Category Archives: Washington

Statue dedication ceremony set for March 22

Welding students, instructor create one-of-a-kind tribute to community college

On one side, a great blue heron takes flight.

By Attila Nemecz
Public Relations Coordinator
Beaufort County Community College

WASHINGTON — Beaufort County Community College plans to dedicate a sculpture created by its welding students and instructor as part of the school’s 50th anniversary. Although everyone is welcome, officials have issued a special invitation to all those who attended BCCC during the 1967 – 1969 period, the college’s first three years of operation!

The dedication ceremony has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 22, at noon.

Welding instructor Ted Clayton has been working on the statue for seven years, getting materials donated from PotashCorp, Flanders Filters and Carver Machine Works. He went to the “boneyard” at PotashCorp looking for scrap metal, and when he told them what he wanted to do, they laughed and told him to grab anything he needed.

Welding students have had a chance to express their artistic side while learning the proper welds. The 5,000-pound metal sculpture features a school of fish swimming around pilings. On top of the pilings is an osprey circling its next with chicks inside. On the back is a great blue heron.

“I love to fish. I’m huge about the Pamlico River. If you ride from here to Ocracoke, you will pass all of these pilings, and they all have nests on them,” said Clayton. “It hit me one morning when I was riding out with my dog. It’s pretty right here. You cannot take from the Pamlico. It holds its own against anywhere in the world.”

The 5,000 pound metal sculpture depicts a school of fish circling pilings, while an osprey lands in its nest.

The work on the statue has taken place entirely outside of class. Students have enthusiastically volunteered to contribute to it. When he first told students about his idea, they laughed at him. Once they started working on the sculpture, “sparkles started coming in their eyes,” according to Clayton. “They realize, ‘what can’t you do with a piece of metal?’”

The statue will sit on Campus Drive East leading to Building 10 and Building 5. NC Community College System President Dr. Jimmie Williamson, former BCCC President Dr. David McLawhorn, current BCCC President Dr. Barbara Tansey and instructor Ted Clayton will speak at the event.

BCCC was chartered as a technical institute nearly 50 years ago, but its roots in the community run even deeper. Industrial and technical education was offered in Beaufort County in 1962 through an Industrial Education Center. The center was first affiliated with Lenoir County Technical Institute and later with Pitt Technical Institute.

Local businessman A. Graham Elliott was an early supporter of industrial education in Beaufort County. In 1967, Elliott, then chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Industrial Education Center, said, “There is a real need for spreading trade and technical educational benefits to greater numbers in Beaufort County. It is necessary that we take a serious look at this type of institution called the technical institute.”

Two events that same year made a stand-alone technical institute for Beaufort County possible ― local voters on approved a $500,000 bond issue by a vote of nearly three to one, and State Sen. Ashley B. Futrell and State Rep. William R. Roberson Jr. introduced legislation in their respective chambers of the N.C. General Assembly establishing Beaufort County Technical Institute.

On Aug. 23, 1968, 39 graduates received their diplomas at BCTI’s first graduation. Almost 50 years later, BCCC conferred 190 degrees, diplomas and certificates on the Class of 2016, including 45 Associate’s Degrees in Nursing.

In 1969 a permanent site for BCTI was purchased, and construction of the school’s campus on U.S. 264 began. After being housed in temporary locations throughout the county, including a former prison farm and in space above what was then the local fire department, BCTI moved to its current location in the spring of 1971.

The campus sits on the former Woodrow Sheppard farm, which was sold to the BCTI Board of Trustees by Fred and Mary Sheppard. Another tract was sold to the college by Vandalia Sykes. The last land purchase was from Linda Byrd and Roger Woolard in 2015.

With more than 400 employees, 2,100 students enrolled in its Curriculum programs, and 4,400 in Continuing Education, BCCC is a driving force in the economic development of the region. Under the leadership today of Dr. Barbara Tansey, the school’s fifth president, Beaufort County Community College initiates collaborative efforts among community and government agencies, provides innovative technology, and builds strong relationships with business and industry.

