Reminder: Turn Back Clocks, Test Smoke Alarms This Weekend

-information courtesy of American Red Cross

 As daylight saving time ends on Nov. 6, the American Red Cross reminds people that it’s also a good time to test smoke alarms to stay safe from home fires.

“Home fires claim more lives in a typical year than all natural disasters combined, but working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half,” said Barry Porter, Regional CEO for the American Red Cross Eastern North Carolina region. “The sooner an alarm alerts you to a fire, the sooner you can get out. When you turn your clocks back this weekend, also test your smoke alarms to help prevent a tragedy in your home.”

Over the past month, local Red Cross volunteers responded to help 306 people suddenly displaced in Eastern North Carolina affected by 100 home fires, which account for most of the more than 60,000 disasters that the Red Cross responds to annually across the country.

When turning your clocks back this weekend, test your smoke alarms and replace the batteries if needed. Visit for more information, including an escape plan to create and practice with your family, or download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching “American Red Cross” in app stores.

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older. Components such as sensors can become less sensitive over time. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.
  • Practice your two-minute home fire escape plan. Make sure everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to escape a burning home before it’s too late.
  • Include at least two ways to get out of every room and select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone can meet.

Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least 1,414 lives — including 43 in North Carolina — by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing more than 2.4 million free smoke alarms in high-risk neighborhoods across the country. Visit for more information.

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is made possible with generous financial donations from our North Carolina’s statewide presenting Sound the Alarm sponsor Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Farmland Preservation Grant Applications Due Dec. 19

-information courtesy of the N.C. Department of Agriculture

County governments and nonprofit groups may now apply for funding assistance from the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund for farmland preservation projects. Applicants have until Dec. 19 to apply.

“The latest study from the American Farmland Trust projects North Carolina losing more than a million acres of agricultural land over the next 20 years,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “These Farmland Preservation grants provide options for families and are critical in saving family farms across our state.”

Grants are available for agricultural conservation easements on working lands used for agricultural production; to support public-private enterprise programs that promote profitable and sustainable agricultural, horticultural and forestland activities; and for the development of agricultural plans.

Landowners interested in preserving their farms through conservation easements must work with county governments or land trusts to apply for grant funds. If awarded a grant in which the application requests funds for the conservation easement purchase value, landowners will be compensated for the purchase of the development rights.

Grant applications and guidelines are available online at For more information, call the Farmland Preservation office at 919.707.3074.

Granville Commissioners Begin Roles With NCACC

Two Granville County commissioners have begun leadership roles with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

The NCACC kicked off a new term with the swearing in of new district directors, which include local commissioners Tony Cozart and Zelodis Jay, according to information from the NCACC.

Jay begins a two-year term as the District 8 director, which represents Granville, Person, Vance, Warren, and Franklin counties for a two-year term. Cozart will chair the group’s Public Education Steering Committee. He was appointed by incoming NCACC president Tracey Johnson to this role.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve as District 8 representative on the NCACC Board of Directors,” Jay said. “This role will give me the opportunity to serve the residents and advance the interests of Granville County as well as our fellow citizens of Person, Vance, Warren and Franklin counties on a statewide  level.”

Bridgestone Bandag Gets $450,000 Reuse Grant For Expansion Project

Information courtesy of Terry Hobgood, Granville County public information officer

The North Carolina Department of Commerce has announced the award of a Building Reuse Grant in the Existing Building category to Bridgestone Bandag, LLC of Oxford. A $450,000 grant will support the renovation of a 225,000 square-foot building. Bridgestone Bandag will invest $1,623,990 into the project that will create 61 new jobs in Granville County.

“Granville County is excited to assist a longstanding industry like Bridgestone Bandag in receiving this Building Reuse Grant,” said Economic Development Director Harry Mills. “Granville’s Economic Development Office is ready and able to assist our existing industries with opportunities like this that help expand and solidify their presence in our community. Bridgestone Bandag is showing their commitment to Granville County with this major investment, and we are equally committed to helping them succeed.”

“Investments in rural North Carolina have a positive impact on our state’s overall success,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “This grant helps communities like Granville County create good jobs, improve the quality of life of their residents and boost the local economy.”

“I’m especially proud to see this latest spur of new businesses and job creation in North Carolina’s rural communities like Granville County,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Building Reuse grants help local governments revive buildings in their communities that allow them to take center stage in North Carolina’s economic development wins.”

The North Carolina Building Reuse Program provides grants to local governments to renovate and/or expand vacant buildings or buildings currently occupied by existing companies that will lead to the creation of new jobs in rural counties categorized as Tier 1 or Tier 2. Granville is a Tier 2 county.

Bridgestone Bandag is a manufacturer of tread rubber used for premium retreaded tires at their location on West Industry Dr. in Oxford. For more information, visit their website:

Alyssa Blair Named Oxford Downtown Development Director

Alyssa Blair has been selected to be Oxford’s downtown development director.

Blair is a familiar name and face in city government – she has been Oxford’s communications specialist since September 2019, according to information from City Manager M. Alan Thornton.

