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Format changes today

The Daily Reflector today is changing its Monday paper to feature Workweek content in a broadsheet format. The change will allow greater flexibility to display the weekly business content and other features. Workweek will lead the B section followed by sports and classified. The Report Card page and obituaries will move to the A section.

Accreditation team seeks input on ECU police

A team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies will arrive today to examine all aspects of the East Carolina University Police Department’s policy and procedures, management, operations and support services, Chief Jon R. Barnwell announced.

Verification that the ECU Police Department meets the commission’s state-of-the-art standards is part of a voluntary process to gain accreditation, a highly prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence, Barnwell said.

As part of the on-site assessment, agency employees and members of the community are invited to offer comments at a public information session at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The session will be in ECU’s Main Campus Student Center Room 318, 501 E. 10th St.

Comments to the assessment team also may be made by telephone at 252-737-4737 between the hours of 9-11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Telephone comments as well as appearances at the public information session are limited to 10 minutes and must address the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA’s standards.

A copy of the standards is available at the ECU Police Department, 609 E.10th St., Greenville. Interested parties may contact Tim Johnson, ECU Police accreditation manager, at 252-328-2462.

Persons wishing to offer written comments about the department’s ability to meet the standards are requested to write: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), 13575 Heathcote Blvd., Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia 20155.

The assessment team is composed of law enforcement practitioners from similar but out-of-state agencies. The assessors will review written materials, interview individuals, and visit offices and other locations where compliance can be witnessed. The assessors are Assistant Chief of Police William Buckbee, Kent State University Police Department, Chagrin Falls, Ohio and Denise Mantey, Virginia Tech Police Department, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Once the commission’s assessors complete their review of the agency, they report back to the full commission, which will then decide if the agency is to be granted accredited status. Accreditation is part of a four-year process during which the agency must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.

For more information regarding the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., write the commission at 13575 Heathcote Blvd., Suite 320, Gainesville, VA 20155, or call 703-352-4225.

County board to elect officers

The annual election of officers of the Pitt County Board of Commissioners will be among the first items of business at its 8:30 a.m. meeting today.

The board will follow the process established in the its rules of procedure. Chairwoman Beth Ward will relinquish control of the meeting, and county attorney Janis Gallagher will serve as parliamentarian for election, according to agenda materials.

The board will accept nominations for chairman and vote on the nominees. It will then accept nominations for vice-chairman and vote on the nominees.

The newly elected officers will begin their terms immediately, according to procedure.

Items for decision for today’s meeting, according to agenda materials, include:

  • Approval of the 2020 board meeting calendar and the fiscal year 2020-21 budget calendar.
  • A budget amendment that establishes the needed transactions to create a capital reserve fund for the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office in the amount of $418,843. This amendment is the result of revenue that exceeded projections for the fiscal year 2018-19.
  • The board previously approved a recommendation from Brian Barnett, deputy county manager and CFO, regarding the establishment of a multi-year capital project fund for the sheriff’s office upon the completion of the audit for that year. The audit has now been completed.
  • A request from the Pitt County Board of Health to write off $539,252 in delinquent accounts in the health information system. The system is no longer being supported by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the system has not been able to run reports since July. The Board of Health approved the debt write-off at its Nov. 15 meeting.
  • Appointments/re-appointments to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

In other business, the board is scheduled to:

  • Receive an update on Pitt County Schools from Superintendent Ethan Lenker.
  • Hear a report on Social Services by Director Jan Elliott.
  • Discuss the rules of procedure, including requesting any changes in procedure or re-confirming rules already in place. Proposed amendments to be discussed include the definitions of “majority vote” and “super majority;” re-numbering of the order of business to include presentations prior to public hearings and changes in organizational structure for June and December meetings. This discussion is required at the first regular meeting in December.

The meeting will be held in the Eugene James Auditorium on the second floor of the Pitt County Office Complex, 1717 W. Fifth St.

Board of Education

The Pitt County Board of Education is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. today in the third floor board room in the Pitt County Office Building, 1717 W. Fifth St.

The meeting will include election of officers for the upcoming year and expected approval of several items on the board’s consent agenda. The agenda includes 6 percent increase of the local salary supplement for teachers.

Consent agenda items require no discussion, although most were reviewed during the board’s Nov. 25 work session.

The meeting also will include a public comment session and comments from Superintendent Ethan Lenker and board members.

The Margaret L. Blount Memorial Art Competition Reception featuring work by school system art students will be held from 5:30-6:10 p.m. prior to the meeting in the third floor foyer.

Bike ride supports coffee house workforce development effort

Awaken Coffee, a start-up nonprofit that will employ people with disabilities in Greenville, is among several organizations participating in the first N.C. Bike Ride fundraiser.

The ride will start on Tuesday, National Giving Day, and Esteamed Coffee Board Member Kirby Barbour will ride his bike 400 miles across North Carolina to raise awareness and funds for Awaken Coffee and nonprofits with similar interests from other parts of the state.

Esteamed Coffee, Moji Coffee & More, A Special Blend, Gabi’s Grounds and Special Pedals also are participating. The minimum goal is to raise $100 for every mile of the bike ride, totaling at least $40,000. Donations will be divided among all the nonprofits.

“We are excited to be a host for this first-ever, statewide collaborative event which will bring wider awareness to seven nonprofits working together toward a common goal: creating jobs for people with disabilities in North Carolina,” said Carol Preston, cofounder of Awaken Coffee. “Through the N.C. Bike Ride, all involved nonprofits are showing our great state how much we care about our mission and each other’s efforts to create meaningful work for people with disabilities.”

Awaken Coffee and all the other shops involved are bringing workforce development opportunities to the communities they serve, said Jennifer Dyson, Co-Founder of Awaken Coffee.

