopes of becoming a reporter. “Being selected to the first group of C3 students from Johnston Community College meant the world to me,” she said. “I honestly cried when I opened that letter because this is a dream.” She added that attending JCC first after high school is preparing her to be a better student once she transfers. “It definitely saves a lot of money, and it gets you accustomed to the college feel and what they expect of you when you are at the university level,” she said. Martha Harmening, C3 program director, looks forward to watching the C3 program grow and develop at JCC. “It is refreshing to work alongside community college partners who are so passionate about what they do and the students they serve,” she said. “Thank you for your enthusiasm and dedication to C3 and the JCC students who we will serve together. I think JCC will really become a model for C3 success.”



SELMA — Johnston County Public Schools students, staff, parents and community members connected with local authors at the inaugural JOCO Reads event on Thursday, Dec. 6 at Selma Elementary. Featured authors included Smithfield resident Cornell Cox, Youngsville resident Kim Beall, Princeton resident Hope Toler Dougherty, Benson resident Shelby Stephenson, Cary resident Julia Day, Pine Level resident Evelyn Wool and Clayton resident Sherry Storrs. Authors who were scheduled to participate but were unable to attend included JCPS student Gabrielle Bryant, Jackie Dove-Miller and Donna Campbell Smith.

Local author Shelby Stephenson, left, talks with Pine Level Elementary student Wilmond Barnes and West Clayton Elementary Principal Paige Barnes at the JOCO Reads event.

JOCO Reads: “A Showcase of Local Authors” was an initiative by JCPS to allow the district’s stakeholders to hear from local artists on their journey in becoming published authors.

“It’s important for students to see that the things they’re learning in school can be applied to their lives,” said Nicole Mellott, JCPS Academic Innovation Coordinator. “We want them to know that even in small towns you can have big dreams.” Mellott moderated a panel among the authors where they answered questions about their careers and gave advice to guests on applying reading and writing to their lives. “I was so excited when I found out the school system was having this event,” said Wool. “I think it’s very important to get people excited about reading and to let them know about all of the resources available to them right here in Johnston County.” After the panel discussion, the dozens of guests had an opportunity to talk one-on-one with the authors and purchase copies of their signed books.


JOCO Junior Civitans stuffed stockings for Special Operations Civitan Club members at their meeting on Dec. 3. In total, 15 stockings were filled with Christmas goodies.

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A summer storm proves no match for a farm wedding By Sarah Lassiter

Photo by Megan Morales Photography

FOUR OAKS — Someone once said that anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain, and I know they must have been talking about our wedding day! Sam and I met in high school and what started out as a small fling quickly turned into forever. We were so young, but instantly became best friends. After high school we went to different colleges, but both were local so it was easy to maintain our relationship. In all honesty, we had both found someone with the same morals, values and love for home that we knew it was something special. Time passed and, shortly after college, Sam proposed. Most men don't have too much interest in the wedding details, and that was true for Sam too, but the one thing he did want was for our reception to be in his parents’ backyard on their family farm. To know how special this place was to him made it that much more special to me. The farmhouse and land have been in his family for such a long time and to share this time with


his extended family was so special. Deciding to have an outside wedding in June — in North Carolina — may not have been the smartest idea. Our backup plan was tents and burying a bottle of bourbon (to ward off the rain, of course). The week before our wedding there was an 80 percent chance of rain, so the tent plan went into full effect. Throughout the entire process, through all of the stress, we both reminded each other that as long as we get married and celebrate, everything else will fall into place. The day of our wedding had a beautiful forecast. The chance of rain had mostly dissipated and we were so excited to see all of our hard work (and our parents') come to fruition. I remember looking at my phone right before the ceremony began and smiling because rain was hardly on the radar anymore. Forty-five minutes later as we rushed into the house from the ceremony, we could see the clouds forming. Still optimistic and excited, we repeatedly reassured each other that the day would be perfect. We decided to do our first dance right

after introductions, so we promptly began once the reception started. A little over halfway into our first dance, our wedding planner handed us a clear umbrella, the crowd (mostly) retreated under the tents, and Sam and I danced our hearts away in the rain. It poured for about thirty minutes, but once the major downpour was over, we all got back on the dance floor and stayed there for most of the night, even through the rain. I think many people having an outside wedding would be tempted to let a thunderstorm ruin their day, but for Sam and I, it really brought out the best. Our closest friends and family enjoyed the close knit fellowship, and the wet dance floor made for some interesting moves; not to mention we felt no remorse when digging up our bourbon early! We would not have traded one second of that night for drier weather, because in reality the rain is what got the party started and made for the most memorable stories.

Two degrees of separation, almost By Randy Capps

MARION, S.C. — By the time you read this, your friendly neighborhood owners of Johnston Now will be close to celebrating 19 years of marriage. But, thanks to a thermostat, it almost wasn’t so. It was January 2000. The world had just survived Y2K, and on a Friday evening, we were getting ready to go to our rehearsal dinner. We had been living together for about a year and a half, and we were still learning how to live together. The thermostat was a frequent source of household tension. If you’ve ever walked through a greenhouse, you have an idea of where Shanna likes it to be set. On the other hand, my perfect room temperature would be well-suited for the hanging of meat. This is not ideal. Usually, we would just adjust it as we walked by, muttering under our breath. This, while unhealthy, allowed us to avoid open confrontation. On this night, under the pressure of a looming wedding that wasn’t at all going to plan, neither of us were in the mood to be subtle. I’m not sure, but I think I started it. Few things in this life annoy me more than being hot, so I imagine I vented a bit as I attempted to lower the temperature in the house. In fairness to my wife, it was only two degrees too high. That didn’t stop me from complaining bitterly, however. These days, Shanna now knows how to avoid arguments with me. She may have known then, too, but like I said earlier, tensions were high. So,

