• Annual Christmas Tree Lighting
    The annual Christmas Tree Lighting will help kick off the Christmas season on Fort Bragg.

    In addition to the Christmas tree lighting, the Family of the Year will be announced at the new Family of the Year celebration. Fort Bragg will be kicking off the Christmas Tree Lighting and all of the activities that come with it after the Family of The Year celebration.

    Each year, Fort Bragg’s Army Community Service accepts applications for the Family of the Year which honors soldiers and families that have provided exceptional service throughout the year. This year 21 applications were received.

    The tree lighting will have an aerial demonstration by the Golden Knights, a visit from Santa, holiday entertainment by the 82nd Airborne Division Band and Chorus and of course holiday lights and inflatable displays. Cookie decorating and a trackless train are two of many activities that will be available to the children attending the event.
    The Christmas tree for this year’s Christmas Tree Lighting celebration arrived at the Main Post Parade Field last week. The tree came from Mistletoe Meadows Farm, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The tree is a 24-foot Fraser Fir.

    “We are very excited to see everyone for this year’s in-person event,” Theresa Smith, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said. “The holidays are such a special time for everyone and we love being able to kick off the season with
    this event.”

    The Christmas Tree Lighting and Family of the Year celebration will take place on Dec. 3 from 4 to 8 p.m. Santa will make his appearance around 5:30 p.m. Food and drinks will be available for sale as well. The event will take place at the Main Post Parade Field.

    Trees for Troops
    Service members can get a real and free Christmas tree this year at the annual Trees for Troops event.

    The program is for Active Duty families who are E-6 and below, and for Reservists on Active Orders.

    450 trees are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

    In order to get a tree, a voucher will need to be picked up at the Fort Bragg Leisure Travel Services. They will be available through Dec. 3 or until they are all gone.

    Pick-up will be on Dec. 3 from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Smith Lake Recreation Area. To pick up the tree, the recipient needs to bring both the voucher and their DoD ID Card.

    Those who did not get a chance to pick up a voucher can try and pick up a tree. If there are any trees leftover, they will be given out first-come, first-serve to service members who are E-6 and below.

    “Not only are service members receiving a free, real tree for the holidays; it’s a chance to bring cheer to those who may not be able to go home for the holidays,” said Staff Sgt. Jakoby Mallory, President of the Fort Bragg Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers. “The abundance of support from volunteers from around the community also shows service members the family they have here, at
    Fort Bragg.”

    Over the past 16 years, the Christmas Spirit Foundation has delivered a total of 262,265 real Christmas trees throughout the country for service members and their families.

    Trees for Troops is a nationwide program that delivers trees to 75 different military bases and installations.

  • Jingle JogThe Green Beret Jingle Jog is an annual 5K walk/run and 10K road race. This year Jingle Jog is turning a decade old. Last year, 2020, would have been the event's tenth anniversary, but COVID-19 halted the event. In connection with changes made in the wake of the pandemic, participants can register and participate virtually this year.

    The annual run benefits Special Forces Association, Chapter 100, a non-profit organization. The proceeds support Green Berets and their families within the local community, predominantly those associated with the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). Most recently, Special Forces Association Chapter 100 awarded local Special Forces families ten $2,000 scholarships for grade school and college tuitions. Special Forces Association, Chapter 100 supports Green Berets in times of need.

    "If they are gone or away and something is needed, we are the first people they [families can] call," explained Jason Orello, treasurer, Special Forces Association Chapter 100.

    This year Jingle Jog, which began as a downtown Fayetteville event, is joining forces with the Jordan Soccer Complex at 445 Treetop Drive. There will be a selection of vendors on-site that include, but are not limited to, the Vagabond coffee truck and Fizzy Friendz Bath Bombs.

    Two young sisters run Fizzy Friendz Bath Bombs, Cali Rai Campos, aged 13 and Elizabeth Campos, aged 15. The shop carries a selection of bath products. The proceeds from the sales of this business support a community-driven mission. That mission is realized through a charity formed by the five Campos family children, Giving Back Warm Hugs Nonprofit Corporation, helping children in need.

    Orello is hoping for even more vendors to join the event. Last-minute vendors are welcome at no cost. They can reach out to Orello by phone, 910-797-3957 or by email, jayorello7414@gmail.com

    "If it helps somebody and it promotes their business, then come on out," Orello said.

    In Jingle Jog's early days, Julio Ramirez, a retired Green Beret, was a big part of the planning of Jingle Jogs of the past and also planned a host of other local charity runs. Ramirez passed away three years ago from leukemia at the age of 54. In his honor, his wife, Coco Ramirez, has taken up the gauntlet and has been working with Special Forces Association, Chapter 100 to plan the Jingle Jog this year in his stead. Some of the older Jingle Jog t-shirt designs bare his name. The Jingle Jog t-shirt given to registered participants has changed over the years.

    "The shirt is a thank you for coming out and recognition for the sponsors," Orello said.

    In addition to the change of venue, there is also a new shirt design this year. The design features a reindeer with a green beret. The event is on Dec. 4, and the race will start at 9 a.m. Jingle Jog is a family-friendly event and is suitable for the whole household. Jingle Jog is a festive event, and participants, human and canine alike, have been known to dress up in all manner of holiday costumes.

    This year will be no different; costumes, strollers and pets will be welcome at the Jingle Jog.

    There are currently 165 participants registered. Registrants include local high schoolers who are to participate and compete. The high school cadet team with the best overall run will walk away with an 18A Special Forces Trophy. There is a registration discount for high schoolers wishing to compete on the website.

    To register for the Jingle Jog, visit greenberetjinglejog.itsyourrace.com.

  • Charlotte Blume NutcrackerOnly a few weeks until showtime, the main room at Charlotte Blume School of Dance is packed and abuzz with energy. More than forty dancers stand, in fifth position, the floor a mixture of soft and pointe shoes, legs extended, and arms outstretched with delicate fingers pointing toward the ceiling.

    The room is small but warm, a far cry from the thirty-degree weather outside. Upon each call from one of their instructors David Alan Cook, the dancers shifted positions in unison — a dance so precise it looks as if they are pulled by strings. Along the walls of the room are nutcrackers, candy canes, tin solider hats and pictures of Christmas lore — all relics of Clara’s fantastical dream, and fifty-one years of tradition. In the back sits the head of the mouse king, crown and all, awaiting his on-stage debut.

    At Charlotte Blume School of Dance and throughout Fayetteville, it’s time for “The Nutcracker.”

    Just beyond the dancers plays a video of Pepta's “The Nutcracker.” The dancers strive for precision. They match their movements against Pepta's dancers. In the studio, the only sound that can be heard is the soft, shallow pattering of feet on laminate floor. The dancers lightly glide to the tape on the floor that marks particular fractions of the stage. Their bodies remain angled out toward the audience. They check their position, readjust and do it again and again. This will continue dozens of times.

    “We’ll run the same two minutes for an hour to get it right,” Dina Lewis, the school’s executive director, says as she watches her dancers’ arms and feet. Lewis says they’ll tell the girls to pretend they are holding pennies between their knees for their bourrée.

    “We say it because quarters are too big.”

    Technique, according to Lewis, is why students come to this dance group.

    The music stops, and just like that, the current dancers run “off stage” and others run on to take their place.

    “Dancers, you have to pay attention while you are working on the stage,” Cook says, his shoulders held back and feet held in position. Like an orchestra leader, he brings his attention to different areas of the room, tightening the dance and congratulating dancers on their hard work. In the other corner, Emalee Smith, another instructor, is perfecting the dance of some of the older dancers.

    The dream continues.

    In many ways, so does the dream of Charlotte Blume. Blume passed away in 2016. “The Nutcracker Ballet” is a legacy of sorts for the North Carolina State Ballet and for Charlotte Blume School of Dance. Blume started “The Nutcracker” in 1959 and it has run every year since, with the exception of last year. It is a legacy that is now kept alive by Lewis, the executive director for the school and the President of North Carolina State Ballet.

    Lewis talks of Blume fondly and reverently like a maternal figure whose ghost is welcomed to haunt the school. Each part of this play, for Lewis and other dancers who knew Blume well, keeps her alive.

    “Each set has a piece of her in it … we have pieces of her that we make sure is [on] that stage.”

    In 2020, like much of the world, this version of “The Nutcracker” did not go on.

    “We sat home last year watching 'Nutcracker' on TV like everyone else did,” Lewis said.

    But in December 2020, around Lewis’s birthday, she received a card from a little girl who played a mouse in “The Nutcracker” just the year before. The note, which wished Lewis a happy birthday, also said, “all I want for Christmas is for "Nutcracker" to come back.”

    When February came around, Lewis said the company was short of funding for the play due to all the closures during COVID-19. She and the board decided that regardless of the funds, 2021 needed

    “The Nutcracker.” The community needed “The Nutcracker.”

    “There’s a little mouse that we all need to thank … one I just couldn’t say no to.”

    The little girl's note is now posted on Lewis’s mirror at home. The little girl has since moved with her family due to the military. Lewis says a lot of what she learned and embodies now comes from Charlotte Blume. It’s all about giving back, she says. While a mouse helped her bring back the beloved play, Blume has always been at the heart of it.

    “You just feel like you owe it to Charlotte to continue this.”

    Charlotte Blume School of Dance will hit the stages Dec. 11 at the Crown Theatre. There are 69 dancers in this year's production, from ages 5 and up. Each year, Lewis says, the choreography changes slightly to keep students and the audience engaged. This year, she tried to keep unification at the center of the play.

    At the end of the day, Lewis sits back and looks at the pictures of “her kids,” handwritten notes from students and pictures of Charlotte and smiles when she speaks about this year’s production of “The Nutcracker.”

    “When the picture comes together … [it’s] magical. It’s the coolest thing. I get chills thinking about it. I think Charlotte is going to be proud of us. She’s going to be pretty happy.”
    Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for military and $10 kids ages 3-16. Kids under 2 are free.

    DANCE THEATERAcross town, in the top portion of Countryside Gymnastics is Leslie’s Dance Academy. Leslie Dumas, owner and executive director, sits among plastic storage containers of all shapes and sizes that house different costumes and props for her production of “The Nutcracker.” She sits, waiting on dancers to arrive. Her dancers, too, are preparing to go on stage and perform “The Nutcracker.”
    Dumas has been running this version of “The Nutcracker” since 2000 when she took it over from Ann Clark, who owned another studio in town. Both Clark and Dumas trained with Charlotte Blume. Dumas trained with Charlotte Blume from a young age until 18.

    For “The Nutcracker,” she collaborates with other studios in town, through The Dance Theatre of Fayetteville, to bring all their dancers together to perform the play. Last year, much like Charlotte Blume School of Dance, her company didn’t perform “The Nutcracker.”

    This year, Dumas wasn’t told they could have their traditional stage at Methodist University until the end of September. This gave Dumas and the other studios two months to prepare the show.
    She said this year they’ve had to make some changes in how they traditionally run it due to all the changes from COVID-19.

    “We didn’t do an audition. I usually do most of the choreography, but I let other studios pick what they want to choreograph.”

    On Nov. 21, the collective group had their second full group rehearsal, just a week and a half before the performance. For Dumas and others, this is about the collective and anyone who wants to be a part of the play can “come in.”

    “It’s supposed to be fun.” Dumas relates the overall experience to the fun and chaos of the party scene at the beginning of the play.

    As she talks, young dancers arrive and come to greet her. She smiles, asks about something personal to each and then they run off to get into dance clothes.

    Dumas is set on getting the show to stage and bringing the dancers together.

    “It’s going to be what it is after a COVID year of nothing,” Dumas says. “Everyone has to understand that perspective. The world stopped in March of last year. There was no dance, no gym, no nothing.”

    The Dance Theatre of Fayetteville will perform the Nutcracker December 3-5 at Methodist’s University’s Huff Concert Hall. Tickets will be $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Kids ages 5-17 will be $5 and kids ages 4 and under will be free.

  • Charles EvansCumberland County Commission Chairman Charles Evans has set his sights on higher public office. He says he will run for the U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina’s revised 4th District. The 4th Congressional District is newly drawn with no incumbent. The district includes all of Cumberland, Sampson, Johnston Counties, most of Harnett County and a small fragment of Wayne County.

    “This district is home to Fort Bragg and the county that's home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base,” Evans noted. “As a veteran, I understand what military families and personnel need and will be their number one ally in Congress."

    Evans has served on the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners for the past 11 years and previously served on the Fayetteville City Council from 2005-2009. He is affiliated with the Democratic party.

    Sen. Ben Clark and Rep. John Szoka have also announced that they will be running for the seat. Szoka will be running against former Fayetteville mayor Nat Robertson and former police officer Christine Villaverde for the Republican primary. Clark and Evans will run against each for the Democratic primary.

  • Fayetteville PoliceThe Community Police Advisory Board is closer to being finalized and should start in the new year. The board's mission is to provide recommendations to the City Council, City Manager and Police Chief to improve the quality of policing in Fayetteville in a cooperative effort between the community and the police. 

    They will be reviewing and recommending policy enhancements to better meet the needs of the community, provide and support a training curriculum that allows for police and community experiences to be shared and understood with greater context and analyze existing public records. 
    Ideally, this will result in improved perception of procedural justice, and enhance trust in the police. 
    To have applied for a spot on the board, applicants must be 18 years old or older, live within the City of Fayetteville for at least the last six months, and they will be required to complete the Citizen Police Academy, complete one ride-along and participate in other group learning opportunities.
    Ten people will be appointed to the board by City Council. Nine will be regular board members and one person will be an alternate member. 23 people have applied. Out of all the applications, a majority had either worked for a police department or worked/volunteered with a police/corrections department at some time. Ten of the applicants stated that they currently reside in Districts 2 and 8. 
    The only district that is not represented among the applicants is District 6.
    The applications were also diverse. Out of all 23 applicants it included six females, eight caucasian applicants, two Hispanic applicants and 13 African-American applicants. They varied in professions but many were either retired military, retired police or working military. 
    A handful have previously served on a Fayetteville City Board or commission. 
    In the questionnaire for each applicant, two questions ask what is one thing civilians and police officers can do to promote healthy relationships. 
    Almost every person replied that officers need to develop relationships within the communities they serve — specifically in areas they are assigned to. Many of the applicants stated that citizens should become more familiar with what police do day-to-day and participate in police-community events.
    The Appointment Committee will review all 23 applications and forward their top picks for finalists. 
    City Council will then interview each finalist one-on-one. The nine interview questions, which have already been written out, include the candidate’s involvement with the city, how they perceive the role of the police department and why they want to join the board.
    According to the charter, City Council members should be looking for candidates who work well with people of opposing viewpoints, can provide constructive criticism, are able to communicate effectively, can recognize conflicts of interest and have a commitment to civilian oversight. 
    After the interview process is over, the top ten candidates will be voted on during a City Council regular meeting.
  • 11Military Giving Tuesday is set for its third year of observance on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 30. Its inception began in May of 2019 when three of the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year awardees came together with a shared vision.

    Jessica Manfre, 2019 Coast Guard Spouse of the Year, Maria Reed, 2019 Army Spouse of the Year, and Samantha Gomolka, 2019 National Guard Spouse of the Year “wanted to create something special that would unite all the branches of service in a collective effort to serve with purpose and in kindness.” The #GivingTuesdayMilitary movement was born.
    In its inaugural year, 2019, the campaign utilized hashtags to record over 2.5 million acts of kindness. When Stacy Bilodeau, 2018 Coast Guard Spouse of the Year joined the team in 2020 the movement produced Inspire Up, a 501c3 whose mission is to “Inspire Up a kinder and more giving world by uniting the military and civilian communities through empowerment, education, community building and a commitment to serve,” according to inspireupfoundation.org.

    “It’s not about money, it’s about kindness,” explained Director of Community Engagement and Director of GMT, Brittany Raines, who is a Fort Drum military spouse.
    Local Fort Bragg spouse Tawni Dixon, a member of Fort Bragg’s 2020 Family of the Year, connected to the movement via Raines and with her counterpart Shauna Johnson, together as GMT Ambassadors they are bringing the movement to Fort Bragg.

    They have created a Facebook group (GivingMilitaryTuesday – Fort Bragg) and they are spreading the word via personal networks.

    “We have a really amazing volunteer pool here at Fort Bragg. I think Fort Bragg just has a lot of rock-star-volunteers here and so once you talk about it word just travels really fast,” Dixon said. “We know that Fort Bragg is such a family it has been easy to get the word out.” It’s all about improving the community and bringing smiles to people’s faces.

    “Our motto is dropping kindness all over the center of the military universe. It doesn’t matter how, it can be so simple,” said Dixon

    One example Dixon shared is when, at her place of work, someone placed googly eyes on a debit card payment system and in a few other select places and it made people smile.

    “It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture we just want people to spread kindness.”

    The group has several events planned to further their cause. They will be supporting the Armed Services YMCA’s Operation Holiday Hooah to give out gifts to military families in need, and they will be participating in a packing party and helping to distribute food at the ASYMCA Food Pantry on Nov. 30 in observance of GMT.

    If you are interested in participating and want to get involved, the group can be contacted at givingmilitarytuesdayfortbragg@gmail.com.

    It is open to anyone who wants to volunteer, although events on post may require a DOD ID or entry through All-American Access Control Point.

    “Giving Tuesday is not about being grand… it's really just about being kind in the world,” said Dixon.

  • 09Light Up the City: A Holiday Decoration Celebration is coming to the Cool Springs Downtown District. The event is free for all who wish to attend or participate and encourages shop owners to decorate their windows for the holidays.

    The idea is to bring residents downtown to view the lights and decorations. The decorations turn downtown Fayetteville into a decoratively lit winter wonderland. It is ideal for taking photos and making memories.

    Last year, 35 businesses, restaurants and downtown museums took part in the event.

    It is a great way to fill downtown Fayetteville with holiday spirit. Some locations are decked out with Christmas trees, others strung up lights and lots of places put up garland.

    People can take a self-guided tour downtown. A map will be available on the Light Up the City: A Holiday Decoration Celebration Facebook event page (facebook.com/events/262093505957203) highlighting the establishments that are taking part in the event.

    Maps of businesses taking part in the Light Up the City will also be available at 222 Hay St. beginning Dec. 1. The event will take place from Dec. 1 – 31.

    Letters to Santa will also return with this event and there will be a giant five-foot red mailbox in which children can send their Christmas lists and Santa letters to the North Pole. The “Direct to the North Pole" mailbox will be located outside of the Cool Spring Downtown District's office at 222 Hay Street.

    Just next door downtown visitors will also find the Holiday Alley, a photographic urban holiday oasis designed to spark joy and filled with holiday lights and decorations.
    Families can visit and take photos in the alley.

    “Last year, we saw hundreds of families come, enjoy the holiday decorations and take photos of their children at the photo stations,” said Lauren Falls, director of marketing and events for the Cool Spring Downtown District.

    This is the third year Light Up the City: A Holiday Decoration Celebration will be held and it is the second year patrons can mail a letter to Santa and visit the
    Holiday Alley.

    Businesses are invited to sign up for the event by visiting this link, forms.gle/2YDiUgAZYu7PTfRq5. They must have decorations up by Dec. 1. They may decorate their storefront or inside their business to qualify and share the event link on their social media pages.

    Pedestrians checking out the many lights can vote for the Viewer’s Choice Award, the best display in participating businesses.

    The window voted best dressed wins $250.

    “Last year, we had around 500 people vote for the Light Up the City Viewer's Choice Award poll and the winner for last year was the United Way of Cumberland County,” said Falls.

    In addition to the businesses that have decorated, there will be a 14-foot tree decked out in holiday finery. The community tree will be located at 301 Hay St., in front of the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County building and will likely be a prime spot for visitors to take photos.

  • Editor's Note: Small Business Saturday is a national initiative started in 2010 by American Express. It is observed on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and is designed to highlight small businesses. This shopping guide is not exhaustive, so, be sure to venture out and check in with all of your local favorites to see if they are offering specials. All offers listed are subject to change without notice and are subject to supply availability. For any additional details please reach out to the individual businesses.
    A Bit of Carolina
    A Bit of Carolina will be offering 20% off all Simply Southern items, a free gift with every $50 purchase and free gift wrapping. They will also be featuring two local jewelry vendors and be giving out refreshments, Saturday only. A Bit of Carolina is a specialty gift shop carrying everything North Carolina-themed. They are located in Downtown Fayetteville at 306 Hay St. They are open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Apple Crate Natural Market
    Apple Crate Natural Market will be offering $20 off of every $100 spent at their store, Saturday only. They focus on nutrition supplements, vitamins and specialty and organic foods. They have two locations, 2711 Raeford Road which is open on Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The other location, located off 5430 Camden Road Suite #103 is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Bragg Unique Boutique
    The Bragg Unique Boutique Gift Shop will be offering 25% off all wholesale for the entire month of November, as well as a chance to win a $10 gift card for every $30 you spend. The BUB is part of the Association of Bragg Spouses and is supported by ABS Volunteers. They sell gifts, handmade items and specialty items. All profits go directly to the ABS Scholarship and Welfare Funds. They are open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Their website, bragg-unique-boutique.square.site is also available 24/7. They are located on Fort Bragg at Bldg 2-2211 Woodruff St.
    The Pickin Coop Antique Mall
    This shopping center will be offering 10% – 25% off on certain dealers on Friday and Saturday. Their vendors sell antiques, primitives, farmhouse items, painted furniture and unique gifts. They are open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. They are located at 708 Ramsey St.
    City Center Gallery & Books
    This vintage and used book shop will be offering a 25% discount on their vintage and rare collectibles. Everything from Truman Capote’s "A Christmas Memory" in a slip-cover ($20) to a first-edition of Willa Cather’s "My Antonia" ($375). They offer a wide selection of quality used books, vintage black and white pictures and local art. They are located in Downtown Fayetteville at 112 Hay St. and are open daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 1 – 6 p.m. on Sunday.
    The Downtown Market of Fayetteville
    Shoppers who spend $50 or more will be gifted a box of truffles from the Carolina Chocolate Lady while supplies last. A small local-centric grocery and gift shop, The Downtown Market of Fayetteville works directly with farmers, producers, artisans, bakers, anglers, ranchers and others to offer locally sourced healthy products to the Fayetteville community. In addition, The Downtown Market of Fayetteville is home to an award-winning florist. They offer weekly delivery on all items stocked on their website to Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Raeford and Hope Mills. 
    Dragon's Lair Comics
    This local comic book store will be offering  50% – 90% off select comic books, Saturday only. Dragon’s Lair Comics has been a part of the Fayetteville community for over 40 years. This store is open Monday through Sunday, typically from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is located at 6243 
    Yadkin Road.
    The Fayetteville Doulas
    The Fayetteville Doulas boutique will be offering 10% off all online orders on Saturday. The Fayetteville Doulas is a doula agency focused on families in the surrounding Fayetteville area. They offer classes and services to expectant and new moms. They are located at 2018 Fort Bragg Road and their boutique website is tfdboutique.com.
    Heritage Jewelers
    Heritage Jewelers will be offering sales on all items, including gold, pearls and diamonds on Friday and Saturday. Military and custom repairs will be excluded from the sale. Heritage Jewelers is a veteran-owned business. They are known for military custom jewelry, like the Special Forces Ring. They are open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and are open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturdays. They are located at 114 Westwood Shopping Center.
    Leclair's General Store
    Leclair's General Store will be offering store visitors 15% off of three or more bottles of wine/packs of beer, 10% off Leclair's apparel, and for every $25 spent customers will be given a raffle ticket that enters them into a raffle for a gift basket of curated goods from Leclair's General Store. Leclair's is located in the heart of Haymount at 1212 Fort Bragg Road. They offer a unique selection of coffee, wine, craft beers, specialty groceries, vintage decor, antiques, art, jewelry and local goods. They are open Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Pressed - A Creative Space
    For the whole weekend, Pressed will have sales in their shop and online. T-shirts will be buy one, get one half off; crystal bracelets will be buy two, get one free; all crystals will be 30% off. On Monday, their website will be 30% off as well. Pressed sells clothing, crystals and other items of interest for those who see things differently. They are a veteran-owned business in Downtown Fayetteville. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and are located at 120 Hay St.
    Renaissance Day Spa
    Renaissance Day Spa will be offering a 10% discount off all retail in their recently opened holiday boutique, Saturday only. Their little store is filled with gifts and stocking stuffers to give to loved ones. They are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. They are located at 1534 Purdue Drive.
    The Rock Guns & Accessories
    The Rock will be having several sales including 30% off all Kydex gun holders, 10% off all Cerakote, 50% off knife sharpening and they will have 50% off select merchandise such as t-shirts. The Rock Guns is a Special Forces veteran-owned business. Their aim is to provide the best products and services to customers in order to meet their firearms needs and build a community around the advancement of firearms knowledge. They are located at 6113 Yadkin Road and are open this Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Rude Awakening Coffee
    Rude Awakening Coffee will be giving out a free keychain with every gift card purchase as well as donating all coffee bean sales to Connections of Cumberland County, an organization that focuses on giving resources to women and women with children who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. Rude Awakening will also be featuring their Mexican Spice Mocha for the weekend. They are located at 227 Hay St. and are open from 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Sweet Tea Shakespeare 
    Sweet Tea Shakespeare, a theater company, will be offering special deals on brand new merchandise on their website, as well as an exclusive buy one, get one free discount on upcoming shows. This sale will only be available on Saturday. This non-profit company focuses on gathering a diverse community around a common table to delight in the magic of story, song and stagecraft. Their website is sweetteashakespeare.com/shop/#store.
    Guiding Wellness Institute
    Guiding Wellness Institute is launching a new Live Well Lifestyle Boutique on Saturday. At 9 a.m. there will be a Warm Flow class and shopping in the boutique will be open after. The Guiding Wellness Institute is offering 21% off of purchases over $21 and giving free tickets to their Live Well Day Retreat being held Jan. 2, 2022, with boutique purchases over $210. The boutique offers athleisure wear, yoga mats, journals, natural skincare, candles, teas and more. The Institute is located at 143 Skateway Drive.
    White Trash & Colorful Accessories 

    White Trash will be offering buy-one-get-one 50% off, Mantra Scarves and free "bah humbug" wine glass for anyone who spends $30 or more. For anyone who spends $50 or more they are offering a tote bag that says "rose all day" and anyone who spends $100 or more will get a free tote bag that says “underestimate me, that’ll be fun.” The sale is on Saturday only. White Trash & Colorful Accessories sells a collection of items from greeting cards to artist jewelry. They are located at 223 Franklin St. and are open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m, Monday through Saturday.

  • 03President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Fort Bragg, Nov. 22, to hand out Thanksgiving meals to service members and their families.

    Service members and families spent the afternoon getting COVID-19 tests and onboarding buses at Pike Field. From there, they were bused to a hangar by the Pope Army Airfield. The hangar had several activities for kids and families set up, including coloring books and games provided by the USO. The hangar was open, showing a panoramic view of the newly refinished flight line, so when Air Force One landed shortly before 5:30 p.m., all the service members and their families could see the iconic plane land and slowly pull past the hangar.

    Shortly after arrival, the Bidens disembarked from Air Force One. Before serving a meal to service members and their families, they each spoke to the crowd about the struggles military families face. Both Bidens talked about when Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden, served in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Kosovo. Beau Biden passed away in 2015 from cancer.

    "I know what it feels like for all of your families here because you won't be home for the holidays. I know what it's like to see that empty seat at the table and just feel how hard it is for the families," Jill Biden said. "I just wanted to thank all of you. That's why we came to have dinner with you."The First Lady then passed the microphone to President Biden, who spoke about how proud he was of being the Commander in Chief.

    "You do so much. Your families give so much. I really mean it," President Biden said in his speech to the troops. "You're the finest military that the world has ever seen. That's not hyperbole. You literally are. You're the finest the world has ever seen."

    The Bidens, Gov. Roy Cooper, Kristin Cooper, and Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin helped serve 250 service members and military families. The President served stuffing, and the First Lady served mashed potatoes.

    The Robert Irvine Foundation prepared and supplied the food. The non-profit foundation focuses on supporting service members and veterans through relief grants, scholarships and hearty meals. The founder, Chef Robert Irvine, is the host of Food Network's Restaurant Impossible.

    After dinner, the President and the First Lady walked along the hangar to take photos with and talk to service members.

    image0Attending family members and the service members were chosen by their commands, and representatives from each command at Fort Bragg were present.

    One of the families in attendance, the Ryan Family, Natalie Ryan and her two children, 10-year-old Mikayla and 8-year-old Tommy, have been at Fort Bragg for two years. Natalie's husband, Tommy Ryan Sr., who has 15 years of Army service under his belt, is deployed. She received the invitation to the dinner only the day before.

    "It's definitely an honor. Once in a lifetime kind of opportunity," Natalie Ryan said. The visit is part of the Joining Forces initiative — a White House effort to support military service members, military-affiliated families and veterans. The initiative, spearheaded by First Lady Jill Biden, began during her tenure as the Second Lady.

    "I think that Dr. Biden is incredible. I always appreciated it since she was the Second Lady. Especially her work getting military spouses’ employment and reducing the barriers to military spouse employment," Ryan said. "It's incredible and wonderful."

  • 05 FOrt Bragg signPresident Joe Biden and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, are visiting Fort Bragg Monday evening as part of the Joining Forces Initiative. They will be celebrating Thanksgiving early with service members and military families.

    North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and his wife, Kristen Cooper, will be joining the President during his visit.

    The president is expected to leave from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland around 4:20 p.m. and then arrive at Fort Bragg about an hour later. The White House's "Friendsgiving" dinner is expected to start around 6 p.m.

    Joining Forces is a White House initiative to support military families, which includes families of service members, veterans, caregivers and survivors. Last week, Jill Biden spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and pleaded with business owners to hire and train spouses of active members of the military — just as businesses have been doing in successful efforts to hire veterans.

    Up & Coming Weekly will be at the event. We will update our Facebook and Instagram pages throughout the day.

  • 13Carl Pringle has roots in the Fayetteville community. Pringle's mother was raised here, and in 1993 Pringle moved to Fayetteville from Washington D. C. He is a father of four, a daughter and three sons. His sons also live in Fayetteville. Pringle retired from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Plant five years ago.

    While in Washington D. C., Pringle was deeply impressed by Party At The Park, a series of community events held in the area. Upon his arrival to Fayetteville, he sought to recreate these events with the plan to create "some positive" in the community.

    The events, which involved renting out parks and hiring a D. J. to provide a safe, fun and positive space, were smaller in attendance than he hoped. But even with smaller numbers, they were creating the positive he was looking to manifest.

    A party-in-the-park-goer stopped after one event to thank Pringle for organizing the event. It was then that Pringle realized it wasn't about the number of attendees, but about making the best of those who had made it out for the event.

    This event and that realization were just the beginning. Pringle has built a community of helpers, and together they selflessly give back to his mother's hometown. Together they help where they can when they can. His main event has come together over seven Thanksgivings.

    Seven years ago, Pringle stopped in at a local restaurant to purchase plates of food for a family in need during the holidays, and each year the measure by which he and his community give back has been amplified.

    The theme of his Thanksgiving event has evolved into We Are 1 Big Family. Pringle explains that many different groups, motorcycle clubs, and groups from throughout the community have become part of the family and the team over the years.

    "We don't care who is doing it; we look at the mission on hand," Pringle said. "We try to touch as many people as we can."

    Last year when Operation Turkey was canceled due to COVID-19, Pringle's group stepped up to deliver over 1000 plates to families in Spring Lake and an additional 500 to 600 plates in Lumberton.
    In addition, he created Lunch On Us. Carl and his army of community-minded helpers handed out food plates across different locations in Fayetteville for twenty-seven weeks on Sundays.

    They served chicken, hot dogs, burgers, anything they could get their hands on to cook in support of feeding the community.

    "If you can kill it, I can cook it," Pringle explained.

    The hope was to fill the gap that school meals and weekend events might miss for hungry families in the community. The event is ongoing but has shifted to one Sunday every month.

    "I didn't want to burn out the volunteers," Pringle said.

    The Lunch On Us crew currently serves free lunch to those in need on the corner of Bragg Boulevard and Johnson Street. This location serves a purpose. Pringle strategically hands out meals at this

    intersection near the Bonnie Doone community because he feels this is a place in need.

    Pringle explained the nearest safe spaces, Westover Recreation Center and College Lakes Recreation Center are too far to walk to.

    14Pringle said that the Bonnie Doone area is a place that needs "some positive."

    Pringle hopes one day to purchase a home in this area to create an extension of a safe space, a place where everyone who walks into the yard can leave the negative behind.

    "When they walk in the yard, they are in a safe place," Pringle explained. "The best way to bring people's property values up is to invest in our communities."

    This year Thanksgiving will see Pringle and his crew serving the community as they have for the last six years. They will be plating up turkey, stuffing and rolls; the vegetables will vary. These meals are available for pick-up and delivery for individuals and families.

    "We try to touch as many people as we can," Pringle said. "Everybody comes together; they are all part of the family."

    This year food will be plated and distributed from the team's base station at 541 Bonanza Dr. (behind Ponderosa Shopping Center).

    Individuals looking for a warm Thanksgiving plate or those who want to donate or volunteer and support the We are 1 Big Family event can reach Pringle via Facebook or at 910-584-0203.

    "Please help us help others," Pringle said.

  • 12Founder of Cora's Community Foundation, Rakeem "Keem" Jones, has organized a community event to "ensure that no family goes hungry or cold during the holiday season," taking place Nov. 21, at Segra Stadium from 2 – 6 p.m.

    Cora's Community Foundation and Southern CC Inc. have partnered together for this community event, entitled "Everybody Eats," as a form of community service and unity with the city of Fayetteville.
    Cora's Community Foundation's mission is listed on charitynavigator.org as “spiritual, educational and economic empowerment of underserved youth, families and other at-risk residents in Cumberland County, North Carolina.” Southern CC Inc. is described on their website “as a non-profit organization whose sole mission is to empower homeless veterans by rebuilding and revitalizing communities — while providing a network of support to assist homeless veterans and residents rebuild their lives.”

    The event will also honor veterans, from 10 a.m. — 2 p.m. by showing Veteran Awareness Films centered around human trafficking, autism awareness and cryptocurrency.

    Jones asserts that Everybody Eats shows that Fayetteville creates more opportunities through citizen and community effort by coming together in unity for the holidays.

    "I remember the different holiday events all over the city. However, I remember my mom not having transportation to get to them," Jones said. "So I felt there should be one major event rather than multiple events."

    Everybody Eats is offering resources and supplies for families to make it through the following months as winter sets in as well as support in recovering from the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "We will have resources to assist with rent, utilities, education, job placement, clothing/hygiene," Jones listed. "Health and wellness, veteran services and youth services, along with food and winter items."

    As a community leader, Jones’ self-proclaimed mission is to guarantee that Everybody Eats because "COVID hurt more than the homeless population... everybody was affected drastically. That's why this event is called Everybody Eats.”

    Jones chose Segra Stadium for the event based on convenience for those traveling.

    "Segra Stadium is the perfect location because of the amount of space. Furthermore, on a personal note, I wanted to show people that grew up with me, or like me, that you can do anything you put your mind and heart to," Jones said. "Don't ever let anybody tell you what you can't do."

    Jones encourages the community to support the homeless population and those who may suffer from the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "I feel like if we come together as a community, we can help the community," Jones said.

    For more information or to help support the Everybody Eats event, contact Jones at 910-709-0826 or rjjones5045@gmail.com or Tony Brown at 910-568-5165 or contact@southernccinc.org.

  • Second Harvest Food Pantry supports southeast North Carolina

    09Action Pathway opened in Cumberland County almost 40 years ago. During that time, they evolved into the Second Harvest Food Bank. They are a partner of Feeding America and serve those in Cumberland, Bladen, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, Robeson and Sampson counties.

    David Griffin, the Action Pathways Food Bank Director, says they service 196 agencies and organizations daily. With COVID-19 impacting so many people last year, Second Harvest Food Bank saw an increase in need. Last year they distributed 14.6 million pounds of food.

    “We saw a 40 percent increase in first-time pantry usage at our agencies and at distribution,” Griffin said. They will be hosting a mass food distribution to anyone who needs it at the Smith Recreation Center, near Fayetteville State University. It will be a drive-thru distribution and they will be providing produce, canned food and meat. The food will hopefully last families at least a week.

    The mass distribution will take place on Nov. 20 and will start around 9:30 a.m. It will be first-come, first-serve. They will have enough food for 250 households and will serve no more than 2 households per car. Second Harvest is also collecting items at this time.

    They are looking for donations of canned foods, cereal and non-perishables at this time — including hygiene products and household items.

    People can also volunteer their time with Second Harvest. Griffin said that they are looking for people with all different types of skillsets to help volunteer. This can be clerical work, social media/marketing skills or just helping to hand out food at a distribution site. Volunteers are welcome at any time of the year, not just during the holiday season.

    “We continue to bring food to those underserved in our communities,” Griffin said. “It doesn't stop with the holidays, it goes on all 12 months of the year.”

    Another distribution event is planned in December in Cumberland County. Griffin said they are still working on details, but they hope to help at least 1,200 people by bringing in three 18-wheeler trucks full of food. If you want to volunteer your time, donate food, or if you need help, their contact number is 910-485-6923.

    Fayetteville Technical Community College Food Pantry supports local students

    10The Fayetteville Technical College Food Pantry started exactly a year ago opening its doors on November 17, 2020. The FTCC Food Pantry was born in an unexpected manner when it came to light that a sociology professor had been keeping a small pantry of items for students in need in her office. Worsened by the impact of the pandemic it became clear that FTCC students needed extra support in the wake of lost jobs and financial insecurity.

    “It kind of magically happened,” explained Sandy Ammons, executive director, FTCC Foundations. The FTCC Food Pantry is placing specific attention on their need for gift cards this holiday season.

    The Christmas season is of more immediate concern to the FTCC Food Pantry because it stretches over a longer period of time than the Thanksgiving break. Additionally, while harder to come by food items such as canned hams and meats are being requested for donation, the food pantry has a mix of students who use their services ranging from families to single students. Gift cards allow for more flexibility in how they are able to support their students in need. Some folks just enjoy the experience of shopping to help others, so all donations are welcomed. “We are just grateful,” Ammons said of any donations received.

    The FTCC Food Pantry is set up like a grocery store; students can shop from shelves that are stocked with food, household items, personal care and baby items. To be eligible, students must be currently enrolled in classes and have a valid FTCC ID. Students can stop in at the FTCC Food Bank fill out a short form explaining their need and circumstances and help follows.

    The Food Pantry is located on the backside of the Horace Sisk Building (HOS) 2204 Hull Road, Fayetteville, NC 28303. Donations are dropped off at a separate location from the Food Pantry.

    Those wishing to make donations of food and other personal care items are asked to bring those items to the Property Control Office located at 284 Hull Road, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. To donate money or gift cards, contact the FTCC Foundation at 910.678-8441 or foundation@faytechcc.edu; to donate to the FTCC Food Pantry, visit www.faytechcc.edu/giving/give-now/; to learn more about the FTCC Food Pantry, visit www.faytechcc.edu/giving/food-pantry/.

    Fort Bragg's Armed Services YMCA Food Pantry

    11In October of 2019, the Armed Services YMCA at Fort Bragg opened a food pantry for all service members regardless of rank. The ASYMCA Food Pantry helps address food insecurity for active-duty military families and area veterans.

    “The program is a ‘client choice’ model where patrons can shop from a variety of well-balanced perishable and non-perishable items,” explained Jeremy Hester, executive director, ASYMCA Fort Bragg.

    The food pantry is open on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as one Saturday a month. Participants are able to register online to schedule a visit to the pantry once a month. The program is confidential and referrals are not needed for junior enlisted service members, families and veterans. Senior enlisted and officers will need a signed memorandum from a commander.
    The ASYMCA Food Pantry always welcomes support and finds that monetary donations are most helpful, but they will also welcome food drives or drop-off donations.

    Donations can be dropped at 2411 Rodney Trail, Building #2, on Fort Bragg. Monetary donations can be made at fortbragg.asymca.org/give/340604/#!/donation/checkout.

    With the upcoming holiday season, the best way to find out what is needed and what is happening is to follow AFYMCA on Facebook and Instagram. Donation needs vary week to week and a weekly wishlist is released on Facebook every Wednesday.

    Families can register on the website for the food pantry and a turkey giveaway. There will be extended hours and weekend hours during the holiday months. Whatever the needs of service members and their families during this holiday season, the ASYMCA is geared up to help.

    “We want all families in the community to reach out to us no matter rank or situation; especially during the holidays, we are here to help everyone,” Hester said.

    Hester added that even if families are not able to register online, the ASYMCA is open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Families are free to call or come by to see how the AFYMCA can assist, whether it’s with the Food Pantry or any of the other programs they have available. Additional information and registration for service members in need can be found at www.asymca.org/what-we-do-fort-bragg.

  • 07The Fort Bragg Religious Support Office organized a Thanksgiving Build-A-Meal Campaign on post to help support soldiers and family members who are in need. With the help of 71 volunteers earlier this month at the All American Chapel, the RSO helped build 1,631 Thanksgiving food bags and is giving out 1,269 $25 commissary gift cards.

    Included in the bags of food are stuffing, yams, green beans, potatoes and cranberry sauce.

    “The Thanksgiving meal bags are to provide meals for those soldiers and families who are in great need this year,” Col. Julie Rowan, Fort Bragg garrison chaplain, said. “These meals were accessible through the Unit Ministry Teams here at Fort Bragg.”

    The bags of food will be distributed to soldiers and their families on Nov. 19.

  • 01Holy Smoke! The last few weeks have kept us crazy busy regarding news and events explicitly focused on our local government and city officials. First was the Island Flava incident, Oct. 13, where one man was shot and killed and another injured. A local news blog has alleged the Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins and Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin were at that location socializing and celebrating Fayetteville State University’s Homecoming that evening. The blog further accuses Hawkins of misuse of police resources and abuse of power. On Tuesday, Nov. 9, former Councilwoman Tisha Waddell resigned abruptly from her District 3 seat, alleging corruption on the part of Colvin, and accusing the mayor and city council members of self-serving misconduct, mismanagement and conflicts of interest. Then last week, at a special meeting to appoint citizens to city committees and commissions, Councilmembers Johnny Dawkins and Yvonne Kinston engaged in a shouting brouhaha that resulted in an impromptu recess and cooling-off period. These are indications that a day of reckoning is approaching for our city, which has allowed the lives and livelihoods of over 200,000 citizens to be entrusted to incompetent and unqualified leadership.

    No doubt we can do better. Much better. Out of the ten members that make up our council very few have adequate business, government or political experience. Four are ordained ministers and all of them are being led by a mayor with a dubious and criminal past. One might ask, what possibly could go wrong? The answer, everything. After years of turning a blind eye to inept governance, contradictions in policy, corruption and conflicts of interest, it is coming to light that Fayetteville’s City Hall is being ravished by scandals and scallywags. As a local news source, we haven't written or commented much about these issues because, in many cases, accusations of criminal misconduct are difficult to substantiate without ample resources. However, what has always proven likely in this community is that where there is smoke, there is fire. Here at Up & Coming Weekly, we tend to believe in what we see and not what we hear. We did not comment on the Island Flava incident because we could not, and have not, substantiated or been able to contact someone who would come forward to substantiate the allegations. We concluded it is likely the story is an embellishment of the facts and is intended to target Hawkins, who is highly unpopular within the Fayetteville Police Department. Because it came from a source inside the FPD, the story was afforded credibility, and this fueled the attention it garnered. We immediately requested a comment or clarification directly from the Police Chief and City Hall concerning the incident and were told that a statement from the chief’s office would be forthcoming. It never came. Now, we're told City Attorney Karen McDonald is slow-walking an official request to have the incident investigated. One must ask, why the delay?

    I admire Waddell's moxie in articulating all the unsavory allegations in her recent resignation letter. Anyone on the inside who cares about the welfare of the Fayetteville community knows there is substance to every one of her accusations. Many citizens not privy to the local government's goings-on do not have access to all of the information. After all, Fayetteville and Cumberland County lack adequate local news media coverage. This allows for little or no public oversight regarding what is taking place in our local government. And, like Waddell made clear in her letter, the only body capable of monitoring the conduct of the Fayetteville City Council is the City Council themselves. Yes. The fox is guarding the henhouse. No doubt this has made everyone's tempers short, and their nerves are on edge. This could be why Councilmembers Johnny Dawkins and Yvonne Kinston squared off at an Appointments Committee meeting.

    Bad behavior has been rewarded for way too long: now it's time to pay the piper. We know there is currently an official complaint filed against Hawkins in the Superior Court. We have also recorded past corrupt, improper and questionable conduct by city staff and City Council members. (i.e. Ted Voorhees/Tyron Williams.) Now, Waddell has laid out at least a dozen accusations of mismanagement and misconduct directly at the feet of the City Council and all of Fayetteville. It is a bold and courageous move by a local official who refused to "go along to get along." It will be interesting to see how city officials react or if they react at all.

    I would be remiss if I did not again point out that all of these issues stem from a lack of media or news journalism to provide oversight to ask hard questions. These events and actions evolved without transparency, following the same corrupt plan the Town of Spring Lake followed for over a decade before being taken over by the state for misuse and mismanagement of over $1.8 million of taxpayer's money. We cannot let that happen in our city.

    A special thanks to Waddell, regardless of what her motives were. The Fayetteville City Council has now been confronted with serious allegations. The warning signs of corruption are obvious. Let's see how they handle it. Yes. It's time to peel back the onion, take action and hold people accountable.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 02Efforts are underway by Fayetteville City Council to replace District 3 council member Tisha Waddell. She resigned suddenly last week citing “egregious actions” of misconduct by Mayor Mitch Colvin and some of her council colleagues. Waddell issued a lengthy five-page open letter outlining her allegation that Colvin has engaged in conflicts of interest and lack of transparency.

    She charged that the mayor regularly “ignored council policy and used his position to influence and subvert” procedures established by the council.

    “I am disappointed that Former Councilwoman Waddell has chosen to resign while making baseless accusations against her former colleagues on City Council and private citizens on her way out the door. It’s campaign time so I guess here comes the smear campaign,” Colvin said in a Facebook statement. He has since updated and edited that statement.

    “The City of Fayetteville is saddened by the abrupt resignation of one of our city council members. We thank her for the time she has dedicated to her district and our wonderful city. The City Council wishes her the very best in all of her future endeavors and we are looking forward to working with the new representative as we put Fayetteville first!”

    During their years working together, Waddell was regularly critical of Colvin. Five of the nine council members — Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen, Chris Davis, Johnny Dawkins, D.J. Haire, and Larry Wright — have been generally supportive of the mayor. Waddell wrote of “multiple closed sessions” held by the City Council, one of which included a representative of a private equity firm, Bernard Capital Partners, and Fayetteville Public Works Commissioners on BCP’s proposal to invest nearly $1 billion to operate the city's utilities for the next 30 years.

    PWC eventually declined the offer. Closed meetings of public bodies are governed by state statutes that limit participation and topics of discussion.

    Some of the allegations Waddell made include: Colvin destroyed public records by having his cell phone wiped clean; Colvin was involved in communication with BCP representatives about City Matters without City Council approval and did not state to City Council about the conflict of interest; Members of City Council were contacted by and had discussions with Attorney Johnathan Charleston regarding Dismass Charities before a Special Use Permit was brought before the City Council – which could violate sunshine state law.

    Waddell urged the City Council to conduct an independent review of her allegations and that if they fail to do so, “the citizens of this city should begin calling for an investigation of their own regarding corruption of members of the Fayetteville City Council.” She went so far as to suggest that the State Bureau of Investigation of the FBI probe BCP involvement with Mayor Colvin.

    In a follow up interview with RUD:E Podcast, Waddell said that it is up to the council and the public to follow-up on the allegations.

    “I have every expectation that the members of this community will do their due diligence and that they will call me out if the need is there and I'm willing to answer to any accusation made of me. I'm willing to submit to any investigation. I am willing to move forward as a part of whatever this city and this governing body feels is the appropriate course of action,” Waddell said. “I said what I said, and now you take what I said, and you do what you're going to do with it. And if this body chooses to ignore this information, that says a lot about this body."
    Waddell said she was honored to have served the city.

    As of Nov. 16, the City of Fayetteville Ethics Commission told Up & Coming Weekly that they have "no such investigation related to those allegations, at this time."

    An application form is currently available on the city website for anyone interested in filling the seat. Applications are due on Nov. 26. Anyone can apply for the position as long as they are a registered voter, live in District 3, over the age of 21 and is a Fayetteville citizen.

    The application form can be found here: https://www.fayettevillenc.gov/Home/Components/Form/Form/900e59e85aba4d1b9207af0d0722a146/4126

    A City Council Special Meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6 where the council will appoint the next District 3 representative.

    This person would serve in the role until the next election. People who have already declared that they will be campaigning for the district seat in the upcoming election include John Zimmerman, Johnny Gordon and Mario Benavente. The primary election will be on March 8.

  • Tisha WaddellEfforts are underway by Fayetteville City Council to replace District 3 council member Tisha Waddell. She resigned suddenly this past Tuesday citing “egregious actions” of misconduct by Mayor Mitch Colvin and some of her council colleagues. Waddell issued a lengthy five-page open letter outlining her allegation that Colvin has engaged in conflicts of interest and lack of transparency. She charged that the mayor regularly “ignored council policy and used his position to influence and subvert” procedures established by council.

    "I am disappointed that former Councilmember Waddell has chosen to resign and make baseless accusations against a substantial number of her former City Council colleagues and private citizens on her way out the door," Colvin said in a statement.

    During their years working together, Waddell was regularly critical of Colvin. Five of the nine council members -- Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen, Chris Davis, Johnny Dawkins, D.J. Haire, and Larry Wright -- have been generally supportive of the mayor.

    Waddell wrote of “multiple closed sessions” held by city council, one of which included a representative of a private equity firm, Bernard Capitol Partners, and Fayetteville Public Works commissioners on BCP’s proposal to invest nearly $1 billion to operate the city's utilities for the next 30 years. PWC eventually declined the offer. Closed meetings of public bodies are governed by state statutes that limit participation and topics of discussion.

    Waddell urged city council to conduct an independent review of her allegations and that if they fail to do so, “the citizens of this city should begin calling for an investigation of their own regarding corruption of members of the Fayetteville City Council.” She went so far as to suggest that the State Bureau of Investigation of the FBI probe Bernhard Capitol Partners involvement with the mayor.

    Waddell asked that City Attorney Karen MacDonald “guide the council” in selecting her District 3 successor by November 30. She said she was honored to have served the city. “I believe I have done so ethically, legally and according to the community’s expectations.”


    City Manager, City Attorney and Members of the City Council,

    This letter is to serve as notice of my immediate official resignation from the Fayetteville City Council. City Manager Hewett, my badqe, city tablet, and cell phone are at City Hall for retrieval on your desk. Would you please advise if I need to do anything else to out process? City Attorney McDonald, per Council Policy 175·11, please guide the City Council according to N-C·G·S· § 160A-63 "the City Council shall make the selection within 30 days of the event mandating the replacement".

    I hope that in the interest of the Citizens of District 3, Council will promptly adhere to the policy as outlined and appoint someone to represent the District no later than November 30th, 2021.

    I have been honored to serve in this capacity· I believe I have done so ethically, legally, and according to the community's expectations. This decision was not easy to make as I
    have taken my role as a representative of the people, for the people, and by the people very seriously. Multiple factors have made it necessary for this to be my designated
    course of action· While the following explanation is not exhaustive, it highlights the most egregious actions that have led to my resignation.

    Per the Council's Code of Ethics, the only agents that can hold any member of this body accountable for violating policy or procedure are the members of this body. Unfortunately, many times, both publicly and privately, members of this board have not taken action, even when faced with evidence of the need.

    I submit the following to this board and to the public who will read this document, as it is a matter of public record:

    Bernhard Capital Partners was initially brought to the City of Fayetteville through an introduction by then 1st term Mayor Mitch Colvin. Members of the Council and
    members of PWC's board were present for this initial meeting. There was no further mention of Bernhard Capital Partners during the remainder of Mitch Colvin's 1st term as Mayor. Recently, the possible effects of this agreement and the lack of transparency surrounding this conversation have been a vast topic of concern in the community·

    Shifting ahead to the inauguration of the 2019-2021 Fayetteville City Council, Mayor Steve Benjamin swore in Mayor Colvin. On the surface, this may seem inconsequential. However, when considered part of the big picture, it is an integral part of this discussion· On March 10th, 2020, Mayor Benjamin was announced as an addition to the Charleston Group ( owned by Attorney Johnathan Charleston) to their Public Finance practice.