An Oxford native, Blair said she looks forward to her new role.

“I am excited to serve the city of Oxford in this capacity and look forward to working with all city departments and the community for the betterment of Oxford,”  she said in a press statement issued last week.

Over the past year, Blair has worked closely with officials of Main Street North Carolina and the Downtown Oxford Economic Development Corporation, Thornton said, and she has been “a crucial factor in Oxford’s  continued presence in the Main Street program,” he said.

Thornton said there was a strong field of candidates, and Blair “rose to the top” during the hiring process.

Blair has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and conflict management UNC-Greensboro and has earned two master’s degrees – one from UNC-G and one from the University of Konstanz in Germany.

Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in public  administration from the UNC School of Government and has completed additional various courses  and training in communications and development.

In addition to her time with the City of Oxford, Blair has worked for Special Olympics  North Carolina in volunteer engagement and currently sits on the North Carolina City  and County Communicators (NC3C) Board. Outside of the office, Ms. Blair enjoys being with her family and her dogs, traveling, has several artistic passions, and likes to volunteer when possible.

TownTalk: Webb Boosters Raise Funds, Brick By Brick

A pile of bricks has sat outside the J.F. Webb High School gym for the last couple of years, but they’ll soon serve their purpose, according to Webb Booster Club member Caroline Burnette.

That pile of bricks is becoming the foundation for a fundraiser that had been put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burnette spoke with John C. Rose on Tuesday’s TownTalk to explain the project, which involves the purchase of engraved bricks.

The booster club is raising money for the school’s athletic teams and Burnette encourages Webb alumni, businesses and others in the community to be a part of the project.

Visit to learn more or contact the booster club at

Webb’s masonry students are going to install the donated red bricks outside the gymnasium. As the gray-colored bricks are purchased and engraved, a red brick will be taken up and replaced with the engraved brick, Burnette said.

“We can sell as many as we want,” she said, adding that once the first space is full, the plan is to move to areas near the football field and the baseball field on campus.

“This is a lasting opportunity – it’s going to be there for a really long time,” she said.

There are three price levels, depending on the size of brick purchased, she explained.

A 4 x 8 brick is $100, an 8 x 8 brick is $150 and the largest size brick is $225. In addition to having names engraved, there are hundreds of different images to choose from as well.

Burnette said some of the school’s sports teams are in dire need of new equipment and uniforms and this fundraiser will help to address some of those needs.

“It’s time to really support our kids,” Burnette said. “Please support our students at J.F. Webb.”

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The Local Skinny! COVID-19 Update



There aren’t as many people routinely wearing face masks as there were this time last year, which is one indication that things are improving on the COVID-19 front. Or, perhaps people are just plain tired of wearing masks.

But public health professionals study and analyze the public’s health from a variety of perspectives to make sure people stay as safe as possible from disease. It’s important to know the why’s and wherefore’s, but the bottom line is that fewer cases of COVID-19 places both Vance and Granville counties are in the low community level.

Granville Vance Public Health Director Lisa Harrison and her staff continue to monitor both counties and stay updated on the latest information available.

Both counties, like much of the rest of the state, experienced a real spike in cases in January 2022, but the numbers had begun inching upward by November of 2021. By March 2022, the number of cases had dropped again to about the same levels that were being recorded before the winter surge.

As winter approaches, staying up-to-date on COVID-19 boosters is important, as is getting a flu shot.

Harrison spelled out in her regular COVID-19 update that health professionals must look at indicators other than just numbers of cases.

“Case numbers are not as reliable an indicator as they once were – people can use at-home testing kits and do not report those test results to public health,” she said.

Vaccinations and the all-important boosters also lower the risk of severe illness and death, she said, so looking at trends over time offers a more complete view.

Data indicators that health professionals look at include:

  • Virus particles found in wastewater
  • Emergency room visits for COVID symptoms
  • Health system strain and hospitalizations from COVID-19
  • Vaccines and boosters
  • Surveillance of new Variants
  • CDC COVID-19 community levels by county

And while it’s good news that both counties are in the low community level, Harrison included the following sobering statistics:

Vance County has had 14,655 COVID-19 cases and Granville County has reported 18,006. As for deaths from COVID -19, Vance County reports 130 and Granville County reports 124.

Vaccinations by the numbers:


Vance County

  • 68 percent of those over the age of 5 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • 63 percent are vaccinated with initial series complete
  •  5 percent have received the new booster
  • 24 percent of those ages 5-11 have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • 18 percent are vaccinated with initial series complete
  • 52 percent of those ages 12-17 have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • 45 percent are vaccinated with initial series complete

Granville County

  • 71 percent of those over 5 years have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • 67 percent are vaccinated with initial series complete
  • 6 percent have had the new booster
  • 26 percent of those 5-11 years have had have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • 22 percent are vaccinated with initial series complete
  • 45 percent of those 12-17 years have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • 42 percent are vaccinated with initial series complete

Visit the CDC Data Tracker by County and the NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard. Relevant graphs from these dashboards are available on our website at

Construction Of New Senior Center For Northern Granville To Begin In 2023

County officials joined Stovall town commissioners Thursday at the future site of the North Granville Senior Center in Stovall.

