Mayor BJ Murphy and City Manager Tony Sears took the ALS Ice Bucket challenge after Mr. Cow from Chick-fil-A of Kinston challenged us!
Mayor BJ Murphy and City Manager Tony Sears took the ALS Ice Bucket challenge after Mr. Cow from Chick-fil-A of Kinston challenged us!
Six years before he became our nation’s first President, George Washington offered this prayer to the Governors of the first 13 states. Today, during our Chamber’s Legislative Breakfast I read the following asking everyone to bow their heads for the last paragraph.
The Prayer below was written by Washington at Newburgh, New York, at the close of the Revolutionary War on June 14, 1783. It was sent to the thirteen governors of the newly freed states in a “Circular Letter Addressed to the Governors of all the States on the Disbanding of the Army.”
I have thus freely declared what I wished to make known, before I surrendered up my public trust to those who committed it to me. The task is now accomplished. I now bid adieu to your Excellency, as the chief magistrate of your State, at the same time I bid a last farewell to the cares of office and all the employments of public life.
It remains, then, to be my final and only request that your Excellency will communicate these sentiments to your legislature at their next meeting, and that they may be considered the legacy of one, who has ardently wished, on all occasions, to be useful to his country, and who, even in the shade of retirement, will not fail to implore the divine benediction on it.
I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for brethren who have served in the field; and finally that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.
“North Carolina’s Distressed Urban Tracts,” by the Center for Urban & Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recently referred to the “Neighborhood or Area” of “East Kinston” as being the number one most distressed rural tract in North Carolina. The city of Kinston has already been working on demolishing blighted properties, collaborating with UNC to market the Hampton Shirt site, installing new lighting and new pavement, partnering with the Kinston Housing Authority to provide newer housing and more. We’ve acknowledged the distressed state and have been working on improvements and strategies to overcome this issue.
However, we all should be offended that any person or organization could simply blanket half of our city with such poor choice of words. Rarely is “East” or “West” used in a positive connotation when referring to locations in Kinston. Not only have these phrases been ingrained in our local culture, but even UNC referred to “East Kinston” rather than a street block, school area or neighborhood. If we hyper-focus on where the issue is, then our community can use our energy and resources to focus on alleviating the problem.
We all should give careful thought to our words when describing areas, communities and neighborhoods. I disagree with the old saying that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Our English language gives us many choices to be descriptive. The wrong choice of words, especially in a negative context, could have long lasting negative consequences on the recipient of those words.
Many times I have used a wrong phrase or word and, regardless of intent, words have a way to cause harm in our relationships. Facebook is a prime example of an area where people love to give updates on their kids, lash out at their governments or to quote scripture. Many careless words are typed on our computers and cell phones each day on social media. Although I have failed often at this, one principle that I try to live by is to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
Through efforts to revitalize our community, increase tourism traffic and enhance our quality of life, our community has much to offer. And, as we move forward to increase our economic prosperity, let’s be mindful of our use of “East” or “West.” Instead, I would encourage us all to be more descriptive about a location to which you are referring.
The Kinston comeback is happening right before our eyes and your involvement will improve our community more than these “words” can express.
BJ Murphy is mayor of the city of Kinston.http://www.kinston.com/news/local/guest-column-mayor-we-are-all-one-kinston-1.354006?tc=cr
Media Contact: Rebecca Agner, 919.760.6334 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about ElectriCities visit www.electricities.com
NCEMPA reaches agreement with Duke Energy to sell generation assets
RALEIGH (July 28, 2014) –North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA) and Duke Energy Progress (DEP) announced today that both companies’ boards of directors have approved an agreement for DEP to purchase the Power Agency’s generating assets. The $1.2 billion transaction would lower wholesale electric rates for NCEMPA’s 32 member communities across eastern North Carolina if it is completed. The agreement is subject to the execution of an Asset Purchase Agreement and a Full Requirements Power Purchase Agreement between the parties.
“The ElectriCities Board of Directors is very pleased we were able to reach an agreement with Duke Energy Progress,” said Richard Hicks, ElectriCities Board Chairman. “The Board’s overarching goal is to strengthen public power’s future in North Carolina. Reducing NCEMPA’s debt and therefore reducing our overall costs will provide the opportunity for more competitive rates in the 32 member communities.
