VGCC to offer Biotech Workshop to high school students

Vance-Granville Community College has scheduled its fourth annual Biotech Workshop for local high school students, as one of a series of VGCC Arts & Sciences camps and workshops being held this year.

All tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders who have taken or are currently taking biology and chemistry are invited to attend the workshop, which is set to take place over the course of two Saturdays: April 2 and April 9, each day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students must attend on both days.

Sessions will be taught by VGCC faculty in the state-of-the-art biotech lab in Building 8 on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County. “This workshop will give students a great opportunity to build their résumés and gain hands-on experience in a real laboratory with advanced equipment,” said VGCC Bioprocess Technology program head Dr. Tara Hamilton, who will oversee the workshop. “You can develop lab skills here that you can use in college and in various STEM careers, whether it’s in scientific research, high-tech manufacturing or medicine.”

Students will be introduced to Biotechnology, which is broadly described as using living organisms to develop and manufacture products for human use. This can range from making yogurt and cheese to producing human proteins in bacteria. This workshop will focus on the manipulation and use of various cellular molecules and the techniques commonly employed in a biotechnology laboratory.  Participants will separate proteins and DNA on gels, learn how to culture bacteria for use in obtaining a useful product, and become accustomed to utilizing common laboratory equipment.

The cost to attend the workshop is $50, which includes lunch each day.

This opportunity is one of a number of initiatives by the VGCC Arts & Sciences division to reach out into the community with unique learning activities. The annual VGCC Science Camp for rising sixth, seventh and eighth graders and the Teenworks Drama Camp, which targets rising eighth graders through high school seniors, will both be held this summer.

Registration for the Biotech workshop can be completed online at For more information, contact Dr. Hamilton at (252) 738-3285 or

Thomas Jefferson makes first visit to VGCC

Vance-Granville Community College students, faculty, staff and members of the community recently felt that they were in the presence of one of our nation’s Founding Fathers, when Bill Barker, in character as President Thomas Jefferson, presented the first in a series of three lectures. Barker has a local connection, as his father was an Oxford native and he has many relatives in Granville County.

The college’s Arts and Sciences division is offering a spring lecture series featuring Barker, the critically acclaimed resident “Mr. Jefferson” at Colonial Williamsburg, Va. The public is invited to attend the Jefferson presentations.

On Feb. 18, the series kicked off with “Mr. Jefferson and the Pursuit of Science.” Barker will return to present “Mr. Jefferson and the U.S. Constitution,” on Thursday, March 17, at 11 a.m. The final presentation will be “Mr. Jefferson and Slavery,” on Thursday, April 21, at 11 a.m. Each of these hour-long lectures are being held in the small auditorium in Building 2 on VGCC’s Main Campus in Henderson.

At his first engagement, the special guest was introduced by VGCC English department chair David Wyche, who noted that Barker is the same height, weight and general appearance as Mr. Jefferson. He has portrayed Thomas Jefferson in a variety of venues since his first appearance at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1984 and has conducted extensive research on Jefferson and his world. “Short of time travel, this is as close as we can come to meeting the man himself,” Wyche said.

“Jefferson” expressed his pleasure at visiting an educational institution like VGCC, noting that when he was growing up, education was only available to male children of families with means. “I hope for the day when everyone will have the opportunity to go to school, poor as well as wealthy, female as well as male, so that all will have a better opportunity to pursue ‘natural philosophy,’ what you now call ‘science,’” he said. Science, he added, is “founded upon open and free conversation, an open mind to pursue everything, to question everything, and thereby through objective reasoning to arrive at the discovery of facts.”

Barker, never breaking character, discussed the wide variety of scientific and technological advances that fascinated Jefferson. “What will happen in the next century, or two centuries?” he wondered. “Imagine! The greatest product this nation has to offer the world is imagination.” The president said that he still lived in a “four-mile-per hour world,” with both transportation and communication tied to the speed of horses, ships and “your own two feet.”

Jefferson said that he was frequently asked to name the greatest invention of this modern world, and his answer was “the printing press,” for its power to disseminate information and encourage literacy. “When you read for yourself, you begin to think for yourself,” he said. “You are no longer beholden to hearsay; you have the opportunity to read the facts distinctly for yourself, to put your mind to work, to ponder and to question, to objectively look at things.” He also touched upon fields like astronomy, agriculture, medicine, paleontology and even the science of government.

“What a bright future we have,” Barker said, from Jefferson’s perspective. “I enjoy much more the dreams of our future than I do the history of our past.”

For more information on the lecture series, call David Wyche at (252) 738-3364 or Deanna Stegall at (252) 738-3311.

Local Pastors Visit Local Schools

Earlier in February, Pastors of local churches took time out of their busy schedules to visit four schools in the Vance County Schools system.

