Kinston High School Academic Banquet Speech

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.



KFP: Reggie Bullock drafted by Clippers

Reggie drafted

Reggie Bullock, left, shares a light moment with high school friends, Dory Hines, Dajonte Wise and Curtis “Nootsie” Hines at Bullock’s NBA draft party at the Woodmen Community Center Thursday night.

Janet S. Carter / The Free Press

Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 at 00:05 AM.

Reggie Bullock is NBA bound.

Bullock, who decided to forego the bright lights and the limelight of television to be a part of a small gathering at the Woodmen Community Center in Kinston, was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers with the 25th overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft on Thursday.

Bullock’s selection made him Kinston’s sixth native to be taken in the draft, joining Cedric Maxwell (1977), Mitchell Wiggins (1983), Charles Shackleford (1988), Jerry Stackhouse (1995) and Herbert Hill (2007).

The announcement — Bullock watched on a pull-down screen in a side room at the Woodmen Community Center — came with an eruption of cheers and salutations for the biggest athlete basketball-wise to come through Kinston in quite some time.

“I just had to be patient and wait for my time; my time came at the right time,” an elated Bullock said. “I’m real comfortable with this position that I’m in, going to the Clippers. So, I’m just grateful — me, my family and friends.

“I’m just glad that everybody came out to support (me).”

Being drafted, no matter in what slot and to what team, has been Bullock’s goal all along.

“This is what I dreamed of, Day 1, since I played basketball at Holloway, growing up on Bright Street. This is what I’ve dreamed of,” the 22-year-old said. “My chance is here. One of the easiest parts is getting here. One of the hardest parts is staying. So I’m just going to go in there from Day 1 and work, and hopefully I’m just going to try and help the organization out as best as possible.”

Retired Rochelle Middle School basketball coach Alexander “Skeet” Davis helped mentor Bullock out at Holloway Recreation Center.

As he watched Bullock enter the Woodmen Community Center on Thursday, he was taken back to the days when Bullock would do anything to be on a basketball court.

“I’m blessed to see this day,” Davis said. “I didn’t do anything special. I just did what Mr. Davis wanted to do, and that’s work with the kids. I’m so proud for him, so glad for him.

“Reggie had that drive, that work ethic, he had the manners. He’s just one of a kind.”

Former Kinston High School principal Wynn Whittington had the privilege of watching Bullock grow into a talented young man.

Whittington knew Bullock had a special talent and was a special student at a young age.

“It’s special for all of us; it’s special for Kinston — not just the community but Kinston High School,” he said. “It’s another player who’s come through the ranks and had a tremendous impact on the school and the community and is a role model for younger folks. We’re just real proud of him and what his accomplishments are.”

Bullock’s draft day was something Whittington came to expect.

“Absolutely,” he said, when asked if he felt Bullock would someday play in the NBA. “Reggie’s work ethic and personality and the way he was raised — to work hard and to prioritize things — and he made school and basketball a priority, and he’s reaping the dividends today.”

For Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, Thursday’s achievement is something the community should be accustomed to.

“It’s always good to celebrate successes in the community, especially when it’s one of your native sons achieving a tremendous amount of success. And the good thing is, Kinston should be used to it,” Murphy said. “This is really a standard of who we are, and that’s why we’re so proud of Reggie. He’s continuing to meet that standard.”


Ryan Herman can be reached at 252-559-1073

KFP: Little shaped young lives as a coach, teacher, mentor

By Bryan C. Hanks / The Free Press


There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of youth, recreational and middle school coaches in Lenoir County over the past 50 years.

However, you’d be hard-pressed to find one who’s had more influence – or who commands more respect – than Coley Little.

Little will be inducted into the Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Hall’s new permanent home at the Woodmen Community Center. Tickets for the ceremony are now available at The Free Press and at the Woodmen Center.

For nearly four decades, Little taught or coached at several schools in the county, including Adkin and Kinston High School, along with Adkin, Rochelle and Harvey Middle School. He helped shape young minds in the classroom but helped many young men and women become outstanding athletes on the basketball court, the football and baseball fields and on the track.

“As a member of the inaugural (Kinston/Lenoir County Sports) Hall of Fame class, I cannot think of any other student-athlete, coach or administrator who is more deserving of this honor,” said Lin Dawson, who played football at Kinston High School and N.C. State before a long career for the New England Patriots. “You would be hard-pressed to find another head coach in any state who has coached as many different sports at several schools with the level of success he obtained.”

