VGCC Experiences Enrollment Growth

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College received welcome news as it celebrated its 50th anniversary recently: an increase in enrollment over the same time last year. As of the beginning of the fall semester in August, VGCC had 3,073 students enrolled in curriculum programs. That represented a 3.7% increase compared to the beginning of the fall 2018 semester when enrollment stood at 2,963.

VGCC Board of Trustees Chair Danny Wright and President Rachel Desmarais, Ph.D. cut the cake at VGCC’s 50th celebration. (VGCC photo)

A significant source of the increase was enrollment by high school students in college programs, either through Early College High Schools or other Career & College Promise pathways. There were 15% more of those students enrolled than there were at the beginning of fall 2018.

“We are pleased that an increasing number of students are participating in our high-quality education and training programs, which are preparing them to achieve their career goals,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of VGCC. “For 50 years, Vance-Granville Community College has been providing opportunities for education and training, with the strong support of the community. Thanks to that support, we continue to serve as an accessible, innovative, student-centered higher education partner for our region.”

Established in 1969, VGCC offers more than 40 curriculum programs, in which students work toward certificates, diplomas and degrees.

Area residents and businesses can also take advantage of a variety of Continuing Education opportunities, as well as the High School Equivalency and Adult High School Diploma programs.

High school students can also get a step ahead by starting their college education early with VGCC courses.

The college has four campuses – one each in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties – and offers online programs, as well.

For more information, visit www.vgcc.edu.

Habitual Felon Arrested on Cocaine Charges

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-Press Release, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit and Special Response Team arrested Franklin County resident Deshaun Lamont Williams on September 12, 2019. Mr. Williams was arrested at his residence located at 130 Mark Street, Franklinton, NC.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit and Special Response Team arrested Franklin County resident Deshaun Lamont Williams on September 12, 2019. Mr. Williams was arrested at his residence located at 130 Mark Street, Franklinton, NC. (FCSO photo)

In addition to the arrest, a search warrant was executed at his residence. The search resulted in the seizure of approximately 42 grams of Cocaine, scales and US Currency.

This investigation into illegal drug activity began as a result of citizen complaints alleging Mr. Williams was involved in selling illegal narcotics throughout Franklin County. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit validated Mr. Williams’ illegal activities and began an investigation.

As a result of this investigation, Mr. Williams was charged with three (3) counts of Possess with Intent to Sell/Deliver a Schedule II Controlled Substance, (Cocaine), three (3) counts of Selling Cocaine, three (3) counts of Maintaining a Vehicle/Dwelling/Place for Selling Controlled Substances, one (1) count of Trafficking Cocaine, and Habitual Felon. 

Sheriff Kent Winstead stated, “One of our strategies is seeking those individuals who are repeat offenders and continue to engage in their illegal activities. This is an example of someone who has been through the system before and did not change his way of life after getting caught. We will continue to seek these individuals out and hold them accountable for poisoning our communities with these illegal drugs.” 

Mr. Williams is currently being held in the Franklin County Detention Center under a $500,000 secured bond.

Deshaun Lamont Williams, 45 years of ag

130 Mark Street Franklinton, NC 27525 

If you have information regarding this case or if you would like to report drug activity in your community, please contact Sgt. Ken Pike at (919) 496-2186. 

Terry M. Wright, Chief of Staff

In addition to Deshaun Lamont Williams’ arrest, a search warrant was executed at his residence. The search resulted in the seizure of approximately 42 grams of Cocaine, scales and US Currency. (FCSO photo)

Alien Indicted on Illegal Reentry Charge Found in Franklin Co.

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-Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, announces that a federal grand jury in Greenville has returned an indictment charging JESUS GARCIA-HERNANDEZ, age 43, of Mexico, with Illegal Reentry of a Deported Alien subsequent to a Felony Conviction.

GARCIA-HERNANDEZ, previously deported three times and found in Franklin County, is alleged to have been previously deported subsequent to a felony conviction for illegal reentry of a deported alien in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Therefore, if convicted, GARCIA-HERNANDEZ would face a maximum imprisonment term of 10 years, a $250,000 fine, and a term of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictments are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The cases are being investigated by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations and Homeland Security Investigations.

Dept. of Justice Reminds Public to be Aware of Fraud When Disaster Strikes

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-Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice

The Department of Justice established the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast region, which opened opportunities for criminals to exploit people during vulnerable times.

The NCDF, a national coordinating agency within the Department’s Criminal Division, operates a call center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and serves as a centralized clearinghouse for disaster fraud complaints and information relating to both natural and man-made disasters.

