KFP: Kinston mayoral candidates take center stage


Mayoral candidate Ralph Clark, left, makes his opening statements, while John Marks, center, and B.J. Murphy listen at the mayoral forum Tuesday at community television station TACC-9 on Queen Street.

Sara Pezzoni / The Free Press

Kinston’s three candidates for mayor each had their lone opportunity to address viewers on the issues of the city on Tuesday evening.

Ralph Clark, John Marks and B.J. Murphy spoke at the TACC-9 community television station for a mayoral forum, as the three are looking to be appointed into office by the people after the Nov. 5 election.

Clark, who has spent 32 years in public office, including eight as the former city manager of Kinston, believes his extensive experience and knowledge would be vital in helping the community he has called home since 1999.

“Kinston has been great to me as a city manager and a citizen,” Clark said. “I have a lot to give, and hope (the city) allow(s) me to be the mayor.”

Clark also talked about education in his opening statement, acknowledging that the city council would not be able to intervene in the decision-making process.

“I would be remiss not to mention something about education,” Clark said. “Even though the city has nothing to do with the education in the community, it has to be supported.”

Marks, the pastor and founder of Increasing the Faith Ministries, believes Kinston needs to move in an alternate direction in fixing some of the issues in the community.

“We do need change,” Marks said. “Everybody that I ask or come in contact with, they are always saying that the city needs to be changed. I’m just grateful that our city and the leadership that is present are still doing things, but we still need solutions to a lot of problems. I just want to be an improvement on assets to the city of Kinston.”

Murphy, the incumbent seeking his second term in office, used his opening statement to speak on some of the positives he has seen in Kinston since he became the mayor in 2009.

“I have never been more excited about the opportunities before our community than I am right now,” Murphy said. “Our community is growing, and there are a lot of positive things happening. Just over the past four years, we have had a major focus on redeveloping our community, on making sure we have better streets, and we’ve had a more accountable government than ever before.”

Early voting starts on Thursday, and will run until Nov. 2, with Election Day on Nov. 5.


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

For more information on reruns of the city council and mayor forums, visit tacc9.com.


KFP: Chamber dedicates new sculpture, time capsule

By Bryan C. Hanks / Managing Editor
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 19:58 PM.

The steel “hands” come together, holding the planet. The treasure the sculpture protects is one that will be opened in 50 years — showing future generations of Kinstonians and residents of Lenoir County what life was like in their home from 1911-2012.

A beautiful stainless steel and granite sculpture now rises about 10 feet above Centennial Corner at the corners of King and Herritage streets, above a time capsule that holds artifacts from Kinston and Lenoir County collected from the past century.

A ceremony dedicating the sculpture and time capsule was held Tuesday afternoon at Centennial Corner. The sculpture was the vision of Stephen Hill, the philanthropic businessman whose efforts have helped dramatically reshape downtown Kinston over the past decade or so.

“Art is a big part of my life and a big part of the life of my family,” Hill said. “It’s great to give back something to the community that’s such a beautiful piece. It’s public art and it’ll be here for decades to come.”

The piece was sculpted over the past three months by local artists Hanna and Jodi Jubran.

“I’m so glad the Hill family is making Kinston better every day,” Jodi Jubran said.

The significance behind the sculpture is special, Hill said.

“For hundreds of years, Kinston has sent things like cotton and tobacco into the world,” Hill said. “The hands are holding the world here; we’re going out into the world, but the hands of this community hold it all together.”

Photos and documents from the 100 years of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce are in the time capsule, including special copies of The Free Press over the past century. There are also pieces and memorabilia from important Kinston businesses and organizations, including Lenoir Memorial Hospital, H. Stadiem and the Caswell Center.

“To me, one of the most interesting pieces in the capsule are the original copies of the Chamber minutes,” said Jan Parson, the director of special projects and events for the Chamber.

Kinston Mayor Pro Tem Joe Tyson greeted the 50 or so people at the rainy ceremony before turning the proceedings over to Arts Council Director Sandy Landis, who introduced the sculptors and the Hill family.

After the ceremony, Tyson said Tuesday’s was a historic ceremony.