    He is also associated with Bernhard Capital Partners since at least 2015 https://dipresa.com.py/cmr36yx/3c6290-bernhard-capital-partners and at their 2020 annual meeting (https://www·bcp-2020-com) was a featured guest speaker. On page 8 of Institutional investing in Infrastructure (A Special Report published in conjunction with Bernhard Capital Partners), November 2020 Issue, Mayor Benjamin is also featured commenting regarding municipal revenues and public-private partnerships.

    My priority on Council has been increasing the investment we were making in our infrastructure (stormwater, street resurfacing, and sidewalk installation.)

    During my second term, I began getting calls about a "private equity firm" that may be looking into an arrangement with the City regarding the fund transfer dollars from PWC. Eventually, it came out that the Mayor had been in communication with BCP without the involvement of the Council and without; direction to engage them (inconsistent with Council Policy).

    Once the concession agreement dialogue came before the Council, a few members of the body were clear that we expected equitable access to the information discussed regarding the agreement. During multiple closed sessions regarding the matter, a few other Council members and I continued to express concerns for the lack of clear communication across the Council. We could never gain the consensus of the collective Council to bring it under control·

    Eventually, there was a closed session meeting with Bernhard Capital Partners, PWC's board, and the City Council to have some more detailed discussions. Allegedly Johnathan Charleston was present at the start of the meeting but left before the closed session discussion. This seems to present; a conflict, of interest, as Mr. Charleston serves as the Bond Council for the City of Fayetteville and Public Works Commission, Mr. Benjamin's employer, and Mayor Colvin's attorney. The overlap seems, at minimum, to present a conflict.

    Mr. Charleston also allegedly hosted a fundraiser for Mayor Mitch Colvin recently. Allegedly members of Bernhard Capital Partners were present.

    Currently, the Council stalled in the appointment of a PWC commissioner, which is relevant because, without the agreement of PWC, the City cannot arbitrarily accept Berhard Capital Partners concession agreement. The community should question the seeming allegiance to Mayor Colvin's agenda by Mayor ProTem Jensen, Councilman Haire,
    Councilman Dawkins, Councilman Davis, and Councilman Wright.

    Allegedly members of this Council are being lobbied by Johnathan Charleston for one of the applicants. This applicant was asked about a relationship with any member of the Council that could be considered a conflict of interest on his application and during an in-person interview. He denied any existed, however allegedly he has both a close relationship with Mr. Charleston (PWC's Bond Council) and an almost familial relationship with Councilman Chris Davis, who also serves as the liaison, appointed by the Mayor, between PWC and the City of Fayetteville.

    Allegedly, the six members of the Council listed above have close communication with Mr· Charleston both professionally and personally. Mr. Charleston has provided legal counsel for at least three of the above. I have not heard allegations of influential familiarity with Attorney Charleston regarding Councilman Dawkins or Councilman Haire. They appear to have different motives that influence their synchronization with the Mayor's efforts.

    Of note, the City has pending litigation regarding Dismass Charities, a transaction involving Attorney Charleston. The influence of Mr. Charleston on this body may help make the confusion surrounding this conversation make more sense·

    Lastly, the Mayor has been accused of using his position and his influence to subvert the process established by the Fayetteville City Council. Some examples include:

    • Having his cell phone wiped of information by City Staff during the timeframe then-Councilman Tyrone Williams was accused of inappropriate usage of his position. If this allegation is found, it demonstrates using City Staff to destroy public records.
    • Encouraging members of the body to ignore concerns about and not report potential exposure to what is considered one of our time's most contagious virus (COVID-19)
    • Building permits and certificate of appropriateness being handled in a manner inconsistent with the policy by City Staff regarding his property on Hay Street (Kress Building)
    • An attempt to coerce elected members of the Council to follow unestablished policies including "attendance policies" without following the protocol set forth.

    The Fayetteville City Council should call for an immediate investigation into:

    • The allegation that Mayor Mitch Colvin destroyed public records by having his cell phone wiped clean (phone number 910.987.0590) and any involvement of any member of City Staff
    • The involvement of Johnathan Charleston regarding any business with Bernhard Capital Partners or their representatives
    • The involvement of Mayor Mitch Colvin regarding any business with Bernhard Capital Partners or any of their representatives - to include Mayor Steve Benjamin
    • Members of Council contacted by or having discussions with Attorney Johnathan Charleston or any of his representatives regarding Dismass Charities before, during, or after the initial Special Use Permit was brought to us for consideration? If this happened, it would be a direct violation of the law/policy regarding Special Use Permits.

    The City Council should move forward IMMEDIATELY with an independent review or these allegations and should require that Mayor Mitch Colvin and Councilman Chris Davis abstain from any vote regarding PWC's appointment or Bernhard Capital Partners, as there is the appearance there could be a conflict of interest or something to be gained financially.

    In the case that the Council does not immediately investigate, the citizens of this City should begin calling (or an investigation on their own regarding corruption of members of the Fayetteville City Council by the State Bureau of lnvesti9ations (S.B.I.) or Federal Bureau od Investigations (F.B.I.), specifically regarding the Bernhard Capital Partners involvement in Fayetteville with the Mayor, Mitch Colvin, and the City and PWC's Bond Council, Johnathan Charleston as well as the alleged  destruction of public records by mayor Mitch Colvin.

    Remember that Fayetteville is a Council/Manager form or government which means the Mayor only has one vote and does not determine the direction of the body. There should be more communication, more outward-facing transparency, and less blind compliance or members or the overall body. I am very disappointed in Mayor Colvin, Mayor ProTem Jensen, Councilman Wright, and   Councilman Davis because they have been dismissive of the process, critical of anything that seemingly opposed the Mayor's agenda and has refused to submit to a process review, choosing instead to ostracize those who believed it to be important. While the step I am taking to resign may seem drastic, it is imperative at this time.

    Lastly, this Council should appoint someone to succeed me within 30 days or my resignation. Hold them to it.In the meantime, I am still just a phone call away and will continue to serve this community in whatever way God requires.

    With respect,

    Council Member Tisha S. Waddell

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a developing story. For the most updated information, pick up our next issue of Up & Coming Weekly at our newsstands on November 17.

  • 13Later this month, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra will be presenting a special concert, About that Brass. There is a great deal of music written for brass and the orchestra is excited to show off their musicians during this program.

    “The orchestra is thrilled to feature our tremendous brass section in this program of primarily original works written for brass dating as far back as the 1590s,” Music Director, Stefan Sanders said. “There will be 14 brass instruments (four trumpets, five French horns, four trombones and one tuba) and three percussionists performing on this program.”

    The concert will take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

    “We are grateful for the special relationship we have with the St. John’s community,” Sanders said. “The intimacy of St. John’s is the perfect way for us to feature smaller ensembles from the orchestra. We hope the audience will enjoy the variety of music on this program as well as the range and virtuosity of our world-class musicians. We have such a great orchestra right here in Fayetteville.”

    All About That Brass showcases the brass and percussion sections of the FSO. The program features some of the very best repertoire written for brass and percussion, according to the FSO website.

    Larry Wells became involved with FSO upon his arrival at Methodist University in the Fall of 2006.

    “The conductor of the FSO at that time, Fouad Fakhouri, literally saw me in the hallway carrying my trumpet,” Wells said. “‘Ok...play something’ he said. I stopped and rattled off several orchestral excerpts. ‘Ok...you're in!’ was his response. I've been playing with FSO ever since.”

    “My background is a lot to digest,” Wells said. “I have three college degrees and have been teaching for over 20 years. I've also been playing in various orchestras for roughly 30 years. Additionally, I used to build custom trumpets for the D.G. Monette Corp. On top of all that, I was the GM of a large youth orchestra in Portland, Oregon. That experience has helped me here in that I am the music director of the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra.”

    The concert on Nov. 20 is special because it features many works for brass spanning over 400 years of history. The antiphonal pieces of Gabrieli, circa 1600 A.D., were written for musicians at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy. No less amazing are the pieces were written by contemporary composers like Eric Ewazen. Other selected pieces include Samuel Barber’s Mutations from Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Concertino, Op. 94 and Henri Tomasi’s Fanfare Liturgiques.

    “As for the audience,” Wells said, “I first hope that they enjoy an evening of amazing music in an amazing place. I also hope they leave a bit more enlightened regarding the rich history of brass playing. Finally, I hope they can see the joy that this music brings to the musicians themselves. We have a very close-knit group of brass musicians in the FSO. These types of events are a pleasure to produce. I'm very excited to hear the final result.”

    All About That Brass will take place Saturday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church. The total concert run time is an hour and 15 minutes.

  • 12The Hoke County Republican Party will be hosting a Veteran Appreciation Freedom BBQ this weekend that is geared around veterans in the area.

    Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Congressman Dan Bishop will be present at the event and they will be speaking both to the crowd and to veterans one-on-one. Robinson served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1985 to 1989.

    Hal Nunn, the Communications Director and former Chairman of the Hoke County Republican Party, says that this event was inspired by Lt. Governor Mark Robinson when he made a remark last time he was in Hoke County that he wanted to speak directly to veterans.

    He said that Chairman David Frump and Vice Chairman Chris Holland came up with the idea of having a veterans appreciation barbecue featuring Robinson. They would host veteran organizations and Fuller’s Old Fashioned BBQ would help sponsor and provide the food.

    Some of the veteran organizations that will be at the event to provide information and services to veterans include Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 10, the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans.

    “For me personally, I'm a 20-year army disabled veteran, and sometimes I think our veterans' issues are overlooked,” Nunn said. “So I think the Lt. Gov. coming to Raeford is wonderful to talk directly to the veterans and we will have all these veteran organizations there so they can get help if they need it.”

    Prior to the event, Nunn says that Robinson will be at the VFW Post 10 to talk with veterans one-on-one without the giant crowds.

    This kind of opportunity to speak with someone who can not only listen but also make a change when it comes to veterans issues in North Carolina can be major for veterans, according to Nunn.

    Outside of the food and a 50/50 cash drawing, there will also be live music from BonesFolk who will be performing music from their recently released second album, Beautiful Circle. BonesFolk is a band that is made up entirely of former Special Forces military veterans.

    The All-Veteran Parachute Team will also be doing a skydiving demonstration for entertainment. But they won’t be the only ones jumping out of the plane.

    North Carolina Congressman Ted Budd, former Congressman and current Senate candidate Mark Walker, and Senate candidate Jennifer Banwart will be jumping out of the planes with the skydivers.

    Even with all the political figures that will appear at the event, Nunn says that politics is not the purpose of the barbecue.

    “We don't want to make this political,” Nunn said. “We want to thank our vets, we want to help them and we want to keep veteran issues in the forefront.”

    The barbecue will take place on Nov. 13 from 2 –5 p.m. at the Raeford Airport.

    While the event is free, they ask for people to register ahead of time for security purposes.

    Over 200 people have registered to attend the event so far, according to the Hoke County Republican Party. Registration can be found at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/172131739667.

  • 11It’s November, the time of giving and saying thank you.

    While Thanksgiving isn’t here quite yet, local organizations are hosting events that are focused on giving back to the local community and supporting local businesses.

    LaFayette Ford is hosting their first Truck Day event which will feature all types of trucks that will interest kids and adults (who are still kids at heart). Firetrucks, police cars, first responder vehicles, food trucks and cars from local businesses will all be on display.

    Rusty Hinton, the General Manager of LaFayette Ford explained that they wanted to host a community event and involve local businesses and local organizations.

    “We are a locally-owned dealership and we like to participate in the community,” Hinton said.

    Normally around this time of the year, the lots are filled with cars and vehicles that would be on display before they get sold. However, because of supply chain issues, those vehicles have not arrived and the lot is primarily empty.

    Which makes it the perfect space to host a community event. The food trucks that will be on display will be serving food. Miller’s Crew, 876 Flavaz, and Bowls on a Roll will be present. The first 250 people who attend the event and donate a can of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank can get lunch for free at any of the food trucks.

    Another way to give back at this event is to donate blood to the Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center blood drive that will be happening during the event

    In order to donate blood, you have to be 17 and older, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health and have proof of identification.

    Veterans who donate blood will be able to earn a challenge coin.

    If you aren't a Veteran, you can still show your military appreciation by donating in honor of a Veteran to earn a challenge coin. The blood drive will also have free COVID-19 antibody or Sickle Cell trait testing by request during a health screening.

    Lastly, there will also be a Toys for Tots donation box present so people can donate toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas this year.

    While there is a lot of giving at the event, there are also many things you can pick up for yourself. Cats and kittens will be available for adoption from Operation Healing Whiskers.

    Operation Healing Whiskers is a non-profit cat and kitten rescue that focuses on placing the most vulnerable felines with the humans that need them the most.

    Their main goal is to place their felines in loving homes with wounded warriors and those suffering from PTSD and other mental illnesses.

    WQSM 98.1 FM will be at the event with their business vehicle and will be playing music from their station. Games, prizes and other entertainment will be available for those who bring the whole family out.

    The event will take place on Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the LaFayette Ford location on 5202 Raeford Road.

  • 09Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) has a long history of supporting soldiers wherever they land when they are far from friends and family. Developed in 1989 by the U.S Army Community and Family Support Center (USACFSC) and major army commands the programs are geared towards engaging and involving single soldiers. The program aims to tend to their recreational needs and improve their overall quality of life. The Fort Bragg BOSS program is home-away-from-home to over twenty-nine thousand single and unaccompanied soldiers at Fort Bragg and this includes soldiers who are single-parents.

    “BOSS offers recreational and leisure events, volunteer and community service opportunities, and life-skill activities that are geared towards providing lifelong knowledge,” said Staff Sgt. Jakoby Mallory, president of Fort
    Bragg BOSS.

    For the ninth year running the annual BOSS Thanksgiving will provide single and unaccompanied soldiers a traditional Thanksgiving buffet spread, entertainment and a running raffle for prizes.

    “We hope that single soldiers in attendance benefit from knowing they are not alone during the holiday season,” Mallory said. “We are aware this may be a very difficult time for soldiers who are unable to be with their families and love[d] ones, but the Fort Bragg community is their home away from home.”

    Sgt. Henry Harper, 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade is opting to spend the holiday with others and will be attending the BOSS Thanksgiving event. This will be the first BOSS event that Harper has attended.

    “To me, it sounds like a great opportunity for single soldiers to get a free meal while interacting with other single soldiers. Even though we are unable to go home, it’s reassuring knowing that we won’t spend the holiday alone,” Harper said.

    The installation sees the care of the soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg as a key priority.

    “We (Fort Bragg) want families and loved ones to know that their soldier will be taken care of by the Fort Bragg community and its leaders,” explained Fort Bragg spokeswoman, Sharilyn Wells. “This event is just one way to ensure that single and unaccompanied soldiers know that they are a big and important part of our community. We are fortunate enough to have organizations volunteer their support, provide a free, home-cooked meal, entertainment and donate their time to ensure the morale and welfare of our soldiers.”

    This year’s event is being supported by donations from the Fort Bragg Federal Credit Union, Geico Military and the Gary Sinise Foundation.

    The BOSS Thanksgiving event will be held at the Iron Mike Conference Center on Fort Bragg, Nov. 17 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. The event is free and for any BOSS service member. Those interested in attending should contact the Fort Bragg BOSS program at 910-396-7751.

    For more information on Fort Bragg’s BOSS program and their upcoming events visit www.facebook.com/fortbraggboss.

  • 08"It's been a big part of our lives," Linda Higgins said of the 62nd annual Spaghetti Dinner for the Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church. Higgins is one of the current owners of Luigi's Italian Chophouse and Bar.

    Her father, Peter Parrous, the original owner and founder of Luigi's, started the dinner in 1958 as a way to fundraise for his church.

    The first year they sold around 4,000 plates and it was a dine-in experience.

    "Over the years, it grew and grew," said Higgins. "it really became an event that brought the church members together. It brings the community together."

    This year, she said they expect around 8,500 plates to be sold. Each year, they have to predict the number of patrons that will come but they have been surprised before, selling more than 10,000 plates one year.

    "It has been such a huge community-supported event," explained Higgins.

    Higgins feels like this year is more important than ever for unity in the community after having to cancel the event last year due to COVID-19.

    For Higgins, it's a tradition her father began and a way to continue to honor him.

    When growing up, Higgins remembered her father prepping for the dinner for three or four days.

    Today, her family does the same, spending days preparing for the event.

    "It's been a big part of our lives. It's wonderful to keep up his legacy."

    It takes 4,000 pounds of dry spaghetti, 900 gallons of tomato sauce, and over 100 volunteers to bring this delicious fundraising dinner to reality, according to the church's website.

    Higgins said they will be keeping in mind COVID-19 restrictions during the event.

    The dinner will be hosted on Nov. 17 from 10 a.m.– 8 p.m.

    The plates will be sold for $8 each and assorted Greek pastries such as Baklava, Kouradbiedes, Koulourakia and more will be for sale.

    Folks interested in feeding large groups can order meals in quantities of ten, 15, 20, 40, 50, 100 and 150 on the preorder form. Hungry participants can also preorder their meals by visiting https://www.faygreekchurch.com/2021spaghetti.

  • 10The annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Fayetteville will kick off Heroes Homecoming week. Cumberland County Veterans Council created Heroes Homecoming in 2011 as a way of showing all veterans that the community remembers and appreciates their courage, sacrifice and everything they did to defend our freedom.

    The parade was canceled in 2020 and all events were limited to being virtual. This year, everything is back and in-person.

    The overall theme this year will be honoring the Armed Forces medical personnel and first responders who served on the front lines over the past 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Grilley Mitchell, president, Cumberland County Veterans Council, said that the council decided to honor the medical forces earlier this year.

    “They were the ones who were on the front lines treating people and the COVID situation. Not just nationwide but worldwide,” Mitchell said. “They are the heroes of today because they were there on the frontlines doing what was required of them to take care of the sick.”

    The parade will feature several high school marching bands, a number of JROTC groups, military equipment, various organizations, color guards, churches and groups such as the Shriners. They will also feature members of the Fort Bragg community, including the 18th Airborne Corps and the U. S. Special Operations Command.According to the Cumberland County Veterans Council, there are about 52,000 veterans that live in Cumberland County.

    That doesn’t include the Fort Bragg population of 545,926 soldiers and their 70,000 family members.

    The two honorees this year are Sgt. Maj. Jacob "Jake" Roth and 1st Sgt. Lawrence "Bud" Wilson. Both Roth and Wilson are Korean War Prisoners of War.

    “They are my heroes. Those two guys are living heroes,” Mitchell said. “They are living legends that you get to actually thank them in person for their sacrifice. I work with both of them, every time I'm with those guys, it's an honor and pleasure to be with them.”

    The parade will kick off Nov. 6 at 10 a.m. and will take place on Hay Street by the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and end at Cool Spring and Person Streets, behind the courthouse.

    Following the parade will be the City of Fayetteville’s Veterans Day Ceremony at the North Carolina Veterans Park.

    Spectators are recommended to arrive early in order to find parking. Mitchell asks that people come out, have a good time and show appreciation to the military and the city’s veterans.

  • 13When it comes to Cool Spring Downtown District, there is a new kid on the block.

    In the spot formerly occupied by The Coffee Cup, 108 Hay St., Vagabond Café is putting down roots.

    The owner, Nancy Ramos, was bit by the coffee bug while working as a barista in a popular coffee chain during her undergraduate college days. She participated in coffee tastings, read up, attended more training all in an effort to make the best cup of coffee.

    Coffee is her passion.

    Ramos was a coffee enthusiast in college, but it wasn’t until 2019 that she bought the espresso machine she uses now. Six months after the purchase she started her company. When the opportunity arose to buy a camper van she took a chance.

    She then turned it into the mobile Vagabond Café.

    By January 2021, she was working her business full time.

    Luckily for Vagabond Café the business was not really impacted by COVID-19.

    “We are mobile, so no one was coming into a shop,” Ramos explains.

    Ramos’ dedication to the perfect cup of coffee is not just lip service.

    Her coffee beans are single source, direct trade produce, and Ramos has close relationships with everyone from the farmer to her roaster. This ensures a high quality, fresh cup of coffee every time.

    She is passionate about the process.

    “I like the coffee itself and the science behind it,” Ramos said. “It is a lot more than brewing coffee. Different regions roast coffee beans to bring out the notes the coffee was meant to have. I like the interaction,” Ramos said. “I sell an experience people cannot get anywhere else.”

    Ramos’s coffee beverages are unlike any other coffee served on Hay Street now. Her Mexican heritage is the inspiration for some of her coffees.

    Utilizing ingredients and flavors familiar to her such as those she imports from places such as Teocaltiche in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

    She has created specialty drinks such as “Frida” which is a hibiscus tea and cold brew. Her mother passed down a recipe for “Horta” which is popular. The drink is milk-based with cinnamon and espresso.

    Ramos strives to use authentic ingredients. “I also use Mexican cinnamon, “said Ramos. She will also have pastries available in the shop and is currently talking to a
    local baker.

    “We love seeing our vendors leap from mobile units to storefronts,” said Bianca Shoneman, CEO, Cool Spring Downtown District.

    “When we set out to host the District Summer Market, we designed it to be an incubator for our vendors so they could move up the entrepreneurial food chain," Shoneman said. "It’s a pleasure to see Nancy grow in her business, especially in downtown Fayetteville.”

    When asked if she will continue to use the camper, Ramos said very enthusiastically, “Absolutely, it is the heart of the company.”

    Ramos views her company as a great success.

    “It isn’t all about the money,” explained Ramos. “It makes me happy to change people’s mindset about wanting specialty coffee.”

    Bringing her Latin heritage to the Cool Spring Downtown District is something Ramos finds very exciting.

    There will be 2 – 3 employees working hard to create scrumptious beverages for Vagabond's patrons.

    Vagabond Café’s grand opening will be Nov. 5. The shops hours of operation will be Monday — Saturday from 7:30 a.m. — 6 p.m.

  • 09Throughout the year Gallery 208 exhibits contemporary works of art which include a variety of themes, techniques to express ideas, styles ranging from representational to nonobjective abstraction and exhibits that can often be challenging. Yet rarely do we have an exhibit about beauty.

    Beauty, especially if it relates to the figure, can be a problematic subject: we each see beauty differently and images of beauty have been marketed in ways that result in stereotypes. Yet it is still important in the human psyche to experience beauty. For example, we welcome the beauty of sunshine after many days of overcast and rainy weather.

    Beautiful Strangeness: Photographs by Kyle Harding opens Nov. 9, at 5:30 p.m. at Gallery 208 and is an exhibit that explores the beautiful strangeness of being a child, any child, or our own experiences as a child. The challenge for Harding was to enable us to go beyond a family portrait and experience a universal time that should have been filled with wonder, mystery and simple pleasures in the smallest events, ordinary objects and everyday activities.

    Harding earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education, with a concentration in photography, from East Carolina University in 2008 and earned a Master in Art Education at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2017. A public art schoolteacher, adjunct faculty at Fayetteville State University, mother of two young children, married with a large family of in-laws, and a daughter and niece to her immediate family, Harding is a very busy individual.

    Intermittently she takes time to focus on what is happening during the daily and never-ending experiences of being around her two young daughters as an artist. As an artist, she tries to see past the familial and capture the universal.

    After being invited to participate in the 2021 Art Faculty Biennial in Rosenthal Gallery at FSU, Harding shared the following in her artist statement: “I chose a subject I am most passionate about at this time in my life: my 4-year-old and 7-year-old daughters." The selections in the exhibit are part of a larger body of work to capture universal themes with my children as the subject: innocence, reflection, play, hope, and vulnerability. In a larger context, I hope the photographs have the power to evoke memories for everyone of what it means to be a child and to remember the strange beauty of the world around us when we were children.”

    One of the many reasons for visitors to attend the opening of Beautiful Strangeness at Gallery 208 is to meet the artist and enjoy how a photograph, by an art photographer, can go beyond the subject. Harding’s main objective is making an artistic statement through a photograph – photography is used as a medium for creative expression, to express an idea, a message, or an emotion.

    A definition of fine art photography involves bringing a vision, emotion, or a state of mind to life through a photographed image.

    It involves creating something that previously only lived in your mind, as opposed to simply capturing what you see in an artistic way.

    In Beautiful Strangeness, Harding has selected images from activities we would take for granted and elevated the cropped images to convey states of mind through the photographed image.

    In the photograph titled "Three Amigos," the viewer is looking down on two sets of small bare feet standing on cement, the two front legs of a spotted short-haired dog are between the children.

    The legs of the children are captured below the knees and cascade into the photo from the top edge, almost as if thin columns on each side of the photo. Thin, yet muscular front legs of the dog are combined to create repeating pairs of legs and feet, all related in some unknown way while individually anchored to their placement on the

    In "Three Amigos", like the rest of the photographs in the exhibit, visitors will enjoy the ways in which Harding’s keen or heightened sense of seeing brings vision and states of mind to life through the photographed image.

    She has successfully shared with us a way to see the world that we may have forgotten is possible.

    In "Sadie with Sunglasses", Harding has photographed a close-up of a young Sadie wearing a seemingly large pair of sunglasses. The face is relaxed and almost expressionless, the child’s eyes are hidden. Details of the hair, sunglasses and gathered printed shirt contrast with an out-of-focused and minimal background. The smooth surface of the skin echoes the minimalism of the background tone but is brighter - the smooth fullness of youth presents itself as a natural and emerging, volumetric form.

    Harding has only included black and white photos in the exhibit for several traditional reasons. Color can distract us from what the photograph is about. When you remove color the emphasis of an image shifts to other compositional elements like contrast, texture, lighting, and form. Viewers are no longer seeing something familiar in color, but a different version of reality.

    One in which black and white photography is more interpretative.

    Harding combines the above advantages of a black and white photograph with its other potential of seeming timelessness. By cropping the figures and often showing us only parts, she used fragments to suggest a larger story.

    In each photograph, we see how a story symbolically overlaps or unfolds into another one. Each picture is a fleeting memory, a momentary experience. We can sense the lives of those in the photograph or remember our own lives as interconnected stories we may have taken for granted.

    Harding brings us back to those moments in time, photograph by photograph.

    I am confident visitors to Beautiful Strangeness: Photographs by Kyle Harding will leave the exhibit happier than when they arrived at Gallery 208. One cannot help but smile when we connect ourselves to innocence, joyfulness, and hope.

    The public is invited to attend the opening of Beautiful Strangeness: Photographs by Kyle Harding on Nov. 9 at Gallery 208 between 5:30 – 7 p.m.

    Gallery 208 is located at Up and Coming Weekly, 208 Rowan Street in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

    The exhibit will remain up until the end of December. Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. For information call 910-484-6200.

  • 08No means no. Rape is a serious crime and one-in-six women in the United States have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lifetime.

    “We have been talking about renaming our agency for 13 years and the legal name is Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director, Phoenix Center.

    “A couple of years ago we dropped the word volunteers because it just did not sound professional according to a General on Fort Bragg.” She added, “Rape and crisis really does identify victims so that anytime a victim had to say they were going to the Rape Crisis Center to a boss, family member or friend, it automatically outs them and not all victims are in a crisis.”

    The background story behind the name change involves Gerdes being at a human trafficking trial where she had a conversation with the mother of one of the victims.

    Most sex traffickers brand their victims with some kind of tattoo using a symbol, initial, name, etc. This trafficker had tattooed his name in Roman numerals on this victim’s back. So, when the victim went through the program, one of the things they immediately do is to remove the tattoo. The victim had a phoenix to put in the place of the old tattoo to cover it up. The mom of the victim explained that the phoenix is a mythical bird that rises from the ashes.

    “So when she was telling me the story I knew we needed to be renamed the Phoenix Center,” said Gerdes. “We had a board meeting two days later and they were for the name change so we have renamed the building, not the agency, the Phoenix Center.”

    The Phoenix Center also provides services to victims of other crimes, not just sexual violence. They offer services for domestic violence, human trafficking and help family members of homicide victims.

    “We have expanded our services and we just don’t say no to anyone who comes in our doors, needs help and we certainly know the resources in town and can help them get them,” Gerdes said.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, sexual assault statistics went down.

    “It could be that people are not out as much as they used to be and it is not back to the way it was before the pandemic,” explained Gerdes.

    Gerdes added that unfortunately the domestic violence statistics are higher and it has been a weird switch for them. The domestic violence cases were much more violent during COVID-19.

    “People were stuck inside of their homes together with children, their jobs were crazy and things just got much more violent,” Gerdes said.

    The annual Walk Awhile in Her Shoes fundraiser event is scheduled for March 25, 2022.

    Volunteers are needed. For more information call the 24-hour local hotline , 910-485-7273, visit https://www.rapecrisisonline.org/ or the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 800-656-4673.

  • 06The Fayetteville Police Department is having to deal with a 14% officer vacancy rate. A 10% rate has been common in recent years.

    “We have 59 vacant sworn full-time officer positions,” police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Glass said.

    The FPD’s authorized strength is 433 officers. A new pay scale for the police may help the recruiting process. The starting wage has been increased to $41,000 from $34,000.

    An education incentive of $3,000 is available to officers with bachelor’s degrees. Hiring incentives are also helping. Certified officers from other agencies who join the FPD receive $10,000 lateral entry bonuses.

    “Our recruiting unit is working diligently to recruit quality applicants for our upcoming December BLET [Basic Law Eenforcement Training] academy,” Glass added.

    The shortage of street cops hasn’t reduced service.

    “Our response times are within our goal, so we have not seen any significant reduction in our quality-of-service times.”

    Police Chief Gina Hawkins instituted 12-hour patrol shifts which keeps more officers on duty to offset the personal shortage.

  • 07Mayor Mitch Colvin announced last week that he will be ending the Fayetteville mask mandate. Colvin issued a Sixth Amendment to the State of Emergency for the City of Fayetteville that ends the indoor mask mandate within city limits starting on Nov. 1. The mask mandate has been in place in the city of Fayetteville since Aug. 18.

    Colvin cites in the ammendment that the mask mandate lift comes as vaccination rates in Cumberland County have risen to 57%

    "I am grateful today to announce the rescinding of the city's mask mandates," Colvin said. "This is the result of the reductions we have experienced in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. We are very thankful and appreciative to all of you for your cooperation, patience and most of all for getting vaccinated. Let's continue this positive trend and keep each other safe as we work through this challenging time."

    Colvin says in the amendment that the City of Fayetteville "withdraws any consent, explicit or implied, to be included” in the county’s indoor mask order.

    However, the Cumberland County mask mandate and the Cumberland County Schools mask mandate are still in place, which does override the Fayetteville orders.

    Cumberland County Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green sent out a statement shortly after Colvin signed the amendment, stating that the Public Health Abatement Order remains in place - requiring masks inside in all municipalities in Cumberland County, including Fayetteville.

    “While trends are improving, Cumberland County remains in high transmission,” Green said.

  • 01Publisher's Note: There many who are running for local offices in the upcoming year. Their voices need to be heard. Those individuals wishing to reach out and be heard by the community have an open invitation to be heard in the Up & Coming Weekly. Simply reach out and send us an email to let us know you have something to say.

    When I came to Fayetteville in 2008 as a wounded soldier assigned to the Wounded Warrior Project on Fort Bragg, I remember receiving several briefings that strongly advised us to refrain from visiting certain areas of the city and certain businesses due to their shady business practices.
    I can remember receiving briefings from my commander during in-processing that warned me about the level of crime around the city. However, I do not remember ever getting a briefing that warned me about the level of corruption that could be found in Fayetteville City Hall, but man did I quickly learn as I got more and more involved in the Fayetteville community, just how much corruption there was. Everything from politicians creating so-called non-political taxpayer-funded organizations, to politicians attempting to cut side-deals with wealthy developers, to city leaders in cahoots with destructive criminal elements dedicated to destroying the very city that they swore an oath to protect and defend.

    Fayetteville is no stranger to corruption and scandal within its ranks, as we have all either lived through or heard stories about "Fayette-Nam." But it seems this city has seen a more blatant element since Mitch Colvin took office as Mayor in 2017. All of us remember the dishonorable city councilman from District 2, Tyrone Williams, and everything that took place with him in 2018 when the "Prince Charles Gate" scandal rocked the city. Who knew that he would be the precursor of things to come during Colvin's term in office? Who knew that three years later, the mayor and top city officials, including City Manager Doug Hewett and Police Chief Gina Hawkins, would allow rioters, looters, Marxists and anarchists to destroy and pillage our beloved city unhindered, while ordering our sworn Fayetteville police officers to "stand down" while criminals ravaged our city.

    Since 2017, the city of Fayetteville has been under the leadership of Colvin and our police department under the supervision and leadership (if you can call it that) of Hawkins, who came to Fayetteville by way of Atlanta, Georgia, in the same year. Since then, our police department has suffered tremendously under her leadership, and the citizens of Fayetteville have paid the price. We have a police department that is low on morale and high on egos, and I say enough is enough!
    We have a mayor who feels that he is not answerable to the citizens of Fayetteville and who only seems to be concerned about his next business investment and how he can use his position to further enhance his economic fortune.

    The city of Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Police Department have come a very long way from the '80s, and I refuse to allow our city to become another corrupt municipality like the town of Spring Lake. Fayetteville has witnessed a tremendous increase in violent crime over the past two years, and just this year alone, our city has been rocked by more than 40 homicides, and we are currently on track to double last year’s homicide rate, and unfortunately, we have even recently made the nation's top 100 list of the most dangerous cities, and there seems to be no end in sight.

    As the holidays rapidly approach, we have more than 6000 families facing eviction in our community, due to a flawed, fractured and failing Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Fayetteville has recently been branded "America's Can-Do City" but, I have coined her "America's Can-Do Better City." The people of Fayetteville deserve and demand better from their leadership, which I intend to give them. Better. How do we "do better?" We start by removing the toxic leadership in the city. We un-handcuff our law enforcement professionals and allow them to do the jobs they swore an oath to do, and we empower and equip them to enforce the laws they swore to enforce. We identify the toxic rank-and-file within our law enforcement community and remove them immediately. We remove the unproductive and self-serving people within our city government and replace them with genuinely dedicated people who will dedicate themselves to the betterment of Fayetteville.

    Fayetteville is a city that houses talent and potential, she is a city that inspires innovation and she is a city that embraces diversity. As the next Mayor of Fayetteville, I intend to build on the foundation and "Lead Fayetteville Forward," but that requires us to move forward together and lead with honesty, transparency, integrity, vision and foresight. I am J Antoine Miner. I am running for Mayor of Fayetteville. I am that leader.


    23Lena Vann scholar athlete WestoverLena Vann


    • Senior

    • Volleyball

    Vann has a 4.6 grade point average.

    She served as captain of the Westover volleyball team this past season.


    24Andrew Jayne scholar athlete Terry SanfordAndrew Jayne

    Terry Sanford

    • Senior

    • Football

    Jayne has a 4.6 grade point average.

    He participates in Global Studies, baseball, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Twelfth Ma



    19Anissa Little girls bball coach GC20Jaelyn Altman girls bball GCreekGIRLS

    Coach: Anissa Little

    Top returners: Jaelyn Altman, 5-9, Sr., G; Cree Townsend, 5-6, Sr., G; Jayla Brooks, 5-5, Sr., G; Madeleine Smith, 5-4, So., G.

    Top newcomers: Ni’Jaa Wells, 5-10, So., C; Tishera Owens, 5-8, So., F.

    Coach’s comment: “This year’s team strengths will be our speed, guard play and the experience of our top returning players. Our weakness will be the lack of experience in the post. I believe that with the leadership and ability of our returners, we can have a successful season.’’


    21Jon Grimes boys basketball coach Grays Creek22Antonio Dupree bo bball GCBOYS

    Coach: Jon Grimes

    Top returners: Antonio Dupree, 6-2, Jr., F; Christian Crockett, 5-9, Jr., G;  Trevor Thomas, 5-10, Jr., G.

    Top newcomers: Justice Hayes, 6-0, Jr., F; Daunte Gardner, 6-1, Jr., F; Jason Porter, 6-1. Jr., F; MyQuon Woodley, 6-2, Sr., C; Daniel Winningham, 6-1, Jr., F.

    Coach’s comment: “Our success this season will largely depend on our ability to defend and rebound. We do not have a lot of size up front, but we have a strong backcourt with two solid guards with a lot of varsity experience. I think bench play will also be a strength for us as we will look to extend our defense more and play more uptempo.’’



    15Jay Johnson girls bball coach Cape Fear 16Sydney Faircloth girls bball CapeFearGIRLS

    Coach: Jay Johnson

    Top returners: Skylar Faircloth, 5-9, Sr., F; Sydney Faircloth, 5-9, Sr., F;  Preslyn Johnson, 5-6, Sr., G; Aniyaa Carter, 5-6, Jr., G; Chloe Annette, 5-6, Jr., G.

    Top newcomers: Breyah Owens, 5-6, Jr., G. Coach’s comment: “Good group. Good people. Very coachable. We need to learn how to elevate, believe and compete.’’



    17Alphonza Kee boys bball coach CFear18Myron Williams boys bball CFearBOYS

    Coach: Alphonza Kee

    Top returners: Myron Williams, 6-5, Sr., F; Kevin McLaughlin, 5-10, Sr., G; Shaquille Angel, 6-4, Sr., F.

    Top newcomers: Marquail James, 6-1, So., G; Chase Dawkins, 6-3, So., F.

    Coach’s comment: “This year’s team will have to replace three starters and a very talented, athletic group of seniors. The Colts, with a new head coach, will be rebuilding every day and working to learn a new system rapidly. Strengths: team speed and perimeter shooting. Weaknesses: experience, size and depth in the front court, and program continuity.’’


    PHOTOS: (Top: L-R - Girls’ basketball coach Jay Johnson & Top returner Sydney Faircloth / Bottom: L-R - Boys’ basketball coach Alphonza Kee & Top returner Myron Williams)


  • 11David May girls bball coach PineForest 12Claresha Pruitt girls bball Pine ForestGIRLS

    Coach: David May

    Top returners: Claresha Pruitt, 5-4, Jr., G; Gredesha Pruitt, 5-4, Jr., G;  Navaeh Brown, 5-9, Jr., C.

    Top newcomers: Monet Oliver, 5-4, Jr., G; Darian Everett, 5-8, Jr., C;  Kahala Bandman, 5-6, Fr., G.

    Coach’s comment: “I feel like we will have an exciting team this year. We return the main nucleus of last year’s team and have some very good newcomers this season. The girls have been working extremely hard and have been a fun group to work with so far.’’



    13James Peaden boys bball coach Pine Forest14Julian Hill boys basketball Pine ForesBOYS

    Coach: James Peaden Top returners: Jordan Gladney, 6-0, Jr., G; Marquis Eskew, 6-0, So., G.

    Top newcomers: Erwin Montgomery, 6-3, Jr., G; Julian Williams, 6-4, So., G/F; Kennan O’Garra, 6-3, Sr., F; Julian Hill, 6-5, Sr., F; Adrian Elliott, 6-0, G.

    Coach’s comment: “I’m excited about the season. We are a little deeper team this year with some young talent, but with youth also comes inexperience. I feel like we will be a solid team.’’



    PHOTOS: (Top, L-R: Girls’ basketball coach David May & Top returner Claresha Pruitt / Bottom, L-R: Boys’ basketball coach James Peaden & Top newcomer Julian Hill)


    18Lauren McDonough Terry SanfordLauren McDonough

    Terry Sanford

    • Sophomore

    • Tennis

    McDonough has a grade point average of 4.0.

    She won her singles and doubles matches against Chapel Hill in the first round of the NCHSAA 3-A dual team tennis playoffs.

    She is active in Tri Chi, Friends Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Global Studies Academy.

    She is also a member of the Highland Presbyterian Church youth group.






    19Bailey Haggins Grays CreekBailey Haggins

    Gray’s Creek

    • Senior

    • Soccer/cheerleading

    Haggins has a 3.67 grade point average.

    She is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Student Government Association, Future Farmers of America, National Honor Society and travel soccer.

    She was Miss Gray’s Creek High School in 2016 and is the current senior class president.



    15Lauren Moore Jack Britt girls playerGIRLS

    Coach: Nattlie McArthur

    Top returning players: Lauren Moore, 5-8, Sr, G/F; Brianna Lord, 5-4, Sr., G; Kenzie Wilburn, 6-0, Jr., C; Mikayal Jones, 5-8, So., G.

    Top newcomers: Skylar Arakaki, 5-4, Jr., G; Kayla Bridges, 6-1, Jr., C.; Ashara Hayes, 5-9, Fr., F.

    Coach’s comment: “I am very excited about this season. We have a core of young ladies that know our system and will be able to assist the new players. We are looking forward to competing at a high level each and every night.’’




    16Israel Hill Jack Britt boys basketball playerBOYS

    Coach: Isaiah Walker Jr.

    Top returning players: Barry Elliott, 6-0, Sr., G; Brandon Hayden, 6-3, Jr, G; Calvin Washington, 6-5, Jr., F; Israel Hill, 6-3, Jr., F; Kenan Keys, 6-2, Jr., F.

    Top newcomers: Jordion Fox, 6-4, So., F; Greg Maddux Velez, 6-4, So., F; Langston Davis, 6-2, So., F..

    Coach’s comment: “We return five guys that played major minutes last year on a team that finished 11-15. We lost six of those games by a total of 19 points. Although we are still extremely young – Barry Elliott will be the only senior in the starting lineup – we feel experience will help us as we prepare for a tough schedule."


    PHOTOS: (T-B) Lauren Moore, Israel Hill



    13Daija Robinson Douglas Byrd girls basketball playerGIRLS

    Coach: Jernard Grant

    Top returning players: Damond Tatum,6-0, Sr., G; Arianna Maddox, 5-10, Sr., F.

    Top newcomers: Dai’ja Robinson, 5-9, Fr., G; Democrat Williams, 6-0, So., F; Jameisha Mahoney, 5-5, So., G; Renee Jacques, 5-7, So., G; Samiya Newell, 5-7, Jr., G.

    Coach’s comment: “Our strength and weakness will be our accountability and success as a whole, doing the little things together as a team.’’




    14Trey Johnson Douglas Byrd boys playerBOYS

    Coach: Reshrond Tucker

    Top returning players: Trey Johnson, 6-0, Sr., F/G; Christian Jones, 5-11, Sr., G; Kelvin Armstrong, 6-0, Jr., G; Domion Evans, 6-2, Jr., F; Capre Crawford, 6-3, Jr., F.

    Top newcomers: Elijah Smith, 5-7, Fr., G; Sean Jones, 5-10, Fr., G; Sydney Johnson, 6-2, So., F; Brandon Washington, 6-0, So., G.

    Coach’s comment: “Unfortunately, as a team, we don’t have a whole lot of size. But I believe that we will be able to counter that with our team speed and guard play. We have a lot of players at that guard position that we can plug in and sustain the same quality of play.”


    PHOTOS: (T-B) Dai’ja Robinson, Trey Johnson



  • EarlVaughansmallLast May, just after the N.C. High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted to use MaxPreps rankings when putting together this year’s state high school playoff brackets, I spoke with Patty Evers. Evers represents our region on the board, serving as girls’ basketball coach and athletic director at East Bladen High School.

    She didn’t support using MaxPreps and had strong reasons as to why.

    “I’m not for a ranking system in high school,’’ she said. “How do you give somebody a ranking?’’

    She cited last year’s girls’ basketball season as an example. Jacksonville Northside was consistently ranked ahead of her East Bladen team by MaxPreps. “We met them in the regional and beat them by 17,’’ Evers said. “How do you know who’s good and who’s not? Who’s going to do all that research?’’

    Another problem Evers has with rankings, and one that impacts Cumberland County: how do you rank teams in a split conference, which has schools of different classifications?

    In a split league, Evers noted, you have to play schools not the same size, and if you’re among the bigger schools in the league, that’s a liability. It’s also a liability if you’re in a big conference like the Patriotic Athletic and many of the teams on your schedule that you’re forced to play are considerably weaker.

    “Look at your geographic area,’’ Evers said. “We’re not going to travel three hours to beef up our schedule because we can’t afford the gas.’’

    So how should the NCHSAA address the problem? First, I’d do away with MaxPreps rankings. I don’t think strength of schedule is fair in a high school setting when schools are locked into playing teams they have no choice over playing.

    I have no problem with ranking teams by overall records, but let’s take the whole record, no dropping games for any reason.

    When you seed, seed conference champions first, then everybody else by records.

    I also think you’ve got to stop showing too much preference to split conference teams that don’t win the conference title. Set a minimum win total to qualify for the playoffs, like the NCAA does for bowls. If you don’t make it, then use a bye or give it to a deserving wild card that didn’t qualify otherwise.

    I hope this issue is addressed quickly and fixed before we disappoint many more teams.

    The record: 79-22

    I made a strong rebound from the disaster of 4-4, going 6-1. The season record is 79-22, 78.2 percent.

    Rocky Mount at Terry Sanford – As D.K. Sports Page co-host Trey Edge noted earlier this week, good things have happened to Terry Sanford when the Bulldogs met Rocky Mount in the state playoffs. Let’s see if that will take place again.
    Terry Sanford 28, Rocky Mount 14.

    West Carteret at E.E. Smith – The big problem for the Golden Bulls this week is shaking off the disappointment from a tough loss to Terry Sanford and focusing on the playoff challenge ahead. If Smith plays like it’s capable, they should be headed to the second round.
    E.E. Smith 24, West Carteret 12.

    South View at Jamestown Ragsdale – Ragsdale has a rich tradition, going back to the '70s when they battled East Bladen to a 16-16 tie in the state title game in Elizabethtown. I’d like to pick South View, but I think this will be a tall order for the Tigers.
    Ragsdale 21, South View 14.

    Cape Fear at Hillsborough Orange – I’m hoping that Orange takes the 11th-seeded Colts lightly. I’m also hoping that some of Cape Fear’s numerous walking wounded, like quarterback Justice Galloway-Velazquez and running back Zaire Boykin, are going to be able to suit up and play Friday.
    Cape Fear 22, Hillsborough Orange 20.

    Raleigh Millbrook at Jack Britt – Millbrook was the top Raleigh football power back in the day before all the newcomers stole the show. The Wildcats aren’t the same program they were back then, and I think the Buccaneers can pull off a win at home.
    Jack Britt 24, Raleigh Millbrook 21.

    Westover at Southern Nash – This will be a good experience for the Wolverines, even though I don’t think the outcome is going to be especially positive.
    Southern Nash 30, Westover 12.

    Seventy-First at Durham Jordan – Once again, the Falcons get the short end of the stick and have to travel to play a team with a record worse than theirs. The reward, however, should be a first-round playoff win for Duran McLaurin’s team.
    Seventy-First 21, Durham Jordan 7.

    Other games

    Charlotte Latin 24, Trinity Christian 20.

    Village Christian 29, Harrells Christian 14.

  • coverFor many families, the Christmas season is not complete without attending a performance of the North Carolina State Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Without fail, for 40 years, Charlotte Blume produced the show — and to exacting standards, making each performance a joy for the audience and a point of well-deserved pride for the performers. Blume died this past spring, but her legacy lives on. The curtain rises at 3 p.m. on Dec. 10 and 11 at the Crown for this year’s production of The Nutcracker.

    Dina Lewis, vice president of the North Carolina State Ballet, has watched countless dancers (including her own daughters) rise through the ranks at the Charlotte Blume School of Dance. She watched Blume train the dancers and work them to near exhaustion. She has seen the students push through mental and physical barriers under Blume’s tutelage to achieve more than they ever thought they could onstage and in life. While Blume accepted nothing but perfection, her love for her students and her passion for ballet inspired many. When Blume fell ill, there was never any question about the future of The Nutcracker in Fayetteville.

    “Even though our matriarch of our company has passed, it was her last wish that the show must go on,” said Lewis.  “Those were her own words, and we are continuing as she wished. This production is a tribute to Miss Blume and all she gave to this community and to the ballet world. Before she passed, she left a long list of expectations and how she wanted things to go. Now, we are all trying to fulfill her wishes. She was a remarkable woman and her students are determined to honor her memory with a performance that would make her proud.”

    While audiences come to enjoy a couple of hours of ballet, the dancers have trained for months. “The tryouts were in August and we started training in September,” said Lewis. “It is the same level of performance as previous years.”  The girls are excited, but being the first performance since Miss Blume passed, it will be a struggle in some ways, too. We will have a private tribute onstage, though. There is always a portrait above the fireplace on stage. We are hanging a portrait of Miss Blume over the mantel. It is one way to remind the girls that even though she is not here, she is still here with them and watching them.” 

    For many of her students, Blume was an inspiration. She was the adult who invested in them and held them to a higher standard than anyone else. She was the person they wanted to impress. “Charlotte was awesome. You can tell the girls miss her,” said Lewis. “I think the first performance will be tough. She was rigid and only accepted the best. She was a tough instructor. That is how they learned. And she always performed with them. That will be the other part of the link. We will have hidden things in each set for the girls, so they will know she is there. It is very bittersweet, but we are excited to do it … for her.”

    There are two casts for the show. Ella Lewis and Marissa Morris play grown Clara. Sophia Lewis and Kendal Draughon are cast as young Clara. Tiffany Alexander performs as the Sugar Plum for the student show with Alyssa Pilger from the Carolina Ballet performing the part for other showings. Daniel Rivera dances as the Cavalier along with ballet professional Oliver Beres. Sarah Middleton and Emmalee Smith share the role of Snow Queen and Andrea Flores-Morales and Hannah Reeder play the Snow Princess.

    The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was written in 1816 by E.T.A. Hoffman. In 1892 Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned it into a ballet.

    The story opens at the Stahlbaum house on Christmas Eve. Marie’s godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer, brings her a beautiful nutcracker. Clara falls asleep thinking about her precious nutcracker. The toys around the Christmas tree come to life and Clara has an amazing adventure filled with toy soldiers who battle an army of mice, a journey to the Land of Snow with dancing snowflakes and an enchanted forest, a visit to the land of sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy resides. 

    For four decades, Blume partnered with the N.C. State Ballet to bring this holiday tradition to Fayetteville. Her standards were high, and her love of ballet and commitment to her students were unwavering. Now, in a tribute to their beloved teacher and mentor, the Charlotte Blume School of Dance and N.C. State Ballet bring this production to the community that has supported them for so long. “She was larger than life,” said Lewis. “I don’t think we realized her impact on her kids … on us until she left us. I still expect to turn the corner and see her.”

    Performances are Saturday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11. The curtain rises at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $7-$20 and are available at http://www.crowncomplexnc.com/events/detail/nc-state-ballet-the-nutcracker

  • staff3The Woman’s Club of Fayetteville N.C., Inc., was founded in 1906. In 1947, the group changed its name to Woman’s Club of Fayetteville, N.C. Just recently, the organization rebranded itself as the Heritage Square Historical Society. From the very beginning, the mission of the group has been “to promote civic, cultural, educational and social welfare of the city; to preserve Heritage Square and to promote the historical preservation of the community.” On Sunday, Dec. 4, the club is set to host its signature fundraiser: A Christmas Tour of Homes. The proceeds raised from this event go to support the preservation and restoration of the three properties at Heritage Square. The Oval Ballroom, the Sandford House and the Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House make up the Heritage Square property, which is located at 225 Dick Street.

    The tour features five properties decorated for the holidays, plus a bonus stop. Gwen Bell and Vickie Richardson co-chair this event. “For the Woman’s Club, in the past, this was the only fundraiser,” said Bell. “It is still our main fundraiser. We also have a silent auction, which was moved to the spring this year because of Hurricane Matthew. The tour has five gorgeous Fayetteville homes this year. Two are historical properties. We have two mid-century homes, one from the 50s and one from probably the 70s. And a brand-new home, too, Ralph and Linda Huff’s house. It is a gorgeous new home.”

    And that extra stop on the tour? It is the Sandford House, which is part of the Heritage Square property. This gives the tour participants an opportunity to see the structures that benefit from the event and to learn about the property’s place in local history. “Refreshments will be served there and the home will be shown in period-appropriate decorations,” said Bell. “Some of the Fayetteville Garden Clubs each took a room and decorated it. We also decorated the Oval Ballroom. It was built by a prominent businessman for his daughter’s wedding. It has been moved and restored and it is gorgeous. People that enjoy history or interesting things about Fayetteville will love this. It is a great way to get into the mood for Christmas and see how others decorate.”

