Small Farms Week 2021

The 35th annual celebration of Small Farms Week will be held virtually Mar. 21-27. Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T State University is sponsoring a series of virtual events and educational programs to inform the public and provide research-based information to support small farmers.

This year’s theme is “35 Years: Resilience. Strength. Diversity” and will begin with a kick-off event on Friday, Mar. 19, according to information from the Greensboro-based university. The programs are “designed for farmers with limited incomes and acreage and will provide them with information to become more resilient and more profitable,” according to the statement. Although focused on small-scale farmers, the public is also invited to attend.

The USDA census defines a small farm as “a farm that is 179 acres or less in size, or earns $50,000 or less in gross income per year.

The Mar. 19 event will feature agriculture in Avery County, located in western North Carolina. This session also will recognize Avery County’s Amos and Kaci Nidiffer, the 2020 Small Farmers of the Year. A panel of local farmers will discuss farming in that part of the state.

The virtual activities continue on Monday, Mar. 22, with sessions on the health benefits of community gardening and ways to boost your immune system during the pandemic. A virtual education forum on Tuesday, Mar. 23 will cover plant production, farm management, high-tunnel winter production and livestock production. A panel of N.C. A&T students will discuss the wide variety of career opportunities available in agriculture and related fields.

Wednesday’s program includes information on marketing and agribusiness, as well as a small farms update by members of A&T’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. The day also includes one of the highlights of the week: the virtual Small Farmers’ Appreciation Program. Keynote speaker is Jimmy Gentry, president of the North Carolina Grange. The 2021 Small Farmer of the Year will also be announced.

The final event of Small Farms Week 2021 will be a panel discussion among A&T students on Thursday, Mar. 25 about opportunities for young people in agriculture.

The registration link is


“The Local Skinny!” March 8; VGCC Celebrates Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month and Vance-Granville Community College has put together a series of programs and resources that are just a click of the mouse away for anyone who would like to participate and learn more.

Natasha Thompson, a history instructor at VGCC, spoke with John C. Rose Monday – International Women’s Day – on The Local Skinny about the various virtual events that will take place in March to celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of women.

The theme “No Limits, No Obstacles, No Ceilings: Fighting for a Future of Limitless Potential” is adapted from a speech delivered by then-President Barack Obama in honor of Women’s History Month, Thompson said.

The virtual sessions begin at noon on Mar. 11, Mar. 18 and Mar. 24 and are open to the public; it is not necessary to be a VGCC student, she added. The programs promote women’s history, as well as current conditions and how women can move into the future, she noted.

The Mar. 11 topic is how to stay healthy while maintaining a busy lifestyle. An agent with Warren County Cooperative Extension will lead this program. A panel discussion is scheduled for Mar. 18 and will include VGCC faculty, staff and other community leaders. The panel will discuss historical factors that have limited women in the past, as well as “big-picture” changes and ways current and future VGCC students can work to continue to overcome barriers, Thompson said.

The final topic on Mar. 24 is titled “Minority Women’s Guide to Financial Confidence.” Faith Bynum, a certified public accountant in Raleigh, will lead this workshop on overcoming financial stigmas for minority women.

Visit to find the links to register for the virtual workshops. Also on the website is a LibGuide, a compilation of additional online events, books and other resources to learn more about Women’s History Month.

(Audio with Natasha Thompson begins at the 8:30 mark of the file)


NC to Receive Authorized Johnson & Johnson’s One-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine Wednesday

— NCDHHS Press Release — 

North Carolina has another tested, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to protect against virus-related hospitalization and death. The federal government authorized the distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s (Janssen) one-shot vaccine and more than 80,000 doses are expected to arrive in the state this week, beginning on Wednesday.

“A third COVID-19 vaccine means North Carolina can get more people vaccinated sooner, which will save lives and slow the spread,” said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Like the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines currently in use, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine protects against virus-related hospitalization and death. There are possible temporary reactions, such as a sore arm, fever, headache or feeling tired and achy for a day or two. All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized were built upon decades of previous work on similar vaccines.

