• Paratroopers Arrive in Poland The secretary of defense has ordered an additional 3,000 soldiers from Fort Bragg to deploy to Poland, according to a senior defense official.

    President Joe Biden directed to send the remaining 3,000 soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Fort Bragg to Poland.

    The senior defense official said the soldiers will join the 1,700 troops already set for Poland to assist NATO allies.

    "All told, these 5,000 additional personnel comprise a highly mobile and flexible force, capable of multiple missions," the official said to major news outlets. "They are being deployed to reassure our NATO allies, deter any potential aggression against NATO’s eastern flank, train with host-nation forces, and contribute to a wide range of contingencies. They will report to Gen. Tod Wolters, Commander, U.S. European Command."

    National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced on Friday that the rise of a Russia invasion of Ukraine has risen. He said that they believe Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an invasion of Ukraine at any time, even before the end of the Beijing Olympics.

    Fort Bragg troops started to deploy to Europe on Feb. 3. According to U.S. officials, these are not permanent moves for the troops.


    PHOTO CREDIT: More paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division make their way to the terminal after arriving on a C-17 Globemaster aircraft at Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport, Poland Feb. 8. In coordination with the Polish Ministry of Defense and Polish government the nearly 2,000 Soldiers are deploying to support the United States’ decision to increase its presence and activities in the Eastern Flank as part of strong and unremitting commitment to our NATO Allies and partners. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Angel D. Martinez-Navedo)

  • Valentines Day Valentine's Day is upon us and Fayetteville and Fort Bragg have some unique and fun options for everyone. Looking for a "Gal"entine's event drop in at the Fayetteville Pie Company for some music bingo. Out of love with love? Head to Bright Light Brewing Company to Axe your Ex. Want to celebrate with the whole family? Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom has you covered. Looking for romance, head over to Fort Bragg's Iron Mike Conference Center for a romantic meal and music. Read on for all the fun and all of the details.

    Events in and around Fayetteville for Valentine’s Day

    Valentine’s Music Bingo
    Fayetteville Pie company is hosting a Valentine’s Day-themed music bingo on Feb. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will be held at 253 Westwood Shopping Center. Perfect for gal pals and friends or date night attendees who can expect duets, sexy hits and love ballads. Call 910-483-4097 for additional information.

    Hearts and Hops: A Family Valentine’s Celebration
    Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom is hosting a family-friendly Heart Day celebration. Attendees can purchase crafts and baked goods from the Bird’s Nest Montessori School, create crafts with KidsPeace, have faces painted by Artistic Brush Face Painting and take photos in a photo booth by Raul Ruberia Photos. There will be live music. Dirtbag Ales is located at 5435 Corporation Drive. For additional information call 910-426-2537.

    Axe Your Ex
    Axes & Exes will be at Bright Light Brewing Company on Feb. 13 for the ultimate anti-Valentine’s Day event. Just bring a picture of your ex and $10 and you can throw an axe at the picture. Bring an extra $5 if you need BLBC to print your picture out for you. Baja Dogs will be serving food from 5 to 8 p.m. with a special heartbreak meal. This event begins at 3 p.m. at 444 West Russell St. Suite 102. For additional information call 910-339-0464.

    Fort Bragg Valentine’s Day Events

    Valentine's Day Dueling Pianos
    Celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early at the Iron Mike Conference Center. Cost is $80 per couple and the event promises an evening of fun, laughter, music and great food. Tickets include the show, dinner for two with a glass of champagne for each person. This event is open to the public and sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation. For information or to book by Feb. 9 call 910-907-2582

    Guns and Roses
    The Rod and Gun Club on Fort Bragg is hosting a Valentine’s Range Day. The cost is $40 per couple. Couples must provide own guns, ammunition, ear pieces and eye protection. Ear pieces, eye protection and additional targets are available for purchase at the range. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb 11-13. The Cost includes range time, a free shooting target, a Valentine’s Day gift box and a chance to win a one year membership at the range. This event is open to the public and organizers ask that interested parties register at McKeller’s Lodge by 1 p.m. on Feb. 10. For additional information call 910-907-5253

  • wiz The renovations at Cape Fear Regional Theatre came just in time — just in time for the girl from Kansas in sparkling red heels. The theater's production of "The Wizard of Oz" does justice to the classic tale of Dorothy Gale and her three unlikely road companions. A new sound system, lighting and pyrotechnics bring an added measure of engagement and thrill to the audience.

    Beyond the technical aspects of the show, the quality of acting really brought the musical together. Fayetteville native Kiara Hines took the stage as that eternal optimist, the most loyal of friends, Dorothy Gale. Hines was charismatic and a great embodiment of Dorothy. She floated around the stage just like a sunny teenager who cannot be dismayed even with plenty of reason for concern presents itself. Hines nailed Dorothy's innocence and juvenile behaviors. Her mannerism and voice perfectly balanced with the three co-stars that often shared the stage.

    The first of those co-stars, Lee Jean Jr., played the sometimes timid, brain-searching scarecrow. He was a mighty force next to Harris. Lee's own ability to carry his character's happy-go-lucky, doubtless behaviors into dance-like movement on the stage was perfect for this straw-filled friend. He was what seemed like the closest of Dorothy's friends, bringing truth to one of Dorothy's last lines, "I think I'll miss you most of all." During this show, the scarecrow did feel like one of the most comforting of friends.

    Tinman, played by Michael LoBalsamo, was the next to enter the stage beside the duo. LoBalsamo and Jean's witty banter played wonderfully against

    Dorothy's child-like questions and demeanor. LoBalsamo's movements were fluid or perhaps not so fluid, as called for by his rust-challenged character. He frequently left the audience hoping for more of his lines, as he was full of heart.

    And lastly, but by far not the least, was Nicholas Pearson as the cowardly lion. Pearson's version of this character was perfectly played with terrific voice acting and very well-timed comedic lines. He often left the audience laughing at his additions to each conversation. Children in the audience seemed to take to the lovability of his character. They appeared to look forward to each swing of his tail, a sudden exhibit of cowardice or fainting.

    The four friends were well-suited to come up against both the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Becca Vourvoulas and Glenda, the Good Witch, played by Nicki Hart. The actors succeeded in bringing their characters to life on stage. Vourvoulas nailed the voice and shrill laughter of Dorothy's green-faced foe.

    While the music in this musical was not bad, Harris herself belting out a beautiful version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," the lines and interactions between the characters were by far the most captivating portion of the show and an excellent reason to purchase a ticket. The four main characters stole the show more often than their counterparts. If the show had more conversations between them, the audience would not be found wanting.

    The only distraction from Oz was the use of the face shields for the actors on stage. They sometimes caught the shine of stage lights. While this addition might be the best solution in the covid-era of on-stage productions for safety, it would have been nice to watch the talent of the actors without this occasional pull back to reality. For how well-performed this production was, the audience wanted to stay in Oz, even if only for just a little while.

  • Fay Bakery In mid-April of 2021, Fayetteville Bakery and Café opened. Owners Franco Webb and Tiffany Ketchum, his fiancé, saw a need in the community. Ketchum, a Pilates instructor who has severe dairy allergies, saw a need for a place to go for a baked treat to go with her coffee. Fayetteville Bakery and Café offers an abundance of bakery items that are dairy-free and gluten-free. Ketchum bakes these treats from scratch.

    The most in-demand treat at Fayetteville Bakery and Café is their cheesecakes. Ketchum crafts New York-style cheesecakes. Favorite flavors include turtle -- a cheesecake topped with chocolate caramel and nuts, and praline -- a butter pecan flavor. Her biscotti and chocolate chip, peanut butter and espresso chocolate cookies are also big sellers. But a true favorite for bakery visitors is Hummingbird cake; it is one of the most popular bakery items.

    The crafted beverage menus are also comprehensive. Fayetteville Bakery and Café serves an abundance of teas and frappes. These drinks are flavorful, and the ingredients are organic. The syrup they use to flavor drinks is organic. There is no artificial flavoring. The coffee beans are organic.
    The café also offers Puerto Rican fresh bread called Pan de Mallorca, a sweet bread and Danishes made with guava fruit. They out-source these items from a local Puerto Rican bakery.

    Webb has worked in many different job roles before opening the coffee shop. He is an Army veteran and spent 33 years as a firefighter. In addition to running the bakery, Webb is currently a commissioner for Fayetteville Cumberland Human Relations and previously served as chairman of the Military Affairs Council. He also broadcasts sports in Fayetteville. Currently, it is soccer; next will be arena football.

    “I chose the location on Boone Trail because it had already been an existing coffee shop bakery,” Webb said, “The equipment stayed with the place, which was great.”

    The coffee shop is large and has meeting space and cozy spots to enjoy your coffee. Antique couches and a fireplace lend themselves to the relaxed vibe. When the weather is nice, patrons can sit outside at one of the tables.

    The décor at the Fayetteville Bakery and Café is patriotic. Some regulars come and sit for hours; others stop in to get coffee while they study. First responders enjoy half off of their coffee, including specialty drinks.

    Every Tuesday night, the bakery hosts an open mic night. The open mic night runs from 6:30 to approximately 9 p.m. Performances include musical songs, poetry, spoken word and comedy. It is a clean, family-friendly event.

    “Every third Friday, we host ‘Songwriters in the Round,’” said Webb. “Three local songwriters are on stage together, and they go in a circle singing original songs, no covers. They play for five or six rounds.”

    These events also run from 7 to 9 p.m. If you are interested in performing at Fayetteville Bakery and Café, contact the café at (910) 568-5312. Songwriters are booked a couple of months in advance.

    “Coming soon are jazz nights. We will be introducing wine and beer, ” Webb said.

    The Fayetteville Bakery and Café is located at 3037a Boone Trail. The hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The café is closed on Sunday for baking.

  • Art Embodies History Damien Mathis has a nervous energy, either from years spent as an infantryman in the Marines or from all the ideas for artwork floating around his head. He would call it an overactive imagination. Whatever it is, he talks quickly and paces back and forth in his garage. There is excitement there. He becomes impassioned when he speaks about his artwork and the dramatic influence of other Black artists on history. This space has become one of his studio areas, a setting to hone his in on purpose.

    "I have enough space in here to work, so I figured I would save money and just focus on my craft," he says as he continues down one side of his garage slash studio. "Some paintings take months; some take years."

    Mathis says art is an idea, and an idea cannot be contained. For a lot of his works, the frame itself is incomplete. As he walks around, he stops at a piece of artwork, the subject popping through the portion of the frame.

    "An idea is bigger than what you know of it," he said. "When you come into something that inspires you, that's the tip of the iceberg. That's how I think about it."

    He picks up a nine-foot piece of artwork and glances it over. He begins to talk about the importance of color and how everything real is made "piece by piece." Colors are layers. Everything has layers and dimensions, even when capturing human pigments. When he speaks about it, it's as if he's traveling down his own colorful, art-filled rabbit hole that leads to a land where knowledge transfers through art.

    "You can use color to change the perspective of the room or environment. I want to show something visually and put it together."

    He then returns to pacing and continues to talk.

    For Mathis, art is a true testament to his will and patience when researching the history of the Black artists he is embodying. He has been doing a series of paintings that capture Black artists and the importance of their work. He says this is important work, but it is hard to capture history in a visually correct way. Once he does his research, he puts the pieces together with as much thought and detail as he says the history deserves.

    "I have to work backwards. I have to look into peoples' families' lives. Most of their pictures are black and white pictures," he said. "I have to do a lot of research on my end to make sure I'm visually correct."

    Mathis set out to build a career in the military with the Marines. He was an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner in the infantry and served during three deployments, two of which were combat-related. On his second deployment, Mathis saw a lot of close calls and felt sure on the third deployment, he "wasn't going to be so lucky." Fortunately for Mathis, he returned home, and he did so with a perspective that saw him approaching his life differently than he had before.

    "At a young age, I was kind of thrown to the wolves … and from that point on, I could never not take things serious because I could see how serious life could be," he said.

    When Mathis returned, he felt he was still making adjustments for the years he spent in the military. His family took notice and stepped in. For Mathis, it was a battle he didn't know he "was going through at the time."

    "I went through day terrors. The whole nine yards," he said. "All of us try to play the strong role when you don't need to be that way. And that's why I took painting seriously."

    He continues to pace and explains the pacing is a by-product of years of carrying ammunition. His back pain is a physical reminder of his former life and a reminder to give art everything he can.

    Mathis first attended undergraduate school in Pennsylvania for art. The program was not right for him. He was "taught in a way you could see it coming." He wanted to feel challenged. He was searching for a teaching method he hadn't entirely found. He decided to transfer to Fayetteville State University, majoring in Studio Art. FSU is where he would eventually meet Soni Martin, Shane Booth and Dwight Smith — three professors he credits as impacting his view of the world and art. They let him be rebellious, he says, in his way.

    "Most school settings, you can be put into a box and never know," he said. "It was a different experience. They let you find yourself. Then they taught you how to control yourself."

    Mathis started with a love of drawing, but Smith convinced him to explore painting and taught him how to paint. Booth taught him perspective, and Martin taught him the intellectual side of art. He said she knew it so well; it felt like it was a part of her. He says that each of them brought him to a better understanding of himself and art.

    He has now been painting for seven years, showing his work in different states, including South Carolina, Florida and Kansas. No matter where it is, though, it has all become about one thing for him — visually showing that art can be knowledge. It can embody history.

    "Art has recorded our history in a way that stuck the emotion of it in there. It's visual glory. I didn't want to miss that within my work. I didn't want to miss the opportunity to teach someone while they are visually engaging in my work."

    And above all else, he asks himself, "what can I do in my lifetime that will stand the test of time?" Mathis admits it's a lot to place upon himself, but his experiences to this point have taught him it's a crucial question.

    It's a question he's obligated to ask for himself and those black artists that came before him.

    When he thinks of his future projects or where he wants to take his art, he does so in terms of four to six months from now, even longer sometimes. He is focusing on featuring artists like Jacob Lawrence and displaying the importance of their work. Lawrence's paintings focused on The Great Migration — the time between 1916 and 1970 when African Americans moved to the Northeast searching for better jobs.

    "I came across an artist that studied that time period. It showed me I should be doing for my generation what others have down for their generations," Mathis said, nodding his head. "There's a lot of things I feel that Black people didn't get to learn in the last 40 to 50 years. The lack of knowledge, discrimination … the whole nine. We all know."

    For him, this project now is a way to honor people from periods where they may not have had the resources to record their pieces of history. Mathis would like to help carry that history into the future. He wants to continue the passing down of knowledge visually. Mathis has a piece at the upcoming show at Gallery 208 at 208 Rowan Street.

    As for his future and where he plans to be, Mathis only has one answer — art.

    "It's just a part of you. You don't think it's a job. You think this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Life can be just a canvas to you."

  • Market House The Department of Justice has held two meetings with the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission over the future of the Market House. These private meetings are part of the Justice Department’s City-SPRIT program, bringing together diverse community stakeholders such as community groups, faith‐based organizations, civil rights organizations, and law enforcement. They wish to develop collaborative solutions to reduce conflict, improve communication, and minimize the potential for future conflict.

    The Department of Justice will be compiling a report summarizing the results of the two meetings from October and January. According to city officials, that report will be presented to the Fayetteville City Council in March or April.

    Previously city council members have heard about the costs of possibly relocating the Market House to Lamon Park, Arsenal Park, or the Cape Fear River Park site. However, relocation would cost the city more than 2 million dollars.

    Other options presented to City Council last year included making art exhibits in the Market House highlighting the history, having a monthly market with an emphasis for people of color vendors, having themed events for the educational community, and making a structural modification to the building.

    All moves to repurpose the Market House from the city were put on hold by the council until after the City-SPIRIT meetings.

  • Rasheem Grant The Fayetteville Police Department has arrested one out of two men who are being suspects in the murder of Eddie Saez in early January.

    Saez was murdered in his own store, Southern City Swag Boutique, on Jan. 4 along Yadkin Road.

    28-year-old Rasheem Lopez Grant was arrested in South Carolina by the Columbia Police Department and was transported to Cumberland County. He is being charged with First Degree Murder, Possession of a firearm by a felon, conspiracy and robbery with a deadly weapon. Grant is currently at the Cumberland County Jail where he remains under no bond.

    Detectives are still looking for the identity of the second suspect and the Infinity SUV (pictured below) that was seen at the scene of the murder. Anyone with any information should call Detective J. Olsen at (910) 709-1958 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477).

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  • Supreme Court Political gerrymandering is dead in North Carolina, at least for now.

    The state Supreme Court issued an order late Friday striking down the Republican-drawn political maps slated to be used for the rest of the decade. Groups challenging the maps hit a grand slam, winning on each of their constitutional claims.

    A 4-3 majority of the Supreme Court found that the state legislative and congressional maps were “unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt under the free elections clause, the equal protection clause, the free speech clause and the freedom of assembly clause of the North Carolina Constitution,” according to the order, written by Democratic Justice Robin Hudson.

    The General Assembly will have to redraw maps and submit them by noon Feb. 18 to a three-judge panel in Superior Court for approval.

    If the panel decides the General Assembly’s new maps don’t meet the court’s new standards, it can select maps submitted by the groups who sued the state. Whatever the trial court selects, the state or any of the challengers can appeal the decision by 5 p.m. Feb. 23.

    That’s the day before candidate filing is set to open again, so there is a chance North Carolina will see a repeat of what happened in December, when the courts shut down candidate filing — then reopened it, then shut it down again.

    Because of the tight timeline, the Supreme Court only issued an order, not an opinion, meaning that it told the relevant groups what they had to do next but did not describe the full legal justifications underpinning the decision. The opinion will be submitted later, according to the document.

    Chief Justice Paul Newby, a Republican elected in 2020, expressed his frustration with the decision in a snappy dissent, writing that the Democratic-majority court interpreted the constitution in such a way that left “no limits to this Court’s power.”

    Since the state constitution does not put an explicit limit on partisan gerrymandering, Newby argued, the only ways to do so are by statute or a constitutional amendment. Both would require the legislature to act to limit its own authority to draw partisan maps.

    Either the General Assembly takes the Supreme Court’s order and attempts to draw constitutional maps or takes the risk that the courts will choose maps submitted by the groups that sued. It will also have to submit the data it used to draw the maps and the methods used to measure partisan fairness.

    The Supreme Court recommended, but did not require, five different metrics for measuring the partisan fairness of a map.

    “​​To comply with the limitations contained in the North Carolina Constitution, which are applicable to redistricting plans, the General Assembly must not diminish or dilute any individual’s vote on the basis of partisan affiliation,” the majority wrote.

    But Newby wrote those guidelines are “vague and undefined,” meaning only the court itself will be able to define the constitutionality of new maps.

    “The question of how much partisan consideration is unconstitutional remains a mystery, as does what is meant by ‘substantially equal voting power on the basis of partisan affiliation,’” Newby wrote.

    The Republican-controlled legislature, which drew the maps and whose leaders are the named defendants in the case, can partially appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, at least regarding the congressional map.

    Though it’s speculation, that appeal is likely, according to Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer.


     Photo Credit: The Supreme Court of North Carolina building in Raleigh. Courtesy of the state courts.

  • Protestor Arrested State Capitol Police cited a protester for second-degree trespassing Wednesday outside the N.C. Judicial Center as he called for the arrest of an off-duty Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy who, weeks prior in Fayetteville, fatally shot Jason Walker, an unarmed Black man.

    Shaun McMillan, an activist in Fayetteville, was leading a small protest right outside the building when a State Capitol Police officer approached and asked him to conduct the gathering off state property.

    State Capitol Police Sgt. Michele Larson said a permit is required to protest on the grounds of the N.C. Judicial Center.

    McMillan initially refused to relocate and continued to protest, along with a few others from across the state, until an officer handcuffed him.

    Minutes later, officers released McMillan and cited him for second-degree trespassing.

    Larson said they decided to release him because they wanted the protesters to speak their minds, as long as they did so legally.

    After being released, McMillan and the rest of the protesters continued to gather on the public sidewalk just outside the N.C. Judicial Center premises.\

    Reason for protest

    On Jan. 8, Jeffrey Hash, an off-duty Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy, shot and killed Walker following an incident where Hash alleges that Walker stepped onto the street in front of his truck, ripped off a windshield wiper and broke his windshield.

    In police body-cam footage released a week later, Walker’s father, in a witness interview with officers on the scene, seemed to confirm Hash’s retelling.

    “(Jason Walker) pulled off one of the daggone windshield wipers and hit the windshield,” Walker’s father said in the video.

    In the days after the shooting, Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins referred the investigation to the State Bureau of Investigation. Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West handed any potential prosecution to the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, which is housed at the N.C. Judicial Center, where Wednesday’s protests took place.

    Officials sought this outside help to limit a conflict of interest, Carolina Public Press previously reported.

    McMillan said in a phone interview prior to Wednesday’s protest that Hash should have been arrested immediately following the shooting. He called it “a critical mistake” by the Fayetteville Police Department.

    “This is overdue,” he said. “Our patience is gone. We don’t have patience for a system that would allow somebody to be gunned down in their own neighborhood without so much as an arrest.”

    He called on Kimberly Spahos, director of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, to press charges and have Hash arrested.

    While the conference would lead any potential prosecution against Hash, Spahos said in a phone interview prior to the protest that no charging decision can be made amid an ongoing criminal investigation.

    “We can’t make a charging decision on this case or any case until the investigation is complete,” she said. “It would be imprudent and improper to do so.” 

    Once the SBI completes its investigation and submits its findings to the Conference of DAs, Spahos said a charging decision can be made based on that report.

    She is bound by the rules of professional conduct from speaking on any facts regarding an ongoing investigation, she said.

    The SBI coming in to investigate officer shootings is standard procedure legislated by the General Assembly last year, as long as certain public officials, such as Fayetteville Police Chief Hawkins, request it.

    “This is a standard process for how this is handled,” Spahos said. “We wait for the full investigation to be complete before we make decisions.” 

    McMillan said he understands the process and hopes Hash will be charged when possible.

    “As soon as that SBI investigation is completed, she will make the decision, and we hope that she makes the right one,” he said.


    Photo Credit: State Capitol Police handcuff Fayetteville activist Shaun McMillan while he protests outside the N.C. Judicial Center in Raleigh on Feb. 2, 2022. Police said McMillan was protesting without a permit. Officers released him minutes later and cited him for second-degree trespassing. Ben Sessoms / Carolina Public Press

  • Fort Bragg Airborne Paraglide President Joe Biden will be sending 2,000 troops from Fort Bragg to Poland and Germany in the coming days, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby. Kirby also confirmed that 1,000 service members from a Stryker squadron currently in Germany will be repositioned to Romania.

    "The 82nd Airborne Division is deploying components of an Infantry Brigade Combat Team and key enablers to Poland and the 18th Airborne Corps is moving a Joint Task Force-capable headquarters to Germany," Kirby said in a press briefing Wednesday morning. 

    Kirby said that these forces will not fight in Ukraine, rather they will give support to the allies of the United States. He also reiterated that these are not permanent moves.

    "They are moved designed to respond to the current security environment," Kirby said. "Moreover, these forces are not going to fight in Ukraine. They're going to ensure the robust defense of our NATO allies."

    The 82nd Airborne Division was chosen because they were already on heightened alert and they are multi-mission capable.

    "I think their versatility, their ability to move quickly, and to conduct a range of missions across a range of contigencies which is well-proven, that is why the Secretary has ordered them to go," Kirby said.

    These troops are separate from the 8,500 troops who were placed on alert in January for a possible deployment to Europe with the NATO Response Force.


    Photo Credit: Fort Bragg Paraglide 

  • Amazon Logo Amazon has confirmed they are building a 1.3 million-square-foot fulfillment facility at the Military Business Park. According to a press release, this new facility will create more than 500 full-time jobs with hundreds of additional part-time opportunities.  

    “Amazon is excited to expand operations in Cumberland County, North Carolina, investing in a new fulfillment center in Fayetteville,” said Amazon Spokesperson Nikki Forman. “We are committed to providing efficient delivery for customers and creating hundreds of jobs

    This is the second building Amazon has under construction in Cumberland County. In May of 2021, Amazon announced a new last-mile facility. That facility is currently under construction at 1005 Dunn Road.

    “I welcome the significant positive impact that Amazon will make here. The fact that Amazon has twice selected to invest in our area sends a strong signal to other potential employers about the many wonderful benefits this region has to offer, from our central location to the thriving workforce, and excellent business climate," Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said in the press release.

    The City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County each approved up to $1.25 million to help assist with infrastructure improvements. For Amazon 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 500 full-time workers with an average annual wage of about $33,000.

    “This Amazon facility in the Military Business Park means hundreds of new jobs for our County, as well as economic growth and advancement. This transformative investment is a major win for our community,” said County Commission Chairman Glenn Adams. “A sincere thanks goes out to Amazon’s representatives as well as Cloteen Jasmin, Senior Vice President of Development at Ryan Companies, who have been collaborating with FCEDC on the project since April. This project has an incredibly aggressive timeline, and we cannot wait to celebrate its opening in 2023. Thanks to all those who collaborated to make this a success.”

    The new warehouse facility at the Military Business Park is expected to open in 2023. 

  • fifer "To martial music proudly tread, The stars and stripes above me wave,
    And lay my fife beside me there, I'd miss it even in the grave.
    And when ye rest beside the spring, At morning's dawn or evening gloom,
    Discharge a volley o'er the spot, And cheer the silence of the tomb."
    — Excerpt from The Grave of Hammond, Luola Miller, published August 1858

    Isaac Hammond's military service should have come to a close with the Militia Act of 1792. When the act passed on May 8, 1792, Hammond's position as a fifer became illegal for him to continue. Only white men were allowed to join militias and serve their country. Yet, less than a year later, in April of 1793, Hammond, a free Black man, resumed his fifing duties with the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, a position he would hold for 30 years.

    "The Militia Act of 1792 said that no Blacks were allowed to serve in militia units. Yet here he was in the FILI. You could kind of say he was breaking the law, and the FILI let him," said Charles Anderson Jr., a history lecturer at Fayetteville State University.

    An FSU double alumnus, Anderson has been teaching history to FSU students since 2015. He has conducted African American history tours of Fayetteville, with stops at the original site of FSU, the E.E. Smith House, the Chesnutt House and Isaac Hammond's grave on the parade grounds of the FILI located at the intersection of Cool Spring and Meeting Streets.

    Hammond's birth date, even the year, is unknown. What is known is he was a barber, living in Fayetteville as a free Black man. Hammond's baptism in September of 1755 seems to be his earliest record.
    During the Revolutionary War, Hammond joined the 10th Regiment of N.C. Continental Line as a fifer. Hammond was among those who spent that very cold winter of 1777-78 in Valley Forge with Gen. George Washington.

    "It was his dream to be a company fifer, and he did it," Anderson said.

    A fifer's position within the military ranks was an important one. A fifer plays a small shrill flute called a fife. The fife was particularly useful because soldiers could hear its high-pitched tones over the sounds of combat.

    The fifers and drummers would signal battle plans and movements during marches and battles. Soldiers would hear the instruments across the battlefield and know what each drum beat or flute note would mean. By all accounts, Hammond took his job as a fifer very seriously.

    When Hammond returned to Fayetteville, he returned to his life as a barber. However, the idea of serving his country never left him. The Revolutionary War ended in 1783. It would be another decade before Hammond would pick up his fife as part of an organized militia. Hammond became the company fifer when the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry was organized on August 23, 1793.

    "Here [in Fayetteville], you had folks that were enslaved. He's free, and he's serving in a military unit, in an important position. In some ways, it can kind of give hope. 'I'm enslaved, but this guy is free. What can I do to be free?'" Anderson said.

    Hammond served as the FILI's company fifer until he died in 1822. Records show that not only did he serve despite not being allowed to, he also voted in local elections. His wife petitioned for his pension from the government after he passed. Their family Bible recorded the name of a child, George. Other possible descendants of Hammond are unknown.

    Hammond wished to be buried on the FILI parade grounds, to remain near the company he loved. He was given a burial with full military honors, wearing his uniform and his fife at his side. He is the only known person buried on the FILI parade grounds.

    "Isaac Hammond demonstrated a willingness to serve something greater than himself, and hopefully that allowed a door to open so that other folks could eventually follow him," Anderson said.


     This piece is part of our series, "Local Black History", where we will be featuring local Fayetteville Black history heroes in each issue in February.

  • His Story by Angela Stout Being an Artist: A Way of Life is the newest upcoming exhibit opening at Gallery 208 on Feb. 8. What defines the nature of being an artist sounds like a riddle: "inside out, outside in." This exhibit will showcase artists with different art careers but live the riddle by remaining practicing artists. Being an Artist: A Way of Life includes a variety of styles, confirming how each artist experiences the "outside in," resulting in the expression of those experiences, "inside out."

    Being an Artist: A Way of Life is one of four local exhibits in February and March celebrating how a historically black university (HBCU), Fayetteville State University, enriches the local, regional and national cultural landscapes.

    HBCUs were founded in the 1800s to provide Black Americans an opportunity for higher education. Like all institutions across America, it was the path to becoming successful academically and professionally. Even today, black graduates of HBCUs are significantly more likely to have felt supported while in college than graduating from predominantly white institutions.

    Fayetteville State University was established in 1867. Fast forward to the present, HBCUs now provide diverse learning environments for a diverse student population. Curating Being an Artist: A Way of Life is as much my story, after teaching at an HBCU for 29 years, as it is the 20 alumni who attended FSU and were selected to exhibit together. Like all my art colleagues, I have had the honor of having the participating artists in my classes, encouraging their development, witnessing their mastery of talent. And now sharing the courage they show continuing to be artists after graduating.

    The exhibit is unique for several reasons. First and foremost, it takes courage to be an artist. Vulnerability is a consequence of expressing yourself to the public; courage requires centeredness within yourself and an assertion of self. It is rare to show a group of artists who have all attended the same university and see how their careers have unfolded due to their talent, perseverance, and courage. In the exhibit, each artist has a profile text panel explaining why being an artist is important to them and their way of life.

    Second, many parents discourage their children from majoring in visual art because of the starving artist perception that lingers in our culture. Each text panel includes different art jobs and art careers of the artists in the exhibit.

    This article below includes abridged versions of the art-related jobs, where each artist is located and answers explaining why they made personal choices for art to be their lifestyle.

    Marcela Casals:

    Professional Actor and Performance Artist, New York City, NY.

    "Being an artist is not a choice; it is the thread by which I weave my life."

    Dustan Elliot:

    Graphic Designer for Champion Media and Results Optimized, Lumberton, NC:

    "Art is simply everyday life for me. It was a huge part of my upbringing, and I want to pass that down to my children as well."

    Namera Graybeal:

    Cumberland County Art Educator, Fayetteville, NC.

    "Creativity is the core of who I am that can't be ignored."

    Carla Guzman:

    G1-12 International School, Taiwan, recently moved to Fayetteville, NC.

    "Being an artist is my career path; it is my preferred way of life."

    Beverly Henderson:

    Assistant Curator Ellington White Contemporary Gallery, Fayetteville, NC.

    "Art continues to be a form of therapy for me, allowing me to leave the cares and stresses of everyday life outside the studio doors. I love the mess, the physicality of materials."

    Babs Holland:

    Illustrator and Designer for a marketing firm, Orlando, FL.

    "I am a visual storyteller; I can't think of myself as anything else."

    Andrew Johnson:

    City of Fayetteville Graphic Production Supervisor, Fayetteville, NC.

    "Being an artist brings me joy and allows me to share those moments with others. I can draw inspiration from all aspects of life."

    Eric Longley:

    Registered Art Therapist Department of Veteran Affairs, West Haven, CT.

    "I use art every day as a healing tool both for myself and the Veterans I serve."

    Damien Mathis:

    Professional Artist, Fayetteville, NC.

    "The freedom to express the emotions we sometimes can't explain. We all have something to give to the world."

    Karmimadeebora McMillan:

    Boston Center for the Arts two-year Residency Program, Boston, MA.

    "Research and creating are an integral part of who I am along with constant curiosity and a thirst for knowledge."

    Ebony Morlte-Oates:

    UX/UI Design Intern at IBEX, Atlanta, GA.

    "Art helps me determine what emotional state I'm in, in times where I'm not even sure. Art helps me express my view of the human psyche and the state of the world spiritually."

    Vicki Rhoda:

    Art Faculty at Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC.

    "I consider my artwork political; there is always something to say! Making art makes me feel good about myself."

    Stacy Robinson:

    Illustrator and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL.

    "I was always an artist. I teach art and make it."

    David Scott:

    Digital Projects Graduate Services Assistant at the University of Texas, Denton, TX.

    "My art allows me to be the voice of those who may never be heard. I believe art, my art, can change hearts and minds, open eyes, reveal truths and change the world."

    Shantel Scott:

    Art Specialist-Ederle Art Center, Vicenza Italy, presently lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

    "Visual imagery provides a sort of universal language by which viewers can interpret individually. Creating art is a source of catharsis. I am most myself when I am making art."

    Angela Stout:

    Painting Instructor, Cape Fear Studios, and FTCC Continuing Education lives in Broadway, NC.

    "The process of creating is what my heart desires. The act of making helps me express what I struggle to express in words."

    Amanda Stephens:

    Lead Sculptor, Kerns Studio Mardi Gras World, New Orleans, LA.

    "Art is inseparable from life. It is the most fulfilling endeavor both in the creation and the continued learning of skills and self."

    Jean Newton Unser (Dieter):

    Art teacher in NC schools lives in San Antonio, Texas.

    "As an artist, I am a collector, a maker, a participant, and support other artists be an artist."

    Aaron Wallace:

    Self Employed Professional Artist, Willow Spring, North Carolina.

    "I see my entire living space as a studio and canvas. I am lucky to have a life where I can work at my own pace and have plenty of space to create."

    Neysa Wellington:

    Master of Fine Arts in Photography graduate student, Tyler School of Art & Architecture at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

    "Being an artist is embracing my ancestral calling of being a visual griot. Art saved my life, but photography changed my life."

    Fruits of Trust by Shantel Scott

    Lastly, a reason for the exhibit is to share the diverse talent and styles of 20 artists. Jean Newton Unser (Dieter) from San Antonio, Texas, exhibits her refreshing approach to watercolors in a soothing painting titled Landscape. Unser's painterly work is in stark contrast to Ebony Morlte-Oates' digital work titled Layered Purging. Similar in color, Morlte-Oates' portrait is a flattened contemporary portrait evoking a psychological state of being.

    Two artists have explored the portrait genre. Shantel Scott is exhibiting a female reduced to line, black and white. In her digital vector drawing titled Fruits of Self Trust, Scott has presented us with a stylized contour drawing - an encounter with a female cosmic oracle. Scott's minimalist approach is the exact opposite of Angela Stout's. Stout is the only realistic painter in the exhibit and exhibits a meticulously painted portrait titled His Story. Stout uses light in her painting to reveal meaning about the male subject; a crackled background texture compliments the subject's strength and permanence, and gaze.

    Visitors to Being an Artist: A Way of Life should plan on spending time with the exhibit. A variety of styles and mediums to enjoy, but it will take some time to read the artist's profile text panel. The panel has an image of the artist, their art jobs, statements about attending an HBCU for their education, statements about art as a lifestyle, and links to the artists' website or instructional YouTube videos.

    The exhibit opens at Gallery 208, Feb. 8 at 208 Rowan Street from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    The public is invited to the opening.

    The exhibit will remain in the gallery until late March. The gallery is open Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For information on the show, call 910-484-6200.

  • COVEROur Mission is to be an advocate for economic development and quality of life by engaging our business leaders in influencing local public policy issues. We will provide a respected business voice to which government, policy, and media leaders turn for reliable, non-partisan policy guidance.

    And so it begins: A sizeable group of Fayetteville business, professional and civic leaders have come together to tackle a decades-old problem in our community. Some see the issue as lack of unified direction. Others see the problem as community divisiveness and resistance to change. John McCauley, president of Vision 2026, defines the issue as all the above. At a kick-off social gathering last week to officially launch the Vision 2026 initiative, McCauley challenged nearly 200 local community movers and shakers in attendance to join the movement. “We’ve been resistant to change and it’s costing us jobs. We’ve allowed too many forces to divide us,” he added. McCauley is a local businessman and president of Fayetteville’s Highland Paving Company.

    Vision 2026 was founded by Developer Ralph Huff, owner with his wife Linda of H&H Homes of Fayetteville. He is also an owner/partner in Coldwell Banker Advantage, one of the largest real estate brokerage firms in the region. Huff, a native of Hoke County, is a 1972 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in business administration. He was recently inducted to the Fayetteville Public Works Commission board of directors. In 2010, Huff co-chaired the Linda Lee Allan Legacy Fund on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and raised $2 million for economic development in our community. His commitment to the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community has been unwavering and his generous contributions have left an indelible legacy.

    Mac Healy serves as Vice President of Vision 2026. He is the owner and Vice President of Healy Wholesale. Healy has been a driving force behind the North Carolina Civil War History Center proposed for Fayetteville. Fayetteville native Jason Poole is serving as treasurer of the organization. He is a CPA and partner in the Certified Public Accounting firm of Todd, Rivenbark and Puryear. These four noteworthy executives lead a founding board of directors that reads like a virtual Who’s Who of successful local organizations, businesses and institutions. Already, Vision 2026 has recruited over 150 members to this non-profit organization, and the momentum is growing. The timing is near perfect. The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce is about to name a new president and CEO. They have recently increased their staff by hiring Patricia Gonzalez to head up membership development. In addition, Jack Rostetter, an executive with H&H Homes, has been named chairman of the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation and recently hired Robert Van Geons of Salisbury, North Carolina, to serve as the FCEDC’s executive director and industry hunter.

    The overall objectives and mission of the Vision 2026 organizers and members is to rally the community as well as our city and county elected officials and move Fayetteville and Cumberland County forward into the 21st century. Huff, McCauley, Healy and Poole are devoting their time and energies toward economic development and making our community more attractive to business and industry with anticipation of providing the jobs, amenities and quality of life that will be attractive to young professionals. “We had become uncompetitive,” declared McCauley in his address to the crowd last week. Vision 2026 is unique. It is the first local economic development initiative to be launched exclusively by successful business and professional leaders. In addition to the 100 plus committee members, it was estimated that dozens of local and supportive community leaders along with several city, county and state elected public officials attended the launch party, said Huff. Not only is the mission of Vision 2026 to advocate for economic growth and improve the quality of life in Fayetteville, but also to engage business leaders in the process of influencing local public policy issues.

    Early last year, Huff led a team that successfully promoted passage in the city of a $35 million dollar parks and recreation bond. This became the impetus for Vision 2026. Vision 2026 has identified five projects they believe will propel our community to the forefront of the state and position us to compete economically with other communities. Two of these projects are already well underway.

    Baseball Stadium: The Vision 2026 executives predict as much as $100 million dollars in value added to downtown Fayetteville with construction of the $33 million baseball stadium and the renovation of the former Prince Charles Hotel. Residential, retail, eateries and professional offices are planned for the acreage around the baseball stadium in the general area bounded by the mainline railroad tracks, Hay Street and Ray Avenue. An apartment building and parking deck are included. The final plans are still under development between the city and the developing contractor, Prince Charles Holdings. The stadium itself is being modeled after a larger but very similar ballpark in Columbia, SC and will seat an estimated 4,500 fans.

    The North Carolina Civil War History Center is proposed for the grounds of the Fayetteville Arsenal. Private pleges of $7 million have been committed and both the City and County governments have pledged $7.5 million dollars each, pending the state legislature provides $30 million. Once built, the history center would become a branch of the North Carolina Museum of History which would be responsible for its upkeep.

    A multi-million dollar performing arts center is another proposed project. The PAC as envisioned by Huff would be located on Person Street near Eastern Boulevard although other potential sites are also under consideration. Vison 2026 will also advocate for County-wide water expansion. “Inferior water will not fuel economic expansion,” Huff said. The Fayetteville Public Works Commission, the local electric, water and sewer utility, recently lifted previous restrictions that limited extension of public water outside the Fayetteville city limits. PWC Executive Director David Trago and members of the board were on hand at the launch. Controlling storm water runoff is the fifth objective. However, Huff and many others agree that this may not be the time to promote what has become a political hot potato following Hurricane Matthew.

    Huff and the Vision 2026 committee believe the movement will succeed in bringing the community together by utilizing local leadership as the catalyst for bringing local residents, the elected officials of the city, county and school board, the cultural arts community and the hospitality industry and others to all work together for the public good. In a recent newspaper article Huff wrote: “This new era of cooperation will help lead Fayetteville and Cumberland County into the forefront of progressive communities in our state.”

    We believe this, and Vision 2026 believes this. Many of those leading this bold initiative have already made their fortunes and left their philanthropic mark on this community. Now, it’s time for us to get to work on behalf of our future generations. I heard someone say very emphatically “It’s now or never!” I prefer to think “It’s Now, forever.”

    If you would like to know more about Vision 2026 or become an official member by joining the movement of the Vision 2026, go to www.vision2016.com. Up & Coming Weekly will keep you informed on its progress and on all related Vision 2026 events.

     

  • 19Scholar Athletes1

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Rayvin Griffin

    E.E. Smith
    Basketball
    Senior
    Griffin averaged 14.3 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Mid-South 4-A Conference regular-season champion Golden Bulls. She shared the county lead in 3-point goals and was Most Valuable Player of the Cumberland County Holiday Classic. She ranks in the top ten in her class and has a grade point average of 4.30.

     

     

     

    20Scholar Athlete 2

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Trent Agee
    Gray’s Creek
    Football
    Senior
    Agee, the starting quarterback for the Bears last fall, threw for 740 yards and eight touchdowns. He carries a 4.50 grade point average.

  • 18Pine ForestPine Forest High School’s baseball team is coming off back-to-back trips to the third round of the state 4-A playoffs.

    With the loss of nine seniors from last year’s team, head coach Tom Willoughby isn’t predicting his Trojans will fare as well this season, but he’s sticking with a formula that seems to breed success for his program.

    Willoughby has had his share of exceptional players, like infielder-pitcher Cobie Vance, who is in his second season playing for the University of Alabama.
    Players like that certainly help, but Willoughby thinks the guys who aren’t going to play baseball after high school are just as crucial. “They are going to put the most into that opportunity,’’ Willoughby said. “You raise the team up from the bottom. If you get those guys to play better, the whole team gets better.
    “Role players are a big factor.’’

    As with Vance a couple of years ago, Willoughby has another budding star to build this year’s team around, shortstop-pitcher Isaiah Bennett. A gifted athlete, Bennett has been a standout in both baseball and soccer for the Trojans.

    In January, Bennett flew to Arizona to take part in Major League Baseball’s Dream Series showcase, a special event to expose African-American pitchers and catchers to pro scouts and team staff for evaluation and instruction.

    Bennett, a sophomore, has also made an early commitment to play at the University of North Carolina, but Willoughby doesn’t think all that exposure will go to Bennett’s head. “He loves playing the game and he’s going to go about his business,’’ Willoughby said. “He won’t feel the pressure to live up to expectations.’’
    Bennett said he’s set a high bar for himself this season and wants to focus on being a team leader, showing his teammates the right way to do things. “I think I can perform at any level I put my mindset to,’’ he said.

    One of the biggest challenges for Bennett, and the rest of the Pine Forest pitching staff, will be adjusting to a new rule that limits the number of pitches a player can throw before having to take mandatory days off.

    As a short reliever, Bennett doesn’t think the rules will affect him greatly, but he said it could be a problem for pitchers if hitters become patient and pitchers aren’t able to find the strike zone.

    “You’ll have to focus on what you’re doing and go after them (the batters),’’ he said.

    Willoughby said he supports the new pitching rule but added it will require coaches to think ahead a little more on who they’ll be using in a game and how much.
    “I’m getting seven or eight guys ready to start the season,’’ he said. “We’ll have to use two or three guys early on because you don’t want them throwing 85 to 100 pitches right out of the gate.

    “We’ll have to use guys as a bridge to get to a closer or just to break up games.’’

    Willoughby said the Trojans have some three-game weeks early in the season, so he’s already looking at which pitchers he’ll be throwing in those games.
    “It builds depth, and that’s what you want to do as team,’’ he said.

    As for how that depth performs on the field, Willoughby will just have to wait.

    “As a group we’ve been together about a week now,’’ he said. “These guys have put in a lot of work. It depends on how quickly they develop as to how good we do this year.’’

     

  • 17 AndrewEsterlyWhen Up & Coming Weekly publisher Bill Bowman and I first started discussing the things we wanted to do with this page, one of the first items I mentioned was honoring scholar-athletes from Cumberland County.

    We see plenty of lists of athletes with all kinds of scoring and rushing and passing averages through the athletic year, but I fear we often forget that athletics is a sideshow to what young people are really in school for, to get an education.
    I was reminded of that last week when I got a request from Tracy Esterly on Facebook to add her to my circle of friends. Esterly is the mother of Gray’s Creek High School wrestler Andrew Esterly, who competed for the Bears in the recent N.C. High School Athletic Association wrestling championships held at the Greensboro Coliseum.

    Esterly wrestled in the 132-pound classification where he finished fifth in the state in his weight class.
    But that’s not why I mention him in this week’s column. His mother posted a picture of him on Facebook, which you’ll see elsewhere on this page, sitting in the stands in the Greensboro Coliseum with textbook open, studying for his class in advanced placement human geography.
    Making good grades is enough of a challenge by itself, but it’s even more challenging when you’re in a sport like wrestling. Of all the sports I’ve covered, wrestling makes the most personal demands on athletes, from maintaining precise weight to having to monitor their health carefully for signs of illness that can keep you out of competition.

    I applaud Esterly and all athletes like him for their commitment to push themselves to athletic excellence while at the same time maintaining the highest possible standards in the classroom.

    My longtime friend Rick Strunk, now retired as associate commissioner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association, recalled a conversation he had with a parent who called in a few years ago.

    The father wanted to know if he, as a parent, could override the diagnosis of a doctor who said his son shouldn’t return to the football field. According to Strunk, the son had been diagnosed with a concussion, and the doctor wouldn’t release him to play.
    Strunk tried to explain the logic of keeping the son on the bench, asking the father if he would want to reverse the doctor’s decision if his son was suffering from a knee injury.

    There’s currently a bill pending in the North Carolina House of Representatives that would give parents the right to overrule the doctor if it passes.
    Under the language of the bill, an athlete diagnosed with a concussion will be removed from the game or practice and not be allowed to return that day.
    However, it then gives a parent or legal guardian the right to submit written clearance to the school so the athlete can resume competition.
    I’m certainly in favor of parents being involved in making key decisions about their children and athletics, but the logic behind giving this much latitude
    escapes me.

    Parents don’t need to be given the freedom to decide if their children are healthy enough to return to the playing field, especially with concussions. That decision should be left in the hands of medical professionals.

    Hopefully, this bill will not get serious consideration and die quickly in committee. Names have been determined for the conferences the Cumberland County Schools will be playing in next season. Both leagues will have new names.  Members of the former Mid-South 4-A and Cape Fear Valley 3-A are joining a combination 3-A/4-A league that will be called the Patriot Athletic Conference. The old Southeastern 4-A, which will be adding Jack Britt and Seventy-First next season, is changing its name to the Sandhills Athletic Conference, or SAC-8. Both new leagues begin play in the 2017-18 school year.

     

  • 15Dinors at CrownTake a trip back in time on March 5 at the Crown Theatre at Dinosaur Zoo Live. It is fun to learn about and imagine life on Earth when dinosaurs roamed, but this show takes the excitement of dinosaurs to a new level. Audience members are taken on a realistic tour through prehistoric Australia. Realistic dinosaurs of all sizes along with performers will teach audience members about the amazing creatures onstage. It makes for a show that is visually stunning, fun and educational for all ages. 

    This production features 19 dinosaurs onstage, including the amazing triceratops. The sometimes giant and always realistic dinosaurs are actually puppets. Trained puppeteers in the performance are able to make the life-sized puppets move in lifelike ways. It even allows audience members to interact with the dinosaurs. Because the show is both visually stunning and physically interactive, it makes paleontology come to life. By combining science and theater, it makes the knowledge accessible and entertaining. Prior knowledge and a passion for paleontology are not prerequisites for this show. Everyone is welcome to come and explore the ancient world of giant reptiles. The goal is for everyone in the audience to walk away with a little something more than they arrived with. That could be a little more knowledge about dinosaurs, a new passion or interest in paleontology or just a little more happiness from the joy of watching the show.

    Erth Visual & Physical INC. is the company responsible for creating this show. The company was founded in 1990 and is based out of Sydney Australia. They are widely recognized for their visual work. They specialize in creating out-of-the-box and unexpected visual experiences that engage audiences in novel ways, especially when dinosaurs are involved. Their puppets are incredibly well-respected for their craftsmanship and realism. They have been commissioned for museums, zoos, theaters and festivals from all over the world. Their most widely recognized work is Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo. The show is constantly touring globally and has several highly trained teams of puppeteers and performers that tour simultaneously so that they can bring this show to a variety of venues across North America, Australia and the United Kingdom.

    Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live has been recognized as one of the best children’s shows and has received positive reviews from multiple critics in the United States, not to mention the opinions of many happy families.


    Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live will be at the Crown Theatre for just one night: March 5. It starts at 4:30 p.m. The Crown Theatre is located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. Ticket prices range from $20 t0 $50. Audience members under 2 years old do not need a ticket. The $50 VIP tickets include a post show meet & greet, a signed photo and a tour laminate. To purchase tickets or for more information visit the following website: http://www.crowncomplexnc.com/events/detail/erths-dinosaur-zoo-live.

     

  • 13Campbell Stadium“Campbell University is in the final stages of a major expansion to Jim Perry Stadium that will literally change all facets of the facility from just a few short years ago,” said Campbell University Athletics Director Bob Roller. The university’s 2017 baseball season is underway, and next month, the Buies Creek Astros will take to the field. The Astros are a new minor league team licensed to Fayetteville. But they will call Campbell home for the 2017 and 2018 baseball seasons while a new stadium is built in downtown Fayetteville.

    The most recent contribution to Campbell’s stadium is new synthetic turf, which was donated by the Houston Astros organization. “We were already underway with a multimillion-dollar fundraising effort for the opening of the Jim and Daphne Perry Pavilion in March of this year,” said Roller. The Pavilion, which overlooks the third base line, “will have a state-of-the-art locker room, a training room, coaches’ offices and a recruiting lounge for Campbell baseball,” Roller added. “It will also add more than 300 spectator seats to increase our capacity to approximately 1,500.” The expansion also includes new dugouts, an outfield wall, a ticket window and restrooms, and the largest video scoreboard in the conference. It will be ready by April of this year. “The one area we were unable to finish was a new field turf at the stadium, and the negotiations with the Houston Astros allowed that goal to be reached with the Astros providing the majority of the funding as part of their lease agreement with Campbell,” Roller explained.


    What is commonly known as AstroTurf is a surface of synthetic fibers made to look like natural grass. The main reason for its use is maintenance. Artificial turf stands up to heavy use and requires no irrigation or trimming. Artificial turf first gained substantial attention in the 1960s when it was used in the newly-constructed Astrodome. The specific product used was developed by Monsanto and named AstroTurf. The term has since become generic for any artificial turf and while AstroTurf remains a registered trademark, it is no longer owned by Monsanto.


    Jim Perry was born in Williamston, North Carolina, and attended Campbell University until being signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1956. He is the older brother of Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry and was a fine pitcher in his own right. Jim Perry was a three-time All-Star and won the 1970 AL Cy Young Award when he posted a record of 24-12. Jim and Gaylord Perry are the only brothers in Major League history to win Cy Young Awards. He also won 20 games in 1969 and won at least 17 games five times. His longest tenure in the majors was with the Minnesota Twins from 1963
    to 1972.

     

  • 12OpioidFayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson hosted a roundtable discussion last week on the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation. Robertson and Fayetteville Veterans Affairs Director Elizabeth Goolsby have co-chaired a local task force on efforts to reduce the scourge for about a year. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and more than a dozen other local and state officials in law enforcement and healthcare were in attendance to hear and learn about their successes. 

    “I’m excited to hold this roundtable with Attorney General Stein so that our community can assist the rest of the state in reducing opioid abuse,” said the mayor. Stein applauded the effort and achievements the Fayetteville community has made to reduce opioid addiction. “The opioid epidemic is tearing families apart all across our state,” said Stein. “Fayetteville is a leader in implementing innovative programs to combat this crisis, and I’m excited to learn from the community leaders. It has taken 15 to 20 years for the state to get into this crisis and we must take it on,” he added.

    The Fayetteville Opioid Abuse & Awareness Task Force focuses on reducing the number of opioid overdoses and educating providers who prescribe opioids. They also want to bring awareness about opioid addiction to the public while promoting treatment and recovery resources. “The epidemic is unlike anything I’ve seen since I’ve been district attorney,” said Billy West. “It’s the biggest problem we have in the criminal justice system,” he added.

    Opioids or opiates include strong prescription pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and tramadol. The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid. The attorney general can learn a lot from Fayetteville’s Task Force on Opiate Abuse and Awareness. Opportunities for assistance in substance abuse are continuing to develop in Fayetteville. Cohen Veterans Network provides quality, accessible, comprehensive mental health care for veterans and family members. And it’s free. In a task force report for August 2016, the company said it would “open a Fayetteville facility costing between $8-$12 million.” For now, it is leasing space in a Village Drive office building, said Mayor Robertson.

    Cumberland County Communicare will soon be opening a recovery center that will “provide open access for screening, assessments and referrals for anyone looking for recovery services, including substance use treatment, opioid treatment, 12-step programs and other resources,” stated the report. It has opened a 24-hour crisis phone line as well. Numerous organizations, providers and faith-based groups will volunteer their time at the call center. Recently, the Cumberland County District Attorney’s office in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies initiated the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. It is a comprehensive program geared toward helping those addicted, not the drug dealers. This is the only program of its kind in the Southeastern United States and only one of four in the country.

    Fayetteville Police got involved in combatting opiate overdoses nearly two years ago. Former Police Chief Harold Medlock equipped his patrol officers with Naloxone heroin antidotes. This medication is used to block the effects of common opioids like heroin, specifically in overdose situations. This medication, along with the dedicated training of the Fayetteville City police, can be credited with saving 55 lives since the program began. No doubt the program works and the City of Fayetteville is the recognized agent of this positive change. Now all that is needed is more state and federal money to enhance and extend the program.

     

  •  

    07 Police Search1The search to replace retired Police Chief Harold Medlock hasn’t begun yet. But background information is being gathered by headhunters from Developmental Associates of Durham. Steve Straus, president of the firm, has been speaking with members of the police department’s command staff, community representatives and citizen groups. “We’ll recruit for 30 days, followed by two screenings,” he said. Straus says he expects at least 50 police executives to apply. His firm will narrow the field to 15 who will be thoroughly vetted and referred to City Manager Doug Hewett. He will likely narrow the field to two or three before holding community meetings for introductions. Straus says he hopes to refer his recommendations to Hewett by mid-May. Medlock retired the end of last year after spending three-and-a-half years as chief.

    Haymount Grill Boarded Up
    It’s been 10 months since the Haymount Grill & Steak House was destroyed by fire. The cause of the blaze remains unknown and the Skentaris family, which owns the restaurant, has not indicated whether they will rebuild. Meanwhile, it has not gone unnoticed by the city that the owners have failed to board up the property according to code. “Code enforcement is aware of the violation,” said City of Fayetteville spokesman Nathan Walls. “When you board up a building, by Chapter 14, the boards are supposed to match the color of the building and fit in place,” he said “Some boards don’t match the color of the building, and some don’t fit in place,”

    Bridge to Replace Hurricane Damage
    The North Carolina Department of Transportation is replacing a local underground highway culvert destroyed during the recent hurricane with a bridge. The culvert was on Bingham Road near North Carolina 162. Sanford Contractors, Inc. was awarded what’s called a $1 million express design-build contract. The express design-build method allows for faster construction and earlier completion by combining the work into one contract. DOT says the project should be wrapped up by Aug. 8. This is one of eight road and bridge projects approved by the State Board of Transportation this month, totaling $73.2 million.

    A New Fayetteville Business Co-op
    Sustainable Sandhills is delighted to be one of the founding private office members of Revolutionary Coworking, a collaborative workspace that acts as an incubator for the business community. The organization has relocated to the sixth floor of the Self Help building at 100 Hay Street in Downtown Fayetteville. It’s designed to encompass small and startup businesses, independent professionals and students. Revolutionary Coworking fosters a green business environment that promotes education, innovation and collaboration. A ribbon-cutting presented by the Downtown Alliance was held Feb. 23 and was followed by a tour of the shared workspace. For more information about Revolutionary Coworking, visit www.revolutionarycoworking.com.

    New V.A. Secretary
    The Senate has confirmed Dr. David Shulkin as the new Veterans Affairs Secretary, making him the first non-veteran ever to serve in the post. Shulkin currently serves as the head of VA health programs. He was approved by a remarkable vote of 100-0. The 57-year-old physician was praised by lawmakers from both parties and veterans advocates as a leader with inside knowledge of ways to reform the agency. Shulkin is the only member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to be held over from former President Obama’s administration. His parents both served in the Army. He has repeatedly promised not to “privatize” VA services and told lawmakers he would not have accepted Trump’s nomination if it came with such a requirement.

     

  •  

    05 Medieval CareAs Roy Rogers almost sang, “ Unhappy Trails to ObamaCare.” ObamaCare has been on life support since the election. Soon, The Donald will pull the plug and bury ObamaCare somewhere under the rainbow. The White House recently leaked a draft to repeal and replace ObamaCare with Trump’s own health insurance plan. The Donald, being the extremely modest person he is, resisted entreaties to name his plan TrumpCare. He has opted to name his new insurance program “MedievalCare.”