The school system invited pastors and church leaders throughout Vance County to take part in the four-hour event during the morning to learn more about the many positive things happening in local schools.

Dr. Anthony D. Jackson, superintendent of Vance County Schools, led the group of about 15 pastors on the tours. They visited the STEM Early High School, Pinkston Street Elementary School, Zeb Vance Elementary School and Early College High School. Breakfast and lunch also were provided for the participants at the school system’s Administrative Services Center.

At the STEM Early High School, Principal Rey Horner was joined by his school’s student ambassadors in leading the pastors in visits to several classrooms. They saw students in each classroom led by their teacher in hands-on work with electrical power boards, open discussions about literature written by famous African American authors, group discussions and students using Smartboards to solve mathematical equations and indepth discussions about our nation’s economy.

Heddie Somerville, principal of Pinkston Street and the school system’s Principal of the Year, welcomed the group to her school and had staff members take them to several classrooms where they had a chance to interact with teachers and students during their instruction time. Somerville and her staff also stressed how the school’s wing for classrooms in grades 3-5 is called “College Row” and daily discussions are held with students to encourage them to begin planning to pursue a college education.

Kristian Herring, the new principal of Zeb Vance Elementary, met the group as they arrived at his school. Student representatives led the pastors on tours of the school. They talked with several teachers and students in their classrooms and learned about the emphasis on reading throughout the school. Herring also explained to them how his faculty and staff work as teams to identify students’ specific needs and their academic progress throughout the school year.

Their final visit was to the Early College High School on the campus of Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC). Their visit was led by Vangie Mitchell, liaison between Early College and VGCC, who explained the unique partnership to enable students to complete their high school career and receive two years of college coursework at no cost to them. Pastors again were able to visit in several classrooms.

The school system has now hosted elected officials and business leaders, as well as the pastors, in visits to local schools. More of these events will be scheduled as school officials work to communicate with stakeholders about the services and programs provided to students.

(The preceding comes from a press release issued by VCS.  The pastors visited the local schools on February 3, but we are just now publishing this information at this time on

Warren and Granville Legal Press Releases

Warren 02-23-16 Press Release

Granville 02-26-16 Press Release


Warrenton, NC – Warren County Superior Case Management Court was held Monday, February 22, 2016. The Honorable Donald W. Stephens was the Superior Court Judge presiding over this session of Court. Bond motions were held in the cases of State of North Carolina vs. Darren Alston, State of North Carolina vs. Marquis M. Davis and State of North Carolina vs. Montrell Davis. These defendants are each charged with First Degree Murder arising out of the death of Michael Pressley on August 9,2015. After hearing from Assistant District Attorney Onica Fuller, and the attorneys for each of the defendants, bond was set at $1,000,000.00 secured in the cases of State of North Carolina vs. Marquis M. Davis and Montrell Davis. Defendant Darren A. Alston did not ask to be heard on bond at this time. The fourth defendant charged, Kadeem J. Grooms, was not in court on February 22, 2016, because his attorney was unavailable. A fifth defendant, Keshan Goode, is charged with Felony Accessory After the Fact to First Degree Murder, and his bond was set at $50,000.00 secured.


Oxford, NC – Granville County Criminal Superior Trial Court was held during the week of February 22, 2016. The Honorable W. Osmond Smith, III presided over the week long session. The Office of District Attorney Mike Waters was represented by Assistant District Attorneys Allison Capps, Tasha Gardner and Mike Putney.

Davey Allen pleaded guilty to Second Degree Murder in the death of Suzy Hester. Ms. Hester was the nighttime caregiver for Mr. Allen’s grandmother who was an invalid. Mr. Allen entered his grandmother’s home on the evening of October 5,2013, and stabbed Ms. Hester multiple times. Judge Smith sentenced Mr. Allen to 365 to 450 months in the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Division of Adult Correction (DAC). This case was investigated by the Oxford Police Department and was prepared for trial by Assistant District Attorneys Tasha Gardner and Allison Capps.

After Judge Smith declared that he was capable of proceeding to trial, Jose Dominguez-Lopez plead guilty to Second Degree Sex Offense. Dominguez-Lopez received an active sentence of 78 months minimum to 148 months maximum in DAC. Dominguez-Lopez was charged after he assaulted a woman on Westbourne Drive in Creedmoor. After a short man-hunt, Dominguez-Lopez was apprehended by officers of the Creedmoor Police Department while hiding in a shed on nearby Sam Moss Hayes Road.

