July 2018

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JULY 2018 | Your Community. Your Neighbors. Your Story.

Outstanding Firefighter

Legend Award

Excellence in Arts

Dynamic Entrepreneur

Rising Star

Best Healthcare Professional

Exemplary Volunteer

Spirit of the County

Inspiring Coach

Distinguished Police Officer


It Is Especially Nice When Others Speak For Us About The Excellent Care Our Patients Receive. Even More So When It Puts Us In The Top 15% Of Hospitals In The Nation.

Alicia Carroll, second from left, of Healthgrades presents the 2018 p Outstanding Patient Experience Award to Chuck Elliott, President and CEO of Johnston Health. At far left is Dr. Peter Charvat, Chief Medical Officer, and at right is Amber Stanley, Patient Experience Specialist, and, far right, Ruth Marler, COO and Chief Nursing Officer for Johnston Health.

2018 Outstanding Patient Experience Award T TM

National Award Winning Care - Close To Home! www.johnstonhealth.org

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Announcing the Johnston Now Honors 2018 Award Recipients:

Outstanding Firefighter

Exemplary Volunteer

Distinguished Police Officer

Excellence in Arts

Michael E. Johnson

Tom Ricks

Captain Greg Percy

Jacqueline Gathers

Best Healthcare Professional

Inspiring Coach

BJ Hernandez

Cleades Sanders

Rising Star

Dynamic Entrepreneur

Morgan Lassiter

Sarah R. Coates

Legend Award

Spirit of the County

Cookie Pope

Donna Bailey-Taylor

Johnston Now Honors is Sponsored by:

JULY 2018 | 3

ON THE COVER What do you do when you have ten amazing award winners on one cover? Include them all, of course!


TEAM Volume 2, Number 8

Publisher Randy Capps


General Manager Shanna Capps


12-30 Creative Consultant Ethan Capps Advertising Consultants Jess Barbour, Gordon Becton and Morgan Tetrick Creative Director Frank Spurlock Advertising Designers Jess Barbour, Shannon Matthews and Ali Kabrich Editorial Consultants Mike Bollinger and Rebecca J. Blair 102 N. Main St., Four Oaks, N.C. 27524 919-980-5522 www.johnstonnow.com hello@johnstonnow.com Facebook.com/JohnstonNow 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. ©2018 Johnston Now. All rights reserved.








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Uncovering Johnston County’s hidden gems I had a sneaking suspicion when I sat down to start writing profiles for Johnston Now Honors that I would find some amazing stories. That’s normally a good thing, but when faced with finding room for 10 profile stories in one magazine, I was afraid that I would have to cut some remarkable stories shorter than I wanted. Boy, was I right. Randy Capps I could have written 2,000 words on Tom Ricks, and just as many on Cleades randy@johnstonnow.com Sanders. I would have loved to have spent more time on Cookie Pope’s love of fishing or Greg Percy’s affinity for the mountains. We hoped that, when Ethan came up for the idea of Johnston Now Honors, we would be able to shine a light on some unsung heroes in Johnston County. I think we did that, while also allowing you to get to know folks like Donna Bailey-Taylor and Sarah Coates a little better. Running a magazine is fun, but it’s storytelling that drew me to journalism in the first place. Learning how Jacqueline Gathers transforms from a banker into Cista Lueeeze was fun, as was getting to know Morgan Lassiter, one of our best and brightest. We now know how Michael Johnson became a firefighter, but I really wish I had the room to explore BJ Hernandez’s enthusiastic support of the Patriots. It was quite a journey for me, and I hope you enjoy reading about our award winners as much as I did writing about them.



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Grifols, Clayton native team up to tackle litter Submitted by Grifols CLAYTON — Clayton native Matthew Lloyd is only six, but he’s tackling a big enemy — litter. As part of his Clean Up Clayton movement, Lloyd has inspired people in his community to pick up trash and beautify his town. To honor his impressive efforts, Grifols named Matthew an Environmental Champion and invited him and his family to the Grifols Clayton manufacturing site for a tour and to join forces in the fight against trash. To kick off the day, Matthew and his family learned about Grifols’ mission to improve the health and well-being of people around the world and their efforts to protect the environment. Matthew and his older brother Karson then became honorary Grifols employees and received badges to make the partnership official. “Protecting our environment is a major priority for Grifols,” said David Auge, Grifols environmental affairs manager. “We’re so impressed with Matthew’s efforts to keep Clayton beautiful, and he’s a shining example that everyone can do their part to be an environmental champion.” As part of the tour, Matthew witnessed Grifols’ innovative manufacturing processes at the Sterile Filling Facility and North Fractionation Facility, the world’s largest fractionation plant. To wrap up the visit, Matthew and Karson received science kits to keep them busy during summer vacation.

Left: Matthew Lloyd, David Auge and Karson Lloyd pose for a photo. Below: Matthew and Karson Lloyd sort through their Grifols swag bags.

Benson welcomes Hampton Inn Submitted by Town of Benson

Benson celebrated the opening of the new Hampton Inn with a ribbon cutting ceremony recently. Pictured, from left, are: Benson Town Manager Matt Zapp, Johnston County Manager Rick Hester, Benson Mayor Jerry Medlin, Benson Hampton Inn General Manager Samantha Salazar, Director of Hotels Joe Cowling, Leath Co. Managing Director Adam Leath, William Massengill, Johnston County Commissioner Chad Stewart, Johnston County Visitors Bureau President Donna Bailey-Taylor and Benson Chamber Chairman Ben Cook.


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JCC to offer new dual admission program with N.C. State, East Carolina Submitted by Johnston Community College

Dr. David Johnson, JCC president, left, and Dr. Cecil P. Staton, chancellor of East Carolina University, signed a co-admission agreement that is designed to improve transfer student access and success through a collaborative degree completion program.

SMITHFIELD — Johnston Community College has approved a partnership with North Carolina State and East Carolina that will offer dual admission to students who are planning to enroll at either institution after earning an associate’s degree. The dual admission program offers a structured, guaranteed pathway for progressing directly from an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree. Students who participate in the program are considered fully admitted to JCC and conditionally admitted to either N.C. State or ECU. Successful completion of the college transfer degree program grants the student admission to the university. Admission to competitive programs is not guaranteed. The partnership includes students receiving coordinated academic advising and campus visits from NCSU and ECU representatives to ensure appropriate course work is completed and will apply toward their bachelor’s degree. Students admitted to the program will have access to NCSU and ECU online advising, financial aid support, library services and other campus programming and services. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in co-curricular activities at the senior institution. “Dual admission is an excellent approach to an affordable education and offers a strategic option to secure admissions in a highly competitive college market,” said Dawn Dixon, dean of university studies and educational technologies at JCC. “JCC is honored to be selected by N.C. State and ECU to provide the foundational courses and initial collegiate experience to the dual admission participants.” For more information about dual enrollment at JCC, please contact Dixon at dsdixon@johnstoncc.edu or visit johnstoncc.edu/agree2degree/ dualadmissionprogram/.

