12/31/12 — The top ten stories of Wayne County and Goldsboro in 2012

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The top ten stories of Wayne County and Goldsboro in 2012

By Staff Reports
Published in News on December 31, 2012 1:46 PM

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Wayne County's five Republican commissioners share a laugh prior to being sworn into office by N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby. From left are Wayne Aycock, Joe Daughtery, Bill Pate, Steve Keen, who was elected chairman, and Ray Mayo, who was elected vice chairman. It is the first time since the Reconstruction era that Republicans have controlled the county commission.

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Col. Jeannie Leavitt, right, salutes as she assumes command of the 4th Fighter Wing on June 1 -- the first woman in the Air Force to command a fighter wing.

1. Republicans gained control of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners for the first time since Reconstruction with the election of Joe Daughtery to the District 6 seat, Bill Pate to the District 5 seat, Wayne Aycock to the at-large seat, and the re-election of Steve Keen to the District 4 seat and Ray Mayo to the District 1 seat. Republicans now represent every district drawn for a white majority of voters by the district system ordered by the federal government in the late 1980s.

2. Murders up in city, county. Wayne County and Goldsboro saw 19 people murdered this year -- the most recorded this century. It's a total that was headlined by the high-profile kidnapping and brutal murder of teenager Kennedy McLaurin Jr., 16, in September.

3. Col. Jeannie Leavitt takes command of the 4th Fighter Wing, becoming the first woman to hold a wing commander position in the history of the United States Air Force.

4. Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque, who had represented the eastern part of Wayne County in the Legislature for several terms, was charged by federal prosecutors with using federal grant money for his own use. Charges of tax evasion were later added to the indictments.

5. The first phase of the downtown Streetscape project, which took in the block from Ash to Mulberry, was finished in November, in time for the city's Veteran's Day Parade. The controversial changeover is expected to continue, with the rest of Center Street being revamped to make it more aesthetic and more user-friendly for pedestrian traffic.

6. Board of Elections director resigns. Vickie Reed abruptly resigned as director of the Wayne County Board of Elections in June not long after the May primary. Her resignation came after closed sessions of the Board of Elections and allegations that questioned Ms. Reed's comments in a state redistricting hearing and her knowledge of the election process. Assistant Director Michael Barry also resigned.

7. County Commissioner J.D. Evans dies. The beloved educator and politician succumbed to cancer in December at age 71, soon after winning re-election to a fifth term in office. The District 2 representative was a school teacher and administrator for most of his life and was known for his friendliness and good humor.

8. De-annexation is official. Without fanfare, the area immediately northwest of Goldsboro officially moved outside the city limits on July 1, after a near decade-long legal battle with the city. In the end property owners who opposed annexation got help from the Legislature, which deemed the Phase 11 annexation, along with a number of others across the state, invasive of property owner rights.

9. Senior center dedicated. The Peggy M. Seegars Senior Center officially opened its doors in October. Along with a larger facility, the new center offers extended hours and programs.

10. Wayne County residents began having to dial the 919 prefix before local calls after telephone service providers split the 919 district to accommodate more callers. Authorities immediately reported a spike in the number of misdialed 911 calls. Callers are still getting used to the change.

Other stories that arguably deserved top 10 recognition included: Jury acquits three men charged with killing convenience store owner Ribhi Mohammed Kandeel; Wayne man dies of West Nile virus; Miss North Carolina Hailey Best of Goldsboro finishes in top 15 at Miss America Pageant; interim Police Chief Jeff Stewart named the new chief; City Council approves consultant for Air Force museum; Goldsboro High graduation rates increase; Stoney Creek Park Alliance dissolves; former Health Director Tom Roosen dies; Fair Manager Milton Ingram announces retirement; and Wayne resident Richard Daveler wins $1 million in the N.C. Education Lottery.