KFP: Chamber of Commerce celebrates 100 years Monday


From left, Mayor B.J. Murphy, Lenoir County Commissioner George Graham and 2012 Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Armistead Mauck listen to N.C. Deputy Commerce Secretary Dale Carroll at the chamber’s 100-year celebration on Monday.  Janet S. Carter / The Free Press

by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press

City, county and Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce leaders gathered Monday to celebrate the Chamber’s 100th birthday, but the concept of a chamber of commerce is one that stretches back centuries to the European Renaissance.

Dale Carroll, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce and the guest speaker at Monday’s celebration, said the earliest-known organizing of businesses — and the first use of the name “chamber of commerce” — took place in France in the late 1500s.

From there, the concept spread throughout Europe, and eventually to the Americas. The first chamber of commerce in North America was chamber of the state of New York — a British colony at the time. It was founded in 1768 and chartered by King George III in 1770.

“That makes it older than the Declaration of Independence,” Carroll said.

The first local chamber in America was formed in Charleston, S.C. in 1773.

“There are more than 5,000 chambers of commerce in the United States today,” Carroll said.

Kinston’s Chamber of Commerce was incorporated on Oct. 31, 1911. C. Felix Harvey Sr. of L. Harvey & Sons was the first president, and he gathered with other prominent business elected leaders in the city, such as then-Mayor W.D. LaRoque, J.H. Canady, Dr. J.M. Parrott and others.

“Let’s take a moment to look back 100 years,” Carroll said. “The Mexican Revolution was in full swing; the first expedition to the South Pole was getting underway and Lucille Ball was born.”

He also read part of a letter of congratulations Gov. Bev Perdue sent to Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber officials.

“Your efforts are strengthening communities and building a foundation of economic stability for years to come,” Perdue wrote. “You are truly making a difference in Kinston/Lenoir County and beyond.”

In addition to Carroll’s speech, Monday’s event included recognition of present and past chamber presidents, and board chairpersons, and a dedication of Centennial Corner, a small landscaped area next to Tiffany West Park at the intersection of Herritage and King streets.

Centennial Corner includes benches made of fabricated metal and granite that was once part of the Herritage Street curb, an engraved brick patio and a time capsule.

“The Centennial Corner is a celebration of the men and women, families and businesses that have helped shape the commerce of Kinston and Lenoir County,” current board chairman Kevin Zoltek said.

Deborah Grimes, board chair for 2010, said, “this project helps express gratitude that mere words cannot.”

George Graham, chairman of the Lenoir County Board of Commissioners, noted the chamber has often served as a mediator when city and county elected officials were at odds with each other.

“I’d like to say, ‘Happy birthday Chamber,’ and one of the things we’ve learned over the years is, working together works!” Graham said.

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said that “as long as the Chamber of Commerce exists, we can be sure that our businesses are making money, our citizens have jobs and our children have a reason to come back home.” 

David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or danderson@freedomenc.com.

KFP: U.S. 70 Bypass forums today, Thursday

Forums rescheduled from August; residents can see potential routes, interact with DOT officials

by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press

Two public forums on a proposed U.S. 70 bypass of Kinston, which were postponed because of Hurricane Irene, have been rescheduled and will be held today and Thursday.

Kinston and Lenoir County residents are encouraged to attend the meetings, which will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. today in the cafeteria of Kinston High School, and from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the city of Kinston’s Public Services Complex off U.S. 258 South.

Officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation will be present at both forums and will display the potential routes for the proposed bypass.

“These will be preliminary routes for the public to look at and comment on, and to determine if they’ve got other routes that we need to look at, said Mark Pierce of the DOT, the project planning engineer for the U.S. 70 Kinston Bypass.

That bypass would start in the La Grange area and end around Dover, and could run either to the north or south of Kinston — routes have been designed for the north and south.

Another alternative is to upgrade U.S. 70 in some areas and bypass other areas, instead of a single bypass.

The opening of the Kinston Bypass could be about a decade away, though. Pierce said land acquisition is scheduled to begin in 2020, and the bypass is not designated for funding in the department’s Transportation Improvement Plan.

That could change, though.

“The prioritization process is a continual process that is upgraded throughout the year,” he said. “We continually take a look at funding allocations and priorities of the division engineers and the Rural Planning Organizations and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations.”

