March 2019

Page 1

March 2019 | Your Community. Your Neighbors. Your Story.

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ON THE COVER Norwood and Sandra Thompson welcomed us into their home to learn more about the story behind Portofino. Photo by Carly Fogleman Photography


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Volume 3, Number 4

A Shandy Communications, LLC publication

Publisher Randy Capps

General Manager

Shanna Capps

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Advertising Consultants Gordon Becton, Jess Barbour and Katie Crowder Advertising Manager Irene Brooks Senior Graphic Designer Tuesdaie Williams Graphic Designer Ali Kabrich Editorial Consultants Mike Bollinger and Rebecca J. Blair Interested in advertising? Send an email to or call 919-980-5522

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919-980-5522 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.























It’s hard to resist a cute little face I didn’t want another dog.

first sight, but she was immediately smitten. She sent me a series We’ve had Abby for about 12 years, and while she’s a cherished member of of texts with pictures our family, her disregard for the sanctity of him and a running of my carpet has lessened my desire for commentary on his overall cuteness. canine companionship. So, I didn’t want another dog. That was all well and good, until we met Van Gogh. Van Gogh is well named, since after being born to a backyard breeder, his mother decided to chew off one of his ears. He was turned into a shelter at 14 weeks old, where he was found by Sound Pet Animal Rescue. Shanna’s mom is on the board of that rescue, so Van Gogh wound up as a foster at her house. And that’s where he met Shanna.

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Pictured are, from left to right, June Raynor, Glen Lee, Joan Pritchett, Jackie Parrish, Ron Sloan, Jim Best and Tim Barbour. Carly Fogleman Photography.

FOUR OAKS — The Four Oaks Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Member Appreciation Dinner recently at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.

Washing and Austin Fowler of Keene & Associates Insurance Agency were introduced as new board members. A special recognition award went to Jackie Parrish.

Participants were treated to dinner provided by Barefoot’s Country Store and Catering as well as an opportunity to network with their fellow business community.

“Jackie Parish is not only the oldest member of the Four Oaks Chamber of Commerce, but she is also an original member,” Executive Director Joan Pritchett said when announcing the award. “Tonight’s theme is 'Four Oaks Proud.' Jackie Parrish comes to mind when you think of someone who does so much for Four Oaks. She makes us proud!”

The chamber recognized United Community Bank for their contributions as Title Sponsor for 2018 and for all they continue to do for the local business community. Jim Best, June Raynor and Carly Fogleman were recognized for their leadership on the Four Oaks Chamber Board, having retired from their positions in 2018. Brian Stewart of KS Bank, Jason Creech of Home2Office Pressure

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The Four Oaks Chamber ambassador program was also introduced. Currently the ambassadors include Amber England of Tired Iron Classics, Irene Brooks of Johnston Now and Jim Best. The program is open to accepting more ambassadors. A slide show including a sampling of pictures from all the 2018 events and programs ended the night’s festivities.

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When you think of Johnston County, you don’t always think of its great music scene. But there are quite a few hidden gems here. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of them, contemporary Christian artist Andrew Kurtz, to get to know him and what makes his music worth listening to. A country boy with gospel roots, you can find Andrew in quiet moments between practices jotting down lyrics in his brown leather journal. He spent his younger days in Pennsylvania Amish country, where he developed a love for music, agriculture and horses — things he still has a passion for today. He moved to Johnston County with his family when he was about 15. When asked, he said the one thing he loves about Johnston County is that people are so welcoming. He added that they don’t just welcome you to be hospitable, but that there is a genuine sincerity behind it.

we should at least understand how different the rest of the world lives than we do. I didn’t. I took that for granted. “Going to Haiti I saw people living in these horrible conditions. Their drinking water was essentially sewage. They lived in shacks that were made of scrap metal, like my childhood forts. And that was their home. “I went to church with them and these same people, they sang this beautiful song to the Lord and they were so excited. They worshipped with total abandon. They didn’t care who was watching. They didn’t care what their surroundings were. They didn’t care what their environment was. I realized God is here. God is everywhere. It may look different, but He is always good.” When asked about a trait that he loves, he referenced his quirky sense of humor that often no one gets but him. His least favorite trait: his insecurities. “I don’t like that I can be insecure about things,” he said. “So, I need all the more to depend on God for confidence.” The thing that he wishes everyone knew about him: “I really want to encourage people. I really want people to know how much God loves them.” You wouldn’t know it by talking with him now, but in a recent podcast from “The Forged,” Andrew spoke about a time when he sat alone on the bus and was bullied. When I asked how he got through that challenging period and if he had any advice for others, he said that even with his upcoming EP “Mile After Mile,” there were times in writing it that he was depressed.

He recalls how when they first moved into his neighborhood, people brought cookies and brownies and they got to know everyone around them. That was different from his home in Pennsylvania and that you don’t often find anywhere else. Playing the piano and singing in the lobby of C3 church in high school, Andrew attended Southeastern University’s C3 Church college program to study music. He was hired on after graduating and later became the worship leader over their new band, Real Hope Worship. They released their first EP late last year, titled “Moving Mountains.”

“I genuinely was in a very dark place,” he said. “There was so little purpose and so much negativity in my life. I didn't even know how to pray, but I went to Belize and dug into the word of God.”

However, Andrew’s life isn’t always about being on stage. He also mentors young men in his community and travels around the world to places like Belize and Guatemala, sharing his music and serving others. I asked him about a time when he traveled to Haiti a few years back and how it had changed his perspective on worship. “Growing up in Church and in America, I don’t know that I ever realized how privileged we were,” he said. “It’s not that we should feel badly about that, but that

After Belize, he wrote “Mercy Says,” his first single based on the reference in Hebrews 4 of how Jesus understands our weaknesses. “There is a line in the song that says ‘Mercy meets me’ where I am, and I know mercy understands,” he said. “It only says it once, but that’s the key part where the song started for me. I really understood what God’s mercy was.” In one of my favorite lines “Your breakthrough’s coming round the bend,” Andrew talks about the

Photos by Justin Clark

imagery of seeing light just around the corner. Finally, a light coming into the darkness. “That’s kind of a long answer.” he said. “But how I dealt with depression is, honestly, running to God. I had no other choice, allowing myself to believe that my breakthrough was coming around the bend.” Andrew added that just the fact he allowed himself to hope did so much. Although his songs are catchy, uplifting, and usually something everyone can sing along to, his new single, “Mercy Says,” as well as his EP, a collaboration with producer Elthon Mendoza, tells of fighting through that darkness with God, something he wants to help others do through his music. As I wrapped up my interview with Andrew, his words swaying from heartfelt sentiment to anecdotes that had me rolling out of my chair, I learned that his life (and probably this interview) could easily be summed up in the whimsical lyrics of Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold” or Macklemore's “Thrift Shop,” but what he really hopes people will find is that it ends up resembling the spiritual message in “I’ll Just Say Yes” by Brian Courtney Wilson. Hinting that his life, and his music, will always be about saying “Yes” to what God has for him, and trusting in God’s love. Andrew's single, “Mercy Says,” is currently available on all digital platforms. To learn more, visit Susanne Poté is a local photojournalist, community activator and brand consultant. To learn more, visit

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Historically, the Distinguished Citizens Awards have been given annually to citizens who, over the years, have consistently served the SmithfieldSelma area with outstanding ability and dedication. As the Chamber grew during 2018 to include the towns of Kenly, Princeton and Wilson’s Mills along with Smithfield and Selma, an unprecedented five Distinguished Citizens Awards were given to deserving community leaders. Those honorees were: Jennifer Holloman (Kenly), Carlyle Woodard (Princeton), Tom and Kathleen Hinnant (Selma), Mayor Andy Moore (Smithfield) and Johnny Eason (Wilson’s Mills). The 2018 Citizen of the Year was awarded to Warren Grimes. The 2018 Jimmy Creech Small Business Person of the Year was presented to Melissa Overton of Additionally, several members of the Chamber were recognized for their contributions to the community during 2018.

