Community Events

A Ferris Bueller Merry Christmas

On Saturday, December 14th, Kinston had one of its largest parades in recent memory. For nearly three years, I’ve wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas with a tribute to Ferris Bueller like the one found here.

So Jessica, Gracyn, Kathryn and I organized a Flash Mob and took to the streets of Kinston. One citizen in another video on Facebook said, ”What kind of mayor have you seen do that?”

Click on the picture. Enjoy.

Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy Ferris Bueller Twist and Shout
Photo By: Zach Frailey for the Kinston Free Press

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.


KFP: Holly day – Christmas tree lit in downtown Kinston

Holly Day tree lighting

Kinston City Councilmen, from left, Wynn Whittington and Robbie Swinson, are joined by Mayor B.J. Murphy, right and their children and grandchildren in lighting the Christmas tree Tuesday night at the Lenoir County courthouse. Not shown in the photo is Lenoir County Commission Chairman Craig Hill, who also helped light the tree.

Sara Pezzoni / The Free Press

By Junious Smith III / Staff writer

Published: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 20:01 PM.

The recently elected members of the boards for Kinston and Lenoir County fittingly set off a celebration for the area.

Craig Hill, B.J. Murphy, Robbie Swinson and Wynn Whittington all participated in the ceremonial tree lighting ceremony for the seventh annual Holly Day celebration Tuesday at the courthouse.

Hill was appointed as the new Lenoir County chairman at Monday’s commissioner meeting, while Murphy was sworn in for his second straight term as mayor at a city council meeting the same day.

At the same council meeting, Swinson was sworn in for the third consecutive time with Whittington going through the process for the first time.

The ceremony was symbolic of how the leaders hope the city and county can work together.

Hill said it is vital for Kinston and Lenoir County to have symbolism and back it up with results in the future.

“I think this is another example of the city and county working closely, and I hope we can do more things together,” Hill said. “If we can all work together, this will be a better place.”

Murphy said the city needs the help of the county and vice versa.

“The success of one governmental entity is success for all,” Murphy said. “Likewise, failure of one entity is failure for all. We must continue forging this relationship, and tonight was another way to show we’re working in one accord.”

As far as the event, the mayor said the event is great for downtown Kinston. Stores and restaurants on Herritage Street were open, providing discounts and Christmas cheer to residents.

“Tonight’s event is exciting because this is when we officially kickoff the holiday season in our community,” Murphy said. “The Holly Days event is a culmination of city, county, Pride and small businesses getting together with our youth and the arts community to celebrate the holiday season.”

Pride of Kinston Executive Director Adrian King said the celebration has grown in popularity each year and had been helpful to the businesses in the area.

“The Pride and county bought a Christmas tree together several years ago, and it has just become almost a staple in the holiday season,” King said. “We’ve had Miss North Carolina here one year, high school basketball teams and local celebrities.

“The celebration was initially held to help merchants get more customers during the Christmas season. Now the event has been part of our seasonal culture, preceding the Christmas parade.”

Rick Vernon, host of Down East Today with Tutt Media Group, was the master of ceremonies, saying he enjoyed what the event stood for.

“It’s a great way to bring the city and county together,” Vernon said. “It’s great to see kids, senior citizens and community leaders coming together.”

Chasity Carraway, who was recently crowned Miss Outstanding Teen for Kinston/Lenoir County, said she was excited about seeing the hundreds of people at the celebration.

“This event brings the community together, and it’s great to have an opportunity for this,” Carraway said.

Kinston resident Arletha Jackson said she enjoys this time of the year because of the positivity.

“I love the holidays and it’s a great time to be joyous,” Jackson said.

N.C. Rep. George Graham, D-Lenoir, attended the event, saying he’s been here each year.


“The holiday season is a wonderful time,” Graham said. “I grew up a couple of blocks from here at Carver Courts. It’s all about spirit, love and great people. There’s no other place I’d want to be.”

Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.


KFP: Murphy, Swinson, Whittington take seats as mayor, city council during ceremony

By Junious Smith III / Staff Writer

Published: Monday, December 2, 2013 at 20:35 PM.

Three candidates who won positions in Kinston’s municipal elections last month received their coronation during the last meeting of 2013.

At Monday’s regular meeting, B.J. Murphy was sworn in for a second term as Kinston mayor, while Robbie Swinson and Wynn Whittington took the oath of office as members of the city council.

Murphy was reelected as Kinston mayor, with Swinson and Whittington receiving the most votes for the city council.

Murphy said the major focus shouldn’t be on the members being elected, but on what they can provide for the citizens in Kinston.

“Being in office is not about me or the next person,” Murphy said. “It is about the service that we render to the people. My plan tonight (was) to expand the slogan found in our city seal, which is, Forward in Prosperity.”