Tyre Burnette pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury. Burnette received an active sentence of 28 months minimum to 43 months maximum in DAC. Burnette and a co-defendant, Anthony Mann, were involved in the beating of Kedric Hester on Otho Mangum Road. Anthony Mann also pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury, as well as, various drug and weapon charges. Mann received an active sentence of 18-31 months in DAC. Detectives from the Granville County Sheriffs Office investigated all
of these cases.

Thurston Darius Bobbitt pleaded guilty to Attempted Common Law Robbery and Felony Fleeing to Elude an Officer. Bobbitt received an active sentence of 16 months minimum to 38 months maximum in DAC. The Attempted Common Law Robbery charge arose from the attempted robbery of the Shell Station located at 3901 Oxford Loop Road on September 16, 2014, and was investigated by detectives of the Oxford Police Department. The Fleeing to Elude an Officer charge arose from a high speed chase that began in the city limits of Oxford and ended at Wilton Elementary School on February 2, 2016. The chase involved officers from Oxford Police Department and The Granville County Sheriffs Office.

Phillip Markunas pleaded guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. On September 9,2014, the United States Marshall Service, Eastern District of North Carolina, Violent Fugitive Task Force assisted the Granville County Sheriff’s Office with verifying registration compliance of all registered sex offenders in Granville County. Upon search of the camper that Markunas resided in, officers recovered several firearms and knives. Markunas was previously convicted of Indecent Liberties with a child on December 2, 2013.

James Tunstall pleaded guilty to Felonious Possession of Cocaine. Tunstall received an active sentence of 6 months minimum to 17 months maximum in DAC. Officers of Oxford Police Department executed a traffic stop of the vehicle Tunstall was driving on October 13, 2014. In plain view was an open container of alcohol. A further search of the vehicle yielded illegal controlled substances and drug paraphernalia.

Tiffany Thomas pleaded gUilty to Habitual Misdemeanor Larceny. Thomas received a minimum of 8 months to a maximum of 19 months suspended with supervised probation. As a condition of probation, she was ordered to serve a 60 day sentence. On May 28, 2015, Thomas entered the Family Dollar located at 117 Hilltop Village, shortly before the store was to close. After walking around with a tote and filling it with various household items, Thomas left the store without paying for the items. Officers of the Oxford Police Department responded and Thomas was immediately apprehended.

Granville Vance Tornado Path

Director of Emergency Operations for Henderson and Vance County Brian Short provided the picture below to WIZS News by email.

In his email, he wrote, “(Wednesday’s) tornadoes caused significant damage in the northern portion of Vance County. While we believe at this time that we had three separate tornadoes in total, I have attached some locational data showing four points that we feel strongly are tornado touchdowns in Vance County. This helps to define the path of the tornado that caused the damage in the northern part of the County.”

According to what Short is saying, there were apparently three separate tornadoes believed to have been in Vance County on Wednesday, while the picture shows the path of a single tornado which it is believed caused the damage in northern Vance County.  The path pictured is of the tornado which caused so much damage in the Huntsboro community in Granville County before moving into Vance County and touching down as many as four more times.

tornado track 022416

4 Confirmed Tornado Touchdowns in Vance County

Director of Emergency Management for Henderson and Vance County told WIZS News, “We have at least four confirmed tornado touchdowns in Vance County.”

He said he thought it was all from the same tornado. “The weather service will have to confirm that from doppler imaging. They are also technically going to have to confirm that it’s tornadic damage, but I’ve seen enough to know that it is.”

Short said the weather service would be coming in tomorrow or the next day to make that determination.

There are no known deaths or injuries to report in Vance County.

Short said the four touchdowns caused significant damage. He said there were a few isolated power outages “in the Hicksboro, Williamsboro area, which is where most of the damage is.”

There are no roads closed at this time. Emergency crews cleared several downed trees really quickly, according to Short.

Based on our own observations at WIZS, these tornado touchdowns north of Henderson would have occurred right around 5:00 P.M. Wednesday. Additionally, there is an amateur video clip that has been shown several times on WTVD-TV that is supposedly of a tornado just north of Henderson, and if so, this would be in line with what Short is reporting. This stems from the first of three tornado warnings issued for Vance County on Wednesday.

The second and third tornado warnings for Vance County involved mostly areas south and east of the City of Henderson, down towards Bearpond, Kittrell and east towards Cokesbury. When asked if anything materialized from the warnings for the southern part of Vance County, Short said, “Not that I know of, but we had multiple people going in multiple directions, and I have not talked to all of them yet.”

In neighboring Granville County, near Huntsboro, which is not far from the Henderson-Oxford Airport, multiple structures were damaged.  One house was completely destroyed, while adjacent houses received heavy damage.  A local dairy farmer sustained heavy property damage, including two silos as well as equipment and other structure damage.  WIZS News spoke directly with a person on the scene in Huntsboro.  He reported the dairy farmer had not lost any of his cows and that he was observing the aftermath of the storm firsthand while speaking with us.