“A day like this, along with the 250th anniversary, shows Kinston is moving forward,” Tyson said. “We have a grand history we should be proud of. Looking at our history, we see we should be able to continue to do grand things for another 100 years. This is a milestone and a great accomplishment of this city and this county that has every reason to move forward.”

Gracyn Murphy, Parson’s 4-year-old granddaughter and the daughter of Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, clung tight to her grandmother while photos were being taken after the ceremony. Parson said she is excited about Gracyn — and the other dozen or so children who witnessed Tuesday’s ceremony — being in attendance at the capsule’s opening in November 2062.

“She can say, ‘I was here when it was buried and I was here when it was opened,’ ” Parson said. “Imagine how interesting it will be for her.”


Bryan C. Hanks can be reached at 252-559-1074 or atBryan.Hanks@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at BCHanks.

Mayor Interns Getting Exposed to Local Government

2012 Mayor’s Summer Interns:
Carly Sanderson, rising Junior at Bethel Christian Academy
Austin Croom, rising Senior at Bethel Christian Academy
Adam Caldwell, Freshman at East Carolina University

Here’s a list of some of the things the interns have done:

  • City Manager’s meeting with Department Heads
  • Breakfast meeting with Mayor and City Manager
  • Lenoir County Transportation Meeting
  • Presentation(s) to Kinston City Council
  • Luncheon with NC Sen. David Rouzer, Candidate for US Congress
  • Arts grant presentation by US Rep. GK Butterfield
  • Tour of the NRWASA Water Plant
  • Small group discussion with UNC grad students on our new Arts & Cultural District near Mitchelltown
  • Communication via email and phone with NCGA bill drafting and other mayors
  • Tour of the Woodmen Community Center














KFP: Butterfield presents Community Council for the Arts, African-American Music Trail with endowment grant

By Justin Hillcity-left-community-ameri

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, right, thanks U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., left, for a $100,000 grant for the African-American Music Trail on Wednesday at city hall. From left, Robert Swinson III, city councilman; Sandy Landis, director of the Community Council for the Arts; and Adam Short, community development planner look on.
Janet S. Carter / The Free Press

In the midst of the U.S. Congress’ late summer break, N.C. District 1 representative G.K. Butterfield has spent time in his district this week visiting constituents and presenting grants.

On Wednesday, he made stops in Kinston and Snow Hill.

“As many of you know, North Carolina has long, deep roots in music, dating back to some of the greats such as (Hamlet-born) John Coltrane,” he said. “It is only fitting that we commemorate the legacy of musicians from this great state with a landmark to the thread of African-American music, weaved into the rich cultural fabric of North Carolina’s eastern region.”

Included in his Kinston stop Wednesday morning was a $100,000 grant that will go toward the implementation of the African-American Music Trail. The grant was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts. Community Council for the Arts Director Sandy Landis said the funds will be used during Phase 1 of the project, which is set to begin construction in 2013.

“The African-American Music Trail celebrates the heritage of our community and it’s a very important part of that heritage,” Landis said. “(But) it’s also taking a look at how arts can drive creative economies; how we can develop South Queen Street — and how the music trail can be a catalyst for that.”

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy agreed the project is a good opportunity to highlight an interesting part of the city’s heritage.

“Very few people understand or know the number of famous musicians that were either born here or came through Kinston during their careers,” he said. “What this grant will do is to help us to continue to tell that story. I’m a firm believer, and I think our community is, that the arts are a very integral part of our community — and the arts are for anybody.”

In Snow Hill, Butterfield visited the Greene County Health Centers and the Carolina Family Health Center. The center has provided primary care to “underserved” populations in the region for 40 years. The congressman’s tour also included grants workshop, targeted to small-business owners and nonprofit organizations. The workshop offered access to grants experts and customized break-out sessions to address specific needs.

Along with the check presentation, Butterfield also offered a look into the debates being waged on Capitol Hill.

“I dare not come to the community and make a few non-political observations about what’s happening in the U.S. Congress,” he said.