Pictured are, left to right, First row — Kathleen and Tom Hinnant. Second row — Mayor Andy Moore, Warren Grimes, Jennifer Holloman, Melissa Overton, Shanna Capps and Eric Brownlee. Third row — Johnny Eason, Carlyle Woodard, Kitty Johnson, Christina Peterson, Carlton Pernell and Jimmy Pernell.

SMITHFIELD — The Greater Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its 49th annual meeting recently at The Farm at 95 in Selma. The Chamber’s annual meeting was both a look back at 2018 and a preview of what 2019 holds for the region. Chamber president and CEO, Michael Mancuso, opened the meeting with a review of the Chamber’s growth in 2018, including the addition of 80 new members.

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Katherine “Kitty” Johnson was named the Howard Best Board Member of the Year, Christina Peterson was named Ambassador of the Year and Life Memberships were presented to Tom Berkau, Jimmy Pernell and Carlton Pernell. Shanna Capps and Keith Brinson were recognized for completing their Board terms. Keynote speaker Ryan Combs, executive director of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, spoke for a short time about the opportunities for economic development and the potential for growth in the region. At the conclusion of the meeting, the official announcement was made that the Greater Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce will be renamed as the Triangle East Chamber of Commerce to fully reflect the communities now represented by the organization.

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and impassioned speech by outgoing Chamber Board Chair Ben Cook reminded everyone “to a grow a town, you must support a town,” and a rallying call for the new year from 2019 Chamber Board Chair Mary-Michael Denning Britt. Lastly, the long list of civic organization and chamber award winners: Civic organization award winners:

BENSON — An unusually warm February evening set the mood for the 70th-annual Benson Chamber Banquet, held inside The Barn at Broadslab Distillery. The mild temperatures led many to a patio area where laughter and greetings could be heard throughout the facility during the social hour. The program that followed was a thoughtful recognition of some of Benson’s best and brightest — from outstanding community volunteers to longtime pillars in local business. Some highlights of the night included a “Benson Update” from Mayor Jerry Medlin about several upcoming projects throughout town. Town Manager Matt Zapp maintained his role as Banquet MC to great effect, keeping the audience engaged and laughing. An inspirational

• Outstanding Woman - Jeanelle McCain • Outstanding Senior Citizen - Larry Massengill • Young Person of the Year - Charli Rosenberg • Firefighter of the Year - Robbie Price • Law Enforcement Officer of the Year - Greg Percy • Arts Award - Janet Wilson • Volunteer of the Year - Beverly Allen • Educator of the Year - Tracey Johnson • Public Service Employee of the Year Award - Tim Robbins • Humanitarian Award - Dennis Eason Chamber award winners: • Ambassador of the Year - Darla Hamm • Board of Directors Award - Jaymes Elliott • Business Family of the Year - Colon Davis Family / BN Printing • Large Business of the Year - First Citizens Bank / award accepted by Joshua Caro • Small Business of the Year - Joe Parker / JP’s Pastry • Citizen of the Year - Elaine Todd / award accepted by Rebekah Todd

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Clayton Chamber recognizes 2018 Business, Citizen of the Year Submitted by Clayton Chamber of Commerce

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CLAYTON — The 68th Clayton Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting & Community Awards Ceremony was held recently at Brick & Mortar Events in Clayton. The Clayton Chamber of Commerce (CCOC) presented their annual awards, including Clayton’s Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year. Citing excellent customer and community service, Align Family Chiropractic was chosen by the Clayton Chamber of Commerce as 2018 Business of the Year. CCOC's President/CEO Dana Wooten said after the ceremony, “I was very happy to give Align Family Chiropractic this award. Even though they have not been in Clayton that long, owners Dr. Matt and Dr. Jessica Thompson (pictured above) have made a huge impact on our business community, giving freely of their personal time and resources.” Selected by a communitywide task force from public nominations, the 2018 Citizen of the Year was awarded to Larry Bailey. Bailey’s near 40-year commitment to the Clayton community as the Director of Parks and Recreation as well as his humble and giving personality topped the list of reasons he was selected. “Larry has been a tremendous asset to the Clayton community for a very long time. We were

excited to see him nominated this year and elated to see the task force recognize his dedicated service and dedication to our town,” said Wooten. The complete list of Clayton Chamber of Commerce award recipients are listed below. Additional awards were presented by Clayton Downtown Development Association, Clayton Rotary Club and Clayton Women in Networking during this event. The 2018 CCOC award recipients were: Business of the Year, Align Family Chiropractic; Citizen of the Year, Larry Bailey; Innovator of the Year, Dave DeYoung; Volunteer of the Year, Sara Perricone; Super Star Teacher of the Year, Kimberly Ellison of Powhatan Elementary; Leaving a Legacy Award, Dyrke Maricle; Ambassador of the Year, Erin Davis-Belcher; Clayton Harvest Festival Hero Awards, Jim Lee, Ariel Ramirez, Eric Rabuse, Pasqual Goicoechea and Simon Garen; 2018 Gratitude Awards, Clayton Police Department and Clayton Fire Department; Committee of the Year, CCOC Economic Development Committee — Ruth Anderson, Edwin Jackson, Kyle McDermott, Dave DeYoung, Kaitlin Crocker, Jim Perricone, Bobby Bunn, Greg Kennedy, Charlie Bell, Beth Watson, Tara Abernathy and Stacy Beard and Key Contributor of the Year, Boone Williams.

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CANADIAN AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURER TO CREATE 24 JOBS IN SELMA Submitted by Johnston County Economic Development

SELMA — Municipal and county leaders have approved incentive offers that pave the way for Linamar Seissenschmidt Forgings Group to assume operations in an existing building at Selma’s Oak Tree Industrial Park. The company is part of Linamar Corporation, Canada’s second-largest manufacturer of automotive components. It will invest $3 million and create 24 jobs at the Selma location, which sits in convenient proximity to its Linamar Forgings Carolina’s growing facility in Wilson. “Linamar is a prestigious global name in advanced manufacturing, and we’re proud to welcome them to Selma,” said Cheryl Oliver, mayor of Selma.

