• BLBC NYEBright Light Brewing Company will be saying farewell to 2021 with a retro 1970s inspired New Year's Eve party.

    Tickets for the '70s New Year's Eve event are limited; only 75 are available, and they are going fast. The cost is $45 for individual tickets and $80 for couples.

    The ticket includes a commemorative glass, a full catered meal, the first drink, a champagne toast and the chance to dance under the disco ball.

    Because of COVID-19, BLBC did not have a New Years' Eve party last year. BLBC welcomed 2020 in with a roaring '20s theme.

    Trisha Grieve, a bartender who attended the party, said, "There were tons of fancy outfits, poker games, shining jewelry – everyone went all out. Like this year, the Belmont catered the food."

    This year the dress code is cocktail attire but with a retro '70's twist. Guests can break out bell-bottoms, go-go boots, halter tops and mini dresses, and a DJ will be providing funky music all night.

    Grieve has worked at BLBC for just under four and a half years. She describes the brewery as a relaxed environment and a good local spot to visit, even if you're just passing through.

    Grieve explained that it is family-friendly, and the people who come here often will just become your family.

    She was most excited about having a DJ for the event.

    "I am looking forward to the DJ We had one on Halloween, and people just danced for hours. I love the live music, but it's nice to switch it up," Grieve said

    The music isn't the only thing she is looking forward to, "I am also looking forward to the disco ball because who doesn't love a good disco ball?"

    The Belmont House is catering the event and will offer a menu of chicken, green beans, black-eyed peas and mashed potatoes, and a vegetarian option and a small dessert.

    BLBC will have 15 beers on offer and guest ciders and wine, along with a complimentary champagne toast.

    "It's also great to see individuals buy tickets who have come to our previous New Years' parties buy tickets, something special about making friends and continuing a fun tradition; it's also wonderful to have newcomers just looking for something to enjoy," Grieve said.

    BLBC is a startup nano-brewery in downtown Fayetteville in craft beer and wine.

    Located at 444 West Russell St., Suite 102, BLBC remodeled a gym turning it into a taproom in November of 2016.

    They opened the doors to the brewery on April 21, 2017.

    The company had grown so much by 2019 they decided to open a brewhouse two blocks away. They began brewing on a three-barrel, and now they are at a ten-barrel.

    BLBC hosts private parties, mug club member events, Hail and Farewells at their brewhouse. The party will take place on December 31 at 7 p.m., and folks can boogie on down all night until 1 a.m.

  • Family of YearThe Fort Bragg Family of the Year is a unique title given to just one family every year who exemplifies the spirit of military families.

    This year, the Fort Bragg Army Community Service chose the Vona family to represent Fort Bragg families.

    Capt. Sam Vona, his wife Kristen, and their two daughters, Presley and Kathryn, have been through a lot in 2021. Vona, part of the 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was alerted that he would deploy to Iraq on New Year's Eve. Vona had two hours to get his things ready to go, say goodbye to his family and then head out.

    Then in August, Vona was called again to deploy last-minute to Afghanistan to help with the withdrawal of troops. Despite it being stressful for his family, Capt. Vona said that he was glad to have gone.

    "I'm glad I was a part of it," Capt. Vona said. "With the unit that I have, and the unit that I'm with, I'm happy to be part of history."

    The Vonas have been married for seven years and met while both were serving in the Army. Since they married, they have been stationed together in Germany and Capt. Vona has deployed several times. When their daughter, Kathryn, was born last year, Kristen Vona became a stay-at-home mom.

    Vona Homecoming 56"Overall, it's been a wonderful experience. Things are difficult sometimes for sure, especially on the family," Kristen Vona said. "But I really enjoy being home now with the girls to kind of give them some stability. So, we are enjoying the dynamic that we have now."

    For the past two years, Vona herself has been part of her husband's battalion through her role as the Family Readiness Group (FRG) leader.

    The battalion commander typically selects a family for nomination for Family of the Year; then, the family needs the brigade commander's endorsement. The family nominated then must fill out a packet and interview with senior leaders at Fort Bragg.

    One of the questions the Vona Family was asked was to pick a word that describes their family.

    Their word was "teamwork."

    "One thing I think that we do really well in our marriage is work together for like everything. So, Sam is very involved with our family, and I'm very involved in his unit and what he has going on. I would like to say that we're very interchangeable at home, and I'm really thankful for that," Kristen Vona said. "I just think we work really, really well together. And people have commented on that like friends and like within the military community, people have commented on how much we're on the same page and really work together well."

    Fort Bragg announced the Family of the Year at the annual Tree Lighting on the installation, Dec. 3. Capt. Vona said that he expected to be in the top five families, but not the family of the year.

    "They announced the top five guys going from five, four, three, two. And I was kind of surprised that we weren't in the top five. I figured that's where we would be," Capt. Vona said. "So, I was a little surprised when they announced number two, and I was like, OK, well, I guess we didn't make the top five tough competition out here. And then they announced us, and we were totally shocked."

    They said their five-year-old daughter, Presley, loved the applause they received.

    "They handed her the trophy, and she held it up in the air for a picture," Kristen Vona laughed as she told the story.

    Vona Family

    For the family, the entire experience has been humbling.

    "It was a really big honor. It's been a long time of putting in a lot of hard work towards the unit, not even just the one we're in now, but previous units we've been in, and so it's just really awesome to be recognized for the work we have put in," Kristen Vona said. "We're just super honored to be selected. So, it was very humbling."

  • Javeeno Jeno Antonio ResimoThe Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a murder of a 38-year-old woman that has led to one arrest, but still no answers.

    On Friday, Dec. 17, detectives located a body in the Grays Creek Area after receiving a tip.

    The remains of Jessi Marie Lindsley were found on Butler Nursery Road near Blossom Road.

    The next day detectives arrested Javeeno Jeno Antonio Resimo, 18, of Hope Mills. He was charged with being an accessory to murder and is being held in the Cumberland County Detention Center on a $1,000,000 bond.

    No one has been accused of the homicide itself. Resimo will appear in court again on January 6, 2022.

    Lindsley was reported missing in early November. According to a GoFundMe page, she had four sons and one grandchild.

    The fundraiser for her sons has raised $585 at the time of publication.

    Anyone with information to the murder is asked to call the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office at 910-323-1500, 911, or Crimestoppers at (910-483-8477.

  • Gina HawkinsAn ethics complaint against Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins has been filed and is currently being heard by the Ethics Commission.

    Up & Coming Weekly requested the ethics complaint at the beginning of December. The City indicated that the records were not yet publicly available. Raleigh Attorney Mikael Gross, who filed the complaint against Hawkins, forwarded Up & Coming Weekly a copy of the complaint.

    Gross initially filed 14 allegations against Hawkins. However, the commission will be looking at eight of those allegations. Hawkins responded to the commission regarding these eight allegations via email in October. That email was also sent to Up & Coming Weekly by Gross.

    Charge 1: Hawkins allegedly used city property for personal use while also terminating employees for doing the same. An example cited in the complaint states Hawkins has used her police car as a personal car since her employment with the city.
    Response: Hawkins told the commission that this was false.

    Charge 2: Hawkins allegedly benefited from contracts issued through the City of Fayetteville by having her dog trained by the K-9 trainers hired by the Fayetteville Police Department. According to allegations, the misuse of the contract resulted in Hawkins' gain at taxpayers' expense.
    Response: Hawkins stated that this accusation has previously been anonymously submitted to the City of Fayetteville Internal Audit Department and investigated. She said she would explain more to the commission in a closed session as it involves employees of FPD. She did not disclose in the email the results of the previous investigation.

    Charge 3: Hawkins allegedly allowed a K-9 trainer to place choke collars on Fayetteville canine officers and place them on the ground like dogs to "teach them what it feels like to be a dog on a leash and collar."
    Response: Hawkins told the commission that this was false, and she did not know this happened.

    Charge 4: Hawkins allegedly hired a K-9 trainer as an officer with the police department. However, the handler has had problems with Training and Standards and cannot attend Basic Law Enforcement Training, meaning that by working as an officer while not fully trained, they could violate several laws.
    Response: Hawkins told the commission that she never hired him as an officer, and he has never submitted any documentation to become an officer with the City of Fayetteville.
    "My knowledge and expectations of the trainer riding with K-9 police officers to assist with Field Training is a part of real-world training just like officers have Field Training Officers with them after they get out of the academy," Hawkins said. "If there were any stops being made in the City, it was by the City of Fayetteville Police Officers. I would never condone anyone who is not certified to conduct illegal stops."

    Charge 5: Hawkins allegedly misused departmental resources by having on-duty officers divert from their patrol duties to help her locate her dog, which escaped from her residence on October 18, 2020. The allegation states that this call was removed from the system.
    Response: Hawkins wrote the commission a lengthy response saying that this is false. She states she never requested assistance or asked for officers to respond. Explaining the only calls made were to the communications supervisor alerting them where she would be. Hawkins says that she asked the communications manager to investigate it when this allegation popped up.
    "The investigation revealed the supervisor had entered the call to be dispatched, the dispatcher sent the call out to an officer and had a phone conversation about looking for my dog," Hawkins explained. "The dispatcher had made some unprofessional statement[s] during the conversations. The supervisor submitted a statement regarding her actions and what I requested that day, and the dispatcher submitted a statement regarding her action."
    Hawkins said in her statement to the commission, "Once again, I never requested for an officer to respond to assist me with finding my dog, BUT if a citizen would call 911 asking for our assistance, I would expect us to respond, because I know we prioritize calls and if we are available to assist the public and there are no calls pending, then I would expect us to respond and help as we have done on many occasions. This was a Sunday around 10:00 a.m. when calls for service are extremely low."

    Charge 6: Hawkins allegedly hired an active gang member and was alerted to the employee's gang history by the gang unit division at FPD. However, the individual was still hired, and the entire gang unit allegedly was placed under investigation at the direction of Hawkins.
    Response: Hawkins told the commission that this did not happen, and the internal investigation is still open and cannot be publicly discussed.

    Charge 7: Hawkins allegedly initiated investigations into employees, managed the investigations and then did not allow herself to be questioned or have an independent party investigate.
    Response: Hawkins told the commission that she is responsible for ensuring all investigations of employees are thorough and all facts and statements are included in an investigation. Hawkins explained that employees who received discipline have been afforded rights within the policy and have been through all appeals, including the final appeals to the city manager.

    Charge 8: Hawkins allegedly reached out to the Fayetteville Police Benevolent Fund to have an employee removed from the board before the initiation of an internal investigation. Fayetteville Police Benevolent Fund never removed the employee from the board, but the allegation explains that this shows she is willing to intimidate staff.
    Response: Hawkins told the commission that this is false.

    Gross has also filed a lawsuit against Hawkins for a previous employee. That lawsuit is currently being adjudicated in court.

    When Up & Coming Weekly reached out to Hawkins, her lawyer released the following statement:

    "The so-called 'Ethics Complaint' is meritless and is knowingly compiled of false allegations. Chief Hawkins is limited, for now, in her public response to those allegations as some pertain to FPD personnel/privacy matters. I am sure the so-called 'Petitioner' is aware of that fact as he released Chief Hawkins' responses to the media, knowing the legal position she is in as Chief. At this juncture, we are befuddled that a hearing would actually take place based upon the complete dearth of any evidence to support the allegations. We look forward to vigorously and aggressively addressing this 'Ethics Complaint' at the appropriate time."

    The Ethics Commission has five members — lawyer, Tracey Henderson, CPA, Dale Knowles, lawyer, Dymond Spain, Dr. Stephen Rochman and Thomas Donnelly Jr.

    The next commission meeting will be in January, but no set date has been released at this time.

  • ASOMClose your eyes. Imagine that you are in a plane filled with young men about to parachute to the ground, or you are in an army hospital surrounded by fields in Europe. It's almost impossible to imagine what it must have been like to see the invasion of D-Day during World War II.

    But almost impossible doesn't mean it can't be done.

    Bruno de Sa Moreira, the CEO of Histovery, was always interested in making history interactive. He has helped create 20 interactive, virtual exhibits throughout France. In 2018, his company came up with the idea to use a tablet and allow people to become interactive at the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Normandy, France.

    "But then, for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019, we decided to create an exhibition that could come here to the United States," de Sa Moreira said.

    The U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum, here in Cumberland County, is the second place in the U.S. to host one of de Sa Moreira's interactive exhibits.

    D-Day: Freedom From Above at the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum is designed around historic D-Day artifacts. The exhibit utilizes twelve physical panels to guide visitors through the experience, focusing on the D-Day missions of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions at Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first French town to be liberated during WWII. ASOM Curator Jimmie Hallis carefully chose the physical artifacts in the exhibit. Artifacts had to be related to D-Day and connected with the 82nd or 101st Airborne Divisions.

    "I like artifacts to connect to a story, especially when that story hits close to home," Hallis said. "If I can tie it to the local community, it makes it really interesting."

    One of the artifacts in the exhibit, and chosen by Hallis, is a parachutist coat and garrison cap that a Fayetteville native wore during the Normandy Invasion. Pvt. Robert W. Ryals was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He survived combat in Normandy, Holland and the Battle of the Bulge. Ryals passed away in 2011.

    The virtual exhibit provides an immersive and interactive virtual reality experience of the events. The experience offers museum visitors the chance to encounter 3-D virtual relics, unpublished photos, excerpts of exceptional archival films and animated maps. The key to the interactive exhibit is the HistoPad tablet. By using the HistoPad, visitors can scan QR codes on the physical displays.

    "Basically, the idea is to transform this into a time-traveling machine. So it's going to take you in the past and help you understand what this object in front of you in the windows of the museum is about," de Sa Moreira said.

    "​​And this is something fun to experience because it's visual. What you have is primarily images, images of the past, of the characters of the scene going on, and by clicking on details, by manipulating the objects, you get answers to your curiosity. So basically, the trick is to increase the curiosity of the visitors."

    Another interesting fact about the HistoPad is that people can leave real-time reviews.

    "Since the opening of the exhibition in October, one visitor out of two is rating the experience. It's a very high percentage. And the ranking they gave is extremely high. It's 4.7 out of five," de Sa Moreira said.

    Admission to the ASOM is free. However, there is a $5 rental fee for the HistoPad.

    ASOM staff recommend you allow about 30 minutes to tour the entire D-Day exhibit. The exhibit is open until March 2022.

  • manicureLa'reine Nailz Bar & Spa at Cross Creek Mall celebrated its grand opening on Dec. 17th.

    Glenise Lesane, the new La'reine Nailz Bar & Spa owner, grew up fascinated with nail art.

    "I had an aunt that would apply acrylic to her nails, and she explained to me what she was doing. As I grew older, I would join my older cousins when they would go to their nail appointments," Lesane said. "Watching this take place [right] before my very eyes was amazing to me, and I knew that nails was what I wanted to do."

    Lesane was licensed in 2003 from Sheer Pleasure Academy and is also a licensed cosmetologist.
    La'reine Nailz Bar & Spa may not have been able to open their doors if not for the support offered by North Carolina Center for Economic Empowerment and Development (NCCEED).

    "They provided me with the tools needed to invest into my business and assisted me with financial planning," said Lesane.

    NCCEED began in 1990, and its mission has been to promote growth, productivity, well-being and the economic development of small businesses throughout the Sandhills Region of North Carolina. NCCEED accomplishes this through counseling, education, information and advocacy programs. NCCEED works with other community agencies to achieve this goal and has a solid history of helping women and families through specialized programs. These programs include the Small Business Administration's Women's Business Center Program, credit counseling, financial literacy training, and one-on-one consulting. NCCEED also offers a loan program, microloans and assistance with grant programs available through the City of Fayetteville.

    The NCCEED office is located at 230 Hay St. in the heart of downtown Fayetteville.

    Sara Marada became a member of The Women's Business Center of Fayetteville at NCCEED in November 2020. As a business consultant, she helps clients during different stages of their business development plans. She focuses on sharing the skills needed to build their customer base through the art of lending.

    "We strive to support the start and growth of all small businesses and their owners," said Marada. "Our services are provided at no cost to our clients, thanks to funding provided by the Small Business Administration, The City of Fayetteville and various channels such as community donations, pledges, fundraising and government grants." Marada, through her role at NCCEED, helps businesses in finding funding opportunities.

    "Through NCCEED's ability to support clients through the application process for various sources of funding and financial support," Marada said. "I helped Glenise locate and obtain approval for the funding she needed to help start, supply and establish her business.

    The purpose of the funding secured by La'reine Nailz Bar & Spa is to help grow the local economy.

    "Glenise was able to access funding designed to spark the growth and economic impact within our city, which helped her bring her services to the Cross Creek Mall located right here in Fayetteville," said Marada.

    With the new shop's location in Cross Creek Mall, LEsane hopes to take advantage of the mall foot traffic.

    "It is an ideal place because there are so many different types of patrons that shop the mall," Lesane said. "So, my business will not just service one type of clientele."

    La'reine Nailz Bar & Spa will be offering manicures, pedicures, gel polish, dips and powders, artificial nails and the latest trends in nail art, specializing in natural nails.

    "La'reiene means queen in French. So, my nail and spa bar will make my clients feel like the queen or king that they are," Lesane explained.

    Her goal is to help support her clients' sense of well-being through self-care.

    "People (not just women) need an outlet to feel better about themselves, especially now," Lesane said. "Mental health is important. So, if a new coat of gel polish or a new set of nails can help someone feel a little bit better, then I feel like I have done my job."

  • Truck StopThere will soon be a new kid on the 1300 block of Morganton. The Haymount Truck Stop has traveled a long road to reach its Dec. 8 groundbreaking.

    When two entrepreneurs, active duty Fort Bragg soldier Jordan Sherrod and his business partner, Chris Beaty, began brainstorming their new business, the idea was simple; create an ideal patio space.
    With a cold season that lasts a little over two months, Fayetteville generally boasts warm and temperate, although famously erratic, weather.

    “Since I have moved here, I have noticed the weather is great... ten months out of the year, but there is no patio space; there is no good patio location,” Sherrod said.

    And so, Sherrod and Beaty set out to fill that niche; to create an outdoor gathering space that promises to offer the prime patio experience, Haymount Truck Stop.

    Planned as a unique culinary and entertainment experience, Haymount Truck Stop will be a landing pad for a maximum of four food trucks and offer patrons a bar, an arcade and an outdoor gathering space set for private events and yoga classes.

    The venue will also provide food truck vendors with a limited commissary kitchen, storage space and electrical hookups.

    Sherrod and Beaty have carefully chosen the future home of the Haymount Truck Stop. Located at the former Haymount Auto Shop, on the corner of Morganton and Broadfoot, Haymount Truck Stop should complete its metamorphosis by the spring.

    When Sherrod and Beaty first began their Haymount Truck Stop journey, they encountered unexpected obstacles. As city code stood last spring, food trucks could not be situated within 100 feet of another restaurant and needed to be 50 feet from one another. This code created a problem with their location, which is just under an acre; they only had space for two food trucks under the preexisting city code. So, Sherrod, Beaty and their project manager Stephanie Pirruccello set out to reshape the rules for themselves and future businesses like them.

    “I actually physically wrote a new law,” Sherrod said.

    He created the rewritten ordinance in the fall and submitted it to the city, but the process did not end there. It passed through many different departments throughout the city.

    “I submitted a version, and then the city took that and rewrote it to fit within code,” said Sherrod.

    The question was, how could the rules be written to allow a space’s primary function and purpose to be food trucks, and how could the Haymount Truckstop provide a safe and city-compliant environment for their patrons.

    To meet this challenge, Sherrod took code from other areas, other cities and reworked what had been written in different places to create a version of a new city code that might allow for more food trucks in smaller areas.

    Then the city passed this new law through each relevant department, which made appropriate adjustments.

    The city as a whole helped the Haymount Truck Stop craft an ordinance that was both safe and workable.

    The process took several meetings before the new codes were ready for a vote.

    Sherrod and Pirruccello credit the city staff for their help, support and moving the new ordinance through the planning commission.

    Alicia Moore, a senior planner, was assigned to help Haymount Truck Stop through the process.

    “Alicia Moore helped us navigate the entire process of requesting the inclusion of Food Truck Courts in the city’s Unified Development Ordinance. Her robust knowledge of the city’s regulations and requirements for zoning, planning, parking and safety was invaluable and ultimately helped us secure the City Council’s approval,” Pirruccello said. “We couldn’t have done it without her!”

    The benefit to the community will stretch beyond the Haymount Truck Stop.

    According to Sherrod, the City of Fayetteville has incorporated a multi-food truck function into their discussions about a maker space at the Murchison Gateway. The Fayetteville City Council unanimously agreed in early August to explore the possibilities of a maker space at the junction where Rowan Street, Bragg Boulevard and Murchison Road meet.

    Sherrod hopes the possibilities won’t end there.

    “We have a mentality of a rising tide lifts all ships,” Sherrod said. “I am very pro-business. I have an MBA in entrepreneurship. I love business. I love business owners; helping them out and doing what I can to help things to grow.”

  • GB Tulsi action shotA group of 12 teams, each composed of two Special Forces Green Berets and one celebrity, prepared to compete in a Tactical Challenge at Range 37 Miller Training Complex at Fort Bragg on Dec. 16.
    The Green Berets volunteered for the event, and two soldiers from each of 1st, 3rd, 7th and 10th Special Forces Groups (Airborne) and four from 5th SFG (A) were in attendance.

    Former NFL long snapper Andrew East, who won the competition the previous year, his wife Olympic gymnastics medalist Shawn Johnson, NFL wide receiver Eric Decker, Mixed Martial Arts fighters Dan Henderson and Ryan Bader (a Bellator Champion), country music artist and radio personality Chuck Wicks and his wife Kasi, actors Mark Valley and Charles Easton, Shawn Booth, a season 11 contestant on "The Bachelorette," three-time individual Crossfit Games veteran Jacob Heppner (who won this year's competition) and former Congresswoman, presidential candidate and U.S. Army Reserve Civil Affairs Lt. Col. Tulsi Gabbard teamed up with the Green Berets from across the country for the 2021 Tactical Challenge.

    Weapons readied and targets sighted, each team competed in a series of tasks during four events.
    While five contestants are repeat competitors from the inaugural event held in 2020, many celebrity competitors have had little experience with the weaponry and drills that make up the competition.
    Retired Brig. Gen. Harrison Gilliam, operations director, Special Forces Charitable Trust, feels previous participants returned because they made real connections during the first event with the Green Berets.

    "The soldiers they are training with left the impression," Gilliam said. "It was all about the phenomenal experience and the phenomenal soldiers they got to meet last year, and the team at the [U.S. Army John F. Kennedy] Special Warfare Center and School. It's just the professionalism and all that they do to train the next generation of Special Forces just really imprinted on them … They're all good patriots."

    Jodi Burns, executive director of the Special Forces Charitable Trust, agrees.

    "Bringing in the folks from last year, I think, actually really helped us because now they really understand. They understand the magic of this place as well, and how special it is that they're here, and they really forged some relationships, I think too, an understanding of the Green Berets," Burns said.

    Over two days, the teams train together. The Green Berets school their celebrity counterparts on weaponry and marksmanship.

    Most of the participating celebrities have little shooting experience.

    "In just a little amount of time, that professionalism of the Green Berets, and they're [celebrities]hitting targets. It's pretty amazing," Gilliam said.

    The event has multiple levels of purpose: to fundraise for the trust, connect the public to soldiers and expose potential recruits to the possibilities on offer through Special Operations.

    A last-minute addition to the competitors, Gabbard said she was surprised when she was requested to attend. Despite the challenges of living so far from the competition in Hawaii, Gabbard said the timing worked out, and she was "grateful" to be asked and was "proud" to be a part of the fundraising.

    "I'm glad to be out here today," said Gabbard.

    While this was Gabbard's first competition of this kind and her participation was unexpected, she enjoyed the experience.

    "It's just fun. It's a lot of fun."

    She praised the men she was paired with for their coaching and patriotism.

    "These Green Berets are just fantastic humans, great patriots, and for this, they have been great coaches through the practice day yesterday and have become fast friends," said Gabbard.

    One of her teammates, a team sergeant from the 5th SFG(A), explained that they were notified late but spent a day on the range getting some practice in. The event he enjoyed most was an all-steel event.

    "I liked the mostly all steel event. That one is a lot of fun. It is more fast-paced," he said.

    The previous year's winner, East, explained that this event was the highlight of his year. His biggest takeaway from both competitions has been the impression left on him by the Green Berets.

    "The reason we're out here is just to support the Special Forces," said East. "I think if there is anything I have learned, it's just how amazing these guys are. How much they sacrifice and how much they train, and how they really are the most prepared and equipped team in the world. So, just to be able to be out here side by side doing a competition with the Green Berets is amazing."

    Celebrities are responsible for fundraising ahead of the Tactical Challenge and use their fame and presence to engage with the public and fundraise.

    Special Forces Charitable Trust runs multiple programs which serve the seven current Special Forces Groups and their families. The trust offers a mix of programs for soldiers and their families and education grants for spouses and children.

    "We focus really hard on families, is our focus, and the soldier," Gilliam explained. "Resiliency and building that resilient family and that resilient soldier, that can be there when he is needed and is ready, and then he knows his family is taken care of. That is an important aspect of working in conjunction with the commands to make sure that we help meet any requirements that they need to support their families and then support their soldiers."

    With a $100,000 fundraising goal for this event, the 2021 Tactical Challenge celebrities exceeded expectations raising $210,000 with money still coming in as of the event's start.

    Even more exceptional, Burns explained, is the visibility the event has garnered for the organization, explaining that the non-profit had gained almost 2,000 followers.

    "Which for us that's huge because whatever we post is, of course, educating the community about who the Green Berets are and our programs and what we do," Burns said. "So, for us, that's huge."

    Chuck Wicks's wife, Kasi and her sister-in-law, Brittany Aldean, raised over $40,000 by setting up an online pop-up boutique.

    Wicks, who Gilliam credits with the initial idea for the Tactical Challenge, explained that this event is just getting started.

    "Our goal is to continue to do this event and to have it continue to grow," said Wicks. "This should be a million-dollar event, and it's well on its way."

  • police car newWhen people have concerns or complaints about potential police misconduct, those concerns need to be heard, investigated and resolved.

    The Fayetteville City Council has selected the citizens who will serve on the new Community Police Advisory Board. It was established in August of last year, but members were just named at a special council meeting on Dec. 13.

    The objective is to promote an atmosphere of trust between Fayetteville residents and the city police department. The CPAB will review and recommend ways to improve police department policies and practices.

    The panel has the authority to examine public records, but it does not have subpoena power.
    Chief of Police Gina Hawkins has said she welcomes the development knowing the Fayetteville Police Department. is a top-shelf organization. City council appointed ten members, one of whom will be a non-voting alternate. Three of the new members were selected by name. The others were picked randomly from those who had applied.

    Those selected for three-year terms are Lionel Cartwright, Jim Bove and Julie Aul. Two-year term members include Jacqueline Clay, Pablo Arroyo and Sidney King. Debra Slaughter, Tony Haire and Gregory Perkins were selected for one-year terms. Juana Magnum will serve as the alternate.

  • Antonio JonesThe empty seat for District 3 will now be filled by a local realty broker and Air Force veteran.

    Antonio B. Jones, 48, was appointed by the Fayetteville City Council in a 6 to 3 vote Monday night. He was supported by Mayor Mitch Colvin, Mayor Pro-Tem Kathy Jensen, Councilmembers Larry Wright, D.J. Haire, Johnny Dawkins and Christopher Davis.

    The other three council members, Yvonne Kinston, Courtney Banks-Mclaughlin and Shakeyla Ingram voted in favor of Mario Benavente.

    “I believe that the city is growing and is in need of continual progressive leadership, of which I can provide,” Jones stated in his application for the seat. “My interest in serving on the council is truly that, a sincere interest and desire to serve the citizens of the city and represent them in the best manner possible as it relates to any manner of business taken up by the Council.”

    Within 24 hours of the City Council vote, he was sworn in.

    “I do not take this appointment lightly. Even though it is a short term, I am dedicated and committed to do my very best,” Jones said at the swearing-in ceremony.

    Jones is a broker for Jones Realty and leads the Temple of Faith Church on Camden Road. He also serves on Cumberland County's Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, where he serves as the chair of the nominating committee.

    He previously worked as the regional supervisor for the State Department of Health and Human Services.

    Jones spoke with Up & Coming Weekly about the appointment and applying for the position. He said he’s been thinking about applying for a City Council position for over a year now.

    “So when the vacant seat came, I felt that an urge in my spirit that this was the time I would go for it,” Jones said. “It was perfect timing for me.”

    The most urgent issues that the city faces, according to Jones, are affordable housing, youth delinquency rates, and consistent and inclusive growth and development of Fayetteville. He says he already has ideas to help deal with these issues.

    He says that Fayetteville’s economic growth and the crime issue are interlinked. When jobs are low, crime increases. He also believes that not only should the city be looking at the high-tech jobs that every city wants, but also increase the work availability that is accessible to the current workforce.

    He says that when combatting youth delinquency and crime rates is to look at the existing programs that are already established in the County.

    “I want to look at the prevention and diversion programs of the organizations that we have here,” Jones said. “There is a lot, a lot of organizations that are doing a lot of great things.”

    Jones wants his new constituents to know that he will continue to listen and make decisions that are in the district’s best interests.

    “My best interest will be that of the constituents,” Jones said. “I can stand on my own two feet. I can make my own decisions, with or without other individuals influencing me.”

    Jones will fill the position up until May. At that point, the people will vote on the next seat-holder. Three candidates have filed including Benavente, John Zimmerman and Kurin Keys. Jones has not officially filed for the elections but tells Up & Coming Weekly that he plans on filing when it re-opens.

    He says no matter what happens in the election, whether he gets elected or another person does, he wants to make sure this transition period is put to good use and make sure this district continues to have good representation.

    “What I really want to do, during these short few months, I want the public to know that they will have their opportunity to speak,” Jones said. “I also want it to be known that during this short time, being realistic, it’s nearly impossible to address every single issue in this short term. My goal is to get feedback from the community regards to who is coming behind. Whether it’s me or if it’s someone else.”

  • wwwupandcomingweeklyCollaboration was key to achieving a large budget for Cumberland County.

    At a press conference at Fayetteville State University Dec. 1, Rep. John Szoka, Rep. Diane Wheatley, Rep. Marvin Lucas, Rep. Billy Richardson and Sen. Kirk deViere talked about the budget and how they were able to come together across political lines and parties and focus on Cumberland County residents first.

    $412 million was allocated by the state to Cumberland County. More than $198 million will be going towards higher education. $64 million will support local government. $27 million will be used for veterans and the military. $19 million will be allocated the environment and natural resources. $11 million is being allocated to health care. $4 million will boost economic investment. Lastly, $87 million will go towards the funding of local projects.

    Several of the elected officials said that this was a transformational budget for the county. Lucas said that after serving as an elected official for over a decade, this is the first budget he really felt proud of.

    Richardson, the chairman of the Cumberland County Legislative Delegation, said that this budget did not happen by accident.

    "We were the only delegation that stood together and said, we are going to put this state and this county first. We're not going to put the party first. We're going to put the state and our community first," Richardson said.

    Despite some regrets on the state-wide level, locally many of the representatives agreed that the best thing to happen was getting this budget finalized for Cumberland County residents.

    "I think everyone realized that with the opportunity of the amount of money that was here in the state, both from the federal dollars as well as additional dollars that were here at the state level, that this budget had to be a negotiated budget. It had to be a compromise," deViere said. "I believe, just like others around this table believe, that good government happens when you bring everybody at the table and they can have a conversation."

    However, when it came to projects and line items left on the table, Szoka said that there weren't any that he can recall that were local.

    "But we all coordinated with the commissioners, with the mayors and city councils and municipalities. And we talked to not-for-profits. We talked to economic developers and people, and most came to us with their ideas," Szoka said."There may have been something that's left out, but it wasn't for lack of any of us reaching out and trying to determine the true needs of the community."

    Most of the funds are already in motion for use in the near future, like the bonuses for school teachers. Other funds may already be put towards a project or may have to wait until officials allocate it. When it comes to infrastructure and construction projects, it may be years until people see the outcome of those.

    However, for the local delegation, one of the most exciting prospects is to see what will happen in the local community decades from now.

    "Because of these projects and these programs, one day there will be a business that rises up in Cumberland County and will have an impact on this nation," Richardson said.

  • imagejpeg 062A place where nature and adventure meets — that’s what Sweet Valley Ranch promises its visitors. They have offered Dinosaur inter-actions during the hot summer months and a terrifying haunted house around Halloween. Now that it’s December, the Ranch will be covered in Christmas and holiday lights. Festival of Lights was started last year during the pan-demic.

    Fred Surgeon came up with the idea and soon enough, 18,000 people came out to look at the lights over the course of 17 nights.

    This year, there are more lights, more attractions and an entirely new interactive section of the event.

    “Be prepared for an amazing, dazzling, sparkling light show,” Debbie Munn, executive assistant, Surgeon & Associates, Inc., said. “This year at Festival of Lights, we are going to incorporate all of the attractions we’ve had during the year into the light show.”

    The Festival of Lights features over one million lights and 350 animals throughout the show. The light displays range in themes as well. Dinosaurs, Star Wars, a Gingerbread House, a life-size nativity scene and a Military and First Responders Tribute. The Grinch will also be by Tiny's Winter Wonderland and be causing some chaos of his own at the Grinch’s Mansion. There are two sections of the festival. The main part of the event will be drive-thru only where visitors in their cars can see all different types of light displays. There is also a Drive-Thru concession called Cattleman’s Loft.

    “You don’t even have to get out of your car,” Munn said. “You can buy food, you can buy gifts, you can buy T-shirts from all of our attractions.”

    The Cattleman’s Loft will also feature a 14-foot Christ-mas tree, named Gabriel’s Trumpet Tree for how it is decorated.The other section of the event will where the corn maze was for the Halloween attractions, Tiny’s Winter Wonderland. This is where people can walk around and interact with the attractions. People can park, get out of their cars, get some food and enjoy amusement rides as well as visits with Santa.

    But the lights are not the only thing that will create excitement at the Sweet Valley Ranch. They also are aiming to help local charities and local non-profits.

    The Surgeons have created the Sweet Valley Ranch Gives Back Program. This program, which only launched a little more than a month ago, is to help charities that help people locally.

    If charities can man one of the concession trucks over in Tiny’s Winter Wonderland, during one of the nights of Festival of Lights, they will receive at least a $500 portion of the proceeds as well as a match of up to $1,000 from Fred Surgeon and his wife.

    They started the program with their Halloween event. They plan on continuing the Give Back program throughout their other events next year: Dinosaur World, Tiny’s Corn Maze, and Backwoods Terror Ranch.

    The goal of Sweet Valley Ranch Gives Back, backed by Surgeon & Associates, Inc., is to give $50,000 minimum over the course of the year. So far, $8,000 has been donated to three different charities. Operation Inasmuch received $2,000, Agape Pregnancy Support Services received $2,000 and the Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity received $4,000.

    They are open to working with more local charities over the course of the year. If you are interested in your organization being considered please email svrgives-back@surgeon-associates.com the organization name, contact person, phone number and a brief statement on why you would be a good fit for the program. The charity must be a non-profit and provide services within Cumberland County.

    Tickets for the Festival of Lights can be purchased online or at the ticket booth. Tickets for adults and children are $10 a person. Children aged 2 or under are free. Farm Wagon tours are also available for large groups. Prices start at $230 and can go up to $750.

    Sweet Valley Ranch will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The final night of the event will be on Dec. 26.

  • City Hall FayettevilleLocal politicians interested in running for office can now officially file their intentions to run. Offices open for filing include the 4th U.S. Congressional District, N.C. General Assembly, Cumberland County Board of Commissioners (at large and District 1), Sheriff, Clerk of Court, District Attorney, District Court Judge, City of Fayetteville Mayor and City Council.

    Sen. Ben Clark, Rep. John Szoka, former Fayetteville mayor Nat Robertson, former police officer Christine Villaverde, high school teacher Denton Lee, DeVan Barbour IV and Cumberland County Commission Chairman Charles Evans have announced they are all running for the 4th U.S. Congressional District seat.

    The Fayetteville Mayor seat will also be contested. J. Antoine Miner, Nyrell Melvin, Efrain "Freddie" Delacruz and Franco Webb have all announced that they will run. The current Mayor, Mitch Colvin, announced last Friday that he will run again for the Mayor seat.

    Sen. Kirk deViere announced that he will seek re-election to the Senate District 19 seat for a third term. Rep. Diane Wheatley also announced her intention to file for re-election for the 43rd District of the NC house.

    Filing ends at noon on Dec. 17 at the Cumberland County Board of Elections. The primary will be held on March 8.

  • Fay State of the CommunityThe annual State of the Community was presented last week with leaders from Cumberland County, Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, Spring Lake and Hope Mills all talking about the past year, what's to come and their biggest challenges.


    Cumberland County Chairman Charles Evans spoke in a pre-recorded video about Cumberland County. He said that some of the accomplishments the county had, over the past year, included creating and running massive COVID-19 vaccination sites, implementing an Emergency Rental Assistance Program, creating a new American Rescue Plan committee, creating a military food policy council to address food insecurity among military service members and their families and addressing racial injustice and diversity initiatives. Looking forward, Evans was excited to announce that several companies like Metronet, Amazon and Cargill will develop jobs locally and invest in local businesses. Other future plans include the construction of a homeless shelter, new emergency services and 911 call center and entirely replacing the Crown Theater and Arena. The biggest challenge for the county is continuing to get clean water and sewer to all areas of the county. Specifically in the area of Gray's Creek.

    "Getting water to Gray's Creek and other areas of the county remains a priority," Evans said. "The county is working to partner with available Public Works Commission to have utilities serve as the water supplier at Gray's Creek."


    Mayor Mitch Colvin spoke live at the Greater Fayetteville Chamber about the state of the City of Fayetteville. Colvin said that the city made several investments in the community this past year. City wages have gone up to $15 an hour, over $50 million will go to the airport, a new aquatic center was built and $33 million was dedicated for public and government housing. Colvin confirmed that Amazon will be coming to Fayetteville, which will bring in an additional 500 jobs and $100 million of investment. He also announced that the Cape Fear River Trail will continue to be developed in the upcoming months. The biggest challenge for the City, according to Colvin, is getting people trained and having a ready workforce in Fayetteville.


    Garrison Commander Col. Scott Pence spoke on behalf of the ongoing work at Fort Bragg. Over the past year, community meetings about the renaming of the base have been taking place but other positives, such as Smith Lake reopening this year and new strategies from the Army to help attract, retain and enable people are just a few positive takeaways. One major renovation the installation is looking at is the creation of Liberty Trail - a 14-mile loop around Fort Bragg. That trail will open in January. One concern for Fort Bragg is that one-third of soldiers, who are usually on deployment, are now at the post — creating a demand on resources.


    Spring Lake Mayor Larry Dobbins spoke briefly about the town’s financial troubles but primarily focused on what the town needs to do in the future: restructure, rebuild, rebrand, regain trust and rebirth. Dobbins will be stepping down as Mayor later this month. Mayor-elect Kia Anthony will take his place.


    Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner spoke about that change is happening in the town. Many officials have or will retire and the town will need to find new replacements for these town figureheads. In addition, a new City Manager, who is relatively unfamiliar with the area will need support. Warner says other challenges Hope Mills faces are the replacement of roads and dealing with traffic. Overall, she says the future is bright for Hope Mills continues to grow.

  • 07Business A bill introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly 1 1/2 years ago could have given Fayetteville City Council more autonomy in awarding construction bids to local and minority businesses. The measure, sponsored by Democrat Sen. Ben Clark, amended the Fayetteville City Charter, establishing a Small Business Enterprise program “to promote the development of small businesses in the Fayetteville Metropolitan Statistical Area and to enhance opportunities for small businesses to participate in city. contracts.” But the SBE program does not include the monetary incentives given to the cities of Durham and Charlotte in earlier legislation.

    The local statute allows Fayetteville City Council to give more preference to local bidders, especially businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans. They comprise what the government calls disadvantaged business enterprises or historically underutilized businesses. In a report released early last year, the city said that of $65.7 million worth of city contracts in an eight-month period, only 35 percent went to local companies.

    The Fayetteville area “just doesn’t have the capacity to lure small, local businesses to bid on major projects,” said city of Fayetteville Purchasing Manager Kimberly Toon. As a result, almost half of the money went to out-of-state companies, the analysis showed. Fayetteville’s small business enterprise program can solicit bids from local companies only for small contracts that do not exceed $30,000, Toon said. In 2011, the legislature allowed the city of Durham to limit bidding to local small businesses for construction contracts up to $500,000.

    Fayetteville officials have sought additional local hiring authorization for years, but the city is hamstrung by state laws that require it to approve the lowest qualified bids, regardless of where the companies are from. To counter that, Toon said Fayetteville casts its net farther than it used to. “We make sure everyone in the (metropolitan statistical area) receives a copy of the proposal before it goes out for bid.”

    Durham has been unable to reach its goal of 25 percent of contract work staying local. The city reached 21 percent last year, officials said. Fayetteville has only the power of persuasion on its side and an enthusiastic purchasing office. Officials ask that bidders make a good faith effort to hire minorities and veterans. Toon noted that representatives of all local governments meet monthly to identify strengths and weaknesses of the local work force and economy. “It’s a group effort,” she said.

    Fayetteville City Councilman Larry Wright is dissatisfied with state regulations that hamper efforts to incentivize local businesses to seek business from city government. Toon said many minority small-business owners routinely deal with a lack of bonding capability or the presence of mandatory insurance minimums. She said her staff conducts classes for interested businessmen and women to put them in a better position to bid.

  • COVERWe drive by and around them every day, no matter where we are in town it seems. Roadway medians! They’re barriers of all shapes and designs, some nicely landscaped, others concrete monstrosities.  They’re not new, but they’ve been popping up everywhere. A new grassy center median stretches along Bragg Boulevard from the Martin Luther King Freeway to Ames Street, and that’s just the beginning. It will eventually extend from Glenville Avenue to Stamper Road. That work is underway now. DOT is finishing up another center median along Rowan Street between Ray Avenue and Green Street. Both medians are linked to the Rowan Street Bridge replacement project, which is about to begin, said DOT District Construction Engineer Randy Wise. “The cost of the project is $1,135,816.28,” he added. Once the concrete islands are in along Bragg Boulevard, the section from Barrington Cross to the Martin Luther King Freeway bridge will be resurfaced. 

    Officials concede that this kind of construction can be disruptive for businesses. “Fast food places and convenience stores tend to suffer greater business losses than other retail outlets,” said DOT Regional Traffic Engineer David Phipps. “We’re in the convenience business and it makes us inconvenient,” said Louis Cox, president of Holt Oil Company, which owns the Liberty gas station on Rowan Street. “I’ve had to cut staff hours because of at least a 25 percent loss of gasoline sales,” he added. A Hardees Restaurant in an accident-prone area of Ramsey Street fell victim, in part, to a big median project. “We closed that particular Hardees about two years ago because of disappointing sales and it being in an older area that had diminished somewhat,” said Rick Rountree spokesman for Boddie-Noell Enterprises. “In general, our company has found road medians rarely make for better business. Overall, there probably wasn’t one single reason behind our decision but instead a combination of all three,” Rountree added. 

    “We understand during the construction and immediately following completion there are impacts to business,” reiterated Peggy Beach, spokesman for the Department of Transportation.

    “Once people get used to it, things get back to normal,” said John Kanos who owns the Rainbow Restaurant on Ramsey Street. At least that was his experience. Several years ago, Ramsey Street from Tokay and Country Club Drives to the Outer Loop overpass lost its center turn lane to a massive, miles-long median. Peter Pappas, who owns the Baldino’s Giant Jersey Subs shop near the busy intersection of Ramsey and Tokay agrees. “We were down up to 30 percent during and immediately after construction, but the traffic accidents pretty much came to a stop afterwards.” DOT says that’s why the median was installed. 

    The state spent $3.4 million to “construct concrete islands, elevated medians, directional crossovers and other channelization to reduce the amount of uncontrolled cross movements,” along Ramsey Street according to the project description provided by DOT. The result was impressive. The state conducted two three-year analyses of traffic crashes along the corridor, one of them before construction began; the other from July 2012 through September 2015. The 53-page report  emphasizes what are classified by DOT as Target Crashes; those which included angle, left turn, sideswipe and rear-end mishaps when there was a center turn lane and those that occurred after median construction.  The analysis took into account vehicles that disregarded the median and were involved in U-turn crashes at designated median openings. Each crash was independently verified. One hundred eighty-one Target Crashes occurred during the three-year period before the median was built. Only 18 took place thereafter for a 90 percent reduction. Overall, auto accidents were reduced by 31 percent. The study disclosed that dozens of accidents between Tokay Drive and Andover Road were reduced to only two because of the presence of the median. 

    City Councilwoman Kathy Jensen, who represents the area and has a business on Ramsey said she “loves the medians. They have made getting in and out of traffic from businesses and neighborhoods easier and safer.”  

    Emergency vehicles

     “Typically, the medians are designed to be mountable by emergency vehicles,” said Fayetteville Traffic Engineer Lee Jernigan.  He notes the center turn lane was often used by emergency vehicles to negotiate busy traffic, “Overall, though, the theory is that the medians will reduce accidents, which in turn reduces the occurrences necessary for a response by emergency vehicles.”  

    “We have not seen any impact that affected our response times and service deliveries negatively, but we have adjusted our routes accordingly,” commented Fire Chief Ben Major. 

    Safety medians were recently built along N. Eastern Boulevard and Grove Street. DOT says they were urgently-needed safety installations to reduce accidents involving pedestrians and to discourage jay walking. Well-marked crosswalks and improved signage accompanied the road work. The latest large project is along Owen Drive west of Cumberland Road, with improvements being made past Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. Like Ramsey Street, restricted, directional crossovers prevent multi-car accidents. The Owen Drive median project is coupled with a federally-funded sidewalk construction program. “It’s a classic example of improving traffic safety with its 60,000 cars a day,” said Phipps. 

    Nearly two miles of sidewalks will be built from S. Eastern Boulevard (US 301) to the All-American Expressway at Old Owen Drive. The $549,000 project won’t get underway until the summer of next year, according to DOT, but it has been funded. Eighty percent of the money is provided by the federal government. The city will pay the other 20 percent or $112,000. “This will be a great project to improve pedestrian connectivity along one of the highest traveled corridors in the city,” said Jernigan. Construction is estimated to take from six to eight months.

    DOT plans call for a median resembling the Ramsey Street project on Raeford Road to stretch from Robeson Street in the Highland Village area all the way to 71st High School. Land acquisition begins next year with construction scheduled for 2018, said Burns. It’s been a part of the local Transportation Improvement Plan for several years and was recommended by the Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

  • COSFor some people, the Christmas season is not complete without a performance of Handel’s Messiah (Part the First) and the Hallelujah Chorus. On Saturday, Dec. 17, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers presents Messiah Sing! at St. Ann Catholic Church. It’s a years-long tradition that the performers and the audience both look forward to each holiday season.

     “I think hearing Messiah ‘live’ is a powerful moment, with experiencing ‘Hallelujah!’ firsthand, it is a wonderful part of the Christmas season. If someone has not done this, they should do it at least once,” said Michael Martin, COS director. “Also, the majority of the musicians in the room are from Fayetteville! How great it is to know that we harbor such magnificent talent to bring this music to life.”

    The concert opens with seven pieces, which are performed by the Campbellton Youth Chorus and the COS. Then after a small break, the COS will perform the first part of Messiah, along with “Hallelujah!” from the second part. In addition, the program includes four professional soloists: Anne Rogers and Brenda Vandervort (both from Fayetteville), Melvin Ezzell from Wilmington, and Jeffery Jones, from Myrtle Beach, S.C.

    One of the things that makes this concert so special is its inclusiveness. The community is invited to a walk on performance of the “Hallelujah!” sing. To participate, people must have their own copy of Messiah and have it in a black cover or folder. If people would like to walk in at the concert and sing, they will be directed to sit in a designated area for people who wish to sing along. That way, they do not end up standing in front of people who wish to simply watch and listen.

    For Martin, this is a fun performance. “Honestly, the best part of the concert is performing ‘Hallelujah!’ And I really enjoy getting to meet the soloists and work with an orchestra. Don’t get me wrong; I feel like I have the best seat in the house at every one of our concerts! But in this case, we probably utilize more people from every walk of life that want to be in the mix of our event. From professional singer/performer to the new singer/performer, we have it all,” he said. “But if you ask what is the best thing about this and every COS concert? It is that the idea of community needs to be preserved. Fayetteville, for as large as it is, actually feels more like a small town settled in a very big area. Our choir is Fayetteville’s community chorus and we want to preserve that as a basic premise of our mission. Our version of this event is much less formal than other organizations. In some of those events, people arrive in period dress to sing the piece. We do not, so I guess that we are a bit more casual about it. It’s fun and is a standard event throughout America.”

    Martin noted that the COS is still accepting members.”The preparations for our March concert, ‘The Teacher and The Student’ will feature the music of Britten and Vaughn Williams. Our final concert of the year will be in May as we feature John Rutter’s ‘Gloria, and other music accompanied by brass, percussion, and organ. People will also want to stay tuned for what is becoming a summer tradition of the COS performing prior to the North Carolina Symphony at Festival Park in July,” he said.

    The Messiah Sing starts at 7:30 p.m. Find out more at: http://www.singwithcos.org.

  • Crime SceneThe City of Fayetteville has recorded 31 homicides this year. That’s the most ever in one year. The most recent murder victim was Amanda Williams, 37, of Berwick Drive in the Ponderosa neighborhood. She was stabbed to death by the man police shot and killed moments after her sons, ages 9 and 11, jumped out of a window and ran next door to get help. Mark Anthony Hicks, 31, was Williams’ boyfriend, according to police. He was shot when he lunged at officers seconds after they forced entry into the house, said Interim Police Chief Anthony Kelly. Five officers entered the house and found the woman on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood, said Kelly. 

    They told Hicks several times to drop the knife he was holding. One of the officers fired his stun gun, but Kelly said it had no effect. As they attempted to handcuff Hicks, he lunged at the policemen “nearly striking one of the officers,” added the chief. That’s when he was shot. “We have not released how many officers fired their weapons,” said police spokesman Lt. Todd Joyce, but three of the five were placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of an SBI investigation. They are Officers Jason Beldon, William Byloff and Justin Waller. Suspensions are standard in officer-involved deaths.

    The brothers are now in the custody of their fathers, said the police chief. “We want to do something for the children for Christmas,” he added, noting that the boys witnessed their mother being murdered. He described the scene as graphic. He said at some point, detectives will have to question the children as to precisely what they saw. 

    “Ma’am, my mother got stabbed by her boyfriend,” the older brother told the 911 dispatcher. Police released audio of the 911 calls. Hicks also called the police, admitting on the phone that he had killed someone, and apologizing. “I’m so sorry, I’m at their house and I’m so sorry,” he said.

    Much of the situation was recorded by the officers’ body cameras. But Kelly told Up & Coming Weekly the videos are not 100 percent conclusive because the field of vision does not include footage of the officers’ side arms being fired. The video, by law, can only be released to the public by order of a Superior Court judge, said Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West. Chief Kelly indicated he would be reluctant to ask for it to be made public because it’s so graphic. He does intend, however, to let the families of those involved screen the video.

    All but one of the 31 homicide cases this year have been cleared with arrests, Joyce said. Two of the 29 instances were double murders. The previous record of 30 was set in 1993. That’s the year that Fort Bragg Army Sgt. Kenneth French, Jr. killed four people at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant, including the owners Pete and Ethel Parrous. French was convicted following a lengthy trial in Wilmington, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. 

  • jeff7James Palenick has been in Fayetteville less than a year. He is the City of Fayetteville’s new Economic and Business Development Director. It’s his job to understand where the community is headed. Palenick, 57, brings a lot of top-shelf experience with him. He’s served as a city manager in half a dozen communities over 27 years. He was recruited for the new post that city council created a year or so ago from Dallas, N.C., and has been here since March.

    Palenick has been working quietly behind the scenes as he gets acclimated to the Greater Fayetteville area. When it comes to developing the community’s economy, “what’s missing is a common vision,” he said. Most importantly, though, is that “Fayetteville is an unproven market” to outside developers and bankers. He said he understands why the Durham firm that wants to bring the former Prince Charles Hotel building back to life could not attract any of the 10 banks they approached to finance the $15 million renovation project. Instead, Prince Charles Holdings, LLC, is getting a conditional loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to cover much of the renovation’s cost. 

    There are few things more financially challenging, Palenick says, than the adaptive reuse of a historic building. Financiers would much rather fund new structures than risk money on older buildings. Palenick predicts the Prince Charles project, coupled with the construction of a state-of-the-art $33-million baseball stadium will fuel tens of millions of dollars in local downtown investment. He agrees with other city officials that the multi-purpose minor league stadium has the potential to attract as many as 250 events a year. For starters, there are the 72 baseball home games. In the off season, soccer, football, concerts and the presence of a 360-degree stadium concourse will attract thousands. 

    He believes the $24 million realignment of Bragg Boulevard, Murchison Road and West Rowan Street along with the new Rowan Street railroad overpass will spur development in what’s known as Catalyst Site 1 nearby.  That work, which will take three years to complete, is getting underway this month. A catalyst site by definition is the core or nucleus of a commercial development area. Palenick predicts that once these projects are completed, downtown Fayetteville will have become a proven market for high-dollar development.  “Five years down the road, Fayetteville will be perceived much differently,” he said.

    Palenik tells Up & Coming Weeklythat the perception from afar is that Greater Fayetteville’s leaders have not found a common vision and are willing to set egos aside. “That’s what Fayetteville is struggling with,” he said. He says he’s been a change agent all his career. “I find great fulfillment in trying to make the community better.” As for his part in all of this, “it’s very early yet. This is not the speed I was accustomed to moving,” he says. But at this point in his career, he’s patient.      

