VGCC Graduates 15 Cadets in 108th Basic Law Enforcement Training Class

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Fifteen cadets graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program at Vance-Granville Community College in a ceremony held May 14 in the Civic Center on the college’s Main Campus. After passing the state certification exam, all are authorized to work in any law enforcement agency in North Carolina.

Above: On front row, from left: graduates Kevin Allen, Taylor Inscoe, Zachary Long and the college’s interim director of Law Enforcement Training/BLET, Glen Boyd; on second row, from left: graduates Maggie Cabiness, Jonathan Kearney, Jeremy Moore, Zachary Workman and Seth Hodge; and on back row, from left: graduates Gina Chappell, Daniel Allen, Michael Bader, Andrew Spitzer, Jake Coleman, Sabrina Hoyle and Emma Britt. (VGCC Photo)

Honored as members of VGCC’s 108th BLET class were: Emma Carey Britt and Andrew Ronald Spitzer, both of Butner Public Safety; Jeremy Dale Moore and Zachary Lance Workman, both of the Granville County Sheriff’s Office; Jake Matthew Coleman and Sabrina Edward Hoyle, both of the Henderson Police Department; Seth Thomas Hodge of the N.C. Division of Parks & Recreation; Daniel Marquis Allen, Michael James Bader and Gina Christine Chappell, all of the Oxford Police Department; Kevin Ward Allen, Taylor Nicole Inscoe and Zachary Thomas Long, all of the Vance County Sheriff’s Office; Maggie Rena Cabiness and Jonathan Shawn Kearney, both of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

The class was exceptional in at least two major ways. First, all 15 cadets who began the program successfully graduated, marking a rare 100-percent completion rate for the rigorous 16 weeks of training. Second, each member of the class was employed by a law enforcement agency by the day of their graduation.

Speaking as leader of the class, Cadet Seth Hodge thanked all the graduates’ family members and friends in attendance for their support. He added that the class had learned a great deal about teamwork. “We as a group of strangers decided on this path together, and we were tasked to complete our first major hurdle in our careers together,” Hodge said. Learning to trust one another, he said the team had then become a family. “And no matter where our lives take us from here, no matter the badge or uniform we wear, I want you to always remember just what we are: family,” he added.

VGCC Campus Police Chief Sean Newton, representing the program’s many instructors, was chosen by the cadets as the keynote speaker for their graduation. He congratulated the cadets on the completion of “a long, hard journey.”

Newton reminded the new law enforcement professionals that they would be taking an “oath of honor” to uphold and protect the Constitution, their community and their agency.

“The first thing you will uphold is the Constitution,” Newton said. “You’re taking an oath to protect the rights of all people of our state and country: the victims of crimes, the general public, and those accused of crimes. In my opinion, there is no greater responsibility than this.”

Second, they will pledge to uphold their community. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to embrace and include the community in your law enforcement efforts,” Newton said. “We’ve seen a reported breakdown between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Some of it is unfortunately true, while some may be exaggerated by social media or certain biases. Regardless of the reason, we must, as members of the law enforcement community, constantly strive to better these relationships.”

Finally, he said, graduates will swear an oath to the agencies they serve. “I would like to add all law enforcement officers in general to that category,” Newton said. “Always remember, you won’t be the only officer judged by your actions; every other officer in the country will be, too. No other profession is scrutinized as much as law enforcement, and rightfully so.”

The police chief called on graduates to think carefully about the words in their oath and remember them as they start their careers. “How you embrace these words will determine how successful your career will be,” Newton said.

Glen Boyd, interim director of Law Enforcement programs and BLET at VGCC, presented awards to several students. Kevin Allen took home the Academic Achievement Award for having the top grade average in the written tests each cadet must pass. Seth Hodge earned the Physical Fitness Award for scoring highest in the various fitness tests the cadets undergo during physical training. Michael Bader won the “Top Gun” Award for having the highest accuracy score in firearms qualification.

