TownTalk: Around Old Granville: History Of Brookston, Greystone And Chalk Level

If you’ve ever wondered about those two small rock buildings that you see when you’re driving out Warrenton Road on the way to Brookston, North Carolina Room Specialist Mark Pace may have some information that will help.

In the late 1800’s when John Wesley Pegram was going gangbusters as a stone mason, the area where those two one-room structures currently sit were situated on the main North-South route – predating even U.S. Hwy 1.

And Pegram constructed those two buildings as advertising for his considerable abilities, Pace said on Thursday’s TownTalk segment of Around Old Granville.

Anyone who wants to see the “crowning achievement” need look no further than the Methodist Church in downtown Henderson.

Pegram lived in the Brookston community and plied his trade in the late 1800’s. In fact, Pace said, he had his own private quarry nearby. But his quarry wasn’t the only one in the area of Brookston, Chalk Level and Greystone.

There’s been a quarry in operation at Greystone for close to 200 years, and although it’s changed ownership over the years, Greystone may be one of the oldest businesses in the area.

It makes sense that the Greystone quarry has been around since the 1830’s, Pace noted, because that’s about the same time that the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad was being constructed. And just think of all the gravel that goes into making up a rail bed.

There’s a string of quarries along the “Ridge Way,” the flat area that wends its way along the general route of U.S. 1 where railroad planners laid tracks. There’s a quarry in Wake Forest, another in Kittrell, then there’s Greystone and also one at Wise, Pace noted.

Folks in the Greystone, Brookston and Chalk Level communities had high hopes that their sleepy little area would prosper once the railroad came through.

And it almost happened.

Until a wealthy landowner named Lewis Reavis, who owned property near where the old courthouse and former library sit downtown, lured the railroad to Henderson in the mid-1830’s by offering rights-of-way and property on which to build a depot.

It made all the difference. Henderson became incorporated just a few years later, in 1841, and Chalk Level died off.

But the Chalk Level area of what is now Vance County has one of the highest elevations in the area – some 500 feet above sea level – and that’s why a fire tower is located there, as well as a signal tower for the former WHNC radio station.

Just down the road from Chalk Level is Brookston Baptist Church, which Pace said is the oldest African American church around. Founded by the Hayes, Hawkins and Bing families, it could have been established as early as 1858, he said. “But I know it was there by the 1870’s.”

Also nearby is Carver Elementary School, was built in 1954 – the same year as the U.S. Supreme Court ended racial segregation with its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

The main speaker at the dedication of the school was Shiloh Church’s pastor, the Rev. John R. Dungee, who is an ancestor of Tony Dungee, the former pro football coach-turned analyst.

First Lady Barbara Bush visited Carver in 1990, when the school hosted a program that offered teen mothers a chance to earn their high school equivalency diplomas while their children attended school.




South Henderson Pentecostal Holiness Church

TownTalk: Celebrating 100 Years Of South Henderson Pentecostal Holiness Church

South Henderson Pentecostal Holiness Church is preparing to celebrate its centennial anniversary and Pastor Mark Richardson extends an open invitation to the community to the June 4 service for a special look back at the first 100 years of the church.

Richardson was a guest on TownTalk Wednesday and said the celebration kicks off that first Sunday in June and will continue all month long.

Back in 1923, Henderson was the site of a five-month long tent revival, a very successful way to “plant” churches for the Pentecostal Holiness Church back then, Richardson said.

The revival took place mostly on what is now Southerland Street in Henderson, although it did travel to other spots in the town. And at the end of that five months, the seeds for a new church were planted.

Richardson was himself a member of the church beginning in 1996. He had various roles and was on the Pastor Frank Sossamon’s staff from 2003-2007. He spent 14 years at a church in Siler City before returning to Henderson. He’s been back as pastor for almost two years.

The present church building was constructed in 1980, and Richardson said the sanctuary has been undergoing a pretty big facelift in preparation for the 100th anniversary celebration.

There’s been lots of painting going on, new carpet installed and the newly covered pews should be installed soon. There’s a new sound system and a new LED projection screen that Richardson referred to as a wall.

“We’ve updated our sanctuary to bring it more of an up-to-date and modern look,” he said.

“We saw the new screen come to life for the first time” recently, he said, which is nothing short of amazing.

And church leaders may just roll out that new projection screen at 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 4 when they show pictures of the first 100 years of the church – from then until now.

There will be coffee and donuts to enjoy as the slide show rolls on and viewers can remember and celebrate the people of the church during its first century.

“We’re celebrating our past and preparing for the future,” Richardson said. “We’re not finished writing the story of what South Henderson Pentecostal is trying to accomplish.”