  • President-Elect Trump apparently isn’t accustomed to having his plane denied landing at a local airport. But that was the case in Fayetteville last week. He mentioned it with some chagrin as he greeted the crowd at his “Thank You Tour” rally at the Crown Coliseum. He told the crowd gathered for the rally the road trip was why he was late arriving. Fayetteville Regional Airport Director Brad Whitted said the instrument landing system (ILS) was not working. He said the FAA was working on the system, but that the inclement weather resulted in minimums below normal for so-called instrument landings. Trump’s 747 was diverted to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. He told the crowd gathered for the rally the road trip was why he was late arriving. “As weather improved…he was able to reposition his aircraft to Fayetteville for his departure,” Whitted said.

    jeff2Evans Wins County Leadership Post

    Rarely does the election of an organization vice-president upstage that of the president, but the selection this month of Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans as board V.P. for the coming year surprised many. Commissioner Glenn Adams was elected chairman by acclamation. Adams, elected from District One, has been on the board of commissioners for two years. Evans has been on the board six years. He was elected countywide … twice but was never before nominated for a top post. Evans was nominated by outgoing Chairman Marshall Faircloth. Commissioner Jimmy Keefe was also nominated, by Commissioner Larry Lancaster. But Evans won the day in a 4-3 vote. If decades of tradition are followed next year, Evans will become chairman of the board.




    jeff3Public Art Brings Color to  Downtown

    Those peculiar sculptures you’ve seen downtown are pieces of art. The public display was formally introduced during a ribbon cutting at the Arts Council Dec. 13. Eleven pieces of public art have been placed around downtown and will remain until October.  The artists and artwork are varied. Phil Hathcock’s piece “Windstone” made with aluminum, copper and brass echoes the sounds of clacking bamboo when good breezes blow near the Fayetteville Area Transportation & Local History Museum. Other locations include City Hall, The Arts Council and Festival Park. Support for the project has been provided by private donors with matching funding from the Arts Council. 





    jeff4Fire Marshall Addresses Safesty Concerns

    At least 36 people have been confirmed dead in the conflagration that gutted a converted warehouse during an Oakland, Calif. dance party. After firefighters put out the blaze, the building was deemed too unsafe for emergency responders to immediately enter. Officials say the roof collapsed onto the second floor and then parts of that collapsed onto the first floor. The City of Oakland had opened an investigation before the fire into the use of the building and now the district attorney has launched a criminal investigation.

    In Fayetteville, Fire Marshall Michael Martin noted this city has many older buildings that once were warehouses. Some of them have been re-designed and brought up to code for repurposing. But others remain abandoned and vacant. “Modern building and fire codes require certain safety requirements,” said Martin. “A building housing a warehouse would have different code requirements than a large space designed to accommodate hundreds of people,” he added. Martin noted that North Carolina’s fire code was adopted only after the 1991 Hamlet, N.C., chicken processing plant fire. Twenty-five employees died and 55 were injured in the fire. The Fayetteville Fire Department urges property owners and event managers to ensure their buildings are code compliant and properly permitted for specific uses before hosting large parties and concerts. 


    jeff5Park Smart While Shopping

    The Fayetteville Police Department reminds shoppers to “Park Smart” this holiday shopping season. They say most thefts from motor vehicles occur because they’re left unlocked. “It is important to turn off your vehicle, take your keys, lock your vehicle, remove valuables, including firearms and do not leave anything of value in plain sight,” said Officer Shawn Strepay in a news release. He said thieves tend to watch motorists in parking lots to take advantage of those who are careless. Police suggest that if you place recently purchased items in the trunk of your car, it’s a good idea to move the car to another area just in case you’re being watched. Be alert and report suspicious activity by calling 911. If you’re leaving town for the holiday, register with the police for a house check on the FayPD.com website. Officers who patrol your neighborhood will conduct security checks while you’re away. 



    jeff6DOT Celebrates Widening of Murchison Road

    City of Fayetteville, Town of Spring Lake and Fort Bragg officials were joined by those of the of the State Department of Transportation Friday to cut the ribbon on the newly-installed section of Murchison Road between Spring Lake and Fayetteville. The highway was widened to six lanes from the Fayetteville Outer Loop to north of N.C. 24/87/210 in Spring Lake. The stretch from the Outer Loop to Honeycutt Road is already complete, and the section from Honeycutt Road to north of N.C. 24/87/210 is nearing completion. The work on this $32.3 million project began three years ago. Completion is scheduled for the end of this month. The widening of Murchison Road was necessary to support the closure of Bragg Boulevard through Fort Bragg. The boulevard closed to northbound traffic in August and all traffic in September. It was funded jointly through NCDOT and the Department of Defense (Defense Access Road Program). This work coincides with the completion of several key sections of the Fayetteville Outer Loop.





  • Karl MerrittThe opening line of the welcome to my website says, “After all my years of living, there are still some things I do not understand.” That is, I cannot make sense of, cannot reason my way to some conclusions reflected in the actions or words of others. The 2016 presidential election and follow-on are presenting me with a multitude of things I do not understand. Allow me to share one of these happenings that confound me.

    Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. He won the Electoral College by a substantial margin (306 to 232). He did not win the popular vote. That edge went to Hillary Clinton by over 2 million votes. Secretary Clinton conceded the election to Trump. Her campaign said they had not found reason to suspect any irregularities in the voting process. The White House takes the same position. Then, at the last minute, Dr. Jill Stein, who ran as the Green Party candidate, calls for and gets a recount of votes in Wisconsin. By the time this column is published, she might have done the same in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

    Why would Stein call for these recounts? This question is especially relevant since she only received 33,006 votes in Wisconsin. An article by Erick Mack titled “Jill Stein Officially Funds, Files For Wisconsin Recount” reports, as follows, based on accounts in the Wall Street Journal:

    ‘“After a divisive and painful presidential race, reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many American to wonder if our election results are reliable,” Stein wrote in a statement Tuesday. “These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified. We deserve elections we can trust.”’ Stein added according to The Journal:” “’We are not attempting to overthrow Donald Trump, and Idon’t expect that that will be the outcome.’”

    In the third general election presidential debate, Trump was asked if he would accept the election results. His response was that he would make that decision when the election was concluded. Hillary Clinton and media types were outraged that Trump did not commit to accept the results. They lambasted him for days. Given the overwhelming negative media response to Trump’s refusal to commit to accept election results, I would expect the same media response in this case. Nothing... media is quiet. Now word comes that the Clinton campaign organization will be represented in the Wisconsin and any other Stein-initiated recounts. 

    A Newsmax article titled “Clinton Campaign Will Participate in Jill Stein’s State Recounts” attributes the following quotes to Clinton’s campaign lawyer, Mark Elias, from a post on the blogging website Medium.com:

    “’We believe we have an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported,’” Elias said.

    “‘We do so fully aware that the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount,’” Elias said. “‘But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.’”

    “The Democrat’s campaign didn’t plan to initiate recounts on its own because it hasn’t found ‘any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology,’ Elias wrote.”

    Jill Stein estimates the recounts will cost about $7 million. States must be reimbursed for their costs. Stein has made it clear any amount raised above required payments to states will go to Green Party efforts. 

    Stein’s call for a recount in Wisconsin, along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, make no sense to me. Beyond making no sense, this episode shows a lack of reasoning and the possibility of a financial scam on the part of Jill Stein. Add to this the hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton and the media. As though all of this is not enough, media bias against Trump, and in favor of Clinton, shows through again in this situation.

    This is just one example of what I cannot make sense of regarding the 2016 presidential election and follow-on events. It troubles me, drains me, that there is a long listing of similar “makes no sense” situations. Pick one: (1) Protests, even violent protests, opposing the election of Trump with no clear aim that simply divide America even more than was already the case; (2)Mayors who are defying Donald Trump in his intention to end sanctuary cities, which means they refuse to cooperate with federal authorities regarding immigration matters.  On and on the list goes. 

    Not being able to make sense of these kinds of happenings wears heavily on me, but I recently saw a glimmer of hope. Myron Pitts, a columnist for the Fayetteville Observer, makes no secret about not being a Trump supporter. However, in a column titled “Myron B. Pitts: It’s time to focus on what really matters,” Pitts talks about his routine after an election and then about his son crawling into bed with him and his wife early Wednesday morning after Pitts had processed Tuesday’s election. After describing how his son complicates the sleep process, Pitts says he was happy to see his son Wednesday morning and writes:

    “I’m about giving a president a chance to show me whether he knows what he’s doing. That extends to President-elect Trump. You would have to be short-sighted to want the leader to fail of the country in which you are living. As I mentioned, I have a family - which includes a little girl, Helen Ann, and a kitty-cat, Gus. I want my children to be safe and have opportunities, and I think that makes me about like 99 percent of parents out there, at least among the ones who are trying.”

    In his column, Myron Pitts puts forth the thought process that Jill Stein, Hillary Clinton, Clinton surrogates, media, and all who seem willing to jeopardize the future of America because of their opposition to President-elect Trump should take on. My struggle to understand much of what is happening in our country is draining, but I see hope not only in Pitts’ column but in the course being pursued by Donald Trump. 

    God, save and bless America.

  • margaret2I look forward to them every Sunday — wedding announcements published in the New York Timesfull of juicy details about the happy couples rarely found in other publications. The NYTdoes not charge brides and grooms to print their happy news. Instead, it requires a submission form, which asks the usual questions about hometowns, educations, parents and occupations. It also asks squishier questions about how the couple met, fell in love and decided to commit to each other for a lifetime. Rarely does the Times dwell on who wore what, ate what or carried which flowers.

    In other words, it prints the dish everyone wants to know, and if you want your wedding announcement published in the Times, you have to give up the real skinny of how you and your darling got to the altar. Some of these accounts are nothing short of wonderful, particularly those of the couples featured each Sunday for a longer exposition of their relationship, complete with quotes and candid photographs.

    Here is some of what I have learned about newlyweds in the NYT.

    Randi Dennett and Barry Altmark met and were best buddies in pre-school and say they were inseparable. But something totally out of their control occurred when they were six. Randi’s family moved to another town an hour away and even though Barry pined, the families eventually lost touch. But Barry never forgot his friend and confesses to looking her up on Facebook during high school. When he was preparing to go to college at Cornell University, a friend mentioned that her assigned roommate, also at Cornell, was a girl named Randi Dennett. After he recovered from the shock, Barry picked up the phone and called her. They went to dinner, then college together. Says Randi, “I was so happy. I was head over heels from the second I saw him.” Randi remembers thinking, “Good. I’m done. He’s it. It was meant to be.” They married last month in New York.

    Anna Comte, who turns out to be a great granddaughter of Anne and Charles Lindburgh, married Ryan Hodgdon the first Saturday of December in Charleston. They met two years ago at an Oysterfest in Atlanta but got off to a rocky start because the future groom had already “celebrated” too enthusiastically and realized he could not actually converse with Anna. They reconnected days later on Facebook, enjoyed an oyster dinner and each other, and the rest is wedding history. The couple is pictured walking down a path shaded by trees hung with Spanish moss.

    Ames Brown is handsome enough to have been a contestant on television’s The Bachelorette, although he was not the bachelor chosen. Embarrassed by the entire experience and definitely not looking for love, Ames signed up for a sailing trip in Mexico. So did a reserved young woman named Allison Palm, and the two became friends, traveling companions, and eventually more for five years. Last Christmas, Ames surprised Allison while she was visiting her family by ambushing her in a local drug store where he proposed. They married late last summer.

    Food plays a big role in romance, it seems. Here are two love stories centering on yumminess.

    Shelby Stevens and Chris Long, both chefs, dated for years and wanted to marry, but restaurant life is demanding and they never quite found the time until last month. Says Long, “We’re like fresh, warm bread and soft sweet butter. We’re really good on our own, but when you add them together, it’s like…that’s amazing!” To celebrate their happiness, Shelby walked down the aisle to “The Winner Is..” from the movie Little Miss Sunshine.

    Rebecca Roth owned a popular restaurant in Boston and loved her work. Stephen Quello, a devoted diner, became her most faithful customer, and things developed from there. To propose, Stephen cooked his sweetie a fancy dinner and dimmed the lights. When the bride-to-be arrived, she got the idea of what might be afoot and began crying. Marshaling his romantic skills, Stephen asked, “Do you want to eat? Or do you want to talk business?”

    This week’s couple is Jenna Miksis and Jason Canavan who met two years ago when Jason was singing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” during an Irish bar’s karaoke night. Jenna was more impressed with his looks than his singing, but their relationship grew to the point that Jason, suffering from dengue fever contracted in Belize, dragged himself to her place so as not to disappoint her. He was wearing his pajama bottoms. Jenna and Jason married last Saturday in a self-uniting ceremony in Philadelphia.

    It is worth noting that the NYT also runs stories on ongoing relationships and a column on relationships that do not last, called “Unhitched.”

    I have no idea why people decide to lay bare unique details of their most intimate relationships for all the world to savor, but they do make compelling and affirming reading. Perhaps they are just so happy they simply want to share. We wish them all much happiness and good times together … or apart.

  • grinchI cannot think of a time more crucial to the needs of the residents in our community than this Christmas season. With tens of thousands celebrating the holiday season with family and friends, it’s heartbreaking to know that hundreds of our residents are still displaced and without homes because of the ravages of Hurricane Matthew. Christmas will not be so merry for many.

    However, if there is a silver lining to this cloud it is the heartwarming outreach of the people, businesses, churches and organizations of this community who have stepped up with time, talent, food, clothing, household supplies and money to assist those devastated by this catastrophe. And, the way Fayetteville, Cumberland County, Fort Bragg, United Way, Red Cross and Salvation Army and many other local organizations all rallied together to bring support and comfort to those victims. It is heartwarming.  

    With people still without homes and residing in motels, raising awareness and raising money has taken on a high priority. Organizations like the Salvation Army who need money more now than ever. Thank goodness, this is the season for their annual kettle and bell-ringing efforts. Many volunteers from churches and community civic clubs all pitch in to participate in this extremely essential annual tradition. And, it’s fun ringing the bell, wishing passersby a Merry Christmas, acknowledging them for even the smallest contribution while making it a very, very big deal with an even bigger “thank you.” This is a unique and rewarding experience. 

    santaThe Fayetteville Kiwanis Club (Est. 1920) proudly took on that bell-ringing project with the Salvation Army in 1975 when Cross Creek Mall first opened its doors. Supporting the Salvation Army was an important project for the Mall and the Fayetteville Kiwanis Club, and they never missed a Christmas Season ringing the bell in 40 years. Well, that was until this year. Enter the Grinch! Unfortunately, with approximately 72 hours to the big bell-ringing event on Saturday, Dec. 10, the Kiwanis Club was notified that they had lost their regular bell ringing location of 40 years and were asked to move the Salvation Army Kettle to a location at the main entrance to the Macy’s department store.

    Well, you would think that Macy’s, with their notable history of holiday traditions, would have been the perfect location to share the Christmas spirit and Salvation Army outreach. Not so much. Enter another Grinch! Matter of fact, to the surprise of the Kiwanis Club, the Salvation Army kettle was not welcome at their store. So, in the spirit of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,Macy’s and Cross Creek Mall (owned by CBL Associates), together, destroyed a 40-year-old Fayetteville community tradition in spite of the Christmas season, the good works of the Salvation Army and the desperate needs of the community.

    Wow! This surely gives a new meaning to “shop local”. It is amazing how hard these national chains and businesses work to disconnect themselves from local communities.  Where do they think their business comes from? Well, thanks to some fast thinking and hard work by Bob McAmis, a very dedicated Kiwanian, and the wonderful folks at the Cumberland County Salvation Army, they were able to secure a new location outside Sam’s Club off Skibo Road. It was there that we celebrated our 41st year of bell ringing for the Salvation Army. 

    We appreciate what Sam’s Club did for us, the Salvation Army and the needy folks in this community. It was a great day, a great experience and we raised a lot of money. We also learned who our friends are. We notified Cross Creek Mall and CBL with a letter and copied Macy’s in hopes that at least an apology would be in order. Probably not. Oh well!  

    Thank you, Sam Walton, and thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly. Merry Christmas!




  • coverLegacies. World leaders and captains of industry frame decisions in terms of how their actions will affect their legacy. Most high school students base their decisions on how their actions will affect their weekend and after school plans. When Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh was in high school he probably wasn’t thinking about his legacy. It’s been 13 years since Ryan died, but his legacy of hope and determination continues to change lives. His family could have chosen to mourn him privately. Instead, they choose to celebrate him publicly. On Dec. 2016 Ryan’s Reindeer Run 2016 starts at the Medical Arts Complex Field in Downtown Fayetteville. It is a celebration of life and hope and all the things Ryan stood for and dreamed of in his short life. 

    Like many local residents, it was the Army that brought Ryan’s family to Fayetteville. They stayed and made it home. Ryan prospered here. He played soccer and basketball. He believed in helping his fellow man and even won the 2001 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. He graduated second in his high school class and was accepted to Princeton University. Then, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Ryan died 15 months later at the age of 18 from complications of a bone marrow transplant. But even during  the fight for his life, Ryan gave everything he had — and wrote a book about it, too. 

    Ryan’s book, called Run Because You Can — My Personal Race with Cancer, talks about the challenges he faced dealing with his illness during his senior year of high school. It covers how he faced challenges and tried to keep his life as normal as possible while dealing with his illness. It is an inspiring peek into the heart and mind of a fighter.

    Ryan’s Reindeer Run is a 5k walk/run that benefits the Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation as well as other charities that help cancer patients and children in need. Since its inception in 2003, the foundation has given more than $150,000 to local non-profits in Ryan’s memory. 

    This is a popular event with between 800-1,000 runners each year, so consider registering early. It is festive and family-friendly – bring your friends.  Bring the kids, strollers, too. Bring the dog (on a leash). One of the things that makes this run so much fun is the costume contest. There are prizes for the top three pet finishers and their owners, top three family finishers, best costumed runners and the top three strollers and runners and best decorated strollers.

    “We are excited for another successful year of the run. Based on the early registration, it looks like we’ll have a great crowd again,” said Roberta Humphries, Ryan’s mom and race coordinator. “We are eager to see the creative group costumes again.”

    She added that “another thing I’m excited about having to do with Ryan is that Victoria Cameron, the former Headmaster at Fayetteville Academy, has contacted various university libraries and over 40 university and college libraries have accepted Ryan’s book including Princeton Ryan would have gone to school.”

    There are prizes for the top three overall male and female finishers and the top three male and female finishers in the following age divisions: under 13, 13-16, 17-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69 and 70 and over. All under 13 participants receive a finisher’s award. Teams are encouraged to compete as well. There is a team trophy presented to the school, club or organization with the largest number of participants. Not based on time but on the number of registrants. Include the name of the organization on the entry form. Minimum of 10 entries to be considered a group. 

    It’s become a tradition for Humphries  to search out reindeer-themed trophies to hand out to the winners each year. 

    The route has a few hills and is challenging by design. Even though this is a fun event, Humphries wants people to remember that life is challenging, too. The course leaves the Medical Arts Building parking lot and goes up Haymount Hill and through the Haymount neighborhoods. 

    Race registration costs between $20 for individuals under the age of 13 running the 5k and $130 for a family of six members running the 5k. Package pickup is Friday, Dec. 16 from 5-8 p.m. at Breezewood Healthcare, which is located at 200 Forsythe Street, Packets are also available Saturday, Dec. 17 at the race site from 7 – 8:30 a.m. The race starts at 8:30 a.m. The awards ceremony is at 9:30 a.m. 

    Register at active.com. Find out more about Ryan at http://www.ryansreindeerrun.com.

  • honeydoFor years, Brad Fluke worked in construction. The hours were crazy, it involved a lot of travel and he was missing out on watching his kids grow up. So, in 2002 he quit industrial construction and started his own handyman business. “What I found was that there are a lot of people in need of a professional handyman,” he said. “My business grew. Fast. In 2008 I turned my business into a franchise. We invest in business owners and give them a model that works. And it works for the community, too, because no one cares about their customers like the business owner does.” 

    Marius Mihai is in the construction business, too. When he came to America from his home in Romania, Marius was looking to put his skills to good use. He wanted something he could invest in, a way to use what he is good at and turn it into a successful business. Some of the laws are different here, though. The particulars of getting licenses and certifications are much different. The Honey Do Service, Inc. seemed like a perfect fit. 

    “The first thing we did was help Marius get his certifications. He has a state contractor’s license, he passed the state test and then we helped him get other certifications including a lead certification. Many of us live in homes that were built before 1978, and these usually contain lead. Knowing how to handle that correctly is important,” said Fluke. 

    Having a dependable team is key as well. “The men that work with us go through a stringent vetting process,” said Fluke. “It is a three-step process. We get to know their skills and we get to know them as individuals. They must be service-minded. Not every construction worker is a good Honey Do worker. They all must pass a background check and drug test, too.”

    While some might think contractors and handymen are for the well-to-do, Fluke noted that Honey Do clients are usually working class families where mom and dad both work and just don’t have the time or tools to take care of things that need to be fixed. “Some of the jobs we do, the tools alone would cost more than just hiring us to do the job,” he said.

    From small repairs to remodels to upgrades and restoration, The Honey Do Service, Inc. offers professional home improvement and repair services at fair prices. The skilled craftsmen are certified in their fields be it plumbing, electrical work, landscaping or carpentry. “Our home is the biggest investment we make for most people, and helping someone take care of their biggest asset is an amazing feeling,” said Fluke. “One of the best things about this kind of work is to complete a project in days or even hours. You can see what you have done and see how happy it makes your client. It is satisfying helping homeowners.”

    The Honey Do Service Inc. is located at 505 Owen Dr. Call 484-0022 for information or to schedule an appointment.

  • FSOOne of the most beloved aspects of the holiday season every year is the music. People have been singing Christmas Carols for centuries. The festive songs often bring back happy memories of community and pleasant days spent amongst family. After all, that is what the holiday season is about for so many of us: family togetherness. This season, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra provides the community with the opportunity to enjoy traditional Christmas music in its best expression: performed live. On Dec. 10, the guest director Aram Demirjian leads the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra in the concert Waltzing in a Winter Wonderland.

    This concert is part of the guest conductor series. The Fayetteville symphony Orchestra is searching for a new conductor. The boards of directors chose five finalists from all the applicants, and these five have been invited to engage the community through a concert. These concerts include pre-concert talks that begin at 6:45 p.m. with the FSO “Music Nerd.” These talks give in-depth and personal insight into the new conductor as well as the music itself. This month the guest conductor, Aram Demirjian, is the music director of the Knoxville Symphony.

    After each concert audience members are invited to fill out a survey on what they thought of the performance. This input will be used to make the final decision about who will be the new leader of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. To make the most informed decision, community members are encouraged to attend as many concerts and preconcert talks as possible. Attending all five concerts gives audience members the opportunity to really compare the different conductors. The being said, it is not necessary to give a valuable opinion on the performance.  

    Waltzing in a Winter Wonderland featurea traditional holiday music that is perfect for the entire family. While traditional Christmas carols are wonderful coming through the radio, there is really no substitute for live performances. Live music and other cultural events are especially important for children, as these experiences can shape their relationship with the arts for life.

    The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1956. It is a nonprofit organization that focuses on artistic excellence. It is truly a community organization. It began as a group of instrumentalists who shared a passion for music. They played together in local homes at first, but soon turned their passion into a professional regional orchestra. Even now, their focus remains with the community. They focus on using their instruments and tremendous talent to educate and inspire community members. They also work with a number of community partners like Methodist University, Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Fayetteville State University and local school programs. 

    Waltzing in a Winter Wonderland takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the Huff Concert Hall at Methodist University. It is located at 5400 Ramsey St. Cape Fear Eye Associates, P.A. is a presenting sponsor for this concert. Tickets are $25.23. Tickets and more information can be found at : http://www.fayettevillesymphony.org/2016-2017-concerts..

  • christmasDecember brings Christmas decorations, shopping and holiday cheer.  In Fayetteville, December also brings a few local traditions like the Rotary Christmas Parade, Holiday Lights in the Garden, Ryan’s Reindeer Run and Christmas plays in our local theaters.  

    For the 26th year, Cape Fear Regional Theatre presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a family-friendly show.  BCPE introduces the audience to the Herdman kids – a rowdy, misbehaving bunch feared by children and avoided by adults.  When Grace Bradley is suddenly charged with directing the local church Christmas pageant, she is ready for anything – until the Herdmans show up and collide with the Christmas story head on. 

    BCPE is based on a book written by Barbara Robinson in 1971. The book was adapted into the play and made into a television movie in the 1980s. It tells the story of Imogene, Claude, Ralph, Leroy, Ollie and Gladys – the six delinquent Herdmans.  They go to church for the first time after being told that the church offers refreshments. Despite protests from church members, they are given roles in the Sunday school’s Christmas pageant, which results in telling the Christmas story in an unconventional fashion.  

    This comedy has become a holiday staple in many communities including Fayetteville, with several actors returning to the stage year after year.  

    “It is a wonderful thing that involves the whole community,” said Molly Malone, CFRT Director of Education and Outreach and this year’s director for BCPE.  Malone promises great performances by child and adult actors, a few favorite Christmas carols and a lot of laughs.

    “It’s family-friendly, it’s fun and light,” said Malone.  “The wonderful thing about bringing your kids to see this play is they will see kids just like them onstage.”

    Malone and CFRT are using three full casts for BCPE this year with 45 to 60 actors in each, for a total of about 170 participants. The red, green and yellow casts rotate shows to allow more families to be involved and to make sure the younger actors are not over-burdened with rehearsals and performances.  Children in the cast range from 6 to 16 years old.

    Of the adults in the play, three of them fulfill their roles for all three casts –  Megan E. Ray as Mrs. Bradley, Bo Thorp as Mrs. Armstrong and Greta Marie Zandstra as Ms. Bradley, a new role scripted specifically for Fayetteville audiences.

    Zandstra plays the aunt, Ms. Bradley, who comes to help Mrs. Bradley out because dad is deployed “like we see in many families in Fayetteville,” Malone said.

    “And this year, we brought back Bo Thorpe playing Mrs. Armstrong on video, like we are Facetime-ing with her.”

    For many, being a part of BCPE is “a full family experience” Malone said.  While the kids are performing roles on stage, many parents are volunteering behind the scenes.  “We get to use the parents of the kids as back stage crew – running the light board, sound, corralling baby angels.”

    Malone said she is proud of all three casts, sighting that each brings something unique to their interpretation of the story.  “They have been driven, working real hard since October,” she said. “It is fascinating to get to work with these kids … many have worked on the play multiple times.”

    Some actors start as baby angels and make their way to angel choir or shepherds. With some even having a chance to play a Herdman, Malone said.

    “BCPE kicks off the Christmas season so well.  We get to see the story with angels, baby Jesus and the shepherds,” Malone said.  “Every community has children like the Herdmans … the message is don’t neglect them or turn your back on them, but embrace them.  This story brings all that together.”

    BCPE runs through Dec. 18.  The CFRT box office is open Monday – Saturday from 1 – 6 p.m.  Ticket are $10 for children and $15 for adults.  Visit www.cfrt.org or call 910.323.4233 for more information.

  • jeff4Fayetteville City Council’s Parks Bond Committee is anxious for contractors to get shovels in the ground on projects authorized by voters in last spring’s $35 million referendum. It was the first Fayetteville parks bond issue of four others held in the last 50 years to be approved. The first bond issuance of $11 million is planned for next September, but council isn’t waiting until they have the money in hand to begin building. Mayor Nat Robertson would like to see work begin on seven splash pads right away. The projection is that $10 million will be spent during the first three years, said Recreation & Parks Director Michael Gibson. 

    A revised schedule has construction on the first five splash pads beginning next year. They’ll be placed at Myers Park Recreation Center, Kiwanis Recreation Center, Massey Hill and Dorothy Gilmore Rec Centers. A fifth site is in West Fayetteville at one of two locations. The last two splash pads will come on line in 2019. One of them will be on the grounds of the minor-league baseball stadium, downtown; the other in West Fayetteville. They’ll cost $7 million altogether. The city will borrow money from itself temporarily until bond proceeds begin to become available next fall. 

    Other projects to be funded by the first bond sale include a west side Senior Center at Lake Rim Park, a skateboard park and land acquisition for a tennis center, plus improvements to some existing parks. A master plan for a large multi-purpose sports complex will also be funded. The sports complex and tennis center are budgeted for a combined $15 million. 

    The second and final bond issuance will be in January of 2021, for $23.7 million to fund a downtown senior center adjacent to the new Rowan Street Bridge.  The $6 million Cape Fear River Park will be the final project and is slated for construction in 2022-23. The State Local Government Commission requires that all bond projects be planned and built within seven years. 

    Mott McDonald Consultants projects that supplemental funding opportunities can be found in several potential grants. The consulting firm is managing the bond program for the city and reports regularly to City Council’s Parks Bond Committee. Additional funding sources include the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the Connect NC statewide bond package, the Recreational Trails Program, Clean Water Management Trust Fund, DOT’s Strategic Transportation Improvement program and National Endowment for the Arts, plus numerous private foundations. 

  • jeff1A Cumberland County State Trooper has been awarded the Highway Patrol’s Meritorious Service Award. Trooper S.D. Reed was honored by Col. Bill Grey, Commander of the State Highway Patrol and Frank L. Perry, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety. Reed was one of several troopers and civilians to receive awards in a ceremony on Nov. 29. 

    On May 5, 2016 at 9 a.m., Reed presented “Keys for Life” at Cape Fear High School. The program showed students the consequences of drinking and driving as well as texting while driving. The presentation included a mock collision involving a fatality and an impaired driver being arrested. Reed explained that an impaired driver faces DWI and felony death by motor vehicle charges. He explained that the worst part of his job is having to tell loved ones of the death. The program has been presented to 1,400 juniors and seniors of area schools over the last two years. Reed is assigned to Highway Patrol Troop B, District 1 Headquarters in Fayetteville.








    jeff2Personal Weapons on Post

    In mid-November, the Pentagon issued a regulation giving service members permission to carry personal firearms on military bases. The regulation “provides guidance for permitting the carrying of privately owned firearms on DoD property by DoD personnel for personal protection purposes that are not associated with the performance of official duties,” the order says. The regulation requires soldiers to conform to all federal, state and local laws. It isn’t clear whether commanders of individual installations are given authority to set local rules. “We are awaiting guidance from the Department of the Army on how this will be implemented,” Fort Bragg spokeswoman Christina Douglas told Up & Coming Weekly.










    jeff3Military Pay Raise Likely

    Congressional budget planners say they have provided for a January 2017 pay raise for service members despite a proposed four-month budget extension through April. House Appropriations staffers say that a continuing resolution they’re drafting will provide a pay raise for troops, said The Military Times. Exactly how much that will be is being negotiated. President Barack Obama suggests a 1.6 percent increase. The House of Representatives has proposed a 2.1 percent pay raise. But they’ve got to make cuts elsewhere in the budget to pay for it.  A 1.6 percent pay increase amounts to a $400 yearly pay boost for most junior enlisted troops and up to $1,500 more in annual pay for mid-career officers. Service advocates argue that a 2.1 percent pay raise would send a significant message to soldiers that the government appreciates their family finances.




  • jeff5A small group of Cumberland County Commissioners and members of Fayetteville City Council is working toward establishing a consolidated emergency communications system. The group will meet again in January after wrapping up an organizational session late last month. Two members of each body came together, along with public safety professionals, to get organized. The combined group will be known as the Joint 911 Task Force. As many as seven elected officials comprise the committee. The group of fire, police, EMS and communications professionals will do most of the work to plan a joint emergency 911 center. 

    The need for a combined facility was established several years ago, but it’s been a slow process. The city and county agreed to hire Mission Critical Partners of Raleigh to facilitate the process. The two government units have operated separate 911 centers. One is in the basement of the Cumberland County Law Enforcement Center. The city’s center is on the second floor of city hall. They do not meet current survivability standards. Since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, many jurisdictions have consolidated local 911 facilities to better serve their communities. 

    A combined facility would bring unified equipment and personnel under one roof. City and county officials have agreed to a price tag of $30 million. The facility would be located on five to ten acres of land outside the immediate Fayetteville / Fort Bragg urban area, which is considered most vulnerable to attack. It would be a fortress-like hardened building capable of withstanding a category four hurricane. A storage building and 100-foot communications tower would also be located on the site. County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe stressed that it’s important for everyone to understand the need for this facility. 

    Greensboro and Guilford County recently opened a combined 911 center, said consultant Philip Penny. At the group’s first two organizational meetings, officials appear to have settled on two properties they believe suitable for what would also serve as a consolidated emergency operations center. The favorite is the county-owned Cedar Creek Business Park on N.C. 210 one-and-a-half miles east of I-95. Mayor Nat Robertson, who serves on the task force, notes the 911 center would spur additional development at the park which has been vacant since its inception more than 10 years ago.   

    Consultants are encouraging the group to focus first on securing available state grants. The grant application period begins in March for submission in June. Awards are usually made in September, said Penny. “This project will be attractive to the state,” he added. As the task force comes to terms with the cost and location, it will turn its attention to governance when it meets next in January. Would the two agencies be merged into one, or would they work separately side by side? Consultants hope to position the group to launch whatever they come up with this time next year.

  • jason bradyI finally had enough of hypocritical ideologies plaguing my usual social media haunts on Thanksgiving morn.

    So, I did the next best thing to quench my morning reading habit. I picked up a book. Not an ebook or an on-line PDF version, but a real hardcover book with ‘smells-like-new’ pages. The title is From the Rough Side of the Mountain; Reflections of a Country Preacher. It’s a gem of a how-to-book on navigating the difficulties in life. And, there will be difficulties in life to be sure.

    Local community activist Karl W. Merritt wrote the book back in 2009. It’s about his father, a small-town African-American preacher and entrepreneur. A man who clawed his way through life back when only winners got the trophy.

    The book is part history and part biography, and it’s also about commitment to life and the human race. Karl wrote the book after collecting more than 14 years of audio-taped conversations with his father, the late Milton W. Merritt, Sr.

    Karl admits that in his early years he did not enjoy a close father-son relationship. The elder Merritt was too busy mending the world around him.

    Karl was already in the Navy when he and his father started their conversations on a deeper level. Karl is not sure how that relationship morphed into what it became. It seemed to take a new form when Karl finally out fished his father … during one of their outings on a serene lake in Albany, Ga. “It was the first day in my life where I caught more fish than Daddy. It (relationship) just caught on from there,” Karl said.

    The story starts with Milton Merritt’s early life in the late 1930s of Miller County, Ga. It’s a rural county located in the southwest corner of Georgia where the Chattahoochee River forms the border with Alabama to the west. To the south is the Florida Panhandle.

    It’s where he finished grade school. But Miller County back then didn’t have a high school for blacks. So, the African-American baptist congregation of Miller County created a school. Merritt enrolled in the First Flint River Missionary Baptist Association’s privately established high school. He refers to it as the ”Pink Shingle.”

    He paid his way through high school by cooking in the cafeteria. He also provided the school with sweet potatoes and cured meat from his family’s farm.

    It struck me: how many of our kids today would work to pay for their high school education?

    Milton Merritt understood the value of education early on. The book chronicles his efforts to achieve an education and the extraordinary lengths he would go to reach his goal. The chapter in which this narrative occurs is aptly entitled, “Determined to Succeed.” That sense of determination resonates throughout book with Merritt’s mantra of “keep on keeping on.”

    Merritt went on earn his bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in English from Savannah State College. He continued his education at Harvard and the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville. He served in Europe during World War II where he broadened his view of the world. He returned home and became a teacher and, for a time, a general contractor. His lifelong endeavor to pastor in small southwest Georgia towns defines Merritt’s character. It’s where he fought for the rights of his people during the tumultuous civil rights era of the 1960s. It’s a fight that, according to Karl, cost him both financially and socially.

    But the book is more than about a black man fighting injustices in the deep South. It’s about perseverance in the face of obstacles that life throws at you. And, more importantly, how to handle them. It’s about a time when no one ever heard of safe spaces or political correctness. You just dealt with your problems.

    In the last chapter, entitled “Counting the Cost,” Karl outlines his father’s sacrifices. The first among them is that family members will suffer. The second is that a lot of people will not join an effort that requires even little risk or sacrifice. Karl lists six more truisms that afflict those who want to make things better. They all hit home, especially now.

    This book has value. It’s a good read and will leave you with a greater perspective of life. It’s a refreshing departure from the self-serving, post-election whining you find on FaceBook or Twitter. It’s an escape from the hundreds of blogs written by unchecked malaperts on both sides of the issues.

    Contact Karl on at KarlMerritt.com and find out how to get your hands on this book. your kids. Its contents contain a valuable lesson.

  • FidelBetter late than never, Fidel Castro finally took the dirt nap and entered into the Seventh Circle of Hell over the Thanksgiving weekend. His passing set off massive celebrations in Miami and helped Carolina fans forget the loss of the football game to N.C. State. Fidel took over Cuba on New Year’s day 1959 just like in The Godfather II.The news was wall-to-wall coverage for days repeating that Fidel was sleeping with the fishes. How many times can you say “Fidel is dead” before it becomes repetitious? It reminded me of the old moon shots when Walter Cronkite would come on TV with hours to fill and nothing to say except that the rocket was on the way to the moon. The defunct National Lampoonmagazine had a running joke for years showing a picture of Spanish Dictator Francisco Franco leaning out a window waving to the crowd saying, “I’m still dead.” Same for Fidel now. All the talk about Fidel in 1959 got me wondering what else was going on then. 

    Into the Way Back Machine with Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman. Let’s cruise down memory lane to review the wonderful world of January 1959. The country of Chad became a French republic. It is unfair that Chad became a country and its singing partner Jeremy never achieved nationhood. But as Chad and Jeremy once sang, “Yesterday’s gone,” so we just move on. Alaska became a state, vindicating Seward’s Folly. Bozo the Clown debuted on TV instilling fear of clowns in generations of children. Bozo’s appearance was the direct precursor of the plague of evil clowns who have been showing up in the woods over the course of 2016. Buddy Holly released his last hit, It Doesn’t Matter. This record came out about a month before the day the music died when Buddy crossed over the Great Divide in a plane crash. Proving that there is a positive side to almost every tragedy, Don McLean later made a boatload of money with his song about Buddy’s demise, “American Pie.” American gangster Meyer Lansky, role model for Hyman Roth in The Godfather II, lammed out of Cuba a week after Castro took over. 

    French Egotist Charles DeGaulle was inaugurated as president of France, ultimately leading to the U..S Congress renaming French Fries as Freedom Fries in the Congressional lunch room. Clint Eastwood made his TV debut in the excellent western Rawhideas Rowdy Yates. A Hollywood success story, Clint went from punching cows with Gil Favor to debating an empty chair at the 2008 Republican convention. Walt Disney’s classic “women need to be rescued by their very own Prince Charming” movie, Sleeping Beautywas released teaching little girls everywhere to patiently wait for that someday when their prince will come.

    Other fun facts about the rest of 1959 included the appearance of gigantic fins on the backs of enormous American cars. Hawaii also became a state leading to a run on records of Don Ho singing “Tiny Bubbles.” The federal minimum wage was $1 an hour, which wasn’t too bad because you could buy sirloin steaks for 89 cents a pound. A loaf of bread cost 20 cents. Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zonemade its first appearance of 151 episodes, which still appear on cable each week. Other notable TV series premiering in 1959 include Bonanza, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis with the immortal snob Chatsworth Osborne Jr, Dennis the Menace and The Untouchables. 

    A number of famous folks managed to be born in 1959. Linda Blair, star and possessee of The Exorcist and the Barbie doll along with Jason Alexander, George, of Seinfeld, was born. George is the patron saint of all politicians for making the statement, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” 1959 also saw the birth of Weird Al Yankovic. Campbell’s added Tomato Rice soup to its menu of canned delicacies. Tang, the drink of choice for astronauts, first tickled the taste buds of Americans. 

    Unfortunately, a number of deaths occurred in 1959. Cecil B. DeMille had a spectacular heart attack. Max Baer, Sr. also checked in through the cardiac hotel. Max Sr. was the father of Max Baer, Jr who starred as Jethro Bodine of the Beverly Hillbillies. Jethro was famous for sitting by the cement pond pondering his multiple career options of being a double naught spy, a fry cook or a brain surgeon. The wheatback penny disappeared from circulation being replaced on the reverse side of Honest Abe with the Lincoln Memorial. 

    Other than the appearance of tomato rice soup and fins on cars, there were a lot of things that happened in 1959, and not all of them were good.

  • MargaretNo doubt about it! This has been, and continues to be, one crazy year. Whether you were thrilled or devastated by the outcome of the 2016 elections, almost all of us can agree that it was a year — and more — replete with twists and turns and a grand finale that took even pollsters by surprise. And, a la Al Franken’s first U.S. Senate race in Minnesota, some races are still too close to call, leaving everyone from candidates to voters in governmental limbo.

    Elections were not the only weird situations this year, though.

    Take the concept of global warming. It matters not whether one is fur it or agin it, global warming is a fact. Average temperatures are heading up, ice is melting and oceans are rising. Scientific numbers are indisputable in that regard. What is at issue is why this is happening — whether warming temperatures are caused by human activities or whether they are just part of some natural weather cycle that has not been seen in so many thousands or millions of years that we really do not know about it. It is also possible that both are factors.

    We persist, however, in talking about global warming as if it were up for debate. We have turned it into a political issue as if any of our elected officials of any partisan stripe can do a darn thing about it. All we can do about it is react to it, and some of us continue to pretend it is not happening when it clearly is. It reminds me of the Precious Jewel who repeatedly denied eating contraband cookies when he had chocolate crumbs all over this face.

    If the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys, then Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel could be thought of as large boys. On Veteran’s Day weekend, a group of bikers, vets themselves, found The Boss alongside a New Jersey roadway, a broken down motorcycle by his side. It was a no go getting the downed bike going again, so The Boss hopped on the back of one of his rescuers’ bikes and rode off to a local watering hole until his ride arrived to take him home. Elsewhere, Springsteen’s friend Billy Joel heard the news and thought, “Oh, dear!” or something along that line. He called The Boss to ask whether the offending bike was the one Joel, also a biker, had built and given to his great chum. Indeed it was, though that particular motorcycle was obviously not born to run.

    Thanksgiving weekend found The Boss and Joel performing together at Madison Square Garden, where Joel told the audience “no good deed goes unpunished.”

    And, finally, did you hear about the Jacksonville, N.C. holiday parade? 

    Like countless such parades across the nation, local businesses fielded floats populated by beauty queens, cute as bugs-in-rugs children and waving Santas. Jacksonville’s parade had an unusual entry from Studio 360 Pole Fitness, Dance and Gym. No adorable tots or jolly Santas on that float, though. Instead there were — you guessed it! — pole dancers. Studio 360 owner, Brianna Jones, says the float did exactly what she wanted it to do — got folks talking about pole fitness.

    Owens says she has lost over 100 pounds through pole fitness, and while that may be true, not everyone found the float family friendly. The News and Observer quoted a church youth minister as saying he had to avert his little ones’ eyes lest they spot something they should not. 

    Meanwhile, Owens informed N&O columnist Barry Sanders that the float was educational, introducing parade watchers to pole fitness. She is even planning a “mommy and me” pole fitness class, though I am relieved I never had to confront that particular option. She concedes that some of her students are exotic dancers honing their skills and reminds us that that many dancers have other titles, like “wife” and “mom.” Owens told Saunders pole fitness can benefit anyone, including the Pole Dance American 2013 champion, a guy, whom she coached to the top prize.

    Saunders, one of my favorite columnists with a wry and clever sense of humor, penned this little ditty after his interview with Owens.

    “T’was the night before Christmas and Grampa was feeling quite chipper

    “He was in the next room entertaining some strippers

    “I crept as quiet as a mouse and peered through the keyhole

    “And to my surprise they were all on a pole.

    “They were pirouetting and twerking, they were shaking and such

    “Too bad I didn’t have any pearls I could clutch.

    “I ran down the hall yelling for grandma to come see

    “But when I told on Grampa she just laughed at me

    “Your grampa may be old, she said, and he’s sowed his last oat

    “At least I thought he had until he saw that darned float.”

    Remember, there are Marines of all ages in Jacksonville.

  • PubPenForward Ho!!  No doubt about it, this community has much to look forward to. The groundwork has been laid for a myriad of projects that will make a real difference in the quality of life for local citizens. However, we must be prepared and capable of mobilizing and utilizing our resources, time and talent in the most positive and productive way to bring these to fruition. This means assessing our options and opportunities countywide to achieve a better community and getting into the proper mindset and achieving these objectives in a timely manner. Sure, it will take hard work, a forward-thinking group of leaders and, most of all, cooperation between our city and county elected officials who will need to focus on the opportunities at hand. Both would be well advised to stop playing “old school” politics where important leadership positions are concerned. Currently, many observers are scratching their heads at the county’s recent assignments and appointments, perceiving them as gratuitous “go along to get along” entitlements. Not good. To move Fayetteville and Cumberland County forward, both entities must come to grips with 21st century realities that will directly impact this community’s future. 

    There is so much to do and so many needs that should be addressed. And, we need to do it –  NOW! It begs the question: What are they waiting for? They, of course, being our city and county elected officials and staff. Does anyone in local government realize that at the snail’s pace we are operating at to address local issues that a child born in January 2017 will be in high school before the completion of projects already approved or deemed vital for the success and betterment of the community: i.e. splash pads, tennis courts, athletic fields, senior centers, swimming pools, river parks, a baseball stadium, a downtown performing arts center (or new Crown Theatre), the  Civil War History Center, a 911 consolidated call center,  storm water-sewer extensions and, in view of the sheriff’s recent retirement,  consideration and feasibility of countywide policing? Whew! 

    Again, what are they waiting for? My final point: We need jobs! We need business and industry. We need to reverse Cumberland County’s declining population trend. We desperately need to attract economic development, and we need to set priorities. Now. Does anyone really think splash pads will attract businesses and economic development to our community? Or, that industry will locate here on the “if we build it, they will come” promise of a performing arts center? The answer is no! 

    We need new energy and a strategy from our leadership. We need new ideas. We need people with vision who are focused on doing things and getting things done. And, we need to replace those elected officials whose definition of success is making sure we maintain status quo, meaning everything stays the same. Well, that’s pretty poor foresight and neglective pathetic management. We deserve better and should demand better. Vision 2026 is a movement in the making. Its purpose is to accelerate these essential projects, to recognize and acknowledged true leadership and to hold the rest accountable. Vision 2026: The time is now. Stay tuned. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly

  • Elections Voting BoothCumberland County Board of Elections Director Terri Robertson is retiring at the end of December after serving as director since 2001. Robertson, who first joined the department in 1994, has worked through 48 total elections — five being presidential elections.

    “It was only going to be a couple of weeks, but I’m still here,” Robertson said. “I’ve just enjoyed working for Cumberland County Government.”

    The Board of Elections appointed Administrative Coordinator Angie Amaro as the interim director effective Jan. 1, 2022.

    The director position is open and people can apply. The position is posted under the Jobs tab on the County’s website at cumberlandcountync.gov.

  • Hope Mills logoThe Town of Hope Mills has established a partnership with the YMCA of the Sandhills for an indoor aquatic center in the town. The board of commissioners voted unanimously Dec. 20 in favor of the facility following an address by YMCA CEO Rick Houp.

    The town board also received good news from architect Scott Garner on the development of the John Hodges Public Safety Center. Garner said the facility is about 60% completed. He said construction is on schedule and within the budget. The public safety center will house Hope Mills fire and police departments. It is named for the town’s longtime police chief John Hodges who served as chief for 23 years. He died last year at the age of 84.

    A new police chief will soon step up in Hope Mills. Stephen Dollinger, Chief of the St. Pauls Police Department, will succeed Joel Acciardo. The Hope Mills Police Department has 42 sworn officers, more than twice the size of the agency Dollinger is leaving.

  • FTTCC Topping OutA new 24,000-square-foot building at Fayetteville Technical Community College is closer to being finished. The new state-of-the-art FTCC-Cumberland County Regional Fire and Rescue Training Center will house classrooms, offices and simulation labs which will serve as a state-of-the-art training for local and regional firefighters.

    The North Carolina General Assembly recognized the project’s significance in its most recent session, allocating $20 million over two years for its next phase.

    Besides the classroom and office building, the project’s first phase will include a four-story training tower and a three-story burn building where live burning exercises can be conducted. State and county officials and other dignitaries signed their names to a steel beam, then watched as the beam was hoisted and installed in a building that will anchor the FTCC-Cumberland County Regional Fire & Rescue Training Center.

    The steel beam that was signed as part of a traditional “Topping Out” ceremony earlier this month was the last beam to be installed in this building. Several local and state officials came to sign the beam. Those officials included N.C. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, N.C. Sen. Kirk deViere, N.C. Rep. John Szoka, Cumberland County Commissioners Glenn Adams, Jimmy Keefe and Michael Boose, and N.C. Community College System President Thomas Stith, as well as fire chiefs from several local departments.

    “This center will provide hands-on specialized training in a wide variety of emergency situations,” FTCC President Dr. Larry Keen said. “Firefighters and first responders will be able to do their jobs more effectively and safely and their training will pay dividends to the people they are able to help.”

  • night circusEditor's Note: This article was updated on Dec. 31 to reflect the new face mask guidance of the event.

    "The circus arrives without warning," writes Erin Morgenstern in her New York Times bestselling book, "The Night Circus."

    At dusk, on Dec. 31st, on the lawn of Festival Park, just a stone's throw from downtown Fayetteville, the circus is coming to town. This circus will not be the regular circus with striped tents, clowns or elephants but rather a night circus. With it comes fire breathers, jugglers, stilt walkers and an assortment of food and spirits — enough entertainment to keep curiosity peaked and crowds amped.

    This New Year's Eve, the Night Circus will be open, but it will open for one night only.

    The saying goes, nothing good happens after 10 p.m. However, in this case, for this one night, Bianca Shoneman, President and CEO of Cool Spring Downtown District, promises this won't be the case. The Cool Spring Downtown District and the City of Fayetteville are throwing a New Year's Eve party to remember.

    Night Circus: A District New Year's Eve Spectacular is set to be a night full of fantastical artists, food and throwback tunes for all the '90s music lovers out there.

    Shoneman says a New Year's Eve event of this magnitude has not happened in more than a decade. This event will include a '90s dance party that starts around 10 p.m. with headliners Coolio, Rob Base, C + C Music Factory and All-4-One.

    "We felt like we could all use some good cheer," Shoneman said. "I think the goal of the city council is to create a new tradition … We were looking to do something different than the standard festival you might see."

    And, according to Shoneman, it takes a lot of money to pull off an event like this — $165,000, to be exact. Part of allocating those funds includes commissioning a long-term asset, an 18-foot star, that will be raised to the sky on New Year's Eve.

    "Since we represent the Can-Do City, instead of dropping something like many communities do, we are going to lift the star because we have an up-and-coming spirit."

    The plan this New Year's Eve is to lift the star 110 feet into the air at the stroke of midnight, and simultaneously, fireworks will ignite, and a sign that reads America's Can-Do City will light up.

    The star was constructed by local sign makers, Blashfield Sign Company. Owner, Matt Blashfield, noted that the star is an odd one-of-a-kind item, very precise in design and construction and at times, production was arduous.

    The star itself took 45 days and $45,000 to construct and is exactly 18-feet tall from each point on the star.

    "It was a challenge with all the material and shipping delays the world is experiencing … We did this thing together. It was the epitome of teamwork," Blashfield said.

    The City officials hope this event will foster a sense of community and ignite a new annual tradition for Cumberland County.

    Tammy Thurman, Senior Community and Local Government Manager for Piedmont Natural Gas, a sponsor of the event, explained that in contrast, community members are used to traveling and watching other cities and states celebrate the new year; the community can now celebrate it in their own city.

    This addition to Fayetteville's livability is just the sort of thing Shoneman said she and others who work for the city aim to achieve.

    "People are starting to believe in the life, work, play, shop here … this notion of creating a great place to live that we've been working on for years. The city is creating a more livable community," Shoneman said.

    They have also planned a smaller; no fireworks included, star lift around 9 p.m. for those families with little ones they want to tuck safely into bed before midnight.

    This portion of the night will incorporate music from local DJs, including Fayetteville's only female turntablist, DJ Miracle. At 10 p.m., the other musicians will take over, and the music will change. Shoneman and others are hoping the event will be well-attended. If it is, she says they are looking to use the Night Circus in years to come.

    "At this point, we hope the theme sticks. It's such a good theme. I hope it's well-received," she said.

    The event will include carnival games, LED jugglers, fire breathers, magicians, aerialists, a Ferris Wheel and a carousel. There will be 11 food providers, and three beer tents and champagne bottles will be available for purchase. Food trucks and wine and beer vendors will take both cards and cash.

    Night Circus will start at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 and run until 12:30 a.m. January 1, 2022. The event is free to all. Mechanical rides and carnival games will also be available for a fee. Attendees can find parking in service lots around downtown Fayetteville for $5.

    There will also be a free shuttle running from Fort Bragg to the event from 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. For additional information on the event call 910-223-1089.

    Face masks will be required upon entry to the event. 22,000 face masks will be available to attendees who do not bring their own. The face masks were donated to the event by an anonymous donor and the Cape Fear Valley Regional Hospital. Non-vaccinated attendees are encouraged to take a COVID test within 24 hours of the event. Vaccinated attendees are encouraged to provide proof of vaccination.

  • Pitt DickeyHi there, calendar fans. Once again, it's the most wonderful time of the year, the blur between Christmas and New Year's Day. Time for the annual column wishing a happy 100th birthday to the year that reaches the century mark. Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, 1922 will be celebrating its 100th birthday during all of 2022. 1922 was a year chock full o' nuts and surprises, some of which still resonate today. For example, Betty White, America's sweetheart, was born on January 17, 1922. She hits the big triple digits in 2022.

    In January 1922, Fred Banting celebrated the first successful use of insulin for diabetes. One hundred years later, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi have over 90% of the insulin market. They have been jacking up the price ever since. Old Fred would turn over in his grave if he knew what had happened to his invention. January 1922 wasn't all bad news as the first patent for Eskimo Pie was issued.

    In February, James Joyce published "Ulysses," a literary masterpiece, that no one reads. Zillions more people have eaten Eskimo Pies than have read "Ulysses." Fun fact, in 2021, Eskimo Pie changed its name to Edy's Pie in a fit of wokeness. It tastes the same, but the name has changed to protect the sensitive. March brought the silent horror film "Nosferatu" to the silver screen, spawning a gusher of vampire movies that continues to this day. April brought the Tea Pot Dome scandal to the administration of President Warren G. Harding, possibly leading to the phrase "a tempest in a teapot." May saw the beginning of construction at Yankee Stadium, which became the home of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, culminating in George Steinbrenner hiring George Costanza as Assistant to the Traveling Secretary of the Yankees. World events took most of the summer of 1922 off, resuming with some exciting happenings in November when the Ottoman Empire was defeated, ending over 600 years of rule by a kingdom based on footstools. In November, Howard Carter and his archeologists discovered the tomb of King Tut, which had lain undisturbed for more than 3000 years. Desecration of Tut's tomb led to the unleashing of the Curse of King Tut, causing many of the Carter party to die mysteriously shortly after waking the dead. These deaths spawned numerous horror movies involving mummies and Boris Karloff. Steve Martin performed a musical tribute to Tut, singing and dancing his way into your heart doing the "King Tut Strut." Ponder some of Mr. Martin's elegant lines eulogizing King Tut:

    Buried with a donkey
    He's my favorite honkey
    Born in Arizona
    Moved to Babylonia
    Dancing' by the Nile
    The ladies love his style
    Rockin' for a mile
    He ate a crocodile.

