Lenoir Co. Board of Elections responds to B.J. Murphy

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy expressed his opinion about the Lenoir County Board of Elections attempting to unseat Director Dana King in an exclusive interview with Jon Dawson and I on this week’s Free Press Radio Show (I also wrote about his visit in this article).

Excerpted from the audio, the mayor said, “I think the entire board needs to change. I don’t know how soon the board changes after the governor’s race, but the fact is you have a Republican governor, so you should have two Republican board members now. …

(The current  board has) had it out for her since Day 1. The Democratic Party didn’t even tell the two former members they weren’t going to be gone. They replaced them with two new people. I like them; don’t get me wrong and it’s nothing personal. … Eventually, there comes a time when it’s time to step down.”

The Lenoir County Board of Elections sent this letter to B.J. this afternoon (and CC’ed Jon and I at the same time):

Mayor Murphy,

We have read and listened to your interview yesterday, February 7, with the Free Press.  We are astonished that you would not only buy into but choose to further the hearsay rumors about the Lenoir County Board of Elections’ motivation in seeking the termination of the Elections Director.

The rumors are wrong.  Contrary to their – and your – stated perception, this Board has not been “out to get” the Elections Director, from “Day 1” or at any time since then.  Even a casual reading of the publicly-available petition for termination would tell you, if you were to bother reading it before you arbitrarily assign motivation, that the petition was driven solely by the Board’s ongoing, unaddressed, and increasing concerns about the efficient, effective management of the Board of Elections – and thus, of Lenoir County residents’ money.

It is not, and has never been, about “getting” the Elections Director, or about anyone’s taking her job.

We feel safe in assuming that one of your primary concerns, as Mayor of Kinston, is the effective, efficient management of the City’s resources.  We fail to understand then why you so freely impugn, in a public forum, the Board of Elections members’ integrity for bringing that very same priority to our oversight of the agency we were all, in fact, appointed to oversee.

We see from the article that you think “the entire Board needs to change.”  We would point out to you that the majority of the Board did in fact change, less than two years ago.  We also see that you believe that “eventually, there comes a time when it’s time to step down.”  The former Board chairman, one of the people who were not reappointed 19 months ago, had served in that capacity for 16 years.  It seems to us that more than meets your timetable for tenure.   We can’t speak to the process by which the Democratic party made the appointments, because we were not part of that process;  unless you were part of it or have spoken to members of the Lenoir County Democratic Executive Committee about it, you might consider being more careful about assigning blame for what you appear in print to consider wrong.

Your claim in the Free Press interview that “it’s nothing personal” feels very personal to each of us.


Sharon Kanter, Chair

Oscar Herring, Secretary

Kimberly Allison, Member

Lenoir County Board of Elections

Again, for the original interview, check out the link above for the show.

My take: I’ve always found Dana King to be a woman of integrity; she’s one of the few people in the public realm who ALWAYS answer their phones — and if she doesn’t, she calls back ASAP.

My only beef with her has been how slow we get Election Night results as compared with surrounding counties. However, I’ve always chalked that up to her wanting to make sure everything is 100 percent complete and that there wouldn’t be any mistakes. If that’s the case — and I believe it is — good for her.

Saying all this, the board seems to have a legitimate problem(s) with her and they’re doing what they have to do to fix it in their eyes. To be continued…

Free Press Radio Show – Jan. 17, 2013

The latest show features me and Jon Dawson interviewing Brian North about a variety of subjects, including Manti Te’o, Lance Armstrong, Kinston High School basketball, Lenoir County basketball, Jamie McCuthcheon’s hair and something you guys are used to: a live iPod shuffle.

Enjoy the show by clicking here!

The top popular music acts of all time

As teased last week, Jon Dawson, Justin “The Kid” Hill and I taped a podcast (which you can hear in full stereophonic glory here) in which we discussed the top pop music acts in history.

As you can hear in the podcast, there was much disagreement. I’m 43 and a hip-hop fan, so my top 10 was a bit different than 26-year-old Justin’s list — although we agreed on more than our resident musical expert’s list.

