VGCC CDL Class Cranking Out Graduates For Truck-Driving Industry

In its short time at Vance-Granville Community College, the Truck Driver Training program continues to put the pedal to the metal by graduating its fourth class of drivers eligible to obtain their Class A commercial driver’s licenses.

A fifth class began Aug. 9 and the next is set to crank up on October 11. The nine-week program includes a combination of classroom instruction, range driving and road driving. When the students successfully complete the class they are eligible for the CDL and therefore fully employable as truck drivers..

“This is the fourth graduating class of CDL-A since we started the program back in February of 2020,” said Kyle Burwell, director of occupational extension for VGCC. “This group has endured many days of high heat and humidity, as they worked to learn all the truck driving skills needed to obtain their CDL-A license.”

Burwell said a variety of employers visited the students to discuss employment opportunities over the nine weeks that class was in session. CDL truck driver training continues to be a very popular program, and early registration is highly encouraged for those who want to participate in future classes, he said.

Back Row L-R: Sean Manning, Tyquan Elam, Jalon Alston
Middle Row: Wyticia Estes, Ryan Williams, Janika Williams, Lead instructor – Jim Womack, Asst. Instructor- Eric Burchette, Asst. Instructor- James Jones
Front Row: Phillip Terry, Robin Smith, Avanti Brodie, Zavian Evans, Toney Fields, Adam Richardson, Cristina Hernandez (not pictured- Bobby Gillis)

Cristina Hernández of Kittrell is a new graduate. “Participating in the CDL Truck Driver Training class at VGCC has made me very proud and given me the tools I need to succeed in the workforce,” Hernández said. “I am especially grateful for my awesome instructors, my wonderful family, and all of those that supported me through this class. I am excited for my future!” Hernández is also a graduate of Vance County Early College High School, a partnership of VGCC and Vance County Schools.

The October class has a mandatory orientation session on Monday, Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. The class runs from Oct. 11 through Dec. 16.

To enroll in the program, students must be at least 18 years old, have a valid North Carolina driver’s license, and be able to read and speak English well enough to take instructions from highway signs, to converse with officials, and to complete the required reports.

For those who qualify, there are opportunities for scholarships to partially defray the costs of tuition and fees.

The program, certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI), is considered essential to meeting the needs of many companies who need drivers to move goods across the country. Local employers have shown strong support for VGCC’s program and have spoken to students about job opportunities. The college offers the program in collaboration with Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI).

For more information on the Truck Driver Training Program, please visit or contact Kyle Burwell, Director of Occupational Extension, at 252.738.3276 or

CDC Moratorium Temporarily Halts Residential Evictions Until Oct 3

CDC issues new temporary moratorium to halt residential evictions through Oct. 3

HOPE Program still accepting applications for emergency rental assistance

— press release courtesy of the N.C. Department of Public Safety —

RALEIGH—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new residential eviction moratorium that will offer protection from eviction for most renters in North Carolina. The moratorium, which will remain in effect through Oct. 3, 2021, applies in U.S. counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that triggers COVID-19. The CDC has found that evictions of tenants for failure to pay rent could be detrimental to public health measures designed to slow the spread of the virus. Most North Carolina renters would be eligible for protection from eviction under the order, with some important exceptions.

As of today, only four North Carolina counties do not meet the new eviction moratorium criteria, including Bertie, Hertford, Hyde and Warren counties. The status of these and other counties could change in the future depending on COVID-19 transmission levels.

Renters throughout the rest of the state who currently meet the eligibility criteria may present a declaration form to their landlord and receive protection from eviction. Renters can also find additional resources online through NC 211 and the HUD Rental Housing Counseling and Eviction Prevention Program, which includes contact information for local housing counselors.

Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance

The N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions Program (HOPE) continues to provide rent and utility assistance to low-income renters in 88 counties that are experiencing financial hardship due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Since opening last fall, HOPE has awarded more than $328 million to ​North Carolina households, with ​$245 million already paid to landlords and utility companies statewide.