    Archeology doesn't get any funkier than this. Thanks, Steve, for keeping King Tut real.

    1922 brought several famous people into the world. It also brought more non-famous into creation; the non-famous ones are too numerous to name, but rest assured they were out there. America's most famous bald detective Telly Savalas came into the world in January. Audrey Meadows, who became famous as Ralph Kramden's wife Alice on "The Honeymooners," arrived in February. Ralph's constant threats to knock Alice to the moon jangle in light of today's standards, but in the 1950s, everybody laughed. March was a big month for famous babies: William Gaines, who became the publisher of Mad Magazine and spiritual father of Alfred E. Newman of What Me Worry fame, first drew breath in March. Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, arrived in March. Jack Kerouac, the author of "On the Road" and proto-type beatnik, showed up in March. Another March baby was Russ Meyer, who produced classic adult movies like "Faster Pussy Cat! Kill, Kill," "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," "Mudhoney," "MotorPsycho," "Amazon Women on the Moon" and "The Immoral Mr. Teas." They don't write titles like that anymore. April brought us Doris Day, on-screen girlfriend of Rock Hudson. Other April babies included Gale Storm, Barbara Hale, Perry Mason's paralegal, and Jack Klugman, the sloppy half of "The Odd Couple." May produced Nancy Walker, AKA Jane Hathaway, on "The Beverly Hillbillies." Judy Garland from the "Wizard of Oz" appeared in June.

    George McGovern appeared in July just in time to cause Richard Nixon to order the Watergate burglary. Yvonne DeCarlo, who played Mrs. Herman Munster, was a September baby. Charles Schultz of "Peanuts" fame emerged in November.

    Saving the best for last, Redd Foxx of "Sanford and Son" came along in December. When things would go wrong, Redd would fake having a heart attack, clutch his chest, look heavenward, and announce: "Elizabeth, I'm coming to join you. It's the big one!"

    So, there you have it. 1922 was a swell year. It has a lot of candles on its birthday cake.

    If you consume an adult beverage on New Year's Eve, kindly raise a glass to 1922.

  • Fayetteville New SignsThe Fayetteville City Council adopted new designs for the City flag and seal that align with the Can Do Carolina regional brand. The flag and seal are the latest changes in a phased approach to follow the Can Do brand. Recent new City Hall signage and new Fayetteville Area System of Transit buses have undergone a new look as well.

    "The new look of the City and branding partners provide a collective vision for driving Fayetteville’s identity into the future," the city's press release stated.

  • Botanical CampsCape Fear Botanical Garden is located just two miles from downtown Fayetteville and opened its doors in 1989. Situated between the Cape Fear River and Cross Creek. The Cape Fear Botanical Garden offers educational opportunities for kids and adults, including day camps for kids. Camps are not just a summer happening. Three winter camps are being offered this January.

    The Cape Fear Botanical Garden describes them as follows:

    Trail Blazers
    Trail Blazers takes place on January 3rd, 2022, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. This day camp is for children ages 8-12. Children will enjoy a treasure hunt and utilize their Trail Blazing skills. These skills include using a compass and reading a map. The children will also hike the River Trail.

    Oddball Animals
    There are all kinds of children with all sorts of interests. Oddball Animals is designed to expose children ages 5-10 years old to a range of wild and wonderful critters. This winter day camp takes place on January 4th, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some of the oddball animals include salamanders, millipedes and more. In addition to meeting live animals and looking for animals in the garden, participants will create their own wacky creatures.

    Tooth and Claw
    Ever wonder about how the largest predators hunt and where they live? On January 17th, 2022, this winter break camp from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. explores this and more. Created for kids ages 8-12, children learn to tell a predator by its teeth. Campers will explore adaptations of predatory birds and will make bear and wolf track molds to take home with them.

    Barbara Goldentyer has worked at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden for two and a half years. She's the environmental education manager.

    "The Day Camps are fun because we have so many engaging activities like science experiments, live animals and outdoor games," said Goldentyer.
    Camps are currently closing registration at 15 campers for each camp, and there are always at least two staff members supervising the camps.

    "I would encourage kids to come to a day camp to find out how fun science can be and to explore amazing unique activities," Goldentyer said. "We add new camp themes and activities all the time, so there's always something new and something for every kid's interests. We also have almost 80 acres out in the garden to explore, so campers get to walk through a bamboo tunnel, plant things in the vegetable garden, feed the fish and look for animal tracks."

    The cost for winter camps is $20 for members and $30 for non-members. Themed snacks are provided, but campers need to bring a lunch. Preregistration is required for these events.

    Camps fill quickly, so sign up at your earliest convenience on the Cape Fear Botanical Garden website calendar at this link: www.capefearbg.org/event/. For Additional information call 910-486-0221.

  • Murchison ChoiceThe city of Fayetteville’s Economic & Community Development Department administers the federal government’s Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnership Grant. The Department primarily focuses on small business assistance, affordable housing development, and strategic real estate development.

    In December of 2020, the City of Fayetteville, in partnership with the Fayetteville Metropolitan Housing Authority, was awarded a HUD Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant for the Murchison Road neighborhood. The City and FMHA are working with residents and a variety of community stakeholders including nonprofits, faith-based organizations and businesses to create a transformation plan. City councilman D.J. Haire grew up in the neighborhood.

    “I always felt that Murchison Road was playing catch up to some of the major corridors that we have within the city," Haire said. "We can do all the work we're doing but if we're not supporting and enhancing the communities that surround the corridor...then we're really not doing the full job.”

    The plan is centered on replacing FMHA’s Murchison Townhouses, which include 60 units of public housing.

    The development is over 50 years old with many buildings in poor condition. The Murchison Road corridor has several physical structures that do not meet local building code standards. Businesses along Murchison Road have also suffered in recent decades as the neighborhood has declined. The planning process kicked off in early 2021 and will be completed in late 2022.

  • Pay MoreThis conversation happens during most elections in North Carolina since members of the General Assembly run every two years. Perhaps the 170 elected legislators who fund North Carolina’s governmental operations, enact laws that require us to take some actions and not to take others, and — increasingly, steer public policy — should get a raise.

    North Carolinians have long prided ourselves on our “citizen legislature,” a body to which most anyone at least 25 years old could, at least theoretically, get themselves elected. This belief stems from the days when the General Assembly met in odd-numbered years in what was called the “long session” and in which most of the body’s work was done, and a “short session” in the even-numbered years which mostly cleaned up work from the prior session. Legislating was, again, at least theoretically, a part-time job.

    If that were ever true, it certainly is not now.

    The General Assembly meets almost year-round at the direction — some would say whim — of legislative leadership. Such a schedule makes it difficult, if not impossible, for members to hold down regular jobs and wreaks havoc on their personal lives. And, for this, they are paid $13,952 annually, one of the lowest legislative salaries in the nation and which has not been raised since 1995. Think for a moment how you and your family would be doing if your pay had not budged in nearly three decades. And your reimbursement for daily food and lodging in an expensive city, like Raleigh, is a miserly $104 per day when the General Assembly is in session. Legislators have been known to sleep in their offices and cars and camp out at the state fairgrounds. As Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper puts it, the situation “selects for certain kinds of people, and those are people with money and flexibility.”

    The result of this unaddressed situation is that even though we like to think of our legislature as a citizen legislature, it is a myth.

    Ordinary folks cannot afford to run for these positions, much less serve in them. That means that the North Carolina General Assembly is composed of independently wealthy individuals who are not dependent on a regular paycheck. Individuals who have spouses who support them or employers willing to work with their erratic legislative schedules, not always for all the right reasons. Only a handful of current sitting legislators have regular jobs, children in public schools and shared family responsibilities.
    In short, they are not average North Carolinians.

    The reason for this ongoing craziness is that legislators do not want to be on record voting to give themselves a raise. They have nightmares about the mailers and TV ads political opponents would run against them in the next election if they did so. This means the General Assembly continues to skew older, wealthier and less representative.

    The U.S. Congress took care of this issue for its members years ago by initiating cost of living raises linked to thousands of other high-ranking federal positions. These raises do not have to be voted on, although they can be stopped if Congress chooses, which it has done occasionally. This means that people of relatively ordinary means can and do serve in our U.S. Congress.

    Until the North Carolina General Assembly discovers its collective courage and addresses its salary issue in some form — an actual raise, a raise tied to a cost of living index, or a commission to set its salary perhaps, North Carolinians will continue to get the representation we pay for, or in this instance, do not pay for.

    With luck and a healthy dose of legislative fortitude, this could happen in 2022.

  • fitnessDuring the winter months in NC, exercising outdoors can bring a roller coaster of temperatures from one day to the next. Sunny and sixty can quickly turn into cold and forty in twenty-four hours. Colder months can bring an invigorating workout for those that like to hike, walk, run or enjoy winter activities such as skiing, cross country skiing and snowboarding. Even though the temperature may drop, it does not mean that you must bring your workouts indoors. The falling temperatures in the thirties and forties or less should not stop your outdoor activities. There are benefits from winter exercise that are different than the summer. In colder weather, you sweat less, spend less energy, and your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, which is beneficial for a more efficient workout.

    It can also be a mood booster and help replenish vitamin D levels in the skin. Wintry weather can also help max out that caloric burn. When your body is working hard to stay warm, your metabolism is kicked up into burning more calories. However, frigid air can irritate the lungs and is more difficult for those that have asthma. Cold air entering the airways can induce asthma flare-ups. Breathing in through the nose rather than the mouth warms the air before it reaches your lungs. Consult with your physician if you have health questions. Winter activities can be beneficial for almost everyone, and with a bit of planning, outdoor workouts can be refreshing and invigorating. The approach to winter activities is a little different than summer in the way we should dress and warm up.

    A warmup is essential for your muscles and tissues to avoid strains and injuries. Your warmup should begin indoors, including arm circles, arm swings, stepping in place and lunges.

    Think what it would be like for your muscles if you jumped into freezing water and how your body would react.

    While not quite as extreme as jumping out into the cold for an activity, your body needs blood flow for joints and muscles. Dressing for the cold is essential for body warmth, windburn or frostbite. Dressing in layers is the best way to begin and end your activity, which allows you to remove and put back on clothing as needed. Your first layer should be a synthetic material avoiding cotton that absorbs sweat and makes you colder. The next layer should be a breathable, wind-resistant, water-resistant outer layer. Your hands and feet are vulnerable to the cold and the quickest areas for frostbite.

    Wear insulated gloves and glove liners in case you remove your gloves.

    Wool socks and caps are essential to prevent the loss of body heat, and dark glasses help with wind and glare. Wear sunscreen and use lip balm to avoid chapping.

    Our area does not usually see extreme drops in temperatures, but hypothermia can occur if your body begins to lose too much heat. Lengthy exposures without adequate clothing can result in your body losing heat faster than it can be produced. It is most likely at colder temperatures but can occur at cool temperatures above 40 degrees if a person becomes chilled from the rain. Shivering can be the first sign of hypothermia.

    Getting warm slowly, changing any wet clothes and drinking warm liquids are essential to warm the body. Enjoy the winter and treat yourself to hot cider or hot chocolate after that outdoor activity! Live, love life and stay hydrated. Baby, its cold outside.

  • Theatre FrontAfter nine months of renovation, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre is good to go. Demolition started in March, and everything is to be complete just in time for the "The Wizard of Oz" show in January.

    "We had our first indoor performance in 21 months on Dec. 4," Ashley Owen, marketing director at CFRT, said. "Our last performance inside our theater was March 15, 2020."

    The theatre's 285 seats are now wider with more legroom, but that is not all that has improved.

    "Renovation highlights include brand new seats that are wider, rows that are deeper, a brand-new sound system designed by TONY-Award winning Sound Designer Rob Kaplowitz," said Owen. "There also is a new fresh-air intake HVAC, upgraded energy-efficient lighting, new flooring, new paint and upgraded ADA accessibility. Pretty much, if you can name it, it's new."

    Marc de la Concha, the education director at CFRT, has been at the theatre for two and half years.

    "CFRT is special because of the relationship we have with our community," de la Concha said. "Whether here as audience members, class participants or volunteers, the theater is always full of people who share their love and passion for the arts."

    "People come back to the theater because our productions are the perfect blend of local and out-of-town talent. Each production that we present is an entirely new experience in terms of content, diversity and talent," de la Concha said.

    Owen agrees, "CFRT is special in so many ways. We are a professional theater that is deeply rooted in its community, and you can feel that when you walk in the front doors. It has a magical essence to it that sticks with you the entire time you're there."

    The productions at CFRT are home-grown, providing the community with unique and quality events.

    "People should come to the CFRT because the performances you see on our stage are created here and feature people who live and work in this community," Owen said.

    The theater offers unique quality shows for value and honors military and educators.

    "Depending on the show and the night you come, tickets range from $15-$32. $32 is our top ticket price.

    We have military discounts for every performance and host military appreciation nights where tickets are 25% off for service members. We also host educator appreciation nights where educators receive 25% off ticket prices," Owen said.

    Productions are not the only thing that CFRT offers the community. There are multiple classes for various ages, summer and single-day camps for children and special educational programs for military children.

    "In addition to our productions, we offer a wide range of educational opportunities for all ages," de la Concha explained.

    The CFRT has a range of programs scheduled for 2022. Based on the classic film everyone knows and loves, the 60th Anniversary Season at CFRT will kick off with "The Wizard of Oz" featuring a cast with both new and familiar faces and amazing special effects, including flying characters and pyrotechnics.

    The "Wizard of Oz" runs from January 20, 2022, to February 1, 2022. CFRT will follow that up with "Welcome to Arroyo's" (March 10 - 27, 2022),"Clue" (April 7 - 24, 2022), and "The Color Purple" (May 5 - 29, 2022.)

  • Kia AnthonySpring Lake's new mayor believes a new board of aldermen wants to see changes in government operations.

    "We need to rebuild trust in our government in the midst of a financial crisis," said Mayor Kia Anthony. The mayor and board took their oaths of office in a ceremony on Dec. 13.

    State Sen. Kirk deViere administered the oath to Anthony, an entrepreneur and director of a nonprofit group.

    She is an Army veteran and a native of Michigan but has been a Spring Lake resident for 17 years.

    On Oct. 5, North Carolina's Local Government Commission took control of Spring Lake's finances, citing years of mismanagement.

    A $1.8 million budget deficit resulted from maladministration, misappropriation of funds and budgeting issues. Anthony told Up & Coming Weekly that only one incumbent member of the board of aldermen was re-elected because of the financial situation. Anthony believes Sona Cooper was re-elected because she brought attention to concerns that the firm that conducted the town's annual financial audits had not noticed the monetary issues.

    Anthony beat two board members who challenged her and succeeded Larry Dobbins, who did not seek reelection.

    The mayor said she would devote much of her time to the part-time post.

    "I'm no stranger to a long day's work," she said.

    The new board of aldermen, in addition to Cooper, includes Robyn Chadwick, Marvin Lackman, Raul Palacious and Adrian Thompson. Chadwick was named Mayor Pro Tem.

    Questions about Spring Lake's finances first surfaced in 2015 when a resident told officials that employees and leaders had misused town-issued credit cards.

    A year later, the state auditor's office suspected problems with nearly $579,000 with town expenditures and found apparent faulty record-keeping from 2010 through 2015.

    State Treasurer Dale Folwell's office said besides the deficit, the town has outstanding debt of at least $6.7 million. He said this is by far the largest takeover in state history.

    The LGC monitors the financial well-being of more than 1,100 local government units in North Carolina.
    It had its eye on Spring Lake for a while. According to the LGC, Spring Lake permitted the expenditure of funds not in the town's General Fund budget and allowed the General Fund to fall into a deficit.

    The town's accounting system is also not compliant with state standards.

    State law says local governments and public authorities are required to have their accounts audited as soon as possible after the end of each fiscal year.

    Reports are due on Oct. 31 each year, with a grace period extension to Dec. 1. Spring Lake's audits have been at least two months late for the past five years, and the 2018 audit was 16 months late.

    Spring Lake is adjacent to Fort Bragg and is home to about 12,000 people.

  • nativityThe true meaning of Christmas. It's a phrase we often tuck into a meaningful sentence after spending too much, going too much or simply having too much on our schedule during December.

    Beyond the phrase, the true meaning of Christmas is something I want to embrace. But in all honesty, I'm not sure there's not a singular meaning that can be attached to the notion ­— or celebration — of Christmas. For those of us in the Christian faith, the celebration centers around the birth of Jesus Christ. The story itself is full of miracles and surprising answers to hard questions.

    So what is the true meaning of Christmas? For the shepherds, it meant being included. Their rough, smelly work on the outskirts of society relegated them to spending more time with each other or alone with their sheep than any time hanging out in nearby establishments. But it was these outsiders to whom the news of the Messiah's birth was first announced. Can you imagine their fear and astonishment when they were visited by an angel who told them they'd find the long-awaited savior — a baby — just down the hill in Bethlehem? If one angel wasn't enough, an entire sky full of angels singing and praising God soon joined in! Some of the lowest class of society were fully included and became messengers of the greatest thing ever to have happened.

    And Joseph. The Christmas story for him is one of obedience and loyalty. He was engaged to the young Mary, who told him she was pregnant. The cultural repercussions of the entire scenario were potentially grounds for Mary's execution. Not wanting to disgrace Mary, he planned to divorce her in private. But in a dream, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to trust Mary. The angel also told Joseph that the child should be called Jesus.

    And Mary. Think about it. She was a young, unknown girl from a small town often ridiculed. How could she have imagined what the Lord had in store for her? You can't blame her for having questions, yet she only asked one. "How?" Not "Why?" Or "When?" Just "How?"

    With the answer the angel provided, she stepped forward. She believed. She obeyed. She must have been so frightened! There was so very much at stake. Her upcoming marriage. Her reputation. Her family and its reputation. And even her life. Yet she said, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."

    Do you wonder if she ever regretted that response? Did she ever think, "What have I gotten myself into?" Perhaps she wished the angel had stayed just long enough to tell her mother, too. He had told her not to fear. Can you imagine how often she had to remind herself of that?

    What's the real meaning of Christmas for you? Is it the awe and joy of being included? The doubt and wonder of social implications? Or is it perhaps, like Mary, a humble heart willing to believe His promises and follow God's plan?

  • UNCShould the University of North Carolina System headquarters be moved from Chapel Hill to Raleigh where it could be conveniently closer to other state educational agencies and the state legislature that has ultimate control over it?

    In its recently adopted budget bill, the legislature provided for this move. Nobody argues with its power to direct such a move. But there is a widespread difference of opinion about the wisdom of this action.

    I will share some of these different views and then tell you my own thoughts.

    Respected columnist and longtime observer of North Carolina government and culture, Tom Campbell, writes that the move would be a good development. Despite disagreeing with the senate majority leader, Phil Berger, about many educational issues, Campbell thinks a university move to Raleigh would be positive.

    Even though Campbell supports the move to Raleigh, he criticizes legislators for meddling in university life, writing that “their hackles have really been raised by our state supported universities, which they contend doesn’t offer enough conservative philosophy to balance liberal teachings.”

    But after his harsh criticism of the legislature, Campbell writes “there is one initiative in which they are on the right track. Prompted by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, arguably the most powerful politician in the state, lawmakers have long wanted to move the General Administration of the UNC System out of what they consider the liberal bastion of Chapel Hill. But Berger’s reason for including $11 million for the move in the current state budget makes sense. Berger is convinced the leadership of the universities should be housed in the same building with K-12 public schools and our community colleges in order to promote closer communication and cooperation, something long discussed but never accomplished.”

    On the other hand, Art Padilla, author of “Portraits in Leadership: Six Extraordinary University Presidents,” and former UNC System associate vice president of academic affairs, recently wrote, “The move appears to be about politics and control and not about vaguely described synergies.”

    Padilla remembers the late university President William Friday’s “philosophy about institutional freedom and independence.”

    “As Mr. Friday was wont to say, the university was of the political process, but it was not in politics. In part, it is why we insisted that individual campuses not pressure the legislature on their own.”

    Padilla recognizes that “Some may think the university should be treated like another state agency.”
    But he uses Friday’s words to challenge that view. “No society can survive without an institution at its heart dealing with values, teaching the importance of history and revealing the relationship between man and nature.

    It’s there, in the beating, human heart of the university where you get sustenance for the soul, where you find out what’s making your heart sing, where you are motivated to go against the odds to do something.”

    For almost ten years in the 1980s and 90s I worked as the UNC System’s lobbyist, driving the 25 miles from Chapel Hill to Raleigh almost every day.

    That distance served the university and the people of the state. It discouraged legislators from probing directly into the day-to-day details of university or campus life and viewing it as a state education agency rather than a real university.

    Along the way, I had to respond to numerous complaints and inquiries about the political views expressed by some faculty members and activities of university-affiliated projects. But even the harshest critics usually understood that the vigorous and free conflict of ideas is part and parcel of a strong university where the preparation of a thinking citizenry goes hand in hand with the creation of new ideas and new solutions to society’s problems. I hope the legislature will do itself a favor: save money, protect the university system and keep the system’s headquarters away from Raleigh.

  • GREG WEST CCSThe Cumberland County Board of Education elected vice-chair Greg West to serve as the chairman and Deanna Jones to serve as the vice-chair of the Board for 2022.

    West will serve as the chairman for the fifth time in his 20 years of serving on the board. West will be replacing Board Chair, Alicia Chisolm.

    During the same meeting, the school board voted to not take action on a proposal to lower academic standards to allow more students to participate in extracurricular activities - a topic that’s been discussed for more than a month now. The board also voted to keep face masks in place.

  • No ExcusesHave you noticed that COVID-19 has become the most popular excuse for everything and anything since "the dog ate my homework?" Late for work? Blame it on COVID-19. Forgot your anniversary? COVID-19. Missed a deadline? COVID-19. Terrible restaurant service? COVID-19. Your car ran over the neighbor's cat? COVID-19. Yes. COVID-19, that tiny five-letter and two-number powerhouse of a word, has extraordinary exoneration powers. Well, this holiday season, there will be no excuses, COVID-19 or otherwise, for not leaving your homes. Take the necessary precautions for yourself and your family, and come out to celebrate the New Year with friends and family here in the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community. Even Mother Nature is cooperating by providing us mild spring-like temperatures. So, no excuses, folks; get ready to leave this crazy year behind and celebrate the start of 2022.

    Celebrating the New Year will be easy to do in our community.

    The City of Fayetteville, in conjunction with the Cool Spring Downtown District, is hosting Fayetteville's inaugural New Year's Eve celebration in Festival Park, The Night Circus. This spectacular event will be Fayetteville's most extensive collaboration and community event since competing for and winning the All America City recognition in 2011. (See page 2.) We will be showcasing this spectacular event in next week's edition of Up & Coming Weekly and recognizing the people, businesses and organizations who have been working diligently for months to make it possible. And, the good news is, it's a free event for the public. So, no excuses.

    This holiday edition of Up & Coming Weekly showcases the Fabulous '70s Groovy Gates Four New Year's Eve Party that is being hosted in conjunction with the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre. Though not free, this "open to the public" themed event combines nostalgia, costume and dance contests, door prizes, great food, and a '70s musical tribute by one of the most sought-after party bands in eastern North Carolina, Rivermist. They will be playing music that celebrates and defines the decade of afro hairdos, bell-bottom trousers, silk shirts and paisley headbands. It's a party in a package! (See page 13.) So, no excuses.

    Read all about these fun New Year's Eve events in Up & Coming Weekly, along with the many other celebratory events in the Fayetteville-Cumberland County community this holiday season. Our community newspaper is free, and it's online. So, no excuses!

    Happy Holidays and thank you for reading the Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper.

  • Performing arts centerThere are 18 performing arts centers in every major North Carolina city except Fayetteville.

    Cumberland County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe told Up & Coming Weekly that’s about to change, and that one may finally be on the horizon after decades of discussion.

    Talk of a new performing arts center has been ongoing for at least 20 years, with its earliest mention in the city's 2002 Renaissance Plan. Keefe has been involved in the process for more than eight years.

    The main takeaways of a survey confirmed the area's desire for a facility and showed a need for it to cater to a younger and more diverse market — that’s according to Conventions, Sports and Leisure, Executive Director, Adam Kerns. Kern’s firm conducted the study.

    Keefe said the most viable source of funding for the center would be food and beverage taxes.

    “We can do this without any additional taxation.”

    Keefe envisions a 90,000 square-foot multi-purpose center on three to four acres of city or county-owned property in downtown Fayetteville.

    “Everything is moving in the right direction for a facility to be up and running by 2025,” Keefe said.

  • Ft Bragg Training facilityThe first graduates of a new education program available at Fort Bragg will now have the training and certifications to work on BMWs.

    A newly renovated facility at Fort Bragg allows transitioning service members to receive a specialized on-base curriculum and hands-on technical training on diagnostics and technologies unique to the BMW brand.
    While renovations were happening in the fall, Fayetteville Technical Community College allowed BMW to rent a space to conduct training during September and November. The joint collaboration allowed students to stay on track and finish in the renovated space in December.

    “The Military Service Technician Education Program allows our transitioning service members to be extremely marketable candidates for rewarding careers. We are proud of the hard work and effort that our service members put into this course, and wish them the very best luck in their future endeavors,” Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Scott Pence said.

  • NYEAs legendary multi-academy award-winning costume designer Edith Head said, “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”

    And this is just what the organizers of the Gates Four Groovy New Year’s Eve Party are hoping.

    Afros, polyester, bell-bottoms, platforms and lamé, nothing is off the table.

    “People will be able to dress up and put all of the stresses of 2021 behind them,” explained Bill Bowman, Up & Coming Weekly publisher.

    Gates Four Groovy New Year’s Eve Party is the first event of this kind that the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre and the Gates Four Golf and Country Club have collaborated on, but not their first collaboration overall.
    This summer, the two organizations teamed up for the Summer Concert Series. Earlier in the year, Gates Four hosted two Fayetteville Dinner Theatre productions, "A Sinister Cabaret" and "Beyond Broadway."

    “The relationship over the last couple years is the Fayetteville Dinner Theater has partnered with Gates Four to bring more of entertainment art and culture aspect to that community,” Bowman explained.

    The Fabulous 70s Groovy New Year’s Eve Party will break the mold for both of these organizations, and the event has been carefully crafted over the past year.

    Headliners for the event, Rivermist, were booked a year in advance to ensure they would perform at the event.

    Rivermist, a Fayetteville native group, has been performing together since the summer of 2015. They have won the Up & Coming Weekly’s Best Local Band for five years in a row and were the Fayetteville Observer’s Best Local Band Reader’s Choice in 2016. Most recently, Rivermist opened for Rick Springfield on Oct. 2.

    Drummer and backup vocalist Greg Adair is already planning his costume.

    “My favorite '70s costume piece is probably the bell-bottoms, and the vest [they] are pretty cool. My hair is pretty long; I am going to poof it out and wear an afro and a peace pendant and maybe some kind of headband,” Adair said.

    The plan is to keep their music tuned to those '70s sounds. When asked what Rivermist will play for the event, Adair listed the Eagles, Earth Wind and Fire, Styx, and more. Adair says the band is all about a good time, and they will be bringing that vibe to the event.

    “We are a party band; we have fun; we are full-time players, most of us are, and we are all about having fun,” Adair said.

    The Gates Four Golf and Country Club Head Chef Patrick Riley is planning quite the spread in anticipation of the event. Guests will be able to choose from a manned prime rib carving station; a buffet touting smoked duck and hoisin purses, mini cordon bleu, hibachi beef, stuffed mushrooms and more. A wide selection of seafood will also be available with choices that range from shrimp cocktails to mini crab cakes.

    D.J. Scott James will be playing tunes and stand as the event’s MC. He will be officiating costume and dance contests—another reason to break out the bell-bottoms and platforms.

    The event will be held in the Gates Four Country Club Ballroom on Dec. 31 and will begin at 7 p.m.
    There is no end time set, so be prepared to disco dance your way into the early hours of 2022.

    Uniquely, this event will be open to the public, not just the residents and club members. The event is sponsored by Up & Coming Weekly, The River- 106.5 FM WMRV, Carolina Country radio 100.1 FM WFAY and Healy’s Wholesale.

    Anyone interested in attending the event can purchase tickets at FayettevilleDinnerTheatre.com or call 910-484-6200.

  • ToydropThe United States Veterans Corps' (USVC) is "a group of military and first responder veterans performing 'hands on' community service with a mission deployment attitude," according to their website myusvc.com. Toys For Lil Troops Program, a part of USVC, is the Guinness World Record holder for the largest number of toys donated in 24 hours.

    The goal of Toys For Lil Troops is to provide toys to the children of deployed and low-income troops. And USVC, with their Toys for Lil Troops program, plans to bring all their toy power to bear on behalf of Fayetteville area military and first responder affiliated children on Dec. 18. With the support of Skyfest, a North Carolina community festival that sports all variations of aerial displays, such as parachute demonstrations, flyovers, helicopter rappelling and memorable performances, Operation: Toy Drop is stacked for family fun success.

    The event will begin with a flyover by the Bandit Flight Team during the national anthem.

    Based out of Raleigh, the Bandit Flight Team flies vintage planes and describes themselves as "highly-trained, experienced pilots that combine their love of flying with an appreciation for vintage military aircraft."

    Next, the All Veterans Group, a group comprised of active military and veteran parachutists, will do a demonstration jump and lay the foundation for the man of the season. Santa will be next to "drop-in," but Santa won't be alone; his elves and the Grinch will be parachuting in, too.

    Toys wrapped in sacks will be dropped in from a Special Operations helicopter using special 5-foot parachutes specially sized for the task.

    The American Bombshells will entertain the crowd during the aerial demonstrations and announce giveaway winners.

    This is Operation: Toy Drop's third year; last year, the event was very different due to COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of folks walking around, it was a drive-up event.

    Amelia Smith attended Operation: Toy Drop last year with her nephews and a friend's children. Even having to drive through the event, they had a great time. "It's really is an awesome event for anybody to take the kids to," Smith said. Smith explained that the USVC set up an organized and thoughtful event despite being set up to be driven- through. With limited information from each child, including age, volunteers could choose and distribute appropriate presents for each child.

    Smith's group of kids could even hop out of the vehicle after the Grinch parachuted in to grab a few quick pictures.

    This year will be much different; hotdogs, chips and drinks will be on offer for attendees, and visitors will be able to roam the event and experience all that is on offer.

    Founder of the USVC and Toys For Lil Troops, Staff Sgt. Stan Pinkus will be in attendance with his family.

    Pinkus, who has faced some health issues, was cleared to jump in with the parachutists for the event. The organization has a special surprise planned to honor him on his upcoming eightieth birthday.

    Operation: Toy Drop will be held at Raeford Airport, located at 155 Airport Drive. The event is from 2 to 4 p.m. However, USVC President Andrew Ladner recommends attendees be on time. While the organization has secured what Ladner described as an "18 wheeler" of toys, they do go fast.

    "Be on time; the toys go fast! So, while the event says 2 p.m to 4 p.m., it starts at 2. My advice is to show up when it is says to show up," he said.

  • What NowOn Nov. 24, I wrote about how our local elected officials in Fayetteville and Cumberland County could learn a lot about cooperation and teamwork, recently demonstrated by our Cumberland County Legislative Delegation led by Chairman Rep. Billy Richardson.

    Undoubtedly, congratulations are in order to him and the other members of the delegation, Sen. Kirk deViere, Sen. Ben Clark, Rep. John Szoka, Rep. Diane Wheatley and Rep. Marvin Lucas, for their hard work and perseverance in passing North Carolina's first budget since 2018. Thanks to their efforts Fayetteville and Cumberland County will receive $412 million for projects and programs that will impact the residents of Cumberland County for decades. This money will address local infrastructure needs and funding for health care, K-12 education, broadband expansion, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville State University expansion projects, expanded medical research, etc. The tax policy portion of the new budget is pro-growth and lowers personal income tax and corporate income tax rates. And, thanks to the perseverance of Szoka and Wheatley, who were co-sponsors of House Bill 83, North Carolina Veterans' military pensions will no longer be taxed. HB 83 is a massive win for both our veterans and our state. According to Szoka, North Carolina will become more attractive to military retirees from all over the country and aid in retaining retirees here in our community. Another major budget highlight and a massive win for Fayetteville is the $59.6 million earmarked for the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center. Here we have another example of teamwork, cooperation and perseverance by project Chairman Mac Healy, Co-Chair Mary Lynn Bryan, and members of the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center's board of directors.

    This state-run venue will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to our community; create jobs, and infuse millions of dollars of economic growth and development. Undoubtedly, at $412 million, this community has never achieved success of this magnitude.

    Why and how did this happen, you may ask? Because, today, we are fortunate to have in place a dedicated local elected Cumberland County legislative delegation that understands the importance and value of teamwork. But, what about tomorrow? With the new district changes and the prospect of an additional Congressional District, our Cumberland County delegation and many of our city and county elected leadership will change, producing some new faces. Like many others, my question and concerns are whether these elected newcomers will embrace the same spirit of teamwork and cooperation when it comes to "doing the right things, for the right reasons" for the residents of Cumberland County; this is a very valid concern. After all, now that we have gained $412 million for improving our community, we must be confident that the people responsible for spending it are competent. They must have the talent, intelligence and common sense to execute their duties prudently and for their intended purposes.
    The haunting question is, will future leadership follow the bipartisan examples of our current leadership by working and cooperating to better the city, county and state? Or will they retreat to the safe havens of their self-serving "what's in it for me" silos? Only time will tell. We have much at stake here. Cumberland County is losing population, and more importantly, we are losing our young professionals to other more progressive cities. Making the community better and serving all the citizens of Cumberland County diligently and honestly should be the highest of all priorities. No one political affiliation has all the knowledge, talent or intelligence needed to move a community into prosperity. It takes everyone. It takes teamwork. As demonstrated by our current bipartisan legislative delegation, it takes working together for a common cause.

    Now is the time to pay attention to those seeking elected leadership positions. The 2022 elections have been delayed again until May 17, 2022. We should start now vetting candidates and ultimately vote for those who have a platform to better the quality of life in our community and not be just elected placeholders. We must elect honest and trustworthy leaders who understand the importance of transparency and citizen involvement. With $412 million, we have an excellent opportunity to transform Fayetteville and Cumberland County into a prosperous "Can Do" community, but only if we all work together. We must demand that our city and county elected officials work together. We must demand positive, cooperative actions and not empty promises.

    The future of the Fayetteville and Cumberland County communities is in our hands. As demonstrated over the last decade, you can be assured that we will ultimately get the kind of leadership and local government we deserve. Let's all hope that we deserve the best.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • Covid WreathToday Mr. Science ponders some of the mysteries of the universe to explain them in 25 words or less. Or maybe more. Some mysteries are more profound than others. Climb on board to take a look at things through a glass darkly.

    First Mystery: What are the actual lyrics to "Louie, Louie," the favorite song of teenage boys in the late 1960s? Louie first embedded himself into the consciousness of American youth in the version that the rock group the Kingsmen sang in 1963. Louie was written by Richard Berry way back in 1957. The song is about a Jamaican sailor who is pining for the girl he left behind. The soundtrack on the Kingsmen's version is mumbled, challenging to understand, and open to various misinterpretations. Teenagers in the 1960s, to put it mildly, chose to believe the lyrics were a bit off-color. Upon learning what the teenagers thought the lyrics were, adults freaked out at what those wild and crazy teens were singing. When teenagers knew their parents thought the song obscene, this led to an exponential increase in its popularity. The secret words in Louie were passed back and forth among high school students across the fruited plains. Concurrently with Louie's popularity, Ray Charles's song "Shake Your Tailfeather" enjoyed the same reputation for containing dirty lyrics. I personally witnessed classmates trading the secret lyrics of Tailfeather for the secret lyrics of Louie.
    The popularity of Louie led to an actual FBI investigation to determine if the Kingsmen were corrupting the morals of America's youth. The thought of middle-aged white Brylcreamed FBI agents wearing white shirts with skinny black ties having to listen to the repeated playing of Louie, Louie to determine if it was obscene gives me great comfort. For a while, radio stations refused to play Louie while he was under federal investigation. After a lengthy probe, the FBI concluded that Louie, Louie was not criminal, or at least the words could not be understood well enough to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Once Louie's name was cleared, he went on to play at the University of Washington Huskey's football games for decades. International Louie, Louie day is celebrated on April 11 each year. As to actual lyrics, no one really knows. As stated at the end of many 1950's horror movies – "There are some things that man should not know."

    Second Mystery: Why did Timmy keep falling into a well on the TV show "Lassie"? Was he a clumsy child? Did his parents Ruth and Paul Martin, tire of his weekly misadventures? Did they throw Timmy into a well only to be thwarted by Lassie repeatedly retrieving Timmy from a watery death? Did Timmy keep jumping into wells in a desperate cry for attention from his bickering parents, who were focused on ending their shell of a marriage in divorce? After Ruth left the farm, Timmy and Lassie, why did she change her name to Maureen Robinson and end up Lost in Space with the evil Dr. Zachary Smith? Once again, there is no definite answer. However, posing questions is the first step to enlightenment.

    Third Mystery: Where do the lost socks go? What do they do when they get there? It is commonplace to put an even number of socks into the washing machine only to find that you now have an uneven number of socks after the spin cycle has ceased. Should you take it personally when your socks disappear one by one? Are the socks trying to tell you something? Do you have foot odor so intense that your socks commit sockicide in the dryer? Do you need Odor Eaters Expanded Fit Insoles? Are your feet so sweaty that a mere Odor Eater Insole will not stop the smell? Do you need to go hardcore and use Odor Eater Foot Powder, Odor Eater Charcoal Foot Scrub, and Odor Eater Stink Stopper for Kids and Teens? What will you do to stop the silent tragedy of lost sock syndrome in its tracks? It's up to you. Aren't you glad you use Odor Eaters? Don't you wish everybody did? The sock you save may be your own.

    Fourth Mystery: How did this writer's Mom predict the Coronavirus more than 20 years ago? In an amazing example of mother's Christmas precognition, while decorating our Christmas tree this year, we found a COVID-19 ornament that my sainted mother made decades ago. A picture of this ornament adorns this column. It is the spitting image of the Coronavirus with the addition of a tail. The tail clearly anticipates a variety of the 'Rona that has not yet been discovered. It seems likely that the ornament represents the Upsilon variant of the Coronavirus, which is currently lurking in the lungs of some unvaxxed true believer. The mystery is how did Mom know way back in the 20th Century that the 'Rona was coming? The only answer can be that moms know everything.

    If you still have a mom, give her a hug. She sees you when you're sleeping. She knows when you're awake. She knows if you've been bad or good. But she loves you anyway. Merry Christmas.

  • Fiveash Randy 3 cropRandy Fiveash, Interim President and CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is a born leader. This is evident by the number of high-powered positions he has held within the tourism industry over the past 40 years.

    Hailing from Macon, Georgia, Fiveash is a graduate of Mercer University where he majored in political science with a double minor in history and psychology. He went on to earn a Master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University. Fiveash and his wife, Shari, have five children who live across the United States.

    His first position in the tourism industry was in Myrtle Beach. Fiveash went on to serve as executive director of the National Tourism Foundation and served in CEO positions with the Convention and Visitor Bureaus in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Arlington, Texas, Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Branson, Missouri. He was responsible for handling an annual multi-million-dollar budget as part of his job as Connecticut’s Tourism Director where he served for 13 years. Before his stint in Connecticut, Fiveash was Commissioner of Tourism for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In Kentucky, he led a successful, research-based “Kentucky Unbridled Spirit” state-branding effort, with legislative, citizen and industry support and involvement.

    In addition to his many executive director and CEO positions, Fiveash was a delegate to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism and has served in numerous leadership positions.

    These include the boards of Destinations International, National Tourism Foundation and the Mississippi River Development Association, Travel South USA, Discover New England, South Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri Convention and Visitor Bureau Associations, the Southwest Tourism Society and more.

    “I am fortunate to have been in great locations and have great experiences in all [of these] places,” Fiveash said.

    He was named the Interim President and CEO of the FACVB in May. Fiveash’s wife, Shari, took a job as the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in Fayetteville. The FACVB contacted Fiveash and asked if he would come and help.

    He will serve as the Interim President and CEO of the FACVB for an undetermined timeframe.

    “I will stay as long as they need me to and get the job done,” Fiveash said.

    FACVB’s goal is to help FACVB represent Fayetteville and Cumberland County as the strategic marketing arm of the community, for conventions, meetings, sporting events and leisure travel.

    “The great thing about Fayetteville is its diversity in people and things, from a lifestyle [and] quality of life standpoint. We have already made friends,” Fiveash said. “Everyone is very open and extremely welcoming. People are willing to give you advice, livability is phenomenal.”

    He has accomplished a lot in the seven months he has been President and CEO at FACVB.

    “I have been given relatively free reign to make changes and updates,” Fiveash said. “We never really knew who our customer was so a primary objective was to figure that out.”

    Using foundational tourism research and market survey, the FACVB is finding out who visits Fayetteville and who lives here. Stakeholders for the city share the demographics that make up their customers.

    The research will produce helpful and competitive data and is scheduled to be completed by Jan.1.

    There are some upcoming special changes to the organization.

    FACVB is hiring a new advertising team and are tracking research-based marketing. There is also rebuilding beginning at FACVB from a staffing angle; they are building a team.

    When able to, Fiveash is an adjunct instructor, teaching students about tourism.

    “I’ve been lucky that I have lived in places I have been able to teach,” Fiveash said.

  • exchangeAt a luncheon meeting at the Highland Country Club on Dec. 3, Fayetteville Exchange Club President Steve Milburn gifted five checks to five charities.

    The Exchange Club of Fayetteville is a group of local individuals and business owners that focus on youth programs, Americanism and community service within their communities.

    Milburn presented the first check to John Bantsolas, representing the Boys and Girls Club of Cumberland County.

    He is the chairman of the board for representing the Boys and Girls Club of Cumberland County.

    "Thank you all very much for your generosity," Bantsolas said as he received the giant check.

    The following organization representative, Mark Pezzella Falcon's Children's Home stood to accept a check.

    He explained that there are 101 children at the Falcon's Children's Home from Cumberland County.

    "This is going to make a big difference, Pezzella said.

    Fayetteville Urban Ministry's Jessica Cooper stood to accept a check from Milburn.

    The Fayetteville Urban Ministry has been working to support the Fayetteville community for more than 40 years and currently is composed of four programs that "provide faith, hope, love and security to the lives of thousands of Cumberland County residents," according to their website, fayurbmin.org.

    Executive Director of Operation Inasmuch, Craig Morrison, was then gifted a check.

    "Thank you, everybody, appreciate your support," Morrison said to the crowd.

    Operation Inasmuch is a religious-based community that provides support and resources to the local homeless community.

    Milburn presented the final check to Tara Martin, development and marketing director and a recent addition at the Care Clinic. The Care Clinic is a free medical clinic that provides free primary health care to eligible adults who are uninsured or have low incomes.

    The Cumberland County Foundation will amplify The $5,000 donated to each of these charities with an additional 40 cents on the dollar.

    The Cumberland County Foundation is a community organization that receives donations on behalf of Cumberland County. They then provide "essential funding to programs that enhance the quality of life of every corner of Cumberland County," according to their website, cumberlandcf.org

  • Elections Voting BoothThe North Carolina Supreme Court decided last week to suspend candidate filing for all offices for the 2022 primary election that was originally scheduled for March. The primary election will now happen on May 17, 2022.

    Any candidate whose filing has been accepted will be accepted in the May primary, subject to any court rulings that would impact that candidate's eligibility, according to the Supreme Court order. Dates for a new filing period have not been set.

    Locally, four people have filed for the Fayetteville Mayor seat. Sixteen people have filed for the nine Fayetteville City Council seats.

    The delay in the primaries are due to lawsuits over redistricting maps for congressional and state legislative districts. The lawsuits claim that the Republican-drawn district maps were unlawfully gerrymandered.

    "This order is a transparent assist to Democrats who benefit from electoral uncertainty and false narratives at the direct expense of the North Carolina people," the North Carolina GOP statement said shortly after the Supreme Court announced their decision.

    North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Bobbie Richardson said she was grateful for the pause.

    "Halting candidate filing and delaying the primary election are important steps towards ensuring North Carolina voters have the freedom to elect their representatives. Voters don’t need help from legislators to decide who represents them," Richardson's statement said.

  • WreathsApproximately 7,540 wreaths will make their way to the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake, on Dec. 18. The wreaths will be placed on the graves at the cemetery for National Wreaths Across America Day.

    What started as a quiet tribute from a wreath maker to the veterans at Arlington National Cemetery in 1992, National Wreaths Across America Day has grown in size, encompassing more than 2,500 locations in all 50 states.

    "My favorite part (of the day) is seeing the joy and hearing it in the loved ones' voices when people thank us for remembering and honoring their loved one," said Ann Provencher, Wreaths Across America coordinator for the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery.

    Provencher has been with the organization for 11 years. This year is her third year as coordinator. The local chapter of Wreaths Across America was started by Gold Star families in the area. As more help was needed, Rolling Thunder North Carolina Chapter 1 stepped in to help. Provencher also serves as the Chapter 1 Chairman of the Board.

    "It is often said a person dies twice. First when they leave this world and again when they are forgotten," she said. "Too many of our heroes no longer have family in the area, or the family members have health issues that prevent them from being able to be there in person or no living family to visit them. It's our duty to make sure they are remembered."

    Wreaths Across America's mission statement is to remember, honor and teach. They remember veterans from the Revolutionary War to present and honor veterans by laying wreaths at cemeteries across the United States. The organization teaches future generations about the cost of freedom and "the importance of honoring those who sacrificed so much to protect those freedoms," according to their website, www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. The organization's website offers downloadable activities for kids to learn the importance of honoring the nation's veterans.

    Wreaths are laid on veterans' headstones as part of the National Wreaths Across America Day ceremony, which will take place on Dec. 18 at noon at the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery; mask-wearing is encouraged for this event. This year, the ceremony will welcome Lt. Gen. Walter Gaskin, Secretary for the North Carolina Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, and the Hon. Ronald J. Rabin, retired U.S. Army Col., as guest speakers. Once the ceremony is over, attendees are invited to help place the wreaths on headstones. There is a specific way to lay the wreath, Provencher explained. The wreaths are placed at the bottom of the headstone with the ribbon at the top. The person laying the wreath should say the veteran's name out loud and pay their respects. Some of the wreaths are donated for a specific veteran by family members, and Provencher said they work hard to make sure the family members are the ones who lay the wreaths on their veteran's headstone.

    Wreaths Across America is always looking for volunteers. The Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery Wreaths Across America committee currently has five people, but Provencher said more are always welcome.

    "Just think of what we could do if more people were helping," she said.

    People are needed to help set the event up, clean up after and deliver the wreaths to the cemeteries. This year, the wreaths will be picked up at the Spring Lake Fire Department at 9 a.m. on Dec. 18 and conveyed to the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery. Trucks will be needed to help deliver more than 7,500 wreaths. Provencher stressed the importance of having enough vehicles to carry the wreaths to their destination. Rolling Thunder North Carolina and the local highway patrol will be escorting the convoy to the cemetery. Additional wreaths will be taken to the Main Post Cemetery at Fort Bragg.

    To locate a veterans cemetery where National Wreaths Across America day ceremonies take place, visit the organization's website and type in the name or location of the cemetery. Wreaths can be sponsored individually or through a sponsorship group. Sponsorship groups can be created by contacting Trish Gardner at tgardner@wreathsacrossamerica.org.

    Wreaths Across America hosts events throughout the year to help fundraise for National Wreaths Across America Day. This year, the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery Wreaths Across America group will be offering a weapon raffle. Tickets can be purchased at the ceremony on Dec. 18 and throughout the coming months. The winner will be announced at the second Annual Golf Tournament, held Apr. 2, 2022, at Anderson Creek Club Golf Course. For questions regarding the golf tournament, call Bobbi Younker, Golf Tournament Chair, at 301-752-0093.

    "One of the most asked questions we get is, why we utilize donated funds toward wreaths to place on veterans' graves instead of using it for living veterans," said Provencher. "I will share this response from Gold Star Mother Diana Unger Pitts:

    "I have thought about this over the 15 years my son has been gone. For me, it's amazing to see the living veterans' tears as they are able to place a wreath on their fallen brothers’/sisters' grave, say their name and salute them. Telling me, I promised I would never forget them. It's knowing a mother who understands her son is here, and she and her family will honor him all year while a young man just like him, killed in action many decades ago, has no living family. The mother chooses to place a wreath on that young man's grave instead of her son's because she wants to be sure she is doing [this] for his mom. Never forgetting her son's sacrifice.

    It's coming together as friends and family for the love of freedom, country, sacrifice and honor that our military provides."

  • Fire StationThe Fayetteville Fire Department has been re-accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. On Nov. 16, Fayetteville Fire Department members appeared before the commission, and the agency has been for a third consecutive time as an accredited organization. Accredited institutions protect only 12% of the United States population. Fayetteville is one of only twenty-three accredited fire departments in North Carolina.

    "As a result of this process, over three cycles of accreditation, we have identified the need for and procured additional staff, apparatus, equipment, and fire stations," said Battalion Chief John Bowen, FFD's accreditation manager.

    The CFAI program is a comprehensive self-assessment and evaluation model that enables fire and emergency service organizations to examine service levels/performance.

    "The citizens of Fayetteville are receiving faster, more efficient service as a result of our lessons learned from the accreditation process, and for us, that alone makes it worth the effort," Bowen added.

    Accreditation assures colleagues and the public that the department has definite goals and objectives appropriate for the jurisdiction served.

  • ricks placeOnce a month, military families can take a break and enjoy a day to themselves at Rick’s Place. The Rick Herrema Foundation focuses on strengthening relationships and building community for military families through fun, quality activities. They host events and fun days at Rick’s Place, a 50-acre park, to not only offer kids a place to have fun but show military families to know they aren’t alone.

    “Every month, we try to give back to families that give the most,” Vicky Jimenez, director of programs at RHF, said.

    At this special holiday-themed event, not only will hayrides, inflatables and other fun activities be available, there will also be some special winter activities. There will be hot cocoa and cookies, for decorating, and Santa Claus will be posing for pictures.

    Local food trucks are scheduled to be on-site and offer free lunches to everyone attending the event.

    Jimenez told Up & Coming Weekly that, on average, 250 families come to their monthly Fun Day events.

    However, last week she noticed that over 500 families have pre-registered.

    Those numbers are great, especially since each family will also be helping an at-risk community while having fun, she said

    “It’s the season of giving. We made it through another year with all of the ups and downs we’ve had,” Jimenez said. “We wanted to give back.”

    The Rick Herrema Foundation is partnering with the Military Luggage Company and the Fayetteville Woodpeckers to help donate 187 backpacks to local at-risk and homeless veterans.

    They are asking families attending the Holiday Family Fun Day to donate the following needed items to be put into the backpacks: new socks, toiletries, hygiene products, chapstick, warm blankets, winter coats, winter gloves, warm hats, new shoes, warm scarves, over-the-counter cold medicine and handheld first aid kits.

    True Patriot Inc. Off-Road Outreach will give out the backpacks on Jan. 10 as part of the “Backpacks for Patriots” event at Operation Inasmuch.

    This RHF event and others require volunteers. There are many volunteer opportunities, such as helping with significant events such as the Family Fun Day, but there are also hands-on opportunities like carpentry, working with horses and general labor.

    To become a volunteer, contact the volunteer coordinator at volunteer@rhfnow.org.

    The family fun day will take place on Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pre-registration is required to attend and is open only to military families.

    To register, visit rhfnow.org/event/ricks-place-holiday-family-fun-day/.

    The park is located at 5572 Shenandoah Drive. For more information, visit rhfnow.org/events or call the Rick’s Place team at 910-444-1743.

  • FSU Purple HeartThe Military Order of the Purple Heart has designated Fayetteville State University a Purple Heart University, making FSU the first university in the University of North Carolina System to receive the honor.

    "FSU has a long legacy of educating those who serve in the Armed Forces. At FSU, we lead HBCU's in military-connected student enrollment, and this honor demonstrates our deep appreciation to our military students. Our university sits right in the same city with the largest U.S. Army base in the country, and it makes us proud that our students reflect that and support that as well." Siobhan Norris, Associate Vice Chancellor for Military Affairs, said.

  • 'The Carols' intimate, endearing, packed with comedy

    carols tapThe quaintness of the Gilbert Theatre is perfectly matched for its current holiday musical, "The Carols." This play is intimate, endearing and packed with comedy.

    "The Carols" is set in 1944, when WWII is raging, and Christmas is just around the corner. With too few men in their small town, the Carol sisters have to figure out creative and "progressive" ways to continue their town's holiday musical tradition — the play "A Christmas Carol." They enlist the help of their boss at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall and a drifter in the form of a Jewish comedian to bring a ridiculous and hilariously amusing version of "A Christmas Carol" to life.

    While this play is a little left of tradition from the typical Christmas musicals and ballets, it is a welcomed journey into the antics of three quirky small-town gals in the 1940s. It combines the humor of "I Love Lucy" with heartfelt moments akin to Charlie Brown. The music, which found itself bouncing between Christmas tunes and big swing bands, added a rich depth to the story and the interlaced humor throughout.

    The sisters, Lily, Silvia and Rose Carol, are played by Eden Kinsey, Molly Hamelin and Megan Martinez, respectively. Kinsey's singing and intermixed monologues were a great addition to the play, particularly when matched against Silvia's budding dream of becoming the next feminist heroine in the county and Rose's desire to land a man and her inability to pronounce words with silent letters correctly.

    Both Hamelin and Martinez develop their characters well. Martinez's far-off looks, slap-happy smiles and general embodiment of a Marilyn Monroe-like character often stole the show. The interaction between the three characters was part of the magic that makes this show worth seeing.