    MedievalCare will replace Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. MedievalCare’s mission statement is “Make America Ache Again.” The government’s expenditures on medical care for Americans who are foolish or greedy enough to get sick will be almost wiped out under MedievalCare. There will be no payment for physicians or hospitals because MedievalCare will only provide medical treatment developed during Europe’s Dark Ages. Folk healers are coming back, baby. It’s going to be beautiful, believe me. Social Security retirement benefits will be abolished. No one will live long enough to reach retirement age after depending on Medieval medicine to cure what ails them. The death of potential Social Security recipients before they reach retirement age will save literally billions of dollars, thus, allowing more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

    The better to keep you from retirement age, the Department of Health and Human Services is bringing back the great diseases of the Middle Ages: Black Plague, Dropsy, Saint Vitus Dance and Quinsy. Current medical science is actually a very fake science pushed by the dishonest media on an unsuspecting American public. Science will be replaced by the tried-and-true medical beliefs of the Middle Ages. Medicine will be based on the use of the four humors: air, water, fire and earth represented by blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile to diagnose and treat all medical impairments. Medieval physicians believed that too much or too little of any of the four humors caused illness. Too much blood was really bad. Medieval doctors were huge on blood letting either by leeches or venesection. Venesection was a charming practice where the doctor would open a vein and let the patient’s illness bleed away until the patient was a quart low. Venesection ultimately did in George Washington. Oops.

    All MedievalCare cures we can look forward to receiving are going to be very, very, beautiful. Ague? Swallow a spider wrapped in a raisin. Skin rash? Cover it with the skin of a wolf soaked in urine. Black Plague ? Drink a cup of crushed emeralds, lance the plague boils, make a poultice of butter, dried toad, tobacco, arsenic and bathe in urine. Fainting spells? Breathe the smoke from burning feathers. Sinus congestion? Stuff garlic and onions up your nose. Gout? Put a plaster of goat droppings mixed with Rosemary and Thyme on the aching foot. Internal bleeding? Wear a dried toad in an amulet around your neck. Toothache? Burn a candle close to the painful tooth. The worms gnawing in the tooth will overheat and drop out into a cup of water held by your mouth. Joint pain? Pluck an owl, clean it. Put the owl in a pot with a stone on top. Place the pot in an oven until the owl is burnt. Pound the burned owl with bear grease and put the poultice over the joint.

    Can’t sleep? Eat a bowl of nettles mixed with egg whites. Got Quinsy? Flay a fat cat, clean it, pull out its guts, take grease from a hedgehog and bear fat mixed with sage, honeysuckle and venison fat and stuff the cat. Roast the cat collecting the grease that drips out. Anoint the patient with the grease. Sore throat will be gone. Need a neurosurgeon? Got you covered. MedievalCare will bring back trepanning by barbers which involves drilling a series of small holes in the patient’s skull to expose the Dura Mater which is the outer membrane of the brain. This cures migraines and mental disorders, plus you get a hair cut.
    Folk Healers will be taught to pick herbs and medicinal flowers at sunrise while facing south. The softly spoken magic healing spells will be retaught to an army of Folk Healers by specially trained Republican Congresspersons. Patients will be supplied amulets made of tanis root, senna and mint to avoid evil spells and sickness. Your kid is sick? Cut woodbine on a waxing moon. Make it into a hoop. Have the ill child jump through the hoop three times. Bingo! Healthy kid again.
    MedievalCare will save millions by closing unneeded medical schools. Send doctors to re-education camps in the basements of empty Walmarts to retrain as grave diggers in case some of MedievalCare’s cures don’t work out so well. Naturally, members of Congress and White House staff will keep their own medical insurance. For the rest of us, implementation of MedievalCare makes financial sense in a bigly way for the one percenters.

     

     

  •  

    06 History CenterHow do you turn a $15 million local government investment into a $65 million community asset?
    Well, you get someone who realizes we are a low-wealth community with a scarcity of tax dollars. Then you give him the job of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
    That’s exactly what the Fayetteville City Council and Cumberland County Commissioners agreed to do. They unanimously pledged $7.5 million each toward the creation of the North Carolina Civil War History Center here in Fayetteville.
    It’s not just a museum, says Mac Healy, president of the Civil War History Center’s board of directors. “It’s not just a battle story.” Instead, Healy said the center tells the story of how the Civil War and its immediate aftermath affected people’s lives. Healy made his remarks before the Cumberland County Citizens United February meeting.

    Not a fan of taxes, Healy said he came to the project intrigued by the economic development opportunity. “Once built, we toss the keys to the state and we don’t pay another dime.”

    The board of directors supporting this effort created a nonprofit organization. That allows them raise money to build the center. Healy acknowledged Cumberland County is a low-wealth community. Even so, before coming before local government for tax dollars, Healy and company made sure they had at least $5000 in private donations. The private fundraising effort continues.
    Supporters expect the center to draw at least 120,000 visitors to Fayetteville every year. And, with the Airborne & Special Operations Museum and the Botanical Garden nearby, those visitors could stay longer; maybe even spend money on local fried chicken and lodging.
    The county’s state legislative delegation also is on board, Healy said. “We started talking to the delegation four years ago.”
    The Board hired a Raleigh lobbying firm to work on other state legislators. “We need to convince someone in Asheville to fork over money for a project in Fayetteville,” Healy said.

    The state recently touted a $500 million in excess funds. Maybe with that kind of surplus, legislators wouldn’t mind putting the project into the state budget. That way, the state could allocate a little more than half of the total $65 million price tag over several years.
    The cost breakdown for building the center on the grounds of the current Museum of the Cape Fear goes like this: Main Building (60,000 square feet) $24.8 million; Campus Development $10 million; Exhibits $11.8 million; Statewide Digital Outreach $2.8 million; Soft Costs $8.7 million; Four-year Operating Cost $1.9 million; Operating Endowment $5 million

    The economic development part of this endeavor is great. How can you not like bringing 120,000 people with money in their pockets into Fayetteville every year? And how can you not support employing 200 people?

    But also important is the Civil War History Center’s ability to enlighten us in great detail about the state and national impact brought on by a Civil War that claimed the lives of almost a million Americans. I have to mention that many from the North were recent immigrants.
    The proposed North Carolina Civil War History Center will be like no other. It will serve as the state’s and the nation’s premiere Civil War era history resource. Digital technology will extend its reach throughout the state. The technology also will allow visitors to interact with the learning center.
    Finally, this. The History Center plans to collect 100 stories about the Civil War from each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. In the end, the History Center hopes to have 10,000 stories about North Carolina people involved in the Civil War. These are stories handed down through the generations. They are stories sequestered in the archives of churches, or documented in the Bibles of families whose roots run deep in the Old North State.

    If you have such a story about the Antebellum era, the Civil War or during the Reconstruction years following the war, contact www.nccivilwarcenter.org/share-a-story. If the story makes the grade, you get a free membership.

     

  • 04 VeteransOur men and women in uniform have sacrificed dearly to pay freedom’s price and ensure our way of life. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who serve our country are emblematic of bravery, courage and the American spirit.

    Suzanne and I join with millions of hardworking Americans in expressing our sincere thanks to active-duty military, veterans and their families. North Carolina is home to almost 800,000 veterans, many of whom live here in our community.

    One of my greatest privileges in serving as a United States Congressman is serving our veterans and working to ensure access to the benefits they were promised and deserve. As part of that commitment, one of my very first moves when elected to Congress was to hire the most experienced veterans specialist available, who on average is assisting 500 local veterans navigate red tape at the VA.

    Unfortunately, brave veterans and my team too often have to fight through a bureaucratic maze involving dozens of forms, requests, waivers and frustration. To simplify the process, this week I helped pass the bipartisan WINGMAN Act (H.R. 512), which I’ve supported since it was originally introduced in 2016.
    This legislation would allow a veteran who files a claim for benefits to permit a certified Congressional staff member to have read-only access to the veteran’s files at the VA. Certified Congressional staff members already have permission to possess these files, but this bill eliminates the bureaucratic step of using the VA as a middle-man and makes it easier for my staff to assist veterans with their requests.

    This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two additional bills to encourage job creation for veterans. The HIRE Vets Medallion Program Act (H.R. 244), which I helped pass with overwhelming bipartisan support, will establish a HIRE Vets Medallion Program to properly recognize those who recruit, employ and train veterans, as well as provide community and charitable services supporting the veteran community.

    The Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment Act (BRAVE Act - H.R. 974), which also passed with bipartisan support, will allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to give preference to organizations which employ veterans on a full-time basis when awarding government contracts. Any organization caught misrepresenting the number of veterans they employ would be forbidden from contracting with the VA for at least five years.

    These three bills won’t solve all of the problems at the VA, which for too long has suffered from a lack of accountability. Nor will they solve every issue veterans face when reentering the workforce. However, these bills do represent progress. There is much more work to do, and as your Member of Congress, I am committed to continue fighting for better outcomes for our veterans. If you are a local veteran who needs assistance with red tape or other problems at the VA, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 704-362-1060. We would be honored to serve you.

    Do You Want Your Voice heard?
    As your Representative in Washington, I work hard to hear from as many constituents as possible. You are always welcome to e-mail me at nc09constituents@mail.house.gov. My team and I receive, read, and respond to hundreds of e-mails and letters each week, so you can be sure your voice will be heard.

    Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) is Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, and serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks, and credit unions.

     

  • 03 TeachersFor years, I have heard how bad our schools are. Like each of you, I have heard that our hard-earned taxes go to an educational system that is set up to fail. Yet certain facts nag at me, so I continue to ask … Why are we 44th in teacher pay? Why are we 50th in principal pay? Why are we last in-per pupil funding? And, why are we third in our teachers having to work two jobs?

    Those glaring stats demand honesty. When do we ask, “Are our schools failing us, or are we failing our schools?” The answer is obvious, but I wanted to confirm it for myself. So I went to all the schools in my district. First, I found them to be very clean and very safe. I was impressed with the principals and their staffs. These principals were doing everything possible to advocate for their teachers and for technology needs so they could prepare our children for their futures. I found teachers who desperately needed raises but, only asked for assistance in purchasing books and computers for their (our) children.
    It is time we ask ourselves these questions:

    (1) How do we expect our schools to be in the top 10 when we are last in investing in them?
    (2) If we have the money to fully invest in our schools why then do we not do so?
    (3) What are other North Carolina counties that are excelling in education and paying their teachers? And how much money are they investing in their schools?

    Does not a lot of a little add up to still be a lot? Why do we ask so little of ourselves and expect so much from our schools? We need to “wake-up and smell the coffee.” In North Carolina, the coffee is burning. Should we not reinvest and fill the educational coffee pot back up?

     

  • 02 margaretdicksonLike millions of Americans and bumfuzzled people around the world, I have been focused on our new president and the build-out of his administration. Never in my lifetime have we experienced anything quite like it, and it is difficult not to be riveted to the news, no matter what one’s partisan political leanings may be. Every day is new and different and sometimes alarming.
    That being said, the world is still turning, and news is happening outside Washington, D.C. and Palm Beach, Florida.
    Some of that news is truly weird.

    The world learned last month of the murder of a man identified as North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un’s half-brother at a Malaysian airport. News reports were murky at best but implied that a man — maybe the half brother and maybe not — was showered with some sort of poison, perhaps poison darts. Then the story veered from strange to bizarre when The Guardian reported that one of two women suspected in the attack thought she was participating in a comedy “prank” show. The 25-year-old Indonesian woman was paid to convince men to close their eyes, and then she and the other suspect sprayed them with a water gun. It is not clear how a lethal substance got into the water gun, but the woman and a man are under arrest in connection with the murder by poison, or whatever.
    Meanwhile, the other woman is nowhere to be found, after moving hotels and borrowing scissors from a front desk clerk, apparently to cut her hair, which was found by hotel housekeeping. The Guardian also reports that North Korea is demanding the return of the man’s body, citing his supposed nationality, but Malaysian authorities are holding on to it until they determine the man’s actual identity and cause of death.
    How weird is that?

    It is not, however, the only weird news so far in 2017. The Huffington Post chronicles such stories, some of them falling into the “don’t try this at home” category. Here are a few samples.A hair-freezing contest in Canada’s Yukon province, where the outdoor temperature rarely reaches 25 degrees Fahrenheit, offers a $700 cash prize for the best-frozen hair photo. And how exactly do contestants freeze their hair for a winning pic? That area of the Yukon is blessed with many hot springs, so contestants jump into pools fed by the warm water, wet their hair, pop up until their hair begins to freeze, and then coax it into the desired style. 

    Other stories include a 39-year-old Mexican attorney who was born without arms setting a new Guinness World Record. The woman lit 11 candles in 60 seconds with her feet, breaking the previous record of 7 candles. She also writes, cooks, talks on the phone and does her hair and makeup with her feet.
    Someone — it is hard to imagine who — has purchased Adolf Hitler’s personal travel telephone for $243,000. A photograph of the phone shows a battered red device, old style, of course, engraved with the Fuhrer’s name and a swastika. In addition, someone else purchased for a mere $24,300 a porcelain dog, said to have been made by slave labor at Dachau concentration camp. A Maryland auction house sold the items. Sales of such items are banned in many European countries, including France, Germany, Austria and Hungary, and prominent auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s do not sell Nazi artifacts.
    From the stupid criminal department comes this doozey. A Michigan woman faces jail time after she bragged about beating a random Breathalyzer test on Facebook of all places. Apparently, it had not occurred to the 22-year-old woman, already on probation for a DWI conviction that her friends are not the only people on Facebook. Law enforcement officers scroll it, too.


    Then there is a former sculptor for Disney who is trying to crowd fund production of a 4-inch, anatomically correct troll doll of Donald J. Trump, complete with flowing yellow tresses and a cellphone in his hand. We will go no further on that one.
    Finally, much closer to home, residents of Calabash, that fried seafood heaven on North Carolina’s southern coast, are intrigued by sightings of “Donny,” an orange alligator. Apparently, Donny is not the only one. Another orange gator has been spotted in Hanahan, South Carolina. Wildlife officers in our neighboring state say not to worry. The odd color may come from where the crawling critters spent the winter — perhaps in a rusty pipe. Since alligators eventually shed their skin, these two guys will likely be green again at some point.
    You really cannot make up this stuff.

  • ShoplocalI intercepted a memo dispatched by the National Association of Counties to all their members nationwide announcing a new and exciting contract they just negotiated with online services giant Amazon Business. The memo was received here in Cumberland County, and that is why the topic really hit home with me. Actually, it almost took my breath away. The tone of the memo was almost giddy in declaring that NACo members (including our Cumberland County officials) could now do business online and make purchases at great discounts through the Amazon Business network.


    Yes. Now local county purchasing agents don’t have to worry about those pesky local businesses in their prospective counties. You know, the people who invested their life savings in “brick and mortar” businesses, the ones who contribute to local charities, cultural venues and political campaigns, who pay county taxes and employ local residents. Yes, those businesses. I may be a little hyper-sensitive about the issue since I am a small privately-owned business, and I have always emphatically endorsed and promoted locally-owed businesses. Shopping local is vitally important now more than ever. After all, here in Fayetteville we just approved a $35 million dollar Parks & Rec bond, and funded a $33 million dollar baseball stadium. and we have just launched one of the most significant movements in decades, Vision 2026. Vision 2026 specifically to encourage local participation and leadership to grow our economic base, attract business and industry and enhance our amenities, creating a better community and quality of life. All of this takes money. Where does the money come from? Taxes. So it is ludicrous and somewhat hypocritical for any government or local agency, including the Chamber of Commerce, to be doing business outside our community when similar and comparable goods and services are available here within our county borders.


    Again, many “talk the talk” about wanting to support local businesses and building the economy in our community. But it is mostly talk. Sure, chain stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Office Max have a local presence in the community and provide jobs and pay taxes. But are they members of the Chamber of Commerce? Do they use local banks, local attorneys or local accountants? Do they support little league baseball, belong to a Kiwanis Club or ever buy Fayetteville Symphony tickets? The answer is emphatically, no.


    In the long run, I doubt if the savings in dollars is all that great. But, here is something I do know: the city, county and Chamber of Commerce should be aware of this sensitivity. We ask much of our citizens, and those who own businesses only ask that they be given fair consideration. Most of the angst and frustration does not come from them not getting the business from these agencies. It comes from not even being an option. Local businesses should always have an advantage over out of county agencies. If there are agencies or businesses in Fayetteville and Cumberland County providing goods and services that are needed locally then they should be acquired locally. We live in a very generous community. The value of saving nickels and dimes vanishes quickly when losing quarters and dollars. Not supporting local business has oh-so many unintended consequences, yet, so many advantages and proven benefits.
    Online shopping is not going away. All a private business can ask is that before each click of the mouse you ask yourself this: What is this company doing for my family, my community and my quality of life?


    Thanks for listening to my rant and for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • “Oh, the places you’ll go!” Dr. Seuss


    Literacy is vital. We want our future youth to be excited about reading and develop a routine to read every day, and that is why Kameo Events NC presents Dr. Seuss’ Inaugural Birthday Parade and Family Fun Day Saturday, March 4, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Main Street in Spring Lake. North Carolina’s first lady, Kristin Cooper is the Grand Marshall of the parade. dr seuss clipart original 587343 1

    “We first started talking about the idea of a parade in 2015. In 2016, right before Thanksgiving, the Town of Spring Lake gave their blessing to host the parade. We have been full speed ahead since,” said Kristy Sykes, owner of Kameo Events. “A few years back I worked with Cumberland County Association of Educators on a Read Across America event that was held at the former Holiday Inn Bordeaux, and that was a great event.” Sykes added that she kept thinking about what could be done to keep encouraging local youth in learning the fundamentals of reading and continue to make it fun for them. 

    The National Education Association’s “Read Across America” is a nationwide annual reading awareness program that aims for every child to celebrate reading on March 2. Various events will be held across the country and students everywhere will participate in activities that promote and encourage reading.


    The parade step off will be at 9 a.m. at the Bragg Boulevard Bridge. The route will continue to Spring Lake down Main Street and end on Ruth Street. “This will be the first parade of its kind in the area and the first parade in Spring Lake,” said Sykes. “It will conclude with a family fun day of activities at the Spring Lake Recreation Center.” Sykes added that parade participants are asked to have a Dr. Seuss theme, but they have the option of not doing so.


    The day will feature food, fun and vendors. Activities include bounce houses by Mega Play, mascot appearances, author Dr. Elondra Napper, Crafty Parties, the Cumberland County Public Library, Fascinate-U Children’s Museum, Book Your Next Adventure, Steps to the Future, Jungle Gym Playground and more. Various vendors such as Pink Zebra, It Works, Park Lane, LuLaRoe, Usborne Books, The Produce Box, The Renaissance Day Spa and more will be there with information and items to sell. The food entails pizza by Fazoli’s, Green Eyez Street Foods, Dusty Donuts and more.


    “I would like to thank our sponsors for their support of this inaugural event,” said Sykes. “We look forward to seeing everyone on March 4.”


    Parade entries will be accepted until February 24. For more information about parade entries, sponsors or vendors email kameoeventsnc@gmail.com or call 797-9568.

  • RWRon White knew he was funny; he just wasn’t expecting to make a living at it. It was 1986, and a comedy club had just opened down the street from where he worked. “My friend went to open mic night and came back and said, ‘You are funnier than these guys. You’ve got to get onstage,’” said White. And he did. It just so happened Jeff Foxworthy was headlining that week. “He saw me perform and he came up to me and said, ‘You are funny, but you need to put the punchline at the end of the joke.’ That is just how generous he is. He didn’t know me, but he still gave me good advice” said White, who took Foxworthy’s words to heart and got serious about what it takes toto deliver a joke. Later, White toured with Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable guy on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. According to White it was an act of kindness on Foxworthy’s part. Now, White is an actor, an author and owner of a tequila company, but his favorite job by far is still making people laugh. He’ll be onstage at the Crown March 4. For an entire evening of fun. Anstead’s Tobacco will make a night of it with a pre-show party, the live Ron White performance and an after-party. The Pre-Show Party runs from 5-6:30 p.m. and includes drink specials, door prizes and more. The after-party starts at 9 p.m. and runs until midnight.


    Even though he’s been at it for three decades, White says it’s not too hard to find things to laugh about. “Sometimes, it just falls in your lap. Other times you have to go out and find it … then you have to get onstage,” he said. “Get in front of as many crowds as you can and start developing it.” And that’s not too hard for him to do, either — at least when he isn’t touring. When he is home in L.A., it’s not unusual for White to perform three shows a night several nights a week. It keeps him sharp, and it’s what he loves. “Well, if you are going to be a painter, you’d better paint. I am a better comedian when I am a comedian every day,” he said. “Besides, my wife will tell you I am way less grouchy when I am doing stand up.”

    As a comic, connecting with an audience can be the deciding factor in whether a night is a success. North to South and from Europe to Canada, White finds that people have more in common than you might expect. “Most people think you would have to fine tune your act, but I talk about the human condition,” said White. “And that doesn’t vary. We aren’t all that different. We all have to get up and do things we don’t want to do. We all have to feed ourselves and often other people, too. We face the same issues every day no matter where we live. We just aren’t that different.”

    At 60 years old, White jokes that his brain is a combination of a lazy Susan and a colander — always spinning and leaky, but he has no intention of stopping any time soon.


    “I am a comedian. As long as people stay interested in what I have to say, I will keep doing this. It has been a wonderful run. I love my fans, and I will work hard for them if they keep showing up.”

    Tickets to Anstead’s Ron White Night cost $69 and include the preshow party at Ansteads, the Ron White show at the Crown and the after-party at Anstead’s. Call (910) 391-3859 for more information about this event. To purchase ticket to just the Ron White show at the Crown, visit http://www.crowncomplexnc.com/events/detail/ron-white.

  • 5k warriorHis Bread of Life Food Bank presents Fayetteville’s Inaugural American Warrior 5K Walk & Run Saturday, March 4, at 9:30 a.m. at Festival Park.


    “The purpose of this walk and run is to raise awareness and funds for His Bread of Life Food Bank which is a division of His Outreach Worldwide,” said Lynne O’Quinn, president of His Outreach Worldwide. “We feed many in the community every week, so we are just trying to let people know we are there and try to bring in funds to continue feeding many people every week.” O’Quinn added that the reason the race is named the American Warrior is that the organization is trying to fight hunger.

    The 5K walk and run is a certified and competitive race. “We have a new route because the older route that we originally were going to use got washed out by

    Hurricane Matthew,” said O’Quinn. “This will be a route that no one has done before.” Awards will be presented to the first, second and third place runner in these divisions: ages 12 & under, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70+. Overall awards will be given for first, second and third place. 

     

    The mother ministry, His Outreach Worldwide, is a worldwide ministry in 122 countries.

    His Bread of Life is one of their seven umbrella divisions. It is a non-profit Christian-based food bank serving children and families in Fayetteville who need food assistance. They give out food on a weekly basis and serve 30-40 households each week. The gospel message is provided to each family or individual who receives food from the food bank in hopes of spreading the message of Jesus Christ.

    “It has its own building at 204 S. Reilly Road, and that is where everyone comes to get their food,” said O’Quinn. “We are different and unique in the way that we let the families come in and do their own shopping.” O’Quinn added that individuals can get a certain number of canned goods, meats, soups, cereal and other food items. They get to choose their items because the food bank does not want any food wasted. Anyone can come to the food bank. The organization will never turn anyone away.

    Checks can be made out to His Bread of Life. Monetary and canned good donations are appreciated.

    Registration begins at 8 a.m. Pre-registration is $25, the day of registration is $30 and $20 for the military.

    Come dressed in red, white and blue. T-shirts are guaranteed and included in registration fees placed before February 17. For more information call 864-3991.

  • whitehall 2In 1901, Mr. and Mrs. Jessie Coogan purchased a mansion in the very exclusive section of Newport, Rhode Island. They paid $200,000 (equal to about $2,000,000 today) for the gorgeous mansion called Whitehall. The wife, Harriet Gardener Lynch before her marriage, was from a prominent and wealthy New York Family. She married James Coogan, a Bowery merchant and local politician. As a result of these unimpressive credentials, the family was considered a brash upstart when they moved into the elegant neighborhood.

    After 10 years, the Coogans felt they had “paid their dues” and should be considered a respectable member of the community. So, on June 16, 1910, they gave a lavish coming-out party for their daughter Jessie.

    Newport’s finest shops fitted them fabulously for the occasion. The orchestra tuned their strings and waiters were stationed everywhere to serve the movers and shakers who had all been invited.

    The doors were opened at 7 p.m. By 8 p.m., no one had arrived. Nine, 10 and 11. They waited till midnight — until it became apparent that no one was going to show. The enraged mother was so angry that the entire family moved from Whitehall and determined to “get even.” For 35 years, all that happened to Whitehall was that the taxes were paid.

    The once-elegant estate became a crumbling, devastated house. Finally, it was the town eyesore — the sweet revenge for the humiliation and rejection she had experienced. Eventually, in 1945, her son, moved by the pleas of the Newport residents, prevailed upon his mother to have the house razed.

    Meanwhile, Mrs. Coogan retreated from the world after her husband’s death in 1915. Few of her 15 grandchildren ever saw her. She lived in the Biltmore Hotel until her death in 1947 at the age of 86.

    The one dominating emotion that controlled her life was bitterness. Can you imagine how many thousands of times she replayed the coming-out party in her mind to recreate the rejection and to stoke the fires of bitterness? Then when her anger was white-hot, she would deny the pleas of Newport’s citizens to raze the mansion. Since the house was torn down only two years before her death, it almost appears her only motive for living was to exact revenge — and when she gave up her instrument of revenge, she died.

    Think of the price she paid to get even. All the years of enjoyable family relationships. All the friends she could have made. All the people she could have helped.

    The traveling she could have done. The life she could have experienced.

    Bitterness controls, destroys, consumes, and impoverishes—not the object but the subject himself. When we are bitter we are the loser.

    He left you for a younger lady with less weight and wrinkles — and how many times have you replayed the “tape” in which you get even? Or your business partner cheated you out of your part of the business. Or your sibling got your part of the inheritance. “Because of my race, I didn’t get the job.” “The doctor made a mistake and I’m paralyzed for life from the waist down.” The list is endless.

    It is for this reason the scripture wisely admonishes us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31 NASB)

    Now think hard about this. Forgiveness frees me while anger and bitterness bind me and control me. My enemy imprisons me as long as I hate and revile him.

    The instant I forgive, the door opens and I am free from my prison! Free to love. At last, free to live! When I am unshackled from the bitterness that binds me and controls me, I am overwhelmed with the freedom to enjoy all that life once again offers. Is not the man or woman wise who holds no grudges, and nurses no petty grievances, harbors no “get even” agenda?

    “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” (Galations 5:1 NASB)

  • bridgeWhen I was in law school in Buies Creek, I lived in an apartment complex on Marshbanks Street, just off Highway 421. Next to the complex on Marshbanks was a small, concrete and stone bridge that covered a creek running toward the Cape Fear. Wood-ducks would roost in the creek at dusk, and copperheads and a pet turtle emerged on occasion. I snuck down there out of boredom one afternoon, needing an escape from my laptop and case books. While crossing the bridge, I noticed a concrete plaque on its face. Looking like a tombstone, it reads:


    NEILLS CREEK BRIDGE
    HARNETT COUNTY
    STATE PROJECT NO. 437
    BUILT BY NORTH CAROLINA
    STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION
    1923


    I remember being impressed by it. The thought occurred to me that the men who built this bridge were proud of it despite its size, and they marked their work. I later learned that the State Highway Commission was the pre-cursor to the N.C. Department of Transportation and that this bridge was likely funded under the Highway Act of 1921, which was spearheaded by Governor Cameron Morrison, a champion of roads and infrastructure and the namesake of my wife’s dorm at UNC-Chapel Hill.

    I intended to write this article about the legal issues surrounding the roads, bridges and dams that were washed out in Hurricane Matthew, but I quickly became bogged down. There is not much that citizens of this area can do to force the city council, our legislators or F.E.M.A. to fix these problems. There is no legal mechanism to compel the government to repair its own damaged property, and we can’t make our leaders save money in rainy day funds for the next storm that is sure to come.

    We are a government of the people, and as such, we are ultimately responsible for our leaders’ failures and shortcomings in this regard. Their policies and decisions reflect the values of their constituents. They pinch pennies and cut corners in the name of lower taxes and limited government, which we all seem to favor until our neighborhood needs something. When the old bridge washes away, we’re forced to deal with this reality.

    I try not to present a problem without suggesting a solution, and it is this: elect leaders who believe that sound, quality investments in public infrastructure are worth their weight in gold. Leaders in our past understood this. Their wisdom is on display on the side of a country road in Buies Creek. The bridge is still standing.

  • The new Fayetteville Area System of Transit bus terminal will come online under budget this spring. City officials say that, despite numerous delays, the transit center is more than $500,000 under budget. The City of Fayetteville was awarded a Federal Transit Administration grant of $8 million in 2012. At that time, the facility was a concept that had been in development for over six years. The project was selected by the federal government on a competitive basis and was the largest FTA grant of its kind ever awarded in the state of North Carolina. It represents 80 percent of the cost to build the basic transit portions of the facility.


    Transit Ctr ConstructionA local firm, Construction Systems, Inc., was the low bidder and was awarded the building contract in August of 2014. The total cost of construction was set at $12,150,000. City council increased the budget to $12,441,000 to cover unforeseen costs of soil remediation and removal, said Transit Director Randy Hume. The site at West Russell and Robeson Streets was the former location of a commercial laundry, and toxic cleansers had saturated the ground over time. In addition to the federal grant, the State of North Carolina initially contributed more than $1 million in matching funds, and has added to it since then. The city’s current share of the project is $1,486,325. That’s more than half a million dollars less than the $2,003,750 originally committed by city council.


    The current total budget for the project is $12,654,125. The contract with CSI, with change orders, is $11,891,751. The city has additional commitments related to construction management, inspections and testing totaling $441,000. Also, Hume says, FAST expects some additional costs related to bus bay signs, technology components and public art of $270,000. That brings the total cost to $12,602,751, which is under budget.

    Unforeseen delays in construction have not resulted in added costs from the contractor. “Based on our contract, we will have substantial claims against CSI for liquidated damages,” Hume stated. “Liquidated damages are a contractual agreement … when damage occurs,” said Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer. “We have contractually agreed that the loss is $1,000 per day,” he added. FAST applied for and received federal grants to cover 80 percent of the added costs. And, NCDOT provided $213,125 of additional grant funds which were set aside as a contingency.

    “I am not expecting any significant cost overruns from CSI,” Hume stated. “We will have added costs related to construction administration and management because of the delays in completing the project. We have enough contingency in the budget to handle these.”

    The city makes “progress payments” to the contractor as construction proceeds. Payments are based on the work completed as certified by the project architect, according to Bauer. The construction contract has a provision whereby the city holds out about 5 percent of each payment to ensure all the work is completed, Bauer added. He pointed out that this project experienced three different challenges along the way. The first was the unexpected requirement to remove contaminated soils. The second was a series of permitting and design issues, some of it relating to relocation of previously permitted utilities. The third issue was with a subcontractor who was unable to deliver and assemble steel for bus bays. That subcontractor had to be replaced. The soil was addressed early. The other two issues have had spillover effects described as far more complex. “At each stage, however, the City has timely inspected work, provided effective notice and held the appropriate party accountable,” noted the deputy manager. Completion date for the transit center originally was June 17, 2016. “A six- to eight-week preparation period is needed following completion before our opening,” said Hume. Had the general contractor met the contract date, the center would have opened in late August 2016. Hume says the new date for operations to begin is this May.

  • Patricia Gonzales“Every day we are working with our members to capitalize on opportunities to prosper and grow. It is only through our collective efforts that we can truly strengthen our economy. ”These are the words of Patricia Gonzalez, the Greater Fayetteville Chamber’s new director of membership services. Patricia is no newcomer to Fayetteville. She’s lived here for 15 years and is the wife of a retired Air Force officer who’s now working for the N.C. Department of Public Safety.
    Gonzalez is a native of Petaluma, California, and a graduate of Cal Poly State University in northern California with a degree in business. She withstood what she called a rigorous, in-depth interview process before being chosen for her new post. She’s looking forward to working with a new Chamber President and CEO, a position that has been vacant for 10 months. Interim CEO Darsweil Rogers notes in this edition’s News Digest that the chamber hopes to fill the vacancy about the end of the month.


    Gonzalez has been on the job a little over a month and is anxious to get to know the chamber’s members. She regards her duty as one of service to the membership of 800 businesses and military units. She hopes her interpersonal skills will allow her to increase the chamber membership to 1,000 in two years. She’s in “the process of creating processes,” of building the chamber’s rolls, she says. “We’re here to champion Greater Fayetteville’s businesses.” First, comes shoring up existing members by providing them with the expertise and support vital to their economic success. Gonzalez believes the chamber is an essential element of the community’s efforts to expand economic development, noting that small business is the community’s underlying foundation.


    Gonzalez tells of lessons learned from reading a book several years ago on how to clean house. Typically, she says, one begins by straightening up one bedroom at a time. The mistake you can make is to come across an item that belongs in another room and taking it there. Then you turn attention to that room and overlook the one where you started. Completing the task at hand is the lesson learned, which is the key to concentrating on the needs of one business at a time. Gonzalez is a perpetual note taker, insisting that good notes are so important. Clearly written, accurate notes help to capture information for later study and review. She’s “already filled up four notepads,” she says. Asked how she keeps up, she said: “You just do it!”


    The things Gonzalez says makes her job most enjoyable are the longtime members who’ve supported the chamber and the community. She cites Bryan Honda’s unique position as the Greater Fayetteville Chamber’s oldest and most dedicated member having first joined in December 1954. In her introductory message in last week’s edition of Up & Coming Weekly Gonzalez wrote: “Through collaborative efforts, we’re able to provide valuable networking opportunities, advocate for the business community with government and work with our current business leaders while preparing our next generation of leaders.”

  • Bobby HurstFifth District City Councilman Bobby Hurst is considering not seeking re-election in the fall. Councilman Ted Mohn, who represents the 8th District, said earlier that he will not run. Hurst said, “My new job with Senator Meredith and Cardinal Landscaping and Fayetteville Beautiful are priorities that take a lot of my time.” Hurst became an aide to Meredith after closing his family business recently. “Perhaps it is time to let someone else serve this great city,” Hurst added. He has been on council since 2007 and before that from 2000–2001. Mohn has served four terms, the last two of which came following a two-year interruption after he chose not to run.

    Hurricane Matthew Costs
    City of Fayetteville taxpayers may end up picking up part of the tab for costs associated with Hurricane Matthew last fall. Budget Director Tracey Broyles has told city council the Federal Emergency Management Agency will likely reimburse the city much of the $9.6 million in damages or recovery costs the city has incurred. FEMA will send the city $6.9 million; the state will reimburse the city $2.3 million and insurance will cover $150,000 in costs. After $225,000 has been taken from city reserves or fund balance, it will leave a projected $325,000 which may not be reimbursed, Broyles said. It too would likely come from this year’s fund balance, which is an unappropriated surplus the state requires local governments to maintain.

    Chamber Hunt for CEO Nears an End
    The Greater Fayetteville Chamber hopes to select a new President and CEO in a matter of days. “Three finalists among 20 candidates from across the country have been interviewed,” said Interim CEO Darsweil Rogers. None of them are from North Carolina, he added. Rogers has held down the post for 10 months. “It’s been a wonderful ride,” he said. Rogers says the most important thing he has learned in his chamber experience is the importance of communicating among members. He suggests it will be job one for the new CEO. “There’s a presumption the chamber is a good ole boy’s club,” he said. “There has been a gap, a misunderstanding” of what chambers do, Rogers added.

    Housing Rehab Contractors Needed
    Building contractors are encouraged to apply for Cumberland County’s approved Community Development registry. Contractors who reside in Cumberland County and want to be added to the registry should apply at the Cumberland County Community Development office at 707 Executive Place. Information is online at www.co.cumberland.nc.us/community_dev.aspx. Those jobs include single-family, owner-occupied homes and homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew. Homeowners must reside within Cumberland County but outside the city limits of Fayetteville which has its own community development program. Cumberland County has been awarded funds by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency through the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016. Funding is also provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • aclu logoIs this really compassion?


    Whether it is determining how America should address illegal immigration, the possibility of terrorists entering the country through legal means, suspected voter fraud, the plague of poverty, or a multitude of other challenges, there seems to be a recurring call for compassion. This emphasis on “compassion” is contributing to a dangerous divide in our nation.

    That divide is reflected in the protests we seem to see daily. This is especially true of those protests that seek to deny free speech to people who hold conservative views. This is far too frequently accompanied by violence and threatening speech. On the other side of this vocal outcry are those who remain quiet but grow more and more frustrated and disgusted by what they see in the outcry; the calls for compassion. I contend that in this tension between those who scream for compassion and those who question the legitimacy of those screams is the divide that is fed by the calls for compassion. For those pressing so fervently for compassion, the critical question regarding what they want becomes: “Is this really compassion?”

    Here is a definition of compassion from greatergood.berkeley.edu:
    “Compassion literally means ‘to suffer together.’ Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering."


    Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.”

    The phrase “relieve that suffering” is the key component of this definition. Compassion does not simply make people a bit more comfortable in their state of suffering. No, the aim is to help them be free of that suffering. In the account (John 8:1-11) of Jesus helping the woman caught in adultery, He did not simply save her from being stoned. Jesus challenges her accusers and, in the face of His question, the accusers leave. In verse 11, Jesus says to the woman, “Go and sin no more.” He did not leave her in a state where she might easily commit this act again. Instead, Jesus “helps” this woman by not only saving her from being stoned but by also showing her the way to avoiding similar suffering in the future. This is the look of compassion.

    With this definition of compassion, where helping relieve suffering is central and the compassion of Jesus as points of reference, consider a current issue where these points might be applicable. That issue is requiring that prescribed identification be presented by citizens in order to vote. Opposition to such legislation has been and is being, vehemently opposed in states across America. The primary reason given for opposition is that certain groups of citizens cannot obtain any one of the required forms of identification. Following are relevant quotes from a document posted by the American Civil Liberties Union titled, “Oppose Voter ID Legislation - Fact Sheet:”

    “Many Americans do not have one of the forms of identification states acceptable for voting. These voters are disproportionately low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Such voters more frequently have difficulty obtaining ID, because they cannot afford or cannot obtain the underlying documents that are a prerequisite to obtaining government-issued photo ID card.”
    “Minority voters disproportionately lack ID. Nationally, up to 25 percent of African-American citizens of voting age lack government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8 percent of whites.”

    “Underlying documents required to obtain ID cost money, a significant expense for lower-income Americans. The combined cost of document fees, travel expenses and waiting time are estimated to range from $75 to $175.”


    These quotes paint a picture of a person who cannot afford $75 to $175 to take the actions necessary to get the ID required to vote and is very likely a black citizen. The ACLU, NAACP, and many other organizations, along with individuals, respond to this situation by spending and causing what must be millions of dollars to be spent by defendants to stop enforcement of voter ID laws in various states. There is no doubt in my mind that every organization and individual involved in mounting these court cases, coupled with protests and tremendous media support, will argue that these are acts of compassion.

    Put these claimed acts of compassion to the test of the definition of compassion and the example of Jesus. If a person cannot spend $75 to $175 to get an ID required to vote, what might that indicate about the person’s overall life condition? Very likely, not being able to vote for lack of an ID card is among the least of his or her difficulties. Compassion would direct us to help that person move beyond the state of suffering that makes it impossible to get an ID card. However, this is not the response of those who fight with amazing energy to prevent implementation of voter ID requirements. What is described here does not pass the “compassion test.”

    The question then becomes why these people would claim compassion but not act in ways that really reflect compassion … help people move beyond their state of suffering? The answer is pretty obvious to me. If a person is struggling and suffering for whatever reason, it is not likely that he or she will make the investment of time and energy required to get informed regarding issues and facts on which voting decisions should be made. That situation leaves one open to be influenced by people he or she chooses to trust. Along come strong personalities who claim to have the best interest of these suffering masses as a top priority. Those strong personalities, in sound-bites, make a case, such as voter ID, being about preventing these suffering people from voting and it rings true. The result is feigned compassion that does nothing by way of freeing people from suffering, but smoothly ushers them into being controlled and manipulated while coming nowhere close to recognizing what is happening.

    What we need now is real compassion. For the most part, it must come from Americans who are quiet, but frustrated and disgusted with the havoc being perpetrated on our nation in the name of compassion. We must speak up and get involved publicly with efforts that help others move beyond their suffering while not punishing or penalizing those who are not among the suffering. Breaking free of quietness and taking a stand will be costly to those who choose this course. However, failing to do so will be far more costly.

  • margaretAs I write this, TV sports channels are all about the upcoming NBA All-Star game in not Charlotte, as originally scheduled, but New Orleans, which is thrilled to have it. New Orleans got the nod—and the money—after North Carolina passed and has failed to repeal the infamous HB 2, commonly called “the bathroom bill.” Eleven months ago, our General Assembly passed that discriminatory legislation, and it has been downhill ever since.
    Not a fan of professional basketball, I probably will not watch the game –much less attend, nor do I favor one team or the other. What I do care deeply about is that Louisiana, not North Carolina, is getting millions in hotel, restaurant, shopping, rental car and tax revenues, while North Carolina is getting nothing but bad press. Front and center on the All-Star Weekend website is this statement: “Due to the North Carolina Transgender bathroom law, the NBA has relocated the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend.”
    This sort of negative publicity has been going on since last March when the bill was enacted, and promptly signed by then Governor Pat McCrory the day after he saw a poll that erroneously reported a majority of North Carolinians supported HB2.


    No one knows, of course, the exact cost of HB2, but a November 2016 article by Corrine Jurney in Forbes magazine said at least $630 million and counting. Under the heading “Cross-Industry Carnage,” Forbes lists the aforementioned All-Star game, the loss of NCAA and ACC championship, which recent news reports say might not come back until 2022, decisions by financial services providers PayPal and Deutsche Bank not to expand in North Carolina, entertainers including Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Ringo Star, who took a pass on our state, a moratorium on Google Ventures investments here and more. We will never know the businesses, conventions, vacationers and others who quietly made decisions not to come to a state with an openly discriminatory law.

    Less quantifiable is the damage done to North Carolina’s once progressive reputation. While jokes may have died down a bit over time, North Carolina remains a regular target of late night comedians. I had my HB2 moment last spring in New York City when an art museum docent overheard a friend and me chatting and asked where we were from. When we replied “North Carolina,” the woman actually blurted “OOOH! How embarrassing!”
    So how did we get in this hole, and how do we get out?

    We got here not because transgender people were terrorizing other people in public restrooms but because leaders in control of the General Assembly thought HB2 would be a great “run on” issue for their candidates in the 2016 elections. In hindsight, they both misread the people of North Carolina and grossly underestimated the economic consequences of social discrimination. HB2 was a solution in search of a problem that is costing our state both money and our national standing, and it should be repealed immediately.

    There are some hopeful signs.

    Peder Zane, a conservative columnist for the Raleigh News and Observer, wrote this earlier this month.
    “As a practical matter, the so-called bathroom bill was completely unnecessary. It addressed a nonexistent problem. Transgender North Carolinians never posed a threat to their fellow Tar Heels.

    “Even its sponsors understand this. That is why, as far as I can tell, there has been zero enforcement of the law. Where are all the biological males cited for using the lady’s room?”
    Where, indeed?

    Where, indeed?

    Legislative leaders failed in a special session to repeal HB2, and they are now saying that all this is Governor Roy Cooper’s fault, that he should come up with a compromise. This is an “alternative fact”—aka, a whopper—if I have ever heard one since Cooper was not in the legislature last year and had at all nothing to do with the enactment of HB2. Nevertheless, he has floated a compromise proposal and says he will keep trying.


    People all over North Carolina are giving their legislators an earful about repealing HB2, and so should we. The financial cost and loss of national reputation are mind-boggling to address a problem that even conservatives say never existed.


    If HB2 were really such a great idea, wouldn’t other states be stampeding to pass their own “bathroom bills?”

    I hear only silence.

  • pub penThere’s a TV show called Law and Order, and like most TV shows and movies, it depicts situations and circumstances as they should be, not necessarily as they are. On this show, criminals break the law, law enforcement hunts them down and arrests them. They go to court, get convicted and go to jail to serve their sentence. Really? Well, all that may eventually happen, but in the real world, chances are it would take years. Many think, as I do, that political correctness has gotten so out of control it has our nation paralyzed with intimidation and fear. As a result,
    enforcing the rule of law has taken a back seat to political correctness. Really.

    When, and at what point, was it decide that Americans had the right to choose what laws they would or would not obey? This obsession with political correctness has transformed our republic into a revolutionary free-for-all when it comes to obeying and enforcing laws and the doctrines outlined in the U.S. Constitution. Have we allowed slick lawyers and glib politicians to dilute and distort the U.S. Constitution by allowing them to use it for their personal political gain?

    These questions need to be asked and answered before our American way of life melts down into anarchy. Cases in point: illegal immigration and sanctuary cities. When was the word illegal redefined in America to mean “no harm, no foul?” It used to be if something was illegal then it is unlawful. Unlawful meaning “against the law.” So, if an act is against the law, then it should be stopped and punished and certainly not rewarded. We encourage lawlessness by rewarding such bad behavior and illegal activities. For illegals we issue driver’s licenses, knowingly hire and shelter them and spend billions of taxpayers’ dollars on medical treatment, welfare and social programs, protecting and sheltering those documented criminals whose own countries have rejected them. Why? Because they have political value. To make matters worse, over the last decade, our inept federal government (Congress) has been transformed into the vehicle of choice for diluting the U.S. Constitution and making the rule of law arbitrary. The two most egregious examples of this are federal funding for sanctuary cities and the proliferation of rights, benefits and legal services extended to illegals while millions of our own natural-born Americans live in poverty, receive inadequate health
    care and attend schools with few resources and subpar academic records.

    Please don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not down on America nor am I being negative. These are all obvious observations. Our country and our American way of life have become much too politically charged and motivated. Why? Mostly out of the pursuit of greed, money and power. So much so that the checks and balances built into our Constitution by our forefathers (the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government) have been politically homogenized. Homogenized? Maybe a better word for this is contaminated? Either way, it is not a healthy situation and the task of righting America should be both a Democratic or Republican objective. It’s the American thing to do. I’m extremely confident that as American’s it is in our DNA to figure out the best way to preserve our country, our traditions and our American way of life. Let’s get to it!

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • UAC022217001Better Health of Cumberland County presents its 20th anniversary Evening at the Theater on March 4, an opportunity for the public to enjoy delectable food, casino tables and dueling pianos while supporting an organization with an inspiring mission. This year’s black and white themed evening and will take place at Cape Fear Botanical Gardens.


    Better Health is a nonprofit organization founded by Ruth Peters in 1958 with the vision to “improve access and availability of health care services for the underserved, low-income [Cumberland County] resident … through assistance, referral, and education.”


    The organization relies solely on sponsors, grants, individual and corporate donations and fundraising events. Amy Navejas, executive director of Better Health since July 2015, said of Evening at the Theater: “This is our largest fundraiser. It is critical for our operation and the services we provide. One hundred percent of the funds raised go toward our core missions of diabetes treatment and education, emergency direct aid and childhood obesity prevention.”
    Evening at the Theater owes its name to its original venue. Twenty years ago the staff, under the direction of then-Executive Director Roberta Humphries, conceived the idea for a fundraising event to be held at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. Since then, the event has evolved every few years in location and content, from dinner and a movie at the Cameo to skits at SkyView. In 2015, sponsor Timothy Edwards proposed to bring in elements of a casino, which proved to be a huge success and greatly increased the fundraising power of the event.


    Navejas said, “It’s a lot of fun for everyone! We have a variety of attendees, whether individuals who come because they want to support a wonderful cause, those who are drawn by the casino, or those who want to have a great date night while benefitting the community in the process.”
    Due to the popularity of casino-themed entertainment for the past two years, Navejas moved the venue to the Grand Hall and Orangery at Cape Fear Botanical Gardens for this 20th anniversary Evening. The move will create space for more attendees to enjoy the night’s offerings. The casino will have its own space in the Grand Hall, with the UNC-Duke game playing in the background. In the Orangery, adjacent to the Grand Hall, there will be food, bars, seating, room to dance and Blazin’ Keys Entertainment’s dueling pianos.


    Dueling pianos is an interactive form of musical entertainment that involves two pianists onstage playing audience-requested songs. Casey Cotton, dueling pianist and founder of Blazin’ Keys, said of the act: “It allows people to be a part of something - a live show. It’s a thrill to see what songs people pick, and I love the challenge of two guys on pianos pulling off a song that it normally takes a whole band to do.” Cotton has played piano for 31 years and has performed in venues across the country, from Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos in Georgia to Centrale Italian Kitchen & Bar in New York.


    The Evening will also feature a 50/50 raffle. Attendees can purchase tickets from showgirls who will be floating between the Grand Hall and Orangery, and at the end of the night the winner will receive half of the cash earnings from raffle ticket purchases. Last year’s winner, Clark Reaves, won $2,000 and donated his winnings back to Better Health. There will be a wager board for the UNC-Duke game, with a gift basket for the person who correctly guesses the final score. Finally, there will be a premium liquor basket presented to the casino player with the highest chip count at the end of the night. “I am most excited about seeing the event come together as a whole,” said Brad Laub, volunteer board member and first-time Chair for this event. “The night is going to be full of excitement and energy!”


    If you would like to support Better Health’s mission but cannot attend Evening at the Theatre, there are other ways to get involved. “One of our strongest needs is for volunteers to commit to at least one day a month at our diabetes clinic,” Navejas said. “We also always have shortages on used wheelchairs, scooters, transfer benches and eye glasses.” You can also simply donate cash to help Better Health reach their fundraising goal of $50,000. Visit http://www.betterhealthcc.org and click “How To Help” for more details.


    Marilyn Coffield, a registered nurse who has volunteered at Better Health since 1998, said of what she does: “The more I learned about Better Health, as I began working for the organization, the more I admired and resonated with their nonprofit mission. We are so grateful to be able to offer free services. We are so appreciative of the community support for events such as Evening at the Theater. It is a delight to see [people who come through Btter Health’s doors] move forward in their lives. We celebrate and encourage any small gains with them… they do the hard work and we are their cheerleaders!”


    Tickets to Evening at the Theater are available for $75 per person using the form under “Events” at betterhealthcc.org or by calling 910-483-7534.

  • UAC021517001For such a small organization, Sustainable Sandhills has a big impact on the community. From green schools programs to forums about climate preparedness to an environmentally-focused film series and locavore pop up dinners, this organization is not afraid to get creative when it comes to important issues. On March 10-11, Sustainable Sandhills and Fayettevile Technical Community College will host the Sandhills Clean Energy Summit. Each day includes a keynote luncheon with a speaker along with several forums, discussions and panels covering topics related to just about every aspect of clean/renewable energy.


    “Friday is more focused on the business perspective. We will have professionals in sustainable energy fields there to talk, as well as people who work in energy policy,” said Denise Bruce, green action coordinator at Sustainable Sandhills. “So if you are a small-business owner looking to find out about clean energy or learning about how energy policies affect business and industry, this is a day you won’t want to miss. Something that I think will be really fun is that we are touring a local solar farm at the end of the day. Tickets for the tour are limited, though. Those who don’t go on the tour are invited to stay and network.”

    The event is at FTCC. Doors open at 11 a.m. The keynote luncheon runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Bruce noted that this is the only part of the event (each day) that requires purchasing a ticket. It is $25 per ticket to attend the luncheon.

    From 1-2 p.m. Friday, attendees can choose from three topics: Renewable Energy Investing and Infrastructure opportunities for Your Business; Land Use Planning for Solar Installation; and Solar Farm Operations and Maintenance.

    From 2:15-3:15 p.m., topics include The State of Energy in North Carolina and Energy Efficiency in Business and Government.

    At 3:15 p.m., loading for the solar tour begins. Departure for the tour is at 3:30 p.m. At FTCC, from 3:30 p.m., attendees are invited to attend a networking session with representatives from Key Energy and Tom Butler of Butler Bio Farms.

    Saturday is more consumer oriented. “We will be talking about things like jobs in the clean energy field and how people can get training that will prepare them to work in this field. We will also be talking about things like climate resilience and social justice and power.”

    Saturday’s events also begin with registration, which runs from 11 – 11:30 a.m. Opening remarks are at 11:30 a.m.followed by a speaker.
    Topics from 1-2 p.m. cover home energy efficiency, training and workforce development opportunities and climate resilience. From 2:15-3:15 p.m., speakers will talk about social justice and power, community solar issues and electric vehicles and EV infrastructure. Climate talks and closing remarks are from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    In conjunction with the Clean Energy Summit is the World Climate Simulation. It takes place March 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the FTCC General Classroom building. It is an interactive simulation of the International Climate Negotiations. A collaboration between Climate Interactive and MIT, this simulation is based on the COP22 climate conference held in Marrakesh, Morocco, in November 2016. Participants are cast in roles as world leaders who have gathered to produce an agreement to reduce CO2 emissions enough to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Register at gogreen.ccs.k12.nc.us.

    Speakers throughout the Clean Energy Summit include professionals and experts in their respective fields.
    Gary Bilbro is president of SMART Recycling U.S., which provides services including food waste diversion to composting, anaerobic digestion and energy generation. SMART is claimed to be the cleanest, easiest, least expensive and most efficient food diversion program that exists.

    Jay Blauser is UNC Pembroke’s first sustainability director and chief sustainability officer. Blauser and his team work to minimize the university’s global warming emissions and to educate graduates about social, environmental and economic issues.

    Mark Brown is Senior Customer Programs Officer at Fayetteville Public Works Commission. His team develops energy and water efficiency programs, services and tools that make it possible for PWC customers to take advantage of the company’s smart grid initiatives.

    Stephan Caldwell is the creator of the Grease for Good program. This program helps communities see how locally-made biofuels can benefit the community not only as an energy source but also as a tool to educate and inspire others.

    Kacey Hoover has a strong technical background in regulatory, government affairs, and market trends pertinent to the industry. Hoover currently serves as North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association’s Strategic Relations Manager.

    Ken Jennings is the Renewable Strategy & Policy Director for Duke Energy Carolinas and works out of the Raleigh Office. He’s held numerous business roles and ultimately landed in the regulatory policy field. Throughout his career, he has developed new generating facilities, managed business analytics teams, testified in numerous rate proceedings in multiple states.

    Jodie Lasseter will attend on behalf of Power Up NC. Lasseter works closely with community leaders and environmental justice organizations to build grassroots power throughout the U.S. and abroad.

    Katie LeBrato is the marketing communications director at NC GreenPower. She brings leadership to their Communications Working Group and Sustainability Group.

    Jay Lucas works for the Public Staff of the North Carolina Utilities Commission where he has managed the regulatory aspects of the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard since 2009.

    To find out more about Sustainable Sandhills or to register for the Clean Energy Summit, visit http://www.sustainablesandhills.org/sandhills-clean-energy-summit.

     

  • CharlottesWebCharlotte’s Web is a classic children’s novel. It was written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams. The book was published in October of 1952. Since it was first published the book has been a mainstay in schools and home’s across the nation. In 2000, Publishers Weekly named the book as the best-selling children’s paperback of all time, a truly amazing honor. The Children’s Literature Association named it, “the best American children’s book of the past two hundred years,” another incredible title that speaks to the book’s combination of critical acclaim and mass popularity.

    “Each year a few students are selected to choose the shows for the following semester. It is then given to our professor and the chair to decide. The vote for this show was unanimous because of it childlike wonder and sense of nostalgia,” said FSU spokesperson Christina Jones.

    The story centers around a pig named Wilbur who is the runt of his litter. Wilbur lives on a farm and is in danger of being slaughtered by the farmer. Luckily, Wilbur’s barnyard friend steps in to save his life. The little spider, Charlotte, writes messages in her web that convinces the farmer to leave the little pig alone. Wilbur goes on to compete in the county fair while Charlotte lays an egg sac full of her unborn young. Wilbur returns to the farm and helps care for the eggs until they hatch and Charlotte subsequently dies.

    Iris McBride (Wilbur) is a sophomore at Fayetteville State University and a double major in both theatre, and music. Morgan Pierce (Fern) is a freshman at South View High School and “loves theatre more than anything else.” Tracyie Zapata-Kuhn (Charlotte) is a graduating senior at Fayetteville State University with a major in theatre. She has played lead roles in previous children’s shows, such as the rabbit in The Velveteen Rabbit, Laura in Rumplestiltskin, and the wife in The Fisherman and His Wife.

    FSU presents Charlotte’s Web the play written by Joseph Robinette. Robinette worked with E.B. White to create a stage adaptation true to the spirit of the original story. There will be school performances on Feb. 16 and 17 at 9:15 a.m.and 10:45 a.m. There is also a public performance on February 18th at 10 A.M. This is a perfect opportunity to see the stage production as a family and to share the classic tale with friends and families of all ages. Tickets for the general public are $10. Tickets can be purchased through the FSU Box Office by calling 910.672.1724.

    Charlotte’s Web does not mark the end of the season for FSU. April 6-8 will feature Passing Strange by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. This show combines comedy, drama and rock music. The musical takes place in Europe and focuses on a story of self-discovery for a young African American. The show is critically acclaimed and has received a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical.