Little started the uber-successful Rochelle Middle School basketball program – and his teams promptly ran off a 55-1 record in the first four years of its existence. In the two decades since he created it, the “Little” Vikings have never lost a home game.

“He started that tradition at Rochelle … and even today, young coaches still seek his counsel,” Dawson noted. “Despite all his success, he is quick to mention, ‘It’s all about the kids.’ ”

Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Director Bill Ellis has admired Little since Ellis arrived in town.

“He’s an outstanding coach and leader of young people,” Ellis said. “But what has impressed me the most about Coach Little is his concern for kids. It doesn’t matter if they’re rich or poor, Coach Little shows every kid the same amount of respect – and that’s why they love him so much.”

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, who was a student of Little’s in middle school, said Little’s influence extends outside the sports realm.

“He wasn’t just a mentor to student-athletes, he was also very important to students, too,” Murphy said. “He has always been known to be a very fair man. He was always willing to offer a word of encouragement to anyone.”

When contacted and told he was going to be a member of the 2012 KLCSHOF class, Little exhibited his characteristic humility.

“I’m honored, but I’m thankful for the young people who played for me,” Little said. “This honor is because of them.”


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



Coley Little career highlights

n Recognized throughout Lenoir County as one of the best middle school coaches in history

n Established Rochelle Middle School basketball program and led “Little” Vikings to 55-1 record in first four years of program’s existence

n Mentored many young men and women over a four-decade career


Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame

The Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame will induct its fourth class on Saturday at the Woodmen Community Center, the new permanent home of the KLCSHOF. The Free Press is running a series of articles by Ryan Herman and Bryan C. Hanks on all 10 new inductees and the teams that will be honored at the ceremony. Here is the schedule for the stories:

Monday, Oct. 8: Doug Bruton

Tuesday, Oct. 9: Otis Clark

Wednesday, Oct. 10: Thomas Cole

Thursday, Oct. 11: Pat Crawford

Friday, Oct. 12: Wayne Floyd

Saturday, Oct. 13: Vincent Jones

Sunday, Oct. 14: North Lenoir High School girls basketball — 1964-67

Today: Coley Little

Tuesday: Hugh Pollock

Wednesday: South Lenoir High School boys basketball — 1968-69

Thursday: Carolyn Goodley Souther

Friday: Fred Williams

Saturday: Grainger High School boys basketball — 1963-65



Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame

The Kinston/Lenoir County Sports Hall of Fame will induct 10 new members at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Woodmen Community Center, the new permanent home for the KLCSHOF. Tickets cost $30. This year’s class includes: Douglas “Doug” Bruton, Otis Clark, Thomas George Cole, Pat Crawford, Wayne Floyd, Vincent Jones, Coley Little, Linwood Hugh Pollock, Carolyn Goodley Souther and Fred Williams. Boys basketball teams from Grainger (1963-64, 1964-65) and South Lenoir (1968-69) and girls teams from North Lenoir (1964-65, 1965-66, 1966-67) will also be recognized for their past achievements.

Tickets can be purchased at the Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation offices located upstairs at the Woodmen Community Center or at The Free Press.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Newsday: Jets could have a good one in Coples

by Kimberley Martin
Published 5/26/2012

The scent of burning flesh, he said, was overpowering.

His skin crackled, bubbled and hissed under the scalding heat of flaming metal. But Quinton Coples said there was no pain. Just the smell of bacon.

“All you do is just smell that burned skin,” the Jets rookie defensive end said. “Your burned skin smells like bacon. I never knew it.”

And that’s how Coples — drafted 16th overall in hope of injecting life into the Jets’ dormant pass rush — described in unemotional, straightforward detail the moment he chose to get branded as a North Carolina sophomore.

Hours before he was set to catch a flight home to Kinston, N.C., from rookie camp, Coples — along with his business manager, Kurtis Stewart — spoke at length to Newsday about his acclimation to the NFL, the misconceptions concerning his work ethic and his roots in a small city known more for its love of basketball than football.

To understand Coples, first you must understand the swollen flesh on his arms. Anyone can get a tattoo, he said. But his commitment to the cardinal principles of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity — “manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift” — went far beyond body art. Those tenets were a way of life long before he pledged, he said.