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NEWS FROM YO JCPS students and staff recognized at meeting Submitted by Johnston County Public Schools SMITHFIELD — The Johnston County Board of Education recognized outstanding staff members and students who demonstrated excellence in the classroom, in athletics or in the community at a recent meeting.

Governor’s School Students The Johnston County Board of Education recognized students who have been selected to attend The Governor’s School of North Carolina this summer. Front row, from left, are Clayton High student Catherine Edwards, Cleveland High student Hailey Acosta, Cleveland High student Natalie Yuzluk, Princeton High student Haylie Heller, Smithfield-Selma High student Isaac Gluchuru and West Johnston High student Carolyn Christ. Back row: Clayton High student Taylor Corpening, Clayton High student Aiyana Woldu, Cleveland High student Ryan Ayscue, SmithfieldSelma High student Emily Wooters and Corinth Holders High student Gabrielle Millder.

Science Olympiad Winners The board recognized the first-place winners of the JCPS Science Olympiad Division A (Elementary) Tournament. Students competed in 20 different events testing a wide range of science, math, engineering, creativity and problemsolving skills. The Four Oaks Elementary varsity team, recognized on the front row, from left, are Lillian Mizner, Bibiana Hernandez, Austin Outen, Jax Barbour, Thomas Price, Wesley Strickland, Elizabeth Sasser, Alex Ribar, Holden Parrish and Coach Melissa Illian. Back row: Cus Canady, Madalyn Pate, Lannah Price, Cole Norris, Jackson Norris, Lillian Sherman, Kaylee Johnson, Jana Lee and Carlie Morris.

JCPS Elementary Spelling Bee Champions The Johnston County Board of Education recognized the JCPS Elementary Spelling Bee Champions at their May Meeting. Pictured from left are: 2nd Runner-up Gannon Johnson, East Clayton Elementary student; Runner-up Arabella Trainor, West Clayton Elementary student and 2018 JCPS Elementary Champion Damen Porr, River Dell Elementary student.


OUR NEIGHBORS East-West All-Star Football Participants

The board recognized student and staff participants of the East-West All-Star Football Game. Pictured from left are: Josh Latta, assistant coach Brian Roach and running back Ethan McCray. All three participants are from Clayton High School.

Cleveland High Recognized for Global Ambassadorship The Johnston County Board of Education honored Cleveland High School for being recognized by the U.S. Department of State and the Council on International Educational Exchange for fostering intercultural understanding, friendship and peace for future generations of global ambassadors. Foreign Exchange Students attending Cleveland High who were recognized, from left, are: Austin Woods, Liana Jopp, Poopae Kongdee and Romy Sophia Andresen.

May Employees of the Month Alison Jones, left, Teaching and Learning Coach at Wilson’s Mills Elementary, was recognized as the May Certified Employee of the Month. Laura Ochoa, right, Teacher Assistant at Micro Elementary, was also recognized as the May Classified Employee of the Month.

JULY 2018 | 11


Best Healthcare Professional

BJ Hernandez

Beating back cancer with love and positivity Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Ali Kabrich

Cancer can be faced with grim determination, or it can be handled with as much love and cheer as possible. BJ Hernandez chooses the latter in her work as a nurse with Rex Hematology Oncology in Garner, and for that, she is the 2018 Johnston Now Honors Best Healthcare Professional Award winner, presented by One 80 Counseling. She was a school nurse in Johnston County, taught the Allied Health program at Clayton High and worked at WakeMed before arriving at Rex four years ago. “I just love helping people,” she said. “I love making people smile.” It’s a trait that comes in handy when working with cancer patients. “I think when you’re diagnosed with cancer, you go through all of these different emotions,” she said. “Anger, sadness, wanting to bargain — whether you believe in God or whomever you believe in. Everybody wants to bargain. ‘Why can’t I have more time? If I could see my child graduate. If I could just see my grandchild get married.’ Then they go through anger. A lot of times when they come to us for their first treatment, they’re very angry. “Even though it’s directed towards us, they’re

not mad at us. Cancer sucks. There’s no better way to say it. It’s a beast. It does not discriminate. Young and old, black, white, red, orange, purple — it wants to take whoever it can.”

She brings that to her own family as well, with her husband, Pablo, her sons, Gabe and Luke, and her dachshund, Abby.

That’s why it’s important to her that the environment is as cheerful as possible.

“I do what I do because I like to set good examples for my boys,” she said. “I always tell them respect is a two-way street. You need to show kindness to people. But I also believe that children learn more by seeing, not just by saying. If my kids see me treat people with kindness and compassion, then they’re going to have it in their hearts. And I’m watching them, and they do.

“When my patients are initially diagnosed, and they hear the dreaded chemo, I don’t want it to be a place that they dread going,” she said. “I don’t want them to hate coming in. … I want it to be fun. I want it to be happy. And we are. “We’re loud, and I’m going to make you laugh big before you leave. You may think, ‘that girl is crazy. She needs to get out of my face.’ But before you leave, I’m going to hug you. I’m going to tell you that I love you and I’m going to see you the next time you come back. I do that, because that’s how I was raised. I heard ‘I love you’ a lot. ‘I’m proud of you’ a lot. We were a very affectionate family. I’m a very in-yourpersonal-space type of person, once I get to know you. “I’m going to tell you before I leave you, or before I hang up the phone with you, that I love you. Or ‘you have a great day’ or ‘you be safe,’ because we’re not promised tomorrow. And I’ve learned that, especially since I’ve gone back into oncology.”

Part of why she has such a passion for nursing is her desire to raise her sons the right way.

“I tell them we all have to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” she said. “This is what Jesus would want us to do. This is what we have to do.” She gives all the credit for her love of nursing, and for receiving this award, to her coworkers. “I would not be sitting here today if it was not for the people I work with,” she said. “From the front desk to the medical assistants to the doctors, all the way back to us and our lab people. We all work together as a team. I’ve not worked with a group of people like this. I kind of wish we all could be up there, because without them, I wouldn’t be here. “We just flow together.”