    For years the FSU Theater program has brought high-quality shows to the community for very affordable prices while also developing the skills and talents of the students in the program. While looking for ways to engage in the lively artistic community thriving in Fayetteville, don’t forget to look at the FSU Season. It offers a wide variety of excellent shows and provides an opportunity to support the growing artists in the area.

  • brain candyOn Feb. 21, the Crown Theater will present the show Brain Candy Live! at 7:30 p.m. The show features two entertainment powerhouses, both individually known for their creative pursuits of knowledge: Adam Savage and Michael Stevens. Savage is known for his work on television and Steven’s has made a name for himself with his popular YouTube channel called Vsauce. Together they use the stage, some science and some convenient optical illusions to create a fun evening full of creativity and learning.

    Stevens has a background in neuropsychology and a love for performing onstage. When YouTube was invented, it gave him the perfect platform to combine these two passions. The goal of his channel, Vsauce, is to engage people in a fun and comfortable way, like hanging out with friends, he explains. But it all starts with questions that can come from anywhere, even fans. And he truly means any sort of questions. “I especially like the joke ones. I did one on why is it called our bottom if it is in the middle of our body. The question was an entry to talk about how interesting that there are no other animal that have a butt as big in relation to their body as we do,” Stevens said. “One of the leading hypotheses about why we have unique butts is that they are big pieces of muscle we have because we are runners. We don’t have claws, fangs or venom, so the only way to hunt for prey before we had tools was endurance hunting. Even though an antelope can run faster it can’t run longer. You run till it needs to stop and you keep running.”

    Despite his YouTube experience interacting with audiences, Brain Candy Live! is inherently different. “On YouTube when I talk, I have all these barriers. I record a video, and all you can do is listen and watch, but for the most part, there is a wall between me and the audience. If I want you to smell something or hear something, the mic can’t pick that up. I’m stuck. But all these things are possible during a live event,” Stevens said.

    The combination of Savage and Stevens onstage is electric. Both have entertainment experience and engaging personalities that encourage audience participation. They ramp this up even more by purposefully bringing up audience members to participate in their demonstrations and experiments. The audience participates in nearly every part of the show. This personal touch guarantees that every demonstration, though it may be incredibly complex, is understandable and fun for the whole family. The goal here is to wow and dazzle, but not through magic, through understandable and relatable science.

    The show is two hours long and does include an intermissio. The show in Fayetteville is particularly special. It is the world debut of Brain Candy Live! and Stevens’ first experience touring. If everything goes well there is the possibility of another Brain Candy show with a new theme in the future. Tickets range from $99.50 for the VIP to $25. To purchase tickets or for more information visit www.crowncomplexnc.com.

     

  • Community Concerts will bring the band Foreigner, one of the most popular rock acts in the world, to the Crown Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 25.foreigners new 4

    Michael Fleishman, Community Concerts Attractions Director, said of the upcoming show: “Foreigner is rock royalty. When it comes to hits, Foreigner is in the same realm as groups like Journey, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles.

    They’ve had amazing success, you know all the songs and we’re very lucky to have them. It’s gonna be a zoo in there! We are anticipating full capacity.”

    English musician and lead guitarist Mick Jones established Foreigner in 1976, propelled by a desire “to combine Blues and R&B with British rock and make it sound soulful and authentic.” Jones and his original band mates, including Lou Gramm as lead vocalist, rocketed to stardom when they released their self-titled debut album in 1977. This album produced immediate hits such as “Feels Like The First Time,” “Cold As Ice” and “Long, Long Way from Home.”
    Foreigner has grown with the times – both in its membership and audience. Today, the band boasts 10 multi-platinum albums and sixteen Top 30 hits spanning a 40-year legacy. Jones remains the band’s heartbeat and leader, but he is now joined by vocalist Kelly Hansen (since 2007), bassist Jeff Pilson, multi-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel, guitarist Bruce Watson, Michael Bluestein on keyboards and Chris Frazier on drums.


    According to Hansen, “The best part about being in this band is getting the chance to do something I feel I was meant to do…what happens on stage with this group of guys is something rare and palpable. It’s like the old saying, if I have to describe it, you wouldn’t understand.”

    And Foreigner’s music’s appeal has not faded with the digital age, being featured in popular films such as “Anchorman 2,” “Magic Mike” and “Pitch Perfect” as well as the video game “Grand Theft Auto V.” Their most popular hits today include “I Want To Know What Love Is,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You” and “Double Vision.”

    Community Concerts, responsible for bringing Foreigner to the Crown and holding the title of Fayetteville’s oldest art organization, was founded in 1935. The organization is an “all-volunteer, non-profit whose goal is to bring the finest in top-notch entertainment to Fayetteville.”

    After the Foreigner concert on Feb. 25, Community Concerts will host the Australian singing sensation and world-renowned music group The Ten Tenors on March 18. This concert will be preceded by a short induction ceremony for new members into The Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame. Now going on its 10th year, The Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame was founded by Community Concerts to honor those who have brought musical distinction to the community.

    This year’s season finale will take place on April 11 when Community Concerts features the Broadway smash hit, “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles.”

    Tickets to Foreigner range from $39.50 to $89.50 and are available in person at the Crown Box Office or online at www.CapeFearTix.com. There is a VIP package available when you buy online, which includes a pre-show photo with the band and an autographed limited edition CD, along with other bonuses.

  • Student interns 2The City of Fayetteville is partnering with Cumberland County Schools to support and help fund a program that encourages students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The mission of Career and Technical Education is to help empower students for effective participation in a global economy as world-class workers and citizens. “This year we would like to hire between 30 and 40 student interns with an investment of $50,000,” said City Councilman Kirk deViere. That would build on the initial project this past year that saw 16 students spend time working alongside city staff as paid interns.

    Career and technical education provides students the opportunity to participate in actual work-based programs. Students will learn the relevance of their education and apply acquired knowledge in a meaningful way through exposure to the real workplace, in this case, municipal government. The program will last between four and six weeks, from June 19 to July 28. 

    Student opportunities for internships include:


    Agricultural Education, which provides students an integrated educational model that focuses them on careers in food, fiber and environmental systems.

    Business and Information Technology Education, which is a program designed to integrate business and information technology skills into the middle and high school curriculum.

    Career Development Education, which involves students, parents, teachers, counselors and the community. The goal is to help students make good decisions about themselves and their futures.

    Family and Consumer Sciences Education, which prepares students for careers working with individuals and families. The concept of work, whether in a family or career, is central to the program area.

    Health Science Education program, which seeks to meet the needs of health care workers. The program recruits and prepares qualified and motivated students for appropriate health careers.

    Marketing Education, which prepares students for careers in marketing and management. It encompasses activities within production, as well as aspects of consumption.

    Technology Education, which helps students develop an appreciation for and understanding of technology through the study and application of materials, tools, processes, inventions, structures and artifacts of the past and present.

    Trade and Industrial Education, which is a secondary program that provides students the opportunity to advance in a wide range of trade and industrial occupations.

    Cumberland County Schools staff will collect weekly time sheets of participating students, deposit monies earned into participants’ accounts, keep detailed records of total hours/amounts paid and provide the City of Fayetteville and other partners with documentation of the recorded hours and wages. “The City of Fayetteville provides a professional contact person to serve as a liaison between the school system and the city, and to assist as needed,” said Council Member Larry Wright.

    The City will also be working directly with PWC to provide additional funding. Recruitment of additional businesses to support the jobs would come through Chamber of Commerce and partnerships with the County and Cape Fear Valley Hospital as well as PWC. Job partners would share 50% of the cost of the interns.

  • Any CannonCumberland County local government officials have known property values were falling for the last eight years, but apparently were unable to stop the plunge. The downturn was first noticed during the appeal process following the release of 2009 property values. “We weren’t expecting it. It kind of happened all of a sudden,” said Tax Administrator Joe Utley. The 2009 revaluation was published toward the tail end of The Great Recession, which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. It began with the bursting of an $8 trillion housing bubble. The resulting loss of wealth led to sharp cutbacks in consumer spending combined with financial market chaos which led to a collapse in business investment.

    “Although other communities in our state have seen significant growth since the recession, Cumberland County’s economy continues with a pattern of weak growth,” said County Manager Amy Cannon early last year. She primarily blames a reduction of troops at Fort Bragg. During the recession, the military was still at full strength, she said, and that kept sales tax revenues up and property values had not been affected. “The local economy thrives during major conflicts,” Cannon said, noting that wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were still going strong. When soldiers return from deployments they spend a lot of money “so our sales tax revenues were up while other counties surrounding us saw a significant drop in their sales tax,” added Cannon.

    Utley noted that sales tax revenues began dropping off in 2011. Add to that a decline in the number of soldiers at Fort Bragg. “It doesn’t take a huge fluctuation in military contractors or troops to have an effect on our economy,” Cannon noted. County officials say a net loss of about 2,000 troops began the downward spiral in local consumer spending. “Our sales tax revenues remain stagnant” as property values continue to decline, the manager added. Cannon said in 2014 the county began doing serious research trying to figure out what to do about the reduction of property values and a correlated lack of population growth.

    County Commissioners “look to us for solutions and options,” said Cannon. A significant disadvantage for Cumberland County is that 74 percent of the tax base is residential as opposed to industry and commerce. “The downturn in property values was scattered rather than concentrated, said Utley. “From our perspective, it’s very difficult to compare our county with any other community,” Cannon said. “We struggle with that.” Because Fort Bragg’s land area is not taxable, we are unique. Our tax base per capita is significantly lower than other metropolitan areas,” she noted. The Fayetteville / Fort Bragg community lost another 1,900 troops in the last couple of years because of federal sequestration.

    But, there is hope for the future. Cannon says the growth of downtown Fayetteville will spur the economy because that’s where millennials want to live. “We are better known today among developers and site selectors than we were just two years ago,” Cannon insisted. “I just believe we have some real opportunities for economic development.”

    Tax Administrator Utley points to “$70 million in growth this past year – nine new shopping centers, three new hotels and three apartment complexes.” Utley’s expectations for economic growth include distribution, back office development such as business incubators, warehousing and minor textile sectors. Cannon believes there will be new growth at Fort Bragg. The FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act raises the Army’s end strength to just over a million soldiers for all components, according to Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Daniel A. Dailey. “We’re not in a drawdown anymore; we’re in an increase situation,” Dailey added.

  • Kristoff Bauer 2Fayetteville City Manager Doug Hewett has decided to reorganize his administration team, which includes retaining Deputy Manager Kristoff Bauer as his No. 2. Bauer, 51, became deputy city manager seven-and-a-half years ago, but it’s been a rocky tenure. He was asked to submit his resignation last fall. Hewett also asked former Deputy Manager Rochelle Small-Toney to resign. Within one week, she cleared out her office and left town in October. Small-Toney remained on the city’s payroll through the end of the year to care for her ailing parents. Up & Coming Weekly learned last September of the deputy managers’ impending departures from sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

    As part of Hewett’s reorganization of his administration, he decided this month to replace Small-Toney. That position as a deputy manager had been left open since her departure. Her successor will be redesignated an assistant manager. The third member of the administrative management team is Assistant Manager Jay Reinstein. “I do not anticipate any other structural changes in the organization,” Hewett said.
    Bauer was hired in August 2009 by then City Manager Dale Iman. He holds dual bachelor’s degrees, an MBA and a law degree, all from the University of Washington. He was passed over for promotion in April when former Manager

    Ted Voorhees was fired. Hewett got the job as Interim City Manager. Several years ago, Hewett served as an assistant manager but left town when Iman was let go in 2012. A year later, Hewett came back to Fayetteville to take a middle management position.

    Under the council/manager form of local government in North Carolina, elected city councils hire and fire only their chief executives and city attorneys. Hewett was serving as Interim City Manager until the first of the year when the council gave him a one-year employment contract. That was unprecedented. Some council members said confidentially the one-year agreement would give Hewett an opportunity to prove himself. Hewett’s original plan for Bauer, sources said, was to keep him on temporarily in a consultant’s role.

    City Hall dynamics in late 2016 saw Bauer take on some of Small-Toney’s responsibilities, thereby enhancing his position. And he became the chief architect of development plans for the minor-league baseball stadium that will be under construction this summer. Hewett and Bauer became more interdependent as Hewett found himself spending time working more closely with city council. Bauer won’t deny that the new arrangement gave him a chance to earn his way back into his boss’s good graces, which he did. Despite his talents, Bauer previously had disagreements with some colleagues and members of city council. Some of those associates have said in confidence they’ve seen a change for the better in his persona.

    Except to confirm an inquiry from Up & Coming Weekly on the recent reorganization of his office, Hewett cites state personnel privacy laws as reasons he cannot comment on or confirm our reporting.

  • FAST CoachFayetteville City Council is concerned about the accidental death of a teen who died after being struck by a car seconds after she disembarked from a FAST bus. The mishap in late January occurred on Murchison Road when Miyosha Noel-Davis, 16, stepped into traffic from the front of the bus and was hit by an oncoming car. She died several days later at UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill. “Our training teaches our bus operators not to have passengers cross in front of the bus,” said Randy Hume, Transit Director. He said signs are posted inside buses saying “CAUTION-Do Not Cross in Front of the Bus.” City councilwoman Kathy Jensen declared teenagers cannot be expected to use caution. Councilman Larry Wright suggested FAST coaches be equipped with extended crossing arms like those on some school buses. They discourage passengers from crossing in front of buses. They are asked to use the rear door when getting off buses to allow people who are getting on the bus to use the front door, said Hume.

    City to Recover Haz Mat Costs
    The Fayetteville Fire Department will be reimbursed for costs associated with a major gasoline tanker truck accident early this month. Fire crews found a fully-loaded tanker truck on its side on Murchison Rd near the future I-295. The tanker carried 8800 gallons of gasoline, according to Battalion Chief David Richtmeyer. A fuel leak was discovered and the department’s hazardous materials team was called to the scene. The state’s Haz-Mat Regional Response Team-3, which is manned by Fayetteville Firefighters, also responded because the situation “required a higher level of equipment and manpower for mitigation,” said Fire Marshal Michael Martin. He did not indicate how much fuel was spilled before it could be contained. The gasoline was pumped into another tanker in a procedure that took several hours. The state will bill the owner of the truck, and the city will be reimbursed for its costs. There were no injuries. State statutes and a local ordinance allow the fire department to recover costs associated with dealing with hazardous materials incidents.

    Army Pharmacy Opens
    The new Womack Army Medical Center Pharmacy Annex opened for business this month. It’s fully operational, providing refill distribution services plus hard copy and electronic prescriptions. It has also assumed the weekend pharmacy mission from the main outpatient pharmacy at the hospital which no longer operates on Saturdays. The annex is located off Reilly Road, in front of the mini-mall across the street from the Iron Mike Conference and Catering Center. “The new pharmacy will improve efficiency by providing everything right there at one location,” said Col. Jorge Carrillo, Chief of the Department of Pharmacy, WAMC. The new pharmacy also has a drive-thru window for refill prescription pickup.
    Weed for Vets
    A clinical trial designed to determine whether smoking marijuana is an effective treatment for PTSD among veterans is underway. The study will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of using medicinal marijuana to help vets manage their symptoms, officials with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies said in a news release this month. The study is funded by a $2 million grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Colorado’s Amendment 64 was passed by voters in 2012 which led to the legalization of marijuana in 2014. The new study will monitor four levels of marijuana potency in 76 veterans. The data gathered is intended for clinicians and legislators who will consider whether marijuana is an appropriate treatment for PTSD. Volunteers will complete 17 outpatient visits over a 12-week period, with follow-up visits in six months. “As this is the first placebo-controlled trial of cannabis for PTSD, we are breaking important ground needed to identify improved treatment options for veterans with PTSD,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. The research was approved in 2014 by the federal Health and Human Services Department.

    College Fair
    A college fair for rising freshmen among historically black colleges and universities will be held in Fayetteville on March 18. It will be held at Smith Recreation Center, 1520 Slater Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Program highlights include students being able to connect directly with college admissions representatives to learn about local scholarship opportunities. And they’ll be able to attend college planning seminars. A light lunch will be served. There are 11 historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina, including our own Fayetteville State University.

  • jason bradyLocal government is going for the trifecta of acting for the public good.


    Previously, we published the exclusive story that the city of Fayetteville is starting in earnest its hunt for a new “permanent” police chief. The move could possibly remove the popular and very able interim Chief Anthony Kelly, who insiders say may not seek the permanent post.

    But the cool thing about the police chief recruitment is the city will use citizens in the selection process, although that process has yet to be defined. Still, it’s a good thing to allow people who pay the bills to have some say about how they are governed, or in this instance, policed.

    Before that, we wrote about the proposed merger of the city and the county independently operated 911 emergency call centers. The driving force behind that move to play nice with each other is to enhance that important life-saving public service and to eventually save taxpayer dollars. Citizens win on that one.

    This week we’ve learned that Cumberland County elected officials and the city’s Public Works Commission met to talk about water. Yes, water for areas of the county that need that very common commodity but have a problem getting it. The Gray’s Creek community is one such place.

    The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners at its retreat in late January questioned whether the Fayetteville Public Works Commission could provide water to the unincorporated areas of the county; especially those areas that are in dire need of safe drinking water.

    But those questions by commissioners were tossed at the county’s engineer who happened to be there and could only guess what PWC could or couldn’t do.
    County commissioners didn’t waste time looking for answers. Commission Chairman Glenn Adams today acknowledged to me that he and County Manager Amy Cannon recently met with PWC Chairwoman Evelyn Shaw and PWC Manager David Trego.

    Adams said they discussed “possibilities and options” available but gave no details. “After that information is gathered, we will have a follow-up meeting,” he said.
    The city of Fayetteville, which owns the Public Works Commission, in the past, used municipal water and sewer services as leverage to get unincorporated areas needing those services to agree to be annexed. That was a bitter pill for many to swallow, especially developers.

    It was the only option available to grow the city since the General Assembly banned municipalities from forced annexation. The law repealing forced annexation by North Carolina municipalities came as a result of Fayetteville’s 2005 Big Bang Annexation.

    And the onus put on PWC by the city to build costly water and sewer lines in the annexed areas strained the relationship between the city and its utility. The long, simmering internal feud about which of the two ultimately controls the utility came to a head last year when PWC sued the city over the issue. PWC won the court battle and won greater autonomy from its owner.

    This past summer, PWC did away with the requirement for any areas or housing/commercial developments to agree to be annexed if it wanted water.

    Local developers lauded the move because it opens opportunities to build subdivisions and commercial properties in the county with safe, clean tap water.

    And developers won’t be yoked with urban development standards required when you build in the city.

    That could be a good and bad thing, depending on where developers will cut corners to cut costs and increase margins. Time will tell.

    PWC spokeswoman Carolyn Justice-Hinson said one of PWC’s strategic goals is to work with the county and support economic development. That’s a given when you realize the PWC’s board consists primarily of business minded individuals.

    Despite losing a leverage to grow the city, Mayor Nat Robertson said the City Council is OK with PWC extending water outside the city limits.

    Besides, the PWC won its partial emancipation from the city as a result of the court case … which taxpayers and ratepayers funded.

    “We support countywide water for economic development,” Mayor Robertson said. The city still has a chance to annex when an area asks for sewer, he said.

    Councilman Bill Crisp agrees. “PWC is autonomous. They have the power and authority to do this without the city,” he said.

    “Personally, I’ve always said it is God’s water and should be available to everyone.”

  • pittBuckle up for another time travel trip with Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman in the Way Back Machine to celebrate the 100th birthday of 1917. Remember what our old philosophizing buddy George Santanya once said after a few beers while trying to impress a waitress: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Taking heed of George’s words, let’s stroll around the events of just one short century ago. Perhaps a review of the past will allow us to make some sense of our present muddled circumstances and avoid repeating World War I as World War III.


    In 1917 Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president. The year started off with a bang when T. E. Lawrence, soon to be Lawrence of Arabia, joined the Arab tribe of Feisal Hussein to fight the Ottoman Empire. In January, the United States made a deal with Denmark and bought the Danish West Indies for $25 million. While not as good a deal as the Dutch got buying Manhattan for $24, it was still a bargain at twice the price. Once the U. S. owned the islands, we renamed them the Virgin Islands for reasons shrouded in Oedipal love and mystery. Owning the Virgin Islands assured us that cruise ships loaded with Norovirus-infected passengers would have a place to dock, throw up and buy T-shirts. In January, the little cable cars that climb halfway to the stars first appeared on the streets of San Francisco where Tony Bennett would, a century later, leave his heart and his liver.


    Europe was a bubbling cauldron of toil and trouble as World War I kept boiling over. America was still out of the war at the beginning of 1917. Relations with Germany took a major turn for the wurst when a German submarine sank the U. S. S. Housatonic. President Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany in April. The last American troops under General Black Jack Pershing left Mexico in February after vainly chasing Pancho Villa.

    Repeating the past, one hundred years later, President Trump threatened to send U. S. troops back into Mexico to round up some more ‘bad hombres.’ Somewhere Pancho is snickering.


    The Russian Revolution went into overdrive when Czar Nicholas II ordered his army to put down demonstrations in Petrograd and the army mutinied. Things got worse and Czar Nick abdicated in February, only to end up dead in 1918 at the hands of the Commies. In August 1917, Pravda, the official newspaper of the communists called for the killing of all capitalists, priests and officers. A hundred years later, to the surprise of many Republicans and Democrats, President Trump announced the moral equivalency of Russia and America. The Commies took over Russia in October and with Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin their leaders. Things don’t always work out when there is a triumvirate of leaders. Leon Trotsky had a falling out with Stalin. Leon ultimately ended up with a severe headache brought on by the wrong end of an ice axe delivered at the request of Stalin decades later. Cheka, the secret police force of the Commies was established in December 1917. Cheka begat the KGB, which begat Vladimir Putin, who begat The Donald.


    Not everything in 1917 was war or rumors of war. Some other stuff happened also. The first jazz record “Dixie Jazz One Step” was recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Montana’s Jeannette Rankin was elected as first female Representative in the U.S. Congress. Prohibition in the form of the 18th Amendment was approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification, much to the delight of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., gangsters and teetotalers everywhere.


    America’s first draftee in World War I, the immortal Leo Pinckney was inducted into the Army in May 1917. It was awkward to have Germans serve as British royalty during World War I. The British Royal family was of German descent and renounced its family name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in July. They changed their last name to the much more stiff-upper-lip and crumpet-chomping sounding name of Windsor. That name change saved us from having to say Queen Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.


    America’s favorite G-Man and cross-dresser, J. Edgar Hoover got his first job at the U.S. Department of Justice in July. Speaking of spies, the Dutch temptress Mata Hari was executed as a German spy in France in October. History is silent on whether J. Edgar ever dressed as Mata Hari. The “last successful cavalry charge in history” occurred in October 1917 at the Battle of Beersheba in Palestine when the Australian cavalry attacked and defeated the Germans and the Turks.

    What can we learn from history? Not much. Excuse me, I just got a picture of a cat on my cell phone.

  • margaretOne of the Precious Jewels has purchased a first home in a North Carolina city, not unlike Fayetteville. It is a small, one-story bungalow from the 1930s that has been updated over the years, including the blessing of a master bathroom addition. The rest of the house remains as it was built, including an off-kilter fireplace that was apparently an homage to the Art Deco style so fashionable at that time.

    The little house is in a neighborhood where people walk dogs and stroll babies along sidewalks installed decades ago by the city and chat with each other while they do it. School buses lumber by twice a day this time of year. Some houses are newer and much grander than the little bungalow with the funky fireplace, and some are slightly more modest. The residents are of all ages and heritages, and there is a university nearby so a student presence filters through as well.

    In other words, it is a neighborhood much like Fayetteville’s own Haymount, a smorgasbord area of single-family homes, several churches and the occasional garage apartment, with a small commercial district at its center.

    Full disclosure. I have lived almost all my life in Haymount, in a total of six different houses scattered on both sides of Fort Bragg Road, ranging in age and style from the 1930s to midcentury modern. I loved them all for different reasons—the one I grew up in, my own first bungalow-ish house, the one the Precious Jewels grew up in and our final one with its easy grace and low-rise steps. I loved my neighbors, too—from the babies whose arrivals were announced with pink or blue bows to the old ladies who wore stockings even in August to the Haymount “characters” no one will ever forget.

    Fayetteville city planners, and thank goodness, we have some, are now studying Haymount to determine not only how to preserve and protect its character but also how to enhance the neighborhood. At a time when Fayetteville is growing, especially with new residential developments, there is a sense of concern about preserving what we have for those who have loved living there for years and those who will love it in the future.

    But Haymount has had some issues in recent years. A large home on Oakridge Avenue was torn down to make way for five newly constructed homes, but that old house is not the only one to have made way for more and newer homes. The same thing has happened along Raeford and Morganton Roads and side streets in between. Commercial interests have also been sniffing around, most recently and publicly a school proposed in an antebellum mansion on Morganton Road. Fayetteville City Council said a resounding no to that, but it is surely not the last request. And, the Haymount commercial area, including the famed Cape Fear Regional Theater, is far less than pedestrian and bike friendly. Finding some green space or a bench to watch the world go by is a challenge as well.

    Fayetteville has established something called a Neighborhood Conservation District, which requires new construction to conform in scale and character of existing buildings, but no individual neighborhood has been designated thus far. Haymount would seem a likely candidate for that designation, maintaining the eclectic feel of the neighborhood without undue burdens on builders or homeowners who want to do something a little different. Such a district would set parameters but would not regulate color, style, renovations or demolitions, when necessary.

    Much of the charm of Haymount is that no one would ever call it “cookie cutter” or even a “residential development” and certainly not a “subdivision.” Haymount has grown up over more than two centuries and encompasses buildings from many eras and of many styles, ranging from the still vacant antebellum mansion to our midcentury modern to newer zero lot line construction. Its churches range from wood-frame buildings to a grand stone sanctuary, and commercial buildings from early 20th century to convenience store modern. 

    Count me among the cheerleaders for Haymount and for the careful study the City of Fayetteville is undertaking. Haymount, often referred to as Historic Haymount, makes our community unique and is among the memories people take away from Fayetteville. The study is an attempt to figure out this community resource and make it better not just for the people who live in Haymount but for all who visit there, shop there, eat there, worship there, see plays there and generally enjoy time there.

    Other cities cherish their historic neighborhoods, like the one with the house with the funky fireplace. Fayetteville can and should as well.

    I feel myself cheering already.

    faillace ad, omni ad

  • earlHigh School Sports Take Center Court with Earl Vaughan Jr.

    For the first time in Up & Coming Weekly’s 21-year publishing history, we have assembled a tour de force of community athletic talent to create a new, exciting and entertaining section in our weekly newspaper, titled, High School Highlights. As the name implies, this weekly section will focus on showcasing Cumberland County’s “up & coming” high school athletes, their schools, coaches, programs, teachers and events.
    We are equally excited and proud to announce that no one is more talented or qualified to address these topics than our Senior Sports Editor, Earl Vaughan, Jr. We are extremely excited about having Earl on board to develop this new addition to Up & Coming Weekly. Earl has a genuine passion for this community, high school sports and for supporting developing young athletes. No one appreciates the value of education and high school sports more than Earl. He will be bringing a new dimension to showcasing these high school athletes by recognizing those who also excel in academics. High School Highlights will showcase these “Scholar Athletes” each week.

    With this new section comes a very important educational initiative: Newspapers in Education. Unfortunately, today 33 percent of our students read below grade level. Illiteracy among children is increasing at a breakneck speed. Under this program, high school students of Cumberland County will be encouraged not only to read but to write. In addition to providing Up & Coming Weekly newspapers in bulk to all the area high schools each week, the students will be able to submit for publication news, views, poetry and general interest articles on topics relevant to them as young adults.

    In support of Earl’s high school scholar-athlete program, Up & Coming Weekly will be partnering with Don Koonce and the DK Sports crew during their weekly radio broadcasts for the 2017 football season. Up & Coming Weekly will be advertising and promoting High School Highlights where DK Sports will be radio broadcasting their popular Games of the Week.

    Hey, our newspaper is getting bigger and better as our community becomes bigger and better. Thank you for your support and for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • Judge Maurice BraswellJudicial Icon Dies

    A beloved Fayetteville jurist, E. Maurice Braswell, has died. He was 94. Judge Braswell served for 16 years on the North Carolina Court of Appeals following a 20-year career on the Superior Court bench. Braswell was born in Rocky Mount, N.C. As a young man, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and because of his excellent eyesight, was assigned as a tail gunner on a B-17 “Flying Fortress.’’ After flying in more than 40 combat missions, his plane was hit and burst into flames. Braswell parachuted safely but landed behind enemy lines and spent two months as a POW in a Romanian prisoner of war camp. After the war, he studied at the University of North Carolina Law School and came to Fayetteville to practice law. In 1955, he was appointed district solicitor (now district attorney) by then-Gov. Luther Hodges. Braswell was elected a Superior Court judge in 1962. In the 1970s, Braswell signed one of the last outlaw warrants issued in the state prior to the statute’s repeal. It gave lawmen the authority to shoot to kill wanted fugitives. In this case, the ‘outlaw’ was a Cumberland County jail escapee. He was apprehended without incident. In 1982, Braswell ran for a seat on the state Court of Appeals and received more votes than anyone running for statewide office that year. Braswell is survived by his three children. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth.

    Rowan Street Bridge Construction Underway
    Preparation work is underway for construction of the new Rowan Street Bridge and realignment of city streets in the vicinity. Timber in a city park and areas where the replacement bridge will be built has been cleared. The off ramp from the existing Rowan Street bridge to Murchison Road has been closed and sections of W. Rowan and Hillsboro Streets have been barricaded. Some streets have marked detours. Others do not. Inbound traffic on Hillsboro Street now must turn left onto Moore Street. No detour is posted. S.T. Wooten Corp. of Wilson, N.C., is the general contractor for the $24 million project. Construction will take three years, said DOT Division Construction Engineer Randy Wise. Two new overpasses will be built immediately adjacent to the existing structure. Rowan Street, Bragg Boulevard and Murchison Road will be realigned to join one another at a single intersection.


    City Code Being Enforced Again
    With Hurricane Matthew four months behind us, the City of Fayetteville has decided it’s time to resume enforcement of the city code. The city’s Code of Ordinances governs everything we do and shouldn’t do as citizens of Fayetteville. The city “responds to concerns from citizens and oversees nuisance enforcement and ongoing compliance with City codes and regulations, such as overgrown lots or yards, inoperative vehicles, maintenance of structures, illegal signs and public nuisances.” says the city’s website. Downed trees from the hurricane are also covered. Officials say there are still about 300 homes with storm debris that hasn’t been disposed of. Letters giving those homeowners 30 days to complete the cleanup are in the mail, says city spokesman Nathan Walls, after which code enforcement will resume.

    I-95 Business Closed Temporarily
    The N.C. Department of Transportation has closed I-95 Business/U.S. 301 in Cumberland County for routine maintenance. Both the northbound and southbound lanes are closed between N.C. 24 (Grove Street) and I-95, exit 55 at Eastover. The road will remain closed through Friday, Feb. 24, said DOT spokeswoman Peggy Beach. Motorists are advised to take the signed detour route that involves I-95, Murphy Road, Dunn Road, Grove Street and Eastern Boulevard. This section of U.S. 301 was closed once before for more than two years while new bridges were constructed over the Cape Fear River and Cross Creek.

    Police Ball Needs Community Support
    The Fayetteville Police Foundation hopes the business and civic communities will chip in to sponsor tables and defray the cost of officers and their guests at the annual Police Ball. It’s scheduled the evening of May 12 at Highland Country Club. The ball features dinner and dancing as well as a silent auction. The Police Foundation raises money to augment the needs of the FPD. It was instrumental in raising much of the money that allowed the department to equip uniformed patrol officers with body cameras. Sponsorships vary in cost and the foundation gladly accepts donations in any amount. For more information, contact Executive Director Cindy McCormic at 433-1746 or 988-0797.

  • Feb 24 Shooting One man is dead and another is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries following a shooting in the Douglas Byrd neighborhood.

    On Thursday, Feb. 24, officers with the Fayetteville Police Department responded to a reported shooting along the 4600 block of Fen Court around 6:17 p.m.

    Officers and medical personnel arrived on the scene and located two men who had been shot. Both were transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries where one of them later passed away.

    The circumstances surrounding the shooting are under investigation by the Fayetteville Police Department’s Homicide Unit.

    Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective M. Waters (910) 635-4978 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers information can also be submitted electronically, by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org

  • PWC A new crypto mining facility in Fayetteville will be among the city’s top 10 power consumers when it starts operations in August.

    California-based Plan C Crypto will operate an old 20,000-square-foot industrial facility near Fayetteville Regional Airport. It will operate at 5,000 kilowatts, according to the company and the Fayetteville Public Works Commission.

    PWC doesn’t release specific power consumption information on businesses without consent, but the facility’s electrical draw will put it in the company of PWC’s top customers, including Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College and Walmart, among others.

    Many critics consider the industry’s high carbon emissions to be wasteful, contributing to climate change and rising global temperatures.

    Lee Reiners, a researcher at Duke University who studies financial technologies such as cryptocurrency, is among those critical of a business plan for which he sees no legitimate financial utility in its future.

    “Cryptocurrency provides no useful economic function,” he said. “Anything that is an input into that process is not useful. It is wasteful. That’s my opinion with crypto. There’s no there there.”

    Why crypto is so power hungry
    Instead of operating through financial institutions, which verify monetary transactions among other things, cryptocurrencies like ethereum and bitcoin operate outside this structure.

    Cryptocurrency transactions are verified through a process called proof of work whereby multiple entities on a network will verify withdrawals and deposits in the crypto space, in essence cutting out the need for a centralized bank.

    This process of verification is called mining, and once a majority of computers on the network have confirmed the transactions, it’s updated to a public ledger known as the blockchain.

    “Everyone has the same exact copy of the ledger, and everyone agrees on the canonical state of the ledger,” Reiners said. “And that’s made possible by mining.”

    Mining is incentivized, Reiners said, as miners, like the one coming to Fayetteville, are given a certain amount of bitcoin, or whatever cryptocurrency they are mining, for participation in the verification process.

    “You need to incentivize this mining because otherwise, anyone with 51% of the computing power on the blockchain network could just make up whatever they wanted on the ledger,” he said.

    “So, you impose a cost, and you impose that cost in the form of energy consumption. You have to solve this complex mathematical puzzle.”

    Solving that puzzle is what requires so much energy.

    According to reporting from The New York Times last year, the collective process of verifying bitcoin transactions, annually, uses up more energy than the entire country of Finland.

    It’s seven times more than all of Google’s global operations.

    ‘There’s an opportunity cost to all this’
    Plan C Crypto CEO Antonio Bestard said he founded the company as a means to provide more clean energy to the power grid. He said his company would provide an incentive for Fayetteville to buy more energy that is carbon neutral.

    “I’m creating an economic need for more green energy on the grid,” he said. “We found an economic way to help the city of Fayetteville, help green their grid over time.”

    When asked, Bestard would not specifically say how this process would work beyond imploring Fayetteville to find more green energy.

    “We look forward to working with the city of Fayetteville on how they procure power,” Bestard said. He said he has asked the city to run the mining facility with 100% clean energy.

    And it’s not just Fayetteville. By the time the miner there is up and running, Bestard said, there will be facilities in Tarboro, Wilson and Boone.

    But providing exclusively green energy is not something Fayetteville or any of those municipalities can promise.

    According to PWC, the city purchases almost all of its power from Duke Energy, which has a near-monopoly over the power grid in North Carolina.

    While Duke Energy has a goal of 50% carbon emissions reduction by 2030 and net-zero by 2050, the company has a long way to go.

    In 2020, 7% of electricity generated by Duke Energy was from wind, solar and hydroelectric sources. The company’s projections have that number at 23% by 2030.

    Nuclear energy, which is also carbon free, made up 35% of electricity generation in 2020.

    That still puts carbon-emitting energy at nearly 60%.

    Reiners said the claim that crypto incentivizes green production has no basis.

    “I hear this argument a lot,” he said. “‘Oh, cryptocurrency incentivizes the production of green energy.’ I mean, there’s no basis of fact to make that claim.”

    Even if Plan C Crypto’s facility operated 100% carbon free, Reiners said, green energy could be used for something with a legitimate economic purpose.

    “There’s an opportunity cost to all this as well,” he said.

    More revenue for Fayetteville with no investment
    While Plan C Crypto’s facility will become one of the top power consumers in Fayetteville, Bestard said the miner will not run during peak demand hours, when energy consumption and costs are at their highest.

    Fayetteville PWC CEO Elaina Ball said no additional infrastructure will be needed to accommodate the mining facility. Most importantly, it won’t require any peaker plants, large power generating facilities that often use cheaper energy like coal or natural gas during peak hours.

    Ball said Plan C Crypto will provide needed revenue due to the high amount of power it will purchase.

    “By adding a … 5-megawatt consumer like this, what that does is our retail sales are going to go up,” she said.

    “We’re going to have higher usage, 24/7, outside of that window, right, that peak window. When you generate more revenue off of our system that exists, like an industrial customer like this, it helps offset the cost to serve residential customers in the long run.”

    Robert Van Geons, CEO of the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corp., or FCEDC, said that despite criticisms of the crypto industry, the new facility will be good for the area.

    “It brings jobs. It brings taxable investment, it’s beneficial for our utility system. And ultimately, regardless of how you feel about cryptocurrency, it is an emerging technology that will continue to evolve,” he said. “We’re going to continue to have newer and newer technological innovations in this country, and we want those to happen here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.”

    Bestard said the facility will initially employ 19 people, targeting military veterans. Those jobs will be in the electrical, security and information technology fields.

    He said the lowest-paid employees will make $40,500 a year, while a majority will earn in the $60,000 to $100,000 range.

    Bestard said he anticipates dozens more jobs in the coming years.

    Van Geons said that no economic incentives were made to Plan C Crypto, and there is no financial investment from either the city or county.

    Ball said that beyond the typical costs for attaching a new customer to the power grid, there will be no significant costs for PWC.

    The uncertain future of crypto
    In a press release introducing Plan C Crypto to Cumberland, the FCEDC cited market statistics projecting cryptocurrency to grow by more than 100% by 2028.

    But Reiners said that projected growth is speculative.

    “The only reason people buy (cryptocurrency) is they think they can sell it to someone else for a higher price in the future,” he said.

    “It’s been around for a while. It’s been since 2009. So now we’re 13-plus years. How has it impacted a product, a service, a process that we all use, right? It hasn’t. And so, if it hasn’t happened yet, you have to ask yourself when it’s going to happen.”

    He described the industry as a bubble, based solely on the speculative value of what someone else is willing to pay for a product that hasn’t proved its value, in his view.

    “You’re relying on greater fools showing up, and eventually, the supply of greater fools is exhausted,” Reiners said. “And they don’t show up.”

    He said cities like Fayetteville should not be encouraging crypto companies to come to their area in any way.

    “Crypto is a cancer,” Reiners said. “You’re making a deal with the devil.”

    He cited crypto miners buying up cheap carbon-based power in upstate New York, as reported by The New York Times.

    Reiners said he wouldn’t be surprised if the facility in Fayetteville didn’t exist after five years.

    Even if the company fails, though, Ball said it’s not a risk for the community.

    “If I were building a power plant to support this, that would be a huge risk, but we’re not because they’re not increasing capacity,” she said.

    “They’re not increasing the demand. So, this is just sales. We’re not putting in a power plant to support this because they can move out of the demand window. …

    “I know other people in other communities want to have their own perspectives on the industry — that’s fine. But I wear the hat of what’s right for our community and our customers, and this is good.”


    Photo Credit: Fayetteville operates its own Public Works Commission, a public utility that purchases power almost entirely from Duke Energy. Ben Sessoms / Carolina Public Press

  • Editor’s note: This story was initially posted on Feb. 23 but was updated at 8 a.m. Feb. 24 to include the appeal denials.

    Supreme Court Within hours of a three-judge Superior Court panel’s decision in North Carolina’s redistricting lawsuit, all four parties involved filed appeals spanning hundreds of pages to the state Supreme Court. 

    Then, at 10 p.m. Wednesday, the state Supreme Court denied every appeal. Candidate filing was set to open at 8 a.m. Thursday. 

    County elections staff worked feverishly with the N.C. State Board of Elections ​​in the 20-hour window from when they received the latest maps to the opening of candidate filing to be ready to place state and local candidates in the right districts. 

    “As elections officials, we have become accustomed to adapting to quick-changing situations,” said Pat Gannon, spokesperson for the State Board of Elections.

    Elections officials had to rush to prepare, not knowing if any of the appeals would be successful and if filing would start on time or be delayed yet again

    For now, it looks as if the 2022 primaries will be held May 17. But there’s one possible legal twist yet to play out.

    Republican leadership in the legislature, named as defendants in the redistricting case, are unhappy with part of the Superior Court panel’s decision, claiming it violates the federal constitution. 

    Now that their appeal has been denied by the state Supreme Court, the defendants have an option to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Those appeals usually take some time, and the high court accepts very few cases. It turned down appeals based on similar federal arguments from North Carolina Republicans in November 2020.

    But with one new conservative justice on the U.S. Supreme Court and a new federal hook for state Republicans, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen this time around. State Republicans have not yet released a formal statement saying they will make a federal appeal.

    How we got here

    The Superior Court panel, consisting of Judges Graham Shirley II, R-Wake, Nathaniel Poovey, R-Catawba, and Dawn Layton, D-Richmond, managed to upset every party with its ruling on the maps Wednesday. 

    The judges were guided by three special masters — former state Supreme Court Justices Robert Orr and Robert Edmunds Jr. and former UNC System President and Superior Court Judge Thomas Ross — who were themselves assisted by four nonpartisan experts in political map-drawing. 

    The state Supreme Court had tasked the judicial panel with judging whether redrawn political maps were fair under the state’s constitution after the higher court declared the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s previous maps to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders

    In a unanimous decision Wednesday, the Shirley panel said the redrawn state House and Senate districts were constitutional. But the judges ruled that the redrawn U.S. congressional map was still not fair under the state Supreme Court’s new standards. 

    As a remedy, the Shirley panel adjusted the General Assembly’s map to make it fair under political science measurements that the state Supreme Court had suggested, called “efficiency gap” and “mean-median difference.” This map, the panel suggested, could be used for the 2022 election, and the General Assembly could redraw the map that would be used from the 2024 elections until the state redistricted again in 2031. 

    Legislative defendants appeal

    Republican legislative leaders Phil Berger, Senate president pro tempore, and Tim Moore, House speaker, both among the defendants in this case for their official roles in drawing political maps, said they will challenge the panel’s decision on the congressional map. 

    “Today’s ruling is nothing short of egregious,” Moore said in an official statement. 

    “The trial court’s decision to impose a map drawn by anyone other than the legislature is simply unconstitutional and an affront to every North Carolina voter whose representation would be determined by unelected, partisan activists.” 

    Each of the Superior Court judges is in fact elected, as are the Supreme Court justices who ruled the prior maps were unconstitutional and who will review the appeals. Judicial elections were nonpartisan for 22 years and were publicly financed for nine until the General Assembly, led by Moore and Berger, made the elections partisan again and eliminated public funding in 2018 and 2013, respectively. 

    Legislative defendants think that Article 1, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, often called the “time, place and manner restrictions,” give state legislatures exclusive jurisdiction over drawing federal election districts. 

    Under this argument, the state courts cannot legally intervene when the state legislature draws maps for federal elections. The state Supreme Court previously dismissed this claim, meaning the legislative defendants will likely have to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to have a chance to win on this argument. 

    Plaintiffs appeal 

    Three groups sued the state in November and December to block the political maps the Republican-led General Assembly passed over Democratic opposition. Those maps were the ones ultimately overturned by the state Supreme Court on Feb. 4.

    The General Assembly had two weeks to redraw the maps to seek Superior Court approval on Wednesday. 

    In the mirror image of the legislative defendants, all three groups suing the state supported the Shirley panel’s intervention on the congressional map. 

    One group, the good-governance and nonpartisan nonprofit Common Cause, appealed both the state House and state Senate maps. 

    The group recognized that the General Assembly passed the House plan with near-unanimous bipartisan support, yet still opposed it and the Senate map, passed by Republicans on strict party-line votes, because each map still “dilutes the voting power of Black communities and relies on misleading data to cover up extreme partisan gerrymanders,” according to the group’s press release. 

    The Common Cause plaintiffs were especially focused on the voting power of Black North Carolinians in the eastern part of the state, centered on Wayne County for the House map and Edgecombe, Wilson and most of Wayne in the Senate map. 

    “We appreciate the bipartisan efforts of the trial court and special masters to remedy illegalities in the congressional map, but justice that is partial is no justice at all,” said Hillary Klein, senior voting rights lawyer at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represents Common Cause, in the press release. 

    Two other two plaintiff groups, the nonpartisan N.C. League of Conservation Voters and the National Redistricting Foundation, which is backed by the national Democratic Party, appealed only the state Senate map

    The NCLCV plaintiffs also asked for the U.S. congressional map to last the rest of the decade, rather than allowing the General Assembly to try drawing the map again. 

    In its opinion, the Shirley panel stated North Carolina’s political geography, or the way Democratic and Republican voters self-sort in where they live, explains why the Senate map favors Republicans. Even so, the panel stated in its opinion, the difference is within the fairness boundaries the state Supreme Court laid out. 

    In their appeals, both the NCLCV and foundation plaintiffs disputed the panel’s analysis and claimed the map would only ever allow Republicans to have a majority in the state Senate, despite North Carolina being near a 50-50 state in partisan vote share. 


     Photo Credit: The Supreme Court of North Carolina building in Raleigh. Courtesy of the state courts.

  • Fortuna BMC Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation has announced that California-based IT and business management consulting company, Fortuna BMC, Inc., will be coming to Cumberland County. They are expected to hire 50 call center employees, which are remote work opportunities.

    “We are eager to select Fayetteville for our expansion on the East Coast due to its proximity and connection to Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the United States by population,” said Jack Smith, CEO and founder of Fortuna BMC. “As a veteran of the United States Air Force, I can identify with the challenges presented by the military-to-civilian transition, such as fundamental career support, and helping others understand the skills I can bring to the table from serving my country in the armed forces. After our recent visit to Fayetteville, we are fully convinced that this is a welcoming community for organizations like Fortuna BMC that are passionate about connecting the military community to great job opportunities post-service.”

    Fortuna BMC is an IT consulting and staffing company. They will be working with Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, NCWorks Career Center, JMH Group, Center for Economic Empowerment & Development, The Small Business and Technology Development Center, Fort Bragg’s Transition Assistance Program and the economic and community development departments for the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County to help collaborate on workforce development and hiring initiatives. 

    “Creating these types of employment opportunities for and within our local community brings financial stability, and it eases the post-service transition for many veterans. We’re excited that Fortuna BMC selected our region as the place to create those meaningful connections, which will undoubtedly bridge the gap for the veterans,” stated Rob Patton, FCEDC Vice President.

  • scam alert CCS The Cumberland County Department of Public Health has put out an alert saying there is a phone scam targeting citizens.

    The robocall, which is mimicking the Health Department's main phone number, 910-433-3600, states they are delivering medical information. However, the Cumberland County Department of Public Health states that it would never call and leave medical information in such a manner. The Health Department's policy is to never provide a medical diagnosis or lab results via robocall, never provide a medical diagnosis or lab results without first identifying you as the patient or guardian, and they would never ask for a social security number or payment via robocall.

    Anyone who believes they were contacted by one of these scammers should contact the Attorney General of North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or (910) 716-6000. You can also contact the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office at (910) 323-1500.

  • fadeless 2 From pieces of artwork traveling across the ocean and being exhibited in international galleries to having her first solo exhibition in the United States, 2022 is proving to be the year for local art teacher Aurelis Lugo.

    Lugo, originally from Puerto Rico, moved to Fayetteville two years ago with her son. She never expected to move out of Puerto Rico, especially as a single mom. But curiosity got the better of her prompting her to move to Fayetteville.

    Not long after relocating, she found a position teaching art within Cumberland County Schools.

    While painting murals for local Fayetteville Puerto Rican restaurants, she also submitted pieces of art to different local shows. So when she heard about the Fayetteville Arts Council mini-grants, she knew she had to apply, hoping to help extend her series or artwork highlighting Puerto Rican women.

    Lugo's exhibit, "Inmarcesible," featured eleven acrylic paintings on display in Puerto Rico. These pieces highlighted Puerto Rican women.

    She wanted to continue that series and highlight more Afro-Puerto Rican women who made history but still did not receive proper recognition.

    "Their stories need to be visualized; they need to be brought up again," Lugo said. "Now the thing is that the women that I'm portraying, even though they did amazing stuff, they are not recognized as they should because of two main reasons, they were black, and they were women."

    The exhibit received funding from the Fayetteville Arts Council and will be opening this weekend at Cape Fear Studios.

    The "Fadeless" exhibition will highlight nine additional women and their stories.

    Some of the highlighted women include María Libertad Gómez Garriga, the first woman to hold the position of President of the House for the Puerto Rican House of Representatives and the only woman to sign the Constitution of Puerto Rico in 1952.

    Another woman highlighted in the exhibit is Carmen Belem Richardson, the first Black Puerto Rican actress to appear on television in Puerto Rico.

    "Fadeless" also demonstrates Lugo's outreach into mixed-media paintings. She incorporates spray paint, glitter, molding and all types of materials into the images. She says this showcases her growth and the change she has experienced as an artist and person since her last exhibit.

    "Personally, it means a lot to me because it's like, another goal that I accomplished. And also because of the kind of message that I'm delivering with this. I'm not only showing my culture; I'm showing that My people have interesting people that you should know about. And they can be an example. Mainly [for] everybody."

    Lugo said that preparing for a solo exhibition is like preparing for a wedding. It's a big day, and everything needs to be perfect.

    She says she visited the North Carolina Museum of Art quite a bit while preparing for the opening of "Fadeless."

    "So this is my big thing, and it feels so different from the ones that I did in Puerto Rico. My first solo exhibition in Puerto Rico was in a gallery at a mall," Lugo said. "But this time, it feels very different. Because I'm outside my country and it's like a big responsibility. Because I'm bringing my culture, I'm letting others see how important these women are. And it's like a lot of pressure, but it's also it's a big accomplishment."

    Lugo also has other pressures, as her artwork is currently on display in London at the Boomer Gallery at Tower Bridge. Soon her artwork will travel to Rome and then this summer it will be in Spain.

    Looking to the future, Lugo is already planning her next addition to her series. She hopes to create full-length art pieces that incorporate fashion and clothing materials into her art.

    "This is like a never-ending project that I will continue working on and working on it, no matter where in the world I am," Lugo said. "I'll continue working on it because there are a lot of women that did amazing things."
    Cape Fear Studios & Gallery will be holding a gallery opening for "Fadeless" on Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. The exhibit will be open to the public until March 22.

  • Greetings,

    Thank you all for serving on the Fayetteville Ethics Committee and doing your civic duty. We have proudly published the Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper for over 25 years and have never swayed from our mission and mandate to promote, accentuate and uplift the Fayetteville community while serving its residents. Those who know me personally know I am as passionate about this newspaper as the community. Consequently, I can be highly opinionated and sometimes brutally honest when it comes to the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. Up & Coming Weekly has a reputation for always striving to be forthright and honest and never a purveyor of misinformation, gossip or drama. As a community publication, we aim to bring clarification, insight and opinion to policies, issues and matters affecting the local quality of life. Again, I love this community, and it saddens me to see our City's direction under its present leadership. This love of community is why I am writing this letter and voicing my opinion. I offer my advice and recommendations as the Ethics Committee moves forward in evaluating former City Council member Tisha Waddell's allegations of potential mismanagement and corruption, as stated in her November resignation letter.

    My biggest concern is that you at the Ethics Commission may not have the full context as volunteers and Council-appointed members. You may not know what is happening at City Hall and who the people are making the decisions that raised Waddell's concerns and prompted her resignation. This lack of context could put the entire Commission at a significant disadvantage. The recently reversed and unanimous decision made by the City Council to send Waddell's allegations to the Ethics Commission has only increased citizens' suspicions that a cover-up is in the making. The reality is that the Council appoints the Ethics Committee. The assumption is that the Mayor and Council will not investigate themselves and intend to use members of the Ethics Committee as pawns to exonerate themselves and dismiss the allegations out of hand. Public opinion seems to echo that, if there is no substance to Waddell's claims of mismanagement and corruption, as the Council claims, then why not call for an independent external investigation and be done with it? If "there is nothing to see here," why not have a thorough external investigation? The Ethics Commission's previous decision to dismiss the eight charges against Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins has created even more mistrust and skepticism among citizens. It again confirmed that City Council would not investigate itself.

    Most people would agree, "Where there is smoke, there's fire." We know every member of the Ethics Commission is an upstanding, law-abiding and honest community member. Still, the fact remains they are far removed from the realities of what is taking place in our city government. Undoubtedly, the Commission wants to do its best for the residents and the community. I ask that the Ethics Commission listen intently to all the concerns and allegations brought before you. If the circumstances warrant it, call for an independent external investigation of all allegations. Once the independent analysis is complete, the chips will fall where they may. If there is substance to some or all the complaints, they can be addressed individually. At least, once an independent investigation is conducted, it really will be over and done, and Fayetteville residents will be satisfied knowing that fairness and justice have prevailed. This external investigation is the only way the truth will ultimately come out, and confidence can be restored in our City government leadership.
    Suppose the Commission finds no legitimacy to the Waddell allegations and dismisses the case like they did with Hawkins. In that case, I fear it will only cast dispersions on the Committee and cause more skepticism and mistrust among the Fayetteville residents proving the City Council will not investigate itself.

    Calling for an external, independent investigation into Waddell's allegations is the only way to put these issues behind us and restore citizens' confidence and trust in the integrity of the City government and the Ethics Commission process.

    There is much to learn from talking to residents out in the community. The unsolicited comments from city residents, city employees, downtown businesses, Fayetteville police officers and first responders speak of significant concerns with city leadership as well as concerns over escalating homicide and crime rates, the suspicious dealings surrounding the Prince Charles project and the parking deck fiasco, the halfway house Dismiss Project on Cain Rd. and the Barnhard Capital Partner's clandestine bid for Public Works Commission.

    Again, I thank you for your service to our City and community. I write this as a friend and concerned citizen. You are not obligated to heed any of the advice. However, keep in mind that the City of Fayetteville today is nothing like when most of us started building our businesses and raising our families. We must do everything possible to maintain the integrity of our local government for the sake of those who will come after us.

    A call for an independent external investigation will assure this.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

    Best Regards,
    Bill

  • RHF Meet Us At the Park Rick's Place has planned an afternoon away for the families dealing with the stress of last-minute deployments, a way to connect with other military families and to take a break.

    The Rick Herrema Foundation focuses on strengthening relationships and building community for military families through fun, quality activities. They host events and fun days at Rick's Place, a 50-acre park, to offer children a place to have fun and a place to support military families, so they know they aren't alone.

    This weekend they are supporting families by hosting a Meet Us at the Park event specifically for families dealing with the rapid deployments occurring over the past three weeks.

    "We wanted to do something extra," Vicky Jimenez, director of programs at RHF, said. "We wanted to do an event that would be dedicated for those families who have been impacted by the recent deployment."

    From 2 to 5 p.m., there will be activities, inflatables, games for kids and local organizations offering resources to families. In addition, the food truck, Hot Dog Central, will be at the event feeding families in attendance.

    Jimenez told Up & Coming Weekly that while families are at Rick's Place, they can set aside the stressors that deployment may have placed on them, at least for a short time.

    "The importance of having these events is to connect people to these other families that are going through the same challenges as them," Jimenez said.

    The Meet Us at the Park event will be followed by the monthly scheduled event, Family Fun Day, which is open to any military family. This month, RHF will be hosting a drive-in movie screening.

    "This will be our first drive-in movie. So we wanted to try and give it a chance and give families different activities here at Rick's Place," Jimenez said.

    The 2000s family classic, "The Chronicle of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," will be playing on the big screen. Families can enjoy the movie from the comfort of their warm vehicles or pull up a chair with blankets to watch it outside. RHF will give out free popcorn and hot cocoa to families. The movie starts around 5:30 p.m.

    The two events take place on Saturday, Feb. 26. Registration to both events is required. Jimenez said that she is expecting 100 to 150 people to be at the two events, but they know there are countless more families who are impacted.

    If families find out about the events after registration is closed, they can contact RHF by calling 910-444-1743 to see if space is available.

    To pre-register for the event, visit rhfnow.org/event/meet-us-at-the-park-rapid-deployment-impacted-families-event/. To register for the movie night, visit rhfnow.org/event/february-family-fun-day-evening-drive-in-movie/.

    The next Family Fun Day is scheduled for March 26 and is planned to be a Physical Fitness Family Challenge.

    Families will have a change to compete against each other in several activities and lunch will be provided at no cost. Registration for that event is open.

    Rick's Place is located at 5572 Shenandoah Drive.

    For more information, visit rhfnow.org/events or call the Rick's Place team at 910-444-1743.

  • chesnutt Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 20, 1858. Even though he identified as Black, he could pass as white but chose not to do so. His father, Andrew Jackson Chesnutt, was the son of a white slave owner and his Black mistress.

    His mother, Anne Maria Sampson, was the daughter of a free biracial couple from Fayetteville. Her parents were freed slaves who left North Carolina for Ohio to be with relatives before the Civil War and moved back to North Carolina after the Civil War and the resulting emancipation.