    This was an exceptional pairing with Karen Williams, who played Miss Betty, a middle-aged grouch who runs the VFW hall, and Evan Bridenstine, the Jewish comedian Melvin Shaatz. Bridenstine was missed on stage when a scene did not call for his presence. While Bridenstine's character on stage was a comedian, it was clear that the actor himself knew how to deliver a line. At the back of the stage, providing all of the piano accompaniments for the show, was Katherine Anderson playing Teddy. Teddy has little to no lines in the show except for a few comedic lines at the end.

    While the play touched on heart-felt moments and serious topics, the show's true star was the humor. The neurotic and sometimes strange behaviors of the characters, embodied by the various actors, left the audience thoroughly entertained and laughing the whole way through. The serious moments paled in comparison to the main characters' tomfoolery. "The Carols" is definitely a show for those who prefer their holidays a little lighter and find the prospect of laughing through the holidays better than crying.

    Untraditional Christmas show is a hoot

    carols sistersWe've all heard the traditional classic Christmas songs and stories. They warm our hearts year after year.

    But there is a new holiday show in town – "The Carols" at the Gilbert Theater.

    The musical takes place in 1944 during World War II. All the men are away overseas taking part in the war. The three Carol sisters want to put on "A Christmas Carol," but they find themselves needing actors. They put up signs and nab Melvin, an entertainer passing through the town.

    They convince Miss Betty, a Scrooge-like woman, to participate in the sisters' show.

    Teddy plays the piano and the three Carol sisters star in their show. Eden S. Kinsey, who plays Lily, is the lead actress in "The Carols." She alternates acting with the cast and talking to the audience, moving the music forward.

    Molly Hamelin plays Sylvia. Sylvia is interested in politics, especially Eleanor Roosevelt.

    Sylvia goes as far as writing to Mrs. Roosevelt and inviting her to their Christmas show.

    All the actors are talented, but Megan Martinez, who plays Rose, steals the show. Rose is a boy-crazed young lady who wants to get married.

    She is silly, and her happiness is infectious. She had the audience laughing often.

    Rose is quirky. For example, she doesn't believe in silent letters in words, so instead of "ghost," she pronounces it "Ga-Host." The moment you forget that fact, Barnes will mispronounce a word again, making the audience laugh.

    The musical production highlights the cast's many talents. The Carol sisters' voices blend beautifully together. Lily and Melvin do a number in which they both sing and dance. It is unique because Lily tap dances, a highlight in the show for Kinsey. The Gilbert Theater, located downtown, is the perfect venue for "The Carols."

    It's intimate, and you can sit so close to the stage that you feel like you are a part of the show.

    The hairstyles and clothing are just the right fit for the play's era. Jennifer Childs wrote the book and lyrics for "The Carols."

    The music is by Monica Stephenson and was originally staged by Robyne Parrish in Pennsylvania.

    This untraditional Christmas show is a hoot.

    It is the perfect way to feel the Christmas spirit with friends and family.

    Snatch up some tickets and enjoy the show.

  • Glenn AdamsVeteran Cumberland County Commissioner Glenn Adams is the new chairman of the board. He succeeds Charles Evans. Both gentlemen face challenges in 2022. Adams' four-year term expires in the coming year and Evans will be spending a lot of his time campaigning for election to Congress. He is running as a Democrat for the newly created 4th Congressional District.

    Adams was first elected to the board of commissioners in 2014 and served once before as chairman. Commissioner Tony Stewart has been selected as vice-chair for 2022.

  • Disney on ICeDisney On Ice presents Mickey's Search Party at the Crown Coliseum on Dec. 16 through Dec. 19. Mickey and his friends go on an adventure to find Tinker Bell. Captain Hook's treasure map, which he used to capture her magic, guides Mickey to find Tinker Bell. With the help of Miguel from the Pixar movie Coco, the group crosses the Marigold Bridge, where they find the magical Land of the Dead. Here skeletons dance over the audience in a beautiful cultural celebration of family.

    Mickey and friends also visit the wintery world of Arendelle, where Elsa is building an ice palace. The audience can sing along as a kaleidoscope of crystals turns into her home.

    An enchanted chandelier will come to life over the ice as Belle is lifted into the sky. Then the audience will witness the power of teamwork when Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie recruit the Green Army Men and plan a daring rescue in Andy's room.

    In hopes that the pirates can impress Captain Hook, they flip, tumble and twist. Some of the pirates even walk on stilts. The audience will experience the fiery wrath of Te Ka on Moana's daring sailing voyage, and with the help of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, Mickey's Search Party becomes an all-out celebration.

    Getting ready for performance and saying y takes time and work. "Depending on the show and the variety of talent/skills being featured, training and building the show can take roughly two to three months," Jamie Hathaway, who plays Bo Peep, said.

    Another performed trains x days a week to keep up with the physical demands of the performance.

    "I typically practice on the ice or train in the gym six days a week," Sarah Dalton, the performer playing Moana in the show, said.

    "I, like most of my cast members, came from a competitive background. We try to stay as limber and fit, specifically cardiovascularly, as possible. I love to run around the different cities, go to yoga/pilates studios and develop my upper body strength with friends. The show incorporates aerial elements, so we've taken the extra steps to hold ourselves while being lifted in the air."

    Jaime Hathaway fell in love with the show when she was just about five years old.

    "I remember how happy it made me feel, and the outside world ceased to exist for those two magical hours," said Hathaway. "I love being a performer and having the ability to distract someone in the audience. Even if it's only a few minutes, it is worth it to me."

    Dalton also recognizes the memorable experience Disney on Ice is for small children.

    "I get to be excited over an adorable child in the front row singing her heart out to Moana with someone else. Those shared experiences are some of my favorite aspects of this job," Dalton said.
    Tickets for the show are on sale now at www.crowncoliseum.com.

  • tartanWhy are we the way we are? Can we blame it on somebody else, like the British colonists, for instance?

    By “we” I don’t mean just you and me. I don’t even include us necessarily. I am thinking about folks who live in North Carolina and the surrounding regions.

    You know the kind I mean. Hard-nosed, sometimes rebellious, resistant to direction from those who think they know it all, suspicious of people in charge, unwilling to give up individual choice to some kind of group direction.

    It is not just those anti-vaxxers who will not accept an infinitesimal risk to themselves or their children in order to reduce to great risks all of us face from the ongoing series of COVID epidemics. It is not just them whom I am talking about.

    Nor is it just the Republicans. Or the Democrats.

    Lots of us on both sides of the political divide share a common resistance to authority. How do we explain it?

    Writing in The New Yorker on Oct. 4, the author and columnist Joe Klein gave it a try, writing, “The divide between maskers and anti-maskers, vaxxers and anti-vaxxers is as old as Plymouth Rock. It is deeper than politics; it is cultural.”

    For his ideas, Klein credited a 1989 book, “Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America,” by David Hackett Fischer. This book, Klein says, “explains how the history of four centuries ago still shapes American culture and politics.”

    Focusing on the South, Klein says the original settlers were, “a wild caste of emigrants from the borderlands of Scotland and England. They brought their clannish, violent, independent culture, which had evolved over seven centuries of border warfare.”

    According to Fisher, these emigrants came from “a society of autonomous individuals who were unable to endure external control and incapable of restraining their rage against anyone who stood in the way.”

    Fisher writes that the Scots-Irish in the southern hill country were “intensely resistant to change and suspicious of ‘foreigners.’ In the early 20th century, they would become negrophobic and antisemitic.”

    Other parts of colonial America were settled by different groups.

    For instance, Klein writes about the Virginia-Cavalier tradition.

    “The Virginia definition of freedom was complex, contradictory — and remains problematic. It was hierarchical, the freedom to be unequal. ‘I am an aristocrat,’ John Randolph of Roanoke said. ‘I love liberty; I hate equality.’ Freedom was defined by what it wasn’t. It wasn’t slavery. It was the freedom to enslave. It was a freedom, granted to the plantation masters, to indulge themselves, gamble and debauch.”

    “Over time,” Klein continues, “this plutocratic libertarianism found natural allies, if strange bedfellows, in the fiercely egalitarian Scots-Irish hill country folk.

    Neither wanted to be ‘ruled’ by a strong central government.”

    Klein says things were just the opposite in New England. For the Puritans, “Everything was regulated.”

    “Order was an obsession.”

    Local officials reported “on the domestic tranquility of every family in their jurisdiction. Cotton Mather defined an ‘honorable’ person as one who was “studious, humble, patient, reserved and mortified.”

    About a different group of settlers, Klein writes that the Quakers seem an afterthought, but their migration was larger in size than that of the Puritans or Cavaliers. And their version of liberty seems most amenable today. It was ‘reciprocal freedom,’ based on the golden rule.

    Fischer notes the Scots-Irish practiced the opposite: “Do unto others as they threatened to do unto you.”

    The Scots-Irish, Virginia, Puritan, and Quaker legacies are very different and are, perhaps, diluted over the almost 300 years since these immigrants came. But the influence of each continues.

    The Scots-Irish influence in our region is still tenacious, which explains why the “Do unto others as they threatened to do unto you” rule is widely practiced by people across the political spectrum.

  • Raeford Rd sectionA $35.8 million project that will make driving and walking safer along a congested stretch of Raeford Road in west Fayetteville begins in February. A 2.1-mile section of the busy highway between Bunce and Old Raeford Roads will receive raised medians, additional turn lanes and a new storm drainage system. Sidewalks will be constructed on both sides in that locality. Intersections with no traffic signals will redirect cross-street traffic into right turns only.

    "This will be a big safety enhancement and a major investment in one of the city's busiest corridors," said Drew Cox, a DOT engineer.

    The construction contractor, Highland Paving Co. of Fayetteville, will be required to keep a minimum of four lanes open between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. when traffic volumes are higher. The project is scheduled for completion by the fall of 2024. Additional details are available on NCDOT's website.

  • Christmas Giveback Flyer"Blessings are cyclical; they will always come back in a cycle," says 22-year-old Victor "Vic Blends" Fontanez.

    Fontanez recently amassed 10 million followers on Tik-Tok's video platform and sat with mogul Nick Cannon for an in-depth interview.

    During this interview, Fontanez discussed his motivation for inspiring millions with videos during which he cuts random strangers' hair while getting to know them.

    In his interview with Cannon, Vic Blends wore a blue Fayetteville State University hoodie as an ode to his hometown, Fayetteville. The South View High School graduate believes the community is the foundation that built his career.

    "We all have big dreams, hoping to be globally known for what we do, but that starts with first being a pillar in your community," Fontanez said.

    Last year, Fontanez, along with The Two-Six project, founded by 24-year-old Morehouse College graduate Grant Bennett, provided free clothing, toys, food, and haircuts to more than 1000 families in the greater Fayetteville area with their annual Christmas Giveback.

    For Fontanez, the giveback furthers the notion that his purpose is far greater than haircuts.

    He is grateful for the amazing career and abundance of opportunity but feels it is worthless if it is not used to make an impact.

    Christmas Giveback returns this year at Segra Stadium, home of the Houston Astros affiliate, Fayetteville Woodpeckers, on Dec. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christmas Giveback will provide free haircuts, toys, clothing, food and entertainment for the community. In addition, there will be resources to assist with rent and utilities, baby needs and free cell phone service.

    "I want to show kids you can do great things, regardless of your occupation," says Fontanez.

    So, this year, he has partnered with another Fayetteville native, Grammy-nominated musical recording artist Morray.

    In an Instagram caption, Morray writes: "I love giving back to my people...I remember when I didn't have it, and I never want anyone to feel like that so we going up yall!! 2-6." He never forgets where he came from.

    Before Thanksgiving, Morray was spotted filming a music video in the same apartments where he shot the video for his megahit "Quicksand" with a crowd from his hometown. Back in August, the Morray partnered with Cora's Community Foundation to host Everybody's Family Reunion and NZone Social Venue. They distributed over 800 bookbags before the start of the school year.

    Through collaborative efforts with community partners like Cora's Community Foundation; Empact One Foundation; Serenity's Grace; and Lifeline Assistance Group, Fontanez and Bennett plan to expand on the impact of the Christmas Giveback event. This year's event is sponsored by Adidas, Nike, Jordan Brand and Yellow Crayons, to name a few. Entertainment for the entire family will include music by D.J. Ricoveli, face painting by Falcon Focus, and a number of surprises.

    For those that want to donate to Christmas Giveback, drop-off locations will be set up at the Cool Spring Downtown District’s office 222 Hay Street and Rude Awakening Coffee House at 227 Hay Street. Follow @vicblends, @twosixproject, @djricoveli, and @undergroundkeem on Instagram for more information.

    Salute to everyone involved with the Christmas Giveback and every activist getting active. Peace.

  • XMAS MUSICIt's amazing how a line, a chorus or even an entire song seems to know us better than we know ourselves — or better express what we're feeling, at the very least. The best songwriters probably have the gift of teaching.

    After celebrating several dozen Christmases here on earth, I thought I'd heard songs about the Christmas story and season sung from every possible angle. But then the song, "I Need Christmas" from Daniel Doss came along.

    Not a big name — he had some nominal success in Christian music circles in the mid-2000s and is well known around the Nashville area — but his new Christmas song is just what I was looking for this year. It’s not even new.

    He wrote and released it himself last year, but it landed on my desk on the first day of November 2021. As the song begins, the words identify with the weight we've collectively carried the past couple of years:

    I need reason again to sing

    I need peace here on earth

    I need His joy in this world

    Like I never have before

    But then it gets personal, acknowledging the questions, pain and struggles that seem to never go away.

    When the early Christians celebrated Christmas, the focus was on the birth of Christ and the true gifts He brought into this world: love, joy and peace.

    For centuries, we've crowded the season with all sorts of extra traditions and expectations. 2020 gave us a taste of a simplified Christmas. There were no parties, gifts arrived in Amazon boxes and many church services and family gatherings were celebrated through phone or computer screens.

    Despite sadness over the loss of connection, the slower pace we gained opened my eyes all the more to the true meaning of Christmas. And now — Christmas 2021, I was ready to be reminded that Jesus — Creator of the entire universe — chose to live in the world He created as one of us.

    In the Daniel Doss song he reminds us of His humanity:

    Jesus had problems, He had family

    And sometimes those were one and the same

    He had friends and, He had betrayers

    But showed us how to love them anyway

    He had vision, He had dreams

    No one understood and not many believed

    He had loved ones that passed away

    Oh it’s good to know He understands our pain

    That's what we need to hear. That's what we need to remember. Jesus has been showing us the way from the very beginning.

    So celebrate the sweet little baby in the manger, but don't stop there. Follow the baby who grows into a man showing us how to treat others with kindness, correct others in love and honor relationships at home and everywhere we go.

    Follow Him as He teaches us to trust God and His plan for man-kind. It's a journey, and somewhere along the way you'll look up and realize you've reached the point — as in the song — that we have a responsibility and say: I’ll be Christmas this year. I'll remind everyone.

  • foodWe are surrounded with the joy of the holidays, gatherings, parties, celebrations decorating and food. The thought of tasty morsels and delicate treats tempt us in every turn with commercials, magazines and social media. The famous Lucille Ball bonbons in the chocolate factory episode comes to mind as she struggles to keep up with the assembly line while devouring countless bonbons. An exaggeration but if you think about it, we tend to gobble down the once-a-year treats in a similar fashion. The average amount of calories consumed on Christmas day is from 5000 to 7,500 and that does not include the added daily consumption.

    The Holiday season is a challenging time to watch your diet but there are ways that you can have your cake and eat it, too. With a mindful approach to eating and continuing with exercise, you can enjoy the holidays and not face the extra pounds in January. A little holiday strategy can help you not to fall into food overdrive.

    Attending a holiday party? Holiday parties are enticing with lavish displays of goodies high in calories during your mealtime. Eating something before you go lessens the desire to fill the plate.

    Avoid grazing at parties. It is easy to rationalize if you did not get a plate then you are not eating as much with the one bite pickup approach. The one bite pickups quickly become more than the serving you would have enjoyed if you had gotten a plate. The joy of baking and receiving baked goods are a seasonal highlight and easy to take the approach that just one will not hurt. By the end of the day, one has turned into two or three with mounting calories.

    Enjoy your treats by cutting down on the amount you eat and try to eat them earlier in the day. While dining at home limit your portions by eating off a smaller plate such as a salad plate and, if you are dining out, take home a portion of your meal or the next day’s lunch or dinner. When ordering a dessert, opt to share with a friend or spouse. There can be a tendency to skip meals during the holidays because you are so busy. Skipping meals adds to more caloric intake when you finally eat. Carry a protein bar with you while you are on your shopping excursions and avoid that tempting drive-through for the fast food. Take a healthy food choice as your contribution to a holiday party or family gathering.

    At the hors d’oeuvres table, instead of eating that ham or turkey in a roll, pick up that protein and dip it in a sauce or roll it up with a veggie. Try to avoid continuous taste testing while you are preparing a meal or making holiday treats.

    Liquid calories in signature holiday drinks, hot chocolate and eggnog are large contributors to added calories. Enjoy your beverage with just one mindset. Drink water in a fancy glass with seasonal fruit.

    In addition to diet challenges, your fitness routine may take backstage during the season, but you can put pep in that step with a little creativity. Park further away in the shopping center and walk briskly to and from. Take the stairs when they are available or brisk walks for lesser distance and time. Runs during the holidays can be fun with themed runs and you can dance around the house to holiday music.

    Live, love, life and embrace the season by having your cake and eating it, too.

  • 82nd Airborne bandThe 82nd Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division Band and Chorus are set to host their annual Holiday Concert at the Crown Coliseum on Dec. 10. This event marks a return for the in-person performance of the Holi-day Concert; as last year, the event was an all-virtual event. In 2020 the concert was recorded in the Crown Coliseum with no live audience and released over social media.

    "We are thrilled to be bringing this event back for a live audience this year," explained Sgt. 1st Class Tyler Goodwin, band member, 82nd Airborne Division Band and Chorus.

    The Holiday Concert will feature several holiday classics. Goodwin explained that his favorite pieces scheduled for the event are "White Christmas," the "Armed Forces Ser-vice Medley," and the "Nutcracker Suite."

    "This really gives the amazing vocalists in the Chorus the chance to demonstrate their talents on a classic piece of music," Goodwin said of "White Christmas." While the "'Nutcracker Suite'" is a "beautiful arrangement [that] takes a new twist on some classic melodies and showcases virtuosity from within the band."

    Goodwin also explained that the "'Armed Forces Service Medley' is another favorite because "honoring all who have served past and pres-ent in this manner is an amazing experience and allows for a musical tribute that is both entertaining and sophisticated."

    Organizers and band members hope the community will walk away from the event with an appreciation of the 82nd Airborne Division.

    "The legacy of the Division is rich with history and important military milestones and a concert like this is meant to showcase the diversity and values that all paratroopers live by and promote," Goodwin said. "In addition, we want to celebrate the opportunity to share in the enjoyment of the holidays and live music after such a tumultuous almost two-year period."

    The 82nd Airborne Division Band and Chorus will be accompanied by four accomplished country musicians: Craig Morgan, Michael Ray, Abby Anderson and Natalie Stovall.

    "This has been a challenging year for so many, and we've asked a lot of our paratroopers and their families," said 82nd Airborne Division commanding general Maj. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue. "We've invited some of the best talent Nashville has to offer to play alongside our band and chorus as a way to give back to our families for all they've given the nation."

    A world-renowned fiddler and Grand Ole Opry on-air personality, Natalie Stovall, will serve as hostess for the event. Stovall was also a contestant on season 13 of NBC's"The Voice." While Stovall did not win the competition, she has continued to reach audiences through solo and group performances.

    Craig Morgan, originally from Tennessee, is a U.S. Army veteran. Morgan served as a forward observer and started his musical career in 2000. He has charted 17 times over the years. His song "That's What I Love About Sundays" topped charts for four weeks in 2006. Also, in 2006, Morgan was awarded the USO Merit Award for his tireless support of U.S. soldiers and their families. Morgan told American Songwriter Magazine, "Because I have been there, I can appreciate that and have the ability to communicate with them a little differently."

    Michael Ray originated from Florida and began his country music career in 2010. His most recent album, "Whiskey in the Rain," was released in September of this year.

    Country music personality, Abby Anderson, debuted her musical career at the age of 16 on the Glen Beck show and moved to Nashville after graduating high school in Texas when she was 17 years old. Anderson has performed at the Country Music Awards and has received multiple musical accolades.

    Santa will also be at the show and sitting for photos with children from 4 to 6 p.m. The country music performers will be in attendance at a meet-and-greet and take photos with fans from 5 to 6 p.m.

    In accordance with Cumberland County mandates, ticket holders must show their COVID-19 vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test from 72 hours before the event. Masks will be required while in the venue. All tickets are free and available to Fort Bragg soldiers, their families and the general public.

    Tickets will be distributed to soldiers and their families through their units. To inquire about and reserve tickets, the general public is asked to contact WKML 95.7 at www.wkml.com or call 910-496-2000.

  • City Hall FayettevilleHigher wages and bonuses may turn around recruiting and retention issues in the Fayetteville Police Department. The starting salary for officers who enter the Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy will be $41,500 beginning Jan. 3. When the recruits graduate and begin field training the salary goes up to $43,500. The current starting wage is $38,000. It used to be that potential officers weren’t paid during academy training. New recruits will also receive $4,000 bonuses if they make commitments to spend at least two years on the force.

    City council was briefed on Dec. 2 by Police Chief Gina Hawkins and Captain Todd Joyce who oversees recruiting. Joyce told the council that of the 433 authorized positions for sworn officers, there are 57 vacancies. Joyce said last year’s COVID-19 pandemic created a significant setback, but that “2021 has been the most diverse year in our hiring.”

    AXIOS has noted that interest in law enforcement careers is down. Applications for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department were down 26% during the first four months of 2021 compared to the same period last year. Fayetteville City Council members were generally supportive of the local agency.

    “We’re doing the best with what we’ve got,” said Mayor Mitch Colvin.

    While crime is down for the most part, homicides are up. According to police files, the record for annual murders was 33 in 1993. So far this year there have been 44 homicides.

  • woodpecker lightsSegra Stadium is preparing to be jam-packed with tens of thousands of holiday lights for two weekends in December.

    Fayetteville Holiday Lights, presented by the Fayetteville Woodpeckers and AEVEX Aero-space, invites people to walk through the baseball stadium to see not just light displays but different themes each night. Fayetteville Holiday Lights will be the first event of its kind at Segra Stadium.

    Pete Subsara, the assistant general manager of the Wood-peckers, says that they found inspiration from their sister base-ball team, the Houston Astros. The Astros also do a holiday light display that runs for approximately two months. While it won't run for as long, Subsara hopes people will enjoy the new Fayetteville Holiday Lights event.

    "We just want to bring something downtown that families and people visiting their loved ones can go do," Subsara said.

    Each night will have a different theme. On Dec. 9, the Wood-peckers will host an opening night ceremony with an 18-foot tree lighting. Dec. 10 and 19, the Woodpeckers will feature fireworks around at 8 p.m. Local merchants and vendors will be selling their items market-style along the concourse, Dec. 11. On Dec. 12, Princesses Tiana, Belle and Cinderella will make an appearance. On Dec. 16, there will be drink specials. Dog Day is on Dec. 17; visiting fur parents should be sure to bring shot records, a requirement for the dogs to enter the stadium. Queens Anna and Elsa will make an appearance on Dec. 18. Santa will be in attendance each night and available for free pictures.

    While the lights themselves are something to enjoy, Fayetteville Holiday Lights is also an event that gives back to families. Community members and organizations can participate in "Trees for Charity." Organizations will partner with a local non-profit of their choice to decorate a tree. Throughout the event, people who attend can vote on the best-decorated tree. The tree voted best decorated will receive $2,000 for their designated non-profit. The second place will receive $1,500, and the third place will receive $1,000.Following the event, the Wood-peckers will donate the trees to families in need during the holiday season.

    Subsara says he is expecting 15,000 people total to attend the eight-night event.

    Adult tickets are $10 and chil-dren’s tickets are $8 if purchased in advance. Tickets will go up by $2 if purchased on the day of attendance. All current or former military will receive $1 off their ticket with DoD ID at the Box Office. To purchase tickets for Fayetteville Holiday Lights or for more information on the event, visit their website or call (910) 339-1989.

  • DBA marketDirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom is set to host their fifth annual Christkindlmarkt This unique German Christmas Market offers attendees a selection of German-inspired food, local artists and makers, Weihnachts Musik — Christmas music — and community spirit.

    The annual Dirt Bag Ales Christmas Market has changed and grown over the years.

    “We started with 20 vendors the first year in Hayat’s Yoga Studio,” said Shannon Loper, the operations manager at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom. “That year we donated the beer."

    This year there will be triple the number of vendors.

    "There will be about 60 vendors taking part in the event this year,” Loper said.

    What began as a small one-day event is now a weekend event like no other in the area.

    "Five years ago, the German Christmas Market was a mutual collaboration with Hayat Hakim. Since then, we have carried on the tradition annually, growing it to a full weekend of events,” Vernardo "Tito" Simmons-Valenzuela, Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom, co-owner/head brewer said. “People come because it is the only event like it in the area.”

    German music is a part of the experience and there will be several groups performing. The Fayetteville Bavarian brass band, Cross Creek Chordsmen and Fayetteville Barbershop will all add to the ambiance of the market. Vendors will be selling different wares including soaps, honey, metalwork, Christmas tree ornaments and more.“We strive to find vendors that fit with the theme and spirit of the event,” Simmons-Valenzuela said.

    The special food offerings at the event will focus on German favorites such as schnitzel, brats and German potato salad. The food trucks scheduled for the Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom German Christmas Market are R. Burger, Vagabond, Street Fare, Household Six, Grazing Buffalo, Beefy Buns and Authentique.

    Finally, what would a German market be without German beer? Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom will be serving Ein-bahnstraße-Hefewiezen, Märzen Attacks (an Oktoberfest Lager), a special vanilla, bourbon, and cinnamon cask-aged beer and a house made Gluvine. This event runs into the evening and the market will be lit to create a magical space.

    Dirtbag Ales is located at 5435 Corporation Drive. Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom describe themselves as being “about great friends, a genuine passion for hand-craft-ed beer and breaking the status quo.”

    The event will be at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom is located at 5435 Corporation Drive, just off Tom Starling Road. Dates and times of the event are Dec. 10 from 5 to 10 p.m.; Dec. 11th from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Jodi Phelps portraitA 15-year-old was murdered, Nov. 29. Police said officers who responded to a call for help on the night of the murder found the victim in the parking lot of a small strip mall at 594 South Reilly Road.

    “He had been shot in the chest and officers attempted lifesaving measures,” Police spokesperson Lt. Diana Holloway said. “He was pronounced deceased on the scene.”

    The boy’s name was not released by police, but a family member identified him as XaeVion Thornton. He was a sophomore student at Westover High School. Homicide detectives learned that a second person had been taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center with gunshot wounds. Holloway said he had non-life-threatening injuries.

    Anyone with information regarding the investigation is asked to contact Detective J. Arnold at (910) 824-9539 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS.

  • Kathy JensenGovernor Roy Cooper has appointed Fayetteville Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen to the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission. The Commission provides advice, counsel and recommendations to the governor, state lawmakers and state agencies on North Carolina’s military installations.

    “Now is a great time to raise issues important to our current service and National Guard Members,” Jensen said. “There are more active-duty soldiers at Fort Bragg compared to any other installation across the U.S. Army.”

    Jensen says she will work to prioritize the city of Fayetteville’s military interests. She will serve a two-year term on the Commission. Jensen was born and raised in Fayetteville and owns a local business.

  • Jodi Phelps portraitJodi Phelps has been hired by the city to replace Kevin Arata as Fayetteville’s Corporate Communications Director which is a fancy way of saying spokesperson. Arata resigned earlier this year. Phelps will work with the news media and oversee strategic communications and marketing plans.

    “I am honored by this chance to serve the community my family calls home,” Phelps said. “I look forward to working alongside City leadership and staff to ensure our residents are well-informed and engaged while we collectively work to build upon the strong foundations in place.”

    The city said Phelps brings more than 20 years of experience in communications, marketing and organizational leadership. She previously worked at the University of North Carolina–Pembroke, where she served as Chief Communications and Marketing Officer since 2016. Before UNC–Pembroke, Phelps served as Action Pathways Chief Operating Officer in Fayetteville.

    “We believe she knows this area well, which is one reason why she stood out,” City Manager Doug Hewett said. "I’m sure she will develop beneficial relationships amongst staff, neighbors and at all levels of government.”

  • futureAs the mother of three adult children, I am wired to be interested in their particular thoughts about life, and more generally, the views of their generation.

    Does their generation see the world the same way I did at their ages? The answers are not encouraging. They are disheartening. A survey conducted earlier this year by UNICEF and Gallup of 21,000 people in 21 different nations throughout the world found stark differences not only between generations but between different parts of the world. My generation of Americans believed that we would be healthier and wealthier than our parents' generation, and for the most part, those beliefs have proven true. By and large, we are more educated than our parents, have enjoyed higher incomes and look forward to longer life expectancies.

    Our kiddos and their kiddos are less optimistic, and some statistics bear out their thinking.

    Of the six wealthiest nations in the world, including the United States, only about a third of young people believe they will be better off financially than their parents. What's more, they no longer believe that hard work alone will get them where they want to go or that everyone starts at the same place. Increasingly, they believe that family wealth and connections are significant success factors.

    "On one hand, you want and need people to believe that they can make a difference in their own lives, but on the other hand, you need people to understand it's about more than just their own hard work," as Bob McKinnon, founder of a non-profit helping people understand influences in their lives says, in the New York Times. According to UNICEF and Gallup, older folks of my generation believe this as well. Moreover, many younger people believe quite rightly that earlier generations, including mine, have compromised our environment at best and destroyed it at worst.

    Interestingly, these lines of thought are more prevalent in wealthier, more developed nations, most of them in the northern hemisphere. Young people in less developed countries, mainly below the equator, are more hopeful than Americans of their generation.

    Around two-thirds of young people below the equator believe that they will be better off economically than their parents have been and that the world is becoming a better place with each new generation. They are more likely to believe that they have control over their lives through hard work and education. As Kenyan Lorraine Nduta, 21, put it in The Times, "we do not get to choose our families or social status, but that has never been a hindrance for anyone to succeed... In fact, I think when you have less, it fuels you to seek more. The power to change any situation lies with us — hard work, consistency and discipline."

    It isn't easy to imagine such sentiments coming from many young Americans in 2021.

    Every generation from time immemorial is formed by its times, its culture, its geography and an individual's circumstances. Every generation believes itself unique, and the hope for a better life for the next generation still exists, even if it seems to be slipping from the grasp of some in certain parts of the world.

    What stands out in this survey is that the traditional American Dream, long a standard for both Americans and people in other nations, needs some work.

    It remains true that hard work and education can lift young people, but the cynicism and anxiety surfacing in our young people is worrisome.

  • 11 police investigateMuch of 2020 has been dominated by newsmaking events that have made the year one few people will soon forget.

    Unprecedented and stressful circumstances can contribute to spirited debates and uncertainty about the future. Complicated situations can affect people in many ways, but the public may be wise to take some cues on how to navigate challenging situations from the professionals who routinely find themselves confronting adversity.

    Law enforcement officers who don the uniform each and every day routinely put others first in the name of public safety.

    According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, there are now more than 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers serving in the United States, which is the highest figure ever.

    Officers often step up to serve despite the risks associated with working in law enforcement. A total of 1,627 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty over the past 10 years. There were 135 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2019 alone.

    Law enforcement personnel serve many important roles in the communities they serve. Here’s a closer look at the integral roles of police and other law enforcement personnel.

    -Maintain law and order: The police force is made up of many different departments with the collective goal of maintaining law and order. Traffic police are responsible for enforcing the rules of the road and minimizing the chance of accidents. Other departments canvas the streets ensuring that residents’ civil liberties are not being compromised.

    -Save lives: Whether they’re preventing a life-threatening crime or administering emergency medical care at a car accident until an ambulance can arrive, law enforcement officers save lives every day.

    -Assist in adverse situations and provide crisis support: Police officers often fill the role of counselor or friend to people who find themselves in difficult situations. An officer can play a part in helping people make better life choices in the future. Training in situational de-escalation also means police officers are capable of defusing difficult situations before they snowball into serious, potentially life-threatening confrontations.

    -Investigate crimes: Police are the first people to respond when crimes have been committed. These individuals investigate the situation and find the perpetrator.

    -Foster strong communities: Law enforcement officers share a unique solidarity with other officers, peers, community leaders, and even medical professionals, which helps to create a strong fabric for a community. Officers frequently have each other’s backs as well as the respect and support of the public for putting their lives on the line.

    Law enforcement is an essential component of orderly, safe and supportive communities. Recognizing and respecting the important role law enforcement officials play is a great way to show them how much their efforts and sacrifices are appreciated.

  • 10 couple relaxingChristmas is an odd time for me. I love to give gifts, but I don't really care to “add to the collection” of unwanted gifts. In my home, we often talk about trusting God to meet our needs. That doesn't mean we stand on the shore and watch for our ship to come in. We work hard to make sure we've done all we can to provide for our family and others, but still we trust God. Sometimes I'll pray and ask for specific things — you know, a particular amount of money, favorable diagnosis of a car problem — and I suspect you do too. Nothing wrong with that, but there's truly more to having your needs met than having stuff go your way. It may be as simple as being content with where you are and what you have.

    My wife and I must be on the same wavelength concerning contentment. We have a little chalkboard in our kitchen where we'll write a recipe or date night idea, but recently I walked into the kitchen and saw these words: “What if God has already provided?”

    That stopped me. And the thought has haunted me for weeks. What if, in my quest for more and better, I've overlooked what I
    already have?

    It's caused me to take stock of my time, talents and resources. It's even changed the way I pray and how I look at pretty much

    Discontentment runs rampant in our culture, and today I want to offer you three choices you can make in your life that can lead you to genuine, biblical, lasting contentment.

    1. Seek contentment as a lifestyle. Choose it. Acknowledge that you would not be happier if you had more. You wouldn’t be — you’d likely be more miserable. God’s Word contains clear warnings for us: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)

    2. Learn to say, “I have enough.” Let those words reign in your home. Push back from the table and say, “I’ve had enough.” When money comes your way — a surprise bonus from work, an inheritance from your great-uncle, even finding $50 in your coat pocket — resist the cravings for more.

    3. Settle it. Here’s a challenge — choose a lifestyle; don’t let your income dictate your lifestyle. Choose a comfortable level of living that meets your needs, and don't compromise that with more spending when more income arrives. If you don’t choose a lifestyle, this culture will choose one for you, and by default it will be the lifestyle of living beyond your means. Be counter-cultural. Be radical. Be others-oriented.

    Let enough be enough. Learn from the examples of those around you (both the contented and the covetous). You'll save yourself some heartache and know the joy of a truly contented attitude. More does not equal happier. I promise.

    And remember this from Philippians 4:19 – “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (New Living Translation)


  • 09 Cares ActThe FTCC Financial Aid Department has important news for student loan borrowers. Our office is committed to providing financial literacy and student loan repayment information to our students and the community.

    Student loan repayment relief began on March 20 when the Secretary of Education announced that all federal student loans should have a 0% interest rate for the following 60 days, that collections activity on defaulted loans should cease, and that monthly payments on loans should not be required.

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which was enacted on March 27, extended these student loan assistance provisions from March 13 to Sept. 30.
    Currently, these three relief benefits are scheduled to end on Dec. 31 after they were extended by President Donald Trump on Aug. 8.

    Student loan borrowers may receive another extension on these relief provisions, but they should be prepared to resume payments in January 2021, as the COVID-19 forbearance will expire at the end of 2020, as of the time of the writing of this article.

    What do these relief provisions mean for borrowers? While monthly payments have not been required and interest has not accrued on federal student loans, borrowers are still able to make voluntary payments. This time period is a wonderful opportunity to reduce the principle owed on student loans. If a borrower is participating in an income-based repayment plan and working toward making the number of requirement payments for student loan forgiveness, the suspended payments are included in the total payments needed. This benefit from the CARES Act enables borrowers to continue to make progress toward loan forgiveness during the time of payment suspension.

    Those borrowers who should have renewed their income information for an income-based repayment plan between March 13 and Dec. 31 will not be required to recertify income information during this timeframe and will receive correspondence from their servicer about income recertification at some point after the COVID-19 forbearance has ended.

    For borrowers with defaulted student loans in collections, this has been a time of relief from collections activity. However, if the student loan repayment provisions expire, collections activity will resume.

    Borrowers with defaulted federal student loans should reach out to their guarantor or the Department of Education’s Default Resolution Group at 1-800-621-3115 in order to begin student loan rehabilitation to bring the loans back into good standing.

    As a reminder, the Department of Education and federal student loan servicers will never charge a fee for repayment counseling or to receive these relief benefits from the CARES Act. Any organization that attempts to offer loan repayment assistance for a fee is likely to be promoting a scam. Please reach out to your federal student loan servicer for free assistance.

    If you are unsure of the name of your federal loan servicer or how to contact them, visit https://studentaid.gov and log in to view your repayment information. FTCC reminds you to be an informed borrower and make the most of the student loan repayment relief during this challenging time.

    Spring classes begin on Jan. 11. Start the new year moving forward and remaining connected to something positive — Fayetteville Technical Community College.



  • 08 Michel with MedalDr. Sheri Michel, a professor in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at Methodist University, has received the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, one of the U.S. Army’s highest civilian honors.

    As our times often dictate, Michel was honored by the Army in a virtual ceremony with her physical honors (medal and proclamation) coming later.

    “Without a doubt, it truly is an honor,” said Michel, who is now a part of MU’s ground-breaking program, the first entry-level OTD program in the state of North Carolina. “It is quite humbling and exciting to know that others saw my accomplishments as distinguished enough to warrant an award of this caliber.”

    Prior to joining MU’s OTD program in August 2020, Michel worked as the Chief of Rehabilitation Services of the Soldier Recovery Unit (formerly Warrior Transition Battalion) at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Her work with the Army dates back to 2008.

    During the ceremony, former colleagues discussed Michel’s accomplishments, which include managing a team of more than 20 personnel, both military and civilian, and completing deployments to the Republics of Georgia and the Ukraine. She was nominated for the award by Lt. Col. Edward Bridges, M.D., who served alongside her as a battalion surgeon.

    “I consider her to be a pioneer in the area of developing rehabilitative care and comprehensive recovery for soldiers who have experienced trauma, as well as soldiers who have just gone through difficult times over the history of their career,” Bridges said.

    After returning from her deployments, Michel was ready to step aside to allow another professional to grow and mature as a leader in the newly reformed Soldier Recovery Unit.

    “I was intrigued by the fact the OTD program at Methodist was new and developing and I was drawn to the challenge of being on the forefront of change,” said Michel.

    For Dr. Meredith Gronski, director of the OTD program at Methodist, Michel’s unique background is a strong point. Professors with extensive backgrounds in unique settings have a special knowledge and expertise to offer future occupational therapists.

    “We were immediately impressed with Dr. Michel’s prestigious career with the U.S. Army that highlighted her skills as a leader and trailblazer,” said Gronski. “Her successful development of rehabilitation programs and staff reflects exactly what we have done here at the MU OTD program as the first entry-level OTD program in the state.”

    Michel hopes to simply “be a good professor” who instills her love of occupational therapy within her students. She looks forward to challenging future leaders of occupational therapy in hopes of advancing the practice beyond its traditional settings. These hopes are common amongst the faculty in the OTD program. According to Gronski, applicants and students quickly develop strong connections to the program’s faculty.

    “A genuine care for students is a disposition that you cannot teach, and we have successfully built a team that embodies this as an essential value,” she said. “We knew Dr. Michel would be a good fit on our team to fulfill our mission to develop exceptional practitioners who will advance the profession through innovative, authentic practice.”

    Pictured: Dr. Sheri Michel, a professor in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at Methodist University, on the MU campus showing her Meritorious Civilian Service Medal.

  • 07 STEM Terry Sanford HighA two-year College Readiness Program from the National Math and Science Initiative is launching at Terry Sanford High School, a military-connected school near Fort Bragg. The U.S. Department of Defense funds the program.

    After one year in NMSI's CRP, students at military-impacted schools average a 45% increase in mastery of college-level concepts in math and science — compared to the national average increase of 5.6%. That increase is 81.5% for Black students, 34% for Latinos and 38.4% for females.

    Students with family members serving in the military move an average of six to nine times while they're in elementary and secondary school. NMSI's CRP leverages the College Board's proven Advanced Placement framework, preserving local control and creating consistent learning across all schools. That means students are on pace from their first day in a new school — making all those moves a little easier.

    More than 13,000 students enrolled in the Cumberland County School system are military/federally-connected. As one of the founding members of the Military Compact and Military Child Educational Coalition, the district has built a support system for the military child.

    “At Cumberland County Schools, we are proud to serve the third largest concentration of military-connected students in the world,” said CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. “We remain committed to providing all students with high-quality resources and crucial support to help them be successful. The partnership with NMSI will encourage STEM learning and help our students prepare for college and life.”

    The DOD STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program seeks to attract, inspire and develop exceptional STEM talent across the education continuum and advance the current DoD STEM workforce to meet future defense technological challenges.

    "Cutting-edge educational opportunities for our DoD students is a combat-multiplier for Fort Bragg," said Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander. "Programs that enrich education for military families support the CSA's Army People Strategy. When we take care of our families, we will have a stronger and more committed Army. We appreciate our local school districts, NMSI and DoD STEM for providing this educational initiative to our military families."

    As a nonprofit whose mission is to advance STEM education so all students, especially those furthest from opportunity, can reach their highest potential, NMSI has served more than 250 U.S. schools that have significant enrollment among military-connected students. Based in Dallas, NMSI has a presence in 40 states, serving more than 1,300 high schools to improve student access and achievement through teacher training, collaboration with campus leaders and student-focused resources. Schools that participate in the nonprofit’s CRP see rapid and dramatic increases in the number of students taking AP exams and earning qualified scores

    NMSI is a member of the Defense STEM Education Consortium, which is committed to helping improve access for all students to pursue STEM careers and to consider Defense laboratories as places of employment.

    Pictured left to right: Howard Lattimore, CCS Military Family & Youth Liaison; Gerhard Guevarra, Fort Bragg School Liaison Officer; Dr. Shevelle Godwin, Fort Bragg School Liaison Officer; Tom Hatch, Principal of Terry Sanford High School

  • 04 SeniorWomanFluShotHC1601 sourceFlu vaccines are available at the Immunization Clinic in the Health Department office building at 1235 Ramsey St.

    To protect the health and safety of staff and clients, the vaccines are available by appointment only at 910-321-7116. Upon arrival at the clinic, participants will complete a short registration form and if insured the insurance company will be billed. Participants will not be billed for flu vaccinations.

    Children 18 and younger can also receive free flu vaccines. Persons accompanying children must provide proof of custody.

    The Health Department is also partnering with community agencies to provide free flu vaccination clinics throughout Cumberland County.

    The public can choose between drive-thru or in-person flu vaccine services. No appointments are required for community flu clinics.

  • 06 Suzanne OwenFor the second time in as many weeks, Cumberland County Schools has another Sandhills Regional winner.

    The district’s 2021 Principal of the Year, Suzanne Owen, has been named the Wells Fargo 2021 Sandhills Regional Principal of the Year.

    The Cliffdale Elementary School leader will move forward to compete against seven other regional finalists from across North Carolina.

    The next round of competition will be held on March 12 at the Umstead Hotel in Cary. The 2021 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year will be announced on May 21 in a special ceremony.

    Pictured: Suzanne Owen

  • 05 cape fear valley med ctrTo protect staff and patients from risk of COVID-19, all Cape Fear Valley Health System locations, including hospitals and outpatient clinics, are closed completely to visitors until further notice with a few exceptions.

    Labor & Delivery: Laboring mothers may have one support person/coach for the duration of their stay.

    Pediatric patients: A legal minor may have one parent or guardian with him/her.

    Patients who need healthcare decision makers or require communication assistance may have one assistance person
    with them.

    End-of-life patients may have one one-hour visit with up to four people.

    Visitors with symptoms of a fever or respiratory illness including cough or shortness of breath, should remain home. Hospitals will screen visitors for signs and symptoms of illness.

  • 03 Szoka committee picEarlier this year when peaceful protests turned violent I recognized that there were questions affecting North Carolina that I didn’t know the answers to. Those deeply disturbing events that tore apart communities made it clear that our state needed answers.

    Are chokeholds applied by law enforcement officers legal or illegal in North Carolina? Is there a duty for law enforcement officers to intervene when observing potential official misconduct? And the list went on.

    I went to Speaker Moore and suggested he convene a House Select Committee to investigate these and other issues. He agreed and the House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement and Justice was formed and I was appointed a Chairman.

    This committee was unique in that it not only had legislative members but also reached into the community to ask non-legislators to be voting members of the committee.

    Committee members ranged on both sides of the political spectrum and included governmental and special interest groups as well.

    We began committee work in early September with the goal of creating a forum where lawmakers could listen to diverse voices across the state, seek understanding, and work toward making meaningful recommendations for transformative change.

    During the committee process members heard from various stakeholders across North Carolina, solicited recommendations from committee members and the public, explored potential changes and eventually adopted the committee’s final recommendations.

    I am proud to announce that on Dec. 14 the committee ended its work and in a historic, bi-partisan vote unanimously adopted the recommendations.

    It was an honor to lead this committee and I am thankful for the hard work of the members that allowed us to recommend targeted, meaningful reforms in such a short time.

    The final committee report includes thirteen recommendations for action-oriented policy solutions that reflect broad community and stakeholder agreement. Those recommendations are:
    • Creating additional statewide law enforcement training requirements that include requiring crisis intervention training and implicit bias training; as well as providing additional resources to officers and agencies to complete the new requirement training.
    • Requiring mandatory reporting requirements for law enforcement agencies for disciplinary actions, resignations, terminations and de-certifications.
    • Creating whistle-blower protections for officers that report misconduct.
    • Providing law enforcement with additional resources when encountering mental health issues in the field.
    • Providing law enforcement with additional resources to receive mental health treatment.
    • Reclassification of some lower level criminal offenses.
    • Directing the Administrative Office of the Courts to examine whether each judicial district would benefit from the availability of specialty courts such as drug treatment or Veterans Courts.
    • Banning the use of chokeholds.
    • Requiring psychological evaluations for all public safety officers.
    • Requiring law enforcement to report use of force incidents.
    • Mandating the duty to intervene and the duty to report officer misconduct.
    • Creating and funding a pilot program for high school student law enforcement career exploration.
    • Creating a system to allow individuals to receive additional notification of court dates, to avoid additional Failure to Appear charges.

    These committee recommendations will provide guidance for potential legislative action by future sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly. A full committee report can be found on the committee website at www.ncleg.gov/Committees/CommitteeInfo/HouseSelect/200

    This committee report is just the beginning; I look forward to working during the upcoming session with fellow legislators to advance these policy recommendations into meaningful legislation.

  • 02 Roni PaulWell, it’s a medical miracle, and I couldn’t think of a grander Christmas gift to all Americans. Regardless of your political affiliation or sentiments, President Trump and his administration made good on the promise to produce a COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year. Operation Warp Speed made good on that promise when the first shipments of over 2 million doses of Pfizer vaccine were produced and shipped in only nine months. An impressive feat considering the normal R&D development process usually takes 5 to 8 years. Millions of doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to be shipped soon.

    Without incident, thousands of front-line medical workers have already received the first of two vaccinations needed to fend off this deadly disease. The second vaccination will follow in about two weeks.

    The vaccine arrived in Fayetteville the morning of Dec. 15 to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and to Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg. Both hospitals began vaccinating front line health care workers at 1 p.m.

    As of this writing, it is predicted that over 20 million vaccinations will be administered across the country by the end of January. This is excellent news and a feat that could only have been accomplished in America. This is a proud moment for our nation and should be celebrated. Not politicized.

    There is more good news on the horizon. The CDC announced last week that approval was given for an over-the-counter COVID-19 screening test that will allow individuals to check for the disease by evaluating their symptoms. The results are ready in 20 minutes. The cost? $30.

    Getting vaccinated is only one stage in getting this epidemic under control. We still need to use common sense: wash our hands, practice social distancing, etc.

    More importantly, we need to make sure we keep our attitudes right by maintaining a positive outlook and focusing on the well-being of our mental health. After all, this is the holiday season, and emotions will be running high mixed with a little anxiety from being separated from friends and family. Usually, this is a joyful time when family and friends get together to celebrate the birth of Christ, congregate to eat, drink and be merry while sharing family traditions. Perhaps, not so much this year as everyone becomes COVID cautious and rightfully so. Almost everyone I come in contact with has either had COVID, know someone with COVID, or know someone who has passed away from the disease. Social responsibility here takes on a whole new meaning. In other words, when it comes to protecting your friends and family from the spread of the COVID-19 disease, consideration of those around you should be your first and foremost consideration.

    We care about our readers and the businesses and organizations in our community. Yes, this is a crazy time, and 2020 will be a year for the record books. However, we will get through this. The development of America’s new COVID-19 vaccine has again proven the truth in the adage by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” I believe this, and so should you. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

    Pictured above: Spc. Adam G. Millett, a combat medic assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, administers the first COVID-19 vaccine on Fort Bragg to Womack Army Medical Center emergency room nurse Roni Paul on Dec. 15. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Mary Katzenberger, 18th Airborne Corps)

  • 01 01 Bragg Family by AS ACSSgt. 1st Class Justin and Tawni Dixon were named the 2020 Family of the Year for Fort Bragg in a ceremony at the Main Post Chapel Dec. 2.

    The award was presented by Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, Commanding General of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg. Following the ceremony, Kurilla and the Dixon family officially kicked off the holiday season by flipping the switch to light up the 20-foot Fraser fir Christmas tree at the Main Post Parade Field.

    The Family of the Year award recognizes the contributions and sacrifices made by military families. The award is in its 18th year.

    “Tawni and Sgt. 1st Class Dixon’s work with our families and single soldiers during the no-notice deployment in January and throughout the COVID pandemic has been so crucial during a very stressful period,” Kurilla said. “This kind of personal engagement is going to pay enormous dividends for our families in the coming months.”

    Sgt. 1st Class Dixon and his wife were nominated by their unit’s chain of command along with 28 other families across Fort Bragg.

    “Both Sgt. 1st Class Dixon and his wife, Tawni, have been instrumental in the success of 3-319 AFAR over the past two years,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Shepherd, 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment commander.

    Sgt. 1st Class Dixon served as the battalion’s digital master gunner and operations sergeant while Tawni served as the Soldier and Family Readiness Group leader for Headquarters Battery during the no-notice deployment on New Year’s Eve, supporting over 270 paratroopers and their families.

    “I am incredibly thankful for the sacrifices their family has made, and I’m proud to see them receive this honor,” Shepherd said.

    Sgt. 1st Class Dixon was recognized for volunteering over 350 hours in the development of a program for wounded warriors. Dixon leads fishing expeditions for veterans with injuries and PTSD. Dixon makes contact with the veterans, takes them to the lake to go fishing. Many veterans will exchange stories and share their experiences which often proves therapeutic for them, Dixon said.

    “I volunteer my time and take them out on the water and it’s a stress relief thing for many,” Dixon said.

    Veterans interested in learning more can contact the main organization ‘Operation North Star’ on Facebook. There are also a couple of other groups — ‘Airborne Fishing Vets’ and ‘Fishing Buddies for Veterans.’

    The project started a year and half ago when Dixon participated in Warriors on the Water, a fishing tournament held twice a year, with active duty and veterans.

    “I thought this is really great and I saw the positive impact it had on the vets that participated and thought why don't we just do it all year round instead of twice a year, I have the means to do it and we’ve been blessed so I kind of wanted to give back,” he said. “There’s no reason not to do it if I'm available.”

    Dixon has received a donation of fishing supplies so that the veterans he takes out don't have to worry about purchasing bait or fishing poles.

    Tawni Dixon was recognized for her role as the SFRG leader, maintaining dialogue between the battalion and the SFRG advisors, and in preparation for the battalion's return, she helped build care packages for redeploying single paratroopers.

    In this effort, the battalion FRG collected over $7,000 in sundry items, linens, hygiene items and snacks to ensure their returning soldiers residing in the barracks came home to a care package.

    Her most recent participation was a canned food drive with three battalions and one local apartment complex that resulted in the collection of 1,683 canned goods that were donated to the Armed Services YMCA — a resource on Fort Bragg.

    “All of our Fort Bragg families are special, but this one was chosen based on their command nomination for not only the leadership and resilience they demonstrate in their day-to-day lives, but also their commitment to family,” said Catherine Mansfield, Family of the Year coordinator with Army Community Service. “It’s a great honor to be named the Fort Bragg Family of the Year, and we are thrilled to have the Dixons as this year’s winner. They represent the true spirit of our military families.”

    The FOY award started in 2003 as the culmination of Military Family Month, a designation made by the President in 1996 to recognize the commitment, dedication and sacrifices made by military families.
    Mansfield emphasized the importance of this annual event and said having worked in Family Programs for the Army for 30-plus years, she has seen first-hand the sacrifices military families make and how they exhibit undeniable strength and resilience, and this event recognizes that.

    Dixon said receiving the award was incredibly shocking and humbling for him because of how many other worthy families are on Fort Bragg who volunteer and give back as well.

    “Just to even be nominated and to win in general and we certainly didn't do this all by ourselves, it’s an incredible team effort,” the Dixons said. “We just kind of feel humble to be recognized and we represent all of the families together in receiving this award.”

    Pictured above: Sgt. 1st Class Justin and Tawni Dixon were named Fort Bragg's Family of the Year. The Dixon's were recognized by the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Commanding General Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla in a ceremony Dec. 2. (Top photo by Audra Satterlee, Army Community Services.  Bottom photo courtesy Dixon family.)

    01 02 E10BAA72 9F9E 46DF 960A 7AA71A8E348F

  • 13 01 Charles Evans 2Three Cumberland County Commissioners took the oath of office Dec. 7 during a special Board of Commissioners meeting.

    Commissioners Michael Boose and Jimmy Keefe were sworn in after being re-elected, and Toni Stewart took the oath of office for the first time. Boose, Keefe and Stewart represent District 2.

    The new board then elected Charles Evans to serve as chairman for the year. Glenn Adams was re-elected as the board’s vice chairman.

    Boose is a Fayetteville attorney who was first elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2016 and served on the Board of Education for 18 years, where he was elected the board chair for four terms. Boose has practiced law for more than 35 years.

