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Shooting Wednesday night leaves 18-year-old dead
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HENDERSON — A shooting Wednesday night left an 18-year-old dead and police looking for the man they believe is responsible for his death.

Henderson police said the victim, Alveante “Al” Markeith Holden, was dead by the time officers got to the scene outside a laundry on the 600 block of East Andrews Avenue. He suffered a wound to his upper torso, and was seated in a vehicle parked in the laundry’s parking lot.

Emergency dispatchers sent police to the scene at about 8:43 p.m. to investigate gunfire.

From gathering evidence at the scene and questioning witnesses, police believe Holden “is a victim of a narcotics transaction gone awry,” according to a news release Police Chief Marcus Barrow sent to The Dispatch and other media outlets.

The suspect is a white man and “is believed to be the sole shooter,” but there was another man and woman with him, also white.

“We are currently looking for an extended-cab, white, full-size, truck with a high stance, possibly a lift kit,” the news release said. “The make of the vehicle is not clear, but is possibly a GMC or Chevrolet. The only additional descriptor we have is brush/limbs protruding from the cargo area.”

Police are hoping to get some tips about the case, and are offering a cash reward of up to $2,000 for information. People can contact them via Henderson-Vance Crime Stoppers by calling 252-492-1925 or using the P3 app.

They can also contact the Henderson Police Department directly at 252-438-4141, or through Facebook or Instagram.

Workers have been busy this week building the framework for some new townhouses on Graham Avenue in Henderson.

Under construction

Election preview: Three-way race for Granville commissioners District 5
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Russell May

OXFORD — A three-way battle is unfolding for the Granville County Commissioners District 5 seat, between unaffiliated candidate Joshua Averette, Democratic candidate Donnie Boyd and Republican candidate Russell May.

The District 5 seat is currently held by appointee Commissioner Ernie Anderson, who took the place of former Commissioner Owen Roberts, who died of cancer on July 21.

Averette does not consider his lack of party affiliation as a disadvantage and is confident he can be a strong voice for District 5.

“As a lifetime resident of Granville County, I have a special bond with the community,” he said. “Many of the folks that I went to school, went to work, or shared a ball field with, have become business owners or community leaders here in Granville County. I am dedicated to helping my neighbors grow our district into a cooperative, inclusive community that is worth a visit.”

His platform stresses education, as he wants Granville County to retain some of their best educators by encouraging commissioners, administrators and parents to listen to any concerns they bring forward.

He is also focused on the growth of Granville County, which he believes can be accomplished by bringing in more career opportunities, adding that more companies that can offer competitive salaries can make the area more attractive to those looking to move to the region.

He said that these goals can only be reached through compromise.

“I am a firm believer that it is okay for two people to disagree,” Averette said. “Everyone does not have the same opinion. That is a fact. It is important to be willing to discuss differences in a professional manner with one goal in mind. That goal is to find a solution that works for all parties involved.”

Boyd, a former county fire marshal, could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts.

May said he wants to see improvements to public safety, public schools and continued economic development.

He wants to work with the county’s Emergency Services Committee and EMS personnel to improve response times in Granville County and ensure that county residents do not necessarily have to rely on outside ambulance units for medical emergencies, which he believes happens too often.

He also wants to increase funding for volunteer fire departments to address daytime staffing, training and truck maintenance, and favors the Granville County Sheriff’s Office beginning the accreditation processes.

Another area of concern for May involves the South Granville Water and Sewer Authority, which is seeking to improve its infrastructure. With the project expected to cost $50 million , May said that such an undertaking would cause the SGWASA to increase rates between 30-45% and create financial burdens on customers. He hopes to work with state and federal representatives to pursue additional funding of those renovations and prevent rate increases.

May is confident that his status as U.S. Army veteran and past experience as a firefighter, police officer and a manager for Nortel and Caterpillar Inc. have prepared him to represent Granville County.

“It is for the voter to determine which candidate best represents their values,” May said. “Since late 2019, I have attended nearly all of our County Commissioners and the City of Creedmoor Commissioners meetings, where I have discussed the many issues with the residents of District 5. It is important the voter know I am committed to being informed and seeking solutions to the concerns of our district and county.”

Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce hosts annual golf tournament
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HENDERSON — A perfect week of weather in Vance County continued earlier this month when 24 different teams gathered at the Kerr Lake Country Club to take part in the 22nd Annual Henderson-Vance Chamber Challenge.

In a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce President Michele Burgess considers it fortunate that the golf tournament was able to take place this year and was even more thrilled to see a good amount of people show up for the event.

“We had a lot of volunteers out here today, and everyone was wearing their masks and had their assigned spaces,” Burgess said. “Everyone talked about how glad they were to see people, so we were very excited about today. Golf is the perfect way to ease back into everything.”

