GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - City Council leaders are moving forward with a project in Greenville that will change the price of visiting the Uptown Greenville area.
During the public comment period, direct addresses to the council showed some people disagreed with what was on the table.
“It’s unfair and it has created a sense of fear for loss of business once it is enforced,” said Jana Palmiter, an employee of Starlight Café on 5th Street.
In a 4-1 vote, with Will Bell not in attendance and Marion Blackburn in opposition, the plan was approved.
From 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., parking on the street of the Uptown district will be free for the first hour and one dollar an hour after that for up to three hours.
In surface lots during those times, the first hour is free and each hour after that is 75 cents.
For residents and workers of the Uptown area, there are a few options when it comes to leasing a parking spot.
Those who live Uptown can pay $70.00 a month for a reserved space or $50.00 a month for unreserved space.
Business owners and employees will pay $20.00 a month per driver.
The leasing rates are a stark year over jump of 220% for workers and 700% for residents with an E-tag permit.
“Now, it’s not the $75.00 for the blanket E-tag,” said Deputy City Manager Michael Cowin, “This is still much more affordable to lease Uptown and live Uptown than they would see in a private lot.”
The pricing still has opposition.
“The city of Greenville claims to support and be an area where small businesses thrive,” said Palmiter. “Please consider the effects in the small businesses downtown and the hundreds of employees who depend on them for their livelihood, such as myself.”
Even with that kind of opposition, the plan will take effect next year.
Applications for residential leases and employer permits will be open in November 2022.
The new rates will begin for street and surface lot parking in January 2023.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - For more than 300,000 children in Eastern Carolina, school lunch is a necessity to get the nutrient-filled meals they need.
With the school year over, some families may be struggling to provide.
But in Greenville, the Salvation Army has partnered with the Food Bank to fill that gap, and all kids have to do is show up.
“Being fed, being full, and being nourished is not a privilege,” said volunteer Barcey Godwin. “It’s a basic human right.”
Until August 26, families can visit the Salvation Army on S. Memorial Dr. for a free meal for kids 18 years old and under every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Each day the menu is something different.
“Nachos and cheese, some milk, some vegetables and a banana,” said Anna Rossi in between bites. “It was really good.”
For the volunteers, going without food is a struggle that hits close to home.
“If they’re anything like me growing up, school food is the only food you have,” said Godwin.
It’s difficult for parents to keep everything from their children, no matter how hard they try.
Another volunteer, Matt Johnson, recalls growing up with his mom, who had to provide for two kids on one salary.
“I know she hit the food bank several times when I was growing up, probably more than I realized,” said Johnson.
At the end of June, millions of families are expecting the COVID free school lunch program to expire, but food insecurity is nothing new to the East.
“I’m 25 years old. I remember when I was 5 being hungry and there was no COVID 20 years ago,” said Godwin.
On Tuesday, a group of bipartisan lawmakers announced a bill that would extend the food program through the summer.
Amongst those spearheading the effort is republican senator Virginia Foxx from North Carolina’s fifth district.
But the extension has not yet been approved.
To have come through that hardship and make it out to the other side, volunteers are hoping to change the story for the next generation of kids.
“Maybe you’re eating toast because that’s all you’ve got is a loaf of bread and a toaster, but to be able to give people a chance at a relatively balanced meal, it’s definitely something I was interested in trying to do,” said Johnson.
If you are fortunate to not be experiencing food insecurity, volunteers say there is still something you can do to help: get the word out about the program.
In the first two days of the program, they have given away just 15-percent of the lunches they have available.
Eastern Carolinians navigate heat & high gas prices as summer officially arrives
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Tuesday marks the longest day of the year and the official start of summer, but with gas prices in Eastern Carolina flirting with $5 a gallon, plans are shifting for motorists.
The Summer Solstice means people are looking at more than 14 and a half hours of daylight, the most seen this year. The amount of sunlight means people have a lot of time to work with this summer, but increased inflation means quite another thing for families and their plans.
After Juneteenth and Father’s Day, drivers are hoping for another special day, a gas tax holiday. The day would look like an 18.3 cent discount per gallon when people go to fill up. However, it would require congressional action, and lawmakers aren’t yet jumping into motion.
President Biden is also considering a gas rebate card system as part of the operation. The administration’s course of action should be laid out later this week.
Until then, drivers in the East are working with what they have.
“As you see right now, I’ve got a load,” driver Malyle Braxton says. “It’s more than $85 to fill up every other day because I ride all day. Shoot, it’s been hot since April. Heat, heat! You better have a hat or something.”
