Streak for the Cash back-to-back winner for June: David Pollock!

David Pollock won his first SFTC contest last month — and he followed it up with his second win this month. He did it in grand style, too — amassing a 17-game win streak at one point, ranking among the best in the country. He also shook off blog hall-of-famer Flagan for the second straight month in the last day to win by five games over Flagan and Jackson Irvin.

DP: Contact me and we’ll hook you up with some valuable prize-type stuff.

Don’t you want to play? Go here to enter and join our happy little group.

June’s top 10

1. David Pollock — 81

2. Jackson Irvin — 76 (.603 winning pct)

3. Flagan (Franc Jones — 76 (.555)

4. J. Osterberg — 73

5. Randy Capps — 69 (.539)

6. Hanks — 69 (.527)

7. C. Pollock — 66

8. Kelly Rouse — 53

9. J. Barrow — 51

10. Michael Moon — 37

All-time blog winners

2009

February: Flagan (F. Jones) – 43 wins

March: B. Pelletier – 60 wins

April: Flagan (F. Jones) – 59 wins

May: Flagan (F. Jones) – 57 wins

June: B. Pelletier – 53 wins

July: Flagan (F. Jones) – 69 wins

August: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 69 wins

September: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 69 wins

October: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 62 wins

November: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 83 wins

December: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) & D. Guido – 91 wins

2010

January: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 71 wins

February: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 68 wins

March: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) – 82 wins

April: J. Irvin (Jackson Irvin) – 77 wins

May: R. Capps (Randy Capps) – 75 wins

June: P. Howard (WolfpackPete) – 69 wins

July: J. Irvin (Jackson Irvin) – 80 wins

August: R. Capps (Randy Capps) – 87 wins

September: J. Irvin (Jackson Irvin) – 73 wins

October: J. Irvin (Jackson Irvin) — 79 wins

November: R. Capps (Randy Capps) — 79 wins

December: J. Osterberg — 79 wins

2011

January: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) — 81

February: D. Guido — 71

March: S. Jones (Beale St. Buc) — 96

April: Flagan (Franc Jones) — 90

May: D. Pollock (David Pollock) — 90

June: D. Pollock (David Pollock) — 81

Morning News Report; June 30, 2011

CLINE SET TO RESIGN TONIGHT

Unless things change dramatically, Lenoir County Schools Superintendent Terry Cline is going to tender a forced resignation at tonight’s school board meeting. Here’s my special column on my thoughts about the move.

My take: I’m really disappointed in what’s happening with this situation. Dr. Cline is a good and decent man of God who truly loves the kids in this county. Evidently, he fired the wrong people at the wrong time — or forced the retirement of others.

If this goes through — and there’s really no reason to think it won’t, at this point — Lenoir County is losing a great advocate for its children.

HIDDEN CAMERA ALLEGEDLY CATCHES ‘TO CATCH A PREDATOR’ DUDE

You know that “To Catch A Predator” host, Chris Hansen? Allegedly, the 51-year-old was caught on camera cheating with a 30-year-old in Florida. He’s married and the father of two.

But now for the Paul Harvey Moment: This is being reported by the National Enquirer, Jon Dawson’s favorite paper of record. Although they were correct about John Edwards, the NE doesn’t exactly have a spotless record when it comes to investigative reporting.

My take: Don’t know if it’s true or not … but it’s definitely funny as hell.

WILD THING ON STEROIDS DURING MAJOR LEAGUE?

Say it ain’t so, Ricky Vaughn; Charlie Sheen admitted he was on steroids for six to eight weeks while making “Major League.”

My take: I’d say I was surprised … but I’m not. Still a heck of a movie — and one of those that, if it’s on any channel, I get sucked in and can’t turn the channel.

The iPod shuffle

Still In Love — Boston

These Are Days — 10,000 Maniacs

Leather — Tori Amos

Raising Hell — Run-D.M.C.

