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Mark Mathews | The Daily Herald

KIPP Gaston Executive Director Tammi Sutton, right, helps senior DeVon Kee during study hall.

Chartering a sense of education KIPP Gaston continues to grow following school’s Roanoke Valley launch in 2001


by Mark Mathews

IPP charter schools were founded in 1994 with a school in Houston and another in New York City. By 1999, the schools were among the best performing in their respective communities. Gaston Middle School teachers Tammi Sutton and Caleb Dolan were approached about beginning a KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) in Atlanta, but the plan was changed.

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“We wanted to do it here,” Sutton, KIPP founder and executive director, said. “We opened the school in Gaston for fifth graders in 2001 and added a grade each year.” The school was the first KIPP program in a rural area. Today, the number of KIPP schools throughout the nation has grown to 125. Sutton, a University of North Carolina Greensboro graduate, began her teaching career at Gaston Middle School in the fall of 1996 and remained until KIPP opened in the fall

of 2001. The results at KIPP have been amazing. Despite receiving less money per pupil than ordinary public schools, the Gaston charter school’s results have surpassed surrounding-area school systems and the state average. The first class of students was well behind grade level academically when the school opened, but within two years the students had surpassed their peers, not only in the Roanoke Valley, but also throughout most of the state, Sutton said.

Education Every 2012 KIPP graduate was accepted by a four-year college. Teachers have their cell phones on until 10 p.m. for students needing help with school work. “We raised the bar for our students,” Sutton said. “The bar set by the state is misleading. Just because you meet the state requirements does not mean you are ready for college. We test our students to see how they compare, not only on the state and local level, but also how they compare nationally.” The kindergarten class has already received training in Spanish. A far cry from their parents who likely did not take a foreign language course until high school, if at all. Though KIPP’s academic success has been well noted, athletics and other extra-curricular activities, such as band, are part of the KIPP experience. Sutton was a good high school basketball player in Fayetteville and went on to coach championship girls basketball teams at Gaston Middle School. “We want to make sure students discover and pursue their passions,” Sutton said. “Whether it’s the trombone, soccer or basketball. In athletics, it’s not all about wins and losses. The lessons learned build character, stronger students and better people.” In a technology driven society, KIPP is pushing to integrate new technology for its students. With more than 500 students on the waiting list to get into KIPP, a new KIPP school in Halifax County has been proposed. Sutton would like to see the plan come to fruition. “It would allow students on the waiting list to get into a KIPP program,” Sutton said. “It would also bring more KIPP teachers into the area to bounce ideas off of. It would be another support network. Since we started, we are always trying to get better, whether it’s building a grade or a school. A new KIPP school in Halifax (County) would only help.”

Mark Mathews | The Daily Herald

Gaston College Prep eighth graders at work in history class.

Stacia Bailey, top, and Keivoshia Alston work with computers. At right: Bernadette Duke, middle, raises her hand in class. Also pictured are Allison Rubel, left, Kelsy Hester and Tammi Sutton, standing. Mark Mathews | The Daily Herald

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Technology learning starts early Belmont principal Kelvin Edwards’ roots are in Roanoke Valley By Mark Mathews


Mark Mathews | The Daily Herald

Fourth grader Joshua Pittman, right, recently explains what he has learned in class to Belmont Elementary School principal Kelvin Edwards.

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rom student, teacher to administrator in Roanoke Valley school systems, Belmont Elementary School principal Kelvin Edwards has seen it all when it comes to education. The 1984 Northampton County High School-East graduate said the students are ahead of those when he was in school. “Students in kindergarten are already using iPads,” Edwards said. “Third graders are already learning algebra. When I was in school, students did not take algebra until high school.” The biggest influence for Edwards deciding on a career as an educator came from his father Rudolph V. Edwards, who was a vice principal at Northampton County-East, and his mother, Zelia Caroline Edwards, who became the principal at Northampton County High School-West. Elementary school principal is not the only position held by Edwards, a 1988 North Carolina A&T graduate. Edwards also serves on the Northampton County Board of Education, a position he has served since 2010. Edwards said the mission

‘The curriculum requires us to interact more with the child. We are becoming learners ourselves. The transition to the curriculum requires us to dig deeper so the students become 21st century learners.’ Kelvin Edwards Belmont Elementary School principal Mark Mathews | The Daily Herald

Belmont Elementary School second graders work on a bank of computers as part of their daily routine.


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Mark Mathews | The Daily Herald

Kaye Allen’s fourth graders work with a smart board.

First graders Jamauri Watson and Isiah Pillai learn how to use new technology from instructor Julie Youngblood. Mark Mathews | The Daily Herald

Belmont principal Kelvin Edwards said it is an exciting time in education.

Mark Mathews | The Daily Herald

has not changed for educators, but the way the students are taught is changing. North Carolina schools are under the Common Core in North Carolina essential standards curriculum model, which requires more interaction with students and produces better results. With technology ever-changing, it has forced educators to become students, as well. “The curriculum requires us to interact more with the child,” Edwards said. “We are becoming learners ourselves. The transition to the curriculum requires us to dig deeper so the students become 21st century learners.” Edwards said athletics play an important role in a well-rounded education. Studies have shown student athletes on average do better in the classroom than their peers and are more likely to graduate. Edwards coached football and basketball in Warren County, Southeast Halifax and Weldon before moving into administration. As a basketball player at Northampton-

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East, Edwards learned a valuable lesson he follows to this day. For one game, many of his basketball teammates were suspended by coach Tony Herman before playing against the league juggernaut Southeast Halifax, leaving the

‘Our goal as educators is to ultimately graduate students and have them be ready for college and careers.’ Kelvin Edwards Belmont Elementary School principal Rams with only six players. “Under coach Herman, you had to do the right thing if you wanted to play for him,” Edwards said. “Six of us did, the others didn’t. He told us we could overcome the loss of the players who were suspended

and we did. We won the game. Coaches like Herman and John Parker always preached we had to get an education. They were more than coaches. “They were mentors.” Edwards modeled much of how he coached from what he learned from his high school coaches. Though Edwards believes athletics are a valuable tool in education, the classroom is where it begins for students. Smart boards, kuno tables and iPads are a few of the newer tools used by educators to teach students, and the technology is rapidly changing at a rate never seen before. “It is an exciting time in education,” Edwards said. “Dr. Sawyer’s (Roanoke Rapids Graded Schools superintendent) visionary leadership with the technology component has students accelerating in learning. It is making students college and career ready. Our goal as educators is to ultimately graduate students and have them be ready for college and careers.”


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Individual Support Services provided to enable eligible

adults 18 years of age and older to live independently as they remain in their own homes and in their community. The services may also be used to transition individuals from a licensed facility to an independent residence. These services provide assistance with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) including: • • • • • • •

Preparing meals Managing money Shopping for household necessities Accessing the community Using the telephone Housecleaning Laundry, Etc.

Day Supports/Day Activity Services provide assistance with acquisition, retention, or improvement in self-help, socialization and adaptive skills. Day Support services focus on enabling the individual to attain or maintain their maximum functional level and are coordinated with any physical, occupational, or speech therapies listed in the Individual Support Plan. Daily activities are provided in a bright, open, pleasant setting for individuals who will benefit from being out of the home a few hours per day about 5 days per week.

Even before receiving services, determining eligibility for services can be complicated so let BriteSmilz help walk you through the system. Once a person is determined to be eligible for services, staff will happily assist/support the participant in meeting their service needs.