The heat has been something Eastern Carolinians have been dealing with for months now, as Braxton alludes to.
Congressional Democrats have not been quick to back the president on the gas tax holiday, saying that the legislation would not provide much relief, particularly if retailers raise their base price per gallon in response.
PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The state is imposing new suspensions for the poultry industry as High Path Avian Influenza infections are on the rise.
Tuesday, North Carolina’s state veterinarian, Dr. Michael Martin, put a pause on all poultry shows and mass public sales.
More than 350,000 birds have been euthanized this week in the state, but the total number of birds affected is still unknown as with each new positive site, the state broadens its testing parameters.
Martin is tightening the reigns on bird gatherings, all in an attempt to beat the clock on migration patterns of infected wild birds out of the state and to keep cross-contamination as subdued as possible.
Feed store owners now wonder what this might mean for their industry.
“If there was a ban on commercial sales, that’s going to impact us pretty heavily,” said Greg Cannon, the owner of a hardware and feed store in Farmville.
Cannon sold the last chick of his most recent order, but with high path bird flu ripping through the country he wonders if it is safe to order more.
“We certainly have been concerned about it, but we’ve sold some chicks this year,” said Cannon. “We usually sell about 600 chicks a year out of the store.”
Seven commercial farming operations across Johnston and Wayne Counties euthanized more than 90,000 turkeys and more than 280,000 chickens in the past week.
“What we’re seeing with the spread of this virus in our commercial birds and also what we’re seeing nationally, shows that there’s a lot that we still have not learned about how this virus actually sheds,” said Martin.
His office most recently placed a suspension on all poultry shows and live public sales of birds but relief came for Cannon and other feed store owners.
“This is not for, like say pet stores and that type of thing, but we’re talking about open sales, auctions, swaps, poultry shows,” explained Martin, “Those types of things, where we have a large group of people that are coming together with maybe a mixed group of birds.”
Cannon acts diligently to keep his product safe from infection saying, “I want to make sure when we order our [hatchlings] that we get them immunized before they come here.”
All the while, he tries to keep the local industries afloat through the threat.
“I do have some farmers that have chicken houses and they are concerned about it,” continued Cannon. “They obviously don’t handle my chickens and don’t get around my chickens when they are here.”
Biosecurity is essential to containing bird flu.
Humans are safe from contracting the virus, but they can easily transmit infection if say they handle a sick bird and then touch other birds without washing up first.
The best thing for commercial and backyard flock owners to do is to limit their flock’s contact with other birds as much as possible.
At one time that excluded common backyard songbirds, but now the state says to err on the side of caution and quarantine your flocks whenever you can.
Infected birds do not pose a threat to the food supply, but Martin says no contaminated flocks will make it to processing centers because the risk of further infecting more flocks is too high.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Pregame coverage of the NCAA Basketball Championship is underway as bars and restaurants across the East prepare for a busy night of UNC vs. Kansas action.
Monday night’s game is the finale of the weekend for Uptown Greenville spots. Doggie Jams and the Final Four match-up kept bartenders and servers on their feet.
“It’s a great game. We’re supporting local restaurants,” said Terence Green, a self-proclaimed UNC super-fan. “Everybody, we have a good time. I’m a little nervous, but guess what, I wore my jersey. We’re gonna see how it works out.”
Yet, that won’t stop the televisions from staying on and the doors staying open late once the UNC Tar Heels and Kansas Jayhawks tip-off at 9:20 ET.
“We’re doing really well actually. This was a really good weekend for us,” said Blackened Kraken bartender Julianne Hughes. “All of the events brought a lot of people in, a lot of families and college students, so we are very stocked behind the bar.”
Calling in more staff to have on hand than they typically would on a Monday night, Hughes’ team is ready for a full house and a long line of bar tickets to fulfill.
“I’m a bartenders and like we get big crowds at my job, but this is a huge crowd right now,” said New Bern resident Sidney Legette ”We’ve got a lot of UNC fans.”
Hughes will be mixing up a special menu item just for tonight’s match, a Tar Heel shot.
“A Tar Heel shot is also known as a Blue Kamikaze. It’s equal parts vodka, blue curacao, and lime juice,” said Hughes, “and it’s a light blue color.”
For the 12th time, the Tar Heels will battle the Jayhawks for the championship title. UNC is hoping to continue its winning streak for a seventh overall win.
“Everything has been prepped either this morning or last night. So, we are ready for as many people as possible to come in,” added Hughes.