Alumni and employees from 1967-1969 should contact Serena Sullivan at 252-940-6326 if they would like to take part in the dedication ceremony.

A new generation of nurses: Chelsea Huggins

Huggins practices ‘hands on’ care.

Huggins practices ‘hands on’ care.

WASHINGTON, NC— Chelsea Huggins discovered that everyone is on the same page when they start the nursing program at Beaufort County Community College. The students who have two years of experience as certified nurse aides, and the students who just walked in the door might have the same skills it takes to be a great nurse.

This was a relief to Huggins, who at 18, is the youngest student working toward an Associate Degree in Nursing.

Huggins came to the community college almost by accident. She managed to speed through high school in just three years at New Bern High. Her plan was to attend ECU and become a doctor, following her passion for the healthcare field. After some volunteer experience in a hospital, she decided she was more interested in the hands-on approach of a nurse. Her goal changed to becoming a nurse practitioner.

At 17, she applied for the ‘RIBN’ program at ECU. This program, short for Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses, is a statewide program that hopes to put more nurses with four-year degrees into the workforce. The program is a collaboration between community colleges and nursing schools, like ECU’s College of Nursing.

The program assigned Huggins to Beaufort County Community College, who first thought she was heading to the Town of Beaufort, and nearby beach, in Carteret County. After coming to terms with the fact that she was attending college in Beaufort County, she fell in love with BCCC!

With the growing expense of universities and the limited slots in their programs, many students are turning to community college not just for a two-year ADN, but as a step toward a four-year BSN. Students can also find smaller class sizes and more institutional support at a community college like BCCC. The college has a person on staff, just to help nursing students through the admissions process and with their testing requirements.

Since she began her studies at BCCC, Huggins has had opportunity to transfer to Craven Community College in New Bern and return to her family, but she has enjoyed her experience at BCCC so much that she has stayed in Washington. She found that the support was lacking at larger institutions.

“The faculty go out of their way to care about you,” said Huggins. She was named a BCCC ambassador, a title awarded to the best representatives of BCCC. An ambassador gets their tuition covered for a year in exchange for speaking and helping at community events. She is also the recipient of the James Franklin and Hannah Roberson Bagwell Scholarship and a member of the Beaufort County Association of Nursing Students (BCANS).

She has come to embrace the diversity in the nursing department, including the age range and the lifestyles of other students. She has found that the best study partners are her older classmates and the ones with children. Intergenerational studying not only takes place in the classroom, but in her family as well. Huggins’s grandmother is a retired physician.

“She’s made me a perfectionist about things,” she said.

Her grandmother makes her practice until she has it right. Ultimately she plans to work as a neonatal nurse either at VidantHospital or UNC Health Care. She wants to deal with both parents and infants.

“My heart has led me in that direction,” she said.

This young lady’s fortitude means she can handle the toughest of situations. Huggins has no patience for the cynicism of some of the nurses currently working in the field. Her age will not slow her down! Huggins’ skill, passion and empathy put her on the same level as her classmates. She may have

Beaufort County to enhance courthouse security

Beaufort County CourthouseWASHINGTON, N.C. — Beginning February 1, security measures at the Beaufort County Courthouse will increase.

The additional measures will include modifying access at two exterior entrances to the building to route pedestrian traffic through security screening checkpoints. Previously these screening checkpoints were only located at the entrances to the Courtrooms. Public access will be through the two entrances located on the Second Street side of the building.

The first will be the main first-floor entrance and the second will be the ground-level entrance by the Magistrates’ Office. The remaining exterior entrances will closed.

Video surveillance and a walking patrol of the building is also being added.

The County has engaged Universal Protection Service, located in Greenville, NC, to assist with these additional security measures. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide security within the courtrooms and in other specific areas of the Courthouse as it has always done. People are reminded that weapons are not allowed in the Courthouse building and in addition, by orders of both the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge and the Chief District Court Judge, cellular phones and other electronic devices are not allowed in the courtrooms.

These additional security measures are intended to help increase the level of safety for the public using the Courthouse and for the staff working in the Courthouse. The implementation of the new measures will not occur all at once. They will be phased in starting February 1, 2016 to allow people the opportunity to adjust to the changes.