Caring, committed, experienced staff

help each individual to thrive … not just survive. They involve and motivate participants to extend and involve themselves in activities which will stimulate the mind, soothe the spirit, please the heart, and give the person a Bright Smile. Contact BriteSmilz if you or someone you know is in need of either of the services described above.

LET BRITESMILZ HELP YOU! Visit the office at 1165 Gregory Dr., Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870 CARF Accredited


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Board certified effort part of Shoulars’ drive By JACQUELINE HOUGH


alifax County Schools teacher Sandra Shoulars sees technology as the driving force for her profession in the future. A third grade teacher at Pittman Elementary School, she is in her 10th year teaching in the district. Recently, Shoulars earned her National Board Certification — the highest level of advanced teaching credential in the profession. She is seeing a lot of precise instruction tailored to meet the individual needs of each student to ensure they are wellprepared for their futures. “I believe that technology is going to be the driving force in my profession,” said Shoulars, of Roanoke Rapids. “Students everywhere will be taking online classes, using tablets and interactive textbooks instead of hard copy textbooks, and become participants in a global learning community.” She doesn’t see instruction limited to students here in the Roanoke Valley. “Not only will teachers instruct their students who are present in their school building, but also they will be able to instruct students in China, Japan and other countries; thus breaking global educational barriers,” Shoulars said. Pittman Elementary School Principal Mona Gilliam said technology will play a big role, not in terms of what it is but

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how it is used. Gilliam said it will be used to enhance instruction and learning particularly in the area of critical thinking and problem solving. And, she added, technology will be used in careers that don’t exist right now. “It will go into many facets using it as an informational highway to support entrepreneurship education,” Gilliam said. To ensure students are prepared for the 21st century and beyond, Shoulars believes it will take everyone — teachers, parents and community members — doing their part. And the Common Core standards are a big factor for the future. “The standards are aligned in many states to ensure all students are receiving a quality education,” she said. It will teach children how to use their knowledge and acquired skills to think critically. “They need to apply knowledge on a daily basis to real-life situations so they can better retain information learned,” she said. Shoulars noted students need to be able to collaborate, communicate and share their ideas daily. Shoulars feels she and other teachers have the same goal: Wanting students to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to compete against students all over the world.

Jacqueline Hough | The Daily Herald

Third grade teacher Sandra Shoulars sees technology as the driving force for education in the future.

Looking to the future was part of the motivation for her becoming a National Board Certified teacher. “I enjoy teaching and I strive to be the best in whatever it is that I set forth to do,” Shoulars said. Her sister, Angela Sneed Randolph, is also National Board Certified and inspired her. Shoulars is a product of Halifax County Schools and graduated from Northwest Halifax High School in 1999. In 2003, she graduated Cum Laude from Elizabeth City State University and began her teaching career at Pittman as a second grade teacher. Shoulars is the granddaughter of the late Arthur and Mary Graham and Roy and Virginia Sneed.

“I have an incredible mother, Linda Sneed, and a phenomenal father, the late Samuel Sneed, who have always supported me and taught me to be the best that I can be,” Shoulars said. She is married to Travis Shoulars and has two children — Michaela and Travis Shoulars Jr. Shoulars is very proud to be a product of Halifax County Schools and she was able to come back and educate children. “There are some awesome people in Halifax County Schools (teachers and students) who make a difference every day, but who are oftentimes overlooked,” she said. “I want to instill in children that no matter where you come from, you can achieve great things!”

Jacqueline Hough | The Daily Herald

Pittman Elementary School third grade teacher Sandra Shoulars, right, gives some paperwork to Principal Mona Gilliam.

Jacqueline Hough | The Daily Herald

In January, Halifax County Schools teacher Sandra Shoulars, right, was honored at the board of education meeting for earning her National Board Certification. With her is Linda Bulluck, assistant superintendent of operations and personnel.

Superintendent Dr. Elie Bracy III: Weldon adjusting to common core approach By Jonas Pope IV

W Jacqueline Hough | The Daily Herald

Superintendent Dr. Elie Bracy III stands amongst Roanoke Valley Early College students.


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eldon City Schools is a system on the rise, according to Superintendent Dr. Elie Bracy III, who likes the direction the schools in his district are headed. Weldon, like every other school district in the state, recently adopted the Common Core practice, which was established in North Carolina to make sure schools in the state are on par with other school

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Education districts across the United States. Bracy admitted the practice is a challenge, having been just established before the start of the school year, but is confident the teachers in his system will make the most of it. “If teachers have been providing good teaching and learning has been taking place,” Bracy said, “then it is nothing new. But it is going to pull everybody up to standard who has not been doing what they needed to be doing.” Bracy would have liked more time to get teachers prepared, but he does like what it stands for and the possibilities in his district. Bracy said it was hard to say if more programs like the Common Core would be considered in North Carolina, but added a lot of decisions would be made this summer from the higher-ups in Raleigh. As for Weldon, Bracy likes the future of education in his district. Enrollment numbers at Weldon City Schools have been low, but he is optimistic it is turning around. “I think the numbers are stabilizing,” he said. “It may be up or down five students or so. We have the Roanoke Valley Early College, which is

bringing in students from other areas and of course that has helped maintain whatever loss we had. That has helped us increase in some areas across the board. It has been pretty stable the past three years.” Bracy added he and his staff are looking at innovative programs that would “make Weldon City Schools attractive to parents outside of our (school district).” “We have some parents who want to come to the district because they see the progress we have made the last six or seven years,” he said. Weldon is one district that accepts students from outside its district to attend. One of the things the board of education is looking to do soon is beef up the curriculum at Weldon Middle School. They are in the early planning stages of it, and Bracy said they are planning on putting a pre college curriculum in the middle school. That would fit perfectly into the district, going right along with the Early College set up on the campus of Halifax Community College. The Early College has been around four years and started with a group of seventh and eighth graders. The select

group of students have been taking classes at HCC and when they graduate from high school, they will already have an associate degree and two years of transferable college credit. Currently there are no middle school students at the Early College, only students in grades ninth through 11th. Bracy said they are looking for around 50 incoming freshman to be part of the Early College. “Our juniors now are on track to graduate and receive their high school diplomas on a Friday,” Bracy said, “and on that Saturday get their associate’s. When they go to any institutions in the UNC system, they will not be the traditional freshmen.” Bracy has overseen a lot of positive programs in Weldon City Schools and is optimistic more are on the way. Many want to know, what is the next move for the successful superintendent? “There are a lot of opportunities,” he said. “But for right now, there are some things I have on my list that I want to accomplish here. Once I do that, whatever it takes to get that done, I am going to be here and be focused to do what I need to do to get Weldon where it needs to be.”

Jacqueline Hough | The Daily Herald

Superintendent Dr. Elie Bracy III said Weldon is one public school district that accepts students from outside its district to attend.

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Roger Bell | The Daily Herald

Glenda Thompson, left, speaks with KapStone Kraft Paper Woodyard Maintenance Planner Jimmy Duke after checking on crane cables in the mill’s yard.

