In the first full week of the New Year, let us look back at the people and events that shaped the second half of 2019.


By mid-summer Warren County Schools was in the process of reassigning South Warren Elementary School students to Mariam Boyd Elementary School, Northside K-8 School and Vaughan Elementary School after the decision to close South Warren. The school system was also reconfiguring bus routes to accommodate the changes.

The board of education also voted to appoint Dr. Linda Mason, assistant superintendent for curriculum, as acting superintendent until a new superintendent to replace Dr. Ray Spain was named. A couple of weeks later, the board voted to appoint Dr. Mary L. Young as superintendent. She arrived in the county in mid-July.

It was reported that 14 youth completed the first Warren County Fire & Rescue Kids Camp. They learned skills such as dressing and running a fire call, proper use of ladders and knot tying, wilderness rescue, CPR and first aid, using a fire extinguisher, putting out a car fire, extricating a victim from a vehicle, water rescue, safety and working as a team.

It was also reported that youth and adult volunteers with the Christian ministry Servants on Site were busy in Warren and surrounding counties with such projects as constructing roofs and handicapped ramps, and making repairs to homes for people who could not complete the work themselves due to health or financial constraints.

The Warren County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution honoring local veterans who served in the military over the course of the history of the United States.

Bishop Albert Harrison & The Gospel Tones of Manson celebrated their 36th anniversary with a special program.

The Ridgeway Cantaloupe Festival, in its 15th year, again drew a crowd with a day of activities that included the Cantaloupe 5k, music, food, vendors and games.

Warren County Schools did not renew the contract of three employees in order to make up a $343,856 shortfall in its 2019-20 budget. Earlier in the summer, contracts were not renewed for six positions due to budget uncertainties.

The Warren County Board of Education in July adopted a policy that would add driving a school bus to the duties of teacher assistants hired from that point forward. Child nutrition and custodial staff would have the option to drive a bus.

Arianna Long was named Miss Jabberwock, and Ariel Rice was named Little Miss Jabberwock as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority sponsored the 65th Jabberwock Extravaganza.

Jamie Harris of Manson earned a Bachelor of Science, Nursing degree from Western Governors University.

Bill Miller was sworn in as the 74th president of the Rotary Club of Warrenton.

Descendants of Amos and Isabella Jones Talley gathered in Warren County for a family reunion that began on the grounds of “High House,” the plantation where Amos, Isabella and other Talley family members were enslaved. The event provided an opportunity to explore various sites in the area as they celebrated the rise of their ancestors from slavery to freedom.

A brush fire in the Warren Plains community threatened several structures and burned some 20 acres before being brought under control.

Mary J. Perry-Harris celebrated her 83rd birthday with a special trip to New York and South Carolina.

Family and friends of Mildred Fields gathered on July 20 to celebrate her 90th birthday.

After an emotional visit to a slave cemetery on the site of a proposed Manson solar farm, descendants of both the plantation owners and the slaves buried there pledged to work together to preserve the site. In the fall, the descendants of the Bullock family who once owned the plantation and family members of former slave Sally Bullock cleared debris from the cemetery and surrounding area for ground penetrating radar testing and other research with results expected in the early part of the New Year.


It was reported that Samuel Manley of Littleton carried around a Cash 5 ticket worth $160,595 in his pocket for two days and didn’t even realize it. He purchased the ticket at the Bert Ammond Country Café on U.S. 301 in Pleasant Hill. After putting the ticket in his pocket, he forget about it until two days later when he checked it and realized he had won.

It also was reported Warren County native Chalis S. Henderson of Turning Point Community Development Corporation graduated from the N.C. Rural Center’s Economic Development Institute, an intensive, three-month training program designed for rural community leaders.

Jordan Chapel Baptist Church installed the Rev. Carrie Alexander as its pastor.

The Department of Justice announced that it reached a settlement agreement with the Warren County Board of Education that resolved a federal lawsuit brought under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act earlier in the year on behalf of Command Sergeant Major Dwayne Coffer of the Army Reserve. In its complaints, the United States alleged that Warren County violated USERRA by eliminating Coffer’s employment position while he was on active duty with the military, failed to re-employ him in a comparable position when he returned, and demoted him to physical education teacher at a different school instead of reemploying him in a job comparable to that of dean of students. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Coffer was reinstated as dean of students at Warren County Middle School with back pay and benefits.

