Year In Review – 4th Quarter

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2004

The clean-up and state and Federal relief from Hurricane Isabel dominated the headlines for the fourth quarter of 2003.

October 2, 2003

# Ahoskie teen, Bobby Lee Harrell dies at the age of 19 as a result of alleged robbery/murder. Five non-resident suspects are arrested in connection with the crime under the guidance of Ahoskie Police Department following a car chase.

# FEMA opens Disaster Relief Centers in Ahoskie and Windsor and closes a DRC in Jackson in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel.

# Former Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) manager and driving force behind the Rich Square- based business, Vernon Taylor, died at age 89, leaving behind a legacy of community leadership and service.

October 4, 2003

# The Salvation Army reaches out to R-C residents after Isabel with aid to over 500 families with water, food and cleaning supplies

# Donations of food and other supplies from religious groups, businesses and private citizens of Southern Pines replenish empty shelves at the Ahoskie Food Pantry and offer much needed sustenance to area residents affected by the hurricane.

# Members of the Interfaith Council reactivates its operational status to assist members of the community with unmet needs following the storm.

October 7, 2003

# FEMA arrives in area offering Federal aid to those who already filed for assistance through the process of gaining reimbursement for damages caused by the storm.

#FEMA announces hat it will reimburse Northampton County for the removal of debris dumped by citizens.

# Warrant to search premises of a trailer in Maple Fork Mobile Home Park in Murfreesboro yields six drug arrests with cooperation from Hertford County Sheriff’s Office under the direction of Director Frank Timberlake of Roanoke Chowan Narcotics Task Force

# The late Deputy Paul Futrell is remembered in a touching ceremony as Hertford County law enforcement unveiled a monument honoring those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

# Mike Scott of the Northeast Partnership praises Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce for a job well done at an organization banquet. Former president of the Chamber, Pat Barr, received an award of appreciation for her honorable service.

October 9, 2003

# Ahoskie-based church, the Soul Saving Station, holds a peaceful demonstration outside Ahoskie Town Hall to raise awareness to increased rates of young black males murdered and offer hope through the message of the Gospel.

# Request for an additional $63,000 in funding to sustain Roanoke Chowan Community College causes debate with Hertford County Commissioners.

# Ridgecroft School’s SAT scores surpass local, state and national averages.

October 11, 2003

# 14 students are arrested after allegedly attacking three of their classmates in a bathroom fight at Hertford County High School.

# FEMA announces it will reimburse Hertford County for disposal of debris as a result of Isabel.

# Murder charges added for two Virginia men arrested in connection with the slaying of Billy Lee Harrell.

October 14, 2003

# Roanoke Electric reports damage from Isabel at $2.5 million.

# R-C farmers face $27.8 million in agricultural losses due to weather conditions resulting from Isabel. The NC Department of Agriculture estimates $155.1 million in crop losses statewide.

# Aulander residents flock to the local library to have author and native, Dorothy Jenkins Combs, sign her newly released book, Dorothy’s Window about growing up on a small town farm in the 1940’s.

# Veteran member of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners and Ahoskie businessman, Dupont Davis, is named to serve on the state Advisory Committee.

October 16,2003


Nearly one-quarter, over 7,500 R-C residents, flood local DRC’s with FEMA assistance requests.

# National Heritage Program and Nature Conservancy is featured for protecting resident creatures and preserving their natural habitats at the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge.

#Severn residents express their thanks to utility workers for a speedy restoration of electricity following Isabel.

October 18, 2003

# Traffic accidents claim the lives of Leroy Wood, 72, Bertha Clarke Goode, 68, and Lokie Long, 87, in two separate accidents.

# Murfreesboro debris collection begins.

# Final paperwork regarding Hurricane Floyd Buyout Program is completed. Hertford County is ready to turn property over to the Town of Ahoskie.

October 21, 2003

# Storm debris removal begins as Ahoskie Town officials award $144,000 contract to Alabama firm.

# Chowan College reports improvements in finances and operates within its budget for the first time in five years.

# Northampton County Forest Ranger Mike Bennett is honored at luncheon following his retirement after 30 years of service.

October 23, 2003

# Northampton County met with citizens to discuss possible land acquisition for development of an industrial complex on I-95.

# Windsor Mayor Bob Spivey and Marc Basnight (D-Dare), President Pro Tempore of the NC Senate, are praised by officials of the nationally renowned Conservation Fund for their outstanding efforts in protecting the richness of natural resources in eastern NC at the Roanoke Cashie River Center in Windsor.