JULY 2018 | 13

Cleades Sanders

Inspiring Coach

How $5 changed a young man’s life Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Ali Kabrich

These days, Joe Carter is the Recreation Director for Selma Parks and Recreation. Back in the late 1980s when Cleades Sanders was a wide-eyed eight year old running around Brack Wilson Park in Selma, Carter spent most of his time as a field technician. But when Sanders let him know that he wanted to play football, but his family didn’t have the money, Carter and the Selma Parks and Recreation Department made sure he was on the field when the season started. He nominated Cleades Sanders for the 2018 Johnston Now Honors Outstanding Coach Award, presented by Golden Corral. But without his generosity all those years ago, he couldn’t have won it. “Five bucks,” Sanders said. “If you think about it, they’ve got a 4 for $4 at Wendy’s. People every day get that 4 for $4 or (they) go to Zaxby’s to get that $8 salad. Five bucks actually saved my life. Five measly dollars. My mother was probably making $4.75 an hour at the time, and couldn’t afford it. “I was out there playing at Brack Wilson Park. It was like my backyard, and I got to know Joe. And Joe was like, ‘you want to play football?’ And I was like, ‘yes, but my mom can’t afford it.’ But the next day he told me if I could get up to town hall and have my mom sign the papers, (they’ll) pay for it. It all started right there. “His heart was like ‘I see no color.’ You want to play, I’m going to let you play.”


A knee injury ended his career after a standout senior season at Smithfield-Selma High in 1997 that led to him being offered a scholarship to play at Fayetteville State. He took a job at what is now Grifols, which he still holds, shortly after. But he was still a little depressed about having to give up the game. He credits his cousin, Michael Dobbins, and Carter for encouraging his start in coaching. “I just fell in love,” he said. It wasn’t easy, however. He wasn’t drawing from a deep pool of players, and the ones he had didn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents. “We used to go to Knightdale,” he said. “They called us ‘Smell-ma.’ Because we stunk. We were getting crushed. … I made my mind up, that second year, I was going recruiting. I went to parents. I played football with kids. I had kids coming from everywhere.” Selma won the championship the following season, which went a long way towards changing perceptions. “Now when we come through, there’s a lot of respect,” he said. “When they see us on the other side of that field, they already know. It’s going to be a ballgame. I went knocking on trailer park doors in Selma. Black kids, Mexican kids, whatever. … It was a blessing.” Each year, Sanders hosts a free, three-day football camp in Selma where he introduces the game to the next generation of players.

While the on-field success has been nice, Sanders is also aware of the other ways he’s affecting his players. “A lot of these kids have never been out of Johnston County,” he said. “They’ve never been to Kings Dominion or Busch Gardens. Sometimes, as people, we take stuff like that for granted. Hearing those stories, that’s the main reason I come back every year and coach. There’s always that one kid who needs help or needs attention. “When you get a ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir,’ a ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am,’ it’s great. When you can walk into a Popeyes and order a two piece, and there’s a kid back there who’s working. ‘Hey, coach! There’s my coach.’ Just the love they show. Building men is very important, because a lot of these guys don’t have fathers in their lives. Grandfathers, maybe. But I see a lot of moms dropping kids off.” Despite having no biological kids of his own, Sanders has kept coming back to the sidelines for more than 17 years. It’s a love for his players, and the pride in his hometown, that drive him. “It’s a small town atmosphere,” he said. “In Selma, football is the only sport that all of Selma comes together, and they’re not competing against each other. Basketball, baseball, soccer, they’re divided up. It’s the only time all the girls can be on one cheerleading squad. It’s the only time all the boys can be on one football field. “We’re not ‘Smell-ma’ any more. I like that.”

Selma Parks and Recreation is proud of our volunteer coaches

Congratulations to Cleades Sanders for your "Honor-able" award from Johnston Now Honors!

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CONGRATULATIONS, CLEADES! Congratulations to Cleades Sanders for receiving the Johnston Now Honors Inspiring Coach award! We are so proud to have you as part of our team at Grifols. Keep on inspiring others!

JULY 2018 | 15

Cookie Pope

Legend Award

The best way to navigate local politics? Be a good listener Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Ali Kabrich

It’s difficult to spend time serving in local politics without making a few enemies along the way. So the fact that Cookie Pope has spent 24 years on the Johnston County Board of Commissioners while remaining universally popular speaks volumes about her work on that board.

part of this, making a difference.’ I feel like the Cleveland community needed some representation, because it was the fastest growing part of the county.”

She’s not seeking re-election for her seat, so now seems like the perfect time to honor her with the 2018 Johnston Now Honors Legend Award.

“I wore out five pairs of shoes,” she said. “I knocked on every door I could find. And my mother told me that things come and evolve in 20-year periods. It was time for a change. I told people what I wanted to do. I just wanted to serve and represent the Cleveland community. Of course, when you’re elected, you represent all the people throughout the county.”

“I always tried to remember that there are people in high places, and people in low places,” she said. “I have always been accessible and I have always tried to remember that the little guy has needs, too. … And I’ve always been a good listener. That, and being fair. I’ve always thought that was important.” Pope, a legal assistant with Mast Law Firm, decided to run for office in 1994 after a school bond referendum had been defeated — and because she saw a chance to help someone. “In the Cleveland community, there was a businessman who was on one side of 42,” she said. “And he could not have county services while the other side of the road could. He was on the wrong side of the street. I remember coming back from the mailbox with that paper saying, ‘this is not right. I want to be


She is still the only woman on the board, so one can imagine how hard she had to campaign to win that first election.

When asked about that which made her most proud of her time as a commissioner, she talked about how many new schools have been built in the county in recent years. “I often tell people that one little old lady can do it,” she said. “The citizens of this county have been good to us with respect to the bonds. They have overwhelmingly supported the bonds every single time for building schools.” That giving spirit, she says, is just one of the reasons Johnston County is such a nice place to live. “Johnston County is looked at as one of the

leading boards of commissioners,” she said. “Lots of people would like to be just like our county. … We’ve got the interstate highways. We’ve got pharmaceuticals over in Clayton. We’ve got great schools. We’ve got great infrastructure. We’ve got great towns and working relationships. We do have everything. All the good stuff.” Pope is no stranger to being the only woman in a group. Her immediate family is all boys, too. She and her husband, Jackie, have three sons, four grandsons and a great-grandson. When her tenure on the board wraps up, she says she’ll spend more time gardening. She’s also excited about her new embroidery machine. That’s not all, either. “I’d really like to do some tournament fishing,” she said. “I love to trout fish, and I’d love to do some more tournament fishing. My niece and I, she caught a king mackerel and we won a tournament several years ago. I’m competitive.” Perhaps that’s why so many votes went her way as a county commissioner. “I’ve really been blessed in my lifetime,” she said. “My faith causes me to be positive and to think the best of people. And I think that carries you a long way.”

