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Local trumpeters pay respects with 'Taps'

People stood on their front porches, driveways and backyard decks on Monday and in less than 45 seconds played the 24 musical notes that honor the United States’ war dead.

Players of trumpets, bugles and coronets marked Memorial Day by participating in “Taps Across America,” a nationwide performance of the tune.

Local performers were high school student Ben Craven, teacher Jamie Forbes and First Presbyterian Church co-pastor Rob Jackson. Each played outside their Greenville home.

“I saw an opportunity to honor those who had sacrificed for our country by playing my trumpet in my little part of the world,” Jackson said.

“Taps Across America” is the brainchild of CBS News “On the Road” correspondent Steve Hartman and retired Air Force bugler Jari Villanueva.

While Memorial Day weekend saw many states ease restrictions that allowed people to spend the day at beaches, lakes and other vacation locations, many parades and memorial services were canceled, including the annual service held at Greenville Town Common.

According to a report on cbsnews.com, Hartman and Villanueva thought a nationwide event would “offer an opportunity to pause for a moment to pay tribute to fallen service members and victims of the coronavirus pandemic while maintaining social distancing guidelines.”

Jackson, Forbes and Craven all started playing trumpet in middle school.

Craven, a graduating senior at J.H. Rose High School, learned about Taps Across America on Monday morning, when his grandmother called his mom about it.

Craven’s biological mother was a soldier who was badly injured in Iraq.

“Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for a lot of people and if I have the power to participate in this event I want to participate in the remembrance of those who died,” he said.

Craven had never before played Taps, so he took a screenshot of the music and spent Monday morning practicing using a metronome along with playing along by ear with the music.

“He sounds pretty good,” said his dad, Brack. “His room is upstairs so it’s kind of muted by the walls and the door, but it still sounds pretty good.”

“He’s always been one that can pick things up by ear,” said his mom, Kay. “He has perfect pitch so he can pick that sort of thing up rather quickly.”

Speaking shortly before the 3 p.m. performance, Craven said he was nervous, but he was OK.

“Ben has always been one to pick up on something like this and get passionate about it,” Kay Craven said. “It’s always fun to watch what he can do with things.”

The Cravens streamed his performance so his birth mother, grandparents and other family members could watch.

Forbes, a third-grade teacher, a mother of two and a wife, picked up the trumpet when she was 10 years old and has played practically nonstop since then. She’s been a member of the Tar River Community Band for 18 years and Emerald City Big Band for six years.

“I always thought the trumpet was the coolest instrument and the loudest,” she said. Her dad played trumpet in school so when she became interested in music he had a trumpet for her.

“It wasn’t extremely hard to pick up but it took a lot of work, a lot of practice at home,” she said.

Forbes has twice before played Taps; once in high school when a classmate died and at her grandfather’s funeral.

Taps is not difficult to perform on the trumpet because all the values are open, she said. It’s just a matter of positioning the lips on the mouthpiece so the player can tighten and loosen as needed.

“It’s all about making it sound pretty. It is basic notes but it’s a matter of the bravado and the feeling about it and getting the right timing of it,” Forbes said. “It is an emotional piece to play and you want to make sure not to hold it out too long or too short and put the feeling into it and to make the notes just sing out.”

Forbes has never stood in her driveway and performed. She posted a note on her neighborhood Facebook page to alert her neighbors so they wouldn’t be startled.

Shortly before 3 p.m. she was joined by her husband, children, her brother and his finance, a few band members and several neighbors.

When she was finished, she heard a few cheers and later received congratulations on Facebook.

“I felt very honored that we had this opportunity that this could be put together for trumpet players of all abilities and for all professional levels and nonprofessional levels to come together and play the same song at the same time and that it will be put together in a tribute video,” Forbes said.

Jackson played trumpet throughout middle and high school but gave it up.

He picked it up again about eight years ago and had to relearn it from scratch.

