• 14COSJason Britt has been a part of Cumberland County’s music community since he played cello in the strings program at Eastover Elementary School. These days, he serves as director of the Cumberland Oratorio Singers. Britt and the members of COS are currently preparing for the final show of their season, “We Sing to Experience,” set for Friday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.

    With “We Sing to Experience,” Britt, who has a bachelor’s degree in music from Methodist College (now Methodist University) and a master’s degree in music education from East Carolina University, will wrap up his first year as director of the COS. He was notified in March 2017 that he would be serving as the new director, and to hear him talk about his time with COS is to recognize how much he loves working with the ensemble. 

    “My favorite aspect of working with COS is that I get to work with people who – down to their core – really enjoy music and have a deep interest for singing in a choir,” he said. “I love working with like-minded people who want to strive toward a common goal.”

    The upcoming “We Sing to Experience” will feature performances from the COS, the Cross Creek Chorale, and the Campbellton Youth Chorus. According to Britt, the concert is “comprised of works all choirs should do or have in their libraries. These would be works that are a sort of ‘who’s who’ of choir music.”

    The program will feature arrangements of “Sing unto God” by G.F. Handel, “Sicut Locutus Est” by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Achieved is the Glorious Work” by Joseph Haydn and many other classic and familiar choral selections.

    Britt is also excited to announce the theme of the Oratorio Singers’ next season – “The Night Was Meant for Music.” The 2018-19 season will include “A Night of Jazz” on October 19; “A Night with the Masters” on March 8, 2019; and “A Night of Stage and Screen” on April 27, 2019.

    The 2018-19 season will also see the return of the Fayetteville tradition – a December performance of Handel’s oratorio, “Messiah,” with full orchestra. Between Cole Porter and arrangements of popular Broadway works, the COS’ upcoming season promises to be a crowd-pleaser.

    “We Sing to Experience” is scheduled for Friday, April 27, at Haymount United Methodist, 1700 Fort Bragg Rd. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $27. All student admission is free with school ID. The COS also offers discounts for groups of 10 or more.

    For more information, email Jason Britt at cumberlandoratoriodirector@gmail.com or Matthew Franks, the president of COS, at cumberlandoratoriosingers@gmail.com. For more information about the COS, visit www.singwithcos.org. Individuals or businesses interested in any of the COS’ many sponsorship levels can contact Mary Potter via phone at 910-822-4447 or by email at claymary25@gmail.com. 

  • 12Golf course photoI currently serve as senior class president at South View High School as well as chairman of the Hope Mills Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee. I was invited to join the Youth Leadership Committee along with students from South View, Jack Britt and Gray’s Creek. 

    One of the first tasks we were given to explore was what should replace the old Hope Mills Golf Course on Golfview Road. As a committee, we unanimously agreed that one thing Hope Mills needs is a sportsplex.

    The funding for the land has been offered by multiple organizations. We decided that with a joint effort, the most suitable things to put on the old golf course land are recreational facilities such as transitional fields, a disc golf course, a 9-hole golf course and a sportsplex.

    The sportsplex would house things like a recreational gym, an indoor track and, ultimately, an Olympic-sized pool. The Olympic pool would be the keystone to the facility.

    The decision to build a sportsplex comes as recreational sports in Hope Mills have begun to oversaturate the currently allocated space. Not only will this new addition improve sports facilities, it will also allow for growth in local sports and regional development.

    The complex would provide the entire Cape Fear region with additional athletic opportunities, especially in the area of swimming. A quick Google search reveals that a Hope Mills resident currently has to travel as far as the Triangle or southeast to Wilmington to find accessible public indoor swimming facilities.

    An indoor swimming complex would be a boost to competitive swimming locally, which is a growing sport for Cumberland County and other Cape Fear region high schools.

    Students who compete in swimming for Jack Britt, South View or Gray’s Creek have to travel across town to Fayetteville State University for practice at around 5 a.m. This travel creates an extra challenge in both practice and competition for students at the county’s high schools. 

    To help contribute to local sports and increase participation in competitive swimming, we decided that an Olympic pool would best be included in the sportsplex. If students who were interested in swimming only had to travel to a complex at the old golf course – which is between Jack Britt and South View – the sport of swimming would have an even better chance to grow, while also giving the high school swimmers more regular access to a practice facility.

    Creating a sportsplex not only gives a better opportunity for those who don’t have the means of traveling to Fayetteville State, but it also helps those who live close to where the current golf course is located to become more active and involved within the community.

  • 11Erskine Bowles in 2010Where is Erskine Bowles when we most need him?

    Bowles is best known to North Carolinians as president of the UNC System from 2005 to 2010. Before then he was a successful business leader in Charlotte, a key staff member in the President Bill Clinton’s administration, and two times the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate.

    In 2010, he and former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson co-chaired the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan budget-reform effort that proposed a plan to reduce the country’s deficits by $4 trillion over a decade.

    Bowles had gained credibility in deficit reduction circles as a leader in Clinton’s negotiations with Congress that led to an agreed plan to bring the budget deficit down to zero through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts.

    That arrangement went up in smoke after 2001 with the tax cuts pushed by President George W. Bush and the added cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Still, Bowles had developed a “can-do” reputation for budget balancing. He and Simpson tackled their challenge in 2010 with some optimism and hope for support from Obama and Congress.

    Their plan provided for more than $1 trillion in cuts for military spending, $2.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years (much of it on wealthy Americans who were to pay ordinary income rates on capital gains as well as dividends), reducing and limiting charitable deductions and mortgage interest, increasing both Social Security retirement age, and adding to the maximum amount of income that could be subject to social security tax

    The plan would have reduced deficits over 10 years by $4 trillion.

    The problem, as one commentator observed, was that “everybody found something to hate.”

    Bowles and Simpson conceded that to get a workable deal, everybody would have to give up something. But not enough people were willing to make the necessary sacrifices. The plan failed

    But Bowles still thinks it is critical to bring the deficit under control. In 2015 he told The Charlotte Observer, “I’m really concerned that if we don’t get our elected politicians on the right and the left to put some of this ultra-partisanship aside and pull together rather than apart, then not only will we face what is clearly the most predictable economic crisis in history but also my generation will be the first generation of Americans to leave the country worse off than we found it. It’s my generation of Republicans and Democrats that created this fiscal mess and clearly has a responsibility to clean it up.”

    U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan built his political career on his stated goal of eliminating the budget deficit. Last week, when Ryan announced he is retiring from Congress, he asserted that he had achieved his major goals. He did not mention any success in reducing the budget deficit.

    He did brag about passage of the new tax bill. Ironically, that bill and the new spending plan Congress passed are 180 degrees away from the plans Bowles and Simpson proposed. Instead of tax increases for the wealthy, the tax bill decreased them. Instead of cutting military spending, the spending plan provides substantial increases.

    As a result, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit this year will be $804 billion, $242 billion larger than projected earlier. And during the next 10 years the projected deficit will be $11.7 trillion, an increase of $1.6 trillion over projections made before the passage of the tax bill and spending plan.

    To paraphrase the saying attributed to Everett Dirksen, the late Illinois senator, “A trillion here and a trillion there, Paul Ryan, and soon you are talking about a lot of money. It is money that simply will not be there to maintain a sound government for Ryan’s and my grandchildren.

    Where are you, Erskine Bowles, when we need you again?

    Photo: Erskine Bowles

  • 10DogwoodlogoEvery spring for the past three-anda-half decades, the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival has brought the community together to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness that make this community so special. This year, the festival won four awards from the North Carolina Association of Festivals and Events and was named the 2018 event of the year in the Southeast by the Southeast Festivals and Events Association. Carrie King, Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Executive Director said of the award, “We are beyond thrilled to bring home this prestigious award for our community. The spirit of the Fayetteville community made the Dogwood Festival a natural choice for the award. We could not do what we do without the continued support of our sponsors, volunteers and patrons.”

    This year’s event embodies the many reasons the festival is a winner both regionally and statewide. Along with the beloved favorites, there are some new events and programming changes this year, including a new event to kick things off. It’s called Cork & Fork and it takes place Wednesday, April 25, from 6-9 p.m. at Festival Park. 

    Cork & Fork is an evening of chef-inspired gourmet creations paired with elegant complimentary wines. It is a fundraiser for KidsPeace. Tickets are $40 each and are available online at www.faydogwoodfestival.com.

    Additionally, the Dogwood Festival is taking its traditional three-day format and expanding it to a four-day weekend, with the official festivities kicking off Thursday and continuing through the weekend to include extended hours Sunday. 

    The festival hours are: Thursday, April 26, from 5-10 p.m.; Friday, April 27, from 5-11 p.m.; Saturday, April 28, from noon-11 p.m.; and Sunday, April 29, from noon-9 p.m.

    The Thursday addition to the Dogwood Festival will feature a band and food vendors exclusively. The Sherman Neckties open Thursday at 6 p.m. on the Compare Foods Stage. From 8-9:45 p.m., Jackyl will perform. 

    No festival is complete without the midway carnival, which will run Friday through Sunday. Other events will run throughout the weekend as well, including the BMX Shows, Airborne Aerials and street performances, the activity zone, and the street fair. 

    Boom and Bloom and the opening ceremony kick-off party take place Friday, April 27. The E.E Smith Marching Band opens the festivities at 5:30 p.m. in Festival Park. The evening concludes with a fireworks display between 10 and 11 p.m.

    The festival’s music stages are filled with quality performers all weekend, covering several genres and including local as well as regionally and nationally recognized acts. 

    Live Music

    Compare Foods Stage

    Compare Foods Stage is located in Festival Park and features a variety of crowd-pleasing performances, from hip-hop to country to cover bands.

    • Friday, April 27

    5:30 p.m. Opening ceremony

    6 p.m. Soul Decree

    8 p.m. Young MC

    9 p.m. Coolio

    10 p.m. Rob Base

    Saturday, April 28

    1 p.m. Avner Clark

    3 p.m. Big Slim

    5 p.m. Will McBride Group

    7 p.m. Chris Cox Band

    9 p.m.-10:45 p.m. Rodney Atkins

    Sunday, April 29

    1 p.m. Matrix

    2:30 p.m. Cool Heat

    4:30 p.m. Rivermist

    7-8:45 p.m. Zoso – The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience

    With Zoso – The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience closing the festival, it’s fitting that the band brings home one of Fayetteville’s own – Bevan Davies. He’s toured with a variety of musicians, including Danzig and Engelbert Humperdinck. But when he got the call be the drummer for Zoso, it was a nobrainer. “These guys are amazing,” said Davies.

    While his career keeps him from getting back to Fayetteville often, he is thrilled to be playing his home turf. “I love coming back. I never hated on Fayetteville the way a lot of people did. In fact, wherever I’ve played, I’ve always been very proudly from Fayetteville.”

    Cape Fear Music Center’s Street Fair Stage

    Cape Fear Music Center strives to develop the arts scene in downtown Fayetteville by programming the Street Fair Stage. Acts include local musicians and musical organizations, as well as budding CFMC students. Visitors will find exclusively local acts on the Cape Fear Music stage, which is located on Green Street.

    Saturday, April 28

    12 p.m. Big Daddy Drive

    1:30 p.m. UNC-Pembroke Jazz Ensemble II

    2:30 p.m. The Mother Notes

    4 p.m. Reckless Abandon

    5:30 p.m. Affinity

    7 p.m. Black River Township

    Sunday, April 29

    12 p.m. 9th Annual CFMC I-Rock Student Showcase

    4:30 p.m. Chemical Lizards

    Sanctioned Events

    “Sense & Sensibility” at Cape Fear Regional Theatre

    Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s “Sense & Sensibility” is based on Kate Hamill’s fresh adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic 18th-century novel. Follow the misadventures of the three Dashwood sisters in their quests for love and dignity in a show that, according to CFRT Marketing Director Leslie Flom, blends “traditional Austen and an ’80s John Hughes film.”

    “Jane Eyre” runs at CFRT, 1209 Hay St., April 25-29. Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. April 25-28 and at 6:30 p.m. April 29. There is also a 2 p.m. showing April 28 and 29.

    Tickets cost $15-$25 and can be purchased by calling 910-323-4233 or by visiting www.cfrt.org/ project/sense-and-sensibility.

    “Jane Eyre” presented by Sweet Tea Shakespeare 

    Sweet Tea Shakespeare is an unconventional performance group that focuses on the audience’s holistic experience. April 26-29, arrive at the 1897 Poe House at the Museum of the Cape Fear at 206 Broadford Ave. at 6:45 p.m. for live music before the show. Barbecue, beer, wine and sweet tea will also be available for purchase. 

    “Jane Eyre” is a lush, gothic, intriguing romance based on Charlotte Brontë’s 19th-century novel. The show will also run May 3-6. 

    Tickets cost $8-$20; discounts are available for those who purchase in advance, along with students, senior citizens, military members and children. To reserve your seats, visit sweetteashakespeare.com or call 910-420-4383.

    Capitol Encore Academy Exhibition

    The Capital Encore Academy, located at 126 Hay St. in downtown Fayetteville, is a free, nonprofit, public charter school offering integrated arts and core academic learning.

    Come check it out during the festival; the academy will be open that Friday from 6-10 p.m., Saturday from noon-10 p.m., and Sunday from noon-6 p.m. There will be art stations for kids to create their own art and performances by the academy’s students. For more information, contact Trish Brownless at tbrownless@capitolencoreacademy.org or call 910-849-0888 ext. 115.

    Fayetteville-Cumberland Crimestoppers Barbecue

    Fayetteville-Cumberland Crimestoppers will be set up in the Harris Teeter parking lot in Highland Centre off Raeford Road serving tasty Southern pork barbecue plates for $8 each. The money is used to offer rewards to anyone wishing to report anonymous information regarding any crime. 

    Crimestoppers works with the police departments of Fayetteville, Spring Lake and Hope Mills, and the Cumberland County Office of the Sheriff. Since its inception, it has played a part in more than 4,000 arrests and 5,300 felony charges. It has helped recover more than $4,875,000 in property and $1,893,000 in narcotics. Crimestoppers has issued more than $316,000 in rewards and helped solve 2,477 cases, 67 of which were homicides.

    Call 910-483-8477 to report any information regarding a crime and remain anonymous.

    The barbecue runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, April 27. Call 910-624-6922 with any questions.

    Partnership for Children’s KidStuff

    KidStuff is an annual favorite at the Dogwood Festival and will be set up on Person Street this year. It is a free area for infants, toddlers and preschoolers that features: PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great Mobile Learning Adventure; Kids in Sports obstacle course; buybuy Baby nursing and changing stations; characters to meet and greet; hands-on activities; art projects; age-appropriate activities for toddlers; information about local resources; and applications for the North Carolina Pre-K Program.

    KidStuff will be open to the public Saturday, April 28, from noon-6 p.m. and Sunday, April 29, from 1-6 p.m.

    Hogs & Rags Spring Rally 

    Calling all bikers and vehicle enthusiasts: Saturday, April 28, registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum for Fayetteville’s premier car and motorcycle rally. Kickstands up at 9 a.m. sharp, then riders will be off on a breezy, police-escorted journey with a stop and Rocking A Ranch for breakfast. The ride concludes at Wild Wings Cafe in North Myrtle Beach. There will be a 50/50 raffle, gun raffles and door prizes.

    You can also party it up at the famous Hogs & Rags pre-registration party at Mac’s Speed Shop on Friday, April 27, from 6:30-9 p.m. Visit the website at www.hogsandrags.org to learn more about this 13-years-and-running event.

    As much as the Dogwood Festival is about entertaining the community and bringing us together, the organization also gives back by supporting other local nonprofits. At the 2017 spring event, the Dogwood Festival donated a portion of its proceeds to Vision Resource Center, E.E. Smith High School Marching Band, and local active duty service organizations JSOC Top 3, Air Force Top 3 and Pope Special Activities Committee. The Dogwood Festival donated over $132,000 in 12 years and $13,860 in 2017 to nonprofit partners.

  • 02pub pen dogwoodThis is a week full of excitement. And, no, I’m not talking about the city council’s action of initiating a petition of amotion for the removal of disgraced District 2 councilman Tyrone Williams. We’ll have plenty to say about that guy and his cronies in the weeks to come. 

    I’m referring to the sights and sounds of spring filling the air. This time of year, fragile pink and white azaleas frame out thousands of pink and white dogwood trees that adorn the city – each dogwood blossom beautiful yet desperately hanging on to officially welcome the 37th Annual Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.

    This annual celebration brings the city together to enjoy beautiful weather along with a variety of activities. The music stages will host several genres of musicians throughout the event. There will be a midway, complete with games and rides. There will be fireworks, aerial yoga performances, a car show and so much more. 

    As a bonus, this year’s festival has been extended to four days. In this special Fayetteville Dogwood Festival edition of Up & Coming Weekly, you will find everything you need to know about having fun and enjoying this community tradition in historic downtown Fayetteville.

    While most of the festivities will be in and around Festival Park, Friday night brings an added dimension of enjoyment when 4th Friday makes Hay Street come alive with art, artists and delicious food served streetside to the melodies of talented local street musicians. 

    The Arts Council’s exhibit is “Impressions: More than Skin Deep.” It hangs through Saturday, May 12. It is a celebration of the creativity of artists who work in the tattoo industry. The Cool Spring Downtown District hosts a variety of initiatives that make 4th Friday fun as well.

    It’s uniquely enjoyable and uniquely Fayetteville. So, come on down! This is your personal invitation to join me and the crew of Up & Coming Weekly at this wonderful, award-winning event. 

    The more adventurous types can join Fayetteville Astros general manager David Lane and his wife, Lindsey, as they lead out the 13th annual Hogs & Rags Motorcycle Rally in support of three local charities. The rally is a police-escorted ride to Myrtle Beach. It includes a stop for breakfast at Rocking A Ranch. The ride concludes in plenty of time for you to get back to Fayetteville and still enjoy the festival. All motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles are invited to take part. For more information and to register, go to www.hogsandrags.org.

    Enjoy the festival, enjoy 4th Friday, and enjoy the rally.

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

     

  • 19Scholar 1 Jayla SpeaksJayla Speaks

    Seventy-First • Softball • Junior

    Speaks maintains a 3.625 grade point average while competing for the Falcon softball team

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    20 Scholar 2 Meghan LeachMeghan Leach

    Jack Britt • Swimming/lacrosse • Junior

    Leach has a 4.9 grade point average while representing Jack Britt in swimming during the winter and lacrosse in the spring.

  • 18 Rodney BrewingtonThe rebound at South View continued last season during Rodney Brewington’s second season as the Tigers’ head football coach. South View topped the .500 mark with a 7-5 record and earned the Mid-South 4-A Conference’s third qualifying berth in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

    But the 2017 Tigers, as well as all of the Cumberland County schools, face new challenges. Realignment puts South View in the new Patriot 4-A/3-A Conference that mixes members of the old Mid-South and the defunct Cape Fear Valley 3-A.

    Overhills, Pine Forest and South View will be the lone 4-A schools in a league that will include Cape Fear, Douglas Byrd, E.E. Smith, Gray’s Creek, Terry Sanford and Westover. Cape Fear and Smith will be newcomers to the 3-A ranks next season.

    “We’ve been stressing to our kids we’ve got to work as hard as any team in the conference,’’ Brewington said. “The standard is high and we want to find our place in it.’’

    Coaches had two choices this year on how to handle the spring workout session. 

    Brewington opted for the one that let him meet with up to 21 players per day and hold practice in April.

    “Doing the 21 players allows us to get new kids that we feel can impact our program hands-on training,’’ he said. “Really it’s just understanding the plays and the formations.’’

    At the end of the workouts, Brewington wants his players to know all their offensive formations, base plays and check-offs. On defense, he wants them to know the base defense and how to react to the different formations they’ll see this season.

    Jaquan Span, who will be a senior linebacker and running back this fall, said the team is focusing on unity this spring, along with staying on top of work in the classroom.

    “I don’t feel there’s a team we can’t beat unless we don’t feel like playing,’’ Span said as he looked to the season ahead. “I want to be able to earn my team’s respect and trust.

    “We’ve got to trust ourselves first. If we trust ourselves, it will be able to work.’’

  • 17 Duran McLaurinAfter one sub-.500 season in his first year back at his alma mater, Duran McLaurin has been the picture of consistency leading the Seventy-First football program.

    Over the last three seasons, his Falcons haven’t finished lower than second place in the Mid-South 4-A Conference and have made it to the second round of the state playoffs two of the last three years.

    But things are about to get real for the Falcons, as they say, as they join Cumberland County rival Jack Britt in moving to the revamped Sandhills Conference with traditional football powers Scotland and Richmond Senior and dramatically improved Pinecrest.

    McLaurin respects the rich tradition of some of the members of the new league, but he is mindful of the fact that Seventy-First has won more football state titles than any other Cumberland County school, three, plus an Eastern 3-A title in the 1970s when no state championship was played for in that classification.

    “Seventy-First has some tradition as well,’’ McLaurin said. “Pinecrest, Scotland and Richmond are all going to be big games for us just like everybody else. I hope our kids do what they do and stay focused.’’

    McLaurin was glad to have the option this spring of working with 21 players per practice, starting in April. “We’re breaking in new receivers and getting a mesh in with some new things on offense,’’ he said. “I couldn’t wait until May. I wanted to get out here and see what it looks like.’’

    McLaurin said he’s missing a few players who are playing spring sports, but the big thing this year is all of his assistant coaches are available for spring practice and not tied up coaching a spring sport. “We’re doing okay with the numbers,’’ he said.

    Despite the tough competition expected in the Sandhills Conference, McLaurin said he still expects to finish in the top echelon of the league. “We can’t worry about what everyone else is doing,’’ he said.

    Reggie Bryant, a wide receiver who will be a senior this fall, agrees with his coach.

    “The guys are a little scared and nervous, but I think we should do good,’’ he said. “I like the competition.’’

    Bryant feels confident because of the return of Falcon quarterback Kyler Davis, who threw for 1,716 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.

    “He led the team well,’’ Bryant said. “If somebody messed up, he picked them up.’’

    Bryant is hopeful that attitude will spread. “We’ve got to be confident in ourselves,’’ he said. “If we can be confident, I think we should do it.’’

  • 16 Original must be betterI cannot decide which element of Ghost in the Shell(107 minutes) was the most problematic. Was it casting Scarlett Johansson as an Asian character? The wooden acting? The insipid dialogue? The retread plot? The ridiculous plot twists? The confusing character motivations? The fact that the script was written by at least six people, all with conflicting ideas about what was supposed to happen? Or that it was probably edited by a Bonobo chimpanzee that had been given a bottle of tequila, hit on the head and locked in a small room with editing software? Somebody call the ASPCA, because I am ready to beat this tired old dog of a movie to death.

    I get the cyberpunk thing. Oppressive governments, big corporations, technological domination — I can’t say I was ever a huge fan of the genre, but I’ve read William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Animatrix was watchable. Heck, I might go put on Johnny Mnemonic after I finish writing this review. The main problem I have with most cyberpunk anime is that it tends to focus on the toys instead of the characters, and Ghost in the Shellwas no exception. I found the whole thing confusing. Maybe because I never saw the anime upon which it was based?

    The movie is stupid, and I doubt the Venn diagram of which groups are into the movie is much more than a huge circle around the phrases “People who like anime” and “People who like Scarlett Johansson,” but, Spoiler Alert: I am about to give away plot points. If you are the automatic outlier who reads my reviews, plans to go see Ghost in the Shell, but has no idea about the plot, you should probably stop reading.

    The plot revolves around the idea that a big corporation with vague ties to a governmental anti-terrorist group called Section 9 would find it cost-effective to kidnap runaways and experiment on them instead of signing up mercenaries, soldiers, police officers, or, holy hot garbage, any of the desperate people without access to quality tech who would gladly sign away their current crappy lives for the chance at becoming an actual, immortal superhero. Are the writers seriously trying to sell the audience on the idea that a corporation would foolishly risk exposure and PR nightmares and lawsuits by kidnapping someone they know nothing about, implanting false memories in their brains, inserting them into an all-powerful cybernetic shell, training them in all kinds of crazy spy skills, giving them a flipping invisibility suit and lending them out to a government security group? Did they not think to check hospitals for terminal patients? Did no one suggest recruiting from those wounded in the line of battle?

    I know, I know. You’re thinking, the movie has no conflict if the corporation was completely chill about getting volunteers. I can write around that problem in about five minutes. Remember an awesome little flick called Source Code? The guy in the box was the only guy who could be in the box because only he could bend space, time and narrative logic — because he had a special brain. Insert a bit of throwaway dialogue into this script about how a specific kind of mind was required to contribute the “ghost” that would animate the “shell,” and my level of disgust is no longer sitting at 11. Otherwise? It’s me, throwing popcorn at the screen, screaming “Be less STUPID, you STUPIDHEAD.”

    Well, at least I got some catharsis through writing this scathing review. I will give credit where credit is due and note that some of the visuals were not completely crappy. Those that are not hardcore ScarJo/anime fans should probably spend their time elsewhere. 

    Now playing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.

  • 15 Stayin SafeSpring is here, and the days are getting longer, which means new rides, new adventures and new dangers. 

    Occasionally, I like to find a class to refresh my mind and shake off any bad habits I may have developed. In the past few years, I have had a couple of incidents that made me think I was a little too close to wiping out. 

    A few weeks ago, I attended MotoMark’s Stayin’ Safe course in Burlington. Mark Brown has been teaching motorcyclist classes for years and is well-known throughout the motorcycle community. He offers many classes, one of which is titled “Stayin’ Safe.” Today, Stayin’ Safe is owned and operated by Eric Trow. Trow is a highly-respected instructor in the motorcycle community. He is an author for Rider magazine and the recipient of the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Outstanding Road Rider Award for his work in motorcycle safety. 

    I was not sure what to expect when I arrived at class. One by one, bikes came pulling up. We were introduced to Mark and Eric. Then in came NASCAR’s Kyle Petty and his wife, Morgan. 

    After some introductions and paperwork, eight of us students headed to our bikes. Each rider (and passenger), was given a radio to hear the instructors. We lined up one by one, and we started doing a series of maneuvers. After a few minutes, we hit the road. 

    We were split into two groups; Mark took one group and Eric the other. In my group was Kyle on a Harley, a rider on a BMW and a rider on a trike. As soon as we twisted the throttle, Mark started mentoring us on safety, stability and sight. He pointed out things like road intersections, cars moving in and out of view and how to read the road. 

    We pulled into a parking lot for a discussion. Mark and Eric used chalk, toy cars and motorcycles to show which part of the lane is best to position yourself in for protection on the road. He also taught us about late entry in a curve and vanishing points. 

    As the day progressed, so did our speed and the curves we took. We switched instructors and took turns leading the group. After a 100 miles or so, we pulled back to MotoMark’s headquarters.  

    At the end of class, Mark asked us what we thought about the day. It was interesting that Kyle Petty, who leads the Kyle Petty Charity Ride across the country, said the class was good for him and he learned a lot. He also mentioned it was good for him to learn that a trike has different dynamics than a two-wheeled motorcycle. 

    The Kyle Petty Charity Ride raises money for the Victory Junction camp here in North Carolina. At Victory Junction, staff members help children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses be able to just be children. 

    As I pulled away, I was happy about two things. I could say that I had Kyle Petty in my rearview mirror, and I was happy about what I had learned. Mark and his staff are truly dedicated professionals who care about the riders and the sport. Since the class, I have felt both smoother and steadier in my riding abilities, which means I feel safer.  If you want to find out more about MotoMark’s classes, check out www.motomark1.com.

    If there is a topic that you would like to discuss, you can contact me at motorcycle4fun@aol.com. RIDE SAFE!

  • 14 Six Step ProgramFayetteville Technical Community College has formed a new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. A partnership with Bunker Labs RDU and EntreDot, the CIE will share space with the FTCC Small Business Center. It will function as an instructional and co-working hub for entrepreneurs participating in CIE and SBC programs. 

    The CIE will provide business startup and growth strategy services to active duty military members in transition, veterans, spouses, students and the general public using EntreDot’s proven Six Steps to Success process. The focus will be on early stage Main Street businesses, bringing business startup process strategies and trade education together. The FTCC CIE classes will combine class meetings, internet instruction and one-on-one mentoring.

    Over 450 entrepreneurs have gone through this program in the Triangle. Clients range from ages 25 to 65, and about 70 percent are women. One entrepreneur remarked that “we could not find a structured program with a strong mentoring component that focused on my kind of business — a Main Street business. If you want to start an accounting firm or a physical therapy practice or a restaurant or make a new consumer product, there is no one who specializes in this space except EntreDot. EntreDot cares if you are starting a dry cleaner or a trucking company. Most other incubators don’t want to waste their time on these kinds of companies even though they create 65 percent of the new jobs in the country each year.”

    Entrepreneurs always have ideas in their heads. Step one, Ideation, creates the opportunity to analyze which idea should be worked on first and which should be placed on the shelf for now. Six Steps to Success is a lean innovation process, designed to save time and money by asking the right questions at the right time and providing connections to the right resources to fill in the gaps. This process cuts the time needed to get to commercialization in half.

    For some clients, they may have been in business for two to five years, but the business is more of a hobby than a serious enterprise. This situation is often a result of the client having a good day job or family obligations and not having time to work on the business full-time. Changes may occur, causing the client to find themselves in a position to want the business to be the primary activity and source of income. 

    When this occurs, clients need a “reboot,” and Six Steps to Success is the perfect process to do that. For many clients, the program helped them focus on the right market segments, evaluate earnings potential and build a business with an exit value. Even clients with a mature business should begin with Step One Ideation to review what has been learned and evaluate what needs to be adjusted to be successful.

    The FTCC CIE ribbon-cutting was held April 6 at the General Classroom Building at FTCC’s Fayetteville campus. The first 10-week Six Steps to Success class began April 10. Registration is through Corporate & Continuing Education at www.faytechcc.edu. For more information, call (919) 522-0722, or email innovationcenter@faytechcc.edu.

  • 13 AcrobatActive Artist Area 

     On April 29 and 30 there will be an area on Person Street totally dedicated to live demonstrations by local artists. It is called the Active Artist Area and will be manned from noon until 6 p.m. Artists will demonstrate skills like throwing pottery, raku, blowing glass and acrobatics. Raku is a traditional Japanese method of glazing pottery. It usually involves coating pottery in lead-based glazes and then baking the product in a kiln. However, many modern potters have
    altered the process. 

     One featured artist who will be demonstrating is Greg Hathaway. Hathaway is a well-known local artist and owns a business downtown called Gregs! The shop, located at 122 Maxwell St., is a fun place to purchase fine art, pottery and gifts. Much of the work sold in the shop is Hathaway’s work. He is a talented artist and is particularly well-known for his watercolors and pottery. He will be demonstrating his incredible skills for anyone and everyone interested in learning. 

     Another featured group of artists is Air Born Aerial Arts. The group is a circus-style performance troupe based in Fayetteville. The troupe trains in a variety of genres, but each one requires an amazing amount of strength, skill and balance from all of the artists. They train with aerial silks, which are long strands of fabric that hang from the ceiling that artists manipulate. They also train with hammocks that are continuous loops of fabric. The static trapeze is a bar suspended from the ceiling by two ropes, and the Lyra is a hoop suspended from the ceiling. Each of these genres requires a unique set of skills and facilitates different styles of performing. The artists will show their hard-earned skills with unique and daring demonstrations. 

    Every artist at the Dogwood Festival has put countless hours into developing his or her skills. The result of most art is visually striking, but the process can be just as beautiful. The Active Artist Area on Person Street gives the community the opportunity to take a peek into the artists’ workshops. Watching and learning about all the time and work that goes into creating a beautiful bowl or perfecting a flip makes the final product all the more valuable. The Dogwood Festival is about appreciating what the community has to offer and Fayetteville has incredible artists. 

    Anchored Attraction Area 

    The Anchored Attraction Area is an exciting addition to the Dogwood Festival. It is a new performance area on Gillespie Street near the Market House. It will feature three different family-friendly shows. These three shows are interactive. This area will only be open on April 29 from 12 p.m. until 7 p.m. Each show is an hour long and will be performed twice on April 29. 

    The first show is Juggling and Bubbling Fun, with the first showing from 1-2 p.m. and the second showing 4-5 p.m. This show features Steve Langly, who is affectionately known as the “Bubble Guy.” He is a professional entertainer, juggler and bubbleologist. He has been on the Tonight Show and Comedy Central and is the proud holder of many Guinness World Records. Langly uses his incredible juggling and bubble-making skills to engage families with comedy and fun. His shows are full of mind-blowing tricks that
    are not only fun, but also educational. 

    Shadow Players Combat Pirate Show takes the stage first from 3-4 p.m. and then 6-7 p.m. This stage combat group brings pirates back to life. The light-hearted show takes audience members into the past and a world of swordplay, whip work, comedy and pirate song. Since the pirates are trained in stage combat, their brave and daring antics are actually quite safe. They use their talents to make the audience members’ experience on the high seas a family-friendly and hilarious adventure. It’s a great opportunity to learn about The Golden Age of Pirates.

    The Rock ‘N’ Rope Warrior will take place from 3-4 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. The performance features David Fisher, who has made appearances on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America and America’s Got Talent

    On these shows Fisher demonstrates his intense and interactive jump rope show. He has been performing this show all over the world for 23 years. Jump rope may not sound that exciting at first, but Fisher holds three world records for it. He is even recognized by Ripley’s Believe It or Not as The World’s Best Rope Jumper. 

    LaFayette Ford Lincoln Car Show 

    April 30 at 4 p.m. the roads of Downtown Fayetteville will be overrun with unique vintage vehicles for the Lafayette Ford Lincoln Car Show. Anyone with antique cars and trucks, custom vehicles, sports cars, imported cars and hot rods is encouraged to come and share their beautiful vehicles with the community. The only requirement is that all entries must be registered and titled 1996 or earlier. The first 75 entries will receive commemorative dash plaques.

     Beginning at 12 p.m., experts will judge each car to decide on the winners for 38 awards. Trophies will go to best in show, sponsor’s choice; mayor’s choice; chairman’s choice; judge’s best import; judge’s best truck; judge’s best convertible; judge’s most unusual; people’s choice top ten; and judge’s top 20. It’s a fantastic opportunity for vehicle owners to compete for some trophies, show off their fun cars and share their passion with others
    in the community. 

    You don’t have to own a vehicle to enjoy the car show. This is also an opportunity to chat with the people who own them instead of trying to point them out to friends at a stop light. Everyone is invited to come and see all of the incredible cars and to help the judges decide on the people’s choice top 10 award. This is a family-friendly event and a unique way to appreciate American and international history. 

    The car show takes place from 12-6 p.m., with registration at 10 a.m. All proceeds benefit the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. The entrance for participants is at the intersection of Gillespie Street and Russell Street. There is expected to be a line of cars from the Market House to Franklin Street. Overflow will be from Otis F. Jones Parkway to the parking lot entrance. For more information, visit www.faydogwoodfestival.com or call 323-1934. 

    Fayetteville Duck Derby 

    The Fayetteville Duck Derby takes place in Festival Park on April 30 from 3-4 p.m. Community members are invited to adopt a rubber duck for $10. Each duck will be tagged with a registration number after adoption. Then, over 5,000 ducks will be released into the Cross Creek. 

    As the ducks are put into the creek, the race begins. The first seven ducks and the last duck to cross the finish line will receive prizes. First place wins a deluxe edition camper from Camping World. Second place wins a yearlong shopping spree at Food Lion; third place gets the same at Super Compare Foods. Fourth place brings $500 home in cold, hard cash. Fifth place wins a set of tires from Ed’s Tire & Auto Service, a $500 value. Sixth place gets a large flat-screen TV from Wal-Mart. And the owner of the seventh duck to cross the finish line gets a one-year gym membership at Renaissance Day Spa. The owner of the last duck to make it to the finish line will get a jar of molasses and a camping tent. 

    Ducks can be adopted online, in the mail, at a Fayetteville Duck Derby booth or at a sponsoring business. To adopt a duck online, visit http://www.duckrace.com/fayettevilleduckderby. Participants must be 18 years old to adopt a duck. While it is delightful to watch the cute little rubber ducks float down a creek, participants do not need to be present to win. Tag numbers are randomly assigned by a computer, but participants can adopt
    multiple ducks. 

    Proceeds from the Duck Derby benefit 20 local nonprofit organizations and the schools in Cumberland County. There are also fundraising teams created by organizations like the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, the Child Advocacy Center, Falcon Children’s Home, Fayetteville Running Club, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Fayetteville Urban Ministry, to name a few. Participants have the opportunity to adopt ducks specifically for these fundraising organizations, and have control over where their donations go. Organizers are also accepting more teams with fundraising goals. Community members are also invited to participate by volunteering. It can take a lot of work to make sure that every duck is ready for the big race. 

    In addition to watching the ducks race down the creek, this family-friendly event will feature live entertainment, a kid’s zone, food and vendors selling merchandise in Festival Park.
    While the race itself is relatively short and dramatic, the festivities are intended to create a relaxing and fun event for the community in the gorgeous surroundings of Festival Park. 

    KidStuff

    The Partnership for Children presents the eternally popular KidStuff. It’s located in the Festival Park footprint and is filled with free child-friendly games and activities. “We host KidStuff every year because we believe children learn best through play, especially when this time is shared with significant adults in their lives. We welcome the opportunity to educate parents on available community resources while discovering what they view as their top-priority family needs. We are deeply appreciative to our sponsors and community partners whose generosity allows us to provide fun, age appropriate activities for our smallest attendees.” said Mary Sonnenberg, PFC President. 

    KidStuff includes several zones designed to make it a fun experience for children and parents alike. The infant/toddler zone is a space for little ones to break out of the confines of their strollers and backpacks and enjoy moving around.

    The pre-K zone features learning centers to engage preschoolers with hands-on experiences.

    The PNC Grow Up Great Mobile Learning Adventure is an exhibit that transforms preschoolers into pint-sized ballerinas, astronauts and veterinarians and their parents into early childhood educators.

     From bounce houses to bubbles, blocks, riding toys, face-painting and more, children and their grown-ups will find something fun to do at KidStuff. The entire space is built around the fact that children develop critical skills through play. When children are given quality early childhood experiences, they will be ready to learn upon entering school, require less remediation, are more likely to graduate from high school, and will grow into productive citizens and valuable employees.

    Fayetteville-Cumberland Crimestoppers Barbecue

    A sanctioned Dogwood Festival Event, the Fayetteville-Cumberland Crimestoppers Barbecue takes place on Raeford Road at Highland Centre. Crimestoppers sells delicious plates of barbecue for $7 per plate and uses the money to offer rewards to anyone wishing to report anonymous information regarding any crime. 

    Since its inception, the Crimestoppers program has played a part in more than 4,000 arrests and 5,300 felony charges. It has helped recover more than $4,875,000 in property and $1,893,000 in narcotics. Crimestoppers has issued more than $316,000 in rewards and helped solve 2,477 cases, 67 of which were homicides. Call (910) 483-8477 to report any information regarding a crime and remain anonymous!

    The barbecue runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.,
    Friday, April 28.

    Shriner Fish Fry

    A sanctioned Dogwood Festival events, the Hope Mills Shriner Fish Fry is set to run from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, April 28. It takes place at the Hope Mills Shrine Club at 4461 Cameron Road. Plates cost $8 each. Guests are invited to eat-in or take plates home with them. Proceeds from this event benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children. 

    Shriners Hospitals for Children provides specialized care to children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate regardless of the families’ ability to pay. All care and services are provided in a family-centered environment. Call (910) 224-5264 for more information.

    A Garden Party

    Ladies: It’s time to dust off your “southern belle” hats! Gentlemen: Pull out your seersucker suits. Dress in your best summer chic attire and join the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland County for A Garden Party.

    On May 5, A Garden Party, a Fayetteville Dogwood sanctioned event, takes place from 4-7:30 p.m. at Festival Park. This grand Southern tradition features dancing, entertainment, good food and friends. 

    Proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland County, Inc. 

    Boys & Girls Club of America started in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut. The founders believed boys who roamed the streets needed a positive alternative. The program grew from that premise and to date has helped thousands of children. Local Boys & Girls Club programs include academic enrichment, daily after school care, grant
    programs and more.

    Tickets to A Garden Party are $50 per person and are available online in two locations: You can visit www.ccbgc.org or go to Eventbrite and search “The Boys & Girls Clubs of Cumberland County 8th Annual Garden Party.”

    Save Our Stage Fundraiser

    On May 5, from noon to 6 p.m., join the fun at the Save Our Stage Fundraiser at Campbellton Landing. Activities include live music, bounce houses, local vendors and a petting zoo. This event is a fundraiser to save the Sol Rose Amphitheater. The Sol Rose Amphitheater at Campbellton Landing provides an outdoor venue along the Cape Fear River for any manner of musical, theatrical and sporting events.

    This stage has been at the center of many community events over the years. It has had bands, orchestras, actors and sportsmen across the planks. 

    Hurricane Matthew submerged the stage, and the floodwaters pushed and pulled at the timbers that make up the tiers in the theater. Many of these timbers need to be replaced. The stage itself needs some work, and there are still fallen trees and tons of mud to dispose of. The purpose of this event is to raise funds to cover the reconditioning of the amphitheater and stage so scheduled community events can take place here this season as planned.

    Learn more about the Dogwood Festival and its many activities at www.faydogwoodfestival.com.

  • 10 HeritageAuction2The Heritage Square Historical Society invites the public to enjoy the third annual Wine, Brews & Silent Auction Thursday, May 4, from 6-9 p.m. 

    HSHS President Elaine Kennebeck said this year’s silent auction is bursting with steals, in part because it was originally scheduled for last October but was delayed due to Hurricane Matthew. With the extra months, extra items have continued to accumulate, totaling over 250 pieces, according to Kennebeck. 

    And the items are not yard sale fare. A 50-inch Smart TV will be up for nabbing. There will also be a huge assortment of gift certificates from Fayetteville’s finest restaurants and entertainment venues, from Bonefish Grill to Roland’s Dance Studio, along with specialty wine and pet-themed gift baskets. Rounding out the huge collection are all kinds of original artwork, vintage and new jewelry, antiques and furniture, chinaware, lamps, quilts and pillows. 

    The HSHS usually starts bidding at about 40 percent of the value of an item. So, for a $400 item, the bidding would start at around $150 and Kennebeck said she’s never seen anything at their auctions sell for more than the actual value. More likely, she said, is that a buyer could get the item for the starting price or very close to it, due to there being so many items in this sale. 

    Kennebeck said one of the most perennially enjoyable aspects of the evening is the food and drinks. Large tents are set up and attendees enjoy unlimited food and drink as they participate in the auction. 

    The $40 ticket required for admittance covers unlimited top-shelf wine, assorted brews and ales, and food catered from Fayetteville’s finest dining establishments. Gourmet desserts will be provided by The Sweet Palette, New Deli and more, including an array of homemade desserts. 

    Live music provided first by a Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra quartet and later by Paul Saunders Jazz Group will add to the festive atmosphere.

    All proceeds from this event will be used to help maintain and preserve Historical Heritage Square, which is Fayetteville’s largest historical property. Two of the three buildings on this property, the Sandford House (dating back to 1797) and the Oval Ballroom (1808), are open to the public for their enjoyment and education. 

    Kennebeck said one of the Society’s current goals is to put an education center in the Sandford House. “There are so few historical properties left in this city … it’s important for our school children,” she said. “Our goal is to take things out of the archives and have them framed so school children can come and have a tour of the grounds and see how people lived back then.” 

    Bidding stops around 8:15 p.m., and the event technically ends at 9 p.m., “but really there’s no deadline … typically it’s way after 9 p.m. that anyone leaves,” said Kennebeck. “People just stay, and it’s great. Come and have a good time!” 

    The Wine, Brews & Silent Auction will be held at Heritage Square, 225 Dick St, May 4 from 6-9 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, call
    (910) 483-6009. 

  • 09 BeAirAwareSpring has arrived with cool evenings and warm afternoons. People all over Cumberland County are taking to the outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and warm weather. For many area residents, enjoying an afternoon outside poses little threat to their health but for others, an afternoon in poor air quality can cause respiratory distress. 

    The Environmental Protection Agency provides a useful website for daily air quality conditions. In addition to a website there is a mobile phone application. The app sends notifications directly to your phone letting you know what the quality of the air will be for the day. The Airnow app and Airnow.gov use a color-coded system. Green means the air quality is good for everyone. Yellow means moderate or that specific sensitive groups may be affected. Orange means those with respiratory illnesses like lung diseases or asthma should stay inside. Red means the air is unhealthy and everyone is at risk of health problems from poor air quality. Finally, purple means the air is very unhealthy. 

    Recently, some Cumberland County Schools have adopted the Air Quality Flag Program.
    The Air Quality Flag Program is designed to communicate air quality conditions and appropriate activities to students and teachers. The program uses the same color-coded system as Airnow.gov. Students and staff at schools check Airnow.gov each day and a corresponding color pennant is raised on the school flag pole. 

    This program is not limited to just schools. The program can be adopted by businesses, local governments, libraries, fire departments and others. The EPA is hosting the annual Air Quality Flag Challenge, where schools, government offices, fire departments, libraries and other entities can sign up. Qualifying organizations may also receive a free set of flags. Organizations interested in the program are encouraged to contact Denise Bruce, Cumberland County Air Quality Coordinator, by emailing
    greenaction@sustainablesandhills.org before May 31. 

  • 08 4th Firday4th Friday is a celebration of the arts and Historic Downtown Fayetteville. There is always something fun and
    exciting happening. 

    This month there will be more activity than usual. “This is an exciting 4th Friday because it is the kickoff to the Dogwood Festival,” said Mary Kinney, Marketing Director of the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County. “They are going to be over in Festival Park doing their official kickoff party to the 35th annual Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.” 

    Here are a few 4th Friday events that will take place Friday, April 28: 

    Friday night will feature free country music concerts in Festival Park followed by fireworks. Brittany McLamb will perform at 6 p.m., LANCO at 7:30 p.m. and
    Parmalee at 9 p.m. 

    Experience the continuation of the exhibit, Arts and Flowers, presented by Ellington-White CDC at the Arts Council at 301 Hay St. 

    Rock music will be performed by the 82nd Airborne Division Band’s “Rizer Burn” from 7-9 p.m. at the Arts Council as well.

    Cape Fear Studios presents Skewed Reality: The Drawings of Steve Opet from 6-9 p.m. at 148
    Maxwell St.

    The Ellington-White Gallery presents the continuation of the Common Ground exhibition from 7-9 p.m. at 113 Gillespie Street. 

    Fascinate-U Children’s Museum, located at located at 116 Green St., will have meet-and-greet with your favorite princesses along with free play from 7-9 p.m. “This is one of my favorite stops because I have little ones,” said Kinney. “They will have real-life princesses to meet that night and the kids can have free play in the museum.” 

    Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum presents a new historical exhibit: Saint John’s Episcopal Church — The First 100 Years. It examines the unique architecture, symbolism and stained glass windows in the church. 

    The museum also has a display of cool and vintage cars, a recreated 1920s gas station and Fayetteville’s 1880s Silsby Steam Pump Engine from 6-10 p.m. at 325 Franklin Street. “There will be some beautiful history about the church that will be talked about in this particular exhibit,” said Kinney. 

    The Market House is featuring the educational exhibit Scottish Heritage and the permanent exhibit A View from The Square: A History of Downtown Fayetteville from 6-10 p.m. 

    “The Market House is open to visitors on 4th Friday so you can actually go upstairs inside the Market House,” said Kinney. “They have a permanent exhibit in which you look in four directions out of the Market House and it gives you the history in
    that direction.” 

    All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.theartscouncil.com or call the Downtown Alliance at (910) 222-3382.

  • 07 Soldier SanctuaryAlmost 10 years ago, Fayetteville and Cumberland County declared itself a “Soldiers’ Sanctuary.” In September 2008, in a statement of support for the nation’s military men and women, Cumberland County declared itself the “World’s First Sanctuary for Soldiers and Their Families.” It was an undertaking of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. “The Communities of Cumberland County have always supported our military neighbors,” said FCVB President & CEO John Meroski.  The now- familiar blue and white signs were posted along all major highways leading into the county. 

    The idea of a sanctuary for soldiers was and is to provide them and their families with local services ranging from free child care to job placement for soldiers’ spouses. On Declaration Day, then-8th District Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) read a proclamation in a ceremony at Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Armory and Museum in Downtown Fayetteville. What became known as a 500-plus member Army’s Army of community leaders and volunteers pledged to “watch over those who watch over us,” by designating military families honored members of the community.

    The Army’s Army was a frontline support group at a time when two wars raged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Local member businesses offered discounts and preferential treatment to the troops. Many of them still do nine years later. An online networking website, www.Fayettevillewantsyou.com, was created to connect soldiers considering moving to Fayetteville with one-on-one citizen guides that helped steer them through the relocation process. It’s still online and calls itself “the foremost military resource for our community.”

    The Soldiers’ Sanctuary is spearheaded by Cumberland County community leaders and the Army’s Army. It was an outgrowth of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act. Thousands of military and defense department families moved from Atlanta to North Carolina when Ft. McPherson was closed and the Army’s Forces Command was repositioned at Ft. Bragg. They were required to settle in one of the 11 counties closest to Fort Bragg. Try as it did to accommodate them, Cumberland County was not the choice location for many of those soldiers and civilian DOD employees. Hoke, Moore, Lee and Harnett Counties became temporary homes for many of the transplants. Some of them rented their Georgia homes and returned to the peach state after fulfilling their obligations to the Army.

    Yet, in the face of those disappointments, Greater Fayetteville poured its collective heart out to those military families who continued coming to Fort Bragg. First Lady Michelle Obama adopted support for service members and their families while she was in the White House. “You have found ways to help strengthen families under great stress. You’ve found ways to make life fun for children who wake up and go to sleep worried about their moms and dads,” she said of Fayetteville and its commitment to the military. The FCVB’s Meroksi put it best when asked to reflect on the creation of the Soldiers’ Sanctuary Community: “Community and state leaders who came together to declare the county a Sanctuary Community were merely stating what was already true.” 

  • 06 CC FY18Fayetteville Technical Community College President Dr. Larry Keen hosted Cumberland County Commissioners at lunch to make an informal budget request. Only three members of the seven-member board accepted the invitation. Commissioners Jeanette Council, Larry Lancaster and Jimmy Keefe showed up. Dr. Keen gave the board an update on student enrollment and asked the county to consider increasing the school’s budget by $544,000 in the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.

    The local budget allocated to FTCC by County government is $11.6 million. The college’s total budget this year is $136 million, said Chief Financial Officer Betty Smith. “We have pinched until it hurts,” declared Commissioner Council while at the same time praising FTCC for its commitment to higher education. Council points to the County’s $16 million budget shortfall, drawing attention to a significant decline in property values as recently disclosed in the tax administration’s revaluation report.

    Keen’s annual report revealed a small reduction in student enrollment. “Community colleges nationwide are losing students because the economy is getting better,” he said. 

    Seven hundred ten thousand full-time students are enrolled in North Carolina’s 58 community colleges; 11,800 of them at FTCC. Keen told commissioners the college also serves 27,000 adults in continuing education classes. And there are 1,510 active-duty military men and women, and 2,300 veterans enrolled. The college was ranked second in the nation among technical colleges by the Military Times. A year ago, FTCC announced the hiring of three head coaches for the inaugural men’s and women’s intercollegiate basketball and golf teams. 

    Commissioners seemed surprised to learn that Cape Fear Valley Health System has told FTCC it needs 400 new nurses each year. 

    “210 nursing students are enrolled next fall,” Keen said. He added that he believes FTCC can turn out the 400 nurses needed within five years. In other areas, Dr. Keen told county commissioners and administrators he would like to provide FTCC employees a 3 percent cost of living pay raise in the coming fiscal year. 

    As for students, Keen said based on course enrollments, course credit hours and course level, individual full-time equivalent student enrollment support is $982, well below the state average. He said it would take an 8 percent funding increase to bring FTCC per student spending up to the state average. He’s asking for a 5.1 percent increase, which would make FTCC 27th in student financial support of the 58 colleges in the system.

    FTCC provides affordable vocational-technical, business and industry, general education, college transfer and continuing education programs on four campuses across Cumberland County. FTCC meets the needs and desires of its diverse student body as well as the economic development needs of the community. The Fayetteville/Cumberland County Economic Development Center is headquartered at the main campus. 

  • 05 News DigestShawcroft Road Temporarily Opened

    City contractors have completed the temporary installation of a culvert beneath Shawcroft Road, the only entrance to the King’s Grant neighborhood off Ramsey Street. 

    The road has re-opened, having been closed for six months. A culvert, which carried a small stream beneath Shawcroft Road, was destroyed when the street collapsed during Hurricane Matthew last October. The City decided to make temporary repairs while awaiting Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to make permanent repairs. Since its original development, King’s Grant has grown to a community of 3,000 residents and 600 homes. A popular public golf course is also on the grounds. City Engineering and Infrastructure Director Rob Stone said Shawcroft Road will remain open for at least two months while a final decision is made on whether to install a permanent culvert or a bridge over the stream. That process is set to begin in June.

    Fort Bragg’s All-American Division

    America’s Guard of Honor is observing its 100th anniversary this year. The 82nd Airborne Division was constituted as part of the U.S. Army National Guard in August 1917 to support America’s entry into World War I.  

    The division rose to international acclaim during World War II and has long been recognized as the most celebrated military unit in American history. The Fort Bragg division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Erik Kurilla, is often referred to as the nation’s Global Response Force, although the GRF designation is officially given to one of the 82nd brigades and placed on standby duty for a year at a time. The 82nd’s Third Brigade is currently assigned the responsibility of being prepared to “mobilize, load and land anywhere in the world in less than 36 hours,” as outlined in its mission statement. “We are trained, prepared and ready to go,” said 82nd spokesman, MSgt. Daniel Bailey.

    The Hurley Pots

    About 30 years ago the city of Fayetteville added to the Downtown ambiance by placing dozens of large, black landscaping pots along the sidewalks. They were not universally accepted at the time, and were named after then-Mayor Bill Hurley. 

    Maintenance of the Hurley pots was not kept up, and the flora planted in them died. For years, the pots were neglected. But, as Downtown began to flourish, various local residents took a renewed interest in the pots. Seasonal flowers and plants designed to survive in the large cast iron containers were planted. For the first time, this spring, Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Horticulture Department agreed to freshen them. April 18 was designated planting day, and FTCC horticulture students went to work replanting 100 Hurley pots. 

    FTCC Honored Again

    Fayetteville Technical Community College is in the top five large two-year colleges in the nation when it comes to digital education. The Center for Digital Education ranks FTCC fourth in its 12th annual survey of how community colleges use technology to improve services to students, faculty, staff and the community at large. Colleges surveyed indicated that mobility devices and app support is their top priority in the coming year, followed by website redesign/updates, cybersecurity tools and digital content and curriculum. The survey revealed that 54 percent of colleges offer professional development courses on how to use mobile apps for instruction. CDE is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government andeducation.  

  • 04 DandelionWhy the heck would Joe upload a picture of a dandelion weed for his Facebook profile photo? It struck me as odd.

    Joe was a popular jock with a perpetual smile. But he also has a brain that earned him an ROTC scholarship to Arizona State University. After his stint as an Army officer, Joe returned to ASU as its principal systems analyst.

    Again, I asked myself, why would a tough jock put a dandelion flower on his Facebook page. Then I saw others pop up on my high school alumni page, just like they do in my yard.

    Slap to the forehead! It’s April and the dandelion is the symbol of children of military parents — often referred to as military brats; a derogatory term worn as a badge of honor.

    Joe and I were brats. We are among 15 million Americans who at one time were children of military parents. We all have some of the same things in common. We were newcomers, outsiders, sometimes outcasts, but most of all we were adaptable. When people from a nonmilitary background asked us where we were from, we often paused before answering because the answer could be from nowhere to everywhere.

    It was our way of life and I accepted it without a second thought. I thought going to nine schools in 12 years was normal. I never realized that this was a bad thing. Ignorance can be bliss.

    I asked Joe via email what he thought was so great and not so great about us being military brats. His response: “The best part of our life as brats was that we were exposed to a more diverse group of people … not only in the countries we lived in, but the kids that became our friends.” He went on to say the exposure made us more accepting and understanding of the differences and similarities we have.

    The worst part, he wrote, was moving away from our friends. While there would be new ones, “leaving the others was really tough.”

    I posted the same question on my Wurzburg American High School Alumni Facebook page. Answers varied but the theme was consistent.

    Exposure to new cultures and diverse people who would become friends was the most common positive response. The most mentioned downside was leaving new friends.

    One person said every time he had a steady girlfriend, either his or her father would get orders to move.

    I didn’t know him personally, but I knew many others whose steady heartthrobs left because a parent received orders. Not having “officially” ended their relationship, they usually became conflicted about forming new relationships. In the end, chances were they’d never see each other again.

    Today, there are almost 2 million school-aged children of military parents. The Army at more than 911,000 makes up the largest portion, followed by the Air Force at about 430,000, Navy at about 300,000 and Marines at 120,000.

