Head Start Under Fire

by George Rush and WIZS News Staff


The Head Start Board has held two special meetings,  the most recent being on September 10.  The two meetings have been described as “Mass Chaos,” with those in attendance challenging the Board and Staff with comments such as: don’t you dare look at me or I will get up in your face.  Those in attendance have openly stated that they felt threatened by a vocal and hostile environment exhibited at the two special meetings.

The next chapter in the saga of the FVW Opportunity took place at Thursday’s meeting where the board voted to remove Sara Coffey as the Board Chair.  Ms. Coffey was not at the meeting because she was in the hospital.  Now the only remaining question is, how long will the CEO of Head Start remain now that the Head Start Board Chair is no longer?

The Franklin-Vance-Warren Board of Directors and Administration are under attack by local activists who have alleged many areas of misconduct by the Board and Administration, including the following:

  • Deplorable Conditions at Head Start Facilities
  • Bullying by the Administration of Certain Employees
  • Spoiled food, Rat droppings in FVW Facilities
  • Wrongful Termination of Employees
  • Mismanagement of Federal Funding

Current and former employees picketed local facilities for about three weeks carrying signs saying CEO Must Go, this as a part of the public display that organizers believe will result in major changes at FVW, such as getting rid of the CEO.  There are also questions about who is the attorney for the organization, and whether the Board approved the appointment of a new attorney in late April.

The local activists also claim that they were not able to get a meeting with the Board on two different occasions and have filed complaints with the EEOC, State Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Board has agreed to hire an outside investigator who will look into all the allegations that have been voiced by the protesters.  The Board also agreed to contact the State Auditors and discuss the protesters’ concerns about how agency funds were spent. At a recent meeting, a motion was made to suspend the CEO, Sara Rudolph, with pay until the results of the investigation were available.  The motion did not pass by a vote of 11 to 5.

Head Start works to address the needs of at-risk children in the community.  Their charge is to provide additional schooling for children to promote language, literacy, math and science concepts and social and emotional development.  Children receive health screening, nutritional meals and mental health services.  These are very important services for rural, Tier 1 and 2 communities.

Commissioner Wright’s Funeral Arrangements

Funeral arrangements have been finalized for Commissioner Eddie Wright.

The funeral is scheduled for Monday, September 14 at 1:00 p.m. at South Henderson Pentecostal Holiness Church in Henderson.  The family visitation will be at 11:00 a.m. that same morning.

Mr. Wright will be buried Tuesday, September 15 at the Maryland National Memorial Cemetery in Beltsville, MD.

Longtime District 5 Vance County Commissioner Eddie L. Wright passed away during the night Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Wright was first elected in 2000.  His seat was due for election next year, although for many it seemed as if he never ran opposed all these years.   He served on the Granville-Vance Public Health District Board and was a minister of a local church.

The Vance County Board of Commissioners has 60 days to fill Wright’s unexpired term.

Vance County Attorney Jonathan Care provided WIZS News with the North Carolina General Statute.  N.C. G. S. 153a-27 essentially means the newly appointed board member must be of the same political party, a resident of the same district, that the board shall consult the county executive committee of, in this case, the Democratic Party and, if an appointment is not made within 60 days, then the appointment is to be made by the Clerk of Court.  Neither the board nor the clerk is bound by the Democratic Executive Committee’s recommendation.

For now, however, it is not about who will be appointed.

Archie B. Taylor is the Chairman of the Vance County Board of Commissioners.  Wright’s death came as a shock to him as it has to many others.  While Wright has suffered from joint ailments for years, no one in the public seems to have expected his death at this time.

Taylor said, “The county is going to feel his abscence.  He was a man of great faith and spiritual beliefs, an elder of the church, a pastor and preacher, and he was a champion of the little man.  He was definately wanting of a better quality of life for everyone in this county.  He was a great advocate for those who didn’t have a voice.  He is going to be missed.

“His voice of reason and compassion will be missed.  He showed his faith by his work.  (Wright) had a very supportive family during this illness.  They have been extremely supportive of him and that speaks highly of them and their spiritual values.”

Taylor said, “Our prayers are with the family.”


Vance County residents now have more answers in an embezzlement case that dates back to July of 2014.

Christa Harris Reavis pleaded guilty late Wednesday afternoon to one count of embezzlement by a government employee in excess of $100,000, a Class C Felony. As a part of her plea, Harris was ordered to pay $20,000.00 to the Vance County Clerk of Superior Court within the next two weeks.

District Attorney Mike Waters said, “Other terms of the plea are: She will have to cooperate with the Vance County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation which will include her being debriefed on the matter, and she will then have to submit to a polygraph exam.”  Being debriefed and then undergoing a polygraph exam will allow investigators to determine if Reavis knows something else and assist the County of Vance in recovering additional funds.

