TownTalk: Around Old Granville: Area Architects, Part 2

Historical architecture enthusiasts may be able to take a look at a structure and determine quickly who designed or built it. Take Jacob Holt, for example. The homes he built in and around Warren County in the 1840’s echoed Holt’s interest in Greek Revival and Italianate architecture.

Back then, it was common for one person to design, construct and finish interiors of homes, with help from area craftsmen and artisans, said local historian Mark Pace. Pace and WIZS co-host Bill Harris continued a discussion Wednesday about area architects from the pre-Civil War era to the 20th century.

Albert Gamaliel Jones, a contemporary of Holt, was known as a house carpenter, and, like Holt, drew from the classic Greek Revival and Italianate to create the buildings’ style.

He built homes like the Fuller Home in Louisburg, Ivy Hill near Hollister and Lake O’ The Woods in Warren County.

But, Pace said, he was also noted for numerous public buildings, including the 8-columned main building at Chowan College, the main building at Louisburg College and Wesleyan Female College.

“Sometimes it’s a little tricky to see where Holt stops and Jones starts,” Pace noted. Their styles are similar enough that one could be mistaken for the other.

Fast forward to the 20th century and Pace said a Virginia man – trained as a draftsman – became a registered engineer and set up a business in Henderson. The man was Eric G. Flannagan and his business – Eric G. Flannagan and Sons remained in operation until 2001, Pace said.

You don’t have to go far in Henderson to find a Flannagan building.

Pace has referred to the elder Flannagan as “the Jacob Holt of the 20th century.”

Flannagan’s style was a beaux arts style, sort of a post- Art Deco, Pace explained. Take Henderson High School.

What makes it beaux arts are the focus on symmetry and the details – gargoyles on the façade and embossed books under each window – that create that unique style that Pace said is a Flannagan hallmark.

Other area structures include the Methodist Church in downtown Henderson, the original Henderson fire station and the former municipal building beside it, the Orange Street School in Oxford and the main entrance to the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford.

Between Flannagan and his sons Eric Jr. and Stephen, the business has more than 600 homes and other structures to their credit.

When the business closed in 2001, the treasure trove of plans and blueprints were donated to N.C. State University and East Carolina University. And the North Carolina Room at the Richard Thornton Library in Oxford is the recipient of half a dozen boxes from the firm’s archives.


Primary Election Coverage in Vance County; Commissioner Taylor Unseated

Valencia Perry unseated incumbent Archie Taylor in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election for the District 2 seat on the Vance County Board of Commissioners.

It was a fairly close contest through the evening as the county’s 12 precincts reported, and WIZS News was able to call the race for Perry by 9 p.m. Perry had 251 votes to Taylor’s 213. Perry got more votes than Taylor in each of the precincts in District 2, according to tallies Tuesday night by the Vance County Board of Elections.

The other local race determined on Super Tuesday was the District 5 Board of Education race. Incumbent Linda Cobb successfully defended her seat by defeating challenger William Earl Purvis 308 to 138 – that’s 69 percent for Cobb and 31 percent for Purvis.

WIZS News contacted Perry by phone Tuesday evening after the results were in. “I thank everyone who voted for me,” Perry said. “I’m so grateful… I will be proud and humble to serve the people of Vance County.”

On the campaign trail, Perry said she heard concerns about schools, mental health and the county jail – issues that she also had emphasized as priorities.

“The people came out and voted for me,” she said. “They listened to me and they gave me a chance.”

Taylor congratulated Perry on her win and said he would support her any way he could.

“I wish her all the best going forward,” he said in a phone interview with WIZS News Tuesday.

First elected in 2012, Taylor said he would continue to serve on the boards he’s on to the utmost of his abilities.

Between now and December, when Perry will be sworn in as District 2 Commissioner, Taylor said he would continue to work with his fellow commissioners on issues including the budget, on the revaluation process and “this revenue neutral business with the taxes.”

After the polls closed at 7:30 p.m., results rolled in smoothly to the local board of elections office through the evening.

A total of 5,656 votes were cast in Vance County – 3,338 Democrat ballots and 2,305 Republican ballots were tallied. There are 28,296 registered voters in the county, so 5,656 represents roughly 20 percent that came out to vote in this primary election.