For more information on the BLET program, contact Glen Boyd at [email protected].

Kittrell Resident Arrested on Felony Drug, Weapon Charges

-Press Release, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office

On May 16, 2019, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit arrested Franklin County resident, Kwarshon Rakim White of 1090 Walter Grissom Road, Kittrell, NC, on felony drug and weapon charges. The arrest was the result of citizen complaints and information provided to the Sheriff’s Office which alleged White was involved in illegal drug sells in Franklin County.

On May 16, 2019, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit arrested Franklin County resident, Kwarshon Rakim White of 1090 Walter Grissom Road, Kittrell, NC, on felony drug and weapon charges. (Photo courtesy FCSO)

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit opened an investigation into White’s activities and was able to validate the information provided. The investigation concluded with a vehicle stop and the arrest of Kwarshon Rakim White on Walter Grissom Road, Kittrell, NC. Detectives seized 90 bindles of Heroin, Marijuana, one 9mm handgun, US Currency and a 2002 Lexus LS430 vehicle during the arrest.

Sheriff Kent Winstead stated, “The citizens of Franklin County continue to be proactive and observant in their neighborhoods and once again, their assistance has proven to be important to the success of our mission. We will continue to aggressively pursue those who choose to poison our communities with these illegal drugs.”

Kwarshon Rakim White was placed in the Franklin County Detention Center under a $200,000 secured bond.

Kwarshon Rakim White DOB: 02/27/1991

1090 Walter Grissom Road Kittrell, NC 27544

Kwarshon Rakim White was charged with: four (4) counts of Possess with intent to sell and deliver a Controlled Substance, three (3) counts of sell and Deliver a Schedule I Controlled Substance (Heroin), four (4) counts of Maintain a vehicle for the purpose of storing/selling a Controlled Substance, and Possession of a firearm by a felon.

For more information concerning this investigation or to report drug activity in your neighborhood, please contact Sgt. Ken Pike at (919) 496-2186.

Terry M. Wright Chief of Staff

Community Workforce Solutions Helps Disabled Find Employment, Independence

Sandra Waverly, job coach with Community Workforce Solutions, Inc. (CWS) in Henderson, was the guest of honor on Thursday’s edition of WIZS’ Town Talk program.

Founded in 1964, CWS is a private non-profit organization located at 602 S. Garnett Street in downtown Henderson. Formerly known as Raleigh Vocational Center, Inc., the organization changed its name to Community Workforce Solutions in 2007.

“The building doesn’t look the way it did back then, but a lot of people like to come by and tour the place. Some say they worked there 50 years ago and want to see the building,” said Waverly.

In 2004, three years prior to its name change, the organization assumed operation of INCO.

“For over 50 years, Community Workforce Solutions has been serving the community by providing training and placement services to adults with disabilities and other barriers to employment,” Waverly said.

By partnering with community organizations and employers in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties, Waverly said CWS assumes the dual role of supporting the individual and the business that hires them.

“When you hire the individual, you hire us as well. We support them with whatever they need to get the job done. It’s a win-win for the employer because they are getting a quality employee and a support staff.”

Waverly estimated that the organization currently partners with 50-60 local businesses and has 60-70 former employees on an active, long-term list that is monitored twice monthly by a long-term coach.

While employee pay begins at minimum wage, Waverly reported that several workers now receive $12 – $15 an hour, with all paychecks going directly to the individual.

To assist with the payment of wages and the training mechanism, CWS operates a thrift store, also at the 602 S. Garnett St. address.

“We offer clothes ranging from .75 cents to $7, household items and more, and we always need donations,” said Waverly. “We will help you unload it and give you a tax form if needed.”

Brunch and Learn Event

CWS is sponsoring a “Brunch & Learn” event this Friday, May 17, 2019, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at their Garnett St. location.

According to Waverly, the purpose of the event is to educate attendees on the services CWS offers and to connect employers with community partners. All local employers are encouraged to attend.

For more information on the brunch event, contact Rahesha Medina at (252) 572-8322 or [email protected].

