People are still investing time and money in Wayne County and city of Goldsboro — even during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And both the county and city continue to move forward with millions of dollars in infrastructure and other projects designed to improve government services and the overall quality of life.
That was the assessment of Goldsboro Mayor David Ham, City Manager Tim Salmon, Wayne County Commission Chairman Wayne Aycock and County Manger Craig Honeycutt during Tuesday morning’s State of the Community program held at the Goldsboro Event Center.
They acknowledged the pandemic’s adverse effects, but instead of dwelling on them focused on the future and the resiliency of the city and county.
They spoke as well of the cooperation between the city and county on various projects and issues.
Thankfully, the number of COVID-19 cases is trending downward countywide and 52% of the county’s population is at least partially vaccinated and 47% is fully vaccinated, Aycock said.
To make appointment, visit www.waynegov.com/vaccine.
The vaccine site has changed from the old Bussmann building on Dixie Trail to the old Food Lion store in the Little River Shopping Center, Aycock said.
The county is working with the city to bring a hotel to the area next to the Maxwell Center on Wayne Memorial Drive, he said.
The plans for the hotel have been approved and survey work has started, Aycock said.
The recently completed census indicates that the county lost about 5,300 residents over the past 10 years — a decrease that Aycock said he does not agree with.
“I can’t explain why (the decrease), but I just don’t agree with it,” Aycock said.
Following the census, the county voting district map for commissioners and the school board were redrawn and were just approved by commissioners, he said.
“The map changed very little,” he said. “All the elected officials, commissioners and school board, the districts they are living in did not change.”
Honeycutt highlighted some of the projects underway in Wayne County,
“We’ve been doing a lot of things in the county and one of the big things that we have been working on is you probably saw we had tax increases here of four and a half cents,” Honeycutt said. “But as the chairman mentioned, we have a lot of capital projects that we’re working on.”
The county 2021-22 budget included a 4.4-cent property tax increase, on each $100 in property valuation, for capital projects that include $25 million for a new building to house the Department of Social Services and the Health Department; $5 million for a new Fremont elementary school; $25 million to expand the Cary A. Winders Detention Center; and $3 million to support completion of the Wayne Community College Advanced Manufacturing Center.
County employees consider themselves to be essential workers because they have to ensure that people have access to the services they need, he said.
They can’t do so by working from home, so basically they have worked through the pandemic, Honeycutt said.
“Were here for you,” Honeycutt said. “Again, we’re public servants. We always say that, you know, you have heard the old saying you can’t fight city hall.
“You shouldn’t have to fight city hall. We’re here for you. So if you’ve got issues or concerns, please let us know and we’ll try to help you out as much as we can.”
Ham thanked the audience for attending, adding that it helps for residents to be aware of what is going on in the city of Goldsboro.
Coming out of COVID, the theme of the recent Freedom Fest was “One Community,” Ham said.
“I truly believe we have one of the finest military and civilian communities in the country here in Goldsboro,” Ham said. “That was evident to anyone who attended the activities that recognized our military, first-responders and their families for their sacrifices, from the volunteers of nonprofit organizations that stood up to organize the various events to the business sponsors who supported them.”
It truly was a monumental effort that resulted in the largest festival the city has seen in recent history, he said.
Ham said that underscored what he wanted to talk about — the resilience of the city and county.
Both have been through a number of crises over the past five years, including Hurricanes Matthew and Florence and the pandemic, he said.
Through it all, however, Goldsboro, Wayne County and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base have fared rather well, he said.
The city used $967,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to fund public health measures, he said.
The city will use $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan funding over the next three years to enhance budgetary and financial security, Ham said.
In addition, the city will receive $907,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address homeless, he said. A commission, to determine how the money will be allocated, will be formed soon, Ham said.
Ham said of personal interest to him is the creation of an economic development plan. Ham said he thinks such a plan is essential to guide how the city prepares for growth.
When it comes to a safe and secure community, most people might think of the police department first, Salmon said.
“Our overall crime rate continues to decline,” he said. “It was about 78 crimes per 1,000 people back in 2015. Now, today, it’s 58. That’s about a 25% decrease, or 5% per year. (I) can’t thank the police department enough for this.
“They’ve done a great job. They’ve also professionalized their force with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies with the certification we got last November.”
