Celebrate Small Farms Week Mar. 24-30

Small farmers from across the state are in the spotlight as N.C. A&T State University celebrates the 38th annual Small Farms Week. This year’s theme is “New Paths to Profits,” and small farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs will be able to take part in a variety of workshops and educational programs, panel discussions and tours at the N.C. A&T University Farm Pavilion in Greensboro as part of the weeklong week paying tribute to small farmers.

On Tuesday, Mar. 26, Small Farms Week will focus on education for small farmers that cover topics ranging from small-scale animal production, plant production, natural resource management and to adapting to climate changes that could bring more droughts, severe storms and intense summer heat.

A goal of Small Farms week is to showcase and support limited-resource, small-scale, part-time, and alternative-enterprise farmers who provide their communities with fresh produce and locally sourced products.

“The agriculture landscape is changing,” stated Fletcher Barber, Ed. D., this year’s chair of Small Farms Week. Barber also is the Extension Service’s small farms recruiter and said in a press statement that consumers are interested in exploring multicultural food traditions and new niche products. “That interest offers opportunities for our farmers,” Barber said.

A highlight of the weeklong activities occurs Wednesday when the 2024 Small Farmer of the Year will be named.

Activities kicked off Monday in Wayne County, home to 2023 Small Farmers of the Year J & J Produce.

Since 2019, sisters Jeannette Martin Horn and Joyce Martin Bowden have grown a wide variety of produce – including green beans, mustard and turnip greens, squash, onions, tomatoes, pecans and their signature field peas – on 100 acres of their Century Farm. The sisters’ ancestor, a soldier in the 135th U.S. Colored Infantry, bought the land after the regiment was “mustered out” in 1865, making their land a Century Farm.

“The Martin sisters are a perfect example of the heart and soul of farming in North Carolina,” said M. Ray McKinnie, Ph.D., Extension administrator and associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. “Their land has been in the family for more than 150 years, and they not only grow, they give back to their community by hosting groups and encouraging them to learn about agriculture and farming.

“Our 2024 Small Farmer of the Year, whoever that may be, will exemplify these same characteristics that make family farms so important to our agricultural economy,” he added.

Thursday, Mar. 28 and Friday, Mar. 29 will offer more educational sessions and demonstrations, emanating from the university or other organizations within North Carolina that highlight farming best practices, research results or student-led agricultural and environmental activities benefitting small farmers.

“Our goal is to help small farmers make the most of new markets and crops while adopting sustainable practices that protect their land and their ability to adapt as our climate becomes more variable.”

Check here during the week for updates: www.itzy.io/sfw2024

The Local Skinny! Paws for Granville Auction Raises Money for Spay and Neuter

Calling all animal lovers who also enjoy a night out, complete with dinner and a silent auciton! The fifth annual Paws for Granville fundraiser is Saturday, April 6 and organizers say you’re not going to want to miss it!

Tickets are $35 for the event, which will be from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Barn at Vino in Stem. Proceeds go to fund the spay/neuter program at the Granville County Animal Shelter, which is partnering with the local Humane Society to put on the event.

Angela Gooch, treasurer and co-founder of the Granville County Humane Society, spoke with WIZS’s Bill Harris on Monday’s segment of The Local Skinny! to provide details.

“We’re hoping to get plenty of support from the community” for the fundraiser, Gooch said, which in turn will provide much-needed funds to pay for the shelter’s spay/neuter program.

Gooch said there typically are a lot of cats to be spayed or neutered, but that the shelter had taken in “an awful lot” of puppies lately.

“It’s a big problem,” she said.  “It seems like no matter how many we do, there are more and more to take their place” in the spay/neuter program.

One way to help raise funds to support the spay/neuter program is through a silent auction. Event attendees can bid on items that include jewelry, a bicycle, garden flags, gifts cards to Angus Barn, the N.C. Zoo and a ticket package to see the “Mamma Mia” ABBA tribute at DPAC – not to mention a variety of dog- and cat-related paraphernalia.

Purchase tickets online through Eventbrite, visit the Granville County Animal Shelter, 515 New Commerce Dr. or call 919.691.9114.

In addition, donations may be made to the local humane society, P.O. Box 385, Butner, NC 27509 or make an online donation at hsgcncinfo@gmail.com

“We need the community help to make this a success,” Gooch said.



Scholarship Opportunity For Seniors Who Want To Pursue STEM Career After High School

Granville County high school seniors who want to pursue careers in renewable energy and STEM-related careers are eligible to apply for a $1,000 scholarship program from a Durham solar energy company.

