Homegoing for Hardy “Penny” Matthews

My condolence goes out to classmate Phyllis Matthews Braswell & family on the loss of your love one (father) Hardy Penny Matthews.

Script.: Read Eccles. 3 and know, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”

Song: The Storm Is Over Now – Kirk Franklin

The Obituary

Viewing – Friday August 26 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM Hunter Odom Funeral Home Rocky Mount NC

Homegoing – Saturday August 27 1:00 PM Crisp Chapel Crisp NC

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Note: Updated 8/26/11

Homegoing Minister Shelton Keyes

My condolence goes out to my niece Latrice Keyes & family on the loss of your love one Minister Shelton Keyes.

Script.: Read Eccles. 3 and know, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”

Song: He Has His Hands On You – Marvin Sapp

The ObituaryServices will be held Sunday August 28, 2011 1:30 PM.

Note: Updated: 8/27/11 10:27 AM.

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Media Alert – Edgecombe County Public Schools and earthquake


Re: Edgecombe County Public Schools and earthquake


North Carolina experienced tremors this afternoon from a 5.9 earthquake which started in Virginia at approximately 1:55 p.m. and was felt as far as Ohio. Students and staff, along with other Edgecombe County citizens felt the effects of the earthquake at or around 1:57 p.m. Several schools in the district were conducting Open Houses for their parents, staff and students at the time of the quake.

All schools in the district were contacted and there are no reports of any damages found in the structures of the buildings. Principals have been advised to walk through their school to check for gas leaks, water leaks, and any electrical problems that may have been caused by the after shock.
Dr. Wayne Talley, superintendent of ECPS, contacted Butch Beach, director of Emergency Services with Edgecombe County and Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight, to ensure that no evacuations or other actions had been taken by other businesses and locations in the area. Since there was no damage reported to the school buildings, the Open Houses that were currently in session continued.

Lauren H. Edmondson

(252) 641-2654
Communications Specialist
Edgecombe County Public Schools
412 Pearl Street
Tarboro, NC 27886
(252) 641-2600

The Cost of Self-Defense: – The John McNeil Story (Source: NAACP National)

For the past five years, a Georgia business owner has sat in jail for doing what many of us would – defending himself and his family against a trespasser on his property.

Brian Epp trespassed onto John McNeil’s Cobb County, Georgia property in December 2005. McNeil testified that he asked Epp – who was in possession of a knife – to leave his property multiple times before firing in self-defense. Police later confirmed Epp indeed had a knife, while testimony indicated that Epp threatened McNeil’s son with the knife. Prosecution did not refute McNeil’s claim that Epp was the aggressor in the encounter. (Read more)

See related:

North Carolina NAACP Delegation Travels to Georgia to Fight for Justice for John McNeil

FREE JOHN MCNEIL….. | Facebook

North Carolina NAACP Delegation Travels to Georgia to Fight for Justice for John McNeil


For Immediate Release

August 23, 2011

For More Information: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, 919-394-8137

Atty Al McSurely, Comm. Press & Publicity Chair, 919-682-4700

North Carolina NAACP Delegation Travels to Georgia

to Fight for Justice for John McNeil

The North Carolina and Georgia State Conferences of the NAACP, joined by the national NAACP, will hold a rally and press conference on August 24 to address the Georgia Supreme Court’s wrongful conviction of John McNeil. McNeil was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 after defending his teenage son, himself, and his home from Brian Epp, a white trespasser.

A rally and press conference will be held at 11:00 am, August 24 in front of the Old Cobb County Courthouse Building located at 30 Waddell Street in Marietta, Georgia to call for a review of McNeil’s sentence.Speakers will include National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and Mr. Ed Debose, the presidents of the North Carolina and Georgia NAACP State Conferences respectively, and Mrs. Anita McNeil – wife of John McNeil.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, in a powerful dissent to the Supreme Court’s decision to imprison Mr. McNeil for life, concluded that "no rational trier of fact could have found the absence of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt." Justice Sears’ conclusion relied upon evidentiary facts, including:

  • The shooting occurred on McNeil’s property;
  • McNeil never left his property;
  • Epp was on a neighbor’s property when McNeil drove into his driveway;
  • Epp left the neighbor’s property and crossed over the neighbor’s yard and onto McNeil’s property;
  • Bobby Smith, a neutral witness, testified that McNeil was on his property and in his driveway when Epp began approaching him from the neighbor’s yard;
  • Smith testified that McNeil fired a shot into the ground and verbally warned Epp not to come any closer;
  • Smith testified that despite these warnings, Epp increased his speed in moving toward McNeil;
  • McNeil’s son testified that Epp pulled a knife on him in his own backyard and that he told his father this;
  • McNeil testified that Epp reached into his truck and put something in his right pocket before he rushed toward McNeil and onto his property;
  • McNeil’s 911 call reported that Epp had pulled a knife on his son;
  • The police retrieved a knife from Epp’s right pocket;
  • White neighbors of the McNeils testified that Epp had behaved in an extremely aggressive manner toward them recently. Mr. David Samson testified that "it got to the point where my wife and I were in total fear of this man." They had even bought a gun to protect themselves.