Business owners along U.S. 70 East have opposed a southern route for the bypass, fearing it could steer beach traffic away from their establishments.

Local officials, heeding those concerns, have worked with the DOT to develop a northern route as well.

“Obviously, it would support the future success of the Global TransPark and our ability to attract an interstate-quality road there, and two, the existing Highway 70 is a strong economic corridor in terms of sales tax dollars and we don’t want to impede that either,” said Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, who also serves on the Lenoir County Transportation Committee.

The city and county are not among the federal, state and regional agencies that are part of the “merger team” set up to determine where the bypass will go, so Murphy encouraged residents to visit today’s and Thursday’s meetings to make their views known.

“Kinston (and) Lenoir County won’t have a vote as to which routes they pick, so therefore getting as many citizens to make comments as possible is of urgency because those comments weigh heavily in the decisions,” the mayor said.

David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or danderson@freedomenc.com.



Any comments or questions about the proposed U.S. 70 Kinston Bypass should be directed to the following individuals:

Chris Werner, PE, URS Corporation

DOT consultant
Email: christopher_werner@urscorp.com
Address: 1600 Perimeter Park Dr., Ste. 400, Morrisville, NC 27560


Mark Pierce, PE

Bypass project planning engineer, DOT
Email: mspierce@ncdot.gov
Address: 1548 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1548


Project hotline: 1-800-233-6315

Project website: ncdot.gov/projects/kinstonbypass


Community forums:

4-7 p.m. today
Cafeteria, Kinston High School
2601 N. Queen Street, Kinston

4-7 p.m. Thursday
Kinston Public Services Complex
2360 US 258 South, Kinston


KFP: Vietnam vets, public turn out for The Wall that Heals opening


Speakers at Thursday’s opening ceremonies for The Wall that Heals pay respect to the American flag during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner. From left, the speakers are Col. Joe Tyson; George H. Schryer, USAF Retired; Margaret Wade; Col. Patricia S. Blassie, USAF Reserve; Hon. Paul Jones; Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy; David Hamel, N.C. State POW/MIA; and Roland Jack, VVA Chapter 892.
Charles Buchanan / The Free Press

by Justin Hill
Kinston Free Press

In an attempt to suppress a rush of emotions, a Vietnam War veteran stood up and walked to the back of the crowd as veteran Eric Cantu, dressed in combat fatigues, kneeled at a field cross.

Emotions overwhelmed the veterans, friends, family and community at Emma Webb Park Thursday morning as they remembered the 58,272 honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The Wall that Heals officially opened at the park during an hour-long ceremony

 “Tears came, but I survived it,” another veteran said as he walked towards the wall.

The traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Museum is a replica of the monument in Washington, D.C. The memorial, which is 50 percent the size of the original, arrived in Kinston on Tuesday.

Robin Goodman, whose father, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Owens, went missing in Vietnam, explained the significance of the wall and its symbols during the ceremony. Diamonds on the monument recognize the serviceman or servicewoman as deceased and a cross signifies if that hero is still missing.

“For each of these crosses, there is a family that waits and hopes,” she said.

Goodman added that of the 2.7 million heroes, more than 2 percent did not return home alive.

Recognized on the memorial are 1,609 names from North Carolina, including one of the eight women listed. Twenty-two are from Lenoir County, three from Greene County and two are from Jones.

As Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy told the audience about his experiences at the wall in Washington, a B-52 flyover briefly interrupted him.

“Sounded like freedom to me,” he said over the applause of the crowd.

Murphy added he had visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington numerous times and was with Cantu — who helped bring the traveling wall to Kinston — the first time he visited it.

“I saw his transformation,” Murphy said of Cantu. “He seemed released from the bondage of a soldier’s dreary heart. It is fitting that he helped bring Kinston The Wall that Heals.”

The wall will be open 24 hours a day while it is on display at the park. Organizers believe many veterans will visit the traveling wall at night as a way to remember their fallen comrades in a more private setting.

Along with the recognition of the area veterans listed on the wall, a 21-gun salute also marked the day.

Betty Wilcox from Kinston visited the wall after the ceremony. She was looking for two friends — Dempsey Parrott and Wilson Ham — who are memorialized on the wall.

Although she has visited the memorial in Washington, she was grateful for the opportunity The Wall that Heals offers people in the area.

“I appreciate the wall being here,” she said. “I think it will be a healing process for a lot of individuals and families as well.”

