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Stricter Standards Paying Off With Improved Student Behavior
BY SUSAN USHER
It's been said that "an ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure." and West Brunswick High School
Principal Ed Lemon would agree.
A strong, cooperative effort countywide to reduce
student misconduct and violence on campus is paying
off with improved student behavior at West Brunswick
High School this fall.
Lemon is attributing the better learning environment
to a combination of clearer student conduct and disci
pline policies; higher expectations for behavior; stricter,
more uniform enforcement; and an improved working
relationship with campus Deputy Shelton Caison.
"The implementation of our program's a lot better
this year." said Lemon, "and he's had a lot to do with
While carpentry teacher Gary Poulos monitors the
bus parking lot from 7 a.m. until the start of classes.
Caison's day on campus begins at 7:45 a.m., when he
begins patrolling the student parking lot and helping
with traffic control. He generally works 8 hours a day,
plus ball games, but his schedule can vary according to
school needs for security and traffic control.
"They're so used to him they don't even speak about
him any more," said Lemon. "I think there is probably a
level of comfort there for everybody here. You have that
help in case there is an incident.
"We haven't had anything on campus so far and we
want it to stay that way."
Frequently Caison can be spotted at a favorite posi
tion on the walk near the front corner of the campus
courtyard, where he can keep his eye on traffic moving
onto and away from campus.
Considered a member of the staff, he enforces
school rules as well as state laws. During the course of
the day he patrols not only exits and parking areas, but
areas at the rear of buildings and hallways.
Once students arrive on campus, they aren't to sit in
their vehicles in the parking lot and they are not to leave
campus again before dismissal without permission.
On a recent morning, the first bell had just rung as
Caison strode across the student lot to discuss a parking
situation with a student. Another student stood by, wait
ing his turn to ask the uniformed officer a question.
"This year is going a lot better," said Caison. "The
new policies and programs they've put in effect are real
ly making my job a lot easier."
So far West Brunswick hasn't had any incidences of
campus violence this year or weapons on campus and
Lemon said he would like to keep it that way.
"If people do something before they have problems
STAFF PHOTO BY SUSAN USHER
DEPUTY SHELTON CA1SON (left) talks with students in the school parking lot before the start of
classes. The campus safety officer says new policies and procedures at the school for handling student
discipline are making his job easier this year.
then they are likely not to have problems," he said, and
the school's emphasis this year is on prevention.
Local schools got support from both the state legis
lature and Brunswick County Board of Education this
year in dealing with student discipline, particularly relat
ing to policies that deal with weapons on campus.
Lemon still has concerns that the message may not
be getting through.
"I don't think the students necessarily see the seri
ousness of the (weapons) law, especially as it relates to
facsimiles. Fourteen-year-olds are not that far away
from playing with toys."
Under a student code of conduct, a long list of items
of firearms, knives and other weapons are banned, along
with any "look-alikes," toy or not.
A state law that goes into effect Dec. 1 makes pos
session of certain weapons on campus a Class I felony
rather than a misdemeanor. The law applies to open pos
session or concealing of a gun. rifle, pistol or other
firearm or dynamite, cartridge, bomb, grenade, mine or
powerful explosive on school property.
Also new ? it's a Class I felony for someone to
"cause, encourage or aid a minor who is less than 18
years old to possess or carry, whether open or con
cealed" any of the above-mentioned weapons on school
Possessing other weapons and/or encouraging a mi
nor to carry any other weapon remains a misdemeanor.
In addition to any potential criminal penalties, the
school's own sanctions for violating the code of conduct
can range from short-term (up to 10 days) to long-term
(up to the remainder of the school year) suspension, de
tention, referral to community treatment programs or al
ternative disciplinary program depending upon the
severity of the offense and any mitigating factors.
The school is required to seek prosecution under the
law of any student sanctioned by long-term suspension
for violation of the weapons and facsimiles ban.
"The law takes the decision regarding the filing of
charges off of the school," said Lemon, "even at ball
The school has the option of seeking prosecution of
a parent if the principal has reason to believe that person
encouraged, aided or acted in such a way as to allow the
child to commit the violation. Others can also be prose
cuted for aiding or encouraging a student in violating the
The school has the right to expel a student age 14 or
older who has been convicted of a felony and whose
"continued presence in school constitutes a clear threat
to the safety and health of other students or employees."