    Chesnutt attended the Howard School. He was a teacher in Charlotte and moved back to Fayetteville to teach. Upon his return, Chesnutt became first the assistant principal and then eventually the principal of the Fayetteville State Normal School for Negroes. At the age of 20, he met and married his wife, Susan Perry, a teacher. They had four children, and one of the daughters, Helen Maria Chesnutt, became a noted classicist and published a biography of her father.

    The couple was increasingly concerned about racial prejudice, poverty and limited job opportunities in the South, so they moved to New York and later to Cleveland. While earning a law degree, Chesnutt worked as a stenographer for the Nickel Plate Railroad Company. He established a lucrative court reporting business that made him financially prosperous.

    Chesnutt also began writing stories during this time. He was the first African American to have his short story, "The Goophered Grapevine," published by a national magazine, The Atlantic Monthly.

    He was one of the most prominent African American novelists who produced profound works of fiction that exemplified racial prejudice in the 19th and 20th centuries. His first short story, "Uncle Peter's House," was featured in the Cleveland News and Herald in 1885. His literature told stories of the post-Civil War South. His first book, "The Conjure Woman," published in 1899, is a collection of seven short stories set in Fayetteville and examines pre and post-Civil War race relations. Between 1885 and 1905, Chesnutt published more than 50 short stories, essays, articles, books, lectures and novels. He also published a biography of the anti-slavery leader Frederick Douglass. Two of his books were adapted as silent films, and several of his works have been published posthumously.

    Chesnutt worked with Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois and became one of the early 20th century's most prominent activists and commentators. He served on the General Committee of the newly founded National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also toured on the national lecture circuit in the northern states.

    Fayetteville State University's library, The Charles Waddell Chesnutt Library, is named in his honor. The library contains a collection of artifacts ranging from photos, legal records and valuable information. The National Association awarded Chesnutt the Spingarn Medal for the Advancement of Colored People for his literary achievements and for the most distinguished service of any Black person that year who acted to advance the cause of Blacks in America. He was awarded an honorary LL.D., a doctorate-level law degree, from Wilberforce University. In 2008, the United States Postal Service honored him with the 31st stamp in the Black Heritage Series.

    Charles Chesnutt died in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 15, 1932, at 74. William L. Andrews wrote of Chesnutt, "Today Chesnutt is recognized as a major innovator in the tradition of Afro-American fiction, an important contributor to the deromanticizing trend in post-Civil War southern literature and a singular voice among turn-of-the-century realists who treated the color line in American life."

  • 561px Louis Huard The Punishment of Loki Unless you have been hiding from a Balrog under a moss encrusted rock, you have seen ads for Amazon's new TV series on the "Lord of the Rings." Several moss-encrusted decades ago, I read the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy during college. The new series takes place thousands of years before Frodo and pals graced Middle Earth. It also takes place without the guiding hands of J.R.R. Tolkien, being created from whole Mithril by writers living in the second decade of the 21st Century. Since Professor Tolkien sailed off in 1973 to the Gray Havens to join Bilbo, I am pretty sure he had nothing to do with the upcoming series. Feeling grumpy about his story being assumed by lesser writers than Tolkien, I decided to investigate the back story from whence Middle Earth emerged.

    Norse mythology is as colorful as Greek mythology is convoluted. Tolkien was a fan of Norse mythology. Today we shall wander through and mangle Viking theology.

    My first exposure to the Norsemen came in the form of an excellent 1958 movie called "The Vikings" with Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and the star of McHale's Navy, Ernest Borgnine. The Vikings were a rough bunch with an equally tough bunch of gods. The opening of "The Vikings" recites a line from the "English Book of Common Prayer": "Protect us, oh Lord from the wrath of the Northmen." So, hop on board Mr. Peabody's Way Back Machine to head back to the 11th Century when the Vikings were doing their thing.

    Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga was inspired by the Norse story of Andvari's magic ring. According to Mr. Google, Andvari was a dwarf who enjoyed humidity and lived under a waterfall. Andy, as his friends called him, could turn himself into a fish on demand. Why he wanted to become a fish is beyond the scope of this column. Andy owned a magic ring called Andvaranaut, which allowed him to find gold at will. One day when Andy was swimming about as a fish, he had the misfortune to be caught by the Norse god Loki. Loki strong-armed Andy into giving him the magic ring and all his gold. Naturally, Andy was not happy by this turn of events.

    Andy put a curse on his stolen ring that whoever had it would come to a bad end. It's not nice to steal from dwarves, even if they are in the form of a fish.

    Loki's background is nontraditional. When Loki was male, he was the proud father of a daughter named Hel, the goddess of the Underworld. Loki also had two sons. Loki was a bit of a jokester. Being bored one day, he turned himself into a mare and managed to get in the horsey family way by a stallion. While in his mare form, Loki gave birth to an eight-legged colt. Loki enjoyed shape-shifting and appeared as a number of critters, including a fly. He used the stolen ring to bribe Odin to give Loki a pass for killing the son of a god. A whole bunch of sword fighting, dragon-slaying and talking birds ensue from the curse of the ring. Lots of Viking folks end up with the ring, with each coming to a bad end. In one version, Queen Gurun ends up with the ring. Gurun then marries Attila, the Hun who succumbs to the ring's curse, losing his war with Rome.

    Loki's bribe to Odin ultimately led to the death of one of Odin's sons. When Odin discovered Loki's role, he and his buddies are sorely vexed. Trigger warning: Don't upset Odin. Odin turned Loki's son Vali into a wolf, who then chowed down on Loki's other son Narfi creating shredded Narfi. The gods plucked out Narfi's unchewed organs and turned them into iron bands. Odin used the iron bands to fasten Loki to a rock. Some might consider being chained to a rock with the vital organs of a child to be a pretty harsh punishment. But not the Norse gods. Oh, no. Like Karen Carpenter once sang, they had only just begun. The goddess of the moon, a lass named Skadi, wanted to get in on the action.

    She caught a giant drooling poisonous snake. Skadi tied the snake over Loki's head where it would drip venom right onto poor Loki, causing him pain and great mental anguish. This punishment lasted for quite a while until Loki's sweet wife Sigyn found Loki. She brought her favorite Calphalon pot to catch the venom as it dripped down on Loki. Sigyn is still sitting by Loki, catching venom even as you read these words.
    Unfortunately, Sigyn must empty the pot when the venom fills it up periodically.

    When she takes the pot away, the snake drool keeps hitting Loki while the pot is being emptied. The impact of the venom makes Loki shake in pain. The Vikings explain that Loki's shaking causes earthquakes.

    So, what did we learn today?

    Even if you can turn yourself into a fish, don't do it.

    Don't anger the Norse gods.

    And always be nice to your wife if you don't want venom dripped on your head.

  • history Before Fort Bragg embodied much of the identity of Fayetteville, the city grew and established itself for another purpose.

    Fayetteville was a vital inland city involved in trade because it had a direct route on the Cape Fear River to Wilmington.

    The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum details the history of Fayetteville during this time through their Cape Fear River gallery.

    The exhibit has long been displayed on the museum's first floor, but it has gained a new addition. In celebration of Black History Month, the museum has put up new placards detailing the histories of African Americans on the Cape Fear River.

    "Finally, we have one of our Black History exhibits that remain up for over a year become part of a semi-permanent space," said Heidi Bleazey, historic properties supervisor. "The river is why Fayetteville is here, and having the acknowledgment of the back-breaking, life-ending, life-sustaining things that African Americans did to help build Fayetteville as a travel and trade community (is important)."

    Bleazey, Catherine Linton, museum specialist, and Emma Freeman, marketing and social media coordinator, worked on the exhibit, perusing census records and old newspapers. Their efforts were fruitful in the form of a new artifact.

    Included in the exhibit is an illustration from a June 17, 1865 edition of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

    The drawing shows an enslaved family escaping down the Cape Fear River. Behind them is another boat. The illustration was drawn by a Union war correspondent.

    "This is an amazing artifact because it represents so much of what we don't know. There's a second boat behind the first. Are they pursuing them? Is that another family? It's just subject to a lot of feeling," said Bleazey.

    "We always look to the primary sources," said Linton. "That's an article from 1865; that story came right from the source that is physically on display."

    In addition to the newspaper, the placards detail the lives of African American river pilots such as Daniel Buxton. Through some research, Buxton's life and person have taken clearer form. Buxton piloted the riverboat

    A.P. Hunt for over 60 years. He was a leader in the Fayetteville community, a founding member of St. Joseph's Episcopal Church. His reputation as a riverboat pilot was excellent, never having an accident on the river throughout his career, an almost unheard-of feat.

    Buxton is said to be buried at what was once called Miles Branch Cemetery, a Black cemetery, now known as Elmwood Cemetery. His legend lives on in the hearts of the researchers at the museum. The women have searched for his headstone but have yet to find it.

    "There's a piece of Daniel that is a little elusive to us," said Bleazey. "He's the nostalgic poster child of a river pilot."

    As research has continued, more stories and names of the river workers have begun to pop out. Several of their names appear on the placards, a tribute to who they were and where they worked and lived.

    "We know so few, that to be able to put a name to these people is important … And I felt like if all I know is that what the census said, then by gosh I'm excited about that and that should be there because there are so many we don't know," said Bleazey.

  • Chili Challenge 2021 The Home Builders Association of Fayetteville (HBAF) comprises builders, developers, suppliers, bankers, mortgage brokers and marketing professionals.

    Founded in 1963, the association has provided members with a variety of resources on the housing industry and opportunities to grow and improve their businesses. Of 62 local associations in North Carolina, the HBAF is in the top ten largest associations.

    The HBAF's third annual Chili Challenge is a friendly competition where members can enter their chili recipes. The winners will have the opportunity to claim the title of first or second place. There is also an Award for Taster's Choice. In addition to the chili cook-off and chili tasting, there will be live music, Clyde's Cabin Band, and beer provided by the venue Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom. The event is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at fayhbanc.memberzone.com/eventregistration/register/964 or on the day of the event at the door.

    Tickets are $20 and allow attendees to taste all the competing chilis and include two drinks. Competing teams pay $100 to participate in the Chili Challenge.

    "The money raised is used to further the mission of the HBAF... to serve, advocate and promote the local building and development industries while fostering unity between members, government and the community," said Natalie W. Fryer, executive officer, HBAF.

    Previous competitor and winner Tracy Mozingo hopes to win a voter's choice award this year.

    "Truth be told, my husband Jeff volunteered me to enter the contest because he likes my chili and thought I would enjoy the camaraderie and marketing opportunity. I then enlisted the help of fellow chili-maker and friend Kim Evers," Mozingo said. "We have won the judges' choice each year, but we'd love to take voter's choice as well!"

    "When we won, I felt shock and disbelief and utter excitement, Mozingo said. "I think I may have screamed and jumped with excitement."

    Evers explains that the competition was steep.

    "We were so excited because there were so many other great chilis out there," said Evers.

    "We have entered every year since it started, which was in 2020. And we won the judges' vote each year," explained Mozingo. "Kim and I each make our own chili, and we marry the two at the event."

    The event is full of fun and camaraderie, according to Evers.

    "It is so much fun hanging out with all the local builders and their teams," Evers said. "It is a fun crowd."

    Chili challenge tip? Evers said, "Ground white pepper and lots of love." Mozingo's advice? "Get ready for spicy fun. Bring your appetite."

    The Chili Challenge will take place on Feb. 25 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at 5435 Corporation Drive.

  • Dogwood The 40th annual Fayetteville Dogwood Festival hosted a media event at the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 16. Run by a nonprofit by the same name, the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival group says that they “aim to entertain the members of our community, promote and sustain new and existing business. Enhance a positive community image, and attract out-of-town visitors, while sharing the cultural and recreational opportunities available in the Fayetteville Area.” While the organization supports and plans multiple events throughout the year, none is larger or more expansive than the Dogwood Festival.

    And, after two years of pandemic-driven cancellations and rescheduling, according to Dogwood Festival Executive Director Sarahgrace Snipes, attended can expect a “full-fledged dogwood festival.”

    “We are back,” Snipes proclaimed on Wednesday evening.

    And back they are, with a record-setting five national acts slated to perform across the three-day festival beginning on April 22 and ending April 24.

    On Friday, April 22, national acts Marcy Playground and Hoobastank will take the stage. On Saturday, April 23, Dillon Carmichael, Kameron Marlowe and Tyler Farr will perform an evening of country music. Sunday, April 24, will finish off the event with headliners The Purple Madness – A Tribute to Prince. Throughout all three nights, local talent will perform alongside these headliners.

    At the media night, festival organizers assured attendees that all of the tried and true Dogwood Festival favorites would be back in full force and “better than ever.”

    Attractions will include: Airborn Aerials performances, Boom & Bloom fireworks on Friday night, King BMX bike shows, the Cork and Fork event will return, there will be a silent auction, Lafayette Ford will present the Car, Motorcycle and Truck Show, there will be a performance area on Hay Street in front of the Market House, a street fair in the downtown area, the Midway with a mix of rides and attractions for all ages and finally the KidZone will be back as well.

    In addition to these attractions, the Dogwood Festival has added new events for visitors this year. The Downtown Stage powered by Piedmont Natural Gas will offer country music on Saturday and Sunday, beginning at noon on Gillespie Street. Ring Wars of Carolina will be hosting a wrestling tournament on Saturday and Sunday at the intersection of Ray Avenue and Hay Street. Local attraction Sweet Valley Ranch will also be out with a mix of entertainment on offer as a new addition to this year’s attractions.

    Sweet Valley Ranch Owner Fred Surgeon spoke at the media event and shared an impressive list of options Sweet Valley Ranch will bring with them to the Dogwood Festival. They will set up on Green Street, where visitors can enjoy a petting zoo with a broad mix of animals, carnival games and even take a ride down the street on a dinosaur.

    Surgeon was particularly excited about the variety of animals with which festival-goers can meet and visit at the petting zoo.

    “It’s about engaging with nature and with our animals,” Surgeon said.

    In addition to these activities, the Surgeon explained that they would have their food truck on site. According to Surgeon, the Sweet Valley Ranch Giveback Food Truck partners with local nonprofits, and in November and December last year, the food truck program raised $25,000.

    Snipes also announced continued support with annual events that, while not directly affiliated with the Dogwood Festival, are sanctioned by the organization. These include the annual Crimestoppers BBQ and the All American Tattoo Convention.

  • 7054393 Close to 5,000 Fort Bragg troops are in Eastern Europe amidst a Ukraine-Russia standoff. Many of these soldiers are from the 82nd Airborne Division - an infantry division that is ready to go anywhere in the world within 18 hours.

    Last week, the deployment of the second round of 3,000 paratroopers began to leave Fort Bragg. Several hundred soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault from Fort Campbell on the Kentucky Tennessee border are also headed to Eastern Europe.

    Several commercial jets graced the runways at Pope Army Airfield last week, waiting to take several hundred soldiers overseas. While the paratroopers were waiting at Green Ramp, the final springboard for deploying soldiers, pizza, fried chicken and all types of food were being given out. The Religious Support Office had religious texts and books ready to go if anyone wanted, and there was a long line for stations set up to handle last-minute paperwork.

    Many of the waiting paratroopers were socializing, rechecking their gear or catching a few moments of sleep.

    Specialist Bryan Flores was laughing with the men next to him. He has been in the Army for almost four years and moved to Fort Bragg three months ago from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

    Flores said this will be his first deployment and going out and serving on a mission is exciting.

    "From the human's perspective, I'm really nervous. But as a soldier, I'm prepared, and because I know what to do, I know my job."

    Flores is stationed at Fort Bragg with his wife, Marta, and her two children - ages 10 and 7 years old. He said he didn't want to tell the two kids he was leaving.

    "I didn't want to tell them to their faces that I'm leaving because, of course, they would be very upset and really scared," Flores said. "It's hard to tell kids goodbye; I'm leaving somewhere, especially if it's in regard to conflict."

    He says it's especially hard to leave his family as they just moved to Fort Bragg and were still getting adjusted to the base.

    "I certainly didn't expect it to happen; it was more of a last-minute thing. But of course, that's what we're here to do," Flores said. "When we are ready to go, we're supposed to go and confront the enemy and protect the citizens of the world because that's what the United States is about; we protect."

    Flores said that if he could bring something home from his deployment, he would try and find a figurine of a historical monument or something that represents liberation from World War II.

    On the other hand, 27-year-old 1st Lt. Alex Blankenship said he would want to bring home a magnet for his unadorned fridge doors. Blakenship, who's been serving in the Army for almost three years, says he was able to see his family a week before his deployment orders came in. They took his cat and wished him a happy birthday before he left. For his family, deployments are just part of the military lifestyle.

    "My parents went through this stuff with my dad being in the Navy," Blankenship said. "So, it's not anything new."

    According to White House officials, these soldiers are not being sent to fight in Ukraine officially; they will support the allies of the United States. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the 82nd Airborne Division was chosen because they were already on heightened alert and multi-mission capable.

    "I think their versatility, their ability to move quickly and to conduct a range of missions across a range of contingencies which is well-proven, that is why the Secretary has ordered them to go," Kirby said.

    One of those missions might be to help support American evacuees fleeing Ukraine into Poland.

    On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to deploy to the two separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine.

    More troops could be mobilized to Europe as the Russia-Ukraine crisis continues. The Pentagon put 8,500 troops on "high alert" in January for possible deployment if NATO's response forces are activated.

  • Kurilla Fort Bragg’s Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla will take responsibility for all U.S. military operations in the Middle East and neighboring nations in the coming weeks.

    The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to confirm Kurilla’s nomination to lead U.S. Central Command and be promoted to a four-star general.

    According to the Pentagon, he will soon replace Gen. Kenneth McKenzie of the Marine Corps, who has commanded CENTCOM since 2019. McKenzie is retiring in April.

    Kurilla is the commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg. He is a West Point graduate who led special operations and conventional forces in Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan. He previously commanded the 82nd Airborne Division, the elite 75th Ranger Regiment and its 2nd Battalion. He has also served as the assistant commander of Joint Special Operations Command and as the Pentagon’s deputy director for special operations and counterterrorism.

    Kurilla is currently deployed to Germany, leading a task force of troops helping NATO allies in the unfolding Ukraine-Russia conflict.

    Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue was confirmed by Senate to be promoted to lieutenant general and take command of the 18th Airborne Corps in Kurilla’s place. Donahue, the current 82nd Airborne Division commander, is also deployed to Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis.


    Photo Credit: Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, gives a speech at the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) change of command, March 5, 2021, at the division parade field, Fort Campbell, Ky. Kurilla spoke on the great work that Maj. Gen. Brian Winski achieved and how he’s excited to see what Maj. Gen. JP McGee will accomplish.

  • court house faytteville Eligible Cumberland County residents at risk of spreading COVID-19 will be provided isolated shelter for the foreseeable future.

    The county Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the renewal of the N.C. Non-Congregate Sheltering program on Monday.

    The program provides shelter for those eligible who need to isolate due to exposure or contraction of COVID-19 and don’t have another way of safely quarantining.

    Among those included are first responders and health care workers who need to isolate from family members because of exposure and those who test positive or were exposed and need to quarantine.

    Those who need to socially distance as a precautionary measure are also eligible. It’s up to the discretion of public health officials, but it typically includes high-risk groups, such as people over age 65 or those with underlying health conditions.

    The county, in partnership with local nonprofits and religious organizations, pays for shelter in a hotel along with other needs such as food, medicine and transportation, among other things.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency and N.C. Emergency Management then fully reimburse the county.

    The county reported that it has provided shelter and food to more than 70 people in Cumberland and transportation to 35.

    Over 92% have been for those at risk of severe COVID-19, according to the county.

    The program will operate as long as the federal government approves it or the governor’s state of emergency order stays in effect, or for one year, whichever date comes first.

    Those who don’t have a safe way of quarantining due to their living arrangements and think they are eligible can email county Emergency Management Coordinator Garry Crumpler at gcrumpler@co.cumberland.nc.us.

    Latest COVID-19 data for Cumberland

    The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies Cumberland as a high transmission county, along with all of North Carolina and a wide swath of the rest of the country.

    That designation is made based on new case counts and percentage of positive cases in the past week. New case counts over 100 per 100,000 people and a positivity rate over 10% are considered high transmission.

    As of Monday, Cumberland has seen more than 350 new cases per 100,000 people in the past week, according to the CDC.

    Among all tests in the past week, 19% have returned positive.

    But that number has gone down. Earlier in the month, the positivity rate was more than 31%, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Based on the high transmission, the CDC recommends that anyone indoors in a public setting in Cumberland County wear a mask to reduce transmission.

    But that will be by personal choice, as the county ended its indoor mask mandate on Sunday.

    The county still recommends mask-wearing, and businesses can still require them if they choose to.

    As of Monday, 548 people in Cumberland County have died due to COVID-19 during the pandemic.

  • State Map Feb 17 NEW After a two-week sprint, the state Supreme Court’s deadline looms for North Carolina’s General Assembly to submit revised political maps after justices ruled the prior maps to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders favoring Republicans.

    On Thursday afternoon, the General Assembly passed the new map for the state House with bipartisan support. Later that night, the legislature passed the state Senate and U.S. congressional maps on party-line votes.
    Earlier Thursday, state Sens. Paul Newton and Warren Daniel, the Republicans responsible for drawing new state Senate and U.S. congressional maps, presented them to the House redistricting committee.

    “We believe that if either party runs good candidates and good campaigns and touches the issues that people care about, either party could have a majority at the end of the next election,” Newton said about the Senate maps.

    Daniel presented the U.S. congressional maps and described them as highly competitive. Both senators described the maps as passing the mathematical measures for partisan fairness that the state Supreme Court laid out as potential tests for constitutionality.

    But Democrats protested, along with one Republican.

    “Boy, I’m really not sure how this map is going to pass constitutional muster,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, during the floor debate.

    The constitutional standard for these maps was only set earlier in the week, when the state Supreme Court released its full opinion on Monday. The court previously released an order Feb. 4 that gave some guidance about what it would look for in constitutional maps.

    Harrison based her analysis of metropolitan counties, such as Guilford in her district, that were split in the proposed congressional map.

    Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, a 20-year military veteran, voted against the congressional maps for splitting up Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the county. The maps followed the court’s mathematical standards for fairness at the expense of keeping communities of interest together, he said.

    Rep. Charles Graham, D-Robeson, partially agreed with his Republican colleague. Graham had hoped to see more preservation of communities of interest, namely a U.S. congressional district encompassing all of the Sandhills region of the state. An early proposed version of the map included such a district, but in this passed version, the region is split into three districts.

    On Friday, the maps will be filed with the three-judge panel at the trial court to review the maps for compliance with the state Supreme Court’s order on what counts as constitutional political maps. The court may also consider maps from the three groups that sued the Republican legislative leaders in December to stop their first attempts at redistricting from going forward.

    As it stands now, the 2022 primaries are scheduled for May 17. Here are the court and election deadlines leading up to Election Day, and the ways it could all get delayed again.

    Trial court to decide, again
    When a plaintiff raises a constitutional question in North Carolina’s courts, it goes in front of a panel of three Superior Court judges. The panel appointed in this case, of two Republican judges and one Democrat, previously said the Republican maps drawn in November were constitutional.

    Plaintiffs appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court, which overturned the decision. The higher court laid out some standards by which the partisan skew of a map, or how much it favors one political party over another, can be measured for constitutional compliance and sent the case back to the three-judge panel.

    Now, Judges Graham Shirley II, R-Wake, Nathaniel Poovey, R-Catawba, and Dawn Layton, D-Richmond, will have until noon Feb. 23, to decide which maps the state will use in its 2022 primaries.
    Each of the plaintiff groups in the case — the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, the Democratic Party-affiliated National Redistricting Fund and the nonpartisan good-governance group Common Cause — can submit their own maps for consideration.

    If no party appeals the decision, the primaries would likely proceed as planned. Candidate filing would open Feb. 24 and close March 4. Then, absentee-by-mail ballots would go out at the latest on April 1. Early in-person voting would start April 28, and the primary election day would be May 17.

    But an appeal of the trial court’s decision from any party by 5 p.m. Feb. 23 would likely delay all that, according to Catawba College political science professor and redistricting expert Michael Bitzer.

    “It’s an extremely tight window that we’re operating under right now, and any further delay will have an effect on the primary date,” Bitzer wrote in an email to Carolina Public Press.

    That’s even before considering the potential complications of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or the legal fight over the eligibility of U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-Hendersonville, to run, both of which could further disrupt parts of the elections.

    How voters are affected
    Redistricting “​​is the most political activity in American politics,” and North Carolina’s voters are watching it play out in real time, Bitzer said.

    As a consequence, voters have seen their voting districts split, zipped back together and recombined in ways that could change who is on their ballots. The primary was delayed from March and could be delayed again. Guilford County has seen some of the most dynamic proposed changes to its political maps.

    But for voters who may be confused or frustrated with the redistricting process, the county’s election director, Charlie Collicutt, wants voters to remember there’s so much more on the ballot.

    Voters could see county commissioners, sheriffs, school board members, bond issues or municipal offices on their ballots come May. Each of those elections is important, so even if voters are throwing up their hands with the state legislature or congressional elections, their votes can still make an impact in other races, Collicutt said.

    Once candidate filing is complete, elections officials like Collicutt will have a couple of weeks under the current schedule to create ballots for each precinct in their counties. When that happens, voters can use N.C. State Board of Elections website to look up sample ballots to see the candidates and races that will be on their ballots to help them prepare to vote.

    Voters can already request an absentee-by-mail ballot, which will be mailed out at least 45 days before the election. Even if they request an absentee ballot, voters can still choose to vote in person but may not do both.

    “​​I’m a voter, too, and I don’t want it to be hard and confusing,” Collicutt said.

    What’s next
    Redistricting lawsuit schedule
    Feb. 23: Noon deadline for the trial court to approve the General Assembly’s maps or adopt maps from plaintiffs

    Feb. 23: 5 p.m. deadline for an emergency application of a stay with the state Supreme Court

    If no party asks for a stay, the elections will likely follow the schedule below. If a party asks for a stay and the state Supreme Court grants it, every step below will likely be delayed.

    Election schedule
    Absentee-by-mail ballot portal is open.

    Feb. 24-March 4: Candidate filing. Candidates who filed under the previous districts and want to move under the new maps can ask to have their first filing negated and refile.

    March 28: County boards of elections will start mailing out absentee by-mail ballots. The State Board of Elections could delay this to April 1 if some counties need more time.

    April 22: Civilian voter registration deadline for the primary.

    April 28: One-stop, in-person early voting period begins.

    May 10: Last day for civilians to ask for an absentee ballot.

    May 14: Last day for one-stop, in-person early voting period.

    May 17: Election Day for the primary and delayed municipal elections. All absentee-by-mail ballots have to be in the mail and postmarked by this date.

  • pexels anna shvets 3786126 Cumberland County will be lifting the indoor mask mandate beginning Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. This comes after the Cumberland County Schools Board of Education voted to lift their mask mandate earlier this month.

    The mask mandate for the county went into place back on Aug. 27 when the Delta Variant of COVID-19 was rising in the county. However, the latest data shows that the COVID-19 infection positivity rate peaked in North Carolina at 36.3% on Jan. 22 and has decreased to 14.4% as of Feb. 15. Cumberland County’s positivity rate has decreased from 37.8% on Jan. 31, to 25.5% on Feb. 15. The Cumberland County Department of Public Health says that the number continues to decline.

    “The COVID-19 landscape looks different than it did two years ago. We know what works and what stops the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Public Health Director. “Masks remain an effective strategy for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Despite the recension of this formal order, we continue to recommend masking in public indoor spaces, particularly and in settings with lower vaccination rates.”

    Masks will still be required in all Cumberland County government buildings, including the Cumberland County Department of Public Health and the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse. Residents should continue to comply with mask requirements in businesses, healthcare and long-term facilities, educational settings, and other institutions as appropriate.

    The Federal CDC Order requires face masks to be worn by all people at indoor transportation hubs and while on public transportation, including school buses and vans, remains in place.

  • The City of Fayetteville held a Race in America roundtable discussion between public servants who have managed Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations efforts since the Commission's creation in 1965.

    Town Hall Panelists included Former State Representative Elmer Floyd, Ron McElrath, Dr. Anthony Wade and the current Commission Vice-Chairwoman Milette Harris as the moderator.

    Panelists spoke about where Fayetteville came from and where the future is heading.

    "When it comes down to planning for the future, you have to understand where you come from," said Wade. "When you speak to these issues going forward, you speak to them based on your reflections of the past."

    The panel said they could use the past as a launching pad to push Fayetteville to a better future. Many panelists believe the roadmap to a more progressive future is through the youth.

    The human relation commission has discussed having a youth commission so the young leaders of the community can talk about the issues in their city and schools.

    "It's never too late, and it's never too early to get involved," said Harris.'

    The vice-chairwoman said the key to impact change is to educate, communicate and listen to everyone in the community, no matter the perspective.

    McElrath says to work toward a more inclusive community; they need to look at where the decision-makers are and make sure that everyone is sitting at the table. He said constant dialogue is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands everyone's perspective.

    "We must never assume that what progress we've gained, we can't lose," McElrath said.

  • Faith Column When we first meet someone, we're often taken by their accomplishments, the way they dress or speak or even the way they enter a room. Rarely though, do we consider the forces of life and nature which made them this way. Similarly, when we see the beauty – or even the desolation – in nature, we rarely consider the long-term change or forces by which it was created. Consider for a moment the steep, multifaceted walls, stunning colors and sheer magnitude of the Grand Canyon.

    For as much beauty as it offers any beholder, it has obviously made it through a very violent past. It is living to tell the story of ice and raging waters, wind and time, which have made it the breathtaking beauty we see today. As humans, though our experiences alone do not define us, we are surely shaped, to various extents, by the waters of experience that have flowed through us, and maybe more so by our responses to them. Every one of us has a past. Measured in hours, days or years, the events of our lifetime have gradually developed us into what others see today. Our tendency is to see objects we consider beautiful without any consideration for the process of its creation. I enjoy giving gifts to family and friends that extend from one of my many hobbies (many, because I am 'blessed' with a short attention span). One of the hobbies I particularly enjoy is woodworking.

    Rather than furniture or items that require great precision levels, I prefer to make small things where the appreciation value comes from their uniqueness. If I really dug into my psyche, I'd probably discover that this actually comes from a sense of inadequacy and that unique, one-of-a-kind gifts leave less room for judgment. But more than that, I believe there can even be a somewhat redemptive quality to woodworking. One year I wanted to do something special for the people I work with at Christmas and decided to make wooden Christmas ornaments. I first pulled a few pieces of firewood from the stack near the edge of our property. After cleaning them up, I began shaping them into rectangles about eight inches long and three to four inches across. After some preparation, I secured each piece on a lathe, which causes the wood to spin at rotations up to thousands of revolutions per minute. At first, they wobble. So, I spin them a little more slowly and introduce a large chisel to take off the rough edges, causing them to be unbalanced.

    As the wood becomes a little more stable, I can increase the speed and use smaller chisels to begin the process of refining and shaping each piece into a definable shape. Eventually, I'm able to use sandpaper to make the newly formed shape smooth to the touch. This is us. This is the Grand Canyon. We are, over time, shaped with cuts both deep and shallow at the hands of a Creator. And just as one can see the beauty in one, or the wonder in another, so is the beauty of our uniqueness. We have all lived a story worth telling, and when we do, we can point people back to the Creator, who had a plan from the beginning of it all.

  • fayetteville logo 1024x585 Celebrating Black History Month is important to many people in this country. None more so than the people in the All American City of Fayetteville. This great city has become home to many ethnicities and cultures. A lot of this has to do with the Fort Bragg military installation. During Fayetteville's annual International Folk Festival, admiration and respect for cultural diversity are highly displayed. However, in February, Black History Month, it's an important time to celebrate and recognize the many contributions and sacrifices and honor the heritage of African Americans who have contributed to the history of the City of Fayetteville.

    Many of us are aware of the nation's tumultuous history related to African Americans and those of African descent. As stated earlier, we want to celebrate the contributions of just a few African American Fayetteville natives. One such person to honor would be the first well-known African American novelist, Charles W. Chesnutt. He grew up in Fayetteville and would serve as principal of the State Colored School from 1880 to 1883. This school would later become Fayetteville State University.

    Today the library on the FSU campus is named in honor of the renowned author.

    In politics, Fayetteville Native Hiram Revels became the nation's first African American United States Senator in 1870. He was born to free black parents in 1827. He served as a minister within the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). There are a few African American firsts in politics in Fayetteville. Marshall Pitts, Jr. served two terms and was the city's first African American Mayor. Ms. Mable C. Smith served as a city councilwoman representing her community east of the Cape Fear River. Mrs. Mary E. McAllister served as the first African American female chair of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners and served in the NC General Assembly, to name a few.

    African Americans also contributed to local religious endeavors. Henry Evans, a prominent Black preacher, has been credited as the father of the Methodist Church, white and Black, in Fayetteville. Sometime before 1800, he built the African Meeting House, the present-day Evans Metropolitan A. M. E. Zion Church. Another native son Harry Hosier, a Methodist minister of the early 19th century, was once called "one of the greatest orators in America" by Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

    We could go on and on about the rich African American History that has come out of and helped shape this All American City of Fayetteville. Still, none of it would mean anything we don't continue to build on it. We must continue to celebrate our diversity. That is done by publicly honoring Black men and women who contribute to the city's history. We must make sure that history brings us together as a community and does not divide us. History has to live outside of the classrooms and textbooks. It must become a lived experience if we are to truly appreciate its' lessons. Finally, we have to make a concerted effort to share these lessons to make not only Fayetteville a better city but North Carolina a better state and the United States a better nation.

  • coffee Gerrymandering.

    It is a word only a sitting legislator in the majority party can love. For everyone else, it is a word that can send us into a deep sleep lasting the duration of any given election year. Yes, it is a boring concept for most of us, but make no mistake. When it comes to gerrymandering — you snooze, you lose.

    Here is a quick tutorial. The US Constitution requires an actual count of how many people live in our nation taken every ten years, and that count is called a census.

    The first census was taken in 1790 and found just under four million newly minted Americans. The 2020 census found almost 334 million of us. Census data has many uses, but their most important role is determining representation in the US House of Representatives and state legislatures.

    For example, our least populous state, Wyoming, has only one member of the US House, while North Carolina, the 9th most populous state, now has 14 members of the House to represent us in Washington.
    Redistricting based on census data is done in all states, mostly by partisan legislatures, including the NC General Assembly.

    The idea is that each citizen has roughly equal representation — that no state’s and no citizen’s political clout is appreciably greater than any other’s based on population.

    It is a simple stab at fairness that has been polluted from the birth of our nation. Simply put, the party in power at any given moment manipulates the census information to ensure that more candidates representing its point of view get elected than candidates from other parties and points of view. It has been done by political parties that no longer exist, and more recently, by both Democrats and Republicans.

    At its basest definition, gerrymandering means politicians select their voters and not the other way around.

    And why should you care? Isn’t gerrymandering just politics, as usual, no matter who is doing it? You should care because the people doing the gerrymandering may well be taking your vote away from you.

    Consider this. If you are a Democrat in a congressional or legislative district heavily gerrymandered to be Republican, there is really no reason for you to make an effort to vote. The Democrats you support are not going to be elected. It works the other way, as well, for Republicans in heavily gerrymandered Democratic districts. Gerrymandering is a theft of a basic right of citizenship — your right to vote and choose who represents you.

    But it is complicated. Over time, various and sometimes conflicting court rulings have made the redistricting process consider the rights of minority voters, the wholeness of communities both by geography and culture and other factors.

    These are often difficult to assess and balance and are virtually impossible for average voters to grasp, which translates into a national sleeping potion.

    Complicated though it is, legal redistricting and its ugly twin, gerrymandering, are facts of American life that affect each and every voter and those they love. You should care because not caring and opposing gerrymandering essentially gives your vote to others whose viewpoints and goals may well be the exact opposite of yours and may promote policies that harm you and your family.

    More cynically, if you agree with the current gerrymanderers, legislators in North Carolina and throughout the nation, the political pendulum always swings. They, and you, will eventually be on the receiving end of gerrymandering, and you may not like that — not one little bit!

    Much less painful and much more palatable is redistricting reform to rein in out-of-control gerrymandering birthed by vicious and out-of-control political partisanship.

  • Sherri and Dewberry Joseph "Bear" Dewberry is a man who values community and giving back.

    Dewberry, who often goes by the childhood nickname "Bear," describes himself as a community partner. He owns several local businesses and has joined forces with the Fayetteville Chamber and multiple other organizations since moving to Fayetteville years ago. While he's not a native, he considers Fayetteville his home.

    Dewberry grew up in Georgia in a military family and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1995. One year later, he was stationed in Fayetteville for the Special Operations Combat Medic Course (SOCM). He was away from his family and his new wife, so he went into town.

    "I went into a small tavern here, and the welcoming vibe was so overwhelming and so overpowering that I wanted to do that," Dewberry said. "I wanted to be that for anybody else to walk through my door."

    He served 22 years in the Army. Most of that time - outside of his 14 deployments - he was stationed at Fort Bragg.

    When he retired in 2017, he knew Fayetteville would continue to be his home. His children were in the local school system, and he had just opened his first bar, On-After Pub & Grub. He said Fayetteville was a place where he could give a helping hand to people who needed help. It's a place where community and community values are strong.

    "Every community has its challenges. Every community has its divisions. But Fayetteville, I think, does a better job of traversing those divisions, those caverns that destroy other communities because we are so diverse because the military is such a huge presence because local law enforcement is so supportive," Dewberry said. "I mean, in other communities where you will absolutely fall apart, Fayetteville doesn't."

    He told Up & Coming Weekly that he wanted to make sure giving back to the community was a core tenant of any of his businesses. So, at least once a quarter, he helps hold a fundraiser or community event that supports a local organization or a Fayetteville community member.

    "We've done fundraisers for the care division, domestic violence and abuse. We've done fundraisers for Autism awareness. We've done it for breast cancer," Dewberry said. "We've created our own charity called the On-After Children's Christmas where every year we link up with schools and counselors and adoptive families and with our family, and each of the kids will get toys and books and food and clothes."

    Nothing illustrates this need to give back, as well as the fundraiser On-After Pub & Grub helped with earlier this month. The On-After team, along with Cape Fear UPA, raised money to help a local family whose five-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. The child's father had to leave his job to help with the treatments for his son. In one day, they were able to raise $7,500.

    In 2019, On-After was awarded the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award, and Rep. Richard Hudson recognized Dewberry at the House of Representatives.

    "They have proven to be a reliable leader in the community and continue to go above and beyond to support the community wherever it is needed," Hudson said during the recognition.

    Despite this praise, Dewberry says he doesn't consider himself a leader or anyone special, just a good guy.

    He spoke about a soldier who reached out to Dewberry four years ago and asked for help. Dewberry said he took an interest in this man's career and helped him get through some troubles he was having. That same soldier, four years later, has been promoted, is a squad leader now, and is serving as a mentor.

    "And that type of passing it on is so much more important to me than passing on wealth or goods or services," Dewberry said. "It's passing on knowledge and passing on understanding so that people can help themselves and then help others."

    The future is looking bright for Dewberry. His cleaning company, which opened during the pandemic to keep his workers at On-After Pub & Grill paid, is doing well. He is also planning on opening a new pool and billiard

    hall called H8ters. It will be opening in early 2022 off Fort Bragg Road.

    Outside of his new business, he is currently planning an Autism Awareness On-After Poker Run. This year will be the fifth that Dewberry has helped with an annual autism run. He says they partner with several local organizations to help raise money for the Autism Society of Cumberland County. The next run is scheduled for April 16.

    "I want to be the butterfly that affects the rest of the world, but through small doings," Dewberry laughed. "Of course, a big, bearded butterfly named Bear."

  • Cumberland Foundation The Cumberland Community Foundation manages more than 60 scholarship endowment funds created by local individuals, families, civic organizations and corporations who want to provide a path to higher education for future generations.

    “Right now we are getting ready to open the community scholarship cycle, and the applications will be available online starting Wednesday, Feb. 16,” said Mary Holmes, president/CEO, Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc. “Between now and then, students should complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and this is the process the foundation uses to verify financial need.”

    She added, “Most of the scholarships are based on financial need, academic achievement and community service, but we do have a few that are not need-based and are achievement-based only.”

    “So the student will go online between Wednesday, Feb. 16 and Wednesday, March 23 to fill out the application and answer questions about themselves,” said Holmes. “The questions want to know the high school you attend, which colleges you want to attend, your grade point average (GPA) and your intended major in college.”

    Holmes added the online system would present the opportunities for which the student is eligible, and the applications will pop up for the student to apply.

    Each year, Cumberland Community Foundation awards more than $900,000 in college scholarships to students from southeastern North Carolina. The Cumberland Community Foundation Scholarship Committee selects most scholarships. A few scholarships are selected by external selection committees at the individual high schools. High school students should check with their school’s guidance office to learn about scholarship opportunities.

    “A lot of scholarships are narrowed down to a specific high school, and for example, the John Thomas Gibson Memorial Scholarship is for a student going from E. E. Smith High School to North Carolina A & T University,” said Holmes. “Some of our scholarships are for students in any high school in Cumberland County going to any college, and they just have to go online and apply to be presented with all of the opportunities.”

    “We have a wonderful committee of mostly retired educators that serve as our scholarship selection committee,” said Holmes. “They read all of the applications, make the selection, and then they score all of the applications based on the priorities that the donor established.”

    She added, “For example, a donor may want 50% of the points based on financial need, 25% on academic success, and 25% on community service.”

    “We just completed the process of selecting 21 students for the Robert H. Short scholarship, and he left 10 million dollars to the Cumberland Community Foundation to help local students go to college,” said Holmes. “Those students will receive up to $30,000 payable over a 4-year period.”

    Applications are due Wednesday, Mar. 23 at 11:59 pm. Students will be asked to submit their information from their FAFSA application, their transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.

    Visit https://www.cumberlandcf.org/scholarships/how-to-apply-.html for information on how to apply for the scholarships. For more information, visit https://www.cumberlandcf.org/scholarships/.

  • pexels julia larson 6455778 The fitness industry continually evolves with apps, exercise equipment and the latest concepts in exercise science. The newest buzzword in the industry is "functional training." If you are not in the industry, you may ask what functional training is? Ask any personal trainer or group fitness instructor what functional training is, and chances are you will get a variety of explanations.

    Functional training done correctly has a huge carry over on the way we move in everyday life with benefits for everyone regardless of age or fitness level. Fitness centers have historically modeled their floor exercise stations with sectorized equipment that uses a singular motion for specific muscle groups, emphasizing muscle development based on repetitions and weight. The bodybuilding industry had and still has a significant influence on training and gyms filled with machines designed to target muscle isolation.

    Functional training enters the arena as an added approach to overall training. Fitness centers are seeing the need for functional training and making entire additions for rooms or an area with selected equipment specifically for this purpose.

    Functional training is defined as training that relates to how we move daily. Functional training consists of five daily life patterns: bend and lift, push, pull, single-leg movement, and rotation. Our movements are multi-planar. The planes of motion incorporated with the five-movement patterns are frontal (side to side), sagittal (forward and backward movement) and transverse, which is rotation. As an example, you go to the grocery store pushing your cart, back up for something you missed, select items that are high and low on the shelves, take the items and place them on the checkout, put the items back in the cart, push the cart to the car and put the bags in. Drive home, take them out, carry groceries up the steps into the house and place them on shelves. You may not realize it, but this scenario involves all three planes of motion and all five movement patterns.

    You pushed, pulled, bent and lifted, worked in a single leg motion and rotated. How does functional training help you with this scenario? Functional training significantly impacts life outside the gym and gives an added advantage in the sports arena. Fitness centers add entire rooms or areas for training that are distinctively different in concept and flow. A room might include workstations that involve multiple movements and unconventional exercises. Types of equipment might consist of a ski machine that works you in a forward motion like the movement of cross-country skiing using the triceps, back muscles, quads, glutes and core. A sled machine that requires you to push and pull from one point to the next, which involves the entire core and leg muscles to push and pull. A punching bag works the core, rotation, leg, back, arms and pectoral muscles. TRX equipment, weighted balls, rowing machines, air dynamic cycles and treadmills. Versatile workstations and a variety of equipment that is fun and challenging. Functional training is also becoming part of group fitness classes, emphasizing compound movement patterns that include weights. If you are thinking about joining a fitness center or hiring a personal trainer, inquire about functional training. It can improve your daily activities, sports games and recreation with strength stability, performance and movement patterns. Live, love life with increased movement and strength.

  • CCSO The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office has fired a deputy following an officer-involved shooting earlier in February.

    On Feb. 8, 40-year-old Deputy Luis Hernandez responded to a call in reference to a suspicious vehicle parked in a cul-de-sac on Mercedes Drive with no headlights on around 10:45 pm. According to the Sheriff's Office, while Hernandez approached the car, he observed three people inside. Hernandez asked the occupants to show him their hands, and they complied, putting their hands out the windows. Hernandez, according to the Sheriff's Office, directed a front seat passenger to exit the car, and he did. The vehicle immediately fled the scene, and Hernandez fired seven shots at the moving vehicle. No one has reported any injuries.

    The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Office of Professional Standards, investigated Hernandez’s response to the call. Following that internal personnel investigation, Hernandez’s employment was terminated on Feb. 11. Another investigation has begun into whether the former deputy engaged in criminal conduct in firing his weapon as a part of his response to the incident. That investigation is ongoing.

    Hernandez was hired by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office on March 18, 2019.

  • Fay City Dump Residents could see an increase in their trash collection costs as city officials are in discussions to increase the fee incrementally over the next few years.

    The current solid-waste service, which collects trash and recyclables curbside, costs $225 annually. The fee, which fully funds the operation, is included within the city’s property taxes.

    City officials are proposing a gradual increase in the coming years — $245 in 2023, $275 in 2025 and $282 in 2027, according to city documents. This would result in an overall increase of more than 25% for residents over the next five years.

    The increase would allow for the city’s solid-waste service to build up a positive balance to cover operating costs for 30 to 90 days, allowing for more sustainability during unexpected events, Fayetteville Budget Director Kelly Olivera told Carolina Public Press.

    “A modest increase in fees would create a situation where the self-supporting solid-waste fund carries a balance that could support unexpected changes like natural disasters or threats to public health, welfare and safety,” she said.

    “A positive fund balance would allow service delivery to continue uninterrupted without significant impact to other city services and programs.”

    An administrative report detailing the fee increases was presented to the City Council during a meeting Monday. The council unanimously voted to continue discussion of the possible increases at its next meeting.

    Comparison to other Cumberland municipalities
    Two other municipalities in Cumberland County, Hope Mills and Spring Lake, provide trash collection to residents.

    Both charge more than the current Fayetteville rate.

    Hope Mills bills $250.80 annually, or $20.90 a month. Spring Lake charges the most at $307 a year, well above the level Fayetteville is considering charging its solid-waste customers after the proposed series of increases.


    Photo Credit: Equipment at the Fayetteville City Dump is seen working on February 14, 2022. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Carolina Public Press

  • Spring Lake Website The Spring Lake Board of Aldermen discussed issues with the town's new website Monday evening.

    After years of development, in December, Spring Lake moved to a new website, www.townofspringlake.com. Alderman Raul Palacios addressed various issues with the website, such as grammatical errors, broken links and its not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance – a requirement for government websites.

    The town paid around $57,673 within the past three years on a "poorly developed" website that has yielded complaints from citizens, towns officials and business owners. Palacios believes the previous board pushed through the new website without reviewing all the details. He reviewed several proposals from reputable web developers for municipal websites with around $30,000 for a website. To renovate the town's current webpage would have been about $3,000 to $6,000.

    Palacios and Alderwoman Sona Cooper suggested that the town cut its losses with Vision Quest Venture LLC, the current developer and go back to the previous website created by Biz Tools in 2006, www.spring-lake.org.

    This move will save the city around $3,600 annually.

    "The website has a lot of isses, we constantly get complaints about people not being able to pay water bills, complaints about not being able to sign up for rec events or programs," said Cooper. "I believe the best thing to do is to revert back to our old website."

    The council raised some concern about the $57,000 loss to the town.

    "In my opinion we should cut our losses and run," said Palacios. "We need a compliant website for Americans with disabilities."

    According to Attorney Catherine Bama, if the board wants to try to recoup any money, the town would have to take legal action.

  • ulysses20 taylor Fayetteville State University has named Ulysses Taylor as the new Dean of Broadwell College of Business & Economics. In his role as Dean, Taylor will be responsible for all undergraduate and graduate business programs which include approximately 1,750 students and 62 faculty and staff.

    Taylor previously was the Professor of Accounting and Chair of Accounting, Finance, Healthcare, and Information Systems at FSU. 

    Taylor is a former board member of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Economic Development Alliance. He currently serves as chairman of the Fayetteville State University Development Corporation and board member and treasurer of The Capitol Encore Academy. Taylor has also served as a consultant, tax attorney and Certified Public Accountant for various for profit and nonprofit organizations for over 30 years, and currently serves as Financial Secretary for the Kappa Alpha Psi Middle Eastern Province Foundation.

    "Dean Taylor brings a unique combination of knowledge and practical experience to the deanship. He has proven to be strategic, entrepreneurial, and visionary. He is committed to the overall success of our students and is highly regarded in the field of business education. I am excited about the leadership and innovation that he will bring to the Broadwell College of Business and Economics." said Dr. Monica Terrell Leach, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

  • Amazon Facility Construction will begin soon for several sidewalks in Fayetteville as part of the City of Fayetteville's goal to improve safety and quality of life.

    Currently, Fayetteville includes 2,059,306 linear feet of sidewalk throughout the City.

    “Sidewalks provide numerous health, economic and safety benefits,” Public Services Director Sheila Thomas-Ambat said in a press release. “Pedestrians deserve spaces that are safe and accessible. Fayetteville City Council Members challenge us to offer exemplary City services. The sidewalks coming in 2022 are just one example of services we are proud to offer.”

    Since the start of 2022, two sections of sidewalk projects were finished and are now ready for pedestrians to walk on them. In January, crews completed work on 750 linear feet of new sidewalk with ADA ramps along Ramsey Street between Summerchase Drive and Andrews Road. Some 225 linear feet of sidewalk along Cliffdale Road between Skibo Road and the Freedom Center was finished earlier in February.

    Three additional sidewalk sections are scheduled to be completed this summer, totaling nearly 14,000 linear feet in various areas of the City. Those areas are:

    • Rosehill Road between Stuart Avenue and Hickory Hill Road will see 6,600 linear feet of sidewalk including ADA ramps, bus stops and a retaining wall.
    • Helen Street between Pamalee and Stansfield Drives will get 3,500 feet of sidewalk and include ADA ramps.
    • Reilly Road between Willowbrook and Cissna Drives will have 3,850 linear feet sidewalk and include ADA ramps and bus pads.
  • Cumberland County School Board The Cumberland County Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday night to make masks optional for both students and staff.

    The school board approved the decision with a 5 to 4 vote. The decision will go into effect on Feb. 16.

    "Going mask optional doesn't take away the right of someone who wears a mask, they can double mask, the N-95s are abundant now when they haven't been before," Chair Greg West said. "I think mask optional is a prudent first step to allow those who want a choice and waited for 22 months to have a choice."

    Board Member Donna Vann said that after two-and-a-half years in a pandemic, everyone has their own personal responsibility to protect themselves.

    "That's going to be the choice of each individual," Vann said.

    However, other board members reiterated that masking is a group responsibility.

    "The mask is a public health tool. It's for you caring about me or me caring about you, to protect you," Board Member Carrie Sutton said in opposition.

    Board Members Sutton, Deanna Jones, Judy Musgrave and Charles McKellar all voted against making the masks optional.

    However, the Cumberland County mask mandate is still in place by the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Masks are required indoors across Cumberland County, including all municipalities - Fayetteville, Hope Mills, Spring Lake, Wade, Eastover, Falcon, Godwin, Linden and Stedman. It is unclear how the new school board policy will be impacted by the county policy.

  • sedar I previously reflected on the then-upcoming observance of Martin Luther King Day. For me, it both honors a towering American figure and serves as an annual occasion to remember his (and many others’) legacy in the continuing struggle against all forms of enmity, intolerance and inequity.

    But that weekend saw a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, held hostage on the Jewish Sabbath. Blessedly, after many tense hours, the incident ended without any loss of innocent life when the rabbi and congregants utilized previously learned security preparedness and response training. Ironically, on that Sabbath, synagogues worldwide were reading the weekly scriptural portion about Moses and God’s miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from ancient Egyptian slavery.

    Tragically, houses of worship, schools and all manner of public and private institutions must be concerned with the potential for violent attacks rather than focusing their energies solely on the purposes for which they exist. Some faith traditions, ethnic communities and distinctly identifiable groups may be at more significant risk, but disturbingly, none of us is guaranteed complete security.

    We each receive guidance from different sources, which for me means the teachings of the Jewish tradition. The Bible records that the Israelites found themselves trapped at sea with Pharaoh’s army in pursuit when leaving Egypt. An ancient Jewish legend says that Moses prayed for deliverance, but not until a single man waded into the water up to his neck did the sea split for the Israelites to pass through safely.

    The Jewish views parallel the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” Accordingly, Jewish tradition teaches not to rely on miracles, for they are purely gifts from God and not expectations to be ordered on demand, even though sincere prayer and devotion.

    There are different opinions regarding appropriate steps in considering possible threats, but again I am guided by my tradition. Firstly, to follow in the footsteps of Moses’ brother Aaron, who Judaism teaches always sought peace and the resolution of discord. Still, it also teaches the legitimacy of self-defense if preventive measures fail. Even deadly force may be used, but only when there is no reasonable alternative, as our tradition teaches, “How do you know your blood is redder than the blood of another?”

    And when direct defensive force cannot be avoided, I still learn from another Jewish legend. After the sea collapsed on and drowned Pharaoh’s army, the Israelites sang praises of thanksgiving for their Divine deliverance. In heaven, the angels wanted to join in the songs of praise, but God objected, asking rhetorically, “My handiwork (i.e., the Egyptians) are drowning in the sea, and you recite a song?!”

    The Israelites who were saved understandably rejoiced in their relief, but others need to recognize that even while justified, human suffering still occurred.

    So, it is customary at the Passover Seder ritual-meal to diminish the symbol of joyous redemption, wine, by removing a drop from our cups for each of the ten plagues suffered by the ancient Egyptians. All human life is always precious.

  • Judas Sometimes we take life a little bit too seriously. That is why we look to the arts for a reprieve. In watching a theatrical production, we become emersed in another world and forget about our unique problems for a while.

    The Gilbert Theater is presenting "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot." It is a crazy take on, as the title indicates, the last days of Judas Iscariot. Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis created the show. It debuted first Off-Broadway at The Public Theater on March 2, 2005, directed by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

    The show centers around a court case deciding the ultimate fate of Judas Iscariot. The resulting decision will determine Judas Iscariots goes to Heaven or Hell. During the show, the characters are in Purgatory. The bailiff is a Barney Fife-like character played by Justin Gore-Pike. Gore-Pike also plays Judas.

    "Judas is a sad, haunted person," Gore-Pike said.

    The play utilizes flashbacks to an imagined childhood and lawyers who call for such witnesses as Mother Teresa, Caiaphas, Saint Monica, Sigmund Freud and Satan.

    El Fayoumy, the lawyer, is in hell and thinks that he proves his worth that he belongs in Heaven or at least Purgatory by prosecuting this case.

    The witnesses are funny and provide comic relief. Mother Teresa cannot hear very well. El Fayoumy gets her earphones, and then she can hear, and she also comments on how attractive El Fayoumy is.
    Saint Monica is brash and uses harsh language, not something you would imagine in a play centered around Judas Iscariot.

    Sigmund Freud is as one would imagine and brings some comic relief to a serious subject.

    Satan, played by Matt Gore, takes a solemn subject and character and makes light of him.

    Gore-Pike describes the play as "a fun, dark comedy."

    The play is not for children as there is a lot of foul language, especially by Saint Monica, played by Deannah Robinson. It may also be offensive to religiously devout Christians and Jews.

    The stars of "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" are Eden Kinsey, who plays Fabiana Cunningham, a lawyer in the Judas case. The other star is El Fayoumy, played by Chris Walker.

    Walker describes the show as " thought-provoking and leaves you with something to talk about... filled with many fun-loving actors who take a serious subject and flip it into something funny."

    "The biggest takeaway is to never be afraid to challenge the system when it needs to be challenged," Gore-Pike explained. "Never be afraid to ask questions."

    "It is more about self- forgiveness than God's forgiveness," said Walker. "Jesus doesn't care what Judas did. He is forgiven."

    In the end, Jesus, played by Michael Ormiston, comes to Judas, played by Gore-Pike, and washes Judas's feet, proof that Judas was forgiven.

  • 1200px Pelops and Hippodamia racing News Flash: The Winter Olympics will be in full force when this column appears. The Olympics are brought to us by that paragon of human rights, Communist China. This year’s event will be spiced up by the Rona, Chinese soldiers in HazMat suits, wall-to-wall nasal swabs, and the inscrutable sport of Curling. It’s going to be huge. Have you been pondering the historic origin of this fine event? The Olympics have been around even longer than Betty White, RIP. Mr. Google reports the ancient Greeks started the festivities around 776 BC. The Greeks ran the Olympics every four years from 776 BC to 425 A.D. That works out to about 1200 years, not a bad run. After a brief pause of 1471 years, the modern Olympics resumed in 1896 in Athens, Greece, for those of you counting.

    Let’s take a ride in Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine to find out how the games began. Like most events that happened over 2700 years ago, the birth of the original games is shrouded in a bit of mystery. Here are three Greek stories about how the games came to be. Uh oh, herein lies yet another column mangling Greek mythology. Beware. Beware.

