Category Archives: MEDIA

National TV News spotlights town’s plight

Grocery owner, long-time employee interviewed

ORIENTAL – From left, Renee Ireland Smith and Rebecca Armstrong spent much of Wednesday afternoon fielding questions from national news media.

Watch ABC World News Tonight Segment >>

Watch NBC Nightly News Segment >>

Smith and her mother, Ruth Ireland, own Town ‘N Country, and Armstrong is a 16-year employee. The grocery, a fixture in Oriental for 44 years, was forced to close after Walmart Express opened in May of 2014. This week, the Town of Oriental received the following letter from Walmart, offering to make amends to the tune of $6,400.

Walmart letter to Town of Oriental

Legendary boat-builder focus of documentary

By Reagan Haynes | Special to The County Compass

Reprinted with permission from Soundings Trade Only

PAGE-6-Fountain-boat-builderWASHINGTON, N.C. — A new documentary is focusing on the racing career of Reggie Fountain, founder of Fountain Powerboats and current offshore V-bottom world record holder. The documentary, produced by American Performance Media, also focuses on Fountain’s contribution to Mercury outboards’ evolution to saltwater applications, said executive producer John Potts.

“He’s had a long career and a stellar career in performance boating,” Potts told Trade Only Today. “He’s had a very compelling story all throughout his life.”

The documentary follows Fountain throughout his racing and boatbuilding career, but only vaguely addresses the company’s sale to investors, Fountain’s contentious parting with new company leaders, and the subsequent lawsuits that continue to play out between the parties, Potts said.

“He is the anchor of the story, and the history of the sport is the vehicle in which we follow his career,” Potts said. “And he’s a character on top of it. We also let that character come out in him. We tell that story, and his personality comes through, as well, in the interviews.”

The documentary details Fountain’s ongoing relationship with Mercury Racing.

“Reggie was one of the first to be responsible for outboard engines’ saltwater applications,” Potts said.

In a documentary interview, Fountain says that in 1986 David Jones, the president of Mercury Marine at the time, approached him and asked for help increasing Mercury’s outboard presence in saltwater markets.

“I think the timing is right for us [Fountain Powerboats] to enter the offshore center console market with a Fountain boat,” Fountain recounts in the documentary.

Fountain recruited offshore fishing tournament winners, including Dan Upton, Clifton Moss and Clayton Kirby, who told him the largest boat on the circuits was 25 feet.

“I knew that we needed a boat a lot longer than that with more horsepower than what was available at that time in order to go over rough water faster and get the fishermen to their spots quicker,” Fountain said.

That led to the company’s first 31-foot center console with all the accoutrements the anglers said they needed.

“In less than a year, Mercury made important changes in the materials and designs of their outboards,” Fountain said in the documentary. “We put those on our boats and have continued with our relationship with Mercury to this day.”

The one-hour documentary is scheduled to debut in the first quarter of 2014 and will be available for streaming and broadcast on a major cable sports network.

Scammer headed to prison

Con targeted local seniors

Mary Ann Martin demonstrates how she uses the ‘Dog Off’ alarm to discourage scammers who called almost incessantly over a two-day period.

Mary Ann Martin demonstrates how she uses the ‘Dog Off’ alarm to discourage scammers who called almost incessantly over a two-day period.

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

REELSBORO – Federal prosecutors have secured a conviction, and a judge has sentenced, a Canadian man who orchestrated a sophisticated scam, which targeted senior citizens – including at least one in Pamlico County.

The ‘sweepstakes fraud’ almost fooled Reelsboro resident Mary Ann Martin, whose experiences were reported on the front page of this newspaper.

Jamaa McKenzie, 33, of Canada, received a prison sentence of 78 months. The court also ordered restitution of $840,705

According to the investigation, McKenzie — operating in and around the Montreal area — devised a scheme in which he called elderly United States citizens, falsely telling them they had won a large prize in a sweepstakes or lottery.

The defendant then convinced the victims to send money in order to receive their prize. The victims were identified from a ‘lead list’ that co-defendant Clayton Atkinson, the leader, purchased from a Montreal business.

Martin, the woman targeted in Reelsboro, says she once subscribed to Readers Digest, and believes her name was stolen or otherwise acquired from the internal records of the magazine publisher.

Seniors targeted were likely to have quick access to large sums of money, availability during the day to answer the phone, and vulnerability due to infirmities of age.

Pre-paid cellular phones were obtained under false names to contact the victims. When a victim answered the phone, fictitious names, titles and company names were used.

The investigation determined that at least 39 victims in various states, including North Carolina, were defrauded.

Scam targets local Readers Digest subscriber


Mary Ann Martin demonstrates how she uses the ‘Dog Off’ alarm to discourage scammers who called almost incessantly over a two-day period.

Mary Ann Martin demonstrates how she uses the ‘Dog Off’ alarm to discourage scammers who called almost incessantly over a two-day period.

Special to the County Compass

REELSBORO – The call Sunday night was a surprise, of course. Winning $100,000 in the Publishers’ Clearing House Sweepstakes seemed almost too good to be true – and it was, as Mary Ann Martin came to realize late the next day.

When she first picked up the phone, Martin noted the Caller ID showed ‘Better Business Bureau.’ And, the caller, who identified herself as Rose Newenski from New York City, was cheerful, polite, and unfailingly helpful.

“She told me ‘You better wear something nice and pretty when they come knocking on your door,’” recalled Martin. “Then she added ‘Hey Doll. You gotta dress up nice because you’re going to be in pictures.’”

Perhaps a big win was indeed possible, Martin thought. After all, she was a Readers Digest subscriber. And, she had previously entered the Sweepstakes.

There were a handful of calls that night. A bit odd, but there were apparently some loose ends.

Newenski said there had been a mix-up. Seems Martin was a winner from January 2010 who had somehow been overlooked. But, that was OK because the folks at PCH were going to make it right.

In addition to the cashier’s check that would be arriving soon, Martin had also won a new car. And, 30 days of free gas. And, free automobile insurance for a year, offered by a national insurance company. The only thing she had to do would be to mail a money order for $2,400 – to cover taxes on the car. The mailing address was 99 Broadway in New York City, but it had to get there fast.

“When I went to bed Sunday night, I was ready to get up Monday morning and send them the money,” said Martin. “But then I thought to myself, should I really do this?”

By Monday afternoon, the calls from ‘Newenski’ and others were almost non-stop. “I guess I got more than 20 calls from those folks,” said Martin.

“They were stubborn,” said Martin, shaking her head the next day. “They figured that they were just going to wear me down.”

Toward the end, Martin resorted to a shrill, high-pitched, battery operated alarm, designed to ward off vicious dogs. Perhaps it might also work on brazen scammers. More than once she held the device up to the handset of the telephone and pushed the button.

Eventually it was the would-be con artists who knuckled under.

“I asked them a whole bunch of questions,” said Martin. “They eventually referred me to what they said was their fraud department. But, when I asked that guy for his phone number, he hung up on me.”

Martin reported the scam to local law enforcement. She also called Readers Digest and Publishers Clearing House – both entities confirmed that the calls, and the promised winnings, were indeed hoaxes.

“I really think the big companies need to investigate these scams,” said Martin. “I almost sent in the money. Times are hard, especially for older people, who might do this and become a victim.”