# Storm debris grows to mountain status at Hertford County Landfill.

October 25, 2003

# Congressman Frank Ballance is targeted in investigation of the self controlled Hyman Foundation. Audit into financial practices of the foundation reveals conflicts of interest and lack of formal structure in awarding grant monies.

# Numbers reach to 8,500 in residents applying for assistance through FEMA. FEMA plugs $1.5 million into area for restoration and repair.

# Area residents come out to Meherrin Indian reservation to participate in annual Pow Wow event in Murfreesboro.

# Department of Social Services petitions residents to apply for assistance with unmet needs resulting from Isabel.

October 28, 2003

# Law enforcement agencies sweep Ahoskie and Murfreesboro, making 14 drug arrests in morning raid with 11 still sought for apprehension.

# Contractors in Murfreesboro report having removed 9,200 cubic yards of Isabel waste.

# Seaboard Police Department accepts applications for vacant position of police chief.

October 31, 2003

# Hunters discover body of man presumed to be Al Revelle Wiggins in the Roanoke River, two years after his apparent suicide. His pants, amazingly still on his body, still contained a wallet with identification.

# Murfreesboro Historical Association receives a $ 4,605.30 grant to help promote off- season tourism.

# Bertie County Relay For Life earns two first place awards on the national level at its End of the Year Celebration. The organization raised $188,000 for the battle against cancer earning them recognition as one of the tops in the nation in per capita fund raising.

November 1,2003

# Commissioner and Mayoral candidates prepare for municipal elections. The Mayor seat in Ahoskie is contested by Linda Blackburn.

November 4, 2003

# Northampton County Commissioners create a 21st Century Steering Committee in a joint initiative to foster economic development in Northampton and Hertford counties.

# Gates County Commissioners table action again to formally withdraw from the Hertford-Gates Health Agency.

# 19 additional arrests are made as a result of a drug sweep initiated October 27, which yielded the arrest of 14 suspects.

# Indian Summer Days celebration is rescheduled to take place after being postponed due to damage and clean up from Isabel.

# Murfreesboro reaches midway mark in debris removal.

November 6, 2003

# Linda Blackburn makes history as citizens elect Ahoskie’s first female Mayor, unseating four-term Mayor Arthur Lee Wiggins.

# Bertie County elects new Mayors in Lewiston-Woodville and Kelford.

# Incumbent Mayor Calvin Hall of Winton and incumbents of Murfreesboro’s Town Council, including Mayor Ben McLean, maintain their seats.

# Incumbents rule in majority of Northampton races.

November 8, 2003

# GOP asks for Congressman Frank Ballance to resign as a Grand Jury convenes on the Hyman Foundation scandal. Media reports that Senator Robert Holloman is called to testify.

# A Hertford County High School teacher is arrested under allegations of sexual crimes and misconduct with students.

# Michael Ray Cullipher of Conway is charged with a first degree statutory sexual offense and three counts indecent liberties with a minor and jailed under $300,000 after an investigation yielded sufficient evidence substantiating previous allegations.

November 11, 2003

# Economic growth for Lowes causes the corporation to hire 300 additional employees for its Regional Distribution Center, bringing the total number of jobs brought to Northampton County to record high of 700.

# Local Author, Frank Stephenson releases Images of Hertford County and The Last Haul Seine reflecting the history of life in the R-C area in the early 1900’s and greets readers for a book signing at Walters Grill in Murfreesboro.

# Technical problems with a voting device causes errors in voting totals, but does not change outcome of election.

# Northampton Veteran’s Department plans the first organized trip to unveiling of World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. in March of 2004.

November 13, 2003

# Veterans gather together in Ahoskie, Murfreesboro and Jackson for Veteran’s Day ceremonies as the R-C area salutes their patriotism and heroic contributions to the nation.

# Retired News Editor and veteran journalist Ramona Gray Goode loses battle with cancer and dies at the age of 75.

# R-C Community College achieves its highest full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers and reports an increase of 11 percent in FTE.

# Hertford County leaders battle proposed septic system regulations preventing the placement of the systems in shallow soils and causing a projected denial of 90 percent of septic tank permits claiming it will prove detrimental.

November 15, 2003

# Murfreesboro issues ‘boil advisory’ for possible contamination of the town’s water supply with fecal Ecoli and awaits results from the state.