Crazy For You — Madonna

Morning News Report; June 29, 2011

RIP, LORENZO CHARLES

I missed posting an MNR/ANR yesterday, so I didn’t get in the news about Lorenzo Charles passing away Monday. Here are several excellent articles on the man who had the most memorable dunk in NCAA basketball national championship history:

My take: I hated State because the Wuffies knocked out King Ralph and the Wahoos in 1983 in both the ACC Tournament championship game and the NCAA championship game. But that dunk — and the resulting sprinting of Coach Valvano around the court — almost made me forget my hatred of anything red. Almost.

Rest in peace, Lorenzo, who — from all accounts — was a good and decent man.

THE KID (AND KUDZU JESUS) MAKES FARK.COM

Congratulations to Justin “The Kid” Hill for his in-depth investigative report on Kudzu Jesus in southern Lenoir County. He received the ultimate compliment a little bit ago when Fark.com picked up his article; click on the comments for some good laughs.

And that’s not the only media outlet to grab this; the N.Y. Times used an Associated Press report that gleaned Justin’s info, as has the Washington Post. I also just granted the Daily Mail of London permission to use uber-photographer Charles Buchanan’s image.

My take: Nothing at all wrong with people of faith finding their Lord and Savior in everyday things — even kudzu. Great story that is picking up legs nationally.

QUINTON COPLES CLEARED; CHRIS HAWKINS IS NOT

A heavy sigh of relief is being heard in Chapel Hill (and Kinston) as it appears the NCAA has cleared former Kinston star, current UNC star and future NFL star Quinton Coples of any violations for attending an NFL draft party in May.

The same can’t be said for former Kinston star and former UNC player Chris Hawkins, who is facing a litany of drug charges in Georgia – and that doesn’t even include the bad things the NCAA had to say about him in last week’s Notice of Allegations.

My take: Good for Q. I was pretty certain nothing would come of this — and I’m glad he’ll get his senior season for the Heels (as long as they don’t beat America’s Team).

As for Hawkins … damn, dude. You might just want to get away from college athletics and think about a new career choice … OK?

The iPod shuffle

Mambo No. 5 — Lou Bega

Foreplay Long Time — Boston

I Heard It Through The Grapevine — Creedence Clearwater Revival

Stories For Boys — U2

Talking In Your Sleep — The Romantics

Morning News Report; June 27, 2011

CLINE REDUX

As I announced here yesterday, the Lenoir County School Board is set to replace Superintendent Dr. Terry Cline at Thursday’s meeting.

My take: First — a very well-written piece by senior staff writer David Anderson.

Secondly — I still think this is a very bad idea, and not just because of the immense payout that is going to be necessary. I’ve seen several people talk about the “bad job” Cline did … what, specifically, was the bad job he did? Lay it out for me, folks, I’d like to know.

BACHMANN ENTERS 2012 RACE

Michelle Bachmann, a U.S. representative from Minnesota, threw her hat in the ring for the Republican nomination for president over the weekend.

My take: More impressively, she finished second to presumed front-runner Mitt Romney in an Iowa straw poll yesterday.

Here’s what I like about her — she seems like Sarah Palin … but with intelligence. She’s easy on the eyes, but there appears to be substance behind the good-looking package. The GOP is probably happy there now is a somewhat legitimate contender against President Obama.

DODGERS FILE BANKRUPTCY

The L.A. Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning.

My take: Another sad chapter in this sad story — the Dodgers should be one of the preeminent franchises in baseball, not one going through this mess. And it’s yet another reason why MLB has fallen in the minds of sports fans in America.

The iPod shuffle

Mama Said Knock You Out — LL Cool J

Animal — Def Leppard

Throw Your Self Away — Nickelback

Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World — U2

Yellow — Coldplay

P.S.: Please check out my column from yesterday about taking back our city — we’re developing some good ideas, some practical things that we can do to get crime under control. You’ll be the first to know here.

