• 06FireChiefMajorFayetteville Fire Chief Ben Major has retired after 35 years of service with the department. Deputy Chief Mike Hill has been appointed interim chief.

    A graduate of E.E. Smith High School, Major was hired as a firefighter in February 1984 after completing undergraduate studies at Pembroke State University. He went on to complete a master’s degree in public administration at the University of North Carolina – Pembroke. Major was promoted to chief of the department in October 2011.

    The Fayetteville Fire Department consists of 15 fire stations and 332 personnel. The fire department received international accreditation in 2011 and was re-accredited in 2016 by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. During Chief Major’s tenure, the department earned an Insurance Services Office Class 1 Public Protection Classification, placing the FFD in the top 1 percent of fire departments in the nation.

    “Ben’s commitment to constant improvement of services and personnel was his greatest strength,” said City Manager Doug Hewett. Interim Chief Hill has served the Fayetteville Fire/Emergency Management Department for more than 25 years. He has served as a deputy chief since 2010. The city of Fayetteville has always promoted its fire chiefs from within the ranks.

    Voter identification struck down

    A judge has thrown out two amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that voters approved in November. One of the amendments was to implement a voter ID requirement, and the other was to place a cap on the state income tax rate. News of the actions was not widely disseminated. Wake County Superior Court Judge G. Bryan Collins’ decisions were issued late Friday afternoon, Feb. 22.

    “An illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s constitution,” he wrote. 

    When the legislature voted to place the amendments on the 2018 ballot, many of the members had been elected under district lines that were ruled unconstitutional because they had been gerrymandered to dilute the political power of African-American voters.

    GenX controls continue

    Recently, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and other parties that signed a consent order made public last month learned the courts have approved the order. Downriver reduction in GenX in the Cape Fear River Basin will continue as the result of the order. Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser approved the decree in its entirety, giving relief for people near the Chemours plant on the Cumberland/Bladen County line.

    “Reliable, clean water is a right of every North Carolinian,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “This order was designed to ensure that the Cape Fear River can be that reliable, clean source for all who depend on its water.”

    All terms of the order went into effect Feb. 25. Regan said DEQ will use the full weight of the court’s contempt to hold Chemours accountable.

    Stadium naming rights continue

    The Fayetteville Woodpeckers have partnered with AEVEX Aerospace in the naming of Segra Stadium’s premium club level facilities. AEVEX is a defense industry leader in airborne intelligence solutions. AEVEX Veterans Club patrons will enjoy an indoor/outdoor fan experience from the optimal vantage point in the ballpark. Lounge/ couch seating will come complete with bar service, premium food offerings and waitstaff to highlight the club’s dining experience.

    AEVEX’s capabilities include three business units: Intelligence Solutions in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Flight Operations in Solana Beach, California; and Engineering & Technology in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

    Its operations are global in scale, with efforts in North and South America, Africa, Europe, the Pacific region and the Middle East.

     “AEVEX operates internationally and has an obvious attachment to Fort Bragg,” said Woodpeckers President Mark Zarthar. “With offices located adjacent to Segra Stadium, they have expressed confidence in Fayetteville’s vision for economic development in the city’s historic downtown.” 

    Cumberland County educators focus on the future

    Nearly 500 students, parents, educators and others gathered at a recent town hall meeting to discuss potential strategic plan focus areas derived from information gathered by Cumberland County Superintendent Marvin Connelly’s listening tour, district surveys and accreditation reports. 

    The county Board of Education and Strategic Plan Development Team will review the feedback, which will help shape the school system’s strategic priorities over the next five years. School officials hope to begin implementing the plan this fall.

    “Our work is directly connected to the quality of life our students will enjoy later in life and the economic vitality of our community,” Connelly said.

    Nearly a dozen focus areas will be reduced to three to five action priorities. They include: graduating every student confident, competitive and ready for a career and college; providing a variety of classes and activities that reflect student interests and backgrounds; offering a learning environment that supports growth academically, socially and emotionally; ensuring that school buildings are safe, secure, orderly and provide innovative learning environments; and engaging parents and the community to build trusting relationships.

    Photo: Ben Major

  • 01AthenaPubPenFirst of all, I want to say how proud we all are of our publisher, Bill Bowman, for being awarded the Greater Fayetteville Chamber’s coveted Athena Leadership Award. Secondly, and speaking on behalf of our entire female staff, I want to say how proud we are to be a part this wonderful company. Bill is the first male to receive this award, and based on the emails, tweets and text messages, it has a lot of people scratching their heads. So, I thought I would provide a little background into the programs, products and activities his companies provided to promote, support and encourage the women in our community.

    Trifecta of Success

    In Bill Bowman’s acceptance speech, he admitted he stands in the shadow of the many talented and dedicated Athena Award recipients who have nurtured, educated, encouraged and inspired women to greatness in our community: Suzanne Pennink, Linda Lee Allan, Jean Stultz, Linda Huff, Jan Johnson and Patricia Wright, to name a few. There are many people and organizations that do great things for the women of the Fayetteville/Fort Bragg community. They all are passionate about what they do and they all have the best intentions. But passion and good intentions do not always create a successful endeavor. Example: There were once three women-related entities in our community – a weekly women’s networking organization called B.U.G.s (Between Us Girls), a quarterly ladies’ luncheon and Fayetteville’s Women’s View magazine. 

    Each of these organizations was started by a woman with great passion and wonderful ideas, with the intent to encourage, empower, educate, develop and celebrate the women of this community. Unfortunately, even though the need was great, separately they all struggled to survive. The business networking group, B.U.G.s, had no place to hold its weekly meetings; the luncheon, though extremely popular, was imploding from its own success; and the magazine was scheduled to cease publishing.

    These circumstances led Bill Bowman to step in and adopt all three projects. He knew the women of the Fayetteville community needed them and their demise would leave a major and painful void in the community. He saw the need and potential of these empowering organizations and how they positively influenced the lives of local women from all walks of life. Bill has a passion and natural entrepreneurial instinct for wanting to create a better quality of life for all Fayetteville residents. He’ll admit “it takes a village,” and the key to saving these three institutions was getting the right person to bring them together to create a women’s advocacy tour de force. 

    That person was Keri “So Very” Dickson-Kittinger. She took on the task of fulfilling the mission and mandates of motivating, inspiring, developing and celebrating women. She is passionate and enthusiastic about the needs of women. This made her the perfect partner to carry out Bill’s desire to bring all these organizations together to serve Fayetteville’s women. Keri was the “Oh So Very” right person. Her spunk, energy, determination, love and empathy for the women of this community gave local women what they needed and wanted. Keri, as the leader of these organizations, has the passion and direction they need to grow and prosper. And they have. Together, here is what Bill and Keri “So Very” Dickson-Kittinger have done:

    B.U.G.s (Between Us Girls) is led weekly by Keri Dickson with the assistance of Candy Sugarman and Jill Merrill. Businesses pay $25 a month for membership. B.U.G.s is a structured program with a plan for each month’s weekly meetings to help develop, encourage and support women in business. Week 1 provides the opportunity for one member to share the struggles they face in their business so they can receive valuable feedback from the group to help them overcome the struggle. Week 2 is education week, which is designed to not only teach, but to challenge women to step out of their comfort zones and overcome the struggles they face in business. Week 3 gives members the opportunity to present their business to the group and is broadcast on Facebook Live. Week 4 is all about accountability. Keri follows up with the woman that was on the focus chair in week 1. She also follows up on the challenge issued in week 2, and members talk about the business referrals passed within the group that month. When there are five weeks in the month, week 5 is designed to help the members get to know each other even better to encourage referrals within the group. Keri likes to remind the B.U.G.s members that they are business owners, not hobby owners (“BOs not HOs,” she says. You have to know Keri to receive that well). She reminds them that they are in business to make money, and it’s okay to say that, because successful women with plenty of money help the community by giving back. The weekly B.U.G.s meetings keep these women in business strengthened, encouraged, connected, focused and motivated. 

    The Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch is a quarterly event that encourages women and gives them the opportunity to connect with and uplift each other. There are vendor opportunities for businesses to present their products and services. At each luncheon, a woman with an inspiring message from within the community addresses the ladies and shares the story of her journey. Keri leads the advisory board that makes this event happen. Women have made connections at these lunches that helped them snag their dream job and live a more balanced life doing what they love to do. It’s difficult to put into words how powerful it is to be in a room full of positive women. 

    Women’s View magazine ties it all together. Women’s View is written by the women of this community, about the women of this community, for the women of this community. This publication highlights local women who are working hard to make a difference. It takes a team to make it all happen and Up & Coming Weekly is proud of Keri and the team she and Bill have put together to promote women’s initiatives. 

    All this said, they provide the women of the Fayetteville community the opportunity to pursue their dreams, to grow personally and professionally and to see success in their business and personal lives. 

    A special thanks to the many women who worked with Bill through the years to make this company the community powerhouse it is today: Merrilyn Bowman, Janice Burton, Joy Crowe, Jean Bolton, Suzy Patterson, Paulette Naylor, Sara Smith, Laurel Handforth, April Olsen, Linda McAlister, Beverly Pone, Judy Stapleton, Leslie Pyo, Elizabeth Long. A special thank you to, Karla Allen, creator and founder of Fayetteville’s Women’s View magazine and B.U.G.s, and Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch founder Denise Mercado and charter board members Keri Dickson-Kittinger, Peggy Manning, Chi Chi Okoroofor, Jill Merrill, Cely Graham, Belinda Wilkerson, Dr. Mary Kansora, Joan Richter, Paulette Naylor and Stacy Simfukwe. Thank you, Candy Sugarman, Jill Merrill, Belinda Wilkersonfor your B.U.G.s leadership. Thank you, April Perton and Laneilyn Naylor of Grace Enterprises, for hosting B.U.G.s each week. And thank you to all the local women who support these projects.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly!

  • 18Arm WrestlingOn April 8, the inaugural Strength Through Legacy Arm Wrestling Tournament is set to take place at Charlie Mike’s. Located at 195 Starpoint Dr., Charlie Mike’s is a local watering hole with a heart for the military community. The tournament commemorates Sgt. 1st Class Bradley S. Bohle, who was killed in action in 2009. Proceeds benefit the Green
    Beret Foundation. 

    Bohle’s widow, Elizabeth, is excited to partner with Dog Tag Brewing Foundation and the Steel Mags to establish what she hopes will become an annual event. “To my knowledge, this is the first time an arm wrestling tournament has been in Fayetteville, and it is a first for the Green Beret Foundation,” said Elizabeth. “It’s open to anyone who wants to enter. First time or experienced – doesn’t matter. Come out, see a great sport, and have a great time. Come experience some hard-hitting, in-your-face, over the top action and support a great cause.”

    An arm wrestling tournament seemed like the perfect way to honor her husband because it is an event that seeks to encompass the competitive spirit of Green Berets and Steel Mags while encouraging the support of the community in a fun and friendly environment.

    “People can expect to show up to arm wrestle and have a good time,” she said. “We would love to have max participation from the surrounding community and have upwards of 90 arm wrestlers.”

    There is also a silent auction with several unique items donated from within the veteran community. Paraclete donated a buddy plan pass, and Spartan Blades donated a knife. There are several other donors as well. There will also be a raffle for a custom Punisher Adirondack chair. Charlie Mike’s and Thai Pepper will both serve food and are open for business during the event. 

    There are prizes for first, second and third place finishers in all categories. There are men’s and women’s categories for left and right arms as well as different
    weight classes.

    The Green Beret Foundation holds a special place in Elizabeth’s heart because it was this organization that reached out to her after her husband was killed. “The Green Beret Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps Green Berets and their families carry on with the mission. There are many facets to the organization including casualty support, extended support, transition support and family support which is how I became involved with the foundation,” said Elizabeth. “Jen Paquette, executive director of the foundation, reached out to me several years ago after Brad was killed in action. Through the foundation, Jenny was instrumental in helping me start the healing process.”

    Registration and weigh-ins start at 4:30 p.m. and the tournament begins at 6 p.m. For more information, email braggsmags@greenberetfoundation.org.

  • 17fiddlerFiddler on the Roofis a classic piece of musical theater that first debuted in 1964. Gray’s Creek High School brings this classic to Fayetteville March 30-April 1. “Fiddleris a big show. We are not doing the junior version. We are doing the entire show. This year, we have been very lucky to have Mr. and Mrs. Vrabel and Mrs. Campbell on board with us. In high school theater, we have to do it all ourselves. We don’t have lighting, sound, costume or makeup departments we can depend on,” said Claudia Warga-Dean, representative for Gray’s Creek High School. “However, we do have people such as the Vrabels, who helped us out immensely this year, going over singing, dancing, blocking, set, whatever was needed, so we can bring the show together on time. Also, the parents built our amazing set.”

    The primary focus of the Gray’s Creek theater and chorus departments, though, are the students and their education. “Another reason we chose the show is because it comes with characters that the students really had to research and understand,” Warga-Dean said. 

    Theater takes a lot of time, effort and professionalism from the actors and the production crew. Additionally, many of the shows tackle very difficult issues. Fiddler on the Roofdeals with some serious and relevant themes like tradition and faith. The fact that the faculty chose such a difficult play for the students speaks volumes. “In the past, we have done a lot of comedies. However, after our fall production of Infinite Black Suitcase this year, which was an intense drama about how people in a small town deal with death, we realized that our students are very capable of taking on heavier issues,” Warga-Dean said. 

    Caleb Brigman leads the show as Tevye. “He is doing some wonderful work as Tevye. He really embodies the warmness of Tevye along with his struggle between family, tradition and a changing world. He also carries the weariness of the hardships that came along with living in that time and place. He is mature beyond his years,” said Dean-Warga. She added that Bobbie Hand does a great job as Golde, who is the glue that holds the family together.

    “Devon Cessna is our Perchik. Devon is so dedicated and very talented. He always goes the extra mile. Last year he learned how to tap dance for Once Upon a Mattress,” said Dean-Warga. She added that “The three daughters, Celeste Tice, Audrey Forman, and Bethanny Drake, really have a nice chemistry together and have all worked hard to bring out the different personalities of the daughters. Bethanny just received a full ride to Methodist University for music.”

    Dean-Warga also noted there are several Gray’s Creek students who participate in local community theatre at CFRT, FTCC and the Gilbert as well. A few of those actors are Kate McCosh, Audrey Forman, Courtney Peters and Devon Cessna. “We have a couple of the students from the football team that are a part of the play. Joey Creekmore is on the football team and plays the Rabbi. Nash Burke has done football and he helped construct set pieces for the show. I think that is a great thing. Our theatre department is not closed off. We have football players, band, art students...it is really diverse,” she added. 

    The production is possible thanks to the collaboration of the chorus and theater departments at the school. “I hope the community will come out to see the show because it’s a wonderful thing that Gray’s Creek has such wonderfully talented kids. They are so capable of giving an authentic performance and really making the plight of the Jewish community in Russia at the turn of the century feel close to us. They are making connections between historical and current events that are important as they become a part of a global society,” said Chorus teacher and Co-Director Amy Stovall.

    Fiddler on the Roof will run March 30, 31 and April 1 in the Gray’s Creek High School Auditorium. The shows Thursday and Friday start at 7 p.m. The Saturday showing is a matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door of from cast members.

  • 15antonio cabralAntonio Cabral

    Gray’s Creek • Soccer, track • Junior

    Cabral had a 70 percent save percentage as goalkeeper for Gray’s Creek. He has a 4.667 grade point average.






    16laure mooreLauren Moore

    Jack Britt • Basketball • Junior

    Moore led Britt in scoring with a 13.4 average and was named first team All-Mid-South 4-A. She has a 4.35 grade point average.

  • 14Spencer OxendineA year ago, Jack Britt’s Spencer Oxendine was the only golfer in the Mid-South 4-A Conference to finish the season with an average round under 80. To say he’s picked up where he left off this year is an understatement.

    Through three rounds in 2017, Oxendine has yet to shoot a round in the 80s. His last round, a 76 on March 21 at Stryker Golf Course, was his worst of the year. In spite of that, he’s been a medalist in all three weekly Mid-South tournaments.

    This story will publish before the fourth tournament of the year at Upland Trace.

    Jack Britt golf coach Joe Myrtle said he’s been most impressed with the way Oxendine is striking the ball this season, and how he’s starting to manage the course better than he did during his freshman year last season.

    “He played a lot of tournament golf over the summer,’’ Myrtle said. “He learned how to play at a higher intensity with better golfers. He found he could score better, but he also saw at times if he lost his focus it can go away real quick.’’

    Myrtle said the important thing Oxendine has to realize is, like major league baseball, the golf season is a marathon, and a hot streak in the first few matches won’t continue if he doesn’t pace himself and continue to fine tune his game.

    “I’m more concerned with him working on his short game,’’ Myrtle said. “As long as he’s striking the ball, his short game can help him out a ton.’’

    In the weeks ahead, Myrtle said he’d like Oxendine not to focus so much on his score as how many fairways and greens he’s hitting.

    Oxendine feels the courses he’s played so far this golf season aren’t as tough as the ones he tackled during his run of summer competition. “I use high school golf as a way to get back into a competitive mentality,’’ he said. “I should be playing much better. I shot better on tougher courses over the summer.’’

    The summer golf helped Oxendine toughen his mental approach to the game so he could place himself into competitive situations over and over and get used to it.

    He will continue to focus on practice, going to Pinehurst every other weekend and working on his game there.

    “I hope I can shoot a sub-70 round,’’ he said. “That would be nice. With the courses we’ve got left, I’m very confident.’’

    Last year, Oxendine advanced to the N.C. High School Athletic Association regional tournament and qualified for the state tournament where he finished in the top 30.

    Myrtle thinks a repeat is possible, with Oxendine finishing as high as top 20 or even top 15.

    “You never know,’’ Myrtle said. “One good day and he could be in
    the top 10.’’

  • 13CarverClassicThe Carver Classic, named after former Cumberland County Schools Student Activities Director Bill Carver, is annually one of the biggest track meets in the Cape Fear region.

    This year’s Carver will be taking on an expanded look as it’s scheduled to be held two days for the first time, March 31 and April 1, at John Daskal Stadium at Reid Ross Classical High School on Ramsey Street.

    Current Student Activities Director Vernon Aldridge said the idea to make the meet run two days came from conversations with local track coaches and with people who run major meets elsewhere in
    the state.

    “Mr. Carver is such a great man we wanted to make this thing as big as possible,’’ Aldridge said. Adding a Friday round of competition will let the Carver hold an open 1,600-meter race and a 400-meter hurdle race. Saturday will feature the field events and the traditional running finals for girls and boys.

    Aldridge said many track coaches like to get competitive times for their 1,600-meter athletes, and scheduling an open race will allow plenty of chances for that. 

    The 400-meter hurdles are mainly run at the college level, Aldridge said. Running it in a high school meet will give hurdlers a chance to show college recruiters a competitive time in that event.

    It’s still early and the final list of competitors hasn’t been confirmed, but here are some likely names from Cumberland County to watch for in the meet: Jade Jordan, Pine Forest, 4-A indoor long jump state champion; Zinzili Kelley, Douglas Byrd, fourth in 3-A indoor long jump; Janay Hall, South View, 4-A indoor track middle distance champion; and Chianti Ghee, Pine Forest, third in 4-A indoor shot.

    • After putting together a successful girls’ invitational soccer event recently at Terry Sanford, Bulldog girls’ and boys’ coach Karl Molnar is working on a major preseason boys’ tournament for this August.

    Terry Sanford would host all of the games, and the field would include the Bulldogs along with Pinecrest, Fayetteville Academy, Pine Forest, Lee County, Southern Lee, South View and Seventy-First.

    Molnar got the idea from his friend Jamie Sykes, who reminded Molnar of a similar tournament held at Westover when Molnar was in his playing days at Fayetteville Academy in the 1980s.

    The tournament would benefit an organization founded by Molnar’s wife, Kim, called Miller’s Crew, which supports local youngsters with disabilities.

    Details of the tournament are still developing, but Molnar plans to pair
    the teams so that, as much as possible, they won’t meet conference rivals.

    • Congratulations to the Jack Britt High School cheerleaders, who recently placed second in a national cheerleading! competition held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

  • 12KongKong: Skull Island (Rated PG-13)

    I am not opposed to extended movie universes. I think they’re generally pretty cool, even if some (*cough* DC Extended University *cough*) fall short of their potential. But trying to create a “Legendary Monsterverse” out of Godzilla, King Kong, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah — well, color me skeptical. Kong: Skull Island (118 minutes) was better than I expected, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was clumsily executed, and the connection to the recent Godzilla movie was forced, at best.

    The film begins in 1944, during World War II. An American named Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) lands on a beach and fights with a Japanese pilot named Gunpei Ikari (Miyavi). I’m sure that in modern Hollywood, a blockbuster movie will be sure to incorporate Gunpei into the remaining plot and … wait, nope. That dude dies off screen, leaving Hank as the only moderately likeable character. 

    Fast forward to the 1970s. Bill Randa (John Goodman, apparently still alive) is a scientist performing science for the United States government in the closing days of the Vietnam War. The conflict that starts off this segment is that Bill wants to do science but the government doesn’t want to pay for it. Bill convinces somebody to let him tag along with a different, better funded, group of scientists doing science, and somehow manages to get everything else he wanted, including a military escort and low-rent James Bond named James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston). An anti-war photographer named Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) is also included on the assignment, because (reason to be decided later).

    The cast is huge at this point, but that doesn’t mean there’s not room for one more female character, and I’m sure that in modern Hollywood both women will have an interesting, dynamic … wait, nope. The plot splits them up as soon as possible, so they never have the chance to accidently talk to each other or play a significant role in the film. You know, I was paying careful attention, and I’m not sure the other female character even got a name, much less a back story. I’ll admit, it was entirely possible she got both and I missed it due to not being able to care about any of the people except Hank.

    The group flies over Skull Island, blow some stuff up, and Kong understandably attackes them. After the first encounter with King Kong, the cast is still pretty big, with Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) leading a group of survivors to kill King Kong and Conrad leading a slightly smaller group to a rendezvous point on the other side of the island. Along the way, Packard’s group is steadily whittled away, their determination to kill Kong increasingly resembling Ahab chasing the white whale. When the two groups finally share the screen again, it is clear that the military are the bad guys — unable to recognize that their true enemy isn’t King Kong, but another kind of M.U.T.O. (yes, they resurrected the Massive Unidentified Terrestial Organism acronym from Godzilla), the skullcrawlers.

    Overall, if you’ve seen Apocalypse Now and thought, “gosh, what this movie needs is a giant ape and a pokemon-inspired antagonist” you’re in for a treat. Everyone else, feel free to place bets on who gets wiped out in their first encounter with King Kong, stuff you face with popcorn, and then take a pleasant nap for the last hour of the film. 

    Now playing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.

  • 001CoverExpress Employment Professionals believes that great leaders don’t just stand on their own; they cultivate and build incredible teams. For the third annualRefresh Leadership Live Simulcast and “Shop Local” Business 2 Business Expo,the lineup of celebrity speakers will focus on this theme. EEP is a locally-owned staffing and human resources company that benefits both employees and employers by matching the right people with the right jobs. 

    This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Refresh Leadership Live Simulcast by the EEP Fayetteville office, which has been owned and managed by Brad Loase since 2002. In 2014, Up & Coming Weeklypublisher Bill Bowman and the Greater Fayetteville Chamber teamed up with Loase to develop and expand the Live Simulcast program into a full day of leadership training and networking opportunities for local organizations and business owners. Three years later, the event is still going strong. This year’s full-day event is hosted by Ramada Plaza (formally the Holiday Inn Bordeaux). It is set for Wednesday, April 12, 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. “Leadership is something that we at Express … feel very strongly about. That’s why we get behind it and put a lot of effort into developing this for the community,” Loase said. 

    This year, Loase has added another business development dimension to the Leadership Expo: EEP and Up & Coming Weekly will host the Chamber Coffee Club networking breakfast. The Leadership Live Simulcast will immediately follow the breakfast in three simulcast segments, beginning with internationally-recognized speaker and best-selling business author Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni will speak about “The Ideal Team Player,” expounding on what he considers to be the three essential characteristics of team players: humility, hunger and people smarts. 

    After a short break, Lencioni will be followed by the keynote speaker, Jimmy Johnson, American football broadcaster, former player and former NFL two-time Super Bowl winning head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Currently, Johnson is a sports analyst for Fox, hosting the pregame show NFL Sunday.He will draw on the lessons learned from his distinguished coaching career to discuss “Teams That Win: Fundamentals for Success.” 

    Robyn Benincasa will round out the Live Simulcast. Benincasa is an inspiration for business owners and a teaching tour de force when it comes to building teams. This CNN Hero has real life experiences in marketing, firefighting and adventure racing and is a best-selling author. She will take viewers on a multimedia adventure that “viscerally imparts the attitude and mindset that allows groups of ordinary people to accomplish truly extraordinary feats together.” 

    The Live Simulcast is free, but registration is required. Signing up is easy, and can be done at www.refreshleadership.com/live.

    Immediately following the Live Simulcast, attendees will have the opportunity to network and learn from over 40 local Fayetteville businesses and organizations who will be featured in the “Shop Local” Business Expo. Gifts and door prizes will be presented all day. 

    Attendees will also have a second exciting option in the afternoon. They are invited to attend the Refresh Leadership Luncheon featuring a special guest, Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid star EJ Snyder. Snyder is a highly decorated combat Army veteran who teaches survival skills through team building. Snyder said he feels he has many messages to share with the business community when it comes to how teamwork contributes to life’s successes. “I just have a knack … for finding the good in everyone and capitalizing on their strengths,” he said. “I’ve found that with my teams if I showed them I was passionate about what I was doing and that I had a love in my heart for them and truly cared for them, I had (much better results).” 

    Tickets for the luncheon are $40 with a $5 discount for members of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber and Better Business Bureau, military, students and seniors. If available, tickets will be $45 at the door. Contact the Chamber of Commerce or call (910) 391-3859 for tickets and information.

    Two business-related team-building workshops will be held after lunch. One will be “Tactical and Practical,” conducted by EJ Snyder, and the other will focus on traditional business development practices and will be conducted by the Greater Fayetteville Chamber in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina. These activities will be followed by a Town Hall-style open discussion with a panel of local experts, featuring five known and proven leaders in the business community. The panel members will share their secrets of success and field business-related questions from the audience. The panelists are: 

    Darsweil Rogers, president/CEO of RMC Strategies: Rogers is a seasoned coach and consultant specializing in the development of professional managers and business leaders with an emphasis on growing profitability while delivering value
    to customers. 

    John D’Ambrosio, president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina: D’Ambrosio has over 40 years’ experience in assisting businesses to build successful teams.

    Kirk deViere, president/CEO of 219 Group: As a veteran entrepreneur, deViere is well-versed in team building. He has owned and initiated many successful startup ventures in the technology, consumer products, communications and hospitality industries.

    Susanne Pennink, Realtor and co-owner of Coldwell Banker Unity Realty: As a real estate professional, Pennink has been in just about every industry position in Cumberland County and the state. She has also held the position of president of the North Carolina Associations of REALTORS. 

    EJ Snyder will round out the panel, and you can be sure he will have hard-earned and unique advice. 

    The day will conclude with the grand finale Business 2 Business After Hours Reception, hosted by the Ramada Plaza, Better Business Bureau and Greater Fayetteville Chamber. It will be a celebration where the vendors, special guests, business leaders and city, county and state-elected officials will all come together to network while promoting the “shop local” theme. There will be music, food, fun, prizes and surprises. “The format for this is pretty relaxed but interactive,” Loase said. “It’s important to hear what these people who have had tremendous success have to say. But even more important is to hear what people in our community have to say about that and interact and communicate with each other about it.” 

    The leadership event is free all day except for the optional Refresh Leadership Luncheon. Leadership participants must register online at www.refreshleadership.com/live. To register for the luncheon, visit www.eventbrite.com and search “Refresh Leadership Live Simulcast and Business Expo.”

    This event is made possible by many organizations in our community. The hosting sponsors are Express Employment Professionals, Greater Fayetteville Chamber, Better Business Bureau, Ramada Plaza, Beasley Broadcasting and Up & Coming Weekly. Other supporting organizations include PWC, Fayetteville State University, Bragg Mutual Credit Union, Bizcard Express, FTCC and the UPS Store, just to name a few.

  • 10the secret gardenThe next show of the season for the Gilbert Theater is The Secret Garden: A Musical, which runs March 24-April 9. This show is originally adapted from a children’s book, but it is a performance for all ages. “This story really is the perfect family musical because it reaches both children and adults. The themes of redemption and reconciliation are very prominent as well as love and loss and how we deal with that. I firmly believe that audiences will be able to see a bit of their experience in the story unfolding onstage. My hope is that this production will remind both children and adults to look for the magic in life and how often that magic is found in the people we love,” explained Matthew Overturf, the new artistic director of the Gilbert Theater. 

    The original story was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and published in 1910. It follows a sickly young girl and her family, whose lives are changed by their experiences with a garden. Though over a century old, the story contains powerful themes that still ring true today.  “The themes of eternal love for a spouse and for family, the magic in our everyday lives, and the idea of finding redemption are particularly interesting to me. What is also interesting is that the songs and story speak even in rehearsal,” Overturf said. “There is a particular song in the show that brought me to tears during the read through. While it was sung beautifully and that was enough to bring tears to one’s eyes, it was the message of the song that spoke to me. It was the perfect song at the perfect time. I thoroughly enjoy this beautiful piece of theater and know audiences will too.”

    The Secret Garden will be a musical on the Gilbert Theater stage. This adds an extra level of challenge for the performers and excitement for the audience. “Musicals require dynamic acting, interesting costumes and creative sets just like any other play. The unique difficulty is in finding a cast that can sing well and a musical director that knows how to guide a cast to make beautiful music and work with the director to create something beautiful,” Overturf said. “We are so very fortunate to have Katherine Anderson as our musical director. Not only is she in the cast, but a wonderful musician who knows how to help a cast discover their potential. She is a wonderful collaborator. “

    The Gilbert Theater has a long history of making theater available for younger audience members. Exposure to the arts is important for individual growth and watching shows as a family can serve as a starting point for interesting and sometimes life-changing conversations. The Gilbert Theater also offers a summer camp for when watching shows just isn’t enough. “Our summer acting camp is a wonderful opportunity for students ages 6-17 to learn more about theater, hone their acting skills, sing and dance and ultimately have fun while learning. The camp is July 31 to August 12. Students have the option of attending one or two weeks. At the end of the week, there is a special showcase for family and friends to see what their students have been learning during their time at camp,” Overturf said. 

    For more information about the shows at the Gilbert Theater, to purchase tickets, or to learn more about the summer camp, call the Box Office at 910-678-7186, email admin@gilberttheater.com or visit the website www.gilberttheater.com.

  • 08FSOJazzWineIt’s been quite a year for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. The organization held auditions for its next conductor by having candidates test their skills on stage at each concert this season. With a decision coming soon, next season’s audiences have plenty to look forward to. The is one more even to enjoy before this season ends, though. The FSO presents the Second Annual Jazz and Wine Fest, Friday, April 7, from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. in Festival Park located in downtown Fayetteville. 

    “The Jazz and Wine Fest is going to be a nice social evening out,” said Julia Atkins, Director of Artistic Operations and Marketing for the FSO. “It was originally scheduled for Oct. 7, but due to Hurricane Matthew we had to postpone it.” Atkins added that the idea first started as a fundraiser for the FSO and they decided to have a jazz and wine fest because it would be a cool thing for Fayetteville to have. 

    The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra reached out to universities to perform for the event and wanted to give them the publicity as well. The festival will feature performances by statewide jazz bands and acapella student groups from UNC Greensboro, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Pembroke, Methodist University and Fayetteville State University. “They will be performing throughout the evening, and people are welcome to come,” said Atkins. “There will be various beer and wine by Healy Wholesale Company along with food trucks on-site for attendees to purchase food items.” Atkins added that a general admission ticket includes this as well as a souvenir glass. 

    “We encourage people to purchase tickets in advance, and we welcome parents to bring their kids,” said Atkins. “This is really a nice event to give the community of Fayetteville something else to go and see.”       

    The fest will take place rain or shine. General admission is $25 before the day of the event and $30 the day of the event. The military price is $20, $10 for kids and non-drinking is $10. The VIP package is $45 per person, and it includes a separate beer and wine service, appetizers from Carrabba’s Italian Grill and reserved seating close to the stage. It is limited to the first 150 people to purchase. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. 

     For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.fayettevillesymphony.org or call 433-4690. 

  • 09Erinns articleThe week of April 3, Fayetteville State University will host its Fine Arts Week. FSU is committed to supporting the arts year-round as a part of its curriculum. Fine Arts Week is special because it is packed with a variety of performances featuring different themes and mediums. This is a perfect time to experience something new and engage in relevant conversation with other members of the community. For more information, visit www.fsuarts.com. Many of the events are free and open to the public.

    The first part of Fine Arts Week is an Invitational Exhibition of Women Artists featuring the work of Sonya Clark. The exhibit focuses specifically on the works of female artists of color from around the United States. Sonya Clark is an American artist born in Washington, D.C. She is of Afro-Caribbean heritage, and her work often addresses race, culture, class and history. She engages these difficult topics often through the use of hair, both symbolically and physically. This exhibit has been open since Feb. 24 and closes April 8 at 7 p.m. The exhibition is in the Rosenthal Gallery located at 1200 Murchison Road. April 8, Sonya Clark visits FSU to talk about her work that was featured in the art exhibit. She is a highly-acclaimed artist and has exhibited work in over 300 museums and galleries across the world. She has also received many awards and fellowships such as the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. Her success has given her incredible opportunities to travel, explore, research and learn. She will be bringing an entire lifetime of learning and creativity to Fayetteville for the community to explore. This is an incredible opportunity to learn and to engage with one of the most brilliantly creative artists in the country. Her talk will take place in the Rosenthal Gallery at 1200 Murchison Road from 1-3 p.m.

    April 3 features a musical recital with art songs and spirituals in Seabrook Auditorium. The performance is titled Songs of a People.Performers include Dr. Denise Payton and Dr. Amanda Virelles. 

    At 2 p.m. on April 4m Jim White will speak about career pathways in the music industry. Also, on April 4, the student chamber music ensemble will perform Petite Musical at 7 p.m. in Seabrook Auditorium.

    On April 5, Seabrook Auditorium hosts the music student solo recitals at noon with the FSU Concert Band performing April 6 at 7 p.m. 

    April 6-8 at 7:30 p.m.  a comedy-drama rock musical is scheduled to take pace in the Butler Theater. The show is called Passing Strangeand it is by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling the FSU Box Office at 910.672.1724. This show focuses on the story of a young African-American man as he travels through Europe. His journey is one of self-discovery and artistic growth. The show has been widely produced from Broadway to a filmed version directed by Spike Lee in 2008. The show addresses many themes such as identity, love and art.  

    On April 7 from 7 - 9 p.m., don’t’ miss Can I Kick It, which will be at the Bronco Theater at 1200 Murchison Road.  The event is presented by Shaolin Jazz. This film experience is unlike any other. DJ 2-Tone Jones will mix a soundtrack live to accompany a cult classic martial arts film. The mix will feature hip-hop, Soul and Funk. Each screening is an entirely unique performance as the music is mixed live. This soundtrack is intended to give the audiences a new viewing experience. The music highlights certain elements in scenes and fights in a way that traditional soundtracks would not. The show combines classic kung-fu with classic hip-hop to combine an incredible and new viewing experience. It explores a phenomenon that has occurred since the 1970s:  how African-American culture and East Asian culture have intersected in interesting and engaging ways. 

  • 07RAINCommunity Concerts’ season finale will take place Tuesday, April 11 at the Crown Complex, with RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles. RAIN is a multi-media global sensation, seen by over 1.9 million people, that time travels through the life and times of one of the world’s most beloved bands. The show celebrates the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles’ eighth studio album, and the first rock LP to ever receive Album of
    the Year. 

    Fans will be pleased to hear Beatles classics like “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Let It Be,” “Come Together” and “Hey Jude.” The Associated Press called RAIN “the next best thing to seeing The Beatles!”

    One unique aspect of RAINis that members perform challenging and complex songs that the original Beatles themselves recorded in the studio, but never performed live. RAIN’s updated sets include LED, high-definition screens and multimedia surprises. 

    Since RAIN has been together even longer than The Beatles were, they have, according to their press release, “mastered every song, gesture and nuance of the legendary foursome, delivering a totally live, note-for-note performance that’s as infectious as it is transporting.” They have received praise from The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post 
    and more. 

    Community Concerts Attractions Director Michael Fleishman said, “RAIN was a smash hit on Broadway and continues to receive rave reviews. For those who have seen it, the show has been expanded to include even more of your favorite songs, a newSergeant Pepper tribute, and some of the best lighting and staging you will ever see.” RAINfounder, member and original keyboardist Mark Lewis spoke in a 2017 interview about the diverse crowd a RAIN show brings: “We get a lot of ‘baby boomers’, (sic) ex-hippies, etc. BUT, we also get parents that love to bring their kids.  A lot (of) teenagers and young children. I think parents take a certain pride in turning their children on to the music of the Beatles … The appeal of RAIN is the appeal of, in my opinion, the greatest music ever written and recorded, the greatest band in history, The Beatles.” 

    Tickets to see RAIN on April 11 range from $28 to $65 and are available in person at the Crown Box Office or online at www.crowncomplexnc.com. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. 

    Community Concerts, founded in 1935, holds the title of Fayetteville’s oldest art organization. They are an “all-volunteer, non-profit whose goal is to bring the finest in top-notch entertainment to Fayetteville.” Their previous concert on March 18 was 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. New members inducted on March 18 included the late Harlan Duenow, Alan Porter and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers.

  • 06BBBThe world has grown smaller with advances in technology and communications. People are often unsure about where to find verified, unbiased business information. Believe it or not, there are 30 million businesses in North America alone and hundreds of thousands of worldwide websites where people shop online. Inexpensive advertising can put a slick face on even the most deceptive businesses. There are thousands of free and subscription websites that offer a range of information, including reviews, reports, directories, listings and gripe sites. The Better Business Bureau is the one place you can find it all. For over 100 years, BBB has helped people make smarter decisions and is evolving to meet fast-changing marketplace needs.

    The BBB has a greater presence in Fayetteville than ever before. For the first time, local people have been elected to serve in leadership positions. “We’ve done something very historic,” said Regional President and CEO John D’Ambrosio. Carl Mitchell, vice president for Human Resources at Fayetteville Technical Community College, is Chairman. Businessman Ed Melvin is Chair-elect. “Typically,” D’Ambrosio said, “our executives are... chosen from Horry County, South Carolina,” where the regional BBB is headquartered.

    The selection of Mitchell and Melvin emphasizes that “Fayetteville and Cumberland County are deserving of greater attention,” added the president.

    There are 15 counties in the regional BBB structure, seven in South Carolina and eight in North Carolina. “Fayetteville is an anchor point for us,” said D’Ambrosio. Other anchor points are Florence, Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. “We realize the potential of this market,” Mitchell said. He noted that Melvin, who served for many years as a county commissioner, has been on the BBB board for 22 years and gives the agency historic perspective. 

    “We hope to expand services and provide more information” about our members, Mitchell added. He stressed the overall objective is to be more visible and active in the entire 15-county area served by the Better Business Bureau. Of special interest to the Fort Bragg community is BBB’s Military and Veterans Initiative free monthly e-newsletter. “Trusted Scout” helps readers be better consumers and avoid scams designed to separate them from their hard-earned money. There are numerous resources for military members, their families
    and veterans.  

    Local businesses can become accredited members of the BBB by agreeing to govern themselves by best practice standards set by the bureau. The BBB says seven out of 10 consumers prefer to do business with accredited companies. Founded in 1912, the Better Business Bureau is a nonprofit organization focused on advancing marketplace trust. The local organization  is one of 112 independently incorporated local BBBs in the United States and Canada. They are coordinated under the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Arlington, Virginia. 

  • 05CountyJailHealthCumberland County Commissioners are working on two fronts to improve medical services provided to detention center inmates. The board is preparing to request proposals from firms interested in contracting with the county to provide health care at the jail, which is among the state’s largest detention centers with more than 800 inmates. County Commission Chairman Glenn Adams has empaneled “a working group to review deficiencies in the jail health program and to develop a corrective action plan,” said Assistant County Manager Sally Shutt. “The chairman appointed a subcommittee of the group to review the accreditation findings and to report recommendations back to the working group on corrective actions within the existing jail health program operated by the Cumberland County Department of Public Health,” Shutt added.  

    Jail health care is administered by the department of public health, not the sheriff’s office. The detention center’s health program lost its accreditation in November 2016, “following significant changes to the accreditation standards,” said Public Health Director Buck Wilson. The National Commission on Corrections Health Care put it differently in its report: “There are very serious issues that suggest the basic health care needs of the patient population are not being met.” 

    The NCCHC is widely recognized for its recommendations for the management of correctional health services systems. They specifically outline procedures for county jails as opposed to prisons. Manuals for mental health services and opioid treatment programs are included. The commission says the standards cover care and treatment, health records, administration, personnel and medical-legal issues. These essential resources have helped correctional and detention facilities improve the health of their inmates. And they reduce the risk of adverse legal judgments. County Attorney Rick Moorefield told commissioners that instances of legal challenges by inmates have been reduced significantly over the years with advances in jail health care. He noted that the Cumberland County Detention Center infirmary cannot be utilized to its fullest unless the program
    is accredited.