“Our employees will be so well trained that other businesses may desire to recruit them, thereby allowing each shop to employ additional workers with disabilities seeking a supportive work environment,” Dyson said. “It’s a win-win for all communities involved.”

Barbour will start his ride at Moji Coffee & More in Winston-Salem and ride to A Special Blend in Greensboro. On Wednesday, he will ride to Cary for a warm welcome by the Esteamed Coffee, Gabi’s Grounds and 321 Coffee teams. On Thursday he will arrive at Awaken Coffee, currently based at Unity Church, 4301 Charles Blvd. The ride wraps on Saturday with Special Pedals in Wilmington at a grand finale event at FlyTrap Brewing.

Awaken will hosting Barbour from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday at Unity Church. Visit https://livesofpurpose.org/donate to learn more or support the effort.

the associated press  

Guice, Peterson run over Panthers, Redskins win 29-21

Changing the script: Teen writes play to help people understand autism

When it came time to begin high school, Ben Craven faced challenges that are common to teens with autism. He had a few quirks that could sometimes be misunderstood by peers, and conversations could be difficult to navigate.

But a decision to pursue theater his sophomore year altered the script. Now the J.H. Rose High School senior has written a play that he hopes will change the way people view those with autism.

“Time Twister,” which Ben wrote during the summer for his senior project, is being staged Friday along with “How to Succeed in High School Without Really Trying” by Jonathan Rand.

“We talk as teachers about inclusiveness all the time, but how often do we put it out there in performance form?” Jackie Golebiowski, Rose theater arts instructor, asked. “It was one of those things that he had a story to tell, and it wasn’t just a play, but it was a play with a message.”

“Time Twister” is the story of a group of teens with autism who are bullied at school. Ben stars as Erick Thomson, a student whose social anxiety is heightened by problems at home. He and his friends find refuge in the school’s struggling music program and rally to save it using their “super powers.”

It was during auditions for Rampant Theatrical Company’s “Legally Blonde” that Golebiowski and technical director Cristina Borisoff discovered how some of Ben’s gifts were perfectly suited to theater.

“He had the entire script memorized in three days,” Borisoff said. “It was unbelievable.”

Kay Craven had known for some time that the son she and her husband, Brack, had adopted when the boy was 10 months old possessed some special abilities. Although Ben’s language skills had been somewhat slow to develop, his mother found that he was able to recite the children’s book “The Polar Express” at age 2.

But at theater auditions in 2018, Ben’s memory was not the only thing that made him stand out.

“When he opened his mouth to sing, everybody’s jaws dropped,” Golebiowski said.

Ben, who plays trumpet in the school band, had perfect pitch. Almost no one was as surprised as his mother to learn that Ben had a gift for singing.

“He didn’t sing in the choir at church. ... I had never heard him sing ever, not in the shower, not in the car, not to the radio,” Kay said, laughing. “He can sing quite well, it turns out.”

Ben went on to join the Greenville Choral Society’s Youth Chorale. But even more important than the musical harmony was the camaraderie he found with fellow cast members at Rose.

“I managed to meet a lot of friends,” Ben said. “... The people there were so kind to me.”

While talking with peers sometimes presented a challenge for Ben, having a script in his hand seemed to put him at ease.

“Sometimes he struggles one on one with people in conversations or in small groups,” Kay said. “But you put him on stage … that’s when he blossoms. That’s the opposite of most people.”

Ben not only learned his role in “Legally Blonde,” he also memorized other characters’ lines and would cue fellow cast members if they stumbled over them in rehearsals.

“Other kids just loved it,” Golebiowski said. “They just embraced him.”

That is one reason that when Rose announced plans to perform “Time Twister,” Ben wanted to make the event a fundraiser for the Rampant Theatrical Company, which is planning a trip to Europe next summer that will include workshops at the Globe Theatre in London. With the help of his parents, Ben was able to expand the event to include a silent auction featuring more than 60 items, many of them original works of art.

“Theater has given me a place to call home, and they accepted me for who I was,” Ben said. “Doing this play and earning money through my play, this will be my way of saying thank you and giving back to them.”

When his fellow theater students found out that the school planned to perform a play Ben had written, they were quick to join the effort. “Time Twister” features a cast of about a dozen members.

Among them is Rose junior Cole Perry, who has taken theater classes but never pursued a stage role until now. Cole, whose brother has autism, will portray Beethoven in “Time Twister.”

“I feel like a lot of people don’t understand what autism is or what it means,” Cole said. “I hope and wish that this play will explain it to them or at least help them understand.”

East Carolina University student intern, Eden Fox, who will direct “Time Twister,” said she was impressed that the school would produce a student-written work.

“Not a lot of high school theater programs would take this and run with this the way they have,” Fox said. “A lot of times with high school theater programs everything needs to be big and showy because they’re trying to sell as many tickets as possible.

“But this really is not about a theater company,” she said. “It’s about Ben’s dream, which is really special. I think that’s why it means so much to everybody.”

Friday’s event also will serve to promote autism awareness, with displays outside the auditorium providing information on the developmental disorder. Students from The Autism Society of North Carolina, the TEACCH autism program and Aces for Autism have been invited to attend the opening, which will include a sensory room where students with autism can relax and relieve stress and anxiety.

“It’s just incredible to see people from all sorts of places coming to this and supporting this play. It’s honestly meant so much to me,” Ben said.

“This will help give them a better idea of what autism is and that people will learn to accept people who have autism and help their abilities grow,” he said. “... No matter where they are on the spectrum, they have these unique gifts and talents that when nurtured, they could be something that’s drastically incredible and beneficial to the world.”