Good food, good drinks, and good times aren’t the only things expected out of the East for the game. Former ECU basketball coach Jeff Lebo and former Kinston High Viking Dontrez Stylez will represent the Tar Heels in the Big Easy.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - It is flu season for birds and the current strain of High Path Avian Influenza, or Bird Flu, caused the euthanization of 32,100 turkeys in Johnston County.
WITN first spoke with North Carolina’s state veterinarian in February about the outbreak in wild waterfowl. Now that the disease spread into commercial and backyard flocks, we checked back in.
“If we can just at least get to the other side of the season then hopefully, we’ll be in a better place,” said state veterinarian Dr. Michael Martin.
Martin says the good news is, the illness is not a threat to people or food safety. He said, “We had been lucky so far. We knew that this virus was in our wild waterfowl. We have been on heightened alert in North Carolina since the middle of January.”
The state is now testing flocks within 6.2 miles of the infected farm, but backyard flock owners should be taking precautions as well.
“Birds having contact or association with wild waterfowl is always considered a high risk factor. Beyond that, there’s maybe more things that you can kind of speculate on or guess on,” said Martin. “One of the things that concerns me personally is are there other wild bird species that are carrying this disease?”
Dr. Martin is talking about songbirds. They were previously written off to be safe from the flu, but now researchers aren’t so sure.
The best practice, he says, is to strictly follow biosecurity measures even in your own backyard.
“To the backyard, independent flock owners, if you can keep your birds enclosed in a coop or at least pent up in and it’s not going to create a welfare problem with those birds, we still highly encourage you to do that,” advised Martin. “We know this virus existed in our wild bird populations and so if you can protect them without creating a welfare problem, you definitely should do that. And then again, that biosecurity: clean clothes, clean shoes, clean hands, is really going to be critical.”
Treat the flu like wet paint, he explains, If you’ve come in contact with other birds, don’t touch anything until you’ve washed up.
The Johnston County farm now joins 48 other commercial farms in 12 states where the virus has been found. Also, 32 backyard flocks in 13 states have tested positive, all this year.
Although the low risk to people can ease some minds, the high mortality and transmissibility of this virus should always be treated with caution.
Some of the early warning signs of the flu in flocks include reduced energy, irregular egg production, and swelling or purple discoloration.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Dozens of Eastern Carolina breweries pitched a tent and iced down a few kegs to introduce themselves to people in Greenville.
Dickinson Avenue After Dark brought in hundreds of friends and families to sample out the food and drinks of the East.
Before the Sun went down in Greenville, brewers prepared their booths in anticipation for thirsty customers.
“It’s just really high quality, Eastern North Carolina beer, and I think everybody’s excited to try it,” said Benjamin Self, a brewer at Local Oak Brewery.
Each festival goer brought their own game plan to tackle this season’s festival.
“We got a few sample tickets,” said Dan Glazewski. “I think we’re going to walk around and sample everything and then get a full one at the end.”
It is just as fun for those on the other side of the tap.
“And as a brewer, that’s why I like coming to events like this,” said Self. “We tend to attract a lot of beer geeks. These are people that want to talk about the beers they love so this is the perfect place to engage with these folks.”
After trying out some local brews, food trucks are to the rescue. All of the East’s household names lined the road to serve hot dogs, tacos, pizza, barbeque, ice cream, and more.
“I passed Anita’s, and I pass it every day on my way home from work, so I’m definitely going to try that one,” said Glazewski. It’s a chance for drinkers to branch out.
“People are always looking for a new place to come out for afternoons or evenings,” said Self, “and brewery taprooms are a big part of that.”
The local-vendor-exclusive experience allows for changing up the routine and rotating the flavors, each one brewed with intension.
“Because we’re small and local, we always have new things to try on tap. So, that’s what people are going to be looking for tonight. What have you got that’s new? Show me something new,” said Self.
Dickinson Avenue After Dark was inspired by a trip to New Orleans where organizers stumbled upon a beer and art festival and took the concept back home with them to the East.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday that consumer prices jumped 7.5% last month compared with a year earlier, affecting all goods and services.
Families are struggling with rising costs from diapers to snacks, and are making sacrifices to stay on budget.
“You definitely have to stretch a buck farther than you’ve expected,” James Trimble, a Pitt County father of two said.
From December 2020 to December 2021, the consumer price index rose for meat and eggs in the double digits, and it’s forecasted to rise even higher this year.
