Thumbs up, thumbs down: Adopt-A-Classroom comes through for Wilson County kids

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


THUMBS UP to Brewmasters of Wilson for organizing another successful Adopt-A-Classroom school supply drive, and an enthusiastic thumbs up to the business’ patrons, sponsors and supporters who pitched in to make a difference for Wilson County kids.

Molly Youssef, who owns Brewmasters with her husband Morkos and is a teacher herself, delivered boxes and crates brimming with school tools to dozens of classrooms last Tuesday and Wednesday — just in time for Thanksgiving.

“Our customers really stepped up this year and donated a lot of money and supplies,” she told Times reporter Olivia Neeley. “Some of them even took on whole classrooms on their own.”

Merck showed exemplary corporate citizenship with a $2,500 donation to the program, which fulfills teachers’ wish lists for basic items like copy paper, glue sticks and printer ink to classroom comforts like beanbag chairs and plush carpets for the little ones and supplements strained budgets for curriculum-approved learning resources.

The Wilson Times was proud to adopt four classrooms this year — three at Winstead Elementary and one at Elm City Middle. We join a bevy of local businesses, families and individuals in the effort.

Apart from meeting students’ needs for class supplies, the donation drive and prize patrol-style deliveries communicate a message of support to educators and their pupils. Students learn that folks they’ve never met are rooting for them and are invested in their success.

Bravo to Brewmasters for making it all happen.

THUMBS DOWN to a bridge-busting truck driver whose carelessness cracked a concrete girder on the U.S. 301/East Langley Road bridge east of Elm City last week, closing the span to traffic and spraying the road with debris that caused significant damage to several vehicles.

The N.C. Department of Transportation released a surveillance camera image of the offending truck, which appears to be a flatbed hauler. The grainy, motion-blurred photograph may not be enough to identify the vehicle that caused the damage, but we’re certain the bridge left dents, scratches and scrapes that aren’t easily overlooked.

NCDOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale said the bridge’s low 14-foot, 6-inch clearance is an obstacle seasoned drivers know to avoid.

“The driver, had he or she been doing their job properly, they would not have struck the bridge,” Barksdale said. “He should have avoided the bridge. It’s not the bridge’s fault. It’s the driver’s fault.”

The damage will take two to three weeks to fix, and it isn’t clear who will ultimately pay to repair the cars that struck stray chunks of concrete shortly after the big rig smacked into the bridge’s support girder.

We urge the driver to come forward and accept responsibility for the hit-and-run crash, and for anyone who can identify the truck involved to help transportation officials track it down. Anyone with information on the suspect vehicle is asked to call the NCDOT’s Division 4 office in Wilson at 252-640-6400.

THUMBS UP to members of the Gentlemen’s Agreement male mentoring program at Wilson County Schools who volunteered last week to begin clearing branches, brambles and tall grass in an African-American graveyard beside the Wiggins Mill water treatment plant on Forest Hills Road.

Landscaping the hallowed ground is the first step to preserving the inhabitants’ final resting place. Wilson County property records list no current owners for the quarter-acre cemetery. Several tombstones bear the names Darden and Herring, the same surnames as some of Wilson’s African-American trailblazers in public life and education.

“Doing this is kind of paying respect ... if it wasn’t for them, we probably wouldn’t even be here,” 11-year-old Ryan Jones told Times reporter Olivia Neeley.

“It’s a great project because we get to help build a better resting place for our brothers and sisters who have fought hard for their lives and our freedom,” explained 12-year-old Khamani Thomas.. “And I am really thankful for this project.”

The Wilson County Genealogical Society is helping Gentlemen’s Agreement members with the project’s second phase, which will include researching the names and histories of those buried in the forgotten cemetery.

Working together, students and genealogists will ensure that the physical gravesites and the stories of those laid to rest there won’t be forever lost to history.