    In 1986, then-Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, citing the frequent moves and separations military children face, designated April the month of the military child. It apparently caught on, and military installations across the U.S. and overseas celebrate the day. 

    The military also ramped up family support programs for the children.

    Purple is this military children month’s official color, representing a combination of the colors from all services. And, according to Brats Inc., several years ago an online debate resulted in an official flower: the dandelion. It’s a weed, blown to the four corners of the world, hard to kill, and one that can thrive anywhere in any climate.

  • Let us begin by giving a shout out to Nicholas Pelletier who, on April 25, 1792, became the first guest of the guillotine in Paris, the city of light. Nick was a murderer and a robber sentenced to death. France had been using a two-tier system of capital punishment until Nick came along. In the late 1700s, common criminals were executed in a variety of unpleasant ways: torture, burning at the stake and breaking on the wheel. Convicted aristocrats got a better deal. They were dispatched by the State Executioner Charles Sanson. Chuck was an expert swordsman who could slice off their heads with one swift blow from Rufus, his special Executing Sword. 

    The disparity between the send offs for common criminals versus aristocrats seemed unfair to the bleeding hearts of France. In the interest of equality, the idea spread that commoners and rich guys should both check out in the same fashion through sword beheading. 

    Like all simple solutions for complex problems , there were practical issues with cutting off everyone’s head with a sword. Chuck, the state executioner, pointed out that many more executioners would have to be hired to travel France. Sometimes the special Executing Sword would break, creating a mess. Ordinary swords just wouldn’t do the job. Paris only had two such swords. Sacre bleu!

    Enter our old buddy, Dr. Joseph Guillotin, with his bright idea. He invented the guillotine. His device dropped a heavy blade from a scaffold onto the neck of the condemned. Joe enthusiastically explained the value of his invention, saying: “The mechanism falls like lightning; the head flies off; the blood spurts; the man no longer exists.” Progress is our most important product. After a number of trials on farm animals, and allegedly with some suggestions of French King Louis XIV, the guillotine was ready to be tried on Nick in late April 1792. The Guillotine was painted a festive red and set up in downtown Paris. A crowd worthy of the Gator Bowl came to watch the send off. Whack! Mon Dieu! It worked. Nick was dispatched to his reward.

     The guillotine went viral. It was manufactured and spread all over France, lopping off heads with industrial efficiency. French toy makers made tiny guillotines that children could use to lop off the heads of their dolls or live mice. Chuck Sanson became a lean mean killing machine. He killed 300 people in three days after the French Revolution turned into the Reign of Terror. As a side effect of Dr. G’s invention, Louis XIV lost his head to Chuck.

    Currently, the Pharmaceutical Side Effect Development Council has spent many years developing opioids to mask pain and create legions of addicts to its products. The goal of the Side Effects Council is to mask one medical problem while creating multiple new exciting and expensive side effects that can only be remedied by taking another drug, which in turn creates new side effects. Have you ever held one mirror up in front of another mirror and watched the endless reflections curve off into infinity? That is the business plan of the Side Effects Council. One drug begats side effects that can only be remedied by another drug, which begats different side effects. As the King of Siam once said, “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” Side effects equal profits. 

     How can this be? Oh, it be. If you are of a certain age and watch TV news, you can’t avoid the TV ad for Movantik which has been invented to cure opioid-induced constipation, or OIC as the cool kids call it. A rugged construction foreman tells us he hurt his back and has to take opioids for pain. The opioids have backed him up. He’s tried prunes, laxatives and various folk remedies by the light of the moon. He finally tells his cute doctor that he is constipated. She smiles and asks him how long he has been holding back this information. This is his Movantik Moment. He is now happy and free to discuss his constipation. He smiles, takes the meds as prescribed, and becomes a regular fellow again. 

    Dr. Guillotin would be proud. King Louis the XIV died due to a side effect of the guillotine. America’s opioid addiction epidemic has created side effects undreamed of by Dr. G. Opioid — side effects that exist on a scale that makes the French Reign of Terror look like an ice cream social. If you are not sitting in twin bath tubs next to your beloved waiting for the Cialis to kick in, you, too, can have a Movantik Moment. Big Pharma is full of something other than just obscene profits. The ad guys originally wanted to call this a Movantik Movement but Standards and Practices nixed that slogan.

    Let my people go. 

  • 03 Maragaret HillBillyElegyWe Americans like to think of ourselves as an egalitarian, classless society where “all men are created equal.” Thomas Jefferson penned those words in our Declaration of Independence, and while they embody a beautiful sentiment, I wonder whether even he believed them, because the only people who were “created equal” were white, landowning men. The reality is that we are not and have never been an egalitarian, classless society.

    Two recent books, a meaty read by a college professor and a memoir by a self-described “hillbilly,” look at our country and see much the same picture. They see a society stratified by culture, education, resources, language, social capital and just about every distinction we can imagine. 

    In White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Nancy Isenberg, an American history professor at Louisiana State University, makes the case that glaring class differences have been with us from the beginning. 

    We all know that women and blacks were pretty much left out of our original Constitution and Bill of Rights. We also all know that our Founding Fathers — think George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — were men of education, sophistication and material resources. 

    What many of us do not know is that most of our original English settlers were more-or-less refugees, people not wanted in their homeland because they were non-productive drains on the English economy. Some of them walked up the plank and headed for the New World voluntarily, and others were simply deported.

    Jefferson’s writings refer to these people as “rubbish.” Since his day, they have been referred to as “crackers,” “Okies,” “hillbillies” and, more recently, “rednecks” and “trailer trash.” All are derisive nouns for the poor white people who have been with us since before our actual founding. 

    In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance movingly chronicles his childhood in the Kentucky mountains in a working-class city in Ohio. The first person in his family to go to college, Vance graduated with honors in less than two years and went on to Yale Law School. At 32, he said he escaped a hillbilly culture of violence, drugs, transience, multiple father figures and poor or no work ethic only because his grandparents and several others believed in and supported him when the rest of his young life was in chaos. 

    Maybe coincidence and maybe not, these two widely-read books burst onto the literary scene at a time when such inequities are becoming more pronounced and when many Americans are deeply concerned about this these issues.

    The Pew Research Center reported several years ago that the wealth disparity between America’s upper-income families and middle-class ones is greater than it has ever been across our two-plus centuries of existence. In fact, the top 0.1 percent are now worth more than the bottom 90 percent, with the big slice of the pie continuing to grow and the smaller one still shrinking. In addition, while the Great Recession affected almost everyone, the folks at the top have recovered, but the folks at the bottom continue to struggle. 

    Other disparities abound as well. Upper incomers have access to and better health care opportunities than those at the bottom. They live longer. They are better educated, and as Vance points out, they practice their religions more often and have fewer marriages. 

    It is not getting any better for an overwhelming number of Americans. Baby Boomers, my generation, expected to do better than our parents, and by and large, we did. Millennials, people born in the early 1980s, have only a 50 percent chance of doing better than we did, about the same as flipping a coin, according to the Equality of Opportunity’s report released late last year. The report noted that “children’s prospect of achieving the ‘American Dream’ of doing better than their parents have fallen from 90 to 50 percent over the past half century.”

    Such statistics do not make for screaming headlines or lead the evening news, but they are quietly and profoundly changing our country. Both Isenberg and Vance acknowledge there are no easy answers to any of this. Both say government policies can play a role in helping people, but at the end of the day, it is up to us to make positive decisions about education, work and family life.

    It is all worth thinking about as our new presidency unfolds and as we make electoral decisions in future election cycles.

  • 02PubPen KimberleyI admit I was never a fan of the location chosen for our new $12 million multimodal transportation center now under construction at the corner of West Russell and Robeson Streets in Downtown Fayetteville. It’s in the wrong location, too expensive, poorly designed and built on a small lot with no room for future growth and facility expansion. 

    But, hey, what do I know? Or, for that matter, what did the professional consultants City officials hired to assist them in finding and recommending the most feasible locations know? To my recollection, we (the City) rejected not one, but three of their recommendations and paid them tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars for the privilege. 

    Now, with construction over budget and a year behind schedule, City officials say they have now learned some very valuable (and expensive) lessons. It will be very interesting to see who will show up for that ribbon-cutting celebration in June. 

    On the positive side, I was extremely glad the building’s final design incorporated a cultural statement by including a $100,000 line item for local art to hide two huge black cisterns from public view. 

    Contracting the Arts Council to create and manage the RFP (request for proposal) for this project was another prudent decision. 

    This being said, City officials should reject the Public Arts Commission recommendations to accept the only bid received from Greensboro artist Jim Gallucci. No doubt he is a talented and renowned professional in his own right. That is not the point of contention here. 

    An RFP that attracts no local artist participation, comes in $40,000 over specifications and nets only one out-of-town bid needs to be rejected on principle. I’m confident we have artists in our community talented and creative enough to camouflage two cisterns, and for a lot less than $140,000. 

    Our recommendation: Shop local, even for art. We have dozens of talented budding artists here in our community. Case in point, check out the beautiful artistry of FTCC student Kimberley Hardee on this cover of Up & Coming Weekly. Here, this talented artist and mother of three created art with the personality and sense of anticipation, wonder and excitement that depicts exactly what the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival is all about. 

    This is the kind of talent we have nurtured, showcased and supported at Gallery 208 for the past 10 years without grants or government subsidies. 

    So, if we are going to spend taxpayer money on art and artists, I say we spend it locally on our own. I urge our elected officials to reissue the RFP and call for “local” artists. If we still get no response, we’ll do a feature story on the artistic value and inner beauty of two black cisterns. 

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 01 COVEREvery spring Fayetteville breaks out into a big weekend-long party that fills Festival Park and several blocks of Downtown Fayetteville with music, food, rides, shows, activities, art and more. It’s been that way for decades. And for the most part it is an event run by volunteers. Volunteers who like to have fun! This year, the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival runs April 28-30.

    The festival kicks off  Friday, April 28 at 5 p.m. with the Bloom and Boom party sponsored by H&H Homes. The evening’s entertainment features Brittany McLamb, LANCO and Parmalee. The opening ceremony is at 5:30 p.m. Music starts at 6 p.m. with Britanny McLamb onstage at the Festival Park CenturyLink Stage.

    A Salemburg, North Carolina, native, Britanny McLamb grew up listening to gospel, bluegrass and country music. As a youngster, she sang in choir at her church and performed in local talent shows and pageants. After high school, she performed on television shows such as Arthur Smith’s Carolina Calling and Jimmy Snow’s Grand Ole Gospel Time. She studied at East Carolina University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. 

    From there, she headed to Nashville to chase her dream of becoming a star. McLamb released her first EP on iTunes in 2013. It included “Summer Rain” as well as songs like “Back from Your Goodbye” and “Mr. Right.” Several singles later, “I Like Where This Is Going” was released April 2016, which McLamb penned herself along with band member Phillip Howard and Lauren McLamb.

    LANCO takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Formed in 2013, LANCO released their EP in 2015 and quickly followed with Extended Playin April 2016. 

    The band’s website explains that Extended Playcontains “three of the same songs as their debut, exchanging “High” for newer track and lead single “Long Live Tonight,” a pop-fused country song with a Kings of Leon undercurrent. 

    Their song “American Love Story” was also featured as the theme for the Netflix series The Ranch. The band is known for its country feel with a touch of classic rock and blues influence.

    At 9 p.m., kick back with Parmalee. The North Carolina natives earned high praises for their first album Feels Like Carolina. In 2014, the band was a semifinalist for the Academy of Country Music’s “New Artist of the Year” Award and was nominated for the 2014 Teen Choice Award “Choice County Group.” The group’s latest hit “Close Your Eyes” was in the Country Radio top three. After touring with Brad Paisley on his “Country Nation Tour,” Parmalee’s new single, “Already Callin’ You Mine,” is currently in the Top 30 at Country Radio. Rooted in bluegrass, traditional country music, southern rock and blues, the band members grew up listening to and eventually playing alongside their families. Eventually, they made their way to Nashville where they lived and worked out of their RV in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn on the legendary Demonbreun Street.

    Friday’s festivities conclude with a firework show immediately following the Parmalee concert.

    Saturday and Sunday are packed with things to do as well, including carnival games, rides, art exhibits and more. This year’s festival features several performance venues as well. The Cape Fear Music Center Stage has performers lined up from noon to 6:30 p.m. Artists include more than 45 performers ranging in age from 7 to 55. Special performers include KasCie Page, Clairice and The Combustibles, Borderland Band, Rivermist and Upscale-N-Casual.

    The Hay Street Stage features local bands from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. At 3:30 p.m. Earth, Wind & Fire Tribute will perform until 5 p.m. On Sunday featured performers include Fayetteville Jazz Orchestra, The Fayetteville State University Jazz Express and Reggie Codrington. Check out the wine garden near the stage for refreshments.

    The parking lot beside Hay Street United Methodist church is the performance area that showcases dance troupes. Performers include:

    Saturday

    12:00 Little Gym Jets

    12:15 Dazzling Dolls Pom Squad

    12:30 Shimmy Mob

    1:00 Elevo Dynamics

    1:30 Shadows of the Fire

    2:15 Audience Participation

    2:30 World Dance

    3:00 Aloha Ka’naka O’Hula Halua

    3:45 J’s US Taekwondo

    4:15 Shadows of the Fire

    5:00 Audience Participation

    5:15 Aloha Ka’naka O’hula Halua

    Sunday

    12:00 LS Music & Arts Studio

    12:15 Yvette’s Dance academy

    12:30 Shimmy Mob

    1:00 Dashawn Byron

    1:30 Shadows of the Fire

    2:15 Audience Participation

    2:30 World Dance

    3:00 Aloha Ka’naka O’Hula Halua

    3:45 J’s US Taekwondo

    4:15 Shadows of the Fire

    5:00 Audience Participation

    5:15 Aloha Ka’naka O’hula Halua

    Saturday is a rockin’ good time in Festival Park with a focus on 80s and hard rock entertainment. Violet Smoke is set to perform at 1 p.m., followed by Fourth Hour
    at 3 p.m. 

    At 5 p.m., acoustic band Wood & Steele opens for Winger, who takes the stage at 7 p.m. Wood & Steele’s repertoire is an inclusive one, ranging from The Beatles to Pink Floyd to STP or Johnny Cash. Winger is a hard rock band with roots that date back to 1987. The group is still going strong with recent hits  “IV,” “Karma” and “Better Days Comin’.” 

    Winger has been on Billboard’s Top 100 and in 2016, Grammy nominee Kip Winger hit #1 on Billboard and iTunes charts with his debut classical music album Conversations with Nijinsky

    At 9 p.m. Skid Row takes the stage. Skid Row is a rock band with titles that include “Youth Gone Wild,” “I Remember You,” “18 and Life,” “We Are the Damned,” “Monkey Business” and “Let’s Go.” The band has toured with KISS and has maintained a strong fan base.

    Sunday, blues and soul performer DieDra will grace the CenturyLink Stage at 1:30 p.m. She’s been called the “Blues Diva” and “The Alabama Blues Queen.” Her album Overcoming Hurdleswas nominated for several awards and her song “Hip Swingin’ Blues” went as high as number five on Roadhouse Blues Charts and topped all Beach Music Charts that year. 

    At 3 p.m., the Duck Derby Race releases thousands of ducks into Cross Creek in a race to raise funds for local schools and nonprofits.

    At 4:30 p.m., fusion rock band Lotus Sun performs. The band is a local favorite and a winner of Best of Fayetteville’s “Best Local Band” award. Lotus Sun is a local favorite at music venues like Fayetteville After Five as well as other festivals. 

    All the events are free. Tickets are available for $25 for prime seating at the CenturyLink stage concerts. Local artists and vendors will have items available to purchase, as will food vendors. Tickets for midway rides are for sale and can be purchased at the Dogwood Festival.

    Parking 

    Parking for those with disabilites will be designated in the Hay Street United Methodist Church Parking lot and the Bank of America Parking Lots on Ray Avenue. Availability is first come first served.

    Downtown parking is available. Suggested areas include:

    •New Parking Deck on Franklin Street, FREE weeknights and weekends

    •Cumberland County Courthouse parking lots

    •Paid parking in various Downtown locations

    Event Rules

    •No Coolers

    •No Pets (except service animals)

    •No Weapons of any kind

    •No Bikes, Rollerblades or Skateboards

    •No Drones/Aerial Toys or Equipment

    •No Inappropriate language or behavior

    •Zero tolerance for bad behavior

    Midway Hours (Carnival, Behind AIT)

    Friday Noon - 10 p.m. - All you can ride wristbands $25.00

    Saturday Noon - 8 p.m. Tickets only

    Sunday Noon - 6 p.m. Tickets only

    Find out more at http://www.faydogwoodfestival.com.

  • 16ScholarAthlete1BrittanyBrittany Broome

    Jack BrittTennis • Senior

    Broome recorded a 5.03 grade point average while playing tennis for the Buccaneers last fall.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    17ScholarAthlete2 JacobWinkelmanJacob Winkleman

    Terry Sanford Track/wrestling

    Winkleman runs in the distance races for Terry Sanford and carries a 3.7 grade point average. He plans to enlist in the Marines after graduation.

  • 15WeJaysonLeachWestover’s football team made a major step forward under coach Stephen Roberson last season, sharing the Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference football title with Lee County and advancing to the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs.

    But the 8-4 record and a 35-34 first-round playoff defeat to a Jacksonville team that comprised the 3-AA Eastern Regional finals are history as far as Roberson is concerned. The focus this spring is to start taking the steps to be even better in the fall.

    “I thought we were better than a one-and-out team,’’ Roberson said of the first-round defeat against the traditionally strong Cardinals. “We felt we underachieved and had a little chip on our shoulder coming back into
    this season.’’

    Roberson said the goal for the spring sessions will be fundamental work. He plans to give special attention to blocking techniques, as the Wolverines will be looking for three new offensive linemen from the junior varsity team.

    Spring sports will cut into some of the numbers Roberson would like to have on the practice field, but he’s been pleased with the turnout so far. “We lost 20 seniors but we’ve got 11 starters returning,’’ he said. “We have a lot of experience, guys who have played for two or three years and guys who have played a solid two years of varsity.’’

    One thing new this fall that Roberson has no control over is the new conference Westover will join. It mingles 4-A and 3-A schools from Cumberland County together with Overhills.

    “When you’re a 3-A... 4-A schools in the conference you’re never happy,’’ Roberson said. “I thought we could have kept it a straight 3-A conference with the 3-A teams in the county.’’ 

    Cape Fear and E.E. Smith are dropping to 3-A to join former Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference members Douglas Byrd, Gray’s Creek, Terry Sanford and Westover. The new 4-A teams in the conference are Overhills, Pine Forest and South View.

    “Those decisions are over my head,’’ Roberson said of the new split conference. “We’ll adjust and be ready to go.’’ That’s the feeling of junior linebacker Jayson Leach, who felt last season was a big step forward for the Wolverines and wants to continue turning the Wolverine program around. “We’ve proven to everybody we can win,’’ he said. “We want to be better than the next team.’’

    He expects the new conference to be more challenging than the Cape Fear Valley 3-A was. “We have in our mind to be the best, don’t think anybody is better than us,’’ he said. “We’re staying focused and not listening to what everybody else in the county is saying.’’

  • 14Vernon AldridgeAs you’ll note elsewhere on this page, today begins the first in a series of spring high school football previews as teams hold conditioning workouts preparing for the 2017 season.

    This year’s workouts are a little different, as the N.C. High School Athletic Association gave schools two options for how to hold them. Schools could have 21 players out per day for a slightly longer stretch from early April to mid-May, or they could opt for having the full squad out for 10 days beginning in mid-May.

    We’ll preview the teams that chose the early workouts first: Westover, Seventy-First, Jack Britt and South View. Then we’ll pick up with the remaining six county schools who chose the mid-May start: Terry Sanford, E.E. Smith, Pine Forest, Cape Fear, Gray’s Creek and Douglas Byrd.

    • Changes look to be coming for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs as soon as the 2017-18 school year.

    The N.C. Athletic Directors Association held its annual gathering in Wilmington recently, and central office staffers from the NCHSAA were on hand to discuss the possible new look of the state playoffs in all sports.

    Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for Cumberland County Schools, attended the meetings in Wilmington. He said the change is being forced by the new alignment of schools which goes into effect for the 2017-18 school year. The NCHSAA has changed the number of schools in each of its four size classifications.
    The largest schools are now in the 20 percent that make up the 4-A class.
    The smallest 20 percent of schools will be in the 1-A class.

    That leaves 30 percent in 2-A and 30 percent in 3-A.

    Under the current plans in football and basketball, 64 teams make the playoffs in each classification. Football subdivides classes into A and AA based on enrollment with 32 playoff teams in each
    subdivided class.

    Under the new alignment, there will be less than 80 schools in the entire 4-A class. That would mean a little over a dozen wouldn’t make the playoffs, and that’s why the state is looking at dropping the numbers.

    This will likely be taken up at the NCHSAA’s spring Board of Directors meeting in May. It’ll be interesting to see what they decide.

    • Pine Forest High School is holding its annual golf fundraiser on Sunday, May 21, at King’s Grant. The individual registration fee is $65 and sponsorship packages are available for $100, $300, $750 or $1,500.

    Registration is at 11 a.m. the day of the tournament, with lunch at noon and a 1 p.m. shotgun start. There will be door prizes and awards for longest drive and closest to the pin. There will also be a putting contest
    at 11:30 a.m.

    For further information on entering, call head football coach Bill Sochovka or athletic director Jason Norton during school hours at 488-2384.

  • 13liferThe moment you surrender your life to Christ, a checkered flag is waved and you’re off to the races … on the greatest adventure of your life. It’s a race that’s already been won, yet one you’re committed to run for the duration of your existence. It’s a race the men of MercyMe have been running for a while, and 23 of those years have been spent making music. Their relentless commitment to faith, music and the gospel shows no signs of slowing down on their ninth studio project, aptly titled LIFER (Fair Trade Services).

    With more than 9 million units in cumulative sales, MercyMe has seen 27 of their songs reach No. 1 across multiple Christian radio formats, in addition to garnering four mainstream radio hits. Their landmark song, “I Can Only Imagine,” was the first digital single in Christian music history to be certified platinum and double-platinum. Billboard named LIFER the Christian Artist of the Decade in 2009. In addition, the group has received multiple Grammy nominations, GMA Dove Awards and American Music Awards.

    2014’s Welcome to the New proved to be one of the biggest releases of the group’s career, earning them two Grammy nods and four long-reigning No. 1 smash hits at radio. The album continues to be a top-selling title from a band that has been churning out hits for more than two decades.

    Millard grasped the concept of the no-strings-attached grace that Christ offers … and it literally changed him from the inside out. And now, LIFER serves as the next natural chapter. If Welcome to the New’s central message was grace, LIFER’s core message is triumph.

    “With anything, there’s a point where the honeymoon phase kind of goes away. Life will set in. Life is going to stink at times, and it’s going to be hard to remember that I’m brand new. That’s the way it goes,” Millard said. “We’re going to get this wrong a lot, but there’s never a moment in the life of a believer where Christ will ever say, ‘I’m disappointed in you. You’ve let Me down,’ because there’s no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”

    The funky groove of the title track might have stretched the band’s sonic muscles, but the message fits MercyMe like a glove. “We’ve been a band for over two decades, so I think it’s OK to use the title LIFER and nobody question it as far as being in it for the long haul,” Millard quipped. “But at the same time, it’s who we are. The term ‘LIFER’ is typically used for someone in the military or in prison. In other words, they ain’t gettin’ out. They’re stuck in there. They’re in for life … It’s the same thing with a believer. It’s not something you can turn on or off or walk away from. Christ is now part of me.”

    Many selections were an overflow of the abundant writing the band did for Welcome to the New. The breezy, soulful “Grace Got You” is a gift from that cutting room floor. The driving tribal rhythm of “Hello Beautiful” counters the enemy’s lies with God’s truth. Campfire closer “Ghost” speaks to the irony and mystery of the Holy Spirit, exposing some of the most creative lyrics of the band’s career.

    But it’s the stunning “Even If” that is LIFER’s crown jewel. It was the last song written for the album and the first song sent to radio. “If there’s a moment on the record to reach people where they are, it’s ‘Even If.’ We’re ministers first. We’re trying to reach the hurting first. This song wrecked us,” Millard candidly admitted. “It’s just an open wound for me.”

    Millard was thinking of his 15-year-old son, Sam, when he penned the song. Sam has been a diabetic since he was 2, and it’s been an uphill climb for the family ever since. One day, Millard shared his frustration with the ongoing thorn in his son’s side with his friend and fellow songwriter Tim Timmons, who battles an incurable cancer himself. Following their conversation, Timmons sent Millard a demo of a chorus he had co-written with Crystal Lewis years ago. Millard took the idea and ran with it, quickly writing the remainder of the cut through tears.

    “The whole point of the song for me is the change that Jesus made in my life is so real and so life-transforming that if He went dark, if He went silent from now on, He would still be my greatest hope because of what He has already done,” he shared. “Basically, there’s not a single circumstance, I pray, that can derail me from what Christ is to me and who I am because of Christ.”

    “The enemy never lets up,” Millard said, “but we have the Spirit inside of us that is telling us over and over, ‘You are enough because of Christ in you... On my worst day, Christ is OK with me. He adores me. He’s pleased with me. How is that possible? No clue, but it is,” he affirmed. “That’s the most amazing news of all. That’s the point of the album. That’s the reason we keep making records.”

    Content provided by Fair Trade Music Services.

  • 12life ver2Interesting that they chose to call the film Life (106 minutes), considering the complete lack of vitality displayed onscreen. After about 30 minutes, all I could think was: In space, no one can hear you yawn. Little wonder the studio moved the release date from the weekend that Alien: Covenantwas scheduled to open … it’s one thing to release a low-rent Alienknockoff. It’s entirely another to release it the same weekend that Ridley Scott is set to revive the franchise.

    The plot revolves around the trapped-in-space chestnut, with six characters on the International Space Station desperately trying to ignite a plot spark. The film begins with the capture of a space probe carrying a soil sample from Mars. Over time, British biologist Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) is able to extract a cell and grow extraterrestrial life with the power of his full pouting lips and come hither eyes. At this point, the alien life could have evolved into a sexy space lady, like Species. That was a good movie. Would anyone disagree that every bad science fiction movie could be saved with a sexy space lady?

    Center for Disease Control representative Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) flips through the script for Alienand determines the creature they are nurturing is a perfect killing machine. It does not have acid for blood, though. The crew allows the children of Earth to name the creature, probably because, like Earth children sent to daycare, it is extra-aggressive. I would have picked Elder Thing because nobody beats Lovecraft for names. They go with Calvin.

    Calvin is surprisingly sensitive to changes in the environment, and a whoopsie with the atmosphere causes it to go dormant. Hugh repeatedly pokes it with an electric prod. To the surprise of no one, Calvin takes this personal, wraps around Hugh’s hand and crushes it to powder. Hugh passes out from the pain, which I can’t imagine Ripley doing, but I can’t imagine Ripley being as dumb as these scientists either. When Calvin escapes its containment cube, I expected an immediate resolution. What space scientists would be so stupid to begin growing a possibly hostile alien life form, but not have a protocol for flushing the oxygen from the room in case it escapes? Or dropping the temperature? Or rapidly changing the atmospheric pressure? Or jettisoning the entire compartment into space? Idiots.

    At this point, the slow slide into unwise behavior accelerates. An engineer named Rory (Ryan Reynolds) opens the door to rescue Hugh, irresponsibly exposing the entire crew to further risk from the patently homicidal new life form. After floating Hugh out of the room, he flips through the Aliens script and finds out that Ripley went after a bunch of Xenomorphs with flamethrowers, so he tries that.
    Spoiler alert: this fails.

    Calvin continues to mow through the crew as they frantically flip through rejected plot points for Alien 3to get ideas on what to do next. Since Alien 3was terrible, they get nothing. The Japanese pilot Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada) has some brief moments of not being too foolish to live, but his flash of brilliance isn’t enough to resolve anything plot-related. 

    Overall, I was bored. The various characters were fine individuals, but as a collective I wanted Calvin to eat them all, except Sho Murakami. The ending somewhat redeemed the previous hour and forty minutes, and I sort of wish for a sequel that picks up on Earth. Sort of.

    Now playing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.

  • 10swee teaSweet Tea Shakespeare presents “As You Like LIT” at the Arts Council, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. This program is the third production in the Lit Series, in which the Sweet Tea troupe interprets classic Shakespearean works in new and innovative ways.  “We use the original text, cut down to the essential storyline, but peppered with modern language to make sure the audience is getting the full meaning of all the lines.  Shakespeare was popular entertainment in his time, and people are often surprised by how many raunchy jokes are hidden within that seemingly ‘fancy’ language,” Director Marie Lowe explained. 

    Another unique part of the show is the role of the audience. In a traditional play the audience would just quietly observe, but the Lit Series aims to make the stories much more engaging. “There is no fourth wall in a Lit show. If we’re at a wrestling match, audience members are spectators at the match; if we’re at a wedding, they’re wedding guests,” Lowe said. “The audience participates throughout the show it could be anything from contributing to our infamous ‘Monologue Mad Libs’ to playing a drinking game or a small walk-on role. However, all audience participation is strictly voluntary. No one gets hauled onstage unless they want to be.” Because each show relies on the audience so intensely, the experience is incredibly unique to each performance. This is further enhanced by the fact that each show is only presented for a night and each performance is hosted in a different venue; and each space can come with its own challenges. 

    Of course, the crucial role of the audience can pose a little bit of a challenge for the actors as they prepare for the performance. It is hard to simulate that live experience during rehearsal, but this unpredictability also creates an incredibly rewarding experience. There is a lot of creativity in this sort of performance. 

    “The main difference in rehearsing a Lit show is how collaborative the process is. Actors help create their own characters, but also the jokes, songs and drinking games we use. One of my favorite pieces of feedback came from a cast member who said that being in a Lit show was the best because the audience gets to see and participate in all of the fun we have in rehearsal,” Lowe said. 

    The show on April 21 begins at 7:30 p.m., but preshow entertainment begins at 6:45 p.m. It will feature live music performed by The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, also called WoCo. In addition to fantastic and fun music, this is also an opportunity for audience members to get acquainted with how this style of performance works. 

    “For the Lit shows, we sing some songs that everyone will know, and pre-show is when we solicit volunteers for drinking games and other audience participation pieces,” Lowe said. “I’d strongly recommend coming for the entire pre-show seating is first-come, first-served, and it’s also the best time to get your food and drinks!”

    While the Lit series is all about having fun and engaging with the audience, it is still about great theater and incredible actors. “We’re a company full of Shakespeare traditionalists, and this is how we have fun! Amongst all the silliness, traditionalists will recognize we’re using early modern staging conditions, such as static lighting and casting across genders, and achieving the kind of festive atmosphere for which Shakespeare’s troupe was known,” Lowe explained. 

    For more information and to learn about the other incredible productions that Sweet Tea Shakespeare will be presenting this season, visit : http://www.sweetteashakespeare.com.

  • 08Sales Taxes 2A joint committee of Fayetteville and Cumberland County elected officials, along with the mayors of the County’s small towns, met for the first time to discuss the future of sales tax distribution. At issue is how millions of dollars of local sales tax revenues are distributed annually. 

    City Council had named four of its members to a standing committee, but County Commission Chairman Glenn Adams allowed only two of them at the table. Commissioner Jeanette Council presided at the meeting and intimated her favored outcome was to leave things as they are. After an hour or so of discussion, Mayor Nat Robertson used a parliamentary maneuver to adjourn the meeting. Adams wanted committee members to vote on the controversial issue rather than continue negotiations.  

    County Commissioners have the authority to select from two sales tax distribution methods, one of which is based on population and is currently used. As the city has grown to almost 210,000, it has benefited from that method, which has been used for many years. 

    A caveat that city officials would like to see done away with is a side agreement that the city rebate to the County and the other towns 50 percent of sales taxes collected in areas annexed by the city 13 years ago. The rebate is the heart of the issue. 

    Mayor Nat Robertson wants to phase it out over a period of several years. The County wants to leave the current agreement in place for years to come. While he doesn’t agree with Robertson entirely, committee member Mitch Colvin said there should be room for compromise. 

    Commissioners have threatened to adopt the other method of taxation which distributes revenue by tax district. Because the entire County is its tax district, the County would benefit and the city would immediately lose more than $4 million a year. 

    Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey suggested that cooler heads meet on another day. He and the mayors of Hope Mills, Stedman, Falcon, Linden, Wade and Eastover also favor the current tax method because they all receive small rebates from the city of Fayetteville.

    The meeting adjourned with most in attendance agreeing that the city should come to the next session with a specific proposal for change that others could agree to. That’s going to be difficult for Fayetteville City Council because not all members agree with Robertson. He believes the city should receive all sales tax revenue in areas annexed during the “big bang” when nearly 50,000 residents were taken into the city. 

    Council member Jim Arp, who was not allowed to speak during the meeting, told Up & Coming Weekly that as Fayetteville’s commercial and business development grows, all units of government benefit from increased sales taxes. “Our council has some work to do to come up with a plan,” said Councilman Kirk deViere. He also attended the meeting but was not seated at the table.

  • 09FSO new directorA joint committee of Fayetteville and Cumberland County elected officials, along with the mayors of the County’s small towns, met for the first time to discuss the future of sales tax distribution. At issue is how millions of dollars of local sales tax revenues are distributed annually. 

    City Council had named four of its members to a standing committee, but County Commission Chairman Glenn Adams allowed only two of them at the table. Commissioner Jeanette Council presided at the meeting and intimated her favored outcome was to leave things as they are. After an hour or so of discussion, Mayor Nat Robertson used a parliamentary maneuver to adjourn the meeting. Adams wanted committee members to vote on the controversial issue rather than continue negotiations.  

    County Commissioners have the authority to select from two sales tax distribution methods, one of which is based on population and is currently used. As the city has grown to almost 210,000, it has benefited from that method, which has been used for many years. 

    A caveat that city officials would like to see done away with is a side agreement that the city rebate to the County and the other towns 50 percent of sales taxes collected in areas annexed by the city 13 years ago. The rebate is the heart of the issue. 

    Mayor Nat Robertson wants to phase it out over a period of several years. The County wants to leave the current agreement in place for years to come. While he doesn’t agree with Robertson entirely, committee member Mitch Colvin said there should be room for compromise. 

    Commissioners have threatened to adopt the other method of taxation which distributes revenue by tax district. Because the entire County is its tax district, the County would benefit and the city would immediately lose more than $4 million a year. 

    Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey suggested that cooler heads meet on another day. He and the mayors of Hope Mills, Stedman, Falcon, Linden, Wade and Eastover also favor the current tax method because they all receive small rebates from the city of Fayetteville.

    The meeting adjourned with most in attendance agreeing that the city should come to the next session with a specific proposal for change that others could agree to. That’s going to be difficult for Fayetteville City Council because not all members agree with Robertson. He believes the city should receive all sales tax revenue in areas annexed during the “big bang” when nearly 50,000 residents were taken into the city. 

    Council member Jim Arp, who was not allowed to speak during the meeting, told Up & Coming Weekly that as Fayetteville’s commercial and business development grows, all units of government benefit from increased sales taxes. “Our council has some work to do to come up with a plan,” said Councilman Kirk deViere. He also attended the meeting but was not seated at the table.

  • 07Police Body Camera 2The New York Police Department’s long-anticipated plan to outfit its officers with body cameras is being rolled out this month. Some critics are trying to block it. About 50 officers working the 4 p.m. to midnight shift in Manhattan’s 34th Precinct will be the first to add body cams to their standard uniforms. “We have hit the point where we really can’t learn anymore by reading and talking,” said Assistant Commissioner Nancy Hoppock of the NYPD’s risk management bureau. The NYPD’s policies do not vary much from those adopted years ago by Fayetteville Police. The FPD was one of the first major North Carolina city police departments to outfit its patrol officers with cameras. As in New York, policy does not require that cameras record all police encounters, despite the potential for low-level encounters to quickly escalate. 

    Anthony Kelly, Fayetteville’s interim police chief, said cops are to turn on their cameras as they arrive on the scenes of incidents that are not clear to them. Once they determine situations are not confrontational, they can turn them off.  “But the cameras are to be reactivated as soon as officers sense something may go sideways,” said Kelly. It’s a judgement call, but Kelly noted poor judgment can be disciplined. The devices automatically record whatever occurred thirty seconds before they were turned on, he added.  

    It would be cost prohibitive for officers to record every minute of their tours, officials said. “The initial purchase (of the cameras) included storage … for a period of 5 years,” said Lt. Todd Joyce. Use of the Microsoft Cloud for video and audio storage costs $77,100 per year for a period of 5 years, or $385,500, he said.

    Officers have no control over downloading, editing or storage. Camera content is downloaded automatically as officers end their tours of duty. They may view video recordings before writing up their reports to make sure they are in sync. NYPD critics say that would allow officers to tailor their version of events to what was recorded and undermines the cameras’ effectiveness as an accountability tool, and contradicts transparency.

    “Reality-based training has revealed that stressful situations can result in incomplete recollection,” Chief Kelly countered, so he said it makes sense for officers to review recordings in those instances. State law does not allow the general public to view video of controversial situations. Victims and others portrayed in videos, as well as accused perpetrators, can view recordings during supervised screenings. It takes an order from a district court judge for a video to be released to the public. 

    Police body cameras “increase officer safety and reduce department liability,” according to Law & Ordermagazine. The Fayetteville Police Department’s 300 uniformed patrol officers wear them, as do Hope Mills and Spring Lake cops. Body cameras have been embraced by many law enforcement agencies following controversial interactions between officers and suspects. The Fayetteville Police Department has spent more than a million dollars on body cameras, much of it grant money. The cameras are worn on officers’ uniform collars or lapels. 

  • 06Doo Rag RapistApril is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and detectives with Fayetteville Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit are working to clear several cases
    with arrests. 

    A focus for one of the active investigations is the assailant police have dubbed the “doo-rag rapist.” He is accused of assaulting nearly a dozen women over the course of one year, seven years ago. Victims said his face was covered each time and he wore a doo rag. The rapes occurred at night at various apartment complexes between June 2009 and July 2010. Detectives worked with the victims to compose a sketch of the suspect. He was described as in his 20s at the time. He stood 5’9” to 6’ tall, weighing between 160 and 200 pounds. The same suspect’s DNA was recovered at several of the crime scenes. 

    “The doo rag rapist is tied to at least eleven attacks,” said Police Lt. John Somerindyke, but detectives have not been able to identify him. Many states, including North Carolina, now take DNA samples of suspects accused of major crimes for identification purposes. 

    This subject’s DNA is not in the data base. Authorities said the attacks took place in Fayetteville and the Hope Mills area. None of the victims suffered any other injuries. Somerindyke said the perpetrator apparently stalked the women before forcing his way into their apartments and overpowering them. He knew they were alone at the time. Two of the victims told police he smelled strongly of cigarettes. At least one said she thought he was intoxicated.

    Most of the victims no longer live in Fayetteville, police said. “Victims of rape never get over the trauma of being assaulted, and are always looking over their shoulders,” said Somerindyke. 

    Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County provides companions to victims of rape. They are on call 24/7 for hospital and courtroom companionship. The organization provides victim advocacy and community networking, and conducts support group meetings throughout the year, according to its website. Detectives were awarded a federal grant to step up their investigations of cold cases that remain unsolved. They’ve identified hundreds of dated cases as far back as the 1980s. Lt. Somerendyke said older sexual assault cases are among the most difficult crimes to solve. 

    Technology, additional funding and the addition of private laboratories to augment the State SBI Lab have expedited investigations. Since the cold case unit’s formation less than three years ago, 17 perpetrators have been arrested in 21 rape cases. Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact the lead investigator, Detective John Benazzi, or phone CrimeStoppers at (910) 483-TIPS. Information can also be submitted to CrimeStoppers online at http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org or by texting a tip to 274637. In the text box type “4Tip,” followed by the message.

  • 05NewsDigest Nat RobertsonRobertson to Seek Re-election

    Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson is seeking a third term. “Since being sworn-in as Mayor in December 2013 as Fayetteville’s 35th Mayor, Fayetteville has become the envy of many Southern cities. In less than three and a half years, our city has accomplished more than any other administration in recent history,” Robertson said in a lengthy news release. Robertson had not indicated prior to this week’s announcement whether he would seek re-election. 

    He has said repeatedly he would do so if no one of a caliber he believed up to the task announced. City Councilman Kirk deViere has hinted that he might run. Robertson defeated deViere in 2013. “Your City Council has … been moving Fayetteville forward by working together as a team and setting good policy,” Robertson stated. “It is with great honor and humility that I again ask for your support to continue serving as Fayetteville’s Mayor. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the community Kim and I love so much,” he concluded. 

    Cumberland County Jail Health and Medicine

    The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has apparently decided it can get the jail healthcare system reaccredited if a private company does the work. The board has issued a request for proposals for firms to submit bids to provide health care services at the Cumberland County Detention Center.  The jail lost its accreditation last year when standards were changed and became more expensive to provide. Vendors interested in submitting proposals attended a conference and visited the site to view the facility and get a feel for the scope and nature of work to be performed in the detention center. Proposals must be submitted no later than May 18. Specifications are available online at: https://ccmunis.co.cumberland.nc.us/MSS/Vendors/default.aspx, or at the Finance Department, located in the Courthouse.

    Cumberland County School Chief Honored

    Dr. Frank Till, Jr., Superintendent of Cumberland County Schools, received the 2017 Raymond Sarbaugh Leadership Award at the North Carolina Association of School Administrators’ annual conference in Greensboro. The award is given annually to a member who has shown outstanding leadership in public school service as well as commitment to enhancing and supporting the efforts of the association on behalf of his or her fellow school administrators. 

    Dr. Till began his career in education as a middle school math teacher in San Diego, CA. In 1999 he was selected as Superintendent for Broward County Schools in Florida, which was at that time the fifth largest system in the country. He joined Cumberland County Schools as superintendent in 2009. His commitment to public education for all North Carolina students is demonstrated through his ongoing willingness to speak out publicly on important issues and take on leadership roles to engage his peers in advocating for good laws and policies that govern public school operations. 

    City Management Vacancies

    Fayetteville City Manager Doug Hewett has a lot of senior management positions to fill. His priority is replacing retired Police Chief Harold Medlock who left at the end of last year. He told Up & Coming Weeklyapplications have been closed, and he hopes to interview four to six finalists by the end of this month. Hewett’s goal is to hire a new chief by the end of June. There’s also a vacancy in an assistant city manager’s office. Replacing Rochelle Small-Toney is not a priority because Hewett said he first wants to reorganize his office. The director of Environmental Services retired recently. Planning and Code Enforcement Director Scott Shuford is retiring soon. And there are two assistant fire chief vacancies.

  • 04SpeedDid you know if you get caught speeding anywhere in the United States, the State of North Carolina can punish you — on top of whatever punishment you received from the state you were speeding in? 

    That’s right. According to North Carolina Statute § 20-16, North Carolina reserves the right to suspend your license for any crime committed in another state if that crime would result in a suspension here in North Carolina. 

    You might ask, well, what’s so bad about that? Let’s just say you get caught speeding in another state. You pay the ticket, or even get a lawyer and go to court. You go through the entire process. You think everything is over. 

    A few months pass and you receive notice from North Carolina. Your license will be suspended. This is exactly what happened to a North Carolina resident, an active duty soldier traveling in Alabama. When caught speeding, this LT did the responsible thing by not contesting and paying his ticket. Despite this, North Carolina punished him a second time, by suspending his license.

    As written, NC § 20-16 serves to unnecessarily punish North Carolina State Citizens — just because we call North Carolina home. We are not waived from punishment for violating the traffic crimes committed in other states. Just like every other United States Citizen, we are required to fulfill all punitive sentences for violations of that state law. This statute serves to add an additional punishment, beyond that of the original state. 

    When our citizens have fulfilled their duty for a traffic violation, it is unnecessary and unjust for North Carolina to submit them to additional punishments, simply because they are a North Carolina resident. This LT is a perfect example of how our citizens are burdened by this law. He “thought [I] was doing the right thing” by accepting responsibility and paying the ticket. 

    And he DID do the right thing. This LT is an upstanding, successful representation of North Carolina, as are the thousands of residents that travel throughout the country every year. 

    You might ask, don’t states have the right to punish how they want? Well, yes and no. Our constitution delineates a separation between federal and state powers. Essentially, states are allowed to govern themselves, but not 100 percent. This law acts as an overextension of North Carolina’s state powers. 

    States are given the ability to govern the action of their own citizens within their state; however, governing the actions of their citizens in every other state is an over reach of power. Additionally, this law violates the Double Jeopardy clause guaranteed in our constitution. 

    This clause prevents a citizen from being punished twice for the same crime. When a North Carolina Citizen violates a traffic law in another state, they are subject to the punishment. To punish a North Carolina citizen a second time amounts to a violation of the Double Jeopardy clause. 

    There is a reason our constitution created a balance between federal and state powers. The combination creates a balance for the American citizen — a balance that helps protect our individual rights. When this balance is thrown off, as in this case, we suffer. It’s time for North Carolina to revise this law, because as is, every resident could suffer, and many already have.

  • 03gymIt was a rather scathing question: “How did you feel when you were at your peak fitness?”

    I twitched a bit, and then responded, “Great.” The truth is I did feel great. But that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

    In middle school and high school, I was quite the athlete. I wrestled 135-lbs and played football. At that time in my life, it was nothing to run five miles and lift weights four to five days a week. Even in college, I lifted and played basketball four days a week. 

    At the peak of my fitness, I felt great. I even looked great … at least for me. Then life happened. I got a full-time job. I went on to graduate school. Got married and had four kids. The list goes on. Quickly, the gym routine fell from its place of priority in my life. 

    A few years ago, I started going to the gym again. I started re-shaping this tired, old body into a picture of fitness (or at least that’s the goal). At first it was slow. But now I’m making real strides: I ran the Rock-and-Roll Marathon last week in Raleigh!

    Our physical fitness is a great analogy of our spiritual fitness. 

    Do you remember back when you were really on fire for Jesus? When you read the Bible regularly? When you were consistent in your quiet times, prayers, church attendance?

    Let me ask you a question. How did you feel when you were at your peak fitness … spiritually? 

    I know my answer. “Great!” 

    But then life gets in the way. We start off with great strides. We’re studying, praying, reading, soaking it all in. Then life gets in the way. We miss a workout, then two, then a week and so on. 

    Consider the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. … I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

    With all the hype on physical fitness, shouldn’t we give at least equal priority to our spiritual fitness? Some dedicate hours a week to the local gym … yet minutes (if that) to their spiritual wellness. 

    Spend some time wrestling over God’s word. Sweat over your prayer list. Endure the process of becoming a follower of Christ. Let’s get back to our spiritual gym. Why not get a workout in today? 

    For help, consider taking the tuition-free “How to Study the Bible” class at Carolina College of Biblical Studies. Consider us your spiritual fitness trainer.

  • 02congressMany years ago, I asked my father what he viewed as the best form of government. His response was “a benevolent dictatorship.” I understood he was saying citizens would be best served by a dictator who had absolute authority, but loved the people he or she governed. My thinking was that the American system was working, and I did not need to give further attention to Daddy’s response. As I look at what is happening today in America by way of the actions and attitudes of politicians, especially those in Congress, I have tremendous appreciation for what Daddy said all those years ago. He understood that fair and productive governance only happens when those who govern love the people they govern. 

    This reflection on my part leads me to ask, “Members of Congress, do you love us?” That is, do these politicians, who primarily hold the future of this nation in their hands, love the citizens they represent and govern? Four experiences over the period March 19-26, 2017, cause me to ask this question. 

    On Sunday, March 19, Carol Day died. For several months, she had visited the Sunday school class that I am a part of at First Baptist Church (Anderson Street in Fayetteville). Anybody reading what I write correctly concludes that I am conservative in my thinking and beliefs.

     Suffice it to say, Carol was not in the same camp. Consequently, we had some serious discussions in class from two different perspectives. In every one of those exchanges, she was calm and measured in her comments, while I exhibited my usual passionate tone. As I have spent a lot of time thinking about those exchanges between Carol and me, I believe if we had needed to come to consensus on some issue to directly help people, we would have done so. We would have done so because of our shared love for people. That love for people would have mandated our reaching consensus.

    Then came my four-and-a-half-hour drive to Asheville, North Carolina, on March 23, for two days of facilitation training. All the way up, I listened to reports regarding Republican efforts to pass legislation in the House of Representatives that would repeal and replace Obamacare (mixed in was information on Senate action relative to confirmation of Judge Neal Gorsuch as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court). There was a parade of Republicans and Democrats to microphones. Some Republicans strongly supported the health care legislation, while others of the party vowed their opposition. Democrats did absolutely nothing other than repeatedly oppose the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, which is, without doubt, failing. 

    Among Republicans, opposition came from multiple groups and several individual members of Congress. I hold that chief among the opposing groups was the Freedom Caucus. This caucus is made up of over 35 members of the House who are committed to conservative values. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairs this group. Meadows and members of the caucus seemed to be endlessly, before cameras, voicing their opposition and seeming to bask in having the votes to defeat the proposed legislation. Even senators, such as Rand Paul, R-Ky., seemed to live in front of a camera while attacking the proposed legislation. In the end, the legislation was not presented for a vote because President Trump and Republican House leadership realized it would not pass. 

    The Democratic Congressional approach to addressing health care is consistent with their response to working with President Trump and the Republican majority in Congress on any matter presented by the president. To this point, that approach is to oppose whatever is put forth and to do so without making a rational argument. In addition to the proposed Obamacare repeal and replace legislation, this lack of rational argument was profoundly demonstrated in Democratic opposition to confirmation of Judge Neal Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court. It is clear that much of the Democratic opposition to Judge Gorsuch is rooted in Republican refusal to act on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the same seat. 

    That nomination was made on March 16, 2016, 10 months before the end
    of President Obama’s term. Republican Chuck Grassley represents Iowa in the United States Senate where he serves as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Lack of rational argument by Democrats shows in the following quotes from an opinion piece by Senator Grassley titled “The truth about Schumer, Democrats and Gorsuch:” “To many of us, it appeared to be a simple case of amnesia. They obviously had simply forgotten that both Senator Reid and Senator Schumer had declared that George W. Bush would get no Supreme Court nominees through the Democratic Senate more than 18 months before the end of his term. Or, even in 1992 when then-Senator Biden made clear his intentions in a long, detailed speech on the Senate floor outlining the reasons why the Senate wouldn’t consider a Supreme Court nominee of George H.W. Bush in his final year.”

    Anybody watching the nomination hearing for Judge Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee witnessed a brilliant presentation showcasing his command of the law, record of independence, strong sense of humility and focus on following the Constitution instead of prejudging cases or promising results.

    In the end, Judge Gorsuch was approved, but only after Republicans changed the rules in order to overcome Democratic opposition.

    The next experience occurred during the two days of facilitation training in Asheville. The course was “ToP Facilitation Methods” (ToP is Technology of Participation). I would call the course tagline, “The people of planet earth need ways to create their future together.” Quotes from the course workbook:

    “In Summary: ToP is not a technique for deciding something in a meeting. Nor is ToP a process that leaves people irritated and exhausted by the struggle to reach agreement.”

    “Top is both an empowering culture in which decisions get made, and a process that leaves people enlivened and motivated for action.” 

    Over the course of 16 hours together, eight strangers learned the ToP process and practiced the techniques. We became a united group and walked away with a valuable tool for leading people to consensus and commitment to action.

    The final experience was on Sunday, March 26. Stephanie Bohannon, assistant pastor at First Baptist Church, preached a sermon titled “The Questions Jesus Asks: ‘Do You Love Me?’” She spoke from that passage in John 21:15-17 where Jesus, three times, asked Peter, “…do you love me?” Every time, Peter answered yes, and every time, Jesus commanded him to take some action. Bohannon explained that Peter was answering the wrong question. He thought Jesus was talking about Philia which is a companionable love. She said Jesus, instead, was referring to agape. According to www.mcleanbible.org, “Agape desires only the good of the one loved.  It is a consuming passion for the well-being of others.” Jesus was calling Peter to go “above and beyond,” to take great risks on behalf of people.

    All of this brought me to realize Daddy was, in his statement about a benevolent dictatorship, saying that those who govern must have agape love for the governed. Remembering those exchanges with Carol Day reinforces that there is hope for consensus, even among those who disagree, when they share agape love for people who will be helped by the achievement of consensus. The facilitation training showed me how it looks when people seek consensus with a clear aim and because of love for those affected by the outcome. Stephanie Bohannon reminded me that this all-important agape love shows itself through actions, not meaningless words. Against the backdrop of these experiences, seeing how Congress handled the health care legislation and Gorsuch nomination prompted my “Do you love us?” question.  

    This thinking-through leads me to conclude there are some members of Congress who love us, but most don’t. Consequently, the American people need to be about determining who loves us and sending the rest home. Yes, it is definitely time to “Drain the Swamp.” 

  • 01mrrogersA million years ago, when I was a very little girl, my mother and grandmother — art lovers both — took me to Raleigh to visit North Carolina’s newly minted Museum of Art. Ours is the first state-funded art museum in the country, and its much grander current incarnation is the envy of states, even nations. That visit instantly turned a preschooler into a person who has sought out art in almost every place I have ever been. My first glance at that state-owned office-building-turned-art-museum took in a huge Gainsborough portrait of a woman wearing a full-skirted white satin dress. My mother saved that fine English painting just in the nick of time by scooping me up before I got my grubby little hands on what I thought was gleaming
    white fabric.

    I was hooked.

    A generation later, a Precious Jewel wept every afternoon when Mr. Rogers put on his cardigan to signal the end of that day’s program. He would toddle to the TV sobbing, “Don’t go, Mr. Rogers,” with such emotion that I eventually learned to get him out of the room just before the goodbye music began.

    He, too, was hooked.

    Such is the power of art and culture. We cannot quantify or measure them, but they enrich our lives and separate us from non-human beings on God’s green Earth.
    Arts and culture are not food, water, clothing or shelter, but few among us want to
    do without them. 

    It is now 2017 with a new generation of Americans eager to learn, but the president’s proposed budget would decimate funding for arts and humanities and public media. It would cut funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to a big fat zero and eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities altogether. No other president in our history has ever proposed such a drastic measure. Goodbye Bert and Ernie. Goodbye Downton Abbey and other Masterpiece Theater programming. Goodbye partnerships with state and local arts organizations like Arts Councils. Goodbye financial support for libraries, colleges and universities, and documentaries like Ken Burns’ The Civil War,viewed by 38 million Americans.

    Let’s put the money into perspective. 

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting received $445 million in the last federal budget, with the Endowments getting about $148 million each. That entire budget was a whopping $4 trillion, of which our investment in public broadcasting and the arts and humanities comprised a mere fraction. According to CPB President Patricia Harrison, that investment amounts to $1.35 per American per year. That federal funding is used to leverage contributions from other public and private sources, giving federal dollars more bang for each and every buck.

    Sounds like a deal to me.

    No less a heavyweight than retired Army General Stanley McChrystal, hardly a stranger to the Fayetteville-Fort Bragg community and certainly no effete wuss, thinks so, too. McChrystal shared his thoughts earlier this month in an op-ed column published in the New York Times. He made a strong case for public broadcasting, noting among other points that more American children do not attend preschool than do, and that public television is an important teaching tool for them. McChrystal also addressed a reality that keeps me up at night — our lack of national common experience, in other words, little national “glue.” 

    The general wrote, “Trust among Americans and for many of our institutions is at its lowest levels in generations, and stereotyping and prejudices have become substitutes for knowing and understanding one another as individuals. … Why would we degrade or destroy an institution that binds us together?”

    The president’s proposed budget includes a massive increase in defense spending, which the general also acknowledged. “We need a strong civil society where the connection between different people and groups is firm and vibrant, not brittle and divided. We need to defend against weaknesses within and enemies without, using the tools of civil society and hard power. We don’t have to pick one over the other.”

    No need to panic yet. Congress will parse and dissect the president’s proposal, and you can bet your bottom dollar that public broadcasting and arts advocates will be crawling the halls to lobby against the president’s stunning proposals. But there is plenty of room for concern. The CPB, NEA and NEH have been part of our national fabric for half a century, enriching and challenging Americans rich and poor, urban and rural, of all backgrounds and experiences. 

    We undo them at our peril.

  • OMG! Observing our local city and county elected officials interacting and trying to negotiate with one another is not a pretty sight. Sometimes, and all too often, they appear to be engaged in what resembles cage fighting. Brash, ruthless, violent and bloody with combatants battling for that all or nothing knock out. For us bystanders, another name for taxpaying residents, all we can do is shake our heads in dismay and wonder if Cumberland County has  been developed over an ancient sacred Indian burial ground and we have been forever cursed for this unholy desecration. One must ask themselves, is this tendency for unpleasantness, weak, self-centered, selfish and uncooperative leadership really a curse? Is it in our DNA  or is it actually a learned behavior handed down from generation to generation? 