This increased supply will help to ensure the equitable distribution and access to COVID-19 vaccines in every community in the state. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is a single-dose shot and does not require extreme cold storage. As a result, it can be more easily shipped, stored and administered, factors that will help to increase the number of vaccination sites and make them more accessible.

“COVID-19 vaccines and the continued use of the 3 Ws are the most effective ways to help North Carolina stop the spread of COVID-19, get us back in control of our lives and back to the people and places we love,” said Secretary Cohen.

Visit for accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines. To slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, continue to practice the 3 Ws – wear a mask, wait six feet apart and wash your hands.


More Than 1 Million Pounds of Roadside Litter Collected This Year

— press release courtesy of NCDOT

RALEIGH – As part of its litter removal efforts, N.C. Department of Transportation crews, contractors and volunteers have now collected more than 1 million pounds of litter from roadsides statewide this year.

“We are only just beginning this year’s efforts to clean up and prevent litter on our roadsides,” said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “But we need everyone’s help. We all are responsible for keeping North Carolina clean and beautiful.”

NCDOT reports that the agency and its partners have removed 1.18 million pounds of litter since Jan. 1.

NCDOT’s litter management programs are multifaceted. The department makes use of both state-owned forces and contract services statewide. NCDOT’s Sponsor-A-Highway Program allows businesses, organizations and individuals to sponsor litter removal along roadsides. NCDOT is also proud to partner with the more than 120,000 participants in the Adopt-A-Highway Program, where volunteers pledge to clean a section of our highways at least four times a year.

North Carolinians looking to help keep the state’s roadways clean can volunteer for the upcoming Spring Litter Sweep, which will run from April 10-24.

Litter is unsightly, costs millions of dollars to clean up and can hurt tourism, the environment and the state’s quality of life. The most effective way to aid litter removal efforts is to stop it at its source.

Everyone should do their part by:

  • Securing their loads before driving. Unsecured trash can fly from a vehicle and end up as roadside litter.
  • Trash should be held onto until it can be disposed of properly. Keep a litter bag in your vehicle so you can properly dispose of trash later.
  • Recycle whenever possible. Recycling protects our environment, saves landfill space and keeps the community clean.


Town Talk Logo

TownTalk 02-25-21 with Mark Pace, Local Black History

(The latest in the WIZS Tri-Weekly Thursday Local History Series. Next broadcast March 18.)

Alonzo “Jake” Gaither’s Florida A&M football teams only lost four games between 1959 and 1963. But when he was football coach for Henderson Institute in the early 1920’s his team was winless in its first season.

Gaither, whose overall record for the A&M Rattlers is 204-36-4, began his coaching career right here in Henderson, and Mark Pace and Bill Harris discussed Gaither and other notable African Americans with ties to this area during Thursday’s Town Talk.

Pace, North Carolina Room Specialist at Richard H. Thornton Library in Oxford, said the powers-that-be of Henderson Institute were so thrilled with Gaither’s football and baseball coaching that they decided he should also be the basketball coach. It was a small detail that Gaither had never seen a basketball game and didn’t know a thing about how the game was played. But he took home the rule book one weekend, learned all the rules and then started coaching.

Undeterred after a winless first season on the basketball court, Gaither persevered and three years later, Henderson Institute won the state championship, Pace said.

Flemmie Pansy Kittrell was born in Henderson on Christmas Day, 1904.  The first African American to get a Ph.D in nutrition, her research brought to light ways to combat malnutrition in many countries across the globe. She also was instrumental in the creation of the national Head Start preschool program.

Charlotte Hawkins Brown founded Palmer Institute, a day and boarding school for African Americans in 1902. The Sedalia school is now a state historic site. Brown was born in the Mobile area of Henderson.

And John Chavis was a free African American born in Vance County who fought in the American Revolution. He graduated from Washington and Lee University and returned to teach white children from local plantations, Pace said. One of those children was J.M. Horner, who became an educator himself, and later founded Horner College in Oxford.

