01/02/11 — Top 10: The biggest stories of 2010

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Top 10: The biggest stories of 2010

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on January 2, 2011 1:50 AM


Just months before ground was broken on a new three-story, 410,000-square-foot, 316-bed facility, nurses at Cherry Hospital spoke out about working conditions and the number of injuries being suffered by staff at the hands of patients, especially in the early months of 2010. In fact, from January to August, 251 staff members at Cherry were injured by patients -- at least 75 more than at any other facility for the same time period.

Nurses also spoke out about what they perceived as overly zealous enforcement of zero tolerance policies that don't allow them to protect themselves.

Cherry and state Department of Health and Human Services officials, however, said that if nurses follow the proper guidelines for interacting with patients and protecting themselves, they would not be punished for failing to do so perfectly. They also said that steps were being taken, such as a new unit for the most intensive patients, the increased use of cameras and the hiring of new leadership to change the hospital's culture and reputation, which has suffered in recent years with the loss of federal funding in 2009. However, they also said such changes take time.

The new facility, though, is expected by many to make a difference, both in quality of care and in patient and staff safety with its state-of-the-art design, including residential patient care units, therapy and medical facilities and service and administrative support areas all under one roof. Parts of the current facility are about 90 years old, while its youngest buildings are at least 50 years old. Cherry, established in 1880, serves 38 counties.


State health officials have confirmed six deaths in connection with a hepatitis B outbreak at GlenCare assisted living facility in Mount Olive. In total, since August, eight residents have tested positive for hepatitis B, many of the cases related to the inappropriate use of diabetic pens and other equipment. The facility was fined $20,000 by the state Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Health Service Regulations.

In the state Department of Health and Human Services report, the state found that glucometers were stored in a single compartment in a drawer of the medication cart with no obvious lableing of patient names, that a spray bottle labeled bleach was on top of the cart without with concentration clearly labeled, that glucometers and adjustable lancing devices were not routinely cleaned and disinfected between uses and were used on more than one patient, and that employees were only allowed one box of gloves per shift and often had to purchase their own.


In a surprisingly short trial, former Marine Cesar Laurean was found guilty of the Dec. 14, 2007 first-degree murder of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach on Aug. 23. The trial, which was moved from Onslow to Wayne county because of pretrial publicity, began on Aug. 9 and had been expected to take at least a month to complete. It also wasn't as heavily attended as many local officials had feared. The trial and sentencing featured testimony from fellow Marines, mother Mary Lauterbach and State Bureau of Investigation investigators. Laurean was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


The Republican wave made its way through Wayne County as former state Rep. Louis Pate beat state Sen. Don Davis, D-Greene, to claim the District 5 seat formerly held by state Sen. John Kerr, D-Wayne. Pate had lost his bid for the seat in 2008. In District 10, Republican Stephen LaRoque defeated state Rep. Van Braxton, D-Lenoir. Retaining their seats was state Sen. David Rouzer, R-Johnston, and state Rep. Efton Sager, R-Wayne. In Duplin County, Republicans Jimmy Dixon and Brent Jackson defeated opponents for the state House District 4 and state Senate District 10, respectively after the incumbents, Rep. Russell Tucker and Sen. Charlie Albertson declined to run for re-election. The lone Democrat retaining his seat was Larry Bell, D-Sampson, who defeated Deann Porier of Mount Olive.

The near Republican sweep contributed to the party taking control of both chambers of the state Legislature for the first time since shortly after the late 1800s.

In other races of note, Republican Sheriff Carey Winders defeated challenger Glenn Barnes, Arnold Flowers defeated incumbent Board of Education member George Moye in District 5 and Rick Pridgen held onto his District 6 seat.


State Highway Patrol officials recorded 20 traffic fatalities in 2010 -- compared to 18 in both 2009 and 2008 -- with seven of them occuring in two wrecks, one near Pikeville and the other near Mount Olive.