# Woodland teen, Robbie Dampier, dies in a car wreck at age 15 after the car he was riding in was stuck by another vehicle.

# Ahoskie Council members express distain at the magnitude of wastewater expansion project.

# A combined four forest fires claim 45 acres in Hertford and Northampton counties.

November 18, 2003

# NC Department of Environmental and Natural Resources give Murfreesboro water supply a clean bill of health after samples were analyzed by NC State Laboratory of Public Health.

# House of Representatives member, Howard Hunter Jr. expresses his opposition of a redistricting proposal to move Northampton County out of the 5th District and add Gates and Perquimans.

# A Chowan College student is arrested in connection with a fourth floor fire that began in Parker Hall. Quick response by firemen is attributed to helping save the dorm.

# Northampton County salutes the progress of its schools in a special celebration held at Northampton County High School East. Schools receive banners in recognition of their distinction and progress.

November 20, 2003

# African-American festival holds its sixth annual celebration of heritage at the Hertford County Middle School gym and offers food, music, fellowship and history to citizens.

# Murfreesboro Historical Association announces its revival of the Lafayette Ball after two years.

# Northampton County assigns a deputy to DSS to better assist citizens.

November 22, 2003

# Environmental officials agree not to change regulations on septic systems.

# The 21st Century Committee holds a forum to discuss strengths and weaknesses of Hertford and Northampton counties and gears toward uniting the various resources of Department of Commerces to spur economic growth.

# Five men jailed on accusations of dealing drugs are transferred into Federal custody to face the maximum sentencing for their crimes.

November 25, 2003

# Kevin Lamar Wingfield is arrested in Colerain and placed under $250,000 bond for allegedly selling cocaine from his residence.

# Ahoskie kicks off the Christmas season with its annual holiday parade.

November 29, 2003

# Gates Commissioners propose to make their decision on whether they will maintain their 65-year relationship with Hertford in the District Health Department.

# Trustees discuss RCCC’s $65,000 deficit, but take no action as of yet.

# The five-year owners of the Jernigan House, John and Dee Fritz, plan an expansion of Ahoskie’s only Bed and Breakfast.

# Stiles Tanksley and co-owner Thomas Holey celebrate the first anniversary of their Ahoskie-based men’s clothing store, Styles of Distinction Clothiers.

December 2, 2003

# Gates County announces its decision to remain in the Health District with Hertford.

# Juan Araujo, 57, dies in a hit and run after his tractor is hit by a Ford pick-up truck driven by 17 year-old Justin Harrell. Harrell faces two felony charges for the incident, which involved alcohol.

# Tony O’neil Sessoms, 29, rear ends a Hertford County school bus heading eastbound on the 1100 block of NC 561, injuring himself and his younger brother due to blinding sunlight. Charges are pending further investigation.

December 4, 2003

# Lewiston-Woodville reports half a dozen break-ins involving businesses that apparently had no alarm systems along with one residential break-in and reports of several damaged vehicles.

# Northampton County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Virginia Spruill retains her position in a 4-1 vote, despite objection from Commissioner James Boone.

# Hertford County Home Health Employees tearfully receive unexpected bonuses honoring their committed service and endurance.

December 9, 2003

# Northampton County approves spending $1.2 million in a special meeting for 530 acres of property for development of an industrial park.

# Murfreesboro seeks Special Order of Consent (SOC) to allow the town to move forward with the process of constructing the Howard Hunter Villa Subdivision despite the sewer moratorium placed on the town after it had received grant money to build.

# Northampton County approves contracted sale of 114,000 gallons of water per day to Warren County after Roanoke Rapids Sanitary District gives green light to subcontracting the resource.

December 11, 2003

# An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter Scale, with its epicenter in Goochland, VA is felt by residents in Gates, Hertford and Northampton.

# Ahoskie swears in Linda Blackburn as the town’s first woman Mayor.

# Crowds gather for a live history lesson in Murfreesboro at the town’s &uot;Twelve Days of Christmas Candlelight Tour.&uot;

# Murfreesboro Town Council hears a presentation by representatives from RBC Centura concerning electronic deposit. The town is considering switching to a paperless payroll for convenience, storage and economical reasons.