“The Board of Commissioners understands that change can be disruptive and appreciates the public’s patience as these additional measures are implemented,” said County Manager Brian Alligood.

Artists sought for Duck Stamp competition

Last year’s winning artwork came from Guy Crittenden, a Virginia wildlife artist.

Last year’s winning artwork came from Guy Crittenden, a Virginia wildlife artist.

WASHINGTON, N.C. — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Washington Tourism Development Authority are seeking artists’ entries for the N.C. Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and Print. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 22, 2016 at the Washington Tourism Development Authority, 108 Gladden Street, Washington, N.C. 27889.

The winning artwork will be featured on the 2016-17 waterfowl conservation stamp, also known as the North Carolina duck stamp. It, along with the other top four entries, will be unveiled during the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships, which will be held Feb. 5 – 7, 2016 in downtown Washington, N.C.

The Commission and the Washington Tourism Development Authority sponsor the annual contest, which typically draws artists from across the United States. This year, artists may submit a full-color, realistic rendering of tundra swans, blue-winged teal, Atlantic brant, gadwall, or bufflehead, and depicted in the appropriate habitat.

  • Artwork will be judged on the following criteria
  • Level and accuracy of detail in all aspects of the anatomy of waterfowl
  • Appropriateness, accuracy and detail in depiction of the selected species’ habitat
  • Attractiveness and creativity of the composition, regarding spatial balance, lighting and harmony of subject and background
  • Visual appeal and suitability for reproduction at both the print and stamp scales.

The competition is open to artists 18 years and older. Artists may submit only one design in whatever medium they choose. Images must be horizontal, 13 inches by 18 inches, matted in white to outside dimensions of 18 inches by 23 inches and should be loosely covered with a protective overleaf, although not framed or covered with glass. The image should bear no signature or other marks that would identify the artist.

Complete entry guidelines, as well as specific requirements for artwork, are located on the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival website http://www.ecwaf.com/event-information/duck-stamp-competition.

The winning design will be selected by a panel of five judges who have expertise in waterfowl biology or artistic method and expression. The judging will take place on Jan. 25, 2016, and the winner will be notified shortly after. The winner will receive $7,000 in prize money, $300 in travel expense money, and free booth space at the 2017 festival.

Proceeds from sales of the print and stamp support the Wildlife Resources Commission’s Waterfowl Fund, which generates revenue for the conservation of waterfowl habitat in North Carolina.

Future interpreters get hands-on experience

Becoming bi-lingual improves job prospects

NEWS1-Interpreter-photoBy Betty Gray
Public Relations Coordinator
Beaufort County Community College

WASHINGTON, N.C. – Community College students taking Intermediate Spanish received real-life experience in class recently when they were called on to interpret a presentation by Greenville immigration lawyer Janice M. Cole.
Speaking in Spanish, students asked questions of Ms. Cole, which were simultaneously translated into English by other students.
Ms. Cole then presented information in English about recent changes in immigration law, while students took turns translating her remarks back into Spanish.
The event not only provided students with updated information about the law but simulated real-life translation activities, according to Instructor Jose Mendoza.
The class is part of the curriculum for the Community Spanish Interpreter Program at Beaufort County Community College. Students take classes that prepare them to serve as interpreters in a variety of settings, including courtrooms and hospitals. They take six semesters of classes and at the end of their studies, can earn a certificate from BCCC.

Banquet rocks as Chamber celebrates 112 years!

Awards read like ‘Who’s Who’ of Washington businesses

NEWS1-Cut-pic

WASHINGTON, N.C. – Members of the Chamber of Commerce for Washington / Beaufort County turned out in droves last Thursday, Jan. 29, for the group’s annual banquet at the downtown Civic Center. Always a highlight, this year’s sellout event came packed with extra wow power. Award recipients, from left: Bragg Dawson of Coca Cola Bottling Co., joint winner with Glen and Gennia Weatherington of Down on Mainstreet Restaurant for Business of the Year; Nonprofit of the Year, Eagle’s Wings Food Pantry, represented by executive director Ann-Marie Montague; Entrepreneur of the Year, Brad Horton, owner of Athletic Edge; the legendary Billy Jefferson, 81, owner for more than 50 years of Big Bargain Furniture, with an incomparable 71-year track record as a downtown businessman; and, last but not least, Community Leader of the Year, F. Ray Moore, who praised the employees of his family-owned company for affording him the opportunity to serve his beloved hometown.