either she didn’t know or she didn’t care. Either way, the gloves came off. A heated discussion ensued. Starting with the thermostat, it spread to other sore spots in our relationship like wildfire until, finally, we decided that, if we couldn’t agree on a suitable room temperature, then we probably shouldn’t get married. Having reached that decision, we left for the rehearsal dinner. We figured we’d tell all of those folks in person. On the way there, we started dividing up duties. Who would make all of those phone calls to family, friends, the photographer, the caterer, our pastor and dozens of guests. It was a daunting prospect, and about five minutes into the 15-minute drive, we hadn’t come up with much of a plan. The only thing we agreed on that night was that it was going to be a ton of work to call off our wedding 20 hours before the fact. So, because we thought it would be too difficult not to, we decided to get married anyway. Readers will be pleased to learn that we have now established thermostat guidelines which are now only occasionally broken. We don’t argue about much any more, which is amazing considering the fact that we spend roughly 20 hours a day together. I’m thankful that she agreed to marry me in the first place, and that she still puts up with me after all of these years. I’m also grateful that we were both too lazy to cancel our wedding.

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Local venue saves the day for Florida couple

A twist on a shotgun wedding Submitted by Crystal Johnson

SELMA — For Madison and Nick Biancalana, a little Johnston County can-do spirit helped their big day come off without a hitch in September. “Rachel and Trent at The Farm at 42 practically saved our day,” she said. “Our wedding was right after Hurricane Florence hit the coast and our original wedding venue was flooded and canceled less than a week before our wedding date. “I immediately reached out to The Farm at 42 and they helped me re-plan our wedding in one day. The venue is beautiful, perfect for large or small weddings and has indoor and outdoor options for the ceremony — because you never know with the weather. “The staff is excellent at The Farm at 42 and I would recommend this venue to any bride.”

Wedding day was worth the wait for Clayton couple Submitted by Judith Duca

SMITHFIELD — You've heard of shotgun weddings. Michael and Crystal Johnson had one on Aug. 31, 2002, but not in the way one might expect. “That day was more than I could have asked for,” she said. “It was a holiday weekend, so a lot of our friends were out of town. But wouldn't you know it, God had other plans. “He let it rain so that some of the (would-be guests) could not ride horses, so all 200 people crowded in for our wedding (at Barbour's Chapel Church in Four Oaks). At the alter while giving me away, my Dad gave Michael a shotgun shell he had carved his name in seven years earlier. When it was time to take off the garter, my Dad came around the corner of the church with a shotgun! What a fun day!”

First impressions aren't always the best Submitted by Lauren McDade

FOUR OAKS — It wasn't love at first sight for Lauren McDade and her husband, Rory. Well, not for her, anyway. CLAYTON — Judith Duca and Robert VanNostrand started their journey together long before officially tying the knot in March 2012. “We have been dating and living together since 2003,” she said. “Two days after our divorces were final, we went to the courthouse with our children and two of our friends and made it legal. We don't get many alone nights as we have kids still at home — in addition to taking care of my cousin with special needs. “I would love a date night with the man who saved my life.”


“When we first met, I didn't like him,” she said. “I thought he was an awkward guy with no personality. It wasn't until I saw him again a year later that I started to rethink my initial impression of him. (As it turned out, he has a lot of personality — but he was just nervous and shy around me at first.) “On our wedding day, he was so nervous during the ceremony, that when I told him he looked nice in his wedding attire, he replied, 'ditto.' Way to sweep a girl off of her feet, buddy.”

Just a passing car...

A simple, perfect day

Submitted by Annette Byrd and Frank Stewart

Submitted by Gela Weaver

13 folks witnessing our marriage at the courthouse in the magistrate’s office in Smithfield, we married. The next day my “adopted parents” — my parents passed long ago — gave us a reception. After all those years of him making us late for stuff, I made us late. And he took the blame!

MEADOW — We saw one another as teenagers.Years later we became friends through mutual friends. We both were getting out of bad marriages, so we knew what we each were dealing with. He had no children, while I had three sons. In October 1990, we moved in together. After MANY years of asking me to marry him, I finally said yes! So, on a Friday the 13th in June of 2003, after 13 years of being together, and

On Dec. 26, 2016, I nearly lost him to an aortic aneurysm. After three major surgeries and 50 days at Duke Medical Center, he came home on the day before Valentine’s Day! It’s been a long and sometimes scary two years, but by God’s grace, he is still here and doing well. We’re celebrating 16 years of marriage next June and 29 years of being together next October! I never knew in my wildest dreams that the man cruising Benson, that slowed down to look at me with my then boyfriend, would someday be the love of my life and husband!

FOUR OAKS — Scotty and I married on April, 7, 2001, in a simple church wedding at Kenly Free Will Baptist Church. Our wedding was officiated by our pastor, James Joyner. The ceremony lasted about 45 minutes (I think). Afterwards, we had a reception in the church fellowship hall with hors d'oeuvres made by my five aunts. We left the church in Scotty's F150. That night, we joined my parents at Red Lobster for dinner before we headed off to our honeymoon in Breckenridge, Colo. It was simply perfect.