    Keefe is a business owner and military veteran who was first elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2008. He served as chairman in 2013 after serving as vice chairman in 2012. Keefe was also elected to two terms on the Fayetteville City Council from 2001-2005.

    Stewart, who earned her doctorate in Biblical Counseling from Family Bible College of Fayetteville, serves as the Special Project Manager at True Vine Ministries. She formerly served as the Executive Director of the Hope Center women’s shelter.

    Evans was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018 as an at-large representative. He was the board’s vice chair in 2017 and served two terms on the Fayetteville City Council from 2005-2009. He is a disabled veteran and executive director of Life is Worth Living-Project Fresh Start.

    Adams is an attorney elected from District 1 in 2014. This will be his third term as the vice chairman. He was the chairman in 2017. He is an attorney and serves as the Chairman of Action Pathways Incorporated and the Cumberland County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

    During his remarks, Evans outlined his priorities for the year. He said he wants to establish a plan to identify and assist the homeless in our community “with a one-stop center designed to help members of our homeless community locate and access resources throughout Cumberland County.”

    Other priorities include:
    •supporting clean and healthy water in the Gray’s Creek area, as well as throughout Cumberland County
    •encouraging the development and construction of a Performing Arts Center
    •completing a new 911 and Emergency Operations Center and a state-of-the-art Fire and Rescue training center in partnership with Fayetteville Technical Community College
    •enhancing communication and transparency by re-establishing the facilities, finance and policy committees and live streaming those meetings
    •working with the nine municipalities and the legislative delegation “to ensure our collective voices are heard and that they impact the decisions that impact our lives.”

    During the meeting, Adams presented outgoing Commissioner Marshall Faircloth with a plaque and thanked him for his years of service as a commissioner. Faircloth thanked the commissioners and county staff for their work in serving our citizens.

    Commissioners Jeannette Council and Larry Lancaster complete the seven-member board.

    The board is scheduled to hold its next regular meeting Dec. 21 at 6:45 p.m.

    Pictured above: Charles Evans, Chairman of the Cumberland County Commission.

    Pictured below left to right, Row 1: Glenn Adams, Michael C. Boose. Row 2: Jeanette M. Council, Jimmy Keefe. Row 3: Larry L. Lancaster, Dr. Toni Stewart.

    13 02 adamsglenn1522   13 03 boosemichael1505   13 04 counciljeannette1514   13 05 keefejimmy1518   13 06 lancasterlarry1496   13 07 drtonistewart


  • 12 02 Alicia Chisolm 214x300For the second consecutive year, Alicia Chisolm will serve as the chair of the Cumberland County Board of Education and Greg West will serve as the vice-chair. The Board approved leadership roles for 2021 during its regular monthly meeting Dec. 8. 

    “I am humbled by the opportunity to continue serving in this capacity,” said Chisolm. “This unprecedented year has brought many challenges, but we have worked together — as a Board, school system and community — to support the needs of the whole child. Despite the challenges, we will continue providing our students with a safe, positive and rigorous learning environment to help them reach their maximum potential.”

    At the beginning of the meeting, Deanna Jones and Nathan Warfel were sworn in after winning their seats during the Nov. 3 general election.

    Jones, an Army veteran, served for 27 years. She is an active participant on various local and state education committees.

    Warfel, who received his entire K-12 education in CCS, is a South View High School graduate. He holds a law degree from the Charlotte School of Law and works in the Cumberland County Public Defender’s Office.

    Board members Alicia Chisolm, Carrie Sutton, Donna Vann and Susan Williams, were re-elected to serve another term on the Board during the Nov. 3 general election.

    Charles McKellar and Judy Musgrave will continue to serve as at-large members of the Board.


    Pictured above: Alicia Chisolm, Cumberland County Board of Education Chairperson

    Pictured Below left to right, Row 1:Greg West, Deanna Jones.  Row 2: Nathan Warfel, Carrie Sutton.  Row 3: Donna Vann, Susan Williams. Row 4: Charles McKellar, Judy Musgrave.

    12 02 Greg West 2018   12 03 Deanna Jones BOE District 2 225x300   12 04 Image of Board Member Nathan Warfel 300x300   12 05 Carrie Sutton 2018   12 06 Donna Vann 265x300   12 07 Susan Williams 2018   12 08 Charles McKellar   12 09 Judy Musgrave 2018






















  • 05 vaccine 2Despite the current spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths, there is good news on the not-so-distant horizon. Three effective vaccines are in the pipeline. Some North Carolinians — those battling coronavirus on the frontlines as well as those put at greatest risk by infection — will being vaccinated in the coming weeks.

    When vaccines become more widely available, will you be among those who get the shots? A large share of the general public won’t say yes, at least not yet.

    According to a late-November survey by the Pew Research Center, 29% of Americans said they would “definitely” get vaccinated if the vaccine were immediately available. Another 31% said they “probably” would. That’s a majority, yes. But with 39% saying they would definitely or probably reject it, there are grounds to wonder whether enough people will get vaccinated to establish the herd immunity required to get us past the pandemic stage.

    These are countrywide findings, admittedly. But North Carolinians appear to be, if anything, even more skeptical than the average American. In an October study by Elon University’s survey team, only 37% of registered voters in our state said they would accept a COVID-19 vaccine, with 36% saying they wouldn’t accept it and the rest unsure.

    I think it is possible these poll respondent aren’t being entirely honest — or, to put it another way, that they aren’t accurately predicting how they will feel when the opportunity for vaccination actually arrives.

    Some Democratic-leaning North Carolinians who are suspicious of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed project to speed the approval and distribution of vaccines may be more willing to get their shots when a different president is in the White House. And some Republicans who tended to downplay their risk of contracting COVID-19 during election season may alter their perceptions of the risk for the same reason, because the political climate has changed.

    Moreover, as December turns into January, and winter into spring, those worried that vaccine development was unsafely rushed during 2020 may get more comfortable with the final product. Millions will already vaccinated by then, likely with few or no side-effects. That will be reassuring.

    Still, if we want some semblance of normalcy to return to our economy, our communities, our households, and our personal freedoms, we cannot afford merely to assume that vaccination rates will be high. To the extent some of our fellow citizens maintain a deep suspicion of medical providers and drug manufacturers, or continue to see the vaccination issue through partisan lenses, our leaders need a well-planned, sustained campaign to respond to their concerns.

    That’s why three former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama — have volunteered to get their shots in front of television cameras. That’s why Hollywood and Madison Avenue are getting involved. We need different messages for different audiences, addressing the different sources of public skepticism.

    That skepticism isn’t limited to a single group. For example, the Pew survey revealed that 69% of Democratic-leaning voters said they would definitely or probably get vaccinated, vs. 50% of Republican-leaning voters. That’s a partisan gap, to be sure. But that still leaves lots of Democrats in the “no” camp.

    Indeed, Pew also found that African-Americans, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, are far less likely to say they’ll get vaccinated (42%) than are whites (61%), Hispanics (63%), and Asians (83%).

    Widespread vaccination will be necessary to put this public-health crisis behind us. It’s the main way we’ll save the businesses, jobs, and community institutions threatened by the virus itself and by the cumbersome regulations governments have enacted to combat it while vaccines were being developed.

    Even so, I believe neither that we should use force to get everyone their shots nor that such a recourse will be necessary. While the vaccination rate must be high, it need not be 100%. Some individuals have real health conditions or adverse immune-system responses that merit special consideration.

    But for most other objections, I think persuasion will be a proper and effective response. Let’s begin.

  • 10 Holiday ToysMore than 1,000 Fort Bragg paratroopers jumped from C-130 aircraft and helicopters for a good cause as part of the 82nd Airborne Divisions’ annual Presents from Paratroopers holiday toy drive.

    About 600 of the soldiers were selected in a special raffle. To enter the raffle, each paratrooper donated a toy to the Travis Mills Foundation which serves as the program’s civilian partner.

    About 1,500 toys were donated this year. The foundation distributes the toys to charities around the state including the North Carolina Children’s Home Society, the Armed Services YMCA, the Fort Bragg USO, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Fayetteville Urban Ministry.

    This year’s jumpers had the opportunity to earn Chilean Army jump wings. Troops are authorized to wear the wings on their dress uniforms.

    “It’s great to get your foreign wings, but [the toy drive] has a bigger purpose: giving back to the community and being able to bring the unit together,” said 1st Lt. Blake Wilson. “That’s what brings us all joy.”

    He donated a new kids’ bike to secure his place in the jump.

  • 09 WomenSoldiers USArmed ForcesMilitary women and female veterans are using the VA’s health care system for everything from mammograms and respiratory testing to prescription refills and urgent medical care. The VA says 50 percent of women see navigating VA benefits as their greatest challenge when transitioning to civilian life.

    The Women’s Health Transition Training Program helps female service members and veterans learn about services the VA provides and how to enroll in VA health care.

    The goal of the program is that participants leave the course feeling empowered to proactively manage their health care and to be comforted by their new support system at VA who can guide them through the military transition process and help them navigate personal health and wellness for the rest of their lives. It’s offered online twice per day, five days per week.

    To register for a session visit VA Women’s Health Transition Training - Center for Women Veterans (CWV).

    “This training provides a leg up to the new wave of women veterans by giving them the information they need about VA health care,” said one of the veterans who asked not to be identified. VA training sessions for women are conducted by military spouses and female health professionals.

  • 08 Nicole Rivers 2Cumberland County Schools’ 2021 Teacher of the Year has been voted the Regional Teacher of the Year. Nicole Rivers learned that she had been named the 2021 Sandhills Regional Teacher of the Year while attending a routine meeting. She teaches ninth and tenth grade English at Gray's Creek High School.

    "I'm just overwhelmed. I thought I would have found out with just a simple phone call,” she said. “They got me good with the announcement during the Zoom meeting." Rivers will compete against eight other regional winners for the state title. Interviews are scheduled for Feb. 19 in Cary.

    The N.C. Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by Burroughs Wellcome.

  • 07 Enrique Martinez 2The Army has concluded that Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez’s death was a homicide, but the cause of death remains undetermined because only his head was available for examination, according to the Division of Forensic Pathology at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.

    The soldier had been decapitated and dismembered, officials said. “A positive identification was made using the soldier’s dental records,” the report stated. Martinez, 21, was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. His remains were washed ashore on Shackleford Banks Inlet of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

    A $25,000 reward has been offered for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for his death, the Army said. The Army Criminal Investigation Command continues to probe the case.

  • 06 FCC ArtsCouncil TAG 4CThe Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County announced the expansion of the Artists In Schools initiative with the assistance of a grant from the North Carolina Glaxo SmithKline Foundation.

    The Arts Council received $25,000 through the Ribbon of Hope Grant Program to expand access to AIS for Title One schools in Cumberland County.AIS is a program explicitly developed to prepare students for the challenges they face in the next decade by including an interactive arts education experience.

    Artists in Schools goes beyond painting, singing and dancing. AIS provides schools with highly trained professional artists who work with teachers and students in core subject matter areas through the arts.

    Artists In Schools has operated in partnership with Cumberland County Schools for over two decades. Since 2005, AIS serves approximately 20,000 students in grades K to 12 each year in Cumberland County and over 300,000 in total.

    “The Ribbon of Hope directly aligns with our goal for the AIS Program: expansion of a successful arts and culture initiative to meet the needs of our youth in Cumberland County,” said Bob C. Pinson, interim president and CEO of the Arts Council.

  •  The Cumberland County Department of Social Services is accepting applications for the North Carolina Low Income Energy Assistance Program to help qualified families with their heating costs. The federally funded program provides a one-time vendor payment to help eligible households pay their heating bills.

    Households including a person age 60 or older or disabled persons receiving services through the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services are eligible to sign up for assistance until Dec. 31. Disabled persons are defined as receiving Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Administration or Veterans Administration disability.

    All other households may apply from Jan. 4 through March 31 or until funds are exhausted.

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced Nov. 30 that it will issue assistance to 2019-2020 LIEAP recipients. These benefits will be paid directly to their energy vendor. The traditional application process will be eliminated for elderly and disabled individuals who normally are required to apply for LIEAP funds.

    Eligible households may qualify to receive the LIEAP payments for the 2020-2021 season if a member of the household:
    •is age 60 or older or a person with a disability receiving DAAS services, and
    •is currently receiving Food and Nutrition services, and
    •received LIEAP during the 2019-2020 season.

    To be eligible for the LIEAP program, a household must:
    •Have at least one U.S. citizen or non-citizen who meets the eligibility criteria
    •Have income equal to or less than 130% of the federal poverty limit
    •Have resources, such as saving and checking accounts and cash on hand, at or below $2,250
    •Be responsible for their heating cost

    The following verifications must be provided to determine eligibility:
    •Identification for the applicant
    •Social Security numbers for all household members
    •Copy of the heating bill
    •Proof of gross income received in the prior month
    •Proof of childcare expenses and legal support obligations paid in prior month

    Since the Cumberland County DSS building remains closed to the public, applications can be accessed at www.ccdssnc.com/energy-assistance-programs/ and may be returned by:
    •fax to 910-677-2885
    •email to energyprogram@ccdssnc.com
    •mail to P.O. Box 2429, Fayetteville, NC 28302
    •drop off at CCDSS drop boxes at 1225 Ramsey St. in Fayetteville

    Households that include a Native American who is 18 years of age or older who wish to apply for LIEAP benefits, must do so through the Lumbee Tribe at www.lumbeetribe.com/services.

    For more information, contact the DSS LIEAP message line at 910-677-2821 or the Cumberland County Department of Social Services at 910-323-1540.

  • 18 food and blood sugar trackerWhat is an A1c anyway? Besides being something that your doctor checks at most office visits, A1c is literally the amount of glucose attached to the red blood cells in your body. The more glucose in your blood, the more red blood cells have glucose attached to them. The A1c value is the percentage of red blood cells in your body that have glucose attached to them.

    What does that information tell us? A lot of things. First, it gives us an idea of what your average blood sugar has been over the last few months. People without diabetes often have an average blood sugar less than 100. People who are at increased risk of diabetes, or have prediabetes, have an A1c value of 5.7 to 6.4. This means people with prediabetes have an average blood sugar of 126 to 140. People who have diabetes have an A1c value of 6.5 or higher. This means people who have diabetes often have a blood sugar greater than 140. The higher your A1c, the higher your average blood sugar. If your A1c is 9.0, your average blood sugar is 212. If your A1c is 10, your average blood sugar is 240. Having an A1c of 9.0 or higher means that on average, your blood sugar is almost twice as high as people who don’t have diabetes.

    Why does it matter? Over time, diabetes causes a lot of problems in your body. The longer your blood sugar is above what is considered normal, the higher your risk of developing permanent, irreversible damage from diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to skin infections, blindness, glaucoma, cataracts, nerve damage and loss of sensation in the feet, as well as kidney damage which may lead to dialysis. When uncontrolled diabetes is present with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the risk of heart attack and stroke also increases. All of these problems can be avoided with keeping blood sugar as close to normal as possible.

    How else does A1c help us? For one thing, it helps us determine if the treatment we put you on is working. Every time a medication is added, we should expect to see some level of improvement in the A1c. If we are trying lots of different medications and your A1c isn’t changing, it could be the medications. Testing the A1c helps us determine if your treatment plan is right for you. It also helps us determine if your blood sugar meter is correct. If you are checking your blood sugar at home and getting lots of low numbers or lots of normal numbers but your A1c is very high, it may be time to purchase a new meter.

    What should my A1c be? Your target is your own. You are unique and your goal A1c is as unique as you are. Work with your doctor to understand your health and develop a goal A1c that is safe
    for you.

    Kelsey Simmons, D.O., is a family medicine physician who completed a fellowship in diabetes at Duke/Southern Regional AHEC in Fayetteville. She provides care at Southeastern Health’s Southeastern Medical Clinic Gray’s Creek.

  • 16 bragg arbor dayFort Bragg invited community members to assist the Engineering Division of the Directorate of Public Works in planting the next generation of Tulip Poplar trees at the Bastogne Gables Park on post Dec. 9 to kick off a series of monthly events leading up to Arbor Day in April 2021.

    “Planting trees is a generational opportunity,” said Brian Vesely, registered architect with the DPW and Arbor Board chair. “It is an investment that will continue to make Fort Bragg a better place to live and work.”

    In an initiative to be great stewards of the environment, 40 Tulip Poplar trees were planted. Tulip Poplars are large, upright and fast-growing trees with big flowers similar to a magnolia, producing yellow leaves in the fall.

    At the event, DPW senior wildlife biologist Erich Hoffman demonstrated to the volunteers how to properly plant a tree.

    “When you take the tree out of the pot, you see the roots are pressed against the soil, break the roots up to stabilize root growth because much moisture on the tree can cause some damage, it’s a little bit of a process,” Hoffman said. Mixing the amendment and the soil together helps to ensure there is extra room to grow. Always make sure when you look up the tree that it is straight, so it can grow properly, he said.

    Hoffman instructed that adding mulch helps keep the moisture in the dry seasons and emphasized the importance of the first year of the tree’s survival.

    “If you can get the tree to survive for the first year, it has a higher chance of survival afterwards,” Hoffman said.

    Fort Bragg will host five other events, one each month, leading up to Arbor Day in April 2021. Each event offers the opportunity for volunteers to plant trees in designated areas throughout the installation, said Elvia Kelly, spokeswoman for Fort Bragg Garrison Public Affairs Office.

    The other events will be similar to the kick-off, where volunteers will bring their own gloves, and DPW will provide the trees, shovels and other needed materials.

    “The intent is to ensure Fort Bragg’s natural infrastructure, trees and vegetation are here for future generations to enjoy and is a highlight of the installation,” Kelly said.

    The post will continue to manage and take care of its infrastructure and environment because it promotes readiness and a sense of community, she said.

    Pictured: Volunteers help workers from Fort Bragg's Directorate of Public Works plant Tulip Poplar trees on post to kick off a six-month initiative leading up to Arbor Day 2021.

  • 15 Carols review imageTaking us back in time, and yet reminding us very much of our current turbulent ones, “The Carols,” written by Jennifer Childs, transports its audience into a feel-good, nostalgic and wholesome family drama of Christmas and life.

    “The Carols” directed by Robyne Parrish will run at the Gilbert Theater until Dec. 20, bringing a genuine good time filled with many laughs, great songs, a tear in your eye possibly, but also a reminder to enjoy the

    In the war and poverty-stricken setting of a 1940’s Veterans of Foreign War post where gloominess lingers, three sisters — Sylvia, Rose and Lily — shine bright with their optimistic natures.

    Sylvia (played by Molly Hamelin) is determined to make a change in the world and is obsessed with Eleanor Roosevelt. Rose (played by Megan Martinez), dreams of marrying a general and Lily (played by Eden S. Kinsey) holds down the homestead with her charm.

    The first half of the production focuses on the chaotic, hilarious challenges of putting on “A Christmas Carol.” This includes convincing the fascinating Miss Betty (played by Karen Morgan Williams), who runs the VFW, to have the production and find the right cast. Then enters Melvin Shaatz (played by Evan Bridenstine), the Jewish comedian who brings everyone a very Yiddish “Christmas Carol.”

    The themes in the show touch on loss of those at war, the state of poverty in the present, and how everyone is looking forward to the future while enduring the present.

    The actors put on a charming musical with wonderful jokes.

    The second act brings an usual yet entertaining version of “A Christmas Carol” with Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future with hilarious modifications. It brings a smile to everyone’s face.

    The Yiddish punchlines, the 40’s slang, the “bah humbugs” is just what the audience needs — a two-hour escape from the times of COVID-19.

    The talented actors do a great job in reminding everyone, while looking forward so much and focusing on the misfortunes of the past, that we should not forget to live in and enjoy the present, no matter how hard
    things get.

    For those who just need to get away for some light-hearted singing and comedy, "The Carols" is a must watch with its reminder to hold on to right now and cherish it.

    The final weekend of the show is Dec. 18-20. For more information on the play and schedule, visit https://www.gilberttheater.com/season27/thecarols.php

  • 11 Lloyd AustinThe nomination of retired U.S. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to become Secretary of Defense in the Biden Administration doesn’t surprise co-workers or politicians.

    President-elect Joe Biden has known Austin at least since the general’s years leading U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq when Biden was vice president. Austin was deployed to command the Multi-National Corps-Iraq in 2008 while serving as commanding general of 18th Airborne Corps. As commander of MNC-I, he directed the operations of 152,000 coalition forces in all sectors of Iraq.

    Austin’s service as a three-star general at Fort Bragg was not his only assignment at the local Army post. Soon after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, then-Captain Austin was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division where he commanded the Combat Support Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry and also served as the Assistant S-3 (Operations) for the 82nd’s 1st Brigade Combat Team. Years later, in 1993, Austin returned to the 82nd to command the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and later served as G-3 for the Division. Following graduation from the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, then-Colonel Austin returned again to Fort Bragg and took command of the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne.

    “I served under Gen. Austin when he was the commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq,” said retired Army Colonel Kevin Arata of Fayetteville. Arata said he did not work for Austin directly, but had “the opportunity to view his leadership style on many occasions. He always struck me as someone who exudes very positive leadership qualities.” Arata was Chief of Public Information in 2011, in Baghdad, Iraq.

    If confirmed as Secretary of Defense by the Senate, Austin would be the first Black leader of the Pentagon. He also served in 2012 as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army, the service’s number 2 ranking position.

    As a career military officer who served 41 years in uniform, the 67-year-old Austin would need to obtain a congressional waiver to serve as defense secretary, exempting him from the legal requirement that a former member of the military be out of uniform at least seven years before serving as secretary of defense. The law was meant to preserve the civilian nature of the Department of Defense. There is some opposition in Congress who believe a clearer line should be drawn between the civilian and military leadership of the DoD.

    Austin has a reputation for strong leadership, integrity and a sharp intellect. When he retired in 2016, President Obama praised his “character and competence” as well as his judgment and

    He would not be a prototypical defense secretary, not because of his 41-year military career but because he has always shied from the public eye. Officials in the know contend it would be an understatement to say he was a quiet general. Although he testified before Congress, he gave few interviews and preferred not to speak publicly about military operations.

  • 04 Pitt IMG 4739Are you stressed out enough, Bunkie? Would you like some more tension in your life? Time to add a new layer of anxiety to your weary load. What are the perfect Christmas presents to magically cancel your loved ones’ 2020 stress? As a service to both my readers, here are some gift ideas that will turn 2020 into purple haze of happiness morphing this year into a triumph of comfort and joy.

    Being a person of the oblivious male persuasion, I frequently encounter troubles finding the perfect gift for my wife, Lani. Other clueless husbands may have similar Christmas issues. Husbands, I feel your pain. I know you would rather watch a basketball game than go shopping, but that is not to be. You must buy the perfect gift. No pressure. Find something for her that will erase all of your shortcomings of the past year.

    The first place to start looking for gift ideas is on the inside back cover of old Superman and Donald Duck comic books. There are more gift ideas there than a 19th Century Mormon would need for all his wives. I began collecting comic books back in the 1950s when they were only a dime. I had zillions of them. I ordered treasures from the back of the book: ant farms, toy soldiers and an Invisible Space Helmet. Really good stuff. A bit of background information about those ads to get us started. The Father of Comic Books ads was a dude named Harold von Braunhut. Harold was an inventor and better salesman than even Don Draper of “Madmen.” According to Mr. Google, Harold came up with 195 patents including the amazing Sea Monkeys, Invisible Goldfish, and X-Ray Specs which allegedly allowed adolescent boys to see under the clothing of ladies of the female race. (Author’s note: the X-Ray Specs did not work).

    Enough history, you say: “What hath Harold wrought?” The ads on the back of the comic books were a wonderland of great gags, hilarious and disgusting products and phony teeth. Consider what you can buy from the inside cover: a 7-foot-long Polaris nuclear submarine which fires rockets and torpedoes for only $6.98. Learn to be a ventriloquist for only a quarter. See Behind Glasses with secret mirrors that let you see what was happening behind your back. Onion Gum that “looks like real gum but tastes like ONIONS!” (emphasis in original). A Joy Buzzer you wear like a ring “when you shake hands, it almost raises the victim off his feet with a shocking sensation.” (I had one of those) Trick black soap that “looks ordinary but the victim washes his face and gets blacker and blacker” for only 25 cents. A Secret Spy scope with “a wide field magnifier concealed in a pen sized pocket scope that lets you peek to your heart’s content. So handy for sporting events, counter-spying, and Girl Watching.” Only $2.98.

    But wait! There are more items for your consideration: police handcuffs for $4.98. Fake bullet hole decals that are “strikingly effective on cars or windows. Looks like you’ve been shot at.” 49 cents. Fake vomit, providing loads of laughs. A squirrel monkey for only $13.50. A Geiger Counter for $24.95 — “This is no toy! It is a scientific instrument — yet a child can use it to find great wealth!” A tool that can remove ugly blackheads in seconds for only $1.00.

    Need a gift for a 97-pound weakling? Give the gift from Charles Atlas who can make you a new man in only 15 minutes a day through his patented Dynamic Tension method. Remember the beach bully who yelled “Hey Skinny… Yer ribs are showing” at Joe the 97-pound weakling? His girlfriend tells him not to let the bully hit him. Unfortunately, the bully clobbers him, telling Joe: “Shut up, you Bag of Bones!” Embarrassed, Joe orders Charles Atlas’ system and works out. On Joe’s return to the beach, he socks the bully saying: “Here’s a love tap from the Bag of Bones.” Girlfriend dutifully impressed, takes Joe’s arm and says “Oh Joe, you are a real He-Man after all.” Two other girls on the beach say “What a man, and he used to be so skinny!” Turn your 97-pound weakling friend into a real He-Man.

    Unfortunately, not all ads could be verified as truthful. The World of Hijinks page from Unsupervised Corp accompanying this column may have some fake items. Pet cigarettes featuring a cat smoking might be an exaggeration. A Door Mat Mine that explodes will make your friends fly. Pit Vipers “delivered direct to your favorite victim. What a hoot!” Eye Daggers with “spring loaded carbon steel knives shoot from your eyes.” Uranium Gum Looks like regular gum. But it will make their teeth glow in the dark.” A life-sized model guillotine for $3. A barrel of live monkeys —“Oh boy, that’s right, real monkeys! Don’t ask where we got ‘em. We have to move them fast. They already ate all our exploding sandwiches.” The famous Exploding Sandwich “Sit back and watch the fun. Your victim will go on a diet.”

    Everyone on your Christmas list will be more than delighted to receive any of these fine items as a Yuletide treat. Sorry, no refunds. All sales are final. Merry Christmas!

  • 03 CowsFeedingHC1706 sourceFood plays a major role in our lives, especially during what we call “the holidays.”

    We kick off the season with Thanksgiving turkey and all the “fixins,” whatever that means, at individual celebrations. Right now, we are in what I think of as the goodie phase of the holidays. Neighbors share divine treats — toffee, salted nuts, homemade holiday cookies with icing, even fruitcakes, and we love them all. Many of us have big Christmas dinners, maybe not the proverbial English goose and “figgie” pudding, but our own versions of feasting nonetheless. We top off the season with New Year’s bubbly and greens and black-eyed peas for good luck.

    We also have huge problems with the systems that produce our food. Food production in the United States and in other parts of the world has become so industrialized that is endangering us and our environment. Food production of both crops and livestock is so mechanized that it bears little resemblance to the crops our forebears grew or the animals they tended.

    What does industrial food production actually mean?

    Since the mid-20th century, crops of all sorts have been increasingly grown with the use of machinery, irrigation and especially the widespread use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. This growth takes place on huge fields of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of acres and often lacks crop diversity or crop rotation. This system is efficient and has been profitable for the large corporations which use it, but at a high cost to our environment. Agriculture accounts for as much as 90% of fresh water use in some parts of the nation, and farming the same crops in the same way year after year depletes the soil. In addition, it leaves behind chemicals and elements and, in truth, no one really knows the long-term impacts on our earth or on us. There are lakes and other bodies of water in our nation where swimming and other recreational activities are no longer allowed, dead zones where no plant or animal life exists because of agricultural chemicals.

    Ditto for livestock — cattle, poultry, seafood — production, which is so industrialized that some animals’ feet never touch the earth. They go from “house” to “house” as they grow in size until the day they meet their maker and their body parts begin journeys to our neighborhood supermarkets, a practice known as confined animal feeding operations, or CAFO. These packed-in animals grow up on antibiotics, hormones and vitamins, whose effects on us or our environment are not always clear. Eastern North Carolina, including Cumberland and surrounding counties, have ongoing experience with this sort of livestock production and its consequences. No matter what we call them, “lagoons” of animal waste dotting the North Carolina landscape cannot be a state asset.

    Industrial food production is efficient but unsustainable, with preserved food traveling sometimes cross-country and internationally before human beings consume it. We cannot continue this way without severe and long-lasting environmental damage and negative effects on the human beings in proximity to such operations. We do not really know the effects on those who consume these products, both plant and animal. Quantity may not be more important than quality.

    To be sure, there is growing concern about industrialized food production, and increasing numbers of Americans are turning to more sustainably produced food, grown in more traditional and more humane conditions. Such food, however, is unavailable in some communities and when it is available, it is likely to be more expensive than industrially produced food.

    Among the many challenges facing our nation and the world in coming decades is developing more sustainable and more humane food production and making it both available and affordable. Earl Butz, America’s Secretary of Agriculture in the 1970s, famously said to farmers “get big or get out,” and that has largely happened. It is time now to pay attention to a quote attributed to various 19th century Europeans, “we are what we eat.”

    All I can say is that this American is trying to eat cleaner and closer to home this holiday season, goodies and all.

  • 02 UCWLOGO 25 yearsNo doubt about it, the flow of relevant, truthful and honest news is being attacked on many fronts.

    The business of media has experienced profound changes, and we find ourselves continually dealing with the way we gather the news, receive the news, and actually how we fund the news. Local media is under assault nationwide with chains absorbing community newspapers, and often decimating them.

    The Fayetteville community lacks a strong, daily source of local news. We have a mediocre talk radio station, no local TV station, and a daily left-of-center daily newspaper that is a shadow of its former self. It's a sad situation for a community of 300,000-plus residents. No doubt, Fayetteville is on the verge of becoming North Carolina's next "news media desert." We cannot let this happen.

    Here in Fayetteville, we have difficulty staying informed of important issues that go before the Fayetteville City Council, County Commissioners and the CC school board. Without dedicated news reporters no one is covering these meetings, asking pertinent questions and presenting the facts for analyses and discussion by the community.

    Up & Coming Weekly, like other weekly newspapers across the country, has always been the local community's heart and conscience. We celebrate the community and promote people, businesses, organizations, music, the arts and culture. We showcase our community's uniqueness and provide a platform for views – both popular and unpopular. We reflect the values of our residents, businesses and organizations. When the occasion calls for it, we challenge decisions and actions made by community leaders. This is necessary to ensure transparency. Our citizens deserve no less than our best effort on these tasks.

    Local community newspapers are different than dailies, many of which carry the same regional and national stories shared from content sources. The publishers of a daily in Raleigh simply are not interested in reporting on local details here that do not profoundly affect their city. That task is often left to local area community newspapers, like Up & Coming Weekly, and we’ve been doing that for 25 years.

    You can get headlines anywhere. But, as more and more people rely on social media to keep up with their community, they realize they are missing the essence of what defines their community. This is why a community newspaper is so important. Locally, our citizens need a voice, and they need to know what is going on and taking place in the community. They need to know what their leaders are doing and what decisions are being made. Unlike the state, regional, national and international news, there is no substitute for locally-produced news and views. However, local coverage depends solely on local newsgathering. Local news is all about the community and what is happening in and about your neighborhoods.

    At Up & Coming Weekly, we are committed to continuing to serve as a local news source. We endeavor to keep you informed of what is happening in our community and highlight people and organizations doing great things. We aim to hold our leaders accountable to you. We know Fayetteville and Cumberland County residents value Up & Coming Weekly and our efforts to provide news and information. We welcome your ideas and feedback. We hear you, and rest assured, our newspaper will be expanding to meet the demands of the community.

    Thank you for a great 25 years. We look forward to continuing to serve as your community newspaper.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 01 05 FAITHFUL JOURNEY by artist Richard WilsonRichard Wilson is a prolific artist who can create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that will stand out in any art show, contest or crowd. Up & Coming Weekly recently sat down with the authentic artist to discuss making history, his favorite work of art and the moment his passion for drawing began.

    How did it feel being the first African-American artist to have a portrait displayed in a North Carolina courthouse?
    I was commissioned by The Phoenix Historical Society in Tarboro, North Carolina, to do the portrait of George Henry White, the last former slave to serve in Congress. I was grateful to do it and we also had an art show to coordinate with the unveiling of the portrait of my work. After the unveiling, Mr. Knight [of the Historical Society] was interviewed by the television station and indicated that not only did they make history that night with the portrait, but the artist made history as well by being the first African-American artist to have a portrait hung in any courthouse in North Carolina. I was shocked when I heard that. I was a young budding artist at the time and I was just trying to get my name out there and thought this was a great opportunity for people to get to know who I am. It got my name out there and the show that we did right after that, I had a few of my pieces sell before the show had started. That was an honor for me.

    Please share your story of how you began drawing.
    I started drawing at the age of 8 and I remember watching my dad because he was an artist. My dad used to paint the signs in the town that we lived in and I would help him paint those signs. One thing that was really vivid in my memory was I remember sitting at the dinner table and my dad was drawing me and my brothers while we were sitting at the table. It was so realistic and I thought it was so amazing. It sparked something in me and I started doing it myself and have never stopped.

    Do you have a favorite work of art and can you tell us why?
    That is a hard question because all of the girls in my paintings are my daughters and all of the boys are my nephews. One of them is a piece called “Between Us.” It is a little girl and boy standing by a tree. This piece is the one that actually put me on the map. I was determined to get my work shown to the world so I took vacation leave to send this piece to New York. There was an international art competition in New York called the Pastel Society of America and I entered the contest. The president of the society called to congratulate and tell me that I won one of the top awards which is the National Arts Club Award. I was floored when I heard this. I won $1,000 and a certificate.

    Tell our readers how your Facebook Live Art Shows came about.
    I started this because what I normally do is travel all over the country doing the top arts festivals in several different states. I travel as far as Colorado, Florida and New York. Right when COVID-19 hit, all of my shows started canceling. I had to figure out a way to reach my clients so I decided to do this Facebook Live Art Show and sell my prints. That is how that came about. It has been going very well. When I first started I didn’t think about the fact that I had to do a lot of shipping because when I go to the shows I take the artwork in the van and sell it right there on the spot. Now I am getting a lot of orders so I have to package stuff up. I am doing a lot of shipping and I’m not complaining about it, but it is just another thing added to my workload. Once I get back on the road I will continue to do this because it has allowed me to reach people that I was not reaching at my shows. Social media is one of the things that I was lacking in because I was traveling all the time and just selling my work from place to place. I was trying to do a little bit of social media to try to reach people, but now I am able to reach a lot more people online than I did before.
    I’ve gained some new collectors since I’ve started doing the live show. I still have a website and a lot of people that I’ve seen at shows, I still have them on my mailing list. I have 15,000 people on my mailing list that I generated from doing shows over the years. I’m networking with more people now than I did before.

    Tell us about the inspiration behind the piece “Faithful Journey.”
    It is based off of my life. It is about me stepping out on faith to become a full-time artist. I was actually teaching an art class at Pitt Community College. My goal has always been to do my art full time. In 2014, I told my wife that I had to give myself a chance to do this because you only live once and I have to step out and go for it. So I added more shows to my schedule to compensate my teaching salary and the very first show I did after I quit my job, I made more money that weekend than I did teaching for a whole year. That opened my eyes and that is what “Faithful Journey” is all about because the little boy that was looking back was the voice that was speaking to me right before I told my boss that I was going to leave my job to do my art full time. The little girl pulling the little boy along was that voice that started telling me that we were going to be alright, let’s go! I never looked back and I have been full time ever since. It has been the best decision I have ever made.

    Wilson’s art is being featured in Cool Spring Downtown District’s Art Alley until Dec. 31. Located at 222 Hay St. in downtown Fayetteville, the Art Alley is free and open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information on Wilson and his art visit www.richardwilsonart.com/

    Above photo: "Faithful Journey"

    Below clockwise: "Going Up Yonda," "Between Us," "Stretching Ballerina," "Bessie Coleman"

    All photos courtesy of Richard Wilson

    01 01 GOING UP YONDA by artist Richard Wilson  01 02 Between Us  01 04 BESSIE COLEMAN by artist Richard Wilson  01 03 STRETCHING BALLERINA web



  • 16 from County COVID 19 Press Conference Dec 9Fayetteville area civic leaders and health experts are pleading with citizens to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. They came together in a joint news conference Dec. 9th urging residents to take personal responsibility to protect themselves and others in the fight to defeat the virus.

    “I want everyone to remember these cases are people — our brothers, our sisters, our parents, grandparents, friends and fellow citizens,” County Commission Chairman Charles Evans said.

    Mike Nagowski, CEO of Cape Fear Valley Health System said 60 local people are hospitalized with COVID-19.

    Evans and Nagowski were joined at the news conference in front of the county courthouse by Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin and Cumberland County Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green.

    “Make no mistake – this is a virus that affects everyone,” Nagowski told reporters. North Carolina hospitals currently have enough beds and staff to treat people who need to be in the hospital, whether for COVID-19 or other reasons. But researchers at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services say the number of COVID-19 patients has increased nearly 20% a week on average in the past three weeks, and that at that pace hospitals will run out of space. The availability of intensive care unit beds would likely run out sooner, in a little more than 4.5 weeks, the Sheps Center researchers estimate.

    Local officials acknowledged the repetition of warnings during the news briefing, but urged everyone to wear masks, not to cluster together with others and to wash their hands frequently.

    “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel,” Evans said.

    Army Col. Sheryl Bedno, director of Fort Bragg’s Health Department, said military officials are working to keep soldiers aware of the need to slow the spread of the disease. “We need to work together to fight COVID-19,” she said, noting that many soldiers live off post.

    The state of North Carolina will enter a modified stay-at-home order or overnight curfew Dec. 11, restricting most activities from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. When Gov. Cooper did not shut down dining rooms in North Carolina this time restauranteurs breathed a sigh of relief. Restaurant dining rooms will close at 10 p.m. though takeout can continue afterward. Most restaurant owners are on record saying they don’t do much business after 9 p.m. anyway. Last call for liquor at bars and restaurants has been moved back to 9 p.m. Fast food drive-thru service can continue after 10 p.m. without interruption along with places that provide to-go and curbside pickup service.

    Only large-scale federal emergency financial aid will stave off widespread restaurant closings and continuous damage to the nation’s economy. Restaurant managers have had to limit seating availability to about one half their usual patronage.

    With the decline in business some employees have been temporarily laid off and some menus have been cut back for savings in food purchases. Hours of operation in some cases have been reduced to the most popular times of day.

  • 15 picking recordsReflecting in the calm glow of a tree dressed up for the holidays, I close my eyes to see a kid who fell in love. I couldn't have foretold how long this affair would go on when we first met. And honestly, I can't recall how it started. Was it on the living room floor while mom played the piano, or one of the countless times I stood chin in hands with elbows propped up on the kitchen counter listening to that old radio? All I can really remember is when I first realized it was love.

    Sitting cross-legged behind my childhood home making pictures in the dirt with a tiny twig, I began to sing. There was a hum and a gentle rhythm coming from the dryer vent which sounded like music to that kid. So I sang. Harmonizing with the drone, stringing words into stories and stories into songs.

    Fast forward several decades to the introduction of a fresh Christmas-themed playlist on WCLN the day following Thanksgiving. After weeks of sampling, organizing and planning, a well-curated selection of songs new and old began its 4-week life on the air.

    It was as exciting to launch those songs as it was to receive a copy of the original release of the album, “Let It Be” from the Beatles, long before anyone called it a classic. Reflecting on this lifelong relationship, I'm increasingly aware that my love affair isn't with a certain style or genre, it's not with music from this decade or another, it's music. I love music. I thrill to share the latest discovery as much as I do a long-forgotten treasure with others.

    There was a time in America – and perhaps it still exists to a certain extent – that mass exposure to music was limited to what a few dozen people thought was cool. Or at least what was marketable. Artists and record label execs would collaborate to get songs recorded and begin lobbying radio notables to get the songs distributed and broadcast over the air across the country, leading to record sales and concert tours. It was the only way. But today, with myriad digital options for recording and distribution alike, music lovers and music makers have a very open relationship. It simplifies the process a great deal and makes music more available than ever. Intriguing until those crafting melodies from the depths of their souls realized how much passive listening there is without a thought of who the artist is.

    And that's where I reenter the picture. Introducing radio listeners to artists, their songs, their stories and more. I even use the latest digital tools to highlight special events (look for the WCLN Christmas 2020 playlist on Spotify).
    It's about the music. Sharing the music, more specifically. Music that moves, motivates, calms or excites its listeners to a new or better place. That's what this relationship has become.

    Pictured: Sharing music, whether it be the latest hit or a classic, is a thrill for the author, who also helped craft WCLN's Christmas-themed playlist on the air now.

  • 14 education blackboardStudents with disabilities who transition from high school to college often have questions about support services. When planning for college, students need to understand that disability services or accommodations may be different than those provided on a high school education level. It is important for students to understand their rights and responsibilities.

    FTCC does not exclude students with physical, psychological or learning disabilities. Discrimination is never tolerated nor are students with disabilities denied benefits of any collegiate activities or programs.

    For high school students with disabilities who are eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDA) or Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the need for accommodations and modifications is often addressed by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan. Sharing this information with FTCC is at the disclosure of the student. According to the Office of Civil Rights, an IEP or Section 504 plan can assist the college to identify services that were effective for the student during high school. However, this type of documentation is generally not sufficient because there are differences between high school and college. Since the nature of the disability could change from high school to college, accommodations may differ. If a student is under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian must accompany the student. FTCC, through the Disability Support Services office, will ensure that the need for accommodations will be considered for the student. Medical documentation from a healthcare or psychological provider is required.

    Students enrolled at FTCC who are requesting disability services or accommodations must include required medical documentation from a healthcare or psychological provider. Documentation should be current (within the past five years) and will be used to evaluate requests for reasonable accommodations and auxiliary aids. The evaluation process will include the impact of the documentation on the objectives and standards of the program, course or activity. As suitable to the disability, the documentation should include six essential elements: 1) Diagnostic statements must identify the diagnosis, which the student should provide the most current date of the diagnostic evaluation. 2) Descriptions of diagnostic criteria, methods and tests upon evaluations. 3) Descriptions of the disabilities current functional impact on the student, such as the examiner’s recommendations and interpretations. 4) Services, treatments, assistive technology or devices, and medications currently prescribed or applied. 5) Descriptions of the stability or expected progression of the disability as it impacts the student within the next few years. 6) Credentials of the diagnostic professional should be eligible and qualifiable. In addition to these elements within the documentation, the diagnostician’s recommendations for accommodations will be considered by the college.

    All documentation is confidential and should be submitted to the Disability Support Services Office at FTCC. For more information about disability support, to request accommodations or more specific information from the Disability Support Services, please email ADA@faytechcc.edu or call 910-678-8349.

    Pictured: FTCC is committed to helping students with disabilities transition from high school to college.

  • 09 Baby store 2The Cumberland County Health Department has reopened the Baby Store which is located on the second floor of the Public Health Center at 1235 Ramsey St. The store is for clients who spend “baby bucks” earned by attending appointments and participating in programs.

    To protect against the spread of COVID-19, appointments are required to visit the store and only the customer and her children will be allowed to enter. Call 910-433-3890 to secure a 15-minute appointment.

    Shoppers must wear facemasks and visit the hand sanitizing station prior to shopping.

    The Baby Store is an incentive-based, prenatal health promotion program that aims to create healthy moms and healthy babies. Health Department clients earn “baby bucks” by attending their prenatal care appointments and participating in health education programs such as smoking cessation, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding classes.

    Cumberland County Health Department

  • 08 Cumberland County Library BranchThe Cumberland County Public Library system is preparing for some fun this winter with its annual Winter Reading and Activity Program or WRAP which launched Dec. 1 and goes through Jan. 31. All eight library branches give customers opportunities to win prizes for reading or participating in reading-related activities.

    While the libraries remain closed to the public because of COVID-19 precautions, residents can pick up program materials at the front of the libraries during business hours. WRAP uses Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for programming, including videos and interactive virtual events. A calendar of events is available at co.cumberland.nc.us/departments/library/events-calendar.

    North Regional Library customer Julia Furman depends on curbside pick-up to help supplement her 6-year-old twins’ learning at home. With assistance from Youth Services Library Associate Robin McKoy, Furman checks out about 150 books every two weeks.

    “The resources are endless, and the customer service is phenomenal—there’s nothing like it,” Furman said.

    “The WRAP program is a perfect starting point if you have never used the Cumberland County Public Library,” said McKoy. “Public Libraries are a gift,” said Furman. “They offer the opportunity for endless learning and growth for all ages.”

  • 07 Angel Wright LanierThe city of Fayetteville isn’t always able to match county government’s employee wage structure. City police officers are paid less than sheriff’s deputies, something Police Chief Gina Hawkins says she has been working with City Manager Doug Hewett to correct.

    Assistant Fayetteville City Manager Angel Wright-Lanier surprised some in city hall when she recently announced she is going across town for a similar job with county government Jan. 1. Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon is hiring Wright-Lanier an assistant manager filling a vacancy created by a recent retirement.

    Wright-Lanier is receiving a nice pay raise. Official records indicate she will earn an annual starting salary of $162,000 compared to $155,500 that she is being paid by the city.

    “I look forward to the new role and continuing to develop as a leader, while still serving this community,” Wright-Lanier said. She has a bachelors degree, two masters and is studying for a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University.

    Wright-Lanier is the second senior administrator to leave city government this year. Long time Deputy Manager Kristoff Bauer resigned in July.

    Pictured: Angel Wright-Lanier

  • 06 Afghan 82nd by MSgt Alejandro Licea Jan 2020Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller has made it official: the U.S. military will draw down forces in Afghanistan and Iraq by Jan. 15, 2021. Forces will be cut in half in Afghanistan to 2,500, and by 500 troops in Iraq to 2,500, Miller said.

    This decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with his national security cabinet over the past several months, Miller said. “I have also spoken with our military commanders and we all will execute this repositioning in a way that protects our fighting men and women,” he added.

    Elements of the 82nd Airborne Division in the region could be among the troops to come home. President Trump has called for American troops to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan since he assumed office in 2017. The troop drawdown will be completed just five days before President-elect Joe Biden’s planned inauguration.

    The order was announced days after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and replaced him with Miller. Shortly before his firing, Esper sent a classified memo to the White House in which he expressed concern about the accelerated timeline for a troop withdrawal.


    Pictured: A Paratrooper assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division provides security during a key leader engagement earlier this year in southeastern Afghanistan. (Photo by Master Sgt. Alejandro Licea, courtesy of DVIDS)

  • 05 V2 cartoon ballot donkey elephantIn D.G. Martin's Nov. 18 article “Waking up as a Republican” we once again see that the far left “Intelligentsia” is one of the primary sources of both the animus and the divisiveness that is so prevalent in our country today.

    It is obvious that Martin's arrogance has led him to base his judgments on either the latest slogans being shouted in the street or a willful involvement in misrepresenting those who do not agree with the socialist approach to our problems.

    The founders of this country had the attention span and classic training to think deep thoughts and make great plans; something sadly missing today. They knew that government was a cruel and dangerous task master. They wanted to guard against its over reach and the resulting tyrant of a ruling class. Take a look around you and determine for yourself, have we maintained the wisdom they passed on to us?

    One of the founding principles is the freedom to strive to be all you can be, devoid of any interference by government. It is a system that rewards preparation, hard work, calculated risk taking, grasping opportunities that present themselves and a positive attitude toward yourself and life in general.

    It also has an element of competition and as any sports coach will tell you, competition makes the team better.

    This is why we were the greatest economic engine in the world. The move to replace this element of our national personality and replace it with an overdeveloped sense of “everybody-gets-a-trophy fairness” is why we have shipped our productivity offshore to the lowest bidder so that we can have more cheap stuff. It is why China is in the process of replacing us as the premier superpower.

    Lots of people of all ethnicities and economic circumstances are waking up to the fact that the “Nanny State” does not guarantee success in life. It doesn't even guarantee “fairness.”

    What it does guarantee is that you will be held at the point that you remain dependent on the government. If we reject this tyranny by the ruling class and adhere to the rule of law then we will have true fairness. At this point if you are white, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or whatever – WHO CARES! Show me what you’ve got. What do you bring to the game?

    Is this all there is to it? Of course not, but it is the foundation. Will we not need any regulations, oversight or negative consequences for gaming the system? Of course we will, but every law, regulation or consequence should increase freedom not reduce it. Are there those who we have a moral obligation to help. Definitively yes and that is another discussion.

    So how about it. Do you have the guts to compete? Are you curious about what you can accomplish if no one is standing in your way? Can you try, fail and try again until you succeed? Do you believe that the people who wrote our founding documents were smart, visionary individuals? If your answers are yes, then maybe you should wake up and realize you are a Republican.

  • 04 NC flagiconWhile modern conservatism in America brings together a number of discrete groups, interests and priorities, one of its unifying themes is maximizing freedom — by which conservatives mean maximizing the right of individuals, families and private associations to make their own decisions rather than having them overruled by government coercion.

    Applying this principle can be challenging. To limit is not to extinguish, for example. The vast majority of conservatives accept that government can and should intervene in private affairs when required to protect the rights to life, liberty and property.

    Because those violations aren’t always easy to detect, or to adjudicate in court, conservatives accept that regulation may be needed (in the case of combatting air pollution or communicable disease, for example).

    Moreover, applying the freedom principle is complicated by differing definitions of terms. Some say it clearly includes the right of women to terminate pregnancies. Others argue that both the mother and the unborn child have rights that merit government protection.

    Complexities aside, maximizing freedom is a core conservative goal. Over the past 10 years of largely conservative governance in North Carolina, we have made significant progress toward that goal.

    For starters, when government collects only the tax revenue required to fund core services and otherwise keeps its hands out of our pockets, that leaves us freer both to take care of our families and to support the enterprises and causes that best reflect our values.

    Thanks to fiscal restraint and a series of tax reforms, North Carolina now ranks 10th in the nation in tax climate, according to the Tax Foundation, up from 34th as recently as 2014.

    Another legislative priority since 2010 has been lightening North Carolina’s regulatory burden. Lawmakers have repealed or rewritten many regulations. They have also changed the system itself, requiring state agencies to review old rules on a
    regular basis.

    Combining both fiscal and regulatory measures, the Frasier Institute’s Economic Freedom of North America index now ranks North Carolina 11th in the nation, up from 19th in 2010.

    Even in areas where government must by constitutional design or practical considerations play a significant role, such as education, conservatives generally argue that those who receive public services should be allowed to choose the provider that best meets their needs.

    We dislike monopolies here for precisely the same reasons we dislike monopolies in other sectors.

    Since 2010, North Carolina has promoted choice and competition in education by removing a statewide cap on charter schools and giving students with special needs or modest incomes direct aid to attend the schools of their choice.

    On the Cato Institute’s index of educational freedom, North Carolina ranks 6th in the nation, up from 21st as recently as 2012.

    Moreover, an increasing share of North Carolinians are making use of alternative arrangements. Our state ranks 9th in the nation in the share of K-12 students enrolled in an option other than district-run public schools.

    Of course, not all indicators show such gains in freedom. North Carolina still licenses too many occupations, keeping workers from boosting their incomes and entrepreneurs from starting new businesses.

    We have not made enough progress in breaking up health-care monopolies. And there are too many governmental rules still on the books that do not deliver real-world benefits greater than their all-too-real costs.

    Nevertheless, I think North Carolina conservatives should be pleased with the overall trajectory.

    Our state is a much-freer place than it was a decade ago.

    Of course, I recognize that other North Carolinians may be looking at these same indicators and cringing.

    They think our taxes ought to be higher, and more elaborately designed to favor some sectors or behaviors over others.

    They think state government (and many local governments) are underfinanced.

    They think a lot more tax money would make education and other services a lot better.

    And many reject the very definition of freedom I’m using here, the absence of government restraint.

    By all means, let’s continue having that conversation. Fortunately, we are all free to do so.

  • 03 yard decorationsAmong my great seasonal pleasures is unpacking the Dicksons’ holiday decorations, all long familiar and some deeply dear.

    I treasure some like the clothespin reindeer made in Sunday school classes that seem now to have occurred in a different lifetime. The hand towel angel that has topped our tree for decades. The years and years of annual White House ornaments spanning both Democratic and Republican presidencies. The sparkling objects I love just because they are beautiful.

    Over my lifetime, holiday decorations have become more elaborate and, perhaps because of that, they go up earlier. In my neighborhood, there were several pre-Thanksgiving holiday door decorations as well as trees twinkling in some windows. Since Thanksgiving, virtually every home has at least begun decorating, including ours. There always seems to be one more ornament to hang and one more angel to put in a window. Increasingly, not just interiors but exteriors are bedecked.

    Residents of a house down the street have outlined the entire frame of their home with white lights, giving off what seems to me not the peace of the season but something akin to light pollution. Others have inflatable Santas and reindeer in their yards, even on their rooftops.

    All of this seasonal decorating takes a great of thought, time, and, I suspect, money. We have to conceive of it, locate it, buy it, and install it—or pay someone else to do all those tasks. Then my well-lit neighbors and others face hefty electricity bills after the lighting extravaganza is over.

    None of this is new in 2020. We have been getting more and more decorated for decades. What does seem different this season is our attitude.

    The whole decorating operation seems almost frantic, fraught with a collective yearning for what feels “normal” at this special time of year. Maybe if we just put up one more ornament or one more wreath, the horrors of 2020 will magically be behind us. It is an understandable human reaction to stress—to divert attention away from the problem and onto something that gives us pleasure.

    There is no getting around the reality that COVID is everywhere among us. COVID is now the leading cause of death in the United States, taking more people than cancer, heart attacks and strokes. The daily death toll is approximately one 9/11 attack every single day, and infectious disease experts expect that dreadful number to continue rising as many Americans tire of COVID restrictions and others intentionally and inexplicably thumb their noses at them without regard to others, including their own loved ones. We should all be shamed by the exhausted doctors and nurses weeping publicly for government masking mandates, because they simply cannot work any harder or longer.