    Wilson says there is no industry standard, and participation in accreditation programs is not required. “The Department of Public Health conducted a survey in February” and found “most of the jails in North Carolina that responded to the survey are not accredited.”  Thirty-four counties responded to the survey. Wilson noted that “only four health departments operated the jail health program; 30 used another
    entity to operate jail health.” Most of those did not have accredited health care programs.

    Sheriff Ennis Wright prefers accreditation, as did his predecessor, retired Sheriff Moose Butler. “Providing non-accredited health services is a dangerous thing,” said Sheriff’s Attorney Ronnie Mitchell. Wilson sought funding to meet the higher jail health accreditation standards but was denied. “Accreditation standards were the same for 20 years, and Cumberland County’s program stayed accredited throughout that time,” Wilson said. “It was only after the standards changed significantly that the jail health program lost its accreditation,” he noted.  “Moving forward, the County will be looking at all aspects of the jail health program and is utilizing the request for proposals process to determine the most cost-effective manner for providing jail health services,” said Shutt. 

  • 04NewsDigestNew Chamber CEO

    The Greater Fayetteville Chamber has named Christine Michaels its new president and chief executive officer. Michaels has 18 years of association management experience plus 10 years in journalism, marketing, and public relations. She has a B.S. in Public Relations from Empire State College in New York. Michaels has served as the chief executive of two chambers both of which have achieved the highest ranking of 5-stars from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Michaels comes to Fayetteville from Brandon, Florida, where she served as Executive Director of the Greater Brandon Chamber. “With Christine’s vast experience in successfully running Chambers, we look forward to new ideas and growth for our members,” said Kitti Jo Finch, Chair of the Chamber.

    Publisher Bill Bowman wins Athena Award

    Bill Bowman, founder and publisher of Up & Coming Weekly, was honored by the Greater Fayetteville Chamber at its 2017 Annual Awards Dinner. Bowman received the Athena Leadership Award, which is conferred on “a woman or man who demonstrates professional excellence and who encourages women to achieve their full leadership potential,” the chamber said. In Greek Mythology, Athena was the goddess of intellect, wisdom, craft and war. She was known for her calm temperament and was noted to have only fought for just reasons, and would not fight without a stellar purpose. Bowman has nurtured and professionally supported and endorsed programs for women engaged in local business and community leadership. He publishes Fayetteville’s Women’s View each month while sponsoring and hosting a weekly women’s business networking group called B.U.G.s (Between Us Girls). He also sponsors the quarterly Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch that is held at the Ramada Plaza. In its acknowledgement of Bowman’s commitment, the chamber said, “These three ventures were struggling, unable to maintain and scale the opportunities before them. Today all three woman-focused organizations are thriving.” In his acceptance speech, Bowman acknowledged that his staff is made up of almost exclusively women. 

    2017 Cumberland County Fair

    This year’s Cumberland County Fair will be held Sept 1-10. It begins on Friday before Labor Day and will run for ten days. The theme for this year’s fair is “Country Days - American Ways.” For the first time in many years, fair goers in Fayetteville and the Cape Fear Region will have something to do over the Labor Day weekend by attending the fair. Returning for the second year will be Close Encounters of the Exotic Kind, a lions and tigers show. There will be comedy and magic shows featuring FARMily Feud and a Survivor Family Game Show. The fair will again offer free admission on the opening night of the fair. Other promotions include a $15 one-price admission on Monday through Thursday nights that will permit admission and unlimited carnival rides.  

    More Cold Case Arrests

    The Fayetteville Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit has charged a suspect in two 22-year-old rape investigations. One of the incidents occurred on April 28, 1995 and the other on September 19 of the same year. The subject was arrested in 1995, but he had fled the state and extradition was not approved. Following a recent review of these cases by the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office his extradition was approved. Louis Lane III, 59, of Milwaukee, Wisc. was apprehended in Milwaukee with the assistance of the U.S. Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force. Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputies returned Lane to Cumberland County. He was charged with 1st degree rape, kidnapping, 2nd degree rape, and 2nd degree sex offense. Lane is being held in the Cumberland County Detention Center on an $800,000 secured bond.      

  • 03Cape Fear River NC USAThe water war between three western Wake County towns and Fayetteville is not over.

    Two weeks ago, an administrative judge ruled for Fayetteville and its ally, Wilmington, against Cary, Apex and Morrisville, who were sopping up water at Fayetteville’s expense. 

    The three Wake County towns want more water out of the Cape Fear River Basin, to use it, treat it and put it into the Neuse River Basin. The state’s Environmental Management Commission said they could do it, even if it meant less water heading down the Cape Fear River. Less water downriver could cause problems for Fayetteville and Wilmington.

    Two weeks ago, the judge ruled the Environmental Management Commission’s decision to let the three fast-growing towns yet again dip into the Cape Fear River was based on shoddy decision-making. Last week, the Commission appealed the ruling. So, it’s back to legal squabbles, but no date for the face off as yet.

    Taking water out of the Cape Fear River Basin and putting it back into the Neuse River Basin at the detriment of Fayetteville and other downriver communities is something Cary, Apex and Morrisville have been doing for years.

    November 1989: The state’s Environmental Management Commission gave them permission to take 16 million gallons a day from Jordan Lake, which is in the Cape Fear River Basin.

    July 2001: The EMC issued yet another Inter Basin Transfer Certificate (IBT) allowing Cary, Apex, Morrisville and Wake County to transfer 24 million gallons per day from the Haw River (Cape Fear River Basin) to the Neuse River Basin.

    Cary and Apex also built a $290 million wastewater treatment plant so they could treat water and put it back into the Cape Fear River Basin. But, they determined it was still cheaper to dump it back into the Neuse instead, even though the plant had plenty of capacity to treat more water. Go figure.

    March 2015: The EMC allowed them to amend the 2001 agreement and take 33 million gallons a day from the Haw River, a 38 percent increase. The Haw River feeds into the Cape Fear.

    May 2015: Fayetteville Public Works Commission filed a legal action against the state Department of Environmental Quality and EMC.

    PWC argued that the method they used to determine taking that much water from the Cape Fear River Basin and not putting it back wouldn’t hurt downriver towns was rushed and thus flawed. Also, the commission didn’t follow the rules for holding public hearings about the issue.

    Former State Attorney Roy Cooper’s lawyers represented the EMC and Department of Environmental Quality.

    The state’s lawyers argued that Cary, Apex and Morrisville need the water because they’re growing. That’s an arrogant argument. The state’s environmental gurus and state attorney general’s office obviously believe water to feed the Wake County’s growth is more important than the potential growth for Fayetteville
    and Wilmington.

    February 2017: Judge ruled in favor of Fayetteville, stating that the EMC and its advising agency the Department of Environmental Quality failed to use proper procedures and failed to act according to law.

    The EMC’s legal appeal will prolong this effort by Wake County to feed its need for more water at the detriment of downriver towns. The good news is that the hearing will be held in Cumberland County. 

    Raleigh and Wake County are among the fastest growing economies in the nation, and with that growth comes a desperate thirst for water. Taking water from the Cape Fear River Basin and not returning it is a dangerous precedent that PWC, the City of Fayetteville and its allies downriver cannot ignor if we are
    to prosper.

  • 02AlchemyIt’s the most wonderful time of year — Income Tax Season. Could you use some fast cash to pay Uncle Sam? What if you had a way to turn your old rusty three-speed bike into solid gold? When was the last time you turned lead into gold? Been a while, hasn’t it, Binky? Back in the good old days of the Medieval period, Alchemists were using secret processes to whip out more gold from lead than you could shake a stick at. Unfortunately, over the centuries most of the alchemists’ secrets have been as forgotten as the location of Jimmy Hoffa’s burial plot beneath Giant Stadium.

    So as a public service, we shall stroll down memory lane to learn about alchemy. Through the miracle of crowd sourcing, perhaps we can come up with a way to revive the lost secrets of alchemy. Alchemy will allow us to render unto Caesar what is due to Caesar. We will still have enough cash left over to buy the newest iPhone. Yo, both of you readers! It’s time to put on your Tom Terrific thinking caps. Ponder what we know about alchemy in the hopes we can revive this bigly patch of forgotten scientific lore. Alchemy’s goal is to take something yucky and worthless and make it into something bright and shiny. Sort of like listening to Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer trying to explain The Donald’s latest bizarre actions and tweets.

    According to the gnomes at Wikipedia (not to be confused with Trump’s favorite news source — Wikileaks), alchemy is designed to “purify, mature and perfect certain objects.” Changing lead to gold is alchemy’s most well-known objective. Another goal of alchemy was to create a Medieval version of Red Bull, which would let the drinker live forever. This goal has not yet been achieved. However, the Disney Imagineers in the alchemy department are still diligently pursuing this goal so that Walt can be unfrozen and brought back to life.

    Another alchemy goal was to create a one-stop cure for every disease. The alchemists actually created such a panacea in the 16th Century. Their drink successfully cured all diseases with one swig of Alchemy Brand Granny’s Spring Tonic. Unfortunately, Big Pharma bought the patent to the elixir from Nostradamus in the 1500s. Big Pharma then promptly took Granny’s Spring Tonic off the market. The formula for Granny’s Tonic remains locked in a vault in Atlanta, alongside the secret recipe for KFC’s 11 herbs and spices and the name of the author who wrote the Book of Love.

    A lesser-known goal of alchemy was to create an “alkhest,” a universal solvent. Due to the mists of time, it is unclear what the alchemists were trying to dissolve with their alkhest. Scientists today think having a universal solvent would be a pretty groovy thing and continue to work on a modern alkhest. The only remaining descendants of the Medieval universal solvent are duct tape and the spork, which are now universally recognized as the greatest inventions in the history of man.

    Our Medieval pals also thought alchemy could be used to perfect the human soul from its rough-around-the-edges human frailties into the profound excellence of the character of all billionaires. This process involved the use of the Philosopher’s Stone to be rubbed up against the patient’s psyche by a Shaman trained in the dark arts of personal development. This aspect of alchemy survives today in the form of the self- help books at your local Barnes & Noble, psychiatry, psychology and psychotropic drugs designed to smooth down the quirks of individuality to conform to
    society’s expectations.

    There is a concept known as entropy, which essentially means that there is “an inevitable and steady deterioration of systems or societies.” Cosmologically speaking, entropy will make the universe expand over time until each star system flickers out isolated, alone and dark. Basically, things fall apart over time. Entropy has come to change our old friend alchemy, which used to turn bad stuff into good stuff. Now with reverse alchemy, good stuff turns into bad stuff. For example, consider The Donald’s proposed budget. His budget plan demonstrates reverse alchemy in which he magically turns Meals on Wheels, medical research and after school food programs into bullets and bombs.

    The moral of our story: Don’t get hungry. Don’t get sick. If you do, it’s your own darned fault, loser.

  • “Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself.” Alfred Sheinwold said this; he was an American bridge wizard who helped develop a bidding system for the card game, and he was clearly wise about the human experience. None other than actress Angela Jolie was thinking along similar lines when she said, “If you ask people what they’ve always wanted to do, most people haven’t done it. That breaks my heart.” Then there is this profundity from the psychologist Carl Jung: “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and their children than the unlived life of the parent.”

    I thought about these quotations recently when I happened across one of those ubiquitous lists on the internet entitled the “Top 37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old.” Some resonated more than others, but each struck some chord. 

    Not traveling while you could. Time is as important here as money. Traveling is easier when you are younger and less encumbered, and considerably less pricy without a large family.

    Not learning another language. We Americans hardly ever do this because we do not have to, and it is a mistake.

    Remaining in a terrible relationshipand not quitting an awful occupation.No one ever regrets leaving these situations once he or she has stepped away. Most regret not getting out sooner.

    Neglecting to make physical wellness a need, including disregarding your teeth and not using sunscreen. Your doctor and your spouse have surely mentioned this one, and truth be told, once wellness goes, it is hard to get back.

    Letting yourself be defined by gender roles and letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations. Think about how much generations of men have missed by ceding childrearing to women and likewise what women missed by believing only men should follow career dreams. Happy and successful people define themselves.

    Not understanding how beautiful you were and are. A friend went through some family photographs recently and found one of herself as a young wife and mother. She burst into tears, having believed for decades that she had been fat, plain, and ungainly when she was actually slender and lovely.

    Not trying harder in school.For most of us, formal education occurs over a
    limited time. Not using that time well too often defines the rest of our lives intellectually and economically.

    Not listening to your folks’ advice.This one goes hand in hand with not trying in school. No one is going to love us more or care more about out futures than our families. Their advice is almost always in our best interests.

     Not investing enough energy into friends and family and not playing with your children enough. Our families and friends are the people who will walk through life with us, and nurturing those relationships enriches our lives in ways nothing else does. These are our longest lasting relationships and the ones that sustain us over time.

    Holding grudges,especially with those you love. See above.

    Thinking a lot about what other people think and refusing to let friendships run their course.Others do have opinions of us, but what we think of ourselves counts more. People come and go in our lives, so the only person who will take every step with us is us. Life will be more satisfying if we learn to love and respect ourselves and to enjoy our own company.

    Not volunteering enough. Volunteering is easier at some times of life than others, but nothing feels better than knowing we have improved the lives of others. Conversely, little feels worse than knowing we did not.

    Not stopping enough to appreciate the momentand not being grateful sooner.Life can be so full and busy that we forget to “live in the moment,” but it can be wonderful when we do. Gratitude seems a quality we gain with age, and the older I get, the happier I am to be here and to enjoy travel and those I love.

    So back to Sheinwold’s admonition to learn from the mistakes of others since we will not have time to make them all ourselves. Remember, too, that old saying that at the end of life, most of us regret not what we did, but what we did not do.

    I am trying hard and crossing my fingers not to feel that way when the time arrives.

  • 21ScholarDenise BrownDenise Brown

    Jack Britt



    Brown is in the top 15 percent of her class with a 4.08 grade point average. She was chosen to the all-conference bowling team last fall.









    22ScholarDeAndreDe’Andre Swinson

    South View



    Swinson placed second in the state in his weight class in the recent individual wrestling championships, finishing 44-4 this season. He posted a 3.5 grade point average.

  • 20FootballBill sochovkaAfter a variety of changes in format and location, the annual Cumberland County Football Jamboree will return to its roots this fall.

    Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the county schools, announced recently that the jamboree is headed back to high school fields, scheduled for a two-day run on Aug. 9-10 at Cape Fear High School and South View High School.

    The field will include 24 schools, a number of them from outside the Cape Fear region. Recent jamborees have been held at Fayetteville State with a field half the size of this year’s

    Aldridge has set an ambitious goal for the event, hoping to grow it into a major showcase for football in Cumberland County that will also help bring in money for the schools.

    “I was part of the original group that put on the first jamboree,’’ Aldridge said. “The last few years we were matching up county teams against one another. One of the things I got from the coaches was they wanted to scrimmage people they didn’t get an opportunity to scrimmage.’’

    Aldridge cast a wide net, sending an e-mail to every high school athletic director in the state. Response was overwhelming and he wound up having to turn schools away. He opted to go with 24 teams and the two-day format.

    The next step will be getting community support. “We’re looking for the business community to jump on board and help sponsor it,’’ Aldridge said. “We’d like to get to the point where we offer a $500 scholarship to each of the 24 schools. We’ll need the support of the business community to do that.’’

    Aldridge is working with a committee he created that includes football coaches, athletic directors and retired Pine Forest High School principal Cindy McCormic. He’s made no promises, but he’s working toward the goal of seeing the scholarship dream become a reality at this year’s jamboree.

    Coaches Jake Thomas of Cape Fear and Bill Sochovka of Pine Forest are both pleased with the direction Aldridge is trying to take the jamboree.

    “Having more out of county teams to come in I think will bring in more people,’’ Thomas said. “It will also help our teams to have more pride now that it’s Cumberland County vs. out of county teams.’’

    While the purpose of scrimmages for coaches is to help put a team together, Sochovka said they’ve also got to appreciate the need for the public to get a look at the teams.

    “It’s important to have that showcase,’’ Sochovka said. “We all need to understand that’s the main goal. There’s more to football than X’s and O’s. Vernon has a good plan in place and we have to embrace it.’’

    Here is the schedule for this year’s jamboree. There will be two scrimmages in progress during each session, with a pair of teams competing on either half of the field:

    Aug. 9, at Cape Fear

    6:30 p.m. – East Columbus vs. Farmville Central; Pfafftown Reagan vs. Overhills

    7:30 p.m. – Triton vs. E.E. Smith; Union Pines vs. Douglas Byrd

    8:30 p.m. – Richmond Senior vs. Cape Fear, West Johnston vs. Terry Sanford

    Aug. 10, at South View

    6:30 p.m. – Hoke County vs. Gray’s Creek, East Montgomery vs. Westover

    7:30 p.m. – Northern Nash vs. Pine Forest, Eastern Wayne vs. Jack Britt

    8:30 p.m. – Lee County vs. South View, Southeast Raleigh vs. Seventy-First.

  • 19HSBasketballThere’s a feeling of nervous anticipation for Cape Fear High School athletic director Matt McLean, like the coach who’s a little surprised to find his team holding a narrow lead headed into the fourth quarter of a game.

    The reason for McLean’s excitement is the Wells Fargo Cup points standings for the Mid-South 4-A Conference entering the spring sports season. The cup is awarded to the conference school with the best overall athletic program, based on points awarded for order of finish in all official conference sports.

    Cape Fear, which has closely pursued Jack Britt for the award the last two years, is ahead of the Buccaneers 66-61.5 entering the final months of the school year.

    Spring is traditionally a strong season for Cape Fear, with the softball and baseball teams leading the charge. But McLean is taking nothing for granted.

    “We’ve made a point since I’ve been here to push kids to participate in multiple sports,’’ McLean said. “A lot of our football players were involved in wrestling and basketball. That helped our winter sports.’’

    Cape Fear won an East Regional title in wrestling and the boys’ basketball team won the Holiday Classic basketball tournament for the first time in school history.

    But it was in the fall Cape Fear showed its biggest jump, led by the football team’s run to the state 4-A championship game. “We scored 41 points this fall,’’ McLean said. “Volleyball, soccer, football and cross country all earned more points than in the past. Those were big jumps for us.’’

    McLean’s goal for the end of the season is for Cape Fear to score at least 100 points in the Wells Fargo chase. That would be seven points up from the school’s previous high. “If we get to 100, we could live with that, whatever place it puts us in,’’ he said.

    Some of the school’s better athletes think the drive to succeed in all sports has helped increase both participation and enthusiasm.

    Chris Matthews, one of the stars of the football team, wrestled in the winter and now is competing for the tennis team. “You see somebody is successful and you’ve got more of an urge to join that organization,’’ Matthews said. “The future possibility of success has led to more people joining the team.’’

    Madeline Shook is a champion swimmer for the Colts who also ran cross country and is on the girls’ soccer team this spring.

    “I think coaching has improved,’’ she said. “There have been some new coaches come in and carry things along. A lot of the coaches stress playing different sports because it helps in different areas.’’

    “Even at the 4-A level, you need your best athletes participating in more than one sport,’’ McLean said.

    The focus for all the teams is to finish the spring strong. Shook said the keys to doing that are simple. “Keep a good attitude and be motivated,’’ she said.

  • 18WannaPlayOk. Confession.

    I used to hate Christian music. 

    Well, not hate... more like get sick of/bored with/tired of exponentially quickly. That’s hard to say for someone who now works in Christian Radio (and loves her job, by the way). 

    Christian music has typically been 5-7 years behind what’s currently trending on pop stations around the country. I just could not get past the fact that everything sounded the same. Every song was like the one before it, and I knew as soon as I heard one single note, even without hearing any lyrics, that it was a Christian song. They had a certain “sheen” to them. As someone who loved Jesus and music, this bothered me, so much so that I wouldn’t listen to a Christian radio station throughout my college years.

    However, in the last decade, Christian musicians have upped the ante, and dare I say Christian radio programmers. Don’t get me wrong – there have always been artists who have “pushed the envelope” - believe it or not, there was a time when Christian radio stations thought bands like Third Day were “too aggressive.” Crazy, right? We’ve come a long way, to say the least.

    I’m proud to be a part of an industry that isn’t striving to “keep up with the Jones’s,” but rather seeks to remain relevant – and is actually doing a pretty good job at it. Hey, its made me a convert. I love it. It’s family-friendly, relevant-sounding and Jesus-honoring – a triple whammy.

    I like to play this game I made up with folks who don’t particularly like Christian music. It doesn’t really have a name. I can’t come up with anything shorter than “What-Christian-Artist/Band-Sounds-Like-Your-Favorite-Artist/Band?” - it doesn’t really roll off the tongue, so I don’t think it will catch on, but I digress...

    Think you don’t like Christian music? Think you won’t like our station? Willing to try it out?

    Let’s play “What-Christian-Artist/Band-Sounds-Like-Your-Favorite-Artist/Band?” 

    Like Coldplay? Try Bryan and Katie Torwalt.

    Like Tupac? Try Lecrae.

    Like John Cougar Melancamp? Try John Tibbs.

    Like Michael Buble? Like Ed Sheeran? Wonder what they’d sound like together? Try David Dunn.

    Like Tori Kelly? Try Hollyn.

    Like Beyonce? Try Blanca.

    Like Mumford & Sons? Try Carrollton. 

    Like Paramore? Try Veridia.

    Like Chain Smokers? Try Joshua Micah.

    Like The Script? Try Unspoken.

    Like Maroon 5? Try Lincoln Brewster.

    Like Adele? Try Lauren Daigle.

    Like country music? Try Hillary Scott (from Lady Antebellum) or Micah Tyler.

    Like Switchfoot? Try Switchfoot. (That was just for giggles.)

    Now I’m not saying you will get a carbon copy of your favorite band – that would totally negate the first point I was trying to make here, that Christian music is able to contend with mainstream music in its originality and musical authenticity. However, the list goes on and on. The beauty of a Christian radio station is there’s something for everyone. Try Christian 107.3. You just might discover a new favorite. 

  • Everybody can pack up their stuff and go home. Comic book movies have officially peaked with Logan (137 minutes). This one is the benchmark, the film all other comic books are going to be measured by for years to come. Finally, a Wolverine movie that doesn’t suck out loud. I managed to avoid crying, though I admit I had to work for it. 

    17LoganSo, thank you Deadpool, for demonstrating that R rated comic book movies are box office gold. Thank you, James Mangold — the second Wolverine movie sucked only slightly less than the first Wolverine movie, but I realize you had to practice with Wolverine before you could make him awesome. Thank you, Hugh Jackman, because after 17 years with the character you went out on a high note (not that I believe you’re never going to play Wolverine again). Thank you, classically trained Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart for never thinking you were too good for the X-Men when you were so clearly born to play the role of Professor X. Thank you Simon Kinberg, for wiping X-Men: The Last Stand out of the continuity in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

    There is only one glaring flaw, and I admit I loved Logan so much I didn’t see it. I like to think I would have eventually realized it when I sat down to write the review, but my husband got there first. Spoiler, by the way. Seriously. I mean it — this might ruin your enjoyment of the film. I am drawing this out, because I read so fast that I usually read the spoiler that follows the spoiler alert even when I don’t want to. Here it is. X-23 (Dafne Keen) is a clone of Logan, created by The Essex Corporation (Mr. Sinister!) using the sample of Wolverine’s blood obtained in the post-credits sequence of Age of Apocalypse. My husband proposed that, since her skeleton was coated with adamantium, when she hit her next growth spurt she was going to be an immovable force fighting against the adamantium’s unbreakable object. My theory? The scientists in charge left most of her skeleton free of the metal so she can still grow (as was explained in the source material), but since her hands and feet are both coated (areas of the body dense with joints), her continued growth is problematic. See kids — there is no comic book movie so realistically grounded that science can’t ruin. Science!

    If you skipped ahead once you read the Spoiler Alert, you might want to put the review down now. I can afford to burn words identifying minor plot holes because I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot — sometime it doesn’t matter, but watching Logan will be a purer, more visceral experience if you don’t know what you’re in for. If you’re already spoiled —  then you know Professor X isn’t doing so well. And when the most powerful mutant mind on the planet develops a brain disorder what do you do with him? Logan locks him up in a collapsed water tower and medicates the snot out of him. How is that not textbook elder abuse?

    This is crucial. I have been reading comics since I was six (my first comic was Uncanny X-Men 233) and studying sociology for the last 24 years or so, and it never occurred to me to ask what you do with mutants suffering from degenerative diseases that affect their ability to control their powers. Alzheimer’s, for instance, is not a mere fading away into past memories. It involves periods of rage. And we know in both the comics and film franchise, Professor X has more than a little bit of repressed anger, in addition to being a world class jerk at least 70 percent of the time. Hint: physical restraints and medication don’t offer a long-term solution to the problem, and every time Wolver-George and Professor Lenny got started on that boat they plan to buy I had visions of Charles Xavier going to that rabbit farm.

    By and large, the X-Universe is a brilliant place to hang out these days. Logan was frankly amazing, and Legion manages to consistently surpass the MCU television tie-ins (Yes. Even AKA Jessica Jones). I can’t wait for X-Men to tackle the Dark Phoenix saga again.

    Now playing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.

  • 15HarlemThe Harlem Globetrotters will perform Monday, March 27, at 7 p.m. at the Crown Coliseum. 

    Orlando El Gato Melendez and I had a conversation about their upcoming performance and life as a Globetrotter. 

    How does it feel to be the first Puerto Rican player for the Harlem Globetrotters? 

    It is something amazing. It is crazy because the first time I saw the Globetrotters was on Scooby Doo Saturday mornings. To go from there to growing up and watching basketball and becoming a Globetrotter is out of this world. Now I am going beyond just being the first Puerto Rican player, and I am representing all of the Hispanics and Latinos around the world. We are the best basketball team in the world, so for me, it is a privilege and honor to represent not just Puerto Rico but all Hispanics the right way and in a positive manner. 

    What is the process to become a Harlem Globetrotter?

    First, there is a recruiting process that a lot of other guys have gone through. In my case, I got recommended by a professional coach that I knew when I was playing professional basketball in Puerto Rico. We bumped into each other, and he asked me did I want to be a Globetrotter, and I said yes. I got the call to go to the tryouts and also had a complete full job interview. The guys interviewing you are former Globetrotters who are legends. They know everything about you and want to make sure you are a good person. 

    What should we expect when the Globetrotters come to the Crown March 27?

    We have been going for 91 years now, so you will see some of the old stuff which is stuff we remember when we were kids. We are going to bring young people to dance on the court. It is always fun to bring all of the family to a Globetrotters game. 

    What are some of the things that the Globetrotters do for children?       

    The best thing about being a Globetrotter is that lots of people do not know what we do outside of the court. We visit schools and hospitals around the nation and outside of the U.S. We have a program called the “ABCs of Bullying Prevention,” and we talk to kids in schools about how to deal with bullying in school, outside of school and social media. We have another program called “Smile Patrol,” and we visit different hospitals to give the kids smiles, our tricks, and jokes because they cannot attend the games. We love it! 

    Tell me one thing about yourself that people would be surprised to know.

    When I’m not playing basketball, I am an interior designer and DJ. These are things I always wanted to do when I was a kid. I always liked to draw and design things. I was always playing with Legos and building different things. The music part was always there for me because my grandpa had a nice collection of records. 

    For more information about the Globetrotters visit www.harlemglobetrotters.com. 

     For ticket information call 438-4100. 

  • 001COVERShaw Heights is a hot topic right now. There is legislation pending in Raleigh calling for its annexation. But is it the right thing to do for the city? For the citizens and landowners of Shaw Heights? Sharon Valentine and Jason Brady weigh in.

    I got a text the other day from someone I consider a “tuned in” citizen. Part of the text read like this: “… Danger! Shaw Heights sh#t storm on the horizon.”

    He was referring to the proposal by local legislators that Fayetteville annex the Shaw Heights and Julie Heights subdivisions.

    He is right. The mere mention of annexation or proposing the forced taking of land and making it part of Fayetteville is like rubbing salt on road rash. In this case, it’s akin to ripping off a scab and dousing it with rubbing alcohol. Ouch! Let it heal.

    For those new to the community or lived in a cave for the past decade, here’s the simplified back story on the complex issue of annexation.  From 1960 through 1983 Fayetteville could not annex “citified” areas into the city like other North Carolina towns. Local lawmakers and volunteer fire chiefs got the General Assembly to exempt Cumberland County towns from the 1959 statewide annexation law. That law said, “… what is urban should be municipal.” It allowed towns to annex without giving the people being annexed a say in the matter.

    So, Fayetteville lobbied the General Assembly to change the annexation exemption for Cumberland County. Even the daily newspaper’s editorial staff got on the bandwagon. Their persistence paid off, and the General Assembly, in 1983, gave Cumberland County towns authority to annex under the statewide law. At first, Fayetteville nibbled away at smaller annexations. From 1984 to 1988, Fayetteville annexed adjacent urban pockets, comprising 3,000 to 6,000 people.But the pendulum took an extreme swing the other way. The result: the Big Bang annexation of 2005. It scarfed up 27 square miles, 42,000 residents, and dragged them into the city.

    The pushback was huge. Court battles between Fayetteville and anti-annexation groups ensued. But only the more affluent Gates Four Country Club prevailed. Lawyers for both sides are still getting billable hours. The Big Bang ended political careers. And in 2011, the General Assembly said no more forced annexations in North Carolina, unless people living in those areas want to be annexed. So, it was a surprise that Rep. Elmer Floyd filed House Bill 109, which according to the General Assembly website says is “an act adding certain described property to the corporate limits of the City of Fayetteville.”

    If the Fayetteville City Council agrees, annexation would happen in 2018. But like the Shaw Heights and Julie Heights community, the City Council is divided. Council members are scheduled to go on the record on where they stand this Wednesday, March 22. The area comprises 630.89 acres of dilapidated houses and trailers speckled with some nicer, well-kept homes. Most of the houses were built right after World War II and during the Vietnam War. A 2008 county land use plan refers to the area as “showing age and decline.”

    Murchison Road borders the area on the east, Bragg Boulevard on the west, and Fort Bragg and the recently completed leg of I-295 on the north. To the south is Fayetteville. Some ask why it was left out of the 2005 Big Bang annexation? Some claim Fayetteville excluded Shaw Heights because the area wasn’t worth it. In other words, it would cost more to provide services than the area could produce in taxes. Former city manager Roger Stancil said the city did not annex Shaw Heights because the county could get water and sewer to the area through a grant from the Rural N.C. Center if the area was not annexed. It never happened.

    So, why annex now? Floyd, Fayetteville’s former Human Relations director, recently told a gathering of citizens that the 1,300 residents deserve enhanced services. Councilman Kirk DeViere says the area needs to be developed to city standards. The I-295 interchanges will make the area ripe for commercial development. Others say it’s a chance for the city to establish an attractive gateway for traffic coming off I-295. Still others see a less honorable motive. A few Republicans question whether the sudden interest in Shaw Heights and Julie Heights might be about adding more registered Democrats to the city voter rolls.

    Floyd, a Democrat, sponsored the bill. Fellow Democrats Reps. Billy Richardson and Marvin Lucas co-sponsored the bill. On the Senate side, Sen. Ben Clark, also a Democrat, filed the Senate’s version of the bill. Political watchers point to the past two mayoral non-partisan elections, Mayor Nat Robertson, a Republican, won his first election in 2013 over Democrat Val Applewhite by only 250 votes. In 2015, he won by about 673 votes. Adding another 500 registered Democrats could affect future city elections. Finally, some among those annexed in 2005 fear that the Shaw Heights annexation will affect the schedule and available money for getting PWC water and sewer.

    Mayor Robertson’s opposition centers on economics. He says the area consists of people who least can afford the taxes and fees that come with annexation. He says the services the area needs are available through the county. It’s the county that has failed those neighborhoods. Councilman Bill Crisp agrees. He objects to forced annexation, period. Crisp was among those who fought the City in court over the 2005 annexation before becoming a member of City Council.

    According to Robertson, the city projects the area will provide roughly $200,000 in annual revenues. The county’s projection is even less. But PWC’s cost to put water and sewer in the area will be $7 to $10 million. “The area has issues, but why does the city have to come to the rescue?” Robertson asked. Councilman Ted Mohn thinks he has a solution. It’s called extra territorial jurisdiction. It’s where the city has jurisdiction for law enforcement and development standards.

    In an email to fellow council members and city management, Mohn said the ETJ would protect the money for the Big Bang sewer construction. Also, ETJ would let the city provide incremental city services as budgets allow. The ETJ would start on July 1 and total annexation would happen in 2020. So far, “mums the word” on his proposal, Mohn said.

    — Jason Brady

    There is an adage: “everyone has a lobbyist except the poor.” And that theory will have been proven out with the fate of Shaw Heights and the decision of City Council to proceed with annexation. This painful reminder of political expediency and discrimination will test our political conscience and shine a light on the mayor and the council on what is more important — political careers or the common good.

    There should be no argument on moving ahead with the annexation because Shaw Height presents Fayetteville with a tremendous opportunity.  As we hurtle toward the development opportunities provided by the I-295 Loop at the Murchison Road exchange, Shaw Heights is Fayetteville’s new “Gateway.” Traffic patterns will direct visitors from I-95 and Spring Lake onto Murchison and into

    the Downtown with the baseball stadium, the museums and local attractions.  And as a lightly-populated rental area with open tracts of land, the economic forces could not be more aligned to solve problems associated with poverty and pivot to Fayetteville’s “new 2026 image.”

    But maybe not! It appears that neither the city or the county have moved since the 2008 county plan to update and plan for the growth that has been

    indicated on the maps since the initial approval of the loop. And let’s be honest, the attraction of private investment and its interest in the Shaw Heights potential is accelerating the need for the zoning, permitting and incentives that are imperative to good economic development and positive growth.

    Why has there not been ongoing discussions and planning over the past 10 years rather than the county and city in a “stare down” on who will take responsibility for convening the debates on the Shaw Height suburbs, particularly when it is a “win-win” for both the city and the county?

    While rumors of a commercial hotel being built and local developers looking at the numerous ways “to make a buck,” PWC is brooding over the size of sewer line pipes that would serve the present neighborhood rather than addressing a plan that would promote commercial development. And the road improvements on Shaw Mill Road in the NC Transportation Plan and the wetland area that would have to be addressed in zoning action are still a footnote. Where are our local boards and commissions that meet on a regular basis to look at issues that impact “good growth?”

    Certainly, cost is a huge consideration as well as the bonds that would have to finance certain municipal improvements. But it is time to begin to poke our heads out of our respective silos and see who is out there.  Developers will certainly have to pay part of the “freight” like sewer line hookups, compliance with the UDO, etc. if Shaw Heights is, in fact, part of Fayetteville.

    But isn’t this area part of the acreage being considered by the council for our large sports complex: soccer fields, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, a competitive swimming pool—all the things that attract teams and competition from around the state. And have we not already approved bonds to fund this complex in the recent Parks and Recreation Initiative?

    The bottom line is still that the least among us deserve acceptance and assistance as part of the total community, and turning our backs one more time (whatever the rationalization) is unacceptable.

    Is Fayetteville ready to be the community envisioned in the 2026 initiative?  If our elected officials cannot step up to the plate of annexation, then it is time to recruit a new team.  Fayetteville is losing two top talents of the council—Ted Mohn and Bobby Hurst.  And our “wise man” Bill Crisp is silent on his plans on running.  

    The deadline then falls on us — the residents, the taxpayers and the local supporters to find a mayor that puts purpose ahead of politics and a Council

    that serves in the “interest of the common good.” 

    — Sharon Valentine

  • 13AllAmericamOn March 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the USO of North Carolina, Fort Bragg Center and the Downtown Alliance will host a fundraiser called the All-American Fayetteville Challenge to support their work assisting the local military members and their families. “There is a reason we do fundraising. We saw 135,000 service members and their families at two of our three centers last year. It takes a lot of resources to operate at this high level. We fundraise to keep our doors open and to continue operating at the high level that our military members expect,” Renee Lane the Sandhills Region Director of the USO of North Carolina said. 

    The All-American Fayetteville Challenge is essentially a giant scavenger hunt for teams of two. “It is a cross between the Amazing Race and a scavenger hunt. We are always looking for new ways to engage the public to support local military members. The USO of North Carolina is this conduit in the state and locally,” Lane said.

    Firstly, teams check in at Festival Park, which is where the last standing USO building was in Fayetteville. Then teams use a smartphone to access a webpage that guides them through the scavenger hunt. The hunt features landmarks and businesses in Downtown Fayetteville. At each key location downtown, the teams must complete a challenge and collect challenge tokens. Points will be tallied to complete the challenge and determine the winning teams. Winners will be announced at a light lunch at the Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum. The teams with the highest point tally win. First-, second- and third-place teams will receive gift baskets. 

    A fully-charged smartphone is a vital part of this adventure. It will allow participants to access the website connected to the event. This website details the key locations where challenges must be completed as well as restrooms and supporting businesses that can be visited to collect extra points. The website will also keep a digital tally of points that participants collect along the way. 

    Tickets to participate are $30 and can be purchased at 

    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/all-american-fayetteville-challenge-tickets-31423765328. Teams must be made up of two persons, and there is a limit of 100 teams. Tickets also include swag bags filled with items from various downtown businesses and sponsors. These bags will be collected at the initial check in and can also be used to collect items during the scavenger hunt. 

    Another fun way to explore the city is the All-American Historic Tours. The Downtown Alliance has partnered with S and S Carriage Rides to provide historic tours by horse-drawn carriage every month from March to November. Normally these historic tours are on the second Saturday, but this month, they have been moved to March 25 from 1 to 4 p.m. to help the city celebrate the All-American Weekend. 

    The 45-minute tours focus on Fayetteville’s early Colonial and Revolutionary War-era history. “The tours visit sites as early as Cool Springs Tavern, which was built in 1788. It is the oldest man-made structure in Fayetteville. They also see Liberty Point, which is where 55 patriots signed the Liberty Point Resolves and pledged their lives and fortunes to American independence. This happened a year before the Declaration of Independence,” said Hank Parfitt, an event organizer with the Downtown Alliance. 

    The departure point for the historical tours is 222 Hay St. Tickets are $25 per person, $20 with military ID and $15 for children under 12. For more information or to reserve tickets visit www.visitdowntownfayetteville.com or call (910)222-3382. Carriages can accommodate 10 to 12 people, and there will be four tours from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

  • 12GardenThis spring has been unusually fast in coming, which has caused gardeners to both wiggle their toes in anticipation and clutch their hearts for fear of a devastating freeze. 

    If this describes you, then you are most likely a deep-rooted lover of growing things and should attend the Master Gardener Spring Symposium 2017, organized by the Cumberland County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association. The event will be held Saturday, March 25, at the Cumberland County Agriculture Extension Center.

    The CCMGVA is made up of people who are truly passionate about gardening. Judy Dewar has been a volunteer with the organization for 13 years. She is currently the “chair, table and leg” for the Spring Symposium. She said she fell in love with gardening “100 years ago” in the backyard with her Dad – where he only let her do the weeding. 

    Sandra Williams, registrar for the Symposium, shared what she loves about CCMGVA: “I relish the knowledge of those that have been in the volunteer program for years … It is great to share our common (love) of making things grow successfully with our community.”

    Dewar, Williams and everyone involved in organizing the Symposium have selected speakers who share this genuine passion and have unique expertise and skills to share. Roger Mercer, Mike McGrath and Bryce Lane will speak, and Brienne Arthur will be present for a book signing.  

    Like Dewar, local guru Roger Mercer traces his love of gardening back to early experiences with his Dad. “We created beautiful gardens wherever we moved, and we lived in about 17 houses before I got out of high school,” he said. At the Symposium, Mercer will offer his extensive knowledge on day lilies and camellias as well as general gardening knowledge, using the Garden of Eden as his theme. “It’s about love. Gardens are a way of loving each other through shared experiences of natural beauty. We all carry our image of the Garden of Eden. It’s a place of peace, beauty and tranquility to be in … I think that’s why (it’s) such a powerful metaphor.” 

    Mercer cares for 6.5 acres and grows about a quarter of a million plants each year, including 2,000 of the best plants to grow specifically in the Cape Fear region. He is here for the community in his daily life, not just as a speaker at large events. He welcomes those who are interested in seeing his property to give him a call and set up a time to visit. “It’s kind of one of my mission in life to help people have prettier gardens,” he said. He means it.

    Organic gardening expert Mike McGrath will travel to Fayetteville from Philadelphia, where he hosts the nationally syndicated public radio show You Bet Your Garden. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Organic Gardening magazine, as well as the author of books on tomatoes, composts, seed collecting and kitchen gardening. He currently serves as the garden editor for WTOP News Radio in Washington, D.C., a position he has held for more than a decade. From 1993 to 1997, he appeared monthly as the garden expert for the Saturday morning edition of NBC’s The Today Show. McGrath will speak twice at the Symposium, with talks titled Everything You Know About Compost Is Wrong and Gardening on the Edge.

    Horticulturist Bryce Lane hosts and produces “In the Garden With Bryce Lane” on UNCTV, and has won two mid-south Emmy Awards for that work. With 30 years of teaching experience and numerous local, regional and national teaching awards under his belt, he is also a professor emeritus at NC State, and teaches courses for various organizations like the Raulston Arboretum. He has worked with CCMGVA for over 30 years of the 36 years he’s lived in North Carolina. “Gardeners are the happiest, friendliest people I know … I am a teacher at heart and therefore seek out opportunities to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for horticulture,” he said. 

