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

By Junious Smith / Staff Writer 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Davis had positive reviews for the restaurant as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

KFP: Kinston officials seek restoration of state funds

By David Anderson
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012 at 20:21 PM.

Kinston leaders are working to restore a much-needed stream of state funding, which expired this year after a decade of supporting counties and municipalities.

“Our first order of business is to have individual meetings with our delegation in the (N.C.) House and Senate to discuss Kinston-specific issues, with this being one of our main focal points,” Mayor B.J. Murphy said Monday.

The General Assembly did not take up legislation during its 2012 short session which would have extended annual “transitional hold harmless” allocations that expired this year, and it could leave Kinston short by half a million dollars when it puts its budget together next year.

The allocations were enacted by the Legislature in 2002 to help communities make up the loss of shared revenue from a tax on business inventory, which had been repealed.

Counties and cities could establish a local option sales tax, and the state would help them make up any difference with transitional hold harmless payments every year for 10 years.

“The thought was in 2002 when you got to 2012 that the revenue from the local option sales tax would be more than what the original revenue source would have been, and I think we were well underway to do that,” City Manager Tony Sears told the members of the Kinston City Council recently. “I think, given the state of the economy in the ’90s and the early 2000s, that that was believable.”

The state of North Carolina’s and the national economy during the past four to five years has made it difficult for many communities to make up the difference, though, including Kinston.

“We haven’t received the gains that we thought we were going to get from the local options sales tax,” Sears said.

The city manager told the council the city would be without a traditional $509,000 hold harmless payment when the budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year is put together next year.

The hold harmless money supports the city’s $21.4 million general fund, about a fifth of the city’s adopted $99.4 million budget for 2012-2013.

“About half a million of that could be impacted by this one action of the General Assembly,” Murphy said.

The City Council voted unanimously last week to send a resolution to the N.C. League of Municipalities urging it to “make restoration of the ‘transitional hold harmless’ payment one of its highest legislative goals in the 2013 Session of the General Assembly.”

Losing hold harmless payments would affect 122 municipalities and 17 counties in North Carolina, according to the resolution.

The mayor said he and other city leaders plan to meet with the members of Lenoir County’s legislative delegation — which has a host of new faces thanks to statewide redistricting and this month’s election — during the weeks and months preceding the beginning of the 2013 legislative session early next year.

Lenoir County Manager Mike Jarman said the county does not receive a hold harmless payment because the state took over the burden of administering its Medicaid program in 2007 — along with a portion of sales tax funds which would support county administration of Medicaid.

Jarman said Medicaid cost the county much more than $500,000 to administer each year.

“We’re better off losing the sales tax and not having to pay the Medicaid burden,” he said.


David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 orDavid.Anderson@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at DavidFreePress.



Fast facts on transitional hold harmless:

n Payments to counties and municipalities enacted in 2002

n Payments expired this year

n City of Kinston stands to lose $509,750 next year without payment

n 122 and 17 counties would suffer due to loss of payments

Source: City of Kinston Resolution – Transitional Hold Harmless


KFP: Transportation Committee votes against median

by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press

Committee votes 6-1, encouraging DOT to hold construction until “access concerns” settled

Members of the Lenoir County Transportation Committee voted 6-1 Wednesday for a resolution encouraging the N.C. Department of Transportation to hold off building a median along U.S. 70 East until all “access concerns” are dealt with.

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, a voting member of the committee, put forth the resolution in the wake of a long-running local controversy over the proposed median.

It will now go to the Lenoir County Commissioners and Kinston City Council for a vote.

Lenoir County Commissioner J. Mac Daughety, who chaired Wednesday’s meeting, cast the lone vote against the resolution. He did not speak in detail about why he was against the resolution.

Read Entire Story

Click Here for the Resolution

Resolution Opposing US 70 Median Project – Passes Committee

The Lenoir County Transporation Committee took up the US 70 median project today.  The resolution, which is linked below, passed 6-1.

Motion to adopt resolution to stop the US 70 median project – Mayor Murphy, Kinston
2nd – John Craft, La Grange

Yes – Dan Sale, Lenoir County At Large
Yes – Mayor Murphy
No – Mac Daughety, Lenoir County Commissioner
Yes – John Craft
Yes – Donald King, Pink Hill Commissioner
Yes – Joe Bower, Chamber of Commerce
Yes – Bill Whaley, Lenoir County Economic Development
Recused – Charlie Diehl, GTP

LCTC Resolution US70 Median Project – SIGNED 20110413