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Donna Bailey-Taylor

Spirit of the County

Helping Johnston County put its best foot forward Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Ali Kabrich

When determining the winner of the 2018 Johnston Now Honors Spirit of the County Award, presented by HomeMasters, it made sense to honor someone whose job it is to promote Johnston County. That’s why Donna Bailey-Taylor, president/ CEO of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau is an ideal choice. For the past 22 years, she has led the organization charged with attracting visitors to the county. The secret to that, she says, is in the people who live here. “We like to tell stories,” she said. “In particular, we like to showcase the people of Johnston County. If you’re going down the interstate, you have the choice to stay at any of our competitor locations. What makes us different? If you haven’t met Ray Wheeler from Atkinson’s Mill, you’re really missing out. He is the Cornbread Man of North Carolina. If you haven’t met people like Jeremy Norris, down at Broadslab. These are people who make your visit special. We like to get to know them, and write stories about them. These are interesting people who make Johnston County what it is.” From its website, the Johnston County Visitors Bureau “is the official destination marketing organization representing all visitor attractions, hotels, camping, dining, shopping, meetings, festivals and events in JoCo — all


these make up the components of the tourism industry that bring visitors to our county.” Late last year, the organization moved into a new office near Exit 95, which positions it closer to where many of the county’s visitors are staying. “We’re starting to see some visitors find us to help them with planning their stay,” she said. “We also have people who just moved to the area. A lot of people have never been to Johnston County, and they want to know more about their new home.” It’s a long way from where she started, after 12 years in the hotel business and another threeand-a-half years at the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s changed for the better,” she said. “We spent a lot of our resources at the Visitors Bureau investing in our tourism product. When I came to work here, people (would say) that we’re not a destination. That people are just driving through and going to Florida. And I said, ‘if we’re not a destination, then what are we doing here?’ “We are a destination, because we have the choice to entice people to stay here, instead of staying in Fayetteville or staying in Rocky Mount. I think people just kind of left it up to chance. Just open your door and see what

came.” While she was raised in Durham, her parents were born and raised in Johnston County. Her mother, Lector Bailey, still lives in Benson and her grandmother was one of the Benson Medlins. Her son, Trey Taylor, works as a designer in Morrisville, and her grand dog, who you may have seen on billboards promoting Benson’s Dog Park, is Zelena. “People would call my mom and say, ‘I heard Donna on the radio,’” she said. “And my daddy was clipping out all the articles in the newspapers. “I applied for this job thinking, ‘oh, I don’t have the experience for it.’ I made the first round of interviews … thinking that was as far as I’d get. Then, I made the top three. I thought, ‘well, that’s special. I made the top three.’ But I did get the offer, and I think it was because I did have family connections. That’s really important in Johnston County. It was like coming home.” More than two decades later, she’s as happy as ever. “I love what I’m doing,” she said. “My screensaver is ‘I love my job.’ Any job comes with peaks and valleys and challenges, but every day, I still love my job.”

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Distinguished Police Officer

Greg Percy

Protecting and serving with a small-town touch Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Ali Kabrich

As a captain with the Benson Police Department, Greg Percy wears plenty of hats. According to the town’s website, he is charged with completing a number of administrative tasks ranging from making schedules to payroll management. But Percy, the winner of the 2018 Johnston Now Honors Distinguished Police Officer Award, presented by OPW, still gets out of the office quite a bit. “(I enjoy) just being out and helping the public,” he said. “Not being confined to an office and stuff like that. That’s why I like the variety. Especially in the small towns where we have to wear so many hats, you never know from one day to the next what you might be doing. So, it’s never boring. “I still take reports. I respond to wrecks. I’m on call pretty much 24 hours a day, even though we have two detectives. If they have a problem, they know they can pick up the phone anytime and I’ll come out and help them. We do it all.” He’s spent most of his law enforcement career in Benson, serving there from 1996-2001 and again since 2003, but it was in Cape Hatteras where he discovered his calling. “I started my law enforcement career with the National Park Service, believe it or not,” he said. “I worked out at Cape Hatteras National


Seashore. I had a friend who was a law enforcement ranger. The first year I was there, I worked in the campground. So, I was stuck in a kiosk. “Finally, one day he took me out on patrol. And we rode the beach. He made some traffic stops, checked people fishing and stuff like that. I was like, ‘this is the coolest job ever. Who wouldn’t want to do this?’” He does it for the same reasons many police officers cite when asked — a desire to serve. “The stock answer is ‘I want to help people,’” he said. “There’s a lot of truth to that. Some people are geared just to want to help others. And that plays a part in what we do. I fell in love with it out at the seashore. And it’s not because it was the beach. I hate the beach. I’m a mountains guy.” He spent 18 months in Chapel Hill in between his two stints in Benson, where he worked in a department with 115 officers, rather than the 14 on staff in Benson. “I had an itch to work somewhere larger,” he said. “It was different. But my wife is from Johnston County, and we were living in Chatham County at the time. She missed it.” He and Darla raised three girls in Johnston County, and now have three grandchildren. “It’s been home for the last 20-plus years,” he

said. “I enjoy everything about it.” “Greg is a dedicated officer and a pleasure to work with,” Benson Town Manager Matt Zapp said. “He has a passion for his job and it shows. He’s focused on ensuring Benson continues to be a safe and welcoming community. He’s an asset to our town and we’re lucky to have him on the BPD — truly one of Benson’s finest!” The county has changed a great deal in the last two decades, and so has police work. “We have more technology now than we did back then,” he said. “When I first started, everything was paper and pencil. Now we have computers in the car and printers. You can do the entire job and never leave the driver’s seat.” Even with all of that technology, it’s still the basic things that mean the most to him. “Last week, we had two officers rescue a kitten from a storm drain,” he said. “It’s a small thing, but it’s got to make you feel good. You saved a life, even if it is a kitten. That’s what they pay us for, if you ask me.” Even after 22 years of police work, Percy still enjoys the job. “I love it,” he said. “I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. The first time (my friend) took me out and showed me what law enforcement was, I just loved it. And I still do.”