    Well, personally I believe it is a little bit of everything,  but more of the latter. In my quest to find out why our local governments have such difficulty in cooperating, communicating and respecting each other, I have uncovered some words, terms and phrases all too frequently used in conversations when elected government officials are gathered together. So common are some of these that they have actually morphed into taking on their own specialized and customized meaning.  And, that is where I think the real problem lies. You can be the judge of that.  Even the most effective and respected elected officials and community leaders are sensitive to these terms and many know how to use and deal with them when they arise. This precarious glossary of terms and definitions is commonly referred to as the BS Chart and just may be the main source of the communication breakdown in our community. Here  are a few examples. Again, you can be the judge. If you are a community leader or an elected city or county official, take heed of the...

    Glossary (BS Chart) of Governmental Words, Phrases and Actions   

    Collaboration:We are meeting. We are  talking. We may even spend thousands of dollars on a consultant, but our minds are pretty much made up.

    Compliance:We must play by their rules or get our funding yanked.

    General Welfare: We know what you need, we tell you what you want, and don’t worry, it will never make fiscal sense.

    Cultural: We want government money under the cloak of diversity.

    DiverseUsually, depends on who is using it. This usually means the color, religion, gender and orientation of the person talking. 

    Good ol’ Boys: Yeah, we know each other, but, that doesn’t mean we like each other.

    Elitist: Them people with influence and money.

    My people-Your people: Uh, Oh! Conversation is becoming racial … regardless of your color.

    Social Justice: We are going to riot if you don’t give us what we want. 

    Poverty: You should start feeling guilty.  

    Advisory Board: We really don’t care what you think.  

    Donut Hole: Ooops! My bad. 

    Partner with: We can get more money if we work together
    on this.

    At risk: They are going to jail soon.

    Common Good: When we can’t justify the expense. This is the way you justify going after government grants and other funds.

    Quality of Life: See above.

    Reclassification: Giving a job a new name to justify a higher salary.

    Innovation: It’s above your head and you just wouldn’t understand.

    Monitoring: We have the responsibility to do this …. but, we don’t.

    Strategic Plan: The old plan did not work so we need to create a “new” plan to justify our existence.

    Staffing and Retention: We want more money.

    Transitional: Homeless.

    Working Poor: We can’t give them anything because they have a job. We can’t help them because we are too concerned with the slugs out there doing nothing and collecting government checks.

    Well, I think you get my point. Surely, those career politicians do. In conclusion, my advice to all city and county elected officials is that when you must come together, assemble together with a friendly, wholesome and productive attitude. Stay open-minded. Be free of bias and judgement. Then, during your negotiations or conversations, if you hear any of the above words or phrases used in any combination more than four or five times, just get up and politely excuse yourself and leave the room. Little will be accomplished. 

    On a more serious note, Cumberland County is on the grow. Opportunities abound and every community and township has a vested interest in our future success. Let’s put our energies into moving Fayetteville and Cumberland County forward. This cannot be done with words and phrases … only actions. We support this progress, and we support all those who are trying to make this a great community. 

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 01COVERYou can tell spring is in the air because motorcycle and car enthusiasts are talking about the upcoming 12th Annual Hogs & Rags Spring Rally on April 22. Over the years, the Hogs & Rags Rally has become known as one of the best and largest rallies in North Carolina. 

    The Hogs & Rags Rally is an annual event and is known as a first-class ride, but it also supports a variety of charities with lots of fun and miles in between. Since the beginning, the Hogs & Rags friends and sponsors have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities. This year, proceeds will go to support the Special Forces Charitable Trust, the American Cancer Society and the Kidsville News Literacy &
    Education Foundation. 

    The excitement starts at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum at 7 a.m., and at exactly at 9 a.m., the engines are on, the kickstands are up, the Cumberland County Sheriffs are chirping their sirens and the convoy starts moving. With Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson and his wife, Kim, as the Grand Marshalls (both are avid motorcyclists), the convoy heads out with hundreds of vehicles enjoying a police escort all the way to
    Myrtle Beach. 

    As the rally rolls through Tar Hill, riders take a little detour to Gardner Altman’s Rock’n-A-Ranch in White Oak. There, the group will be greeted by Julia Riley and volunteers from Bladen County’s Relay for Life Cancer Society, who will prepare a first-class country breakfast. 

    From there, the police will lead the group up to Tabor City for water and a bathroom break, where many of the riders remove their helmets as they cross over into South Carolina. Once riders arrive in Myrtle Beach, their final destination is Wild Wings Café at Barefoot Landing, where the
    party begins. 

    Last year, the event grew so much the Hogs & Rags committee had a hard time finding a place that could feed so many people. They chose Wild Wings Café, which turned out to be an excellent location. Here, the riders enjoy good food and fellowship. Here, the winners of the three-gun raffle, several auctions and an exciting 50/50 reverse raffle for $2,500 cash will be announced.

    The ride is $50 per entry per person. To some this seems like a lot of money for a rally, but remember this is a first-class event and supports multiple charities. Oh, and each person receives their own Hogs & Rags T-shirt. 

    At the heart of the event, it is the Hogs & Rags committee, volunteers and sponsors that work together to make this a success. Planning an event that travels over a hundred miles through two states and feeds about 425 people at two locations takes months to plan. 

    The event is a sanctioned Dogwood Festival event and is supported by many sponsors. This year’s premiere sponsors are Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson and the Fayetteville Automall, which is home to Fayetteville Kia, Acura, Volvo
    and Mitsubishi.   

    Fort Bragg is home to the Airborne and Special Operations Forces. Over the past 16 years, some of these men and women have known nothing but the hardships that the war has brought. 

    The Special Forces Charitable Trust has been helping these warriors and their families adjust and prepare for those realities to help improve their quality of life. The Charitable Trust helps service members mentally and spiritually, and also helps them focus while protecting our country. You can find out more at www.specialforcescharitabletrust.org

    Founded in 2011, the Kidsville News Literacy & Education Foundation is a nonprofit with a mission to support literacy-based initiatives nationwide. The National Assessment of Education Progress determined that nearly a third of American fourth-graders read below their reading level. To combat this issue, KNLEF annually awards grants to qualifying organizations that promote improving literacy, education and character development among America’s youth. 

    Oh, and if we are lucky, on the day of the event, Truman the dragon, the Kidsville News! mascot, will be visiting folks at the museum. 

    The American Cancer Society is one of the greatest organizations out there. At the American Cancer Society, they are working to free the world from cancer. Until they do, funding is raised for conducting research, sharing expert information, supporting patients and spreading the word about prevention. Everything they do is to help our friends, family and society live a better life. 

    The Hogs & Rags Rally is for all types of motorcycles and cars. So come out and experience one great ride! To register online, or for more information, please visit www.ragsandhogs.org.

  • 15WienandMorgan Wienand

    Cape Fear • Softball • Senior

    Wienand is a member of Cape Fear’s nationally-ranked defending 4-A Eastern champion softball team. She currently has a grade point average of 4.57.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    15IsaiahBennettIsaiah Bennett

    Pine Forest • Soccer/Baseball • Sophomore

    Bennett is a key player for both the Pine Forest soccer and baseball teams. He has a grade point average of 4.25 and is committed to play baseball at the University of North Carolina.

  • 14BaseballKnappGood baseball teams have been a tradition in Terry Sanford High School’s annual Easter break tournament. But this year, Bulldog coach Sam Guy may have outdone himself.

    “It’s a really good field,’’ Guy said of the three-day event that begins this Saturday at Terry Sanford’s field and continues on Monday and Tuesday.

    Terry Sanford and Jack Britt, both currently leading the chase for conference honors in the Cape Fear Valley 3-A and Mid-South 4-A respectively, head the local entries. The field also includes Southeastern 4-A Conference powers Richmond Senior and Pinecrest. 

    Other teams in the field are South View, Midway, Union Pines and Village Christian.

    Jack Britt coach Dr. Christopher Dague called the tournament one of the top tier events in the state. “There is a lot of parity,’’ he said. “It will be interesting to see how we match up.’’

    Pitching is crucial to success in any baseball event, but with the new pitching regulations the N.C. High School Athletic Association is using this year, the coaches will have to be careful about how they use their hurlers over the three-day run of the tournament.

    Terry Sanford has been led by Logan Brown and Damien Puczylowski. Through April 3, Brown is 3-1 and Puczylowski 3-0, Brown’s lone loss coming to
    Richmond Senior. Brown has an ERA of 1.00, Puczylowski 1.20.

    “They’ve been the guys that have started Tuesday and Friday for us,’’ Guy said. “Christian Jayne has thrown in a couple of big non-conference games. He beat Pinecrest.’’

    Dague’s leading pitchers through April 3 are Zach Knapp and Brennen Herbert. Knapp had a brilliant 17-strikeout performance in a big win over Pine Forest. His ERA as of April 3 was zero. He had a streak of over 30 innings with no earned runs.

    Herbert’s ERA is only 0.38 and his record is 5-0.

    Here is the tournament schedule:

    Saturday

    10 a.m. Union Pines vs. Midway; 1 p.m. Jack Britt vs. Pinecrest; 4 p.m. Terry Sanford vs. Village Christian; 7 p.m. Richmond Senior vs. South View.

    Monday

    10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m.

    Tuesday

    10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. (championship)

  • 13EasterTourneysaundersDouglas Byrd’s J. Hoyt Warren-Wayne Edwards Invitational, probably Cumberland County’s oldest Easter baseball tournament, continues its annual run this weekend. The Hoyt-Warren tournament annually draws a mix of local and Cape Fear region teams.

    This year’s event opens Saturday at 10 a.m. with Gray’s Creek facing Freedom Christian. Scotland and Seventy-First meet at 1 p.m., followed at 4 p.m. by East Bladen and E.E. Smith. The 7 p.m. game has Douglas Byrd facing Cape Fear.

    Play continues Monday at the same times, winners advancing against winners and losers against losers. The final round of games will be Tuesday, again at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

    • Fayetteville Academy senior Natalie Saunders recently scored a season high competing in the uneven bars, vault and all-around in the USA Gymnastics regional competition. Saunders now advances to the Region 8 competition the second weekend in May.

    • Village Christian Academy has named former NFL player Emerson Martin as its new head football coach. Martin, a native of Elizabethtown, replaces Russell Stone, who recently left Village to become head coach at Hickory High School. Martin, 46, attended college at Hampton and played briefly for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL. He heads an organization called Players2Pro, which helps high school athletes get recruited and signed by colleges. He’s also a former assistant coach at Raleigh Athens Drive, East Bladen and St. Augustine’s. This will be his first high school head coaching job. “He’s a great leader and great Christian man,’’ said Village athletic director Harold Morrison. “We’re excited about him taking over the next chapter of Village football.’’

    • Terry Sanford High School will hold the fourth annual Al Munoz Memorial 5K on Saturday, May 13, at 8 a.m. The entry fee is $25. For entry information and other general race questions, contact Donna Johnson at (910) 728-3702 or jjohn86100@aol.com.

    • The annual Region Four Coaches and Officials golf tournament is scheduled Sunday, April 23, at Gates Four Golf and Country Club. The tournament benefits the emergency fund sponsored by the coaches and officials which gives money to people facing a variety of personal crises. Check-in is at 11 a.m. with lunch at 11:45 a.m. and play starting at 1 p.m. The fee is $75 per person before April 18 and $85 after. You can also sponsor a hole or tee box for $100. For full information on entry or sponsorship, email Bill Henderson at boatq@aol.com or call (910) 964-0056.

  • 12Don the DonkeyA few weeks ago, I stopped my motorcycle near a creek to take a break. There was a donkey near the creek, and he started walking toward me. When I said, “Hi,” the donkey replied with, “Hay,” which blew me away. At first, I thought I was losing my mind. I was not sure if he was saying “hay” back to me or if he wanted hay. Now, this was not an ordinary donkey and he seemed pretty smart. While I was still in disbelief, the donkey looked at me and said, “Have you ever talked with a donkey before?” Quite extraordinary to say the least. I replied, “Donkeys don’t talk.” The donkey looked at me, amazed, and said he was a descendant from the talking donkey in the Bible. Then he smirked at me and asked me if I had ever seen Shrek. Still bewildered, I told him that I had heard of both, although I did not see the connection. Nonetheless, I asked him his name and he said he was not really sure because his owner never called him by a name. I asked him if I could call him Don and he nodded and said, “Yes, yes, I like that name.” 

    He asked me why I had stopped, and I told him that I needed a break and this seemed like a nice spot. He agreed and said it was his favorite spot in the pasture. We talked about what a wonderful day it was and about our travels. I told him I love to ride, and that I wanted to explore more of the country but I was having a hard time coming up with a place to go.

    He told me he has the same issue because he wanted to head somewhere new and exciting, but he never really executes his plans because he is concerned about the boundaries that surrounded him. He said he knew how to get out of his fence but was concerned about work and the other donkeys. He also had responsibilities. He had grass to eat and used to help his owner plow the garden, but he had not done that in a while. He looked toward a barn and I saw a John Deer tractor parked there. I looked at him and told him, “You have been replaced.” Don said, “I guess I don’t have to worry about that anymore then.” He said he really had it good there. He had a barn, food and occasionally someone like me to talk to, but he still had a yearning to explore. 

    I thought for a minute and said, “I often feel like I was surrounded by some imaginary, geographical fence that was keeping me within some boundaries in life. I have a job, responsibilities, a house, family and those pesky bills.” These things are not unique to me because everyone has these boundaries, but only a few of us seem to be able to break past our own fences. 

    Unlike Don, most humans have other factors we have to worry about. We have to figure out those things like time, money and distance. We can usually figure out two of the three factors. Any one of these will quickly limit our ability to keep moving. 

    I often try to figure out how people do some of these journeys. I’ve met a few people who have been able to take some great trips. I met a young couple that sold everything and bought a couple of Vespa-like scooters and traveled around the world. It took them a year to complete their journey. When they returned home, they had to start life over. I met a couple of guys in Nebraska who had traveled all around the United States. They work for a school system and ride their bikes until they run out of time. They find a rental shed to store their bikes in. Then they fly home. When they get more time off, they fly back out and pick up their bikes and continue on. I’ve also met a couple of people who own their own businesses. As long as they had their laptop, they were able to run their business from anywhere. Nice!

    Don explained to me that he really didn’t need to worry about anything like that. He just needed to get out of the gate, but admitted he was afraid of highways and cars. He said he wished he lived out west where he could travel for days without having to worry about traffic.

    We soon realized that as nice as it was to talk, neither of us could really help the other with our problems. At that point, I asked myself, “What are you doing talking to a donkey anyway?” I went to my bike and grabbed him an apple and we said our goodbyes. 

    Of course, this experience keeps me thinking about Don because we both had the same desires but neither of us could figure out how to get past our own fences. 

    If there is a topic you would like to discuss, you can contact me at motorcycle4fun@aol.com. 

  • 12ccmovieBeauty and the Beast (129 minutes) is based on my favorite animated Disney film. When I was younger, I watched the original once a month or so, and revisiting the story now was like slipping on a pair of comfy pajamas. I didn’t really need to watch it. I anticipated every line. When the live-action version diverted from the cartoon, I literally twitched. I like Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, but the eight years between the two actors seemed like a much bigger difference than it really is because she was Hermione in Harry Potterand he was Cousin Matthew in Downton Abby.

    Belle (Watson) is stuck in a village full of illiterate hicks. Her father (Kevin Kline) is emotionally absent and her suitor Gaston (Luke Evans) is verbally abusive. When her father is waylaid in his travels, she rushes to his rescue (not for the first time, I expect), in a classic parentified child move. She finds him in the enchanted castle of the Beast, who is, like, the fourth verbally and/or emotionally abusive man she has come across within a 30-minute time span. He imprisons her, yells at her and gives her lots of gifts to make up for his cruel treatment. Turns out she’s cool with that because she dresses up and goes dancing with him. Her father gets in trouble yet again, and the Beast sends her back so she can rescue him. For some reason, he thinks she might come back. For some reason, she does. Then her kidnapper kills her creepy stalker, and magic makes everything all better.

    I might be skimming over some of the finer details. Admittedly, there are two ways to look at this, and I am familiar with them both. On the one hand, it is an enjoyable family film, leaning on nostalgia and likable (and, more importantly, bankable) leads to tell a sweet and simple love story. On the other hand, it’s not a very healthy love story to tell. The Beast is an abusive kidnapper and, however much Watson tries to sell her Belle as empowered, there is nothing here to empower her with. What message does it send to girls? Love angry, violent, men and they will shower you with gifts? Men are selfish and can do whatever they want, and girls just have to sing pretty songs and deal with it? Girls need to take care of everyone except themselves? Everyone should go watch Legionbecause Dan Stevens is so awesome? OK that last one is actually a very positive message. Legion is 50 shades of fabulous.

    But I digress. Probably because everyone on Earth knows the story and the Disney cartoon version of the story, and not much has changed. There are a couple of new (and … terrible. Just … terrible) songs. There is a little extra magic, and the transformation of the castle folk into knick-knacks is given a bit more context. It is a huge issue with the original version that the witch chose to punish the castle servants when their only real sin was working for a selfish narcissist. Here, Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) explains that the servants were complicit in the bad behavior of the prince, and thus shared his fate. Also, in this version, when the witch cast her spell, she also made everybody forget that the prince, castle and servants ever existed, which means approximately half the village lost family they no longer remember ever having. Ends and means aside, that witch is kind of a bad person.

    Overall, I enjoyed it. The Disney machine made enough money that they will no doubt speed into production several more animated properties. I can’t say I’m looking forward to The Lion King, but my kids will probably love it.

    Now playing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.

  • 12C STEPA German proverb shares this message: “Our passions are winds that propel our vessel. Our reason is the pilot that steers the vessel. Without winds, the vessel would not move, and without a pilot, she would be lost.” This proverb exemplifies my beliefs and thoughts about former FTCC student Sarah Floroshuma, a C-STEP student who graduated from FTCC in 2015 and will graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. 

    Floroshuma not only performed well academically at FTCC, she also excelled in the nursing program at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she earned the James M. Johnston Scholars Scholarship. 

    “Initially, the nursing program and the academic rigor were challenges. However, with the emotional support and encouragement I received, I was able to find the needed strength and determination to use my passion for helping others as my strength,” Floroshuma said. She attributes her ability to care for her sickly grandparents as one of the defining moments that helped her confirm her desire for a career in nursing. 

    “After graduating high school in Nigeria at age 16, I took on the role of caretaker for my elderly and sickly grandparents. This experience taught me a lot about inner strength and provided the insight I needed to clarify my career aspirations. I feel that nursing is my calling, and I couldn’t imagine pursuing any other career.”

    The Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP), housed in the office of Undergraduate Admissions at UNC-Chapel Hill, seeks to admit, identify, enroll and graduate high-achieving students with low-to-moderate income seeking to transfer to UNC-Chapel Hill from partnering community colleges. The students who participate in this program are inspiring, intelligent, hard-working and dedicated students, and Sarah fits this description perfectly. 

    Floroshuma explained the huge impact being a recipient of the James M. Johnston Scholarship has had on her life. “This has allowed me to remain somewhat independent and not burden my father who has deployed over three times in the past two years. Because of the legacy of the scholarship and the Carolina Covenant, I will graduate debt free, and that’s a blessing. I want other students to know how being a part of C-STEP helped me solidify my dreams and career goals and allowed me to spread my wings and grow. And it all began at FTCC,” she said.    

    Fayetteville Tech partnered with UNC-Chapel Hill in 2011 to establish this premier program. C-STEP focuses on community college students whose household incomes fall at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, and potential candidates are reviewed holistically.    

    The next step in Sarah’s journey will continue to offer her challenge filled with real-world experiences, but through FTCC and UNC-Chapel Hill, she is well positioned on her journey to satisfy her passion, her goals and her dreams.

    Learn more about C-STEP at FTCC by reaching out to me, Loutricia Nelson, at nelsonl@faytechcc.edu or (910) 678-8205.

  • 11SURGEWhen Jordon Rosas was in high school, he used to daydream about a place where teens could gather for good clean fun — a place for dancing and talking and hanging out. It would be a place where everyone felt welcome and people could be themselves while having a good time. Rosas is 24 now, and he believes more strongly than ever that Fayetteville needs a place like the one he dreamed about in high school. So he opened one — Club Surge, located at 2000 Owen Drive.

    While Club Surge has been hosting events for several months, it is now, as of April 8, open to the public. Designed for patrons ages 13-18, Club Surge has two VIP levels and offers a variety of effects, including UV lights, glow lights, black lights, glow bands, glow sticks and black light bubbles to create a lively atmosphere.

    “Kids always want to do parties,” said Rosas. “I had property and we had a bonfire there one night. We had a big turnout and I thought it would be neat if we could do this regularly.” 

    He decided to make his dream from high school a reality. “I worked hard to put a business plan together and decided it was time to make it happen,” he said.

    The most important thing to Rosas was making sure the space he created would be a place people would be comfortable and want to socialize. In today’s age of electronics and digital devices, Rosas wanted to give people a place to connect on a more personal level — face to face. “This is a social environment. It is designed for people to come listen to music and meet new people,” he said. “I have a lot of comfortable furniture and the VIP sections have servers that will bring soda and water for people to drink. My DJ does a really good job of playing songs that get people on the dance floor. Kids like to stay on phones, etc., I am trying to get them back to interacting with each other. They are always on social media and that is kind what surge is about — making new friends. I believe this generation has a love of music and dancing.”

    To keep things fun, Rosas knows it is important to keep his patrons safe, so he has prioritized that. No drugs, alcohol or weapons are permitted on or near the club’s property. This is also a non-smoking club. The on-site security team is there to ensure everyone can have a good time in a fun and safe environment. No backpacks or large purses are allowed. Patrons are scanned with  a security  wand by the security team and bags are checked upon entry. There is a coat check area for guests to store their coats and bags. Rosas added that all customers must have a state or school-issued ID. Memberships are available, but are not required. Visit https://www.clubsurge.com/ to find out more.

  • 10 DUCK DERBYFayetteville Urban Ministry presents the 7th annual Duck Derby Sunday, April 30 at 3 p.m. at Festival Park. 

    “Duck Derby is the most fun and it is our biggest local fundraiser in the city,” said Johnny Wilson, executive director of Fayetteville Urban Ministry. “We are the closing act of the Dogwood Festival.” 

    The fundraiser generates money for Fayetteville Urban Ministry and other nonprofit organizations and schools. “Anybody that partners with us can rake in proceeds, too, because folks can adopt ducks to support their favorite nonprofit or Cumberland County School,” said Wilson. 

    “To adopt a duck is $10, so what happens is, if you want to support the Special Olympics, then the Special Olympics will get half of the $10 which is $5,” Wilson explained. He added that there is a competition. The school or nonprofit organization that gets the most duck adoptions in their name will win the “Best Partner Nonprofit” and will receive extra proceeds, love and recognition. 

    The cost of one duck adoption is $10. Adopt six ducks for $50, 12 ducks for $100 and so on. “Our goal is to race 5,000 or more ducks,” said Wilson. “The ducks will race in Cross Creek in Festival Park under the walkover bridge.” The first place duck will win a 2017 25-foot Toy Hauler camper; second place will win free groceries for a year from Food Lion; third place will win free groceries for a year from Super Compare Foods; fourth place will win $500 cash; fifth place will win a new set of tires from Ed Tire’s; sixth place will win a large flat-screen TV from Wal-Mart; seventh place will win a free one-year membership to the Renaissance Spa Fitness and Wellness Center; and the duck that comes in last place will win a camping tent and a jar of molasses. “The theme behind the camping tent and a jar of molasses is to get your camping tent so you can go hang out with the folks who won the camper, so they can show you how to do it, because you are slow as molasses,” said Wilson. “Winners do not have to be present on the day of the race to receive prizes.” 

    Fayetteville Urban Ministry is a nonprofit organization that consists of four programs that provide faith, love, hope and security to Cumberland County residents free of charge. These programs are the Find-A-Friend Youth Program, an Adult Literacy Program, the Nehemiah Project and Emergency Assistance. 

    If you would like paper duck adoption forms, you may go to any of the nonprofit organizations and they will have the forms on hand so you can mail in your duck adoption. Purchase ducks online by visiting www.fayurbmin.org/ and clicking the icon. For more information, call 483-5944 or visit www.fayettevilleduckderby.com. 

  • 09 hop in parkOn April 14, Epicenter Church will host an Easter celebration called Hop in the Park for the entire community. It will be held in Festival Park and will feature all sorts of fun activities for the entire family. “This is the fifth annual event, and we could not be more excited,” said Pastor Mark Knight. “Last year we had 25,000 people, and we are expecting even more this year. It includes giant Easter egg hunts, huge inflatables, carnival rides, a big screen movie, free food and a lot more,” Knight added. The food available will be pizza, popcorn, hotdogs, cotton candy and water. The food will be entirely free while supplies last. 

    The main feature of Hop in the Park is the Easter egg hunt. The last two years there have been 20,000-25,000 people in attendance, so the hunt will be massive. In fact, organizers have tripled the amount of food and events since the inaugural event in 2013. “Thousands of empty eggs are spread out over a wide area for kids to find over a two-minute period and are then traded for bags full of candy. The eggs are then cycled back into future hunts. Since we do approximately 40-50 egg hunts between our two age groups (0-5 and 6-12), we estimate that we will cycle through well over 200,000 eggs,” Knight explained.

    Organizing such a large event takes hours of planning and preparation. It is possible thanks to the hard work of church members and volunteers and the generosity of local businesses. “We need hundreds of volunteers to make this event run effectively.
    Also, since we offer it completely free, we have to work pretty hard to raise the funds to pay for everything. It costs us over $80,000 and would cost much more without local businesses being willing to offer discounts to help us make things work,” Knight said.

    Knight said all of this effort is worth it because of the joy it brings to the community. “We want to be known as a church that gives things away. We have a community service initiative called Ways 2 Love Fayetteville where we try to give away 20,000 hours of community service each year,” Knight explained. “Those two parts of who we are as a church, combined with how much we love to have fun and how important families are to us, made us want to do something BIG to celebrate Easter with the city. After a few other ideas, we landed on this one: A giant Easter festival where families from all over can come and have a great time!”

    While the entire community is invited to attend, pre-registration is required because of the expected turnout. Attendees will be given “passports” to access the events and food as some are restricted to one per person. Only one person from each party is required to register. Parties can pre-register online in order to speed up the process on the day of the event. For more information or to pre-register, visit the event website at http://www.hopinthepark.com. 

  • 08 baskervilleBaskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, showing at Cape Fear Regional Theatre through April 25, is playwright Ken Ludwig’s take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved 1902 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. The show, carried by CFRT veteran Ken Griggs as Holmes and New York-based Harron Atkins as Watson, runs on playful, imaginative and smart storytelling.

    Griggs and Atkins are supported by James Beaman, Luke LaMontagne and Molly Malone, who between the three of them comprise the rest of the cast they each play at least three different characters throughout the show. 

    Director Sam French said that for Baskerville, he began working with his artistic team even earlier than he normally would. That team includes Scenic Designer Lucy Pope and Costume Designer Lizzie Donelan. French said he loves Ken Ludwig’s approach in the script. “It takes a classic story that’s meant to be read and has been designed to … only use the reader’s imagination, and now invites the audience’s imagination and the creative team’s imagination,” he said. 

    The creative team took that invitation wholeheartedly and created a world that urges audience members to follow suit. Under their vision, the actors create trains, horse carriages and even entire buildings out of almost nothing. Delicate paper-cut silhouettes whimsically dance across the background. The fourth wall is never broken because it never really gets erected. Though I initially resisted, I couldn’t help but be pulled into world-building with them the delight and inventive silliness and of it all was irresistible. 

    The moment that really got me was this: Holmes and Watson are onstage, engaged in heated dialog as they try to figure out their next move. Suddenly, from the shadows stage right, a coil of thick rope is thrown to Holmes. As he continues to talk, he passes one end of the rope to Watson. “I know!” he suddenly cries. “We’ll go to the (office)!” He and Watson have created the outline of a door frame with the rope as he says this, and, bursting with resolution and dignity, they step under the rope and into the “office.” 

    But not everything in Baskerville is created with only imagination. I was impressed with the primary set piece, a sloping, zig-zagging ramp, and the way it believably transformed with only context and perhaps a prop here or there added or subtracted. Scenic Designer Pope and Scenic Artist David Rawlins did a fantastic job.  

    Structure aside, supporting cast members Beaman, LaMontagne and Malone are extremely likeable and often hilarious in all their iterations. Lighting Designer Aaron Porter deserves mention, too, as his artful decisions imbued the whole thing with a sense of beauty and warmth. 

    Maybe you have to be there to understand the glory of that scene I described with the rope. And maybe that’s the point. I’m a firm believer that if it doesn’t make you say, “You’ve got to see it in person!” it probably isn’t worth seeing at all. Baskervilleabsolutely passes this test. 

    Tickets to see Baskerville at CFRT cost $15-$25 and can be purchased by visiting www.cfrt.org or calling 910-323- 4233. Show times fall at 7:30 p.m. or 2 p.m. depending on the day. Baskerville runs through April 25.

  • 07 911Some Cumberland County Commissioners, who serve on a task force that is developing a combined City/County 911 operations center, are disappointed in the proposed organizational structure. The task force of commissioners, members of Fayetteville City Council and public safety officials met last week. It was their third meeting on the proposed consolidation of 911 service. 

    Consultants with Mission Critical Partners of Raleigh hope the task force can agree to terms of joint responsibility to meet a May 31 deadline to apply for available state grants. Commissioners Jimmy Keefe and Jeanette Council balked at the suggestion that City government would operate the 911 center. Asked if she thought the County should be in charge, she responded with a sharp “yes.” Council said she assumed all along that the multimillion-dollar facility would be managed by County government. Commissioner Jimmy Keefe, who has experience on City Council, said he couldn’t support the proposition until he learned more of the details. Keefe objected to differences between City and County officials being “discussed in a public setting.”  

    Because 60 percent of emergency calls for service are in the city, Mission Critical Partners proposed that it be in charge of operations. The consultants’ proposal is for the County to be the grant sponsor. Their recommendation was modeled after combined 911 centers already in place in Guilford and Wake Counties, where Greensboro and Raleigh take the lead. Ironically, local public safety officials including the sheriff, rural fire departments and emergency management professionals support the concept as presented and have done most of the planning. 

    “This is a good program,” said Freddie Johnson, president of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association. “Each of the user agencies would have input” as to operational protocols, said Assistant County Manager Tracey Jackson. The user group would consider detailed recommendations and present them to a joint advisory committee. County and City managers would provide joint oversight. Consultants are encouraging the task force to focus first on securing available state grants. To qualify, the task force must come to agreement on governance and who will what. Then it will turn its attention to the cost and location. 

    The need for a combined 911 facility intensified after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania. Actual consideration of a local, merged 911 department has been under consideration for about ten years.  

    Fayetteville and Cumberland County operate separate 911 emergency dispatch centers in City hall and the County law enforcement center. They do not meet contemporary survivability standards in the event of an attack. Officials recommend that communications facilities be located outside urban centers. A 40,000-square-foot 911 headquarters is proposed to be located on city-owned property on Fields Road off Cedar Creek Road. It would be a fortress-like, hardened building capable of withstanding a category four hurricane. City and county officials have agreed to a price tag of about $30 million. Keefe has said previously that it’s important for everyone to understand the need for
    this facility.  

  • 06ShawFayetteville City Council supports a bill in the state House of Representatives that provides local legislation, which would grant the City extraterritorial jurisdiction of Shaw Heights beginning in July. Rep. Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland), who represents the impoverished area surrounded by the City, filed the bill on his own accord. He asked Council to endorse the measure, and Monday night the body did just that. 

    Councilman Ted Mohn crafted the resolution of support which also advocates the eventual annexation of the doughnut hole by July 1, 2020. Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin intially opposed the resolution, but reluctantly agreed to it after receiving assurances that other urban areas like Eureka Springs will be considered for annexation in the future. “I support fixing the problem,” he said. “Let’s do it right or let’s not do it,” Colvin added. 

    This would not be a typical annexation. In recent years, the Republican-controlled General Assembly has done away with statutes that formerly gave cities involuntary annexation authority. So, for a veteran member of the House to propose a legislative annexation is rare. Floyd has felt for years that the distressed community of rental mobile homes, massive junk yards, illegal dumps and roadside debris needed to be in the city properly so urban services could be provided. 

    Mayor Nat Robertson has accused Cumberland County government of ignoring the needs of Shaw Heights, and as a result forcing the city’s hand. Others contend the city of Fayetteville intentionally ignored the area when it annexed everything around it over the years.

    Shaw Heights, off Murchison Road near the future I-295, is the area north of Shaw Road that connects Murchison Road to the east with Bragg Boulevard to the west. A community known as Julie Heights is south of Shaw Road. It’s almost as if the road itself over time became a demarcation line separating a loosely defined poverty-stricken area of rental trailers from a middle class neighborhood of modest single-family homes, many of which are owner-occupied. If granted extraterritorial jurisdiction this summer, the city would provide police protection, solid waste collection and street maintenance. The city already provides fire protection to the area under contract with County government. The only rural fire station that previously served Shaw Heights was closed many years ago. The Public Works Commission would be required to begin providing water and sewer utilities within three and a half years of the annexation.    

  • 05Inasmuch“Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” 

    — Matthew 25:40

    It was 22 years ago that a group of local church congregations came together to activate a common goal — to do something for those less fortunate than themselves. David Crocker, then-pastor of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, organized the group and Fayetteville’s Operation Inasmuch was born. They partnered with Fayetteville Urban Ministry initially to reach out to the community. The objective was to help families in need make basic repairs to their homes. Volunteers would provide the labor, corporate partners would, in some instances, provide the materials. Others would sell supplies at reduced prices.

    Operation Inasmuch worked closely with the Fayetteville Redevelopment Department to qualify for small Community Development Block Grants. “We found we could work on 20 homes for the same money that the government would do two,” said Executive Director Sue Byrd. Volunteers from as many as two dozen churches scoured older neighborhoods looking for single-family owner-occupied homes that needed minor repairs. “It was quite an undertaking,” Byrd said. Over the years, hundreds of homes have been worked on, from minor roof and siding repairs to hand railings and steps. The so-called “blitz days” were held twice a year at first, but have been scaled back to one annual undertaking in the spring.

    Since 2009, Operation Inasmuch has expanded its outreach to become a beacon of hope for the homeless. “We are not enablers,” said Byrd. She said the organization provides opportunities to the homeless. “They’ve got every chance in the world if they want it.” Inasmuch is headquartered on donated property on Hillsboro Street at the corner of Chance Street. 

    The charity serves breakfast to the needy weekday mornings, and serves as a clearing house for information needed by street people. Byrd is quick to confirm what other officials have said that area panhandlers are not homeless. They are professional beggars who take advantage of “our community’s abundance of compassionate people.” Operation Inasmuch encourages people not to “street feed” the homeless but to support local agencies which provide meals. “When people share a meal together, their lives are nourished; they’re not just fed,” Byrd said.

    The organization’s most recent undertaking was the grand opening of The Lodge, a shelter for men. It’s diagonally across the street from the ministry’s office on Chance Street, and provides overnight stays for up to 40 men. The facility has a kitchen, restrooms and showers plus a day room for various activities. Two dormitories are lined with Spartan-like single beds. It’s much more than a place to sleep, said Byrd. An individual, once screened, can stay free for one week so long as he does his chores and spends his days looking for work. Phase two requires that the tenant pay $5 a night and be registered with NC Works at the state employment office nearby. 

    During the third phase of residency, once men have gotten jobs, they are rewarded with semi-private rooms, again for $5 a night. Ultimately, successful residents can move into one of the half dozen homes Operation Inasmuch owns on nearby Frink Street. They are issued keys to their homes and pay $225 a month for rent. Up to five men have separate bedrooms in each house. Fayetteville Operation Inasmuch’s stated purpose is “to go outside the church walls to a world in need, offering the talents and gifts with which we have been blessed.”

  • 06ShawThose Dam Repairs

    Fayetteville City Council wants to update its policy governing the repair of local dams. Several dams were breached during Hurricane Matthew six months ago. Council’s discussion of the matter last week was eerily similar to what Congress went through while dealing with a new health care proposal. Councilman Jim Arp made three attempts to modify a policy, which every Council member agreed is outmoded.

    He first made a motion to repeal the existing ordinance and come up with a new one. Councilman Kirk deViere objected to repealing the measure and Arp agreed to revise the existing policy. Others objected to that, so Arp returned to his original idea of repealing the ordinance altogether and directing staff to come up with a new three-pronged policy. City Manager Doug Hewett isn’t sure it would pass legal muster though. It would acknowledge that some private dams have public roads like the one at Arran Lake. Some public dams have public roads like the one in Van Story Hills. And in some other cases, there are private dams with private roads. The Arran Lakes Homeowners Association wants the city to help pay for repairing their private dam. “We’ll give the road over the dam to the city in return,” said HOA Treasurer Elmer Capps. “The problem I have is finding a public purpose for spending tax dollars on a private dam,”
    said Hewett. 

    Flood Prevention of Another Sort

    Twice in the last 20 years, major flooding has occurred near downtown to the extent that Cross Creek came out of its banks along Murchison Road and Bragg Boulevard. It happened most recently during Hurricane Matthew. 

    In mid-September of 1989, an eight-inch torrential rainfall inundated Fayetteville, taking two lives. 

    In both instances, water from the overflowing Cross Creek stood 5 feet deep where Bragg Boulevard intersects with Rowan Street. The State Department of Transportation is taking steps that will significantly reduce the likelihood of flooding there in the future. A bigger culvert will be constructed where the new Rowan Street Bridge and relocated city streets will pass over Cross Creek, said DOT construction engineer Randy Wise. “The new culvert is much larger than the old,” he said. A temporary channel will carry the water away from the creek bed while the culvert is built. “Once the culvert is complete, the water will be diverted through it,” Wise added.

    Barricaded City Streets 

    Two years ago, the City of Fayetteville barricaded a pair of downtown city streets to help fight crime. Working with emergency services, Traffic Engineer Lee Jernigan had temporary “Street Closed” barriers erected near the Eastern Boulevard intersections of Link and School Streets. “There was a high level of crime in the area,” said Police Captain James Nolette. 

    Those barricades have become permanent. Closing off the streets was one of the strategies designed to reduce crime as suggested by the B Street Coalition of residents. Real-time closed-circuit surveillance cameras monitored at police headquarters were another element of the effort. A Link Street neighborhood watch group has become actively involved in efforts by residents to reduce drug dealing and prostitution. “We’ve seen a drastic reduction in crime since the barricades were put up,” said Nolette. 

    Small Business Workshop

    The U.S. DOT Small Business Transportation Resource Center and Fayetteville Area System of Transit are hosting a small business workshop Thursday, April 20 from 3 -5 p.m. It will be held in the FAST Headquarters Conference Room located at 455 Grove Street. City spokesman Nathan Walls said the workshop will focus on accessing small business capital, maintaining adequate cash flow, acquiring capital for business expansion and finding nontraditional funding sources. Local lenders will be on hand to discuss the small business funding options. Registration can be completed at: https://fast2017-funding.eventbrite.com. 

    Building Business Rally

    Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission recently held a business workshop. City agencies have been in the forefront of reaching out to local, small businesses to attract interest. PWC has a department that is responsible for the procurement of materials, supplies, services and equipment to enable the efficient operation of the utility. The department also oversees and administers bids and contracts related to electric, water and sewer construction. PWC hosted its spring Building Business Rally last week at its operations center on Old Wilmington Road. Local vendors met with representatives of PWC’s many departments to learn about their supply, equipment and service needs. PWC is also aggressively seeking contractors involved in the Small Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. This program works to increase the participation of disadvantaged businesses in its procurement opportunities.

  • 03HB2There was big news last week! Carolina again won the national basketball championship, and the North Carolina General Assembly repealed HB2 bathroom bill.

    How are those two issues connected? Well, North Carolina basketball — whether you’re talking about UNC or even Duke — has made a bundle of money for the Atlantic Coast Conference over the years. 

    However, both the ACC’s and NCAA’s political stance on HB2 has taken a lot of money from North Carolina.

    Last September, the ACC’s Council of Presidents secretly voted to move its 2016 and 2017 league championships from North Carolina venues to other states after the General Assembly in March passed HB2. Among those voting were UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson. The NCAA’s position was in lockstep with the ACC.

    The vote by the ACC presidents aimed to punish the Tar Heel state’s General Assembly for passing what it considered a discriminatory law. HB2 negated the City of Charlotte’s ordinance by requiring transgender people using public bathrooms, showers or changing rooms to do so according to their sex on their birth certificates. Charlotte’s ordinance allowed transgender individuals to use those facilities based on the sex they identify with.

    There was more attached to the bill, but the bathroom issue rose to the top of the heap and became the lightning rod for social justice advocates.

    It’s not the first time a nonprofit, tax-exempt collegiate sports organization has taken a political stance. Until last year, the NCAA boycotted South Carolina because it flew a Confederate battle flag. The flag flies no longer, and this year South Carolina again is in the NCAA’s good graces. It’s where UNC met Arkansas.

    But guess what? On April 18, the NCAA decides where it will hold championship events from 2018 through 2022. The ACC Council of Presidents also plans to revisit its position on the matter. So, will the General Assembly’s repeal of HB2 bring back NCAA championship events to North Carolina?

    But there’s a problem with HB142, the law that repeals HB2. Both the extreme left and the extreme right don’t like it. The LGBTQ community wants to totally repeal it.

    HB142 resets the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. 

    The new law also preempts state agencies and local governments from regulating access to restrooms, showers or changing rooms. The new law also puts a moratorium on local government ordinances that regulate private employment practices and public accommodations. That moratorium expires in December 2020.

    Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s statement about HB142 asked
    two questions:

    1. If HB2 was right, then why should it be repealed?

    2. However, if it was wrong, then why wait until 2020?

    He also referred to the NCAA’s boycotting actions as “corporate extortion” from a nonelected, out-of-state, tax-exempt organization.

    On the other side is Mayor Jennifer Roberts. Under her leadership, the Charlotte City Council passed the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. It triggered the General Assembly to pass HB2. The reasoning, according a majority of legislators, was that the Charlotte ordinance overreached its authority under state law.

    Roberts reportedly chided fellow Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper for signing HB142 and called it a “false repeal.”

    Now, one more crazy thing. The City of Charlotte also released a statement. But its statement differs from that of the mayor. It said the City of Charlotte is pleased with the passage of HB142. The city’s spokeswoman released the statement after checking with the council. 

    So, with all the different spins on the repeal of HB2, I wonder how the NCAA and ACC Council of presidents will interpret the new law. And my question remains: how does a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization have so much political clout?

    Several North Carolina legislators are asking the same question. In fact, they’ve filed House Bill 328, The Athletic Association Accountability Act. If enacted, the law would require chancellors from publically funded universities or colleges to disclose how they voted. The law also would ask the IRS to investigate whether the ACC and NCAA violated their tax-exempt status by trying to influence laws passed by a legislative authority.

  • 02PITTDICKEYGleemAd illustrationI was recently thinking about toothpaste ads from the 1960s. Toothpaste slogans and jingles of yesteryear are unmatched by today’s ads. More about the jingles later. Pondering old toothpaste ads sent me down a rabbit hole recalling Colonel Jack D. Ripper’s wisdom about tooth decay. Let us never forget the words of Colonel Ripper in America’s favorite movie, Dr. Strangelove. In 1964, Colonel Ripper was both the free world’s leading authority on dental hygiene and the spiritual founder of the Congressional Freedom Caucus. Colonel Ripper proclaimed, “I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” Gentle reader, in the unlikely event you have not watched Dr. Strangelovein the last six months, Colonel Ripper was talking about the evils of fluoridation.

    Colonel Ripper explained his theory: “Do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, ice cream? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. That’s the way your hardcore Commie works. I first became aware of it during the physical act of love. Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I assure you it has not recurred. Women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women... but I do deny them my essence.” 

     Let us go then, you and I, preserving our precious bodily fluids while considering old toothpaste ads. How shall we begin? Do we dare to eat a peach? Nah, that’s J. Alfred Prufrock stuff, measuring out his life in coffee spoons. We are concerned with teeth, not spoons. Secret ingredients were the order of the day in the early ‘60s. Gleem was the toothpaste for people “who could not brush after every meal.” Its secret ingredient was GL-70, which cleaned your teeth and fought mouth cooties. Ipana toothpaste was pushed by Bucky Beaver, a cartoon rodent who sang, “Brusha, brusha, brusha, here’s the new Ipana.” Colgate Dental Cream’s secret sauce was Gardol, providing an invisible protective shield that kept tooth decay and bad breath away all day with just one brushing. A Gardol salesdude stood outside while a football player threw a football at his head. Whack! The football would bounce off the invisible protective shield around the salesman. This demonstrated how Gardol would protect your breath from gingivitis and your head from errant footballs. I really liked that ad.

    Crest’s ad campaign starred kids coming home from the dentist with a dental report card cheerily proclaiming at the top of their lungs, “Look Ma, no cavities.” It was a proud moment for the entire family. Bill Cosby appeared in a number of Crest ads as a boxer named Mr. Tooth Decay. Bill would box a hanging punching bag that was a giant tube of Crest. The Crest punching bag would eventually win and knock Bill down. Bill had some later issues with knockout drops in another context.

     The late lamented Stripe toothpaste had a really cool secret ingredient — Hexachlorophene — which was touted as a germ killer. Stripe’s gimmick was that when you squeezed the tube, a stream of red Hexachlorophene magically appeared, marking your toothpaste with groovy stripes. One Stripe ad featured a peppy chorus singing, “ Stripe is the cleaningest tooth paste/It’s got Hexa, Hexa, Hexachlorophene.” Another Stripe ad boasted “It looks like fun/Cleans like crazy.” Stripe toothpaste ads were particularly attractive to kids. I used Stripe myself. Turning the tube while squeezing made the red stripes go in a circle around the white inner tooth paste like a candy cane. Unfortunately Stripe was eventually pulled off the market due to a little glitch. Turns out that in addition to Hexachlorophene killing germs, if swallowed it could also lead to convulsions and respiratory failure as an added bonus. You might have seizures, but if you bit your tongue it would be with bright and shiny germ-free teeth, thus cutting down on the chance of infection. 

     Colonel Ripper warned us about the dangers of fluoride. It would be interesting to learn his position on toothpaste packed with red stripes of Hexachlorophene. Red is the favorite color of the Commies, so I suspect Colonel Ripper might also determine that Stripe was a Commie plot even more nefarious than fluoridation. 

      Remember, you only have to floss the teeth you want to keep.

  • 01PubPenWhen the General Assembly is asked to entertain or introduce a bill that affects the citizens of a municipality, the legislative delegation assumes that the municipality’s leaders are in 100 percent agreement with the terms of the request. Otherwise, they would not want to risk alienating their constituents, and no one ever wants to be on the wrong side of bad legislation.

    So, it would also be silly to think that prospective corporate entities scouting out Fayetteville/Cumberland County to locate their businesses or industries here would not be looking for the same assurances. Of course they would. And our community would fare much better in attracting industry if our City and County elected
    officials were a little more sensitive about what is best for the
    entire tax-paying community. 

    Both City and County officials need to stop bragging publicly about how well they cooperate with each other and instead start demonstrating it. Actions (or inactions) always speak louder than words. They should demonstrate it by amicably settling the sales tax distribution issue; sensibly consolidating our 911 emergency call centers; supporting and encouraging each other’s economic development projects; and showing support for the Greater Fayetteville Chamber, the Downtown Alliance, the Fayetteville Convention, the Visitors Bureau and all other organizations whose mission is to promote and enhance the community. Visitors and prospective businesses and industries looking at us from the outside are not stupid, and they are not impressed. We must stop demonstrating that we are a community conflicted and fortified within personal agenda silos with a toxic contempt for and distrust of one another. Under these circumstances, you can be assured they will not locate here regardless of how many incentives or perks we offer them.

    These corporate entities and prospective clients pay more attention to what they can see rather than what they hear. They look around our community and observe the condition of our downtown, the cleanliness of our streets and the availability of cultural amenities, but, more importantly, they look at our leadership and pay attention to the way our leaders interact with and react to one another. If we are not in harmony, and if the sense of disharmony is too conspicuous, you can be pretty much assured these prospective clients will not have the confidence to do business with us or to bring their companies here, investing millions of dollars in our community. 

    Both City and County officials need to be more sensitive to these factors. Together, they need to ask the same questions and heed the answers: Is our community clean? Is it safe? Are our parks and public areas well groomed? In other words, what image are we projecting? Are we taking pride in our community? Many of the things that will enhance Fayetteville and Cumberland County’s image and move us forward are things that don’t cost money. Cooperation, respect and civility just to name a few. 

    This is a very exciting time for our community and much is at stake. Let’s not let egos, turf battles and power plays diminish our opportunities. We have so much to gain through cooperation. Let’s get on with it. The time is now. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 001COVERThe All American Tattoo Convention will bring incredible tattoo artists from around the nation to the Crown Coliseum April 14-16. This is the first tattoo convention of its kind in Fayetteville, but it is a perfect fit. “Fayetteville, North Carolina, has one of the highest tattoo shops per square mile in the U.S. Ninety percent of infantry soldiers has at least one tattoo. Fayetteville has a lot of shops and there wasn’t a real sense of community, we knew that if we gave only the top shops the opportunity they would jump on the chance to be a part of a convention. That not only brought in amazing seminars but also gave back to the military community,” said Ryan Harrell, president of the All American Tattoo Convention.

    Tattooing is an ancient art form, but it isn’t like painting. The tattoo artist isn’t the only one responsible for the outcome of the piece. It is also in the hands of the owner. “A lot of people do not understand that a fresh tattoo is an open wound and should be treated with care. Healing a tattoo correctly at home is a large part of how the tattoo turns out. Because a tattoo artist can only control the environment in the shop, once you leave it is up to you to take care of the tattoo until it has healed fully,” Harrell explained.

    The public response has been overwhelmingly positive. “The convention quickly grew to over 300 tattoo artists, double our original projections,” said Harrell. “We sold out of booths and had to figure out alternative ways to satisfy the local health department requirements of a show that large. Having a waiting list of artists who want to come to your show and making a decision to grow into the coliseum was a huge decision for us,” he added. 

    A list of artists can be found on the All American Tattoo Convention website. Many of the artists are taking appointments for the convention. There are also a number of artists who will not be taking any appointments; they are instead only doing walk-ups. One such artist is Sarah Miller. She often has a massive waitlist and this is the first convention where she is only taking walk-ups. This is her way of giving back to the military community.

    This is truly an opportunity unlike any other. There is no other time during the year where so many incredible artists are under one roof. “The convention is one large tattoo shop, there will be the chance to be tattooed by amazing tattoo artists from all over the world. Some of the artists coming have yearlong waiting lists, but they are coming to our show and taking walk-ins. 

    “We have sideshows, contests and a Miss All American contest, so there will be things to do while you wait to be tattooed, or wait on your friends who are getting tattooed. We also have a meet and greet with some amazing tattoo artists who were on Spike TV shows like Ink Masterand Tattoo Rescue, and VIP ticket holders get in free to this event,” Harrell said.

    While many go to conventions to get tattoos, that is only beginning of what the event has to offer for artists and patrons. For artists it is an exciting opportunity to catch up with friends, show off their work and meet exciting new people. For patrons, there are incredible artists to talk with, competitions to watch, events and many booths to explore. 

    Airborne aerial fitness performers will be in attendance as will The All Veteran Parachute Team, New Olde City Sideshow, Fayetteville Roller Derby Rogue Roller Girls, and Half Pint Brawlers. There will also be a Miss All American pinup contest. Emcees include Dr. Carl Blasphemy and Johnny “Awesome” Ivey. Harrell noted that you don’t have to be getting a tattoo in order to have an amazing time.

    The convention also includes a group called Operation Tattooing Freedom. “Tattoo therapy is a program created by Operation Tattooing Freedom and one of the doctors from Spike TV’s Ink Shrinks. It helps a veteran who has PTSD or other combat-related injuries, as tattooing releases chemicals in the body that allow them to be able to open up about issues that are affecting them,” Harrell said. 

    “Operation Tattooing Freedom is growing by leaps and bounds, and we look forward to working with even more veterans in the near future.”

    Benefiting the community is another focus for the convention and many of the artists. “Giving back to the community that has given so much to us (is important). On Sunday when we award a portion of the proceeds to the Fisher House of Fort Bragg and our other charities, it will make it all worth it,” Harrell said.

    For more information about the convention, a list of participating artists and a schedule of events, please visit https://allamericantattooconvention.com.

  • 17Schoalr1Preslyn Johnson

    Cape Fear • Cheerleader/Basketball • 

    Junior

    Despite being busy during multiple sports seasons for the Colts, Johnson managed to record a 4.6 grade point average.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    17Schoalr2austinJacob Austin

    Pine Forest • Baseball •Senior

    Austin has a 4.71 grade point average. He recently went six innings on the mound in a win against Overhills. For the week he batted 5-for-8 with a double and nine RBIs.

  • 16deweeseLeo Durocher, the great Los Angeles Dodgers manager, was wrong.

    But in his defense, he never met Jack Britt High School wrestling coach John DeWeese, or he would never have uttered that famous quote, “Nice guys finish last.”

    DeWeese, who recently announced his retirement as the only wrestling coach Jack Britt has ever had, ranks as one of the nicest guys I’ve met during all my years covering high school sports.

    Even on his worst days and in his toughest wrestling matches, I never saw DeWeese without a smile on his face or sharing a laugh with one of his wrestlers or a friend.

    As he heads into retirement, he will easily rank among the greatest wrestling coaches Cumberland County has ever known, right up there with Cape Fear’s Mike Stanbridge and Seventy-First’s David Culbreth.

    It was a pretty amazing run for a guy who said he got into wrestling almost by accident. It was when he was at Lewis Chapel and the late J.C. Hawk came to DeWeese almost in tears saying the school’s wrestling coach had left and the team didn’t have a coach.

    Hawk promised to teach DeWeese everything he knew about the sport if DeWeese would be the coach. 

    “That night I went home and ordered every VHS tape I could find on wrestling, which was about four,’’ DeWeese said. “That was about 28 years ago.’’ It was with Culbreth as an assistant at Seventy-First that DeWeese first got his start at the high school level. He helped Culbreth coach two of the greatest high school teams in county and state history in the late 1990s at
    Seventy-First. 

    DeWeese still remembers coming to Jack Britt with Culbreth when Britt principal
    Conrad Lopes hired them both away from Seventy-First.

    Before wrestling season started, Culbreth decided to take a job with a local sporting goods store, but still promised he would help DeWeese with the team. At the first practice, DeWeese said Culbreth walked in, spoke to the team, pointed to DeWeese and said “There’s your coach,’’ and left.

    The rest is history. DeWeese won some 13 conference titles and only lost three home conference matches in 17 seasons. After a couple of near misses he guided Britt to the 2015 4-A dual team championship.

    He’s had numerous individual state champs, but he said his proudest accomplishment is having three of his former wrestlers, Bradley and Andrew Wanovich and Spencer Nick, currently attending the U.S. Military
    Academy at West Point.

    “I happened to be in the right place at the right time with some really good people and parents,’’ DeWeese said. “It’s about them.’’

    Not entirely. It’s also about a coach who gave his best, built a dynasty and kept a smile on his face while doing it.

  • 16BrothersGene Autry gave himself a tough act to follow this season after guiding Terry Sanford’s boys’ tennis team to the 3-A dual team finals last year against perennial power Marvin Ridge.

    “I thought we would have another good year,’’ he said of the 2017 season. “Where it ends, we don’t know, but we are looking to
    do well.’’

    So far, the Bulldogs are, and they took a big step in that direction last week with a 6-3 win over their toughest Cape Fear region rival, Union Pines.

    Terry Sanford beat the Vikings in last year’s Eastern Regional championship match. Autry admits he wasn’t sure what to expect from his team when the two squads met for the first time this season at Terry Sanford last week.

    “Sometimes you have a mental letdown when you play an opponent again,’’ Autry said. “We started slow but ended up playing well.’’

    As usual, the Bulldogs got solid play and half their wins in the match from brothers Henry and Nathan Lieberman. The brothers play No. 1 and No. 2 singles along with No. 1 doubles and took wins in all three of those matches.

    Henry, a junior, is in his second season at No. 1 singles player while freshman Nathan is making his debut with the Bulldogs.

    Autry said Henry continues to be the same solid player and team leader he was last season. “Everybody looks up to him and tries to follow his leadership,’’ Autry said of Henry. “He’s hitting a lot more solid shots and his ball is heavier. That means it’s taking different spins and a lot more action.’’ Autry said Henry’s footwork is also improved, which is key to putting his total game together.

    Henry said having his brother join him on the team this season has been a good experience. “He motivates me because he gets under my skin,’’ Henry said.         “It’s that brother rivalry.’’

    Henry said his brother is also a solid player. “He makes you hit good shots over and over to win a point against him,’’ Henry said. “He’s working on his net game and his serve. He’s quick and anticipates well.’’