Visit to learn more about the church and its programs and services.




Town Talk: Vance County Schools Enjoy Success at Recent Robotics Competition

Elementary and middle school students traveled to Salisbury over the weekend to participate in a competition and they brought home several awards for their efforts.

The six teams that made the trip for the Brick Master State Level Competition had to earn their spots at a local competition on May 6 called RoboVANCE. That’s right, this competition is for students who design, create and compete using robotics.

“Robotics in Vance County Schools have been in design for the last three years,” said Destiney Ross-Putney, VCS director of instruction and innovation. District leaders wanted to provide opportunities for elementary, middle and high school students to learn about robotics, whether in an after-school Legos club or through a high school elective or an extracurricular group.

School officials opened it up at the beginning of the year and Ross-Putney said they were “blown away” by the number of students who showed interest.

Some schools had multiple teams, who met weekly with coaches/advisors to work on the coding and design of the creations.

The adult advisors didn’t necessarily have a background in coding or robotics; rather, they coached the students in problem-solving and working together as a team to complete their projects. The program is completely student-centered, Ross-Putney explained.

“We want to give them experiences that prepare them for the future,” said Aarika Sandlin, VCS communications coordinator.

The Salisbury competition was for elementary and middle schoolers and VCS sent six teams who advanced from the local competition, which included nine K-2 teams, 17 3-5 teams and five 6-8 teams.

The teams who traveled to Salisbury were the Zeb Vance Magical RobotZ, the Carver Electric Eagles, the Dabney Rockets, the VCMS Master Tech Builders, the STEM Card Sharks 3, the STEM Card Sharks and the L.B. Yancey Robotics #1.

The Dabney Rockets won first for elementary coding and the STEM Card Sharks #3 – an all girls team – won the coding competition for its grade level.

For the robotics portion of the competition, teams had four assignments, along with a mystery task. Students had to program their robots to complete a variety of challenges with scenarios that were based on alternative energy sources. VCMS Master Tech Builders took 4th place at the competition for the middle school division.

School leaders couldn’t be happier at the results, especially for the first time ever competing at this level.

“Our robotics program has been hard work since the beginning of this school year, with both staff and students meeting and practicing weekly.” Ross-Putney said.  “To watch these programs develop from the ground up and take state level recognition is a testament to their commitment to problem solving and teamwork.”

Parents and students can learn more about RoboVANCE for next year during the August Open House.




TownTalk: Vance Co. Venom Win Initial 7 On 7 Cup

7-on-7 football is a bit different, but according to Vance Venom coaches Theo Perry and Trenton Ware it’s still football.  “It’s the same strategy. We look to take advantage of the other team’s weakness,” according to Ware.  On Sunday, May 21st, the Vance Venom hosted the First Annual Carolina Cup with teams from Warrenton, Knightdale and Goldsboro participating.  The Venom were victorious in what Perry and Ware hope will be a yearly event with more teams.

Perry and Ware, who both appeared on WIZS TownTalk, say that one of the goals is to help develop players age 7 to 18 in the Vance, Granville and Warren County areas.  “We want to give the kids something to do. Keep them off the streets and the right path, doing something positive,” Perry said.

This season focuses on high school kids, but Perry and Ware hope to expand next year and have more players who are younger so the Venom will be able to field more teams organized by age group.  Ware said many of the younger players this year look up to the older kids who play for the Vance County High School Viper team.  “Those kids are well coached and want to learn,” Ware said of the Viper players who play with the Venom.


TownTalk: Kerr Tar Council of Governments Presents Bike Safety Bash

When it comes to sharing the road, it’s important for both vehicle drivers and bicyclists to know what the rules are to keep everyone safe.

Young bicyclists will have the chance to learn about bike safety, get some free safety equipment  and test their skills on an obstacle course during the upcoming Bike Safety Bash on Saturday, June 10.

And the first 150 folks who stop in will get a free ice cream, compliments of Lewis Express and a local church sponsor.

The Bike Bash and Rodeo will be from 9 a.m. to 12 noon in front of the Henderson Police Department, according to Kenia Gomez-Jimenez with the Kerr-Tar Council of Governments, which has organized the safety event.

Kids riding their bikes or walking to and from school during the week may be a more common sight in big cities, but even in rural areas, Gomez-Jimenez said, bike safety is important.

“We want to make sure they have all the education and materials they need to be safe,” she said on Monday’s TownTalk.

KTCOG received close to $200,000 in the latest round of state funding to have programs like the Bike Bash. “We’re so excited that we get to continue our Safe Routes to School endeavors across the Kerr-Tar region,” Gomez-Jimenez said.