    For months after COVID landed on American soil, I knew no one who had been infected, and while I tried to adhere to expert advice, I sometimes felt a little silly in my mask. Today, the first friend I know who caught COVID in April, a healthy 42-year-old woman, says she finally breathes well and feels herself after all these months. Others within my circle of friends and acquaintances have been infected and become ill, some with more severe symptoms than others and several who were hospitalized, have recovered. Two have died, leaving families both stunned and devastated.

    The Dicksons are decorating, though not with a light show, and looking forward to a peaceful holiday season. We will not see many others outside our family circle, and we will miss them and the warm occasions of past holidays. We also know that this is the right call for 2020.

    Not to do so makes us wrong—possibly dead wrong.

  • 02 mask take out FlagWhile reading Margaret Dickson’s column for this week’s issue, something she wrote hit me like a gut-punch: “COVID is now the leading cause of death in the United States, taking more people than cancer, heart attacks and strokes. The daily death toll is approximately one 9/11 attack every single day…”

    Read that again. The daily death toll of COVID-19 is about one 9/11 attack every day.

    If that doesn’t put this virus into perspective, I don’t know what could.

    What did you do on September 12, 2001? Did you cry, vow to do your part to defeat the evil ones who perpetrated such destruction on our country? Did you donate blood? Did you plant American flags in your yard? Did you enlist in the military?

    Did you, like me, decide with your family that you would not be leaving the military as you planned but would stay to do your part and help where needed?

    Folks, it is another September 12 moment in this country. We all need to help where it is needed. Right now.

    We all have to do our part to stop the spread of this virus. It is evil — not in the form of violent men crashing airplanes into buildings — but in the form of an illness that may spare one but kill another. You may have it and not know it. You may spread it without even knowing you have been exposed.

    I am just as tired as anyone else of wearing a mask. I am just as ticked off at politicians who tell us not to spend holidays with our loved ones, and then go on vacation with their families. I am disgusted at lawmakers who close down businesses but sneak in the back door to get their own hair done.

    But I try not to confuse this kind of frustration with civic responsibility.

    As a beneficiary of the enormous freedom I have as a citizen of the United States, I believe I owe it allegiance, participation in its defense, a commitment to see that it endures for my children, and a responsibility in the care of its people. If that means I have to give up a little personal comfort and wear a mask, then so be it. It is the least I can do. It is what is needed. Right now.

    I grow weary of the folks who want to throw words like “freedom” and “government control” around like we can’t follow simple safety precautions without infringing our own personal freedom. Wearing a mask in public does not make me a slave to the government. It doesn’t make me a liberal or a conservative. It makes me a considerate, responsible citizen who doesn’t want to unknowingly pass a potentially fatal disease to someone else.

    I am not a fan of any elected official telling the rest of us who is “essential” and what businesses should be allowed to remain open. I am a huge proponent of people being responsible, accountable citizens. And right now, that means wearing a mask and staying away from others as much as possible.

    I personally do not want to sit down in a restaurant with a hundred other people — all of whom could be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. I can keep doing the take-out thing. But, for those who choose, they can still go eat out in restaurants. That is the very definition of “freedom,” folks. I choose what is best for me and my family. You choose what is best for yours. As with everything else in life, there are limits, and we should view them through a lens of civic responsibility and common decency.

    As Americans, we are so spoiled that we believe that being told to do anything is an infringement on our rights. Somehow we have lost understanding of the central idea that my rights end at the point where they endanger yours. I can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, I can’t drive 80 in a school zone, I can’t shoot off a firearm into the air in a public place. It is not government control to establish and enforce policies for the common good. If I am being a responsible person and citizen, I do my part to not put others in danger.

    It really is that simple. I have no time for those who want to argue the finer points of slippery slope logic. They want to dog-pile the public health conversation with every conceivable notion about comparisons with the flu, being conditioned into giving up freedoms, etc. They are missing the point. Choosing to prioritize the risk to others above your own personal preference and comfort is not giving up freedom — it is a commendable exercise of

    Doing the right thing is not infringing your rights. To those who are burning their masks is revolt, I say this: get over yourselves. Wear your mask, wash your hands, and until everyone is safely vaccinated, please, keep your distance.

    Pictured: Choosing to prioritize the risk to others above your own personal comfort is a commendable exercise of freedom. (Photo illustration by Dylan Hooker)

  • 10 Branding New logo collageSince February of last year, the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Branding Committee has been researching, surveying and developing a new strategy to impress locals and outsiders.

    The group has come up with what it hopes will elevate greater Fayetteville’s image. Its unified brand is designed to communicate the community’s strengths, celebrate diversity and attract prospective residents and businesses.

    The basic platform is “Can Do Carolina” which is intended to showcase the best aspects of the locality. It is designed to replace “History, Heroes and a Hometown Feeling.”

    The Fayetteville Cumberland Collaborative Branding Committee is a partnership of the city of Fayetteville, county of Cumberland, the Tourism Development Authority, Chamber of Commerce, Arts Council, Convention & Visitors Bureau, Crown Complex, Vision 2026, Cool Spring Downtown District, Cumberland County Schools and the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation.

    Robert Van Geons, President and CEO of FCEDC said the participants have agreed to adopt the “Can Do Carolina” concept which harnesses community values: a low cost of living, north-south midpoint along I-95, patriotism and proximity to Fort Bragg, the world’s most populous military reservation.

    Branding consultant North Star led the process of in-depth research via individual conversations, focus groups and surveys. More than 4,000 people were directly involved.

    “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around … in other words, your reputation,” said Will Ketchum, president of North Star.

    North Star will now lead the creative development to include the creation of messaging, taglines, logos and a brand narrative.

    A FCCBC media release announcing the new branding said the new regional logo includes the state of North Carolina with a star that marks Cumberland County. The star has emerging beams which represent the vibrant community where anything is possible.

    A variety of creative applications for Fayetteville and Cumberland County and participating stakeholders has been developed.

    The next step is to include local organizations that want to take part in the initiative by rebranding their entities in alignment with “Can Do Carolina.”

    “Cumberland County is a welcoming, diverse community that offers a favorable quality of life,” said County Commission Chairman Marshall Faircloth.

    Van Geons said he hopes the “Can Do Carolina” campaign helps open people’s eyes to the community’s attributes. He told Up & Coming Weekly he was astonished to learn that many of the local people questioned had a negative impression of their community.

    Van Geons outlined four pillars upon which the “Can Do Carolina” concept was built: we find a way, we care for one another, we protect the world and we always go further.

    The branding committee noted that “Can Do Carolina” is a simple message of optimism and action that provides unified countywide enthusiasm.

    “We want people to know that we are one of the best U.S. cities to start a career … our number one product is our people,” said Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin.

    Van Geons noted that Fayetteville is best known worldwide as the home of Fort Bragg. Roughly 7,000 people transition out of the military into the local workforce every year.

    Colvin referred to them as “technologically advanced leaders” who contribute to our diverse community.

  • 13 01 Paratrooper Santa 2The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to change holiday plans this year, canceling traditional events such as shows, light displays and parades. Although modifications were needed, not even a pandemic could keep soldiers and families on Fort Bragg from continuing some holiday traditions this year.

    The 20-foot Fraser fir Christmas tree is lit up on the Main Post Parade Field for families to view and enjoy, something the installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation department is proud to display.

    “MWR is really big about the soldiers and their families so this tree symbolizes a big part of that and enjoying the spirit of holidays in general and bringing back kind of the family atmosphere to the garrison to celebrate,” said Keegan McDonald, event coordinator for Fort Bragg Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the tree lighting was a virtual event this year, but people can still come to the Main Post Parade Field where the tree will be all holiday season, to look at it and take pictures, he said.

    Fort Bragg’s Trees for Troops event is set to take place at the Smith Lake Recreation Center on Dec. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon.

    The event will give out free Christmas trees — one per family to activity duty personnel in the rank of E-6 and below with a valid DOD ID card and a voucher. Vouchers were handed out at the Leisure Travel Services office.

    Trees will be passed out to non-voucher holders after 10 a.m. based on availability. For more information, soldiers can contact the BOSS office at 910-643-4569 or

    The heart of what the garrison does is take care of soldiers and their families, said James Day, DFMWR’s Outdoor Recreation branch manager.

    “Every year, we host the Trees for Troops event in which Christmas trees are donated to our soldiers,” Day said. “This year 300 trees will be provided to soldiers and families to enjoy during the holiday season. Our single soldiers with the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program will distribute them at the Smith Lake Recreation Area.”

    Some of the other upcoming holiday events at Fort Bragg are the Holiday Concert, All American Presents from Paratroopers and a free meal give-away for paratroopers and their families, said Lt. Col. Mike Burns, Public Affairs Officer for the 82nd Airborne Division.

    The 82nd Band and Chorus Holiday Drive-In Concert will be held on Pike Field Dec. 17, with bands playing a variety of Christmas music. The event is free.

    “Each year we do a holiday concert for our families, this year due to COVID it will be a drive-up event,” Burns said. “We are doing things a little bit different, we are moving to Pike Field … and families will be able to enjoy the concert from the comfort of their own car or a small area around their car, to help prevent the spread of COVID.”

    Pike Field is a large and open area on post that can accommodate vehicles for the concert, Burns said. The concert will be an hour long show and a great opportunity for families to come together and enjoy
    some music.

    “I would say this concert is important to the soldiers here in the Division, it's been a really tough year, a lot of soldiers are deployed, and their families are still here,” Burns said. “It’s important for people to get together and celebrate the holidays and it’s a great time, really fun, and a high quality professional level concert.”

    The members of the 82nd Airborne Association will host a meal give-away for paratroopers and families on Dec. 11, at the All-American Chapel. For more information on times visit www.facebook.com/287901225386/posts/10164689157945387/

    The association is made up of veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division and their families. They come together every year and provide meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas for service members, Burns said.

    All American Presents from Paratroopers is an annual toy drive that gives paratroopers an opportunity to give back to Fort Bragg’s local communities, Burns said.

    “Every year, paratroopers come out and donate a toy for an opportunity to jump from a helicopter and earn foreign jump wings,” he said. “The only requirement is they donate a toy.”

    Events like these are what makes the season special and lets the families know they are a part of the airborne legacy,
    Burns said.

    (Pictured above) The Presents from Paratroopers toy drive is an annual event where soldiers donate toys to participate in an airborne jump to earn foreign jump wings. This year's event saw about 1,500 toys donated for local families in need. (Below) Soldiers help prepare food bags to be donated to families in need. (Photos courtesy 82nd Airborne Division PAO)

    13 02 bragg turkey 2

  • 12 Village 5The typical hustle and bustle of the holiday season is muted this year. Family plans and holiday outings have crumbled due to the pandemic. Despite it all, The Village Baptist Church invites the people of Cumberland County to experience the joy of Christmas through a social-distancing-friendly drive-thru event Dec. 11-13.

    Chris Ferger, the Pastor of Worship and Arts at The Village, said that the church’s Easter production was cancelled due to COVID-19, so he was looking for opportunities to still celebrate the Christmas holiday.

    “I thought the best way to allow people to see and experience the story of Christmas in a safe, COVID-free environment is to have a drive-thru Christmas,” he explained.
    “I used to do something similar years ago for Easter and I just thought it would be a great idea. So, we put together a team that could pull it off.”

    Organizing a Christmas drive-thru event is no easy feat, but with the help of hundreds of volunteers since April participating in musical recordings, set design, acting, guiding traffic, hospitality, advertising, animal management and more, The Village anticipates an unforgettable experience.

    Keeping in line with the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines and local ordinances and mandates, The Village Choir and orchestra has rehearsed virtually and in venues that allow for social distancing to prepare the recorded music for the event. The music and drama will be available through the Village Baptist Church App or with a CD available as you enter.

    “(Attendees) will be immersed in eight scenes that retell the Christmas story through the eyes of a young shepherd all while listening to music recorded by The Village Choir and Orchestra,” Ferger said.

    Attendees can expect to see live actors and animals, hear Christmas tunes and narration, and experience the anticipation of Christ’s birth with period-accurate clothing and carefully crafted sets. Don’t be shy about taking pictures and videos. The Village would love to see your pictures on social media with the hashtag #ChristmasatTheVillage.

    In a year that has divided so many people both physically and ideologically, The Village uses their love of Jesus to unify the community. “Our community desires the joy and peace that only the true story of Christmas can bring now more than ever,” Ferger said. “People are tired of being cooped up in their homes and are ready to go somewhere that will help them feel the joy of the season. We want people to feel safe as they bring their family.”

    The Christmas Drive Thru at The Village will take place at 906 S. McPherson Church Rd. and will run from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 11-13. The event is free.

    Travelling through all of the scenes will take approximately 20 minutes. Cars, people movers and vans are welcome, but no bicycles, pedestrians or buses will be permitted for the safety of the actors.

    For more information about The Village visit https://thevillagebc.church/

  • 11 129188592 10158638406302332 2254970133696088295 oManna Church is hosting a Christmas Gift Giveaway for families in need this year. The church is collecting toys at all their locations across Fayetteville to include the Cliffdale campus, Anderson Creek, Executive Place, Hope Mills, Ramsey St., as well as the Raeford location.

    The church does some outreach projects each year, but this is the first centralized gift give-away coordinated with all the church locations in the area, said Michele Damato, Manna Dream Center Administrator and Benevolence Coordinator.

    Manna Church will be partnering with United Management that manages several low-income housing communities and the Department of Social Services for the toy giveaway.
    After working with United Management for Manna’s “Trunk or Treat” event in October, Outreach Pastor Tommy Cartwright arranged to partner with them again for a Christmas toy outreach.

    “It was a need they had heard from the residents and we decided to meet that need,” said Damato. “It’s just a simple way to show the love of Jesus with no strings attached.”

    Toys will be distributed among Cross Creek Pointe, Blueberry Place, Tera Gardens and Brookside Hills Apartments in Spring Lake. The church will also be working with DSS to purchase gifts for children at Hope Mills Middle, East Hoke Middle and Overhills High School.

    “We’re collecting toys from church members who have the heart to serve the community,” Damato said. Church members can sign up from lists provided by parents. The lists include not only toy requests but also clothing sizes. Church volunteers will wrap the gifts and deliver them the weekend of Dec. 17-20.

    The toy give-away is not limited to members of Manna Church, but open to anyone in the community who can help, Damato said. Those wishing to participate can visit https://my.manna.church/outreach to sign up.

    The goal for Manna’s outreach is to give away gifts for 300 children this year.

    For more information about Manna Church, visit https://fayftbragg.manna.church

  • 01 01 Cartier 000012 069541 891069 7977After months of staying home due to COVID-19, I felt comfortable visiting a gallery. My first stop was to see the exhibit Artists Who Teach 2020 at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery. I was not disappointed and upon leaving the exhibit I felt a sense of joy seeing works created by art educators from around the country.

    Curator Dwight Smith extended the exhibit until Dec. 19 so more people could visit the gallery and see 36 original works in a variety of media from artists working in higher education and public schools. The gallery and online exhibit are the result of artists from 26 states participating in the national competition by sending 156 images to be part of the selection process.

    Leaving the gallery, I realized my approach to writing an art editorial for Up & Coming Weekly would not be the same as before 2020. Too much has happened this year which has impacted our daily lives and community. A paradigm shift has taken place in Fayetteville, the American culture and around the globe. Then there is the obvious, why would people venture out to see Artists Who Teach 2020 when viewing works of art has become more online accessible than ever before?

    We can stay at home and visit museums and galleries around the world from our living room. Technology and live streaming have defined “our today” in many positive ways; but unfortunately, it has also become a consuming mass distraction — the 2020 Zeitgeist of seeing reproductions online lacks the experiential or contemplation.

    The concept of zeitgeist traditionally refers to the overall spirit of an age (politically, economically and culturally) and cannot be known until it is over. So why does it feel like the 2020 Zeitgeist is not only upon us, but “all over us?” I could go with the contemporary version of zeitgeist, though not pragmatic, and refer to what is tasteful in today’s culture … I do not think that is even possible.

    The information highway is not new, but 2020 online, virtual accessibility and mass communication has fast-forwarded us into sensory overload. This includes, but is not limited to, the lingering COVID pandemic and the resounding influences of the internet: live streaming, hashtags to esports, social distancing to online education, podcasts, Zoom, video-based communities, what is factual, what is real, the video is becoming the main medium for critical cultural moments, and lots and lots and lots of tweets. According to internetlivestats.com, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter every second with 145 million daily active users on Twitter, an average of which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year.

    If you do go to “internetlivestats” you will see a page of flickering, perpetually increasing numbers. Numbers across the screen flick as they are constantly totaling upwards to reveal what happens in a day, by seconds, to compute the increased usage of the following: internet users of the world, number of emails sent, number of websites, google searches, blogs and tweets, videos seen on YouTube, photos uploaded from Instagram, Tumblr posts, actives users on Google, Facebook, Pinterest and Skype, number of websites hacked, number of computers, smartphones and tablets sold, internet traffic, electricity used today on the internet and CO2 emissions from the internet. It is easy to see, hands down, how this website image affirms and IS the definitive 2020 Zeitgeist!

    If you are still reading after the last two paragraphs, a slight sensation might be taking place — too much information! Sensory overload is a part of 2020. Sensory input is most often pleasing; but when we have sensory overload, when one or more of our bodily senses’ experience over stimulation — it can be very unpleasant.

    The main purpose of the internet is to provide global access to data and communications. Sensory overload of information occurs when we do not practice the purpose of information: to resolve uncertainty. Full circle to the beginning of the article: technology and live streaming not only define “our today” in positive ways; but it also has the potential to become a consuming mass distraction - lacking the experiential or contemplation. Bottom line, the explosive growth of information has become sensory overload, unpleasant and even inhibits thinking.

    A starting point to reestablish the best of the remnants of 2019 and back to the notion of thinking, feeling and the real is possible at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery. Curator Smith noted: “Due to the success of last year’s competition, this is the second year we conducted and presented the results of a national competition among art educators. The art educators are from higher education and the public schools’ systems across the nation. The exhibit is a very diverse group of paintings, drawings, prints, mixed media works, and three-dimensional works and showcases the arts as an essential part of a complete education. It does not matter if happens in the home, school, or community. Students of all ages, from kindergarten to college, and creative program all benefit from artistic learning, innovative thinking, and the creative imagination.”

    Smith, also an Associate Professor of Art at Fayetteville State University, and Vilas Tonape, artist, and chair of the Visual Arts Department at Methodist University, both juried the competition from the 156 entries. Tonape selected the six award winners. Ellington White Contemporary Gallery is not only hosting the gallery exhibit but also created an online exhibit. Both exhibits will remain on the gallery online website for one year.

    Online exhibits have been extremely important in 2020 to galleries and museums, but it does not replace the real. Works of art in galleries and museum are more relevant than ever before. Comparing two of the works in Artists Who Teach 2020 is my way of exemplifying the differences and why supporting local galleries is important now and, in the future, when the COVID restrictions are finally lifted.

    While writing this article, I contacted Beverly Henderson, the student intern at Ellington White Gallery, and asked her one simple question: how do you like the exhibit? Her last remarks were: “… a lot of diversity in the works. It was different seeing the work online and when the original works arrived. After we hung the exhibit and I had time to look, I could see more details and felt an emotion from the real work which I did not feel when seeing the online version.”

    Henderson is correct, as soon as you enter the gallery visitors will immediately see very diverse approaches to image or object making; but they will also, unknowingly, sense materiality. Then it takes real time in a real space to examine and compare how each artist creates the content of their work with style, composition and use of materials.

    The materiality of the painting titled “Three Brushes” by Larry Hamilton, from Wichita Falls, Texas, is a masterful oil painting. The beautifully painted small still life captures the essence of a moment in time. Viewers can get close to the oil painting on panel and see a manipulated surface, transitions of light, saturated color, half tones and atmosphere. The physical richness of surface is subtle as it catches the light created of paint and paint medium.

    In comparison, the style of Danielle Cartier, from Camden, New Jersey, is a mixed media work titled “Ever Knew” and is the opposite of Hamilton’s painting. Instead of a traditional still life, the artist has created a multilayered abstract and referential surface using acrylic paint, spray paint and mixed media. Her style is to juxtapose unlike images in the same work to evoke new meaning for the viewer.

    Hamilton’s painting evokes an aesthetic sense of presence, calm, beauty and structure. Cartier’s work is ethereal, moving parts create a whole, we sense process and the act of looking. Whereas Hamilton’s’ pictorial space is about volumetric form, light and the effects of color; Cartier’s work is about decoding messages and signs.

    In both works there is a time element. In “Three Brushes” we sense the artist is sharing a long period of contemplative looking. The exact opposite, Cartier’s “Ever Knew” are the many references and signs we overlook and do not see during the day.

    One could say the attributes of each work is conveyed online. But it is not impossible. The online versions are pictures of a picture (the painting or mixed media). The absence of material results in passive looking. Seeing the actual constructed work is a visceral activity, an active experience which includes the physical presence of the object themselves.

    Even though “Three Brushes” is enjoyed for the illusion of space that is created on a flat surface, it is still first and foremost, an actual object in space that has literal texture, density and weight. Even though most viewers do not think about the qualities inherent in the object, those inherent characteristics are integral to the overall authenticity of the work and are not present in the online version or the reproductions in this article.

    One could say those same aesthetics are communicated online. My answer would be there is a resemblance, but it is not the same. We do not see or experience the physical depth of a painting medium or the tactile edges of mixed media work in an online version. We do not see the differences in the actual surface of the color from spray paint, the chalky quality of pigment blown onto the surface compared to the color of suspended pigment in an oil medium as leaves a tube of paint.

    As an analogy, you do not need to know the science of a sunset to enjoy it. But the sunset would not exist without the science. And experiencing a real sunset is better than a reproduction. That premise relates back to the authenticity of the sunset which exists in time and space. So, it is with a work of art.

    No matter how close technology can bring us to examine a microscopic, detailed surface of a painting – images in this article and online are reproductions. This idea was explored as far back as the late 1930s by Walter Benjamin in his book titled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” The early 20th century was the beginning of mass communication, mass culture and mass commodification. Within that context, Benjamin emphasizes the value of an authentic work of art is the result of its “aura.” It is the “aura” we enjoy and that includes the object’s presence in time and space. It is the same with a sunset, the validity of seeing the real over a reproduction is its physicality, its “aura.”

    In closing, I would like to share a personal story which summarizes everything. After seeing the paintings by Vincent Van Gogh in books and online for over 20 years, I had the opportunity to see a body of his work at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Upon seeing the real work, I immediately realized, after so many years, I had never really seen a painting by Van Gogh. What I had experienced before going to the exhibit, were not remotely comparable to seeing the real painting.

    So here we are, on the precipice of an increasingly changing technological future. And since, according to Benjamin, “our sensory perspective is not completely biological or natural, it is also historical,” what does the future look like for us? How will the internet influence what we value? What choices will we make to prioritize what we do with our time, and how will we choose to deal with increasing mass media and internet overstimulation?

    Perhaps it will not be gloomy, but it will have the opposite affect. We will take action to deal with internet sensory overstimulation of information by doing more of the activities we know helps: critical thinking and reflection, take a walk during our lunch break at work, visit parks or take long walks during the weekend, go to the theater, a musical performance or to a gallery.

    The exhibit Artists Who Teach 2020 is a good place to start and if you take the time to look at each work you will leave the gallery with a sense of pleasure unlike seeing artwork online. Please note the exhibit will not be up for long, until Dec. 19. The gallery is not open Monday-Thursday, but only open on Friday and Saturday between 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

    Like all businesses everyone is required to wear a mask when they enter the gallery. The exhibit was possible by a grant from the Fayetteville and Cumberland County Arts Council. For information mail ewp-arts@hotmail.com or go to their website: https://www.ellington-white.com/

     Pictured above: "Ever Knew" by Danielle Cartier from Camden, New Jersey.

    01 02 Hamilton 000025 086543 568785 7977

    01 03 Kuehl 000031 086704 736915 7977











    Top left: "Three Brushes" by Larry Hamilton from Wichita Falls, Texas

    Top right: "Made in USA" by Dan Kuehl from Roanoke, Virginia

    Bottom left: "Breath" by Paul Adams from Lindon, Utah

    Bottom right: "Life Series" by Jennifer Salzman from Creswell, Oregon

    01 01 Adams Breath wet collodion tintype2000

    01 04 Salzman 000051 079017 496313 7977

  • 01 01 Coventry Carolers Perform at the Jubilee 2018 4Due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in North Carolina, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is canceling this year’s Holiday Jubilee at the 1897 Poe House in order to protect the health and safety of staff and visitors. The Holiday Jubilee was originally scheduled for Dec. 6.

    In a media release Museum staff said routine operations will remain open to visitors.

    Guided tours of the 1897 Poe House are offered at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and on the hour on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors must check in at the Museum of the Cape Fear lobby to sign up for the tour. Tours are limited to 10 people at a time, and visitors must wear a cloth face mask and observe social distancing guidelines. The 1897 Poe House will be decorated for Christmas through Jan. 9, 2021.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear is open for self-guided tours Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors must wear a cloth face mask and observe social distancing guidelines. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

    The Museum and the 1897 Poe House will be closed December 24-26.

    Visitors are encouraged to follow the “Three Ws” as outlined by the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services – WEAR a cloth face mask; WAIT in line at least six feet away from others, and WASH hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. If you are experiencing symptoms of illness, we ask that you postpone your visit.

  • 13 Santa checking listBreak out those stockings, Christmas trees, and red or green masks — it’s time to enjoy a fun, festive and socially distanced holiday season with a visit to meet Santa. That’s right, Santa Claus is planning his trip down from the North Pole to see his friends in Fayetteville, though it will look a little different from years past.

    Santa and his elves have already set up in the Food Court of Cross Creek Mall and will be there through Christmas Eve. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, visits will be no-contact, with families sitting six feet away to ensure proper social distancing. But don’t worry about those Christmas lists. Santa Claus can’t wait to hear what’s on your list and will still be available to talk with little elves-in-training.

    Santa will be available for photos during the following days and times:
    Monday — Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
    Christmas Eve hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    All guests must schedule their visit with Santa using the online reservation platform at https://whereissanta.com/northcarolina/crosscreekmall. You’ll select a date and time, as well as purchase your photo package. Walk-ups will be allowed during the first and last hour of the day, time permitting. All visitors must wear masks before, during and after photos.

    Visitors are reminded that some of the usual holiday events are canceled for this year, including pet photos.

  • 12 food platesIndividuals diagnosed with diabetes may have found themselves asking, “What am I allowed to eat?” Have you gotten a good answer to this question? Probably not. That’s likely because everyone responds to the same foods differently. There’s not a single “magic” diet that works for everyone who has diabetes. The good news is there are some simple rules that everyone can follow to help make sure your diet is working for you.

    The next time you fix yourself a plate of food, try to imagine dividing your plate into four sections that are about the same size. Two of those four sections should be full of non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are things like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, green beans, lettuce, spinach and zucchini. That’s right, half of your plate should be made of vegetables. One of those sections should have grains and starchy foods. Grains are things like beans, bread, pasta, rice or tortillas. Starchy foods are things like apples, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, corn, potatoes and peas. Finally, look at your plate again. The last section of your plate should be protein. Chicken, eggs, low-fat cheese, fish, tofu and turkey are all good sources of protein.

    Another important part of building a diet that helps you manage your blood sugar is looking at what you’re drinking. Sugar sweetened beverages are loaded with sugar and carbs, which increases your blood sugar and your waistline. When you can, choose unsweetened tea rather than sweetened tea. Try to stop drinking sodas and soft drinks. Even diet sodas raise your blood sugar. Water is always a safe choice. If water is too boring, try flavored seltzer waters. Seltzer water has no sugar, no calories, and no sweeteners but more flavor.

    If you’re looking for a more measurable way to use diet to manage your blood sugar, give carb counting a try. Carbohydrates, or carbs, are the starches, sugar, and fiber in food. Your body breaks down the carbs you eat into glucose, or blood sugar. Your body then uses that blood sugar to fuel your muscles and brain throughout the day. When you have diabetes, your body has trouble using the carbs in food. Carb counting is a way to keep your body from being overwhelmed by the food you eat.

    Carbs are naturally found in most foods. You can find the number of carbohydrates in a food by looking at a food label. You’ll find this value under “Total Carbohydrate.” If a food doesn’t have a nutrition label, there are plenty of online applications which can help you find this information. Get started today by writing down what you eat and drink at each meal and snack throughout the day. You’ll want to make sure you write down the serving size of the food you’re eating as well. A serving size is how much of the food you’re eating at one time. Add up all the carbohydrates you ate at each meal and snack on any given day. Bring your diary to your next appointment and your diabetes care team will help you adjust your meals to help you better manage your blood sugars.

    Kelsey Simmons, D.O., is a family medicine physician who completed a fellowship in diabetes at Duke/Southern Regional AHEC in Fayetteville. She provides care at Southeastern Health’s Southeastern Medical Clinic Gray’s Creek.

  • 11 Antoinette Bellamy 3The year 2020 has seen many ups and downs due to COVID-19, especially in the job market. Many students who are finishing out their college time virtually now face a job market that is global, online and more competitive than ever.

    For those fresh out of college, and with less experience, trying to find a job in the pandemic can be challenging. Up & Coming Weekly spoke with Dr. Antionette Bellamy, the director of career services at Methodist University, on what guidance she is providing to local students about to enter the workforce.

    “Recent college graduates should be very flexible with little geographic restrictions and a willingness to relocate,” Bellamy said.

    “The job market can be different depending on the location of the position. New graduates must have the ability to effectively work remotely.”

    Graduates should apply to organizations that have formal recent graduate and leadership development programs, she said. These programs are designed specifically for new professionals, and employers are not expecting a ton of experience. College career fairs are a good place to begin the job search.

    Bellamy answered a few additional questions offering advice for those entering the workforce.

    How can one set themselves apart while looking for a job?
    Students or new professionals should focus on developing core career readiness competencies to enhance their professional profiles and be ready to demonstrate these skills through examples. These competencies include written/oral communication, critical thinking/problem-solving, and leadership. These skills can be obtained through internships, professional organizations, and athletics.The ability to write well and analyze data can make a huge difference in candidates.

    What are some do’s and don’ts of resume writing?
    Do’s for new professionals:
    ·Do limit resumes to one page.
    ·Do include contact information with a professional email address that is checked often.
    ·Do use power verbs and numbers to
    clearly demonstrate your skills and
    ·Do proofread your resume and ensure it is error-free.

    Don’ts of resume writing:
    ·Don’t include pictures of yourself or irrelevant graphics.
    ·Don’t include your high school
    ·Don’t include personal hobbies that are not related to the job.
    ·Don’t include your birthdate or professional affiliations related to your religion or political views.

    Are cover letters important?
    While not all recruiters or hiring managers consider cover letters, for those who do, they are important. Cover letters give candidates the opportunity to elaborate on their skills by sharing examples of their work and relevant accomplishments. While the resume is limited to short bullets, the cover letter will connect those bullets to your experience.

    How can one be a good interview candidate?
    Good interview candidates are prepared. They have researched the organization, they know why they want to work there, and they are able to articulate why they should be selected over other candidates. Good candidates also look the part. They are well- groomed, and they are dressed professionally. In addition, they speak industry language.

    How does one network, and why is it important?
    Networking can be done in small, informal settings and in organized settings such as career fairs. Young professionals can also network with professors, their parents’ colleagues, and former internship supervisors. Professional social media platforms like LinkedIn are also great for networking. Networking is important because it creates a pathway into the workforce. This is also why your brand is important. People should be confident in your abilities and work ethic so they can refer you for positions and serve as references.

    What are some good websites to look for jobs?
    LinkedIn is a good website that is used by recruiters to post positions in various fields. There are also a few industry specific sites that provide career opportunities such as agcareers.com for agricultural/environmental positions, usajobs.gov for federal positions including the Recent Graduates Pathways program, and ncworks.gov which posts positions state-wide.

    Since COVID-19 many more interviews are virtual, do you have tips on how to do well in a virtual interview?
    ·Make sure you have a good internet connection.
    ·Test your camera and microphone.
    ·If you are using a video platform that displays your name, make sure your full name, not the computer’s nickname is displayed. For example, your name should read Jordan Doe, not Doe Family PC.
    ·Select a space that is free from noise, distractions and mirrors. You would be amazed at what people see from reflections in mirrors.
    ·Dress for the virtual interview as you would if it were in-person. You should assume that the interviewer will ask you to stand up for a complete picture.
    ·Participate in a virtual mock interview with a career services professional or a trusted friend and get feedback on your body language.
    ·If possible, engage in small talk prior to the interview beginning. This will help relax you.

    What are some good questions to ask the company you are interviewing with?
    First, never ask a question that can be easily found on the organization’s website. Secondly, you should always ask a question or two. A few good questions to ask are:
    ·Does the organization offer a formal mentorship or professional development program?
    ·What does a typical day in this role
    look like?
    ·What do you like most about working here?

    Methodist University offers resources through the Career Services Hub at www.methodist.edu/career-services.

    Pictured: Dr. Antionette Bellamy, Ed.D., the director of career services at Methodist University spoke with Up & Coming Weekly to offer advice for new graduates navigating the job market during the pandemic.

  • 10 lake rim parkFayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation offers a variety of locations to enjoy the great outdoors. There are a number of activities schedueld for the month of December.

    Archery Clinic — Dec. 5, noon to 3 p.m., $5, Ages 8+
    This class is designed to introduce the sport of archery to beginners. Participants will use compound bows as they learn the basics of archery to include safety, proper stance and follow through. Adults are welcome too. Registration is ongoing, but space is limited.

    Mazarick Park Kayak Tour —Dec. 5, 10 to 11:30 a.m., $15, Adults and ages 10+
    Explore the cypress filled waters of Glenville Lake at Mazarick Park from a kayak. All the equipment and basic instruction for beginners will be provided. This program is offered with special permission from PWC, no private boats are allowed on the lake. Registration is ongoing, but space is limited. Participants under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult.

    Clay Play — Dec. 11; 3 to 4 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
    Mold it, shape it, create something useful, or just get your hands dirty. Join us for clay play at the park to see what you can fashion out of this moldable, malleable substance. Call to register, space is limited.

    Meteor Shower Viewing — Dec. 13; 8 to 10 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
    Learn about asteroids, meteorites and comets then head outside to view the Geminids, one of the most impressive meteor showers of the year. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and dress for the weather. This program occurs after park operating hours, please arrive promptly at 8 p.m. so staff can let you in the gate. Call to register, space is limited.

    Christmas Scavenger Hunt — Dec. 22, 2 to 4 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
    Drop by the park office anytime between 2 and 4 p.m. to pick up a map and loaner compass that will guide you to the lost Christmas presents. Once you have completed the course, return to the office to claim your prize. Call to register beginning Dec. 7.

    Year’s End Walk —Dec. 31, 2 to 3 p.m., Free, all ages welcome
    Bid farewell to 2020 on this interpretive walk around Lake Rim Park. Get a jump start on two great New Year’s resolutions: to spend more time in nature and to continue learning about the world around you. Call to register beginning Dec. 14, space is limited.

    All facilities are open to the public on a first come, first serve basis unless they are reserved.

    Contact the park office ar 910-433-1018 to reserve facilities or register for activities. Office hours are Mon. — Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Visit www.fcpr.us/parks for more information.

  • 09 01 CCA dressed upCumberland Choral Arts is continuing its efforts of making music by adapting to a virtual format during the pandemic. Instead of performing for live audiences this year as they have since 1991, they are using YouTube and Facebook to reach people and present their music.

    “In order to operate in the times of COVID, you kind of have to throw dynamite underneath the concept of what a performance organization is and just reconstruct how you see things,” Dr. Michael Martin, artistic director for Cumberland Choral Arts, said. “We moved away from the standard concert method, and we’re going to do these concerts virtually, it's not an easy format to adapt to.”

    They are in the process of recording different choral pieces and are enlisting community members to join them for a virtual presentation of the “Hallelujah Chorus" from “Messiah.” The English-language oratorio was written in 1741 by German-born composer George Frideric Handel. Originally written for Easter, “Messiah” has become a Christmas holiday favorite. The CCA performance of the piece is usually delivered to full audiences, many joining in for the “Hallelujah Chorus" — the most widely known section of the composition.

    Martin said Cumberland Choral Arts is inviting community members who know the music to submit a video. There is online learning material available to use as a guide, as voices will be synchronized better later.

    The Campbellton Youth Chorus will be participating in the “Hallelujah Chorus" as well, said Donna Jo Mangus, artistic director of the Campbellton Youth Chorus, affiliate of the Cumberland Choral Arts.

    All the videos will be compiled by the director and assistant director, mixing video and audio and synchronizing all the pieces to make the finished product, Mangus said.

    Martin said he had been working on new technology since last year that allowed them to do a series of projects virtually. Some of the challenges with going virtual have been getting the synchronization right and getting the rights to upload those things on the internet, he said.

    “That’s kind of what we’ve been doing, trying to navigate technology and stay relevant in the eyes of people who would want to come and watch us sing,” Martin said.

    The organization has two concerts planned for the next year, a women composer concert in March celebrating Women’s History Month and suffrage, as well as a “Tour of the World” themed concert in May displaying music from different cultures.

    Martin said he might blend the two but teaching them in a virtual format will be a challenge and may affect how the timeline will work out.

    “We are going to have a series of things uploaded to our social media that people can watch on their time,” he said. Martin plans to have next year’s scheduled finalized over the holiday season.

    The Campbellton Youth Choir hosts four concerts a year with children aged 9-14. It is open to all, regardless of their schooling situation.

    Mangus said they will be posting their songs virtually to the Cumberland Choral Arts handle at www.youtube.com/channel/UCcxVHG97aIEIGP_645K11DQ

    Going virtual has given young singers a chance to learn how to collaborate with other interested singers in the area, she said.

    The youth choir is an opportunity for young singers to perform in a group and make music together for the shared experience, to have appreciation for the song and lyrics, and the beautiful melodies, wider range of dynamics, there's nothing like it when you're a singer, Mangus said.

    “I think the artistic community sees relevance for any kind of ensemble that’s part of our community especially now that COVID has hit, it brings us together and it's so important and music just answers that equation,” Martin said.

    Mangus and Martin both encourage anyone with a singing talent to participate virtually, to strengthen the community of singers.

    “As we become technologically advanced and have every reason in the world to stay away from one another but that's not the human condition and I feel so strongly about this,” Martin said. “Even before COVID, we could find so many things that were just disposable means of entertainment that you could just come do and leave, but there's nothing of longevity, but here we are and all those means of entertainment are closed down or regulated but here we are, still singing and making music together.”

    For more information on submitting a video for the “Hallalujah Chorus," the Cumberland Choral Arts and Campbellton Youth Choir, visit https://cumberlandchoralarts.org.

    Pictured above: Dr. Michael Martin (left ) is the Artistic Director for Cumberland Choral Arts. Martin and the CCA are working to offer virtual performances that audiences can view online.
    (Photo courtesy Cumberland Choral Arts)

    Pictured below: Cumberland Choral Arts is encouraging members of the communty to submit videos of themselves singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah," to be inlcuded in the virtual performance. (Photo courtesy Cumberland Choral Arts)

    09 02 Cumberland Choral Handel

  • 08 Baptist give awayThe First Baptist Church will host its annual “Christmas Day of Love” on Dec. 5 from noon to 2 p.m. to pass out free groceries and serve hot meals to members of the community.

    Volunteers from the church will also provide a bag of non-perishable grocery items, said Rev. Fredrick Culbreth. The items are ones that can be prepared in a kitchen or consumed without preparation, if a person is homeless.

    Culbreth said the hot meal provided will include turkey, ham, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, bread and more.

    The food was donated and/or collected by members of the congregation and Second Harvest Food Bank.

    The church members and volunteers will be observing COVID-19 precautions like social distancing, wearing a mask and gloves. They will also provide masks to visitors who do not have them.

    “When they come through, we will first give them their hot meal in a to-go container, and then hand them the smaller grocery bags, so they can carry those out,” Culbreth said. “If it's a nice day, we'll set up outside and, if not, then inside our gym and only bring in five people at time, we’ll serve them, and make sure they go in one way and exit out another.”

    The “Christmas Day of Love” is the last major mission event the church has scheduled for this calendar year. Culbreth said they usually do their last give-away during the holiday season before members get too busy or go out of town.

    “This is an annual event, and there’s people in the community that know about it and look forward to it,” he said.

    The church hosts many food give-aways and other events throughout the year, other missions include serving meals to first responders and such. Culbreth said it is important to keep hosting these events while dealing with the pandemic and First Baptist is determined to continue such events.

    “Just because COVID is here doesn't mean there's any less people in need, actually there are more people in need,” he said.

    The Church is hoping to reach between 200 and 250 families with the “Christmas Day of Love” event.

    “We just wanted to let the community know that we’ve been thinking about them,” Culbreth said.

    For more information on First Baptist Church located at 302 Moore St. in Fayetteville, visit www.1st-baptist.com.

    Pictured: Volunteers from the First Baptist Church in Fayetteville work to prepare last year's "Christmas Day of Love" food give-away. The 2020 event will take place on Dec. 5 with chruch members offering a hot meal and a take-away bag of groceries. (Photo courtesy First Baptist Church)

  • 07 Arlington Wreaths 2Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy has directed Arlington National Cemetery to reverse course and allow the annual wreath laying at graves by Wreaths Across America. Cemetery officials had said that the annual December wreath laying would be canceled because of COVID, sparking an “outpouring” of concern to cemetery officials, as well as to Wreaths Across America, said Karen Worcester, executive director of the organization.

    Through public donations and volunteers, the nonprofit has placed more than 2 million veterans’ wreaths at more than 2,000 cemeteries nationwide, including those in Fayetteville, for nearly three decades.

    The most well-known of those locations is Arlington National Cemetery, where the tradition started in 1992, and Wreaths Across America has had a “collaborative, good relationship” with cemetery officials for 29 years, Worcester said. There won’t be thousands of volunteers this year, and they’re working with cemetery officials on the logistics.

    “We don’t know what this will look like, but we do know we will meet the challenge,” she said. As for the other cemeteries across the country, conversations are ongoing with those cemetery officials, and the organization has asked that volunteers adhere to local regulations.

    In some cases, the events may be limited online. In some places, there will be “drive-through” events where people will be handed wreaths. “It’s been a difficult year, and we didn’t want to have another disappointment,” Worcester said. After having developed various options over the last seven months to use at any level of COVID mandate, her team “jumped into action” and had a discussion with the cemetery’s leadership team.

    Worcester said they were contacted by people from all walks of life, asking what they could do to help. Some were angry, some were indignant, some were “very, very sad,” she said. “There are no bad guys. Everybody is trying to take care of everyone,” she said. Through this adversity, Worcester is hoping the attention will be an opportunity to share the organization’s mission throughout the year, which is to remember, honor and teach.

    Worcester’s husband Morrill began the tradition in 1992, after founding the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine. That year, the company had a surplus, and he saw it as a way to honor veterans with wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. He was inspired by Arlington cemetery when he visited there as a 12-year-old. Worcester read a message from her son Michael, who wrote that remembering the fallen service men and women can’t become one of those “used to be activities” that fade away because of the pandemic.

    “Do you think for one moment that any of the brave men and women would have thought twice before running into battle?” he wrote. “Why would it even be an option to take a year off from remembering and honoring them?”

  • 06 loose leaf pickupThe annual City of Fayetteville curbside loose-leaf collection is underway and will continue through Feb. 19.

    During the collection period, residents can rake leaves and pine straw to the curb for pickup. City crews collect loose leaves by zip code. Leaves and pine straw can also be bagged or containerized for regular weekly collection.

    During loose leaf season, free trash bags are available at recreation centers and fire stations. Large, brown roll-out carts can be purchased for $53 and can be delivered for a small fee. When purchased, the carts become the property of the residents.

    The zip code collection schedule is available at www.fcpr.us/facilities/administrative/leaf-season-pickup or residents may call 910-433-1329.

  • 05 N2005P70004HThe N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has established a COVID-19 County Alert System to give individuals, businesses, community organizations and public officials a tool to see how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to slow the spread of the virus.

    The color-coded system uses metrics provided by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into three tiers: Yellow (significant community spread); Orange (substantial community spread); and Red (critical community spread). Cumberland County is currently Orange with a 14-day average of 259.9 cases per 100,000 and 8.7% positive cases.

    For more information on the COVID-19 County Alert System visit https://governor.nc.gov/news/north-carolina-introduces-covid-19-county-alert-system.

  • 04 dumb people in publicFrom 1954 through 1961, Art Linkletter produced a marvelous television series called “People are Funny.” If that show were still on television today it might be titled “People are Foolish.” Almost daily there are reports of new cases of the coronavirus all over the world. Despite the warnings to stay out of crowds and always wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and use disinfecting tissues on anything you touch, some people who don’t like being told what they can and cannot do refuse to follow these life-saving rules. People who willfully refuse to use plain old common sense are not only harming themselves and their families, but they are also a definite threat to those of us who are cautious and follow sound advice from medical doctors.

    If you come near someone who sneezes, you need to run away from them as quickly as possible, because a single sneeze is so powerful it can travel as far as 200 feet. This is about two thirds the distance of a football field, and about the distance between your house and four houses down the street. It is foolish to attend ball games, bowling alleys, bingo games, or any other places where there are a large number of people. It is similar to going into a building that is on fire, because there is a good chance you will be burned.

    Last summer many foolish college students refused to wear face masks as they crowded the beaches and had a good time being close to their friends. A few days later, many of these students tested positive for the coronavirus. Some schools that opened this fall had to quickly close because both teachers and students tested positive for the virus. Some churches that refused to follow sound medical advice also had to close when members of their staff and congregation became deathly sick with the coronavirus. As long as people refuse to use logic and obey simple rules, we will continue to see an increase in the coronavirus pandemic. It is also unwise to attend family gatherings this holiday season, because you never know who in your group might be carrying the virus that could so easily infect you and your family. Because the coronavirus is rapidly increasing all over America, the CDC recommended that we should avoid traveling for Thanksgiving, because it could greatly increase the spread of the virus. Risky behavior in November could affect us all [in a worse way] in a month – around Christmas time.

    We should be very thankful that there is now a vaccine that could make us immune to this terrible virus that is now overflowing our hospitals and causing us to be confined to our homes. Although the new vaccine , which is said to be about 95% effective, may soon be available, it may not be available to everyone until many months later. Just because there is now a new vaccine, should not make anyone become less cautious about following the rules and guidelines recommended by medical doctors. We can never be too careful. There is an old saying that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We definitely should continue wearing masks, and staying away from people until the coronavirus is totally eradicated.

    The reason many people continually do things that help spread this deadly virus is the fact that they are extremely bored. Many people have no interest in anything but watching the garbage that is now on many television programs as they fill their bodies with junk food that will cause them to gain lots of unwanted weight. All they like to do is overeat, sleep and watch television when they could be doing constructive things like reading a good book, cleaning their house, watching educational television. They could greatly help other people, especially their elderly friends, who would enjoy a telephone call from them to cheer them up during these depressive times. That phone call could also improve the outlook of the caller. When we help other people, we also help ourselves. We should also spend some time in prayer for those who have the virus and for the families of those who have died from it.

  • 03 werewold PittRight now, you are probably asking yourself, “Would a Werewolf by any other name smell as sweet?” If you weren’t asking yourself that question after you read the title to this column, may I ask why not? Werewolves get the short end of the stick, perhaps because they won’t play fetch, or more likely due to societal discrimination against the Werewolf community. Today’s essay will try to bridge the gap between Werewolves and humans.

    Chico Marx once asked “Why a duck?” in the Marx Brothers’ 1929 movie "Cocoanuts." Groucho said something to Chico about a viaduct. This led to a long conversation about ducks totally ignoring the plight of Werewolves. This is a clear example of concern for ducks overriding microaggressions against Werewolves. Why not “Why a Werewolf?” instead of ducks. Groucho and Chico both owe Werewolves an apology and substantial reparations. If you shoot a Werewolf with a silver bullet, does he not bleed? If Shylock in Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice” had changed a word he could have been talking about Werewolves when he said: “Hath not a Werewolf eyes? Hath not a Werewolf hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions …. If you prick us, do we not bleed. If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

    Today’s column is a defense of Werewolves, as discriminated a carbon-based life form as there ever was one. Let us consider the origin of the species of Werewolves. Werewolves were not always Werewolves; they began as people until something happened. That event that changes a human into a Werewolf is called Lycanthropy. According to Greek myth, a King named Lycaon foretold Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Lycaon tried to feed a human flesh pizza to Zeus at a picnic. Zeus got wise to Lycaon’s plot before chowing down and refused the pie. Zeus was not amused and turned Lycaon and his sons into the original Werewolves.

    Zeus didn’t stick around forever so other events had to turn people into Werewolves. According to Mr. Google some of the most common ways you can become a Werewolf are by being bitten by one, some people are born Werewolves (e.g. Jeffrey Epstein), or drinking rain water from the foot print of a Werewolf. A person dumb enough to drink rain water from the foot print of a Werewolf probably lowers the collective average IQs of all Werewolves. Such a person probably thinks that the gross jellylike substance on top of Vienna sausages straight from the can is a taste treat. This demonstrates the old saying, “There is no accounting for taste, said the old lady as she kissed the cow.”

    Even if you are smart enough not to drink water from the footprint of a Werewolf you are not safe. Recall the immortal poetry from the Lon Chaney Jr. movie “The Wolfman” which advises: “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night/ May become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the Autumn moon is bright.” You can wear a mask. You can get a wolfsbane vaccine. You can socially distance from Werewolves. But none of these precautions can protect you when the wolfsbane is blooming and the full moon is shining. This column is slated to stain newsstands on 2 December. The November full moon was on 30 November which means the moon is still shining bright. The Werewolves will be out in full force when this Up & Coming Weekly hits the streets. As one final gift from the year of Our Lord 2020, the last full moon of 2020 will be on December 29th. The December full moon is called the Cold Moon. Werewolves are covered with fur so the cold doesn’t bother them. Be careful on the 29th.

    As a public service, we do not wish to leave you without a remedy in the event that you are turned into a 2020 Werewolf. There are certain things one can do to reverse the curse of the Werewolf. Kindly jot these down on a sticky note and affix it to your refrigerator in the event that Lycanthropy comes to your door. Making a poultice of wolfsbane and wearing it around the neck can sometimes reverse Werewolfery. Exorcism by a Board Certified Veterinarian can often reverse a person’s transmogrification into a Werewolf. Strapping a Werewolf patient to a chair and forcing them to watch 24 hours of daytime television almost always destroys the Werewolf virus. Unfortunately, the cure of watching daytime TV can be worse than the disease of Werewolfery. Most former Werewolf patients after 24 hours of exposure to the drivel from daytime TV lose at least 50% of their IQ. Post TV therapy, the former Werewolf is not good for much of anything other than being used as home plate in a Little League baseball game.

    In defense of Werewolves, I do not want to leave the impression that everything about being a Werewolf is unpleasant. Consider the immortal words of the late, great Warren Zevon in his song "Werewolves of London" — “He’s the hairy handed gent who ran amuck in Kent/ Lately he’s been overheard in Mayfair/ You better stay away from him/ He’ll rip your lungs out Jim/ I’d like to meet his tailor/ AAOOOO Werewolves of London, AAOOOO/ Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen/ Doing the Werewolves of London/ I saw a Werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s/ And his hair was perfect.”

    So, if you need to upgrade your fashion sense, meet the Queen, and get a perfect hair cut despite the Rona, becoming a Werewolf may be the right career step for you.

  • 02 family turkey mealThanksgiving 2020, more than many others, brought not only food for the body but food for the mind.

    As my small group of immediate family gathered, we opened all the doors and windows and stayed outside as much as we could. We dispensed with long held traditions, tucking into fried chicken instead of roasted turkey and dressing. I missed Thanksgivings of my childhood at my grandparents’ house, filled with wonderful smells and swarming with cousins. I missed Thanksgivings with my own family and those we think of as family, tables laden with potluck foods from many different households and traditions. I missed those who were not with us because they are no longer here, and those who could not be with us because of the pandemic raging unchecked throughout our nation.

    At the same time, I am deeply grateful for those who were at our table and for our health, for friends from all parts of my life who continue to enrich the world in so many different ways, and for vaccines on the horizon to shut down the plague of 2020. I am thankful for the bone-tired health care workers who continue to care for their fellow Americans, some of whom believe COVID-19 is a hoax and who refuse to take precautions. And, I pray the families and friends of the more than 262,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 will find peace and hope in the coming days.

    I am thankful for all Americans that democracy has prevailed over authoritarianism in our nation.

    It is hardly news that the United States has become critically hardened and partisan, with people in both camps barely understanding what the other says, rendering our nation a political Tower of Babel. There are many reasons for this — the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, educational disparities, niche media which preach to their own choirs among them. This intolerance among Americans continues to damage our nation and our standing in the world.

    That is why I and millions of others are profoundly thankful for the brave and principled Americans who did the right thing in recent weeks, who despite heavy political pressure put country before party. They deserve recognition. Among them are elections officials in many states who stood up for and certified unbiased, untainted and accurate voting totals despite unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud, of which no proof has been cited. In addition, both state and federal judges in several states dismissed such unsupported legal claims, allowing accurate vote counts to prevail. Only a handful of politicians showed such courage, notably Utah’s Senator Mitt Romney, who stood up for a fair election, when most others, including North Carolina’s two Senators, apparently checked their spines in a Capitol closet.

    It is meaningful to note that Abraham Lincoln established our American Thanksgiving. It harkens back a meal shared, at least apocryphally, by Pilgrim settlers and Native Americans in what is now Massachusetts in 1621. The official holiday itself dates from 1863, when Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving. He did so in the midst of the American Civil War, at a time when the tide was slowly turning in favor of the Union. The next year, he proclaimed another day of Thanksgiving, writing that God “has been please to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of the civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.”

    In other words, Lincoln established Thanksgiving to celebrate the America’s democracy.

    We celebrate the same blessing in 2020.

  • 01 02 in the park 2

    Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some featured activities may change or be canceled. Please check to ensure the event will be held as scheduled.

    Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now the holiday season is officially here. Christmas trees, holiday lights and decorations abound around every corner. But what is there to do? Lots, if one knows where to look. So, grab the keys, get in the car and see the sights.

    Ready to see some lights? Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation is proud to announce a COVID-19-safe Christmas in the Park event this season. The holiday lights extravaganza is coming to Arnette Park, 2165 Wilmington Highway Dec. 6-10, 13-17 and 20-22, 6-9 p.m. nightly excluding Fridays and Saturdays. Participants are asked to remain in their vehicles to drive-thru the park to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas. Admission is free for the event. Visit www.fcpr.us.