Terry Cline to be relieved of duty at Thursday BOE meeting

Lenoir County Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Cline will be bought out of his contract at Thursday’s board of education meeting, multiple sources have confirmed. Senior staff writer David Anderson will have a story in Monday’s Free Press.

The understanding I have from my sources is the vote will be 4-3, with Rita Hodges, C.L. Braxton, Billy Davis and Giles Stroud voting for Cline’s dismissal, with David Fillipelli, Garland Nobles and Bruce Hill voting against it.

Here’s the rub: Cline is due two more years in his contract; the school board is going to issue him a buy-out from the system’s “rainy-day” or local fund balance.

My take: This is as ridiculous a move as the BOE could make.

Teachers and teachers aides are being laid off, classroom sizes are burgeoning and athletic coaches are being paid less than peanuts — but there’s enough money in the budget to pay a superintendent hundreds of thousands of dollars, just to get rid of him?

Evidently, Cline — after years of receiving superior job ratings by the BOE — got a less-than-stellar review this past year. But why? The school system has improved each year of his tenure, student test scores have gone up at virtually every school and the system has done so well saving money that it evidently has enough money to buy out a superintendent.

It appears some of those voting against Cline just don’t like him, though. Here’s a quote from Anderson’s story:

The school board is going to “buy out a superintendent who I think has done a good job under some difficult conditions because four board members have a personal axe to grind,” said Fillipelli.

Interesting. So because some of these members have “a personal axe to grind,” they’re going to use hundreds of thousands of dollars of YOUR MONEY to get rid of Cline.

Cline deserves better and taxpayers deserve better. If you don’t think Cline is doing a good job, wait out his final two years and then hire a new superintendent. Or just pay two superintendents at one time … hey, it’s only money, right?

Ridiculous.

Morning News Report; June 24, 2011

DELANEY ON COVER OF MOBILE, ALA., PAPER

Rachael Delaney, a Kinstonian and Arendell Parrott Academy graduate who is representing North Carolina in the Distinguished Young Woman contest in Mobile, Ala., was featured on the cover of the Mobile Press-Register today (linked with permission from the Press-Register):

Click on the picture for a better view of the front.

The title will be decided tomorrow night; stay tuned to Kinston.com for updates throughout the night.

My take: Thanks to Christina Lovick for calling this to my attention; she is in Mobile with friends (including former KHS and current ECU baseball player Joshua Lovick) to cheer on Rachael.

Also, thanks to the good folks at the Press-Register for allowing us to link this. And, go Rachael!

But she’s not the only Kinston beauty in a significant competition this weekend; Megan Ottinger, the Miss Kinston-Lenoir County Outstanding Teen, is in the finals of the Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen pageant tonight in Raleigh. Here’s Megan (click on the photo for a better view):

Jessie Christine Smith — the Miss Kinston-Lenoir County for 2011 — has already won the talent and swimsuit preliminaries for her group and likely will be in the top 10 in Saturday’s finals, also in Raleigh. And here’s Jessie (again, click on the photo for a better view):

PERDUE VETOES VOTER ID BILL

Gov. Bev Perdue used her veto power for the eighth time this year in knocking down the voter ID bill passed by the N.C. House and Senate. The bill would require voters to produce a state-issued ID (such as a driver’s license), a passport or other official form of ID to vote.

My take: No, there hasn’t been any widespread reports of voter fraud in North Carolina … but there is nothing wrong with asking people to have something identifying themselves as the person voting.

How did you get to the polls in the first place? If you drove, you better have a license. If someone brought you, you should have some sort of government ID.

I think I’m going to go vote as Stephen LaRoque or George Graham in the next election, just to see if anyone calls me on it. If they do, I’m just going to say, “Hey — I don’t have to produce any ID! Stop violating my constitutional right to vote!” Think it’ll work?

NBA DRAFT RECAP

As expected, Duke’s Kyrie Irving went No. 1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in last night’s NBA Draft.