Although we have a long road ahead of us with regulatory approvals, today is a good day for NC Public Power and eastern North Carolina.”
Negotiations between the two parties have been underway for several months.
“This is a complicated transaction that would require federal and state approvals. It won’t happen overnight,” ElectriCities CEO Graham Edwards said. “Several agencies must agree to the purchase agreement before it becomes official. We remain optimistic that we can work through that process and finalize the agreement.”
“Our primary goal is to secure a long-term, reliable power supply for NCEMPA members at the lowest possible cost,” said John Craft, Chairman of the NCEMPA Board of Commissioners and La Grange Town Manager. “We are committed to work together toward that end. The announcement today is a positive step toward our goal.”
Sale Could Reduce NCEMPA Debt by More Than 70 Percent
The current debt owed by NCEMPA members is approximately $1.9 billion. After selling the assets for $1.2 billion and liquidating certain bond reserve funds, the Power Agency members would share responsibility for outstanding debt of approximately $480 million.
“When we entered these negotiations, we knew it wasn’t feasible to expect to completely eliminate the debt by selling our assets. But this agreement has the potential to reduce our current debt by more than 70 percent,” Edwards said. “That’s a significant decrease in our costs and the savings would be directly passed along to NCEMPA members.”
The exact impact on rates for each community will be different and will depend on a number of factors, such as each community’s share of the outstanding debt, the specific load characteristics and customer mix of the community.
As a part of the transaction, DEP and NCEMPA will enter into a wholesale power contract.
The sale of NCEMPA’s electric generation assets would not affect distribution assets. Public power communities would continue to own the power lines, substations and transformers that carry electricity directly to the consumers. In addition, they would continue to employ their own utility staff and be responsible for issues such as maintenance, customer service and billing.
DEP will notify the NC Utilities Commission that it intends to make a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission next month. NCEMPA and DEP entered into exclusive negotiations in January 2014 involving NCEMPA’s ownership in four power plants in North Carolina: Brunswick Nuclear Plant Units 1 and 2 (Brunswick County), Mayo Plant Unit 1 (Person County), Roxboro Plant Unit 4 (Person County) and the Harris Nuclear Plant (Wake County).
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Tonight the City Council of the City of Kinston voted 2-2 and I broke the tie in favor of the recommended budget as presented by the Kinston City Manager. Here is the statement I gave at the end of the meeting.
Public debate, openness and transparency are essential in our democracy. The State of NC requires that our City Manager present a balanced budget to this body. This Council has the authority to accept, reject or amend his recommendations.
Each and every one of us lives here, works here and plays here. Everyone on this bench and in our presence tonight are financially impacted by these decisions.
We have seen increases because of our wholesale suppliers. We have seen increases because of the Affordable Care Act. We have seen increases because of the needs of our aging infrastructure.
Our electric partners have made it clear that increases are coming and should’ve already come based on wholesale and infrastructure pressures. However, a potential deal with Duke Energy caused there to be a pause in hopes of a record deal for our communities.
Last year we pulled from our General Fund to loan and support the electric fund. We decided then to pay that back this fiscal year. I think we all can agree that this practice is not a long-term solution. Just as continuing the practice of transferring from the electric fund to subsidize our General Fund will one day be obsolete.
Also, this fall we will be making serious, long-term financial decisions regarding our infrastructure to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Ultimately we may need to ask voters for their opinions on how best to finance the replacement of 100-year-old pipes and 30-year-old electrical equipment.
In light of the potential Duke deal and our future discussion of infrastructure, I would encourage some compromise tonight. We can either stomach a small increase in electric or we can take street resurfacing to $0, stop demolishing dilapidated buildings and more.
Unfortunately, we have three options and neither one will make sleeping tonight easier. We can raise a utility rate with the hope of a future decrease, we can raise property tax rates by 5.71 cents, which will never decrease, or we can drastically and negatively affect the momentum we’re gaining in service quality, street resurfacing, planning and quality of life.
