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2022 State of the County Address


Smithfield, NC – This year, the Chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, Butch Lawter, delivered the State of the County address through a video produced by the County's Public Information Office. The video aired live at the February 21, 2022 Board of Commissioners meeting. View the State of the County video on YouTube or view below  (transscript follows):

 

 

 

In the address Chairman Lawter discusses the County's continued investment in infrastructure and the economic development highlights of 2022. He also gives an update from the parks, greenways and open space office along with highlighting the many other major achievements made possible through the hard work of County Commissioners and staff. To stay up-to-date on all the great things happening in Johnston County be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel at youtube.com/jocogovnc.

Below is the transcript of the State of the County 2022 speech:

"Hello Johnston County residents, businesses and everyone else that calls Johnston County home. I am Butch Lawter, Chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners. I’d like to thank you for joining me for the annual state of the County address.

Johnston County continues to position itself as a leader in our region through tremendous economic growth, a continued investment in infrastructure, diligently planning for the future and our historic dedication to provide responsive and innovative services to every resident in the County.

2021 was a year that tested our resiliency, but it also gave us confidence that the work we’re doing at the County level will pay major dividends in the future and benefit Johnston County residents for generations to come.

The biggest challenge we faced head-on this year was the continued impacts of COVID-19. The Johnston County Public Health Department played a vital role in helping make vaccines and testing available to every resident in the County. We thank them for their hard work, dedication and for being a guiding light throughout the pandemic.

The County made a substantial investment in public safety in 2020 with the groundbreaking of the new Johnston County Detention Center. Today we’re only a few months away from that state-of-the-art facility becoming fully operational. In December, crews broke ground on phase two of the project, which will be a long-overdue, Public Safety Center that will house the Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Services and 911 Communications.

The latest census numbers proved what most of us already knew, that Johnston County is a very desirable place to live, work and play. We continue to see steady, shared growth occurring across the County some of the highlights include the construction of a new Amazon distribution facility in Smithfield, AdvanceTEC and Copper District’s major investment near Clayton, EastField in Selma, Berry Global’s production facility expansion in Benson and Bartlett Milling expanding its operation in Wilson’s Mills. 

For over 200 years our historic agricultural industry has been a leader in the state and the backbone of our local economy. With a shift in some agricultural business models to accommodate tourism our Agriculture economy continues to thrive. To continue fostering sustained growth in Johnston County we must be diligent in planning and preparing for the future. 

After four steering committee meetings and nearly 2,500 online survey responses, the development of a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan is well underway. The plan will help guide the growth and development of our community for years to come. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan will be finalized later this year. 

An even broader road map for the County is on the horizon, with County officials beginning discussions for a strategic plan that will set priorities and focus on County and education facilities, infrastructure, including broadband, parks and greenways, open space preservation and overall growth.

Infrastructure planning will always be at the top of the County’s priority list. A crucial Countywide water and wastewater study will start soon. This comes on the heels of a new water agreement with the city of Raleigh and a bid approval for a new wastewater treatment plant in the County. 

In September, County Commissioners agreed to partially fund an extension of a natural gas line close to the Four Oaks Business Park. This extension will also increase the opportunity for commercial development along the Interstate 95 corridor. 

To better serve the public and local media, the Board of Commissioners enhanced the production quality of their live streamed Board meetings and made them easier to access on the County’s YouTube channel, YouTube.com/jocogovnc.

A new space needs study for County offices and facilities is underway and the approval of $5.5 million in general fund allocations for municipal infrastructure projects is also currently under consideration. 

The Parks, Greenways and Open Space Office continues to be a trailblazer, literally and figuratively in our community. They’re currently working with County planners and the Upper Coastal Plains RPO on a feasibility study for the Mountains to Sea Trail and East Coast Greenway to determine the optimum route through the area. The office hopes to soon have a master plan for a two-site, County park complex in Cleveland that will become a cornerstone for recreation in that area for years to come. 

These are only a few of the many accomplishments and achievements we’ve seen in 2021. I want to thank our residents for their continued support and I want to thank the Board of Commissioners for their service and dedication to the County. None of this success would be possible without the hard work of our outstanding team of County employees as they continue providing quality services to everyone who calls Johnston County home. Thank you and God bless."