To listen to the Town Talk interview with Sandra Waverly in its entirety, click here.

VGCC Pins 2019 Associate Degree Nursing Graduates

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College recognized 37 students who graduated this spring from the Associate Degree Nursing program with a pinning ceremony in the college’s Civic Center on May 8.

Among those honored with distinctive nursing pins at the ceremonies were nine who graduated through the LPN to ADN Transition Program, which helps Licensed Practical Nurses to continue their education and then become Registered Nurses. Those graduates were: Lakeisha Scott of Bullock; Catherine Bullock of Butner; Lilian Schleifer of Cary; Christine Atieno of Durham; Frances Beddingfield, Joseane Buckley, Teresa Coley and Wanda Davis, all of Oxford; and Leslie Judd of Raleigh.

Above: members of the 2019 Associate Degree Nursing class at Vance-Granville Community College who received their nursing pins on May 8 included, on front row, from left: Ashton Hobgood, Lakeisha Scott, Rachel Munson, Chelsea Ray; Frances Beddingfield, Emily Padgett and Katie Lee; second row, from left: Michelle Madison, Abigayle Edwards, Rhonda Williamson, Catherine Bullock, Hellen Mbuya, Wanda Davis and Melissa Ramos; third row, from left: Joseane Buckley, Keyona Bullock, Ashley Flynn, Vanna Farrar, Teresa Coley, Tuesday Mathews, Jessica Honhart and Maritza Vazquez; fourth row, from left: Leslie Judd, Phylicia Wimbush, Allison Stell, Shanae Rhoades, Takera Green, Angela Talam and Caitlin Pernell; back row, from left: Kaylin Gibson, Moses Onchonga, Tyler Thorp, Ashley Sawyer, James Temple, Brandon Smith and Christine Atieno; not pictured: Lilian Schleifer. (VGCC Photo)

The graduates who took courses in the traditional five-semester sequence included: Tuesday Mathews of Angier; James Temple and Rhonda Williamson, both of Bullock; Emily Padgett of Butner; Kaylin Gibson of Creedmoor; Takera Green and Moses Onchonga, both of Durham; Vanna Farrar and Ashley Sawyer, both of Franklinton; Katie Lee, Allison Stell, Tyler Thorp and Phylicia Wimbush, all of Henderson;

Keyona Bullock, Jessica Honhart, Rachel Munson, Caitlin Pernell and Chelsea Ray, all of Louisburg;

Ashton Hobgood, Hellen Mbuya and Shanae Rhoades, all of Oxford; Abigayle Edwards, Angela Talam and Maritza Vazquez, all of Raleigh; Michelle Madison of Selma; Ashley Flynn and Brandon Smith, both of Wake Forest; and Melissa Ramos of Warrenton.

Welcoming remarks for the ceremony were offered by Dr. Rachel Desmarais, VGCC President; Dr. Anna Seaman, Associate Degree Nursing Program Head; and Ashton Hobgood, president of the graduating class of 2019.

Academic honors were presented to graduates who completed the program with at least a 3.5 grade point average: Angela Talam, and Tyler Thorp, who was recognized for having the highest GPA in the class.

Cords were presented to students who participated as members of the National Student Nurses Association, which sponsors community service projects and professional development. These students included Bullock, Coley, Davis, Farrar, Flynn, Gibson, Hobgood, Honhart, Mathews, Munson, Padgett, Pernell, Ray, Rhoades, Sawyer, Smith, Stell, Talam and Thorp.

Instructor Brande McIlroy described the significance of the nursing pin. The unique green and gold pin identifies each nurse as a VGCC graduate and indicates that the graduate has the training and competence to serve as a professional nurse. During the ceremony, graduates were pinned by Dr. Anna Seaman and received lamps from instructor Patsy Pegram. Meanwhile, Nursing Department Chair Erica Jastrow read their biographies.

