• EarlVaughanDepending on how late you read this on Thursday, I may be under the knife of Dr. Kimberley Barrie of Fayetteville Orthopaedics. 

    She’s an extremely accomplished surgeon and she’ll be performing an operation on my left hand called a ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition or LRTI. You can Google it for specifics.

    The big news for me is I’ll be in a cast for two weeks and rehabbing the repaired hand and thumb for about three months, but I’m hoping it won’t slow down the work I’m doing with Up & Coming Weekly covering high school sports.

    Your prayers are appreciated, and I hope to back at the keyboard knocking out stories again soon.

    The record: 15-4

    I was 9-2 last week for a season count of 15-4, 78.9 percent.

    Cape Fear at New Hanover – Cape Fear has overcome critical injuries early in the season to score a couple of big opening wins. But Friday night they take a long road trip to face a potent New Hanover team that features a versatile offense scoring points in droves. It could be a long ride home for the Colts.

    New Hanover 28, Cape Fear 14.

    Douglas Byrd at Purnell Swett – A difficult start for the Eagles doesn’t look to get any better this week.

    Purnell Swett 30, Douglas Byrd 14.

    Seventy-First at E.E. Smith – Bad time for E.E. Smith to catch the Falcons, coming off a stinging, narrow defeat to Cape Fear last week. I don’t think Xeavier Bullock will be enough for the Golden Bulls tonight.

    Seventy-First 24, E.E. Smith 18.

    Gray’s Creek at Jack Britt – Jack Britt has had a tough time finishing on offense the first two weeks. I think Gray’s Creek can move the ball, and their defense wasn’t as porous as the loss to Pinecrest last week indicated.

    Gray’s Creek 22, Jack Britt 20.

    Richmond Senior at Pine Forest – Talk about bad timing. Pine Forest catches Richmond a week after the Raiders suffered a rare home shellacking to top-ranked Wake Forest.

    Richmond Senior 30, Pine Forest 8.

    South View at Lumberton – The Tigers seem to be building momentum while Lumberton is off to a tough start. Have to like South View on the road.

    South View 27, Lumberton 12.

    Terry Sanford at Cleveland – It’s unusual for a couple of teams not in the same county or conference to have seen each other as often lately as these two. I’m betting that Jayne Airways makes a safe landing in Cleveland this week.

    Terry Sanford 22, Cleveland 14.

    Hoke at Westover – The Wolverines got a huge emotional lift with their win over Lumberton last week. I think it carries over to this week.

    Westover 18, Hoke County 16.

    Other games

    Wake Christian 31, Fayetteville Christian 12

    Trinity Christian 29, Word of God 14


    01Cover8 30What a great way to close out the summer season: The Cumberland County Fair is 10 days of food, fun and entertainment. It starts Sept. 1 and runs through Sept. 10 at the Crown Complex.

    There will be plenty of rides and a variety of music, but the fair is about more than that. This event celebrates the history and legacy of the agricultural communities in Cumberland County. It showcases the diversity of local arts and crafts and promotes a safe setting for fun, healthy family entertainment including music, motor sports and animals. It’s an inviting environment of friendly competition for all ages. The theme this year is Country Days and American Ways.

    “Big Rock Amusements is one of the best carnival companies in the industry today, and we’re excited to continue to partner with them here in Cumberland County,” Cumberland County Fair Manager Hubert Bullard said. “All their rides have the latest LED light packages and are regularly added to with new equipment.”

    Big Rock currently partners with Wilson, Lumberton and Sanford fairs in North Carolina. Midway games, rides, food and exhibits are a given every day from open to close, but there are also special activities and events that run throughout the fair. There will be pony rides, a baby chick display, a beer garden for the adults, helicopter rides, World War II military equipment on display, toddler driving school, home, craft and agricultural exhibits and more throughout the week.

    Friday, Sept. 1 The gates open at 5 p.m., and admission is free all evening — although it does cost to ride the rides. Fun repeat events that have
    multiple times almost every day of the fair include: the petting farm, which is sponsored by Lumbee River EMC; the Close Encounter of the Exotic Kind Show, which is sponsored by Cumulus Radio Group; a bike stunt show; and Bohn’s Family Entertainment, which includes a Magic Comedy Show, FARMily Feud and a Survivor Family Show. There will also be various forms of entertainment on the Up & Coming Weekly Stage every day of the fair. On Friday, attendees can also watch Fair Queen Pageants rehearsals.

    Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2-3 Gates open at 1 p.m. Admission is $7 on Saturday. Sunday is Staycation Student Day. Bring your student ID and get $4 off admission.  Enjoy the Fair Queen Pageants on Saturday in addition to all of the repeat events on both days.

    Monday, Sept. 4 On Labor Day, enjoy the $10 Pay One Price Special from the time the gates open at 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. The Pay One Price Special includes free, unlimited carnival rides once you’ve paid for admission, unlike previous days of the fair.

    Apply the same deal but for $15 after 5 p.m. In addition to the repeat events, the Junior Laying Hen Show will take place in Expo C.

    Tuesday, Sept. 5 Admission is again Pay One Price, with $15 allowing for unlimited rides. Radio station WCCG 104.5 will be at the fair, and don’t miss the Junior Market Lamb Show in addition to the repeat events.

    Wednesday, Sept. 6 Pay One Price for $15 on one of the fair’s busiest days. In addition to the repeat events, FOXY 99 will be at the Crown. Agricultural events include the Little “Ewe” Jump Start Livestock Clinic; Swine, Feeder Calf and Steer Show; and Fayetteville Area Youth Livestock Auction Sale, which is sponsored by Cumberland County Farm Bureau and Cumberland County Livestock Association.

    Thursday, Sept. 7 Don’t miss the Senior Expo, which kicks off at 1 p.m. and grants free admission to those 50 and older until 5 p.m. Don Chase from WKML 95.7 radio will be the master of ceremonies. The schedule of events is: 

    • 1 p.m. Hope Mills Senior Line Dancers

    • 1:30 p.m. Tokay Rockers Senior Line Dancers

    • 1:45 p.m. Tokay Choral Group

    • 2 p.m. Ms. Ortiz’s Line Dancers

    • 2:30 p.m. Eva’s Zumba

    • 3 p.m. 82 nd All-American Airborne Chorus

    For guests under 50, the $15 admission fee includes all rides and repeat events. At 6:30 p.m., don’t miss WUKS Throwback Thursday. The Junior Meat Goat Show is also scheduled for Sept. 7, as well as Ring Wars Carolina Wrestling.

    Friday, Sept. 8 Gates open at 5 p.m. Admission costs $7. Unlimited ride wristbands are available. Military and emergency services, to include law enforcement, firefighters and EMS/rescue personnel get in free if they are in uniform or with ID.

    Friends and family pay regular admission. But if you bring 3 cans of non-perishable food items or pet food, get $2 off admission . The donations will go to Small Paws, Big Heart Food Drive for people and pets. In addition to the repeat events, there will be a Junior Beer Heifer Show.

    Saturday, Sept. 9 WKML sponsors Country Night, adding great music to the fair’s repeat events.

    Sunday, Sept. 10 Attend church services at 10:15 a.m. at the fairgrounds. After that, it’s Faith and Family Day at the fair. Bring a church bulletin (one per person) and get $2 off admission from 1-3 p.m. Don’t miss your last chance to check out the petting farm, bike stunt show, Close Encounters of the Exotic Kind, Bohn’s Family Entertainment and Up & Coming Weekly Entertainment Stage.

    The Crown Complex is located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. Find out more at cumberlandcountyfair.org.


  • 01GreekFestCoverGet ready for a three-day spectacular that offers free admission and a chance to immerse yourself in Greek culture. Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church hosts its 27th Annual Greek Festival at the Hellenic Center, 614 Oakridge Ave., Sept. 8-10.

    This year’s festival is co-chaired by Steve Goodson, Alfred Barefoot and Katherine Faful. All three are longtime members of the church; Faful’s father was a founding member.

    The Food and Community

    The food is, of course, always a big draw for festival-goers. But it’s not just about the delicious assortment of gyros, lamb shank, Greek salads, “spanakopita” (spinach pie) “pastichio” (Greek lasagna), “souvlaki” (skewered meat and vegetables) and more. And no, it’s not just about the desserts — handmade baklava a perennial favorite — either. The food is important because it brings Fayetteville’s Greek community together in an astonishing way, and it’s an avenue for the church to invite others to share in and learn about Greek culture. Kelly Papagikos, who has helped with the festival for the past nine years and is married to the church’s pastor, shared her observations:

    “(About) 90 percent of the restaurants (here in Fayetteville) are Greek-owned,” she said. “They all put aside their own businesses to cook for the festival. They are tireless in the kitchen. All of these guys have their own jobs and (they) come every year, putting everything else they have to do aside.”

    The primary and long-serving leaders of festival kitchen operations are Greg Kalevas, owner of Chris’s Steak & Seafood House; Jimmy Hondras, who works with Kalevas; and Tony Kotsopoulos, head chef at Luigi’s. Kotsopoulos helped start the conversation about bringing the community together for a Greek festival in Fayetteville in 1988. All three men have helped in many capacities since the festival’s inception in 1991.

    Papagikos said the made-from-scratch Greek pastries and desserts are prepared by an army of 15-20 dedicated ladies of the church. The women comprise two philanthropic groups: Philoptochos (Friends of the Poor) and Daughters of Penelope. “The baked goods sell so well; everybody in town loves the freshness,” she said. “They stock up for Christmas with the baklava!”

    This year, the festival also debuts a drive-through to serve people who can’t stay but still want to grab the once-a-year specialty foods. Friday and Saturday afternoons, patrons can purchase gyros, ten-piece packages of pastries and a drink from the drive-through. For people who are able to come and stay, free cooking classes are offered so attendees can make some of the dishes at home.

    Music, Dancing and Shopping

    Paskali, a local band comprised of five musicians who play traditional and contemporary Greek music, has been delighting festival crowds for about 20 years. Papagikos said the group, new to this festival, is very engaging and knows how to make people want to get up and dance.

    And that’s the goal. Greece is home to over 200 cultural dances, each representing a religion, village or island. The church’s Hellenic dance troupes will dance throughout the festival wearing traditional costumes, both in performances and in educational demonstrations with an emcee who will briefly explain the history of the dances.

    Papagikos said the dance troupes range from kindergarten to high school students and that children of all backgrounds love joining in and learning the steps at the festival. “Greek dances are usually danced in a circle holding hands to represent life and eternity, togetherness and love,” she said. “These kids learn how to dance from the time they know how to walk; it’s embedded in them.” Dances will include “kalamatianos” (a popular folkdance), along with many other dances from across Greece’s regions and islands.

    Vendors from all over the city come every year to set up an “agora,” modeled after a Greek marketplace. Browse through Greek jewelry, leather, knickknacks, videos, music, embroideries, rugs, clothing, folk art and icons. Also, pick up Greek cooking ingredients you can’t find at your local grocery store.

    Field Trips, Church Tours and Raffle

    Friday morning, after a church service, the festival will host field trips for students from local schools. There will be a tour of the church and four stations: tasting Greek foods, practicing Greek dances, learning Greek history and browsing Greek vendors’ items. “Usually we have about 100-150 kids,” said co-chair Steve Goodson. “Kids get a hands-on experience of what it’s like to experience another culture — from the faith to the food to how people interact with each other.”

    Children’s activities will run all three days of the festival in the large field in front of the food tent. Historically, activities have included collaborations with the Fayetteville Police Department, the Cumberland County Sheriff, the State Patrol, Cumberland County Libraries and the Fayetteville Fire Department.

    The church will be open for tours throughout the festival for those who want to learn more in-depth about the tie between faith and culture for the church. Tour times are 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, 2-5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and at 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday. If you miss a tour, though, the church will be open all day for anyone to come in and explore.

    Every year, one extremely lucky attendee wins either $2,000 cash or two round-trip airfares to Athens, Greece. Raffle tickets only cost $5 each or 5 for $20. Guests who purchase raffle tickets are also automatically entered into fun hourly drawings. Greek Fest raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20. 


    The Greek word “philoxenia” translates literally to “love of strangers” or “friend to the stranger.” It is used in association with Greek hospitality. Goodson said he associates the word with a love for laughing, eating and dancing, too. “That’s probably the best way to explain it — why so many people come,” he said. “Every year, the circle of friends gets bigger and bigger because of the festival,” Papagikos said.

    The festival runs 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Sept. 8-9 and noon – 6 p.m. on Sept. 10. If you have trouble finding the Hellenic Center at 614 Oakridge Ave., follow the blue signs that will point the way.

    Parking is available in front of the church property and in the educational building parking lot. Street parking is on Woodland Drive and in the surrounding area. Free parking is also available at the St. John’s AME Zion church next door and at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, with bus transportation to the festival Saturday. Find out more at www.stsch.nc.goarch.org/greek-festival.com.

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  • 16 ShoesLooking for the right shoe for your activity can become a confusing search, especially when it comes to running and walking shoes. The racks are beckoning with shoes that display colorful combinations and elaborate structural compositions. The average person has little idea what they are looking for other than the eye is drawn to the appeal of the shoe. Shoes can run upward to more than $200 and you may feel that is an ouch for a shoe selection! Is the investment worth it? The answer is yes. Let’s look at the difference between walking, running and shoes for group fitness classes.

    Walking shoes are structured differently than running shoes and offer more bend and flexibility. The distribution of weight remains even while walking and rolls from the heel to the ball of the foot. A running shoe has a thicker heel for cushion and a thicker wedge for support and forward movement. Structure and stability are the main design composition for the absorption of body weight and heel strikes.

    Not one shoe is a fit all for group fitness classes. In a Spin class it is advised to wear a stiffer soled shoe because softer soled shoes tend to flex over the pedal and could result in injuries. Spin shoes are designed to click into the bike to improve stability and pedaling efficiency.

    Dance based fitness classes are designed for movement. Consider investing in a shoe that is designed for lateral support with little or no tread on the sole. This type of shoe allows lateral movement and to pivot without putting stress on the joints.

    Boot camp and weightlifting classes are safer with a shoe that is structured for stability and weight distribution.

    Other group fitness classes, such as step and kick boxing, require shoes that offer absorption of the balls of the feet for dynamic movement. Classes that involve movement associated with the feet like barre and yoga also have a type of footwear that is safe for the activity. A barre or yoga sock comes with gel bands on the bottom that help with the participants stability and reduce the chance of slipping and injury.

    The bottom line is to get shoes fitted by a professional for your activity, who can offer an analysis that may include your gait and foot type. If you engage in the same activity more than three times a week select a shoe designed specifically for that activity. Get fitted for your shoe towards the end of the day, due to shifts in fluid retention. For activities taking place consistently at the same time each day the consideration of a fit may be more beneficial for that time.

    It is also important to select a quality sock and to wear the sock when tying on selections.

    A quality athletic shoe for running or walking should provide 350 to 500 miles of performance. Being aware of how the shoe is wearing and if it needs to replaced, are important observations to prevent ankle and knee injuries. Observing the wear patterns on the bottom of the shoe, especially at the heel is a good indicator for replacement and if the soles of the shoe are worn flat. It can be a hard decision for a purchase with a mounting price tag, but remember that your feet are an investment. Proper shoe fit is essential to avoid injuries, while allowing maximum performance for your activities.

  • 20 rockn logo jpegIt is that time again, time to grab a chair and a friend and head out for a night of free music. Rock’n On The River is back Aug. 27 at 6 p.m. with two amazing bands.

    The free event will take place at 1122 Person St. in Fayetteville, behind Deep Creek Grill. Parking for the event will begin at 5 p.m.

    Greg Adair, the organizer of the Rock’n On The River concert series, says “The idea was to create another free family event — a smaller scale of the Dogwood Festival. It began in 2018.”

    This upcoming show features Throwback Collaboration Band and North Tower.

    Known locally as TCB, Throwback Collaboration Band plays rhythm and blues favorites, dance and old school. The music crosses the 70s, 80s and 90s, creating a good blend of music that serves up something special for everyone.

    The band is made up of six musicians to include A.D. Thomas, Mark “Duce” Thomas, Michael Counts, Moshe Haire, Richard Bradford and Sybil Pinkney.

    The group has been playing together for more than three years. All musicians are over 50 years old, with the most recent addition, new member Moshe Haire. TCB appeals to a variety of audience, especially older couples in their 30s and up.

    Mark Thomas says of the event, “It is exciting. The venue caters to all walks of life — kids, adults, open air, stake out a good spot — get there early for the free environment.”

    Currently, TCB is playing in venues such as the Dogwood Festival and Dirtbag Ales, the North Carolina State Fair and several local area night spots. Before COVID, they were scheduled to perform at the Segra Stadium for Woodpeckers baseball games.

    “We really hope to see that opportunity come back,” says A.D. Thomas. “Many of the songs we do are from the 70s, 80s and more current stuff. It’s a clean family-oriented show, so we like to see people have fun and see how wonderful it is to come together.”

    North Tower will take the stage at 8:15 p.m. The band has been playing together since 1980. The band consists of Larry Dean, Jeff Hinson, Steve Davis, Tom Bagley, Marty Gilbert, Mark Bost and Ben Shaw.

    The Raleigh-based band strives to deliver a diverse set list to entertain audiences with R&B, oldies, beach, rock ‘n’ roll, mix of adult contemporary, uptown funky and mostly older stuff.

    “North Tower is the most versatile band we utilize at the Raleigh Civic Center,” says Jim Lavery, Marketing Director of the Raleigh Civic Center. “Whether for a convention, private party or our large ‘Alive After Five’ crowds, they always come through for us.”

    Rock’n On The River is a free live concert, sponsored by Healy Wholesale, Bob 96.5 FM radio and Up & Coming Weekly. Beverages and food will be available from Healy Wholesale and Deep Creek Grill. The audience is responsible for bringing chairs or something to sit on. Coolers and outside food are prohibited at this event. Pets are also not allowed onto the concert grounds.

    The parking fee is $5 per person. The event is first come first serve, as the venue can only host 1,200 to 1,400 people.

    “Bringing a well-rounded live concert series to get people out after lockdowns in 2020 and having something people will enjoy listening to is the goal,” says Adair. “Each monthly concert showcases a different genre of music, bringing people together.”

    For more information, head to the Rock’n On The River’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Rockn-On-The-River-271048666818630/

    Pictured below: Throwback Collaboration Band (left) will kick off Rock'n On The River at 6 p.m. on Aug 27. (Photo courtesy www.facebook.com/TCB2019) North Tower takes the stage at 8:15 p.m. to entertain folks with their versatile playlist decades in the making. (Photo courtesy Rock'n On The River).

    13 TCB

    14 North Tower

  • 11 Intersection 1Methodist University has a decade-plus reputation for presenting unique exhibitions at one of Fayetteville’s premier art venues — the David McCune International Art Gallery. So, it’s no surprise that its fall exhibition will be both unique in presentation and experience for the audience.

    Opening at McCune, located in the Bethune Center for Visual Arts on the MU campus, the free exhibition titled Intersection will be open to the campus community and public until Dec. 1. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday each week (except on MU holidays). The gallery follows all campus safety protocols related to COVID-19. For more information visit https://www.methodist.edu/

    “Like all of our shows, this one will feature amazing artists and their works,” said MU Professor of Art Vilas Tonape. “But it will also be very unique in that it will lead the guest to an experience of appreciating not just the similarities of the art being presented, but also the differences. It’s truly an intersection, where people will visit the gallery from all walks of life and enjoy both commonality and differences. All are welcome and will enjoy this exhibit.”

    Intersection will feature the works (which are for sale) of Andréa Keys Connell, Zhimin Guan, Sondra (Soni) Martin and Winter Rusiloski. Each has presented their works both nationally and internationally and hold positions as instructors at institutions of higher learning.

    •Rusiloski: Investigating abstracted landscapes for 20 years; more than 30 juried exhibitions around the world since 2016; paintings in public and private collections; an assistant professor of Painting in the Baylor University Department of Art and Art History.

    •Martin: Extensive commissions, grants and awards; works in private and corporate collections; expertise in studio arts (sculpture, printmaking, painting) and contemporary art theory; a professor of Visual Art at Fayetteville State University.

    •Guan: Featured in more than 200 professional exhibitions, including 20 solo shows; pieces in permanent museum collections in the U.S., China, and Singapore; a professor of Art at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

    •Connell: More than a dozen solo exhibitions; featured in numerous publications; taught workshops on figure sculpting at craft schools; an associate professor of Ceramics in the Department of Fine Arts at Appalachian State University.

    “This unique selection of artists brings paintings and sculptures together in an exciting way that allows the viewer to contemplate multiple dimensions and medium’s ability to play with the intersection between landscape, figure and ground,” said Connell.

    Each of the artists — and certainly Tonape, the curator — have an appreciation for the gallery, which has had numerous successful exhibitions that featured artists such as Warhol, Chagall, Rodin, Picasso, and most recently, Rembrandt. The University, Division of Fine and Performing Arts, and gallery also showcase exhibitions of work from MU students, faculty, staff and local artists.

    “I’m very excited to be a part of such an outstanding exhibition in a stellar international art gallery,” said Rusiloski.

    Tonape knows the quality of the art being presented, and offering that would certainly be successful in itself, but he was purposeful in his efforts to bring artists and work that would resonate with students.

    Intersection showcases many perspectives and diversity of work, which is perfect for a liberal arts university,” he said. “We have classes for painting, abstract painting, ceramics and sculpture, and the students can see how these forms of art can work together and also be very different … they can see the show and at some level, realize they either pertain to their study right now, or they will in the future.”

    All similarly in one place, but all undeniably unique, the fall exhibition at the McCune Gallery at Methodist University is truly an “Intersection.”

    For more information on the exhibition or Methodist University visit https://www.methodist.edu/.

    Pictured: The Intersection exhibition features the work of four artists: Winter Rusiloski, Soni Martin, Zhimin Guan and Andrea Keys Connell. (Photo by Gabrielle Allison)

  • 9 Barton5Cape Fear Studios will host an open reception for its latest exhibit on Aug. 27 from 6-8 p.m. The exhibit highlights the eclectic paintings and sculptures of Barton Hatcher.

    Growing up on his grandfather’s farm in Bladen County, Hatcher began using his artistic and creative talent when he was only six years old. A self-taught artist and mixed media sculptor, Hatcher’s work is infused an elevated sense of style and pays playful attention to unexpected details. Aa an avid gardener and fly fisherman, Barton draws inspiration for his artistic designs from nature itself.

    Fans of Hatcher’s art see a transcendent quality, earning him a state-wide following. He has been able to showcase his talent in several North Carolina galleries. On occasion, clients have commissioned Hatcher to create custom art designs that draw from their individual tastes and desires. His work is in several private art collections from North Carolina to New Jersey.

    Following his life-long admiration for nature and the outdoors, Hatcher owns and operates Gardens by Barton, a landscape design business based in Wilmington. In business, Hatcher uses his artistic talents to create uniquely tailored gardens, including building hardscapes such as arbors, trellises and garden patios.

    Before he started that business, Hatcher worked for Cape Craftsmen of Elizabethtown for more than 30 years where he served as an art buyer and designed and built prototypes for furniture. Through the many years of designing furniture and home décor, his art has evolved into the style today that he refers to as “contemporary abstract.”

    Whether it is furniture, sculpture, gardens or canvas, Hatcher’s passion for creating rich, thoughtful and extraordinary designs saturates everything he touches.

    The Studio’s workshops and retail section will also be open to visitors during the free public reception. The Studio is located at 148 Maxwell St. in Fayetteville. Hours of operations are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    For more information email artgallery@capefearstudios.com, call 910-433-2986 or visit www.capefearstudios.com.

    Pictured: Cape Fear Studios' newest exhibit features art by Barton Hatcher. (Photos courtesy Cape Fear Studios)

    10 Barton1

  • 21 Truman for pageSchool is back in session, and the lazy, hazy days of summer are drawing to an end. The minds of teachers, parents and guardians return to the three Rs and resources to enhance and support these and other essential skills. Kidsville News!, the Cape Fear region’s fun, family publication for students in grades K-6, is here to help.

    Kidsville News! promotes education, reading and good character traits for students and offers a variety of free and fun articles, games, coloring activities, puzzles, kid-friendly recipes, career exploration and more.

    Resources you’ll recognize fill the publication pages, such as the NASA Night Sky Network, James Patterson’s Read Kiddo Read book reviews, Kids First movie reviews, NOAA weather and Sheri Amsel’s Exploring Nature. Find all this, a local community calendar and a letter from Truman the Dragon just for the kids in each monthly issue.

    Created in 1998 by newspaper publisher Bill Bowman as a local and self-sustaining “newspaper in education” program in his community of Fayetteville, North Carolina, the publication has a proven track record.

    Accolades for Kidsville News! include receiving recognition from the Parents’ Choice Foundation and the National Parents’ Choice Award in 2008 and 2012. (www.parents-choice.org/aboutus.cfm)

    Each Kidsville News! issue offers teacher/parent “Brainwork” online activities that extend the learning through printable, downloadable worksheets adaptable for home or school use. Visit www.kdisvillenews.com to view the Cape Fear region’s flagship edition or find a copy in a newsstand near you.

  • 06 Thom Tillis 2Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, spent more time than initially allocated on the campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College Aug 18. He was escorted by Dr. Larry Keen, FTCC President.

    Tillis toured the college’s newest facility -- a general classroom building. But it’s much more than that. The structure on Ft. Bragg Rd. houses cyber warfare computer technology laboratories and classrooms where students learn how to battle via information networks.

    Tillis is spending time visiting areas of his home state during the congressional summer recess. He won re-election to a second six-year term in November, 2020.

    Tillis, 60, a former IBM consultant and state House speaker, has been a consistent proponent of wearing masks during the pandemic, but he tested positive for COVID-19 in early October.

  • 07 Charles Evans 3Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans says he hopes to replace Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC, as North Carolina’s 8th District Congressman.

    Evans currently serves as chairman of the board. In a statement on his congressional campaign website, Evans said that people often complain the two major parties “seem almost indistinguishable.”

    He filed with the Federal Election Commission in the spring and has been fundraising.

    “Under the new administration and what our president is trying to do to assist those of us that aren’t as fortunate as others — that’s been my advocacy for a long time, since I’ve been in the political arena,” he said.

    With the 2020 Census, North Carolina will add a 14th congressional seat to the U.S. House of Representative. The tar heel state’s Republican-majority General Assembly will redraw the map.

    Evans has been elected countywide three times since 2010. He also served two terms on the Fayetteville City Council from 2005 to 2009.

    Pictured: Charles Evans, Chairman of the Cumberland County Commission

  • 05 AA logoThis year’s All American Week, hosted by the 82nd Airborne Division and scheduled for Aug. 30 — Sept. 2, has been postponed due to the deployment to Afghanistan.

    “All American Week has been a proud tradition for our Division, current events and the activation of our Immediate Response Force requires us to reschedule,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, the 82nd Airborne Division commander. “Postponing this event is hard for all of us, but we are working to find a new time to celebrate with our All American veterans, families and friends.”

    For over 30 years, All American Week has been open to the public to celebrate veterans and honor active duty service members, featuring sporting competitions, ceremonies and memorials. After 18 months of lockdown, All American Week was meant to build esprit-de-corps, bring the community together, and celebrate 104 years of service toward the nation. The first All American Week was held by the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. in 1986. In its inaugural year, the week began with a Division Run, sport competitions, a memorial, and a Division Review. In recent years, the Division has updated the Airborne Review an airborne operation, air assault and a demonstration of modern battle techniques.

    The dates for All American Week will be published as soon as they are available.

  • 04 82nd deploysThe 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team is on duty at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    The brigade is the division’s Immediate Response Force, America’s rapid response team. It is able to deploy within 18 hours of notification. “This is what the 82nd does and they do it very well,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

    The 82nd trains for airborne assault operations into enemy areas with a specialization in airfield seizure. The 82nd's Immediate Response Force has seen action in recent years deploying on News Year’s Eve 2019 to Iraq to help secure the U.S. embassy as it came under attack by Iranian-linked Shia militias.

    The Division again deployed troops in the summer of 2020 to the Nation’s Capital Region in response to civil disturbances in Washington, D.C.

    The division’s commander, Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, is leading the paratroopers in Afghanistan.

    Pictured: Paratroopers with 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division board a plane enroute to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy 82nd Airborne Division)

  • 03 pregnant womenRecent research is supporting the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations for pregnant women. Though pregnant women were excluded from the initial clinical trials for the vaccines — as is standard practice for all vaccine trials — almost 140,000 pregnant women have voluntarily joined the CDC’s V-safe COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry since December, 2020.

    Cape Fear Valley Perinatology’s Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist Stuart Shelton, M.D. said this is an issue that has come up a lot lately with his patients. Dr. Shelton is the only maternal fetal medicine specialist, or perinatologist in Cumberland County. He has been practicing in Fayetteville 19 years.

    “So far, the data show no increased risk of miscarriage, birth defects, preterm birth. or stillbirth,” Dr. Shelton said. “Basically, there’s no increased risk of any adverse pregnancy outcomes. Data are still being collected and analyzed.”

    Shelton said he tells all his patients the same thing when they ask about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

    “I think the vaccine is safe, and I tell the patient that her risk of pregnancy complications is much higher if she gets COVID infection than it is with the vaccine,” he said. “And right now, we don’t know of any increased risks associated with the vaccine. If it was one of my family members or friends, I would highly recommend they get the vaccine without any reservation.”

    That’s not just his personal opinion. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine have highly recommended the vaccine for pregnant women and lactating women.

    “And the reason for that is they feel the vaccine is safe, and we know that if a woman gets COVID while pregnant, she has a higher risk of complications,” Stuart said.

    “Pregnant women with COVID-19 have a three-times higher risk of being admitted to the ICU, and about two to three times higher risk of being on a ventilator. Their chances of dying from complications of COVID, compared with a woman who is not pregnant, are about twice as high.”

    Shelton said that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the best choices for women of childbearing age because of some very rare complications that have occurred in reproductive-age women who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

    Those complications were not related to pregnancy. However, the best choice for any person is the vaccine they are willing to take. For some women with severe needle phobias, the one-shot advantage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could make it the right choice for them.

    Though Dr. Shelton typically sees women who are already pregnant, he says rumors that vaccines cause infertility are unfounded based on available evidence. As noted by ACOG, given the mechanism of action and safety profile of mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not a cause of infertility.

  • 02 Cuomo GOV FBAndrew Cuomo has resigned as a three-term Governor of New York after a parade of women alleged improper conduct and sexual harassment. Here is some of what he said in his official statement.

    “I thought a hug and putting my arm around a staff person while taking a picture was friendly, but she found it to be too forward."

    "I kissed a woman on the cheek at a wedding and I thought I was being nice, but she felt that it was too aggressive."

    "I have slipped and called people ‘honey,’ ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling.’ I mean it to be endearing, but women found it dated and offensive."

    "I said on national TV to a doctor wearing PPE and giving me a COVID nasal swab, ‘You make that gown look good.’ I was joking, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have said it on national TV. But she found it disrespectful."

    "I have been too familiar with people. My sense of humor can be insensitive and off-putting. I do hug and kiss people casually, women and men. I have done it all my life …. In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn."

    "There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate, and I should have. No excuses.”

    Cuomo is correct on both counts. Women today are less willing to tolerate behaviors we have tolerated in the past. And, he should have known better.

    I am Exhibit A of “generational and cultural shifts.” I have a photograph of myself with then U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota taken at a political fundraiser in 2016 before Franken’s own fall for bad boy behavior.

    We are standing beside a dining room table, and he has his arm around my shoulder. No groping that all women find offensive, but it is telling that I never even noticed that a man I had met only minutes before had his hand on my bare shoulder until I saw the photo. A younger woman would have been far more conscious of physical contact than I was.

    Among the most bizarre aspects of Cuomo’s behavior is that he publicly positioned himself as a women’s rights and feminist advocate, all the while behaving like what back in the day was called a “male chauvinist pig,” or MCP for short.

    Cuomo, like millions of other men including Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, and countless ordinary men have not read, much less acknowledged, the change memo.

    Cuomo et al., men of a “certain age,” apparently believe they are not subject to the same rules, and laws for that matter, regarding human interactions that apply to the rest of us. Famous men have fallen, flamed out, or otherwise dropped from sight, as have many average Joes, believing themselves special and exempt.

    “Honey, sweetheart, and darling” are one thing, and some men may never get the point on that score, even though women keep trying.

    A lawyer friend whose client asked her to wear a certain dress to a meeting, told him, “sure, as soon as you pick it up from the cleaners.”

    Even the most boorish guys sometimes get it after taking such incoming from women they offend.

    Unwanted touching, groping, harassment, threatening job security are something else altogether, and men have lost families, careers and freedom over them.

    I have to believe men are getting the message, whether they like it or not. Cuomo et al., have become the poster boys of unacceptable, sometimes criminal, behavior.

    Public humiliation, not to mention prison time, generally gets people’s attention, and they are changing behaviors, however slowly.

    Cuomo’s resignation looks like progress to me.

    Pictured above: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Photo courtesy www.facebook.com/GovernorAndrewCuomo/)


  • 01 service pnp cwpbh 03100 03132vFort Bragg is going to be renamed.

    Last year, Congress passed a law that forced the renaming of military bases with ties to the Confederacy like Fort Bragg, named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg.

    Now, a Commission from Washington, D.C. is meeting to develop a report on base renaming for the Secretary of Defense.

    If our community doesn’t engage, it will be this Commission that decides the new name of our base. I think that is wrong.

    In June 2020, when Congress was considering this move, I said any decision regarding renaming the base should be made by the Fort Bragg community. I still believe that is the case.

    This is a very tough issue for many in our community and I appreciate that there is a lot of passion on both sides.

    Now is the time for our community to come together. We need to respect one another and listen to one another. We can let this situation tear us apart, or we can use it to bring us together.

    Whether you agree or disagree, Braxton Bragg’s name will be removed from the base. Despite my belief that we should remove his name, I recognize the name Fort Bragg has meaning that transcends Braxton Bragg.

    When I visit with heads of state anywhere in the world and I tell them I represent Fort Bragg, their eyes light up. The reason is because the world recognizes and respects the men and women of our Airborne and Special Forces who have fought, bled and died to free the oppressed and spread peace and liberty throughout the world. Their sacrifices, as well as those by every family who has been stationed at Fort Bragg, should be honored.

    On Aug. 11, the Renaming Commission held a meeting with several community leaders at Fort Bragg. Before their meeting, I spoke with members of the Commission and I challenged them to do a better job to engage and listen to key voices across our community.

    Several new names for Fort Bragg were suggested at that meeting, but one stands out. One name suggested, in my opinion, erases any stigma associated with Braxton Bragg while also recognizing the heritage associated with our Airborne and Special Forces communities. That name is of an accomplished Union General in the Civil War who was later a Member of Congress and the U.S. Minister to Mexico.

    His name is Edward S. Bragg.

    There is precedent for a community coming together to replace an obscure but controversial name with a more positive choice with the same last name. Seattle is in King County, Washington. King County was originally named for William King, a person later found unacceptable because he was a slave owner. In 1986, the County Council renamed the County to instead honor Martin Luther King Jr. This decision allowed the community to come together and turn the page in a unifying way. I believe it is an example we should consider.

    While Edward S. Bragg is one name that should be considered, I do not suggest that I alone should choose the new name of Fort Bragg any more than a Commission full of people who do not live in our community should. This needs to be a community decision, but we need to act quickly.

    According to the Commission’s timeline, we have until the middle of September before members release their initial report to the Secretary of Defense.

    I believe your voice and the voices of our community need to be heard. The local elected leaders in Cumberland and surrounding counties need to weigh in. We also need to hear from the Chamber of Commerce and our local veteran organizations.

    The Commission will soon have a website allowing people to submit comments directly about renaming. In the meantime, organizations and folks should engage with local elected leaders, community leaders, or contact my office through my website at Hudson.House.Gov and I will be happy to relay your opinions, letters or resolutions to the Commission on your behalf.

    Fort Bragg is going to be renamed whether we like it or not. If our community doesn’t come together with a consensus name, one will be chosen for us. I believe the consensus name that could unite us is Edward S. Bragg.

    Now it’s time for our local elected and community leaders to join this discussion and bring us together. I stand ready to help.

    Pictured above: Many are calling for Fort Bragg to be renamed Fort Bragg in honor of Union General Edward S. Bragg. (Photo courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

  • 12 Tim Hair with Indian OutlawThe Gates Four Summer Concert Series is back this month with the penultimate show of the 2021 season featuring Tim Hair with Indian Outlaw on Aug. 28 at the Pavilion.

    “We are a southern, high-energy band,” said Tim Hair, the front man of the group. “We want to get the crowd involved, we want them singing and dancing along.”