A voice among the trees KapStone’s Glenda Thompson is a leading advocate through the Pulp and Paperworkers’ Resource Council


By Roger Bell

lenda Thompson always wanted to make a living working on things. Thompson, 39, a 1992 graduate of Halifax Academy, grew up in Gaston, two and a half miles from the KapStone Kraft Paper Corporation mill. She now lives two and a half miles from the mill but five miles from her Gaston home, in Roanoke Rapids. Working at the mill as a maintenance me-

chanic fits her personal inclinations well. “I’ve always been mechanically inclined,” Thompson said. “Growing up, (my grandfather), when he was getting ready to throw out old appliances, would keep them because he knew I wanted to take them apart.” After high school graduation, Thompson worked at Computers Plus and Telpage, but then returned to school, obtaining associate degrees in electronics and industrial systems technology from Halifax Community College, as well as a diploma in welding.

A job at Georgia Pacific in Skippers, Va., followed, but Thompson applied for a job at KapStone, which was then a mill for International Paper, but then turned it down originally because the mill was in the process of being sold. When KapStone took over the mill, Thompson came to work in the woodyard, starting in May 2006, and she’s very happy she did. “I love it here,” Thompson said. “People pay to jack themselves up in the air 60 feet, but here they pay me to do it.”


Glenda Thompson

Working on equipment heavy and small suits Thompson very well, and she loves her job so much she’s fighting to protect it. To that end, she’s an active member of the Pulp and Paperworkers’ Resource Council, an organization dedicated to protecting the jobs of those in forestry products, including workers such as those at the KapStone mill. “What people don’t understand about mill workers is, we’re environmentalists,” Thompson said. “We want clean air and clean water. It’s the extreme environmentalists we have to fight against.” Thompson, who serves as Northeast Region Special Projects Director and the Southeast Region Secretary for the council, said the group spends time meeting with members of Congress in order to keep regulations from getting out of hand. Recently, Thompson went to Washington to talk to legislators about Bio-Preferred labeling, which only touches on markets more recent than 1972 and actually leads to the federal government buying paper products from overseas rather than from American mills. “Because of this, we (taxpayers) are actually paying the federal government to ship our jobs overseas,” Thompson said. Thompson also said the council is actively supporting a change in the future of trucking,

lobbying Congress to approve adding additional axles to traditional trucks, which would allow each truck to carry 17,000 more pounds, meaning fewer trucks on the roads and less fuel without impacting the truck’s footprint on the road. Thompson’s activism has made her a respected voice at the mill, said KapStone Mill Communications Manager Kimberly Bracy. “She’s highly respected because in addition to her work, she is so involved with the council,” Bracy said. “She also does presentations to local schools on paper making.” Thompson said those presentations help demonstrate to the mill workers of tomorrow how environmentally-friendly the industry has become and how important mill jobs are to the future of cities such as Roanoke Rapids. “Until you come to work here, you don’t really understand how many people depend on this mill,” Thompson said. That dependence goes beyond the employees, she said. It touches vendors, local hotels who accommodate outside contractors doing work at the mill, and truckers. The fact the mill touches so many lives, Thompson said, helps spur her advocacy, fighting for the future of the mill. “This mill has a bright future,” Thompson said. “And because it does, so does the city of Roanoke Rapids.”


KapStone Kraft Paper Maintenance Mechanic Glenda Thompson, left, with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, and Jim Sutherland, Northeast Region Director from Lincoln Pulp and Paper in Lincoln, Maine, during a recent trip to the nation’s capital for the Pulp and Paperworkers’ Resource Council.

‘I’ve always been mechanically inclined. Growing up, (my grandfather), when he was getting ready to throw out old appliances, would keep them because he knew I wanted to take them apart.’ Glenda Thompson KapStone maintenance mechanic

Fiscal responsibility in tough times Halifax County Manager Tony Brown sees an increasing tax base

Halifax County Manager Tony Brown said using a revenue-based budget process does not allow department heads to overspend.

By Della Rose Della Rose | The Daily Herald



I R E C T O R Y Historic Halifax Nation’s Birthplace of Independence 109 Washington Ave. Weldon NC 252-536-4836



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Founded in 1757


to Historic Northeastern, NC


Town of Weldon

As Halifax County Manager, there aren’t too many things that get by Tony Brown. He’s got a stake in this area. While he spent most of his life in California, Brown has local ties — his mother grew up in Hollister. Brown moved to North Carolina in 1994 and the Roanoke Valley in 1997 to work in county government human resources. As he was destined for greater things, this former captain in the Air Force found himself in the position of Deputy County Manager in 2003, then Interim County Manager in 2007. Brown was finally appointed County Manager in 2008. Brown is proud of the way the county has adapted and survived the bad economy. He said it is mostly due to using a revenue-based budget process that doesn’t allow department heads to overspend. “We said here’s the money we have, how do you make it work?” Brown said. “It helped allow us to stay out of too deep a hole and allowed us to keep a decent fund balance.” He said it also allowed county commissioners to take advantage of economic development opportunities that will help attract companies to the area. Brown said there are several companies poised to begin development this year. More than 600 new permanent jobs will be created as well as about 400 temporary jobs, including Klausner in Enfield and Geenex at the old airport. Empire Foods, which Brown said is still handling patent disputes, is expected to have things cleared up by the end of the year, and Allegro LSA is also expected to go full force this year. With the increased tax base, Brown said the county will start catching up on all the things they’ve put off in years past, like deputy cars and capital improvements. Along with strengthening the tax base, Brown said the new businesses will help strengthen existing industries, including agriculture, and draw other businesses with similar interests. While strawberries aren’t a traditionally profitable crop for the area, Brown said, because Empire is interested in buying them fresh, farmers can diversify crops and benefit from selling 90 percent of their crop instead of 50 percent. He said other companies interested in Empire’s packaging process will have more reason to look at Halifax County for their companies. Brown said it is possible the strengthening of agri-business could usher in an increase in migrant farm workers to the area, but the county is prepared and will adapt to


Lincoln Heights Sabbath Apostolic Church Saturdays: 11:00 a.m, Wednesday Nights: 7:00 p.m., 2nd Sundays: 11:00 a.m. Florine Bell, Pastor


-VLF4USFFUtRoanoke Rapids, NC 27870 252-535-2912

BAPTIST Denomination Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church



Maranatha Baptist Church

First Baptist Church Sunday School: 10:00a.m. Worship every Sunday: 11:00a.m. Rev. Michael E. Simmons 250 Webb Hill St. Hwy.158 Roanoke Rapids, N.C. 27870 252-536-2968


10:00a.m. Sunday School each Sunday Service 2nd and 4th Sundaystime @ 11:30a.m. Bible Study Wednesday Pastor 7:00

Sunday School: 9:45 Worship:

11:00a.m. and 6:00p.m. Wed. Bible Study: 6:00p.m. Pastor Michael Little XNLV82054


Apostolic  Holiness Denomination

economic development projects is engage with the community college and workers and students to seek guidance from the college. “I’m always optimistic,� he said. “I hope this is a sign for brighter things for Halifax County. I think things will be better in five years, but it’s all relative. It’s all about perspective.�

Pastor Rev. James M. Williams address P.O. Box 14 Garysburg, N.C. 27831 phone # XNLV82073 252-536-0683

595 Zoo Road North, Roanoke Rapids, N.C. XNLV82052 252-578-2073


earnest this year. With the influx of jobs, the county has a plan for providing a qualified workforce for these companies. Historically, the area’s chief industries were agriculture and manufacturing, but workers today have to change their skill sets to include technology. Brown said part of what the Working Together Works program does for a lot of

that possibility. He said some county departments are already using bilingual signs and recordings to help Hispanics with day-to-day situations. “The county is moving forward in embracing the Hispanic community,� he said. Brown reiterated he believes these new business ventures will start to develop in

Service time Every Sunday 11:00a.m. Pastor Rev. Dr. Franklin D. Williams,Jr.