I want to thank our City Manager and staff for doing more than this body requested of you. Without your diligent efforts in frugality our choices tonight would be much more difficult.
In closing, we all should concede that this budget only affects the next 12 months and the fall infrastructure discussions, potential vote of the people, and Duke Energy deal will have a greater impact on our community for decades.
This decision is not taken lightly and this body has had ample time to review it, ask questions, seek input, hold a public hearing and now even receive more public comments. I want to thank all of our citizens who came tonight to speak their opinions on the budget. We truly value your opinion and the time you gave to be here.
Updated: Fri 2:31 PM, Jun 13, 2014
“I’m very proud of our hospital taking a very thoughtful, methodical approach to the longevity of our community hospital. A strong hospital represents a strong community and we’re really proud the leadership, Mr. Black and Board of Directors, for taking such a proactive approach to making sure that the partner that comes in is a partner that will not only fit the hospital, but will also fit our community.” – Mayor BJ Murphy
Three hospital systems want to either purchase or partnership with Lenoir Memorial Hospital.
Vidant Health, Duke LifePoint, and Novant Health have submitted proposals to the Kinston hospital’s board.
The hospital, which has seen recent cutbacks and layoffs, announced in December it had hired a Chicago-based financial advisory firm to help find a partner for the hospital.
In their proposals, both Vidant and Duke give the option to purchase LMH or for them to enter into a partnership.
Vidant owns nine hospitals here in Eastern Carolina, Duke LifePoint owns several hospitals in the state including Wilson Memorial, while Novant owns hospitals in the Triad, including Forsyth Medical Center.
LMH CEO Gary Black will hold a public hearing on June 24th to answer questions about the proposals. That public hearing will be at 10:00 a.m. at the public library.
In a statement, Vidant says it is excited about the proposal.
“Our organizations already share a successful history of working collaboratively. We worked with them to expand the cardiac intervention program at Lenoir Memorial Hospital, and our Vidant Medical Group hospitalists are on-site delivering care to patients every day,” said Roger Robertson, president of Vidant Community Hospitals. “Vidant believes that this is an opportunity to work more closely with Lenoir Memorial to enhance the health of the residents we serve and elevate care far beyond what we could accomplish independently.”
Lenoir Memorial Hospital says it will make public on Friday multiple proposals for a strategic partnership with another hospital or health system.
The hospital, which has seen recent cutbacks and layoffs, announced in December it had hired a Chicago-based financial advisory firm to help find a partner for the hospital.
Hospital spokeswoman Barbara LaRoque says the public will be able to view the proposals starting tomorrow.
She said CEO Gary Black will hold a public hearing on June 24th to answer questions about the proposals. That public hearing will be at 10:00 a.m. at the public library.
LaRoque says there has not been any timetable announced for when the hospital board might act on any of the proposals, but says Black may address that on the 24th.
If you like what’s happening in downtown Kinston with all the revitalization, then please TAKE NOTICE. Without the Historic Tax Credit then there is little incentive for developers to spend an enormous amount of money into rehabilitation. Instead these 75+ year old homes and commercial properties are receiving much needed face lifts, energy efficient appliances and TENANTS. That’s right, they are now being occupied. Cities and counties are receiving higher tax base, utility usage and less opportunity for crime. See the Kinston Free Press article here: http://www.kinston.com/news/local/kinston-could-lose-out-if-historic-tax-credits-axed-1.329767?tc=cr
Tomorrow morning the NC General Assembly’s Finance and Appropriations committee’s will have an opportunity to amend the house budget. Please ask them to add the Historic Tax Credits as already proposed by Governor Pat McCrory.
Appropriations Committee Members: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/Committees/Committees.asp?sAction=ViewCommittee&sActionDetails=House%20Standing_6
Other articles of interest:
Eliminating Historic Tax Credit Would Be A Mistake – Winston-Salem Journal
NC Credit to Preserve Historic Properties Pays for Itself Many Times Over – News & Observer
By Junious Smith III, Halifax Media Services
KINSTON | Thursday’s U.S. 70 Corridor Commission meeting was more focused toward updates on the highway. The next meeting may be more centralized toward economic benefits — and sooner than what is expected.