    The seven-member band includes: Tim Hair on lead vocals; Jeff Eisemann on drums; Kevin Freeman on violin, cello and mandolin; Gina Gerard on keyboard, flute and harp; Dale Nelson on acoustic guitar; John Parker on bass guitar; and Ken Pittman on electric guitar.

    The band has been together for about a year, but individual members have decades of experience performing and entertaining audiences.

    “Jeff and I have known each other for about 10 years,” said Hair. “Jeff knew the others.” The band came together with the intent of performing at fairs, festivals and doing theater shows. “We didn’t want to play clubs late at night anymore.”

    Eisemann focused on putting together the best performance band he could, picking talented musicians from across the state. Band members live from Sandford to New Bern but come together for rehearsals and live shows.

    Hair has been performing as a Tim McGraw tribute artist for about 18 years, but “I’ve always been singing,” he said.
    Hair sang in church growing up and performed in concert choir while attending the University of Mount Olive. Later he sang at weddings and then clubs.

    People told him he looked like Tim McGraw many times, so as a joke, he attended a McGraw concert in the late 90s wearing the singer’s typical fashion of jeans, cowboy boots, hat and T-shirt.

    “I was bombarded by people,” Hair said. Some thought McGraw was walking through the crowd, some wanted to get their picture taken with him. At one point a security detail surrounded him.

    Hair decided to enjoy the experience and, being a fan of McGraw, began doing tribute shows, even performing in Las Vegas as part of Matt Lewis’ Vegas ShoWorks Entertainment. He’s also had a few opportunities to perform with McGraw on stage in 2001 in Charlotte and in 2014 in Raleigh. Hair sang back-up vocals during a virtual concert McGraw performed last year during the pandemic.

    Once, Hair took part in a “magic trick” at a McGraw concert. At the beginning of the show, McGraw’s security people walked Hair through the crowd to the stage. “It was an illusion,” Hair said. While the audience focused on Hair, the real Tim McGraw was hidden in the crowd to be revealed as a surprise when McGraw came out of hiding and started singing.

    Although he won’t be hiding anywhere at Gates Four, Hair said that is the kind of fun he and Indian Outlaw like to deliver to audiences.

    “The guys in the group are super excited to be playing [at Gates Four]. It is our first time here as a band,” Hair said. Hair has performed shows in the past at the Crown and at the Cumberland County Fair.

    “We come to have a great time and put on a good show,” he said.

    Indian Outlaw will perform three sets. The first two are a Tim McGraw tribute. “We perform his hits from the early days up through ‘Humble and Kind’ and a couple off his new album,” Hair said.

    “The third set is other fun songs, more southern rock,” he said. That set list includes songs to get the audience singing along such as “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Chicken Fried.”

    Tickets for Stylin Country: Tim Hair with Indian Outlaw are available for purchase online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com. Tickets include dinner and the concert with lawn seating (bring your chair). For VIP tables, group rates or more information, call 910-391-3859.

    Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the meal is served from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The concert is scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m. There will also be a complete line of beverages available at full-service cash bars. Concierge table service will be provided for VIP tables inside the Gates Four Pavilion.

    The Gates Four Summer Concert Series is sponsored by realtor Jay Dowdy of All American Homes, Piedmont Natural Gas, Up & Coming Weekly, Healy Wholesale and Gates Four Golf & Country Club.

    For more information about Tim Hair and Indian Outlaw visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/107438679278378.


  • 15 woman thinking I was born to a mother whose lack of ability to see led her to be raised as blind.

    She went to a school for the blind, read braille, listened to audio books long before they were trendy or commonplace, and was the picture of tenacity and strength in my youth.

    And though she was technically blind, as science and technology advanced, she was eventually able to see well enough to sew for family and friends and became a talented quilter in her latter years.

    Her spirit of pushing through adversity was a norm for me, and honestly could not have prepared me better for the decades that were ahead of me.

    I've been honored to live shoulder to shoulder with a woman as strong or stronger than anyone I've ever known – my wife.

    Born with a club foot deformity, Dorothy's parents knew her strength early on. Though she endured multiple surgeries, was relegated to braces and formative footwear for much of her early life, she chose to be an achiever over a victim of circumstance.

    Her ability to ever walk was in question when she started school, but she never relented in her pursuit of a full life, to the point of even becoming a cheerleader in high school.

    The Bible makes much of strong women. In Proverbs 31:16-17 it says, "She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong."

    That passage offers a clear view of the woman I've walked and worked with for more than 40 years. In all honesty, it can feel simultaneously like both a blessing and a curse to yoke yourself with someone willing to tackle problems head on, and never stop at the point of 'good enough.'

    In the final equation however, it's admirable. The tenacity it took to literally climb the stairs in a leg brace as a child has been applied to one adverse situation after another, virtually turning what might seem like dead ends to some into mere obstacles on the course for Dorothy.

    From incredibly humble beginnings, her unwillingness to stop at any level of mediocrity has led her to rise from retail clerk to multi-store buyer, and from administrative assistant to company owner. All the while raising children and grandchildren and leaving no stone unturned in her quest for the very best she can offer.

    Dorothy DeBruler is currently one of the owners of Grander Vision Media, the company which operates local Christian radio station WCLN-FM.

    Her day-to-day efforts enable the life transforming message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to reach thousands of daily listeners through radio and several digital platforms.



  • 14 headshotShari Fiveash moved to Fayetteville earlier this year to start her new role as the President and CEO of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber.

    “I am new in this role in Fayetteville, but I have done nonprofit management for chambers and associations for a little over 30 years now,” she said.

    After earning a bachelor’s degree in Design at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Fiveash spent her career in roles with multiple chambers, economic development, nonprofits, visitor bureaus, association in management positions and event hotel management.

    “A design degree you wouldn’t have thought would work but has worked very well in my position,” she said. “I have helped design a welcome center in Missouri, I was the lead contractor for a remodel of a chamber in Kentucky, so I have used my degree but just not straight up, and you never know what's going to lead you to what you
    really like.”

    Since moving to North Carolina from Connecticut, Fiveash has been taking on her role as Chamber president with enthusiasm and a respect for local organizations and businesses.

    “Once you get into it, you kind of get a passion for that nonprofit and hospitality and kind of do that service thing,” Fiveash said.

    “It’s kind of addictive, you get attached to it because you enjoy working with people and the opportunity to meet new people and not doing the same thing every day.”

    Originally Fiveash had looked at job opportunities in Georgia and South Carolina which weren’t the exact fit and wasn’t sure of the position in Fayetteville, before she met the people and that’s what sold her on being here, she mentioned.

    “It was just a really nice group of people I spoke with, it was just the right situation,” Fiveash said.

    The Greater Fayetteville Chamber acts as the catalyst in growing a healthy business community through advocacy of business-friendly public policy, fostering of diverse innovative business initiatives, delivering valuable programs and services to the community.

    The Chamber’s origins can be traced back to 1899 and has functioned under various names for 100 years.

    “This Chamber is coming out of COVID just like a lot of businesses, we were down staffed, and we took a hit just like everyone else did so we are picking up the pieces and coming back together and trying to regroup so I am doing a lot of jobs that I might not normally be doing,” she said. “We are trying to grow back and open up and do all kinds of things.”

    Due to those reasons, Fiveash said she’s currently wearing lots of hats that she wouldn’t normally have on and there’s no average day for her as they are still rebuilding.

    Her day involves a lot of answering questions and reaching out to people, a lot of operations and marketing, she said.

    “So everything’s changed a little bit due to COVID and we’re trying to bring everything back up and dust them off and change them up a little bit and make everything bigger and better,” Fiveash mentioned.

    After starting her position, she’s focused on regrouping and has helped celebrate the Army’s birthday, the business networking breakfast, coffee clubs and more.

    “The Chamber's main purpose is to help keep the economy strong in our community,” Fiveash said. “We help businesses grow, thrive, network with educational opportunities, resources and more so that they have the opportunity to prosper and help our community to do so also.”

    Her main job function is working for the directors of the chamber, by taking their vision and applying her experience to help craft it and lead the business community in the right direction, she mentioned.

    The Great Fayetteville Chamber belongs to the state and national chamber, and has a government committee that does lobbying and stays aware of the different things on different levels for businesses and the community. The Chamber also helps the community take up leadership positions in local government.

    “Right now there’s a lot of open positions on different committees in the city, county, and so we have a program called Leadership Fayetteville where we try to educate people and encourage them to not so much be political figures but to give up their time, talent and service to our community,” Fiveash said.

    A part of her vision as the new president and CEO of the chamber is to implement new programs.

    “One of the things I discussed with the government relations group is Washington Fly-In, where you go see many legislators in D.C. which I think have a viable impact and value,” Fiveash said. “Another program I would like to see happen here is where we teach kids to make business plans, a joint effort with the school system and small businesses.”

    She wants to see young entrepreneurs grow and teach them the value of staying in the community.

    “We’ve got some great colleges and teaching kids there is great opportunity here and continue to grow our community with some young entrepreneurs, keep growing our economy that would be very valuable,” she mentioned.

    In her free time, Fiveash says she enjoys the beach, loves a good bargain, estate sales and auctions as well as drawing and painting which she hopes to get back into as time permits. She is also a Rotarian.

    Every one of her past roles have been different from each other, but all focus on service and helping the community stay prosperous and grow, she says.

    “I would say seeing a community grow and blossom is what inspires me,” Fiveash added. “This community is growing and changing, it's just on the cusp, it could be so much more and I think that potential is there, but they just need a little push and a nudge over the edge to make some big leaps.”

    Pictured above: Shari Fiveash is the President and CEO of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber.

  • 10 IMG 4842Linda Carnes-McNaughton has spent her career as an archaeologist and works as such on Fort Bragg. “I discovered anthropology, the study of human cultures, biology and behaviors.

    It seemed like a perfect fit, then I went on ‘a dig’ and knew that was what I wanted to do forever, I wanted to learn about people of the past through discovery.”

    As a military brat, Carnes-McNaughton was immersed in other cultures as a child when the family moved around. In Japan, at the age of 6, she took language classes, traditional dance and crafts and enjoyed the games she played with Japanese children.

    “I think that experience, that exposure, that immersion into another culture at such a young age, planted the seed of anthropology in my head.”

    In her current work, Carnes-McNaughton said archaeologists are able to engage with folks who have direct connections to this land as well as others who want to know more about the people of the past.

    She goes on to say, “One of our current responsibilities is working with federally-recognized Indian Nations who once called the Sandhills their homelands. Building respectful long-term relationships with these heritage families enhances our understanding of this landscape and its vital natural resources.”
    “The term ‘heritage families’ refers to families whose ancestors we know from documentation and oral histories once lived on this landscape. Their ancestors could have been Native Americans, or early colonists or former enslaved Africans who lived here, raised families here and may have died here, and are buried in one of our 26 early historic cemeteries. The work we do in discovering people of the past is greatly enhanced by the families’ histories shared by descendants. Often, we can share what we learn about an old farm or house site with descendants and they will then share their knowledge with us.”

    At this point in her career, she has been on nearly 100 digs, most of those in the southeastern United States, but primarily in North Carolina.

    “Once I was fortunate enough to do a small survey in Northern Ireland on historic pottery manufacturing sites. Over the years, I worked as an archaeologist for university-sponsored field projects, private-consulting agencies, and state- and now, federal-government programs,” she said.

    “The sites ranged in age from prehistoric times to historic cultural periods; sites like 2000-year old soapstone quarry sites, to 19th century tar kilns, or early pottery kiln sites, to battlefield sites, home sites, colonial towns, prehistoric village sites, some cemeteries and even work on pirate shipwrecks.”

    Carnes-McNaughton co-authored the book “Blackbeard’s Sunken Treasure: The 300-year Voyage of Queen Anne’s Revenge,” with Mark U. Wilde-Ramsing. She really enjoyed working on the project. “I specialize in material culture studies (the artifacts – how they are made, what they date to, what they are used for, how they get recycled and who used them).”

    She began as a volunteer on the shipwreck project looking at the pottery and glass recovered on this 1718 site. Then, the work expanded into examining items of personal gear such as items of clothing, smoking pipes, ornamentation like beads and buttons, buckles, etc., as well as navigational equipment, and then cooking or galley artifacts and finally into the realm of maritime medicines such as looking at medical equipment found on the wreck.

    “All this research led to a better understanding of who is represented by the artifacts, leaning more about activities that took place and how the remains of the wreck ended up on the ocean floor,” Carnes-McNaughton said. “My co-author was the former QAR project director, an underwater and we realized that between us we made a great team to document what has been found on this important shipwreck. I enjoy this research as much as I enjoy pottery research.”

    Working outdoors has always appealed to Carnes-McNaughton and excavation has always been her preferred avenue of discovery. She enjoys the fieldwork the most but also enjoys interaction with the people (descendants and others) who have a vested interest in the history of the Sandhills and pre-Fort Bragg landscape. She also likes starting a conversation by sharing a single artifact and talking about what it means to different people. That is oftentimes very intriguing.

    “If I had to pick one single site that was a life-changing experience it was helping to excavate the oldest European-style pottery kiln found in North America, the 1566 kiln at the Spanish fort site of Santa Elena on Parris Island, South Carolina.” said Carnes-McNaughton. “That was sheer delight.”

    Carnes-McNaughton encourages others to explore the field in which she has found a rewarding career.

    “Archaeology is important science in that it helps us look at the past in order to understand the present and future of our place on this planet. Being an archaeologist means looking at the world around us in a different perspective. We learn to be humanists at the same time we practice our science.”

    Pictured above: Linda Carnes-McNaughton is an archaeologist on Fort Bragg. (Photos courtesy Fort Bragg Garrison PAO)

  • 09 Peace Easton 1400x1484Coaches play a pivotal role in the lives of their players and they carry the huge responsibility of having to develop them as individuals and athletes. Peace Shepard Easton is qualified, willing, and more than ready for this responsibility and challenge as the new coach for Fayetteville Tech’s women’s basketball.

    Her extensive background began with her start in playing recreational basketball in her elementary years. During her middle and high school years, she played basketball, ran track and participated in volleyball. Volleyball was one of her top sports and she was also good in track and field with the triple jump, high jump, long jump and 4x400 relay.

    Easton excelled in all three sports and graduated from Swansboro High School in 1993. She attended basketball camps and was recruited by several colleges in the ACC.

    Easton attended N. C. State where she played for Coach Kay Yow. In her senior year, Eaton helped the Wolfpack make it to the NCAA Final Four. She also played professional basketball after college overseas in Italy, Brazil, Honduras, Ecuador, Finland and Greece.

    Her awards include Coach of the Year, Hall of Fame inductee, MVP, numerous state championships, state playoffs and more. Easton was previously the coach of Holly Springs High School for seven years. While there, Easton racked up 100 wins and earned conference coach of the year honors three times and lead the program to four conference chanpionships and five state playoffs.

    With having the substantial experience of more than thirty-something years of coaching and playing basketball FTCC Athletic Director Dr. Shannon Yates gave Easton the opportunity to lead the Trojans.

    “I am looking forward to being their influencer, coach, big sister and mentor,” said Easton.

    “By having been a high school student, a college basketball player, a professional basketball player, and a coach, I don’t have all the answers, but I can at least guide the ladies in the right direction to do the right thing because I have been through it.”

    She added, “I understand the struggles of being a high school basketball player from a small town trying to be noticed.”

    Easton had a life changing experience during her childhood.

    “My father had a stroke when I was in the 8th grade so I was living in a home where my mom took care of my dad,” said Easton. “He is paralyzed on his right side, can’t talk, and nothing has changed besides he has gotten older and has become more dependent on my mom who has been the best wife that any husband could actually have.”

    "People didn’t know that I have always assisted her in the background and a lot of people did not know that I had all of this going on in the spotlight with basketball,” said Easton.

    “They never knew that I was coming home to a mother who was taking care of my father, showed me how to make lemons out of lemonade, and she is my biggest influencer.”

    Coach Easton earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and spends time working in health services.

    “At the moment I have worked for five years with UNC and I have been working with Medicare claims,” said Easton.

    “So basically I assist providers as far as getting their claims paid in regards to if it is going to be covered by Medicare, the patient, or hospice.”

    Easton added that she has been in health care since she graduated from high school and started out at Sigma.

    Coach Easton has great plans for Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Women’s basketball team.

    “I just want to make a difference as far as trying to get kids to the next step and using my background, connections and networks that I have created in the past,” said Easton.

    “I made a lot of relationships and I want to take advantage of that because there are a lot of people that I know who are college coaches in any realm of Division I, II and III.”

    She added, “I want to take those relationships and help make the lives better for my athletes.”

    When asked what is the one thing that people would be surprised to know about her, she responded, “They would be surprised to know that I am very shy and I don’t like public speaking or being in the spotlight, but there is something about when I get on the court and start coaching, it just leaves me,” said Easton. “There is no fear at all and I am in my element at that time, but I like for someone else to do the speaking and I will tell them thanks for doing a great job.”

    As far as beginning her first season at FTCC, Easton was quick to share her thoughts: “I am very proud and excited to be given the opportunity in the college world to coach,” said Easton. “It has always been a dream of mine.”

    Pictured above: Peace Shepard Easton brings decades of experience to her role as head coach of FTCC's women's basketball. (Photos courtesy Fayetteville Technical Community College)


  • 05 hurricane imageHurricanes are dangerous and can cause major inland damage because of high wind, heavy rain, flooding and tornadoes. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground.

    Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year. They are most common in the southeastern states and the central plains. In recent history the month of September has been the most active period for Atlantic storms. Hurricanes Matthew and Florence impacted the greater Fayetteville area causing severe flood damage.

    Households should have emergency plans and provisions in the event of lengthy power outages. Cell phones should be kept charged, and when you know a hurricane is in the forecast purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.

    Plan, prepare and be ready for emergencies with The Public Works Commission’s 2021 Storm Preparation Guide. Request a copy of the guide at PWC’s website www.faypwc.com. Copies of the Guides are also available at Up & Coming Weekly stands in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

  • 07 Fayetteville Highway LitterThe N.C. Department of Transportation needs volunteers to help clean up roadside trash along during the Adopt-A-Highway Fall Litter Sweep from Sept. 11-25.

    Each April and September, NCDOT asks volunteers to help remove litter from street sides. Volunteers from local businesses, schools, nonprofits, churches, municipalities, law enforcement and community groups play an important role in keeping North Carolina’s roads clean. Joining this effort is easier than ever before as volunteers can now sign up by way of a convenient online form.

    “The litter sweep is a great opportunity to get outdoors with family and friends and work alongside NCDOT to ensure North Carolina remains a beautiful place to live and work.”

    Volunteers can request supplies such as trash bags, gloves, and safety vests from local NCDOT county maintenance offices. Anyone who has been recently diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 should refrain from participating. For more information visit www.ncdot.gov/or call 919-707-2970.

  • 04 Field of HonorThe Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation says there is a limited number of Field of Honor flags left for purchase at $45 each.

    Each flag comes with its own story and displays a tag identifying the person who sponsored the flag and the honoree.

    This living display of heroism flies as a patriotic tribute to the strength and unity of Americans and honors all who are currently serving, those who have served, and the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom.

    The Field of Honor will be displayed on the Museum's Parade Field Sept. 11 through Nov. 14.

  • 08 N1211P12003HSome active duty soldiers and veterans are being “grossly” overcharged for VA home loans, and federal regulators need to suspend or ban alleged bad actors and strengthen their oversight over lenders, according to a new report from the office of Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif.

    The report alleges that NewDay USA and The Federal Savings Bank are aggressively refinancing loans with fees and interest rates that could cost borrowers tens of thousands of dollars more over the life of the loans compared to other lenders.

    “It is despicable that corporate executives would prey on veterans and military families to line their pockets,” said Porter in an announcement of the report, titled “AWOL: How watchdogs are failing to protect servicemembers from financial scams.”

    The report “calls out the lenders that are continuing to single out vulnerable military borrowers for overpriced, cash-out refi mortgages.

  • 03 opioid crisisThe Cumberland County Department of Public Health began distributing naloxone Aug. 10 after receiving funding approval from the County Commissioners and Alliance Health. Naloxone, commonly known as NARCAN, is a lifesaving medication that is used to reverse an opioid overdose. It works by blocking the effects of the opioids in the person’s system, reversing the overdose. Naloxone can be given nasally or injected into the muscle.

    The distribution of naloxone is to benefit those who are at risk of a potential opioid overdose. Individuals can pick up a kit if they have friends, family or a loved one who are at risk of an opioid overdose or for people who want to help if they see someone having an opioid overdose. Everyone qualifies to pick up naloxone from the Health Department.

    Naloxone kits are available at the CCDPH Pharmacy located on the first floor at 1235 Ramsey St., Fayetteville and will be available at no charge while supplies last. Pharmacy hours are Monday –Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Friday 8:30 a.m. – noon. The pharmacy is closed for lunch from 12-1 p.m.

    For more information if you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, please seek help by visiting allianceforaction.org or calling Alliance Health at 800-510-9132.

  • 02 KearneyThe city of Fayetteville was going to host a virtual town hall this month on a proposal to update the city’s code of ordinances. But officials changed their minds at the request of city council member D.J. Haire.

    Haire is concerned that proposed changes to Article 30 of Fayetteville’s Unified Development ordinance are not thorough. The planned change would strengthen regulations governing so-called halfway houses. The city’s planning commission, which has initial jurisdiction, was to have held the town hall and was asked to postpone it.

    Of special interest to city council is a plan by DISMAS Charities Inc., of Louisville, Kentucky, to build a 14,339 square foot, 100-bed halfway house for federal prisoners at 901-905 Cain Road. DISMAS Charities is a private company contracted by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to operate residential reentry centers. The BOP has the authority to place inmates in reentry halfway houses to serve the remainder of their sentences which it says is normally six months to a year. If built as proposed, the Cain Road institution would be the company’s largest center. The 36 establishments operated nationwide by DISMAS Charities average 25 inmates.

    The company’s interest in constructing such a large facility could be to compensate for the reduction and/or cancellation of federal halfway houses which began in the summer of 2017. Sixteen federal facilities previously under contract with the BOP were closed. The goal is to provide prisoners with programs to help them successfully transition back into society. Programming can include work, education, vocational training, drug and mental health treatment as well as custodial release preparation.

    The property on Cain Road abuts the Scotty Hills / Shamrock neighborhood. Residents fear an institution for housing federal prisoners would negatively impact surrounding property values and create a safety issue. In February of 2020, by a vote of 5-4, city council denied DISMAS a special use permit which would have allowed the company to build the halfway house. The firm appealed, and on Sept. 3 Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Tally affirmed city council’s decision. It is now before the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

    The proposal under consideration by city government is to abandon the term halfway house and establish ‘community reintegration centers.’ Revised ordinance amendments would limit the number of residents allowed in future centers. If a community reintegration center is located within 500 feet of a single-family residential zoning district the number of residents shall not exceed 30 people. If located within 500 feet of a multi-family residential district, the number of residents shall not exceed 40 people. The distance would be measured from the property line of the community reintegration center to the property line of the nearest residential property.

    Reintegration centers are defined as treatment complexes rather than housing units. Zoning districts where they would be allowed would be reduced, effectively barring them in or near housing areas. On June 15, the planning commission reviewed the proposed ordinance amendments and voted unanimously to recommend their adoption. Once a rescheduled virtual town hall is held, the commission will consider the application, relevant support materials, the staff report and comments given by the public.

    Pictured above: This file photo shows a DISMAS reentry center in Kearney, Nebraska. (Photo courtesy www.dismas.com)


  • 01 1065313206827511 2596566957563000637 nMy earliest memory is of my mother taking my 2-year-old hands and physically showing me how to pick up the pretzels I had just poured out on the floor. The image is as clear in my mind as yesterday’s lunch. My mother guided my hands over the piles of pretzels, scooping up bits and pieces, as I resisted with a toddler’s fury.

    There would be many more lessons for me about taking responsibility for my actions, and many more times when my mother would remind me that my actions have consequences. Some of the lessons would be about something as simple as cleaning up my own messes. Others would be life altering decisions that would affect not only me, but my family as well.

    Through the early years, my mother guided me and shared her own experiences. As I grew older, ventured out on my own and started a family, my mother encouraged and supported my decisions but continued to hold me responsible for my choices. She reminded me often that my son was watching me, that my actions would influence him.

    During my own upbringing it was an accepted truism that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and was willing to sacrifice for. My sister and I were brought up to take care of ourselves, not to rely on a mate to complete us or support us financially. That ingrained independence has certainly brought me some trouble, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Our mother and father never specified what was women’s work or what a man was supposed to do. They lived it. Both my parents cooked and cleaned. Both did laundry. My mom looked after us when dad was at work. My dad looked after us when mom was taking night classes.

    From their examples, my sister and I felt comfortable following our own paths, making choices for ourselves. My sister became a special education teacher. I got a degree in journalism and joined the Army.

    Although a recruiter told me “they don’t let girls in Special Forces” when I was 15, I went on to spend half my Army career serving in Special Operations units in the U.S. and overseas. I’ve been the only woman in the room when serious decisions were being made. I’ve felt the pressure of voicing my concerns when mine was the lone dissenting opinion. I’ve felt the relief of having my voice heard and respected. I’ve felt the pride that comes from a job well done. That pride is the result of hard work and accompanied by a refusal to accept mediocre efforts.

    In the military, mediocre efforts are frowned upon, to say the least. Likewise, on the civilian side, it is hardly news that mediocre efforts rarely meet with real success, the lasting kind that inspires others. Starting with my own mother, I’ve been fortunate in my life to have several examples of women crushing mediocrity and living by example. These women do not accept the status quo, or let someone put them in a “woman’s place” in their education, home or work life. I feel blessed to have been able to help motivate a few young women and men to achieve their own goals by not settling.

    Being the editor of Up & Coming Weekly, I’ve come across many stories of amazing women crushing stereotypes and refusing to allow mediocre standards to slide. These women push their own limits and inspire others, both men and women, to do the same. They accept nothing less than their own best effort to achieve their goals. We are honored to be able to showcase a few of these women in this week’s magazine.

    So, grab a snack — maybe a bag of pretzels — and enjoy reading this issue of Up & Coming Weekly.

    Pictured above: Many of our examples of women (and men) crushing mediocrity come from our own families.

  • 12 ai5i2550 copy copyTammy Thurman strives every day to serve the community professionally and personally. As the Senior Community and Government Relations Manager for Piedmont Gas, she is in charge of the six eastern North Carolina areas to include Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Wilmington, New Bern, Elizabeth City and Tarboro.

    Originally from Dunn, Thurman attended St. Augustine University in Raleigh and received her degree in Mass Communication. She took a gap year after college while working as a teacher at E.E. Smith High School in Fayetteville.

    “But that’s not what I had gone to school for, my student loans were more than what I was making so I ended up at a telecommunications company, still was not where I wanted to be at but that was my first introduction to working with a utility and then I ended at Progress Energy who was bought by Piedmont Natural Gas,” Thurman said.

    Thurman has been with Piedmont Gas for 18 years, first in customer service and eventually worked her way up to community relations. In her customer service role, she started many initiatives and committees where they would give back to the community on behalf of Piedmont.

    She had always loved serving the community and wanted to do it for a company.

    “I said ‘Lord, I am praying that you open up an opportunity for our company to see my work and see they need me in the community representing them,’” Thurman said. “Long story short, in 2013, a position opened up for community relations in eastern North Carolina and I applied for it and got the job, and it quickly changed from a job to a career.”

    In her current role, she serves as the ambassador and in-between person between the company and the community for the eastern region.

    “What that looks like is any non-profits, any commerce chambers, your local government, all of those people come through me when they want to ask questions or want responses from Piedmont,” she said. “I am the philanthropist for the company in this region, we support and give back huge amounts of philanthropic dollars to the communities across the state.”

    She says she actively seeks out organizations to partner with like The Arts Council in Fayetteville, local music festivals, nonprofits and more.

    “I would say I have an average day, but I would be lying," Thurman said. "It consists of four to five on-call meetings, some events to represent the company. For the most part it's just a matter of tossing some apples in the air, but that's part of what makes my job so intriguing, it’s always a new challenge and that’s what keeps me going.”

    Her work and life are all about serving, serving and more serving, she said chuckling.

    Apart from her professional role at Piedmont, Thurman is on the board and committee for many different organizations. She’s a part of the United Way of Cumberland County, board member for American Heart Associations in Wilmington, trustee at Cape Fear Hospital, board member at the Greater Fayetteville Chamber, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities in Raleigh, and the USO at Fort Bragg.

    She noticed a while ago that she wasn’t doing much outside of her career and wanted to do something outside of that.

    “My heart is to help young high school or college aged women, that's a passion for me,” Thurman mentioned.

    Being a motivational speaker, she wanted to share her story, and decided to participate on an anthology project with 41 other women across the nation to write the compilation book “Women Crushing Mediocrity” by Dr. Cheryl Wood.

    The book meant for women by women shares real life experiences and aims to provide motivation through true stories from the authors of things they went through, touching on topics such as self-esteem, procrastination, life after divorce, being a single woman and more. Thurman’s portion of the book is focused on how and if one wants to change.

    “For me it's about the way you say things, the way you approach things, but at some point, a light goes off that has to say, ‘I cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different outcomes,’ not if I want true change.” Thurman said.

    In the book, she talks about her call center experience and how unhappy and upset she was with work.

    “I kept saying everything around me needs to change but someone pointed out that wasn’t the case and something in me needed to change,” she said. “And it took about 12 months to digest and work it out. When I got that new mind change, all my pain and complaining stopped.”

    Thurman also hosts a radio show called, “A Nation of Sisters”’ on local station WIDU, about motivating women, and talks to women in the military, medical fields, ministries, students and more, she said.

    When she’s not dedicating her life to serving others, you can catch Thurman hanging out with her two dogs, on the beach or at amusement parks.

    Pictured above: Tammy Thurman is the Senior Community and Government Relations Manager for Piedmont Gas, partnering with many organizations in the region. She also hosts "A Nation of Sisters," a show on local WIDU radio.


  • 13 transworldAccording to Investopedia, an exit strategy is defined as “... an entrepreneur's strategic plan to sell his or her ownership in a company to investors or another company.”

    An exit strategy gives a business owner the capacity to reduce his/her stake in the business.

    If a business is successful, the business can make a substantial profit, but if the business is not highly successful, an exit strategy allows a business owner to limit their losses. In either scenario, an exit strategy is important.

    As one might imagine, there are a number of different exit strategies to consider, but the most common are: initial public offerings, strategic acquisitions (sale of the business), management buyouts.

    The decision of which exit strategy is best to use often lies in how much control or involvement, if any, the business owner would like to have after they exit.

    For instance, a strategic acquisition means the business owner loses all stakes; therefore, they have no responsibility or control.

    The new owners may do what they wish with the newly acquired business.

    An initial public offering, like the name suggests, is when a private business decides to go public.

    This means that any major debt or lack of investor funding can be remedied by allowing the public to have a stake (in stock) of the business.

    Often, once a company goes public, the owner may still have a leadership role in the company, but all financial aspects of the company are now public.

    IPOs are becoming more popular again, but are not efficient for small businesses.

    Alternatively, a management buyout means that those who currently manage the company wish to buy it from the owner, who may be more hands-off in the day-to-day logistics.

    This is appealing to the management team because they go from employees to owners, which is a major promotion.

    This can be achieved through an employee stock ownership plan, but again the company needs to be of a certain scale for the ESOP to be an economical strategy.

    Our advice is to plan ahead and if you are considering an exit strategy in the next two years or so, seek the assistance of a business advisor who has the skill set and professional tools to help you decide which option is best for you and your business needs.

  • 12 N2108P33005HThe Student Learning Center at Fayetteville Technical Community College is a source of positive encouragement and support for all current and future FTCC students. Students who visit the SLC find a place to ask questions and receive assistance without feeling embarrassed or inadequate.

    Whether a recent high school graduate or one who hasn’t been in class for twenty years, students are welcomed and made to feel comfortable at the SLC. Staff encourage independent learning and provide students with tutoring and supplemental instruction to deepen their comprehension of key concepts.

    At the SLC, there are 10 qualified instructors ready to support students as they pursue academics. Instructors in the SLC work to bridge the gap between learning and understanding. Each instructor has a higher education degree and has worked closely with adult learners for many years. SLC staff facilitate learning in the areas of English, math, science, Spanish and much more. The staff is invested in student success and constantly encourages students to not give up on achieving their academic goals.

    Students learn differently, and the SLC staff understands the challenges students face each semester. In fact, SLC staff members encourage students to visit the SLC as soon as they have a question or feel assistance is needed, rather than delaying. Students are provided a welcoming atmosphere with comfortable seating, computers, laptops and group instruction rooms. Additionally, the SLC has mobile whiteboards and whiteboard tables to promote interactive learning. Students can also use the SLC as a place for study between or after classes.

    In addition to one-on-one tutoring offered in the SLC, NetTutor Online Tutoring Service is available for students. NetTutor is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The tutoring service is available through FTCC student Blackboard accounts. The SLC has specialized labs for math, science and writing. These labs offer students one-on-one experiences within a more focused setting.

    Throughout the COVID pandemic, the SLC maintained CDC guidelines and safely remained open to provide face-to-face services to FTCC students. For students who were unable to visit campus during the pandemic, the SLC offered students virtual tutoring appointments, enabling students to continue to receive personal assistance.

    Using the SLC is free, and no appointment is necessary. Students simply present the FTCC student ID card for easy access at the sign-in kiosk. Virtual sessions are also available for FTCC students by contacting the SLC via phone call or email.

    The SLC is located inside the Harry F. Shaw Virtual College Center at the Fayetteville campus. Hours of operation are Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Students may direct questions about the SLC to learningcenter@faytechcc.edu or 910-678-8266.

    Join us for fall semester at Fayetteville Technical Community College for an amazing academic journey.

  • 09 N2105P66009HCape Fear Valley Health System has made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for its 7,000 employees, physicians, students, vendors and volunteers. The deadline for compliance is Oct. 1.

    “With the rising trend in positive COVID-19 cases locally and nationally, vaccinations remain our best defense against the pandemic,” said Cape Fear Valley Health CEO Michael Nagowski.

    COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rapidly increasing locally. Only 50-55% of Cape Fear Valley’s employees have been vaccinated to date, said health system spokesperson Chaka Jordan.

    Cumberland County’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is 13.7%. This rate has increased significantly in the last two weeks. The CEO and other members of the health system’s leadership held town hall events with employees to answer questions before making this decision. Employees with medical or religious concerns are eligible for exemptions. Nagowski said employees will not be required to use vacation time to get their vaccines.

    The Fape Fear Valley Health System includes the 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.

    On July 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised mask guidance. In areas with substantial and high transmission, like Cumberland County, the CDC recommends that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear masks in public indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the Delta variant and protect others. City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County government employees and people visiting public buildings are again required to wear masks.

    City Manager Doug Hewett distributed a memo via email to city employees announcing the change. Citizens are encouraged to schedule appointments before entering City Hall. Residents can access many city services 24/7 at fayettevillenc.gov.

    County Manager Amy Cannon echoed Hewett’s concerns. “We are monitoring our county metrics and the recommendations from the CDC, State health officials and our Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green regarding any further protective measures,” Cannon said.

    The Fayetteville Area System of Transit has instituted requirements for bus riders. FAST employees and passengers must wear face masks, not face shields or bandanas. Passenger capacity has been reduced from 35 to 22 on buses. Bus seats are marked for social distancing.

    Passengers should enter and exit buses from the rear doors. Daily disinfecting and cleaning of FAST facilities and buses are scheduled.

    Vaccination clinics are available countywide. Walk-ins are welcome at Cape Fear Valley vaccine clinics during the month of August until clinic capacity is reached, but appointments are preferred. Visit www.capefearvalley.com/covid19.

    Free vaccines are also available at the Cumberland County Department of Public Health located at 1235 Ramsey St., weekdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. No appointments are needed. Learn more at cumberlandcountync.gov/covid19.

  • 08 County Covid IMG 4914Cumberland County leaders conducted a press conference Aug. 6 with health officials to encourage residents to get a COVID-19 vaccination and to continue to mask-up due to the Delta variant and the 837 new COVID-19 cases in the county over the previous seven days.

    “The best protection against this virus is the vaccine and I encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” said Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charles Evans.

    Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Public Health Director, said the COVID-19 Delta variant is much more contagious than the original strand. She added that the COVID-19 positive infection rate is currently above 15% and hospitalizations are increasing. The percent positive needs to be closer to 5% for everyone’s safety according to the World Health Organization.

    “I know the frustration among the vaccinated is growing with the unvaccinated, I ask you take that frustration and turn it into conversation,” Green said. “I know that conversations with your friends and family will make a difference.”

