Year in Review – July – September

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 5, 2004

The top headlines during the third quarter of 2003 (July through September) included Hurricane Isabel slamming into the local area, Roanoke-Chowan Community College (RCCC) Board of Trustees voting to retain the services of embattled president Dr. Mary C. Wyatt, the arrest of a prison employee for plotting to kill four co-workers as well as the arrest of former Hertford County High School principal Larry Ellis on sex charges.

July 1, 2003

# Ahoskie author Sharon W. Askew releases her first work of fiction – &uot;Down in Lonesome Grove&uot; – a story of child abuse.

# Six area students – Britney Riddick, Lantrel Robinson, Erin France, Sheril Tyson, Candace Brown and Latoria Lassiter – shared $6,000 in scholarship money during the bi-annual Dr. Joseph D. Weaver Scholarship Foundation banquet at the Nebo Baptist Church Family Life Center.

July 3, 2003

# After months of speculation, the RCCC Board of Trustees vote to not to extend a contract to college president Dr. Mary C. Wyatt, but will allow her to continue in her position, working &uot;at the pleasure of the Board.&uot; In a related matter, the Trustees upheld several grievances filed by the RCCC Faculty Association against Wyatt, but deemed her &uot;blameless.&uot;

# The local area mourns the passing of John Blanton Sr. He served as president of Roanoke-Chowan Hospital for over 30 years, leading the medical facility through many positive changes.

July 5, 2003

# Two men – Lamont Williams and Terrence Powell – were sentenced for the roles they played in the May, 2001 murder of Conway First Citizens Bank teller Carolyn Watson. Their murder convictions bring the number to four sentenced thus far in the case.

# Escaped Gates County inmate Fred Carpenter Jr., along with his girlfriend, is captured in Connecticut. Carpenter escaped while on work detail in Winton.

July 8, 2003

# Despite expressing remorse for his actions, ones that allegedly included a complaint lodged by a taxpayer, Hertford County Tax Collector Kenneth M. Williams is terminated by the Hertford County Board of Commissioners. Williams had been on administrative leave prior to the vote.

# Local towns launch a war on mosquitoes as they begin spraying campaigns to help head off the spread of the West Nile Virus.

# Ahoskie’s Higher Ground Pentecostal Holiness Church hosts a tribute to area firefighters, law enforcement officers, rescue squad personnel and military members.

July 10, 2003

# Naquain &uot;Gilly&uot; Smallwood of Lewiston is transferred into federal custody on drug charges. Smallwood was called &uot;a major drug trafficker&uot; in the R-C area by local lawmen.

# Two Hertford County employees – Brenda Allen and Avis Murphy – were recognized as statewide winners of the prestigious Ketner Award.

July 12, 2003

# Robberies at an Ahoskie convenience store and a Murfreesboro restaurant kept local law officers busy searching for the suspects.

# Two-term Ahoskie Town Councilman Andrew Hunter resigns. His vacant seat is sought by Ahoskie businessman Larry &uot;Cutt&uot; Vann and former Hertford County Sheriff Winfred Hardy.

July 15, 2003

# The second annual Alison Luna CPR Awareness Day is held in Ahoskie. Luna, a popular student at Hertford County Middle School, died tragically in the classroom in 2002.

July 17, 2003

# Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant orders a new trial for death row inmate Alan Gell of Lewiston-Woodville. Earlier, Grant threw out Gell’s 1998 murder conviction based on the prosecution withholding key evidence from the defense team.

# James Smith of Milwaukee and Johnny Sumner of Como respectively report the first official cotton blooms in Northampton and Hertford counties.

July 19, 2003

# The Secretary of the U.S. Navy announces that Washington County is their choice of locations for an outlying landing field, ruling out Bertie County in the process. Bertie citizens and elected leaders had voiced their displeasure over the matter.

# Former Northampton County jailer Keith Lamar Williams is sentenced to 16-20 months for accepting a bribe and helping an inmate to escape.

July 22, 2003

# A three-alarm fire in Ahoskie guts a residence, leaving a 13-member family homeless. No one is injured in the blaze.

# Bertie County’s Norman Cherry Jr. is hailed as one of the four best Division of Community of Corrections officers in the state.