Dr. Ed Powell, owner of Burwell Farms in Warren County, hosted some 100 people for the summer meeting of the North American Truffle Growers Association. Powell’s efforts to grow truffles on pine trees put the local area on the cutting edge of truffle research and production.

A ceremonial ribbon-cutting in Warrenton marked the addition of two new cell tower sites — one near Warrenton and the other near Lake Gaston — and the arrival in Warren County of FirstNet, a nationwide wireless broadband network designed solely for first responders. The network creates a bandwidth that gives communications by emergency personnel who sign up for the FirstNet service priority over everything else.

It was reported that Warren County-based NC Raptors travel basketball team brought home a championship in its first season by winning the National Exposure Tournament earlier in the summer in Rocky Mount.

Sandra Dick-Perkinson of Paschall graduated with her doctorate in Nursing Practice degree from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz.

Ryan Baskerville of Warrenton, a student at Warren New Tech High School, attended the N.C. Farm Bureau’s Institute for Future Agricultural Leaders Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Vance-Granville Community College formally welcomed its new leader with an inauguration ceremony for Dr. Rachel M. Desmarais, the college’s seventh president.

Norlina Town Board voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Police Chief Greg Hughes, who had been placed on administrative leave with pay on July 29. During the meeting, Mayor Dwight Pearce said that the town board had not asked Hughes to resign, but did not make additional comments. The board voted unanimously to appoint Officer Keishawn Mayes as interim police chief, a position he continued to hold at the end of the year.

The community mourned the loss of Warren County native Col. John Thayer Jenkins, retired commander of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. His career with the state spanned nearly 36 years before his retirement in 1983.

Jesse and Megan Taber opened Drip Coffee and Market in Warrenton.

Caroline Blackwell of Norlina and her horse, Rockin’ Raven, won first place in the Ultimate Trail Horse class she competed in at the ABC Horse Show in Blackstone, Va.

It was reported that Joshua Taylor, son of Ron and Paula Taylor of the Inez community, graduated from North Carolina State University magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Business Management.

Warren County Schools named Northside K-8 School Spanish language immersion program teacher Maria Daal as the school system’s Teacher of the Year. Warren Early College High School Social Studies teacher Bryce Frohlich was named Warren County Schools’ Beginning Teacher of the Year.

Francisco Solano, a Norlina resident, was one of 20 East Carolina University students to be named a Residential Scholar.

Hubbell Lighting of Greenville, S.C., announced the appointment of Craig Allen, who is based in Littleton, to Hubbell as national sale manager of the Whiteway lighting brand.

Lucy R. Branch was the guest of honor at a celebration of her 100th birthday on Aug. 31. Her birthday was Aug. 13.

Stan Brothers of Lake Gaston and Linda Kidd of Norlina made history as they won gold medals during the first French Open Pickleball Championship held in the south of France.

Warren County Health Director Margaret Foster Brake received her Doctor of Health Administration Degree from the College of Health Professions at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.


It was reported that three Warren County youth — Landon Peoples, M.J. Wright and Noah Hilton — had the chance of a lifetime to play in the Cooperstown Dreams Park National Invitation Tournament and were inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.

The North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition awarded the Warren County Health Department the Business Case for Breastfeeding Award honoring companies that support breastfeeding families.

It also was reported that “CBS This Morning,” which airs locally on WNCN Channel 17, named Shanta Fripp, with strong Warren County ties, as its director.

Five of the public schools in Warren County scored performance grades of B and C for the 2018-19 academic year and three scored a grade of D, according to a report released by the State Board of Education/NC Department of Public Instruction.

Warren County Finance Office staff members were recognized by the Warren County Board of Commissioners for the 14th year receiving a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.

Mike and Karen Kelley transformed The Ivy, an 18th century Queen Anne-style bed and breakfast in Warrenton’s historic district, into an English bed and breakfast.

Hollister native Lindell Lynch opened L’s Book Nook: Library/Resource Center in the former Satterwhite’s Grocery on Gibbs Avenue in Hollister.

Warren County native Nitasha Kearney joined N.C. Cooperative Extension as expanded foods and nutrition education program assistant in Warren and Vance counties.

The Lake Gaston Ladies Club honored Mary Purdy for her 90th birthday and Ruth Mamalis for her 100th birthday.