2427 Eaton Ferry Rd. Littleton, N.C. 27850 252-586-6778

Pastor Wesley Agee

215 Roanoke Rapids Rd. 10#PY(BTUPO /$t252-519-0330

United  Methodist Denomination

Shiloh United Service Methodist Church Service time


Sunday School 10:00 a.m. Pastor 11:00 a.m. Worship Service

300 Mosby Ave.address Littleton, N.C. 27850 phone # 252-586-4700

Freedom Free Will Service Baptist ServiceChurch time Sunday School 10:00 a.m., Pastor Morning Worship 11:00 a.m. Pastor Fred Carraway address 4516 Hwy. 125phone Halifax, # N.C. 27839 252-538-6694

Denomination Non-Denomination


Pastor Russell T. Campbell Worship: Sunday 8:00a.m. & 10:30a.m

BEAUTY Service

Missionary Baptist

Lakeside Lutheran Church

Sunday School 10:00 a.m. Sunday Worship 11:00 a.m. & 6:00 p.m. Wednesday Prayer & Bible Study 7:00 p.m.

Pastor: Rev. Rick Russell address 10#PYt(BTUPO /$ phone # 1IPOF




Grace Baptist Church

615 Jackson Street Roanoke Rapids, N.C. 27870 252-537-6677

Roanoke Salem Missionary Baptist Church Sunday School 9:30a.m. Worship Sunday ll:00a.m. Tuesday Bible Study 6:30p.m. Rev. Dr. Robert E. Sessoms, Pastor


Independent Baptist

Minister Dale Morris


488 Occoneechee Neck Road North,address Jackson, N.C. phone # 252-583-1841

Sunday School: 9:45a.m. Worship: 10:45a.m. Sunday Evening: 6:00p.m. Prayer Meeting Wednesday: 7:00p.m.

St. Alban’s Living Historical Episcopal Church Service9:30 time Worship a.m. Every Sunday Pastor Rev. Beverly Huck

The Word In Action Service Worldwide & Service time International Ministries Pastor 11:00 a.m. Worship Sunday Dr. Mae Parker address

Direct P.O. Drawer Z, Garysburg, N.C. 27831 XNLV82057 252-536-4656



Roanoke Chapel Missionary Baptist Church

Free  Will  Baptist Denomination


New Testament Christian Church



2940 Hwy 301 South Halifax, N.C. 27839

phone # 252-536-4117

Antique and Consignment Guide


Episcopal Denomination


Baptist Denomination


Worship Directory

Above: Emily Luter inside her store, Countryside Interiors, on Roanoke Avenue. At right: Emily Luter, right, owner of Countryside Interiors, shares a laugh with associate Betsy Urbahns. Roger Bell | The Daily Herald


Great service in small retail Countryside Interiors delivers main street appeal for 35 years By Roger Bell

The future of hometown retail lies in the same things that make it successful now, said Emily Luter. Luter, of Roanoke Rapids, is the owner of Countryside Interiors, located in the 900 block of Roanoke Avenue. The 1959 graduate of William R. Davie High School started the shop as a store selling local crafts on consignment, and was one of two shops she and her husband Pete Luter opened in 1978. It was actually Pete’s shop, Luter said, that generated the buzz at first. That shop, originally located across the street from Countryside but later moved next door, sold wood stoves and wood stove components, then evolved into a wood stove and chimney sweep business. “We would be selling wood stoves by the truckload,” Luter said. “I mean the big transfer trucks, filled with them, and we’d sell every one.” When the wood stove craze settled down, Luter also got rid of the consignment element at Countryside and became a retail shop, while Pete continued offering chimney sweep and fireplace services out of Countryside Chimney Sweeps, along with bicycle sales and repairs. Eventually their sons Kenny and Paul alternately joined both businesses. During that time, she was happy a wall separated the two shops. “When you work with your family 24 hours a day, it’s best to have a wall between you,” Luter said. Business at Countryside grew with

Roger Bell | The Daily Herald

Emily Luter outside her store, Countryside Interiors, in January.

Luter bringing on more merchandise, and Pete traveling the world engaging in his passion for skydiving and various other interests. Pete’s death in a skydiving accident in Florida in 2010 changed everything, leading to the closing of Countryside Bicycles and drastically cutting down on the chimney sweep business. “I just went into a bubble,” Luter said. “All I did was come to work, go to

Food Lion and go home. I did that every day for almost two years.” A friend of hers introduced her to line dancing, however, and Luter began to emerge back into life as a result. “I always wanted to dance, but Pete wouldn’t do it,” Luter said. “At first I didn’t even know the steps, I didn’t even know how to do the Electric Slide.” Luter now said she can line dance

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Commerce with the best of them, and knows all the steps. Now, she’s ready to tackle ballroom dancing, another passion. But her store also remains a passion for her, one she knows isn’t easy to see prosper in a tough economy. Luter knows the present and future bring threats to her specific business and to businesses like hers. Competition from stores such as Walmart and other big retailers, along with Internet shopping, are challenges hometown retail businesses like Countryside Interiors must overcome to stay open. Luter said the way to overcome those challenges is the same way she has stayed in business all these years — provide great service, keep an attractive shop and offer items the big retailers don’t have. Roanoke Avenue Business Alliance Main Street Director

Sherry Hux agrees with Luter on how to address threats to a business district such as Roanoke Avenue. “It’s nice to walk into a mom and pop speciality store in a downtown district,” Hux said. “As a consumer, it brings your shopping experience to a personal interaction rather than being an individual in a sea of customers.” Talking to your customers and developing relationships with them, even in a brief encounter, also will separate hometown businesses from the Internet, Luter said. Follow this formula, and the future is bright. “I think you can make your own future by doing that,” Luter said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but with courteous, friendly service and unique items, you can make it work even with these other outside pressures.”

Roger Bell | The Daily Herald

Emily Luter looks over inventory at Countryside Interiors.

Happy 20th Anniversary Linette Mayle Craddock

Linnette Mayle Craddock, who has been employed at Quality Buick GMC/Bone’s Toyota for twenty years, is a true example of how intelligence, dedication, and motivation benefit the employee, the company, suppliers, and the customer. She began her employment doing warranty follow-up and customer contacts and now holds the position of comptroller for both companies. Linnette graduated from Northampton County High School East in 1985 and went to work at Howell Steel shortly thereafter. She also worked at Mid-South Fasteners, Inc. before beginning work at Quality Buick, GMC and Bone’s Toyota. When she began work at Quality and Bone’s she started learning as much as she could about her job and has continued to learn to progress through the various levels of responsibility to her present position. She started as a customer contact doing warranty follow-up calls, became warranty clerk, then assumed various accounting responsibilities. She learned manual bookkeeping by working with the previous accountant and later learned computerized bookkeeping on her own. She says the changeover was easier since she had already learned the manual method. She also began sales data entry, then became office manager, and is now comptroller. According to her co-workers, Linnette is self-motivated, always willing to learn anything new and not afraid of change. She has the ability to adapt to whatever situation may arise and works with all available resources. She has that “get the job done” attitude and always meets deadlines. Linnette is certified as General Motors Office Manager/Comptroller and GM Partner Security Coordinator. She has earned the General Motors Business Accounting Managers Council Elite Level for 12 consecutive years, and since its inception, Southeast Toyota Comptrollers Association Excellence Award for 7 years. Lee Bone, owner/dealer, appreciates the fact that Linnette is serious about her work, looks after company finances, and is always willing to learn because the demands of the business are constantly changing. He said, “Linnette, since her very first day, has been an exceptional person. She has excellent personality both in the professional work environment and as an individual. Her work directly affects, in a positive way, all departments of Bone’s Toyota and Quality Buick GMC. We feel very fortunate to have had Linnette as part of our family for over twenty (20) years.” Linnette lives in Roanoke Rapids with her husband David and their son Joshua.