Chairman Robin Comer said the next meeting was initially scheduled for July 17 in Morehead City, but due to the economic impact study going public in several weeks, the tentative date has been moved up to June 19. N.C. Department of Transportation and Department of Commerce officials are expected to attend.
“The objective of this meeting was to stay updated,” Comer said. “I’m excited about how the progress is going and we’ll have the economic impact study coming out in four or five weeks, where the benefits the corridor provides economically can reflect in that. Highway 70 is the second best highway economically behind (Interstate) 40.”
John Rouse, the DOT Division 2 engineer for Kinston, said there will be a corridor design public hearing for the city slated for this year.
“It will happen in either late summer or early fall,” Rouse said. “We’ve also got a draft environmental impact statement which will come out in early 2015. We’re doing this so the public can study and comment, then we’ll take their information and make revisions where they’re necessary. We have a record of decision as to the route in 2016, and it is currently unfunded.”
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said one of the main reasons he attended the meeting was to learn about the progress of the Global TransPark.
“GTP is creating a tremendous opportunity, and we need to do anything we can at a local level to support its job creation efforts,” Murphy said. “For example, just (Wednesday), the Lenoir County transportation committee voted to make three of our top five priorities related to the quad-east interstate loop concept.”
Durwood Stephenson, director of the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission, said another significant focus is the crash rate, which is 465 percent greater than on I-40.
“We have a lot of bad accidents due to the traffic congestion,” Stephenson said. The crash data showed 28 U.S. 70 fatalities compared six on I-40 during the charted period.
“Our objective was to make Highway 70 a freeway,” he said. “It would be great to have it as an interstate, but that’s not sufficient at this time. We just want to reduce the congestion, which will lower the crash rate.”
Rouse also provided an update on the U.S. 70 Gallent’s Channel Bridge project in Carteret County for which piling driving is scheduled to begin in June and the bridge completed by 2018; the U.S. 70 Havelock Bypass with the final Environmental Impact Study to be completed soon and right-of-way acquisition to begin in 2015; and the Slocum Road Interchange to Cherry Point air station, which is funded and work expected to begin in March 2017.
There was also a presentation in the meeting from Build N.C. Greer Beaty, one of the 501C4 lobbying organization’s founders, said the goal of Build N.C. is to be a strong advocate for transportation projects. Jim Trogdon, retired DOT chief deputy secretary, is a member of Build N.C. advisory board.
“We were just coming to let the committee know we exist, and we can be a voice in support,” Beaty said. “A project can be a long process, and there are so many factors are involved in it.”
Lenoir County Commissioner J. Mac Daughety said he liked the overall vibe and chemistry of the board.
“It was a very positive meeting,” Daughety said. “We’ve got significant issues we need to deal with as far as funding is concerned, but this group is unified.”
Junious Smith III is a reporter for the Kinston Free Press. Sue Book of the Sun Journal in New Bern contributed to this report.
KHS Academic Banquet
Mayor BJ Murphy
“Just Do It”
Good evening Kinston High! I stand before you a proud member of the Viking family. I wasn’t nearly as smart as some of you so this is only my second Academic Banquet. But only because I’ve been asked to speak at both of them.
Congratulations to all of you who have earned the right to be here.
(Recognize my father, Buster Murphy)
Your philosophies (what you think), drives your actions and your actions drives your results. I want to take a few moments here tonight to share with you some philosophies that have shaped me in to the person I am today.
See, I love that we’re in this gym tonight. Basketball is a sport that has created a culture of success for our community. Basketball is a team sport. Sure, there are great players, but none of them can win without a team.
Coaches can only be great coaches if they put the right mix of players together.
So too is and will be your success in life.
A mentor of mine once said, “BJ you are combination of the 5 people you hang around the most. Consider your future goals and aspirations, your health, your finances, your career choice and more. Now who are the 5 people you spend the most time with? You will see that in many ways you are just like them.”
Wow, I thought to myself. So I said, “Self, what changes do I need to make?”