Let it snow, wedding style By Kim Lawter

Twas the night after Christmas, when all thro' the house

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.(Pastor Matt Evans)

All the creatures were stirring, even a mouse

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

The stockings were still hung by the chimney with care,

And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:

But St. Nicholas had already been there,

"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen, (Carey, Noah and Hanna)

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of snowfall danced in their heads And Mama in her ‘wedding’ outfit and I in my cap Had just just gotten up from our long winter's nap When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, We flew to the window to see what was the matter Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, 12 plus inches Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below; When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a wonderful site of snowfall and a sweet family of reindeer

I think you get the gist of the story. We woke up to 12-plus inches of snow on Dec. 26, 2010, and wondered what in the world we would do. It was our wedding day and the Clayton Center was closed and that was where we were to get married. All of our kids got together and came up with the idea to get married in the back yard. Our youngest said he would take care of everything. So he did. He dug a nice path for me to walk down and took his “boom box” outside and put it on a table. He swept away all of the snow from the picnic table and placed it beside our man-made altar. Pastor Matt made it there with a little trouble, but came just as we had asked — in his flip flops! The same way he dressed every Sunday at church. You see, God has a plan for us and nothing was going to stop it. And so we were married. We had the most beautiful decoration anyone could ever ask for. This year was our eighth wedding anniversary. We have already gotten snow, but who knows? We may just get lucky again.

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janu ary 2019 | 21

Three marriages and divorced for three hours Submitted by Terri Black and Ian Rumbles

their relationship developed. On Nov. 11, 2009, they got married in a Steampunk wedding in Second Life. This was their first wedding. During the next three years, Terri and Ian met more frequently on the weekends in Canton, less frequently in Rivet but more often through Skype and on the phone. It was during one of the weekend visits, that Terri gave Ian a gold ring with a chain so he could carry her love close to his heart. In early Dec. 2012, Terri suffered a mild heart attack. It was this event that made Ian realize that he needed to give up his six-figure job that he loved, and move to Canton, as he loved Terri more. So, on Dec.12, 2012, Ian moved to Canton. The following day, Terri had a heart operation that put three stents in her clogged vessels. In order to stay in the United States, Ian needed to get a green card, which meant that they needed to get married as soon as possible. Ian’s divorce had been finalized a few months earlier, while Terri was still working on hers.

CLAYTON — In 2008, the internet program Second Life was popular. It allowed an avatar to roam around a virtual world where people could create whatever their minds could imagine. One of the popular areas, was a place called Rivet, built in the genre called Steampunk, inspired by the works of Jules Verne. There, the avatar of Ian Rumbles (Sanderson Winkler) operated a bar called the IronHead and one of the waitresses was the avatar of Terri Black (Brie Felisimo).

On Jan. 16, 2013, Terri went to court to get her divorce finalized. Mike, her soon to be ex-husband, had always been a good friend and continues to be. So, while it seems unusual, Mike, Terri and Ian all went together to the divorce hearing and went out for breakfast together afterwards. On the same day as Terri’s divorce, they looked around to find a place where they could plan a wedding. The first place they went to was quaint wedding chapel, where the owner was an ordained minister.

On May 19, 2008, when they first met, Ian and Terri were separated from their respective spouses and they played Second Life for entertainment.

While making arrangements, Terri asked the minister if they could get married right then, to get the green card process underway. The minister said sure, so they got married for the second time in that little church.

Over a year, they played the game, running a successful bar, touring Rivet in an airship, fighting vampires, hosting a Nikola Tesla festival, solving murders and many other adventures.

They realized later that day that Terri had been divorced a total of three hours.

As a married couple they planned their third ® Dream Better Herewedding, held on Feb. 23, 2013, for friends and family. Six months later, Terri and Ian moved to Clayton, ® after Ian took a job with Dairy Records Management Systems, a division of N.C. Dream Better Here State University.

During their time online, Ian and Terri got to know the person behind the avatar and learned that in real life Ian lived in Canada and Terri lived six hours away in Canton, Ohio. On Jan. 9, 2009, they met for the first time. They discovered that their avatars did not look like the real person, but the person inside was very much like the one they knew, funny, clever, creative, and full of love. Over the following months, in Second Life and in the real world,


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Keeping it simple and beautiful

Finding love in Buies Creek

Submitted by Debra Hope

Submitted by Sarah Coates

CLAYTON — For two simple people who loved deeply, there were only a few things that influenced how we decided to tie the knot. It needed to be personal and reflect the love we have for outdoors and our newly formed family. With those things in mind, it was an easy decision to forgo the big ceremony and elope beach-side with my son walking me down the aisle and my dad officiating. It was a wedding planned in a week that I know will last a lifetime. Debra and Tim Hope were married at Anna Maria Island, Fla., on July 22, 2014, and reside in Clayton.

A special wedding day with a Latin flair Submitted by Gemma Mora

FOUR OAKS — A Four Oaks couple, Gemma Yurith Mora and Alejandro Reyes Huerta, had an unforgettable wedding day recently at Barclay Villa in Angier. “It was a magical day,” she said. “Almost like a fairy tale. We made (Barclay Villa) our own and had the ceremony there. The reception followed. “We also included many Mexican traditions to our dream wedding. We had a DJ from Wasxhington, D.C., come and play amazing music. We also had a Mexican band come in as a special surprise for the groom. The bride also sang a song to the groom and it was complete magic.”