This overall voter turnout is lower than the previous two March primaries – turnout in March 2020 was 24.6 percent. In March 2016, almost 32 percent of voters cast votes.

— UPDATED 10:38 p.m. March 5, 2024

By Laura Gabel. John C. Rose contributed.



TownTalk: County Commissioner Candidate Archie Taylor

Vance County Commissioner Archie B. Taylor, Jr. is seeking re-election to his District 2 seat and said he’s interested in helping the county continue to attract economic development, work on public transportation, reduce crime, support education and get a new jail built.

An interview with Taylor aired on Monday’s TownTalk segment as part of WIZS’s ongoing coverage of local contests in the Mar. 5 primary elections. Taylor faces challenger Valencia Perry. Early voting continues through Saturday, Mar. 2.

Taylor, a highly decorated and retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, has been a commissioner for more than a decade and said that he wants to continue to help attract businesses to the county that will provide jobs for high school graduates as well as for college graduates so people who grow up here don’t “run off to Raleigh or Charlotte” for higher paying jobs.

It’s economic development that will bring jobs to the community, he said.

“I’m interested in helping the sheriff build a new jail,” Taylor said, adding that commissioners are looking for “north of $30 million” to make that a reality.

Public transportation is an issue that Taylor also supports. As a member of the KARTS board, he said he hopes to continue to increase public transportation throughout the county.

He, along with others, are awaiting the release of the county fire study. “I certainly am interested in seeing what the fire study will say about our fire station,” he said. “We are blessed in this county to have something that many in this state envy – we have a county-owned, fully paid fire department,” he said. “It’s extremely important for us to maintain a fully paid station that is reporting to the county and is on the county payroll. I think our study is going to support that.”

He applauded the efforts of McGregor Hall and its contributions of not only culture, but revenue to the city and county. He said he would like to see the city and county return the favor by providing some form of financial support to the entertainment venue.

The current project to create a men’s shelter in the former City Road Methodist Church building is something that Taylor is watching with interest, too. He thanked N.C. Sen. Lisa Barnes and N.C. Rep. Frank Sossamon for their help in getting $150,000 toward the transformation.


TownTalk: County Commissioner Candidate Valencia Perry

Valencia Perry grew up in Vance County and said she is running for county commissioner so she can be a part of a “powerful team” that uses money wisely to help people.

“Spending money takes research and takes knowledge,” Perry said during a recorded interview on Monday’s TownTalk. “I want to be a part of that team.”

Perry is challenging incumbent Archie Taylor, Jr. for the District 2 seat on the Vance County Board of Commissioners.

She’s gained perspective over the years and said she will be an asset as a commissioner. “I will be a fresh set of eyes,” she said, to help make “long-needed change in Vance County.”

Perry has a background in accounting and she also is an ordained minister. She is a mother and a grandmother who said her personal and professional experiences have shaped her ideas and sharpened her focus.

She said her focus is on education, funding for schools, pursuing services for those with mental health issues and the county jail situation. “My goodness, that’s a sticking point,” she said, adding that it’s important to have a detention center that keeps inmates – and staff – safe.

For Perry, education is the key issue. Without a proper education, she said, people have a tendency to get off track, or make bad decisions that fuel the crime rate, those in detention and in mental health crisis.

Her three-word mantra is “resilience, transparency and reliability” and she said she would work hard for the people of Vance County.

Her work on the Vance County Housing Authority Board helped her realize just how critical financial responsibility is. “I had a chance to help people move forward and not stay stuck,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of great things and I feel good about it,” she said of her work with the housing authority.

Another need she sees in the county is a diversion center for those in crisis because of mental health or substance abuse issues. “It is so important,” Perry said, that people have “somewhere they can be safely cared for by professionals who know what to do.”



TownTalk: Linda Cobb, Board of Education Candidate

Vance County Board of Education member Linda Cobb, seeking re-election to the District 5 seat, said the school district faces challenges common in many districts, and applauds leaders for their innovative efforts to provide a quality education experience for students and teachers.

Cobb was first appointed in 2019 to fill an unexpired term on the board of education, then was elected in 2020.

The county’s schools aren’t immune to challenges like bus drivers and attracting and retaining certified teachers, but Cobb said she celebrates successes like the creation of the SPARK lab to help students discover future career paths through hands-on experiences.

Her vision for the school system is “to lead and guide our students to success once they finish high school,” she said.