    Each year, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden features Holiday Lights in the Garden, a self-paced holiday lights garden tour through a beautiful garden setting. The lights are featured on weekends Dec. 3-23 from 6-9 p.m. nightly. The whole garden will be lit with lights and transformed into a winter wonderland, featuring Santa Claus, s’mores, entertainment and more. Additionally, CFBG keeps a full calendar of daytime offerings for kids so parents can bring their children for outdoor activities and education. Be sure to check out the new children's garden and learn about plants and animals while spending a day together in nature. Find out more details at www.capefearbg.org.

    Another traditional drive-thru favorite is the Lu-Mil Winery Festival of Lights at 438 Suggs-Taylor Rd. in Elizabethtown, just south of Fayetteville. For $10 per person, you can see miles of beautiful lights amid outdoor scenery. The event will be 6-10 p.m. nightly Dec. 17-23 and Dec. 26-28. For more information visit https://lumilvineyard.com

    For onstage holiday entertainment, the Gilbert Theater presents "The Carols," a witty musical telling the Carol sisters' story as they struggle to get the town's annual performance of "A Christmas Carol" off the ground. The men are off fighting in the war, but the show must go on! Performances are Nov. 27-29 and Dec. 4-6 and 18-20. Go to https://gilberttheater.com/ to get the scoop.

    The Cape Fear Regional Theatre's famous "Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will not be produced this year, but be sure to check out the theater’s new winter camp for ages 8-14, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Go to https://www.cfrt.org/ for more information.

    The Rotary Club Annual Christmas Parade scheduled for Dec.12 has been canceled. Not to dampen the holiday season, the Rotary Clubs of Fayetteville are organizing another thrilling event to replace the parade. The members have decided to take Santa on a tour throughout select neighborhoods because, “if the kids can’t see Santa in the parade, why not take Santa to them?” This will hopefully soften the disappointment from the canceled parade.

    Following a melted snowman cocoa from The Coffee Cup downtown, make your way to the 1897 Poe House for a historical take on the holidays. The 1897 Poe House will be decorated for Christmas through Jan. 9, 2021. Learn more at www.capefear.ncdcr.gov.

    For out-of-town fun, enjoy holiday events a short sleigh ride away over in Lee or Moore counties. The Temple Theater in Sanford is performing the holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol" Dec. 3-20. The ghostly visits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come transform the curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge from greedy and selfish to sympathetic and caring. The classic tale weaves a story showing viewers the importance of kindness and generosity in the true spirit of Christmas. See www.templeshows.com. Lace-up those running shoes, grab some antlers and get ready for Moore County's 14th Annual Reindeer Fun Run Dec. 1-14 this year a virtual event. Register and complete your race at any time during this period. Go to https://reindeerfunrun.com/ for a few pedestrian-friendly course suggestions.

    No matter the day, Fayetteville and the surrounding area have many holiday activities for families and singles. Now is the time to start planning the festivities.

    This article also appears in the December issue of Womens View magazine.

    01 01 Photo 2

    01 03 Lu Mil lights









    Pictured:(Left) Christmas light displays are being modified to comply with COVID-19 restrictions for mask wearing and social distancing. Visitors will remain in their vehicles as they drive through the Christmas in the Park light display at Arnette Park. (Right) There are light displays in Fayetteville and in surrounding areas like this one at Lu-Mil Winery in Elizabethtown.

  • 05 N1703P19003CBefore arriving at Fort Bragg two and a half years ago, I heard about the notorious nickname given to the city of Fayetteville. I naively believed that Fayetteville must be as bad as I had heard, and my husband and I chose to live 45 minutes away for the first year we were stationed here.

    However, as I began to make friends who lived in the city, I became curious about why they chose to invest in this particular community. After all, if it has such a bad reputation, why would they? I was starting to notice that the negative things I had been warned about weren’t that accurate. 

    The magnetism of Fayetteville began to draw me in slowly, and I started on an adventure to see if I could fall in love with the city and the community. It didn’t happen overnight or even very quickly. It was almost two years before I stopped saying, “I really want to love this city, but I don’t know what there is to love about it.”

    The thing is, I was looking in all the wrong places. I was trying to make Fayetteville fit into my idea of what makes a city a “good” city. I wasn’t looking at the exceptional qualities that make Fayetteville the city that it is.

    Fayetteville is a city of various cultures fused together in a way that highlights the exceptional qualities of each culture yet merges them into a heart-warming masterpiece. It’s a city of distinct local business owners who provide personal approaches to their customers’ experience because they understand the exceptional individuality of the community. It’s a city of noteworthy history that will always be a part of the very structure this community is built upon. And, it’s a city of spectacular individuals who radiate the spirit of distinction, acceptance, devotion, hope and so much more.

    The city of Fayetteville isn’t just a place of buildings and roads; it’s a community first. It has a story that is unlike any other place and will continue to build on its story. This community makes up the narrative of its choosing with the distinct personalities that not only live here but flow through here. This community, in all its splendor and magnificence, is a place I have finally fallen in love with.

    Thank you, Fayetteville, for being patient with me. I am forever grateful for all you are.

  • 07 police probe murderThere was a day not long ago that Fayetteville had a reputation for being the crime capital of North Carolina. In 2016, the city recorded an all-time high number of local homicides, 31. As of Dec. 12, 2019, the most recent data available from police, 24 murders had occurred this year. Raleigh reported 29 homicides, Durham reported 23 and Charlotte more than 100.

    Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles took the oath of office three weeks ago and immediately turned her attention to reducing violence as news broke of another resident’s murder. The mayor called for closer collaboration among city and county governments, as well as the police department and the district attorney’s office, to develop new strategies to combat the soaring homicide rate.

    As the swearing-in ceremony took place, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department reported the city’s 103rd homicide of the year. There were 58 murders in Charlotte in 2018.

    “We must change the path we have taken this year,” Lyles said of the homicides.

    The latest crime report for Fayetteville is a variety of ups and downs. Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins gave her third-quarter report on crime statistics to Fayetteville City Council Dec. 9. Through September of this year, there were 66 rapes reported compared to 81 in 2018, a 19% decrease. But through the first nine months of this year, there were more aggravated assaults and robberies than last year.

    There were 292 felonious aggravated assaults through the end of September compared to 269 during the corresponding period of 2018. Shootings and other serious injury crimes are included in that category. “Ultimately, we are a safe community,” Hawkins told City Council. Preventing crime is not just law enforcement’s job; it is everybody’s job, Chief Hawkins believes.

    There are a variety of ways citizens can take action to reduce crime, like mentoring at-risk youth, reporting incidents and encouraging lawmakers to pass bills designed to reduce crime. Crime prevention starts with community involvement. If your neighborhood has a neighborhood watch program, join it. If it does not, start one.

    There’s more to preventing crime than stopping would-be criminals in the act. You can help keep people from becoming those would-be criminals by volunteering your time and donating money to social programs that help at-risk youth, like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    In 2018, the Fayetteville Police Department investigated seven domestic-related homicides. A domestic violence unit was formed to prevent or address domestic violence cases. The concept involved comforting and interviewing family members and neighbors. This year’s third-quarter crime report indicated none of the 24 murders was related to domestic violence.

    However, the connection between drugs and violence continues to be a problem. The correlation between substance abuse and violent behavior is well documented. The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment noted that more than 75% of people who began treatment for drug addiction report having performed various acts of violence, including mugging, physical assault and using a weapon to attack others.

  • 08 Census101 DataConfidentialOnce every 10 years, America comes together to count every resident in the United States. The decennial census was first taken in 1790, as mandated by the Constitution. It counts our population and households, providing the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and community programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy.

    The 2020 count will be the 24th United States census. National Census Day, the reference day used for the census, will be April 1, 2020. This is the first U.S. census to offer options to respond online or by phone, in addition to the option to respond on a paper form as with previous censuses. Counting an increasingly diverse and growing population is a massive undertaking. It requires years of planning and the support of thousands of people.

    Ultimately, the success of the census depends on everyone’s participation. The census bureau notes that there are a variety of reasons some people don’t take part in the decennial census. The government says most common barriers to participation include not believing the census has any impact on an individual, not trusting the government with personal information and not having the time to fill out the questionnaire. Individual responses are confidential.

    The results of the 2020 census will determine the number of seats for each state in the U.S. House of Representatives, which mirrors the number of delegates for each state in the electoral college, for elections between 2022 and 2030. State and local officials use census counts to redraw boundaries for congressional districts, state legislative districts and school districts. Census data as the basis for the distribution of federal funds. More than $675 billion in federal funding is allocated to states and communities each year for roads, schools, hospitals, health clinics, emergency services and more.

     The 2020 census will ask the number of people living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020; whether the home is owned or rented; the sex of each person in the household; the age of each person in the household; the race of each person in the household; and the relationship of each occupant. There is no citizenship question asked. The census in 2020 will require counting an increasingly diverse and growing population of around 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units.

    To get an accurate count, the census bureau must build an accurate address list of every housing unit, maximize self-response to the census and efficiently follow up with those who do not respond. The 2020 census is the first decennial census of the U.S. with a full internet option and the first to extensively use technology — instead of paper — to manage and conduct fieldwork.

    “To ensure we protect the data, we continually research and upgrade methods and technology to safeguard data and protect the confidentiality of responses through secured systems,” the census bureau said.

  • 10 MacbethWebSweet Tea Shakespeare is adding a new flavor to its productions this year. It’s bringing “Macbeth” to the Cumberland County community. While Director K.P. Powell has never directed “Macbeth,” he has performed in “Macbeth” four times and in over 150 shows. He’s also directed “Two Aside” at Saint Louis University, some music videos at the American Shakespeare Center and some short films. The show opens Jan. 2 and runs through Jan. 26.

    Powell feels his prior experience gives him intimate knowledge of this particular play. He will be working with a small cast, including students from around the region during the student matinees, and is looking forward to working closely with the audience to create a profound personal experience.

    “The story of Macbeth creates an opportunity for the audience to follow closely with the two hugely recognizable characters,” said Powell. “They can enjoy watching the other actors switch between characters constantly and not be confused. I really hope to advocate for the audience. I’m trying to direct it as though I have no idea what happens, that way the story shines rather than my particular tastes or ideas.”

    The main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, are played by Wade Newhouse and Chelsea Sugar. The audience can expect to be pulled into the spirit of the show. There will be people sitting on stage with the actors, where the actors talk to them — not at them. Plus, there is live music. “Shakespeare feels like a conversation, not a literary lesson,” Powell said.

    If you’re on the fence about whether or not Macbeth is something you’d enjoy, Powell wants you to know that no matter what you’ve been told, Shakespeare really is for everyone. In his words, “If you can understand Yoda when he’s speaks, you can understand Shakespeare. If you can understand the “Big Bang Theory” when you know nothing about particle physics, you can understand Shakespeare.”

    Opening date is Jan. 2, 2020. The production runs through the Jan. 26 at Vizcaya Villa. There are some select performances at William Peace University in Raleigh and Methodist University as well. The cost is $25 dollars at the door, but advance tickets are $10 for students, $15 for senior/military and $17.50 for adults and can be purchased here: www.sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets.

  • 03 margaretIt is done.

    Donald John Trump has been impeached by the United States House of Representatives and faces a trial in the U.S. Senate early in this new year. The chances of Trump being convicted in the Republican-controlled Senate are about one in a bazillion, but the indelible stain of being one of only three U.S. Presidents impeached — Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998 and now Trump in 2019 — will remain forever both as part of his legacy and our national history. No president has ever been removed from office by a vote of the Senate.

    Millions of Americans hope Trump is elected to a second term, and millions want him out right this minute. Love him or loathe him, Trump will eventually be gone one way or another, whether through impeachment, by losing the 2020 election or at the end of a second term. Then comes the really hard part. We Americans, both Trump supporters and Trump revilers, must find a way beyond this divisive president. We must find a way to heal our divisions — or at least move beyond them — and chart a course as one nation again.

    Trump has divided Americans like no other president, at least during my lifetime, with divisions as pronounced as they were in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War, according to political analysts. Family, friends and colleagues have, as we say in the South, fallen out over this president. And while there have been no divorces in the extended Dickson clan over Trump, there has certainly been some tiptoeing around about him or no conversations at all about the elephant in the middle of the room. The never-Trumpers tread gingerly around the relatives who attend Trump rallies. For all sorts of reasons — Trump’s constant lying, his business practices, his strident political positions, his attitude toward women, his caustic, vindictive and often terrifying personality, his bullying of all sorts of people including immigrants, journalists and Republican members of Congress —leave some of us saying that is “just Trump” and others saying he is deeply unhinged. Wherever one falls on that spectrum, virtually no one is neutral about Trump.

    Trump’s recovery will be an uphill climb, whenever it takes place, even though it is on the minds of many. Last summer, The Washington Post reviewed two books on the situation, one leftist and one rightest, both suggesting the situation may get worse before it gets better. The current issue of The Atlantic magazine’s lead story is “How to Stop a Civil War,” including articles like “How America Ends,” “What Would Mister Rogers Do” and “Can This Marriage Be Saved?”

    To paraphrase Walt Kelly in the “Pogo” comic strip, we have seen the enemy and at the end of the day, it is not Trump. It is us, the American people. We have to heal ourselves and our own relationships by stepping back and relearning how to see our fellow Americans not as “The Other,” but as citizens who have had different life experiences and who hold different views. In our current world of multiple and fragmented information sources, Trump and Fox News or Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and MSNBC saying something does not make it true. We must evaluate their assertions on our own. We must understand that some Americans feel unheard and disenfranchised and that we fail to address their concerns at our peril, something that is true all over the world.

    In other words, we must learn all over again how to think for ourselves.

    It is a tall order, but as both a new year and a new decade get underway, healing and understanding should be on everyone’s lists of resolutions. The danger of not doing so is real and threatens us and our democracy like nothing since the Civil War.  

    History tells us that democracies are fragile, and it is clear that ours is in desperate need of nurturing from all sides.
  • 12 01 hope mills lakeProperty owners around Hope Mills Lake need to prepare for the chance to do any needed work on their docks and piers as town staff will be lowering the level of the lake starting Jan. 6.
    Last year’s lowering of the lake had to be delayed to coincide with planned work on the bulkhead on the public side of the lake.

    Don Sisko, head of the Hope Mills public works department, said the decision to wait was made to avoid having to lower lake levels twice.

    Reducing the level of the lake makes it easier for the property owners to get to their docks and piers during the two weeks the town plans to leave the water at a reduced level.
    But the water level isn’t just being decreased for the benefit of the property owners.

    Sisko said the town’s Lake Advisory Committee suggested dropping the lake levels in January to help stunt the growth of algae on rocks and other locations near the shoreline.

    “When we lower it in January, it exposes the marine algae that grows on the rocks near the edge,’’ Sisko said. “It gives it the opportunity to dry up, and the cold weather will kill it as well.’’
    Timing the process for January also has another benefit as it’s done when the lake sees limited recreational use.

    12 02 dam Sisko estimates that if there is no rain, once the process of lowering the lake levels begins on Monday, Jan. 6, it will take about two or three days to get the water down to the desired level.
    The goal is to drop the level about two or three feet, Sisko said. “My goal is not to lower it anymore than a foot a day,’’ he said.

    The process has to be regularly-monitored, Sisko said, because lowering the lake level is not an exact science.

    To be as accurate as possible, Sisko has developed charts dealing with amounts of precipitation, past lake levels and other factors.

    There’s one factor that Sisko said can’t be accurately measured. “It’s just like any other maritime project,’’ he said. “We all have to be mindful of the weather. That is one thing we can’t control.’’
    While the property owners can work on their piers and docks, Sisko said town staff will take advantage of the lowered lake levels to do some routine checks on the status of the dam.

    He said the town does regular maintenance on the dam and spillway structure year-round.

    But the lowered lake level makes it easier to check out special drains called tide flex drains.

    “They drain around the structure so we don’t have ponding water anywhere around the spillway or subterranean water around the spillway,’’ Sisko said.

    The lowered lake level lets town staff access the drains easier so they can be cleaned to maintain maximum operating efficiency.

    While he’s not concerned there are any specific issues being hidden by the normal lake level, Sisko said town staff will use the opportunity to make a routine check around the lake to see if anything is out or order and requires attention.
    “I don’t anticipate any problems,’’ Sisko said. “It’s just going to be an opportunity to see more of the dam structure.’’

    Sisko and his staff don’t use a boat to check things out. They walk downstream in the creek and along the dam surfaces as well.

    As far as the issues the lakefront owners have with their property in the water, Sisko said it is their responsibility to handle all those repairs as they see fit. He said property owners are welcome to reach out to the town manager if they see something they feel needs the attention of town staff.

    “We’ll take care of what we need to take care of,’’ Sisko said.

    If everything goes according to plan and there are no major disruptions from the weather, Sisko estimates the lake level will begin to be returned to normal around Monday, Jan. 20.
    If any property owners have questions about the lowering of the lake, they can contact Sisko’s office at 910-429-3384 during normal business hours Monday through Friday.

  • 11 01 Official portrait of Barack ObamaI thought it would be easy to write a review for 2019, and then I realized that we are at the end of another decade. So, this is a review of last year and the previous decade. It was a decade of great achievement and dizzying ups and downs.

    At the end of 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 10,428. The unemployment rate was 9.9%. In the United States, the average family median income was $50,599. The five most famous letters in the alphabet were the vowels a, e, i, o and u. The No. 1 cause of death was the heart attack. The number of murders in the U.S. from guns was 11,493, or 36%. The number of suicides from guns was 18,735, or 59.8%. In 2009, there were 784,507 abortions reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Obama’s net worth was estimated between $1 million and $5 million. Businessman Donald Trump’s net worth was $1.6 billion.

    In 2010, Obama was the president. Apple rolled out the first iPad. During this decade, American troops killed Osama bin Laden. “Curiosity Rover” landed on Mars. Once the lion of the auto industry, Detroit ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Obama shut down the full federal government with budget sequestration. The Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, went into effect. Same-sex marriages became legal across the country. Trump was elected the 45th president. Since day 10 of his presidency, Trump and his campaign have faced one investigation after another and impeachment.

    Over the decade, microphones, cameras and opinion polls often trumped science, facts, evidence and common sense. Political drama seemed to rule the decade. It split the country, families and friends. The internet, television, radio and print used our information and devices to target us for ideological and political gain. Media messiahs played on our fears, and we turned to “news” commentators to decipher, dilute 11 02 Donald Trump official portraitand help digest talking points and fuel the 24-hour news cycle.

    Technologically, we boomed. For the first time, we saw self-driving cars, 4G, tablets, augmented reality, multi-use space rockets, solar-panel roofs, human-like robots, genetic engineering, the hoverboard, Instagram, smartwatches, drones, biomechanics, biomedicine, the bionic eye, fake news, the cloud, and a book salesman disrupted just about everything with a little business called Amazon.

    As of October 2019, Fayetteville is the fourth largest city in North Carolina with an estimated population of 209,468. Fort Bragg drove Fayetteville’s economy to the tune of about $4.5 billion and is the area’s largest employer. Other producers of jobs in the area included the education and health care systems, Walmart and Goodyear Tire. Fort Bragg is also home to America’s bravest men and women that the world has ever met.

    Fayetteville continued to showcase spectacular art, music and culture. The Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Gilbert Theater and the Arts Council entertained us with talent from all ages. The Dogwood Festival, The Zombie Walk and A Dickens Holiday brought tens of thousands downtown for fantastic and fun family entertainment. The Crown Coliseum hosted great events from WWE to great concerts like America, Chicago and Mannheim Steamroller to great conventions like ComicCon. 

    11 03 Apple Watch Series 4 44mm Aluminum Cellular goldwhiteFayetteville is the machine of evolution. In April, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers moved into the new $37.8 million ballpark, but for some reason, the city leaders could not figure out how or where to park cars. More bars and restaurants opened and closed and proved it is easier to drink a cold beer than it is to change the fact that people along the Cape Fear River cannot drink their well water due to GenX. More of I-295 opened, connecting I-95 to Cliffdale Road. Fort Bragg families declared a housing crisis that prompted visits by the Sectary of the Army and first lady Melania Trump.

    At the end of this writing in 2019, for the most part, we as a nation and community are better off than we were in 2009. The Dow Jones average is approaching 30,000. (Editor's Note: At the close of 2019, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 28,538.44.) The average U.S. family median income is $66,465. The unemployment rate at the end of 2019 is 3.6%. The five most famous letters in the alphabet are the nouns l, g, b, t and q. Heart attacks are still the No. 1 cause of death.

    In 2017, when the last full report is available, the number of gun-related homicides was 12,830, or  35%. There were 22,274 gun-related suicides, or  61%. The reported number of abortions was 427,111. Abortion has declined to the lowest since the year after Row versus Wade in 1973. Pregnancies have decreased. Maybe it was not because of demonstrations, prochoice, prolife, stricter laws, tough talk, lectures or marching in the streets. The drop may be because women have more accessibility to various forms of contraception since the Affordable Care Act required most private health insurance plans to cover the contraceptive cost. 

    11 04 N1108P60005C

    In 2019, Obama’s net worth is $70 million, and Donald Trump’s net worth is $3.1 billion.

    According to Representative Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., “the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change”. If true, you may want to consider asking your accountant about filing extensions on your taxes for the next 11 years.
    Seriously, although the No. 1 cause of death is the heart attack, that may change as the internet of things continues to mesh with our digital world. As electronic devices continue to get cheaper, smaller and more prevalent, all of the devices are collecting our information. Artificial intelligence is tracking and processing our actions and reactions without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Sadly, many of us are the last generation to know what privacy really means as we all travel through the roaring 20s and into the new digital revolution.

    If movies are a metaphor for our society, then we should try to be a little more like Mr. Rogers and less like the Joker to make our life, home, town and country the best it has ever been. We should live every day like it is the last while planning on living forever.

    May grace, love and blessings be with you for decades to come.

  • 13 01 trent tursichWith practice opportunities improving and the number of swimmers continuing to increase, Cumberland County Schools are looking for a banner year this swimming season.
    Here’s a brief look at some of the better teams and swimmers expected to compete this year.

     With only two swimmers graduated on the girls' side and a big class of freshman arriving for the boys, coach Amey Shook feels the outlook for her Cape Fear squad is bright.
    “We have a tone of optimism at the abilities they are going to be bringing to the table,’’ she said.

    Among the biggest reasons for Shook’s optimism is the return of her daughter, Amelia, to the roster.

    Coach Shook describes Amelia as a jack of all trades who can swim almost any event.

    For the last two seasons Amelia competed in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke at the conference and regional levels.

    13 02 Brandon As a team, Cape Fear qualified for state in the 400 relay. Amelia just missed making the state meet in the 200 and 100.

    “I think the best is yet to come,’’ Coach Shook said. “Amelia has been putting in her work, working on speed and conditioning.’’

    She’s also been rehabbing from yet another knee injury, this one suffered in soccer, that sidelined her following her surgery in June.
    She was able to resume swimming in September but doesn’t feel that’s going to hold her back during the season.

    She thinks her best events this year will be the 100 backstroke and the 100 fly. She’s aiming for a finish of eighth or better in both at the regional so she can make the state meet.
    “I’ve gone to states two years in a row on a relay team,’’ she said. “I want to make it individually.’’

    Pine Forest

    13 03 Allison CurlMore than two-thirds of coach Trent Turisch’s teams are freshmen and sophomores who have never swum before. “My biggest goal is to get something out of their season,’’ he said, “whether it’s to learn a new stroke or making sure they are able to better themselves.’’

    The Trojans have benefited from the addition of dome-covered outdoor recreation pools, especially the one at College Lakes Recreation Center near Pine Forest.

    Turisch only needs a few minutes to load up an activity bus and take his team over there after school to practice.

    The bright spot for Turisch’s team this year is the return of possibly the best male swimmer in the county, Brandon Chhoeung. Turisch said Chhoeung is fully committed to swimming. He leaves practice with the Pine Forest team to go and practice with his club swimming team.

    Chhoeung credits the coaches he’s worked with who’ve helped him develop the work ethic that drives him.

    13 04 jared kaiserHe prefers the distance events because they show how much grit a competitor has. He said the 200 and 500 freestyle races are among his favorites.

    “This year, I’ve been working mostly on my flip turns and my kicking,’’ he said. “I just want to get some fast times and see our team win the conference.’’

    Terry Sanford

    Bulldog coach Jared Kaiser only lost a handful of swimmers to graduation last year.

    His biggest concern coming into the season is that efforts to get a public indoor swimming facility in Fayetteville appear to be stalled.

    “There’s not really any place our kids can go to do year-round swimming,’’ he said. He said the domed outdoor pools are a welcome addition but are not much more than a Band-Aid for the problem. “It’s at least provided a little flexibility where teams can have more people at practice because there are more lanes,’’ he said.

    13 05 Amey ShookKaiser’s top returning swimmer is Allison Curl, who specializes in the 500 freestyle along with the 100 and 200. “She can keep going and going,’’ he said of her endurance.
    Curl swims for a club team so she’s in the water as much as five and six days per week.

    She likes the distance events because at only 5-foot-3, the sprint races are more difficult for her.

    “In a longer race it doesn’t matter because there is so much distance I can make up,’’ she said.

    She relies on technique and endurance to carry her to wins. She thinks the 500 freestyle is her best shot to go to state because of her endurance and the fact fewer swimmers like to try it.
    She’s confident about the team’s chances as well.

    “The boys’ team is very strong and the girls are exceptionally strong,’’ she said.








    13 06 Amelia Shook

  • 04 N1812P40008CDespite being 100 years old today, 1920 doesn’t look a day over 85. Kirk Douglas is three years older than 1920, and yet 1920 looks more sprightly than Kirk. How has 1920 preserved its youthful glow? Let’s find out. It’s January, which is time for the annual 100-year review. Today, we are going to take a ride in Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine to visit 1920 to see what was doing. At the beginning of the year, Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States. In November, Warren G. Harding was elected president but died in office in 1923 due to a heart attack. Warren is best remembered for the Teapot Dome Scandal, which may have had something to do with cookware and bribery.

    Prohibition came into effect in January, much to the delight of temperance leader Carrie A. Nation and alcohol entrepreneur Al Capone. Once Prohibition came into effect, everyone stopped drinking alcohol because it was against the law. World War I officially came to an end with the effective date of the Treaty of Versailles. For a war that was to end all wars, World War I didn’t live up to expectations. But as Tony Soprano would say, “Whatta ya gonna do?” Maybe we’ll get it right next time. World War III will end all wars because there will be nobody left to fight.

    The Royal Canadian Mounties began policing in January 1920. The Mounties ultimately gave rise to our cartoon friends Dudley Do-Right, the evil Snidely Whiplash, and damsel in distress Nell Fenwick. The first baseball game of the Negro National League was played in Indianapolis. The league produced the greatest baseball philosopher in the history of the sport, Satchel Paige. Paige was the first player who had played in the Negro Leagues to pitch in the World Series. Satchel left us with such Zen quotes as “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.... How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?... Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.... Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” If the wizards in Washington, D.C., would sit and think instead of just sitting and spewing, life might be a bit smoother. But I digress.

    In August 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution came into effect, giving women the right to vote. The Suffragettes faced a long and hard fight for the right vote. But to quote the saintly turtle-faced Senator Mitch McConnell, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” There may be a moral in that story somewhere. Like Jim Valvano once said, “Never, ever, give up.”

    The U.S. Postal Service issued a ruling June 13, 1920, that children could not be sent by parcel post. It is lost in the mists of time why the post office found it necessary to issue such a ruling. One must suspect that at some point someone was, in fact, mailing children by parcel post. That was cruel and unusual as everyone knows that children should be mailed by UPS or FedEx as delivery is quicker and more consistent.

    Speaking of children, several famous people were born in 1920. The world’s greatest TV detective, Jack Webb of “Dragnet” graced the earth in April 1920. As Sgt. Joe Friday, he is best remembered for busting Blue Boy, who was high on LSD while chewing bark off a tree in a Los Angeles, California, park. It was Tuesday, March 15, 1966, when Joe and Gannon were working the day watch out of Juvenile Narcotics. They pulled Blue Boy out of a hole in the ground where he had stuck his head while tripping on LSD. Blue Boy wanted to “get further out” but came to a sad end, as he overdosed on drugs by the end of the episode. Friday closed the show by stating, “Well, he made it. He’s dead.”

    Yul Brynner showed up in July. Yul went on to become the King of Siam. He made an anti-smoking commercial shown after his death warning that smoking had not worked out too well for him. Well done, Yul. Mario Puzo, the author of the “Godfather,” was born in October. Mario made us an offer we could not refuse. As Luca Brasi said: “I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your home on the wedding day of your daughter. And may their first child be a masculine child.”

    To round out the year of 1920s births, let us not forget the singer Little Jimmy Dickens, who was born in December. Little Jimmy wrote the immortal song “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose,” which includes the immortal lyrics: “May the bird of paradise fly up your nose/ May an elephant caress you with his toes/ May your wife be plagued with runners in her hose/ May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.”
    Gentle Reader, your assignment for 2020 is to try to get Little Jimmy’s earworm lyrics out of your head before you break your first New Year’s resolution.

    2020 is going to be a slow news year, punctuated only by the occasional political ad by cranky office seekers who will accuse their opponent of being the anti-Christ. Sit back and enjoy the show. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  • 09 BBR signAs a business owner, is there any better way to kick off the new year, than growing your business? Local government wants to help do just that, and the Cumberland County Mayor’s Coalition has proclaimed January as “Building Local Business Month.” Over the last few years, our local elected officials have increased their efforts to have more funding spent locally on the wide range of services, supplies and equipment purchased by local government.

    They have worked together to reach out to local businesses with that united message. And as part of the initiative, the fourth annual Building Business Rally will be held Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, at the Ramada Plaza from 2-6 p.m. for local businesses to learn about those opportunities.

    The event features purchasing and procurement representatives for Cumberland and Fayetteville’s largest buyers. Each ha small business needs and offers opportunities for local vendors — suppliers, professional service providers and prime and subcontractors of all sizes. The event’s goal is to educate and engage local businesses on how to do business with their organizations and the types of goods and services that are needed.

    The Building Business Rally is a unique opportunity, as Its a one-stop-shop for local businesses. One might equate it to attending a job fair, only here you are connecting your business to organizations that have money to spend and are looking for local businesses to spend it with.

    Organizations participating in the Building Business Rally include Cape Fear Valley Hospital System, Cumberland County, Cumberland County Schools, the city of Fayetteville — including FAST and Community Development, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, the town of Hope Mills, the town of Spring Lake, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Prince Charles Holdings, PWC and Vector Fleet Maintenance that manages the city of Fayetteville Fleet.

     This year’s event utilizes the local business resources of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber, the Small Business and Technology Development Center and Cumberland County NC Works to help businesses find opportunities, structure their business for success and find a qualified workforce.

    To help businesses take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the event, organizers scheduled a series of Building Business Rally Workshops before the Jan. 30 event. Presented by the SBTC, topics of the two remaining workshops include information that can help businesses get results when attending the Building Business Rally.

    A Jan. 9 workshop will focus on capability statements that are essential when discussing opportunities with government agencies as they are a concise way to communicate what your business can provide for a government agency.
    On Jan. 23, the series concludes with a workshop that will help answer questions such as how, what and where to go to find business support programs specific to government contracting. The workshops will be held at the PWC Administrative Offices on 955 Old Wilmington Rd. at 6 p.m. The Building Business Rally is scheduled for Jan. 30 from 2-6 p.m. at the Ramada Plaza on Owen Dr.

    All events are free. Business owners can get more details about participating purchasing agencies they will meet and market their business to, register for the events and find local contracting opportunities at www.faybids.com.
  • 06 01 County Call Center 2Cumberland County has officially accepted a $2,251,387 grant from the North Carolina 911 Board to the county’s new 911 call center, which will be part of the future emergency services building at 500 Executive Pl. The money will help fund renovation, hardware, equipment and associated technology costs for the call center. Cumberland County Emergency Services applied for the grant earlier this year. The current 911 call center has been housed in the Law Enforcement Center on Dick Street since 1974, when the LEC was built. Since that time, Cumberland County’s population has grown by approximately 95,000 people, and the volume of emergency calls has increased. In addition to the 911 call center, the building will house the county’s Emergency Services Department, Fire Marshal’s office, Emergency Management and the Emergency Operations Center. The county purchased the Executive Place building in November 2018 for $5.1 million, hoping the city of Fayetteville would want to share the building and the purchase. The city chose not to get involved. Assistant County Manager Tracey Jackson has estimated the total cost of purchasing, renovating and occupying the building will exceed $30 million.

    Szoka named jobs champion

    The North Carolina Chamber has named Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, a 2019 Jobs Champion in its annual “How They Voted” report, which details lawmakers’ voting records on key bills identified as critical to preserving a positive climate for job creation in North Carolina. Szoka was recognized for voting with the Chamber’s jobs agenda at least 80% of the time.

    06 02 john szoka“Job creation and economic development has been, and continues to be, my primary focus in the legislature,” Szoka said.

    “The 2019 legislative session saw a number of successes for North Carolina’s job creators and communities,” said Ray Starling, general counsel at the NC Chamber. “We appreciate that Rep. Szoka stood up for the ideas that will fuel our state’s competitive business climate and grow our world-class workforce.”

    The NC Chamber considers itself the state’s driving force for business and exists to shape statewide public policy. For more information, visit ncchamber.com.

    Cumberland County Sobriety Treatment Court

    The Cumberland County Sobriety Treatment Court held a holiday safety event in early December to help raise awareness of the dangers of drinking alcohol and driving. Cumberland County ranks in the top five of North Carolina’s 100 counties in alcohol-related incidents and fatalities. Since 2013, an average of 300 people died annually in nationwide auto accidents involving drunken driving during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

    06 03 dui court“The holidays are an important time to celebrate with family and friends and we also want it to be a safe time,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement.

    The Sobriety Treatment Court is funded by the Governor’s Highway Safety Council and provides a treatment system for high-risk DWI offenders who demonstrate destructive behaviors coupled with alcohol abuse. The specialty court in Cumberland County was established in 2010. Since its inception, 35 clients have completed the court. There are currently 108 defendants enrolled.

    Help with heating bills

    The Cumberland County Department of Social Services is accepting applications for the North Carolina Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Applications are taken at the Department of Social Services, 1225 Ramsey St., from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. During December, only households with a person aged 60 and older or disabled persons receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services were eligible for LIEAP. Other households may apply from Jan. 2 through March 31, or until funds are exhausted. Households with Native Americans age 18 or 06 04 thermostat and dollar billolder must apply through the Lumbee Tribe at www.lumbeetribe.com. The federally funded energy assistance program provides a one-time payment directly to the utility company to help eligible households pay their heating bills during cold-weather months. Household income must not exceed 130 % of the poverty level. All households must apply for LIEAP; there are no automatic approvals.

    School bus tracking

    The Cumberland County Board of Education has approved a contract renewal with Synovia GPS Transportation that will allow real-time tracking of the district’s 492 yellow school buses and 62 activity buses. Cumberland County Schools will have access to the “Here Comes the Bus” mobile app. The solution will allow the district to track school buses and deliver real-time email and push notification alerts to ensure families arrive at the school bus stop on time.

    “This tool will provide another way for our school system to communicate with parents and help keep our students safe,” said Dianne Grumelot, the Executive Director of Transportation. “Here Comes the Bus” will be piloted at a few schools in the spring of 2020 and implemented at all schools by the 2020-2021 school year. 
    06 05 School bus and kids
  • 09 NCParks42008 Angela Shimel MOJE 2019 01 01After a month of reaching for Christmas cookies, saucy meatballs and high-calorie cocktails at holiday parties, come January, tennis shoes and water bottle in hand may be a welcome change. First Day Hikes at North Carolina State Parks, held annually every Jan. 1 for the last 40 plus years, are the perfect occasion for this change of pace and pursuit.

    The North Carolina State Park system continues the tradition of family adventure, exercise and reconnection with nature in 2020 with guided hikes at more than 40 sites. All state parks will be open on the holiday, with rangers leading educational hikes ranging from short strolls to extended excursions.

    In North Carolina, this popular tradition began at Eno River State Park in Durham. Today, some 400 state parks across the country and also close to home in the Cape Fear region are in on the action. 

    Carver’s Creek State Park. Visitors can choose from one of three hikes: a three-mile history hike at the Long Valley Access in Spring Lake where Long Valley Farm, the vacation home of the late James Stillman Rockefeller is the highlight; a one-mile children’s hike or the 3.5-mile nature hike at the Sandhills Access located at 995 McCloskey Road in Fayetteville.

    Raven Rock State Park. This Harnett County park features a two-hour, two-and-a-half-mile hike, where a descent down 100-plus steps to the flagship Raven Rock is optional.

    Weymouth Woods State Park. This site in neighboring Moore County offers visitors the choice of three different one- to two-mile hikes scheduled at varying intervals throughout New Year’s Day.

    Singletary Lake State Park. This park in bordering Bladen County has a unique 4 p.m. Carolina Bay Sunset Hike on an easy one-mile loop. Carry your camera on the hike to capture a spectacular sunset.

    Jones Lake State Park. Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to join a park ranger for a one-mile hike on the Cedar Loop Trail. Discussion on the hike will include the history of Jones Lake State Park and flora and fauna of the area.

    According to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer Katie Hall, “Hiking in a state park is a great start to the new year by disconnecting and redirecting — taking a break from screen time that overloads us at work and school and redirecting our attention to the natural world around us, good people and fresh air.”

    Plus, visitors participating in the North Carolina State Parks 100-mile Challenge to walk, hike, paddle, cycle or otherwise explore 100 miles in the state parks can add First Day Hikes to their total mileage. New to the Challenge? Consider adding the Challenge to your resolution list.

    First Day Hikes is a promotion of America’s State Parks and the National Association of State Park Directors. You can put your best foot forward in 2020 with a state-park sponsored First Day Hike.

    Each park has its unique offerings. See https://www.ncparks.gov/first-day-hikes for full details.
  • 05 Car Dealer 2They say timing is everything. When you are thinking about a new car, timing can save you thousands if you pick the right time of year — or cost you thousands if you don’t get the timing right. As the seasons pass, transaction prices can fluctuate with supply and demand. Automotive financing, cashback and leasing incentives change month to month, based on the time of the year. The inventory of new vehicles varies as model years change, and new cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans arrive in the market.

    The absolute best month to buy is December, dealers say. To understand why December is the best time to buy a car, you need first to understand the process and the whys and wherefores. Car dealers and salespeople have quotas, lots of quotas. There are daily quotas, 10-day quotas and monthly quotas for the number of vehicles they have to sell. And there is a big goal — the annual quota. The end of the year is a busy time at dealerships because the very best deals of the year are offered on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The periods that manufacturers use to determine sales do not always coincide with calendar months.

    The industry’s calendar for 2017, for example, had the sales month of December end Jan. 2, 2018. Your car purchase, this week, could determine the difference between the dealership hitting its annual sales goal and the salespeople receiving nice annual bonuses — or not. That’s why December, more specifically, the last week of the month, is the best time of year to buy a car. According to TrueCar, you can save an additional 8.3% off the price of a new car if you visit the dealership on New Year’s Eve.

    Let’s say you were considering a used car going for $20,000. If you go in on New Year’s Eve, which is Tuesday, you stand to slash $1,660 just because you went in on the last day — and that’s in addition to other discounts offered. According to Mike Rabkin, owner and founder of From Car to Finish, the end of the month is great “because sales managers at dealerships have monthly quotas to hit and get compensated on whether they hit them or not.”

    U.S. News and World Report notes that well-informed consumers are most likely to score great deals on new cars. The magazine provides buyers with all of the information they need, from learning about the buying process to choosing a new versus almost-new car and understanding financing options. Car loans are based on individual credit ratings. The higher one’s credit score, the lower the interest rate. The better the rate, the lower the monthly car payment. Buyers with established banking relationships can usually get better financing at their banks. Financing at a dealer’s business office means a point or two more on the interest rate regardless of a buyer’s creditworthiness.

  • 10 FTCC Christmas articleFaculty, staff and students at Fayetteville Technical Community College celebrated the opening of a large, state-of-the-art greenhouse on Dec. 5.

    The new greenhouse at FTCC’s Wesley A. Meredith Horticulture Educational Center, adjacent to the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, replaces one that was destroyed last year by floodwaters from Hurricane Florence.

    Local and state officials, community members, and representatives from two congressional offices joined the FTCC community for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new greenhouse is bigger and better than its predecessor, with numerous unique characteristics. Its features include a double-door entrance, an evaporative cooling system and a sidewall roll-up with motorized curtains. It is also built to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act — a first — and its site has been raised nearly 10 feet. It is now level with the neighboring Horticulture Educational Center, which was not flooded during Hurricane Florence.

    The project was funded by the Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery Fund, which was established by the North Carolina General Assembly.

    During an address before the ribbon-cutting, FTCC President Dr. Larry Keen asked students from the Horticulture Technology program to join him near the podium.

    “Why we do the work we do is represented up here,” Keen said of the students. “They are the ones who not only hold tomorrow in their hands but today in their hands as well. These are our students. These are the ones we work for every single day.”

    The ceremony’s guest speaker, North Carolina Rep. John Szoka, reminded the audience of the damage caused by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence in 2016 and 2018. Szoka said efforts by the legislature — including Rep. Elmer Floyd who was in attendance — helped create a reserve fund to aid in rebuilding.

    “What we do in Raleigh is important,” Szoka said. “We do it because we love our community.”

    Construction on the new greenhouse began in August. Pamela Gibson, FTCC’s dean of engineering and applied technology, expressed excitement about the greenhouse; the horticulture program falls under her department.

    “It has been a long road since we lost the last one,” Gibson said. “The hurricanes were devastating, but the silver lining is because of the hurricane recovery funding, we have a state-of-the-art greenhouse.”

    The previous greenhouse, built in 2008, was the location of “Greenhouse Operations,” a course required for an associate degree in horticulture technology. Students learned about growing plants, temperature control, irrigation and more. After the original greenhouse was destroyed, the course moved to a smaller conservatory and plants were watered by hand, said Dr. Robin Pusztay, department chair for Horticulture Technology. The program went without a greenhouse for a year — until now.

    After the ribbon-cutting, people toured the greenhouse and spoke with students about the building and the plants inside — annual flowers, peppers, herbs and even pogonias, a type of orchid. A handful of guests left with more than they had arrived with —   a plant grown by a horticulture student.

  • 07 Black eyed peas 16167751712The annual Black-eyed Pea Dinner is a decades-old Fayetteville tradition, drawing hundreds of attendees each year. For many, it would not feel like the start of the new year without this event. Register of Deeds Lee Warren hosts it. It is on New Year’s Day from 11 a.m.-2 p.m at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center in the auditorium.

    This event started in the 70s. It was led by Sheriff Otis Jones and local attorney Willis Brown. After Jones died in the late 80s, the event stopped happening. Then when Warren was elected to be the County Commissioner in 1992, he and his friend Owen Spears, who was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, worked hard to make sure the New Year’s Dinner took place again.

    Then the district attorney, Grannis partnered with Warren to host the event. Grannis died, but the Grannis family continue to work with Warren on the dinner. Billy West, who is now the district attorney, also helps with the event. West has been working with the event for around 20 years.

    “Years ago, there used to be events like this from time to time,” said Warren. “There aren’t many events like this that are open to the public. I’m not sure if there are many events left like this anymore.” 
    The menu consists of black-eyed peas, collard greens, barbecue, candied yams, dinner rolls, tea and coffee.

    “When you are preparing an event that you don’t send invitations to, you run an ad in the newspaper, and you invite in essence anybody who reads the paper with this,” said Warren. “Everybody is invited. So, we never know exactly how many people are coming. There could be several thousand people coming. We start several months ahead in preparing for the dinner, ordering food and  lining up all the help, everything it takes to put on an event like that.”

    Warren continued, “We prepare so that we don’t run out of food. We prepare a little extra because every year, whatever we have leftover, we donate to the My Rover Reis Home to help the people that they house there.”

    For entertainment, Larry Chasten, a gospel singer, performs. When asked about his favorite part of the event, Lee Warren said it is “seeing people that come every year, renewing old friendships and making new ones. That is the best part about it. It is  just a good time to renew old friendships and to say hello.”

    Another priority for the day of the dinner is making sure everybody has a good time and gets fed. “I don’t think we have ever completely run out of food any year that we have done it, so our goal is to not do that,” Warren said.

  • 12 01 jackie warnerHere are the top ten Hope Mills stories of the year as chosen by a panel of voters:

    1. Historic election

    In a historic night for the town of Hope Mills, the town turned its elected leadership to not one but two women.

    Mayor Jackie Warner, after a bitter campaign fight with sitting Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell, was returned to office for a fifth term, winning easily with 55.5%  of the vote.

    The history was made by Dr. Kenjuana McCray, an instructor at Fayetteville Technical Community College. McCray, as far as anyone can remember, became the first African-American female elected to the board, leading all candidates for town office this year with 792 votes.

    As a result of leading the ticket, she was installed as the town’s Mayor Pro Tem.
    12 02 kenjuana mccray
    2. Youth sports teams enjoy strong seasons

    It was a banner year for spring sports teams from Hope Mills. In a town that already has a rich youth sports tradition, the summer of 2019 made it even richer.

    Four teams from the town won state titles and advanced to World Series competition in different divisions of the Dixie Youth program.

    Taking state honors were the Dixie 14U boys of Richard Martinez, the 10U Dixie Softball girls of Doren Kolasa, the 8U Dixie Boys of Jesse Cox and the 12U Dixie Ponytails softball of Steve Welsh.

    The Cumberland Post 32 Bombers of Stan Bagley won the Lady Legion state softball title.

    3. Hope Mills Fire Department Honored

    The Hope Mills Fire Department won an award that went far beyond a plaque to put in a trophy case.

    The North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshall awarded the fire department a No. 2 rating.

    The rating, which took effect in August, is a plus for the town’s citizens and businesses as it means insurance premiums charged to them should be less because of the town’s high level of protection from fire.

    4. Mayor Warner, son Teddy exonerated

    The town’s Board of Commissioners lodged a charge of collusion against Mayor Jackie Warner and her son, Teddy Warner, when the latter made a presentation to the board in his role working for the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Commission.

    A board-authorized investigation, which wound up costing the town $26,000, was conducted by attorney James P. Cauley, an acknowledged expert in municipal law.

    Exonerating both the five-term mayor and her son, Cauley boiled the divide between the mayor and commissioners down to two factors. “It is attributable to a combination of rookie mistakes and changing governance policies,’’ he said.

    12 03 Hope Mills Dam5. Hope Mills Dam wins more honors.

    The restored Hope Mills dam won its second major award this past July.

    The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure presented the town with the Envision Bronze Award.

    The award is presented to projects like the dam on the basis of their resilience and sustainability.

    Since the dam has been restored it has been through two hurricanes, and the only significant damage sustained was to an eel ladder that allows  the animals to migrate around the dam structure.
    The dam’s first national award was in 2018.

    6. Arts Council created

    The new Hope Mills Creative Arts Council was established. One of its first acts was to partner with the Sweet Tea Shakespeare company and bring a live production of "Timon of Athens" to Carleen’s of Hope Mills.
    The production resulted in record ticket sales for a Sweet Tea production.

    7. Hope Mills leads in military recruitment

    According to Defense Department rankings for 2018, Hope Mills leads the nation in military recruitment.

    From a population of 2,322 candidates age 17-24, Hope Mills had 374 who enlisted last year.

    8. ALMS HOUSE has successful summer program

    The ALMS HOUSE of Hope Mills continued its string of successful outreaches to the community, mounting an important summer bag lunch program that provided an average of 20 bag lunches per week to children and some adults in need. Support through food and money donations from the community were essential.

    9. Heritage Park plan still on hold

    Work on the proposed Heritage Park development remains on hold. The land remains undeveloped as the Board of Commissioners focused more attention on the home of coyotes, Golfview Greenway, while both Heritage Park and the former Episcopal Church and its severely distressed parish hall remain untouched.

    10. Golden Knights come to Hope Mills

    The United States Army’s famed Golden Knights precision parachute jumping team made an appearance in Hope Mills, jumping in to help with the town’s observance of Heroes Homecoming.


    Picture 1: Mayor Jackie Warner

    Picture 2: Kenjuana McCray

    Picture 3: The Hope Mills dam won a second award in July. 

  • 06 Happy New YearChristmas Day and New Year’s Day allow people to enjoy a complete week of holiday festivities. People decorate their homes and shops and purchase gifts for each other. We wish each other a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special foods, watching fireworks displays and making resolutions for the new year.

    The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox — the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness — heralded the start of a new year. Festivities have varied over time. Early celebrations were more paganistic, celebrating Earth’s cycles. It wasn’t until Julius Caesar implemented the Julian calendar that Jan. 1 became the common day for the celebration.

    In many countries, modern New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of Dec. 31 and continue into the early hours of Jan. 1. Americans often celebrate with parties featuring toasting, drinking and fireworks late into the night on New Year’s Eve. Some might even get a kiss at midnight. Customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne” in many English-speaking countries.

    New Year’s Eve has always been a time to reflect on the past, but more importantly, to plan for the future. Resolutions can be anything from meal prepping to volunteering. In many parts of the world, traditional new year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success. One example includes black-eyed peas in the southern United States. New Year’s resolutions are traditions. Some are more popular than others.

    According to an Inc. study of 2,000 people, the most common resolutions that were made in 2019 include No. 1 eating healthier. More than two-thirds of American adults are considered to be overweight or obese. It should come as no surprise that diet is the first thing people want to tackle in the new year. Exercising more comes under the same umbrella as eating healthier. Working out more is the second most common new year’s resolution.

    Many Americans are eager to get on top of their finances in the new year. Some want to get out of debt while others are more focused on bulking up their savings accounts. About a third of Americans make this their top goal. Debt.com says to be specific, set a budget, let go of unhealthy spending habits, track your spending, and use cash whenever you can.

    Sometimes new year’s resolutions are about losing things: extra weight, debt or emotional baggage like letting go of nasty habits, such as eating junk food and smoking. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said, “it’s never too early to quit.” There are plenty of tools to help you through it. Over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy products make it easier to kick nicotine without spending a fortune or even stepping a foot in the doctor’s office. On average, smokers try about four times before they quit for good, so don’t let a failed attempt discourage you. Happy New Year!

  • 13 01 bazzleHere are the top ten Fayetteville and Cumberland County high school stories as selected by a panel of voters:

    1. Tyler Bazzle scores for South View.

    Tyler Bazzle, a student at South View High School, suffers from a form of cerebral palsy that causes him to be nonverbal and require a walker to get around.

    He’s beloved by both students and faculty, and he is a fan of the South View football team and its star player, Matthew Pemberton.

    South View athletic director Chad Barbour went to head coach Rodney Brewington with the idea of letting Bazzle suit up for a game, then running a play, giving Bazzle the ball and letting him score a touchdown.
    The event was held at South View’s homecoming game with E.E. Smith, with the full support of the folks from Smith and the officiating crew.

    Just prior to the kickoff, the ball was given to Bazzle, and best friends Kevin Brewington and Pemberton helped him into the endzone.

    13 02 holiday hypeAfter the game, Pemberton gave Bazzle his game cleats.

    “It’s an experience I’ll never forget,’’ Barbour said.

    2. Wilson excels at wrestling

    Dallas Wilson is following in the footsteps of his dad, Cape Fear High School wrestling coach Heath Wilson. His dad is a former state champ and Dallas has already surpassed his efforts.
    Dallas won his second consecutive state 3-A wrestling title last year. Also winning from Cape Fear was Jared Barbour.

    This year, Dallas is seeking to become only the second wrestler in Cumberland County history with three state titles.

    The other is Richard “Pnut” Tolston of Jack Britt High School, who won three straight for Jack Britt High School from 2013-15.

    3. Cumberland County athletic signings

    Cumberland County Schools had a banner year for its athletes signing letters binding them to compete in athletes for colleges.

    According to Cumberland County Student Activities Director Vernon Aldridge, 126 county athletes committed to play for a variety of colleges.

    4. Special Olympics honors Gray’s Creek High School

    Gray’s Creek High School was one of only two high schools in the state recognized by Special Olympics North Carolina for helping to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities.
    Gray’s Creek became an early leader in the Unified Sports program, which partners able-bodied athletes with special needs athletes so the latter can compete in sports including wrestling, track and bowling.

    5. Terry Sanford’s Herz drafted by Chicago Cubs

    After a brilliant high school career, Terry Sanford pitcher D.J. Herz was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the 2019 Major League Draft.

    Herz was selected in the eighth round by the Cubs. In his final season at Terry Sanford he was 8-1 with a Cumberland County Schools best 0.50 earned run average. He pitched 56.1 innings and led the county with 106 strikeouts.
    Herz played for one of the Cubs’ two Arizona rookie league teams last year.

    The lefthander appeared in six games, finishing with an 0-1 record and no saves in 10.1 innings pitched. He had eight walks and eight strikeouts.

    6. Terry Sanford football stadium demolished

    After years of debate about its future, the oldest and biggest high school football stadium in Fayetteville was torn to the ground.

     That forced this year’s Terry Sanford football and soccer teams to play all of their games away at Reid Ross Classical High School’s John Daskal Stadium.
    The football team played one game at Fayetteville State’s Nick Jeralds Stadium.

    The new stadium won’t be used until the first football game of the 2020 season, which is scheduled on Thursday, Aug. 20, against Lumberton.

    7. Jason Norton leads Pine Forest while battling cancer

    If there was ever a profile in courage, it has to be former Pine Forest athletic director Jason Norton. First diagnosed with cancer in 2016, Norton continued to make a regular commute from his native Hamlet to work as athletic director at Pine Forest.

    He continued to fight to regain his health and remain at Pine Forest until the strain finally forced him to step down as Trojan athletic director, taking temporary leave in September.

    8. Cape Fear ends South View cross country streak

    The Cape Fear boys’ cross country team  ended one of the longest winning streaks in Cumberland County history this season when they halted South View’s run of 21 straight conference cross country championships.
    Jonathan Piland sparked the Colts by placing second in the championship race with a time of 17:04.20.

    Julius Ferguson was third overall for the Colts while Juan Alvarado took fifth, giving Cape Fear three runners in the top five.

    Placing in the top 20 for Cape Fear were Collin Gaddy 10th, Alden Bostic 13th and Colton Danks 20th.

    The Colts went on to place fourth in the regional meet and qualified for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championship meet.

