• 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. 

  • NWS Tornado Warning Cumberland County is preparing for severe weather Thursday afternoon as several areas in North Carolina prepare for damaging winds.

    Cumberland County is under a tornado watch until 8 p.m. This means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. 

    A severe thunderstorm warning is also in effect for Cumberland this afternoon. Winds could gust up to 60 mph in those areas, according to the National Weather Center. Residents should expect to see some damage to roofs, siding and trees from the wind.

    For residents on Fort Bragg, Corvias Property Management sent out an email saying that all outdoor furniture, toys, trashcans and other items should be brought inside or properly secured. 

    Cumberland County Schools have announced that all after-school activities are canceled this afternoon. Prime Time parents are encouraged to pick up their students no later than 4 p.m. today.

  • Wanted Vehicles Detectives with the Fayetteville Police Department’s Homicide Unit are looking for two vehicles that were present during the shooting at the Baymont Ramada on March 19. Three men died during the shooting and three others were injured. Police have determined the shooting occurred during a confrontation between the Hells Angels, Red Devils, Infamous Ryders and La Familia motorcycle gang organizations.

    The vehicles of interest are a Ford Raptor pickup truck displaying NC registration plate 81D5DV, and a Jeep Patriot SUV displaying NC registration plate RDP1513. The rear window of the Jeep was shot out during the incident.

    Two people have been arrested in connection to the shooting. They were arrested for an aggravated assault that happened at the Exxon off 1717 Owen Drive. The assault was between rival gang members which resulted in serious injuries to the victim. The assault happened hours before the shooting at the Baymont Ramada.

    The two men were each charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury and Felony Conspiracy. 26-year-old Dalton Emmanuel Laperriere is out on a $5000 unsecured bond and his next pre-trial date is April 12. 49-year-old Kerry Helms Lawing is out on a $25,000.00 secured bond and will be back in court on April 13.

    Anyone with information regarding the location of these vehicles is asked to contact Detective R. Vernon at (910) 729-2525 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers information can also be submitted electronically, by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org and completing the anonymous online tip sheet.

  • Voting Pexels Pic Shakita Norman lives in Wake County, works, pays taxes and has five children in public school. She told a three-judge, Superior Court panel in August 2021 that she wants a voice in North Carolina’s democracy.

    But, like more than 56,000 other North Carolinians, she is being held in limbo as yet another election begins, waiting to see whether she will have the right to vote.

    On Monday, those judges declared the North Carolina law governing when the state restores the right to vote to people previously convicted of felonies to be racist and in violation of the Free Elections and Equal Protections clauses of the state constitution.

    “North Carolina’s elections do not faithfully ascertain the will of the people when such an enormous number of people living in communities across the State — over 56,000 individuals — are prohibited from voting,” wrote Judges Lisa Bell and Keith Gregory, who ruled in a 2-1 majority opinion.

    Disenfranchisement does not advance a valid state interest, the judges wrote, and in fact, harms the state by preventing equal access to the vote.

    “Denial of the franchise to persons on felony supervision harms individuals, families and communities for years even after such supervision ends,” the judges wrote.

    But legal confusion and a pending appeal by state legislative leaders, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, may still keep those residents off the voter rolls.

    The N.C. State Board of Elections cited confusion from a previous court order made during a preliminary stage in the case when it told county boards to keep voter registration requests from people on probation, parole or post-release supervision in an incomplete queue while lawyers seek clarification from the courts.

    Neither Moore’s nor Berger’s offices replied to questions for this story, and their private attorney did not respond to a voicemail. But that attorney notified the Department of Justice, which formerly represented the legislators and still represents the Board of Elections, that the legislators intend to appeal.

    Still, the groups suing to change the law announced that they are out helping people who, under Monday’s ruling, are newly enfranchised.

    “We’re not casually treating it as, ‘Well, I’ll go register to vote,’” said Dennis Gaddy, a plaintiff in the case and the executive director of the Community Success Initiative, which helps people reenter society after incarceration. “We’re having a sit-down, face-to-face conversation.”

    The situation is confusing, but there’s also a possible opportunity, Gaddy said.

    In August 2021, when the same judges issued a preliminary injunction allowing the same group of people to vote, legislative defendants appealed, and higher courts blocked the injunction. But still, the higher courts allowed the people who had already registered to stay on the voter rolls.

    Even if the Court of Appeals blocks Monday’s ruling, Gaddy said there’s a chance the people who requested voter registration between now and then could be allowed to vote.

    146 years of discrimination
    In 1876, white North Carolinians amended the state Constitution and included a felony disenfranchisement clause that said no one convicted of a felony will have the right to vote until the state restores that right. The next year, the state legislature put a law in place describing how the right to vote is restored.