Cypress Creek Renewables will award 35 Energizing Tomorrow’s Leaders scholarships, which can be used for tuition, books, materials for two-year or four-year programs at universities and community colleges.

Seniors who will graduate this year from any school in Granville County are eligible to submit applications; the deadline to submit is April 1, 2024.

Find the application at https://ccrenew.com/scholarships/.

The biggest requirement for the application is the creativity of the short, 1-minute video requirement on “How Renewable Energy Affects my Future,” which can be created using a cell phone.

This scholarship could be for a traditional student seeking a 4-year degree, but it’s also for students looking to fund their training in a trade school or certificate program. There is no minimum GPA or ACT/SAT score because students will be evaluated wholistically.
According to information on the Cypress Creek webpage, “scholarships will be granted to students pursuing 4-year, 2-year, or certificate programs at an accredited community college or university. Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate an interest in a career in the renewable energy industry or a STEM-related field but all eligible students are welcome to apply.

Proof of enrollment will be required prior to fund dispersal, and scholarships will be paid directly to the college or university.
There are three other N.C. counties included as well as is among four counties in North Carolina selected to participate; 23 other counties in 10 other states also are included.

Forums On Human Trafficking Well Received In Vance, Granville

-information courtesy of  the Office of  N.C. Rep. Frank Sossamon

In an effort to shed some light on the issue of human trafficking, N.C. Rep. Frank Sossamon helped organize forums held recently in Granville and Vance counties to raise awareness among his District 32 constituents and provide training for law enforcement officers.

The two forums had “significant participation and engagement from various stakeholders,” according to a press statement from Clai Keel, a spokesperson for Sossamon.

The law enforcement session featured insights from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol on the prevalence of human trafficking across North Carolina and its impact on law enforcement communities. The session highlighted training opportunities such as the Interdiction for the Protection of Children (IPC) program, designed to help officers identify and assist missing, exploited, or at-risk children. Following the forum, both the Granville and Vance County Sheriff offices have committed to participating in the intensive two-day IPC training later this year.

Henderson Mayor Melissa Elliott attended the Vance County forum and shared her personal connection to the issue of human trafficking and emphasized the importance of community collaboration in addressing this critical issue.

In the session for the general public, the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission and NCSTOP delivered a comprehensive Human Trafficking 101 presentation. Attendees gained valuable knowledge about recognizing and responding to human trafficking situations, as well as access to available resources for victims and survivors.

Sossamon expressed his gratitude to all participants, speakers and sponsors for their contributions to the success of these forums. He emphasized the importance of ongoing education, awareness, and collaboration in the fight against human trafficking, reaffirming his commitment to advocating for policies and initiatives that protect vulnerable individuals and hold perpetrators accountable.




Tickets On Sale Now For VGCC Foundation Beer, Wine Tasting Fundraiser Apr. 13

– information courtesy of VGCC Public Information Officer Courtney Cissel

The Vance-Granville Community College Foundation is hosting a wine and beer tasting event on Saturday, April 13 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at HighRock Farms in Granville County. Tickets are $75. Proceeds of the fundraiser will be used to help support students who find them facing unforeseen financial crises.

The theme for the event is “Be the Light in a Student’s Life,” and there will be an array of wineries represented to highlight their signature wines. Local brewery Tobacco Wood Brewing Company will be showcasing their craft beers  Guests will be able to pair their beverages with an assortment of sweet and savory foods, including seafood, chicken and beef, according to a press release from VGCC Public Information Officer Courtney Cissel.

Unexpected burdens can easily derail some students. Having initiatives like a stocked food pantry, emergency assistance, transportation vouchers, and career closet, The VGCC Foundations steps in to meet students’ basic needs when the unexpected gets in the way of their academic progress.

Attendees will receive a souvenir wine glass and have the option to purchase their favorite finds. In addition, a variety of silent auction items will be on display for bidding throughout the evening. A short program showcasing students who have benefited from donor contributions will open the evening, and local students will provide the event’s entertainment.

Beth and David Hollister operate HighRock Farms, a 200-acre property located at 2317 Enon Rd., Oxford. The venue is handicap accessible.

Dress for the evening is business attire.

Purchase tickets at The VGCC Foundation office, online at www.vgcc.edu/the-vgcc-foundation-online-gifts and enter “Gala” in the Designation box. To purchase tickets using any other form of payment, please contact The VGCC Foundation by email at foundation@vgcc.edu or by calling 252.738.3264.

GVPH Director Lisa Harrison Receives State Honor As Health Director Of The Year

Granville Vance Public Health Director Lisa Macon Harrison was named Health Director of the Year at the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors’ annual awards ceremony in Raleigh.