Oliver joined the town’s elected officials in an unanimous vote to extend an incentives package to the company. “The company choice of Selma brings with it additional jobs and tax-base, as well as a presence that says all the right things about Selma’s location, workforce, business climate and infrastructure,” she said. County officials also welcomed Linamar Seissenschmidt Forgings Group with a unanimous vote by the Board of Commissioners to approve a five-year, performancebased economic development grant to the company as it completes its investment and hiring. “These jobs come with average

salaries that are significantly above the county’s overall average,” said Ted Godwin, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners. “The company’s presence here will add a great deal to our local economy and manufacturing community.” “This project showcases the close connections Johnston County maintains within the broader regional economy,” said Chris Johnson, director of the Johnston County Office of Economic Development. “Linamar also underscores how international our manufacturing community has become. Leading corporations from across Europe and Canada understand and appreciate the unique array of advantages that our county can offer qualityminded global companies.”


FOUR OAKS — Mayor Linwood Parker and Town Commissioner John Hatch officially presented a minibasketball court to a group of children at Robert Lee Holt's Park on December 19. Parker and Hatch also shared the mini-court's rules which are as follows: • It's more than a court. If you play alone, focus on hand-eye coordination and body movement. • If you play with a friend, or friends, make a few rules first — including sharing the ball.


• Practice good sportsmanship. Begin and end with a handshake. • Basketball skills are practiced throughout life. Respect and work together. Mayor Parker played a short game of one-on-one with Levi Cooper. Afterwards, Parker organized a game between the children and acted as the scorekeeper. Christopher Haley, Tol Avery and Patricia Chisholm-Jones provided sack lunches for those in attendance, and the event finished with a Christmas Tree lighting in the park.




Smithfield-based Oak City Collection took part in the Carolina Hurricanes' Homegrown Series on Jan. 11 for the team's home game against the Buffalo Sabres. Oak City Collection, owned by Jud Patterson (pictured) and Suzanne Taylor, produced a commemorative T-shirt for the event — which quickly sold out. To learn more about Oak City Collection, visit



SELMA — Students from 27 different elementary schools competed in the 2019 Johnston County Elementary Spelling Bee on Jan. 24 at Selma Elementary School. Elementary school students from each of the JCPS elementary schools, as well as fifth-grade students from Selma Middle and Benson Middle, participated in the Spelling Bee. Students from Southside Christian School and Neuse Charter School also participated. The first place winner of the Spelling Bee was West View Elementary student Carson Philbrick. The winning word was “physicist.” The second place winner was River Dell Elementary student Alex Khonyakin, and the third place winner was Polenta Elementary student Xander Monserrate.

Pictured are, left to right, Master Bernard Redfield, Odin Elbert, Blaise Elbert, Maverick Clawson, Nathan Stephenson, Caitlyn Frayley and Shane Stephenson.

Redfield Martial Arts students did well in recent competition. In the Black Belt division, Odin took first in Board Breaking, second in Weapons and third in Sparring and Forms, while Blaise took a second in Sparring. For Orange belts, Caitlyn pulled in first in Forms,

second in Sparring and third in Weapons, while Nathan took first in Sparring and Maverick took third in Weapons. In the White Belt events, Shane fought his way to second place in Sparring, bringing the total to 11 medals for the six competitors.

The first place winner of the Spelling Bee was West View Elementary student Carson Philbrick, left, the second place winner was River Dell Elementary student Alex Khonyakin, center, and the third place winner was Polenta Elementary student Xander Monserrate.

march 2019 | 17

Unique events and festivals in Johnston County in 2019 Submitted by Johnston County Visitors Bureau

Jim Quick & Coastline, The Embers, Band of Oz and Chairmen of the Board. Strawberry Festival, April 27 — An all-day celebration for the Greater Cleveland community focused on family fun and entertainment including a classic car show, face painting, activities for the kids, lots of food, and of course, strawberries from local farms across the county. Ham & Yam Festival, May 4 — Taking place in Downtown Smithfield the first Saturday in May every year, the Ham & Yam Festival is packed with ham biscuits, barbecue pork and sweet potatoes. There will be arts, crafts, kid’s activities, live entertainment, a pig cooking contest and piglet racing. Ava Gardner Festival, May 31 and June 1 — This year we welcome the return of the popular Ava Gardner Festival to Downtown Smithfield. The festival includes a brand-new exhibit opening, movie screenings, guided heritage tours and more. Mondo Roots Cultural Arts & Music Festival, June 1 — Taking place in Downtown Clayton, this festival is an all-encompassing celebration of art, music, culture and diversity including performances from national acts and live art demos from local artisans. State Singing Convention, June 21-23 — The oldest Southern gospel convention in the nation happens at the Singing Grove in Benson. It includes three days of gospel music competition including amateur duets, trios, quartets, choirs and family groups. Benson Mule Days, Sept. 26-29 — The fourth Saturday of September has been home to Benson’s Mule Days festival for 70 years. This four-day family-fun festival is packed with mule competition events, rodeos, carnival rides, arts and crafts, street dances and concerts.

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nimal Hospital SMITHFIELD — When planning excursions around festivals that happen annually in the south, keep Johnston County’s towns in mind. Here are a few things going on around the county in 2019. If you have any interest in learning about any of the events listed below, visit Bentonville Battlefield Anniversary Event, March 16 — To mark the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville, visit this state historic site for a day of themed programs. This year, participants can learn about Civil War medical practices and how they revolutionized battlefield medicine. Beach Fest, April 27 — This year’s show marks the sixth year of beach music celebration at The Farm venue in Selma. Past acts have been notable including

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Railroad Days Festival, Oct. 5 — Join the fun in Uptown Selma as the town celebrates its rail heritage every year the first Saturday in October. The annual event will offer its regular fare, including live entertainment, vendors, food, rides, a parade and 5K run. Four Oaks Acorn Festival, Oct. 12 — Check out the 30th annual Acorn Festival for family fun, including children's activities, live entertainment, vendor fair, an antique car and tractor show and much more. Historic Downtown Smithfield Ghost Walk, Oct. 24 — Small groups will be guided through the cemetery where costumed re-enactors will tell stories about famous (and perhaps infamous) local persons buried there. Clayton Harvest Festival, Oct. 31 through Nov. 3 — With roots dating back to 1951, the award-winning Clayton Chamber of Commerce’s Clayton Harvest Festival is one of the largest festivals in Johnston County. It includes a midway with fair rides, games, and food, Clayton Idol singing competition, Clayton’s largest vendor fair, Squealin’ on the Square barbecue contest, a Military Crossroads featuring military demonstrations, a classic car show, tractor show, and bike show, as well as local performances and a Latin American Festival celebration. The Shindig, Nov. 2 — For the last few years this little Americana music festival in Downtown Clayton has gained momentum and popularity among music and beer lovers alike. Enjoy amazing acts in an intimate space before they hit it big, previous performers include The Black Lillies, American Aquarium and The Steeldrivers.