The brands just made it official. And in his mind, the bigger, the better.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” he said, referring to the multiple keloid-scarred Omega symbols on his arms.

With an impressive 6-6, 290-pound frame, a throaty Southern drawl and a laid-back demeanor, Coples may seem standoffish. But in the course of an hour and a half, he flashed enough smiles and dispensed enough wisdom beyond his 21 years to prove he’s far from what he seems. And what you might expect.

Differences in opinion

They lauded his size, his speed and his strength, but ultimately, draft experts weren’t completely sold on Coples. Especially at pick No. 16.

Concerns about his motor and effort were raised by several analysts, including ESPN‘s Mel Kiper Jr., who gave the Jets a “C” draft grade largely because they selected Coples ahead of South Carolina‘s Melvin Ingram.

“To be blunt, I just think Ingram is the superior player,” Kiper wrote.

The drop in Coples’ sack production (10 his junior year, 71/2 as a senior), plus his experience in a 4-3 defensive front — and not the Jets’ base 3-4 — forced many to agree with an assessment that he was “a colossal roll of the dice at 16.”

“He could be an All-Pro,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said, “but has bust potential written all over him.”

The criticisms struck a nerve with fans still reeling from the first-round selection of Vernon Gholston, a physical specimen who did nothing but take up space in the Jets’ locker room. But those closest to Coples paint a far different picture.

They share stories of a teenager who vowed to take care of his mother and who worked three jobs to support him and his older sister Aurriell. And they speak of a young man who grew up without his biological father around much and who later was forced to hold the Tar Heels’ program together.

“I keep watching this ESPN mess and it gets me fired up,” said Nick Anderson, Kinston High’s football coach the past two seasons. “I keep hearing about how he takes plays off, and that’s just bull, in my opinion.”

An NCAA investigation revealed that several Tar Heels, including current Giant Marvin Austin, received extra benefits from agents. As a result, several players were suspended and Coples, then a junior, was forced to learn Austin’s tackle position. Then, before the start of the next season, head coach Butch Davis and his staff were fired.

“Everyone was relying on me,” Coples said.

But he’s not one for excuses, he said. His former strength and conditioning coach, Jeff Connors, isn’t, either. Twice a week, he subjected the Tar Heel linemen to “Double Trouble,” a collection of exercises featuring 100-pound dumbbells, 40-kilogram kettle bells and little rest in between.

A supplement to their daily training regimen, it was designed to make them “bulletproof.” And no one got through the training better than Coples, Connors said.

“He’d keep telling me, ‘Hey Coach, I need heavier kettle bells because these are getting light,’ ” said Connors, who joined East Carolina‘s staff right before Coples’ senior season.

No weight-room warrior

He’s seen plenty of “weight room warriors” in his 24 years as a strength coach, but Connors said Coples’ effort and consistency always transferred from the weight room to the field while he was there. “And I think he can do that at the next level,” Connors said.

Several teams — including Carolina and Jacksonville — called Coples “every day, every week” and hinted that he’d be their pick on draft day, said Coples’ godfather, Christopher Bradshaw. But in the end, it was Rex Ryan who lived up to his word.

“When Quinton believes in an individual that sits down with him, he’s going to go through walls for that individual,” Bradshaw said. “The Jets really got a gem.”

Coples — who signed a four-year contract worth close to $9 million with a fifth-year team option — has “off-the-chart” talent, Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar raved.

“I don’t need Ambien to sleep anymore,” said Dunbar, who added the Jets see Coples as a “physical mismatch” for most guards. “My job’s going to be a whole lot easier because you got the guys you need.”

Coples has said his transition is going smoothly and that the hardest part is getting acclimated to the “three technique,” usually played by interior tackles, in a 3-4 front.

Dunbar believes it’s misguided to project the type of player Coples will become. The comparisons between Coples and six-time Pro Bowler Julius Peppers, also a North Carolina native and former Tar Heel, began during Coples’ college career. But he is focused on forging his own path.

Said Coples: “I’m trying to set my own footsteps.”

Godfather a great influence

Basketball had always been his love, but football was Coples’ calling.

The epiphany came six years ago at his godfather’s kitchen table — the site of many heart-to-heartsbetween them. When he looked in Coples’ eyes, Bradshaw saw limitless potential; the chance to be great. But the time had come for the burly 10th-grader to choose. “If you trust me in anything I might say, I want you to trust me in knowing that football is your calling,” Bradshaw said that night.