The Pond at Lazy O Farm is nestled in the countryside of Johnston County, just outside Smithfield. It is the perfect location for any event, from weddings and fundraisers to family reunions and corporate retreats as well as birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, tea parties and more! Is this the perfect venue for you? Come take a tour!

BENSON — Bradley and I met at Campbell University, where he played baseball and I was an Academic Advisor for the Student Athletes. I used to schedule his classes, and I also coached the cheerleading team. My team practiced in the baseball hitting facility and he conveniently had to practice his hitting most nights we were practicing. He used to flirt with me all the time, and although I was just out of undergrad and only a couple years older, I refused to date him until he was “legal.” The night of his Senior Athletic Banquet, I told him he could call me and we went out on our first date. The rest is history. We celebrated 15 years on Dec. 6. We have two daughters, two dogs and reside in Benson.

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Making something beautiful in the wake of Hurricane Florence Submitted by Jordan Whitley

PINE LEVEL — Wil and I are both from Johnston County, he grew up in Smithfield and I grew up in Micro. Now, we live together in Pine Level. Our big day took place on October 6 of this year in Atlantic Beach, just three weeks after Hurricane Florence hit! The week the hurricane hit we were so worried, not only for our wedding venue, but for our family's home in Atlantic Beach and for the entire community in the wake of this deadly storm. Thankfully, our home was spared from excessive damage, but unfortunately some of our friends were not. The Celebration Cottage, our wedding venue, only had minor damage and although our wedding planner lost her home she went above and beyond to make our day perfect! Fast forward three weeks to the wedding weekend, the Town of Atlantic Beach was continuing clean up efforts and moving forward. The road leading to the venue was full of piles of trash from people who had to gut their homes, however the venue itself

was absolutely perfect. Local restaurants, hotels and other businesses were closed indefinitely, but the ones that were open went above and beyond to accommodate all of our guests. The day of the wedding was everything I wanted it to be. Although it was cloudy and rainy in the morning, by the 5 p.m. ceremony the sun was shining! All of our family and friends traveled from Johnston County to be there for our special day, we said our I-Do's and danced the night away to one of the best bands! Leading up to the wedding I almost felt selfish for being so worried about our venue during and after the hurricane when there were people who had lost everything. Now when we think about our wedding we think about the hurricane, but not how it almost ruined our big day. Instead, we think about people that showed us the true definition of resilience, kindness and willingness to restore the community. It truly was perfect in every way!

No time machine needed for Willow Springs woman Submitted by Crystal Pittman

Movies with a time travel element often lead to thoughts of the future. For Crystal Pittman, watching such a movie sparked a prediction of her wedding day. “In 1989, at age 9, when my favorite movie “Back to the Future 2” (BTOF) premiered, I predicted by 10/21/15, I would be married,” she said. “When I got engaged in 2015, I fulfilled my prediction. BTOF day was a weekday so I settled for 10/24/15. “We got married in the morning at 10 a.m. The wedding party had to get up at 5 a.m. to get ready, but everything was perfect. Beautiful view on the pier, beautiful cake — modified by sister after the bakery made a mistake — and reception. My husband and I were so happy that day.” Crystal and her husband, Phillip, were married at Oceanic Restaurant's Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach.

janu ary 2019 | 25

When 'nah, I'm good' sums up the perfect wedding day Submitted by Leah Johnson

CLAYTON — In my husband, I met my match. He's got just enough fight in him to keep things interesting, but lets me get my way enough to keep me happy.

there stood Wesley, Craig Olive and me — Wesley and I awkwardly holding both hands while standing across from each other, repeating the run of the mill vows.

We've never been a complicated pair. No games, we both say exactly what's on our mind, to a fault. It's no surprise then that when he "proposed," we were sitting up in bed watching TV on a Wednesday night when he looked over and asked, "so what are you doing Friday? Want to get married?"

When Wesley was asked if he'd like to add anything else, you could tell he felt as awkward as I did and gave a quick "nah, I'm good."

I honestly almost thought he was joking, but gave him a sincere "sure." I've always appreciated how straightforward he is, always cutting straight to the chase and bypassing all the "fluff" that tends to end up stressing you out. Friday came quickly. He had taken off work that day so he could have his last hurrah with the boys, and I worked my typical half-Friday. I arrived at the (Johnston County) courthouse on time, and he arrived 15 minutes late, unknowingly setting a precedent for the remainder of our marriage. His best friend and brother served as the witnesses, but if you know anything about me, you know I get nervous about big things like getting married. So when it came time to say the vows, I kicked them out. So

You might be cringing and thinking to yourself "man, cold" but I assure you that I could sympathize with his nervousness. When it was my turn to add a word or two, I said the first thing that came to mind: "Thanks for being my baby daddy." I cringe even now, but also laugh. It served its purpose, it cut the tension. We relaxed and headed over to Zack's Char-Grill for a post-nuptial meal. Our wedding day isn't anyone else idea of the perfect day, but it represented us to a T. Five years later, we're still no good at mushy words, but somehow are exceptionally good at communicating. Like I said in the beginning, he's my match, and I wouldn't have started our life together any other way.