Beaufort County Sheriff announces overhaul of department

tcc012915p1aBeaufort Observer Editorial Team

WASHINGTON, N.C. — Beaufort County Sheriff Ernie Coleman announced Wednesday a reorganization of the Sheriff’s Office.

Coleman succeeded former longtime sheriff Alan Jordan who did not seek re-election in the 2014 election. Coleman ran in the primary as a Republican and was opposed in the runoff by Jordan’s Chief Deputy Harry Meredith. In the Democrat primary runoff Jordan crony Russell Davenport was defeated by Al J. Whitney, who went on to lose to Coleman in the General Election.

One of the first moves Coleman made when he assumed office in December was to release Chief Deputy Kit Campbell and Kenny Watson. Thus, Davenport is the only hold-over from the top ranks of the Jordan regime, except Charlie Rose, who now becomes Chief Deputy, but was not viewed as a Jordan crony as much as some others.

Coleman’s “second phase” of reorganization was to streamline the organizational structure with the intent, as he campaigned on, “putting more Deputies on the road,” or available to answer calls rather than holding down desk jobs.

To accomplish that Coleman announced the creation of five divisions in the departments: Patrol, Criminal Investigations, and Narcotics as well as Detention and Administrative services. Each division will be headed by a lieutenant, whereas they were previously headed by a captain. The will be: Jeremy Hewitt, Patrol; Wesley Waters, Investigations and Russell Davenport, Narcotics.

These commanders will report directly to the new Chief Deputy Charlie Rose who was elevated from major while serving as Interim Chief since Campbell left. Rose will be the second in command and responsible for the day to day operations of the department.

In addition to the lieutenants reporting in direct line to the Chief Deputy, Sergeant Kelly Cox will report to Rose while heading Crime Stoppers, Crime Prevention, Community Watch and training programs.

The Detention Center (jail) is being reorganized also. That staff will be headed by Chief Detention Officer Catrina Ross, with Assistant Chief Scott Thompson reporting to Ross. he direct line on command runs to the Chief Deputy for the Detention Center.

Coleman explained that the reorganization will eventually save the taxpayers money, as well as some of the other practices he envisions changing, such as making more efficient use of the motor vehicle fleet. But the streamlining is being done while holding harmless each employee’s salary, regardless of rank classification. No one takes a pay cut. The efficiencies will be achieved over time as positions are filled.

Coleman stressed in a brief interview that his focus is deploying resources to more directly impact field activities, including more efficient investigations. That is one area Jordan and Meredith were severely criticized for in recent years. Jordan oversaw the practice of the Sheriff’s Office sending letters to crime victims telling them that he did not have the resources to investigate their case.

But ironically, it is the Narcotics Division that has received the most criticism during the Jordan reign and that is where Coleman is apparently leaving the carryovers.

BeufortObserver.net collects complaints from readers and the Narcotics Division (including the SWAT) has consistently garnered the bulk of those complaints. Most notable among there were the death of Keith Small that resulted from a drug bust; the infamous Tayloe Pharmacy case, which ended in nearly all of the charges being dismissed; and, of course the Twelfth Street Siege debacle. In that instance, the SWAT team assaulted Carter Leary, who was disarming his nephew who had been put under siege by the Sheriff’s Office and Washington Police Department. Leary was charged by the SWAT squad after an illegal search (according to his attorney) of his home but that case was thrown out of court because of improper conduct of the deputies involved in the trial.