    9. Fayetteville Academy wins state basketball title

    Bill Boyette is no stranger to championship basketball. After a long record of earning titles in public schools, Boyette added a private school championship to his resume.

    Boyette’s Fayetteville Academy boys won the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2-A championship, defeating Wayne Country Day 64-45 in the title game.

    Fayetteville Academy finished 27-3.

    According to rankings posted at MaxPreps.com, the Eagles were No. 6 in the state among all schools, public and private, and No. 1 in their classification in the NCISAA.

    10. TIE

    Multi-sport standout and football broadcaster Don Koonce dies.

    Don Koonce was one of the greatest multi-sport athletes in Cumberland County history.

    After a successful stint in the minor leagues, he returned to his native county and became involved with the Mid-South Sports broadcasting team as a color commentator.

    Eventually, he branched out on his own, founding DK Sports, Inc., which led to the creation of multiple broadcast teams covering everything from football to basketball to softball.
    Koonce passed away shortly before the 2019 football season started.

    His loss left a void in local high school sports coverage that will be almost impossible to fill.

    Terry Sanford’s Dorian Clark sets school rushing record

    There have been some great running backs at Terry Sanford, names like Nub Smith, Roger Gann, Dwight Richardson and Louis Craft just to list a few.
    But among all of them, Dorian Clark now stands as the all-time leading rusher.

    The senior running back finished his stellar career with the Bulldogs with 5,945 career yards and 67 touchdowns.

    For the season he had 2,346 yards and 33 scores. The former was tops among Cumberland County running backs.


    Picture 1: Tyler Bazzle celebrates his touchdown.

    Picture 2: L-R, Dallas Wilson and Jared Barbour of Cape Fear pose with their championship brackets on the floor of the Greensboro Coliseum after winning NCHSAA state 3-A wrestling titles.


  • 04 01 logo NC Civil War History Center03Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin has signed on to an idea put forward by State Rep. Billy Richardson, D-Cumberland. Colvin has agreed to name a task force of officials and citizens to review the detailed plans of the proposed Civil War & Reconstruction History Center. Richardson supports the concept. Colvin does not. Citing the 400th anniversary of slavery in America, Colvin noted there are three major museums in the country that are “successful examples of how these facilities have worked.”

    The task force will visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.; the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama; and the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

    Richardson believes the proposed history center will help the community overcome “the deep-rooted mistrust we have for each other.” Richardson detailed his thoughts in an opposite editorial page article in The Fayetteville Observer Dec. 15. “We have the opportunity for our community to give due consideration to fully embracing the proposed History Center,” he wrote. “Colvin’s support of these proposals identified herein is a great step forward, and will ultimately make our History Center a reality and one we can all take pride in.”

    04 02 US Congress buildingCumberland County now in one congressional district

    North Carolina judges have ordered a new U.S. House district map be used in the 2020 elections. They decided there isn’t enough time to scrutinize the boundaries for partisan bias because it’s too late in the election cycle. The North Carolina primary for hundreds of state and local elected positions is March 3, and candidate filing has already begun.

    “There’s simply not sufficient time to fully develop the factual record necessary to decide the constitutional challenges to the new congressional districts without significantly delaying the primary elections,” Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway said.

    The approved map places all of Cumberland County in the 8th Congressional District. Previously, the county was divided between the 8th and 9th districts. “It is time for the citizens to vote,” Ridgeway declared.
    Ten of the 13 current North Carolina U.S. House members are Republicans in a state considered a presidential battleground.

    Local government leaders ready for the new year

    Cumberland County Commission Chairman Marshall Faircloth is determined to improve the working relationship between county government and the city of Fayetteville. Faircloth listed his hopes after being 04 03 Cumberland county courthouse2sworn in as the board’s new chairman. They also include creation of a performing arts center and financial support of the proposed Civil War & Reconstruction History Center. He said the county will live up to its promise of contributing $7.5 million toward the Civil War project if the city of Fayetteville keeps its word to do so. Meanwhile Mayor Mitch Colvin said he is “overjoyed” to lead the most diverse city council in history. “We have five amazing ladies in the leadership of this city... and distinguished gentlemen as well,” he said. The 10-member council is comprised of two white members and eight African Americans, a record. District 1 Councilwoman Kathy Jensen was appointed Mayor Pro Tem. Shakeyla Ingram replaces Dan Culliton in District 2. In District 3, Tisha Waddell was re-elected. District 4 incumbent D.J. Haire keeps his post as does District 5’s Johnny Dawkins. Chris Davis takes Bill Crisp’s place as the District 6 member. 7th District councilman Larry Wright was re-elected, and Courtney Banks-McLaughlin replaces Ted Mohn in District 8. Yvonne Kinston defeated 9th District member Jim Arp.

    Kenjuana McCray made history in Hope Mills becoming the first African American to serve on the five-member town Board of Commissioners.

    Freedom of Speech at FSU

    Fayetteville State University has earned the highest free speech rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FSU is the 12th institution in North Carolina to earn FIRE’s “green 04 04 First Amendment in Constitutionlight” rating, which is only held by 51 institutions nationwide.

    “I am pleased that FIRE has designated Fayetteville State University with the green light rating,” said FSU Interim Chancellor Dr. Peggy Valentine. “We believe in having a campus environment where the voices of our students and faculty can be heard and where they can exercise their First Amendment rights.”

    FSU revised seven policies since 2017 to earn the rating, including a computer use policy, bulletin board posting policy, residence hall policy and an unconstitutional ban on profanity. “We’re proud to cement the state’s status as a leader in campus free speech with FSU’s well-earned designation as a university that values and protects student expression,” said FIRE Vice President of Policy Reform Azhar Majeed.

    Two North Carolina institutions — Davidson College and Winston-Salem State University — earned FIRE’s worst, “red light” rating for policies that clearly and substantially restrict speech. According to FIRE’s “Spotlight on Speech Codes 2019” report, nearly 90% of colleges maintain policies that restrict and chill protected expression.
  • 02 12 25 graphic for pub pen

    • Ah, the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, where no one knows exactly what's going on, what day it is or where they are supposed to be.

      11 Holiday HypeIt almost feels like limbo in a way — done with the year, but still have a few days left. At times, this seemingly unneeded week feels like more of a test of patience than anything else. All that holiday hype surrounds us for months on end, and when it finally gets here and is over in a day, we're all left reeling from the parties, the hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the nonexistent snow. Can the year just be over yet?

      In recent years, when I feel this certain kind of impatience rising up in me, I feel a bit of push-back in my own spirit. Yes, the Christmas hype is over, but I think I actually need this week — the week where everything slows down, things are put on hold until the new year, and my mind, body and spirit can just rest and regroup.

      Hopefully, resting and regrouping looks a little different for me this year. See, 2019 has left me wanting less. I want simple. I want purposeful. I want slow. I want to want less. However, it's not enough to just want less. I need a plan, and this week, I'm finalizing it.

      Maybe you're feeling this way, too. Here's a few ideas I've been tossing around to begin the journey to “simple living."

      • Less screen time
      • More time outdoors
      • Less stuff — purging what we don't need, making fewer purchases
      • More physical activity
      • Less concern for what I don't have
      • More concern for others
      • Less social media
      • More face-to-face socializing

      If you're craving simple, too, grab a pen and paper — because, really, what's more satisfying than a simple handwritten list? — and jot down some ideas for yourself and your family. It all starts with ideas, but it can't end there. What will these changes actually look like for you and your family? What are some things you can do to make it happen and see results? For me, I'm even considering not having a smart phone for an entire year just to force me to make a change. If you see me on the side of the road somewhere flipping a map around over and over with a panicked look on my face because I can't use my GPS, you'll know I'm making headway.

      Hopefully this will be a year where my heart meets my mind in truly believing that more will not satisfy, busy will not qualify, and good intentions will not modify.
      I'm believing less actually is more, and I'm riding that train all the way to 2021.

      Want to hear about the journey? Listen weekday mornings to the Daily Grind on Christian 105.7 WCLN for updates, and give us your own tips for simple living.
  • 08 N1812P36012CThe Umoja Group, Inc. of Fayetteville presents its annual Kwanzaa celebration Sunday, Dec. 29 from 3-6 p.m. at Smith Recreation Center located at Seabrook Park.

    Kwanzaa is a secular event that celebrates culture, family and community.

    The activities include a drum call, welcome song, tribute to elders, a libation to honor ancestors, drummers, dancers, singers, a parade of African queens and kings, a feast, a  children’s candlelight ceremony and traditional dance performances. The candle lighting ceremony features the seven principles of Kwanzaa, which are values to live by daily.

     They include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. There will be a presentation of the annual Umoja Group scholarship at the event, as well.
    The Umoja Group is a nonprofit organization and donations are appreciated and tax deductible. Bring your favorite food dish to share and dress in ethnic wear.

    Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966 when Maulana Karenga introduced the celebration. Karenga modeled the event after traditional African harvest festivals and named it based on the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits.” Although Kwanzaa takes place during Christmas and Hanukkah seasons, it is not a religious holiday.

    The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 910-485-8035 or email umojagroupfay@gmail.com.

  • 03 N1611P52005CEditor's Note: On Dec. 20, The North Carolina Board of Elections approved making Smith Recreation Center an early voting site for the 2020 primary.

    My wife and I recently watched a movie titled “The American President.”
     Michael Douglas plays the role of President Andrew Shepherd. In a press briefing near the end of the movie, Douglas makes this statement regarding his reelection opponent, Sen. Bob Rumson, played by Richard Dreyfuss: “Whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who to blame.” This statement is from a movie, but it is true in real life today. However, to fear, I would add anger.

    The happenings in our time that demonstrate the truth of this approach are numerous. One is the push to make Smith Recreation Center an early voting site during the 2020 primary. The Cumberland County Board of Elections was unable to, as required by law, unanimously approve this proposal. All three Democratic members — Floyd W. Johnson Jr., Irene Grimes, Helen Nelson — voted in favor, while the two Republicans voted in opposition. Lacking a unanimous vote for approval, the matter must go before the State Board of Elections for a decision. That board has a majority Democratic membership, and only a majority vote is required to approve the Smith Recreation Center proposal.

    In this case, the argument made by proponents of Smith Recreation as a site is that the surrounding area is home to many elderly citizens, convenient for voting by students at Fayetteville State University and would encourage voting by university students. This argument summary is based on comments made by citizens who spoke at a meeting of the County Board of Elections on Nov. 12.

    Now consider the response of many Smith proponents when making it an early voting site for a primary was rejected by the two Republican members of the Board — Linda Devore and Bobby Swilley. There was an immediate rush to generate fear and anger while blaming Republicans for supposed unfair treatment of black citizens.

    An example of this fear, anger and blaming approach shows through in a statement attributed to Val Applewhite. It appears in an article titled, “Vote site fight: Should early voting be held next door to Fayetteville State University?” by Paul Woolverton. He writes: “Val Applewhite, a prominent local Democrat and former Fayetteville City Council member, said on Facebook that she thinks Republicans voted against the Smith Recreation site in an effort to prevent Democrats from voting.”

    Then the following comments were made by Floyd W. Johnson Jr., chairman of the County Board of Elections, during an exchange with Linda Devore when discussing consistency in voting procedures as recorded in the Nov. 12 Board meeting minutes: “Polling sites primarily in African-American communities have been closed to save money, or the turnout is too low, so they combine polling sites. To me, that is a form of voter suppression. I believe it is a template to suppress the African-American voters. That is fact.”

    Simply screaming “voter suppression” and blaming Republicans is typical employment of fear, anger and blaming in pursuit of political advantage and power. The unfair and destructive results of this tactic are compounded by the routinely accompanying misinformation and refusal to honestly consider the facts that support the position being questioned.

    In the Smith Recreation situation, some speakers in the Nov. 12 meeting were clearly under the impression that Smith had been an early voting site for primaries in past presidential elections. Smith has never been an early site for a presidential primary. The only time it was an early site for a primary was in 2014. That was due to 2013 legislation that reduced the early voting period from 17 to 10 days. Terri Robertson, director of the Cumberland County Board of Elections, explained that Smith was added that year due to the reduced days and expected resulting need for relief at the North Regional Library site. The 2013 legislation was repealed, and the early voting timeframe returned to 17 days. That negated the need for Smith as a primary early voting site. What happened here points to sound reasoning and not to voter suppression.

    Another bit of misinformation raised by some speakers was that Cross Creek 13, the precinct for which Smith Recreation Center is the polling place, was being closed. The minutes reflect the following: Secretary Devore was recognized to make a comment of clarification. Because several public commenters mentioned this, there is no proposal or discussion before this board to close CC13. It has never been a consideration. There are 77 precincts in this county, and they will all be open on election days.

    My observation is that most of the fear and anger production, along with blaming, is done on social media, especially Facebook. Not surprisingly, I have seen nothing on Facebook from proponents of Smith as a primary early voting site correcting these two points of misinformation.

    In 2014, when Smith was an early primary site, 362 votes were cast early. As of Dec. 12, 2019, 51 of those voters were no longer registered, leaving 311. Voters in  the 311 came from 54 different precincts. Only 10 of the 54 had six or more votes cast; most of the others had one or two. The distance from Smith to the nearest primary early voting site, Board of Elections at 227 Fountainhead Lane, is 2.5 miles. Of the 10 precincts from which most early voters came to Smith in 2014, following are the polling places that are less than 2.5 miles from Smith, along with the number of voters and distance: Cross Creek 5, 18/1.1; CC16, 88/.9; CC17, 19/1.9. Smith is Cross Creek 13 and had 24 early voters in 2014. This says 149 votes came from the Murchison Road area that appears to be the basis of the call for Smith being a primary early voting site. For good measure, add another 25 to allow for any low turnout precincts in the area that I did not include here. At the $20,000 minimum estimated cost to operate an early voting site, that is $115 per voter.

    One can make the argument that 2014 was not a presidential election year as 2020 will be. That is a fair point. Look at the 2016 primary. In an article titled, “Last day of early voting brings lines and skateboarding voters,” Paul Woolverton writes that Terri Robertson said preliminary figures indicated 18,539 votes were cast in early voting for the March 15 primary. That was 31% of the 60,098 total votes cast in that primary. The four precincts that I contend make up the focus area for pursuit of early voting at Smith cast a total of 2,516 votes in that primary. Assuming 31% is a good early vote approximation across the board, 780 votes would be cast from those four precincts.

    Jeff Womble, associate vice chancellor of communications at Fayetteville State University, stated that approximately 1,400 students live on campus at the university. A table at  www.census.gov labelled “Table 2. Reported Voting and Registration, by Race, Hispanic Origin, Sex, and Age: November 2018” indicates that 45.7% of black college students 18-24 years old register to vote and do so at a 31% rate. Applying this math to the 1,400 students indicates 434 students might vote. Applying the 31% early vote percentage yields 135.

    Altogether, approximately 915 early votes might be expected from the four focus area precincts. At $20,000, that is $21.86 per voter. Assume the six sites used in 2016 each cost the high of $30,000. The total of $180,000 divided by 18,539 is $9.71. That is less than half the average for operating Smith at the low-end cost. Granted, only four precincts are used in these computations. That seems reasonable since the stated aim is to address the perceived needs of that specific area.

    Distance between early voting sights should also come into play. The average distance between the six sites that are normally used is 12.21 miles, while the shortest is between Cliffdale Recreation Center and the Board of Elections at 6.2 miles. If Smith Recreation Center is made an early voting site, it will only be 2.5 miles from the Board of Elections, where focus-area citizens could vote early. That is less than half the distance between the two closest sites and just 20% of the average.

    Regarding convenience, a person may take a 16-minute city bus ride from the Murchison Road side of Fayetteville State to 505 Franklin St. downtown and then walk 0.3 miles to the Board of Elections for early voting. A bus ride directly to the Board of Elections is 32 minutes.

    The picture here is one of misinformation that is not widely and forthrightly corrected by those who initially contribute to forming it: accusations of black voter suppression not supported by facts or reason; focusing on a small segment of the population when, in this case, equal treatment of all should be the aim; disregarding the high financial cost of the proposed change; not recognizing the inequity of having one site so much closer to another than is the case with others; by declining use of city buses, calling for greater convenience than seems necessary.

    Finally, this singular focus will very possibly conflict with the intent, if not the letter, of recently passed legislation. During the 2016 primary, in these four precincts, a total of 2,516 ballots were cast: 205 by Republicans, 2,301 by Democrats, and 10 by others. Having Smith Recreation Center as an early voting site during the primary would clearly favor Democrats and a primarily black population. Senate Bill 683/SL 2019-239, 163-227.6(b) speaks to voting site selection and ends with “... that the use of the sites chosen will not unfairly favor any party, racial or ethnic group, or candidate.”

    Given all that is presented here, I do not see a reasonable case for making Smith Recreation a primary early voting site. I am finishing this column on Dec. 13, 2019. It is very possible the N.C. Board of Elections will render a decision before this column is published. Whether the board’s decision comes before or after publication of this column, examining their decision in light of what is said here will be a worthwhile edeavor. The aim of that endeavor should be to examine the decision based on facts and reason as opposed to emotion and political manipulation (fear, anger, blaming). Remember the warning given by Michael Douglas in his role as President Andrew Shepherd.

  • 16 01 jimmy peadenThe annual Cumberland County Holiday Classic basketball, now in its second year under a major format change, begins a three-day run Thursday, Dec. 19 at five different sites. This year’s tournament is sponsored by the Southeastern Sports Officials Association.

    The boys are divided into the Len Maness and Ike Walker Sr. brackets while the girls will play in the Gene Arrington and Tom Jackson brackets.

    The Maness bracket is at Westover, Walker bracket at Jack Britt, Arrington bracket at South View and Jackson bracket at Gray’s Creek.

    The championship games in all four brackets will be played Saturday, Dec. 21, at Fayetteville State’s Capel Arena. Here’s a brief look at each bracket.

    Len Maness

    16 02 george stackhouseWestover coach George Stackhouse is cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances of winning the Len Maness bracket of this year’s tournament.

    The Wolverines have been sparked by a trio of solid scorers so far, led by D’Marco Dunn, Traymond Willis-Shaw and Darius Jewell.

    As of this writing, Dunn leads Cumberland County Schools scorers with 21.4 points per game.

    Willis-Shaw is averaging 14.2 points and Jewell 13.4.

    “We’ve got to concentrate on doing the small things,’’ Stackhouse said. “Our defense has got to improve. I do like the pieces we have.’’
    Ike Walker Sr.

    16 03 Dee HardyPine Forest coach Jimmy Peaden enters the tournament with a young group of players he feels are buying into playing defense and learning more about offense as the season progresses.
    “We’ve got a fun, young group,’’ he said. “I look forward to coaching them and watching them grow.’’

    Team leaders so far for the Trojans have been Marquis Eskew and Tristin Harkins. Eskew averages 12.5 points per game and Harkins 11.0.

    “I can always look to Marquis to know when a certain play needs to happen, when a certain call needs to be made,’’ Peaden said.

    Pine Forest’s top scorer is Isaiah Washington with 16.8 points per game. Peaden said his team is still working on buying into the halfcourt offense.

    “We can get out and run with anybody,’’ he said. “If we can execute like we’re supposed to, we’ll be a problem.’’

    Gene Arrington

    16 04 nattlie mcarthurAfter a deep run in last year’s state 3-A playoffs, E.E. Smith coach Dee Hardy has been pleased to see her young team quickly regroup from key graduation losses.

    Leading the way so far for the young Bullettes is freshman Miya Giles-Jones with an average of 11.8 points per game.

    “Out of our first six games I know she’s had four double-doubles,’’ Hardy said. “That’s big for a freshman coming in.’’

    Another freshman, Keshiana Murphy, is averaging 9.6 points. Ke’Onna Bryant, the team’s top scorer at 12.0 points per game, has also contributed.

    “We are still young,’’ Hardy said. “We have to fine tune a lot of things.’’

    Tom Jackson

    Jack Britt coach Nattlie McArthur said her young team is learning the system and playing well together so far.

    Terry Sanford transfer Nyla Cooper leads the Britt scoring with 13.3 points per game. Amber Nealy it at 11.5 and Kaya Goldsby at 10.3.

    She expects the tournament to be tough but thinks her team is ready for the challenge.

    “It’s just a matter of making sure we make the right decisions in our transition, continuing to talk on the floor, being vocal and having fun while they are out there,’’ McArthur said.


    Holiday Classic brackets

    Len Maness Bracket
    Thursday, Dec. 19
    at Westover
    4 p.m. - Wilmington Laney vs. E.E. Smith
    5:30 p.m. - Westover at Middle Creek
    7 p.m. - Fayetteville Christian vs. Cape Fear
    8:30 p.m. - Seventy-First vs. Douglas Byrd
    Friday, Dec. 20
    Consolation bracket
    at Westover
    4 p.m. - Loser 1 vs. Loser 2
    5:30 p.m. - Loser 3 vs. Loser 4.
    Championship bracket
    7 p.m. - Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
    8:30 p.m. - Winner 3 vs. Winner 4.
    Saturday, Dec. 21
    at Westover
    Consolation bracket
    10:30 a.m. - Loser 5 vs. Loser 6
    12 p.m. - Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
    Championship bracket
    at Westover
    1:30 p.m. - Loser 7 vs. Loser 8 (third place)
    at Capel Arena
    8 p.m. - Winner 7 vs. Winner 8 (championship)
    Ike Walker Sr. Bracket
    Thursday, Dec. 19
    at Jack Britt
    4 p.m. - Wilmington Hoggard vs. Gray’s Creek
    5:30 p.m. - Southern Lee vs. South View
    7 p.m. - Terry Sanford vs. Corinth Holders
    8:30 p.m. - Jack Britt vs. Pine Forest
    Friday, Dec. 20
    Consolation bracket
    4 p.m. - Loser 1 vs. Loser 2
    5:30 p.m. - Loser 3 vs. Loser 4
    Championship bracket
    7 p.m. - Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
    8:30 p.m. - Winner 3 vs. Winner 4
    Saturday, Dec. 21
    at Jack Britt
    Consolation bracket
    10:30 a.m. - Loser 5 vs. Loser 6
    12 p.m. - Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
    Championship bracket
    1:30 p.m. - Loser 7 vs. Loser 8 (third place)
    at Capel Arena
    4 p.m. - Winner 7 vs Winner 8
    Gene Arrington Bracket
    Thursday, Dec. 19
    at South View
    4 p.m. - Scotland vs. South View
    5:30 p.m. - Wilmington Hoggard vs. Douglas Byrd
    7 p.m. - E.E. Smith vs. Corinth Holders
    8:30 p.m. - Seventy-First vs. Westover
    Friday, Dec. 20
    Consolation bracket
    4 p.m. - Loser 1 vs. Loser 2
    5:30 p.m. - Loser 3 vs. Loser 4
    Championship bracket
    7 p.m. - Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
    8:30 p.m. - Winner 3 vs. Winner 4
    Saturday, Dec. 21
    Consolation bracket
    10:30 a.m. - Loser 5 vs. Loser 6
    12 p.m. - Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
    Championship bracket
    1:30 p.m. - Loser 7 vs. Loser 8 (third place)
    at Capel Arena
    2 p.m. - Winner 7 vs. Winner 8 (championship)
    Tom Jackson Bracket
    Thursday, Dec. 19
    at Gray’s Creek
    4 p.m. - Gray’s Creek vs. East Bladen
    5:30 - Cape Fear vs. Union Pines
    7 p.m. - Terry Sanford vs. Garner Magnet
    8:30 p.m. - Pine Forest vs. Jack Britt
    Friday, Dec. 20
    Consolation bracket
    4 p.m. - Loser 1 vs. Loser 2
    5:30 p.m. - Loser 3 vs. Loser 4
    Championship bracket
    7 p.m. - Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
    8:30 p.m. - Winner 3 vs. Winner 4
    Saturday, Dec. 21
    Consolation bracket
    10:30 a.m. - Loser 5 vs. Loser 6
    12 p.m. - Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
    Championship bracket
    1:30 p.m. - Loser 7 vs. Loser 8 (third place)
    at Capel Arena
    6 p.m. - Winner 7 vs. Winner 8 (championship)
  • 15 almshouse signAfter a successful effort feeding the underprivileged of Hope Mills at Thanksgiving, the ALMS HOUSE in Hope Mills is gearing up to do the same thing for its annual Christmas Day dinner at noon on Dec. 25.

    The ALMS HOUSE is located at 5512 West Patterson St. near the historic Trade Street district in downtown Hope Mills, just off the main intersection downtown near Hope Mills Lake and Dam.

    Grilley Mitchell, program coordinator for the ALMS HOUSE love lunches program, recently sent out an email to various supporters of the ALMS HOUSE seeking donations of food to make the annual free giveaway of Christmas meals possible.

    Mitchell noted the Thanksgiving project resulted in the serving of 110 meals with the help of some 20 to 25 servers who volunteered their time to help with the project. Unfortunately between the servers and the many guests, the situation became a little crowded and confusing, Mitchell wrote.

    For the Christmas dinner, the carry-out meals will be made ahead of time and individual meals won’t be served with people standing in line. Anyone planning to donate uncooked items must drop them off at the ALMS HOUSE by Monday,
    Dec. 23. Cooked or prepared items can be donated as late as the day of the dinner by 11 a.m.

    The ALMS HOUSE will also be preparing care packages to give away. A variety of items are put in the care packs. They include the following: nonperishable food items like small cans of tuna, cereal bars, cheese and crackers, chicken salad kits, pull-top pasta, veggie chips, fruit cups, applesauce and fruit. Also included in the kits are personal items like soap, washcloths, disposable razors, deodorant, shaving cream and lotion, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, mouthwash, small packs of laundry soap, tissues, ChapStick, wipes, sanitizer, band aids, nail clippers, pairs of socks and inspirational Bible verses.

    The care packs are issued on Christmas Day. They are packed two days before distribution so all items for them should be delivered by Dec. 22.

    As for the menu for the Christmas Dinner, following are specific items that are needed to prepare the meal, which consists of five 12-pound or more turkeys, four 10-pound or more hams, two large pans each of dressing/stuffing, 20 pounds of potato salad, two large pans of macaroni and cheese, two large pans of greens or green bean casserole, two large pans of sweet potatoes/yams, 20 cups of gravy, 10 cans of cranberry sauce, 80 dinner rolls, various desserts — including cakes, pies and cookies and assorted drinks, including iced tea and soft drinks.

    “Thanks to everyone for your continued support,’’ Mitchell wrote. “We would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, and may the grace of God, his love, peace and blessings be with everyone.’’

    Anyone wishing to donate to the Christmas Day dinner or the care packs can sign up at the Love Lunch table at the ALMS HOUSE. You can also email Mitchell at hopemillslovelunch@gmail.com or call him at 910-476-3719.

  • 18 01 taitum jamesTaitum James

    Seventy-First • Volleyball • Senior

    James has a grade point average of 3.6. In addition to volleyball, she’s involved with photography. She also officiates volleyball and is
    a youth leader in her church.


    18 02 kaitlyn bradleyKaitlyn Bradley

    Seventy-First • Cheerleader • Junior

    Bradley has a grade point average of 4.25. She is active in the National Honor Society and is the secretary of the junior class.

  • 12 01 Truman and runRyan’s Reindeer Run is a longstanding tradition in Fayetteville. It celebrates the life of Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh, who died in 2003 from complications of a bone marrow transplant after a 15-month battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The run celebrates Ryan and his passion for life and his love of sports while bringing people together to share a unique and uplifting experience. Ryan’s mom, Roberta Humphries, started the run in Ryan’s honor. This year, it takes place Saturday, Dec. 21 at Cape Fear River Trail’s Jordan Soccer Complex. The 14th Annual Ryan’s Reindeer 5K Fun Run/Walk is family-friendly and is open to walkers and runners. Bring your favorite people and log a few steps together celebrating life and good health.

    Long-time participants will notice a few changes this year, but many of the traditions that make this run so unique are still a part of the event. There are two new organizations involved in hosting the event, although Ryan’s mom is still very much a part of the run.

    The Fayetteville Running Club and Fayetteville Area Tri Warriors have come together to host the event. “FRC is a registered nonprofit, and we use our love for running to give back to our community,” said David Wilkes, FRC president. “We do that through proceeds from our Annual Firecracker 4 Miler race on July 4. We have 15 different meetups a week to choose from, and you do not have to be a ‘professional’ to run with us. We have great socials and expert guest speakers at our monthly meetings.”

    Shelly Los is the vice president of The Fayetteville Area Tri Warriors. The Fayetteville Area Tri Warriors is a group of triathletes dedicated to the sports of swimming, biking and running. “Our 12 02 runathletes range from the beginner to the Ironman, teenager to senior citizen,” said Los. “We encourage people of all fitness levels and interests to branch out and push their limits. Our meetings and club events include swim, bike maintenance, transition and running clinics as well as group workouts with social get-togethers afterwards. Each year, our club organizes the Little Warriors Triathlon, a local triathlon for children ages 6-14. … We love to meet new people and welcome them to our community.”

    Wilkes sees this run as a good fit for FRC because, “First, this race supports the Child Advocacy Center. We are all about supporting local nonprofits. Our members put in thousands of volunteer hours supporting many local events … and second, this race has been a longstanding tradition because of the cause and because it is one of the most fun runs in town. … We want everyone to know that even though Roberta Humphries is allowing us to present this run, this is still Ryan’s Reindeer Run, and it is still Roberta’s event.”

    Los agreed, adding that it is a good fit for the Fayetteville Area Tri Warriors, too, saying, “The Tri Warriors have developed profound respect for Roberta Humphries and her team at the Child Advocacy Center, so we view this fun run as one more opportunity to serve our community. For me, Ryan’s Reindeer Run has become a Fayetteville Christmas tradition right alongside setting out milk and cookies for Santa Claus. Families with children of all ages come out to enjoy the costumes, camaraderie and Christmas spirit — all the while supporting a wonderful local charity. Plus, it allows you to bank some calories for holiday feasting!”

    12 03 people at runWhat’s new

    There are a few changes this year, starting with the route and making it an untimed run. This year’s route unfolds on the scenic Cape Fear River trail. “This is the first year that FRC and Fayetteville Tri Warriors have presented this run, and it is our intention to help Roberta to continue having this run for many more years,” said Wilkes. “Next year, we look forward to moving this route back to its original route and making it a timed race again. This year, we just want to keep the fun in this 14th annual fun run.”

    Registration is 50% off this year, at $15, although next year the event organizers intend to return the registration price to full cost. Registration for the first 250 participants includes an exclusive Ryan’s Reindeer Run bomber hat, as well. Regular long-sleeved shirts are also available.

    This year’s proceeds will go to The Child Advocacy Center in memory of Ryan Kishbaugh.

    What’s staying the same

    12 04 ryan runOne favorite aspect of the race for many long-time participants is the costumes. It brings a sense of lightheartedness to an already lively and entertaining morning. “We are definitely encouraging everyone to bring on the costumes,” Wilkes said. “This year, our main goal was to keep this race fun. We very much appreciate the support we have gotten from the regular sponsors, volunteers and the running community. … Our clubs know how to put on a fun and well-organized event, and this year you will … have a great time.”

    Santa will be there. Come and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. There will be door prizes, too.

    Work groups and teams are welcome.

    Wilkes and Los are excited to be a part of the event. “I will leave with the words of Ryan Kishbaugh,” said Wilkes. “’So do a favor for me and whatever you’re doing today, just go out and RUN, somewhere, anywhere, just RUN because you can – RPK.’ — written three days after receiving his bone marrow transplant.”


    Register at https://runsignup.com/Race/NC/Fayetteville/RyansReindeerFunRun5K online. Online registration closes Dec. 20. On-Site registration will be available Friday, Dec. 20 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Fairfield Inn and Suites, 4249 Ramsey Street. Call 910-223-7867 for more details. Same-day registration takes place Saturday, Dec. 21, from 7-7:45 a.m. at Cape Fear River Trail - Jordan Soccer Complex, 445 Treetop Drive.

    The race starts at 8 a.m. Visit http://www.ryansreindeerrun.com/ to find out more.

  • 13 01 jackie warnerA new era of government for the town of Hope Mills was unveiled on Thursday, Dec. 5, during a special organizational meeting of the newly-elected Board of Commissioners.

    The meeting was generally harmonious, with no bitter debate, and the commissioners acted swiftly to reverse actions of the previous board and restore powers that had been taken away from five-term mayor Jackie Warner.

    Before voting on restoring Warner’s powers, the board heard a brief presentation from town manager Melissa Adams concerning board policies and dos and don’ts for how the board and manager work together.
    There were multiple situations where the previous board overstepped its authority and engaged in activities reserved for the town manager.

    Adams shared with the board, not in lecturing fashion but as information for everyone involved, what the normal relationship with the town manager and the commissioners is.

    Among the key points were:

    1. Commissioners should not contact town staff. Questions should be sent to Adams, who will address the proper staff member.

    13 02 kenjuana mccray2. Board members should not assign tasks to town staff. That is Adams’ responsibility.

    3. If there are problems between board members or between the board and town staff they should be discussed in an open, diplomatic manner.

    4. Board members should never contact the town’s vendors. Those questions should be directed to Adams to handle.

    When it came time to discuss restoring some of the mayor’s powers, returning commissioner Jessie Bellflowers launched into a lengthy discussion of a booklet written by Trey Allen of the University of North Carolina School of Government dealing with powers assigned to the mayor by town boards or councils.

    Bellflowers noted that Allen’s book suggested the mayor not have the power to make motions or nominate people to serve on town committees.

    13 03 Bryan MarleyBut town attorney Dan Hartzog informed the board that Allen’s book was only a suggestion, not mandatory, adding that there was nothing in the official statutes that prohibited a town’s governing board from allowing the mayor to nominate or make motions at meetings.

    The only legal restrictions on the mayor of Hope Mills are limiting his or her right to vote only in situations where there is a tie.

    Since the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners includes five voting members, ties normally can only occur when at least one member is absent.

    Bellflowers further sought to limit Warner’s powers by requiring the board to not vote on any issue involving the sale or lease of town property unless all five commissioners were present for the meeting.

    The board voted 4-1, with Bellflowers the lone dissenting vote, to repeal that requirement.

    Warner did not lobby the board during the meeting for the return of her powers. She noted, however, that historically the Hope Mills mayor has enjoyed broader powers than the previous board allowed her to exercise.
    “I truly do believe I was elected by the people and their expectation oftentimes is I have to take ownership of things,’’ Warner said.

    As a specific example of the benefit of allowing the mayor the power to appoint people to committees, she cited the work of former Mayor Al Brafford, who was a central figure in putting together the committee that eventually helped Hope Mills get a branch of the Cumberland County library constructed in the town.

    “That committee went to the county commissioners and raised money,’’ Warner said. “They had a lot of support and that’s how we got the library.’’

    Board of Commissioners newly-elected members Bryan Marley and Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Kenjuana McCray agreed the mayor needs broader powers than allowed by the previous board. “She needs to be the ambassador for the town,’’ Marley said. “She’s advertising for the town. That’s her job, in my opinion.’’

    McCray concurred, saying as a citizen she wouldn’t want the mayor to lack power to help run the town effectively and efficiently.

    “Those are things she’s been doing and other mayors had been doing prior to last year,’’ McCray said. “She needed to be able to continue to have those powers to continue to run the town the way it needs to be run.’’
    In a Facebook post, one former commissioner questioned the new board moving so quickly to restore Warner’s powers before undergoing training from the Institute of Government next month.

    As the only person elected who has never served on the board, McCray disputed that theory.

    “I have a doctorate degree,’’ she said. “I know how to read and research information. I know how to make informed decisions based off what I read.’’
  • 09 01 Poe House in Christmas Splendor 1One landmark that offers a glimpse into Fayetteville’s past year-round is the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex’s 1897 Poe House. In December, the house is decked out in holiday decor of yesteryear for the “Poe House in Christmas Splendor.”

    In the deed for the home, the house belonged to Josephine Montague Poe, who then married Edgar Allan Poe, not to be mistaken with the famous American author. E.A. Poe was a prominent and affluent businessman in Fayetteville. He owned a brickmaking facility. He also served as a county commissioner in 1904 and on the Board of Aldermen in 1921. The couple had eight children together.

     “What people see when they visit the Poe House is what life was like for an upper class family at the turn of the 20th century,” said Megan Maxwell, the curator for the exhibit. With respect for historical accuracy and through careful recreations, Maxwell said that the home offers a glimpse into the past. 

    The seasonal decor isn’t necessarily what would have been found in a home on a day-to-day basis during the holidays, but more of what you might expect to find in a home decorated for a Christmas party.

    09 02 Poe House in Christmas Splendor 2 From evergreen garlands to beautiful red bows to trees covered in festive ornaments, the house looks like something out of a Thomas Kinkaide painting. “We use a lot of greenery — a lot of pine, magnolia and holly, “ Maxwell said. “We have two Christmas trees. The tree in the parlor is the formal tree.”

    Follow the staircase to the second floor and find the second tree, a scrap tree, so referred to because the ornaments are handmade from scraps, like magazine clippings, for instance.

    Aside from the lovely Christmas decorations, visitors can see vintage items for every day living throughout the home, from toys to clothes to kitchen appliances.

    “We encourage visitors to take pictures and post them on Instagram or Facebook,” said Maxwell. The parlor, in particular, is a beautiful place to take pictures, but they are welcomed throughout the home. Visitors are also encouraged to tag the museum on social media.

    The Christmas decorations will be up through Jan. 5, and the house will be closed for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Day.

    The tours of the Poe House run Tuesday through Friday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Saturdays on the hour from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and on Sundays from 1-4 p.m. The tours are free, but the Museum accepts donations. Visitors can also tour the Museum at their leisure, as well as Arsenal Park, from  10 a.m-5 p.m. on Tuesday-Friday or on Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

  • 06 Davidson WhetstoneDavidson Whetstone is only 9 years old, yet he’s the man of the house while his dad Dave is away, and he often is. Dave is a Green Beret and often deploys to places unknown. The family once called Fort Bragg home but now lives in northern Virginia.

    Davidson is used to not having his dad around, but he never forgets him. “Sometimes it’s fine … but it’s also sad because he’s just not here,” Davidson told CNN. “My mom sometimes breaks down and cries a lot because she misses him.”
    Whetstone is a fictitious name. The family asked that their real name not be used for security reasons.

    Davidson helps his mom, Elizabeth, by reading bedtime stories to his three younger siblings. But Davidson does more than read books. When he was 6, he wrote a book about what a military parent’s absence means to a child. When Elizabeth began putting “feelers out” about publishing the book, she was introduced to Kimberly Taws at The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines. The book was published just in time for Veterans Day last month. It’s called “Brave for my Family.” Davidson’s father illustrated the book.

    When Davidson was 3, his dad was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan, just before Christmas in 2013. “My mom cried, and I was pretty scared that my dad was going to die,” Davidson wrote in the book. “We got on an airplane to Washington, D.C.”

    Dave was flown to Germany and then to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he underwent several surgeries. Shrapnel hit him in the face and down his right side. He lost peripheral vision in his right eye and some shrapnel remains in his body today.

    “I wanted to write the book because I wanted to show other kids that they won’t have to be scared when their dads are deployed to countries that war is going on and scary things,” Davidson said. Seeing the illustration of Dave in the hospital brings back the emotions of what happened. “When you look at it in the book, it just looks so real,” Elizabeth said in between tears.
    As the Green Beret recovered in the hospital, a visitor showed up at Christmas 2013 and promised Dave they would do lunch one day. In 2014, the visitor came through. The family went to Vice President Joe Biden’s house for lunch. A few years later, the father and son decided they wanted to share their story. Dave suggested the idea of a book. He was home between deployments, so he and Davidson sat together after church on Sundays to work on it. Davidson would write and his dad would draw.

    Dave said he is grateful to have his family in his life, especially his wife, who is raising their four children. “I can’t express how proud I am of my whole family, and how immeasurably blessed I am to have each of them in my life,” Dave said. “I am so proud of Davidson for writing this book.”

    The book opens with a G.K. Chesterton quote: “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

  • 04 N1212P66024COnce a year, like the Kraken, a horrible creature arises from the depths of the sea to terrorize those of pure in heart and gastric system. Naturally, I speak of the unspeakable — the fruitcake. Before delving into the origins and misuses of the fruitcake, let us look at its milder cousin — the Kraken. The Kraken was a giant sea monster that lived off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. It looked like a giant squid or octopus. Technically, scientists considered the Kraken to be a member of the cephalopod family. The cephalopod family was apparently even creepier and ookier, mysterious and spookier than the Addams family. The Kraken would lie on the bottom of the ocean until it saw wooden sailing ships float overhead. Then, rising like a Phoenix out of Arizona, the Kraken would suddenly break through the surface of the ocean. It would wrap its tentacles around the ship, pulling it down into Davy Jones’ locker. The hapless sailors would then be eaten at leisure by the Kraken, like so many apples bobbing in a barrel at an Amish barn dance.

    Our old poetry-writing pal Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a poem about the Kraken back in the 19th century. Here is your cultural corner from the day, quoting Lord Al: “Below the thunders of the upper deep/ Far, far beneath the abysmal sea/ His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep/ The Kraken sleepeth/... Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green/ There hath he lain for ages, and will lie/ Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep/”
    As we all know, it is best to let sleeping dogs and babies lie. The same advice goes from Krakens. If you see a sleeping Kraken, don’t wake him up. If you see a fruitcake, don’t wake it up either.

    By now, if you are still reading this stain on world literature, you are probably asking yourself, “Self, why are Krakens better than fruitcakes?” Well, here is the answer. Krakens surface rarely, fruitcakes show up unbidden at least once a year during the Yuletide shopping season. Personally, I would rather be eaten by a Kraken than have to eat a piece of fruitcake. A fruitcake is the only thing that will survive a nuclear attack other than Twinkies and cockroaches. The fruitcake contains unidentifiable ingredients, which are held together by a concrete-like cake structure that is denser than a black hole. Nothing escapes from a fruitcake. Once those tiny little green flakes of some hideous fruit are captured in a fruitcake, they can never escape. Fruitcakes make excellent door stops. Some paleontologists suggest that the pyramids may have been built out of fruitcakes, allowing them to exist for millennia. Fruitcakes are indestructible. They are just as good the day they are extruded from the fruitcake trough at the factory as they will be 10,000 years from now.

    And every year around Christmas, fruitcakes rear their ugly heads. You never see a fruitcake in July. Like the Kraken, fruitcakes lie somewhere on the bottom of the ocean, or in some dusty factory in New Jersey, biding their time, waiting for Christmas. A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless — Bill Drewry — recently threatened to give me a fruitcake this Christmas. He actually tried to hand me a fruitcake. The horror. The horror. This “gift” was without a trigger warning and sent me into a state of fruitcake toxic shock syndrome, thereby generating this column. The only good things about fruitcakes is that I don’t have to eat them.

    However, seeing them does tend to set off a series of Christmas memories. My mother loved fruitcakes. We had them every Christmas. They could last until Halloween with no change in their complexion or texture. They would lurk at the back of the refrigerator, daring to be eaten. I would rather eat a giant sea worm than a fruitcake.

    As children during the Christmas season, we would always drive up to Washington, D.C., to see my grandparents. This was before the miracle of I-95. It was a 10-hour trip from Fayetteville to D.C. on Highway 301, which was replete with little towns and stop lights. Ten hours in a car at age 8 is a trip from here to eternity. A highlight of the trip was stopping at Stuckey’s, which was a roadside attraction filled with many wonders. Chicken thermometers, Santa figurines, funny postcards, toy guns in real leather holsters. All the good stuff an 8-year-old boy loves. We would buy orange juice and visit the head.

    If you were really lucky, you might be able to get your parents to buy you a valuable trinket. On one trip, I was able to score a Famous Drinking Bird through massive wheedling. The Famous Drinking Bird had a red head and big red boots and wore a black top hat. The Bird was filled with a mysterious red liquid, which may have been Kraken blood. Through a miracle of physics, if you put the bird next to a glass of water and dipped its beak into the water, the bird would bob up and down for infinity, or at least until the water evaporated. It was bigly wonderful. I took good care of the drinking bird. I brought it with me to college many years later, where it dazzled and amazed countless roommates.
    Gentle readers, I trust you will have a great fruitcake-free Christmas. No fruitcakes were harmed during the writing of this column. To quote Tiny Tim: “Merry Christmas, and God bless us everyone.”
  • 02 Pub PenI believe Fayetteville is a wonderful place to live, serve, work, raise a family, educate children, grow a business and enjoy the golden years.

    I have traveled the world and lived in many places, large and small. Fayetteville is special. Our amazing arts, business and banking, churches, downtown, education, families, geography, homes  (are wonderful)... but the people, they make Fayetteville special. I challenge those with repeated negative thoughts to take the time to share what is great about the place we call home.

    Fayetteville and Fort Bragg are primed to experience a historic revival led by Generation Z and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We are primed to realize the tremendous competencies from Fort Bragg, which will fuel our future. We are on the eve of breakthroughs in economic, community and quality-of-life advancement grounded in cyber, drones, robotics, artificial intelligence, data and the careers of the future. The future is here.

    We should spend less time on the last 150 years and the history it produced and more on the next 50 years and the value and quality of life it will birth. Populations are changing and citizens are moving. We are in the perfect location to benefit from this change.

    The future is very bright, and it is about people first. When we make people first and operate with integrity and fairness, then we will realize our best future. The future is bright, and that is where we are wise to place our focus. People first, our best future.

     Rodney Anderson, soldier for life and proud parent of three young adult children — Lindsay, Danielle and Rodney Jr.

    I covet my editorial space in our community newspaper and I’m reluctant to yield it to others unless their message is of vital importance to the residents of Fayetteville, and Cumberland County retired Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson has such a message with his response to my editorial last week, “People Over Politics.” For the most part the general and I agree on the virtues of this community and the opportunities afforded here. Actually, we agree on almost every point. However, his experience, training and intellect being what they are, he introduces two concepts that I doubt many people in our community are familiar with — the first being Generation Z and the second and, most important, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Granted, together these two phenomena are the reality of the nation’s future. So, if you have never heard these terms then I suggest you Google them right away.

    In addition, Anderson puts tremendous value on the virtues of integrity and fairness. This is what “people first” is all about. The reality is that intelligent, focused and visionary leadership puts people first. It is this type of leadership that is needed to attract young talent to our community and keep them here to capitalize on the changing nature of our world and community. He is right. The question now is do we have the leadership and resources to attract and retain such talent to grow our population here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County? Well, as Margaret Dickson points out in her article “Growing Pains,” probably not. In eight years, 2010-2018, Cumberland County’s population grew a measly 1.4% lagging embarrassingly far behind smaller counties like Harnett (+15%), Hoke (+13%) and Moore (+12%). So, while Anderson provides us valid and intellectual insights into the future, in reality, it is history that becomes the looking glass into our future. In this particular case of 1.4% growth in eight years, a study of our past would reveal what we have done or, not done, that resulted in these dismal numbers. It’s the difference between “talking the talk” and “walking the walk.” The proof of success, or failure, is always in the net result. Knowing what to do and understanding what to do are useless if the leadership is not there.

    People first! We always enjoy hearing from our readers. I want to personally thank Anderson for his letter and his valuable insights. Now, let’s see where this will lead us. Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

      — Publisher Bill Bowman

  • 17 chop deaverWhen Terry Sanford freshman Christian “Chop” Deaver got an English assignment to write a poem about a topic he was passionate about, he didn’t have to think about his subject.

    It was going to be football, as he tried to put into the words the message he’d been hearing all year long from head coach Bruce McClelland. His resulting work impressed both his English teacher, Ryann McKay, and McClelland.
    “His passion for it really came out in the poem,’’ McKay said. “You could tell that he liked football and is proud to be on the team in his other writings.

    “But the way he truly sees it as a brotherhood and a gift from God, all that kind of stuff, really came through in the poem itself.’’

    McClelland was also impressed. “In all my years of coaching, I’ve never had a kid, especially a first-year kid, get exactly what I’m trying to say,’’ McClelland said. “Everything he said in the poem was like I was talking to him.’’
    Deaver, who got his nickname "Chop" when he was around five because people told him he was thick like a porkchop, doesn’t consider himself a poet at heart.

    “I care about my team and family,’’ Deaver said. “Coach Mac has stressed brotherhood a lot this season. I took that and went with it.’’

    More Than A Game by Chop Deaver

    It is more than a game
    We come out here and we play this great game that God has blessed us with
    But I don’t think we really understand how lucky we are
    It is more than a game
    We have an opportunity to do something great that others don’t have
    There are many other teams out there sitting on their butts at home
    But we don’t seem to notice them
    You know why?
    Because no one notices people who don’t win
    We are winners
    It’s more than a game
    Everyone is dreaming in their sleep about wanting to be a bulldog
    Being a bulldog is something special
    We have some of the best talent in the county, no, we have some of the best talent in the state
    And we take it for granted
    Terry Sanford has been blessed with a tradition of winning
    It’s more than a game
    People have worked their tail off in the past to allow us to be great
    All these coaches come out here and leave their families at home to help you
    Because we love you like you are our own kid
    It is more than a game
    This is a brotherhood that not many people are allowed to say they are a part of
    It should mean something to you
    I’m going to give you my all
    And all I want in return is yours
    Because if not
    We are going to join the couch club
    And be dreaming of other teams in our sleep
    It is more than a game
    I can’t stress how much I want this for you guys
    Play for someone this Friday
    Play for these seniors who have grinder for four years
    Play for your parents who sacrifice a lot for you
    Play for your brothers sitting next to you
    Cause we are all one big family
    And this is football
    It is more than a game
  • 10 01 Holiday Lights Thomas KeeverAh, the holidays. Music. Performances. Shopping. And lights. The cheerful, glowing, twinkling lights. If you haven’t been yet, bring your favorite people and head to Cape Fear Botanical Garden’s  9th annual “Holiday Lights in the Garden” Dec. 19 – 23 from 5:30-9 p.m. It celebrates this special time of year and showcases the splendor and magic of the winter season in one of the area’s most sublime settings.

    “Holiday Lights is a walking tour of Cape Fear Botanical Garden at nighttime,” said Lia Hasapis, marketing coordinator of Cape Fear Botanical Garden. “We light up the garden with lights, other gigantic lights, twinkling lights and it showcases beauty in the winter.”

    Hasapis added that this year, they decided to bring the focus of the experience back to what they are —  which is a Botanical Garden. There are natured themed displays throughout the garden to enhance the light displays.

    While lights are a big part of the event, there is so much more that makes it a special place to visit this time of year. “The event will feature caroling hayrides, live performances each night, pictures with Santa, s’mores and much more,” said Hasapis. “The live performances will take place each night, and it will feature community members from churches, schools and up-and-coming artists from Fayetteville,” said Hasapis. “There will be a holiday market that will have vendors that will sell holiday crafted items. … We have consignment items in our garden gift shop 10 02 Holiday Lights FB bonfirefrom holiday crafts and necessities that everybody will need this holiday season.”

    Hasapis added there will be several food trucks, s’mores, apple cider and hot chocolate available for purchase. “The hay riders will ride through a special path that is only for the hay riders that is through the garden and it is roped off,” said Hasapis. “They will see different kinds of lights, other parts of the garden. And at the end of the hayride, there is an animated story that has gigantic lights that form characters from the story as well.

    “The event is going to be a lot of fun, and you just need to come and glow with us this holiday season,” said Hasapis.

    Admission cost is $12 for nonmembers and members will get preferred pricing every other night at $8. A family picture with Santa is $10. For more information call 910-486-0221.

  • 11 N1609P39007CSince 1993, The CARE Clinic has been serving the residents of Cumberland County and the surrounding areas. Providing free quality health care to low-income adults is the mission of the clinic. To run the clinic with the excellence they desire to provide to their patients, the clinic and staff rely on generous donors, grants and fundraising events. One such fundraising event is an annual event known as an Evening of CARE Dinner. It’s as much a social tradition as it is a fundraiser, bringing together participants from all walks of life for an evening of fun to support an important institution. The next Evening of CARE takes place Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. Tickets and slots to host sell out fast.

    Those who offer to host an Evening of CARE Dinner, provide a memorable evening for their guests where the meal is either provided by the clinic, prepared by the host or prepared by and/or served at a restaurant of their choice. The hosts can be creative by providing hors d’oeuvres and beverages and have a small group of a few people, or they can host a much larger group. It depends on how many people the host decides to accommodate. There can also be co-hosted dinners to allow more people to join in. Or, if you’re new to town or you’d like to provide a home to those who are new to town, that’s an option as well.

    If the host decides to have the meal provided by the clinic, there are two types of dinner menus to choose from, either chicken or lasagna. No matter what the hosts choose to do, the entire evening is about raising funds for the CARE Clinic. If you’re unable to host but would like to be a sponsor, that’s an option as well.

    One of the perks of hosting, is the freedom to get creative with the tone of the event. If a fire pit suits you and your guests — do it. Want to hire a magician to entertain your guest? Perfect. Want to bring in a local musician to set a lively mood? Yes, please. Hosts are encouraged to customize the experience as they see fit.

    If you’re interested in having a fun and adventurous evening while raising money for an organization that is vital to our community, visit www.thecareclinic.org to find the Host Response Form. For more information, contact Angie at development@thecareclinic.org or call 910-485-0555. Once you’ve reached out to be a part of the Evening of CARE Dinner, a packet will be sent, which will assist you in organizing your evening. The cost to host or co-host an event is $50, and a ticket to attend is $75.

  • 07 Fraser Fir farmCertain Christmas tree species last longer and remain fresh much longer than others. Among the best is the North Carolina Fraser fir. North Carolina has an estimated 50 million Fraser fir Christmas trees growing on more than 25,000 acres. The Fraser fir is grown by 1,600 growers in the higher elevations of the Western North Carolina counties of Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey. North Carolina produces nearly 20% of the real Christmas trees in the U.S., ranking second in the nation in the number of trees harvested.

    The North Carolina Fraser fir has been judged the nation’s best through a contest sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association and chosen for the official White House Christmas tree many times. The Fraser fir is the most popular Christmas tree in North America and is shipped to every state in the U.S. and all over the world. Fraser firs have soft needles, incomparable needle retention, long-lasting aroma and more pliable yet stronger branches for even the heaviest ornaments.

    Festive celebrations, flickering lights and winter greens are hallmarks of the holiday season. They also present fire risks that can quickly turn this festive time of year into a devastating one. The National Fire Protection Association works to educate the public about potential fire risks during the holidays. Most Christmas tree fires can be prevented. Fresh trees need water. A six-foot tree needs about 1 gallon of water every other day.

    Between 2013-2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 house fires that started with Christmas trees per year. On average, one of every 52 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, comp