Two of my 5 people were negative influences in my life. See, I want to surround myself with people who are closer to God, make more money, give more of their time, have integrity and so on. So, I cut them off. Now, I didn’t tell them that, but I did stop hanging around them as much.
Being intentional about what’s influencing you is important to your success in school and in life.
Another philosophy that has helped shape me that I hope to impart on you this evening is the difference between your standards and your goals. At the beginning of each of the seasons represented by these banners, the coaches and the players agreed that their goal was to win the conference, advance to regionals and win a state championship.
We all can agree that’s a valid goal. But let’s explore what a standard is.
Did you wake up this morning and set a goal to brush your teeth?
Did you say, “Oh, I will work so hard to make sure I put that toothpaste on the brush?”
See, I hope we all can agree that brushing your teeth and presenting yourself in a positive light is a standard.
Your goals can become your standards.
If you are here for your second, third or fourth Academic Banquet, then please stand. (applause)
What once was a goal has now become a standard for you. What once was a goal to win championships in Kinston is now a standard for this community. Kinston is proud of our young people. We are proud of who you are. We are proud of what you’ve achieved. And because of this environment of success, we expect you to do your best.
We expect you to achieve greatness.
And we expect more banners to be hung in this building.
But, we also expect you to be here next year. And seniors, we expect academic success from you at the next level. We expect it, because you’ve proven yourself capable.
One philosophy that has changed my life involves the Cheetah and the Gazelle and it’s called “Gazelle Intensity”.
You are probably thinking, “what in the world is gazelle intensity?” I’ll get back to that in a moment.
First, I’d like to encourage each of you to take the time to set your goals for the summer and for the remainder of 2014. What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to bless? What do you want? Then how will you get it?
Once you’ve done that you need to have “gazelle intensity”. Dave Ramsey, who authored the book called “The Total Money Makeover” introduced me to gazelle intensity.
You can’t just plan out your goals…you have to run as if your life depended on them.
Cheetahs run fast, really fast—as in 70 to 75 mph fast at their top speeds. The cheetah is the fastest animal on earth, so the gazelle doesn’t have a chance, right? Wrong! Gazelles have learned that the cheetah’s speed is limited to straight-line running. So the gazelle bobs and weaves and runs in circles until the cheetah gets tired and gives up.
The gazelle is so intense during these few moments that a cheetah only catches it in one out of nineteen chases.
I want to challenge you to focus your energies on your goals like the gazelle.
Do you want to be on this platform next year?
Do you want to earn scholarship money for school?
Or do you want to finish first place in your competition?
Figure out what you want to do, map out how you are going to do it, put sticky notes on your mirror and write it in your journal, and then focus with the intensity of a gazelle like your life depended on it.
The City of Kinston has goals. Each year we craft a budget. Each year we review our progress. But the only way we can succeed in creating an environment of success is by relying on the future success of our young people. See, without you, the Global TransPark is a dream. Without you, there’s no need to keep searching for a baseball team. Without you, there’s no need to put money into Holloway and Fairfield. Because without you, none of our work makes any sense.
Kinston has a bright future. But Kinston only has a bright future because you are here tonight.
Kinston loves you. We are proud of you. And once you’ve gone off into this world to achieve great things, we want you back home to help the next generation of kids.
What you’ve achieved is significant. For most of you it was not easy. It was hard.
Life is hard too. But take a look up for a moment.
Looking up at these banners is inspiring. These banners aren’t just for decorations. They are a constant reminder that winning is a part of our culture in Kinston. They provide inspiration to our players when times are tough. When they’re down by a few points. When the clock is working against them.
Thinking of the greats who have played here is impressive. Names like Reggie Bullock, Jerry Stackhouse, Craig Dawson, Michael Dunn, Quinton Coples, Josh Dawson, Jeremy Ingram, Michael Jenkins, Denzel Keyes, Angelo Keyes and I could go on and on and on.
They are all winners. They are all from your neighborhood. What makes a winner?
Winners simply take action. They don’t just think about something, they do something.
And you can ask my wife, I’m not a big fan of excuses. I don’t do whining. When I was four years old, my mother was kidnapped, raped and murdered. My father withstood this incredible test of adversity and showed how prayer and “knee-o-logy” as he calls it can change your attitude. This event left a family split, which led to a new family for me and my siblings and our world changed in an instant.