It was a fun show and the format is one we’re going to copy in upcoming podcasts — doing lists and such. Let me know what you’d like to hear us rank.

Here’s our top 10s:


1. The Beatles

2. Elvis Presley

3. Michael Jackson

4. U2

5. The Rolling Stones

6. The Who

7. Madonna

8. Aerosmith

9. Run-DMC

10. Chuck Berry

Top honorable mentions: Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, NWA and Queen


1. The Beatles

2. Michael Jackson

3. Elvis Presley

4. Madonna

5. Elton John

6. The Who

7. Stevie Wonder

8. Queen

9. The Rolling Stones

10. Mariah Carey

Top honorable mentions: Jack White, Nirvana, Billy Joel and The Pixies


1. Chuck Berry

2. Little Richard

3. Buddy Holly

4. James Brown

5. Otis Redding

6. The Who

7. Pink Floyd

8. Allman Brothers

9. R.E.M.

10. Beck

Top honorable mentions: Link Wray, U2, Aretha Franklin, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Elton John

My take: REALLY can’t understand how Dawson doesn’t have The Beatles, Elvis or Michael Jackson in his top 15 … but he does know more about music than I do.

The only act all three of us had in our top 10 was The Who.

Bear in mind these aren’t our favorite acts — it’s who we thought were the top pop acts of all time.

I’d love to see yours — post them below or email them to me at bhanks@freedomenc.com and I’ll post them in the comments. Also, check out the podcast to hear explanations of our top 10s.

Morning News Report; March 29, 2012


Put this down as one of the coolest stories of the past few weeks — the owner of the Chinese restaurant that was robbed Tuesday night on Vernon Ave. attempted to shoot the man who robbed him. However, his gun wouldn’t fire.

The restaurant owner — Min Feng Chen — said it won’t happen next time, ’cause his gun WILL work.

My take: Reminds me of the story about Calvin Tso at the old China King getting robbed — and Mr. Calvin popped a cap in the robber and killed him (tried to find the link on Kinston.com and came up dry).

Listen, I have ABSOLUTELY NO problem with someone defending their property, business or family with a gun. That’s the beauty of our country — mess with a man’s property, business or family and like Mr. Calvin did — you might be carried off by the coroner’s office.

Do your thing, Mr. Min Feng Chen.


The CDC reports one in every 88 children has autism — a number that is almost double what it was just 10 years ago. In boys, autism is more pronounced, as one in 54 have it.

My take: That news staggers me. I have a few friends, including FOB Randy Capps, who have children with autism — and I admire those parents greatly who do such a great job with their kids with autism.

Why is autism in children increasing? We hear the numbers and read the stories about the children, but why — in 2012 — can’t we solve this?

Again, my hat is off to Randy and his lovely wife Shanna, who are simply awesome parents to Ethan — and to all those parents who are helping their children with autism.


Apple faces a class-action lawsuit about its’ Siri function — a false advertising suit claiming the voice-activated feature doesn’t do what it’s advertised to do.

My take: I’ve still got my year-old iPhone 4 without the Siri function — but even when I played around with some friends’ 4S, I realized it wasn’t what was advertised. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this case.

The iPod shuffle

Say Say Say — Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney

Beautiful Day — U2

While You See A Chance — Steve Winwood

Here Comes The Sun — The Beatles

All The Above — On The Rocks

P.S.: Really looking forward to taping this week’s Free Press Radio Program with Jon “Music Elitist” Dawson and Justin “The Kid” Hill this afternoon — we’re going to each share our top 10 pop music acts in history. Dawson’s criteria for the lists includes most original, scope of influence and staying power. Of course, Dawson’s list is going to include seven acts you’ve NEVER heard of … but that’s how he’s earned his “music elitist” title!

Hint: you might see U2 in my list. I’ll post mine here later this afternoon, along with the link to the podcast so you can hear what Dawson and Hill think.