Pace, who has extensive experience in genealogy research, noted that the African American community has strong roots in the area that now encompasses Vance, Granville, Warren and Franklin counties. By the 1860’s, enslaved people were held by fewer families on large plantations. Pace said his research in various Census records showed that Granville County (what is now the four-county area) had the largest number of enslaved people in North Carolina. Of 23,396 people living in Granville County in 1860, he said 1,100 were enslaved. When the war ended and the slaves were freed, Pace said, they generally took the surname of their former owners.

In the decades after the Civil War ended, many African Americans moved away from the southern U.S. states. In 1910, 90 percent of African Americans lived in the South; by 1960, Pace said, that number had dropped to 50 percent.

Matthew W. Bullock’s family moved to Massachusetts from their home in the Dabney community.   His parents had been enslaved in North Carolina, headed north. Bullock attended Dartmouth and then got a law degree from Harvard University. Bullock was the first Black to coach an all-white high school – in 1899 – and went on to coach football at the University of Massachusetts.

Charity Adams Earley was born in Kittrell in 1918. She was the first African American woman to be an officer  – a lieutenant colonel – in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later WACS) and was the  commanding officer of the first battallion of African American women to serve overseas during World War II.

And then there’s Henry Plummer Cheatham, who was born in Henderson in 1863 to a white plantation owner and an enslaved house servant. Cheatham became the first register of deeds in Vance County, and later was elected to Congress. He was the only Black member of the 52nd Congress. Cheatham also was the recorder of deeds in Washington, D.C. around the turn of the 20th century. He returned to North Carolina and, for the last 30 years of his life, was head of the Oxford Colored Asylum (now Central Children’s Home). He died in 1935.

Cheatham was the next-to-the-last Black to represent North Carolina in Congress until the early 1990’s, when Eva Clayton of Warren County was elected. Clayton served for 20 years and was the first African American woman to represent North Carolina and the first Black since George White won a hotly contested race against his brother-in-law in 1896.

His brother-in-law? Henry Plummer Cheatham.

To hear the complete interview and learn more, listen to the podcast below.


VGCC is Workforce Development, Community Engagement, Entrepreneurship Haven

With the stroke of a pen, Vance-Granville Community College President Dr. Rachel Demarais joined more than 200 of her colleagues across the country to show support of entrepreneurship.

Demarais was joined by Tanya Weary, dean of South Campus and Dr. Jerry Edmonds, vice president of Workforce Development and Community Engagement on Tuesday, Feb. 23 for the virtual signing of the “Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge,” which took place at the community book read and discussion for Who Owns the Ice House: Eight Life Lessons from an Unlikely Entrepreneur.

The pledge outlines five action steps to increase focus on entrepreneurship and the impact community colleges have on the economic well-being of the communities they serve, according to information from the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE).

In signing the pledge, more than 200 community colleges across the country are making a commitment to play a greater role in stimulating economic development in their communities. “An entrepreneurial mindset is critical to solving today’s challenges for tomorrow,” Demarais said.

“As a lead workforce developer in our region, it is imperative that VGCC support economic development through both skills and entrepreneurial training,” she added. Programs offered through the VGCC Small Business Center as well as incorporating entrepreneurial thinking in the school’s trades programs contribute to promoting the idea of entrepreneurism, she said.

According to NACCE President and CEO Rebecca Corbin, the pledge is a way for community colleges to advance entrepreneurship and create jobs across the country. Community college presidents who take the pledge commit to these five action steps:

  • Develop transparency of community college and community assets
  • Create internal and external teams dedicated to entrepreneurship
  • Increase entrepreneurs’ engagement in community colleges
  • Engage in industry cluster development
  • Create broad exposure to their college’s commitment to entrepreneurship.

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) is the nation’s leading organization focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges. The association represents more than 300 community and technical colleges who serve more than three million students. For more information, visit Follow NACCE on Twitter at @NACCE and like NACCE on Facebook at National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship.

Spring 2021 Equine Program Series Warren County Center

Area horse owners are invited to participate in the Spring Equine Program Series at the Warren County Center.

