Community Events

Mr. Cow Challenged Mayor BJ Murphy & City Manager Tony Sears

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!


Kinston High School Academic Banquet Speech

Kinston High School Logo

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.



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KFP: Key Citizens

Key to the City

In the left photo, John Jones, right, speaks to the crowd after being presented a key to the city by Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, left. In the right photo, Shirley Herring is embraced by Murphy after being awarded the key to the city.
Photo: Zach Frailey / The Free Press, License: N/A

By Junious Smith III / Staff writer
Published: Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 17:36 PM.

During the activities of the 33rd Annual BBQ Festival on the Neuse on Saturday, two Kinston residents were honored by the city’s mayor.

B.J. Murphy honored John Jones and Shirley Herring during the “Key to the City” ceremony at Pearson Park, where each was presented with a ceremonial key to Kinston and a dedication.

Murphy said he didn’t make his decision alone on honoring the two.

“I asked for Mayor Pro Tem Joe Tyson to assist me in the deciding process,” Murphy said. “Certainly, the two people we’re recognizing have gone above and beyond what a citizen is asked to do in Kinston.”

Jones, a 1968 graduate of Adkin High School, was an active member of Kinston public schools, serving as a teacher, guidance counselor or principal at several schools, including Rochelle Middle School and Kinston Charter Academy.

“It is indeed a pleasure to receive this award,” Jones said, addressing the crowd in attendance. “I accept this award on behalf of my family members, community and everyone who has impacted my life — positively or negatively.”

Herring is currently the chairman of Pride of Kinston and has worked with the organization for 28 years.

“This is truly an honor and I never dreamed of this,” Herring said. “I want to thank everyone who has been working on downtown Kinston. It brings me pride and joy to help in the beauty and progress of the city.”

Tyson said Jones and Herring deserved the recognition.

“When you look throughout the community and look at individuals who serve the community, there are several in the city who would qualify, but we can’t elect everyone,” Tyson said. “We recognize those who don’t get awards every day, but are great citizens who represent Kinston well. John Jones is someone who was committed to mentoring, helping young people, coaching and was a highly respected citizen.
“Ms. Herring is someone who dedicated her time to help improve the city of Kinston. She is an outstanding leader, and when it comes to volunteering and services, she gives and asks for nothing in return. She exemplifies a good citizen of Kinston.”

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

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Mayor BJ Murphy speaks to Exchange Club

Exchange Club

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, right, spoke to the Kinston Exchange Club about happenings in the City of Kinston. With him is Dennis Tiller, program chairman.

Submitted photo



Chamber: Vick’s Cleaners ribbon cutting

Vick’s Cleaners ribbon-cutting
Mayor B.J. Murphy was on hand to assist Simon and Tim Vick cut the ribbon as others were there to help celebrate the opening of their new location. Vick’s Cleaners, with two locations serving Kinston and one location serving Snow Hill, is a family-owned cleaners that has been serving Lenoir and Greene Counties for four generations. It is the oldest cleaners in N.C., servicing ENC since 1899! Being members of state and national associations keeps them ahead of their competition by furthering their knowledge on products, services and the industry in general. Stop by Vick’s Cleaners for all of your dry cleaning and laundry needs! “Drop em & Leave em!” Their new location is at 2600 N. Herritage Street in Kinston.


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.

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