P.P.S.S.: I had a great morning at Seymour Johnson AFB welcoming home Jeff Stephens and Ashton Brinson, who are home after spending eight months in Afghanistan. I’m writing a story for tomorrow’s FP and I’ve got some extra pictures I’m going to share here on the blog.

I’m sure I’ll say this later, but let me say this here: Jeff and Ashton are HEROES — true heroes who put their lives on the line to make sure we still have our freedoms. If you know either of them, please welcome them home!

Afternoon News Report; March 9, 2012

Ok, it’s ACC Tournament Friday and I’m having trouble concentrating since every TV in our building is on the Carolina-Maryland game. Going to do this quickly!


Kinston’s Josh Dawson, who has helped lead the Vikings to tomorrow’s 2A state championship game in Raleigh, was named to the ncpreps.com 2A all-state team today.

The 2A state player of the year, though, is Waxhaw Cuthbertson’s Shelton Mitchell — who Dawson and the Vikings face tomorrow for the title.

My take: I know Josh pretty well and the young man doesn’t need much motivation … but I think this might just be one of those things he’ll use tomorrow. Just sayin’.

And congrats to Josh — this is a well-deserved honor for the heart of Kinston’s team.

Also — don’t forget I’ll be blogging play-by-play from the game tomorrow; Ryan Herman will be tweeting the game (@KFPSports). I’m also helping with the pep rally at 2 p.m. today, so come on out if you have a chance.

Finally, if you haven’t checked out this podcast, featuring Wells Gulledge, Perry Tyndall and Ryan Herman, you’re cheating yourself. One of our best.


Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, one of the leading Democrats in the N.C. governor’s race, visited Kinston and The Free Press yesterday.

My take: While I still think he jumped into the pool a day early, I was pretty impressed with the lieutenant governor yesterday. He’s confident, well-spoken and ready to take on the presumptive GOP candidate, Pat McCrory. Should be a great race.


Leading GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is touring the Deep South — and is now saying “y’all” and eating grits.

My take: A bit funny, but he doesn’t need to try too hard. He certainly doesn’t need a Michael Dukakis in the tank photo that buried that candidate:


The iPod shuffle

I Will Buy You A New Life — Everclear

Melissa — The Allman Brothers Band

Just You ‘N’ Me — Chicago

Dip It Low — Christina Milian

Love Me Tender — Elvis Presley

Podcasting, hanging with ol’ Reece

Check out the latest Free Press Radio Program featuring Bret Strelow, who covers the ACC for the Fayetteville Observer. He covered last night’s Duke-UNC game in Chapel Hill and had some very strong observations from the game.

And I forgot to post a link to my appearance last week on the Reece Gardner Hour on TACC-9; you can watch it by clicking here. We talked about the HB, the Kinston Indians, Wes Goforth from WCTI ABC-12, Jon Dawson’s alleged heterosexuality, elections, the Freedom Classic and lots of other fun stuff. Check it out.

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 9, 2012

DUKE 85, UNC 84

Austin Rivers hit a long 3-pointer last night to rally Duke past UNC, 85-84, in the latest edition of the best rivalry in college sports.

My take: Amazing — just amazing. As I said in yesterday’s ANR, Duke was a 6.5-point underdog but I thought Carolina would win by much more than that.

It appeared to be headed that way until the Heels laid down for the final three minutes.

I’ll say this — Rivers has some onions, that’s for sure. Check out the Fayetteville Observer’s Bret Strelow and his column on Rivers — one of the best columns I’ve read this morning on the subject. And Bret is our guest on this week’s Free Press Radio Program, which I’ll post here soon.

I know a lot of Duke fans who don’t particularly like Rivers — but I bet they’re LOVING him now. One thing is certain: he’s written himself into the storied history of the rivalry.

Here are some of my favorite photos that were popping up on my Twitter feed last night from the game:

(Credit:  Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE)

Click on the images for full views; again, they came off Twitter, so if there are credits, I will post them as soon I know from where they originated.