    Version One says the Olympics began at Olympia when Zeus defeated his father, Cronus. Cronus was not a candidate for Dad of the Year. He ate his children to keep them from overthrowing him. Zeus’ mom substituted a rock for Baby Zeus, which Cronus ate, thinking the rock was Baby Zeus. Hence the term dumb as a rock was born.

    Version Two says Hercules gets credit for the Olympics by celebrating his victory over King Augeas. The King hired Herc to clean out his stables. Herc did his job, but then the King reneged on paying him. Troubles ensued. Herc terminated the King with extreme prejudice. Then it was Party On, Herc. The Olympics were born.

    My favorite Olympic origin story involves Prince Pelops of Ionia. The Greek King Oenomaeus decided to give the hand, and the rest, of his lovely daughter Hippodamia in marriage to anyone who could beat him in a chariot race. Pelops jumped at the chance to win Hippodamia. His love for her was as overwhelming as the love felt by Claude King for Clifton Clowers’ pretty young daughter in the classic song Wolverton Mountain. Pelops’ love for her was big as the sky. He wrote her a love poem promising: “Sure as the vine twines round the stump, you are my darling sugar lump.”

    Pelops went all out to win the chariot race. In the first documented case of Olympic cheating in sports history, Pelops came up with a nefarious plan. He got a team of magic horses from his old buddy Poseidon the God of the Sea. It is unclear if the equines were originally sea horses. No matter. If magic horses weren’t enough, Pelops bribed Myrtilus the Chariot Master to sabotage King O’s chariot. Myrtilus pulled out the linchpins holding the chariot’s wheels to their axles. He replaced the pins with wax replicas. Once the race started, the heat from the spinning chariot wheels melted the fake wax linchpins causing the wheels of King O’s chariot to fall off. King O got tangled in the reins of the chariot. He was dragged to a painful gooey death by his team of horses. Naturally, Pelops won the race and Hippodamia.

    In the case of the old double-cross switcheroo, when Myrtilus came to collect the rest of his fee for waxing the chariot, Pelops refused to pay him. Instead, Pelops threw Myrtilus off a convenient cliff to his death on the rocks far below. Pelops operated on Stalin’s theory: No Man, No Problem. Or the pirates’ theory that dead men tell no tales. But the story doesn’t end there. Myrtilus’ ghost began haunting Pelops. The haunting became such an irritation for Pelops that he realized the only way to rid himself of this meddlesome ghost was to perform the ritual Funeral Games.

    Nowadays, people stand around at funerals viewing the deceased guest of honor saying: “My, oh my, don’t he look natural? He never looked that good in life,” before retiring to the Fellowship Hall to eat fried chicken, deviled eggs and potato salad. Back in Greek mythology days, people performed the precursors of Frank Costanza’s Festivus Feats of Strength by having athletic Funeral Games like races, rassling and javelin throwing.

    To get rid of Myrtilus’ ghost, Pelops put on a giant set of Funeral Games which gave birth to the Olympics. A funeral today with javelin tossing would be much more entertaining than just eating deviled eggs and discussing why the Tar Heel basketball team is so erratic. But I digress.

    So, what have we learned today? Once again, precious little. However, we can now have an enhanced appreciation of the long history of cheating in the Olympic games. The Chinese, Russian and North Korean teams’ efforts along these lines are just following the traditional Olympic Spirit initiated by Myrtilus and his waxed linchpins. Don’t get upset. Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

  • 1892 Taylor R portrait Photo courtesy of MIT musuem How often do you think about your legacy? The fullness of an individual's life, including what one has accomplished and their impact on people and places, can be defined as a person's legacy.

    So, what about the legacy of Robert R. Taylor?

    Robert R. Taylor was a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, born in 1868. He was the youngest of four children born to Henry and Emily Still Taylor. His parents worked to ensure their children's education. As a boy, Taylor anticipated attending the prestigious Lincoln University near Philadelphia. However, he and his father set their sights on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with possibly the best program for aspiring architects. Founded in 1865, MIT's School of Architecture offered the first formal architectural curriculum in the United States and the first architecture program in the world, operating within the establishment of a university. Taylor chose MIT, and that education established him as the country's first academically trained African American architect and MIT's first Black graduate.

    During Taylor's studies at MIT, he corresponded on more than one occasion with Booker T. Washington, the prominent Black educator, race leader and founder of Tuskegee University. As a Black architect, his contributions and sacrifices led him to serve as Tuskegee Institute's (now Tuskegee University) campus architect, planner, and construction supervisor. He designed and oversaw the built environment of 45 campus buildings and illustrated blueprints for other structures. He also formed a pre-architecture preparatory program for students and created technical drafting courses for all the young men enrolled in the Boy's Industries Department.

    The spirit of Robert R. Taylor's impact remains significant. He was a visionary, involved in projects far beyond Tuskegee. These ventures included large and small schools, houses, a lodge, an office building and libraries.

    Booker T. Washington encouraged Andrew Carnegie to support the construction of Carnegie libraries for several black schools, which included three designed by Robert R. Taylor. Among these is the imposing, neoclassical Carnegie Library he designed for Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina.

    Washington also included Taylor in the Rosenwald schools — a program by Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears Roebuck & Co. — to build schools for Black children in the segregated South in the 1920s. Taylor designed Rosenwald schools with sizeable windows to let in masses of light. Many of the old schoolhouses did not originally have electricity. The schools contained cloakrooms, so dirty outer garments could be kept separate from the education spaces. Schools also had room dividers so that the schoolhouses could serve as community centers after hours.

    The Rosenwald school models exhibit Taylor's sense of community in learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future. Taylor retired from Tuskegee in 1932 and returned to Wilmington, where he was active in civic affairs. He devoted more time to civic work, publishing pieces on social justice issues in various newspapers. In 1935, the governor of North Carolina appointed him to the board of trustees of Fayetteville State Teachers College (now Fayetteville State University) - the first Black member of the Board of Trustees.

    The Taylor Science Building was constructed in 1939 and named in honor of Robert R. Taylor. The Taylor Social Science Annex was built in 1968.

    The good works that a person does throughout their life can establish a legacy of compassion, charity and social responsibility. From helping others who are less fortunate or underserved populations, building a positive culture helps make life better for others. Robert R. Taylor's work connected people across space, time and differences. From his early years as an architect, Taylor wanted to do just that. His commitment to engaging the community through a dialogue of architecture encourages us all to share our talents for the good of others.

  • Downtown Alliance Well, it's big news in North Carolina when the Fayetteville/Cumberland County CEO of the Economic Development Corporation announces industry giant Amazon is bringing 500 new jobs into our community with its 1.3 million square foot distribution center. That's precisely what Robert Van Geons reported last week. This announcement marks the second Amazon facility to grace our community. An Amazon delivery center will open on Dunn Road soon. These announcements are excellent news and are a pretty good indication that Van Geons has additional positive economic news forthcoming.

    What makes the Fayetteville community so attractive, you may ask? Well, many things, but I would think the two biggest influencers are our location with easy access to the I-95 North-South corridor and a young and abundant labor force of thousands of men and women exiting Ft. Bragg each year. So, what's not to like about creating hundreds of jobs and bringing thousands of new residents into our community? With this being the case, you would think the City of Fayetteville would be doing everything possible to welcome these new arrivals by showcasing our unique local amenities that create and enhance our quality of life. Indeed, we would want to welcome these newcomers, introduce them to our diverse resources, invite them to engage in our abundant cultural activities, explore our historic Downtown, shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants. At best, you would think city leadership would not intentionally create barriers for this kind of introduction and indoctrination. You would think.

    Well, I was surprised to learn that the Downtown Alliance Vice-President C. John Malzone announced that they would be introducing and circulating petitions asking the City to eliminate evening parking fees Downtown because the Alliance feels these fees are stifling the growth and development of local downtown businesses. The Alliance is a non-profit 501(c)(6) entity of people, organizations, and businesses in downtown Fayetteville. Over the last decade, the Alliance has invested in and nurtured a hospitable, consumer-friendly downtown business district. They have facilitated many changes that have allowed businesses to grow, expand and prosper by implementing suggestions and improvements that have made the Fayetteville Historic downtown experience more inviting, exciting, and enjoyable. Outdoor merchandising, better signage and sidewalk dining options are just a few of their many accomplishments. These business and property owners are located in a Municipal Service District. The MSD requires that they pay an additional self-imposed property tax. This allows Alliance members to have a voice on how these tax dollars are spent and weigh in on policies and ordinances that directly and indirectly affect their businesses and livelihoods.

    Specifically, the Downtown Alliance will distribute petitions to downtown businesses, make them available online, and ask all residents to sign on and support the demand to end nighttime paid parking and charges for event parking during ball games. The petition also supports limiting the number of event paid-parking locations and hours. Free evening weekend parking supports downtown businesses, restaurants, museums and entertainment venues that visitors and residents love and support. This action comes 18 months after enforced paid parking went into effect. During this period, it has become evident that people avoid coming downtown in the evenings to enjoy movies, dining, shopping, fitness and even just walking to enjoy the city's ambiance. Alliance members are adamant that there should be no on-street parking enforcement after 5 p.m. at any time. Without a doubt, paid parking and evening enforcement drives away visitors and customers. It's a complaint heard repeatedly and is becoming too hard to ignore. Paid parking after 5 p.m. and during events on weekends has harmed downtown businesses' cultural and economic vitality. We agree. This practice hinders patrons and investors and penalizes visitors who readily support downtown Fayetteville, art venues, restaurants or cultural events. We don't agree with or understand why the Downtown Alliance organization carries this initiative forward by itself? The evening and event parking fees are a problem that affects the members and operations of several organizations. Is there support from the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce? The Cool Spring Downtown District? Fayetteville Convention & Visitors Bureau? And, the Arts Council? These are questions that need to be answered.

    The Downtown Alliance is made up of business people. Entrepreneurs operate bottom-line, profit and loss operations that become a reality and "hard truth" of their success or failure. These are not agencies that depend on government funding, specialized community grants or donations through the generosity of others. These folks have their livelihoods on the line every day. These small to medium-size local companies are the lifeblood of a prosperous city center. Up & Coming Weekly supports this petition and feels the City of Fayetteville should be doing everything within its power to encourage, support and nurture these businesses rather than continually imposing barriers and hardships impeding their success. The organizations mentioned above, all relevant in their own right, need to step up and support those who have readily and unselfishly invested in Fayetteville's Historic Downtown community. I end with this reality and insight: Every prosperous City has a thriving downtown community. It's time to dismantle all the organizational silos, count the empty storefronts and the businesses that have come and gone out of business trying to support the downtown community, and start working as a dynamic coalition in support of a city we love.

    To support this initiative, contact the Downtown Alliance at shopdowntownfaync@gmail.com, www.faydta.com, Facebook/fayDTA. To sign the petition, contact any Downtown Alliance downtown merchant or sign online at www.change.org/freeparkingdowntownfaync. For more information or questions about the petition, contact C. John Malzone 910-813-7378. And, as always, thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • Amazon Facility Online retail powerhouse Amazon confirmed a new 1.3 million-square-foot facility in Cumberland County last week, bringing with it hundreds of jobs and hundreds of thousands in property tax revenue.

    The “fulfillment center,” where Amazon workers pack and ship online orders, is currently under construction at the Military Business Park in Fayetteville on Bragg Boulevard.

    In an incentive package unanimously approved in November by both the Fayetteville City Council and the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, the city and county will each grant Amazon $1.25 million toward construction costs, totaling $2.5 million.

    This is if Amazon spends more than $5 million on the necessary relocation of a flare site, which is used when maintenance on a gas line is required. The company said it wanted the site relocated due to safety concerns about its close proximity to the facility, according to county documents.

    After that $5 million spending mark, the city and county grants kick in at 50% of additional costs with the maximum at the $2.5 million mark.

    To keep the grant money, Amazon will be required to create and maintain at least 500 jobs with an average annual wage at just under $33,000.

    “It mitigates the additional costs the company may face regarding certain infrastructure improvements that are needed,” Robert Van Geons, president and CEO of Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corp., said in a phone interview Monday.

    “In our case, because our incentives are paid based on performance, it mitigates risk for the community.”

    The company will also be required to invest more than $100 million in real estate improvements.

    The company would bring in more than $800,000 in annual property tax revenue for Cumberland County and up to $650,000 for Fayetteville, according to city and county documents.

    Operations at the Amazon facility are set to begin in 2023.

    How Amazon wages compare to other jobs in Cumberland
    The 500 new jobs at Amazon will pay an average of $33,000 per year, and none of the jobs will pay below the company’s minimum of $15 an hour, which calculates to just over $31,000 annually.

    “That in itself is positive,” Van Geons said. “That is above the average for a warehouse worker and a higher wage than many of our service-industry folks, which is a very large segment of our economy here in Cumberland County.”

    According to the latest wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2020, package handlers in freight warehouses in Fayetteville are paid an annual average of just over $27,000, among over 1,300 workers.

    Among the nearly 13,000 employees who work in food preparation, the annual average is about $22,500.

    Retail workers make an average of just under $27,000.

    Amazon’s average is even higher than that for laborers in Fayetteville’s construction industry, which is just below $32,000 in the latest BLS report.

    And Van Geons said that the initial total of 500 jobs is a minimum. The county expects to see more job growth at Amazon going forward.

    But Amazon’s average wage is still lower than the county’s average annual wage overall, which is around $45,500.

    The company’s wages are also under what is needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Cumberland County. In its 2021 housing need report, the N.C. Housing Coalition estimates that just over $34,750 in annual income would be needed to afford a unit of that size in the county.

    The N.C. Housing Coalition, along with most other affordable housing advocacy organizations, considers a home to be affordable if it takes up 30% or less of the resident’s income.

    According to the organization’s report, nearly half of all renters, who are disproportionately low-wage service workers, pay more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

    Even with the shortcomings of Amazon’s average wage, Van Geons said the increase in hourly wage would still increase many people’s incomes.

    “It’s a step in the right direction for our community, that entry-level wage,” he said.

    “Being able to come in and get a position that in some cases is five, six, seven dollars higher than what was available prior. … It will help people afford housing and all their expenses better than if it were not here.”

    Cumberland’s high unemployment rate
    In 2020, Cumberland County’s unemployment rate averaged 9.5%, according to BLS.

    The rate is higher than the state average of 7.3% and the eighth-highest among all counties in North Carolina.

    Even before the pandemic derailed the economy, Cumberland’s rate trended high. In 2019, the average was 5%, the 13th-highest county. North Carolina’s average unemployment rate that year was 3.8%.

    Van Geons said Amazon’s arrival could start to change that.

    “We do have higher-than-average unemployment here in North Carolina, compared to some of our peers,” he said. “This project is so welcomed in that way. It’ll provide jobs for those that haven’t been able to get back into the economy post-COVID.”

    Correction: The $5 million that Amazon will receive and spend from Cumberland County and the city of Fayetteville will be used to relocate a flare site on a gas line. An earlier version of the article described the purpose of the funds incorrectly.


    Photo Credit: Construction on a new Amazon facility in Fayetteville continues in late December. Photo courtesy of the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation

  • Trenton Powell WEB Fayetteville Police have arrested a 23-year-old man for allegedly murdering his 10-month-old son.

    On Feb. 3, officers with the Fayetteville Police Department responded to reports of an unresponsive ten-month-old along the 1800 block of Gola Drive around 3:59 p.m. The child was transported to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center but succumbed to his injuries.

    The autopsy determined the manner of death to be a homicide.

    Trenton Terrell Powell was arrested on Feb. 7 and is being charged with First Degree Murder and Felony Child Abuse Inflicting Serious Physical Injury. Powell is at the Cumberland County Detention Center under no bond.

  • Fayetteville City Council has decided to not look further into the allegations that former Councilwoman Tisha Wadell made in her resignation letter.

    Wadell asked the Fayetteville City Council to investigate the following:

    • 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.

    In November, Councilwoman Yvonne Kinston asked the Audit Committee to review the allegations and to, as a group, ask the whole of City Council to discuss whether or not to do an independent investigation into the Mayor. The Council voted 4-0 and the motion was going to be presented to City Council at the beginning of December.

    However, the Chair of the Audit Committee, Johnny Dawkins, pulled the item last minute - despite voting on it.

    Dawkins told Up & Coming Weekly that he voted on it initially because it would just be a discussion item, not a recommendation for the council to go one way or another.

    “In the two weeks or so between the Audit Committee Meeting and the Work Session, I reviewed the bylaws of the Audit Committee, and it appeared to me that the issue is not something in our purview,” Dawkins said.

    According to the City’s website, the Audit Committee’s “primary purpose is to assist the City Council in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities for the overall stewardship of the City’s financial affairs.”

    Dawkins told Up & Coming Weekly that he believes these allegations should go to the Ethics Committee and not the Audit Committee since no city funds, or misuse of city funds was brought up in the allegations.

    “There’s never been a time when I was chairman, where I pulled an item like this. I went to enough law school to know that this is not in the purview of the Audit Committee, but the city attorney wouldn’t give me a definite answer on that,” Dawkins said.

    On Jan. 28, Kinston brought up the issue in the Audit Committee. She asked Dawkins why he pulled the unanimous voted-on item from the December work session and he said that he did not feel like it should have been up to the Audit Committee to bring this topic forward.

    However, when the two other committee members backed Kinston up, Dawkins conceded and said he was fine putting it up, as long as Kinston presented it and it had her name on it.

    This all cumulated Monday night when City Council’s Work Session officially discussed a possible investigation. Colvin recused himself from the conversation immediately and did not vote on it.

    The biggest argument against the investigation, coming from Councilman Larry Wright, is that external organizations already conducted investigations into the allegations.

    This is referring to the investigation made by CityView TODAY’s investigative reporter Greg Barnes. He found that there were no signs of corruption regarding Bernhard Capital Partners’ efforts to take over the PWC, however, he did find a lack of transparency by people trying to broker a deal with the equity firm.

    The allegations that Barnes did not yet look into in a published article includes Colvin allegedly destroying public records when he had his cell phone “wiped clean” during an investigation that led to the resignation of former City Councilman Tyrone Williams in 2018, that some council members may have improperly or illegally discussed a special use permit for Dismas Charities, which wants to build a halfway house for federal prisoners on land along Cain Road, or whether building permits and certificates of appropriateness were handled properly for a downtown building that Colvin has an interest in.

    The council denied the motion for an external investigation 5 to 4. The people who voted against the investigation were Christopher Davis, Kathy Jensen, D.J. Haire, Wright and Dawkins. The people who voted in favor of the investigation were councilmembers Antonio Jones, Shakeyla Ingram, Courtney Banks-Mclaughlin and Kinston.

  • Plan C Crypto, a California-based data mining company, will open a Regional Headquarters facility in Fayetteville. The Fayetteville site will be the company's fourth mining facility in North Carolina, one being in Wilson.

    According to the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation, Plan C Crypto expects to create 19 jobs by the end of the year, with more to follow. They are looking for skilled professionals in the electrical, security and information technology fields. The company is targeting military veterans and spouses as potential employees for the positions.

     “Attracting high-tech jobs and new investments to Cumberland County and Fayetteville is a major priority for our community, and this announcement is an indication that we are achieving results,” said Robert Van Geons, FCEDC President & CEO. “Our region is an ideal location for innovative companies focused on business growth. By opening its regional headquarters here, this cryptocurrency facility shows we are a competitive location for technology-driven operations. We are grateful for the support of Elaina Ball, CEO and General Manager of Fayetteville Public Works Commission and her team, and for the hard work of FCEDC Vice President Rob Patton, whose efforts were critical in bringing this project to our community. Announcements like these would not be possible without the support we receive from the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County.”

    Plan C Crypto is expected to go online in the fall of 2022, however, the location of the site was not announced.

    Plan C Crypto’s CEO Antonio Bestard stated that the company is excited to invest in the area.

    “Fayetteville has everything we want to see for a world-class facility, including a business-friendly climate, strong existing infrastructure, and talented workforce," Bestard said. “We will use demand response proof of work mining to bring zonal grid stability at the substation level and bring high-paying jobs to the region.”

  • CCS Feb 7 Homicide Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is investigating a deadly shooting that occurred Monday morning.

    Detectives with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office found 40-year-old Omar Bakar inside a vacant home near Charles Thigpen Drive and Doc Bennett Road around 2:39 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

    Detectives believe this is not a random shooting.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Homicide Detective Sergeant R. Brinkley (910) 677-5463 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers information can also be submitted electronically, by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org and completing the anonymous online tip sheet.

  • Gary Duncan One man is dead following a shooting Sunday morning along the 5700 block of Weatherford Road.

    Officers with the Fayetteville Police Department responded to the reported shooting around 12:56 a.m. 48-year-old Trenton Douglas was found with a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

    Detectives have arrested 52-year-old Gary Duncan. He is being charged with First Degree Murder. He is at the Cumberland County Detention Center under no bond.

    The preliminary investigation revealed a disturbance that took place inside of the residence prior to the shooting and Douglas and Duncan knew each other at the time. Detectives are requesting anyone in the area with security camera footage that may have captured the shooting to please notify the Fayetteville Police Department.

    Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective T. Kiger (910) 705-6527 or submit an anonymous tip at fay-nccrimestoppers.org.
     
  • Wunderkinds The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra has adapted significantly in the past two years due to the pandemic. And it continues to adjust based on changes with COVID-19.

    In the original season schedule, the Feb. 5 performance was a joint performance with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the Fayetteville Youth Orchestra. One hundred musicians would be playing side-by-side in a concert called "Better Together."

    However, due to the most recent COVID-19 regulations, that 100-person symphony could not perform.

    "Our goal is really to just keep moving forward. We do not want to go backwards from COVID," Anna Meyer, community engagement manager for the FSO, told Up & Coming Weekly. "We just want to keep the momentum going that we've built. And we're willing to revise our programming to fit the current societal implications of COVID."

    While the Youth Symphony will not be performing with FSO this year, the professional orchestra wanted to highlight young people and their impact on music.

    Wunderkinds (pronounced Vunder-kids) is a German word meaning child wonders — also known as child prodigies. In the classical music world, many well-known composers people still love today were considered Wunderkinds. Wolfgang Mozart wrote his first symphony at the age of 8, and Felix Mendelssohn started composing around the age of 12.

    The FSO "Wunderkind" performance will feature a local prodigy, 15-year-old double bass player Gavin Hardy. Hardy is from Winston-Salem and won FSO's Harlan Duenow Young Artist Concerto Competition. He began playing double bass at the age of 12, and when he was in middle school, he was the first chair of the Forsyth County "All County" Orchestra for two years straight. Last year he was one of ten finalists from around the world at the International Society of Bassists Solo Competition. Hardy participated in the 15-to-18-year-old division.

    This concert will be the first subscription concert in 2022 as "Too Hot to Handel" was rescheduled for March. However, Meyer says they are still excited for people to come and support them.

    "We've seen some lower numbers than we've seen in previous years, but we've still seen a lot of community members. At our 'Messiah' concert in December, we had around 300 people there. We filled the church up to capacity. So, we are seeing people," Meyer said. "We believe that people want to be out in a safe way and support local arts in the community."

    The performance will occur at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church on Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. The total concert run-time is an hour and 15 minutes with no intermission.

    Tickets may be purchased online, over the phone at 910-433-4690, or in person. Tickets range from $5 to $25, and anyone five and younger can attend for free. For the originally scheduled "Better Together" performance, ticket holders will have their tickets automatically transferred to "Wunderkinds."

  • The Spring Lake's Board of Alderman met on Jan. 24. Among the topics discussed was a resolution supporting the stormwater program, which was approved, allowing the mayor to have voting authority, staggered terms, and confirming the meeting scheduled for Feb. 14. The Board also entered a closed session for just under an hour due to an N.C. General statute for personnel.

    The discussion on the mayor's ability to vote met opposition from Mayor Pro Tem Robyn Chadwick with concerns for abuse of power and Alderman Marvin Lackman, who felt there were more pressing matters for Spring Lake.

    "With everything going on in the town, I think we should concentrate on the issues at hand rather than a vote for you," Alderman said to Mayor Kia Anthony.

    Alderwoman Sona Cooper expressed her desire to see the community have a say.

    "Take it to the people and see how they feel about it and take it from there, " Cooper said.

    Spring Lake Town Attorney Jonathan Charleston said that referendum was possible on the mayor's voting power, and Anthony asked Charleston to research options to present at a future meeting.

    The meeting was adjourned immediately following the closed session.

  • pexels pixabay 47356 It is a myth that adults cannot learn to ski because I started skiing when I was forty. It is easier for children, but these days, many adults are taking lessons. Skiing is an engaging aerobic and anaerobic sport that the entire family can enjoy. The Baby Boomer generation continues to hit the slopes, and it is not unusual to see skiers in their seventies.

    Making a good plan for your ski trip is essential to having an enjoyable experience. Look for a beginner-friendly slope with a good rental department and quality instructors. In the beginning, avoid investing in expensive ski clothes and equipment to see if you like the sport. Wearing water-resistant clothing will help keep you dry when you fall. Let’s face it: you will fall, get cold, and get snow down your pants. Your clothing should be layered, moisture-wicking and avoid cotton because it absorbs sweat and will make you colder. My advice to the beginner is to buy an inexpensive pair of bibs, a jacket, a good pair of gloves and wear sunglasses with a holder strap or goggles and a helmet. Rent your skis or snowboard and go early because the lines are usually long. It takes a while to properly fit equipment, not to mention how long it takes you to get settled and put it on. Go to a ski slope that offers other activities such as ice skating or tubing for other group members that may not be interested in the sport.

    A lesson or lessons are a prerequisite for navigating your skis or snowboards, to learn starting, stopping, and getting on and off the lift. Going straight to the top is no way to learn how to ski or snowboard and can be dangerous for you and the others around you when you are unable to stop. The “bunny slope, “ as it is affectionately called, is there for a reason and a fantastic way to learn and build confidence. Hydration is also a key factor for endurance during the day, taking breaks and eating something nutritious.

    Choosing a slope suited for your level of experience is essential for building good memories and helping you look forward to your next trip. I have skied out west and in the North Carolina mountains, including Beach, Sugar, Appalachian, and West Virginia, including Winterplace and Snowshoe. The ambiance of the North Carolina mountains is perfect for skiing and shopping. Still, the downsides are the popularity and crowds. My suggestion for beginners would be Winterplace in West Virginia, which is usually less crowded with various beginner-friendly runs. Try to schedule that trip on weekdays instead of the weekend if you love the North Carolina mountains to avoid crowds.

    Churches or schools offer road trips or weekends for youths, and these options are a fantastic way for your children to try skiing with supervision. Planning will save you time and money if you decide on taking a family trip. Plan out your lift tickets, available times, ski packages that include rentals, lessons and account for any days that may be sold out. Ski season on the east coast typically runs mid-December through March.

    Adults learning to ski should take lessons from a qualified instructor to learn the basics and opt-out of lessons from those eager friends that want to teach you.

    Enjoy that friend time later while you talk about your runs!

    Live, love life with skiing and snowboarding!

  • CelebrationBHM 01 As a publication, we get suggestions and requests weekly for content coverage. We cannot always follow up on every idea sent our way, whether because we have already budgeted the space in the paper or because we have already committed resources elsewhere. But, sometimes, the suggestion is so heartfelt, timely and important that you just make space where otherwise there might not have been. This is how it went a few weeks ago when Tammy Thurman, community relations manager at Piedmont Natural Gas and vice chairwoman of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber, approached Up & Coming Weekly to cover Black History Month in a unique and important way. We met and discussed her vision. Some stories everyone knows explained Thurman. No matter their origins, some stories are told and retold every February, but there are more. Stories that go unnoticed but are equally important.

    As Thurman explained, stories are repeated every February, and the leaders who are spoken into the fabric of our community and society through those stories are hugely important. But the lesser told stories, shared on a smaller scale, are quietly told among people of color, and they deserve a louder voice and a broader audience. It is these stories Thurman hoped we, at Up & Coming Weekly, would help to amplify.

    This month we will be featuring a series on local Fayetteville Black history heroes. This week and for the next three consecutive weeks, we will feature the story of a Fayetteville-connected Black folk hero. We will share an account from the past that marks the struggles and triumphs in the history of our local Black community. This week we share the story of Isaac Hammond and the Fifer’s Grave, shared with us in an interview with Charles Anderson Jr., a history lecturer at Fayetteville State University (see page15). In the following weeks we will tell the stories of Robert R. Taylor, architect and educator; Mable C. Smith, local politician and fighter for the disenfranchised; and Charles Waddell Chesnutt, political activist and author. We are reaching out to Black community members to help us tell these stories, both through their time via interviews or through their writing.

    In addition to our local Black History Heroes from Fayetteville’s past, we will also be speaking with Black community members making a difference and impacting our Fayetteville community today. Look for our cover story next week on a local veteran artist mentioned on pages 12-13, this week, Damien Mathis. And in the issue hitting stands on Feb. 16, we will be profiling veteran business owner Joseph Dewberry.

    Join us on this journey while we share stories that may get overlooked in national headlines but are a vital part of the unique, diverse and storied Fayetteville community’s Black History. Pick up our paper each week this February or click in via our website and social media to read about and hear these voices.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • Fay History MuseumNEW The Fayetteville History Museum will be opening a new exhibit: “African Americans on the River.”

    This exhibit honors Black History Month and will become a semi-permanent feature in the Museum.

    This exhibit highlights numerous free and enslaved African Americans who were integral to the story of the Cape Fear River and the region, including revered Steamboat Pilot Daniel Buxton. Also featured, are stories of resilience including one of the dozens of free African Americans who traveled down the river journeying to a new life in Liberia.

    Admission is free to the Museum and galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.The Fayetteville History Museum is located at 325 Franklin Street and is operated by the Historic and Natural Resources District of Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation.

  • Antonio The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County Director of Operations, Antonio Renteria, has been selected as an Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC). The ELC is a free professional leadership development program and team-building workshop for early to mid-career arts and cultural administrators of color. Eighteen individuals from each of South Arts’ nine-state region were selected for the second Southern cohort of the program.

    Renteria will participate in professional development and leadership training offered in partnership with South Arts and the Western States Arts Federation. The ELC Program provides tools, continued learning opportunities, and networks to arts administrators of color who seek to build their capacity as leaders in the arts and culture sector.

    Staff, faculty, and alumni affiliated with the ELC Program selected Renteria because he exemplifies qualities in arts leadership and has the capacity to be a leader at his organization and in the broader community.

    “I am committed to building relationships with local artists, nonprofit organizations, and other community partners who make Fayetteville a vibrant and welcoming community for artists and other creatives,” Renteria said in a press release.

  • pexels pixabay 433333 Americans have traditionally valued education in general and higher education in particular. Harvard University was founded in 1636, more than a century before the United States managed to birth itself. As our newly formed nation was gelling, North Carolina legislators chartered our country’s first public university, what is now known as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is worth a mention here that an education-hungry young man named Hinton James walked close to 150 miles — you read that correctly — from his home in Wilmington to Chapel Hill to enroll as UNC’s first student. He was UNC’s only student for about two weeks until some others turned up, for an initial 1798 graduating glass of six. A 20th-century dormitory in Chapel Hill is named in James’ honor.

    Since young Hinton took his long walk, millions of American families have sacrificed and saved, borrowed and sought financial aid to make higher education possible for those they love. Over the centuries, more and more of us have achieved that goal. Higher education has made us professionals of all stripes, led to successful careers in many fields and enriched countless lives the way only an understanding of the world around us can.

    Here comes the challenging news.

    The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reports that about one million fewer undergraduate students enrolled in higher education institutions in 2021 than in 2019. The declines are seen at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, at public and private institutions, at four-year institutions, most dramatically at community colleges and for-profit institutions. The declines are more pronounced among minority students as well.

    While a million fewer students over two years is an eye-popping statistic, the trend is not new.

    College enrollment has been declining for at least a decade, in part because our nation’s low birthrate means fewer 18-year-olds to enroll at all and because the cost of college continues to spiral. The COVID-19 pandemic, still besetting us in 2022, has merely accelerated the trend. “The reality is that the pandemic has disrupted the education of the next generation of young professionals, and that’s going to have immense consequences on the career options, their livelihoods,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director, Student Clearinghouse.

    Shapiro is correct, of course, because educational attainment correlates with lifetime earnings. At the same time, declining higher education enrollment scares the socks off employers looking at fewer skilled workers in their immediate future.

    COVID-19 and high costs are apparent factors in the decline, but other factors may be at work as well.In 2013 70% of adult Americans told Gallup pollsters they believed a college education was “very important.” In pre-Covid 2019, only 51% thought so.

    Both students and parents are debating the value of higher education compared to its price tags, but is there something more? Something more nebulous and more difficult to pin down?

    It is clear many Americans have thrown traditional scholarship and learning to the winds for reasons the rest of us will never know, much less understand.

    How else do we account for Covid-deniers, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists of all sorts—people who persist in their beliefs and behaviors despite scholarship and scientific evidence to the contrary? How else do we perceive a seemingly growing anti-intellectualism in our nation? I saw a woman on television tell a reporter that she simply did not care about the facts. “I just believe what I believe,” came out of her mouth before an international audience.

    We need a visit from Hinton James to help us remember why education is important to us as individuals and as a nation.

  • book black women Book Black Women, LLC will be hosting a night of performance, Feb. 13, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the SkyView on Hay in downtown Fayetteville.

    The concert-like event will feature four local female Black singers. Refreshments will be served by Chef Judy from Uptown.

    "I created this entity [Book Black Women] because I wanted to provide performance opportunities for Black women. With colorism being loud and silent all at once, it can sometimes be hard for Black women to get the shots they deserve," said Ayana Washington, founder and CEO of Book Black Women, LLC.

    Washington came up with the idea of holding a concert in the spirit of Nina Simone's "Four Women."

    "Nina Simone knew the Black woman is not a monolith. She used that song to speak to that, and I hope to do the same," said Washington.

    Washington will perform in the Feb. 13 show herself, reprising Simone's famous song during her time in the spotlight. Washington was born in Fayetteville and has performed with Cape Fear Regional Theatre. She last appeared on the CFRT stage as the Dragon in Shrek, the Musical.

    Also performing will be North Carolina native Desiree Tolodziecki. Tolodziecki has also previously worked with CFRT and is currently pursuing a career in New York. Ashley Jones, a Fayetteville native who works in law enforcement, will also be taking the stage.

    A fourth singer is in the works to round out the quartet.

    "These ladies will sing songs that mean something to them and hopefully capture the attention of people in the audience who would like to book them for other events!" said Washington. "I am excited to watch these ladies perform and tell their stories through song. It's rare we get the chance to be 'unapologetically Black and female' and show people that that phrase has a range you wouldn't believe!"

    Four Women is the first event planned by Book Black Women, LLC. Washington says she plans to stay busy and has several other events planned for the year. Potential performers and sponsors can contact her at bookblackwomen.nc@gmail.com. Performers don't have to be singers, according to Washington.

    Those interested in attending can find information and tickets for Four Women at visitdowntownfayetteville.com/events/four-women-presented-by-book-black-women-llc/. Tickets range from $55 to $75.
    Select tickets will have access to an open bar. Attendees can take photos in a 360 photo booth, and tickets include a swag bag. The event is formal, with black tie attire requested.

  • pexels jacob colvin 1761279 From time to time, we all have things pop up that throw a wrench into the works of our usual schedule, and as it turns out, I'm not immune.

    I work in radio, and I host a local radio show that meets people in their cars on their way to start their day. However, on a recent morning, I had some appointments, so I prerecorded a portion of my on-air work the previous day.

    I typically spend some thoughtful time preparing the things I'll talk about through the morning. I even prepare and plan to talk about what people think about as they head to work or school. In addition, there are remarks I'll make in passing – things that strike me at the moment or come out of something I recently read or heard someone say – and on this particular day, I made one of those passing remarks that caused someone listening to respond with a text message after it played on the air the following day.

    Keep in mind that the number of comments and stories I might share over the course of a week (three and a half hours a day, five days a week) is considerable. Suffice it to say: I don't always remember exactly what I said.

    The text message I received was, "I want to be a bridge." Though it came as a result of one of those comments I made in passing, it was driven by something that had been in my notes for a while.

    As a Christian, it meant enough to me that I jotted it down to keep it as close to top-of-mind as possible.

    What I said was more of a question on this day.

    I asked, "What kind of representative are you as a follower of Jesus? Are you a bridge, or are you a barrier to people coming to Christ?"

    Honestly, these questions should be top-of-mind for anyone who calls themselves a Christian.

    What we do, the things we say, the love and compassion we lack or show – they all factor into what those around think and believe about who Jesus is.

    Just as the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in ancient Corinth, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:20, ESV)

    As an ambassador, people equate the message we bring or send with one coming directly from the one we represent.

    In other words, the opinions others form about the one who sends us depends, to a great extent, on how we treat them as we deliver the message.

    Whether you represent your family, our government, the place you work or – in this case – Jesus, it's best to be true to what you declare.

    And like the person responding to my questions that day, as a Christian, I want to be a good ambassador and bridge rather than a barrier to people coming to Christ.

  • FSU Arena NEW Fayetteville State University will allow spectators back into the Felton J. Capel Arena for the first time since the pandemic. Facial coverings are required for everyone inside a campus building and/or facility.

    The first game that will allow spectators is Saturday, Feb. 5 when the Broncos host Johnson C. Smith University. The basketball doubleheader will have the women’s game tip at 2 p.m. with the men to follow.

    General Admission tickets can be purchased in advance online at fsubroncos.com/tickets or the door. The adult admission is $20. Visiting students and children over five years old are $10. Senior Citizens, faculty, staff, and military with ID are $15. Full-time Fayetteville State students will be admitted with a valid FSU ID.

    Doors will open one hour before the game. No outside food or beverage will be permitted at the game.

  • PNC FSU new The PNC Foundation is awarding more than $2 million to five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina, including Fayetteville State University. PNC wants to establish the PNC North Carolina HBCU Initiative, an effort that aims to enrich the future of entrepreneurship and create workforce opportunities in the state.

    The grants will be distributed over a three-year period to help fund the development and delivery of entrepreneurship resources and programming for students.

    "At PNC, we recognize how important HBCUs are to our state's success," said Weston Andress, PNC regional president for Western Carolinas. "HBCU graduates contribute significantly to the talent pipeline that is fueling North Carolina's economy, and these institutions are foundational to shaping the workforce North Carolina needs to remain competitive in business."

    The money will be used to build the Fayetteville State University Entrepreneurship Lab (E-Lab), an action learning opportunity designed to help students accelerate new ideas and product development. Student entrepreneur teams creating or growing their own ventures may compete for E-Lab funding to help fuel their projects. Additionally, the E-Lab will offer business and economic development support for community members and foster self-employment opportunities.

    Other colleges and universities receiving a grant from the PNC Foundation include Elizabeth City State University, Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina Central University and Winston-Salem State University.

  • 08 01 C CHESNUTTThe Lafayette Society and Fayetteville State University are partnering to present the Global Studies Lecture Series. This annual speaker series will be held virtually Feb. 25 and will feature the life and work of Charles W. Chesnutt, a successful African American writer.

    This speaker series is hosted by the Lafayette Society and the Departments of Intelligence Studies, Geospatial Sciences, Political Science and History at FSU. This series will be presented by Joshua James, Dr. Maria Orban, Dr. Blanche Radford Curry and Nicholle Young. Each presenter will discuss different aspects of Chestnutt's life, from his upbringing in Fayetteville to his ideas about race and the circumstances of the African American community during the rise of Jim Crow.

    Although he also lived in Cleveland, Ohio, most of Chesnutt’s literary works developed from his life here in Fayetteville. Chesnutt attended what is now known as Fayetteville State University when it was called the Howard School. The Howard School was intended to educate African Americans coming out of slavery; it became a top school at the time in the Fayetteville area. Chesnutt served as a principal at the school for a time.

    This speaker series aims to detail the historical richness to be found in Chesnutt’s life as it relates to the Fayetteville community. This event will be taking place virtually on Feb. 25 from 7-8 p.m. with Dr. Rob Taber, a history professor and co-advisor for the Black History Scholars Association at FSU, as the moderator.

    The Lafayette Society has also started an endowment at FSU for “the Study of the Age of Revolutions, Emancipation and Civil Rights.” When fully funded, proceeds from the endowment will be used for continued educational programming, speaker fees, student grants and faculty support. Anyone interested in contributing to the endowment at FSU can visit www.lafayettesociety.org and go to the “Outreach” tab.

    The Lafayette Society was founded in 1981 to bring historical awareness about the city’s past by bringing to life the rich history of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier — the Marquis de Lafayette.

    Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer who served with George Washington in the Revolutionary War. With his ties to the King of France, he helped the colonists gain their freedom from England. The Lafayette Society was established to help preserve his history and remind Fayetteville of the role its namesake played in the American Revolution. The president of Lafayette Society, Hank Parfitt, describes Lafayette as having a “silver halo of kindness.”

    Parfitt believes studying historical figures such as Chesnutt and Lafayette can help us learn more about the efforts of those who came before us in the fight to provide freedom and equality for all our citizens.

    Dr. Gwenesta B. Melton, a local medical doctor who serves as a board member in the Lafayette Society, said learning about Lafayette is an interesting endeavor.

    “Upon careful review of his life, his stance on human rights for all people was visionary in scope for his time." Dr. Melton said. “As an abolitionist, slavery was abhorrent to him. Realizing half of humankind are women, he recognized the value and worth of women and advocated for our rights. Leadership skills came to him easily and at a young age. All these attributes make General de Lafayette an extraordinary human being.”

    “As an African American professional woman, his lessons and visions are just as pertinent now and render a glorious example of how we all can live in a world with peace and harmony. Our Society aims to teach this to all living in Fayetteville.”

    Parfitt said the Lafayette Society and FSU share a goal to “inspire students to learn history.” They plan to continue to sponsor this speaker series every February and expand the event to include more educational opportunities.

    For more information about the Feb. 25 speaker series on Chesnutt visit www.lafayettesociety.org.

    Pictured above:Charles W. Chesnutt

    Pictured below:Marquis de Lafayette

    08 02 la Fayette

  • 07 Larry Vaudeville CopyThe Gilbert Theater has been around since 1994 when it was started in the basement of Lynn Pryer's house, and for the last 26 years, it has produced many wonderful theatrical performances on the main-stage season. “FayetteVAUDEville” was an idea that the board of the theater came up with to produce something new and fresh to end 2020. Last October, the theater put on its first-ever performance of “FayetteVAUDEville” starring Jermey Ruis for his Dark Magic. If you missed that production, reserve your tickets now because "FayetteVAUDEville" is returning Feb. 26 and 27.

    “FayetteVAUDEville” is not just a typical theatrical product that one is used to, this performance will showcase some local artists and their talents. This show will star singers Karen Morgan Williams and Tim Zimmerman; belly dancer Fahada (teaches locally in Fayetteville); and comedian Vadrin Colvin-King.

    “The ‘FayetteVAUDEville’ is a show intended to pull talent from our local community and string the talents together for a fun adults night,” said Brittany Conlin, business manager of the Gilbert.

    From singing to belly dancing, the Gilbert Theater will present “FayetteVAUDEville” to mature audiences on the nights of Feb. 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. This show is not something you will want to miss. The show is supported by a mini-grant from the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County.

    This show will have a max capacity of 25 people per show and tickets are available for purchase at the Gilbert Theater website. Season holders will have to purchase tickets for this show. The theater is very adamant about protecting everyone so they will be doing temperature checks at the door and masks will be required. The theater has already planned the next two “FayetteVAUDEville” performances to come in April and May of 2021.

    The “FayetteVAUDEville” auditions had such a great turn out of adults and children that the Gilbert theater is moving forward with a kid-friendly version of the show entitled “The Greatest Showcase: A Youth Variety Show.” This show will be brought to the public on March 5th and 6th at 2 and 5 p.m. by the Gilbert Theater and the Kids with Hearts for Arts. The tickets will be $12.

    The Gilbert theater has a wide variety of shows coming to center stage this season which began with the murder suspense “Ropes.” The next two shows to follow are “Oedipus Rex” and “Urine Town: the Musical.”

    The Theater also offers educational opportunities, with the most recent being a virtual class taught by Montgomery Sutton.

    For more information on shows, auditions, education and ticket sales visit the website at gilberttheater.com.

  • 06 01 Installation InnerWoven“InnerWoven” is an urban knitting project curated, designed and executed by Fayetteville’s own fabric artist Kia Love. The installation can be found at Linear Park along Mason Street.

    Those willing to take a walk off the beaten path are invited to see how fiber art emboldens nature with color, textile and a tribute to Black History Month.
    Inspired by the bright colors and patterns of African wax print fabrics, “InnerWoven” is a series of five large-format knits wrapped on tree trunks in downtown Fayetteville’s greenway, Cross Creek at Linear Park.

    The temporary fabric installation highlights the importance of textiles and craftsmanship in Black culture. Brightly colored knitwork, black and white accents and unique three-dimensional elements are used to encourage the audience to get a closer look to spark their interest and highlight the importance of handcrafts.

    Kia Love dedicated the installation to all of the strong African American women who have used fiber art as a way to heal themselves, to pass along stories about their lives and most importantly their history. For centuries, Black people were among the most skilled knitters, weavers and sewists in America known for their expertise in textiles and natural dyeing techniques. Women would gather regularly for after hour knitting and sewing circles as a way to create clothing for the community and to teach to the younger generation. Children as young as five would be taught the skill.

    Love is a self-taught knitwear designer and fiber artist born and raised in Fayetteville. Her knitting journey began 19 years ago when she hit a creative rut and needed inspiration. Knitting was a way to challenge herself, regain focus and manage anxiety.

    After graduating in 2015 from Queens University of Charlotte with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture, she decided to turn her passion for hobby into a business. She launched her brand Kia Love — a women’s knitwear and home decor brand. She specializes in fashionable accessories and home décor for the daring individual who loves bold color and texture. Her custom collections emphasize craftsmanship and feminine design.

    Love is passionate about slow fashion, the healing powers of fiber arts and the importance of teaching sewing, knitting and textile design to others in her community. By sharing her gift, she strives to pass down a craft that seems to be lost in the digital age.

    She aspires to educate others on the concept of quality over quantity and most importantly, having something of your own to turn to when the distractions of the world become too much.
    “Innerwoven” was made possible by a grant from the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County's Mini Grant program. The Cool Spring Downtown District, Fayetteville’s managing partner for the Arts and Entertainment district, joined with the artist to bring this unique installation to life in celebration of women who have “Innerwoven” fabric as a means of clothing, warmth and comfort for centuries.

    Visit “Innerwoven” at Cross Creek at Linear Park during Black History Month. For more information visit www.visitdowntownfayetteville.com or the artist’s website at www.kialove.com.

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    06 03 Kia Loves InnerWoven2

  • 05 MetroNet Truck CopyMetroNet and the city of Fayetteville will bring 100% broadband internet, television and phone services to businesses and residents in greater Fayetteville. Indiana-based MetroNet will spend more than $70 million to develop its high-speed system which is the company’s first deployment in North Carolina. Fayetteville, Hope Mills and Spring Lake as well as Linden, Wade, Stedman, Vander, Godwin, Eastover, and Falcon and much of unincorporated Cumberland County, as well as portions of Hoke County, including Raeford and Rockfish will be tied together.

    Fayetteville has DSL, cable, fiber, fixed wireless and satellite internet available depending on the area. DSL covers nearly all of Fayetteville. Common speeds average around 10-40 Mbps depending on the area and provider. Internet is provided using the same cable cords as cable television. Cable internet has much faster speeds on average than DSL. MetroNet will compete primarily with Charter Spectrum for internet, television and telephone service.

    There are also two small satellite services and CenturyLink provides DSL availability. There may be early termination fees for changing service when under contract. Spectrum offers a contract-free, or month-to-month, option. Program prices and internet speeds vary.

    Fayetteville-Cumberland Economic Development Corporation President Robert Van Geons says MetroNet’s high speed broadband service is “state-of-the art infrastructure that will literally link our business community to the global marketplace, at the speed of light. Small businesses and entrepreneurs will be able to utilize and deploy next generation technologies and develop tomorrow’s
    innovations.”

    In addition to television and telephone services, ultrafast internet broadband will also support teleworking, distance learning and virtual medicine. A fiber optic network uses tiny strands of glass which are extremely thin. To be specific, they are less than a tenth as thick as a human hair. Each optical fiber transmits beams of light over great distances. The beams carry unprecedented amounts of data — much more than cable or DSL — directly to homes and businesses.
    Amid COVID-19, the community's need for increased broadband access has become even more apparent for virtual learning and remote school and work. “MetroNet will provide small businesses, start-ups, students and teleworkers with capabilities previously unavailable to much of Cumberland County,” Van Geons said.

    Mayor Mitch Colvin said the company is known for its reliable, high-speed internet friendly service, and fair pricing with no long-term contracts.

    "We've experienced such a warm welcome from Mayor Colvin and the City of Fayetteville since we began discussing this project," MetroNet President John Cinelli said. "It's clear that this community is rich in diversity and opportunity, and we're excited to be a part of it as we move forward together.”

    Projects of this size typically take approximately two years to build, Cinelli noted.

    As the work gets underway, residents will receive communications by mail about construction activity in their neighborhood 30 days prior to starting. The company provides additional messaging, such as yard signs, to let residents know when the temporary construction process is beginning in their neighborhood.

     

  • 04 Hercules boarDo you have troubles? Current events got you down? Did you bet on the Kansas City Chiefs? Break into the Capitol Building only to find the FBI is now after you? No matter. As the Master of Ceremonies said in “Cabaret,” “Leave your troubles outside. In here life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the Orchestra is beautiful.” We don’t have an orchestra but today you can forget your troubles through the German custom of Schadenfreude which is taking pleasure in the misery of others. Hercules had major problems that will make you feel better about your own life.

    Let’s fire up Mr. Peabody’s time machine to find out why Herk was sentenced to hard labor and what he had to do to get a pardon from the Greek God Apollo. Herk was the love child of Zeus who was King of the Gods. Zeus wandered off the reservation resulting in his Baby Mamma Alceme becoming in the family way. When Zeus’ wife Hera found out, she was none too pleased. Heck hath no fury like a Goddess scorned. While Herk was a mere toddler cooing in his crib, Hera sent a couple of large snakes to strangle Baby Herk. Like Davy Crockett who killed him a bear when he was only three, Herk strangled the two snakes instead. Herk was not a baby to be trifled with.

    Although Herk foiled Hera’s serpentine plot, she did not give up her anger but bided her time. Today’s helpful tip for men of the male persuasion: Anytime a woman is biding her time, you had better watch out. Herk grew up to young manhood, got married, and had two kids. It was the perfect Grecian formula for happiness. Unfortunately, it was not to last. Hera put a spell on Herk which made him insane in the membrane. During his period of Hera-induced insanity, Herk in a murder most foul, killed his young wife and children. When he came to his senses, he was stricken with horror and remorse. As Edgar Allen Poe wrote: “I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.” He went to see Apollo who oversaw healing to beg to be punished for his
    dastardly deeds.

    Apollo knew Hera was behind Herk’s misdeeds, but temporary insanity was not yet accepted as a defense to murder. Apollo ordered Herk to perform 12 seemingly impossible jobs to obtain forgiveness and absolution. These tasks later became known as the 12 Labors of Hercules. They also made Steve Reeves a lot of money playing Hercules in the 1950s. To feel better about your own troubles, imagine what Herk had to go through. Enjoy his misery, like a psychic poultice you will feel better fast.

    Herk’s first job was to kill the Nemean lion that had been chowing down on the good folks of Nemea. Herk fought the lion and strangled him in his very own den. Not being one to waste a good lion skin and having an excellent fashion sense, Herk wore the lion’s hide as a cape from then on. His next task was to kill the 9-headed hydra snake. The problem with the hydra was when you cut off one head, like a hungry relative it would come right back. Herk solved that problem with the help of his nephew who took a torch to the stump of the head as soon as Herk cut off the head. The torch cauterized the stump and prevented the regrowth of the head.

    Herk then had to capture the favorite pet deer of the Goddess Diana. Apollo figured that Diana would never let Herk take her pet, but Apollo did not count on Herk’s charm with the ladies. He sweet-talked Diana into giving him the deer. Next up was catching the giant man-eating Erymanthean boar. This is not to be confused with your uncle Fred who is a stultifying bore. Herk made a big net and caught the boar. Then it was barbecue, black eyed peas and hushpuppies for the whole town. Next it was on to clean up the Augean stables where zillions of cattle had been doing their bovine business for centuries without anyone cleaning out the stables. It was a dirty job but Herk did it by changing the course of two rivers to flood the stables and wash the cattle poop away. This was before the EPA and no environmental impact statement had to be filed.

    Herk moved on to a little town called Stymphalos which had an even worse problem with a ravenous flock of birds than the town of Bodega Bay, California, in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” The Stymphalan birds weren’t satisfied with just pecking the townsfolk, no Siree Bob, those birds ate the people like so much sunflower seed. Once again, Herk’s way with the ladies came to his rescue. He direct messaged the Goddess Athena for help with his avian issue. She gave him some cool bronze noise makers called krotala. Herk clanged the heck out of the krotala and the angry birds flew away never to bother the town again.

    Unfortunately, we have reached the first six labors of Hercules but have run out of space in today’s column. Kindly come back in two weeks, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel to find out what Herk’s final six labors are and learn whether Herk obtains immortality. Now don’t you feel a little better about your own troubles? See I told you so. Herk was in a pickle. The worst is yet to come. Odds are you will not have to fight any 9-headed snakes, carnivorous birds, or muck out a giant stable tonight. Rejoice in the Schadenfreude that Herk has made and be glad in it.

    To be continued …

  • 03 USCapitolFlagsChances are that at one time or another, you have sat down at your kitchen table and planned out a budget or balanced your checkbook for your family. For most of us, budgeting means making some tough decisions and compromising to make ends meet. Unfortunately, setting a budget does not look the same for Washington Democrats.

    Recently, House Democrats voted to pass their budget for the upcoming year. Not only did their plan open the door for massive spending, but it also paved the way to pass multiple spending bills without one Republican vote. This includes President Joe Biden’s latest $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending bill – a bill that funds many unrelated items. If anything can be bipartisan in Washington, defeating the coronavirus should be at the top of the list. However through this budget resolution, Washington Democrats have signaled that talk of unity and bipartisanship were just that and they have no interest in working together to tackle the issues facing us.

    President Biden’s partisan relief plan is incredibly expensive and comes while over $1 trillion in funds from previously-enacted COVID-19 legislation remains unspent. Let me say that again - $1 trillion that we have already approved is sitting there unspent. This includes $280 billion remaining for the Paycheck Protection Program, $239 billion unspent for health care measures, $172 billion unspent for unemployment insurance, and $59 billion unspent for schools. Now adding an additional $1.9 trillion on top of this unspent funding not only represents a massive undertaking six times larger than the 2009 Obama stimulus plan, but this is all borrowed money and we can’t afford to keep borrowing and spending blindly.

    Instead, we should continue to identify and fund the real needs of workers, small businesses and health care professionals on the frontlines of battling coronavirus in our community. I stand ready to continue working with Democrats to combat coronavirus, speed up vaccine distribution, and find ways to increase jobs and opportunities for you and our neighbors. However, using COVID-19 relief as a Trojan Horse for massive spending and radical policies that threaten jobs is not what American workers and families need.

    Unfortunately, this is par for the course with President Biden’s agenda so far. By signing more than 40 executive actions, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline, and ending federal oil and gas leasing, he has jeopardized thousands of American jobs. I fear the President is more concerned with fulfilling a left-wing partisan climate agenda than creating jobs or being a “President
    for all.”

    Now, President Biden’s most recent executive actions have done more than kill jobs and put our economy in danger - they have put our national security at risk. Recently, President Biden reinstated catch and release and promised to dramatically rollback the immigration policies of the previous Administration to prioritize undocumented illegal aliens.

    President Biden’s proposed Create a Pathway to Citizenship for Undocumented Aliens legislation prioritizes immigrants during a time when American citizens and businesses are hurting. The bill doubles-down on family-based immigration, clearing backlogs through amnesty, and increasing the number of visas we issue. The bill will also allow undocumented individuals to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for green cards after five years. And, President Biden’s decision to end construction of the border wall is a signal that he is not concerned about addressing border security.

    These priorities of the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress continue to miss the mark. However, I won’t give up. I remain committed to working across the aisle for common sense solutions to the problems we face, including rebuilding our economy, passing targeted COVID-19 relief and reopening our schools. And like you and I have to do, I’ll continue to push our government to balance its checkbook along the way.

  • 02 Kiwanis CheckAfter five decades of living in Fayetteville, I never thought I could have learned so much and been so proud of an organization and project than I am of the Fayetteville Kiwanis Club and the celebration of their 100th Anniversary.

    Not only did I get a profound community history lesson, but I became overwhelmed with pride at the work ethic, dedication and intestinal fortitude demonstrated by Fayetteville’s founding leadership. Ten decades of infectious and motivating intentions is best described in only two words: Do good.

    Writing, producing and designing the Fayetteville Kiwanis 100th Anniversary Edition of Up & Coming Weekly was an actual labor of love not only for me but for our entire staff. For most, it provided them their very first insights into the origins, vision and rich history of our community. It created for them a foundation of pride and a better understanding of our community. I think it mostly made them aware of the immense and abundant empathy, compassion, kindness and sense of generosity that Fayetteville residents naturally radiate out to humanity.

