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Smithfield suffers power outage

SMITHFIELD — Most residents of Smithfield found themselves in the dark Sunday morning.

In a Facebook post around 8:30 a.m., the town said its electrical substation on North Hospital Road suffered damage overnight, knocking out power to most of town.

Later, the town’s spokesman, Brian Eaves, said a breaker failure caused the power outage.

At 7:45 a.m., the traffic signal at Market Street and Bright Leaf Boulevard was working, but those on Market Street downtown were dark. And many businesses that would normally be open early Sunday were not, including the BP station on South Bright Leaf Boulevard near Brogden Road and 7th Street Marketplace at the corner of Seventh and Market streets downtown.

“Almost everything is out along Bright Leaf” Boulevard, Eaves said in a Facebook message, though “Walmart is open.”

Along Outlet Center Drive, “Starbucks is open but the outlet center is not,” Eaves added, and on the west side of town, “McDonald’s near Wilson’s Mills Road is open.”

“Some of those may be on generator power,” he said.

The town had said it hoped to have the power back on between 10 a.m. and noon, and that proved to be an accurate prediction.

In a post around 11 a.m., the town wrote: “POWER HAS BEEN RESTORED! We thank our crews for their efforts in getting everyone back online!”

Town residents were appreciative too.

“Thank you to all who worked to get power restored to us,” Mary-Leigh Hamilton wrote. “The town of Smithfield does a wonderful job caring for its residents.”

Barbecue shop coming to Cleveland

CLAYTON — A Johnston County caterer is preparing to open a brick-and-mortar eatery in the Cleveland community.

The grand opening of John Thompson’s J-Top’s BBQ Shop is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at 8948 Cleveland Road.

If that address sounds familiar, it’s because the space was home for 12 years to Charlie’s BBQ & Grille, a venture that Charlie Carden launched after retiring from the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Carden, who’s restaurant earned rave reviews on social media, will be on hand Saturday to welcome his former customers and greet the new patrons of J-Top’s.

To learn more about the eatery, including its menu, go to

JCATS wins grant for new building

SELMA — Community & Senior Services has won a $2.2 million grant to build an operations and maintenance facility for the Johnston County Area Transportation System, the county’s public transportation agency.

Neal Davis, head of Community & Senior Services, or CSS for short, said the building would go up on 4.6 acres JCATS owns in Selma. It will cost $3 million in all, with the remaining money coming from JCATS reserves and grant-matching dollars from the county, he said.

Davis said the operations and maintenance building would allow JCATS to expand. “As Johnston county becomes more and more urbanized, new demands on public transportation continue to grow as well,” he said. “We are actively developing plans to coordinate service into the Go Raleigh and Go Triangle fixed-route networks, to provide first mile-last mile connectivity to Johnston Regional Airport, Amtrak (in) Selma and eventually to commuter rail into the Triangle.”

“This infrastructure project positions JCATS to provide full-service public transportation well into the future,” Davis added.

He thanked state lawmakers and local leaders for helping to secure the grant, which will come from the Federal Transit Administration. “We are grateful to Reps. Donna White and Larry Strickland, along with Sen. Brent Jackson and Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver, for their support of this funding,” he said. “We also appreciate the strategic partnership and financial support of our Johnston County Board of Commissioners and Mr. Rick Hester, county manager.”

Oliver called the grant great news. “This is a great win for CSS, Eastern North Carolina, Johnston County and Selma,” she said.

Statewide candidate has Johnston ties

RALEIGH — A woman with deep roots in Johnston County is running for statewide office.

Jenna Wadsworth was born in Raleigh but grew up on her grandparents’ Johnston County farm, which grew soybeans, tobacco and cotton while also raising cattle and hogs, according to her website She is one of three Democrats seeking that party’s nomination for commissioner of agriculture.

In November 2010, at the age of 21, Wadsworth became the youngest woman ever elected to public office in North Carolina when she won a seat on the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors, her website says.

She is a graduate of the N.C. School of Science & Math and N.C. State University, where she earned degrees in political science and women’s and gender studies, according to her website.

Learn more about her at