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New criminal-justice degree program joint effort of Forsyth sheriff's office, Piedmont International University

Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough and officials of Piedmont International University announced on Friday their collaboration in creating the curriculum for the university’s new criminal-justice degree program.

Piedmont International President Charles Petitt said the university, located in Winston-Salem, hopes to enroll 25 to 30 students in the new four-year Bachelor of Arts program this fall.

What’s different about this program, officials said Friday, is that students will be learning with the help of law-enforcement professionals, both in the classroom and in the field.

Petitt said a lot of the learning will be taking place at the sheriff’s office, where the news conference was held in a big conference room.

“We are sitting in a beautiful classroom, and they have a beautiful computer lab,” Petitt said. “Some of this training is going to unfold right here, in these classrooms. It is going to be the institution and law enforcement together.”

Sandeep Gopalan, the executive vice president of Piedmont International, said the new program could do much to heal divisions between minorities and police. The new curriculum will include what the sheriff’s office calls “cutting-edge social issues”: human rights, race relations and immigration. And it will train students how to defuse situations in which they might otherwise have used force.

The curriculum will give students a “broad overview of the criminal-justice system,” the sheriff’s office said, including legislation, law enforcement, courts, corrections, national security and terrorism.

It also will train officers to deal with new technological threats emerging in the digital world.

“We have a huge portion of our population who are digital have-nots: People who do not know how to protect themselves against technology or use technology to their advantage,” Gopalan said.

Kimbrough said he cried when he found out that he could embark on the new program.

“This is an accredited curriculum,” he said. “Every step of the way, they consulted with us. We started narrowing it down to what was relevant and what would equip a 21st-century professional law-enforcement person to go into a diverse world. When we started this curriculum, we wanted it to be relevant and affordable.”

Part of the affordability element was also announced Friday: The university said it would give students enrolling in the program this fall $500 to help offset education expenses.

According to Piedmont’s website, tuition for 2019-20 academic year for a full-time undergraduate student is $5,250, plus assorted other fees.

Petitt said Piedmont International has about 1,000 students and a diverse student population that is 18% African American.

The faith-based university describes itself in its catalog as an independent Baptist institution with no affiliation with any particular group. Although the university requires students to profess agreement with its statement of faith, that’s going to change starting this fall for students in programs like this one, Petitt said.

“They won’t all have to ... believe exactly what the school does, but they will have to understand and respect what we believe and teach, including a biblical worldview that weaves through most of the curriculum,” Petitt said.

Kimbrough talked a lot about faith Friday, expressing his belief that the meeting with Petitt that led to the development of the program was the result of faith: “This was beyond Bobby. This was not flesh and blood. This was beyond me.”

After the announcement, Kimbrough said that what the sheriff’s office will be providing to the program will be “sweat equity,” with officers who have years of law-enforcement experience being mentors and providing instruction and guidance.

Kimbrough brought a who’s who cast of sheriffs from nearby and elsewhere in North Carolina to endorse his move, including some newly elected urban sheriffs who came into office at the same time as Kimbrough in 2018: Danny Rogers of Guilford County and Garry McFadden of Mecklenburg County.

Also endorsing the new program was Sheriff Ricky Oliver of Yadkin County. And Sheriff James Clemmons, the president of the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association, called the program “an awesome opportunity for North Carolina.” Sending long-distance support were Davidson County Sheriff Ritchie Simmons and Kernersville Police Chief Tim Summers.

Also offering support were Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines; Mark Owens, the president of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce; and Forsyth County Manager Dudley Watts, speaking for Commissioner Dave Plyler, the chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

Who made Winston-Salem's Walk of Fame? People who entertained and inspired us.

The breadth of Winston-Salem’s arts and culture heritage was on display Friday during the unveiling ceremony of the new Walk of Fame at the Benton Convention Center.

In the planning stages since 2015, after the “5” Royales became the first group from Winston-Salem to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a star-studded ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio, the new Winston-Salem’s Arts, Culture and Entertainment Memorial Walk of Fame features medallions embedded into the sidewalk at the corner of Fifth and Cherry streets.

Besides the “5” Royales, the inaugural honorees included Larry Leon Hamlin, the founder of the National Black Theatre Festival; arts patron Phil Hanes; and radio evangelist Robert L. Wise Sr.

The unveiling of the medallion for her father was an emotional moment for Marian Wise. Robert Wise was host of a radio ministry on WAAA for 35 years. He died in 2016.

“He was a kind, good man who gave to the community,” she said. “This gives me the opportunity when I have my sad moments to come downtown and stand beside him.”

The Walk of Fame honors deceased Winston-Salem residents who made important contributions in music, dance, theater, writing, visual arts, motion pictures, television or radio. The honoree must have lived in the city for at least five years. Nominations are reviewed by a committee, which makes recommendations to the city council and mayor. The first honorees were chosen in 2016, but the city delayed a ceremony until renovations were finished at Benton Convention Center.

Mayor Allen Joines called the first class a striking representation of the city’s arts scene. Noting the “5” Royales induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Joines said the city realized that it had not done enough to honor the trailblazing group that influenced James Brown, The Temptations and others.

Willard Tanner, whose father, John, and uncle, Eugene, sang in the group, said he regretted that none of the members are alive to see the city’s recognition.

“But I’m glad the families are here to represent them,” he said.

Linda Scales Dark paused for a few seconds to gather her emotions as she reflected on her grandfather, William Scales, who earned a medallion on the Walk of Fame for his pioneering career as one of the earliest black film producers in the country.