A couple of priorities she has on her radar include building community relationships and making sure students are “catching up” from COVID. “We can’t blame everything on COVID, but we need to make sure we have enough tutors in schools and teachers to teach the kids…what they need to know to progress to the next level,” she said.

Having been an instructor at Vance-Granville Community College for 20 years, she said she’s worked with students who are products of Vance County Schools. In close to 30 years in her role with the Department of Social Services, she’s worked with a variety of people, including children.

She continues that work in her role as a school board member, which includes strategizing “very carefully how we spend the money.”

“Our needs are growing,” she said, “but the amount of money coming to the district is not growing with the need.”

Money that comes from federal and state streams is usually already designated for particular budget items, and Cobb said she believes the district is managing those funds very well. “We just had a clean audit report,” she added.

Some of the stimulus money from the federal government was used for bonuses to employees and to other sustainable things, she said – not on one-off funding for seed money.”

“We always have to put the students first…(making sure) that they’re getting the very best education they can.”

Early voting is underway for the Mar. 5 primary elections.




TownTalk: William Purvis, Board Of Education Candidate

William Earl Purvis said he is promoting a “vision for transformation” in his bid for a seat on the Vance County Board of Education. Purvis faces incumbent and fellow Democrat Linda Cobb for the District 5 seat.

Henderson voters may remember his name from his unsuccessful bid for City Council in 2022; Purvis said his experience as an educator in a neighboring county, his background as a pastor and his training as a licensed clinician all serve to make him the right person for the job.

“I’ve talked to many parents, students and teachers,” he told WIZS News on a segment of TownTalk that aired Wednesday. “They want a voice,” and he said he would work to collaborate with the community to shape the board’s decisions.

Purvis said he’d like to have quarterly “town hall type” meetings to share with the community what’s going on in the school system.

The school system does a good job collaborating with the community now, he said. “It’s my job (to) take that even further and enhance it with all our students.”

He said his work as a clinician, pastor and educator all serve to make him an advocate for children and for school system employees.

“We’re all in this together to build a successful school system,” he said, adding that he would work to improve low-performing schools and would support all staff – teachers, administrators, custodians – to effect change.

He said he would work to promote school safety, mental health services, programs for parents and appropriate and fair building codes if he’s elected to the school board.

He’d also like to find ways to recognize students for successes that aren’t limited to academics or athletics.

“We need to recognize our kids with disabilities,” he said. “I have a spirit to advocate for the children.”

His platform is not focused on one district; rather, he is interested in what’s going on in all schools.

“I plan to lift up the school system,” he said. “If I’m elected, you will not be disappointed.”




Melissa Elliott Makes History As First Female, First Black Mayor

Henderson voters have elected Melissa Elliott as their next mayor, making her the first female and the first Black to lead the city.

Elliott, a member of the Henderson City Council, defeated political newcomer Greg Etheridge in Tuesday’s runoff election by 344 votes.

WIZS News called the race just before 8:30 p.m., an hour after the polls closed. Elliott garnered 1,527 votes, compared to Etheridge’s 1,183 votes from the city’s nine precincts.

Elliott joined WIZS News in the studio shortly after 9:15 p.m. to discuss the historic win.

“I’m elated…overwhelmed with joy,” Elliott said, of the election outcome.

She thanked her opponent for what she called a “high-spirited campaign,” and she thanked those who voted for her.

“I am a servant leader,” Elliott said, and she plans to serve the community at-large and all people.

“Everyone was so wonderful…so much encouragement,” she said. There were “so many people that wouldn’t allow me to quit. I’m thankful for this historic moment in time,” but she said she also looks to the future for the city.

When reached by phone after all precincts had reported, Etheridge said he was disappointed with the outcome.

“The voters have spoken,” he told WIZS News in a telephone interview.

He said he and his supporters handled themselves respectably during the campaign, but added that he hasn’t “seen a sense of urgency to have any plan whatsoever on how to make things safer (or) more affordable for anybody” in the city.

His vision for the city is still alive, he said. “How we accomplish it is just going to be a little different.”

Early Voting Underway In Nov. 7 Henderson Mayor Runoff

Despite an on-again, off-again start, early voting for the Nov. 7 mayoral runoff election began today (Thursday) and will continue through Saturday, Nov. 4.