    Brienne Arthur will be present for a book signing of her new book, “The Food Scape Revolution,” which describes how to create a beautiful, edible garden dispersed amongst your poppies and roses.

    This is the third year that members of CCMGVA have orchestrated a Spring Symposium, which is made possible by the Fayetteville PWC and 15 other generous community sponsors. Registration for the full day costs $50. Garden-related vendors and special garden interest groups will be available for browsing throughout the day. Attendees can also take a guided tour of the Master Gardener’s Demo Garden between sessions. The event is almost sold out! Register online at https://form.jotform.com/Mastergardener1/registration2017. 

  • 11BiblicallyAt Carolina College of Biblical Studies, we exist to disciple Christ-followers, through biblical higher education, for effective servant leadership. The question is often asked, “What’s that look like?” Recently, I sat down with graduate William Wallace to see how CCBS affected his life and find out what he’s doing since graduation. 

    Korver:Welcome William. How did you find out about CCBS?

    Wallace: I attend New Life Bible Church, and I found out my pastor went here in the 70s. I had been going to the church about five or six years... I liked the way he taught and it just always was kind of in the back of my mind. He taught the Bible very, very well; he was very confident in the way that he taught. Finally, I engaged him in conversation. He told me where he went to school and that’s what started it. One day I dropped by and enrolled in a “How to Study the Bible” class.

    Korver:You’re a veteran? Which branch of service and how many years?

    Wallace:I spent 25 years and 8 months in the United States Army. I came in 1990. I started off at Fort Bliss as a private, and I retired at Fort Bragg on Jan. 31 of this past year.

    Korver: From the time you enrolled at CCBS until you graduated, how long were you here?

    Wallace: It was almost five years … it was a little over four. It was, I guess, about the traditional amount of time, but it was kind of a tough mix in between doing CCBS and work.

    Korver: So, you were managing a full-time job — a career — and being almost a full-time student?

    Wallace: Early on, it started where I could only do classes in the evening, so I would do one or two classes. But as I got a little more comfortable and my job got a little bit more comfortable with allowing me time off, I started to do a few more classes in the evening. I was getting ready to retire, so the workload was beginning to decrease a little, so they began to give me a little bit of time off in the morning so I could do one class in the morning.

    Korver: Now I’m asking a hard question here — out of all the 60 or so classes you had at CCBS, which one affected you the most and how so?

    Wallace: Not a hard question... homiletics.

    Korver: Homiletics is…?

    Wallace: The study of how to preach. That was what I believe my calling was. That’s kind of what I wanted to do and once I took the first class, I knew it. I liked the structure of the class. I liked the blending of hermeneutics... the way the class was delivered was great. That was, by far, the most influential for me.

    Korver: And they affected you in the sense that you were better able to craft and deliver a sermon?

    Wallace: Absolutely. Before then [I was] just kind of self-taught... a lot of books had been read. But the ability to have some structure applied, timing, research methods. It helped a lot. It appealed to my military side, too, because the way the course was delivered was very structured.

    Korver: Since you graduated, how has God used what you learned here in the classroom in your ministry at the church or on Fort Bragg at your job?

    Wallace: Well at New Life Bible Church I’ve gotten the chance to assume some more responsibilities — I teach a New Life Bible Institute class. I teach a few more Bible study classes. It’s made me more confident. I would almost say it’s strengthened my relationship with Christ. It just gave me a confidence in God’s word — that it is in fact true, and it does in fact work. Because I believe our life is completely filled, and should be completely governed by Christ, it has helped me at work. It has given me more confidence at work. It has helped tremendously.

    Korver:Outstanding. Now you know this, higher education is not free. When you were a student here, how did your tuition get paid?

    Wallace:It was a mixture for me. The military was allowing soldiers to transfer their G.I. Bill to family members. I had done that already before I even started here. So, it was a mixture of tuition assistance and out-of-pocket. If I had to give it a percentage, about 40 percent of my complete time here was tuition assistance and the rest out-of-pocket.

    Korver: If you had to do it all over again, would you?

    Wallace: For me, Dr. Korver, I would probably stay on the same track. I don’t know if I was spiritually mature enough [before] to really have the “sticktoitiveness” that I had at the point when I started. I think for me, that point in time was great. I was active in a local church, I was at a different place financially in my life, spiritual maturity was strong. So, I think for me it was a good mix of time.

    Korver: Well, we’re really proud of you. Thanks for taking time to be with us today. God’s blessings to you. 

  • 09Fugitive Patrick GatsonPatrick Earl Gatson, 32, robbed a woman a month after he was released from prison in mid-February, said Fayetteville Police Lt. Todd Joyce. “He knocked her to the ground and snatched the woman’s purse,” Joyce said. Gatson was being sought by authorities for that robbery the night he was shot and killed by police. Joyce said the woman’s purse was found in a trash can at his apartment. Members of the FPD’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Team went to Gatson’s home to arrest him for the robbery, said Interim Police Chief Anthony Kelly. He lived at a horseshoe-shaped apartment complex of three buildings on North Street. Gatson holed up in his apartment and told police he wasn’t going back to prison, officials said, and repeatedly threatened to kill any officer who approached him. 

    Kelly said Gatson was shot following an eight-hour standoff, “when the situation presented itself.” A special tactics officer had positioned himself in the attic of the apartment. He came down from the attic and found the fugitive in a closet of a bedroom. Kelly said the officer turned and ducked out of the way when he spotted the subject holding a rifle. Early reports were that Gatson chased the officer from the bedroom but did not fire at him. Kelly said two officers used “nonlethal weapons,” and a third fired his gun when the subject pointed the rifle at them. 

    However, the chief could not precisely describe the sequence of events, nor could he say which of the officers fired the fatal bullet. The SBI continues to interview the officers involved and view video footage of the body cameras worn by the 60 policemen on the scene, the chief said. An internal affairs investigation is being conducted in addition to the SBI probe. That is standard procedure in officer-involved incidents.

    The officers placed on administrative duty are Joseph Delpizzo, 44, Shawn Collins, 42 and Aaron Hunt, 28. Kelly said Delpizzo and Collins are 19-year veterans of the force. Hunt has been with the department for seven years. Police crisis negotiators and family members pleaded with Gatson repeatedly over the course of the eight-hour standoff. “We did everything in our power to end this peacefully,” said Capt. Darry Whitaker, one of the crisis negotiators.

    Residents of the apartment complex at the corner of North and Drake Streets were evacuated soon after the drama unfolded. T.C. Berrien Elementary School, which is next to the apartments, was locked down until school was dismissed about 2:30 p.m. Kelly said officers were careful not to take any aggressive action while school was in session. Residents returning home from work late in the afternoon could not enter the cordoned off area. A van arrived on the scene so residents and their children could get out of the cold. Police had hamburgers and fries brought to them from a fast food restaurant.

    Chief Kelly opened the news briefing last week saying he is praying for all those involved in “this unfortunate incident.”       

  • 08RapeClosureFayetteville Police have cleared an 11-year-old cold case. Nearly two dozen dated rape cases have been cleared by the Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit of the FPD’s Special Victims Bureau, said Lt. John Somerindyke. The department filed charges last week against a double murderer who’s serving a life sentence in state prison. Keith Devon Manuel, 40, is accused of raping the victim at her home near South Reilly and Cliffdale Roads on August 26, 2006. 

    “Manuel broke into the residence while the victim was inside,” said police spokesman Lt. Todd Joyce. Additional forensic testing not available at the time of the crime resulted in charges being filed. Manuel is charged with 1st-degree rape, 1st-degree sex offense, 1st-degree kidnapping and 1st-degree burglary. “Manuel was already in custody before these charges were taken out and is currently serving a life sentence in prison for the murder of Jessica Morgan and the murder of Alfreda S. Jones,” added Joyce. The double homicide occurred in the county and was investigated by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

    “There are about 200 cases … reported between 1984 and 1999 that are still unresolved,” said  Somerindyke. He made that statement in the fall of 2015 and said they had “taken out warrants in 21 cold rape cases” since then. The unit began operating in early 2015. The department received a $363,000 federal grant two years ago to turn up the heat on accused rapists.           

  • 07FtBraggBusinessFairFort Bragg will host an Acquisition Forecast Open House Wednesday, March 28, at the Cumberland Hall Auditorium on the campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College. It will be held from 8 a.m. until noon. Fort Bragg contracting officers and staff will present and discuss their anticipated procurement needs and contracts for the remainder of federal fiscal year 2017, which ends Sept. 30. Additionally, the district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration and representatives of the General Services Administration will be on hand to provide program updates for attending business people. 

    “Any business that wants to do work for Fort Bragg or other bases should attend this event,” said Scott Dorney, executive director of the North Carolina Military Business Center. “This acquisition forecast provides a unique opportunity for business representatives to speak directly with contracting officials about upcoming projects, as well as the products and services that their businesses can provide to military installations in our state,” Dorney added. The event is free, but pre-registration is required. Because of seating restrictions, admission will be limited to the first 275 registrants to sign up. Two attendees per company may take part. Information and official online registration are available on the business center website: http://www.ncmbc.us/micc-fort-bragg-acquisition-forecast-open-house-march-29 or by phone at 910-678-0190 or 910-678-0049.

  • 06Red Light EnforcementThe City of Fayetteville is one of the few large cities in North Carolina to restore red-light cameras on city streets to prevent intersection traffic accidents. State law says net proceeds from the fines must go directly to the Cumberland County Board of Education. “Since it was executed in March 2015, the red-light camera program has provided approximately $1.1 million net to Cumberland County,” said Mayor Nat Robertson.

    “While the purpose of the red-light camera program is traffic safety, the money generated at these city intersections could go a long way to demonstrably improving both pedestrian safety and recreational facilities,” the mayor said in a letter to Board of Education Chairman Greg West. Currently, the school board puts the money in its general fund. It’s not the first time a member of City Council proposed asking the school system to earmark red-light camera funds for a special project. Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin spoke of dedicating the money for the special needs of young children. City Council never acted on the idea. For that matter, it has never seriously discussed asking the school board to spend the fine funds in ways preferred by city government. Robertson disagrees: “The purpose of the letter to Chairman West was consistent with the thought of some councilmembers as we have previously discussed,” he said. 

    Councilman Kirk deViere, who ran against Robertson in the 2013 mayoral race, said Robertson’s letter to West was inappropriate because it did not represent a consensus of City Council. “This letter makes it sound like you have consensus from council when you stated ‘we request’ in the third paragraph of the letter,” said deViere. Robertson specifically asked that the school board “adopt a policy designating all future red-light camera proceeds to further the City’s efforts in the extension of sidewalks and enhancements to shared recreation facilities at schools located inside the city limits of Fayetteville.” His letter concludes, “I make this request on behalf of the entire City Council and look forward to your positive response.” West has not responded as far as we know. Robertson was surprised at deViere’s response to his request. “Honestly, I can’t speak on Kirk’s political motivations, but to me, there is no reason to compromise on doing the right thing for the people I represent,” Robertson said.

    Modern red-light camera systems are sophisticated and expensive. American Traffic Solutions contracts with Fayetteville to operate the growing number of covered intersections. Officials said it costs about $100,000 to construct a single video/still camera operation. Violators are fined $100, 30 percent of which goes to the company. The balance is paid directly to the school system. Violators receive letters which say in part. “Based upon images captured by the automated system, your vehicle was determined to have committed a red-light violation. As the vehicle owner, the Notice of Violation is mailed to you.” 

    There is an appeal process during which violators are shown still photos and persuasive videotape of the violations.

  • 05FayVA insigniaThe director of Fayetteville’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center says a critical performance audit on veteran wait times by the VA inspector general’s office was outdated and inaccurate. “The team reviewed a small sample of appointments from 2014,” said FVAMC Director Elizabeth Goolsby. “Discrepancies identified by the inspector general on patient wait times resulted from the IG’s use of a methodology that was inconsistent with VHA policies at the time of the audit,” she added. Goolsby responded to criticisms raised by U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). The Veterans Health Administration is the component of the Department of Veterans Affairs that implements the medical assistance program of the VA through the administration and operation of VA Medical Centers, Outpatient Clinics, Community Based Outpatient Clinics and VA Community Living Centers.

    Burr and Tillis sent a joint letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin last week in response to what they called “a troubling inspector general report (released earlier this month) on veteran wait times.”  The letter said, in part, the senators were concerned that ”across the VA’s Mid-Atlantic Healthcare Network actual wait times were drastically different than what had been reported” by VA medical facilities in Asheville, Durham, Fayetteville, Salisbury and in Virginia. In their letter the senators said. “The IG found that facilities did not consistently conduct scheduler audits, and so we ask you to require that an individual … is responsible for ensuring that the required scheduling audits are completed as prescribed.” 

    Goolsby replied “All scheduling audits and follow-up training atthe Fayetteville Veterans Affairs Medical Center were compliant with VHA requirements.” She stated this in response to an inquiry from Up & Coming Weekly. 

    The actual IG report was dated January of this year but contained outdated findings. Goolsby noted that Burr and Tillis relied on the IG audit of a small sample taken three years ago which concluded “Veterans…deserve to be seen more quickly…and Congress, veterans, and the American public must be able to trust that the wait time information being provided by VA is accurate. That we, once again, cannot trust VA data is more than disappointing,” the Senators wrote. The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

    Goolsby released current wait times: “We are pleased to say that VA’s most recent wait time data reveals as of Feb. 15, 2017, the average wait time for veterans to receive an appointment at the Fayetteville VAMC is 3.63 days for primary care; 14.88 for specialty care; and 5.45 for mental health; this is down from Dec. 15, 2014 figures of 29.02 days for primary care; 19.07 for specialty care; and 7.35 for mental health,” the director outlined. “Additionally, we offer same day service for primary care and mental health for veterans with urgent needs,” she concluded.  “Fayetteville VA remains committed to providing our Veterans high quality, safe patient care, in a timely manner. This is care these  veterans have justly earned,” Goolsby emphasized.

  • 04NewsDigestComputerized Traffic Signal System Coming to Fayetteville 

    A computerized traffic signal system is coming to Fayetteville, thanks to a $6.4 million contract awarded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It will replace the system destroyed by Hurricane Matthew flooding in October. The citywide project will update the signal system at approximately 275 intersections. Division Six Construction Engineer Randy Wise said the new system “will assist the City of Fayetteville and NCDOT to more quickly respond to issues and better coordinate the signal system timing.” Fulcher Electric of Fayetteville was awarded the contract. Work will begin as soon as April 3 and should be complete by Oct. 15, 2019.

    Solving Cybercrimes

    The Fayetteville Police Department has been awarded a $40,000 grant by the Governor’s Crime Commission in support of the department’s cybercrimes unit. The funds will be used to purchase equipment for forensic investigations involving digital devices. Updated software and hardware are needed to keep up with the ever-changing climate of today’s technology. The Fayetteville Police Department partners with the State Bureau of Investigation’s Computer Crimes Unit and its internet Crimes Against Children Program. “FPD’s Cyber Crimes Unit is a vital resource for … agencies in the local area,” said police spokesman Lt. Todd Joyce.

    Citywide Cleanup

    The annual Fayetteville Beautiful citywide cleanup is slated for Saturday, April 1, 2017. Volunteers are asked to arrive at the entrance to Cross Creek Park on Green Street between 8 and 9:30 a.m. Supplies will be distributed at that time. They include:  orange trash bags, T-shirts, gloves and bottled water. Residents who want to volunteer can sign up online on the interactive map at www.fayettevillebeautiful.com. 

    Medal of Honor Day Observance

     Fayetteville’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation is honoring three Medal of Honor recipients March 25, 2017, at 10 a.m. in the Yarborough-Bank Theater at the museum. State Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) is the keynote speaker. This year’s highlighted recipients are PFC Charles Neilans DeGlopper, Private Joe Gandara and LTC Robert George Cole. DeGlopper posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions and sacrifice of life during the early stages of the Battle of Normandy in World War II. He was also the only World War II soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division to receive the award for action during the Normandy Campaign. Gandara, a member of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of his heroic actions June 9, 1944, in Amfreville, France. With his unit pinned down, Gandara advanced alone toward the enemy position and destroyed three hostile machine gun positions before he was fatally wounded. Cole received the Medal of Honor for action above and beyond the call of duty June 11, 1944, in France. LTC Cole’s unit was pinned down by withering enemy fire. He charged on and led the remnants of his battalion across open territory to the enemy.

    Fayetteville Law Firm Expands

    The Richardson Firm, a Fayetteville-based law practice, announces the association of two new lawyers: attorneys Keischa Lovelace and Heather Rattelade. Lovelace comes to Fayetteville from Raleigh where she had her own practice. She focused on representing claimants in civil litigation matters, including workers’ compensation and Social Security disability. Before that Lovelace served as deputy commissioner and claims administration director for the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Lovelace earned her J.D. degree with honors from UNC-Chapel Hill. Before law school, she was a teacher in Wake County after graduating magna cum laude from N.C. State University.

    Rattelade earned her law degree at North Carolina Central University in 2008, but her experience began years before. She assisted capital defense teams as a mitigation specialist before and during law school. Rattelade began her career as an attorney with the Law Offices of Bruce T. Cunningham, before founding her own firm in 2010 to focus on fighting for individuals’ civil rights. “I decided to join The Richardson Firm because their philosophy is closely aligned with my mission to protect and promote vital constitutional and civil rights,” Rattelade said. She co-authored articles published in the North Carolina Central Law Review, and has given lectures on post-conviction investigations and flawed forensics at Duke Law School, Campbell Law School and North Carolina Central School of Law. “Keischa and Heather bring a wealth of experience to our firm,” said Attorney Billy Richardson. 

    Community Development Action Plan Update

    The 2017 Cumberland County Community Development Annual Action Plan is available for public review and comment at 10 locations around the county through April 13. Following the review period, a public hearing will be held at the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners meeting April 18 at 6:45 p.m. in Room 118 of the Courthouse. The action plan can be reviewed at these locations:

    ·   Community Development Office, 707 Executive Place

    ·   East Regional Branch Library, 4809 Clinton Road

    ·   Falcon Town Hall, 7156 Southwest St., Falcon

    ·   Godwin Town Hall, 4924 Markham St., Godwin

    ·   Hope Mills Branch Library, 3411 Golfview Rd., Hope Mills

    ·   Linden Town Hall, 9456 Academy St., Linden

    ·   North Regional Branch Library, 855 McArthur Rd., Fayetteville

    ·   Spring Lake Branch Library, 101 Laketree Blvd., Spring Lake

    ·   Stedman Town Hall, 5110 Front St., Stedman

    ·   Wade Town Hall, 7128 Main St., U.S. Highway 301 N., Wade

    Annual community development action plan updates address the priority needs of affordable, safe, decent housing to low-moderate income residents, the homeless, those at risk of becoming homeless and the special needs population. The draft plan can be seen at www.co.cumberland.nc.us/community_dev.aspx.

  • 03KarlOCAREThe Affordable Care Act, routinely referred to as Obamacare, was signed on March 23, 2010. Referring to the program, “Obamacare Summary” at Obamacare.net says, It was created “to make healthcare more affordable and easily accessible to a wider range of Americans.” Seven years later, Obamacare is failing terribly. Some describe it as imploding. Amazingly, many in America, including politicians and general citizens, are vehemently opposing Republican efforts to repeal and replace this legislation. Protests are raging across the nation. 

    One has to wonder how it can be that so many people want to keep in place a program that is not working anywhere near what was promised and is on the verge of total collapse. The possible explanations include, but are not limited to: individuals expecting society to provide health care for every citizen, no matter a person’s failure to act responsibly; citizens not understanding the perilous state of the program; the general entitlement mentality that has taken up residence in our country. Whatever the reason or reasons for this unfathomable demand by some to keep Obamacare in place, somebody needs to tell the whole truth about the danger it poses. 

    I contend that politicians do not tell the whole truth regarding Obamacare and what can reasonably be done by way of repealing and replacing it. The critical word in that statement is “reasonably.” This assessment is especially true of Republicans, but also falls at the feet of Democrats and independents. As is the case with so many challenging issues facing our nation, these politicians are so focused on winning re-election and holding onto power that they hesitate to speak any truth that jeopardizes re-election or retention of power. 

    Elected politicians and those who benefit from close ties to them speak to the “safe” talking points for repealing and replacing Obamacare. Some of these safe talking points follow:

    1. Contrary to President Obama’s promise, participants have not been able to routinely keep their doctor or their plan.

    2. Annual premium savings to families are not averaging $2,500, as was promised.

    3. Following from “Obamacare’s implosion” by Stephen Moore:

    a. “In 2017 about one in five Obamacare enrollees will have only one insurance plan to choose from. One third of counties have only one insurer. That’s a lot of choice and competition. It’s like what Henry Ford said about the Model T, you can have it in any color as long as it’s black. This contraction of the market is going to get worse in a hurry, which is why Hillary Clinton wants a ‘public option,’ which will soon be your only option.”

     b. “The few remaining Obamacare defenders meekly say that most people are not facing 22 percent premium hikes because most Americans are in employer plans. But those employer plans are starting to see the same rising price pressures.”

    c. “Instead of 24 million covered as promised, the number is half that, or 11.4 million. The vast majority of Americans who have gotten health insurance under the new law were dumped into Medicaid. This is a welfare program for people with very low incomes. Shouldn’t we define success in America when fewer, not more people are receiving welfare?”

    4. Businesses that have more than 50 full-time employees must provide health insurance for them. To avoid this requirement, some businesses are employing more part-time personnel and, thereby, avoiding the coverage requirement. This adversely impacts full-time employment rates and employee income.

    Those are some of the talking points that politicians and their surrogates will address because they are palatable to citizens. On the other hand, what follows are some of the not-so-palatable Obamacare considerations that are not addressed directly. Doing so gets to the whole truth:

    1. The mandate that every American purchase health insurance or pay a penalty unless they get an exemption is absolutely essential to Obamacare. Premiums from the healthy are needed in order keep premiums reasonable for the sick. 

    2. Among far too many, there is the conviction that health care is a right. Reference after reference states that nowhere in the Constitution is health care presented as a right. This “health care as a right” mindset should be factually challenged because allowing it to take even greater hold in the thinking of Americans further complicates successfully addressing the issue. The high hurdle in addressing the “health care as a right” issue is in the courts and legislators repeatedly stretching the Constitution to provide rights not stated therein. Regarding this matter, Gregory Curfman said this in an article titled, “King V. Burwell and a Right to Health Care:” “The Constitution itself does not stipulate a general right to health care, but a patchwork of rights to certain aspects of health care have emerged over time from both constitutional and statutory law.”

    3. As harsh as it might sound, open and honest discussion of fairness should be brought into the deliberations. Is it fair to Americans who act responsibly that they are made to financially support others who do not? There are those who, through no fault of their own, fall on hard times. I am not talking about them. Consider the person who, by their choosing, drops out of free public school, pursues no marketable skill, repeatedly makes destructive life choices and shows no effort to turn his or her life in a positive direction. Should taxpayers be required to provide health care for that person? 

    4. Governor Roy Cooper, D - North Carolina, is pushing for Medicaid expansion as allowed and promoted under Obamacare. Many states have done the expansion and, politically, doing so probably wins votes. However, I contend Stephen Moore, in the article, “Obamacare’s implosion,” tells the whole truth when he writes: “…Medicaid is such a bad insurance program — with many doctors and treatment centers refusing to take Medicaid enrollees — that the health results of those in the program are barely better than for those with no insurance at all.” 

    5. Mainstream media makes every effort to present Obamacare in a positive light by focusing on individuals who benefit from participation and giving full coverage to those who protest in favor of keeping the program. There must be much more visible telling of the stories of those caught in the implosion of Obamacare. An example is the situation of Leslie Kurtz, as told in an article by Tom Murphy and Meghan Hoyer, titled “What if there’s no affordable insurance to buy?”

    “Leslie Kurtz needed three plates, eight screws and a big assist from her insurer after breaking every bone in her ankle while white water rafting. Coverage she purchased through a public insurance exchange established by the federal health care law paid $65,000 toward surgery and the care she needed after the 2015 accident. But that protection may not exist next year because insurers have abandoned the Knoxville, Tennessee resident’s exchange. As of now, Kurtz has no future coverage options, and she is worried.”

    6. In the great press for all Americans to have access to health care, I hardly hear any mention of the doctor shortage faced by this nation, even before Obamacare, and now exacerbated by implementation of this program. The result is that we have more people seeking care from a pool of too few doctors. The result has to be doctors spending less time with patients, increased physician burnout and more than usual early retirements among doctors. This condition has to be addressed and made a factor in determining the direction of health care in America.

    The point of what is presented above is that Obamacare is “imploding,” while individuals and groups across America protest vociferously to keep the program in place. Congressional Democrats are contributing absolutely nothing to finding a way to put in place health care that works. Instead, they are fighting “tooth and nail” against Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. All of this opposition is given credibility in the thinking of many Americans because it is treated empathetically by mainstream media. This is a formula for creating a mess — and a mess is what we have in Obamacare.

    Correcting or cleaning up a mess requires confronting and responding to the whole truth of the situation. The call here is for people in positions of leadership to put aside boundless pursuit of political position and power … then tell the American people the whole truth about what is possible, reasonable and financially affordable by way of health care in this country. Some call for citizens to “speak truth to power.” This is one of many instances where people in positions of power need to speak the whole truth to citizens. 

  • 02ShawTo annex, or not to annex. 

    That is the question.

    With a respectful nod to William Shakespeare and his angst-ridden creation, Hamlet, to annex Shaw Heights or not is indeed the question staring Fayetteville City Council members in the face. We can only hope they will be less tortured about their issue than poor Hamletwas about his.

    The situation is this. Shaw Heights is an unincorporated neighborhood totally surrounded by the city of Fayetteville, running between Murchison Road and Bragg Boulevard.  It is poverty stricken, with only about 14 percent of the residences occupied by their owners and fully one-third of residences vacant, many in significant disrepair. In other words, Shaw Heights is an area that has tipped from residential and is ripe to become something else. 

    But what?

    That answer is unlikely to be anything positive unless Shaw Heights becomes part of the city of Fayetteville, receiving city services and the attentions of a professional city staff, both of which could promote development of a long-neglected area of greater Fayetteville. Shaw Heights has tremendous potential. It is on the border of a major new road system, paid for not by Fayetteville but by the state and federal governments. About 40,000 vehicles travel this roadway every day, moving easily between Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. This makes the area ripe for economic development, and, indeed, professional developers are already circling. Private sector investment in Shaw Heights could turn a down-on-its-heels ugly duckling into an economic swan.

    In addition, as residents moved away from Shaw Heights and nothing much replaced them, the area has become largely a blank canvas awaiting the next good — or bad — thing. Controlled development of the area will build both Fayetteville and Cumberland County’s tax bases and provide meaningful commercial and residential development as well as green space.

    Fayetteville’s City Council members continue to hem and haw about this annexation, citing concerns about North Carolina’s involuntary annexation provisions. Partisan politics may well be at play as well. Shaw Heights’ annexation is a major issue, but how it is playing out brings up a larger issue that Fayetteville residents talk about in private but one which is rarely raised publicly.

    Let’s call it the vision thing.

    Observers of government at all levels see this all the time. Some of those we elect to represent us have a clear picture of where they want our community/state/nation to go, and they pursue plans and policies to achieve their goals. Other elected officials are literally clueless. They have few pictures or plans to advance their communities. In many cases, their decision-making depends not on the merits of an issue but on other factors, first among them whether their decision would keep them in the good graces of their constituents. These elected officials may be very nice people. Most are, in fact, but they are not leaders.

    Without naming names, our community has a history of electing such folks, in part, because few others step up to the plate. Offering oneself for elective service, or any service that opens one up to public judgment and potential criticism, can be a scary prospect. Running for and serving in public office affects not just the person whose name is on the ballot or who prevails in an elective contest, but his or her family and friends as well. 

    Even so, I have wondered many times why so and so did not run for public office, and I have asked a number of people to do so. I have been turned down far more often than not for all sorts of reasons, including, “Why would I want to work with ‘those people?’” Many have expressed that they are too busy or already over-committed. My answer to that is if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.

    Fayetteville City Council has the Shaw Heights annexation issue squarely on its plate with a vote looming. City residents — indeed the entire metropolitan area — can only hope they will put partisan and philosophical concerns aside. Allowing Shaw Heights to remain an island of blight surrounded by a city striving to move forward would be a disappointment to those who work for Fayetteville’s advancement and prosperity. It would be a decision that would hold back our city.

    Let’s encourage Fayetteville City Council members to be leaders with a vision and annex Shaw Heights for the good of our community.

  • 01PubI get tickled when someone makes the statement that newspapers (and print) are dead. Are you kidding me? Not only are newspapers alive, but in a community like Cumberland County where we now lack both a local TV station and daily newspaper, a local weekly community newspaper like Up & Coming Weekly shoulders the responsibility of reporting, promoting, branding and showcasing the Fayetteville community: A task I was born to do. Confucius once said: “…one who finds a job he loves will never work another day in their life.” I truly believe this. So, not only will we never deal in “fake news,” I can also assure you our media demise is not eminent. Community newspapers are not going anywhere any time soon. Local weekly newspapers like ours are doing exceptionally well nationally. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that everyone predicted that VCRs would kill movie theaters and that TV would make radio obsolete and the telephone would put the telegraph out of business. Well, the last time I looked we have yet to lose any of these forms of communication. I know what you’re thinking. Telegraph? Where is a telegraph? Hint: Western Union! I assure you, the printed word will be around for a long, long time. And with it, newspapers. 

    “Fake News” is still a serious problem, and the biggest, most notorious sources of fake news are brought to us courtesy of the internet. No doubt, the internet and social media are the poster children for fake news. No rules, no conscience. Just say anything at any time regardless of whether it has any validity or truth. Cell phones make it too easy to record audio or live stream video to communicate and educate, to make us happy and joyful and stir our national patriotic pride. Or, the same vehicles can be used to destroy innocent reputations, wreck someone’s businesses or perhaps start a senseless riot that costs American lives and tens of millions of dollars. Today, social media and the internet are like the wild, wild west and like so many things, they started out being benevolent and beneficial for mankind and then ended up inflicting harmful and toxic unintended consequences.

    Here’s the good news: Print media, and specifically newspapers, are going to experience a boon industry once people realize the only trustworthy news and information sources will come from locally-owned newspapers produced by people they know and trust. This is trending across the country and is precipitated by the large conglomerate newspaper holding companies buying up every daily and community newspaper they can find. This has created a hybrid of detached “cookie cutter” newspaper products void of compassion, ethics and journalistic integrity. 

    Successful community newspapers have reinvented themselves probably three or four times in the last eight years. They are owned by dedicated businessmen embracing and utilizing the internet and digital technology to keep their products effective and relevant. Trust. It’s all about trust. And that is the one thing community newspapers are delivering. However, if people want to know the truth, they must seek it out. This means they must make an exerted effort to find out what is going on in their communities and the world. People are turning away from the media because they do not trust it. When they turn away from the news, they are also turning away from their communities. They become oblivious to what is going on around them. That is, unless something becomes a major controversy, and even then, there is little evidence the truth will be sought out. Currently, we need to try to find real news and real truth and not allow someone else to speak on our behalf. We need to speak out boldly. Community newspapers are becoming the most effective way to do that. I have people every week email and call me saying, “Hey, Bill, you should write about this,” or “you should write about that.” My response is, “Hey, why don’t you write about it?” And there, my friend, is where community newspapers are making great headway in restoring readers’ confidence.  

    Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper is leading the charge. For 21 years, our news, views and opinions have been written by residents who feel strongly about the news and events taking place in our community. In addition to our “first-person” commentary, our writers’ names, photos and bios are attached to every article. This makes it personal. So, if you don’t agree with one of our local newspaper topics or writers, you have direct unabridged access to the source. Truth, honesty and credibility make community newspapers valuable to our society. They make readers want to know what’s going on in our community. After 21 years of publishing in Cumberland County, I know what makes our newspaper work – and it’s not how many papers we print. It’s who reads it! 

    I’ll conclude by saying there is a lot to be gained and enjoyed from reading local newspapers and engaging in the community. Don’t let the internet and social media “fake” you out.

  • 15ShawHeightsPWC will host its third Annual Power and Water Conservation Expo Friday, March 24, from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at SkyView on Hay Street in Downtown Fayetteville. 

    “This event does focus on conservation, and we have employees and conservation specialists that will be there,” said Carolyn Justice-Hinson, communications and community relations officer at PWC. “We have information about our incentive programs, conservation tools and basic information to help people understand their utility services.” Justice-Hinson added that they will be handing out items and helping people understand how to use them.   

    The educational mascots, Willy Water Drop and Wally Watt Watcher, will be on site for the expo. “Willy Water Drop is a water drop, and Wally Watt Watcher is a plug, and sometimes people confuse him with an old-timey cell phone,” said Justice-Hinson. “The kids and adults like them and everybody likes to take a selfie with them.” 

    Participants will learn ways to save on their energy and water bills, meet PWC linemen and receive a complimentary reusable tote bag with items like LED bulbs and tree seedlings. “Our linemen will have a miniature utility pole, and they will show you how they restore power,” said Justice-Hinson. “You can touch it, and they will let you help them so you can see what their job is all about.” Justice-Hinson added that there will also be information about PWC’s major projects such as the switch to LED streetlights and the advanced meters they started putting in three years ago. It gives people an opportunity to see this stuff up close and to ask questions from the employees that do this every day.               

    Another educational tool that will be distributed and discussed is the fat trapper. “The fat trappers are one of our most popular items,” said Justice-Hinson. “We run regular campaigns trying to make people aware that they should not pour grease and oil down the sewer system because once it gets there, it clogs up and causes backups which are bad for everybody.” 

    PWC is the largest electric municipal utility in the state of North Carolina. “While people sometimes do not always believe this, our rates are among the lowest in the area,” said Justice-Hinson. “We can show you some information on rates and how we compare to other local and regional providers.”      

    The expo is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to pay it forward and consider bringing nonperishable food items to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank. For more information visit www.faypwc.com or call 223-4009.                                

  • 164th fridayFayetteville’s next 4th Friday comes March 24, amidst (hopefully) warm weather and beautiful new signs of spring. This month’s free buffet of art-related events is themed “All-American Weekend Downtown.” 

    The Arts Council at 301 Hay St. will host the Ellington White Community Development Corporation’s third annual Art and Flowersexhibition from 7-9 p.m. The show will feature 2-D submissions that were selected from a national call for submissions, as well as live floral arrangements created in dialog with the 2-D art. The floral designers who created the arrangements come from Fayetteville, the Chapel Hill/Raleigh area and Wilmington. The evening will also feature live music by The 82d Airborne Division Band Woodwind Quintet. 

    Calvin Mims, executive director of Ellington White CDC, explained what he loves most about Art and Flowers. “It’s really exciting to see someone look at a work of visual art and then … use that as an interpretation for a live floral arrangement. We consider floral design a very unique art form, and of course paintings of botanical forms is something we’ve always appreciated. But bringing the two together at the start of spring is … absolutely wonderful.”

    The Arts Council also just released their annual Public Works call for submissions. Visit www.theartscouncil.com/ and click “Artist Opportunities” to learn more. 

    The Arts Council provides just one exciting piece of all that 4th Fridayhas to offer. Check out these other events!

    Gallery 116th at 116 Anderson St. is proud to present NightLife,the gallery’s first solo exhibition with Jonathon Lee Shannon. His work will be on display from 6 p.m. until midnight. The show consists of works Shannon created all over the U.S., with a focus on capturing night life. He has painted plein-air within bars, challenging himself to capture the light and movement of people even as he creatively reverses forms, swapping geometric forms into organic ones and vice versa. 

    Cape Fear Studios at 148 Maxwell St. presents the opening of Cats, Dogs & Ewe from 6-9 p.m. The show will feature pet-themed art.

    The Cumberland County Library at 300 Maiden Ln. will host Musician Roger Day from 7-8 p.m. as he opens the library’s Storytelling Festival with his newest show, Invincible. The show “encourages and empowers young super heroes everywhere to solve the problem and save the day by using the greatest super power of all: Imagination!” 

    Visit the Ellington-White Gallery at 113 Gillespie St. to view the continuing Cumberland County Art Educators exhibition from 7-9 p.m.

    Fascinate-U Children’s Museum at 116 Green St. wants to help you and your kids celebrate National Nutrition Month! Play at the museum for free from 7-9 p.m.

    Walk over to The Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum at 325 Franklin St. to view its ongoing Cumberland County Goes to War exhibit, which highlights our area’s civil war history at home and on the battlefield. Open 6-8:30 p.m.

    The Market House at 106 Hay St. will feature an educational exhibit upstairs, in addition to its permanent exhibit, A View from the Square: A History of Downtown Fayetteville. Visit from 6-10 p.m.

  • 26payton aldridgePayton Aldridge

    South View



    Aldridge plays volleyball and softball for the Tigers. She was all-conference in volleyball twice and once in softball entering her final season. She has a grade point average of 4.5.





    27Rithik Penmatcha

     Rithik Penmatcha

    Jack Birtt



    Penmatcha is currently ranked second in his class at Jack Britt, with a 4.21 grade point average. In addition to playing tennis, he is also active in the Jack Britt Key Club.

  • 24Blake MaxwellBlake Maxwell is one of those fortunate people who’s had the chance to chase the dream of being a professional athlete. But in the back of his mind while he was doing it was the hope that one day he’d be able to give back to the community where he got his start.

    Now he’s on the second leg of his athletic journey. Maxwell, who spent seven years in the minor league system of the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher, is back in Cumberland County and working as head baseball coach at Douglas Byrd High School.

    A 2002 graduate of South View, Maxwell played under two of the greatest baseball figures in Cumberland County, the late Randy Ledford at South View and Tom Austin at Methodist University.

    Maxwell spent three years at Methodist before the Red Sox drafted him. He had stints with a number of Boston farm teams, the last two with Pawtucket in AAA, the last stop before the majors.

    When Maxwell finally realized a Major League career wasn’t going to happen, he returned to Methodist and finished work on a degree in physical education and health education. He coached briefly at UNC-Pembroke while getting an online masters in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia-Irvine.

    His first teaching job carried him all the way to Columbia, N.C., down east near the Outer Banks, but he soon found himself wanting to get back home. He reached out to former South View athletic director Ronnie Luck, who helped him land the baseball job at Byrd.

    Maxwell said baseball is baseball, no matter what level, and he’s applying one lesson he learned in the minor leagues to his practices here.

    “Giving 100 percent effort every day is the biggest thing,’’ he said. “Even when a guy isn’t a big-time prospect. If he busted his butt and worked hard every day, they found a way to get him on the field.’’

    Maxwell knows as a high school coach he’s not going to be blessed with super talent at every position. That’s why he’s convinced everyone has to work hard to improve. “It’s important to teach the fundamental side of the game,’’ he said. “Baserunning, bunting, running. It can help you win a game whether you are a superstar or a bunch of guys just out there playing.’’

    Jesse Dailey, a Byrd senior who pitches as well as plays shortstop and first base, said the team has responded well to Maxwell’s coaching. “We’re confident and we’ve got teamwork,’’ he said. “He’s indepth and detailed. It’s the little things. Throwing the ball and catching the ball.’’

    “I think we have a good team and I’m excited to see what we’re going to put out there,’’ Maxwell said. “We’ll show up to the park, no matter who we are playing.’’ 

  • 22Vernon AldridgeEarly returns from the recent N.C. High School Athletic Association Eastern Regional basketball tournament held at Fayetteville State’s Capel Arena and Methodist University’s Riddle Center, appear to be generally positive.

    Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for Cumberland County Schools, traveled back and forth between the two venues on championship Saturday and came away with a good impression.

    “The smaller gyms gave a bit more of an energetic atmosphere,’’ he said. “The only issue we had was at the Clinton game.’’

    Clinton’s powerful girls’ team, which won the 2-A regional title, drew a crowd that packed one side of the Methodist gym and actually had people seated on the floor. But there were apparently no major complaints despite the size of the crowd.

    Aldridge said the biggest crowd of the day came from Greene Central in the 2-A boys’ final. “They came with four or five busses,’’ Aldridge said. “Every seat was taken for that first game.’’

    Aside from the change of venues for the regional this year, the NCHSAA also made a change in tournament operations. In past years, retired county athletic directors Fred McDaniel from Cumberland County and Ronnie Chavis of Robeson County had served as the two site supervisors.

    This year, members of the NCHSAA central office staff, Tra Waters and Mark Dreibilbis, took over those responsibilities. Aldridge said the county mainly provided the NCHSAA with county personnel to work at the two venues.

    The county didn’t sign a long-term contract with the NCHSAA, and Aldridge said it will be up to the folks in Chapel Hill to decide whether the tournament will return to Fayetteville next year or move somewhere else.

    • Belated congratulations to veteran Pine Forest coach Jim Farthing, who was recognized in February with the naming of the gym at Pine Forest Middle School in his honor.

    Farthing coached there when it was still Pine Forest High School, before the current school building was constructed on Andrews Road.

    A number of his coaching peers and former players attended the ceremony in the middle school gym.

    • We reported a couple of issues ago that a controversial bill was working its way through the N.C. legislature that would give parents in North Carolina the power to overrule a doctor and allow their child to return to athletic competition in spite of a doctor’s diagnosis of a concussion.

    My friend Joe Sirera of the Greensboro News and Record recently reported that wiser heads have prevailed and that provision has been removed from the bill.