Harrison, who has been at the helm of GVPH for 12 years, was selected based on her commitment to public health and “lifting the work, value and voice of health departments locally, statewide and at the national level,” according to a press release.

NCALHD President Quintana Stewart presented the award to Harrison. “Lisa is a leader not only for her health department but also for several local health departments in North Carolina and across the United States as she has shared their stories and passion while advocating for needed resources to support their dedication to improving the lives of our neighbors,” Stewart stated.

In a telephone interview Wednesday with WIZS News, Harrison said the award was “a huge surprise – I wasn’t expecting it.” She did say, however, that as she sat in the audience, listening to the presenter talk about the not-yet-named recipient, she thought the list of accomplishments sounded familiar.

“I thought, ‘That sounds a lot like my resume,’” Harrison said. “And then, all of a sudden, comes in the leadership team and  Michael,” her husband. “It totally surprised me – I didn’t know a thing about it until the end,” she added.

“It’s been such a fun experience,” Harrison said. “Being in public health is working with some really caring, skilled, talented, smart people who are just nice to work with. It’s just such a pleasure to get up and go to work every day – I’m very lucky.”

Harrison called her leadership team “amazing,” and said the staff of 100 works hard every day. “There’s so much work to be done in a health department and our people just do it really, really well, so we’re held up as an example in rural public health,” Harrison said.

Growing up in Cullowhee in the western part of the state and working in a largely rural area has shaped her career – and her passion – for rural North Carolina. Harrison became a leader and champion for rural communities throughout the state and nation and focusing on the importance of public health in all communities.

During her 12 years at GVPH director, Harrison has created, led and supported a multitude of public health service enhancements and expansions. The health department’s budget has increased by 129 percent under her leadership, a testament to her advocacy efforts with local and state elected officials as well as her gift of successful grant writing.

Since 2015, GVPH has secured more than $6 million in grant funding to combat mental health and substance use disorder challenges in the two counties it serves. GVPH was the first health department in North Carolina to offer Medication Assisted Treatment, building on the success of the primary care services model to provide regular visits with a healthcare provider and linking individuals to behavioral healthcare and support resources. As a result, the National Association of Counties selected GVPH for a Peer Exchange site visit in April 2023, bringing leaders from across the U.S. to the rural communities in Vance and Granville counties.

Since 2016, GVPH has offered comprehensive primary care services to ensure whole-person care, including preventive services for obesity, diabetes, hypertension and medical nutrition therapy.

In addition, GVPH has also implemented, supported, or led partnerships aimed at reducing the number of people with mental illness in jails along with 30 agencies representing law enforcement, jail administration, public health agencies, EMS, social work agencies, behavioral  health agencies, and community through the Stepping Up program. Harrison brought together organizations and community members to help kids stay healthy through the Working on Wellness Coalition, which implements and evaluates the impact of evidence-based interventions focused on nutrition, physical activity and prevention of chronic disease to improve child health and well-being in Granville and Vance counties.

Harrison also makes sure that the health department provides “safety net” care for its clients. Since 2016, GVPH has offered comprehensive primary care services to ensure whole-person care, including preventive services for obesity, diabetes, hypertension and medical nutrition therapy.

But her influence extends beyond county lines as she has proven herself to be an unwavering champion for local public health in North Carolina and across the nation. Harrison has often represented local health departments in media campaigns, on commissions and to statewide leaders. She served as a Task Force Chair for the N.C. Institute of Medicine’s Future of Local Public Health Task Force and was inducted as a member of the N.C. Institute of Medicine.

In October 2021, as the COVID pandemic continued to affect so many people’s lives and livelihoods, Harrison, as president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, presented testimony to the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce highlighting the national public health workforce crisis and explaining that no other healthcare providers have the breadth of responsibility for communicable disease control as public health workers.

As a result of being a part of this national discussion, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra spent a day visiting Granville and Vance counties in November 2023 and participated in a GVPH-led roundtable discussion highlighting efforts to expand healthcare access and lower healthcare costs in rural areas.

GVPH Medical Director Dr. Shauna Guthrie, called Harrison a champion and strong voice for local public health in the state and nationally.

“Whether in her community, across the 100 counties of North Carolina, or the almost 3,500 local health departments across the nation, Lisa is a public health warrior,” Guthrie said. “She is an innovative leader who has highlighted Granville and Vance counties for community efforts to improve their health, and who finds partnerships across various healthcare groups to further the practice of public health.”