Several years later, one of my sisters contracted two different forms of Leukemia and Cancer. Again, our course in life drastically changed through this circumstance. I vividly remember the jaundice face, bloated cheeks, hairless little 13 year old girl. Her mouth was so full of sores that she couldn’t take a sip of water. I remember taking a Q-tip, dipping it in water just to quench her thirst. But, God is good and today that little lady is now a married and successful woman, who’s building a house and raising an infant son.
You say, “But BJ, oh I came from such and such a block.”
Great. Just do it.
“No, no you don’t understand. See I was raised by a single mom.”
Wonderful. Just do it.
“Mayor, we live paycheck to paycheck and it’s hard just to pay the rent.”
Super Duper. Just do it.
What do winners do….they do it and do it and do it and do it.
“But coach, I forgot….Teacher I lost…Mom, she said this…”
Excellent. Just do it.
It’s not the disasters and disappointments in life that determine who you are, it’s how you respond to these circumstances. The same wind blows on us all. The winds of opportunity, challenge, adversity and prosperity. It’s not the wind you should concern yourself with, its how you set your sail.
Take action today on whatever you desire the most in life.
Because if you do today what others won’t, you’ll have tomorrow what others don’t.
By Junious Smith III / Staff Writer
While the harsh winter earlier this year has been substituted for warmer temperatures, Kinston motorists are still feeling the effects of the cold season.
Potholes, which have been a chief issue in the city for years, have become even more of a nuisance for travelers due to the snow and ice which battered roads in early 2014.
Kinston resident Michael Harris said potholes have always been a problem for him in the city.
“Ever since I’ve been here, areas of Herritage, Plaza and Vernon have been terrible,” he said. “Then when they’re repaired, the streets can be so uneven in some spots. Of course, salt deterioration could play a role, especially with the weather we had earlier this year.”
Will Kilpatrick, another Kinston resident, said the potholes have had an impact on motorists, including his mother.
“My mom actually had a tire damaged on Herritage Street about three months ago,” he said.
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said he understands the concerns of the public, but lowered revenue in the city can make repairs difficult.
“The road conditions in Kinston are not where they need to be,” Murphy said. “One of the struggles we have faced in budgeting is the overall decline in tax base and the reduction of dollars from the state for resurfacing without any significant change to number of miles of roads we have to resurface. We should be spending roughly $500,000 a year, and we are spending less than half of that, so we’ve had to be creative with other projects.
“For example, with the railroad closure, we’ve been able to resurface areas in Mitchelltown using railroad funds. When we need to replace water and sewer pipes, we’ve tried to find funds for resurfacing also, but those have become more and more limited.”
The mayor is familiar with the biggest trouble spots in the city.
“One of the most common requests we’ve received is repaving Herritage Street and that is a high priority for us,” Murphy said. “But because of the price of more than $1.5 million, we may have to consider alternate finance methods to complete that project and some others.”
Another problem includes the recent engine failure of Kinston’s only pothole repair truck. Kinston Public Services Director Rhonda Barwick said the snow and ice storms separated asphalt, creating potholes and the alternative solutions aren’t as efficient.
“We were trying to get potholes repaired, but last week our pothole truck died,” Barwick said. “We tried to replace it last year, and unfortunately, we didn’t make it. We’ve requested a replacement truck and are looking at other options such as leasing another for the remainder of the year. Right now, we’re putting asphalt on a dump truck and shoveling it to fill potholes, but it’s not as effective as the truck. We’re doing what we can, because the longer the potholes stay on the road, the more damage they can cause.”
Barwick said the roads are important to the city leadership, but officials also need to balance the budget.
“The city would like to be on a 25-year replacement plan for roads, but that means $550,000 toward each year, which the city simply doesn’t have,” Barwick said. “The last few years, we’ve been around $160,000 to $200,000. When the council meets, this is what they’ll be faced with, knowing the most important thing is balancing the budget and making sure there are enough funds for everything.”
Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 andJunious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.