Information about the HOPE Program, including eligibility requirements, program benefits and an online application, is available at Applicants who cannot access the website should call 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467) for help with the application process. The HOPE Call Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both English- and Spanish-speaking representatives are available to assist callers.

As of last week, the HOPE Program is also accepting landlord referrals of tenants who are struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic. Landlords can submit tenant names and contact information through the HOPE Program website or by contacting the HOPE Call Center at 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467). A program specialist will then follow up with the tenant to help start the application process.

In addition to the HOPE Program, 12 counties and five Native American tribes received direct federal funding to manage local emergency rental assistance programs. More information about the areas served by HOPE and local programs is available at the HOPE Interactive Map.

The HOPE Program is managed by the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency, a division of the Department of Public Safety. To learn more about the HOPE Program, visit


Warren County Seeks New Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization

– press release –

Warren County is now included in the group of counties that have made a decision to move to a new Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO).   These organizations are responsible for providing behavioral healthcare services in North Carolina.  Warren County is currently served in the Cardinal Innovations Healthcare catchment area, which extends from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, to the Virginia border at Warren County.

Effective August 3rd, Warren County will provide notice to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Cohen of the County’s intent to disengage from the Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization, Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, and realign with Eastpointe.

The Warren County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution and disengagement plan and will be seeking stakeholder and citizen feedback.

For more information, contact the County Manager, Vincent Jones, at the Warren County Manager’s Office at 252-257-3115.


– Additional information provided by Warren County:


On August 2nd, 2021, the Warren County Board of Commissioners voted to seek permission from the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) to disengage from Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, a Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO) managing mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance use services. North Carolina statute 122C-115(a3) permits a county to request disengagement from a LME/MCO and to join another LME/MCO. In light of the impending merger between Cardinal Innovations Healthcare and Vaya Health, Warren County has chosen to join Eastpointe LME/MCO. The Board of Eastpoint voted to accept Warren County as a member.

We do not know how quickly this change will occur. Warren County and Eastpointe LME/MCO have requested an effective date of October 1, 2021, subject to the approval of DHHS.

  • Actions Taken in Conjunction with Resolution: The Warren County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to disengage from Cardinal Innovations and join Eastpointe. A letter making the request was sent to Secretary Cohen of DHHS on August 3rd, 2021.
  • The Eastpointe Board voted to accept Warren County as a member on August 3rd, 2021 and sent a letter to Dr. Cohen that same day.
  • Warren County has notified the other counties served by Cardinal and the Co-Chairs of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee of the North Carolina Assembly of our decision.
  • Warren County and Eastpointe have jointly developed this plan to ensure a smooth transition for Warren County residents and providers which will ensure the continuity of service as the county transitions to Eastpointe.
  • Warren County affirms that it has no outstanding financial liabilities to Cardinal Innovations Healthcare.
  • Warren County affirms that there is no real property impacted by this proposed change.
  • Warren County will remain a member of Cardinal until the effective date of its realignment with Eastpointe, thereby ensuring no loss of services to residents.
  • Warren County has determined that Eastpointe meets the population requirements for a LME/MCO outlined in NC Statute and that its disengagement from Cardinal will not cause Cardinal nor Vaya to fall below those requirements.

Actions to be taken immediately:

  • Warren County and Eastpointe will publish this plan on their respective websites.
  • Warren County will issue a press release and post to its website and Facebook page a notification of its plan to disengage from Cardinal and join Eastpointe and will solicit public comment on the plan for sixty (60) days. Warren County will post the public comments on its website for thirty (30) days following the end of the public comment period.
  • Warren County will specifically request public comment from providers, consumers, advocated, self-advocates and the State and Local Consumer and Family Advisory Committees.
  • This same press release will serve as written notification to all Warren County providers of this proposed change.