City residents may come to the Andrea L. Harris Operations Center, 900 S. Beckford Dr., to cast their vote weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. The lone Saturday early voting day scheduled is from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to information from Vance County Board of Elections Director Jennifer Cocklin and Board Chair James Baines.

Registered voters who live within city limits may vote in the nonpartisan municipal election; elections officials remind voters that state law requires voters to show an acceptable form of photo ID to cast their ballots. The only two candidates on the ballot in the Nov. 7 runoff election are Melissa Elliott and Greg Etheridge.

Absentee ballots will be mailed to voters who have requested them beginning today, Oct. 19. A voter can fill out an absentee ballot request at or by completing a request form provided by the county board of elections office. The request must be received through the website or by the Vance County Board of Elections by 5 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2023.

The voter registration deadline for this election was last Friday, Oct. 13, but eligible individuals who were not registered by that deadline may register and vote at the early voting site during the early voting period. New registrants will be required to provide proof of residence.

To learn more, call the Vance County Board of Elections Office at 252.492.3730 or email

WIZS Radio 5pm News Segment 1 From 10-18-23 Henderson Municipal Election Canvass

Mayoral Runoff Election Early Voting Starts 10-19-23

Geocoding issue resolved

Click Play


Elections Board Calls Recess In Canvass Process, Putting On Hold Certifying Oct. 10 Election Results


Mayoral Runoff Election Early Voting Starts 10-19-23

Geocoding issue resolved

WIZS Radio 5pm News Segment 1 From 10-18-23 Henderson Municipal Election Canvass

Click Here to Play –



The Vance County Board of Elections has called for a “recess” in the post-election canvass process – that 10-day window following an election that officials have to verify and certify results.

This action comes one week after the Oct. 10 nonpartisan municipal elections in Henderson that included contests for four City Council seats and a four-candidate field for mayor.

A runoff had been set for the mayoral contest, but those plans also were put on hold earlier today, per the N.C. State Board of Elections. The recess means that none of the contests have been certified.

In a meeting held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Vance Board of Elections Chair James Baines issued the following statement:

“The Vance County Board of Elections is recessing Canvass completion for the Municipal Election that occurred on 10-October-23 because the State Board of Elections has not yet completed the investigation regarding the geocoding issue. Canvass will reconvene once the State Board of Elections notifies the County Board of the completion of the investigation and resolution to the issue.”

As elections board members explained, the process of certifying election results considers all contests as one process; results must “be submitted to the state at once,”  board member Cathy Clodfelter said Tuesday. So because all of the results have not been certified, none of the contests has been certified.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Vance County Board of Elections Director Jennifer Cocklin informed WIZS News that early voting – set to begin in two days’ time – would not begin as previously announced.

Cocklin read the brief statement to WIZS News from the state board of elections:

“The results of the 10-October-2023 Vance County municipal election have not been officially declared by law, therefore the run-off election cannot be called for at this time.”

A glitch in geocoding is at the heart of the issue, and elections officials acknowledged the state board of the possible problem. As part of election coverage to announce the unofficial results on Oct. 10, WIZS included a statement from Baines that was issued after the polls had closed:

“The Vance County Board of Elections is aware of a geocoding issue that may have caused some voters in the city of Henderson elections to receive a ballot in Tuesday’s election that did not have the correct alderman ward contest. The County Board immediately notified the State Board of Elections, which is working with the county to determine how many voters’ ballots were affected. Election night results are always unofficial, and the post-election canvass process will ensure that the votes are counted correctly for each contest. Election officials will provide additional information about this situation as it becomes available.”

Cocklin provided few details about next steps, but she said she has provided information to the state board as it is requested.
“They’re asking us and we’re providing information as quickly as we can,” she said. “The only thing I know is they are working on it,” she said, “meeting every day – at least once every day.”

Just in case you need a refresher course in civics, here’s some information from the state board of elections website:

“Results on election night are unofficial. Canvass is the official process of determining if the votes have been counted and tabulated correctly, resulting in the authentication of the official election results.

For close elections, the canvass period is especially important. During this time, elections officials count absentee ballots that came in before the deadline and research provisional ballots to determine whether they should be counted.

In every county, the canvass meeting when the results are certified is 10 days after Election Day. Because elections thrive on transparency, the canvass meeting is open to the public.”