JOHNSTON County, NC
Johnston County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 168,878. Its county seat is Smithfield.
Johnston County is included in the Raleigh, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Combined Statistical Area, which has a population of 1,998,808 as of U.S. Census 2012 Population Estimates.
The county was formed in 1746 from Craven County. It was named for Gabriel Johnston, Governor of North Carolina from 1734 to 1752. In 1752 parts of Johnston County, Bladen County, and Granville County were combined to form Orange County. In 1758 the eastern part of Johnston County became Dobbs County. In 1770 parts of Johnston County, Cumberland County, and Orange County were combined to form Wake County. Finally, in 1855 parts of Johnston County, Edgecombe County, Nash County, and Wayne County were combined to form Wilson County.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which is land and (0.5%) is water.
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 215,999 people, 73,567 households, and 53,743 families residing in the county.
As of the census of 2000, there were 121,965 people, 46,595 households, and 33,688 families residing in the county. The population density was 154 people per square mile (59/km2). There were 50,196 housing units at an average density of 63 per square mile (24/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 78.09% White, 15.65% Black or African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.53% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. 7.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 46,595 households, out of which 35.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.80% were married couples living together, 10.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.70% were non-families. 23.10% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 26.10% under the age of 18, 8.10% from 18 to 24, 34.20% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 9.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 98.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $40,872, and the median income for a family was $48,599. Males had a median income of $33,008 versus $25,582 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,788. About 8.90% of families and 12.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.00% of those under age 18 and 19.40% of those age 65 or over.
The county is governed by the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, a seven-member board of County Commissioners, elected to serve four-year terms. The commissioners enact policies such as establishment of the property tax rate, regulation of land use and zoning outside municipal jurisdictions, and adoption of the annual budget. Commissioners generally meet each month.
Current (2019) members of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners are:
Rick Hester is the County Manager.
Johnston County is a member of the regional Triangle J Council of Governments. Johnston County 911 is the first 911 Agency in North Carolina to hold "Tri Accreditation" from the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch in Fire, Police, and EMD Protocols.
For most of the time after the Civil War, Johnston County was a classic Solid South county, going Democratic in all but three elections from 1880 to 1964. However, from 1968 onward it has turned increasingly Republican, with the only breaks in this tradition being its support for third-party candidate George Wallace in 1968 and for Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976. Carter's unsuccessful bid for reelection in 1980 is the last time that a Democrat has managed even 40 percent of the county's vote.
Johnston County is home to Johnston Community College (JCC), a public, two-year, post-secondary college located in Smithfield. The college has off-campus centers throughout Johnston County.
Primary and secondary education
Public education in Johnston County is served by the Johnston County School District, which has 46 schools and serves more than 35,400 students. In addition, one charter schools and five private schools are located in the county. In 2021, the county school board banned the teaching of critical race theory.
The Johnston County Public Affiliated Library system operates six branches throughout the county. The library system keeps books, periodicals and audio books and has recently expanded the selection to include downloadable e-books. The Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library in Clayton left the Johnston County affiliated library system in 2015.
Visitor attractions in Johnston County include several heritage museums and historic sites. The Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site is located in eastern Johnston County near Four Oaks, and it is the largest Civil War battlefield in North Carolina. The Battle of Bentonville was fought March 19–21, 1865, and was the only Confederate offensive targeted to stop General Sherman's march through the South.
The Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Kenly has been collecting artifacts and showcasing the heritage of the Eastern North Carolina farmer for over 35 years. The site includes a museum and restored farmstead, blacksmith shop, one-room school house and the site hosts several events each year.
The Ava Gardner Museum, located in Smithfield, is home to a collection of artifacts such as scripts, movie posters, costumes and personal belongings of screen legend Ava Gardner, who was born and raised in Johnston County. The Ava Gardner Museum hosts visitors from around the world and holds an annual festival with new exhibits and special events.
The Johnston County Heritage Center is in downtown Smithfield, and houses artifacts from all over the county. The Heritage Center has become known as one of the best equipped facilities in the country for studying local history and genealogy. Special exhibits on the heritage of the county are rotated in the lobby on the first floor at least once a year.
The Johnston County Arts Council promotes arts in the county and its schools. Smithfield is home to an annual Ava Gardner Festival, which celebrates the life of the actress. Rapper Petey Pablo mentions Johnston County in his hit song Raise Up.
The Meadow community is home to Meadow Lights, an annual display of Christmas lights, and many other community events for the county are found on the Visit Johnston County calendar of events.
Radio and Television
Johnston County is located in the Raleigh-Durham radio market, ranked by Nielsen as the 37th largest in the United States. Johnston County's first radio station, WMPM, 1270 AM, in Smithfield, signed on in 1950. The county is also home to WPYB, 1130 AM in Benson, WHPY, 1590 AM in Clayton, WTSB, 1090 AM in Selma, and WKJO, 102.3 FM in Smithfield.
The county is also part of the larger, 23-county Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville Media marketDesignated Market Area—the nation's 24th-largest. WNGT-CD, (virtual channel 34.1) a Class A low-powered TV station licensed to both Smithfield and Selma. The station began frequency sharing with Raleigh's WRAL-TV in November 2020, greatly expanding its coverage. Goldsboro-licensed CBS affiliate WNCN, virtual channel 17/RF channel 8, originally known as WYED-TV, signed on from studios and a transmitter in Clayton in 1988 before moving to Raleigh studios in 1995.
This page uses material from the Wikipedia article Johnston County, NC, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 4.0.