Sentencing will be November 30th before the Honorable Robert H. Hobgood, who is the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge of the Ninth Judicial District, which includes Vance County.

Waters said, “The delay in sentencing will allow authorities to fully investigate the matter to make sure no one else was involved, possibly recover additional assets and allow Vance County to review internal procedures.”

It is not always the case that a county can fully evaluate itself with the help of someone providing information who previously exploited the county.

Waters said, “She will be sentenced November 30th, and she will get a sentence of 44 to 65 months, provided that she cooperates with law enforcement, including submission to a polygraph exam and providing that she gives $20,000.00 to the clerk within nine days.”  Waters concluded that if she does not cooperate, the sentence could be more.

The plea to a Class C felony is a plea to the highest offense possible.  The forgery and uttering charges were dismissed in this matter and did not include the possibility of jail time anyway.  Reavis will not be charged further.

This all stems from the July 2014 discovery that a vendor check was intercepted and altered out of state, unrelated to the Reavis case. The internal review uncovered irregularities that began the criminal investigation.

The plea arrangement followed a hearing on the Defendant’s Motion to Suppress her statement given to investigators with the Vance County Sheriff’s Office. A previous Motion to Suppress regarding the seizure of bank records had also been denied by Judge Hobgood.  Waters said, “A plea arrangement saves the County of Vance and the State of North Carolina thousands and thousands of dollars by not having to go to trial, especially in a case like this that would take weeks to try.” The trial of the case had already been moved to Franklin County because of the extensive press coverage.

Waters was emphatic that the hard work of investigators with Sheriff Peter White’s Office helped bring the matter to a successful conclusion.

What is now of additional interest to the residents of Vance County is the missing bank bag, and if additional information learned between Wednesday’s plea and the date of Reavis’ sentencing could provide resolution to that matter as well.

Cocaine Trafficking Arrests

Press Release- September 3, 2015

On Tuesday, September 1, 2015, members of the Henderson Police Department Special Operations Unit and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation arrested three individuals on cocaine trafficking charges.  Those arrested and charged are as follows:

Arnold Frank Booth Jr., 52, 125 Bearpond Road Lot 8, Henderson was charged with trafficking cocaine(2cts) and maintaining a vehicle for keeping a controlled substance.  (He) was placed in the Vance County Jail after failing to post a 300,000.00 secured bond.  A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for September 14, 2015.

Rodderick Jesus Booth, 20, 125 Bearpond Road Lot 8, Henderson was charged with trafficking cocaine(2cts) and maintaining a vehicle for keeping a controlled substance.  (He) was placed in the Vance County Jail after failing to post a 300,000.00 secured bond.  A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for September 14, 2015.

Lance L. Bradley, 46, 263 West 152 Street- 2C, New York, New York 125 Bearpond Road Lot 8, Henderson, was charged with trafficking cocaine(2cts) and maintaining a vehicle for keeping a controlled substance.  (He) was placed in the Vance County Jail after failing to post a 300,000.00 secured bond.  A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for September 14, 2015.

Authority: Chief Marcus Barrow

Be Careful with Wi-Fi

It should come as no shock to you that internet, computer and Wi-Fi scams are on the increase.  Your favorite coffee house or the lobby of a hotel/motel or the local public library, where ever you find yourself using the internet in “public,” this may be a train wreck waiting to happen.

Some people (scam artists) are out to get into your computer in order to steal your personal information by setting up their own Internet or Wi-Fi  networks in those locations.  When you log in you get the scam network rather than the trusted network of the library/coffee house/hotel/etc that you intended.

Once you are connected, the scam artist has access to your data and the scam is on.  They can get into your bank, stock account and can see your password data and clean you out, including your bank and stock account, run up big bills on your credit cards and if they want, cancel your insurance.

Make sure that the internet network is legit and that it is protected by the facility, usually with a password.  When in doubt, ASK.

Grades Up in Vance; Graduation Too

Data released Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction for the 2014-2015 school year is encouraging for the Vance County School System.

Eight Vance County Schools increased performance by one letter grade as determined by the state required School Performance grading system. The four-year cohort graduation rate increased by more than four percentage points from the previous school year.

These results also indicate that Vance County Schools’ third-grade students improved their reading proficiency by nine percentage points in 2014-2015 based on the N.C. Read to Achieve standards.

