Year in Review: More top stories from 2023

Published 3:30 pm Friday, December 29, 2023

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As 2023 says its final goodbyes, we would like to take a moment to review unforgettable stories from the year. From Tragic and unbelievable to heartwarming and happy, 2023 kept everyone in the newsroom on their toes and on the edges of their seats. Here are more memorable stories from the year. 

Governor Cooper celebrates Earth Day at Goose Creek State Park 

In April, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper visited Goose Creek State Park in Beaufort County to honor Earth Day, encourage citizens to get outdoors and enjoy state parks and to discuss how state parks contribute to North Carolina’s economy. According to Reid Wilson, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, all 41 state parks in North Carolina saw a combined 20 million visitors in 2022. Statewide the outdoor recreation industry totals $28 billion per year and employs 260,000 jobs. 

Delayed but not denied: Bishop Jones has high school graduation 47 years later  

Bishop Samuel Jones, Jr., the founder and CEO of Purpose of God Annex Outreach Center in Washington, was surprised by family and friends who held a high school graduation ceremony for him in July. In 1976, on the morning of commencement at Chocowinity High School, Jones was told he was not permitted to walk with the rest of his classmates because of a low C grade in math class. In that same year, Bishop took a summer course and was given his diploma. In September, Bishop Jones and his wife, Mother Regina Jones, were awarded the 2023 Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the difference they’ve made in the Washington community through Purpose of God Annex. 

Mr. Nittoli: Teacher to thousands of Beaufort County students has legacy of humility and helpfulness 

Former students of Rick Nittoli, a retired teacher with Beaufort County Schools, hosted an 80th birthday for him in Washington. His memories of teaching and his student’s memories of being in his class culminated in an article about his career that started in 1974 at the former Bath High School. Nittoli is known for his humility and eagerness to help others. 

City manager clarifies plans for a museum

In July, Washington City Manager, Jonathan Russell and city council members held an informal meeting with members of the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center to discuss plans to place a museum on the second floor of the Peterson building where the senior center exists. Members of the center were concerned they would have to relocate to accommodate the museum. The seniors did not want to relocate. In the end, city council members voted against using the second floor of the Peterson building for a museum. 

U.S. 17 Business opens temporarily, final work needs to be completed 

Since November of 2021, motors have awaited the completion of a replacement bridge on U.S. 17 Business that connects Washington and Chocowinity. Earlier this month, North Carolina Department of Transportation announced all lanes were temporarily open, but final touches need to be completed in the New Year. Lanes were partially open since June of this year. 

Group tells commissioners it’s not okay to pray after meetings begin 

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sent a request to the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners in January asking that they change when a prayer is given at their meetings. Prior to this year, Commissioners would begin a regular meeting then a prayer was delivered by Commissioner Jerry Langley who is a minister. Americans United claimed the board was in violation of the Establishment Clause within the First Amendment. County commissioners later voted to have a rotating list of local church leaders pray before regular meetings begin. 

World record black bear taken at Chocowinity farm 

Stuart Dudley reports the kill of a new world record black bear (bow and arrow) from his farm in Chocowinity. The bear, killed by Dudley’s friend Brad Jones, was recorded at an official weight of 780 pounds.  The previous bow-and-arrow world record, killed in New Jersey in 2019, was 700 pounds.