“It’s special,” she said.

Until she became the designated family historian, Dark said she wasn’t aware of her grandfather’s career as an entertainment entrepreneur who made sure blacks had places to see theater and movies at a time when venues were segregated.

“It’s just crazy that we didn’t know about all of this,” Dark said.

Here’s a brief look at the honorees:

The “5” Royales were a Winston-Salem group that fused gospel with R&B, laying the foundation for rock ’n’ roll. Group members were Lowman Pauling, John Tanner, Eugene Tanner, James Moore and Obadiah Carter. Otto Jeffries was an early member and, later, manager. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Larry Leon Hamlin was an actor, director, producer and playwright. He formed the N.C. Black Repertory Company, the first professional black theater company in the state. In 1989, he started the biennial National Black Theatre Festival, which brings thousands of theater-goers across the country to Winston-Salem.

Phil Hanes used his influence and wealth to nurture the area’s arts scene, providing critical early support for the N.C. School of the Arts, the Piedmont Opera and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Arts. He also raised money to turn the old Carolina Theater into the Stevens Center.

William Scales was a day laborer at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco who recognized that fellow blacks had few entertainment outlets in the segregated city. He opened three theaters that catered to blacks and brought in black Vaudeville performers. He later produced films for black audiences, and started North State Films, believed to be the first in-state studio owned by a North Carolinian.

John Iuele was a musician and conductor who led the Winston-Salem Symphony from 1952 until 1978. Born in Italy, Iuele was the first trumpet and assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony. In Winston-Salem, he brought classical musicians into elementary classrooms and started a series of pop concerts.

Chris Murrell sang for the Count Basie Orchestra from 1991 until 2004, helping it win a Grammy in 1997 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. He performed with Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett, among others. As a solo singer, Murrell performed around the world, including a stint in London.

Dr. Robert L. Wise Sr., was a staple on WAAA, as host of a radio ministry for 35 years. He was a doctor of divinity and doctor of sacred theology and held a lifetime membership in the NAACP.

John Henry Heath sang gospel for the David Allen and the Ambassadors for Christ Church Choir. A baritone, he sang gospel around the United States and recorded several CDs. He was also a member of the N.C. Black Repertory Company, contributing singing and acting to numerous productions.

Norman Johnson was a musician, conductor and opera director who graduated from the Julliard School. He came to the state in 1968 to serve as head of opera studies at the UNC School of the Arts, a position he would hold until 1996. He was also conductor of the Winston-Salem Symphony Chorale from 1975-1980.

Doris Pardington was one of the founders and the first full-time managing director of the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem. She encouraged children and teenagers to explore theater. A speech and drama instructor at Salem College, she contributed to the city’s reputation as an arts-loving community.

Andrew Dye/Journal 


Murder charges filed against two people in death of 69-year-old Winston-Salem man found bound and gagged in his apartment.

Two people are now facing murder charges in the death of a 69-year-old Winston-Salem man who police found bound and gagged in his apartment in late December.

Lessie Denise Graves, 41, of the 1500 block of Woods Road, and Nathan Carlos Gilmore, 29, of the 1400 block of East 23rd Street, were both charged with felony murder Friday afternoon. Winston-Salem police served Graves and Gilmore with the arrest warrants at the Forsyth County Jail just after 3 p.m. They already were being held at the jail for other charges related to the death of James Herbert McCormick.

Graves also is charged with first-degree kidnapping and common-law robbery. Gilmore is charged with kidnapping.

Winston-Salem police have said Graves and Gilmore knew McCormick but have not said what that relationship entailed.

Police found McCormick, who lived at 3954 Sugar Creek Drive, on Dec. 30, 2018. Officers went to his apartment for a welfare check, police said.

According to an autopsy report, McCormick died from lack of oxygen. Lt. Gregory Dorn of the Winston-Salem Police Department said previously that McCormick was last seen alive on Dec. 23.

Police found McCormick’s body on the floor of a bedroom covered with a sheet, the autopsy report said. An electrical cord bound his wrists behind his back, and his feet were bound with another cord. McCormick had one sock in his mouth, compressing his tongue against the roof of his mouth and blocking his airway, the report said. A second sock around his face helped secure the first one. The sock restricted airflow, causing asphyxia and his death.

The report said McCormick had scattered scrapes and bruises on his arms and legs and possible bruising on the left side of his forehead.

The medical examiner’s office concluded that McCormick’s death was a homicide.

According to the autopsy report, an acquaintance tried calling McCormick several times between Dec. 21 and Dec. 30.

Someone unknown to the acquaintance answered McCormick’s cellphone.

After not being able to reach McCormick, the acquaintance asked for the welfare check.

Dorn said the people who tried to call McCormick were his sister and brother-in-law who live out of town.

According to an arrest warrant, Graves is accused of taking a wallet, keys, a Social Security card and cellphone that had a total value of $500.

Dorn has said police believe Graves and Gilmore went back to McCormick’s apartment at some point after McCormick died.

Graves had been held in the Forsyth County Jail on a $100,000 secured bond. Gilmore had been held on a $150,000 bond.

Now that they have been charged with murder, the two are being held without any bond allowed.

They likely will have their first appearance in Forsyth District Court on Monday, where they will be told about the murder charges and asked whether they want to hire a lawyer, represent themselves or have a court-appointed lawyer.

They will next be in court on Aug. 15.

photos courtesy Forsyth County Jail