  • 21get outLike It Followsand The Witch, Get Out(103 minutes) is a thinking person’s horror film. More a psychological thriller than a straight up scarefest, it represents a welcome new peak in a genre characterized by some pretty trashy lows. It might seem odd for me, proud of the fact that I’ve been fed on a steady diet of sleaze, exploitation and video nasties since an early age, to notice that there have been some outstanding horror films released in the past year or two. But I didn’t just watch the trashy stuff, and, by the way, the best trashy stuff will have moments of brilliance. Go check out Turkey Shootaka Escape 2000if you don’t believe me. Heck, go check out a couple of Roger Corman films. 

    But I digress. Get Outis about more than just how scary rich, white people are. It is about identifying with an ordinary guy trapped into an uncomfortable weekend meeting his girlfriend’s parents. Of course the atmosphere is weird — it is always weird to meet the partner’s parents. The question is, how much weird behavior justifies calling it quits, when your special new girlfriend is in your corner, suffering with you? And at what point does weird become a red flag for the Texas Chain Saw family reunion? 

    The movie is hard to sum up without giving away crucial plot points. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) leaves the city with his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams) to visit her parents Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) on Wealthy Street in Superrich Town, USA. They don’t know he is black, but Rose assures him that her dad voted for Obama, so it’s all good. Chris has his doubts, and I wonder why Rose’s parents aren’t cyberstalking her social media enough to know who she was dating, as any reasonable parent would the minute their child leaves the house. Shoot, I had mine implanted with a miniature tracking device and small camera before we even left the hospital.

    The first meeting is every bit as awkward as expected. The perfect suburban house is maintained by two live-in black servants, Walter (Marcus Henderson) and Georgina (Betty Gabriel), who have smiles like the family in that classic Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life.” Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) is borderline ridiculous, and I wish he had been written with a little more subtlety. Over time, it becomes clear that, however the Armitage’s feel about Chris, they are friends with a bunch of racists who were raised in a barn. Remembering that Jordan Peele wrote this script, and probably drew on encounters he had in real life while dating and then marrying Chelsea Peretti, I wonder how much of the party scene was a word-for-word account of questions he had been asked at one time or another. 

    By the halfway point, it is clear that Chris is ready to cut the weekend short and head for the hills, which is when events go from bad to worse. You see, the entire time (spoiler) was (spoiler) and (spoiler)!  The characters keep the audience guessing right up until the final denouement, and if the big reveal wasn’t a surprise by then, at least it was satisfying.       

    Overall, after I suffered through Keanu, the Key and Peele film I really, truly wanted to like, I wasn’t looking forward to Get Out. Keanu was about a kitty and drug dealers and wacky misunderstandings and was horrifyingly bad; Get Outseemed poised for an equally catastrophic misfire. Then somebody in the PR department got their head on straight and delivered a second set of trailers that made me salivate with anticipation. For once, my high expectations were not disappointed. As I went into the theater, someone said, “Tell me how it is after you see it. I’ve heard it’s pretty good.” I replied, “I don’t need to see it. I already know it’s going to be awesome.” And I was right.

    Now playing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.

  • 20reynoldspriceSince 2000 North Carolina has grown from about 9.5 million people to well over 10 million, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. 

    Most of that growth is in our urban areas while many rural areas and small towns are losing people.

    These facts would not please the late Reynolds Price, the great writer and Duke professor, who died in 2010.

    He loved our small towns.

    Shortly before he died, he explained in Ardent Spirits that when he was a Rhodes Scholar in England and in his early teaching years at Duke, he reached back to his growing-up years in Macon, a town in rural Warren County. His experiences there helped him define who he was and gave him the setting for his first and best-known novel, A Long and Happy Life, published in 1962.

    Price got me thinking about the importance of small towns back in 1989 when he gave a talk about the importance of memories to good writing. Memories, he said, develop alongside the connections of extended families and stable surrounding communities.

    He brought home his point by saying, “That couldn’t happen if you moved every three years.”

    Here is what I write in response:

    Our memories are our treasures. They are who we are. Looking backwards, some of us see our parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, cousins, longtime friends, teachers, preachers and the places we knew them — home, church, school, stores and fields. Those people and places of growing up define us. They are our anchors, our foundations, our roots. At least they are, if we have those memories — if we remember where we grew up.

    But fewer and fewer of us know where we are from. The average American moves every three years. You can’t let your roots grow too deep if you move that often.

    If you move every three years and live in a new neighborhood where everyone else is new, Price said, you are not going to have the same kind of memories as those who grew up in one place.

    Does it make a difference? I think it does. I can’t prove it, but look around at the people who are making a difference in North Carolina — the best business leaders, our best political leaders, our best teachers and writers.

    Don’t a disproportionate number of them come from small towns and farms?

    What explains their success in the development of leaders for the rest of us?

    Some big city snobs would say that these leaders have had to overcome their culturally deprived backgrounds. Look at the small towns, they say, and see nothing happening, backward schools, no theaters, no big libraries, no big-time sports.

    Nothing there? Nothing but the stable nurturing that creates the self-defining memories that Reynolds Price talked about.

    North Carolina’s small towns and rural communities are the state’s “people estuaries.”

    Estuaries are those protected brackish waters along our coast, which, with the marshes, swamps, and backwaters, are the most efficient producers of food in the state. They are a critical link in our food chain. We often think of those areas as underdeveloped swampland. But they are irreplaceable treasures where the richness and stability of life makes for one of Earth’s most productive ecosystems.

    Reynolds Price was right. Those nurturing memories that small towns make possible give people a sense of who they are. People who have a sense of who they are become better equipped to lead, which may explain why small towns are so successful in producing so many North Carolina leaders.ese small towns are our “people estuaries.”

  • 19Budget roy cooperRoy Cooper has just submitted his first budget proposal as governor of North Carolina. It is a political document — and I don’t mean that as an insult. Cooper is a Democrat facing Republican supermajorities in a state legislature that has more power than he does. So his budget plan is more about communicating his own policy priorities to the voters of North Carolina than it is about convincing GOP lawmakers to adopt his agenda.

    It is telling, then, that Cooper’s plan contains no tax hikes. In fact, he proposes a modest tax cut.

    Politically, this constitutes a crushing defeat for the left-wing politicians, activists, and interest groups who have spent the last six years attacking Republicans and conservatives for cutting state taxes too much.

    Put another way, progressives think North Carolina’s current taxes are too low — hundreds of millions of dollars a year too low, at least — to provide adequate funding for the state’s core public services. If Roy Cooper thought the Left’s position on this issue to be correct and wise, he could have proposed to roll back recent cuts in personal or corporate income taxes.

    Of course Republicans wouldn’t have complied. They believe, properly, that the state’s recent tax reductions and reforms have restored more power to North Carolinians to spend their own money as they see fit, while also making North Carolina a more attractive place to live, work, invest, and create new jobs. Before reform, our state ranked 41st in business tax climate, according to the Tax Foundation. Now, we rank 11th.

    Still, if he had wanted to, Cooper could have proposed to roll back some of these tax cuts, and used the additional revenue to fund a larger budget. He could have dared the Republican legislature to say no to his plan — to refuse to “invest” in education, infrastructure, and other programs, all because they wanted to preserve “tax cuts for the wealthy.”

    If the Left is to be believed, Cooper would not only have been correct on the merits but also greeted as a leader of the popular resistance to a GOP plutocracy. But, of course, the Left is not to be believed on this subject. With regard to the merits of the policy, progressives believe passionately that state tax burdens don’t hamper economic growth and that state spending boosts growth. But their belief is contrary to most empirical evidence and to common sense. Even if most North Carolinians don’t read economics journals or manage companies, they know intuitively that increasing the cost of doing business is unlikely to create jobs, and that taxpayers don’t get a good return on many of the dollars they already surrender to the government.

    As a political matter, Cooper knows that he doesn’t owe his narrow victory last November to voters who think North Carolina’s taxes are too low. He isn’t going to score policy wins in the coming months, or Democratic wins in the 2018 midterms, or reelection in 2020 by lurching leftward.

    Rejecting the Left’s advice on tax hikes wasn’t the governor’s only nod to fiscal reality. Although Cooper said on the campaign trail last fall that North Carolina had been saving too much, his budget would add $463 billion dollars to state savings accounts next year — $313 million to the rainy-day fund and $150 million to reduce the state’s unfunded liability for retiree health benefits.

    By making these observations, I don’t mean to suggest that the budget plan Cooper actually opted to send to the General Assembly deserves passage. It would spend too much — about $1 billion more next year in General Fund programs alone, and billions more if other funds are included in the calculation.

    Nevertheless, even most of Cooper’s imprudent spending increases in FY 2017-18 are for one-time expenses, not for ongoing obligations. As a political document, his budget signifies that there is a robust debate among North Carolina leaders about how much and where to cut taxes. Meanwhile, the Left is on the outside looking in, again.

  • 17stompEvery year the Givens Performing Arts Center brings a wide variety of world-renowned performances to North Carolina. Each season embraces artistic expression of every style. On March 21, the theater will host the unconventional percussion group STOMP. Then March 27, GPAC hosts the Russian National Ballet Theatre as they present Swan Lake. These are two widely respected and incredibly popular groups displaying talents that take years to cultivate. The styles, however, are drastically different. 

    STOMP started as a street performance created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas in the United Kingdom and has grown into an international sensation. Since their humble beginnings over 20 years ago, they have performed in more than 50 countries for over 24 million people. There are now four different productions across the globe. There is a permanent company in London, a production at the Orpheum Theatre in New York, a North American tour and a European tour. 

    The focus of STOMP is on percussion. However, the style of percussion is unique. The performers employ things like paint cans, hubcaps, plumbing fixtures and even kitchen sinks to create their energizing and complex beats. In addition to the aural intrigue of the performance, STOMP performers also use their unconventional household or industrial instruments to make visually exciting performances. They may employ synchronized Zippo lighters, brooms or tea cups to create an incredible show for the entire family.

    STOMP performances have received rave reviews. Despite the overall success they have already achieved, they are still learning and growing. For example, in this tour they will include two entirely new pieces. This constant innovation makes every performance as new and exciting as when the show first premiered. STOMP will be at the GPAC March 21 at 7:30 p.m. 

    The Russian National Ballet Company was founded in 1989 by Sergi Radchenko, who was a ballet star in the “Bolshoi Ballet.” The company very quickly made a name for itself at home and abroad because of the high quality of every aspect of the performance. The dancers are some of the best in the world. Additionally, the stunning scenery and costumes are designed with attention to detail. The company divides into smaller touring groups when they travel and often performs classic ballet masterpieces in communities that would not otherwise have such an opportunity to enjoy Russian classical ballet. 

    Swan Lake is one of the classical ballet masterpieces that the company performs. Swan Lake first debuted in 1877 and was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It is considered the “national ballet of Russia” by many. The story revolves around princess Odette who is turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. The story has been adapted numerous times, but the Russian National Ballet Company will perform a more traditional version that the entire family can enjoy. It is a presentation of Russian culture and talent brought to North Carolina March 27 at 7:30 p.m. 

    Both performances bring critically acclaimed international culture and talent to North Carolina. The GPAC is providing a unique opportunity for the entire family to experience two very different artistic interpretations of music all within the month of March. Tickets for both shows can be purchased at http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?orgid=44991&schedule=list. 

  • 001COVERRape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County presents “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” on Friday, March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Building on Hay Street. RCVCC offers free, confidential services to any person whose life has been affected by sexual violence. Services include a 24-hour Crisis Hotline; 24-hour emergency room responders; counseling; support groups; courtroom advocacy; community awareness; and an address confidentiality program.

    “The purpose of the walk is to have public awareness of sexual violence and how we can all come together and help prevent it,” said Ze Surratt II, certified victim practitioner and military liaison. 

    “We do it through men walking in red high-heeled shoes to get a feel for what it is like as a female for five minutes when we wear them for hours a day and be able to feel like they can contribute to conquering sexual violence by putting on these red high-heeled shoes.” Suratt added that they have been doing this event since 2010 and last year’s walk had the highest number of walkers, which consisted of over 300 men. 

    The walk is from the Market House to the AIT building. “We have had Chiefs of the Fire Department, Chiefs of Police, directors of Cape Fear, military men, district attorneys and other high influential people walking in heels to show their support to end sexual violence,” said Surratt. “Our reported number of sexual violence victims are over 400 per year.” Surratt added that the victims that come to them may not necessarily be the individuals that report to law enforcement and vice-versa. 

    “This event is so important for many reasons, first for the victims. Men from our community come out and take a stand against sexual violence – policemen, firemen, soldiers, politicians, community leaders, our neighbors and our friends are all out walking,” said RCVCC Executive Director Deanne Gerdes. “For a victim... that is priceless. They are in the crowd watching and cheering on the walkers! For my staff and advocates, we know we are not alone in preventing (sexual violence) and acknowledging and advocating for victims. Rape is such an ugly word, ugly thought. Raising money for the agency is hard. But this event is for the community to help us financially and to let victims know that we are here and we care.” 

    The victims are mainly females between the ages of 14-24. There are also a small number of male victims. “Our youngest victim was four months old and our oldest victim was 96 years old,” said Surratt. “We see a full range of individuals in Cumberland County and other counties.” Surratt added that most the time a rape is committed by someone that is known – even if it is the slightest acquaintance – and it is more likely to be someone the victim has encountered at least once in their life. It is usually someone the victim thought they knew well and felt comfortable with. 

    Rape is one of the most underreported crimes. “Think about the shame that goes along with this crime,” said Surratt. “The victim feels like that maybe they should have known better, they could’ve done better or somehow they could have prevented what happened to them.” Surratt added that because they take on that blame of what happened to them, a lot of victims will not come forward to report it. 

    The agency’s services are not contingent on a police report. You can call or walk into the agency and get help immediately free of charge. If you are a victim of rape or know someone who is, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. Sponsors are needed for the event. Registration begins at 6 p.m. The fee is $20 to register for the walk and $5 to rent a pair of red high-heeled shoes. For more information, call 485-7273.


    An average 233,986 Americans age 12 and older are sexually assaulted each year.

    Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.

    Who Are the Victims?

    1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.  Among all victims, about nine out of ten are female.

    1 out of every 33 American men has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in his lifetime.  About 10 percent of all victims are male.


    Age of sexual assault victims: 

    15 percent are under age 12.

    29 percent are age 12-17

    44 percent are under age 18

    80 percent are under age 30

    Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years 

    Girls ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of sexual assault. 

    Gender & Race

    Estimated persons raped in lifetime by gender and race: 


    17.7 percent of white women

    18.8 percent of African-American women

    6.8 percent of Asian / Pacific Islander women

    34.1 percent of American Indian / Alaskan Native women

    24.4 percent mixed race women

    14.6 percent of Hispanic women


    2.8 percent of white men

    3.3 percent of African-American men

    4.4 percent of mixed race men

    The sample size was too small to estimate for Asian/ Pacific Islander and American Indian / Alaskan Native men

    The Offenders

    Almost 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.

    23 percent of rapists are an intimate

    3 percent are another relative

    38 percent are a friend or acquaintance

    31 percent are a stranger

    6 percent are unknown

    Only about 6 percent of rapists ever serve a day in jail. 

    The average age of an arrested rapist is 31 years old.

    0.6 percent are 17 years old or younger

    54.6 percent are 18 to 29 years old

    28.6 percent are 30 to 39 years old

    8.9 percent are 40 to 49 years old

    7.3 percent are 50 years old or older

    Marital status of arrested rapists

    22.1 percent are married

    1.2 percent are widowed

    28.5 percent are divorced

    6.2 percent are separated

    42 percent are never married


  • 15CarolinaBibleIn 1973, local pastor Dr. Bill Owens saw a need in the Christian community and acted on it. He opened the Cape Fear School of Theology because he wanted to make a difference, to find a way to give fellow Christians of all denominations the skills and understanding they needed to answer the call to service put forth in the Bible. Forty-three years later, the institution continues with this mission. It has undergone some name changes and recently expanded its facilities. On March 17, at 2 p.m. there will be a dedication service recognizing the new upgrades across the campus.

    From a single classroom with a handful of students to a state-of-the-art facility with accredited programs of study, Carolina College of Biblical Studies continues to touch lives and equip people to go out and fulfill their calling. “We are not just for pastors,” said CCBS Dean of Online Studies Dr. Chris Dickerson. “A lot of our students are lay leaders. They teach Sunday school. They have ministries that they develop and grow, or some just want a degree. Most of our students are lifelong learners. Students still take English, writing, math and other basic courses, but our focus is on the Bible. We teach the Old and New Testament and the history of the Bible as well as how to read and make sense of it. We also do book studies.”

    Dickerson went on the say that if someone believes the Bible is sacred, there is a greater degree of appreciation for it.  When people read the Bible, often it is from a modern American perspective. “But it was written 2,000 years ago in an eastern culture,” he said. “Part of what we do is try to teach it with those understandings. How would a Jew understand that same text 2,000 years ago? What were the current events of the time?  What were the manners? The customs? How did the culture work? The Bible means what it meant originally, and helping people understand that is what we do.” 

    It is especially rewarding to learn later how the college has impacted students’ lives and communities. CCBS students have gone on to build ministries all over the world, including Africa, Cambodia, Mexico and Columbia. “We don’t necessarily want numbers. We want impact,” said Dickerson.

    The dedication service on March 17 represents an exciting time for the college. It marks the completion of a $2 million renovation that has tripled the usable space on the campus. And it has been paid for in full. 

    “Our library tripled in space. Now we can expand it, too.  We have a legitimate first-class library. It will hold 18,000 volumes, and we are working to fill it up,” said Dickerson.  The new space hIt has small group meeting rooms and terminals.  It has fixed classrooms. “We have classes four times a day. With those times, plus added space, we can triple our enrollment and still have space. Our vision is to train men and women to be leaders and servants, and now we can help more people do that. Now, it looks like a college. It raises the bar a little bit and makes us look more reputable. We are not a fly by night place. We are an accredited college.”

    On-campus degrees include an Associate of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies. Classes run for 11 weeks and are offered four times a year. Online courses include an Associate of Arts in Leadership and Ministry, a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Ministry, an Associate of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies. Online courses start every five weeks.

    CCBS also offers a tuition-free class to the community on how to study the Bible. The only cost to take the class is a $60 book fee. The tuition for this course is waived, although there is a book fee of $60. “We offer it on campus and online,” said Dickerson. “If we can train people to study the Bible and understand it, chances are it will make an impact on them and how they live their lives. That is our gift to the community. Now they understand how to read and appreciate and apply the Bible. “

    Prospective students are invited to reach out to CCBS at ccbs.edu, or by calling (910) 323-5614.  The college does host about eight “Preview Days” a year. People RSVP to come. It starts at 6 p.m. “We feed them dinner, there is a Q&A session and a presentation. We have a campus tour and sit in on half of a class,” said Dickerson. “Then the admissions team is there if they want to ask further questions. That is a neat way to learn about the college.”

  • 14coslogo 280greenStudents and teachers often have a unique relationship. When it’s good it can be magical. When it’s not, well… On March 24, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers in conjunction with the Campbellton Youth Chorus present The Student and the Teacher at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

    The concert features the works of Vaugh, Williams, a teacher at the Royal College of Music and his not so admiring student Benjamin Britten. While it is not unusual for composers to disparage one another, Britten never held back when he had an opportunity to criticize Williams. Williams was equally uncharitable regarding his student.

    While the two men were hard pressed to say a kind word about each other, in this concert, their works complement each other. “They complement each other thematically as British composers,” said Cumberland Oratorio Singers Director Michael Martin. “Past that, they have very different styles. That in itself, is refreshing and wonderful.” 

    The performance features well-known works from each composer, including Williams’ “Serenade to Music” and Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb.”

    Martin noted that the men lived very different lives and had different influences regarding why they wrote the music they did. “Vaughn Williams came into his being later in his life and tended to look to English folk songs for his inspiration. Britten showed musical brilliance at a much younger age and tended to write for the people that were performing the work. They are both incredibly important British composers and their intersection occurred at the Royal College of Music. Vaughn Williams was on the faculty; Britten was a student. Past that, they held strong opinions of each other, and not always positive.”
    As an organization, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers have three choirs under their umbrella: the COS, the Cross Creek Chorale, and the Campbellton Youth Chorus. Sometimes, they come together as a complete organization to present different material, and this is one of those moments. “In terms of the CYC being in this concert, I would like to believe that they, and the audience, will see that singing is truly a lifelong commodity,” said Martin. “Our mission includes that inference and we are thrilled to put it all in context in this performance.”

    Founded in the 2015/16 season, the Campbellton Youth Chorus is a relatively new component of the group Cumberland Oratorio Singers. It is made up of youth ages 9-14 regardless of school affiliation, ethnicity, socio-economic background or religion. The goal of the organization is to help participants and audience members develop a lifelong appreciation of and participation in great choral music. Members of the youth chorus get to work with a range of choral music, both sacred and secular. The group accepts members regardless of school affiliation, ethnicity, socio-economic background or religion. “Since we do not have the youth in every concert, it’s nice to have them do a part of the concert. This concert will actually feature each part of the organization equally, which is what is both special and great about this COS concert,” said Martin. “The COS represents our Fayetteville community. We have singers from all ages and all walks of life in this group. What drives their passion is choral music and they do it quite well. This has earned them the honor of being in the 2017 class of inductees into the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame.”

    The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Visit http://singwithcos.org for more details.

  • 13Cape Fear Vineyard Winery Elizabethtown NC 5 main.1458076384The Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery is a new destination resort. It opened in the spring of 2016 in Elizabethtown. It combines all of the elegance and amenities of a beautiful resort with an element of refined agro-tourism from the winding grapevines that support the winery. The beautiful manicured gardens, lakeside amphitheater and pavilion make the area particularly suited to host stunning events of all kinds and weddings. March 19 is the perfect opportunity for the community to explore the Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery and enjoy the Champagne Bridal Showcase, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. “We are here to inform, enlighten and let the guests discover the ambiance of this extraordinary venue and its amazing diversity,” Executive Director Corky Chaple explained. 

    The Bridal Showcase is the perfect way to explore both vineyard and winery. It is designed to allow brides to explore everything the venue has to offer in the form of a fun and adventurous afternoon. There will be complimentary mimosas and horse-drawn carriage rides to show off the beautiful landscape, including one of the largest camellia exhibits in the state. Chaple invited attendees to “…explore the immaculately landscaped grounds with unique water features — discover the wonders of our private art collection — and meet our ‘critters’: mini ponies & llamas, majestic white swans and dazzling peacocks!” 

    Wedding-oriented vendors who are specifically invited to participate comprise another important aspect of the showcase. Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery carefully selected each vendor based on their exceptional work and impeccable reputations. Chaple said that interacting with vendors is one of the most valuable opportunities that the showcase has to offer. “Interview all of the vendors and learn from them” Chaple advised. “Let their long experience work for you — then compare and choose the one with whom you are most comfortable. Remember — they work for you!”

    Admission to the Champagne Bridal Showcase is free for everyone and includes complimentary gift bags. “The complimentary bags are a muted burlap reusable monogrammed tote filled with goodies provided by each vendor. The vendors are also donating prizes, which will be raffled off throughout the show,” Chaple said.

    There will also be a complimentary tasting of the estate wines. There is an idea in the culinary world that products reflect the soil and the environment in which they were cultivated. There is something truly incredible about enjoying a product while admiring the very landscape that nurtured it. The Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery embraces this idea. Guests are encouraged to enjoy estate wines while relaxing on the private lakefront cottage decks just a short walk from the vineyards. 

    The landscape, while stunning, is not all that this venue has to offer. There are also incredible amenities like the full-service restaurant. There is also the Gallery Ballroom that is uniquely decorated. It has, “Sparkling chandeliers made from wine barrels and hand-laid Tuscan stone walls infused with rich burnt pine logs that display an unparalleled eclectic collection of private artwork; artwork by masters like Dali and Picasso, as well as celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney and Janice Joplin. There’s also a multitude of memorabilia from stars including Elvis!” Chaple said. Visit www.capefearwinery.com for more information.

  • 12DINA 17When applying to be a Guest Conductor for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, Dina Gilbert knew she wanted to honor those who serve. She wanted to center Fayetteville’s military community and dedicate the concert to Fort Bragg and all civil service members. The concert she will conduct on March 25, closing out FSO’s 2016-2017 season, is appropriately titled Heroes Among Us.

    The early stages of Gilbert’s journey towards conducting involved the military. At age 12, she started playing clarinet and joined the Cadet Program in her hometown of Saint-Georges de Beauce, Canada. In this program, she had her first chance to conduct marching bands and to participate in the International Festival of Quebec Military Music — through which she met military musicians from around the world. At age 18, she joined the Reserve in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Cadet Instructor Cadre Officer, working to give youth the same opportunities she had, and having more opportunities to conduct throughout. 

    But she didn’t yet realize that conducting could be her full-time profession. She enrolled in an optional conducting class as she later pursued an Undergraduate degree in clarinet. It was there she met a professional orchestra conductor for the first time, Paolo Bellomia. “After a few classes, he said to me that I had an intuitive way of communicating music through gesture and he offered to give me private lessons. From that point on, I realized that I wanted to become a conductor... and that passion never left me since,” Gilbert said.

    Gilbert has now founded her own chamber orchestra, Ensemble Arkea; served for three seasons as assistant conductor of the Symphonic Orchestra of Montreal; and served as a guest conductor for orchestras throughout Canada, Europe and China. She made her US debut last year at the Eugene Symphony in Oregon. 

    The 2016-2017 season has been unique for the FSO, as they are in the process of finding a new permanent music conductor. To find this person, the FSO board has introduced a new guest conductor for each concert this season; Gilbert will be the 5th and last auditioning candidate. Fouad Fakhouri served in the position for 11 years and stepped down almost one year ago. “He took it from being a community orchestra to a professional orchestra,” Director of Artistic Operations and Marketing Julia Atkins said. So they want to make sure his replacement is truly excellent. “The board chose their favorite candidates and built a season around their unique talents and interests,” Atkins said. FSO President Christine Kastner spoke of her excitement about Gilbert’s approach: “We were so pleased that she had researched our area well enough to understand the significance of the military in our community and that she decided to program a concert that demonstrated that understanding,” she said.

    In preparing for Heroes Among Us, Gilbert combined many lenses of interpretation. She included Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 3,” often subtitled “Eroica,” which means “Heroic.” “The symphony is quite romantic in sound … there are so many ideals in it. You can feel that Beethoven wanted to write a piece about the kind of man who would contribute to history changing.” she said. Joshua Busman, PhD in musicology, professor at UNC Pembroke and “FSO Music Nerd,” agrees: “One of the primary things that I love about orchestral music is the way that it connects us to the past. Reading about the [French Revolution] might give you some idea of what was going on at the time, but listening to Beethoven’s Eroica … connects you to those moments in history in a profound and visceral way.” 

    But this isn’t just a concert of classical odes to heroism, timeless as they may be. Gilbert also asked her colleague Simon Leclerc, who is well known for composing music for films and pop artists, to arrange Ramin Djawadi’s Game of Thronestheme. “I wanted people who are less acquainted to classical music to realize that maybe they already do know and like classical music,” Gilbert said. Gilbert also asked Leclerc to compose a new piece in tribute to military members and the experiences they go through. “You can feel from the music (Leclerc created) the aspiration of the soldier and also the sad and the fearful moments … and how it is to come back and what you’re so blessed with after all the experiences.” 

    Gilbert has included other musical delights that you’ll have to attend to find out about! Tickets can be purchased at https://squareup.com/market/fayetteville-symphony-orchestra. They cost $10.28 for children and students, $22.43 for military members and senior citizens and $25.23 for adults. The show will be held at Huff Concert Hall of Methodist University on March 25, starting at 7:30 p.m. 

  • 13The Moore BuildingFayetteville’s historic Prince Charles Hotel may one day be brought back to life as a dynamic downtown centerpiece. For many years, the once-prosperous hospitality property has been anything but. Several attempts at repurposing the eight-story building have failed. A Durham developer, Prince Charles Holdings, believes it can breathe new life into the 90-year-old structure. It purchased the building and adjoining parking lot at auction in 2014 for $200,000. Michael Cohen, an advocate of historic preservation, is the lead investor for the project. 

    “I’m excited about the opportunity to bring one of Fayetteville’s most iconic buildings back to life and contribute to the revitalization process already underway in downtown Fayetteville,” Cohen said. He’s awaiting final approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for a low interest loan to begin the work of refurbishing the once proud hotel. The firm hopes to begin reconstruction this summer. 

    Fayetteville City Council believes the repurposed hotel building, along with an adjacent $33 million minor league baseball stadium, will be the economic catalyst for $100 million in economic investments on only nine acres of inner-city property. “That whole area around the hotel is going to be developed into retail and commercial space,” said Mayor Nat Robertson. “It will also include additional apartments and a hotel,” he added. Planning is nearing completion for construction of the stadium and the property around it.

    Almost unnoticed has been the redevelopment of a couple dozen heretofore vacant buildings in the downtown area. The first block of Person Street has come to life with historic updating. Along the south side of West Russell Street, smaller buildings have been repurposed into offices. Larger commercial buildings left vacant for decades have been restored, cleaned up and reoccupied. The Moore Building at 215 Williams Street has spawned investor interest in a once-impoverished section of town. It houses two or three small businesses and a large, open social hall. Down the street, at 159 Maxwell Street, the Greater Fayetteville Chamber occupies a building built as a warehouse more than a century ago. “It was put to many uses over the years, and before being occupied by the Chamber, it was Zimmerman Millwork and Cabinetry,” said City Historian Bruce Daws. 

    At 112-114 Gillespie, Street, Sherefe Mediterranean Restaurant used to be Fayetteville Drug Company before it closed many years ago. It was built in 1891, according to Daws. Historic tax credits assisted property owners in making financial investment that made these facilities useable once again. The investments were good for local government, too, since they enhanced the tax value of the properties. 

    Of particular interest, on Bragg Boulevard near W. Rowan Street just outside downtown, is a former gas station, which is now a used car lot. “It was built as a service station by the Rankin Family after World War II,” said Daws. Because of its historic significance, the N.C. Department of Transportation spared the building while demolishing everything around it to build the new Rowan Street bridges and realign Bragg Boulevard, Murchison Road and Rowan Street. “We hope to acquire the building and restore its historic significance,” said City Manager Doug Hewett. 

  • 11Charles Kimble 2Many career law enforcement officers have an ambition to make a chase to the top … to be a chief. Many local folks wondered why now retired Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock would leave the Charlotte/Mecklenburg P.D. to come to Fayetteville. He was a Deputy Chief in the queen city and had twice as many officers under his command in his area of responsibility as there are in the Fayetteville Police Department. Yet Medlock applied for and was chosen to succeed Chief Tom Bergamine, who was a protégé of former Chief Ron Hansen. It was an opportunity for Medlock to finally make his way to the top. 

    Interim Fayetteville Police Chief Anthony Kelly, an assistant chief, has decided to toss his hat in the ring to succeed Medlock even though just a couple of weeks ago City Manager Doug Hewett launched a national search for the top cop’s job.  Many members of city council and senior commanders in the department hope Kelly will be selected. He’s a hometown man having grown up here. He got his degree at Fayetteville State University and knows the city inside and out. He’s been a policeman for 20 years. 

    Another top Fayetteville cop, Charles Kimble, has also climbed the law enforcement ladder of success. He was recently sworn in as Spring Lake’s Chief of Police. He succeeded Troy McDuffie, who had been chief of a smaller town, and before that served for years in the Fayetteville Police Department. There’s just something about the lure to be a chief. Like the others, Kimble has been in law enforcement almost all his adult life. He spent three years in the Army, and in 1991 joined the P.D. in Milwaukee, WI, his hometown. He spent four years on the force. Then he and his wife, Yon, came to Fort Bragg in 1995. She was then a recent college ROTC graduate with a commission in the Army. “I was able to join the Fayetteville Police Force as a lateral entry because Milwaukee’s standards at the time were higher than the F.P.D,” Kimble said. 

    Kimble rose through the ranks over 20 years to become an assistant chief. He regards the late Chief Tom McCarthy and Medlock as his mentors, and hopes to further develop community policing in Spring Lake. In 2015, Kimble left the F.P.D. to become Chief of Fayetteville State University’s Department of Police and Public Safety. He said he “wanted to return to urban policing” and applied for the Spring Lake chief’s post when McDuffie retired. One of his first goals “is to modernize internal operations of the department with emphasis on traffic and accident management and prevention.” Kimble says 60,000 cars travel through the NC 210/87 ‘split’ each day. He says massive construction projects along Bragg Boulevard should be completed in May or June. 


  • Shaw Heights Annexation05Gregory St Church

    A growing chorus of Fayetteville City Council members is publicly opposing the annexation of Shaw Heights. So, how did the proposal get in the legislative hopper in Raleigh? “No one on council requested legislation which would allow the city to forcibly annex Shaw Heights,” said Mayor Nat Robertson. It turns out Rep. Elmer Floyd (Democrat - Cumberland County) sponsored the bill following a joint meeting between the local legislative delegation and city council. Robertson said Floyd took it upon himself without first speaking with individual council members. The mayor is one of at least three members who do not favor annexing the large, unincorporated doughnut hole off Shaw and Murchison Rds. It’s in the county, and Robertson wants to know why county government hasn’t paid more attention to the needs of the residents. “They have an inspections department; they have housing standards,” Robertson said. “How would the people benefit from annexation?” he asks. To be seriously considered in the state house of Representatives, Floyd’s local bill would need unanimous support of city council. He did not respond when asked for comments.


    06Rodney Scott Mug ShotAdditional Charges Against Serial Pedophile 

    Another victim of Rodney Scott has come forward to allege he was molested by the former school basketball coach. The youth is Scott’s eighth victim, police said. One hundred five additional charges have been filed against him, including 21 counts each of statutory sex offense against a child by a defendant who is at least six years older than the victim, sexual activity by a substitute parent, child abuse, crime against nature and taking indecent liberties with a child. Scott remains in the Cumberland County Detention Center. His total bond is now more than $21 million. The police department first became aware of Scott in May of last year. Detectives were informed of a sexual assault that occurred at a home on Vestal Avenue. The juvenile victim said Scott had sexually assaulted him. He was charged then with statutory sex offense with a child. Soon after that, the police department received dozens of calls from people with information about Scott. Until his arrest, he had earned a reputation as a pillar of his community. He was a substitute teacher for Cumberland County Schools. He became a Safe Schools Coordinator and volunteer assistant basketball coach at Pine Forest High School.  

    07Bill Cashwell SchoolFacebook Post Deserving of Special Note

    “So many awesome visitors in the house today at Elizabeth Cashwell (Elementary School)! They came to serve our students breakfast for national school breakfast week! City of Fayetteville Council Member Bill Crisp, Cumberland County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe, Mayor Nat Robertson, CEO of the United Way of Cumberland County Robert Hines, Bill Bowman, Publisher of Up & Coming Weekly, and many more! Also, a shoutout to our fab Principal Kim Robertson and Christina Osborne with her cafe crew for starting our students off right every day!”







    08InasmuchNew Operation Inasmuch Facility

    A new facility for homeless men has opened on Hillsboro Street across from Operation Inasmuch. It’s known as The Lodge and is described as a commercial grade, one-story dormitory-style building. “Our mission is to be an effective, efficient transformational program providing integrated services to meet the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional needs of the homeless and very low income,” said Executive Director Sue Byrd. The Lodge has 40 single metal beds, four of which are designed for special needs occupants. The building has five standard restrooms, two handicap-accessible restrooms and a laundry. It was built at the cost of nearly $500,000 in donated funds. Supervision is provided 24/7. An office for the police department’s liaison officer to the homeless is located in the shelter. For additional security, a real-time camera provides 360-degree coverage of the property and is monitored at police headquarters.





    09FayBusinessFayetteville Business & Professional League

    Building capacity and opportunity is the theme for 2017 among members of a reinvigorated Fayetteville Business & Professional League, now in its 49th year of service. League President Thaddeus “TJ” Jenkins spoke at a news conference announcing new directions for the league. “I hope to help and influence our community just as my mentor and past president, the late Floyd Shorter had done,” said Jenkins. He noted Booker T. Washington was a key proponent of African-American business and was one of the founders of the National Negro Business League. “We must not be overlooked for contract opportunities,” Jenkins declared. He said he wants to keep businesses connected and be better positioned to earn business with the City of Fayetteville. He noted that 48 percent of contracts with the city this fiscal year have gone to out of state businesses. Jenkins remarks were timely, as city council is putting emphasis on steering opportunities to local and minority companies. 

    10UWUnited Way and PWC

    The United Way of North Carolina has honored Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission with its Spirit of North Carolina Award for outstanding support of the United Way. The Spirit Award recognizes companies and their employees who demonstrate campaign excellence and community commitment. This is the 11th time since 2004 that PWC has won the award. In 2016, PWC employees pledged $113,985. A record high 99.1 percent of PWC’s 604 employees made contributions. United Way of Cumberland County funds 109 programs offered by 19 agencies.  PWC Senior Customer Programs Officer Mark Brown, Director of Financial Planning Rhonda Haskins and Budget Manager Rhonda Graham serve on the local United Way Board.

  • 04PWCFayetteville area businesses need to attend the Building Business Rally early next month for a shot at doing business with the Fayetteville Public Works Commission or other local government entities.

    For the second year, the PWC is hosting the Building Business Rally. This year it’s on Thursday, April 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the utility’s Operations Center, 955 Old Wilmington Road.

    The Building Business Rally gives local businesses a chance to see how PWC and local government agencies are planning to spend your money. And it will give them an opportunity to meet the people whobuy goods and services for those agencies.

    It’s a free event. But you have to be a local business that offers equipment, supplies or professional services. Or you have to be a prime contractor or subcontractor. Did I say it’s free?

    During this meet and greet drop-in event vendors can get an idea of what  supplies, equipment or services PWC and local government need. Others expected to attend include the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, Cumberland County Schools, N.C. Department of Transportation, N.C. Department of Administration, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and several other local agencies.

    The buyers for those agencies will give attendees information about how you sell to them. It’s government so there’s a registration process and oodles of paperwork, but it could be well worth it.


    For example, Carolyn Justice-Hinson, PWC’s spokeswoman, said, “We spend about $1.2 million locally a month.”

    The Building Business Rally is one of PWC’s initiatives that will help grow the local economy.  PWC hosted the first such event last July. Thirteen of the 35 businesses attending that event now do business with PWC. But Hinson isn’t sure if they were “first time” vendors or had done business with our Hometown Utility.

    Among PWC, city and county government, there’s about $600 million worth of projects on their respective to do lists for the next several years. 

    For instance, PWC is still churning away at building sewer and water mains down the middle of residential streets in the Big Bang Annexation area. 

    Then there’s overall upkeep of water and sewer facilities, and moving water and sewer pipes when the state highway department wants to widen a road. I’m sure the utility is still licking its wounds and making repairs from damages brought on by Hurricane Matthew.

    The city is getting ready to spend your tax dollars on more swimming pools, splash pads and other recreational amenities approved in last year’s $35 million bond referendum. And in case you haven’t heard, the city also is building a baseball stadium.

    I hope the city  continues work on storm drainage problems, fixing roads damaged by Hurricane Matthew and working on alleviating the frustrations of driving in Fayetteville traffic. There also is the construction of a new fire station on the horizon. Fayetteville is growing, folks.

    And I’m sure the cash-strapped county remains committed to working on its limited water and sewer projects in rural Cumberland County.

    Basically, there’s work to be had for construction-related companies and their suppliers. And for engineers, project managers, tree and vegetation removal companies and a host of other related jobs. The best part is that local businesses can get a shot at some of that business.

    But the only way to get a piece of the pie is to come attend the event on Thursday, April 6, and get your business registered to bid on upcoming opportunities. 

  • 03GreekThink your family situation is messy? Don’t waste your money on years of therapy. Read this column instead. The Greek gods had it worse than you, or even Clark Griswold when Cousin Eddie showed up uninvited for Christmas. When you see what was doing with the Greek gods, your own family will seem as normal as Leave it to Beaver. Let us take a walk down memory lane into the wonderful world of Greek mythology to visit our old friend Theseus and the innkeeper to the stars, Procrustes.

    Theseus had two daddies. But it’s not what you think. Daddy Number One was Aegeus the king of Athens who was married to the beautiful and frisky Aethra. One night Aegeus got drunk and made whoopee with Aethra. Being a bit of an insensitive male slob, Aegeus passed out afterwards. Aethra was not through partying for the night. She waded out to a nearby island and made whoopee with Daddy Number Two — Poseidon the Sea god. Aethra became pregnant with Theseus who had two daddies — Aegeus who was mortal and Poseidon who was immortal.

    Neither Aegeus nor Poseidon were stick around kind of daddies. They both abandoned Theseus to be raised by single mom Aethra. Once Theseus grew to manhood, Aethra told him about his daddy being King Aegeus and how to claim his rightful birthright. As part of the deal, Theseus had to move a big rock and take the sword and sandals that Aegeus had buried there to prove Aegeus was his baby daddy. Naturally, Theseus moved the rock and headed out to Athens with the sword and sandals. Unsurprisingly, there was going to be trouble on the road in the form of bad guys.

    The first bad hombre Thesueus met was Periphetes, whose weapon of choice was a big club he used to beat travelers into the mud. Theseus grabbed the club and smote Periphetes into a big puddle of bandit pulp. Next up was Sinis who hung out at the door to the Underworld. Sinis’ thing was to catch travelers and tie them between two bent pine trees. Sinus would then release the pine trees which would split the traveler into two more or less equal sections, causing them to expire. Theseus outsmarted Sinis, pulling the old switcheroo using the pine tree method on Sinus. To add insult to Sinis’ injury, Theseus impregnated Sinis’ daughter Perigune.