Actions to be Taken Upon Approval by DHHS:

  • Eastpointe will hold Provider Fairs to enter into contracts with all providers in good standing currently serving Warren County residents. Eastpointe plans to contract with all current providers.
  • Eastpointe and Warren County will hold public meetings at least one of which will be in the evening to introduce Eastpointe to consumers, families and stakeholders and answer any questions about Eastpointe and this change.
  • Eastpointe and Warren County will hold at least one public meeting targeted to other public agencies in Warren County, such as schools, Department of Social Services, Law Enforcement, Courts, Public Health etc. to discuss the change and answer any questions.
  • Eastpointe will assess the current gaps in service in Warren County and recruit providers to address any identified gaps.

TownTalk: Turning Point CDC Community Day Aug 7

Turning Point Community Development Corporation continues its outreach in the area with Community Day 2021 set for Saturday, Aug. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Turning Point Director Chalis Henderson invites schoolchildren to come out for backpacks stuffed with school supplies and enjoy a variety of activities for the whole family.

Henderson was the guest on Wednesday’s Town Talk and shared details of the event with John C. Rose and Trey Snide.

“Everything’s going to be outside,” she said, except the barbershop. Two barbers will be socially distanced in the large multipurpose room of the Turning Point community engagement building, located near the interchange of Norlina and Warrenton roads  in Henderson. Vendors will be distanced appropriately on the lawn. “We will enjoy seeing people, but we definitely want people to feel safe and healthy,” Henderson said.

“We have a large group of community resource vendors – it’s going to be a family-friendly, fun event,” she said. And those 120 backpacks? They’ll be available on a first-come, first-served basis, so come out early.

One note to parents: Henderson said the child should be present to receive the backpack and parents should be prepared to give a name, phone number and the county they live in for the backpack giveaway.

The mobile learning lab will be up and running for the event as well. Henderson said the school bus-turned learning lab has been outfitted with air conditioning, so it will be on the road in August. A couple of young people will be on the bus to provide demonstrations of some of the lab’s functions.

Last year’s Community Day event was cancelled because of the pandemic, which makes this Saturday’s event even more special and important. It’s important for residents in the area to become aware of resources that are available to them, she added.

Established as a community development entity, Turning Point has become a place of empowerment and community engagement. Providing backpacks and having events to share resources are just two ways for Turning Point to “live” its vision statement: We believe rural communities can thrive and flourish.”

Henderson said she was heartened to see so many community members – and parents that are served through Turning Point – show up to bring donations of school supplies to help fill out the backpacks.

The non-profit had gotten the backpacks and a few school supplies, but Henderson said she felt like they needed some more. So she set up a one-week drive to collect supplies and she said there was “an overflow of resources coming in.”

Turning Point will have raffle tickets available on Saturday for the chance to win a complete HVAC system. Tickets are $10, she said. The prize is made possible by Ranes Heating and Air and Henderson said “100 percent of the proceeds go to Turning Point CDC.” The winner will be announced in October. Tickets also may be purchased via a link on its website

Also available at the Community Day event are t-shirts emblazoned with the Turning Point vision statement: “We believe rural communities can thrive and flourish.”


Turning Point CDC Director Chalis Henderson Interview Audio. Click Play Below.

Warren Co. Flag

Warren County to Require Masks Indoors in All County Facilities

As of this publication on August 2, 2021, Warren County is now included in the Centers for Disease Control report that indicates 92 North Carolina counties have “high” or “substantial” transmission of covid.

A Warren County press release states, “Effective August 2nd, Warren County will require will any visitors to indoor county facilities to wear masks while receiving service. Staff will also be wearing masks indoors.”

To clarify, when asked about schools, Senior Assistant to the County Manager Charla Duncan said, “…this is just for our county government facilities.”

CDC guidance for “high” or “substantial” transmissions areas is to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

As of this publication, Warren, Vance and Granville counties are considered “substantial” spread areas.  Franklin County is a “high” spread area.