    At the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in January, Cape Fear Valley Medical Center had approximately 130 people admitted to the hospital, according to Mike Nagowski, Chief Executive Officer for Cape Fear Valley Health System. As vaccines started to be administered, that number had a downward trend to 14 people who were COVID positive.

    “In the last six weeks, as the Delta variant has taken hold … we now have 89 people who are COVID positive in our hospital. Almost every single person in the hospital is unvaccinated,” said Nagowski, who described the Delta variant as “like the original COVID on steroids.”

    The medical center is seeing younger patients. “The people dying today are far different than those who were dying in the beginning of the pandemic,” Nagowski said.

    Cumberland County Schools will return on Aug. 23 for in-person learning for traditional calendar schools. According to Cumberland County Schools Director of Health Services Shirley Bolden, the top priority for the school year is to operate in-person learning all year long as safely as possible.

    “In keeping with the recommendation of the local, state and national health officials, Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connolly plans to recommend to the Board of Education universal masking for all students and staff at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. This would be for all pre-K through 12th-grade students and staff, regardless of their vaccination status,” Bolden said.

    This action is intended to reduce the number of students needing to quarantine in the event of an exposure. “We believe that universal masking can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the school setting,” she said.

    In addition to universal masking, the goal is to maintain social distancing of 3 feet between students and 6 feet between staff. CCS is also encouraging those who are not vaccinated to do so now to slow the spread of the virus.

    “Thanks to federal funding, COVID-19 testing will also be available and will provide one more layer of protection to help keep students and staff safe,” Bolden said.

    Clinics will be held at Cumberland County Public Library locations on Saturdays in August from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Appointments are not needed.
    Aug. 14 at Hope Mills Library
    Aug. 21 at East Regional Library
    Aug. 28 at Spring Lake Regional Library

    The Department of Public Health, 1235 Ramsey St., offers the vaccine weekdays from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Pfizer and J&J vaccinations are available by appointment or walk-ins will be accepted.

    View the COVID-19 vaccination calendar and make an appointment at cumberlandcountync.gov/covid19.

    Pictured above: Chairman Charles Evans speaks at a press conference Aug. 6. (Photo courtesy Cumberland County)

  • 07 students walkingFayetteville Technical Community College’s High School Connections program provides high school students the option to begin earning college credit while still in high school.

    HSC offers more than 30 Career and Technical Education certificate programs that lead to entry-level job credentials/certificates. These pathways provide essential knowledge, technical capabilities and employability skills for career success that bridge workforce gaps by linking secondary and post-secondary curriculum.

    This summer, FTCC Foundation received two grants from local organizations that will be used to create a resource fund for the HSC program
    at FTCC.

    Cumberland Community Foundation awarded a Community Grant in the amount of $20,000.

    The United Way of Cumberland County awarded the Foundation a $15,000 grant through the Youth Growth Stock Trust.

    FTCC Foundation partners with donors to support FTCC by raising awareness and financial resources that can provide college access for students to attain their educational and career goals.

    The HSC Resource Fund will provide funds to pay for books and program supplies for high school students from low-income families who wish to continue their education beyond high school. This project will be offered community-wide and will leverage resources by providing long-term solutions to low-income students by increasing their job opportunities through higher education and job skills. The goal for the resource fund is to overcome financial barriers and increase educational access.

    Aaron Mabe, coordinator of the HSC program at FTCC, noticed that for many students attending Title I high schools or residing in economically distressed communities, the cost of supplies and materials was a barrier to successful program completion.

    “These grants will provide access and equitable opportunities for students who wish to learn marketable job skills and valuable trades. Without these resources, many students would not be able to afford the books and tool kits needed to take the classes. We are grateful for the support from Cumberland Community Foundation and the United Way,” Mabe said.

    Dual (high school/college) enrollment courses provide a wide variety of exciting offerings to high school students including photovoltaic, collision repair, welding and construction management.

    These programs allow students to complete a certificate or diploma aligned with in-demand state, regional and/or local workforce needs.

    While traditional transferable college courses require textbooks or lab kits, the majority of career and technical education programs require additional supplies to instruct skill mastery.

    FTCC’s academic departments work diligently to accommodate the financial cost of program supplies and minimize the substantial out-of-pocket cost to students. For many students attending Title I high schools or residing in economically distressed communities, the cost of supplies and materials is a barrier to successful program completion.

    According to U.S. Census Data (from 2019), prior to the pandemic, median household income in Cumberland County averaged around $45,000 with 17% of families living in poverty.

    There are 13 public high schools in Cumberland County. The percentage of their student body considered to be economically disadvantaged ranges from 34.6% to 69.7%, with an average of 55%.

    To learn more about FTCC’s High School Connections program, please visit www.faytechcc.edu/academics/high-school-connections/ or call 910-678-8583.

  • 06 CF River Trail Part C 1After a year of construction, the barricades have been removed and Part C of the Cape Fear River Trail is open once again.

    Part C is the lower portion of the Cape Fear River Trail that connects Parts A and B. With the addition of Part C, the trail now spans more than seven miles one way.

    Visitors can access Part C from the parking lot at Jordan Soccer Complex off Treetop Drive or access the trail at Clark Park on Sherman Drive.

    Part C of the trail includes a boardwalk. The boardwalk crosses CSX Transportation property and is located under the CSX bridge.

    Later this year, a paved path will connect the Cape Fear River Trail with the Linear Park Trail. Work on Part C began in June 2020.

    The total estimated cost is $2.47 million. Money from the City’s General Fund, the state and federal government will cover costs.

    Visitors can learn more about the Cape Fear River Trail, including operating hours, bicycle and pet requirements visit www.fcpr.us/parks-trails/trails/cape-fear-river-trail.

  • 05 FAST Coach 2The Fayetteville Area System of Transit wants to improve the benefits of bus operators who are among the lowest paid city workers.

    “Most drivers are paid $15.52 an hour and up to $18 an hour depending on seniority,” said Transit Director Randy Hume in an interview last year. Hume said pay increases are necessary to get people to take bus driving jobs.

    FAST recently donated a city bus to Fayetteville Technical Community College for the school’s new commercial driver’s license training program.

    The city’s FY2022 budget includes money to provide scholarships for FTCC students who commit to driving for FAST when they complete the academic program. The city will also pay trainees while in class.

    The bus turnover ceremony was held July 27 at the FAST Transit Center on Franklin Street.

    The 200-hour class B CDL training program with passenger endorsement is expected to begin in September.

    For information about the program, contact FTCC CDL Driving Instructor Eric Smith at 910-486-3909 or smither@faytechcc.edu.

  • 04 ncworks career center mcpherson church rdThe Cumberland County NCWorks Career Center, formerly known as the Employment Security Commission, has moved to a new location from its long-time office on Ray Ave. downtown. The NCWorks Career Center is now located at 490 N. McPherson Church Road.

    The Career Center provides job search and life skills classes, resume and cover letter preparation, skills assessment, career planning and development, occupational skills training and literacy skills.

    The facility operates under the administration of the Mid-Carolina Council of Governments and is governed by a 21-member Workforce Development Board appointed by the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.

    The new location provides a more modern setting for customers and career center employees.

    For more information, call 910-486-1010 or visit NCWorks.gov.

  • 03 MenMoneyBagHC1108 sourceIf debt and spending were Olympic sports, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi would easily take home the gold medals.

    Now after a year of unprecedented and reckless spending, there is no relief in sight for hard-working taxpayers. Pelosi and Washington Democrats passed yet another massive $600 billion spending package — a 21% increase in spending from the previous year.

    Even worse, this budget was the first in decades to scrap the Hyde Amendment and allow taxpayer dollars to go towards abortions. The only thing they didn’t fund was the Defense Department and Homeland Security.

    This out-of-control spending is coming with a cost for you and your family in the form of higher prices at the grocery store and gas station. Inflation is a tax increase on all Americans and only getting worse.

    Just last month the inflation marker rose 3.5%, its biggest jump since 1991. This, along with the highest consumer prices in 13 years, is the latest sign that reckless spending by Washington Democrats is driving inflation. For the sake of generations to come, we cannot afford to spend like this.

    While Washington Democrats were busy spending your tax dollars, last week I focused on defending our veterans and the Second Amendment. I hosted a group of wounded combat veterans in Washington to discuss a new regulation on pistol stabilizing braces proposed by the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives.

    Under the regulation, an individual could become a felon unless you turn in or destroy your firearm, destroy your brace, or pay a tax. This regulation is a massive attack on our Second Amendment. But worse is that these devices were designed and are needed by wounded veterans to continue exercising their rights.

    Joining me last week was former police officer and U.S. Army veteran Rick Cicero, who was injured in Afghanistan in 2010 by an IED. After losing his right leg and right arm, Cicero helped develop the original stabilizing brace. He now travels the country teaching disabled veterans how to shoot again and said stabilizing braces “are the foundation” for everything he does. Rick talked about the impact on self-esteem and the mental health improvements he sees in these veterans due to this training.

    I led 140 members of Congress opposing this regulation. Forty-eight Senators also joined this effort. Now I am encouraging everyone to submit a public comment against this rule to the ATF before Sept. 8. Folks can visit my website at https://hudson.house.gov/ or go directly to the ATF’s comment portal.

    Veterans and others who rely on these braces deserve an equal opportunity to exercise the Second Amendment. I will not back down until we tell the ATF to defend them and our rights.

    Finally, last week, mask mandates returned to the halls of Congress and many communities across the country.

    Cases have risen, mainly among in those without vaccines. Yet last week, I asked for data from the CDC on why they reversed mask guidance for those who have been vaccinated. Vaccines work and I encourage everyone to consult with their doctor about getting one. But sweeping political mandates not based on science undermine our confidence in public health.

    Furthermore, updated guidance from the Biden administration comes as they continue to allow thousands of migrants to cross our southern border without COVID tests or vaccines. Solving this crisis should be step one to address any rise in cases.

    I am determined to keep our businesses and schools open this fall. Vaccines are helping us do this and we should not allow political agendas to revert us back to mask mandates and lockdowns that aren’t based on science.

    In addition to defending our veterans and Second Amendment, I will always continue to fight for commonsense solutions to protect you and your family.

  • 02 people in masksIf you feel like the rug has been ripped from under your feet, you are not alone. Just as we began feeling safer about being out and about and around people we do not know, a newer and more virulent COVID-19 variant dubbed Delta, has upended our lives yet again. The current surge is driven by and striking the unvaccinated, seriously sickening them, sending them to hospitals and killing some.

    The vaccinated, many of whom are heeding the CDC’s recommendation to re-mask indoors, are far less affected and, if they are affected, they are far less sick. As Aaron Carroll, chief health officer for Indiana University, wrote in The New York Times, “COVID-19 is not even close to a crisis for those who are vaccinated, but it is a true danger to those who are unvaccinated.”

    Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services echoes Carroll. “This is a pandemic right now, of the unvaccinated. The virus will find them,” she said. Distressingly, the Delta variant is far more contagious than earlier COVID viruses and can be spread by both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated.

    The situation varies widely across the nation, largely reflecting vaccination rates in different states and communities. This is clearly true in North Carolina where one county, Richmond, is currently designated red, meaning “critical community spread.”

    Twelve other counties, including Cumberland, are orange, the next highest level. Cumberland’s vaccination rate remains low, with only 30% partially vaccinated and 28% fully vaccinated. Cumberland’s COVID-19 positivity rate is over 9%, with the goal being below 5%.

    Statistics can be difficult to absorb but if you remember only one of them, remember this. In North Carolina, 94% of the new COVID-19 diagnoses are now among the unvaccinated.

    Health officials acknowledge different reasons why Americans remain unvaccinated. Some are victims of our culture wars — so insistent on their individual right to choose that they are willing to risk their own health and the health of those around them. Others have deep misgivings about past medical treatments within their own communities, and others find getting vaccinated inconvenient — they have no transportation to a vaccination site, cannot leave their jobs, have no child care or other personal situations.

    All of that said, health and government officials are doing their darnedest to entice Americans to vaccination centers with cash payments, lottery drawings, free rides and on and on.

    They are doing so because none of us, vaccinated or not, cannot really move on until the pandemic is under control, and that is unlikely to happen until more people are vaccinated.

    The private sector which has largely stayed away from the vaccination issue is becoming impatient with the pandemic’s effect on our economy and is moving to require vaccinations among employees, saying essentially, “no shot, no job.”

    Howls of protest fill our TV screens, but the truth is, the United States has long required vaccines. Children cannot go to school without them and visitors cannot enter our nation or others without them.

    If you fear side effects or bizarre notions of microchips entering your body through a thin needle, look around you. Vaccinated people are going about their lives just fine, because vaccinations work.

    If you need more incentive, go back to the statistics. Of Americans now testing positive for COVID-19, becoming ill and dying, 94% are unvaccinated.

  • 01 N2008P23007HFor the past 20 years the Fayetteville City Council has used an antiquated structure of nine single members elected by districts and one mayor elected at large. The nine districts include about 25,000 residents but the representatives are often elected by an average of 1,300 voters in a city of 211,000 people. District representatives figure out very quickly that keeping those 1,300 people happy is all that matters to help them get reelected in the future. This resulting narrow focus by nine members of City Council does not lend itself to address the often complicated and costly city-wide issues. Too often these issues remain unresolved while the Council debates more territorial issues.

    Even worse, an individual Fayetteville citizen has only 2 elected people representing them — the mayor and their district representative. Meanwhile the other 8 council members are not accountable to the needs of citizens who do not live in their district.

    Other governmental bodies in Cumberland County, including the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, the Board of Education, and the towns of Hope Mills and Spring Lake all have at large members as a part their structure.

    In addition, 9 of the 12 largest cities in North Carolina have at large members included. They have found the structure to work for decades and there have been no efforts to convert to all single member districts.

    The Vote Yes Fayetteville initiative is seeking to collect 5,000 signatures that would give every citizen in Fayetteville the opportunity to vote for the type of local government structure they want.

    The proposal calls for changing 4 of the current 9 seats to at large, leaving a Council comprised of 5 district representatives, 4 at large representatives and a mayor.

    Under this structure, every citizen would have more voting rights by being able to vote for and be represented by 6 members of City Council — the mayor, their district representative and 4 at large representatives.

    Most local governments have found this combination provides an effective balance of both district and citywide focus. In the case of Fayetteville, it would provide more focus on the big issues facing the entire city — issues like $100 million in stormwater needs, the failure to annex Shaw Heights and provide its residents access to basic city services like sewer, for example — that are larger than any one district.

    It would also provide more big-picture perspective before deciding to spend $3 million to replace 64,000
    recycling cans so a logo can be removed, instead of reducing our traffic violations enforcement or filling over 50 vacancies in the police department.

    The current structure of City Council has never been voted for by any Fayetteville voter. In fact, the only time that Fayetteville voters have been given the opportunity to vote for a combination of at large and single member districts, they supported it with almost 60% of the votes cast.

    Fayetteville has grown significantly over the years and now composes almost 150 square miles and over 210,000 people. With that growth comes big city issues that require big city perspectives. It is time to change the structure of our City Council to help ensure that more people represent the big picture and are more accountable to all the citizens of our diverse city.

    Joining the thousands of other Fayetteville voters in signing the petition alone does not change the structure of our City Council. It merely allows the referendum to be put on the next citywide election ballot and gives every citizen the right to vote and make this important decision for our community.

    This important decision should be made by all the voters of Fayetteville. I encourage you to review the information on this important subject on the website at www.VoteYesFayetteville.com and to support the petition and let our citizens decide if they want to have 6 elected people representing them versus the current 2.


  • 11 Taipei Tower 2 with Blue SeriesAnother first for the area, Lost and Found: New Media Works by Carla Guzman opens at Gallery 208 on Aug. 17. Her first one-person exhibition since earning a Master’s in Fine Art in Contemporary Art at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, Republic of China. During her studies, Guzman’s focus was new media in the visual arts.

    Attending the artist’s reception between 5:30 and 7 p.m., visitors will meet a young artist who is the daughter of immigrants from El Salvador, a small country that experienced civil war in the late 80s. Raised with the work ethic to achieve the American Dream she noted: “over the years I have become very Americanized, yet I will always be influenced by a background which stems from transgenerational trauma due to civil unrest and contradiction.”

    Before completing the new media graduate degree in China and returning to the United States, Guzman had graduated from Fayetteville State University with an undergraduate degree in visual arts. For Guzman, the transition of ideas and meaning in new media was similar to the way she worked in traditional mediums, the challenge was learning the technology and programming.

    Guzman stated, “I always come back to my roots in traditional image making, it is the most direct way to tap into my creativity. My process includes three steps: the initial drawings, the postproduction and then the translation to new media (which is still evolving). I can look at the digital work and identify the original matrix it came from and how it has evolved since then. For example, I might use a drawing from years ago again in a new work today. I tend to recycle images since emotions are at the core of my work and they remain constant.”

    Guzman was asked about the advantages or disadvantages of working in different modalities or sensory systems and to comment on the idea of selecting images verses creating them without a computer. She was quick to explain how ways of working influence the modality you are using.

    For example, she stated: “I was the type of printmaker that loved mistakes because they were always beautiful and interesting to me. Printmaking taught me not to become too attached to an end-product but follow the process. In a similar way, if my external hard drive becomes messed up or if something happened, half of my drawings remain on the other side of the world. I am okay because I have my operative system that I go by. In the same way as printmaking, I welcome these mishaps. Building upon previous work is interesting, but also, a clean slate is great because there is the challenge to improve things like technique and skill which applies to new media as well.”

    It takes time to find one’s way in a technological medium that has been rapidly developing for the last 40 years, even faster the last 5 years, and Guzman is a newcomer. A constructive turning point was during her thesis research when she came across some of the earliest artists in the 1970s who were the first to mix art and technology. Discovering E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology: a non-profit organization established in 1967 to develop collaborations between artists and engineers) and artists Robert Mallary and Harold Cohen was a way for Guzman to focus on a strategy to express herself in new media.

    Guzman considers herself like Harold Cohen, the artist who created AARON - a computer software program that generated compositions on its own, allowing the artist to create several compositions in the course of a few days. Guzman takes a similar approach to Cohen: “I like that a computer can generates many images, then I select the best and develop my imagery from the successful ones. It allows for more iterations of the same image without totally abandoning the original one.”

    In addition to developing new technological skill, the time Guzman spent in China influenced the artist in many other ways: “The graduate program in China was an international curriculum with professors from top art institutions around the world and in China. It was an amazing nonwestern experience that led to opportunities for travel in China and meeting with contemporary Chinese and international artists, emerging and established. Your sensibilities and viewpoints change when you are not able to communicate or understand anything other than the images in front of you.”

    Guzman lived in China three years, and then due to the pandemic, lived a year and a half in Taiwan before returning to the USA. Lost and Found includes works from her graduate thesis exhibit titled Contemporary Emotion-Based Multimedia Art: Artistic Strategies and Viewer Response and works while living in Taiwan.

    Guzman describes herself as “digital abstract expressionist” and her works are “essentially maquettes which are meant to be spatial emotional sculptures within the real world and the void. The works completed while living in Taiwan were during my time of being displaced in Taiwan due to the pandemic. The result was efforts to integrate emotional sculptures, feelings of loss and chaos, in actual location in Taiwan.”

    In seeing Guzman’s “emotional sculptures,” visitors to the exhibit will need to reconsider what it means for something to be a sculpture. Traditionally we think of sculpture as a tangible object that has been physically carved, modeled or cast in a material. The world of virtual reality and other new media platforms are most often illusionary - but ever present. The semantics of what it means to be a sculpture in a new media world has been forever altered to have new meaning, new forms - with this comes new sensibilities about experiencing the object/nonobject and the making of the object/nonobject.

    In describing her images, new explanatory words are used to refer to their existence which would never apply to traditional sculptural forms. For example, in the early works titled “Taipai Tower 1” and “Yuanshuan Series,” Guzman has created floating sculptural forms in cityscapes. Hard-edge linear forms appear and disappear as if in dissonance with the space. The sculptures are not static but living, expanding and contracting. Reflective color and form interrupt the space and yet inhabit the space in a palatable way. There is sense these sculptures are never permanently located but continuously move themselves.

    Compared to the earlier work, the “Hualian Series” is a sculptural series made of light, sometimes colorless as well as the colorless becoming refractive color. Located on a shoreline, seeing the series next to each other, it is if we do not move closer to the sculpture, but the sculpture moves closer to us. The spinning forms in earlier works are now a vaporous wall; not inhabiting the space but appearing as energy and potential.

    For anyone who visits Lost and Found, the artist would like viewers to “leave the exhibit feeling like they saw some beautiful images but also possibly formed some associations from their own experiences with her ‘emotional sculptures’ since emotions are innately part of all of us.” After recently returning to Fayetteville after living abroad for almost 5 years, Guzman shared she is presently “in the process of getting found” and looking forward to “networking and collaborating with new media artists.”

    The public in invited to meet the artist and attend the public reception of Lost and Found: New Media Works by Carla Guzman on Aug. 17 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Gallery 208 located at 208 Rowan Street. The exhibit will remain up until the end of October. Gallery hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. For information call 910-484-6200.

    Pictured Above: "Taipei Tower 2 with Blue Series" by Carla Guzman.

    Below: "Skate Park with Blue Series 3" by Carla Guzman.

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  • 08 shleton 4Some of the nation’s elite soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd Special Forces Group have finalized testing the Army’s new Parachutist Flotation Device or PFD.

    Preparation for the PFD test started in mid-April with the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate performing intentional water landings in Jordan Lake, according to Maj. Camden Jordan, ABNSOTD’s executive officer.

    “Planners synchronized early with local emergency management, law enforcement and state wildlife agencies to help support the Army’s water operations on Jordan Lake,” said Jordan.
    Jordan went on to say rehearsals took place for the multi-tiered and complex infiltration technique before final testing in June.

    “Located just west of Raleigh, Jordan Lake is one of North Carolina’s most pristine waterways, so these agencies provided swift water rescue teams, emergency medical technicians, small boat support and assisted in routing boaters away from the water drop zone while airborne operations are underway,” he said.

    “We relied heavily upon the support of the community to execute this test. Local emergency services were the lynchpin to this entire test and could not have been executed without their outstanding support,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Reed, ABNSOTD’s operations noncommissioned officer in charge.

    According to Dan Shedd, Senior Mechanical Engineer Developmental Command at Natick, Massachusetts, military planners try real hard to keep airborne operations away from bodies of water. He said on occasion, though, paratroopers can engage high value targets near large bodies of water so they must be equipped accordingly for safety.

    With flotation bladders that can be inflated using an internal carbon dioxide gas cylinder or an oral inflation tube, once employed in the water, the PFD becomes critical in saving lives.

    Shedd explained the PFD must suspend a combat-equipped jumper in a “lifesaving” posture for an extended period following an airborne infiltration.

    “In real-world scenarios,” he said, “this critical time allows recovery teams time to locate and extract jumpers in the event of a water landing.”

    Reed said operational testing with soldiers during early June saw participating paratroopers undergoing intensive training cycles geared toward preparing for deliberate water operations.

    That training began with new equipment training so the soldiers could practice the proper rigging techniques and activation procedures.

    “Anytime two lifesaving devices are being employed by one soldier, intense attention to detail is required for both proper fit and wear as well as how these systems interact during airborne infiltration,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan R. Copley, an ABNSOTD military freefall master jumpmaster.

    The rigorous NET training test jumps required the test soldiers of 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd Special Forces Group to complete a full combat water survival test conducted in Fort Bragg’s
    Mott Lake.

    Sgt. 1st Class Steven Branch, a platoon sergeant and jumpmaster assigned to the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, gave the PFD a thumbs-up.

    “The PFD is much easier to rig for static line operations,” he said. “We barely noticed having it on, and it can easily suspend a soldier with combat equipment for a long time if needed. Overall I was very impressed with every aspect of the PFD.”
    ABNSOTD used the PFD test to train parachute riggers from across the airborne and special operations community in the proper maintenance and care of the new life-saving apparatus once they return to home station.

    This "maintainer" training included system maintenance, repacking, repair, proper storage, handling, as well as rigging and employment during water landings.

    Sgt. Issa Yi, a parachute rigger with the 151st Quarter Master Company said, "The PFD was easy to pack and required no special tools or materials to maintain."


    Pictured above: A soldier with 3rd Special Forces Group prepares to enter Jordan Lake during military free fall test trials of the Parachutist Flotation Device. (Photo by James L. Finney) (All photos this page courtesy U.S. Army Operational Test Command)

    Pictured below left: An ABNSOTD soldier prepares to enter the water prior to the start of pool testing. (Photo by James L. Finney)

    Pictured below right: An operational test jumper from 3rd SF Group conducts a test trial from high altitude over Laurinburg/Maxton Airfield. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Timothy D. Nephew)

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    Pictured above left: An 82nd Airborne Division soldier exits a C-27 aircraft over Jordan Lake during testing of the new PFD. (Photo by Chris O'Leary)

    Pictured above right: A 3rd Special Forces Group soldier undergoes vertical wind tunnel training prior to a live airdrop with the Parachutist Flotation Device. (Photo by James L. Finney)

  • 04 N1210P15012HCumberland County School District officials say the system has literally dozens of job opportunities.

    Among the numerous vacancies are positions for teachers, teacher assistants, cafeteria workers, media coordinators, prime time assistants, custodians, school bus drivers and many others.

    “New hires may be eligible for $500 sign-on bonuses,” said CCS Communications Director Renarta Moyd.

    She can be contacted at renartac@ccs.K12.nc.us for additional information.

  • 01 martin luther king speechI have always been an admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In view of our now professed WOKE society, he must be flipping in his grave at America's self-appointed and anointed WOKE culturists who are discounting and disrespecting the resounding worldwide message he shared with us in his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

    Wow, how things have changed in only 58 years. Our nation has gone from cherishing the thoughts, vision and messages of one of the greatest humanitarians and Civil Rights leaders ever born to a contradictory focus on the color of a person's skin, gender and political affiliation.

    What? Character, intelligence and integrity are no longer considered valued characteristics that matter? "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."

    This is disappointing and sad. I'm not sure how we got to this point; however, I feel strongly that our nation needs to return to respecting the basics of humanity.

    Simply put, we need to get back to practicing the Golden Rule. It's a pretty simple moral philosophy that has never failed to yield the perfect result when interpreted in its kind, humane and Christian manner.

    The most popular and familiar version of this rule read: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This moral philosophy was never intended to be interpreted as justification for senseless killing, stealing, retribution or any other kind of vicious and cruel assault on humanity.

    The most popular, worldwide and humane interpretation of this tenet is "to treat others the way you want to be treated" (positive). Or, you should "treat others in ways you do not wish to be treated yourself" (negative).

    No doubt, Dr. King had it right, and he wasn't woke. He was kind, intelligent, compassionate, steadfast in his convictions and impervious to deep-seated hate. He preached and lived the correct interpretation of the Golden Rule with an understanding that elevated it to prominence in commonsense behavior and ethics, assuring peace, love and respect for all people. Dr. King would not have advocated for Critical Race Theory at any level.

    Besides, it is only a theory. And one that contradicts the teachings, philosophy and heartfelt messages that Dr. King professed, fought for and died for. I don't think this country is ready to cast Dr. King aside for CRT and replace his teachings, goodwill, philosophies, statues and monuments with CRT advocates and doctrine.

    Besides, what Woke/CRT advocates could match Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s integrity and character or passion for humanity? Let me know who they are.

    In the meantime, I will continue to advocate for TLC over CRT.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

    Pictured above: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963, calling for racial equality and an end to discrimination. The speech, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.

  • 20 DadBoyHelmetHC1104 sourceIf you've lived in the Fayetteville area any length of time, you probably recall the days before Festival Park.

    Festivals lined Hay and Green Streets, baseball was played by a number of different teams and leagues at J.P. Riddle Stadium, and the kids played on the "big whale" as we came together in front of the band shell for events of all kind in Rowan Park.

    With all of those behind us, the Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department have given us lots of new reasons to celebrate in the downtown area.

    One of the newer additions may actually have slid in under your radar, as it was opened and dedicated during the time our state government was limiting crowd size and imposing other restrictions on how and where we gathered in 2020.

    I'm talking about the new (and fabulous) skate park which opened in Rowan Park in August of last year.

    There was little fanfare at the time, but it didn't escape the attention of avid skateboard enthusiasts throughout the county, nor was the opening lost on Terry Grimble, a lifetime proponent and advocate of skateboarding in Fayetteville.

    Terry has been outfitting people of all ages with quality gear for as long as I can remember, and was a sane and steady voice calling for something more for the skaters in the county.

    As a skateboard dad and grandpa, I love the fact our kids now have somewhere fun, safe and well-maintained to try their latest tricks and learn new ones.

    Now that the Olympics has even added both street and park skateboarding competitions to the quadrennial celebration of the world's best athletes, we can almost certainly count on seeing more of our agile young people dropping in to demonstrate their prowess with local onlookers and fellow skaters alike.

    We stopped at the skate park for a couple of hours on a July Sunday afternoon, and were thrilled to see plenty of young people skating. The crowd continued to grow as the sun began to back off a little from its midday position, and we watched as some of the more accomplished skaters offered pointers and encouragement to those sitting on the wall in awe. That's good stuff. And something we need more of.

    When you combine the skate park with all the Splash Pads and Pools the County Parks and Recreation has added in the past couple of years, they begin to add up to an improved quality of life for the families who call Fayetteville and the surrounding area home.

    Now let's get out there and enjoy it!


  • 02 IMG 7983Have you been wondering who wrote the Book of Love? You won’t get that answer in this column. Go find an old Monotones album and seek guidance there, Grasshopper. Today we are going to explore the reasons that the world is going nutso. Which is admittedly a much easier topic to understand than the vagaries of sweet love.

    Let us consider the mystery of the Anti-Vaxxers. The Rona has come back with its new improved 2021 Delta model. None of that sissy Corona 19 stuff. This is the real thing. Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It’s Super Rona, a strange visitor from a Cootie planet which is killing Earthlings with powers and abilities far beyond those of mere mortal men.

    The Super Rona is able to change the course of mighty rivers, fill emergency rooms, hospitals and grave yards with its bare hands. The only thing that can defeat Super Rona is its version of Kryptonite, the mild-mannered Vaccines. Logic might appear to dictate that Americans would leap at the chance to get vaccinated but logic would be wrong. Tens of millions of Americans won’t take the Vax, seemingly preferring death before inoculation. As the King of Siam said, “It is a puzzlement.”

    The Vaccines were developed under the Former Guy’s Presidency. Curiously the Vax Refuseniks tend to be die-hard Former Guy cult members. The Former Guy took the vax himself. He should get credit for developing it. He did good getting it up and ready. Logically his followers should be proud of what he did. They should be first to get the vax to support the Former Guy, yet they are the last. We may be watching a national demonstration of Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection taking place before our wondering eyes.

    For most of Biden’s Presidency the Former Guy’s political party and Tee Vee hosts have been playing the part of the Pied Piper leading their followers into the Valley of Death by pretending the Rona was fake news or that Bill Gates was going to inject them with mind control Triskets.

    Recently some of these same leaders began to realize that if their portion of the electorate doesn’t get vaccinated, they will cross over the Great Divide before the mid-term elections leaving the Democrats in charge of Congress. Owning the Libs by filling graveyards with disbelieving Super Corona cult members is somewhat counter intuitive. Dead Democrats do not lose their right to vote. They will keep on voting. We shall learn if Dead Republicans forfeit their franchise if they keep refusing to get into the Vax lifeboats of the Titanic after it has struck the Super Rona iceberg.

    What could cause the puzzling behavior of the Former Guy’s followers? Here are a couple of possible answers.

    The moon has been wobbling more than usual recently. We like to think the moon just peacefully orbits around the Earth in a smooth oval orbit cycling through its orbit every 18.6 years. The moon just minds its own business, creating tides and rhyming in love songs with the month of June. However, as they say on late night TV informercials — BUT WAIT! The moon itself wobbles. NASA released a new study that the moon’s wobbling may lead to record high tides over the next decade. If the moon can screw up tides on Earth, imagine what it can do to the thought processes of the Anti-Vaxxers. Astronomers first noticed the moon’s wobble back in 1728. Ponder all the craziness since 1728. The wobble could explain the current Anti-Vax sentiment.

    NASA recently discovered another disturbance in the Force — Mars is older than Earth. The Mars Onsight Lander sitting on the Angry Red Planet is studying the guts of Mars.

    Think of Mars and Earth as giant gum balls. The outer part of the gum ball is the crust, which sits on top of the mantle layer. (Not to be confused with Mickey Mantle.) Below the mantle is the molten core of each planet — the center of the gum ball. Mars has a thicker crust than Earth. Its mantle is thinner than Earth’s but its molten core is much larger than Earth’s core. NASA says this means that Mars was formed millions of years before Earth when the gasses from the sun were still condensing into planets like Earth and Venus.

    The Onsight Lander has detected more than 700 Mars quakes since landing in 2019. These Mars Quakes may have to power to cloud the minds of the Former Guy’s followers convincing them that Death before Vaccination is the path best taken.

    Moon wobbles or Mars Quakes? Either one might be the reason for America’s current sojourn into the Reality Distortion Field in which we find ourselves.

    If you were looking for a logical answer to an illogical situation, you have come to the wrong column. I cheerfully admit to being clueless. I can remember when polio was a thing. They closed the movies, swimming pools, anywhere there were crowds. Iron lungs abounded. Then the polio vaccine came along and polio went away. Vaccines work.

    Perhaps the Anti-Vaxxers would take the vaccine if they were told it was made from the Former Guy’s bath water. It’s worth a shot. Maybe Sean Hannity can tell them to drink up.


  • 07 425500p6635EDNmainimg scouts fishing 1The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville has released its August class schedule which includes a fishing merit badge clinic for Boy Scouts on Aug. 28.

    “Fishing is the 4th overall activity preferred by Scouts,” said Thomas Carpenter, center director of the Pechmann Fishing Education Center. “Our workshop is led by Boy Scouts of America certified angling instructors and volunteers who guide the Scouts through all the requirements needed to earn their fishing merit badge.”

    Carpenter added that offering these types of opportunities helps to develop young leaders who may potentially become the future of wildlife managers and conservation influencers, a key mission of the Wildlife Commission.

    The Boy Scout clinic is free, is limited to 50 Scouts, and Scout Leaders must contact Carpenter Thomas at thomas.carpenter@ncwildlife.org to register.

    Other free classes offered at the Center this month include:
    Aug. 7: Family Fishing Workshop, 9 a.m. – noon for ages 7 and older.
    Aug. 10-12: Beginning Fly-tying Course, 6:30 – 9 p.m. for ages 12 and older.
    Aug. 11: Introduction to Fly-casting, 6 – 8:30 p.m. for ages 12 and older.
    Aug 13: Entomology for Anglers, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
    Aug. 18: Reel Women Fishing Adventure League – Rod Building Primer, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (virtual)
    Aug. 19-20: Introductory Fishing for Adults, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
    Aug. 21: Basic Rod Building Course for Women, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Aug. 24: Fly-fishing Basics: Creating Hand Tied Leaders, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
    Aug. 26: Fly-tying Forum, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. for ages 10 and older.
    Aug. 28: Boy Scout Fishing Merit Badge Clinic, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. for active Scouts 11 and older.

    Courses are led by Wildlife Commission staff and trained volunteers. A North Carolina fishing license is not required to take any of the classes. Registration for all clinics and classes is available online at ncwildlife.org/learning/education-centers/pechmann, or by calling 910-868-5003.

    The John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville was built in 2007 and is the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s newest education facility. It’s the only fishing education center of its kind in the state. Center instructors teach a variety of aquatic programs to anglers of all ages and abilities, usually free of charge. The Center is funded by grants and the sales of recreational licenses offered by the Wildlife Commission.

    Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input.

    The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities.

    For more information or to purchase or renew a fishing, trapping and hunting license and renew a vessel registration online at ncwildlife.org.

    Pictured above: The Pechmann Fishing Eduation Center offers several free classes in August to anglers of all ages. (Photo courtesy the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center)


  • 05 N2105P32007HHospital systems across North Carolina are experiencing nursing shortages. Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville reports "shortages across the board" in its nursing department.

    The practical nursing program at Robeson County Community College reports numerous graduates have received offers from Cape Fear Valley Medical Center where the hospital system says, “We are aggressively working to hire for full-time, part-time, and per diem nurses.” Cathy Madigan, chief nursing executive with UNC Health, says this has been expected.

    “We have been predicting the nursing shortage,” she said. “Our need is going up, but most schools of nursing are not increasing opportunities yet because it costs money.”

    One reason that there are fewer nurses in the workforce right now is pandemic fatigue. Crystal Tillman, CEO of the North Carolina Board of Nursing, has said that working under the strain has led to some newer nurses leaving the profession altogether. UNC Health has more than 800 vacant nursing positions across the state.