    Down the road a piece, Theseus ran into and fought a giant pig, the Crommyonian Sow.  We are talking big pigs. The Crommyonian Sow was pork enough to feed all of the N.C. State Fair attendees for ten years. Theseus enjoyed a pig picking and kept on moving towards Athens.

    Next on the road was a geriatric robber named Sciron who had a foot fetish. Sciron hung out on a narrow path that went along the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean. When a traveler came along the path, Sciron would not let him pass until the traveler had washed Sciron’s gnarly feet. As the traveler was bent over washing Sciron’s disgusting toes, Sciron would kick them off the cliff into the ocean far below. Once in the water the unfortunate traveler would become sushi and be eaten by a giant turtle. Naturally our man Theseus shoved Sciron off the cliff to become turtle food.

    The last guy Theseus met on the road to Athens was Procrustes the Stretcher with his iron bed. Procrustes was a seemingly friendly dude who invited travelers to spend the night at his place. Procrustes was the spiritual father of the Bates Motel where Norman Bates and his mom welcomed weary travelers in with gently smiling jaws. Procrustes’ quirk was that he wanted his guests to have a bed that fit them. If the bed was too short Procrustes would chop off the legs of the guest to make the guest fit the bed. If the bed was too long, Procrustes would pull out his Acme brand rack and stretch the guest to fit the bed. Theseus was hip to the evil plan. He forced Procrustes to lie on the bed himself and undergo the adjustment meant for travelers.

    Procrustes lives on in the concept of the Procrustean Bed which essentially holds that to get to the solution being sought, you change the facts to fit your desired end result. The Procrustean Bed theory is used by The Donald every day in the White House. The Procrustean Bed is now called Kellyanne’s Amazing Alternative Facts. Change the facts to reach the outcome you want. Meeting the Russians is not meeting the Russians. Obama not wire tapping Trump is Obama wiretapping Trump. Look! Over there! Squirrel!

    Now don’t you feel better about your own family?

  • 02FlotusAll the world is on pins and needles as President Trump’s domestic and foreign policies unfold. The Russians! Affordable Health Care replacement! Early morning Tweets accusing his predecessor of illegal wiretapping! Who can begin to imagine what might come next?

    Weighty matters aside, every new presidency brings with it change in all aspects of the White House. The areas traditionally focused on the First Lady are closely watched as well. While our new First Lady, Melania Trump, has been nowhere nearly as vocal or unpredictable as her husband, she is leaving observers guessing about what she will do and how she will do it.

    Her predecessor, Michelle Obama, was noted for her fashion choices. She wore young American designers and jump-started a few careers that are now booming. She made a point on important state occasions of wearing clothing designed by someone from the country being honored. She also made a point of wearing clothes available to the rest of us — sweaters from J. Crew and sundresses from Target, and she saw to it that her daughters did as well.

    Our new First Lady is a former model — usually with clothes on, but sometimes without, so it is understandable that fashionistas around the world are curious as to her White House style. Fashion enthusiasts may remember her Voguecover posing in her $100,000 wedding gown, but thus far in her husband’s presidency, she has favored monochromatic ensembles with high heels and long, flowing tresses. White and red seem to be favorite colors, though she did choose a Carolina blue suit for her husband’s inauguration. Another question is who will design Mrs. Trump’s First Lady wardrobe. American designers and fashion industry titans generally supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, and several even fundraised for her. That leaves open the questions of whether Mrs. Trump might hold a grudge and whether some in the industry will decline to work with her. 

    My guess and my hope is that everyone will do some metaphorical kissing and making up. America’s First Ladies, particularly Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan and Michelle Obama, have been big boosters of the American fashion industry. As a beauty and a former model, Melania Trump is an ideal person for this particular responsibility. She is, after all, married to one of our nation’s most famous business tycoons, and she was entrepreneurial herself earlier in their marriage. As Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey sang so memorably in Cabaret, “money makes the world go round.”

    Then there is food.

    Former President Bill Clinton was famous for his fast food tastes, but he reformed and is now a vegan. President Trump has had no such epiphany. The New York Timesreports our new president’s favorite foods include Kentucky Fried chicken, McDonald’s, Diet Coke and meatloaf. He drinks no coffee, tea or alcohol.

     So what about White House entertaining, from casual and private to the ultimate in formality, a state dinner? President Trump has joked about doing away with them in favor of working lunches in order to make “better deals.” Will there be no wine in the White House, a la former President Jimmy Carter?

    The truth is no one really knows, because such planning is traditionally part of the unpaid First Lady’s job, and she is still in New York while their young son completes the school year. Michelle Obama was known for her White House vegetable garden with heirloom tomatoes both to serve at the White House and to promote her campaign for healthy eating. The New York Times reported last week that Mrs. Trump is keeping the garden, but she has not said much else about things in the kitchen. So, for the time being at least, the White House is operating much as it has for the last eight years, although it is known that Mrs. Trump supports eating lots of fruit and drinking lots of water.

    She has lots of history to borrow from if she chooses, ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt’s abandonment of things domestic to the point that guests ate before going to dinner at the White House because the food was so bad to Jacqueline Kennedy’s keenness for French wine and cuisine. In between, Mamie Eisenhower demanded thrifty use of leftovers, and later Ronald Reagan and George Bush the First introduced the nation to Jelly Bellies and pork rinds.

    Melania Trump is keeping the home fires burning in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, but there is no shortage of interest in what she will do once she takes up her volunteer responsibilities as First Lady. My guess is she is going to do exactly what her husband is doing. 

    She will be a first lady on her own terms, whatever they may be.

  • 01PubPenThe topic of last Saturday’s meeting of Cumberland County Citizens United focused on the communities of Shaw Heights and Julie Heights. The presentations, discussions and information provided were to assist Fayetteville and Cumberland County residents in determining whether these poor, scarcely populated, run-down and nearly forgotten pieces of Cumberland County geography were worthy of annexation into the City of Fayetteville. 

    Well, it was a very interesting and informative session with the pros and cons pretty much balancing each other out. For me, the highlight was the main presentation by District 8 City Councilman Ted Mohn. He was masterful in his explanation and delivery of what is a very important, intricate and delicate issue. The annexation question of Shaw Heights/Julie Heights showcased perfectly Mohn’s ability to analyze and articulate even the most complicated of issues. He recently announced he would not seek another term on the council. And that is unfortunate. Now, more than ever, the City needs his kind of insight and level-headed intelligence. 

    In addition to Mohn, there were others on hand providing helpful information and explanations. State Representative Elmer Floyd, who introduced the Shaw Heights annexation bill, was on hand and spoke of the bill’s intention to provide governmental consistency that would allow for greater fairness and opportunities for economic growth and development, moving Fayetteville/Cumberland County forward.

     Wade Fowler was also present to represent PWC and explained the intricacies and cost of adding water and sewer service to residential and commercial projects and the various finance options that may or may not be available in the near future. 

    City Councilman Bill Crisp was on hand. His position on the Shaw Heights annexation was muted. Even though Crisp is not a fan of forced annexation, he has made it clear he will not stand in the way of progress and will support whatever initiatives are recommended if they are in the best interest of Fayetteville residents. Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson feels pretty much the same way. He has empathy for the residents of Shaw and Julie Heights. He knows and understands their limited resources and he does not want to cause them undue financial or mental stress. Robertson takes his commitments and promises seriously. He has stood steadfast in opposition to forced annexation. This being said, I see no bigger advocate for the citizens of Shaw and Julie Heights and for whatever resources, plans or ideas that will enhance economic development, increase the tax base while enriching the lives of Fayetteville residents. There is so much potential in this area.  

    Conspicuously absent from this important conversation was anyone from Cumberland County. No Commissioners. Extremely disappointing from the point of view that a great opportunity does exist here with the issue to “annex or not annex” Shaw Heights. Think about it: When approaching Fayetteville from Spring Lake, this portion of Fayetteville and Cumberland County could be a beautiful – impressive – Gateway into Fayetteville. To me, it resembles a huge blank canvas waiting for a talented artist to engage in painting a creative Gateway masterpiece. And, on the artist’s paint palette are all the necessary resources to make it a reality, unobstructed. The only thing needed to make this
    a reality is cooperation. 

    Cooperation between the city and the county. Cooperation, communication and teamwork. Those elusive traits that serve as the fuel for progress. Fuel? Perhaps our local governments have been running on empty for way too long. This would explain our inability to retain our citizens, grow our tax base and attract new business and economic development.  I will close with this request: I implore our local leadership to use this Shaw Height situation as an opportunity to demonstrate to the citizens and taxpayers of this county that collectively you have the ability to “do the right things, for the right reasons” while demonstrating that not all things the city and county engage in have to be partisan or controversial. 

    With so many wonderful developments happening on the horizon, i.e. new parks and recreation enhancements, a baseball stadium, Civil War Education Center, a revitalized Downtown, the prospect of a performing arts center and the recent community-based initiative Vision 2026, we do not need any distractions. Distractions will only impede our progress, and progress is what we want to be all about. Thank you for reading U&CW. If you have a comment or opinion, feel free to email us or contact us on Facebook. We love hearing from our readers.

  • Mr. Bowman,

    Perhaps if you used a different word than “illegal,” you might find a little more compassion for people who are looking for a better way of life by coming to this country, founded on immigrants looking for a better way of life.

    Try using the word “undocumented.”  People are not “illegal” or “alien.”

    Think of undocumented people fleeing for their lives, having watched their families die in terror.

    Think of undocumented people who fear what will happen to their families if they are deported.

    Think of undocumented people who face certain death if they are deported.

    Think of undocumented people willing to cross the border to find work, work which many documented people in this country will not stoop to.

    Think of the word “privilege,” which you seem to forget. We have many privileges living in this country. We have many jobs that are filled with people who do not have privilege but are willing to work to live here.

    Try using different words.

    — Anne Smiley


    Mr. Bowman,

    This is a sore subject for me, Bill. Not to be a stick in the mud, but if something is against the law, the appropriate word is “illegal.” 

    My great grandparents came here seeking a better life, fleeing crushing poverty and crime in Eastern Europe — along with many others in desperate circumstances. They crossed a freaking ocean in the belly of an overcrowded ship to get here not knowing what would greet them on the shores of America. But they came anyhow, filled with hope and eager to assimilate. They showed up with a couple bucks, didn’t know a soul, didn’t know the language and had nowhere to go — like many of todays’s immigrants. The difference is, they did it legally and were able to build a life here without having to look over their shoulder or live in fear. 

    No one gave them money, food stamps, free medical care or a free college education for their trouble, either. They found work as laborers and coal miners and lived in tenement houses and ghettos. They worked hard and played by the rules, determined to give their children a better life, a future filled with possibilities and with hope.

    No one felt sorry for them and they didn’t expect anything from anyone. They latched onto every opportunity that came their way and worked hard to improve their lot. Eighty years later, I was the first member on that side of  family to graduate from college, where I worked three jobs to pay my way through and considered myself lucky to have that opportunity.

    We do have many privileges in this country. Privileges that my  grandfather, my dad, my uncle and my father-in-law defended as service members in the armed forces and that my husband is still defending at the expense of my marriage and my children’s relationship with their father — to ensure that people have the freedom to say whatever is on their mind.

    If someone has an issue with this country’s immigration policy, though, advocating to change the system would be more useful than suggesting we soften our words to make them less offensive. Calling somone “undocumented” instead of “illegal” does not change their circumstances, it only serves to make the person reading about it feel less guilty.

    — Stephanie Crider


    Mr. Bowman,

    My opinion is the only good reporter in the National Media is Sharyl Attkisson.  The recent article by Janice Burton puts her in the same category.  

    Paul Werner

  • 05RobertVanGeonsFinancil Services Firm Locates in Fayetteville

    eClerx Customer Operations announces immediate plans for a new delivery center to be located at 235 N. McPherson Church Road in Fayetteville. With more than 9,000 employees worldwide, this is the firm’s first delivery center in the US The company hopes to hire 40 employees by June 1, with additional growth projected over the next two years. eClerx Services Limited is a leading knowledge process outsourcing company providing middle/back office operations in support of over 30 Fortune 500 companies. It is headquartered in Mumbai, India, and supports a diverse global client base, including the world’s leading financial services, broadband, cable and telecom, e-commerce, industrial manufacturing and distribution, software, media and entertainment and travel companies. “Fayetteville boasts several appealing factors which we believe are critical to success, including a bustling local community with access to a diverse labor force that draws upon military families and local colleges, an overall low cost of living and reduced operating expenses,” the company said in a news release. “We are proud to have a globally engaged company like eClerx joining our local economy,” said Robert Van Geons, FCEDC President and CEO. “Projects like this wouldn’t be possible without the work of Fayetteville Technical Community College and support from the N.C. Community Colleges’ NCWorks program,” he added.

    06ShawcroftRdShawcroft Road Temporary Repairs Coming 

    Fayetteville City Council has appropriated $300,000 to make temporary repairs to Shawcroft Road on Fayetteville’s north side. It was heavily damaged when Hurricane Matthew blew out an underground culvert, causing the roadway to collapse. Shawcroft Road is the only entrance into the massive Kings Grant subdivision of 600 homes. District One City Councilwoman Kathy Jensen says 3,000 cars a day come and go along Shawcroft. A makeshift roadway connecting Farmers Road with Shawcroft on property owned by Cedar Falls Baptist Church was opened following the hurricane. City Engineer Gisselle Rodriguez says planning and design corners were cut, allowing permanent repairs to be made beginning in September. Needed construction materials won’t be available until then, said Rodriguez. In the meantime, a temporary culvert and road will be open from late April until mid-June. Then, Shawcroft Road will be closed again to make the permanent repairs. Officials haven’t decided yet whether to put in another culvert or a bridge.   


    07Carryn OwensKIA Navy Seal Honored by President Trump

    President Trump honored the widow of Navy Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens during his address to Congress last week. Many viewers might have wondered why the president referred to him as Senior Chief Owens. It had not been widely reported that the Navy Seal had been posthumously promoted to the enlisted rank of E-8, which is Senior Chief Petty Officer, commonly referred to as ‘senior chief.’ A posthumous promotion is an honorary advancement in rank of a person who is killed in combat. Owens was killed during a Jan. 28 raid against al-Qaida militants in Yemen. 




    08HumanTraffickOn-Going Human Trafficking Probe 

    Local and military authorities recently disrupted another human trafficking operation with the arrest of 10 subjects. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Human Trafficking Unit conducted a joint operation with Fayetteville Police, Hope Mills Police and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. “The undercover operation took place in the vicinity of Eastern Boulevard and East Mountain Drive,” said sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Sean Swain. The sting was conducted “in an attempt to identify potential victims of human trafficking and persons engaged in illegal prostitution,” Swain added. The sheriff’s office said 10 men and women were charged with solicitation of prostitution: Steven Richard Hatley, 65, of Fayetteville; Brian Keith Paige, 53, of Hope Mills; Lenward Lewis Parker Jr., 35 of Spring Lake; Theodore Michael Boone, 47, of Fayetteville; Jordan Nicole West, 25,  of Spring Lake; Sandy Renee Jones, 42, of Lumberton; Milton Donnell McLaughlin, 53, of Raeford; Thomas Ashely McKoy, 64, of Clarkton; Patricia Lee Fancher, 46, of Lumberton;  and Joseph Shaw, 34, of Fayetteville. Shaw was also charged with possession of cocaine. Sheriff’s attorney Ronnie Mitchell said, “This fight and these investigations are conducted surreptitiously and clandestinely, over the course of a significant period of time.”  



    Matching Venders with Business

    The Fayetteville Public Works Commission will host its second Building Business Rally Thursday, April 6. Local business vendors are invited to take part in the rally. They’ll be able to meet with PWC utility representatives. The event is part of the Public Works Commission’s strategic initiatives designed to improve local vendor capacity and to engage those that would like to do business with PWC. “Commissioners are keenly motivated to build local business capacity,” said Chairwoman Evelyn Shaw. Purchasing representatives with the City of Fayetteville, County of Cumberland, County Schools, the North Carolina Departments of Transportation and Administration, Greater Fayetteville Chamber and other local agencies will also participate. The Building Business Rally is a drop-in event and will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the PWC Operations Center, 955 Old Wilmington Road.


    10ArtofCouponsThe Art of Couponing

    Cumberland County Cooperative Extension Service will present the Better Living Series workshop “Couponing and Grocery Saving Basics” March 17 from noon - 1:30 p.m. at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center, 301 E. Mountain Dr., Fayetteville. WRAL TV-5’s Smart Shopper Fay Prosser will host the workshop to help teach the ins and outs of smart couponing and other cost-saving tips. Workshop registration is required. The $10 registration fee is due by March 14. For accommodations for persons with disabilities, contact Lisa Childers at (910) 321-6880 no later than five business days before the event.

  • 25Athlete1














    David Perez-Benitez Cape Fear Soccer Senior

    Perez-Benitez was a member of Cape Fear’s soccer team last fall, which was second in the Mid-South 4-A Conference with a 17-4-2 record and advanced to the state 4-A playoffs. He has a grade point average of 5.0.















    Adrianne Stevens South View Swimming Junior

    Stevens was recognized as the MVP in the conference swim meet. She qualified for regionals where she swam a personal best of 1:01.60 in the 100-yard fly. She has a grade point average of 4.15.

  • 24TerrySanSoccerTerry Sanford’s girls’ soccer team made one of its deepest state playoff runs ever in 2015. So when the 2016 playoffs began and the Bulldogs were the top seed in the 3-A East, bigger and better things were expected.

    It didn’t happen. They lost in a penalty kick shootout to Wilson Hunt in only the second round. But don’t expect coach Karl Molnar and this year’s team to dwell on that fact.

    “Right now, I think we are looking at each other and saying this is a talented group,’’ Molnar said. “We better make something happen.’’

    Numbers tell a lot of the story for this year’s Bulldog team, which opened the 2017 season with a 9-0 rout of Cape Fear that included three goals from senior captain Gracey Lewis.

    Molnar has nine seniors and seven juniors on this year’s roster. “We’re pretty talented at every position,’’ he said. “I don’t know that I attack any better than I defend. We’re pretty solid across the board.’’

    Among the most solid players on the team is Lewis. Athletics is very much in her blood, as she’s the daughter of two veteran coaches, Randy Lewis and Dotty Lewis. Although neither coached soccer, both have plenty of wisdom about preparation and gamesmanship to share with their daughter.

    “She’s a very mature kid,’’ Molnar said. “She kind of looks and understands differently from most kids. And we’ve got a bunch of type A personalities around her that believe the same things she believes.’’

    Like her coach, Lewis said the loss to Wilson Hunt last year is already forgotten. “You’ve got to move on or you’re never going to move forward,’’ she said.

    The key to success for the Bulldogs this year, said Lewis, is staying healthy. “I think our starting lineup is going to be unreal,’’ she said. “We have a lot of speed and a lot of communication. We can possess the ball this year.’’

    Lewis said she will be keeping the advice of her parents in her head as she tries to make the Bulldogs a winner again. “They like to see me work hard at everything I do,’’ she said. “If you mess up, don’t give up, get the ball back.

    “They always told me for every shot you take you have to have amnesia and forget about it so you can make the next one.’’

    As a senior and a captain, Lewis said she feels more comfortable in the role of team leader. “I have halftime speeches going through my head on how we can improve,’’ she said. “I think it runs in the genes.’’

  • 23BothCoachesIt’s the eternal question for high school football programs when the time comes for a coaching change: Do you build from within, or reach outside the school to take your team in a different direction?

    For both Terry Sanford and Jack Britt, the decision was to hire someone with a link to the program.

    Terry Sanford picked Bruce McClelland, a 1988 Terry Sanford grad currently in his second stint as an assistant coach on the school’s staff.

    Britt also turned to an assistant, a man who was with the school a few years ago but will leave E.E. Smith to return to the Buccaneers, Brian Randolph. Randolph is a Douglas Byrd graduate and played for its legendary coach Bob Paroli during his years there.

    McClelland has an obvious advantage already being in the building at Terry Sanford and serving as offensive coordinator under former head coach Bryan Till, now at Richmond Senior.

    Routines are important for high school coaches, so McClelland said you don’t need to expect many changes for now. “We’ll have the whole staff but Coach Till,’’ McClelland said. “We’ll keep things familiar so we can add to it rather than reintroduce things.’’

    As offensive coordinator last year, and with quarterback Christian Jayne returning, the Bulldogs will figure to be one of the area’s most prolific passing teams. Defensively, McClelland plans to stress bringing the pressure to the opponent.

    One of the biggest concerns will be replacing Till’s leadership in the weight room to keep the Bulldog strength training program on track. 

    When the spring conditioning period begins in a few weeks, McClelland said his focus will be on developing linemen. “We want to see how much we’ve progressed from last year and put in the basics of our system to see how the kids react to that,’’ he said.

    Randolph is only the third football coach Britt has had since opening in 2000. He worked with both his predecessors, Richard Bailey and Brian Rimpf, and is excited for the great opportunity he has to build on the legacy at Jack Britt.

    His biggest concern is how soon he’ll be able to start work at Britt. He teaches a critical math course at E.E. Smith, so finding a way for him to transition to Britt before school’s end this year won’t be easy.

    When spring conditioning begins, he wants to focus on getting students who haven’t been playing football out for the team. “I want to let them know it’s a clean slate and we’re starting from fresh,’’ he said. “We want as many numbers as we can within the parameters of what we can do.’’

    Randolph wants to run a no-huddle, up-tempo offense. He’s not set on defense, except that he wants his team to be sound fundamentally. “There are no easy weeks,’’ he said. “The schedule is tough. No days off.’’ Britt will move into the Sandhills Athletic Conference and face traditional powers Richmond Senior and Scotland as well as some of the top teams from Cumberland County.

    He plans to borrow a lesson learned from his old high school coach, Paroli, and try to field a team that is mentally tough. “He loved to make practice harder than the game,’’ Randolph said of Paroli. “If you make practice hard, the game is easy.

    “We’re going to have fun. At the end of the day, winning games is more fun.’’



  • Man, I was pumped to see The LEGO Batman Movie (104 minutes). This movie was going to redeem all the crap-tastic DC Universe films I’ve suffered through. It would be funny yet edgy, I told myself. It would showcase some of that DC humor my DC-loving friends keep insisting abounds in the comics. It would be as righteously awesome as its predecessor, The LEGO Movie, with a different but equally catchy theme song. Less angst, more Batusi — like in the 60s. At the end of the day, perhaps the weight of my expectations dragged at the film, because, quite frankly, I was bored.

    21LegoBatmanreviewThe film is set after the events of The LEGO Moviein the LEGO version of Gotham. Joker (Zach Galifianakis) is trying to destroy the city while the Gotham Brain Trust runs in circles and I try to figure out why some young gun with sniper skills doesn’t just hang out on top of a tall building and wait for his moment to become the hero of Gotham by taking Joker out for good. Whoops. Was that too dark a comment in a review of a movie aimed at kids?

    The opening sequence is highly kinetic, leading to a face-off between Joker andBatman (Will Arnett). This scene, which sets up a dichotomy between being the love of Batman’s life and his arch nemesis had potential but fell flat in execution. Maybe due to Galifianakis’ complete lack of appeal? As far as I can tell, the slightest cameo by Galifianakis manages to ruin even good movies. He’s the worst.

    Anyway, Joker takes it personally and swears vengeance. Understandably, given the relative success rates of Joker vengeance plots, instead of quaking in his Batboots, Batman opts to swing by an orphanage and pass out Batswag in celebration of his latest victory, then return home to chow down on some Lobster Thermidor. The Lobster Thermidor keeps popping up, and I spent more time than I should have trying to figure out if it was some insider joke or comic book reference. By the way, after 20 minutes of searching, I know everything about Lobster Thermidor except why it was a central plot point in the film.

    To move the plot along, Batman attends the retirement party of Commissioner Gordon and falls in love with Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), the new Commish. The Joker crashes the party along with all the villains from the classic sixties version of Batman, 1989’s Batman, Batman Returns, Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Forever, and The Batman Movie That Shall Not Be Named, and a whole lot of other Batman properties. Most notable? The Condiment King, who is, I swear, an actual Batman villain.

    The Joker surrenders and gift-wraps all the other villains for delivery to Barbara Gordon, changing Batman from a valued vigilante crucial to the safety of Gotham City into a rich poser who likes Bat-themed toys. It’s pretty funny, but that’s because I like it when cartoons make sad faces. Somewhere in there, Bruce Wayne manages to adopt Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). Perfect timing, because Batman needs a young and expendable acolyte to steal something that belongs to Superman (Channing Tatum).

    Overall, I got what I paid for. Batman, but in LEGO form! This was a decent follow-up to The LEGO Movie, the references to other Batman properties came fast and furious, and, unlike some Christopher Nolan Batman movies I could mention, the plot was both reasonably coherent and possessed internal logic. I wish the film had lived up to my expectations, but given the lofty nature of those expectations, perhaps disappointment was inevitable. P.S. I will not be watching The LEGO NINJAGO Movie. It looks stupid. 

    Now playing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.

  • 20FTCCDentalThe Dental Assisting curriculum at Fayetteville Technical Community College prepares individuals to assist a dentist and to to function as integral members of the dental team while performing chair-side, office and laboratory procedures. Students receive up-to-date training in the dental field from a CODA-accredited program. This means students who graduate from FTCC are considered DA II’s in the state of North Carolina and are eligible to perform some expanded functions in this state without paying for further training or certification. 

    Dental assisting is an exciting career that gives students a variety of options upon graduation. Those options include working in general dentistry or in a specialty field such as orthodontics, oral surgery or pediatrics, etc. Work is also available in administrative roles and through opportunities to work with dental vendors. Students who receive training in dental assisting receive the knowledge and flexibility to advance in the dental field. FTCC’s program covers instruments (general and specialty) and their functions, infection control policies and procedures, dental radiography, dental materials, dental sciences, anatomy and practice management. Students train on campus as well as through clinical rotations at dental offices in Fayetteville and the surrounding area. Rotation sites include general dentistry and specialty areas. The broad range of exposure also allows students to map out their career paths by finding their areas of interest. It also allows students the opportunity to experience different areas to facilitate mapping out their career paths and find their areas of interest. 

    As students move through their semesters at FTCC, they also prepare for the National Board examinations. Students have the option to take their exams in three sections: Infection Control, Radiation Health and Safety, and General Chairside, or students can opt to take all three exam components in one sitting. Once students pass all components, they are considered Certified Dental Assistants or CDAs, which is a national recognition. 

    Training to become a dental assistant is a one-year program that begins in the fall semester, with program completion the following summer. Most graduates have secured jobs before graduation and gained valuable hands-on experience from their clinical rotation sites. The job outlook for dental assisting shows that there will be growth in the field through at least 2024. The average salary for a North Carolina dental assistant is $38,720. Students who have advanced certification and training are more likely to have the best job prospects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

    Students interested in dental assisting are encouraged to call 910-678-8574 or email walkers@faytechcc.edu. The application process for all health programs is open from Nov. 1 through Jan. 30. Financial aid is available for qualifying students. Students will need to apply to the college first and have all academic transcripts sent to FTCC for processing. We at FTCC are excited to help get you started on the path to your new career! We look forward to having you become part of the FTCC dental family. 

  • 19ShermansMarchThe Civil War is a defining moment in America’s history. One of the most important events in the Civil War was Sherman’s March. “Sherman’s March is captivating for two reasons: it eventually signaled the end of the war, which meant freedom for slaves; and it created a swath of destruction in the South, leaving families in a destitute state. Families who experienced Sherman’s March directly told their stories to each generation, up to this day. After more than 150 years, these stories continue to resonate with those families as part of the “Lost Cause,” and it’s worn as a badge of honor,” Leisa Greathouse, Curator of Education at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, explained. On March 12, at 2 p.m., the Museum of the Cape Fear will host a presentation about this topic by the award-winning Civil War author Col. Wade Sokolosky, U.S. Army, retired.

    Fayetteville has a particular connection to Sherman’s March. “Fayetteville was an attraction for Sherman because of the North Carolina Arsenal. After leaving Savannah and heading north through South Carolina, he had the potential of many objectives of where to go next. He was bringing his Total War Policy to North Carolina. He deliberately tried to fool the Confederates with which direction he would take, but he had his eyes set for Fayetteville to raze the arsenal. It was, after all, producing weapons for the Confederacy,” Greathouse said. “Fayetteville was the starting point for what would turn out to be a series of events that led to the end of the war in North Carolina.”

    Sokolosky is a 25-year veteran of the Army and a graduate of East Carolina University. He is considered one of the state’s experts on the 1865 Carolinas Campaign. He is well known for his book No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar: Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro, March 1865.There will be books available for purchase and an autograph session at this event. His presentation is entitled In the Path of Sherman’s March: The Final Days of the Fayetteville Arsenal. “Audience members will hear about some of the finer points regarding what happened in Fayetteville when it was occupied by the Union Army under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman while simultaneously describing how the Confederate Army attempted to take a stand against Union forces at the Battle of Averasboro,” Greathouse said.

    One of the most compelling parts of Sokolosky’s work is his inclusion of first-hand accounts. “First-hand accounts give historians the best facts possible. First-hand accounts give voice to those who have come and gone before us. First-hand accounts can very often take away the guessing of what happened. First-hand accounts instill empathy,” Greathouse said. “But most of all, first-hand accounts make obscure events real. Whatever is in that first-hand account happened to a real person and not just a faceless name in a book.” For more information visit http://museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov. 

    The future of the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex continues along this Civil War theme. “The Museum of the Cape Fear is slated to become the North Carolina Civil War History Center,” Greathouse said.  “Fundraising efforts currently remain underway. Local organizers hope to break ground by 2020. The focus will be on the state-wide story of North Carolina and the Civil War, and will still include an exhibit on regional history. Historic Arsenal Park will be the setting for this one-of-a-kind attraction. Personal stories, previously uncollected, are now being sought to create exhibit content to tell a more complete and comprehensive story of North Carolina in the Civil War.”

  • 18JosalynsJogJosalyn Legg died five years ago. She was just 15 months old. “We don’t know why she passed away,” said Josalyn’s mom, Laura Legg. “You hear about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome but not Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood. It is not as prevalent as SIDS, but when it does happen in children over 12 months, it’s called SUDC.

    To honor Josalyn’s memory, her parents Laura and Duane Legg organized a 5k run/1-mile walk. The Fifth Annual Josalyn’s Jog will be held on March 11 at the Medical Arts Building in Downtown Fayetteville. 

    “The year after Josalyn died, we decided to organize a run in her memory to raise money to build a playground and to support the SUDC Foundation,” said Legg. The SUDC Foundation “is dedicated to increasing the awareness of sudden unexpected deaths in childhood and funding crucial research to better understand and prevent these tragedies. We are the only organization worldwide devoted solely to the needs of families and professionals touched by unexpected/unexplained deaths of children,” according to SUDC.org.

    The family is trying to partner with the Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department to build the playground. “I didn’t realize how expensive playgrounds are,” said Legg, noting that a medium-sized playground costs about $100,000.

    While the main event of the day is the 5k, there is also a 1k walk and activities the entire family will enjoy. The route is the flattest and fastest in Fayetteville, and the start time is a little later than most races. “We decided to start it at 10 a.m. so that people with little ones could still come out and participate in the race,” said Legg. “And even if you don’t want to be in the race, we have plenty of other things going on that will make it a fun day.”

    Guests can enjoy a rock climbing wall, face painting, a bounce house, food vendors and more.

    Several organizations, including local running clubs and churches come out to support the event. “Because it is a community event, a lot of people come together to make it possible,” said Legg. “You find out how many good people there are that want to come out and help.”

    This year, local schools are showing support as well. Students at Howard Hall have been training for this event, and Legg is expecting more than 100 students from the school to show up for the race. She noted that for many of the students it is their first 5k. Midway Middle School from Dunn is also planning to participate.

    Registration for the event is $25 for 1-mile participants and $30 for the 5k. Age groups are 10 and under; 11-14; 15-18; 19-24; 25-29; 30-34; 35-39; 40-44; 45-49; 50-54; 55-59; 60-64 and 65 and above. Race packet pickup and late registration are at La Cocina Mexican Restaurant in Hope Mills on March 10. Same-day registration closes at 9:45 a.m. on March 11. To register online, visit http://www.active.com and enter Josalyn’s Jog in the search bar. To learn more about Josalyn’s Jog, visit https://www.facebook.com/JosalynJog/?fref=photo.

  • 001COVERA lip sync battle, in its simplest form, involves people enthusiastically mouthing the words to popular songs. For the Child Advocacy Center’s Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown, members from many of our community’s influential organizations will lip sync, solo and in groups, dressed and acting as a variety of popular singers past and present. Guests to the event on March 25 will be seated at lushly decorated tables in the Crown Center Ballroom set with linen, fresh flowers and substantial hors d’oeuvres. 

    But the evening, which will begin at 6 p.m. for social hour and 7 p.m. for the show, is about so much more than entertainment. Lip sync-ers and attendees of the event will help to give unheard children a voice. Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown is the Child Advocacy Center’s spring fundraiser, replacing the previous and long-running American Girl Fashion Show fundraiser. 

    Roberta Humphries, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center since 2009, is no stranger to the nonprofit sector. She previously worked in leadership positions at the Cumberland County nonprofits United Way and Better Health.  But when the position with CAC opened, something was different — she knew this job was for her. “I have a real passion for wanting to help children who are victims of abuse. I had [been sexually abused as a child], so I’ve just always had a real passion for wanting to help other children. Because … it doesn’t have to define who you are, and it doesn’t have to define your life as you move forward. So when this position became available, it came at the right time, and I just felt like I could really give back to other kids.” 

    And she’s doing just that. CACs exist all over the world. Each is founded, owned and run independently, but may receive support from larger accrediting bodies like the National Children’s Alliance. All accredited CACs work with a multidisciplinary team of agencies in that community to create an integrated approach to meeting child abuse victims’ needs. Fayetteville’s CAC works with 19 community agencies, including all the county Police Departments, the DA’s office, CC Mental Health, CC Schools and Ft. Bragg Schools, Cape Fear Valley Health System, Womack Dept. of Social Services and more. 

    One way this integrated approach works is to ensure a child need only give their full testimony once. Previous to Robert “Bud” Cramer’s creation of the first CAC in Alabama in the late 80s, a child might have to repeat the story of their abuse as many as 15 times, with defense attorneys picking apart their words and pouncing on any (understandable) childlike inconsistencies — a horrific and re-traumatizing experience. By bringing all relevant agencies together into one child-friendly environment, the CAC eliminates this issue. 

    Also previous to the CAC’s establishment, children would have to travel to UNC-Chapel Hill or Duke for their medical evaluations and exams. By coordinating with our local medical care providers, the CAC can make the process more efficient for the family’s sake, talk directly to doctors and nurses about how to speak with and treat the children and enable children to be in a more familiar and comforting environment while being examined. 

    Fayetteville’s system, however, is unique from other CACs in one crucial way. Humphries explained that their system has hugely expanded its prevention component in the last nine to 10 years. Prevention training and education is not one of the core components required for accreditation, but the Fayetteville CAC has 76 partners in prevention. “Darkness to Light, one of our partner organizations in prevention, believes that this number is not just higher than any other CAC in North Carolina, but in the United States,” said Faith Boehmer, CAC Prevention/Volunteer Coordinator. 

    Humphries added: “CACs were founded to provide coordinated services to children that had been identified as already having been victimized. But the real goal would be for a child never to be victimized and to have a happy, healthy childhood from the beginning. If we can prevent [abuse] from happening, we can save a lot of children’s futures and also community dollars that go into putting the pieces back together.” 

    Every service the CAC provides comes at absolutely no cost to the family. This is made possible through events like their spring fundraiser, which makes up about 10 percent of their total income each year. The committee and some board members gathered last March to come up with an event that was popular, unique and that nobody else was doing in the community: lip sync! 

    Many CAC partner agencies will be represented at the Showdown, which is being organized by Julia Adkins, long-term chair of the American Girl Fashion Show. Cumberland County Schools’ Pre-K educators Wanda Wesley, Patricia Easton and Denise Dutcher will serenade the crowd as The Supremes. A group from the Fayetteville Police Department will perform as Cyndi Lauper, The Spice Girls, Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson. Rainbow Pediatrics will bring the house down with a Glee mashup of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” Other performances to look out for include Rob Lowe as Prince, Roberta Humphries and her husband Paul as Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, and local theatre and musical star Cassandra Vallery as — ahem, herself. 

    Participants are more than happy to dress up and dance their hearts out in support of the CAC. Catalina Orrego, marketing and administrative assistant at Rainbow Pediatrics by day, will transform into an all-star Glee member on the evening of March 25. “The CAC is a great cause we’re really excited to support! It’s also been fun for us [Rainbow co-workers] to get to know each other on another level, practicing our routine and getting together outside of the work environment. We’ve all come together, and it’s been a real team effort,” Orrego said. 

    Peggy Smith, supervisor of Fayetteville PD’s Youth Services Unit, will perform with her co-workers as a number of strong female artists, from The Spice Girls to Beyoncé.  Smith shared that her peers appreciate how the CAC not only helps children who “suffer horrendous acts of violence and are often overlooked,” but also the police officers themselves. “The help that they provide to us is priceless, she said. “[Our unit] investigated over 1,000 cases last year involving children. … [The CAC helps us] get training that is needed and yearly strive to try to educate and [prevent child abuse]. The Child Advocacy Center needs the community’s support, and we are proud to help give back to them who are so often there for us.”

    Fayetteville First Lady Kim Robertson will help determine the winner for the night, with audience participation to determine the People’s Choice Award. Audience members can also boost their favorite group’s score by purchasing votes. The event will also feature a raffle ticket drawing for prizes of a 50-inch flat screen TV, an iPad mini and a Fitbit. Raffle tickets are available for purchase in advance or evening of for $5 each. A limited number of performance slots are still available! To learn about performing, or to purchase tickets, visit www.CACFayNC.org or call (901) 486-9700.  Regular tickets cost $50. VIP tickets cost $75 and reward guests with closer seating, more elaborate table decorations and a bottle of wine. 

    The CAC is located downtown at 222 Rowan Street. If you would like to support the work they do but cannot attend the Lip Sync Showdown at the Crown Center Ballroom on March 25, consider volunteering your time to do needed clerical work. You can also stop by the center and donate everyday items they need, such as individual snack items, comfort blankets and office supplies. “To see [the kids] laughing and smiling and realizing they’re not alone, to see them move forward and live happy lives, to see these kids be kids … that’s the best thing we see here,” Humphries said.

  • 16CFRTIntimateApparelIntimate Apparel is a show of visual and conceptual dichotomies that allow you to arrive at subtle, tender and painful conclusions for yourself. “It’s a play set in 1905 about who you’re not supposed to love and who perhaps you do anyway,” Director Khanisha Foster said. “There’s something dangerous and beautiful about that. A lot of what we explore in the play is what the rules of the time are versus what happens when people actually connect to each other.” 

    Upon arriving to Intimate’s first preview, I was immediately struck by the sweep of a deep, luxuriously red curtain on the right side of the stage. Nestled in front of the curtain were a red velvet chaise lounge, a stuffed red armchair and a grand piano. A chandelier dangled above the red carpet. These reds, arranged with powerful simplicity by Scenic Designer Josafath Reynoso and beautifully lit by David Castaneda, grabbed my eye first. 

    My gaze then wandered left, ascending a short wooden staircase to a shelf full of bolts of fabric, and then back down to the left side of the stage. Here, in the “rented room” of black seamstress Esther Mills (played stirringly by L.A. native Ashlee Olivia Jones), I saw a single desk with a sewing machine, lit by a single kerosene lamp. Grace Schmitz did a great job rounding out this bland visual impression with her costume design, dressing Esther in whites, browns and olive greens. 

    As the play unfolds, Esther never leaves the stage, weaving back and forth between her kindly if exasperating landlady, Michelle Walker’s Mrs. Dixon, and the red, rich world of Lauren Mae Shafer’s warm but ignorant Mrs. Van Buren. Mrs. Van Buren is a lonely Manhattan socialite who hires Esther to sew her beautiful undergarments that go ever-unseen by her aloof husband. Her relationship with Esther is illustrated by Foster’s skillful blocking: in at least half of their scenes, Mrs. Van Buren continuously stands up on and then steps down from a block of wood while Esther flutters around her, adjusting her lingerie. The visual seesaw seems to mimic Mrs. Van Buren’s conflicting awareness of her hierarchical place in relation to Esther and her genuine desire for friendship with her. 

    It is also on the “red” side of the stage that Esther visits her friend Mayme, a prostitute who sometimes lets herself dream of being a concert pianist. Alason Little is irresistibly fresh and funny, free-spirited and guarded as Mayme, and it is a treat to watch these two actresses connect onstage. 

    Once a week, Esther’s horizontal tread is broken by visits up the staircase to Mr. Marks, a Hasidic merchant of beautiful cloth played with an enchanting sincerity and quiet by Patrick Poole. It is here, among the bolts of carefully crafted cloth that Mr. Marks loves to show Esther, that the show finds its underlying heartbeat and most intimate moments. For their heartfelt but tentative friendship encapsulates the theme that Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Notage’s script weaves throughout: humans in relation to social structures that tell them who or what they can and can’t have intimacy with.