Schools increasing their School Performance Grade from the previous year were Aycock Elementary School, Dabney Elementary School, New Hope Elementary School, Pinkston Street Elementary School, E.M. Rollins Elementary School, E.O. Young Jr. Elementary School, Zeb Vance Elementary School and the Vance County Early College High School. Aycock and Early College were designated as “B” schools. There were five schools designated as “C” schools and they included Clarke, Dabney, Pinkston Street, Zeb Vance and STEM Early High School. Seven schools were “D” schools and included Carver Elementary, New Hope Elementary, E.M. Rollins Elementary, E.O. Young Jr. Elementary, Northern Vance High and Southern Vance High. Eaton-Johnson Middle and Henderson Middle were designated as “F” schools. Western Vance High School, as an alternative school setting, is evaluated on the state’s Alternative Accountability Model.

The district’s graduation rate improved to 77.5 percent from 73.2 percent for the 2013-2014 school year. Vance County Schools’ four-year cohort graduation rate has now increased by 13.4 percent over the last three school years. The 2014-2015 graduation rate at Southern Vance High increased from 78 to 81 percent. The graduation rate at Northern Vance High improved from 72 to 77 percent and the graduation rate at Early College High rose from 84 to 89 percent. Western Vance High School had a 100-percent graduation rate for the second consecutive year.

The N.C. Read to Achieve grade-level proficiency increased in 2014-2015 from the previous year for third-grade students in seven of the district’s 10 elementary schools. The district’s overall proficiency level went from 71 percent to 80 percent for 2014-2015. New Hope Elementary led the way with 96 percent of their third graders reaching proficiency reading levels for 2014-2015, compared to only 47 percent from the previous school year. Other school results included third-grade reading proficiency increasing for: Zeb Vance to 92 percent from 71 percent; Pinkston Street to 84 percent from 68 percent; Clarke to 80 percent from 68 percent; E.M. Rollins to 79 percent from 68 percent; E.O. Young to 71 percent from 67 percent; and L.B. Yancey to 51 percent from 49 percent. Aycock still had 91 percent of their third graders reading at grade level, but this was a decline from 96 percent the previous year. Carver third graders’ reading proficiency also declined from 83 percent in 2013-2014 to 77 percent in 2014-2015. Dabney’s third-grade reading proficiency remained the same at 74 percent.

Vance County Schools’ officials are encouraged by the academic growth demonstrated by students at all grade levels on state end-of-grade tests in reading and math and end-of-course tests in certain subject areas for the 2014-2015 school year. Students at Clarke Elementary exceeded growth expectations for the second consecutive year and nine schools met growth expectations. The nine schools where students met growth expectations were Aycock, Dabney, New Hope, Pinkston Street, L.B. Yancey, Zeb Vance, Eaton-Johnson, Western Vance and Vance County Early College. This is an improvement over the district’s performance where in 2013-2014 there were 11 schools that did not meet growth, compared to seven in 2014-2015. During the 2013-2014 school year, only four local schools met growth. Local schools showing the most growth in each grade span from one year to the next were New Hope, Eaton-Johnson and Early College.

“We continue to move in the right direction in many areas of performance,” said Dr. Trixie Brooks, assistant superintendent. “Our four-year cohort graduation rate continues to increase each year and we celebrate that fact. We desire every child who enrolls in our school system to graduate and we will give students opportunities to catch up if they are behind and opportunities to keep up to master content in current courses.

“As teachers learn and own the curriculum standards and as students meet the challenges of its rigor, we expect to continue to see increases in student performance,” she continued. “We want our students to persevere through challenging text in all subjects, to work out multi-step complex math problems until they understand the process, to track their own progress until they master standards and to set personal goals.

“We have some areas we will address through our Instructional Framework and strategic planning, but we are proud of our progress,” Brooks said.

Preview: Optimist Bowl

by Kevin Bullock

It has been a tale of two seasons for Vance County High School football teams. Northern Vance comes into Friday’s game red hot against Southern, and yet the Raiders will look to turn their season around against the crosstown Vikings.

Northern Vance has already picked up a victory this season over 4A East Chapel Hill, and had an impressive victory last week against Warren County.

Southern suffered a tough loss against Ravenscroft in week one, and J.F. Webb was able to pull away from the Raiders late in the fourth quarter in week two.

Players to watch:

Northern goes the way of Kristopher Haywood. The senior Viking quarterback will need the time to find his friends Joel Royster and Elijah Stewart. When he is pressured he as the running ability to take it down the field, but as a result is prone to major hits along the sideline. Haywood needs to say healthy if Northern wants to move the ball. Todd McKoon is the player to watch along the defensive line. You may think we are crazy, but no, this 5’6 145lb defensive lineman makes a great nose tackle.

Southern goes the way of their wide receivers. Mark Baldwin, Zamari Ellis, Laronta Durham, and others must limit their drops this week as compared to their game against J.F. Webb if they hope to stand a chance against Northern. Senior quarterback Jerry Throckmorton has a cannon attached to the right side of his body, which excuses the occasional overthrow. Raider wide receivers had over seven dropped passes last week, and that cannot happen Friday if the Raiders want the win.