    For those considering entering the nursing career field, local training programs are available through Fayetteville Technical Community College, Methodist University and Fayetteville State University. Visit their websites for more information.

  • 11 Operation Husky 5Fort Bragg will celebrate National Airborne Day on Aug. 14 at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum located in downtown Fayetteville. The annual gathering brings together current and former soldiers to honor the legacy of courage and excellence synonymous with the American paratrooper.

    “The annual celebration honors the first official military parachute jump by the U.S. Army on Aug. 16, 1940,” said Elvia Kelly, Fort Bragg garrison spokeswoman. “Every year, Fort Bragg comes together to bring history to the forefront through a variety of ways, including parachute demonstrations by the U.S. Army Golden Knights and U.S. Army Special Operations Black Daggers.”

    The family-friendly event will begin at 8 a.m. and finish around noon. The public is invited to attend the free event to learn more about paratroopers and the mission of the 82nd Airborne Division that calls Fort Bragg home.

    “Visitors can expect a display of multiple weapons systems from the 82nd Airborne Division and other supporting units, a parachute demonstration from the U.S. Army Special Operations Parachute Team Black Daggers, the U.S. Army Golden Knights performing a High-Altitude Low Opening (HALO) demo jump and displays inside of the museum for the community to enjoy,” Kelly said.

    The schedule includes parachute packing and mock door demonstrations, Black Dagger free fall and secure LZ demo at 11:45 a.m. and a Golden Knights free fall and demo at noon.

    The 82nd Airborne Division “All American” Rock Band and Quintet will perform live music throughout the event. The celebration will have a food truck and an ice cream truck on site and bottled water will be available.

    “When we observe National Airborne Day, we’re commemorating a segment of history that highlights the first successful military parachute jump in 1940,” Kelly said. “It’s a significant point in Army history contributing to Fort Bragg becoming the home of the airborne, a culminating event in which the surrounding community can celebrate with us.”

    In 1940, a test platoon of volunteers from the 29th Infantry Regiment made the first U.S. Army parachute jump from an aircraft. Since that first jump, airborne soldiers have shared a distinguished tradition as elite units setting an example of determination and courage.

    National Airborne Day is also a time to recognize the vigorous training of airborne soldiers and units in the Army. The Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, teaches soldiers the techniques involved in parachuting from aircraft and landing safely. The Jumpmaster School trains personnel in the skills necessary to jumpmaster a combat-equipped jump which means ensuring other soldiers’ parachutes and equipment are correct. A jumpmaster is also trained in procedures for rigging equipment containers and door bundles. The Military Free Fall School at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, is part of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School on Fort Bragg. The joint forces school trains all aspects of free fall parachuting and the use of high altitude-low opening (HALO) and high altitude-high opening (HAHO) parachuting techniques.

    Pictured above: U.S. paratroopers in this file photo take part in the invasion of Sicily, code-named Operation Husky, in July 1943. Lessons learned from the campaign proved invaluable to future airborne operations in World War II.

    Pictured below left: Paratroopers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, descend during an airborne operation on Fort Bragg June 30. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Lee Antreas)

    Pictured below right: First Sgt. Adam Barfield, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, awaits his jumpmaster inspection before boarding an aircraft on Fort Bragg June 30. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Lee Antreas)

    13 Antreas FB 209301968 10165620556005387 5396067659870162191 n

    14 Antreas 1st sgt Barfield FB 209732092 10165620519445387 3552702537876586144 n









    12 1 Strobel 15 freefall







    Pictured above left: Paratroopers board a C-17 Globemaster III on Fort Bragg on April 13. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hannah Strobel)

    Pictured above right: Special Operations soldiers conduct free fall training in the sky above Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. (File photo courtesy JFK Special Warfare Center and School)

  • 06 PCS StockSummer is here and for many associated with the military, it means PCS season, or Permanent Change of Station. Fort Bragg is offering multiple resources for military families to assist them with their moves.

    “A PCS is part of the military life and takes place when orders are received for a longer-term assignment usually lasting two to four years, depending on the situation,” said Elvia Kelly, Fort Bragg Garrison Public Affairs Office. “PCS season is common during the summer but can take place at any time.”

    The Army has implemented a 24/7 hotline that provides answers for PCS-related questions that families or individuals can use and reach by calling 833-645-6683.

    “When orders are received, soldiers can begin planning their move by creating an account in the Defense Personal Property System followed by visiting the transportation office to schedule their move,” she said.
    Service members and families that receive orders for a PCS, can find more information in a variety of ways:-Visit the DOD Customer Moving Portal at https://move.mil/
    -Visit the Military OneSource website https://www.militaryonesource.mil/moving-housing/
    -Defense Personal Property System at https://dps.move.mil/cust/standard/user/home.xhtml
    -Downloading informative Army-approved apps on their smart phone such as Army PCS Move, Digital Garrison and PCS My POV App are available for free download in Google Play and Apple Store
    -Contact Fort Bragg’s local customer call center at 910-396-5212 or 910-396-2163.

    “If a soldier's shipment of household goods is not delivered on time or they have experienced other issues, they can file a claim through the Defense Personal Property System or by contacting their transportation service provider,” Kelly said.

    “Soldiers have 180-days to file a claim after delivery.”

    Fort Bragg is trying to spread the message and awareness on available resources for PCS moves to help military families move smoothly to their next duty station. Current challenges the military community maybe facing with moving have been linked to the COVID-19 resource shortages and the current housing market conditions.

    “We have been planning and addressing the PCS summer surge season holistically. This includes assessing options when issuing PCS orders, managing movement of household goods, facilitating housing at receiving installations, and assisting families with childcare,” Kelly mentioned.

    Some of the PCS improvements soldiers and their families can expect to experience, according to the Army, are:
    -Receiving their orders 120 days before report dates to enable better scheduling
    -An increased claim notification deadline of 180 days after delivery of household goods
    -Personally procured moves, formally known as DITY moves, reimbursement increased to 100% of what it would have cost the government to use an industry provider

    “Soldier and Families are our priority and our greatest strength,” said Kelly. “Our goal is to inform and share the resources available to them during the PCS move in an effort to streamline the process and help set them up for success.”

    Pictured above: Many military troops and families are moving into and out of the local area this summer as PCS season hits its peak. (Photo courtesy Fort Bragg Garrison PAO)

  • 03 Bill Crisp Senior Center 21The man outwardly most admired by his colleagues on the Fayetteville City Council has been laid to rest. Six-term Councilman Bill Crisp died last week at the age of 81. Crisp was first elected in November 2007, to represent District 6 in west Fayetteville. He served for 12 years and chose to retire in 2019.

    “He was a true role model and a servant to his country and his community,” said Mayor Mitch Colvin. Crisp was arguably closest in city government to District 1 council member Kathy Jensen who currently serves as mayor pro-tem. “God took away my daddy 20 some years ago but he gave me Bill Crisp,” Jensen said at the recent ground-breaking of the west Fayetteville senior center which was named in Crisp’s honor. City flags at City Hall, Fayetteville fire stations and recreation centers were lowered to half-staff as a tribute to Crisp’s service.

    Crisp served in the U.S. Army for 27 years and retired as a command sergeant major. He was married to his childhood sweetheart, Joan Boyd Crisp, for 61 years. They met in elementary school and raised four children, William L., Sylvia D., and twins Sonja E. and Winston B.

    Pictured above: Bill Crisp is surrounded by members of the City Council in this file photo from the groundbreaking ceremony of a new senior center named in his honor. (Photo courtesy City of Fayetteville)

  • 21 SFParachute team 02The Special Forces Association Parachute Team was originally formed as the Green Beret Sport Parachute Club in 1961. The team is now a non-profit organization that shares the heritage of the Special Forces Regiment and works to highlight the service and sacrifices of military personnel and their families.

    The team consists of active duty and retired military and includes Department of Defense support elements. The SFA Parachute Team maintains a nucleus of professional parachutists who perform free fall parachute demonstrations in support of local and national venues such as celebrations, sports events and holidays. Some venues include the Great American Shoot Skeet, Carolina Panthers football games and NASCAR events.

    The team works closely with other non-profit organizations such as Special Forces Charitable Trust, Green Beret Foundation, Low Country Foundation for Wounded Military Heroes and Upstate Warriors.

    Team members say their participation in public events and their tandem jumps help remind veterans and first responders that they are still valued members of society. The SFA Parachute Team relies on sponsorships for equipment purchases and tandem experiences for Wounded Warriors.

    “Sometimes soldiers come back from deployment either physically wounded or they are experiencing wounds we can’t see. They sometimes feel forgotten or like they have no purpose in this world now that they are impaired or broken. So, my team, we strap them to tandem and remind them that they are important and still have that type A personality,” said Stanley “Bo” Kinnison, a member of the team since 1999.

    Kinnison, who has 3525 jumps, said training is a crucial step for the men and women who jump on the team.

    Once accepted on the team, Kinnison said a jumper will receive additional training that will build on the skills taught in either the Army’s Basic Airborne Course or the Military Free Fall Course. As parachutists have undoubtedly gained proficiency during their active jump status time in the military, Kinnison said additional training once on the SFA Parachute Team will increase overall proficiency.

    Training for the team includes night jumps, water jumps, smoke jumps and flag jumps, as well as multiple accuracy jumps. Accuracy is something that is practiced in almost every jump, but accuracy jumps for a demonstration team require a parachutist to land in a specific area — usually within a 30-foot circle.

    For more information on the SFA Parachute Team visit http://sfapt.net/.

    Pictured below left: Bill, holding football, and Brenda Gatter finish a demonstration jump. The team also conducts tandem jumps with Wounded Warriors. (Photos courtesy Special Forces Association Parachute Team)

    18 Bill Brenda 19 SFPT Litthograph

  • 10 5790754115 c4315f7cc3 oFayetteville’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. Since its opening in August 2000, the museum has been visited by nearly 3 million visitors, according to Museum Foundation Executive Director Renee Lane.

    She noted the occasion is “vastly different than we had planned.”

    There are no flags around Iron Mike to welcome visitors and no music, food trucks or parachute jumps because of COVID-19. “We are celebrating virtually... in the last few weeks, we provided many memorable moments on social media from when construction started right down to the ribbon-cutting ceremony 20 years ago.” The facility has been closed since March. “Sustaining our mission without visitors has strained us financially,” Lane said.

  • 19 N2005P70004HCOVID-19 test collection is set to expand in Cumberland County.

    The Health Department will continue test collection by appointment on Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Manna Church (5517 Cliffdale Rd., Fayetteville) and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Southview Baptist Church (4089 Elk Rd., Hope Mills).

    Expanded test collection sites begin Aug. 27:

    • Aug. 27; Sept. 3; Oct. 8 and 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tabernacle of Miracles, 2574 Hope Mills Rd., Fayetteville
    • Sept. 10 and 17; Oct. 22 and 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Second Missionary Baptist Church, 522 Old Wilmington Rd., Fayetteville

    To protect the health and safety of staff and clients, test collection is by drive-up appointment only. Walk-ins cannot be accommodated at this time.
    Testing is free.

    Please do not call offsite testing locations for assistance. The Health Department has a dedicated COVID-19 hotline ready to assist. Call 910-678-7657 or you can make an appointment online at co.cumberland.nc.us/covid19

    The Cumberland County Department of Public Health will now report COVID-19 data on Tuesdays and Fridays in press release form, but daily updates will continue to be available on the Cumberland County COVID-19 Dashboard.

    As of Aug. 20, the total COVID-19 confirmed cases for Cumberland County is 3,528 with 61 deaths. The NC state number of confirmed cases is 147,432 with 2,438 deaths.
    In the previous week, there was one additional death in the county.

    According to the Department of Public Health, the resident who died was in their 70s, lived in a congregate living setting and had underlying health conditions.

    To stay updated on the latest information about COVID-19 visit the county COVID-19 webpage at https://www.co.cumberland.nc.us/covid19.

    The site has a list of COVID-19 related closures, service changes and other information. The county is also sharing information on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

  • 11 N2004P64022CMore than 4 million North Carolinans are missing from the 2020 census. Major media reports have emphasized a low census count could put billions in federal dollars at risk.

    But it also could keep North Carolina from gaining a congressional seat.

    The census count, done every 10 years, helps determine how federal money is allocated to communities. It also determines representation in Congress. North Carolina’s population has grown by nearly 1 million people over the past decade. But if census takers don’t count them, the people parceling out congressional districts won’t know they’re here.

    Each state gets at least one of the 435 seats in the U.S. House. The other 385 are divided mainly by population. Fast-growing states can pluck congressional seats from states losing people.

    North Carolina should get a 14th district. We have about 10.6 million people, roughly 100,000 fewer than Georgia, which has 14 congressional seats. But Michigan — population 10 million — is expected to lose one of its 14 congressional seats.

    If North Carolina’s census count comes in at or below Michigan’s, the 14th U.S. representative so many have anticipated could go to another state. Perhaps Montana, which has 1.1 million people but only one congressional seat.

    Carolina Demography, a UNC Chapel Hill center focusing on data collection, found North Carolina’s census response is ranked 35th in the U.S. As of Aug. 2, only 59% of N.C. households have responded — compared to 63% nationally.

    The census is in a major time crunch, behind schedule even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, the count was to finish by the end of July, but the U.S. Census Bureau pushed the deadline to Oct. 31.

    The COVID-19 outbreak worsened during a critical collection period, when workers were going door-to-door to collect data from people who failed to report. Field operations were temporarily suspended, once again setting back the census collection.

    The bureau had asked Congress for an extension to April 30, 2021, to deliver the preliminary results, but has since contradicted that request. The bureau quietly moved up the collection date from Oct. 31 to Sept. 30, giving census workers even less time to complete the count.

    The Democrat-led U.S. House passed a bill extending the census deadline. But the Senate, which holds a Republican majority, shows no interest in taking up the measure.
    Partisan interests are driving the divide on extending the census count, said Andy Taylor, a political science professor at N.C. State University.

    “Historically, it has been more difficult to count the kinds of people who you would think would support Democrats,” Taylor said.

    The hard-to-count group includes lower-income people, racial and ethnic minorities and transients, who tend to be overrepresented in bluer states and jurisdictions, Taylor said.

    “If you give a blue state a congressional district it is more likely to end up having a Democrat representing it than a Republican,” Taylor said.

    One factor helping North Carolina is its large military presence, writes Rebecca Tippett, who heads Carolina Demography. In an article for MarketWatch, Tippett says the census once listed overseas military members’ home states as their census addresses. But in 2018, the Census Bureau changed the rule. Military members temporarily deployed overseas will be counted in the state where they’re stationed rather than their home state.

    Had that rule been in effect for the 2010 census, North Carolina would have added a 14th congressional district, Roll Call reported.

    Another political split has emerged over whether the census should include people living illegally in the U.S.

    The Trump administration doesn’t want to include illegal immigrants in the census. Trump released a memo July 21 calling to exclude the group from the official count, NPR reported. Civil rights groups are prepared to challenge the move in court.

    Some states — including Texas, Florida, and California — would gain more congressional seats if undocumented people aren’t counted, according to research by the Pew Research Center, said David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College.

    If illegal immigrants were counted, Alabama, Ohio, and Minnesota wouldn’t gain seats.

    “Since undocumented people are the hardest population to get an accurate count on, Republicans are pushing to have less time for the door-to-door counting and to not count undocumented in the final apportionment totals,” McLennan said.

    Democrats want a longer counting period including more undocumented people, because it would cost traditionally Republican states House seats, McLennan said.

    North Carolina’s red-blue split shouldn’t be affected by the debate over counting illegal immigrants, but a significant undercount would have consequences for federal money and a new congressional seat.

    “That is a possibility with a shortened time period and the fact that North Carolina has one of the lowest response rates in the country,” McLennan said.
    Nonprofits are working overtime to get more people to respond.

    “This definitely lights the fire under us and others across the state to make sure we are getting the word out and making a really strong call to action to complete the census,” Brandy Bynum Dawson, the director of advocacy at the N.C. Rural Center. Dawson is leading the Center’s Rural Counts advocacy program, which aims to improve the census response rate in rural areas.

    N.C. Rural Center and the NC Counts Coalition are among the groups working to make the count more accurate.

    “Any organization that has a trusted relationship with communities that are often undercounted in the census operation can be effective, trusted messengers,” said Stacey Carless, executive director of NC Counts Coalition.

    “Churches can share the message about the census with their congregation through church announcements or by taking 10 minutes during service to encourage participation,” Carless said. “Food banks can encourage participation by providing census literature with food distributions.”

    A number of barriers stand in the way of an accurate count. A lack of broadband access in remote areas is one. Some of the lowest response rates in North Carolina overlap with lack of internet access, Carolina Demography found. Areas where officials were forced to suspend field operations because of COVID-19 also overlap with low response rates.

    Rural counties, such as Graham, Avery, Cherokee and Watauga, have some of the worst response rates to the census. The pandemic didn’t help.

    “We had to revise and pivot ourselves to a new strategy, which was a lot online and utilizing social media as much as possible,” Dawson said.

    North Carolina’s political parties aren’t involved with the outreach effort. The N.C. Republican Party plays no part in the census count, Tim Wigginton, the N.C. GOP press secretary, told Carolina Journal. The N.C. Democratic Party didn’t respond to an email from CJ asking about its involvement with the census count.

  • 20 open door businessThe Department of Commerce is accepting applications for the Job Retention Grant Program through the agency’s website for businesses and nonprofit organizations in North Carolina that have experienced interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The application deadline is Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 11:59 p.m. No applications will be accepted after that time.

    To qualify for a grant award up to $250,000, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, which include:
    • The applicant cannot have participated in the federal Paycheck Protection Program, the federal Main Street Loan Program or the state Rapid Recovery Loan Program.
    • The applicant must have maintained at least 90% of the number of full-time employees in North Carolina at the end of June 2020 as it did at the end of February 2020.
    • The applicant must have had a reduction in sales (in the case of a for-profit business) or receipts (for nonprofits) of more than 10% when comparing March-May 2020 to March-May 2019 levels.

    The Department plans to award grants by early October. All grantees will have to comply with federal and state reporting requirements as a condition of the grant.
    More information about the Job Retention Grant Program, including access to the program’s online application form, can be found at the Department of Commerce website at nccommerce.com/jrg.

  • 18 N1212P15011HThe Health Department encourages those who are enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children to use their food benefits during COVID-19 to support good nutrition for their families.

    Some of the WIC beneficiaries in North Carolina have not used their full food benefits each month since March 27, when the state’s initial Stay at Home Order in response to COVID-19 went into effect. Because WIC allowances do not roll over, beneficiaries lose any food balance they do not spend during a family issue month.

    North Carolina serves more than 230,000 mothers and children in the program. The Cumberland County program serves 11,500.

    WIC participants receive nutrition education, supplemental foods, breastfeeding support and referrals to community and health agencies to improve their diets and reduce their chances of health problems caused by poor nutrition.

    WIC food allowances are auto-issued each month. Families enrolled in WIC can download the Bnft® App, available in the App Store or on Google Play, and enable notifications to ensure they never miss an update to their eWIC account.

    If you or someone you know has been financially affected by recent events and is pregnant are has children younger than 5, WIC is accepting applications to help provide healthy foods and other resources. Eligible families, dads, grandparents and foster parents caring for eligible children should contact WIC at 910-433-3730 to enroll. The WIC offices in Fayetteville and Spring Lake are open by appointment only. The Hope Mills WIC office remains closed to the public but is conducting appointments over the phone at 910-433-3760.
    For more information on the WIC program, eligibility and benefits visit http://www.co.cumberland.nc.us/departments/public-health-group/public-health/WIC.

  • 09 N1911P30005CA new Pentagon report says thousands of troops and family members may not have access to mental health care through their military or civilian health care providers. The Defense Department Inspector General found patients seeking outpatient mental health treatment often experienced delays or never obtained care at all due to inconsistencies in standards, staffing and other shortcomings in the military’s health system.

    In 2017, almost 14% of troops, or just over 200,000, were diagnosed with mental health disorders. The report said delays in getting service members care could affect readiness. Auditors examined appointment booking and referral data at 13 military treatment facilities from December 2018 to June 2019. The inspector general’s office said an average of 53% of service members and their families served by Tricare in the United States did not receive mental health care after getting referrals. Health officials in charge of tracking their care could not say why, the IG said.

    The Defense Health Agency agreed to develop a single systemwide staffing approach that estimates the number of appointments and personnel required to meet the demand for mental health. The agency will also establish a standard process for mental health assessments tailored to patients’ needs, officials said in their response.

  • 03 Market House in Fayetteville NCWe Americans continue to find ourselves in all sorts of distress, some of it acute and some of it as President Jimmy Carter famously said, a “malaise.” The pandemic has upended life as we knew it for millions of all ages, and the sadness, fury and national reckoning following George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparks ongoing peaceful protests across the country and, in some instances, unlawful violence and destruction. In short, many of us feel unmoored and on edge politically and culturally. For many, no safe harbor appears on the horizon.

    Which brings us to the Market House in downtown Fayetteville.

    As a Fayetteville native, the Market House has been part of the landscape all my life. For people who come to our community later in their lives, it must be a curiosity, a relic modeled on the traditional English town hall. History records that the Market House was used primarily by local and area vendors to sell farm produce, meats and other goods in the open arcaded area. Enclosed meeting space above provided a gathering space. Although several Southern port cities such as Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, created designated slave markets, that was not the purpose of the Fayetteville Market House.

    That said, human beings whose ancestors were captured in Africa and brought to this country against their will were indeed sold on the site of Fayetteville’s Market House. It did not happen every day, but it did happen. A 1989 plaque approved by Fayetteville City Council members and erected in the building’s arcade memorializes the human beings who were sold there. The cold hard fact of those sales is what brought out protestors in recent weeks and precipitated vandalism at the site.

    So, what now?

    Some have called for razing the building, the only local structure designated a National Landmark, and others call for finding a commemorative purpose for it. Razing makes no sense to me. Doing so would not take away the stain that resides there, any more than razing Nazi concentration camps in Europe would make the Holocaust not real. I fall into the repurposing camp. In my own memory, the Market House has been open to vehicular traffic, has housed a public library, art museum and several offices and hosted musical concerts and parades and various other activities.

    The first and primary challenge of any repurposing is to expand the memorial to those who were sold there with names and dates as far as are known. This memorial would become the focus of repurposing, central to whatever occurs at the Market House. Various ideas have been floated— a museum dedicated to local African American culture among them, and all proposals should be explored.

    The guiding principle as our community undergoes this process should be to memorialize the people who were subjected to Fayetteville’s role in our nation’s original sin.

  • 04 IMG 2831Things are a bit tough all over. Paragons of virtue are dropping like flies. The U.S. Post Office is being dismantled right before our very eyes to help Dear Leader’s re-election prospects. Remember the picture of Jerry Falwell Jr. on the yacht with one arm around the bare midriff of a Lady Friend and the other hand holding a drink? Neither Jerry nor Lady Friend can keep their pants zipped up for the photo. When having your picture made with a woman to whom you are not married, it is wise to have your pants zipped. Times change. It is bigly sad.

    Jerry’s picture reminded me of “The Second Coming,” a poem William Butler Yeats wrote: “Things fall apart: the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world; … The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” If we cannot rely on our religious leaders to put passionate intensity behind them and keep their pants zipped, we are in a heap of trouble.

    What with the ever-expanding death toll from The Rona, troubles in the streets, the stock market booming oblivious to the millions of Americans out of work who are worried about rent and being able to find their next meal, it all does not make sense. What’s it all about, Alfie? I tried to come up with a unified field theory of what it all means. Unfortunately, as Curly of the “Three Stooges” once said, “I tried to think, but nothing happened.”

    But if once you can’t think, try, try again. I decided to cipher it all out, as Barney Fife would say. Eureka! Edgar Allen Poe might have provided a clue in his poem “The Raven.”
    I stayed up late one night reading a TV Guide from the week of Oct. 17, 1965, hoping to find insight into today’s troubles. Just like in “The Raven,” the TV Guide spoke to me: “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary/ Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore/ While I nodded nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping, rapping at my chamber door.” The rapping came from the TV Guide. There is no lore more forgotten than a 1965 TV Guide.

    There were many celestially transcendent TV shows in October 1965. Was there a common thread that might make sense of what was missing in 2020? TV gave America “Get Smart,” starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart and the beautiful Barbara Feldon as Agent 99. I always had a crush on Agent 99, alas it was never reciprocated. Herman and Lilly Munster and Grandpa Al Lewis in “The Munsters” graced the black-and-white screens of America.

    “The Man from Uncle” with Illya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo — before he became a shill for a law firm in the 21st century — fought the evil international bad dudes of THRUSH. The most famous three-hour tour in history was in “Gilligan’s Island,” spawning endless hours of adolescent discussion of who was hotter: Ginger or Mary Ann. After Jed Clampett was out shooting for some food and up from the ground came a bubbling crude, oil that is, black gold, Texas Tea, the Clampetts moved to California to become the “Beverly Hillbillies.”

    Who can forget the episode when Miss Jane Hathaway bought Elly Mae her first bra? Being a country gal, Elly didn’t know what it was. She declared her delight at having what she thought was a double-barreled slingshot for hunting. Classic. That may have been the first time a bra appeared on network TV.

    The Space Family Robinson toured unknown galaxies in “Lost in Space,” with Lassie’s Mother June Lockheart as the original Mrs. Robinson, along with the semi-evil Dr. Zachary Smith, who was not someone you would want to supervise your children. The Robot frequently gave such excellent advice as “It does not compute” and “Danger Will Robinson!” particularly after Dr. Smith had been drinking. Oliver and Lisa Douglas said good-bye to city life and moved to Green Acres, where they encountered such bucolic characters as Mr. Haney and Arnold the Pig.

    “Bewitched” graced the tube, starring Samantha, the beautiful witch, who was married to her befuddled husband, Darrin Stephens. As a prototype male chauvinist pig, Darrin did not want Samantha to use her witch powers to make life easier by magically twitching her nose to complete household chores. He wanted her scrubbing the floors the old-fashioned way like a good suburban housewife. Darrin’s mother-in-law, Endora, was a real witch. Like a typical 1960s mother-in-law joke, Endora thought Darrin was not good enough for her daughter and delighted in turning him into various animals. Fun fact: There were two Darrins — the first was actor Dick York, and the second Darrin was Dick Sargent. No one on the show noticed when York turned into Sargent. Maybe Endora did it. We shall never know.

    So what does the 1965 TV Guide teach us about today? The common thread seemed to be spies, situational comedies on an uncharted desert isle, good-hearted monsters, suddenly wealthy country folks moving into the city, city folks moving into the country, dad’s who refuse to ask directions and get lost in space, and what happens when your wife turns out to be a real witch. My advice is to turn off the cable news and watch ME TV, where these shows live on forever and ever and ever. It was a kinder, gentler time. Now go find the remote.

  • 08 evanscharles1528Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans has been elected president of the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials. He was sworn in during the organization’s virtual meeting Aug. 15.

    “I am grateful and honored to be representing the citizens of Cumberland County on a state board, and I appreciate the vote of confidence by my peers on the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials board,” said Evans, who has also served as the second and first vice president for the organization.

    Evans was elected to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners as an at-large representative in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018. He served two terms on the Fayetteville City Council from 2005-2009. Evans was born in Fayetteville and attended Terry Sanford High School and Fayetteville Technical Community College. He is a disabled veteran.

    Pictured: Commissioner Charles Evans

  • 13 kyle head p6rNTdAPbuk unsplashThe Cape Fear Regional Theatre presents its new EduTAINMENT: After School Program that will run from Monday, Aug. 24, to Friday, Sept. 25, from 2:30–6:30 p.m. or 3:30–6:30 p.m. for kids ages 8-13.

    “Once we had to close down for COVID-19, we were trying to figure out how can we still be (part) of the community and (provide) the programming that they are used to getting from us,” said Ashley Owen, marketing director and education associate of Cape Fear Regional Theatre. “At the time we started our virtual EduTAINMENT classes — those were online classes taught by myself and our education director, Marc de la Concha.”
    Owen added that the theater offered supplemental classes that provided elementary and middle-school kids a safe, fun place to learn and engage with their peers over the course of the day.

    “Once Cumberland County Schools announced they were going to do the first five weeks of school virtual, all summer, we were coming up with all these different plans of what we could do,” said Owen. “Because we were doing our summer camps, we found that kids were missing the interpersonal connection with other kids their age because they have been at home for the last several months with their siblings or just with their families.”

    The Cape Fear Regional Theatre came up with the perfect program idea. “So we decided that an in-person after-school program would be really great and it would be a great way for parents to be able to drop their kids off somewhere (where parents) know they are safe, having fun and learning. And parents can get a little bit of time back in their day if they are working from home,” said Owen.

    “The groups are limited to no more than 12 kids, and they will social distance, wash their hands and wear face masks and face shields.”
    Owen added that the 8- to 9-year-old group will do a play called “Not-So-Grimm Tales” while also learning about the different variations of the fairy tales. The older kids will do an adaptation of a book.

    The theater will also offer Virtual EduTAINMENT online classes. “We are going to bring that original program back, and it will be once a week on Thursdays from 12:30-1:15 p.m.,” said Owen. “It will be for K-5 students and will take place from Aug. 27 through Sept. 24. The cost is $40 for the semester.”

    The cost of the EduTAINMENT After School program is $150 per week from 3:30–6:30 p.m., or $175 per week from 2:30–6:30 p.m. Students must register for all five weeks of the program.

    “We have a great reputation, and we wanted to provide a safe place for parents to send their kids,” said Owen. “This is just another way for us to reach out and give back to the community.”
    For additional information, call 910-323-4234.


  • 14 9781469653532Can any of North Carolina’s great roadside eateries and local joints survive the coronavirus?

    I have my doubts. So does UNC-Press. It has put the release of an updated and revised edition of my book, “North Carolina Roadside Eateries,” originally published in 2016, on hold indefinitely. We just do not know which of the more than 100 restaurants in the book will be in business when and if normal times returns. Nor do we know what the roadside restaurant business will be like in North Carolina after the worst of the coronavirus is over.

    Will we be able to explore places where locals gather for good food along North Carolina’s highways?

    In general, the forecast is not good. But there are bright spots. For instance Wilber’s, the legendary barbecue restaurant in Goldsboro, closed in March 2019 and was therefore not included in the revised “Roadside Eateries.” Last month Wilber’s reopened, at first only for curbside pickup. Thus, if the revised “Roadside Eateries” is ever published, Wilber’s will be in it.

    There is more good news. Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham, one of the places covered in the original “Roadside Eateries,” got an expanded description in the now postponed revised edition.

    It is the sort of joint that can make it through the pandemic. Because it is thriving, it might give a clue about what kinds of locally owned eateries and joints will be available to give us the experiences that “Roadside Eateries” celebrated.

    Here is some of what my editors and I wrote for the revised “Roadside Eateries.”

    Since the last edition of “Roadside Eateries,” Saltbox chef Ricky Moore has been just a little busy. Though he’s a busy man, don’t worry — he’s still at it, cooking incredible food for lucky locals.
    Now, Ricky’s success isn’t the least surprising. He’s been in the food business all his life. He grew up catching and cooking fish in eastern North Carolina. He cooked during his seven years in the Army, studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked at the fine Glasshalfull restaurant in Carrboro and as the opening executive chef at Giorgio’s in Cary.

    Moore explained to me that it’s not easy or cheap to get the best fish. He has to take into account that “the value is in the quality of fresh product we provide. Good, fresh seafood is not cheap, and the North Carolina fishermen deserve to get top dollar for their catch.”

    Hush-Honeys are Ricky’s version of the hushpuppy. They’re a little salty, a little spicy and a little sweet. They’re the perfect complement to the best seafood you’re liable to find anywhere, let alone in the middle of the Tar Heel State.

    Even if you are not able to visit Saltbox Seafood Joint for its mostly take out service, you can learn some of its secrets in a new cookbook published by UNC Press, “Saltbox Seafood Joint
    Cookbook.” Chef Ricky Moore tells his life story. He shares 60 favorite recipes and his wisdom about selecting, preparing, cooking, and serving North Carolina seafood. That includes how to pan-fry and deep-fry, grill and smoke, and prepare soups, chowders, stews and Moore’s special way of preparing grits and his popular Hush-Honeys.

    North Carolina’s cultural icon David Cecelski is the author of “A Historian’s Coast: Adventures into the Tidewater Past” and numerous other books and essays about our state’s coastal region. He gushes in his praise, “Chef Ricky Moore’s new cookbook is out and I think he’s written the finest seafood cookbook you’ve ever seen and probably ever will see if you’re like me and love the flavors of the North Carolina coast.”

    To learn how one restaurant owner is surviving the pandemic, visit Chef Ricky at the Saltbox as soon as you can. Until then, join Cecelski and me to celebrating Chef Ricky Moore’s success and enjoy trying the recipes in “Saltbox Seafood Joint Cookbook.”

  • 15 Labor Day guy works in storeMany people look forward to Labor Day weekend because it offers one last extended break to enjoy summer weather.

    Though summer does not officially end until September is nearly over, for many people Labor Day, which is celebrated annually on the first Monday in September, marks the unofficial end of summer.

    But Labor Day is more than just one final chance to embrace the relaxed vibe of summer and soak up some rays.

    In fact, Labor Day boasts a unique history that’s worth celebrating for a variety of reasons.

    The United States Department of Labor notes that Labor Day is a celebration of American workers that dates back to the 19th century.

    The day is meant to commemorate the contributions workers in the United States have made to the nation, helping to make it one of the strongest and most prosperous countries in the world.

    Despite the fact that municipal legislation surrounding Labor Day was initially introduced in the 1880s, debate remains as to just who should be credited with proposing a day to honor American workers.

    Some records suggest that Peter J. McGuire, who served as general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and cofounded the American Federation of Labor, deserves the credit for Labor Day.

    However, the Department of Labor notes that many people believe a machinist named Matthew Maguire (no relation to Peter) was the first to propose a holiday honoring workers in 1882.

    At that time, Maguire was serving as secretary of New York’s Central Labor Union, which later adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

    The first Labor Day was ultimately celebrated in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in accordance with the plans made by the Central Labor Union, which strongly suggests that Maguire does, in fact, deserve the credit for coming up with the holiday.

    Labor Day is worth celebrating because, without the contributions of millions of workers every year, the United States would not be the success story it is and has been for more than 200 years.

    In addition to the United States, many countries across the globe, including Canada and Australia, have their own versions of Labor Day.

    Labor Day weekend is often dominated by backyard barbeques and trips to the beach. With social distancing in the coronavirus era, this Labor Day weekend celebrants and workers should remember that Labor Day can be a time to reflect on the value of hard work.

    Those who want to be more in touch with the meaning behind the holiday can look for additional ways to celebrate it.

    Research local industry and shop local when possible. Giving your business to a locally owned store increases the investment back into your lcoal economy.

    While many people are off on Labor Day, essential workers may not be. Bring lunch to a police station or firehouse, or simply thank workers you come across, such as grocery store employees, for doing their jobs.

    Active military who are deployed may be missing home, especially during national holidays. Send a care package to them that they can enjoy overseas.
    Purchase items made domestically to support national industry.

    Bosses can reach out to employees with words of praise and encouragement. Too often employees are told what they need to improve rather than what they are doing right. A few words of gratitude can buoy spirits.

    Employers can start the three-day weekend early by enabling workers to leave a few hours early on the Friday preceding the holiday weekend.

  • 12 118177103 432587117644838 3706817023638084716 nNorth Carolina consistently ranks within the top ten states for most reported human trafficking cases, according to the NC Human Trafficking Commission. In 2019, there were 713 charges of human trafficking and other offenses of a similar nature across the state.

    According to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, 28 of those charges last year are from cases in Cumberland County. So far in 2020, the Sheriff’s Department has investigated 21 cases through the end of July.

    Just last week, Sheriff’s Deputies arrested a Fayetteville woman charging her with sex crimes involving human trafficking and promoting prostitution of a minor. The woman allegedly used drugs to coerce the child to perform sex acts.

    To bring awareness to the on-going issue, local advocates Sabrina Paul and Emily Dean organized a local Human Trafficking March scheduled for 5–7 p.m. on Aug. 29. The march will begin and end at the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department at 131 Dick St. in Fayetteville.

    “We are trying to raise awareness on how prevalent human trafficking and pedophilia really is,” Dean said. “Fayetteville is a hub for human trafficking because it’s a halfway point between Miami and New York. It serves as a drop off point, where exchanges are made. A lot of people just don’t know about it.”

    According to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, from 2015 to the end of July this year, there have been 254 cases in the county resulting in 83 misdemeanor charges and 153 felony charges.

    New York, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Charlotte are all considered major east coast hubs for human trafficking. These cities are connected by interstates which facilitate the movement of human trafficking victims. The geographic location of North Carolina contributes to the high number of victims and survivors living in the state.