Congratulations, Greg! The Town Of Benson would like to congratulate Captain Greg Percy of the Benson Police Department on his award for Johnston Now Honors. Thank you for your many years of service protecting our community.

We would also like to congratulate local Benson residents, Donna Bailey-Taylor and Sarah Coates, on their awards as well!

Parenting: The Power of Praise

Julia Smith, LCSW

Ever have those days where you feel you are broken record? Do you find yourself repeating directions over and over, until you realize you are yelling and completely frustrated? Does your child yell back, ignore you, or do the opposite of what is asked? Many families struggle with breaking the cycle of frustration. Often times, parents do not realize the power and influence they have in helping their kids learn to listen. For the frustrated parents of the world, one initial step to breaking the cycle of negativity is through the use of labeled praise.

Labeled Praise

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Labeled Praise is the act of praising a specific behavior. Why use labeled praise? It helps tell your child exactly what you like about what they are doing or saying. What are the benefits? It causes desired and helpful behaviors to increase because your child learns to understand exactly what you like. Labeled praise also enhances self-esteem and attachment in the parent-child relationship. First Step The first step is to reflect on the “to do” behaviors you would like to see more from your child, whether it’s following directions, keeping their hands to themselves, or even starting their homework without you having to ask. Then set an intention to catch your child doing the positives and use labeled praise immediately after they demonstrate it. Labeled praise is more than just “good job” “you did great” but being specific about what you liked. Here are some examples: “I really appreciate you starting your homework on your own” “I am so proud of you for keeping your hands to yourself when you were upset” “Thank you for listening to me.” Remember to praise consistently. Global Praise In addition to labeled praise, global praise such as “I love you” “I’m so happy to have you as my child” “I’m thankful I get to be your parent” is also effective and important to ensuring your child feels your unconditional love. A parents’ attention is the most valuable thing, where labeled praise and global praise can be the first step to success in breaking the negative cycle.

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JULY 2018 | 21

Excellence in Arts

Jacqueline Gathers

Reaching people with a new kind of ministry Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Ali Kabrich

Jacqueline Gathers is the 2018 Johnston Now Honors Excellence in Arts Award winner. But so is Roloquea, a church bully. And a nononsense gospel comic named Cista Lueeeze. Confused? Don’t be. Gathers wrote “Bullies in Da Churrrssshhh,” a play featuring both Roloquea (Mother Ro-Ro) and Cista Lueeeze — and she also performs as both of the characters. “It’s a gospel comedy stage play that was written in August of 2017,” she said. “It was really a vision from God that he gave to me. It’s a play, depicting in a hilarious way, things that happen every day in churches. Bullying is not just a physical thing in our schools, in our churches and in our homes. Bullying can be very emotional. It’s that verbal bullying that scars more than physical bullying.” It’s a comedy, but there’s no mistaking the aim of her ministry. “It’s the same message that I’m portraying,” she said. “It’s just a different method. It’s still the gospel. It’s just different. … You don’t have to know my name. Just get to know my God.” The play is the story of Roloquea or “Mother RoRo.” Gathers calls her “a bully who doesn’t


want to take responsibility.”

forward and trusted Him.”

Cista Lueeeze also makes an appearance, bringing some comic relief.

And while she’s comfortable spreading the word of God in traditional ways, she gravitates towards humor.

“She’s about healing, because the Bible says that laughter brings healing,” Gathers said. “Her theme is, ‘just laugh it off, sug.’ She is a southern belle, but she shoots straight from the hip. She talks to you from the Bible but she does it in a funny way that’s practical. You can understand it and you can see yourself.” On the surface, Gathers looks very much like the working woman she is. She’s been in operations compliance for Wells Fargo for 21 years, she’s the mother of two grown sons, Tre’ and Jawan, and she’s engaged to marry Paul Woods later this year. But in addition to her stage work, she’s also an inspirational and motivational speaker, preacher, evangelist, radio host, an organizer of women’s conferences and a sponsor for boot camps for children that instill Christian values. “It wasn’t anything at all that I volunteered to do,” she said of how she got into the ministry. “I absolutely had no idea that this was inside of me. It was just a lot of dreams, a lot of confirmations that God was giving me. And when he called me out, that’s when I stepped

“I’ve always enjoyed, with my close family and my friends, putting smiles on their faces,” she said. “Just being lighthearted. We all go through a lot of things in our lives and a lot of times people wear all of that heaviness on them. I’ve always had in me to want to lighten them up a little bit.” The play has already been performed in Garner, and it’s heading to the Paramount Theatre in Goldsboro on July 21. According to Gathers, it has something for everyone. “When it comes to the love of God, the love of God is not based on color,” she said. “It’s not based on material things. It’s not based on anything that’s on the outside that we see with our natural eye. It’s all an internal thing. This gives me an opportunity to reach a really diverse audience. In my play, I have different races, different backgrounds and different cultures represented. I don’t turn anyone away, because I believe that when you embrace people with love, then the love of God flows through you, and they feel like they are somebody.”

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Michael Johnson

Outstanding Firefighter

A seed planted grows into decades of service Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Ali Kabrich

Norman Johnson served for more than 40 years with the Smithfield Fire Department, and for the last 11 years of that stellar career, he served as the town’s first full-time chief until he retired in 2003. He later served as Smithfield’s mayor from 2005-2009. “Chief” passed away in 2015, but his legacy in the firefighting community lives on in many different ways. One of those ways is through Michael Johnson, the 2018 Johnston Now Honors Outstanding Firefighter, presented by the Cleveland Firefighters Association. Johnson, who lives in Smithfield with his wife, Crystal, his daughter, Anna Francis, and his son, T.J., began his career as a volunteer firefighter in Smithfield, largely because of Chief Johnson, who was also his neighbor. “As a kid, Norman Johnson, he was my neighbor,” he said. “Seeing him leave (on calls), I just always wanted to do it. So, when I got back home from a year at college I joined. … Great guy. I went and talked to him, and he said, ‘son, you’ve got to come.’ So, it was on then.” In July 2002, he took a full-time position with Eastern Wake Fire-Rescue. He retired from


there as a full-time employee in January, but remains there in a part-time capacity. One of the reasons he decided to step away from a full-time firefighting position is the success of his companies, HomeMasters and Dirt Doctors. Balancing the demands of both can be tricky.

continuing education,” he said. “Like any other job. In every field you’re in, you have to have continuing education hours. For EMT, you have to. For Firefighter 1 and 2, you’ve got to have 240 hours a year of continuing education. For every part that you get, you’re continuously going to school to keep that certification.