Murphy said he is thankful to have the opportunity to serve Kinston for a second term as mayor.

“It certainly is an honor,” Murphy said. “I’m going to challenge our citizens, our staff, our council and myself to seek that prosperity that our community deserves. Our responsibility is to instill hope. When people say, ‘I’m from Kinston,’ I want them to say it with pride. The comeback starts with us.”

Swinson, who was elected to his third term as councilman, said the swearing-in ceremony was exciting, but paled in comparison to his inaugural one in 2005.

“It’s hard to compete with the first time,” Swinson said.

Swinson said he’s appreciative of the voters wanting to keep the consistency going with the council.

“The community believes in myself and B.J.,” Swinson said. “They believe the city is moving in the right direction, which is a plus having the support of the community. I’m truly thankful for the voters.”

Paul Jones, senior resident of the Superior Court Judge for North Carolina, presided over the ceremony. Jones said the continuity of Murphy and Swinson was a good thing.

“The city has stability here,” Jones said. “The council has done a good job and that’s what people are looking forward to.”

Jones also had positive words for Whittington, as he has had interactions with the newcomer in years past as a Lenoir County school board attorney.

“Wynn is a career educator and should be a welcome addition to the council,” Jones said. “He has educated a lot of children here as a teacher and principal at Kinston High School.”

Whittington, who received the most votes for city council and will be taking Bobby Merritt’s seat, said he is excited and ready to work.

“I’m looking for the opportunity to serve the community, and work with the existing council, mayor and manager to move Kinston forward,” Whittington said. “I’m humbled and appreciative of the voters, who instilled the confidence in me to serve them. It hasn’t hit me until (Monday), but it’s starting to come to fruition and I can’t wait.”

City Manager Tony Sears said each swearing-in ceremony is special, whether it is in Kinston or any place else.

“It’s a very special time in American history,” Sears said. “Across the nation, people are being sworn in as proof that democracy works and leaders are elected by a majority vote. It’s a beautiful thing.”


Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.

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K-Day Celebration

KFP: K-Day shines through rain

By Junious Smith III, Staff Writer

Lori Carmon wasn’t sure if people were going to show up to K-Day because of rain in the forecast, but inclement weather turned out to be a nonfactor.

Despite periods of rain throughout the day, hundreds showed up to the sixth annual K-Day celebration at the Georgia K. Battle Community Center, an event Carmon founded with the inspiration from the late Delmont Miller.

“I really didn’t know what to expect, but believed in the people,” Carmon said. “It’s a great turnout to be raining and I’m already looking forward to next year being bigger and better.”

Mayor B.J. Murphy delivered the proclamation for K-Day, which has grown in popularity each year with activities for the children, food and musical entertainment.

The Kinston High School football team was also honored at the event for their work on and off the field.

“The kids feel really good about getting honored by the community they live in,” Kinston head coach Ryan Gieselman said. “It’s special to them knowing the hard work they’ve put in is supported by the community.”

Linebacker Javon Baylor felt the team could use this day as motivation.

“We’re always striving for the best,” Baylor said. “It’s good to see the community behind us and knowing they have our back.”

Quarterback Tyquan Canady said the rain wasn’t a deterrent for him, adding this was the first K-Day he had been to.

“It’s a good event and keeps the kids out of trouble,” Canady said.

IndyLeft PAC founder David Bell attended the event to give support to Kinston High School during its homecoming weekend, as well as to Carmon for making the event possible.

“This is a great thing Lori is trying to do and we need to give her as much support as possible to keep it going,” Bell said. “The kids are having fun and enjoying activities on the East side of the community.”

Bell, a local political activist, also used the time to talk with Murphy about an important issue.

“I had the chance to speak with the mayor discussing bipartisan efforts to attack poverty in the city,” Bell said.

Sherri Jackson, co-owner of The Platinum Club, helped prepare food for K-Day. She said it was great to have an event promoting togetherness in the community.

“We want to give back to the community, especially the kids and the elderly,” Jackson said. “They definitely deserve it.”

Annie Ralph, an eldress at St. John Free Will Baptist Church, volunteered to cook as well.

“I love to help out, so I decided to come out,” Ralph said. “I love to cook and love the kitchen.”

Many kids enjoyed themselves at the event, including 8-year old Khari Hatfield.

“It’s good for everyone to enjoy themselves, play and have fun,” Hatfield said.

Qwonrice Cole, 10, liked the social aspect of the event.

“It’s fun to get out and learn about one another,” Cole said. “We’ve been making friends out here.”

Isaiah Hatfield, 10, looked at K-Day as an escape from school.

“K-Day is a good day for the kids to come out,” Hatfield said. “It’s Saturday, and we need a little break from class. I wish they could do this every weekend.”

Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 and Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.