    In January, Governor Roy Cooper issued a proclamation declaring it Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The proclamation said that although awareness is growing, human trafficking continues to go unreported or underreported in part due to its isolating nature, the misunderstanding of its definition and victim fears of coming forward.

    Under federal and North Carolina law, human trafficking includes minors involved in any commercial sexual activity; adults induced into commercial sexual activity through force, fraud, or coercion; and children and adults induced to perform labor or services through force, fraud or coercion.

    “No little girl or boy has the dream of ‘I want to grow up and sell my body,’” said Sgt. Patrice Bogertey.

    Now a Public Information Officer with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Bogertey previously worked in major crimes and the human trafficking unit.

    “It’s hard to get victims to go forward in trial,” she said. “Prosecution takes so long.”

    Bogertey added that the stigma of being a sexual assault victim coupled with the agony of retelling their story can take its toll on survivors of human trafficking.

    “It’s hard enough to tell a detective, but then to have to go to court, and now they have to talk about it in a court room,” Bogertey said. “It’s embarrassing for victims, it shames the victim.”

    The stigma is compounded by the fact that many victims are forced into drug dependency by their captors and forced to participate in other crimes, she said.

    Bogertey said an organized march is a great idea to raise awareness.

    “The public as a whole has to pay attention, to start watching for signs,” she said.

    March organizers Dean and Paul were moved to organize the event to raise awareness, but also said they hope to encourage victim advocacy and influence lawmakers to make penalties for traffickers more severe.

    The event will begin with featured speaker Beverly Weeks, the executive director of Cry Freedom Missions, a non-profit organization fighting to eradicate sex trafficking. After the march through downtown, a few survivors of human trafficking will be given an opportunity to speak. Organizers have also invited local officials to attend the event.

    “Our goal is to create awareness first,” Paul said. “The long-term goal is to stop this [human trafficking] and shut down organizations trying to normalize pedophilia.”

    “ We hope for change in the long run.”

    If you would like to report information about a trafficking situation, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline: Call 1-888-373-7888 or Text 233733. Anti-trafficking advocates are available 24/7 to receive tips about potential trafficking situations and connect survivors of trafficking to services and support. All reports are confidential and callers can choose to remain anonymous.

  • 07 Rep John SzokaState Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, has been chosen to co-chair the House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement, and Justice. The committee is comprised of legislators and various members of the public.

    “It will examine North Carolina’s criminal justice systems to propose methods of improving police training and relations between law enforcement and its communities,” Szoka said. “I am... eager to work with my team to identify policy reforms that help overcome discrimination, excessive force, and corruption in the North Carolina criminal justice system.”

    Sixteen members of the North Carolina House of Representatives, including Elmer Floyd and Billy Richardson of Fayetteville, will serve on the committee. Thirteen others have been named to the group, including Cumberland County district attorney Billy West.
    Pictured: Rep. John Szoka

  • 02 pub pen book coverThe debate raging over the future of the Market House in our great city of Fayetteville is not diminishing anytime soon. It is and has always been a historic landmark of controversy. However, the iniquitous attention it is receiving now has been conjured up from the revival of decades-old misinformation that the building was a designated slave market. This is not true.

    Even after countless documents of North Carolina historical data on the Market House confirmed that enslaved negros during that period in history were considered property and sold or auctioned as part of private estates. Ignoring these facts seems to be an inconvenient truth as well as an excuse and flashpoint for rioters, hostile protesters and anarchists. Personal sentiments and opinions do not alter the facts.

    In this edition, Margaret Dickson, a lifelong resident of Fayetteville and, successful businesswoman, former Democratic senator and state representative, shares her thoughts, concerns and heartfelt sentiments about this topic in her article “What about the Market House?” on page 5. Not only does she make a compelling argument for repurposing this historic building but “ … to memorialize the people who were subjected to Fayetteville’s role in our nation’s original sin.”

    I was at the dedication ceremony she mentioned in 1989 when Fayetteville unveiled the City Council’s plaque recognizing and honoring the human beings sold there. W.T. Brown, a local educator, statesmen and respected community leader, gave the most elegant and compelling speech. It left the entire audience united, resolved and committed to live and work together for the betterment of the Fayetteville community and for the prosperity of future generations.

    Facts are facts, and history is just that — history. This brings me to the subject of a wonderful and factual resource document brought to my attention recently by a longtime Fayetteville resident, friend, historian, show promoter, genealogist, realtor, pewterer and pottery expert, Mr. Quincey Scarborough. Given the negative attention the Market House was receiving, Quincey brought by my office this book titled “The Market House of Fayetteville, North Carolina.” It was written by Patricia Ann Leahy, in 1976, when she was teaching at Fayetteville State University. This small but insightful book was written basically to dispel the notion the Market House was a slave market and to put it and Fayetteville into a relevant historical perspective. It is excellent.

    Leahy tells Fayetteville’s story from the arrival and struggles of the Highland Scots in 1732 to the establishment of Campbellton and Cross Creek to the merging of both settlements in 1783 into the town of Fayetteville. Utilizing meticulous research and an impressive bibliography, maps, schematics, historic artwork and photos, original documents/letters and newspaper articles, ads and letters to the editor, Leahy made two points crystal clear in only 32 pages. First, the Market House was a legitimate historic landmark that did sell slaves but was never a slave market. Second, the controversy over the Market House and the arguments generating from it today are exactly the same as those that existed in 1976 when her book was first published. Read it for yourself. Barnes & Nobles has it available now as part of the NOOK selection for only $5. BN ID. 2940158564031. Author: Patricia Ann Leahy, Caron Lazar

    On a personal note: Until Mr. Scarborough made me aware of Leahy’s book, I had no idea about her credentials. I met and became friends with Pat Leahy in the early ‘90s through her civic contributions, dedication and involvement with the Fayetteville Museum of Art and all aspects of the Fayetteville cultural community. She had a wonderful and joyful personality and, for years, hosted some of the most fun and outrageous Halloween parties in her home. I want to thank Mr. Scarborough for his support and for bringing this to my attention.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly and for your support of our local newspaper. I appreciate the calls, emails and text messages of encouragement we have received during these trying times. However, I assure you everyone here at UCW is dedicated and committed to supporting the Fayetteville, Fort. Bragg and Cumberland County communities and to continuing to accentuate our unique amenities and quality of life.

  • “The happiness of America is intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind; she is destined to become the safe and venerable asylum of virtue, of honesty, of tolerance, and quality and of peaceful liberty.”
    — Fayetteville’s namesake, Marquis de Lafayette

    In the late 1770s, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the marquis de Lafayette —called Gilbert by his friends — was about as All-American as one could get. Well, except that he was French, and America’s existence was still up for debate as it was still fighting for its freedom from British rule. Lafayette is Fayetteville’s namesake. This the only town named for him that he ever visited. He defied French royalty and fought side by side with Gen. George Washington, who later became America’s first president. Lafayette spent most of his personal fortune on the American cause and used his brilliant leadership skills to help lead American patriots to victory.

    Each year, The Lafayette Society tips its hat to this French nobleman, who loved freedom and championed human dignity, with a birthday celebration — complete with cake and ice cream. The 2020 festivities are set for Sept. 3, 10, 11, 12 and will be virtual except for the downtown sidewalk sale — along with cake and ice cream — on Saturday, Sept. 12. To keep everything COVID-19 safe, the cake will be prepackaged Little Debbie cakes.

    Artifacts and Arias has been a mainstay event at the Lafayette birthday celebration for about 14 years. This year, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County joins the party as the French concert kicks off the festivities Sept. 3 with Hay Street Live, the Art’s Council’s bi-monthly virtual concert and entertainment venue. The shows a streamed via Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/TheArtsCouncilFAY/.

    Dr. Gail Morfesis leads the entertainment portion of Hay Street Live with what she calls an informance. It is in a “Name that Tune” format. “In the past, we would play something like the song from ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,’ and people didn’t realize it was a French tune,” said Morfesis. “Last year, we used an Elvis Presley song based on a French song, and I sang for them the original French version.”

    During this segment, viewers will be encouraged to write in and guess what the tune is.

    Local artists are always prominent in the event, too. “This year I have a young person who I hope will play a violin piece,” Morfesis said. “He was in our concert five or six years ago and people loved him. We are also going to have an excerpt by the Thiriot family. … They are doing some French tunes and possibly a jazz number.”

    Morfesis will also perform a French duet with Russian soprano Alina Cherkasova. Bella Venti, a woodwind quintet, will perform a piece with a piano.

    “All pieces will be under five minutes long,” Morfesis said. “We want people to not be bored.”

    For the cocktail portion, Morfesis invited Ann Highsmith to be the host. “Our drink is the Highsmith mimosa,” Morfesis said. “Ann and the Arts Council’s Metoya Scott will do the drink for the evening. We will also have a Lafayette impersonator who will taste the cocktail and contribute do some of the spots. This is a variety show, so there is something new every two or three minutes.”

    The French connection is an integral part of the performance as well. It is usually a piece written by an American who was somehow connected to France.
    Join Director Emerita of Special Collections & College Archives at Lafayette College Diane Shaw as she speaks about Lafayette’s passion for human rights and the betterment of mankind. While many know of his contributions to the American Revolution, not everyone knows the depth of his passion for humankind. Visit https://www.youtube.com/user/faytechcc to view the speech Sept. 10, at 2 p.m., or any time afterward at https://www.lafayettesociety.org/.

    “My desire is for people to know Lafayette in a broader sense,” said Shaw. “His great return visit in 1824/25, when he visited every state in the union … was remarkable and underscored his support of African Americans and their issues. I will be talking about how Lafayette first become an abolitionist and his experiment in South America and what happed on the tour. And about all his best friends who had slaves — like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. And the gestures he made during that tour to African Americans. American Blacks knew Lafayette was their friend.

    “I am going to go further than talking about anti-slavery and talk about other human rights. Lafayette helped gain rights for French Protestants and voting right for French Jews. … He was a friend to Native Americans, and he did a lot for them. Lafayette admired women and their intellect. He supported women reformers. He was against the death penalty and solitary confinement as well. I would like people to know him as more than the French hero of the American Revolution.”

    A lot has changed since Lafayette worked so hard to make the world a better place. There is still room to keep improving, though. “I think Lafayette would have a lot to say about the state of America today and what is needed,” said Shaw. “In 1777, he had a vision for American that we would do well to adhere to today.

    Another favorite of the birthday celebration is the Lafayette tour. Explore five significant stops in and around downtown Fayetteville via video and learn more about Lafayette as well as Fayetteville’s history.

    The first stop is the Person Street bridge. It was the first bridge across the Cape Fear River. Learn some of the fun facts about its history. For example, it was a toll bridge — it was 2.5 cents to bring a sheep or a hog across. If you walked across, it was a nickel, but if you were on a horse, it was a dime. The fee for a carriage was 75 cents. Lafayette crossed in a carriage but didn’t pay a cent to cross. Catch the whole story here.

    Next is the Liberty Point building. “We will cover the Liberty Point Resolves,” said Mike Samperton, one of the guides. “We will focus on the monument and a marker there that highlights the three names of Fayetteville.” Here, the tour covers Lafayette’s relation to the building as well as how the fair city nearly become known by a different moniker.
    The next stop is Cross Creek Cemetery. “I will highlight four American Revolution vets buried there,” Samperton said. “We will also talk a little about Cool Spring Tavern. It was built in 1788, and all the VIPS stayed there the next year when we ratified the Constitution.”

    Next up is city hall, which has the Lafayette bust. “We will highlight our relationship with our sister city — St. Avold France,” said Samperton. He also noted that just as Fort Bragg is being scrutinized for its namesake, Cumberland County had a similar issue in its past. It was actually called Fayette County for six months. Learn more about it on the tour.
    The last stop is the Lafayette statue.

    Visit https://www.lafayettesociety.org/ for more information about the events or about The Lafayette Society.

    Pictures: (Top to bottom) The Thiriot family will perform on Sept. 3 at the French concert during Hay Street Live.  Diane Shaw (in red) speaking to Fayetteville State University students. Clarendon Bridge is now known as Person Street Bridge.










    01 02 D SHAW LECTURE 3










    01 03 IMG 1168

  • 17 N2007P18007HDuring and after the Industrial Revolution, mass-production manufacturing was birthed and nurtured to provide the large quantities of increasingly complex devices and machines required by a burgeoning population and mechanized society.

    Techniques of scale were developed to harness the investment of money, materials and personnel to achieve the goal of mass-producing effectively in cost and time.

    As successful as this revolution was in meeting the new demands of society, industrialization required a shift from the individualized output of artisans to the standardized output of factories.

    It also necessitated the construction of concentrated plants to the detriment of distributed cottages — two outcomes that are ill-suited to the adaptability required during sudden and massive crises, such as the unpredicted onslaught of COVID-19.

    Enter 3D printing. Three years ago, I realized the potential of 3D printing to recapture the lost benefits of artisanship and cottage industry: the ability to make just what you need, when you need it and where you need it.

    When global transportation is impeded, all the high-tech factories of the world are of little value, and citizens must return to the time-honored traditions of local production.
    3D printing, while still in its natal stages, provides a pathway to local production-on-demand better and faster than ever before.

    Fortunately, Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Simulation and Game Development department already had a functioning 3D printing lab when COVID-19 first threatened society and the modern supply chain that underpins it.

    As everyone is painfully aware, an unprecedented demand for protective face masks in the pandemic’s wake quickly led to such a complete dearth of this relatively simple piece of gear that the entire medical response to COVID-19 was imperiled.

    While anyone can fashion a mask of basic materials, medical personnel require a more standardized and effective device.

    The members of my department were quick to respond and create, and the FTCC administration quick to endorse, a start-up mask production facility utilizing the equipment of our 3D printing lab.

    What these dedicated faculty accomplished with no preparation is impressive.

    We began reading about attempts to print PPE for front-line medical workers and went through dozens of designs and assembly routines, partnering with the Fayetteville Police Department and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center to ensure the most effective design possible.

    Eventually, we came up with something that was quick to print, effective at preventing viral penetration and doable on our improvised assembly line.

    We assembled approximately 700 masks and face shield supports, along with a thousand strap holders to relieve ear strain from constant mask wear.

    We were able to get each mask to print in just over an hour. We had 10 printers printing 24/7. We peaked at around 75 masks per day, plus other items such as inserts, strap holders and
    face shields.

    In the end, we donated printed gear to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, local essential workers, and students, faculty and staff on campus.

    The masks can theoretically be worn indefinitely, as long as they are properly sanitized after usage.

    Learn more about the exciting Simulation and Game Development program at FTCC at faytechcc.edu. Fall eight-week classes begin Oct.15.

  • 05 chemours signChoices have consequences! As a dad, grandpa and great-grandpa, I have always taught my children and grandchildren that they are responsible for their actions. Working with children in the Boys & Girls Clubs in Cumberland County, and as the Executive Director for the past 37 years, I have emphasized that same basic principle with them — everyone should be accountable for their choices.

    Chemours/Dupont has made choices for years. Those choices were made in its best financial interests, not those of our community’s. Now the consequence of their choices has come to light — GenX contaminated water throughout our community. Drinking water, showers, animals and gardens can be affected. The solution that was accepted was to bring water lines to two Gray’s Creek elementary schools. Someone has to pay for that! Who? The Cumberland County Schools will chip in. PWC has agreed to fund part of it. Where do those entities get that money? From you and I! That’s where — from the taxpayer.

    Did you benefit from the financial choices Chemours/Dupont made? No. Gray’s Creek homeowners have had to readjust their lives with bottled water for drinking. Some have accepted filtration systems for drinking water in their homes. Others are concerned about property values declining. Many are experiencing severe health issues. Who knows how pets and livestock are affected? What is the effect of this ecological disaster on our crops? New housing developers have to increase costs by paying for running water lines, they, in turn, pass those costs along to the new homeowners. Why would any business develop this area? Where is Chemours/Dupont’s accountability in all this? Why aren’t they paying? Why do we, the taxpayers, and the Gray’s Creek community have to feel the brunt of choices someone else made?

    You may think you are a small fish in a big pond, but together we can make a difference. We can hold people and industries accountable for their choices. A strong Cumberland County Board of Commissioners should hold Chemours/Dupont accountable for its choices. These choices don’t just affect Gray’s Creek — taxes come from across our county. Everyone is paying for Chemours/Dupont’s choices. Help me help us all hold them accountable.

    To discuss this further, please contact me via email at boysgirlsrobeson@carolina.net . I am Ron Ross, and I am running for the Cumberland County Board of Commissioner District 2 seat to make your voice heard and your tax-dollar valued.

  • 06 N2008P69003CComputer logins and digital high fives are replacing school bus rides and hugs for many students and teachers who started the new school year Aug. 17.

    More than two-thirds of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students are going to school remotely instead of getting face-to-face instruction. Internet learning will last for at least two months and potentially longer if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t ease off.

    Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr. introduced Operation Smooth Start to ensure that remote teaching and learning are a new normal for students, educators and staff members.

    Teachers are to connect with students, communicate classroom expectations and host classroom-level orientation sessions to help students become acclimated to the internet learning environment. District and school staff continue to ensure that laptops and tablets were delivered to schools based upon the requests from families.

    Eighty modem-equipped school buses have been parked around the county to provide regional Wi-Fi capabilities.

  • 16 01 Champ DeBrulerWith only a few years' exception, we have always had a family dog. On two separate occasions we were stationed abroad, and that's the only time in 40 years I can recall not having a four-legged family member.

    It wasn't until recently, though, that we had a pet that used a crate in the house. When it was first suggested to us, I declined; the notion of leaving a family member in a cage while we were away seemed cruel to me. To my surprise, he warmed up
    to it immediately.

    Champ is a good-sized dog. He's an American Bulldog — and a bunch of something else — tipping the scales at almost 80 pounds, and we nearly go nose-to-nose when he stands on his hind legs. But something I've observed about him and the crate speaks to the need we all have for a place of refuge.

    While I've attended more services since March of this year than I did in all of 2019, it's been five months since I've been to church. I miss it. I miss the camaraderie, the fellowship, the hugs and handshakes. Initially, the doors at my church and many other churches were closed as people moved to online church services in response to COVID-19.

    During that time, though, I started working with local church leaders to facilitate drive-in services over the radio. But as my home church began meeting again, I found myself having to miss in-person gatherings for the new Sunday morning work obligation I'd created. I enjoy 'visiting' other churches online, whether it's my sister-in-law's church in Wichita, Kansas, or the congregation my friend pastors just outside Stedman, but I miss gathering with my church family even more.

    There's something about the closeness of gathering in a church setting that makes me feel safe. Not meeting for Sunday morning worship service hasn't hindered my ability or desire to worship God at all, but there's something about the collective experience with others that adds an altogether different dynamic.

    Observing my dog and his crate, in light of my longing to gather, I begin to understand the passage in Psalm 91 a little more clearly: “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him.”

    This hulk of a dog, whose size and appearance made neighbors choose social distancing before it was a thing at all, will run to that crate when he's afraid. He'll retreat to the seeming safety of that simple shelter when he senses anger, and he will voluntarily curl up and sleep within its four open walls whether we're home or away. It's his refuge.

    He has the run of the house and yard, but chooses to return to something simple that promises a closeness and protection nothing else can.

  • 11 01 N1605P30004CAs many of us are figuring out how best to protect ourselves and our families during these uncertain times of COVID-19, one thing that most people do not have on their radar is the issue of legal immunity (protection from being sued). North Carolina has passed laws in these last months that provide immunity protection to businesses from lawsuits stemming from COVID-19 exposure and some immunity protections that go well beyond COVID-19 exposure.

    The broadest immunity law came when the legislature passed, and the governor signed into law House Bill 118, which creates qualified immunity from legal liability over claims arising from the transmission of COVID-19. Initially, immunity was for essential businesses only and was effective from and during the governor’s declaration of the state of emergency on March 10. As of July 2, this immunity extends to everyone and will run until 180 days after the recission of the state of emergency order.

    So, what does this mean? If you believe you have been negligently exposed and/or contracted COVID-19 at the grocery store, gas station, doctor’s office or other business, if they provided notice at their business of actions taken to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and opened and/or are operating within the restrictions of the governor’s orders, you will not be able to bring a legal claim for damages against them.

    For example, when swimming pools were reopened in the state, a law was passed that protects places like apartment complexes, homeowners associations or condo unit owners associations against lawsuits from people seeking damages for injury or death resulting from the transmission of COVID-19 as a result of using their pools. As with other businesses, these community associations must show that they reopened under the executive orders of the governor and have acted in compliance with those orders to benefit from the immunity law.

    One of the broadest immunities granted in the new law is to “health care facilities” and “health care providers” giving wide-sweeping immunity not only from lawsuits regarding COVID-19 exposure or transmission but from any negligence claims that arise in arranging for or providing health care services during this state of emergency.

    With the unknowns, high risks of exposure and high level of contagion of COVID-19, as well as the fact that a percentage of the population could have it a not even know it, many of these measures of legal protection make sense. Frankly, it would be very difficult legally to prove just where and when an individual was exposed or contracted the virus to bring a legal claim. In the end, what is important is for businesses and individuals to follow the governor’s orders and protect themselves and each other as best as possible — both from a legal and personal perspective.

  • 08 01 Census101 CivicDutyNorth Carolina is projected to gain a seat in Congress thanks to population growth. The state is the ninth-largest by population in the U.S. Each district in the U.S. House of Representatives includes approximately 700,000 residents. North Carolina currently has 13 House members. 2020 census data should disclose sufficient growth to warrant a 14th member. The Bureau of the Census conducts a constitutionally mandated decennial census whose figures are used to determine the number of congressional districts to which each state is entitled. This process is called apportionment. Census information is also be used for federal, state and local election redistricting. The goal is to have everyone who lives in Cumberland County counted in 2020. An accurate count of all residents is critical for receiving the state’s share of the $675 billion in federal funds that are distributed to states and communities each year.

  • 12 01 N2001P27008CIn light of the coronavirus pandemic, virtually all of us have considered health-related issues. But for people facing a serious, chronic illness, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes or cancer, health concern s are an everyday matter. If you’re fortunate, you may never be afflicted with such maladies, but the future is unpredictable. Of course, going through these health challenges brings physical and emotional concerns — but also financial ones. How can you prepare for them?

    Essentially, you’ll need to consider four key areas: investments, insurance, legal arrangements and taxes. Let’s take a quick look at each of them:

    Investments – You’ll likely need to draw on your investments for at least some of the expenses associated with your illness. So, within your portfolio, you may want to establish a special fund devoted entirely to these costs, whether they be health care, modifications to your home, transportation and so on. A financial professional can help you choose investments for this fund, as well as make recommendations for your overall investment strategy, including techniques for boosting your income, such as adding investments that can provide an income stream that kicks in when you think your costs will rise.

    Insurance – Depending on your health status, you may be able to collect Medicare earlier than the traditional starting point at age 65. Even so, you’ll likely need to supplement it with additional coverage. But you may also want to look beyond health insurance. For example, you might be able to purchase a “chronic illness rider” that allows you to tap into life insurance benefits while you’re still alive. Or you might consider adding a “long-term care rider” to a life insurance policy; this rider offers financial benefits if you ever require daily care that you can’t provide for yourself. And some foundations, states and drug companies offer programs that can help pay for some costs that your insurance won’t cover.

    Legal arrangements – If you haven’t already done so, you may want to establish the legal documents most appropriate for your situation, such as a durable power of attorney for finances, which gives someone the authority to manage your financial affairs if you become temporarily incapacitated, possibly due to flare-ups of your chronic disease. Once you’ve recovered, you regain control of your financial decisions. You might also want to consider a health care proxy, which appoints an individual to make medical decisions for you if you can’t. In creating or revising these documents, you’ll need to consult with your legal professional.

    Taxes – You might qualify for Social Security disability payments, which, like other Social Security benefits, are taxable, so you’ll need to be aware of what you might owe. But you might also be eligible for some tax breaks related to your condition. If you still itemize tax deductions, you may be able to deduct some medical expenses, as well as certain home improvements such as wheelchair ramps, bathtub grab bars, motorized stairlifts and so on. Your tax advisor may have suggestions appropriate for your situation.

    Dealing with a chronic illness is never easy. But by considering how your illness will affect all aspects of your life, getting the help you need — and taking the right steps — you may be able to reduce the financial stress on you and your loved ones.

  • 09 01 Phoenix Rising“Phoenix Rising: From the Ashes of Desert One to the Rebirth of U.S. Special Operations,” is a new book by Col. Keith Nightingale. “Phoenix Rising” recounts the birth of Special Operations Forces through the prism of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed attempt to rescue 52 Americans held hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. When terrorists captured the American embassy Nov. 4, 1979, the Joint Chiefs of Staff quickly realized that the United States lacked the military capability to deal with the issues they faced. Nightingale graduated from Airborne, Jumpmaster and Ranger schools and retired as a colonel in 1993. He served two tours in Vietnam and he was an original member of Joint Special Operations Command.

  • 14 01 9780385544290Can North Carolina’s beloved author Ron Rash protect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other environmental treasures from commercial exploitation?

    Can he do it by resurrecting the evil, enticing central character of his 2008 best-selling novel, “Serena”?

    Serena, you might remember, was ambitious and dramatically attractive, riding a white horse and displaying her well-trained eagle. In the early 1930s, she and her husband were determined to get rich by clear-cutting thousand acres of North Carolina mountain forestlands, destroying a rich, stable and precious environment.

    Rash made Serena a symbol of corporate greed and anti-environmentalism.

    Serena was also driven by personal passions. She was determined to eliminate her husband’s illegitimate son and the child’s mother. This assignment went to Galloway, a one-armed employee utterly devoted to Serena.

    Galloway’s effort, chronicled in the original book’s dramatic last pages, was nevertheless a failure. The boy and mother were safe, and Serena was off to exploit the forests of Brazil.

    A novella that is part of Rash’s new book, “In the Valley,” brings Serena back to North Carolina to take charge of a logging project to meet a hard deadline.

    Galloway also returns to take on Serena’s murderous assignments, including the search for the mother and her son.

    Readers will again be impressed and horrified at Serena’s determined and brutal efforts that destroy more of the environment and decimate the crews.

    What is the connection to Rash’s worries about the environment?

    In an interview last week with Mountain Times Publication’s executive editor Tom Mayer, Rash explained, “I’m seeing now this peril for the national parks. There’s a lot of push to change what is considered wilderness that can be mined or timbered. My hope is that this [story] would remind us how hardwon these national parks were and what they were fighting against.”

    The new book has a bonus for fans of Rash’s short fiction.

    There are nine finely tuned short stories. All deal with mountain people like those he knows from growing up in or near the mountains or from his long years teaching at Western Carolina University.

    These are folks that Rash clearly cares for and worries about. But the time settings vary, giving readers a look at mountain life over hundreds of years.

    In the opener, “Neighbors,” set during the Civil War in the Shelton Laurel community, a Confederate foraging and raiding party targets the farm of a young widow and her two young children.

    “When All the Stars Fall” deals with a poignant breakup of a father’s and son’s construction business because their value systems are different.

    In “Sad Man in the Sky,” a helicopter pilot who sells 30-minute rides takes on a troubled but inspiring passenger.

    In “L'Homme Blesse” a mountain college art professor explores the connection between the artwork of a Normandy invasion veteran and the images on the walls of ancient caves in France.

    “The Baptism” is the story of a country minister and a wife abuser who wants to be baptized. The story has a satisfying surprise ending.

    A young female probationary park ranger in “Flight” encounters a bully who lacks a fishing license and breaks all the rules. Her daring retort is illegal but satisfying.

    A struggling late-night storekeeper in “Last Bridge Burned” helps a troubled woman who stumbles into his store. Years later, he reaps an interesting reward.

    In “Ransom,” a wealthy college student survives a lengthy kidnapping only to face another set of challenges.

    Set 60 years after the Battle of Chickamauga, “The Belt” tells how a belt and its buckle that saved a Confederate soldier’s life now saves the life of his great-grandson.

    Any one of these stories would be worth the price of the book, but getting all of them plus the new Serena installment makes “In the Valley” the literary bargain of the year.

  • 06 01 minnie zhou FGwBRTdwR8I unsplashA bipartisan group of 35 lawmakers have written to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, citing concerns that a “child care dilemma” could affect the Department of Defense’s readiness. “In light of COVID-19-related school closures, approximately 1.2 million children under the age of 13 in military families will now require child care,” the lawmakers wrote.

    They based their numbers on the DoD 2018 demographics report. The members of Congress noted that while DoD has an extensive network of child development centers, about 18,000 military children remain on waiting lists nationwide. Schools around the country are reopening in a variety of ways, in addition to the traditional in-person learning. Some, like Cumberland County Schools, are operating through remote learning. With the pandemic shutdown of schools and child care this spring, military families and others around the country found themselves suddenly at home with their children, who were now being educated through remote learning. Fort Bragg schools, which are operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity, are set to open with face-to-face learning this fall.

  • 05 01 Diane WheatleyHi, I am Diane Wheatley, I am running for the North Carolina House of Representatives in District 43. I am so proud to have this opportunity. This November, you will decide whom you send to Raleigh.

    There are four issues I feel incredibly passionate about. I can make a significant difference in education, health care, public safety and — finally — I can make a substantial impact on the economy of Cumberland County.

    I spent 10 years on the Cumberland County Board of Education and worked diligently to improve education for children and their families. I was instrumental in starting the academy system, which gave parents school choice within the public school system. I am proud to say that during those 10 years, test scores improved every single year I was on the board, including the two years in which I served as its chair. Furthermore, we passed a major bond referendum and built 10 schools on time and under budget, enabling us to build two additional schools for the same cost.

    Following my 10-year tenure on the school board, I was successful in being elected to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. During that time, I served on the Board of Directors of Cape Fear Valley Hospital. Furthermore, I chaired the ethics committee while on the hospital board. That helped me tremendously in understanding the issues facing health care today. As a registered nurse, I traveled all over the world as a medical missionary to provide health care to those in need.

    Let us make this clear, I support affordable, sustainable health care for all and for one. I am sick and tired of big pharma and its ridiculous price gouging of the American people. The hospital billing has done nothing but compound this ever-rising cost in health care.

    I do not know about you, but when it comes to public safety, I do not feel safe. My guess is you do not either. The police department and all first responders are one of my top priorities. Do you really think now’s the time to cut budgets for those entrusted with our public safety? My opponent does! When people feel compelled to rush out to take concealed carry classes and purchase guns and ammo just to protect their families, something is wrong! Thank God for our Second Amendment rights, which give us the ability to protect ourselves during times like these.

    My opponent has never met a payroll. I spent over three decades in the business world and made payroll every single year. Our firm was recognized as one of the top five contractors on Fort Bragg for price, quality and service. I have a passion for entrepreneurs and have the background to prove it. I know what it takes for economic development and job growth, and that is crucial experience we will need in recovering from COVID-19.

    Send me — the unbureaucrat — to Raleigh! I have got the experience and know-how and will not need any training wheels.

  • 03 01 5damesIn August seven years ago, five local women — all dear friends — and I were knee-deep in trying to put off an original stage performance, and only one of us had any idea what we were doing.

    Bo Thorp, a founder of Cape Fear Regional Theatre and its longtime Creative Director, knows more than a thing or two about theater, but the rest of us were blanks slates, veterans of different worlds altogether. Bo had recruited us to tell our life stories onstage, which entailed writing them, trying to memorize them —although we had cheat sheets — learning how to move around on a stage in the proper order with music and overcoming stage jitters. Our little band included corporate CEO Terri Union; former teacher, Fayetteville City Council member, and Cumberland County Commissioner Rollin Shaw; real estate mogul Suzanne Pennink; Army brat turned judge and former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson; and me.

    We bonded, named ourselves “The Dames You Thought You Knew,” and much to our surprise, performed to four sold-out audiences. We had been expecting family and friends. Human beings are innately curious about each other, though, and it was fascinating to learn about the lives of people we thought we knew well, but really did not. Some of it was funny — teenaged disasters and first loves. Some of it was painful — divorces and lost elections. All of it was very real. Years later, Bo conceived of and put together another performance, “LumBees: Women of the Dark Water,” featuring women of Lumbee heritage and put it on at CRFT. It, too, was an instant hit.

    Seven years creates lots of change, and the Dames have been through our share. Three of us now live away from Fayetteville, mostly for family reasons. Two of us have been widowed. More grandchildren have arrived, and all but two of us are officially retired.

    Those two Dames are still going at it in the working-world arena. Suzanne Pennink continues to work successfully in local real estate and is a downtown Fayetteville booster extraordinaire. She and her husband live downtown and open their city center home for various charitable causes. Pat Timmons-Goodson, the youngest of the Dames, whom the rest of us called “our baby,” continues her life’s work for justice in all areas of American life, having served as a Cumberland County prosecutor, a judge and a Justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court. She served as Vice-Chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights as an extension of her judicial work. She is the backbone of her large, extended family as well.

    This year, Pat has volunteered for a new challenge as well. She is running for Congress and would be the first Fayetteville resident to represent us since Charlie Rose left office more than 20 years ago. She has chosen to take this on during one of the most toxic political climates in American history. The Dames are behind her all the way.

    COVID-19 has given all of us plenty of time to think and reflect, and prominent among my thoughts these days are the value of deep and long-running friendships and how they shape and enrich our lives. Another is how time alters us all, sometimes so slowly we are not even aware of the changes and sometimes with knocks that take our breaths away. The Dames have evolved since this time in 2013, but each of us continues to play roles in our communities, whatever they may be at this point. Keeping on keeping on is one of life’s enduring lessons as well.

    Pictured (left-right): Margaret Dickson, Suzanne Pennink, Terri Union, Rollin Shaw, Patricia Timmons-Goodson.


  • 07 01 N1306P14004CThe Cumberland County Animal Shelter is observing the sixth annual nationwide Clear the Shelters pet adoption event during the month of August. The shelter hopes to find homes for 300 pets by month’s end. Pet adoptions will be $28 thanks to a grant from PetSmart Charities. Included in the $28 fee is a rabies vaccination, pet privilege license, microchip and spay or neuter operation. In addition, every adopter will go home with a swag bag full of goodies for their new best friend.

    “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clear the Shelter event will look a little different,” said Animal Control Director Elaine Smith. “Instead of a daylong event... a monthlong adoption campaign will enable us to maintain social distancing protocols and coordinate appointments for all adoptions.” Adopters must wear face coverings, have photo IDs and be at least 18 years old. All adoptions will be by appointment only.

  • 10 01 N2008P31007CA judge has dismissed Democratic attempts to throw out North Carolina’s protections against absentee voting fraud. But his ruling ensures the State Board of Elections must give voters due process to fix problems with their mail-in ballots.

    The decision offers good news for North Carolinians who will vote from home due to COVID-19, said Mitch Kokai, John Locke Foundation senior political analyst.

    On Tuesday, Aug. 4, U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen said fears about COVID-19 aren’t sufficient to change state laws for mail-in ballots. The General Assembly got serious about potential voter fraud after a 2018 scandal in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The state ordered a new election after a Republican political operative and several associates faced charges of allegedly collecting and falsifying absentee ballots to flip a congressional race. Lawmakers enacted a law providing accountability during absentee voting.

    The lawsuit, filed in May by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and Democracy North Carolina, targeted several of those new provisions. Plaintiffs asked the court to end an early voter registration deadline, provide “contactless” drop points for absentee ballots and nix requirements that a witness sign every mail-in ballot.

    Osteen didn’t grant those requests, which are akin to a “Democratic Party wish list,” Kokai said. He did, however, address a legitimate concern about an election that will rely more heavily on mail-in balloting. Current rules allow voters to fix mistakes on their ballot if they vote in person. Under Osteen’s ruling, the State Board of Elections can’t reject absentee ballots until they’ve installed a similar process for voter appeals.

    Osteen also made way for the General Assembly to enact a law to protect voters’ rights to fix their ballot and have it counted.

    “One of the best parts of Judge Osteen’s decision was his willingness to defer to the General Assembly for decisions about the details of addressing the plaintiffs’ issues,” Kokai said. “The court order will remain in place only until lawmakers take their own steps to resolve critical election-integrity issues.”

    Data from the liberal Southern Coalition for Social Justice show more than 282,000 absentee ballots were rejected in North Carolina’s March primary election. Forty-one percent of those could’ve been counted if voters had been notified and given a chance to fix their mistakes, the League of Women Voters said in a Tuesday news release.

    Sen. Ralph Hise, R-NC District 47, chairs the Senate Elections Committee. He praised Osteen’s decision in a news release Tuesday while also criticizing Democrats for what he says is an attempt to “undo bipartisan absentee ballot fraud protections passed by the legislature.”

    “These partisan lawsuits undermine trust in elections by seeking to legalize ballot harvesting and make it easier to commit absentee ballot fraud. We’re glad a federal judge drew the line on these dangerous attempts to undermine election security.”