BONE’S TOYOTA 20 | Profile


1615 East 10th St | Roanoke Rapids, NC 252-537-6161


Positive results at Gaston grocery store Priscilla Dorer making changes at Piggly Wiggly to help store, staff and community


By Della Rose

upervisor for the Gaston Piggly Wiggly Priscilla Dorer said her store and the Roanoke Valley have gone through a lot of changes, and she is looking forward to most of the changes leading to positive results in the future. “I love to see things happen,” she

Gaston Piggly Wiggly has the only butcher shop in Gaston. Supervisor Priscilla Dorer said she believes services like this will draw more customers and lead them to shop closer to home.

della Rose | The Daily Herald

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said. Dorer, who took on the position as supervisor in October, said the Piggly Wiggly was struggling with issues on all fronts when she began, but she believes the store has come through the worst. Morale is up, customers are coming back, the store is pristine and things have been moved around to better accommodate customer flow and employee/customer interaction. “It was the biggest challenge I ever had,” she said. Dorer said during the winter snow, the store experienced more than 800 customers in a day. She said future plans include changes in the bill pay station and more importantly, according to Dorer, the meat department. “Do you realize this is the only place in Gaston that cuts its own meats?” she said. “We have fresh cut meat daily, and we grind our own hamburger.” She is interested in improvements to make the meat department more appealing. “I want to give (people) a good deal,” she said. “And they get to see the new look in the store.” Dorer is working on bringing the store to a place where it can expand. “I would like to see Chattahoochee have nowhere to dance!” she said. “I want to take over the whole building!” Dorer said she has a “Dream Board” with mementos to remind her and employees about their hopes for the store. “There’s a real need for this (store),” she said. “It’s the only actual grocery store in Gaston.” Being a hometown girl, Dorer is always hoping things will get better in the Roanoke Valley. She said she remembers when Weldon Road — now Julian Allsbrook Highway — was one lane and the only thing on it was Dairy Queen.

Gaston Piggly Wiggly Supervisor Priscilla Dorer is interested in keeping her store competitive, so she’s seeing to it her customers get many choices concerning products. Here she is in the Dairy Department with Dairy and Frozen Foods Manager Aaron Garner.

22 | Profile

della rose | The daily Herald


della rose | the daily HErald

Gaston Piggly Wiggly Supervisor Priscilla Dorer said customer service is one of the most important things she’s pushing in her store, along with cleanliness and quality. Here Dorer bags groceries for customer Brenda Rook.

“It’s changed a lot for the better,” she said. “Growth is always good. We have a lot more choices for everything then we had back then.” The Roanoke Valley containing two of the poorest counties in the state makes it hard on people. “I’m always hoping something will come in where people will have more jobs, more choices,” she said, adding news of new industries coming to the area is encouraging. “We don’t need more restaurants, but retail would be good.” Dorer said retail would add to the variety of jobs in the Valley and help keep Roanoke Valley money in the Roanoke Valley. “We need to try to keep the money here instead of it going to Rocky Mount or wherever it goes,” she said. As far as the grocery industry, Dorer believes it will continue to be strong.

“People have got to eat,” she said, adding grocery prices will continue to rise as gas prices rise. However, she is hopeful they will level out. Because of rising gas prices, Dorer expects a shift in shopping at mom and pop stores near home and a reduction in the larger chain stores. She said customers are having to watch every penny, and smaller stores like Piggly Wiggly will have to continue to offer specials to remain competitive. “With us being so localized, close to the post office and we’ve got a Dollar General right down the road, (customers) can make a twomile trip instead of a five-mile trip,” Dorer said. “So many of the big chain stores are closing up. They have a lot more overhead and more payroll.”

Profile | 23



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24 | Profile

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Jim, Rachel Lander keep giving back Habitat for Humanity rehabs, builds homes; ReStore aids in resident needs



he Halifax/Northampton Habitat for Humanity started with a donated house in 1986. A family, who were members of All Saints Episcopal Church, donated a house at 216 Jackson St. “They rehabbed it,” said Habitat board member Rachel Lander. “In 1988, Leon and Mary Drayton moved into it.” Since then, the locally-run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International has constructed 17 houses and rehabbed three with homes in Gaston, Weldon, Littleton and Roanoke Rapids. Habitat board members Rachel and Jim Lander have been there for many of those houses. Their years of service started when the Landers finished building their own home around Thanksgiving 2005. “We wanted to give back,” Jim Lander said. After getting heavily involved in January 2007, the Landers, along with other board members, stepped up when long-time Habitat Executive Director John Sing died. At this time, the organization was at a crossroads. “We didn’t think it was a good idea to fold (into another affiliate),” said Rachel Lander. For the Landers, board members and volunteers, the guiding principal for Habitat comes from John 3:17-18: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Jim Lander said Habitat for Humanity International is the sixth largest home builder in the world. Founded in 1976, Habitat is an international, non-

Rachel and Jim Lander have been involved with the Halifax/ Northampton Habitat for Humanity since 2007. jacqueline hough | The Daily Herald

jacqueline hough | The Daily Herald

Habitat for Humanity officials are buying the old Farm City Tractor building at the intersection of Smith Church Road and Highway 48. It will house the Habitat offices, the ReStore and the warehouse under one roof.

governmental and non-profit organization that builds affordable housing. Habitat has helped build or repair more than 600,000 houses and served more than three million people around the world. Jim Lander said costs are kept low by using volunteer labor and building on donated land. “We can put someone in a three-to-four-bedroom home for less than $500 a month,” he said. Criteria for Habitat partners includes living in Halifax or Northampton counties; having a steady income from $16,000 to $27,000 a year; wanting to own a home; willing to work to help build; and can afford to pay back the cost of building the home with a zero-percent interest 20-year mortgage. The money from the mortgage enables Habitat to do construction and renovation of other homes. “We buy supplies locally to support the area economy,” said Rachel Lander. There is a core of volunteers for the ReStore along with a core for construction. Dominion always provides a big group of volunteers for projects. Both of the Landers stressed volunteers are always needed to help with building homes. But as Habitat officials look at what has been accomplished throughout the years, they don’t plan to rest on their laurels. Presently, volunteers are working on updating a house for a young mother and her two children in Littleton. Habitat officials are buying the old Farm City Tractor building at the intersection of Smith Church Road and Highway 48. The building will be able to house the Habitat offices, the ReStore and the warehouse under one roof. For the Landers, this is a tremendous blessing for the organization. “It is an integral part of taking us to the next level,” said Jim Lander.