Wedding in a Winter Wonderland By Kate Barefoot Hardee

All little girls dream of having the perfect wedding. That dream came true for me on Dec. 1 as I said “I Do” to my Prince Charming, Jamie, in a Winter Wonderland wedding setting surrounded by our families and closest friends. I had waited what seemed like a lifetime — I mean 10 years is a really long time — to get to marry my best friend, but the wait was more than worth all the waiting, planning and preparing that made our wedding day more perfect than we ever imagined it could be. We spent much of the week leading up to our big day praying for clear skies and mild temperatures so that our guests would not freeze during our outdoor ceremony. Sometimes though, some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. Our wedding day was chilly and very wet, but as rain poured from the sky we knew in our hearts that our day was not meant to be clear and sunny. Those raindrops were tears of joy from heaven reminding us that we are loved more than we know by those with the best seats possible for our vows. The Barn at Broadslab was transformed into a Winter Wonderland with twinkling lights and snow-frosted Christmas trees. Candles lit the room and brought the silver sequin table toppers to life. Flowers in shades of white, blush, green and cranberry adorned the tables


and mantle, adding a beautiful and elegant touch. Our wedding party spent the entire day getting ready with us adding to magic of it all. As the rain continued to fall and it became apparent that our outdoor ceremony was just not meant to be, our tribe jumped in and moved all of the chairs and decorations to the inside of the Barn. Three hundred chairs were dried and a massive arbor complete with amazing floral arrangements was moved and ready for an indoor ceremony in only about 45 minutes. The ceremony was more intimate and beautiful than I could have ever imagined and in the moment that we were pronounced husband and wife, I knew that this was the way it was meant to be. The magic continued until nearly midnight as we celebrated with an even more magical reception. The Amanda Daughtry Band made sure that we, along with our guests, had an amazing night of fun, making memories to last us the rest of our lives. There was dinner, dancing and traditional bouquet and garter tosses before our guests showered us with snow as we said our goodbyes and made our exit — not in a “one horse open sleigh,” but in a magical, beautiful and perfect horse-drawn carriage. It was the perfect ending to a fairy tale perfect day that was just the beginning of our “happily ever after.”

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Hurricane Hugo's late shift helped a local wedding come off without a hitch Submitted by Martha Stovall

CLAYTON — All the plans were made for Bill and Martha's wedding in Sept. 1989. They had flowers, food, hotel, invitations — everything down to the last detail for the perfect wedding day. The bride’s mother was not only the Home Economics teacher at the local high school, but also a wedding planner and director; and this was her only daughter’s wedding day! She made a list, double and triple checked with the musicians and the photographer, and lectured the bridal party on proper wedding protocol. The wedding week came and she was so excited to see her only daughter wed in her local community church! But then, just days before the ceremony, the unexpected happened.

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Hurricane Hugo formed in the Atlantic. Hugo rapidly strengthened into a Category 5 storm and was headed directly for the area. Four days before the wedding, Hugo was still a Category 4 storm, and the bride’s mother was beyond distressed! She had lived through Hazel in1954 and knew the damage that was coming. How could we have a wedding with no power, she wondered? Would the guests come? Would the church sustain damage? The questions were endless. On Thursday, Sept. 21, two days before the wedding, Hugo made the ultimate turn that saved the special day! Charleston, S.C., took a direct hit on the Friday before the wedding and Eastern N.C. got rain and wind, but was spared

from the worst of the storm. On Saturday, Sept. 23, bands of rain continued to push through, but by God’s grace, Smith Chapel United Methodist Church in Mount Olive had power, the food was delicious, the flowers were beautiful and all the guests had arrived, with only a few being late after getting stuck over at Mule Days! There was a beautiful wedding and reception thanks to the bride’s mother and her attention to every detail. Now, 29 years later, Bill and Martha Stovall have a great story to tell about the frightful, harrowing days that led up to their wedding day. Perhaps overcoming obstacles prior to the wedding taught them a valuable lesson in faith and perseverance.

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South Johnston puts an innovative spin on learninG By Randy Capps

available to South Johnston students, an effort, according to South Johnston principal Dr. David Pearce, to put learning at the center of the student experience. “Can we develop a learning model that reaches students where they are so they can choose how they want to learn,” he said. “Give them true voice and choice. … One of the whole premises of this is how do we flip the script on the culture and climate of learning. Truly, instead of you're punished and you have to come to school, now, if you do what you're supposed to do, you can not be here on days. Or, you can come back and get more individualized instruction.” Students have the opportunity to get a taste of online-based classes — like the ones they'll see in college — as well as earning college credit through partnerships with the University of Mount Olive and Johnston Community College. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

FOUR OAKS — On an ordinary Thursday morning, children in schools all over Johnston County were busy getting the lessons of the day. The same was true at South Johnston High School, too. But at about 9:15 in a secondfloor classroom, junior Esther Gonzalez was standing in front of a group of her peers, teachers and some invited guests giving a presentation about building a well in a village in Uganda. This cause, in addition to being well intentioned and forward thinking, was also part of her grade. Gonzalez's project was part of her LTI (Learning Through Interest) Academy grade for the first semester. The LTI Academy is just one of the non-traditional programs