    For some, the tour of homes is as much a part of Christmas as presents under the tree or Christmas dinner. If you’ve never been, Bell says this a great time to start. “I always tell people, grab a girlfriend, go to lunch and hit the trail,” said Bell. “You can buy tickets the day of the event at any of the homes. The Sandford house is a great place to start or finish the tour because there will be refreshments and a lot to see on the property.”

    The tour of homes lasts from 1-6 p.m., but Bell noted that it doesn’t necessarily take the entire time to see all the properties. Tickets are available at Bell’s Seed Store, Burney’s Sweets & More, Betty Kelly’s Gift Shop, High Cotton Consignment, Talbot’s, The Pilgrim and Heritage Square. Each ticket contains a map and the addresses of the homes on the tour. A $15 donation is suggested for the tickets. For more information, call 483-6009, or visit wwwheritagesquarefay.org.

  • staff1staff2Gospel music lovers in the area likely know Larry Chason. He’s been singing old Southern gospel in the Carolinas since 1996. On Dec. 3 Chason is set to host a Southern Gospel Christmas Sing at Eureka Baptist Church. Chason will perform, as will Triumphant Quartet. Come ready to embrace the true meaning of Christmas and leave blessed.

    “It will be all Christmas music,” said Chason. “We want to get people in the Christmas spirit. We really need to know real meaning of Christmas and that is just what this music does — it shares the meaning of Christmas.”

    Chason started singing in church when he was just five years old. He’s been singing quartet music since he was 16. He performed with the Lighthouse Boys for several years and has recorded five projects with Milton Smith and Wesley Pritchard of Millwest Studios in Fayetteville. Chason has sung and promoted with many well-known Southern gospel performers including Anchormen, Dove Brothers, Dixie Melody Boys, Steele Family, Quinton Mills, and local groups Jay Stone Singers, the Tylers, Pierce Family, Rapture-Road Quartet and Lucy Hemingway. 

    Chason’s website, lighthousemusicministry.com, explains his love of music and his “passion for lost souls and desire to minister through song and testimony.”

    Triumphant Quartet has 19 albums, including a 2009 Grammy Award nominee — Everyday. Their first album was released in 2003. The group started in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where the four friends performed at the Louise Mandrell Theater daily from 2003 to 2008. That’s when they started touring. 

    A consistent fan favorite in the gospel music industry, Triumphant not only delivers great music, the group is lively and engaging on stage.

    “This is a national quartet that travels cross the U.S.” said Chason. “A couple of the members have been involved with singing groups in Dollywood and other well-known groups. Something people may not know is that one of the members is from North Carolina. David Sutton — he is from Raleigh.”

    Admission to the Southern Gospel Christmas Sing is free, although there will be a love offering to assist the singers with their ministries. “These guys are professionals,” said Chason. “This is how they make their living.”

    The event starts at 6 p.m. and is at Eureka Baptist Church, which is located at 1591 Eureka Drive. For more information, call 818-9769. Find out more at about Chason at lighthousemusicministry.com. Find out more about Triumphant Quartet at http://www.triumphantquartet.com.

  • givensTim Altman is the Chair of the music department at UNC Pembroke. He not only teaches classes and participates in community events, he also oversees the production and planning of the Givens Performing Arts Center Holiday Extravaganza. On Dec. 2, the concert combines the talents of the university’s faculty, staff and students to bring a lively combination of well-loved holiday songs to the audience.

    “The audience will hear their favorite holiday tunes from numerous large and small ensembles: the saxophone ensemble, the university chorale, the jazz combo, a vocal jazz ensemble, a percussion ensemble, a trumpet ensemble, a flute Ensemble, a clarinet ensemble, steel drums and more,” said Altman. “The faculty in the UNC Pembroke Music Department are seasoned professionals.  Many have performed all over the world. The students in the UNCP music department are constantly improving.  Our students compete in state, regional and national competitions.  So, the quality of performances usually exceeds expectations.”

    From start to finish, the Holiday Extravaganza features more than 200 performers. From small groups to large ensembles that include the Concert Band and University Chorale, there is no shortage of variety in the performance. “I like showing so many different facets of our department in one production.  This is one of our only opportunities to show off such a variety of ensembles in one performance,” said Altman. “The UNCP Music Department gave more than 150 performances last year.”

    For Altman, while every part of the show is a lot of fun, it is the end of the show that he really enjoys. “My favorite part of the show is the sing-along at the end. Everyone in the audience joins in to sing holiday favorites (with the 65 people in the concert band accompanying). So, we have a choir of around 1,000 with the audience.”  

    The performance starts at 8 p.m. However, there is a TubaChristmas performance in front of GPAC at 7:30 p.m. 

    TubaChristmas is a concert held in various cities around the world. It celebrates those who play, teach and compose music for instruments in the tuba family. This includes the tuba, sousaphone, baritone and euphonium. There are also rarer instruments of the tube family such as the helicon, ophicleide, serpent and double bell euphonium.

    Harvey G. Phillips had the first TubaChristmas in 1974 to honor his tuba teacher William Bell, who was born on Christmas Day 1902. The first TubaChristmas was held Dec. 22, 1974, in the ice skating rink at New York City’s Rockefeller Center;  More than 300 musicians participated that day. Little did they know it was the beginning a holiday tradition. 

    Proceeds from the Holiday Extravaganza concert will go to support music scholarships.  General Admission costs $12. It costs $2 per child or Non-UNCP Student and $2 for UNCP Students. For tickets and information, visit  http://www.uncp.edu/giving/advancement/givens-performing-arts-center/broadway-and-more-series.

  • jeff9Celebrating the holiday season with friends and family is one of the best things about this time of the year. The days are full of friendship, beautiful decorations and happiness. There are opportunities all over Fayetteville and the surrounding area to share this joy and excitement with the community and loved ones.

    On Dec. 10, the Rotary club hosts its annual Christmas parade. From 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., floats of all kinds will drive through downtown Fayetteville. The route goes from Person Street to the Market House to Hay Street to the train station. The Rotary Club began hosting these Christmas Parades in 1999. It stepped things up when it looked like the tradition was going to end. The very first parade had 50 entries, but with the support of community members and local businesses it has grown to more than 100 floats. This parade is not a fundraiser; instead, it is a community service project with the goal of spreading joy for the holiday season. For more information, visit http://www.rotarychristmasparade.com/history.php. 

    Another fun Christmas event is the Fort Bragg Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. On Dec. 1, from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m., the Main Post Parade field will be full of holiday spirit. The giant Christmas tree is lit and the parade field filled with fun Christmas activities. This is a family-friendly event that includes a Kidz Corner and the opportunity to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Light refreshments will be available as well as holiday entertainment. For more information, visit www.bragg.armymwr.com.

    On Dec. 2, Santa Claus will make an appearance at the family-friendly Christmas in the Mill Village event. From 6:30 until 9 p.m. on Trade Street in Hope Mills the shops will be open late and full of Christmas spirit. This is a perfect time to get some holiday shopping done or to enjoy some free entertainment with friends and family. There is an entire line up for entertainment and street vendors will be available as well. Don’t forget to participate in the special contest.

    On Dec. 16, there will also be some Christmas fun at Milton E. Mazarick Park. From 5 until 6:30 p.m. the public is invited to participate in Nature Christmas Ornaments. This event is intended for all ages and it allows everyone to unlock their Christmas creativity. Event admission is $3, but participants make a unique Christmas ornament using objects found in nature. Reservations are required and the designated meeting place is the Mazarick building. Snacks are provided. For more information visit www.fcpr.us. 

    On Dec. 3, the Town of Hope Mills will host its Christmas parade. It begins at 3 p.m. The route is from Hope Mills Middle School to South Main Street  to Main Street and then ends at Rockfish Elementary School. This parade represents small-town Christmas celebrations at their finest. They are full of community spirit and joy. The parade is open to the public and this is a family friendly event.  For more information visit http://www.townofhopemills.com/350/Christmas-in-Hope-Mills.

  • jeff8Mac Healy is a successful Fayetteville businessman who has a passion for whatever civic venture he’s involved in. For the last five years or so, he has headed up efforts to bring The North Carolina Civil War History Center to fruition. It would be located on the site of the Fayetteville Arsenal and would be the first history center of its kind in the nation. It would examine the impact of the War Between the States, its lead-up and its aftermath, on all the people of North Carolina.

    As envisioned, the Center will deal honestly and factually with much of the 19th Century and will examine the events and impacts of this tragic time in history on all who lived through it. The project will require $65 million in private, local government and state funding. “We have already secured $6.5 million in private donations from the people of Fayetteville and Cumberland County,” Healy said. “We need to secure $7.5 million each from the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County.” With commitments from local governments and the private money already raised, Healy believes the state legislature will seriously consider a $30 million match. But time is running out. The deadline for pledges from the city and county is Jan. 31, a time when the general assembly will be going into session. So far, neither city council nor county commissioners have made a commitment.

    The History Center is estimated to draw upwards of 130,000 visitors to Cumberland County each year. Healy says studies show that cultural tourists stay twice as long and spend twice as much as other tourists. The History Center will produce more than 150 service industry jobs for the community. The center is projected to generate $12 million a year in economic impact for the region. Good economic development, such as the History Center, will grow the tax base rather than being a constant financial drain on the community. Healy tells Up & Coming Weeklyhe was motivated to get involved in the project out of a concern for economic development in a community that has seen a depressed economy in recent years. “Something like this is needed so badly,” he said. 

    Cumberland County has seen an unprecedented downturn in population and loss of property values. “Although other communities in our state have seen significant growth since the recession, Cumberland County’s economy has seen a pattern of weak growth,” said County Manager Amy Cannon in her budget message to county commissioners. “A reduction in the rate of growth since 2008 has resulted in a five-year revenue loss of more than $3.5 million,” she added. 

    Once built, the center will become a state-owned branch of the North Carolina Division of History. Neither city or county taxpayers will pay to operate it. Experts believe other venues will also benefit from visitors attracted to the Civil War History Center, particularly the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, the North Carolina Veterans Park and the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. “As a businessman, I remain convinced that once the county and city elected leaders look at the overall benefits, they will agree that this shows the best return for our hard-earned tax dollars and is more than worthy of their support,” Healy concluded.

  • jeff1Curbside storm debris is being collected in unincorporated areas of Cumberland County. It took until last week for county commissioners to adopt a contract with a private hauler to pick up debris from the Oct. 8 storm in areas outside the city and towns. The Solid Waste Management Department advises residents to place storm debris curbside without blocking the roadway. Residents should separate materials into three categories: vegetative (leaves, logs, branches), construction and demolition (building materials, carpet, furniture) and appliances and other white goods. Household hazardous waste should be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center at 923 Wilkes Road on the second and fourth Saturday of each month from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  












    Safer Driving in Woods Fires

    The North Carolina Highway Patrol cautions motorists that wildfires in the western part of the state continue to interfere with normal traffic. Although some roadways may not be directly in the fire’s path, the smoke that is produced can cause hazardous driving conditions. “We will continue to provide assistance to those directly battling the fires until the mission is accomplished,” said Colonel Bill Grey, commander of the State Patrol. Troopers suggest that motorists plan ahead to ensure enough time has been allotted to reach an intended destination safely. Increase following distances and closely monitor speed limits. Use low beam headlights and fog lights. Motorists can obtain updated traffic information by visiting www.NCDOT.gov or by calling 511 from a mobile device.









    jeff3Snyder Singing Christmas Tree a Longstanding Tradition

    Since 1980, Snyder Memorial Baptist Church has put on a Singing Christmas Tree for the community. The tree includes 250 singers, a handbell choir and a 40-piece orchestra. Performances are Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 3 at 4 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday Dec. 4 at 4 and 7:40 p.m. Doors open one hour before each performance. For tickets and information, call 484-3191.













    jeff4Police Foundation Fund Raiser

    The Fayetteville Police Foundation is sponsoring its first Back the Blue Night fundraiser. Back the Blue Night is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 8 from 5 to 9 p.m. wherein area restaurants will demonstrate their commitment to helping the Fayetteville Police Department by raising money for the Chief’s Public Safety Campaign. A news release from the foundation says the project also promotes continuing efforts to unite the community with the police. Participating restaurants will donate 10 percent of their sales to the Fayetteville Police Foundation.












    jeff5Fayetteville’s Mac’s Speed Shop Places at When Pigs Fly Barbecue Festival and All-American Barbecue special fundraiser that was staged earlier this month in support of Cumberland County’s Communities in Schools, a project that empowers students to stay in school and achieve their goals in life.

    “We are fortunate to have such a strong voice advocating for the students in Cumberland County,” said Dr. Frank Till, Superintendent of Cumberland County Schools. There were five categories of pig pickin’ competition at Festival Park Nov. 12. Twenty-five competitors won prizes. Mac’s Speed Shop, which has a restaurant located at 482 N. McPherson Church Road,  won third in the Whole Hog Division. The win was especially good news for Fayetteville residents because Mac’s serves its award-winning barbecue with new twists on Southern sides throughout the year at their restaurant here in town.

    “The festival was a great way to spend time with great people. That’s exactly what we strive to do around the tables at Mac’s Speed Shop too.

    Like most good cooks, we make our own sauce and use fresh ingredients,” Mac’s Grillmaster Kevin Kuruc said, “and that’s made all the difference in our restaurants’ success in the Carolinas.”

        In addition to its location in Fayetteville, Mac’s has three Charlotte restaurants, in South End, Steele Creek and Lake Norman, plus locations in Greenville, S.C. and Greensboro, N.C.




    jeff6Public Art

    Christmas has come early in Downtown Fayetteville with the installation of 10 temporary pieces of public art. Placing the outdoor sculptures began earlier this month and will conclude by early December. The art will remain until October 2017. The artists and artwork are varied. Phil Hathcock’s piece “Windstone,” made with aluminum, copper and brass, will echo the sounds of clacking bamboo when a good breeze blows near the Fayetteville Area Transportation & Local History Museum. Additional locations of the temporary pieces include Cross Creek Park, City Hall and the Arts Council headquarters. Support for the temporary public art project is provided by private donors with matching funding from the Arts Council. 










    jeff7Red Cross volunteers 

    The American Red Cross serves the community in many ways every day. The Red Cross needs volunteers at Fort Bragg to work with military members and veterans. On post at Fort Bragg, the Red Cross is recruiting volunteers to work at Womack Army Medical Center to assist with greeting patients, managing phone calls and emails, driving a shuttle for patients and serving in clinical positions. Red Cross volunteer opportunities allow the military to make a positive difference and help soldiers and their families in need. They make up to 90 percent of the Red Cross work force and provide more than 2,000 volunteer hours per month at Fort Bragg. To become a volunteer, apply online at www.redcross.org or Linda.Daney2@Redcross.org.













  • dogwoodThis column shares my thinking regarding a recent issue related to the Dogwood Festival. The festival is a major Fayetteville, weekend event held in the spring of each year. It brings together vendors who sell a multitude of items ranging from food to birdhouses. Beyond vendors are some 25 musical offerings, carnival-type rides and games and information helpful to the public.  

    The situation in question is summarized in an article by Andrew Barksdale titled, “Fayetteville City Council wants more diversity in music at Dogwood Festival:

    “Some members of the Fayetteville City Council say the Dogwood Festival’s headlining acts and other bands aren’t racially or ethnically diverse enough. Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin brought up the issue at Monday night’s work session, noting the city donates more than $100,000 in-kind services, such as police and park crews, for the popular event held each April at Festival Park downtown. The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival is a private, nonprofit group that organizes the event, which drew an estimated 225,000 people over the three-day weekend this year.”

    The article goes on to report that there was a meeting of Council in which Carrie King, executive director of the Dogwood Festival organization, addressed the music diversity concern. She was accompanied by several Dogwood Festival board members. Every indication from Barksdale’s article is that the meeting did not chart a productive way forward. My sense is that, in a city already racially divided and racially tense, as is our nation, this is another issue that has the potential for unnecessarily feeding the beast of division and tension. However, it also offers an opportunity for Council to exercise leadership. Doing so starts with that group fully examining the situation and having the wherewithal to act fairly. I say “fairly” because we live in a society where any mention of race, and certainly racism, very often clouds judgment and produces decisions that disregard fairness toward some parties.

    This suggested examination starts with determining the authority of Council in matters such as this one. Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin’s position is that this authority derives from the city providing some $100,000 of in-kind services to the festival. If this argument is legitimate, is that approach taken with other non-profits and entities that receive similar support? If not, why not? If this financial support, even in-kind, thinking is carried forward, Council must apply to every supported effort the same scrutiny being brought to bear on the Dogwood organization. If Council is not prepared to take this step, then there is the appearance of disparate treatment of certain entities. In this case, the Dogwood Festival organization.

    Consideration should also be given to the goals of this and other efforts. The statements below, from the Dogwood Festival website, speak to aims of the organization:

    “The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival was founded in 1982 by Bill Hurley, John Malzone and other city leaders who had a vision to improve the image of Fayetteville and create a uniting force for various events in our community... Festivals and special events help define our great city, attract new business, and stimulate local economic growth.”

    Beyond putting on a superb weekend of entertainment in pursuit of the aims above, the organization has, across the years, donated thousands of dollars to various non-profits that also do work, which is of value to all of Fayetteville. This means there is a fundraising component to the Dogwood Festival. Consequently, Council insisting on greater diversity in music offerings could adversely impact the fundraising effort. Given that nobody is prohibited due to skin color from attending events or treated any differently, I find it unfair to demand changes that might adversely impact event attendance. From the beginning to now, country music has been the primary draw of this festival. Other genres have been offered, but with the overall goals in mind. What Council is doing precludes consideration of goals and forces changes that might not otherwise be implemented. I suppose this kind of thinking would lead Council to tell an Italian restaurant they must diversify their menu because police services are provided.

    The response to my “Italian restaurant” comment will be that the restaurant pays property taxes and generates sales tax. The festival’s website states: “In an economic study performed during the 2011 festival, The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival’s estimated economic impact is over  4.5 million dollars.” That $4.5 million would not change hands, except for Dogwood efforts. Because vendors are required to collect and deposit sales tax with the state, the City of Fayetteville receives what must be a substantial sales tax benefit. 

    Further, this festival clearly helps make Fayetteville a more attractive place to live and do business. When my wife retired from the Army and we could have moved anywhere, we chose to stay in Fayetteville. My positive view of this city was, in part, influenced by attending the Dogwood Festival. I was amazed at all that was offered by way of vendors, food, entertainment, information and the feeling of community. My wife and I pay property tax, sales tax and various fees that feed city government. We would not be here except for, those years ago, seeing Fayetteville in a positive light. The point is that this festival contributes to a positive image for Fayetteville and that has tremendous value. 

    The spring festival is not the only event sponsored by the Dogwood organization. They also put on Cumberland County’s largest pageant, Historic Hauntings and Fayetteville After 5. These events also benefit Fayetteville. It is my understanding that the city does not provide financial or in-kind support for these other endeavors. However, as with the spring festival, benefits accrue to Fayetteville.

    The following quote from Barksdale’s article indicates at least one council member also wants to influence make-up of the Dogwood board. “Councilman Chalmers McDougald swung around in his chair, saying he wanted to see how diverse her board members were. ‘And it’s really lacking a little bit,’ McDougald said.”

    I have seen nothing indicating that Councilman McDougald sought information regarding how Dogwood board members are selected. The organization has two paid employees. All the great work of the Dogwood group is done by just two employees and dedicated volunteers. Board members must first volunteer with the organization and then be recommended by a board member for membership on the board. It appears to me this approach is reasonable and definitely effective. To volunteer, all a person has to do is go to the organization’s website.

    In an attempt to provide music genres desired by festival attendees, there is a survey available on the organization’s website at http://www.faydogwoodfestival.com/. It lists the following genres: country, rock, jazz, Christian, blues, hip hop, reggae, Latin, R & B, urban, gospel, oldies, and metal.  Individuals who want to voice preferences in music should go to the website and complete the survey. 

    In my opinion, here is what must be understood. How to respond to survey results must be left to the Dogwood board because there are considerations beyond those results. As already explained, one of these is festival goals. The other is that this is a family-friendly event. Consequently, survey results, or demands for music diversity, must not be allowed to override the aim of keeping this a family-friendly event. 

    All of what is presented above provides opportunity for Council to exercise leadership. Doing so requires that those Council members who are pursuing music diversity at the Dogwood Festival think through the matter, as I have done here. I expect their following this approach will result in the realization that this is a matter requiring no further attention from Council. The leadership challenge comes in those Council members mustering the courage to explain this “no further action” conclusion to constituents and stand by this fair decision.

  • babeI’m glad we live in a city that respects its residents enough to allow us to voice our opinions on major issues affecting the community. Unfortunately, these opportunities sometimes appear ceremonial and gratuitous. I hope that was not the case at last Monday’s public hearing at City Hall.

    Three minutes is not a long time, but in most cases, it is long enough to make one’s point. This being said, I want to share with you my three minutes before the City Council. I’m trying hard to debunk that haunting adage that “Fayetteville never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Here’s what I shared with the city:

    “Good evening, Mayor, City Council. Thank you for this opportunity. I want to go on record in support of our new baseball team and the downtown baseball stadium as well as the Vision 2026 project that supports several quality-of-life venues such as the Civil War History Center and a downtown Performing Arts Center. I am here to go on record requesting that the city seriously consider naming the new stadium the Babe Ruth Memorial Stadium, securing Fayetteville’s unique station in baseball history. In addition, I urge the city and the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to collaborate on establishing The Babe Ruth Museum and Visitors Center. This facility would attract 50,000 -75,000 visitors a year to our community, serving as an economic stimulus for downtown Fayetteville and the surrounding area. 

    These suggestions are rather simplistic in nature, but simple ideas sometimes reap the biggest returns. It is said that “Fayetteville and Cumberland County never miss an opportunity to misses an opportunity.” These ideas are simple yet exclusively unique to our community. Please take them under serious consideration.”

    That’s it. Short and sweet. Now, let’s wait and see if anyone was listening. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • jubileeThe Poe House is a part of the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. It is a house built in 1897 and was owned by Josephine Montague Poe, hence the name. Josephine married Edgar Allan Poe, a local businessman with no relation to the famous writer. Now the house serves as a historically accurate representation of the early 20th century. Traditional museums are wonderful, but nothing can provide a glimpse into the past like walking through an incredibly preserved piece of it. 

    In addition to showing a detailed version of everyday life in the early 20th century. the Poe House also explores other important themes of the time. The best way to experience this all is with one of the daily tours, which give an in-depth and comprehensive exploration of themes such as women’s roles, African-American history, children’s roles and important changes in technology and society. Tours are held Tuesdays through Fridays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. On Saturdays, there is a tour every hour on the hour beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. Sundays also feature hourly tours from 1- 4 p.m. 

    From Nov. 22 until Jan. 8, the 1897 Poe House will be decked out in historically accurate Victorian decorations. They will include a large tree in the parlor and long hallways adorned with holly sprigs.  Admission into a Victorian celebration of the Christmas spirit is free. Looking into the Christmas traditions of the past puts our own modern traditions into a new light. Some may be things that are still shared and some are different, but exploring the personal connections during such a special season is valuable. It can shed some light not only on the culture of the past but on today as well. 

    The Poe House will also host a Holiday Jubilee on Dec. 4 from 1 - 5 p.m. This is an annual free event that brings the Victorian Christmas celebration to life. One of the most exciting parts of the event is the Coventry Carolers singing traditional music on the front porch that is decked out with traditional Christmas décor.  The Coventry Carolers will perform at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. In addition to lovely singing, there will be demonstrations like cooking on the 1902 stove. 

    The 1897 Poe House is located at 206 Bradford Ave. For more information visit http://museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov/1897-poe-house. While visiting the Victorian house don’t forget the other incredible facilities that the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex has. The Museum of the Cape Fear and Arsenal Park can also provide insight into our colorful local history. 

  • coverTraditions. We all have them. And for the city of Fayetteville, A Dickens Holiday is a can’t-miss celebration that kicks off the holiday season. Every year, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Downtown Fayetteville turns into a Victorian-era celebration of the Christmas holidays. This year, on Nov. 25, join the Arts Council Fayetteville/Cumberland County, the Downtown Alliance and all of the Downtown Fayetteville establishments for a taste of what life was like when things weren’t so high-tech and hectic. The fun lasts from 1-9 p.m. 

    “A Dickens Holiday is maybe the best feel-good event of the year in our community,” said Arts Council Executive Director Deborah Mintz. “The hearts and hopes of thousands of people seem to come together during the event”, she added.

    There is plenty to do at the event, including a few new things, but those tried and true favorites will be there, too. “A Dickens Holiday is full of wonderful traditions, and often I am asked what is new this year,” said Marketing Director Mary Kinney. “And we do have some new things. But we have people who come every year, and we have been doing this for 17 years. When it comes to A Dickens Holiday, it is so rooted in tradition. And for the holidays people tend to look for the same things year after year. That is what makes them traditions. It is part of what makes them special. We are adding on some things and we like to mix it up, but we are aware and respectful of the fact that for many people, the traditions are important.”

    A stroll down Hay Street showcases citizens in period attire. Along with roving characters reliving scenes from the Dickens book A Christmas Carol that witness Marley and Scrooge at various stages of the story, including Scrooge’s conversion, right in the heart of downtown.

    A photo with Father Christmas is the perfect way to preserve the magic of A Dickens Holiday forever. There is no age limit, you simply must be young at heart to enjoy a few moments in a Victorian sleigh posing for a wholesome photo with one of the season’s icons. It’s $6 per print or $15 for three. They are printed on-site. Father Christmas will be in attendance from 1-8:30 p.m.

    Nothing warms the soul – and the fingers – like a steaming hot cider accompanied by tasty gingerbread. Look for different locations on Hay Street to find this decadent treat. 

    New this year is a thematic juggler who will be entertaining his way up and down Hay Street.

    Gingerbread houses are nothing new this time of year, but H&H Homes and Fayetteville Area’s Habitat for Humanity have put a new spin on gingerbread real estate with the Community of Hope. It is an entire gingerbread village on display. From schools and shops to municipal buildings, and yes, houses are all included in the display. Come cast your vote and root for your favorite design.

    Families are invited to Fascinate-U Children’s Museum from 1-6 p.m. to make a Victorian ornament .

    At 4 p.m., stop by Hay Street United Methodist Church to take in Tuba Christmas.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear’s Poe House will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and decked out in Victorian Christmas décor. 

    Enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and get a look at Downtown Fayetteville from a different perspective. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. 

    Tickets go on sale at noon at 222 Hay Street on Nov. 25. Or, for a longer and more personal experience, head to the Transportation and Local History Museum for a ride in a Queen Victoria carriage. Tickets are $15 per person. Call 678-8899 for tickets and information.

    Learn more about the Victorian era and what life was like for locals during that time. This Victorian Life exhibit is on the second floor of the Market House. The displays include literature, military items, a Victorian Christmas tree and other items that give the visitor a better understanding about how Victorians celebrated Christmas. There is also an interactive aspect to the display. The exhibit is open from 1-9 p.m.

    Annie’s Ale House, a Victorian-era pub, will be set up inside the Arts Council. Stop by during the day for a libation and to shop for local art at the Transformation: Recycling Reclaimed Objects exhibit. The Fisk Jubilee Singers are performing at 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. These are historical tributes to the Fisk Jubilee Singers of the 1800s that entertained Queen Victoria. In the evening, the pub gets a bit rowdier with performances by the Belfast Boys. “It’s sure to have your toes tapping,” said Kinney.

    Visitors to A Dickens Holiday are encouraged to come dressed in period costumes. New this year is a chance to win a prize for the best costume. Head over to the Rainbow Room to enter the contest. While you are there, add a link to the Chain of Good Cheer. “People are invited to write thoughts of cheer, joy, and hope on slips of paper. This will be linked together to form a large Chain of Good Cheer,” said Kinney. “The chain will stay on display downtown through the holidays. The point is compiling these wonderful sentiments from the attendees.” 

    Around 5:30 p.m. everyone gathers at the Arts Council for the candlelight procession to the Market House. Candles are available at selected merchants downtown and at the Arts Council while supplies last. The procession concludes with a tree lighting ceremony and fireworks. But that is not the end of the evening. “When you go to an event with fireworks, the fireworks are typically the culmination of the festivities,” said Kinney. “At A Dickens Holiday, it is really the kick-off of Dickens after dark.” 

    There is still plenty of time to shop, visit the Community of Hope Gingerbread display to see who won top honors for their structure, grab a bite to eat and visit Annie’s Alehouse for some entertainment.

    Find out more about A Dickens Holiday at www.theartscouncil.com/dickensmain  or call the Arts Council at 323-1776 to learn more.

  • jogThe SSG Robert J. Miller Memorial Chapter, commonly referred to as the Special Forces Association Chapter 100, presents the Green Beret Jingle Jog on Saturday, Dec. 3. It includes a 10K road race at 9 a.m. and 5K walk/run at 9:15 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Downtown Fayetteville.  

         “We are projecting 600-800 runners for the event”, said Joseph Healey, president of Special Forces Association Chapter 100. “We are raising money for scholarships that we give away to families within the Special Forces fraternity.” 

         The fraternity has over 200 active duty and retired Green Berets. The chapter is in honor of and named for SSG Robert J. Miller. He is a Green Beret who was awarded the Medal of Honor and is a hero to many people. On Jan. 25, 2008, SSG Miller was in a major firefight in Afghanistan and was shot in the upper torso. He continued to move around the enemy, which took a lot of fire away from his element. He charged forward through an open area in order to allow his teammates to safely reach cover. After killing at least 10 insurgents and wounding dozens more, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire while moving from position to position. He was mortally wounded by enemy fire. His extraordinary valor ultimately saved the lives of seven members of his Special Forces team and 15 Afghan National Army soldiers.                   

         Proceeds from the fun run are used to benefit the organization’s scholarship fund. This year’s goal is $20,000. Aside from the scholarships, the organization supports Green Berets and their families struggling with unforeseen circumstances such as Hurricane Matthew. “Yearly we give 10 scholarships for $2,000 for college kids of Green Beret families,” said Healey. “We support all the Green Beret units on Fort Bragg, and if we have a servicemember in immediate need, we get a call and we take action on it.” Healey added that the Special Forces Association serves as the voice for the Special Forces community, perpetuates Special Forces tradition and brotherhood, advances the public image of Special Forces and promotes the general welfare of the Special Forces community.     

         This is a family-friendly event. Leashed dogs and strollers are welcome. Early registration is $30 and ends on Nov. 30. Registration is $40 after Nov. 30.  The Up & Coming Weekly registration code is GBJJUPANDCOMING. Race packet pickup is Friday, Dec. 2 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Candlewood Suites located at 4108 Legend Avenue. Same-day registration and packet pickup is 

    Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church. For more information and to register, visit http://www.active.com and type “green beret jingle jog” in the search box. 

  • shanessaTroy McDuffie, chief of police for the Spring Lake Police Department, has put in his time.  For the last seven years, he has spent numerous hours making sure Spring Lake, North Carolina, is a safe place to reside. McDuffie has an extraordinary passion for his role as Chief of Police and for the safety and well-being of the citizens of Spring Lake. Up & Coming Weeklyrecently sat down and had a reflective conversation entailing his career. 

    Chief, I understand you have some news you would like to share. 

    After 30 years of law enforcement, effective January 1, 2017, I will officially retire from the law enforcement field. My actual last day is the last week of December.  This will end my law enforcement career.        

    When did you realize that now is the time for you to retire?  What prompted this decision?

    Thirty years in the law enforcement field is a long time. Those that work in the field      

    and still in the law enforcement profession know it is a very stressful profession.  At some point, you know when you get to the point where you have options.  Of course, I could continue my career and talk with the town officials and my employees, that’s what they had hoped. But you just know that it is time to pass the torch to new leadership and allow them to carry on and hopefully continue to build on all that we have built in Spring Lake.       

    When you reflect on your 30 years of service what is the one thing in your career that has been profound and had the most impact?

    My passion has always been helping and protecting others. I feel that was something that the good Lord instilled in me when I was a child. As I reflect back on my career, it has been obvious that is what he intended for me to do and what he has used me for. The most gratifying of my career is the seven years I have spent here in Spring Lake leading and rebuilding this police department along with the challenges and struggles that we have gone through to rebuild relationships that were lost prior to me taking over. 

    It has been a joy to look back on those years and just watch the growth between the police and community, the support of the citizens, the support of the businesses and how we have grown to make this community a much safer place and put the past behind us.  

    What kind of legacy are you leaving behind?

    When I look back at my legacy, what I would hope for others to say about Troy McDuffie is that I am a fair person and wanted the best for all in this community and ensured that when my officers policed the Spring Lake community, everyone was treated with dignity and respect.  

    Chief, we wish you happiness and peace of mind. Kudos for an excellent job and thanks for your leadership and dedication to serving others.  

  • wonderful lifeIt’s a Wonderful Lifewas produced and directed by Frank Capra in 1946. It was inspired by the 1939 short story “The Greatest Gift” written by Philip Van Doren Stern. When it was first released, the film was considered a failure. It didn’t bring in the crowds necessary to offset the large production costs. However, over the years, it proved to be one of the most beloved American movies of all time. For many families across the nation, it is traditional to watch the film together every Christmas season. And it is showing at the Gilbert Theater Nov. 26-Dec. 18.

        This season, the Gilbert Theater brings this American holiday classic to life on the stage. This is a unique opportunity, in part due to the theater’s facilities. The Gilbert Theater is a black box theater, which means the distance between the performers and the audience members is very small. For a show like this, it makes the performance feel not only real but also incredibly personal. All in a way that a television set can never accomplish. “This is a classic film and a well-loved story. It’s a tradition for many to watch the film annually during the holiday season. We seek to capture the essence of the film and make the audience feel as though they are at home watching the characters come to life before their eyes,” Artistic Director Robyne Parrish said. 

    It’s a Wonderful Lifecenters on the story of George Bailey. His self-sacrifice has driven him to the verge of suicide. His desperation brings about his guardian angel. The guardian angel shows George his value by showing him how life would be if he had not been born. The Gilbert Theater presents this story in a very classic interpretation. “This story is about finding one’s true self,” Parrish said. “It is about redemption and hope. It is a modern-day Scrooge tale. I think we can all identify with it on some level. Many of us experience feeling as though we are not loved or not needed. It takes faith and a little bit of magic to see the truth.”

        While Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time, it can be emotionally tumultuous. George’s struggle and emotional distress are relatable. “I identify with George, absolutely. His struggle to find his identity in a world that he feels has sometimes let him down is palpable,” said Parrish. “The blessings he ultimately finds in friends and family rings so true for me and many others.” It is this representation of classic human struggle that is why this story remains so popular today.

    It’s a Wonderful Life tackles some big themes and difficult issues, but it is still accessible and appropriate for young viewers. These lessons are ones that can’t be learned too early. Life isn’t always easy or simple, but everyone has value and should be appreciated. “It’s a family-friendly show with a strong message of love and togetherness,” said Parrish. “Particularly in this time of political unrest. This story brings folks together no matter what their political passions or walks of life.”

    For tickets and information, visit http://www.gilberttheater.com or call the box office at 678-7186.

  • jeff7jeff8George Quigley was inducted into the Cumberland County Agricultural Hall of Fame this month during the annual Farm City Week program sponsored by the Cumberland County Cooperative Extension Service and the Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville. “J.R.” Dail was recognized as Cumberland County’s 2016 Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year. 

    Quigley’s official portrait was unveiled and will hang on the wall with those of past inductees in the I.B. Julian Auditorium of the Cooperative Extension office at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center, on E. Mountain Drive. In addition, N.C. Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), acting on behalf of the governor, presented Quigley with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s most prestigious civilian service award. 

    Quigley was a member of Cumberland County’s inaugural master gardener class in 1996. He has remained a fixture at Cooperative Extension for the past 20 years. Quigley has taught horticulture, landscaping and gardening. He has hosted farm tours and frequently visited with lawmakers to ensure passage of legislation designed to benefit farmers and the agricultural industry. 

    “Since 1996 when he started with the Master Gardener program, George has not left our office,” said Cooperative Extension Director Lisa Childers. “He has volunteered more than 8,000 hours with the program and contributed so much to our community, not for recognition, but because of his dedication and commitment to Cooperative Extension and Cumberland County,” she added. 

    Quigley has served as chairman of the Cooperative Extension Advisory Council and as President of the N.C. Master Gardener Association. He also serves on the Cape Fear Botanical Garden Board of Directors, the Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville, Cross Creek Linear Park Committee, Fayetteville Beautiful Board of Directors, N.C. Agriculture Foundation, Second Harvest Food Bank and Catholic Charities Board of Directors. Quigley was also an instructor of landscaping at Fayetteville Technical Community College and is a recipient of the Cumberland County Cares Award. Quigley, a native of upstate New York, enlisted in the U.S. Army as an infantryman after graduating from high school. He joined the elite Army Rangers and was later commissioned as an infantry officer. He served for 34 years before retiring in Cumberland County. 

    Also during this year’s Farm City Week observance, “J.R.” Dail was recognized as Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year. Dail, son of James and Wanda Dail, is a fifth-generation farmer in the Wade community. He grows cucumbers, tobacco, soybeans and wheat. Dail also helps his father and brother, Zach Dail, at the family hardware store located on the farm.

  • jeff6President-elect Donald Trump was ridiculed for claiming he knows more about ISIS than the generals. As Commander-in-Chief to be, Trump now must face reality. In an interview with Military Times, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey says Trump’s lack of foreign policy experience will prove challenging for the Pentagon. He says he’s confident military leaders will try to work constructively with the unpredictable president-elect. “He’s remarkably uneducated about almost every aspect of defense and foreign policy,” said McCaffrey, a highly decorated Vietnam combat veteran who rose through the Army’s ranks during a 32-year career. As Commander-in-Chief, Trump will come into office with automatic support from senior military leadership, McCaffrey notes. 

    Recently retired Marine Gen. John Allen warned that if Donald Trump were elected president, there would be mass unrest among the military rank and file over policies he would implement. Allen was on record in support of Hillary Clinton. “I think we would be facing a civil-military crisis, the like of which we’ve not seen in this country before,” Allen said. The four-star general, who served as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention.

    When it comes to rank and file troops, McCaffrey said Trump’s election will help inspire them because many of them come from rural America where Trump has significant support. McCaffrey notes, “There were a lot of things Trump said that were right, in isolation,” but he’s also “impulsive and his instincts are very bad,” he said, citing Trump’s stance on nuclear weapons as an example. The retired general wrote an op-ed piece about Trump for The Seattle Timesin August, in which he referred to Trump as an “abusive braggart” who  wasn’t fit to lead the armed forces. “I don’t withdraw one word of it,” McCaffrey told Military Times. “But now I wish him well. I hope he can pull this off.” 

    Trump has no military experience. As a youngster, Trump’s parents transferred him to military school in eighth grade after attending a prep school. At New York Military Academy, students wore uniforms in a quasi-military environment. Cadets participated in march drills and adhered to a strict regimental hierarchy. Trump often points to his five years at the academy in Cornwall-on-Hudson, about 60 miles from his home in New York City, as a formative period in his life that helped qualify him to be Commander-in-Chief. Although he received controversial educational and medical deferments from the Vietnam War draft, he has said that the school provided him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”

    Some are concerned that Trump has displayed an ignorance of the checks and balances that guide an American president’s control of the U.S. military. “Mr. Trump does not seem to realize that active-duty generals are long-serving, apolitical professionals who do not belong to any one administration or president,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. David Barno before the election. “On January 20th, there won’t be any Trump generals or Clinton generals. There will only be America’s generals, no different than today.”

  • jeff2The U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the death sentence of Timothy Hennis, the former Fort Bragg soldier convicted of murdering an Air Force wife and her two young children. A four-judge panel filed its opinion following a mandated review of alleged court martial errors. His 2010 military trial was the third time Hennis was tried on charges of killing Kathryn Eastburn and two of her daughters Kara, 5, and Erin, 3 at their Summerhill Road home. The court found that Hennis’ claims of double jeopardy were without merit, as was his claim that the Army did not have jurisdiction in the Fayetteville murders. Hennis is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 

    Hennis was initially convicted in Cumberland County Superior Court and put on death row in 1986. He won an appeal and was found not guilty in a new trial in Wilmington in 1989. In 2006 the Army brought Hennis out of retirement to face a court-martial on the charges after DNA evidence not available at the earlier trials linked him to the murders. Hennis can now seek relief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces before ultimately appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.








    jeff3Storm Debris Collection Disappointing

    In the wake of the 2011 tornado that struck Fayetteville, city officials decided to contract with a private disaster relief trucking company. The idea was to have the company on standby in case another storm struck our area. Three days after Hurricane Matthew hit Fayetteville, the contractor, CrowderGulf of Alabama, was contacted. The company’s project manager, Barrett Holmes, told City Council it took the company four days to respond. It was another month before the firm geared up with an adequate number of crews on the job. “We failed,” Holmes told the council. By mid-November, most neighborhoods had not had storm debris collected. “Limb collection began Friday (Nov. 11),” said Environmental Services spokesperson Jackie Tuckey. She said the contractor concentrated on collecting construction debris the first few weeks. CrowderGulf now has six crews and trucks working seven days a week, Tuckey said, and the city is assisting with additional crews. 









    jeff4FTCC Among the Best for Military

    Fayetteville Technical Community College has been designated a Top School by Military Advanced Education and Transition in its 2017 Guide to Colleges & Universities. The guide will be released next month. It contains the results of a questionnaire of policies enacted at hundreds of institutions. From community colleges to online schools, the 2017 Guide to Colleges & Universities arms students with information about schools that best serve men and women in uniform. Now in its tenth year of publication, the guide is the first reference tool of its kind. Institutions were evaluated on military culture, financial aid, flexibility, general support, on-campus support and online support services. Prospective students can target schools that follow best practices in military education and put them in context with other academic or career considerations. “We want to be a dynamic resource for those looking to further their educations and careers. A key part of that is finding the right school, and it can be a confusing process for military members to navigate,” said Kelly Fodel, Military Advanced Education & Transition’s editor-in-chief.







    jeff1Educator W.T. Brown Dead at 87

    Retired Fayetteville educator William T. Brown passed away on Nov, 14. He was 87. Dr. Brown is remembered as an icon in public education. “This is a very significant loss for anyone associated with Fayetteville State University,” said Dr. James Anderson, FSU Chancellor. Brown was Trustee Emeritus of Fayetteville State and served on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. He retired as an Associate Superintendent of Cumberland County Schools in 1992. He served as principal of Washington Drive Junior High School from 1963 to 1971 during government-mandated desegregation of public schools and later was named principal of E.E. Smith High School. Brown became an assistant superintendent and then an associate superintendent for Fayetteville City Schools and later Cumberland County Schools following the merger. 

    A native of Durham, Brown graduated from North Carolina A&T State University in 1948 and North Carolina Central University in 1954. He completed graduate studies at Columbia University in 1961 and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1968. He held honorary doctorate degrees from Fayetteville State University and Shaw University.






    Disaster Response Training

    North Carolina Emergency Management is offering Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) basic training to Cumberland County residents in December. Seats are limited and filled on a first-come, first-served basis for the 21 hours of training held over three days. CERT Basic Training covers the skills needed in the aftermath of a disaster when standard emergency services are not immediately available. Residents who complete the training can assist in saving lives and protecting property using basic techniques taught in the course. The December CERT classes will be held at Fayetteville Technical Community College, 2201 Hull Rd., Fayetteville, on Dec. 2 - 4. For information about meeting times, contact Marlin Scott at 309-9995. Register for the course online at https://terms.ncem.org/TRS/logon.do. 



    jeff5Gambling Operation Disrupted

    The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Homeland Security have conducted a joint criminal investigation into a Korean-run gambling operation, which has resulted in the execution of search warrants and the issuance of arrest warrants for some of the persons involved in the organization. Sheriff’s Sgt. Sean Swain says the group is headed in Cumberland County by Gyoung Lok Lee.  He has been charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise, two counts of operating five or more video poker machines and felony conspiracy. The group has been linked to other gambling operations in Flushing, New York, Irving, Texas, and Los Angeles. Sheriff’s Office Detectives have obtained search warrants for six locations, five of them in Cumberland   County and one in Raleigh.  Additionally, Smith says the Sheriff’s Office will be executing search warrants at several local banks related to accounts in which gambling proceeds were being laundered.  Others charged in the operation were: Jay Hugh Pridgen and Eric Murillo both of 3206 University Ave., Fayetteville and Allen Larson of 5970 Lakeway Drive, Fayetteville.


  • MargaretI winced inside and out when then candidate Donald Trump called his opponent Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman.”   I winced again when Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon portrayed Hillary sipping coffee from a mug emblazoned with “nasty woman.”  Ugly name-calling aside, it was the actual word that triggered my reaction.  When my sister and I were growing up, “nasty” was a word not allowed in our household.  In fact, washing our mouths out with soap might have been mentioned for this particular infraction, and using profanity or obscenity was simply unthinkable.  We really didn’t know any, so that was not much of an issue.

    Each of us has only one childhood, and mine occurred in North Carolina, so I really don’t know what goes on in families from other parts of our nation.  I suspect each family everywhere has its own peculiarities, and we Southern families certainly do, a total ban on the word “nasty”—I can write it but still cannot make myself say it—is one of them.  There are plenty of others.

    Susan Stafford Kelly is a North Carolina novelist married to a native Fayettevillian, and she often writes for several of our state’s magazines. I was delighted when I picked up a recent edition of Pine Straw: The Art and Soul of the Sandhills to find Kelly’s spot on essay, “The Brief Unwritten Social Rules of the Southern Womanhood.”  Talk about relating…

    Kelly’s piece brought back a flood of memories, most of which make little or no sense, but which came to Susan, countless other Southern girls, and me as rules of the world.  Several days before I married—five days short of 30-years-old, friends of my mother, who had been dead for more than four years, began arriving at my door with gift-wrapped boxes.  Each one contained a lovely but tasteful nightgown, or as we say in the South, a “nightie.”  Nothing too low or too high.  Since my mother was not around for my wedding or this gifting experience, I was baffled until my plainspoken aunt informed me that these thoughtful women were doing what my mother would have done.  They were providing my trousseau lingerie!

    That tradition has long since bitten the dust, since all the young women I know now sleep in old T-shirts and have been in their hubby-to-be’s beds for years.

    Here are a few more rules for Southern women that are not written anywhere, but which we somehow just know—or are supposed to.  More than a few involve our clothes, as Susan Kelly notes.

    We carry pocketbooks, not purses.  I was in college before I found out that a tiny little baggie thing my mother and grandmother referred to as a “coin purse” was not what other people meant by purse.  We wear underpants or, generically, underwear.  If you wear “panties,” you were probably born somewhere else.  Whatever you call these garments, they had better be white, as had your slips, if anyone remembers what they were. Ditto for bed linens and maybe bath towels.  We also wear stockings, not hose.  The first time I heard hose, I was very confused, wondering why and how that green moldy, snaky thing left out in the yard could fit on my legs.  Then there’s the white shoe, white pants only between Memorial and Labor Days rule, but even I have had one white pants in recent days.  I wonder if global warming is playing a role in the demise of this rule….

     Of course, you must always write a thank you note for every gift both large and small and certain kindnesses, and what’s more, you must do so on your good, preferably monogrammed, stationery and in black ink.  This is another Southern rule that seems to be leaving us.  I have had pre-printed notes that on which my name was filled in and which said “Thank you for the lovely_____________” with the name of some item handwritten in.  My mother and grandmother never heard of a thank you email, but I have had some of those, too.

    A Southern friend whose mother grew up on an estate in Mississippi shared several rules she and her two sisters learned during their childhoods in Tennessee.  They were not allowed to use the word “rich” or to talk about how much anything cost.  Nor could they use “kid” to refer to a child, lest their mother inquire whether they were talking about a goat.  Actually, my mother said that, too.  

    And, then there are those things that are not rules but just expressions Southerners use, or did when I was growing up.  We went to the beauty parlor, not the salon, and the picture show instead of the movies, or heaven forbid!—a film.  We ate cheese crackers, not Nabs, and washed them down with Cokes or Pepsis, not sodas.

    Every generation writes its own memoirs, and each is different.  Susan Kelly and I are both Baby Boomers, and we both have three Precious Jewels, who in true Southern fashion, know each other.  

    I hope I get to enjoy their Millennial memories.

  • Screen Shot 2016 11 23 at 8.39.36 AMCommunity and giving back are consistent themes in our publication. Time and again and without fail, our community steps up to care for its own, to problem solve, to get things done. Hurricane Matthew is just the latest example of how we take care of each other when things get hard. Unfortunately, it is not enough to say “Well done,” and move along because there will always be someone in need, someone who, despite their best effort, can’t make ends meet, can’t provide for their family, can’t take care of themselves.

    This time of year Social media is usually filled with posts about how thankful, lucky and blessed people are. And that is a wonderful thing. We should all count our blessings and be mindful of how much we have and how fortunate we are. And we should not take these things for granted. There are still people in this community and all across this country who are not so fortunate. And organizations this time of year often struggle to meet the needs of those they serve.

    If you are able and it is in your heart, consider giving back this holiday season. It doesn’t take much to change someone’s life. While the holidays are supposed to be a happy time of year, many struggle mightily with things like loneliness and depression during November and December. Take a few moments, call or check in on a friend/acquaintance/office mate/neighbor and let them know you are thinking about them. Or take them to lunch or for coffee or just spend a few minutes letting them know you care.

    If time is something you just don’t have or you are unable to “sponsor” someone this season, consider supporting one of the many organizations that are dedicated to helping this community. Drop some money in one of the red Salvation Army kettles. They feed the homeless, while providing a job for the bell ringers, typically lower income.

    Write a check to one of the many nonprofits in the area. Places like the Care Clinic and Better Health offer health-related services to the community at little or no cost.

    Or volunteer. Not just during the holidays, but    throughout the year. Operation Inasmuch, Catholic Charities, the Dream Center, the Child Advocacy Center, the Guardian ad litem program and other organizations are always looking for help.

    Drop off some nonperishable food items like canned goods, dried beans, soup mixes or the like at one of the food banks. Second Harvest Food Bank is always accepting donations, but there are other organizations that have food pantries, too. Donate toiletries or hygiene items at one of the many local shelters. Things like a package of socks, a hat and a scarf or a gently used coat or feminine hygiene products mean everything when you need them and don’t have them.

    Donate a toy at one of the many toy drop offs. Toys for Tots is just one way. Support a local toy run that many local motorcycle clubs sponsor this time of year - we have some listed in our Free Wheelin’ section. Many organizations have Angel trees that make it easy to give a child a Merry Christmas. Some organizations that support children in our community are the Girls and Boys Club, Fayetteville Urban Ministry, Great Oaks Foundation and Falcon Children’s Home.

    Giving back during this stressful time of year doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money and it can change someone’s life. Including yours.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • youngOn Nov. 19, Chris Young’s I’m Coming Over Tourwill stop at the Crown Coliseum. Chris Young is a country singer and songwriter who won the TV program Nashville Starin 2006. Since his debut single “Drinkin’ Me Lonely,” his work has consistently topped the charts. Originally from Tennessee, he has brought country music all over the globe with his hit songs. So far he has eight No. 1 singles and 14 Gold/Platinum certifications. His newest hit is “Thinking of You,” which he performed with Cassadee Pope. The song was well received by audiences and critics, soaring to the top of country music charts. The song comes from his fifth album I’m Comin’ Over, which has been nominated for Academy of Country Music Awards, AMC  and reached the #1 spot on the Top Country Albums chart in November. He is known as a dynamic performer who brings a lot of energy and excitement to the stage. This tour brings his work, which is fantastic through the radio, to an entirely new level. Joining Young on stage will be Cassadee Pope and Dustin Lynch. 

    Cassadee Pope is also an American singer and songwriter. From 2008 to 2011, she was the lead singer of the pop-punk band Hey Monday. In 2011, she began her solo career, which led her to audition for season three of The Voice.In 2012, she became the first female winner of the program. Many of her performances on The Voice, such as her rendition of “Over You” in the third, live round, reached #1 on iTunes’ charts. While she is also working on her own albums, recently she sang a duet with Chris Young called “Thinking of You.” This is her first song to reach #1 on the U.S. Country Airplay chart. 

    Dustin Lynch began his career in country music with a move to Tennessee in 2003. He released his first debut single in 2011, “Cowboys and Angels,” under Broken Bow Records. His first #1 single came in 2014 when he released “Where It’s At (Yep, Yep).” Lynch has also collaborated with artists such as James Wesley, Josh Leo and Tim Nichols.