Someone not attending school who brings an un
loaded weapon on school property, doesn't conceal the
weapon and doesn't display it in a threatening manner ?
such as parent coming on campus with a gun in the rack
of a pickup truck ? can only be charged with a misde
meanor, not a felony.
This year Lemon is seeing less pressure from parents
on faculty and administration to make exceptions.
Students, and parents of incoming ninth graders, were
briefed on the new guidelines at the start of the year and
both have a clearer understanding of what's expected.
Furthermore, faculty decisions regarding student disci
pline can no be overruled by the school's administration.
The school's "Choices" program, now in its second
year of holding students accountable for their behavior
when they are tardy or otherwise disrupt school, is
working in ways both expected and unexpected.
"They don't loiter," said Lemon. "Before if we had a
fist fight everybody used to stand around and watch.
Now they move on; they can't afford to stay and watch,
or egg somebody on. They don't want to go to Choices."
Other changes are contributing to the overall change
in school climate.
The school day now includes three lunchts instead
of two, cutting the number of students milling about on
break from 500 to approximately 330.
Other new guidelines require students to make up all
work and all absences beyond four days by the end of
each nine-weeks grading period, or suffer the conse
quences. Students who don't make up absences as re
quired will see their grades in all affected classes low
ered substantially, with more points deducted for every
additional absence not made up.
"I think the kids are seeing a strictness at the high
school they never thought it would have," said Lemon.
Program Offers Low-Cost Test
For Lead In Drinking Water
Have all those news reports about
the health risks caused by high lead
levels in drinking water caused you
to wonder about what's coming out
of your tap?
You can find out Wednesday,
Nov. 3, when the Brunswick County
office of the N.C. Cooperative
Extension Service conducts a lead
sampling program to determine the
levels of lead in drinking water sup
Samples will be analyzed at the
extension center in Bolivia from 8
a.m. until 7 p.m.
Residents interested in having a
sample tested should draw a quart of
water from their kitchen taps first
thing in the morning. Samples also
can be taken later in the day after a
period of non-use.
"The aim is to collect water
which has been standing in the pipes
for several hours," said extension
service Director Milton Coleman.
Each sample analyzed will cost
$5. This compares to a normal com
mercial testing fee of $25 to $75 per
sample, Coleman said.
Participants also will be asked to
complete a drinking water survey
aimed at collecting information on
the source of water, type of well,
deputy of well, construction stan
dards and plumbing system.
The sampling program is being
conducted in cooperation with the
department of toxicology and the
department of biological and agri
cultural engineering at N.C. State
University. The program is being
funded in part by a grant to study the
extent of lead in North Carolina's
rural water supplies.
For more information about the
program, call the Brunswick County
Extension Center at 253-4425.
CP&L Plans Annual Siren Test
Brunswick County residents in
the 10-mile area around Carolina
Power & Light's Brunswick plant
will hear alert notification sirens on
Wednesday, Nov. 3, when the sirens
will sound twice for about three
minutes each time between 3:30 and
"Residents should not be alarmed
by the sirens," a company news re
lease says. "Full volume siren tests
are conducted annually to ensure
each siren is functioning properly."
The Emergency Broadcast Sys
tem (EBS) will not activate during
this full-volume siren test. I>ocal ra
dio and television stations will not
Holden Beach Voters
interrupt their regular programs for
"The sounding of the sirens does
not mean the public should evacu
ate," the release states. If an emer
gency occurred at the plant, the
sirens would alert the public to listen
to radio and television for informa
tion and instructions from the BBS
during a declared emergency.
The rotating sirens are mounted
on tall poles at 34 locations within
10 miles of the Brunswick plant.
The Nov. 3 test will be the annual
full-volume test of the sirens. Low
volume or "growl" tests are con
ducted every three months to regu
larly ensure the sirens are working.
CP&L conducts silent testing every
Questions about the tests may be
directed to county emergency ser
vices offices, to CP&L's Brunswick
Visitors Center or any CP&L busi
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Varnam Remembered As Pleasant Hard Worker
BY DOUG RUTTER
Anson Roland Varnam, who was rarely seen
without a smile lighting up his face, was a pleas
ant, hard-working and faithful man who would
go out of his way to help others.
That's how friends and co-workers say
they'll remember the Brunswick County native
and Shallotte town employee who was killed last
Friday in a single-vehicle accident in Johnston
One of the last active charter members of the
Tri-Beach Volunteer Fire Department, the 66
year-old Supply man died at 10 a.m. Friday ap
proximately 10 1/2 miles north of Selma.