A postscript: this Jon Dawson column, which he wrote yesterday afternoon, almost seemed prophetic — especially the lead paragraph.


One of the worst vehicle accidents in my tenure in Kinston took place last night when a delivery truck and a private ambulance crashed into each other on N.C. 11 about a mile south of Jackson Store.

Thankfully, no one was killed in the accident, although two workers in the ambulance were airlifted by EastCare to Greenville.

The accident also knocked out power to about 3,000 in that neck o’ the woods, including Heelatious and several other bloggees, who I was following on Twitter at the time. Power was completely restored around 11:30 p.m. last night.

Here are the pictures of the scene taken by Free Press veteran photographer Charles Buchanan:

My take: Awesome, awesome work by Charles to get these exclusive photos.

Also, many props to our senior staff writer David Anderson, who stayed on the scene for three-plus hours gathering details and helping me update the website. DAnderson — as he’s affectionately known around the office — worked his tail off yesterday, as he pulled about a 15-hour day.

And kudos to the management at WCTI ABC-12 and WNCT CBS-5, who are polite enough to call and ask permission to run an image — and we gladly obliged by allowing them to do so as long as they paid homage to Charles’ work. Both did a fantastic job of doing so.

And yes, WITN NBC-7 also called for permission to run the photo … which we ignored. Why? For starters, their tired, ridiculous and wrongful claims of “First on WITN” has finally gotten under my skin. I don’t know if they’re claiming “First on WITN” because they get information up faster than the other TV stations, but they’re not beating us, the Jacksonville Daily News, the New Bern Sun Journal or the Greenville Daily Reflector on our local stories. I know it’s just a ploy for pride or whatever, but it pisses me off — especially when it’s untrue, like last night.

Secondly, it chaps my hide when WITN uses information/photos from us without attribution — and it happens more with them than with WCTI and WNCT combined (because they’re not completely innocent here, either, although they strive harder than WITN to give us attribution).

Listen — my beef doesn’t extend to all the knuckleheads at WITN; in fact, I adore Heather King, who is arguably one of the hardest working and most dedicated journalists in Eastern North Carolina. I also think Billy Weaver does a pretty good job in sports, considering the limits they put on him.

But there’s a reason newspaper folks can’t stand the rest of them over there … and now, you know the rest of the story.


According to these rumor-mongers, yes.

My take: Which makes me ecstatic that I didn’t plop down $800 for an iPad2 — whose only feature better than the original iPad is a camera.

The iPod shuffle

Wild In The Streets — Bon Jovi

Kitty — The Presidents Of The United States of America

Hypnotize — The Notorious B.I.G.

Guilty — Robin Rogers

Running On Faith — Eric Clapton

Catching up with y’all

Some updates for my bloggy peops:

  • Not sure when we’re going over to the new blog. Haven’t heard anything from the tech folks, so … we’re going to keep humping on this blog until I’m told otherwise. I am insisting, however, the categories and blogroll feature are included on the new one — and at this moment, they’re not there.
  • Jon Dawson, Justin Hill and I taped the final Free Press Radio Program/Podcast of 2011 this morning. We talked about the top 10 most-viewed stories of the year on Kinston.com — and I think it’s a pretty good podcast, even though I sound like I’m half-asleep during most of it. Please give it a listen — I put a lot of my heart into it and, frankly, we’re not getting half the listens I figured we would. Do me a favor — give it a listen and let me know what you think. If it stinks, let me know. If it’s good, tell your boys.
  • Speaking of Dawson, don’t forget his new book has dropped and you can purchase it either at our office (2103 N. Queen St., Kinston), on Amazon.com or at jondawson.com. It would make a hell of a Christmas present for that special person on your list!
  • We lost two of our four players in the Blog Survivor Pool last weekend as both women — SealGirl and Shanna Capps — went with Tennessee over Indianapolis. It’s down to 2010 champ Heelatious (New England last week) and ECPirates11 (New Orleans). If you haven’t paid your $5 yet — either for the first game or for part 2 — please do so. If you don’t, that means I have to pay the winner out of my own pocket … and you know that ain’t cool.
  • Usually, I’ll write a couple of posts about our HBFL playoffs, but, alas, I haven’t had time to barely breathe the past few weeks. However, we’re in the Super Bowl week of both leagues; in the HBFL Live, No. 8 seed Heelatious’ Heelsfan’s Show Me Your TDs, who were 6-7 in the regular season, are facing defending champion and third-seeded Wes Brown’s Crime Dawgs, who went 7-6. The winner of that game receives $200, while the loser gets $50. Lee Wetherington, whose Wreakn Havoc team finished with the most points in the league (1,314) and wins $50 for that. I’ll pay everyone when I get back to town the week of Jan. 1. In the meantime — if you haven’t paid yet (and there are still four who haven’t) — get your dues in. Again, I don’t want to have to pay winnings out of my own pocket, y’all.
  • In the HBFL Online, the top two seeds — the No. 1 Drew Loftis-owned Hookers With Dysentery (10-3) are taking on the No. 2 Elizabeth Moon-owned Grifton Sea Lions (9-4). Drew’s Hookers also were the top scoring team in the league with 1,190 points. There’s no prize in this league, just pride.
  • Congrats to Kinston coach Wells Gulledge, who won the 300th game in his career in last night’s 74-53 victory against North Lenoir at Viking Gym. Here’s a quick look at his 14-year-plus career: 300-86 overall (.777 winning percentage), 254-53 at Kinston (.827), seven conference titles, three Eastern Regional titles and two state championships. Pretty impressive.
  • Some major thank-you’s to former Kinston stars Dory Hines (now at Mount Olive College) and Reggie Bullock (UNC) for coming out to KHS this morning to help Justin “The Kid” Hill and his Free Press 12-and-under basketball team. Dory, in particular, was there the entire the practice and ran drills with the team. Reggie took about 5 minutes and talked to the kids about the importance of staying in school and overcoming adversity. Additionally, Coach Gulledge and current Ole Miss assistant baseball coach Cliff Godwin helped out with drills and motivation. An extremely fun morning — and here’s a cool photo taken after the practice:

Click on it for a better view.

  • The 2011 HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational (formerly known as the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational) tips off next week in Raleigh and Cary. For the fifth straight year, I am the media coordinator of the event — and this year, I’m bringing some of my friends to help. For the previous three years, Jonathan Massey has been my right-hand man as the tournament’s assistant media coordinator and he continues in that role this year. However, Justin “The Kid” Hill is taking over the role of Holiday Invitational girls’ tournament media coordinator this year. Also, Freedom ENC Desk Chief Richard Clark did a FANTASTIC job designing the game program for the HSOT; if you make it to Raleigh or Cary, make sure you grab a copy. As for game-by-game updates from the tourney, there simply won’t be as many here on the ol’ blog since the good folks at WRAL/Capital Broadcasting Company — the owners of the HSOT brand — have exclusive rights to that info. However, I will be providing early updates with sort of an MNR-type feel each morning. I’ll give you a schedule of that day’s games along with my predictions and thoughts going into each day. As always, though, there’ll be a video wrap-up each day with Triangle heartthrob Nick Stevens and myself and HSOT will live-stream each post-game press conference.
  • A LOT of you have asked about the Hot Blonde and here’s an update: her final chemo was a few weeks ago and right now, she’s just trying to get her life back to normal, i.e., working the chemo out of her system and recovering from her other related surgeries. It’s been an incredibly tough ride for one of the toughest people I know. But I also know this: she has appreciated every one of you who has taken the time to lift her up in prayer — and again, I know there are a lot of you out there who have done just that. You have no idea what your prayers have done to help her and me through this incredibly difficult time in our lives. I’m not exaggerating when I say this: I love you guys. Thank you for being pretty freaking awesome.