    Chris Young performs on Nov. 19 at the Crown Coliseum. The Crown Coliseum is located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $29.50 to $55.50. More information and links to purchase tickets can be accessed at www.crowncomplexnc.com. There are also two VIP Ticket experiences available. The first is the VIP Meet and Greet Experience. This includes a reserved ticket, meeting Chris Young before the show, an individual picture with Chris, one personalized autograph, a ticket to the preshow “VIP hang” that includes an exclusive performance and a fan pack with various Chris Young memorabilia. The second VIP package is the VIP Soundcheck Experience. This includes a reserved ticket to the concert, a ticket to the pre-show “VIP Hang” and the VIP Fan pack featuring a Chris Young tote bag, tour poster and lanyard. 

    Chris  is asking his fans to bring new unwrapped toys to donate to Toys for Tots.

  • angelsYear after year, the Steele Angels help local families. Nov. 19 is the group’s annual Toy Run. It is an event that started 13 years ago. The Steele Angels Riding Club includes members from Cumberland County and surrounding counties who share a common interest -  motorcycling. The club’s purpose is to aid and assist needy and distressed families in and around Cumberland County. The members are concerned with the community as a whole and they promote a sisterhood of compassion and support and an understanding among the club members. 

    Although there are several motorcycle clubs in the Fayetteville area, this club chose not to be sculpted and created in the same sense as a “motorcycle club.” This was a decision they made in 2004. They choose to help children and they just happen to ride motorcycles. One thing the Steele Angels always say is that motorcyclists have the biggest hearts whether you are in a club or an independent ride. They all have something in common … they all love to ride and they all have big hearts. 

    The Steele Angels want to make a difference in a child’s life. Over the years there have been several runs and involvement in many events, but due to so many organizations, there are events held almost every weekend, so the Steele Angels just stick to having two events a year. Their main mission is to help distressed women and children in the area. They share a common ideology that to better our community, we must contribute to the social, physical and mental well-being  of children, women and families in crisis. 

     This organization provides monetary and physical support to several local non-profit charities and organizations. The Steele Angels motorcycle club provides relief to local families in annual events such as the Toy Run and Back to School Run. The Toy Run is always the Saturday before Thanksgiving and the Back to School Run is in August before school starts. 

    This year’s Toy Run registration is from 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m. at Legends Pub on Bragg Blvd. on Nov. 19. The escorted ride leaves Legends Pub at
    1 p.m., going to the Doghouse on Owen Drive. There will be food, music, 50/50 raffle, door prizes and more. To participate, bring a monetary donation or bring an unwrapped toy. Call Wendy Rogers at 910-818-0458 for more information.

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

  • red apple Diabetes affects nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States. Another 86 million have prediabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. This is why Better Health presents its 10K run at 8:30 a.m. and 5K run at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Medical Arts Center in downtown Fayetteville. There is also the Haymount Hill Climb, known as the 1-mile fun run, which will start at 8:45 a.m. 

     “This is our 4th annual event and the proceeds go towards Better Health programs” said Amy Navejas, executive director for Better Health. “The programs include emergency direct aid, diabetes management clinics and classes, childhood obesity prevention and medical equipment loans.” 

    Navejas added that the money supports a number of different causes and thousands of individuals in need who live in the Cumberland County area. 

     The purpose of the event is to raise awareness that diabetes is an epidemic. It is a problem in our community and across the nation. This race raises funds for Better Health . “We have a really robust diabetes program for self-management,” said Navejas. “Physicians and clients can’t do it on their own because diabetes is a very difficult and complex disease, and they need assistance and support along the way.” In reference to the self-management clinics, Cumberland County clients can walk in and attend classes facilitated by a registered nurse that have different topics every week. Some of the topics include carb counting, a cooking demonstration, goal setting, nutrition planning and having a one-on-one conversation with the nurse about issues with the glucometer, medications or any number of things. 

    Low-income clients can be provided a glucometer, test strips and other diabetic supplies that are expensive but a necessity. 

     On Monday nights there is a free “Take Charge of Diabetes” class for registered participants. 

    “It is the A-Z of diabetes and we really go in-depth,” said Navejas. “We have a physician come in to talk about foot care for diabetics, eye care, dental hygiene and a therapist to talk with them about dealing with the diagnosis.” Navejas indicated that Better Health tries to be thorough and address all those needs because it is such a complicated disease. 

     Better Health is a nonprofit organization that has been around since 1958 with a vision to impact the quality of life for all Cumberland County residents through a commitment to improving access and availability of healthcare services for the underserved, low-income resident. 

     “We want everyone to come out and participate because we have races for all ages,” said Navejas. 

     Registration fees apply. For more information visit betterhealthcc.org or call 483-7534.  

  • annieThere was a popular cartoon in the 1920s called Little Orphan Annie. It was created by Harold Gray. The strip ran through the ‘30s and ‘40s.  Fast forward to 1970. Martin Charnin, a lyricist and a director, purchased a coffee table book called The Life and Hard Times of Little Orphan Annie for his friend. As he was getting ready to wrap the book, Charnin opened it to peek inside. He ended up reading the entire book. Charnin fell in love with Little Orphan Annie that day and started pursuing the rights. He talked with his friends Charles Strouse, a two-time Tony award-winning composer and Thomas Meehan, a short story writer for The New Yorker. In 1971, they started work writing the musical. The musical has been through several iterations since then. On Thursday, Nov. 17, Annie comes to Givens Performing Arts Center.

    It was six years before Annie debuted at the Goodspeed Opera House. There, it was revised and changed. Then Lewis Allen and Mike Nichols chose to produce Annie as their first Broadway show. It opened in 1977 at the Alvin Theatre, which is now the Neil Simon Theatre. It ran for 2,377 performances and won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score and Choreography. The cast included Reid Shelton (Oliver Warbucks), Dorothy Loudon (Miss Hannigan), Sandy Faison (Grace Farrell) and Andrea McArdle (Annie). Sarah Jessica Parker and Allison Smith also starred in the title role during the original Broadway run. 

    Since then, Annie has returned to Broadway twice –  in 1997 and 2012. It’s the 13th longest-running American musical to run on Broadway. It’s been translated into 28 languages and has been performed in 34 countries.

    This production of Annie is directed by the same man who fell in love with the comic strip in 1970: Martin Charnin. It’s choreographed by Liza Gennaro. 

    Annie includes such favorites as“It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You” and “Tomorrow.”

    See Annie at Givens Performing Arts Center. Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Call Givens box office at 910-521-6361 for tickets and information or visit http://www.uncp.edu. Tickets:  $41, $36, $21/$26 Alumni/$16 Children or Students/$16 Faculty and Staff/$10 UNCP Students. 

  • coverEvery Thanksgiving weekend for the past 17 years, The Heart of Christmas Show has ushered in the Christmas season. For the audience, it’s a weekend of high-quality entertainment, laughs, heartfelt moments and warm fuzzies that set hearts right for the holidays. For the cast and their families, it is the culmination of three months of grueling rehearsals and pulling together to put together everything they have into this show, which celebrates everyone’s favorite things about the holidays. Then, after the show is over, they give all the money away to help sick and abused children in the community – more than $620,000 to date. This year, the 18th annual Heart of Christmas Show is onstage at the Crown Nov. 26  at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Nov. 27 at 3 p.m.

    The performance features Voices of the Heart, a local teenage Christian vocal group, joined by a cast of 32 singers and dancers. Laura Stevens is the show’s creator and director. “There was only supposed to be one show,” she said, “but here we are 18 years later.”

    Putting on a production this big every year takes a lot of work and dedication from the cast and their families. “It is amazing to me how everyone pulls together. Parents are sewing sequins on costumes and running out for supplies – just doing whatever it takes to get things done,” said Stevens. “And the cast works so hard. They give up every Saturday for three months to be in this production. Our practices start right after Labor Day.”

    But in the end, when the audience is engaged and reacts to the vignettes, when the funds are disbursed to help local children, all that hard work and hours of practice are worth it. “There are segments that have become as traditional as Christmas cookies,” said Stevens. “People come to the show to be inspired. At Christmas time, everyone has their favorites - their favorite song, favorite recipe, favorite traditions etc. At The Heart of Christmas Show, there are only so many favorites, but people want to hear them every year. And those scenes will always be a part of the production – like the manger scene.”

    But still, Stevens tries hard to balance the audience favorites with new pieces. It keeps things fresh and interesting. This year, she says, there are some big changes; quite a few of them, in fact. “The first half of the show, we have fun with the secular songs and find new and different ways to spin some of the classics,” said Stevens. “For example, this year ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ is one of the songs. We are doing two versions. For the school shows, we will have a lot of Disney characters on stage for them. On the weekend shows, there is a twist on it. The segment is about a Hummer. As she pulls the salesman out of the car, she shoves him away and strokes the car. It is full of stuff like that. Funny takes on familiar songs.”

    The second half of the show focuses on the Christmas story. “Our manger scene segment is a very special segment. It portrays the Christmas story in song and dance. It shows what the meaning of Christmas is - the birth of Christ. We take it from the beginning to the birth,” said Stevens. “For the last 10 years, we’ve had a live baby every year. You can hear the audience whispering when they see the feet go up in the manger and start wiggling. From the starry night to the birth and celebration of the birth, the manger scene stays intact because people don’t want me to change it. I think it is special.”  

    After that, the show moves to a message of brotherhood, which Stevens sees as an important part of the show. This year features a new song called “We Are Christmas.”  “We partnered with Spellman College, an all-black college, on this. It speaks volumes. We are to extend love not hate to fellow man,” said Stevens. “We have a real strong brotherhood message this year.”

    Keeping a show fresh year after year for almost two decades is a tall order, but it’s one Stevens is happy to take on. She says she finds inspiration just about everywhere. Sometimes it’s the songs themselves that provide insight into what a skit should be. Other times it’s an experience or a memory. “The Heart of Christmas Show has a lot of original arrangements in it, and it is all done with youth performers,” said Stevens. “This year was a tough year with the hurricane, the election and all the other yucky stuff that has gone on in our world. This is a year to see The Heart of Christmas Show. You will understand the heart behind the show. This is a group with a goal to raise money for sick and abused children.”

    It’s more than dedicated performers and a loyal audience that make this show possible, though. Stevens noted that without support from the community, The Heart of Christmas Show just could not happen. “We are blessed to have so many supporters. From businesses to individuals, we could not do it without their support,” she said.

    The Heart of Christmas Show takes place at the Crown on Sat., Nov. 26 and Sun., Nov. 27. Find out more at http://www.heartofchristmasshow.com or call 910-978-1119..

  • checkOn Nov. 19, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra will perform the concert Czech it Out! This concert is part of the five concerts this season that are interviews for the five finalists vying for the position as the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra’s conductor next season. “The guest conductor for the November concert is Stefan Sanders, who is currently the assistant conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic and the music director of the Round Rock Symphony in Texas,” Christine Kastner the president and CEO explained. “He began his career playing trombone and then decided to pursue a career as a conductor.”

    The season’s concerts are a strong reflection of each guest conductor’s style. “The guest conductors were asked to submit several concert programs as a part of their interview process. The programs they are conducting are ones they submitted,” Kastner said. This month, the theme chosen by Sanders is “Czech it Out!” which features Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8. It is described as cheery and inspired by Bohemian folk music. Scott Marosek will  perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major. 

    To get an even better look into what makes the guest conductors tick, there will also be a preconcert  talk featuring the guest conductors and the FSO Music Nerd. “The music nerd is interviewing the guest conductors this season. He asks them some personal questions, but also they discuss the music that will be performed on that evening’s concert,” Kastner said. These preconcert talks allow everyone in the audience to learn not only about the conductor, but also about the music. They offer fun insight into the evening’s entertainment. 

    The beauty of these interview concerts is the variation and talent that it showcases. It is not often that a single season will feature five such impressive artists. For Kastner, this is one of the most exciting aspects of the entire season. “We get to experience five different conductors with different backgrounds, personalities and styles,”she said. The conductor guides the orchestra and provides the audiences with a unique interpretation of music. It is a vital role in a concert and this season truly highlights how influential this guidance can be.

    Another important part to the concerts is that they allow for community participation in the selection of the next conductor. Audience members will receive surveys following the performances to gauge the most popular candidate. One does not have to have a degree in music to give a valuable opinion. Kastner advises, “attend as many of the concerts as possible and be sure to give us your email so that you will receive a link to the online audience survey. You do not need to know conducting or even music, just let us know what  you think as an audience member. Did you enjoy their concert? Would you come see them again?”

    Czech It Out! starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Seabrook Auditorium located at 1200 Murchison Rd. on the Fayetteville State University campus. The preconcert  talk begins at 6:45 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.fayettevillesymphony.org/2016-2017-concerts/. 

  • yuleThe Association of Bragg Spouses presents the 26th annual Yule Mart Craft Fair on Friday, Nov. 18 from 1-7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. -  7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 20 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the Crown Arena. The event promises unique gifts for that hard-to-shop-for person in your life. It is also a fun event for children.  

    “Yule Mart is handmade craft items and we have over 50 craft vendors, “said Nicole Curry, chairperson of the Yule Mart Craft Fair. “Our main goal is to raise money for our scholarships and welfare grants.” Curry added that Yule Mart is one of their two main fundraisers for the year.    

    The event will feature live entertainment, photos with Santa, Santa’s Secret Shop, Mrs. Claus’ Bake Shop and opportunities to win prizes. The bake shop will sell goodies such as cookies, banana loaves, Rice Krispy Treats and gluten-free treats. “We opened the opportunity so that some of our kiddos in Cumberland and Harnett Counties can shine. So we have dance teams, a band and choir students who will perform,” said Curry. “Santa’s Secret Shop is for children to come in and do some shopping for family, friends and pets.” Curry added that there is a volunteer who will go in the shop with the child and assist them while they shop.        

    The purpose of the nonprofit group is to develop and foster a spirit of community, to provide opportunities for social, cultural and creative pursuits, and to support service and community projects. Membership is available to active duty members of the United States Armed Forces and their spouses assigned to and residing in the Fort Bragg area. Associate memberships are available to retirees and spouses. The group’s mission is to give monetary donations in scholarships and welfare grants. Last year high school graduates, students in college and military spouses were given funds for their education.  “We try to reach out to organizations in need of help especially when they are supporting our military kids in schools,” said Curry. “Last year we purchased instruments for three schools, sponsored Wounded Warriors and assisted churches and local and national groups.  We are very excited this year and can’t wait to give back to our continuing education spouses, kids and our community,” said Curry. 

    General admission is $7 and photos with Santa are $5. The cost for Santa’s Secret Shop is $5. If you would like to volunteer for the event visit www.fortbraggabs.org.  

  • heritageCharles Dickens’ A Christmas Carolends with Scrooge turning over a new leaf and the promise of a bright future for everyone. Is that what happened though? Find out on Nov. 18-20 at Heritage Square’s production of A Christmas Carol Revisited: What Ever Happened to Tiny Tim? It’s an interactive experience, so don’t plan on sitting through this night of entertainment that showcases the basement of the Sandford House, the Heritage Square properties and more.

    Dr. Gail Morfesis wrote the piece as part of a bigger event that brings Victorian-era traditions and holiday fun to modern-day Fayetteville. The cast is made up of some of local actors who have been seen in shows throughout the area as well as in New York. The actors include: John Doerner, Gary Clayton, Carrie Carroll, Stanley Seay, Terry Levitt and Jane Moran. 

    Gary Clayton plays Bob Cratchit. He opens the staged portion of the production. “Bob Cratchit comes from around the corner and greets his friends (the audience) and takes them into the cellar. It is 20 years or so after A Christmas Carol. Scrooge did, in fact, become a better man and a benefactor of the family and he is older, frail and a little bit senile.  So, Bob comes by every evening to check on his friend,” said Clayton. “Scrooge lapses and thinks Bob still works for him and we go into a scene. It is cool how it blends the old in the new.” 

    John Doerner is Scrooge. It’s a role he’s played before. “I’ve done Scrooge in a couple incarnations. I’ve done three different Christmas Carol productions. This is a condensed scene that incorporates some of the highlights of the full production,” he said. “He is one of my favorite characters. I see a lot of actors do Scrooge and they get the angry Scrooge correct but they don’t get the other side. Or they get the kind Scrooge but not the angry side. It is a real challenge to make both sides work; to make you dislike someone and then like them.”

    After visiting Scrooge, guests get to see the Cratchit home. “They will see the house decorated for Christmas, we play a Victorian word game and sing carols,” said Morfesis.  “The whole time we have live music outside. There will be a performance by a local men’s acapella group. We have a gal coming with ancient wooden recorders to play period music on the grounds. People are invited to listen to music and have some dessert and cider. We will also have the Cratchit family in the home and we talk to them about Dickens and Scrooge and the family. It is really nice.”

    Proceeds from this event benefit Heritage Square. Heritage Square is made up of three historic properties: The Sandford House, the  Oval Ballrool and the  Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House. Find out more about Heritage Square at http://www.heritagesquarefay.org.  Admission to A Christmas Carol Revisted is $10. Call 483-6009 for more information.

  • jeff9Infrequent but devastating storms can cause expensive infrastructure damage to communities like ours. Last month, 13 of the 17 earthen dams that are known to have failed during Hurricane Matthew are in the Cape Fear River Basin. Some of the same dams were severely damaged or destroyed 27 years ago during a storm that dumped eight inches of rain on Fayetteville one week before Hurricane Hugo struck South Carolina. This year, we weren’t so lucky. Coincidentally, Hurricane Matthew hit Fayetteville one week after another torrential rainfall. Nearly 30 inches inundated Greater Fayetteville in a ten-day period. 

    Inspectors from the state’s Dam Safety Program are still collecting data on the failures and near-failures. The Federal Emergency Management Agency notes in its overview of dam ownership in the United States that property owners on popular residential lakes are responsible for the safety and liability of their dams and for financing their upkeep and repairs. The state has been working with the owners of two dams on Keith Lake in Rayconda off Raeford Road. 

    Residents have been trying to correct problems since at least 2004, said Brad Cole, Chief of Regional Operations for Dam Safety. The upper dam, which carries Siple Avenue, separates the two sections of Keith Lake. The street is maintained by the city, but the dam belongs to the homeowners’ association. When it partially caved in, the city rushed to shore it up to restore vehicular traffic on Siple Avenue... the only access to the neighborhood of about 230 homes. 

    Homeowners’ Association President Freddy Rivera said earlier this year that the HOA hired a contractor to make repairs to the dam’s spillway to better regulate the flow of water from the 2.5-acre lake to the larger 7-acre lake. The group hoped the City of Fayetteville would help with the costly repairs needed on the dam itself. That’s where the ownership issue comes into play, as it does for the Aarran Lakes Dam on Greenock Drive. It too is privately owned. 

    Many streets, bridges and utility systems owned by the City of Fayetteville cross privately-owned dams. A few, like the dam beneath Mirror Lake Drive in Van Story Hills and the lower dam on McFadyen Drive in Devonwood, are maintained by the city, said spokesman Kevin Arata. 

    So, what happens after the fact, when it comes time to repair or rebuild earthen dams? Emergency Action Plans are required as a condition of impoundment for all new high hazard potential dams in North Carolina. The EAPs must be approved by engineers in the Dam Safety Program. They are not required under state law for dams that already exist. But what if an existing high hazard dam is destroyed?  Is an emergency action plan required before the dam cane be rebuilt and the lake impounded? Failure of a dam can be a personal as well as expensive and legal calamity. Laws pertaining to North Carolina Dam Safety are found in G.S.143-215-23. 

  • jeff8The 2017 property revaluation may be an unusually difficult one for Cumberland County Commissioners — and not for the usual reason. Many business and home owners typically rebel at higher tax values that ordinarily result from mandatory property revaluations every eight years. Higher values mean higher taxes. But, this time, something extremely unusual has occurred. Since the last revaluation in 2009, overall property values in Cumberland County have gone down, not up.

    Commissioners face a potential dilemma of dealing with values that dipped a year ago to less than 90 percent of what they were in 2009. Chairman Marshall Faircloth tells Up & Coming Weekly he’s hopeful they will have rebounded to the upper 90s by the end of the year. 

    “We’re still analyzing data, and I wouldn’t want to comment on values until January,” said Tax Administrator Joe Utley when asked whether he’s determined if property values have made a comeback. A 10 percent loss in the overall value of local properties could mean one of two things, or both. Taxes might have to be increased to offset the loss of revenue. Or, significant cuts in services could result. For his part, Faircloth says cuts would come first.

    State law provides that reappraisal schedules of value must represent uniformity in guidelines used for all real property, including the valuation of land and various types of construction, to determine “fair market” value. 

    Utley took the first step in the process when he gave county commissioners proposed SOVs last week. One of them is for appraising property at market value. Another is for appraising agricultural, horticultural and forest lands at present-use value. The board of commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed schedules, which outline the revaluation process and formulas, during their next regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 21, at 6:45 p.m. in Room 118 of the Courthouse. 

    Commissioners will adopt the SOV on Dec. 19, and the values will go into effect Jan. 1. Property owners will have an opportunity to file appeals with the Property Tax Commission. Values established Jan. 1 will be used, in part, to determine property tax rates effective with the new fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017. And they will remain in effect until the next revaluation. Revaluation notices are scheduled to be mailed on Jan. 20, 2017. Property owners will have 30 days to informally appeal to the tax office. A formal appeals process can be made to the Board of Equalization and Review beginning Feb. 20. Those appeals will be accepted for about three months. 

    The 2017 notices of value may not reflect adjustments for individual properties damaged by Hurricane Matthew. Nearly $52 million in property losses and damage resulting from the storm will be considered during the appeal period. Second notices will be mailed to owners that will reflect property damage not repaired by Jan. 1. Property losses attributed to the hurricane are not expected to significantly affect total tax values, said County Manager Amy Cannon. The schedule of values manual is available online at co.cumberland.nc.us/tax/revaluation.aspx and in the Tax Administrator’s office, Room 570, in the Courthouse at 117 Dick Street. 

  • jeff1Beasley Media Group has announced it has acquired three Detroit, Michigan radio stations from Greater Media, Inc. on Oct. 31, as part of a 21-station purchase. The transaction, which has been approved by the board of directors of both companies, is subject to FCC approval. It was also announced that they have promoted local Beasley General Manager Mac “Edwards” McTindal to manage and oversee the newly acquired Detroit, MI. properties.  The promotion and transfer officially took effect Nov. 1.   Mac, as he was called by his friends and associates, has spent nearly 25 years in the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community as Beasley’s General Manager, overseeing six local radio stations. “He’s a good people person,” and perfect for the Detroit market, said Paul Johnson, an operations manager for Beasley in Fayetteville. However, those who have worked with Mac and know of his love for media and the Fayetteville community were shocked and saddened at the news of losing such a media professional and community advocate. “He loved this community and he surely will be missed,” said Up & Coming Weekly Publisher Bill Bowman. “He was the consummate media professional. We’ve worked with Mac and Beasley as media partners for two decades.” Bowman added. “And, for 10 years Mac hosted Up & Coming Weekly’s Best of Fayetteville Awards Party along with radio personality Don Chase of WKML. He will be missed.”


    jeff2Sheriff Butler Retiring After 22 Years

    Longtime Cumberland County Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler is using an age-old Democrat party maneuver to set up the man he hopes will succeed him. Butler announced he’s retiring at the end of this year, two years before his current term of office expires. He’s recommending that Chief Deputy Ennis Wright serve out those two years as acting sheriff, which would give him the advantage of incumbency in 2018. Wright is a 20-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. County Commissioners will make the appointment. Butler, 79, has been sheriff for 22 years. “The time comes when a person knows that it is, in fact, time to…retire, and I know that this is the time,” Butler said. He is a life-long Democrat as are the seven members of the board of commissioners. 





    jeff3Fayetteville Road Repair Progress

    Major highway repairs have been underway in Cumberland County in the wake of Hurricane Matthew a month ago. NC Department of Transportation Division Six Engineer Greg Burns says work on Hope Mills Road near Camden Road is moving along well. “We anticipate opening the road to three lanes of traffic the end of this week,” he said, with the entire project completed near the end of January. The five-lane highway was destroyed when it caved in during the storm. Burns also says progress is being made on Strickland Bridge Road with completion of repairs in about two weeks. Complicating work there is a significant amount of utility reconstruction, Burns said. 








    jeff4Fayetteville Parks and Recreation NBA Basketball Clinic

    Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation will partner with professional basketball players including former NBA players to host a pre-season basketball clinic for beginner, intermediate and advanced players. Children can prepare for a successful basketball season by joining the fun. Autographs and prizes, including free one-on-one sessions will be granted during the clinic. Players will learn proper shooting, dribbling and passing form, as well as offensive and defensive strategies. Clinic attendance is $40. Two three-hour sessions will be held on Saturday, Nov. 19. Registration is open now at city and county recreation centers.








    jeff5Wounded Warrior Honors Service Members

    November is being observed at Fort Bragg as Warrior Care Month. Various activities and programs are scheduled. Events include a bicycle ride around Womack Army Medical Center and the WTB area, a wheelchair basketball game, a caregiver appreciation luncheon, a cadre appreciation luncheon and job fairs. Informational static displays will also be exhibited throughout the month highlighting the programs and resources available to soldiers in transition. Warrior Care Month was established in 2008 by the Secretary of Defense as a time to highlight the care for and triumphs of our nation’s wounded, ill and injured service members.








    jeff6Town Hall Meetings to Discuss HUD Eligible Activities

    Cumberland County Community Development will hold town hall meetings in November and December to provide information about various programs available to county residents, including affordable housing, housing rehabilitation, public services, public facility improvements, infrastructure and other Housing and Urban Development (HUD) eligible activities. The meetings will also give residents a chance to provide feedback on community needs for the 2017 Program Year. The meeting schedule is listed below:

    · Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. – Stedman Town Hall, 5110 Front St., Stedman

    · Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. – Falcon Two Hall, 7156 South West St., Falcon

    · Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. – Eastover Community Center, 4008 School St., Eastover

    For more information, contact Community Development at 321-6112 or go to co.cumberland.nc.us/community_dev.aspx. The office is located at 707 Executive Place, Fayetteville.




    jeff7Sunday Bus Service in Our Future?

    Fayetteville City Council has given no hint whether it will support Sunday bus service. Transit Director Randy Hume mentioned that a 25-cent increase would raise $120,000. At a work session, Monday, November 7, council members rejected the idea of a fare increase. Hume said the city’s cost of implementing the service would be about $290,000 a year.  The bus system’s citizen advisory committee recommended Sunday service. It has been part of FAST’s transit development plan for several years. The proposal is to offer the service on the ten most popular bus routes from 9 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. The proposal will likely be part of the city administration’s FY18 budget recommendation come April.








  • karlAcross my almost 70 years of living, I have been lousy at initiating and nurturing friendships. It was not until I worked with my father to write a book about his life that I came face-to-face with this fact. Talking with Daddy about his treasured friendships and then compiling the chapter on that topic caused me to assess my status in the friendship arena. I committed to learn to be much better at initiating and nurturing friendships.

    My current and most powerful, most effective friendship development training installment was not planned. On a pleasant weather day in April 2015, I was playing golf with a Canadian fella at Stryker Golf Course in Fayetteville. At some point, we realized there was a player behind us. We kept calling for him to play our current hole and we would wait for him to move ahead of us. When he kept refusing, we stopped and waited for him to catch up. 

    The then 85-year-old player was Frederick O. Byrom. He explained that, due to medical issues, including eleven surgeries, he needed to pace himself and did not want to pass us. He agreed to play the remaining holes with us. He said it was not good for him to play alone and, for a while, the course management required that he play with at least one other person. From that day to now, Fred and I have golfed together four to five mornings a week.

    During these past 18 months, I have learned more about this now 87-year-old than I realized or expected. It did not happen because of any interviews... just walking a golf course and talking. Fred was born in Alabama and lived there until age 20, when he joined the U.S. Army. Those early years in Alabama were difficult. Circumstances were such that he started buying his own clothes at age nine. He earned the money by cutting the grass of neighbors with a sickle. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes a sickle as “a tool with a curved metal blade attached to a short handle that is used for cutting grass, grain, etc.”) His pay was normally a nickel per yard. While still a young boy, he purchased a lawnmower from a local store on credit and earned the money to pay that account in full. His lawn-cutting business prospered.

    There was a point in his youth when Fred worked with his grandfather in logging. It was rough work and he earned 50 cents a week. He was living with his grandfather because he had run away from home. Fred had to wear used clothing from a young uncle because his grandfather’s position was that since he was paying him, Fred should buy his own clothes. When there was no hand-me-down jacket and Fred desperately needed one, he purchased a jacket for $2.50 by paying 50 cents down and then 50 cents a week until that account was paid in full.

    Starting at age 14, and for the next year until a truancy officer found him, Fred worked at a restaurant. In that year, he progressed from dishwasher to chef. Married at age 17, he worked eight-hour shifts at a cotton mill and then four more hours in construction each day. At age 20, he joined the U.S. Army. This decision led to 22-and-a-half years of service at duty stations in the U.S., South Korea, Italy, Germany, Thailand and Vietnam. After a prolonged illness, Fred’s first wife died, leaving him with two young children to rear. He later married again. Fred clearly loves, and is concerned for, his wife and family.

    When Fred retired from the Army, his monthly retirement pay was $400. That meant he had to keep producing  income. Without hesitation, he moved on to operate an accounting firm and a trucking company. Consider all that is outlined above regarding Fred’s early years . He is the very embodiment of determination. Our routine is to walk nine holes of golf while each of us pulls or pushes a cart. No motorized carts. The ninth green is seriously uphill. Every trip to that green is physically demanding for Fred and even for me. Approaching that ninth green, I sometimes say to Fred, “we can quit. Don’t push yourself on that hill.” His answer is always a quiet “no.” The exception was Oct. 28 when he said, “No. If I quit, that will be it.” Determination personified. 

    Fred knows golf and knows how to teach it. One day, when I was having a horrible round, he started instructing me. When my game continued to nosedive, he said, “never learn to play golf while playing golf on a course.” I took that statement to mean there is a time for playing and a time for separately assessing one’s game, thinking deeply about it and focusing while practicing. Life is no different. We should be careful not to get so caught up in the process of living that there is no assessing, no real thought regarding choices and no considering probable consequences of our choices.

    Fred has helped me improve my golf game beyond what I ever thought possible 18 months ago. Unlike many others, he knows when to instruct and when to shut up. He encourages but is direct in pointing out failure. 

    Well, that’s 886 words about Fred Byrom in a column that is supposed to be about me learning to be a friend. It is on point. Of the many friendship insights I have gained from time with Fred, three come to the forefront in this moment of reflection. The first is that meaningful friendships absolutely require the potential friends coming to know one another’s life journey. That process is most successful when it is unplanned... when it just happens. I know a good bit about Fred’s journey, as he does about mine, from just walking together on a golf course.

    Second, I did not offer or ask to play golf with Fred because I was looking to build a friendship. I did it because, in light of his medical history, Fred needed someone to be on the course with him. I am not holding myself up as some Good Samaritan as reflected in that parable told by Jesus and recorded in Luke 10:25-37. My takeaway is that when people act out of concern for one another and, in the process come to know and appreciate each other’s life journey without seeing it coming, strong friendships happen and both parties are better because of it.

    Finally, when these first two conditions are present, it allows for getting the right perspective of experiences that might otherwise end badly. Time and time again, Fred has told me how to successfully hit out of a sand trap. Normally, it takes me several attempts because I do not follow Fred’s instructions. Sand traps are those sand-filled areas on a golf course. During a recent round, I hit into a trap. On the first try, I hit out of the trap and into one on the other side of the green. I hit out of the second trap on the first try and started to celebrate that, at least, I got out of two traps on the first try. 

    Fred looked at me and said, “I am disappointed in you.”  He knew if I had followed his often repeated instructions, I would not have gone into the second trap. There is currently tremendous racial division and tension in America. Couple this with the deafening cries of racism that occur when there is an even remotely questionable negative interaction between black and white individuals or groups. If controlled by this atmosphere, I would have responded in a totally unjustified manner. My response might have been, “this white man is a racist and is putting me down because I am black.” The thought never crossed my mind because I know Fred’s story and he knows mine; we have a friendship born of a desire to help, not of a plan to be friends. I looked at Fred that day and was thankful that he cared enough to call me to account … even on playing golf.

    This is just a bit of what I have learned about being a friend on the golf course with Fred Byrom. Doing some of this across America, across the canyons that divide us, might help to heal our nation and save us from ourselves.  

  • margaretIt is all over now, thank goodness.

    We have survived an ugly and painful presidential campaign and are living witnesses to one of the most historic elections in our nation’s history. The United States of America has a new President-elect, and while not everyone is happy, our nation has no option but to move forward. Those of us who are not happy must make every effort not to say “we were robbed,” and those of us who are happy must never let the words “I told you so” cross our lips. 

    Our country is divided in ways it has not been during my lifetime, and if we are to go forward as a democratic republic, we must concentrate on what we have in common more than what separates us. This is going to take sincere and deep effort from both the winners and the losers. 

    Teresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, sent an open letter to members of the UVA community. She said, in part, “As we move into the future following this year’s election, let our values be our guideposts. We define ourselves by a shared commitment to reasoned discourse, mutual respect and steadfast support for every member of our community regardless of race, religion or any other human difference. Political elections will come and go. The values that we share will remain a timeless source of affirmation and hope.”

    The alternative is unthinkable.


    Having lost an election myself, I empathize with the candidates of all stripes who came up short. In my case, being portrayed as a hooker was the so far off my radar screen, I hardly knew what to say, except that if I had ever wanted to go into that line of work, I should have done it decades earlier. There is no market for a hooker in her 50s. People who have run for political office develop thick skins, and my reaction to the hooker ad was, “Whoa! That is a really good bad ad.” 

    That, however, was not the reaction of my husband, children and friends who were hurt and insulted on my behalf. 

    Campaign advertising disappeared in an instant last week, not expected to reappear with such magnitude until the 2020 presidential cycle, although there will be some lesser eruptions between now and then. When campaigns ads burst onto your TV screens again, remember that while most of them contain a grain of truth, they are all slanted to one point of view or another. None, and I repeat none, of them is entirely true. Remember as well that for every candidate who is savaged, there are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters and friends whose hides are tender and whose feelings are hurt for the candidates they love. 

    Is it any wonder that both Democrats and Republicans struggle to recruit strong, attractive and qualified candidates when what is being asked of those people is to put themselves and their families through the public meat grinder? Why would an able, respectable and upwardly mobile person put himself or herself through a vicious political campaign when a more cordial and likely more lucrative option is available?

    Is this why we talk about the lowest common denominator?


    Who wudda thought it?

    Now that Americans can go back to our regular lives watching TV commercials for products not candidates, we can also feel better about our use of social media, including Facebook. Since social media came into our lives a decade or so ago, doomsayers have shrieked loudly about its negative effects on our physical health, mental health, relationships, self esteem, time management, even our financial wellbeing. 

    Some of that is surely true for some of us, especially those who cannot seem to tear ourselves away from gizmo screens, but there is some positive news as well, including a longer life. A study published recently in PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the favorable health effects of a virtual social life are much the same as those of a face-to-face social life. 

    The study dealt with information from 12 million social media profiles made available by Facebook, so there was plenty of data. Study authors write, “We find that people with more friends online are less likely to die than their disconnected counterparts. This evidence contradicts assertions that social media have a negative impact on health.” Scientists have long known that strong personal relationships encourage longevity, and it seems that may be true in the virtual world as well.

    I          that!

  • Pub PenThe election season is what I’m referring to. We all suffered through it. The hate. The accusations. The loss of dignity for the country and the frustrations of the American people. Believe me, no one suffered from election fatigue more than me. The TV and radio political commercials flooding the air waves and the thousands of political emails from every candidate under the sun running for every office you can imagine locally, statewide and nationally was overwhelming. It was crazy! Crazy! My thumbs are sore from toggling back and forth from MSNBC and Fox News trying to determine what was news and what information was factual, truthful and honest.  

    What also made the 2016 election season excessively stressful was the amount of negativity that permeated at all levels. For many Americans, the barrage of mean and hateful rhetoric made it extremely difficult to determine who was telling the truth or who was advocating for the American people rather than for themselves. To hear these politicians tell it, everyone is a liar, everyone is a cheater and everyone is crooked and unethical. Everyone, except themselves of course. 

    It has become sad and even ludicrous that our election process has deteriorated to this level. It surely creates a barrier of entry to decent, well-meaning people who would like to serve their communities and country in the political arena.  Who wants to throw their hat in the ring knowing the hate and ill will that will likely result from their desire to serve and make a difference? An honest debate and exchange of ideas over differing philosophies and beliefs is one thing. Name calling and personal attacks are quite another and something many citizens who care deeply about their communities, states and country don’t care to endure.

    Well, it’s over for now, and we are moving forward. At least, I hope we are. I care most about this community and what kind of leadership Fayetteville and Cumberland County can expect in the crucial years ahead. Our local trends in education, population growth, retention, business and economic development and cultural enrichment programs are drastically lagging behind other North Carolina counties. Why? Leadership. Or, more specifically, lack of leadership.  Locally, we desperately need political leaders who can address problems, identify needs, generate ideas and create excitement - the kind of excitement that comes from aggressive imaginative thinking, “getting the job done”, and then celebrating the accomplishment. The few aggressive leaders we do have get bogged down with minutiae caused by those whose only talent was knowing how to get elected. These placeholders seldom have ideas or solutions, and when they do they have no feasible plan to move that idea forward.

    The good news is that all may be changing in our community very soon. There is a movement afoot led by responsible and concerned local residents to bring important issues and quality-of-life venues to the forefront and to get them in front of our local government officials in the hope they, too, will see the vision of what our community needs and deserves, thus creating a vision of what Fayetteville/Cumberland County could be and should be. 

    We deserve it. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • COVEREight decades ago, the world was a different place. A gallon of gas cost 10 cents, the average cost for house rent $22 per month, a loaf of bread was 8 cents and the average new car price was $625. Since then, the world has changed greatly. One thing, though, has not changed and that is Community Concerts’ commitment to deliver top-notch entertainment to Fayetteville. And the organization has done just that, every season — for 81 years. 

    While there was some rescheduling after the original lineup was announced for the year due to a tour cancellation, that turned out to be a good thing. With another first-rate lineup in store, this year is set to deliver six concerts with Vince Gill opening the season. “This show is Friday, Nov. 11. It is Veterans Day. We want all active duty service members and veterans to come out. We will do a special tribute to our vets,” said Community Concerts Attractions Director Michael Fleishman. “And the last time we had Vince Gill here was for our 75th anniversary season. We had Vince and Amy and sold it out. He is an unbelievable performer.”

    Vince Gills’s music career started 40 years ago in 1976 when he joined Pure Prairie League. He released Turn Me Loose in 1984, The Things That Matter in 1985 and The Way Back Home in 1987 before releasing his breakthrough hit “When I Call Your Name,” in 1990. The song won the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year in addition to a GRAMMY Award. Seventeen CMA  awards and 20  GRAMMYs later, Gill is still going strong.  He’s received eight Academy of Country Music awards, including the Home Depot Humanitarian Award and the 2011 Career Achievement Award. In 2007, Gill was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  He’s a member of the Grand Ole Opry and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He recently performed on stage at The 50th Annual CMA Awards with fellow former CMA Entertainer of the Year winners Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Charley Pride, Reba and George Strait.

    On Jan. 20, The Beach Boys bring a taste of summer to break up the winter chill. “This is one of the most iconic groups of all time,” said Fleishman. “It’s a show you don’t want to miss.”

    On Feb. 20, Popovich Pet Comedy takes the stage. This family-friendly show is a first for Community Concerts. “We’ve added, for the first time ever, a special attraction. It is the number one family show in Vegas,” said Fleishman. “The guy that runs it, Gregory Popovich, is considered one of the best physical comedians on the planet. He has taken rescue animals and made a circus with them. He’s been on all the late night shows and won all kinds of awards. Part of the reason we decided to do this is because this is a family show. This show starts at a different time to make it even more kid-friendly. Parents and kids will both love this show. We are just trying to keep it fresh and we have always wanted to do something special like this for the kids.”

    Foreigner is next in the series and is scheduled for Feb. 25. According to Fleishman, concert-goers are in for a surprise at this show. The Music Hall of Fame inductees will be announced, but there is more. “Foreigner took a very long time to book. It is a very big show,” said Fleishman. “Foreigner is rock royalty. That is a show with a lot of surprises. Don’t be surprised if you see a choir on stage in the middle of a rock show.”

    On March 18, The Ten Tenors, one of Australia’s most popular entertainment groups, takes the stage. This replaces the Four Tenors concert previously scheduled. “Things like this happen on occasion, but we got a bigger, better show and everyone will love it,” said Fleishman. “They have played for millions. This is a truly talented group.  They do everything from classical to Queen. This season we have more hits that we ever had before, if you add them all up.”

    Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles closes the season on April 11. “Rain is a very special show. It played Broadway and is more than a tribute concert,” said Fleishman. “It is a  note-for-note recreation of the Beatles sound and one of the best light shows you will ever see - ever. This isn’t just guys up on stage singing. We take production values very seriously when we put on a show. You won’t see people coming out and sitting on a stool and playing a guitar. We don’t put on concerts. We put on shows.”

  • spaghettiWhen many people think of pasta, Italy instantly comes to mind. Noodles have a history dating back thousands of years, but according to history.com, the first written record of a tomato sauce and pasta recipe is from a French cookbook published in 1797. It wasn’t until the 1800s that Italians added tomatoes to their diet on a large scale. Pasta has a place in American history as well because farmers in the 1920s used pasta as a marketing campaign for wheat. During the Great Depression, pasta became a staple in households because it was filling and inexpensive. Here in Fayetteville, though, say the word “spaghetti” and most people think Greek because for more than half a century, the local Greek congregation has served this delicious dish as a fundraiser.Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church presents the 58th annual spaghetti dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. 

    For days leading up to the spaghetti dinner, volunteers labor in the kitchen making both pasta and pastries. The recipe is the same as the one that was used for the first spaghetti dinner. “We serve about 10,000-12,000 boxes of spaghetti, and the city knows about us because we have been very consistent,” said Litsa DaRosa, secretary of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church. 

     “This thing started over 50 years ago and is a fundraiser for the church,” said John Bantsolas, president of Parrish Council. “It started out small as an eat-in dinner and it evolved into carryout.” Bantsolas added that not only do they sell spaghetti, the ladies prepare homemade Greek pastries that people can purchase when they come in. 

     The funds raised this year will be used for various organizations such as the local Red Cross, Autism Society of Cumberland County, Second Harvest Food Bank, Boys and Girls Club, Vision Resource Center, The Salvation Army and others. “The money also helps our church,” said DaRosa. 

    “We invite everyone to come out and enjoy a spaghetti dinner,” said Bantsolas. 

    The cost of the spaghetti box is $7. For more information call 484-8925. 

    Did you know?

    Italy produces almost 3.5 million tons of pasta a year. The U.S. produces about 2 million tons. 

    The U.S. consumes 2.7 million tons of pasta while Italy consumes about 1.5 million tons.

    Pasta was first referenced in a book in 1154, but it is believed that the Chinese were eating pasta as early as 5,000 B.C.

    There are more than 600 types of pasta. The three most popular are penne, spaghetti and macaroni.

    Dried pasta doubles in size when it is cooked.

    Many give Thomas Jefferson credit for bringing macaroni to the U.S. after he tried the dish in Naples, Italy and fell in love with it. 

    The first American pasta factory was in Brooklyn, New York. It opened in 1848.


  • whenpigsfly  Communities in Schools presents the fifth annual When Pigs Fly All-American BBQ Festival on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 11 a.m. -6 p.m. in Festival Park. 

     “When Pigs Fly is our signature fundraiser and annual BBQ competition,” said Charlie Horman, executive director for Communities in Schools for Cumberland County. “It is our sanctioned BBQ contest and we are sanctioned by the Carolina BBQ League and we follow their rules and procedures.” 

     The two-day event begins on Friday and the public is invited to attend the event on Saturday. 

    “The BBQ team rolls in on Friday morning and they set up camp in Festival Park,” said Horman. 

    “There is a judge’s meeting that discusses all the rules of the competition and then they head back to their individual campsites to begin cooking.” Horman added that the participants cook their barbecue through the evening and into the night. There are two divisions this year. The “Whole Hog” division features whole hogs cooked over charcoal or wood. The “Pitmaster”  division is broken down into three categories: butts, ribs and chicken. These can be cooked using any heat source.

     “This year we are doing a taster’s choice component in which the public can pay to taste the barbecue,” said Horman. “The public wanted access to what the teams were cooking so we are excited that this is the first year of adding the tasting component.” 

     Four bands will provide entertainment for the event. The Parsons hail from Grays Creek and have a repertoire that relies heavily on guitars, banjos and mandolins. Clydes Cabin, Lotus Sun and Machine Funk (Widespread Panic Tribute band) are also scheduled to perform.

    Vendors will be on-site. Beer will be available for purchase.  “This festival is about good music and the celebration of barbecue in North Carolina,” said Horman.  “We welcome everyone to come out and participate in the event.” 

    Proceeds benefit Communities in Schools of Cumberland County, which has been in operation for 12 years. “The fundraiser is how we pay for the folks who work in our schools,” said Horman. “We are the county’s best kept secret and we work with some of the community’s most vulnerable students.” Horman added that they work with the students to keep them on track to stay in school and be successful in life. 

    In 2013/2014, Communities in Schools gave $28,000 in grants to teachers in Cumberland County. It paid $4,500 for third graders in Cumberland County to attend a Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra concert. CIS funded the $5,000 teacher of the year cash awards and teacher appreciation gifts. Programming for after school clubs and career and college access plans received $30,000 from the organization. A scholorship for $1,500 came from CIS coffers as well. For the 2013/2014 school year, CIS served 21,617 Cumberland County students.

     No outside food or beverages allowed at the event. Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased at www.cisofcumberland.org. For more information call 221-8800. 

  • symposiumOn Nov. 17, Methodist University is set to host the Second Annual Reeves School of Business Symposium and Awards Dinner at Embassy Suites Fayetteville/Fort Bragg. This event is a combination of the previous Center for Entrepreneurship’s Fall Symposium and Spring Entrepreneurial Leadership Summit. 

    “I love this event,” said Methodist University Center for Entrepreneurship Assistant Director Pam Biermann. “It brings community leaders together to join with Methodist University in sharing our desire to build up our community through guest speakers to give us new ideas and foster collaboration with each other. This year we are adding an hour of networking. The event is from 6:30-8:30 p.m., but we are opening the doors at 5:30 p.m.”

    Jeremy Miller, author of Sticky Brandingis the keynote speaker. His speech is titled “Sticky Branding: How to Win When the Rules Keep Changing.” Miller’s knowledge on this topic comes from firsthand experience. 

    When his family’s business nearly failed, Miller took a hard look at the way they did business. He found the problem was not the people or the processes; it was the brand. Since then, Miller and his team have studied hundreds of companies to learn how businesses grow brands that people recognize and remember, or “sticky brands” in Miller’s terms. He’s spent more than a decade conducting research and helping businesses develop their own sticky brands.

     “Our keynote speech is on a topic I don’t think we have ever covered — and that is branding. Marketing has changed so much over the past 20 years. A lot of businesses are struggling with how to have a brand that people will remember long term and seek when they need your service,” said Biermann. “The traditional sales staff idea doesn’t work like it used to — even social media is limited in what it can do for a business. Jeremy Miller offers interesting insights. He asked to be in contact with some business leaders in town that he could interview. He called and talked to them about advantages and challenges of the local business community and is customizing his talk to that.”

    The keynote speech is just one part of the evening’s programming though. Seven people will be honored. The event website explains the awards to be presented that evening, which include: the Alumni Business Person of the Year, which goes to a Methodist University graduate; Entrepreneur of the Year, which goes to a risk-taker in the free enterprise system: a person who sees an opportunity and then devises strategies to achieve specific objectives; the Business Person of the Year, which goes to an executive for their contributions to the local business community as well as the civic and cultural community. The Greater Good Award is given to a professional who has shown kindness, charity, humanity, love, and friendship to his/her associates The Small Business Excellence Award will go to a business with fewer than 300 people that generates less than $15 million a year. Other things considered for this award include the creativity of the business, the uniqueness of the product, the employees’ welfare and the contributions of the business to its community. The Silver Spoon honoree is someone who has originated and built a successful business recognized for its uniqueness in planning, production, or some other aspect of its operation. The Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur must be a North Carolina resident who owns, has established, or manages a small business. The Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award committee will also consider the individual’s creativity, innovativeness and personal contributions to and involvement with the community.

    To find out more about the event or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.methodist.edu/rsb-symposium.

  • foodThe 2016 Community Homeless & Hunger Stand Down Planning Committee presents the annual Homeless & Hunger Stand Down on Friday, Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. at the VFW Post 6018 located at 116 Chance St. in downtown Fayetteville.   

     “This event was established about 15 years ago by the Human Relations Commission,” said Crystal Moore-McNair, coordinator of the 2016 Community Homeless & Hunger Stand Down. “At that time, things were going on in our community, such as study circles, and they were trying to plan an event in which all different faiths could plan together as one to give back to the community.” Moore-McNair added that this is the 16th annual year with a couple of name changes during the past few years.  

    The stand down will include free haircuts, clothing, lunch, flu shots by Walgreens’ Skibo Pharmacy, personal hygiene kits, prescription assistance, job placement assistance, health and dental screenings, veteran assistance from the VA Medical Center, housing assistance, educational assistance, affordable health care and much more.  A prayer tent has been added this year for prayer and counseling. Better Health will conduct blood pressure screenings. The Salvation Army will provide the hot meal. Second Harvest Food Bank will be on hand to provide bags of groceries for individuals in need. Cape Fear Regional Bureau will perform HIV/AIDS testing. Different agencies will be on hand to share their knowledge and services to participants. “There is a whole lot going on and many things will be happening on that day,” said Moore-McNair. “We need volunteers to help us with the event this year.”          

    The mission of this project entails an organized effort of community representatives working together to provide health and human service access to Cumberland County residents in need. There are 35 agencies that participate annually with the Stand Down. Last year the event served over 350 veterans and 300 Cumberland County residents. This year’s goal is to serve over 1,100 Cumberland County residents. “We are expecting more people this year due to the disaster of Hurricane Matthew,” said Moore-McNair. “There will be more people in need of these services.”     

     “I look forward to doing this event every year,” said Moore-McNair. “It is a joy to assist people in need.” 

    To donate nonperishable food, deliver it to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Free bus transportation will be provided by Fast Transit to and from the event. Checks can be made payable to Community Homeless & Hunger Stand Down at P.O. Box 303, Fayetteville, NC 28302. For more information, how to donate or to volunteer, email Crystal at crystalmcnair@unitedway-cc.org or call 483-1179.    

  • jeff6The City of Fayetteville has a new tool it can use to rein in loitering. City Police Attorney Michael Parker came across a state statute that’s been on the books for more than 30 years. G.S.14-275.1 governs disorderly conduct at bus or railroad stations and airports. 

    Until recently, City Attorney Karen McDonald believed the city could not enforce loitering laws because of long standing Supreme Court decisions. The statute says in part that “Any person shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor if such person while at or upon the premises of any bus station, depot or terminal shall engage in disorderly conduct, or … without having necessary business there loiter and loaf after being requested to leave by any peace officer or by any person lawfully in charge of such premises.” 

    Officials say discovery of this state law is significant. The Center for Problem-Solving Policing notes courts have held that laws that specify places where panhandling is not allowed are constitutional. This statute is being added to the police blue book of enforceable city ordinances and state statutes, said Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer. It should be a “helpful tool in combatting loitering should problems develop at the new downtown FAST bus terminal now under construction,” he said. A city ordinance prohibits panhandling in the downtown area. Officials believe it should help prevent street people from begging at or near the new transit center. 

    “Officers have zero tolerance for the violation” in the downtown area, said police spokesman, Lt. Todd Joyce. “Officers assigned to downtown patrol will include the new bus terminal in their normal patrol functions,” he added. 

    Transit Director Randy Hume says construction of the center is expected to be completed by January. Safety and security have been top of mind for city officials. Five exterior surveillance cameras monitored by police are to be installed around the transit center, and there will be 30 cameras inside the building, said Hume. 

