WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Our Opinion: First responders, local agencies work to keep Wilson safe

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THUMBS UP to Wilson County’s first responders, local governments and schools for their commitment to preparedness and public outreach in advance of Hurricane Dorian’s arrival.

The Wilson County Emergency Management team of Director Gordon Deno and Community Preparedness Coordinator Rodney Dancy have tracked the storm’s path, sussed out the likely impact on Wilson and shared that information in conferences with city and county leaders. They’ve also made vital details available to residents with continuous updates to the “Ready Wilson County” Facebook page.

County Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Boyette and County Manager Denise Stinagle declared a state of emergency on Wednesday afternoon. The declaration will allow local agencies to request help from regional and state partners if needed. Our police officers and sheriff’s deputies, our city and volunteer firefighters and our emergency medical technicians and rescue squad members are at the ready.

As of this writing, the city of Wilson and Wilson County governments have declined to impose mandatory overnight curfews, a troubling step that at least 10 eastern North Carolina communities have taken. While we share leaders’ safety concerns, city and county boards who don’t bother to order evacuations ought not interfere with residents who wish to head for higher ground at the time of their choosing. Wilson County officials seem to have more respect for their constituents than to order them inside their homes at sunset under penalty of arrest.

Wilson County Schools, Barton College, Wilson Preparatory Academy and the Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education made the wise decision to cancel classes and worked hard to spread the word on social media.

Whatever Dorian brings, Wilson and Wilson County agencies will respond swiftly, with protection of life and preservation of property their top priorities. We thank and salute our local leaders, first responders and community stakeholders for taking this natural disaster seriously and setting an example for businesses, families and individuals to follow.

THUMBS DOWN to a Saturday vandalism spree that took the St. John Community Development Corp.’s four Save-A-Youth after-school program buses out of commission. Four young people tossed rocks and cement blocks at the buses, shattering their windshields and glass doorpanes and rendering them unsafe to drive.

Michael Bell, the nonprofit’s executive director who also represents District 2 on the Wilson City Council, said this is the seventh time Save-A-Youth has faced vandalism since 2011.

“It grieves my spirit and tears me deeply to see the same children we’re trying to save turn around and destroy the property that takes them from school to home and from home to school,” Bell told Times reporter Brie Handgraaf. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Save-A-Youth wants the vandals to be held responsible, but Bell also asked: “How do we turn these kids around?” He’s as concerned about these four kids’ troubled path as he is the SAY program’s 259 participants who are temporarily without transportation.

Through the juvenile justice system, teen court or deferred prosecution, the perpetrators could have a chance to avoid lifelong criminal records. But the first step toward reconciliation is restitution. The vandals should come forward, apologize and seek to make amends.

To help Save-A-Youth repair its broken buses, call 252-265-9764 or visit www.stjohncdcwilson.org.

THUMBS UP to the Wilson County Historical Association for commemorating the Fike Cyclones’ legendary state championship three-peat with a historical marker unveiled Tuesday at Fike High School.

Led by coach Henry Trevathan, the scrappy Cyclones overcame long odds and gauntlet of good teams to bring the 4-A state football title to Wilson in 1967, ‘68 and ‘69.

Cyclones football was the greatest show on turf, and the team’s success put Wilson on the map as a high school gridiron powerhouse. Carlester Crumpler, a running back on all three title teams, praised Trevathan’s coaching and said the student-athletes who played for him will “keep talking about it and we’ll keep doing something about it as long as we live.”

A monument honoring Trevathan and the teams will also be dedicated at the high school. The ceremony was postponed from today to Oct. 11 due to Hurricane Dorian. But a tropical cyclone will never overshadow the Fike Cyclones’ Friday night magic.

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