The Narcotics Division has been most severely criticized by some, including the Beaufort Observer, for being ineffective in stopping the influx of illegal substances into the county. Most—in fact nearly all—of their arrests that have been publicly announced are individual street-level pushers or users. The only major dealer we are aware of that has been convicted in recent years was an Aurora supplier who was caught by out of state officers. To our knowledge, “Mr. Big” as Commissioner Hood Richardson refers to it, has never been charged. And there is little evidence that organized crime units/gangs have been disrupted to any material extent. But Coleman is retaining that part of the operation pretty much intact.

Commentary

We commend Sheriff Coleman. His objective of getting more resources into the field is most commendable. His organizational structure is lean and makes sense. His care to protect employees who have been doing a good job is most commendable. Now, if he will produce more return on investment in the Narcotics Division we will think he has done what needed to be done at this point.

Community College welcomes three new Trustees

Clerk of Court Marty Paramore, center, gives the oath office to three new members of the Beaufort County Community College Board of Trustees. They are, left to right, Bill Wall, Jim Chesnutt and Jackson Lancaster. At right, Lancaster's mother, Louann, participates in the ceremony.

Clerk of Court Marty Paramore, center, gives the oath office to three new members of the Beaufort County Community College Board of Trustees. They are, left to right, Bill Wall, Jim Chesnutt and Jackson Lancaster. At right, Lancaster’s mother, Louann, participates in the ceremony.

WASHINGTON, N.C. — The Beaufort County Community College Board of Trustees welcomed three new members at its recent meeting. Taking the oath of office and joining the board were Jim Chesnutt, Jackson Lancaster and Bill Wall.

“The BCCC Board of Trustees is pleased to welcome these three individuals to its membership” said board Chairman Russell Smith. “With their business experience, Mr. Chesnutt and Mr. Wall will bring valuable insight to the board as it works to provide quality education for the region. With his experience as a student leader and a businessman, Mr. Lancaster will be well-positioned to represent the students’ point of view to the board.”

Chesnutt is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of National Spinning Co., Inc., and has served with that company for 17 years. He is current Chairman of the Beaufort County Community of 100, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of Textile Operations and a member of the East Carolina University College of Business Advisory Council. Chesnutt and his wife, Judy, live in Washington. He was appointed to the college board by Gov. Pat McCrory.

Lancaster, a student in the Business Administration Program at BCCC, is a 2014 graduate of the Beaufort County Early College High School. He holds an associate in arts degree from BCCC and returned to the college this year to pursue his business degree. He is a licensed realtor with Coldwell Banker Coastal Rivers Realty. At BCCC. Lancaster is a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society and a college Ambassador. After graduating from BCCC, he plans to continue his education while building a successful career in real estate. In his role as President of the BCCC Student Government Association, Lancaster serves an ex-officio member of the BCCC board and participates in all of the board’s discussions.

Wall joined First South Bank in 1993 and has served as Secretary of First South BanCorp Inc. since 1997 and Secretary of First South Bank since 1995. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Barton College. Wall currently serves on the BCCC Foundation Board of Directors, which oversees the operations of the college’s non-profit organization. Wall is a past president of the Beaufort County United Way, the Washington NoonRotary Club and the Washington Rotary Club and past Treasurer of Rotary District 7720. He was presented the 2001 Community Service Award by the Washington/Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce for his community and civic involvement in several local organizations. Wall and his wife, Becky, live in Cypress Landing. He was appointed to the board by the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

The BCCC Board of Trustees is the policy-making board of the college. Its role is to ensure the citizenry of the area that effective and competent leadership is provided by the college administration for the adequate operation of the college.

Jail remains on fast track

Derailment likely in November

From left, Beaufort County Commissioners Robert Belcher and Jerry Langley, both Democrats; and Al Klemm, a Republican, comprise the controversial Jail Committee.

From left, Beaufort County Commissioners Robert Belcher and Jerry Langley, both Democrats; and Al Klemm, a Republican, comprise the controversial Jail Committee.

By By Editorial Team | BeaufortObserver.net | Special to the County Compass

WASHINGTON, N.C. — Despite the fact that they don’t have the money to do the project, the Beaufort County Jail Committee, comprised of three County Commissioners – Robert Belcher, Jerry Langley, and Al Klemm — agreed Wednesday to proceed with planning.