    Two security guards will be on duty from 5 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily, with one guard during the overnight hours. They will be equipped with two-way radios. Because Greyhound Lines will be moving its terminal operation from Person Street to the FAST Transit Center, it will share in operational costs of security and maintenance. The issue of vagrancy and loitering in and around the Greyhound station is not something city officials believe will be transferred to the new location off Russell and Robeson Streets. 

    “There are two distinct issues here,” said Bauer, “poverty and behavior.” Being poor is not unconstitutional, he said, whereas behaving badly can be. He notes the Person Street bus station is in an area where behaviors have been an issue. A police survey determined that the area of downtown where the FAST Center is located has not been a problem spot. Its location adjacent to police headquarters should also help deter crime.

  • jef5 Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend is the seventh American general since 2003 to assume command of war operations in Iraq. Townsend left his command of XVIII Airborne Corps and Ft. Bragg in August to become commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. His objective is to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) while simultaneously diffusing the region’s ethnic and religious conflicts that have drawn in nearly every major country across Europe and the Middle East. He heads coalition forces in the battle for Mosul. Then he must pursue ISIS into Syria, where the U.S. has few allies on the ground, and negotiate a highly complex battlefield. 

    Military analysts say Townsend is overseeing a shift from conventional warfare to a mission dependent upon unconventional U.S military advisors and foreign troops. He has the help of the four star general who has spent much of his career in special operations. Former Special Operations commander Gen. Charles Votel is now in charge of Central Command, which has American military oversight of Middle East operations. He has emphasized the need for special operations forces to work hand-in-hand with traditional forces. Yet only 300 American special forces have been advising the Syrian Democratic Front (SDF) in the fight against ISIS. The coalition force of 30,000 is mainly made up of Kurdish troops and a sizable Syrian-Arab contingent. In Washington, Townsend faces historic uncertainty and a new Commander-in-Chief in January. 

    One of his diplomatic challenges is Kurdish forces being used in an offensive on Raqqa, a sensitive matter for neighboring Turkey, which is wary of a strong Kurdish military presence on its border. A power struggle has played out in public as Townsend vowed to march on Raqqa with Kurdish forces regardless of Turkey’s opposition. “Turkey doesn’t want to see us operating with the SDF anywhere, particularly in Raqqa,” Townsend acknowledged in a press briefing. But, he added, “we think there’s an imperative to get isolation in place around Raqqa because our intelligence feeds tell us that there is significant external attack planning going on” there. The U.S. also depends on Turkey for use of Incirlik Air Base, a hub for U.S. air operations near its southern border. 

    Townsend did say the isolation of Raqqa would be primarily undertaken by non-Kurdish Syrian forces. He believes there are currently enough of those fighters available to begin encircling the city soon. But he anticipates that the battle for Raqqa will take longer than the current battle for Mosul given that anti-ISIS partners in Syria do not have the resourcing available to the Iraqi military. Townsend says the timing of the offensive to retake Raqqa was not precipitated by the potential of an overseas terror plot although that concerns him. “We want to pressure Raqqa so that the enemy doesn’t have a convenient place to go,” said Townsend

  • jeff1Fayetteville Recreation and Parks Director Michael Gibson says he hopes construction on some of the projects approved in a $35 million parks bond referendum earlier this year will get underway by Feb. 1. The first bond issuance of approximately $8 million will provide for construction of four of the seven splash pads approved in the referendum. They should be ready for use by May 1. Also among the initial projects are improvements to Brentwood School Park, Clark Park, Dorothy Gilmore Center, Massey Hill Recreation Center, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Mazerick Park and Seabrook Park. The west side senior center at Lake Rim and the downtown Fayetteville Skateboard Park are included as well. All the referendum projects must be completed within seven years, although it will take much longer for the bond debt to be paid back. Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Spivey told the committee that tax funds raised by the referendum will run out in 2040. Councilman Jim Arp noted that at that time the three-cent property tax increase approved by voters should be rescinded. Councilman Bill Crisp commented that taxes are never reduced. He later said the city would have a moral obligation to consider cutting the tax.


    jeff2Fayetteville Storm Debris Update

    Collection of storm-related construction debris resulting from Hurricane Matthew continues across the city. As of this writing, more than 125 truckloads of debris have been collected. A private contractor has four trucks and crews now picking up household yard debris, including trees, limbs and the like. Based on experience resulting from the 2011 tornado, the city had a contract in place with a vendor who was prepared to help with disaster relief. “We will continue to pick up debris across the city until it is all removed, whether by the vendor or by city vehicles,” said James Rhodes, interim Environmental Services director. FEMA will cover up to 75 percent of all storm-related debris collection by the city. State government is expected to help with the other 25 percent. Residents are asked to place their storm debris as close to the curb as possible, keeping it out of the street where possible. Residents should also keep the various types of debris separated since different vehicles are picking up the various types of debris. 



    jeff3What About the People?

    Cumberland County’s last emergency shelter, which was housed at Westover Recreation Center, closed last week. More than 11,000 residents applied for Disaster Food and Nutrition Benefits at the Department of Social Services Oct. 22-26. When combined with the more than 8,000 replacement food stamp affidavits submitted since Oct. 8, the department has assisted almost 20,000 residents affected by the hurricane. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) revised the hours for the Disaster Recovery Center at the DSS offices on Ramsey Street. The new hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m-7 p.m. Residents who suffered losses and damage can get information about state and federal assistance at the center, which is staffed by representatives of FEMA, N.C. Emergency Management and the U.S. Small Business Administration.





    jeff4Cumberland County Rabies Clinic

    The Health Department will hold a fall rabies vaccination clinic for dogs and cats on Nov. 12 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the parking lot of the Public Health Center on Ramsey Street. The cost is $10 per pet. The clinic, originally scheduled for Oct. 8, was postponed because of Hurricane Matthew. North Carolina requires that “the owner of every dog and cat over four months of age shall have the animal vaccinated against rabies.” Owners of dogs and cats that have not been properly vaccinated are subject to a civil penalty of $100. Dogs and cats initially must receive two rabies vaccinations one year apart. Thereafter, vaccination boosters are due every three years.





  • jason Important policy issues are taking a back seat.

    Among them is securing our borders. It’s the topic that got The Donald through the primary and onto the presidential stage. Hillary didn’t make much of a deal about it. Let’s face it; a big, beautiful wall (Donald’s words) paid for by Mexico is a bit much to comprehend.

    The issue here is not about the 12 million illegal aliens already in the US. They are integrated into our economy and culture. That’s way too complicated for me. What’s not complicated but just as important are the daily incursions across our borders. They include illegal immigrants, drug smugglers, and sometimes human traffickers.

    It’s a dangerous situation for Border Patrol agents and for illegals. In fiscal 2015 violators assaulted 378 Border Patrol agents.

    It happened on Oct. 31 in Calexico, Ca. A Border Patrol agent saw someone climbing over the fence. When he tried to arrest him he got punched in the face. It also happened a week earlier. A Border Patrol agent tried to arrest a man coming over the fence. Someone on the Mexican side threw a chunk of concrete hitting the agent on the shoulder.

    It’s not all scuffles and handcuffs.

    Agents rescued 2,183 immigrants during 2015. Another 240 died. Heat stroke, dehydration and hyperthermia are the top killers. Agents scouring the desert in a helicopter recently rescued a man bitten by a venomous snake and suffering from heat exhaustion. He recovered.

    Some are lucky. Take for example a 4-year-old El Salvadorian girl shot last August. She and her mother traveled through Mexico toward the U.S. border. A Mexican pistol-wielding robber stopped their train. The robber’s pistol discharged and struck the girl in the shoulder when he pistol-whipped another victim.

    She did get patched up but spent the night in a filthy “stash house” along the border. Luckily, U.S. Border Patrol agents spotted her and took the girl to a hospital.

    While most of the news about illegal incursions is along the southern border, incursions also come from our coastal and northern borders.

    The Border Patrol apprehended 337,117 people coming into the U.S. illegally in 2015. The Border Patrol listed 148,995 of them other than Mexican.

    It also seized a variety of drugs:

    •1.5 million pounds of marijuana

    •11,220 pounds of cocaine

    •8,282 ounces of heroine

    •6,443 pounds of meth

    •158 pounds of Ecstasy (mostly along the U.S./Canadian border)

    •101 pounds of “other” drugs.

    The last category included the powerful synthetic opioid painkiller known as Fentanyl.

    Agents also stopped 375 guns and roughly 14,000 rounds of ammunition from coming into the U.S.

    So, while our country remains split over who is the least offensive presidential candidate, people are dying in the desert, agents are being pummeled with rocks, and for every pound of illegal drugs stopped at the border, you can be sure another pound is making its way to the U.S. heartland.

  • pittWho won? When both of my readers skim this column, they will know the results of the presidential election. This stain upon world literature is scribbled one week before the election in the foggy dew of uncertainty. Once the election results become final, half the country is going to be happy as a barrel of drunken clams. The other half is going to be enraged. This doesn’t sound like an outcome devoutly to be wished for America. Unfortunately, stuff happens. If Hillary wins, The Donald will fuss and moan piteously about the election being rigged and refuse to concede. If The Donald wins, Hillary will give a grudging concession speech and huddle with her advisors to get ready to run again in the 2020 presidential election. Whatever the result of the election, neither The Donald nor the Clintons are ever going to go away until Time’s Winged Chariot calls them home to their reward.

    While I cannot predict the winner of the election, I can with 100 percent certainty point out the losers of the election. The biggest losers are our old buddy James Comey and the FBI. Big Jim is the current and likely temporary head of the FBI who dropped his Hillary Email Bomb Letter eight days before the election. Big Jim managed to torque off The Donald with his original non-indictment of Hillary in July. Jim then turned on Hillary with his toxic Eight Day Letter intimating that Huma’s email could mean the Big House instead of the White House for Hillary. The Donald’s supporters went from cursing the very ground upon which Big Jim slithered upon when he made his first speech explaining why he didn’t charge Hillary to heaping praise on him for his Eight Day letter. Hillary’s supporters pirouetted from praising Big Jim’s honesty, judgment and parentage for not charging Hillary to calling him ugly names for attempting to sway the election in Trump’s favor by releasing his Eight Day letter.

    Those of you of a certain age may recall a 1964 political paranoia movie called Seven Days in May. There are certain parallels with Big Jim’s Eight Day letter and Seven Days in May. In the movie, the president signed a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Commies. The treaty is highly controversial. The president’s political opponents and the military are strongly opposed to the treaty because, after all, who can trust the Commies? It turns out the Joint Chiefs of Staff are so opposed to the treaty they decide to stage a military coup and toss the president and the Constitution into the flaming dumpster of history. In order to save the Constitution, it was necessary to destroy the Constitution. Big Jim is playing the part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in our current election. Let us hope the aftermath of this election will not be as ugly as in Seven Days in May. 

    The dazzling metamorphosis of Big Jim from hero to goat, depending on whether you are a Donald or Hillary fan, as Larry David would say was, “Pretty, pretty dramatic.” It reminded me of the old sayings about our bovine friend, the ox. Reality depends solely upon whose ox has fallen into the ditch. If Big Jim’s Eight Day letter pushed Hillary’s ox into the ditch, The Donald is one happy dumpster fire. If Big Jim’s non-indictment of Hillary pushed The Donald’s ox into the ditch, Hillary is free to resume ignoring the rules from the Oval Office. Another ox parable states that reaction to events depends on whose ox was gored. If your ox is gored, that’s okay. My ox gets gored? Not okay. Al Gore’s ox got gored in Florida when the Supreme Court appointed Bush president. Al took it like a trouper and didn’t create a constitutional crisis saying: “Thank you, Mr. 5 to 4 decision, may I have another?” 

    Pondering bovine wisdom got me thinking deeply about the mystical power of the letters O and X. Why is this combination of letters so powerful? What does Ollie, Ollie oxen free mean? Paul Bunyan’s pet, Babe the Blue Ox is clearly a Democrat. The way many people relieve pain and become addicted to Big Pharma’s drugs is through Oxycotin and Oxycodone. The letters used in Tic, Tac, Toe are O and X. Coincidence? I think not. As Bob Dylan, the Nobel Laureate, sang: “There is something happening here, and you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?”

    What is the difference between an ox and a cow? This leads to a vegan concern about what is the difference between a yam and a sweet potato.Would an ox by any other name smell as sweet? Cowabunga! Will no one rid me of this meddlesome election?

  • margaret…Are you a happy person?

    I am not talking about every single moment of every single day. We all have our every day frustrations, such as my current ones—an icemaker that has gone on vacation and a bathroom ceiling that needs repair. I am talking about overall satisfaction with life in the place where we live, North Carolina.

    Apparently, most of us are. 

    McClatchy, the company that publishes North Carolina’s two largest newspapers, the News and Observer and the Charlotte Observer as well as several smaller papers, recently published an analysis of quality of life in our state, and North Carolina stacks up not perfectly but pretty darn well compared to residents of some other states. McClatchy reporters Anna Douglas and David Raynor used data from various sources to look at large factors that contribute to our ability to land jobs and to get to those jobs. Personal health and safety obviously play into our happiness and satisfaction with life as well.

    As I write this, I am also checking email and texts and—truth be told—doing a bit of online shopping. All this, including zapping my column into the good folks at Up & Coming Weekly, requires an internet connection, something I often take for granted. Turns out that most North Carolinians do have internet access at home, about four out of five of us according to U.S. Census figures. This is slightly below the national average but higher than it was after the 2010 Census. The other 21 percent of us do not have internet, however, a significant disadvantage. Sometimes Internet access is unavailable particularly in rural areas, and sometimes people do not subscribe to it, but whatever the reason, lack of internet means people cannot search for job opportunities online, cannot work from home in today’s economy and cannot enroll in online education. They are shut out from the technological world most of us live in and expect.

    North Carolina, like states across the nation, is increasingly urban and suburban, which brings advantages and longer commutes to work. But those of us who drive to work in North Carolina have shorter commutes than folks elsewhere across the nation, including our neighbors in Virginia and Georgia. U.S. Census data finds our average commute is 24 minutes, up from 20 years ago, but below the national average of 26 minutes. Still, it is a reason that Tar Heel cities are exploring mass transit options on the theory that traffic congestion will get worse, not better.

    We are all enjoying our lovely fall weather with its crisp air and clear blue skies. One reason we love being outside this time of year is that North Carolina has reduced our air pollution of nitrogen oxide by half since the early 2000s. This gas comes largely from motor vehicles emissions, and reduction in its levels is in large part due to the North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act of 2002. But guard your lung health by keeping an eye on the General Assembly, which has tried to roll back emission standards. Again, mass transit can play a role here.

    More good news for North Carolinians.

    Both property crime and violent crime are down, the first reduced by about 45 percent since 1995 and the latter down by 46 percent over the same period. If you have been the victim of either kind of crime, these numbers may not speak to you, but they are still good news for most of us. Community policing and advances in forensic technology probably account for some of the decreases. On the flip side, however, drug abuse is on the climb, devastating families in countless ways. North Carolina joins the rest of the nation in this increase, coming in second in the South in drug overdose deaths. Stunningly, more people die in our state from drug overdoses than from vehicle accidents. Clearly, there is work to be done in this area all across our nation.

    Whether we are Tar Heels born or got here as soon as we could, North Carolina is not among the fastest growing states in our nation for no reason. Decades ago, state boosters promoted “Variety Vacationland,” stressing our beautiful coast and majestic mountains and the urban centers in between. It has become truer and truer, as we have tried to nurture our natural assets and build newer ones. None of our blessings just happened, though, and we protect them only by paying attention to what our elected officials are up to at every level. 

    Whether you are elated or appalled by the outcome of Nov. 8, it is incumbent on each of us to pay attention and to participate in public decision-making. I am thankful to live in North Carolina and want it to get better and better.

  • pubpenNo doubt history teacher Lee Francis used poor judgment when he stomped on Old Glory in front of 29 Massey Hill Classical High School students to demonstrate how the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protects our right to freedom of expression. Not a smart idea. However, we are a forgiving community with a competent school board with many trained, experienced, forward-thinking administrators quite capable of handling such bazaar behavior. For this, we are thankful, though sometimes I feel these dedicated educational leaders go mostly unappreciated. Unfortunately, this situation initially could have been dismissed as “poor judgment” and settled with a simple and humble apology from Mr. Francis. Instead, the incident escalated into a nationwide embarrassment for our community while possibly exposing hidden agendas that can only be described as calculated and self-serving. After all, one of the very first things Francis did was lawyer up and start sounding off to the media. Not necessarily the heartfelt behavior of someone who is repentant or desires to educate and teach children about American history or our inherent First Amendement rights. 

    To his credit, Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Frank Till Jr. is recommending to the Board of Education a 10-day suspension without pay. However, Francis says he’s not going back to the classroom, nor does he want to teach in Cumberland County. Oh, well! See ya later, Gator! And, good riddance. Such behavior is not acceptable and cannot be justified under any circumstance. 

    Children need to be aware of and taught their constitutional rights. To this, I agree. Matter of fact, if emphasizing and demonstrating free speech and the right to freedom of expression were the major objectives of this class, then all Francis had to do was turn on the TV to Fox News or MSNBC and let the students watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go at each other with their disgraceful and never-ending barrage of accusations and insults. This would demonstrate that the First Amendment protects this kind of behavior. They could witness up close and personal the kind of behavior that is protected by our Constitution. A clever teacher could even mix in a character education lesson with an emphasis on honor, honesty, truthfulness, caring, trustworthiness, fairness, responsibility and, most of all, respect. You remember, the same character traits that are being taught to our children in K – 6 grades. 

    My point is this, we have too many Lee Francises in America. Our country needs to get back to teaching and practicing the basics of civility. We need to teach by example. We need to be good role models for our young people. We are the ones responsible for setting the example for future generations. America needs to pay attention because we are losing our morality. This 2016 presidential election has demonstrated effectively that our nation has reached an all-time high in new lows. It is to this that Americans should all “take a knee.” 

    Lee Francis, is just an example of where we are now. The bright side of this unfortunate incident is that several students immediately got up and left the room in disgust taking the flag with them – a good sign that there is s

     hope for America. 

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly

  • COVERHeroes Homecoming is a celebration of America’s veterans. All of them. It’s how the community honors their sacrifices and bravery and how we say thank you for the freedom earned through their deeds and commitment. In a city that has sent hundreds of thousands of Americans to distant shores to serve and welcomed them home again, anything less would be a disservice to the dedicated men and women who answered their country’s call and carried out the will of the American people around the world. Heroes Homecoming features several events from Oct. 29 - Nov. 11 throughout the community.

    This year is the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. While Heroes Homecoming honors all veterans, this year it gives a special nod to the greatest generation. During World War II, more than 16 million Americans answered their country’s call. Now, there are fewer than 800,000 of these veterans among us. Almost 500 World War II veterans die every day. 

    “Heroes homecoming has been going on since 2010 when the community first honored the Vietnam veterans. After that, there was a lot of feedback about the need to honor the World War II vets because that generation is getting older. It is time. It is time to honor what these men and women did, and say thank you, because it is that generation that gave us so much. We wanted to do it before it was just too late,” said Angie Brady, Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau director of tourism.

    “These events all come out of a result of us wanting to preserve the legacy of this generation. One way to do that is through the live forever campaign. It is an offshoot of Heroes Homecoming,” said Brady. The campaign invited several World War II veteran to tell their stories. The campaign is partnering with Cumberland County Schools to help school age children understand what these vets did. “It is pretty moving. If you share your connection to World War II on social media and tag it with #operationlivesforever, it will populate on the website and by doing their stories, their legacies will continue to live on. You can find out more at www.Operationlivesforever.com.” 

    The Heroes Homecoming celebration kicked off on Oct. 29 at Eastover Heritage and Heroes. The Eastover Civic Club honored veterans with exhibits, food, vendors and music. The event combined a celebration of the town’s agricultural heritage along with its patriotism. 

    While America’s youth went to war in the 1940s, it meant changes at home, too. Everyone stepped up to fill in the gap. Americans tighten their belts and conserved resources wherever they could so that loved ones overseas would have what they needed. Things like gasoline and sugar were rationed. People who didn’t already do so started growing their own food. They held drives to raise money and to gather supplies to send to America’s soldiers. But they also carried on with their lives. Amidst the tension and concern there was still room for laughter. They took care of their families and friends. They socialized and danced. 
       On Nov. 3, the Arts Council presents A Sentimental Journey. It’s a night of World War II era swing dancing along with a look at what life in America was like during World War II. Capture the spirit of the 1940s with a night of fun-filled music and dance. Take notes as the emcee provides information about how to grow a healthy and fruitful Victory Garden, gives tips about how to stretch your resources (including sugar and butter rations) and offers news updates from the front. 

    More than 400,000 American service members died in the war and many more died from causes related to the effort. Worldwide it’s estimated that between 50 and 80 million died from World War II or from war-related disease and famine. And when the unthinkable happened, when the news came that a loved one had fallen, Americans buried their service members and mourned their losses. On Friday, Nov. 4, the Town of Spring Lake and the city of Fayetteville will each hold a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to America’s World War II heroes and veterans.  The Spring Lake Candlelight Tribute starts at 6:30 p.m. and is at Veterans Memorial Park. After the service, take a candlelit walk to the community recreation center for music, light refreshments and World War II exhibits. The Fayetteville Candlelight Vigil also starts at 6:30 p.m. The event starts at the Arts Council where everyone will meet for a walk to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum garden. At the garden, there will be a ceremony complete with speakers and music to honor World War II veterans and their service to our country.

    Nov. 5 is a busy day for Heroes Homecoming with the Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade at 10 a.m. followed by Mayor Nat Robertson’s proclamation to World War II veterans at noon. At 1:30 p.m. ASOM hosts a salute to the veterans with Vincent Speranza. It includes a discussion and book signing with the author and World War II vet. The 101st Airborne Division machine gunner at Bastogne shares his experiences and talks about his book.

    Hope Mills proclaims Nov. 6 as Greatest Generation Day with a flag displayed at Veterans Memorial Park for each World War II veteran from Hope Mills. Each flag will bear the name of a veteran along with their branch of service. This flag display lasts until Nov. 11. 

    On Nov. 11, Cape Fear Botanical Garden, in conjunction with its Nature Connects Art with LEGO Bricks exhibit, hosts Veterans Day at the Garden.  It features a mock LEGO Brick battle scene and an American flag build. The garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

    At 10 a.m. on Nov. 11, Spring Lake hosts a Veterans Day ceremony from 10 - 11 a.m. at the Town of Spring Lake Veterans Park. At 11 a.m. Eastover is set to dedicate a World War II monument as the Eastover Civic Club unveils the monument, which was made from the same granite as the World War II monument in Washington D.C. It’s at Eastover Community Center. Admission is free. At 3 p.m., Hope Mills honors veterans with a wreath laying ceremony at Hope Mills Recreation Center. Refreshments will be available after the ceremony. Admission is free. At 5 p.m., the ASOM Foundation hosts a POW/MIA ceremony to honor missing Americans and their families. Rolling Thunder North Carolina Chapter 1 will attend and host a Missing Man Table Ceremony. It will be followed by a flag retirement ceremony. Admission is free. 

    Cape Fear Regional Theatre hosts military appreciation nights on Nov. 11-13 with discounted ticket prices for military members.  Willian Shakespeare’s Henry Vtells the story of warriors, the brotherhood, the valor, the costs and consequences of war. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. Visit www.cfrt.org or call 323.4233 for information and tickets.

    Find out more about these events at www.heroeshomecoming.com.

  • BookKarl Merritt wrote a book based on his daddy’s life. It is called From the Rough Side of the Mountain. Karl will be at Sweet Palette on Nov. 15 for a book signing and meet and greet. 

     understand the book and why it matters, it is important to understand a little bit about Karl’s daddy. Karl is the oldest of Milton W. Merritt Sr.’s six children. 

    The world Milton grew up in was nothing like today’s world.  Milton’s dad (Karl’s grandfather) was a poor man. He was a sharecropper in rural Georgia where he and his wife and children worked the farm together to make ends meet. When Milton was 12, a man walked into his family’s home and shot his father dead. Milton’s mom was left with seven kids to raise, including Milton. 

    Fast forward several decades. Milton had served his country in World War II, he was college educated and he was a husband and a father. He’d been a building contractor, a pastor, a civil rights activist, a teacher and more. He overcame obstacles. He worked hard. He didn’t give up. He counted his blessings and pondered his decisions. Milton lived a full and exciting life, and he loved to share his experiences with others, especially if what he shared could help someone else. That could have been enough. Until it wasn’t. 

    “After a speaking engagement in Macon, Ga., several people came up to my dad and said, ‘you cannot carry this to your grave. You need to write it down,’” said Karl. He agreed to help tell his daddy’s story. For more than a decade, Karl recorded conversations with his father. He accumulated more than 20 hours worth of conversations, lessons, insights and memories. By now Milton’s health was failing. Still, Karl had not started on the book.

     Then Karl’s wife asked, “How will you feel if your daddy dies before you write this book?”

    She had the tapes transcribed. 

    Karl wrote the book. 

      “I went through and took pieces and made that the basis of each chapter,” said Karl. “One of the chapters is about friendship. My dad treasured friendships. I am more of a lover and I didn’t have those same experiences. I didn’t invest in friendships for a long time. I think that is the value of the book. It helps people live life to the fullest by looking at what he did right and never claiming to have done everything right.”

    Other chapters in the book include topics like determination to succeed, facing life’s disruptions, the power of example, family experience, making time to assist, genuine concern for others, taking advantage of opportunities and counting the cost of decisions. 

    The meet and greet is from 5-7 p.m. Not only is it an opportunity to meet Karl and learn more about From the Rough Side of the Mountain, the Up & Coming Weeklywriting team will be in attendance as well. Come share your opinions, suggestions and story ideas. Karl’s book is also available at City Center Gallery and Books. For more information, call 484-6200.

  • vday paradeThe Cumberland County Veterans Council is sponsoring the Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade scheduled for Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. in downtown Fayetteville.  The theme of this year’s parade is “Honoring our World War II Veterans – The Greatest Generation.” 

    Organizers said there will be more than 100 participants in the parade, including active duty military with military equipment, veterans’ organizations, ROTC units and marching bands from area high schools and universities. The parade is set to begin on Hay Street at the Airborne Special Operations Museum and end at Liberty Point on Person Street.

    “The Veterans Council is once again proud to sponsor this event with the City of Fayetteville,” said Mike Gillis, President of the Cumberland County Veterans Council and a retired Chief Warrant Officer. “The Veterans Council wanted to honor the veterans of World War II during this anniversary year.  This generation called ‘the Greatest Generation’ grew up in the great depression, went off to serve their country, and came home to help rebuild a nation into the world’s economic powerhouse.”

    Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth “Rock” Merritt will be the Grand Marshal of the parade.  Merritt is a World War II veteran who took part in the combat parachute jump into France on D-Day with the 82nd Airborne Division.  He served for 35 years, with 31 years spent on jump status.  

    While Merritt served in many capacities during his military career, he spent much of his time at Fort Bragg in the 82nd Airborne Division and the XVIII Airborne Corps, even twice serving as the Corps Command Sgt. Maj.  He began his military service with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment when it was at Camp Mackall.  During his career, Merritt served several overseas tours including Korea, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. 

    “I’ve marched in many parades, but never been the Grand Marshal of one,” Merritt said. Now 93 years old, Merritt retired from Fort Bragg in 1977 and decided to make Fayetteville his home.

    Merritt has received other honors for his military service, including the Silver Star.  After his retirement, Merritt made a point to stay connected to the men and women who continue to serve in uniform, often attending reunions and functions to share his experience and advice.  

    “I’ve been retired almost 40 years,” Merritt said. “And I’ve been talking to soldiers at Fort Bragg ever since.”

    Merritt, who makes it out to Fort Bragg about twice a week, is not hesitant about picking favorites.

    “My favorite soldier’s a squad leader – they have the toughest job in the Army,” Merritt said.  “General Omar Bradley told me to take care of them, even after I retire.”

    It is a charge the sergeant major has taken to heart. His service and commitment to young soldiers, especially those serving in the infantry, has not gone unnoticed.  Just last month, Merritt was presented with the Doughboy Award at Fort Benning, Georgia, the home of the U. S. Army infantry.  

    The Doughboy is presented each year to an individual in recognition of outstanding contributions to the infantry.  It is presented on behalf of all infantryman past and present.  “Doughboy” is the term coined while soldiers were preparing for World War I along the Rio Grande in Texas.  The troops would become covered in the dusty, white adobe soil.  Mounted troops called these infantrymen “adobes.” The term became “doughboys” over time.  The Doughboy Award is the highest honor the Chief of Infantry can bestow on any Infantryman.

    Merritt said he is honored to be asked to serve as Grand Marshal for the Veterans Day Parade in Fayetteville, an event he has enjoyed for years.  “I think it brings the community together,” he said.  “A lot of people look forward to it.”

    Parade organizers said Merritt’s connection to the community and his service make him an ideal choice for Grand Marshal duties.  

    “We are honored to have Command Sgt. Maj. ‘Rock’ Merritt serve as our Grand Marshal this year,” said Kirk deViere, Chairman of the Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade.  “Command Sgt. Maj. Merritt is the epitome of the ‘Greatest Generation’ - a man that is humble, who never brags about what he had done or been through. He is just a loyal patriot that gave so much for our country.”

     For those unable to attend the parade downtown, WRAL-TV will cover the parade live again this year.

    “This is one of the state’s finest parades and is dedicated to the generations of military men and women who have served us all so valiantly,” said WRAL-TV Vice President and General Manager Steven Hammel. “We are extremely honored to be a part of it.”

  • FLPLThe Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch inspires, educates, empowers and celebrates the lionesses in our community by bringing women together in a quarterly forum filled with opportunities to network, learn and shop all under one roof. At the November event, FLPL welcomes Dr. Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, president and CEO of Envision Consulting, LLC and the national vice president of The Links, Incorporated, as the keynote speaker.

    A graduate of Fayetteville State University with a degree in Psychology, Dr. Leonard continued her education at North Carolina Central University and Howard University, with a master’s degree in science and a Ph.D. in Psychology, respectively. Her career covers working as a senior research scientist at MayaTech Corporation where she conducted and presented research involving the substance abuse treatment of African-American adolescents followed by a brief period at the District of Columbia Department of Health with the Addiction Recovery Prevention Administration. Leonard then served as the Chief Operating Officer at the District of Columbia Department of Health, later moving to Envision Consulting, LLC where she currently serves as the president and CEO. 

    Serving as the national vice president of The Links, Incorporated, Leonard commits to giving back to her community in the areas of services to youth, the arts, national trends and services, and health and human services, benefitting African-Americans and people of African ancestry.  Founded in 1946, The Links, Incorporated, a non-profit, international organization, has chapters in 42 states with more than 13,000 members.

    Before and after the keynote speech, Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch attendees have many opportunities to get a head start on their shopping lists with the Shopportunity Expo. Vendors, representing small and medium-sized businesses, bring an array of goods and services to the Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch. To date, vendors include representatives from 6 Figure Girl Boss, Avon, Design By Training, LLC, Isagenix, Jamberry, Lilla Rose, LuLaRoe, Mary Kay, McKee Homes, McTails, Park Lane Jewelry, Perfectly Posh, Pure Romance, Ramada Plaza, Renaissance Spa, Rodan + Fields Dermatology, Small Frye Photography, Stella and Dot, Style Dots, Terry’s Originals, Thirty-One, Usborne Books & More, Victoria’s Esthetics and Ways to Wellness.

    The Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch offers Platinum, Gold, Silver and Hostess Table sponsorship packages. The sponsors for November are Biz Card Express of Fayetteville; The UPS Store in Westwood; Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop; Omni Plaza Movies, Games, and Golf; and Carolina Selfie Stand. The power lunch organizers appreciate the support from these businesses and welcome more companies to recognize the women who make a difference in the community.

    Support of the Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch, now in its sixth year, benefits the children and youth of Cumberland County schools. The Kidsville News Literacy and Education Foundation receives a portion of the proceeds. Kidsville News! is a monthly newspaper distributed at no charge to schools to support literacy in grades K -6. 

    Find out more about the Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch at http://www.fayettevilleladiespowerlunch.com/index.html

  • nickiThere is a play being set upon a stage, and on those planks, there is a fire that glows hot and unyielding.  The play is Henry V and it is the final show for Cape Fear Regional Theatre Artistic Director Tom Quaintance who is moving on to the position of artistic director at the Virginia Stage Company.  The show, directed by Quaintance, delivers a lesson that is in many ways recognizable in this community - no matter how much we might say we do not understand the words and stories that were penned and delivered with such stylistic flair by William Shakespeare.

    The story of war, leadership, love and brotherhood that is so prevalent and understood in our military community can be visualized and appreciated in this production. Montgomery Sutton, who plays Henry, rallies and rouses not only his army on stage, but also his army of an audience.  

    On opening night, Sutton delivered the lines of the great Henry with an ease and attitude that bring to mind many great leaders; for that is what Henry was, a fierce leader.  He led by example.  He physically situated himself amongst his troops, as opposed to the French army he was fighting against whose leaders were shouting out commands from the front lines with the soldiers behind them.  Great battles have been led not by leaders who charge by the front, but by leaders who are willing to get their hands dirty and fight side by side with their brothers.  Sutton shows us this side of Henry with bombastic servitude that shakes the stage to its foundations.  

    The following lines from the play were given by Sutton in almost religious fervor: “That he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart; his passport shall be made and crowns for convoy put into his purse.  We would not die in that man’s company that fears his fellowship to die with us.”  When delivered with such passion, can there be a more inspirational war-cry than this? 

     Now also bring in the hair-raising performances of the ensemble cast that marches and fights with Henry in this show and you are set to see the battle of ages on the stage.

    There were actors playing multiple characters with great style and ease. Local actors Michael Carney, John Doerner, Denver McCullough and Robyne Parrish did outstanding work. Actor Josh Innerst filled the house with moments of intensity. Jeremy Fiebig plays the narrator who is adeptly named “Chorus.” Fiebig played well by setting up certain scenes that would settle better in our minds and stomachs with his eloquant delivery of the plays verses.  

    Wallis Quaintance played the queen, Katharine, beautifully.  Striking the stage with startling presence and delivering her lines in her exquisite French, we come to understand her relationship with Henry.  There are comedic twists at many moments in this play that Shakespeare has planted, and they bloom largely when delivered well in this cast.

    Quaintance stretched the set on the stage all the way to the very back-wall of the theatre.  Seasoned theatre-goers to CFRT will appreciate the ingenious work of the artistic staff.  The icing on the cake is the fact that there are seats on the stage for audience attendees to sit in for this production... talk about being intimate with the actors.  

    Get ready to dig your heels into the floor like the hounds that are leashed in at the heels of Henry.  Quaintance asks us to listen like in prayer and to judge this play.  It only then seems fitting to leave the readers with the most rousing and spiritual words in the play the war-like Henry gives us.  I know these words have been used in a motivational speech or two by great leaders, as we see, Henry was giving his troops the intestinal fortitude that is far greater than the meek will ever know. “ From this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remember’d; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that shed his blood with me shall be my brother.” 

     Henry Vplays until Nov. 13 at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre.  It is truly the inspirational show this season that will motivate you to keep coming back to find the strength to carry on in all the daily wars we wage.

  • jeff9Fayetteville City Council has taken the first of many steps to build a multi-million-dollar minor league baseball stadium in downtown Fayetteville. It’ll take a year-and-a-half, and it will be much more than a ballpark. The venue is officially described as a multi-use outdoor sports stadium/entertainment facility designed for baseball, soccer and perhaps even football, as well as outdoor concerts and festivals. Its presence behind the former Prince Charles Hotel off Hay Street is expected to be a catalyst for millions of dollars of economic development projects. Renovation of the old hotel will include 60 apartments, a luxury penthouse, a ground floor restaurant and retail spaces.

    City Council agreed to hire a pair of architectural firms. One of them is a well-known local group, Slf+a. The other is Populous, which has designed athletic stadiums, arenas and convention centers around the world. In its solicitation of architects for the project, the city said it is interested in “negotiating a master development agreement that will leverage public investments in amenities and infrastructure to induce private sector investment in downtown.” Council appropriated up to $3 million for the undertaking. It sets out five core elements: the stadium itself; private re-development of the former Prince Charles Hotel into a mixed-use building, a ground level apartment and retail building; private development of a new hotel to be integrated with the venue providing public parking to be owned by the city; and a private partnership to provide public open space for a park or square on the Hay Street side of the stadium. 

    In its proposal, the City of Fayetteville states that a market study concluded the project development should attract as many as 300,000 visitors per year. The budget anticipates $33 million in hard costs for venue construction. It must be constructed to facilitate diverse year-round use for purposes to be defined during the conceptual design process. 

    The architectural proposal gives a hint, on paper at least, what the ballpark will look like. First and foremost, it must meet minor league baseball standards and include fixed seating, outfield berm seating and other general admission areas to comfortably accommodate approximately 4,500 fans. A limited number of luxury and club suites will include all finishes, furniture, fixtures and equipment. Concession facilities will include specialty cooking and vending areas, general commissary and point-of-sale vending locations. 

    Also outlined are team facilities including locker rooms, training areas, a “green room” or secondary locker room area for other types of events as well as team store(s), merchandising, concessions and box office facilities. Press access includes facilities for print media, radio and television broadcasts as well as in-house public address and audio/visual equipment. Scoreboard and video board design including facilities for video production are to be provided.  Construction is expected to begin in July with completion anticipated by January 2019. 

  • jeff8Residents of the Rayconda neighborhood in West Fayetteville have not gotten along particularly well with the City of Fayetteville since their annexation by the city 10 years ago. Like other suburban residents on the west side, the so-called big bang annexation became a bone of contention. But now, residents are beginning to appreciate the city services they receive. When the neighborhood was subdivided, county government standards allowed a single roadway, Siple Avenue,  in and out of the community. Siple Avenue crosses an earthen dam that splits Keith lake into two sections. The dam was heavily damaged last month when a utility culvert beneath the street ruptured during Hurricane Matthew.  The road was closed because of the damage beneath it. The city had assumed responsibility for the street, but as is often the case with dams, it belongs to and is therefore the responsibility of the homeowners association. For three weeks, residents were cut off from the rest of the city. “This is a mess,” said Freddy Rivera, president of the homeowners association. 

    The city and its contractor worked seven days a week to make repairs to Siple Avenue, which reopened for all traffic on Oct. 28., two weeks ahead of schedule.  But for the lake to be fully impounded, the levee must be replaced by a more structurally sound dam, which isn’t likely to occur anytime soon, if at all. A new road at a different location is the only permanent solution to the problem facing the more than 230 residents of Rayconda.  

    That’s something the city became aware of sometime ago. Design work on the new street into the neighborhood was all but complete when the city had to turn its attention to Siple Avenue following the hurricane. With repairs finished there, work has resumed on development of a 1,000-foot city street at the other end of the neighborhood. It will connect Rayconda directly to Raeford Road at the traffic light near the VA Healthcare Center. It will link up to Pinewood Terrace, said City Engineering and Infrastructure Director Rob Stone. But land clearing and construction could easily take a year or so, said Stone. For now, Siple Avenue will continue to be Rayconda’s life-line to the rest of the community.

  • jeff7Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has ordered the Pentagon to stop the National Guard Bureau from aggressively collecting enlistment bonuses paid to thousands of Guardsmen in California, even as the Pentagon says the number of soldiers affected was smaller than first believed. The White House said President Obama has warned the Defense Department not to “nickel and dime” service members who were victims of fraud by overzealous recruiters.   

      The Los Angeles Timesfirst reported that the Pentagon had demanded that some soldiers repay their enlistment bonuses after audits revealed overpayments by the California National Guard. Recruiters under pressure to fill ranks and hit enlistment goals at the height of the two wars improperly offered bonuses of $15,000 or more to soldiers who re-enlisted, the newspaper reported. That number is lower than a widely reported figure of nearly 10,000 soldiers who were told to pay back their bonuses. The Pentagon now says it told at most 6,500 California Guard soldiers to repay the bonuses. 

    Defense Department spokesman Maj. Jamie Davis said an audit more than five years in the making concluded last month that 1,100 soldiers improperly received bonuses for which they were ineligible. Another 5,400 soldiers had erroneous paperwork that could have made them ineligible. The California Guard said it has collected about $22 million from fewer than 2,000 soldiers who improperly received bonuses and student loan aid. A defense authorization bill passed by the House would establish a statute of limitations on the military’s ability to recover future overpayments and scrutinize existing cases of service member debt. House and Senate negotiators are trying to finalize the defense bill and pass it during the post-election, lame-duck session. 

    The California National Guard told the state’s congressional delegation two years ago that the Pentagon was trying to take back enlistment bonuses from thousands of soldiers. But Congress took no action then, said a senior National Guard official. The official added that what may have been ill-advised bonuses had been paid to National Guard members in every state. Attention was focused on California because it was “the only state that audited” bonus payments at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added. The Pentagon acknowledged that the problem likely extends beyond California. So far no instances have surfaced in North Carolina. 

    Many of the veterans were enticed to enlist with bonuses topping $10,000, and later served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. “These bonuses were used to keep people in,” said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran from Manteca, Calif., who says he had to refinance his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the Army says he should not have received. “People like me just got screwed.” The likelihood that hundreds of soldiers must repay large bonuses which were paid years ago when the Pentagon relied heavily on the Guard to supply troops for two wars may increase pressure on Congress to act. 

  • jeff1Fayetteville City Council continues efforts to revise its Community Development Annual Action Plan to devote nearly a million dollars to Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts. Council unanimously agreed to reallocate $900,000 budgeted for neighborhood improvement projects to individual owner/occupied housing grants. Other funds would be devoted to assist tenants of rental properties. The money would be used to supplement expenses not covered by private insurance or FEMA, said Victor Sharp, Fayetteville Community Development Director. Sharpe told the council that federal Housing and Urban Development guidelines must be followed, but that some requirements can be waived to speed up the assistance project. Sharp said 90 $10,000 grants could be made available to residents on a first come, first served basis.



    jeff2Recovery Housing Available

    The City of Fayetteville’s Community Development Department has a list of affordable rental properties available to families displaced by Hurricane Matthew. Persons needing short-term housing options should call Adolph Thomas at 433-1935 or email him at athomas@ci.fay.nc.us for the current list. Property management agencies that would like to be added to the list may go to Fayettevillenc.gov. Click on Government, City Departments and then Community Development. Once there, click on the Hurricane Matthew link. 










    Disaster Relief Grants

    The Cumberland Community Foundation is matching the first $100,000 in gifts for Hurricane Matthew relief and recovery. That money is being made available by the Foundation and the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust. The 15 members of the Fayetteville New Car Dealers Association wasted no time making a major contribution. “They’ve given $30,000 to help local people recover from the hurricane,” said Foundation Executive Director Mary Holmes. “I’m glad we’re able to do it,” added Eason Bryan, president of the car dealers group. Other sizeable contributions were received subsequently, taking the challenge well over the top. One hundred percent of the money raised will go to local nonprofit organizations in support of Hurricane Matthew victims, said Holmes. The disbursements will be coordinated by the Cumberland Disaster Recovery Coalition.





    jeff4Salute to Veterans

    Fayetteville’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation will host the eighth annual Salute to Veterans on Saturday, Nov. 5, through Monday, Nov. 14 at the museum. The public can purchase flags for $5 in honor or in memory of a veteran by calling the museum at 643-2778 or visiting the website at www.asomf.org. Flags can also be purchased in the museum’s gift shop. Each flag will be placed on the museum grounds. “This is a wonderful way to show your support and gratitude to those who have served and those who are serving now,” said Paul Galloway, Executive Director of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation. “We hope to have more than 1,000 flags on display, showing the true patriotism of all citizens of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and beyond,” added Galloway. An Opening Ceremony for the Salute to Veterans will be held Nov. 5, at 1:30 p.m. at the museum. Guest speaker will be World War II veteran Vincent Speranza. Immediately following the ceremony will be a book signing with Speranza, author of Nuts! A 101st Airborne Division Machine Gunner at Bastogne. This is Vince’s life story including his participation in the Battle of the Bulge. Books are available in the museum’s Gift Shop. The ceremony is free and open to the public. 


    jeff5Fayetteville Outer Loop Improvements

    Fulcher Electric of Fayetteville will install dynamic message signs and traffic cameras along Fayetteville’s Outer Loop (N.C. 295) from the All-American Expressway interchange to Interstate 95, thanks to a $1.5 million contract awarded by the Department of Transportation. The route will eventually be designated I-295. Work can begin as early as Oct. 31 and will be complete by Aug. 1, 2017. This was one of six road and bridge projects recently awarded by the N.C. Department of Transportation. The contracts were awarded to the lowest qualified bidders, as required by state law.








    jeff6Solid Waste Manager Named

    Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon has hired Jerod A. Roberts as Cumberland County’s new Solid Waste Management Director. Roberts had been Superintendent of Waste Collections for the City of Virginia Beach, Va., since December 2013. Roberts begins work in Cumberland County on Nov. 28. A native of Portsmouth, Va., Roberts spent four years in the Marine Corps. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Strayer University in Chesapeake, Va. “We are very pleased that Mr. Roberts will be joining our Leadership Team and look forward to working with him as he guides our Solid Waste Management Department,” Cannon said. Roberts was hired following as assessment conducted by Developmental Associates. He succeeds Bobby Howard who retired in December of last year. 









  • karl merrittWe are in the throes of a painful 2016 presidential election. This is an election where Americans must be careful and give detailed thought to how we should individually respond in this situation. My wife and I recently spent a weekend visiting with a 2-year-old and her mother. The father, the mother’s husband, was not with us due to his work schedule. As I watched this little girl move about in freedom, filled with excitement and expectation, I was saddened to realize she might not get to grow up in the great America that I have experienced. This election could result in a country that my generation would not recognize and over which we would despair and even cry.

    That possibility exists because our choice for president is between two people who offer very different courses into the future. They are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Our choosing one over the other is complicated and is challenged by questionable comments and alleged unacceptable actions by these candidates. In the haze of this situation, it is very difficult to slow down, examine the facts and thoughtfully decide how to vote or even if one will vote.

    Recently, an audio tape was released in which Donald Trump, some eleven years ago, made comments about being able to grope and otherwise inappropriately touch women. This being possible, he indicated, because of his status in the world of business and entertainment. He also recounted his efforts to seduce a married woman. Let the record be clear, I find his comments far beyond the pale and reflecting an attitude that is disgusting. A few days later, several women came forward accusing Trump of unwelcomed touching and kissing, one from 30 years ago. The question is do we choose the Hillary course based solely on Trump’s totally unacceptable comments and alleged actions toward some women. I contend if that 2-year-old could look into the future and see the calamity that such a choice on our part would bring, she would cry out, “Please, do not put my future and that of others like me in the hands of Hillary Clinton.”

    What follows are a few of the considerations that cause me to conclude Hillary Clinton is by far the wrong choice for president. Start with Supreme Court appointments. There is one vacancy now, and given the advanced ages of some justices, more vacancies are likely over the next four years. In an article titled “Hillary Clinton Has a Vision for the Supreme Court, and It Looks like Sonia Sotomayor,” Cristian Farias writes that when asked during the Oct. 9 debate how she would go about selecting justices, Clinton said, “‘I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real-life experience, who have not just been in a big law firm and maybe clerked for a judge and then gotten on the bench, but maybe they tried more cases’” I read this statement to mean Hillary Clinton wants justices who will legislate from the bench. I watched the second presidential debate and in talking about these appointments, not one time did she mention upholding the Constitution. On the other hand, Trump’s response addressed upholding the Constitution.

    Clinton makes attractive promises regarding free college, government investment in infrastructure that will produce jobs, along with a myriad of other government spending programs. She proposes to pay for this additional spending by increasing taxes on the wealthy. As does Barack Obama, she argues that the wealthy must pay their “fair share.” The question Obama and Clinton never answer is what is a fair share for the wealthy? The Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2015 Update says:

    “In 2013, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those with AGIs below $36,841) earned 11.49 percent of total AGI. This group of taxpayers paid approximately $34 billion in taxes, or 2.78 percent of all income taxes in 2013.

    ”In contrast, the top 1 percent of all taxpayers (taxpayers with AGIs of $428,713 and above), earned 19.04 percent of all AGI in 2013, but paid 37.80 percent of all federal income taxes.”

    Is widening the spread above fair or even productive? The national debt is approaching 20 trillion dollars and Clinton wants to spend more. Trump proposes reducing taxes. This approach has a record of stimulating economic growth. 

    Then there is the matter of religion in America. In an article titled “Hillary Clinton Is a Threat to Religious Liberty,” Marc A. Thiessen writes:

    “In a speech not long before she launched her 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton made a stunning declaration of war on religious Americans. Speaking to the 2015 Women in the World Summit, Clinton declared that ‘deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.’” 

    Couple this with emails among various Clinton staff persons where they disparage Catholics and Evangelicals and a picture of war against religion is clear. The emails were released by WikiLeaks along with thousands of others that reflect badly on Hillary Clinton. 

    An article by Pamela Engel titled “Leaked Emails Show State Department Gave Special Attention to Bill Clinton’s Friends after Haiti Earthquake” adds another item for thought. The article’s title states a conclusion. Engel supports that conclusion by quoting from various emails, especially those of Caitlin Klevorick, who was one of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s senior aides.

    In one email, Klevorick wrote, ‘“Need you to flag when people are friends of WJC,” referring to William Jefferson Clinton. “Most I can probably ID but not all.” 

    She wrote in another email: ‘Is this a FOB [Friend of Bill]! If not, she should go to cidi.org,” “referring to a general government website.” 

    The person was emailing to offer medical supplies in the wake of the earthquake.

    Beyond special attention to some people is Clinton’s use of a private server at her home instead of using the State Department’s email system as required by Department rules and with all the associated security risks. Emails were destroyed after a Congressional subpoena had been issued for those emails. Then she changed her message to fit the audience, saying one thing before wealthy donors and something different to other groups. 

    These negative revelations continue to flow from WikiLeaks and other sources. There were reports on Oct. 17 of another disturbing incident. Budhaditya Bhattacharjee writes following in an article titled “Patrick Kennedy ‘Quid Pro Quo’: Facts to Know.”

    “Documents released on Monday show that the State Department official tried to make the FBI back down on classifying the contents of an email from Hillary Clinton’s private email server. He offered a ‘quid pro quo’ to the FBI while trying to get the Bureau to shift a single classified email to “unclassified.” However, the FBI claimed that it refused the request.” 

    There is disagreement regarding who between State and the FBI proposed the quid pro quo. No matter who proposed it, this is not reassuring behavior. 

    An article by Right Rally News titled “Hillary Clinton Favors ‘Open Trade and Open Borders’” quotes Clinton as saying the following in a speech for which the transcript was released by WikiLeaks. The speech was given Brazilian bank in 2013.

    “‘My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”’

    She dreams of an America with no borders and trade that flows freely. Donald Trump says, “A nation without borders is not a nation.” This is a point on which the difference between these two candidates could not be clearer.

    What I have presented is miniscule when compared with the totality of negatives regarding Hillary Clinton. What is equally dangerous is that the vast majority of media outlets give little attention to Clinton’s negatives while religiously focusing on every possible negative of Donald Trump. We must be careful, America…think, then vote. While thinking, remember that 2-year-old and the millions of others like her.

  • margaretDriving on an interstate recently, I tuned into to Terry Gross’ excellent interview show on National Public
    Radio. Her guest, a national journalist with a conservative bent, had offended a nebulous group with white nationalist leanings called the “alt right.” The next thing he knew, his Twitter account exploded with racist, sexist and personally threatening tweets, including depictions of his wife and 7-year-old daughter in pornographic scenes. The journalist said he worked with law enforcement authorities to protect himself and his family and bemoaned the reality that the ugly undersides of Twitter and other social media are now part of our international fabric. 

    While the journalist and his family endured their ordeal, all of us have been living through the worst election year in recent memory. We have all heard Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump insult women generally and specifically, minorities and anyone who dares criticize him in any way. No lesser institution than the New York Timesrecently published a two-page spread of Trump’s 282 insults of people, places, and things. We know his feelings about Hillary Clinton and Rosie O’Donnell, but Trump also has negative opinions of major league baseball — “so ridiculous,” other Republican candidates — “mere puppets,” Amazon — “a no profit company,” the State of the Union address — “very hard to watch,” and T-Mobile — “I think the service is terrible.”

    I know no one in Trump’s league when it comes to insulting tweets or insults in general, but he is not alone in spewing ugliness.

    Hillary Clinton labeled half of Trump’s supporters “deplorables,” and talking heads of all political persuasions are slinging mud of their own.