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KS Bank has been the main lender to builders here at Portofino. When the real estate crisis hit in 2008 “other banks fell out, but KS Bank helped me keep the property and keep it going. Portofino would not be the same thing it is today if it weren’t for them and the trust and faith they had in me in very difficult times. They were sort of like a lifeline and believed in us and what we had done and were doing. KS Bank is still the main lender to builders out here and as we see new people coming in, some from out of state, we absolutely recommend that they talk to KS about their banking needs.

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March 2019 | 19

Portofino: A world-class neighborhood built on local relationships By Melissa Eakin Photos by Ron Sloan/Sloan Communications

The beautiful “Ali 2” stable is the visual and functional centerpiece of Portofino’s equestrian lifestyle. CLAYTON — Norwood Thompson will tell you himself that he’s not a horse person. He doesn’t ride and takes mainly an aesthetic pleasure in the equestrian lifestyle. But his wife adores horses and it’s a passion I can well understand. I was one of those horse-crazy little girls whose room was a sanctuary of horse figurines, calendars, posters and books. I fantasized about galloping through brilliant green countryside on a magnificent black horse, jumping over streams and hedges with a grace that would make spectators gasp with admiration, absolutely certain I had to be either royalty or some great adventurer off on her latest quest. My parents’ VHS copy of “The Black Stallion” was in near constant use.

delighted and curious. Often, you’ll find developments centering around golf courses, landmarks, or even shopping districts, but this was the first time I’d heard of one built around a stable and equestrian activities. I felt a surge of nostalgic enthusiasm from my childhood at the thought of fenced-in pastures and a barn full of horses, but as I planned my visit, I reassured myself that any galloping and hedge jumping could be watched from a safe distance.

Thompson and his wife, Sandra live in a remodeled tenant farmer’s house from the 1930s. It is white, with a charming bright red roof and sits just steps from the beautiful and dignified stable that serves as Portofino’s centerpiece. As both Portofino’s developer and a resident, Norwood Thompson takes In real life, however, I approached great pride in how it has evolved horses with the same fearful respect over the years since it first got its I reserved for older boys I deemed start. “cute” — they’re fun to watch and admire from a distance, but up He kindly agreed to talk with close, they’re pretty terrifying. me one Friday morning and as I pulled up to his house, I was When I heard of Portofino, an immediately greeted by a small, equestrian’s dream of a housing white Jack Russell terrier with development in Clayton, I was the same spooky blue eyes as an


Alaskan Husky. She charged up to me and paced back and forth authoritatively, barking and sniffing before turning abruptly and running around the side of the house to the comparative safety of the front bushes. I followed her and stepped onto the front porch where she soon joined me, keeping a wary distance and watching me out of the corners of her eyes. She echoed my knock on the front door with a few barks before Thompson appeared, smiling and greeting me while gently scolding the dog at the same time. He opened the door and stepped back, waving me inside with a warm “Come on in,” followed by a slightly annoyed “hush, Poppy!” This is a familiar interaction at a lot of front doors here in North Carolina so I was immediately put at ease. Every house needs a dog to sound the alarm, if for no other reason than to make visitors feel like the quieter nuisance. “Come on in,” he repeated, leading me into a high-ceilinged den with a slowly spinning ceiling fan and a wood-burning fireplace that I

smelled before I saw. I had been told that he keeps a fire burning nine months out of the year and summer isn’t an exception. Poppy darted around the room as I walked in and my host followed. We were about to settle into the comfortable-looking furniture when he seemed to be struck with a sudden idea: “Hey, would you like to take the tour?” I agreed and he grinned broadly, gesturing me toward the back door and turning to say, “Come on, Poppy, let’s go.” As Thompson’s well-known sidekick, Poppy knew the routine. She flew out the door ahead of both of us and was in the truck as soon as I opened the passenger door. We drove across a short distance to the stable, a handsome, large building containing 22 stalls and inspired by a 100-year-old barn Thompson and his wife had toured in Lexington, Kentucky. They named it Ali 2, after the previous landowner’s daughter, Ali Tew. Poppy perched on my lap, gazing out the windshield with a distinctly

proprietary air as we circled the stable and parked near the wide entrance where a petite blonde woman was standing with a gorgeous black horse straight out of my childhood imagination. His mane and tail fell in thick, soft curls and blew slightly in the breeze. He was quite a bit taller than the woman standing next to him, but his eyes were gentle and I found myself walking toward him with a giant smile on my face. Thompson followed me over, introducing me to the blonde woman as his wife, Sandra. She smiled warmly and patted the horse’s neck before extending a hand for me to shake. After the initial introduction and a few short words of greeting, she indicated the beautiful horse. “This is my fella,” she said. “He’s a Freesian. They’re known for their hair. They’re typically carriage drivers.” He turned slightly toward her, ducking his head almost bashfully and she smiled and patted his neck again. “He’s a sweetheart.” She explained that she was waiting to have him re-shod, indicating a man near a truck parked close by who was making lots of industrious sounding metallic noise with tools I couldn’t see from where I was standing. Norwood Thompson indicated a set of wide, open double doors to my right and I headed that way, walking into the quiet shade of the stable. A wide corridor with stalls on each side stretched the length of the building and the air smelled sweetly of hay and horse. In the stall closest to me, a girl of about 12 or 13 brushed a restless horse, scolding him impatiently as he shifted around. She didn’t seem the least bit intimidated by the large animal, concentrating on a task she’d obviously done many times before. I followed him into a spacious reception area through another set of double doors on the other side of the corridor. It was beautifully furnished and for the first time, I found myself thinking that this was a barn I wouldn’t mind living in. In fact, Thompson told me that there’s an upstairs apartment here where visiting relatives of Portofino residents can arrange to stay. It’s also on Air B&B. The stable had the grace and

elegance of a long established building comfortable in its bones and I asked, “How old is this place?” “Probably five years,” he responded. I raised my eyebrows in surprise and he continued. “We’ve had weddings right here in the barn.” He continued to point out features as we meandered slowly back through the stable and out toward the truck, Poppy quickly darting ahead and jumping inside. As I climbed in to sit next to her, I asked, “Do people take lessons here?” I was thinking it might be fun with lots of padding and a helmet. And maybe a few closelyplaced inflatables. “Oh yeah,” Thompson replied, nodding. “We’ve got high-level trainers, and then trainers for those just starting out.” We both waved to Sandra as he backed the truck out of its space and we swung around, continuing our tour of Portofino. “In fact,” he continued, “we’ve had three of the Olympians that were at Rio come here for some classes. One of them won silver, I believe.” Surprised, I asked, “How’d they wind up down here?”

