Pete O’Geary Local Boy Scouts Citizen of the Year

(Cover photo of Grace and Pete O’Geary)

Thursday night in Henderson, James D. “Pete” O’Geary was presented the Lone Scout Award by the Boy Scouts of America, the Occoneechee Council.  O’Geary is the recipient of the Citizen of the Year award for 2016.

This recognition was given at the 2016 George Rose Watkins, Sr. Citizen of the Year Award Dinner, May 5, 2016 at the Henderson Country Club.

R.G. “Chick” Young was presented the award in 2015, and the award was established in 2014 and named for and given to Watkins.

The award was given to O’Geary for his dedication and service to the community, because he is a businessman and former owner of Petal Shoppe Florist and Gift Shoppe, because he served on the Henderson City Council for six terms and because he was the Mayor of Henderson for eight consecutive years.

O’Geary was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine recently as well, and he served on various city boards and committees as well as being Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Finance Committee for the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Government.  At the present time, O’Geary serves on the Salvation Army Board of Directors and on the Henderson Planning Board.

At the award dinner, guests were welcomed by Cliff Rogers, immediate past president of the Occoneechee Council.  The flag was presented by Boy Scout Troop 605 from First Presbyterian Church of Henderson.  The invocation was given by Pastor Ralph E. McGowen from West End Baptist Church where O’Geary has been a member for 56 years.

Rogers gave a brief outline of scouting in the council, which covers Vance, Warren, Granville and Franklin counties and the communities of Wendell, Zebulon and Rolesville while serving 559 youth.

McGowen presented a testimonial and spoke of O’Geary’s dedication and many years of service to the church, and he also spoke of O’Geary’s character, integrity and faithfulness in representing this community.

Former City Manager Ray Griffin spoke of O’Geary’s selfless leadership and service to this community, his partnership with the City Council and his great desire to create harmony in the community.

Dr. Steve O’Geary spoke on behalf of his father for his dedication to family, church and community, for the way he loved and connected his family, for the standards set by his father as examples for all to live by and for standing up for what he believes in.

Pete O’Geary thanked the scouts for their support in the community and for their role in shaping lives.  He thanked the scouts and community for supporting him.

John Akerman, scout executive of the Occoneechee Council, ended the dinner with the scoutmaster benediction.

(The award dinner was attended and written up by Susan Rose for WIZS News.)

Shop Local: Farmers Market

How often do you buy or even think about buying local? Whether it be from the Farmers Market, a local independently owned restaurant or business, a local artist, or directly from a local farmer, there are many great benefits to buying local goods and services.

Our first focus in this three part series features the Vance County Regional Farmers Market which opened in 2014. Through a series of grants from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund, the N.C. Department of Agriculture Farmland Preservation Fund, and the Vance County Farm Bureau, Henderson was able to build the first indoor heated market. Pete Burgess, who was instrumental in the formation of the Vance County Farmers Market said, “The idea for an indoor Farmers Market started in 2004. At the time farmers needed a source of income other than tobacco. Because it was a Tier 1 county, meaning it was a poor county, The Gold Leaf Foundation did a survey on what Vance County needed money for most. The foundation voted schools first, the rural fire department second, and an indoor Farmers Market third.  The Farm Bureau partnered with the Vance County Extension Service to see what we could do”.

The county gave roughly $50,000 towards the market and the rest was raised through grants and donations. When asked why the market wasn’t in a more centrally located space closer to downtown Burgess said, “At the time, it was the only land we could afford.” The Vance County Regional Farmers Market is located at 210 Southpark Dr. Henderson. It is just off of South Beckford Drive near the Social Security Office. It is a first class facility with water, rest rooms, electricity, a classroom, on-site parking, and covered sales space.

While shopping at the Farmers Market this past Saturday, April 23, Damon Brown was asked why he shopped there. He said, “I totally believe in supporting farmers, especially local farmers. It’s healthier produce because it’s fresher”. Damon’s mother Elva Small said, “I’ve always shopped at the Farmers Market. I take enough pills for health reasons so I want to make sure I can getVance Co. Regional Farmers Market (front) 042816 the healthiest food possible, and you meet such wonderful people here. My grandparents were farmers, so it also brings back such wonderful memories.”

