News Briefs

March 21, 2014 

Sewage spills in Clayton

The Town of Clayton on March 14 reported a sewage spill.

In a news release, the town said a contractor installing a drainage pipe damaged a sewer main, causing about 1,500 gallons of raw sewage to spill at 143 Short Johnson Road near N.C. 42 West.

The town captured some of the sewage, but some also spilled into an unnamed tributary of Cabin Branch.

Heritage Center receives grant

The Johnston County Heritage Center has received $13,530 from the N.C. Community Foundation for general operating support.

The foundation distributes earnings annually from its Johnston County Heritage Center Endowment, created a decade ago by the Holding family, principal stockholders of First Citizens Bank, which got its start 85 years ago in the downtown Smithfield building that houses today’s Heritage Center.

The foundation grant and yearly donations from patrons provide close to 25 percent of the Heritage Center’s annual budget of $210,995. The County of Johnston this fiscal year is providing $145,388 from its general fund. The balance of Heritage Center revenue comes from research and copy fees plus book and merchandise sales.

The Heritage Center is the official archive for Johnston County history and genealogy. Its reading room and Internet site are widely used by researchers from near and far. The center also houses a museum that showcases artifacts of Johnston County’s past.

Located at the corner of Market and Third streets in downtown Smithfield, the Heritage Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free. Its Internet address is

Volunteer event returns April 5

The third annual Operation Inasmuch, a project of First Baptist and First Missionary Baptist churches in Smithfield, will take place Saturday, April 5.

Volunteers serve their neighbors in a variety of ways, from baby showers for unwed mothers to reading to seniors to preparing exam-time care packages for college students.

“Operation Inasmuch takes its cue directly from the Bible,” said the Rev. Sterling Freeman, pastor of First Missionary. “Matthew 25:40 says, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ We are being obedient to the word and invite our community to join us as we build God’s kingdom on earth.”

Brian Harris is youth pastor at First Baptist Church. He told attendees at a kickoff breakfast that serving is a choice we should make in order to promote mutual dependence. “Why serve? Why shouldn’t we?” Harris asked. “If we are ever to be a body of Christ, we need to understand the idea of mutuality, that we are fellow pilgrims on this journey. There is much more to be gained by our commonality in Christ than there is from bickering.”

The event will begin at 8 a.m., with volunteers meeting in the fellowship hall at First Baptist Church, 202 S. Fourth St. Volunteers are welcome.

Drug sentences handed down

Federal prosecutors have won prison sentences of up to 30 years for members of a methamphetamine ring that spanned Johnston, Sampson and Wayne counties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

The arrests and convictions are part of an ongoing investigation, called Operation Speed Bump, that includes the State Bureau of Investigation and sheriff’s offices in 15 counties. In the drug ring takedown announced Monday, 16 people from Johnston, Wayne and Sampson county pleaded guilty to 17 total charges.

The group “was responsible for manufacturing large amounts of domestically produced methamphetamine,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Its members traveled around North Carolina to buy the medicine pseudoephedrine, steal anhydrous ammonia and use them to make meth, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The tri-county ring bought more than five kilograms of pseudoephedrine and produced close to that weight in methamphetamine from 2008 to 2012, prosecutors say. Its members faced various charges, including conspiracy to make and distribute more than 500 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine; possessing a meth-containing substance; having equipment and ingredients for the drug’s manufacture; and having a shotgun for use in the operation.

Fifteen of the suspects pleaded guilty only to the conspiracy charge. Their sentences range from 6.75 years to 30 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The longest sentences went to John Savage and Ryan Meyers, who pleaded guilty in September.

In all, Operation Speed Bump has resulted in 78 convictions, said Don Connelly, a regional spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Meeting canceled

The Johnston County Area Mental Health Board meeting scheduled for March 25 has been canceled. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 22.

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