July 24, 2003

# Bertie Commissioners approve the purchase of over 200 acres near Windsor where the state plans to construct a 1,000-bed prison. The facility promises to bring over 400 jobs to the area.

July 26, 2003

# Using a Powellsville address, Othneil Askew purchased a handgun that he used in the slaying of New York City Councilman James E. Davis. It is also learned the Askew registered to vote in Bertie County, where he reportedly has family, but later withdrew that registration.

July 29, 2003

# Former Ahoskie Mayor Charles I. Pierce Sr., the man who built a commercial printing business in the town, passes away at age 85.

# Dorothea Hansley of Ahoskie is charged with felonious hit-and-run after striking a young pedestrian.

July 31, 2003

# Sylvia Wilkins, an employee at Rivers Correctional Institution near Winton, is arrested and charged with four counts to commit a felony – first-degree murder. All of the intended targets were co-workers.

# Bertie County officials plot strategy to keep the local VF Jeanswear plant open in Windsor. The company recently announced plant closings in Windsor and Wilson, affecting 350 total workers.

August 2, 2003

# Senators from seven states, including North Carolina’s elected leaders, announce a proposed tobacco buyout deal that could add up to $6 billion for NC growers of the &uot;golden leaf.&uot;

August 5, 2003

# The rain sometimes fell in buckets, but it failed to dampen the spirits of the 18th annual North Carolina Watermelon Festival in Murfreesboro where tens of thousands of patrons reportedly attended the four-day event.

August 7, 2003

# Willie Whitehead Jr. is arrested by Rich Square Police Chief Bo Roye after Whitehead allegedly shot his sister and his nephew during a family squabble.

# A special provision in state law opens the door for Sue Gay to shun her title of Interim Health Director in Northampton County and assume the role of permanent director.

August 9, 2003

# Larry &uot;Cutt&uot; Vann is appointed to fill the unexpired term of Ahoskie Councilman Andrew Hunter who formally resigned last month.

August 12, 2003

# The Hertford County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement Unit makes a big impact on drug trafficking along US 13 as Deputy Neil Ambrose arrests Shaun Faulk of Suffolk for possession of $28,000 worth of crack cocaine.

# After retiring from 30 years of service in educational administration within the Gates County Public School system, Elton Winslow is officially named as the new headmaster at Ridgecroft School.

August 14, 2003

# Former Hertford County High School principal Larry Ellis Jr. surrenders to local authorities on the heels of allegations that he was involved in sexual misconduct against students at the high school.

# The fourth annual Josh Lane Golf Classic to benefit juvenile diabetes research hits an all-time high as the one-day event raises over $30,000.

August 16, 2003

# Northampton County law enforcement officers arrest Timmy Wayne Little of Garysburg on marijuana and gun charges. A total of 59 pot plants and nine weapons were seized in the raid on Little’s home.

# Former Ahoskie Police officer Jimmy Barmer is sworn in as Chief of the Aulander Police Department.

# The &uot;Triple-E&uot; virus, one spread by mosquitoes, kills four horses in the R-C area.

August 19, 2003

# Sylvia Wilkins, charged with plotting to kill four of her co-workers at Rivers Correctional Institution, waives her probable cause. Her bond is cut in half from the original $600,000.

August 21, 2003

# The Southern Bank branch office on Main Street in Murfreesboro is robbed, shortly after a bank heist occurred in nearby Boykins, Va. Lawmen in both states are working on leads to see if the robberies are connected.

# A pair of Northampton County young ladies, Mollie Boone and Daisy Daughtry, will compete in the 2004 Roanoke Valley Junior Miss Scholarship Program.

August 23, 2003

# Five Gates County High School students are arrested in a drug scheme at the school.

# Ahoskie Fire Department Chaplin Richard &uot;Red&uot; Oakley is praised by the American Red Cross for making his 100th donation to a blood drive.

August 26, 2003

# Three men – two from Ahoskie and one from Kinston – are killed and five others injured during a deadly traffic crash just north of the Winton bridge on US 13.