    This article first appeared in Carolina News Journal.

  • 15 01 older woman listeningGreat change has been forced onto parents, families, students, teachers and school administrators.

    Yet every day these leaders, citizens and ordinary folks put on a brave face before leaving the house to face new challenges.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us that children are less susceptible to COVID-19, and politicians tell us that kids returning to school is the only way to stabilize the economy, but still there is a deep sense of fear, uncertainty and distrust.

    We’re at a critical juncture in history where we are forced to look at how we live, what we stand for, and what we value.

    We can choose to recoil and hibernate in survival mode or we can ask how we can serve and show up for others. We are being forced to live in the present moment, to live fluidly to move through stress, unanswered questions, and well-founded concerns.

    A lot of the individuals I work with in therapy are faced with the choice of who they want to become and how they want to show up in light of this pandemic.

    I am so proud of our teachers, our parents and our students. These trailblazers are rising to the demands instead of being paralyzed by fear. They show up to classes, login to their remote assignments and make the best out of a terrible reality.

    Thank you for not hiding and playing small. Thank you to our leaders who are making difficult decisions and facing public scrutiny.

    Right now is the time to lead with empathy, expansiveness and patience. Your family, friends, employees and clients need you to take decisive action, to lean in and to be fully present.

    Your hope and vision for a better future can help others see through this tough time. An antidote to the fear, panic and overwhelm is helping people to feel seen, heard and validated.

    While it’s wise to show up for yourself first and foremost, it is important to balance that obligation with supporting others. Let those under your leadership fall apart and break down and express their worry and fear, and be the one to offer them hope and certainty.

    Right now calls for personal and professional evolution. Make room for a new, better identity and society to emerge. Push past judgement and survival mode. Guide yourself and others to do the best possible, to channel their emotions into action.

    Let us be grateful for this opportunity to transform and discover what we’re really made of. I hope you are able to see how amazingly resilient, compassionate and truly brave you are.

  • 13 01 calendar marked november third 2020 presidential elections 47726 75842020 has not been a normal election year. From rallies cancelled because of COVID-19 to talk of mail-in voting and whether or not the U.S. Postal service could support such an endeavour, nevermind concerns about how that might work, voters may want to consider how they will cast ballots this year, including voting early.

    An individual’s eligibility to vote is set out in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution states that suffrage (the right to vote) cannot be denied on grounds of race, color, sex or age for citizens 18 years or older. Beyond these basic qualifications, it is the responsibility of state legislatures to regulate voter eligibility and all elections. In the U.S., elections are held for government officials at the federal, state and local levels.

    At the federal level, the nation's head of state, the president, is elected indirectly by the people through an Electoral College. The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives to which the state is entitled in Congress. North Carolina has 15 electors and requires that electors support the popular vote of the state.

    Members of Congress are elected directly by the people. Each state elects two U.S. senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the latter based on population.

    The 2020 presidential election could come down to just half a dozen states. Experts generally agree that the key swing states to focus on this year are Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which were won by President Trump in 2016.

    "Those will be the six most critical states," Paul Maslin, a longtime Democratic pollster, told Newsweek. "There will be others that'll be important in varying degrees," he said.

    “The Electoral College creates strange incentives for campaigns to ignore most of the country and pour their attention into a small number of places," Barry Burden, a professor of political science and director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Newsweek.

    "Voters in these states should expect to see a lot of advertising, a lot of visits from the candidates and their surrogates and a ton of field activity with offices opening and volunteers appearing at their door," Burden added.

    "To some extent, it's not really a national election. It's all about the Electoral College," Newhouse said.

    The names of electors are not on the ballot in most states. Rather, when a voter casts a vote for a presidential candidate, he/she is also casting a vote for the electors already selected by the party of that candidate. For instance, if a majority of voters in North Carolina votes for the Republican candidate for president, the Republican slate of electors is elected. If a majority votes for the Democratic candidate, the Democratic slate of electors is chosen.

    There are many elected offices at the state level, including governor and lieutenant governor in North Carolina. Members of the Council of State are also elected statewide. There are also elected offices at the local level, in counties, cities, towns and townships as well as school districts and special districts that may transcend county and municipal boundaries. According to a study by political scientist Jennifer Lawless, there were 519,682 elected officials in the U.S. as of 2012.

    To register to vote in North Carolina, one must be a U.S. citizen; live in the county of his/her registration and have resided there for at least 30 days prior to the date of the election; be at least 18 years old, or by the date of the general election (16- and 17-year-olds may preregister to vote); and not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction, including probation, parole or post-release supervision. In North Carolina once an individual has completed a felony sentence or been pardoned, he/she is eligible to register and vote.

    Early voting is available from Oct. 15-31 at a dozen sites around Cumberland County. Registered voters may update their addresses and change vital information in an existing registration record at the early voting site, but they are not allowed to change their party affiliations during the one-stop voting period that precedes a partisan primary.

    North Carolina citizens can vote by mail. The election office must receive ballot application requests by Oct. 27, and completed ballots must be postmarked by or received in-person by Nov. 3. For more information, visit the North Carolina State Board of Election’s website.

    The Cumberland County Boards of Elections’ office maintains precinct lines and notifies all voters of correct precincts and districts and also provides elected officials, candidates and the general public with reliable information as requested, along with administering the Campaign Reporting Act in Cumberland County. In addition, the elections office is responsible for maintaining contact with precinct officials at all times concerning elections, new laws and training.

    The Cumberland County Board of Elections is in urgent need of poll workers for the Nov. 3 general election and the early voting period in October.

    The board will follow state guidelines to protect the health and safety of election workers and voters. Social distancing measures and routine cleanings have been put into place and poll workers will be provided appropriate personal protective equipment.

    Election worker duties include staffing polling places during early voting and on Election Day, setting up and taking down voting enclosures, checking in voters, issuing ballots and assisting voters upon request. Poll workers are compensated for attending training and for working during early voting and on Election Day. Interested registered voters can complete the online application by going to electionready.net.

    There are 75 polling places in Cumberland County, 35 of them inside the Fayetteville city limits. To locate your polling place, go to ncsbe.gov. Click on Polling Place, Search and then enter your information.

    On election day, Nov. 3, all polling sites will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. No politicking is allowed within 50 feet of the main entrance to the polling place. In Fayetteville, those who post political yard signs on their property must remove them within a day or two following the election or be subject to a fine.

  • 02 April red and blueThis week, our publisher, Bill Bowman, yields his space to April Olsen, the new editor of Up & Coming Weekly.

    It is a good week to be taking over the editor’s seat because this issue of UCW has great information about women, voting, protecting your finances and sage advice on dealing with stress from a dog named Champ.

    This week while learning procedures around the UCW office, I also found out that Annie Alexander, a North Carolina native, was the first licensed woman doctor in the American South. On page 6, you can read about how she was tending patients and serving in the Army before she even had the right to vote.

    I had never heard of Annie, but it seems fitting that I would read about her this month, as it is the centennial celebration of the U.S. Constitution’s 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, the amendment was ratified. On August 26, 1920, it was certified by the U.S. Secretary of State, allowing eight million women across the U.S. to cast their votes that November.

    I also felt a connection to Annie’s story because I, too, served in the Army. Although not a doctor, I traveled to many places around our great nation and ended up at Fort Bragg, right here in Fayetteville, where I retired a few years ago.
    Serving in uniform and traveling to countries where citizens have so few rights helped me cherish my own American privilege of voting. It is something I take a lot of pride in, whether I am standing at the polling place or mailing in an absentee ballot.

    You can find out information about voting in our cover story on page 13, written by Jeff Thompson. Some of you are active in politics, and some may be registering to vote this year for the first time. Whichever is your situation, I applaud your efforts. Research the issues and the candidates. Speak out for or against. Make your voice heard. Having a say in who our leaders are is one of the greatest things about America.

    UCW is committed to helping you research local candidates when we receive submissions from them. On page 8, you can read what issues Dianne Wheatley is passionate about: education, health care, public safety and the economy. Wheatley is running for North Carolina House of Representatives in District 43.

    Most of us are also concerned about the economy, especially since COVID-19 has shut down so many businesses and put so many people out of work. A health scare during these times can be especially stressful on a family’s finances. On page 12, we offer a quick review of four key areas to consider if you are in such a situation.

    No matter what your circumstances look like, it is important to remember that taking care of yourself and your tribe is a necessity, not an afterthought. Licensed Psychologist Rebecca Crain offers her perspective on page 15.

    If none of these articles help you face whatever challenge you are encountering, please flip on over to page 17. On occasion, dealing with a problem may require you to step back and catch your breath. Like Champ, Dan Debruler’s canine companion, you may need to seek refuge in your own quiet space.

    Catching our breath is what we have been doing at UCW. Now is a perfect time to state what we want to accomplish in the community and review our vision.

    UCW will promote good things happening and work to expose negative things for the good of the community. As social distancing allows, we will continue to highlight plays, concerts, sports, education, celebrations and a patriotic sense of serving a greater purpose.

    That sense of purpose reflects our vision for the future of UCW — to share information on the many opportunities in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County while being a champion of small business, highlighting the people making things happen, providing a platform for the public exchange of ideas and sharing an unapologetic pride for our community.

    Our brand of community journalism carries a responsibility to inform, educate and entertain while being fair and honest. As the UCW editor, I will strive to meet this responsibility by including opposing voices and ideas to highlight the diversity we are blessed with in Fayetteville. I encourage our readers to submit your thoughts and ideas.

    With so many options for print and online information, we appreciate that you spend some of your time reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 04 01 Annie Lowrie AlexanderExcluding people based on their race, sex or other characteristics doesn’t just keep those individuals from pursuing their dreams. And it doesn’t just violate moral principles of human dignity and equality. It does great harm to others.

    Think of it this way: among every human population that has ever existed, there is a wide range of skills, aptitudes and personal preferences. Some are good at talking, others at counting. Some thrive in large teams and crowds, others in small groups or solitary ventures. Healthy communities allow people to find their best “fit,” the best possible way to apply their distinctive combinations of talents to serve others.

    Because some goods and services are particularly challenging to produce, requiring either special gifts or lengthy study to master, only some of us will be able to do such jobs really well. That’s why casting the largest net we can makes us all better off. It makes it more likely we will get what we need or want.

    And that’s why discrimination, in addition to being wrong, is so foolishly self-destructive. It keeps companies from hiring the best people and serving the most customers. It throttles innovation. It makes our families and communities poorer.
    When only white men were allowed to become doctors, for example, that artificially restricted the quantity and quality of medical care. One reason we are, on average, much healthier than our grandparents and great-grandparents is that healers of great skill, daring and determination smashed through that barrier.

    One of them was Annie Alexander. She was the first woman to become a licensed physician in the American South. As I continue my survey of pathbreaking North Carolinians who deserve greater acclaim, and commemoration in the form of statues and other monuments, the case for Annie Alexander seems irrefutable.

    The daughter of prominent Charlotte physician John Brevard Alexander and his wife, the original Annie Alexander, the young Annie was only 14 years old when a horrifying event prompted her to choose her path in life. It was 1878, and medical care for women was hampered by both law and custom. Out of modesty, a female patient of her father’s refused to allow him to conduct a full examination. The patient died.

    Young Annie’s horror hardened into determination. After beginning her training under her father’s tutelage, Annie went off to medical school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ultimately moving to Baltimore, Maryland, to practice and teach medicine. When she and 99 men took Maryland’s licensing exam in 1885, Annie Alexander earned the highest score.

    A bout of tuberculosis took her to Florida, then home to North Carolina, where she began a solo practice. It was revolutionary for women in the Charlotte area to be able to see a female doctor, although her practice wasn’t limited to women. And as it grew, Annie Alexander attracted both acclaim and opprobrium.

    Some of her own relatives refused to have anything to do with her. Accepting whoever was willing to seek treatment, Annie struggled at first to pay her bills. She was “received with cold indifference by the professions and open curiosity by the laity,” she later wrote.

    But Annie Alexander persevered. She joined the North Carolina Medical Society. In 1903, she cofounded the Mecklenburg County Medical Society, serving as its first secretary-treasurer and as its first female president a few years later. She cared for patients in local hospitals and for 23 years served what is now Queens University as its physician.

    During World War I, Doctor Annie Alexander became Lieutenant Annie Alexander, treating soldiers at Camp Greene and helping to lead Charlotte’s fight against the Spanish flu epidemic. She served on dozens of boards and commissions. She championed freedom and equality. “Women nowadays,” she wrote, “can no more be withheld from her public duty than she can be exempt from taxes.”

    Annie Alexander is commemorated by a historical marker on Charlotte’s Tryon Street. She deserves a great deal more than that, I think. Her influence extended statewide and beyond. Let’s honor her accordingly.

  • 05 N2008P25006CCumberland County Schools has outlined how students will be educated as they head back to school under a remote learning plan. School officials say that to establish consistent expectations and quality education from school to school, the plan provides answers to numerous questions. A daily learning schedule has been established for elementary, middle and high schools. It includes live time with teachers, independent work time for students, student breaks to manage attention span and time to visit the district’s meal sites for lunch. An online districtwide learning management system for instruction will provide interactive learning, align assignments, house lecture recordings and quizzes/exams and provide online grading. The district will use a uniform grading structure that assures student assignments, quizzes and assessments are balanced and will provide quality feedback. The distribution of devices and instructional materials is underway now. About 80 school buses are outfitted with internet connectivity to serve as hotspots and will be strategically placed in areas throughout the community to make sure students have access. School officials have also built into the remote learning plan ways that parents can share concerns about their child’s remote experience with teachers and principals. For detailed information about the plan, visit http://ccs.k12.nc.us/.

  • 15 N1805P37002CImagine this scenario: at approximately 2300 hours, you are dispatched as a member of law enforcement to a residence with a possible home invasion. You received information that the caller was a male child approximately 12 years of age and hiding in a closet. The child said he heard his back door kicked in and people walking around in his house. The child was crying on the phone, whispering that he was home alone, scared and didn’t know what to do.

    Does this type of challenging situation positively motivate you when you consider a career?

    If so, a career in law enforcement could be for you. Fayetteville Technical Community College offers convenient ways for you to learn about being a law enforcement officer and how to get started in this rewarding career. FTCC conducts a Basic Law Enforcement Training Informational/Application Workshop once a month.

    If you’re not sure if law enforcement is for you but want to learn more about FTCC’s BLET Academy, we invite you to a workshop to meet the staff. We will discuss what to expect before, during and after the academy. We encourage you to bring your support (significant other) with you, so we will be able to answer any and all questions you or your significant other may have.

    For those who want information and are ready to start the application process, sign up for our information session and application workshop with the BLET staff. Print out the application packet and bring it with you to the workshop. By the time you leave, the majority of your application process will be complete, and you will be on your way to a rewarding career in law enforcement!

    For those who already know what BLET is all about, you can skip the informational session and move right into getting the application process completed with BLET staff assistance. Print out the application packet and bring it with you to the workshop. Sign up for our application workshop where a BLET staff member will assist you through the lengthy process.

    If you already know a career in law enforcement is for you and you are ready to complete the application process on your own, no problem! Download the application from home and get started. I recommend starting the application process 5-6 months prior to your desired class start date. Anything submitted more than 5-6 months in advance could expire before the class begins.

    Get started by signing up two ways:

    (1) Visit our website at www.faytechcc.edu and type “BLET” in the search box. Click on “How to Enroll” to sign up for the workshop, or just download the BLET Application.
    (2) Visit our Facebook page at FTCC Basic Law Enforcement Training BLET and click on the “Sign Up” button located on our cover photo.

    We look forward to serving you at FTCC, and your community awaits your service as a member of law enforcement. Contact me at
    vesty@faytechcc.edu if you have questions.

  • 14 razvan chisu 6F98shIQysI unsplashNow that warmer days are upon us, I seek the refuge of water with my activity of choice kayaking. I have always had a mermaid soul that draws me to the water for activities such as paddle boarding, boogie boarding, swimming and surfing, but the kayaking experience has been unique. This versatile sport can be enjoyed in many different settings, from the river to open lakes and even the beach. I also love that the kayaking community is quite diverse in terms of age and physical ability. Anyone, even you landlubbers, can enjoy this sport.

    If you do not own a kayak, a few places offer kayaks for rent. I appreciate these options as different types and sizes allow people to try them out and find a comfortable fit. I own a sit-in kayak, where my legs fit inside the vessel. Some buccaneers own sit-on-top kayaks, a flat style allowing legs to stay exposed, and prefer that style for both the rowing and what else – tanning. My 10-year-old daughter uses this type of kayak; it is safer, I feel, in the event she has to abandon ship. Everyone seems to have their preferences, so I think renting for a day to “test the waters” is a great option.

    When I first began kayaking, I found it a pleasant surprise the number of places available for kayak access in the local community. The locations vary in level of difficulty and offerings regarding fees and amenities such as shuttle services, guided tours, events and classes. Some kayakers like such programming, while others prefer to strike out on their own.

    Spring Lake Outpost on the Lower Little River in Spring Lake has rental options, guided tours and self-guided options. Book a fun float such as the SLO Glow Canoe or SLO Glow Kayak trip; Freedom Float for the Fallen; Memorial Candle Release or an adult, youth or tandem short-route trip. One option allows you to rent their vessel or use your own kayak to put in. You travel downriver to a designated location where SLO guides pick you up and drive you back to the starting point.

    Another site for a similar shuttle experience is Cape Fear Adventures in Lillington. I enjoy this area of the Cape Fear River in neighboring Harnett County as it is wide enough to give paddlers the freedom to explore with minimal obstacles. I have visited on days when it was calm enough to row upriver and then almost sail back down to the ramp for departure. With a kayak, canoe or paddleboard rental, you can book the Leisure Paddle, Easy Float, 10-mile Challenge, Epic Overnight or Sunset Paddle. Rev up the action with Stand-Up Paddle Board Yoga or Whitewater Kayaking. Slow it down with Lazy River Tubing.

    If you are not into the river scene, several lakes in the local area allow you to launch your kayak free of charge. A few of my favorites are Hope Mills Lake in Hope Mills, Lake Rim in west Fayetteville and Mott Lake on Fort Bragg. All have ramps for easy water access, but Hope Mills Lake provides a nice kayak ramp that makes embarkment a snap. Lake Rim Park offers guided lake tours and off-site paddling adventures as well.

    I like to take a few things on my kayak adventures that you may wish to take, too: a small cooler with water and snacks, bug spray, a sun hat or sunglasses and flip flops or water shoes. Requirements are life jackets for each person and an emergency whistle, just in case.

    Don’t forget to batten down the hatches, as even on calm days, it’s easy to lose a phone to the water. How devastating it would be to miss out on sharing pictures of your adventure with your social media mates. So, grab your Mer Pals, hit the open water and beat the heat this summer.

  • 11 N1705P26005CBrandon has three little girls, no job and no health insurance.

    His company launched mass furloughs just weeks after North Carolina shut down its economy over the coronavirus pandemic. Brandon’s job didn’t last long, and his health insurance became a casualty.

    Brandon is familiar with the risk of being uninsured. Years ago, he racked up medical bills when depression turned his life “upside down.” But he came back to get a job he loved, working as a residential project manager in Charlotte.
    Now the only reason he still can see his therapist is her decision to treat him, free of charge.

    “I finally started getting help, met the woman of my dreams, I turned my life around,” Brandon told Carolina Journal. He preferred to use his first name for privacy reasons. “If I didn’t have her, if I had someone who went by the book — it scares me. And it sucks, because none of this was any fault of our own. No fault. That’s the sad part.”

    Brandon is one of an estimated 723,000 North Carolinians who lost their health insurance to the economic devastation unleashed by the pandemic and the lockdowns, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The loss has forced patients to delay or forfeit care while they wait for the economy to restart and for the pandemic to ease.

    Americans’ dependence on employer-based health insurance — a result of government regulations and union activism — exacerbates the problem, experts say.

    During World War II, the War Labor Board exempted health benefits from its wage freeze. After the war, unions fought for health benefits in a wave of strikes. They won a victory in 1953, when the Internal Revenue Service upheld a tax break for employer-based health insurance.

    The system has its strengths, but its weaknesses become acute in a global pandemic, said Mark Hall, the director of Wake Forest University’s health law and policy program.

    “You can’t live with it, can’t live without it — whatever cliché you want to use,” Hall told Carolina Journal. “On the whole, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. But the drawbacks are significant when you have these economic downturns that cause people to lose their insurance when they need it most.”

    More than 1.2 million people have filed unemployment claims in North Carolina since the outbreak began and Gov. Roy Cooper shut down the economy.

    “I honestly thought I’d be back working by now,” Brandon said. “I absolutely loved my job; best job I ever had, they took care of me. … It’s a nightmare for a lot of people.”

    Months after being diagnosed with cancer, Sherie Bradshaw’s husband lost his job and his health insurance during the pandemic.

    The cancer diagnosis, they expected. Genetics was against them, they knew, and the same cancer had killed Frank Bradshaw’s father within 10 years of its diagnosis. Father and son each were age 58 when doctors discovered prostate cancer.

    Bradshaw went in for surgery just as the pandemic neared its first peak. At his company, sales plummeted 90%, federal money ran out, and the Bradshaws found themselves uninsured and unable to afford insurance. His cancer diagnosis eliminates catastrophic coverage, and Obamacare premiums are prohibitively expensive. They make too much to qualify for Medicaid, even if the program were expanded under the Affordable Care Act.

    “I’m angry, and a little nervous,” says Sherie Bradshaw, a physician assistant in Charlotte. “Are we going to have to dig into our retirement savings to pay $1,000 just to be covered? And that’s sad when you’re our age.”

    In Apex, Dr. Brian Forrest says many of his patients have lost their jobs to the pandemic. Two of his uninsured patients were saving for hernia repair surgery, but he worries the pandemic has hit their finances, too.

    “A hernia isn’t an emergency, but you want to get it fixed before it gets twisted, or it is life-threatening,” Forrest told Carolina Journal. “It can cut off the blood supply, and kill you in an hour … They’re just biding their time.”

    Expanding Medicaid would open coverage to households who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level. But there’s a shortage of Medicaid providers, and the pandemic has damaged the health care system, said Joe Coletti, John Locke Foundation senior fellow.

    Even if the General Assembly expanded Medicaid today, it couldn’t help these families in time, Coletti said. Oklahoma approved Medicaid expansion this July, but coverage won’t take effect until July 2021 — a year later.

    “Expanding Medicaid would run into the same problems as every other legal remedy,” Coletti said. “It’s not immediate, where you pass the law and it takes effect that day. They’re still in the same spot.”

    In Raleigh, Ruth Porter had health insurance for two weeks before losing her job in May. She’s trying to make ends meet with her 24-year-old autistic son sleeping on the couch. Her other son lost his job when salons and restaurants closed. She cancelled the medical visits she scheduled for May.

    There are gaps in Porter’s job history. She’s worked a slew of part-time jobs, and she didn’t have health insurance for the past two years. Her request for unemployment benefits was denied. But Porter says she wants to get back into the workforce.

    For now, Porter is relying on her sister and her savings, but she’s starting to use her credit card. She says she can make it until the end of September. After that, she doesn’t know.

    “Just looking for a job, just applying constantly. I haven’t heard anything back from any of them,” Porter said. “I’m hoping I don’t even have to think about all that, and I’m working, and it’s not even an issue. But I have no idea, the pandemic seems like it’s getting worse, and the situation with the shutdowns.”

    But if schools stay shut, Brandon doesn’t know if he could take a job. His oldest girl is 10.

    “I’m ready to get back out there and work,” Brandon said. “What are we going to have to do with child care? We couldn’t afford it. … What’s the government going to do, issue another $1,200 check six months from now? It is a joke.”

  • 08 CCS logoCumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr. has selected a new executive director and four new principals. Jackie White was named executive director of Elementary School Support. She has served as the principal of College Lakes Elementary School since 2010. White holds an associate’s in early childhood education from State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri, a bachelor’s in elementary education from Central Missouri State University and a Tier I administrative credential and master’s in elementary education from Chapman University, Santa Maria, California. Tremaine Canteen and Nathan Currie were named principals of Cumberland Academy. Brenda Ware-McAllister was appointed the principal of College Lakes Elementary. Kamal Watkins is the new principal of Lillian Black Elementary, where he currently serves as the assistant principal.

  • 03 IMG 2628Have you been enjoying the year of our Lord, the very festive 2020? So far, it has been really swell, what with the Rona, the riots and the rational reactions. If you have spent any time on social media, you may think that 2020 thus far has stunk. Perish the thought. In a continuing effort to keep on the sunny side of the street, today’s stain on world literature will highlight some of the good things that have happened so far. Sit back, light up a stogie, pour a glass of your favorite adult beverage, and take a ride on the Reading Railroad to Happy Town, U.S.A.

    Like the Overlook Hotel in “The Shining,” misquoting Mr. Halloran: “Lots of things have happened in 2020, and not all of them was good.” So, while the smell of burned toast may hang heavily in the air when you ponder the progress of 2020, as long as you stay out of Room 237 on your calendar, you should be OK. But you have no reason to go into Room 237 of 2020. So, stay out! There are places in 2020 that you should avoid. This column is not going into Room 237. You can get all the horror and anger you need by reading your social media feed. Today we shall put on a happy face.

    Let us begin. Some really bad things that have not happened in 2020. There has been no invasion of body snatchers. The only evil pods that have shown up are the mystery seeds mailed here from our Chinese friends. There is no truth to your suspicion that evil Pods from another planet have replaced the loved ones with whom you have been confined while sheltering in place for the last five months. They are still the same people who existed in February — before cabin fever set in. They are not aliens from another planet, despite what you may think. It is still safe to go to sleep. You will not turn into a Pod. Take Sominex tonight and sleep safe and restful, sleep, sleep, sleep.

    There has been no attack of the Mole Men this year. The Mole Men remain underground, digging diligently but silently like the Pennsylvania Miners unit of Union Army at the Battle of the Crater during the siege of Petersburg in the Civil War. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee the Mole Men won’t erupt if Dear Leader loses the election and refuses to leave office, triggering Civil War 2. To be on the safe side, buy a barrel of Talprid Mole Bait for any pesky infestations of Mole Men who may pop up in your yard after the election.

    Another cheery thought for those of you who are gifted with the weight of many winters is that Soylent Green has not yet been suggested as a remedy for Social Security’s accounting issues — too many people, too little money. For those who don’t remember this excellent 1973 movie, “Soylent Green” is set in the far distant future of 2022. Life is grim, overpopulation, pollution and not enough food to go around. A big corporation has a monopoly on a food supplement called Soylent Green, which is supposedly made of plankton. It turns out Soylent Green is actually made of ground-up excess people. If the U.S. Department of Agriculture starts pushing Soylent Green instead of government cheese for the masses of unemployed Americans, at that point, you may legitimately begin to worry.

    Recently TCM showed Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” So far, homicidal birds have been confined to Bodega Bay, California and Tippi Hendren’s bouffant hairdo. To be on the safe side, keep feeding the birds. We don’t want to rile them up. Birds descended from dinosaurs. There are more of them than there are of us. Mr. Google says there are about 7.5 billion people in the world versus about 200 to 400 billion birds. Keep buying bird seed, and all will be well.

    There are good things that have happened, not just bad things that have not yet occurred in 2020. For example, Lassie came home and Timmy got out of the well. That’s a plus. Despite demands from Marvin the Martian to quarantine Earth due to the Rona, NASA recently launched the Perseverance Rover on a mission to Mars. The Rover will look for signs of life, and possibly bring Martian rocks back to Earth. Unless Marvin is able to build a great big beautiful Martian wall to keep us out, Earth will be knocking on Marvin’s door in February 2021. We shall boldly go where no man has gone before to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations and to spread Rona across the universe.

    Now don’t you feel better already? There is some good stuff out there. Kindly focus on it. As John Prine once sang, “Blow up your TV/ Throw away your paper/ Move to the country/ Build you a home/ Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches/ Try and find Jesus on your own.”

    As Floyd the barber once told Andy, “Time heals everything. Know who said that? My Latin teacher at barber college.”

  • 06 Jody DanielsLt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels is the ninth commanding general of the Army Reserve. Daniels will lead more than 200,000 soldiers and civilian employees located in 50 states, five U.S. territories and more than 30 countries. Her promotion to three-star general and assumption of command took place at Fort Bragg, where she will be headquartered. As the 34th Chief of Army Reserve, she will serve as an adviser to the Army Chief of Staff and Congress.
    “I know my squad, my team has the flexibility, creativity, innovation and the will to adapt to prevail against all enemies — to tackle them head-on,” said Daniels, who succeeds Lt. Gen. Charles D. Luckey. She has over 36 years of active and reserve military service. Throughout her career, Daniels has commanded at every level, filled a variety of military intelligence positions and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

  • 09 Fay Reg Air 2Fayetteville City Manager Doug Hewett has named Toney Coleman director of the Fayetteville Regional Airport. Coleman has served the city since 1993 as the airport deputy director. Longtime airport director Bradley Whited retired in April.
    “Dr. Coleman has more than earned this new role as director,” said Hewett. “He’s demonstrated his prowess as a subject matter expert in all things airport-related and as a superb leader. Before joining the city of Fayetteville, Coleman served 12.5 years on active duty in the U.S. Army as an Army aviator. He then served 12.5 years in the Army Reserve. He is a fixed-wing pilot and is a member of the American Association of Airport Executives. Responsibilities on the immediate horizon for Coleman will be to continue terminal renovations while securing new flights for airport customers. He holds a bachelor’s from Winston-Salem State University, a master’s from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a doctoral degree from Northcentral University.

  • 13 dane deaner opZCDREwnMI unsplash 1Farmers markets have grown in popularity in recent years. Nowadays, consumers interested in farmers markets can likely find one near their homes whether those homes are in rural communities, the suburbs or bustling cities.

    People who have never before shopped farmers markets may be curious as to why many people find them so appealing. The following are a handful of benefits of shopping farmers markets that might turn market novices into full-fledged devotees.

    Freshness: Many people visit farmers markets because the fruits and vegetables sold at such markets seem to taste more fresh than those sold at chain grocery stores. People are not mistaken, as the produce available at farmers markets often comes from local farms, meaning there's no long-distance shipping necessary. Locally sourced foods need not be frozen en route to the market, meaning foods purchased there tend to taste especially fresh.

    In-season foods: Some grocery stores may sell fruits and vegetables even when those foods are out of season. Farmers markets only sell in-season fruits and vegetables. To grow fruits and vegetables out-of-season, farmers may need to rely on chemicals or other unnatural methods. No such means are necessary when farmers stick to growing foods in-season.

    Environmental benefits: According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, food in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to consumers' plates. Such journeys burn natural resources, pollute the air and produce sizable amounts of trash that ultimately ends up in landfills and/or the world's oceans. Because food sold at farmers markets is locally sourced, considerably fewer natural resources are necessary to transport the food from farm to table, and the relatively short distances the food travels translates to less air pollution.

    Biodiversity: Many farmers market shoppers find unique foods not readily available at their local grocery stores. This is not only a great way to discover new and delicious foods but also a way to promote biodiversity.

    Hormone-free animal products: Farmers markets do not exclusively sell fruits and vegetables. Many farmers markets also are great places to find meats, cheeses and eggs. Animal products sold at farmers markets are typically antibiotic- and hormone-free, which is both more humane to the animals and healthier than animal products produced with hormones or

    Farmers markets are more accessible than ever, and the benefits to shopping such markets are endless.

    Now, more than ever before, is the perfect time to support local entrepreneurs. One of the great characteristics of Cumberland County farmers markets is that, in addition to touting agricultural goodness, other items from local entrepreneurs, like sauces and jellies, crocheted pieces, soaps and more are often offered.

    Here are a list of regular pop-up and brick-and-mortar farmers market locations.

    Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market

    Popular for its taproom, Dirtbag Ales offers a variety of fun activities throughout the year, to include a farmers market. The farmers market welcomes individuals, families and furry companions to support local artisans on Sundays through Nov. 22. The market notes on its Facebook page that it is adhering to social distancing guidelines with face masks being strongly encouraged. Preorders and prepay will be offered. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for more information on the vendor lineup. Dirtbag Ales is located at 5435 Corporation Drive. Visit -https://www.facebook.com/dirtbagalesfarmersmarket/?eid=ARBzYoEIHDqKQpjM4ryHihJaVs-4Y4SMXOSHiGJ9YmhzJ85g69SwR7dAo3tKoP6hwq215i7dwX1I3LGb&fref=tag for more information, or call 910-426-2537.

    Murchison Road Community Farmers Market

    This farmers market, located next to Fayetteville State University is a program that stems from the school's Development Corporation. Find delicious baked goods, handmade crafts and more from the area’s growers and artisans. The Murchison Road Farmer’s Market is located at 1047 Murchison Rd. The market is closed for now, but the organizers hope to resume it in the fall. To learn more, visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fayettevillefreshnc/ or call 845-216-1242.

    City Market at the Museum

    This farmers market, touting fresh produce, beautiful artwork, baked goods, soaps, candles and more is held on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-
    1 p.m. The market is held at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum, located at 325 Franklin St., giving you the perfect reason to stroll around the downtown area and support local merchants.
    For information, call 910-433-1944.

    The Reilly Road Farmers Market and Carolina Farmers Market

    This tried and true local favorite has been open for 40 years. Satisfy your sweet tooth with old-fashioned candies, honeys and jam, browse the fresh produce, or pick up some delicious cheese here. The farmers market is located at 445 N. Reilly Rd., although owner Mike Pate hopes to move into a building currently under construction at the corner of Raeford Road and Bunce Road. Pate also owns Carolina Farmers Market, a nursery with a beautiful selection of flowers, on 4400 Raeford Rd.  The Reilly Road Farmers Market is open throughout the week from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 910-868-9509 for more details. The Carolina Farmers Market is open from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. For more information, call 910-426-1575.

    Bright Beginnings

    If the evenings are more convenient for you to do your shopping, then Bright Beginnings will be the perfect market for you. The night market, located at Bright Light Brewing Company in downtown Fayetteville, is open on the first Friday of every month. Visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Bright-Beginnings-112449620380630/ or call 919-349-6062 to learn more.

  • foster musicMusic enriches people's lives in myriad ways. Age is of no consideration when it comes to benefitting from and appreciating music, but it seems that young people in particular have a lot to gain from music education.

    According to the New England Board of Higher Education, various studies have found that consistent music education can improve vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.

    In addition, the National Association for Music Education says that research has found a significant relationship between arts participation at school and academic success.

    Parents who want their children to reap the benefits of being involved with music can try the following strategies aimed at fostering a love of music in young people.

    Turn the television off and turn music on. Exposing youngsters to music is one of the simplest and most effective ways to get them to embrace it.

    For example, in lieu of turning on the television while preparing meals, parents can play music instead.

    Let youngsters pick their own songs, or mix it up by including some of mom and dad's favorites as well. Such exposure can be incredibly valuable for youngsters. In fact, a 2016 study from researchers at the University of Southern California found that musical experiences in childhood accelerate brain development. Music is especially effective at helping children in language acquisition and reading.

    Another way to build kids' enthusiasm for music is to replay some of their favorite songs. While mom and dad may cringe at the prospect of hearing "Baby Shark" several times in a row, they should take note of how enthusiastic their kids become when hearing a favorite song. That enthusiasm can benefit their language skills as they listen closely to the lyrics in an effort to memorize the words. Youngsters may not be so receptive if they don't like what they're hearing.

    Dance to music. Kids are bundles of energy, and dancing is a fun way for them to expend some of that energy. Dancing also provides a great reason to play music. Physical activity set to music can help kids burn off some extra energy as they develop their brains, making dance sessions a win-win for both parents and children.

    Embrace opportunities to see live music. Kids are often captivated by seeing musicians perform in person. When possible, take youngsters to concerts, local music festivals and/or restaurants that showcase local musicians. Such excursions may prompt youngsters to want to learn how to play, which can provide a host of additional benefits, even for especially young children.

    In fact, a 1996 study published in Nature found that first grade students who took part in music classes during art study programs experienced marked improvement in reading and math proficiency.

    Music enriches people's lives in various ways, and exposure to music at a young age can be especially valuable to children.

  • 16 Fowler Cover picDo Black lives matter in a good, almost all-white neighborhood in Raleigh?

    The Black lives in this neighborhood are two of the main characters in Raleigh author Therese Anne Fowler’s latest novel, “A Good Neighborhood.”

    Fowler became a literary hot property following her bestselling “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” in 2013 and “A Well-Behaved Woman” about Alva Smith Vanderbilt in 2018.

    The new book opens in the middle of a not unusual neighborhood conflict brought on by the tearing down of an older home that had sat on a wooded lot in Raleigh’s fictional Oakdale neighborhood. The old house and trees have been replaced by a mansion-sized house and swimming pool. The old ambience is gone. That would be bad enough, but the pool construction destroyed the roots of a giant beloved tree next door.