The NCDF seeks to improve and further the detection, prevention, investigation, and prosecution of fraud related to natural and man-made disasters, and to advocate for victims of such fraud. More than 20 federal, state, and local agencies participate in the NCDF, which allows them to forward complaints to the appropriate agency for investigation.

“In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian the affected communities and citizens of Eastern North Carolina should be on guard against disaster fraud schemes,” said Robert J. Higdon, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. “As FEMA and other federal, state, and local relief agencies work tirelessly to support those who have suffered losses as the result of this natural disaster, we can be certain that criminals will target those impacted and attempt to profit from the suffering of others. The Department of Justice is committed to detecting and stopping this type of fraud. Through the National Center for Disaster Fraud, and in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, we are working to aggressively prosecute the offenders.”

While compassion, assistance, and solidarity are generally prevalent in the aftermath of natural disasters, unscrupulous individuals and organizations also use these tragic events to take advantage of those in need.

Examples of illegal activity being reported to the NCDF and law enforcement include FEMA fraud, identity theft, contractor fraud, charity fraud and impersonation of government officials.

The NCDF reminds the public to be aware of and report any instances of alleged fraudulent activity related to relief operations and funding for victims. Members of the public are reminded to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before trusting anyone purporting to be working on behalf of disaster victims and before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of disaster victims.

The public is also reminded to be extremely cautious before providing personal identifying or financial information to anyone, especially those who may contact you after a natural disaster.

Unfortunately, criminals can exploit disasters, such as Hurricane Dorian, for their own gain by sending fraudulent communications through email or social media and by creating phony websites designed to solicit contributions.

Tips should be reported to the NCDF at (866) 720-5721. The line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, e-mails can be sent to [email protected], and information can be faxed to (225) 334-4707.

Learn more about the NCDF at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud and watch a public service announcement from United States Attorney Higdon here.

Within the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Deputy Criminal Chief Felice Corpening serves as the Disaster Fraud Coordinator. Working with the NCDF and our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, Deputy Criminal Chief Corpening oversees the federal prosecution and investigation of disaster fraud matters impacting Eastern North Carolina.

Violations of North Carolina state disaster fraud laws are handled by the North Carolina Department of Justice’s (NCDOJ) Consumer Protection Division. The NCDOJ Consumer Protection Division may be contacted at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM (1-877-566-7226) or by visiting www.ncdoj.gov/complaint.

Man Wanted in Multiple Franklin Co. Vehicle Break-Ins Arrested in Georgia

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-Press Release, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office

Kedrick Derrell Jones, who was wanted by the Youngsville Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office as a result of being a person of interest in numerous Breaking and Entering of Motor Vehicles and Felony Larceny offenses, was arrested in Chamblee, Georgia on September 4, 2019. 

During the past several months, multiple subdivisions in Youngsville and in the county experienced a rash of vehicle break-ins during the night time hours. After a joint investigation by the Youngsville Police Department and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Jones was identified as a suspect and warrants for his arrest were obtained. 

Mr. Jones has been charged with over 70 criminal offenses and is currently in the DeKalb County Jail in Georgia awaiting extradition to Franklin County. 

Kedrick Derrell Jones, 29 years of age, 120 School Street, Rolesville, NC.

Kedrick Derrell Jones, who was wanted by the Youngsville Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office as a result of being a person of interest in numerous Breaking and Entering of Motor Vehicles and Felony Larceny offenses, was arrested in Chamblee, Georgia on September 4, 2019. (FCSO photo)

Community Meeting Planned for Broadband Expansion in Franklin Co.

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-Press Release, Franklin County Government

Franklin County citizens will have an opportunity this fall to learn more about Open Broadband’s plans to expand broadband internet service in Franklin County.

On October 22, a Community Information Meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room at Franklin County’s Vance-Granville Community College Campus, 8100 Hwy 56 West in Louisburg. Citizens will hear about the plans Open Broadband has to address areas within the county which lack sufficient broadband service to meet the needs of residences, businesses and government. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions as they learn about how they can sign up, the initial areas where service will be introduced and how other areas will be selected for service deployment.

Open Broadband’s expansion into Franklin County is the result of an agreement County Commissioners approved June 17, 2019. The seven-year agreement provides funds of up to $188,000 per year for a four-year time period to Open Broadband to assist in bringing internet service to unserved and underserved areas of Franklin County.

The agreement is the result of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Government’s effort with Franklin, Granville and Vance counties that began in late 2017. The three counties were guided by consultant Joe Freddoso of Mighty River LLC. Broadband Action Teams in each county conducted citizen surveys, developed an RFP and ultimately selected Open Broadband LLC to bring their service to the region.

Information about the Franklin County Broadband Initiative is available at www.franklincountync.us along with links to the Open Broadband website and Frequently Asked Questions. Please attend the Community Information Meeting on October 22 to learn more about how service can be expanded into your area.

