Smithfield Herald

January 20, 2014

News Briefs: Jan. 19

After seeing an uptick in the flu in recent weeks, Johnston Health is asking patients and visitors to take precautions.

Hospital makes flu plea

After seeing an uptick in the flu in recent weeks, Johnston Health is asking patients and visitors to take precautions.

“We’re asking people to use the tissues and masks, as needed, at the cough etiquette stations when they visit our hospital and outlying clinics,” said Ronnie Syverson, infection-prevention specialist for Johnston Health. “Also, we’re asking people who have flu-like symptoms, such as fever, coughs, sneezing and runny noses, to refrain from visiting patients in the hospital.”

“To prevent the spread of flu and other viruses, it’s a good idea to stay at home if you have these symptoms,” he added.

Syverson said the hospital’s lab has confirmed more than 30 cases of the flu in the past three weeks.

State to replace Shoeheel bridge

A series of 12 bridge replacements designed to improve Johnston County’s transportation infrastructure will continue this week as crews begin replacing the sixth bridge in the project.

On Monday, Jan. 20, the N.C. Department of Transportation closed a section of Shoeheel Road north of Selma so S.T. Wooten Corp. of Wilson can replace the bridge over Buffalo Creek closest to Browns Pond Road. The bridge is scheduled to reopen May 14, weather permitting.

The bridge, which was built in 1954, is classified as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. This means it has remained safe for use but is in deteriorating condition and needs to be replaced. The bridge was also built to design standards that are no longer in use.

Shoeheel Road will be closed to traffic with a signed detour in place. Through traffic will use Hatcher Road, N.C. 39 and Browns Pond Road to travel around the construction site. Local traffic will be able to use Shoeheel Road but will not be able to cross the bridge.

Bizzel appointed to task force

Gov. Pat McCrory has named Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell to the N.C. Statewide Impaired Driving Task Force. Bizzel has been Johnston County’s sheriff since 1988. He serves on the board of the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association.

Brinson to run for commissioner

Chad Stewart, who replaced his late father on the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, will face at least one primary challenger in his bid for reelection.

Keith Brinson of Princeton, an insurance agent, announced this past week that he will seek the District 3 seat held by Stewart.

“As a county commissioner, my top priorities will be promoting economic growth, ensuring that we have adequate infrastructure, ensuring that our citizens’ tax dollars are spent wisely and fighting to keep property taxes as low as possible,” Brinson said. “Johnston County has a top-notch economic-development team, and I look forward to working with them to promote our county and attract jobs for our citizens.”

“I will bring a fresh perspective to the board,” Brinson added. “I am an independent thinker, and I am not afraid to ask tough questions that no one else wants to ask. When elected, I will not be beholden to anyone but the taxpayers of Johnston County. While our current board has done a lot of good things, we can always find ways to improve, and that requires someone who is not afraid to challenge the status quo.”

Rabin will run again

N.C. Sen. Ronald Rabin has announced that he will seek re-election. The Harnett County Republican represents Senate District 12, which includes part of Johnston County.

During the General Assembly’s latest session, Rabin hosted 15 town hall meetings to promote an understanding of the issues and answer questions about legislation.

“I have always believed that the only way to do my job as your senator is for me to be in constant communication with the people that elected me,” Rabin said. “I plan to host just as many town hall meetings across our district in 2014.”

Rabin said the General Assembly focused on jobs and the economy this past session by working to create a business-friendly environment.

“I have a proven record of fighting for the 12th District and our state, and I humbly ask that you allow me to continue to work hard for you in the North Carolina General Assembly,” he said.

DOT seeks input

The N.C. Department of Transportation wants to hear North Carolinians’ transportation priorities as it moves to implement the state’s new Strategic Transportation Investments law.

Signed into law by Gov. McCrory last summer, House Bill 817 allows the DOT to make more efficient use of existing revenue to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure, create jobs and help boost the economy.

The law establishes the Strategic Mobility Formula, a data-driven approach to funding transportation improvements while still addressing local needs.

In the coming weeks, the DOT’s 14 transportation divisions will submit their top transportation priorities to compete for funding with other transportation improvements across the state. Residents can take part in the process by making their suggestions during a comment period that runs through Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Each transportation division will host a public open house to meet with local residents and obtain feedback on transportation priorities. In Division Four, which includes Johnston County, the open house will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Wilson Agricultural Center, 1806 SW Goldsboro St., Wilson.

In addition, written comments can be submitted via email to Jimmy Eatmon at or by regular mail to NCDOT Division Four, Attention: STI, 509 Ward Blvd., Wilson, N.C. 27895. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. Feb. 12.

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