WIZS News spoke with market manager Tracy Madigan during Saturday’s hustle and bustle. She oversees the vendors and answers questions the public might have while shopping at the market. When asked what is the value of buying locally and supporting farmers and artists at the market she replied, “For starters the taste of locally grown food is so much better. Most of the produce you buy from grocery stores has traveled so far by the time you get it, it’s 3-4 weeks old and from other countries. It’s most likely pumped with water to make it bigger. This takes away so much flavor. Another huge value is that not only do you know where your food comes from, but you’re putting money back into your county and state. You support that farmer, who then buys from another locally sourced business. It’s a cycle and the money stays here.”

Vance Co. Regional Farmers Market (side) 042816There are also many vendors at the Farmers Market who organically grow their products. They may not be certified organic because becoming certified is often costly, but customers can always ask vendors what practices they use to grow and raise their produce. It’s becoming increasingly important to people how what they are eating was grown or raised. People want to know if pesticides were used on the produce or if it was grown organically, if they eat animal products they want to know that that animal was raised humanely with no growth hormones or antibiotics pumped into it, and whether or not the produce is grown using Non-GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).

Another shopper on Saturday, Susan James said, “I buy from the Farmers Market because I know and trust many of the vendors. I can ask if their produce is organically grown. In this day and age with so many people getting cancer that is very important to me. Unless it’s marked organic, you can’t always get this level of quality at grocery stores plus the produce here at the Farmers Market is often more affordable. I’m also putting money back into my community.”

Vendors have increased steadily since the market opened in 2014. Madigan said, “Last year we had 35 vendors overall and those numbers will continue to increase as we move into May.” If interested in becoming a vendor, there is an annual $30 fee and a $10 fee on the days that you sell. Sellers must be from Vance, Granville, Warren, or Franklin counties, or Mecklinburg County in Virginia.  Fifty one percent of everything sold must have been produced or made by the seller. Everything must be hand grown or hand made. For more detailed guidelines or an application click here or email

Other great opportunities the Farmers Market provides are classes held throughout the selling season. These classes cover topics on various gardening and yard practices that the general public may want to increase their knowledge on. Some of the classes covered previously were proper mulching, adding native plants to your landscape, and how to grow lavender, just to name a few. This past Monday evening on April 25th, Wayne Rowland, Agricultural and Natural Resources Technician with the NC Cooperative Extension in Vance County, held a class on growing watermelon and cantaloupe successfully.

The center hopes to have cook offs and other special events in the future but it needs more “man-power”. Madigan said, “We would love to have more volunteers as we have a limited budget.” How wonderful it would be if people from all five counties made this a really big community oriented place for families to come, learn, and grow together.

The facility is available for rent and many people have used it for private functions. Vance Granville Community College used it on Thursday, April 21 for a luncheon on Emerging Consumer Markets for the Agricultural Business. Local businesses have rented it for luncheons, dinners, and customer appreciation events.

So you see, there are numerous reasons to get involved with your local Farmers Market wherever you are. Farmers Market patron Maggie Peck leaves us with this statement, “Buying local is a way to give back, a way to be responsible. It’s good for the farmers, it’s good for you, and it’s good for the planet. Plus, you meet the most interesting and wonderful people here.”

Market Hours: Saturdays- 7:30 am – 1:00pm and starting May 4th Wednesdays 7:30 am- Noon

To donate or volunteer click here or email

WIZS staff writer

VGCC Students inducted into Honor Society

Vance-Granville Community College recognized 55 students who were inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for students of two-year colleges, on April 19 in the Civic Center on the college’s Main Campus. VGCC students honored with induction into Phi Theta Kappa must have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.5 (3.75 for part-time students) in associate degree curriculum programs and have completed at least 12 credit hours toward their degrees.

As advisors for VGCC’s PTK chapter, instructors Dan Miller, Isaac Talley and Maureen Walters conducted the ceremony. Walters, the head advisor, told the new inductees and their families and friends in attendance that since VGCC’s chapter of PTK, “Alpha Sigma Chi,” was chartered in 1991, more than 1,900 students have been selected for induction. She said that while scholarship is the first aim of PTK, the society also encourages fellowship, leadership development and service to others, and she noted that the letters Phi Theta Kappa stand for the Greek words for “Wisdom,” “Aspiration” and “Purity.”