    Monday’s opinion, 146 years later, said both the amendment and the implementing law target Black North Carolinians with racial intent. The judges also concluded that racial intent survives today, taking a disproportionate amount of political power away from Black communities across the state.

    North Carolina’s three Black legislators in 1973 tried to give people a full reinstatement of rights upon release from jail or prison. But those efforts were watered down by their 167 white counterparts, the judges found.

    Lawyers for the state Department of Justice agreed that the 1876 laws were racially motivated, but the 1973 rewrite was not, and therefore the current law should be valid. Judges Bell and Gregory disagreed.

    “The legislature cannot purge through the mere passage of time an impermissibly racially discriminatory intent,” they wrote.

    Definition of racial disparity
    More white than Black people reside in North Carolina, more white people are in prison, and more white people are on post-release supervision. But the percentage of white people drops at each stage, and the percentage of Black people goes up, meaning that Black people are more harmed by disenfranchisement relative to the total population.

    “African American men are 9.2% of the voting-age population, but 36.6% of those denied the franchise,” according to the majority opinion.

    “In comparison, White people comprise 72% of the voting-age population, but only 52% of those denied the franchise. These numbers are the very definition of a racial disparity.”

    Both the sheer scope of disenfranchisement and the racial disparity violate the state constitution, Bell and Gregory wrote. They pointed to the 2018 elections, which showed “16 different county elections where the margin of victory in the election was less than the number of people denied the franchise due to felony supervision in that county.”

    In several of those elections, the number of disenfranchised voters was several times greater than the margin of an election, such as in Beaufort County, where 457 people were denied the vote under the law and 63 votes decided a Board of Commissioners race. Of those disenfranchised could-be voters, 253 were Black.

    “Denial of the franchise to people on felony supervision reduces political opportunity and the quality of representation across entire communities in North Carolina,” according to the majority opinion.

    The order describes a standard legal test showing the state could keep its disenfranchisement law if it served a legitimate government purpose. But, the judges decided, defendants “failed to introduce any evidence” that the law “serves any valid state interest today.”

    The dissent, and consequences of an appeal
    Bell is an unaffiliated judge based in Mecklenburg County, and Gregory is a Democratic judge based in Wake. Judge John Dunlow, Republican from Granville, dissented.

    In his opinion, the plaintiffs wanted to challenge the constitutional provision that takes the right to vote away from people convicted of felonies, not the law that describes how they get it back. This is in line with defendants’ arguments.

    Should the appellate court back that argument, the plaintiffs’ only recourse would be to change the implementing law through an act of the legislature, the same one attempted in 1973.

    Dunlow also disagreed with the majority opinion on how the Free Elections Clause is applied to elections.

    All the judges agree that the clause’s purpose is to “faithfully ascertain the will of the people.” But where Bell and Gregory define “the people” as all North Carolina citizens, Dunlow has a narrower vision.

    “The people whose will is to be faithfully ascertained are the persons who are lawfully permitted to vote in North Carolina elections,” Dunlow wrote.

    Both majority and dissenting opinions help higher courts review a case. The Court of Appeals is controlled 10-5 by Republican judges. Though the state Supreme Court is currently 4-3 Democrats to Republicans, two Democratic seats are up for election in 2022 and the court may flip.

    Dunlow’s dissent, if picked up by higher courts, could significantly limit the state constitutional protections against discriminatory voting laws.

  • Spring LakeIn a 5-1 vote, the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen decided to revise the prayer policy to be more inclusive and compliant with federal law. However, the invocation will still be a part of government meetings.

    “This is simply a policy change to put us in compliance,” said Mayor Kia Anthony. “We want to make sure we are being inclusive.”

    The board says they never intended to remove prayer from their agenda.

    The Mayor proposed a “non-sectarian” prayer that “does not revote any one religion, so we are not showing favoritism to any one religion over the another.”

    “My whole goal is to keep us in compliance, it is not to remove God from our meetings. That is not the intent,” Anthony said.

    “We want to make sure we’re covered because, as a unit of government, we have to abide by certain rules,” said Alderwoman Sona Cooper.

    The board cites a 2017 publication from the University of North Carolina School of Government, which states that a state court identified four practices that violate the Constitution. These practices are: only board members deliver the prayer; the board members are all of the same religion’ there is no opportunity for other faiths to be represented; and the board meeting occurs in the intimate setting of a local government meeting.

    The board uses information from an excerpt from the University of North Carolina School of Government that stated meetings during meetings “violates the Constitution.”

