Column – A new millennium

Published 5:16 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023

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The new millennium brought big changes to the City of Suffolk and the country as a whole. Drugs, terror and war were the stories, but mixed in were tales of local heroism, tottering taters and new schools.

“Taters totter off truck” that was the June headline that sent eyes rolling. “Nearly every eye on Turlington Road was rolling late Tuesday afternoon. And the rest of them were chasing after the hundreds of spuds scattered and splattered all over the artery that connects U S. Route 58 and Carolina Road. Police received a call around 6:20 p.m. alerting them that a top-heavy trailer traveling down Turlington Road had lost part of its load, dispatchers said. The truck apparently did not stop, leaving a smorgasbord of potatoes being served in its wake: mashed, sliced, diced, chunked and, of course, traditional tire-tread taters.” 

In the middle of July 2000, the Suffolk News-Herald was sold. Boone Newspapers Inc. (now Boone Newsmedia) finalized its purchase of the News-Herald and four other local Media General newspapers. The purchase brought a familiar name back to Suffolk. James B. Boone Jr., who owned Boone Newspapers with his five children, was publisher of the News-Herald from 1961 to 1968. He bought the News-Herald, he said, because of the “opportunity to serve a growing and vital community that has importance to my family, and me.” His old office sat only a few feet away from the newsroom. He has fond memories of Suffolk, he said in an email, among them “what I learned, about newspaper editing and publishing, and civic opportunity, the friends I made. Suffolk is a community I could have spent my whole life in, and been happy. But circumstances and family obligations took me elsewhere. I made many friends during my seven years there, (and) look forward to renewing those friendships.” 

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The school year started in September 2001 with students excited to attend a new school. Classrooms at the new King’s Fork Middle School were big, bright and airy. “This is a school paradise,” said Azalea Joyner, 12, looking around the window-filled library. The seventh-grader was one of more than 900 students who starred in the debut of the school. It was the city’s first new middle school building ever to be constructed; previous middle schools had always been opened in older high school structures. 

On Sept. 11, 2001, the world watched in horror as the United States was attacked. The front page the day after covered the devastation, the increased security and the community unity that would be seen nationwide for months to follow. What follows are snippets of the front page stories of the News-Herald on Sept. 12. 

“In the most devastating terrorist onslaught ever waged against the United States, hijackers crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center on Tuesday, toppling its twin 110-story towers. The deadly calamity was witnessed on televisions across the world as another plane slammed into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed outside Pittsburgh. Said Adm. Robert J. Natter, commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet: ‘We have been attacked like we haven’t since Pearl Harbor.’”

“Rev. T. Floyd Irby Jr., pastor of West End Baptist, said his church will be open for prayer until dark. Rev. Stewart McCarter of Southside Baptist said, ‘We will be having a prayer service at 7 p.m. Wednesday and the church will be open during the day for prayer. ‘Of course it’s a tragedy of a magnitude that hasn’t been seen since World War II,’ he said. ‘So maybe we understand the capacity of evil in the world. But people of good will need to be working to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and working toward peace.’” 

“Although the city increased security after Tuesday’s terrorist attacks, it did not implement emergency measures as strong as some neighboring Hampton Roads cities. ‘The biggest thing we are doing now is increasing security at some key facilities in the city,’ said Capt. Jim Judkins, spokesman for the Suffolk Fire Department and the city’s emergency services coordinator.”

Jen Jaqua is the creative director for the Suffolk News-Herald. She can be contacted at