The new 8,000-square foot center will be located at 301 Oxford St. in Stovall, adjacent to the Stovall Branch Library.

Construction of the new facility is scheduled for 2023.

The current senior center is located at 318 U.S. Highway 15 South in Stovall and will remain open until the new facility is ready.

“The existing site has served its purpose,” said Commissioner Chairman Tony Cozart. “But the time has come for Granville County to expand services in Stovall to match what can be found at  the Granville County Senior Center in Oxford and South Granville Senior Center in Creedmoor,” Cozart said.

In addition to Cozart, commissioners David Smith, Zelodis Jay and Sue Hinman spoke about the project.

“We know this center will help so many people in northern Granville County,” Smith said.  “This new site will be so much safer without our seniors having to make that dangerous turn off Highway 15 into a very tight parking lot. Being in the middle of downtown next to other public services like the Stovall Branch Library, town hall, the U.S. Post Office, and the Stovall Medical Center will help make downtown Stovall a service hub for our northern Granville residents.”

Jay said he looks forward to construction beginning in the coming months. “Commissioner Smith and I have worked on this for years,” Jay told those gathered. “Before the district lines changed, we both represented Stovall. Even though Stovall is no longer my district, I still consider it to part of District 1 at heart.”

“Building a new Senior Center in northern Granville County has been a top priority of mine since I was first elected,” said Hinman. “Even though my district doesn’t include Stovall, I have always made a point of advocating that our Senior Services Department equally serve all parts of Granville County.”

Phyllis Blackwell, the center’s manager, can be reached at 919.693.3383 or

Fire Ants: How To Manage Them, Not E

The wet weather associated with Hurricane Ian a few weeks ago has really allowed the red imported fire ants (RIFA), Solenopsis invicta, to thrive. It seems everywhere you look you see a large mound of soil, and even if you barely come in contact with it, those small red pests swarm out.

If you are familiar with them, either by sight and by sting, you know they can be quite troublesome and they are not easily controlled,” according to Johnny Coley, horticulture agent for Granville and Person counties.

“When you have RIFAs move into your yard or landscape, managing them is usually the best you can hope for. Once you think you have them under control, five to ten more hills show up,” Coley said in a written statement about the stinging insects.

Although native to South America, fire ants were introduced to the U.S. in the 1930’s and were first found in North Carolina in the early 1950’s. They are now mainly found in the Southeast. Mounds can have more than 100,000 workers and hundreds of winged adults but only one queen. Winged adults will mate and, after mating with females, spin off their own queens and can produce their own nest. A queen can fly up to 10 miles from its original mound; however, most queens do not travel that far. Most queens do not survive once they have mated because other foraging ants, especially other fire ants, will kill them.

Several methods can be used to control fire ants including baits, granular insecticides, drenches and powders.  Rotating insecticides with different active ingredients is always the best practice. This will prevent fire ants from becoming resistant to a particular active ingredient.

For a comprehensive list of active ingredients/products that are available for fire ant control and more general  information about RIFAs please visit:

You may also contact Johnny Coley at the Granville or Person County Extension offices at 919.603.1350 (Granville) or  336.599.1195 (Person) or by email at for a copy of this publication.

Dale Folwell

Folwell Announces One-Month “Bump” In State Employees’ Retirement Benefits

School systems across the state are offering bonuses of all sorts to attract and retain educators. The Social Security Administration recently announced a bump of more than 8 percent in the amount it pays to folks who receive benefits.

And today, there’s some good news from State Treasurer Dale Folwell that should put smiles on the faces of benefit recipients of retired state employees – they’re getting a supplement, too.

It’s only this month, but it’s a 4 percent bump, and Folwell issued a press release today that coincides with the day that those payments are issued. Retired employees of the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System, as well as the  Consolidated Judicial Retirement System, Legislative Retirement System and the Local and Governmental Employees’ Retirement System should see a little extra in their monthly benefits, Folwell said in a written statement.

“When retired state employees and teachers check their bank accounts or open their mail, they will find an additional 4 percent of their annual benefit included with this month’s payment,” Folwell stated.

“The TSERS, CJRS and LRS payments were appropriated by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper. The LGERS payment will come from retirement funds. The LGERS one-time supplement was approved by the LGERS Board on Jan. 27 following my recommendation and is in line with the funding policy. We were able to provide the LGERS benefit without increasing the rates we charge to cities and counties across the state,” Folwell continued.

“While payments starting in November will return to the levels they would have been without the supplemental increase, the October payment will include a much-needed boost for those who served the citizens of North Carolina as we see rising costs in everyday expenses.

I want to thank the General Assembly, retirement boards, North Carolina League of Municipalities, North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and staff for recognizing a need and providing those that taught, protected or otherwise served the citizens of North Carolina a timely increase to the October benefit,” the statement concluded.