Afternoon News Report; Dec. 9, 2011

Many apologies, faithful bloggees — I’ve been all over ENC the past week with my company’s “social immersion” roll-out training. Trust me: you’re going to see a lot about it in the coming weeks and months in TFP, Kinston.com and here on the ol’ blog.

The powers-that-be also haven’t completely archived this blog yet in the change to the new URL, which, incidentally, will be http://bhanks.freedomblogging.com. No, I’m not a big fan of its look right now, but maybe we can dress it up a little bit. I’m not pleased with the lack of categories … but you work with what they give you, right?

Some quick hits on stuff before we plunge into today’s MNR ANR:

  • My twitter feed (@BCHanks) has been blowing up — mostly because I’m really beginning to work it. As many of you know, I am the PA voice of the Kinston Vikings basketball teams, so I’m tweeting updates every chance I get. If you want to know who’s winning tonight’s KHS games against SW Edgecombe (yes, I refuse to call it SouthWest Edgecombe), follow me on Twitter.
  • Ryan Herman, Jon Dawson and I wrapped up the prep football season and talked about a bunch of cool stuff on this week’s Free Press Sports Podcast. I even curse a time or two, just to see if I can get away with it. Seriously, though, if you’re not listening to this weekly podcast thingie we’re doing — you’re missing out. We have a lot of fun with it and this is the best part — it’s the kind of podcast I’d like to listen to. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do.

Anyhoo, here’s your MNR ANR.


Kinston Mayor and FOB B.J. Murphy was named the Young Professional of the Year at last night’s Young Professionals of Lenoir County annual gala. Among the other honors handed out last night were TFP’s “20 Under 40″ awards and the Mentor of the Year award by the YPLC to LCC President Dr. Brantley Briley.

My take: There is not a more deserving person than the mayor for this honor. You tell me another 20- or 30-something in our area who has made more of an impact in Kinston/Lenoir County than B.J. Murphy in the past three or four years?

I voted in the 20 Under 40 awards and was duly impressed by the 50 or so people nominated. Some of the most impressive nominations, though, were for Scott Alston, Dana Hill, Benjamin Knight, Michael Parker, Eric Rouse, Samara Sutton-Taft, Mary Crews Whaley and Brian Wiggins.

And a sincere congrats to Dr. Briley — one of the good guys out there.

The iPod shuffle — extended version (and send me your honest shuffle, too, and I’ll post it here in a future MNR)

Eyes Without A Face — Billy Idol

My Michelle — Guns N’ Roses

Throw Yourself Away — Nickelback

Sassafras Roots — Green Day

Modern Love — David Bowie

Wishing You Were Here — Chicago

Changes Comin’ On — Alabama

Bring Em Out — T.I.

Hot Blooded — Foreigner

Red Rain — Peter Gabriel

Morning News Report; Dec. 1, 2011


With all the disturbing news coming out of Syracuse about former Orangemen assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine and his alleged sexual abuse of former ballboys, here’s another weird twist — allegedly, his wife was having sex (not just with one of her husband’s accusers) but with SU players.

My take: And just when you think this can’t get any worse or tasteless, this happens. Good grief.


If it’s a Nokia, HTC or Blackberry smartphone, then it probably is.

My take: Never doubt that Big Brother is checking up on you … and more often than you think.


A gay softball league in Seattle has settled a lawsuit with players it perceived to be straight ringers.

My take: Can you imagine the questioning these three dudes had to go through? Uh, me neither.

And who — besides, Jon Dawson, of course — knew there was such a thing as the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance? NTTAWWT.

My favorite quote in the report: “This is not a bisexual World Series. This is a gay World Series.”

The iPod shuffle

Waiting On A Friend — The Rolling Stones

Nothing Compares 2 U — Sinead O’ Connor

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me — Elton John

Too Bad — Nickelback

Dreams — Fleetwood Mac

P.S.: Don’t forget to check out the Free Press High School Football Podcast for this week; we have Nick Anderson, Nick Stevens, Paul Cornwell, Chris Hughes and John Davis joining us this week for the state championship edition of the show.