“It became somewhat of a spiritual practice for me,” he said. “I’ll play as a way of doing prayer. I tend to talk a lot and it’s a way for me to sit in prayer with God when I am not talking. It’s a way of being in the presence of God without saying a word.”

A fellow trumpet player alerted Jackson to Taps Across America over the weekend. Jackson said he was immediately onboard.

“I am not a professional trumpet player by a long shot. I am a guy with a trumpet,” Jackson said. “It is not an especially difficult piece of music, but it is always a meaningful piece of music when you play. It is less about skill and more about your heart.”

With the help of his wife Karen, also co-pastor of the church, Jackson streamed the performance for his congregation.

“It’s important because we should all do our part to remember and equip others as well to remember,” Jackson said.

Hartman asked performers to submit videos of their performances. He plans to broadcast a story about the performances during tonight’s CBS News.

Large daily virus jumps continue

The number of COVID-19 cases in Pitt County grew by 22 over the weekend as more business began to reopen while enforcing strict measures to control the virus’ spread.

The number of cumulative cases since the first positive testing for COVID-19 in Pitt on March 12 grew from 242 on Friday to 264 on Monday, according to numbers provided by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources.

Data from the county has not been updated since Friday. However, the number of cases grew by 12 from Thursday to Friday, going from 230 to 242. On Saturday, the number went up another 12 to 254. The 12-case jumps are among the biggest single-day increases in the county.

On Sunday, the numbers increased by three to 257, and on Monday by seven to 264. State numbers and county numbers typically differ by one or two cases, county officials have said.

The most recent data available from the county indicates that 147 people here are believed to be recovered from the virus, while two people died. About 7.5 percent of all people tested for the virus as of Friday were positive, county data showed.

The number of people hospitalized in Vidant Health system facilities as of Monday was 72. Vidant does not provide breakdowns for individual hospitals including Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

Restaurants, brew pubs and hair-care businesses were allowed to open across the state on Friday and many saw a return of customers over the weekend as Phase 2 of the state’s phased plan to reopen the economy took effect.

Long lines of people waiting for a haircut cued up outside hair salons like the Great Clips at University Commons on Saturday after it reopened for business.

The salon followed state and corporate guidelines that customers wait outside while masked stylists worked in every other chair inside. The business is managing the backlog with help from an appointment smartphone app.

Restaurants like Chicos in downtown Greenville also opened at 50 percent capacity. Staff in masks greeted customers at 5 p.m. on Friday and allowed them to sit at every other table. Plenty and hand sanitizer, disposable menus and other measures were in place.

The state reported a cumulative total of nearly 24,000 positive cases Monday, a daily increase of about 740. On Saturday, the state reported 1,100 new cases, its biggest daily jump since the first positive cases were reported in March. Monday’s state tally includes about 754 deaths and 627 hospitalizations.

Saturday’s increase was concerning DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said over the weekend. “Please practice the three Ws — wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands frequently. When it comes to our health, we need to work together to protect our families, friends and neighbors.”

Officials have said daily cases totals are likely to climb as testing increases. The number of positive tests compared to total tests statewide rose to 10 percent on Saturday from a low of 6 percent earlier last week. On Monday the percentage had dropped to 8 percent.

State epidemiologists are continually analyzing the data to address contributing factors if necessary.

County seeks input on N.C. 43 South corridor

Pitt County officials are seeking input in the development of a land-use plan to guide growth along N.C. 43 between Greenville and Chicod.

The county posted an online survey at www.pittcountync.gov/survey to gather insight into the development residents and other stakeholders would like to see in the corridor, a news release said. It also seeks gather input regarding the strengths, opportunities and challenges within the corridor.

The county is creating the land-use plan in collaboration with the Greenville Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the City of Greenville and the N.C. Department of Transportation.

The study area is approximately 9.5 miles in length, extending from Charles Boulevard in Greenville to just south of the intersection with Stokestown-St. Johns Road in Chicod. The highway primarily is a two-lane roadway that includes a center turn lane on the northern end.