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In addition to helping provide low-income homes, there is a second part to Habitat — the ReStore, which provides a wide variety of items for the home such as paint, bug spray, wood, TVs and more. Habitat volunteers pick up items from Lowe’s Distribution that may be dented or damaged. “They may not be pretty but it is still the same inside,” Jim Lander said. He added many of the items sold are kept out of landfills. Rachel Lander said the ReStore has become an important element for many Habitat organizations because funds earned from the store help in a down economy. The ReStore, 14 East 2nd St. in Roanoke Rapids, is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of the month. “As we get into the new building, we expect the hours (of the ReStore) to expand,” Rachel Lander said. Habitat officials are looking at ways to expand the mission of the organization. One possibility could be the A Brush with Kindness program, which assists low-income families in repairing and renovating their homes so they can continue to live in safe, decent places. A Brush with Kindness projects include painting, landscaping, weatherization and minor repair services. Another possible future project could be the development of another neighborhood of Habitat homes. Currently, there is Habitat Way in Littleton with seven homes. For more information about the Halifax/Northampton Habitat for Humanity or to volunteer, call 252-537-2556. Jim Lander reminded people officials will take land and monetary donations along with household items. “We are available 24 hours a day,” he said. “We will come to houses and pick items up.”

lifestyle Members of the Betty’s Bees quilting bee, from left, are Sally Thorpe, Debbie Quitiquit and Jean Branham.

Jacqueline Hough | The Daily Herald

Desire for new craft brings warmth Avid quilter Debbie Quitiquit, others keep art form in the family



ebbie Quitiquit did not grow up quilting. Her love of the art form came from a desire to learn a new craft in the early 1990s. “My first quilt was my son’s baby blanket,” she said. Quitiquit, of Emporia, Va., still has the quilt she made for her son, who is now 28. “It will go to him when he has children,” she said. “He used to tell me if the house was on fire that he would grab the quilt.” An avid quilter, Quitiquit is president of the Roanoke Valley Quilters Guild and a member of Betty’s Bees, a quilting bee. Betty’s Bees formed three years ago and meets every Wednesday afternoon. Members include Betty Rightmyer, Sally Thorpe, Joyce Suiter, Jean Branham, Betty Briggs and Quitiquit. Quitiquit said her and others work hard to keep quilting alive because it is a form of art. “It’s always evolving with the patterns and techniques,” she said. The group works on several community service quilts for Ronald McDonald House, area hospitals and members of the guild. “We make bags for the police department to give to children in crisis,” Quitiquit said. Suiter said quilting started as a necessity. She said in the early days, women would use dresses and aprons for quilt pieces to make something to keep families warm. “Now they are pretty and satisfying to make,” Suiter said. “You don’t have to take dresses and aprons apart.” Betty Rightmyer’s garage is the base of operation for her quilting. There are sewing machines, various projects in progress and enough fabric to open her own store. “UFO is our middle name,” Rightmyer said.

28 | Profile

It stands for Unfinished Objects. All of the Betty Bees have quilting projects in various stages of completion. Betty’s Bees member Jean Branham said many quilters have quilts handed down through generations. She has a quilt her great-grandmother made. “I wouldn’t take anything for it,” Branham said. This is why Quitiquit and other members of Betty’s Bees continue to sew. “We are getting something quilted and being able to pass it on,” Quitiquit said. She can remember when she gave her granddaughter her first quilt at her birthday party. “She was ecstatic to get a quilt from grandma,” Quitiquit said. Quitiquit is not worried about the future of quilting because of a recent resurgence. She talks about the technology, where in the past it would take a few months to sew a quilt by hand but now it can be done in a few hours. “Quilting has changed in the past 30 years,” she said. “There has been an explosion in technology.” Changes have occurred in rotary cutters, sewing machines and even in printed materials. In bookstores and newsstands there are many new books and magazines. “There used to be two magazines, but now there are 12,” she said. “Anything you want to learn, you can go online and find it.” Suiter agreed quilting will always be an ageless craft. “You can do it always,” she said. One thing Quitiquit has really noticed is how much the price of quilting materials has gone up. “It may go back to the point where people start using clothing for quilting,” she said. In the past, quilting was relatively inexpensive with Suiter remembering she paid $1 a yard for fabric in the 1980s.

“Now it is $25 a yard,” she said. And, Rightmyer pointed out, with the cost of fabric, batting, backing and thread, a person could spend $300 to get the materials for a quilt. “And you haven’t put a stitch in it yet,” she said. Those interested in quilting or learning how can join the Roanoke Valley Quilters Guild. The 35-member group meets at 7 p.m.

on the second Thursday of each month at Jo Story Senior Center in Roanoke Rapids. Cost is $15 a year, which comes with getting a newsletter and discounts at fabric stores. Quitiquit said a common misconception is a quilt guild is a group of experts. “It is a group of women with a love and interest in quilting,” she said.

Jacqueline Hough | The Daily Herald

Debbie Quitiquit, president of the Roanoke Valley Quilters Guild and a member of Betty’s Bees, works on a quilt for Ronald McDonald House.

Quilting Bee, Betty’s Bees was formed three years ago and meets every Wednesday afternoon. Members, from left, include Joyce Suiter, Sally Thorpe, Betty Rightmyer, Jean Branham and Debbie Quitiquit.

Jacqueline Hough | The Daily Herald


Bring on the board, leave barrel behind Halifax County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Bobby Martin takes on cornhole


By Roger Bell

acing a cornhole board does not carry the same pressure as facing the barrel of a gun. Halifax County Sheriff ’s Office Lt. Bobby Martin, who has faced the barrel of a gun “several times” during his law enforcement career, said while there can be some competitive pressure in the game of cornhole, he finds even the toughest moments relaxing. Martin, 40, of Roanoke Rapids, graduated from Halifax Academy in 1991, joining the United States Navy as an electrician. After expressing interest in shore patrol, Martin was turned down, but once he left the Navy, he looked into a possible career as a police officer. That career began in 1997, with a twoyear stint working for Warren County Sheriff Johnny Williams. After leaving the office, Martin returned to electrical work, but a conversation with Jackson Police Chief John Young brought him back to part-time law enforcement with Young, then full-time jobs in Roanoke Rapids and Weldon followed, eventually leading him to work for Halifax County Sheriff Jeff Frazier in 2001.

Lt. Bobby Martin

Martin has held several positions with Frazier, including patrol deputy and investigations lieutenant, and his current position with narcotics enforcement, he said, is an education. “I’ve learned a lot since I started in narcotics a few months ago,” Martin said. Martin’s introduction to cornhole came as he was indulging another passion — coaching softball. While helping a traveling softball team raise money, Martin contacted brothers Lonnie and Tim Harris to help stage a fundraiser — a cornhole tournament. “I was thinking, ‘What the heck is corn-

hole?’ ” Martin said. “But after the tournament we had kind of an ‘after-tournament,’ and I decided to jump in and give it a shot. I was there with guys who, everything they were throwing was going in the hole, and everything I threw was going off the side of the board.” Cornhole involves two boards, each with a hole players target with their bags filled with corn or beads. The boards are 27 feet apart and a toss in the hole is worth three points, while a bag resting on the board is worth one point. Opposing bags cancel each other out each round, so if a competitor throws a bag in the hole and his or her opponent does the same, both are back to zero. The first competitor to 21 wins. Despite the lack of early success, Martin said the game hooked him immediately, appealing to his competitive nature but offering little chance of injury. “My wife says I can play all the cornhole I want,” Martin said. “I get hurt doing everything else I do, so this way I won’t get hurt playing.” While traveling with the softball team, Martin said, the coaches and players would indulge in cornhole during breaks in play, and as he threw more, he improved.

roger bell | The Daily Herald

Competitors in a Roanoke Valley Cornhole night league play the game at The Double R Sports Bar on Roanoke Avenue in Roanoke Rapids.