    Nathan said his brother is equally inspiring to him. “He drives me to get better and motivates me,’’ Nathan said. “We definitely just pump each other up, stay positive and don’t let negative things in our heads.’’

    A rematch with Union Pines is looming on April 10. Following that will be the chase for the regional and state championships.

    Henry said he’s already decided on competing in singles in the state individual tournament. Nathan will soon decide if he wants to try singles or get a new doubles partner and compete for that title.

    “We really need to stay focused, have that intensity in practice,’’ Nathan said. “If we don’t get lazy I think we’ll be great.’’

    The Liebermans aren’t the only good players on the Bulldog team. Andrew Zahran is back from last year. Autry said he along with Alex Kasari and Dev Sashidhar are also key players.

    “To go back and win again against Union Pines is going to be tough,’’ Autry said, referring to the upcoming rematch. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, keep our head about us and play the tennis we’re capable of, we should do well.’’

  • 15InyourheadIf you are — or ever were — a Company or Field Grade Officer in the United States military, please do not be offended at this. In a controlled
    test some 30 years ago, your peers were used to prove a point I wish to make within this text today. It’s a point that occurs near the intersection
    of music, the power of suggestion and individual memory. Weird
    enough? Good.

    In the mid-’80s I was a communications engineer working for our government. As part of a team dedicated to integrating information and communications systems, we were never far away from our inner nerds, but the long, tedious hours often led to our playful sides seeking a platform on which to live. In instances like the one I’m about to disclose —
    we found it.

    As we neared the completion of a particularly long season of preparation, my team was ready to hand off a state-of-the-art system to be tested. Someone well above my pay grade determined the group of people most likely to possess the confidence to extract the best from the system while demonstrating the overconfidence necessary to simultaneously destroy it, would be mid-grade officers from across the branches of military services. No one wore uniforms. Everyone was sure they were in charge, and most of them wanted a little time to familiarize. 

    As they got themselves comfortable in their temporary home, my little group of behind-the-sceners began to stir in the shadows. We devised a simple plan that involved wandering through the aisle of young officers and whistling, humming or otherwise vocalizing theme songs from TV sitcoms. The objective was simple: get the unwitting participants to sing your team’s assigned song before they left.

    And they did. They sang, they hummed, they tapped their feet and pencils, and they never realized what had happened. 

    Music is like that. It has a funny effect on our minds. It can evoke memories of a place or time in our lives — a first kiss, the night we proposed, the day our mother died, or the time we skipped school and watched reruns with a friend. Music has ways of affecting us in the here and now, as well. Runners may have multiple playlists for training at various distances, and guys like me pick music based on activities like woodworking, mowing the lawn, or simply getting ready to face another day’s challenges. 

    The point is simple: like it or not, the music is getting in. It can change your immediate responses for better or worse. And you might find yourself singing it when you least expect it. Choose your soundtrack wisely.

  • 14WishFulfillOh my goodness. About halfway through the film I realized that writing a review of the The Belko Experiment (88 minutes) would present a unique challenge. You see, I work in an office setting. And I know at least a couple of the people I work with read these reviews. Before I write another word, I want to reassure everyone I work with that my reviews are satirical and are not intended to make anyone worry about my mental state.

    With that out of the way, what does it indicate about my mental state that I giggled every time some business suit wearing sad sack was executed in a particularly creative way? Is it just that I overwhelmingly love the work of James Gunn? Or is it that at the time I watched it, I was in desperate need of some catharsis after working extra-long hours to meet a deadline and then taking care of my poor sick family?

    James Gunn wrote The Belko Experimentnearly eight years ago, right around the time he created The Specials, before he directed Super(both worth checking out, if you missed his pre-Guardians of the Galaxymaterial). This has some bearing on the review, so stick with me. At the time, he was going through his divorce from Jenna Fischer, you know — Pam, from The Office, and he didn’t want to work on such negative material during his divorce, so he put it aside. Then, when he was given the opportunity to pick it up again, he did. But here’s the funny part — however it was written originally, this is basically a film about how Jim from The Office and Pam from The Officespend hours being physically and psychologically tortured by Barry (Tony Goldwyn, the guy who killed Sam Wheat in Ghost).

    No, Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski aren’t in the film. But the characters of Mike (John Gallagher. Jr.) and Leandra (Adria Arjona) closely align with Jim and Pam from The Office, and John Gallagher, Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane) isn’t John Krasinski’s double, but the two bear more than a passing resemblance.  I don’t mean to cast doubt on the account that Gunn and Fischer’s divorce was amicable. But Leandra does not get a happy ending.

    Employees of Belko Industries (no relation to the department store chain) work in rural Bogota, Colombia. There are new security protocols in place and new, more militant security guards. A new employee, Dany (Melonie Diaz) is having an orientation, which establishes that Belko Industries implants security devices in the heads of employees to facilitate rescues in the event of a kidnapping and definitely not to blow up their heads. Wait Melonie! Don’t agree to this insanity! It’s the culture of fear that results in submission to excessive oversight and restriction on our personal freedoms that is the REAL danger! 

    But enough sociology. On to the mass murder of irritating co-workers! Barry’s backstory is that he was a Special Forces guy who transitioned into the corporate world, so be prepared for him to justify violence against the few to save the many. Which he does, frequently. Not that it saves him. Or anyone else for that matter. This is not an optimistic story about triumphing over evil sociologists — oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. Apparently, the Big Bad is a social scientist working with a consortium of other social scientists who believe that oversight is for lame scientists like mathematicians, but they should be able to torture people because you get better data that way. I see his point and may adjust my research objectives accordingly.

    Overall, this was not amazing, but it was fun. There was something both punishing and gleeful about it, making it well worth a look, even if it was filled with missed opportunities for some social commentary.

    Now playing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.

  • 001COVERThe world of art can be a complex system with layers and layers of meaning — some much more challenging than others. Depending on how much you’re interested in what’s happening in art nationally and internationally, one may often find oneself asking contemporary questions like “What is art for?” and “Why is that art?”

    Not so with the mixed media works by Dawn Marie Rozzo, a resident of Raleigh, North Carolina. You don’t need to theorize about unsettling postmodern themes, examine underlying constructs about identity or any of the other approaches to understanding conceptual works of art —  Rozzo’s work is simply joyful! 

    There are many reasons to enjoy art; joy and beauty are still highly relevant because of the effect on the viewer. When viewing Rozzo’s work, visitors may find themselves feeling delighted in sunshine and nature: spring fever magnified! So it seems the month of April is a perfect time for Gallery 208 to open with the exhibit titled Dawn Marie Rozzo: Variations on a Theme.

    The opening reception for Dawn Marie Rozzo: Variations on a Theme is April 11, 2017, from 5:30-7 p.m. at Gallery 208, and the public is invited to preview the exhibit and meet the artist. Due to her subject matter, colors and approach to image making, I feel confident everyone who attends the opening or visits the exhibit later will leave feeling a
    little happier. 

    Rozzo’s work is deceptively simple. The gallery is filled with birds, birds and more birds (and some other furry “critters”), all having
    personalities. Rozzo has created characters we can relate to in some
    archetypal way. Her choice of colors evoke meaning, as well as the text she interfaces with her subjects in a collage format. Her work appears
    effortless, yet it is that effortlessness which further supports why the
    work evokes a freshness.  

    Do not be fooled; her “effortless” style is the result of being an accomplished artist who chooses a loose approach, an artist with a disciplined and trained hand and eye. Upon close inspection, visitors to the gallery will find her work has layers of meaning. 

    Rozzo refers to meaning in her work by saying, “The paintings and collages allude to moments of observed beauty, a lightning flash or bird strut. I choose to document these observations with loose transparent washes and gestural brushstrokes to express the surprise experiences in Nature. The collages tell a story of intersections; birds or animals weave between words and images of human endeavors.”

    Rozzo will talk about her work and technique at the opening
    reception, but for those who are not able to attend the opening, the artist’s statement sums up her creative approach: “I love the transparency of watercolor and its fluidity, it influences my work. Loose transparent washes and gestural brushstrokes are employed on canvas, as well as re-purposed papers and cradled board to create densely colored pieces. Watercolor, acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil and oil paint are layered over one another between clear gesso and acrylic mediums.”

    She continued, “My recent collages are a playful intersection between observed natural behaviors of birds, garden creatures and the recording of human endeavors in repurposed pages of old books. I have been
    attracted to fragments of
    beauty discovered in the natural world since I was very young and I am fortunate to have early memories of
    discoveries while exploring the nearby woods, and seeing
    wonders in my Dad’s garden.”

    A trained artist, Rozzo attended Alfred University
    and Empire State College, graduating in 1992 with a degree in painting and graphic design. She has painted, taught and created art programming ever since. In the past 12 years, in addition to her studio practice, she has taught senior adults with disabilities art and enrichment programming. Her philosophy for teaching can be summed up in one of her
    statements: “I know that
    opportunities for creative expression can activate hope.”

    Rozzo’s statement about hope is reflected in her creative teaching programming, but also as an activist in her stated mission as “giving back.” As a supporter of the International Justice Mission (IJM is an organization whose purpose is to fight enslavement and violence against the poor worldwide), for this exhibit, the artist has created the Wall of Positives. The Wall of Positives is an effort to make some of her work very affordable for those who appreciate it and to continue to support IJM. In the Wall of Positives series, the artist has created a group of small 6”x6” collages on a cradled hardboard priced at only $75 each, with $10 from each sale going to the International Justice Mission. Those attending the opening or visiting the exhibit, if you purchase a work off the Wall of Positives you don’t have to wait for the exhibit to end -— just pay for the small work and you can take it with you as you leave.

    Gallery 208 on Rowan Street in historical downtown Fayetteville is excited to present a regional artist and invites everyone to attend the opening reception and meet Rozzo — an artist whose paintings are exhibited and sold regionally in North Carolina and are in private collections across the United States. 

    Dawn Marie Rozzo: Variations on a Themewill remain at Gallery 208 until late June, so there is plenty of time to visit the exhibit. Gallery 208 is located at Up & Coming Weekly, 208 Rowan Street. The hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information, call Up & ComingWeekly at (910) 484-6200 or visit the artist’s website at www.dawnrozzo.com.

  • 12PIP 0003M KeyArt 5x7April 7 at 8 p.m., Givens Performing Arts Center presents Pippin as the final show in this season’s Broadway and More Series. The show is a Broadway musical that features songs from the composer responsible for Wicked. The show first premiered on Oct. 23, 1972 at the Imperial Theater. It was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. It was a success and ran until June 12, 1977, with a total of 1,944 performances. 

    The show was revived in March 2013 by The American Reparatory Theater before moving to Broadway. The production received four Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, and a total of ten nominations in 2013. The Broadway revival closed on Jan. 4, 2015, and the show is now touring the United States. This production is directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus, who is well known for her work on Hair and The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

    Pippin takes place in a surreal and undefined world of circus and theater.  Throughout the show, performers demonstrate incredible physical talent. The choreography harkens back to the original Bob Fosse style and the acrobatics are designed by LES 7 DOIGTS DE LA MAIN, or The 7 Fingers. This group is well known for their work on the show TRACES. TRACES is a mixture of street performance, dance and circus combined to create a poetic, non-linear narrative. The intense acrobatics are showcased in an urban apocalyptic setting.

    The 7 Fingers is a collective created in 2002 by seven circus artists. Each performance artist acts as an artistic director. They work together on a variety of projects like Broadway shows, original productions, Olympic ceremonies and custom designed events. They champion diversity and often mix genres to better explore the human condition. The company is based in Montreal, but they are very active internationally. Their acrobatic work and fearless creativity plays well with the surreal and existential nature of Pippin. It is an exciting show full of incredible talent and heart pounding acrobatics perfectly choreographed to accompany energizing songs. 

     The story of Pippin follows a new actor joining a troupe. He is searching for fulfillment. His existential quest is the central conflict of the show. He tries several different paths for fulfillment before finding contentment in a life with Catherine, his love interest. This version of Pippin includes an extended ending that suggests dealing with existential crisis is cyclical. 

    Standard tickets vary from $41 to $36. There are discounts available for Alumni, students, children, and faculty. The show may be inappropriate for children 12 and under. For more information or to purchase tickets online, please visit the website http://www.uncp.edu/giving/advancement/givens-performing-arts-center/broadway-and-more-series. 

  • 11baskervilleBaskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, showing at Cape Fear Regional Theatre April 6-25, is a show sure to delight a wide audience but it will perhaps particularly shine for those who simply love the medium of theater and want to see it utilized to its fullest storytelling potential. 

    Baskerville, published in 2015, is playwright Ken Ludwig’s take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved 1902 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. Director Sam French said Ludwig’s approach takes French’s own love of classic storytelling and puts it in “this frame that is so theatrical and so deeply connected to what I do … it’s a classic story, but it’s told by five actors doing all these characters with all these levels of creative whimsy and theatricality … (Ludwig’s script) gives you permission to play around.”

    Part of the delight of the world of Sherlock Holmes comes from seesawing between fantastical, unsolvable mysteries and eureka moments of shockingly plain, solid logic. Watson is puzzled by what appears to be a ghost; Holmes discovers and explains that it is merely a sheet blowing through the wind (or something like that, but more cool). 

    From the very beginning, French worked with his artistic team, including Scenic Designer Lucy Pope and Costume Designer Lizzie Donelan, to build the world of the show in a way that embodies this dynamic. French explained: “One of the guiding principles from early on was figuring out, when are we gonna be really real, and when are we gonna be really intentionally fake? The way we’d always describe it is: Is it a fog machine moment or a moment where we see a person clapping chalk board erasers together to make the fog?” 

    French decided to generally allow the audience to see the “clapping chalk board erasers” the strings, if you will in moments that Sherlock clearly understands what is going on. Conversely, in times when Sherlock is confused, French lets the illusions created onstage remain illusions. 

    “Sherlock Holmes as a character is all about helping the people in his (world) see that the world is always logical and rational... they come to him with these really mysterious and elusive problems and he helps them understand how there’s really a very logical answer for everything,” French said. He explained how this reminds him of what theater does. “...We have this sort of elusive mysterious performance thing that we then, in this show, expose the mechanics of and show exactly how it’s all done.” 

    French said he’s glad his cast members are all up for laughing and just having fun as they figure things out, and that he is grateful for their deep love for theater and this particular show. “If it’s not a fun rehearsal, it’ll never be a good show … It’s a cast with a pretty wide range of ages and experience, but a very unified force of... joy,” he said. 

    French explained how it’s interesting for actors Ken Griggs (Sherlock) and Harron Atkins (Watson), because a large amount of the typical actor’s work is already done for them. He explained how as soon as they walk onstage in costume, everyone knows who they are; everyone already has a world of associations tied to their characters and an idea of how they will behave. So the question in working with the actors, French said, is “When do we lean into that tradition and when do we decide to break it?”

    Tickets to see Baskerville at CFRT cost $15-$25 and can be purchased by visiting www.cfrt.org or calling 910-323- 4233. Show times fall at 7:30 p.m. or 2 p.m. Baskerville runs April 6-25.

  • 10WillieWrightWhen I invited retired Col. Willie F. Wright into my office for an interview, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Our publisher, Bill Bowman, had said to me: “Leslie, we need to do a piece on Willie Wright. He’s just … this unsung hero of our community.” Shortly after, our associate publisher, Stephanie Crider, sent me his resume. I saw an impressive education; a long and successful career in the Army; another successful career as an educator, coupled with membership on boards all over Cumberland County; awards such as “Most Supportive Principal” (1994-95) and “Mover and Shaker of Fayetteville” (2007); and a hefty list of organizations he volunteers with, many since the 1980s. 

    But none of that captured what I heard as I sat across from Willie and listened to him share his life and doings. As he spoke, he seemed to quietly enjoy an unwavering delight simply in being alive. Willie seemed at once completely at peace with himself and completely unaware of how impressive his credentials are. As our conversation unfolded, I heard a theme emerge: When you’re doing what you love, in service to people you connect with and in turn love, too, life has a way of multiplying the chances to do that. I also learned that a person’s motive for volunteering doesn’t always have to be selflessand that it’s, in fact, perhaps more effective if you volunteer for partly “selfish” reasons.

    In 1987, when Willie was a year out from retiring as an O-6, there were a few things he wanted to learn. “Now I don’t know how you’re going to shape this,” he laughed, “but I‘m just gonna be openly honest with you.” His eyes crinkled and shone. “I was over at the craft shop on Fort Bragg. And this lady, Soni Martin, was (the director). I wanted to learn how to do matting and framing. So I said, ‘You know, if I volunteer to help her, I will learn how to do it, and I’ll be good at it.’ So I volunteered. And the idea just clicked in my mind. If you try to help people, you’ll also help yourself.” After that, Willie matted and framed the back cover art of 25 Reader’s Digest issues as gifts for his loved ones. 

    At that time, Willie said, he was also an avid reader. So he went to the Fort Bragg Library and offered eight hours a week of volunteer service. “I knew a list came out to the library of the best-sellers that would be coming … And I was able to put my name on the hold list before the books even arrived in the library!” he said with another laugh. 

    I could go on about Willie’s volunteering. Like the fact that he’s been a volunteer usher-turned-house-manager at Cape Fear Regional Theatre since 1989. Or that last year he turned down a well-paying job at Methodist University because “it would have interfered with me (volunteering at) CFRT... and I really love being there … I meet so many nice people,” as he put it. He has probably greeted you at the Crown and Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, too. 

    But his Army and education careers deserve acknowledgement, too. When Willie graduated with a B.S. in Education from Virgina State University (then Virginia State College) in 1959, he was offered a Regular Army commission: a three-year obligation of service, which he served. The Army then offered to send Willie to graduate school if he stayed three more years. After that, the Army said they would promote him early, to major if he stayed three more years. 

    After a 30-year career in the Army, he held three master’s degrees and did make his way back to education. He spent the next 27 years working in 12 schools across Cumberland County, once as a principal but primarily as a guidance counselor. Administrators just kept requesting him. Maybe that was because Willie carried his genuine love for people (and love for mutually beneficial situations) into his work. 

    For example, as principal of Edgewood Elementary (now Luther “Nick” Jeralds Middle) from 1993-99, he partnered with Fayetteville State University to create a free after-school program for students. FSU teachers got classroom space to work in, and elementary school students got to take free classes in subjects like early French or Spanish. Though Willie tried to retire from education in 2005, he wasn’t quite “allowed” to until 2016. He was just too loved
    and too needed. 

    When I asked how he could explain such an incredible pattern of success in his life, all he could offer was: “I just work hard... I enjoy... and like people. I try to operate on the principle that I’m in your shoes; what can I help you to do?”

    Does Willie, having lived such a full life, have anything left he wants to do? Well, his daughters just took him on a birthday trip to Cuba, as that was somewhere he’d never been before. Now, he said, “I think I’ve just about done all I want to do except to continue to enjoy life and enjoy the people I work with.”

    So, if there’s something you want to pursue, consider doing as Willie does: pursue those things right at your local library or theater or other organization, and allow yourself to receive in return. Recognize the exponential value in giving your time to serve people, in a position you genuinely enjoy. Also, read your local newspaper Willie said that’s how he found most of his volunteer opportunities. “It’s all about people,” Willie said. “Every individual is a human being. And almost all of us have the same needs … I’ve been very blessed.” 

  • 10County JailThe Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office was notified in November of last year that “after considerable deliberation, the committee voted to withdraw the facility from NCCHC’s accreditation program.” The committee was the accreditation panel. The facility in question is the county jail, and the NCCHC is the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. The letter came over the signature of Vice President Tracey Titus. She went on to say “immediate correction is needed to support access to care for your patients.” This was no routine notice of incidental deficiencies that could be easily corrected. To date, they have not been. 

    A lengthy 20-page report outlined actions the NCCHC required be taken. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the jail, is not responsible for management of inmate healthcare. The Department of Public Health operates and administers the detention center health and medicine program. Accreditation standards were the same for 20 years, and the jail maintained approved standards during that time. “It was only after the standards changed significantly that the jail health program lost its accreditation,” said Cumberland County Health Director Buck Wilson. He is on record as saying that funds needed to make the suggested improvements were not approved in the operating budget for the current fiscal year. Inmate care did not change, he added. 

    Wilson provided Up & Coming Weekly with an unedited copy of the Commission on Correctional Health Care’s report denying reaccreditation. The NCCHC health service accreditation curriculum for local jails is voluntary. There is no industry standard for inmate healthcare or requirement that health programs be accredited. Wilson said the health department conducted a survey of North Carolina jails in February and found that most of them are not accredited. They contracted with private business, which is what county commissioners are considering, given the recent report. The apparent belief is that the county can provide improved services at lower cost.

    The NCCHC uses peer reviewing to determine whether local jails meet its standards for inmate health services. NCCHC also offers accreditation for opioid and venereal disease treatment programs. It’s the only accrediting body authorized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that focuses on corrections. The curriculum outlines healthcare requirements in two categories: 

    Important Standards are those that require a minimum 85 percent compliance. The jail scored a 100 percent achievement in the October 2016 report. 

    Stricter Essential Standards require 100 percent compliance. The jail’s score was 82 percent, a failing grade.

    The accreditation committee cited six areas of deficiency: (1) quality improvement studies did not include thresholds, nor were components of the studies evident; (2) not all inmates were tested for STDs; (3) regular treatment of inmates with chronic diseases is lacking. The committee also noted (4) improvement is needed for inmates with special health needs; (5) inmates on suicide watch were not monitored as they should have been; and (6) continued monitoring of patients experiencing withdrawal from the effects of chronic intoxication is required.

    The final report notifying the sheriff’s office that reaccreditation had been denied observed that the Cumberland County Detention Center had been placed on probation in January 2016 following a review in September 2015. On October 23, 2016, the accreditation committee voted to withdraw the Cumberland County Detention Center from the accreditation program. “Moving forward, the County will be looking at all aspects of the jail health program and is utilizing the request for proposals process to determine the most cost-effective manner for providing jail health services,” said Assistant County Manager Sally Shutt. 

  • 09AnotherInvestmentPiedmont Natural Gas is the latest company to repurpose a local, old building and bring it back to life. The Charlotte-based subsidiary of Duke Energy cut the ribbon last week on its new Fayetteville Plant. Piedmont consolidated its local operations and call center in a redesigned and refurbished warehouse on Corporation Drive off Tom Starling Road. Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson and County Commission Chairman Glenn Adams joined company executives in the ribbon cutting. The building is the former Maidenform Distribution Center, which closed in late 2014. Those operations were absorbed into Hanesbrands’s facilities in Forsyth and Cleveland counties. 

    Piedmont Natural Gas said it renovated the 60,000-square-foot facility at a cost of $8 million. Architect Dean McKenzie said the company saved about $4 million by refurbishing the existing facility rather than building a new plant. A 9,000 square-foot utility building and storage shed are also located on the property. Officials said they also plan to relocate a compressed natural gas refueling station to the site from its existing location on Wilkes Rd. 

    “Piedmont Natural Gas is proud to serve Fayetteville and Cumberland County, and our new customer contact and resource center is a tangible symbol of our commitment to and investment in the communities we serve,” said Frank Yoho, head of gas operations. Piedmont is taking advantage of the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of its operations. The company is seeking certified LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) status for the building with best-in-class energy-conserving construction. Design elements that contribute to the project’s sustainability include maximizing open space and preserving existing wetlands on the
    18-acre site. An innovative natural gas-driven heat pump is used to reduce energy use. Energy-efficient fixtures are in use to reduce water and
    electricity use.

     “The company is unifying customer contact and operation associates in one facility to continue improving the service it provides to customers,” said Senior Vice President Gayle Lanier. Piedmont and its predecessor, North Carolina Natural Gas, have had a presence in Fayetteville for decades. NCNG was once located on Rowan Street adjacent to the Up & Coming Weeklybuilding. Piedmont Natural Gas is a North Carolina- based company whose principle business is the distribution of natural gas to more than a million residential, commercial, industrial and power generation customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The company employs 160 associates in the Cumberland County area, most of whom now work out of the new building. 

  • 08Mercedes SedanWith Fayetteville’s Porsche automobile dealership having moved to Wilmington last month, the Pinehurst Automotive Group is preparing to make a major reinvestment in Fayetteville. Group Dealer Principal (owner) Tom Holderfield owns the local Mercedes dealership, which he acquired in 2014 from businessman Dixon Dickens. “It’s one of six franchises in his group,” said General Manager Greg Dudak, who added that the company isn’t concerned about the loss of Porsche. The luxury brand has a select clientele with average incomes of $400,000 a year. “We sold 5 cars a month on average, while we sell 350 new Mercedes annually,” he said, “plus another 380 used vehicles a year.”  

    The back story behind the loss of Porsche is that it “provides (Pinehurst Automotive Group) an opportunity to expand our Mercedes brand” and service to the Fayetteville community, said Dudak. He added that the company did not renew its Bragg Boulevard lease and will be moving to the corner of Glensford Drive and Red Tip Road upon completion of a new facility in about 18 months. 

    Dudak announced that Holderfield is finalizing plans for a $15 million state-of-the-art showroom with modern customer hospitality amenities and expanded service and parts departments. The dealership will be built on a seven-acre tract purchased from SRW Builders for an undisclosed price. Site plans have not yet been submitted to the city. Dudak said this will greatly improve the franchise’s profile in Fayetteville and will allow the company to increase its new car inventory. Officials added that the dealership wants to place emphasis on its Sprinter line of Mercedes-Benz commercial vans. Mercedes of Fayetteville is among the corporations “best of the best.” It is in the top 15 percent of Mercedes-Benz franchises in the nation. “Maintaining that distinction is our focus for the future,” Dudak said.

    Pinehurst Automotive Group specializes in mid-range American-made and import vehicles. Asked about the loss of jobs with the closing of the Porsche dealership, Dudak told Up & Coming Weekly, “We’ve got a place for almost everyone.” The combined dealership had 58 employees. “All but three chose to stay with the company or take positions with the Porsche dealership in Wilmington.” Owner Tom Holderfield is a Raleigh native and has lived in Pinehurst for 30 years. He joined the automotive industry at the age of 25 and currently serves as the General Managing Partner of the Pinehurst Automotive Group, overseeing 6 franchises in Moore County and Fayetteville. When he acquired the Mercedes franchise, Holderfield was quoted as saying, “Cumberland County is the fourth largest new car sales area in the state behind Mecklenburg, Wake and Forsyth counties. There is also a high concentration of … Mercedes-Benz owners in Moore County, which accounts for about 15 percent to 20 percent of the business at the dealerships.”

  • 07NewsDigestAlleged Fayetteville Child Killer 

    Tillman Freeman III, 30, remains in Hoke County Jail awaiting trial for killing his two young children. The heart-wrenching murders of 4-day-old Genesis Freeman and her 2-year-old sister, Serenity, is a case that will haunt investigators forever. “It was horrific,” said Sheriff Hubert Peterkin who witnessed the crime scene, a wooded area off a rural road in western Hoke County. Freeman, of Fayetteville, suspected the children were not his, Peterkin said. Freeman eventually agreed to show Fayetteville police where he had left the babies in his car. Detectives had spent much of the day searching for them. Freeman is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and is being
    held without bond.

    Shaw Heights Annexation Changes

    Fayetteville City Council is asking State Rep. Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland) to modify his Shaw Heights annexation bill. For starters, the city is not asking to annex the impoverished geographic doughnut hole of trailer parks, row apartments, some single-family homes, warehouses, junkyards, dirt streets and numerous illegal dumps off Murchison and Shaw Roads. Officials are seeking extra-territorial jurisdiction for now. The request of the legislature may be doomed to failure because council voted 7-3 for a resolution in support of the general assembly’s intent to eventually annex Shaw Heights. Mayor Nat Robertson and Council members Kathy Jensen and Bill Crisp voted against the measure. Historically, local bills are not given serious consideration by the legislature unless they are sent to Raleigh with unanimous consent. Asked if he thought council’s split vote doomed the measure, Mayor Nat Robertson nodded his head in agreement. But, council will now work to draft a second resolution containing specifics that would be submitted to the House of Representatives by Floyd, if he agrees to it.  

    Tax Break for Disabled Vets

    North Carolina service veterans who are 100 percent disabled will get a property tax exemption on the first $100,000 of home value, if a bill now pending in the Senate passes. The amended measure, sponsored by Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), passed the House last week. Fully disabled veterans have been exempt from paying property taxes on the first $45,000 of the value of their homes. The bill also exempts widows and widowers of North Carolina law enforcement officers as well as fire and rescue personnel killed in the line of duty from all property taxes. Lawmakers agreed to reimburse cities and counties for lost tax income.

    Tar Heel Bathroom Bill Repealed

    HB142 has replaced HB2, North Carolina’s notorious Bathroom Bill. Under threat of what could have been an economically crippling edict from the NCAA, the general assembly repealed HB2. Governor Cooper, who helped broker a compromise, signed the new bill into law. The vote came down to the wire before the state could have potentially lost NCAA athletic championships for several years. Many believe the ACC would have followed suit. 

    While HB142 repeals HB2, it still bans local governments from adopting any non-discrimination ordinances through 2020. After that, cities and counties would be banned from passing any non-discrimination ordinances related to bathrooms and locker rooms.

    “This is a significant compromise from all sides on an issue that has been discussed and discussed and discussed in North Carolina for a long period of time,” Senate leader Phil Berger said. “It is something that I think satisfies some people, dissatisfied some people, but I think it’s a good thing for North Carolina.”

    Upcoming Maternity Fair

    Womack Army Medical Center will host a maternity fair on Saturday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    It will be a thorough presentation offering information on childbirth education, midwifery services, car seat safety, the WIC program and more. Breastfeeding information, nutrition, information for dads, how to soothe a crying baby, TRICARE, vaccines, labor and delivery tours, neonatal intensive care, social work and more will also be discussed, as will alcohol and tobacco cessation, hospital patient relations and social media. Additional information is available at (910) 907-7247.

    FTCC Adult Education 

    Fayetteville Technical Community College has opened a new Education Center at 225
    B Street, downtown in the former Pauline Jones Elementary School. The FTCC Educational Center provides Adult Basic Education designed to help those seeking secondary and post-secondary academic advancement as well as improvement of employability skills.  The new center also provides assessments, testing and human resource development. The programs are geared to provide individuals with skills that are critical to employment in the workplace. Classes are offered face to face, on and off-campus, online and during the daytime and evenings. 

    Fayetteville Fire Department Wins Grant

    The Hartford, a nationally recognized property and casualty insurance company, has awarded the Fayetteville Fire Department a $10,000 grant to support fire safety education and behavior initiatives. The donation was based on a risk identification study formed from the analysis of information from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System. It grew out of a survey conducted from a small sample of Fayetteville’s general population of 204,000 residents. Fayetteville ranked 22nd out of 100 U.S. cities with an increased home fire risk.  The survey only identified certain human-related risk factors that may lead to residential fires. 

    A date and time the donation will be presented to the department will
    be announced.

    Cumberland County Citizen Training

    Cumberland County Commissioners invite all members of its appointed boards and committees to attend “How to be an Effective Board Member” training April 10-11 at the Crown Complex Ballroom. Commissioners also encourage residents interested in serving on a board to attend. Professional trainer Denise Ryan will lead two 90-minute sessions on April 10 at 12 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The last session will be on April 11 at 8 a.m. Participants are asked to reserve their seats by April 3 by calling (910) 678-7772 or emailing kbeam@co.cumberland.nc.us. Light refreshments will be provided. “We are offering this training to increase the understanding of what is expected of board members,” said Chairman Glenn Adams.
    “I encourage anyone currently serving or interested in serving to attend one of the sessions,” he added.                   

  • 06JusticeEvery day, millions of students across America stand, face the flag of the United States, place their right hand over their heart and recite:

    “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

    It is a moving moment, a time for a statement of shared values and civic aspirations. To believe in the pledge is to acknowledge that we are one nation committed not just to the concept, but to the practice of justice for all. 

    It is an elusive goal, especially when so many of our low-income families cannot access needed legal services. One of the main sources of legal assistance to our most vulnerable North Carolinians is Legal Aid of North Carolina, which has an office in Fayetteville serving Cumberland, Harnett and Sampson counties. LANC provides vital assistance to people in family law cases involving custody disputes and domestic violence protective orders. It assists in housing issues, protecting tenants, military families and veterans focusing on federal legal rights and resources, and the elderly and disabled in a wide range of civil matters. Most recently, LANC was at the forefront of assisting low-income families and individuals devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Natural disasters affect everyone in their path and the poor are no exception. Competent, timely and accessible legal assistance is never more important than in a time of emergency. Along with the pro bono efforts of private attorneys, the state and local bar associations, LANC is a vital organization to communities across North Carolina, including Fayetteville and
    Cumberland County. 

    LANC is largely funded through a grant from the Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit organization established in 1974 and funded primarily through the federal government. Unfortunately, President Trump’s budget will eliminate federal funding of the Legal Services Corporation. If the budget is enacted, this would cripple efforts to provide basic legal services to vulnerable citizens. The American Bar Association has joined with a coalition of corporations, law school deans and attorneys across America to protect funding for legal aid. The website HelpLegalAid.org has been set up to promote the legal aid for low-income citizens and to provide a way to voice support in the face of a serious threat of elimination. 

    Justice for all cannot be a mere aspiration recited in a pledge. Support for LANC and legal aid organizations helps make the concept a reality for all the people. 

  • 05HeisRisenAs the month of April unfolds, Christians across the globe are moving toward “Holy Week” and the commemoration of events associated with the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on earth. Beginning with Palm Sunday, believers recall Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem leading up to his crucifixion, death, burial and ultimate resurrection celebrated on the following Sunday.

    One of the most moving accounts associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred when the women who came to anoint the body of Jesus, who was crucified three days prior, found an empty tomb.

    Luke 24:1-9 in the New Living Translation describe this sequence of events:

    But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

    The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

    Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. 

    This record of the women at the empty tomb became the inspiration for this poetic sharing which ends with the traditional greeting and response heard on the morning of the resurrection:

    Witness

    Luke 24:1-9 

    The account of the women at the empty tomb

    Though we did not journey with the women

    In the dark before dawn that first day,

    Nor were we walking, weeping with them when

    Two angels spoke, nor did we hear them say,

    “He is not here but risen as he said;

    Recall that on the third day he should rise;

    Why seek you the living among the dead?”

    Though we did not see with our naked eyes,

    In our hearts we know God’s desire to bless.

    Though we did not touch Christ nor did we see

    The open tomb, yet we still bear witness.

    We have a more sure word of prophecy.

    By the Spirit, fruit of our Promised Seed,

    We surely know He is risen, risen, indeed.

    This year the message of the resurrection resounds once again, as Chuck Swindoll, evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator and radio minister, reminds us,

    “Our identity as Christians is strengthened as we stand in the lengthening shadows of saints down through the centuries, who have always answered back in antiphonal voice: ‘He is risen, indeed!’”

  • 04cfpbShould one unelected bureaucrat have almost dictatorial powers over our personal financial choices?

    Most would say that doesn’t sound American, but unfortunately, I’m referring to the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Created in good faith following the financial crisis, CFPB has slowed the economy and hurt job growth through excessive rules.

    CFPB’s fatal flaw is a lack of accountability. The agency, which determines your choices for checking accounts, the fees on your mortgage or car loan and what type of credit card offers you can receive, is led by a single director who is accountable to no one. Not even the president can fire the CFPB director, except for an “egregious act.” 

    With no oversight, CFPB bureaucrats are free to dream up whatever
    big government, Washington regulations they want. Meanwhile, these
    same CFPB bureaucrats are spending your money on luxury offices and high salaries.

    For example, the CFPB spent $200 million on luxury renovations for their leased office space, including a two-story waterfall, a four-story glass staircase and a “timber porch” where bureaucrats can relax while thinking up new rules. The average total compensation for a CFPB bureaucrat is $180,000 per year, and growing at roughly 30 percent annually.

    How does this impact you?

    Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy, creating over half of all new jobs. However, excessive CFPB regulations have made it more difficult for small businesses to get loans to grow and create well-paying jobs. FDIC data shows small business loans are down 1.5 percent from pre-crisis levels, and commercial loans under $1 million have fallen 14 percent. Local bank leaders tell me they now hire more compliance officers than loan officers, as filling out forms for bureaucrats has become more important than growing the economy. We are losing the community banks that support small business expansion and job growth.

    The CFPB is also making it harder for consumers to access financial services. Prior to the creation of CFPB, the average monthly account balance needed to qualify for free checking was $250. Now, that requirement has risen to $750, on average. Only two new commercial banks were created in 2016, down from 228 the year before the recession. The number of Americans without a bank account has risen by half a million.

    Does this mean we should do away with regulation, or with the CFPB? No. Regulations are necessary for an orderly society and economy, and consumers should be protected. However, when the total economic cost of Washington’s regulations on ordinary Americans and businesses totals $2 trillion per year, we need to restore common sense. 

    As your Representative on the House Financial Services Committee, I’m working to pass the Financial CHOICE Act, which would create accountability for the CFPB and replace the “financial dictator” with a bipartisan committee. The Financial CHOICE Act would also increase penalties for financial fraud, end Wall Street bailouts and make it easier for small community banks to serve the needs of local customers.

    Sadly, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has done the most harm to low-income, minority Americans and small businesses. We need to restore common sense to Washington’s regulatory structure, returning power to ordinary Americans, ensuring access to competitive financial services and respecting your right to make free and informed choices.

  • 03CreatingNormalizingThere are various conditions in America that hinder many citizens from achieving all the good that might otherwise be possible in their living. Among the most destructive of these is that our nation has sadly become amazingly proficient in creating and normalizing dependency. That is, making people not only physically dependent on government, but mentally convinced that government has a responsibility to provide for needs that should reasonably be satisfied through individual effort. 

    I think creating dependency requires convincing people that they are at a disadvantage that government must remove, or make adjustments that allow moving ahead, in spite of the disadvantage. An example of how this removing or adjusting looks can be found in an article titled “New York to Scrap Literacy Test for Teachers in the Name of Diversity” by Peter Hasson. Hasson reports that New York is moving toward scrapping the requirement that prospective teachers pass a basic reading and writing literacy exam. He writes, “The state’s Board of Regents is expected to ditch the Academic Literacy Skills Test in part because black and Hispanic teaching candidates struggled to pass the exam, according to the AP.” What New York is moving to do is the kind of action that says, “Don’t take on an attitude of working hard to meet standards. Government, or some other controlling entity, will lower the standard to allow you to qualify.”

     I do not deny there are instances where governmental action is necessary to rectify unacceptable conditions experienced by citizens. My concern is that various governmental entities intercede so routinely, and often seemingly automatically take actions that relieve citizens of individual responsibility. In the New York teacher exam situation, lowering the standards instead of determining why black and Hispanic candidates underperform and addressing those causes is the kind of response that is routine now. This response, which is rampant across America, fosters the expectation of repeated relief from individual effort and responsibility. When people experience this treatment over time, it is only reasonable that far too many will come to a point of existence that makes dependence on government a way of life. This is the creation of dependency.

    The absolutely scary condition is when the dependency model is normalized. That is, when government in particular, and society in general, come to the point of routinely operating in a fashion that minimizes, or totally eliminates, the requirement for
    individual responsibility.

    Normalization of the dependency model shows in what is happening by way of efforts to involuntarily annex Shaw Heights and Julie Heights. These neighborhoods surrounded by the City of Fayetteville are not part of the city. The area is referred to as a “doughnut hole” because of this situation. It is low income with a high percentage of rental properties, and most homes are on a septic tank. Various reports indicate that Fayetteville has not annexed Shaw and Julie Heights because property taxes would not cover the cost of providing the services that would be required by annexation. 

    Is it so outrageous that a city would consider cost in deciding whether to annex an area? Estimates to install a required sewer, if Shaw and Julie Heights are annexed, run as high as $7 million. The current Fayetteville arrangement is that property owners in annexed areas pay $5,000 toward the cost of making sewer service available. This does not cover the full cost of bringing service to an area. The balance is paid by the city and/or Public Works Commission. In 2005, Fayetteville annexed some 40,000 residents. The process of extending sewer service to those residents is still underway. The $5,000 payment applies, but the remaining cost was initially shared by the city and PWC. The full amount of the additional cost was later shifted to PWC. A recent rate increase approved for the utility was, in part, justified by PWC having to pay the additional cost of providing sewer service to the annexed area.

    Now consider my contention that the approach being pursued in annexing Shaw and Julie Heights reflects normalized dependency. That is, the dependency model is prevalent across America, and when presented with the situation in these neighborhoods, the response is to follow the model and press Fayetteville to annex the area. A major point of discussion is that property owners will have difficulty paying the $5,000 sewer charge. My expectation is that financial relief would somehow be provided for homeowners, at the expense of taxpayers, outside of the neighborhoods being annexed. 

    State Representative Elmer Floyd is proposing legislation that would add Shaw Heights and Julie Heights to Fayetteville. This would be forced annexation in that the residents of these areas, and of Fayetteville, do not get to vote on the matter. I think the following quotes from an article by Andrew Barksdale titled “Filling the ‘doughnut hole’” speak to my contention that the apparent course of this annexation effort fits the dependency model:

    “The bill’s primary sponsor, state Rep. Elmer Floyd, a Fayetteville Democrat, said it was time to bring Shaw Heights into the city. ‘It’s an area that has been discriminated against because of the residents,’ he said.

    “Joe Tolley, a long-time Shaw Heights resident and landlord, favors annexation and what would come with it — sewer, garbage collection and sidewalks. ‘We’re still suffering out here, and the city of Fayetteville could care less,’ he said, sitting in his office in a mobile home.

    “This week, the PWC’s legal interpretation on the sewer question was circulated to city officials. The PWC told The Fayetteville Observerthe document was privileged legal advice and not a public record, but the newspaper obtained a copy from another source. The memo said that while state-initiated annexations don’t require PWC to pay for sewer, the utility acknowledged that the legislature could make such a requirement in the bill itself. ‘This exception is far from clear and we are not certain how a court would interpret it in this situation,’ the PWC memo said.”

    These quotes from the Barksdale article fit the parameters of what I am calling the dependency model. The message is that the residents of Shaw Heights and Julie Heights have been and are mistreated. Granted, only one person is quoted, but my experience indicates the attitude of expecting relief at the expense of others is present. The PWC piece indicates there is at least concern that someone or some entity other than residents will shoulder the cost of running sewer to the area. Beyond the quotes, government is forcing this action on the citizens of those neighborhoods and of Fayetteville. These elements reflect the dependency model at work.

    Given that I see use of the dependency model as destructive and totally unacceptable, one might reasonably ask what I offer as an alternative. In an article titled “With Revitalization Efforts Stalled, ‘Shaw Heights needs help,’” posted on July 25 2015, Andrew Barksdale wrote:

    “Three years ago, then-Mayor Tony Chavonne had some out-of-the-box thinking of his own. He proposed that a portion of the $45 million parks bond package, which never went before voters, be used to put a sports field and a tennis center over 125 acres in Shaw Heights.”

    Those years ago, when I became aware of the proposal to which Barksdale refers,I called Mayor Chavonne and asked him to tell me more about his thinking. He explained that since the planned I-295 bypass would cross Murchison Road just above Shaw Heights, having a sports complex would attract people to the area. With this would come restaurants, motels and other job-producing businesses. Central to his idea was that residents of the Shaw Heights area would be trained for employment in those businesses. This approach would have provided opportunity for residents to improve their financial condition where necessary. 

    What Tony Chavonne proposed, and worked hard to achieve, ended up on the ever-growing trash heap of great ideas defeated by political bickering and grandstanding, along with adherence to the dependency model. My hope is that the day will come in Fayetteville, and across this nation, when, as the Chavonne approach very likely would have done, struggling citizens are given opportunities to become self-sufficient versus being dependent on government and, thereby, on taxpayers. Where people are not presented with and encouraged to a better way, dependency breeds dependency. If the Shaw Heights situation is addressed with this normal dependency model, we will almost certainly get more of what we have, except with water, sewer, and maybe sidewalks added. I think a visit to that trash heap of defeated and neglected great ideas is in order. 

  • 02BetterWaycacThe Precious Jewels have birthdays early in the year. One has passed, and two are imminent, which means that parenthood and child raising are much on my mind this time of year. It also means reflections over their childhoods and their paths from bouncing babies to young adults. My rearview mirror tells me each has had significant bumps in the road, but they seem largely happy and productive.

    I wish I could say that for every child.

    The recent deaths of two babies — one a toddler and one less than a week old — in our community and two murder charges brought against their father have shaken me and many others to our cores. None of us want to believe this happens among us or anywhere else. But it does, which is why the Cumberland County Child Advocacy Center exists, and why respected leaders in our community like retired Chief District Court Judge Elizabeth Keever and a host of both professionals and lay people support and volunteer for CAC. 

    It is also why April is Child Abuse Prevention Month across our country.

    Child Advocacy Centers, including ours, work miracles for children who have been abused in any way, most often sexually and generally by someone in their own worlds, not a stranger. Prior to existence of the services a CAC now provides, an abused child had to relive his or her experience time and time again, telling it to all manner of adult authority figures. These included parents, grandparents, other caretakers, law enforcement, medical and mental health workers, social workers, and perhaps school personnel, among others. CAC coordinates the delivery of needed services, making it necessary for the child to tell the story only one time and then move on to healing. It is no exaggeration to say that for many children, CAC is a literal lifesaver.

    Our CAC has assisted thousands of children over the last 24 years, but numbers do not tell the pain of their stories and the power of the help CAC provides. Without identifying details, here are the stories of a few of the children who came through CAC’s door over the last year. 

    A 13-year-old girl was raped by cousins. She was unable to give details because she did not want to cry.

    A 12-year-old girl was raped at her sister’s apartment. This compounded prior sexual abuse beginning when she was five by a 17-year-old cousin.

    A 9-year-old girl was raped over a three-year period by her stepfather, who is now in jail. She was unable to speak about the abuse but wanted to write about it. Mom, who was molested as a child herself, has moved out of the home and taken
    her children.

    A woman and seven children were victims of domestic violence by the husband/father and have moved into a two-bedroom home with a grandmother.

    A 9-year-old girl told her great-grandmother that Mom’s boyfriend had been molesting her and making her watch pornography. Mom worked nights, leaving her children with
    her boyfriend.

    A 3-year-old girl was forced to play sexual “games” with a male family friend who is now in jail.

    A 4-year-old girl was molested by her own father who told her he would kill her if she told anyone.

    Most of these girls are in counseling through CAC. And while these examples involve girls, hundreds of boys have also been assisted and counseled by CAC. Sadly, child abuse is an equal opportunity offense.

    Two years ago, the Cumberland County CAC received a $50,000 award from the Lilly Endowment Challenge at the Cumberland Community Foundation, and the matching funds challenge was met, giving the CAC’s endowment fund a $100,000 boost. Endowments are critical to nonprofit organizations, because they can free staff and boards of directors from ongoing fundraising efforts and provide a safety net to the organization as well as interest income. 

    So here comes the shameless ask. 

    If you know a child who has been abused, if you have sympathy for children like the ones above, or if you simply love a child, please consider donating to the Cumberland County CAC Endowment Fund. It will be well used to provide for children who have experienced the most damaging kind of abuse — an abuse of trust. While the children who go through CAC may not be our children, each and every one of them is someone’s Precious Jewel, and each and every one of them deserves to feel safe, and with any luck, loved.

  • 01Chamber CEOIt was welcomed news that Greater Fayetteville Chamber leadership has finally hired a new president and CEO to take over the growth and development of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber. Christine Michaels of Brandon, Florida, will take the helm as the new president. Fayetteville is a dynamic and growing community and needs a strong Chamber of Commerce. Local businessman Darsweil Rogers, president of RMC Strategies, has done a yeoman’s job in holding the organization together as interim Chamber president, but, the truth be known, the worth of any Chamber membership is in the value it brings to its members. The local Chamber should be the leading business organization in the community, advocating for not just small businesses, but for all business, industries and organizations. 

    The last couple of years, our Chamber has been crippled by an unfortunate combination of inadequate qualifications, misplaced priorities, weak leadership skills and an apathetic and ineffective board of directors that have culminated in our once proud and efficient Chamber losing its respected position as an effective business advocate and agent of change for local progress. Hence, the loss of membership. 

    That’s the bad news. The good news is this situation is an easy fix with the right leader, a strong focused board of directors, a competent staff and the desire and intestinal fortitude of the community to “do the right things for the right reasons.” Currently, there is a major Chamber emphasis on growing the membership. The reality is that pushing to increase membership without adding value to Chamber programs will only make the situation worse in the long run. 

    I am a huge Chamber advocate. I built my entire company on the back of a strong and respectable Greater Fayetteville Chamber. I know how important it is. This is why it is my hope that the new CEO brings with her the talent, leadership and fortitude that can rebuild, revitalize and reinstitute prestige, value and clout back into our local organization. Of course, she will need some assistance, and I hope that readily comes from the support and cooperation of all city, county and local economic development agencies, including the Downtown Alliance. 

    The Chamber needs programs that add value to business and industry to help them grow, develop and prosper. It is this kind of advocacy that builds value, and in turn increases membership. Like everything else, it comes down to quality over quantity. In this case, quality equals
    quantity (memberships). 

    It is doubly important in this community where our residential population is constantly changing. This being said, it is encouraging to see our Greater Fayetteville Chamber partnering with the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina to sponsor the upcoming Leadership Simulcast and “Shop Local” Business 2 Business Expo April on 12. 

    Not only will this be a full day of free events promoting the value of teamwork and leadership, it will feature “shop local” themes and showcase local businesses and organizations that bring quality, dependable products and services to consumers with the highest degree of honesty and integrity. Why is this important? Because unlike other communities, Fayetteville/Cumberland County welcomes approximately 1,500 new families into our community each month. (Yep, 1,500! Not people. Families. Each month.) Our office receives the names and addresses of every one of them — every month. And we send every one of them a personal “Welcome to Fayetteville” greeting each month. 

    Again, why is this important? Because 1,500 families that were shopping at their favorite local stores, eating at local restaurants and using local services will be leaving the Fayetteville community and the new arriving families have no idea where to shop, eat or receive services. They don’t know which local businesses demonstrate the highest standards in quality, integrity and honesty. So, the Better Business Bureau and the Chamber work hand in hand to raise the profiles of quality businesses while encouraging consumers to do business locally
    with confidence. 

    This is a win-win for everyone. Both are good for business and community growth and development. We welcome Christine Michaels to the Fayetteville community as the incoming president and CEO of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber. We look forward to supporting her efforts in leading our Chamber to new and inspiring heights in a community destined for greatness. 

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • The public can help shape the future of the Murchison corridor and submit transformation ideas during a public forum on April 5.

    During the public event, participants can express thoughts and ideas about future housing in the area. Neighbors will be asked to rank ideas for the Murchison Choice revitalization plan including needs for housing, retail businesses, food stores and restaurants and other services. In addition to City staff, Fayetteville State University representatives will be available to discuss the university's Master Plan which defines and outlines its future growth impacting the area. 

    The event will also be family-friendly for people who want to contribute but have kids. Three little libraries will be on display during the forum along with new Murchison Community coloring books. There will also be free snacks and a chance to win raffle prizes.

    City of Fayetteville Economic and Community Development team members and key community partners in the Murchison Choice Neighborhood Planning project will listen to residents, answer questions and take note of feedback on April 5 at the Rudolph Jones Student Center at Fayetteville State University from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. 

    The forum will take place at the Rudolph Jones Student Center at FSU from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

    In December 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the City of Fayetteville and Fayetteville Metropolitan Housing Authority (FMHA) a $450,000 grant to revitalize Murchison Road between Rowan Street and Pamalee Drive/Country Club Drive. The City and FMHA plan to apply for a competitive $50 million federal grant to implement plans identified for the Murchison Corridor through the Choice planning process.

    The city has set up a website to detail the plans and to get community input. The website can be found here.

  • The Fayetteville Technical Community College Board of Trustees has formed a Presidential Search Committee to lead the process of finding a replacement for President Dr. J. Larry Keen, who will be retiring in 2023.

    The committee comprises representatives of FTCC’s Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and student body. Community input on the preferred qualifications and characteristics of the ideal candidate will be sought through surveys and public forums. That input from the public will be factored into the committee’s development of a Presidential Profile, which will be used in a national search for FTCC’s next president.

    There will be four total public forums - three at the FTCC's Fayetteville Campus and one at the Spring Lake campus.

    The three public forums in the Cumberland Hall Auditorium at 2215 Hull Road on FTCC’s Fayetteville campus are scheduled for:

    • Tuesday, April 26, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
    • Wednesday, April 27, from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.
    • Thursday, April 28, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

    The public forum scheduled for FTCC’s Spring Lake campus at 171 Laketree Boulevard is Thursday, April 28, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

    Anyone wishing to complete the survey may do so at this link - https://www.research.net/r/FTCC_Search.

  • 01 NextGenHere we go again. Fayetteville, hold on to your wallets. Fayetteville's Public Works Commission, our Hometown Utility that provides water, electricity and sewer services to about one-third of the Cumberland County population, is again the proverbial Holy Grail of efficient revenue-producing utilities.

    Our city leadership is intrigued at the thought and prospect of looting and pillaging its coffers with the assistance of Bernhard Capital Partners of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a private equity management company with NO track record in successful utility management.

    Yet, they scour North Carolina for municipalities that are incredibly desperate for money or overly staffed with fiscally ignorant and incompetent leadership. This being the case, no wonder Bernhard has planted themselves firmly in Fayetteville with their rapacious sights set on our Hometown Utility.

    I'm just an average Fayetteville resident. I don't fully understand the complicated and complex negotiations that go into making up multi-million dollar transactions like this; however, I can recognize the elements of a potential ruse.

    The Bernhard Capital group has all the signs that shout out, "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!!!" Let's hope our city officials hear that precautionary warning because selling PWC could have them dancing with the devil and living with a poor and costly decision for the next three decades.

    Yes, all the signs are there: Unpublicized meetings with Fayetteville city officials, the restrictive non-disclosure agreements Bernhard makes everyone sign, promises of utility rate reductions and ratepayer rebates, financial contributions to local and state politicians, the hiring of a local law firm and out of town PR firm, appearances on local radio shows expounding on the benefits of such a deal, and the promise of relocating the Bernhard headquarters in Fayetteville with additional pledges of many more Bernhard companies to follow suit. Wow! Those are the kind of enticements a city and economic development office can really get their arms around. Right?

    One central question remains, and it's the hardest one to answer and always seems to come back and haunt the negotiations. That is: Why would the city of Fayetteville sell a utility asset organization that leads the state and nation in low equable utility rates, profitability, customer service, community responsiveness, and is an award-winning model of effective and efficient corporate management, proficiency and fiscal responsibility?

    Good question, huh? Well, I'm sure many of you can answer that question in one word: Greed. In two words: Immense greed! Unfortunately, the attributes PWC seems to enjoy the city of Fayetteville has found to be elusive to them. Significantly, over the past decade. If you need evidence, look no further than services provided by City Hall.

    Look at our elevated crime rate, the filth, and litter that carpets our streets, the hordes of homeless panhandlers menacing our businesses, destroying our property, defecating in our storefronts, and running off our customers. And, when it comes to fiscal responsibility, Fayetteville taxpayers need only to look across the street from City Hall at our new parking deck we paid PCH $18 million to build. Of course, it came in years past due and millions of dollars over budget. Recently, our Mayor and City Council then paid PCH another $500K of taxpayer money for a practically useless concrete corner in the same building. Incredible.

    Again, I'm a taxpaying citizen, not a rocket scientist, but is this the responsible leadership you would entrust to negotiate the sale of one of our most valuable assets? I think not. With Bernhard's track record of having No Track Record in utility management, placing hundreds of millions of dollars in their hands would be the height of irresponsibility and recklessness.

    I hope that the Fayetteville community speaks up loud and clear on this issue before we get stuck with another PCH parking deck fiasco. Only this costly mistake is guaranteed to be around, haunting us for thirty years. Everyone must demand answers from Mitch Colvin and their ONE Fayetteville City Council member.

    Ask why they would consider selling such a valuable asset like PWC when it is recognized as one of the most well-managed, profitable and responsive utilities in the nation. Not to mention having the lowest consumer utility rates in the state.Fayetteville needs to ask that question before it is too late.
    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 11 Resized 20210327 1558431Every 73 seconds an American becomes a victim of sexual assault, according to RAINN, the Rape Assault Incest National Network.

    The month of April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or SAAM, and many groups continue to raise awareness of these crimes and prevention efforts. Many organizations offer resources locally for victims and their families
    affected.

    One local organization has been working since 1976 to achieve zero tolerance for crimes of sexual violence and to reduce its trauma. Rape Crisis of Cumberland County was established to provide services to victims of sexual assault, and they now also assist those affected by domestic violence and human trafficking.

    The agency’s team consists of several victim advocates including cold case, sexual assault and domestic violence advocates and the directors and volunteers to provide direct victim services, and a contracted counselor. They offer free services to those in need, and assistance is not contingent upon a police report.