HOPE Program now accepting tenant referrals from landlords, increasing assistance

— press release courtesy North Carolina Department of Public Safety

The Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program has announced program changes to accept referrals of tenants from landlords and increase financial awards to North Carolina households that apply for pandemic-related rent and utility assistance. The new guidelines aim to help even more renters get back on their feet while also assisting landlords that have lost income due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Since opening last fall, the HOPE Program has awarded more than $305.5 million to ​81,039 households, with ​$219.2 million already paid to landlords and utility companies statewide.

“We established the HOPE Program to keep low income tenants hit hard by COVID-19 in their homes with the lights on,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “HOPE has already assisted more than 81,000 families, and these program changes will make sure even more people get the help they need while our state recovers.”

Landlords whose tenants are struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic can submit names and contact information using the HOPE Program website or by contacting the HOPE Call Center at 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467). A program specialist will then follow up with the tenant to help start the application process.

Additionally, starting Aug. 1, the HOPE Program monthly rent award limit will increase by 30%, which will allow the program to cover approximately 95% of all rent awards requested by tenants. Similarly, the utility award limit will increase by 100%, a change that will cover nearly 90% of all past-due amounts requested by program applicants. The new limits will apply to all new applications received, including applicants reapplying for assistance.

The HOPE Program promotes housing stability by providing rent and utility bill assistance to prevent evictions and the disconnection of utilities. The program currently serves 88 North Carolina counties, with 12 counties and five Native American tribes receiving direct federal funding to operate their own emergency rent and utility programs. A complete list of the counties served by the HOPE Program, county programs and tribal government programs can be found using the online NC HOPE Interactive Map.

Information about the HOPE Program, including eligibility requirements, program benefits and an online application, is available at Applicants who cannot access the website should call 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467) for help with the application process. The HOPE Call Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both English- and Spanish-speaking representatives are available to assist callers. Applicants who applied for assistance during the first phase of the HOPE Program are eligible to reapply for additional help.

Funding for the HOPE Program is provided to the state through U.S. Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021. The HOPE Program is managed by the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency, a division of the Department of Public Safety. To learn more about the HOPE Program, visit


Apply Now for Vance/Warren Master Gardeners Program 2021

– submitted by Paul McKenzie –

Cooperative Extension is looking for a few good volunteers to join the Vance/Warren Master Gardeners program. Applications are now being accepted for the 16 week training program, which will begin on August 3rd, 2021. The class will meet on Tuesday mornings, and covers all aspects of gardening including fruits, vegetables, weeds, insects, diseases, trees, shrubs, turf, and more. Some classes will meet in person, while others will convene using the Zoom video conferencing platform.

After training, each volunteer intern is required to provide 40 hours of service in various community outreach projects. No green thumb required, and many other skills are needed including public speaking, writing, photography, social media, event management, graphic design, and much more. Recent volunteer projects have included demonstration gardens in both counties, newsletters, gardening workshops and seminars, youth education and more. The training fee is $125.

For more information, please visit or call 252-438-8188 (Vance County) or 252-257-3640 (Warren County).

Paul McKenzie
Agricultural Extension Agent, Vance/Warren Counties
NC Cooperative Extension
305 Young St., Henderson, NC 27536
158 Rafters Ln., Warrenton, NC 27589

TownTalk: VGCC Student Enrollment Day to Take Place on All Four Campuses

The four campuses of Vance-Granville Community College will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 31 for Enrollment Day, a time when prospective students can drop in, learn more and get help as they plan their next steps in education.

Dr. Antonio Jordan, director of admissions and enrollment services and Kali Brown, dean of student access and support, spoke with John C. Rose on Monday’s Town Talk about the upcoming event. Fall semester classes begin on Aug. 16.

