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Grady honored with Governor's Award of Excellence

N.C. Highway Patrol Master Trooper Bennie Grady was recognized Tuesday with the Governor’s Award for Excellence for his work with the North Carolina Troopers Association’s Caisson Unit.

Gov. Roy Cooper honored Grady with a Public Service Award during an online ceremony that recognized 39 state employees for their dedicated service to the state and the people of North Carolina. The Governor’s Awards for Excellence are the highest honor presented to state employees for their service.

“State employees are the backbone of our government,” Cooper said during the ceremony. “You provide valuable services, and our communities and families count on you. Every year we have employees who step up and go the extra mile. This year’s 39 recipients certainly did that.”

Grady, who joined the North Carolina Troopers Association’s Caisson Unit in 2016, offered to house the unit’s eight horses, two horse trailers and two trucks, in 2017, when the unit moved its operations to Wayne County. The caisson unit helps provide funeral honors for law enforcement officers who die in the line of duty in North Carolina. The caisson unit also serves Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

Grady said Wednesday he was proud to win such a prestigious award and he hopes it will bring more recognition to all the members of the caisson unit.

“I am super proud, and it’s a true honor to win such an award,” Grady said. “If it takes take me or anybody else to bring recognition to the caisson unit, then that is what is most important.”

Grady joined the N.C. Highway Patrol in 2002 and was assigned to the field operations division. He has been stationed in Johnston County and Wayne County where he currently serves.

Grady’s work with the horses starts each morning before work and continues in the evenings. He said he looks after the horses and cleans the stable in addition to the work he does each day as a highway patrolman.

“On a typical day I get up and I bring all the horses in, get the barn ready for the day, and then I come to work and work a 10-hour shift,” Grady said. “When I get home, I change and go back to the horses to release them out to the pasture. Everything that is in the (horse) stalls has to come out, and it all has to be cleaned. I repeat that cycle every single day.”

N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Dorsey Jr. said he believes Grady deserves to be honored for his work and service.

“I think Bennie is deserving (of the award),” Dorsey said. “Without Bennie’s work, and without Bennie spearheading it, I don’t know where the caisson unit would be. I don’t even know if it would be existent.”

To raise money for upkeep of the stable and to get equipment needed for the caisson unit, Grady hosts fundraisers where he sells caisson unit apparel, some of which he designed himself. He also works with state legislators and community groups to raise money for the unit.

The Governor’s Awards for Excellence recognizes the accomplishments and actions that are outside of the usual scope of regular job duties. The awards were presented in six categories, including customer service, efficiency and innovation, human relations, outstanding government service, public service and safety and heroism.

“The selfless achievements of this year’s group absolutely merit this high honor,” said Barbara Gibson, state human resources director. “They represent our highest aspirations in meeting the needs of people across our state.”

A video of Grady’s work and award recognition can be found at https://bit.ly/3vPlapc.

Salvation Army gears up for Red Kettle Campaign

The sound of Christmas bells will soon be heard all over Wayne County as the Salvation Army conducts its annual Red Kettle Campaign.

The kettle campaign helps provide gifts for local children for the holidays.

“It’s tentatively scheduled to begin Black Friday, Nov. 26,” said Capt. John Blevins, Salvation Army corps officer. “It goes through Dec. 24 at 2 p.m.”

Blevins said the Salvation Army starts its Red Kettle Campaign on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, because traditionally that’s when the organization is able to get into most of the locations.

“Right now we’re looking at about 10 locations for the kettles,” Blevins said. “But the Salvation Army is still finalizing the agreements. But for sure, we’ll have J.C. Penney and Hobby Lobby.”

In addition to the actual red kettles at various locations throughout Wayne County, the Salvation Army is also setting up, for the second year, an online kettle. Last year it raised about $1,500, Blevins said.

“We considered that a success,” he said.

Blevins said anyone wanting to donate online should Google the Salvation Army of Goldsboro/Wayne County, N.C., and click on the red donate button in the upper right corner of the website. People can use a credit card, debit card or even an e-check from their bank account.

“Also, this year at our kettles, on the kettles will be a tag where donors can use Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo and PayPal apps to donate,” he said. “That will be an option that people can do right at the kettle.”

The Red Kettle Campaign brought in a total of $55,000 last year, Blevins said.

“Our goal was $80,000,” he said. “So we didn’t meet our goal. COVID was a big factor. And we didn’t have a lot of volunteers last year, which we also chalked up to COVID.

“Seniors are our number one demographic for donors and our number one volunteers. We are very appreciative of them. We depend on them.”

Blevins said the Salvation Army hopes to sign up more volunteers to man the kettles this year.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to give us their time,” he said. “So we have a website, www.registertoring.com, where people can go and input a ZIP code, and it will bring up all of the kettle locations.

“They can click a date on the calendar and find what’s open that day. They can select a shift and sign up online. It comes to us, and we know who signed up and for what location and how long they’re going to be doing it.”

Blevins said the online system is set for time slots of four hours for each volunteer.

“What we think is best for people is to get a little group together,” he said. “It’s not too terrible if you can get three of your friends to join you for an hour, then you can take four hours. We’re looking for clubs and Sunday schools, youth groups, school clubs, civic clubs, churches, anybody.”

But Blevins knows that four hours might be daunting for a single person to do all alone.

“If they absolutely want to ring, but there’s no way they can do four hours, they can reach out to me, and I can override the system and put them in for an hour or two,” he said. “We want people to help, but we want to make it as easy as possible.”