    “We have a 24-hour crisis line that is staffed either with staff members or volunteer advocates, holidays, weekends, 2 o’clock in the morning — whenever someone might need to reach out and talk to us,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director Rape Crisis of Cumberland County.

    Some of the services offered include hospital calls where advocates respond to victims in the hospital and walk them through the steps of the rape kit, their rights, address what happened, help identify medical needs and more.

    “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of cases [reported] has been very low,” said Gerdes. “I don’t think the crime has dropped, but because people in the beginning of the pandemic were unsure who was open, or how to safely make contact and they were stuck at home, there’s been a dip in reporting. But in the years to come we will have those numbers figured out.”

    The organization receives its funds from the Governor's Crime Commission, North Carolina Council for Women, the Department of Justice and donors.
    Board member and volunteer Juaneza Vivian raises money by selling arts and crafts from her business “Cookie’s Crafts 4 Crisis.”

    “When I started the funding was low, and all my proceeds go to RCC,” Vivian said. “My mission is to help eradicate sexual assault the best I know how, selling my crafts to give into RCC is my way of helping.”

    Matthew Kelley, a victim advocate of four years said he responds to emergency room calls and provides support to victims.

    Advocates ask if they have a ride home, if they’re going home to a safe environment, or if they have clothes to leave the hospital with, Gerdes mentioned.

    “Advocacy is really what we do, and it looks completely different for everyone,” Gerdes said. “We explain resources, their rights, what options they have as far as law enforcement or military or job related issues. We do leave it up to individuals to determine their path, we don't create their path for them.”

    The victim advocates also attend court appearances with victims if needed, walking them through the courthouse
    proceedings.

    “It’s scary to even figure out where parking is at the courthouse, it’s scary to walk in and we know that. We actually walk them through, so we’ll meet them in the parking lot or at the agency,” Gerdes said. “We understand the courthouse website and where to be.”

    Rape Crisis currently offers virtual support groups for victims during the pandemic, along with in-person counselling. In situations where the victim doesn’t have a safe place to go to, they offer funds for travel and a short-term hotel stay.

    The organization takes on cold cases as well, where someone doesn’t immediately come forward following an assault. The state of North Carolina has no statute of limitations for rape.

    Gerdes said they helped 560 individuals in the year before the pandemic. While the ratio of men to women survivors differs by location and there are lower reports in men possibly due to stigma, the crisis center sees more male victims from
    Fort Bragg.

    U.S. Air Force units located at Pope Army Airfield on Fort Bragg offer various services and help victims of sexual assault through their Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, or SAPR, program for active-duty members and their family members. These services include restricted reports, medical, mental and behavioral health services, and legal aid.

    The SAPR office does not provide mental health services in-house, but connects victims with those services located at Womack Medical Center and mental health services available outside post, said SAPR Victim Advocate Elenah Kelly.

    “Sometimes victims feel uncomfortable seeking mental health services on post in concerns with their records or further employment,” she said. “So as a victim advocate it is my responsibility to give them options like the Vet Center, and Steven Cohen Military Family Clinic at Cape Fear Valley where there are no records kept and doesn’t require any payment for veterans.”

    Another service they offer is the Special Victims Council, which connects the victim with a legal representative to understand their rights, options if and when they want to report the assault, and launch an investigation.

    “We have two reporting options, restricted and unrestricted,” SAPR Coordinator Karen Smith said. “When we have a restricted reporting option that means a person can make a confidential report, we are not mandated to report to law enforcement or command. Unrestricted type is where the victims choose to report it, they want it investigated, and want to hold the subject accountable.”

    The SAPR program offers an expedited transfer for victims that make a report to relocate them if needed.

    “We also offer protective orders,” Kelly said. “There's the military protective order which covers the military post, mandated by the commander, giving the victim a protective order from their perpetrator.”

    Smith said that a resource offered to all branches of the military is the DoD Safe Helpline, and the app can be found on the app store for military members and
    dependents.

    “It is 100 percent confidential and anonymous, available 24-7, you can call, text,” Smith said. “Sometimes it may be 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning and you can’t sleep and you’re having triggers, that DoD Safe Helpline is a great resource, and that number is 877-995-5247.”

    The SAPR team has been hosting many events as part of sexual assault awareness month. Some of the events include a virtual 5k, promoting wearing teal, the color for SAAM. The Respect the Rock event found members painting rocks teal with messages on them spread throughout the base. They also hosted a door decorating contest, where participants decorated doors to spread the message of sexual assault awareness.

    There was also a kickoff video where several unit commanders joined the SAPR team for a message about being the one, protecting our people and protecting our mission. The video encourages everyone to be the one to step in, to be the one to see something, say something, be the one to help someone in need. On April 28, they are celebrating International Denim Day and encouraging folks to wear denim.

    Smith echoed the message from the video that we all have a responsibility to be the one to help others in the community when possible.

    Gerdes from Rape Crisis Center said often the best thing the community can do in terms of support for the victims is understand them and believe them.
    Victim advocate Matthew Kelley said prevention remains a key when addressing sexual assault.

    “Instead of teaching people when to go out, what to wear, we should be teaching people about what consensual sex actually is and raise and educate people to not commit these crimes,” Kelley said.

    Some of the other organizations that survivors can seek help in Cumberland County are the Care Center, Fayetteville Police Department and the Child Advocacy Center.

    “We have a great sexual assault advocacy team in Cumberland County, and I am really, really proud of it,” Gerdes said. “Law enforcement, prosecutors, district attorneys, legal aid and when I say we are a team, we are absolutely a team — we hold each other accountable. And we are all very victim-centered and that’s wonderful.”

     

    Local Area Resources

    Rape Crisis of Cumberland County
    519 Ramsey St., Fayetteville
    24-Hour Local Hotline: 910-485-7273
    National Sexual Assault Hotline:
    1-800-656-4673

    Pope Army Airfield SAPR 24/7
    Hotline: 910-394-7272
    www.facebook.com/PopeSAPR1

    Fort Bragg Army SHARP Hotline: 910-
    584-4267

    Fayetteville Vet Center, 2301 Robeson
    St. #103, Fayetteville, 910-488-6252

    Cohen Clinic: 910-615-3737

    SAFE of Harnett County
    Crisis Line: 910-893-7233
    www.safeofhc.org

    Hoke County Domestic Violence and
    Sexual Assault Center, 225 S. Main St.
    Raeford Crisis Line: 910-878-0118

    Friend to Friend: Carthage
    Crisis Line: 910-947-3333
    www.moorefriends.org

    12 170405 F CD624 0005

  • 13 patient consultThe Commission on Cancer, a quality program of the American College of Surgeons has granted three-year accreditation to the cancer program at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center as an Academic Comprehensive Cancer Program.

    To earn voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program must meet 34 CoC quality care standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process, and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care. Only 13% of cancer treatment programs hold the Academic Comprehensive Cancer Program designation.

    “This accreditation is considered the gold standard in cancer care,” said Cape Fear Valley’s Executive Corporate Director of Oncology Services Kanwar Singh. “It’s a voluntary accreditation with prescriptive standards, and we challenge ourselves to meet these rigorous quality care standards. Because the accreditation is multi-disciplinary in nature, it also acknowledges the teamwork from areas of Cape Fear Valley beyond the Cancer Center.”

    The Academic Comprehensive Cancer Program designation is an advancement from the program’s previous designation as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, and further means that the program participates in postgraduate medical education in at least four program areas, and that it participates in cancer-related clinical research as well as offering the full range of diagnostic and treatment either on-site or by referral. Cape Fear Valley Health has residency programs in Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, General Surgery and Emergency Medicine.

    Because it is a CoC-accredited cancer program, Cape Fear Valley Cancer Treatment and Cyberknife Center takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists. This multidisciplinary partnership results in improved patient care.

    The CoC Accreditation Program provides the framework for Cape Fear Valley Cancer Treatment and Cyberknife Center to improve its quality of patient care through various cancer-related programs that focus on the full spectrum of cancer care including prevention, early diagnosis, cancer staging, optimal treatment, rehabilitation, life-long follow-up for recurrent disease, and end-of-life care. When patients receive care at a CoC facility, they also have access to information on clinical trials and new treatments, genetic counseling and patient centered services including psycho-social support, a patient navigation process, and a survivorship care plan that documents the care each patient receives and seeks to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.

    Like all CoC-accredited facilities, Cape Fear Valley Cancer Treatment and Cyberknife Center maintains a cancer registry and contributes data to the National Cancer Data Base, a joint program of the CoC and American Cancer Society.

    This nationwide oncology outcomes database is the largest clinical disease registry in the world. Data on all types of cancer are tracked and analyzed through the NCDB and used to explore trends in cancer care. CoC-accredited cancer centers, in turn, have access to information derived from this type of data analysis, which is used to create national, regional and state benchmark reports. These reports help CoC facilities with their quality improvement efforts.

    There are currently more than 1,500 CoC-accredited cancer programs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. CoC-accredited facilities diagnose and/or treat more than 70% of all newly diagnosed patients with cancer. When cancer patients choose to seek care locally at a CoC-accredited cancer center, they are gaining access to comprehensive, state-of-the-art cancer care close to home. The CoC provides the public with information on the resources, services, and cancer treatment experience for each CoC-accredited cancer program through the CoC Hospital Locator at https://www.facs.org/search/cancer-programs.

    Established in 1922 by the American College of Surgeons, the CoC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving patient outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education, and the monitoring of comprehensive, quality care. Its membership includes Fellows of the American College of Surgeons. For more information, visit: www.facs.org/cancer.

    For more information about the Cape Fear Valley Health System and its services visit www.CapeFearValley.com.

  • 04 Bertino coin presentation ASOMRepresentatives from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands honored World War II veteran Don Bertino on April 17 for his role in the liberation of the Dutch people from Nazi oppression. He was one of several surviving veterans from eight allied countries to receive recognition from the Netherlands in advance of Liberation Day to be celebrated on May 5.

    The ceremony took place at the Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum where Bertino is a volunteer.

    Captain Mark Brouwer, an officer in The Netherlands Marine Corps, presided over the presentation on behalf of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Brouwer is assigned to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville.

    Bertino, 96, is a native of Pennsylvania but came to North Carolina more than 60 years ago. He now lives in Fayetteville with his daughter. Bertino was drafted into the Army in 1943 at the age of 18. He would serve as part of a 90 mm anti-aircraft gun team in locations from Normandy, Belgium to Berlin. After World War II, he was again called into service during the Korean War. Bertino reached the rank of Private First Class during his service in WWII. During the Korean War, Bertino reached the rank of Sergeant.

    During his time in the military, Bertino was stationed in several installations from Pennsylvania to Fort Bliss, Texas, then Louisiana and New York before shipping overseas. After his time in the military, he became a bricklayer in his native Pennsylvania, where the weather up north was too cold to lay brick year-round.

    “My brother-in-law left Pennsylvania in 1938 to attend Duke University, and in 1959, he told me if I wanted to lay brick 12 months out of the year, the Carolinas were the place to do it,” said Bertino about his work.

    During an exchange with Brouwer, Bertino mentioned that, of the seven countries in Europe he’d been to, the Netherlands treated him the best. When asked the worst part of his time in the Netherlands Bertino responded with, “one of Hitler’s bombs on Christmas Day,” recalling a moment from his combat service.

    Bertino recalled his first day of service as “fast and furious.”

    “They threw us a bag of clothes, dressed us up, and said get on that train,” said Bertino about that day in 1943. This took place in Pennsylvania, and three days later he said he was in El Paso. Though not everyone Bertino served with made it home, he considers himself fortunate. “I was at the right place at the right time. The enemy didn’t get me, I got them.”

    Bertino left military service in June of 1952 and continues to encourage younger men and women now serving: “Try and stay in for 20 years if you can,” he says. “Stay in, do a good job, and honor our country.”

  • 08 nurses week virtual 5kSince first hearing the word "coronavirus," we have found ways to do just about everything we need to from a distance or virtually. This includes shopping, work, school, appointmentss and even fundraising.

    Cape Fear Valley Health nurses are hosting a virtual 5K from May 1-15 to raise money for the Nursing Education Scholarship to help those pursuing a career in nursing or nurses who are advancing their education.

    “This is the first year for us to hold a 5K,” said organizer Beth Langley, Ph.D., RN, who is a Nursing Quality Specialist with Cape Fear Valley.

    “This will be the biggest fund raiser we’ve ever done in the community. With the pandemic, doing this virtually seemed like a safe place to start. It’s been very affirming to see members of the public get involved.”

    Since its inception in 2017, the Nursing Education Scholarship has helped over 24 Cape Fear Valley Health nurses work towards advancing their education.

    The goal of fundraisers like the Nurses Week 5k is to not only assist current nurses enhance their skills but also to create a permanent source of scholarship funding to continue supporting nurses into the future.

    To sign up for the 5K, go to https://runsignup.com/Race/NC/Fayetteville/NursesWeek5K. The cost to participate is $25. Registration is open through May 15.

    Participants can register as individual runners or as part of a team. Those wishing to help, but not run, can donate to support an individual runner, team, or to the overall fundraising effort.

    Because the event is virtual, participants can walk or run their 5K at any location and can divide their 5K into several days. Particiapants are encouraged to get their family, friends and even co-workers involved in the cause.

    Langley said she is aware of several participants who have mapped out laps around their workplace, which they will use on their lunch breaks to complete their 5K over multiple days.

    Sponsorships opportunities are available for businesses and organizations interested in supporting the Nursing Education Scholarship and the Nurses Week 5K.

    “We’ve also been honored by the level of community support we’ve received from our sponsors,” Langley said. “They help make this event happen.”

    Among the event’s top sponsors are Castle Uniforms, Boone Trail Fit Body Boot Camp, Victoria Baskett Patient Safety Foundation, and Cumberland Anesthesia.

    For more information about the Nurses Week Virtual 5K, contact Langley at mlangley@capefearvalley.com or 910-615-5865.

  • 05 summer schoolMany North Carolina children are suffering setbacks in their education because of the ongoing pandemic. “The quality of education in North Carolina has been affected,” says State Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland). He said students across the state may be unable to advance to the next grade level. “Because of this, my colleagues and I chose to sponsor the Summer Learning Choice Bill.” House Bill 82 was signed into law by Gov. Cooper on April 16. The bill, known as the Summer Learning Choice Bill for NC Families, creates a fully funded, six-weeks, in-person summer program with the goal of addressing learning loss during the pandemic.

    School districts will identify students who are at risk and offer their parents the option to enroll them in the summer program. If space allows, students not considered at risk for failing could enroll in the program. According to the bill, the summer program will not meet for instruction on Saturdays, and meals will be provided to students. For more information on House Bill 82 visit www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2021/H82

  • 02 royals pic from instagramEditor's note: The original version of this article ran 10 years ago this month. Columnist Margaret Dickson updated it for those of us who have recently been thinking of the royal family.

    The Windsors were a part of our household when I was growing up. I saw them frequently and viewed the Windsor children who were close to my age as my chums. Our mothers dressed us in much the same ways, and it seemed to me that we had common interests and experiences as “baby boomer” children growing up in the decades following World War II. It did not register with me that the Windsor children’s mother was Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and all its dominions, and mine was, well, my mother.

    My father had been an Army medic in England, and he and another soldier boarded in the home of an English widow. My father, a personable and courtly southerner, struck up an acquaintance with the widow, Mrs. Fox, which endured until she died many years later. I suppose because the two young families, the Windsors and mine, were in the same stage of life, she sent us many books about the British Royal Family.

    I did not recognize this then, of course, but the books were well-crafted public relations efforts to portray the Royal Family as — almost — regular folks. Like similar books about the Kennedy family during the Camelot years, these books were filled with wonderful and charming family photographs. Some were formal portraits involving crowns, scepters, and robes trimmed with ermine. Most, though, were family scenes, concocted I am now sure to garner and keep the affection of the Queen‘s subjects. The Queen’s son Charles, who much later would be humiliated when a recording of him expressing a wish to be in his mistress’ “trousers,” was actually a cute little boy and her daughter Anne had Shirley Temple-like yellow curls. They and their younger brothers were pictured swinging, playing with their dogs, and, occasionally, getting into some slight mischief.

    I loved these books and once asked my father to ask Mrs. Fox to invite the Windsor children to visit us in Fayetteville. I imagined they would enjoy running around with the children and dogs in our Haymount neighborhood as much as my sister and I did, and they probably would have. Maybe they would even have gotten dirty. Needless to say, they never showed.

    There has been much water over the dam since then for both the Windsors and my little family, but I still have a soft spot for the Windsors, and a special and enduring fondness for the Queen who reminds me of the mother I continue to miss 46 years later.

    The Queen has remained unruffled and serene for well over half a century as she presided over everything from the final dismantling of the once-global British Empire to the toe-sucking antics and infidelities of my long-ago imaginary playmates and their ever-wacky spouses. Think of watching your empire shrink as the European Union took hold. Imagine what it felt like to see the monetary system adorned by your own face and those of your ancestors be eclipsed by the drab but convenient Euro.

    Now, she is marking both the death of her husband of more than 7 decades and her own 95th birthday the same month.
    Queen Elizabeth has done all this and more with dignity and a constant and unwavering hairdo that could have been styled at a downtown Fayetteville beauty parlor in 1965.

    I have a favorite Queen Elizabeth story that pretty much sums her up, at least my vision of her. It seems the Queen was out walking her beloved Corgis one day, her security detail at a discrete English distance. One of her subjects approached and cluelessly observed, “My, you certainly look like the Queen.” To which Her Majesty, Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and Defender of the Faith, replied serenely, “That’s reassuring.”

    As she stays calm and carries on, I wish I could send my own birthday greeting, coined long ago by a toddler who could not quite get it all out.

    “Hap to you, your Majesty.”

  • 14 MBB all region collage 768x432Three Fayetteville Tech men’s basketball players were named to the All-Region 10 Division II team for the 2021 season.

    Tyreik McCallum earned second-team honors, while Donte Johnson and JeKael Gay made third team.
    All sophomore forwards, the trio played a key part in the Trojans’ success this season, which ended April 3 with the program’s second straight appearance in the regional quarterfinals.

    “Tyreik has been an all-around producer for us,” head coach Brian Hurd said.

    “Donte turned into a consistent presence on offense and defense. And JeKael has really made the most of his experience at the two-year level, on the court and in the
    classroom.”

    McCallum and Johnson each landed in the top five among all NJCAA Division II players in field-goal percentage, with McCallum’s 68.8 percent landing him third on the list and Johnson holding the No. 5 spot at 65.5 percent.

    McCallum led the Trojans in scoring and rebounding for the season, averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 boards per game.

    The 6-foot-4 Lumberton native’s totals came despite an abbreviated 11-game season, cut short due to injury with five games left to play.

    Johnson scored 10.8 points and pulled down 5.1 rebounds per game. Late in the season, the 6-foot-5 post player showed a penchant for accuracy from 3-point range, going 5-for-6 in the last four games and finishing the season shooting 63.6 percent from behind the arc.

    Gay, who like Johnson is a Greene Central High School product, made perhaps the biggest strides year-over-year of any player on the Trojans’ roster.

    He averaged 13.3 points on the year and 4.3 rebounds and added another dimension by developing his 3-point shot. He shot 45.5 percent on 3-pointers, second in Region 10 DII behind teammate Chance Minott.

    Pictured Above: FTCC men's basketball players (left to right) Tyreik McCallum, Donte Johnson, and JeKael Gey earned All-Region 10 Division II honors for the 2021 season. (imagery courtesy of Fayetteville Technical Community College). 

  • 06 recycling cart 2On May 1, curbside recycling in the city of Fayetteville will occur every other week. The city will replace standard 35-gallon roll out carts with larger 96-gallon carts. Residents are asked to place their carts at the curb on their regularly scheduled recycling days for replacement. There will be no cost to Fayetteville residents for the newer 96-gallon carts. Eighty percent of customers currently use the small trash bins. They have to be turned in to receive the bigger ones. Customers who already have 96-gallon carts will also receive the newer carts if they like. City Council approved the purchase of 64,000 96-gallon carts at a cost of $3.3 million. The city expects to realize significant cost savings over time. In just five years following the transition, estimated savings are projected to be $775,000.

  • 09 N1309P17004HThe Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center is holding multiple blood drives this month to combat the continuing critical shortage of donated blood. Officials warn that Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center has reached the lowest level of supply for crucial Type O- and Type O+ blood the health system has seen since the pandemic started. The health system is urging residents in Cumberland, Bladen, Harnett and Hoke Counties to donate blood at one of several local blood drives.

    The health system considers a “critical” level of blood supply to be less than three days, but the center currently has less than a one-day supply of Type O+ and Type O- blood. While all blood types are accepted for donation, these blood types are particularly useful because they can be used in emergency situations and for all trauma patients as well as neonatal babies. Type O- is the universal blood type, which can be transfused to all blood types, regardless of the recipient’s blood type. Type O+ is the most common blood type people have in the United States.

    “Because of COVID, we’ve been battling urgent shortages on and off since last year,” said Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center Manager Amy Fisher. “But in the last couple of months our urgent shortage has become even more critical. We are the sole providers who supply all the hospitals in the Cape Fear Valley Health system and our blood donors save lives across the region.”

    Cape Fear Valley Health System is the 8th largest regional health system in North Carolina with more than 1 million inpatient and outpatients annually. A private not-for-profit organization, it includes Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital, Cape Fear Valley Rehabilitation Center, Behavioral Health Care, Bladen County Hospital, Hoke Hospital, Health Pavilion North, Health Pavilion Hoke and Harnett Health. For more information, visit www.CapeFearValley.com.

    “At last count, there are only nine units of O positive blood left for patients at Cape Fear Valley Health,” Fisher said last week. “That’s nine units of O positive for the entire health system, which uses the blood in Cumberland, Bladen, Hoke and Harnett counties.”

    Fisher said the Blood Donor Center has 35 units of O-, which is still considered a shortage. One patient could deplete that supply.

    “One person has about 12 units of blood in their body. If only one person needed a total blood transfusion, we would run out of O+ blood to transfuse,” Fisher said.

    Donating blood is a selfless act that saves lives. Blood donors recognize the vital role they play in patient care, but some may wonder if it's safe to donate blood during the pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is safe for anyone who is well to donate blood. That even goes for people who are social distancing due to COVID-19.

    Blood donors can find a blood drive near them by checking www.savingliveslocally.org/blood_drives.aspx. No appointment is needed. Donors can also visit the Blood Donor Center at 3357 Village Drive, Fayetteville, in the Bordeaux Shopping Center. It is open for donations Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the third Saturday of each month, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, please call 910-615-LIFE (615-5433).

    The Blood Donor Center offers enticements to encourage donors to lend a vein, such as a COVID-19 antibody screening. Swag varies by location and event, but donors have recently received a free T-shirt and coupons for a free pizza from Papa Murphy’s in Fayetteville. Local high school students who donate can enter to win a car from Powers Swain Chevrolet. Friends and family members of high school students can also donate on their high school student’s behalf to earn additional entries for their student in the drawing. A winner in the car drawing will be chosen July 26 at Powers Swain Chevrolet.

    Below is a listing of scheduled mobile blood drive locations. Updates are posted on the website.

    April 28: Tony Rand Student Center/FTCC,
    9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2201 Hull Road, Fayetteville

    April 29: Stoney Point Fire Department, 5-9 p.m., 7221 Stoney Point Road, Fayetteville,910-424-0694

    April 30: American Freight, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1240 Ireland Drive, Fayetteville

    April 30: West Park Apartments, 4-6:30 p.m., 5600 Fountain Grove Circle, Fayetteville, 910-779-0580

    May 1: Highland Centre, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2550 Ravenhill Drive, Fayetteville, 910-223-0765

    May 4: Anderson Creek Fire Department, 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., 6200 Overhills Road, Spring Lake, 910-497-1157

    May 5: South Main Apartments, 1-4 p.m., 4003 William Bill Luther Drive, Hope Mills

    May 7: Chick-Fil-A Ramsey, 1-3 p.m., 4611 Ramsey St., Fayetteville, 910-488-1907

  • 10 Close up New Kelp Cityi by Skylor SwannThe process of duplicating images goes back several thousand years to the Sumerians (c. 3000 B.C.), carving designs on
    ceramic cylinders made of dried clay or stone, then rolling the cylinders over clay tablets to leave impressions. In lieu of clay tablets, the artists in Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print were asked to combine an illusionary printing process with, or as, a 3-dimensional form.

    Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print opens May 4 at Gallery 208 in Fayetteville. Artists from various disciplines (photography, ceramics, printmaking, painting and the graphic arts) were asked to take the medium they usually work in, but successfully integrate 2-dimensional, reproductive print imagery with a 3-dimensional form.

    One of the eight artists, Shane Booth, a professional photographer, has been exploring the cyanotype photograph for several years and decided to explore the cyanotype image as a sculptural form for the exhibit. Booth noted, “as a photographer I’m attracted to pattern, negative space and texture- visual texture, not the physical tactile. In thinking about how to integrate my latest cyanotypes of animals into a sculptural form, it was necessary to think about space in a very different way than I usually think about it.”

    After experimenting with ways to create a sculptural form, Booth’s prints are rolled into cylinders as reliefs on the wall. The projected blue and white surface has cut-out shapes, that relate to the animal in some way, attached to the surface. Booth noted, “the result of rolling the print as a relief actually enhanced the character of each animal. The 3-dimensional photograph tells a better story to emphasize the whimsical aspects I want the viewer to see – even more than if they were framed and hanging on the wall framed behind glass.”

    In comparison, ceramicist, and sculptor Skylor Swann, revisited an idea he had abandoned twenty years ago – how to integrate ceramic decals with his sculptural forms. As an undergraduate student studying ceramics at Southern Utah University, Swann briefly experimented with the process, but abandoned the idea to focus on and practice the sculptural form in clay.

    Visitors to the gallery will see how the artist, years later, has integrated ceramic decals with his mature style of working with clay. “New Kelp City” is a stoneware sculpture combined with laser printed decals. Swann refers to his 22”x 23” x 10” sculpture in the round as “a type of fractal form, organic in nature, also a symbolic city scape or neighborhood emerges.” Swann refers to his architectural form as a “colony of skyscrapers.” The ceramic decals are fired into the glazed surface, silhouettes can be seen within the miniature images of office windows placed upwards along the tubular skyscrapers.

    Artists Angela Stout and Beverly Henderson both practiced integrating their prints into folded forms using matboard and is exhibiting two early works, “Arbor Day” by Henderson, and “Torn” by Stout, to compare how both artists moved to permanent material for their final works. Henderson, a sculptor raised in Colorado, has always been fascinated by nature and the science of nature. Seeing “form first” Henderson stated, “my printed patterns from nature are natural combinations with the intricacy and repeating patterns of organic chemistry.” The original paper sculptures resulted in Henderson interfacing her printing her organic patterns on folded metal wall reliefs.

    After bending matboard to create forms with hard edges, painter and printmaker Stout envisioned combining her images with curvilinear forms. As an artist, Stout sees the possibilities of light and illusion to create meaning in her work and is always inspired by the portrait as a subject.

    After experimenting with malleable material, Stout stated: “the hard edges of the plane and the printed image did not evoke the emotion I wanted to convey, it became evident I needed to research material I could easily bend, and the material would hold its curvilinear shape. I purchased material rigid enough to go through the printing press but could become malleable with heat to support the expressive qualities of the portrait images. Material, image and form now have the potential to convey a feeling and evoke emotions.”

    Artists Shani Lewis and Alfie Frederick collaborated on a work titled “Insert 2020.” A shadow box is filled with a collection of COVID-19 masks individually stamped with the letters of a different state and the number of people infected with the virus during March 2021. Both artists have an art background, yet their “non-art” career path influenced the sculpture.

    Lewis, a graphics designer, left her art career and is enrolled in school to become a physical therapist. Frederick, with a background in printmaking and painting, is employed in the field of Geospatial Information. Lewis’ background in health services and Frederick’s career in statistical tracking influenced the direction of their work titled “Insert 2020.”

    Both artists were asked how combining imagery and a 3-dimentional form influenced the way they could express themselves. Frederick quickly responded by saying, “I realized mixed media was another way to view ideas about the multiple print.” Both agreed, “in the mixed media sculpture they created, meaning in the work is more readily interpreted instead of an image illustrating the narrative image.”

    Due to Jonathan Chestnut’s background in sculpture, digital arts, 3D printing and the laser printer, he effortlessly resolved the combination of image and form. In the sculpture titled “Fatherhood,” Chestnut combines stacked children’s building blocks with laser printed images. Depending on the viewpoint, the viewer will see a changing image on both sides of the form.

    For the print element, Chestnut cut the individual blocks on a table saw, then using the laser printer, cut a letter from the alphabet on each block to create stamps he could use repeatedly.

    Although juxtaposing image and the 3-dimensional form was not new to Chestnut, he said, “due to the challenge, I now have an inventory of lettered stamps to inspire
    future works.”

    Art educator Cornell Jones is a painter and mixed media artist. Inspired by Faith Ringgold and Pacita Abad, Jones’ resolved the challenge by silk-screening one graphic image of a female on pieces of fabric, each piece of fabric hangs from mounted wall hooks.

    Jones creates an alternating rhythm between three images screened on a flat black background of muslin and six images screened onto hanging red fabric. His title, “An A and B Selection from the Choir,” invites interpretation and the symbolism of using black, red and white.

    Jones stated he was “inspired by the works of assemblages of Faith Ringgold and Pacita Abad. My approach to making this work was to think of it as an assemblage and to present the print as an object. I thought about the content of the work as I decided on using fabric as my support.”

    The unifier between the eight very different artists is a contemporary trend since modernism: artists continually alter their materials, techniques and processes. Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print is an exhibition that combines traditional and new print techniques with innovative ideas, printing on nontraditional surfaces and using digital technology to convey meaning. In contemporary art, there is no one way to make a work of art or establish what a work of art should be made from.

    Visitors to Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print will not only see successful works of art, but they will also experience contemporary trends and theories in art since the early 20th century. There are no discernible features for what a work of art should look like or what it should be made from; instead, value is dependent upon a complex open-ended system of possibilities and a work of art, quite simply, is experienced.

    The public reception for Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print is May 4 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. and the exhibit will remain up until mid-July.

    Gallery 208 is located at 208 Rowan St. in Fayetteville. Guests are asked to wear a mask at the reception. For information call 910-484-6200.

  • 03 Pitt dinosaurToday we are going to visit the wonderful world of Tyrannosaurs courtesy of Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine and Mr. Science. Let us begin with a song: “Pack up all your cares and woe/ Here you go/ Singing low/ Bye-bye Tyrannosaurs.”

    Sometimes life is stressful. Sometimes life is disappointing. Sometimes life is dangerous. Today’s lesson is intended to lift both of my readers from their Slough of Despond into a happier place. A place without a pack of hungry Tyrannosaurs on the look-out for human sushi. That’s right boys and girls, things could be worse. Right now you are probably asking yourself: “Self, how could things possibly be worse?” Well, they could.

    Suppose you had been born in the late Cretaceous period, which was 95 million to 75 million years ago? The Grim Reaper says you would be dead by now. Mr. Science says you might have achieved your demise by being eaten by a pack of Tyrannosaurs.

    Some may say, “Wait a minute. People weren’t around in the Cretaceous period, so dinosaurs could not have eaten them.” Au contraire, as the French say. No less an authority on ancient times that the enormously talented Raquel Welch proved people and dinosaurs occupied the same time zone. In her excellent documentary “One Million Years B.C.,” Ms. Welch played Loana the Fair One while co-starring with multiple
    dinosaurs.

    The film opened with “This is a story of long, long ago, when the world was just beginning. A young world, a world early in the morning of time. A hard unfriendly world. Creatures who sit and wait. Creatures who must kill to live. And man, superior to the creatures only in his cunning.” Raquel existed due to her beauty as well as her cunning.

    A recent article in The Washington Post by Juliet Elpirin blew the lid off the long-held rumor that Tyrannosaurs not only bowled alone but also hunted alone. Paleontologists had believed that T-Rex was so cranky he wouldn’t associate with other T-Rexes except during the Cretaceous form of the Dating Game. While one T-Rex could ruin your day, imagine what a pack of Tyrannosaurs hunting together would do to your usual sunny disposition not to mention your bone structure.

    Paleontologists are never happier than when they are digging in rocks or dirt. It’s a paleontologist thing that mere mortals can never understand. Just accept that premise. Super star paleontologist Alan Titus and his buddies were out digging in the “Rainbows and Unicorns Quarry” in the Utah desert when they discovered the Tyrannosaurs equivalent of the Brady Bunch dinosaur burial grounds. The Quarry got its name because lots of groovy dinosaur bones discovered there. It doesn’t take much to excite a paleontologist. The recent Quarry find got a whole lot of shaking going on among dinosaur diggers.

    They found the bones of four or five T-Rexes who had been caught in a flood. Their bones ended up in a lake where Alan found them millions of years later. Using Mr. Science’s tool, they determined that the pack of T-Rexes ranged in age from 4 to 22 years old at their demise. Just like the Brady Bunch, these T-Rexes were all in the same place at exactly the wrong time. It is unclear which T-Rex was Marcia Brady but the implications were clear to Alan. They had all been out hunting together in a pack.

    Alan said: “A lot of researchers feel like these animals simply didn’t have the brain power to engage in such complex behavior.” To quote Al: “There it is, a very sad day in Southern Utah 76.4 million years ago.” A paleontologist with the soul of a poet, reflecting on the unhappy ending of a pack of dinosaurs millions of years ago. After 76.4 million years, it may still be too soon to make jokes about the death of these particular dinosaurs. So, I won’t.

    On top of the unnerving knowledge that T-Rex hunted in packs, Science magazine just reported that North America was the happy hunting ground for many T-Rex families. The report estimated that “20,000 T-Rex lived at any one time and about 127,000 generations of T-Rex lived and died. Those averages imply that a total of 2.5 billion T-Rex lived in North America.”

    That is a lot of Tyrannosaurus whoopee making. Any way you look at it, 2.5 billion T-Rex are a major passel of hungry meat eaters. The T-Rexes didn’t have Uber Eats. They hunted other dinosaurs and cave men just like in Raquel’s movie.

    So why should any of this paleontology lore make you feel any better about your life in these times of The Rona? Allow me to retort. Cheer up, Binky. Look on the sunny side of dead T-Rexes. When you leave your house are you going to face up to 2.5 billion T-Rex? Not very likely. Or even if you only had to face 20,000 T-Rex on your way to work, would you like those odds?

    All you have to deal with is the traffic on Ramsey Street or Raeford Road. As bad as the traffic is, it cannot compare with a pack of five hungry Tyrannosaurs deciding you looked like lunch. That alone is something in which to take heart. You are not going to be eaten by a dinosaur today no matter how bad things may be going.

    Put on a happy face. Let a dead T-Rex be your umbrella.

  • 15 downtown April eventsDowntown Fayetteville will host multiple events this weekend to engage and entertain the whole family.

    Cool Spring Downtown District will host “Make your Mark” and “Find your Zen 4th Friday” events on April 23 and 24. The Downtown Alliance will have its “Spring Open House” on April 24.

    “Make your Mark” will focus on community and giving back. Volunteers can sign up for slots on the 23rd or 24th of April and help paint the Linear Park wall near the Art Park behind The Capitol Encore Academy near Maiden Lane.

    “The 4th Friday program has always encouraged visitors to experience the downtown vibe,” said Lauren Falls, director of marketing and events for Cool Springs. “Whether supporting local or experiencing the parks, museums and theaters, there is something for everyone to enjoy in downtown Fayetteville.”

    The event organizers will provide food and drinks for volunteers. Volunteers can register here www.signupgenius.com/go/805044fa9ac29a6f58-linear

    “Make your Mark” is a community focused beautification project organized by Cool Spring Downtown in partnership with Fayetteville-Cumberland Youth Council, City of Fayetteville, Fayetteville Parks and Recreation, Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County and the Fayetteville Millennial Advisory Commission.

    16 linear park wall

    On April 24, Cool Spring will host “Find your Zen” free yoga classes for the community from noon to 4 p.m at Cross Creek Linear Park Fountain on Green Street. Classes will be 45 minutes long, and require participants to be socially distant and bring their own yoga mats.

    Slots are limited and sign-up can be found here www.eventbrite.com/e/make-your-mark-and-find-your-zen-yoga-class-tickets-150625122797

    “This program focuses on mindfulness and meditation,” Falls said. “These are free classes, but participants are required to bring their own yoga mat.”

    “The Spring Open House” downtown will happen from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with several shops having promotions, sidewalk sales and free zinnia flower seed packets. For more information on the “Spring Open House,” visit www.facebook.com/events/745050506195591

    Also on April 24, the Farmer's Market at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum will be outside from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 325 Franklin St.

     

  • 11 HandsPlaningWoodHC1403 sourceI added a new table to the WCLN studios. Nothing fancy. It was crafted from rough and flawed pieces of walnut boards I picked up somewhere.

    I decided to leave many flaws untouched and even finish it with raw steel hairpin legs as a nod to my oldest son – an artist whose chosen media was metal before passing not long ago. Seeing the table each day has caused to me think about what craftsmanship means to me in the first place.

    Like many people I know, my life is busy. My calendar would be full of gatherings of all shape and form if I dared to keep one. In fact, not acting surprised when I'm reminded of a birthday, anniversary, dance recital or social gathering I should have remembered is something I've developed into almost an art form. And as much as my wife and I are able to participate, we do. But I love to retreat, too.

    More often than not, a retreat for me doesn't mean a getaway to the beach or the beautiful North Carolina mountains. Instead, it's more likely to involve an invitation for the family dog to join me on the short walk to the workshop behind our house.

    In that calm respite from the busyness of daily life, I create things. Sometimes I work in the quiet with just my thoughts, and other times I'll turn the music up to drown them out. I work with a number of materials, but wood is easily my favorite medium.

    The wood in my shop is comprised largely of castoffs. From exotic hardwoods to common lumber, I gather small or otherwise insignificant pieces from industries which see no need for them. To others they are scraps, but to me, each piece is nothing less than a treasure.

    More than a hobby, woodworking has become a reflection of the life I've been given to live.

    Occasionally I'll make something on commission, but rarely sell what I create. The whole idea changes the game.

    Woodworking is about seeing the individual beauty and usefulness of each piece of wood — large or small — and starting a process of preserving, preparing and giving that piece a new purpose. In short, it's about redemption.

    Without the grace and redemption I found in Jesus Christ, my life would be nothing. I was probably considered a castoff by many when Jesus found me, but He saw something useful and has been preparing and preserving me since 1981, and even in the times when I feel I have nothing to offer, He assures me there is a greater purpose for my life. For every life.

    It's difficult to convey all of that when I offer someone a simple gift made from those redeemed pieces of wood. But each item I place in someone's hands is more than an object to me.

    It's the fruit of many labors. No item is perfect, and each one is absolutely unique. Just like
    you are.

  • 10 TWO 2 26 21 PopUp Cleanup 3In honor of Earth Day 2021, many local environmentally conscious organizations are making efforts to help the environment in April as well as year-round. Earth Day, celebrated mid-April each year, was first observed in 1970. The movement’s mission focuses on diversifying, educating and activating environmental movements across the world.

    Fayetteville Beautiful, a city-wide clean up drive organized on April 17, by the City of Fayetteville, Fayetteville Beautiful, Cumberland County and Sustainable Sandhills targeted issues like litter prevention, beautification and waste reduction. Volunteers cleaned up litter across various marked points in the city from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Sustainable Sandhills is a non-profit serving Fayetteville and the nine surrounding counties creating resilient environmental, economic and social resources for current and future generations.

    “Sustainability is the ability of a system to continue functioning without compromising or depleting components it needs to function,” said Dr. Iman Moore, Department Chairman, Environmental and Occupational Management at Methodist University. “The concept of sustainability is important because it will improve overall living conditions which leads to improved health.”

    Anti-litter campaign “5 for Friday” was launched by the city along with Cumberland County Solid Waste and Sustainable Sandhills on Feb. 26 of this year, Jonelle Kimbrough, Executive Director of Sustainable Sandhills, said.

    The initiative aims to encourage the community to reduce litter in the city by having people pick up five pieces of trash and recyclable materials every Friday. Solid Waste picked up about 84 tons of litter and dumped waste in 2020.

    The organizers are requesting people to post pictures on social media picking up litter and using the hashtags #5forFriday and #StantheCan to spread awareness about the initiative.

    According to their website, if 25 percent of the county’s population picked up about five pieces of trash on Fridays, it would equal 21 million pieces of litter removed in communities countywide.

    For more information on these campaigns, visit fayettevillebeautiful.com and 5forfriday.org
    In the long-term, sustainability will protect the health and well-being of future generations, Dr. Moore said.

    Another event, a virtual Earth Day Challenge, has participants running throughout the month of April to raise awareness and earn an Earth Day t-shirt and eco-friendly stainless steel straw, she said.

    Dr. Moore highlighted the works of many students and organizations at Methodist University in regards to sustainability like the project by an ENM student that led to elimination of drinking straws in campus dining. ENM students also participate in local events such as the E-waste event hosted by Sustainable Sandhills.

    “Such events serve as an opportunity for them to make the connection from textbook to real life with minimal effort,” she said. “Later this spring and summer, students will have an opportunity to assist several large energy companies in conducting energy assessments on campus.”

    Denise Renfro, science teacher at Douglas Byrd High School, leads the school’s four-year Career Technical Education program focused on renewable energy and sustainability. Students in the program start with learning about sustainability, fossil fuels, different sources of energy and climate change before eventually learning electrical wiring to prepare solar panels. They finish their senior year learning how to install solar panels at FTCC, Renfro said.

    Fayetteville State University’s Green Team organized Earth Week from April 19 to April 23 for students, staff and faculty to learn and support environment protection initiatives, Phavadee Phasavath, FSU’s Sustainability Coordinator, said.

    The Earth Week events include a documentary to educate people on the impact of their behavior on the environment, campus cleanup, bingo-trivia to spread awareness on climate change, and an event to plant trees and flowers around campus. There will also be a picnic.

    Phasavath said her main roles include advising the university on energy management, sustainability and advising the Green Team.
    It's not only to save and reduce the carbon footprint but also to save money. The main role is to make sure we are still meeting our goal of reducing the carbon footprint,” Phasavath said. “Earth Day isn’t just one day, you know, it’s everyday.”

    In a recent study that the Green Team conducted, by anonymously presenting participants with 5 different water choices - four bottled brands and one tap water - the end consensus resulted in people preferring tap water over bottled water, she said.

    “So why would we waste our money and create plastic pollution when we have free accessible tap water at home?” Phasavath asked.

    Some tips to be more environmentally conscious are to reduce, reuse, recycle in order to decrease our impact on the environment. Another simple thing to do to help conserve energy is to turn off lights or shut down your computer when you leave a room or office, she said.

    “Improved overall conditions for all facets of the ecosystem, improved quality of life in terms of mortality, diseases, etc.,” Dr. Moore said.

  • 09 Pic 44You don't want to miss out on the 21st Annual Toast of the Town Wine, Beer, & Spirits Tasting and Silent Auction. A signature fundraiser for The CARE Clinic of Fayetteville, the event arrives May 6 at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden at 536 N Eastern Blvd. from 6-10 p.m. Food, fun and a good cause await.

    Come out for a night out in the beautiful gardens enjoying an assortment of finger foods and desserts served by Elite Catering. Wine Café will have various wines to explore, while specialty spirits will be provided by Durham Distillery and Lizard Lick Brewery and Distillery. Local brewing companies Bright Light and Mash House will be in attendance delivering hometown hops, too. The popular silent auction includes trips to destinations not offered in the past Key West, Canadian Rockies, Sedona Iceland and more.

    A wide range of fun-themed baskets will also be available for bidding during the silent auction, including Escapology Party for 8, The Goddess Basket, The Best Mom Ever Basket, Flowers for a Year, Paint for a Cause Board and Brush, Stud Muffin Basket, Rugged Outdoor Basket, Happy Humidor Basket, Family Fun Basket, Kids' Basket and more.

    Event proceeds benefit The CARE Clinic, a private nonprofit organization that provides free basic medical care and dental extraction services for eligible uninsured, low-income adults living in Cumberland County and surrounding areas. Located at 239 Robeson Street, the clinic opened its doors to the community Nov. 16, 1993.

    The clinic receives no government funding and relies solely on donations, grants and annual fundraising events like The Toast of the Town to provide health care services to the community. Additionally, CARE Clinic patients have assisted in their care by donating more than $306,863 since its founding.

    The clinic serves approximately 1500 patients a year and handles 734,000 prescriptions. Since its inception, The CARE clinic has helped some 37,500 patients with service demands rising sharply during the pandemic.

    The 501c3 entity could not operate without the gift of time provided by volunteer staff: doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, dentists, dental assistants, nurses, pharmacy assistants, chiropractors, social workers, nutritionists, physical therapists and orthopedists. These health care professionals treat patients with the compassion and care they deserve. The clinic also relies on our numerous nonclinical staff who assist The CARE clinic's small staff in performing the tasks needed while also serving on the clinic board and various committees.

    Volunteers are vital at The CARE Clinic, and both medical and nonmedical opportunities abound. When it comes time for fundraising events like Toast of the Town, community volunteers take center stage through sponsorship, prize donations and event planning. Other fundraising events include the winter Evening of CARE dinners, now in its 24th year, and a fall Golf Charity tournament.

    The Toast of the Town has gone through many transformations in its 21 years. The first Toast of the Town was held in Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in 2000. With a smaller variety of wines, food, water and entertainment, the clinic fundraiser netted $4,000 that first year. Within the past two decades, The CARE Clinic has found overwhelming support from sponsors and community members to provide a night ensuring enjoyment. With this support, the event has raised eight times the original event each year since. The CARE Clinic couldn't achieve these goals without those in attendance. Starting with only 86 participants, the signature event now boasts 350-400 people annually.

    Precautions concerning COVID-19 have become a priority over the last year. Due to the extent of the pandemic, the clinic did not host a live Toast of the Town in 2020. CARE clinic staff and supporters are excited to see event-goers in person this year.

    The health and safety of attendees to this year's Toast of the Town are of high consideration. Event vendors will set up on the CFBG lawn to allow space for social distancing. This distancing extends indoors with seating options and at silent auction tables ― touch-free this year via item QR codes. For those not comfortable attending the live event, online participation for auction bidding is an option. For those who do choose to attend, masks will be provided at the door.

    Support is needed each year to make the Taste of the Town a success. To become a corporate sponsor, silent auction item donor, or your name added to the invitation list for next year's event, please contact Monica at The CARE Clinic at 910-485-0555 development@thecareclinic.org.

    Tickets can be ordered at https://www.toastofthetownfay.com/ and are $75 per person in advance and $100 at the door. Find event details and virtual participation options by visiting https://www.thecareclinic.org/.

    Mark your calendars for May 6 for the Toast of the Town event. Enjoy good food and a variety of tasty beverages while contributing to the community.

    CARE Clinic patient information:

    To be eligible for The CARE Clinic's services, you must be 18 years or older; have no insurance, including Medicaid; meet an income requirement; and display proof of household income and a valid, North Carolina DMV-issued picture ID card or driver's license showing your current address.

    Call 910-485-0555 to make an appointment. Appointments are made only by phone; no walk-ins. Medical appointments can be made Monday- Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dental appointments can be made Friday from 9 a.m. to noon for the following week.

    The clinic serves patients each Tuesday and Thursday and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dental clinics are every Tuesday and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Appointments are made on a space-available basis.

  • 08 pinwheel ballBased on national best practice and research, the Child Advocacy Center was founded in 1993 by a group of concerned local professionals seeking to coordinate services provided to child abuse victims and their families. The CAC provides a safe and child-friendly environment where professionals from community agencies come together to interview, investigate and to provide support for abused children and their families.

    This results in a collaborative approach of professionals from Child Protective Services, the District Attorney’s office, law enforcement, Guardian ad Litem, Military Family Services, social workers, victim advocates as well as medical and mental health professionals to provide a coordinated, comprehensive response to victims and their caregivers.

    By having a collaborative approach, the CAC reduces the number of interviews for child victims of abuse by providing specially trained professionals to conduct forensic interviews in a centralized location. National research has determined that this type of coordinated approach can help alleviate trauma for children, increase the prosecution rate of perpetrators, and be fiscally beneficial to the community.

    In fiscal year 2020, the CAC served 876 children and their non-offending family members and saved the community an estimated $700,000 through its multi-disciplinary team approach. In addition, the Child Advocacy Center provides education to the public and professionals on preventing, detecting and reporting child abuse.

    Unfortunately, the center has seen an increase in the need for services while at the same time being financially affected by not being able to host their two signature fundraising events during the pandemic in 2020 — the Fayetteville Ultimate Lip Sync Show Down and the Pinwheel Masquerade Ball & Auction.

    As many students have returned back to school in person, we anticipate an even higher increase in the number of cases reported to the CAC. Now more than ever, we need your support.

    The Child Advocacy Center is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization funded through the generosity of corporate, state, organization and foundation grants; corporate and individual donations; in-kind contributions; and event sponsorships. There is no charge for services provided to child victims of abuse referred to the CAC.

    Thankfully, the Child Advocacy Center was recently granted a $10,000 “All or Nothing” challenge grant from the Simply East Anonymous Trust Challenge Grant.

    The challenge grant is for $10,000; however, the challenge is that we must raise at least $10,000 in order to receive the matching grant from Anonymous Trust. If we do not meet the $10,000 in donations, we will not receive the matching challenge grant. The purpose of this grant is to raise funds from new donors, increased gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations and churches.

    The Challenge Grant will run through July 31, 2021. Donors may participate as a new donor or an existing donor. Every dollar that is raised will be matched. New donor donations and existing donors, who increase their giving from the year before, will be matched dollar to dollar. This is another way you can be a part of supporting the work of the CAC in our community.

    There are also additional ways that you can donate to the CAC, such as through our beautiful Tribute Murals.

    Tribute Murals offer a unique way to celebrate, honor or remember special people and occasions.

    Currently we have The Giving Tree Leaves Mural and/or the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars Mural. You may make a donation for the children served by the CAC and have your gift recognized as part of our beautiful tribute murals. The murals were created by local artist Cornell Jones, and they are on the walls of the reception area and the board/conference room.

    While April is nationally recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month, we know that the mission and vision of our work continues throughout the year and as such, communities are encouraged to increase awareness about child and family well-being, and to work together to implement effective strategies that support families and prevent child abuse and neglect.

    To make a donation or to learn more about how you can become involved, please visit CACFayNC.org. We sincerely appreciate your support.

  • 07 MH 3On April 16, about 50 protestors walked around the Market House chanting “no justice, no peace, no racist police,” and “hands up, don’t shoot.” Protesters carried signs and recited the names of Black people killed by police. The event, planned before the City Council voted Thursday to repurpose the Market House, seemed to galvanize the downtown landmark as a hub to assemble and air grievances about continued discrimination against people of color.

    The protest had little to do with the historic landmark itself, but rather recognized the Market House as evidence of what organizers call a lack of action by Fayetteville city leaders.

    Friday’s protest was in response to the most recent death of a Black man — Duante Wright — in police custody, but one organizer said it was also to point out that local leaders have either not accomplished much in the last year, or have not been transparent with the public about what they’ve done since last May when rioters rallied at the Market House before damaging store fronts downtown and in the Cross Creek Mall area following the death of George Floyd.

    “A year later and nothing has been done,” said Bishop McNeill, one of the organizers for the protest. He said continued protests are planned for every Friday through May. McNeill said he and like-minded citizens will gather at the corner of Hay and Green Streets at 6 p.m. to “bring awareness about needed police reforms that were promised by our officials.”

    McNeill called for city officials to make public what police reforms have been enacted since
    last year.

    “If something like that happens here, we want to make sure police officers are held accountable,” McNeill said referencing the deaths of George Floyd and Duante Wright.

    Protesters are calling for city officials to present information to the public about any on-going efforts in police reform and the formation and progress of a Citizens Review Board. In early March, City Council voted to give a CRB the power to look into police personnel records when reviewing disciplinary cases. Few details have been released on a CRB or on the differences in authority between a review board and an advisory board.

    Citizens want officials to make those details known, McNeill said. His comments echo a growing concern that city leaders are either acting too slowly or are not proactively informing the public of what actions are being taken.

    Up & Coming Weekly reached out to Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin following Friday’s protest, asking for comment on McNeill’s call for transparency. Colvin’s emailed response is printed in full on page 10 of this issue.

    McNeill said these Friday “marches for social justice” will address “police reform, Black and brown issues, immigration and Asian discrimination.” He hopes the events will gain public and media attention to ask city leaders “where are we at?” on reform, and on combatting racism and discrimination.

    Speakers will be planned for the events, but there will also be opportunities for citizens to address the crowd, as was the case with the April 16 event. One woman participating in the march asked for the loudspeaker and told the crowd that “racism is systemic, but we have to be introspective … what are you doing at your house… to grow, learn and be better?”

    At least two participants were openly carrying firearms.

    A man who identified himself only as “Rell” was carrying the civilian version of the M4 rifle used by many U.S. Army soldiers in combat. Without alteration, the civilian version is capable of only one round per trigger squeeze, not three-round-bursts or fully auto like the military version. Rell was also carrying a pistol.

    Rell said he was “not here to impose fear on anyone” but to make sure nobody broke windows, vandalized and blamed it on protestors.

    “It’s our Constitutional right to bear arms,” Rell said. “I’m trained on it, and I also have a concealed carry [license].” Rell said he was a military veteran.

    “The police have a lot going on,” he said. “We are here to police up our own so it can be a peaceful demonstration.”

    The April 16 event was peaceful, as most protests in Fayetteville have been, McNeill said.

    “I don’t want people to be afraid, there’s a lot of fear-mongering … meant to further divide us,” he said. McNeill said he understands that many people are concerned about a protest turning into a riot.

    “If you do not want to participate in a demonstration, contact city officials and ask them where they stand, ask them to make a statement,” he said.

    At least one local business owner came out to speak with McNeill. “Protests are good as long as they are peaceful,” said Hank Parfitt, owner of a shop on Hay Street. “You should be able to protest.”

    Others not directly participating in the event showed support with shouts of encouragement to speakers and honking car horns as they drove around the Market House.

    EDITOR’S UPDATE:
    Fayetteville Police Chief Gina V. Hawkins provided the following statement via email, which arrived after the April 21, 2021 issue of Up & Coming Weekly went to press.

    “The Fayetteville Police Department maintains the Gold Standard CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) accreditation. This is a very strenuous process to become accredited, and it holds agencies to a very high standard (and it is also voluntary).

    Our policy and procedure manual is open to the public and is viewable at any time on our website. You can see that our policies and procedures go above what was being requested over the past year. I must note however, the duty to intervene was being taught in our academy/training center, but was added as a written policy last year. Our department continues to attend annual biased based policing and de-escalation training.

    Some of the other demands being sought must be approved through proper legislation, such as Citizen Review Board; which is currently pending in the legislative process. Our Mayor and City Council continue to work on this aspect as demonstrated by passing a Council Resolution that included support for a citizen review board on June 22, 2020. This is a process that takes proper research, planning, and discussions.

    Mayor Colvin has established two separate City Council Committees last summer to internally examine our City organization as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion principles and efforts to determine if obstacles to opportunities exist; and externally to identify areas that will improve the equitable opportunity for all residents to succeed - regardless of their race, color, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, disability, income or zip code as well as engage the residents in dialogue about local issues.

    During the March 1, 2021 work session, a motion was passed to formally establish a citizen advisory board (separate entity from the Citizen Review Board that is pending proper legislation). The Council has directed staff to stand up the board in 4 months by July 1st.

    As you can see, much work has been going on in by both the Police Department and our City Council leaders. As a reminder all of our policies and procedures can be found on our website: faypd.com.”

  • 06 JEFF market house slave plaque 3For nearly 200 years the historic Market House has been the focal point of downtown Fayetteville. Its very existence has been an irritant for many African Americans. Its presence has been an object of public debate for many years. On April 15, City Council decided not to tear the building down or move it out of downtown, which would be virtually impossible because of its architecture.

    Council voted 9-1 to repurpose the landmark. Local architects suggested turning it into an art exhibit, making it into a place that displays Fayetteville history with a focus on Black contributors, making it into a marketplace for strictly Black vendors or using it to create an event space. That decision has yet to be made.

    The Market House was built in 1832 on the site of the old State House, which had been where North Carolina delegates ratified the U.S. Constitution. But the state house was destroyed in the Great Fire
    of 1831.

    The Market House is one of only 50 National Landmarks in North Carolina. Architecturally unique, the structure is one of the few in America to use the town hall - market scheme found in England. Household goods were sold beneath the building, while the second floor was utilized originally as the town hall.

    Occasionally enslaved people were sold at or near the Market House. The vast majority of the slaves were sold as a result of indebtedness or estate liquidation. Unlike New Orleans, Richmond and Charleston, S.C. North Carolina cities were not slave markets.