Butterfield said the lead-up to the November general election will probably hinder a lot of the work that needs to be done, but added, following the election there are important decisions to be made, including passing a budget.

“We will have on our plate an agenda unlike anything we have ever seen in our country — we have a lot of unresolved issues,” he said. “Congress has a tradition of kicking the can down the road … politicians like to delay … but there are some issues that we cannot kick anymore.”


Justin Hill can be reached at 252-559-1078 or jhill@freedomenc.com. Follow him on Twitter @mjhill.



Some of the grants which are supporting the African-American Music Trail:

 $150,000 from Golden LEAF and $258,000 from DOT for public art projects

 $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts

 $75,000 from NCAC for artists in schools and community

 $65,000 from NCAC for three-year follow up interviews, documentation, photographs, website

 $50,000 through NCAC cARTwheels program for dance programs in schools

 $30,000 from NCAC for TAPS jazz mentorship program

 $20,000 in SEATRAC grants through Tourism Development Authority

 $5,000 from N.C. Arts Council for initial folklorist interviews

Source: Community Council for the Arts

Press Release: City of Kinston Receives NEA Grant for AAMT

@NEAarts @ncculture @NCArtsCouncil

Contacts: Adam Short, adam.short@ci.kinston.nc.us, 252-933-1393
Brendan Greaves, brendan.greaves@ncdcr.gov, 919-807-6509
Sandy Landis, slandis@kinstoncca.com, 252-527-2517

Date: July 12, 2012

National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2012 Our Town Grant Recipients

City of Kinston one of 80 grantees selected nationwide

[Kinston] — The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announces 80 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.995 million and reaching 44 states and the District of Columbia. The City of Kinston is one of the grantees and will receive $100,000 to finalize the African American Music Trail (AAMT) Park and promote connectivity between existing culturally significant locations related to the AAMT and the arts around downtown Kinston.

Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies. All Our Town grant awards were made to partnerships that consisted of a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity.

The City of Kinston has partnered with the North Carolina Arts Council and the Kinston Community Council for the Arts to acquire this grant and initiate the major components of the project. The project consists of three major components: 1. Finishing the design and construction of the AAMT Park, effectively creating a new AAMT cultural district along South Queen Street; 2. Connecting culturally significant areas that are directly related to the AAMT as well as other arts-centered areas around downtown Kinston; and 3. Continued planning for the development and promotion of the AAMT.

“Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts – both literally and figuratively – into the center of them,” said NEA Chairman Landesman. “From Teller, Alaska to Miami, Florida, communities are pursuing creative placemaking, making their neighborhoods more vibrant and robust by investing in the performing, visual, and literary arts. I am proud to be partnering with these 80 communities and their respective arts, civic, and elected leaders.”

“The Our Town award to Kinston is a tribute to the vision of the city, the local arts council and to eastern North Carolina’s rich African American music traditions,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the North Carolina Arts Council. “This project shows how a community with rich arts and a strong, unique sense of place can partner with state and local government and nonprofits to create economic growth.”

“This is a great opportunity to put Kinston and the arts on the national stage”, said Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy. “This is further proof that the African American Music Trail is having a tremendous impact on Kinston and the region. I am proud to see a project funded that highlights the cultural contributions of Kinston’s African-American community. I am excited for our staff and our partners to start utilizing these grant funds to improve our community by accentuating music and the arts.”

“It is to the credit of the willingness of the musicians, community stakeholders, the City of Kinston and the NC Arts Council to have had faith in our belief that the arts not only impact the quality of life in a community but are key catalysts in economic and tourism development,” said Sandy Landis, Executive Director of the Kinston Community Council for the Arts. “The African American Music project demonstrates that we can use our people resource, and our cultural history to help us as a community have a sustainable and prosperous future.”

The NEA received 317 applications for Our Town that were assigned to one of three application review panels based on their project type; arts engagement, cultural planning and design, or non-metro and tribal communities. With only 80 grants emerging from the 317 applications, or a success rate of 25 percent, competition was strong, a testament to the artistic excellence and merit of Kinston’s “African American Music Trails: Corridors of Connectivity in Downtown Kinston” project.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.