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ELIZABETHTOWN, NC (WWAY) — Interim Bladen County Sheriff Earl Storms is under fire for letting several deputies go moments after he took office yesterday. Since talking with WWAY last night, Storms keeps changing his story.

Today, Storms says he asked the deputies to reapply for their positions and the deputies chose not to. But last night, he told us he needed more time to evaluate them before swearing them in.

This all stems from a swearing-in ceremony in yesterday. Storms was sworn in, as were some of the county’s deputies. Five of the office’s 10 deputies were not sworn in. One of them was Chief Deputy Phillip Little, who interim Sheriff Storms says retired. As for the other four, former Sheriff candidate Eric Bryan, Scott Pait, Steve Lesane and Debra Nelson, Storms gave one explanation about why they were not sworn in, but today it was a different story.

“It’s the Sheriff’s prerogative and state law to swear in deputies that he so desires,” Storms told WWAY last night. “And a lot of the men, I haven’t had a chance to go over their record. That will come down the line.”

Today, though, Storms said, “I haven’t fired anybody. They were all offered applications. They declined not to fill them out. I didn’t hire them. You can’t fire them if you didn’t hire them.”

Nelson emailed us this morning saying, “Your news release is a LIE. Earl Storms never talked to me this morning or my supervisor Scott Pait. Herman Dunn, Prentis Benston’s campaign manager/treasurer, came to us and told us we were not being sworn back in. Storms never talked to us.”

Storms admits he never talked to the five deputies before they found out at the last minute that they would not be sworn in.

County Commissioner Billy Ray Pait says the decision reeks of politics. He says commissioners will hold a special meeting Friday to see if they can legally terminiate Storms.

We were shown a letter today posted inside the Sheriff’s Department that tells dispatchers not to contact Sheriff Storms directly at any time. Instead they should contact Capt. Prentis Benston, the Democratic nominee for Sheriff in November, first or Dunn. If you connect the political dots, Storms threw his support behind Benston early in the race. Dunn is Benston’s campaign manager/treasurer.

Lesane, Pait and Nelson all supported Bryan’s campaign for sheriff, according to Bryan’s campaign website.

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65 Comments on "FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: Interim Bladen County Sheriff can’t seem to get his story straight; Commissioners may try to terminate him"

2015 years 10 months ago

I absolutely agree, there is an absolute show of bias from the way this has been reported by WWAY 3, Which one of you guys are getting kick backs for reporting the way that you have been, definitely not professional. Well I had never watched your news before the “Big Bad Mean interim Bladen County Sheriff” was posted by a friend on facebook. You guys are adding fuel to the fire with your biased reporting, for this you should be ashamed. You guys really don’t have a clue and it shows, lol.

2015 years 10 months ago


2015 years 10 months ago

The author of the orginial threat presented her thoughts in a bit of a less than tactful manner. I, too, am African American and consider your comment to be offensive and less than tolerable. To assume that an individual voted for Prentis Benston also voted in favor of “OUR” president, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, is a bit racist. You may not have cast your vote in favor of him, but please be mindful that he has rule over you!

I have audio and written communication skills that surpass the original threat’s author; yet I unhesitantly side with the individual in the respect that the Sheriff’s Election is turning into a racial circus to say the least. It is my belief the term “yall” in one of the previous posting was referring to supporters of Eric Bryan and/or Billy Ward.

Why is no one outraged that Nikki Dennis holds a position that compensates her more than $80,000/year while her highest education credential is a high school diploma? Why is no one outraged that there is a series of murders in our county have been deemed “unsolved mysteries”?

For years, race has divided the citizens of Bladen County and this election has allowed harbored feelings to come forward. Many people are angered because the “good ole boy” dynasty in beginning to crumble.

An individual has the right to express their opinion reguardless of their intellectual ability. My educational credentials include a Bachelor, Master and Doctorate Degrees; each in education. Obtaining such credentials doesn’t make me superior to anyone nor should the color of a person’s skin. It sickens me that when a African-American votes for or sides with another African-American people make the assumption the decision was based on race. Yet when we look at the staggering number of African Americans in leadership positions in Bladen County we are content. Neither an African-American nor Hispanic-American has served in the following capacities in our county: (1) Sheriff; (2) Superintendent ; (3) Presidnet of Bladen Community College; and(4) Mayor of Elizabethtown. Even Stevie Wonder is coherent enough to see this is a major issue.

A change is overdue in Bladen County! The candidate that I favor is Prentis Benston not because he is African-American but because I have deemed him to be a man of high caliber and moral fiber; in addition to the fact that I am allowed to vote for any candidate that I please. Best of luck to you Billy Ward supporters because the supporters of Prentis Benston will work harder than ever to ensure the right candidate is named Sheriff.

Sorry for the usage of proper English; however, I wanted to amplify the message that there are those of us out there that are highly articulate.

2015 years 10 months ago

” am also conclusive when I right my sentences and voting is my right –you heard of the Magna Carter?? ”

When I write my sentences……..no right. And it is the Magna Carta, which stems from England…..

2015 years 10 months ago

I commented before on how you could tell someone’s race by the way they write and spell and this is a classic example. Do not vote for Mr. Benston or Mr. Ward due to their skin color. You arleady see what kind of turmoil Mr. Benston causes and he is not even been elected yet. Mr. Ward is highly educated and motivated when it comes to Law Enforcement from the street to the classroom. Ask Mr. Benston about his experiences and education and years of service. The past is the past. Vote with current issues and topics in the forefront and the future of Bladen County being at stake. Mr. Benston is committing poitical suicide and if people like “Do ya thang” keep blogging, it will increase Mr. Ward’s chances even greater. Do not show your ignorance; let someone else type out what you want to say. Mr. Ward is sitting back with an ear to ear grin just watching the Benston campaign slowly self-destruct. Vote for Mr. Ward for a better Bladen County without all these political ties, money, and influences.


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