The Optimist Bowl this year is at Southern Vance. Attend if you can, but listen to WIZS inside Raider Stadium on the all new WIZS.com or on the free Tune-In radio app. Kickoff is at 7:30p.m.

We hope to see you there.

Drivers Ed in Vance

While not a direct quote attributable to anyone in particular, it seems that too much is still up in the air on the issue of Drivers Education, especially as it pertains to concrete decisions from State Legislators, and it appears, based on comments anyway, that Vance County officials would like to wait for more solid information before speaking publicly on the matter.

Drivers Education in the North Carolina School System is not dead but has not been fully brought back to life either. North Carolina Legislators are having some second thoughts about dropping the program. The alternative, having parents pay between $500 and $600 or convincing the North Carolina Community College System to take over the program has not gotten much traction.

However, the State Legislators have started talking about taking another look at the program to find a solution, rather than no Drivers Education at all.  Much like the way local education budgets are based on state allocations, Vance County along with other counties, will apparently have no choice but to take the lead of the station on this issue.

Wilson: Vance Teacher of the Year

Robin Wilson, a third-grade teacher at New Hope Elementary School, is the 2015-2016 Vance County Schools’ Teacher of the Year.

Mrs. Wilson has a total of 41 years of teaching experience, with 30 years of teaching in Virginia. She is in her second year as a faculty member at New Hope after teaching for the previous nine years at E.O. Young Jr. Elementary School.

Mrs. Wilson was selected for the district’s teaching honor by a special selection committee, which interviewed Teachers of the Year from all 17 local public schools on August 27. She was chosen as the top teacher based on her enthusiasm and passion for teaching and because of the positive impact she has on the education for students in her class and overall in her school. Mrs. Wilson also serves as a mentor for several of her colleagues at New Hope and tutors students after school.

Robin Wilson (VCS teach of year)Superintendent Anthony Jackson is shown in the attached photo presenting Mrs. Wilson with balloons September 1, 2015 and sharing the announcement about her VCS Teacher of the Year award with her third-grade students.

Mrs. Wilson wrote the following about her philosophy for education.

“Sell, Sell, Sell!!!!!  I want every child and every support personnel for that child to buy into my product – my product being that of EDUCATION.  Education is power!!!!  Education is the  key to success!!!

“For my students to feel their own worth in this 21st century, I will teach them to the best of my ability exhausting all resources, strategies, learning styles, and methods available, diversifying where necessary for the child’s personal and measured success.

“I want to touch the student’s life in such a way that each child will grow beyond expectations. We, the student, the support personnel, and I, do not settle for less.  The loving guidance we administer will produce independent individuals who will become creditable members of our society.

“Educating a child is not just a job.  It is a way of life!  They all have potential, they all can learn, and they all can achieve greatness!!!”

Mrs. Wilson was chosen from an outstanding field of educators, who also were selected as their school’s Teacher of the Year. They include:

  • Stephanie Black of Aycock Elementary School
  • Sheila Brockers-White of Western Vance High School
  • Randolph Crews of Northern Vance High School
  • Gladys Evans of Southern Vance High School
  • Casey Hall of Early College High School
  • Amanda Hightower of Clarke Elementary School
  • Stephen Jones of STEM Early High School
  • Jessica London of Eaton-Johnson Middle School
  • Regina Miles of Carver Elementary School
  • Tracy Mills of Henderson Middle School
  • Renee Overby of Pinkston Street Elementary School
  • Janice Roswess-Chambers of L.B. Yancey Elementary School
  • Robin Sanders of E.O. Young Jr. Elementary School
  • Joshua Tilghman of Dabney Elementary School
  • Mary Landis of Zeb Vance Elementary School
  • Kathryn Wilson of E.M. Rollins Elementary School

Mrs. Wilson will be honored, along with all of the school Teachers of the Year, at the Vance County Schools’ Recognition Banquet on November 19. Congratulations to all of our schools’ Teachers of the Year!

The district’s Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year also will be honored at the November banquet. All nominees for these prestigious awards also will be recognized during the event.

2015 Ducky Derby Results

Smart Start had a good Ducky Derby turnout with about 1,000 people attending the event this past Saturday, August 29. The event started at 10:00 A.M. and concluded after the big Duck Race at 2:00 PM.

Smart Start was a big winner raising about $5,500 for the Smart Start Program.

Other big winners were: 1st place in the Duck Race winning $1000.00, Jackie Cozart of Granville County, with 2nd place of $500.00 going to Terry Southhard of Franklin County, and the 3rd place winner in the Ducky race was Linda Tasadfox who won $250.00.  The winner of the last place Duck to cross the finish line and win $100 was Children’s Arts of Youngsville.