    On April 16, a small group of demonstrators took up a position at Market Square in response to what they called “the persistent injustice facing Black lives.” The group, mostly young, staged the protest which drew some support from passing motorists. Several police squad cars patrolled the vicinity for an hour before the five o’clock session began. The group said members intend to hold similar demonstrations every Friday evening in May.

    The Cumberland County administration closed government buildings in the downtown Fayetteville area at 4 p.m. “to allow employees to leave the area prior to potential protest activities,” as stated in a news release.

    The news release stated all of the county's government buildings downtown, including the courthouse, board of elections office and headquarters library would close early. City administrative staff members were sent home at 4:30, according to a city spokeswoman.

    In 1989, Fayetteville City Council commissioned a plaque to be attached to the exterior of the Market House where it still stands.

    It reads in part: “In memory and honor of those indomitable people who were stripped of their dignity when sold as slaves at this place. Their courage at that time was a proud heritage of all times. They endured the past so the future could be won for freedom and justice.”

  • 05 FCC City TAG 4CFollowing a protest downtown Friday, April 16, Up & Coming Weekly asked Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin to respond to claims that little has been done in the last year to address discrimination and local policing practices. Mayor Colvin's response is printed below.

    As millions of people across our nation grapple with the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others at the hands of injustice, the call to stand together as a community grows louder. The tragedies we have all witnessed across this nation are heartbreaking, and we must find a way to bring meaningful change. Meaningful change calls for unity, and unity takes work.

    Whether you serve as a teacher in our community, elected official, health care professional, small business owner or union worker, I encourage you to consider how you can help our community unify in your everyday work. As we listen to the call for equal justice, both in our community and in our nation, I encourage you to think of your neighbors as yourself. We must love our neighbors, and we must treat each other as we ourselves want to be treated.

    I am encouraged by the new generation of leaders who have joined together to exercise their first amendment right to peacefully protest, and I am extremely proud of the changes we have seen in the City of Fayetteville’s policing and operations. I challenge those who are protesting, help us build the community we all desire, one that works for all of us, not just a few.

    While our city has certainly had its problems with racial and social bias, to include aggressive policing in predominately Black communities, we have come a long way over the last 8 years. The city began revamping its policing policies after the rebuke of the DOJ, in 2012/2013. Because of this, many of the changes made were proactive and allowed us to get a head start on the necessary changes long before many of these national tragedies we see today.

    Over the last year, our city council has taken an internal and external review to ensure diversity inclusion in our hiring practices, economic policies and the systemic policies used to serve our community.

    •We have established the Fayetteville Citizens Advisory Board to assist in building better relationships with law enforcement and the communities they serve. We passed the 4th resolution requesting of the North Carolina General Assembly to allow for the establishment of a Police Review/Oversight Board.

    •In addition to increased training we have implemented body cameras, and impressed upon the city manager to enforce a zero tolerance policy for racial discrimination or racial motivated policing throughout our city.

    •We have also established a local and minority participation policy for the entire city’s contracting and spending. We have invested and/or committed to investing over $15 Million dollars into underserved communities, such as Murchison Road, B Street, Campbell Avenue and others.

    •We have invested $100,000 in restoring and the revitalization of Orange Street School (Original location of the city’s Historically Black High School) and requesting $1M from the state of NC.

    •We have invested nearly $400,000 in restoration of the E. E. Smith House, home of the first President of Fayetteville State, our local HBCU.

    •We have increased our support for community development programs such as increased home ownership and working to strategically address the city’s Tier 1 status.

    •We have engaged the Department of Justice to implement the City Spirit Program to improve race relations.

    While we have come a long way as a nation, 2020 and 2021 have reminded us all that we must continue to work together to bridge the racial divide in America. I am grateful to God that we are a community willing to accept and address our shortcomings, and we are a community willing to unify.

    Because of this, I stand confident that Fayetteville, North Carolina, will continue to advance as an All American City, by name and by deed.

  • 04 puppy and kittenThe Fayetteville Woodpeckers are partnering with local animal rescues and pet vendors to host an adoption event at Segra Stadium on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. This event is free to the public and will coincide with the first opportunity for fans to purchase tickets for May Woodpeckers home baseball games. Interested people can meet available dogs and cats from each rescue and fill out adoption applications.

    The Woodpeckers will also be collecting items for the rescues. Donations of $5 or more will receive 10% off in The Birds’ Nest Team Store. Items requested include: cleaning products (paper towels, disinfectant spray or wipes), canned or dry dog and cat food, treats and puppy pads. Pets are not allowed at this event except for dogs and cats with each respective rescues. The Birds’ Nest Team Store will be open.

    Masks are required when entering the ballpark. The Woodpeckers will release its promotional calendar for the month of May prior to tickets going on sale. The home opener is scheduled for Tuesday, May 11 against the visiting Kannapolis Cannon Ballers.

    A limited amount of tickets for Woodpeckers home games will be available on a month-by-month basis. Fans can purchase tickets for any of the six May games from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in-person at the BB&T Now Truist Box Office. For anyone not able to buy in-person, tickets will become available online starting April 26th at 10 a.m.

    Individual game tickets for 2021 May home games will be available in safe, socially-distanced pods. Due to local and state health and safety guidelines and socially-distanced seating, Segra Stadium’s capacity is expected to be at 30% to begin the season. For this reason, the best chance for fans to get seats to 2021 home games is to purchase a Full-Season, Half-Season, or 20-Game Membership. Season Members and Ticket Voucher Plans will have first opportunity to purchase tickets for May and to exchange their vouchers.

  • Cape Fear Valley Health has seen an apparent decline in interest in COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Each Friday at 5 p.m. the health system opens appointments for the subsequent weeks through its website, www.capefearvalley.com/covid19. During recent weeks, only about 15% of the appointments were filled by Monday morning.

    “What we’re worried about is the vaccine supply is outpacing demand,” said Vice President of Professional Services at Cape Fear Valley Health Chris Tart. “We need to encourage everyone to roll their sleeves up and be vaccinated so we can continue to put this pandemic behind us.” The available supply of all vaccines has also expanded, with more traditional providers and retail locations such as pharmacies offering inoculations.

  • 03 Cargill black 2c web lgCargill has chosen Cumberland County for a significant expansion of its plant by investing $25 million to improve production capacity. A six-year performance-based incentive grant of $600,000 was approved by the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. The project, set to begin before the end of 2021, will generate tax revenue and increased economic activity which will offset the incentive, according to county officials. Additionally, the investment will help maintain the 70 jobs currently at the site, which have average salaries of $70,000 a year, well above Cumberland County’s average wage.

    Cargill is a global leader in oilseed processing. These investments are part of the organization’s overall growth strategy in the U.S. and create an opportunity to better serve customers on both ends of the supply chain. All facilities will continue to operate while construction and expansion are underway, Cargill said in a media release.

    “Cargill is a longtime employer in our community and a buyer of the soybeans our farmers grow,” said County Commission Chairman Charles Evans. “We are grateful the company is expanding their agribusiness operations here.” Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the soybean oil manufacturing business has operated its facility on River Road outside Fayetteville since 1970. The company evaluated competing locations for its investment and ultimately chose Cumberland County for the project which will invest $5 million in real estate improvements and $20 million in new personal property.

    “While we are always excited to bring new companies to our community, our top goal is to help existing businesses grow and flourish,” said Fayetteville-Cumberland County Economic Development Corp. Chairman Andrew Pennink. FCEDC is a public-private partnership designed to enhance job growth and prosperity in the region by attracting new industry and growing and retaining existing industry.

    “Our plant in Cumberland County is an important link in the supply chain for North Carolina farmers and livestock producers, and these investments will help us serve customers more efficiently,” said Don Camden, vice president, Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain North America. “Cargill is committed to nourishing the world in a safe, responsible, sustainable way. We are part of the community and are proud to provide significant support for a number of organizations in the area funding nutrition and education programming projects, as well as COVID-19 relief.”

    In partnership with global and local health experts, Cargill developed safety protocols to promote industry standards for health and safety. “Still, we have not been immune from the pandemic,” the company noted on its website. “When it hurts one of us, it impacts all of us.” The company closed two plants in Canada where employees contracted coronavirus. In addition, Cargill launched the Cargill Cares Employee Disaster Relief Fund to help meet employees' immediate needs during the COVID-19 crisis.

    Cargill has 155,000 employees worldwide. The privately held firm was founded at the end of the American Civil War, by William Wallace Cargill. The company has grown from a grain storage facility into an international producer and distributor of agricultural products such as sugar, refined oil, chocolate, and turkey. Cargill also provides risk management, commodities trading and transportation services. Descendants of William Cargill and his son-in-law John MacMillan have owned common equity in the company for over 140 years. Learn more at www.cargill.com.

  • 02 Nyrell and Joy Melvin"I have a dream," Martin Luther King Jr. said one August day in 1963, with Abraham Lincoln looking over his shoulder. "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

    "I have a dream that one day out in the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

    "I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

    "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

    The dream that Martin Luther King laid out enthralled a generation of Americans who were in the most significant fight for civil liberties since the Civil War itself. No, they weren't fighting slavery, but they were fighting the same thought process that allowed racism to happen - that one race is superior to another race.

    Today, I am here to enthrall you once again. I have a dream that race will not play a part in whether or not someone is accepted into college! I have a dream that critical race theory and the lies it propagates would cease to exist in our public discourse! I have a dream that America will wake up to the fact that we are all one race!

    MLK and men like him fought for these ideals, but the modern-day Left and the Elite Democratic Party are trying to drag us backward by promoting critical race theory and the idea that the United States was founded in racism, is racist, and will always be racist.

    The buzz term used by leftist activists and the mainstream media is "systemic racism." The belief that all of America's systems are inherently racist, and anyone or anything that is a part of the system is racist out of complicity. According to this radical ideology, all white people are a part of the system and therefore racist; and the founding of America was not 1776, but 1619 when the first African slaves made their way to the continent.

    This lie —perpetrated by the Elite Democrat Party, the mainstream media, academia and Hollywood — brought about the anarchy and destruction we witnessed throughout the summer across America and right here in Fayetteville.

    This lie is destructive and corrosive, and if left unchecked, will lead to the fall of the United States of America as we know it.

    This lie is why the Fayetteville Police Department was told to stand down while people destroyed our beautiful city. "The police are a vestige of racism," they say. That is false! If I am elected, we will not be defunding the police! I will make sure that the Fayetteville Police Department is wholly equipped and funded to protect our community, to protect you and me.

    The police are not perfect, but to think the solution is the abolishment of our police departments is sheer lunacy. We want to build and improve; the Left wants to destroy and abolish.

    This was very clearly seen last year when South Carolina Senator Tim Scott introduced the JUSTICE Act to address police reform. Senator Scott is a Black man who has given multiple anecdotes of being racially profiled and stopped by police officers in the nation's capital. Despite this, the Democrats would not even consider his bill. Why? Because Senator Scott is a Republican, and the Democrats don’t really care about police reform.

    Another example of the Left's wanton desire to destroy comes from May 30th of last year when violent anarchists and rioters broke windows and set fire to the Market House right here in downtown Fayetteville.

    Now, I know that the history of the Market House is not pure. There once was a time when slaves owners’ properties were liquidated and as a result slaves were auctioned primarily under estate liquidation or to pay a debt. The actual number of slaves auctioned is ambiguous, but it happened, on the steps surrounding the structure. Does that make the Market House a slave market? No, certainly not. Does that warrant destruction? No, certainly not.

    Author George Santayana once said, "those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." This is the attitude of the Left. The history they speak of is the revisionist, anti-American narrative — that will not be taught in our schools, by the way — of Howard Zinn and the 1619 Project.

    But the Left wants to either destroy or rewrite our history. We see this in the "canceling" of historical figures like Thomas Jefferson and even George Washington. Because these great figures don't hold up to today's woke standards, they must be done away with. Their names must be taken off schools, their stories scrubbed from the history books, and their statues toppled. Not here in Fayetteville! We will not allow the stories of our forefathers to be scrubbed away by the leftist mob.

    I am running to be your mayor because I believe in this city. I believe in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and I believe in its citizens.

    You may wonder why I am discussing these larger cultural issues as a mayoral candidate. You may wonder why I am not talking about fixing bridges or roads, or other infrastructure. All that stuff is extremely important, and we will be working on those issues as well. But if the metaphorical and ideological foundation of our city is rotted to the core, the physical foundation of our city will crumble as well.

    It is time we take back the culture, starting right here in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I have a dream!

    May God bless Fayetteville, and May God bless America. Thank you.

    Photographed above: Nyrell and Joy Melvin with their daughters. 

  • 01 ElephantDonkeyHC1211 sourcePublisher Bill Bowman yields his space this week to contributor Karl Merritt.

    To our country’s detriment, power-hungry politicians and a cooperative media are manipulating Americans. Democrats have mastered manipulation as a political strategy. Republicans have allowed, and continue to allow, this Democratic strategy to be successful. They enable this destructive strategy by failing to instruct the public regarding governmental processes, sensible reasons for their policy and legislative positions, the basics of economics, and a multitude of similar considerations.

    As bothered as one might be by this Republican failing, the fact of life is that Democrats have, very likely intentionally, created a societal atmosphere where it is nearly impossible for Republicans, or anybody else, to do the educating and informing of the general public called for in that first paragraph. That near impossibility is rooted in Democrats: robbing millions of Americans of the capacity for critical thought; promoting focus on self and on group identity; from government, giving just enough to certain groups to gain and retain their support; pitting enough supportive groups against others so that there is a winning Democratic coalition (Identity Politics).

    The end result of all of this is that citizens are manipulated into strongly supporting policies, legislation, and societal standards that, in my estimation, make no sense and even contribute to the looming destruction of this nation as a place of tremendous opportunity and simply an amazing place to live.

    What has been presented to this point plays out in real life through the recent passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Consider the high level of public support for that legislation, the reasons for that support, and the public’s understanding of what is included.

    There was overwhelming support for the legislation. An article at democrats.senate.gov titled “Americans Overwhelmingly Support The American Rescue Plan Because Families Still Need Relief From The COVID Pandemic — But Republicans Say They Just Don’t Know What’s Good For Them” included the following
    statements:

    “In the poll, which was conducted Feb. 19-22 among 2,013 registered voters and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points, 76 percent said they back the stimulus package, including 52 percent who said they ‘strongly’ support the bill. Only 17 percent of voters said they oppose it.” [Morning Consult, 2/24/21]
    “Small Business for America’s Future: “69% of small business owners — including 46% of Republican business owners and 61% of independent small business owners — support the American Rescue Plan.” [Small Business for America’s Future, 2/23/21]

    The following is from an article by Samantha Chang, titled “Biden Voter: The Bombs in Syria Are Kinda Expensive for a Dude Who Owes Me $2,000”. Ben Calvert, age 27, who is referred to in the article, is a Democrat and lives in Minnesota:

    “A lot of my friends are really frustrated because they were like, ‘We’ve got to elect these two senators in Georgia! We’ve got to get Joe Biden in office and then everything’s going to be better!'” Calvert told CNN last week. “It’s not a $1,400 check, it’s $2,000 checks.'”

    Many Americans interpreted Biden’s promise to mean they would receive a separate $2,000 check — not $1,400
    plus $600.

    The focus on self that is reflected in Calvert’s statement is rampant across America. One only has to look at comments from some individuals as to why they vote as they do to see the success of the focus-on-self political strategy. Concern for one’s personal circumstance is reasonable, but it now seems at dangerous levels in our society.

    Then there was this revealing post on Next-door, a neighborhood social media site: “How many Republicans are giving the stimulus check back?” It is reasonable to conclude that this statement was driven by the fact that no Republicans in the House or Senate voted for the legislation and public support for it was far less among Republicans than among Democrats. I contend that statements, such as referenced here, point to a lack of thoughtful examination of facts and to the harmful partisan divide that is so present in America.

    These three accounts, although limited, reflect the condition of our country. That condition is one of: individuals making decisions based on tremendously insufficient and faulty thought; allowing short-term personal impacts to blind their ability to see and consider the bigger picture; simply following the dictates of a group with which they identify. This condition leads many Americans to wholeheartedly support policies, legislation, and even societal standards, that are unfair, often defy reason, are sometimes unconstitutional, and jeopardize the very continued existence of America.

    Passage of the American Rescue Plan is proof-positive of the argument made to this point. In an article titled “American Rescue Plan (Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package)”, Erik Haagensen writes: “The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package designed to facilitate the United States’ recovery from the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Given the reason for this legislation, the thoughtful approach would be to ask if it is needed and, if so, how will the need be best addressed? A starting point for addressing this question might be unemployment. The February 2020 unemployment rate was 3.5%, March 2020 14.7%, and February 2021 6.2%. Even though unemployment is down dramatically from the March 2020 devastating high, there are clearly Americans who still need assistance.

    It does not appear that Democrats in Congress gave sufficient attention to who really needed assistance. The U.S. Treasury Department’s website states this regarding disbursements under the legislation: “In total, this first batch included approximately 90 million payments, which are valued at more than $242 billion.” This was just the first batch of payments. Simply considering the unemployment rates, even in March 2020, there is no way 90 million payments would be required. Payments were definitely authorized for many people who had not missed a paycheck and faced no financial hardship.

    Depending on whose reporting is considered, there is a half-trillion to a full trillion dollars remaining unspent from previous COVID relief bills. There are various explanations as to why this is the case. However, one would think this situation would have been made known to, and explained to, the American people before committing to another $1.9 trillion.

    The listing of questionable funding items in this legislation seems almost endless. Among these are payments in an amount up to 120 percent of the outstanding indebtedness of each farmer or rancher to the Department of Agriculture, or guaranteed by the department, and is a member of a socially disadvantaged group as of January 1, 2021. From 7 U.S.C. 2279(a)(6): “The term ‘socially disadvantaged group’ means a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.” How is this related
    to COVID?

    Then there is millions in funding to Gallaudet University, Howard University, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and Institute of Education Sciences. Why these specific institutions? There is $50 million for family planning. Addressing what comes under this heading, 42 U.S.C 300 says in part, “… effective family planning methods and services (including natural family planning methods, infertility services, and services for adolescents).” Consider one billion available until September 30, 2025, to carry out the purposes of the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). Regarding TMF, the General Services Administration (GSA) website says, “… gives agencies additional ways to deliver services to the American public more quickly, better secure sensitive systems and data, and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently.” COVID related?

    Finally, $350 billion is allocated to states, the District of Columbia, local governments, territories, and tribal governments to mitigate the fiscal effects stemming from the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus disease. Most of this total will be distributed to states and the District of Columbia based on each state’s proportion of seasonally-adjusted unemployed individuals for the three-month period ending in December 2020. In assessing this provision, one has to consider that, as stated above, unemployment rates were much improved from the height of the pandemic. Further, state revenues did not experience the expected decline. This from an article by Mary Williams Walsh, titled “Virus Did Not Bring Financial Rout That Many States Feared”:
    A researcher at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank, found that total state revenues from April through December were down just 1.8 percent from the same period in 2019. Moody’s Analytics used a different method and found that 31 states now had enough cash to fully absorb the economic stress of the pandemic recession on their own.

    This allocation of funds to states certainly appears extremely questionable at best. Congressional Republicans raised thoughtful opposition, but were lambasted and dismissed by Congressional Democrats and a majority of American citizens.

    The fact of life is that, to the detriment of this country, far too many Americans are being manipulated into supporting policies, legislation, and societal standards that are moving America along a dangerous path. Public support for, and passage of, the American Rescue Plan is just one of many glaring indications of this truth.

  • 13 Cover Story COVID web siteIn just a few short weeks, Methodist University graduates from the class of 2021 are scheduled to walk across the stage at Segra Stadium in downtown Fayetteville. If this happens, it would be more than just a commencement celebration of academic achievement from one of the premier universities in the state, it would close out an unprecedented year of sacrifice, care for others, and unsurpassed vigilance.

    Right here in Cumberland County stands a private, top-tier university that not only rose to the challenges of COVID-19 during this academic year, but worked tirelessly as a united community of students, faculty and staff to achieve excellence while remaining as safe as possible.

    While universities large and small across the state and nation were forced to close their doors to on-campus living, student activities, and in-person classes in the fall and spring semesters, MU was strategic in its planning and protocols and has remained open to its residential students the entire year. There are still a few weeks to go in the spring semester, so the community must remain cautious and determined, but the accomplishments thus far have been remarkable.

    “At Methodist University, we might be 2,000 individuals, but we make up ONE community,” said Alisyn Keating, a Forensic Science major from the Class of 2021. “It’s a community that shows we care for each other by following all safety guidelines and moving forward together.”

    “Forward Together” has been the theme for the university since the beginning of classes in the fall. It has not just been a slogan on t-shirts and flyers, it’s truly symbolic of the teamwork that has led to a year’s worth of success both in the classroom
    and out.

    By understanding and following safety guidelines (wearing masks, social distancing, frequently washing hands, practicing good hygiene, limiting gathering), MU has been able to offer in-person classes — with its expert faculty — throughout the year. Results of extensive contact tracing show that because protocols have been strictly followed, not a single case of COVID has been spread in a classroom or lab.

    While students in majors such as Business, Psychology, Biology, Criminal Justice, Physician Assistant Studies, and Social Work thrived in the classroom, MU kept students active and engaged outside of the classroom, as well.

    More than 100 university-sponsored student organizations, fraternities and sororities, and athletic teams have creatively adjusted to hurdles COVID has placed before them, holding socially distanced events outside and coming together via Zoom for meetings or presenting shows and concerts. While students were sent home from many other colleges, MU students have worked together with university staff and shared in community, worship, and “college life” together.

    “The past year has indeed been a challenging one, but we are still finding ways to help students come together while staying safely apart,” said Dr. Doris Munoz, MU’s Director of Student Involvement. “Socialization is such an important aspect to college life. It’s here where students create lifelong friendships and make unforgettable memories.”

    Success in the classroom, success on campus, but also success in athletic competition have set Methodist University apart this year. Every one of MU’s 20 NCAA intercollegiate sports were able to compete this year, with the football team hosting the USA South Athletic Conference championship and both the men’s and women’s golf teams each being ranked in the Top 2 in the entire nation. Athletes were tested extensively, each week, for the safety of the MU student-athletes, but also the coaches, trainers, officials and opposing teams.

    One of the great advantages Methodist University has over other institutions – not just in Southeast North Carolina, but across the state and region – is an on-campus Health Services Center staffed full time by experienced professionals. It also has a wide array of doctors and other health care professionals on campus who direct MU’s highly regarded undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in health services. Nursing, Physical and Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant Studies, Health Care Management and Information, are just some of the successful health services programs at Methodist.

    The result of this expertise on campus is careful planning, daily monitoring and reporting, immediate contact tracing, and has even resulted in partnerships to provide full-campus testing and vaccination opportunities for all students, faculty and staff.

    To move forward together in this fashion is unique. It couldn’t happen without the strong connection that everyone in the MU community has. In addition to the students, faculty, and staff, there are the alumni, board of trustee members, and other friends of the university that have stepped up to meet the challenges COVID has presented.

    “I am truly honored to be a part of a community that is so committed and caring,” MU President Stanley T. Wearden said in a message to the campus. “Monarchs wearing masks in class and when in public spaces, practicing social distancing, following gathering guidelines, and self-monitoring on our Green Screen app every day is how we have succeeded with in-person learning and residential living on campus through the fall and spring semesters. We might be 2,000 individuals, but we also are connected as ONE community that continues to move forward together."

    In the final four weeks of the academic year, MU has hosted a championship football game and will compete in other conference tournaments. MU will present its 10th Annual Research and Creativity Symposium. MU will have offered the Johnson & Johnson one-time vaccination to all of its students, faculty, and staff. MU looks to complete the 2020-21 academic year in a way many around the state and nation were unable to accomplish. And, if all goes as planned, MU will hold an in-person (socially distanced, of course) graduation ceremony at Segra Stadium in early May.

    As the weekly presidential messages, hundreds of posters, dedicated resource web site, and dozens of videos have said, Methodist University is made up of students, faculty and staff that have walked alongside each other as ONE community and truly succeeded in moving Forward Together.

  • 11 Excellence story NoBecause Methodist University is a private, liberal arts school that receives top-tier rankings every year, some may believe the cost of attending one of the premier schools in North Carolina is out of their range. But MU is unique not just in its excellence, but also in its value.

    While MU graduates rank among the highest in the state for employment soon after graduation and salary earned, nearly 100% of MU students receive financial aid that makes the cost to attend less than the national average. It’s the high-level degrees that lead to employment and advancement in careers, at a price competitive with the big-box schools.

    “At MU, students are taught by faculty with doctorates, and classes have an impressive 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio that few in the entire region can match,” said Rick Lowe, vice president for Enrollment Services at MU. “Combine that with an average financial-aid package of more than $30,000 for residential students, and it’s easy to see why Methodist University is unique.”

    Financial aid packages at Methodist can include federal aid money and there are more than 150 institutional scholarships.

    “These financial-aid opportunities allow us to deliver a highly competitive net price and enables our students to attend a university with top-tier programs that deliver exceptional quality and value. You’re not just a number at MU, and you receive a well-rounded education that expands your career opportunities now and in the future,” Lowe said.

    Methodist University, which also has a campus at Fort Bragg, accepts the GI Bill, which members of the U.S. military, veterans, and their families receive as a benefit for their service. The GI Bill isn’t factored in the average financial-aid package, so it can lower the cost of education at MU even more.

    With this cost comes classrooms run by motivated professors who often practiced in their fields before joining the faculty at MU. These professors bring a wealth of experiential knowledge as well as connections in the working world. While students are learning under the tutelage of expert professors, the staff in MU’s Career Services Office connects them with resources to help them find not just a job, but
    a career.

    “We offer our students a very unique experience,” said Taylor Vann, a counselor in the Career Services Office. “We work with our students to create a career management plan that meets the needs of their personal and professional goals. We discuss trends and labor market information related to their career interests, along with what skills and experiences will make them competitive in today’s global workforce.”

    These efforts, coupled with advanced work in the classroom, is why more than 90% of May 2020 MU alumni reported that they landed a job, or were
    pursuing a higher degree, within six months of graduation.

    “Through Career Services and their local connections in the community, I was able to have a paid internship at a local environmental lab in Fayetteville,” said Nicole Hardin Wildeboer, a graduate of MU’s Chemistry/Forensic Science program. “This internship solidified that the lab setting was what I desired, while also allowing me to gain the hands-on job experience that would make me a more qualified applicant for whatever job I applied for next.”

    Wildeboer now works as a forensic scientist in the Trace Evidence Department of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. “My Chemistry advisor and a couple Forensic Science and Criminal Justice professors have proved to be a very helpful resource for me, even after graduation,” she said. “Their desire to see me succeed was apparent throughout my four years at Methodist and has continued on, even after graduation.”

    Wildeboer’s story is one of many proving the value of an MU degree. Graduates have gone on to work at multinational companies such as Merrill Lynch, Marriott Hotels, the NFL Players Association, Johnson & Johnson, Goodyear, the Smithsonian, General Mills, Microsoft and NASA.

    In addition, Methodist is not only affordable and successful in placing graduates in careers, but also accessible. MU’s 617-acre main campus is home to state-of-the-art learning facilities, an 18-hole private golf course for students, athletic facilities for 20 NCAA sports, and more.

    Methodist University serves a wide range of students, from traditional students and working adults, to active members of our military and their families. For anyone seeking excellence and value, MU is an obvious choice.

    For more information about Methodist University, visit methodist.edu or contact the admissions office at 800-488-7110.

  • 10 MMG Middle School ClassroomThe Cumberland County School District is being recognized for its commitment to equity in education, earning two awards in the 27th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Board Association’s publication American School Board Journal. The Magna Awards honor districts that advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students.

    Across the nation, there were 15 total awards given. CCS was the only district to earn two awards for “Mentored Next Steps in Equity” and “Equity-Focused Classroom Management.”

    An independent panel of school board members, administrators and other educators met in December and selected the winners. This is the fourth year that the awards recognized school districts and their leaders for efforts to bring educational equity to their students.

    Educational equity depends on two main factors — fairness and inclusion. Fairness implies that factors specific to one's personal conditions should not interfere with academic success. Inclusion refers to a comprehensive standard that applies to everyone in the education system.

    “The 2021 Magna Award-winning districts represent the enormous efforts of school leaders during the pandemic to continue removing barriers to achievement for their underserved and vulnerable students,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Anna Maria Chávez.

    Cumberland County schools serve a diverse pupil population: “Almost 72% of our population are students of color (45% African American, 14% Hispanic, 9% multiracial, 2.5% Asian American/Pacific Islander, 1.5% Native American),” said Jovan Denaut, CCS Integrated Academic & Behavior Facilitator. In CCS, 78% of the student body receives free and reduced-price lunches.

    The District Equity Team strives to develop comprehensive programs that encourage diversity and excellence in its administrators, teachers and staff and works to ensure that all students are provided equitable opportunities and outcomes. “I've been doing equity work in the district for seven years,” Denaut said. “The Core Values of the CCS Strategic Plan focus on equity. Students have equitable access to engaging learning that prepares them to be collaborative, competitive and successful."

    “We proudly serve diverse student populations at our 89 schools,” said Alicia Chisolm, chair of the Cumberland County Board of Education. “Despite the challenges associated with the global pandemic, we are moving forward with the Cumberland Commitment: Strategic Plan 2024, and are making progress toward accomplishing our goals, which include defining, understanding and promoting educational equity. “

    The growing importance of equity is based on the premise that an individual's level of education directly correlates to his future quality of life.

    “Mentored Next Steps in Equity” was launched after a professional development workshop left participants asking what they could do to promote equity in their respective areas. The other initiative “Equity-Focused Classroom Management,” was an intensive classroom management course implemented to embrace diversity.

    Equity in education usually means fairness. It requires putting systems in place to ensure that every child has an equal chance for success. That requires understanding the challenges and barriers faced by individual students or by populations of students and providing additional support to help them overcome those barriers. While this may not ensure equal outcomes, school systems should strive to ensure that every child has equal opportunity for success.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that race/ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status are likely to emerge as predictors of adult health status. Socioeconomic status interacts with and confounds analyses of race/ethnicity and gender. The Academy recommends that pediatricians, in collaboration with social scientists, should develop and apply research methodologies that result in careful definitions of the effects of these variables on child health.

    In the context of social systems such as education the terms equity and equality have similar but slightly different meanings. Equality refers to scenarios in which all segments of society have the same levels of opportunity and support. Equity extends the concept of equality to include providing varying levels of support based on individual need or ability. In education, equality means providing every student with the same experience. Equity, however, means overcoming discrimination against specific groups of people, especially defined by race and gender.

    In modern times, usage of the term equity has increased because of concerns about social justice and a desire for fairness for historically oppressed groups. Minority groups often have equal rights but are treated unfairly due to unequal access to resources or opposition from the majority who deny others equal representation while still acting within the law.

    Pictured above: The Cumberland County School District is being recognized by the American School Board Journal for its efforts to advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students. (Photo courtsey Cumberland County Schools ). 

  • 06 learn to fishThe N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville has released its April workshop schedule.
    All courses will be led by trained volunteers and Wildlife Commission staff. A North Carolina fishing license is not required to take any of the classes. Pre-registration is required. The Center’s COVID-19 policies are stated on their website and must be followed during visits.
    April 13-14: Introductory Fishing for Adults, from 6–9 p.m.
    April 15: Basic Fishing Knots and Rigging, from 6:30 – 8 p.m.
    April 16: Surf Fishing Workshop, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
    April 17: BOW Fly-Fishing Workshop, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. ($20 fee, women only)
    April 22: Fly-tying Forum, from 6:30 – 8 p.m. (in-person and virtual)
    April 24: Basic Rod Building Course, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Registration for all clinics and classes is available online at ncwildlife.org/learning/education-centers/pechmann, or by calling 910-868-5003.

  • 09 SoldierFamilyHC1405 source 1Many military families who live off post are paying more than $200 a month out of pocket for housing costs beyond what they’re getting in their Basic Allowance for Housing, according to a newly released survey. “For military families, finding housing that fulfills both location and family needs can be a costly balancing act,” stated researchers in the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey. By law, BAH is designed to cover, on average, 95 percent of service members’ housing rental and utility costs in the private sector. Families are left to pick up 5 percent of their housing costs, which according to the Defense Department, should range between $70 to $158 a month in 2021. Researchers recommend that Congress change the Basic Allowance for Housing to 100 percent of the average housing rental costs in the private sector.

  • 08 thermo crosswalkConstruction is under way to change a section of Hay Street between Winslow Street and Ray Avenue. It will be reduced from two lanes in both directions to one lane each way. Hay Street in that vicinity will be closed to thru traffic for one week for construction. The new lanes will be resurfaced and marked for high visibility. An existing crosswalk in front of City Hall will be removed. In mid-May, a new high-visibility, thermoplastic crosswalk will be installed leading to Hurley Way which is the entrance to Segra Stadium. Pre-formed thermoplastic pavement markings provide durability and visibility to increase the life of markings for crosswalks, bike paths and handicap designated areas.

  • 07 I 95 Eastover bridgeConstruction is underway to upgrade and widen 16 miles of I-95 from Murphy Road (Exit 55) in Cumberland County to Exit 71 near Dunn in Harnett County. NCDOT also plans to begin widening the interstate from Exit 71 to the I-40 (Exit 81) junction in Johnston County later this year. The two segments total 26 miles and involve widening the interstate from its present four lanes to a total of eight lanes. The Baywood Road bridge spanning Interstate 95 in Eastover has been closed to be rebuilt in order to accommodate the highway widening project beneath it. The road will reopen early next year. A detour will send drivers to the nearby Murphy Road overpass (Exit 55) to get around the closure. A N.C. Department of Transportation contractor is widening I-95 between exits 55 and 71. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2024. Visit www.ncdot.gov/projects/Pages/ for more information about both projects.

  • 05 fiberoptic construction 2MetroNet has begun a two-year project of installing nearly 1,000 miles of fiber optic infrastructure throughout Cumberland County. The work includes installing equipment underground in public rights-of-way, as well as on utility poles. MetroNet began construction in areas of West Fayetteville between Raeford Road and Stoney Point Road in January. Residents are being notified as construction plans unfold in their neighborhoods. MetroNet says it will minimize any impact to personal property as it works within utility easement areas. The Public Works Commission emphasizes that the work is not managed by PWC. Residents interested in MetroNet construction activity can inquire online at www.metronetinc.com/iwantfiber or by telephone by calling 1-877-386-3876.

  • 04 construction worker by CJ Maya ReaganThe General Assembly will consider a measure to enshrine North Carolina’s right-to-work policies in the state constitution.
    Sens. Carl Ford, R-Rowan, and Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, have introduced a bill — Senate Bill 624 — that would guarantee N.C. workers would not be forced to join a labor union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Workers also could not be forced to remain apart from a union as a condition of employment.

    In essence, employees have the right — but not the obligation — to join a labor union.

    North Carolina has had such a “right-to-work” law in place since 1947, but it could be repealed by a future General Assembly. Putting this language in the state constitution would all but guarantee that North Carolina would remain a right-to-work state for the foreseeable future.

    Today, 27 states have right-to-work laws, primarily in the South and Midwest. In other states, companies and labor unions can enter into contracts requiring employees to join the union or at least pay union dues. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation estimates that such arrangements, known as a “closed shop” and allowed under federal law, siphon off $4.5 billion in employee pay each year.

    In a recent Civitas poll commissioned by the John Locke Foundation, 71% of likely 2022 voters would support such a constitutional amendment. Only 13% oppose the measure.

    But getting to a vote might prove a challenge. In North Carolina, proposed constitutional amendments must pass with three-fifths majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. This is the same hurdle as a veto override, and Republican leaders have struggled to garner enough votes for their priorities. Only a simple majority of the state’s voters is needed to approve the new amendment.

    Gov. Roy Cooper may also prove an obstacle.

    In 2018, when the General Assembly put forward six constitutional amendments, Cooper sued to block two of them from going on the ballot. Both would have restricted his power — one on his ability to make judicial appointments, and the other on his control of the State Board of Elections.

    Both ended up on the ballot, but neither was approved. The other four passed with strong majorities.

    One of those amendments put a voter ID requirement in the state constitution, but identification is still not required to vote in North Carolina after the courts blocked the law to implement it.

    Pictured above: Senate Bill 624 would guarantee N.C. workers could not be forced to join a labor union or pay union fees as a condition of employment. (Carolina Journal photo  by Maya Reagan). 

  • 03 galatic lumpSomething is really big out there. And it is hungry. It may be coming for us. Today we are going to visit the Astronomy Desk to see what Ms. Science has to say to scare us.

    Having spent a fair amount of time in the back yard pondering the stars over a fire pit in the winter of The Rona when there was nothing much else to do, I learned to look up at the night sky. Johnny Horne’s excellent columns about astronomy in the local paper made me realize how little I know about the Great Beyond. My basic understanding about the sky is slim. The sky is pretty big. It gets dark at night and light during the day. Stars are far away. The ancient people who named the constellations were inhaling something pretty strong when they looked up and saw Orion and his buddies in the sky.

    Your phone can tell you everything including what stars you are seeing. There is an app called Sky View which when you point it up shows the stars’ name and draws the constellations.

    Your phone also can find colorful articles about anything including astronomy. A recent article in Vice got my attention. The title was “Something Huge and Invisible is Making Nearby Stars Vanish, Scientists Propose.” From the title I was unsure if Scientists were proposing to Something Huge or to each other. Intrigued, I read the whole thing so you don’t have to. This is what I found.

    We all know what are the five most frightening words in the English language: “according to a new study.” This article was no exception. It began “An invisible cosmic behemoth might be tearing apart the closest star cluster to the Sun, leaving one side of the cluster eerily dark and devoid of stars, according to a new study.” Uh oh. A hungry Cosmic Behemoth is in the neighborhood. Like those nice young men in their clean white coats, it may be coming to take us away. It’s something called a “dark matter substructure” with the mass of 10 million suns made of “a mysterious non-luminous substance.” That did not sound good to the unpracticed ear. The scientists called it a Galactic Lump. This is not to be confused with Lumpy Rutherford from "Leave it to Beaver" who was a big guy himself. Somewhere out in the Cosmos there is a Galactic Lump hanging out in the Hyades star cluster. This is not to be confused with Goo Goo Clusters w hich hang out at the Grand Ol’ Opry.

    Ms. Science Tereza Jerabkova spotted the Galactic Lump in the Taurus constellation using the Gaia satellite to spy on the Hyades star cluster. At the head of the Taurus constellation there is a V shaped cluster of stars called tidal tails that flow backwards like the wake of a speed boat. Most of these V shaped clusters are equal in size on both wings of the cosmic wake. But not Taurus. Something is awry. Something invisible and really big — the Galactic Lump is tearing apart one of the tidal tails.

    Ms. Science proposes the Galactic Lump a big mess of Dark Matter which has an alias of “sub-halo” in polite society. I prefer Galactic Lump. As this is my column we will just call it Lumpy after Lumpy Rutherford.

    Ms. Science says that the tail stars aren’t being eaten by a Black Hole rather that Lumpy is somehow blocking them from sight through its clever use of Dark Matter. Dark Matter is a big deal in Astronomy — the Dark Matter in the Milky Way Galaxy is thought to be “more than a trillion times the mass of the Sun.” So, should we be concerned about Lumpy eventually eating up our solar system and blacking out the Sun? Like Bob Dylan almost warned, “Will we have darkness at the break of noon, eclipsing both the Sun and Moon?” Instead of climate change will we have solar system change? The mind boggles. As we all know, a boggling mind is a terrible thing to waste.
    Well, so as to not keep you in suspense, Ms. Science says not to worry. Lumpy will not eat our Galaxy. Apparently the Milky Way Galaxy is too small and too far away for Lumpy to be concerned with us. Why would Lumpy want to eat the Milky Way which is the equivalent of MRE’s when he can keep chowing down on the much larger Hyades star cluster? We are small cosmic potatoes to Lumpy. He is going to stay at the Hyades Big Buffet in the sky.

    Ms. Science explained that sometimes star clusters like the Milky Way enter the Transfer Portal like One & Done college basketball players and swap planets and players among themselves. Our solar system is safe from the Transfer Portal because she explained “The Sun is a lonely star that left its natal cluster long ago.” I guess that should make us feel better about ourselves but it kind of makes me sad for the Sun. Poor thing, the Sun left its natal cluster and has been on its own for a very long time. Our sun is an orphan, booted out of its natal cluster at a tender age. Isolated from its brother and sister stars without hope of swapping planets. This is Bigly Sad.

    But not to leave you on a morose note. Lumpy won’t eat us. Let us not forget what Hemingway wrote: The Sun also rises. Be like Martha White self-rising flour. Get your biscuits out of bed and go face the day.

    Pictured above: Lumpy Rutherford is not to be confused with the Galatic Lump recently discovered by scientists. 

  • 02 RoadWorkSignHC1601 sourceLet’s be honest with ourselves. No one, even the most progressive among us, likes to pay taxes. Nor do we enjoy paying our rent, mortgages, utility and insurance bills, or any other cost of daily living that does not reward us the same way a new car or even a new outfit does.

    We do, however, enjoy having homes with electricity and temperature controls and knowing that insurance can help us cope when adversity strikes. That requires us to pay to maintain these mainstays of American life. Most of us do that routinely, though sometimes begrudgingly.

    Taxes are a different story. It is harder to connect the mainstays of America’s collective life — schools, roads, bridges, mass transit, military services, law enforcement and public safety, and other governmental services — with the checks we write to the U.S. Treasury and the N.C. Department of Revenue and other taxes we routinely pay. Governmental services are big and abstract by comparison with the air conditioning keeping our homes cool all summer and the safety professionals who protect us in our own communities.

    Like so much else in life, changes in the U.S. tax structure have largely snuck up on us. Over the last 6-7 decades, tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, particularly corporate tax rates, have steadily declined while tax rates for the majority of us have remained the roughly same or risen. This includes sales taxes and some government-mandated “fees,” since they impact lower income earners more than those in the upper levels. Most critical is the corporate tax rate. Very few advanced nations maintain corporate tax rates as low as the United States.

    Since the 1950s, the corporate tax rate has steadily declined and is now to the point that major U.S. corporations pay no taxes at all. The New York Times reports that these include Fed Ex (despite all the millions of packages it has delivered during COVID), government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Nike and agricultural behemoth Archer-Daniels-Midland.

    You are not wrong if you wonder how these corporate giants keep what they make while you share a hefty percentage of your resources with various levels of government. And, you might note that higher income Americans own more stock in such corporations than lower income Americans do, meaning that they share in bigger corporate profits. The rich are indeed getting richer, and the divide between them and the rest of America continues to grow.

    Our nation has invested very little in our infrastructure since the big highway efforts of the mid-20th century, and it shows. President Biden is promoting a major infrastructure initiative to do what we have not done in decades. Americans want to be safe and secure in our homes and on our roads, and we support this effort. It will not happen, however, without changes in our tax structure, which Biden is also supporting. Over time, both Democrats and Republicans have backed tax reductions for corporations and by extension, wealthy Americans, but there is little to no evidence that those reductions have produced expanded job opportunities or higher incomes. In short, trickle-down economics have failed. They have actually done the opposite. They have trickled — or flooded — upward, accelerating the gulf between haves and have-nots.

    Millions of us want better and safer infrastructures. As politicians debate them and the rest of us listen and ponder, we must keep in mind this truth. In government, as in our private lives, we get what we pay for.

    Pictured above : President Joe Biden is promoting a major infastrusture initiative. Many argue that it will not happen without changes in our tax structure. 

  • 01 GirlHeadDown Blue girlPublisher Bill Bowman yields his space this week to Dr. Shanessa Fenner, who shares an up close and personal educator's perspective on the importance of raising awareness of child abuse prevention.

    I remember my first year as an elementary teacher. I decided that I wanted to sit all of my students in a circle on the carpet and have a discussion about appropriate and inappropriate touching. They sat there and looked at me while listening attentively to every word that I said.

    After the conversation one of my girls walked up to me and grabbed my hand. She told me that she had something to tell me. She told me that someone had inappropriately touched her. I told my teacher's assistant to watch the kids and we ran to the front office. I was so upset. Of course the authorities were contacted but I remember thinking that I am going to talk to my babies on a consistent basis about this because I have to protect them. The years have passed by, but I still think about her from time and time and hope she is doing okay.

    April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the United States. At least one in seven children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year. The Administration for Children & Families report a national estimate of 1,840 children died from abuse and neglect in 2019 compared to 1,780 children who died in 2018. Rates of child abuse and neglect are five times higher for children in families with a low socioeconomic status compared to children in families with a higher socioeconomic status.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about one in four girls and one in 13 boys experience child sex abuse at some point in their childhood. Some of the signs of sexual abuse include difficulty walking or sitting, sleeping with clothes on, age inappropriate bedwetting, runs away, not wanting to go to the bathroom, and sexual behavior or knowledge inappropriate for a child.
    Signs of neglect entail being dirty or has a body odor, frequent absences from school, begs or steals food, developmentally delayed, and not having the right clothes for the weather.

    General symptoms of abuse include low grades in school, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem, unusual interaction with parent, and slower than normal development.

    The impact of child abuse does not end when the abuse stops. These children may experience depression, anxiety disorders, poor self-esteem, aggressive behavior, suicide attempts, alcohol and drug abuse, post-traumatic stress, and other difficulties.

    Some states require all adults to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. It is not your job to investigate, just report what you suspect. If you suspect a child is being abused call the National Child Abuse
    Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.

    Pictured above: Child Abuse (n)- pysical, sexual or psychological mistreatment ot neglect of a child by a parent or other caregiver. 

  • 18 story noWhile the 2020-21 school year will be one to remember for struggles, disappointments, and frustration for many student-athletes across North Carolina and the nation because of COVID, there is a different story that has unfolded at Methodist University here in Fayetteville.

    •MU had an undefeated regular season and hosted the USA South Athletic Conference football championship game under its newly installed, state-of-the art stadium lights.

    •MU’s golf teams — both the men’s and women’s — are currently ranked in the Top 2 in the nation and the university recently completed upgrades to its private 18-hole, 6,502-yard golf course that is located on the university campus.

    •MU’s soccer teams took to “the pitch” this year at the new Nancy and Murray Duggins Soccer Stadium, a facility already being lauded as not only one of the best NCAA Division III soccer facilities in the region, but as one of the best in the nation.

    As Methodist’s teams wrap up this unprecedented spring season, additional conference tournaments are being held and Methodist teams and individual student-athletes will continue to be honored for their efforts in the classroom and on the field.

    “We are so proud of our staff, coaches, athletic trainers and student-athletes for all they have done and will continue to do on a daily basis,” said Dave Eavenson, vice president and director of athletics at MU. “This had been a tremendous challenge for everyone, but we face challenges head on and work through those challenges together here at MU. It is one of the things that makes Methodist a great place to be. One day at a time we continue to do everything we can to make Methodist proud on and off the fields and courts of play.”

    As all athletic competition was postponed by the NCAA and conference in the fall, just handling the logistics of playing all 20 of Methodist’s intercollegiate sports in the spring has been of championship caliber. A typical Saturday alone — not even considering games each day during the week — could include six competitions at MU’s on-campus athletic facilities and another six on the road.

    MU’s student-athletes have certainly risen to the occasion, following all of the strict testing and safety protocols to keep each other and their on-campus community safe. But they have also pushed each other to succeed in the classroom and against strong competition.
    Multiple Monarchs are chosen by the conference for player-of-the-week awards in their sport and many have already been chosen as all-conference honorees. In addition, the Monarchs remain focused on their classroom assignments and goals, with several MU athletes representing each sport earning scholar-athlete recognition for academic success every semester.

    While hanging national and conference championship banners is nothing new to Methodist University Athletics, this has certainly been an unprecedented season for all. At MU, it will be remembered not for disappointments or frustration, but rather student-athletes facing unique hurdles and excelling at championship levels both in the classroom
    and out.

    To learn more about Methodist University Athletics and its 20 NCAA sports, please visit mumonarchs.com

     

  • 16 JustinScott FirstYearPA 03 12 21 9For an institution known nationally for its world-class liberal arts education, Methodist University’s Health Science programs have for 25 years forged their own reputation of excellence and become an integral segment of the health care community in the state and region.

    MU’s Physician Assistant Program has graduated more than 650 PA’s since the program’s inception with more than half of the class of 2020 remaining in Southeastern North Carolina to alleviate the shortage of health care providers. MU graduates are answering the call by choosing to stay in North Carolina in order to make a difference in their
    communities.

    Justin Scott is from Robeson County and a first year student in MU’s Physician Assistant program. He served as an EMT before deciding to enter the PA Program. He wants to see his patients' recovery journey through to the end and discovered within himself a passion of caring for patients.

    “Being a PA allows me the continuity of care from the initial encounter all the way up if they are being transferred to another center, or being discharged from the hospital,” Scott said. “I like the idea of being able to build relationships with my patients.”

    Scott wants to make an impact in the community, but first he must study hard and get through the difficult, but rewarding, program at MU. Students are introduced to a wealth of knowledge from expert faculty, and in the first two years they will study physiology and anatomy, behavioral medicine, cardiology, OBGYN, and emergency medicine.

    When one classmate is weak on a particular topic, another classmate who may be strong in that area will step in and help. The PA class cohort of students forge close bonds and often become life-long friends.

    “There are days when an exam may be particularly difficult and a classmate will step in to encourage you,” he said. “It’s because they know exactly what you’re going through. It helps build some close relationships.”

    Kara Hiendlmayr knows the challenges to be excellent that Scott is going through. Hiendlmayr graduated from MU’s PA program in 2018 and today is practicing as a physician’s assistant in cardiology at the Fayetteville Heart Center.

    Hiendlmayr, who is from Maine, was a pharmacy student and had a revelation she wanted more out of her health care profession.

    “I wanted a more proximal role in health care and listening to the patient,” she said. “I love patient care and wanted more of a complete role in their care than simply dispensing medication … MU’s PA Program trains you to be many things. After graduation you can go into family medicine, OB-GYN, or cardiology for example. You’ll acquire experience and training to go in any direction. You graduate with options.”

    Today, Hiendlmayr lives in Fayetteville, but also travels to work in Dunn, where she enjoys making a difference in people’s lives providing full comprehensive health care.
    Like Hiendlmayr, Scott loves the options afforded to him through the vast training at MU. He enjoys working with children, but lately has been leaning towards the area of cardiology. He was standing in the MU Cavender Lab and was holding a human heart in his hands when he fell in love with cardiology. He remembers the moment his goals shifted with keen fascination.

    “The human heart is fascinating, the number of things that can go wrong and affect your whole body is numerous,” he said. “How to treat those has been a highlight of study for me so far.”

    Dr. Christina Perry, the PA program director at MU said she remembers that day Scott stood there holding a heart in his hands.

    “The look on his face was one of complete fascination and excitement,” she said.

    It was MU’s experiential learning that opened the door for Scott. “It’s one thing to hear a lecture with a slide show, and another to hold a heart in your hands,” he said.

    The Cavender Lab is one of the strategic assets that sets the MU program apart from many in the region. While dissections are often carried out by professors at other schools, at Methodist the students perform the dissections, gaining valuable hands-on experience.

    Though MU has state-of-the-art facilities, it’s the program’s faculty that Scott and Hiendlmayr credit the most for their passions of giving back and serving the community. The faculty in MU’s PA Program train and encourage their students to love and connect to their community. Giving back and connecting makes them better health care providers.

    To learn more about the PA Program at MU, visit Methodist.edu/paprogram

    Pictured above: Justin Scott is a first year student in the Physician Assistant Program.

  • 15 story noThe 2020-21 academic year ushered in a significant growth in the number of entirely online programs at colleges and universities. At Methodist University, six programs began accepting students last year, and an additional eight programs recently began accepting applications and will enroll students for the 2021-22 academic year.
    “Many adult students are looking for a fully-online degree program due to family and work obligations, military deployments, relocations, or current health and safety concerns,” said Dr. Beth Carter, the associate vice president for Academic Affairs at MU who oversees online programs and a satellite campus at Fort Bragg.
    “The online program also allows former students to return to complete a degree they started but were unable to finish, or to continue their education and complete a graduate degree.”
    Serving Our Community
    Methodist University, as a leader in health sciences education, has been graduating health care professionals in its on-campus programs for years. Alumni of the Health Care Administration program can now return to MU’s online Master of Health Administration program, fully online and tailored to working adults.
    Graduates in other majors looking to work in the health care administration field can opt for the Graduate Certificate in Health Care Administration, which can be completed in as little as two semesters. Students seeking bachelor’s degrees in the health sciences can apply to the Health Care Administration undergraduate program, and registered nurses working in the field can apply to the RN-to-BSN program. These bachelor-level health sciences programs are accepting applications now and will begin classes in the fall.
    “Methodist University will offer these four programs fully online to prepare health care professionals to manage, lead, and improve the health of individuals and communities. Internships, field work and clinical rotations will be required in these programs to provide real-world experiences,” Carter said.
    In-Demand Degrees
    In addition to its health sciences programs, Methodist University’s first fully online programs included a Master of Business Administration program and a bachelor’s program in Psychology, with optional concentrations in Human Performance or Counseling/Clinical Psychology. Business Administration, Criminal Justice, and Psychology were the first bachelor’s program to be offered, primarily due to regional and national demand.
    “Psychology was one of the main programs requested from surveys of the surrounding area about interest in online programs,” said Dr. Mark Kline, associate professor of Psychology and chair of the Psychology and Sociology Department at MU. “Nationwide, Psychology tends to be one of the largest majors at most schools.”
    What’s Next?
    An interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Professional Leadership and Ethics and an Associate of Arts in General Studies begin accepting applications this month, and over the past several weeks, bachelor’s programs in Computer Information Technology and Social Work have invited students to apply. Students interested in obtaining an undergraduate degree in a business-related field can now apply to bachelor’s programs in Accounting, Business Administration, and Marketing. An optional concentration in Health Care Administration can be added to any of these business programs.
    “This online program will educate, train and support the next generation of exceptional Social Work practices as does the current in-person program,” said Dr. Carla Fagan, associate professor of Social Work and department chair. “The online Social Work program provides the opportunity for adult learners to earn a degree almost completely from home and complete an internship in their local community. In addition, members of our military community can earn or continue their degrees from Methodist while deployed or when transferred to their new duty stations.”
    Active-duty military and their dependents are good fits for Methodist University Online programs. Dr. Stanley T. Wearden, president of Methodist University, targeted both expanding online programs and improving service to the military community as goals of his administration during his 2019 inaugural address. Advancements in these areas have led to the University’s being awarded gold status as a Military Friendly® School for
    2020-21.
    Taught By the Best
    The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred demand for fully online programs at all levels. Although more and more people have been vaccinated, concerns linger concerning the duration of their efficacy and their effectiveness against more virulent strains. These concerns help fuel the expansion of Methodist University Online’s offerings.
    Unlike many of the major players in online education, though, Methodist University Online courses are taught primarily by MU’s full-time faculty, not adjuncts. In the 2020-21 academic year to date, 88 percent of courses taught in the Methodist University Online program have had full-time faculty at the helm. Full-time faculty usually have terminal degrees, such as a Ph.D., in their field; experience in advanced research; and, often, public and private sector careers in which they have practiced their disciplines.
    Programs are offered in six eight-week terms per year, and complete program information, including how to apply, can be found on Methodist University Online’s microsite, online.methodist.edu.

    Pictured above: For those looking for online options for starting or finishing a degree Methodist University offers 14 degree programs, including health sciences, business administration, psychology and criminal justice. Programs offered in six different eight-week terms per year. ore information can be found on the Methodist website. 