Open Broadband provides hybrid fiber and fixed-wireless internet service, up to gigabit speed, to many communities across North Carolina. Service is provided to residents, small and medium sized businesses, technology incubators, universities, and government locations including police, fire, town hall, and airport facilities. Open Broadband also provides free public Wi-Fi zones in downtown areas, parks, and campuses.

Network deployment in Franklin County will take place in phases over the next four years. The first customer service activation is planned for the end of 2019.

Open Broadband is now accepting waitlist signups on the Franklin County tab of the website: https://openbb.net/franklinco/. Those on the waitlist will receive regular updates on the progress of the network build and will be contacted once service is made available in their area.

Open Broadband is North Carolina owned and operated. Visit the company at https://openbb.net or follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter @OpenBBNet. For questions, email [email protected] or call 919-205-5400.

Franklin County Schools Closed Thursday

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-Information courtesy Franklin County Schools

Due to the unpredictability of Hurricane Dorian, and out of an abundance of caution, all Franklin County Schools will be closed on Thursday, September 5, 2019, for students and staff.

All school-related events, activities, athletics and rentals are canceled on Thursday.

FCS will send out additional updates as necessary. Please monitor the District website, social media and your local news outlets.

Be safe!

Town Talk 09/03/19: 10th Annual Ducky Derby to Feature Festival-Like Atmosphere

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Franklin-Granville-Vance Smart Start will hold its annual Ducky Derby Festival and rubber duck race, a fundraiser for the local Smart Start program, on Saturday, September 21, 2019, in downtown Henderson. The festival begins at 12 p.m. on Breckenridge Street between Perry Memorial Library and the Henderson Police Department.

According to Garry Daeke, development coordinator for F-G-V, this year’s activities include a bounce house and slide, face painting, corn hole, ring toss, balloon animals and performances by the Baby Shark and Paw Patrol characters.

Vendors will be on hand serving hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, sausage dogs, fish sandwiches, corn on the cob, funnel cakes, ice cream and snow cones.

Entertainment will include a DJ, singing performances from several daycare programs, music from Henderson Collegiate, Mary Potter Elementary School band and choir and the drumline from Granville Central High School.

The YMCA will lead line dancing and Zumba in the street and children will have the opportunity to man a real firehose with the assistance of the Henderson Fire Department.

Each child that attends the event will receive a free book, courtesy of Smart Start. Parents will also have the opportunity to enroll any child age birth to 5 in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that sends a book each month to children at their home.

“Our goal is to enroll 1,000 more children from this area into the program,” said Daeke. “We recently reached over 3,000 children enrolled and we are trying to get to 4,000 before the year is over. That would put us at 45-50% of the young children in the Franklin, Granville and Vance County areas that will be getting books in the mail.”

Safe Kids will also be present and will set up childcare safety seat inspections.

At 2 p.m., the entertainment switches to Garnett Street, where the rubber duck race will take place. Up to 2,000 rubber ducks will be poured into the Garnett Street “river” by a Greystone Concrete cement mixer.

The first duck to cross the finish line at Orange Street wins $1,000, second place $500 and third place finish is $250. Even the last duck to cross the finish line wins $100. There will be an additional drawing with one lucky winner receiving free “Chick-fil-A for a year,” a set of 52 meal tickets. Winners of the prizes do not have to be present to win.

In Henderson, tickets are on sale at EZ Car Care, Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce and State Employees Credit Union. All Smart Start staff and board members also have tickets, please call (252) 433-9110.

Tickets will also be on sale the day of the race. Ducks are $5 each, a “Quack Pack” of 6 tickets is $25 and a “Flock” of 25 tickets is available for $100.

Sponsors include:

Super Duck: Duke Energy, Union Bank, Granville Medical Center, Boyd & Royster Funeral Services

Top Duck: Charles Boyd Chevrolet and Cardinal Innovations

Feathered Friends: Henderson Family Dentistry, United Healthcare, Wester Realty, Greystone Concrete, City of Henderson, Chick-fil-A and Rose Oil Co.

To hear Daeke’s interview in its entirety, please click the play button below. Listen live to WIZS’ Town Talk Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on 1450AM, 100.1 FM or online at www.wizs.com.

VGCC Holds Convocation to Start New Academic Year

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College recently held its annual fall convocation to bring faculty and staff together for a kick-off to the new academic year.

Much of the event focused on a discussion of student success. Special guests for the convocation were representatives of “Achieving the Dream” (ATD), a national education reform organization designed to assist community colleges with improving student success. VGCC joined the ATD network of colleges in 2018.

ATD Leadership Coach Dr. Joanne Bashford and ATD Data Coach Dr. Linda Hagedorn presented information about the college’s progress in moving the needle on student success in the past six months.