Clearly there is a rush to spend as much as they can before the new county commission board takes over after the November elections.

Langley and Belcher, Democrats; and Klemm, a Republican who typically votes with the board’s Democrats, heard technical planning reports from contractors working on various pieces of the project. They heard reports from electrical contractors and architects about renovations to the existing courthouse. They spent some time listening to how they could redesign the main facility to produce some “cost savings.”

The significance of this discussion is that it is all based on an assumption that they will obtain permanent financing for the project at a fledgling industrial park site, just south of Chocowinity.

The County Manager then told the Committee what they already knew — that the Local Government Commission will not consider a financing application until after the new board is seated. He advised the Committee that they should therefore stop spending on the main project, vis-à-vis the site improvements and steel cells.

The Committee then decided to continue with the design work, which they were told is about 95 percent complete.

The effect of that decision, made by consensus but with little discussion, is to spend an additional $700,000 or so for design and plans that may just collect dust after November. We were asked after the meeting: “Why are they doing this?” Our response: “Because they think they can.”

$22 million jail likely topic at County Comission retreat

By Betty Murphy | Special to the County Compass

WASHINGTON, N.C. – If you are a regular Compass reader, you are no stranger to the ongoing battle of the proposed new jail for Beaufort County – where to locate it, how to finance it, public involvement in the process, and whether a new jail is even needed.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners will hold its annual retreat Feb. 20 and 21 at the North Carolina Estuarium located on the town’s waterfront. Thursday’s session runs from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. while Friday’s second day begins at 9 a.m. and adjourns at 3 p.m.

The meeting is open to the public.

The main purpose of the retreat is to focus on current economic challenges and then provide a forum where elected officials can utilize the information gleaned from the presentations and discussions in developing the 2014-2015 county budget.

However, insiders believe the proposed jail will undoubtedly surface as a controversial issue during the two-day retreat.

It is important to note that prior to last year there was a consensus among the commissioners that binding votes are not taken at the annual retreat. That changed during the 2013 retreat with a laying down of the gauntlet by Commissioner Jerry Langley, the board’s Democrat chairman.

During a presentation by an unbiased expert (who specializes in planning and development of jails), it became evident that there was more than one viable site for a new jail. At a previous meeting, this expert had offered plans that included building the jail behind the courthouse.

It had been rumored that Democratic Commissioners favored locating the jail in the underutilized space at the Beaufort County Industrial Park on Hwy 264. Attempting to secure that location, Langley put forth a motion that received a majority vote by the three Democratic Commissioners and a Republican Commissioner (often derisively described at the Gang of Four).

Although the commission has four Republicans, the GOP often sees a defection by Commissioner Al Klemm, who usually votes in lockstep with the Democrat commissioners.

In 2013, the annual retreat came to an abrupt end when conservative Republican Commissioner Hood Richardson walked out of the meeting. Richardson had prepared a plan to locate new jail facilities behind the Courthouse where it is currently located – closer and cheaper than at a remote site.

Apparently due to either arrogance or ignorance, the plan to build a new jail at the favored Beaufort County Industrial Park) was short-lived. The Gang of Four were surprised to discover that the County does not own 100 percent of the industrial park.

The City of Washington owns 45 percent, and the City Council members were duly upset that no one had consulted with them. As embarrassing as this revelation was to everyone, the three-ring circus continued.

At that point the Gang of Four changed direction (literally from west to south) and decided that the new jail should be built in the Chocowinity Industrial Park on Hwy. 17. This second park has been empty for years. It was built on the advice of the former Beaufort County Economic Director – a firm believer of a “BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME” strategy.

The site selection now places a future jail directly across from the future Hwy. 17 “Welcome – Rest Stop.”

Taking into account that taxpayers would be facing a total tab of more than $22 million if the jail is located somewhere other than behind the Courthouse (at a cost below $5 million), representatives from the general public have appeared regularly at the Board of Commissioners monthly meetings, asking for hearings and a referendum. Their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

The Gang of Four has chosen not to listen to the voters.