    Saturday Night Live and a raft of other comedic shows skewer widely and not always kindly, but at least we get a chuckle. 

    My question is when did all of this become OK? When did it become acceptable to call other people names, to demean someone’s physical appearance, intelligence and character? How did we become desensitized to personal insults? How did we come to embrace and enjoy them?

    Clearly, I am not the only person put off by political incivility. A quick Google search brings up a plethora articles on the topic as well as scholarly research on the topic. These include an article in Commentary magazine entitled “Politics of Incivility: Where Discourtesy Meets Democracy in Modern American Life,” a Huffington Post piece asking “Is There an Incivility Ceiling for Women?”—apparently, we tolerate rude behavior a lot less than men do, and research from the University of Arizona’s National Institute for Civil Discourse (who knew that existed?) and KRC Research, both looking at how much of this vicious incivility we are willing to take.

    Truth be told, American politics has always been rough and tumble, to put it politely. George Washington seems to have been most everyone’s choice as our first president, but by his second term political parties were taking hold. Along with partisan politics came rough campaigning, including allegations of sexual misconduct going all the way back to our Founding Fathers. Think Thomas Jefferson.

    It seems to me that the difference between then and now is not the ugliness of the incivility, but that it is with us 24/7. It took weeks and longer for political news and campaign rhetoric to travel to the hinterlands, and some voters — all white, landowning men in our early years — probably did not get a full dose of messaging until after the election was over. Some may not have known there was an election.

    Contrast that with our Election 2016 experience. 

    As I write this column, CNN plays on a television in my office. I have seen Donald Trump snarling from Ohio, and Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama hugging in Winston Salem. An endless stream of talking heads has weighed in on what we viewers should think about all this, both pro and con, and prognosticating about the rapidly approaching outcome. I flick through channels, and every channel that covers “news” is full of campaigning, even though most people in our country and around the world are going about our lives totally outside campaigning. In short, for early Americans — whatever their politics — campaigning was not in their faces all day, every day. Incivility might have reigned, but without television, radio, internet, social media and the U.S. Postal Service, they did not have their noses rubbed in it.

    I am no Pollyanna about any of this, having been around the political block a few times myself. On one of those trips, I was even portrayed as a hooker, though if that had been my chosen profession, I should have started decades earlier. I suspect the Twitter-afflicted journalist feels the same way.

    That said, I have thought of one of my mother’s favorite sayings most” days of 2016. “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”


  • pub penIn less than one week it will be election day. Yes, in less than seven days all this political madness will be over. The horrendous barbaric TV and radio attack ads will end, the talking heads will cease their partisan screeching, the thousands of Constant Contact emails begging for money and clogging your inbox will stop – as will the tons of political junk mail now overflowing in your trash can. 

    Yes, it will all be over soon. And for many, the end cannot come soon enough. 

    Patriotic Americans are vastly disgusted and disappointed with our leadership in government. It makes no difference whether you are a registered Democrat, Republican or Independent. The political shenanigans, disgusting behavior and distasteful antics we are witnessing during this election are proof positive that “America, we’ve got a problem.” And that problem is not about immigration, Constitutional rights, gun control, black lives, white lives, Trump or Hillary. The problem is: Our government is broken. For the most part, it lacks honesty and integrity from those in power on both sides of the aisle. “What’s in it for me?” has become the battle cry of these bureaucrats at all levels. Greed and power drive this fanatic nastiness – with no end in sight. 

    Oh, well. At least we still get to vote. Here is the sunny side of this pathetic situation: After the election, all the participants will be exposed for what they are and what they stand for. Then the average American can examine his or her own conscience and ask him or herself, “Did I sell myself out? Did I compromise my own values? Did I actually endorsed and enable such deplorable behavior?” 

    Sorry, but at this point, it may be too little, too late. We have created and nurtured a government of self-indulgent politicians who care only about personal power and wealth and what they can game from the system. They are not looking out for their constituents. Sad. However, there is one thing that you can be sure of: We will end up with the government we deserve. 

    So, vote! Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • out of sightOctober is Blindness Awareness Month. In Cumberland County there are more than 600 blind and visually impaired adults and children, so that is why the Vision Resource Center presents its fifth annual Out of Sight Dining event on Friday, November 11, from 6 – 10 p.m. at the Hellenic Center. 

    “The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of what it is like to be visually impaired in our community and for people to get why the Vision Resource Center is here,” said Terri Thomas, executive director of the Vision Resource Center. “Unless you walk a mile in a visually impaired person’s shoes, you don’t get it until you actually experience it.” 

    At the event participants will place a blindfold on their eyes as they eat dinner. This is a firsthand experience about how challenging it can be to eat a meal that you cannot see. “So many people do not want to come to the event because they don’t want to be blindfolded while they are eating,” said Thomas. “My own relatives will not come because they refuse to put the blindfold on.”

    Thomas asks people to just think about the visually impaired who live this every day and can’t take the blindfold off. 

     The Vision Resource Center enhances the lives of adults and children from the ages of 6 to 86 by making sure they have the most fruitful life possible. “We want to make sure they are independent and socializing,” said Thomas. “Being visually impaired can easily happen to anyone via diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, a brain tumor and other medical conditions.” Thomas added that visually impaired adults often feel nonexistent and will isolate themselves from the world. 

     The proceeds will be used to reach the people who don’t necessarily come into the center by helping them with the accessories needed, which will help them cook more safely and move around the house easier. 

    “They need help with getting to their doctor’s appointments and the grocery store along with other daily living skills,” said Thomas. “People want the skills based on their sight levels that are deteriorating and they need to know what to do now.” Thomas added they plan to purchase the apparatus, Amazon Echo, that reads to the visually impaired person, tells them the weather and time and plays music. Electric skillets will be purchased for them as well as offering an independent cooking class that teaches them how to use the skillet. 

     “We have been blessed with a vision rehab specialist,” said Thomas. “They go into the homes and show the visually impaired how to set up their home to make it more user friendly and do orientation mobility.” Thomas added that the specialist teaches them the number of steps to take and how to navigate around your home without help. 

     Live entertainment and a silent auction will take place at the event. Tickets are $75 per person and $125 per couple. The Hellenic Center is located at 614 Oakridge Avenue. For more information call 483-2719. 

  • Pamela StorySchool students in transition or experiencing homelessness have social workers on their side to help with transportation, food, emotional needs and more, according to local school officials. Cumberland County Schools has a nationally recognized homeless liaison leading the Social Work Services Department. Pamela Story, CCS Social Work Coordinator and Homeless Liaison is North Carolina’s Homeless Liaison of the Year. The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth announced at its annual conference on Nov. 14, that Story was chosen as the 2022 National Homeless Liaison of the Year. 
    Story graduated from E.E. Smith High School and is an alumna of North Carolina Central University. She earned her master's degree in social work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
    “We must ensure that we provide every opportunity for our students in transition to be successful and to soar above their circumstances,” Story said. “Homelessness in many situations is temporary, and any one of us could be homeless in the blink of an eye." 
    She has worked with the Cumberland County School System for 23 years. Story likes to tell children that “Life throws us many curveballs, and we are here to help you.” She encourages parents and students to maintain hope and integrity and seek assistance to rise above life's circumstances. 
  • PWC graphicFayetteville City Council members finally voted to select a new commissioner for the Fayetteville Public Works Commission.

    Last Monday night, City Council selected Retired Col. Don Porter to serve as the new PWC commissioner. He was supported by Councilmembers Johnny Dawkins, Larry Wright, D.J. Haire, and Christopher Davis. Mayor Mitch Colvin also voted in Porter’s favor.

    Porter is a retired Military Logistics Specialist and served 20 years as an Executive Director of Economic Development in Hoke County and the City of Raeford. In his application, he says that he believes that city-owned water and sewer is good not just for citizens but also for business recruitment.

    Porter was initially recommended to the position by the city’s Appointment Committee last month. City Council was split on the decision and kept delaying the vote. Porter's term is expected to end on Sept. 30, 2025.

  • Hay Street Prop 1The City of Fayetteville will be requesting $20,000 to repair the property at 242 Hay St. They would like to use the money to power wash and repaint the exterior of the property. They would also like to rebuild the balcony structure using composite decking, install composite handrails, replace the rotted door and door frame to the balcony, repair rotted wood on the window frame closest to the balcony door and repair cracked tile at the front.

    Since the location is part of a historically protected area, they will only be fixing what is rotted or broken and repainting the building in the original colors.

    Members of the public have until Dec. 13 to submit written comments to the Economic and Community Development Department at City Hall about the

    Diane’s Vintage Market was previously located at the site but closed in October of 2019.

  • Many folks ask me about the correct spelling of the holiday. Confusion comes because the holiday’s name is in Hebrew, which uses an entirely different alphabet that includes sounds not found in English. The first letter has a guttural sound like the German achtung, so some people use CH while others opt for the closest sound in English, the letter H, to avoid people mistakenly thinking it has the English CH sound.

    Additionally, depending on where you’re from, some Jews pronounce the final vowel as AH while others say OH. Also, when transcribing the name into English some do it based solely on sound while others try to parallel Hebrew spelling. In Hebrew, it ends with the equivalent of a silent H (like in Sarah), so some spell it in English ending with an H and some without. This all results in many legitimate renderings of the name into English.

    Chanukah (my preference) means dedication or rededication and refers to the rededication of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem following its purification upon recapture from the Syrian army 2186 years ago. It celebrates the miracle of the successful revolt of a rag-tag force of faithful Jews, hiding in caves and frequently using guerilla tactics against their powerful overlords, who had prohibited the practice of Judaism and introduced pagan sacrifice into the holy Temple.

    Because the Jews celebrated the rededication of the Temple by belatedly observing the eight-day biblical festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), Chanukah was established as an annual eight day celebration of this miraculous preservation of Judaism. A legend, told hundreds of years after these events, relates that reluctant to delay the rededication of the Temple for the eight days necessary to acquire the special olive oil required for the sanctuary’s Menorah (a seven-branched, continually burning candelabrum), they lit the only pure oil they had found – a single day’s worth. Miraculously the Menorah burned for eight days until new oil arrived.

    The main observance of Chanukah is the home lighting of an eight-branched Menorah each evening to publicize the ancient miracle of Judaism’s survival. A single light is kindled on the first night, adding one more each night, until eight are burning at the end.

    Honoring the legend of the oil it is customary to eat fried foods during Chanukah, such as potato pancakes and jelly donuts. Chanukah gift-giving mostly originated in America so Jewish kids wouldn’t feel jealous of their classmates’ Christmas gifts. There is no requirement to give any, much less, eight gifts.

    Chanukah shifts on our calendar because for religious purposes Jews follow a lunar calendar (although the periodic addition of leap months keeps the Jewish holidays aligned to the same season).
    Finally, Chanukah is considered a minor Jewish holiday, because it does not originate in the Hebrew Bible, but in the later books of First and Second Maccabees. That makes it comparatively less significant than the biblical festivals like Passover. It receives oversized attention in America because of its proximity to Christmas.

    Editor's Note: Chanukah runs this year from the evening of Sunday, Nov. 28 through the evening of Monday, Dec. 6.

  • FAST busFour red, white and blue coaches have been placed in service. Four more are on the way, according to Fayetteville Transit director Randy Hume. He said the change was made to bring the transit system in line with the city’s new color palette.

    The City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, plus nine businesses and civic partners, have launched an intensive project to develop a community-wide branding campaign to create an updated and unified approach to make known the area’s strengths, assets, diversity, vision and potential.

    Another eight new buses are expected to be delivered after the first of the year. The cost of FAST buses is provided primarily by the Federal Transit Administration. 18 citywide bus routes are operational.

  • MessiahThe Cumberland Choral Arts began in 1991 and are now celebrating their 30th anniversary. Sandy Cage, the President of the Board of Directors for the CCA, says they are still the best-kept secret in Fayetteville.

    They are a community group that welcomes anyone to join. They don’t do formal auditions, rather they do voice placements. They hold several performances in a non-COVID year.

    One of their annual traditions is to perform the Messiah, a classical work by George Frideric Handel that is best known for its “Hallelujah” chorus. The CCA will be partnering up with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra for the second performance in a row to present the piece to the community, just in time for Christmas.

    “I think there are people in the community who look forward to this every year,” Cage said. “There are some who say that it's not Christmas yet until they come and hear the Messiah.”

    The annual tradition started at Fort Bragg but grew and is now performed for the majority of the Fayetteville community.

    While COVID-19 did shut down CCA performances for close to two years, some positives did come out of it.

    The CCA continued to post virtual performances on their social media pages and one of their videos went viral.

    “We are extremely excited because last year when we couldn't do our normal concerts, we ended up doing virtual pieces, and our artistic director, Michael Martin, worked to put those together and one of them was noticed online and we received an invitation to sing at Carnegie Hall in May,” Cage told Up & Coming Weekly.

    Cage explained that the composer of the piece is having a musical festival at Carnegie Hall, and because the composer noticed their cover of the piece online, the CCA has been invited to participate. There will be 32 performers going to New York to participate in May.

    "We never dreamed anything like that could ever happen, so that invitation was quite a shock but a wonderful one. We are really looking forward to it,” Cage said.

    The future of the CCA is looking bright as more people attend and join the choral group.

    “We are looking forward to growth in our group, more people singing, more people attending our concerts and possibly sponsoring our own music festival,” Cage said.

    She also tells Up & Coming Weekly that there are plans to possibly hold a European tour in the next couple of years.

    The upcoming concert, Messiah, is free to attend and no reservations are required. However, they are asking audience members to wear masks during the event.

    The concert will feature four soloists, one being a local school teacher - Leigh Montague.

    Montague is a Fayetteville native and attended Pine Forest High School. She graduated in 2008 and attended UNC Pembroke. She currently teaches at Cumberland County Schools and has done so for the past nine years.

    The community concert will take place at Cedar Falls Baptist Church. Doors will open at 2 p.m. and the concert will start at 3 p.m. on Dec. 5.

  • Holiday LightsThe holidays are upon us and the Cape Fear Botanical Garden will be bringing in crowds with Holiday Lights in the Garden. This is the eleventh year that the event has been held.

    “We started preparing in July … staff members have been working out in the Garden one to two days a week to prepare for BOO-tanical and Holiday Lights,” said Meghan Woolbright, marketing coordinator, Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

    Holiday Lights in the Garden include more than one million lights displayed throughout the botanical gardens. More than simply walking through the lights, there are activities for everyone. Cape Fear Botanical Garden’s glowing light maze is constructed with cool white lights.

    “Our team hit the ground running with the light maze construction and it was a huge hit for BOO-tanical [event] this year and we're sure it will be for Holiday Lights as well. It'll be like your own winter wonderland,” Woolbright said.

    Santa will also be on the scene ready to hear requests from children. Joining Santa, the Grinch will also be found among the lights.

    Visitors may purchase photos with Santa, but selfies with the Grinch are free.

    Visitors are invited to enjoy dinner and snacks from local food trucks to include Howell N' Dawgs, Hollywood Java, Household 6 Catering, and Gloria's.

    Visitors can also warm themselves with hot cocoa and s’mores.

    Entertainment will be scheduled on select evenings and free crafts for children will be provided.

    There will be live entertainment including the Fayetteville Technical Community College Jazz-Orchestra Ensemble, Highland Brass Players from Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, Fayetteville Jazz Orchestra, Gilbert Theater GLEE, Berean Baptist Choir, and Champion Davis Saint – Amand.

    If visitors have last-minute Christmas shopping they can check items off their list in the Garden Gift Shop, which will be open each evening.

    Parking will be free but it is limited. On Dec. 17 and 18, Holiday Lights visitors can park downtown and ride the Can-Do Coldwell Banker Trolley to the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens; tickets to ride will be $5 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

    The trolley will be picking up and dropping off between Cool Springs Downtown District office and Cape Fear Botanical Garden every 20 minutes.

    A Member Preview Night is scheduled for Dec. 2, which will be free to all Cape Fear Botanical Garden members and they can welcome one guest at normal admission price. Members can pay for guest tickets at the Garden Gift Shop.

    For more information or to purchase tickets visit https://www.capefearbg.org/event/holiday-lights-in-the-garden-2/

  • PotatoesWhat can you say about a 17-pound potato named Doug? That he was beautiful? That Doug loved Mozart and Bach? That he would make a lot of vodka? Who knows if a Big Potato loves music? To find out the truth, Mr. Science went all the way to New Zealand to investigate the strange case of the world’s largest potato. An excellent article in The Guardian by Eva Corlett brought Doug to the attention of the world.

    Once upon a time, Colin & Donna Brown lived a quiet life in Hamilton, New Zealand puttering their days away in their garden. The greatest problem they faced was keeping Peter Rabbit away from their carrots in the manner of Mr. McGregor. Unbeknownst to them, Colin was about to make a discovery that would bring them to the attention of the world. Colin was weeding his garden when his hoe hit something large and solid underground. Colin had struck Doug. Ms. Corlett’s article reports Colin said: “Donna this must be one of those white sweet potatoes that we grew because some of them grow massive out here.” After giving the object the old taste test, Collin realized he had unearthed a giant white potato.

    What do you do with a giant potato? You give him a name that suits his personality. Thus, Doug the Giant Potato was christened. Colin said: “We put a hat on him. We put him on Facebook, taking him for a walk, giving him some sunshine. It’s all a bit of fun. It’s amazing what entertains people. It’s fair to say our veggie garden can get a bit feral. There are some parts of the garden you need to pack a lunch and advise your next of kin before heading to.”

    Colin reports they had not planted potatoes for two or three years deepening the mystery of Doug’s origin. Could Doug have been seeded by aliens like the pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Was Doug part of an interstellar plot to take over the Earth one French Fry at the time? The potato soup thickens. Might Doug be the vanguard of an army of giant intelligent tubers bent on seeking revenge against humanity for the transmogrification of millions of their Earthly relatives into potato chips, hash browns, mashed potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, potato casserole, baked gnocchi, tater tots, Shepherd’s pie, or potatoes au gratin?

    Ponder the facts about potato consumption and beware. If there are intelligent Space Alien Potatoes across the universe it’s easy to see why they would consider the Earth to be the archenemy of potatoes. Mr. Google reports that the average person eats about 110 pounds of potatoes a year. The National Potato Council reports that in 2020 about 42.7 billion pounds of potatoes were produced and eaten each year. That is no small potatoes. If Intelligent Space Potatoes are able to get those potatoes to unite and throw off their chains, no human is safe. We are all doomed to fall to an attack of Killer Potatoes.

    But there is hope. The Guinness Book of World Records reports that the largest Pre-Doug potato was found in England in 2011 weighing about 10 pounds. Doug is clearly the King of Potatoes. Fortunately, Doug at this point seems content to amuse New Zealanders and not take over the world. Humanity’s best bet to stave off Killer Potatoes is appeasement by recognizing their accomplishments to show we can be their friends. Consider some of the great potatoes of history: Mr. Potato Head reigned supreme as a toy in the 1950s. The most famous dog in beer ad history was the late great Spuds MacKenzie. Every August 19th is National Potato Day. Great days in Potato History include 2000 BC when the Incas first planted potatoes as a crop. In 1536 the Spanish Conquistadores invaded Peru and took back the first potatoes to Europe. Thomas Jefferson first served French fried potatoes in the White House in 1802. In 1885 Van Gogh painted his famous picture The Potato Eaters immortalizing the role that potatoes play in nutrition. In 1995 NASA launched potatoes into orbit making them the first veggies grown in space. The list goes on and on.

    The greatest episode of the Andy Griffith show combines Aunt Bea’s pickles, kindness, and potatoes. Clara has won the best pickles at the county fair for eleven years. It’s a big deal for Clara. Barney and Andy make a fuss over Aunt Bea’s pickles even though her pickles are terrible. The guys switch out her pickles for store-bought dills not knowing Aunt Bea has decided to enter them in the county fair. At first, they think it would be funny for Aunt Bea to win with store-bought pickles. Then Clara talks about how much winning the best pickles means to her since her husband passed away. Andy and Barney then have to eat all store-bought pickles so Aunt Bea will enter her own terrible pickles and lose to Clara. Clara wins the contest. Andy closes by saying: “What’s small potatoes to some folks can be mighty important to others.”

    But if flattering potatoes doesn’t work, Doug and Donna have saved the Earth. They wrapped Doug in plastic to preserve him and plan on making him into vodka.

  • 04Cumberland County school bus drivers will share in additional system-wide bonuses being provided by the board of education. The school board decided on Nov. 17 to give the school district’s 6,000 full-time employees $1,000 bonuses in December and again in May. Local bus drivers have been demanding better pay and have staged protests recently. More than 100 buses were idled two weeks ago because of a "sick-out" staged by drivers.

    Starting pay for bus drivers in the school district is $12.21 an hour. A new state budget proposal includes a provision that the minimum hourly wage for non-certified school employees be raised to $13 this year and to $15 in the 2022-23 fiscal year. The state sets the baseline for pay in public schools, and some counties “supplement” those wages.
    The Cumberland County school district used to have a competitive supplemental package, but education officials say they are falling behind.

    "Determining the full cost (local, state and federal) of adjusting our minimum hourly salary to $13 or $15... is extremely complicated and if conducted internally could take an inordinate amount of time that we do not have given the state of the labor market," a memorandum released by the board said.

    Drivers say they are frustrated over a stalemate between the Cumberland County Board of Education and the county commissioners. The Board of Education develops the budget, but county commissioners provide the funding.

    "If you raise the pay for just one group, then you have many other groups within the district that did not get that same consideration," said Clyde Locklear, associate superintendent of business

    Many North Carolina school districts are struggling to hire and retain workers because of low wages and working conditions many complain about. More than a third of Cumberland County Schools, 50,000 students, depend on bus services to get to school.

  • 10In the tradition of Charles Dickens’ classic short story, “A Christmas Carol”, the annual A Dickens Holiday is a Victorian-era holiday shopping and entertainment celebration held in historic Downtown Fayetteville. A Dickens Holiday is intended to encourage the community to shop and support local businesses during the holiday shopping season.

    This is the twenty-second year that the Arts Council of Fayetteville, through support from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, and the North Carolina Arts Council has planned the event. Vendors line both sides of Hay Street selling a diverse range of goods from hand-knit scarves to metal sculptures, local honey to flavored popcorn — the artisans offer unique products. Shoppers can grab one-of-a-kind gifts to put under the tree.

    Vickie Toledo used to be a patron, now she is a vendor, The Crafty Rooster. She has been a patron for 16 years and a vendor for four years.

    “I love the theme and the people who dress up. It makes it so much more fun than a holiday craft fair,” said Toledo. “It's a craft fair in the era of Dickens, with all the characters from A Christmas Carol, carriage rides and cider, a beautiful candle-lit march down Hay Street and more. It’s a blast.”

    A Dickens Holiday is considered the kickoff event for the holiday season bringing together the best that Fayetteville has to offer. Each year, thousands of onlookers join in the Hay Street festivities.
    Following guidance from the Cumberland County Health Department and in light of COVID-19, the Arts Council’s Board of Trustees has taken a cautious approach to this year’s celebration by encouraging social distancing and offering a lower density of crafters, artists and vendors for the event. Also due to COVID-19, the Dickens candlelight procession to the Market House and firework display will not take place this year.

    There will be street performances by Michael Daughtry, David Nikkel, Coventry Carolers, Highland Brass Ensemble and others. In addition, there will be festive holiday performances by the English Country Line Dancers, a solo violinist, Gilbert Glee, a magician, Highland Brass Ensemble, a stilt walker, Oakwood Waits Double Ensemble, Anthony Sutton and Friends, Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Alpha Omega Dance Academy’s ballet excerpts of "The Nutcracker."

    Characters from “A Christmas Carol” including Father Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge, the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Future, Jacob Marley, London Bobbies and the Cratchit family with Tiny Tim will be ambling around downtown, mingling with the spectators. This is Eric Hoisington’s fourth year participating in A Dickens Holiday by playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.
    “I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens and have read all of his novels, so it’s amazing to see Fayetteville town’s people once again exposed to the quaintness of Victorian times and the drama inherent in 'A Christmas Carol' while played out by various town-thespians,” said Hoisington. “I walk up and down Hay Street in a bad mood, trying to terrorize the crowd with the depravity that is Ebenezer Scrooge.”

    There are memories to be made at the event including Victorian horse-drawn carriage rides on Hay Street, and Dickens photo cut-outs and a holiday selfie station. The event is free and dog-friendly, though owners should check if animals are allowed inside establishments. A Dickens Holiday event will be held on Nov. 26, from 1 – 8 p.m.

  • 07In the next few weeks, Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West will hold informational sessions for people who think they may qualify to be lawfully expunged. An expungement clinic will be held in the Spring of 2022 where local attorneys, the public defender’s office, and Legal Aid of NC will assist individuals in having their records expunged. So, what in the world is expungement? To “expunge” is to “erase or remove completely.” In the law, “expungement” is the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal records.

    An expungement order directs the court to treat a criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant’s criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record. It is important to clarify that expungement is not “forgiveness” for committing a crime — that is a legal pardon. Likewise, pardons are not expungements and do not require removal of a conviction from a criminal record. When a criminal record is expunged, the public record of the arrest, charge, or conviction is deleted.

    Notice is also sent to a range of government entities, such as the sheriff’s office or police department that made the arrest and the division of motor vehicles. These agencies are directed to purge their records relating to the arrest, charge, or conviction. For most purposes, it’s like the legal proceeding never happened. However, confidential records are retained after expungement. These records are available under very limited circumstances, such as when a judge considering an expungement application wants to know whether the applicant has been granted an expungement in the past.

    Who should be expunged?

    "It's someone whose license has been suspended for at least 5 years due to unpaid fees on a minor traffic offense that has already been adjudicated such as a stop sign offense, speeding ticket, expired registration," West said.

    Fayetteville criminal justice activist Demetria Murphy said the economic treadmill is exactly what stops people from getting their licenses again.

    "Someone who goes from making $8 or $9 who now can go and work for a distribution center and have their regular driver's license back...puts them in a position to actually win," Murphy said.

    Under North Carolina law, a person whose record has been expunged generally does not have to disclose the arrest, charge or conviction on job applications, applications for housing, and in other settings where a criminal conviction may have a negative impact. Prospective employers and educational institutions can’t require applicants to disclose expunged entries. In fact, North Carolina law specifically protects people with expunged criminal records from perjury and similar charges relating to failure to disclose an expunged record. Employers who violate this law can be fined.

    North Carolina law provides for expungement of a wide variety of arrests, charges and convictions. In some cases, expungement is available only to people who were under a certain age at the time of the crime. Other expungements are available regardless of age. The best source of information about whether your arrest, charge, or conviction may be eligible for expungement is an experienced Fayetteville criminal defense attorney. For more information, contact the District Attorney’s Office at (910) 475-3010 or at Cumberland.DAExpugements@nccourts.org.

  • 06The Council on Criminal Justice issued a report earlier this year that shows the number of homicides in the U.S. during the first half of 2021 increased by 16% compared to the same period last year. The number of homicides in 2020 compared to 2019 rose by 25%, according to an FBI preliminary report. It was the largest increase since the FBI began releasing annual homicide figures in the 1960s. The spike in violent crime came as the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the country.

    This year’s murder rate in Fayetteville is unprecedented. As of Nov. 17, 43 people were killed by others. Arrests have been made in 33 of the cases. That exceeds the highest annual homicide number by 12.

    “There is no one answer to what’s going on,” Police Chief Gina Hawkins told Up & Coming Weekly. “There are so many guns in our community.”

    She says that people are impatient having been locked away in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawkins said that unlike previous years, homicides here are city-wide.

    “In Fayetteville, the number one reason for murder was drug-related robberies,” Hawkins said, noting that murder is almost impossible to prevent.

  • 02It has been two years since the virus we now know as COVID-19 began as a stealth incubation in Wuhan, China before exploding onto the world stage. It has since taken 5.1 million lives, almost 800,000 of them in the United States and nearly 19,000 of those in North Carolina. None of us remain untouched by the pandemic, whether we have lost someone near and dear or whether we feel merely inconvenienced by COVID-19 restrictions.

    The second year of holiday celebrations affected by the virus is now upon us. Experts and regular folks alike are realizing COVID-19 will be with us for the long haul and thinking about how we are going to live with it. The Dicksons, all thoroughly vaccinated and feeling fortunate to be so, will gather for Thanksgiving with a handful of family and friends in a way we did not last year. We will take precautions — knowing that everyone except a 2-year-old is vaccinated, and we will stay outdoors as much as we can, both cooking and eating. While we and millions of other Americans are indeed choosing to gather, we are also thinking about how to go about our lives knowing that COVID-19 is not the raging pandemic it once was but it remains a very real threat. We are going to learn to live with COVID risk. We will learn to accept it the same way we accept the risk of riding in vehicles of all sorts, participating in sports and engaging in other once-routine activities. So, what will that look like in our daily lives?

    People in Asian counties have long worn face masks in public, because of both various illnesses and air pollution. Many medical experts expect Americans to do so for the foreseeable future in public places such as grocery stores, cabs, buses, planes and in gatherings of people we do not know.

    People will likely continue working remotely at least some of the time and communicating electronically, in part because of health concerns and because we have discovered its convenience.
    We are now able to ponder our lives ahead because while the United States remains less vaccinated than other developed nations, about 65% of us have had at least one shot and 60% have had more than one. That means that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is going down, especially in more vaccinated communities.

    In addition, COVID-19 treatments are becoming more effective, meaning that this virus may eventually be just another illness and not one that takes over our lives.

    Increasingly, experts are saying COVID-19 could become like seasonal flu, an illness no one wants and can be successfully vaccinated against.

    All of which is to say that we are not going to wake up one morning to headlines screaming, “COVID-19 eradicated forever,” that is a dream not likely to come true.

    The poet T.S. Eliot wrote that the world would end “not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

    Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo has the same thoughts about COVID-19. As Nuzzo told the Washington Post recently, “It doesn’t end. We just stop caring. Or we care a lot less... I think for most people, it just fades into the background of their lives.”

    I look forward to that day, even if it means I mask up from time to time.

  • 01Elected officials and staff of Fayetteville and Cumberland County could learn a great deal about cooperation and teamwork from our present Cumberland County delegation. Congratulations are due to our Cumberland County Legislative Delegation Chairman, Rep. Billy Richardson, Sen. Kirk deViere, Sen. Ben Clark, Rep. John Szoka, Rep. Diane Wheatley, and Rep. Marvin Lucas for the passing of North Carolina's first budget since 2018. For months they worked together diligently for one primary purpose, to do the right things to better the quality of life for the residents of Cumberland County. Serving the citizens of Fayetteville and the other eight municipalities was, and should always be, the highest of all priorities. Today, we are fortunate to have dedicated local leadership representing us in Raleigh, and they have done just that. As a result, last week, Gov. Roy Cooper signed off on a state budget and infrastructure bill that has been long over overdue. Anytime you can bring home over $402 million to your community, one must give credit where credit is due. It was only through hard work, compromise and cooperation that they accomplished this. The projects and programs funded by the new budget will impact the Cumberland County community for decades. The teamwork demonstrated by our bipartisan leadership resulted in the passage of a budget that will significantly impact Carolinians from the mountains to the coast. It targets the state's infrastructure needs in health care, K-12 education, broadband water restoration, community colleges, universities, medical research and much more. The tax policy portion of the budget is pro-growth, lowering the personal income tax and lowering the corporate income tax rates.

    In addition, military pensions for North Carolina Veterans will no longer be taxed thanks to Rep. John Szoka, the primary sponsor of HB 83 and signed on to by Rep. Diane Wheatley. According to Szoka, this will make North Carolina more attractive to military retirees from all over the country. Specifically, it will aid in attracting and retaining retirees here in Cumberland County. Another budget highlight and a huge win for our local community was the allocation of $59.6 million for the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center. Another example of fantastic teamwork, cooperation and perseverance by project Chairman Mac Healy, Mary Lynn Bryan, and members of the Center's board of directors who pursued an endeavor that is good and beneficial for the entire community. This state-run venue will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors and guests and millions of dollars into our community annually. What's not to like about that?

    This bipartisan leadership is the kind of leadership that needs to be replicated locally in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. We have an election coming up soon after the first of the year. We should be looking for and voting for candidates who want to cooperate to better the circumstances of the city and county citizens. We need honest and trustworthy leaders who understand the detriment that municipal and community silos have on the progress of a growing community. Sure, we are moving forward in our development but not at the pace we should be because the cooperation and teamwork amongst our city, county and influential community organizations are only evident in fruitless sound bites. We now have a herculean opportunity to negotiate the $402 million earmarked for Cumberland County into a formidable "can do" community. Our Raleigh delegation has set the near-perfect example of what is accomplishable through teamwork and cooperation. We must encourage and demand that our local city and county leaders do the same. We need action, not empty words. We need to keep those traits in mind when we vote for our future leaders.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 13The holiday season is always an odd time for me. I love to give gifts, but I don't really care to add to the collection of unwanted gifts. In my home, we often talk about trusting God to meet our needs. That doesn't mean we stand on the shore and watch for our ship to come in. We work hard to make sure we've done all we can to provide for our family and others, but still, we trust God.

    Sometimes I'll pray and ask for specific things — you know, a particular amount of money, favorable diagnosis of a car problem — and I suspect you do too. Nothing wrong with that, but there's truly more to having your needs met than having stuff go your way. It may be as simple as being content with where you are and what you have.

    My wife and I must be on the same wavelength concerning contentment. We have a little chalkboard in our kitchen where we'll write a recipe or date night idea, but recently I walked into the kitchen and saw these words: “What if God has already provided?” That stopped me. And the thought has haunted me for weeks. What if, in my quest for more and better, I've overlooked what I already have? It's caused me to take stock of my time, talents and resources. It's even changed the way I pray, and how I look at pretty much everything.

    Discontentment runs rampant in our culture, and today I want to offer you three choices you can make in your life that can lead you to genuine, biblical, lasting contentment.

    First, seek contentment as a lifestyle. Choose it. Acknowledge that you would not be happier if you had more. You wouldn’t be — you’d likely be more miserable. God’s Word contains clear warnings for us: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25.)

    Second, learn to say, “I have enough.” Let those words reign in your home. Push back from the table and say, “I’ve had enough.” When money comes your way — a surprise bonus from work, an inheritance from your great uncle, even finding $50 in your coat pocket — resist the cravings for more.

    Lastly, settle it. Here’s a challenge — choose a lifestyle; don’t let your income dictate your lifestyle. Choose a comfortable level of living that meets your needs, and don't compromise that with more spending when more income arrives. If you don’t choose a lifestyle, this culture will choose one for you, and by default, it will be the lifestyle of living beyond your means. Be counter-cultural. Be radical.

    Be others oriented. Let enough be enough. Learn from the examples of those around you (both the contented and the covetous.) You'll save yourself some heartache and know the joy of a truly contented attitude.

    More does not equal happier. I promise. And remember this from Philippians 4:19 — “My God will supply every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

  • 12When I made the decision to become a group fitness instructor the style of teaching that most caught my attention was barre. When we hear the word barre visuals may come to mind of floating ballet dancers in tutus and pirouettes. My husbands’ male friends had another connotation of the word bar. When he told them I was taking a class to teach barre they asked him if we were going to open a nightclub! You do not have to be a ballet dancer or have previous dance experience to take a barre class, barre is not about dance it is about movement. It is low to moderate exercise that infuses ballet, yoga and strength training for a wide variety of fitness levels. The exercises can increase flexibility, strengthen the core, improve posture and balance. You can take barre classes at private studios specifically for that purpose or fitness centers and gyms. The styles and concepts may vary but the bottom line is that they are designed towards a full-body minimal impact endurance workout.

    Barre targets specific muscle groups with movements at a slower pace. You might hear the words “feel the burn” or “shake” which means that you have worked the muscles to the peak that you feel your muscles shake and know that you have worked a muscle group to its entirety.

    A typical barre class will include a warmup, the body of the class and a cool down.

    After the warmup participants may move to the barre for exercises that target muscle groups such as hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps and calves.

    An exercise example would be a set of pliés that include static holds, pulses and engage the calves with a compound

    A set of exercises could include a set on one side and a repeat on the other side or facing the barre. A benefit in taking a class is a facility will have barres installed. The aid of a barre helps with stability, form and is a terrific addition for more complex moves and stretching. When a barre is not available facilities might use the aid of a chair for support. Classes may also include floor work on the mat with exercises for abdominals and core. The incorporation of light weights, stretch bands, Bender Balls and gliding discs are tools that can be used to further work the muscle groups. The end of class includes a cooldown and stretching. Mobility is a huge reason to take a barre class, especially for the hip flexors that tend to get tight from sitting. It improves postural alignment, flexibility and functional fitness for everyday life. It can improve the way we bend, reach for something on the shelf, turn to look at something or squat to pick up an object.

    By attending regularly, you will be able to see and feel improvements with your strength and flexibility. If you are interested in attending a class meet the instructor before beginning the class to familiarize yourself with the format and address any concerns that you may have with class participation.

    Begin with fewer repetitions or modifications and rest when needed. You will see participants with flexibility and strength levels of all ages in class. The benefits of barre are obvious in the participants that have consistently attended. Wear activewear such as leggings, t-shirt, flexible shoes, barre socks or bare feet.

    Bring your mat, water bottle and a hand towel to wipe that brow because you will sweat! Attend a class, have fun and live, love, life at the barre!

  • 05Fencing around Fayetteville’s downtown Market House will remain for at least another few months. City Council decided in April to re-purpose the historic landmark. A citizens committee came up with several ideas for transforming the building. The ideas include creating a museum of art and Black history displays or creating a marketplace for Black vendors.

    “This group is scheduled to release their recommendations in early 2022,” City Manager Doug Hewett told Up & Coming Weekly. “The fencing will remain in place pending the outcome of that discussion or further direction from City Council.”

    The Market House, built in 1838, is one of North Carolina’s 50 national landmarks. But historically was sometimes used to sell, trade and auction slaves before the Civil War.

    In May of 2020, the building was set on fire during protests following the death of George Floyd. The fire was quickly put out, resulting in minor damage. Two months later protesters camped out at Market Square for nearly a week, demanding police reform in Fayetteville.

  • 15It is Christmas time in 1944 and the men are away fighting the war. Despite their absence, the Carol sisters are determined to celebrate the season. The three Carol sisters are trying to produce “A Christmas Carol” but are having a hard time without the men. This is the premise for the next Gilbert Theater production.

    “The show is special because it's not going to be one of the same Christmas or holiday shows you can see every year,” said Lawrence Carlisle III, artistic director at the Gilbert Theater.

    The Gilbert Theater began in the basement of Lynn Pryer’s home in 1994. The Gilbert Theater has hosted classical theater productions as well as contemporary pieces. In 2012, Robyne Parrish took over as artistic director of the Gilbert Theater. She started educational programs such as the Gilbert Conservatory, Gilbert Rep and Gilbert Glee Club. She also created a volunteer base for the theater.
    In February 2017, the third artistic director, Matthew Overturf, replaced Robyne Parrish. The Gilbert Theater is a very intimate space. The theater is now located at 116 Green St., above Fayetteville’s Fascinate-U Children Museum. The entrance is on Bow Street.

    Popular in Pennsylvania, this is a newer program.

    It's heartfelt, cute and hilarious, according to the Gilbert Theater. This is the second year performing the show for Gilber Theater and the entire cast is back.

    It gives people another chance to see the musical if they missed it last year due to the pandemic.

    “Performing this musical for the second year, everyone is connecting and having so much fun,” said Eden Kinsey who plays the lead, Lilly Carol. “I love her character. Lilly is a very independent person. She’s telling the story. She is strong-willed and hard-headed."

    Kinsey’s favorite part of “The Carols” is the tap number.

    “I love the music and period pieces.”

    It is a family show with a little bit of everything, including different styles of music. “As always, I hope the audience has fun,” said Carlisle. “The show is full of laughs and heart. It is all about family.”

    “The Carols” will run Nov. 26 – 28, Dec. 3 – 5 and Dec. 17 – Dec. 19. Friday shows begin at 8 p.m.; Saturday shows are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays shows begin at 2 p.m. Concessions are available for donation.

    Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at the Gilbert Theater website, gilberttheater.com, or by calling 910-678-7186.

  • 17For the past two decades, religious organizations around town have come together right before Thanksgiving to host a service focused on gratitude and being thankful for one another.

    Although COVID-19 canceled last year’s interfaith service, it won’t cancel this year’s plan.

    “I think that the idea here is that it's refreshing to see other viewpoints of what organizations bring in their expressions of gratitude, especially in the week of Thanksgiving,” Daniel Tenrod, the communications director of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

    The congregation that hosts the interfaith service rotates every year. This year, it will be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that will host the event. In 2019, Beth Israel Congregation hosted the service.

    Tenrod says that at previous interfaith services, close to 100 people will show up from all different types of faiths from the Fayetteville community, and he says each year new people show up.

    Each participating religious congregation will talk at the service and share a special message of gratitude.

    They want to highlight mutual declarations of gratitude, peace and love.

    Participants who will be represented at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service include Beth Israel Congregation, Courtyard Church of Christ, Fayetteville Friends Monthly Meeting, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and the St. James Lutheran Church.

    In a newsletter to his congregants, Rabbi Dov Goldberg said that this time can be a place for giving thanks for the blessings everyone has received.

    “Let us come together to lift each other up, not by denying the difficulties we have faced, but by remembering that there is still much good in our lives, and although frequently more socially distanced than we would like, we are not alone,” Goldberg wrote.

    For Tenrod, seeing how people of other faiths express gratitude in their own ways is amazing to see.

    For example, he loves hearing the Hebrew prayers that come from the rabbi of the Beth Israel Congregation and being part of the quiet that comes when the Quakers of the Fayetteville Friends Monthly Meeting pray.

    “Everyone is truly grateful. It's not just something they are saying off their lips. You can feel their sincerity,” Tenrod said.

    After the service, which is typically about an hour-long, there will be a meet and greet reception with light refreshments.

    The event will take place on, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints off 3200 Scotty Hill Road.

    There will be hand sanitation stations throughout the church and masks are encouraged. There will be security at the event as well, but reservations are not required.

  • 06Cumberland County Social Services Director Brenda Reid Jackson is retiring at the end of the year. The Social Services Board of Directors has hired Heather L. Skeens to succeed Jackson beginning on Dec. 6.

    “Brenda Jackson has worked tirelessly for our county’s most vulnerable citizens over the last 13 years, and we are grateful for the impact her service has had across the county,” said County Manager Amy Cannon.

    Skeens is currently Guilford County’s Health and Human Services Director but previously served in Cumberland County as DSS Deputy Director. She will oversee the administration of one of the largest social services agencies in North Carolina. Cumberland County DSS has more than 700 employees and a fiduciary budget of over $600 million.

  • 05It's not often that law enforcement agencies give up investigations. But the death of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez, 21, of Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division “is in a cold case status,” according to Jeffrey Castro, an Army Criminal Investigation Division spokesman.

    Martinez was reported missing on May 23, 2020, at North Carolina’s Cape Lookout National Seashore. Roman-Martinez’s severed head washed ashore six days later.

    “After exhausting hundreds of leads and thousands of hours of investigation, there are no more credible investigative leads remaining at this time,” Castro added.

    Roman-Martinez’s family has expressed concerns that the apparent murder of their family member may never be resolved. U.S. House Rep. Norma Torres has been in touch with the family since his death.

    “I think that we owe our personnel at the very least and their families the respect of giving them answers,” Torres wrote in a letter to the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General. “I’m not satisfied that the Army CID has done everything in their power to solve this case.”

  • 08The Fayetteville Public Works Commission has issued $94.79 million of revenue bonds at an interest rate of 2.278%, the lowest public rate ever achieved by PWC. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. bought the bond series. PWC issued the bonds to fund improvements to its electricity, water and wastewater utilities, including $22 million to retrofit utilities in the City of Fayetteville’s Phase V annexation area.

    “The low cost of borrowing helps PWC maintain highly-reliable utility services and demonstrates the strength of Fayetteville’s utility system,” said PWC General Manager, Elaina Ball.

    Fitch Ratings has assigned and affirmed an “AA” rating to bonds issued by Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission.

    The rating reflects PWC's very strong financial performance characterized by very low leverage, strong operating cash flow and healthy liquidity, Fitch Ratings said.

  • 03Redistricting of congressional and legislative seats has created a political opportunity for former Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson. He announced on Facebook that he will run for Congress in the newly drawn 4th Congressional District. Robertson served three terms as mayor from 2013 to 2019. The new district includes all of Cumberland, Sampson and Johnston counties, as well as portions of Harnett and Wayne counties. Robertson is running as a Republican candidate.

    “There is no current incumbent running in this district, and hopefully no one else from Cumberland County will file,” Robertson said.

    He is a businessman and currently works for Cintas, an Ohio-based services company that provides uniforms, cleaning supplies and safety equipment. As mayor, Robertson oversaw Fayetteville’s efforts to build a minor league baseball stadium and secure funding for the I-295 freeway.

  • 16Thanksgiving is a day when we reflect on all we are thankful for, often that is our family and friends.

    It can be hard to spend the holidays far from family and friends.

    Fayetteville has a large military population, which means that there are a lot of folks far from home, and they often can’t make it back home for the holiday.

    “We always have a great military crowd in our taproom, and we are a veteran-owned company,” said Olivia Caughey, event manager at Bright Light Brewing Company. “We encourage those serving that do not have Thanksgiving plans to come on down!”

    BLBC is hosting Hoppy Thanksgiving for the fifth year. They are a startup nano-brewery in downtown Fayetteville located at 444 West Russell St., Suite 102. Hoppy Thanksgiving is free and open to all ages.

    The event starts at 1:30 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Nov. 25. There will be live music from 7 – 9 p.m. Dogs are welcome.

    What would Thanksgiving be without turkey?

    BLBC will be cooking up three turkeys for the event. Side dishes and goodies will be prepared and donated by staff.

    If you want to share your favorite food, they encourage patrons to bring it to the taproom. But don’t feel as though you must. You do not need to bring anything to celebrate Thanksgiving with BLBC.

    “The company expects to see some of their mug club members which is a group of 75 individuals we have invited to be a part of a group where they have a permanent mug at our taproom and special events,” Caughey said. “Also at Hoppy Thanksgiving, in addition to the mug club members, staff family and friends, and hopefully those who don't have Thanksgiving plans will come.”

    BLBC knows how to put the “hop” in Hoppy Thanksgiving.

    “We will, as always, have 15 taps, canned ciders and wines, as well as three new beers,” Caughey said. “We're bringing back our pineapple pale ale, a caramel macchiato beer and a special holiday pilsner.”

    There is no reason why you should be alone this holiday. BLBC invites those without a place to go to join them on Thanksgiving to enjoy good company, a holiday meal and a beer.

  • 04The Cumberland County school system is among several school districts dealing with school bus drivers who want higher pay. The numbers vary day-to-day, but on a typical morning this month, a school district spokesman said 315 buses picked up children. Normally, 438 buses operate morning routes.

    Last Tuesday, more than 100 school bus drivers called in sick and did not show up for their shift in protest. Some drivers from other schools were able to assist schools without drivers. School buses usually take as many as 17,000 students to school each morning. The current starting pay for all bus drivers is $12.21. Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr. said that there will need to be an annual $6 million budget they can set aside before drivers can receive a raise.

    The Cumberland County Board of Education will be holding an emergency meeting on Nov. 17 at 8:30 a.m. to discuss "recent employee compensation and working condition concerns and to address additional recruitment and retention employee bonuses and to update the 2017 Compensation Study." That meeting will be live-streamed on their YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/CumberlandCoSch/videos

  • 01President Ronald Reagan wisely said, “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”

    Today, our national debt is an unfathomable $29 trillion, and President Reagan’s warning has never been more true.

    It’s no secret that President Joe Biden and Washington Democrats are addicted to spending your hard-earned money. Their so-called “Reconciliation Plan” is a prime example. This massive entitlement and climate change bill, a radical proposal written by Bernie Sanders, will transform our society into something we don’t recognize and will cripple our economy.

    Washington Democrats have been working to finalize their bill behind closed doors — hiding details of the massive plan from you, the American people. Yet this is not the first time they have tried this trick.

    In 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously said Democrats had to pass Obamacare into law for you to find out what was in it. Fast forward to 2021 and here we go again.

    While their plan has changed throughout the last month, one thing is clear: it is a massive expansion of government control over your life from the cradle to the grave.

    To pay for it, their proposals have included $2.1 trillion in new tax hikes. The plan would punish families by raising taxes on 75% of the middle class. It raises the business tax rate to among the highest in the developed world, well above communist China’s. We all know these businesses will be forced to pass those costs along to you and it means less job opportunities.

    In fact, this tax increase will force lower and middle-income taxpayers to shoulder 66.3% of the huge corporate tax increases. It also raises taxes on 1.4 million small businesses which employ 12.5 million American workers. While they have discussed numerous tax gimmicks to target billionaires, in reality their plan would give tax breaks to the wealthy, providing families earning $800,000 with $118,000 in tax credits.

    While their elite friends get tax breaks, Democrats plan to further punish you by raising the costs to fill your car or heat your home.

    Home energy bills are already expected to increase by 54% this winter! A new natural gas tax included in their bill would increase your heating bills by an additional $242 per year. Another new tax on energy producers could cost up to 90,000 Americans their jobs.

    As if all of this wasn’t enough, President Biden’s proposal will use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. It would grant amnesty to more than 8 million illegal immigrants.

    $80 billion is spent to hire 85,000 new IRS agents to monitor your bank account if you spend just $28 a day.

    What’s worse – President Biden has tied this massive entitlement bill to infrastructure legislation. There is massive bipartisan support for investing in our roads, bridges, ports and broadband.

    Yet just 10% of their $1.5 trillion ‘infrastructure’ bill is devoted to infrastructure while the rest is devoted to propping up radical Green New Deal climate provisions.

    Rest assured, I oppose both bills because they are the wrong solutions and the wrong time. Just last week we learned that economic growth in the last quarter slowed to a dismal 2% - the worst since our economy began to reopen after the pandemic.

    Gas prices in North Carolina jumped 14 cents per gallon, tied for the largest spike in the nation.

    Supply chain issues and inflation are clearly taking a toll on families and our economy.

    I cannot support trillions in new spending and taxes that will only make Biden’s economic, energy and inflation crises worse.

    We need to get government out of the way, get Americans back to work, encourage energy production here in the U.S., and cut government spending and taxes.

    While many in Washington argue how much to tax you and how large to grow government, I will always stand up for you and your family.

  • 10The biggest country music event in Fayetteville, Stars & Guitars, is returning. The Unplugged, Unscripted, and Unforgettable lineup will take the Crown Coliseum stage on Monday, Nov. 15.
    The lineup includes legendary country superstar Clay Walker, Scotty McCreery, ACM and CMA award-winner Carly Pearce, and rising stars Matt Stell, Tenille Arts and Drew Parker.

    "We’re so excited to be bringing live country music back to our wonderful WKML audience in Fayetteville,” said WKML Programming Director Tee Gentry. “After a year away, we know our listener family is anxious to see some of their favorite artists on stage at the same time, telling stories and singing great music.”

    One thing that makes Stars & Guitars different than most other concerts is that all the artists are on the stage at one time.

    Outside of the music and the unique performances, each artist will tell a story about their music, who they are, and create an entertaining experience. There are no opening acts and there are no headliners.

    “Our listeners have heard all of these artists all over our radio station,” Gentry said. “It’s going to be such a treat to have legendary artists mixing with great newcomers.”

    The show will be performed at the Crown Coliseum this year, just like the 2019 show. Previous to 2019, the Stars & Guitars performance was at the Crown Theater.

    “Our fans really responded well to our big move into the Crown Coliseum in 2019, and we’re thrilled to be able to get back out there,” Gentry said. “There really is no experience like a Stars & Guitars event, with some of the bests artists in country music joining together on one big stage.”

    Tickets are $25 regardless of where the seat is located, however the show has sold out. The only chance to get tickets is for people to stop at the John Hiester Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Lillington on Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    Twenty pairs of tickets will be available, including front-row tickets. VIP tickets will also be given away at this event. These tickets are being given away by WKML.

    Winners do not need to be present to win the tickets. The list of winners will be published at www.WKML.com. Winners can then pick up the tickets at the radio station.

    The Crown Complex is a clear bag-only facility and still requires face masks for those who do attend the event.

    Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. They advise everyone to park in the lot adjacent to East Mountain Drive and enter there. But all of the Crown parking will also be available.