The ceremony featured remarks from a student, Dianna DeWeese of Creedmoor, who serves as chapter president. DeWeese lauded the chapter’s new inductees on their hard work and the wise choices they had made that led to their academic success. “Scholarship is more than just getting good grades,” DeWeese said. “It is a lifelong love of learning.”

Serving as guest speaker for the ceremony was Jackie Sergent, the mayor of Oxford and retired Health Education Supervisor for the Granville-Vance District Health Department. Sergent congratulated the college on the 25th anniversary of its Phi Theta Kappa chapter and remarked that “we are blessed to have Vance-Granville Community College in our area.” She added her words of congratulations to the honored students on their success, which was “not only in your achievements but in the journey you took to get here,” she said. “Our personal growth depends more upon the struggle than the reward.” Sergent noted that many students juggle jobs and other responsibilities in addition to their studies. “Because of your academic excellence, you are in a position to continue on the path to being a leader in your community,” the mayor told the students.

This year’s inductees into the Alpha Sigma Chi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa are:


From Franklin County

Ashleigh Ray of Bunn;

Jasmine Blacknall, Anita Fuller, Pamela Swanson, Benjamin Taylor and Heather Taylor, all of Franklinton;

Adair Avila Soria, Cassidy Hinkle, H’Kera Ktul, Allison Leonard, Kelly Persinger and Kevin Tart, all of Louisburg;

Katrina Hodges, Stephanie Hommel, Lisa Sullivan and Christopher Worner, all of Youngsville.


From Granville County

Kaleb Williamson of Bullock;

William Unger of Butner;

Dylan Breedlove and Anna Tilley, both of Creedmoor;

Loren McCuiston of Franklinton;

Kristy Ball, Pamela Barker, Angelica Bridges, Schnail Bynum-Daniel, Doris Cable, Amy Greene, Ashley McEntee, Lane Phipps, Meghan Rossi and Thomas Thompson, all of Oxford;

Randy Bullock and Kevin Rumsey, both of Stem.


From Vance County

Donnie Ayscue, Jennifer Burns, Mary Elberson, Emory Gant-Hawkins, Harli Sams, Jakayla Thorpe and Hayya Wright, all of Henderson.


From Warren County

Marshella Ashby and Pamela Campbell, both of Littleton;

Shawn Miles of Manson;

Joseph Lambertz and Melissa Tucker, both of Norlina;

Meri Blake and Jamisha Twitty, both of Warrenton.


From Wake County

Lauren Dorn, Lori Eitel and Haley Watkins, all of Wake Forest;

Donna Pearce of Zebulon.


From other counties

Trevor Houston and Jessica Huffman, both of Durham;

Maria Govea and James Lea, both of Roxboro.

Nationwide of Warren Co vs Screen Master

For just shy of 30 years, WIZS Radio has presented Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Department Baseball and Softball.  Through the years these broadcasts have been presented with various different special features in addition to the play by play call of the game.

To compliment the games being heard on the radio at 1450 AM and online at, this year’s games will also be more available than ever with an archive on our sports page at

Here is a link to our first broadcast of the 2016 regular season between Nationwide Insurance of Warren County and Screen Master.

Later in the year, H-V All-Star games will be broadcast LIVE on 1450 AM, on and archived on our sports page.

Councilwoman Elliott to Speak At Vance Granville

Henderson City Council member to speak at VGCC Basic Skills Commencement

Vance-Granville Community College will hold commencement exercises dedicated exclusively to new graduates of Adult Basic Skills programs on Thursday, May 5. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County.

Those being honored at the ceremony will include students who have completed either the Adult High School Diploma program or the High School Equivalency program in the past year.

Melissa Elliott, a member of the Henderson City Council and a graduate of VGCC, will serve as the guest speaker. While working for the N.C. Department of Correction, Elliott first enrolled at VGCC to complete her high school equivalency diploma. She continued her education by enrolling in the Criminal Justice program in order to take her public service career to the next level. She graduated in 2009 with her associate degree and went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Saint Augustine’s University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Hidden Manna Bible College. She recently graduated with a master’s in public administration from Strayer University. Elliott is a former member of the advisory committee for VGCC’s Basic Law Enforcement Training and Criminal Justice programs.

