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School board splits over pick for NCC board

After an intense discussion, the Nash County Board of Education voted earlier this month to appoint Natalie Brooks as its representative to replace Mary Wells on the Nash Community College Board of Trustees.

In an unusual situation, the school board had two candidates who were interested in filling the post vacated by Wells upon her death in July. Jon Hardy, a former member of the school board, was also up for consideration for the post.

During the public comment portion of the September school board meeting, Brooks presented her qualifications for the position on the NCC Board of Trustees. Brooks said that she had served as an educator in the area for 33 years before retiring in 2013. In recent years, she also has been teaching adult basic education classes at NCC.

Brooks said that she feels she has a lot to offer the board.

“The board of trustees is the guardian or steward of an educational institution. I am a lifelong educator. I will be an educator today, tomorrow and always,” Brooks said. “My knowledge and experience should prove invaluable as a board member because a board trustee should always strive to create a climate of success for students and educators.”

Brooks also stressed that she would fill a role in representing an under-represented segment of the NCC community.

“Currently enrolled in Nash Community College are 1,664 females and 1,002 males. The ethnic makeup of the males is 239 black, 571 white and 192 others. For females, it is 832 white, 587 black and 245 others,” Brooks said.

However, the makeup of the board does not reflect those numbers, she said.

“The board’s make up prior to this vacancy was six white males, two white females, three black males and zero black females. Wouldn’t it be outstanding for those 587 female students to see themselves reflected on the board?” she asked. “Shouldn’t the Nash Community College Board of Trustees reflect the students and the community it serves?”

Hardy also said he was very interested in the board position and had been recruited by a local resident to fill the role because of a lack of representation on the board of a resident of southern Nash County. Hardy said he and his family have had a long relationship with NCC that has spanned decades and that he had received his first two years of college training at the institution.

Since that time, Hardy has earned two master’s degree as well as an education specialist degree, has served as a teacher and a coach and has also served on what was then known as the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education.

“I have had a long, distinguished career in education. I have four generations in my family that have direct ties to Nash Community College. I have seen it in that time grow and become what it is today,” Hardy said. “I bring a uniqueness in that I have seen it from its beginning, I have seen it evolving and I want to see it go even further.”

Normally, an appointment made by the Nash County Board of Education to the NCC board is a rather cut-and-dried affair made with no controversy.

Because of the unusual circumstances, school board Chairman Franklin Lamm allowed each member of the board a chance to comment on the two candidates before casting their vote.

School board member Doneva Chavis said she recommended Hardy for the spot because of a promise she had made to Wells.

“I am in a hard spot. I see two very qualified individuals who would do excellent. I hear Ms. Brooks talk about the diversity that is found on the campus and the representation on the board, and I agree 100 percent with what she said,” Chavis said. “However, the person that formerly held that seat who was a very dear friend of mine had approached Jon Hardy before I knew of Ms. Brooks’ interest. I sent word back to her that she could count on me to nominate Jon Hardy, and I have to stand by my word.”

Lamm said he felt the circumstances were different for this appointment. He voted for Hardy but said he felt both candidates were worthy of the appointment.

“I found out about two months ago that Mr. Hardy had spoken with Ms. Wells. I didn’t say anything about to anyone but school Superintendent Steve Ellis and Mr. Sharpe because I didn’t know that the rules were going to change,” he said. “The last 16 years I have been on this board, the Nash Community College board sort of gave us a name of someone they wanted to continue on that board, whether it was Russell Proctor or Mary Wells or somebody else. So I did not share the name with anyone else because I was waiting to hear from that board about who they wanted us to nominate.”

School board member Bill Sharpe said he feels that was the wrong position for the school board to take.

“It has never been the preference for the community college to appoint people. That is the role and responsibility of this board. We have neglected our responsibility. We have neglected our due diligence to find out who is best going to serve this board on that board. I don’t know what you guys have done in the past, but this is our responsibility,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe said he felt that Brooks would better represent the board and the community college community.