  • 14 51097067233 93575c0d7b oWhile rank signifies hierarchy and chain of command in the military, it can also be a distinction of excellence and superiority for service to those in the military. In relation to the latter, Methodist University is uniquely qualified, distinguished and honored.
    In 2021, MU was awarded Gold Rank status — as a university that sets an excellent example with its programs and initiatives — by MilitaryFriendly® Schools. Methodist is recognized by this national organization annually and is scheduled to receive another superior ranking for its services to military families later this month.
    “Our new Gold MilitaryFriendly® designation, recognizes a university-wide effort and commitment to increase educational opportunities, services, and programs to meet the unique needs of our military-affiliated student population,” said Billy Buckner, director of MU’s Fort Bragg Office. “We are dedicated to serving service members, veterans, and their families with compassion and support they deserve.”
    Annual recognition is telling, but there are other obvious differences that make MU the best choice for military families. For instance, MU’s main campus is just a few miles from Fort Bragg and Pope Army Airfield and the university offers classes on post with its Fort Bragg Office.
    MU’s Fort Bragg Office is staffed with experienced members who understand the military, and faculty at MU’s main campus work with the time challenges often associated with a life spent in service. With an office on post, experienced staff, and educators who understand the unique requirements and needs of service members and their families, MU is uniquely positioned to “Serve Those Who Serve.”
    Methodist University also has a continued commitment to America’s veterans through participation in the GI Bill®’s Yellow Ribbon Program. This significant commitment upholds a long history of MU support for our veterans and their academic and career endeavors.
    MU continues to find ways to enhance its academic offerings and develop military-centric degree programs that best meet the needs of its students. In January 2021, Methodist began offering 100-percent online degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels that best serve veterans, spouses and their families.
    Catalina Jara Hurtado is a wife and mother who drives trucks for the Army. She will graduate from MU this May with a Business Administration degree. She wants to work in human resources and loves to solve problems. She was recently promoted to Sergeant and has the responsibility of leading 10 soldiers.
    The staff at MU’s campus at Fort Bragg helped Jara Hurtado with her classes and transfer credits. She received dozens of transfer credits for her military training and education and academic work at other educational institutions. This helped cut her education time almost in half and enables her to earn her degree in two and half years. Jara Hurtado praises Mara Baker, MU’s Fort Bragg admission’s counselor, with helping her take advantage of transfer credits and tuition adjustments.
    “She was very helpful. Mara answered every question I had and walked me through everything I needed to do,” said Jara Hurtado.
    Jara Hurtado wasn’t surprised to discover MU had earned Gold Rank status. She experienced MU’s commitment to military families first-hand. The nature of her job often calls her away on missions at unexpected times. She knew military life wouldn’t always coincide with university deadlines, but MU’s professors — some who are veterans themselves — are empathetic and helpful.
    “Whenever I have a schedule conflict, I contact the professors and they are very friendly and understanding,” she said. “They’re always trying to help me, and I’ve never had any issues with any professors because of my job.”
    Another benefit for MU students is having access to the nearby Davis Memorial Library with its vast collection of books and research resources. Jara Hurtado said when she started her MU journey, she visited the library often, but then discovered the power of accessing the catalog online, a big benefit when working from home.
    “You can access the library from home with your MU account. I do almost all my homework research online now,” Jara Hurtado said.
    The fully online programs are just one example of MU’s eagerness to bring its world-class education to the military and their families. In addition to new Methodist University fully-online programs, students can continue to attend classes in a variety of modalities to include evening classes where they can earn BS degrees in Entrepreneurship, Environmental & Occupational Management, Leadership Communication, Health Care Administration, Business Administration and Political Science.
    “Methodist University Online is a huge benefit for our military-affiliated student population and affords students the flexibility and convenience they need to balance family, work, and school,” said Buckner. “Also, MU Online truly addresses the needs of our Special Operations Forces and other service members who serve in military occupational specialties who cannot attend in-person classes because of their military duties.”
    For more information, contact MU at Fort Bragg: 910-436-3624 or methodist.edu/bragg. Registration for summer classes is open now, and classes begin May 3.

    Pictured above: Catalina Jara Hurtado, a sergeant in the Army, will graduate in May with a Business Adminitsration Degree. 

  • love letter ladiesThe Fayetteville Dinner Theatre will kick off its 2021 season this weekend at Gates Four Golf & Community Club with one showing each day at 7 p.m. on April 9 and 10. “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” is a musical mystery written and directed by Dr. Gail Morfesis, a local performer who has collaborated with Fayetteville State University, Methodist University, Fayetteville Technical University, Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, among others.

    In “A Sinister Cabaret,” Morfesis takes on the role of Francine Maximillian, a seasoned actress who starts an agency to promote young artists. Francine’s philandering husband, who works at the agency, meets his end under mysterious circumstances early in the show, and through performances by the artists, we learn details of their lives and dealings with the deceased.

    “During the course of the story all of his interactions with different women come out,” Morfesis said. “It’s just a really fun show.”

    The play is interactive, Morfesis said, so before the finale, the audience will be able to ask questions of characters to try to determine who is guilty of the murder.

    Jim Smith plays Sylvester “Sly” Fox in the production and said he has enjoyed working with Morfesis and the other talented performers. Smith said that with multiple plots running between the characters, the audience will be intrigued and entertained by “how all the ladies feel about my character.”

    Smith is a recent transplant to the Sandford and Fayetteville areas. Originally from New Jersey, he performed in regional productions in the New York metro area when his full-time job with the New Jersey Department of Human Services would allow. Smith appeared in “Pippin,” “Godspell,” “West Side Story,” and “Hair” among others. Locally, he has appeared in the Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s “Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”

    Smith hopes to do multiple shows each year now that he is retired and able to devote more time to his craft. Smith said that with each of his past shows, he was able to gain experience in dancing, singing and acting as well as build friendships with other performers. He found the same camaraderie in rehearsals for “A Sinister Cabaret.”

    “It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. Gail, who has a lot of background knowledge in vocal training,” said Smith.

    Tabitha Humphrey, who goes by the stage name Selva Black, plays Percy Barker in “A Sinister Cabaret.” Like Smith, Humphrey is a transplant to the Fayetteville area. She is a military spouse with several moves under her belt which allowed her opportunities to perform in a variety of areas to include Hawaii, Canada and South Korea.

    “I loved to sing and I taught myself how through Disney songs,” said Humphrey. She then decided to try singing on stage and landed a spot in “Little Shop of Horrors” at Camp Humphreys Community Theatre in South Korea. A role as Kate in “Kiss Me, Kate!” followed before a family move to Hawaii. Several performances at the Diamond Head Theatre, a community theatre in Honolulu, followed including “Catch Me if You Can,” “ South Pacific,” “Spamalot,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

    “Hawaii was a wake-up call for me,” Humphrey said. “I learned I had to fight for the role I wanted.” Humphrey soon found an agent and landed a small speaking role in the 2016 movie “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” starring Zac Effron, Adam DeVine and Anna Kendrick.

    Another move took the family to Canada where she performed as Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” at the Oshawa Little Theatre.

    Now in North Carolina, Humphrey is hitting the local stage with Fayetteville Dinner Theatre, but is looking forward to opportunities for other performances. Like Smith, Humphrey said her experience with FDT has been fun.

    “Dr. Gail gave us creative freedom with our characters,” Humphrey said. Morfesis allowed the performers to improvise many aspects of their characters.

    “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” also features Courtney Parker, Reba Fox, Valerie Humphrey, Kaitlyn Woodrow, Stanley Seay, Gabriel McKern and Vajra Spring. For ticket information visit www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com or call 910-391-3859.

     

    Pictured above: Fayetteville Dinner Theatre's “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” has scheduled performances April 9 and 10.

    Pictured below: (Left) Jim Smith is Sylvester "Sly" Fox and Gail Morfesis (Right) is Francine Maximillian in Fayetteville Dinner Theatre's “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand.”

     Jim Smith as Sly FoxGail M as Francine

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

      

     

       Pictured below: Selva Black is Percy Barker in Fayetteville Dinner Theatre's “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand.”

     Selva Black as Percy Barker

     

  • 12 DadSonBibleHC1406 sourceIn general, parents tend to fear the things they can't control. We tend to be particularly afraid of the sensational hazards, those that draw unwelcome attention and make for movie-of-the-week melodramas. From the graduation from diapers to pants and first loves to getting caught shoplifting candy from a convenience store, there are plenty of opportunities for parents and their children to feel like they've blown it.

    But the good news is this: you're doing fine.

    The fact of the matter is that life is a lot shorter than we give it credit for, and for parents, that short span of years is made up of a series of firsts.

    That's true for you, me, and every parent on the planet. So let's start by giving each other some room to learn, react and grow.

    If you have more than one child — or any number of siblings — you probably already know how tough life can be on first kids and first time parents.

    So many experiences in life can be deemed traumatizing in growing up and parenting alike, and while we may flippantly attribute some of the most horrendous scenarios to bad parenting in someone else's family, it's not usually how we see it if we're the parent.

    Somewhere near the middle of my military career my wife and I got a call to meet with the commandant of the overseas housing area we lived in. For a military family, that is not a good thing. The commandant is someone whose face is framed in an official hallway somewhere — not sizing you up from across an oversize desk in a quiet office. Whatever our kid had done had put our ability to reside on that installation in jeopardy. In serious cases, families can be ordered to return to the continental U.S. while the military member served out the rest of the tour alone. Not a desirable option. Definitely not the type of thing that gets you promoted.

    Here's the thing: I don't even remember what happened. I can't recall whatever incident led to the meeting, and I don't remember the meeting itself beyond its implications. Gone. Forgotten.

    Yet at the time, it seemed like the end of the world.

    Looking past the truly catastrophic situations that may occur in your life, or the lives of those around you, I want to encourage you with three simple things you need as a parent: License, Love and Forgiveness.

    Your license to parent is like a two-sided coin. One side affords you the power to exercise the discipline needed to steer your children toward becoming the best person they possibly can be.

    The other side of that coin is love. Discipline with love will always yield the greatest results, because in that is care and concern for the outcome.

    And finally, forgiveness. Your child will make mistakes, and so will you. Learn early on to own and accept those things that don't go according to plan, because there will be plenty. Perhaps forgiveness will be a little easier when you pause to realize this – not only is it your first time parenting, but it's your child's first time being your kid.

  • 13 ManWheelchairHC1403 sourceHave you ever wanted to attend college but felt as if your disability prohibited you from accomplishing your academic goals? If you answered yes, now is the time to pursue your educational dreams. Fayetteville Technical Community College renders its services to students who require accommodations based on mental, emotional or physical impairments through its own Disability Support Services Office.

    The DSSO is an exclusive entity within Student Services at FTCC, and we take great pride in assisting students (online and on campus) who have disabilities since we are a renowned equal opportunity, learning and educational institution.

    The academic rigor of curriculum courses does not change based on the diagnosis or disorder of the student. The services and accommodations provided by our department are implemented to promote fairness within education.

    The purpose of quality education is to retain knowledge and to foster career opportunities through a mastery level of academic retention. FTCC policies and procedures, which can be found on the FTCC website, comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

    It is essential to FTCC that our students do not undergo discrimination or exclusion from participating in college events and programs and are not denied curriculum or non-curriculum educational activities and opportunities based on any form of a medically diagnosed disability. All prospective students applying to FTCC are welcome to visit the DSSO to obtain information before enrolling into programs that the college has to offer. Our team will be glad to answer any questions regarding ADA compliance and services provided to the public.

    When applying to FTCC, future students are provided with information about where and how to apply for disability services. Once a student submits the proper documentation through the DSSO, accommodations will be granted. The DSSO promptly sends accommodations to the faculty members after the student completes required actions. It is the student’s responsibility to follow a simple step-by-step process to renew accommodations for each semester.

    The appropriate documents to receive and to maintain academic accommodations consist of a valid medical evaluation that must come from a licensed psychological or medical provider within the last five years. If students cannot provide required medical information, some temporary services may be determined and arranged on a case-by-case basis.

    Those receiving services provided by the DSSO should have no concern about their data being vulnerable to public exposure as the department responsibly guarantees secure, ethical and legal protocols for protecting students’ welfare. Students’ medical information is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and is considered confidential. Our department is located in the Tony Rand Student Center, Room 127. Please do not hesitate to contact the DSSO at any time with questions, comments or concerns regarding student accommodations, ADA compliance, or professional assistance. FTCC looks forward to the opportunity to help you find your way forward.

  • 11 minx 2Minxdiva’s Essentials, a health and wellness boutique, is Cool Spring Downtown Districts’ latest addition in Fayetteville.

    The wellness store located on the second floor of 308-B Hay Street specializes in natural products like sea moss gel, raw organic sea moss, natural soaps and candles.

    “I am a Fayetteville native, and it's always been a dream of mine to be on Hay Street,” owner Ebony McAllister said. “It really just fell in my lap, I wasn’t looking for it so when the opportunity presented itself, I took it.”

    One of Minxdiva’s most popular products is sea moss gel. “Sea moss is a hot commodity now,” McAllister said. “It is a superfood that contains about 92 out of the 100 minerals our body needs. It’s a natural multivitamin.”

    Sea moss, a type of edible algae or seaweed can be primarily found between North America and Europe.

    “You can make it yourself; people can add it to their smoothies, use on hair and face for skin issues,” McAllister said. “I know it works because everyone who comes and gets it, comes back for more.”

    Her discovery of sea moss was made on her journey of finding natural products for herself.

    McAllister calls her brand “The Borderline Vegan” because she’s not fully vegan and still eats certain foods. She is extremely conscious of her body and says her path as an educator teaching nutrition in schools led to her research of the food industry.

    Minxdiva’s Essentials also offers meal planning guides for those looking for natural substitutes to processed foods.

    “I am more anti-chemicals than I am anti-meat,” McAllister said.

    Emphasizing the power of information, she said true change starts from within and so she opened a store to share products that are true to her with the community.

    “Your body doesn't recognize chemicals, whether it's food, lotions, soaps,” she said. “I believe man can’t make anything that can replace nature.”

    For more information about the Minxdiva’s Essentials, visit https://www.minxdiva.com.

  • 02 BSMC 1 inside pageThe history of the Buffalo Soldiers is full of courage, sacrifice and heroism.

    Following the Civil War, Congress passed the Army Organization Act in 1866 allowing African Americans to enlist in the regular peacetime military. All-Black Cavalry and Infantry Regiments were created including the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry. Serving on the frontier, these units were at the forefront of our nation’s western expansion —protecting settlers, stage coaches, wagons trains and railroad crews. Much of their time was spent battling Native American Indians who were resisting federal government policies. Black soldiers, some of whom had fought for the Union Army in the Civil War, were now fighting another minority group in the name of the United States government.

    The irony isn’t lost on Anor “Chief” Burnside, a retired Army soldier and member of the Fayetteville Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club.

    “The majority of them were stationed out west to fight Indians and to help build roads and safeguard travelers,” Burnside said. “They had a lot to prove to America, to be brave enough to serve the country at the same time they were being discriminated against in other parts of the country.”

    Burnside retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 5 in 2017 after serving 34 years. He said the Buffalo Soldiers served as inspiration to many people of color who followed their example and served honorably in the military services.

    “Buffalo Soldiers paved the way for folks like me to join the Army and achieve the rank I did,” he said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to them.”

    According to www.history.com Buffalo Soldiers participated in at least 177 conflicts in the Indian Wars, earning a reputation as steadfast and fierce fighters. One legend has it that the name Buffalo Soldiers came from the American Indians themselves, showing reverence to the Cavalry soldiers.

    In the late 1890s, the Buffalo Soldiers were fighting in the Spanish-American War charging up San Juan Hill. The 9 th and 10 th Cavalry Regiments served in the Philippines in the early 1900s.

    In 1907, the United States Military Academy Detachment of Cavalry was changed to a "colored" unit so West Point cadets could learn their riding skills from Black non-commissioned officers, who were considered among the best. The detachment, made up of soldiers from the 9 th and 10 th Cavalry would go on the instruct future officers on riding, mounted drill and cavalry tactics for four decades.

    During World War I, Buffalo Soldiers defended the Mexican border. Both Regiments were integrated into the 2nd Cavalry Division in 1940. While discrimination was likely a factor during the Jim Crow era, troops from the 9 th and 10 th Cavalry Regiments were moved into service roles and both Regiments were deactivated in 1944.

    The legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers still continued into World War II. The 92 nd Division, known as the “Buffalo Division,” saw combat during the invasion of Italy. Another division that included the original 25th Infantry Regiment fought in the Pacific theater.

    In 1948, President Harry Truman issued an Executive Order eliminating racial discrimination in the U.S. armed forces, and the last of the all-Black units were disbanded in 1951 during the Korean War, and the soldiers integrated into other units.

    Through the years, Buffalo Soldiers compiled a distinguished record of service and sacrifice winning numerous unit awards and individual commendations. According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, 18 Buffalo Soldiers received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Indian Campaigns from 1865-1899. By additional accounts, 5 Medals of Honor would be awarded to Buffalo Soldiers for actions during the Spanish-American War. Also, 2 Medals of Honor would be awarded to soldiers of the 92 nd Division during World War II; and 2 Medals of Honor would be awarded to soldiers of the 24th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War.

    Today, the Buffalo Soldiers’ legacy of service to the nation endures in books, movies, monuments, museum exhibits, and with the help of organizations such as the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club.

    “We are a national organization,” Burnside said. “The name Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club was chosen to honor and pay respect to the 9th and 10th Cavalry — the Buffalo Soldiers.”

    What is now known as the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers & Troopers Motorcycle Club began with a single club in Chicago in 1993. Participation and interest grew and more chapters around the country were established. The NABSTMC now has more than 100 chapters worldwide and is active in a number of charitable efforts. The NABSTMC also provides mentors to youth and educational programs in order to share the heritage of African Americans.

    The Fayetteville Chapter, the first in North Carolina, was established in 2001. It was soon followed by chapters in Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh and Wilmington.

    “We are open to anyone who believes and supports our values and advocates the history of the 9th and 10th- the Buffalo Soldiers,” Burnside said. “Our chapter is made up of active and retired military. We have some police officers that are active. Our organization is made up of professional men and women of all backgrounds who believe in educating people on the history of Buffalo Soldiers, giving back to the community and being good role models.”

    Setting the example is something the BSMC members take seriously.

    The Fayetteville BSMC host a number of outreach endeavors to include charity rides, funeral escorts and even pick up litter along their adopted three-mile stretch of Highway 162 in Hope Mills.

    “We’re all about giving back to our community,” Burnside said. “We call it ‘doing good in the hood.’ We’re all about educating the public on the rich history of the Buffalo Soldiers, their accomplishments and contributions, things they did to make the Army and this country great.”

    Their biggest fundraiser of the year is scheduled for April 10 and all riders are invited to participate. The Buffalo Soldiers 11th Annual Pony Express Charity Ride will start at Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson on Sycamore Dairy Road. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and kick stands go up at 10 a.m. There will be refreshments, door prizes and raffles. The event is expected to be complete by 3 p.m. The registration fee is $20 and all proceeds will benefit local community charities. For more information call 205-902-4642.

    “The Pony Express Ride raises money to support scholarships, and it helps fund our Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas toy giveaway,” Burnside said.
    While being a force for good in the community is reward in itself, Burnside said members also value the time on the road together.

    “As a chapter, we try to ride as often as we possibly can,” he said. “On the third Saturday of the month, after our meeting, we will ride to fellowship.”

    Club members also take part in other Club rides as a show of support. For the upcoming Pony Express Charity Ride, Burnside expects riders from BSMC chapters as far away as Florida. “It’s all about that wind therapy,” Burnside said. “We enjoy that camaraderie of coming together and feeling the wind in your face.”

    “Today we’re riding our iron horses and trying to be a good example,” Burnside said.

    For more information on the Fayetteville Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club or the 11th Annual Pony Express Charity Ride, visit www.ncbuffalosoldiers.com or www.facebook.com/NCBuffaloSoldiersMC.

  • 07 Rex program“Oedipus Rex” opened with a dramatic flair at the Gilbert Theater on March 26 and will continue until April 11.

    Based on the infamous Greek myth written by Sophocles in 429 B.C. about the cursed king Oedipus and his tragic misfortune.

    The story entices the audience with compelling drama, songs and acting. Director and adapter Montgomery Sutton successfully simplifies the language for everyone to understand without taking away its charm.

    The drama takes viewers on a journey through the plague-stricken city of Thebes, where the citizens beg their king Oedipus to find a solution.

    After promising to end their misfortunes, Oedipus receives a prophecy that changes his life. Told to solve the murder of the last king of Thebes which went unsolved, Oedipus sets himself on a path to seek the truth for his people that leads to his own doom.

    Returning actress Deannah Robinson plays Oedipus and perfectly captures his character - slightly arrogant, paranoid, honest, righteous, a loving husband, father and king. Seen before at the Gilbert in productions like “Laramie Project” and “Barefoot in the Park,” she brings to stage a new character.

    Playing Oedipus brought new enlightenment in the rehearsals, and there was more sympathy for him, Robinson said.

    The production showcases an almost trial in search of the truth, and Oedipus becoming more and more paranoid. Tiresias, the blind prophet, played by Ella Mock, tells Oedipus that he himself is the murderer of the last king. Oedipus then blames Tiresias for treason, then his brother-in-law Creon.

    The drama unfolds to when an ambassador of Corinth comes forth and a shepherd to confirm that Oedipus was the abandoned prince of
    Thebes, adopted by the royalty of Corinth and did in fact kill his birth father, Laius, and marry his own mother, Jocasta.

    Mock, who plays multiple characters in the show including Tiresias and Antigone, said they were excited about how the show flows.

    The show sees many of the actors playing various roles with much ease and talent. Mock’s performance of the blind prophet Tirisius was outstanding and leaves the audience at the edge of their seat. Tim Zimmerman did well in his various roles, but stood out as Creon.

    The music is made better with the live instruments being played and the stunning voices of Zimmerman, Mock and Helen Steffan.

    Those familiar with the original Greek myth know that the story ends with heartbreak for Oedipus and his kin, as he gouges out his own eyes, symbolizing his blindness of the obvious truth and his gruesome fate.

    Audiences can expect a night of much drama, and perhaps some sympathy for Oedipus
    the King.

    For tickets and more information about the Gilbert visit, https://www.gilberttheater.com/index.php

  • 06 LAF TRAIL MARKER 1A historical marker was placed March 5 on the edge of Cross Creek Linear Park designating Fayetteville as a stop on the Marquis de Lafayette’s tour of the United States nearly 200 years ago. The placement is part of the Lafayette Trail Project founded by Julien Icher and leads up to the bicentennial celebration of Lafayette’s Grand Tour of 1824-25.

    Lafayette was a French nobleman who fought alongside the American people in the Revolutionary War. His loyalty to General George Washington, his resources, and his alliance with the French king all played an important role in the American people earning their independence from the English crown.

    This Trail marker is one of five in North Carolina that helps map out Lafayette’s tour 196 years ago. Icher, from France, has collected extensive details and artifacts about Lafayette. His multi-year project aims to place a marker at each of Lafayette’s stops during his tour.

    The placement of the historical marker is a notable designation of our city’s connection to Lafayette and the Revolutionary War, said Bud Lafferty, a member of the Lafayette Society.

    When Lafayette arrived in Fayetteville in March of 1825, he visited multiple places during his stop. He arrived in a carriage with a whole entourage that was so big that, instead of staying in the hotel named after him, he actually stayed in the National Banking House (which is the old courthouse today). The carriage that Lafayette came in is still in Fayetteville and is located at the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Museum.

    Lafferty said that Lafayette was for the rights of man, as well as an abolitionist. He said that Lafayette received a warm welcome when he arrived in Fayetteville, which had been renamed in his honor in 1783.

    There will eventually be markers in 25 states that Lafayette visited during his tour. Members of the Lafayette Society say the markers will help increase awareness of the story of the Marquis de Lafayette and Fayetteville’s own connection to history.

    For more information on The Lafayette Society and events visit their website at https://www.lafayettesociety.org/.

    For more information about the Lafayette Trail visit https://thelafayettetrail.org/#map.

  • 09 vaccine youthCumberland County and Fort Bragg are now vaccinating individuals ages 16 and up with the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Fort Bragg began providing COVID-19 vaccinations to TRICARE beneficiaries age 16 and up on April 6 at the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds.

    Beneficiaries should schedule an appointment on the vaccination appointment website at https://informatics-stage.health.mil/COVAX/. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

    Fort Bragg is currently using the Pfizer vaccine which requires two doses separated by a minimum of 21 days. Those needing the initial dose, the vaccine will be administered Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those eligible for the second dose, can receive their vaccination Tuesday through Saturday from 1-5 p.m.

    The Cumberland County Department of Public Health begins vaccinating all individuals ages 16 and older April 7. This includes all individuals in previous Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4.

    Individuals 16 and older may schedule appointments by visiting the County’s COVID-19 vaccine page at www.co.cumberland.nc.us/home to make an appointment.

    The Health Department reported last week that two Cumberland County residents have died of COVID-19 since March 26, bringing the total to 292 deaths. As of April 2,there have been 25,853 cases in Cumberland County residents reported since the onset of the pandemic. Cumberland County’s COVID-19 positive test rate is at 7.1%.

    The NCDHHS reports that 15.5% of Cumberland County’s population is at least partially vaccinated and 11.6% is fully vaccinated. The most recent data on the NCDHHS Dashboard is current through March 31.

    There are 14 providers in Cumberland County offering vaccinations at 20 locations. Find your spot at https://myspot.nc.gov/.

    Vaccine Clinic Information

    Cumberland County continues to offer free drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinics to individuals age 16 and older at the Crown Complex. An online application form available on the county website allows individuals to choose their own appointment date and time for the first dose and second dose of the vaccine. Second doses are automatically scheduled after the first dose is received.

    Cumberland County is aware of a technical glitch that has caused individuals with scheduled second dose appointments on April 7 at 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to be cancelled. Individuals previously scheduled in this time block can attend their appointment during their originally scheduled timeslot. We are working to resend email and text appointment confirmations to these individuals.

    The clinic schedule for this week follows.

    Tuesday, April 6: Second doses by appointment only, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4. There will be no standby lane.

    Wednesday, April 7: First and second doses by appointment only, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for all individuals (age 16 and up). There will be no standby lane.

    Friday, April 9: First doses by appointment only, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Standby lane will run from 3-5 p.m. for all individuals (age 16 and up).

    Visit the website to make an appointment or call 910-678-7657 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. if you need assistance with the form or have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals who need transportation to and from the vaccination site can call 910-678-7619 for assistance, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • 01 boy hugs mil dadThe Cumberland County School System invites the community to join in support of the more than 13,000 military-connected students in local schools. As part of the Month of the Military Child, CCS has identified April 16 as “Purple Up Day.” Community members are encouraged to wear “Cumberland Purple” attire, showing all military students that the community recognizes their tremendous service and the sacrifices they make every day. Why purple? Purple symbolizes all branches of the military. It is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue. “CCS serves the third-largest concentration of military-connected students in the world,” said Howard Lattimore, the district's Military Liaison. “Military students are faced with many transitions, changes and hardships. We encourage our school leaders, families, and community members to salute our smallest heroes— military children.’” Learn more at https://www.militarychild.

  • 08 Szoka flags militaryOn April 1, the House Finance Committee gave a favorable report to bipartisan legislation (House Bill 83) that will eliminate the state income tax on military retirement pay.

    “This legislation is yet another important step towards making North Carolina the most military friendly state in the nation,” said Rep. John Szoka
    (R-Cumberland), who is the primary bill sponsor. “It is time for North Carolina to join the majority of other states who provide this tax relief to those who have sacrificed and served our great nation.”

    Currently, military retirement pay is not taxed by the state if the retiree had five or more years of service as of August 12, 1989. House Bill 83 will extend the tax exemption to all military retirees living in North Carolina.

    Rep. Szoka explained that, “By eliminating the income tax on military retirement pay, we will also make our state more competitive in attracting and recruiting these highly trained and qualified military retirees. This is an essential component to developing and growing North Carolina’s talented workforce.”

    Reps. John Bell (R-Wayne), John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg) and Diane Wheatley (R Cumberland) are also primary sponsors of the legislation, which now goes to the House Rules Committee.

  • 04 gunner biden pic by Jim JonesIt is said, watch what politicians do and not what they say. Our country is sideways. We are surrounded by cowards, feel-good laws, guilt marketing and a sense of perverted righteousness. Many representatives get elected, take office, swear to uphold the Constitution. Within minutes, many of them do everything they can to circumvent and destroy the very foundation they swore to uphold.

    In the last few weeks, we have had two highly reported shootings. The president did not miss an opportunity to use these tragic events to push his agendas. The president touted the Atlanta shooting at three massage parlors as "An assault on the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) community in Georgia." The shooter has not been charged with a hate crime. Playing the race/hate card, the propaganda machines spread fear to Asians. They failed to mention the victims included six Asians and two whites murdered and a Hispanic man who was injured. The motive does not look like it was racial; the accused said he had a sex addiction.

    Six days later, in Boulder, Colorado, a man entered a grocery store parking lot, killed 10 people, and wounded one. The president and media led people to believe that the shooter used the evil AR-15 rifle. However, he had two pistols — a Ruger AR-556 and a 9mm pistol (believed to not have been used). Both were legally purchased.
    In response to the Atlanta shooting, the president quickly asked Congress to send him the "COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act" to sign, which had nothing to do with the shootings. The very fact that our government leaders think that one group, race, sex, or even one person is better than another is a tribute to their lack of moral character to enforce and uphold our laws.

    In response to the Boulder shooting, the president used the moment to reiterate his campaign promise to go after "assault weapons," saying, "As president, I'm going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep people safe." He went on to say, "I got that done when I was a senator. It passed. It was a law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings." He did not mention that studies show the ban did not have a significant effect on firearm homicides. According to the CDC, there is one-half to three million incidents annually where people use firearms for protection.

    A few weeks ago, President Biden fell three times going up the steps to board Air Force One. In America, each year, 12,000 Americans die due to stairway accidents. Each year, there are less than 400 people killed by rifles, including hunting, shotgun, and AR-15 style rifles combined! Currently, there is an estimated 10 to 30 million AR-15 style rifles in the U.S.

    In 2013, during an interview with Parents magazine, then Vice President Gunner Biden said, "Get a double-barreled shotgun... Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you whoever is coming in is not going to. You don't need an AR-15. It's harder to aim, it's harder to use, and in fact, you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun."

    Umm, as the VP at the time, what he was saying is, if all of the Secret Service and their weaponry fail, just walk outside and shot two shotgun shells in the air. No responsible gun owner would ever tell anyone to shoot in the air.

    Let me ask you if you are unlike the Bidens and do not have Secret Service protection, and you hear a noise in the middle of the night, and you grab your Gunner Joe double-barreled shotgun and walk into your living room and discover three people breaking into your house? What if you squeeze a blast off and miss? How does that math work for you?

    Why don't our current laws work? There is no deterrent. Death-sentenced prisoners often spend more than one to two decades in jail before being exonerated or executed. That is decades for families to have to deal with a murderer and a criminal justice system. They become victims by a system that never gives them peace or justice.

    We need representatives that are willing to uphold our Constitution before party loyalties and politics. Our law enforcement agencies have to go after real criminals. Our prosecutors have to go after righteous cases. Our judges have to be fair and give out just punishments. Our judicial system must provide sentences that are speedy and respectable.

    Why is the government obsessed with assault rifles when you are 30 times more likely to be killed by a flight of stairs than an AR-15? Is it optics, lobbyists, ignorance, federal agency job security, or something else?

    Why are they gunning for your guns? Probably the same reason that England wished they had gun confiscation back around 1770. The same reason Hitler confiscated guns in Germany. As recently as 1997, England banned firearms and is now known as the "most violent country in Europe." London has a higher crime index rate than New York City, and London has banned people from carrying knives. This is about control so the government can have complete control over your life and give up your freedoms.

    Gun control bills on both sides of the political spectrum have failed in the past. Many times, due to the filibuster rule. If the statistics show that assault weapons are not the problem, that gun ownership saves more lives than not, then it is reasonable to ask why are they using mass shooting events as a tipping point to gun down the filibuster? Without the filibuster, a voting majority by one person could change the Constitution or ram a cockamamie cause down citizens' throats without fear of an uprising?

    The Constitution is framed on checks and balances. The Second Amendment ensures we have a First Amendment, and the First Amendment ensures we have Second Amendment and so forth.

    No matter what Gunner Biden’s intentions are, the first wave of change in the name of gun safety or gun control initiatives can only lead to gun registration and gun confiscation, turning millions of law-abiding citizens into criminals.

    If you, your representatives, and leaders cared about your safety, they would encourage Americans to exercise their God-given right to protect themselves and the Second Amendment.

    It took 58 minutes for the Boulder shooting to happen from start and finish. For some, sadly, that was a lifetime.

    If you find yourself in a life-or-death situation, you will have the rest of your life to figure out if you should have the right to protect yourself with whatever weapon you choose, or if you are willing to bet your life and wait for the police to arrive?

  • 10 AdobeStock 276423886 1024x606Thanks to the fiscally responsible policies of the North Carolina General Assembly, state government has some $5 billion in unspent funds and unanticipated revenues in its General Fund.

    And thanks to the fiscally irresponsible policies of Congress and the Biden administration, North Carolina will receive another $5.2 billion in “COVID-19 recovery” funds that will be borrowed from Chinese investors and other holders of federal treasuries.

    Gov. Roy Cooper and his aides have looked up at that towering, tottering mountain of one-time cash and taken its measure. They think it’s too small.

    So in the 2021-23 budget proposal he just released, the governor is recommending that North Carolina borrow another $4.6 billion for capital spending on schools, colleges, universities, museums, and other government facilities. Some of these projects are clearly worthwhile. Others are pork-barrel giveaways. Still others are somewhere in the middle — nice-to-haves, let’s say, though hardly must-haves.

    I’ll say two positive things about Cooper’s debt scheme. First, it is true that, all other things being equal, it is better to borrow when interest rates are low than when they are high. Second, Cooper proposes that the new debt be issued as general-obligation bonds, meaning that North Carolina taxpayers will get to vote on the package in a bond referendum.

    But even at low interest rates, borrowing is costlier than paying cash. And Cooper proposes to put his massive borrowing spree on the ballot in an off-year, low-turnout election. A better approach would be to be put state government’s current surpluses to effective use, including a concerted effort to pay down the state’s already burdensome debt load.

    While the state currently has $4.1 billion of General Fund debt on its books, that’s not its only fiscal obligation.

    The state has also promised pension and health benefits to current and former public employees. North Carolina’s pension fund is better funded than that of most states, but not yet fully funded. And the unfunded liability for retiree health benefits is staggering: about $28 billion.

    This big hole in North Carolina’s financial position is hardly invisible. Governor Cooper sees it. His budget even included a $150 million deposit into the reserve for health benefits. Given the current surplus, however, this is also pitifully inadequate.

    With more than $10 billion in cash to spend, we don’t need to borrow another $4.6 billion. Instead, the state legislature should convert that one-time surplus into ongoing benefits for North Carolinians.

    First, I recommend that lawmakers put $1 billion into the state’s pension fund, $2 billion into the state’s retiree-health reserve, $500 million into dedicated reserves for disaster relief and the state’s turbulent Medicaid program, and $2 billion into the state’s rainy-day reserve.

    In the latter case, that would take the rainy-day fund to $3.1 billion, which comes to about 12% of last year’s General Fund budget. Most economists believe 2021 and 2022 will be banner years for economic recovery. I certainly hope so. But having a healthy cushion of operating expenses in the bank is a sensible precaution, and will keep North Carolina from having to raise taxes or cut programs with a meat cleaver if bad news comes.

    As for the remaining cash, I think the General Assembly should do a combination of capital investment and debt reduction. We absolutely need to upgrade key state assets, from education and health institutions to prisons and courthouses. We can do that while also paying down some of our $4.1 billion in bonded indebtedness, which consumes hundreds of millions of dollars a year that could be devoted to future operating expenses or tax relief.

    Keep in mind that I’m only talking about North Carolina’s one-time cash. The state is projecting robust revenue growth next year, which can fund essential services and pay raises for public employees.

    Politicians make some of their worse decisions during the “best” of times.

    Fiscally speaking, that’s where North Carolina is right now.

    The governor erred in proposing a new borrowing spree. Lawmakers should pursue a wiser course.

  • 03 clutter downsizeAmong the many unanticipated effects of our year of COVID-19 lockdown at home has been the urge to clean out and, for some, to downsize. Folks of my generation have been pondering downsizing for some time, and many, including moi, have actually done it. The rest are still talking about it.

    Award winning novelist Ann Patchett and her hubby made the clean out, downsize their possessions effort, and she wrote about it recently for The New Yorker. She began by tossing out dishtowels with images of dogs, birds, koala bears, and more, but that was just a warm up. Eventually, out went etched crystal champagne flutes, insect repellant from prior decades, brandy snifters, dolls from her childhood, bottles of dried up glue, and silver trays, vases, serving utensils, and a tea set. Ditto multiple colanders, pencils, old campaign buttons, and a bowl and collar belonging to a long-gone dog.

    Boy, do I relate to Patchett’s article!

    Her cathartic experience seems to have spanned quite a bit of the COVID year. Mine, however, lasted only about 2 frantic weeks, courtesy of Uncle Sam’s military moving schedule. Every day was the same. I awoke and began asking myself the same series of questions about thousands of items, not unlike Patchett’s collection of lifetime detritus.

    1. Do I want to keep this, and if not, who wants it?

    2. If no Precious Jewel or friend wants it, what do I do with it?

    3. Is this something a charitable organization could use, and if so, which one and will it pick it up or do I have to get it there?

    4. If that avenue is closed, is the item recyclable or is it fated to take up space in the landfill?

    It was emotionally and physically exhausting to the point that Precious Jewel and a Tennessee friend who had come to help called in a professional organizer to get me through the last few days.

    That said, I do not miss anything. Occasionally, I wonder what happened to some piece of furniture or kitchen implement I once enjoyed using, but I really do not care. I am not sure I achieved what organizing guru Marie Kondo describes as “sparking joy,” but I am considerably less burdened by my belongings and enjoy using what I have and remembering how individual belongings came into my life. The bottom line is that no one — repeat, no one, needs several dozen pairs of black pants in various sizes and styles, not counting the black leggings that have been my daily sartorial choice during COVID.

    Patchett and those downsizing and clearing out during COVID face a circumstance I did not pre-COVID. Charitable organizations that traditionally accept all sorts of donations are struggling. Many are concentrating on human services — food banks, health clinics, child care, educational needs, to the point that other needs and services are on back burners. In addition, charities need cold hard cash more than they need our household goods and memories. Their in-person fundraising events have come to screeching halts, and volunteers who are only too happy to help have been unable to gather. Charities, like most other aspects of life, will ease back to “normal” over time.

    The year of COVID has focused us on the core of our lives — our families, our health, the overall quality of our lives. It has established yet again that belongings, even treasured ones, do not make us happy. Our relationships do. Unburdening ourselves of possessions confirms that.

  • 05 Hypocrasy WarningIt's becoming outright depressing to witness the gross hypocrisy taking place in America and permeating our daily lives. Many of us try to avoid this disorder, but to no avail, falling victim to mass depression, overeating, alcoholism and untimely suicides. It's horrid, devastating, and it's everywhere! Hypocrisy is present at all government levels, our local communities, our educational systems, businesses and even our churches. With no end in sight, it's spreading unbridled at epidemic proportions.

    The sad truth is that here in America, we have only ourselves to blame. Slowly over the decades, we allowed politicians (both Democrat and Republican) to become much too powerful and greedy, allowing subversive and self-serving corruption to prioritize serving their country and the American people with fairness, justice and even humanity. Our entire political system is corrupt and vile. Americans' welfare and safety are no longer a priority or concern of most wealthy and elite elected political operatives. This is evident in law enforcement's weakening and the disregarding our Constitutional rights and the rule of law. Justice is not being served, and it is evident in the neglect we see in addressing many serious issues such as the southern border crisis, the advocacy and defense of criminals over victims' rights, condoning the inhumane treatment of women and children in the hands of known criminals who beat, rape, abuse, and sell them into sexual slavery.

    The Americans who support and encourage this despicable and inhumane behavior are not third-world despots. They are wealthy, fat and arrogant bureaucrats that we elected and are staying in power by changing, manipulating and ignoring the rule of law. These people are the richest amongst us and can ignore the laws that we have to abide by.

    This situation will not have a happy ending for future generations of Americans unless we come to our senses and start calling out those basking in this hypocrisy. I'm talking about regular everyday citizens in our community. The ones that sit on non-profit organizations and advocate for women's rights, protect them from abuse, support right to life or choice agendas, advocate for children, or any of the dozens of social service programs created to serve the poor and underserved.

    These same people actively support the agencies, parties, people responsible for the policies and actions that are causing these atrocious inhumane acts. Acts that are tearing America apart one Constitutional Article at a time.

    Here's my message: In the end, that uneducated child, that sick and infected migrate worker or MS13 gang member or similar undocumented criminal, child molester, rapist, or murderer will suddenly and without notice change your life forever, and not in a good way.

    America is in a deep state of denial. Nothing good is going to come out of our current situation. So, while we collectively romance the criminals, attempt to disarm the innocent, dismantle our laws, embrace and defend policies of inhumanity on the southern border as the Mexican cartel gangsters continue their reign of terror by throwing six-month-old babies in the river and throwing three- and five-year-old little girls over a fourteen-foot border wall then running away. You may be curious as to why they would do such a hideous act when they could have walked those youngsters into American through an unguarded opening just a few hundred yards away.

    Well, here's why: first, it was an intentional act of hostile aggression by the Mexican cartels who wanted to send a pointed message to America. They intended those children to die from the fall so America would have blood on their hands, giving the anti-border wall folks more talking points.

    Second: the cartels were sending us a pointed message that they were in control of the border and had the power and wherewithal to do anything they wanted, including murdering children at will.

    Those of you who are reading this and still have control of your conscience but are having trouble sleeping at night may want to know of an organization that feels your pain and anxiety. This organization professes that if you think you cannot support the kind of policies and hypocrisy taking place in America, they encourage you to WALK AWAY from it. Walk away from the people, policies and politics that conflict with your American values. There is peace of mind when you surround yourself with people who value others' rights, the Constitution, and American values. Color, creed or ethnicity doesn't matter. Everyone is welcome except the hypocrites. Check it out at www.walkawaycampaign.com.

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 13 01 IMG 3740While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the entire athletic world to a halt, it’s done nothing to slow the recruiting of one of Cumberland County’s hottest football prospects, Gray’s Creek High School running back Jerry Garcia Jr. 

    Garcia made a huge splash for the Bears during his junior season, rushing for 2,085 yards, an average of 10.2 per carry, and 23 touchdowns.

    He also pulled in 10 pass receptions for another 279 yards and four scores as he earned first team All-Patriot Athletic Conference honors as running back.

    This is normally the time of year when college football coaches would be showing up at high school campuses, hitting the recruiting trail as 13 02 Jerrygarciajrspring football games across the country wrap up.

    But because of the pandemic and quarantine rules set in place across the country, the recruiting process has been reduced to a new normal of virtual recruiting, with coaches having to rely on video they’ve been sent, while they keep in contact with potential recruits via telephone and text message.

    Gray’s Creek head football coach David Lovette said Garcia ranks among the three most-recruited football players in the history of the Bear program. As far as number of direct contacts from coaches and actual scholarship offers, Lovette added Garcia is in a class by himself at the school.

    Late last year, Lovette sent film of Garcia to some 40 coaches. A few made stops at Gray’s Creek before the pandemic set in.

    There was some buzz out about Garcia because of his performance in camps. He was timed at 4.5 seconds electronically in the 40-yard dash at a Nike camp. Before the Bears had to shut down weightlifting, Garcia maxed out with a 275-pound bench press.

    There are some things about Garcia that can’t be measured in numbers. One of them is his desire to improve. When he scheduled a recruiting trip to Furman before the pandemic, Garcia had to leave at 6 a.m. for the trip to Greenville, S.C.

    Lovette said Garcia rose at 4 a.m. the morning of the Furman trip, so he’d have time to get in his weightlifting for the day at a private gym in Hope Mills.“He’s a hard worker, a great kid and a likeable kid,’’ Lovette said. “He’s fun to be around and fun to coach.’’

    There’s one other part of Garcia’s resume that has so many schools interested in recruiting him. Unlike some prospects, Garcia has solid numbers in the classroom, where he enjoys studying math and working with numbers. He carries a weighted grade point average of 3.75. He plans to continue working on his grades and hopes to have a 4.0 average when fall arrives.

    His high grades are reflected in the types of schools that have already offered him scholarships. All three of the service academies, along with the Citadel, have made him offers. So have Princeton and Penn, as well as Dartmouth. At last count, some 13 schools have made firm offers to Garcia.

    If there’s one thing about Garcia’s recruiting to date that has disappointed Lovette, it’s the lack of offers from North Carolina schools. He had none until just days after this interview was conducted when Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs near Shelby finally stepped up and made him a scholarship offer.

    “There are some good schools in North Carolina he’d be good enough to play for,’’ Lovette said. 

    But even with only one offer from inside the state so far, Garcia feels he’s been getting plenty of attention in spite of the problems caused by the virus and coaches not being able to make in-person visits.

    “The coaches do build a bond with me,’’ he said. “They call me on the phone a couple of times a week and check on me.’’

    Garcia isn’t letting the free time he has because he's not going to school go to waste. He has weights in his garage, and he has regular workouts with a neighbor who is also on the Gray’s Creek football team. He’s hoping to gain some weight by the time football season starts in the fall.

    While there’s no guarantee that’s going to happen, Garcia said he’s remaining optimistic.“I’m hoping we’ll be able to play,’’ he said.

    He is in no hurry to make a decision where he’ll attend school. He had planned to decide on a school before football season started this fall. The virus is behind the reason for not rushing the process.

    He said the college coaches have talked to him in detail about what their schools have to offer, but Garcia wants to pay an in-person visit to the campuses he’s looking at so he can see for himself what each school is like.

    He wants to major in engineering and said that most of the schools he’s gotten offers from have an engineering program.

    He doesn’t seem committed to playing running back in college, noting that some schools have told him he’ll likely play a slot position for them while others have said they may put him in the offensive backfield and use him in motion where he can get the ball on pitches and run it.

    “They’ve tried to explain to me how they want to use my versatility,’’ Garcia said.

  • 09 IMG 1441The town of Hope Mills got a piece of good news recently when it was announced the pedestrian bridge at Hope Mills Dam passed a first-ever safety inspection with flying colors.

    Don Sisko, head of the Hope Mills Public Works department, said the pedestrian bridge, which is a little more than 10 years old, had never been inspected as far as he knows. Sisko added the bridge is actually not subject to any statutory requirement that it be inspected.

    “We did it as a prudent measure to help ensure resident safety and make sure it is a sound structure,’’ Sisko said.The town hired the engineering firm of Vaughn and Melton out of New Bern to handle the inspection, which was conducted on April 8.

    Sisko said Vaughn and Melton is a firm used by the Department of Transportation toconduct roadway bridge inspections around the state.

    The Hope Mills pedestrian bridge is what’s known as a truss bridge and spans 126 feet, 3.5 inches across the creek bed below the dam.

    Sisko said national bridge inspection criteria includes a variety of things like superstructure, substructure, the deck, the channel, waterway adequacy, approaches and alignments. 

    The bridge is largely used by people who are visiting the Hope Mills Lake Park, Sisko said, and there’s no measure available of the number of people who walk across it during the course of a year. The bridge is meant to be used only by pedestrians, not by anyone on a wheeled vehicle like a bicycle.

    The lifespan of the bridge is largely dictated by the weather and the maintenance that is performed on it, like fixing a broken weld on one of the trusses that help provide the bridge’s support.

    Sisko said the engineering firm put a ladder in the creek bed below the bridge to examine it from underneath. 

    All of the various aspects of the bridge Sisko listed earlier were examined by the inspectors and given a number grade from zero to nine. A nine is usually reserved for a new bridge in excellent condition. 

    Sisko said the Hope Mills bridge got grades of seven and eight across the board.

    Looking ahead, Sisko said the town will schedule inspections of the bridge biannually, meaning the next one will occur in 2022.

    “It will help us keep on top of things,’’ Sisko said.

  •  Justin McClintock

    Gray’s Creek  • Swimming/football • Senior

    McClintock has a 3.95 grade point average. He was first team All-Patriot Conference in football and led Cumberland County Schools in tackles with 188. He also swam a leg on Gray’s Creek’s conference-winning 200 and 400-meter freestyle relay teams.

    Ryan Dukes

    Gray’s Creek • Swimming/soccer/track • Senior

    Dukes has a 4.35 grade point average. He is in the Academy of Information Technology, the National Honor Society and the Academy of Scholars. He does volunteer work for a number of community organizations.

  • 02 UAC042920004 Is it time to reopen America? This week, Publisher Bill Bowman yields his space to our contributing writer, Jim Jones, to discuss just that.

    Did Bernie Sanders win? He ran on a platform for a socialist society. Webster defines socialism as “Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” Although Sanders has dropped from the race, he did influence a majority of our traditional thinking. Then just like that, here comes COVID-19, which brought a socialist society in the name of public safety.

    March 13, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The origin of the order was to have hospitals and medical facilities surge capacity and capabilities and take additional measures needed to contain and combat the virus. We are living in the Dark Ages with the lights on. Since that declaration, the six-foot “safe zone” has been forcefully defended as the cure — at the cost of civil liberties and almost every constitutional right we are supposed to have — by power-hungry politicians. Government leaders and agencies have decided who can go where? Whose business can open? Who can work and who gets government assistance? Who can get health care? Who can get a stimulus check? Whose business is deemed blessed, I mean essential, to be operated with restricted hours and operational processes.

    We are essentially making them government-sponsored monopolies. All of this leaves the rest of the people to juggle work, kids, bills and rents and find food, find money and keep something called our sanity.

     Our society is moving an inch a month while COVID-19 spreads at the speed of a sneeze, a cough or a touch. In the name of “public safety,” we deal with isolation, self-diagnosis, long lines, food and toilet paper shortages and an unemployment crisis. All of these factors increase crime, violence, suicide, drug use and mental health crisis rates. All of these things are enforceable by force. Our leaders have taken advantage of us and this crisis for their agendas. The U.S. Congress loaded extra spending for their pet projects in the COVID-19 CARES Relief Bill while most small businesses did not get any relief. Facebook is pulling down rallies as “safety concerns.” In concert with the government, Apple and Google have agreed to work together to build contract-tracing technology into their phones that will work with both platforms. In May, they will roll out updates to our phones that will send location data to servers and cross-reference your location with someone who has COVID-19. Of course, they said, all of this information will be protected, and you will never get another spam email again. 

    Why are American’s becoming impatient? America was founded by rebels. It is in our DNA. We come from forefathers who left Europe to find a new land to worship and prosper. We are the country that threw down with the king of England over a tax on tea. We howl, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Except COVID-19. We are a nation of crazy people who swim with sharks, pet bears, land on the moon and can land a plane on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the night. We are the home of the brave!

    If you are alive, you are here because it is your time to be alive. In Bill Bryson’s book, “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” he said, “Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result — eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly — in you.” 

    Americans seem to believe that we are immortal. It is true. We are, but for a minimal time. Whether we stay quarantined for another day or years, we have not faced the fact that we will either get this virus or we will not. Not until a vaccine is discovered. Anything short of that is just ideas. We have been scared to death that everyone is going to die or cause everyone to die. This is just silliness. Yes, people have died and that is sad. People die every day. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in America. Not one person has recommended that you cut your heart out to avoid your own heart from attacking you. Not one! 

    As much as we think we own our life, we do not. If a thug can walk up to you and kill you, your body is not yours. Let’s face it; you can die from a mosquito bite. There are 8,000 ways a human can die. We only get one of them. Our life’s Earth-clock started ticking the moment we took our first breath. Whether we think we deserve something or not, that is the way it is. When it happens to someone we love, we only have our beliefs and experiences to hold on too. This virus is getting passed around, and it appears that everyone’s body is affected and reacts differently. Knowingly or unknowingly. 

    With each declaration and law, those orders are backed by force with a person with a gun. Is that socialism or communism? The Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, has told his country that “the police will shoot you dead for defying stay-at-home orders.” Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya police have killed more people enforcing stay-at-home orders than the coronavirus has killed in their country.

    The virus will continue to spread until we build our immunity or die. Our best course of action to bring America back to a thriving and free country is to let individuals be individuals. Let them start to rebuild their businesses, jobs, careers and lives. Let us learn to mourn the dead, care for the sick and move forward with our lives. You have the power to choose to rejoice in life or live in fear. How you live should be your choice. At least I still believe that.

  • 08 02 lipsyncApril is Child Abuse Awareness Month, but one local organization, the Child Advocacy Center, works tirelessly all year long to serve children in the Cumberland County community.

     Headed by longtime Fayetteville resident Roberta Humphries with support from a well-trained and compassionate staff and many capable volunteers, the Child Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization that provides multidisciplinary services for children and families affected by sexual abuse or severe physical abuse across the county. It is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance and adheres to 10 established national standards. 

    08 03 image001The beneficial impact of the work of the Child Advocacy Center is tremendous. In 2019 alone, the Center received 730 reports of suspected sexual and/or physical abuse for children under 18. The Center conducted 416 forensic interviews for children between the ages of 3-17. 

    The organization is on the frontlines, fighting abuse in several key ways. “The CAC brings together, in one location, child protective services investigators, law enforcement, detectives, prosecutors, and medical and mental health professionals to provide a coordinated, comprehensive response to victims and their caregivers,” Roberta Humphries, the executive director of the Child 08 04 N1904P15004HAdvocacy Center, said. 

    “The CAC also provides professional and community education related to child abuse prevention and interviention and is active in raising awareness in the community around the issue of child abuse through various community events.” 

    The Center partners with numerous agencies to accomplish their objectives. “We work with all of the following agencies: Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Fayetteville Police Department, Hope Mills Police Department, Spring Lake Police Department, CID from Fort Bragg, State Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation,  Child Protective Services with CCDSS, District Attorney’s Office, Cumberland County District Court, Medical services at Southern Regional AHEC, Womack Army Medical Center and Cape Fear Valley Hospital, Rape Crisis, Alliance Health, Guardian ad Litem Program, Army Community Services and the Family Advocacy Program,” said Humphries. 

    Another way the Center helps the communinty is through education, providing child abuse prevention education to 2,325 adults.

    Additionally, more than 2,000 children received body safety instruction through storytimes that were held at 60 different locations during November 2019. 

    A whopping 401 families received victim advocacy services. Children and caregivers received 315 mental health therapy appointments. The center also held group counseling for girls that meets every week and for boys every other week. Twenty-six case reviews were held with 242 reviewed by the full multi-disciplinary team. 

    Even during tought times, the Center continues to serve the community. In keeping with the orders from Gov. Cooper, and in efforts to work safely, the Center has  limited the number of people that can be in the Center at any one time maintaining recommended safety and cleaning procedures.

    “Currently our Center is still open, responding to requests from our partners to provide the forensic interview for children with allegations of abuse,” Humphries said. “We also continue to provide victim advocacy and counseling services.”

     Like many organizations, the CAC has taken advantage of available technology to accomodate as many people as possible. “We are offering counseling services via FaceTime or through Zoom meetings,” said Humphries. 

     The Center’s services are always in demand and there are many ways to help. While the numbers of reports of abuse in the community are staggering, the amount of people who have received assistance from the Center speaks volumes about the people who serve through the Center. The Child Advocacy Center has volunteer opportunities available throughout the year. “(In 2019), 1,283 hours of service were contributed by volunteers,” Humphries said. 

    Some of the tasks of volunteers include providing clerical support to the center or making no-sew blankets, which are made from tying two pieces of fleece fabric together, and assembling care packages. 

    Generous donations, whether they are monetary or commodities, are helpful. “We need individually wrapped snacks and juice boxes. Donations of office supplies, gift cards to Chick-fil-A, Biscuitville, Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Harris Teeter, Staples, Lowes, etc. are always beneficial,” said Humphries. Additionally, the CAC needs volunteers to assist with fundraising and special events throughout the year. Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown and the Pinwheel Masquerade Ball & Auction are two of the CAC’s most popular events. The Lip Sync Showdown invites members of the community each year to compete for titles by lip syncing their favorite tunes. There will also be a drawing for a smart TV, an Apple iPad, and a weekend getaway in Fayetteville with hotel and gift cards valued at $500. Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and are available at the CAC. The fundraiser accounts for about 20% of the CAC’s funding each year. The event has been postponed until June 20 and will take place in the Crown Ballroom. The Pinwheel Masquerade Ball, which offers an evening of fun at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, is scheduled for Sept. 26. Visit https://www.childadvocacycenter.com/ for more information about the events

     In particular, the Center currently has a need for cleaning supplies like disinfectant spray, as well as masks for adults and children. Thanks to the Cumberland County Community Foundation, the Center has some emergency funding, but more support is always appreciated to fund the operations of the Center. In the midst of the current pandemic, experts have predicted that added stressors will lead to more abuse. With that being the case, the CAC is continuing their work to help alleviate the potential problems. 

    For more information about the ways that the Child Advocacy Center serves the community, or to support the center, visit https://www.childadvocacycenter.com/ or call 910-486-9700.

  • 10 IMG 7411In his role as emergency management director and fire marshal for Hoke County, Bryan Marley spends his typical work days in front of a computer dealing with planning and coordinating emergency-related matters.

    But as a career firefighter who has worked in close proximity with fellow fireman and other first responders, the member of the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners appreciates the challenges his peers in the field are facing now as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic while serving in frontline roles.

    “You don’t know what’s happening day to day,’’ he said. “Stuff changes. Numbers fluctuate. You get executive orders handed down.’’

    The biggest problem for rescue workers in the field is the nationwide shortage of what’s called PPE, personal protective equipment.

    “Nobody can get their hands on masks, gloves and gowns,’’ Marley said. “You call your suppliers and they don’t have it and don’t know when they will be able to get it. Everybody is sold out of everything. It’s a crazy time.’’

    With protective gear in short supply, Marley said first responders have been forced to reuse what used to be disposable items, learning how to disinfect masks and gloves so they can be worn in multiple situations. 

    In some cases, first responders may resort to unusual alternatives, like punching armholes in large garbage bags and using them as gowns, or wearing coffee filters as breathing masks.

    While this may not be perfect, Marley compared it to the difference between eating a steak sandwich versus a bologna sandwich.