“It’s definitely hard,” he said. “Having the right people working for you and helping you through it is key. Ultimately, that’s why I had to retire early. To be able to run my business that was growing at such a high rate, I had to choose. And it seemed like a good fit for me where I could still work part time and still be able to run a business.”

“So, once you join the fire service, you will be in school until the last day that you’re in it.”

One of the things that makes firefighting a demanding profession is the education required.

When asked about what advice he’d have for aspiring firefighters, Johnson went back to the books.

A beginning firefighter starts with the basics, Firefighter 1 and 2, before moving on to other certifications like Emergency Medical Technician, driver operator, HAZMAT or Swift Water Rescue. “Every year, you have to have so many hours of

All of that studying is worth it for Johnson, however. “(I enjoy) giving back to the community,” he said. “Serving the citizens. Helping them when they need you. It’s a good feeling knowing that you can be there for them.”

“The way things have changed now, definitely do well in school,” he said. “Work hard, get good grades and get a college education. Education is key. If you want to be a lieutenant, a captain or a fire chief one day, you have to have that college degree.”

Congratulations, Michael! Congratulations to Michael E. Johnson for winning Outstanding Firefighter.

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Morgan Lassiter

Rising Star

Quietly paying it forward Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Ali Kabrich

Morgan Lassiter just wrapped up an impressive career at South Johnston High School, where she graduated in the top 10 percent of her class. But it was her volunteerism that made her such a good choice for Johnston Now Honors Rising Star for 2018, presented by the Johnston Community College Foundation. She spends time working in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms at Four Oaks Elementary, handling everything from working with students and checking their work to running errands around campus. “I want to see how the children are happy, and how they get to know each other,” she said. “I wish I was in their shoes again.” Meredith Fordham, who teaches at FOES and has worked with Lassiter in her classroom, said the following in her nomination: “She is well known for being responsible, reliable, friendly and outgoing. She is well respected throughout our school for her organization in getting things done and most importantly for her willingness to volunteer wherever there is a need. Throughout the time I’ve known her, she has shown me time and again that she is a positive, mature teenager with amazing potential.” Fordham is also the president of the Junior Women’s League of Smithfield, and Lassiter


helped that organization with its annual Touch-A-Truck event. “I was Anna from ‘Frozen,’” she said. “It was fun. We got to see all the kids, and they would all run up and hug me. They actually think you’re (the character). Seeing how they react when you just come up and talk to them. It was fun.” In addition to her work with younger children, Lassiter is a member of the National Honor Society, Trojan Ambassadors, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Spanish Honor Society. She also finds time to take clogging, tap and other dance classes at Alicia’s School of Performing Arts — where she again helps to teach the younger dancers. And if that wasn’t enough, she also volunteers with Special Olympics, Miracle League and at her church, Stones Creek Advent Christian. “Time management,” she said, when asked how she manages such a busy schedule. “That’s what helps me the most. From Power at school, and when I get home, I have a little time. Then I go (do things) and come back, and stay up late nights, too.” Her mother, Carol Lassiter, teaches at FOES and her father, Stanton, runs the family farm. But Morgan is going her own way when she leaves for Campbell this fall.

She’s planning to major in Biology Pre-Physical Therapy with an eye on becoming a Physical Therapist. Since she’s so used to managing her day-to-day tasks, it isn’t surprising to learn that Lassiter has a plan for her undergraduate work in Buies Creek. “I took my (Certified Nurse Aid) certification,” she said. “So, I’m CNA certified. I’ll be able to get a job in that and go towards the science route to become a physical therapist.” Her mother describes her as “a homebody,” and that might have helped shape her decision to attend Campbell. “It’s home town,” she said. “It’s close. It’s small. I don’t like humongous crowds and big cities.” So, while there may be some similarities between her college life and her high school days, she’s still going to miss being a Trojan. “(I’ll miss) just being a part of it,” she said. “And the teachers. How they’re there to help you with anything you need. How they support you.” If you ask her principal, Dr. David Pearce, South will miss her as well. “Morgan is a kind, caring and well rounded young lady,” he said. “You will always find her with a smile and a willingness to help others anyway she can. She is a model student and we are proud to call her a Trojan.”

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Sarah Coates

Dynamic Entrepreneur

Meeting a need while managing a booming business Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Ali Kabrich

Back in 2007, Sarah Coates founded One 80 Counseling in Garner. She was the lone employee and, as she puts it, was just “dabbling” in private practice. Nine years later, she just hired her 30th therapist for the practice that now has locations in Garner and Cary. It’s that growth, and her company’s dedication to facing Johnston County’s mental health challenges, that led to her being named the 2018 Johnston Now Honors Dynamic Entrepreneur Award, presented by KS Bank. It’s the second local award for the company in 2018 after it was named the Cleveland Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in February. “That’s one of my passions,” she said of meeting the county’s need. “Not just running this company and hiring just the highest quality of therapist to help people in our community, but also I’m very passionate about squashing the stigma of mental health. People don’t seek the help they need for a number of reasons. You would think in this day and age, you would think that it’s more easily accessible. But there’s a stigma, so people feel embarrassed. They get called ‘crazy’ by family members or friends. “My belief is that every single person walking around needs counseling. Because we all need to connect with someone else. … Just a listening ear.”


Coates, after earning a Masters from Campbell, began as a school counselor before One 80 Counseling came into being. In 2011, when the company was still its infancy, her husband’s family business closed. That left him out of a job with her only working some of the time. Bradley and Sarah decided to switch roles, and she went to work to take the company to the next level. “I’m a very faith-based person,” she said. “I just think that God used that timing — his door closing to open up my doors. It’s just boomed from there. It just keeps growing.” Like any small business that suddenly becomes not-so-small, there were some growing pains. “As a business owner, sometimes you’re wearing 20 different hats,” she said. “So, when we were much smaller, I wore all of the hats. Thankfully, as we’ve grown, I’ve been able to hire a practice manager and a billing person and some front desk people. Some administrative people to help me. … You have to, because it frees you up to do the things you’re talented in.” That includes sometimes recruiting family members, too. In One 80 Counseling’s early days, Coates’ mother actually kept the books. Today, as the company has grown to be one of the area’s largest mental health and substance abuse private practices, that’s no longer necessary.

