This week on the Down East Journal, re-enactors and historians are gearing up for Saturday’s Bentonville Battlefield artillery living history program.  We’ll tell you what’s in store.  And, a newly commissioned art installation is taking shape in downtown Kinston celebrating eastern North Carolina’s tobacco heritage.  Those stories and more, Friday at noon on all of the Public Radio Stations on the Down East Journal.

Thomas Sayer

Once known for its tobacco history, Kinston is trying to transition into a destination for art and culture.  Today, we hear learn about a new seven-piece installation by famous sculptor Thomas Sayre.

Kinston has undergone a bit of a renaissance in recent years. The area is now home to a thriving art community, a craft brewery, award-winning restaurants, and a rich history. Much of that history goes back to the early 1900’s when tobacco farming here was a way of life. Kinston Community Art Council Executive Director Sandy Landis.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will begin demolishing the old bridges that run along Queen Street as early as July 8. The city of Kinston has long planned to renovate the bridges, and expects the project will be completed by April of 2016.

During the 10 intervening months, that section of Queen Street will be closed. Drivers will have to take a detour along King Street to reach Highway 70 from Skinner’s Bypass. The project has an estimated cost of $11 million.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, we speak with historian and Civil War re-enactor Phillip Brown who is retracing the steps of Confederate Navy Sailor Washington Duke.  Duke was a tobacco farmer when he was joined the Confederate army in 1863 or early 1864, due to a shortage of troops.  He was captured by Union Forces and imprisoned in Richmond, Virginia.  Eventually, he was shipped to New Bern.  When the war ended, Duke was released and he walked 135 miles back to his home in Durham, because he didn’t have money or transportation.

The protests we see today echo a movement that was felt in eastern North Carolina more than 50 years ago.  This week on the Down East Journal, we examine the history of Standard Drug #2 in Kinston, a location recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.  The property’s racially segregated lunch counter was the site of two sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement. 

NC Department of Transportation

We detail the State Transportation Improvement Program which seeks to ease congestion at a local military base and complete the expansion of Highway 17 to a four lane between New Bern and Jacksonville.

Here in eastern North Carolina, we are all looking forward to long-promised road improvements.  Now, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is asking for public feedback on their latest State Transportation Improvement Program released December 4th. Over 1,000 projects are planned affecting every county. Sarah Finch has more.

The SpokesGroup of Eastern NC

The Spokes Group of Eastern North Carolina works closely with the Salvation Army to give disadvantaged boys and girls in the community bikes for Christmas. Since their inception three years ago, the organization has distributed more than 800 bikes and helmets to children in Kinston.  Mikel Peterson talks with  Spokes Group Director of Operations Angela Hill.

Some homes at North Topsail Beach are in trouble. Electricity, water and sewer have been disconnected at 20 structures due to erosion.  This week on the Down East Journal, details on how a project that starts next week could help slow the tide.  And, a free Christmas tour of the antebellum plantation Somerset Place happens Sunday.  We have a preview.  We spotlight eastern North Carolina, Friday at noon on all of the PRE stations.  And Saturday at noon on News and Ideas. 

The City of Kinston is combating gang activity by increasing police presence in the community with the implementation of a new gang unit.  Jared Brumbaugh has more.

On Monday night, City Council members voted to fund  the unit, consisting of four members who will work in areas where gang activity is prevalent.  The decision comes after a successful program during the summer.  Kinston’s Public Safety Director Bill Johnson says during the six week period, officers arrested 129 individuals, served 92 warrants and removed 17 guns off the streets.

Cities and towns across Eastern North Carolina are beginning to view their rivers as a source of recreation and revenue, and Greenville is no exception. Today, Lee Jenkins tells us about the Tar River Legacy Plan.

Conversation with local restaurateur Vivian Howard about her favorite Thanksgiving dishes, tips for less stress in the kitchen, and the TV special “A CHEF’S LIFE in the works for next year’s holiday season.

We hear the latest on the Highway 70 bypass project in Kinston and how it might impact a historic battleground site.

Officials are now in the process of deciding the best way to facilitate construction of a new bypass on Highway 70 in Lenoir County with the least amount of impact to a historic Civil War battleground site.  Lenoir County Commissioner J. Mac Daughtry is also chairman of the Lenoir County Transportation Committee.  He says the highway project is intended to make travel to the coast quicker, and transport of goods across the state easier.

  This week on the Down East Journal, the latest on the Highway 70 bypass project in Kinston and how it might impact a historic battleground site.  Plus, its muscadine grape time in eastern North Carolina.  Learn how you can grow this native fruit in your own backyard during the Garden Journal.   And, new music drawn from the old-time tradition out of Carrboro from the duo Mandolin Orange and their latest CD.  Listen for those stories and more, Friday at noon on all of the PRE stations.  And Saturday at noon on PRE, Public Radio East, News and Ideas.