By partnering with agencies and organizations throughout the counties it serves, GVPH can effect positive change. Whether it’s with schools, hospitals or the juvenile justice system, these partnership touch people’s lives. “That’s what success means to me in public health,” Harrison said.



Crawford Knott Named 2023 John Penn Citizen Of The Year At Granville Chamber Banquet


The Granville County Chamber of Commerce named Crawford Knott as the 2023 John Penn Citizen of the Year at its 82nd annual membership meeting and banquet on Monday, sponsored by Granville Health System. More than 200 chamber members and guests attended the event, held at The Barn at Vino in Stem.

Knott was presented the award by Xavier Wortham, a former award recipient, who shared Knott’s outstanding dedication to his community in various capacities over the years.

The Chamber’s Education Committee shone a spotlight on outstanding students from the current academic year. Jade Gingue, chair of the Education Committee and president-elect recognized Cassie Peele, AJ Heggie, and Madison Lavrack, all students who are recipients of the Student Spotlight award.  These students who are employed by Chamber members, along with other spotlight nominees, are now eligible to apply for scholarships offered by the Chamber, fostering the next generation of community leaders.

Additionally, Winston International was honored as the 2023 Small Business of the Year. The 2022 recipient Trey Snide, offered remarks about the family-owned business and its commitment to excellence and support to the community. Winston President Rob Winston accepted the award alongside his family and several members of the Winston team.



Granville Names New Economic Development Director

-information courtesy of Granville County Public Information Officer Terry Hobgood

A seasoned professional in the area of economic development has been selected to be Granville County’s new economic development director.

Joseph Stallings is scheduled to begin his new job on Mar. 18, bringing with him 13 years’ experience in economic development in Garner, Benson and most recently as director of economic development for the North Carolina Railroad Company in Raleigh.

“I am excited and honored to have been selected as Granville County’s next Economic Development Director,” said Stallings. “Granville is an exciting place to continue my career and take the many lessons I have learned about smart and sustainable economic development on the local and statewide level. It’s an exciting opportunity to come to Granville in this moment and build off the work that has been happening here for so long.”

In nearly two years with the N.C. Railroad, Stallings facilitated statewide and local economic development efforts in partnership with the N.C. Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina as well as municipal and county governments to recruit and expand existing industries in North Carolina, according to a press statement from Granville County Public Information Officer Terry Hobgood.

Stallings oversaw the planning and implementation for the N.C. Railroad’s Build Ready Sites program, ensuring that locations along existing railroad infrastructure were ready to welcome new or expanding industries by reducing red tape and development delays with local regulatory and permitting agencies. Stallings worked with partners across North Carolina to ensure that all areas with existing rail infrastructure were prepared to handle industry expansion.

From 2015-2022, Stallings was economic development director for the town of Garner, managing all major recruitment and expansion efforts as well as its downtown development efforts and small business development program. He also oversaw the operations of the non-profit Garner Economic Development Corporation to ensure a like-minded approach with the non-profit board, the Town of Garner, and Wake County.

Stallings developed Garner’s first economic development strategic plan and worked with local property owners to market developable land that could attract desirable employers to Garner resulting in the recruitment of the largest industrial investment in Garner’s history.

He got his start in local government in Benson and was its economic development and media coordinator from 2011-2015. While in Benson, he negotiated recruitment and retention incentive packages, led Benson’s media efforts, and implemented Benson’s Main Street North Carolina program. Stallings also ran local business development incentives programs, including the town’s façade improvement grants and revolving loan funds for local business start-ups.

“My time in rural and suburban but growing towns like Garner and Benson has prepared me for this role,” Stalling said. “I plan to work with local and regional partners to ensure that Granville County is positioned to compete as a preferred destination for top employers now and for decades to come.”

Stallings is a graduate of the Master of Public Administration program at Appalachian State University, where he also received a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in Town, City, and County Management with a minor in Regional Planning.  During his professional career, Stallings has continued to pursue professional development educational opportunities and has graduated from the Municipal and County Administration and Local Government Federal Credit Union Fellows program at the UNC School of Government. Stallings is also a graduate of the Rural Economic Development Institute at the North Carolina Rural Center in Raleigh and received certification from Oklahoma University Economic Development Institute.

TownTalk: 2nd Community Resource Festival A Success

If the sights and sounds emanating from the Vance-Granville Community College Civic Center are any indication, the second annual Community Resource Festival has delivered in its goal of connecting people with local organizations and agencies.

WIZS’s Steve Lewis spoke with a number of individuals as the festival got underway earlier Wednesday. The festival ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and provided for lots of networking and sharing of information to inform those in attendance about agencies and other organizations and the services they offer.

