Hoke schools will require clear backpacks

When students attending Hoke County Schools return to class next month for the start of the new school year, they’ll need to have a clear backpack. The school district announced the change in a press release last week. The backpacks or bookbags must be made of clear plastic, vinyl or similar transparent material, according to the district. Mesh bags are...

County responds to News-Journal records request

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • The News-Journal last week received a response to the public records requests that sparked a lawsuit against Hoke County. The newspaper received three large binders containing 1,872 pages, delivered by courier Wednesday, July 10 from the Charleston Group, the Fayetteville-based attorney firm that commissioners hired to represent the county in the News-Journal’s public records...

OPINION: Beaver Tales: Political candidates overlook the struggles of the Tuscarora Nation in favor of potential swing vote in Robeson County

OPINION • By Rahnàwakęw Donnie McDowell • Recent media reports highlight that candidates running for NC Governor, such as Attorney General Josh Stein and Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, expressed their support for the Lumbee Tribe. Like President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden in 2020, Mr. Stein and Mr. Robinson publicly attested to Lumbee’s plight for federal acknowledgment. Neither candidate...

Hoke County Community Foundation awards nearly $20k in grants

The Hoke County Community Foundation, a North Carolina Community Foundation affiliate, has awarded $19,700 in grants to organizations supporting the local community. The board of advisors granted: •$2,000 to American Red Cross Sandhills Region for disaster services – Prepare, Respond and Recover •$2,000 to Children’s Cancer Partners of the Carolinas for Hoke County Childhood Cancer Safety Net •$1,000 to Community...

Two people have filed for Hoke County Board of Education

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • One more candidate has filed to run for a seat on the Hoke County Board of Education during the open filing period for the race, which is to be decided in the general election in November. Christopher Leach filed to seek the office. He previously ran in 2022 for a seat on the Board...

Hoke commissioners pass budget, no tax increase

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • The Hoke County Board of Commissioners voted last week in a resumed meeting to approve the 2024-2025 fiscal year budget, which did not include a tax increase. The total budget came in at $75.2 million in spending, balanced against the same amount in estimated revenues from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2025. The...

Editorial: I’ll stand by you, and you’ll stand by me

Editorial: I’ll stand by you, and you’ll stand by me

By Jessica Hendrix Brown • News-Journal Publisher • I walked into a meeting this week and as I sat down, the person beside me sneered and moved away as if I was rotten trash. It’s okay. I know it’s human nature to be a petty jerk sometimes and I try not to expect anyone to be anything more than human. That...

A talk with Hoke High School’s new principal

A talk with Hoke High School’s new principal

Catharin Shepard • News-Journal Editor • Colleen Pegram-Wike is the new principal of Hoke County High School. After years of serving as principal of SandHoke Early College High School, she’s bringing her leadership and educational philosophy to the much larger campus of Hoke High. What are her thoughts on education? What can students expect to see? What are her goals...

Kids, teens in Hoke County can get free summer meals

Children and teenagers 18 and younger can get free meals this summer through Hoke County Schools and other community partners that are working with the North Carolina Summer Nutrition Program. Kids and teens 18 and younger can receive free, healthy meals on weekdays from June 10 through August 2, 2024. No identification or registration is required. Meals are served and...

Cheers, happy tears at Hoke High Bucks graduation

Cheers, happy tears at Hoke High Bucks graduation

[Photo: Students walk into the stadium at Hoke High for the 2024 commencement ceremony. Photo by Carrie Palm, see more graduation photos in this week’s issue of The News-Journal, available in stores around the county.) By Catharin Shepard • Editor • The Hoke High Class of 2024 began their high school experience with the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, and ended...

County shuns News-Journal, sends planning notices to Fayetteville newspaper

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • After the News-Journal filed a lawsuit over public records, Hoke County Commissioners told at least one county department to post local public notices in the Fayetteville Observer instead of the News-Journal. Public notices about a proposed rezoning and an application for a special use permit in Hoke County were posted in the Fayetteville Observer...

Rockholt pleads guilty, sentenced in 2019 “Ratty Shack” murder

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • John Brian Rockholt last week pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2019 slaying of Hoke County machinist and motorcycle designer Galen Christopher DeBruler, and was sentenced to at least 18 years in prison. Rockholt was originally charged with first-degree murder. Attorneys negotiated a plea deal, and Rockholt pleaded guilty to the lesser charge....

News-Journal hires lawyer (Originally published May 8, 2024)

(This story was originally published May 8, 2024) By Catharin Shepard • Editor • The News-Journal has hired a lawyer to represent the newspaper in its public records lawsuit against Hoke County. With support from the North Carolina Press Association (NCPA), the newspaper has retained attorney Mike Tadych of the Stevens, Martin, Vaughn and Tadych law firm, based out of...