My take: I flipped between the draft and Virginia’s trouncing of xxx in the College World Series, but came to the same conclusion of the NBA experts that this was arguably one of the worst drafts in history; here is a well-written opinion piece by Ken Berger of CBS. My favorite part:

Look beneath the surface of the dizzying array of draft-night trades and you’ll find this: owners who were scared, or more likely, who’d already boarded up the windows on their businesses in preparation for a long summer of hibernation.

The iPod shuffle

Run Through The Jungle — Creedence Clearwater Revival

Ante Up (Robbing-Hoodz Theory) — M.O.P.

Against The Wind — Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Down On The Corner — Creedence Clearwater Revival

Sloop John B — The Beach Boys

Afternoon News Report; June 23, 2011

OD LEADS TO NEAR-DROWNING

A Lenoir County teenager is in “grave” condition at a Greenville hospital after nearly drowning while high on a morphine-like substance.

My take: This story has been bouncing around the interwebs the past couple of days, but we didn’t want to do anything with it until we had details. Good luck to Katyln — she and her family have our prayers from TFP.

MAN ROBS BANK FOR HEALTH CARE

A Gaston County man tried to rob a bank for a dollar last week so he could get free prison health care. Our sister paper, the Gaston Gazette, has done a fantastic job covering this — here is their latest report, although you can catch up on all the stories at the site.

My take: Yep … times are bad. And quite honestly, while this is a bit extreme, it’s not a terribly flawed plan.

NBA DRAFT IS TONIGHT

The NBA holds its annual draft tonight, with the common thought that Cleveland will take Duke’s Kyrie Irving at No. 1, with Minnesota set to take Arizona’s Derrick Williams at No. 2. After that, though, it’s a crapshoot.

My take: And “crap” may be the key word there. In most seasons, Irving would be lucky to be a lottery pick, but with so many top-flight players choosing to stay in college (see: UNC’s Harrison Barnes and John Henson), the pickin’s are slim this year.

Which makes you feel worse for the Cavaliers, who have No. 1 and No. 4 this year. Any other year and Cleveland would have two huge pieces and starters for years to come. However, the Cavs will be lucky to get two serviceable players with the lack of depth in this draft.

The iPod shuffle

Return To Innocence — Enigma

The Tide Is High — Blondie

Millionaire — Kelis featuring Andre 3000

The Safety Dance — Men Without Hats

Sweetness Follows — R.E.M.

P.S.: South Lenoir’s K’hadree Hooker, one of the South’s top-recruited football players, was in the office to talk with sports editor Ryan Herman. Here’s a picture of the two (with Free Press health reporter Jane Moon trying to sneak into the frame):

Click on the photo for a better view. And yes, I shared with him what a great school the University of Virginia would be for his education.

Check out Patrick Johnson’s blog, Nathan Summers’ book

Two former Kinston Free Press sports writers are doing great things since leaving our neck o’ the woods:

  • Patrick Johnson, who worked in the sports department as a stringer for a number of years before and after I joined TFP in 2002, has started a fascinating website that includes a blog and other goodies. Patrick, an Arendell Parrott Academy and ECU graduate, has golden pipes and has worked all over the state, including as the news editor for Raleigh’s No. 1 news station, WPTF 680-AM and as a host and guest host on Greenville’s WTIB 103.7-FM’s popular “Talk of the Town” with the legendary Henry Hinton. Check out his blog (linked above and to your right); it’s only part of a pretty good-looking website that includes his bio, among other pages.
  • Nathan Summers, who started at TFP the same day I did in 2002 but left here to cover ECU football for the Greenville Daily Reflector, has written his first novel, “GPS” (you can order the Kindle edition here on Amazon.com). Nathan did some outstanding work while with TFP and has done a fantastic job at the GDR — in my opinion, he’s one of the finest college football writers in the South. I haven’t had a chance to read his book yet, but as soon as I find a way to purchase a copy, I’m going to do so. I recommend you do, too — and if I get it before you guys, I’ll let you know how good it is.