On Sept. 18, on U.S. 117 Alternate in front of Tri-County Electric, Jeremy Elijah Bryant Pate, 20, Dudley; Gordon Lane, 41, Mount Olive; Joseph Lee Carter, 22, Dudley; and Jerrod Roddick McKiver, 20, Dudley, were all killed in a two-vehicle wreck. Pate, the driver of one of the vehicles was found to be at fault with a blood alcohol level of 0.14.

On Oct. 10, on N.C. 222 near the intersection with Airport Road, Joshua Brantley, 25, Fremont; Jacob Floars, 17, Fremont; and Ashley Haskins, 18, Fremont, were killed in a single car accident. The driver, Mark Aaron Pope, 17, was found to be at fault and charged with three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of felony death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired and careles and reckless driving after being found to have had a 0.16 blood alcohol level and traces of marijuana in his system. Floars was a current student at Charles B. Aycock High School, while Pope and Ms. Haskins were Aycock graduates.


The Goldsboro City Council, after investing more than $1 million over the last several years to fund plans to build a recretion center in downtown Goldsboro, voted the project down on April 25 in 4-3 vote with Jackie Warrick, Donnie Chatman, Bob Waller and Michael Headen voting against the project.

"It's dead now. I don't know when it will be discussed again, but right now, it's dead," Mayor Al King said then.

The decision to vote down the project disappointed officials with the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. and other city council members who were expecting the center to help drive people downtown.

Then on Sept. 1, the City Council approved going forward with the redesign of the downtown streetscape, returning to what urban designer Allison Platt described as a throwback to the way Center Street once looked -- 18-foot sidewalks, underground utilities, a walkable median, more open green space and the elimination of the holly trees that run down the middle of the street. Councilmen Bob Waller and Jackie Warrick voted against the motion, while Michael Headen abstained.

And finally, on Nov. 12, ground was broken on a new veteran's memorial park at the site of the former Wayne County Memorial Community Building. The site will include a pavilion, the bronze plaques that were once housed in the Community Building, flaags, a tribute to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, and a large granite map of Wayne County with the names of those who died in war listed within their respective townships.

The effort is the brainchild of the Wayne County Memorial Association.

The goal is to have the project complete, hopefully, by Memorial Day.


Goldsboro and Wayne County saw nearly 19 inches of snow in 2010, with major snowfalls on Jan. 30, Feb. 14 and Dec. 26. Despite spanning two winters, the snowfall total, National Weather officials said the 18.6 inch total is quite high for Goldsboro for year's time.

On Jan. 30, the county saw three to four inches of snow and ice -- a weather event that included a tragic accident when Marc Glenn Walston, 21, was hit by a snowplow while walking on U.S. 70 West.

On Feb. 13, anywhere from six to eight inches of snow fell across Wayne County, while on Dec. 26, in the first Christmastime snowfall anyone could remember, 10 to 11 inches fell and stayed on the ground for several days as North Carolina wrapped up the third coldest December on record, according to National Weather Service officials.

But while the snows may have caused headaches for commuters and businesses, it provided a rare opportunity for children across the county to build snowmen, igloos and to go sledding.


Col. Mark Kelly relinquished command of the 4th Fighter Wing on April 1 at a ceremony at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Moments later, former Vice Commander Col. Patrick Doherty officially took the reins from 9th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. William Holland. Kelly had served as commander since September 2008. Among his 18 months leading the wing, one of his most visible accomplishments was the construction of dozens of shelters to cover the Strike Eagles and help shield the airmen from the elements. After passing the reins to Doherty, Kelly next posting was in Hawaii.

Since then, Doherty has had to deal with the 336th Rocketeers being redeployed sooner than expected and for a longer deployment that in the past -- six months rather than four -- and with the deaths of three airmen in their homes, none by suspicious means. Additionally, Doherty has had to guide the 4th Fighter Wing through an Operational Readiness Inspection, which it passed with a "satisfactory" rating.


2010 saw several of Wayne County's leading residents pass away, leaving holes not only in the hearts of mourning families, but also in the hearts of the many people who knew and loved them. Among those who passed were:

* Kenneth Deacon Jones, 69, died Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla. A businessman who owned 12 car dealerships, including three in Goldsboro, Jones was perhaps best known for his often quiet community philanthropy and his deep Christian faith.