“I feel like most of the time, I’m not really driving this train,” she said. “I feel very humbled and honored that God has taken something, an idea I had, and really blessed it. I’m very humbled by that, because sometimes, I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.” She does know, however, the importance of surrounding herself with capable employees. “People are therapists, or they’re business people,” she said. “I’m probably a better business person than I am a therapist. I’m OK at therapy. People like me enough. But I don’t have all these specialized skill sets that some of my therapists that work for me do. They’ve got all these specialized trainings, and it’s awesome. So, I’ve been able to pull them together and let them do the really awesome therapy and I just kind of oversee it.” And Coates believes, as impressive as One 80 Counseling’s growth has been, there’s more to come. “I know we’re leaders in the mental health field, especially in Johnston County,” she said. “There’s really no other place like what we do in Johnston County. There are certainly some other therapists and practices, but they’re smaller scale. And that’s OK, too. Because we were there once. I could hire 30 more therapists tomorrow, and we would still need more.” Coates lives in Benson with her husband and daughters, Emma Grace, 10, and Charlotte, 7.

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Tom Ricks

Exemplary Volunteer

Serving to meet needs, inspire others Story by Randy Capps | Photos by Jess Barbour

Tom Ricks is not 79 years old. He’s better described as 79 years young. The proof of that lies in his readily apparent passion and spirit, as well as the laundry list of volunteer and charitable work he does around the county, and for those efforts, he is the Johnston Now Honors Exemplary Volunteer for 2018, presented by Carolina Comfort Air. He picks up and delivers food for food pantries in Four Oaks, Smithfield and Clayton each week, and for good measure, helps to glean produce from area farms to add to those pantries. He does the same with donated clothes and jewelry through Serve the Need, helping get those items to organizations like Harbor and the Salvation Army. Toss in a healthy amount of mission work for Horne Memorial United Methodist Church and his tireless work for Rise Against Hunger, and you’ll begin to see the impact Ricks has every day. If you ask him, though, he’s just doing his part. “If I didn’t do it, whatever I’m doing wouldn’t get from A to B for the recipient, C, to get it,” he said. “The mission statement for Serve the Need is ‘improving the lives of others through service and collaboration.’ That covers a lot of ground.” He’s been covering that ground in Johnston


County for decades, and that lifetime of service dates back to a letter he received in December 1956. He had just finished a standout football career in Durham when the Durham Sun honored him with the Thom McAn Trophy. On Dec. 21, he received a letter from Ward Melville, Chairman of the Board for the shoe company. It reads, in part, “In work and play, give your best. Always help the other fellow and love your country and your God.” “What was said in there is what my life is about,” Ricks said. “Compared to many people, like my wife (Lois Stephenson), I had a golden spoon in my life. Not that my family was rich at all, but we didn’t have the problems that some had. We were in the middle. … It’s tied into where your heart is. And letting God work in your life.” The obvious results of volunteer work would be enough for most people, but Ricks sees his work as a way of leading others to service, too. “If you don’t ask people, and you don’t provide that little (push) to get them going, they can do nothing just as easily,” he said. “I’m just a representative of those many people who help out. … Walkin’ the walk and talkin’ the talk. And let people see what they will and do what they will from it. That’s the reason I call myself a seed planter. That’s what I try to do. And it probably has a broader effect than I have any

idea about.” That seems likely, though it doesn’t take Ricks long to steer a conversation with a reporter back to his passion of inspiring others to follow his example. “God can only work through us if we have an open heart,” he said. “If you want to know if your heart is open or not, or to the degree it is, do something for somebody else. If you do, you’ll receive a blessing. And that blessing is that you’ll understand how it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” This isn’t Ricks’ first award for volunteerism. He was Clayton’s Rotarian of the Year in 2013, and in that same year he was honored with the Frances Finch Hobart Award for Voluntary Community Service, in part for his efforts for Clayton’s Community Sit-Down Thanksgiving meal. Winning awards for his charitable work is way down on Ricks’ list for reasons for doing it. But, even while he’s being honored, he has an eye on how it might move others to action. “I hope … some people would say, ‘hey, look at what he did. I know him’ or ‘I can do that, too,’” he said. “I hope that’s what the result is. … It’s about what one individual can do that creates a ripple that can create a wave. And create a spirit change in people. That’s what I’m hoping we can accomplish.”

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Johnston Health honors wound care nurse as Ambassador of the Month Submitted by Johnston Health

At center, Chuck Elliott congratulates Teresa “Teri” Smith on being named Johnston Health Ambassador of the Month. At left is Angela Fortson, director of wound care, and at right is Tracey Carson, an administrative director of patient care services.

SMITHFIELD — Teri Smith, an inpatient wound nurse, has been named Johnston Health Ambassador of the Month. During a presentation, CEO Chuck Elliott said Smith stands out because she takes the time to listen to patients, and involves them in problem-solving. “She is calming, kindhearted and compassionate,” he said. “She makes sure that patients understand their treatment plans.” Smith worked in banking for many years before deciding to return to school to become a nurse. She picked the year that her daughter, Pamela, graduated from high school so that they could


enroll at the same time. She went to East Carolina University; and Smith went to Beaufort County Community College. Smith says she lost her husband 18 years ago to a sudden wound infection. And while he was being treated in an ICU, she bonded with the nurses and felt inspired by their work. “That’s when I saw nursing as a meaningful, important job. I wanted to be that kind, compassionate nurse,” she said. Angela Fortson, director of wound care, said Smith is always looking for ways to improve patient care. “She shares her knowledge with staff and

physicians so that many patients can benefit,” she said. “Improving outcomes is what matters most to her.” Smith gives credit to her coworkers at Johnston Health Therapeutic Wound Center. “They’re the backbone of our success with inpatient wound care. We coordinate our recommendations with their knowledge and experience with wounds,” she said. Smith lives north of Smithfield. In addition to her daughter and son-in-law, she has two “very special” grandchildren.

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 Monthly

NAMI support groups The Johnston County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers monthly support groups for those suffering with mental illness and their families. Regular meetings are held in Clayton, Selma and Smithfield. For more information, contact Richard Callahan at 919-464-3572 or email namijcnc@gmail.com.

Weekly through August 24

Rush Hour Karting Academy Summer Camp Check out a high-octane summer experience for kids ages 8-14. During the first half of each day, campers will learn about proper passing, racing lines, racing theory and etiquette and sportsmanship before they ride. Once learned drivers will hop into their junior karts and put these new skills to the test. During the second half of the day, campers will enjoy team building activities, crafts, basketball, football, soccer, games, wall-climbing and event inflatables. Cost is $250 per week, and for more information, visit rhkfun.com.