Michele Walker, sales and account manager with Huff Consulting has spearheaded the event, which came about because she saw a need in the community to help connect people and available resources.

More than 75 vendors signed up to participate in this year’s event, an increase from last year’s 68 vendors. Organizers anticipated several hundred individuals to come and learn more about available resources in the area.

From community partners like Granville Vance Public Health to businesses like Sunrock and others, the festival brings together under one roof a variety of area organization who want to share information, provide support or advertise job openings.

VGCC Dean of Business, Applied Tech and Public Service, Stephanie Tolbert joined forces with Huff to plan the day’s events this year. In an earlier interview on TownTalk, Tolbert said everyone who stops in during the day will leave with a ball full of freebies, “but more importantly, knowledge about resources that they didn’t know existed in their backyards.”

Did you know, for example, that Granville Vance Public Health offers a program called Sleep Safe for families and parents of newborns? Health department representatives Tammy Davis and Elizabeth Leggings shared information at the resource fair about the program to show parents how to position their babies when they are sleeping to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and asphyxiation.

When their newborn is three months old, parents can take another class that talks about the importance of “tummy time.” Participants who complete the class get a tummy time mat.

Visit www.gvph.org to learn about all the programs and services the health department provides.

If you visited the HUBzone Technology Initiative booth, you likely chatted with Bryant Davis or Ron Taylor to learn that the Henderson-based nonprofit is now giving refurbished laptops to individuals who qualify and not just to organizations.

That’s huge, but that’s what HUBzone does – it takes donated laptops and turns them into Chromebooks to give away to those who need them.

Got a laptop sitting around that you don’t use? Consider donating to HUBzone Technology Initiative- the more they give away, the more they’ll need to refurbish.

But the guys at the HUBzone table also want to encourage youth under 18 to send in a video for a chance to participate in the 3rd annual “Triangle’s Got Talent” contest, set for Sunday, April 21 at Wakefield High School in Wake County.

A $300 cash prize will be given to the best novice act and to the best advanced act. All you singers, musicians, magicians, polish your routine and send in a video of the performance and you just might get a call to compete.

Visit www.hubzonetech.org to apply online.

Chances are you’ve seen a Sunrock truck at a construction site or hauling materials as you’ve traveled in the community, but did you know that Carolina Sunrock is a family-owned business that’s been around for 75 years?

Laura Green, HR recruiter for the Raleigh-based company, said Sunrock is a “one-stop shop construction company” because it provides its own products like asphalt, gravel and more for construction projects. Its gravel operation is in Kittrell and the asphalt operation is in Butner.

Visit www.thesunrockgroup.com/careers to find out about job openings.



Maria Parham Offers Program To Raise Awareness of Colorectal Cancer

Maria Parham Health will host a Lunch and Learn program on Thursday, Mar. 21 to talk about colorectal cancer early detection and prevention. Seats are still available for this event; register online at MariaParham.com or by calling 252.436.1605. The program will be from 12 noon to 1 p.m. and will be held in the classroom of the hospital, located at 566 Ruin Creek Rd.

According to information from the American College of Radiology, colorectal cancer is now the leading cancer killer in men under 50 and the second leading cause of cancer death for women under 50.

African Americans are also the most likely to die from this terrible disease.

But colorectal cancer is nearly always treatable if caught early and can even be prevented through timely screening. It is recommended that you should talk to your doctor about colorectal screening beginning at age 45.

“We are committed to raising awareness about colorectal cancer and providing our community with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health,” said Kimberly Smith, Director of the Maria Parham Cancer Center.

“Through events like this, we hope to highlight the importance of early detection and screening in preventing colorectal cancer, ultimately saving lives,”Smith said.

Federal law requires private insurers to cover not only colonoscopy – but also virtual colonoscopy and other less-invasive screening options at no cost to patients.

A virtual colonoscopy is an American Cancer Society-recommended screening exam to be done every five years for those at average risk. The virtual exam may also be an option for those at increased risk who can’t physically tolerate a colonoscopy. The more people are aware of virtual colonoscopy as an option, the more people choose to be screened, and the more lives will be saved.

The Lunch and Learn Event will feature board-certified gastroenterologist Varnita Tahiliani, MD, who will discuss various aspects of colorectal cancer, including risk factors, symptoms, screening options, treatment modalities, and lifestyle modifications for prevention. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage with healthcare professionals in an interactive setting.

Lunch will be provided. Due to space restrictions, registrations will be limited to the first 30 attendees that register.

For more information about the Colorectal Cancer Awareness Lunch and Learn Event, please visit www.MariaParham.com.