“We stole it,” Pearce said of the idea. “I wouldn't say it totally came from there, but we all had a chance to visit a high school, Central York High School in Pennsylvania. There was a small group of us that went up there to see it, based on an article that we had read about some of their customized mass learning approaches. “So we took some of those bits and pieces, but in meeting with the principal, one of the things they told me that just blew my mind was instead of looking at ways to motivate kids who don't want to be there, look at ways to motivate them so that when they're there, they can find ways to do the right things so they don't have to be there.” While many students avail themselves of the chance to spend less time on campus, there's still plenty of support available for those who need it. “Every kid has access to a teacher,” assistant principal Cecelia Banks said. “And the beauty of it is that you've always got three of us at any given time. We keep running logs of progression and non-progression. It's

amazing to see these kids start taking heed. When I send an email, they're like, 'wait a minute Mrs. Banks, I'm already caught up.' Or, 'I'm only one unit behind, what do I need to do?' So, there's always a dialogue going with the blended online (classes). To see it in motion is phenomenal.” Ninety percent of the classes at the school allow students the choice of at least one of the Mass Customized Learning Opportunities. More than a few of them are taking advantage. Here are a few of their options: Project Based Learning (PBL) PBL is a program in which “learners will demonstrate mastery through the use of projects/problems to gain the required skills and content.” “I like having a teacher all the time in front of me,” junior Calli Jon Massengill said. “I like coming to school all the time. I know some kids don't, but that's just my preference. I like Project Based Learning specifically because it gets away from boring lectures and leads us to more engaging real world projects. “In my English class, we did a mental health presentation. We're learning about researching, and instead of a boring topic that none of us care about, (we studied) something that we all need to know about and something that we're not aware of. It was nice for all of us to bring something to the table and research something that we all care about.” Another example of a PBL unit was Christopher Aycock helping his class use geometric transformations to do animations, like the ones found in Pixar movies. “That's how a PBL unit starts,” he said. “With a driving question that's investigated. It's a very inquiry-driven kind of project. … Another element of it is having an authentic audience. So I judged the Hispanic Heritage Month projects that the Spanish teachers helped put together.

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date, but if you have something very important in another class, you can work on that. Regardless of what other work you have to do, you'll always be able to get it done and still learn like you would in a regular classroom.” It's not accident that this model mirrors the college experience. “I do think our kids are more prepared for college,” counselor Tabitha Ward said. “Before we started doing this, we had kids that were taking some online stuff. But is wasn't to the magnitude that we're doing now. Every time kids came back and talked about their college experience, it was 'I was not prepared for online (classes).' In a couple of years, when these kids come back, we'll get a different experience.” “We call it a blended online class, because she does have access to a teacher if she needs it,” Dr. Pearce said. “If she wants to come sit in a class and get instruction, she can have that option to do so. The other thing is that, the model Jenna's in, there are no snow days. There are no hurricane days. Every day is on, education-wise. When she started the course, she can choose to finish it in a couple of weeks, or she can wait until the deadline. “We've seen this model grow. This is a model for those students who have a lot going on in their lives and they're trying to multitask.” IDEAL Academy “I was formerly an engineer, so a lot of this helps me see how I can apply the math and science to the real world and get students to appreciate how it is applied. To get them to see the relevance to the math that they're learning — or any content area.” Hybrid The Hybrid program allows “learners to move through the course at their optimal learning pace while receiving timely instruction from their teacher. Hybrid courses will have scheduled in and out of the classroom times with the teacher being available to the learners each day.” “It's beneficial to me as a student because it allows me to work at my own pace,” sophomore Rachel Petersen said. “It gives me the chance to advance in the areas that I'm better at, personally, and it also gives me the opportunity to seek help in the areas that I'm not quite as advanced in.” In hybrid courses for Math and Science, three days are mandatory while the other two aren't. “I'm available all five days as a teacher,” Matthew Adams said. “So as long as you're up to speed with what you're doing and you have a high enough grade, you have the option to not be here on the optional days. “I think it's been cool to see the students learn about themselves to see what they prefer. What works for them or what doesn't. … I think that's as big of a success for me as them getting the choice. They're learning about themselves, and the teachers learn how they


prefer to learn. “I was one of the beginners in the math and hybrid, and I'm now a senior,” Sydnii Robinson said. “It was better in a way, because I'm not like Calli Jon. I don't want to come to school every day. That was a plus to me. Math is challenging to me, and Mr. Adams was always available on non-mandatory days. I felt like it was better, because we don't have to come everyday, but he's still there willing to help. “He was almost amped. Like, 'come on a nonmandatory day and we can get some work done.' Not a lot of people show up on those non-mandatory days, so it does give you that one-on-one time. And he is excited to help you in any way, so that's a plus.” Blended/Online In the Blended/Online program, “learners will be offered blended/online courses that mirror the courses provided in the traditional class course. These courses will be facilitated through face to face-to-face (learning) and Connexus (a online learning management system).” “It's very accommodating to my schedule,” junior Jenna Roberts said. “I take a JCC class at Princeton on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which if I didn't have (it online), I'd have to leave classes here early and get back late. I'd have to miss class time here, which would stress me out in both aspects of the classes. “It's very flexible. You have set dates, and you're expected to get your work done by that

The IDEAL Academy, or the Institute for the Development of Environmental and Agricultural Leadership, is a program in which “learners will have the opportunity to obtain a two-year associate of science degree” while still in high school. “Most of students come into IDEAL because they have a passion, or even a small spark of interest, in something related to agriculture,” Candace Parker, a teacher in the program, said. “Whether its animals, plants, natural resources or ag mechanics. So, we take that interest and capitalize on it by combining their core classes that they're not as interested in and making that information relevant to what they're interested in.” The program features a livestock learning facility on campus, in addition to greenhouses, an agricultural mechanic shop, a working pet salon and an egg selling business — all of which allows students to develop some real world skills. “I like IDEAL because, coming into it, I wanted to be a vet,” sophomore Madison Barnes said. “But I don't really like coming to school, and learning how many years you had to go to school to be a vet, and everything you had to do, I was kind of like, 'I'm just going to let that one go.' So, now I'm looking into other opportunities with animal science.” “I like the way the classes blend,” sophomore Katie King added. “I like how you can be taking animal science and still be taking English. … I've made better grades because of it.” For example, to be a part of the egg business,