“There’s something special about a face-to-face interaction,” Brown said of the in-person event. It’s an opportunity to have students come to campus, have access to the offices they would need for the enrollment process in a face-to-face setting. Both the VGCC application and the financial aid application are accessed and completed online, and Saturday’s event is a time for students and their parents or family members to questions or get help navigating the process.

Jordan said he looks forward to having students back on campus. “We’ve done a great job virtually, but like Dean Brown mentioned, there’s just something special about having them on that campus, having them in tone of those computer labs, having them in the admissions or enrollment center and being able to talk with them and work with them,” he said.

Having weekend events to meet students’ needs is probably going to become more routine, he added. Increasingly, the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours just aren’t convenient for those who have full-time jobs or other commitments, so VGCC leaders are “thinking outside the box” by offering the Saturday opportunity, he said.

For complete details and audio click play.

In addition to the two applications, the enrollment process includes a new student orientation.

Jordan will be at the main campus in Henderson to facilitate the new student orientation, which will be from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. During the orientation, students will have an opportunity to learn about majors and careers, complete their own career assessment and then figure out the best way to achieve their goals.

Although VGCC uses social media, email and other methods to share information, Brown said it’s critical for students to be able to have a face-to-face conversation with college representatives to guide them. The Enrollment Day is a chance to set up student accounts, as well as set up meetings with advisors to select classes.

There is, of course, the matter of paying for classes. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a first step, but there also are grants like the Long Leaf Commitment grant that can help, as well as numerous VGCC scholarships through the VGCC Foundation, Brown said.

The VanGuarantee is a program that helps students pay for fees and books that financial aid may not cover. This program is available for students who take a minimum of six credit hours, Brown added.

TownTalk: Soul City: Race, Equality And The Lost Dream Of An American Utopia

Thomas Healy was born in 1969, the same year that Floyd McKissick launched Soul City, his dream to build a new town in Warren County that would boast 50,000 residents and pump life into a historically poor area of North Carolina.

Healy, although born and raised in North Carolina, only learned about Soul City when he was a reporter in the 1990’s at The News & Observer in Raleigh, he told Bill Harris and Mark Pace on Thursday’s Town Talk.

And now, the Seton Hall law professor has written a book about the spot where McKissick had envisioned Black people living, working and thriving. But Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia also looks examines misperceptions surrounding Soul City.

One glaring misperception is that McKissick wanted to build an all-Black city an hour north of Durham, Healy said. Then, with the backdrop of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Healy decided to take a closer look at the story of Soul City and “to tell people about this history and, to some extent, set the record straight.”

McKissick, a Democrat, had some unlikely allies when he was trying to build Soul City, from James Holshouser, the Republican elected governor in 1972 all the way to the White House and Richard Nixon. Although initially skeptical and hostile, Healy noted, the nay-sayers realized what Soul City could do, they were on board.

But not Jesse Helms, newly elected senator from North Carolina. “Helms was hostile to Soul City from the very beginning,” Healy said. Ironically, The News & Observer, no friend of Helms ordinarily, “sort of tag-teamed with Jesse Helms in a way” in opposition to Soul City.

That combined opposition of the newpaper and Helms “was really devastating” for Soul City. Healy opined that if one or the other had not been such vocal opponents, then maybe Soul City would have had a fighting chance at survival.

Unlike suburban areas that grew up around urban areas as bedroom communities, Soul City was plopped in the middle of a rural county with little industry nearby. McKissick was trying to build a city of 50,000 people in a county that had a total population of 16,000 – he would have to clear the land, pave the roads, bring in electricity and then build homes, parks, amenities that would attract residents. And then there would need to be jobs.

It was a classic chicken-egg theory – which would come first, jobs or the city? Industry would demand a skilled workforce to draw from, and residents would have to have a way to make their livelihood in order to relocate, Healy said.

It was a strategic, yet pragmatic move that McKissick made in the summer of 1972 to switch political parties. He became a Republican and supported Nixon. Healy said he felt like this was insurance that would assure Soul City would get the federal dollars from HUD to become a reality.