    The owner of the doomed tree and adjoining lot is Valerie Alston-Holt, a
    college professor who is a well-liked fixture in Oakdale.

    Valerie’s new neighbor, Brad Whitman, is a self-confident, self-made man who has built a successful heating and air conditioning business. His personal appearances on TV to promote his business have made him popular and recognizable in Raleigh. He is used to getting his way.

    Brad’s wife’s daughter, Juniper, is 17. When she was 14, she and Brad participated in a “Purity Ball.” As Brad explained to a neighbor, “Well, the ball culminates a ceremony wherein the dads promise to protect and support the girls, and the girls promise to stay virgins until after the dads hand them off at their wedding.”

    When we first meet Juniper, she is swimming in the new pool.

    So, what does all this have to do with Black Lives Matter?

    First, Valerie is Black.

    Second, she and her late husband, who was white, had a son, Xavier, who is now a senior in high school.

    Xavier is near perfect. Smart. Hard working. Courteous and considerate. Popular. A musician good enough to win a scholarship to a fine conservatory in San Francisco.

    Xavier is popular with his contemporaries of both races. He cherishes the memory of his dead white father and considers himself to be both white and Black.
    But outside of his family and friends, he is just another young Black male.

    If you have already guessed that the book’s story line will revolve around a romance between Xavier and Juniper, you have it right.

    And if you guess that Brad’s devotion to his stepdaughter and his latent racism might lead to a tragedy exacerbated by Xavier’s skin color, you already understand the Black Lives Matter connection to the story.

    Fowler’s novel has appeared at a time when the Oprah-selected and bestselling novel “American Dirt” has been roundly criticized for having been written by an author who had not actually experienced the culture she so vividly described.
    In short, the question for Fowler’s book is whether a white author can successfully write about Black characters such as Valerie and Xavier?

    Critics have different opinions about “A Good Neighborhood.”

    In The New York Times, reviewer Kiley Reid said no. She wrote, “Much like Uncle Tom, Xavier, the perfect biracial teenager, is presented as a nonthreatening fantasy for the book’s white

    On the other hand, Washington Post reviewer Jung Yun writes, “What Fowler has executed is a book in which the Black characters are thoughtfully rendered and essential to the story being told. Valerie and Xavier’s perspectives enrich and complicate a larger narrative about prejudice and how it can infiltrate even the most neighborly and seemingly open-minded of communities.”

    I agree with Jung Yun. Fowler deserves admiration and praise for carefully developing her characters and telling a disturbing story that makes her readers confront Black Lives Matter.

  • 12 CapeFearBotanicalGardenlogoHistory comes alive at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, a premier garden experience located in Fayetteville’s own backyard. The garden opened in 1989 and serves not only to educate horticulture students from nearby Fayetteville Technical Community College but the public as well. The garden is home to the numerous plant species and communities of the Cape Fear River basin.

    Educational activities for all ages abound, such as the upcoming Heritage Tour. Members and visitors are invited to join staff for a Saturday morning tour of the McCauley Heritage Garden Aug. 18 at 10 a.m. The garden is home to five historic structures, including a general store, farmhouse, tobacco barn, corn crib and the farmhouse outhouse. Guests will learn about early 1900s farm life in North Carolina and will explore the interiors of all the historic structures.

    All ages are welcome. Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by an adult.

    The garden is also excited to announce the third and final Sunset Picnic Series Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt “A Hawaiian Homicide” Aug. 21 from 5:30-8 p.m. The Owle’s arrive to discover that something mysterious has happened to the patriarch of the family, Lou Owle.

    There’s a mystery to be solved — who killed Lou Owle? So, gather up the family or friends for a social-distancing Hawaiian-style family reunion with the Owle Family and help them find Lou Owle’s killer. Gilbert Theater actors strategically staged throughout the garden will provide clues to guests in search of answers on this self-led scavenger hunt. Enjoy food available for purchase from Cousins Maine Lobster food truck and the Garden View Cafe. Beer and wine will also be available for purchase. Cool Heat will provide live music, and there will be vendors on-site for guest’s shopping pleasure.

    “The June and July events were well received and brought many first–time visitors to the garden, exposing them not only to the beauty and cultural versatility of Cape Fear Botanical Garden, but also to the talented troupe of actors from the Gilbert Theater,” said Sheila Hanrick, director of marketing and events at the garden. “We invite everyone to join us for a mysterious and fun evening on August 21.”

    Hosting cultural events in the garden’s natural setting increases public awareness of the local natural environment and exposes guests to the benefits of nature. The self-led murder mystery scavenger hunts provide the best of both worlds during COVID-19. They allow people to interact at a safe distance while supporting the Cape Fear Botanical Garden’s mission of connecting people with nature.

    End the summer with an evening at the Garden and help solve the mystery of what happened to Lou Owle.

    The Heritage Tour and “A Hawaiian Homicide” are free to Garden members and included with Garden admission for non-members. Pre-registration is required. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of participants is limited and registration may fill up quickly.  For more information, call 910-486-0221.

  • 02 01 city of fay logoThe July 31 edition of The Fayetteville Observer ran an opinion piece by Dr. James Anderson, former chancellor of Fayetteville State University, rebutting a Publisher’s Pen printed in Up & Coming Weekly July 21. Former contributor to UCW, Karl Merritt, took issue with some of Anderson’s points and reached out to both The Observer and UCW. He shares his thoughts below.

    On Sunday evening, Aug. 2, I read an opinion piece by Dr. James Anderson, former chancellor of Fayetteville State University. His comments appeared in the 31 July edition of The Fayetteville Observer. Primarily, Dr. Anderson very strongly condemned what Bill Bowman, publisher of Up & Coming Weekly newspaper, wrote in a column titled, “Leadership: What Fayetteville needs now.” It appeared in the 21 July issue.

    Almost five years ago, Bill Bowman invited me to write a column for his newspaper. We agreed that I would do so. My column was in the paper every other week until just recently when I ended it in order to take on some other projects. Over the years, I got to know Bill Bowman; got to see his love for others and for Fayetteville. I also quickly grew to appreciate his willingness to speak forthrightly regarding the challenging issues of our time. Consequently, reading what Dr. Anderson wrote was a gut-wrenching experience.

    The following paragraph from Bill’s column gives a good feel for what apparently sent Anderson on his tear. Bowman writes that there is “… plotting to take away our freedoms and our country.”

    The next paragraph says: “Fayetteville is only one microcosm of that malicious movement, and it boils down to our leadership. Or, in Fayetteville’s case, our lack of leadership. Mayor Mitch Colvin and Police Chief Gina Hawkins have perpetrated a harsh injustice on our community by not implementing and demonstrating leadership that is representative of the safety and well-being of all the citizens of the Fayetteville community. By encouraging, endorsing and siding with the protesting Black community, they left the white, Asian, Hispanic and Native American Fayetteville citizens wondering what happened to their representation and assurance of safety and protection?”

    Anderson starts by accusing Bowman of “confounding several things.” I read the publisher’s point to be succinct. He says Mayor Colvin and Police Chief Gina Hawkins failed this community when they did not allow police and other appropriate personnel to stop the damage to property that took place during a protest downtown on May 30. That is a statement of fact. Mayor Colvin has made it clear that a decision was made not to attempt to stop the damaging of buildings. His argument was that the consequences would likely have been made worse by police intervention. The problem with that assessment is that government had a responsibility to protect those downtown properties. Failure to do so rightfully allows for questioning city leadership.

    Then comes three comments from Anderson regarding Bowman’s statement that the actions “perpetrated a harsh injustice on our community.” The first contends that “leaders should be evaluated on their complete portfolio of work and not single incidents.” I contend that failure to protect those properties was so egregious that, taken alone, there is sufficient reason to question the quality and fairness of city leadership. However, go on to consider the chaos created by how city leadership has, and is, handling calls for tearing down the Market House, building the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center, protesters camping out at the Market House to the detriment of downtown businesses, and promoting a climate conducive to economic growth. None of these issues are being addressed in a productive and unifying fashion.

    Then Dr. Anderson writes, “Second, we have no right to assign motives for their actions if we have not asked them.” For all the time that I have been writing for publication, it has been my practice to give individuals about whom I write an opportunity to give me input. I have gone so far as to allow subjects to review my text for accuracy. I have consistently followed this process with Mayor Colvin. After the first couple of exchanges, when the mayor obviously disagreed with my opinions, he stopped responding to my email offers to consider his input.

    The latest instance of no response from Mayor Colvin was an email I sent to him and all members of Council. It was sent on 16 July 2020. To date, I have not heard from the mayor. In fact, only a minuscule number of Council members have bothered to respond. That email offered each of them an opportunity to address an opinion piece that I am writing and the email summarized my focus as follows (The full email is available at karlmerritt.com under “Blog”.) “The focus is on how individuals, governmental officials, and various entities have responded, and continue to respond, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. It seems to me that the resulting efforts are so heavily focused on various conditions allegedly negatively affecting Black Americans that the white population is being neglected while, even worse, being painted as the enemy. Note, I am not alone in this thinking. I saw a post on Nextdoor recently where a lady said exactly the same thing. She and I are not alone.”

    The point here is that I have zero belief that Mayor Colvin would have responded if Bill Bowman had attempted to contact him. Further, from reliable media reports and input from people in the downtown area, Bowman had sound substantiation for everything he wrote.

    After a brief third point commending people who take on major responsibilities, Anderson moves to the prevailing argument that there are genuine protesters, then rioters and looters. Then comes his contention that because rioters and looters constitute a smaller percentage than the protesters, there should be conversation as to how their disruptions might be addressed. It would appear to me the first step should be to stop them from damaging the property of other people, while adversely impacting livelihoods. As to conversation, it would be interesting to see what groups would actually be invited and which voices would seriously be heard. In today’s environment, my guess is that white Americans need not expect an invitation and, if invited, should not speak unless they follow the Black Lives Matter script.

    In the event all else fails, now Bowman gets hit with the race card. Anderson writes, “This is not the first time that Bill has applied the broad brushstrokes of race to indict a Black person.” Without giving the Black person’s name, he recounts how Bowman “…placed a Black man’s face on the cover of his newspaper and inserted this man’s face onto a facsimile of a wanted poster. This person’s purported crime was that he was running for public office while being investigated for some questionable personal quandaries.”

    He is referring to Tyrone Williams, who was serving on Fayetteville City Council in early 2018. Following is a section from an article in The Fayetteville Observer by Greg Barnes titled, “Williams resigns council seat”:
    “Williams came under fire nearly a month ago after The Fayetteville Observer published a secret audio recording of a December meeting during which he told a developer that he could resolve a minor issue with a property title for $15,000. The council immediately asked Williams to resign. When he refused, the council began a process of forcible removal that would have taken a few months.”

    Williams was forced from office because of his action that Dr. Anderson characterizes as “some questionable personal quandaries.” He further minimizes the situation by saying that, to his knowledge, Williams has never been convicted. Was it wise for Bill Bowman to use that wanted poster in America’s “with no proof or fairness, racist around every corner” atmosphere? No. Does it show him to be racist? Absolutely not.

    Finally, Anderson challenges Bowman’s contention that people are afraid to speak up; Bill lays those fears out. Anderson apparently thinks Bill’s comments here only apply to white citizens. I know, firsthand, that what he says in this regard is absolutely true. I hear it from Black and white citizens. The unsettling treatment I receive as a conservative Black Republican would apparently shock Dr. Anderson. Anybody who follows Bill Bowman’s advice and speaks up better be prepared for rough seas; but he is right, we better speak up and take action.

    I have tremendous respect for Dr. James Anderson, but I will not be quiet in the face of his unjustified broadside on Bill Bowman.

    02 02 christina wocintechchat com LQ1t 8Ms5PY unsplash








    Picture: Spirited debate is a sign of a healthy democracy and has the power to bridge differences and influence change.
    Up & Coming Weekly encourages the civil public discourse of ideas, which is a hallmark of our great republic.

  • 04 N1805P50006CAs if the COVID crisis and economic recession weren’t bad enough, here’s some more bad news to process: homicide rates are spiking in many North Carolina communities.

    Through the end of July, 32 people in Greensboro have been the victims of homicide so far this year, up 52 percent from the count during the first seven months of 2019. Charlotte’s 68 homicides are up more than 11 percent from last year and more than double the comparable count for 2018. In Winston-Salem, homicides are up 17 percent over 2019. In Durham, homicides have tripled.

    These developments are part of a national trend. Homicides are up 14 percent so far this year in Los Angeles, 24 percent in New York, 27 percent in Houston, 32 percent in Phoenix, and 52 percent in Chicago.

    I know what you’re thinking. You’ve probably already seen or heard the argument that the antipolice protests that erupted a couple of months ago, after the highly publicized death of George Floyd, explain the recent increase in homicides — that as embattled law-enforcement officers withdraw from urban centers, violence is surging.

    Advocates of police reform resist this explanation, however. They point out that homicides were going up in many places before Floyd’s death and the ensuing street protests, that “defunding the police” and other radical demands have yet to be acted on in most cases, and that, in fact, other reported crimes are often flat or declining in the very cities where homicides are rising.

    The skeptics are certainly right to point out that events in May and June can’t be the cause of events in January or February. Indeed, as I noted, Charlotte’s murder rate went up more in 2019 than in 2020. These are complicated matters, to say the least. But it strains credulity to argue that adverse pressure on law enforcement isn’t a significant part of the problem.

    Keep in mind that while some of the homicide spikes predate May, so do politicized attacks on police departments. Remember the Charlotte riots that followed the death of Keith Lamont Scott in 2016? He had brandished a pistol at police officers and refused repeated commands to drop the gun.

    Moreover, as The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, the divergence between homicides and other crimes could be the result of the pandemic.

    “Police in many departments said robberies, burglaries and rapes are down so far this year because more people stayed home during COVID-19 lockdowns, leaving fewer prospective victims on the streets, in bars or other public places,” The Journal reported. “Homicides, on the other hand, are up because violent criminals have been emboldened by the sidelining of police, courts, schools, churches and an array of other social institutions by the reckoning with police and the pandemic, say analysts and law-enforcement officials in several cities.”

    As for calls to reform the police, the specifics matter. The public largely agrees with constructive proposals to enhance training, increase transparency, and hold departments accountable in egregious cases. But slashing police budgets, discouraging people from cooperating with police investigations, and pulling officers back from high-crime neighborhoods are unpopular — and rightly so.

    Context also matters, as a recent study by two Harvard University scholars discovered when they examined the effects of federally ordered investigations of police departments on subsequent rates of crime.

    Generally speaking, they found that investigations of police procedures didn’t affect criminality. But in communities where there was a high-profile death at the hands of police — think Baltimore, Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri — the federally ordered investigations that came afterward were associated with large increases in homicides and other felonies in those cities. The likely mechanism, they found, was that embattled departments were pulling back from policing risky neighborhoods. “There is no free lunch,” the researchers concluded. “If the price of policing increases, officers are rational to retreat. And, retreating disproportionately costs Black lives.”

    There is no shortage of useful ideas for improving the quality of policing. But if we end up reducing the quantity of policing, our cities will be less safe.

  • 07 cape fear valley med ctrCape Fear Valley Health System has ended the temporary furlough of staff, which began March 29, with the closure of nonessential surgeries, procedures and diagnostic testing because of COVID-19. Seven hundred eighty-three employees were furloughed. Employees covered by the system’s health plan kept their health insurance benefits during the leave time. Cape Fear Valley paid premiums during the furlough. There has been a resumption of surgeries, imaging tests and other procedures requiring staff members. Health Plex employees will return when Gov. Roy Cooper reopens fitness centers. All but 28 full-time and 33 part-time furloughed employees are returning. They will be offered priority placement within the health system, severance pay based on their length of employment, and comprehensive outplacement services.

  • 10 N1601P38011CThe Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center is a community blood program that serves the needs of patients in Cumberland, Hoke and Bladen Counties through blood donation by individual donors, community organizations and businesses.
    The center is located at 3357 Village Drive, 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.
    Here’s a list of upcoming community blood drives:
    Saturday Aug. 15 at St. Ann Catholic Church, 357 N. Cool Springs St. 9 a.m.-noon.
    Saturday, Aug. 22 at Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson, 3950 Sycamore Dairy Rd. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
    Call 910-615-3305 for more information.

  • 05 N2008P39008CThe presence of ungodly mobs on the streets of many American cities, every night, is clear proof of the miseducation which has been taking place in our education system.

    The great sacrifices made by earlier generations of Americans have been forgotten by much of the present generation.

    Forgotten too, were the great godly principles, this great nation was founded upon.

    The past great contributions America has made to this world (are) all but forgotten. Without America’s contributions in feeding many parts of this world, and in defeating many past evil enemies in the world, this world would be in terrible shape. We need to thank God for this nation, and we also need to thank America for trying to follow God’s principles.

    America needs to get back to God and to the just laws and principles set forth by him. Obviously, rioting, looting, burning, disrespecting and killing law enforcement (and) fellow human beings are just the opposite of what God commands his created human world to do.

    You should have been taught that at home and in school.

    Unfortunately, for America, too many ungodly people were placed in the Supreme Court of America, and they voted God out of schools and government places.

    That was not all their ungodly decisions. They also went against God’s laws and legalized the killing of unborn babies and other abominations, such as same-sex marriage.

    Once upon a time, laws required schools to teach about God and his word (the Bible). Now because of Court decisions, they cannot.

    Now a large part of America does not know about God, eternal life and eternal damnation. Because they do not know, they will eventually spend eternity in hell, and the lake of fire. Two places, one would not want to be in for eternity.

    Manuel Ybarra Jr.

  • Not even a global pandemic could stop the Poetic Pathos poetry team from Gray’s Creek High School enjoying its best-ever finish in a national poetry competition recently.

    The team had to cope with a variety of challenges as it participated in the 23rd annual Brave New Voices competition, originally scheduled for Washington, D.C., but changed to a virtual format via Zoom because of the COVID-19

    The Gray’s Creek poets advanced all the way to the final round the final full week of July and finished third among the 12 teams that were able to participate in the event.

    Joel Mayo started the Poetic Pathos group at Gray’s Creek in 2014 with the goal of bringing the youth in the community together and giving them the opportunity to share their voice through the medium of spoken poetry.
    The Brave New Voices competition is usually a much bigger deal with some 50 teams from around the United States as well as foreign countries.

    But even with a smaller event, the Gray’s Creek group found a way to make history. According to Mayo, this was the first time a North Carolina team made the finals of the competition.

    Nicole Rivers, another English teacher who has been at Gray’s Creek for 10 years, assisted Mayo with coaching the current team. She said the slam poetry style that the team uses offers many benefits.

    “It allows them to assess who they are on the inside — and in the world around them — in a very honest way,’’ Rivers said. “That is why it is so positive. It makes them think critically about what’s going on inside them and around them.’’

    Rivers said it also gives students a different perspective on poetry, stopping them from thinking that poetry is something created only by authors who are elderly or deceased. “It’s not about the past,’’ Rivers said. “It’s about the moment, and they get to express that. That’s what makes it relevant. It’s close to genres of music that they hear now.’’

    Members of the team that competed in this year’s Brave New Voices included Isa Meachum, Miya Walters, Yasmine Saintjuste, Kine Clark and Natalie Blacker.

    Meachum said one of the biggest challenges of this year’s competition was not being able to be face-to-face with team members or to have an audience in front of them since all of the competition was done on Zoom.

    “When you have a crowd in front of you, it allows you to feed off the energy when you’re doing good,’’ Meachum said. “You can really build off what they give you.’’

    Another challenge came from situations where the team did a group performance. In order to avoid exposing the team members to face-to-face contact because of the virus, they elected to prerecord all of their group performances for the competition on Zoom.

    Meachum said that was a challenge, especially when it came to getting timing right. “On Zoom there could be a little lag if they are not there with you,’’ he said. “It’s hard to be in sync.’’

    The virtual nature of the competition was actually a benefit to one team member, Miya Walters, who was vacationing with her family during the event and had to take part in Brave New Voices while away from home.

    Still, Walters said it was difficult to coordinate. “We had to do a lot of video takes,’’ she said. “That was hard because we had different internet connections. We had to time our speech so we didn’t have overlap or have a pause because we were timed for our competition.’’

    Walters felt the passion and the knowledge of the Gray’s Creek team were the keys to their best finish ever at this level of competition. But Walters didn’t think winning was the most important thing.

    “We went there as a team and wanted to say what we had to say for ourselves,’’ she said.

    She hoped the win helped the team show, as she put it, that poetry isn’t something about whining on a stage and complaining. “It’s starting a conversation that needs to be had,’’ she said. “It shows poetry is much deeper than that poem you had to write in your first year of English class.

    “People may not realize the simple things they are writing in their diary every day may be something that needs to be said on stage. It (poetry) shows people they can really use their voice.’’

    18 01 joel mayo

    18 02 nicole rivers18 03 isa meachum18 04 miya walters

    L-R: Joel Mayo, Nicole Rivers, Isa Meachum, Miya Walters.


  • 10 N1910P35011CThe city of Fayetteville is assisting low- and moderate-income citizens with their rent, utilities and mortgage payments in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Qualified residents are eligible to receive up to $2,000 toward rent, utilities or mortgage payments. Call 2-1-1 and ask for COVID rental, mortgage or utility assistance, or visit https://www.nc211.org. The city of Fayetteville’s Economic and Community Development Department is charged with creating programs using CARES Act funds to help citizens during the pandemic. Applicants must provide past due notices from landlords or utility providers. This is a one-time assistance program, and applicants must live in Fayetteville. This relief effort was made possible by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Information about local relief efforts is available at https://www.fayettevillenc.gov/city-services/economic-community-development.


  • 13 trump azar fujfilm 1024x683If Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine gets approved, manufacturers in North Carolina hope to have millions of doses already prepared and immediately ready to immunize residents.

    Fujifilm Diosynth, a Japanese contract drug manufacturer, is making the main component of Novavax’s potential coronavirus vaccine in Research Triangle Park. The manufacturer is stockpiling vaccine ingredients to prepare for the day the vaccine could be approved, says Marin Meeson, CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth.

    The federal government has invested $1.6 billion in the little-known Maryland company Novavax — the largest deal yet from Operation Warp Speed, the federal push to mass produce coronavirus vaccines. The operation aims to make 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine available to the public by January. It has poured nearly $4 billion into six potential vaccines.

    If Novavax’s vaccine proves successful, the federal government will own 100 million doses, enough to immunize at least 50 million U.S. residents.

    “America will develop a vaccine very soon, we will defeat the virus. We’ll have it delivered in record time,” President Donald Trump said before touring Fujifilm Diosynth’s facilities in North Carolina on Monday, July 28.

    According to the World Health Organization, Novavax is in an earlier phase of testing than at least seven of its competitors. Novavax’s vaccine candidate is about to finish the first of three clinical trial phases.

    “We should have a considerable amount, multi millions of doses available by the time that the vaccine is proven effective,” Meeson told Carolina Journal about the manufacturing process. He says his staff are doing the work of months in just weeks.

    In May, Novavax began testing the vaccine in 130 people, and researchers anticipate reporting the preliminary results by the end of July. They expect to advance to Phase 2 in August, and to begin the final Phase 3 sometime in the fall.
    “This is being developed at warp speed,” Novavax said.

    Across the world, researchers are chasing more than 164 COVID-19 vaccine candidates, but only 25 vaccines are being tested in humans. Five vaccine projects are in the final phase of testing. Two of those five projects are based in China, and another is tied to Britain and Sweden. An Australian company is also in the final stage of testing a tuberculosis vaccine to determine whether it can protect against the coronavirus.

    So far, Moderna is one of two U.S. companies to reach the final trial.

    Moderna this week launched its final trial to enroll 30,000 people across the county. The Trump administration has also struck an agreement with Pfizer, a company based in New York City working with companies based in Germany and China. Pfizer began its third trial Monday, July 27.

    Experts hope Novavax offers a faster way to manufacture coronavirus vaccines. Moderna’s candidate relies on fragile RNA molecules, and it must be stored in sub-zero temperatures — complicating rollout in rural areas and scattered populations. Novavax declined to comment on the storage of its vaccine candidate.

    Novavax hopes to provoke an immune response with coronavirus proteins.

    Fujifilm Diosynth makes coronavirus proteins by using moth cells as factories. This offers a quicker way to mass produce vaccines than the mammal cells employed by normal vaccines.
    This could save critical time in vaccine distribution, says Meeson.

    “It is a few days shorter, the process. Once we start ramping up the manufacturing, it will be an advantage for us,” Meeson said. “You need to grow the cells, the virus, and that takes time. When that’s a little bit quicker, that means we can do more. … It’s not a massive difference, but it certainly will help.”

    The federal investment marked a dramatic change in Novavax’s fortunes. A year ago, the company was fighting financial collapse. One of its major vaccine candidates failed twice in three years. The company sold off its manufacturing facilities, and its stock fell so low that it risked being taken off the NASDAQ electronic stock exchange, reported the New York Times.

    After 33 years of business, Novavax has never brought a vaccine to market, the Times reported.

    If researchers can develop a vaccine by the end of the year, or within a 12- to 18-month timeline, it will shatter the normal timeline to develop vaccines.
    “It’s normally nine to 12 months before we’d start making products at this level, and we’ve started this process in a matter of weeks,” Meeson said.

  • 14 N1908P39002CWhile art is good for humanity in general and can have positive impacts across a person’s lifespan, it can be especially beneficial in how children develop. A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, participate in a math and science fair or win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate. And honestly, whether it is dance, drawing, writing creating, sculpting, or you name it — art is fun. However, engaging in art during a pandemic looks and feels different than art-related events did pre-COVID. Check out some of the upcoming opportunities to support youth in the arts — and keep your creative juices flowing, too.

    Sunday, Aug. 9, from 7-8:30 p.m., join the community for a virtual fundraising event. This event is different because it is by kids and for kids. Tune-in to Facebook on the LeClair’s General Store page for a variety show with individual performances as kids entertain from their homes — separately but together. The event also includes an online auction with one-of-a-kind artworks created by local youth throughout the community.

    The goal of the event is to make local arts organizations accessible to all youth regardless of race, beliefs, disability or economic status. The event benefits the following organizations and their youth scholarship funds: Cape Fear Regional Theatre, The Gilbert Theater, Carolina Performing Arts Studio and Temple Theatre. Search “Kids With Hearts For The Arts! A Virtual Fundraising Event!” on Facebook for more information.

    Gilbert Theater rolls out its adult theater education series starting Saturday, Aug. 15, with a session titled “Singing with Sarah.” Directed by education director at the Gilbert and voice teacher Sarah Chapman, the event offers a short introduction to singing for the stage and preparing for auditions as well as some fun singy-songy exercises. The class runs from 10 a.m.-noon.

    The second session in the four-part series is titled “Improvisation with Gage” and runs from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Aug. 22. Instructor Gage Long will help attendees not only better understand improv but help them get more comfortable and proficient with it, too.

    Saturday, Sept. 12, the “Stage Makeup/Special Effects” session offers a look at the basics of stage makeup, in addition to special effects like wounds and age — and perhaps even a space alien. The class runs from noon-2 p.m.

    The session “Intermediate Acting Techniques” brings instructor Justin Toyer’s talents to the forefront. He’ll outline basic acting techniques, audition preparation, memorization techniques and how to connect with your character emotionally. The class is from 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Sept. 5.

    Find out more about these and other opportunities at Gilbert Theater at http://gilberttheater.com/education.php.

  • 12 cumberland hoke harnett map 2Fayetteville’s Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area has been expanded for the first time in modern memory. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget recently announced that the Fayetteville metropolitan statistical area has been augmented to include Harnett County. The MSA was originally comprised of Cumberland and Hoke counties. This change has increased the total Fayetteville MSA population to 526,719, up by nearly 30 percent. According to the U.S. Census, Fayetteville is now ranked as the 108th largest MSA in the U.S.

    “Cumberland County plays a central role in southeast North Carolina. It is home to three major universities and a community college, as well as home to Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the world and home to the Woodpeckers, a Houston Astros affiliated Class A Advanced baseball team,” said Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin. “We also have a solid workforce... with much to offer those businesses that might choose to come to this region. As the sixth-largest city in the state, there is a deep connection between Fayetteville and the neighboring counties through commerce, employment, health care and leisure activities.”

    Large companies often consider MSA size and workforce numbers in the search for new locations. These factors are key in the early stages of site selection, and for Fayetteville, this change reinforces the community as a commerce center. Located on the I-95 corridor, this new data illustrates that Cumberland County is drawing workers from up to an hour away. “Fayetteville’s MSA expansion will increase competitiveness for economic development projects and enhance the marketing and promotion of the region,” said Andrew Pennink, chairman of Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation.

    The city and county regularly compete against larger MSAs when recruiting businesses that are looking to expand or relocate. This change will more accurately reflect the community’s size and increase its chances of success. An MSA is a geographical zone with an urban center of 50,000 residents or more that has close economic ties throughout the adjacent counties. The OMB determines MSA size and mandates that each member county show 25 percent more of economic integration with the urban center.

    Increasing an MSA size can position a community to receive additional federal funding, increase the amount of economic information developed by private and nonprofit statistical agencies and raise the visibility for national or multistate site selection searches. “We believe Cumberland County draws in more people than shown, and we are proactively participating in the protocol development for the next recalculation,” said Marshall Faircloth, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.

    The United States Office of Management and Budget delineates metropolitan statistical areas according to published standards that are applied to census bureau data. The general concept of a metropolitan statistical area is that of a core area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core. Current metropolitan statistical area delineations were announced by OMB effective March 2020.

  • 02 01 Ann Patchett color 2Fayetteville is the greatest and we love this community. I personally want to say “thank you” for the dozens of calls, emails, letters, tweets and texts we have received from like-minded residents of Fayetteville who share our concerns, love and passion for this community.  Unfortunately, I cannot share their thoughts with you because we must respect their privacy and take precautions as not to expose them to the “cancel culture” mob whose mission is to retaliate against those whose opinions and demands do not adhere to theirs. They do this regardless of race, color or creed. No one is exempt. This being the case, I thought it would be fitting to remind them and the community of our inherent constitutional rights and the amendments therein that separate us from totalitarian Marxist, socialist and communist tyrants. You know, that document that makes America, America. Home of the brave and land of the free! So, to this end, thanks to the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, the North Carolina Press Association with the support from USA Today and the Associated Press we are sharing with you a national campaign featuring celebrities to remind us about the value and importance of freedom of press, speech and other freedoms of the First Amendment.

    Enjoy and thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.
    02 02 Colton Dixon color 102 05 Michael W Smith color 0
    02 03 Darius Rucker color 0
    02 06 Ruta Sepetys color 202 04 Kane Brown color 1

  • 20 Astin WarrenAustin Warren arrived in Tempe, Arizona, at the Los Angeles Angels minor league baseball spring training camp in February anxious to continue working on his dream of making it to the major leagues.

    But after a few weeks working out with the other early arrivals, and almost the same time as his mother Alana Hix and other relatives arrived to watch him play spring training games, minor league baseball joined the rest of the sports world in shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Now back in Fayetteville, the Terry Sanford High School and UNC-Wilmington product is working out three days a week and waiting like everyone else in minor league baseball to find out what the future holds, both for the sport in general and his career.

    Warren started 2019 with the Inland Empire advanced Class A team in San Bernardino, California, then he was briefly assigned to the Mobile Bay Class AA team in Alabama. He was in Mobile long enough to compile a 1-2 record with a 2.57 earned run average, walking nine batters and striking out 14.

    Team assignments for the aborted 2020 minor league season weren’t to be made until near the end of spring training, but Warren said he expected he would have been sent to Los Angeles’ new Class AA near Huntsville, Alabama, the Rocket City Trash Pandas.

    Even after the season was canceled, Warren hoped to stay in Tempe and get in some more workouts, but while hiking there with family a couple of days after the season was halted, Warren got the word from team officials that nobody could stay behind and everyone had to return to their homes.

    Since coming back to Fayetteville, Warren has divided his time between here and his old college haunts in Wilmington, while working out locally to stay in shape and keep his pitching as honed as much as possible.

    During his brief time in Arizona this year, he did get to do some bullpen work as well as throw live batting practice against some of the Angels’ major league players.

    He said coaches from the Angels have been in regular contact with him since he came home, checking on his health and conditioning.

    As for what will happen next with minor league baseball, Warren said he’s just as much in the dark as everyone else.

    “I’m hoping they will start some kind of fall league like I was in last year,’’ Warren said. “I’m sure winter ball teams will reach out to people. You never know what’s going on with this virus. You’ve got to play it by ear.’’

    Warren said the formula for advancing further in the sport is simple. “You’ve got to throw strikes, pound the zone and like everyone says trust your defense,’’ he said. Warren feels he’s improved all of his pitches and has the confidence to throw any pitch in any situation.

    “I just can’t wait to get back with the guys and get things rolling again,’’ he said.

    Pictured: Austin Warren

  • 19 Trey EdgeLike everyone else who considers themselves a fan of high school football, Trey Edge is trying to stay optimistic that the powers that be making decisions about whether the sport will be played this fall in North Carolina are looking into all the options possible for safely returning coaches and athletes to the practice and playing fields.

    But at the same time, the radio voice of Terry Sanford High School football broadcasts is realistic enough to know the COVID-19 pandemic presents an array of challenges to everyone involved that is difficult to sort through.

    “The kids’ health comes first,’’ said Edge, who was a quarterback himself during his high school days at his alma mater Terry Sanford. “It’s also an issue of how do you test everybody. It’s a money thing.’’

    He added that’s the big difference between football at the professional, college and high school levels. Both the NFL and college football have deeper pockets to afford the expensive testing that COVID-19 requires. High schools don’t have that luxury, without considerable outside assistance that’s not readily available.

    That’s ironic because high school football is the major source of revenue for schools to support the entire athletic program. “The fear is we don’t get to play this fall,’’ Edge said. “The bigger fear is that these kids are okay. It’s a lot of responsibility for the county and the coaches.’’

    As a former player, Edge has memories of what a high school locker room is like. He agrees with Pine Forest football coach Bill Sochovka, who recently compared working with a football team like the environment of a petri dish where bacteria is grown and studied for experiments.

    “It sounds barbaric to talk about it but it’s sweat and it’s dirt,’’ Edge said of the atmosphere in a locker room after both a practice and
    a game.

    “Preventing that spread from even starting is a big problem. I think you have to go into it with wide eyes and know someone, somewhere is going to test positive. Then what happens when they do?’’

    Edge said a bubble like the NBA, WNBA and NHL are using is out of the question for high school sports, adding that coaches and athletic directors will have to be especially creative in finding a solution to the problem.
    As a starting point, he said it’s critical everyone continues what’s being done: masks, social distancing and washing of hands.

    While some coaches have pushed for a return to practice, saying we need to accept the disease for what it is and just be as safe as we can in spite of it, Edge said the safety of the athletes has to remain the top concern.

    “I can understand the desperation,’’ Edge said. “It’s a moving target. We miss football, but can you find a way to do it?’’

    Pictured: Trey Edge

  • 16 N1907P37002CMy wife and I share a date with one of America's most memorable and celebrated events.

    On the 20th of July in 1969, America claimed its place in history as the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle landed and the first human walked on the face of the moon. We heard those famous words, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as they were first spoken and television news large and small worked tirelessly to deliver even the most minute detail of the historic event to a waiting world.

    Just 10 years later, on July 20, 1979, Dorothy Aafedt said, “I do” in a remarkably unremarkable ceremony. Unlike the NASA mission, there were no television crews, no microphones or calculated illustrations — just a pair of kids surrounded by a couple of friends and family in a courtroom in southern Arizona. At the time, it seemed like a small step, but it has proven to be a giant leap as we've continued to mark time since that date. We recently celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary, and it's given me cause to reflect on all that's transpired since our historic first steps.

    Time has allowed us several years in Europe with our three children and a home on both the east and west coasts of the United States. The small, quiet union of two youngsters from Kansas gave way to an eventual family of 18 — counting grandchildren and spouses. All but one now call North Carolina home.

    As a military family, we share memories of being diverted en route — never once landing at our intended destination at the point of our departure. We've relocated to Germany as our belongings relocated to Okinawa and have lived in hotels and motels on two continents, while making new friends time and again.

    Over the course of the last four decades, one thing has become evident: there is nothing more important in a marriage than the relationship between husband and wife. When other things became more important, such as careers, children, and personal pursuits, trouble isn't far behind. Though I've failed miserably at this on occasion, the facts show that when we make the relationship our top priority, the marriage

    Just like any other married couple, we've had our share of trials. From the lack of to the abundance of money to devastating loss and health crises, we've navigated a lot of territory in the past four decades. And honestly, I don't know how we would have fared had we not put our faith in Christ early in the game.