    “When you’re hungry, a bologna sandwich is like a steak sandwich,’’ he said.

    Concerns over COVID-19 have changed the way fire departments are handling emergency calls these days. There was a time when a fire truck routinely accompanied paramedic rescue vehicles on calls. Because of the virus, calls are handled differently now and fire trucks often don’t respond.

    When someone calls 911, Marley said, the dispatcher asks a series of questions. If the caller replies yes to them, they meet the protocol for a COVID-19 response and the fire truck won’t be dispatched on the call. 

    Marley said this is to prevent the amount of people exposed to someone who may be infected with COVID-19. The dispatcher will also warn the paramedics going out on the call that they need to take all necessary precautions for working with someone who may be carrying COVID-19.

    But as big a challenge as dealing with the virus directly is, Marley said that’s only part of he problem for first responders. “You listen to this stuff all day long, then you go home and everything is closed down,’’ Marley said. “You can’t go anywhere or do anything. 

    “Everything you used to do to relieve your stress levels when you get off, you can’t do. You’re cooped up at the house.’’

    There’s also the anguish of loading a COVID-19 patient onto the ambulance and watching them say goodbye to their family, who can’t even go to the hospital to be with them and could be saying goodbye to that person for the last time.

    “Stuff like that weighs on you after awhile,’’ Marley said.

    Marley’s advice to everyone is to follow the orders of Gov. Roy Cooper and stay home as much as possible. “Limit where you go and what you do, and we’ll get through this thing a whole lot quicker,’’ he said.

    “Listen to what the experts say.’’

  • 04 N0902P33007CColumn Gist: The way politics is practiced in America threatens the survival of our nation.

    Without a doubt, the American form of government has proved to be amazingly effective. The measure of that effectiveness shows in what the nation accomplished in a relatively short period. The political component, as designed, is an asset to our form of government. A Google search yields this definition of politics: “…the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” Our problem is that the current practice of politics is an existential threat to this nation.

    It seems that “existential” shows up everywhere now. From grammarist.com, “An existential threat is a threat to something’s survival.” The indicators as to how the practice of politics, not the system as designed, threatens our survival as a nation, are present in abundance. However, how most politicians are responding to the horrendous challenge of COVID-19 lays bare the existential threat posed by America’s current practice of politics.

    In the big picture, governors of many states, members of the House and Senate, mayors and liberal media personalities are railing against the Trump administration for allegedly not providing, in a timely fashion, sufficient ventilators, personal protective gear, virus testing capability and other actions needed by states to combat COVID-19. All of these entities and individuals present their outrage with total conviction that the federal government has a responsibility to provide these items, and other actions, in support of a health threat. Further, they have citizens — voters — convinced that doing all of this is a federal responsibility and, therefore, any failure to deliver can and should be blamed on President Donald J. Trump. None of these people bother to tell the American public that health care is not a federal responsibility under the United States Constitution. 

    I contend that this refusal to tell the people the “real story”— when doing so works against one’s political security and advancement — is the political norm in America. This political practice sets us up for exactly what we are experiencing in America: division, distrust, back-stabbing and far less effectiveness than should be the case. 

    The truth is that, under the Constitution, individual states are responsible for health care in their state. In a federal system, as in the United States, the states and federal government have some powers that are held by one, but not the other. Then there are concurrent powers that are held by both states and the federal government. Article I, Section 8 details the powers of the federal government. There is no mention of health care or any broader category that would include it. The 10th Amendment to the Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Again, health care is the responsibility of states … not the federal government.

    A bit of looking back shows that states being responsible for health care was understood and applied. Following is from a research article titled, “The Role of State and Local Government in Health” by Drew E. Altman and Douglas H. Morgan:

    State and local government involvement in public health began with the great epidemics of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The first of these, the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, struck in 1793, and epidemics of cholera, small pox, and yellow fever were frequent occurrences over the next fifty years. Initially, the government responded to these epidemics by instituting quarantine measures and efforts to improve community sanitation. Generally, these were directed by physicians appointed by the city or state government.

    Note that the yellow fever plague mentioned above occurred after the U.S. Constitution had been ratified on June 21, 1788. The event was addressed by state and local governments. 

    Far more recently, an effort by Michael Bloomberg, while serving as mayor of New York, points to his understanding of local and state responsibility for health care. The following segments from an article by Justin Elliott, Annie Waldman and Joshua Kaplan titled, “How New York City’s Emergency Ventilator Stockpile Ended Up on the Auction Block” summarize what happened:

    In July 2006, with an aggressive and novel strain of the flu circulating in Asia and the Middle East, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a sweeping pandemic preparedness plan.

    Using computer models to calculate how a disease could spread rapidly through the city’s five boroughs, experts concluded New York needed a substantial stockpile of both masks and ventilators. If the city confronted a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 Spanish flu, the experts found, it would face a “projected shortfall of between 2,036 and 9,454 ventilators.”

    The city’s department of health, working with the state, was to begin purchasing ventilators and to “stockpile a supply of facemasks,” according to the report. Shortly after it was released, Bloomberg held a pandemic planning summit with top federal officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, now the face of the national coronavirus response.

    In the end, the alarming predictions failed to spur action. In the months that followed, the city acquired just 500 additional ventilators as the effort to create a larger stockpile fizzled amid budget cuts.

    I contend that this action by Bloomberg makes his understanding clear that health care is a state, and even local, responsibility.

    Given that, by the Constitution, health care is a state responsibility, the reasonable question is, how did the federal government get so involved? An article at www.khanacademy.org titled, “The relationship between the states and the federal government” opens the door to an answer: “As we noted above, the balance of power between states and the federal government has changed a great deal over time. In the early United States, the division between state powers and federal powers was very clear. States regulated within their borders, and the federal government regulated national and international issues. 

    “But since the Civil War in the 1860s, the federal government’s powers have overlapped and intertwined with state powers. In times of crisis, like the Great Depression, the federal government has stepped in to provide much-needed aid in areas typically controlled at the state level.” 

    Point blank, the answer is that the federal government has repeatedly stepped in to help states when it did not have a constitutional responsibility to do so. As is human nature, especially over years and generations, people came to expect much more from the federal government than is required of it by the U.S. Constitution. 

    COVID-19 comes upon us in this condition where the federal government is expected to solve problems for which it is not constitutionally responsible, not adequately funded and not sufficiently manned or organized to routinely address. States are constitutionally expected to be prepared for health emergencies such as this. The quickness with which so many governors and mayors started calling at the Trump administration to provide equipment and materials that states and cities should have been stockpiling, as Michael Bloomberg attempted to do, screams that they were not nearly prepared for this (or an even lesser event). 

    This is where the existential threat of America’s practice of politics shows through. It is in the actions of governors, such as Andrew Cuomo of New York state and mayors like Bill de Blasio of New York City. These leaders, and others at the state and local level, failed to prepare for a COVID-19 challenge. These people of influence do not acknowledge failure nor educate people as to state and local responsibilities and then work in unity with all who might contribute to solving the problems at hand. Instead, they complain vociferously about the federal government in general, but specifically about Trump’s performance in this crisis. There is an unbelievably high level of finger-pointing at Trump. Granted, as of April 20, Cuomo did make some positive comments over the past few days regarding Trump and federal support. However, this was done while insisting the federal government must provide more funding and support to states.

    This is the state of political practice in America. It divides Americans, including politicians, into destructively, even hate-filled, competing groups, the result of which is a country that finds itself unable to, in an orderly manner, respond to a crisis. More importantly, we are losing the ability to carry on the routine functions of government. All of this poses an existential threat to this nation.

  • 03 N2005P70060CEarlier this month, medical professionals seemed to be getting a handle on COVID-19. No cure yet, mind you, but they seemed confident in saying who is most at risk and how the novel virus affects the human body. It was beginning to feel like if we all social distanced, stayed close to home, wore masks when we were out and washed and disinfected frequently, COVID-19 infections would peak and begin a slow decline.

    We were looking at only the tip of the iceberg. We are now learning the hard way what we did not know when COVID-19 first emerged in China and zipped around the world in a matter of weeks. It traveled at a pace unknown in the flu pandemic of 1918 before people routinely traveled between and all over continents. Estimates are that COVID-19 is about five times more lethal than seasonal flu.

    We initially thought COVID-19 appeared at nursing facilities in Washington in late February. Turns out the first death may have been a California woman with no connection to China who died of COVID-19 in early February. Few of us will be surprised if more early victims are identified. We thought the elderly and people with respiratory issues were most at risk. Still, much younger people are dying of it as well, and asthma patients are less affected than initially feared. If more people than originally thought have had and survived the virus — with or without symptoms, could it be more contagious than we imagined and spread more quickly? A reopening of commerce would hasten the spread.

    COVID-19 may have long-lasting effects on some who survive the initial infection. Medical professionals are reporting damage to lungs and other vital organs and finding that while some people emerge on the other side of infection feeling back to normal and with presumed immunity, others have a long recovery to reach their former “normal.” And, perhaps most worrisome of developments so far is what COVID-19 does to the blood of some patients — clotting that can move into the heart and lungs and block blood and extreme bleeding in other patients.

    While we are watching the curve of infections and hoping to bend it in the right direction, we are also watching the course of the disease and working to understand it as quickly as we can.

    Meanwhile, the death toll in the United States and North Carolina continues to mount, affecting families of the well-known and families of ordinary folks just trying to make it through this bizarre and scary time. The pandemic is complicated by the collapse of the U.S. economy and its dire financial toll on individuals and businesses. Intense pressure faces policymakers to let up on some social distancing restrictions and allow certain businesses to reopen — at least partially. Not surprisingly, that pressure is falling along partisan political lines, as does so much in American life these days.

    Blessedly, not all the news is bad.

    Our air and water are cleaner because we are using less fossil fuel and generating less garbage. Wild animals are reportedly rebounding with less human contact in their daily routines. Millions of Americans are learning to cook at home again and are probably healthier for it. Families are spending more time together, and while that is not without tensions, many are getting to know each other in new ways. Millions of American students may be falling behind in academic areas, but so are students in other parts of the world. On the plus side, students and their families are learning flexibility, resilience and creativity, qualities that will help them in ways book learning cannot.

    Very likely, we still see only the tip of the iceberg, but the waters are clearing to give us a fuller picture of what lies ahead.

  • 07 02 BraggMutual3 Sabrina Brooks and Major Gifts Officer Marge Betley from the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation were on hand April 22 at Cape Fear Valley Hospital to greet Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union CEO and President Steve Foley and District 45 State Rep. John Szoka as they delivered 200 lunches to dedicated and hardworking hospital staffers and nurses.

     Bragg Mutual has three locations in Fayetteville and Cumberland County and is a full-service financial institution dedicated to helping local residents better their financial status through education and thrift. According to Foley, Bragg Mutual and its employees wanted to recognize the health service workers and thank them personally for their sacrifices during this COVID-19 crisis. 

    The very next day, Foley and Bragg Mutual Volunteers took another 200 lunches to the VA Medical Center on Ramsey Street, where nurses and hospital staffers are working around the clock taking care of our veteran military service members who have served our country so gallantly.

     07 BMFCULunchThat was 400 meals in two days. Bragg Mutual met the challenge with the assistance of local catering company The Vine/Two Brothers Catering owners by Brad and Kelley McLawhorn. Despite their current hectic schedule fulfilling a massive and demanding daily contract for Fort Bragg, the McLawhorns collaborated with Bragg Mutual to prepare the 400 healthy individual boxed lunches for the hospital and the VA staffers and nurses. Each prepared lunch included a fresh deli turkey sandwich, macaroni salad, potato chips and for dessert, a slice of Two Brothers’ special carrot cake. Also, credit union members from Up & Coming Weekly and Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop also included an extra special gift — a sweet treat packet of candy. This heartwarming gesture was the near-perfect example of the people helping people philosophy that has made Bragg Mutual Credit Union such a valuable asset to the Fayetteville community for over seven decades. 

    Rep. Szoka, chairman of the board of Bragg Mutual, encourages such local community involvement. “Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union has always been focused on helping our community, and we’re glad to show our appreciation to our hardworking health care professionals throughout the area,” said Szoka, an appropriate statement coming from the man who was chosen the 2019 National Volunteer of the Year by the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions. This prestigious award honors credit union volunteers who demonstrate leadership, dedication to Credit Union members, commitment to professionalism, service to Credit Union staff, and uphold the values of the community. Both Szoka and Foley demonstrate those qualities every day and work to bestow them in everyone they come into contact with the Credit Union.

    We salute all our community health care workers serving the hospitals and medical clinics, along with the work, commitment and dedication of businesses like Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union and people like Foley and the staff of the credit union. Our community is made better because of their presence and support. The same can be said for Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation and the McLawhorns of The Vine / Two Brothers Catering company. No doubt, heroes work here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

    Want to give back time, money or words of encouragement?

    Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union: www.braggmutual.orgSteve Foley, CEO: sfoley@braggmutual.org

    The
    Vine/Two Brothers Catering: 910-584-9892

    Brad McLawhorn: twobrotherscatering06@gmail.com

    Kelley
    McLawhorn: twobrotherscatering06@gmail.com

    Cape
    Fear Valley Health Foundation: www.cfvfoundation.org/

    Marge Betley, Major Gifts Officer: mbetley@capefearvalley.com 910-615-1358

    VA Medical Center: 910-488-2120

  • 11 aw creative fI TKWjKYls unsplashLife’s been weird, right?

    I don’t know how else to start this article. What do you say? What is there left to say? I don’t even want to really talk about it any more, if I’m being honest.

    Quarantine has been weird; social distancing has been weird. The world — the literal whole world — being shut down has been weird. I guess since this is being published, I should use a 50-cent word and say its “unprecedented,” but let’s be real.

    This. Has. Been. Weird.

    And heartbreaking. Devastating. Frustrating. Intimidating. Scary.

    There will most likely never be another time in our generation — so we pray — where doing absolutely nothing can help save the world.In a society that is used to things changing in an instant, we’ve gone from moving a hundred miles an hour to moving at a snail’s pace as we’ve waited for COVID-19 to pass us by. Waiting is not our strong suit. 

    We’ve lived seemingly invincibly for so long, thinking nothing will touch us here in America — no wars on our turf, no major catastrophes, no major economic downfall — yet here we are, stuck with the great equalizer — rich or poor, tall or short, young or old, no one is immune. 

    For me, it has been a break. I’ve been very fortunate to have the privilege to work from home, and my husband has been able to continue his job. My son has been at home with me instead of daycare, and my dog now favors me over my husband because I get to take her outside so much more and give her treats. For me, it is a big win.

    For others, this pandemic has hit them hard — so hard, they may not recover for a  long while, which brings me back to my first thought. What do you even say?

     Just one piece of dumb advice, if you haven’t done it already — don’t cut yourself quarantine bangs. Put down the scissors, Judy. It just isn’t worth it. You’ll end up looking like you feel and right now — that is, unreliable. Just wait for your stylist or barber, not that I know from experience. Dear God, help me.

    But on a more serious note, I had a realization in all of this that I don’t want this not to change me. I want to remember and honor the elderly. I want to remember that everyone is going through something, so I mind my words and my impatience. I want to spend more time at home. I want to spend less money on nonessentials. I want to cook more at home. I want to remember that whether I realize it at the time or not, my actions do affect the people around me, even people I don’t know.

    I want to remember that just because someone is famous, it doesn’t make them a hero, and that advertising and Hollywood don’t own me. I want to remember what it's like not to hug my family so I’ll never pull away or take another hug for granted. 

     What is normal anyway? Whatever it is, it's overrated, overexpected and just plain over. I’m done with normal. I want keep some of this weirdness and be changed for the better.

  • 06 history centerFrom the beginning, the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center has been about inclusion and transparency. The wheels were set in motion in 2007 with a planning grant from the N.C. General Assembly. While the ground has not yet been broken for the facility, plans are moving ahead, and it’s to the benefit of many historically underutilized businesses in North Carolina. This category of businesses includes companies owned by women, African Americans, Native Americans and others.

    “The State of North Carolina believes highly in small businesses, which is what drives our economy,” said Tammie Hall, assistant to Machelle Sanders, the Secretary of HUB and the HUB Division Director. “It is important to get them engaged in what we do.”

    According to nccivilwarcenter.org, once complete, the four-acre History Center site will include a 60,000-square-foot main museum built outside the U.S. Arsenal’s archaeological footprint, protecting the remnants of the asset seized by Confederate forces in 1861 and leveled by William T. Sherman’s engineers four years later. The existing 1897 E.A. Poe House and three Civil War-era structures are incorporated into the larger, interpretive plan. This project offers the public a repository, not merely of artifacts, but of information and a context for it.

    Three Civil War-era houses, known as the history village, were moved to the southern end of Arsenal Park in October 2018. Work on the three houses is on schedule for completion later this month. A total of $2.5 million was budgeted to move and renovate the houses and the job has come in under budget.

    In a recent press released, the History Center announced that work on the buildings include: 

    •  The Arsenal House was renovated primarily for K-12 students. It includes a classroom, a distance learning studio and a technical support room, all part of the Digital Education Outreach Center. The Outreach Center will be an online educational resource to teach the history of the period before, during and after the Civil War to public school students across North Carolina.

    •  The Culbreth House was renovated for higher education purposes. It will become the Center for the Study of the Civil War and Reconstruction in North Carolina. A catering kitchen and upstairs offices were added, as was a library, which will house an extensive collection of Civil War and Reconstruction books. It will be used as the offices for the Center’s Foundation.

    •  The Davis House required extensive renovation following damage from the move, including adding structural elements, new floors, walls and updated rewiring and heating and air. Plans are for it to be a support building for the buildings and other developments for that end of Arsenal Park.

    The next project will be an educational outdoor pavilion area, which is scheduled to be completed next year. Also planned for the site is the 60,000-square-foot building, which will replace the Museum of the Cape Fear and house large scale exhibits, an auditorium and the Center’s operations going forward.

    The Center’s use of historically underutilized businesses as contractors is at 82.09%. “It is a huge accomplishment to receive 80%,” said Hall. “It’s a huge plus for our economy.  … (The) state recognizes it as investing in small businesses, which are the ones who grow our communities, and which grow our school systems. Small business is what grows our North Carolina economy.” 

    “ … Our goal with the Center is to be inclusive with all North Carolinians, not only with our present and future programming, but with our operations and construction, as well.” said John M. “Mac” Healy, chair of the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center Board of Directors.

    Find out more about the History Center at http://nccivilwarcenter.org/, or call 910-491-0602 to learn more.

  • 12 blue marlinWhat is the big news in North Carolina?

    For some, it is not the bad news that the coronavirus has shut us up in our homes for weeks and weeks and undercut the economic lives of so many.

    It is, instead, the good news that, starting April 21 with the release of Lee Smith’s latest book, “Blue Marlin,” there will be something to ease the discomfort of our confinement.

    “Blue Marlin” is short, about 120 pages, each filled with Smith’s warm and sympathetic storytelling gifts and characters who reach out and remind us of people we knew growing up.

    Smith confesses in an afterword that for all the stories she has ever written, “this one is dearest to me, capturing the essence of my own childhood — the kind of unruly, spoiled only child I was; the sweetness of my troubled parents, and the magic essence of Key West, ever since January 1959, when these events actually occurred.”

    Smith then explains that not all the events in her book happened. The book, she says, is “autobiographical fiction, with the emphasis on fiction.” She explains, “I can tell the truth better in fiction than nonfiction.”

    In the book, the “Lee Smith-like” character, Jenny, age 13, discovers her small-town lawyer dad — think Atticus Finch — is having an affair. Soon everybody in town knows. Her dad moves out of their home. Her depressed mom seeks treatment at a hospital in Asheville. Jenny is sent to stay with her mom’s cousin Glenda in South Carolina. Jenny fights this placement. Glenda is tough and deeply and out-front religious. Soon Jenny feels at home, adjusting and then thriving under Glenda’s no-nonsense orderliness.

    Meanwhile, her parents decide to try to put their marriage back together on a trip to Key West. When they pick up Jenny at Glenda’s, Jenny brings a white New Testament that Glenda gave her, a necklace with a cross that Jenny stole from Glenda’s daughter and a growing interest in Jesus and boys.

    Riding to Key West in the back seat of her dad’s new Cadillac, Jenny begins a list of good deeds she will do on each day of their monthly trip “which ought to be enough,” she thought, “to bring even Mama and Daddy back together.”

    But the question is, will the time in Key West do the job?

    Things get off to a good start. Their hotel, the Blue Marlin, is a positive, not just because of its swimming pool and water slide. The motel is full of a movie crew, including actor Tony Curtis. 

    “Mama and I were crazy about Tony Curtis,” says Jenny. Both were big movie fans and read the fan magazines together. About Curtis, they “squealed together.” Then they learn Cary Grant is part of the movie’s cast, and things are off to a good start.

    Jenny settles into Key West. She walks the streets, visits the old Catholic church, reads the texts in the graveyard, gets to know a group of strippers, and does her good deeds every day. Still she asks whether they were working. “My parents were endlessly cordial to each other now, but so far they had never slept in the same bed. I knew this for a fact. I checked their room every morning.”

    To find out whether Tony Curtis’s help and Jenny’s good deeds can bring about real marital reconciliation, you will have to read the book.

    But, here is a clue from Smith’s afterword. After the real trip to Key West to help her real parents’ troubled marriage, Smith writes that the Key West cure worked. “Mama and Daddy would go home refreshed, and stay married for the rest oftheir lives.”

  • 05 01 Revenue downturnThe COVID-19 economic shutdown is taking a toll on government finances as a dramatic downturn in sales tax revenues is expected to disrupt the financial health of local government. The city of Fayetteville has asked the Public Works Commission to contribute millions more than it usually does in the fiscal year ahead to offset an expected reduction in revenues. PWC annually transfers $12 million to the city in lieu of taxes.

     Fayetteville Budget Director Tracey Broyles told City Council she anticipates a significant loss of sales tax proceeds and other revenues in FY21. She predicts the city could lose about $7.7 million. City Councilman Johnny Dawkins, who represents the city on the North Carolina League of Municipalities, said actual losses could be a lot more. PWC’s charter allows the utility to provide additional funding to the city in emergency situations. “We have a once in a lifetime issue here,” said city manager Doug Hewett. Councilmember Chris Davis made the motion to ask PWC for as much as $11 million — the first $8 million covering budget shortfalls, with the additional money being set aside for unforeseen COVID-19 issues. The motion passed unanimously. 

    05 02 Paratroopers at Pope FieldPope Army Airfield infrastructure neglected

    A recent audit found Fort Bragg’s Pope Airfield to be among the Army’s worst maintained facilities. Pope Airfield is a staging area and launch site for the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force. Paratroopers can deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours of notification. Lawmakers are worried Fort Bragg’s lift capabilities are being underfunded, The Army Times first reported. The airfield is now part of Fort Bragg. The Army took it over from the Air Force in 2011. “These infrastructures serve as primary training airfields for USASOC — United States Army Special Operations Command, JSOC — Joint Special Operations Command and others, including the immediate response force,” said Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said funding has already been planned for the airfield, and more is on the way. “We have an approved project of $25 million for airfield lighting repair, and in the 2021 budget we plan to spend $65 million to repair the runway and taxiways,” the secretary and chief said in a joint statement.

    05 03 PWC LinemanLocal electricity rates decline 

    Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission has approved a reduction in electricity rates for residential customers as well as small and medium business customers, effective May 1. The off-peak rate was reduced from 9.1 cents to 8.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. Off-peak rates apply during 88% of the average week. On-peak rates, which remain the same, occur four hours a day during weekdays. A typical PWC residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of power per month would see a decrease of $5.20. The rate reduction comes after a renegotiation of PWC’s contract with electricity provider Duke Energy, resulting in $33 million in savings. “We will not begin to see the financial savings of the contract changes until January 2021,” said PWC CEO/general manager David Trego. “However, it’s important to note that providing these savings to our customers was of the utmost importance, and the PWC Board wanted customers to receive the savings benefit as soon as possible and set the decrease to begin May 1, 2020.” 




    05 04 Rental ScamRental housing scam
    Fayetteville police are seeing a resurgence of cases involving real estate fraud involving social media and classified rental property ads. The listings are not from established property management companies and are usually listed as for rent by owner. “This fraud scheme may even involve a written “lease” that appears legitimate, but the communications and paperwork will not be done in person,” said police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Glass. The suspect will ask prospective tenants to send the rent money through a cash application, like PayPal or the United States Postal Service, usually before written leases are provided. Glass said scammers will not be available to meet in person. They will ask you to mail, wire or using a cash-sending appl to send money. Listings often include poor grammar, typographical errors and excessive punctuation.

  • 10 onlineclassesEvery day for the past few weeks, we’ve all awakened to a new way of life. We continue to navigate our days with modified lifestyles, including staying at home as much as possible to protect ourselves and others during this COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past weeks, I have found myself often being reminded about the incredible accomplishments that are occurring as a result of everyone moving together in harmony to follow the important health and safety guidelines currently in place. This spirit of comradery and teamwork seems to make things that are heavy feel much lighter and things that are rough feel much smoother. It’s always good to focus on positivity and look for opportunities to help us strike a healthy balance between optimism and the realities we face, and now is a time for us to stay connected to something positive in our lives.

    At Fayetteville Technical Community College — even during this pandemic, our faculty and staff members have not stopped performing their jobs to continue the mission of our college: to serve our community as a learning-centered institution to build a globally competitive workforce supporting economic development. I am very proud of our faculty and staff who share the belief that education changes lives in positive ways and continue to effectively serve our students through distance education to prepare students for their futures.

    FTCC ended the first week of April with two great pieces of news: 1.) The college provided thousands of items of personal protective equipment to Cape Fear Valley Health System and donated gloves to the North Carolina State Veterans Home, and 2.) the college was awarded a $961,200 grant by the Golden LEAF Foundation to renovate and equip an existing space into a dedicated simulation suite for training nursing students. The Golden LEAF grant will help FTCC train more nurses and represents a wonderful opportunity for FTCC to contribute significantly to our community by increasing access to high-quality healthcare — a vital area whose importance has been highlighted during this pandemic. Our healthcare providers are the heroes working the front lines, and we thank them most sincerely and are very proud of them.

    The pandemic is a crisis situation unlike anything we’ve experienced before — certainly not in recent years. It’s important for us all to remain optimistic and follow up with positive actions. It is uplifting to see how this experience is bringing us closer together, not only in our local communities but also across the globe. Even though some of the news stories now may cause anxiety and uncertainty, we have opportunities to balance our mental health and awareness by staying connected to something positive. At the heart of our mission at FTCC lies an important objective, to remain — during good times and difficult times — the smart choice for education. As we continue to navigate life each day with new challenges, we at Fayetteville Technical Community College stand committed to serving you and thank you for this privilege.

  • 06 proffittpicThe coronavirus crisis has unsettled every age group, as we are all worried about our health and that of our families and communities. And if you’re in the millennial generation, generally defined as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, you might also be concerned about your financial future, given the sharp decline in investment prices. How should you respond to what’s been happening?

    Your view of the current situation will depend somewhat on your age. If you’re an older millennial, you had probably been investing for a few years when we went through the financial crisis in 2007-2008. And you then experienced 11 years of a record bull market, so you’ve seen both the extremes and the resilience of the investment world. But if you’re a younger millennial, you might not have really started investing until the past few years, if you’ve started at all, so you’ve only seen a steadily climbing market. Consequently, you may find the current situation particularly discouraging, but this is also a lesson in the reality of investing: Markets go down as well as up.

    But no matter where you are within the millennial age cohort, you might help yourself by taking these steps:

    • Enjoy the benefit of having time on your side. If you’re one of the younger millennials, you’ve got about four decades left until you’re close to retiring. Even if you’re in the older millennial group, you’ve probably got at least 25 years until you stop working. With so many years ahead, you have the opportunity to overcome the periodic drops in investment prices, and your investments have time to grow. And, of course, you’ll be able to add more money into those investments, too.

    • Invest systematically. The value of your investments will always fluctuate. You can’t control these price movements, but you may be able to take advantage of them through what’s known as systematic investing. By putting the same amount of money at regular intervals into the same investments, you’ll buy more shares when the share price is lower — in other words, you’ll be “buying low,” which is one of the first rules of investing — and you’ll buy fewer shares when the price rises. Over time, this strategy can help you reduce the impact of volatility on your portfolio, although it can’t ensure a profit or protect against loss. Plus, systematic investing can give you a sense of discipline, though you’ll need to consider the ability to keep investing when share prices are declining.

    • Focus on the future. You’re never really investing for today — you’re doing it to reach goals in the future, sometimes just a few years away, but usually much further out. That’s why it’s so important not to panic when you view those scary headlines announcing big drops in the financial markets, or even when you see negative results in your investment statements. By creating an investment strategy that’s appropriate for your risk tolerance and time horizon, and by focusing on your long-term goals, you can develop the discipline to avoid making hasty, ill-advised decisions during times of stress.

    As a millennial, you’ve got a long road ahead of you as you navigate the financial markets. But by following the suggestions above, you may find that journey a little less stressful.

  • 13 Mark KahlenbergThe local sports scene took another hit last week as state American Legion baseball officials announced there would be no season for the sport this summer in North Carolina due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    That followed an earlier announcement by the American Legion that regional and national playoffs were also canceled.

    Mark Kahlenberg, who coaches the lone Cumberland County entry, the Hope Mills Boosters, said discussions had been ongoing about the fate of the season in recent weeks, with state Legion officials announcing they would reach a decision on baseball this summer somewhere around April 13.

    While no official American Legion baseball season is planned, there has been talk among coaches of some of the teams coming up a non-Legion baseball alternative that would provide those programs around the state that wanted to participate a chance to have something.

    Kahlenberg said he’d seen a list of some 10 to 12 teams interested in the alternative season. He also said some teams from the northern part of South Carolina had expressed interest in joining the North Carolina teams if South Carolina should decide to cancel its American Legion baseball season.

    But Kahlenberg had multiple reservations about the possibility of a non-Legion baseball league. To begin with, he’s not certain the backer of the Hope Mills Boosters, the Massey Hill Lions Club, would be willing to fund something not affiliated with American Legion baseball.

    Further, there would be more expense involved than just paying for officials and travel. Any Legion teams that played in the alternative league would not be allowed to use their official American Legion baseball uniforms or even the official baseballs stamped with the American Legion logo.

    Another big concern would be providing for insurance for the players. Kahlenberg said he’s almost certain any policy the teams could purchase would be unlikely to include coverage for the COVID-19 virus. “If something did come up with the virus, I don’t think I would want that on my plate,’’ Kahlenberg said.

    Finally, he expects there will be a problem for many teams finding a place to play. The Boosters traditionally play their home games at South View High School. As part of the Cumberland County Schools, South View’s facilities are closed because of the virus, and Kahlenberg doesn’t think they will be opened just for a team that’s not affiliated with American Legion baseball.

    The Boosters were also scheduled to play two games at Campbell University, which is also currently shut down.

    Kahlenberg is about a month away from the time he would normally have been organizing this year’s team for its first game. According to longtime American Legion baseball coach Doug Watts, who retired in 2018 after 51 years with the program, this will be the first time since 1965 that Cumberland County hasn’t fielded an American Legion baseball team.

    Kahlenberg had planned an ambitious 25-game schedule, about five or six more regular season games than Hope Mills normally plays.

    A change in the enrollment numbers meant Hope Mills might have been able to add another school to its base this season.

    The thing he will miss most, Kahlenberg said, is the camaraderie with the players.

    “You have your late nights on the road,’’ he said. “That’s a lot of stories we still talk about. That’s the fun part of it.’’

  • 05 StayhomeDuring these unprecedented times, I want to reassure all Cumberland County residents that North Carolina is managing a statewide response to COVID-19 that protects the health of our citizens while balancing the well-being of our economy. Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen have done a tremendous job acting early and aggressively to “flatten the curve” in North Carolina. Gov. Cooper’s administration is actively working through the next steps of preparing North Carolinians and our business community to emerge from this pandemic stronger in this “new normal.”

    While I proudly represent you in the North Carolina Senate, I am also a father and small business owner. I’ve seen the damage inflicted by this pandemic on multiple fronts. I’ve heard from many of you directly, and I appreciate your thoughts, opinions and concerns. Along with my constituent services staff, I have helped people register for unemployment and spent time talking to small businesses across our community and state. I remain committed to ensuring that the voices of all residents and small businesses in Cumberland County are represented, working with Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to draft specific COVID-19 legislation for our legislative session on April 28, and staying in constant contact with our local elected officials to make sure we are supporting them at the state level. Please know that I am listening and acting to create solutions. I want to assure you that we will get through this together.

    During this crisis, I am reminded of the resiliency that our community displays time and time again. Community members and organizations are rallying to support our children in need, our small businesses and our at-risk demographics.

    One thing is clear — social distancing works. Because of the stay-at-home and social distancing orders in place, our efforts to flatten the curve and save lives are working. But we know we cannot stay home forever. As the state considers how and when to ease restrictions, there are three important pieces to consider, including testing, tracing and trends. We need a major increase in testing capabilities to isolate and track new cases of COVID-19. This means having the supplies and lab capacity to do more diagnostic testing as well as reliable antibody testing that can tell us who may have experienced mild or asymptomatic illness and has now recovered. We have to boost our public health workforce to trace and track new cases of COVID-19. Contact tracing can be effective at containing new outbreaks, but it requires a lot of people and legwork. When a new positive case pops up, the tracing efforts will work to identify people who have been in contact so they can get tested and take the right precautions. In order to ease restrictions, we have to see COVID-19 trends moving in the right direction. This includes trends in the number of new positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as available supply of personal protective equipment, hospital capacity and more.

    My wife Jenny and I continue to take precautions such as working remotely, social distancing, washing our hands and wearing masks when we go out to the store or to pick up food from a local restaurant. We are encouraging others to do the same. Please help me make sure we all do our part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Jenny and I keep our community in our prayers and ask you to keep us in yours.

    My staff and I are working overtime to handle any and all constituent concerns. I encourage anyone who needs resources to visit www.SenatorKirkDeViere.com/Coronavirus, contact my office at 919-733-5776 or via email devierela@ncleg.net. Stay safe.

    In this together,
    Senator Kirk deViere
    North Carolina Senate, District 19
     
  • 12 IMG 2087Restaurants aren’t the only food-related enterprises who’ve had to change the way they operate because of COVID-19.

    The ALMS HOUSE ministry in Hope Mills has had to alter how it helps the underprivileged in the area and is in need of extra support during this difficult time.

    Delores Schiebe, executive director of the ALMS HOUSE, said people are still coming in to get food, but new restrictions have been put in place to safeguard both the staff and the clients.

    The only part of the ALMS HOUSE that is completely shut down is the organization’s clothes closet.

    Another major change involves access to the ALMS HOUSE’s popular food pantry.

    Clients can no longer just show up to browse the shelves. The food pantry is only open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., and all those planning to visit must call ahead for an appointment.

    They will need to bring their Social Security card and proof of residence, preferably a current utility bill that includes their physical address.

    The ALMS HOUSE can still only be accessed by people who live in the general area of Hope Mills. Schiebe said that basically covers what she described as a big circle around the town, except for a few odd twists and turns. Generally, it includes the area as far out as Raeford Road and almost all the way to the Robeson County line.

    People who aren’t sure if they live in Hope Mills area can call Schiebe at the same number to make appointments to visit the food pantry, 910-425-0902, to confirm if they meet the residency requirements.

    From noon until 12:30 p.m. and from 5 until 5:30 p.m., the ALMS HOUSE is still serving meals to anyone in need, but they are now strictly takeout.

    Schiebe said the ALMS HOUSE has been helped greatly by local businesses that have donated meals for them to distribute. Among them are Fayetteville Realtors, The Diner by Chef Glenn, Sammio’s on Raeford Road, Superior Bakery, Marci’s Cakes and Bakes, Robin’s on Main and Big T’s.

    Grandson’s Buffet also donated meals until the restaurant had to shut down because of the additional restrictions imposed by the governor’s executive order, but Schiebe said she hopes they will be able to resume in the near future.

    One critical part of the ALMS HOUSE outreach, the Kids Assistance Program, is in danger of having to shut down due to a lack of items. The KAP was designed to provide school-age children with a source of food they could prepare on their own in their homes to make sure they had something to eat over the weekend.

    Even though school is currently closed, Schiebe said school social workers are still coming to the ALMS HOUSE and picking up prepared bags of food to deliver to children in the areas where their schools are located.

    But Schiebe said supplies of the kind of food used in the bags have been wiped out at local grocery stores. She especially mentioned things like ramen noodle soup and Chef Boyardee products in microwaveable containers.

    ALMS HOUSE will accept those donations during regular hours, she said, with no need to make an appointment to drop them off. “We are eager to get it,’’ she said, “especially our need for items for the kids program.’’

  •  04 Ernest worrellFollowing in the path of the two Corinthians, here are some more gossamer threads of hope upon which to cling during these highly interesting times. Folklore says the worst curse the ancient Chinese could throw on someone was to wish they live in interesting times. The ancient Chinese may have been right about that, but Chairman Xi and his round-the-clock cover up of Corona Cooties ranks like Avis in a strong second place for misery. But enough about the Chinese Communists. They know who they are.
     This stain upon world literature is written about 10 days before it appears in Up & Coming Weekly. Much can happen between the writing and the publication. There’s many a slip between cup and lip. The news of the day when this drivel was extruded was Dear Leader’s retweet of a Tweet with the hashtag #FireFauci. Dr. Fauci had just committed the sin of saying publicly that if the administration had started preparing sooner, fewer people would have died. The over/under on when Fauci will be fired is April 30. I’m taking the under. The good news is the usual uninformed sources report that Fauci will be replaced by that noted epidemiologist, Dr. Ernest P. Worrell, Ph.D. Old-timers may recall that Worrell used to sell Pine State Ice Cream many years ago.

     Some people think that because Worrell is deceased that he is not a good replacement to be head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Those people would be wrong. Dear Leader prefers a scientist who cannot contradict his magical thoughts of banishing the Corona Cooties by tweet. As Joe Diffie almost sang, “Prop Dr. Worrell up by the juke box even if he’s dead/ Fix him up with a mannequin, just remember he likes blondes/ He’ll be the life of the briefing room, even when he’s dead and gone."

     A dead Worrell who will keep his mouth shut and not cause Dear Leader trouble is better than a live Fauci who keeps trying to interject science into Fantasy Land. Consider Ernest’s cinematic accomplishments, which have the common theme of him not knowing what he is doing. Worrell starred in such excellent films as “Ernest Scared Stupid,” “Ernest Saves Christmas,” “Ernest Goes to Jail,” “Ernest Goes to School,” “Slam Dunk Ernest” and “Ernest Rides Again.” As the science advisor to Dear Leader, Ernest’s incompetence is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

     To take your mind off being stuck at home, I am once again plagiarizing my Facebook page wherein I post a daily dose of good news. Here are some other happy thoughts for you to ponder as you wait like the Eloi in the movie “The Time Machine” to hear the siren sound the all clear, signifying the Morlocks of Corona have left so you can come blinking out of your homes into the light of a Corona-free world.

      Although barbershops and beauty salons are closed, leaving people looking like Cousin It of the “Addams Family,” it doesn’t matter. Due to excess hair, no one will be recognizable. Let the mighty comb-overs begin. Despite the nationwide lack of Corona testing supplies, Granny of the “Beverly Hillbillies” has whipped up a double still full of Granny’s Spring Tonic, which will cure what ails America. Like Roger Miller sang, one swig of Granny’s Spring Tonic and “Chug a lug, chug a lug/ Makes you want to holler hi-de-ho/ Burns your tummy don’t cha know? Chug a lug, chug a lug.”

    That is exactly what America needs, something that makes you holler, “Hi-de-ho!” Look for Granny in the far corner of your nearest Walmart parking lot.

     Understanding that America has suffered enough, Yoko Ono has vowed not to sing another note until the Corona Cooties have been left behind in the nation’s rearview mirror. Not to be outdone by Yoko, insurance agent Needle Nose Ned Ryerson of “Ground Hog Day” fame has promised not to try to sell any more life insurance policies until Corona is no more. As Ned would say, “Am I right? Am I right?”

    Dear Leader has narrowed his choices for Acting Acting Secretary of the Navy to replace the Bozo who fired Captain Brett Crozier of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt to either Captain Crunch or Captain Kangaroo. Either one would be an improvement over former Acting Secretary Thomas Modly, who walked the plank after he fired Crozier and then told the crew of the Roosevelt that Crozier was either stupid or naïve.

     Finally, and perhaps the brightest light in the gloom of the Corona forest comes the news that the entire medical crew of the MASH 4077th Unit has come out of retirement and reenlisted in the Army to treat Corona patients. That’s right. Hawkeye, Hot Lips, Radar, Col. Potter, Klinger, Trapper John, Frank Burns and Father Mulcahy are coming back to help our real-life medical heroes and heroines save the lives of Americans despite the danger to themselves.

     Heroes still walk among us. Thank you, First Responders. We could not get through this without you.

  • 03 margaret picWho knew that anything could overshadow United States presidential politics?

    Every four years, Americans — and many people from other parts of the world — are gripped by the dramas of which presidential candidate said what, who is supporting whom and who will be tapped for the number two spot. We learn about their families and somehow come to believe we actually know them. It is a process that takes months, sometimes years. Some presidential cycles are marked by stunning twists and turns, and some feel more like coronations.

    COVID-19 has upended and eclipsed all of that.

    The only campaigning is online. Political party conventions, including the one scheduled for Charlotte, will very likely be virtual if they happen at all. The legitimacy of our electoral process is in real question, particularly following the controversial primary in Wisconsin earlier this month. Will our states and territories be able to conduct free and fair elections in November? And if so, how? Can we trust voting machines? Can we trust absentee ballots?

    If there is a single undecided, waiting-for-more-information voter in the United States, I have yet to meet him or her or even to see such a voter on television. We are a nation as divided as at any time in our almost two-and-a-half centuries as a country. This is particularly true in a purple state like North Carolina, where political contests are so partisan and bitter that polls struggle to capture an accurate picture. As of this writing, state polling operations favoring Democrats report Democratic candidates ahead of Republican candidates, and Republican polling operations report similar results for their candidates. None of it means anything more than six months ahead of the election.
    The truth is that we simply will not know until voting takes place in November under whatever circumstances that occur. The intervening months of campaigning will be unlike any Americans have experienced. Here are some thoughts on the presidential contest.

    Love him or loathe him, Republican Donald Trump is a known quantity. What we have seen is exactly what we would get during a second term in office. Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip, confrontational and controversial personal style of governing has great appeal to some Americans; at the same time, it repulses others.

    The presumptive Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, is a veteran of half a century of public life and service in the U.S. Senate, but Americans can only speculate about a Biden presidency. His career as a legislator has been one of working across the aisle and inclusion of various constituencies, including selecting a woman as his prospective running mate. Americans could reasonably expect a moderated and traditional presidency from Biden.

    In elections past, Americans have said, “I support candidate A, but I can live with candidate B if that is who voters choose.” No one is saying that now. The contrasts between Trump and Biden are clear and stark. While most of us already know which candidate we support, decisions still loom. What face do we want to show the rest of the world? And what does that choice say about the people of the United States? Will we actively campaign for our candidate? Will we participate with our time and treasure? Most importantly, will we get off our sofas and actually cast our votes?

    COVID-19 will force Americans to stick close to home for months to come, giving us plenty of time to think through such questions. What we decide will not only chart our nation’s course for at least four years. It will tell us who we are at this point in our national and international life.

  • 02 newspaperThis letter was recently sent by Publisher Bill Bowman to Representative Richard Hudson in support of journalism and local community papers.

    Dear Congressman Hudson,

    Nineteen Democratic senators sent a letter to the Senate leadership and the leadership of the Committee on Appropriations in support of local journalism and regarding the inclusion of funding earmarked to support local journalism and media in general. To my surprise, the letter was signed only by Democratic senators calling for support and with no support from Republicans. Were you aware of this? Your assistance in this matter, Congressman Hudson, would greatly help build momentum for including the preservation of the Fourth Estate in the next round of targeted stimulus funding. For many community newspapers, like myself, it could mean our very survival. Nearly everything in the letter pertains to our 25-year-old community newspaper, Up & Coming Weekly, here in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County. However, I write to you on behalf of the nearly 60 weekly community newspapers in North Carolina and the 1,500+ across America.

    Thank you for the great job you are doing for District 8. Our community could not ask for better representation. Locally, District 45 Rep. John Szoka is serving on the North Carolina House Select Committee on COVID-19 and Economic Support Group. That committee is also working on similar draft legislation that would also assist small North Carolina businesses like mine, and it is needed to help us survive this pandemic. The purpose of this letter is to make you aware of the dire situation that exists here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County as it pertains to local news media. Fayetteville and Cumberland County are critically close to becoming a media and news desert. This is a very serious situation.

    As you probably already know, Fayetteville does not have a local TV station. And now, with Gannett-Gatehouse Media slowly dismantling our only daily newspaper, The Fayetteville Observer, we are treacherously close to creating a District 8 community of 310,000 residents without a local media advocate. This would be devastating to local businesses and would sharply hinder future economic growth and development prospects, not to mention the loss of First Amendment rights and insights into the dealings (or misdealings) of our local government. Cumberland County and Fort Bragg, as a media desert, would be the worst thing that could happen to our community at this time. Or anytime.

    Solutions are not simple, yet they can be mitigated. Like many small weekly community newspapers, Up & Coming Weekly (www.upandcomingweekly.com) is on the ropes, struggling to survive unless we can get financial support and relief very soon. Without financial support, Cumberland County risks losing a 25-year-old trusted conduit for local news, information and the need-to-know and do in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a free news publication, we are the key media and information source that reaches all the municipalities in Cumberland County and Fort Bragg, providing truthful, honest and accurate information to all citizens — including the poor and underserved. Local media, specifically newspapers, are in a state of crisis, which is being exacerbated by the COVID-19 situation. For over a decade, companies like Alden Media Group and Gannett-Gatehouse Media have been at the vanguard, destroying local newspapers by closing down offices, selling off assets and laying off reporters and journalists. Now, this public health crisis has made the problem worse. We have lost over 50% of our advertising revenue, as we depended on local restaurants, entertainment venues, nonprofit fundraising events and dozens of other nonessential businesses that have closed as the nation attempts to “flatten the curve.”

    Currently, I have retained all my employees by reducing expenses and cutting everyone’s salary by 20%. I have applied for the PPP funding, but I’m afraid that won’t be enough to survive. This weekend, I received the update from PNC Bank on the status of our PPP loan. I am incredibly disappointed, but not surprised, at the news that the PPP program was out of money — especially since we were one of the very first applications processed by PNC. I did not waste a moment in doing what was necessary to keep my newspaper open and our employees on the job. I want you to know, Congressman, how initially skeptical I was of the process when I found out that even before our local Fayetteville financial institutions (PNC Bank, Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union and First Bank) were set up and in possession of the resources they needed to process loan applications, Fox News reported that Bank of America had already processed $3.5 billion in loans. Now, while thousands of struggling small businesses receive their “Sorry, out of PPP money” letter, companies like Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which recorded $48 million in profits last year, netted $20 million of PPP funds intended to assist small business. And, American Airlines received a whopping $5.8 billion. Two incredible and disgusting displays of governmental program manipulation and abuse.

    The Up & Coming Weekly newspaper plays an essential and indispensable role in this county. The only reason we exist today is that we have been the county’s most reliable, honest, trustworthy and unbiased source of local news, views, cultural arts coverage and other relevant information. We have been that relentless local government watchdog and business development advocate, as well as the city and county’s biggest cheerleader and quality-of-life advocate. Our newspaper plays a critical role in covering a wide range of issues that impact Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County. Each week, tens of thousands of local readers depend on us for community news, city and county updates, education news, health and wellness advice and information concerning issues specific to their town or neighborhood.

    Social media outlets are fueling fake news with unverified sources and now multiple consumer scams, making it even more difficult for people to find trustworthy and reliable sources of news and information. People in Cumberland County need to have access to trusted local news and reliable life-saving information. Just as important, people need a positive outlook, enjoyment, fun and entertainment in their lives to ease the tensions brought on by the stress, confinement and uncertainty of this terrible crisis. This is the comfort we bring to the community. This is what community newspapers do, and we don’t want to disappear.

    Again, I am not just speaking on my behalf, but for all the community newspapers throughout North Carolina. When this bill surfaces in congress, I hope you will look upon it favorably to support local media and the preservation of journalism and the Fourth Estate. Such a consideration should be tailored to benefit local community media and local newspapers that have made long-term commitments to providing high-quality local news services. It should not be extended to mega newspaper conglomerates like Alden Media Group or large regional dailies like McClatchy or Gannett-Gatehouse Media. These companies are the primary source of the problem and not part of the solution, and they certainly have little respect for journalism and unbiased reporting.

    In closing, Congressman Hudson, please help community newspapers survive to serve local citizens, protect First Amendment rights and preserve journalism and the Fourth Estate. First and foremost, we must prevent Fayetteville and Cumberland County from becoming a news media desert. That would be disastrous for the future of our community.

    We need your advice and leadership in this matter. Please let me know if you need more information or have any questions.
     
  • Private business owners likely wish their employees could be paid by the government when they’re out of work. Dozens if not hundreds of Cumberland County’s “full-time and part-time employees who receive benefits are being paid,” said Assistant County Manager Sally Shutt. “No county employees have been furloughed.”
    Shutt said the county has an Emergency Closure Leave policy. It prescribes that when an emergency closing of a county workplace occurs, such as the courthouse, schools and libraries, the county provides paid time off for employees. The policy governs the guidelines of closings that result from emergency declarations. Shutt also noted that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires the county to provide its employees with paid sick leave and expanded family medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

    Gas prices approach a modern low

    Gas prices could still drop 15-35¢ per gallon in the weeks ahead. An OPEC deal to cut oil production will not have a near-term impact on prices, according to Gasbuddy.com. The most common gas price across the country stands at $1.79/gal. As of this writing, 14 states had gas prices at 99 cents a gallon. A Fayetteville gas station is in the top 10 in North Carolina, with the lowest prices at the pump. The Circle B station, at 802 Bragg Blvd., was selling regular unleaded gas at $1.21 a gallon, Gasbuddy reported. North Carolina prices would be even lower if not for the fact that our state has one of the highest gas excise taxes in the country.

    Veterans Affairs is in more hot water

    More than a million veterans will receive instructions from Veterans Affairs officials on how to determine if they are eligible for thousands of dollars in medical cost reimbursements as the result of a court decision last fall. Tens of thousands of veterans were turned down for financial relief for bills they received for nondepartmental emergency medical care. That move comes over VA objections concerning an ongoing lawsuit over the issue, which could add billions in new costs to the department’s budget. Last fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruled that the department’s current regulation for veterans who seek nondepartment medical care violates federal law. The court ordered the VA to reexamine more than 72,000 rejected claims and update its rules. The case centers on veterans whose unpaid emergency room expenses were denied under existing policies. The plaintiffs both had part of their bills paid for by other insurance but were left with thousands of dollars in personal costs. VA officials argued in court that they did not need to handle the unpaid balances because the veterans were primarily covered under other insurance plans. The VA is considering appealing the ruling.

    Fort Bragg soldiers are on COVID-19 deployment

    Soldiers with Fort Bragg’s 82nd Sustainment Brigade are ready for deployment to assist communities battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The brigade’s 249th Composite Supply Company received “prepare to deploy” orders three weeks ago, according to Sgt. 1st Class Jaquetta Gooden, a brigade spokeswoman.
    Gooden said the entire company of 162 paratroopers is prepared to join the fight against the virus, if needed. The unit is equipped with general supplies, fuel support, water purification and shower and laundry services. About 270 Fort Bragg soldiers have already deployed in support of operations at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. The 44th Medical Brigade troops are helping local officials move patients in and out of the Javits center’s temporary hospital facility, according to brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Fergus Joseph. The Army said Fort Bragg units are supporting local, state and federal operators under the joint leadership of U.S. Army North and the U.S. Northern Command.

    Railroad grade crossings being repaired

    CSX Corp. has informed the North Carolina Department of Transportation that it will temporarily close several railroad crossings in Cumberland, Robeson, Harnett and Johnston counties for track maintenance. The railroad began work in Robeson County last week. In a few weeks will move northward into Cumberland, Harnett and Johnston counties. A crossing closure typically lasts three to five days. Because of the scope of work and the use of several crews, it’s impossible to say in advance which railroad crossings will be closed. Drivers should use caution on roads near any railroad crossing and be prepared for a temporary closure. Detour signs will be posted.
  • 09 Greg 01When Greg Weber and his wife Marge Betley decided to move to the East Coast from their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they knew precisely the kind of community they were looking for. They sought an energetic, dynamic and hospitable community brimming with opportunity. With more than three decades of nonprofit management and development experience, Weber was eager to use his know-how and talents to make a meaningful impact on the community by advancing local cultural and artistic initiatives.

    After countless weeks of researching major towns and cities, most were not poised for growth. But when Weber saw the position for the president and CEO at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, he was intrigued. And, he liked what he saw — a vibrant community bursting with potential and a perfect opportunity to use his training, education, experience and passion for supporting and developing the arts and the artists. His resume matched his enthusiasm with his qualifications for this newly chosen endeavor. Weber earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater Technology from the University of Missouri in Kansas City and a bachelor’s degree in theatre design and technology from Ball State University in his native Indiana. He also completed a residency in technical theater from the Moscow Art Theater in Russia. Weber has served as managing director to general director and CEO of the Tulsa Opera, Inc. Before that, he worked as the director of production for the San Francisco Opera Association and as technical director for the Houston Grand Opera Association. And, he is already putting these talents to good use.

     Artistic Director of Cape Fear Regional Theatre Mary Kate Burke commented: “Greg Weber has been a welcome addition to the arts scene here in Fayetteville. Greg is passionate about marketing the arts and has increased Fayetteville’s visibility as a tourist destination through his strategic efforts. We look forward to seeing how the economic engine of the arts in Cumberland County thrives under
    his tenure!”
    Weber hit the ground running. After a short transition period with outgoing president, Deborah Mintz, who spent 25 years at the Arts Council, the last 17 years at the helm leading the organization, Weber and his wife received a warm reception from the Fayetteville community. “We loved Fayetteville from the very start.... When we came to visit, what impressed us most was the love and care shown by the front-line folks — the artists I met, the creative talent that manages the theaters and galleries — these folks are dedicated and working hard to make the community better. They put their self-interests on the shelf and push forward for the benefit of the greater good.”

    Fayetteville’s creative community is one that radiates a genuine and refined appreciation for the arts and encourages and supports economic growth endeavors, impresses visitors and guests and enhances the quality of life of the residents of Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County.

    From festivals to gallery openings and craft shows to theater performances, you will likely find Weber in attendance in support of the local artists. Arts development is his passion, and he generously shares his education and experience developing raw artistic talent while leveraging support and goodwill to the benefit of the arts community. Considering the amount of cultural activity in the community, the number of local artists and galleries and the enthusiasm for visual art, Weber was surprised that a city the size of Fayetteville was without a museum of art. The success of the public art program demonstrates Fayetteville and Cumberland County residents’ value and desire visual art in their lives. Weber hopes with the help and guidance from community leaders that there will be a museum of art in Fayetteville’s future.

    It’s been a little over a year since Weber took the helm of the Arts Council, implementing creative initiatives, nurturing existing relationships and creating new ones that can grow and strengthen the awareness of cultural arts. He is a constant cheerleader for the community and puts forth a convincing argument that a healthy arts community is a worthwhile investment that pays big dividends. He is also not shy about telling people that in addition to art, Fayetteville is a community that has something to offer everyone: culture, history, sports, family-friendly entertainment and an overabundance of great restaurants serving international cuisine from all over the globe. 

    “My colleagues from around the world, when they found out I moved here, said ‘Fayette what? Where is this place and why are you going there?’ It piqued their interest in wanting to know more about Fayetteville,” Weber said. He found Fayetteville very easy to talk about, admitting that there is so much more here than people realize. He boasts about the many working studios, galleries, talented artists and the local commitment to arts education at all levels — public/private schools, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville State University and Methodist University. Weber is not shy about his enthusiasm for Fayetteville and continually invites people to come and experience it firsthand.

    Weber’s brand of optimism, enthusiasm and passion for the arts is hard to come by, even on the best of days. Now, throw in a global pandemic, and maintaining that level of spirit and commitment can be a real challenge. But he sees it as just another opportunity to be creative. Weber was forthcoming in his opinion that this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic makes people rethink their position on a lot of things. “My favorite movie is ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ said Weber. “At the end, the little girl thinks everything is going to collapse around her — and she is mumbling to herself as the world is collapsing – ‘I believe … I believe … it’s silly, but I believe.’” Well, that is exactly where he and his commitment to the arts stand in Cumberland County. He believes in innovative ideas, hard work and, most of all, he believes in humanity. And, he believes we will all bounce back from this crisis.

    It is this kind of positive and progressive thinking that inspires an artist’s creativity. One example of this is the Arts Council’