Sandra spent several years touring the East Coast and Canada, he told me, looking at barns and gathering inspiration for what would become Portofino. He pointed out a riding ring we were passing with several kinds of colorful jumps. Across the road from there was a pretty wooden covered bridge with a sparkling water feature in the foreground. He continued, “People like the ambiance of a barn and equestrian life. Most people don’t want a horse, but they like the social side and the lifestyle.” We passed home after beautiful home, each with a spacious yard and some with their own miniature stable or barn. Many had design touches that hinted at an equestrian theme and mirrored some of the elements I’d seen in the dignified elegance of the stable. Each blended gracefully with the surrounding countryside. Hillside stretched down to thick woods along one side of the road at one point, and we turned off the pavement onto a dirt track that led back into the trees. Poppy squirmed and yipped, prompting Thompson to sigh and stop the truck, opening his door but remaining seated. Poppy startled me by darting across his lap and

leaping down to the ground, running to the front of the truck and waiting as he closed his door and put the truck back in gear. She then dashed up the road in front of us. He explained that this was part of their routine whenever Poppy came along for a drive around the community. She’d yip when she wanted to get out and trot along in front or investigate something out in the woods. Then she’d stop at the side of the road a ways up and bark to be let back in. I noticed that the dirt track we were on ran alongside what turned out to be the Neuse River. Its shining dark ribbon wound itself along the green banks, occasionally lost behind the trees before coming back into view again. Every now and then, I’d glimpse a bench perched along the bank at a scenic point. “Back in the 1800s,” he began, conversationally, “a Dr. Watson owned 10,000 acres here.” He explained how, back then, successful farming meant being as self-sufficient as possible. “So if you think about it, you can have cows, hogs and vegetables, but you need flour and cornmeal.” I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but felt a story coming on.

“Well, this is kind of a unique facility, in that we’ve got a crosscountry course, which not many places have,” he explained as we turned out onto the road and headed out into the residential areas. “In fact, the N.C. State eventing team trains here.” Eventing, I learned that day, is an equestrian sport in which riders participate in several contests, usually cross-country, dressage and show jumping. Dressage, I then learned, can have a multitude of definitions, depending on the site and the person you ask, but best I could figure out, it is a highly specialized way of riding and training a horse that develops a kind of communication of movement between horse and rider. I cringed inwardly at my lack of equestrian knowledge outside my emphatic opinion that “horses are pretty.” “So are you an equestrian yourself?” I asked, turning to Thompson as we rode along, Poppy perched on my lap. “No, but my wife is.” He and

Sandra and Norwood with Coco, Poppy and Sandra’s beloved Freesian horse, Mags.

March 2019 | 21

“So what they did here,” he continued, pointing off to our left, “They hand-dug a canal over a mile long and put rocks in the river to divert the water down the canal. They ran water through here and they had enough fall at the end where it went back into the Neuse River, that they could have a small grist mill to grind corn and make cornmeal.” I glimpsed the banks of the canal through the trees. After a moment, he continued his narration. “Back in the 1940s, or probably even before that and on through the ‘70s, the Flowers family owned this land. They were known for moonshining.” He looked across at me and grinned at my raised eyebrows. “You didn’t know about all that?” I admitted that, although a lifelong native of Johnston County, this was news to me. “I’ll show you the Saturday Evening Post magazine, which was before your time and the largest magazine in the United States. We got it when I was a kid and I remember once on the front cover reading the title ‘King of the Moonshiners’. “When we started Portofino, we looked online and found the issue — August of 1958, and it’s four full pages about the moonshining. It shows law enforcement on this property breaking up a 47,000-gallon still.”

looked out into the woods around me, imagining law enforcement charging through with axes to bust up the stills as he continued. “We’ve found, so far, 12 abandoned stills out here. And this road,” he nodded toward the windshield at the dirt road we were bumping along, “was a runway. There were two airports in Johnston County at one time. One in Selma, which my aunt ran, and then they had an airport here.”

races per year.

We rode on for a bit in silence, enjoying the sunshine and watching Poppy dart in and out of the trees.

“I’m from Selma,” he replied with a grin. “I didn’t go far.” He filled me in on some of the details of his life to this point.

“This trail is slated to become part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail system,” Thompson said. “It’ll be 1,400 miles long in total; they’ve built about 800 miles of it.”

Growing up in Selma, his grandfather had a machine shop and there, he learned how to work on cars, do some welding, and occasional auto body repair. He discovered he had a knack for the mechanical and was accepted into N.C. State’s mechanical engineering program.

He paused as we stopped to let Poppy back into the truck. “We have about 12 miles of trails here now, of which just the trail along the river will be part of the Mountains-to-Sea system. We’ve got a trail that goes all the way around the property that’s five miles long.” “This would be a great place to run,” I commented. Thompson told me that Sandra is a runner and takes advantage of the roads and trails throughout the property. They also host several

We cleared the woods and came out onto the paved road once again. The ride smoothed out considerably and I looked around at the hills and houses spreading out to either side of us. Wanting to know more about his personal history and how Portofino came to be, I asked, “Where are you from originally?”

His sophomore year, he bought a salvage yard up on Interstate 70 and worked there full time, as well as attending classes as a full-time student. After graduation, in addition to the salvage yard and his family’s body shop, he began to get into real estate, eventually buying a total of seven salvage yards in eastern North Carolina. Always looking to the future and learning about whatever interested him, he sold off his salvage


Many Portofino home sites accommodate private pastures and stables.


yards and bought an engineering company. He sold this company to start another engineering company, which he also eventually sold. All along, however, he had an interest in real estate and development, eventually getting into investing and building. He built a small apartment complex before turning to commercial building. One of his first projects was Raleigh Savings Bank in Clayton, where the First Federal Bank is located today. He moved on to build for Hertz and Caterpillar. “I’ve always enjoyed building things,” he says. He’s built a number of subdivisions over the years but says that when he started Portofino, it wasn’t intended to be as elaborate as it has turned out to be. “This property became available and we bought it right at the peak of the market, back in ’06,” he said. “It was 400 acres total. We were with a couple of banks on financing, but when the market fell out, the banks just left for the woods and left everything hanging.” He was quiet a while before continuing. “I had dealt with two community banks in the past, and thank goodness KS Bank and Harold Keen and the board there saw at least some light at the end of the tunnel for this place. They were the main lender to builders who were building here. When

Poppy oversees the property from his perch in the stable. Head trainer Aaron Hill spends some time with her horse, Denali. the banks fell out, they helped me keep the property and keep it going. Portofino would not be the same thing it is today if it weren’t for them and the trust and faith they had in me in very difficult times. They were sort of like a lifeline and had faith in us and believed in what we had done and were doing here. Without their help and support, we would never have made it through.” After riding in thoughtful silence for a bit, he continued to talk about KS Bank and his relationship with them. “As we’ve paid the loan off — they’re still the main lender to builders out here and as we see new people coming in, some from out of state, we absolutely recommend that they talk to KS about their banking needs.” Talking about his history and the start of Portofino seemed to stay on his mind. “I go back to important people in my life and my dad and grandfather were really important in teaching me how to do things and how to work, tolerate issues and things like that. Another important person in my life would be John Shallcross, Sr.