WNCT-9: “K-Day” goes on despite bad weather

By Erica Anderson, Digital Journalist

KINSTON, N.C. -People in Kinston braved the bad weather to celebrate “K-Day”.

Saturday, marked the sixth year for the event. Making this year even more memorable, Mayor BJ Murphy read a proclamation at Saturday’s celebration.

“K-Day” was started back in 2008 by Lori Carmon. Carmon says, Kinstonian Delmont Miller, inspired the event; however, miller passed away before the first “K-Day” celebration.

The event aims to gather past, present, and fans of Kinston High School. Carmon says “K-Day” is not just for Vikings, but for the entire community.

“If you ever lived in Kinston, if you ever attended a school, if you know someone that attended a school, it’s just unity in the community. Kinston finally has a day!” said Carmon.

Carmon says the event grows every year.

This year’s event featured performers, music, a clown, free balloon animals, and free barbeque.

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American Legion chicken dinner benefit planned

Mayor BJ Murphy is buying his tickets for the upcoming American Legion chicken dinner sale from Post 43 Chaplain Evelyn Dove-Coleman, right, and Post Commander Donna Ramsey, left.

Submitted photo

Chicken dinner benefit planned

The American Legion chicken dinner sale fundraiser will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at Post 43, corner of McLewean and North streets.

The chicken will be slow-cooked all morning before plates are prepared for eat-in or take-out customers. This is a major fundraiser for the veterans organization, with proceeds benefitting its youth programs. Tickets are available now from any Post 43 member. Five or more plates can be delivered upon request.

Regular post meetings are held at 7 p.m. first Thursdays.


Proclamation: ‘Let’s Talk’ to encourage closer families


Mayor B. J. Murphy, center, has acknowledged a proclamation with the Young Women’s Outreach Center’s Executive Director Joyce Clark, left, and Brenda McLamore, the Community Outreach specialist, for the community to come together to ‘Let’s Talk’ and celebrate families.

Submitted photo

‘Let’s Talk’ to encourage closer families

October nationally is designated “Let’s Talk Month” and The Young Women’s Outreach Center is sponsoring a Community Family Affair Day as part of its local recognition.

The all-day family event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 5 at Pearson Park. It also is sponsored by P.E.A.C.E Foundation, Kinston Department of Public Safety, Elks Lodge, Eastpointe, and various other agencies and churches.

The day will start at 10 a.m. with a parade starting by Hardee’s on Herritage Street, marching up to Gordon Street, near the ship, into Pearson Park on Mitchell Street behind the Lenoir County Farmer’s Market. Immediately after the parade, festivities in the park will include vendors representing food, educational, health and fitness resources, fun, games and entertainment.

Families can register for a game of “Family Feud.” The team must consist of four members – two adults and two youth or one adult and three youth. The deadline to register a family team is Sept. 30.

Free items will be given to the first 100 people. Bring lawn chairs, claim prizes and join the celebration of families in the park.

Contact the YWOC office to register and get more information. Call 252-527-7844 between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. weekdays.

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KFP: Kinston-based ‘A Chef’s Life’ airs today at 9:30 p.m. on PBS

By Junious Smith / Staff Writer 

For Vivian Howard, three years of planning for something even she didn’t think would happen is coming to fruition tonight.

“A Chef’s Life,” starring Howard and her husband Ben Knight, debuts today at 9:30 p.m. on PBS.

The 13-part series about Southern cuisine, Eastern North Carolina traditions and Howard’s and Knight’s restaurant, Chef and The Farmer, will run each Thursday at that time.

“It’s exciting,” said Howard, the chef at Chef and The Farmer. “We’ve worked for close to three years on this and it feels really good to have it out to the world and show Kinston and Lenoir County in a positive light.”

One of the biggest obstacles came with raising money for the show, but Howard was able to raise more than $50,000 in donations to handle PBS fees and other expenses.

“It was questionable to many if it would happen — myself included — and now we’re here,” Howard said.

The Kinston City Council named today as “A Chef’s Life Day,” at a public meeting last month.

“This show is a testimony to the hard work, quality of food and service and dedication to a career that Vivian has worked so hard for,” Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said. “The city of Kinston joins all of the patrons of Chef and The Farmer and our entire community to help celebrate this event and we look forward to watching Chef Howard on PBS.”

City Manager Tony Sears agreed, saying the event should have the encouragement of Kinston residents.

“I think Vivian and Chef and the Farmer getting a show is a great thing,” Sears said. “We have to give community support for someone whose hard work is being nationally recognized.”

Kinston City Councilman Sammy Aiken shared a story explaining how important Chef and The Farmer is to the area.

“I stopped in Raleigh to get some camera equipment, and I’m talking to someone who asked where I was from,” Aiken said. “I told him I was from Kinston, and he asked me if I had been to Chef and The Farmer. He said it was one of the best restaurants in North Carolina, which is a great compliment.