    There is a beautiful moment when Esther reaches out to touch Mr. Marks’ coat and he flinches away. “The color won’t rub off on you,” a flustered Esther quickly apologizes. “No, no…” Mr. Marks urges. He explains that he can’t be touched by anyone other than his relatives or future wife. “It is rabbinical law. Not mine,” he explains. I felt both respect and regret in his words.

    Beethovan Oden, who lives in New York, is convincing as George –  Esther’s letter-writing, long-distance marriage proposal – the outcome of which provides yet another thought-provoking juxtaposition.

    Director Khanisha Foster returns to CFRT for her third time to do Intimate Apparel. She had her directorial debut with The Bluest Eye in 2015, returning in 2016 to direct Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which became CFRT’s highest grossing non-musical at that time. “I was thrilled to come back to the community,” she said. “It’s been a very loving process.” 

    Intimate Apparel runs through March 19. Visit www.cfrt.org or call (910) 323-4233 to purchase tickets.

  • 15TenTenorsThe TEN Tenors, Australian musical sensation that blends rock, pop and opera in dynamic live performances, first toured internationally on a European circuit in 2001. They sold 120,000 tickets in five days. They have now sold over 3.5 million concert tickets worldwide, produced six platinum and gold records, and performed alongside music legends such as Andrea Bocelli, Lionel Richie, Keith Urban and Christina Aguilera.

    And they are coming to the Crown Complex courtesy of Community Concerts on Saturday, March 18. The group will travel to Fayetteville as part of their 20th Anniversary World Tour, “The Power of TEN.” 

    “The Power of TEN” tour promises to demonstrate just that – how powerful ten tenors onstage can be, and why they’ve kept audiences enthusiastically returning for so many years. On this tour, The TEN transform popular rock and pop anthems with their distinctive “tenorial” renditions, bringing their trademark charisma and gorgeously arranged music to the stage. When asked about the song he is most excited to perform on tour, longest-serving member and musical director Paul Gelsumini said “…Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer.’ This arrangement is remarkable and I could never sing it enough.”

     Virgilo Marino, who joined in 2016 as the group’s newest member, has performed in many internationally prestigious operatic capacities, from the Concorso Riccardo Zandonai in Italy to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Singapore. Florian Voss, who also joined The TEN in 2016, uses his skills not just to impress audiences, but also to empower others. His many credits include a partnership with non-profit organization The Broadway Dreams Foundation to help gifted young artists develop their musical abilities. “The [TEN family] is large and unique like the music and genres that we have covered. Members may come and go … but our style and presence [remains] true,” said Gelsumini.

    These impressive musicians also enjoy the little things about touring. Guitarist David Orr said, “I love to explore the new cities and find awesome venues to sit back and enjoy some live music!” Benjamin Keane, pianist, added that he loves “being able to live life as a local and do what the locals do” as he travels. 

    The show on March 18 will be preceded by a short induction ceremony for new members into The Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame. The Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame was founded by Community Concerts to honor those who have brought musical distinction to our community. Past winners of the prestigious award include Bo Thorp, long-term creative director and voice of the Cape Fear Regional Theater, and the late dance legend and ballet teacher Charlotte Blume. Community Concerts, founded in 1935, is an “all-volunteer, non-profit whose goal is to bring the finest in top-notch entertainment to Fayetteville.” 

    After The TEN Tenors concert, Community Concerts will hold its season finale on April 11, featuring the Broadway smash hit “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles.” Michael Fleishman, attractions director for Community Concerts, shared his excitement about the show on March 18: “If you think three or four tenors are great, wait until you see what TEN can do. Don’t miss this! It’s a show you’ll long remember.”

    Tickets to see The TEN range from $30 to $75.50 and are available in person at the Crown Box Office or online at www.CapeFearTix.com. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. 

  • 14SecondChanceOne of the most famous plays in football history happened on New Year’s Day in the 1929 Rose Bowl. Georgia Tech was playing the University of California. A player for California by the name of Roy Riegals recovered a fumble but somehow got turned around and ran over 60 yards the wrong way. 

    A teammate by the name of Benny Lom caught Riegals and tackled him just before he crossed the goal line. A few plays later, California would attempt a punt deep in their end zone as a result of “wrong way Riegals” run, only to have the kick blocked with Georgia Tech scoring a safety. 

    Riegals’ mishap occurred in the first half. During halftime, Riegals settled into a corner, draped a blanket around his shoulders and cried like a baby. The locker room was uncharacteristically quiet that day. Just as halftime was coming to an end, California Coach Nibs Price looked at his team and said, “Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second.” 

    Everyone started out of the locker room except for Roy Riegals. The coach approached his broken player and said, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second.” Riegals looked up at his coach and with tears still streaming down his face said, “Coach, I can’t do it to save my life. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the University of California. I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face the crowd in the stadium to save my life.”

    Coach Nibs Price reached out and put his hand on the shoulder of Riegals and simply said, “Roy get up and go on back. The game is only half over.” Riegals did get up and go back onto the field, and he played an outstanding second half of football against the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech. 

    Roy Riegals is a wonderful example of a second chance. Many would look back at the 1929 Rose Bowl game and say, “What a great coach.” And indeed, Coach Price was a great coach. And his encouragement to Riegals to go out and play the second half is a powerful lesson for overcoming setbacks. But greater still is when we make similar mistakes in life, and God says, “The game is only half over.” And He gives each of us a second chance in life.

    The story of the Bible is God’s second chance for a people who have been disobedient. Consider the story of Jonah. Jonah ran from God’s calling, and yet God gave him a second chance. The city of Nineveh was wicked and corrupt, and yet God gave them a second chance. The world today is rampant in disobedience to God and the Bible. But our God is a second chance God. But in our second chance, let’s play our hearts out for the Head Coach, Jesus Christ. 

    Paul writes in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Accept the free gift that Jesus offers, and live the rest of your life playing hard for Jesus, much like Riegals became known for in the second half of the Rose Bowl. Don’t quit, because God hasn’t quit on you!

  • 13WorkInjuriesHave you been injured at work?  Well, you are not alone.  

    In 2015, there were 2.9 million work-related injuries in our country with almost 70,000 reported work-related injuries in North Carolina.  For ten years, I worked at the North Carolina Industrial Commission, our state’s “court system” for workers’ compensation cases. Over those ten years, I found that people with work-related injuries face the most serious situation in their lives — they are sick, unable to work and are having financial difficulties. 

    When you are injured at work, there are a few things you should do. 

    1. Inform your employer about your injury immediately and in writing. 

    2. If you do not report your injury within thirty days of the injury, you could lose your rights to benefits.  Many employers have a form for you to complete.

    3. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.  Your employer may send you to the doctor.  If not, use your health insurance to get medical treatment.

    4. Take care in how you describe your injury.  Not all work-related injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. 

    5. File your claim, or Form 18, with the Industrial Commission within two years.

    6. Consult an attorney for help.  

    7. You can also call the Industrial Commission Information Specialists at 1-800-688-8349 for information.  

    Workers’ compensation is complicated.  Follow these steps to avoid making a mistake which can cause a problem later in your claim.

  • 12NCVetsNorth Carolina legislators are considering a bill that would result in a significant tax break for disabled veterans living in the state. Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) is the primary sponsor of the measure. It would grant vets a 100 percent exemption from the payment of property taxes. As written, the bill is an unfunded mandate that would not provide cities and counties an offset for the loss of tax revenue.

    To qualify as a disabled veteran and be eligible for a homestead property tax exemption under North Carolina law, a person must meet certain criteria. The property owner must be a permanent North Carolina resident and legally own and occupy the residence. The property owner must be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces and have a service-connected disability from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the veteran’s character of service at separation must have been honorable or under honorable conditions. The surviving spouse of a disabled veteran may also qualify for a tax exemption. The current disabled veteran homestead exemption is the first $45,000 of the assessed property value of one’s home. Dollar’s bill would increase the exemption to 100 percent of a home’s tax value. 

    Cumberland County would lose $2.77 million in annual revenue if the bill becomes law. The City of Fayetteville would lose $1.17 million. Both local governing bodies have discussed the consequences of the measure with local legislators. “It is my understanding that they are working on some language to fix the unfunded mandate implications of the bill,” said Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland). “I am in favor of recognizing the sacrifice … disabled veterans have given in the service of our country and I think that this would be a good public policy,” Szoka added. He clarified, however, that he does not favor passing unfunded mandates down to cities and counties. 

    “I’d prefer the exemption be done on state income tax rather than property tax,” said Rep. Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland). “That way it would spread the burden around statewide not just on the counties that would be heavily impacted by loss of property tax revenue,” Richardson added. “Cumberland County already does so much for veterans.” The measure is in a house committee presently. 

    Rep. Dollar did not respond to Up & Coming Weekly’s repeated requests for comment.

    Details of the property tax exemption and other services available to all veterans can be found at the Cumberland County Veterans Service Office at 301. E. Russell Street, adjacent to the courthouse. The office assists veterans and their dependents in obtaining benefits to which they are entitled by: submitting claims for benefits to the Department of Veterans Affairs; reviewing and following up on decisions of the VA for fairness and accuracy; and writing and submitting appeals to the Board of Veterans Appeals for disputed decisions. These services are always free to veterans and their dependents. Veterans services officers are available for one on one counseling Monday - Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.  

  • 11SalesTaxIt’s been awhile since Cumberland County Commissioners and Fayetteville City Council members have spoken with each other regarding the future of local sales tax receipts. Mayor Nat Robertson is disappointed. “The county is 30 days in default to start a joint discussion,” said Robertson at a council committee meeting. He was referring to an agreement reached last year that both boards would meet no later than January to begin discussions on a new sales tax distribution contract. The current interlocal agreement is in effect until June 30, 2019. It virtually extended a contract that has been in effect for about 15 years. The towns of Spring Lake, Hope Mills, Stedman, Wade, Falcon, Godwin and Eastover are also parties to the arrangement.  

    It provides that city and county elected officials begin negotiating a new sales tax distribution agreement no later than last month. Robertson said he hadn’t heard from Commission Chairman Glenn Adams. But in December, Adams proposed that a joint committee begin work on a new contract. City Council rejected the idea because it didn’t like the proposed membership composition. The city favors a working group of all involved so the issue can be resolved in six months. However, the four-member council committee offered no suggestion as to the working group’s makeup. Robertson, Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin and councilmen Jim Arp and Kirk deViere serve on this new group put together by Robertson. 

    By law, county government has the authority to use one of two methods to distribute  sales tax receipts. The method currently in use tends to favor the municipalities. But all parties agreed to it. Fayetteville took in nearly 50,000 residents in the 2005 phase V annexation better known as the ‘big bang.’ Council agreed to rebate to the county 50 percent of sales tax proceeds from the annexed areas. There was no expiration date. Robertson says it’s long past time that agreement was phased out. The council committee agreed to the mayor’s idea, noting the agreement has cost the city $60 million in lost revenue. The proposal is that refunds to the county be phased out by 10 percent annually beginning in 2021. After 2029, the city would retain all tax proceeds from the annexed areas. 

    County government is considering adopting another method of revenue distribution using established tax districts. The entire county is Cumberland’s tax district. The city limit of Fayetteville is its district. However, most council members believe they have an advantage since the largest number of voters live in the city and smaller towns. And county commissioners would be reluctant to change the formula. “I’m a little disappointed that we haven’t started this conversation,” council committee member Jim Arp said. And now, complicating matters are lower property values this year, meaning all units of local government may have to adjust their property tax rates and/or cut services in order to reach revenue neutrality. Council awaits a response from the county.

  • 04NotMyFathersMy father is a registered Democrat in Macon County, North Carolina. My father is a retired union steward from Detroit. A man that defines “SCAB” much differently than those protesting at airports today. A man that believed his Democratic party supported the working man; those without a voice; those trying to live the American dream; the middle class; his family. This is a man that walked picket lines in Detroit. This is a man that served in the Air Force. This is man that loves his country! This is a man that voted for Barack Obama twice! 

    And this is a man proudly wearing his Make America Great Again hat today!

    I was raised by this man. I was raised to believe that the Democratic Party was the party of the people and that Republicans were rich old white men. I was raised to believe that voting was a privilege, but you had better know what you are voting for before you walk into that booth. I drove two hours in a blizzard to cast my first ballot — straight ticket Democrat. 

    As a college student, I protested with the Black Caucus at Michigan State University. As the co-president of my senior class, I planned to skip my graduation because of the Republican Governor speaking. When my father dropped me off at Michigan State, his advice was simply, “Do not get arrested at a protest.”

    So how did this father come to vote for Donald Trump? How did this daughter come to be a dyed-in-the-wool Republican? 

    Simply put, this is not my father’s Democratic party. This is not the party of the people. This is the party of the elite. This is not the party for the marginalized; rather, the party that oppresses our cities and minorities. This is not the party of those trying to live the American Dream. This is the party that keeps making the government bigger and more burdensome and the people smaller and weaker. The more people Democrats make dependent on the government, the more votes they secure. This is not the party of the middle class, but the party that expects the middle class to pay for those that live off the government. 

    There are many voters like my father who never considered a Republican. I think he may have voted for Ronald Reagan, but even hardcore Democrats could not bring themselves to vote for Carter. 

    Why did Donald Trump win over my father? Your father? Because he is giving the voiceless a voice. Why did lifelong Democrats vote for Trump? Why did they put aside the “yellow dog” during this election? Simply put, this Democratic Party is unrecognizable to those upon whose backs it was built!

    Why did Democrats still win in urban areas like Detroit, Chicago and even Fayetteville? Is the devil you know really better than the devil you don’t? On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump asked urban voters, “What do you have to lose?” As a recovering Democrat, I ask: Has your party served you and your family? Are you better off today than eight years ago? Are your communities safer? Cleaner? Are your schools better?

    While we may not agree with how President Trump gets things done, we all know he will get things done. We elect our government officials to serve us! We don’t serve government! Isn’t it refreshing to see someone finally working in Washington?

    Michele Woodhouse is a successful medical sales representative and a conservative activist. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

  • 03OvercomingTemptationI confess to experiencing periods when I have to work at overcoming the temptation to quit. That is, just take life easy and invest no time or effort in trying to help make our nation a better place for others. In this state, life would simply consist of enjoying my wife and family, playing golf, traveling, and a listing of other activities that would be enjoyable. This temptation invades my thinking when I stop long enough to give attention to just some of the many happenings and conditions in our nation that escape reason. These happenings and conditions show us to be a nation that is far from what is required for a future that includes societal well-being and even a minimally acceptable standard of living for all our citizens. 

    The list of happenings and conditions that tempt me to quit seems endless, but allow me to share a few:

    1. Mainstream media in America has come to a point of bias that is unacceptable beyond description. Lincoln Chafee, former Democratic candidate for president, made this point emphatically. An Associated Press article titled, “Chafee blasts media over Trump ‘onslaught,’ metric coverage” said “… Lincoln Chafee defended Republican President Donald Trump Tuesday against a tiresome ‘full onslaught’ by the “mainstream media’ ….” Chafee made his comments while talking about his own difficulties with the media. However, having a Democrat give this assessment is weighty in supporting charges of media bias against President Trump in particular and conservative views in general. Further, one only has to look at mainstream media reports on TV or in print to see the bias. I watch Fox Newsa good bit, but also watch ABC, CBS, NBC and other mainstream outlets, while reading various print media. The bias is in your face. The headlines on Trump in our local newspaper, The Fayetteville Observer, reveal a bias that cannot be missed. They don’t simply give an indication as to what the article is about. No, opposition to and intent to adversely impact his presidency jump out at the reader. The same is the case across mainstream print media. What I see as pervasive in mainstream media is not journalism…it is presentation of opinions masquerading as simply reporting the facts. 

    2. Somebody, or some entity, hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer system and the email account of John Podesta, then-campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton. Information apparently gained through hacking was made public and proved to be a complication for Hillary Clinton and her 2016 presidential campaign. Even in February 2017, this story is still in the news and there are calls for Congressional investigations of the hacking. People are outraged. However, General (Ret.) Michael Flynn has a phone conversation with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S before Donald Trump’s inauguration; the FBI records the conversation and somebody leaks to the press that the call was made. Sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama were discussed. Flynn, who had been appointed Trump’s National Security Advisor, told Vice President Pence that he did not discuss sanctions. Once the leak happened, President Trump asked Flynn to resign, and he did. Not surprisingly, the tremendous interest on the part of mainstream media and Democrats, along with some Republicans, is to find proof that this event shows some illegal or even questionable contact between the Trump administration and the Russians. There seems to be little or no outrage regarding the leaking of FBI information that should have been withheld from the public domain. Outrage at the Flynn leak should be compounded by Andrew C. McCarthy in an article titled, “Why Was the FBI Investigating General Flynn?” quoting The New York Times as follows:

    “Obama officials asked the FBI if a quid pro quo had been discussed on the call, and the answer came back no, according to one of the officials, who like others asked not to be named discussing delicate communications. The topic of sanctions came up, they were told, but there was no deal.”

    The targets of outrage are most often driven by political expediency and that is dangerous for America.

    3. Protests now seem to be an ever-present and overwhelming occurrence in the streets of America. What concerns me is that most of these protests do not appear to have a clear aim as to what is desired or even offer some plan for achieving an aim. For instance, people take to the streets screaming (regarding President Trump), “Not my president.” What do they aim to achieve and how is this action moving them toward the aim? Then various protests take on an element of violence through burning and looting, even shooting people. Add to this the attacks on and even killing of police officers. 

    4. Every indication is that, as a nation, we have lost the capacity to discuss the challenging issues of our time and work together to successfully address those issues. Consider what is happening in town hall meetings as I write this column the week of  Feb. 20. Members of Congress are holding these meetings with groups of their constituents to hear and discuss concerns while also disseminating information. Attendees are screaming at elected officials and are so disruptive that some meetings are being canceled. Even further, there are reports that some of the disruptors are part of an organized effort to cause chaos.

    5. The argument that we should be accepting of sanctuary cities baffles me beyond description. I cannot understand why anybody would support this policy. From an article by Michelle Ye Hee Lee titled, “What exactly are ‘sanctuary cities’ in immigration policy?”: “There’s no official definition of ‘sanctuary,’ but it generally refers to rules restricting state and local governments from alerting federal authorities about people who may be in the country illegally.”

    6. The highly visible opposition being voiced loudly (and often with total disrespect toward those on the other side of the issue) to efforts by President Trump to bring illegal immigration under control challenges reason. At the same time, many of the people calling for allowing illegal immigration to go unchecked are also screaming for greater investment in education, saving Obamacare (even though it is clearly a failed program), increased infrastructure spending, and on and on. Do they not understand the tremendous financial cost imposed on federal, state and local governments by illegal immigrants? 

    7. As a nation, we are almost $20 trillion in debt and still borrowing. Further, hardly anybody talks about unfunded liabilities that are estimated by some sources to be over $80 trillion. Unfunded liabilities are payments the federal government has promised for future disbursement, but sufficient funds have not been set aside to make those future payments. We just keep borrowing, spending, promising future benefits and not preparing for them.

    8. Finally, but more troubling than everything else on this list, we are a morally bankrupt nation that has just about completed total departure from the Judeo-Christian foundation on which a great nation was built. Look at what we have come to: An entitlement mentality abounds; same-sex marriage is routine and the law; the homosexual lifestyle is celebrated and promoted; our Constitution, based on changeless biblical principles, is treated as an “evolving” document; two-parent households with a traditional marriage are becoming the exception; living according to one’s faith in God is relegated to our homes and churches; and on it goes. 

    This is just a sampling of conditions and happenings that tempt me to quit, to give up. I know that I am not alone in dealing with this temptation. There are others like me. Confronting this temptation reminds me of my grandmother, Ma’ Bessie. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I remember her saying to me, “Karl, there are times when I just want to go out on the front porch and scream.” I watched Ma’ Bessie, with grace and calm, live through very difficult times and into her late 80s. I know how she did it. She built and maintained a strong faith relationship with God, whom our nation is deserting. There is no other way to keep going, to keep serving, to overcome the temptation to quit than Ma’ Bessie’s way. I choose Ma’ Bessie’s way and recommend it as the only way to overcome the temptation
    to quit. 

  • 02GluePresident Trump and I do not agree on much, but he was spot-on in his address to Congress last week, asserting openly that we are a nation divided. We are now red and blue, with only a tad of purple. Increasingly, we draw our lines in the sand and few of us step over “our” line. We all wave the flag, then take it home and lock our doors and our minds.

    The president is hardly alone in his assessment. Both talking heads and everyday Americans recognize that we have less and less in common with each other. We watch programs and read publications that reflect our worldviews right back to us. We gravitate toward and spend time with people who think the way we do and avoid those who do not.

    Everyone else becomes “the other.”

    Many factors contribute to our great divide. The roughly 325 million of us who call the United States home are more diverse than ever before, representing all races, ethnicities, religions and life experiences. Those of us in cities live differently than those of us in rural areas. Some of us are highly educated. Some of us are not. More distinct than any other factors, though, may be that we have so many choices that they isolate us. As we opt for choices that appeal to us, we are making it less likely that we will share common experiences with our fellow Americans.

    We are losing our “glue.”

    Public education has been a common denominator for Americans for almost two centuries. Most of us, wherever we live and whatever our family background, have attended public school. Our national mythology is replete with tales of the public school teacher who changed our lives, the terrors of middle school and high school and the pride of graduation. 

    Our public school glue, however, is drying up and crumbling. Increasingly, families are choosing other options  — independent schools, faith-based schools, charters, homeschooling. All of these are needed options in some cases, though they have issues just as public schools do. In addition, legislatures across the nation, including the North Carolina General Assembly, have slashed public school funding to the point that schools are recruiting international teachers because American students are choosing careers that provide them a professional income.

    Our religious glue is evaporating as well. While many Americans practice our faiths regularly and devoutly and think of our nation as faith-based, the reality is that the United States, like most of Western Europe, is increasingly secular. The Pew Research Center reported in 2015 that almost a quarter of Americans identify with no religion at all. The decline is in part because of millennials, what the survey calls “the least religious generation in American history,” but the decline includes Baby Boomers as well.

    For most of the 20th century, the United States maintained the military draft system, which was abolished after the widely unpopular and painful Vietnam conflict. That said, mandatory military service had its issues, but it also provided a common bond for Americans of all backgrounds. My father was a World War II veteran, who remained in contact with his fellow 30th Division comrades all his life. Most of them he would never have known without their common Army service. While we do not necessary feel this in our unique military community, the number of active duty military personnel today is 1.4 million men and women. They make up only 0.04 percent of all Americans. Many Americans do not know a single person who has served in our nation’s military. I have long believed and have written in support of national service for all young Americans. Military service is not appropriate for everyone, but all able young Americans could and should give a year of their lives to our nation in some form of service.

    Only a Pollyanna would argue that these national institutions are without troubles. It is also true that for most of our existence as the United States, they have provided common experiences that bind us as a nation. They, among other institutions, have been our glue. America would not have become great without them.

    In this era of division — of Americans spinning in  myriad not always intersecting directions, I believe that public education at all levels, religious faith whatever form it takes, and national service continue to have roles in binding us as a country. Surely, there are other, newer “glues” as well.

    Now, in this time of red-hot division, we must seek our common bonds, our glue. If we cannot — or do not, I fear that poet W. E. Yeats will be right…“the centre cannot hold.”

  • 01PubPen Spring LakeNo doubt about it! The inaugural Dr. Seuss Parade and Family Fun Day, which celebrated Read Across America and was held Saturday in Spring Lake, was a huge success. Tad Davis, Spring Lake’s town manager, was glowing with pride at the way the Spring Lake community turned out to support this significant reading and educational awareness celebration. Davis agreed that the organizing of the “first anything” is always a challenge, but, once the commitment was made and the foundation was laid, everyone was on board for making it a success and growing it year after year.  

    My personal “cat in the hat” is off to Kristy Sykes, owner of Kameo Events, who took the initiative to create and coordinate the Dr. Seuss Parade and Family Fun Day and the Dr. Seuss Dinner and a Book Birthday party that was held Thursday before the parade. She worked closely with Davis and Spring Lake Parks & Rec Manager Sam Jones with an end result that shows much future potential. One of Saturday’s highlights for me was meeting North Carolina’s first lady, Kristin Cooper, who served as the parade’s grand marshal. An avid supporter of teachers, literacy and education, her warm, enthusiastic and congenial personality fit perfectly into the excitement of the Dr. Seuss celebration. I was impressed. 

    For her to give up her Saturday to come to a Cumberland County municipality to bring attention to this worthy cause speaks volumes of her and Gov. Roy Cooper’s commitment to teachers, children and North Carolina education.  Even though she was welcomed graciously by Town Manager Tad Davis, Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey, State Representative Marvin Lucas and Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Till Jr. However, I was surprised and disappointed that more Fayetteville city and county elected officials and community business leaders were not on hand to meet Ms. Cooper and welcome her to Cumberland County. Especially those involved with the Cumberland County Democratic Party. Another glaring absence was that of the Cumberland County Association of Educators. It was rumored they were hosting another reading-related event in Fayetteville but attempts to find out the where and when were unsuccessful. In any case, they missed a perfect opportunity to showcase their organization and the community. So did the Spring Lake Chamber of Commerce, whose absence was conspicuous during both the parade and the Family Fun Day. 

    Local community events of this nature are, in most cases, sponsored and supported by the local Chamber of Commerce and affiliated businesses and organizations.  Well, thankfully, many Spring Lake businesses did step up to participate. The newly reopened Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union led the way as the events title sponsor. Bill Drewry, Bragg Mutual’s marketing and development manager, was very pleased with the first-year outcome and turnout of over 3,000 attendees. “This is a very special event for us,”  he said. “And we are very excited about the first-year participation. This event was perfect for us because our credit union serves both Spring Lake businesses and families. The Town of Spring Lake has done a superb job supporting us here at the Credit Union and in making sure the Dr. Seuss Parade and Family Fun Day was a fun, exciting and successful family event. We’ll be back next year!”  

    But how do you measure the success of a first-time event like this? Do you consider the number of people attending? The number of marching bands or parade floats? How many cartoon character mascots are running around doing silly things? Or maybe the number of food trucks willing to set up in the parking lot? My point is that no doubt some people may have shown up Saturday morning with expectations and in anticipation of seeing something spectacular like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. And, I’m also sure some folks showed up not even aware of the Read Across America initiative or knowing what the Dr. Seuss connection to reading and education is all about. And I’m sure they were disappointed. To this, I say, “Too bad, so sad!” 

    Here is the reality of it: You measure the success of an event like this by the faces, smiles and laughter of the children themselves. This event was not conceived or designed to appease, please or impress adults. It is a program for children. Organizers wanted to showcase the community. They wanted children to have fun, read more, study more, be more loving and sensitive toward others, do good deeds and practice good character traits. Those who have the unappreciative audacity to be critical of the parade size or the number of participating costumed characters or parade floats just “don’t get it!” Period. 

    Again, Congratulations, Spring Lake. You did it!  Kristy Sykes, you da girl! Nice work on the event and a very, very special thank you for bringing North Carolina’s first lady, Kristin Cooper to our community. What an honor. So, like Bill Drewry said, “We’ll be back next year.”

    Thank you for reading our community newspaper.


    In nearly 50 years, Fayetteville voters have never approved a parks and recreation bond referendum — until now. Similar bond proposals have failed on at least four other occasions, as far back as 1969 and most recently in 2012. Three and a half years ago, a $45 million bond proposal never got off the ground. City Council deadlocked 5-5 in efforts to put a vote to the people. Twice in the 1980s and in 1969, voters rejected parks and recreation referenda by 4-1 margins. This year, 60 percent of the electorate turned out in favor of a $35 million referendum.

    The reason for success this time, many observers believe, is two-fold,. Primarily, opposition was impotent; and there were lessons learned from the most recent failure. 

    As for the opposition, one school of thought is that the naysayers, notably former City Council members Juanita Gonzalez and Val Applewhite, actually gave supporters a boost in the final two weeks of the campaign. Gonzalez has had a long-time political reputation for naysaying, which backfired as fence sitters hopped off on the side of supporting the bond referendum.

    Most importantly though, City Council reflected on the reasons why a proposed $45 million referendum failed to win majority council support three-and-a-half years ago. The centerpiece of the 2012 proposal was a multipurpose indoor pool, field house and senior center that carried a $45 million price tag. Ted Mohn, who had returned to City Council after a hiatus, along with several freshmen members, said that the cost and proposed location of the multipurpose facility were major obstacles then and should not be considered now. Last spring, Mohn broached the idea of another bond issue.

    The council eliminated the costly joint-use building and reduced the referendum to no more than $35 million. That number, as it turns out, made the difference with voters. If passed, it would increase the property tax rate by only $.0135, or roughly less than $20 a year for the average home owner. 

    Council did its due diligence over several months, decided on specific projects and locations for individual facilities and put together a well-thought out plan. Civic groups for and against the issue advertised their points of view. The city, by law, could not take a position. But it did launch a campaign urging people to vote. Local civic organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, endorsed the issue the last few weeks before the March 15 primary date. The ballot also included a statewide capital projects bond issue. Both passed. 

  • 16 Back up Darrell T Allison Headshot Edited 1024x741Who runs the university? What university are you asking about? Well, for example, Fayetteville State University, one of the 17 institutions that are part of the University of North Carolina, now known as the UNC System.

    Clearly, the recently appointed chancellor of FSU, Darrell Allison, is the leader of that institution. But others share his authority. Allison reports to FSU’s board of trustees, a group of 13 that includes the student body president and other members appointed by the legislature and the UNC System’s board of governors. But Allison reports directly and primarily to the president of the UNC System who has the power, subject to concurrence from the board of governors, to fire the

    If Allison has a single boss, it is the university president. But if you ask any chancellor he or she will tell you multiple people and groups must be pleased or the chancellor’s job is in jeopardy. He or she must also work with the institution’s trustees.

    It is complicated enough already, but other constituents must be pleased. Near the top of the list is the institution’s faculty. Unhappy students can also bring a chancellor down. So can passionate fans of the university’s athletic teams. Donors and alumni groups can feel that the chancellor is their employee and should listen to their directions.

    All these interests and groups present potential problems for every new chancellor. Wise ones will understand that while you cannot always please everyone, you must always take care to minimize friction and consider different opinions that relate to the university.

    What is really tragic is for the situation to be poisoned from the beginning, but that is what has happened to Chancellor Allison. From the time his appointment was announced, opposition and concerns about his lack of experience in higher education and the process of his appointment arose from the faculty senate, the school’s alumni association, and the student government association’s president.

    Previously, Allison served as a trustee at his alma mater, North Carolina Central University, and as a member of the system’s Board of Governors where he chaired its committee on Historically Minority-Serving Institutions. In 2018, Allison became the national director of State Teams and Political Strategy for the American Federation for Children, an organization that promotes school choice and was once led by Betsy DeVos.

    From the beginning of the UNC System in the early 1970s, chancellors’ selection followed this procedure, taken from a UNC-Chapel Hill document describing the process: The chair of the university’s Board of Trustees, will oversee the search committee to find the new chancellor. Committee members represent the University’s Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni. Community members will be able to provide input throughout the process. The committee will make recommendations to the full Board of Trustees, which will vote on candidates to recommend to the UNC System president who will then recommend a candidate to the UNC Board of Governors, which will elect the new chancellor.

    This traditional process assured that every constituency would have some voice in the selection process even though it would be the president who made the final recommendation to the system’s board. This process was changed last year essentially to provide the president with the power to ignore the campus search process unilaterally and select any person to recommend to the Board of Governors.

    The university president has every reason to seek a chancellor who will be a good partner. But it is a mistake not to bring into the selection process representatives of other groups the chancellor must serve.

    As almost 50 years of university history has shown, a collaborative search process can find a person who will be the president’s strong partner without inflaming the kind of opposition that now faces Chancellor Allison.

  • 03 Easter article picEaster is the most significant date on the calendar for Christians across the globe. A celebration of the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter serves as the foundation of the Christian faith. So it’s no surprise that a day as significant as Easter is steeped in such incredible tradition.

    Explaining Holy Week

    Known as Holy Week, the week preceding Easter begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday, the day preceding Easter Sunday. Holy Week commemorates different events that unfolded over the final days of Jesus Christ’s life.
    According to Catholic Online, Palm Sunday celebrates the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. On the day of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, residents laid palms before him, which is why palms are distributed to the Christian faithful each year during Palm Sunday Mass. Palms are blessed at Mass, and many Christians turn their palms into crosses upon arriving home. The palms are eventually returned to the church, where they are burned, and the ashes of the palms are then used during the following year’s Ash Wednesday services.

    Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, when Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with his disciples. In the story of Jesus Christ, the night of the Last Supper was the same night that Jesus was betrayed by his disciple, Judas.

    Good Friday commemorates the trial, punishment and crucifixion of Christ. Though the official presiding over the trial of Jesus, Pontius Pilate, found no evidence of Jesus’ guilt in relation to the charges filed against him, he ultimately agreed to Christ’s crucifixion anyway in an effort to appease the crowd and avoid a riot. As a result, Christ was stripped, flogged and crowned with thorns before being made to carry his cross through the streets to the place where he was ultimately crucified. On Good Friday, the tabernacle inside Catholic churches is left empty to symbolize that Christ is departed.

    The final day of Holy Week, Holy Saturday, is a day to remember that Christ descended into hell, where he preached the gospel and opened the way to heaven.

    What is the “good news”?

    The term “good news” is often used by Christians in reference to their faith. Good news is at the heart of Christianity, and it has both symbolic and literal meaning in reference to the New Testament. According to the online biblical reference Bible Odyssey, “good news” is the literal translation of the Greek word “euangelion.” It also can be interchanged with gospel, which is “good spiel” or “godspel,” which means good news.

    New Testament authors offer that the good news means the salvation and liberation from sin and estrangement from God.

    The Apostle Paul summarized the gospel, and in turn the good news, in this way: Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

    Christians believe Christ’s death symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice and paved the way for Jesus' resurrection. The death and resurrection — proving that there would be life after death for the faithful — became the core tenet of the Christian faith. Everyone who accepts the gospel and has faith in God will receive salvation in the Kingdom of Heaven. Easter highlights the good news in its most potent form.

    Easter celebrations in the era of social distancing

    Holidays have been celebrated differently since the outbreak of COVID-19. Celebrations and social distancing may be challenging, but it’s possible for people to safely celebrate Easter with their loved ones. Though it might not be the same as attending church services in person together as a family, watching virtual services together can allow families to engage with their faith alongside one another.

    An outdoor brunch provides another way for families to gather this Easter without compromising their health.
    Host an egg hunt in the backyard. The Easter egg hunt is one tradition that need not be sacrificed during the pandemic. Easter egg hunts traditionally take place outdoors, and children can wear masks like many are already doing when going to school or participating in sports and other extracurricular activities.

    Families spending the day with only those in their own households can watch a movie that commemorates their Christian faith. Various films are set around Easter, including the classic “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965) starring Max von Sydow and Claude Rains and the more recent “Risen” (2016), which focuses on efforts by a Roman military tribune named Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) who is tasked with investigating what happened to Jesus Christ’s body after the Crucifixion.

    Families can embrace some old and new traditions as they celebrate Easter in the era of social distancing.

  • 02 Easter kidsSeveral businesses and area churches have events scheduled to boost your Easter weekend. From egg hunts to pictures with the Easter bunny, you won’t want to miss these opportunities for fun.

    Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Tap Room are having an Easter Egg Hunt on April 3. Pictures with the Easter Bunny start at 10 a.m., and the egg hunts start at different times based on children’s age. The egg hunt for those 5 and under starts at 9 a.m.; the egg hunt for 6 to 10-year-olds starts at 10 a.m.; for 11-year-olds and up, the egg hunt starts at 11 a.m. To find tickets go to www.dirtbagales.com or visit the events page on Facebook.

    Take the family out on April 4 to Huske Hardware located downtown for a nice brunch. Their Simply Southern Easter Brunch will offer Signature Salmon and Huske Benedicts, Steak and Eggs, Biscuits and House Sausage Gravy, Country Fried Steak and Eggs, Chicken and Waffles, and other dining favorites. Huske Hardware will be hosting brunch from 9 a.m. until
    2 p.m.

    For a family day filled with fun, eggs and paintball, visit Black Ops Paintball of Fayetteville on April 4 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. participants can grab a rental and scour our fields for eggs with discount codes, free stuff and candy.

    On April 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fort Bragg Harley Davidson will host an Easter Egg Hunt every hour beginning at 11 a.m. The Bucaneros will be working the grill with free hamburgers and hot dogs. Fort Bragg Harley Davidson is located at 3950 Sycamore Dairy Road.

    Also on April 3, Temple Baptist Church will hold an Easter Egg Hunt for kids in Pre-K up to 5th Grade. They promise thousands of eggs ready to be found. They will have three egg hunts separated by age. In addition to toys and candy, they will have golden eggs with tickets for prizes to be given away after the last egg hunt. The fun begins at 11 a.m. for registration; 11:15 a.m. for the Pre-K egg hunt; 11:30 a.m. for the K-2nd grade egg hunt; 11:45 a.m. for the 3rd-5th grade egg hunt; prizes and giveaways start at noon. This event is completely outdoors. Masks are not required but social distancing is encouraged. For questions contact Pastor Trent at 910-991-6807 or trent@templebaptistfay.com

    King’s Grant will also be holding their Easter Egg Hunt on April 3 from 2-4 p.m. at 347 Shawcroft Road in Fayetteville.

    Green Side Up will be hosting their Fairy Garden Workshop on April 3 from 10-11:30 a.m. For the $25 fee, each fairy garden comes with 3 plants, soil and a container. All participants will receive 15% off on their purchases. Register early because only 10 spots are available. Spots and tables will be socially distanced with only 2 people at each table.

  • 01 Holy BibleMany local churches are back to in-person services for Easter. Most will require attendees to wear masks and practice social distancing. For information on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, check the church websites or call for more information.

    Below is a listing of some local Easter Sunday services scheduled for April 4.

    Crossview Alliance Church, 2306 Fort Bragg Road, 910-484-6070. There will be a drive-in service at 9:30 a.m. where people will remain in their cars. We will conduct this worship service from the steps of the church using outdoor speakers to broadcast into the parking lot. This service will not be live streamed. The message, entitled “He is Alive!” will examine the hope that we can have because Christ conquered death and the grave.

    Fayetteville Christian Church, 4308 Rosehill Road, 910-822-2402. Join us Sunday at 10:30 a.m. for streaming service https://loveservereach.online.church.
    First Presbyterian Church, 102 Ann St., 910-483-0121. An Outdoor Easter Worship Service will be held at 11 a.m. in person and live streaming. Bring a chair.

    Haymount United Methodist Church, 1700 Fort Bragg Road, 910-484-0181. Sunrise Service in the courtyard begins at 6:30 a.m. Services at 9:45 and 11 a.m. in person and live streamed.

    Hay Street United Methodist Church, 320 Hay Street, 910-483-2343. Contemporary Praise Service starts at 8:50 a.m. in the gym and the Traditional Service starts at 11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. https://www.haystreetchurch.org/

    Manna Church, join us in person at Manna Live or online at Manna Online to celebrate the events of Passion Week. On April 4, services will be held at all sites and online https://fayftbragg.manna.church/sermons/live. For speciic times and locations, check the website.

    Northwood Temple Church, 4250 Ramsey St., 910-488-7474, info@northwoodtemple.org. The Easter production this year, My Mountain, is a retelling of the story of Caleb, one of the twelve spies, sent into the land of Canaan before the Israelites. Four performances are planned: Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 3:30 p.m., Easter Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

    Saint Ann Catholic Church, 357 N. Cool Spring St., 910-483-3216, www.stanncatholicchurch.org. Mass scheduled at 8:30 and 11 a.m.

    St. John’s Episcopal Church, 302 Green St., 910-483-7405, www.stjohnsnc.org. Service held in the Sanctuary at 10:30 a.m.

    Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, 701 Westmont Drive, 910-484-3191, www.snydermbc.com/. Worship will be at 9 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall; 11 a.m. for worship with orchestra in the Sanctuary.

    True Vine Ministries, 5315 Morganton Road, 910-867-6762 or 910-867-3611, www.truevinenc.com/

    Join Village Baptist Church for Easter at The Village, 906 S. McPherson Church Road, 910-678-7178. Services will be in person and online at 8:30, 9:30, 11 a.m. www.thevillagebc.church/easter

  • 15 A Sinister Cabaret 01The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is back after a pandemic hiatus and ready to kick off their season with the fun and entertaining musical Mystery Dinner Theatre production of "A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/ Sleight of Hand." Formally known as the Bordeaux Dinner Theater before its demise in the mid-1980s, Fayetteville Dinner Theatre has been reintroduced to the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community by local businessman, entrepreneur, and Up & Coming Weekly newspaper publisher Bill Bowman.

    The FDT's first production was in 2016, with "A Southern Girl's Got To Have It" written and directed by local Fayetteville playwright Elaine Alexander. It was the overwhelming success of this production that motivated Bowman to create a totally "new and unique dinner theatre experience for Fayetteville and Cumberland County audiences."

    With the FDT celebrating its fifth year with the production of "A Sinister Cabaret," Bowman follows through with his strategy of utilizing local creative writers and talented actors to create a unique and enjoyable evening of dinner theatre.

    "A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/ Sleight of Hand" is written and directed by Fayetteville resident Dr. Gail Morfesis. No stranger to the local arts and cultural community, Dr. Morfesis has a doctorate in music, voice, and theater.