The three-part series begins on Tuesday, Mar. 16 at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Shannon Pratt-Phillips, DVM, will discuss proper nutrition and feed resources.

The second program is set for Tuesday, Mar. 30 at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Katie Sheets, DVM will discuss parasite management.

The final program is set for April 20, also at 6:30 p.m. Trooper Tare “T” Davis, with the NC Highway Patrol, will discuss trailer safety and DMV regulations.

Contact Matthew Place at 252. 257.3640 or to learn more. Register for the equine series at

Kerr Tar Workforce and NCWorks

Looking A Job – Look Here Before Feb 25

It’s a job seeker’s market, according to a local NC Works official who announced a couple of upcoming opportunities that could lead to employment.

Desiree Brooks, business services manager of the Workforce Development Board of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, said participants interested in work at Altec can register for an event that will begin at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25.

Altec, which builds bucket trucks, has a facility in Creedmoor in southern Granville County.

A second opportunity scheduled for Thursday is the Triangle Virtual Regional IT Career Expo, Brooks said. A group of area workforce development groups is hosting this event, which will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There are many opportunities in the Kerr-Tar region for jobs in the IT field, she said. A job may not be working for an IT company, but there are businesses hiring for IT-related jobs, she said. “We’re all coming together for a common need,” she said.
We all share the same goals – to improve workforce, not just in our area, but across North Carolina,” she said.

This virtual career fair is for employers who are looking for workers as well as for job seekers, she said. Register for this event online at or phone 919.693.2686 to get assistance or to learn more about either event.

VITA Tax Assistance

Vance VITA Not Able To Use Library To Operate

Katrina Reid with Vance County Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) reports to WIZS News, “Due to COVID-19, the Vance County VITA program that’s held at the Perry Library is closed.”

The library is not open to the public at this time.

For additional assistance, reach out to Reid at 252.432.6642.

In her correspondence, she provided some other free sites that are open in our immediate area.

Granville County Senior Center
107 Lanier Street, Oxford NC 27565
Feb.11-Apr. 15
Appointment is required

Warren Family Institute VITA
427 West Franklin Street Bldg 6
Warrenton NC 27589
Feb.13-Apr. 16
Appointment is required

Helping Hand VITA
2197 Moss Hayes Road
Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church
Creedmoor, NC 27522
Jan. 22-Apr. 30
Appointment is required

Warren County Memorial Library Celebrates Black History Month

— press release

Warren County Memorial Library (WCML) will host a variety of programs, feature informative displays, and connect patrons with illuminating information as they celebrate Black History Month. The national theme for Black History Month 2021 is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, Diversity.

WCML is excited to have the opportunity to virtually host historian Howard Burchette for “The Story of North Carolina’s Buffalo Soldiers” on Friday, February 26th, at 1:00pm. The Buffalo Soldiers were six regiments of African-American soldiers authorized in 1866 to help keep the peace in the Great Plains as the railroad was expanding across the US. This program will highlight the men from North Carolina who served in these regiments. Mr. Burchette is a retired IBM data processing professional and historian with local ties. He has over 23 years of broadcast experience on public radio, hosting many shows, including his work as the current host of The Funk Show on WNCU 90.7 FM. This live event will take place via Zoom. It can be easily accessed by going to or calling 646-558-8656. The meeting ID is 865 4352 5393 and the password is 479626.

The library is also hosting the “Seeking Justice Artistic Display” provided by the Warren County NAACP and its SPARK committee during the entire month of February. This display chronicles the history of the lynching of two men that happened in Warrenton in January of 1921. Interested parties can view the display at any time during the library’s regular business hours – Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 3:00pm.

In addition to the programs listed above, the library’s February event calendar is full of links, such as NC Learn’s “African-American Music Trail” and TheHistoryMakers’ “African-Americans in Science”, as well as additional events. There’s something for everyone. Pick one up at the library or visit the library’s website ( for more information. All library programs are free to the public. Call WCML for more information at 252-257-4990. The library is located at 119 S. Front Street, Warrenton NC 27589.