Re-enactors with the 35th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops, joined by the 135th U.S. Colored Troops, provided historic information during the 5th Annual African-American Cultural Festival. The event also featured dramatic storyteller Carolyn Evans portraying Harriet Tubman, a display of historical signs, documents and other artifacts, music and dance.

The Norlina Police Department marked the arrival of four 2019 Dodge Chargers to upgrade the town’s fleet of police vehicles. Norlina obtained the cars through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant/loan.

Warren Plains United Methodist Church celebrated a milestone in its ministry with the dedication of its steeple.

Hawtree Volunteer Fire Department left the 36th Annual Warren County Firemen’s Day competition on Saturday with the trophies for Best All Around Department and Best in Field Events for the third consecutive year.

On Main Southern Eatery & Venue was opened at the corner of Main and Franklin streets in Warrenton by 3MJ Enterprise Group consisting of Warren County natives and Warren County High School graduates Emily McCormick and Ron Judkins, and Andre McNeil of Clayton and Kenyatta Morrisey of Raleigh.

Warren County’s Gamma Chi Chapter of The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International inducted Pattie Rodwell as a new member.

Warren County Manager Vincent Jones shared good wishes and a farewell with Tax Administrator Starlin Beatty during a reception in Beatty’s honor given by the county tax office on Sept. 27. Beatty left Warren County to become deputy tax assessor for Durham County.


Preservation Warrenton hosted All About Town … A Talk Series with presentations focusing on the New Deal Mural at the Warrenton Post Office, the Heritage Quilters, race horse Sir Archie, Vaughan and the Plummer Hook & Ladder Company. The Warren County Arts Council, Preservation Warrenton and Warrenton Postmaster Carrie Brown dedicated a sign recognizing the historical and cultural significance of the New Deal Mural above the postmaster’s door on the inside left wall of the post office.

It was reported that the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe of Hollister was awarded a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation of North Carolina to create artwork in the form of murals and sculptures through the Inclusive Public Arts Program. By the end of the year, a mural was completed at the tribal multipurpose building on Capps Farm Road with work on sculptures underway. Designs for a four-panel mural and sculptures for the tribe’s former council building on Highway 561 were completed before the end of 2019.

Support from Warren County Economic Development, Warrenton and the local community enabled Rhonda Goode to keep King’s Fitness in the former Just Save shopping center in Warrenton open.

The Warren County Board of Commissioners recognized Commissioner Jennifer Jordan Pierce for being named Outstanding County Elected Official in Region K for 2019-20.

A book signing was held at Oakley Hall Antiques for Arlene S. Bice to celebrate the release of “Ghosts Along the Border from the Afterlife,” featuring stories from Warrenton and Southside Virginia of messages from the afterlife and signs sent back to loved ones.

A grand re-opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting at The Colonial Lodge in Warrenton celebrated renovations made to the facility’s 32 units through the North Carolina Affordable Housing Preservation Portfolio.

Members of Pink with a Passion held a fundraising event to increase awareness about breast cancer and help ease the financial burden facing local patients.

Lifestyle store The Scarlet Rooster bid farewell to the downtown Warrenton community after 18 years of operation.

Warrenton Police Chief Goble Lane made a presentation to the daughters of Warrenton’s retired longtime Police Chief Freddie Robinson in recognition of their father’s 38 years of service to the town and its citizens.

The Warren County Committee of the North Carolina Museum of History Associates hosted Warren County Museum Day at Elgin Plantation, circa 1827.

Louisburg native Matthew Place joined the staff of the N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Warren County Center as livestock and field crop agent.

Spring Green Missionary Baptist Church installed the Rev. Sylvester K. Hammie as pastor during a special service.

Warren County residents Linda Kidd, Stan Brothers, Tom Traylor, Susie Deschenes and Ken Steiert brought home medals from pickleball competition at the North Carolina Senior Games.

Adam Fields and Fields Johnson of AF Wake brought back first-place trophies to Lake Gaston from the World Wake Association World Championships in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Vernita “Nana Vee” Terry was planning a Kwanzaa Reunion for The Whole Village Rites of Passage Program to be held in December and was seeking previous program participants to join her in the celebration. The program was rescheduled to the spring.

Kendall Gibbs, a Social Work student at North Carolina State University, received the gift of sight, thanks to the Lake Gaston Lions Club and eSight glasses.