    Alderman Marvin Lackman disagreed with creating a new prayer policy.

    “I’m a proud Christian, and people elected me to represent them,” he said. “I stand firm in my beliefs. I stand firm for the people of Spring Lake. I am firm against this.”

    The Aldermen also unanimously removed the mask mandate from town facilities and swore in new Interim Town Manager Joe Durham from Wake County.

  • Originally published by The 19th.

    For more than two decades, Kim Hunt was constantly on the move. Alongside her husband, now a retired Navy officer, Hunt moved 16 times across the United States and Europe. The couple had two daughters — pregnancies that were planned around whether her husband was on shore duty or sea duty — but they knew many other active-duty service members who struggled to conceive at all. 

    Now, as associate director of research and training at Blue Star Families, a nonprofit founded in 2009 by military spouses, Hunt helps create, collect and analyze the largest annual military lifestyle survey

    For the first time, the survey included specific questions to better understand family-building challenges among National Guardsmen, Reserve service members, veterans and their families. Hunt said that for several years, respondents would fill in open-ended questions with concerns about their families. 

    “And the more we researched, the more we realized there was not really good quantitative data,” Hunt said. “There’s a lot of stories, which are very important, but there wasn’t this sort of handle on how deep this goes.” 

    And when she saw the results, Hunt said she was surprised by just how deep it went: More than two-thirds of respondents said they had faced a family-building challenge at some point in their lives. And nearly half said military service, specifically, hindered their desired number of children or desired time between births. 

    “We had 1,600 people willing to share their stories, and it was very humbling because they’re such personal stories,” Hunt said. “And so many people said that they just gave up finally, just stopped trying.” 

    The final survey results include more than 8,000 members of the military community. The answers revealed widespread struggles: Women and LGBTQ+ service members were nearly twice as likely to mention family-building challenges, including tracking ovulation, taking hormone-based medication, trying in vitro fertilization or navigating adoption processes while continually moving across state lines. Some voiced concerns about the impact pregnancy might have on their careers. Active-duty service members are generally 17 to 40 years old, about the same range as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) definition of “women of childbearing age.” 

    “Pregnancy and postpartum recovery time affects a woman’s chances of promotion,” an active-duty Air Force service member wrote anonymously in her response. “Obligations of motherhood and military service commitment limit how many children I felt like I could have.”

    Meagan Whalen, the deputy communications director of With Honor, a nonprofit organization led by veterans that focuses on electing veterans into public service, said the military community tends to remain silent on these kinds of personal challenges. 

    “We in the military community have a mindset of facing challenges and rising to the occasion,” said Whalen, who grew up in a military family, constantly being uprooted. “I think this report will be really reaffirming for them and validating what they’ve experienced throughout their military service. And it’s so valuable in getting information out to the public, letting the civilian world into these nuances.” 

    Many respondents described inadequate medical coverage for fertility-related treatments, financial difficulties or undue stress on relationships. But the most common obstacle to growing their families was “military commitments” and an “unstable military lifestyle.” Long deployments, especially during wartime, took their toll and left fewer chances for couples to try conceiving. The CDC defines “infertility” as the inability to get pregnant after at least one year of unprotected sex. However, meeting that criteria and accessing potential treatment is nearly impossible for many military families, who are often separated for months at a time. 

    “We did IVF out of pocket and lost twins,” an active-duty Army spouse wrote. “We had to pay a loan for three years after. If we were able to afford the unlimited tries, we would have a baby together. Him being gone a lot is also a factor.” 

    One Army veteran said: “We were beginning our third attempt at IVF when I was notified that I was deploying … By the time I returned from deployment, I was 46 and my wife was 43, and we determined that we had lost our last opportunity.” 

    Another Reserve service member said she and her partner delayed having children together for a decade while they were both on active duty. When they ended up having children, they made sure the births were “very close together to be able to have them while we were stationed together.” But the only way they were able to stay together, she added, was for her to transfer to the reserves. 

    Another highly cited challenge was expensive out-of-pocket costs due to a lack of health insurance coverage. TRICARE, the health care program of the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System, does not cover assisted reproduction. (In the civilian world, most states don’t require private insurers to provide infertility benefits). More than 10 percent of respondents with out-of-pocket expenses said they spent more than $35,000; 42 percent spent over $5,000; and nearly 70 percent spent at least $500. 

    “We tried to conceive for three years before finally becoming pregnant on our fourth round of IVF,” an active-duty Air Force spouse wrote in response to the survey. “The military and TRICARE paid for none of it. We spent most of the money we had saved for a house down payment, around $40,000 in total.”