* Earl Whitted Jr., 78, died Jan. 8 at Wayne Memorial Hospital. Whitted was the first black member of the Goldsboro City Council, first elected in 1964 and serving until 1987. An attorney, though, Whitted was found guilty in the 1980s of embezzling funds from clients.

* Bruce Stallings "Chubby" Bridgers, 83, died March 17 at Wake Medical Center. A former Goldsboro city councilman, Bridgers was known for his interests in fine horses and cars. He also played football at Duke University and was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

* Howard A. "Buddy" Shaw Sr., 70, died May 2 at Wake Medical Center. Shaw served on the Goldsboro City Council from 1970 until 1979, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners from 1988 to 1992, and with the state Office of Emergency Management. He also was active with the Goldsboro Rescue and EMS and officiated the 1991 North Carolina-South Carolina High School Shrine Bowl.

* Jimmy Kornegay, 68, died May 12 at Wayne Memorial Hospital. Kornegay, a former Mount Olive town commissioner had been hospitalized since April 6 when he spent a night lost in a wooded area west of town, exacerbating medical conditions he was already suffering from, including diabetes. Kornegay was known for his focus on the town's emergency services, fire and police departments.

* Dr. Patrick Sasser, 80, died June 5. Sasser, a longtime Goldsboro physician, died from injuries sustained after being hit in the head by a baseball at a game at the Boys and Girls Club June 1. Sasser practiced medicine from 1958 to 1990.

* Daniel Jerome "Jiggs" Fussell Sr., 96, of Rose Hill, died Aug. 24 in Kenansville. The founder of Duplin Winery, along with his two sons, Fussell also served as mayor of Rose Hill and for 32 years, as a member of the Duplin County Board of Commissioners.

* Dr. Clyde Erwin, 81, died Nov. 10 at Kitty Askins. Erwin, former Wayne Community College president, is credited with helping move community colleges from technical institutions to their current form today. He also hired two people who would go on to serve as presidents -- Dr. Ed Wilson and Dr. Kay Albertson.

* Clyde King, 86, died Nov. 2 at Wayne Memorial Hospital. King, a Goldsboro native, played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinati Reds, and managed the San Francisco Giants, the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees. It was with the Yankees, though, that he made his mark becoming a special assistant to the the late owner George Steinbrenner.

* Willie Ray Starling, 70, died Dec. 5. Starling, a retired U.S. Navy Reserve chief petty officer, was active in the Wayne County Republican Party and ran unsuccessfully for state political office, House District 11 in 2002, and House District 10 in 2004 and 2006. He also ran unsuccessfully for the county Board of Commissioners District 6 in 2008. But he was best known for his annual portrayals of Santa Claus, even visiting area families at their homes on Christmas Eve.


In some circles, 2010 is likely to be remembered as the year Wayne County prepared to said goodbye to three of its police chiefs.

The week of Thanksgiving, Fremont Police Chief R.K. Rawlings announced his retirement and by Nov. 30, he was on his way to Dubai as he headed to Afghanistan to train Afghan police officers.

Also announcing their retirements were Goldsboro Police Chief Tim Bell and Mount Olive Police Chief Ralph Schroeder. Both retirements will be effective on March 1. Both chiefs are leaving after nearly 30 years at their respective departments. Bell has served as chief since 2002, Schroeder, since 2006.

In addition, Goldsboro City Manager Joe Huffman announced that he will be retiring on March 1, and Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Director Steve Hicks retired on Dec. 31, though he has agreed to stay on through January as the chamber continues its search for a replacement. Huffman, who began his civil service career nearly 30 years ago, has spent six years in Goldsboro.

On the Wayne County Board of Education, Shirley Sims stepped down on June 30 as she moved to Garner. The Wayne County Board of Commissioners, under a one-of-a-kind agreement with the school board dating back to the consolidation of the county and city school systems, appointed Len Henderson to fill out her term. He took his seat on Aug. 10.

And finally, Hal Tanner Jr. retired on May 30 after 26 years as publisher of the News-Argus. His son, Hal Tanner III, the general manager for the last decade, is now the paper's publisher.