He loaned me $28,000 to buy my first junkyard, Raleigh Auto Parts, and again, my life wouldn’t have been the same without him. “On the financial side,” he continued, “would be both Ayden Lee (retired former CEO of Four Oaks Bank & Trust) and Harold Keen and KS Bank.” He paused again. “It feels good to be able to look back and see people that are critical in your life. Whatever success I’ve had is because of other people, it’s not because of me.” We were wrapping up our circuit of Portofino, with Thompson waving out the open window periodically at residents as he talked. Everyone seemed to know him and he spoke to those near enough to hear him by name. “Anyway,” he said, “the development’s going good. It’s unique in that it’s not a country club-type atmosphere. It’s got real people. They’re good people. It’s rare that a developer lives in his own subdivision — extremely rare. But the best quality we’ve got are the people who live here, and we’ve got them from all over the

The Portofino stable provides lodging for boarding horses and is also used for events and weddings.

country. Some from overseas.” We completed our tour of Portofino and stopped back at Norwood and Sandra’s home. He led the way inside and we sat in the living room before a wonderfully cozy fire in the fireplace. Sitting near me was a framed set of three pictures of the house as it originally looked, back in the 1930s. Indicating the pictures, Thompson said, “It (the house) was on down the runway and they moved it here in 2000 or 2001 and it just sat here. It was a tenant house — built under the Roosevelt work program in the 1930s. (During renovation) we left the clapboard and the plumbing. This is a kind of feelgood location to us.” The house seemed to me to gracefully represent the blend of history and current-day life that I’d seen stretching throughout all of Portofino and the land it sits on. Residents were living out their days and their own personal stories, running errands and watering their lawns, layered over the stories of the past of this place and the people who had

lived here decades and centuries before. It’s a truth of life for all of us everywhere but which, after my history lesson and tour, felt especially close at Portofino. We chatted comfortably and I could feel our conversation winding to a close. He pointed out a painting of an obviously Italian coastline above the fireplace, close-packed villas piling down to the sea in a blend of harmonious colors. I found that he and Sandra had this painting long before the development of Portofino had come into being. They had spent some weeks in the city of Portofino after attending a wedding nearby, and fell in love with the area. Their current Portofino is home now and they’re settled and happy here. “We enjoy it here,” he said, looking out the window behind me toward the stable. “Sandra runs the barn and it’s been really good for her, and good for us to be able to do that. This is home.”

March 2019 | 23


Pictured are: Transportation Director Sherrie Turnage, Bus Coordinator for the North Johnston/Princeton area Danny Williams, Transportation Supervisor Sharon Fogleman, bus drivers Marsha Stanley, Sharon Jones, Renee Rhodes, Cynthia Jones, Shannon Brock, Atiya Hicks, Karen Toole, Mary Aileen House, Ebone Leach, Sandra Taylor, Wendy Ronczka, Katlyn Brown, Salina Williams, Latoya Bethea, Shelia Fitzgerald, Laura Ochoa, Tamara Atkinson, Debra Morgan, Minnie Brown, Tammy Massengill, Peggy West, Faith Hicks, Betsy Hill, Pamela McCall, Janet Kelly, Kasondra Worley, Brenda Stanley, Tammy McCall, Michelle Martin, Veronica Carrillo, as well as bus monitors Natalie Creech and Donna Talton. Not pictured are bus drivers Teresa Baker, Linda Cockrell, Bobbie Lynn Pilkington, Rebecca Hines, Patricia Moreno and bus monitor Angela Ward.

Johnston County Public Schools Transportation Services recognized bus drivers from the North Johnston High and Princeton Middle/High areas for having the highest perfect attendance rate this quarter.

Chain” and accompanying banner.

Bus drivers from the area were the first ever to receive the department’s “Perfect Attendance

“We truly appreciate what all of our bus drivers do on a daily basis to safely transport students

The award will be given on a quarterly basis to the area with the highest perfect attendance rate among bus drivers.

to and from school,” said Chase Ferrell, JCPS Auxiliary Services and Safety Officer. The chain and banner will be housed and displayed in the North Johnston/Princeton area for the entire third quarter of the school year as a way to recognize their consistent efforts.


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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 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.

First and third Tuesdays, 6 p.m. Smithfield Lions Club Golden Corral, Smithfield This group gathers for fellowship and a meal (self-paid), and the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Come learn about the club and how it helps with local community service projects. For more information contact, Karen Brown at 919-934-2555.

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 or visit

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

Rudy Theatre Easter Jubliee The Easter Jubilee is underway at the Rudy. For dates and times, visit 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 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, noon The Woman’s Club of Clayton meeting 109 Church Street, Clayton The Woman’s Club of Clayton (TWCC) is a nonprofit 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. Please consider joining us and help us serve those in need of assistance. TWCC meets at Noon the second Wednesday of each month (except June, July and August). Second Thursday, 6:30 p.m. Johnston County Writers Group Selma Public Library Facilitated by retired educator Gary Ridout, check out the Johnston County Writers Group and meet visiting local authors, hear craft talks, enjoy networking and more. Free to the public. For more information, email brookshire1014@ 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 or call 805-377-9573. 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 African-American 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 Every Thursday, 6:45 a.m. Clayton Rotary Morning Club Rainbow Lanes, Clayton Every Thursday morning, 70 serviceminded 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, 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 Every Thursday, 12 p.m. Central Johnston County Rotary Club Johnston Medical Mall 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

Third Thursday, 6 p.m. Four Oaks American Legion Ladies Auxiliary meeting American Legion Building, Four Oaks All veterans’ wives are encouraged to attend the monthly meeting of Four Oaks American Legion Post 346 on the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m.

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 smalltown charm. First Thursday, 6:30 p.m. Four Oaks American Legion meeting American Legion Building, Four Oaks All veterans are encouraged to attend the monthly meeting of Four Oaks American Legion Post 346 on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

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 919-631-2628 or email

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 919-9460924. Third Saturday, 1 p.m. Refreshing Springs Outreach Ministries Fairfield Inn and Suites, Smithfield Come out to worship and fellowship with a growing ministry at Fairfield Inn & SuitesMarriot. For questions, email Rev. Pam Ballard at pballard@refreshingspringsrc. com or call 919-585-7497. First Sunday, 9 a.m. Special Needs Ministry Four Oaks United Methodist Church Four Oaks United Methodist Church has developed a Special Needs Ministry for the community. Everyone, including families with special needs individuals, is welcome to attend a 30-minute service that uses children’s music and an open format that allows the children to make noise and move around as needed. Parents can relax in casual attire, and no offering will be collected. For more information, contact Pastor Linda Leuser at 919-938-0000 or email to

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Thursday, Feb. 28, 11 a.m. The Rare Disease Day Expo 2019 Johnston Medical Mall, Smithfield The Rare Disease Day Expo 2019, presented by Archer Lodge Middle School and sponsored by Grifols Plasma Center, will take place at the Johnston Medical Mall, featuring information about over 30 rare diseases that affect hundreds of thousands of Americans. Come out and learn more about rare diseases and how to become an advocate for rare disease awareness in Johnston County while supporting our students and their efforts to celebrate and promote Rare Disease Day. For more information, email or call 919-805-4313.