    Well, our newspaper realized this twenty-five years ago and built an entire publishing company showcasing and accentuating Fayetteville’s unique benevolence. A benevolence we are proud of and one we need not profit from. Our small financial donation of proceeds from the issue goes to the Fayetteville Kiwanis Club to help support the work and significant impact they have on children in our community through the hosting of dozens of local programs.

    I have found that two sayings have always been accurate and have never failed to motivate and inspire me: One — Always do the right things for the right reasons. Two — KIDS NEED KIWANIS!

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

    Pictured: Publisher Bill Bowman (right) and Jim Schaffer (left) present a check to Kiwanis of Fayetteville President George Turner (center). The proceeds from the Jan. 20 commemorative Kiwanis issue of Up & Coming Weekly will help support local programs benefitting kids.

  • 01 01 Elaina BallThe Fayetteville Public Works Commission welcomed Elaina Ball as the new Chief Executive Officer and General Manager in December. Ball, who has 14 years of utility experience, is the first female leader in PWC’s 115-year history and just the 9th CEO/General Manager.

    “Elaina has a wealth of experience in the electric industry, including generation, which is a huge asset for us,” said PWC Chair Wade Fowler.

    “She’s been a leader at outstanding utilities including public power utilities in San Antonio and Austin, Texas," Fowler said. "She was highly sought after by several other organizations and we are very fortunate that she chose PWC and Fayetteville. We are excited about the future of PWC and what she brings to it.”

    Ball came to PWC from El Paso Electric where she served as Senior Vice President in Operations and Administration roles. Since 2018, she oversaw functional areas of the company including Power Generation, Power Marketing, T&D, Customer Care, Technology, Safety, Environmental and Public Relations and Corporate Communications.

    She was responsible for over 800 employees and helped El Paso set new records for annual customer satisfaction scores and earn its first JD Power top performing utility award in 2019. El Paso Electric is a regional electric utility that serves over 400,000 customers in west Texas and southern New Mexico.

    Prior to joining El Paso Electric, Ball worked at Austin Energy, the publicly owned electric utility serving 450,000 customers in the Austin, Texas, area.

    Ball served as Vice President, Technical Services at CPS Energy, the municipally owned electric and gas utility serving over 800,000 customers in the greater San Antonio area from 2006-2012.

    Fayetteville PWC is a municipally owned utility that provides electric, water and wastewater service to over 118,000 customers in Fayetteville/Cumberland County. PWC has over 600 employees and is the 37th largest municipal electric utility
    in the U.S.

    “I’m very excited to join the great team at PWC and for our family to be a part of this community,” said Ball. “PWC is a significant asset and plays a vital role in the community’s success. It is known throughout both the electric and water utility industry for its excellent operations and I look forward to continuing the legacy of strong leadership at PWC and continuing that excellence of providing safe and reliable service to our customers.”

    Among Ball’s priorities is taking care of the team and customers and getting to know them better, she said.

    “It's been terrific so far, the community has been so welcoming I have met so many different people from different industries, different fields and different walks of life and that’s something that struck me and it’s actually a big difference here in Fayetteville compared to the other utilities I was looking at before coming here,” Ball said.

    With Ball’s leadership Fayetteville PWC is looking forward to updating its strategic plan, system work to maintain reliable service and supporting several projects already underway.

    One such project is the PWC Community Solar, North Carolina’s first municipal community solar farm. The farm is a large-scale, ground-mount solar array offering electric customers a shared renewable energy option and an alternate to rooftop solar. Customers pay a monthly subscription fee and in exchange, receive a bill credit for the value of the solar less the cost to operate. All electric customers can participate as a subscriber in the program.

    There are a number of benefits to the Community Solar project. It adds renewable energy to the local power grid without the effort and expense of installing solar panels at a home or business. Customers get paid for a portion of the power generated by the solar array.

    Ball mentioned that anyone interested in helping provide cleaner, greener power for the community can visit the PWC website to learn more about installing panels, bill credits and moving toward an increased use of clean energy.

    Among Ball’s priorities as the CEO and General Manager is ensuring that PWC remains customer-focused and keeps services safe and reliable while remaining cost affordable, she said. A personal driver and focus area for Ball is the improvement of the supply chain to help grow opportunities for local and diverse businesses, she said.

    “As far as day-to-day, I am trying to spend the day in the field, trying to get to know our employees, see our facilities,” Ball said. “We are budgeting right now, and it really helps me get the sense of needs that the system has while getting to see the people, equipment and the business and challenges,” she said.

    A native Texan, Ball attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only about one-quarter of those working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, widely referred to as STEM, are women.

    The number of women entering the professional fields of STEM is slowly growing around the world, but there is still a sizable gender gap in these professions.

    Many women who do enter STEM fields and have successful careers like Ball do not necessarily consider themselves trailblazers, but simply do the best job they can in a field they enjoy.

    In high school, Ball realized her love for mathematics and chemistry which led her to picking her current career path.

    “I am a process person and love problem solving and being a chemical engineer is perfect for that,” she said. With a background in leadership roles, Ball said it is exciting to have this opportunity at PWC while representing women in a traditionally male career field.

    Aside from work, Ball is looking forward to becoming more involved in the Fayetteville and Cumberland County communities. While working in Texas, Ball was an active civic leader, serving on the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Board of Directors. She is also a current Board of Directors member of the Association of Women in Energy.

    An avid reader and snow skier, Ball is currently a member of the Fayetteville Running Club and hopes to join the local Kiwanis chapter and also find a local church to attend. Ball is married and has two children, but her family is still in Texas for now.

    “But we have bought a house in the area and are renovating,” she said. “So I am really looking forward to my family joining me this spring.”

    Pictured below: PWC CEO/General Manager Elaina Ball splits her time between work in the office and field visits getting to know PWC employess and facilities.

    01 02 20201215 134747

  • 09 146616045 10165136912400171 8148525869899560600 oThe Fayetteville Transportation and Local History Museum has put together another fantastic African American exhibit to honor Black History Month. This local museum for the past three years has followed a theme to showcase African American professionals from Fayetteville’s history and will keep the exhibits up for a year after they are revealed.

    This year the museum released an exhibit on Feb. 2 to honor African American architects. This exhibit is focused on bringing awareness and attribution to these early builders and historic buildings in the downtown area.

    These architects were from the Fayetteville area and some of these buildings are still standing today. There is a “rich history” in Fayetteville and this museum allows people to step back in time to really understand the historical roots.

    Catherine Linton, the Museum Specialist, is the one that helped bring to life this year’s exhibit entitled, “African Americans Building Fayetteville.” She is a former museum specialist with the Country Doctor Museum at East Carolina University.

    “Some buildings that are attributed to these builders are not standing today, but we want to bring attention to the ones that are, to bring history and awareness to the community,” said Linton in describing the focus of this exhibit.

    One of the builders that really stood out to Linton while assembling the exhibit was Abel Payne. Payne was an enslaved man that eventually purchased his freedom, but continued to work as a carpenter to afford freedom for his children. Linton said the story stood out to her because it is a “good story about overcoming obstacles.”

    This year’s exhibit is the third one the museum has done to follow the theme of African American professionals in Fayetteville’s history. The first exhibit the museum did in 2019 was about African American businesses, followed by the 2020 exhibit about African American doctors. Last year’s exhibit still remains on the first floor to the right of the entrance until the end of February 2021. This new exhibit, “African American Builders,” will remain until the end of February 2022.

    The museum is located in the restored 1890 Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad Depot, with two floors of exhibits and artifacts. It is open to the public of all ages and guided tours are available for schools, church groups, home school groups and more. They also offer activities such as walking tours of downtown, bus tours, a Saturday farmers market, and more for children and adults.

    The museum annex is next door for continuous history on the Fayetteville area.

    For more information visit the Fayetteville Transportation and Local History Museum at www.fcpr.us, and they are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Pictured: The Transportation and Local History Museum opened a new exhibit on Feb. 2 in honor of Black Histoy Month. "African Americans Building Fayetteville" highlights Black architects and builders in Fayetteville's history. The exhibit will be on display for one year. The 2020 Black History Month exhibit about African American doctors will be on display until the end of this month.

  • 10 JH 00282The Gilbert Theater’s latest show “Rope” premiered Jan 29. with a full house on opening weekend. The crime-centered, murder-themed play brought a thrilling drama to the stage for its audience.

    Originally written by Patrick Hamilton in 1929, the British play was later made into a movie by the famous filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock in 1948. The Gilbert’s production of “Rope” runs through Feb. 14. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 with military, student, first responder and seniors.

    The play opens with a cold-blooded murder of a young man by the two lead actors Wyndham Brandon (played by Chris Walker) and Charles Granillo (played by Tim Zimmermann).

    The characters of Brandon, with his air of intellectual superiority and a temper, and Granillo with his tenderness and remorse, make quite the interesting murderous duo.

    The two leads decide to host a dinner party around the wooden chest where they’ve hidden the body. The dinner party is supposed to be an amusement to the duo, especially Brandon as getting away with the “perfect crime.”

    The guests include Kenneth Reglan (played by Quentin King); Leila Arden (played by Megan Martinez); Sir Johnstone Kentley who is the father of the murder victim (played by Gabe Terry); Mrs. Debenham (played by Kathy Day); Rupert Cadell (played by Lawrence Carlisle III); and amongst them is their butler, Sabot (played by Dylan Atwood).

    The guests comment on the “queerness” of the evening, and the strangeness of the food being served on the wooden chest. Arden’s character goes as far as to jokingly suggest the hosts are hiding a dead body in it.

    Cadell suggests it would be obvious stupidity to murder then host a party around the body, which seems to get under Brandon’s skin. Meanwhile, filled with regret and fear, Granillo drinks his feelings away through the night.

    The characters bring forth a drama filled evening, not short of laughter, suspense, thrills and some philosophical back-and-forth about murder.

    Suspicious and quickly picking up clues, the clever Cadell lures the duo into confessing to murder and the “perfect murder’” plan that they failed at executing.

    The hard work of the cast and crew is reflected in the costumes, set and acting during the two-hour, fun-filled thrill of the evening.

    For those looking for a drama-filled affair, “Rope” at the Gilbert Theater is one to see.

    For tickets visit, https://www.gilberttheater.com/index.php

    Pictured above: Lawrence Carlisle III (left), the Artistic Director of the Gilbert Theater, joins the cast of "Rope." Photo by Jonathan Hornby.

  • 11 jail cellThe first time I met Nate, he was asking a question about a microphone I was using to collect stories at a local church men's breakfast. The church is known for the number of military families it attracts, and I was looking for one-liners about freedom for radio vignettes I was planning to broadcast from Memorial Day to Independence Day.

    As I engaged in a conversation about the microphone and his how-to mechanic videos, I had no idea of the story that was just beneath the surface. It wasn't until at least six months later I met his wife and discovered the pair and their three children had been through a harrowing, headline grabbing ordeal three years prior to my meeting Nate.

    His wife's younger brother, who was living with them to add some order and stability to his life, had been shot to death – after being beaten and robbed – on an otherwise beautiful day in May. The story caught my interest. Not because of the murder itself, but because of the story of faith and forgiveness surrounding it.

    Imagine the range of emotions in a courtroom filled with grieving family members on just about every seat in the room. One family grieving the life of a 16-year old killed over $120, and the parents and siblings of six other young people grieving the sons they were about to lose to the prison system.

    Now imagine the guardian of the slain teen handing the mother of one of the accused a tissue to wipe her tears as she said, “I forgive you. It's not your fault.”

    This wasn't a scene from a cheesy made-for-TV movie, it was real life. It took real courage, and it stemmed from real faith. The incident and events surrounding it called everything into question for Nate and his family. And as they embraced those questions, they emerged with answers that led them to the dusty villages surrounding ancient Jerusalem, where a man named Jesus taught about loving God, treating others as well as you would yourself, and forgiving those who seek to do you harm.

    The journey that led them to forgiveness led them down roads of anger, bitterness and even resentment, but the God they found along the way gives them a peace which outweighs it all.

    At WCLN, we call that Monday School. The lessons learned as we venture beyond the rally and rhetoric of a weekend worship service into stories of real life, real faith, and real people. We have devoted air time and a podcast channel to stories like Nate's – and have discovered they are all around us. Our friends, neighbors, and co-workers; their stories contain tales of heroism or sorrow, and may be marked with an undeniable joy that defies explanation.

    You can find Monday School wherever you listen to podcasts, and we hope you do.

    Pictured: There are many lessons of faith and forgiveness to be learned as we venture beyond weekend worship services into stories of real life and real people.

  • 01 01Umoja Festival at Seabrook ParkOver 30 years ago, a small group of friends with diverse interests and opinions shared an appreciation of African and African American culture along with a desire to produce positive changes in their local community. They decided to form the Umoja Group with Dr. Kwame Tuprah and Dorothy Fielder at the helm. Through the years, the organization has grown and continues to make a lasting impression in the Fayetteville community.

    “The purpose of the group is to share positive cultural information about Africans, African Americans and Carribeans,” said Wanda Wesley, incoming director of the Umoja Group, Inc. “It is our duty to spotlight and share that information with others so they will know about the greatness, unity and develop a mutual respect for one another.”

    The group, incorporated in 2005, is very active in the community and one of their biggest services is to assist students by awarding them scholarships for college. Since 1998, the group has given over $22,000 in scholarships.

    “Since the Umoja Group was formed in the community, the scholarships focus around students who live in the Broadell, E. E. Smith and Fayetteville State community,” said Wesley. “So most of those scholarship recipients have either been students who actually attend E. E. Smith High School or who have been active participants in the Umoja Group’s activities over the years as far as volunteers or supporters.”

    Wesley added that a lot of the students who receive scholarships are recommended by the E. E. Smith Band because a lot of the students in the band participate in many of their activities.

    “We have worked with the school to identify worthy students who have positive attitudes, decent grades and give back to the community,” said Wesley. “In December 2020, we gave a $1,000 scholarship to Deborah Effon, an early senior at Massey Hill Classical High School that finished in December.”

    One of their annual events is the Umoja Festival held the last Saturday in August. “It is a community day and we have singers, dancers, food and product vendors, and a health fair,” said Wesley. “For the last few years, we have partnered with Darvin Jones from Cape Fear Valley to have a health fair and it has been very well received.”

    The health fair is designed for individuals who might not normally go to the doctor for routine physicals. The health screenings include cholesterol, rapid HIV test, depression screening, blood pressure, blood glucose, body mass index, vision screening, lung function tests, flu shots, blood typing, AFib testing and more.

    “One year there was a person whose blood pressure was so high and they did not realize it and came to the health fair,” said Wesley. “They found out they needed to take care of some things and it may have saved their life.”

    “What I think is really special about the festival is that it is intergenerational, something for the entire family, wholesome, fun and exciting,” said Wesley. “You would feel comfortable bringing your small child out as well as your grandparent.”

    Darvin Jones, community health coordinator of Cape Fear Valley, gave his perspective of the group.

    “I think the Umoja Group does an outstanding job in the community trying to bring culture and heritage together,” said Jones. “Umoja means unity and that is exactly what they do through some of their programs with education and the appreciation of the arts, culture and a positive history.

    “I approached the Umoja Group ten years ago about doing what I call the hospital making a house call into the community,” said Jones. “The first group that I approached about this was very lukewarm, but the Umoja Group loved the idea so we got together and discussed the vision of what it could be.”

    Jones added that together they executed that vision and now it has become a part of the Umoja Festival. Every year they find something that they screen for, such as high blood pressure, in abundance.

    Not only is it set up to find these things, it is designed to help people. It has grown into being the largest health fair in the county.

    The Kwanzaa celebration has become a popular staple event in the community. “We recently had our Kwanzaa celebration and that is when I first got started with the Umoja Group,” said Wesley. “The celebration is a great community gathering of people and it tells them the history of Kwanzaa along with the seven principles, their meanings, and how they can live that through their
    daily lives.”

    The last few years the celebration has taken place at the Smith Recreation Center. “There is a set program and we usually start off with a drum call, welcome, singing, libation to those who have passed, a parade of African kings and queens, a tribute to elders, a feast, storytelling, scholarship presentation, dancing and more,” said Wesley. “One of our most popular acts is Shaka Zulu, performed by Larry Johnson, who has been doing this for over 20 years and everybody looks forward to his performance.”

    Due to the circumstances of COVID-19, the celebration was held virtually on Facebook in December 2020. “We shared Kwanzaa videos throughout the month of December which proved to be well-received and we will most likely incorporate that format into how we celebrate going forward,” said Wesley. “We did several interviews with children and adults who have been a part of the celebration for years and we were able to reach a larger audience to include folks from other states and overseas.”

    Future projects include digitizing the mural “Wall of Honor” to make the information more widely accessible and sharing stories about the individuals featured on
    the mural.

    For more information, donations, or to volunteer call 910-485-8035 or email umojagroupfay@gmail.com. If you would like to purchase a copy of Wall of Honor: A Celebration of Fayetteville’s Everyday Heroes contact Donna Barnes at 919-368-5258.

    Pictured above: The Umoja Festival at Seabrook Park is usually held the last Saturday in August. The public event is a celebration of culture and heritage.

    01 02 Kwanzaa U G members Ramon Huggins Dr Kwame and Yawa Tuprah

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Pictured above: Umoja Group members celebrate Kwanzaa (left to right) Ramon Huggins, Dr. Kwame Tuprah, Yawa Tuprah.

    01 03 2020 U G scholarship recipient Deborak Effon

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Pictured above: Deborah Effon (center) received the 2020 Umoja Group Scholarship.

  • 08 Title JudgedWriting an article on a work of art is complicated for many reasons. We each bring our own perceptions, bias and learned conventions when placing value or simply looking at a work of art. The complexity of contemporary art can include an additional layer — the ethnicity of the artist.

    Making works of art and art criticism today is not simple, there are many questions one could ask for doing either activity. For me, when I think about the ethnicity of the artist and how to look at their work, Leo Segedin asks some of the right questions in his article titled "Outakes From Making It: Race, Gender and Ethnicity in the Artworld." He asks: “… Are there generally acceptable ideas about what constitutes aesthetic ‘quality’? Does each minority group have their own aesthetic standards, its own criteria?... Is there a common aesthetic within a minority that is only accessible to the minority? … What constitutes ‘minority’ art? Who defines the essence and social agenda of a feminist artist, a Latino or Black artist?”

    Why anyone, minority or not, becomes an artist can be just as complex. The quotes by Vicki Rhoda, the featured artist for this special edition of Up & Coming Weekly, answer many of Segedin’s questions. The answers are found in why she became an educator, what is important to her in the classroom and why she is an artist.

    Raised in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, Mrs. Mazie Bell Rhoda (Vicki’s mother), gave her a set of art supplies at the age of eleven years old. While at home, Vicki would sit on the steps and repeatedly draw and paint the small church across the street. To have a creative nature and be open minded is a wonderful attribute, but it was also the cause of some of the challenges in her life.

    The direction of Rhoda’s life took hold when she was in high school, she met Ms. Peggy Webb, her art teacher. Not only was Ms. Webb an excellent teacher but she was also the only African American art teacher in Bladen County in the 80s. Inspired by an African American role model Rhoda’s direction in life was permanently altered on the path to become an artist and educator.

    Since being inspired by Ms. Webb, Rhoda earned a bachelor's degree in Art at Fayetteville State University. She has taught art in the public schools for 23 years, grades K-12. For the last four years she has been on the faculty at FSU in the Department of Performing and Fine Arts teaching art education and core art classes after earning a Master of Art Education at the University of Florida. She has also earned an advanced degree as an Educational Specialist from Grand Canyon University. Rhoda is presently working to complete her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership K-12.

    Rhoda stayed enthusiastic about teaching in public schools for 23 years. When she began teaching in the Bladen County public schools during the mid-90s Ms. Webb had relocated to another county and Rhoda became the only African American art teacher in the county.

    Rhoda reflected on the lack diversity of the teachers in the Bladen County schools at that time and what a relief it was to be employed by the Cumberland County public school system. Finally she was in an educational environment where the teachers and students were equally diverse, she felt more comfortable, she could be herself.

    No matter what school she was teaching in, Rhoda knew the importance of art in the public schools and witnessed the positive effects year after year. She shared with me: “Having art programs in the public schools is as important as math and science for many reasons. The myth is that art is simply recreational. Yet, taking an art class teaches the students diversity, global literacy, aesthetics, artists and art styles, and problem solving. Students leave an art class and see the world in a different way. Not only do they express themselves creatively, but they also can become personally transformed.”

    She continued, “Certain assignments revealed many of the personal problems students were having at home or a tragedy they have suffered. When talking to the student about the assignment they felt safe about sharing an experience. Art gave them a voice they did not have. For many the arts is an outlet to succeed in ways they could not in core classes. When I left public schools, I hoped I could have touched the lives of students in ways that would make a difference in their sense of self-worth and I was able to open the door to understanding diversity.”

    Rhoda was hired at FSU to recruit for and strengthen the art education program. After her first year in academe she redesigned the art education program by developing four new classes and eliminating some classes. The changes from teaching in the public schools for so many years to teaching students in higher education is a big leap for anyone. When asked about the transition she stated: “It was difficult. In middle and high school your approach to lesson plans is very different than higher education. Although you teach critical thinking in public schools, in higher education the analysis levels are so much higher. I am working with adults, so my language (personally and professionally) is very different. I’m happy to say the attention span of students at the university is lengthy compared to the public schools and is not only expected but required.”

    Rhoda’s success as an art educator is partially due to being a practicing artist. By being an artist she can share her creative efforts; the students are able to see she is engaged in the creative process. It is the same creative process that began at the age of eleven when she drew and painted the church across the street repeatedly.

    When asked why art remained so important to Rhoda, why she became an artist and to talk about her artistic style, she shared the following: “I was a very quiet child, while being creative I was reflective and thinking about so many things in my life. Art always gave me a voice to share what I could not do verbally. Later in life, around 1996, I learned a collage technique during a workshop and have continued to work in that media. The collage technique, in some ways, spoke to me. I could readily see images and myself in the layers of paper, I could relate it to my own life, and I saw ways to express my ideas. So what you are seeing in many of the earlier works is what I could not say out loud, but through the work.”

    Rhoda continued, “In the beginning, I was trying to express who I am. Raised in a Southern Pentecostal Holiness Church, uniformity was stressed for men and women, but I always saw things differently than my family. Being an artist I found a way to express myself visually. Although my personal collages are about expressing who I am, it can still resonate with others who grew up in the South and
    are Black.”

    “I started my political work after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, I realized just being Black in America is political.
    These are my experiences, being born Black is political, people in the southern Black community just handle it differently. The slogan Black Lives Matter is not new, we have been fighting for our lives to matter as long as I have been alive and historically. It is not OK to see color, yet due to social media, systemic racism is more evident. I always wanted my students to know everyone is important and we all bring something of value to enrich each other’s lives in many ways.”

    The reasons Rhoda gives for becoming an artist answer some of Segedin’s questions. Making art is a form of self-realization and it gives people a voice to share experiences. If just being Black is political, no matter how some would deny it or be impatient with the statement, it is obvious that race, ethnicity, and visual culture are inextricably linked. Artists draw from their identity to create awareness for different reasons, some create to influence change in American culture.

    In closing, works of art by some minority artists and other artists can be complicated and even some of Segedin’s questions are folly. We cannot characterize all works of art during the period in which they are being made. Ultimately, we can know some truths about works of art, but we cannot know all truths. It behooves us to stay openminded to why artists are creating works of art, search for a truth and new meaning. In the end, the history of art will often look like what we did not understand at the time.

    Pictured: "Judged" by Vicki Rhoda.

  • NC MedAssist is holding a Mobile Free Pharmacy Event in partnership with Humana in Cumberland County on Feb. 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event will be held at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church located at 701 Westmont Dr., Fayetteville and is open to any individual or family needing over-the-counter medications. Such items include cough and cold medicine, vitamins, allergy medication, first aid supplies, etc. Participants must be at least 18 years old to receive medicine. No identification is required, however face masks are required to participate.

    “Our North Carolina team is proud to partner with NC MedAssist here in Cumberland County and across the state to bring resources to those in need in our community,” said Humana’s North Carolina Director Patrick Farley. “We hope that having these important over-the-counter supplies on hand will help everyone stay healthy this winter.”

    All Mobile Free Pharmacy events are being held as a drive-thru service only. In order to comply with local recommended guidelines, all participants will remain in their vehicles while volunteers retrieve their medicine. Participants are highly encouraged to pre-order their over-the-counter medicine online by visiting https://medassist.org/mobile/ and selecting their county event. Additional options are available for those individuals unable to pre-register online, so that everyone who needs medicine will be able to receive it. However, it is highly suggested to come early in the day if you were not able to pre-order online, as medicine will be given out on a first come, first serve basis, and while supplies last.

    At the event, all participants will receive information on NC MedAssist’s Free Pharmacy Program, which mails free prescription medications directly to a patient’s home. NC MedAssist’s overall goal is to help ease the burden for those in need; it is aiding people who are making the choice between buying food and purchasing life-saving medication.

    “Due to the pandemic, we had to create a new and innovative way to continue serving the community. We will be bringing close to $100,000 worth of OTC medicine to the event to be distributed to those most in need in our community,” said Sheila Kidwell, Director of Foundations and Communication at NC MedAssist. “We understand there is a pressing need, especially in the midst of the cold and flu season. Our goal in this partnership with Humana is to improve the health of the community, one family at a time.”

    The Mobile Free Pharmacy events have served upwards of 1,000 people, at times. To ensure the event runs smoothly and that all participants are served by the end, many volunteers are needed. NC MedAssist is partnered with safety-net organizations to recruit community members to serve in volunteer roles such as pharmacy consultation, client personal shoppers and sorters. However, the charitable organization is still actively seeking volunteers for the Mobile Free Pharmacy Event from the community. Any interested individuals can sign up at www.medassist.org/volunteer.

    NC MedAssist is a statewide non-profit pharmacy, founded in 1997. The organization provides free prescription medication to all low-income, uninsured North Carolinians who qualify for their Free Pharmacy Program. NC MedAssist offers three programs that address the needs of children and adults: the Free Pharmacy Program (for prescription medication); the Over-the-Counter Program (which includes the Free OTC Store in Charlotte, as well as the Mobile Free Pharmacy Program which distributes over-the-counter medicine in communities across the state); and the Transitional Jobs Program (for individuals with barriers to employment). Last year, NC MedAssist distributed $76 million worth of prescription and over-the-counter medicine to NC residents.

    Learn more about NC MedAssist at www.medassist.org. You can also visit their Facebook at www.facebook.com/NCMedAssist/.

  • 07 PX winner 6Sara Cockrell, a Max Abbott Middle School student from Fayetteville won a $2,000 Army & Air Force Exchange Services gift card, the first-place prize in the Exchange’s worldwide "You Made the Grade" sweepstakes.

    The Exchange, a military retail store, presented the gift card to the seventh grader on Jan. 29, her thirteenth birthday, at the North Post Exchange located on Fort Bragg.

    “I am very excited, I was like how much again and my mom said ‘$2,000’ and I said ‘no, it can’t be that much,’” Cockrell said. “I wouldn't have expected the $2000, I wouldn’t have thought I was being rewarded for having good grades.”

    Sara was selected from amongst 500 high-achieving military students from all over the world who qualified for the sweepstakes by maintaining a B average or higher.

    We are so happy on her behalf and she's such a hard worker in school, so she really deserves it, Sue Cockrell, Sara’s mother said.

    Students with qualifying grades are encouraged to enter the sweepstakes to win a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card.

    Cockrell said she will be using the money to buy an iPad for herself that she had been saving up for since the summer, to draw on and play Roblox on.

    “She always does her homework, I don't have to ask her to do it, I have had no issues with her during virtual learning, which she's done all year,” Sue Cockrell said. “She gets up in the morning, she's very self-motivated.”

    Cockrell was presented with her prize by the Exchange’s manager Amanda Hartfield, general manager for Fort Bragg Exchange, and the retail team at the Exchange that sang “Happy Birthday” for her and presented her with a cake.

    In attendance to congratulate Cockrell were Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Loehr and Max Abbott Middle School Principal Carla Crenshaw.

    “Sara is a wonderful young lady, she works very hard, she’s one of those students that teachers love to have in class, she helps others and she's kind,” Crenshaw said. “I am so very proud of her.”

    Pictured: Sara Cockrell, a seventh grader at Max Abbott Middle School, won the Army & Air Force Exchange Services worldwide "You Made the Grade" sweepstakes.

  • 06 SFC Marvin CornettA World War II combat veteran is being honored for his service with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Retired Sgt. 1st Class Marvin Cornett of Auburn, Calif., will receive the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals that he earned nearly 76 years ago in a ceremony scheduled for Feb. 22. Cornett turns 100 on July 1.

    Cornett participated in the combat parachute assault over Salerno, Italy, on Jan. 31, 1944, and stormed ashore at Anzio Beach, according to an 82nd Airborne Division news release. When the Army did not follow up on the award recommendations for his actions, Cornett did not pursue the matter. He was routinely reassigned stateside to Fort Benning, Ga., where he served as an instructor. Cornett went on to serve a full career.

    Years later, Heritage Arsenal of Colorado Springs, Colo., found missing records of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart awards that never were conferred. An official of the organization who had been an Army Green Beret helped guide the family through the process of requesting the awards.

    The ceremony is being coordinated by Heritage Arsenal and the Cornett family and will be hosted by the American Legion in Auburn. Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division, will be the virtual guest speaker. U.S. Army recruiters will present the awards to Cornett who will be wearing his dress uniform during the event.

    Pictured: Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Marvin Cornett

  • 05 20210204 163135The narrative of history depends upon who is telling the story. The narrative of Black History Month is rarely told by Blacks.

    Every year, we are told the same stories about the same people. Much of America has grown comfortable with telling the “safe” stories. During the month of February, we are constantly reminded of how slavery is an integral part of our heritage. Nobody wants to tell the honest story of what happened to Black America.

    Many of the stories told during Black History Month are traumatic experiences that have residual effects. The notion of Black History Month is divisive in nature. BLACK HISTORY IS AMERICAN HISTORY.

    The fact is that society has normalized division and continues to plague us as a human race. If we are a part of history, why is it that we only celebrate the impact and accomplishments of Black Americans during the shortest month of the year? Black people are making history every day. No disrespect to those who have came before us, but we must give people their flowers while they are able to smell them.

    There are people in the community that have made history right here in the city of Fayetteville. For instance, Marshall Pitts is the first Black mayor of Fayetteville.

    2020, which Christian Mosley calls “The Black Year,” revealed the true history of American society. The chants of protesters unearthed the time capsule of America’s attitude towards the Black community.

    Black History Month stories romanticize the lives of people like Martin Luther King Jr., even though he was hated, jailed and even killed for his beliefs and thoughts. However, American society celebrates his legacy as if he was beloved when he was alive.

    The social justice movement of today mirrors the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Advances in technology have allowed activists to tell their stories in real-time. However, the world has become so sensitive that the truth is frowned upon or silenced.

    Sometimes, history can be divisive. The conversation surrounding the history of the Market House continues to be as polarizing as the paint that circles the structure. Throughout the last year, we have seen the removal of statues deemed to be “hateful” or “symbols of oppression.” On the opposing side, some argue that the monuments represent “pride” and “celebrates heritage.”

    The Market House continues to divide our city. The mural was done as the city’s way to further the message of the City Council of 1989 that is engraved on a plaque attached to a pillar under the structure. The 1989 City Council acknowledged the trauma associated with the building. The message reads: “In memory and honor of those indomitable people who were stripped of their dignity when sold as slaves at this place.”

    The removal and re-installment of the mural has been a hot topic. Rather than keep focusing on the structure or the mural, the city should appreciate Collyn Strother and Malcolm Chester. These two young men worked tirelessly to create a piece that symbolizes unity and inclusion.

    But, there is a difference between diversity and inclusion. Fayetteville prides itself on diversity, but the city is not very inclusive. Diversity invites people to the table, but inclusion empowers your voice to be heard while you’re at the table. The person who came up this this quote must have been referencing the way the “system” panders to young Black America.

    Recently, I sat with the group of artists under the Market House and discussed the role of art in the social justice movement. The common consensus among the group is the role of the artist is to bring the truth to the forefront. The group went on to express how nothing can replace the original feeling of initially completing the project. The group of artists are the truest definition of unity. They all represented different walks of life but came together for a common goal. By painting the mural, they were able to create progressive conversation around the Market House.

    However, it is time for some new Black History. Much of my generation are natural born American citizens. Therefore, we should be celebrated like all other Americans that have changed the narrative.

    In addition, we must stop covering up the truth like Collyn had to cover up the “peace sign” and “fist of solidarity” he had painted on the North and South exits of the traffic circle. Moments later, he received a call saying that he had to cover the symbols. The fact that those symbols had to be covered is another sign that society is not ready to accept its faults.

    Once we open and honestly address the issues of racial inequality, we will be able to move forward as a unit like this group of artists have done. They are the epitome of unity and inclusion. They are what America should be modeled after.

    Our exchange under the Market House was extremely refreshing. As a society, we must choose CONVERSATION OVER CONFRONTATION and LEAD WITH LOVE. Salute to Collyn and Malcolm.

    Salute to every activist getting active. Happy Black History Month. Peace.

    Pictured: Artist Collyn Strother paints over a peace symbol that was part of the mural circling the Market House in downtown Fayetteville.

  • 04 Benjamin Oliver Davis JrI am starting this opinion piece on 28 January 2021; Black History Month begins in a few days. As I think about the intended purpose of that designated time, an overwhelming sense of sorrow, of grief, overtakes me. A Black History Month article (updated 27 January 2021) at www.history.com gives this purpose for the month: “Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.”

    In my lifetime, our nation has had substantial reason to celebrate and appreciate many Black Americans who, in powerfully positive fashion, contributed not only to our country, but to the world. This weight of sadness that I feel now is because, even though there are still Black citizens worthy of note for what they contribute to humanity, the numbers of such people seem far less than was the case just a few years ago. Even more painful than the much lower numbers is what I see as the reason for this decline. Not only are we failing to produce numbers of towering contributors to the wellbeing of society; instead, Black Americans are, to a substantial extent, providing fuel for the destruction of this great nation. I would argue that this is due to Black America’s change in strategy and tactics.

    Strategy is defined as overall aims, while tactics are those actions employed in pursuing those overall aims. I contend that what was the prevailing strategy and tactics of Black Americans for many years is obvious if one takes time to study the lives of those who lived in that period. The candidates for study are numerous, but the life and career of General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. superbly illustrates the strategy and tactics to which I am referring.

    General Davis was the first Black to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the 20th Century and the fourth in the Academy’s history, ranking 35 in a class of 276. His dream was to become an aviator, but was not allowed to do so because the Army Air Corps was not accepting Blacks for flight training. Despite initially not being allowed to enter flight training in the Army, he did so later and went on to reach the rank of Lieutenant General in the U.S. Air Force that, in 1947, became a separate military branch. Among Davis’ assignments was that of Commander 99th Fighter Squadron. This was the Army’s first Black fighter squadron. It performed in outstanding fashion during World War II and Davis proved highly effective and successful as squadron commander. In December 1998, well after his retirement in 1970, President Bill Clinton promoted Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. to full general. He had retired as a lieutenant general.

    That is an extremely broad overview of General Davis’ military career. The focus for this discussion, however, is on how he set personal goals and had clear tactics for achieving those goals. Every indication is that this approach was consistent across the span of his lifetime. It shows repeatedly, but especially during his four years at West Point. That was an exceedingly difficult and challenging time. The following is from an article titled “General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.: A Life of Fortitude and Faithfulness” by Susan Robertson:

    When he matriculated into the Long Gray Line, Davis encountered a juggernaut of institutional prejudice. During his four years as a cadet, he was never assigned a roommate and frequently shunned at required social events. Even worse, he endured the entire experience with no one speaking to him outside of the line of duty. Davis patiently endured countless daily depravations and degradations and kept his eye on the prize. Remarkably, he was to note later of his ill treatment: “It was designed to make me buckle, but I refused to buckle. They didn’t understand that I was going to stay there. That I was going to graduate.” When he did graduate and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1936, the Army had only two black line officers, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

    Such was Davis’ grace and character, he would say of his time at West Point: ”Living as a prisoner in solitary confinement for four years had not destroyed my personality, nor poisoned my attitude toward other people.” Yet, in spite of, or rather, because of the hardships he endured, Davis had already made an impact on his future fellow officers. In the 1936 issue of The Howitzer, West Point’s yearbook, it was said of him:

    The courage, tenacity, and intelligence with which he conquered a problem incomparably more difficult than plebe year won for him the sincere admiration of his classmates, and his single-minded determination to continue in his chosen career cannot fail to inspire respect wherever fortune may lead him.

    What I see here is a man who understood the power of persuasion that comes with doing a job well and demonstrating resolve in the face of challenging situations. When life is unfair and it feels as though the world is against us, we, as individuals, must choose how to respond. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. chose a goal, worked hard, refused to give up; in the process, he achieved much and gained the respect of many who had treated him unfairly … as well as many who might have otherwise done so in the future. This was the prevailing approach to life among Black Americans during his time and for generations before and maybe for some after him. Even though confronted with unfair treatment, embracing the Davis strategy and tactics rewarded Black Americans with improved respect and advancement in society and in living conditions.

    I was born shortly after the end of World War II, when the life strategies and tactics employed by General Davis were still very present among Black Americans. I saw it work in the lives of my parents, grandmothers (both of my grandfathers died before I was born), uncles and aunts.

    I lived with my maternal grandmother, Ma’ Bessie, until I was eight years old. One day, when I was about seven, she told me to sweep the back porch. I was simply sweeping the easy-to-reach areas. She came over and took the broom and demonstrated how I should sweep the corners and along the base of the walls. Then she looked into my young eyes and said, “Karl, whatever you do in life, do it well; you don’t know what you will have to do to earn a living, but whatever it is, do it well.” This was a lady whose husband had died and left her with three small children to rear. She did it all alone. I remember her washing the clothes of people as a source of income. I especially remember how she would starch and iron white shirts to perfection and hang them on the front porch for pick up.

    Ma’ Bessie never gained the fame of a Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., but she had that same set of life strategies and tactics. I will be forever thankful that she, and others, exposed me to that life approach. Whatever good I have done in life, whatever genuine success has come to me, I owe to God and to people like Ma’ Bessie who were put in my life by Him.

    Simply put, I contend that, for the most part, Black America has shifted to goals and strategies that would not be recognized, or considered reasonable, by Ma’ Bessie, General Davis, and millions of Black Americans who built successful lives by employing the approach described to this point. This shift has brought far too many Black Americans to focus on quotas for employment, education and business opportunities; deemphasizing the two parent family unit; looking to government to solve problems of poverty, alleged racism, low academic achievement; placing self-serving individuals in positons of power and influence; literally making every problem that plagues Black Americans about racism; calling for self-destructive actions, such as defunding police when they are extremely needed in the Black community; protesting in a fashion that routinely ends in riots, looting and destruction of property along with lives and livelihoods; creating a victim mentality among Black Americans. Without doubt, this approach is not only proving destructive for Black Americans, but also for all of America.

    In the final analysis, the pressing question is: which group of goals and strategies should be the choice of Black America today? Given that the approach employed by Ma’ Bessie, General Davis, and millions of other Black Americans proved extremely successful while today’s prevailing approach is contributing to the destruction of a people and a country, the choice is crystal clear for me. Because the successful goals and strategies of the past have been discarded in favor of a shiny new destructive set, I grieve deeply.

    Pictured: General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force)

  • 03 kids backpacks in front of schoolYour mama and mine were clear about this. We do not tell lies, nor do we perpetuate them. I must have told a whopper, because I can still remember my Kinston grandmother grabbing both my arms and putting her nose next to mine and hissing at me, “Margaret Dawson, don’t you EVER tell me a teewaddie again!” Teewaddie is eastern North Carolina speak for a big fat lie. I must have been about 5 or 6, and her technique was so effective, I doubt I ever told her another one.

    There are facts, of course, and there are interpretations of facts, and sometimes it is difficult to separate them. The North Carolina Board of Education has been in the midst of just such a quandary, and it is not likely over yet. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements and the sketchy, relaxed relationship with the truth enjoyed by our former President and many of his supporters, the Board has been wrestling with how to teach North Carolina’s school children about inequity and injustice in American society.

    Those are concepts not unlike art and pornography — hard to define, but we all know them when we see them. The 1898 coup d’etat in Wilmington, the only such overthrow of an elected government in American history, is a fact. It was not taught in schools during my public education because it had been spun in a different light. It has been well documented in recent years though by, among others, Philip Gerard in "Cape Fear Rising" (1994) and more recently in "Wilmington’s Lie" (2020) by David Zucchino, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and graduate of Terry Sanford High School. The coup d’etat, long buried in state and national history, should be part of social studies and history curricula at all levels in North Carolina schools and throughout our nation. Ditto for other documented events including civil rights activities, the women’s movement, and other historical events with both positive and negative connotations.

    The Board struggled, and understandably so, over less concrete questions, including adjectives. Early proposals for social studies curriculum standards in included “systemic racism,” “system discrimination,” and “engender identity.” After fierce Board of Education debate over several months, a 7 to 5 vote has adopted standards that dropped those adjectives for less precise language. Still, it is a step in the right direction.

    Proponents of social studies standards say the information will be more meaningful to students of color who now make up the majority of public school students in North Carolina. Opponents contend the standards project anti-American, anti-capitalist, and anti-democratic viewpoints. The fight is not over yet. Later this year, professional staff at the Department of Public Instruction will present additional documentation of how the new standards will be implemented in classrooms, which is sure to ignite yet another round of disagreement about what our children should learn and how they should learn it.

    Most of us are not educators and know little about curriculum development of any sort. Most of us do have common sense, however, as have leaders of all stripes when they ponder truth, however painful. Here are three that ring true
    to me.

    “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is (sic) pains to bring it to light.” — George Washington

    “Repetition does not translate a lie into a truth.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    And, chillingly, this from Sir Winston Churchill in a 1948 speech to Parliament. He was surely speaking about war, but it works just as well for discrimination and injustice.
    “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

  • 02 sit inFebruary is an extraordinary month. I planned to write for you today to celebrate the 61st anniversary of the day where three friends and I boldly went and sat at the Woolworth counter in Greensboro, NC. As Black men, we didn't know how we would be leaving that restaurant. Some of us feared we would be beaten or even killed. That sit-in sparked similar sit-ins across the nation leading to significant social change in the United States.

    Sadly, while the anniversary day should have been a day to celebrate how far we've come, we see firsthand how the liberal news media is viciously attacking independent thinking Black men.

    Last week WRAL published a political cartoon that depicted my good friend, Mark Robinson, as a Klansman simply because he refuses to rubber-stamp the leftist agenda promoted by their liberal organization. Amazingly, this is only a few days after the Democrat-controlled school board scheduled a meeting that they knew Lt. Governor Robinson could not attend. It's heartbreaking how, even after 61 years, we're still having to fight to have a Black man protect his seat at the table.

    As we celebrate Black History Month, we should be promoting, not silencing, voices like Mark Robinson's, our state's first Black Lieutenant Governor!

    Like Mark, I will not be silenced! I plan to continue the fight. Through our efforts with the NC Faith and Freedom Coalition and the Frederick Douglass Foundation to educate and engage conservative-minded minorities, we will work even harder to combat these disgraceful attacks from the left. Will you stand with us? Let's send a message that we will not let them intimidate us! That's the best way to celebrate Black History and making history.

    Pictured above: On the second day of the 1960 Greensboro sit-in, Clarence Henderson (far right) joins (front left to right) Joseph A. McNeil, Franklin E. McCain and William Smith at the Woolworth lunch counter.
    (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

    Editor's Note: In a press conference, Lt. Gov. Robinson reacted to the cartoon: "On the second day of Black History Month, the first Black lieutenant governor of North Carolina has been portrayed as [racist]," he said. "That you would portray a Black man, just because he's in the GOP, as a Klansman... the hypocrisy is mind-numbing, folks."
    In a statement from Capitol Broadcasting Company, Opinion Editor Seth Effron said: “Editorial cartoons are creative and provocative, using hyperbole and satire. No one believes Republicans on the State Board of Education are members of the Ku Klux Klan. The editorial cartoon by Dennis Draughon is meant to point out that these members of the State Board are trying to wipe out from the social studies curriculum the record of racism which includes the Klan and the segregationist practices that were imposed in our state and nation’s history.”

    Clarence Henderson was a student at N.C. A&T State University when he sat down at the lunch counter at the Greensboro, Woolworth in the winter of 1960. The purpose was to protest racial segregation. He was 18 years of age. He wanted to change the system then, and now 61 years later, he is still working hard to change the system. This Black History Month and every month, we want to honor men like Mr. Henderson for their dedication and perseverance to obtaining fair and equal rights for all. Thank you for all your contributions. — Bill Bowman, Publisher

  • 05 vaccine 2The Cumberland County Department of Public Health will be hosting three COVID-19 vaccination clinics this week for people in Groups 1 and 2, which includes healthcare workers with direct patient contact, long-term care facility staff and residents and individuals ages 65 and older.

    The County does not have a timeline for when the state will move to Group 3 – frontline essential workers.

    Drive-thru clinics are scheduled at the Crown Complex from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following days. Appointment blocks run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. After 3 p.m., vaccinations are given on a standby basis for people in the eligible groups.
    Tuesday, Feb. 9 – second doses only of both Pfizer and Moderna available.
    Wednesday, Feb. 10 - first doses of the Moderna vaccine and second doses of Pfizer and Moderna. Due to the supply, no first doses of Pfizer will be issued.
    Friday, Feb. 12 – first doses of Moderna and second doses of Pfizer and Moderna.

    Receiving Your Second Dose
    There is no clinic scheduled on Saturday. The vaccination record individuals received for their first dose indicates the earliest date to receive the second dose. It is not an appointment card.
    The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible (three weeks after the first dose for Pfizer or one month for Moderna). The second dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose.

    There are two ways to receive your second dose:
    • Use the first-come, first-served line. We encourage you to do this on Tuesdays, during our second dose only clinics; however, this option is also available on Wednesdays and Fridays. Though afternoons are designated for first-come, first-served, we can accommodate first-come, first-served in the mornings depending on turnout.
    • Schedule an appointment using the appointment request form. You will receive an email confirmation with your second dose appointment.

    Visit the County’s vaccine website for information on how to request an appointment block.

    Find a Ride
    The public can request transportation assistance when making an online appointment for the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics. Individuals who select the option for assistance with transportation to the vaccination site will be contacted by the Cumberland County Community Transportation Program after their appointment has been scheduled.

    Same-day transportation appointments cannot be accommodated.

    Visit the County’s vaccination page at co.cumberland.nc.us/covid19vaccine for information or to complete the appointment block request form or call 910-678-7657 weekdays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

  • 19 Danny Anderson and Wife The Rev. Danny Anderson hails from the state of West Virginia, but his entire preaching career has been spent in North Carolina.He recently added Highland Baptist Church in Hope Mills to his resume as he became the church’s pastor in mid-February.

    Anderson and his wife Lisa came to Hope Mills after previously serving Baptist congregations in Carteret County, Havelock and Pollocksville.

    He also attended college in North Carolina, studying at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs. He graduated from Newburgh Theological Seminary in southern Indiana near the border with Kentucky.

    Anderson said other churches had approached him but he felt the calling of the Lord to choose Highland Baptist. “We took to the people immediately,’’ he said. “As things progressed, the Lord just took care of it.’’

    Anderson’s pastorate at Havelock brought him in contact with military personnel at the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station. He feels that experience will help him connect with both active and retired military from Fort Bragg who live in the Hope Mills area.

    “I’ve learned from that how to be in a community that’s military-based, very patriotic and loves their country,’’ he said.

    While Anderson doesn’t take a cookie-cutter approach to working with each pastorate he’s served, there is a basic order of settling in that he follows.

    “I see what the needs are, either being filled or needing to be filled, and take a plan of action from there,’’ he said.

    Anderson said the emphasis of his ministry is one-on-one. “Everywhere I’ve been in smaller areas I’ve gone door-to-door,’’ he said. “I made sure my card was in each house.’’

    His approach is to find out if they have specific prayer concerns, while at the same time trying to establish a rapport without being too intrusive into their private lives.
    “That will be most likely what I’ll do immediately,’’ he said, “get the word out that I’m in the field.’’

    As far as working with the staff at the church, Anderson prefers a team effort and reaching out for suggestions on what’s needed to best serve the congregation.

    “I do trust the people we have on staff, their calling in different areas,’’ he said. “My managerial approach is not to micromanage. I generally allow people to use their gifts, getting all those talents together, everybody contributing a certain part to the puzzle to meet the needs.’’

    Anderson estimates it will take anywhere from six months to a year for him to become comfortably educated about the Hope Mills community, learn all the names and get a feeling for the local culture.

    Once that happens, he’ll feel more comfortable about instituting any major changes that might be needed. “I’m not one to change or institute things for the sake of instituting something,’’ he said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’’

    Anderson said his main concern will be building relationships. “People are people,’’ he said. “Human nature is human nature.

    “Just being there at the time of need and developing that trust is basically the way I approach it.’’

  • 04 imagesTrigger warning. If you are easily offended by anything, kindly skip this column and go directly to the cross word puzzle. Today will have something everyone can find offensive. Let me count the ways of those who will find this stain on world lit objectionable — fans of Silent Sam, enemies of Silent Sam, feminists, Dook fan and, most importantly, UNC Tar Heel basketball fans. If you fit into any of these categories, this column is not for you. It is my position that the Ol’ Roy and the Tar Heels’ Terrible, Horrible, No Good and Very Bad Season is a direct result of the curse of Silent Sam. Allow me to retort.

     Unless you have been living under a rock, and admittedly many Tar Heel basketball fans wish they were living under a rock, UNC’s round ball team is having less than its usual stellar season. I attribute this to the events of Aug. 20, 2018, when a mob tore down the statue of Silent Sam on McCorkle Place at UNC. Already the folks that tore down the statue are offended because I called them a mob. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Sam bit the dust and the troubles began in earnest.

     A bit of history of Sam. Sam was erected on the campus of UNC in 1913 by the Daughters of the Confederacy as a monument to UNC students who fought in the Civil War. At the dedication of Sam, Julian Carr gave a speech that included “One hundred yards from where we stand, less than 90 days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a Negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because on the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady…” If this statement doesn’t offend you, may God have mercy upon your soul, because I don’t.

    Sam more or less stood around for the next 100 years. Like the Sphinx, he don’t say nothing. When I arrived on campus in 1970, as part of the official new student campus orientation tour, we were told he was called Silent Sam because when a virgin walked by he would fire his rifle. He never fired his rifle. We all laughed because this was way before the #MeToo movement. Herein, feminists are invited to be offended. So Sam’s name comes from a stupid joke. People who appreciate good jokes are herein invited to be offended.

     Toward the end of the 2010, protests about Sam gathered steam. The University managed to spend almost $400,000 protecting Sam from attack and vandalism in the 2017-2018 school year. Fun fact — in-state undergraduate tuition and fees for that academic year at UNC was about $9,000. Forty-three students could have received full scholarships to UNC for the cost of protecting Sam that year. Drums kept getting louder, and eventually, a mob pulled down Sam. Having worked as a lawyer for 40+ years, I do not believe in vigilante justice. The offense that Sam gave as a symbol of the Confederacy and slavery is understandable. The remedy the mob took in tearing him down is not. The legal system is supposed to deal with issues, not street violence.

     Having said that, the rule of law took a mighty strange turn after Sam went into storage in a “secure undisclosed location,” possibly with Dick Cheney. The UNC Board of Governors, ironically abbreviated as BOG, followed Dean Wormer’s advice and made a double secret deal with the Sons of the Confederacy. The BOG agreed to a settlement with the SOC to give them Sam and pay them $2.5 million dollars to give Sam a new home. Fun fact — that $2.5 million would have funded 277 in-state scholarships. As a spineless sweetner, the BOG paid the SOC $74,999 as a bribe not to come on the UNC campuses to demonstrate for five years. Apparently the BOG forgot Congressman C.C. Pinckey’s famous 1797 statement “Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute.” Upon seeing the light of day, the BOG’s double secret settlement was roundly criticized and ultimately set aside by the same judge who originally approved it. Fifty-two thousand dollars of the $2.5 million was paid to the SOC’s attorney, and the SOC gets to keep the $74,999 in tribute to leave UNC alone. That $127,000 is gone with the wind, along with the 14 in-state scholarships it could have funded.

    So what does this have to do with the Tar Heels’ basketball team? Sam has put a curse on the team. Sports curses are real. The Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1918 and didn’t win another World Series for 84 years. The Chicago Cubs evicted Murphy the Goat from game four of the World Series, which led to a 108-year absence from winning the World Series. The Heels have lost a series of heart breakers due to last-second miracle shots by their opponents. It’s the curse of Silent Sam expanding the goal for our opponents to the size of a hula hoop and shrinking UNC’s goal to the size of pin heads. Nothing else can explain what has happened in our winter of discontent.

     What is the remedy? Bring in the three witches from “Macbeth” to lay on an anti curse? Send Sam and the members of the spineless BOG on a long cruise on the good ship Corona Princess? Melt Sam down into commemorative coins and give half to the Sam protestors and half to the Sons of the Confederacy to sell to raise money for their respective causes? Pay the Dook refs more than Dook pays them?

     Some problems don’t have answers. But this losing of incredibly close games by the Tar Heels has just naturally got to stop. Mob rule versus double secret Spineless Board of Governors rule? Choose your poison. Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

  • 10 downloadEvery month, The Cool Springs Downtown District puts on an event called Fourth Friday. During the event, the community is invited to celebrate all that downtown Fayetteville has to offer. It involves gallery openings, arts and entertainment, shopping, dining and more. Fourth Friday will take place on Feb. 28 from 6-9 p.m.
    The Arts Council will host a spoken word event as a part of its “Troublesome Presence” exhibition. This spoken word event is the last programming installment in the exhibition.

    Metoya Scott is the public relations manager for the Arts Council. When asked about what she is looking forward to most about this event, she said, “Just basically looking forward to how these local poets interpret the art and learning from that.”

    For more information about “Troublesome Presence”, contact the Arts Council at admin@theartscouncil.com or 910-323-1776.

    The Cool Spring Downtown District also has much going on for Fourth Friday. This month’s theme is called “Lasting Impressions.” The intent of this theme is to honor Black History Month by dedicating the theme to black-owned businesses. They are partnering with the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and Circa 1865 to focus on our community’s rich black history while also promoting black business owners.

    Cape Fear Studios has special exhibits planned as well. It will host a military art exhibition where the works on display are created by military personnel who are active duty, reserve, national guard, veterans and retirees. The dependents of these military personnel will be welcome to enter pieces as well. Those who attend must be 18 years or older. The art exhibition will be called the “2020 Alpha Romeo Tango Exhibition.” A People’s Choice Award will be presented. This exhibition will be on display from Feb. 26 to March 24. Two entries per artist may be submitted. All styles and subjects are welcome. On Fourth Friday, a reception will take place. The reception will last from 6-7:30 p.m. At 7 p.m. the People’s Choice Award will be announced. Voting for the award will begin on Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. Voting will end at 6:45 p.m. opening night. The event will be free and open to the public. For more information on the Alpha Romeo Tango Exhibition, contact Cape Fear Studios at artgallery@capefeartstudios.com or 910-433-2986.

    The Fascinate-U Children’s Museum also hosts an event for Fourth Friday. Susan Daniels, the executive director of the Fascinate-U Children’s Museum, said that the museum has been working with Fourth Friday for years. This month, there will be an arts and crafts event. During this event, children will make newspaper polar bears. For information on the Fascinate-U Children’s Museum, contact sierra@fascinate-u.com or 910-829-9171.

    For more information about Fourth Friday, contact the Cool Spring Downtown District at info@coolspringfay.org or 910-223-1089.

  • 21 EENobody’s cranking up heavy machinery and clearing land just yet, but the Cumberland County Commissioners recently addressed the idea of some day having to relocate E.E. Smith High School.

    Board Vice-Chairman Glenn Adams is closer than any of his fellow commissioners to the importance of the issue. A Smith graduate, Adams has spent the last 16 years as the color commentator for E.E. Smith high school football games aired on local radio station WIDU.

    Adams said the final decision on closing E.E. Smith and moving it to a new location rests in the hands of the Cumberland County Board of Education.

    But because of declining enrollment at the school, Smith said the commissioners need to consider what the school’s future is before serious decisions have to be made on coming up with money for a new building if it has to move from the current one.

    According to the 2019-20 average daily membership figures compiled for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, Smith’s enrollment of 1,153 students made it one of the smallest public senior high schools with athletic teams in Cumberland County.

    Adams suggested the current enrollment at Smith is closer to 900 students.

    While the existing E.E. Smith school building on Seabrook Road has been home to the school for many years, it wouldn’t be the first time the campus has relocated Adams said.

    Adams believes the school has moved twice previously in its history, once from Washington Drive and a second time probably from a location on Orange Street.

    What’s causing the concern, Adams said, is there aren’t enough people living near the current Seabrook Road location to continue providing students to attend the existing school.

    “You’ve got to have some kind of alternative and you can’t wait until the end to decide where that is,’’ he said.

    Even if the school does have to move, Adams stressed it’s not the building that makes a school. It’s the people who walked the halls and competed on its athletic fields and in its gymnasium.

    “That heart will go wherever the building is,’’ he said. “They (the alumni and faculty) are forever going to be there.’’

    The big question would be where to put a new building, and Adams said that decision is in the hands of the Board of Education. “You don’t want to go into someone else’s district,’’ he said, noting that Smith is bounded by the Pine Forest, Westover and Terry Sanford districts.