“I believe in the power of teamwork,” she said, adding that the Granville Vance Health District, as well as the city of Henderson and AIM High, Keep Pressing are partners for the event. Reed Kenny said the health department will have 100 bike helmets to distribute to youngsters who attend the event, and Jessica Hawkins with AIM High will contribute 100 more. In addition, AIM High will raffle off 20 bicycles throughout the morning’s event.

The helmets are part of a NCDOT initiative to reduce bicycle injuries among youth by providing them with equipment and education on bike safety. Share the Road specialty license plates fund this initiative.

“We want to make sure they’re well protected,” Kenny said of young bicycle riders.

Bicyclists need to keep safety in mind, but they also need to be able to fix a bike that may break down during a ride.

Tracy Madigan, DDC director, said the event will kick off with a ribbon cutting to officially dedicate five bike racks and a newly installed bike repair station in the downtown area. The bike repair station is located on Breckenridge Street near the police station, Madigan noted.

“It will be helpful for everybody to work together to learn about bike safety, she said, as well as learning to share the roadways.

Although Henderson doesn’t have any specially designated bike lanes at present, Madigan hinted of plans to accommodate bicyclists in the future.

“The goal is to work together and to show our community that Henderson…has a sense of community,” Gomez-Jimenez said. “When we unify for a common goal, great things happen.”

When we unify for. A common goal, great things happen.”



TownTalk: HubZone Tech Refurbishes Laptops

Six words capture the mission and work of Hubzone Technology Initiative and those six words sit right at the top of the HTI webpage for all to see:

You Donate.

We Convert.

They Receive.

Briant Davis is operations manager for Hubzone Tech, located in Garnett Street Station, the former freight station at 208 N. Garnett St.

Henderson is Hubzone Tech’s main location, although it serves the surrounding community and reaches into the Greater Triangle area.

The concept is simple, Davis said on Thursday’s TownTalk – refurbish donated computers and donate them to organizations to be distributed to people who need them.

It’s a way to properly recycle computers – if they can be reused, great. If they can’t, HubZone makes sure they’re disposed of properly.

By doing this, Davis said HTI can be good stewards. “We take them, we wipe them clean,” he said. After they are converted to Chromebooks, they are given to organizations that give them to those in need.

They are winding up a donation drive now, and folks may have noticed collections bins in various businesses in the area, but there’s always a bin in front of their offices – Suite F – at Garnett Street Station.

Businesses that may be doing a complete overhaul of their computers, however, need only make a phone call to HTI at 252.590.0240 to make arrangements for a courier to pick them up.

“We prefer laptops,” Davis said, “but we have downstream partners willing to take digital technology and recycle it correctly. We have ways of taking any old technology.”

Chromebooks work pretty much like any other laptops, he explained, adding that the software does a good job to ward off malware and viruses.

“As long as a person has an internet connection, a Chromebook performs very well – it’s snappy and fast.”

The HTI technicians that refurbish the computers scrub the hard drives of any data stored. They also offer COD’s – certificates of destruction – to those who want to ensure that there will be no data breaches.

“We’re very good stewards,” Davis said. “We follow government standards to make sure hard drives are completely erased.”

A team of grant writers at HTI is constantly searching for funding sources, but Davis said there are fundraisers to help them become more sustainable.

The organization also has an eBay store where it sells items and equipment that are still perfectly functional, but can’t be converted to Chromebooks.

Visit to learn how to make a donation, become a community partner and more. Or send an email to

CLICK PLAY to hear Briant Davis!


TownTalk: United Way Kicks Off 2023 Fund Allocation

The United Way of Vance County is preparing for its 2023 funds allocation.

Deadline for submitting an application for funding is Friday, May 26, according to Jane P. Haithcock, secretary/treasurer of the organization.

Non-profit agencies or those with an IRS tax-exempt status are eligible to submit applications, which can be found at

Completed applications will be accepted in one of two ways: mail to United Way of Vance County, P.O. Box 1352, Henderson, NC 27536 or email to

If you have any questions or concerns, please Contact Haithcock at the above email address or phone 252.432.3778 for more information.



Henderson Vance Recreation & Parks

TownTalk: Upcoming Activities At HVRPD

Parents who may be looking for some engaging activities for their children this summer need look no further than the program listings at the Henderson Vance Recreation and Parks Department.

A daylong summer camp begins June 12 and continues through Aug. 11, and HVRPD facilities supervisor said Alisha Shaw said the camp will include field trips, meals and more, all for a weekly fee of $50.

Shaw and colleagues Deanne Brown and Shantal Hargrove were guests on Tuesday’s TownTalk to talk and shared information on programs and events that are happening at Fox Pond Park and Aycock Rec Center this summer.