students have to apply for jobs. That naturally includes resumes, cover letters and interview skills. Learning Through Interest The LTI Academy is a program in which “learners will be served by one adviser for the year. Each student will develop an individualized education plan based on their interest.” The main feature of LTI is that, twice a week, students are out in the community doing internships. “Students demonstrate their learning through exhibition,” Anna Roley said. “Twice a semester, they do an exhibition on a project that they're working on that adds value to their internship site or the community.” When she's not considering how to bring more clean water to Africa, Gonzalez interns with the Benson Chamber of Commerce, where she helped with Mule Days planning as well as designing posters for other events. She balances her internship with hybrid classes, and according to Roley, she's maximizing her educational experience with these programs. “She would be getting straight A's in whatever classes she was taking,” she said. “She's just that kind of student. She is learning so much more by taking a hybrid Math and a hybrid Biology that gives her the flexibility to do an internship. She's creating a project, she's in the business world. She's learning so much more than she would just sitting in four classes, face-to-face, every day.” It's not a traditional educational concept, but it seems to be working at South.

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“These models put forth an education where students are truly at the center of the learning,” Dr. Pearce said. “It's tailored to each student’s individual needs and each student is recognized for his or her successes. When all of a sudden the stuff goes away and the learning becomes the constant, man, that's Equal Opportunity Employer/Program why I (got into) this business. The relationships, of course, but when students are excited about learning something and understanding that they are in control of their destiny, that's why we do it.”

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Add your organization’s events to the community calendar at JohnstonNow.com or email us at calendar@JohnstonNow.com. For the full community calendar with hundreds of area events, visit JohnstonNow.com. NAMI support groups The Johnston County Affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers weekly support groups for those suffering from mental illness (Connection) as well as their loved ones and friends (Family Support). Regular meetings are now held in Benson, Clayton, Selma and Smithfield. For more information, please either call NAMI Johnston County at 919-464-3572; email at namijcnc@gmail. com or visit www.namijcnc.net. Every Monday, 6-8 p.m. and Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Angels on a Mission Food Pantry Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, 9856 Hwy 210, Four Oaks This organization helps feed families in need in Johnston County. It is also in need of volunteers. For more information, contact John Jernigan at 919-320-7387. Every Monday and Thursday Senior Adult Activity Center First Baptist Church Ministry Center, Smithfield Serving men and women 60 years and over, ARC provides a structured program with stimulating activities, socialization, a snack and lunch. For more information, contact Barbara Smith at 919-934-9771 or email arc@fbcsmithfield.org. Third Monday, 6-7:30 p.m. Kiwanis Club of Clayton, N.C. Cleveland Draft House, U.S. 70 Business The Kiwanis Club of Clayton, N.C., 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@gmail.com or call 805-377-9573. Every Tuesday, 7 a.m. Cleveland School Rotary Club Cleveland Draft House, Garner Cleveland School Rotary Club meets weekly and serves the citizens of the 40/42 area of Johnston County and Garner.


First and third Tuesdays, Noon Clayton Rotary Mid-day Club Cleveland Draft House, Clayton This small group of service-minded individuals is very dedicated to community betterment in Clayton and Johnston County. Second Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. Johnston County Chapter of National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees Golden Corral, Smithfield Join the Johnston County Chapter of National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees for their monthly meeting on the second Wednesday of each month at Golden Corral. Stay up to date on the latest educational programs and federal and state legislation affecting current federal employees and retirees. To learn more, email bhwoodard25@aol.com. Third Tuesday 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. Third Tuesday Johnston County African-American Caucus meeting Smithfield The Johnston County AfricanAmerican Caucus meets every third Tuesday of the month at 17 Noble St in Smithfield at Dr. Gettys Cohen Jr.s office. For additional information, email dwcsw610@yahoo.com. Every Wednesday, 10 a.m. Bible Study with Cats Kosmic Kittens Cat Lounge Come out for a casual, cat-filled, study of God’s word in fellowship and take a dive into scripture. Weekly topics will be based on the group’s discussion. Coffee provided. Call 919-337-5345 for more details.

Every Thursday, 6:45 a.m. Clayton Rotary Morning Club Rainbow Lanes, Clayton 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 hourlong meeting starts sharply at 7 a.m. Every Thursday, 8-10 a.m. Plant a Row for the Hungry - Johnston County JCC Arboretum Volunteers plan and take care of vegetable gardens and an orchard year round, and all of the harvest is donated to local soup kitchens and food pantries. No previous gardening experience is required and training is provided. Adults welcome, and anyone under 16 must be accompanied by a parent. For more information, please contact Tiffany at plantarow@yahoo.com. Every Thursday, 12 p.m. Central Johnston County Rotary Club The Central Johnston County Rotary Club meets every Thursday for lunch at the Johnston Medical Mall and serves the Smithfield and Selma areas. Every Thursday, 6:15 p.m. Clayton Area Toastmasters meetings JCC Workforce Development Center, Clayton Clayton Area Toastmasters is a public speaking club in affiliation with Toastmasters International. For more, visit claytontm.com. Every Third Friday, 6-9 p.m. Free Carriage Rides Downtown Smithfield The Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation hosts free carriage rides, starting on the corner of Third and Market, around the beautiful, historic downtown area each month. Have dinner and drinks at locally owned restaurants, catch a movie at the Howell Theatre and enjoy some small town charm! First Friday of the month, 7:30-9 a.m. Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Member Breakfast Triple Barrel Tavern, Garner Join the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce for its free member breakfast each month. Contact the chamber at 919-773-8448 for more information.