“The reason we appoint these seats is because they represent that board,” he said. “When you look at the composition of the board at the community college and you look at the student population, it is not co-equal. How do you stand up and communicate something for a culture you don’t know anything about? We don’t wait for someone to tell us what our jobs are.”

After more discussion, the board voted six to five for Brooks based primarily on the feeling that she would better represent the student population at NCC. The decision, unlike many recent school board decisions, was not made along racial lines as school board members Bill Sharpe, Lank Dunton, Reginald Silver, Evelyn Bulluck, LaShawnda Washington and Sharonda Bulluck voted for Brooks. Board members Dean Edwards, Chris Bissette, Ricky Jenkins, Lamm and Chavis voted for Hardy.

Sharonda Bulluck summed up the feelings of the majority of the board members in her comments.

“I do think we need more transparency in this process. I think Mr. Hardy sounds like a great candidate, but I support Ms. Brooks,” she said.

Brooks will be sworn into her seat on the NCC Board of Trustees at the next regular meeting of that board, which will be held on Oct. 18.

In response to a request for comment, NCC President Lew Hunnicutt clarified the college’s position on board appointments.

“The N.C. Governor’s Office, the Nash County Board of Commissioners and the Nash County Public Schools board can each appoint four members to the NCC board,” Hunnicutt said. “The college does not participate in selection of new appointees by these entities other than to offer input if requested. The college does send letters of support to all three entities when reappointments of current trustees occur.”

Housing projects underway in Tarboro

TARBORO — Data included in an early release of the 2020 U.S. Census confirmed what anyone looking for affordable, livable housing in Edgecombe County already knew.

There’s a housing shortage.

Three projects already were underway to help address the problem and now a fourth is advancing.

Spencer’s Woods, located off West Wilson Street between Edgecombe Community College and McNair Road, has been purchased by Edgecombe County businessman and developer C.B. Daughtridge.

“We’re clearing the timber out there now and will begin a three-phase plan to build homes on those 89 lots,” he said.

Daughtridge said work on the first 30 homes would get underway in October, meaning that he will have more than 200 homes under construction in three projects — Flagmarsh Hills off Cox Road north of U.S. 64 Alternate in eastern Rocky Mount, Hope Farms Place off Daniel Street in northeast Tarboro and Spencer’s Woods.

As he has done at Flagmarsh and Hope Farms, Daughtridge is working with Colorado-based Century Communities to develop the project.

As in Flagmarsh, lots in Spencer’s Woods already were platted, meaning construction could get going on a fast track.

“If there were more (subdivisions) already platted, I could build more houses,” he said.

Daughtridge said the homes built in Spencer’s Woods — where 18 houses and a clubhouse with a swimming pool already exist — would be upscale from both Flagmarsh and Hope Farms Place.

“They will be larger and have more features,” he said.

Many of the 103 lots at Flagmarsh that were vacant when Daughtridge started the project now have houses on them.

At Hope Farms Place, three houses have been framed and await siding.

Several lots have slabs ready for construction and several of those lots already have sold signs on them. Daughtridge is developing a total of 36 lots in Hope Farms Place.

Houses in Hope Farms Place start at $159,900 for a 1,000-square-foot home and range up to $189,900 for a 1,405-square-foot, two-story house. Flagmarsh pricing ranges up to $200,000 for a two-story house.

The fourth large project in Tarboro — the 32-home Phase II of Cambridge Commons — has homes built in varying stages of completion on 18 of the lots.

The project is being developed by JEEJ Holdings with construction by Four Seasons Contractors LLC, both of Nashville.

When the project was approved by the town council in April 2020, John Newcombe told the Telegram that the homes would be in the $170,000 range — but that was before COVID-19 impacted the supply line and impacted prices. Four of the homes are currently listed on the Four Seasons sales website starting at $234,900 and going up to $252,900.

Greenville fire chief resigns after DWI arrest in Nash County

Greenville Fire Chief Eric Griffin resigned on Sunday after his arrest for drunken driving in Nash County.

Nash County Chief Deputy Brandon Medina said Griffin was pulled over at 12:27 a.m. Sunday morning on U.S. 264 near mile-marker 28 for speeding. Medina said Griffin was clocked on radar driving 94 mph in a 70 mph zone.