Maurice Ashley, the first African-American international chess grandmaster, visited Warren Early College High School as part of a visit to Warren County as the keynote speaker for the 8th Annual Small Business Summit in Warrenton. In addition to demonstrating his chess skills, Ashley encouraged students to never let any person or any of life’s circumstances convince them that they can’t achieve their dreams.

Warren County Farm Bureau honored retiring North Carolina Farm Bureau president Larry Wooten during its Family Night observance.


The town of Warrenton celebrated the dedication of its newly renovated Town Hall building with a Grand Opening celebration.

The Warren County Home Health Agency celebrated 35 years of providing services to the community with an anniversary observance in early November.

The Municipal Election brought changes to Norlina town government as Dennis Carrington, Charles Smiley, Roger Jackson and Claude O’Hagan were elected to the town board, along with incumbent Tyrone Simes. Wayne Aycock, who ran unopposed, was elected as mayor. Longtime Mayor Dwight Pearce retired from office. Aycock and town board members took the oaths of office during the Norlina Town Board’s December meeting.

Jane Ball-Groom won the third annual Oakley Hall Literary Prize sponsored by Dr. Don Arnold and Ernie Fleming to recognize writers in the greater Warren County region for outstanding contributions to Southern literature and encouragement of Southern writers.

It was reported that Earl King of Warrenton received a certificate and lapel pin in recognition of 50 years as a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason.

The Gamma Chi chapter of The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International for key women educators named Sheila Robertson with the Gamma Chi Rookie of the Year Award for her leadership roles in Gamma Chi since becoming a member in 2016.

Homecoming Kings and Queens were Charlie Alston, Jr. and Anaya Richardson for Warren County High School, Darius Richardson and Zania Kee for Warren Early College High School, and Mr. New Tech Roshene Mills, Jr. and Miss New Tech Shariyahn Bailey for Warren New Tech High School.

A new Christmas tradition continued with the 2nd Annual Farmer’s Christmas at The Old Cotton Gin.

Warrenton Baptist Church hosted a concert by Amalgam Brass in honor of Thurletta Brown-Gavins, organist and choir director, who retired at the end of the year after 28 years of service in those roles.

It was reported that Shawn Russell of Warrenton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Software Development from Western Governors University.

Warren County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Young named Michelle Dunbar, former South Warren Elementary School principal, as principal of Northside K-8 School. Northside’s previous principal Monica Click, was transferred to the position of school district pre-kindergarten/Title I coordinator.

Warren County Memorial Library hosted an author meet and greet with Warren County native Master Sergeant Cedric King, who discussed his first book, “The Making Point: How to Succeed When You’re at Your Breaking Point.” The book documents King’s journey from life-altering injuries suffered during his second tour in Afghanistan into becoming a world-class motivational speaker and endurance athlete.

Warren County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Young identified school system strengths and challenges in a 90-day entry plan report she presented during the board of education’s Nov. 5 meeting.

Representatives of Warrenton town government and the Warrenton Revitalization Committee participated as the North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center held its regional meeting in Warrenton.

Dr. Frank Polakiewicz, who served as an assistant superintendent with Warren County Schools for nearly 10 years, announced his pending retirement in December after a career in education that began in 1969. He retired as the school system’s chief operating officer.

Oakley Hall Antiques & Art, Inc. in Warrenton celebrated 25 years in business by expanding its North Main Street space to 4,000 square feet.

The third annual NAACP Dub-C Rap Fest crowned a new king and queen, Ryan Baskerville and Ah-Shanae Wrenn-Unez, respectively.

Christian Buffaloe, Kyokushin Karate fighter from Warren County, was set to compete in the 12th Kyokushin Karate World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

Warren County was chosen for a historic partnership with a brand known around the world —Research Triangle Park—to develop an entrepreneur center branded as “Frontier Warren, in Partnership with RTP.”

November drew to a close with further action in the cases against Lester Henry Kearney and Kevin Burton Munn delayed until at least January. Both men face charges that include first-degree murder in connection with a deadly home invasion and fire at the Lake Gaston home of John and Nancy Alford in 2018. In November, Judge Henry W. Hight, Jr. granted a request from Kearney’s attorneys to withdraw from the case at Kearney’s request. Hight also denied a motion to allow Munn to withdraw his previous guilty plea in connection with the case. In April 2018, Munn pled guilty to first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Mrs. Alford and of Vance County businessman Tommy Ellington in 2017 in exchange for serving a life sentence instead of facing the death penalty, and testifying in other matters related to the case.