N.C. DOT is proposing to widen the northern end of the corridor between Charles Boulevard and Worthington Road to a four-lane, raised median, divided roadway. The corridor is experiencing significant growth in residential and commercial development, and the proposed infrastructure improvements will present many additional development opportunities.

The intent of the land-use plan is to guide anticipated growth and development along the corridor, particularly at major intersections such as Hollywood Crossroads, Cox Crossing and Chicod, the news release said.

The survey gives residents, business and property owners the opportunity to help craft the plan and guide growth and development, the release said.

For more information, visit www.pittcountync.gov/nc43southplan or contact Eric Gooby, senior planner with Pitt County Planning and Development at 902-3250 or eric.gooby@pittcountync.gov.

Seven people killed in wrecks

A 34-year-old Greenville woman killed on Friday was the seventh person to die on Pitt County roadways in a week’s time.

Olivia Fawne Gay died after she ran a red light about 11 p.m. near Pitt-Greenville Airport, according to the Greenville Police Department.

Gay was driving a Pontiac Vibe west on Airport Road when she drove through the intersection of Memorial, police reported. The Pontiac was struck in the driver’s side by a Ford Ranger pickup driven north on Memorial.

Treyvon LaDonte Page, 24, of Grifton, had the green light, police reported. He suffered minor injuries and was not transported for medical treatment. Gay was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation. Anyone who has information pertinent to the investigation is asked to contact officers A.S. Samuel or A.S. Lemon at 329-4315.

Two more people were killed early Friday morning after the driver of a tractor trailer lost control of his rig on Wesley Church Road near Farmville, the State Highway Patrol reported.

Darren Devonne Burkrham of Goldsboro was driving south on Welsey Church Road about 2:40 a.m. when he ran a stop sign at the intersection of U.S. 264 Alternate and lost control.

The truck traveled straight into a ditch before it overturned and came to rest at the wood line, the patrol reported.

Both Burkrham and passenger John Earl Parks of Seven Springs were pronounced dead on scene.

Three people were killed Tuesday when a 30-year-old Greenville man drove a Nissan Altima head-on into a tree on Davis Street in west Greenville, the police department reported.

McArthur Ward was traveling about 70 mph in the residential area when the car become airborne, hit the tree and exploded. It killed him, Miland Marco Capone Lewis, 21, 1211-A Clark St., and Miranda Lashae Artis, 29, 2804 Frank Kilpatrick Road, Grifton.

Sammie Madlock, 708-A Fleming St., survived with minor injuries.

A motorcyclist was killed on May 17 when a car pulled in front of him on Greenville Boulevard west of Memorial Drive, the Greenville Police Department reported.

The wreck occurred about 6:30 p.m. as Donald Ray Bryant, 25, of Winterville was riding with other motorcyclists west toward Dickinson Avenue.

Laquita Frost, 31, of Greenville pulled in front of Bryant from Boardwalk Lane, attempting to turn left onto the boulevard. Bryant’s motorcycle collided with the driver’s side panel of Frost’s vehicle.

Bryant was ejected from the motorcycle and pronounced dead at the scene, police reported. Speed was a factor in the crash.

Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to contact officer Lemon at 329-4182.

It was the third fatal motorcycle wreck in a month in the county.

Lashaun Malloy, 42, was riding south on U.S. 13 at a high rate of speed about 8:50 p.m. on on April 28 when he attempted to pass a commercial tractor-trailer. To prevent a collision he hit his front break and lost control, the State Highway Patrol reported. He was ejected from his motorcycle and pronounced dead at the scene.

Fountain Fire Department volunteer John Wayne Turner, 41, was killed 10:45 p.m. April 18 on U.S. 258 north of Farmville when a vehicle turned in front of him, the patrol reported. Turner was pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle and a failure to yield violation.