The wall will remain in Kinston over the weekend. A closing ceremony will be at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

A POW/MIA rememberance ceremony will take place today at 7 p.m. at the wall.

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


Schedule of events


7 p.m.: POW / MIA candlelight service


4 p.m.: Closing memorial service

For more information on the traveling Vietnam wall, call Eric Cantu at 252-560-8031 or email cantuveteran@yahoo.com.

Note: Contributions can be sent to Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 892 at PO Box 5195, Kinston, NC 28503. Checks should be made out to ‘VVA 892.’ Contributions will help defray local costs of bringing the wall to Kinston.

Remarks at Ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – Wall That Heals




Vietnam Veteran Eric Cantu during the ceremony.



Good morning and welcome to the Wall that Heals. 

Our community is grateful to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for working with our local organizer and veteran Eric Cantu to bring this half-scale replica to this tranquil park.

For more than 10 years, I have gone to Washington DC during Memorial Day weekend to spend time with veterans and active members of our armed forces.  But I’ve also gone to pay my respects to the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to lay down their life for a friend, for our nation and for freedom.

The first job I had out of college was given to me by a Vietnam Veteran and Green Beret Ted Sampley.  Ted, although a lightning rod for many issues, never wavered in his commitment to bring our missing POWs and MIAs home from Vietnam.

His commitment and passion for this cause paved the way for men like Eric Cantu, who struggled with his decision to visit the Wall. 

Before Ted passed, Eric promised him that he would indeed visit the Memorial in Washington DC.

I was with him that day and saw his transformation as he seemed released from the bondage of a soldier’s dreary heart.

So it is fitting that he was the one to bring this same Healing Wall to Kinston.  Because a soldier’s call to duty is to serve.  And that’s what this Wall is all about.

Another person who understands what it means to serve is the Honorable Paul Jones.  Judge Jones is a retired Colonel in the US Army Reserves.  He served as Staff Judge Advocate with the 108th Division IT in Charlotte, NC.

Colonel Jones is a native of Kinston and is a testimony to how hard work, determination and commitment to the Lord can bring to you a life of success.

Judge Jones was awarded the Army Commendational Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.  He now serves us a Senior Resident Superior Court Judge in our area and resides in Kinston with his wife Edwina Link Jones.

Please welcome the Honorable Paul Jones.

Free Press article published on 9/16

E-Newsletter: September Update for the City of Kinston

Mayor BJ Murphy e-newsletter: September 2011

Hopefully with Hurricane Irene behind us and school in full swing we can focus on local football matchups, the county fair and our November elections.  We are very fortunate in Kinston and Lenoir County that no one lost their life due to the hurricane.  We are also very thankful to all the utility crews from across the state that came to help us.  

To keep you more informed, I regularly update my Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Also, feel free to visit my webpage and email me at bj@bjmurphy.org if you need some help. Thank you for allowing me to serve you.

BJ Murphy

Code RED – Emergency Notification

We have received many positive comments about the City’s use of our new “Code RED” system to alert residents of important news.  We used it several times during and after Hurricane Irene to announce city-wide curfews, storm debris cleanup information and more.

Please register your cell phone with this service byclicking here or by calling our 24 hour Public Services Department at 252.939.3282

Mayoral Veto Referendum

Kinston voters will have an opportunity to make history this November 8th. They have the unique privilege of voting to give Kinston’s mayor veto power over actions the City Council takes that he or she feels might not be in the best interest of the citizens.

The mayor has no vote on matters the City Council considers unless there is a tie. But that rarely happens because there are five council members.

The intent of the referendum is to give our elected officials more time to pause and reflect the consequences of their actions. This would allow voters to have a greater say in city matters, and improves our democratic process because people would have more of a reason to ask questions, listen to debates and voice their opinions. A mayor with veto power would cause our leaders to be more diligent in developing, proposing and implementing budgets, programs, concepts (such as fees), and more.

For FAQs and more, visit www.MayorVeto.com.

Highway 70 Bypass

Next week, there will be two public workshops to view potential routes, using existing roads and proposed roads for the Kinston Highway 70 Bypass.   

For nearly two decades the only bypass we’ve heard about has been a southern bypass. However, the Lenoir County Transportation Committee, which I serve on, has made progress to convince DOT and other agencies to seriously consider a northern bypass for many economic development reasons.  But our work needs the support of the citizens of Lenoir County.  