They may not be flesh and blood, but their bond goes beyond the limits of biology. When Gail Coples, a divorced single mother of two young children, asked Bradshaw to be a father figure to her son, he happily accepted his new role.

“Quinton’s going to have a family of his own and I want to make sure he knows how to raise that family the right way,” said Bradshaw, who graduated high school with Coples’ parents. He added that Coples’ father remains in contact and visits his son.

But the rookie’s support system stretches far beyond his family.

“We have basically a bunch of people with Google alerts on ‘Quinton Coples’ and ‘Jets’ out there,” Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said. “He’s a household name around these parts.”

Despite playing his senior year at Virginia‘s Hargrave Military Academy, Coples has been a fixture at Kinston football games over the years. And he was on the sideline and in the locker room this past December when his godbrother, quarterback C.J. Bradshaw, and the Vikings lost to undefeated West Stokes in the state championship game.

“He wasn’t sitting there [saying], ‘Hey guys, look at me. I’m about to get drafted,’ ” Anderson said. “I just thought that was a class act by him.”

Big man in town

Coples isn’t treated like a celebrity when he returns to Kinston, also the hometown of athletes Jerry Stackhouse and Dwight Clark. But Coples’ standing in the community is undeniable.

While he and his godfather were stopped at a red light a few weeks ago, a teenage boy ran into the street toward Coples.

“He told him, ‘Quinton, I just want to shake your hand,’ ” Bradshaw said. ” ‘I want to let you know that we as a community are very proud of you because you’re making other kids feel like they can accomplish anything.’ ”

And with nearly 22,000 people rooting for him in Kinston, Coples said he has no choice but to succeed with the Jets.

“They know I’m here for them,” said Coples, who added he’s seen violence and drug use corrupt many in his hometown. “Yeah, we’re small, but when you have a whole city that’s behind you, that’s big. That’s motivation.

“Like, how could you mess up?”


KFP: Gulledge given key to city

by Wesley Brown

UNC’s “Reggie Bullock…credits Gulledge for lifting him through the ranks at KHS”

Kinston boys basketball coach and athletics director Wells Gulledge addresses the crowd after receiving the key to the city from Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, right, during a ceremony at Pearson Park on Saturday.
Zach Frailey / The Free Press

Kinston native Reggie Bullock speaks to the crowd about his high school coach, Wells Gulledge, right, during a ceremony in which Gulledge was presented the key to the city by Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy on Saturday at Pearson Park. Zach Frailey / The Free Press

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy warned Wells Gulledge at the microphone he and other city leaders always have something up their sleeves when it comes to planning a surprise.

But Kinston High School’s head basketball coach underestimated Murphy, attempting to exit stage left Saturday afternoon at the 31st annual BBQ Festival on the Neuse seconds after the mayor proclaimed May 5, 2012 as “Coach Wells Gulledge Day” within the city’s limits.

“Wait, I got one more trick,” Murphy whispered to Gulledge, reaching down under the podium.

“The Key to the City,” Murphy exclaimed, unwrapping a plaque inscribed with a golden key.

Gulledge, 39, wiped a tear from under his right eye, stepped to the podium and graciously accepted the honor with the same zeal he has given his student athletes, their parents and the fans in and around Kinston over the past decade.

He thanked his wife, Dawnn. His thanked the coaches, both those on his staff and those that volunteer for the local recreation department.

But most of all, he thanked his players, upon promising to forever cherish the medallion widely known among cities nationwide as a symbol of freedom for the honored to enter and leave as a trusted friend of all residents.

“Words cannot describe how grateful I am to be a part of this community, where the people have warmly welcomed me and helped me achieve such a high level of success,” said Gulledge, who also serves as Kinston High School’s athletic director.

More than anything, though, Gulledge said it’s not about him; he said it’s a group effort, although the people whose lives he has touched respectfully disagree.

Gulledge came to Kinston in 2001 weeks before the season began. He led the Vikings to the 3A Eastern Regional in an inaugural season now widely considered to many as an omen of great things to come. Over past six years, Kinston has won three state titles, while playing in four NCHSAA championship games.

But it’s not Gulledge’s 83.2 winning percentage at Kinston that has earned him the reputation as the “preeminent high school basketball coach in North Carolina,” Murphy said.