Every Monday, 6-8 p.m. and Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

First Thursday, noon and third Monday, 6 p.m.

Kiwanis Club of Clayton Cleveland Draft House, U.S. 70 Business The newly formed Kiwanis Club of Clayton serves the community with emphasis on school youth Kiwanis programs. They advise two local high school KEY clubs (Kiwanis Educating Youth) and meets twice 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.

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.

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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 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 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.

FEBRUARY 2017 | Your Communit


DECEMBER 2016 | Your Community. Your Neighbors. Your Story. JANUARY 2017

y. Your Neighbors.



| Your Community.


Your Neighbors.

Your Story.



Your Story.

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.

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 919773-8448 for more information.

Selma’s All-American Festival Celebrate our nation’s birthday in Selma for a family-fun event featuring live entertainment, a variety of vendors, special events and one of the best fireworks displays in Johnston County.

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 retiredones@earthlink.net.

Wednesday, July 4, 7 a.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 at the new open mic night in 2018. For more information, call 919-337-5345.

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.

Smithfield’s Independence Day celebration Smithfield will hold its annual Independence Celebration in the 100 block of South Third Street. Entertainment will be provided by UBU The Band with face painting, games and activities, eight food trucks (815 Gourmet Grill, All-American Food Truck, Hibachi Xpress, The Humble Pig, Kona Ice of Johnston County, Kono Raleigh, LuGia’s Ice Cream on Wheels and Tacos Costa Grande) and a fireworks display at 9 p.m.

Tuesday, July 3, 5 p.m.

Third Friday

Fourth Friday of the month, 7-9 p.m.

Sunday, July 1, 6 p.m.

Cleveland Area July 4th Celebration The Oakland Church pancake breakfast starts at 7 a.m. and the parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. The Cleveland Firefighters Association BBQ sale is set for noon, and community softball games will start at 1 p.m. There will be vendors and live entertainment from 4-9 p.m., and the fireworks show is set for 9:15. For more information, call the Cleveland Fire Department at 919-989-1909.

Wednesday, July 4, 3 p.m.

Benson’s July 4th Celebration Join the Town of Benson for a 4th of July Celebration in the Benson Singing Grove. Festivities will begin at 3 p.m. with opening ceremonies and entertainment from the band Lawless, the Cross County Scuffers and the band The Attractions. Spare Change will also performing at 6 p.m. There will be classic cars on display and you can enjoy a variety of refreshments as well. Fireworks will begin at 9 p.m. on Hwy 301 near Carlie C’s IGA.




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Wednesday, July 4, 4 p.m.

Clayton’s Independence Day celebration Check out the Independence Day Celebration in Municipal Park in Downtown Clayton. Activities start at 4 p.m. and include free family field games, free ice cream and much more. Also look out for food vendors, a cornhole tournament, inflatables and fair rides, bingo and raffles throughout the night.

Wednesday, July 4, 5 p.m.

Pine Level’s Independence Day celebration The towns celebration is set for Sam Godwin Park on U.S. 70A. Activities will include games, food, inflatables and fireworks after dark. For more information, go to pinelevel.org.

Wednesday, July 4, 6 p.m.

Kenly’s Fourth of July Celebration Come out to Kenly 95 Petro and check out Kenly’s annual celebration, featuring family-friendly entertainment from Jim Earp before the fireworks light up the sky over I-95.

Friday, July 6, 7:30 p.m.

Brien Barbour - Live at Simple Twist Taproom Barbour’s roots run deep in Johnston County. His family came to Elevation in 1756, and he has been playing guitar and singing since the tender age of 8. For more, visit facebook. com/SimpleTwistTaproom or call 919-934-1033.

Saturday, July 7, 9 a.m.

Riders 4 Rescue Shelton’s Harley-Davidson, Smithfield Win a 2001 Harley-Davidson Sportster at the inaugural Riders 4 Rescue event at Shelton’s Harley-Davidson on July 7. Ride registration starts at 9 a.m., Sixteen Penny hits the stage at 1 p.m. and bike drawing is at 3. Proceeds will benefit Paw Project Community Outreach. For more, visit pawprojectnc.com.

July 9-13

Horne Memorial UMC Vacation Bible School Save the Date for Horne Memorial UMC’s 2018 Vacation Bible School. Registration will begin mid-May on the Horne Children’s Page at horneumc.net/ministries/childrensministry/. The theme this year is “Shipwrecked, Rescued by Jesus.”

July 11-15

Bethel Orginial Free Will Baptist Church Vacation Bible School Vacation Bible School, with a “Game On” theme, will be held at Bethel OFWB Church on July 11-15. Registration and dinner will be held from 6:15-7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, at the church Fellowship Hall. VBS will run from 6:15-9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday nights, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. until Noon on Sunday. For more information, contact Lauren Parker at 919-608-5235 or Kevin Massengill at 919-868-6158.

Saturday, July 14

Cottontown 7s Rugby Festival East Clayton Community Park The Clayton Rugby Football Club invites you to a day filled with entertainment, food trucks and, of course, rugby. Visit claytonrfc.com for more details.

Thursday, July 19, 6 p.m.

Beach Music Series – The Entertainers The Farm at 42, Selma Join the Entertainers for the 2018 Beach Music Series on The Farm at 42. This concert series will be held indoors, and the show starts at 6:30 p.m. Food trucks will be on site. Tickets can be purchased in advance for only $10 (including taxes and fees) or at the door if not sold out. For more information, visit thefarmnc.com/index.cfm/page/live-music.

July 22-26

Vacation Bible School Benson Baptist Church The theme is “Rolling River Rampage: Experience the ride of a lifetime with God!” and VBS will run from 6:30-9 p.m. each night. For more information, email reneemcgee2015@yahoo. com.

Monday, July 23, 6 p.m.

Clayton Comet Football Camp Kids ages 5-15 (first through rising eighth graders) are invited to come out for the Clayton Comet Football Camp on July 23-25 from 6-8 p.m. each day. The cost is $50,and to sign up, visit bitly.com/cometfootballcamp. For more information, call coach Hunter Jenks at 919-550-4064.

Saturday, July 14, 10 a.m.

River Rat Regatta Smithfield Boat Ramp, Market Street Kicking off with a ribbon cutting for the recently improved boat ramp, the River Rat Regatta is a two-person team race in cardboard boats made only of cardboard, glue and duct tape from the boat ramp to Town Commons. There will be awards for fastest boat, best decorated and most memorable sinking. For more information, visit www.downtownsmithfield.com.


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