Here is the NCDOT webpage dedicated to the Highway 70 Bypass. I urge all of our citizens and neighbors to attend one of the two workshops and make public comments in favor of a northern bypass.

Dates & Locations


City Manager Search

The Kinston City Council is currently reviewing candidates for Kinston City Manager. Please pray that they are able to select the best candidate for this important position.

Several citizens have asked if the mayor has a formal say in this process.  This is a vote of the City Council, just like any other policy and the mayor only votes in a tie.

Contact Mayor BJ Murphy
207 East King Street, Post Office Drawer 339
Kinston, NC 28502
(252) 939-3114

KFP: Traveling Vietnam wall to arrive in Kinston Tuesday

by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press

Local residents are encouraged to visit downtown Kinston on Tuesday afternoon to welcome the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall as it is transported along Queen Street with a motorcycle escort.

“It’s the most historical war memorabilia that has ever been in the city of Kinston, and it will transcend every acknowledgeable war experience,” said Eric Cantu, president of VFW Post 2771.

Cantu, a Vietnam War veteran himself, is coordinating the wall’s arrival and six-day stay at Emma Webb Park in Kinston, plus the accompanying community events.

The traveling wall is a miniature version of the permanent Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C. It will be escorted in a tractor-trailer truck from Greenwood, S.C., up Interstate 95 through Fayetteville to Goldsboro, and from there to Kinston.

A number of national motorcycle groups, including the Patriot Guard, American Legion Riders, Rolling Thunder, ‘Nam Knights, Veterans Motorcycle Club and many more, will provide the escort along the route, Cantu said.

The wall is scheduled to travel through downtown Kinston between 1 and 2 p.m. on Tuesday. Cantu encouraged residents to come out and wave American flags.

He said the ride will be dedicated to the late Ted Sampley, a Kinston native, Vietnam veteran, advocate for his fellow veterans, POWs and MIAs, and a past national vice president of Rolling Thunder.

The wall will be set up in the park Wednesday. An opening ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday, with Lenoir County Superior Court Judge Paul Jones, who is also a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, serving as emcee.

There will be a meet-and-greet from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Arts Council with retired U.S. Navy Capt. Eugene “Red” McDaniel, a Kinston native who survived for six years in the notorious North Vietnamese Hanoi Hilton prison.

He will be signing and selling copies of his book: “Scars and Stripes.” Proceeds go to the American Defense Institute, which advocates on behalf of POWs and MIAs from all wars.

U.S. Air Force Col. Patricia Blassie will also be in attendance. She is the sister of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Blassie, who was killed during Vietnam and buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the Vietnam War in Arlington National Cemetery.

Sampley uncovered his identity in 1998, and Blassie’s remains have since been moved to a veterans’ cemetery in his hometown of St. Louis.

A candlelight ceremony will take place Friday at the wall in honor of the national POW/MIA remembrances happening across the nation that day.

Cantu also encouraged anyone in the community who has a photograph of a loved one killed during Vietnam to bring it to the wall while it is Kinston, where it will be scanned on-site for future placement in a planned national Vietnam education center in Washington.

The closing ceremony will take place Sunday, and the wall will depart for Swannanoa Monday morning.

While it is here, the wall will be open to the public 24 hours a day and under guard during that time.

“It is guarded 24 hours and it is lit 24 hours,” Cantu said.

Emma Webb Park suffered severe damage from Hurricane Irene late last month; the winds left massive trees toppled and broken, but Cantu said city staffers are working to get the park cleaned up in time for the wall’s arrival.

“The city has made an extremely good extra effort to make sure Emma Webb Park is ready for the wall, and it is safe and ready,” he said.

Mayor B.J. Murphy encouraged residents to visit the wall.

“Having been to the actual wall myself, several times, the wall really is a healing place,” he said. “A lot of young men and women lost their lives, or were captured and never found.”

Murphy continued: “My experience with the wall would be very different from the experience Eric Cantu had with the wall but to both of us, it is a symbol of our nation’s courage.”


David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or danderson@freedomenc.com.



For more information on the traveling Vietnam wall, call Eric Cantu at 252-560-8031 or email cantuveteran@yahoo.com.

Note: Contributions can be sent to Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 892 at PO Box 5195, Kinston, NC 28503. Checks should be made out to “VVA 892.” Contributions will help defray local costs of bringing the wall to Kinston.