Blevins said if a volunteer doesn’t feel comfortable doing the online registering, he or she can call him at 919-735-4811 and he’ll schedule that person himself.

“After they sign up, they’ll get an email with info on their date, time, location,” he said. “After they ring, they’ll get an email thanking them for helping us out.”

“The Salvation Army desperately needs volunteer bell ringers,” Blevins said.

But if not enough volunteers sign up to ring the bell for the Red Kettle Campaign, then the Salvation Army has to hire people temporarily for seasonal employment.

“The good thing about hiring people is that we’re able to take some people that normally wouldn’t be able to have jobs or maybe typical jobs aren’t necessarily a good fit,” Blevins said.

“But they can be a bell ringer and help us raise funds and make a little bit of money at Christmas to help provide for themselves and their families. It’s not a terrible thing, but if we don’t get enough volunteers, we do hire folks.”

Anyone who would like a seasonal job ringing the Salvation Army bell should stop by the office at 610 N. William St. to pick up an application.

Blevins said the Salvation Army is looking for people who are positive, responsible and reliable and who will represent the Salvation Army well.

“For individuals that we do hire, there’s an orientation process where we go over the Salvation Army’s expectations and the ins and outs of seasonal employment,” he said.

“For volunteers, there’s an orientation video that we ask them to watch. And every kettle has a piece of paper on the back with a number to call in an emergency and also for frequently asked questions.”

Kettles will be out from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday until Christmas Eve.

“What we’ve found is that most stores are busiest in Goldsboro from noon to 6 p.m.,” Blevins said. “We try to set our kettle hours to accommodate as many people as we can while also raising the money that we need to raise.”

At the end of each day, someone from the Salvation Army collects the money from the kettles.

UMO to host annual Braswell Lecture

A deputy superintendent with the state Department of Public Instruction will be the featured speaker during the annual Braswell Lecture at the University of Mount Olive.

Robert Taylor, DPI deputy superintendent of student and school advancement, will talk about the effect of COVID-19 and distance learning on academic achievement during the Nov. 9 event that will be at 7 p.m. in the Southern Bank Auditorium on the UMO campus.

“Dr. Taylor has a proven track record when it comes to serving the students of North Carolina, and we look forward to hearing his insights on the impact of COVID-19 and distance learning on academic achievement,” said Amanda Bullard-Maxwell, UMO assistant dean for education.

“The UMO division of education is pleased to have Dr. Robert Taylor as guest lecturer for the Braswell Lecture.”

Taylor began working for DPI in January, after working 10 years, from 2011 to 2021, as the Bladen County Schools superintendent. From 2003 to 2011, he was an assistant superintendent for administrative services for Clinton City Schools, and earlier in his career was a teacher, assistant principal and principal with the Cumberland County school system.

Taylor earned a doctorate of educational leadership and a master’s degree in school administration from Fayetteville State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.

The Braswell Lecture is offered each year at UMO in memory of Jessie Dail Braswell, who taught in Princeton public schools for 34 years and exhibited a lifelong commitment to education. The Braswell Scholarship is funded through the Jessie Dail and Walter Vernon Braswell Endowment.

The Braswell Lecture is open to the public at no cost.

For more information, email to abullard-max well@umo.edu.

Bondsman shooting suspect was on the lam in Goldsboro

The suspect in the shooting of a bondsman in Greenville eluded law enforcement authorities for nine days before he was arrested Tuesday in Goldsboro.

Deante Jamal Beamon, 28, of Greenville, was in hiding and wanted by Pitt County sheriff’s deputies for allegedly shooting one bail bondsman and attempting to shoot two other bondsmen who went to his home at 3366 Beaver Lodge Drive on Oct. 17 in an attempt to revoke Beamon’s bond, said Sgt. Lee Darnell, with the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office.

Beamon was out of jail on bond on charges of possession of firearm by felon, along with drug-related charges, Darnell said. After four bail bondsmen arrived to revoke the bond, Beamon exited the residence, shot one bondsman, unsuccessfully tried to shoot two other bondsmen and took off.

The bondsman who was shot was seriously injured and taken to Vidant Medical Center for treatment. He has since been released and is expected to make a full recovery, Darnell said.

Nine days later, agents with the Fugitive Task Force of the U.S. Marshals Service found Beamon in Goldsboro and requested backup from Goldsboro police to take Beamon into custody.

U.S. Marshals Service agents and about 30 Goldsboro police, including the Goldsboro Police Department Emergency Response Team and Crisis Negotiation Team, went to 281 Johnson Lane, in the Seymour Homes apartment community, in an attempt to serve warrants for Beamon’s arrest at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

When agents and police arrived, Beamon barricaded himself inside the apartment for nearly three hours as crisis negotiators continued to try and talk Beamon into surrendering. After a near three-hour standoff, Beamon left the apartment and was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals Service agents, without incident, at about 1:42 p.m., said LaToya Henry, Goldsboro public information officer.

Beamon is charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and possession of firearm by convicted felon.

Beamon was returned to the custody of the Pitt County Detention Center, where he remains under a $670,000 secured bond, Darnell said.

“I’m very thankful for the hard work done by agencies across the state to locate and arrest this suspect,” said Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance. “The Marshals Service and the Goldsboro Police Department both stepped up and carried out their mission successfully in taking him into custody without anyone being injured.

“This is just another example of the men and women of law enforcement crossing jurisdictions and working hand in hand to get things done quickly, safely, and properly.”