    Dr. Morfesis is very active in the Fayetteville arts community as a singer, performer and ardent volunteer. She has directed many shows with the Gilbert Theater and at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Talented and with a penchant for mischievous humor, Morfesis has created her unique style and format for her original plays.

    One of the more exciting aspects of "A Sinister Cabaret" is that it is never the same show twice. The music, dancing and comedy stay the same; however, the "whodunit" is a mystery. And this is how Morfesis intended it to be. She enjoys writing what she describes "as fun, interactive comedy." There are other unique aspects of this dinner theatre production. In the show, Morfesis also plays one of the leading characters, Francis Maximillian.

    Fayetteville actress Tabitha Humphrey, who plays Percy Barker, actually created the character she is portraying. She described her audition with Morfesis as open and unique. She was instructed to come prepared to audition with a love song rather than reading lines from the script. Once she was cast, Humphrey was given the creative opportunity to express herself and assist in creating the character and how she impacts the murder mystery plot.

    "Dr. Gail gave us creative freedom of our characters while she maintained creative control," said Humphrey. She added that she enjoyed working with the cast and the acting and improvisation became much easier once she got to know everyone and became familiar with their characters.

    Leading actor Jim Smith, who plays Sylvester Sly Fox, said, "this play is a mystery with several different plots within the main characters, and is very intriguing. It's a mystery as to how they play ends and how all the ladies feel about my character." Smith did not want to give too much away about his character but is excited to be a part of the cast and production.

    Interactive shows like "A Sinister Cabaret" are becoming common in the dinner theatre scene. Bowman said, "People are looking for fun and entertaining things to do in these trying times. They need some relief from the tensions caused by their jobs, or lack of, racial unrest, riots, pandemics, lockdowns, vaccines, social distancing restrictions, and Zoom meetings.”

    “The timing for this comedy is perfect, and we are expecting a great response and turnout. Celebrating one year of COVID restrictions, you can bet people are ready to ditch the lockdowns and get out of their houses in search of some fun and wholesome entertainment. And that is what the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is all about. What better to celebrate than with a show that's fun and showcases a local playwright and local actors? Besides, it's about time that people seeking good dinner theatre venues don't have to travel to Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston Salem, or Greensboro for quality entertainment."

    In addition to "A Southern Girl's Got To Have It," the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre has produced "M is for Mullet," "The Fantastiks," and "HamLIT." The May 2020 FDT show that was canceled due to COVID-19 was titled "Mark Twain Himself," starring Richard Garey from Hannibal, Missouri. Garey owns his own Playhouse in Hannibal and is a Samuel Clement scholar. His performances are known for their authenticity.

    Garey brings Mark Twain to life, and Bowman hopes the FDT will be able to reschedule his performance in the fall. It is a show the entire Fayetteville and Cumberland County community will appreciate and enjoy from an entertainment and historical point of view.

    The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is all about having a unique theatre and dining experience. The FDT prides itself on focusing on the “wow” factor. Every evening starts with a Preshow Welcome Reception hosted by Gates Four Country Club. It includes a wine tasting followed by the show and a three-course meal prepared especially for the FDT audiences. There are gifts, door prizes and a dessert bar set up during the intermission. After the show, the FDT hosts a Meet and Greet with the actors and actresses.

    Gates Four Golf & Country Club is the home of the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre. It is a gated community located in western Cumberland County near Hope Mills. Gates Four is known for its beautiful residential neighborhoods, quaint country landscapes, and its challenging 18-hole golf course.

    The FDT performance of "A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand" will hit the center stage on Friday, April 9, and Saturday, April 10. Tickets and reservations may be made online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com.

    The Preshow Welcome Reception begins at 6:00 p.m. Dinner and the performance begins at 7:00 p.m. Open seating with social distancing practices will be in place. Tickets are $75 per person with discounts available for active duty military, seniors 65+ and Gates Four members and residents. Parties of six or eight may purchase VIP tables.

    For more information about tickets or how your business or organization can exclusively sponsor a FDT production, contact the Box Office at 910-391-3859 or email bbowman@upandcomingweekly.com. Partial proceeds from the FDT show will benefit Cumberland County education through the Kidsville News! Literacy and Education Foundation, a (501c3), provides reading and educational resources for local children and teachers.

  • 14 dollar sign and graphGov. Roy Cooper introduced a $55.9 billion budget proposal on March 24 that includes many of the goals he’s had since taking office. But this time he claims they’re needed due to the COVID pandemic.

    These goals include expanding Medicaid, borrowing $4.7 billion for infrastructure projects, and pushing state agencies to look at issues through a “justice and equity lens.” All told, Cooper would hike spending by 11.6% over what was budgeted this year in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

    “We’ll put this pandemic behind us sooner rather than later. With the right investments, we can ensure our state roars back, creating opportunity for all of our people, not just those at the top,” Cooper said during a news conference outlining his budget proposal. “This is the time to find opportunity in crisis.”

    Republicans, however, criticized the governor’s budget for spending too wildly, especially with the state’s fiscal future still uncertain.

    While Cooper would hike spending virtually across the board, his budget includes two major spending programs with eye-popping numbers.

    Cooper’s budget again includes expanding Medicaid, a top policy priority since taking office. Medicaid expansion would offer government-paid health insurance to some 600,000 working-age adults without children. The federal government and the state would share the costs, which would reach $500 million for North Carolina.

    Cooper said Medicaid expansion was more pressing this year because many North Carolinians lost their jobs during the pandemic, and thus their employer-sponsored health insurance.

    “We must get health care to more working people, and the best way to do that is expand Medicaid,” Cooper said.

    Another major spending program would be a $4.7 billion bond package for infrastructure projects, the bulk of which would be in K-12 public schools and the state’s colleges and universities.

    “Interest rates have never been lower, and our state needs the boost,” Cooper said.

    Voters would need to approve the bond proposal, and bonds would be issued over a period of years. Interest rates have already begun to rise as the federal government has pumped trillions into the economy.

    Other proposals in Cooper’s budget include reinstating the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax benefit for low-income workers; a 10% pay raise for teachers, plus a $2,000 bonus; a minimum wage of $15 per hour for school system employees; $100 million in clean energy spending; creating an Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Affairs in the Department of Public Instruction; and eliminating Opportunity Scholarships, a program that helps low-income families attend private schools.

    “Instead of giving parents and families that opportunity to find the best educational option for their children, Governor Cooper is doubling down on cutting funding for scholarships that provide families those needed resources," said Mike Long, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.

    Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, one of the Senate’s chief budget writers, said he was concerned with the high levels of spending and borrowing in the governor’s proposal.

    “We don’t want to return to an era of rollercoaster-style budgets with huge spikes in the boom years followed by huge cuts in the lean years,” he said in a statement.
    House leadership distanced themselves from the proposal, as well.

    “While there are a number of shared priorities funded in the governor’s budget proposal, North Carolina lawmakers will remain vigilant in our responsible financial management of the state and avoid irresponsible decisions that have harmed taxpayers in the past,” House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said in a statement.

    Jackson and Moore said they’re committed to working with the governor to find compromise and pass a budget. Cooper vetoed the last biennial budget, meaning North Carolina has spent the past two years largely operating on the 2017 spending plan.

  • 13 American Flag horizontal copyA bill introduced by House Majority Leader John Bell, R-Wayne, is meant to help improve crisis intervention and services for veterans suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues.

    House Bill 370, No Veteran Left Behind Act, creates a pilot program for several military and veteran heavy counties in North Carolina to improve and expand training for local law enforcement and first responders, a news release says. It focuses on dealing with veteran-specific crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and available resources at the Department of Veterans Affairs, including Brunswick, Craven, Cumberland, Onslow, Union and Wayne counties.

    “More than 100,000 active duty service members and over 600,000 veterans call North Carolina home,” Bell said. “Our veterans and their families face unique challenges, especially those on active duty. After talking with veteran advocates, law enforcement and local leaders, we believe the No Veteran Left Behind Act will help address an important need in our state by providing local law enforcement with additional training to assist veterans in need.”

    Other bill sponsors are House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, and Rep. Charlie Miller, R-Brunswick.
    “North Carolina is the proud home to hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families who served the United States in our Armed Forces and face unique challenges in this pandemic recovery,” said Moore in a statement.

    “The No Veteran Left Behind Act will benefit not just North Carolina veterans in pilot counties, but their communities and local leaders, as well. We are committed to identifying statewide needs through this initiative that will help more military families succeed in our state.”

    The training will be administered through The Independence Fund Inc., a North Carolina-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of veterans and their families. Under the bill, the release says, The Independence Fund will partner with state and local governments to assess each county’s initial response to veterans in crises and conclude with an updated data collection process map developed.

    Cleveland said the bill is important for military heavy areas such as Onslow County, which is home to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
    “As a retired Marine and the representative of a district with tens of thousands of active duty service members and veterans, I believe this legislation will help our local law enforcement and first responders better support veterans and military families,” Cleveland said.

    The No Veteran Left Behind Act also has the support of local sheriffs, who will be included in the pilot program, including Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes, who said he believes it will help them better meet the needs of the many veterans and active duty service members in their county.

  • 12 cooper podiumMore than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic brought North Carolina to a screeching halt, Gov. Roy Cooper shows no sign of relinquishing the sweeping and open-ended emergency powers he has claimed under state law.

    The General Assembly is now trying once again to clarify exactly what a governor should have the power to do on his own during a state of emergency — and how long “emergencies” should be able
    to last.

    A new bill that would rewrite the state’s Emergency Management Act advanced through a House Judiciary committee this week. It now sits in the House Rules Committee.

    North Carolina’s current law allows the governor to declare a state of emergency at any time, and it does not end until the governor declares it over. During such a period, the governor has broad powers to regulate gatherings, close schools, shutter businesses, or mandate evacuations.

    The law appears to require Council of State concurrence for some of these powers, but when Cooper was challenged last summer over several of his executive orders, a judge ruled that North Carolina’s governor can make these decisions unilaterally

    Under House Bill 264, a state of emergency would end within seven days unless the Council of State authorizes it to last longer. The Council of State would then need to vote to continue the state of emergency every 30 days.

    The governor would also need Council of State approval to exercise most of the powers to prohibit and restrict activity and business.

    “A year ago, when the shutdown order was entered, most people in our state didn’t believe that the governor had the ability to shut our entire state down. Most people assumed there were at least some form of checks and balances on that sort of measure,” said Destin Hall, R-Caldwell, when the bill was first introduced.

    “Our state is going to face other emergencies in the future. We’ve got to build public trust in an emergency situation. The way we do that, try to take the politics out of it, is through a deliberative process. This bill would give us that deliberative process.”

    The Council of State is made up of the independently elected statewide officials under the state constitution, including the lieutenant governor, state auditor, state treasurer, and secretary of state. Notably, the bill does not include new legislative oversight.

    Other states have taken up similar bills as the coronavirus has shone a light on the shortcomings of most state emergency laws, which historically have been used primarily during hurricanes or other natural disasters.

    New York’s state legislature, for example, passed a law this month requiring more oversight of its governor’s emergency powers.

    In North Carolina, Cooper would need to sign this new emergency powers bill for it to go into effect. This is unlikely. Over the past year, Cooper has vetoed any effort to rein in his control.

    Instead, he has preferred to go it alone — something General Assembly leaders have noted.

    “The current law that granted these emergency powers was simply not written for today’s challenges,” Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, said when the bill was first introduced. “There needs to be more bipartisan input and checks and balances. There is no unilateral rule in a constitutional republic.”

  • 11 Socially distanced classroom 3Cumberland County Schools will transition to Plan A beginning Monday, April 12. The Cumberland County Board of Education approved the changeover during a recent special meeting. Under Plan A, all students will be eligible to attend class in person on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week. Wellness Wednesday will be an independent remote learning day for all students so school buildings can be cleaned.

    School-based virtual learning options remain open to students. Plan A does not require schools to reduce the usual number of students in the classroom. Social distancing is not required on school buses. CCS will continue the process of temperature screening students and others who enter school buildings.

    Social distancing protocols will be in effect inside schools and visitor limitations remain in effect. Students, faculty members and staff must wear masks or face coverings in school and on school buses.

    All families had the opportunity of deciding if their children would transition to Plan A or switch to full-time virtual learning. Families of students who are currently participating in full-time virtual learning which did not complete preference forms prior to the deadline, will remain remote through May 2021. Students enrolled in virtual academies are not eligible to transfer to other schools in the district at this time and will remain at the virtual academies through May.

    School pupils began returning to class earlier this month. They were divided into two groups. Some attended school on Monday and Tuesday. Others returned to classrooms on Thursday and Friday. Schools Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr., acknowledged the time and effort that has been spent making students' return a “safe and healthy one.” Dedicated employees “have worked around the clock to prepare for a hybrid teaching and learning model,” he said. “And we cannot forget the work of our staff members who are making sure we’re prepared to operate safely, effectively and efficiently."

    Students, for their part, likely have lost months of learning as they return to classrooms. Most kids yearn for social connection with their peers and teachers, and the pandemic has caused many of them to fall behind. Some lack internet access at home and have resorted to finding nearby school buses outfitted with high-speed Wi-Fi. Cumberland County schools have discontinued the process because buses are on the road again. Lacking access to in-person schooling can also put some children at risk of going without meals or spending increased time with abusive relatives.

    Remote learning has exacerbated the institutional harms that were already being inflicted on many families.

    Virtual schooling could have a silver lining though: some children may end up being more resilient on the other side of the pandemic. Navigating uncertainty, maintaining hope for the future, and relying on community resources to overcome challenges are skills some youngsters could be developing.

    For many students, learning from home can also be healthier than in-person schooling. Deepening their bond with parents, for instance, sets foundations for trust and empathy.

  • 10 Fayetteville Beautiful logoPublic registration for the Fayetteville Beautiful community cleanup event begins soon. Fayetteville residents and non-residents can participate. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 17. This year there are some changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants and event organizers should wear masks and practice social distancing. On the day of the event participants are asked to drive into the marked entrance at Hay St. and Hurley Way to receive trash bags, fliers and water. Event organizers and participants should wear masks during the supply pick up and community cleanup event. Interested people can register online at www.fayettevillebeautiful.com. Scroll down to the active map, select a cleanup location, and click “Register.” Group representatives should include the number of volunteers that will

  • 09 food giveawayAlliance Health, Hope4NC, Noonday Kitchen and Mercy Chefs will host a food giveaway to address food insecurity in Cumberland County on April 13 from 8 a.m. until noon at the John D. Fuller Recreation Center, 6627 Old Bunce Road in Fayetteville. This event is open to all Alliance members as well as the community. Community members who are picking up one or two boxes can just show up at the event. Community partners who are seeking bulk packaging are asked to pre-register at http://bit.ly/foodboxpickup.
    USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is partnering with national, regional and local food distributors who have been impacted by COVID-19. This partnership purchases fresh produce, dairy and meat products from American producers. Distributors package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.

  • 08 veteran vaccineMilitary veterans, their spouses and caregivers will be able to receive coronavirus vaccines through the Department of Veterans Affairs once doses are made available, under legislation finalized by Congress. Veterans Affairs leaders supported the move, saying they did not want to turn away any veteran from receiving the shot if they were available. But under current rules, department medical centers were permitted to administer vaccines only to veterans already eligible for VA health care services, and for certain caregivers registered in VA support programs. That totals just under 7 million individuals. Under the new bill, that number is expected to jump to more than 20 million. It will make vaccines available “to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers... and Department of Veterans Affairs recipients to the extent that such vaccines are available.”

  • 04 Pinwheel KitApril is Child Abuse Prevention Month and for the past 11 years our community has honored children by planting blue pinwheels in honor of child abuse prevention. The pinwheel represents the bright future that every child deserves.

    The Child Advocacy Center received a total of 876 reports of child abuse during FY 19/20, a 20% increase over FY 18/19. Currently, we are continuing to see those numbers increase as well. For the period July 1 until December 31, 2020, the CAC received a total of 521 reports of suspected abuse, up 29% from the same period in 2019.

    This has been a difficult year on so many levels due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has brought about so many changes, as well as uncertainty. These challenges have brought about more time at home, more time on electronic devices and less time being able to safely socialize with friends in general. Until last week, children in our community had not been inside a classroom since March 13, 2020.
    Jeanne Allert, CEO and Founder of The Samaritan Women, in Baltimore, Maryland, presented a webinar about Victimology: Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. She shared that professionals are already discussing the impact the pandemic may have on children and families once children begin to re-engage in a more traditional school schedule. Educators account for 50% of reports of child abuse.

    April is also a time to look forward – a time to be a part of ensuring that every child has a bright future. All children deserve to grow up in loving, stable and stimulating environments, in their home, church, school and in the community. Most of all, we want childhood to be a time when children no longer live in fear.

    This year, we want more than ever to have a significant presence with pinwheels heavily displayed throughout our community. We want to cohesively and prominently show that our community supports children. April is an ideal time for our community to reflect and to recognize the children who have been victimized through the pain of abuse — physical, emotional and/or sexual.

    At the CAC, our vision is a community where children feel safe, nurtured and loved. April is a time to remind us that no matter the challenges, to include a global pandemic, we face as individuals, caring for all our children must always be our priority.

    You can join us in promoting healthy childhoods for our children. You can purchase a pinwheel garden kit (24 pinwheels and a yard sign) for $40 or a Pinwheel Vase (eight pinwheels in a vase with ribbon) for $15. Visit our website CACFayNC.org to place your order. Once you plant your garden of pinwheels or display your pinwheel vase, tag us on your social media, include the following hashtags – #passthepinwheel, #cacfayncpinwheels2021, #pinwheelsforprevention

    During the month of April, the CAC will be hosting “Read-Along Story Times” on Tuesday of each week. We will be reading books that talk about body safety, boundaries and how to say no when the child feels uncomfortable. You can view these on the CAC’s Facebook & Instagram pages or on our website CACFayNC.org.

    These are great opportunities to talk with your child about appropriate touching and setting boundaries. Research has shown, it is better to start teaching children about body safety when they are young and to continue throughout their childhood. It is never too late to begin.

    This April and throughout the year, let’s all join together to provide help, hope and healing to children who have been victimized by abuse. Join us in creating a community (and beyond) where children feel safe to run and play, where all children feel love and accepted versus living in fear.

    We hope to see blue pinwheels spinning in the sun and throughout our community this April reminding us all that EACH child deserves a happy childhood.

    Community members can join CAC for a virtual Pinwheel Planting at noon on April 1 on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CACFayNC. To learn more about how you can participate, please check out the Facebook page, the website or call 910-486-9700. For more information about April and Child Abuse Prevention, including how to become involved in prevention, follow CAC on social media or visit the website www.CACFayNC.org. Happy Pinwheel Planting!

  • 07 IMG 6382Hey you! Is the world too much with you? Reality got you down? Tired of putting up with stuff? Like Joe in “Showboat,” are you “tired of living but scared of dying”?

    Congratulations, you have come to the right place. As the emcee in “Cabaret” said, “Leave your troubles outside. In here life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful.” Today’s lesson will be how to be happy. If this sounds a bit Polly Anna-ish, or even if you don’t know who Polly Anna was, take a chance any way, read the rest of this stain on world literature. Either you will be glad you did or you will waste three minutes of your life which you might have squandered on something equally trivial. The choice is yours, read on MacDuff or turn the page.

    Let us begin with our old friend Alice in Wonderland. She has the formula for happiness in the face of adversity. Jefferson Airplane suggested to “Go Ask Alice/ I think she’ll know.” Turns out the Airplane was correct. Alice reveals how to be a cockeyed optimist in her Chapter entitled “Pig & Pepper.” Learn how Alice turns limes into margaritas. Alice is lost in the woods when she comes upon a house. She sees a fish dressed as a footman go to the house to knock on the door. The door is answered by a footman who has the head of a frog. A lesser mortal might have quietly backed into the woods as mutated footmen seldom bode well for the casual observer. Alice is made of
    sturdier stuff.

    She marches up to the house but has a frustrating conversation with the Frog footman. Realizing the Frog is not going to help her, she opens the door herself and barges inside. Not to mix metaphors, but the house is not like that of the Three Bears. There is no porridge but it is occupied by three unpleasant beings: the Cook, the Duchess, and her Baby. The kitchen looks like a scene from the Three Stooges. Instead of throwing pies at each other, the Cook is dumping way too much pepper in the soup while throwing pots, pans and kitchen utensils at the Duchess and her Baby. The Duchess is sneezing. Her baby is alternating between sneezing and howling. It’s a pretty wild scene, lacking only hungry wolves, a mob of Oath Keepers, and a school of flying jellyfish to be double plus ungood.

    Alice, being a good-hearted sort, becomes quite concerned that the Baby will be seriously injured when a flying sauce pan nearly takes off the Baby’s nose. The Duchess, having been invited to play croquet with the Queen, exits stage right tossing the Baby to Alice. Alice catches the Baby which is bucking and writhing around in her arms while making a disturbing snorting noise. Alice takes on the role of Protective Services carrying the struggling Baby outside to avoid further kitchen flying objects. “If I don’t take this child away with me,” thought Alice, “they’re sure to kill it in a day or two, wouldn’t it be murder to leave it behind?”

    Once outside the Baby commenced to grunting instead of howling. This disturbed Alice. Looking at the Baby she noticed its nose had become turned up. It began to appear to be more of a snout than a nose. Its eyes had shrunk into pig like beady marbles. She told the Baby “If you’re going to turn into a pig, my dear, I’ll have nothing more to do with you.” After a bit more time, the Baby began seriously grunting. Alice looked again and sure enough, the Baby had turned into a pig. Alice put the Pig/Baby down and “felt quite relieved to see it trot away quietly into the woods.”

    Now here comes the lesson of today’s column wherein Alice makes the best of a bad situation. A lot of people would be freaked out by a Baby morphing into a pig. A lot of people might have considered such an event catastrophic for the Baby. A lot of people might have considered selling the Baby to a barbecue restaurant. But not Alice. She looks on the bright side. Alice relentlessly acts like two fried eggs by keeping her sunny side up. The reverse of the Pygmalion transformation of a statue into a lady does not dismay her in the least. Alice thinks: “It would have made a dreadfully ugly child but makes a rather a handsome pig, I think.” She then “began thinking over other children she knew; who might do very well as pigs if one only knew the right way to change them.”

    So, there is our lesson for the day. If circumstances go awry, find the positive buried deep within the muck. Look for the rather handsome pig in every situation. Reframe reality to see the good even if it means you are delusional. Be like the old song: “You’ve got to accentuate the positive/ Eliminate the negative/ Latch on the affirmative/ Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.”

    Another plus is there is no proof that dinosaurs became extinct because their diet consisted solely of Blooming Onions from the Outback Steakhouse. Chow down!

  • 05 in line polling placeLast week brought complicated, and in some ways horrifying news. First there was the Boulder shooting that left 10 people dead and yet another American community in shocked mourning. The most concerning aspect of such shootings is that they have become our new and accepted normal. Unless they happen in our own community or to people we know, perhaps even love, they garner brief national attention. Most Americans then move on until the
    next one.

    Many people, this writer included, believed that the 2012 murders of 6 and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School would motivate us to look at why we allow so few restrictions on gun ownership, even allowing private ownership of military style automatic weapons.

    Instead, we seemingly decided even gunning down children was something we could live with in order to keep our firearms. It also remains true that while mass shootings get our attention for at least a brief period, far more of us die from shootings under other, less spectacular circumstances.

    Americans who yearn for less carnage and are willing to accept more restrictions, including this writer, are coming to understand that nothing is going to happen until there is a mass public outcry as has happened with the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements. Perhaps this graphic from The New York Times can help us see how extreme an outlier our nation is when it comes to gun violence.

    Pay attention, and be very afraid.

    In addition to death by firearms, our democracy continues to be under threat. In the wake of the 2020 elections, state legislatures all across the country are debating and passing laws restricting Americans’ right to vote. Georgia’s governor signed into law last week perhaps the most regressive voting provisions since the Jim Crow era, already being dubbed “Jim Crow 2.0.” The jaw-dropping measure severely limits absentee voting and actually criminalizes giving people in line to vote either water or food.

    If it were only Georgia, that would be one thing, but 40-some-odd states either restrict voting or are overwhelmingly gerrymandered or both. Several highly restrictive voting measures in North Carolina have been struck down in court, but ours remains one of if not the most gerrymandered state in the nation.

    The U.S. House has just passed the For the People Act making registering and voting more accessible, but the bill faces fierce Senate opposition.

    The question facing all Americans of both parties is “do we want a democratic country enough to fight for the rights of all Americans, not just those traditionally in power?” Germany and Italy lost their democracies in the first part of the 20th century as did several South American nations in the latter part of the century. There is no reason whatsoever to believe “American exceptionalism” immunizes us from the grasp of an authoritarian government.

    Finally, and on a more positive note, it feels like the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Vaccinations are ahead of schedule in North Carolina, and Governor Cooper continues to loosen COVID restrictions. Already, there have been some excesses. A nightclub area in Raleigh was overrun by unmasked revelers, with one quoted in the News and Observer saying, “We’re like puppies out of the pound.”

    Others are reacting more slowly, as if they cannot quite remember how to be out and about with other people. Either way, we should understand how easily a resurgence could occur and that masks and distancing are still in force, vaccinations notwithstanding.

    That said, it does feel good to be even a little less confined.

  • 06 Fox News on Gun Control copyOn Inauguration Day, I was encouraged to hear President Biden focus much of his speech on unity, going so far as saying, “We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.”

    However, more than halfway through President Biden’s first 100 days in office, I have yet to see that olive branch be extended. I came to Washington to fight for you, no matter who is president, and to work across the aisle to deliver real results. Unfortunately, President Biden’s promises of unity have so far been empty words on issues like COVID relief, infrastructure, immigration and the latest — gun control.

    Amidst a global pandemic, we are experiencing a heartbreaking humanitarian crisis on our southern border and it is being ignored by the administration for political reasons. The media continues to cover for President Biden, but nearly twice as many unaccompanied minors are being apprehended daily than during the peak of 2019.

    During this Biden border surge, according to a report last week, criminal organizations trafficking women, children and families have earned as much as $14 million a day.

    Migrants are packed together in facilities and not being tested for COVID-19, then being released to travel to states including North Carolina. Also, in the last week, only 13% of 13,000 migrants were returned to Mexico. These facts all point to a worsening border crisis that must be addressed.

    However, instead of focusing on the border, last week President Biden unveiled a new $3 trillion spending package disguised as an infrastructure bill. The only problem — this bill will be full of Green New Deal climate initiatives that will make it harder to build any new infrastructure that our country needs. This package follows up on their $2 trillion non-COVID relief bill that was passed without a single Republican vote.

    Once again, it is clear the Democrats will try and go at it alone. To pay for this package, they plan to raise your taxes, wiping out the historic tax cuts from President Trump and during one of the hardest financial years our country has seen. Cutting taxes and regulations the last four years unleashed the greatest economy we have seen — record low unemployment, record low poverty among all races and record high median income.

    As Washington Democrats aim to reverse these policies and push their massive Green New Deal spending, hold on to your wallets, folks.

    Last week, I was also devastated to see the recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado. As I have said, as a father, I am committed to ending this scourge of gun violence. That’s why as recently as this month, I have championed legislation that increases school safety, supports mental health, expands information sharing and tackles the root causes of gun violence.

    Unfortunately, many on the left have rushed to politicize the recent tragedies in order to push for gun control legislation that harms law-abiding citizens and would have done nothing to prevent previous mass shootings. Earlier this month, House Democrats passed H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 that would turn law-abiding citizens into criminals for helping a friend or neighbor and allow a government bureaucrat to delay a firearm sale indefinitely. These bills would only threaten our Second Amendment rights and are not the solutions we need. As President Biden and Washington Democrats renew their push for these bills, I am calling on my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to work together and pass targeted measures that would fix the problem.

    If President Biden meant what he said, I remain ready to work together to end the crisis on the border, invest in our infrastructure, and end the tragic scourge of gun violence. So far, it looks like the Biden administration is working to appease the radical left, but I will not be discouraged from working to solve problems and
    represent you.

  • 04 Dr Frank StoutThe Fayetteville community was shocked to learn recently that long-time civic leader and orthodontist Dr. Frank Stout died earlier this month. He was 77. He practiced orthodontics from 1970–1998, when he retired. Dr. Stout and his father developed the Bordeaux Motor Inn and Convention Center, the Bordeaux Recreation Center, and the high-rise Apartel off Bragg Blvd. In 1998, he and his wife, Carolyn, made a major gift to Methodist University where he was Trustee/Emeritus. The donation led to the construction of Joe W. Stout Hall in memoriam to his father. The building houses the university’s admissions office. Stout died on March 6. He is survived by wife Carolyn, son, Cam, and daughter-in-law Kelly Craver Stout. He was preceded in death by his older son, Frank Stout Jr.

  • 01 01 12004710 10156267691740107 1215836511497132668 nAndrew and Gail Morfesis are very active in the community. The prominent power couple’s contributions continue to provide services and entertainment to the citizens of Fayetteville.

    Andrew is a medical doctor and his wife, Gail, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice. He has a clinic, Owen Drive Surgical Clinic, where he performs surgery under local anesthesia.

    “He still sees people for medical issues and surgery which is a great benefit to the community because things that can be safely done in the office is much cheaper for people,” said Gail Morfesis. “Even if you have insurance you still have to pay a co-pay and sometimes it is cost prohibitive to have things done, so people just try not to have them done even if it is painful or unpleasant.”

    She added that two days a week her husband works for North Carolina Hyperbarics where they treat individuals with ulcers on their arms and legs.

    Gail took an early retirement from UNC Pembroke in 2007, and since then she has been doing what she loves doing the most — directing and producing shows.

    “I was contacted by the Crown Theatre last year to write an interactive murder mystery for them,” said Morfesis. “It was the first show I ever wrote and the play is based around songs because that is my background.”

    The play is entitled “Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” and the plot of the play is quite intriguing. Gail shares, “It starts out with a karaoke theme and I am the main actress in the show. I am the older actress who starts an agency called “It’s All About You Agency” to promote young artists. During the years that I am doing this, I meet my husband who was performing at a club. I hired him to become part of the agency and then we get married. The plot of this is that he tries to take over the agency from me which is really a stable of young women singers. Of course due to his philandering, we never know which of the ladies that are in the cast of characters has actually killed him. At the end of the first act he is actually electrocuted by the karaoke machine, but anyone in the cast could have manipulated that. During the course of the story all of his interactions with different women comes out. It’s just a really fun show.”

    The cast includes Gail, five female singers/actresses, and two police officer characters. At the end of the show it is revealed who committed the murder.

    “The play is interactive so the audience gets to asks questions of the cast,” said Morfesis.

    “We usually have a foreman at each table that gets to ask the question and during their dessert time they get to talk about why they think different characters may have done it as well as ask one question of one character.”

    She added, “Each table will get to vote on who they think committed the murder and the tables that guess the correct character will win some kind of prize.”

    Up & Coming Weekly is sponsoring the play. The performances are Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at Gates Four Golf & Country Club.

    When not putting on shows, Gail works with many organizations in the community.

    “I was asked by Hank Parfitt, president of the Lafayette Society of Fayetteville, to start doing a concert for them every year of French music to supplement Lafayette’s birthday weekend,” said Morfesis. “I have been doing a concert for them for the last 12 years and I do involve local artists in town and people that work for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra.”

    “Because of the Lafayette Society, I worked a good bit at Methodist University because Methodist houses the Lafayette Collection of artifacts and initially for the first ten years we did our concert and our artifacts display on the same night,” said Morfesis.

    “It is kind of funny because I never really worked for Methodist but most people thought I did because I did those concerts there
    every year.”

    Gail has also worked with Dr. Marvin Curtis at Fayetteville State University performing lead roles for three years in the summer opera as well as directing shows for UNC Pembroke and the Gilbert Theater.

    “I have sung with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra in the past and at the Gilbert I directed and produced about five to six different shows there,” said Morfesis.

    “I also worked with Fayetteville Technical Community College as their music director for some of their shows and also directed their choir two years ago when they were between instructors.”

    She added, “I do a lot of work with civic organizations and I feel like you need to give back to your community so I have done work with Heritage Square. They were unable to do their annual Christmas Tour of Homes in December 2020, so I was the emcee for their one-hour video of the homes here in Fayetteville. I was called by The Care Clinic to help them with their upcoming wine and silent auction that will take place in May of this year. The Crown has contacted me to write another play for the fall of this year.”

    So, what’s next on the horizon for Gail?

    “I would like to start a company for up and coming theater people that I would like to call 'Femme Fatale' which means the deadly woman,” said Morfesis. “There’s a lot of talented women who have written shows and are really great actresses and I would like to continue seeing the work that I have done.”

    “I try to work with as many organizations as I can to better the life of the people in the community,” said Morfesis. “If you really reach out and do something for people you will become a part of the community and you can do great things.”

    Tickets for the Fayetteville Diner Theatre can be purchased at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com.

  • 08 P1060728The Gilbert Theater brings the scandalous, fascinating and infamous story and play
    “Oedipus Rex” to the stage from March 26 until April 11.

    The play was originally written by Sophocles as a part of the trilogy “The Theban Plays” that included Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone. It was first performed in 429 B.C. and the story has notoriously stuck around till present day. The story has also influenced the works of Sigmund Freud and psychologists who study the ‘Oedipus complex.’

    “The plot is very simple, there’s a massive plague going on where everyone’s dying in the streets and the people are begging the king, Oedipus, to find some kind of solution,” said Montgomery Sutton, the director for
    “Oedipus Rex.”

    The play dives into the prophecy and investigation of an unsolved murder of the former king of Thebes to end the plague. That unleashes a lot of events and people called in for questions and stories in a “thrilleresque” way, he said.

    “Playing Oedipus is definitely a role I haven’t had to tackle before, it's definitely brought some enlightenment during the rehearsal process in that, it's something broader than what we know about Oedipus and the Oedipus complex,” said actor Deannah Robinson. “There is more sympathy for him than what we are used to.”

    Sutton, a returning director at the theater, directed “Antigone” about three years ago at the Gilbert. His expertise in theatre is acting, directing and playwriting.

    The audience will watch the performance in a non-traditional setting, sitting in a tennis court arrangement, sitting on each side facing one another while the action takes place in the middle.

    “I am a big fan of that style, one of the things that makes it unique is the performance will never be the same twice and there will never be two audiences who are the same,” Sutton said.

    Robinson said she’s excited about the fluidity of the show from beginning to end.

    This adaptation looks at the origins of Greek theatre as both an artistic, civic and religious event, so the music becomes more of a rock-folk-hymn style that should be very relevant to the audience, Sutton said.

    “It's so good, so good,” Robinson said.

    “Last night after we wrapped up, I sat in my car and cried because it's been a year since I felt so connected to the character in a play in a way that was real and had a heart-to-heart with them,” said actor Ella Mock, who plays four different characters in the play.

    I love it, it's such a challenge, it’s really like the original Greek theatre style, where the chorus would have different masks, costume signifiers being really obvious that they are the same actors playing different roles, they said.

    Sutton added that the play may raise a lot of questions concerning current cultural and political issues, many of which the audience will recognize in the play.

    “They can look forward to 90 minutes of edge of your seat, lightning-fire thriller, it’s incredibly intense,” Sutton said.


  • 06 HarmoneyMother, finance professional, and now an author — Crystal McLean is changing the scene by introducing a children’s book that talks about finances. Inspired by her daughter, she is here to change the “generational cycle” of children growing up not understanding finances.

    City Center Gallery & Books will host a virtual meet and greet on their Facebook page with McLean March 25 at 6:15 p.m. to discuss her book
    “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank.” On March 27 at 1 p.m., there will be an in-person, socially-distanced book signing at the store on Hay Street in Fayetteville.

    McLean is a graduate of Fayetteville State University. Starting off as a University of North Carolina at Pembroke student, she took some time off and worked in the finance industry. When she went back to school at FSU they had launched a new program in banking and finance, which was something McLean was passionate about. Now, having published a children’s books on finances, she is here to normalize the topic in a child-friendly way.

    Growing up, McLean said she had very little knowledge about the subject of finances. “Growing up, finance was a very taboo topic. If you have it, you talk about it, but if you didn’t have it, you didn’t talk about it,” McLean said.

    The frustrating part to her was in school the subject was not taught.

    “It’s inevitable to have to pay bills, taxes, etc. If it’s not taught it sets them up for financial failure,” she said.

    McLean decided to do something about it by publishing the book, “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank.” The children’s book explains the principles of money, saving versus investing, budgeting, and more on a level that children can grasp. She wrote this because when she took her daughter, who was about seven at the time, to pick out finance books, there were none.

    This book will provide parents an opportunity to bring up the topic of finances with their children. It explains money in a child-friendly story with pictures and with a language that kids will understand. McLean said she was inspired by two books: “Amber’s Magical Savings Box” by Rachel Hanible and “Wesley Learns to Invest” by
    Prince Dykes.

    McLean hopes that reading “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank” will invite parents to bring up the topic with their kids. She wants readers to know that the next generation is watching what we are doing now, with everything, including the way we handle our finances. McLean wants parents to know that she would love for them to reach out about any questions they may have when exploring the world of finance with their children.

    McLean wants people to know she is a woman on a mission to make a difference. Her book is available on Amazon and her website. For more information about the author and her book please visit her website, https://www.authorcrystalmclean.com/ or email, hello@authorcrystalmclean.com.

  • 11 Rba503ad130ea82f55e77f0c3bc0875c2 Hunger GamesWilmington’s Republican senator has teamed up with a Winston-Salem Democrat to push a bill that would expand North Carolina’s film grant program — a program critics say is actually a money loser for the state.

    Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, and Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, are the primary sponsors of Senate Bill 268, which would add $34 million to the Film and Entertainment Grant Fund over the next
    _two years.

    That’s on top of the $31 million per year the grant program already receives. The film grants were established by the General Assembly in 2014, and reimburse filmmakers up to a quarter of their production costs for a movie or TV show filmed in North Carolina. The idea is to incentivize major productions — movies with a budget above $3 million and TV episodes costing $1 million or more — in the state, bringing with them jobs and spending.

    “Securing the multi-year grant funding would show that the legislature is supportive and responsive to the state’s film industry and the needs of the studios,” Lee wrote on his Facebook page.

    “That includes their desire to have fiscal certainty when looking to base a potential multi-year production, like a TV series that often becomes synonymous with where it is shot.”

    Wilmington, home to EUE/Screen Gems Studios, has a long history with the film industry. It’s been the setting for movies such as “Iron Man 3” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” as well as as TV shows like “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill.”

    The Film and Entertainment Grant Fund replaced a film income tax credit program that offered up to $20 million per production. The new grant program has already tripled in size since being introduced fewer than seven years ago.

    But studies have shown that film grants and incentive fail to deliver the economic impact they promise.

    North Carolina’s programs paid out more than $400 million between 2005 and 2018, but brought back somewhere between 19 cents and 61 cents on the dollar, independent analysts show.

    States are increasingly exiting the film incentive business. Twelve states have repealed their programs in the past decade.

    “As with other incentives programs, taking money from other people caring for their families and working in other productive endeavors to give to, in this case, film production has consistently shown to be on net bad for the state economy,” said Jon Sanders, senior fellow, regulatory studies and research editor at the John Locke Foundation.

  • 12 unc board cj photo by Maya ReaganThe General Assembly is set to add new members to the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors. The board governs the consolidated system, encompassing 16 public universities across the state and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. The board has 24 voting members, elected by the state Senate and House to staggered, four-
    year terms.

    Former N.C. Rep. John Fraley, R-Iredell, is the sole new House pick to join the BOG. The House plans to re-appoint current board members Kellie Blue, former Rep. Leo Daughtry, Carolyn Coward, Reginald Holley, and Wendy Murphy. While in the General Assembly, Fraley chaired the higher education committee overseeing the UNC System.

    “Fraley has been a longtime supporter of the UNC System. It’s not a surprise to see him added to the UNC Board of Governors,” said Jenna Robinson, president of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

    Fraley would replace Doyle Parrish, owner of hotel development company Summit Hospitality Group. Parrish did not seek reappointment due to a recent surgery.

    Rep. Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston, who leads the BOG appointment process in the House, told CJ the appointments of both new and returning board members represent a broad selection of talented North Carolinians. They’ll help the UNC System stay affordable, deliver an educated work force, and meet the evolving needs and challenges of higher education in North Carolina, Hastings said.

    “We have a strong group of diverse people from varying backgrounds. They are put in place to have a calming hand during difficult and fast-changing times.”

    New members chosen by the Senate are Lee Roberts, Sonja Nichols, and Kirk Bradley.

    Art Pope, Randy Ramsey, and Jimmy Clark were reelected. The new members would replace current board members Marty Kotis, Steven Long, and Dwight Stone.

    “The addition of Lee Roberts to the UNC Board of Governors may signal the General Assembly’s interest in scrutinizing the university system’s finances,” said Robinson. Roberts and Pope served as state budget directors under former Gov. Pat McCrory.

    Republican Sonja Nichols, 55, is an African American businesswoman and philanthropist with strong connections to the Charlotte business community. While she ran for N.C. Senate and was defeated as a Republican, Nichols’ politics are unusual. She voted for President Obama but supported much of President Trump’s education reform agenda, including Trump’s support for historically black colleges and universities.

    “Sonja is a bridge builder; she brings people of all backgrounds together to help those in need,” said Chris Sinclair, a close Nichols friend and her 2020 Senate campaign consultant.