# Suspects sought after Red Apple at the intersection of old US 13 and NC 45 is robbed at gunpoint by two masked men.

# R-C Partners for Progress holds its second annual GALA Awards honoring partnerships of local businesses, non-profits and other organizations for their commitment and contributions to the community and efforts in advancing economic growth and development.

December 13, 2003

# Flu outbreak described as worst in years as vaccine supplies run dangerously low.

# The 14th Annual Day for Chowan event at Chowan College turns into the institution’s largest one-day fund raiser, generating $50,000.

# RCCC and CADA partners hold ribbon cutting ceremony for the official opening of the Head Start Early Head Start Program on the college campus, allowing students to obtain an education and pursue a career, while benefiting children in the process.

# Ahoskie coffee shop owners, Lou and Brenda Velasquez celebrate first anniversary by making a donation to Salvation Army.

December 16, 2003

# Farm worker, Billy Davis Vann, 52, loses his life trying to engage a tractor he didn’t realize was still in gear.

# Northampton County Commissioner, Robert V. Carter is chosen by the NC Association of County Commissioners to serve as Chairman for the Environmental Steering Committee.

# John Fredrick &uot;Fred&uot; Parker is found murdered in his home in Gates County.

# Windsor Red Apple is newest victim of armed robberies, making the total number rise to three robberies in a two-week period. Police continue to investigate and petition the public for help.

December 18, 2003

# John Andrew Strickland, 48, is taken to Pitt Memorial in Greenville after sustaining injuries from a hit and run while walking along E. Jackson St in Rich Square. Police seek information on driver of the vehicle.

December 20, 2003

# Seaboard’s former Police Chief Craig Clapp pleads guilty to extortion after accepting cash to cover for an alleged drug dealer. Clapp faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 15.

# Derek Rawls, Ronnie Bradshaw Gilliam, and Lontre Desmond Askew are charged with 14 felony counts of breaking and entering and larceny and seven misdemeanors after police arrested the trio for the rash of crime sprees sustained in Lewiston-Woodville.

# Evidence is secured in the stabbing murder of businessman Fred Parker while Gates County Sheriff’s Office and the SBI continue to investigate.

# FEMA reports indicate disaster relief reimbursements top $14 million as a result of Isabel.

December 23, 2003

# Murfreesboro Police Department Sgt. Jamie Dilday participates in making Christmas extra special for underprivileged children at Riverview Elementary school after a request for &uot;someone to play Santa&uot; from one of the teachers sparked his desire to raise $100 for Santa to be able to come bearing gifts. $2,000 later, Police Chief Darrell Rowe and other members of the PD make it a Christmas to remember.

December 25, 2003

# Members of the St. Johns Hunt Club give $500 to Phillip and Brenda Caulk of Gates County after an injury in July caused financial hardship for the couple and their children. Rev. Danny Harris accepted the check on behalf of the couple.

# Senator Robert Holloman shows his support as he visits Ahoskie Methodist’s Let the Little Children Come daycare to share in the celebration of the facility’s accomplished five-star status.

# Murfreesboro’s Endowment Fund Campaign generates $200,000 for ongoing restoration efforts by the Historical Association.

December 27, 2003

# Greene County resident Paul Skillicorn shares alternative crop ideas and other lucrative opportunities with R-C farmers in a meeting at the Murfree Center as a way to weather the storms of a declining tobacco market.

# Tracey Spivey, 29 of Windsor, is arrested and placed under a $137,500 bond after a high speed chase that resulted in three felony charges and a host of other infractions.

# Ahoskie teens, Keith Baron Urquhart and William O’Brien Moore turn themselves in after fleeing the scene of a traffic stop for possession of cocaine and pot.

December 30, 2003

# Jeffery Allen White, 25, of Corapeake is formally charged with murder for the slaying of elderly businessman, Fred Parker of Gates County.

# Ryan Devon Bowser, 22 of Ahoskie is jailed under a $60,000 bond after a tip was given that cocaine had been placed near a bush at the Hertford County Courthouse. Bowser was arrested when police observed him trying to make the pick-up. Warrants are made for the arrest of Anthony Bishop, 25, of Winton for the role he played in the crime.

# The late Calvin Harrell of Ahoskie, whose soaring spirit, despite the cancer that clamed his life, is immortalized at Monument to Century of First Flight in Kitty Hawk. The brick with Harrell’s name inscribed was the first one laid in the courtyard and was placed there by contractor Franklin McCoy Parker, Jr., a member of the Harrell family.