The city also hosts community policing events where officers may help landscape someone’s home who needs it or holding a kickball event or a cookout, he said.
The city increased the pay to retain officers, too, Salmon said.
The city fire department not only responds quickly, but is also very good at water rescues and was recently certified by the North Carolina Rescue Association, he said.
The city and county enjoy a strong and diverse economy that includes Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Salmon said.
“During COVID we have people investing in Goldsboro,” he said. “One of the larger ones is Atlantic Casualty Insurance at ($12.8 million).
“We’re expecting business and industry growth with some announcements soon (and a) dtrong diverse economy downtown. It is one of the great places I think in eastern North Carolina for a downtown.”
Thus far, $66 million has been invested resulting in 400 net jobs, 68 net businesses and 167 building renovations, he said.
“Our sports tourism is also a big piece of our economic stability here,” he said. “Tourism in general was $142 million last year, down 24% due to COVID, but we expect it to come back in 2021.
“And the Bryan Multi-Sport Complex is a huge gainer for us in that — $1.5 million last year.”
Affordable housing is an issue in the city, he said.
City Council has a public hearing coming up on the Tiffany Gardens project and will hopefully make a decision to support it with $500,000 of HUD home funding to help make that project happen, he said.
The city is helping in other projects, too, that would enhance affordable housing, he said.
The Men of Faith, Integrity and Character of Mount Olive is starting a brand new scholarship for students, the Samuel Platt Community Service Scholarship.
It will honor the late Platt, who died back in August.
“He did so many things,” said his friend Al Southerland, who served with Platt in many endeavors through Men of FIC and other groups.
Southerland said Platt, 71, was a trustee at his church, Northeast Chapel Original Free Will Baptist, and a member of the senior choir.
“He was a faithful member of the Bible study group and prayer meeting,” Southerland said. “Sam was pretty much known as the handy man of the church. If something needed to be done, he either knew how to do it (or) knew how to get it done.”
Platt was also treasurer and co-founder of Men of FIC, a nonprofit organization that works to help others in need, which was started in January 2011. He was also a member of the Friends of the Park organization in Mount Olive.
And Platt was the president of Unity Heights Community Crime Watch.
“They didn’t have many young people or men in the community,” Southerland said. “Most were women up in age. They didn’t think they could it justice so they disbanded temporarily.
“They donated what funds they had to Men of FIC for no particular purpose, but just because they know that Sam was a member of FIC. When they did, I told them about the scholarship fund we’re going to do, so we decided to take the monies they gave us and that would be the first installment into the scholarship fund. The donation was over $1,900.”
Southerland said the Men of FIC members are working on scholarship requirements.
“I think a couple of things will be what the individual person is going to school for and what they need,” he said. “We want to give it to somebody that needs the scholarship. And hopefully they will be in a field leaning toward helping others.”
Southerland said how many scholarships will be given each year depends on donations to the fund.
The Men of FIC organization plans on giving out the first scholarship in May or June during graduation.
Anyone wanting to make a donation can send a check to Men of FIC, P.O. Box 1066, Mount Olive, N.C., 28365. Put in the memo line, Samuel Platt Scholarship Fund.
Southerland said Men of FIC members are in the process of working out the details on how people can apply for the scholarship.
He said the organization got Platt’s daughter, Bianca Platt, involved in the process, too.
“My Daddy was a knowledgeable, humble, gentle, kind, caring, honest man with a servant’s heart,” she said. “He loved his family, friends and his community. He believed in making a good difference in everything the did. If he could help, he would.
“Never the one for recognition, but to know he had a hand in making the community and people around him better was always his reward. He loved togetherness and to see his community in fellowship with one another.”
Platt said her father’s strength, determination, dedication, will power and servant’s heart live on through the many people he touched in the community over the years.
Men of FIC began because “we saw a need in the community,” Southerland said. “The community needed men to step up and take their rightful place in the community.”
Southerland said any need that comes to the group’s attention, its members try to help with. And if they can’t do it themselves, they find a nonprofit that can help.
Several Wayne County public schools will have new principals by the first of the year.
The Wayne County Board of Education approved the principal changes during its monthly meeting, said Ken Derksen, executive director for community engagement and student and family support, with Wayne County Public Schools.