As Trimble shops for his family, he notices a rise in “meat, the pampers, clothes, everything. You have to budget stuff and you have to be on top of it.”
The inflation rate increase seen across the countries is the highest price jump seen in four decades.
Some parents are having to shift their spending to make ends meet.
“Snacks and stuff you can hold out on, maybe get a lower brand of this snack and stretch the buck,” Trimble said, “but you definitely have to have Pampers, wipes, and clothes.”
Trimble’s family saves money where they can by utilizing free resources like the playground at Town Common in Greenville, but more financial challenges loom on the horizon.
“I don’t think any family, no matter how well-off they are, could support one child educationally right now,” Lauren Freeman, a childcare provider and student said.
At the end of the day, Trimble says of his kids, “We’ll make sure they are taken care of first.”
Meanwhile, some economists see a chance to regulate the surge.
“At this point, I am cautiously optimistic that we will get this under control like we did in the past,” said Dr. Haiyong Liu, East Carolina University Economics Department chair said.
Eyes turn now to the federal government, which may decide to raise the key rate in March by one-half of a percentage point. Typically, it is a quarter-point hike.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As the snow and ice melted in Eastern Carolina on Sunday, the eateries and shops that closed a day before due to weather reopened.
“Friday night we were actually open and when the weather got bad, we decided to close, just because we didn’t know how the roads were actually going to be,” said Victoria Jenkins, a manager at Tiebreakers in Greenville. “It was better to be safe than sorry to make sure that the staff was safe and could actually travel.”
Jenkins says managers followed forecasts closely, making safety calls as necessary.
With the roads clearer than before, the sports bar was full of mostly families and large groups, including the Hines family, who came in for an opportunity to get out.
“We’ve been home for two days,” said Kimberly Hines. “Yesterday, we stayed home and took extra caution and didn’t go out on the roads.”
On Saturday, the NFL Conference playoff games would have brought in big crowds.
“It kind of hurt us because we probably would have been really busy,” said Jenkins. “But with today, being back open again, we’ve been really busy since we opened.”
Hines’s son, Colton, was looking forward to seeing Los Angeles Rams take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tiebreakers management said they have a game plan, working to make back the revenue lost over the weekend from the weather.
“If we get snow, I think we’ll always be open, but when there’s ice involved, that’s when it gets a little riskier,” said Jenkins.
And as conditions improve, business is expected to go back to normal.
ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Snorts and squawks were the sounds that marked a new beginning for the Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary in Onslow County as they officially reopened their gates on Sunday.
“We’re trying to let people who love animals have a place to express that love and be able to do things for them,” said sanctuary director Toni O’Neil. “Or just be able to support them financially knowing that there’s a place that’s going to continue to be here forever.”
The sanctuary faced many challenges in the past year, including damage from a hurricane and losing fundraising and volunteer opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newly renovated, O’Neil said they have the opportunity to teach the community about wildlife in North Carolina while also caring for those injured and in need of rehabilitation.
“We get a lot of babies and that people think they can raise themselves or birds of prey,” said volunteer Andrew Baughman. “They think they can keep his pets, but unfortunately, that isn’t best for the animal. They need care to be able to be released back into the wild.”
Care that Baughman is well-versed in, such as with possums.
“You can’t really release a possum with over half of its tail missing,” said Baughman. “They don’t use it to hang like you see in the movies. They do use it for balance and collecting nesting materials.”
Several of the sanctuary’s tenants are educational ambassadors, including a rabbit named Lorette, who is used to educate the public about the dangers of bunny breeding.
“People do breed a lot of rabbits and a lot of domestic animals in general. Domestic rabbits aren’t able to survive in the wild,” said Baughman. “They’re meant to be pets. The big thing with our education ambassadors is to help educate the public on my North Carolina’s wild life is so important to help conserve.”
At 16-years-old, Baughman takes on the educational responsibility fearlessly.
“Getting to know your affecting nature in such a positive way, combating the negative effects of people, getting to release them back into the wild— it’s very fulfilling. If the animals were not here we wouldn’t be here, so it’s pretty important to me to be able to do that as well,” he said.
The fall fundraiser is the sanctuary’s largest source of community income. More than $4,500 of prizes were raffled off to generate funds for continued improvements for the animals.
Guided tours are available daily at the sanctuary located at 119 Doe Dr. Hubert, NC 28539. More information on how to visit or support Possumwood Acres can be found here.
Every story you see here is written, filmed, edited, fronted, and day-turned by Maddie. As an MMJ with WITN, she really does it all!