    God has proven trustworthy. When we faced struggles, we've been able to lean on the promise that there is more to this life than living and dying or meeting and missing bills. Even death has stared us in the face, but with God in our corner, though our knees have gotten weak at times, we never blinked.

  • 15 01 HarmonyHarmony at Hope Mills, a local senior living center, is a community-oriented environment that has been in operation since February 2019. It offers assisted living and secured assisted living services to seniors and has met and exceeded the needs of those who benefit from their services.

    The company was founded in 2005 by Jim Smith. Under the guidance of Smith and William Holmes, executive vice president of development and construction for Smith Packett Med-Com, it expanded the occupancy and operated The Village at Pheasant Ridge. Through this experience, Smith saw the opportunity to create Harmony Senior Services and seized it, laying the groundwork for what would become the Harmony Communities.

    Harmony at Hope Mills came into existence through Smith-Packett contracting a purchase of an existing 80-bed Certificate of Need license and another existing 20-bed CON in 2016.

    15 02 roundtable discussion“SP also commenced construction of the community in July of 2017 and obtained a Certificate of Occupancy in September of 2018. Shortly thereafter, Harmony Senior Services opened the community as the operator,” said Holmes.

    The benefits of living at Harmony are numerous. The parent company of the organization decided to put a location in the Cumberland County area because, according to a demographic study, the location is close to seniors or relatives of seniors and it’s a highly desirable location.

    Harmony at Hope Mills stands out from other assisted living centers partly by making it easier for the residents to adjust from living on their own to living at Harmony. Even though this can be difficult for some, Armstrong says, “when they tour our community, they experience how bright it is — and clean. Also, all the living spaces in the assisted living neighborhood are apartments ranging from studio to 2-bedroom. It feels very much like independent living.”

    There are many benefits to to assisted living in comparison to nursing homes. Many of the residents no longer live at home, and the residence helps meet the needs of the residents that would go unfulfilled if they stayed alone. According to Melannie Armstrong, the director of sales and marketing at Harmony at Hope Mills, some of the residents who come to the center were likely not taking meds properly, eating right, having visitors and bathing properly. In addition to helping with these necessities, this retirement community provides memory care services.

    In assisted living, residents have more freedom to do activities that they are interested in than they might if they lived in a nursing home or if they lived alone as some activities are less accessible. From afternoons filled with artistic fun to wine and cheese with friends, Harmony offers life’s little luxuries for its residents. Additionally, the convenient location of the facility makes favorite locations among locals, like Cape Fear Regional Theatre and Cape Fear Botanical Garden, just a hop, skip and a jump away.

    One of the activities at Harmony at Hope Mills that differentiates it from the other retirement communities is the community roundtables they host.

    “Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Harmony partnered with the town of Hope Mills and Up & Coming Weekly to host a series of community roundtables at the Harmony complex,” Bill Bowman, the organizer of the roundtable discussion, said.

    “This event allowed the community to meet with local Hope Mills officials to discuss the important issues of the community while showcasing Harmony’s complex and the amenities it offered the community,” he explained. “Harmony has definitely established itself as a dedicated supporting business and a refreshing home away from home for many Hope Mills residents.”

    The benefits of doing these events are that they are great for networking and allow seniors to be immersed in the culture of Hope Mills.

    “It’s important that our community create alliances and relationships with the businesses and officials of the city,” said Armstrong.

    According to a 2018 report from the United States Census Bureau, there will be more seniors than children by the year 2035. As America grays, the need for facilities that will deliver on their promises and properly care for seniors, especially those in need of more assistance, is evident. This community does just that.

    Harmony at Hope Mills has been in operation since its establishment and continues to serve and cater to the needs of every senior that lives in the assisted living facility within their local community. This retirement community has met and exceeded the needs of those that are benefiting from their services by ensuring that they are comfortable with where they are living along with providing transportation to their medical appointments. This is a community that cares about its residents and has adapted its services to meet its residents’ needs. Harmony is a choice that, locally and nationwide, is tried and true.

  • 03 cdc d3fe9qJDqaI unsplashBenjamin Franklin is famously quoted as saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The United States has long prepared for pandemics, such as the one we are facing with the coronavirus right now, through programs established in the aftermath of the anthrax attacks of the early 2000s. These vital programs give the United States the necessary infrastructure to respond to both natural disease outbreaks and biological and chemical warfare.

    I worked on improving these bipartisan programs in 2018 and 2019 with President Donald Trump signing the reauthorization bill into law last June. We made numerous improvements, incorporating lessons learned from the Zika and Ebola outbreaks earlier in the decade. Unfortunately, the coronavirus is a sophisticated virus unlike any the world has seen before.

    As we continue to address the coronavirus, I am committed to getting our country the resources we need so that we can reopen and rebuild our economy.

    My colleagues and I immediately began assessing the weak links in our defenses and crafting solutions to improve the programs we rely on for pandemic preparedness. Since early March, we have been working with the Trump administration to identify what solutions are necessary to better equip our country to respond to outbreaks like the coronavirus.

    That’s why my colleagues and I introduced the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act, a bipartisan package of measures to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical medical supplies needed to fight COVID-19. We must boost domestic manufacturing so American workers can make those supplies here at home. We also must make much-needed improvements and updates to America’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of personal protective equipment and the Strategic National Stockpile and this legislation will deliver critical investments in our ability to respond to and prepare for public health crises like coronavirus.

    Building on this legislation, this week I will be introducing a bipartisan bill to establish a commission to study the drug supply chain. This commission will provide recommendations to Congress on two fronts. The first is solutions to increase drug manufacturing capacity in the United States. Second is actions necessary to ensure domestic manufacturing is able to maintain a sufficient supply of drugs in the event of a public health emergency such as the coronavirus outbreak.

    This builds on the incredible and groundbreaking work President Trump is doing through Operation Warp Speed. This project aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine for coronavirus by January 2021. The president has invested in building manufacturing capacity for several vaccine candidates, which have shown promise in safety and efficacy trials. One of these candidates, manufactured by Moderna Therapeutics, is already enterting phase 3 of clinical trials—the last phase before final FDA Approval. It is important to note that while this groundbreaking program has accelerated development of vaccines at an unprecedented rate never seen before, it has not compromised the safety or standards needed for a drug to come to market.

    Coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on the United States and the rest of the world, but it has not dampened our fighting spirit or drive for innovation. I am proud of the bipartisan work we are doing in Congress, working with the Administration to beat coronavirus and improve our ability to respond to future outbreaks. By working together, I am confident that we can protect public health and get our economy back on track to set new records for jobs and prosperity in our community.

  • 11 19 WATA Logo 011Eighteen local nonprofit organizations are recipients of Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County grants, totaling $571,500, for 2020-2021. Three large nonprofit agencies in Cumberland County, Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the Cape Fear Botanical Garden received substantial financial awards. Cape Fear Regional Theatre — $225,000; Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra — $121,500; Cape Fear Botanical Garden — $90,000.

    “As we all navigate through this pandemic, it’s imperative that we lessen the economic fallout many organizations and nonprofits are currently experiencing,” said Bob Pinson, interim president of the Arts Council. “Now more than ever, the Arts Council will continue to support the arts community through our various granting programs as we adapt to our new environment.”

    Grant funding is received from the city of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the Cumberland County Occupancy Tax. State funds are provided through a grant from the Grassroots Arts Program of the North Carolina Arts Council. Additional funds are provided through the support of individual donors.

  • 07 anthony indraus Bb9jWuTMPUk unsplashA gubernatorial executive order that prohibited utility companies from charging late fees or disconnecting service for people who have not paid their bills expired at the end of July. Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission will automatically enroll customers with unpaid balances in six-month payment plans, starting with their August bills. Nearly 20 percent of PWC’s customers have past due balances. PWC estimates that it is carrying approximately $10 million of unpaid accounts. Gov. Cooper has emphasized that customers’ bills are not being forgiven under his executive orders.

    “COVID-19 has impacted the Fayetteville area in ways we never imagined, and we appreciate those customers who have remained current or made partial payments over the past few months,” said PWC CEO David Trego.

    Customers can visit Faypwc.com for more information about managing past due balances and how six-month payment plans are being applied. For specific account information, customers can log in to the PWC online account manager at faypwc.com or contact customer service at 910-483-1382.

  • 06 N2004P32005CIt’s unfortunate but true: During this period of economic uncertainty, one of the busiest “industries” has been financial scamming. It goes on even during normal times, so you’ll want to know what to look for and how to defend yourself.

    For starters, just how widespread is financial fraud? Consider this: In 2019, more than 3.2 million fraud cases were reported to the Federal Trade Commission, with identity theft being the most common type of fraud, accounting for about one-fifth of the overall cases. And fraudulent new accounts — mortgages, student loans, car loans and credit cards — amounted to about $3.4 billion in 2018, according to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research.

    To prevent yourself from being victimized, consider the following suggestions. They are certainly not exhaustive, but they should prove useful.

    • Watch out for unsecure websites. Make sure a website is secure before entering any payment or personal information. Look for sites that start with HTTPS, rather than those with just HTTP, which are not secure and can be hacked. But even a site with HTTPS can still be used by scammers, so, if you don’t recognize the name of the company or group that’s requesting your information, do some research to make sure it’s legitimate.

    • Review your credit reports. As mentioned above, the fraudulent opening of new accounts is a big source of financial scams. To be sure nobody has opened new accounts under your name, try to review your credit reports at least once a year. You can get them for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.

    • Follow up on fraud. If you’ve already been victimized by having new accounts opened in your name, contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax or TransUnion) and place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit file.

  • 04 andre hunter 5otlbgWJlLs unsplashOne morning in late March, I drove from my home in Southern Wake County to my office in North Raleigh to pick up some files so I could work from home. As I exited the Beltline onto Six Forks Road, I noticed a deer lying beneath the overpass, the apparent victim of a high-speed impact.

    It’s a familiar sight on the side of the road, in urban or rural areas, and I thought little about it at the time. I assumed it would be cleaned up by the next time I drove to my office.

    But it wasn’t. I saw it again and again. By mid-April, it occurred to me that with so many folks sheltering at home or otherwise distracted by the COVID-19 crisis, dead animals in public rights-of-way were probably going unreported. So I perused the city’s website, phoned the number I found, and then spent a frustrating half an hour trying to get to the right person after multiple transfers and a couple of dropped calls.

    I finally succeeded. I assumed the deer would be gone within days. It wasn’t. Several weeks later, I called the city again, got cut off again, and after some insistence was given the opportunity to report the dead animal a second time.

    As of Friday, July 24, the badly decomposed deer was still beneath the overpass, at one of the most-traveled intersections in North Carolina’s capital city, its skull twisted at an extreme angle into what looks like a mocking smile.

    At this point, it would be very easy to launch into an extended rant about government inefficiency. It shouldn’t take multiple calls and the navigational skills of Ferdinand Magellan to reach the requisite public employee during a workday. There ought to be some other way to produce a work order. Then it should be acted on.

    But as I’ve watched that carcass rot, throughout the spring and into the middle of summer, it has come to represent more than just garden-variety bureaucratic inertia.

    Why haven’t I just carried it off myself? I don’t own a pickup truck but I know plenty of friends who do. Alas, private initiative isn’t an option here. The overpass in question is too dangerous, with high-speed traffic during the day and limited visibility at night. Even taking a snapshot of the carcass, as I did Friday morning, proved to be a harrowing experience. At least the right lane of this public highway needs to be blocked off by those duly authorized to exercise public authority, so that what’s left of the deer can be safely removed.

    That neither city nor state workers have yet performed this straightforward task is emblematic, it seems to me, of a deeper issue. We are experiencing both a public-health crisis and an economic recession. Hundreds of thousands are out of work. In several of our cities, including Raleigh, heartfelt protests have devolved into destructive riots. North Carolinians feel divided, anxious and, in some cases, desperate.

    Handling just one of these problems would be challenging. Facing them all at once, interrelated and seemingly intractable, surely feels overwhelming. But we cannot let them overwhelm us — overwhelm our leaders, our governments, our private institutions, our communities, our families.

    Becoming distracted, distraught, or distrustful will help no one. We all have critical roles to play and jobs to do. We must be resilient and resolute, giving each other the benefit of the doubt when it comes to motives while also holding each other responsible for results.

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say that our governments and other social institutions are rotten. They haven’t languished long enough on the metaphorical side of the metaphorical road to reach that condition. But can you truly say you aren’t worried about their future soundness and vitality?

    I can’t. And there is a now-putrefied deer in North Carolina’s state capital, at the intersection of Six Forks Road and the Beltline, that reminds me of those worries on a regular basis.

  • 09 N1911P59005CThe Cumberland County Board of Elections is in urgent need of poll workers for the Nov. 3 general election and the early voting period in October. The Board of Elections will follow state guidelines to protect the health and safety of election workers and voters. Social distancing measures and routine cleanings will be put in place and poll workers will be provided appropriate personal protective equipment. Poll workers’ duties include staffing polling places during early voting and on Election Day, setting up and closing voting enclosures, checking in voters, issuing ballots and assisting voters upon request. Interested individuals must be U.S. citizens, registered voters in Cumberland County and available to attend required training. Poll workers are compensated for attending training and for working during early voting and on Election Day. Interested registered voters can complete the online application by going to electionready.net.

  • 17 15403707 192759641189073 90141381049863955 oFor more than 20 years UNC TV's "North Carolina Bookwatch" has broadcast great conversations with North Carolina-connected authors.

    An important part of the program's makeup has always been the warm and open spirit that authors bring into the television studio. Through the magic of broadcast television, their informative and entertaining conversations have made their ways into the living rooms and dens of many North Carolinians. It is one of the longest running locally produced UNC-TV programs.

    At the beginning of this year, plans were under way to produce some programs at bookstores and college campuses, similar to the successful production of three programs at Isothermal Community College late last year. "Bookwatch" was also lining up authors and UNC-TV studio times for production of a new series.

    Then came the virus. Bookstores closed. So did college campuses. UNC-TV's studios and offices shut down completely, leaving its enormous facility an empty cavern.

    It looked like a lost season for "Bookwatch." Then the program’s producer, Katy Loebrich, suggested a trial of the distance-connecting program Zoom to see if it could be suitable for regular broadcast. David Zucchino, author of “Wilmington’s Lie,” agreed to be a guinea pig. From her home, Katy connected to me in my house and to David in his den.

    The result was not perfect, a little patchy, but encouraging. Then, thanks to Katy's editing, the program was more than a successful experiment. It passed muster and was aired last month. That success let us to try Zoom with Sue Monk Kidd, author of “The Book of Longings.” That program will be broadcast next month.

    We found that we were able to produce the program without being in face-to-face direct contact with our guests. Subsequently, we have produced programs with author Lee Smith, who was spending the summer in Maine.

    One of our prospective authors, Devi Lascar, author of “The Atlas of Reds and Blues,” grew up in Chapel Hill but now lives in California. With the new distance capability, we were able to interview her from her home thousands of miles away, an interview that might not have happened otherwise.

    From her home in Cornelius, former Charlotte Observer reporter Pam Kelly talked about her book “Money Rock: A Family’s Story of Cocaine, Race, and Ambition in the New South.”

    Other authors who might have been too busy to make their way to the UNC-TV studios have given us interviews because they did not have to leave their homes or travel to the studio.

    For instance, William Darity Jr. and his wife Kirsten Mullen, authors of “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century,” sat down in their living room and talked to us about their recent work on reparations.

    We are planning interviews with Kathy Reichs, who will be talking to us from Charlotte about “A Conspiracy of Bones.” Daniel Pierce, author of “Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World,” will be able to save a seven-hour round trip from his home in Asheville by doing his interview with Zoom or Skype.

    Some authors, such as Allan Gurganus, Jodi Magness and Jill McCorkle, came to specially adapted, newly reopened studios after being assured that they would be in a separate room from the host, reducing the risk that might have been involved in communication across the same table.

    As bad as the coronavirus is, by adapting to it, "North Carolina Bookwatch" has made improvements that will be a permanent benefit for viewers and the authors who are the stars of the program.

  • 08 Enrique Roman MartinezFort Bragg paratrooper Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez, 21, disappeared May 22 while camping with friends at Cape Lookout National Seashore along the North Carolina Coast. His friends reported him missing the next day. During Memorial Day weekend, a body washed ashore on Shackleford Banks Island. An investigation revealed it was the remains of Roman-Martinez.

    “I’ve personally spoken with his family to assure them that we will not stop in our pursuit to bring those responsible to justice, said Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, 82nd Airborne Division commanding officer. “We are doing everything we can to support his family and find justice for Enrique.”

    The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division is probing the soldier’s death as a homicide and is offering a $25,000 reward to individuals with information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Roman-Martinez, of Chino, California, was a human resource specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division’s Headquarters Company, 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

    Pictured: Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez

  • 20 american football ball brown 2570139After a nightmarish opening weekend to the 2019 season that bad weather stretched from Friday until Monday, let’s hope for a much fairer forecast and games played on schedule this Friday night.
    There were no huge surprises for the Cumberland County Schools during that long opening weekend of games.
    I expected Terry Sanford and Seventy-First both to do well and they didn’t disappoint.
    South View, a team many think could win the Patriot Athletic Conference, got its toe stubbed early with a home overtime loss to Jack Britt.
    Pine Forest, last year’s Patriot champion, didn’t overwhelm anybody but they got the win at Purnell Swett.
    For the week the county schools went 5-4, not the best of starts but not the worst.
    There are some interesting matchups this week that could help us begin to sort out contenders from pretenders.
    The record: 6-2
    I’ll take an opening week record of 6-2 any year. There’s a lot of guesswork the first week of the season, so starting at 75 percent correct is a good base to build from.
    Seventy-First at Cape Fear - This is a big early showdown between two of the county’s best programs from recent years. Cape Fear is still looking to play its first game after last week’s contest with Clinton was rained out and won’t be made up.
    Seventy-First got off to a slow start against Westover but cruised home for a one-sided win over the Wolverines.
    Even though Seventy-First is on the road tonight, I like their chances having already played a game and gotten a chance to work out some of the early-season bugs.
    Seventy-First 21, Cape Fear 14.
    E.E. Smith at Hoke County - The Golden Bulls got off to a rough start with their lopsided loss on the road against Lee County last week. I think they’ll be more competitive Friday against Hoke County, but I still think Smith will come up on the short end of the score.
    Hoke County 18, E.E. Smith 16.
    Gray’s Creek at Fairmont - The Bears squeaked out a road win against South Johnston while Fairmont had no trouble getting past a struggling Marshville Forest Hills team.
    Jerry Garcia had a solid night running the ball for Gray’s Creek last week and I look for the Bears to try the same thing again Friday at Fairmont with similar results. 
    Gray’s Creek 20, Fairmont 17.
    Terry Sanford at Jack Britt - One of the surprises of the first week, at least for me, was Jack Britt’s win over South View. Britt head coach Brian Randolph has been preaching the mantra of restore order at Britt, seeking to return the Buccaneer program to the football glory years it enjoyed consistently when Richard Bailey was the school’s head coach.
    I think Randolph has the Buccaneers pointed in the right direction, but as good as Terry Sanford looked last Monday against Lumberton, I think Britt will be taking a slight detour Friday.
    Terry Sanford 24, Jack Britt 12.
    Lumberton at Pine Forest - For the second week in a row, Pine Forest takes on a team from Robeson County as Lumberton pays a visit to Harold K. Warren Stadium. Last week’s win over Purnell Swett wasn’t pretty, but the Trojans are 1-0 and that’s all that matters for Coach Bill Sochovka and company.
    I expect it will be 2-0 after Friday’s game.
    Pine Forest 29, Lumberton 14.
    Triton at South View - South View is likely still stinging from its overtime defeat to county rival Jack Britt. This was a game the Tigers could have won, but mistakes proved costly.
    Triton put up a ton of points in a season-opening loss to Overhills, so it looks like the Hawks can score. But I think South View can score more and keep possession of the ball with Matthew Pemberton carrying it, and that will be crucial Friday night.
    South View 29, Triton 24.
     Open dates: Douglas Byrd, Westover, Fayetteville Christian.
    Other games: Trinity Christian 30, Wake Christian 12.
  • 14 ALMSHOUSEAfter a successful summer of providing meals to children in need, the ALMS House in Hope Mills is gearing up for an even more ambitious project of a similar nature as school resumes in Cumberland County.

    Over the summer months, the ALMS House provided an average of 20 bag lunches a week to children and some adults who needed them, getting much-needed support from the community in the form of donations of food and money.

    A few weeks ago they got a call to help out with another program that received state funding to provide food to children if another organization would give them a location where the children could go to relax and enjoy the meals. That program ended in early August, and ALMS House was asked to pick up the ball for the remaining weeks until school resumed late this month.

    Since that responsibility was added, the ALMS House has been averaging 90 meals per day in addition to the 20 per week they had been doing. “It’s unbelievable how the community has stepped up and provided both funding and provisions for us,’’ said Delores Schiebe of the ALMS House. “It has just fallen into place.’’

    Once school resumes, the pace at ALMS House will pick up even more as they begin providing take-home bag lunches for under-privileged children that school social workers have identified as likely to not have access to food over the weekend.

    Schiebe said ALMS House will start packing some 250 bag lunches the first week of school, but as time passes the numbers will grow upwards of 450 to 500 bags per week.

    “We try to make the bags as nutritious as possible,’’ Schiebe said. They include things like milk and natural fruit juice, not simply flavored water. Other items include ramen noodles, pop-top cans of spaghetti or other main course type dishes, beef jerky, cheese and crackers, fruit snacks and
    a spoon.

    These bags are designed to be taken home each Friday by students that have been identified by school social workers as children at risk of going without food over the weekend.

    Schiebe said the number of bags increases because often a child will return from the weekend and say they shared the food with a sibling and ask if they could get an extra bag for them.

    Since there are so many more children involved than the summer program, this is much more expensive for the ALMS House to handle and requires even more support from the community.

    “We encourage cash because we go shopping,’’ Schiebe said of the process used to fill the bags each week.

    Donations of actual food are also accepted, Schiebe said, including pop-top cans of meat or pasta or the microwaveable dishes that come in single-serve plastic containers. Bottled water is also welcome.

    Volunteers came in this week at ALMS House to begin packing the first bags that will go out to the children this year.

    Looking ahead, Schiebe said plans are in the works for the annual Peace, Love, Walk event, scheduled in October 19 at 4 p.m., that is a major benefit for the ALMS House. Members Credit Union is the primary sponsor of the walk. “We are looking for sponsors, walkers and vendors,’’ Schiebe said.

    For further information on the walk and how to support it, Schiebe
     said people can contact the ALMS House or the local Members Credit Union office. 

    The ALMS House can be reached at 910-425-0902. Members Credit Union is 910-425-6806.

  • 15 Hope Mills Community RoundtableElected leaders are welcome but politics will not be the focus of a Hope Mills Community Roundtable sponsored by the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce and Up & Coming Weekly. 

    The event is scheduled at Harmony at Hope Mills, 7051 Rockfish Road, on Thursday. A meet and greet time is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m., followed by the roundtable at 7 p.m.

    “We are glad to be hosting it with Up & Coming (Weekly) and Harmony of Hope Mills,’’ said Jan Spell, president of the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce.

    Spell called Harmony a wonderful facility that has been good to the chamber. “Now they’re wanting to be good to the residents of our community as well,’’ she said. “We hope that they’ll come out and express their voices so they can be heard, do a little learning and let us learn from them as well.’’

    The roundtable will begin with brief presentations by local government leaders and town staff. While all citizens and elected officials are welcome to attend, Spell stressed this is not a political rally and should not be confused with a campaign event on the part of anyone running for office.

    “There may be candidates there that the residents want to speak with,’’ she said. “Everyone is welcome to attend. This is an open forum for everyone, not just citywide but countywide too.

    “Mostly we’re looking for our citizens to come and join us.’’

    In addition to Spell, scheduled speakers include Cumberland County Commissioner Michael Boose and Hope Mills town finance director Drew Holland.

    Up & Coming Weekly publisher Bill Bowman said his publication is sponsoring the event to give the people of Hope Mills a chance to learn what the Chamber of Commerce is doing in the community and to bring people up to date on the wonderful things that are going on in Hope Mills.

    “The best way to do that is to get everybody together on an informal basis, to have an informal conversation about what they would like to see, what they like about Hope Mills and to meet the movers and shakers of the county and Hope Mills so they can identify people and start developing relationships with the town,’’ he said. 

    Like Spell, Bowman stressed the event is not political in nature. “This is for the people,’’ he said. “No political agenda associated with it.’’

    Bowman said the response to this first meeting will be gauged, and if it’s successful, future meetings could be held as frequently as quarterly each year. 

    “We want to get people used to them,’’ he said. “It should be a lot of fun.’’

  • 05 John HoodBecause Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly have remained deadlocked for weeks over passage of a new state budget. 

    The legislature has passed several bills that make consequential changes to the conduct and reach of government in North Carolina. Gov. Cooper has signed them into law. As their aim is to modify or eliminate outdated laws, think of them as the governmental equivalent of spring cleaning — although it took until summer to begin this latest excavation of the state’s regulatory closet.

    One of the measures, House Bill 590, amends a policy the state initiated back in 2013. That policy requires all regulations on the books to be reviewed periodically by the relevant agencies or departments. If the rule isn’t reviewed as required by law, or deemed no longer to meet a demonstrable need at a reasonable cost, it disappears — an outcome known as regulatory sunset.

    From 2013 to 2018, hundreds of outmoded or counterproductive regulations went away under this law. But there was a bit of a loophole. The original process created three buckets into which administrators could toss regulations: 1) unnecessary (the rule goes “poof’), 2) necessary without substantive public interest (no one has complained lately, so it is automatically renewed) and 3) necessary with substantial public interest (because there are complaints, it must go back through a re-adoption process).

    Regulators were tossing most state rules into that second bucket, so that they weren’t getting significant scrutiny. House Bill 590 removes that bucket from the deck. The legislation received overwhelmingly bipartisan support and Cooper’s signature. Now all regulations must either survive re-adoption or go away.

    Another “weeding out” process, this time within our criminal code, is about to accelerate thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 584. It also got overwhelmingly bipartisan support and a nod from the governor. It targets North Carolina’s “overcriminalization” problem.

    Over the decades, state agencies and local governments have adopted a range of criminal penalties for offenses that, whatever their adverse social effects may be, don’t necessarily merit criminal prosecution. For example, it is a crime in some North Carolina communities to feed stray animals. It is a crime to sell Silly String in Mt. Airy.

    A prior law had required agencies and localities to report all the ordinances or rules on their books that criminalized behavior — a necessary first step to tackling the problem. But compliance was spotty. Under Senate Bill 584, noncompliant municipalities will have their ability to pass criminal ordinances frozen for two years. For state agencies proposing rules with criminal penalties, the new law automatically refers them to the General Assembly for review.

    Finally, Cooper signed Senate Bill 290 into law last month. Another bipartisan measure, it contains several changes to North Carolina’s alcohol laws. It allows craft distilleries to sell mixed drinks and removes limits on the number of bottles a visitor can buy on their premises. The law also advances important reforms of the state’s archaic Alcoholic Beverage Control system, such as allowing liquor tastings at ABC stores and combatting the proliferation of patronage-heavy ABC boards.

    State agencies and localities are certainly empowered to use their regulatory powers to protect public health and safety. They should ensure a true “meeting of the minds” in private contracts by requiring disclosures and policing fraud. They should protect the persons and property of residents against pollution, communicable disease, and other threats for which effective collective action requires government action.

    But these powers should be used with caution, focused on clearly identifiable harms, imposed only when the expected benefits exceed the likely costs, and scaled so that any penalties involved are proportional to the offense. Over the decades, North Carolina has somewhat-haphazardly acquired an odd assortment of intrusive regulations and criminal penalties that don’t meet such common-sense tests.

    Now, Republican and Democratic policymakers are working together to clean up the mess. That’s most welcome.

  • 02 MEg LarsonThis week, publisher Bill Bowman yields his space to Elizabeth Blevins.

    Hope Mills had a banner summer. Our dam won a second prestigious award, our military recruiters were recognized as the best in the nation, four Dixie Youth ball teams won state championships and competed in the World Series, our food truck rodeo and farmers markets continue to grow, our staff played an integral role in the Cut My City campaign, Grandson’s was recognized in Our State Magazine, three sculptures were donated to the town, we formed a Hope Mills Art Council, the Hope Mills lake is once again open for recreation and our fire department achieved an ISO rating of 2, which is practically unheard of in a municipality this small.

    What’s not to like about our Hope Mills community?

    Well, Commissioner Meg Larson couldn’t find anything positive to say when she appeared on a WFNC local talk radio program Aug. 19. She didn’t mention any of these things. Instead, she continued her attacks on Mayor Jackie Warner while promoting her latest conspiracy theory that Warner is guilty of colluding with Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper publisher Bill Bowman to — ironically — make the town look bad.

    Why would he do that? 

    Larson is no stranger to conspiracy theories. In 2014, long before her stint in politics, her penchant for muckraking led her to believe former-Commissioner Bryan Marley was guilty of a conflict of interest with the town. Larson gathered information, “relevant” ordinances and general statutes and handed them off to the district attorney for investigation. Unfortunately for Larson, he didn’t agree, and Marley was exonerated based on unsubstantiated information. 

    Not long after, she repeated the same process when she accused former-Commissioner Edwin Deaver of having a conflict of interest with the town. Like Marley, Deaver was exonerated. 

    In 2018, the newly elected Commissioner Larson began to immediately and privately investigate long-time mayor, Jackie Warner. Larson was convinced the mayor colluded with her son, Teddy Warner, and members of Lone Survivor Foundation by scheming to sell a municipality-owned piece property to the veterans’ organization. As each allegation was investigated, no evidence was found to support such a conspiracy. Eventually the allegations were dropped. By January it was evident Larson wasn’t going to stop the harassment. She convinced the board to hire an outside investigator to determine if there was any wrongdoing by the mayor’s office. 

    Larson presented the independent investigator with a three-inch binder complete with accusations, printed ordinances and general statutes she wanted him to use in framing the investigation. The investigation concluded four months later at a whopping cost to Hope Mills taxpayers of nearly $30,000 and with the full exoneration of Mayor Warner. The independent investigator delivered the results to the Board of Commissioners in late May and concluded the unfortunate circumstances were caused as a result of “rookie mistakes.” 

    That was obviously the kindest thing he could say about the situation since the rookies were commissioners Larson, Mike Mitchell and Jessie Bellflowers.

    After all this, one might think Larson would be deterred from antics like this and focus to creating policy for the good of Hope Mills and its residents. Not so. By July, she was again making accusations and posting ordinances and statutes, this time declaring one of the candidates for the Board of Commissioners couldn’t hold an official campaign kickoff on municipal property. Again, she was wrong. Town Attorney Dan Hartzog was tasked with making the decision. More wasted time and money. 

    For most of Hope Mills, it wasn’t a surprise when Larson took to the airwaves last week and started hurling accusations and character assassinations. 

    Larson began her radio tirade by explaining she ran for office two years ago because she didn’t like the decisions the previous board was making and felt they were wasting taxpayers’ money. It’s ironic since this board just wasted $30,000 on a needless investigation and spent $25,000 on a survey for a “temporary” driveway and parking lot for the golf course. 

    To date, the board has appropriated a quarter of a million dollars for the Historic Preservation Committee, which has yet to produce anything for the town. Yet Larson vehemently attacks and accuses publisher Bill Bowman of writing articles “retaliating” against the board when they chose to not renew the Up & Coming Weeklynewspaper Hope Mills Initiative in 2018. She continues to falsely contend that Bowman expected the town to pay $28,000 a year for “good news” articles that he wanted the board and the staff to write. 

    Ridiculous. Bowman has explained the purpose and intent of the Hope Mills Initiative to Larson and the rest of the board — a point made to Larson in person on two different occasions and in print on two other different occasions. 

    Larson also accused Mayor Warner of soliciting me to start a blog for the purpose of discrediting her and the board. Again, ridiculous. I posted a lengthy article on Dec. 5 explaining why I started my blog. In it, I said very clearly that Commissioner Mitchell was using social media to attack Mayor Warner, her son and various staff members. I hadn’t spoken to Jackie Warner in years, but she called me and asked that I watch a video of the meeting. I did watch the video, and I was disgusted by the behavior of Mitchell and Larson. I decided that day to start the blog. 

    Larson claims the mayor objected when the board wanted to make changes to plans the previous board had already agreed upon. Warner actively encouraged this board to move forward, specifically with Phase II of the lake plan. The previous board worked with the Lake Advisory Committee to choose a design for Phase II. The plans were drafted and paid for. This board simply had to accept a bid and begin the project. Had they done so, the bulkhead and the boardwalk would have been completed prior to summer 2018. But Mitchell delayed the process multiple times, insisting they wait for the newly commissioned Comprehensive Plan. That plan wasn’t delivered to the board until July 2019, costing delays and more money. 

    Larson spent more than 20 minutes on air during Cumulus WFNC’s “Morning Show” feeding red meat to disc jockey “Goldy” Goldberg, who cannot hide his disdain for Bill Bowman and Up & Coming Weekly. Larson and her accomplice, Goldberg, continue to bash and spread lies about the Hope Mills mayor and other supporting commissioners, Bill Bowman, Up & Coming Weekly, Earl Vaughan and me and other private citizens they accuse of launching a smear campaign against her with the mayor’s help. 

    In mid-July Larson announced she wouldn’t seek re-election to the board and will instead support Warner’s opponent, Mike Mitchell. She could have used the radio time to expound on Mitchell’s merits and accomplishments or announce his campaign platform. Instead, she used it as another opportunity to bash and discredit Warner, who has consistently beat Mitchell in all his bids for the mayor’s seat. 

    Perhaps it’s best that Larson, who has mentioned on several occasions that she’s not a politician, chose not to run again. It seems her dislike for the previous board didn’t make her any more motivated or qualified for the job. 

    Truth to power! We love this town. We are media and take full responsibility for what we say and write. That’s what community newspapers do. It’s also why Goldy doesn’t have Bill Bowman on his show anymore. As Bill would say, “Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.”

    Pictured: Meg Larson 


  • 09 TimonWebSince 2012 Sweet Tea Shakespeare Theater has been entertaining Fayetteville. But its newest production, “Timon of Athens,” debuted Aug. 21 in Hope Mills. Bringing “Timon of Athens” to Hope Mills was the result of a partnership between Sweet Tea Shakespeare Theater and the newly formed Hope Mills Creative Art Council. 

    “Timon of Athens” is the story of the too-generous Athenian nobleman Timon. Timon shares his wealth liberally with his “friends,” hosting lavish parties and lending financial support to their many endeavors. Apemantus warns Timonthat his friends are taking advantage of his generosity, but Timon refuses to heed the warnings, saying, “O, that men’s ears should be / To counsel deaf, but not to flattery!” 

    He’s further warned by Flavius, his servant, that his wealth is dwindling. But again, Timon ignores the warnings, preferring to give money rather than his time, binding his friends to him with his generosity.

    Eventually, Timon finds himself destitute and without friends to lend him their support. He leaves Athens to live in a cave. While scavenging for roots, he discovers a cache of gold, which he squanders on ill-conceived plots to ruin Athens — and the friends who betrayed him.

    The play was performed by Sweet Tea’s youth company, “Green Tea.” Green Tea is a yearlong program designed to introduce 12- to 17-year-old students to the technical elements of acting and the intricacies of Shakespearean language. It culminates in a full performance. 

    Sweet Tea Shakespeare Theater is known for its minimalist approach to Shakespeare productions. The group limits the use of sets, props and costumes, preferring instead to focus on the storytelling element of the production. The shows also include live music and often original songs. And unless there’s inclement weather, they perform outdoors, providing refreshments to their guests and creating the same atmosphere in which Shakespeare’s plays were originally enjoyed. 

    “Timon of Athens” was performed at the historic Moulder-Warner House, owned by Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner, who is one of the founding members of the Hope Mills Creative Art Council. The house is on a spacious corner lot just off Main Street. It’s traditional white columns, hydrangeas and magnolia trees lend themselves to its idyllic charm. The members of Sweet Tea Shakespeare Theater and the Hope Mills Creative Art Council were pleased with the night’s success and are looking forward to many more joint ventures. They have a production tentatively scheduled for March 2020 and another scheduled for June.

    Up next for Sweet Tea is “HamLIT,” set for Friday, Oct. 4, and Friday, Nov. 1, at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. It will show Thursday, Oct. 10, at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18-19, and Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8-9 at Hugger Mugger Brewing in Sanford. “HamLIT” is also set to take the stage Friday, Oct. 11; Thursday, Oct. 24; Sat., Oct. 26, at Paddy’s; Sunday, Oct. 13, at Fainting Goat Fuqua