[Justice Sears powerful dissent is contained in a brochure called "Justice for John McNeil," published by the NC NAACP.]

The McNeil family has deep roots in North Carolina. They were a Black family living in an affluent neighborhood in Cobb County, a suburb of Atlanta. Mr. McNeil was a successful businessman who was a dedicated husband and father who attended Elizabeth City State University.

"It is an in justice that in America, our courts will sentence a man to life in prison for defending his home, his family and himself in a situation such as is described by Justice Sears’ Dissent," said National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. "John McNeil’s sentence must be reexamined. Every American has the right to defend their homes, their families and themselves when an armed trespasser comes onto their property and threatens them."

"The actions of John McNeil were in self defense and in defense of his family and his home. I am a minister, and I am strongly against the use of violence. But John’s act were not premeditated, indiscriminate violence–they were the acts of a responsible father, husband and property owner," stated Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, NC NAACP State Conference President. "What happened to John McNeil in the Georgia courts is a cynical miscarriage of justice that must be overturned. His conviction and life sentence should convince every person of goodwill that we are sentenced to a life of struggle to dismantle the racism deeply rooted in our criminal justice system. If it can happen to John McNeil, it could happen to any of us."

"After reviewing all the evidence in the John McNeil case, I am convinced that McNeil’s only crime is that of being Black," stated Ed Dubose, NAACP Georgia State Conference President. "The fact that a black homeowner, on his own property, defending his son from a trespasser reportedly wielding a knife could be given a life sentence is a grim reminder of how unequal the scales of justice really are. We will continue in the fight for Mr. McNeil and his family until justice prevails."

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.



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Breaking News: Tarboro NC – Edgecombe County Public Schools To Hold Yet Another Closed Session Meeting On Wednesday, August 24 7:00 PM – Source: ECPS Website

Board to meet in Special Meeting Wednesday, Aug. 24 The Edgecombe County Board of Education will meet in a Special Meeting Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Central Office Board Room in closed session to discuss the search for an interim superintendent and other personnel matters.

Note: Atleast this time they are mentioning that they will discus the search for an interim superintendent. The last closed session was held at Edgecombe Community College about 2 weeks ago. I attended the closed session meeting because I thought they were going to name an interim superintendent. It was so funny because when I arrived at the college the couple of people who were getting off work didn’t know it was going to be a meeting there. School was out so there were no classes and I only seen 3 people, 2 administrators and 1 facilities manager person.

I was the only person who attended the closed session along with Ann Kent Chair, Johnathan Bloomberg the board attorney, Dr. Evelyn Johnson, Evelyn Wilson Vice Chair, Janice Davidson and Faye Taylor. Keith Pittman was not present because his brother in law had died. Attorney Teresa D. Bryant was out of town on vacation. There were a couple of other people who attended and was allowed to go into closed session however I will not discuss that at this time.

I thought it was right interesting neither paper showed up. I have found it right interesting that since I advertised the meeting that I have not had one person to ask me about what happened at the meeting. Well maybe because I didn’t do a follow up story about the meeting, no video and no comments. There was a reason. I have not heard anyone talk about the meeting.

I attended the meeting without knowing what was going to take place in closed session since the announcement only stated they were meeting to discuss personnel matters. I thought with the rumors on the street that the board would appoint Dr. Lana VanderLinden as the interim superintendent and we would go home. Well I was way off base and I ended up staying there about 2 hours. Evidently I was wrong because there has not been any information communicated from the board about what actually took place in the meeting however mind you I was there and although I could not go into closed session, I am not ignorant to the fact of what was going on.

I have been told that a school system could not go on without a superintendent so therefore I guess they will name an interim superintendent on Wednesday night so that the school year will begin with an interim superintendent.

Okay now back to a previous post from yesterday when I talked about my concerns about closed session meetings. Atleast the Wednesday meeting you know they will be discussing an interim superintendent and when they come out of closed session they should say something about what took place such as interviewed candidates or whatever and the vote should be made known in open session. The other personnel matters ie: transfers, retirees, resignations and etc. I asked for that information after the closed session meetings years ago so I used to get that list after the closed session but now it is posted on the website the next day. That is good because now everyone can see it especially those who do not know about The DCN News Blog.

If you visit the ECPS website you will see that there is an announcement that read: Board of Education Appeals Committee to meet Monday, Aug. 22 The Edgecombe County Board of Education Appeals Committee will meet Monday, August 22, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Services Office Boardroom #3 to hear 2 student transfer appeals. Well this is a closed meeting as well because this is confidential information just like personnel issues.

Oh well time to gear up for a new school year so who will be the interim superintendent?

See related:

Tarboro NC – Faye Taylor Board Member Edgecombe County Public Schools Must Go 

Tarboro NC – Edgecombe County Public Schools, Closed Session Meetings, Dr. Wayne Talley Superintendent, John Westberg Former Principal, Sandra Jones Former Associate Superintendent, Juanita Westry Former Superintendent/Board Secretary

Edgecombe County Public Schools