Thursday, Feb. 28, 5:30 p.m. 2019 Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet The Hall and Gardens at Landmark, Garner The 2019 Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet is slated for Thursday, Feb. 28 at The Hall and Gardens at Landmark. To register, visit

Friday, March 1, 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.

Friday, March 1, 6 p.m. 2019 Reverse Raffle Neuse Charter School, Smithfield Money raised will go toward faculty workshops, improved compensation, facilities improvements and athletic needs.

Friday, March 1, 7 p.m. Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road Bluegrass Rudy Theatre, Selma The Rudy Theatre presents Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road. For tickets, visit


Saturday, March 2, 6:30 p.m. Miss Clayton/Capital City/Cleveland 2019 Scholarship Competition The Clayton Center The Miss Capital City, Miss Clayton & Miss Cleveland Scholarship Competition is an official, local, triple preliminary associated with the Miss North Carolina Scholarship Competition and Miss America Organization. Tickets are available in advance and at the door, through the Clayton Center box office. Monday, March 4, 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Fundraiser Lunch for Partnership for Children Clayton Steakhouse Join the Clayton Steakhouse in supporting the Partnership for Children of Johnston County. Lunch will be served on Monday, March 4 at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. For only $15, choose from: Ribeye Steak Sandwich, Charbroiled Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Salad Sandwich, 1/4 lb. Hamburger or Cheeseburger or Chicken Salad on a bed of greens (NO Side). Also includes a side and a drink. Tuesday, March 5, 6 p.m. Be Free From Debt JCC Small Business Center, Clayton In this three-hour seminar, you will learn a simple yet effective method to start the process of making yourself debt free. You will also learn about the shams and quick fixes that should be avoided and how to properly and legally deal with creditors. Bring a list of your debts with balances and monthly payments and learn how to develop your own debt elimination plan that can be implemented immediately into your lifestyle. Each student/attendee must register separately with their own email address. Attendees must be 18 or older. For more information, email sbc@mail. March 8-10 Free Yoga: One Year Celebration Victory Power Yoga, Oleander Dr., Clayton Help celebrate with free yoga classes all weekend. Please arrive 15 minutes before class to get settled and save your spot. Preregistration is recommended. Saturday, March 9, 8 a.m. Tobacco Farm Life Museum, Kenly Check out the Working the Land: Antique tractor displays/farmer appreciation program at the Tobacco Farm Life Museum.

Saturday, March 9 Selma Saturdays Arts and Crafts Market Uptown Selma Gather with friends and enjoy live local entertainment and browse local artists with hand-crafted items. The Gazebo is located at the 100 Block of E. Anderson Street in Uptown Selma in the back parking lot of Town Hall. Vendors and entertainment acts are needed throughout the year — please contact for complete information. For complete information, please contact, Melissa Dooley at 919-965-9841, ext. 8003 or email her at Saturday, March 9, 8:30 a.m. 2019 Women at Work Conference Johnston County Agricultural Center, Smithfield Mark your calendars now for Junior Women’s League of Smithfield’s secondannual Women at Work Conference. The theme for this year is Empowerment: Achieve the Impossible. For tickets, visit Thursday, March 14, 6 p.m. Art and Food Festival Johnston County Agricultural Center The Johnston County Arts Council will host its tenth-annual Art and Food Festival Gala on March 14 at the Johnston County Agricultural Center. This fundraiser will generate monies to assist the Arts Council with funding for the 2019-2020 Artists-in-the-Schools program, provide scholarships for Johnston Community College students studying Fine Arts and to fund free community programming such as visual artists paint-outs, Johnston Health art exhibits and music for the Lunch Bunch. There will be an arts show with works on display and available for purchase from Johnston County’s most talented visual artists, and attendees will be treated to allyou-can-eat dishes from Johnston County’s finest restaurants. Visit for more information. Saturday, March 16, 9 a.m. Fill the Boot/K9 Bowl WalMart, Smithfield Join the Never Forget 9-11 Foundation as it collects monetary donations to help the K9 and NC 2 NYC campaigns. Bring loose change and bills to drop in the boot or the bowl. Email Christine@ for more information. Saturday, March 16, 10 a.m. Bentonville Battlefield - A Fighting Chance for Life Learn about Civil War medical practices and how they revolutionized battlefield medicine. Visit the Harper House and speak to interpreters about the tool and techniques used to treat battlefield wounds.

Thursday, March 21, 6 p.m. Third Thursday Music Stanfield’s General Store, Four Oaks Come out to Stanfield’s General Store on the third Thursday evening each month for live music, food samples and much more. Call 919-963-9607. Saturday, March 23, 7 a.m. Pancake, Sausage and Bacon Breakfast Hwy. 55 Restaurant, Four Oaks Join the Four Oaks American Legion for a pancake, sausage and bacon breakfast on Saturday, March 23. Tickets are $6 per plate. Saturday, March 23, 7 p.m, David Church in concert Rudy Theatre, Selma The Rudy Theatre presents David Church. For tickets, visit Tuesday, March 26, 8 a.m. Volunteer Day Howell Woods, Devils Racetrack Road, Four Oaks Howell Woods staff welcomes your help removing low hanging vegetation and boardwalk repair along the Diversity Hiking Trail System. For more information please call the Learning Center at 919-938-0115 or email

Saturday, March 30, 9 a.m. Clayton Little League Opening Day 2019 Amelia Church Road, Clayton For questions, e-mail

Tickets are recommended and are $40/ person, which includes entrance, a bucket of oysters with all the fixin’s and one beverage ticket. Tickets can be purchased by calling 919-965-3350.

Saturday, March 30, 10 a.m. Kyle’s Wish to Walk Charity Car & Truck Show The Church at Clayton Crossings Money raised for this event will be donated to six year old Kyle Fitzgerald to offset the cost of for a surgical procedure called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR). This procedure will help Kyle walk for the first time in his life. Registration: $20 online/$25 on-site. Donations for Kyle’s Wish to Walk fund are accepted here: Saturday, March 30, 11:30 a.m. 2019 Sip into Spring Oyster Roast & Live Music Hinnant Family Vineyards, Pine Level What better way to welcome Spring than with oysters, local wine and craft beer, live music and great company. The Switch will kick off with live music at noon while Heads Up Penny will finish out the day from 3-5 p.m. Advance

Saturday, March 30, 1 p.m. Hillcrest Farms Family Day and Fundraising Event Hillcrest Farms, Smithfield This event features singer, songwriter and musician Scott Helmer. Enjoy a food truck rodeo and visit local vendors. There will be a 50/50 raffle, auction and giveaways. Bring the whole family to enjoy pony rides, kiss a pony in our pony kissing booth, meet a live unicorn, face painting, games and more.

Saturday, March 30, 6 p.m. BOOTS & TUTUS | 2019 Daddy Daughter Dance The Church at Clayton Crossings Dads (grandfathers, uncles, etc.), bring your daughters of all ages to this special night of dinner and dancing! Tickets are only $10 per person! Register at

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First Friday in Benson March 1st Stroll downtown for special sales, treats and food trucks. Coffee Connections March 21st At the Chamber office, all members invited to attend. *Luck of the Draw* Reverse Raffle March 22nd Check out website for details coming soon. Antique Power Farm Heritage Days April 12-13th Coming Soon! Chamber Park & Arena.