After just more than a year of experience, Martin traveled to Fuquay-Varina for an American Cornhole Organization-sanctioned tournament, along with friends and fellow enthusiasts Jay Hester and Steve Heath, to test his skills. Out of more than 60 players, Martin finished 10th in the individual competition and received a national ranking in the 100s. “I felt good about the way (the three of us) played,” Martin said. “Especially since I had only been throwing about a year and a half and guys out there had been throwing for several years.” Today, Martin gets to test his skills against local competition in the Roanoke Valley Cornhole League, which he said competes at The Double R Sports Bar in Roanoke Rapids on Thursday evenings. Martin said the bar is a great atmosphere, and places like the Double R represent the future of cornhole. Heath, who himself attained a national ranking higher than Martin’s, agreed, saying more avenues need to be available for cornhole in the Valley. Certified ACO official Richard Dorer said the game continues to grow locally, and has grown rapidly. “A couple of years ago, nobody down here had ever heard of it,” Dorer, of Roanoke Rapids, said. “For it to keep growing, we need more people to know about it, and we just have to get the people who have never played to play.”

Roanoke Rapids Deputy Fire Chief Mike Clements looks across at his bags sitting on the opposite board while warming up for a Roanoke Valley cornhole competition in Roanoke Rapids. roger bell | The Daily Herald


jonas pope IV | The Daily HErald

Halifax Community College Board of Trustees member Michaeld Felt beams when discussing the link between self sufficiency and education.

Felt: Education, self sufficiency at HCC Community college is backbone of forwarding community


By Jonas Pope IV

arly on in his life, Michael Felt understood the value of an education. He understood leading people toward self sufficiency was not only about finding them a job, but also about giving them an education to find a job and keep a job. Felt, a member of the Halifax Community College Board of

32 | Profile

Trustees and former Halifax County Department of Social Services director, beams when discussing the link between self sufficiency and the opportunities at HCC, and how the two relate. “I have always believed the community college system is the backbone of forwarding citizens,” Felt said. “One of the reasons I came to Halifax County was because of the college system.” Felt worked with the Work First Program in Hendersonville and

‘One of the things I like about our community college is how we have partnered with economic development, as well as tourism.’ Michael Felt HCC Board of Trustees member

Gastonia before coming to Halifax County 10 years ago. He became a board member at HCC in 2012. In his time at HCC, Felt has seen first hand how the community college system pays off big time for those students who enroll and how it impacts their future in their various fields. At HCC, students can receive an associates degree and certificates in everything from nursing to welding. Felt knows HCC has been big for the community. “It is huge,” Felt said. “One of the things I like about our community college is how we have partnered with economic development, as well as tourism. With economic development ... what we are saying to the perspective employers who have specific training needs is we think enough of the community system to bring a representative to talk about how we can create, on a timely basis, a consistent and important training package to make sure you have a readily available training force. That is cool. We are not walled up by some of the requirements of a four-year college. We are able to move quickly to cre-

ate the programs, whether they are certifications or associate degrees. I am very proud of our community college.” Felt said enrollment is slowing growing and has been up and down. He said HCC’s partnership with Halifax County and local school districts has played a huge role in helping attract students. Students from Northampton and Halifax counties represent most of the enrollment, but there are students enrolled from Hertford County and other surrounding areas. In a cost effective way, Felt thinks there will be several other programs brought in to attract perspective students. “We are generating degrees for nursing, CNAs, social work fields and health care fields,” Felt said. “We will also have a field for welding and IT to try to meet the needs of the new companies coming in.” Five or 10 years down the road, Felt said HCC will be “the hub for taking in students and giving them the necessary structure, educational skills and knowledge to go out and be productive.”

jonas pope IV | The Daily HErald

Michael Felt is a Halifax Community College Board of Trustees member and former Halifax County Department of Social Services director.


Weldon Elementary School: (252) 536-4815 Weldon Middle School: (252) 536-2571 Weldon STEM High School: (252) 536-4829 Roanoke Valley Early College: (252) 536-6364/ (252) 536-6382

Weldon City Schools 301 Mulberry Street Weldon, NC 27890 Ph: 252-536-4821 Fax: 252-536-3062 Superintendent: Elie Bracy, III Board Chairman: Dr. Pattie B. Cotton


Profile | 33


‘Happy time’ at Birthing Center Nurse Natalie Robertson comforts people with upgrades


By Kris Smith

he didn’t know what she wanted to do at first, then her career just kind of evolved. Natalie Robertson, RNC-OB, BSN, is a labor and delivery nurse at The Birthing Center at Halifax Regional in Roanoke Rapids. “I’m not sure why exactly (I went into nursing),” she said. “I didn’t start out thinking I would be a labor and delivery nurse. I knew I liked helping people and

knew it was a stable profession. I could go anywhere to find a job — and somehow I ended up back home.” Robertson, 31, is married to Henry, a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital, and they have two children — Ella Grace, 3, and Jeremy, 4. She has a total of nine years of nursing under her belt, all have been in Roanoke Rapids — starting in the Intensive Care Unit at Halifax Regional then Roanoke Clinic and back to the hospital at The Birthing Center.

According to Robertson, the Center is one of few if not the only labor and delivery postpartum units in the area. For the patients, Robertson said, one of the great things about the Center is it is a place where “a mom can come in and stay in the same room the entire time she is here.” Robertson explained, there are three kinds of nurses at The Birthing Center — labor, post partum and nursery. A labor nurse is responsible for the mother having a baby. A post partum nurse takes care of everything after birth until the patient


Natalie Robertson, labor and delivery nurse, comforts a baby in the nursery at The Birthing Center at Halifax Regional.

34 | Profile


Labor and delivery nurse Natalie Robertson goes over records with registered nurse Nikki Harris at Halifax Regional’s The Birthing Center.

‘The Philips OB TraceVue — an obstetrics information management solution — is designed to ensure comprehensive coverage across the obstetrical care.’ Amy Joseph The Birthing Center manager

is discharged from the hospital and a nursery nurse’s focus is everything to do with the baby after the birth. Robertson’s plans are to remain in the department. Part of her evolution included reaching her goal last year of earning her certification. She said, “It was a hard test to pass.” For right now, Robertson said, she is a bit content and eventually she may go back to school to get her master’s in Womens Health “but that is a huge maybe. I’m not in the mode to do so right now.” As for the future of The Birthing Center, good things are happening. Amy Joseph, Center manager, said recent renovations have just been completed, including new paint, countertops, privacy curtains and seating. New birthing beds have also been added.

Joseph also said a system upgrade has gone live. “The Philips OB TraceVue — an obstetrics information management solution — is designed to ensure comprehensive coverage across the obstetrical care,” she said. “This technology is the latest system in fetal monitoring documentation,” she said. In the coming year, plans for The Birthing Center will continue with renovations to the hallways and the Robertson nursery area, according to Joseph. She added, all these updates are considered with the patients in mind and will ensure more comfort, privacy and an improved patient experience. “Ninety percent of the time, it’s a happy time here,” Robertson said. “Most of the time I get to see miracles happen.”