Elliott has served in many positions in the criminal justice field, including Correctional Officer, Correctional Case Manager, Gang Intel Unit, 911 Dispatcher and, most recently, the Gang Officer for the Vance County Sheriff’s Office. She was honored for “outstanding community service” by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority for her work educating the community about gang culture in 2010. The Warren County Gang Assessment Steering Committee also honored Elliott with an Outstanding Community Service Award as a Gang Specialist for participating in the county’s Gang Assessment. Elliott is the founder of a non-profit organization, “Gang Free, Inc.” She was elected to a four-year term on the Henderson City Council in 2015.VGCC Melissa Pearce 042116

Speaking on behalf of the graduating students during the ceremony will be Melissa Pearce (pictured) of Franklinton. She completed the High School Equivalency program in March 2016, after taking classes at VGCC’s Franklin County Campus. Pearce has enrolled in the Early Childhood Education curriculum program at VGCC, starting in the upcoming summer term. Her goal is to complete that program and ultimately to be a day care center director. A Fayetteville native, Pearce is the married mother of three boys.


(Andrew Beal, Public Information Officer at VGCC, wrote and supplied this press release.)

Ready, Set, Grow!

The Warren County Extension Center will host “Ready, Set, Grow! Successful Gardening in Raised Beds & Containers” on Saturday, April 30th.

The agricultural extension agent for Vance and Warren counties, Paul McKenzie, told WIZS News, “This two hour workshop (9:30 a.m – 11:30 a.m.) will cover all the basics to start your gardening season off right.”

Registration is only $5 in advance, $7 at the door.  McKenzie said, “Learn about growing vegetables in raised beds and containers, and also how to manage pests organically.”

Instructors include Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and your friendly Horticulture Extension Agent, Paul McKenzie.   Visit to register or download a flyer.

For more information, e-mail or call 252-257-3640.

The Warren County Extension Center is located at 158 Rafters Lane in Warrenton, NC.

Health Wellness Fair Saturday

Big Ruin Creek Missionary Baptist Church is having a Health and Wellness Fair this Saturday, April 2, 2016 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  The event will take place at Northern Vance High School, located at 293 Warrenton Road.

Keasha Richardson told WIZS News, “There will be several medical doctors, several nurses, several UNC dental students, a couple of psychologists, one or two financial planners, at least one attorney, school counselors, a personal trainer, a Zumba instructor, several of our church members, and several other vendors there to share tips about total wellness.”

The hope is to encompass every area of need. There will be some on-site health screenings.

“We hope to have something for everyone, including children.  The event is free and open to the public/community at large. We are also collecting water to send to Flint, Michigan and are accepting water donations from anyone who is willing to donate,” Richardson said.

Big Ruin Creek Missionary Baptist Church Health Wellness Fair 2016 flyer

Farmers Market Opens April 16th

The Vance County Regional Farmers Market opens for the 2016 season on Saturday, April 16th, and new vendors are welcome, according to Paul McKenzie, Agricultural Extension Agent for Vance and Warren Counties.

In a press release McKenzie wrote, “This first class facility, located at 210 Southpark Drive in Henderson, offers covered sales space, electricity and restrooms. A part-time Manager works to promote the market through various channels including traditional media, social media, signage, community events and more. Vendors are also provided with display tables for their products.”

The Market will be open on Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in April and will add Wednesday hours in May. The application fee is $30, with a daily setup fee of $10 per space.

McKenzie wrote, “Producers of fruits, vegetables, eggs, plants, meats and other farm products are especially encouraged to apply, although the market also allows the sale of baked goods, handmade crafts and certain other products.”

Complete Guidelines and an application form are available at, or by calling Vance County Cooperative Extension at 252-438-8188. Applications may be submitted at any time, but must be received at least three business days in advance of a vendor’s first sale date.

(Information received in a press release written by Paul McKenzie.)

VGCC holds Summer Term New Student Orientation sessions

 Registration for classes and orientation sessions for new students have begun for the Summer 2016 term at Vance-Granville Community College, which starts Monday, May 23. Students who wish to enroll at VGCC starting in the Fall 2016 semester may also attend one of the orientation sessions for summer.

Attending an orientation session is required for all new students who wish to enroll in any of the college’s curriculum programs, and for students who are returning to VGCC after being away for three or more years. Students must also meet with an advisor or academic/career coach before registering for classes.

To attend an orientation session, a student must sign up in advance by visiting

VGCC now offers orientation in both an online and a traditional face-to-face format. In either format, orientation sessions help students learn where to find resources on campus or online, including how to register for classes through WebAdvisor.