    “Sonja will bring a breath of fresh air and a unique perspective to help HBCUs grow and thrive in North Carolina. She will be an excellent addition to the UNC BOG and will greatly help with UNC’s diversity, equality, and inclusion programs.”

    Former Democratic state Sen. Joel Ford was elected to fill a seat on the board left vacant when Darrell Allison resigned. Allison later won appointment as chancellor at Fayetteville State University.

  • 10 POTATO HEADI cannot believe that I am writing this article. It seems like America is trying its best to neuter nature on sexually inanimate objects. Dr. Seuss gets schooled on what is hurtful and wrong. Coke tries to change skin color through instruction while the government is doing its part to reduce the world’s population, all in the last few weeks.

    Hasbro decided they will make the beloved Mr. Potato Head gender-neutral when it announced that it would be dropping “Mr.” and “Mrs.” from the brand as part of a gender-inclusive push.

    Mr. Potato Head was invented and developed by George Lerner in 1949 and first manufactured and distributed by Hasbro in 1952. By 1953, it became clear that Mr. Potato Head needed a family. Mrs. Potato Head hit the market, and they had two children, Yam and Spud. Even their kids who had friends called Kate the Carrot, Pete the Pepper, Oscar the Orange, and Cookie Cucumber, soon joined the family. The Head’s worked hard, and their makers blessed them with such luxury as a car, boat and a kitchen.

    The last time we really saw the Potato Heads was in the “Toy Story” movies. Throughout the history of the toy, no one told Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head that they did not have genitalia. For most kids, it was hard enough to keep up with their ears, eyes and assorted hats, never mind their private parts. However, the big brains at Hasbro are not leaving the idea of kids being able to mix parts up; they put the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head right on the front pages by announcing the name changes to “Potato Heads.”

    “Culture has evolved. Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences,” Kimberly Boyd, Hasbro’s senior vice president of global brands, told Fast Company. “The way the brand currently exists — with the ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ — is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”

    Hours later, after an uproar on social media, Hasbro tweeted, “Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere!” Hasbro said that it was the toy brand that was being changed and would release a “family kit” that will allow children to create all types of families.

    Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to stop publishing six books, including “And to Think That I saw it Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” McElligot’s Pool,” On Beyond Zebra!,” Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

    The Enterprise told the Associated Press that it stopped the books’ publication because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

    In Coca-Cola’s diversity training, a slide presentation told employees “to be less white is to: be less oppressive, be less arrogant, be less certain, be less defensive, be less ignorant, be more humble, listen, believe, break with apathy, break with white solidarity.” I do not have the answer to corporate racial issues, but this sounds very racist.

    Some stories are better seen than reading. It is worth the time to watch the full six-minute exchange on YouTube. During the confirmation hearings of President Biden’s choice for Assistant Secretary for Health, Senator and Doctor, Rand Paul (R-Ky.), asked Dr. Rachel Levine if she supported youth transgender reassignment and was criticized because he asked, “genital mutilation is considered particularly egregious because... it is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.” He went on to ask if she supports permitting the government to override a parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and “amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia.” Dr. Levin responded with this is “a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed.” She promised that if confirmed, she would come to his office for a discussion on standards of care for transgender minors.

    Paul went on to say that Dr. Levin supported the acceleration of minors and to allow decisions on such life-changing procedures. For the record, many parents will not allow a child to buy a cell phone more or less change their sex.

    President Biden signed an executive order reversing the Mexico City policy, permitting U.S. aid money to fund groups that provide or promote abortion around the globe. This policy was first put in place by President Reagan in order to ensure that taxpayers were not required to indirectly fund abortions in other countries. This policy was expanded under the Trump administration to deny assistance to foreign nongovernmental organizations that fund other groups that support abortion services. President Biden signed executive actions aimed at expanding access to Obamacare during the coronavirus pandemic and rolling back anti-abortion policies that had been expanded by former President
    Donald Trump.

    “I’m not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law,” Biden said before signing the orders. “This is going back to what the situation was prior to the president’s executive orders.”

  • 07 money clotheslineThe $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill just enacted by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden gives out $1,400 checks to most Americans. It boosts the child-tax credit, keeps weekly unemployment-insurance checks $300 higher than normal, and throws lots of other (borrowed) money around.

    I realize that, given the effects of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, most voters seem to like Biden’s bill. But I think they are mistaken. It is a reckless and irresponsible bill — one that, I’m pleased to report, most of North Carolina’s congressional delegation voted against.

    Over the past year, the federal government has authorized $4.1 trillion in response to the COVID crisis. I supported some of that initial spending. We had a public-health emergency and a sudden, sharp economic decline. It was reasonable to expand UI eligibility and payments for a time. It was reasonable to supply liquidity to businesses clobbered by public-health regulations. It was reasonable to put billions of dollars on the table for vaccine development, assisting and incentivizing the pharmaceutical industry to achieve one of the greatest medical advances in the history of our planet.

    Given that the federal government entered the crisis with its budget already severely out-of-whack — running trillion-dollar deficits — it was even reasonable to pay for last year’s COVID response with borrowed money. We weren’t going to raise federal taxes in the midst of all this.

    Of course, all federal debts are paid with federal taxes in one form or another. To spend $4.1 trillion today on reasonable priorities is, inevitably, to spend $4.1 trillion less in the future on other things, or to pay $4.1 trillion (plus interest) in higher taxes in the future. That’s just math.

    Actually, though, we didn’t spend all that $4.1 trillion authorized in 2020. According to the latest estimates, some $1 trillion of it remains unspent at this writing. So here’s strike one against Biden’s new $1.9 spending spree — last year’s spending spree isn’t even over yet!

    Clearly some of last year’s “emergency” need wasn’t a true emergency. Biden has doubled-down, and then some, on that mistake. His 2021 package includes a $350 billion bailout of states and localities whose true COVID-related fiscal shortfalls are only a fraction of that amount.

    Comparatively well-governed North Carolina will get $9 billion of it, yes, but poorly governed jurisdictions will get more. The implicit message to politicians is: spend recklessly, create fiscal messes, and Congress will eventually come along to bail you out with federal debt. As a result, we’ll get worse state and local governance in the future.

    In addition to that, the Biden bill directs $126 billion to public schools, supposedly for COVID mitigation, though the Congressional Budget Office estimates only five percent of it will be spent by this fall. In fact, more of these funds will be spent in 2026 than in 2021.
    COVID mitigation this is not.

    There are too many other problematic provisions to list in a single column. Instead, I’ll answer the obvious questions. Doesn’t our economy need another dose of stimulus? Isn’t that worth adding an average of $14,000 per household to the federal debt?

    No and no. Although the COVID recession was disastrous for many families, it is already in the process of receding. North Carolina’s headline unemployment rate shot up to nearly 13% in April and May. It is now 6.2% — higher than it should be, of course, but hardly the emergency we faced a year ago.

    Many firms and households have accumulated significant balances that they’ll be spending over the coming months and years on both consumption and investment. To borrow another $1.9 trillion for “stimulus” in this scenario is indefensible.

    In 2009, newly elected President Barack Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus. Many were outraged by such fiscal irresponsibility, as they should have been, though the unemployment rate was much higher then (North Carolina’s averaged 11% during 2009). Adjusted for inflation, Obama’s stimulus would be about $1 trillion today.

    Biden’s $1.9 trillion mess should earn him scorn, not approval.

  • 16 Even as we breathe book coverCherokee is in the news again this month. For North Carolinians, the Cherokee term brings up a whole special set of complex thoughts, especially ones regarding the Cherokee people living in far western North Carolina.

    The big news about this group of Cherokees is “Even As We Breathe,” the debut novel of Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle. It is the first novel ever published by an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

    Appropriately, the book deals with the special challenges Cherokee people face dealing with the non-Indian people who surround them. Set in 1942, during World War II, the lead character, 19-year-old Cowney Sequoyah, lives a hardscrabble life with his grandmother Lishie, whom he loves deeply. His Uncle Bud lives nearby. Bud works Cowney hard and treats him badly. Bud’s brother, Cowney’s father, died overseas at the end of World War I. Now it is 1942 and World War II is raging, but Cowney’s deformed leg means he will not fight.

    When a groundskeeping job at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn opens up, Cowney takes it. The Army is using the Grove Park to confine quarantined enemy officials and their families.

    Joining him in his family’s Model T for the two-hour drive from Cherokee to Asheville is Essie, a beautiful young Cherokee woman who is anxious to break away from the Cherokee community.

    Cowney and Essie become good friends. He wishes for more, but she develops interest in one of the foreign detainees. On this situation Clapsaddle builds a poignant part of the book’s plot.

    When Lishie dies, Cowney’s world collapses.

    Clapsaddle describes the scents he notices as the Cherokee family and friends gather to grieve:
    Fresh dirt
    Pine sap
    She repeats this refrain over and over again to bring the reader into Cowney’s sadness.

    A white man drops by to pay respects. He had served with Bud and Cowney’s dad in World War I. Bud pushes him away, but not before the man gives Cowney his card and tells him to call if he ever needs help.

    Later, back at the Grove Park, when Cowney is accused in connection with the disappearance of the young daughter of one of the foreign internees, that card and its owner become keys to finding the truth.

    Other characters and places fill the novel and enrich Cowney’s story.

    An ancient Cherokee man, Tsa Tsi, owns a monkey that wanders freely through the forests. Preacherman appears at funerals to blend Cherokee culture with the religion of the white man. Lishie wakes Cowney by singing “Amazing Grace” in Cherokee: “U ne la nv i u we tsi.” Forest fires break out near Lishie’s cabin, and the smoke provides an eerie cover for the gloomy parts of the story. The region’s lovely waterfalls give Cowney places to find peace.

    Clapsaddle brings all these, and much more, together for a lovely story that engages its readers and gives them a vivid experience in Cherokee culture.

    Of course, there are reminders of the unfair and discriminatory treatment suffered by the Cherokee at the hands of the whites who populate historic Cherokee lands. Near the book’s end, Cowney’s grounds crew boss takes him to dinner and a movie. At the movie box office the clerk initially refused to sell a ticket. “Don’t serve Indians here,” she snarled.

    Cowney and his boss quietly go to the balcony and see Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.”

    Cowney is moved by Chaplin’s final speech against intolerance and hatred, an underlying theme of Clapsaddle’s book.

    Citing the Bible’s book of Luke, Chaplin said, “The Kingdom of God is within man, not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men, in you.”

  • 09 people in masksThis time last year, we were just beginning to grasp what had already hit us. A man who visited a nursing facility in Washington state apparently brought COVID to North Carolina, but most of us did not know anyone infected with COVID even though other carriers were likely circulating. Wearing a mask had yet to occur to us, although we were beginning to think about what we now call “social distancing.” Those who could began isolating and schools shut their doors. An 80-year-old immunologist in Atlanta became a national guru.

    What a difference a year makes! Amid illness and deaths that hit different parts of our nation at different times, we fast tracked the development and distribution of highly effective vaccines, and we figured out what to do to protect ourselves and our loved ones to some degree. We decided to protect our elderly first, even though COVID was spread by younger people more often. We made mistakes, but we have learned.

    Among our lessons is that COVID is not the last pandemic we will face. Given that reality, what knowledge should we apply to prepare ourselves for the next one? With more than half a million Americans dead of COVID, public health experts have their individual takes on this, of course, but there is agreement on big issues.

    Science trumps politics every time. People died while we mocked masks and partied. We can never allow this again.

    Viruses do not know about or respect state lines, so it makes no sense to have individual states do their own thing during a pandemic. Communication, collaboration and common goals and practices will go a long way in stemming a national pandemic as will a significantly beefed up national public health system. COVID is a worldwide issue, and the United States will be more successful now and in the future if we act as a whole.

    Racial and ethnic minorities and people in poverty have been disproportionately affected by COVID, both by contracting the virus and by its effects on families and economics. Inequities exist in our country in jobs, education, housing, food access, and health care, and the pandemic shone a glaring spotlight on them. Think the difference between having your groceries delivered to your door and the person making those deliveries. Think those able to work from home and those required to go to a workplace. During what is being dubbed an “inter-pandemic period,” it is time to address these disparities. We really are all in this together.

    We human beings are social creatures, and forced isolation has been hard on us, including on children locked out of schools and trying to learn virtually. It has been hard, too, on parents trying to work remotely from home or struggling for child care. As we come out of isolation, we should cut ourselves and others some slack. We have missed human company, and it will take a while to ease back into what we think of as “normal.”

    And, finally, as painful as it is to write this, we Americans have some soul searching to do. Millions of us apparently care more about our own individual rights than about the wellbeing of others, loved ones included. When we believe our own “right” not to mask is more important than the health of others with whom we have contact — many of whom are essential workers helping us, something is seriously wrong with our thinking. The pandemic has exposed such selfishness as never before, and it is not a pretty picture or a reflection of portrait we have historically shown the world. And, make no mistake — the world is watching us

  • 15 Easter lily and crown of thornsAre you ready? Spring is officially here, and good news is everywhere! For those of the Christian faith, Easter is a time for renewal and refreshing, and that is exactly what's happening all around us.

    The news recently reported Fayetteville's signature Dogwood Festival is back in action after an unfortunate hiatus brought on by the pandemic. The organizers promise it to be smaller and safer, but just as fun as we've come to expect of the hometown festival rooted right here in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

    After a year of virtual everything, I've pretty much reached 'Zoom Fatigue' and have recently met with local church and civic leaders excited about everything from fun family activities like egg hunts and days in the park to what one local pastor called the “... super bowl of Easters.”

    One thing is certain, over the past year we've learned we need each other. A recent survey cited a surprising 52% of Americans who volunteered to do things for others for the first time in their lives. Donating blood, caring for elderly neighbors, working with and donating to food pantries – the first time! That's a trend we can all hope will catch on.

    This is a great time to be alive, and while we blame the virus for so many of the bad things that came our way, we can even find plenty to be thankful for on its heels.

    While masks and other precautions may be the norm for now, it's still exciting to see the country – and our local communities – spring to life once again. I can honestly say I was never before happy to get stuck behind a school bus on the two-lane cut-through to get to work, but I almost clapped my hands when it happened a couple of weeks ago. NOTE: I didn't actually clap my hands; I was on a motorcycle, and that would have been a little irresponsible.

    If there is a central point to any of this, it's that we can find reasons to rejoice regardless of the circumstances surrounding us. There is much more to this life than what we may see as the interruptions. The blessings we long for – family, friends and celebrations of both – are the very things we learned to chase and find when they were dangled six feet away, or held captive behind the walls of a senior care facility over the past 12 months.

    If you haven't yet, thank God for allowing you to see and experience what you have. We are living in a historical moment as we create memories no one can take away. And while I wouldn't wish the bad parts of the pandemic on anyone, I will certainly rejoice in the good that has come through the experience. I hope you will too.

  • 18 CancelledFor 25 years, the Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper has enjoyed echoing the achievements of a community that has for too long suffered from a bruised, tattered and unwarranted reputation.

    During this past year, our community has struggled along with a frustrated and polarized nation in dealing with COVID viruses, mask mandates, vaccine choices, lock down's, shutdowns and destructive racial ambiguity that selfishly serves the self-serving.

    A defenseless, vulnerable and abused Fayetteville has always been reluctant to tell its own story. This is why we have enjoyed a successful quarter-century run of doing just that: telling the Fayetteville and Cumberland County story.

    Until this past year, we had plenty to write about: business events, arts and culture venues, and local concerts and festivals. After more than twelve months of Zoom meetings, even our most enthusiastic community cheerleaders are turning into anti-social zombies. Or perhaps I should say, Zoombies! OMG! I'm beginning to sound like Pitt Dickey.
    I'll get to the point: this past year has been tough on all of us; however, your support and loyalty to our community newspaper have been steadfast and appreciated.

    Thank you for your calls, emails and text messages. We hear your message loud and clear. Up & Coming Weekly has no intention of deserting this community or our mission and mandates of showcasing the people, programs, organizations, businesses and institutions that make Fayetteville and Cumberland County a great place to live, work and raise a family.

    Up & Coming Weekly showcase features about the Two Docs, Gates Four, Kaleo Supports, Fayetteville Technical Community College and PWC are just a few of the contributors to our community's quality of life. Our features provide insights and vision you won't find on any social media platform. Enjoy!

    One final note and message to those who would like to 'cancel' us: Up & Coming Weekly has battled the 'cancel culture' since 1996. Our foes are people who did something wrong, are doing something wrong, have something to hide, or all three. Otherwise, I ask you: What's not to like? Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 17 computer and cell phoneAccording to Varonis Systems’ 2020 Data Breach Statistics, a cyber-attack occurs every 39 seconds. The North Carolina Department of Justice reported it only took 1,210 data breaches to affect nearly 1.1 million North Carolinians last year. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the current security issues, increasing the breeding ground for cybercriminals as more people work remotely from home offices. On this high-tech battlefield, cybersecurity professionals are outnumbered.

    The shortage of cybersecurity professionals has resulted in overwhelming workloads, unfilled job openings and limited time for workers to learn the latest security technologies as they fight cyber-threats on the firewall frontlines. Cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated in their attacks, so security techniques must become more vigorous. To ensure a robust cybersecurity team, employees’ skillsets must align with the progressive expertise needed by companies as they combat the persistent cyber-attacks faced on a day-to-day basis. Without this specialized skillset, cybersecurity teams are ill-equipped to protect companies — the same companies we entrust with our personal and financial information — from being compromised by cybercriminals who have every intention of stealing data for their personal gain.

    As the number of cyber-attacks continue to rise and the quantity of qualified IT professionals is stunted by an ever-growing workforce gap in the cybersecurity field, how does cybersecurity regain its advantage? The obvious answer is to shorten the workforce gap by hiring qualified cybersecurity professionals, and this wishful thinking is now a tangible reality through the Carolina Cyber Network.

    Fayetteville Technical Community College and Montreat College have partnered to establish CCN to correct the cybersecurity workforce gap in North Carolina. The idea behind this initiative is to revamp the talent pipeline of workers to better align with the needs of employers. CCN created a unique triadic approach to solve this dilemma by providing support to K-12 educators, collaborating with neighboring colleges and universities, and partnering with businesses.

    One of the goals of CCN is to supply K-12 schools with the resources needed to better prepare students to enter universities and colleges for cybersecurity-related degrees and certificates. These resources include providing training and certification vouchers for teachers as well as offering scholarships to students. The program will also give schools access to online IT teaching material through NDG labs hosted by partnering colleges and universities.

    As high school students complete an Information Technology track, they can progress through the talent pipeline as they pursue higher education. CCN connects universities and colleges across the state to create a collaborative environment in which students can receive specialized training to enhance their technical and essential skills. The initiative will help provide college students with real-world experience through work study, internship and apprenticeship opportunities. With coveted skills and entry-level experience, students will be well-equipped, work-ready, cybersecurity professionals.

    CCN’s partnership with businesses opens the lines of communication between industry and educational institutions to ensure the skills needed in the workforce are the same skills being taught in the classroom. The CCN program will also provide the opportunity of continued education for company employees seeking to advance their technical training.

    The CCN is a win-win program for everyone involved. Students will be prepared for a lucrative career in cybersecurity; the existing workforce gap will decrease; and cyber-compliant businesses will have fully staffed and skilled cybersecurity teams capable of handling an onslaught of malicious hackers.

    Now is a great time to plan for fall semester classes. Learn more about the many options available in the Computer Technology programs area. Call 910-678-8400 or email admissionscounselors@faytechcc.edu to find your way forward.

  • 14 01 BryantFormalPic Color 18x24On March 24, 1969, a young Special Forces soldier from Georgia, found himself thousands of miles away from home and family. Instead of coaching Little League or playing catch, he was leading a group of Vietnamese soldiers who were serving in the Civilian Irregular Defense Group. The CIDG was part of the Mobile Strike Force Command — otherwise known as Mike teams, which were trained and led by American Special Forces.

    The soldier, Staff Sergeant William Maud Bryant, came of age during segregation, a time of economic and social inequality. Unlike many people at that time, Bryant volunteered to join the Army at the age of 20. His first assignment was with the 82nd Airborne Division. Later, he volunteered to go through Ranger School, graduating as the Honor Graduate. When he returned to Fort Bragg, he decided to tackle another challenge: Special Forces. He wrote in his journal that he would “see the guys on Fort Bragg who wore the Green Beret,” and "wanted to do what they did.” It was at Fort Bragg, as a Special Forces soldier, Bryant found his calling. He wrote that he had “found what he was looking for in the Army … a chance to lead from the front.” He further explained that “amongst the Green Berets, race, color or creed did not matter.”

    With a career he enjoyed and a family he loved, Bryant continued to excel in his military life and his home life. He had a wife, a daughter and two sons. For love of country, he left his family back at Fort Bragg and headed to Vietnam. Sergeant Bryant was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). At that time, the 5th SFG (A) was leading the fight in Vietnam. Once in country, Staff Sgt. Bryant trained, advised and assisted a paramilitary counterinsurgency force that included those indigenous to the area — known as Light Force 321.

    On March 24, while leading a patrol of the group in the Long Khanh Province, Bryant’s base camp came under fire. During a 34-hour attack, Bryant moved through enemy fire while establishing a defense perimeter, directing fire, distributing ammunition, assisting the wounded and leading a patrol.

    During the patrol, Bryant was wounded but called for helicopter support and directed suppressive fire toward enemy positions. Without fear, Staff Sgt. Bryant charged at an enemy automatic weapons position, destroying three of its defenders, before becoming mortally wounded by an enemy rocket. When a helicopter drop of ammunition was made to re-supply the beleaguered force Bryant, with complete disregard for his safety, ran through the heavy enemy fire to retrieve the scattered ammunition boxes and distributed needed ammunition to his men.

    During a lull in the intense fighting, he led a patrol outside the perimeter to obtain information of the enemy. The patrol came under intense automatic weapons fire and was pinned down. Staff Sgt. Bryant single-handedly repulsed one enemy attack on his small force and by his heroic action inspired his men to fight off other assaults.

    Seeing a wounded enemy soldier some distance from the patrol location, he crawled forward alone under heavy fire to retrieve the soldier for intelligence purposes. Finding that the enemy soldier had expired, Bryant crawled back to his patrol and led his men back to the company position where he again took command of the defense.

    As the siege continued, Staff Sgt. Bryant organized and led a patrol in a daring attempt to break through the enemy encirclement. The patrol had advanced some 200 meters by heavy fighting when it was pinned down by the intense automatic weapons fire from heavily fortified bunkers, and he was severely wounded. Despite his wounds he rallied his men, called for a helicopter gunship support, and directed heavy suppressive fire upon the enemy positions.

    Following the last gunship attack, Bryant fearlessly charged an enemy automatic weapons position, overrunning it, and single-handedly destroying its three defenders. Inspired by his heroic example, his men renewed their attack on the entrenched enemy.

    While regrouping his small force for the final assault against the enemy, Staff Sgt. Bryant died.

    For his actions on that day, Bryant was posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class and was awarded the highest honor a soldier can earn — the Medal of Honor.

    The citation reads: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. His selfless concern for his comrades, at the cost of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

    In September 1974, Bryant Hall, the headquarters building of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School on Fort Bragg, was dedicated in Bryant’s memory. On Feb. 16 of this year, the SWCS Command commemorated the anniversary of the award presentation honoring Bryant’s sacrifice with a ceremony and the opening of the Bryant Gallery in the headquarters lobby. Bryant’s sons, Greg and Kelvin, and their wives were on hand to take part in the ceremony.

    Prior to the ceremony members of the SWCS staff visited the Bryants and listened to their recollections and looked through what they had of their fathers, scrapbooks with photos, awards that proclaimed his bravery and love of country and love of his fellow soldiers. They also had the opportunity to see Bryant’s Medal that was hanging on a wall in Greg’s house.

    Greg noted that his friends would come by and they would see it and think it was cool, but when he saw the reaction from the soldiers who visited his home, he realized where the Medal needed to be, and the family donated the Medal of Honor to SWCS as the centerpiece of the Bryant Gallery.

    During the commemoration ceremony, Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, the Commander of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, noted, “Today, on the 50th anniversary of President Nixon’s presentation of the Medal of Honor to Sgt. 1st Class Bryant’s family, we once again gather to commemorate his legacy. Today, he would have been 88.”

    “On 24 March, Sgt. 1st Class Bryant gave the last full measure of devotion to his teammates, his partners, and to the nation. Sgt. 1st Class Bryant so firmly believed in the values of freedom and prosperity, that he was willing to give his life to this cause. He fought bravely, leading from the front, until his last breath in the triple canopy jungle of Vietnam, on a lone fire base … with his comrades. The lessons learned from Sgt. 1st Class Bryant’s experiences — operating in austere and remote conditions and fighting by, with, and through indigenous partner forces — are timeless.”

    While the Bryant brothers can barely remember the ceremony at the White House where President Richard Nixon posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to their mother, seeing it in the headquarters building that still carries his name was emotional for them, but it let them see and understand the kind of man their father was, and that while he is gone, he has not been forgotten.

    Pictured above: Sgt. 1st Class William M. Bryant was killed in action in Vietnam on March 24, 1969. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

    Pictured botton left: Together, Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson (left), Greg and Kelvin Bryant and their wives, cut the ribbon to the entrance of the new Bryant Gallery. The ceremony held Feb. 16 was the anniversary of the award presentation and Sgt. 1st Class Bryant's birthday.

    Pictured bottom right: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty." Sgt. 1st Class Bryant's family donated his Medal of Honor to SWCS to serve as the centerpiece in the new Bryant Gallery. (All photos courtesy U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School)

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    14 02 210216 A OP908 GALLERY007


  • 26 rendering don kempBy age 90, most people are settling into their twilight years resting, relaxing and enjoying time free from work commitments. Donald Kemp is not most people. Kemp keeps busy with writing projects, a passion that began more than five decades ago.

    A Fayetteville resident for 40 years, Kemp is originally from Michigan. His serious writing began in 1968 with a series of articles in a Rochester City newspaper about his own heart bypass surgery. The articles lead to his first published book “I Live With A Mended Heart.” At the time of his surgery, Cleveland Clinic was the only place to get have the procedure. Kemp’s book was inspired by his own procedure and his life in recovery.

    Kemp has also produced other works such as articles for magazines and newspapers during his time living in Michigan. As well as writing, Kemp explored his story-telling ability by directing plays in California, which he describes as “an explosion of emotion to see what is in your mind come to life on a stage.”

    His first full-length novel, “Rendering,” is a mystery thriller published in 2016. The inspiration behind this novel was a newspaper article about three inches high. The book took Kemp seven years to write. The book developed over time while he was participating in a writing group that met every two weeks. The group would “toss chapters over the hot coals,” Kemp recalls as a way of challenging authors. Since that experience, Kemp said he chooses to stick to shorter books and writing projects.

    His next book “Senior Touring Society,” was published in 2018. It is a comedy about elders going to and from a stage play.
    Kemp has also written three children’s books, specifically for his grandchildren. He wrote them each year that his military son was stationed at Fort Bragg so that he could read them to his grandchildren at Christmas.

    With two books waiting to be published, Kemp doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. He said he has a bunch of stories and ideas that he keeps organized on little slips of paper around his office.

    Kemp offers one steadfast rule for aspiring authors: make time to write every day. “Even if it is one hour, or just writing notes, writing every day will get your ideas down on paper.”

    Kemp also offers a tip he learned from reading one of his writing inspirations, Ernest Hemingway. Known for his economic prose, Hemmingway’s writing is minimalist with few adverbs or adjectives. Hemmingway made a special effort to write in simple and direct language. Kemp said he tries to follow that philosophy too.

    Kemp’s book are available online in e-book and soft cover formats. For more information visit https://donkempauthor.com/

    Editor April Olsen contributed to this article.

  • 24 JFON logoThe Justice for Our Neighbors Immigration Clinic, Inc. opened in downtown Fayetteville in November of last year aiming to provide low-cost legal aid to low-income immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers while providing education and advocacy of the immigration system in the U.S.

    Their mission is to meet the needs of our neighbors in a complex and ever-changing U.S. immigration system, said Oscar Hernandez, Executive Director for Fayetteville JFON.

    Fayetteville JFON was born as a result of a forum on immigration in 2018 at St. Andrews Methodist Church.

    “I saw that children were being ripped away from their parents that really bothered me, so I wanted to raise awareness about how God cares about immigrants and foreigners,” Scott Foster, pastor at St. Andrews Methodist Church, said. “I just wanted to have a forum about that and connect to our world through education.”

    Foster, who serves as the fundraising chair for Fayetteville JFON said they received funding from the United Methodist Church to reach out to those who are marginalized like immigrants often are.

    The immigration clinic started seeing clients as of Dec. 1 and had 100 to 200 people reach out for help.

    “There is a great need for low-cost immigration services in the area,” Hernandez said. “North Carolina itself has a growing immigrant population and more options are needed in the Sandhills region and rural areas.”

    The clinic’s team includes a full-time attorney, administrative assistant, executive director, intern, volunteers and a board of directors.

    Services are offered at low-cost to low-income immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers of all faiths, backgrounds and identities and fees are based on income. Each case is assessed individually, and the clinic offers services like DACA, Temporary Protected Status VAWA, U and T Visa, family reunification, citizenship and permanent residency.

    Foster said they hope to grow as they receive more funds and are currently hiring for a Grant Writer.

    National JFON located outside of Washington D.C. supports 18 JFON sites with about 50 clinics across the U.S.

    “We welcome volunteers and interns who are excited and know more about the immigration legal system and be part of our team,” Hernandez said. “Immigrants make this country great, join us in our mission to serve our immigrant neighbors.”

    The Fayetteville JFON is located in the Self Help building at 100 Hay St., Suite 300. For more information on their services, call 910-441-3753 Monday to Thursday noon to 4 p.m. or send an email to information@fayettevilljfon.org. To donate visit, https://fayettevillejfon.kindful.com/

  • 23 IMG 6579Despite pandemic restrictions, two new small businesses have opened their doors to the public in downtown Fayetteville recently. Tru Perfections Salon and Stachia’s Fully Loaded Grill are now open in the Cool Spring Downtown District.

    Serving clients for their hair, makeup and beauty needs, Tru Perfections, located at 125 Person St, is owned and operated by De’Von Buie.

    An artist of 13 years, Buie is skilled in makeup, body painting, hair style and color, props and more. The salon has two other stylists specializing in natural hair and eyebrow tinting. “I knew this would be a good opportunity for me and I just had to do it,” Buie said. “My aunt helped me finance opening the store which means a lot to me since she passed away recently due to cancer.”

    As far as the pandemic, it's been challenging, he said, but in this career it’s a bit different because people constantly need their hair done.

    “I have three kids, so that's what keeps me going, and it motivates me,” Buie said. “I need to stay alive, do what I love.”

    For more information about Tru Perfections Salon, call 910-224-1530.
    Stachia Arnold opened Stachia’s Fully Loaded Grill and Mart located at 200 Robeson St. What started in 2018 as a food truck led to a permanent location in Spring Lake and now Fayetteville.

    “We used a food truck and visited downtown, we had a good business model, then we got ready to do brick and mortar,” Arnold said.

    The veteran-owned restaurant offers simple American cuisine with a twist and is located alongside a convenience mart to enhance the customer experience. Some of the popular items on their menu include chicken wings, fully loaded baked potatoes, fully loaded cheesesteaks, fully loaded fried rice and fully loaded fries. We have about 25 to 30 flavor combinations for wings, she said.

    “I am the oldest of three children, my mom was working and would work late … she taught us to make the simplest things and make them good,” Arnold said. “From then I always had to create something different, so I started Stachia’s Fully Loaded Grill when I moved back to North Carolina.”

    The restaurant will be expanding its Spring Lake location in March to provide a 3,000 square feet, dine-in food and bar location. Stachia’s is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more info call 910-502-0123.

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  • 01 01Located on the west side of Fayetteville, Gates Four has been a part of the Cumberland County community for about 54 years. The 18-hole championship golf course and club was built in 1967, and the residential community followed in 1974. The community has grown over the decades.

    Gates Four Golf & Country Club and its residential community Fayetteville will be adding more developments and various amenities for residents and club members this year. In addition to hosting the Cumberland County Golf Championship again this year, new entertainment amenities will include the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre in April and the Summer Concert Series beginning in May.

    “Gates Four is really unique to this market at the price point that we offer, there’s really nothing like it around,” Kevin Lavertu, general manager of the Gates Four Country Club said.

    The club and residential development are located in proximity to each other, but they operate separately and membership to the club is open to everyone and one doesn’t have to reside in their community, he said.

    The full-service country club includes the golf course, junior Olympic-sized swimming pool, four USDA tennis courts, JP’s Bar & Grill dining room facility, a banquet facility, and an outdoor pavilion among other things.

    “There are about 400 members and some are social members and some sports,” Lavertu said. “We have different categories of memberships to meet different lifestyles.”

    The golf-course for the club is a semi-private facility, open to outside play after 10 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends.

    “Having a golf course here is nice, it’s top-rated, I go up there every day,” said Mike Molin, a club member and resident of the community. “I am retired and I can play almost every day.”

    Lavertu does a great job with the course and club, and it's a great place to be, eat and hang out with friends, he said.

    Gates Four Country Club is family centric with single or family dues packages available.

    “It provides a getaway for people, whether you play golf, tennis or just to dine or swim. There’s something for everybody and it’s really a getaway for a lot of people,” Lavertu said.

    The Dinner Theatre will include events planned inside the ballroom for members to watch shows in an intimate setting and enjoy dinner and entertainment, while the Summer Concert Series hosted at the club’s pavilion will showcase local bands for members and guests to enjoy outdoors. The concert series will kick off Friday, May 14.

    The Cumberland County Championship will be played this year Oct. 15 through Oct. 17 and is one of the biggest tournaments around for amateur golfers, and a staple for golfers and the Cumberland County area, Lavertu said.

    “Just like anything it's a getaway and way for people to enjoy. We are open to anybody who wants to join and we have some great promotions on memberships,” Lavertu added.

    Surrounding the club house is the residential community of Gates Four, a combination of 760 houses and townhomes.
    “I think it’s the best community in Cumberland County and the area with a top-rated golf course, country club and a gated community,” Molin said. “There’s nothing around like it.”

    Molin, a resident of the community of 41 years, also serves as the Home Owners Association Treasurer.

    We have grown from 200 homes to 760 since I have lived here, and it is almost like a small company that the HOA runs. There's a property manager and we expect people to live by certain standards when they move home to help keep the community looking nice, he said.

    “Having a 24-hour gated community, it provides all these amenities in a safe environment for people to live in, which does help people gravitate towards Gates Four and what I noticed with the school system, we are getting younger and younger within the community moving in,” Lavertu said.

    Some may have the impression that the community is far out of town, but Lavertu says the Gates Four community is only about 10 minutes from Raeford Road, adding that the area offers a great school system.

    “I call it the best kept secret of Fayetteville, honestly,” said Jay Dowdy, Broker/Owner at All American Homes with Berkshire Homes. “Gates Four has one of the best school districts and a lot of people call me from out of town looking for homes there, the whole area is nice, and has a unique environment.”

    Molin said the biggest things he liked about living in Gates Four is the gated community and also having a Fayetteville address but not having to pay the city taxes because the community extends out to Hope Mills.

    Dowdy mentioned the demand for the community is very high and about 20 percent of his buyers live in Gates Four.

    “The price point out there starts around the 250’s and goes up to about a million, so it’s not going to your beginner buyers, more upper end buyers” he said “But there’s a lot of very affordable townhomes out there too priced in the 100’s.”

    The growth in the area due to Gates Four has been high, Lavertu said.

    “If it wasn’t for the community of Gates Four you wouldn't see businesses making financial investments in the community here in close proximity so obviously this has a huge financial impact on the area due to the community,” he said.

    Due to the high demand, all of the new construction has been sold and pre-sales are happening on the next construction, Dowdy said.

    Lavertu emphasized the convenience of the Gates Four community having dining, sports and other amenities right there for members.

    “It’s a gated community with a country feel, it’s got ponds,” Dowdy said. “It’s your hometown country club, with lots of amenities, affordability, location.”

    For more information about Gates Four, visit https://www.gatesfour.com or contact the club at 910-425-6667.

  • 08 Infantry Squad Vehicle ProfileThe 82nd Airborne Division’s First Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bragg, is slated to receive the first of its kind Infantry Squad Vehicle — a light all-terrain troop battlefield carrier intended to transport infantry squads and their equipment.

    The 82nd is scheduled to receive 59 ISVs. Division spokesman Lt. Col. Michael Burns says they are not yet on the ground.

    Eventually, 11 Army infantry brigade combat teams will be outfitted with 59 vehicles each under the first contract. The vehicle is being built by GM Defense LLC, a General Motors subsidiary.

    Since 1941, the Army has relied on the Jeep and more recently the Humvee for battlefield mobility. But the ISV is the first vehicle designed to carry an infantry squad of nine soldiers and their equipment, according to the Army. The ISV is largely based on the frame of the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize pickup truck. Ninety percent of its parts are commercial off-the-shelf components, said Steven Herrick, the Army's product leader for ground mobility vehicles.

    GM Defense renovated a plant in Concord, North Carolina, for its production.

    “Having soldiers ride in a vehicle with their equipment instead of carrying it across many miles of cross-country terrain to their destination means they'll be much less fatigued and better able to carry out their missions,” Herrick said.

    The ISV sacrifices protection for mobility. The fast attack vehicle is completely unarmored and fully open with roll bars rather than traditional siding. The ISV doesn't even have a roof. This tradeoff leaves troops exposed to all forms of enemy fire.

    A Pentagon assessment said the vehicle will provide infantry soldiers with valuable off-road mobility. The assessment described the ISV as cramped, lacking convenient storage space for equipment, but that it meets the Army’s requirements in tests and evaluations. The ISV “key requirements are being met, and we are increasing soldier operational readiness by providing an operationally relevant vehicle that can transport small tactical units to a dismount point faster and in better physical and mental condition for the fight,” Herrick said.

    The ISV has undergone testing in the Yuma Proving Ground's desert in southwestern Arizona. The vehicle has completed successful tests in the static drops category for low velocity airdrops — the airborne delivery of equipment and weapons systems from aircraft. The service staged live drops with soldiers executing missions after the drop, he said.

    Initial operational tests and evaluation exercises were held at Fort Bragg last August.

    The vehicle is air-droppable from aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster. It’s small enough to ride inside a CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopter, and it’s light enough to be slung beneath a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The initial contract is for production of 649 vehicles, but the Army plans a total of 2,065.

  • 05 BurrOfficialPortraitI emailed the office of Senator Richard Burr after he voted in favor of impeaching former President Trump. This came after the NC GOP Central Committee unanimously voted to censure Senator Burr (https://www.nc.gop/central_02_15).

    Not surprisingly, our local newspaper did not find this to be newsworthy. His belated reply follows:

    Dear Mr. Goldstein:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding my vote to convict former President Trump on the article of impeachment presented against him. I appreciate hearing from you.
    January 6, 2021 was a grim day in our nation’s history. The attack on the U.S. Capitol was an attempt to undermine our democratic institutions and overrule the will of the American people through violence, intimidation, and force.

    Seven lives were tragically lost as a result of that day. Law enforcement officers, outnumbered and overwhelmed, sustained debilitating injuries as they bravely defended Congress against an angry mob. We now know that lawmakers and congressional staff came dangerously close to crossing paths with the rioters searching for them and wishing them harm.

    When this process started, I believed that it was unconstitutional to impeach a president who was no longer in office. I still believe that to be the case. However, the Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority in the Senate voted to proceed with the trial, the question of constitutionality for a former president is now established precedent. As an impartial juror, my role was to determine whether House managers had sufficiently made the case for the article of impeachment against President Trump.

    I listened to the arguments presented by both sides and considered the facts. The facts are clear.

    The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results. As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault.

    As I said on January 6, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Therefore, I voted to convict.

    I did not make this decision lightly, but I believe it was necessary. By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    My hope is that with impeachment behind us America can begin to move forward and focus on the critical issues facing our country today.
    Again, thank you for contacting me. Should you have additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to let me know or visit my website at http://burr.senate.gov.

    Richard Burr
    United States Senator

    Pay particular attention to what Senator Burr (or one of his staffers) wrote:

    “However, the Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority in the Senate voted to proceed with the trial, the question of constitutionality for a former president is now established precedent.”

    In other words, Senator Burr, you hold that a "precedent' set by the Senate is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which you were obliged to support per Article VI. The U.S. Constitution provides for the impeachment of the president, but not a former president no longer in office. That is sophistry as well as impeachable conduct.

    This “impeachment” was also a bill of attainder. That is an impeachable offense under Article I, Section 9. For that matter, every representative and senator that voted to impeach the former president is also a participant in this unconstitutional act.

    Now, I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but it does not take legal genius to read what is in the U.S. Constitution. The language is plain. But just to be sure, I asked an old friend of mine from college, who is a lawyer, for his opinion on Senator Burr's reply.

    “His response could have come directly from CNN. I’m not aware of this precedent notion to create law by non judicial procedural fiat. The blather justifying his vote seems no more valid than sports banter. Precedent is established by a court which is subject to evaluation by other courts up the jurisdiction train. This senate choice seems misuse of process or contrived authority to increase its power, just what the President was accused of.”

    It is now obvious that Senator Burr does not represent all of the North Carolina voters, both Democrat and Republican, that voted to reelect President Trump.

    The vote of censure was a vote of no confidence. Senator Burr has demonstrated that he will place his own agendas, whatever they may be, over the will of his constituents. For this reason he should resign immediately.

    — Leon A Goldstein, Fayetteville