Severe Weather Threat

Tornado Watch in effect until 7 P.M. link

Area Schools Dismissing Early.  Most in the Henderson-Vance and Granville area dismissing at 11:30 A.M.  (See WIZS Facebook Page)

National Weather Service link

NWSRaleighLatestBriefing (022416 morning) — as supplied by Brian Short, Director of Emergency Operations for Henderson and Vance County

VGCC Child Care Center awarded Five Stars


The state of North Carolina has once again awarded a five-star license — the highest possible rating — to the Child Care Center at Vance-Granville Community College’s Main Campus.

State evaluations of child care programs are conducted once every three years, explained Bridget Perry, the manager of the VGCC center. “On a scale of one to 15 points, our program received 13 total points, earning the renewal of our five-star status,” Perry said. “The five-star rating shows our parents and children how dedicated we are to providing quality care, facilitating positive learning, and maintaining a healthy and safe environment on a daily basis.”

Since the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education began the current system of rating child care centers in 2000, the center on VGCC’s Main Campus has earned the five-star rating in six consecutive evaluations (2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016). VGCC also maintains a five-star-rated child care center on its Franklin County Campus.

As part of the evaluation process, the Main Campus Child Care Center was visited by fire and sanitarian inspectors, a state licensing consultant and two state-appointed evaluators. They rated the center in two categories – staff education and program standards. The center received a perfect score of seven points in the area of staff education, five points for program standards, and a bonus point because all of its teachers have associate’s degrees in early childhood education.

“The strengths of our child care center are the level of commitment the teachers demonstrate every day, the support from Vance-Granville Community College faculty and staff, and the support from the community, students and the families we serve,” Perry said. She also had high praise for the center’s staff. “The dedication of Hilda Cordell, Pam Harris, Kathy Hughes, Deborah Harris, Rhonda Pegram and Lizzie Nelms made our success possible,” Perry said. “They all are eager to come here every day and be the best! They are awesome, and I am blessed to have such an amazing group of teachers. I am grateful I was chosen one year ago to become a part of this family.”

Perry pointed out that not only does the center provide outstanding child care, but it also affords an excellent environment for students in Vance-Granville’s Early Childhood Education program to gain practical training. The VGCC Child Care Center is licensed to accommodate 38 children, toddler to four years old. For more information, parents can call Bridget Perry at (252) 738-3220.


Early College Applications

Vance County Schools is now accepting applications for rising ninth graders to enroll in the Vance County Early College High School for the 2016-2017 school year.

Applications can be picked up from counselors at Eaton-Johnson Middle School, Henderson Middle School and the STEM Early High School, as well as on the Early College website and at the school’s office on the third floor of Building 2 on the campus of Vance-Granville Community College off Poplar Creek Road.

The deadline for receiving completed applications is March 3, 2016.

The first of the parent information meetings with parents of current eighth graders will be held Thursday, February 18, at Eaton-Johnson Middle School at 6 p.m. in the school’s media center. Additional, parent meetings are scheduled on February 24, at 6 p.m. at the STEM Early High School on the campus of Northern Vance High School, and on February 25 at 6 p.m. at Henderson Middle School.

(VCS Press Release)

Early College Recognitions

Administrators and faculty members at the Vance County Early College High School hosted their annual “Leading the Pack” celebration for outstanding students on February 9, in the Civic Center at Vance-Granville Community College.

There were 18 students honored during the celebration as they near the end of their fourth year in the five-year program and are on target to complete their high school education and have two years of college course credits when they graduate in May of 2017.ECHS awards spring 2016a

The students honored included Christopher Blue, David Cobbs, Nealee Fisher, Sierra Hawkins, Mychell Keith, Kristen Oakes, Bali Reavis, Autumn Richardson, Alexandra Saravia, Rebecca Short, Alicia Tucker, Jacob Weaver, Angel White, Darius Williams, Hailey Williamson, Jordan Williamson, Anautica Wilson and April Zuniga-Trejo.

Upon completion of their studies at Early College, the students will receive their high school diplomas and will have college course credits to transfer to four-year colleges and universities as juniors. Some will successfully complete work to receive a two-year associates degree in a chosen field of study from Vance-Granville Community College.

Principal Michael Bullard of Early College, led the celebration. He was joined in recognizing each of the students by Dr. Anthony D. Jackson, superintendent of Vance County Schools; Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of Vance-Granville Community College; Dr. Cindy Bennett, assistant superintendent of Student Services and Strategic Planning at Vance County Schools; and Dr. Angela Ballentine, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at Vance-Granville Community College.ECHS 2 awards spring 2016b

(Information supplied to WIZS by VCS press release.)