Profile | 35


Dental patients get what’s needed Dr. Thomas Fleming says implants becoming more common


By Kris Smith

inning the lottery would be nearly the only thing that could take him away from his work here in Roanoke Rapids. Dentist Dr. Thomas E. Fleming said if he did hit the jackpot, he would likely do cleft palate work because there are too many people who won’t smile. Fleming sees dental implants — instead of crowns, bridges or other temporary options — becoming more commonplace. “Right now, insurance companies say (implants) are aesthetic,” he said, adding insurance tends to drive dental needs to the least expensive route, rather than the right direction for the patient. “A crown or bridge covers or attaches to other teeth to fix the problem, but they are temporary.” An implant is actually driven down into

the jaw and eventually the bone adapts and the implant becomes part of the apparatus as a whole. Fleming practices at his office he designed just off Gregory Drive. “There are no doors for a reason, there is nothing to hide here,” he said. The layout has everything Fleming to do with sanitary concepts, establishing procedures for keeping a patient’s safety in mind. The office uses no-touch sensors for sinks and other sanitizing machines for utensils and tools. The rest rooms are even cared for in a particular manner. “A lot of times, people will see a bathroom and see how it is kept as a basis for the way a place is run,” Fleming said. “The bathrooms are clean, roomy, well kept and is consistent with how the rest of this of-

fice is kept.” Fleming’s career didn’t start in people’s mouths, but under the hood of their cars. He worked on cars, mostly British vehicles, before and during college. That is until he “got tired of being a broke mechanic.” While meeting a cousin at a dentist’s office one day, Fleming said “it was kind of cool.” The rest is history. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, spent some time in the mountains, then through his mother-in-law heard about an opportunity in Rocky Mount. Ultimately, Fleming returned to Roanoke Rapids. Family brought him back. “To have time with family, that’s why we came home,” he said. “There’s not a price you can put on time with family.” Fleming shares life with his wife Anita, a

The HCC mission: To strive to meet the diverse needs of our community by providing high-quality, accessible and affordable education and services for a rapidly changing and globally competitive marketplace. Our Five Schools: School of Arts & Sciences w School of Business School of Legal & Public Service w School of Vocational & Industrial Technology School of Health Science and Adult and Continuing Education Programs 252-536-HCC1 (4221) w

native of Roanoke Rapids, and their children, Ashleigh, 13; Ted, 11; and Andy, 7. “Having two sets of grandparents nearby doesn’t hurt,” he said. “I like the way people think here, too. In big towns, you don’t have barbecue fundraisers. I know my patients. It makes me more personally invested. I want to make sure the work I do on my patients is the same I would do for my mom and dad.” As far as the team at the office, one of the things Fleming does to take care of his staff of eight is having what he calls a “mom” room, where the staff ’s children can go when they are ill and can not attend school or daycare. “I didn’t want the moms on my staff worrying about missing work or the stress of who to contact for help with a sick child,” he said. Patient care coordinator Kim Rook, of Roanoke Rapids, said everyone gets along like family. She said patients really like Dr. Fleming — “They say he is gentle and doesn’t pressure them to do a procedure.” She said Dr. Fleming does a lot of work for patients who can’t necessarily afford it. “He genuinely cares about people, keeping their mouth and teeth healthy, as well as their overall health,” Rook said. Fleming no longer accepts Medicare patients because he didn’t like the government telling him what to do. “I’ve got to put my head on a pillow at night and be able to sleep,” he said. “Patients get what’s needed.” Rook added the office sees a lot of members from the same families and new patients every week. His office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 8:30 to 2 p.m. on Friday, and is located at 1312 Gregory Drive in Roanoke Rapids. Fleming broke it all down, “I’m just a mechanic of the mouth. I’ve got to use my hands to fix stuff and find some humor in it — not everyone likes going to the dentist.”

Kris Smith | The Daily Herald

Dr. Thomas Fleming takes a look at the teeth of Jerry Bailey, of Roanoke Rapids, coproprietor of Gaston’s Piggly Wiggly.

Jerry Bailey, of Roanoke Rapids, coproprietor of Gaston’s Piggly Wiggly, takes a look at his Xrays with Dr. Thomas Fleming and dental hygienist Casey Dixon, of Roanoke Rapids. kris smith | The Daily Herald


della rose | The Daily HErald

Our Community Hospital CEO Tom Majure and Jennifer Vincent talk outside patient rooms.

Our Community specializes in people Long term, assisted living units a big plus in Scotland Neck


By Della Rose

hile large hospitals work to specialize in fields and cater to large numbers of patients, in small communities across the nation there are health care units specializing in people. “We are what you call a critical access hospital,” said Tom Majure, Scotland Neck’s Our Community Hospital/Bryan Long Term Care CEO. Majure, who has worked with the facility the past 20 years, said there are many facilities like this.

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“It was a pilot program in seven states in the 90s,” he said. “We don’t try to be Duke or Halifax. We stabilize the patient and get them where they need to be.” Majure said the hospital is reimbursed differently from larger hospitals. The 20-bed hospital with 60Majure bed long-term care and 20-assisted living units combines community health care with services for the aging. The facility also offers physical, occupational and speech therapy through the

Allison-Shearin Outpatient Rehab and Wellness Center. Majure said this setup is advantageous in an aging community. “It’s a way to keep health care in small, rural communities that would probably be closed,” Majure said. “It’s a place for people who have difficulty going out of town for health care. We serve a lot of poor and elderly. There are people who wouldn’t get health care if not here. This is a huge challenge in Halifax County.” Majure said the big plus at Our Community is the long-term and assisted-living units.


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della rose | The Daily HErald

Our Community Hospital CEO Tom Majure and LaToya Gray go over files.

years,” he said. He said senior patients benefit from having a physician in house 24/7. “We want to improve where we can, and make their life mean“In Roanoke Rapids if you become ill, they call an ambulance,” ingful. We want that for everyone.” he said. Concerning the community as a whole, Halifax County has “Here, you’re rolled down the hall to the emergency room and many issues that need to be dealt with, and while he sees improvethe doctor comes.” ments in other regions of the county, he is waiting to see improveMajure said he likes the challenge of working in a small hosments in his neck of the woods. pital. “I get to be involved in a lot of things “I see positive things happening,” he said, in my capacity that administrators of large mentioning new businesses and industries facilities don’t get to,” he said. expected to locate in Halifax County in the “I get to enjoy and learn more about the next two years. individual — the good and the bad. I get to “I hope it spreads to the southern part of the hear their joys and accomplishments. That’s a county.” plus.” He believes everyone would benefit by improvHe is certain there will be technological ing their health and some people, sometimes changes as the hospital adapts to the needs of Tom Majure need to be encouraged in the right direction. its patients, but he believes there will be major Our Community Hospital/Bryan At the same time, he does not believe outgrowth in the assisted-living and long-term Long Term Care CEO lawing certain things because they make you care facilities as well as the rehabilitation unhealthy, is the right way to go. therapy segment of the facility as the popula“It’s over the line,” he said, adding positive tion grows older. education to the masses can help people become more healthy and He predicts there will be greater need for services. He said he and help keep health care costs lower. the staff are intent on improving the quality of care patients reFor more information about Our Community Hospital/Bryan ceive as they grow older to combat the “nursing home” stigma and Long Term Care and the Allison-Shearin Outpatient Rehab and help people make the transition into assisted-living comfortably. Wellness Center, call 252-826-4144 or visit “We want people to be able to come and enjoy their later

‘We don’t try to be Duke or Halifax. We stabilize the patient and get them where they need to be.’

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