It’s the fact he cares for his players — offering his home, his washer, his hard-earned money, and, among other things, a pep talk here and there to lift his athletes up during their darkest hours.

“He’s like a father figure to all his players on and off the court,” said Dory Hines, who, now the starting point guard at Mount Olive College, was in the same role for Gulledge when Kinston won titles in 2008 and 2010.

Reggie Bullock, whose lineage to Gulledge traces back to his days at Rochelle Middle School, credits Gulledge for lifting him through the ranks at KHS, where he played alongside Hines during the championship runs, to UNC, where he now starts for the Tar Heels.

But beyond the coach’s kind gestures and words, Bullock pointed out one characteristic to Gulledge’s style that has defined him as a landmark coach.

“As a coach, he does not tell you what you want to hear,” Bullock said. “He tells you what you need to hear.”


Wesley Brown can be reached at 252-559-1075 or

Wells Gulledge Day Proclamation


Pictures and related article:

Whereas, Kinston High School Athletic Director and Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach Wells Gulledge, 39, is a native of Rockingham, where he was a star guard for Richmond County High School; and

Whereas, he played basketball at Mount Olive College, was a graduate assistant and is now in the school’s Sports Hall of Fame; and

Whereas, Coach Gulledge obtained his first head-coaching position at Jacksonville High School in 1998 where he was the youngest 4A head coach in North Carolina at the age of 25; and

Whereas, Coach Gulledge came to Kinston High School in 2001 only weeks before the season began and led the Vikings to the 3A Eastern Regional, and has a 274-55 record at KHS; and

Whereas, under his leadership the Vikings have played in the NCHSAA Eastern Regional finals each of the past six years, winning four to advance to the state championship; and

Whereas, those four Viking teams earned three state titles during the last six years; and

Whereas, Coach Gulledge is known throughout the Southeastern United States for creating and running an 11-year old summer tournament called the East Coast Invitational that brings many of the best high school teams in the country to eastern North Carolina; and

Whereas, Coach Wells Gulledge, has had several dozen players go on to play college basketball in his 11-year tenure in Kinston, including Corey Rouse to ECU (Kinston class of 2002), Herbert Hill to Providence (2002), Jeremy Ingram to Wake Forest/ECU (2003), Michael Jenkins to Winthrop (2004), Miguel Starkey to LCC/UNC-Pembroke (2007), Curtis “Nootsie” Hines to LCC/Shaw (2007), Bo Ingram to Texas-Arlington (2008), Reggie Bullock to UNC (2010) and Dory Hines to Mount Olive (2010); and

Whereas, Coach Wells Gulledge is roundly acknowledged in today’s prep coaching community as being the preeminent high school basketball coach in North Carolina, regardless of age; and

Whereas, Coach Wells Gulledge was named the 2008 Associated Press Coach of the Year.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BJ Murphy, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of Kinston, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2012 as:


in the City of Kinston, NC and call upon our citizens to help celebrate this day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have here unto set my hand and caused to be affixed the official seal of the City of Kinston this 5th day of May, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and twelve.

BJ Murphy

Video: Electric Issues Town Hall via TACC9

On Tuesday, December 6th, the City of Kinston hosted a town hall on electric issues.  Here’s link to public documents and other related articles. 

Note: You can fast forward or rewind by clicking in the blue time bar area.

Kinston Town Meeting December 6 2011



KFP: About 50 show for town hall on electric issues

by David Anderson

Any Kinston resident who hoped to hear about a quick or simple method of getting their electric bills lowered did not get it from Tuesday evening’s town hall meeting.

“I want the same thing that you want,” said former City Councilman Will Barker, who also sits on the board of the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency. “I want my bill to be as low as it can be.

“Unfortunately, there is not a simple solution.”

Barker, Kinston Public Services Director Rhonda Barwick and ElectriCities CEO Graham Edwards spent nearly two hours Tuesday speaking with about 50 residents in the auditorium of the Performing Arts Center at Kinston High School.

Point by point, Barker, Barwick and Edwards explained why the bills of Kinston and other municipal electric customers are so much higher than customers of competing utilities.

In the end, it boils down to the $2 billion debt the 32-member N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency holds , which is not scheduled to be paid off for another 15 years. Kinston holds about $183 million of that debt.