  • Vacuum trucks will soon begin collecting curbside leaves and pine straw by zip code. Collections will begin at households in the 28314 zip-code area on Nov. 22. Leaves and pine needles should be placed at the curb not in the street on the first day of the assigned pickup period.

    Piles should contain leaves and pine straw only. No tree limbs or other yard debris.

    Visit fayettevillenc.gov/leafseason for details on the loose-leaf collection dates. Residents can contact the Fayetteville call center at 910-433-1329 if they have questions.

  • 05A $2 million investment has been made to Fayetteville’s Jordan Soccer Complex adjacent to Methodist University, including the addition of new lights. The money comes from the 2016 voter-approved Parks and Recreation Bond Referendum. Operating hours will expand now that the fields are lighted.

    The soccer complex includes eight fields, public parking and access to the Cape Fear River Trail. The complex is located at 445 Treetop Drive off Ramsey Street

    “This is a game changer for Fayetteville,” Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation Director Michael Gibson said.

    “Our residents deserve world-class 21st century Parks and Recreation facilities."

    The city of Fayetteville operates the Jordan Soccer Complex through a partnership and lease with Methodist University.

  • Phil Harris, the executive director of the Sandhills Chapter of the American Red Cross, says that they are trying to make the general public aware of the constant need hospitals are facing right now with a blood shortage.

    “The supply has been challenged and the need has not stopped. So we have continued to appeal to the general public since you can't manufacture blood,” Phil Harris said.

    The local chapter has several promotions going on this month to help incentivize people to come and donate.

    One of the incentives is an Amazon Prime raffle that allows people to enter for a free trip to Hawaii.

    That incentive ends on Nov. 12. After that promotion, people are being offered a $10 Amazon gift card by email if they donate blood until Nov. 23. To volunteer or to make an appointment to donate blood, go to www.redcrossblood.org and look for a blood drive near your zip code.

  • 16Members of the Fayetteville Church gave up a Saturday morning recently to beautify the N.C. Veterans Park and the grounds of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum for Veteran’s Day.

    More than 150 volunteers, armed with shovels, pitchforks, buckets and wheelbarrows, jumped in feet first to make their community better.

    “We were chatting about ways to serve our community,“ explained Ted Campagna, event organizer and a minister at the Fayetteville Church.

    “With Veteran’s Day coming up, we thought it would be very appropriate for us to help out and show our love and support for all the veterans in the Fayetteville area.”

    And that’s when a little divine intervention took over.

    “I have a friend who works for the Cumberland County Parks and Recreation and I went to talk to him about helping in some way,” said Campagna, an army veteran. “I had actually gone to the Veterans Park to pray about what type of projects we should do before meeting with him. Once we got together, he said, ‘I have just the project for you,’ and it was at the Veterans Park. So, I think God ordained it and we followed His lead.”

    A tractor-trailer load of mulch was in need of being spread throughout the park. The motivated volunteers went to work hauling and spreading the mulch wherever they were directed to place it.

    “We were basically beautifying the area,” said Campagna. “We have Veteran’s Day just coming up and they had a tractor-trailer load of mulch they needed spread. They were short on staff, and we said no problem. We got you. It was a pleasure to work together.”

    The theme of the day for the volunteers was to serve their community.

    “We were out here trying to be like Jesus and serve our fellow man,” said Frank Bailey, a member of the Fayetteville Church. “It felt great coming out on a beautiful morning with other men and women who want to make a difference in the community and try to make it better.”

    Bailey, who was out in the park with his wife and three teenage kids, felt it was important to set a great example.

    “Bringing your family out shows the next generation it’s something you should do,” explained Bailey. “Jesus was the ultimate servant and he called us not just to follow him but to imitate Him. That means living a life of service and making a difference. We live in an area with so many veterans and people who have sacrificed so much for our country. We need to always honor them.”

    “As a veteran myself,” said Campagna. “It always went a long way when people said, ‘Thank you for your service’ and showed their gratitude. That’s one thing we need in our world is gratitude and that’s what we were trying to do. To God be the glory, we were happy to serve."

    For more information about the Fayetteville Church, go to www.thefayettevillechurch.org.

  • 15Water is essential for the earth and all living creatures to flourish. It does not take long to feel the effects of not having water. Our bodies consist of about 60% water and survival without it can range from two days to a week. The way we respond to lack of hydration can vary with age, medical conditions, medications, activity levels and heat.

    If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, chances are you are already slightly dehydrated. Think about how long a plant takes to replenish from the lack of water and we are not any different. Water is magic to our bodies and regulates our body temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, aids in the elimination of waste and lubricates the spinal cord. It also nourishes our skin, hair, nails and aids in weight loss with a boost to our metabolism and an appetite suppressant. Our blood is more than 90% water and carries oxygen to our body parts which help to maintain our blood pressure.

    The sensation of thirst diminishes as we age and with that comes the lack of nourishment for our bodies to function properly. A diminish in water intake for older adults can result in the kidneys being less effective at concentrating urine which leads to excess water loss. Medications can also be a factor in dehydration. Substantial dehydration can also cause confusion and damage to our organs.

    Let's face it water is not a habit for most because of the lack of flavor but I think that bottled water and flavors for enhancement have increased awareness. This is evident with the amount of people you see carrying a water bottle. The amount of water intake for adults can depend on a variety of factors including present health, climate and activity level. The suggested guideline for water intake is about fifteen cups for men and eleven cups for women. 70% of adults report no daily consumption, 36% say one to three cups, 35% say four to seven cups and 22% say eight cups.

    Water sources do not primarily come in the form of H20. Vegetables and fruit can add to that daily intake nourishment. Fruit that is high in water content ranging up to 90% are watermelon, strawberries, peaches, Asian pears, blackberries, papayas, pineapple and oranges. Vegetables that carry a high-water content are cucumbers, celery, zucchini, portobello mushrooms, cauliflower, turnips, tomatoes and bell peppers. Coffee and tea can cause a mild diuretic effect but not to an extreme and your body still absorbs a substantial portion of the liquid. Juice, sports drinks and broth also count as your daily hydration, and you can lower the sugar content by diluting with water.

    Drinking water can evolve into a habit and is viable for everyone regardless of age. Ways to improve water intake are drinking before and with a meal, during exercise, smaller quantities more often, add lemon or orange for flavor and keep your bottle visible.

    Drinking water is like giving your insides a shower.

    Stay hydrated my friends and grab a bottle or glass of H20.

  • 06The Cumberland County Schools Office of Indian Education is celebrating American Indian Heritage Month by posting daily videos of American Indians from across the country representing their respective tribes.

    Each video will be shared on the school district’s Facebook page.

    Members of the Lumbee Tribe Ambassadors and the Cumberland County Culture Class also visited E.E. Miller Elementary School to share their culture through dance on Nov. 1 to kick off the month.

    "Native Americans are still here," said Rodney Jackson, coordinator of Cumberland County Schools' Office of Indian Education.

    "We still exist and we are more than just a mascot. We are a culture."

    1.47% of students who attend Cumberland County Schools are Native American. That’s approximately 747 students.

  • You think you have trouble? What if you had a herd of hungry-hungry-hippos in your backyard? What if they came to dinner and refused to leave? Consider if you will, the strange case of Pablo Escobar’s legacy of Columbian hippos.

    On a recent fact finding trip to our nation’s Capital, I read an article in the Washington Post by Jonathan Edwards about Columbia’s hippo hostage situation. Allow me to elaborate.

    Once upon a time, in the country of Columbia, there was an international drug dealer named Pablo Escobar. He was a very successful drug dealer. He sold lots of drugs, ran a huge cartel and caused the deaths of lots of people. He was not the sort of fellow who you would want to move in next door to you.

    Pablo made a lot of what used to be called ill-gotten gains from his criminal enterprises. He made many monies. More than he could spend. Poor Pablo, what could he do? He had all this money burning a hole in his Swiss bank accounts and money bins. So much money, so little time to spend it all.

    Then one day in the 1980s Pablo had a moment of clarity. Eureka! He would build a zoo. Zoos need two things to work — animals and money. He had the money, now all he had to do was buy the animals. Pablo set to work and bought lots of critters including four hippos.

    Like the Carolina Tar Heels’ marching band which is the Pride of the ACC, Pablo’s zoo was the pride of the drug cartels. For quite a while Pablo’s zoo was the talk of the town. But like George Harrison once sang, "All Things Must Pass".

    Pablo came to an unfortunate end, one day in 1993, when the Columbian Army caused him to have a sudden case of lead poisoning from which he expired. Like little Jackie Paper in "Puff the Magic Dragon," Pablo would come no more to feed and admire his hippos.

    It was bigly sad.

    The Columbian Army was not in the business of zoo keeping. They sold off most of the animals except for the hippos. They left hippos alone hoping they would have the good sense to die. It did not turn out that way.
    Hippos are made of sterner stuff. Taking a cue from Mr. Spock, Pablo’s hippos have lived long and prospered. Unlike "Puff the Magic Dragon," the hippos did not sadly slip back into their cave. Rather, it turned out hippos really like Columbia.

    It reminded them of being back home in Africa. Hippos have no natural enemies in Columbia.

    The weather and jungles are perfect, a virtual hippo heaven. The hippos were happier than the proverbial pig in poop.

    The hippos got frisky and multiplied. Where there were once four hippos there are now between 80 and 120 hippos. Columbian hippo experts predict unless something is done by 2039 there will be over 14 hundred free range hippos.

    This presents a real problem. While hippos in the abstract are cute, 14 hundred hippos are not. They eat stuff. They trample crops. Their poop causes algae blooms that can kill fish. They drive out native animals and plants. In short, they are an invasive species, like Uncle Harold who came to dinner and now refuses to leave.

    What to do? The Columbian government realized that killing the hippos is a public relations nightmare. Hippos have become a tourist attraction bringing in money. The local citizens have become hippo positive. They love them some hippos. When several hippos went on a rampage, the government shot them including a crowd favorite hippo named Pepe. When a picture of a hunter standing over the late great Pepe came out, the locals protested so angrily future hunts were called off.

    If executing hippos is off the table, what options remain? Jeff Bezos has refused to take hippos into outer space on the Blue Origin because no hippo has $250,000 for a ticket.

    Taking a herd of hippos to the Mexican/American border to seek asylum would be almost impossible because there aren’t enough cowboys with hippo driving experience. Can you imagine the damage a stampede of hippos would cause? The mind boggles.

    In order to avoid a hippo border crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture donated a hippo contraceptive called GonaCon which effectively kills the mood for amorous hippos by suppressing their boy and girl urges. Hippos on GonaCon would rather eat than make whoopee.

    Gentle reader, though you may have troubles, be glad your issues do not include hippos.

  • 07Methodist University has received a record-setting gift of $14 million.

    More than $12 million will go directly to student scholarships while $1.5 million will go towards to the nursing program’s new facility. The money was given to the university by Robert J. Chaffin’s estate.

    Chaffin served on the Administrative Board and the Board of Trustees for Camp Ground Methodist Church in Fayetteville. He died earlier this year at the age of 93.

    “Mr. Chaffin clearly was not looking for attention to his generosity during his lifetime. Quietly, very much behind the scenes, he was working on building a highly successful financial portfolio for the purpose of one day making a transformative gift to the university,” said MU President Stanley Wearden.

    “While we knew he had established a bequest for the university, Mr. Chaffin never shared the full extent with us nor asked for any thanks in return.”

  • 04The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners and Fayetteville City Council have agreed to award up to $1.25 million each to help with costs related to a distribution center planned for Fayetteville.

    Robert Van Geons, President and CEO of the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation has confirmed that a U.S.-based company is considering Fayetteville for a large distribution center. Official documents indicate that Amazon is the firm involved, but that has not been confirmed by officials.

    The planned distribution center, in the Military Business Park off Santa Fe Dr. will span more than 1 million square feet. For the company to receive the grants it must commit to investing $100 million in real estate and equipment in Cumberland County over the next five years and hire more than five-hundred full-time workers with an average annual wage of about $33,000.

  • 100DollarBillsHC1404 02 sourceI have a question for all the folks who oppose taxing billionaires and hundred-millionaires. I am addressing especially those who serve in our U.S. Congress, both the House and Senate.

    What on earth are you thinking?

    Ordinary Americans pay our taxes, mostly through payroll deductions, because we believe in doing our part, or — more cynically, we don’t want to get in trouble with the IRS. Whatever our reasons, we do pay, however begrudgingly. Not so for the wealthiest Americans, whose assets come not from salaries, much less wages, but from resources they hold.

    They have the financial wherewithal to hire the best of the best consultants — tax attorneys, accountants and others to protect those assets from taxation when they are eventually sold or passed down to heirs. These professional services allow the tiny percentage of American billionaires to shield their wealth while the rest of us are dutifully transferring healthy chunks to Uncle Sam. We are not talking the well-to-do folks across town or even those considered “rich.”

    We are talking Warren Buffett (investments), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Michael Bloomberg (financial services) and Elon Musk (Tesla). Musk is now poised to be the first person on earth whose net worth is nearly $300 billion (larger than the gross domestic product of Pakistan), Bezos at $200 billion (zillions of Amazon packages), Buffett at $100 billion and Bloomberg at a relatively modest (compared to those guys), $59 billion.
    Just try to process the reality that these people pay little or no taxes and do not want to either. Musk even had a little hissy fit last week over the very idea that as a billionaire he might be taxed at all. Tweeted an annoyed Musk, “Eventually they run out of other people’s money, and then they come for you.”

    Forgive me, but I am having trouble relating to that. It is hard to know exactly how many American billionaires there are, but a quick search says just over six hundred, and that number fluctuates depending on how many of we salaried folks buy Teslas, order from Amazon and so on. Forbes magazine reported earlier this year that we have 5 billionaires in North Carolina, but nary a one in Cumberland County.

    Stunningly, no billionaires live in West Virginia, according to Forbes, but that state’s two U.S. Senators, including the contrarian Joe Manchin, both oppose taxing billionaires. Like most every other issue in our grumpy, divided and partisanly poisoned Congress, this one is split mainly but not entirely along party lines. It would seem to me that making those with the most participate in our nation’s coffers just like the rest of us is a reasonable and equitable position. If Mary who drives a school bus and Joe who does plumbing have taxes withheld, why should Elon, Jeff and Warren escape just because their wealth comes from different sources? We Americans have been in a bad mood for various reasons for about a decade, and one of the main reasons is our growing economic inequality. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer as the famed American working middle class fades away in between.

    Maybe our billionaires will avoid the proposed billionaire tax this time around, but at some point, there will be a day of reckoning about the growing gulf between the haves and the have-nots. That reckoning should come sooner rather than later, because it is not going to get any easier or prettier over time.

  • 04Cumberland County’s Health Department is administering Pfizer booster shots for approved groups but not earlier than six months after second doses have been given.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people who have compromised immune systems receive booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

    “We want all eligible citizens to get fully vaccinated before the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County, public health director.

    “We will offer Pfizer boosters at all of our vaccination locations.”

    The Health Department also provides free at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen testing kits.

    A list of approved groups and appointment applications can be found at cumberlandcountync.gov/covid19/vaccination.

    An online application form allows individuals to choose their appointment dates and times for the first, second or third doses.

  • SGT Calvin RockwardA soldier died Oct. 27 after a sudden and unexpected medical event during physical fitness training at Fort Bragg, according to U.S. Army officials.

    Sgt. 1st Class Calvin T. Rockward was attending the Special Forces Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course when he passed away.

    Rockward enlisted in the Army in 2004 as a Special Forces candidate. He has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    After his deployments, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne).

    “Sgt. 1st Class Rockward was a warrior,” Col. Ryan Ehrler, commander of 1st SFG (A), said. “An accomplished, respected, and loved Special Forces soldier and teammate, Cal was also kind-hearted and cared deeply about his family,” Ehrler added. “He always put a smile on the face of every person he encountered. We collectively mourn the loss of our brother and honor his service to the nation, and our deepest condolences go to Sgt. 1st Class Rockward’s family.”

    Rockward's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and the Korean Defense Service Medal.

    Rockward is survived by his wife and daughter.

  • 11The Fort Bragg 10-Miler event is officially kicking off this week after several cancellations over the last two years due to the pandemic.

    The run’s goal is to encourage a healthy lifestyle not just among soldiers, but with family and people outside of the military community as well.

    Jennifer Fayson, the Fort Bragg special events coordinator, said that they are excited to hold the event, especially since this run was initially canceled earlier this year and the All-American Marathon was canceled.

    “It's our first big event since 2019. You know, it's a fun event for the troops and for their family,” Fayson said. “They're able to go and participate in something fitness-wise and actually increase the morale of the base.”

    One registrant who has already started training for the run is 2019’s 10-Miler winner, Capt. Daniel Schlich. As of last week, Schlich was running laps at the Hedrick Stadium on base.

    “So starting about four or five months out, we run. I start out probably about 40 miles a week, get up to about 60 or 70 miles a week, running six days, seven days a week,” Schlich said.

    Schlich says he is hoping to run the 10 miles within 52 minutes. In 2019, he ran the race at 52 minutes and 20 seconds. That means he averaged five minutes and 14 seconds for every mile.

    Fayson however says this race is open to everybody, not just the people with speed and a great run history.

    “We also have people with strollers out here, people that bring their kids out here. So it’s all ability levels,” Fayson said.

    For those who are just starting, or may be interested in running the 10-miler for the first time, Schlich says that it’s all about your mindset.

    “I would say pacing is probably the biggest thing because most people, if you haven't ran too much or you haven't been running recently, you got kind of a race mindset. Everyone starts out really fast and you just go way too fast and burn yourself out. So you really have to pace yourself,” Schlich said.

    The race will kick off on Nov. 6 at 8 a.m. Registration for the race closes, Nov. 5, 7 p.m. and there will be no race-day registration.

    So far, over 600 people have signed up for the race, but there is space for up to 1,500 people to register.

    “I’m eager to get back out there, run a race with other people,” Schlich said. “Being able to have a crowd outside, you know, cheering you on to do your best.”

    The race will start at Sports USA and runners will go down Long Street, go down Gruber Road, turn around and come back and finish. For those who just want to watch the event, there will be music and a ‘finish fest’ for those who finish the race. Fayson warns that roads will be closed for a majority of the day starting at 6 a.m., so people will be asked to park at the Womack Hospital parking lot and then walk over to the run site.

    Registration will include an event t-shirt, a finisher coin and a tab for a free beer.

  • 03North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the sheriff of neighboring Hoke County was a man who “worked diligently to protect the people of his county in addition to making a significant difference for good in public safety throughout our state.”

    Hubert Peterkin, who had been sheriff of Hoke County since 2002, died Oct. 23 during a surgical procedure. It was reported that he had cancer.

    Peterkin was a law enforcement officer for more than 30 years, serving with the Fayetteville Police Department before joining the sheriff's office.

    He received his bachelor's degree from Liberty University and held a master's degree in public administration and a doctorate in management, according to his bio on the sheriff's office website.

    In 2015, Peterkin was elected president of the N.C. Sheriff's Association and was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine which recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the state.

  • 05Details of a Fayetteville home invasion in which the intruders were killed are still lacking. Police found two young men had been shot to death at a home on Brookstone Lane. Investigators identified one of the teens as Hunter Markham, 19. The other was a 17-year-old whose name was not released because of his age.

    The preliminary investigation indicated the teens were shot after forcing entry into the home. A third person was shot but he apparently lived in the home.

    His wound was minor. The person who did the shooting, evidently the homeowner, was not identified by police.

    Police would not say whether it was a random act or if anyone else was involved.

  • 12Fayetteville's unique connection to the military and veterans is never more evident than during Heroes Homecoming. Encompassing a week of events focused on service members, veterans and families, Heroes Homecoming has been a staple in America's Hometown since 2011. This year is no exception. The event kicks off with the annual Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade, see page 15 for the full story.

    Once families have celebrated the heroes on Hay Street, there are several additional activities to enjoy throughout the area.

    For a few of these additional events folks can head out to Dirtbag Ales Brewing and Taproom.

    Dirtbag Ales is hosting a Kickball Tournament and registrations is $25, all of which will go to Mission 22.

    Mission 22 is a national community seeking to support services members, both active and veteran and their families, in dealing with mental health issues, raising awareness and helping to remember and honor service members and veterans.

    It is a cause close to our hearts, explained Shannon Loper, operations manager, Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom. The brewery will also serve their Heroes Homecoming Pilsner.

    Dirtbag will donate a dollar of every pint of Heroes Homecoming Pilsner sold to Mission 22.

    In addition to the Kickball Tournament, patrons can purchase tickets to the Hope Mills annual Chili Cook-Off. The event has been running for approximately a decade but is celebrating its third year at Dirtbag Ales.

    Previously held in October, the event is now in November due to indecisive North Carolina weather.

    "Depending on how fickle the weather can be, nobody wants to eat a bowl of chili when it's 80 degrees outside," president of the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce, Casey Ferris explained.The cook-off is one of the chamber's biggest fundraisers, and this year they will be donating a portion of their proceed to the Veteran's Farm of North Carolina.

    VFNC's mission is to educate service members and veterans of all ages and eras on all aspects of agriculture.

    "VFCN allows veterans to become heroes in life for a second time by helping them transition into becoming the farmers for tomorrow," according to the VFCN website.

    Participation in the cook-off will cost contestants $25 and an 8-quart crockpot of chili.

    This year the chamber is encouraging festive and fun competition.

    "We want to make it a fun event," Ferris said.

    Chili consumers can purchase a chili flight, which will provide them with a selection of chili-filled shot glasses and a ticket to vote on their favorite.

    Taste-testers can buy tickets for $10 online or at the venue on the day of the event.

    Ferris said quite a few fun participants have already jumped in to compete. Competitors include, but are not limited to, the Hope Mills Fire Department, which will be serving up their "5 Alarm" chili, Fayetteville Technical Community College's Culinary Arts, Napkins and 910Comedy, who will likely be heckling and roasting their competition.

    There are cash prizes for first, second and third place, and any additional chili left after votes are counted and tallied at 2 p.m. will be sold for $5 a bowl.

    These events honor, celebrate, remember and give back to the military and veteran community and programs that support them.

    "We like the opportunity to give back and support our veterans," Ferris said. To participate in the Kickball Tournament, contact Dirtbag Ales at 910-426-2537.

    To sign up to compete in ($25) or eat at ($10) the Hope Mills Chili Cook-Off visit hopemillschamber.com/chili-cookoff-2021.

    Additional information and competition rules and regulations are available on the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce website.

  • 02No day is the same for a principal of a school. One day can be filled with meetings with teachers, staff, parents and district officials. Another could be helping in the cafeteria or working with the I.T. department to make sure the Wi-Fi is working. A principal’s job at times can seem never ending.

    But helping teachers and students succeed is what gives Joy Williams — the principal at Luther "Nick" Jeralds Middle School — the confidence she needs to keep going.

    Williams started out in the education field almost by accident. She initially got her bachelor's degree at Fayetteville State University in literature, but had a hard time figuring out what to do after she graduated. Her friend recommended that she become a teacher.

    “I started half-way through a school year replacing a teacher, and fell in love,” Williams said. “While it was not initially my first choice, it later became my only choice.”

    While working as a teacher, Williams started to see how schools work from the inside and how important administrators were to a school’s overall wellbeing. She also became involved in mentorship programs and was able to develop relationships with students outside the classroom. This gave her the perspective of what support students really needed from school officials.

    She worked to obtain certifications and received her Master of School Administration from FSU. She worked as an assistant principal at Luther "Nick" Jeralds Middle School before becoming a principal in 2012 at Howard Health & Life Science High School. A few years later she transferred back to the middle school, this time as the principal.
    In October, Williams was named 2022 Principal of the Year for Cumberland County.

    “It is exhilarating, humbling, exciting, stunning all at the same time,” Williams told Up & Coming Weekly. “I am very excited not just for myself, but for my school, for my teachers and for my students.”
    Luther "Nick" Jeralds Middle School has about 620 students that attend the school across three grade levels and approximately 50 teachers. Including teacher assistants, custodial staff and cafeteria staff, that number goes up to 75 people total.

    She attributes her success to having established relationships with her staff, having a warm and inviting climate, creating a culture of collaboration and making sure teachers have good morale and extend grace.

    “Everyone needs understanding. Without that, I don't understand how any organization is successful,” Williams said.

    Williams is a principal of a Title I school. These schools typically have students that come from low-income families and she admits that getting students engaged is harder at these schools. Williams doest see that as a problem. Rather it’s just another reason to be inventive. By being more engaged with teachers, she is able to help provide them with what they need to engage these students in different ways.

    “Knowing how much work these teachers have to prepare for their lessons, we make sure to celebrate those teachers,” Williams said. “We make sure to also celebrate teacher attendance. Without teachers, students aren't going to be successful.”

    As part of the prize for the principal of the year, Williams earned $2,000 to be used at her middle school.

    “For me, this award, this award is for the faculty, staff and students at Luther Middle School. I'm excited to win this award so my teachers can be proud of where they work every day,” Williams said. “I love our school and I'm just very honored to serve in the capacity of the principal.”

  • 08 FamilySayingGraceHC1612 sourceWe have liftoff. With this week's celebration we launch into a season which leaves no one untouched. We'll soon be orbiting a planet inhabited by events affecting people of all walks of life. The calendars of families, individuals, churches, office places and retailers online and local will soon be dominated by deadlines and an unmatched annual intensity.

    This is an understandably joyous time for many. The odd mix of nostalgia and an anticipation of new and better things to come bubbles over amid the lights, the festive decorations and friendly gatherings working in harmony to usher in a sense of excitement. Stores and online shopping carts are filled with people sending black ink to the bottom lines of ledger for businesses of every kind, and the gifts we've secretly collected for months begin to find their way inside boxes and new hiding places behind colorful wrapping paper.

    Others, though, enter the winter holiday season girded with whatever emotional armor is necessary to ward off the conflict between how familiar everything feels and a knowledge it will never be the same. Though the seats may be full, there's an empty place where a well-loved someone once sat. For some it's a spouse, parent or child. For others a sibling or a best friend. After weeks, months or even years of learning new ways to navigate old routines they find themselves in a season filled with activity and the expectation of a smile that's become hard to muster.

    On the brink of the holiday season wrapping up a year that's brought more than it's share of strangeness, the promise of the familiar seems particularly inviting this time around. And within days of the first turkey being properly thawed for its date with a Thanksgiving oven, we arrive to find state officials urging smaller gatherings as Triple-A reports record numbers of people planning to hit the road in search of congregation.

    The typical feast, with its photogenic place settings, kids gathered around a table of their own, and a big city parade on the television in the other room may be more an underground celebration this year. A celebration we hold, but don't talk about for fear of being chastised by those who would accuse us of being irresponsible.

    None of this, though, is reason for despair. None of the weird we bundle under the notion of “2020,” not the feelings of loss or loneliness, and certainly not any state or local mandates to keep it small. None of it should outweigh our love for one another or our hopeful outlook this year. The thanks we give on Thanksgiving can still be given. The joy we celebrate and love we share at Christmas can still be celebrated and shared. The One we offer thanks to is still there, and always will be. Let's walk into this season together — whether we're across the table or across the country — and realize what a gift we are to one another.

  • 05 SPP on CCC stage 1The Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater, located in downtown Lumberton, continues to present virtual concerts that have been pre-taped on its stage while the theater is closed to in-person audiences due to COVID-19 social gathering restrictions.

    The next concert is by the all-female bluegrass group Sweet Potato Pie and premieres Thanksgiving evening, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. The concert can be viewed on the theater’s Facebook page.

    It is conducted in partnership with the Robeson County Arts Council as part of its annual Bluegrass on the Blackwater series. This performance was filmed on the stage at the Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater.

    These performances were originally scheduled as part of its 2020-21 season, and continue the theater’s commitment to programming during the ongoing pandemic and its related audience restrictions for performance centers.

    These virtual performances are premiering on the theater’s Facebook page at “Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater” and subsequently are shared on its web site at www.carolinaciviccenter.com.

    The theater’s previous “Spotlight on Local Talent” Performance Series (eight installments) also can be viewed on its web site. This performance is partially underwritten by a grant from the Robeson County Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council.

    Sweet Potato Pie has been entertaining audiences for nearly two decades with their classy blend of Americana, bluegrass, country and gospel music mixed together in a style they call “sweetgrass.”

    Radio and TV are well acquainted with their “angelic” vocals from appearances on PBS, the Food Network and worldwide radio broadcasts. Hailed as the “Lennon Sisters of Bluegrass,” their show revolves around their beautiful three-part harmonies, hard driving instrumentals and down home humor. With classic songs from Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, The Judds and many more along with their chart topping original songs, the audience is in for a sensational night of family entertainment.

    The group includes co-founding and last original member Sonya Stead, guitar; Crystal Richardson, banjo; Sandy Whitley, bass; Katie Springer, fiddle; Tori Jones, fiddle; and Madeleine Baucom, guitar. All of the women are from North Carolina.

    For more information of the group visit www.sweet-potato-pie.com/

    While the concert is free, a donation link will be available to help support artist fees and production costs.

    To view the concert visit www.facebook.com/Carolina-Civic-Center-Historic-Theater-166667200079609

    Pictured: Sweet Potato Pie will perform on stage at the Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater on Nov. 26. The show is part of an on-going series of virtual concerts from the 2020-21 season adapted in response to COVID-19 restrictions.

  • 03 01 diabetes testLet’s begin with some statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:
    1. Thirty-four million people in the United States have diabetes.
    2. More than 88 million adults in the United States have pre-diabetes.
    3. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in United States.
    4. In the last 20 years, the number of adult cases of diabetes has more than doubled.
    5. Thirty-eight percent of people with diabetes were physically inactive, which means they get less than 10 minutes a week of moderate, vigorous physical activity.

    Risk factors for diabetes include:
    1. Being overweight. Eighty-nine percent of people diagnosed with diabetes are overweight or suffer from obesity.
    2. Being over the age of 45
    3. Having a parent, brother or sister with Type 2 diabetes
    4. Having gestational diabetes (during pregnancy)
    5. Being African-American, Hispanic or Native American
    6. Having fatty liver disease

    Now that you have the statistics, let’s make it personal. All of the complications from diabetes are preventable, which means that a person should never have to end up on dialysis, lose a foot, have a heart attack, a stroke or go blind, because of their diabetes. It does not have to happen.

    The key is to get your blood glucose under control. Getting tight control of your blood glucose goes beyond being compliant with the medications that your medical provider has prescribed. It is also doing your part and monitoring your blood sugar as directed by your provider, as well as making good decisions about what you eat.

    This is a disease that has a direct correlation between the sugars/starches that you consume. We all have to make better choices in our diets, consuming more protein and low-carbohydrate vegetables rather than high carbohydrate starches such as rice, potatoes, pasta, corn and bread, all of which breakdown to sugar.

    The goal for most females is no more than 30-45 grams/meal of starches and no more than 15-20 grams for snacks. For males no more than 45-60 grams/meal of starches and again no more than 15-20 grams of carbohydrates for snacks. But what does that really mean? Although this is a little over simplified, it means that approximately 1/2 cup serving of most starches are equivalent to 15 grams. We should not consume more than 2-4 1/2 cup serving of starches per meal depending on whether you are a female or male. If you are still hungry with 1/2 cup of these starches, then eat more protein or non-starchy vegetables to get full and do not go back for seconds of rice, potatoes, pasta, corn or bread.

    The other important fact is blood sugars go down naturally with exercise. You do not have to have a gym membership or fancy equipment, it can simply be walking. Our bodies are designed to move. Walking briskly for 30 minutes, five days a week will lower your blood sugars naturally as well as provide the added benefit of losing fat which is important with diabetes. The greater the amount of body fat, the more insulin resistant a person becomes, the less the body is able to use its own insulin to lower your blood sugar.

    If you are the person who cooks for your family or does the grocery shopping, remember that you have the biggest influence on habits of eating that last throughout one’s life.

    Obesity has become an epidemic in our country and we are seeing this more and more in our children. It is not that you can't eat bread, corn, pasta, rice and potatoes with diabetes, but it is learning how much you
    should eat.

    The high carbohydrate drinks such as sodas and juices, however, are not an option. One can of soda often has more than 45 grams of sugary carbohydrates, which is more than a meal's worth of sugar. It is healthier to get the nutrients from foods rather than to drink sugar with no nutritional value. This is the same for the simple sugar such as snack cakes and other non-healthy snacks.

    Lastly, everyone probably knows someone who has had something horrible happen as a result of uncontrolled diabetes. This does not have to be you.

    Know that you have control over the outcomes for your diabetes. When you have done your part with your food choices, exercising, checking your feet, and following up for your annual eye exam, your healthcare provider will do the rest with appropriate medications.
    Call 1-844-735-8864 for assistance with managing your diabetes with the help of a SeHealth primary care provider who can refer to an endocrinologist or diabetes educator if needed.

  • 01 01 Coventry Carolers Perform at the Jubilee 2018 4The season of gratitude and giving is upon us. It is dark by dinner, there is a chill in the air (some days), and downtown shops are announcing their events for holiday shoppers. We’ve all had to adjust to a “new normal” in 2020 — we accepted a scaled-down version of a ‘Dickens Holiday,’ and didn’t make too much of a fuss about the cancelled Rotary Christmas Parade. 

    There is still one vestige of “life before COVID” that we can take advantage of in Fayetteville. We can celebrate the Christmas season with Victorian flair at the annual Holiday Jubilee at the 1897 Poe House on Dec. 6 from 1-4 p.m.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex invites the public to attend this holiday event featuring a concert by Fayetteville’s own Coventry Carolers.

    The Coventry Carolers perform seasonal Victorian Christmas songs in realistic period costumes. The members have more than 150 years combined choral experience in the U.S. and abroad.

    The Coventry Carolers will perform at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. The Christmas concert takes place on the front porch of the Poe House and each set lasts approximately 30 minutes. Visitors are asked to bring their own chair, wear a mask and social distance. Seating will not be provided. Admission to the concert is free.

    The 1897 Poe House will be open for the Holiday Jubilee from 1-4 p.m. and decorated for a Victorian Christmas providing a beautiful backdrop for this festive event. Visitors may view the first floor only, which includes the parlor, sitting room and dining room, for a small donation of $2 per adult and $1 per child ages 5-12. For the Jubilee, occupancy will be limited to 15 people in the house at one time, masks are required and social distancing guidelines will be enforced.

    The 1897 Poe House, part of the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, reopened for guided tours in November with tours offered at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. On these days, visitors must check in at the Museum of the Cape Fear lobby to sign up for the tour. Tours are limited, masks are required and social distancing guidelines will be enforced.

    The 1897 Poe House will be decorated for Christmas from Nov. 28 through Jan. 9, 2021. Although the Poe House and Museum of the Cape Fear will be closed for Thanksgiving Nov. 26-27, they will reopen on Nov. 28.

    This project is supported by the Arts Council and contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources.

    Matching funds are being provided by the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex Foundation, Inc.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, located on the corner of Bradford and Arsenal avenues is currently open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The museum operates under the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Admission to the museum is free.

    For more information about the museum, the Poe House or the Holiday Jubilee visit https://museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov/

  • 02 empty placeWith mere weeks left in this God-awful year of 2020, there is some positive news to digest.

    While there is still much we do not understand, we have learned a lot about COVID-19. We know it is spread largely through respiratory contact, and that some infected people spread the virus but show no symptoms and are not ill themselves. This knowledge focuses our behaviors and activities.

    In addition, not one but two, pharmaceutical companies report better than 90-percent efficacy of their newly developed COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Anthony Fauci and other infectious disease experts are heartened, as the rest of us should be.

    We have a long way to go until either one or both become publicly available, probably first to health care providers, then to high-risk populations, and finally to the general public. When my turn comes, I will be in line for sure, both to protect myself and also those whom I love and who love me. Experts say we are looking at spring or summer of 2021, at best.

    Between now and then, the holidays loom. These are occasions when we traditionally gather with family and friends for both festivities and religious observances. The holidays form our most cherished moments and our collective memories. At a time when we want and need to be together, many of us will not and should not do so.

    The United States and much of the rest of the world are staring down a third, and perhaps the deadliest, pandemic surge so far. Unlike earlier surges clustered in metro areas like Seattle and New York City, the virus is now everywhere in our nation, rampaging through previously unscathed rural areas across our nation and occupying more hospital beds than ever before. Communities where residents felt safe no longer are. While certain populations, including seniors, remain at higher risk, the virus has become an equal opportunity invader, striking younger people, including some children. Sadly, the United States passed a quarter of a million COVID-19 deaths last week.

    Looking back over this dreadful year of COVID, two complicating factors jump to the forefront. Most nations have some national public health system, but the United States leaves public health to individual states. That means that each state has reacted differently and without coordination, and most state systems are woefully underfunded. The lack of a national public health structure has allowed the virus to spread freely among states under lockdowns, like New York was, and states with few restrictions, like those in the Midwest where the virus now rages.

    In addition, millions of Americans have been afflicted with magical thinking, some of them in the highest decision-making positions. Despite the human and economic carnage wrought by COVID, deluded Americans assert the virus is a “fraud,” that divine intervention protects them, that face coverings are a political choice not a public health necessity, or some other inexplicable and unsupportable fantasy. Such thinking and behavior has given the virus free range to spread rapidly and widely. The United States leads the world in infections and deaths when we should be leading the world in the other direction.

    Our 2020 holidays will be like no others. As we “gather” in small groups or electronically, it will be with empty seats at our tables — some of them permanently, and the knowledge that it did not have to be this way. All we can do now is take care of each other as best we can as we pass through this dark winter and await the vaccines.

  • The Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, or C-STEP, housed in the office of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, seeks to admit, identify, enroll and graduate high-achieving, low-to-moderate income students transferring to UNC-Chapel Hill from partner community colleges.

    Fayetteville Technical Community College’s C-STEP program began in 2011. Each year, two cohorts of students — a group of first-year FTCC students and a group of second-year FTCC students — participate in C-STEP.

    FTCC students Halona Dantes and Anjali Saji attended FTCC’s open house during summer 2019. Both young ladies arrived in Fayetteville the day before the open house event. Both students are from India where their mothers, who are nurses, participated with a recruiting agency for nurses to allow their families to emigrate from their home country to the United States. Neither student nor family knew each other before their arrival in Fayetteville.

    “My parents sacrificed a lot for me, and the thought of having a chance to better myself with the educational opportunities within the United States is what motivated my parents to make the move,” Dantes said.

    The process for Dantes' parents to leave Kuwait and Saji’s parents to leave Bahrain began in 2018 and was not an easy feat.

    Dantes said, “The process is hard and intense, and I wanted to do well in college because of all the advantages my parents were trying to afford me with.”

    Each family had to complete a compilation of tests and exams in English and score proficiently in each area to pass. They also had to complete and pass an interview. At the time, they did not know that both mothers would end up working as nurses at Cape Fear Valley Hospital.

    After applying and being selected to C-STEP, both students quickly adjusted to the program and made friends with their cohorts.

    Saji reflected on that early period: “I was really scared, and I had a fear about coming from abroad and being accepted," she said. "However, my cohort group was very accepting and welcoming. The fear I had about making friends vanished because I got to make friends through class engagement and various other components that the program provides.”

    Each student exudes the embodiment of what it means to be a C-STEP student. Each student has goals, accountability, strong character and a desire to achieve and give back to the community.

    The C-STEP program requires interested students to earn their associate degree at a North Carolina Community College and then transfer to Carolina to complete their studies. Once a student completes a degree at FTCC, he or she is guaranteed admissions into Carolina.

    But the advantages offered to C-STEP students go far beyond providing them with admission into UNC-Chapel Hill. C-STEP is an all-encompassing program that allows students to gain extensive knowledge of the Carolina campus, meet key individuals who will be of aid when they arrive at Carolina, and receive an opportunity to learn and grow with like-minded individuals who become far more than just peers.

    Saji summed up her motivation to succeed: “How could I not do well in my classes? My parents have given up and sacrificed so much to give me a better chance.”

    For more information about FTCC and C-STEP, please contact the author, the FTCC C-STEP Progam Director, at

    07 01 DSC 0734Halona

    07 02 DSC 0709anjali











    Pictured:  (Left) Halona Dantes and (Right) Anjali Saji.  Both are students in FTCC's C-STEP program.

  • 04 the CarolsThis holiday season the Gilbert Theater presents its newest Christmas production, “The Carols,” starting Nov. 27.

    “The Carols,” with its classic 1940’s style comedy set during World War II, is a story about the three Carol sisters who run the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and are struggling to put on their annual “A Christmas Carol” production while facing another dilemma — the lack of men in town due to the war.

    “So they decide they're going to cast all women, then put an audition notice out, nobody shows up but this surprise guest,” Director Robyne Parrish said. “This one dude, Melvin, shows up and he's not quite right but he's all they've got, so they hire him on and they put together one of the most ridiculous ‘Christmas Carols’ of all time.”

    She describes it as a sweet, feel-good movie about family, loss and hope. The production shows the sisters struggling to put on their show with just four people, said cast member Evan Bridenstine.

    “It seems impossible for quite some time but then they perform and that's the act two,” he said. “The songs are great, none of them are those you've heard, most of them have that ear-worming quality that gets in your head and stays for a while.”

    Bridenstine, who plays the character of Melvin, described the production as funny, yet having a seriousness to it, due to the times it's set in.

    Parrish said the themes for the hour and 45-minute show are family, ‘there’s no place like home,’ and a kind of Christmas carol in disguise.

    The Artistic Director for the theater, Lawrence Carlisle, described the show as something on a lighter note that is needed during current times.

    “The Carols” will run three different weekends: Nov. 27- 29, Dec. 4-6 and Dec.18-20. Patrons can purchase tickets on the website. Tickets start at $16 but the theater offers discounts for military, students and first responders. There will be a military appreciation day with tickets being $10, Carlisle said.

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the theater, which usually holds about 100 people, has had to cut down capacity to 25. There will be temperature checks for patrons, a requirement for masks and contactless entry with use of electronic tickets.

    On Nov. 28, the first Saturday show, there will be a masked performance where the actors will wear face shields to accommodate patrons who don’t feel comfortable with mask-less actors, Parrish said.

    Despite continued concerns with the pandemic, the Gilbert continues to produce local entertainment even as it struggles, Carlisle said. Having to reduce audience capacity, buying additional cleaning supplies and rearranging how they do things has been interesting, he said.

    Parrish said the theater already operates on a small budget where about 50-75% of the annual budget comes from ticket sales.

    “It wasn’t going to work for us to just go in the dark for a year, and wait for a vaccine,” Carlisle said. “To not have any shows at all, you know, we would have just gone out of business.”

    Since a lot of people can’t be with family this holiday season due to the pandemic, Parrish said attending a show can be a way for them to feel like they’re a part of something.

    “If you’re looking forward to a little bit of joy during the holiday season and a little opportunity to escape and just smile … this show will allow people to escape, for a little while, from all that we are going through right now,” she said.

    For more information on “The Carols” and Gilbert Theater, visit www.gilberttheater.com/index.php

    Pictured: Cast members of "The Carols" rehearse for the musical scheduled to open Nov. 27 at the Gilbert Theater.


  • 06 Trump Book Cover copy this oneBefore running for President of the United States, billionaire real estate investor and developer Donald John Trump was probably most notably known for co-authoring “Trump The Art of the Deal,” which enjoyed a 13-week run on the coveted New York Times bestseller list.

    In this book co-authored by Donald Trump and journalist Tony Schwartz, Donald Trump is portrayed as the great deal maker, and a man able to negotiate and navigate the complicated road map to bring parties together to formulate some of the greatest business deals.

    It was on this premise that in 2016, candidate Donald Trump ran for the U.S. presidency. He ran on the premise of being able to bring the most diametrically opposed world leaders, politicians and industries together in order to “Make America Great Again,” and to once and for all “Put America First.”

    Donald Trump’s “Put America First” agenda quickly turned one of the most beloved businessmen in America into one of the most hated world leaders of all time. Although Donald Trump is probably most notably known for his co-authoring of “The Art of the Deal,” his presidency may be most notably known for the Democrat-written global stage play known as “The Art of Steal.”

    This global “stage play” is loaded with a cast of political leaders from around the globe. From America to Russia, and from North Korea to Ukraine, “The Art of the Steal” is performed on a world stage and produced by a full array of mainstream media outlets.

    Filmed on location at the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, “The Art of the Steal” is guaranteed to take not just your breath away, but your votes as well.

    During the 2020 election blockbuster, Democrats activate their plan to steal the 2020 election using tools that range from collusion to impeachment, civil unrest to a global pandemic, and from unsolicited mail-in ballots to dead voters.

    All these twists and turns have contributed to what former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the lead characters in this political saga, notably called the “most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.”

    This intriguing storyline is riddled with communism, Marxism, and good old-fashioned American patriotism.

    Due to all of the plots and schemes embedded in this expose of political correction, manipulation and scandal, the release date of this epic has been postponed from Tuesday, Nov. 3 until a later date to be determined. Stay tuned for a Supreme Court version of this global spectacle complete with dissents and opinions from the high court that are guaranteed to satisfy the hearts of one side of the country and infuriate the hearts of the other half.

    J. Antoine Miner Sr. is a retired Army Chaplain Assistant and a wounded combat veteran. When he is not writing satire, he serves as the Executive Director of the EMPACT One Foundation.
    EMPACT One Foundation is a local organization dedicated to providing needed resources, programs and services to individuals, families and communities most in need. Through donations and community outreach, E1F strives to make a lasting impact in the lives of the people they serve in the community.

  • 08 SFC Barretos homeThe family of a fallen 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper got the keys to their new ‘Hero Home’ on Veterans Day. Operation Coming Home unveiled the new house in Wake County earlier for the family of the late Sgt. 1st Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz of Morovis, Puerto Rico.

    He was killed during combat operations September 5, 2019, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Barreto’s widow and young children moved into the house Nov. 11 during a ceremony presented by Operation Coming Home and other organizations which built the home in Wendell for the family.

    “We are proud of him and his sacrifice,” said Barreto’s widow Legna Aponte.

    “This house means hope, it’s healing and it’s an honor because it’s built because of my husband.”

    Sgt. 1st Class Barreto was considered a hero by his compatriots. One of the soldiers who served with him in Afghanistan called him a great leader. “It was my first deployment, and I just built a relationship with him,” said Domenic Canzano. “It’s heartbreaking.”

  • 05 IMG 4385Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side. Lou Reed left us with that bit of wisdom before he checked out in 2013. If you feel that 2020 has followed Lou Reed’s advice, you pass Go and collect $200. This year has the Rona, stock market vertigo, mass unemployment, political masks, and the late great Presidential election. If 2020 were a TV character it would be George Costanza in the scene where he is trying to convince his date he is a troubled soul so she will sleep with him. George tells her: “I’m disturbed. I’m depressed. I’m inadequate. I’ve got it all.” 2020 has got it all. As Larry David would say, you might think things were pretty, pretty bad. But it could be worse. It can always be worse. Never, ever under any circumstances say: “Things can’t get worse.”

    Right now if you are reading this drivel, you are on the planet Earth. Despite some short comings here and there; plague, famine, wars, and mischief caused by the thirty-eight Horsemen of the Apocalypse, things could be worse. You could be on the newly discovered Hell Planet K2-141b. The astronomer buddies of K2-141b just call it K2 so we will too. Thank goodness for schadenfreude. I am comforted by the knowledge there is a planet where things are much worse than they are on Earth. It is a character flaw on the part of your writer to enjoy the misery of another planet but that’s life.

    Right now you are probably asking yourself, “Self, what is wrong with K2? Should I be adding it to my list of things that wake me up at 3:00 a.m.?” Take a little interstellar voyage on the Starship Peabody to visit K2. Pack a lunch as it is hundreds of light years from Earth. K2 is what the scientists at the Royal Astronomical Society call a Lava Planet. That does not mean it is composed of Lava, the Hand Soap made with pumice that comes in the bright red package. No Sirree, Bob. K2 has oceans made of molten lava. The same kind of lava that comes out of volcanoes in Hawaii into which virgins are thrown to appease the Gods to insure a good cocoanut crop. K2 has the kind of toasty lava that makes the pizza burn on the top of your mouth from an oven fresh pepperoni pizza look like child’s play.

    K2 is consistent. Its ocean, atmosphere, and continents are all made out of rocks. When it rains on K2, it rains rocks not violets. It’s so hot there when the lava ocean evaporates and the residue cools off in the atmosphere it rains back down as rocks. Singing in the rain would not be too much fun on K2. Gene Kelly could not sing many lyrics before he would be pounded into mush by the rhythm of the falling rain. K2 is a bit breezy with winds blowing over 3000 miles an hour. If there are any answers blowing in the wind on K2, not even Bob Dylan could find them. Like Earth’s moon, the orbit of K2 only allows one side of K2 to face its sun. The sunny side of K2 is about 5400 degrees Fahrenheit. The always dark side of K2, with apologies to Pink Floyd is minus 328 degrees.

    Fortunately, Earth’s rock and roll super stars have been trying to warn us about K2 for many years. It is no coincidence that such singers as David Bowie and Elton John would know about a planet where it rains rocks. After all they are rock stars.

    David Bowie warned us about K2 way back in 1969 in his song Space Oddity. Gentle Reader, be warned. If you were Major Tom and Ground Control choose you to visit K2, you have lost the space lottery. Somebody in the upper echelons of NASA does not like you. Once you got close enough to be caught in K2’s rock rain bad things would happen. “Ground Control to Major Tom/ Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong/ Can you hear me Major Tom? / Can you hear me Major Tom?” At that point Earth with all its faults would look pretty good.

    Elton John also tried to warn us about K2 in his song Rocket Man. Elton gets all space suited up and does his pre-flight rituals. In his heart he knows something isn’t right about the mission. Supposedly he is going to Mars, but like the book of Revelations, the song is in code. He is not singing about Mars. He is singing about going to K2. He is “the rocket man burning out his fuse up here all alone/ Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids/ In fact it’s cold as Hell/ And there is no one there to raise them if you did/ And all this science I don’t understand/ It’s just my job five days a week./” Because this song is in code, when Elton sings about Mars being cold he is really talking about K2 being hot. You have to read between the lines. It’s a secret message from the Illuminati.

    So, what have we learned today? Once again, almost nothing. I apologize for wasting your time on our literary celestial trip. But know this, Grasshopper, things on Earth are not nearly as dire as they are on K2. We have our own Little Rocket Man in North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. He is bad enough, while he does have nuclear weapons, but he has not yet mastered turning the ocean into a sea of fire even though he frequently threatens to do so.
    Put on a happy face. It’s not going to be 3400 degrees tomorrow. Like Little Orphan Annie says, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” Happy Thanksgiving to us one and all.

  • 09 Chief Hawkins FPDFayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins has publicly conceded that morale is low among officers while turnover is high.

    “Morale is low. It’s low for a lot of different reasons,” she told City Council recently. “But we still are resilient. We are still doing our job.” She did not elaborate as to why she believes morale is on the decline, but she also said retention of police personnel is a problem.

    The FPD’s authorized strength is 434 sworn officers. The current turnover rate is 10% or 43 vacancies. Hawkins said 391 officers are currently on the payroll. Turnover rates and morale are linked. According to the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, the average nationwide turnover rate of law enforcement officers is 10.8%.

    Fayetteville patrol officers work 12-hour shifts. Hawkins told city council that many employees no longer think of police work as a 20-or-30-year career. Law Enforcement wages are higher than Fayetteville in many North Carolina cities. The chief has noted that that retention is a problem because Fayetteville cops earn a starting salary of $38,000 a year. Salaries in North Carolina’s top five municipal police agencies are: Greenville $50,666; Raleigh $47,741; Smithfield $45,645; Jacksonville $45,597 and Apex $45,066.

  • 10 01 HT2020 Poster letter 10022020Falcon Children’s Home, located in the town of Falcon in eastern Cumberland County, has about 100 employees who serve over 80 youth of all ages. Since 1909, FCH has been providing a home for children who, for whatever reason, are unable to live with their parents. FCH has directly or indirectly touched an estimated 15 thousand lives through its various programs and foster care

    Since 1949, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, visitors kick off the season of giving by donating much needed commodity items and monetary gifts that help FCH stay operational throughout the year. The annual Harvest Train is one of the most important days of the year at FCH. Along with gratitude, visitors usually watch a stage production by the children, caregivers and teachers at FCH. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, FCH will not be able to conduct the usual Harvest Train parade and production.