    “You have to be cognizant of those other schools,’’ he said.

    Adams stressed that any plan to relocate E.E. Smith is years down the road, but now is the time to begin the discussion so as many people as possible who will be affected by the move can offer their opinions on what to do.

    “There are always going to be those who are nostalgic and say don’t move it,’’ Adams said. “There are others of the opinion that the school is not the building. I think it goes both ways. People are probably hearing this for the first time.’’

    Adams said he has spoken with Dr. Marvin Connelly, superintendent of the Cumberland  County Schools, and said the superintendent is open to all options available.
    “He hasn’t put anything off the table,’’ Adams said.

    While the school board will make the final decision on what happens with E.E. Smith, Adams said it’s the task of the county commissioners to give the school board as many viable options for what to do with E.E. Smith as possible.

    “It’s the county commissioners that fund the schools,’’ Adams said. That’s why he wants to start the conversation now, to provide for as many options as possible to make sure whatever alternatives are on the table will be positive.

  • 07 01 Sheriffs Deputies 2Cumberland County Commissioners have approved a significant adjustment in the wages of sheriff’s deputies and detention officers. They appropriated $354,233 to provide market adjustments to entry-level law enforcement salaries for the remainder of the fiscal year beginning March 1. A statewide study showed Cumberland County entry-level law enforcement wages were 10% lower than comparable counties, while average pay was 16% lower.

    The turnover rate for jailers at the detention center resulted in a vacancy rate of 45%, according to County Manager Amy Cannon. “We have continued to struggle and have challenges  with employee recruitment and retention,” Cannon said.

    Pay for entry-level detention officers will increase by $2,300 to $36,500. The entry-level wage for a sworn deputy sheriff will increase by $1,750 to $39,237. This increase applies to all department classifications, excluding the rank of captain and above.

    “We believe this is a step in the right direction in the process to begin impacting positively our recruitment and retention.” Cannon said.

    07 02 JP Riddle StadiumJ.P. Riddle Stadium renovated

    Fayetteville Technical Community College’s 2020 baseball season will begin Feb. 29 at the newly revamped Trojan Field at J.P. Riddle Stadium, 2823 Legion Rd., with a doubleheader between Fayetteville Tech and Paul D. Camp Community College of Suffolk, Virginia. The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners gifted the stadium to the College two years ago. The men’s baseball teams of FTCC and Freedom Christian Academy will join the Fayetteville Swamp Dogs in utilizing the field and stadium.
    “We thank the Cumberland County Commissioners for this opportunity to be associated with the J.P. Riddle Stadium and to continue the Riddle family’s intent to share this asset with the citizens of Cumberland County,” said Dr. Larry Keen, FTCC president. FTCC’s ownership of J.P. Riddle Stadium provides educational opportunities for staff, faculty and students representing various academic program areas to support of FTCC events, Keen added.

    07 03 Pet Adoption 2PetSmart Charities makes local donation

    Cumberland County Animal Control has been awarded a $30,000 grant by PetSmart Charities to support the adoption of cats and large breed dogs. The funds will be used to pay for spaying and neutering nearly 500 dogs and cats. That will allow the shelter to reduce adoption fee to $28 for selected animals and save more animals, Animal Control Director Elaine Smith said. “We are so excited to receive this grant so that we can really help our harder to adopt... older pets, pets with treatable health issues and our large dogs in particular,” Smith said.

    The Animal Control adoption fee includes a pet’s rabies vaccination, privilege license, microchip and spaying or neutering by a local veterinarian. For more information about adopting a pet from the Animal Control Shelter, call 910-321-6852, or to see all the animals available for adoption, visit http://bit.ly/CCAdoptablePets.

    07 04 citizens academy 2Citizens Academy

    The next Fayetteville Citizens Academy class will be held Wednesday, March 11, with a focus on several divisions of Fayetteville’s Public Services Department, including Traffic Services, Street Maintenance, Stormwater and Solid Waste. Academy participants will have an opportunity to engage in hands-on learning, view equipment, tour facilities and meet city personnel tasked with serving the community. The class size is limited to 25 residents. Class begins at 8:15 a.m. and will conclude at or before 5 p.m. To apply, log on to www.fayettevillenc.gov/citizensacademy, scroll to the bottom of the page and complete the form online. The submission window for this session closes March 2. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by close of business Friday, March 6. “Our one-day Citizens Academy event gives residents an opportunity to see City of Fayetteville staff in their element, doing what they do every day to support and serve our citizens,” said Corporate Communications Director Kevin V. Arata.
    Lunch will be provided, and residents are asked to dress appropriately for the weather and in closed-toe footwear. 

    07 05 Build a Better Murchison 2 Build a Better Murchison

    Planners are in the home stretch of a special Fayetteville event. The Longleaf Pine Realtors Association is using a $5,000 grant from the National Association of Realtors to stage the Build a Better Murchison project March 7. It’s a block party that will take place from 12-5 p.m. at and around Seabrook Auditorium and Bronco Plaza. This temporary demonstration project will add new crosswalks, a greenery-lined median and a two-way bicycle track. The event will feature live music and other entertainment plus food vendors and artists.

    Eric Vitale, a transportation planner with the Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, said, “There could end up being more people attending this event than another one held in Haymount in June 2018.”

    The vendor registration deadline is Tuesday, March 3, at 5 p.m. Meetings for volunteers and interested vendors are scheduled March 3, 4 and 5. Visit the website if you want to learn more www.betterblockfaync.com.
  • 09 Soldiers studyingFayetteville Technical Community College has again been ranked among the top five Military Friendly® large community colleges in the nation for 2020-21. The prestigious designation by the national Military Friendly® Schools Program affirms FTCC’s commitment to providing military members, veterans and their families with high-quality educational services that are affordable and convenient.

    A wide range of classes and programs are available in a variety of settings on FTCC’s campuses at Fort Bragg and online. The school awards appropriate credits for prior military learning and follows up with comprehensive services to meet the special educational needs of military personnel and their families. FTCC’s All American Veterans Center on the school’s main campus provides educational assistance and support to veterans. A Transition Tech program provides industry-focused training for military members who are preparing for civilian life.

    The North Carolina Military Business Center headquartered at Fayetteville Tech works to support the integration of skilled transitioning military personnel and veterans into the civilian workforce.

    The mission of the NCMBC is to leverage military and other federal business opportunities to expand the economy, grow jobs and improve quality of life in North Carolina. “FTCC is pleased to be recognized again nationally as one of the best Military Friendly colleges in the large community college ratings,” said Dr. Mark Sorrells, FTCC’s senior vice president for Academic and Student Services.

    The Military Friendly® Schools rankings are compiled each year by Viqtory, an independent media firm that promotes economic opportunities for veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses. The 2020-21 Military Friendly® Schools list will be included in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine, which is published by Viqtory and is also available at www.militaryfriendly.com. The term “military” refers to all people in the military community, including active duty, reserve and National Guard service members, veterans and military spouses. It’s a trademarked name because there are several copycat military lists and ratings programs that don’t possess the rigor and history of Military Friendly®.

    The ratings are based on extensive data from public sources and responses from a proprietary survey. Final ratings are determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans. More than 1,000 schools participated in the 2020-21 survey, with 695 earning the Military Friendly® designation.
    The rankings distinguish the top 10 Military Friendly® schools in several categories, including large community colleges. Top 10 schools, such as FTCC, are awarded gold status, as are those that score within 10% of the 10th-ranked school. Visit https://www.faytechcc.edu/military-veterans to learn more about FTCC’s programs for the military and veterans.

    Fayetteville Technical Community College was established in 1961 and serves over 38,000 students annually by providing over 280 occupational, technical, general education, college transfer and continuing education programs to meet the needs of students and the community. It is the fourth-largest community college in the state and boasts one of the largest Continuing Education departments. Visit FTCC’s website at www.faytechcc.edu.

  • 06 Financial advisorInternational Women’s Day 2020 is observed on March 8. This special day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
    Yet, women still face gender barriers as they seek to achieve their financial goals.

    How can you address these challenges?

    To begin with, you need to be awareof what you’re up against. The wage gap between men and women has closed somewhat, but it hasn’t disappeared. Full-time female employees earn about 82% of what men earn, according to the Census Bureau. Over a 40-year career, a woman who worked full time would lose, on average, more than $400,000 because of this wage gap, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

    Furthermore, a woman turning age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 86.5; for a 65-year-old man, the comparable figure is 84. Those two-and-a-half years can amount to a lot more living expenses.

    Plus, by taking time off from the workplace to raise children and care for elderly family members, women often end up with lower balances in their 401(k)s and IRAs than men.

    So, what can you do to help eventhe playing field, in terms of building adequate resources for retirement? Here are a few suggestions:

    • Contribute as much as possible to your retirement plans. During your working years, put in as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan.

    Most people don’t come anywhere near the 401(k) contribution limit, which, in 2020, is $19,500, or $26,000 if you’re 50 or older, and you might not be able to reach it, either, but strive to do the best you can. And every time your salary increases, bump up your annual contribution. If you are able to “max out” on your 401(k), you may still be able to contribute to an IRA.

    If your income exceeds certain limits, you can’t contribute to a Roth IRA, which offers tax-free withdrawals of earnings if you meet certain conditions, but you may still be able to fund a traditional IRA, although the tax deductibility may be reduced or eliminated.

    • Use Social Security wisely. You can start taking Social Security as early as 62, but your checks can be larger if you wait until your full retirement age, which will likely be between 66 and 67. And if you’re married, you may be able to choose between claiming your own benefits or receiving 50% of your spouse’s benefits, which could help you if your spouse has considerably higher earnings. Your spouse does not lose any benefits if you choose this route.

    • Look for every opportunity to save and invest. As mentioned above, women often lose out on some retirement savings when they take time away from the workforce to raise families and eventually become caregivers for elderly parents. But even if you aren’t working full time, it doesn’t mean you have no chance to boost your retirement savings. If you can do any paid work, whether it’s part time or as a consultant, you can contribute to an IRA — and you should.

    It’s not easy to overcome the structural disadvantages women face when seeking to reach financial security. Taking advantage of the savings and investment possibilities available can help.

  • 23 01 Danielle NovakDanielle Novak

    South View • Softball/volleyball • Senior

    Novak has a 3.6379 grade point average. She is a member of Health Occupations Students of America, the Tiger Stripes Club and Buddy Special Olympics.

    23 02 Davin SchmidtDavin Schmidt

    South View • Soccer• Senior

    Schmidt has a 4.5833 grade point average. He is the National Honor Society President, Spanish Honor Society President, a member of the Academy of Scholars and ranks first in the senior class.

  • 02 Money on fireAccording to its Wikipedia page, the Bizarro World “is a fictional planet appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics.... In popular culture, ‘Bizarro World’ has come to mean a situation or setting which is weirdly inverted or opposite to expectations.” Many Americans may feel like we are living in a “weirdly inverted or opposite” world.

    If you are over 30 years old, you were probably brought up believing our nation was built on hard work and free enterprise. In America, we are free to work hard, study hard and express ourselves in totally uninhibited dimensions. These freedoms bring forth amazing, innovative entrepreneurial ideas and accomplishments —  ideas that give birth to more creative ideas and ventures that create opportunities and jobs that provide wages for families to exist, experience and enjoy America’s unique way of life. In turn, we have more ideas, more opportunities, more jobs and more wealth. And, the more wealth that accumulates the more opportunities for investment. These notions add up to be an abridged definition of capitalism with a capital C.

    However, lately, many people in our country have been introduced to an opposing ideology: democratic socialism. Welcome to Bizarro World! It makes no difference what race you are or what your political stances are. Democratic socialism is an ideology that threatens our freedom, deteriorates morality, and just generally negatively affects our nation indiscriminately.
    Along with this ideology comes ignoring our own laws. Illegal activities become legal. Good is perceived as being evil. For example, police and law enforcement once looked upon as guardians of humanity are now perceived as the enemy and have become targets of random hostility.  Immigration Customs Enforcement once honored for their valor in keeping Americans safe from outside threats are now chastised, ridiculed and harassed for doing their jobs. In spite of federal law, sanctuary cities are becoming prolific. In Bizarro World fashion, these cities can actually protect and harbor criminals whose mission is to rob, harm and terrorize innocent Americans regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. In Bizarro World, crime goes unpunished, prisoners get to vote, and victims’ voices are silenced or ignored.

     It’s our government allowing this to happen and it’s our apathy that allows the government to continue the lying and mocking of our Constitution. And, while all this governmental dysfunction is going on unabated, much of the media has become a willing partner in creating and disseminating fake news, keeping Americans ignorant and uninformed.

    Most Americans have no idea this new political ideology has been created: democratic socialism.

    There is nothing democratic about socialism. This unorthodox ideology has radiated directly from Bizarro World for several reasons. Firstly, socialism is anti-capitalist. Secondly, socialism has never succeeded anywhere in the world. Thirdly, the biggest anti-capitalist, pro-socialist advocates are rich, very well-to-do millionaires. It’s easy for them to tout free health care, free college, free this, free that when never offering up a plan on how they are going to pay for these entitlements.

    America was built on capitalism and a free enterprise way of life. As a result we have become the greatest nation in the world. We have succeeded where other countries have failed and continue to fail. Why would anyone think a made-up ideology like democratic socialism would work in America? It is my hope that people come to their senses and realize Bizarro World is not the real world. There is no such thing as democratic socialism; however, communism is real. In the real world, hard work, truth, mercy and goodness have always triumphed. That’s the American way!

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 22 01 Vernon AldridgeThe schedule is set for the annual Cumberland County Schools Football Jamboree, with few changes from last year’s event.
    This year’s games will be Thursday, Aug. 13 at South View High School and Friday, Aug. 14, at Terry Sanford High School. That will be the first athletic event held in Terry Sanford’s rebuilt stadium.

    There is no rain date for either scrimmage. A final decision on ticket prices will be made at next month’s Cumberland County Schools athletic directors meeting.
    Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the Cumberland County Schools, said all of the non-Cumberland County schools that took part in last year’s jamboree asked to return this season.

    22 02 Bill SochovkaOne of the main reasons may have been a change Aldridge made last year, switching the format from what most jamborees do in having four teams on the field at the same time, each pair playing on half the field.

    Last year, Cumberland County changed to a full-field format for each scrimmage session. Aldridge indicated that was a hit with the coaches.

    “It allowed them to open up their playbooks,’’ Aldridge said. “It also allowed them to know they could return punts, and to get in some snaps out there with the kicker
    and punter.’’

    Pine Forest football coach Bill Sochovka, who has spent 25 years at the school, the last 13 as head coach, echoed some of Aldridge’s points about the advantage of full-field
    scrimmages.

    “It gives a really good sense of where your kids are in terms of game preparation,’’ he said. He added it’s a benefit for younger players, especially quarterbacks, who get a better sense of the speed of the game on a full field.

    “You coach all year, do your 7-on-7’s, then all of a sudden you’ve got a full rush,’’ Sochovka said. “It also helps when you break down film the following week.’’

    Another big plus since Aldridge expanded the county scrimmage to bring in more outside teams is Cumberland County Schools don’t have to see someone they’ll play in the regular season.

    “You don’t want to do that,’’ Sochovka said of meeting a regular-season opponent in a scrimmage setting.’’

    Here is the schedule for the 2020 BSN Cumberland County Schools Football Jamboree:
     
    Thursday, Aug. 13 at South View High School
    5 p.m. - Lumberton vs. Douglas Byrd
    6 p.m. - Hoke County vs. Overhills
    7 p.m. - Union Pines vs. Gray’s Creek
    8 p.m. - Clinton vs. Pine Forest
    9 p.m. - Seventy-First vs. South View

    Friday, Aug. 14 at Terry Sanford High School
    5 p.m. - Apex Friendship vs. Triton
    6 p.m. - St. Pauls vs. Westover
    7 p.m. - Richmond Senior vs. Cape Fear
    8 p.m. - Scotland vs. Terry Sanford
    9 p.m. - E.E. Smith vs. Jack Britt
  • 18 PosterRonnie Holland knows firsthand what a successful organ transplant can mean to someone in need of a second chance at life.

    Five years ago, his daughter had a successful liver transplant at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

    Now, Holland wants to help other people in need of a similar life-saving procedure, or charity for other needs.

    After he retired several years ago, he formed a band he named Common Ground. As an outreach ministry of Hope Mills United Methodist Church, Holland’s goal is for his band to help various individuals and charities in need of financial help by holding concerts to raise money.

    The first one is scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 7th, at Hope Mills United Methodist Church at 4955 Legion Road. There is no charge for admission but donations will be accepted after the service.

    Holland preferred asking for donations rather than having a set admission price. “We want people to feel led to do what they want to do,’’ he said.

    The first concert will benefit the Jason Ray Foundation. The foundation was created in memory of Jason Ray, who wore the Rameses mascot costume for the University of North Carolina before he was killed in a traffic accident.

    Ray donated his organs to others, and the foundation was started to raise money for the UNC Hospital Comprehensive Transplant Center Foundation.

    “This is something that’s near and dear to my heart,’’ Holland said. “I hope it takes off. Whether it’s one person or 100,000, we’re going to sing.’’

    Members of Holland’s group include Belinda Davis, Linda Currie, Janet Beaty, Dave Probus, Morrie Turner and Scott Reese. A special guest at the first concert will be guitarist Brad Muffet, who formerly played with nationally-known artist B.J. Thomas.

    The group will perform a variety of music during the event, Holland said. Selections will include gospel, 60’s music, beach music, bluegrass and blues.Light refreshments will be served after the concert.

    Holland said the sanctuary of the Hope Mills church will hold about 200. If the sanctuary is full, he said they can stream video of the performance into the church family life center. “I hope it gets too big and we have to go somewhere else,’’ he said.

    The event is called the Living Water Benefit, which is illustrated in an original painting by one of the group’s members, Linda Currie.
    It shows a waterfall flowing underneath a cross.

    Holland said the picture symbolizes that Jesus Christ died to free everyone from sin. Water is included because everyone needs water to live, and water is used to baptize believers.

    He sees the transplant as being similar since it gives the recipient a new life.

    If anyone has questions or would like to make a donation, they can contact Holland at 910-624-4166 or by email at ronnieholland51@gmail.com.

  • 11 julio rionaldo xIoze9dH4WI unsplashThe Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra’s “In Their Footsteps” concert is one that will be a classic and a performance the whole famioy can enjoy.
    The concert will take place at Huff Concert Hall at Methodist University on March 7. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m.

    During this performance, the audience will experience the skills of the symphony’s talented musicians and travel with them and the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra as they walk in the footsteps of classical composers and even a North Carolina composer.

    What started in 1956 as a simple orchestra has expanded into an incredible group of musicians that performs all across the community of Fayetteville. The mission of the orchestra is to educate, entertain and inspire the citizens of Fayetteville, North Carolina as the region’s leading musical resource.

    Before the concert, a preshow talk will take place. This preshow talk will be a formal interview done by the Music Nerd,  Dr. Joshua Busman.

    Jesse Hughes is the executive director of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. When asked about the preshow talk that will take place beforehand, he said “ It’s an informal interview that involves Dr. Joshua Busman who is a professor of composition at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The purpose of it is to give the audience insight into the lives of musicians from a practical standpoint. In other words, he will interview some of the musicians and ask them how did they prepare for a concert or for a particular concert, when they became interested in music and at what age, and things like that, and establish a connection with the audience.”

    About the theme, Hughes said, “The theme was programmed by our musical director. It pays homage to great composers that have gone before. It’s a combined program that combines the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra. So, it is basically the young following in the footsteps of the old.”
    Composer Hector Berlioz takes center stage this performance. “First off, the concert is going to focus on a composer named Hector Berlioz. Mr. Berlioz is a well known classical composer, so its basically paying homage to his work. Also, that first half is going to feature a composition by a North Carolina native, Jacob Hensen, who is currently pursuing his master’s degree at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.”

    “Then the second half of the program features music by composers based on American style music such as the Suite of Old American Dances. The type of music they are playing is called academic music. It is performed more by bands at the high school and college level. So, it is very popular in those populations.

    “What makes it fun is the cultural enrichment it brings to the community, the involvement, and  the connection that is established with the orchestra and the patrons, especially when we play pieces that people can relate to.

    “I think they are important because they provide cultural enrichment. It denotes the example of the accomplishment of something that requires regiment and discipline. It’s also something that captivates the community and is all inspiring.”

    For information on how to buy tickets go to fayettevillesymphony.org.
     
  • 05 Colvins buildingDear Thomas Batson, Jeremy Fiebig, Gordon Johnson, Tiffany Ketchum, George Turner, Henry Tyson and Liz Varnadoe,

    I recently read an article printed in the Feb. 5-11 issue of Up and Coming Weekly, “Six to one. Mayor wins. Fayetteville loses!” It describes how the current mayor of Fayetteville, Mr. Mitch Colvin, made significant changes to the exterior of his building, the old Kress building, located downtown. These changes were made without adhering to the Certificate of Appropriateness guidelines.

    This has a serious consequence, as I see it, in that you, the Historic Resources Commission, would allow this to happen. The guidelines now become moot. What is the purpose of having those guidelines if you won’t adhere to them? After all, a 6-to-1 vote by the Commission allowing Colvin’s changes says that you would rather not even consider the guidelines put into place to protect downtown Fayetteville’s appearance that would apply to any business owner who operates in a building downtown, not just someone in a leadership position. Bruce Arnold, owner of Rude Awakening coffee shop, pointed out that the changes to the Kress building violated the COA guidelines. He voted against approval as each of you could have and should have voted, yet he was made a victim by pointing out the violation. This is appalling and shows a true lack of leadership on your part.

    Why have this Commission? As for actions of leadership for a personal benefit, is this another case of being handed the keys to the Ferrari just after obtaining one’s driver’s license? A similar situation with downtown property will come up again with business owners who may want to make changes to suit their personal tastes.

    Rick Bryant, Fayetteville citizen

  • 16 spare tireWalt Brinker, 1966 West Point graduate, retired US Army infantry lieutenant colonel and Vietnam War veteran, retired civilian project manager, instructor at FTCC, and Eastover resident, has provided well over 2,000 free-of-charge roadside assists as a hobby. With experience from these assists he wrote a book, “Roadside Survival: Low-Tech Solutions to Automobile Breakdowns,” for the everyday motorist. He also set up a website, “roadsidesurvival.com,"  to help individuals, driver education teachers and law enforcement. This vignette captures one of his many assists along with lessons:

    On July 11, 2014, as I was descending from a high level at the large parking garage at Duke Medical Center, I spotted an older Chevrolet pickup with a flat left rear tire and a family standing around. The 40-something year old male driver, whom I’ll call “Willie," looked at my car as I stopped and rolled down my right-side window and asked him, “What do you need?” He replied, “I need air." Turns out his tire had gone flat while his family was in the hospital. He asked if I could pump up his flat tire, and I agreed to. I asked him whether he had a spare tire and would prefer me to mount it. I showed him the plug in the pickup’s rear bumper, which would need to be unlocked with his ignition key and removed in order to insert the segmented shafts to engage the spare’s lowering mechanism. He showed me his ignition key, which was missing ¾ inch off its tip, so it would not unlock the plug. I asked him how he started his engine with that key. He replied, “I have to jimmy it to make it work.”

    I also offered to use my jack and other tools to remove his flat tire, find and plug its leak and reflate it. Willie replied that one of his children had a medical disorder that likely would cause him to become upset during such a delay. So I used my compressor to reinflate Willie’s flat tire. I reminded Willie that he needed to get his tire fixed right away, since it soon would be flat again. Smiles, handshakes, lots of thank-yous and we departed.

    Walt’s tips:
    • Don’t set yourself up to fail, especially with a family in tow: Bad ignition key that would barely start the engine and would not permit access to the spare tire. Cost to replace an older vehicle’s key: $8-$10.
    • Without access to the spare tire, it’s just like not having one.
    • Stowing a 12-volt compressor permits re-inflating low and flat tires with slow leaks — and spare tires that have gone flat.

  • 13 commuinty concertsGreat entertainment. It’s what Community Concerts is known for. This all-volunteer organization has been bringing first-rate productions to Fayetteville since 1935. And well into its 84th season, the streak continues with two of Motown’s biggest groups — The Temptations and The Four Tops. The concert is set for Friday, March 6, at the Crown at 7:30 p.m.

    Independently, the groups boast genre-defining hits and fan bases that span generations. Together, they bring an authentic musical experience that has audiences coming back again and again to hear favorites like  “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Something About You,” “Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over),” “Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever” and “I Can’t Help Myself” from the Four Tops and  “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Treat Her Like a Lady” from The Temptations.

    While the groups found success independently in the Motown era, they came together in 1983 for a television special called “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever.” Part of the show featured a battle of the bands between The Four Tops and The Temptations. There was such a great dynamic between the bands that they decided to take their performance on the road, touring off and on together ever since.

    Founding member of The Temptations, Otis Williams, noted that even after 60 years, the band still delivers first-rate performances for its fans “For those that have seen us, we will be true to what they know and what we are known for is the high stepping, the sharp clothes and moving in synchronicity. We only know one way to be, and that is the Temptations.”

    With six decades of music history behind the band and a bevy of honors to their name, The Temptations are as busy as ever. Williams’ story is the source for the smash-hit Broadway musical, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” which opened on the Great White Way March 21, 2019, and received 12 Tony nominations and won the “Tony Award for Best Choreography” at the 73rd Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City  on June 10, 2019. On March 24, the audio edition of Williams’ critically acclaimed autobiography, Temptations, written by Williams with The New York Times best-selling writer Patricia Romanowski is set for release as an audiobook. The book was the source for the Emmy-Award Winning television miniseries, “Temptations,” and the current smash hit Broadway musical, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” with the Tony-winning choreography. “Our journey as told through the lens of my life transcends generations and cultures,” said Williams. “There are so many wonderful things happening. The audiobook, the Broadway play, and we are getting ready to go into the studio and do our anniversary album. We have a lot of irons in the fire.”

    Also founded in the 1960s, The Four Tops have influenced a variety of genres, including soul music, rhythm and blues, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz and show tunes. Like The Temptations, The Four Tops have earned numerous awards including The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Grammy Hall Of Fame. Their music is timeless.

    The last concert of the Community Concerts season is The Oakridge Boys. It is set for Thursday, May 21.

    Community Concerts is definitely about concerts; it’s part of the group’s mission to bring “the finest in top-notch entertainment to Fayetteville, N.C. and the Fort Bragg/Cumberland County Community.” The organization is just as much about community, though, offering opportunities and programs that benefit many.

    The organization founded the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame in 2008 to honor people who bring musical distinction to the community. From performers to teachers to producers and more, Fayetteville’s music community’s story is celebrated and preserved here.

    In 2004, Community Concerts started offering college scholarships to local high school students. Since its inception, the program has awarded 32 scholarships.

    Local musicians of all ages benefit from the local artist showcase program, which showcases these performers with selected Community Concerts performances. Recently, Voices of the Heart appeared as an opener for Gladys Knight while children from the Linda Kinlaw School of Dance performed with Martina McBride. Local, emerging country music star Trae Edwards also performed at the Ricky Skaggs show.

    Making great music available to as many people as possible embodies the spirit of the Community Concerts’ mission. So it makes sense that the organization would offer free concert opportunities to different groups with benefactors ranging from young children to senior citizens.  In recent seasons, recipients have included the Vision Resource Center, Urban Ministry, The Sunshine Center, members of local fire and police departments, high school theater art classes, members of our military, and many more.

    For tickets and information about Community Concerts, visit http://www.community-concerts.com/ or search the event on Capefeartix.com.

  • 20 02 George StackhouseWestover High School’s Traymond Willis-Shaw has been named to the North Carolina roster for this year’s Carolinas Classic All-Star basketball game.

    The contest pits the top senior basketball players from North Carolina and South Carolina. It will be played at John T. Hoggard High School in Wilmington on Saturday, March 28.

    Willis-Shaw, a 6-foot-6 wing player for the Wolverines, is a major reason the team rolled to the Patriot Athletic Conference regular-season title and carried a 24-0 record into the opening round of last week’s conference tournament.

    20 Traymond Willis ShawWestover head coach George Stackhouse said Willis-Shaw has been with the Wolverine basketball program since his freshman year at the school.
    He began to occupy a central role on the team after another Wolverine who played in the Carolina Classic, Damani Applewhite, graduated. Applewhite is currently a senior on the basketball team at South Carolina State.

    Through Feb. 17, Willis-Shaw averaged 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for Westover. He’s made 13 3-point baskets and is hitting 71% of his free throws.
    Stackhouse said Willis-Shaw is a major contributor for the Wolverines on the defensive end of the floor.

    “When he’s active, our defense is so much better,’’ Stackhouse said. “He’s a very good finisher in transition. Our crowd gets going when he throws down a slam or two. It does a lot as far as giving our guys energy and our crowd energy as well.’’

    Willis-Shaw said he’s looking forward to playing in the game and hoping it will increase the looks he’s been getting from colleges. So far he’s had interest from such schools as South Carolina State, Queens, Radford, Mount Olive, UNC-Greensboro, North Carolina Central and Lincoln Memorial.

    “I want to stay closer to home,’’ Willis-Shaw said of his pending college choice. “My parents want to make some games.’’

    Stackhouse said having Willis-Shaw picked for the all-star team give the school a lot of positive publicity. “Traymond goes out and represents himself and the school well,’’ Stackhouse said.

    As far as Westover’s season is concerned, Stackhouse said neither he nor the team is focusing on the unbeaten record and don’t see it as a distraction as they prepare for the conference tournament and state playoffs to follow.

    “We’ve been focusing on each day at practice, trying to get better,’’ Stackhouse said. “We try not to look at any game as a big game. All of them are important.’’
    Stackhouse thinks the regular season has prepared Westover well for the games ahead.

    “We played some tough non-conference teams,’’ he said. “I think we play in one of the toughest conferences, just having to go through that conference and see different styles.

    “If we continue to win, we’ll have a lot of home games and hopefully it will give us an advantage.’’

    Willis-Shaw said the Wolverines have made it where they are with teamwork. “We help each other with everything,’’ he said. “We play together as a team. We get the work done by everybody playing their role and playing hard.’’

    He hopes to do the same in the all-star game. “I just want to play hard, get rebounds and finish in the paint,’’ he said.

  • 17 Brower ParkHere are some Hope Mills news odds and ends taken from recent reports compiled by Town Manager Melissa Adams:

    Work is getting close to completion on the temporary headquarters for the Hope Mills Police Department located in the former Ace Hardware Building on
    Main Street.

    It is estimated the construction will be completed by early to midMarch. Moving from the current police station on Rockfish Road to the new location will begin as soon as construction has ended and is expected to be finished by the end of March.

    The temporary police headquarters will be known as Main Street Police Station. The temporary location will be used during construction of the new public safety building for the fire and police departments at the current location on Rockfish Road.

    The town has again been notified by the Department of the Army that it will be conducting training exercises in Hope Mills. The Army held similar training events in the town last year.

    The Special Warfare 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) will be holding exercises March 2-27, June 1-26 and Aug. 10-Sept. 4. All Army personnel involved will be in civilian clothes and display military ID. The training should not draw any attention from the public.

    Registration for spring sports with the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department continues through Saturday, Feb. 29.
    Available sports include baseball for ages 5-14, softball for ages 7-15 and indoor soccer for ages 5-12. Registration for wrestling has already concluded because that sport opens its season in March.

    Youth baseball and softball will conduct drafts the first two weeks of March. The opening day for baseball and softball is Saturday, April 4, at 9 a.m. at Brower Park on Rockfish Road.

    Hope Mills will host district baseball and softball tournaments during the upcoming season.

    The tournaments include District 6 Dixie Softball, ages 7-15, six divisions, June 19-21 and District 11 Dixie Youth Baseball, 10U and 12U, June 26-30.

    Beginning this fall, the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department will add girls’ volleyball for ages 9-17 to the sports program.

    The staff is working with the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department and Freedom Christian Academy to coordinate scheduling. Registration for the first season of girls’ volleyball will be held in June.

    Because of possible safety issues at the vacant lot where the former Christ Episcopal Church Parish House stood, the Hope Mills Public Works Department has been seeking quotes to install a fence along the parking lot side of the property as well as the rear of the vacant lot.

    Prior to the Monday, Feb. 17, meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Adams reported three quotes had been received. After all the quotes have been studied, a decision on who will build the fence is expected soon, with work to install the fence to follow quickly.

    In addition to the plans for the fence, the Public Works staff will be grading and seeding the lot when the planting season arrives in the spring.

    Parks and Recreation director Lamarco Morrison and Planning and Executive Development Director Chancer McLaughlin will be involved in the process as both have prior experience with landscaping architecture.

    Morrison and McLaughlin will work with the town’s Appearance Commission to come up with a basic landscaping design for the vacant lot. The plan is to eventually include the lot in the Heritage Park Master Plan.


    The Hope Mills Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, Inc., will hold a Black History Month Oratorical Contest on Saturday, Feb. 29, in the large activity room at Hope Mills Recreation Center.

    The competition will be held from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., and high school students from grades 9-12 will be competing. Prizes of $150 for first, $75 for second and $50 for third place will be awarded.

    The Special Events and Programs Division of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department recently conducted training for the staff in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. As a result, the entire full-time staff of the Parks and Recreation Department is certified in CPR.

    If you’ve got an important event coming up in Hope Mills or know of a story you’d like us to pursue, we’d love to hear about it. Please share your Hope Mills news with us via email at hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 14 CollegeCommunity colleges around the globe are tasked with creating a comprehensive curriculum, and Fayetteville Technical Community College is no different. We have created programs and coursework meant to enrich the lives of our students and to help them reach their goals, with the understanding that all students come through our doors differently prepared for the rigors of such study. In the mathematics department, we have developed a new approach to the curriculum under the advice of the North Carolina Community College System. This approach is commonly referred to as RISE, which is short for Reinforced Instruction for Student Excellence.

    The RISE program at FTCC places students in a series of courses based on their past experiences with mathematics content. Students exhibiting proficiency with pre-college skills are placed directly into a first-year mathematics course. However, not all students have a skill set that is college ready. Researchers have argued for years that some students do not need a full treatment of pre-college coursework — simply a level of support to reinforce their efforts in a mathematics course, while others may need a deeper treatment. In recognition of these arguments, in the Fall of 2019, FTCC began offering support courses to supplement students needing that little bit of a push, while also creating a new precollege course with content mastery at its core. All courses in the RISE program are taught by our world-class faculty and are offered both on campus and online.

    Since the implementation of the RISE program at FTCC, our students have experienced unprecedented success. More students are completing their mathematics requirements at a faster pace while maintaining the standards of excellence espoused by the administration of the college. Students say that the support they get through the faculty working with the RISE program provides “just-in-time” remediation, boosting their knowledge of the material and building their confidence as budding consumers of mathematics. Although we are still in the initial phase of this program, we fully expect to see our students progress into other courses with a firm foundation in mathematics and ultimately leave our institution prepared to use this skill set in the career of their choice.

    At FTCC, we strive to make your dreams a reality. Whether you are a seasoned academic or relatively new to higher education, we have a pathway built just for you. Learn more about all the programs we have to offer at FTCC by visiting our website at www.faytechcc.edu. FTCC offers over 280 academic programs of study in the fields of arts and humanities, math and sciences, business, computer technology, engineering/applied technology, health and public service. There’s something for everyone, and your dreams are our mission at Fayetteville Technical Community College.

  • 12 ROOTEDWomen rock! We bring home the bacon, cook it and enjoy eating every piece of it. Women are an integral force in society, and they make a difference in the lives of others. Women deserve to be celebrated,  which is why Cape Fear Botanical Garden presents the 1st Annual 2020 Women’s Summit “Rooted,” Saturday, Feb. 29. from 9 a.m. to
    5 p.m. at Cape Fear Botanical Garden.  

    “This is our first ever Women’s Summit to happen at the garden, and it is all things women — shopping, fashion, home, health and beauty” said Lia Hasapis, marketing coordinator of the Cape Fear Botanical Garden.  “Anything you can imagine will be here.”

    The idea of the Women’ Summit originated from Sheila Hanrick, director of events at Cape Fear Botanical Garden. “She thought it would be something different to do and something that is centered just around women and local businesses in town that support women as well as encourage women to have their own specific event,” said Hasapis. “We loved the idea. This event will be a fun thing because you will be able to renew and energize after a long winter.”

     The event will feature local women speakers, workshops and vendors. The speakers include Dr. Connie Brooks Fernandez, owner of Allure Aesthetics & Medical Spa; Donna Everhart, USA Today’s best-selling author; Alexandra Badgett, Miss North Carolina 2019; Judith Cage, chef, business owner and guest on the Food Network; and Dr. Patrice Carter, Christian Life Coach, author and motivational speaker. The workshops are a pregnant and postpartum fitness workshop with Erica Royster, self-defense with M J Fitness, makeup with MBM and Simply Liz Love, creating a calming space with Monique Tuset, financial goals with Monique Tuset and stunning succulents with Amy Stidham. Vendors will also be on-site.              
          
    “We just opened our Garden View Café — Elite Catering owns and operates it, and they will be here serving lunch,” said Hasapis. “We also have a few food trucks who will be coming, they are Hello Crepe and Java Express.”

    Hasapis added there will be a travel agency vendor that will share what kinds of fun trips you can go on with your girlfriends or family members. Jordan Essentials will have household products, not just beauty products for your skin. They are made from homemade USA natural products to enhance your health. Total Life Changes with Vivian Baldwin will tell you how you can lose weight using supplements.   

    “Dr. Connie Brooks Fernandez will discuss aging gracefully and she will do a live demo of Botox and share all the things you can do at her medical spa,” said Hasapis. “We will have a yoga workshop. It will teach you stretches you can do at home so that you don’t have to attend a yoga class.

     “We look forward to seeing everyone at our first annual Women’s Summit,” said Hasapis.

    Ticket cost is $15, and it includes a complimentary mimosa. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite and at the door. For more information, call 910-486-0221.

  • 08 African SahelThe Pentagon is reviewing whether there needs to be a troop withdrawal in Africa. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, united against a Trump administration plan to withdraw U.S. troops from part of Africa, pushed back in an exchange with Defense Secretary Mark Esper during a recent meeting. Graham and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., led the charge telling Esper that Congress would not support a U.S. troop withdrawal from the Sahel region in Africa, laying out the reasons to keep the troop presence there. At one point, Graham allegedly told Esper that he could “make your life hell.”  Graham denied making the comment.

    Several other lawmakers laid out their case forcefully. “From a broad security standpoint, the Sahel is a tinderbox of terrorist activity and where violent extremist organizations look to use the space to recruit, adapt and evolve,” AFRICOM spokesman Air Force Col. Chris Karns said.

    Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, AFRICOM commander, is on record saying that violent extremist group activity in the region has increased 250% since 2018.

    The Sahel is the geographic zone in sub-Saharan Africa between the Atlantic ocean and the Red Sea. It includes several nations plagued by international terrorist groups, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria. More than a dozen terrorist groups with links to the Islamic State or al-Qaida, like Boko Haram and al Shabaab, are operating there and other parts of Africa.

    The upsurge in violence from extremist groups in West Africa is moving south from Mali into Burkina Faso, a former French colony that suffered more than 2,200 civilian deaths in 2019 — a steep increase from the nearly 300 civilian deaths in 2018. Thousands of people in Burkina Faso have been displaced because of the violence. Most recent estimates from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs indicate that more than 500,000 people were displaced between January 2019 and January 2020 in Burkina Faso.

    Graham and Coons argued that the number of American troops there is small, the cost to deploy them is low and withdrawal would abandon a major ally in France, whose army is leading the fight against the terrorists there. The U.S. has approximately 6,000 troops in Africa, including 1,000 special operations troops in the Sahel, the region where four Fort Bragg Green Berets lost their lives two years ago. American forces train local troops, provide aerial refueling to French military planes and collect intelligence.
    The senators noted that this is the exact model the Trump administration has been pressing for, where another country leads militarily while the U.S. backs the effort. Graham said it would make no sense to abandon an area where that arrangement is working. Esper explained that he is trying to carry out the National Defense Strategy, which cites Russia and China as the biggest strategic competitors to the U.S., and is attempting to shift American troop priorities accordingly.      

  • 15 bookIs it really just a fairy tale?

    That is what some reviewers of a new book are calling one of my favorite stories. That book is “Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China” by Jung Chang.

    The book profiles and puts in historical context the lives of the three Soong sisters who played important but very different roles in the history of China during the republican revolution and overthrow of the Manchu rule and the later Communist takeover in 1949.

    The “fairy tale” began in the 1880s when Charlie Soong, a Chinese teenager, made his way to Wilmington, where he was baptized. Sponsored by North Carolina Methodists, he went to Trinity College and Vanderbilt University to prepare to return to China as a missionary. Back in China, he went into business, became wealthy and fathered three daughters. How they came to be important figures in Chinese history is the subject of the new book.

    Soong sent all three to study in the U.S., where they learned to speak and read English as well as or better than Chinese.

    The Big Sister of the book’s title is Soong’s oldest daughter, Ei-ling, who married a successful businessman and became wealthy. Red Sister is his middle daughter, Ching-ling, who married Sun Yat-sen, the first president of the Chinese republic.

    Little Sister is his youngest daughter, May-ling, who married Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of China’s Nationalist government.

    I have always been entranced by the North Carolina origins of this amazing and important family. But now, thanks to the new book, I have had to adjust my story.

    First, I learned that the key to the Soong family’s success might have been more due to Charlie’s wife, Ni Kwei-tseng, than to Charlie. Ni came from an important and long-standing Chinese Christian clan and Ni was very devout. May-ling remembered, “I knew my mother lived very close to God... asking God was not a matter of spending five minutes to ask Him to bless her child. …It meant waiting upon God until she felt his leading.”

    Thus the Soong family’s solid Christian identity came not so much from Charlie’s North Carolina Methodist training as from Ni’s family background and her longstanding
    commitment.

    Secondly, I learned that Sun Yat-sen was not the hero I had always believed him to be. In the view of author Jung Chang, Sun was overrated, worked for his own aggrandizement rather than the good of the Chinese people and did not deserve credit for China’s revolution that overthrew the Manchu dynasty that had ruled China for centuries. Although he plotted for the rest of his life to become president of the new Chinese Republic, he served only a few weeks as interim president and spent most of his remaining life opposing those in power and inciting armed rebellion and civil war.

    Sun had a mesmerizing power. His sister-in-law, May-ling, explained, “I have noticed that most successful men are usually not the ones with great power as geniuses but the ones who had such ultimate faith in their own selves that invariably they hypnotize others to that belief as well as themselves.”

    She was describing Sun’s powers and, those of similar self-focused political leaders. Sun’s wife, Ching-ling, once deeply in love with him, became disenchanted with his self-focus. When Sun sought support from the Soviet Union to fund his efforts to take control of all of China, Ching-ling came in contact with Russians and the Communist ideology. After Sun’s death in 1925, she exploited her connection to Sun and styled herself Madam Sun Yat-sen. She used that connection to support the revolutionary efforts of the Mao-led Communists against the forces of May-ling’s husband, Chiang Kai-shek.

    There is no fairy tale ending. Madam Sun Yat-sen and Madam Chiang Kai-shek never reconciled.

  • 03 HandcuffsDonald Trump ignited one of his now expected and frequent firestorms last week by pardoning or commuting the sentences of 11 mostly celebrity felons, some of whose crimes shocked the nation when they occurred.  Most stunning, at least to this writer, was the commutation handed to former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat. Blagojevich went to federal prison for proposing to sell former Senator Barack Obama’s US Senate seat when Obama was elected president, an effort graphically and profanely caught on tape. Blagojevich and Trump knew each other from the former governor’s stint on Trump’s reality show, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” and share an obvious fondness for poufy hairdos. 

    Another lucky recipient of Trump’s forgiveness was former Fayetteville police officer Bernard Kerik, who once served as New York City’s police commissioner and was considered for U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.  He also worked as Rudy Giuliani’s chauffeur and bodyguard. Kerik was serving time for tax fraud among other charges when Trump swooped in to spring from the federal pokey. Plucking Blagojevich and Kerik out of their convictions indicates that Trump is untroubled by public corruption.
    Trump’s use of his magic pen in these and other surprising moments of presidential forgiveness pleases some Americans, notably those who benefit from it, and horrifies and outrages others.  It also continues Trump’s relentless and unprecedented drive toward authoritarian leadership unmatched by any other American President.  Not even Richard Nixon attempted to change our fundamental balance of power so aggressively.

    Perhaps most importantly, if inadvertently, Trump’s pardons and commutations spotlight our nation’s enormous and deeply troubled criminal justice system. Our nation incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, at this moment approximately two million people, most of whom languish in state prison systems.  Roughly thirty-six thousand people are in North Carolina prisons, another nineteen thousand in local N.C. jails, and another eleven thousand in federal facilities in our state.

    One reason for our state and national mass incarceration is a sentencing system that piles on sentences for various offenses, often non-violent ones. This stems from “tough on crime” efforts in the 1970s.  A person convicted of multiple offenses at one time or over time stands to spend years in prison, although the laws may subsequently be changed.  In addition, our parole systems are often ineffective with parole officers too overburdened to make contact with parolees.  In addition, a minor parole violation — a missed court date, perhaps — can trigger long-term re-imprisonment.  North Carolina currently has about twelve thousand people on parole and a whopping eighty-one thousand on probation.

    Conversations are ongoing in North Carolina and in other states, as well, about the need for bail reform.  Many people arrested for low-level criminal offenses, and some serious felonies, are unable to come up with resources to meet bail set by the court and find themselves waiting behind bars for months and sometimes years for their cases to be resolved.  People with similar charges but more resources do not face the same situation, which means the bail system is inherently discriminatory.
    Trump’s seemingly random use of his magic get-out-of-jail-free pen garners headlines and creates much consternation, but it affects only a handful of the millions incarcerated in our nation.  That we lead the world in this sad statistic is deeply troubling.  The United States and North Carolina are overdue for a criminal justice system makeover both to reduce the staggering costs of incarceration and the human toll it takes on those in the system, their families and the people who work within the struggling system.

  • 06 01 Person VotingState and county governments are providing citizens valuable information to encourage their willingness to vote. Voting can be confusing and, some say, disenfranchising. A typical resident may reside in as many as seven different voting districts.

    The Cumberland County Board of Elections has provided registered voters an informative card itemizing the county commission, city council, school board, state house of representatives, state senate, judicial and congressional district numbers. Also provided is a resident’s precinct voting location. The North Carolina Board of Elections has mailed cards delineating election dates, registration deadlines, early voting dates and absentee ballot information.

    The information provided advises voters they will not be required to show photo identification during the March 2020 primary election. The federal courts blocked the requirement which will remain in effect until further order of the court. State and county governments are providing citizens valuable information to encourage their willingness to vote. Voting can be confusing and, some say, disenfranchising. A typical resident may reside in as many as seven different voting districts.

    The Cumberland County Board of Elections has provided registered voters an informative card itemizing the county commission, city council, school board, state house of representatives, state senate, judicial and congressional district numbers. Also provided is a resident’s precinct voting location. The North Carolina Board of Elections has mailed cards delineating election dates, registration deadlines, early voting dates and absentee ballot information. The information provided advises voters they will not be required to show photo identification during the March 2020 primary election. The federal courts blocked the requirement which will remain in effect until further order of the court. 

    06 02 Book Bags 2
    Register of Deeds team honored

    For the past 10 years, the Cumberland County Register of Deeds office has gone above and beyond to help homeless students in Cumberland County Schools by coordinating an annual countywide school supply campaign. Register of Deeds Lee Warren coordinated the effort, which has donated more than 5,000 book bags stuffed with school supplies for students in need. Warren is the first recipient of Cumberland County Schools’ Committed Community Support Award. He received a plaque and was recognized at the February Cumberland County Board of Education meeting on Feb. 11. “Mr. Warren has a heart for the citizens of our community and was touched when one of his former staff members learned about the number of homeless children in the school system,” said social work coordinator Pamela S. Story who nominated him. “Through his positive influence in the community, hundreds of citizens — individually or through companies, businesses and organizations —donated funds, supplies and time to help support ‘the least of these’ in CCS.” 

    06 03 Duane HolderCounty Administration restructuring

    Duane Holder is Cumberland County’s first deputy manager. He had been an Assistant County Manager for Community Support Services since September 2017. The upcoming retirement in June of Assistant County Manager Melissa Cardinali provided County Manager Amy Cannon an opportunity to review her organizational structure, which had included four assistant managers. “Duane has earned the respect and confidence of the department heads he leads and will be a greater asset to the county in this expanded role,” Cannon said. Holder will continue to oversee numerous departments, including Social Services, Public Health, Child Support, Community Development and Veterans Services. He will also lead the county’s budget division. Holder earned a Master of Public Administration from East Carolina University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Mount Olive College. 

    The Wilmington Insurrection06 04 wilmington

     The Arts Council of Fayetteville-Cumberland County and the Black On Black Project will co-host a film screening of “Wilmington on Fire.” On the morning of Nov. 10, 1898, in Wilmington, North Carolina, a massive fire was the beginning of an attack that took place seven blocks east of the Cape Fear River, about 10miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. By sundown, the local newspaper had been torched, as many as 60 people had been murdered, and the local government that was elected two days earlier had been overthrown and replaced by white supremacists. Given all the violence in U.S. history, it was the only coup d’état to take place on American soil. The film documents the investigation into the race riot. A panel discussion and conversation will follow the film screening with director Christopher Everett and team members from the film. 

    06 05 BunkerWoodpeckers season-opening game
    The Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Class A Advanced MiLB affiliate of the Houston Astros, are pleased to announce the schedule for their 2020 season as well as the initial offering of 2020 half-season tickets. The Woodpeckers open the season at Segra Stadium Thursday, April 9, at 7 p.m., against the Frederick Keys. “Over 250,000 people visited Segra Stadium during our inaugural season,” said Mark Zarthar, president of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. “The response from our community was remarkable. We are eager to reward our fans by offering a 2020 season full of surprises, and hopefully, a Carolina League Championship.” Half-season packages come with a variety of benefits, including schedule flexibility, a ticket exchange program and first right to special events. Thirty-five game packages start at just $340. Full season tickets are also on sale.

  • 07 I 95The need to widen Interstate 95 through North Carolina has been a subject of serious discussion since first suggested by former state Sen. Larry Shaw, D-Cumberland, 10 years ago. Shaw proposed a toll road to pay for widening the 182 miles of highway in North Carolina. The toll road was rejected, but the need for expansion was developed. The North Carolina Department of Transportation began the first phase of construction earlier this month. The Long Branch Road bridge at exit 71 in Harnett County was closed, marking the first stage of a $404 million contract to widen 15 miles of the interstate north of Fayetteville.A contractor will replace the two-lane bridge in Dunn with a taller and longer three-lane overpass. All four ramps will be realigned and tied into the taller bridge. The realignment will make it possible to extend the ramps for drivers merging onto the highway and to separate service roads that now intersect with the ramps. The changes will enhance the safety of the interchange and create room to double the interstate’s travel lanes to eight.

    NCDOT officials estimate the new bridge and upgraded interchange will open in about one year. When the bridge closes, I-95 drivers initially will continue to be allowed to take exit 71 and turn right, but not left. Eventually, all the ramps will be closed, requiring drivers to detour to exit 70. In preparation for closing the Exit 71 bridge, in January crews added temporary pavement and erected concrete barriers to maintain four lanes on the interstate during construction. When a rebuilt exit 71 reopens, the Bud Hawkins Road bridge at exit 70 will close for the same kind of reconstruction for about one year.  

    The overall contract calls for widening I-95 between exit 56 in Eastover and exit 71 in Dunn. The design and right-of-way acquisition for the rest of the route will be completed this year, allowing more construction to proceed by this fall. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2024. The portion of I-95 being widened between mile markers 56 and 71 is funded in part by a $147 million federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant. It is part of a larger project to widen 25 miles of I-95 to eight lanes between I-95 Business/U.S. 301 at exit 56 in Fayetteville and I-40 at exit 81 at Benson in Johnston County. 

    This 25-mile section is the oldest and busiest in the state along I-95, reaching nearly 60,000 vehicles a day in southern Johnston County, according to a 2016 survey.  “I-95 is our East Coast main highway and a vital link in our state for business expansion, residential growth and tourism,” said Grady Hunt, who represents Division 6 on the N.C. Board of Transportation. “This will be a significant investment in North Carolina.”

    The projects mark the state’s first substantial upgrade of I-95, which was built beginning in the 1950s under President Dwight Eisenhower. The sections to be widened were scored using criteria such as congestion management and traffic volume and received funding in the department’s State Transportation Improvement Program.

  • 05 michael jin ipHlSSaC3vk unsplash 1 In my last article for Up & Coming Weekly in the Jan. 8 issue, I wrote about auto insurance coverage and what I would recommend you have to protect yourself in case you are in a car wreck. I explained the difference between liability, uninsured and underinsured coverages. Beyond having adequate auto insurance coverage to protect yourself, the next step is knowing your rights following a car wreck that wasn’t your fault. 

    So back to my prior example of the wreck on the way to the grocery store when the other driver ran a red light and hit you. You are recovering from your injuries, and an insurance adjuster calls or comes by your hospital room or your home and wants to talk to you. You’re on pain medication and the adjuster is asking you details about the wreck. They want to make a recorded statement. They want you to sign a paper to let them get your medical records. They tell you they can get this thing settled up quickly for you. They may even venture to tell you that you probably don’t need a lawyer.

    Most of us would wonder at this point whether or not we have to talk to this insurance adjuster. No, you do not. Many of us would start to worry if we have some pressing time deadline and whether or not we have to talk to them right away. No, you do not. Maybe some of us would also question if we have to sign that medical authorization that the adjuster sent us or handed us along with a pen so they can get our medical records. No, you do not. Then there are those of us who would ask ourselves if we should contact a lawyer. Absolutely. Why? Because a lawyer can explain what your rights are, how all of this insurance works and what the insurance company is obligated to do. A lawyer can guide you through the complexity of the mess you’re in and potentially fight for you for the best outcome possible under the circumstances of your case. That insurance adjuster for that guy/gal who hit you has no obligation to you and their main priority is to pay the least amount of money possible on your claim and get it closed. Your lawyer’s obligation — and priority — is you.

     If you have been in a car wreck that was not your fault, think about getting a consultation with a personal injury lawyer so you will know your rights and have your questions answered. At least then you should have enough information to safely determine if you can handle the claim on your own or if you need the help of a lawyer to work through it. 

    When you have been in a car wreck, it can turn life upside-down as you try to recover physically and economically. Making quick decisions, without all of the necessary information and some solid legal guidance, could result in much greater costs, which you may not realize until it is too late.

  • 13 01 Sharifa Johnson Sharifa Johnson thinks the direction modern education has taken is putting the instruction of children in an unpleasant place.

    “We are taking all the fun out of learning,’’ she said. “We are really trying to focus on test-taking and not creating thinkers.’’

    That’s why she’s created a program called Books N’ Bops, which she feels will put more fun in the learning process but not overlook the importance of  educating young people at the same time. 

    Johnson has scheduled a series of Books N’ Bops sessions at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center on Rockfish Road.

    The next session will be Saturday, Feb. 22, with another session scheduled Saturday, March 21.

    13 02 bnb logoThere will be sessions for two different age groups. The first, at 9:30 a.m., will be for children ages 3-5. The second, for children ages 6-8, will be at 10:30 a.m. Each session will last 45 minutes and the cost is $10 per student.

    To sign up, parents should come to the recreation center office during normal business hours.

    A minimum of five students and a maximum of 15 will be allowed to take part in each class, so parents are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible to assure the class can be held.Johnson started Books N’ Bops eight months ago, drawing on her many years of experience as both an educator and a dancer.She’s been a teacher at all levels of education, from pre-kindergarten through the college years, for a total of 15 years in that role.

    Her dancing career is even longer. Now 37, she got her first taste of dance when her mother took her to see "The Nutcracker" at age five. “I fell in love, so she took me to dance class,’’ Johnson said.

    In the 32 years she’s been a dancer, Johnson said she’s tried just about every discipline there is. “I’ve done ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop and African,’’ she said.

    She attended North Carolina A&T in Greensboro before graduating in 2005 with degrees in English and secondary education. She returned to earn a masters degree in English and African-American literature.

    Johnson sees Books N’ Bops as a way of educating the whole child, but using a simple method to do it. The lesson starts with Johnson reading the children a short book.

    13 01 Sharifa Johnson She and the children discuss different aspects of literature. “If it’s fiction, we talk about things that kid will still be tested on, but we do it in a really fun way,’’ she said.

    After the reading and discussion are over, Johnson teaches the children an originally choreographed dance that is connected to the story they just finished.

    The dance is also a way of instilling confidence in the children as they are given the opportunity to perform. Johnson said connecting the reading element with dance movements creates a long-lasting learning impression. 

    “You’ll remember that dance,’’ she said. “If you hear a song, you’ll remember you did that dance to that. You’ll have a connection to the book and you’ll remember what you were talking about.Because it was a fun activity and something you actually enjoyed doing, the movement helps to put it through the whole body, so the whole body understands the story.’’

    One of the real strengths of Books N’ Bops, Johnson said, is she can adjust it to work with all kinds of age groups, even age groups that might be a little far apart.

    “If you tell me you have a group the ages of five to 12, I can find a book that will engage everyone,’’ Johnson said.

    “I’ll make the dance where it’s easy enough for the younger ones, but the older ones can enjoy it as well.’’

    Johnson said she’s also working on a writing and dance program for older children.