Deputies performed a standard field sobriety test, which Medina said showed Griffin to be impaired. An intoximeter test showed his blood alcohol level to be .20 and he was charged with impaired driving, Medina said.

Griffin surrendered his license and was released after signing a written promise to appear in court on two charges and was not taken to the Nash County Detention Center.

Deputy Greenville Fire Chief Brock Davenport was named acting chief.

Griffin, 50, had been a member of the department since 1993. He was named chief in December 2014, following a stint as deputy chief beginning in 2011 and interim chief in 2013.

Griffin announced his retirement on Aug. 25, saying at that time his last day would be Dec. 1. His salary at the time of his resignation was $156,248.20.

Griffin is scheduled to appear in Nash County District Court on Nov. 18.

Area man charged with child sex offenses after car chase

A Nash County man is behind bars after having tried to get away from a pursuing state trooper late last week and also for having allegedly taken indecent liberties with a child in 2019, authorities and judicial system records said.

Malachi Larivee, 21, is charged by the Nash County Sheriff’s Office with indecent liberties and with committing statutory sex offenses with a child, as well as by the State Highway Patrol with felony fleeing/eluding arrest with a motor vehicle, Nash County District Court records said.

The records said Larivee on Thursday was on U.S. 301 and was fleeing from Trooper Jacob Leonard, who was attempting to halt him for improper passing.

Additionally, statewide judicial system records online said Larivee is charged with speeding, specifically driving 101 mph in a 50-mph zone.

The records online also said Laviree is charged with:

  • Improper passing on the right.
  • Reckless driving to endanger.
  • Failure to heed a blue light or siren.
  • Failure to stop or steady for a red light.
  • Driving while his license was revoked.
  • Violating restrictions for having tinted windows.

Misdemeanor possession of illegal drugs.

According to the Nash County District Court records, Larivee is accused of taking indecent liberties with a 14-year-old girl and the offenses occurred from the start of 2019 until the end of 2019.

State law specifies indecent liberties as having occurred when the accused person is over 16 years old and at least five years older than the child.

Indecent liberties can be defined as engaging in conduct that society would regard as improper or engaging in conduct that causes or tends to provoke sexual desire.

Larivee is charged with committing statutory sex offense because he allegedly engaged in a sexual act with a person who was 15 years of age or younger and with whom he was not legally married.

Larivee is jailed under $85,000 secured bond at the Nash County Detention Center, Chief Deputy Brandon Medina said.

Larivee had listed an address in the 3800 block of Watson Seed Farm Road, Medina said.

Driver not charged in wreck that killed man in wheelchair

A man was not charged with any offense in connection with his vehicle having fatally struck a man in a wheelchair at night nearly a couple of weeks ago on the southwest side of the city, the police report of the wreck said.

Michael Hinton was driving a 2013 Hyundai southwest in the passing lane on West Raleigh Boulevard on Sept. 9 and Ennis Raynor had been crossing West Raleigh in the wheelchair, the report said.

Raynor for an unknown reason stopped in Hinton’s lane of travel and remained stationary, the report said.

Hinton was driving 33 mph in a 35-mph speed zone when his car struck Raynor on the part of West Raleigh approaching Williford Street, the report said.

Raynor died at the scene, the report said.

Hinton told officers he had stopped for a red light at the traffic control signals at the nearby intersection of West Raleigh and Nashville Road, the report said.

Hinton told officers that after he saw the red light deactivate and the green light activate, he drove ahead and did not see Raynor until the wreck occurred, the report said.

And the report said that the wreck occurred at 9:05 p.m., that Hinton’s car went 13 yards from the point of impact and that Hinton’s car sustained an estimated $1,500 in damages.

Police spokesman Cpl. Ricky Jackson on Sunday provided the Telegram with an emailed copy of the wreck report, which is public record under state law.

The report listed Raynor as 59 and as having had an address in the 1200 block of Gay Street.

A separate police incident report of the wreck listed Hinton as 48 and as having an address in the 300 block of Gold Street.