Morning News Report; June 22, 2011

BILL ELLIS TO TAKE OVER AS INTERIM CITY MANAGER

In an interesting twist at Monday night’s City Council meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Bill Ellis was named Kinston’s interim city manager.

My take: An interesting twist — but a solid one. Bill, in my opinion, is arguably the biggest reason Kinston hasn’t totally gone to hell in the past decade. He, along with Thurman Pate and Tim Knobeloch, bring untold millions of dollars into our area with tournaments. They also provide hundreds and thousands of our youth with recreation opportunities. If those didn’t exist, Kinston would be in a hell of a lot worse shape.

David’s article didn’t mention whether Bill wanted the job long-term — but I think the city would be hard-pressed to find someone who loves Kinston more or who could do the job better.

NFL OWNERS NEAR AGREEMENT

Or so says the Chicago Sun-Times. Once they finish it, they’ll have to sell it to the players.

My take: With the NBA and NHL seasons complete and the long dog days of MLB ahead of us (although we do have the college world series with the Cavahoos and Tar Heels in it), it’s in the NFL’s best interest to get its stuff together.

SPRINGSTEEN EULOGIZES CLEMONS AT SERVICE

Bruce Springsteen helped deliver a eulogy at his E Street Bandmate Clarence Clemons’  memorial service yesterday.

My take: Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Boss fan, but I always appreciated Clemons’ talent. I know this — the E Street Band will never be the same.

The iPod shuffle

Jet — Paul McCartney & Wings

Broken Wings — Mr. Mister

Black And Yellow — Wiz Khalifa

Lonely Ol’ Night — John Mellancamp

Respectable — The Rolling Stones

P.S.: Check out FOB and Freedom ENC Desk Chief Richard Clark’s take on the increased crime in our area.

Morning News Report; June 21, 2011

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER HOMICIDE IN KINSTON

Monday was another incredibly sad day in our town as the seventh homicide of 2011 occurred. Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy and Kinston Department of Public Safety Chief Bill Johnson held a presser at City Hall to address the sudden wave of homicides, which have numbered four in the past three weeks.

The mayor and I were also interviewed by WNCT CBS-9′s Andrea Blanford in this well-produced piece on the matter:

My take: First, great job by the mayor to jump on this issue — he’s showing excellent leadership in a time when our town really needs it.

And I truly appreciate everyone who has called, emailed and Facebooked me with ideas following my Sunday column on this matter. I am culling those responses at the moment and am getting some excellent ideas. I will be hitting you guys — and Free Press readers — with those ideas soon.

Finally, thanks to Andrea for the interview and her concern about Kinston. This is something we — the residents, citizens, leaders, media and law enforcement — are going to have to solve.

KINSTON FOOTBALL COACH CATCHES WORLD RECORD CATFISH

And here’s something you don’t read about everyday: Kinston football coach Nick Anderson now has a world record to his credit — he caught the world’s biggest blue catfish over Father’s Day weekend.

My take: Kudos to Coach Anderson for that 143-pounder! And a great story by our Ryan Herman.

NEW CIGARETTE WARNING LABELS UNVEILED

The federal government has unveiled nine new cigarette warning labels designed to scare the bejesus out of potential smokers.

Here’s a couple of them:

My take: It’s this simple — if someone is going to smoke, they’re going to smoke. It doesn’t matter if you put tiny bits of cancerous lungs on the package, they’re still going to get their smoke on. Nice effort, but ain’t going to help.

The solution? Make cigarettes $20 a pack. Most smokers I know who have stopped have ceased their behavior because they can’t afford to smoke.

The iPod shuffle

Pride (In The Name Of Love) — U2

Freedom For My People — U2

Sugar, We’re Going Down — Fall Out Boy

The Man Who Sold The World — Nirvana

Praise You (Radio Edit) — Fatboy Slim