    This year, in lieu of the parade, FCH presents “All is Bright Christmas Lights,” a drive-thru lights show on the campus Nov. 19-21 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. nightly with a live nativity. Staff will be present to direct visitors and guests through the lights and to give out FCH keepsake mementos to those who come through and drop off donations.

    The tour is free, and while donations are appreciated, they are not required to attend the "All is Bright Christmas Lights" event.

    Visitors can begin at 7569 N. West Street in Falcon and turn the vehicle radio to station 89.5 FM and listen to the sounds of the season as well as greetings from ministry leaders. At the end of the tour, visitors can stop at the brick warehouse and drop off commodities and donations. There will be a decorated box for each cottage so visitors can bring bagged candy for the students as well as a secured donation box for checks and/or monetary donations. Total monetary donations will be announced during the virtual program on Nov. 24. In keeping with COVID-19 guidelines, visitors are asked to remain in their vehicles. FCH staff will assist in unloading donations.

    On Nov. 24 at 7 p.m., supporters of FCH can see a pre-recorded showing of the Harvest Train 2013 program “The Two Trees” on Facebook. The story follows the life changing experience of two teenage boys as they work at Ed’s Christmas Tree Lot. Their lives are forever changed by the events that occur there. The story echoes the sentiment found in Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

    Top commodity needs this year include: canned goods, paper towels, toilet paper, 13-gallon size trash bags, ethnic hair products, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, hand soap, disposable take out trays and breakfast cereals. Routine needs include: socks, bath towels, twin size comforters, pillows, diapers of all sizes. To donate larger items, call FCH at (910) 980-1065.

    To find out more about how to be involved with FCH or donation needs visit https://www.falconchildrenshome.com/ or www.facebook.com/FCHFS. To learn more about the Harvest Train and this year's "All is Bright Christmas Lights" visit www.harvesttrain.com.

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  • 01 01 dickens1900037‘A Dickens Holiday’ holds a special place in the hearts of many area residents. Locals look forward to coming together and kickstarting the holiday season with this festive event in downtown Fayetteville. Like so many other traditions in 2020, this year’s event will be a little different due to the pandemic, but participants will still be able to enjoy the beloved event inspired by Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

    “This is the 21st year we are doing this festival, usually it happens the day after Thanksgiving,” said Antonio Renteria, director of operations for the Arts Council of Fayetteville.

    “It started off as a way to bring traffic from the mall area to downtown and focus on those small businesses. It grew from there,” he said.

    Instead of a one-day event, this year’s celebration is titled ‘In the Spirit of Dickens,'” and also offers events on the two weekends before Thanksgiving with musicians and other performers.

    “We’ll have some carolers out there and cut outs to bring the holiday season even sooner,” Renteria said.

    The holiday may look different this year, but the Arts Council is using the opportunity to return the focus to supporting downtown merchants, he said.

    Merchants will be doing different specials leading up to the main festival on Nov. 27. The festival won’t have the usual fireworks or the candlelight procession. Also absent this year will be the arts and crafts vendors set up in the downtown area.

    “These are some things that we are not doing to mediate some of the larger crowds,” Renteria said. “We are encouraging merchants to bring out holiday gear and come out of their shops and decorate,” he said. “We’ll have the Fayetteville Orchestra, and different actors, like Scrooge, Ghost of Christmas Past, walking up and down the streets.”

    This year’s festival will be a combination of efforts with the Arts Council and Cool Springs Downtown District to provide a unique shopping experience.

    What we do plan to do is still support our mission of combining the arts in support of our local business and restaurants, that will also allow us to help support our local artists that have been out of work since March, said Robert Pinson, interim president/CEO of the Arts Council.

    “The idea is that you may not know exactly what is happening downtown, but you know that there is something fun to see and do and shop, or a great restaurant for lunch or dinner,” Pinson said.

    Some of the other attractions downtown for the festival will include Coventry Carolers, local adult and youth musicians from Fayetteville Symphony, brass quartets and Dickens character actors from the Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

    “One of my favorite things that we are doing, and I am glad we are getting a chance to do it again this year, is the ‘Gingerbread Community of Hope’ … a gingerbread house competition,” Renteria said. The competition is open to the public, there’s no cost to enter, and you can go online to sign up, he said.

    The Encore Academy will display entries in their windows beginning Nov. 23, Pinson said.

    “The houses will be up that Monday before and stay up the whole week, so people can come downtown, look at them, scan the QR code and vote on the ones they like,” Renteria said. “It’s a public competition so the community really gets to come out and decide which is the best one.”

    The winner of the competition will receive a $250 prize and will be announced the weekend of the event.

    The Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum will be doing story time for children and there will be horse drawn carriage rides, said Metoya Scott, public relations manager for the Arts Council.

    Like every other year, attendees and visitors are encouraged to dress up in Dickens-themed or Victorian clothing, and a guide to the dress code is available on the Arts Council’s website, Renteria said.

    The Arts Council will stream certain events live on the festival’s event page on Facebook for those who don’t feel comfortable coming downtown due to the pandemic.

    “For me the biggest thing you’re coming for … is getting to see the carolers and Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Past, walking around and really just get you into that holiday spirit,” Renteria said.

    The event will end the evening of Nov. 27 with the lighting of the community Christmas tree in front of the Arts Council.

    “If you're looking for a way to forget about 2020 a little bit, then get outside and enjoy the holiday season for the pure sake of it just being the holidays," Renteria said. “This is definitely the time to come out and do it and leave with a smile on your face.”

    For more information about ‘In the Spirit of Dickens,' visit https://www.theartscouncil.com/feature/dickens-holiday

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  • 03 01 IMG 5971No doubt, as Americans, we cherish the right to have our voices heard. Currently, with the anger and contention surrounding the 2020 elections at all levels of government, these voices are not only numerous, but they are also loud, angry and obnoxious, and drowning out humanity's reason, logic and any hope of conciliation.

    Three unfortunate examples are what is happening in Portland, Minneapolis and, most recently, in Washington, D.C. during the Trump support rally. Rioting, looting, assaults, destruction of personal property, and for what purpose? With the devastation in downtown Fayetteville on May 30th still fresh in our memories, we cannot let this happen again to our community of Fayetteville. However, it very well may unless we trust our local leaders and hold them responsible for the health and welfare of all our citizens.

    The first step in suppressing conflict and avoiding confrontations is to identify and tap down the flashpoints. Local media is a significant flashpoint in our community and plays a substantial role in dividing our community. Fayetteville has no local TV station to keep us informed or to showcase the city, which is an embarrassment for a community of this size and stature. This leaves us with a daily newspaper that is anemic. It's a decent vehicle for the distribution of fliers and inserts but mostly serves up negative, biased liberal content that is as relevant, frequent and stale as two-day-old bread.

    Unfortunately, local talk radio station WFNC "doubles down" and regurgitates verbatim the newspaper's partisan content, avoiding any sense of fairness, responsibility or journalistic integrity. Lastly, there are the self-serving opportunists who take advantage of Fayetteville's current racial, civil and political circumstances to second guess our leadership. Some wish to be recognized as radical activists or social icons. Others want to establish political power, while others seek notoriety, fame and celebrity status by claiming they speak for the masses. Regardless of their motives and rogue actions, these independent voices cause confusion, mistrust, dissension and misinformation among the ranks of local residents.

    The future of the iconic Fayetteville Market House is the most critical and volatile decision facing our community. Representing both history and heritage, there are passionate feelings on all sides regarding its future. Should it be left as is? Torn down? Repurposed? We'll see what the future holds. In the meantime, as the local weekly community newspaper of record, we are subject to many diverse perspectives. This is why we are advocating that citizens be tolerant and patient while the Mayor, City Council and the committees they have appointed evaluate the options available that will best serve the city and its citizens.

    During this time, tapping down the aggressive and hostile rhetoric concerning the future of the Market House will go a long way in making sure it doesn't become an explosive racial issue. Currently, movements, protests and petitions on both sides of the controversy are incredibly premature. Communication, education, awareness, patience and empathy are essential here. We must hear from the entire community and let the process work to a conclusion fairly judged on its merit. It would be unconscionable for anyone to use the Market House circumstance for personal political advancement before the current leadership concludes their study.

    These are volatile times, and trust is at a premium. No one wants to see our community torn apart on any single issue. Let's be patient and give the Mayor and current leadership a chance to perform without interference. In the process, it will become evident who the real leaders are looking out for all the citizens of Fayetteville. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 11 couple computerCredit is like a key. If you have good credit, then you can unlock more of society’s doors than someone with bad or no credit. Credit plays such an important role in our lives that Congress created an entire system to ensure that your credit is reported correctly. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) ensures that compawnies who run and report your credit (i.e., Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) and companies who provide information to consumer reporting agencies such as credit card companies, auto finance companies, bank collection agencies, etc., do not harm you with false information. Broadly speaking, the agencies or companies who report your credit information must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information, nor can they report outdated negative information.

    On a more personal level, the FCRA provides seven consumer rights:
    1. You have the right to know what is in your credit file.
    2. You have the right to know what, if any, of your file has been used against you.
    3. You have the right to ask for your credit score.
    4. You have the right to challenge inaccurate or incomplete information.
    5. You have the right to “prescreen” offers of credit and insurance you receive as a result of information in your file.
    6. You have the right to limit access to your file and obtain a security freeze.
    7. You have the right to prevent your employer from accessing your credit report.

    If your rights are violated, you can seek damages for FCRA violations. The FCRA distinguishes between negligent and willful violations. If someone negligently violates the FCRA, then a consumer victim can recover their actual damages and attorneys’ fees. Conversely, willful violations allow a consumer victim to recover between $100 and $1000 dollars in actual damages, attorneys’ fees, and, if allowed by the court, punitive damages.

    Your credit is important and it is protected by Federal Law. If you are having issues with your credit report or have received notification indicating that you were being rejected based on a consumer report that contained inaccurate information, it is important to know your rights and to consider seeking the advice of an experienced consumer protection attorney.

  • 04 silouette ballot We the people are sick and tired of the election buffoonery. I believe that when things go sideways, you should either go back to basics or change the process because you have nothing to lose.

    Our American election process is the foundation of our democracy and the cornerstone of a free society. However, I think we can all agree that we may need a little election reform and demand that leaders make it a priority. I have a few ideas to help with some out-of-the-box ideas to a better approach to voting.

    What if we labeled both the Democratic and Republican Parties as terrorist groups and outlawed them? Then make everyone an "independent" to only vote on the merits of the best candidates representing your beliefs, family, community and county. Instead of primary run-off elections, debates, town hall meetings, and community roundtables, we have a voting process like American Idol using a panel of judges who vote candidates off each night until we get a winner. This would cut out party loyalty and annoying telemarketers relentlessly raising money for his or her favorite candidate. If their campaign requires mailers directly to your house, the Post Office should charge a surcharge to underwrite the mail carriers. Seriously, everyone said the Post Office could never get the ballots processed and delivered on time, yet they have no problem delivering those crappy flyers and junk mail.

    Each state is responsible for their election certification. They need to have a voting process free from cheating, impropriety and a simple method to count. It is hard to imagine that in 2020, we cannot vote securely on our cell phones. Think about it! We pay our taxes, bank, gamble, and can even find a love interest using these devices, yet these techno geniuses can't figure out a way that will allow us to vote securely? After all, these devices have facial recognition, fingerprint capabilities, special codes and besides, your phone knows where you live. I assure you that if the Silicon Valley tech geniuses cannot figure it out, then the casino gurus in Las Vegas can. Oh, if someone does not own a phone, they can always vote the old fashion way - in person. Here's another voting idea: We should have an intelligence test to pass before allowing you to vote. After all, if we must identify traffic lights to get on a website through CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) to confirm we are human, it's reasonable to ask a few simple questions to ensure we are mentally capable of voting.

    Election day voting should start at midnight, Coordinated Universal Time (or UTC), which is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time and lasts all day. Twenty-four hours and stop at 2359 hours UTC. This gives everyone the same time and chance to vote anywhere in the world. The only people who would vote absentee would be those in the military conducting combat operations. No media outlet should be allowed to call an election. The only person authorized to announce and declare a winner is who the state designates as the official election spokesperson.

    Depending on what is being voted on, not everyone should be allowed to vote in America. For instance, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you do not get to vote. Period! You would not let someone walk in your house and start giving you advice about how to do your taxes, how to raise your kids, or what you should buy with your own money. So, why would it be suitable for a non-citizen to determine the direction of our country's future? Locally, if you do not own a property, you should not be allowed to vote on raising property taxes for projects for which you get no benefit.

    I remember as a kid watching “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.” They had two antagonist spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, who frequently interfered in Rocky and Bullwinkle's affairs. We know foreign governments do that. Even the United States has done its part to influence other country's elections. In this election, there has been no evidence of foreign interference. So instead, maybe we should focus our attention on local interference. All Americans have the freedom and right to vote without fear. If someone interferes in an election, they should be charged with a federal crime and lose their voting privileges. This includes the stealing of campaign signs out of someone's yard. That is a very bold thing to do, and these thieves should be considered "election terrorists" and lose their voting rights. If they intimidate or "cancel" you because of your political affiliation, that should also be considered election terrorism.
    These are just a few suggestions that would level the voting playing field. By restoring our confidence in the voting process and eliminating the country's partisan political divide, we are free to practice and enjoy one of our most cherished American rights and freedoms.

  • 01 01 vet resource fair 3The Community Veterans Engagement Board, supported by other agencies and local businesses, are coming together to connect veterans with resources to address needs, some of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The “Drive Through Veterans & Transitioning Service Members Resource Fair” will be held Nov. 24 from 3 to 6 p.m. at Manna Church on Cliffdale Road in Fayetteville.

    “A lot of the people that we partner with … wanted to do something for the veterans to let them know that we care and we are still thinking about you,” said Susan Deckant, veteran outreach program specialist for the Fayetteville Vet Center. Decante hopes the drive-thru resource fair will raise the morale of local veterans while providing much-needed information.

    “We understand there may be some homeless veterans that may walk up and we’ll hand them things, we’ll make sure they have masks and if they don’t we’ll give them a mask, and we’ll have hand sanitizer on all the tables,” Deckant said. “If they need to talk to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program social worker and get into the program, they can.”

    There is a virtual resource guide but the CVEB members realized that not all veterans are able to go digital for various reasons including lack of internet access or inability to navigate digital resources, said CVEB Board Chair Paul Berry.

    The event will take place in the parking lot of Manna Church located at 5117 Cliffdale Road. The parking lot will have a Veteran Affairs RV with tables set up in the front and going around the building where veterans can drive through and be handed pre-packaged bags as they go, Deckant said. Bags will include the “2020 All North Carolina Veterans Resource Guide,” Zaxby’s gift cards, reference cards from helpful organizations such as the Veterans Administration, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and others.

    Reaching out to service members is not new to Manna Church. The church recently hosted a drive-thru lunch for single soldiers on Fort Bragg who are not be able to go home during the holidays. Deckant said the church’s reputation for being military-friendly was one reason they were asked to host the resource fair.

    “As a local church, we want to be here for the community and we have a building in the heart of the city and we want to make ourselves available and do various activities and serve,” said Tom Cartwright, Outreach Pastor for Manna Church.

    Deckant said there will be organizations at the event like the Veterans Benefits Administration to assist veterans in setting up an appointment or to file claims. Among others, American Legions and NC Legal Aid will also be giving out information to help veterans facing evictions during the pandemic, or to assist with discharge upgrades. There will be representatives from different organizations to help with financial counseling, gain employment, legal services and more.

    The Vet Center will be able to connect them with suicide prevention and caregiver support, as well as substance abuse treatment programs. The Center provides community based mental health counseling to combat veterans and active duty and provides therapy for PTSD, anger management, anxiety, depression, grief and loss counseling, marriage and family therapy and military sexual trauma. Their services are free to veterans and service members. Current service members can self-refer to the Vet Center without having to go through their chain of command or primary care provider, Decante said.

    The drive-thru fair will be handing out over 250 gift coupons for a free sandwich and drink from Zaxby’s and free turkeys will be passed out to the 1st, 25th, 50th, 60th and the 82nd drivers courtesy of the Bingham Drive Food Lion grocery store.

    “Many veterans, particularly with COVID, are more and more isolated,” Berry said. “Veterans by nature are wired to be connected, have a sense of team, no matter what service you’re in, you’re part of something bigger,” he said. “Due to COVID, they might be feeling very isolated, then you bring in financial, marital, domestic stressors — that whole dynamic is hard, so it’s important to get them these resources.”

    Berry emphasized that the community needs to do this to provide resources to the veterans and to also thank them for their service. The resource fair is an opportunity to put veterans in touch with organizations that have the specific resources to address their needs.

    Deckant said it is important to connect veterans to resources because a lot of them face uncertainty when they are transitioning out of service. Sometimes service members and their families are not aware of the services provided by different agencies.

    “Through COVID-19, it’s more needed to spread the word of these resources and it’s our job as a community to provide them,” Berry said. “We want to provide a holistic service, no matter what the veteran may have a question on, it’s there.”

    “It’s very scary to go from active duty to civilian life, you work so hard to get promoted all those years and you when you get out, it all drops drastically,” she said. “We can help navigate the process.”

    For more information to get connected with resources contact the Vet Center Call Center at 877-WAR-VETS (927-8387) or the Veterans Crisis line 1-800-273-8255, or visit https://www.va.gov.

    If veterans and service members are struggling, they can reach out to the local VA Vet Center located at 2301 Robeson Street, Suite 103. They can also call (910) 488-6252 to speak with a therapist for individual or group

    Veterans and family members of service members can also reach out to the Cohen Veterans Clinic located at 3505 Village Drive, (910) 615-3737 for community-based counseling


  • 06 nc flagOver the course of 34 years penning a column on North Carolina politics and public policy, I’ve seen it all. Or so I thought. Until 2020 came along.

    It’s not that I proffered a passel of bad predictions for which I must now do penance. After pegging many races wrong in 2016, I was more guarded in my prognostications this year. And the picks I offered — that Donald Trump would win North Carolina but not reelection, that U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis would secure a second term, and North Carolina Republicans would retain their General Assembly and Council of State majorities — proved to be pleasingly precise.

    Rather, I just think we have never before seen so many fascinating trends come together in such a compelling electoral performance.
    After pondering the election results a bit more, I have prepared a list of eight factors that helped shape the outcomes.

    Polarized. Like much of the country, North Carolina has a polarized electorate. Generations ago, somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of voters were willing to split their tickets between the two major parties. Today, that share is in the single digits.

    Parity. That doesn’t mean ticket-splitters are irrelevant. Polarization is present in places like California and Mississippi, too. But parity isn’t. The Democratic base is so large in the former, and the GOP base so large in the latter, that a few percentage points of swing voters can’t swing the result. In North Carolina, however, the two partisan coalitions are nearly even (by behavior, not registration). So when a few Tar Heel voters — disproportionately older voters in rural areas, according to my analysis of county returns and exit polls — decided to split their tickets, voting Trump and Tillis for federal office and Roy Cooper for governor, their choices were decisive.

    Process. Before the election, Democrats went to court to challenge election rules the General Assembly had previously enacted by bipartisan votes. Democratic plaintiffs won an extension of the absentee-ballot deadline but little else. If those late-arriving ballots flip any outcomes, you can expect the issue to be re-litigated.

    Pandemic. Not only was COVID-19 a big issue in federal and state races, but the pandemic also affected how campaigns were run. Crucially, Republican-leaning groups started canvassing for votes door-to-door during the summer, while Democratic-leaning groups shied away from this time-tested tactic until the final weeks. Given that canvassing is an outdoor, low-risk activity, the Democrats blew this call, as candid Dems now admit.

    Polling. Pollsters got it very wrong this year. Clearest example: while Cooper won reelection by 4.4 points, the polling average going into Election Day was +11 Cooper.

    Press. Much of the media abandoned all pretense of fairness and actively rooted — in news stories — for Republicans to lose. While Trump did indeed fall short, I think attempts to suppress anti-Biden stories or cheerlead for Democrats ended up harming the media’s already battered reputation.

    Platitudes. At least two bits of “conventional wisdom” ought to be retired after the 2020 elections. One is that politics is largely about money. Democrats vastly outspent Republicans in North Carolina this year but almost always fell short. Another familiar myth is that low-turnout elections favor Republicans and high-turnout elections favor Democrats. There was no such historical pattern in North Carolina elections going into 2020. And that’s not how it turned out this year, either.

    Public Safety. As I observed in a prior column, Republican candidates tilted some votes by speaking strongly against the looting and rioting that followed some Black Lives Matter protests this summer.

    And there you have it: my eight p-factors that mattered in 2020. Are you persuaded?

  • 07 rep dem“Why so glum?” I asked a sullen group of Democrats who were expressing despair as they reviewed the results of the November 3rd elections.

    They explained their gloominess. Democrats had lost seats in the state house and Senate, losing any chance to expand Medicaid or have a hand in the redistricting of seats in the state legislature and the state's congressional delegation.

    They continued. Republican candidates beat Democrats, appearing to win the chief justice’s seat and other positions on the state’s Supreme Court and all the open seats on the Council of State, including the lieutenant governor's race in which an unknown and far-out Republican candidate beat an attractive, well-liked, and experienced woman state legislator.

    What about Biden's victory over Donald Trump? Surely this should have made my Democratic friends happy. No, they responded. It was supposed to be “a blue wave.” But it was not a blowout, not even close, they said, noting that they did not even win control of the U.S. Senate and lost seats in the U.S. House.

    I confess that I lost my cool. I asked whether they would choose to be Republicans today rather than gloomy Democrats? Would you really like to go to bed tonight and wake up as a Republican? Maybe you could help bring that party back to its historic principles which its current leadership has abandoned. More likely you would have to carry the burdens of being a member of today’s Republican Party, tied as it is tightly to Donald Trump and his loyal backers, dependent on all those people’s support to win primaries and elections as a Republican. Like other present-day Republicans you would be so dependent that, you would have to subordinate your principles and good sense to a cult figure and his other followers, to their alarmist conspiracy stories, and the inaccurate “alternate facts” that they propound.

    If you woke up as a Republican, I said, you would be tied to a party of aging white people in a state and nation that are rapidly diversifying. You would be stuck with a vision of our country that rejects the multi-ethnic American traditions of equality and fairness for everyone, regardless of gender, racial and ethnic background, or sexual orientation. You would have to reject the American commitment of true religious liberty and respect for differing religious views. You would have to reject the true patriotism that includes respect for our history of painful battles to expand equality and opportunity without covering up our country’s imperfections. You would have to put aside any continuing commitment to expanding opportunities for every citizen.

    Our great country, I said, was not served up on a platter to or by our forebears. Every battle, including its war for independence, the end of slavery, the expansion of the right to vote, the opening of public schools to people of all races, the opening of public facilities to those of all different races and other battles for equality and fairness are battles that continue today.

    You can be happy now, I told the group, that you are free to work for a better country, supported by high ideals and carefully discovered scientific facts rather than being bound to the inconsistent and deadly poisons prescribed by a haughty autocrat and his inconsistent dogma.
    More than that, I said, you should be happy that your party’s candidates for president and vice president are on the verge of a momentous victory and North Carolina will soon, be joining its neighbors Virginia and Georgia in becoming a place where both Democrats and Republicans have a fair chance to win political contests.

    After my passionate ramblings, my friends nodded, smiled, and continued their gloomy conversations.

  • 07 PostponedThe Patriotic and Veterans Day Celebration that was scheduled for Nov. 14 at Bryan Honda in Fayetteville has been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event was organized by the All American Patriot Association to bring members of the community together in a celebration of our nation and our veterans.

    AAPA CEO and President Franco Webb said he and his team are working to reschedule the event for a later date, tentatively in December.

    “We are looking into two other possible venues,” Webb said. “We’re also looking into ways to scale it down, but still be able to take advantage of the entertainment, raffles and auction items that were donated.”

    Although disappointed that the event could not be held in conjunction with traditional Veterans Day celebrations, Webb emphasized that being American and paying tribute to our veterans is something that can be celebrated all year long.

    “We really appreciate all the support we received from sponsors, vendors and the public,” Webb said. “Stand strong – the event will go on.”

    On Nov. 10, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the state will remain in Phase 3 for another three weeks because coronavirus cases continue to rise.

    In Executive Order 176, Cooper reduced the number of people allowed to gather indoors from 25 to 10. The extension takes effect Nov. 13. This is the second time Cooper has extended Phase 3, which was set to expire Nov. 13.

    Phase 3 first began Oct. 2 and allowed bars, entertainment venues, movie theaters and large outdoor arenas to open with some restrictions. Still in effect is the limit of 50 people allowed at outdoor gatherings. The new order is scheduled to expire at 5 p.m. on Dec. 4.

    As of Nov. 11, more than 297,000 people in North Carolina have tested positive for COVID-19, and 4,660 have died, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The NCDHHS regularly updates the “Dashboard” on https://www.ncdhhs.gov/ with state and county case number information. It reports that in Cumberland County, there have been 7,953 cases and 108 deaths.

    The full text of Executive Order 176 can be read on the NCDHHS website https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO176-Phase-3-ext.pdf

  • 06 Cropped Jones photoThe wait for the announcement of the presidency had the world on edge. Now, the wait for the Inauguration has us waiting again. The world is already exhausted. 2020 has been a series of “for the first time ever” or “once in a lifetime” moments. When exhaustion sets in, the body needs rest. The world needs rest. America needs rest. The Black community needs rest.

    Losing Nipsey Hussle and then Kobe Bryant caused a shift for the better and the worst. As a Black man, I loved seeing the world celebrate “our” heroes. On the flipside, we lost someone we grew to know and love.
    Months later, a pandemic took hold of the world, forcing us in the house and under face masks. The death rate has risen around the world. A cough could mean a death sentence. Everyone learned a new word, ‘quarantine.’ For some, there was a gain. Life slowed down, allowing the allocation of time for the things that matter like family and rest. As time passed, the world was growing restless.

    While sitting in our homes waiting for some sort of good news to get “BACK TO NORMAL,” we were shown an 8 minute, 46 second clip of a cop in Minnesota kneeling on the neck of a man born in my hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina, named George Floyd. The streets erupted immediately. The last time there was this fast of a reaction was when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. But, there was still one difference between then and now. COVID-19, the sickness caused by the novel coronavirus, was holding the world hostage. Protests and civil unrest would break out everywhere including Fayetteville.

    Soon, the world would hear what we have been saying all along, BLACK LIVES MATTER. These three words have never meant so much. However, the commercialization of the phrase has led to a negative connotation among those who lack understanding of what it means to be Black in America. As chants, cheers and fires filled the streets of the world, many would watch distraught and in disbelief as the events unfolded. When the flames died and symbols (of heritage or oppression, depending upon your beliefs) came down, there was no unity in the community.

    Back in 2016, a New York businessman would assume the role of President of the United States of America, causing a shift in culture and the way American politics are viewed. While money filled our pocket, hate filled our hearts. We forgot the meaning of community. Neighbors have become enemies. Political ideologies weigh more than love for your fellow man. The community is always prefaced by words such as “Black,” “white” or “LGBTQ.” We have forgotten that the Constitution of America begins with three words, WE THE PEOPLE. As Americans, we all want equal opportunity to the rights guaranteed to us under these laws that govern the lands we all inhabit. America is attempting to heal itself through gaining knowledge and understanding of the “other side.” Discomfort coupled with perception leads to a closed mind. A closed mind can never obtain and process the knowledge that fuels progress. Progress is a process. America has just completed a part of the process by voting.

    As we wait on the result of the most pivotal election we have experienced since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, we must reflect and ask “What am I doing in my everyday life to better my community and myself?” “How do I add to the value of life of those I encounter?” and “Will this help me grow as a person?”

    No matter the results of this election, we must focus on building a better world for those who will inherit it from us. Voting was not the end of the process, but a part of the process. The next step is accountability. We, as a community, must come together and hold leaders and ourselves accountable.

    As a chosen leader in my community, especially the Black community, I understand that one must govern themselves accordingly because stepping out the house you become a representation of everyone that looks like you. However, working to change the narrative or personal elevation should not be met with labels of “sellout” or “coon” because we don’t understand. We should focus on the content of their character, as we should with every person we meet. That is what will bring the unity that we need to get the change so many world citizens took to the streets seeking.

    We all have to be the change that we want to see. Now is the time to rebuild and start with the strongest foundation of all, no matter who you are, and that foundation is LOVE.

    Peace, salute to every activist getting active.

    Pictured: Local activist Rakeem "Keem" Jones speaks to a crowd on the importance of social justice. (Photo by Jamela Carter)

  • 05 BallotBoxPartyIconsWhen I was growing up in eastern North Carolina, virtually all voting adults were Democrats, although our backdoor neighbors were Republicans. My family considered them akin to space aliens. Conversely, Republicans who populated the western part of our state, though in smaller numbers, felt the same about the handful of Democrats out there. It was even possible to check a single box on your ballot to vote a straight Democratic or straight Republican ticket, because both parties expected—and often got—total loyalty.

    In the decades since, North Carolina has become a competitive “purple” state, and this year, an actual battleground state, attracting hoards of media outlets and Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates themselves.

    Our U.S. Senate race was the most expensive in our nation’s history, topping $287M. President Trump became a regular visitor to Fayetteville Regional Airport for campaign rallies, ultimately carrying North Carolina and pulling down-ballot Republican candidates with him.

    So how did we get here from a state dominated by one political party for more than a century?
    We have grown significantly, and North Carolina is now the 9th largest state, with more than 10 million residents. My childhood was lived in a state of small towns scattered across a wide, narrow state. Today, we have major cities, the largest being Charlotte and Raleigh. Fayetteville is our 6th largest city with more than 200,000 residents, compared with not quite 21,000 in 1960.

    With North Carolina’s growth has come more diversity (Fayetteville has long been diverse because of a strong military presence) and a more highly educated population, clustering in metropolitan areas.

    That means the political clout of our cities threatens to outstrip the clout of rural areas, a reality driving the great urban-rural divide of wealth and education and its accompanying resentment.

    Think about this. For almost all of the 20th century, North Carolina was a reliable Democratic state. In 2020, as of this writing, we supported the Republican Presidential and Senatorial nominees, reelected a Democratic Governor, elected a Republican Lieutenant Governor who has never held public office, and affirmed Republican control of the General Assembly. These outcomes required considerable ticket-splitting, with individual voters checking both Democratic and Republican boxes for whatever reasons of their own. My parents would be stunned.

    Most North Carolinians would probably say that political competitiveness is a positive thing—that choice makes our government stronger and better. Whether that happens in actual practice is debatable, but it is clear that we are purple for the foreseeable future. That means that North Carolina, like other states and millions of individual Americans, must figure out how to go forward without the name-calling and partisan rancor that has afflicted and tortured us in recent years.

    Make no mistake. The United States is at a critical moment in our history. We are so divided, it is almost like we are speaking different languages. We listen and watch only our own truths, not those of “the other.” Debates are underway about a coming second civil war. The New York Times ran a long article in its Sunday magazine last weekend entitled “How Do You Know When Society is About to Fall Apart?” It quotes an academician in this field, Joseph Tainter, “Civilizations are fragile, impermanent things.”

    None of us can fix what is threatening our nation, but we can address it in our own lives. Our neighbors—Democrats or Republicans—are not our enemies. They are people with different opinions, not crazed “others.” If we ordinary Americans cannot bridge this divide in our own lives and ultimately as a nation, we may not collectively survive much beyond the tumultuous agony that was the 2020 general election.

  • 04 PoliticianSpeechWell, election day is over, and a hearty congratulations to all the winning candidates at all levels of government. Compared to other elections over the years, I guess you can say it's the best money can buy! Ridiculous amounts of money are poured into these elections, and make no mistake about it, it's to buy influence and power.

    So, with that said, regardless of your political affiliation or whether your candidate won or lost, it's time to move on and get America on the right track for the sake of our children, grandchildren and future generations.

    Unfortunately, America's political leadership at all levels is rendering us morally bankrupt. I appreciate all the comments and reactions I received from last week's editorial, "Have you no sense of decency?" It confirmed my pretense that as a nation, we are very aware that our overall morality has dipped substantially below what is deemed acceptable or civilized.

    Politicians today treat honesty, integrity, truthfulness as virtues that are only mere suggestions in the game of life. Depending on the situation, our children are taught to engage these virtues with healthy skepticism as convenience options only if it's advantageous for personal gain. In other words, it's acceptable to steal, lie, cheat and commit crimes if you can justify it internally or financially afford it. This "fake it until you make it" style of morality eventually fails with devastating consequences.

    In politics, the consequences of these character deficiencies are embarrassing for the candidate and devastating to the party. They also represent an insult to the American people at all levels of government. Again, this is an indictment of all political parties. This conspicuous and obnoxious behavior is motivated and initiated by excessive greed, money and power. And, in many cases, all three. It wouldn't surprise me if Wikipedia listed the definition of politician as “A person who displays conspicuous and obnoxious behavior usually motivated by excessive greed, money and power, or all three." It's a sad reality.

    Now the election is over. Hopefully, we will be able to get our state and country on the right track. One thing is for sure; we will be able to recognize who will stand up for the American people and make them the highest priority. Sadly, we have just gone through nearly four years of embarrassing, disrespectful and severe disruption of the presidency and Americans have concerns and questions that need to be answered:

    Will this kind of deploring behavior continue? Will America be safe from criminals? Will law and order be abandoned? Will the confidence of the FBI, CIA and NSA be restored? Will our government secure our borders? Will the new administration start looking out for all the American people's health and welfare? Let's hope so. The survival of our country as we know it will depend on it.

    Right now, America is a country divided. I'm not referring to red states and blue states. I'm talking about patriotic Americans who fear our government is selling out our heritage and our nation for their personal gain. If this is not the case, then the new reigning administration should waste no time in assuring us of that. This would be the first step in healing and bringing this country back together. After four years of continual discourse and attacks on the president, the new administration has a beautiful opportunity to take specific and immediate action to do whatever needs to be done to make every American feel this is their country.

    Again, congratulations to all the newly elected officials. Our weekly newspaper will continue to focus on and serve the Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County community with integrity, honesty and truthfulness. Let's encourage our leadership to do the same.

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • With Fort Bragg as a neighbor, it is common to see Army soldiers and sometimes Air Force airmen, many living right next door. Our community has a patriotic core with many of our young men and women enlisting to serve our nation in other military services. To recognize them, we proudly shine a spotlight on some of our hometown heroes currently serving abroad.

    Information System Technician 2nd Class Jose Rivera-Scott, a sailor from Hope Mills, is a network operations technician assigned to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Located in an austere environment, Camp Lemonnier is a U.S. Navy base located in the Horn of Africa and is the only enduring U.S. military base on the continent of Africa. CLDJ is an operational installation that enables U.S., allied and partner nation forces to be where and when they are needed to ensure security in Europe, Southwest Asia and Africa.

    Rivera-Scott is a 2013 graduate from Gray’s Creek High School. “Many family members have served before me in the Air Force and Army including my grandfathers and my mother,” said Rivera-Scott. “My grandfathers were pilots, so that is what I originally wanted to be; however, I chose a different path, and I’m proud of being the first Navy sailor in my family.”

    Halfway around the globe, two Fayetteville natives are assigned aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67).

    Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Darrius Hames and Operations Specialist Seaman Julia Champagne are in the Philippine Sea participating in exercise Keen Sword 21.

    Keen Sword is an example of the strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, the foundation of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 60 years. The relationships built and maintained during these events are critical to our shared capability to respond to contingencies at a moment’s notice.

    03 01 Sailor Rivera Scott

    03 02 sailor spotlight









     03 03 Seaman Champagne







    Pictured: (top left) Information System Technician 2nd Class Jose Rivera-Scott, from Hope Mills, is serving in Djibouti. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Colin Sens)

    (top right) Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Darrius Hames, from Fayetteville, is serving aboard the USS Shiloh in the Philippine Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Santiago Navarro)

    (bottom) Operations Specialist Seaman Julia Champagne from Fayetteville, left, and Operations Specialist 2nd Class Edith Dantes from Sioux City, Iowa, measure the bearing and range of surface and subsurface contacts in the combat information center of the USS Shiloh in the Philippine Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryre Arciaga)

  • 02 thank you letters on flagThe All American Patriot Association will host its first Patriotic and Veterans Day Celebration on Nov. 14 from noon until 11 p.m. at Bryan Honda on Raeford Road in Fayetteville

    “We will open with a flag raising ceremony, pledge of allegiance, national anthem, jumpers jumping in,” said Franco Webb, CEO and president of AAPA. The event is all about fun for veterans, their families and the community.

    “The main purpose of the event is to bring everybody together, to have a good time, it’s about being Americans, about being patriotic, and celebrating our veterans,” Webb said.

    The celebration will feature different speakers discussing patriotic themes, a class teaching children and adults how to raise and lower a flag, and properly fold the flag. Members of local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts will be teaching the proper disposal of a flag.

    The family friendly event will have children's activities, a bounce house and food trucks on site. There will be live performances by bands such as Harley & Big Country, 80's Unleashed, Sabor A Rumba, Ronnie Hymes. The headliner will be RIVERMIST.

    “It's going to be an awesome night to come out, dance and have a good time,” Webb said.

    Attendees will have the opportunity to win prizes throughout the day. Speakers will be randomly selecting people and asking them patriotic questions, and the winners will win a prize, he said.

    Raffle tickets will be available for purchase, and there will be gift baskets set up on tables. Some of the things being raffled include gift cards from Best Buy and a custom ‘Big Dog’ motorcycle.

    “Items that will be up for a silent auction will include an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol with a certificate of authenticity, scholarships for kids to attend a summer horse camp in Texas, and a metal fireplace,” Webb said.

    We have had a lot of positive responses, with people and sponsors, Webb said. Some sponsors of the event include Bryan Honda, Piedmont Natural Gas, Kraken Skulls, Phoenix Global Support, Webb Security and more.

    Webb said that he began organizing the event as a way to celebrate patriotism in the community. “It’s an event that is needed and it comes at a time when everyone’s been holed up and it’s a good reason to get everyone together,” Webb said.

    For more details about the Patriots Day and Veterans Day Celebration, visit https://fb.me/e/gWJHnb3yD

  • Members of local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts work to help veterans and the local community members alike.

    “We do things to help out our local veterans, point them in the right direction, if they need to understand their medical benefits or their disability, we have a lobbyist group in D.C. for them,” said Jim Blevins, commander of VFW Post 10630 in
    Hope Mills.

    The VFW acts as a middleman to educate veterans on their benefits, rights and connect them to the proper resources. VFW posts have a service officer that helps with claims, answers questions, helps complete paperwork. The service officer is available to help if veterans need it said Mike Baker, commander of VFW Post 670 in Fayetteville.

    “We have the need fund to pay bills in case of emergencies, cars broke down, you need gas, etc., they can call the local VFW’s, submit a form and we are able to assist them with small cash payments,” Baker said.

    Post 670 raises money through golf tournaments and other events throughout the year and donates some of it to homeless veterans to meet their food and clothing needs, and connect them with other resources.

    Blevins said the group tries to protect veterans’ rights as well as help them in times of need. He said the post received brand new electric wheelchairs, which cost about $6,000, which will be donated to a veteran in need, who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

    “In conjunction with the Veterans Affairs committee in Hope Mills, we do outreach programs, we invite the VA, Red Cross, Disabled Veterans Administration, Tricare and set up a table for veterans who aren’t sure what they’re benefits are, just to get information,” Blevins said. “It gives them an opportunity to come in and learn more about their benefits and help point them in the right direction.”

    VFW also gives back to the community by offering scholarships to students locally. The Voices of Democracy and Patriot's Pen programs allow students to write essays and win scholarships towards the school of their choice.

    “The Voice of Democracy is a $30,000 scholarship, Patriots Pen is a $5,000 scholarship to the school of your choice,” Baker said. “So that’s a way for us to give back to the community, the post gives some, the district gives some, then national gives some.”

    Another thing that we do is partner with Student Veterans of America to help them get the supplies they need for college, he added.

    “What is special to me is being able to help other veterans, but not just veterans we also help out the community,” Blevins said. “Last year, Hope Mills had about 4 baseball teams here that made it into the world series, and VFW donated money to each team to help them travel and cover expenses.”

    He said the organizations have had to slow down their fundraising and outreach efforts due to  COVID-19.

    “We are getting everything back in the groove again, raising money so we can run the facility as well as donate money to the community,” Baker said.

    Blevins said they are starting to lean more towards social events to bring people in and have a really nice facility and lots of things that they would like to do but COVID-19 has put a damper on things.

    “A lot of the VFW’s are now in survival mode to get through it, it’s a difficult time for us,” he said, adding that it makes it even more difficult to attract new members right now.

    The Hope Mills Post 10630 hosts monthly dinners for members and the community at $12 a plate, as an effort to recruit new members.

    VFW Post 630 in Fayetteville offers different social events like poker night, steak night, line dancing and karaoke for current, new members and the community. On Tuesdays, they offer poker nights, on Fridays it is karaoke from 5-10 p.m., Baker said.

    “We are on the 28th year of our Friday night Steak Nights... it's a way for us to raise money, a lot of members come out on Friday night to line dance, and do karaoke and enjoy comradeship,” he said. “And we are also open to the public so it's a way for them to meet members and to have a good time.” The $12 meal includes ribeye, potatoes and salad.

    VFW Post 670 meets monthly every second Thursday at 7 p.m. at 3928 Doc Bennett Road in Fayetteville. VFW post 10630 located at 3226 Davis Street in Hope Mills, meets the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.

    “I have made good friends here at the post, they're a bunch of characters for sure,” Blevins said. “It’s a good place to meet when you miss the military, and you get to talk and exchange stories.”

    Baker said the post is a good way to mingle with different war vets, exchange stories and hear interesting things.

    We are pretty far out which doesn’t help but folks can look us up on Facebook at VFW Post 670, or visit https://vfw670.org/di/vfw/v2/default.asp or come down on Friday nights, he said.

    We are including using technology and social media to reach new people, Blevins said.

    “You know the Vietnam vets took care of the Korean War and the WWII people and now it’s kind of like the Desert Storm and younger people take care of them,” he said.

    Post 10630 will be live streaming the Veterans Day event on Facebook due to COVID-19.

    Post 670 will be hosting Veterans for America Day on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. with live bands and vendors at the post, open to veterans and the public, Baker said.

    “The organization is open to both men and women, we do have mostly men but as long as you are a veteran of foreign wars, it does not matter,”  Blevins said.

    For more information on joining a local VFW post, seek assistance or meet veterans, contact Post 10630 at 910-476-3719, ocdrpost10630@vfwnc.com or Post 670 at 910-424-8675.

    There are more than 1.6 million VFW and Auxiliary members in over 6,000 Posts around the world. The VFW provides vital assistance and support for America’s service members, veterans and their families.

    There are three qualifiers for membership in the VFW, as set out in the By-Laws. An individual must meet all three in order to become a member.
    1. Must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. National.
    2. Must have served in the Armed Forces of the U.S. and either received a discharge of Honorable or General (Under Honorable Conditions) or be currently serving.
    3. Service in a war, campaign or expedition on foreign soil or in hostile waters.

    For more information on becoming a member of the VFW or learning about the services the VFW provides, visit www.vfw.org/

    01 01 bldg post 670

    01 02 DH 10630








    01 03 VFW veterans

    Pictured: (top left) VFW Post 670 meets the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at 3928 Doc Bennett Road in FaVFW Post 670 meets the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at 3928 Doc Bennett Road in Fayetteville.yetteville.

    (top right) VFW post 10630 located at 3226 Davis Street in Hope Mills, meets the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.

    (bottom) Veterans gather at VFW events to share military experiences, provide assistance to others in need, and promote awareness of veterans issues.






  • 13 01 big image chess makingThe Fayetteville Technical Community College Foundation presents their Foundation Weekend events Nov. 4-8.

    “The purpose of the event is to raise money for student scholarships and aid, programs and services at Fayetteville Technical Community College,” said Sandy Ammons, executive director of FTCC Foundation. “The foundation is the fundraising arm of the college and in the past we have raised over $50,000 so we are hoping this year despite the circumstances to sur
    pass that.”

    The Foundation Weekend consists of one event with three different parts: the FTCC Foundation Golf Tournament, the Bluegrass & BBQ at Home dinner and the Online Silent Auction.

    The Golf Tournament will be held at Gates Four Golf and Country Club Nov. 6.

    “The golf tournament goes back at least 20 years and has evolved throughout the years,” said Ammons. “It was scheduled for April and May of this year and because of COVID-19 we had to postpone it.”
    Ammons added that they had to look at it with a different spin on how they could continue with the golf tournament under the new circumstances. The Golf Tournament is currently full and sold out.

    The Online Silent Auction will take place Nov. 4- 8.

    “In the past the silent auction was part of the dinner and you would come to the dinner and there would be an auction in the same room,” said Ammons. “We’ve had the Bluegrass theme for several years which is fun and we had live entertainment, a Western theme and people would come dressed in Western attire and it was an in-person event.”

    Ammons added that this year the silent auction is online and it is open to everyone to bid on the auction items. There is no fee or ticket to purchase.

    “We have really tried to tap into wonderful local businesses and artists who give back to the community who are helping us pull off this event with a new twist,” she said.

    The public can view items up for auction by visiting the Online Silent Auction site at https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/ftccfoundation-15436.

    “We have got some wonderful auction items that are made by FTCC faculty such as cakes from our Culinary Department, a beautiful hand-milled chess set, exotic plants, tons of gift certificates to local businesses, artwork, original paintings, photography prints, fine jewelry from Hinkamp Jewelers, a BBQ package, a pet package, a garden package and much more,” said Ammons.

    “You can do your Christmas shopping through our auction because we have something for everybody and we add packages daily as we receive them.”

    The Bluegrass & BBQ at Home dinner will take place on Nov. 7.

    “We are going to have a fantastic dinner catered by Southern Coals and it will be chicken, BBQ, macaroni and cheese, broccoli salad and banana pudding,” said Ammons.

    “It will be complete with flowers from the Downtown Market, wine glasses from FTCC, and the meal will be delivered to your home hot and ready to serve or you can pick it up at Southern Coals.”

    Ammons added it will come with beverages from Bright Light Brewing Company or red wine from Healy Wholesale.

    “This event would normally have live entertainment so we are going to have a private live concert at 7 p.m. by the Guy Unger Band streamed to the homes of the guests who buy tickets,” said Ammons. “They will get the link to view the live concert during the dinner.”

    The Fayetteville Technical Community College Foundation has been in existence since 1985 and it is the foundation arm of the college.

    “A big part of what we do is scholarships so we work with donors to bring in money for scholarships for students as well as work to match the students to the right scholarship,” said Ammons.

    “We really try to do everything we can to keep our students on track and in school to graduate and to start their careers.”

    The foundation also manages the Alumni Network. “We work with our students as they are getting ready to graduate and we make sure they stay connected to the college, help with networking and work with them so they can stay with their program after they leave college,” said Ammons. “We work with alumni, retired faculty and staff and current faculty and staff so we are kind of the link between the community and the college.”

    For more information or to purchase tickets visit https://www.faytechcc.edu/foundation-events/ or call 910-678-8441.

    Pictured: (Above) A hand-milled chess set made by FTCC faculty Kevin Henry and students will be available during the Foundation Online Silent Auction event. (Below) The pieces are made from brass and aluminum.

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  • 12 02 DSC 0958The Airborne & Special Operations Museum is again open to the public and offers two exhibits. The 13th Annual Field of Honor exhibit went up Oct. 3 and will be up for display until Nov 30., and the GWOT Memorial Flag exhibit opened Oct 13., and will run until Dec. 6.

    The Field of Honor exhibit, in partnership with Cool Springs Downtown District, showcases 500 flags on display at the ASOM field, said Abbie Cashel, donor relations and event coordinator for ASOM Foundation.

    “Each flag comes with a story, each dedicated to someone whether it be a service member, a veteran and this year we actually opened it up to personal heroes, people that made a positive experience during COVID-19 or just in general,” she said. The tag on each flag identifies who the flag represents and honoree  information.

    “We are really excited that we sold out this year, all 500 flags, that was incredible, all the great community support,” Cashel said.

    The flags sold out for $35 each which will may motivate the museum to have more slots available next year.

    “A lot of people come from all over to view their loved ones’ flags, it acts as a memorial for people and they also use it to honor their loved ones and their service and that's what makes it really special in the community,” she said. “It’s just a really peaceful, respectful place to view a hero.”

    The Global War on Terror Memorial Flag is 28 feet wide and 6 feet tall and designed by Veterans Athletes United. The design symbolizes the shape of a flag when draped on a fallen service member’s casket.
    About 7,000 dog tags form the flag, belonging to those killed in the War on Terror. The 50 gold stars on the flag represent all Gold Star families across the nation. Displayed in front of the flag is a battlefield cross sculpted from mahogany wood by female veteran artist Alicia Dietz.

    The tags are in alphabetical order ranging from Sept. 11, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2019, the tags are in chronological order of the date the service member was killed in action.

    “It’s a really cool piece that we have had up before and a lot of people came, it’s just another exhibit that allows people to honor and remember their loved ones,” Cashel said.

    The GWOT exhibit is free to the public but the museum welcomes a $5 donation.

    The museum is preparing for its next feature, the Ghost Army Exhibit :The Combat Con Artists of World War II , which will open to the public Dec. 15 and be on display until April 25, 2021.

    The exhibit will highlight the story of the 23rd Headquarters Special Group, the first mobile, multimedia, tactical deception unit in U.S. Army history.

    The top secret, unique “Ghost Army” was composed of 82 officers and 1,023 men and was activated Jan. 20, 1944, under the command of Colonel Harry L. Reeder.

    The group was successfully capable of simulating two whole divisions, approximately 30,000 men by using visual, sonic and radio deception to fool German forces during the final year of World War II.

    For more information on the exhibit visit https://www.asomf.org/event/ghost-army-the-combat-con-artists-of-world-war-ii/

    The museum is open Tuesday to Friday, from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The ASOM is using a reservation system that helps keep capacity level in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, but people can walk in and sign in at the front desk,
    Cashel said.

    ASOM first opened its doors in 2000, and celebrates its 20th year anniversary this year, although many of the planned events were postponed due to COVID-19 and will hopefully be rescheduled for next year, she said.

    “It's really a place for people to come and learn about Airborne and Special Operations and their history,” Cashel said. “Entry is free, so pretty much everyone in the community does have a chance to come and look and learn and engage with the history of past soldiers that paved the way for modern day soldiers.”

    Visit https://www.asomf.org for more information about the museum.

    Pictured: (Above) The 13th Annual Field of Honor will be on display until Nov. 30. (Below) The GWOT Memorial Flag is made of about 7,000 dog tags identifying those killed in service  (Photos by Dylan Hooker)

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  • 17 01 garden boxThe Master Gardeners Virtual Gardening Symposium promises fresh ideas from gardening experts, a bounty of information and some fun for viewers. The event is packed with presentations, raffles and friendly faces.

    The Nov. 7 event, scheduled 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., is sponsored by the Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer Association.

    The event features guest speakers Joe Lamp’l, creator, executive producer and host of the Emmy-award-winning national PBS series “Growing a Greener World;” Kerry Ann Mendez, an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant whose international gardening webinars are enjoyed by thousands; and Jason Weathington, NC State/Cumberland County Extension urban horticulture agent and landscape architect.

    Lamp'l will share behind-the-scenes tips from 9 seasons of his show. Mendez will present "The Right Size Flower Garden." Weathington will present “The Outdoor Room.”

    “The focus of my talk will give people the confidence to go out and create an amazing space, which I think everyone desires to have but very few know how to create,” said Weathington. “It’s important to go back to basic landscape elements and how you can use them to our advantage. Most of us need to learn some of the basics.

    The event is a fundraiser to support local horticulture efforts and scholarships for Fayetteville Technical Community College horticulture students.

    “We give two scholarships at $1,500,” said Cumberland County Master Gardener Symposium Chairperson Judy Dewar.

    “We also offer grants to teachers who offer horticulture classes. And we strive to find ways to educate our county residents.”

    Dewar added that this event is for every level of gardener.

    “There is something from the most adept gardener to the one who has never planted a seed.”

    To register, visit www.eventbrite.com/ and search “Cumberland County” and select the event.

    Participants can also click the link https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cumberland-county-master-gardener-rescheduled-gardening-symposium-2020-tickets-120442509789?aff=ebdssbeac&fbclid=IwAR2DyFB-H_1yshgyTpP7WL22TdzJd63dJaOpA2HTMmBSyD0S1pLiqOCpjiU

    17 02 hydrangeas