After all graduates had received pins, the lights in the Civic Center were lowered, and instructor Crystal Senter led students in reciting the “Nursing Pledge” by lamplight.

VGCC Honors Radiography Graduates at Pinning Ceremony 

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Twenty-two new graduates of Vance-Granville Community College’s two-year Radiography program were honored in a May 6 pinning ceremony in the college’s Civic Center.

The Radiography Class of 2019 included Frantz Alexis, Jr., of Chapel Hill; Shanice D. Alleyne, Karene Anderson, Matthew Battistel, Kristen Bowman, Starsha M. Hargrove and Dwayne Huneycutt, all of Creedmoor; Allison Weaver Wiggins of Franklinton; Samantha Pierce and Paige Snider, both of Garner; Brooklyn Rooker and Ashley Bobbitt Ward, both of Henderson; Angela Basili of Hillsborough; Shayla A. Cash and Dulce Santillan, both of Louisburg; Megan Irene Proctor of Macon; Crystal Sorrell and Megan Whitman, both of Oxford; Rubi Judith Coyote Baizabal, Celeste Evans and Treva Gordan, all of Roxboro; and Marina Rombout of Stem.

Above: members of the 2019 Radiography graduating class at Vance-Granville Community College who received their pins May 6 included, on the front row, from left: Marina Rombout, Megan Whitman, Angela Basili, Shanice Alleyne, Shayla Cash, Treva Gordan and Brooklyn Rooker; second row, from left: Ashley Ward, Paige Snider, Samantha Pierce, Dulce Santillan, Crystal Sorrell and Rubi Coyote; third row, from left: Karene Anderson, Matthew Battistel, Dwayne Huneycutt, Allison Wiggins and Kristen Bowman; back row, from left: Megan Proctor, Starsha Hargrove, Frantz Alexis and Celeste Evans. (VGCC Photo)

Angela M. Thomas, the Dean of Health Sciences/ Interim Program Head for Radiography, presided over the ceremony. She encouraged students to “love what you do or you will not give it your best; enhance your passion for giving and dream bigger than Disney World.” The ceremony featured live entertainment by Detroit Yancey, an Oxford native, who sang “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Lewis Daughtry, Jr., one of the instructors for the program. He advised the students, “Do not think future opportunities are going to stop and wait for you. You must be ready.”

Rubi Judith Coyote Baizabal gave an address in response on behalf of her classmates. A Dean’s List student and Phi Theta Kappa inductee, she has served as one of her program’s representatives in the VGCC Student Government Association.

“Remember, do not bury your failures, let them inspire you,” Baizabal told her fellow students.

Lindsay Hinkle from the VA Medical Center in Durham was chosen by the graduating students to receive the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) Certificate of Excellence for Clinical Educators. The students voted for Tabitha Owens from EmergeOrtho William Penn Plaza in Durham as the top technologist at the clinical sites in which they received their 900 hours of practical training, while the Clinical Affiliate Award of Excellence went to the EmergeOrtho William Penn Plaza in Durham.

Receiving the JRCERT Certificate of Excellence for Students was Megan Whitman, who also received the VGCC Radiography Academic Award. In a first-ever tie, the VGCC Radiography Clinical Excellence Award was presented to two students, Megan Proctor and Brooklyn Rooker.

Instructor Anthony Twisdale shared the history of the Radiographer’s Pin before he and Angela Thomas awarded the pins to each graduate. Thomas led the graduates in reciting the Radiographer’s Pledge as the ceremonies concluded.

Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers to Perform at McGregor Hall – June 9

-Information courtesy McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center

The McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center will feature The Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers on Sunday, June 9, 2019. Show starts at 2 p.m.

A Part of the Music at McGregor Series

The Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers, founded in 1998 by Joel F. Reed, promote choral artistry by modeling the highest quality choral standard and performing a breadth of literature, including music from the southern Appalachian region.

The McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center will feature The Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers on Sunday, June 9, 2019. Show starts at 2 p.m. Photo courtesy the McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center.

The Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers are currently 25 singers who rehearse monthly in preparation for the ensemble’s performances. Many of the members are professional musicians, working in public and private schools, colleges and churches. Others are professionals from the business and medical communities who reside in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, and are, for the most part, alumni and retired faculty of Mars Hill University.

The ensemble has performed regularly in the North and South Carolina areas including conferences of North Carolina American Choral Directors Association and National Association for Music Education.

Tickets may be purchased by:

DROP IN: 201 Breckenridge Street, Henderson, N.C. Monday – Friday 1:30 – 5:30 p.m

CALL: (252) 598-0662 (M-F 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.)

CLICK HERE:  (Use the eTix official site, online fees apply)

(This is not a paid advertisement)

Make Plans to Attend the Got to Be NC Festival, May 17-19

-Press Release, NCDA&CS

With more than 100 tractors, North Carolina food and beverages, music, a carnival and kids’ activities, the Got to Be NC Festival promises to be a not-to-be-missed event at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, May 17-19, 2019.

“The antique tractor and farm equipment display, featuring a daily tractor parade, and the Food Lion Local Goodness Marketplace are two of the unique highlights of the festival,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We have one of the largest antique tractor displays in the Southeast, and the marketplace features around 80 North Carolina companies offering the opportunity to sample the delicious food and beverage products they offer.”

Hours for the Food Lion Local Goodness Marketplace are Friday from noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $3.

Visitors can see and hear tractors parade around the fairgrounds each day at 1 p.m., with all makes, ages and restorations of tractors featured.

New entertainment this year includes Danny Grant’s Cowboy Circus & The Soap Bubble Circus, both roving grounds acts; and a Feeder Pig display at the Pig Patch Birthing Center. Returning favorites are the racing pigs of the Hogway Speedway, Lauryn Zepeda with Gringo the Trick Pony, Ready, Set, Grow! Agri-tainment Magic Show, the Pig Patch birthing center, Agri-plaza, tractor pulls and the Kidz Corral activity area.

Tractor pull events are planned for Saturday and Sunday. A Kids’ Pedal Tractor Pull will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, with the Antique Tractor Pull later from 2 to 8 p.m. A Garden Tractor and Lawnmower Pull will be held Sunday from 2 to 8 p.m.

The carnival features one price, ride-all-day wristbands on Friday and Sunday. Cost is $20 for wristbands. In addition, a fireworks show will be held Friday and Saturday at 9:15 p.m.

On May 18, the festival will host the Carolina Bluegrass Battle. Traditional and contemporary bluegrass bands will compete for bragging rights and prizes. Also on May 18, the 14th Annual Masonic Carolina Pig Jig BBQ Cook-off will be held, with more than 20 Masonic chapters competing for top honors. At 11 a.m., the event opens to the public for an all-you-care-to-eat barbecue buffet. Guests make their way through the line-up of competition cookers to sample different styles and vote for their favorite. Cost is $15 for adults, $5 for ages 7-10 and free for kids 6 and under. Proceeds from the cookoff benefit the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford.

If you are planning to attend the 2019 State Fair, you can take advantage of the Casey’s Big Ticket Weekend offer and buy 2019 State Fair tickets for 2018 prices. Tickets are being sold at the Waterfall ticket booth. Cost is $8 for adults and $3 for children. Prices at the gate for 2019 will be $13 for adults and $7 for kids.

Festival hours are Friday, May 17, from noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, May 19, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission and parking are free. More information is available at

Local Chambers Recognize 2018 Small Business of the Year Recipients

The Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce, along with the Franklin, Granville and Warren County Chambers and the Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center, hosted the seventeenth annual Small Business Luncheon at the Henderson Country Club on Thursday, May 9, 2019.

The 2018 Small Business of the Year award recipients included Holland Industrial, Vance County; US 98.3/Lakes Media LLC, Granville County; Focus Design Builders, Franklin County; and Hardware Café, Warren County.

