After 12 consecutive days and more than 10 inches of rain, the skies cleared midweek, but damage to crops already had been done.
The crop damage in Bladen County drew the attention of state officials. Gov. Pat McCrory and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler met with farmers Tuesday, Oct. 6 at Lu Mil Vineyard and visited the Clarkton farm of Wilbur and Dan Ward to access damage.
On Friday, Oct. 9, state Farm Service Agency Executive Director Bob Etheridge looked at damage to the peanut crop of Woody Marlowe located on U.S. 701 between Elizabethtown and Clarkton. Bladen FSA Excutive Director Chris Tatum estimated there was 70 percent damage to peanut and cotton crops in Bladen.
The visits may mean much-needed federal and state aid is on the way.
Another Bladen County story that began almost 40 years ago was back in the news this week.
Four former Bladen County law enforcement officers and one current officer have until Oct. 31 to respond to a civil lawsuit filed by a man who spent 37 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit.
Former Bladen County sheriff’s Earl Stoms, Stephen Bunn and Prentis Benston, along with former detective Phillip Little and current officer Jeff Singletary are among a group named in the lawsuit brought by Joseph Sledge Jr. for being “wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment” for the murders of Josephine and Aileen Davis in Elizabethtown on Sept. 6, 1976, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Sledge was released from prison in December 2013 after DNA evidence confirmed that Sledge did not commit murders.
In other news,
** On Tuesday, Oct. 6, about 8:45 p.m., the power went out in Elizabethtown after an electrical problem caused a small fire in an air conditioning unit at the Bladen County Courthouse, according to Elizabethtown Fire Chief Nick West. More than 5,000 Duke Progress customers countywide lost power for about an hour.
** On Wednesday, Oct. 7, Bladen County firefighters and EMS responded to a structure fire call on W.R. Lathan Street in Clarkton. It turned out smoke was filling the house as a result of clothes being piled atop a TV converter box.
** Anyone traveling in the heart of Elizabethtown last week couldn’t miss the road work happening. According to Town Manager Eddie Madden, the work is a resurfacing project, including the creation of bike lanes. Roads included in the project are Peanut Plant Road, West Broad Street and King Street.
** The skies above were the only gray thing at the Grape Festival on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Lu Mil Vineyard. The crowds were there to enjoy the festivities, the vendors, the yard sales, and the great food and music.
** The Bladen County Board of Commissioners approved Wayne Raynor as the interim Bladen County Health and Human Services director, replacing Cris Harrelson, who resigned to take a similar post in Brunswick County.
** In boys soccer, Josue Guvera and Greyson Heustess combined for 3 goals and 2 assists to lead East Bladen to a 5-1 Four County Conference victory over visiting West Bladen.
That’s the week that was in Bladen County.
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