Johnston County

Commissioner mum on eminent domain for CSX

Johnston County Library Director Margaret Marshall updates commissioners on grants awarded to the library system at the board’s meeting Monday.
Johnston County Library Director Margaret Marshall updates commissioners on grants awarded to the library system at the board’s meeting Monday. abennett@newsobserver.com

People who live in and around Four Oaks, Micro and Selma fear a CSX cargo-container hub would forever change their communities.

And those people have made their fears – and displeasure – known to town leaders, county commissioners and state officials.

The most recent target of their ire was County Commissioners Chairman Tony Braswell, who found himself in the cross-hairs at his board’s meeting last week.

When asked if he supported the use of eminent domain to build a hub near Four Oaks, Braswell declined to stake himself out.

“I can’t speculate,” he said. “I know of no project in Four Oaks. I can’t speculate on something that may or may not happen. There has been nothing before this board.”

“It’s not important how I feel about it,” Braswell continued. “I think I’m on record for what I said down in the Micro area. But I’m not going to speculate on anything that may or may not happen.”

In Micro and Selma, Braswell and his fellow commissioners withdrew their support for a CSX hub there after property owners complained.

At last week’s commissioners’ meeting, Jennifer Liverman of Selma wanted to know if Braswell was similarly sympathetic to property owners in and around Four Oaks.

He didn’t take the bait.

“I know what you’re trying to pin me down to say, and you’re not going to get it,” Braswell said. “This is a big county. We spoke to a specific situation that was before the board. ... We have nothing before the county commissioners to speak to.”

Commissioners did not handle any CSX business at their meeting last week, but they did hear several presentations.

Among the presenters was Margaret Marshall, director of the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield. She talked about a couple of grants the library had received.

One of the grants – $43,200 for literacy efforts – purchased 90 books, five interactive whiteboards, two iPads and a file cabinet to store the iPads.

A second grant, for $54,762, will help pay for the county’s migration to the statewide Cardinal library system, which will give Johnston library users access to more than 5.5 million items.

Johnston County will go live with the Cardinal system on May 19, becoming the 27th library system in the state to join. Once part of the system, Johnston County patrons will be able to borrow items from any library in the system and have the materials delivered to Johnston.

Also, Johnston patrons will be able to use their local library card at any participating library in the state.

A heads-up to Johnston library patrons: Because of the migration to Cardinal on May 19, Johnston libraries will limit checkouts May 16-18,

“We look forward to being part of this statewide initiative, bringing so many new materials and opening the doors to the people of Johnston County to so much more,” Marshall said.

Also last week, commissioners:

▪  Agreed to acquire two cell-phone towers from Verizon Wireless for a total of $20. The county will use the towers as 911 C repeater sites.

▪  Approved the 50-210 Fire Department’s request for tax-exempt loan. The department plans to borrow $1.2 million to finance construction of third fire station.

▪  Agreed to seek a grant to help pay for water-system improvements related to Novo Nordisk’s planned expansion.

Abbie Bennett: 919-553-7234, Ext. 101; @AbbieRBennett

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