Holland Industrial receives the 2018 Vance County Small Business of the Year award. Left to right: Patrick Brame, Bobby Powell, Charles “Charlie” Brown and Vanessa Jones, interim president, Henderson-Vance Chamber. (WIZS photo)

Duke Energy was once again the presenting sponsor for this event. Tanya Evans, district manager for Duke Energy, thanked the small business owners and staff members for their contributions to the community and for their level of commitment.

“As a small business owner, you don’t get to turn it off at 5 p.m. and go home. This is a way of life for you and takes dedication and commitment,” Evans said.

Keynote speaker John Alston, owner of A&S Pest Control and winner of the Warren County Chamber’s 2008 Small Business of the Year award, spoke on his 42 years of success as a local small business owner.

“Success is not about how much money you make, it’s about the relationships you form and your enjoyment of the job you are doing,” Alston explained.

Alston said he felt blessed to have started a company that allows him to do what he enjoys while also providing financially for other families.

After hearing from Alston, Vanessa Jones, interim president of the Henderson-Vance Chamber, presented the 2018 Vance County award to electric motor and mechanical repair facility Holland Industrial.

Focus Design Builders receives the 2018 Greater Franklin County Small Business of the Year award. Left to right: Jonathan Williams, Paul Eitel and John Barnes, executive director, Greater Franklin Chamber. (WIZS photo)

Located on West Montgomery Street in Henderson, the “employee-owned” company was started by Charles S. Holland, Sr. in 1952 and has expanded to include 35 employees and a 150-mile sales territory today.

Now in its third generation of management, Holland President Charles “Charlie” Brown thanked the Chamber for their support and said he hopes Holland will be around to celebrate their 100th anniversary in a few decades.

John Barnes, executive director for the Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, presented the Franklin County award to Focus Design Builders, a construction-based company offering a single point of contact for design and construction services.

Founded in 2010 during an ebb in the construction industry, CEO Paul Eitel said it was faith that prompted him and his two business partners to start a construction business.

Three months into the business with $8 million in sales, Eitel said that faith paid off. The company now estimates 300-400 families benefit from the revenue generated by their small business alone.

Jonathan Williams, project developer for Focus Design Builders, also mentioned the education he received at Vance-Granville Community College before transferring to a four-year university.

US 98.3/Lakes Media LLC receives the 2018 Franklin County Small Business of the Year award. Left to right: Aurora Birch, Tom Birch and Sandra Dean Pruitt, president of Granville Insurance Agency. (WIZS Photo)

“I’m proof that you can receive a quality education here locally,” Williams said in support of VGCC.

Granville County’s award recipient, US 98.3/Lakes Media LLC was presented their award by Sandra Dean Pruitt, president of Granville Insurance Agency.

Tom Birch, president, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. Launched in Oxford in 2005 and expanding to South Boston in 2006, Birch said the station has approximately 45,000 listeners today.

Birch also proclaimed that “radio is alive and well” and is still the most effective medium of all reach platforms, including television, in the constantly-evolving communications game.

Warren County Chamber Chair Kathleen Derring presented the Warren County award to Hardware Café manager Haley Paynter.

Hardware Cafe receives the 2018 Warren County Small Business of the Year award. Left to right: Haley Paynter and Kathleen Derring, chair of Warren Chamber. (WIZS Photo).

Located in downtown Warrenton, the previous hardware store, now affectionately known by locals as the “red and black” café, has quite the history, including a recent change in management with Paynter at the helm.

Derring said this award was “a long time coming” for the Hardware Café and explained that as a small business owner herself, she knew that loving what you do is essential for success.

Held in conjunction with National Small Business Week, the annual luncheon highlighted and supported what Henderson-Vance Chamber Chair Nancy Wykle referred to as “the backbone of our community and our economy both nationally and locally, small business.”