Trooper Deryl Bass of the N.C. Highway
Patrol said Varnam was driving a Chevrolet
truck south on N.C. 96 when the truck ran off
the left side of the road, crossed a shallow ditch,
collided with a tree and burst into flames.
"I suspect that the driver had either fallen
asleep or had suffered a heart attack," said
Trooper Bass, adding that the body was sent to
Chapel Hill for an autopsy.
Shallotte Town Clerk Mary Etta Hewett said
Varnam had driven to Electric Motor Repair
Shop in Wake Forest on Friday tc pick up a load
of pumps for the town. He was on his way back
to Brunswick County at the time of accident.
" What stood out most
about him was any
time we needed
something done he
was there to do it. "
? Curtis Todd, Tri-Beach VFD
"He was an excellent worker and a most
gentle man," Mayor Sarah Tripp said of Varnam,
who had worked in the town's maintenance de
partment since 1985. "The town is going to sore
ly miss him."
Tripp said Varnam was a devoted employee.
"He could have taken his retirement a year ago
but he told us right off he did not want to retire.
He took pride in his work. It's really a loss to the
Varnam was one of three charter members of
the Tri-Beach VFD who was still active in the
department, said assistant fire chief Curtis Todd.
"What stood out most about him was any
time we needed something done he was there to
do it," Todd said. "Any time I called on him he
was there to help me."
Varnam, who most recently served as safety
officer for Tn-Beach, had previously served five
years as a lieutenant and eight years on the board
of directors. He recently received a plaque for 25
years of service.
"He was very active," Todd said. "We met
on every Tuesday night, and every Tuesday
night he was there."
Todd said Varnam was certified as a
Firefighter 3. "He really worked at it. He didn't
just come out and sit around. He didn't have
much education, but he got to the level where
most people wouldn't dream of getting."
Varnam was a "father figure" to a lot of the
younger men in the department. "If you would
go to him about something he would kind of set
you straight," Todd said.
Varnam was born in Brunswick County on
Jan. 5, 1927, a son of the late William Henry and
Minnie Hewett Varnam.
His funeral was Monday at Dixon Chapel
United Methodist Church in Varnamtown. Var
nam is survived by his wife, Pauline Griffin Var
nam. He had eight grandchildren and 12 great
Holden Beach Man Accused Of Fencing Property Juveniles Stole
A 40-year-old Holden Beach man
is accused of acting as the fence for
two juveniles who allegedly stole
more than $20,000 worth of proper
ty in "at least 30" Sunset Harbor
break-ins, a Brunswick County sher
iff's detective said Tuesday.
The adult suspect, Timothy Earl
Street, was arrested Monday and
charged with four counts each of re
ceiving stolen property and con
tributing to the delinquency of a mi
nor and one charge of manufactur
ing marijuana, according to De
tective Charlie Miller.
Two Sunset Harbor boys, ages 13
and 15, will be served with juvenile
petitions next week on charges of
breaking and entering and larceny,
Miller said. More charges are ex
pected against all three suspects.
Investigators Miller and Detective
Gene Caison feel the two youths are
responsible for breaking into about
30 mobile homes, storage buildings
and boats in Sunset Harbor and
stealing "between $20,000 and
$30,000" worth of property during
the past seven months.
Miller said that after each theft,
the boys would put the stolen items
in a building owned by Street, who
allegedly sold the stolen property at
flea markets in Rockingham and
Gastonia and paid his young accom
plices with the proceeds.
The pair allegedly stole televi
sions, videocassette recorders, two
golf carts and a large volume of fish
"They concentrated on things that
didn't have serial numbers," Miller
said. "Especially fishing rods and
reels, tackle boxes, gill nets, life pre
servers, marine radios ? anything to
do with fishing. None of that stuff
Although most of the stolen prop
erty "is already gone," Miller said
some items, including one of the
golf carts, have been recovered.
Street was being held in Bruns
wick County Jail Tuesday in lieu of
a $60,000 secured bond. The two ju
venile suspects have been brought in
for questioning and are aware of the
charges pending against them,
In what Miller termed "a long,
drawn-out process," the detectives
will present their evidence to a juve
nile services officer next week,
seeking juvenile petitions against the
two suspects. The boys will be
brought before the juvenile officer,
who will decide whether or not to
detain them until a trial is held in ju
State law prohibits law enforce
ment officers from releasing the
names of juvenile suspects.
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