Some of the principal changes are due to planned retirements as well as other career-related decisions.
Superintendent David Lewis said district leaders will offer support during the transition. One principal will begin this week and six will take on their new roles after the first of the year, Derksen said.
“I would like to extend a very special thank you to those principals who are leaving to start a new chapter in their lives for all that they have done in their careers with WCPS and for all that they have done to keep education happening throughout COVID,” Lewis said.
“We look forward to welcoming these new and veteran principals to their new roles. They have all demonstrated they are effective leaders.”
Thomas Young Jr., assistant principal of Mount Olive Middle School, will become the principal of Brogden Middle School, effective Thursday.
Young succeeds Damesha Smith, who has taken a position with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Young has a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering technology and a master’s degree in education leadership. He began his career in education in 2005 as a technology/instruction assistant with Guilford County Schools. In 2007, he became a technology education teacher prior to starting at Mount Olive Middle as assistant principal in 2018.
Andrew Mitchell, assistant principal at Charles B. Aycock High School, will become the new principal of Grantham Middle School, effective Jan. 1.
Mitchell succeeds Makita Jenkins, who will retire at the end of the year. Mitchell has an associate degree in education, bachelor’s degree in social studies education and a master’s degree in executive leadership. He began his career with Wayne County Public Schools in 2005 as a social studies teacher at Southern Wayne High School. He later became assistant principal at Charles B. Aycock High in 2013.
Michael Jones, assistant principal of Southern Wayne High School, will become the new principal of Greenwood Middle School, effective Jan. 1.
Jones succeeds Connie Harrell, who will retire at the end of the year. Jones has a bachelor’s degree in history/political science, master’s degree in teaching with a secondary social studies concentration and a master’s degree in school administration. He started his career in 2004 as a social studies teacher at Spring Creek High School. In 2016, he was named assistant principal of Greene Central High School. He returned to WCPS as assistant principal of Southern Wayne High in 2019.
Nicole Carter, assistant principal at Rosewood Middle School since August, will become principal of Northeast Elementary School, effective Jan. 1.
Carter succeeds Julie West, who plans to retire at the end of the year. Carter has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in school administration. She was a teacher at Rosewood Elementary School in 1997, human resources lead teacher and teaching and learning coach with the school’s central office in 2007, a curriculum facilitator and lead instructional coach at Meadow Lane Elementary School in 2009 and assistant principal of Northeast Elementary School in 2016.
Tammy Keel, principal of Eastern Wayne Middle School since 2019, will take over as principal at Spring Creek Middle School, effective Jan. 1.
Keel succeeds Cheryll Price, who will retire at the end of the year. Keel has an associate degree in business administration, a bachelor’s degree in management and organization development, a master’s degree in school administration and a doctorate degree in leadership in educational administration. She started with WCPS in 1999 as a business/vocational teacher at Mount Olive Middle School. In 2004, she was hired as assistant principal of Grantham School and later at Brogden Middle School. In 2010, she became the principal of Mount Olive Middle School. In 2017, she was hired as the school improvement grant specialist at Carver Heights Elementary School. In 2018, she was named a lead instructional coach for the district.
Eric Waters will be the principal of Eastern Wayne Middle School, effective Jan. 1.
Waters, who succeeds Keel as principal, has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiotherapy, a K-12 physical education teaching certificate, a master’s degree in sports management, an emotional disability special education certificate and a master’s degree in school administration. He began as a physical education teacher with Lenoir County Schools in 1997. In 2002, Waters became an exceptional children’s teacher. In 2010, he was hired as a physical education teacher at Goldsboro High School. In 2015, he was named assistant principal of North Johnston High School and most recently assistant principal of Riverwood Middle School in Clayton.
Holly Ball will be principal at Rosewood Elementary School, effective Jan. 1.
Ball will succeed Charles Smith, who will retire at the end of the year.
Ball has an associate degree in education, a bachelor’s degree in middle school education and a master’s degree in school administration. She was a teacher at E.B. Frink Middle School in 2004, a math teacher at North Lenoir High School in 2009, a secondary curriculum coordinator with Lenoir County Schools central office in 2012, assistant principal at E.B. Frink Middle School in 2016 and principal of Trenton Elementary School in Jones County in 2018.