New VGCC President to Address Graduates as College Celebrates 50 Years

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Dr. Rachel Desmarais, who earlier this year became the seventh president of Vance-Granville Community College, will serve as the principal commencement speaker for the college’s graduation exercises on Friday, May 10, 2019. As VGCC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Desmarais follows in the footsteps of the school’s first president, Dr. Donald Mohorn, who was the commencement speaker at the first such ceremony, back in 1970.

Dr. Rachel Desmarais, who earlier this year became the seventh president of Vance-Granville Community College, will serve as the principal commencement speaker for the college’s graduation exercises on Friday, May 10, 2019. (VGCC Photo)

Jose Angel De Leon of Henderson, president of the VGCC Student Government Association, will be the student speaker.

Nearly 500 students are scheduled to be honored during ceremonies beginning at 6 p.m. at the gazebo by the lake on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County. For those unable to attend the event in person, VGCC will broadcast a live video feed from the ceremony online on its YouTube channel (

The VGCC Board of Trustees selected Dr. Desmarais to become the college president in December 2018, while she was serving as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Forsyth Technical Community College.

Once a student at Forsyth Tech, Desmarais became an adjunct instructor at the community college from 1996 to 1999 while also working in the private sector. She joined Forsyth Tech full-time in 2002 and served in a variety of academic and administrative roles over the next 16 years.

Jose Angel De Leon of Henderson, president of the VGCC Student Government Association, will be the student speaker. (VGCC Photo)

Desmarais earned her doctorate of philosophy in instructional design and technology from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., in 2015 after getting her master’s of science in information technology management from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2003. She earned a bachelor of music degree in voice performance from Mars Hill College in 1992.

She was also among fewer than 40 aspiring and emerging community college presidents nationwide who were chosen for the Aspen Institute Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence in 2017-2018.

De Leon is graduating from VGCC with a degree in Criminal Justice Technology. A graduate of Norlina Christian School, he has earned Dean’s List and President’s List honors at the college and has been inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

De Leon plans to continue his education at North Carolina Central University, where he will complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. His long-term plan is to earn his Ph.D. in criminal justice or criminology and become a college professor.

Students serving as graduation marshals will be Caroline Williamson of Bullock; Ebony Cotton of Franklinton; Hannah Edwards, Evin Swilley, April Zuniga-Trejo and Leslie Zuniga-Trejo, all of Henderson; Gricel Arroyo of Louisburg; Miranda Brown of Oxford; Rana Alashmali of Timberlake; and Ronnie Brodie, Jr., of Wake Forest.


April Zuniga-Trejo of Henderson

Caroline Williamson of Bullock

Ebony Cotton of Franklinton

Evin Swilley of Henderson

Gricel Arroyo of Louisburg

Hannah Edwards of Henderson

Leslie Zuniga-Trejo of Henderson

Miranda Brown of Oxford

Rana Alashmali – Timberlake

Ronnie Brodie, Jr., of Wake Forest

DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day Declared Big Success

-Press Release, U.S. Dept. of Justice

United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announces the results of the DEA April 27, 2019, 17th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Nationwide, DEA, along with their law enforcement partners collected nearly 469 tons of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. In the Eastern District of North Carolina, approximately 7,229.92 pounds were collected and 8,968 pounds were collected statewide.

“Across the country and here in the Eastern District of North Carolina, we are facing a real and dangerous threat from opioids and other prescription drugs,” said United States Attorney Higdon. “We have unprecedented levels of addiction, frightening numbers of overdoses, and an alarming number of deaths because of the over-prescription and improper use of these drugs. This requires each of us to work to solve it. By properly disposing of prescription medication we do not need, we can reduce the risk that these drugs will fall into the wrong hands.”

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose. Some painkiller abusers move on to heroin: Four out of five new heroin users started with painkillers.

Flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash pose potential safety and health hazards. This initiative addresses the public safety and public health issues that surround medications languishing in home cabinets, becoming highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.

DEA’s next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is October 26, 2019.

For complete results of the recently concluded Spring Take Back Day visit If you missed the Take Back Day click here to locate an authorized collector in your area.