Face-to-face orientation sessions are scheduled at VGCC’s Main Campus in Vance County on Tuesday, March 29, at 9 a.m.; Tuesday, April 19, at 9 a.m.; Thursday, April 21, at 2 p.m.; Tuesday, May 10, at 9 a.m.; and Thursday, May 12, at 2 p.m.

At the Franklin County Campus near Louisburg, orientation sessions are scheduled on Tuesday, March 29, at 2 p.m.; Tuesday, April 12, at 2 p.m.; Tuesday, April 19, at 5 p.m.; and Tuesday, May 3, at 9 a.m.

Orientation sessions are scheduled at VGCC’s South Campus, located between Creedmoor and Butner, on Wednesday, April 6, at 9 a.m.; Thursday, April 14, at 2 p.m.; and Wednesday, May 4, at 9 a.m.

Students who want to attend a face-to-face orientation session at the Warren County Campus in Warrenton should call (252) 257-1900 for more information.

Registration for summer classes is set to end on Thursday, May 19. College officials encourage students to apply for admission, attend orientation/advising, and register for classes as early as possible. Course schedules are now available online at

All summer curriculum courses are eight weeks in length and will end on July 25. The VGCC course selection for this summer’s term is more robust than in years past, including a variety of online and on-campus sections.

Summer term offers opportunities for eligible high school seniors to get a head start on college by taking courses through the Career & College Promise (CCP) program. University students may also use the summer to earn transferable credits while they are at home.

The tuition payment deadline is Thursday, May 19, by 5 p.m., if paying in person, or by midnight, if paying online through WebAdvisor.

For more information, contact VGCC at or (252) 738-3330, or visit any campus.

VGCC’s new ‘VanGuarantee’ to help area residents afford higher education

Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of Vance-Granville Community College, announced a major new commitment yesterday to eliminate financial barriers to higher education for residents of Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties.

President Williams said a new need-based scholarship program, called the “VanGuarantee,” is designed to cover tuition, student fees and textbooks for eligible students whose financial needs are unmet by federal financial aid and other means of support. She made the announcement at a meeting of the VGCC Board of Trustees and was joined by school superintendents and members of the boards of education from the four counties served by the college.

VGCC already has a robust, almost 40-year-old Endowment Fund that provides primarily merit-based scholarships.

“The VanGuarantee program enhances our college’s commitment to supporting deserving students, particularly those who demonstrate the greatest financial need, because we do not want the cost of attendance to be a barrier for any student at any stage,” Dr. Williams said. “We want to guarantee that every student in our community who wants to earn a college degree can do so.”

Making the VanGuarantee possible is a $1.6 million bequest to VGCC from the estate of Wilbert A. Edwards. The gift, announced in 2015, is the second largest in the history of the college. A resident of Oxford at the time of his death in 2001, Edwards was a native of Vance County and a decorated World War II fighter pilot. In addition to the VanGuarantee, funds from the Edwards estate are being used for faculty development and for college facilities.

In its scope, the new program is believed to be unique in the North Carolina Community College System. As policymakers and students have expressed growing concerns about the rising cost of college, VGCC joins colleges across the country in creating innovative “promise” or “guarantee” programs to make education more affordable and accessible.

Some colleges have made such commitments only to recent high school graduates, but the VanGuarantee applies to all students in the four counties, reflecting VGCC’s longstanding tradition of helping adults retrain for new careers at any age, Dr. Williams explained. Nevertheless, she encouraged 2016 high school graduates to take advantage of the new opportunity to obtain a debt-free college education.

Among the eligibility requirements for the VanGuarantee, students who reside in the college’s service area must enroll in at least nine credit hours per semester in any VGCC curriculum program. They must first apply for and meet the eligibility requirements for federal and state financial aid programs. Next, they will apply for endowed VGCC scholarships. When students still lack the funds to pay for their education after exhausting those and other sources, the VanGuarantee program will help to fill the gap. That makes the program an example of what is often called a “last-dollar scholarship.”

The VanGuarantee will be available in the fall 2016 semester, which starts in August. All residents of the four counties served by the college, regardless of their age or whether they have attended VGCC before, may benefit if they meet the eligibility criteria. Once enrolled in the VanGuarantee program, students must maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average (GPA) to continue receiving the scholarship.

For more information on the VanGuarantee, students can visit