VGCC Director of Planning & Research Julie Hicks and English faculty member Frankie Frink provided their colleagues with updates on key data points and forms of support to address the needs of students who are food insecure, respectively.

VGCC’s participation in Achieving the Dream and the leadership of Dr. Rachel Desmarais, who became college president earlier this year, have caused the college to place a greater emphasis on data related to teaching and learning, and equitable student outcomes for all.

Approximately 44 VGCC faculty and staff members serve on one of four ATD teams: the Core, Data, Communications, and Strategies teams. These teams will continue to work collaboratively throughout the fall semester to develop an Action Plan derived from the feedback and planning that took place during the fall convocation. This ATD Action Plan will be connected to the VGCC Strategic Plan.

“Convocation provided an opportunity for all new and returning faculty to learn more about the latest with ATD and provide feedback,” said Dr. Levy Brown, the college’s vice president of Learning, Student Engagement & Success. “We are committed to equitable student outcomes, which ultimately impact student success.”

The event also included the opportunity to recognize VGCC employees who have recently hit milestones by completing five, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years of service.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of Vance-Granville Community College’s service to the community, we celebrate the dedicated people who have made the college a wonderful place to work and learn, while we also look ahead to the future through the Achieving the Dream program,” said Dr. Desmarais.

VGCC Honors Faculty and Staff Members of the Year

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

At Vance-Granville Community College’s recent fall convocation, college President Dr. Rachel Desmarais announced awards to a pair of outstanding employees for the 2019-20 year.

Tammy Ball, an instructor for Office Administration and Medical Office Administration and Online Retention Specialist, was named Faculty Member of the Year, while Jennifer “Jenny” Luffman, Accounts Receivable and Third Party Billing Coordinator for the VGCC Business Office, was selected as the Staff Member of the Year.

The honors are two of VGCC’s three Glen Raven Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Awards. Glen Raven, Inc., the custom fabrics manufacturer with a facility in Warren County, is a longtime partner and supporter of the college. In addition to sponsoring the annual stipends to recognize excellence among VGCC instructors and staff members, Glen Raven has endowed several scholarships for students.

Ball and Luffman are now eligible to be considered for the N.C. Community College System’s statewide R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching and BB&T Staff Person of the Year awards, respectively.

“This year, Vance-Granville Community College celebrates 50 years of excellence, which would not have been possible without outstanding faculty and staff members like Jenny and Tammy,” said Dr. Desmarais. “The fact that both are not only dedicated members of our team but also VGCC alumni is a testament to the quality education they received here, as well as the community atmosphere that this institution has maintained.”

Tammy Ball

A Youngsville resident, Ball has been teaching at VGCC for the past six-and-a-half years but first developed a great passion for the college over 20 years ago, when she was a student. “I came to VGCC to study in the college transfer program,” Ball recalled. “After graduation, I looked to the college for classes to support my career in healthcare, and when I finally did decide to transfer, returned to VGCC once again to take business and accounting classes to take with me to the university.”

Tammy Ball (left) accepts the Faculty Member of the Year award from Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of VGCC. (VGCC photo)

After working as a medical records manager and clinical secretary at a retirement community, Ball completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration at N.C. State University. She then worked full-time at the university for several years, primarily in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Since joining VGCC, Ball has taught not only curriculum but continuing education courses, many of which she also developed, and has advised many on-campus and online students. She was lead advisor for the Office Administration Club for three years and has served on a variety of college committees.

“I’ve seen first-hand how the college can help our community through workforce training and transferable courses,” Ball said. “I love each day at VGCC where I can give back and help my own community learn and grow!”

Jennifer Luffman

Luffman, a resident of Bullock, said that she set a goal of one day working at VGCC while she was a student at the college, earning associate degrees in Accounting and Business Administration. “The staff and faculty were always energetic and helpful, and I could tell they loved their jobs,” Luffman recalled.

Dr. Rachel Desmarais (left), president of VGCC, presents the Staff member of the Year award to Jennifer Luffman. (VGCC photo)

She first went to work in the medical billing field for a neurologist, but two years after graduating from the community college, she was hired as a cashier at VGCC’s Main Campus. That was 14 years ago.

“I held the cashier position for a couple of years, and then I became a Lead Accounting Technician,” Luffman said. “Currently, I am the Accounts Receivable and Third Party Billing Coordinator. VGCC has helped me to grow professionally.”

She has also served as chair of the VGCC Scholarship Committee, on various N.C. Community College System task forces, and as president of the Vance County Association of Educational Office Professionals.

Luffman added, “I love VGCC and I love working with the staff and faculty, but most importantly, I love helping our students.”