When COVID-19 case counts initially began to surge in North Carolina, Burgess said she was unsure whether Gov. Roy Cooper would allow such a large gathering to take place, even with only a handful of restrictions being implemented on golf courses in the state.

Once Burgess knew for certain the Chamber Challenge would happen, she diligently worked with the Kerr Lake Country Club to ensure that all guidelines from Cooper and the Centers for Disease Control would be properly implemented to guarantee the safety of everyone in attendance.

“Last year we all would have been gathered in one room eating a buffet lunch,” Burgess said. “This year we had our own individual box lunches and everyone was either outside eating or on their golf carts, but that was just one example of how we had to change things. We did our best to be extra cautious.”

Burgess said that the Chamber Challenge would not have been possible without all of the loyal sponsors that have supported the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce over the past several years, which included the event’s presenting sponsor in Truist Bank, formerly known as BB&T and SunTrust.

Truist market leader Gaylen Hackemack said that it is important for events like the Chamber Challenge to take place to bring community members from all different backgrounds together, and believes that the golf tournament had more value with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping everyone indoors for most of 2020.

“The greatest thing about [the Chamber Challenge] is for us as a local bank to get out and see our clients and community members come together for one big event,” Hackemack said. “It’s always great to see how people interchange with one another and build friendships over years, so this is a good community activity for us.”

Along with a $400 prize that was awarded to the team that came in first, several skills contests took place at different holes around the Kerr Lake Country Club. The prize for a hole in one on the third hole was a 2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT, while a hole in one on the eighth hole yielded a golfer a one-year supply of 12 dozen golf balls.

M.R. Williams came home with the $400 top prize by putting together a score of 55. Henderson-Vance Economic Development took home $200 with a score of 56 while Charles Boyd Chevrolet rounded out the podium with a 57, which netted them $100.

Burgess expressed her gratitude toward everyone who came out to support the Chamber Challenge and interact with other people and businesses during the afternoon, which she believes is crucial in fortifying the strong economic future of Vance County.

“We’re just here to have fun,” Burgess said. “We want to have a good time, but a lot of good networking takes place here, too. I introduced several business people that didn’t know each other beforehand and that’s what the chamber is all about. We want to connect people and help them build a healthy alliance.”

If the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic improves, Burgess wants to see the Chamber Challenge expand to include both a morning and afternoon tournament to accommodate more teams for the 2021 event.

Absentee ballots flood into local boards of elections
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HENDERSON — Less than a month before Election Day, the boards of elections in the Tri-County area are dealing with large numbers of absentee ballots.

Faye Gill, director of the Vance County Board of Elections, said her office had issued 2,976 absentee ballots as of Wednesday. That number dwarfs past interest in absentee voting.

Previously, “the most I ever issued was 350,” Gill said.

So far, the Vance County board has received back “a little over 1,100” absentee ballots in this election cycle.

The Warren County Board of Elections has seen a similar increase in absentee voting. The board mailed out 1,696 absentee ballots and has received back 697, Election Director Debbie Formyduval said.

In the 2016 election, the Warren County board processed 243 absentee ballots.

Granville County’s Board of Elections has issued 5,542 absentee ballots and received 2,016, Election Director Tonya Burnette said. At the same point in the 2016 election cycle, the board had received 89 absentee ballots.

The process of handling absentee ballots has been complicated by a series of court decisions.

The large number of absentee ballots in play statewide prompted the State Board of Elections to issue instructions telling county boards how to simplify the process of addressing deficiencies in absentee ballots. But the issue triggered litigation and resulted in a series of court orders nullifying part of the state board’s instructions.

To comply with the court orders, the state board has issued a series of “numbered nemos” to local boards.

In Numbered Memo 2020-28, issued on Oct. 4, the state board instructed local boards not to take action on defective ballots. “[Return] envelopes with deficiencies shall be kept in a secure location and shall not be considered by the county board until further notice,” it said.

Each of the boards of elections in the Tri-County area has indicated that it is holding defective ballots until receiving further instructions.

Reflecting on the changing instructions, Warren County’s Formyduval said, “It makes our job harder,” and then added, “We’ll keep showing up.”

A further complication arose as a result of what might be considered political interference in the absentee voting process.

WRAL reported that the Trump campaign sent a letter to all Republicans on county election boards, urging them to disregard the state guidelines for correcting defective absentee ballots.

In an apparent response to the letter, the state BOE told county boards, “[G]uidance sent to you or your board members by a political party or other source should not be considered or followed.”

Voters can continue to submit absentee ballots until Election Day, Nov. 3. A ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on November 6

For voters who want to vote in person before Election Day, the early voting period will begin on Thursday, Oct. 15, and end on Saturday, Oct. 31. People can cast their ballots during this period. In addition, those who are not registered to vote may register during the early voting period and immediately vote.