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SMITHFIELD — The Johnston County Board of Commissioners has approved two requests for local incentives in support of major investments in Clayton and Selma. Dollar General plans to assume 320,000 square feet of cold-storage space at the Carolina Distribution Center in Clayton. The move brings a $13 million capital investment by the Tennessee-based retailer and creates 105 jobs with average annual salaries of $33,280. Dollar General’s planned workforce there exceeds the number formerly employed at the facility by Smithfield Foods, which relocated its distribution operations to Bladen County last fall. “We’re excited to welcome this national retail name and the jobs and investment it intends to make in Clayton,” said Ted Godwin, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners. “Dollar General’s plans for cold storage operations here highlights several key Johnston County assets, including convenient proximity to a growing consumer base, affordability, diversified labor assets and supportive local government.” Commissioners approved a performance-based fiveyear, 50 percent grant based on Dollar General’s investment of $13 million in real and personal


property at its Clayton facility. That amounts to approximately $46,800 per year, or $234,000 over the life of the grant. All payments are predicated on the company meeting its investment and job creation targets. The Town of Selma is the site of a proposed 353acre mixed-use development that will include a commercial and industrial area known as Eastfield Business Park. AdVenture Development LLC, a full-service real estate company with offices in Selma and Pittsburgh, plans to develop one million square feet of warehouse and flex-space for industrial and office tenants at the property, which sits at the intersection of I-95 and U.S. Highway 70 (future I-42). The new industrial space is part of a much larger plan for medical office facilities, single-family and multi-unit housing, retail shops, hotels and a senior living community. The Eastfield Project will include The Shops at Eastfield, Eastfield Estates, Eastfield Park and Eastfield Village. Developers expect to invest more than $287.5 million in the initiative. Once complete, Eastfield will be home to 3,100 jobs. It will boost Johnston County’s annual GDP by $169 million, according to an economic impact analysis by Sanford Holshouser Economic

Development Consulting, LLC. “This site is uniquely positioned in the center of the county, the center of the state and the center of the Eastern seaboard,” said Kevin Dougherty, founder and president of AdVenture Development. “As we looked more closely at the site and considered all its potential, our interests turned to mixed-use and we began to think bigger.” Commissioners approved a local incentives agreement in support of the industrial phase of the Eastfield development. The property is within one of Johnston County’s four Opportunity Zones, a federal designation intended to draw private investment and job creation into low-wealth communities. The program was part of the tax reform package passed by Congress in December 2017. “We’re hopeful that Eastfield becomes a recognized model for how county and municipal governments can work with private investors under a sustainable vision for mixed-use development that brings a diverse array of new jobs, amenities, assets and opportunities,” said Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver, who also chairs the Johnston County Economic Development Advisory Committee. “This is a transformative project for the people of Selma, and the future begins today.”

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28 JCC STUDENTS SELECTED FOR ECU PIRATE PROMISE Submitted by Johnston Community College

Leeann Simons of Middlesex, left, and April Wagner, right, of Clayton, are two of the 28 future Pirates in the new dual admissions programs with JCC and ECU. They are pictured with Sydney Luyster, an ECU admissions counselor.

SMITHFIELD — Johnston Community College is pleased to announce its first cohort of dual-enrolled students selected in East Carolina University’s Pirate Promise program. Pirate Promise offers guaranteed admission after the completion of an associate degree for qualifying students. Pirate Promise is the starting point for full-time community college students to attend special events, get advising and have support as they transfer to ECU. Current JCC students selected for the inaugural Pirate Promise dual-enrolled program are: Jordan Baker of Selma, Jennifer Beltran of Clayton, Jaron Benson of Clayton, Kaitlyn Bristol of Clayton, Amber Brown of Kenly, Emma Davis of Selma, Savannah Driver of Clayton, Devin Eltz of Four Oaks, Jamie Ennis of Dunn, Miranda Evans of Micro, Kathryn Gattis of Benson, April Godwin of Kenly, Tyler Hines of Garner, Frederica James of Clayton, Adonis Kinsey of Clayton, Rachel Lee of

Smithfield, Elizabeth Letchworth of Wendell, Hailey Lewis of Clayton, Kayla Marshburn of Clayton, Shannon Parrish of Smithfield, Carolina Petersen of Clayton, Christopher Raynor of Smithfield, Katherine Reyes-Guevera of Selma, Leeann Simons of Middlesex, Sarah Staton of Kenly, Bryson Tharp of Clayton, Angel Wagner of Clayton and Peyton Wallace of Clayton. Dawn Dixon, Associate Vice President of University Studies and Educational Technologies, said ECU is a wonderful dual admission partner with JCC. “I’m excited that ECU has created a program designed to open doors and remove barriers for qualified students to continue their undergraduate education,” Dixon said. “JCC has a growing reputation for producing high quality students who strive for future success at senior institutions. Opportunities like ECU’s Pirate Promise Program provides these

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Jarod Benson is a 2007 graduate of Clayton High School. After spending five years in the U.S. Navy and then working odd jobs, he says the Pirate Promise program will give him the opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education with a goal of becoming a teacher after he completes his associate in arts degree from JCC. “When I was in high school, they didn’t have this program,” he said. “Back then you had to worry about being accepted or not, but with this program you don’t have to worry. Once you are dually-admitted, you are automatically accepted. It really takes a whole lot of stress out of the equation.” Visit for more information about dual admission at JCC and upcoming information sessions.

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Corinth Holders High School partnered with Rachel’s Challenge to equip and inspire students to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion. Photographed (from left) are Shikiya Mcknight, Teyana Hocutt, Zyonna Ware, Veda Tucker and Jahonce Howard.

WENDELL — Corinth Holders High School partnered with Rachel’s Challenge to equip and inspire students to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion. Rachel’s Challenge is based on the life and writings of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine school shootings in 1999. Through her example, Rachel’s Challenge has touched the lives of over 27 million people globally. Veda Tucker, spokesperson for Rachel’s Challenge presented to

the students and coached them on the establishment of the Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club on Thursday, Jan. 31. Rachel’s Challenge is presented to students across the country to prevent problems such as bullying, student isolation, teen suicide, discrimination and school violence. Tucker spoke on the importance of getting rid of prejudice, dreaming big, choosing positive influences, speaking with kindness and telling those you love how you feel. “Everybody wants to be loved, appreciated, and accepted,” said

Tucker. “The FOR Club is going to be a great opportunity for them to really take what we talked about today and put it to great use within the school.” Brian Johnson, Corinth Holders High Principal, encouraged students to be attentive and open minded about the message.

reaction, not only in this school but across this community. ” Student Gabrielle Miller said that she felt that Rachel’s Challenge is what the student body needed to channel the kindness that was in their hearts. “It brought out what we all have

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