There’s a free Gridiron program for children ages 7-12 that started May 15, but there’s still time to register, Brown, assistant director of the rec and parks department, said.
This program is focused on conditioning, she said. “That’s the whole purpose of this program – before the fall football starts.” Players and cheerleaders for the Tri-City Seahawks begins in the fall. The registration fee is $40, but parents can apply for a fee waiver. There are several different age divisions; football is for ages 4-12 and cheerleading is for ages 5-12. Registration continues through July 30.

Whether providing a spot for sports teams to practice and play or offering multipurpose rooms for rental to the community, Shaw said the department’s recreational facilities are staying busy.

“We are very busy with Fox Pond rentals at this time,” she said. The shelter rental is brisk and folks are out enjoying the pickle ball courts, trails and other outdoor amenities the park offers.

Hargrove is youth services outreach administrator and she said HVRPD offers structure and programming for children, but they also provide parents with peace of mind that their kids are in a safe, secure location while they’re at work.

“It gives the youth something to do in the summertime,” Hargrove said. “Sports gives them a chance to get back outside…and get some exercise.”

Whether it’s summer camp or being a member of a sports team, young people have a chance to interact with children their own age and meet new people who may attend different schools.

Plus, it gets them off their phones and gets them engaged,” Hargrove said. “It gives their thumbs a break,” she said.

HVRPD is planning a couple of activities for Juneteenth, including a street festival on Saturday, June 17 behind the county courthouse on Rose Avenue. There will be live entertainment, lots of food and product vendors. The festival will be held from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Anyone interested in being a vendor can contact HVRPD. The fee for food vendors is $75; other vendors are $25.

Contact Shaw for more information about the street festival at 252.438.2670.

Hargrove said a Juneteenth Jamboree will be held at Aycock Rec Center on Friday, June 16 for youth ages 14-18. There will be a glow-in-the-dark pool party, as well as a a DJ playing music, food, movies and more, she added.

Register to attend the Jamboree on Friday, May 26. All participants must be enrolled in school and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Contact Darius Pitt at 252.431.6099 to learn more about the Jamboree.

Since 2023 has been designated the Year of the Trail, HVRPD decided to collaborate with Tina Crews and her Visions Educational Learning to create Nature’s Classroom, an interactive program that incorporates hiking trails with education to complete a scavenger hunt along the trails between Fox Pond Park and Aycock Rec Center.

All the recs and parks programs require staffing, and all available positions are listed on the city of Henderson’s webpage at

There are full-time and part-time positions available. Applications are available online and at Aycock Rec Center. Completed paper applications should be turned in to City Hall.




H-V Emergency Operations

TownTalk: Short To Retire As Director Of Emergency Operations

Brian Short, director of Vance County emergency operations, is retiring at the end of May. But you won’t find him on the golf course or puttering around in the yard for very long – he’ll begin a new state job just four days after he turns over his local duties to Vivian Lassiter, who will serve as interim director.

Short and Lassiter were guests on Thursday’s TownTalk segment to talk about the state of emergency operations in the county and what may lie ahead.

“With the exception of being a husband and a father,” Short said, “this is the most important thing I’ll do in my life.” He started out in 1991 as a part-time 911 dispatcher and rose through the ranks to become its director in 1998.

“I’ve got a lot of faith and a lot of pride in this agency,” Short said. Lassiter said she’s been preparing for this new role as interim director and said she feels confident because of the way Short has prepared her.

“Brian’s worked with me one on one…I feel as ready as anyone else. I believe I’ll do fine (but) I’ve got big shoes to fill.”

Short said he always tried to make sure the emergency operations staff was ready to work outside their comfort zones “so they’d be ready to grow and progress when the opportunity presented itself.”

Having the safety and welfare of close to 50,000 people is a heavy burden, he acknowledged, but he has great confidence in the people who run the 911 call centers and everyone else who responds to emergency situations.

“They’re the ones in there on the front lines, making split-second decisions, making the right calls,” he said.

Today’s local 911 dispatchers have the best equipment and technology available, Short said. You may find bigger operations functioning in larger cities, “but you won’t see one with any more or better technology than what we have,” he added. “We try to always be on the cutting edge.”

Lassiter knows all about that technology – she’s currently the acting operations manager for the 911 center and occasionally fills in as a 911 operator when needed.

“I just enjoy saving lives,” she said. And that desire was only heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I wanted to do more,” she said.

She plans to keep the agency running just like it’s running now. “I think the way that we do things and involving the community is the right thing to do,” she said.

CLICK PLAY for TownTalk broadcast with Brian Short and Vivian Lassiter!