Soul City got the money, but it wasn’t enough, Healy said. And that type of idealistic thought doesn’t exist today. “It was a super ambitious, audacious project,” Healy said. “If you proposed something like this now, I think people would look at you like you were crazy.”

McKissick did not see his dream come to full reality. He died in 1991, after Soul City had closed. But Healy said he felt McKissick would be heartbroken today to see that spot in Warren County where his dream began.

For complete details and audio click play.


Kerr Tar Workforce and NCWorks

TownTalk: NCWorks NextGen Program Helps Young Workers On Career Path

The NextGen program that operates in the five-county area as part of NCWorks offers young adults support and help in the search for gainful employment, but they get much more than just the hope of a paycheck.

Helen Bradby, NextGen’s director, shared information about the program on Monday’s Town Talk and told John C. Rose about the NextGen’s successes. She and Desiree Brooks of Kerr-Tar workforce development board discussed just how NextGen and NCWorks work to connect job seekers with employers.

NextGen serves ages 16-24 who face at least one barrier to employment, from being homeless or having a criminal background to not having a high school diploma, being pregnant or a parent.

Brooks said the object is to help youth not only find a job, but to help them find a career.

Example: a young man from Warren County needed first to get his GED before he could continue on the path to employment. NextGen placed him in an on-the-job training assignment while he was completing his GED and as of last month, he is a permanent employee. “He’s making some good money,” Bradby added.

This particular “customer,” as Bradby refers to all those prospective employees that participate in the NextGen program, had some work experience, but he needed a few months of training to bring him up to speed, she said. NextGen provided 75 percent reimbursement to the employer for the employee’s wages during that time. That’s a win-win for the customer who gets placed in the job and for the employer who needs someone to do the work.

NextGen focuses on four career pathways that show promise of growth in the area: advanced manufacturing, informational technology, construction, and health care.

And while her program focuses on youth employment, Bradby emphasized that her program is keenly tuned in to the area’s businesses and employers, who serve as valuable partners and hire workers who come from NextGen.

“Send them to us, Helen, we can teach them,” is what she said she hears from employers in the area. Bradby said the employer partners can trust that the individuals NextGen sends to them have the willingness or the ability to learn new skills, even if they don’t already possess them.

The past program year proved challenging, Bradby said, but the new program year that began July 1 promises more and better opportunities for those who need a job and for those who need workers.

“This is not a cookie cutter program,” Bradby said. Every customer is evaluated individually. “We’re going to sit down with you and create a plan,” she said. The plan includes an educational goal and and employment goal, and there are detailed objectives to support achievement of the goals.

One person’s first step may be to complete a GED, while another may need help creating a resume. NextGen’s main purpose is to do what is needed to reach a customer’s goals.

Often, job-seekers in this age group need to be prepared for what an interview will be like. Employers are looking for workers with that set of “soft skills” such as politeness, listening and communication skills and time management.

“They want someone who’s going to actually show up” for work, Bradby said.

The employer partners are vital to the success of the program, Brooks said. “We are not a one-man show,” she said. Vance-Granville Community College and Piedmont Community College, along with the economic development corporations and the chambers of commerce all provide valuable support to NCWorks and the Kerr-Tar COG. Everybody is working toward that same goal of employing workers and getting them off on a career path that will provide them with a sustainable wage that will allow them to support their families.

Like the Vance County mother of one child who came to NextGen for help getting her nurse aide 1 credential. She did that at VGCC, passed her state exam and then returned for additional certification for medication aide credential. She now is employed full-time at Duke University Hospital, and receiving excellent benefits.

“That is exactly what a career path is,” Bradby said. This customer had several steps on her career path – to get one certificate and state credentials, then move along her career path to her goal of full-time employment. And that is exactly what NextGen is set up to do.

To learn more, visit or call 919.693.2686.

For complete details and audio click play.