    As for deciding what book to read from, Johnson said she tries to gear it with whatever the popular curriculum is with local teachers in that age group.

    “I’ve done a lot of day cares,’’ she said. “If you’re talking about dinosaurs that week, I’m going to go out and find a dinosaur book.’’

    Johnson said she typically visits local libraries to choose her books, which can vary from the preferred topics of the day to classic books available for children.

    “I have to think about what age group I’m talking to,’’ she said. “That also determines the length of the book I get because their attention span is different.’’

    Johnson said her program is flexible and can be adapted to any setting outside of the traditional school environment that is child friendly. “I can make it come together,’’ she said. “I can be everywhere in the community.’’

    In addition to doing traditional teaching settings, Johnson recently held a Books N’ Bops birthday party. She said she is also able to do church events.

    To find out more about what Books N’ Bops is about, visit Johnson on her Books N’ Bops Facebook and Instagram accounts.

    She can be contacted via email at booksnbops@gmail.com or 919-869-0210.

    “I love teaching and I love dance and I get to share my joy,’’ Johnson said. “Whether it be a kid who finally performs or they actually get literacy concepts, the lights are going off.

    “I just want everyone to love to learn and to love to read and love literacy.’’

  • 11 praying girlI saw an astounding bit of research recently from the book “Get Out Of Your Head” by Jennie Allen, which stated an estimated 60-80% of visits to primary care physicians have a stress-related component, and 75-98% of mental, physical and behavioral illness comes from one's thought life. Psychologists, doctors and scientists have made more discoveries about the brain in the last 20 years than ever before, confirming that mental, physical and behavioral health are all intricately connected in our bodies. 

    I'm personally convinced that if we could do one thing and one thing only, many of our health problems would resolve themselves:

    Take every thought captive to Christ. 

    The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I think taking every thought captive could cure cancer, but I do think it could make a huge difference in improving health overall.

    In that same book, Allen also writes, “The greatest spiritual battle of our generation is being fought between our ears.” I can get on board with that. Most, if not all, of the most prevalent issues today, like body image, jealousy brought on by social media, pressure to be successful, thoughts of not being enough, anger, bitterness, materialism, etc. start in the mind. If we can't shuffle through the 30,000 thoughts we have in a day and find the ones that are healthy, which I imagine are few and far between for most of us, it's no wonder things like depression, anxiety, bullying, violence and suicide plague our society. If we can't control our emotions, we can't control our thoughts. If we can't control our thoughts, we can't control our decisions. If we can't control our decisions, we can't control our behavior. If we can't control our behavior, someone, whether it's ourselves or others, will get hurt. It all starts in the mind.

    I truly believe the Bible proves itself true time and time again, especially when it comes to taking control of our own thoughts. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

    Not only do we know the majority of health problems today exist or are exacerbated by something going on in our minds, but we also know that the brain is constantly changing, whether or not we want it to. What we focus on becomes our reality. Every new thought we allow to take root in us grows and transforms our lives, whether positively or negatively. It changes how we live, what we think of other people, what we think about the world and our place in it and what we think about God. 

    The good news? We actually do have a choice. Our emotions do not have to dictate our lives. We can change our thought patterns. We can rewrite our minds. I personally believe it starts in the Bible. God wants you to have the fruits of his spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Start in his word, and be transformed by the renewing of your mind. It truly does start there.

  • 02 markus spiske ZKNsVqbRSPE unsplashWhen circumstances merit, our publisher, Bill Bowman, yields this space so others can address topics that are important to the community. This week, he yields to Gray’s Creek resident Janice Burton to share the letter she sent to North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan.Burton is the former associate publisher of Up & Coming Weekly.

    Secretary Regan:I am one of many citizens who live in the Gray’s Creek community and who are threatened by the chemical contamination by Chemours. I know that there are literally thousand of us who are nameless and faceless people whose stories you do not know and, from decisions made by your department, do not care about. 

    But I care, so if you will indulge me, I would like to share them with you.

    Cumberland County is known as a place of history, heroes and a hometown feeling. Gray’s Creek is the embodiment of that. For centuries, the founding families of this community have lived, worked and worshipped here. I back this up by mentioning the McNeill family that still has the land grant that the King of England issued to their family prior to the American Revolution. They, and people like the Riddles and the Canadys, have farmed their lands and provided fresh vegetables for their families and their neighbors. Now, they are afraid to farm their land, let alone feed their produce to their families or sell it to their neighbors. Chemours and you, by failure to act in a responsible manner, are killing that proud history and heritage.

    Heroes. Over the past two decades, soldiers and their families have moved into the community seeking peace and quiet — far from the gates of Fort Bragg. That is my story and those of many other military families — my husband was deployed 13 years of my son’s 19 years of life. We moved to the area, found a church family filled with those families who settled this ground, and who took us in and made us family.

    My husband found peace and friendship with the old men who gather to drink coffee at the corner store. They call it getting the news, but it’s a community and that’s what those heroes who moved here were looking for. These men who literally have fought for 20 years and came back alive now have an enemy they can’t fight, and they can’t protect home and hearth because you gave Chemours an out to do the least amount possible.

    Every single house that has contamination should have a full home system put in — not a stopgap measure. Daily, new reports are coming out that are proving that the PFAS go through the skin — so giving us drinking water and sink systems isn’t helping. They (Chemours), and you by lack of responsible action, still have a loaded gun pointed at all of us.As the person who is supposed to protect our health, you are the one pulling the trigger. I have told you about our community and the stories of the people who live here. But you need to know these people, my family, deserve more than the minimum. The people of Cumberland County should not have to bear the burden of paying for water to be extended — and we shouldn’t have to wait for years and continue being poisoned.

    Chemours’ pockets are deep and you have the ability to make them do the right thing — right now. Not after it is too late. You need to step up to the plate and take care of the people you are sworn to protect. Whole-house systems for every affected home or immediate expansion of water to everyone, paid for by Chemours, are the only two options that are acceptable.

    I urge you to do the right thing for the people of this community — not for the deep pockets of Chemours.
    Janice Burton
    Gray’s Creek resident

     

    Thanks to Chemours, local farmers who have worked the land for generations are afraid to farm their lands, much less feed their produce to their families and neighbors.

  • 16 britney watsonBritney Watson

    Pine Forest  • Cross country• Junior

    Watson has a  4.25 grade point average. Her favorite subject is science. She loves R&B and hanging out with friends and family. Her inspiration for track is to follow her sister's footsteps. She runs outdoor track and loves the 100-meter hurdles.


    16 02 Colby BlackwellColby Blackwell

    Pine Forest • Swimming• Senior

    Blackwell has a 4.38 grade point average.  He will attend UNC-Wilmington and major in Coastal Engineering. His favorite swimming events are the 100 breast stroke and 400 freestyle relay.  Science is his favorite subject. He won the Coaches Award for swimming. He loves hanging with friends and playing tennis.

  • 08 DMV REAL ID CardBeginning Oct. 1, 2020, federal government agencies will enforce the REAL ID Act, which requires a REAL ID card, U.S. passport or other approved identification to board commercial airline flights and enter military reservations. The North Carolina REAL ID is a driver’s license that is just like a traditional license or ID except that it has a gold star at the top right corner. Driver’s licenses and IDs without gold stars note, “Not for Federal Identification.”

    The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The law established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. North Carolina is in compliance.

    The REAL ID is completely optional. You do not need an N.C. REAL ID driver’s license or identification card to do any of the following: drive, vote, apply for or receive federal benefits, visit a post office, access a hospital or receive life-saving services, participate in law enforcement or court proceedings or investigations. However, an N.C. REAL ID will be helpful for anyone who boards a commercial airplane or visits nuclear sites, military bases, federal courthouses or federal prisons.

    A REAL ID does not permit direct access to Fort Bragg or other military installations — people still must get visitor passes — but it will save time getting a pass. At Fort Bragg, passes can be acquired at the All-American gate, or access control point, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visitor passes will be issued to all persons with valid reasons for entering the installation. A visitor pass can be issued for up to 90 days for nonDoD personnel. A security-vetting process will be completed for each individual before receiving a visitor pass. This includes all passengers in a vehicle.

     Some people will need REAL ID sooner than others. Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune began requiring REAL ID or other forms of identification for access as of Jan. 22, Patrice Bethea, a spokeswoman for North Carolina DMV said. U.S. military identification cards, including those for active duty or retired military members and their dependents as well as DoD civilians, can be used instead of REAL ID.

    To apply for a REAL ID card, North Carolinians must visit a DMV driver’s license office and provide a document that proves identity, such as a birth certificate, valid U.S. passport or immigration documents, proof of Social Security number, plus two documents that establish residency in North Carolina, such as a utility bill, vehicle registration card or bank statement. Applications cannot be made online. 

    One of the advantages of a REAL ID driver’s license is that it will provide certainty that the ID will be accepted. Bethea said waiting until the last minute won’t work. People who get a new license will receive it in the mail 15 days later.

    Learn more and see a list of requirements at www.ncrealid.gov.

  • 15 andy karcherAndy Karcher has been in the Fayetteville area since 2007, moving here from Ohio. But it didn’t take him long to learn about the rich football history at E.E. Smith High School.

    “It’s something that stood out to me,’’ he said, and led him to apply for the position of head football coach for the Golden Bulls. He was approved as the school’s new head coach by the Cumberland County Board of Education last week.

    Karcher replaces Deron Donald, who stepped down from the head coaching position at Smith in December. In his four seasons with the Golden Bulls, Donald was 16-31. 

    He managed two trips to the state 3-A playoffs, including one last season. At one point under Donald, Smith suffered a 17-game losing streak, but it ended the 2019 regular season with a 43-0 win over Cumberland County rival Cape Fear. The Golden Bulls finished the 2019 season 4-8 overall and 4-4 in the Patriot Athletic Conference. That put them in a three-way tie for fourth place with Pine Forest and Gray’s Creek.

    A little over a month after leaving Smith, Donald was named the new head football coach at Smithfield-Selma High School. He inherits a program there that has gone 1-10 each of the last three seasons and 8-102 for the last 10 years.

    Smithfield-Selma hasn’t had a winning season in football in 12 years.

    Karcher, a graduate of Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, has worked as a football coach at a number of area high schools.

    He spent two years at South View Middle School when he first came to the area, following that with a short stay at Cape Fear High School. From there he went to Triton High School, then returned to Cumberland County for a couple of years on the Pine Forest High School staff.He has served as an offensive coordinator and spent his years at Pine Forest coaching the offensive line.

    In addition to being impressed with the history at E.E. Smith, Karcher said he found the community to be strong, along with the Golden Bull alumni association.

    “The backing for the program is there,’’ he said. “They have the kids, they have the athletes, to be successful.’’

    But one area where Smith is clearly lacking is raw numbers of students. According to the latest average daily membership figures provided by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, E.E. Smith is the smallest of the 10 public senior high schools in Cumberland County that field athletic teams.

    The Golden Bulls have an enrollment of 1,153 students, which makes them, along with Douglas Byrd High School, the only schools in the county with under 1,200 students enrolled.

    Four Cumberland County schools that are also members of the Patriot Athletic Conference with Cape Fear — Pine Forest, South View, Gray’s Creek and Cape Fear — have enrollments topping 1,500 students. Pine Forest has 1,705 with South View at 1,642.

    “Obviously, the numbers do make it a little bit more interesting, a little bit more difficult,’’ Karcher said. But he is hopeful that with some success on the field, he will be able to attract as many candidates as possible to come out for the football team.

    As far as offensive philosophy, he describes himself as a ball-control coach. “I’m definitely going to have a good running game in place,’’ he said. “We also have enough athletes that we’ll throw the football around and kind of spread some people out when we need to.’’

    Defensively he said he prefers downhill, physical football with players that will fly around and make plays.

    Karcher said he’s hopeful to be working at E.E. Smith as quickly as possible so he can began offseason workouts with his new players during the offseason skill development periods.

    He said E.E. Smith principal Donell Underdue and Pine Forest principal David Culbreth are working together to make it possible for him to begin his new role at E.E. Smith before the end of the current school year.

    It is too early in the process, Karcher said, to try and speculate on any changes forthcoming with his assistant coaching staff at Smith. He said he will try to determine the best course of action concerning the staff as the situation progresses.

    Karcher feels the timing of his hire bodes well for giving him the maximum amount of time to work with his players during the spring offseason along with the summer to make the installation of his offensive and defensive schemes go as smoothly as possible for his team.

    The last dead period of the school year before summer began Feb. 12 and ends March 3. During dead periods, all sports that are out of season are not allowed to hold so-called skill development sessions.

    Karcher is hopeful that by March 3 he will be on campus at E.E. Smith and be able to begin working with his new team.

    “We’ll recruit the hallways and get more guys out playing,’’ he said. “We want to hit the ground running come spring and summer ball.’’

    The first official playing date for the 2020 high school football season for NCHSAA member schools is Aug. 17.

  • 09 CFVHS 2There are hundreds of conditions that can affect the brain, such as concussions, strokes and tumors. Cape Fear Valley Neurosurgery provides comprehensive treatment and surgery right here in our hometown. Dr. Charles Haworth, medical director of Neurosurgery at Cape Fear Valley, says the hospital provides neurological and neurosurgical treatment and support for patients in a six-county region of Southeastern North Carolina, including Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Hope Mills, Raeford, Lumberton, Elizabethtown, Lillington, Dunn, Clinton and beyond.

     Haworth recently recruited neurosurgeon Dr. Melissa Stamates who came to Fayetteville from the Midwest. Stamates graduated with honors from The Ohio State University in 2011. She served a seven-year medical residency at the University of Chicago followed by a fellowship at North Shore University Health System in Evanston, Illinois. Stamates has more than nine years of diverse experience in neurosurgery. In the U.S., neurosurgery is a highly competitive specialty composed of 0.5% of all practicing physicians. 

    Stamates and her husband arrived in Fayetteville in July of last year. She and Haworth alternate surgical rounds daily. Her special interests include surgery to treat brain cancer, pituitary tuimors, cranioplasty and other general neurosurgical diseases and illnesses. 

    Both physicians said they wanted to be doctors when they were young. Haworth is a North Carolina native. He graduated from Guilford College and Duke University School of Medicine and has practiced medicine for 38 years. He practiced at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton before coming to Fayetteville six years ago. He practiced three years in the Navy followed by Duke Hospital in Lumberton and Cape Fear Valley for the past six years.

    Stamates told Up and Coming Weekly she hopes to build her career here. Cape Fear Valley’s need for stability in neurosurgery is a priority. Haworth’s challenge is building a program large enough to provide coverage 24/7. Haworth said a third neurosurgeon will likely be hired soon. “There will always be a need in our community for what we do,” he said. 

    Stamates said the need and new facilities make launching her career in Fayetteville exciting. A new five-story building for Cape Fear Valley’s residency program will house a neuroscience institute on the fifth floor.

     Asked what Stamates enjoys most about her work, she said she is the happiest “when my patients do well.” 

    Both doctors spoke of the chemistry they have. Reliance on one another is what makes the relationship click Haworth intimated. 

    The approximately $28.3 million building project includes the demolition of an older building, which is underway. The driveway on the Melrose Road side of the hospital campus has been closed because of the construction project. The building is scheduled to be completed in May 2021, Medical Center spokeswoman Janet Conway said.

  • The fabric of our community is made up of a diverse group of people who bring their individuality, skills, hard work and determination to the table. These contributions that each offers create a bounty of opportunities for anyone seeking them. A constant influx of new ideas, exciting entertainment, excellent educational opportunities, innovative business ventures, medical advancements and more make Cumberland County stand out. In a transient community, the importance of having people who consistently invest their time and energy into the area is magnitudinous. Whether working quietly behind the scenes or from a larger platform, the movers and shakers here deserve recognition for the difference they make every day. Among these people are Marge Betley, Kenjuana McCray, Tisha Waddell, Elizabeth Blevins and Diane Wheatley — five extraordinary women to watch in 2020 who are making a difference in our community. 

    10 01 Marge BetleyMarge Betley
     Major Gifts Officer at the
    Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation

     Q. Tell our readers about yourself, including how you came to be in Fayetteville.

    A. I arrived in Fayetteville on the night of April 26, 2019 — less than a year ago. I followed shortly on the heels of my husband, Greg Weber, whose role as the new CEO and president of the Arts Council began last March. I pulled into Fayetteville late on a Friday night, and the next day we went to the Dogwood Festival. It was a great introduction to my new city.

    Q. There are so many ways to serve the community we live in. What made you choose the route you did?

    A. Greg and I are both very committed to community service and volunteerism — it’s part of what gives us a sense of belonging, and it is also how we have made some of our deepest friendships over the years.My job at Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation is my primary way of serving the Fayetteville community. I’ve been fortunate to have a very rich working life in the nonprofit sector, so when we moved here, I looked for some way to make a meaningful impact. Cape Fear Valley Health and the Health Foundation provide a huge amount of community benefit every year — from charity care and free health screenings to free mammograms for uninsured women, financial support for our cancer patients in financial need and so much more that many people are really unaware of. As I learned more about them, I knew I wanted to be a part of their impact in this community. And now, Cape Fear Valley’s residency program is creating a pipeline to bring hundreds of new physicians to our region — an impact that will be felt for generations to come. How could I resist?

    Q. What do you love about this community? 

    A. Where do I start? Fayetteville is friendly, it’s welcoming and there is always something to do. I love to explore foods and cultures from around the world, so I’ve really enjoyed the festivals here — from the Caribbean Festival — best jerk chicken ever — to the African World Peace Festival and, of course, the International Folk Festival. I love the vibrancy of the arts community here — there’s terrific theater, music and visual arts. I even started taking a silversmithing class at Fayetteville Tech from jewelry artist Gail Ferguson, which I am really enjoying.Another thing that I love about Fayetteville is that when people see a need, they just step up and take action. Last August I attended an event called Cut My City — stylists from all over Fayetteville volunteer their time to provide haircuts and scalp checks for kids before school starts. A haircut sounds like such a simple thing, but it’s so important for a child to feel confident and optimistic as they start a new school year. There were hundreds of kids there and they were all buzzing with energy and enthusiasm! I love that I live in a city where someone sees a need and creates the path to deliver a solution. 

    10 02 Kenjuana McCrayKenjuana McCray 
    Hope Mills Mayor Pro Tem
    and full-time professor at Fayetteville Technical Community College 

    Q. What’s something about our community that you want more people to know about?

    A. I wish more people knew about the arts, services, activities and programs that are available in our community. I think we operate in a lot of silos, which prevents us from taking advantage of the many opportunities provided throughout the town of Hope Mills … I also wish more people knew about the stellar post-secondary opportunities in our overall community to include FTCC, Methodist University and Fayetteville State University. The Local FSU Hometown Alumni Chapter hosts an annual Little Mister and Miss Pageant each year. This pageant not only is a fundraiser to award scholarships for FSU students, but the pageant committee works with the children well beyond the pageant to help to promote emotional, social and leadership skills. I operate a small food pantry at FTCC to help serve students who suffer from food insecurity on campus. Food insecurity on college campuses is a growing concern, and I would like to help decrease this issue as much as possible. My hope is to widely expand this effort by creating programs that provide more healthy meal options for college students. 

    We Are the Arts, which is an Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County initiative, strives to increase tourism, economic development and innovation by promoting the vibrant arts and cultural happenings in the community and in our region. There is also a newly created Hope Mills Creative Arts Council and the town of Hope Mills staff also has an Arts and Culture Committee to help generate ideas for more cultural opportunities in our local community. Examples of these efforts in Hope Mills include the monthly food truck rodeos on the first Thursday of each month in the spring, which usually has a theme tied to community engagement. Hope Mills also hosts a farmers market on every first Saturday of the month in the spring and is geared toward not only engaging local produce farmers but also providing our citizens with more healthy food choices. Our communities are stronger when we connect together!

    10 03 Tisha WaddellTisha Waddell
     District 3 City Councilwoman 

    Q. Tell our readers about yourself, including how you came to be in Fayetteville.

    A. I am a very optimistic person who loves a great project! I’m thoughtful, creative and full of wonder. I collaborate easily and recognize the value of partnerships. I’ve experienced my greatest success as a result of positive connections. I came to Fayetteville as the daughter of the military. My mother retired here, and this became our final “home of record” and my longest home of choice.

    Q. What do you love about this community? 

    A. I love the people in this community. They are so intricately woven together in the most unique ways. When I ran for office I began to learn about the history of the city first hand from the stories of the people I started interacting with and noticed that Fayetteville’s history is truly a part of the fabric of its present. I also love the pace of our city. It isn’t so slow that I’m bored, but it isn’t so fast-paced that it’s uncomfortable. Our former slogan really summed up the community perfectly, “History, Heroes and a Hometown Feeling.” That’s what I love about this community!

    Q. There are so many ways to serve the community we live in. What made you choose the route you did?
    A. Very candidly, this route chose me. I was in service for many years in very private ways. I’m a firm believer that we will be rewarded openly for what we do privately, and so I never sought to be the center of the city’s attention. It is still a little awkward to be so regarded for just doing what comes naturally. I am grateful to the citizens of District 3 and the city who place their confidence in me as a representation of them. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. 

    10 05 Diane WheatleyDiane Wheatley
    Community activist and
    candidate for N.C. House Representative 

    Q. There are so many ways to serve the community we live in. What made you choose the route you did? 

    A. I have served the community pretty much continuously since before I was married. I have volunteered on over 30 boards and committees through the years. I also spent 10 years on the board of education and four as a county commissioner. I have found that I have been most effective and have accomplished the most when serving in elected office.

     I think what has and still does motivate me comes from growing up in a military family where service and “duty, honor, country” were so important. My interest in government grew out of our family’s involvement in Revolutionary War reenacting when my sons were young. We were exposed at that time to so many historical sites and stories of the struggles the founding fathers went through to gain our independence. Personalities like George Washington, Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamilton and others became very real to me. I have always been struck by what strong men of faith they were and how God brought them through circumstances that would seem to have been insurmountable. I really feel my experiences have given me a unique perspective. I believe so strongly in the principles on which this country was founded.  

    Q. What’s something you wish this community knew about you? What’s something about our community that you want more people to know about? 
    A. I wish they knew how I truly do serve because I want to make a positive difference in people’s lives. I see any office as both a trust and responsibility to the people of Cumberland County. I will work every day to earn that trust and fulfill that responsibility to the best of my ability.  I wish people knew how much we have to offer. There is nothing that can be mentioned, whether it’s culture, museums, entertainment, sports teams, dinning, parks, a revitalized downtown, shopping or whatever, that we do not have. We are the most vibrant community in the state that no one seams to know about. 

    10 04 Elizabeth blevinsElizabeth Blevins
    Executive director of the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council
    and appointee to the Hope Mills Historic Preservation Commission
    and the Veteran Affairs Committee 

    Q. What do you love about this community?
    A. There’s a resiliency in the community that I love. Hope Mills has taken a lot of abuse over the years, from corrupt politicians, weather and human nature. But the people here are still excited to get up each day and try something new. They’re excited to support an art council and see a new history museum in place. We love our small businesses and new restaurants. They never doubted the dam would be back in place, and we’d have a gorgeous lake once again. And now that we have it, they’re so excited to plan lakeside celebrations for every occasion.  

     Q. There are so many ways to serve the community we live in. What made you choose the route you did?

    A. I don’t know that I specifically chose this route as much as I fell into it. I started HopeMills.net as a political blog. And that wasn’t planned. It was a reaction to two local politicians who used their social media to lie to the people of Hope Mills. Several months into it, I started talking about potential community projects, and suddenly people were really talking back. We held an initial interest meeting in June for an arts council, and four days later, we’d partnered with Sweet Tea Shakespeare Theater and scheduled plays in Hope Mills. The entire art council board is very civic-minded, and we design our projects to include as many local businesses and organizations as possible. We don’t have galleries or a museum, so we’ve learned to be creative in finding ways to promote local artists.This year, one of our biggest endeavors is establishing an artists’ co-op. We’re partnering with small businesses of every kind to use as galleries. We get to create business opportunities, but in doing so, we also get to create relationships.

    This year, I was appointed to the Hope Mills Historic Preservation Commission and the Veteran Affairs Committee. I grew up in an Air Force family and we lived a very nomadic life. It instilled in me a greater appreciation for permanence and history. Our family has been fortunate to travel the world and visit some really phenomenal historic sites. Hope Mills could be a destination spot. 

    As a veteran, veteran’s issues are very important to me. The last two years, I’ve had an opportunity to meet a lot of local veterans and their spouses. We have a responsibility to advocate for them, to educate our community and elected officials of their needs. This year my focus is specifically on the caregivers of disabled veterans. They have very few resources and not nearly enough recognition.

  • 03 womenwearwhite 32503590144Americans who watched the president’s State of the Union address earlier this month saw a sea of women in glowing white garments. Democratic women legislators from Speaker Nancy Pelosi down to freshman members donned white dresses, suits and more in solidarity for the ongoing fight for women’s rights. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which explicitly gave women the right to vote. Women have voted for a century now, often in greater numbers than our fathers, brothers and husbands. The women in white were joyously celebrating how far we have come and looking toward how far we have to go. A century of women’s suffrage constitutes less than half of the United States’ existence, and much of our nation’s history for women has felt like two steps forward and one step back.

    The North Carolina Museum of History has put together a women’s history timeline, and here are some of the events specific to women in or from the Tar Heel state. Read it and see it for the mixed bag it is.

    Creation myths from Native American tribes before there was either North Carolina or the United States identify women in various roles different from but as important as men’s roles.

    In 1587, Virginia Dare became the first English child born in the New World in the Roanoke Colony. Her fate is unknown.

    In 1774, in Edenton, 51 “patriotic ladies” gather to announce they are swearing off East Indian tea as long as it is taxed by the British. The Edenton Tea Party occurred less than a year after the Boston Tea Party and is one of the first political actions by women in what becomes the United States.

    In 1809, North Carolina native Dolley Madison becomes our country’s fourth first lady. She is known for shaping the role of first lady, for saving a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington when the British set the newly constructed White House ablaze and for serving a delicious new dessert, ice cream.

    In 1813, Harriet Jacobs is born in Edenton to enslaved parents. Badly treated as property, Harriet lives secretly for seven years in her grandmother’s attic, escapes to New York, buys her children’s freedom and publishes “Incidents in The Life of a Slave Girl” in 1861.

    In 1826, The General Council of the Cherokee Nation bucks tradition and drafts a constitution that excludes women from holding office.

     In 1840, Mary Jane Patterson is born in Raleigh and becomes the first African-American woman to receive a college degree.

    In 1859, Clinton resident Abigail Carter invents a pair of sturdy overalls for her railroad engineer husband. Other railroad men want them as well, and she becomes the first overall manufacturer in the nation.

    In 1868, during post-Civil War Reconstruction, the North Carolina General Assembly adopts a new Constitution allowing women to own property and businesses, to work for our own wages, to sue in court, to make wills and to make contracts without our husbands’ consent.

    In 1878, Tabitha Ann Holton passes the North Carolina bar exam and becomes the first woman lawyer in the South.In 1891, the General Assembly charters the State Normal and Industrial College as the first state-supported institution for women’s higher education. Today that school is known as the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.In 1893, the legislature allows women to cash checks and withdraw money from personal accounts without their husbands’ permission.

    In 1913, North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice and women’s rights supporter compares the treatment of women to slavery. In 1925, Anna Julia Heywood Cooper becomes the fourth African-American woman to earn a Ph.D., hers from the Sorbonne in France. Cooper was born enslaved in Raleigh in 1858 and publishes “A Voice from the South” in 1892.

    In 1937, North Carolina begins a birth control program, funding maternal and infant health programs and licensing midwives.

    In 1943, more than a decade before Rosa Parks, 16-year-old Doris Lyon refuses to go to the back of a Durham bus. She is arrested, found guilty and fined $5.

    In 1971, the North Carolina General Assembly ratifies the 19th Amendment, 51 years after it took effect.In 1977, the General Assembly declines to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

    In 1992, Eva Clayton becomes the first African-American woman elected to Congress from North Carolina.

    In 1996, Elaine Marshall becomes North Carolina’s first woman Secretary of State.

    In 2006, Fayetteville’s own Patricia Timmons Goodson becomes the first African-American woman on the North Carolina Supreme Court and in 2008, Beverly Perdue becomes our first woman Governor. Two steps forward, one step back.It all makes me want to wear white every day. We are not there yet.

  • 12 Hope Mills recreationWhen Stephen Kessinger worked at the Hoke County Parks and Recreation Department, he collaborated with Maxey Dove of the Hope Mills Recreation and Parks Department to hold a season-ending basketball showcase pitting the top youth recreation teams from each county against each other. 

    After joining the Hope Mills staff less than two years ago, Kessinger said he and Dove agreed the basketball event was something they needed to keep going.

    Next month, for the fifth year in a row, the Hoke vs. Hope Mills basketball showdown will continue.

    This year’s event will be held March 3-4, a Tuesday and Wednesday, with four games scheduled in the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department gymnasium on Rockfish Road.

    Play begins the first night at 6 p.m. with the 8U Junior Pee Wee game, followed at 7 p.m. by the 10U Pee Wee game.

    The following night at 6 p.m. will be the 12U Midget game. The final game at 7 p.m. will feature the 15U juniors.

    Kessinger said the idea for having the basketball showdown came from the tradition in recreation baseball and softball where all-star teams that advance into regional and state play are chosen at the end of the season.

    There is no playoff format like that for basketball, so Kessinger said the idea was to give the basketball teams a chance to compete beyond the regular season. Unlike the all-star concept in baseball and softball, the teams that take part in the Hoke-Hope Mills games are teams that competed during the year. In the baseball and softball all-star competition, the coaches of the all-star team picFk their squad from players who competed on various league teams during the regular season.

    The league champion from four different age brackets in each county advances to the one-game showdown, which has always been held in Hope Mills since the Hoke County recreation department doesn’t have its own gymnasium, Kessinger said.

    Both counties follow the same general basketball rules, with a minor difference in the rules involving how players are substituted into the game. For the one-game showdown, those rules are waived and coaches can substitute however they like.

    All teams are required to make sure that every player on the team gets to participate in a portion of each quarter of the game, Kessinger said. No admission is charged and all the games are open to the public. Kessinger said the Hope Mills gym seats about 300 people and noted that there’s usually a packed house by the time the second game begins each evening.

    When some people have to stand in order to see the game, Kessinger said the recreation department staff encourages them to make sure and not stand too close to the court in order to make sure the teams and the officials have enough room to move safely up and down the court.

    The Hope Mills recreation staff provides all the basketballs. All competing players are urged not to bring their own basketballs to the game.

    Parking will be available in front of the recreation center and in the various lots close to the Hope Mills Town Hall complex.

    Kessinger said the recreation staff was careful to schedule the games on days when there were no other events taking place at Town Hall or the recreation center.

    “A lot of parking spaces should be available Tuesday and Wednesday,’’ he said. 

    All the games will have referees paid for by the Hope Mills recreation department. The recreation department has also purchased individual medallions that will be presented after each game to the members of the victorious team.

    Kessinger said the Hoke-Hope Mills games have been enjoyable for players and coaches. “I think they enjoy the competition, getting to play a team they don’t play all year long,’’ he said.

     For any questions about the Hoke-Hope Mills basketball showdown, contact the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department during normal business hours, Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. or Sunday from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.

    The telephone number is 910-426-4109.

  • 14 01 Bowlers Cumberland County was one of the first school systems in the state to begin offering team bowling to its students years ago, and that has been reflected in the success the county has enjoyed competing in the sport at the state level.

    This year, the county brought home a pair of state championships as the boys from Gray’s Creek and the girls from Terry Sanford were recently crowned winners at the state finals at Sandhills Bowling Center in Aberdeen.

    In addition to the team success, Terry Sanford bowler Rolf Wallin captured individual honors as he was the boys state champion in the same event.

    Here’s a closer look at the championship efforts of both teams.

    Terry Sanford

    Susan Brady is in her second year coaching the Bulldog girls. She was a little apprehensive about her team’s chances in the state tournament when she learned one of her top bowlers, Avery Schenk, was going to be unable to compete in the tournament due to a cheerleading commitment.

    An interesting footnote: Schenk is the granddaughter of Howard Baum, longtime owner of B&B Lanes and one of the originators of high school bowling in Cumberland County.

    Terry Sanford defeated a tough Lumberton team in the semifinal round of the state tournament, then took on county rival Cape Fear in the championship match.

    Going into the 10th frame, Terry Sanford was clinging to a 142-140 lead.

    14 02 canaddyBrady was hopeful that her anchor bowler, Zoe Cannady, was going to lock up the win for the Bulldogs, but she was unsuccessful.

    Fortunately for the Bulldogs, so was the final bowler for the Colts, leaving Terry Sanford with a two-pin victory for the championship. “I didn’t have much of a visual reaction,’’ Cannady said of the clinching moment for the Bulldogs. “It ended up okay. I felt a lot of pressure and missed that spare. I had to hope for the best.’’

    Cannady, who bowls for Terry Sanford but attends Cumberland Polytechnic High School, felt the Bulldogs had a great team that encouraged each other during the final match.

    Brady said until the final frame, every ball Cannady had thrown had resulted in either a strike or a spare for Terry Sanford. A junior, Cannady will return next year. The major losses for Terry Sanford will be seniors Katie Silas, Abby Carson and Reagan Johnson.

    “We’ve got pretty high chances,’’ Cannady said of the Bulldog hopes for another title next season.

    Cannady made the All-State team along with fellow Cumberland County bowlers Jayda Gignac of Jack Britt, Ariel Williams of Douglas Byrd and Donna Kerechanin of South View.

    14 03 Rolf WallinMeanwhile, on the boys’ side, the Bulldogs’ Wallin rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the conference tournament to capture the individual state title.

    Michael Toler, who coaches the Bulldog boys, said Wallin has always been a consistent bowler.Toler said Wallin came up to him during the conference tournament and predicted he was going to qualify for the state tournament. “He did exactly that,’’ Toler said. “He was cool and consistent all the way through.’’

    Wallin went over to the Sandhills Bowling Center before the state championship match to get a feel for the lanes. “When I figured out where to go and adjusted, I had a pretty good game,’’ he said. “You have to adjust every single time your ball isn’t hitting exactly where you want it to go.’’

    Wallin didn’t appreciate how big a deal a state championship is until he began receiving accolades from classmates and teachers. 

    “You have to put pressure aside and just bowl your game,’’ he said.

    Joining Wallin on the All-State boys team from Cumberland County were Terry Sanford teammate Alex Schenk, Douglas Byrd’s Brandon Mesa-Turner and South View’s Nick Robertson.

    Gray’s Creek

    Kris Williams gave himself a hard act to follow as coach of the Gray’s Creek boys bowlers. This was his first season coaching bowling, and he concluded it with a state championship.

    Williams said he approached his role of coach as being more of a manager, with the task of setting the five-man bowling lineup for each match the major role he had to perform.

    One thing that made it easy was the bowlers he had to work with. “They are blessed by the good Lord with some natural talent,’’ he said. “They can do things in the bowling lanes that most people can’t do.’’

    Williams also said the team had good chemistry. “They really get along and are used to working together,’’ he said. “They really do support each other, more than just cheerleading.’’

    The Bears suffered a bad day as a team in the conference tournament, losing two straight to a South View team that was on a hot streak.

    Williams expected better after the Bears were second in the regular-season matches. After that disappointing loss there wasn’t even time for an extra practice before the state tournament began.

    But the Bears rebounded with what Williams said was a true team effort. “One thing that struck me about the whole season, these kids love to compete,’’ he said. “That’s one thing you want in any sport.’’

    Sparking Gray’s Creek in the finals were regular-season MVP C.J. Woodle and Gio Garcia.

    “C.J’s got all the natural skills and ability and puts in all the work,’’ Williams said. “Gio has a lot of natural talent and is a natural leader.’’

    “We were kind of upset we didn’t win the conference,’’ Garcia said. “We knew we still had a good chance at state. We had to step up our game and be more consistent.’’

    Gray’s Creek defeated Hoke County and Jack Britt en route to the title.

    Woodle said a lucky break in the sixth frame of the finals helped get Gray’s Creek untracked and sparked the team to the win. “I’m proud of my whole team, how much practice they put in,’’ he said. “It means the world to come home to Gray’s Creek and say we were the state champions.

    “I feel we have another state championship team next year.’’

     

    Picture 1: Gio Garcia, C.J. Woodle, Hunter Cole. 

    Picture 2: Zoe Canaddy 

    Picture 3: Rolf Wallin

  • 04 N0809P39008CColumn Gist: Within America’s borders, war is raging. We are beyond civil reconciliation. Each citizen of this great country must decide how to respond.

    Finishing a series of columns last year, I ended in April with one titled “Critical thinking on today’s issues: A change in focus and strategy.” In that column, I explained my plan to work across political and ideological lines to encourage fact-based critical thinking regarding the challenging and divisive issues that we face. I hoped to do this civilly and productively. With tremendous disappointment and pure sadness, even mental anguish, I have concluded that what I intended to do on a large scale is impossible in America’s current political climate. America is at war within and, until there is a winner in that war, I expect that we will continue muddling along toward self-destruction. The question for each of us is which side we will choose, or will we choose a side at all? At the bottom line, a choice must be made.

    Final recognition of our internal war status came to me by way of following the impeachment process regarding President Donald Trump. In my estimation, from the beginning, that process was without reasonable foundation, totally unfair to the president and conducted by Democrats solely in an attempt to disqualify him for the 2020 election; that failing, their effort intended to lessen support for him in that election.

     The basis for the House starting an impeachment inquiry was Democrats’ allegation that, in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The interference foundation was that Trump requested an investigation of former vice president, Joe Biden, a possible election opponent. In addition, Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate claims that some Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

     It was revealed that within hours of the phone call, millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine was put on hold. The Democratic claim was that the aid was delayed pending a public statement by the Ukrainian president saying a Biden investigation would be conducted. They also said an Oval Office meeting with President Zelensky was conditioned on him making the investigation announcement. Trump released a transcript of his phone conversation. It confirmed his request for investigations of Biden and possible Ukrainian 2016 election interference. The entire move to impeachment was started by a whistleblower complaint from a still-anonymous complainant. 

    Tactics employed during the impeachment inquiry by the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Congressman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., first signaled this state of internal war. The vast majority of the committee’s hearing was conducted in secrecy. The president was not allowed representation, which included not being allowed to cross-examine witnesses. Republican members of the committee were not allowed to call witnesses. Despite the closed-door arrangement, information that might be detrimental to the president was leaked to the media. This committee heard much less public testimony. However, Republicans still had no witnesses and the president was not allowed representation or cross-examination of witnesses.

     After a rushed process in the House of Representatives, two articles of impeachment were sent to the Senate for trial. They were Obstruction of Congress and Abuse of Power. The obstruction article was because Trump called on subpoenaed administration officials not to testify before Schiff’s intelligence committee that was conducting the House inquiry. In the Senate trial, Trump’s attorneys explained that the president took that position because the subpoenas were not legitimate. They argued that the Constitution gives the House of Representatives sole authority for conducting an impeachment inquiry and this process was started without a vote of the full House; Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, D-Calif., simply announced the inquiry and it was underway. A vote of the House was not taken until weeks later. Therefore, the subpoenas were determined by the White House to be illegitimate.

    The president’s attorneys also contended that when two branches of government disagree on a matter such as this, there would be attempts to settle the differences through negotiations. That failing, given that Congress and the executive branch, which is headed by the president, are coequal, the matter would be presented to the judicial branch (judges) for resolution. In charging obstruction of Congress, House Democrats disregarded this appropriate process. If Trump were found guilty of this article, every president from now on would be in danger of the same charge. This article was a nonstarter.

    As I understand it, on abuse of power, Trump would have had to take an action that totally and clearly was for his personal benefit. A monetary bribe received would be an example. One of his attorneys, Alan Dershowitz, explained this well. The Democrats’ argument that Trump should be impeached and removed from office for taking an action helpful for the American people— but that might also benefit him politically — sets an unacceptable and dangerous precedent.

    I am comfortable saying all politicians consider how any given governing decision will affect their political future. If this is not the case, why do politicians give attention to polls? In the end, the hope is that these decisions are based far more on what is good for America than on what is good for the politician. I understood Dershowitz to say that if the Democrats’ argument against Trump is accepted, politicians are to give no thought to political impact on them when making governing decisions. Accept this argument and every politician would be in jeopardy.

    With this personal gain piece in consideration, I did not see anything in the Democrats’ argument that showed Trump was substantially motivated by personal benefit. The Trump position was that he was seeking to ensure our aid money was not going to a country, with a history of corruption, where corruption was not being seriously addressed by the new president (Zelensky). Further, the president was bothered that America was providing substantial support to Ukraine while other countries were doing little or nothing. Witnesses, called by the Democrats, confirmed that the president had these concerns.

    Given that Biden’s son, Hunter, was put on the Burisma — a Ukrainian oil company — board and paid over $50,000 per month (some reports say $83,000) when he had no oil experience, and only attended a few events that might have been board-related, there was reason for suspicion. Then Joe Biden goes in and gets the prosecutor fired who is investigating Burisma for corruption. He does this by threatening to withhold monetary aid. Several witnesses, called by Schiff’s committee during the inquiry, stated that they had concerns regarding Hunter Biden being on the Burisma board. I have seen no indication that anybody investigated this matter. Trump calls for an investigation, and he is impeached. The argument is that he called for the investigation because Biden entered the 2020 presidential race and Trump wanted to use the investigation against him. It seems to me that having Biden become president without addressing this situation would be irresponsible. The president had good reason to investigate in the interest of the American people.

    Beyond all of this, Ukraine received the aid on time and their president met with Trump while never starting an investigation or announcing that one would be started. The Ukrainians did not know the aid was on hold until seeing it in an article weeks after the phone call. 

    Thankfully, the Senate acquitted Trump. However, consider this definition of war from Encyclopedia Britannica: “… in the popular sense, a conflict between political groups involving hostilities of considerable duration and magnitude.” I contend that what Democrats did in this impeachment process, as summarized above, and is even more horrendous when examined in detail, fits the definition of war. Even more disturbing, this kind of conduct has been their practice from the day Trump announced his candidacy for president. 

    This is war within America. In my column referenced in this article’s opening, I noted that I had changed my voter registration from Republican to unaffiliated. I have, as much as I dread having to do so, accepted that we are at war, and I have to choose a side. I have chosen by changing my affiliation back to Republican. Every American better choose and choose wisely. Sitting on the sideline is not an option. The future of our nation is at stake.

  • 12 01 jackie warnerHope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner issued a statement Wednesday afternoon in response to a post made on a Facebook page. The page, called the Hope Mills Bee, has subjected Warner to numerous personal attacks over the last several months.

    The page is one of multiple such pages on Facebook that have been involved in an orchestrated campaign against Warner.

    The original post on the Hope Mills Bee has been shared multiple times, both by individual Facebook members and other pages that have consistently criticized Warner. According to information posted on the page, the Hope Mills Bee is a self-described media/news company that lists an email address and contact phone number but does not reveal who the creator of the page is.

    The post Warner responded to was made Monday at 3:58 p.m. It features a photo of an Internal Revenue Service document entitled Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Anonymous text posted with the document states that the federal tax lien was filed against WarJack Enterprises, which is the corporate name of Countryside Furniture in Hope Mills. The business is operated by Warner’s husband, Alex. Mayor Warner is listed as the secretary, but she said she is not involved in day-to-day operations. Also listed are her husband Alex, who is the president, and son Teddy, who is vice president. They are the only corporate officers.

    The text of the Facebook post states “it appears from the lien that no taxes were filed or paid for at least six years.’’ Warner, in the statement and in a subsequent telephone interview, made it clear that while the information about a lien being filed is accurate, the statement that no taxes have been paid on the business is entirely false. Warner said she and her husband are not delinquent with tax payment and have fully paid all property, income and sales taxes they owe.

    She said the lien was filed because of unpaid penalties resulting from the multiple late filings of tax information by their accountant dating back to 2010. The lien was filed in September of 2019, according to the form in the photograph. Warner said they took no action because their accountant informed them he was in negotiation to get the fees waived. Warner declined to reveal the name of the accountant due to the ongoing negotiations to get the fees waived.

    “As Mayor of Hope Mills, I have tried to be a good role model for our community,’’ Warner wrote. “Our current situation that has caused so much discussion on social media is related to late filings of corporate tax reports.’’

    Warner went on to explain that she and her husband owe penalties that were assessed due to late filings of tax information. “We have had the same accountant for over 40 years, so our responsibility and accountability we accept while we trusted that we were receiving good advice,’’ she wrote. “Our accountant was and has been in negotiations with the IRS with the understanding he was requesting waivers of the penalties.’’

    Warner said all of the corporate tax penalties will be paid once negotiation with the IRS over the final amount owed have been completed. “We believe all citizens should be held accountable, including the mayor, for our responsibilities as a tax payer,’’ she wrote.

  • 07 01 NC59 BridgeA new bridge that carries N.C. 59 over I-95 Business in Hope Mills has been opened by the state Division of Highways. Traffic was also shifted onto a rebuilt ramp from I-95 Business southbound to N.C. 59 at the new bridge. Two northbound lanes were closed to allow improvements at the interchange.

    A detour has been marked. The ramps will be elevated to match the new bridge, and the drainage systems will be improved. The new bridge currently is in a two-lane pattern until the contractor can finishing widening portions of N.C. 59 on either side of it by this fall. When that work is completed, all five lanes of the new bridge will be opened. DOT
    says the northbound ramps will reopen in two-to-three months.

    07 02 Cape Fear Lock DamRiver Locks and dams ownership changing

    The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is providing the federal government notice that it wishes to obtain ownership of three locks and dams on the Cape Fear River between Fayetteville and Wilmington. The state plans to send an official letter of intent by Feb. 28. The decision recognizes there is no federal interest in maintaining and operating the locks and dams and allows the state to acquire them. The three locks and dams were originally built in the early 1900s for commercial navigation but have not been used for that purpose since 1995.

    “The state of North Carolina recognizes the importance of maintaining the locks and dams for flood control and resiliency, to protect water quality, water supply, fish passage, aquatic habitat and recreational opportunities in the Cape Fear River,” said Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael S. Regan. “State ownership ensures that all stakeholder interests are represented moving forward.”

    DEQ staff held several meetings with federal, state and local officials since April of 2019 to ensure all interests and concerns were addressed should the state take over the locks and dams. When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers receives the letter of intent, Congress must decide whether to de-authorize the locks and dams. State officials estimate the real estate transaction process will take two to five years.

    Pone elevated

    07 03 Ed Pone 3 2Cumberland County Judge Ed Pone is the county’s first African American Chief District Court judge. N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced Pone’s appointment last month. He succeeds Chief Judge Robert Stiehl, who retired Feb. 1. The chief judge administrates court functions and assigns the county’s 10 district court judges to the various courts. Pone is a certified juvenile court judge and has presided in family court for many years. He also is the presiding judge of Cumberland County’s Family Drug Treatment Court and the Misdemeanor Diversion Program. Pone was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jim Hunt in 1996 and has won election every four years since then. He is unopposed this year. Chief Justice Beasley is a former colleague of Pone’s, having served on the Cumberland County District Court before being appointed to the state court of appeals and eventually elevated to the supreme court. Cumberland County has 10 District Court judges.

    New school principal

    07 04 Corine WarrenFollowing the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr., the Cumberland County Board of Education has approved a new elementary school principal. Corine O. B. Warren, who is currently an assistant principal at Spring Lake Middle School, will serve as principal of Benjamin Martin Elementary School.
    “It is with a strong commitment that I am joining the Benjamin J. Martin Elementary School family,” said the long-time educator. “I am looking forward to leading and learning — academically, socially and emotionally — together as a community.” Warren has served as an assistant principal in the Cumberland, Robeson and Gwinnett (Georgia) County schools since 2014. Her career in education spans nearly 25 years and includes work as an elementary teacher, a trainer for the North Carolina Teacher Academy and  media coordinator.

    D.S.S. employment opportunities

    07 05 Job FairEmployers are invited to participate in the 21st Annual Cumberland County Department of Social Services March to Work Job Fair Mar. 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center. Businesses with job openings are invited to register to participate at no charge. Employers will be provided with booths at the fair that include tables and chairs. The job fair attracts thousands of job seekers with a wide range of skill levels from those who are professional or highly technical, to those who are unskilled.

    “This is a great opportunity for businesses to find qualified employees,” said Toni Wright-Harris, job fair coordinator. Business representatives will be able to talk about employment opportunities for potential employees. Information is available online at Cumberland County DSS March to Work. If you have questions, call or email Toni Wright-Harris at 910-677-2151 by March 10.
  • 03 IMG 2091 What is the most frightening day on the calendar for men? Spoiler alert: It is also the day of the year that is most likely to be disappointing for women. Give up? It’s Valentine’s Day. In theory, it is a day filled with hearts and flowers, candy, love, romance and possible whoopee. In reality, unless handled with kid gloves, it can be a day that will live in infamy, filled with recriminations and accusations of insensitivity. A day that can end in sleeping on the couch for the unwary male after the dreaded words, “If you don’t know what you did, I am certainly not going to tell you.”

      Let us begin by examining the origins of this most Stephen King of holidays. Hop into Mr. Peabody’s way back machine and travel back to third-century Rome. At that time, Claudius II was the Emperor of Rome. Claudius was having a difficult time getting guys to join the Roman army. Based upon nothing in particular, Claudius concluded men weren’t signing up for the Legions because they were too attached to their families to go adventuring in the Army. Claudius’ solution was to ban guys from marrying. If they had no family ties, then the men would happily join the army. Easy peasy. Problem solved.
    Valentine was a Catholic priest who didn’t think that banning marriage was a great idea. Valentine began performing marriage ceremonies in secret. This was well before people could run off to Dillon, South Carolina, to get hitched. Valentine was the only option to get married at the time. Demonstrating the adage that no good deed goes unpunished, word of the secret marriages got back to Claudius.
     
    When Claudius found out what Valentine was doing, he hauled him off to jail. Unlike the Mayberry jail, Valentine was not free to go like Otis Campbell, so he stuck around for his punishment. Valentine became friends with the jailor’s daughter while he was waiting to be executed. On the day he was to be beheaded, Feb. 14, 270 AD, Valentine left a goodbye note in his cell for the jailor’s daughter and signed it “From your Valentine.” From this rather dark origin comes our present Valentine’s Day. Valentine was rewarded for his troubles by being canonized as a Saint. His skull can be admired in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome if you are so inclined. It is not coincidental that if a man messes up his Valentine’s Day gift for his lady love, he may also find his head chopped off.
     
    In the interest of avoiding romantic discord, disappointment and figurative beheading, the rest of today’s column will explain to men what gifts not to consider for Valentine’s Day. As you have noticed, ever since New Year’s Day we have been bombarded by advertisements for Valentine’s gifts. Do not always trust advertisements. Put some thought into your present. Undoubtably the worst Valentine’s Day gift I have ever seen advertised is the ad that accompanies this column for pre-arranging her funeral. It is a triumph of attempting to turn a silk purse into a sow’s ear that even our old friend Don Draper from “Mad Men” would admire. “If You Had No Idea What To Get Her For Valentine’s Day... Imagine How Overwhelming Arranging her Funeral Would Be.” Despite what the ad copy says, pre-arranging as a couple her funeral arrangements is not a good gift idea.

      Anything short of pre-arranging her funeral as a Valentine’s Day gift has to be better on a scale of one to a zillion. At least if you don’t call the funeral home, you will be better off than the moron in the ad who decided on the Deluxe Golden Slumber double casket for his lady love. However, there are certain other gifts that are ungood and should be avoided.

     As a public service to men everywhere, the following Valentine’s Day gifts will not get you where you want to go. Do not give her a one-way ticket to Wuhan, China. All household appliances such as vacuum cleaners, irons and lawn tools are verboten. Do not take her to a romantic dinner at Arby’s. A certificate for a free oil change at Jiffy Lube is out of the question. Never give a box of frozen Gorton’s fish sticks. Do not give her a broken flux capacitor with the thought she might enjoy trying to repair it.
    A case of Mad Dog 20/20 wine will not be appreciated. No woman wants a year’s supply of Johnson’s Turtle Wax. Resist the temptation to take her for
    a night on the town to see a revival of “Godfather 3.” She does not want a set of new floor mats for your truck.
      Beyond this set of guidelines on what not to give her, you are pretty much on your own. As our old friend Stephen King once almost said, “A lot of things happened on Valentine’s Day, and not all of them were good.”

    Be afraid, be very afraid of Valentine’s Day. Or to paraphrase William Butler Yeats who once nearly wrote, “She has spread her dreams under your feet: Tread softly because you tread upon her dreams.”

    Good luck. 
     
     
  • 12 01 berriesThe Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County presents the “Troublesome Presence”  exhibit until March 13. The intent of the exhibit is to create conversations about troublesome moments for African Americans in today’s society.

     “The exhibit, as far as the artwork that is featured inside of the art gallery, includes paintings, sculptures, videos, mixed media, photography, spoken word, poetry and movement,” said Metoya Scott, public relations manager at the Arts Council. “The exhibit features 19 pieces by 13 black North Carolina-based artists, and it is an amazing exhibition that is very thought provoking.” 

    The presenting artists are Derrick Beasley, Johnny Lee Chapman III, Dare Coulter, Andre’ Leon Gray, Jaki Shelton Green, Carly P. Jones, Stephen Hayes, Anthony Otto Nelson Jr., Nicole Oxendine, Telvin Wallace, Lamar Whidbee, Antoine Williams and Stephanie J. Woods.

    12 02 Exhibit“There is a five-minute film in our west gallery that loops all day long,” Scott said. “It is called ‘Free Market.’ It features an original poem and movement that was directed by Michael S. Williams and was filmed at the Market House in downtown Fayetteville.” In the piece, Williams speaks about the value that is placed on African Americans in history and today. 

    “With this exhibit, ‘Troublesome Presence,’ we are looking at identity, agency, introspection, intersectionality and other things,” said Williams, independent consultant, curator and founder of The Black On Black Project. “The title of the exhibition comes from a speech that Abraham Lincoln gave in 1852 when he gave a eulogy for Henry Clay, who was president and one of the founders of the American Colonization Society, in which Lincoln referred to free African Americans as a troublesome presence on slaveholders.”
    The Black On Black Project  website, https://www.blackonblackproject.com, explains why America needs to be willing to examine its stance on equality saying, “This work matters because important conversations about equity need to happen so that all community members are valued. A diverse community can be enriching, but engaging in dialogue about identity and difference is a must.

    “This work makes a difference in the lives of marginalized individuals and communities by allowing space to be seen and heard. It also makes a difference in the lives of the larger community by creating space to engage with others. When this engagement and dialogue happen, everyone’s life is enriched.”

    Williams added the idea of the exhibition is to show the antithesis of troublesome — that African Americans have not been troublesome in the United States.

     “One of the pieces in the exhibit includes  two works called ‘A Radiant Revolution II’ and ‘A Radiant Revolution III’ which are mixed media pieces by an artist named Stephanie J. Woods from Charlotte,” said Williams of the two-piece installation that is considered one work. “The work really highlights how much (black women matter) and how important black women are and how showing black women their ‘black is beautiful’ and ‘strong black girl,’ which is another phrase in one of the works, (is important).
    “There’s a piece in the show called ‘Untitled,’ and it is another video piece,” said Williams. “It features words from North Carolina poet laureate Jaki Shelton Green, dance instructor Nicole Oxendine and opera singer Carly P. Jones, who are outliers in their respective fields because you don’t see a lot of African American women in those roles. The idea is to show you have agency.    

    “Through artwork and some of our programs and workshops, we hope to showcase these 13 North Carolina-based artists and the work that they produced to show African Americans in a different light other than troublesome, but rather (as) folks who have done a lot to help the United States,” said Williams. “Through that, we hope to bring communities together to have somewhat difficult conversations about some of the things we face today.”   

    On its website, the Arts Council notes “The Arts Council of Fayetteville-Cumberland County partners with the Black On Black Project to produce an art exhibition and community programming that respond to the challenges communities of color face locally and across the country. After spending time in conversation with local leaders and members of the community, we’ve created an exhibit that aims to reflect a diversity of experiences. This partnership desires to bring more perspectives to the table for an open, honest dialogue to create an equitable future.”

    There  are four remaining events at the Arts Council in conjunction with this exhibition.

    Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. is a screening of “Wilmington on Fire.” The documentary covers the only successful coup in United States history, which happened in 1898 in Wilmington, N.C. Following the screening, a panel discussion will take place, featuring the director of the film, Christopher Everett, as well as some of the documentary’s other team members.

    Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. is a panel discussion titled “How artists can affect change in the community.” The panelists are Derrick Beasley, artist; Dare Coulter, artist; Sherris Johnson, founding director of OUR Place; Sonny Kelly, writer and performer of “The Talk.”

    Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. is a panel discussion titled  “The importance of understanding and documenting history.”This panel discussion will address how the documentation of history will affect how people remember history later.

    Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. is an evening of spoken word. Featured poets include Ayanna Albertson, Ashlee Connors, Ashley Lumpkins and Sherris Johnson. The poetry is written in response to the “Troublesome Presence” exhibit. The spoken word event is the Arts Council’s monthly Fourth Friday event.

    The film screening and three panel discussions are facilitated by Williams.

    Seating is limited for the programming events, so attendees should RSVP by emailing admin@theartscouncil.com or by calling 910-323-1776.

     The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information visit https://www.theartscouncil.com. or call 910-323-1776.

    Picture 1: “The Blacker The Berry” by Dare Coulter

    Picture 2: “Through It All” by Lamar Whidbee