“We’re definitely pleased, and it’s well needed. Anytime we have positive publicity for Kinston, it’s a good thing.”

Lenoir County Commissioner Chairman Reuben Davis said he was proud of the show airing nationally. He said he believes it will be successful.

“I have tremendous respect for the Howard family,” Davis said. “There’s a good possibility this will be a popular show, and at the end of this run, I hope they can do more. It’s good for them, Chef and the Farmer, Kinston, Lenoir County, Eastern North Carolina and the state itself.”

Davis had positive reviews for the restaurant as well.

“This is a tremendous response for the city of Kinston and the nationally renowned restaurant,” Davis said. “I enjoy going there and a good portion of their customers are from surrounding counties or out of state. It’s a wonderful thing.”

Knight has been anxious for the public reaction, but enthusiastic as well.

“The past couple of weeks, I’ve been joking about how the show is like having a baby,” Knight said. “We know the sex, but we’re not sure about much else. There are a lot of unknowns, and a lot of anxiety, but we’re excited.”

With twin sons — two-and-a-half-year-olds Theodore and Florence — and a restaurant to operate, there hadn’t been an abundance of time to work on the series.

“Most of the show was shot on Sundays, which is really the only day we have off,” Knight said. “The last couple months have been challenging, with us working on the show and our family.”

Knight believes if the show is successful, it will open up opportunities for him and Howard, the restaurant, those who worked on the show, Kinston and Lenoir County.

Still, he said personal gratification isn’t the reasoning for the program.

“We’re not doing this so we can be on billboards in Times Square,” Knight said. “We started this business in a town where many didn’t think it would survive, and we felt like this is one of the best things we could’ve done to give back.

“Hopefully, we can look back in 15 to 20 years and say we did what we set out to do.”


Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 22:45 PM.

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Banquet to honor ‘unsung heroes’

CD Leonard, right, publicity chairman of the Community Excelsior Club of Kinston, sells a ticket to Mayor BJ Murphy for the annual recognition banquet scheduled for Oct. 12.

Banquet to honor ‘unsung heroes’

The Community Excelsior Club of Kinston will honor two Lenoir County “unsung heroes” at is annual recognition banquet set for 5 p.m. Oct. 12 at St. Augustus AME Zion Church, 318 E. North St.

This year’s honorees are Iris Persons Jacobs and Robert Brown. Both are examples of residents helping others in the city and county. The guest speaker will be Kinston native Dr. Janzelean Laughinghouse of Greensboro.

The public is invited. For tickets and other information, call Lemuel E. Jones at 252-527-6552 or Palmer Dixon, Banquet chairwoman, at 252-527-1441.


Mayor Murphy appears on the Reece Gardner Hour

Reece Gardner Hour Featuring Mayor BJ Murphy

August 12 2013




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KFP: Bringing the community together


From left, volunteers Jeanene McBride, Stephen Fulton and Jennifer Hodges paint brick edging Saturday during Community Day at Rochelle Middle School.

Janet S. Carter / The Free Press

With the 2013-14 school year a little more than two weeks away, members of the community wanted to make Rochelle Middle School look ready for new and returning students.

Staff members, parents, students and other volunteers came out to the school’s Community Day to assist before the first bell rings on Monday, Aug. 26. Volunteers helped out by doing things such as planting, painting, building brick borders and clearing debris.

“We’re just trying to get the school ready for opening day,” Rochelle Principal Maya Swinson said. “The community, along with staff members, has helped to clean it up some.”

Among those volunteering was Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, who went to the middle school growing up.

“I came out to help make my old middle school and also show support for the new principal,” Murphy said. “She has a bright future ahead of her, the kids love her and the community needs to support her efforts.”

Kinston City Councilman Robbie Swinson, the principal’s wife, is another graduate of Rochelle Middle School and was on campus Saturday to assist with the cleanup.

“For me, this school is near and dear to my heart,” Swinson said. “I love all schools in Lenoir County, but especially this one since I went here and my wife is now the principal. I wanted to give back to the community and what other way than to help out here on this day?”

Nicole Miller — who will be a first-year guidance counselor at Rochelle — was impressed with the people who showed up to assist in the process of getting the school looking right for the upcoming year.

“With me being new to the school and the community, it’s encouraging to see the support the people gave us,” Miller said. “They really care about the school.”

Alena Rivers and Lesley Sutton — who are both in the sixth grade and start the transition to Rochelle Middle School — both wanted to show their enthusiasm for their new school and help in the community.

“Jesus said, ‘The greatest of you is a servant,’ so we’re just trying to do our part,” Rivers said.

Sutton added, “Where there’s unity, there’s strength, and Rochelle is on its way.”

Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.

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