07NewsDigestThe Cumberland County Veterans Court is seeking veterans to serve as mentors for individuals going through the program. Mentors are integral to the success of the program for veterans who are alleged to have committed misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. “They tend to open up and relate to other veterans,” said Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney Baxter Worth Paschal III.

Paschal said many of the veterans in the program have suffered from addiction. Program participants take part in counseling, drug testing and community service. Topics such as mental health, substance abuse, housing, employment, education and health care are discussed in community meetings. Veterans who complete the yearlong program may have criminal charges expunged from their records. The first veterans court was created in New York in 2008. Cumberland County’s program began in November 2014 under the tutelage of District Court Judge Lou Olivera. Information is available by phone from the district attorney’s office at (910) 475-3010. 

PWC to the Rescue

When the power went out on the Outer Banks this summer, it was no easy task getting the electricity back on. Power was lost July 27 when a contractor working on the Bonner Bridge accidentally severed the only transmission line providing electricity to Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.

The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative and the Tideland Electric Membership Corp. serve about 9,000 customers in the Outer Banks. The co-ops had been working on two fronts: attempting to splice the severed below-ground transmission line while also building an overhead line to see which one could be completed first. “We abandoned the underground fix at this point,” said Laura Ertle, the co-ops’ representative. “Water continued to seep into the trench, making the environment unsuitable for repairs.”

When they turned attention to the overhead transmission line, they needed 8,000 feet of electrical conductor. “A call went out to public power utilities with transmission lines, and PWC was able to provide the material they needed to build the line,” said Fayetteville Public Works Commission Spokeswoman Carolyn Justice Hinson. The utility contractor building the transmission line picked the cable up in Fayetteville and worked around the clock to get the power restored Aug. 3. “PWC is proud that we could help our neighbors,” Hinson added.

Cumberland County Bureaucracy Continues to Grow

Cumberland County government’s senior management team now consists of five executives. County Manager Amy Cannon hired Duane Holder as her fourth assistant manager. He’ll be in charge of community support services. Holder has been the Deputy County Manager and chief financial officer for Pitt County since 2012. His first day here is Sept. 11.

Holder earned a Master of Public Administration degree from East Carolina University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from Mount Olive College.

“Duane Holder brings vast experience in county administration, finance and human services, especially the area of mental health, and we are delighted that he will be joining the Cumberland County leadership team,” Cannon said.

Several weeks ago, Cannon promoted county information officer Sally Shutt to assistant manager for strategic management and governmental affairs. The other assistant managers are Melissa Cardinali and Tracey Jackson.

Hay Street Sidewalk Finally Opened

A couple years ago, the City of Fayetteville closed the Hay Street sidewalk in front of the former Prince Charles Hotel. The building was and is in disrepair, and chunks of the facade of the eight-story building were falling to the street. Rather than fixing the problem, the City simply closed the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into  the street.

Now that efforts are underway by the Durhambased PCH Holdings to renovate the old hotel, the firm decided the first thing it should do is reopen the sidewalk. Project Manager Jordan Jones confirmed that the company fenced off the walkway to protect pedestrians from construction as it gets underway. The firm created a two-sided fenced-in sidewalk with a cover. It will remain in place until building renovations are completed.

Cumberland Alerts Activated

The Cumberland County Emergency Services Department has launched “Cumberland Alerts,” a countywide emergency notification system. Residents are urged to sign up for the alert system. Businesses, organizations and institutions are also encouraged to subscribe.

Visit www.co.cumberland.nc.us/alerts to create an account. Users can then select the communication methods they prefer, such as email, text or phone call and enter their addresses. Several addresses may be entered. The information provided is protected and will not be used for any other purpose.

Cumberland Alerts replaces the existing emergency notification system. “Signing up for Cumberland Alerts is the first step in preparing for emergency situations ... so (residents) can be in the know when an emergency happens,” said Emergency Services Director Randy Beeman.

The new system can deliver more than 2.1 million messages per hour, or 35,000 per minute, which allows Emergency Services to ensure communication with residents when it’s most important.

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