# Warrants are drawn for the arrest of Leroy Thomas Woodley of Murfreesboro, wanted for recent bank robberies in both Murfreesboro and Boykins, Va.

August 28, 2003

# The &uot;roller-coaster&uot; ride ends at RCCC as the Board of Trustees promise to devote their efforts to assure the college offers a top-quality education.

# In an emotional scene, Ava Burden of Ahoskie is reunited with her son, Mark, after 34 years of separation.

August 30, 2003

# Ahoskie’s Town Council approves a measure that will increase the salaries and benefits of the town’s 60 employees.

# In their continuing effort to reach out to migrant laborers working in the local area, volunteers conduct a free medical and dental clinic at Ahoskie’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

September 2, 2003

# Local law enforcement officers are placed on alert after Bennie Hobbs escapes from prison in the western part of the state. Hobbs was convicted in 1999 for a double murder in his native Northampton County.

# Officials with three of the four school systems in the R-C area express disappointment after learning that SAT scores in Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties remain among the lowest in the state.

September 4, 2003

# Bennie Hobbs surrenders to authorities in Montgomery, Ala. where he was captured following his escape from prison.

# RCCC offers classes in emergency rescue on the Chowan River.

September 6, 2003

# Four Hertford County High School students, including three members of the varsity football team, are arrested and charged with the sexual assault of a juvenile on the school’s campus.

# NCDOT says it will not place a stoplight at the infamous &uot;11-and-11&uot; intersection, the site of numerous accidents and a few deaths over the years.

September 9, 2003

# Edward Hartman is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Oct. 3 for the 1993 murder of Larry Smith Jr. of the Ashley’s Grove community in Northampton County.

September 11, 2003

# Citing an increase in product demand, Lowes Improvement Warehouse officials announce they will increase the workforce at its regional distribution center in Northampton County by 100 employees.

# Ahoskie filmmaker Ian Brett is back to work on his latest movie – &uot;From Midnight to Morning, Baby.&uot; The majority of the filming is taking place in the local R-C area.

September 13, 2003

# In the first hint of things to come, officials with the National Hurricane Center predict that Hurricane Isabel, currently a Category 5 storm, will threaten the U.S. mainland.

# Hundreds gather in ceremonies throughout the Roanoke-Chowan area to remember 9-11-01.

September 16, 2003

# Still packing winds of 160 mph, Hurricane Isabel makes a beeline for the North Carolina coast, prompting local officials to begin gearing up for the impact of the storm.

# Three masked bandits, each brandishing handguns, rob the Duck Thru Convenience Store on NC 561 near Ahoskie. Store employees were left shaken, but uninjured.

September 18, 2003

# Although her winds are not packing the same punch as just a few days ago, locals are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Isabel as the storm is expected to make landfall today somewhere along the central North Carolina coast.

September 20, 2003

# Packing sustained winds of 80-to-90 mph with higher gusts, Hurricane Isabel cuts a path through northeastern North Carolina, causing considerable, widespread damage in the local area. Electrical power is out in each of the four local counties and citizens are scrambling to find food, water, and in some cases, shelter.

September 23, 2003

# Roanoke Electric and Dominion NC Power solicit and receive help from other electrical companies in North Carolina and other states in an effort to restore power to thousands of local residents in the wake of Hurricane Isabel. Meanwhile, officials in all four R-C area counties work around the clock to protect their residents while beginning the long process of cleaning up debris.

September 25, 2003

# North Carolina Governor Mike Easley flies into Ahoskie to address town and county leaders of the state’s effort to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel.

# The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross open meal wagons throughout the local area, helping to feed those who remain without electrical power. Water and ice is continued to be distributed to local citizens by the fire departments in all R-C area towns.

September 27, 2003

# Hurricane Isabel, pushing huge volumes of water from the sounds into the local rivers, is to blame for a fish kill on the Chowan River.

# Emergency food stamps are offered to victims of Hurricane Isabel.

September 30, 2003

# The Federal Emergency Management Agency begins opening Disaster Recovery Centers in northeastern North Carolina.

# Seaboard Police Chief Craig Ira Clapp is arrested for drug conspiracy and extortion charges.