“If our debt were to go away, our bills could go down by 35 percent,” Barker explained. “Absent that debt, you’re not looking at significant change.”

Barwick said Public Services staff recently took the average annual consumption of a Kinston residential customer and put it against Kinston rates and Progress Rates.

When everything that goes into an electric bill was factored in, there was a 38 percent difference between Kinston and Progress.

“Debt is the difference for us,” Barwick said.

The NCEMPA was formed during the late 1970s, when municipalities were buying power on the open market from “investor-owned,” or private, utilities, Edwards said.

Because of the state of the economy in the ’70s, electric providers knew they could not afford to build enough generating assets to fill all power needs in North Carolina on their own.

In response, municipalities agreed to help finance the construction of new facilities.

“It was the right thing to do at the time,” Edwards said. “Unfortunately, nobody knew Three Mile Island was going to happen.”

That was a 1979 incident in which an accident occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. Although no one in or around the plant was injured, the nuclear industry was subjected to much more stringent safety and environmental regulations which drove up the cost of building new facilities.

Those new facilities included the Shearon Harris plant in North Carolina.

The increase in costs and the debt needed to finance them put municipal electric customers in the bind they are still in today.

The NCEMPA and Progress Energy jointly own five coal and nuclear power plants, including Shearon Harris; 70 percent of the debt is taken up by the Harris plant.

“I think that the best alternative is, absent debt relief, is to sell the assets back to Progress or another willing buyer,” Edwards said.

Edwards and Barker said Kinston and the other NCEMPA member communities are locked into agreements with Progress to buy power through the 2030s and 2040s. They said it will be difficult to find a buyer for the generating assets because they are currently worth less than the debt owed on them.

Despite conversations with local U.S. House Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., ElectriCities and NCEMPA officials have been told Congress is not willing to give a bailout to the power agency because other public power agencies around the nation have similar debt issues, and charge rates even higher than in Eastern North Carolina.

Debt relief and rate parity with Progress would also not come from the proposed merger between Progress and Duke Energy.

Barker and Edwards said the best current solutions are for customers to weatherize their homes and decrease consumption as much as possible, and there could be some relief from the political side, as a state legislative committee has been formed to look into the matter.

The committee’s next meeting will be Jan. 10 in Raleigh; it will be open to the public.

The news did not sit well with members of the audience.

“I haven’t seen a contract yet that we can’t get out of. … Every person here has thought about moving to a place where they have lower electric rates and I don’t blame them; I’ve thought about it myself,” said Kinston resident Stanley Pearson.

Pearson tried to convince the panel to look into solar energy, and even promoted Sky Power, a Canadian solar company that has built power-generating arrays for communities in the U.S. and Canada.

Barker derided Pearson’s claims solar power would be more affordable and promote local job growth.

Edwards said solar is currently the most expensive form of power generation, and Barker said utilities are only using it in North Carolina because the state requires private and municipal utilities to get a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources.

Resident Perchrista Boone encouraged panelists to work with residents to find solutions.

“I too have thought about leaving Kinston because I want to do something else with my money other than pay utility bills,” she said.


David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or



For more information on decreasing your electric consumption, visit or call 252-939-3282. Public Services staff can perform a free energy audit on your home or business.


KFP: Mayor presents plaques to departing council members, KHS football team



David Anderson / The Free Press 
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, right, and Councilman Robbie Swinson hold up a banner honoring the 2011 Kinston High School football team while posing with the Vikings players and coaches at Monday’s meeting. 
David Anderson / The Free Press 
Departing City Council member Will Barker listens as Mayor B.J. Murphy speaks before presenting him with a plaque Monday. 

by David Anderson
The Kinston City Council chambers were packed with a standing-room only crowd Monday evening. This time, though, it was not filled with residents angry over crime or electric bills, but rather a happy crowd gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of two departing council members and the Kinston High School football team.

Alice Tingle, who spent 12 years on the council, and Will Barker, who had been in his seat for nearly five years, announced earlier this year they would not seek re-election.

“I truly feel we’re leaving a good foundation for the new City Council people coming on,” Tingle said.

Barker, who said it would be fun “going back to being a dad and a husband,” encouraged the audience to take an interest in public service and get involved “if you want to affect change.”

“Step up and make the decisions,” he said. “It’s easy to armchair quarterback; be part of the solution.”