Lake Gaston quilter and author Cathy Wiggins was listed in American Quilt Retailer as one of the top 100 people you should know in the industry in the Fall 2019 Quilt Market Recap Digital Issue.


It was reported that Triangle North Healthcare Foundation awarded health grants to seven area organizations, including Warrenton nonprofit Working Landscapes. The grant would allow the local nonprofit to expand its What’s Growing On program to Granville County. Warren was among the counties that piloted the program and will begin its second year of What’s Growing On in upcoming weeks.

The Warren Artists’ Market celebrated the release of its sixth anthology, “Friendship,” with guest poets reading their poems from the book during its annual year-end celebration.

Christmas events filled the weekend of Dec. 14 and 15 with Prelude to Christmas and the Warren County Christmas Parade on Saturday, and Twas the Lights Before Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting Festival in downtown Norlina on Sunday.

Members of the Warren County Health Department’s management team were recognized during the county commissioners’ December meeting for the department’s recent reaccreditation with honors distinction.

Loaves & Fishes Ministries, Inc. food pantry asked local residents to help their neighbors during the Christmas season and in the winter months through donations of nonperishable foods and monetary contributions.

Taking the oath of office as elected and re-elected members of the Warrenton Town Board were Commissioners Mike Coffman, Travis Packer, Margaret Britt and John Blalock.

The Warren County Memorial Library held a Christmas celebration with a twist as it took a cue from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss to hold “Merry Grinchmas” with activities centered around the exploits of the character who learned to love others with a little help from the Whos of Whoville.

Wise Baptist Church called the Rev. Ricky Lamm of Fuquay-Varina as its pastor. Lamm served as interim pastor for almost a year before beginning his pastoral duties on Dec. 1.

Molly Tucker of Norlina spent the year collecting change lying around wherever her family traveled, compiling more than $86, which she used to help two Warren County children in need have a happier Christmas through Warren County Department of Social Services’ Angel Tree Project.

A report presented during the Warren County Board of Education’s Dec. 10 meeting suggested that the local public school system could lose more than $800,000 in funding to public charter schools during the 2019-20 school year, part of an ongoing trend faced by traditional public school systems in North Carolina and across the country.

The fire district for Roanoke-Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department was expanded to offer fire protection in the area formerly covered by Ebony (Va.) Volunteer Fire Department after the Virginia department failed to come into compliance for more than a year with requirements from the N.C. Office of State Fire Marshal.

Warrenton Mayor Walter Gardner, town and county leaders welcomed new owners of Hardware Café, Aaron Ayscue and Rachel Robertson, during a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Roanoke-Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Lorenzo Wilkins was named the 2019 Person of the Year by the Lake Gaston Community Center.

As the year drew to a close, Warren County government was seeking input from the community on a draft request for proposal for expanding broadband internet service in the area.

Warren County Middle School Principal Tracy Neal was named Warren County Schools’ 2019-20 Principal of the Year, her second such honor in her tenure with the local school system.

The filing period for the spring Primary Election closed with races for every local office. Incumbent Roberta Scott and challenger Joyce Brothers Long filed for the District 3 seat on the board of education. Incumbent Barbara Brayboy and challenger Jennifer D. Sims filed for the board’s District 5 seat. Incumbent Walter E. Powell and challenger Al Cooper, Jr. are running for the Warren County Board of Commissioners’ District 5 seat. Incumbent Jennifer Jordan Pierce filed to retain her District 1 seat on the county board and will be challenged by Stanley C. Jones, Jr. Yvonne Alston filed to retain her seat at Warren County Register of Deeds and will be challenged by Emily Y. Newell.

At the end of December, Norlina hairdresser Carolyn Adcock of Tillie’s Beauty Salon retired after more than 50 years making people look their best. Kendall Barber, who has worked with Adcock at Tillie’s for the past several years, was set to take over ownership of the salon in the New Year.

Norlina Volunteer Fire Department named Senior Firefighter Trevor Tucker as its Firefighter of the Year.

Hawtree Volunteer Fire Department named Assistant Chief James Wright as its Fireman of the Year and Assistant Chief Bruce Perkinson as its First Responder of the Year. Fire Chief Steve Barney honored Lieutenant Gary Paynter with the Chiefs Award.

Jenny O’Meara received the Gammi Chi Rising Star Award for strong potential for successful leadership and will be the chapter’s nominee for the NC DKG Rising Star Award.