Third Friday Clayton Area Parkinson’s Group All people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers are invited 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 retiredones@earthlink.net.

Friday, Jan. 4, 6 p.m. Benson’s First Friday Visit Downtown Benson for its monthly First Friday event. Participating shops will remain open until 9 p.m. Some shops will offer light refreshments (i.e: wine, beer, etc.) DIY projects, crafts or an exclusive First Friday sale. There will also be a food truck set up in Benton Square.

Fourth Friday of the month, 7-9 p.m. Open Mic Night Kosmic Kittens Cat Lounge, Selma Check out amateur open mic night at the lounge. Come practice your skills, test out new or old material, or just wing it and have a great time. For more information, call 919-337-5345.

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 10 a.m. Howell Woods Property Tour Howell Woods, Four Oaks Find out where the map will take you on this guided riding tour. They will take you around their most popular camp sites, check out the Neuse River platform and maybe cross paths with some wild animals! Dress appropriately for the weather. Sunscreen and bug spray are encouraged. Cost is $5 per person. For more information, call the Learning Center at 919-938-0115 or email jtastoske@johnstoncc.edu.

Last Friday of the month Free carriage rides, Clayton Enjoy free carriage rides in downtown Clayton. Every last Friday, there will be free horse-drawn carriage rides. Come out and explore the downtown Clayton area and go for a nice ride with Southern Charm Carriages. For more details, call 919-946-0924.

Saturday, Jan. 12, 7 a.m. Four Oaks American Legion Breakfast Highway 55 Restaurant, Four Oaks The Four Oaks American Legion is

sponsoring a pancake, bacon and sausage breakfast at Highway 55 in Four Oaks on Jan. 12. It’s $5 per plate, and tickets will be sold at the door. Saturday, Jan. 12, 7:30 a.m. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast Johnston County Agricultural Center, Smithfield The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, sponsored by the Johnston County Chapter of the NAACP, is set for Jan. 12. The guest speaker is Rep. Robert Relves II, and tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for kids 11 and under. For more information, call Shirley Cohen at 919-934-0339. Saturday, Jan. 12, 9 a.m. Milltown Java Jog Milltown Java, Princeton Milltown Java and the Princeton High School Booster club are hosting a 5K in hopes of sharing their love for running and healthy lifestyles. After the race, a free breakfast for all participants will be served. All proceeds will be donated to the Princeton High School Booster club. For more information, email javajog5k@gmail.com.

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Saturday, Jan. 12, 7 p.m. Gaylon Pope and SweetWater Band Rudy Theatre, Selma Check out Gaylon Pope and SweetWater Band, live at the Rudy. For tickets, visit rudytheatre.com. Monday, Jan. 14, 2 p.m. Guided Nature Hike Howell Woods, Four Oaks Become a natural resource scientist for the day by joining Howell Woods staff members and explore the many natural communities on the property. During this free hike, you can search for and discuss wildlife species and habitats and identify many of the unique plants found. For more information, call the Learning Center at 919-938-0115 or email jtastoske@johnstoncc.edu. Saturday, Jan. 19, 10 a.m. Selma’s 3rd Annual Polar Bear Run 5K Don’t miss the third-annual Polar Bear Run 5K through Uptown Selma. Registration is on the day of the event at the corner of Webb and Waddell Streets. Cost is $10 per runner and pets are free of charge. Call 919-965-9841, ext. 8003, for more details.

Saturday, Jan. 19, 6 p.m. Miss Johnston County 2019 Cleveland High School For more details on this year’s event, visit missjohnstoncounty.org. Saturday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m. Beetlesque Rudy Theatre, Selma Check out Beetlesque, a Beetles trubute band, live at the Rudy. For tickets, visit rudytheatre.com. Sunday, Jan. 27, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 2019 Bridal Expo The Farm at 42, Selma There will be several vendors from the wedding industry, including photographers, videographers, caterers, bakeries, florists, DJ’s, travel agents and more. There will also be tours of the venue throughout the day. Advanced tickets are $7 per person and tickets at the door will be $10 (cash only). Children 12 and under are free! Advanced tickets can be purchased at: etix.com/ticket/p/7011634/2019-bridalexpo-on-the-farm-at-42-selma-thefarm-at-42.

Thursday, Jan. 31, 5:30 p.m. Art Past and Present exhibit Frank Creech Art Gallery STEAM Building, Johnston Community College The latest exhibit features the art of Kathy Nobles and Doug Strickland. This reception will be hosted by the Johnston County Arts Council. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served, and the event is free and open to the public. This exhibit will run through Feb. 24, and gallery hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 2019 Clayton Wedding Expo The Clayton Center This free event will host up to 30 vendors and provide the perfect atmosphere for couples to meet and chat with local wedding service providers. You can also take advantage of great giveaways and gather some wonderful ideas to help you complete your wedding planning. Preregistration is not required for the Clayton Wedding Expo, but it is recommended. The first 100 pre-registered brides will receive a free gift bag when they check in for the expo. Pre-register for the expo at bit.ly/2B5g0cE.

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