Barker and Tingle’s seats are now occupied by the newest council members, Kelly Jarman and Sammy C. Aiken, who were elected this year and were sworn in Monday — their friends and family members also helped fill council chambers.

Jarman said she wanted to “work with all the City Council members so we can get things done.”

Aiken added, “We’re looking forward to doing great things for Kinston.”

Mayor B.J. Murphy presented plaques to the departing council members for their service, and he announced Councilman Joe Tyson — who was re-elected this year — would be elevated to mayor pro tem.

The mayor pro tem is a council member who serves in the mayor’s place if he or she cannot be present.

Tyson was sworn in Monday by Lenoir County Clerk of Courts Dawn Stroud, who also swore in Aiken and Jarman.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve you once again, and I’m here just to be your servant,” Tyson told the audience.

He and Tingle came on the council around the same time during the late 1990s, and Tyson gave her some kind departing words.

“It has been a pleasure working with you, to see your passion for the city of Kinston,” he told her.


They’re still winners

Even though they ultimately lost the state championship last week, the players and coaches of the Kinston High School football team were treated like heroes by the Kinston mayor and city council on Monday.

The Vikings battled the West Stokes High School Wildcats for the state’s 2AA title, but the Wildcats ultimately prevailed with a 21-14 victory at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh Saturday.

Kinston High made its first appearance in a state football championship game and finished the 2011 season with a 13-2 record — and the city leaders went all out to honor the team Monday.

Murphy and Councilman Robbie Swinson, who are Kinston High graduates, personally congratulated head coach Nick Anderson and his players and presented them with a banner proclaiming the team as 2AA state runners-up.

Anderson thanked the community for its support, and encouraged residents to continue to attend Friday night games.

“We’ve made history, and we’ve still got some history to make, so make sure you come and support the Vikings on Friday nights,” he said.

After the meeting, the team and city leaders gathered for a reception.


David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or

KFP: Restaurant gives football team, staff complimentary meal for great season

by Jane Moon

Restaurant gives football team, staff complimentary meal for great season

After a hard-fought struggle during Kinston High School’s last football game of the year, the team ultimately ended up being the runner-up in the NCHSAA 2AA football playoffs Saturday in Raleigh.

Despite coming in second in the playoffs, the Vikings varsity football team is still a winner in the eyes of many in Kinston.

To show how incredibly proud the community is of the team, Mo Abu-Taa invited the entire team — 47 football players and about seven coaching staff members — to eat a free meal at his restaurant. The meal consisted of cheeseburgers, pizza, subs, wings, desserts and the pièce de résistance, a 5-foot-long sub.

 “I did this to support the football team,” Abu-Taa said, “win or lose.”

Abu-Taa said he invited the team last week to eat, saying it didn’t matter the outcome of the last game of the season.

The celebration also helped summon the new name from Supreme Deli and Subs to Vernon Street Deli, at 106 E. Vernon Ave.

Coach Nick Anderson said the complimentary meal was a kind gesture from Abu-Taa and something his team appreciates.

“He is a great guy for having all these boys in here,” Anderson said. “It says a lot when they’ll go out of their way and have these kids come in who worked extremely hard. … These kids work hard every single day week in and week out. It’s nice to have something like this at the end to kind of sum it all up and kind of close it down for the season and start getting ready for next season.”

Freshman Jamarkus Witherspoon said getting the experience of playing a game at Carter-Finley Stadium was the highlight of his season.

“It feels great,” Witherspoon said. “For one, I’m a freshman, and I get a chance to play varsity so I had an experience with those who are about to leave next year and actually going to N.C. State for the first time ever and playing a championship with them. It was an honor. …

“I just loved it.”

This was the second complimentary meal the team was given this week.

Mayor B.J. Murphy said he invited the entire football team to Monday night’s City Council meeting to congratulate them for working so hard and making it to the playoffs. After the meeting, the team was given a meal, catered by Our Picnic Basket.

Senior Kyle Brown said the immense support Kinston has shown the football team this season has it already pumped up for next year.

“It feels good to know that the community is there behind you, no matter a win or a loss,” he said. “It feels good to know that no matter what, they’re not going to judge you if you lost. Your family and community will always be there for you.

“The day after, everyone was pumped for the next season.”


Jane Moon can be reached at 252-559-1082 or