Help needed for Habitat for Humanity projects

It’s time to put on the work gloves to help others in Hoke County have safe housing through upcoming Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills projects. Volunteers are needed for several work efforts, and the nonprofit will soon open applications for qualified people interested in becoming Habitat homeowners. The organization is also planning several upcoming events to raise money,...

Signs point to growth at Hoke community forest

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • New trail markers at the Hoke Community Forest will help guide the way for hikers, bikers and horseback riders as part of planned improvements to make the public land more inviting. Hoke residents have hiking trails just off of Vass Road at one of the southeast’s only community forests. Work has been ongoing at...

“Exactly, sweetheart”: Hoke County lawyers up in News-Journal lawsuit

“Exactly, sweetheart”: Hoke County lawyers up in News-Journal lawsuit

[Photo: Lisa Maynor is ejected from the meeting after she and another person spoke up. Members of the public were not allowed to speak or ask questions at the called meeting. (Photo by Catharin Shepard)] By Catharin Shepard • Editor • Hoke County Commissioners hired a lawyer Tuesday to represent the county in the News-Journal’s public records lawsuit, and the...

News-Journal sues Hoke County

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • After months of asking for and not receiving requested public records, The News-Journal filed a lawsuit Monday in Hoke County Superior Court asking the court to order Hoke County to turn over the records. The News-Journal and owner Jessica Brown filed the lawsuit under North Carolina’s Public Records Law, N.C. General Statute § 132....

Hillcrest fire chief injured in fall from truck

Hillcrest fire chief injured in fall from truck

[Photo: Fire Chief Michael Scott; photo from Facebook] Catharin Shepard • Editor • Hillcrest Fire Department Fire Chief Michael Scott suffered a head injury Tuesday when he fell from one of the station’s fire trucks, according to the department. “On Tuesday afternoon, the Fire Chief was assisting with vehicle washing and maintenance when he fell from the fire engine and...

Late audit shows Hoke County had to pay big water bill, fund balance hit record high

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • Although the audit was submitted late, the news Monday night was mostly good for Hoke County when an auditor presented the annual report to commissioners. The county’s available general fund balance hit a new record high, after successive years of commissioners putting money aside into the fund. At the end of fiscal year 2023,...

Tylertown celebrates improved fire rating

Tylertown celebrates improved fire rating

[Photo: Tylertown Fire Department Chief Hervon McCollum gets a celebratory hug at the announcement of the fire department’s new, improved ISO rating. (Catharin Shepard photo)] By Catharin Shepard • Editor • For two years the volunteer firefighters of Tylertown have trained, responded to emergency calls and sought out equipment to provide fire protection in the district. For years before that,...

Hoke County commission candidates answer Q&A

Hoke County commission candidates answer Q&A

The News-Journal sent out questions to candidates seeking election to two commission seats in Hoke County in 2024. The questions were sent out by email and letter mailed to the address on record when the candidate filed. Here, we share their responses. The partisan primary election is Tuesday, March 5. The candidates who responded were Democrats Lent C. Carr II,...

School Resource Officer struck by vehicle

A Hoke County School Resource Officer was hit by a vehicle Wednesday morning while directing traffic at Sandy Grove Elementary School. The officer was expected to make a full recovery, according to the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office. The law enforcement agency released the following statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with one of our own officers today. One of our...

Raeford Kiwanis Club scholarship applications open

The Raeford Kiwanis Club will award three scholarships of $500 each to a high school senior who resides in Hoke County. Procedure and qualifications are as follows: •Students will apply for the scholarship using the form entitled “Raeford Kiwanis Club Scholarship Application Cover Sheet” and following the instructions contained therein. •Students shall have a minimum of 2.5 GPA •Students must...

New courthouse construction set to get underway in Hoke County

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • Hoke County will break ground on a long-awaited new courthouse at a ceremony set for 11 a.m. Thursday, February 29, 2024. Hoke County Manager Letitia Edens and county commissioners confirmed the date at the board’s meeting Monday night. Commissioners approved a change order for the bulk of the construction work on the project. The...

Voter registration deadline for primary election is this Friday, February 9

To vote in the upcoming partisan primary election scheduled for Tuesday, March 5, 2024, prospective voters will need to have registered to vote by this Friday, February 9, 2024. Voters will also need to bring a photo I.D. in order to vote in the election. The civilian voter registration deadline in North Carolina is 25 days before the election, according...