Local and American citizens faced many changes and challenges in 2016, from the election of a new president to wide-spread flooding and damage from a hurricane storm system.
Trump secures win
Following months of political rallies, heated debates and contested races, Americans woke up Nov. 9 to the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.
Much like the presidential race, that for governor of the state of North Carolina was hotly-contested, as Republican Gov. Pat McCrory fell to his Democratic challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper. Following election night results, the race was too close to call, sending election officials into a ballot recount and the eventual conceding of McCrory.
Trump amassed 14,761 votes (57.24 percent) in Sampson to Hillary Clinton’s 10,486 votes (40.66 percent).
Election results showed Trump took 16 precincts, including Newton Grove, Westbrook, Plainview, Mingo, Herring, Kitty Fork, Salemburg, Clement, Roseboro, West Clinton, Northeast Clinton, Southwest Clinton, Ingold, Autryville, Keener and Rowan. Clinton carried six precincts, including East Clinton, Central Clinton, Giddensville, Lakewood, Garland and Harrells. Turkey was a tie, with Trump and Clinton each garnering 213 votes apiece.
Early voting in North Carolina gave a slight edge to Trump, who amassed 1,072,174 votes (49.58 percent) to Clinton’s 1,020,475 votes (47.19 percent). In Sampson County, Trump had a wider lead over Clinton, 8,489 votes (54.33 percent) to 6,872 votes (43.98 percent) after one-stop and kept that margin through Election Day.
In the North Carolina governor’s race, incumbent McCrory was pitted against Democrat challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper. While it was too close to call shortly after polls closed election night, Sampson voters were resoundingly in favor of McCrory, who received 14,860 votes (57.99 percent) to Cooper’s 10,508 (41.01 percent).
Matthew devastates Sampson
When many Sampson County residents went to bed Saturday, Oct. 8, they never imagined the destruction they would awaken to Sunday morning, as Hurricane Matthew blew across the state, leaving dozens of inches of rain behind.
The effects of Hurricane Matthew will long be felt in Sampson County, as many roads were washed out, houses and properties flooded, power lines downed and communities left in the dark for days.
Officials with both local school systems were forced to cancel school for more than a week. Students in Clinton City Schools were able to return on Monday, Oct. 17, but those students in Sampson County were only allowed to return on a delayed schedule two days later.
At one time, more than a hundred roads in Sampson County were closed due to flooding or wash outs. Nearly three months after the storm, nearly 25 roads remain closed, with a projected opening date well into the spring.
Emergency shelters were opened in numerous locations, including the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center, Union Elementary School, Hobbton Middle School, Midway High School and Sampson Middle School.
Efforts were made by area organizations and individuals to bring water and supplies into the flooded areas of the county. Many residents are still displaced from their homes as they are fighting to rebuild what once stood.
Following the storm, the National Guard in Sampson County assisted with numerous water rescues, as motorists took to the roads despite warnings from local emergency personnel. Curfews were set across the county and area towns to keep people at home and safe, and not traveling the flooded and washed out roads.
Community supports Tucker
The community rallied behind infant Jackson Tucker, following his diagnosis of a rare-form of Leukemia. Hundreds gathered shortly after his diagnosis for Be the Match drive, looking for a match to be a bone marrow donor for the young boy.
Jackson, who is the son of Heather and Reginald Tucker, was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was just a few months old. In July 2016, Jackson received a bone marrow transplant, spending the next 98 days in Chapel Hill to monitor his progress.
In June, the community rallied behind Jackson, as more than 400 people came out to the Be the Match donor drive with the hopes of becoming a match for Jackson’s transplant. While a donor wasn’t found at the drive, doctors continued searching. This wasn’t easy, as Jackson is biracial and an exact match is more difficult to find. Jackson’s match was found in the cord blood bank registry.
Jackson has a 50-60 percent chance that he will have to undergo a second transplant before he is cured from the disease. Luckily, Jackson’s cancer was discovered early. Jackson has returned weekly to have blood work done and occasionally receive a transfusion to help boost his immune system.
Hollerin’ comes to end
In June, after 47 years of the National Hollerin’ Contest in Spivey’s Corner, the event was suspended, but left the door open to one final event in 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary.
Members of the fundraising committee made the announcement after the decision to head in a different path was made. The event launched in 1969, putting the small Sampson community on the map behind the drive and determination of founder, Ermon Godwin.
The first contest was held the third Saturday in June 1969 at Midway High School and became an annual summer tradition and served as the Spivey’s Corner Volunteer Fire Department’s big fundraising effort. In the early years, the contest would bring in nearly 5,000 people to hear the voices of Tom T. Hall and Dolly Parton.
Interest slowly began to die and the tradition was changed from the third Saturday in June to the second Saturday in September. Repackaged as the Hollerin’ Heritage Festival, the goal was for the event to continue to be a summer staple where attendees could have fun while getting a history lesson on hollering and its importance.
Former hollerin’ champions Robby Goodman and Irus Turner organized the first-annual Wold Wide Hollerin’ Festival last fall in an effort continue keeping the hollerin’ tradition alive.
Sallie Hardison honored
Former College Street students officially unveiled a portrait of Sallie L. Hardison, honoring her for her hard work and dedication to Clinton City Schools, serving as a custodian from 1949-78.
The idea to honor Hardison came from a Facebook post made by former student Renee Butler Edge. Edge, along with fellow alum Ronnie Alderman, then talked about honoring Hardison in a tangible way.
Hardison’s daughter, Queenie, recalled the times her mother would walk from their McKoy Street home to the school, in the cold and rain. Eventually, her good friend and long time College Street principal Gussie Parker, would give her a ride.
The portraits of both Hardison and Parker now hang on the wall of the lobby at the College Street School.
Parker’s portrait was unearthed from storage as Hardison’s was being commissioned and the perfect spot for it scouted. The portrait had been wrapped and placed in a closet when the walls were painted years ago and never returned to its place. Originally presented by the College Street School PTA on May 5, 1964, the portrait now hangs restored.
During the unveiling, former students spoke, recalling Hardison and life at College Street School.