    Another active-duty Air Force spouse said she and her spouse paid $800 for sperm, $200 for shipment and $300 for an IUI procedure each time they tried for a child. It took them five tries.

    More than 10 percent of active-duty respondents said family-building challenges are one of the main reasons they’d leave the military. Members of Congress, including military veterans, are currently working on legislation related to military benefits, mental health, spousal employment, time away from family and pay and health care for dependents. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan recently spearheaded the passage of the Military Moms Matter Act to improve postpartum care for military families. Reps. Seth Moulton and Mariannette Miller-Meeks pushed for the passage of The Brandon Act, which strengthened mental health support for service members. And Rep. Jackie Speier penned a letter, signed by more than 140 of her Democratic colleagues, to urge the secretary of defense to eliminate for service members copays for contraceptive care.

    “This is a time in which our veterans in Congress can make a distinctive difference,” Whalen said. “They aren’t just reading these numbers. They’ve experienced or have served with those who did, and they understand those unique challenges that military personnel, families and veterans go through.”

  • history to go box The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is offering history kits for kids every first Tuesday of the month. The kits, called History To-Go boxes, are full of interactive activities for children and their families. History To-Go boxes are designed for kids ages 6 to 12. The kits invite participants to enjoy and learn about the greater Cape Fear region.

    Each month, the themed boxes have worksheets, writing prompts and crafts. February’s theme was the Underground Railroad. The kit included crafts and helped kids locate the North Star in the Little Dipper using a cardboard tube and a flashlight. In March, the boxes were centered around the American Revolution and contained decoding activities. April’s theme is textiles.

    “’Textiles’ is going to have a little cardboard loom that comes prestrung with yarn, so the kids learn how to weave,” said Sarah Stubbs, museum administrative assistant.

    The box is also going to delve into the history of mill villages. These villages were created by the mill owners close to their textile mills. Textile mills required running water from streams and rivers, and these often were in rural settings, meaning workers needed to either travel from larger towns or live nearby. Setting up the villages for their workers gave the mill owners a way to keep staff around and keep an eye on their workers.

    “There’s a worksheet that we call ‘mill village math,’ and that plays off of an oral history interview that is included (in the box),” said Stubbs. “What is unique about that time period is that we do have audio-recorded oral history interviews. I took a transcription of one of those about two people, a married couple, who worked at a mill when they were children, roughly the same age as the kids who will get the boxes. Using the information we got out of that oral history interview, the kids have to learn how much money they would’ve been making as kids and the cost of living at that time.”

    The Museum launched History To-Go boxes in the summer of 2021. The museum holds a yearly summer camp for kids, but with the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions, the museum decided to make summer camp mobile.

    “They (the boxes) were so popular; we decided to bring them back on a monthly basis,” Stubbs said.

    Boxes are available for pick up beginning on the first Tuesday of every month. Currently, families are limited to two boxes per family.

    “We have a section on our website where every month we put PDFs of what we have in the box, including a list of materials that you would need to do your own hands-on-activity, so if you have other children or if you are a large homeschool group and you want to replicate the boxes yourself, you can do that from our website,” Stubbs said.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is located at 801 Arsenal Ave. in Fayetteville and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

  • Bible As we head toward Easter, you’re bound to see a big-production movie (or at least a listing) that seems remarkably like a story you heard. Maybe you heard it in Sunday School or heard it told during one of the countless sermons preached about when God parted the Red Sea to allow the people of Israel to escape the Egyptians who had long enslaved them.

    On-screen or off, the imagery is striking and worthy of all the mentions we can give it; God’s faithfulness to his people is amazing!

    But why were the Israelites enslaved in the first place? You can trace that throughout Israel’s history leading to that parting of that sea, but more specifically to Joseph – as in the ‘coat of many colors’ son of Jacob, whose name God eventually changed to Israel.

    Joseph is the one who was thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and the one whose trials, tribulations and rise to a place of prominence in Egypt are all told within the pages of the very first book of the Bible: Genesis.

    The book details how Joseph trusted God through his enslavement, betrayal and situations that would leave most of us in utter despair. It details how in a wild turn of events, he becomes the very one who saves his father and the descendants of his 11 brothers when Joseph’s homeland is dying during a devastating famine.

    Even after all they did to him, Joseph helps his brothers and their enormous tribes, which leads them all to relocate to Egypt. They flourish and become productive, growing in both stature and number, and eventually, there’s a change of power in Egypt. The new king wasn’t fond of foreigners thriving in his kingdom, so he enslaved the Israelites – this continued and worsened over more than 400 years.

    So yes, God parting the waters to allow them to march out unharmed under the leadership of Moses (that’s another story) is a big deal and worthy of every telling.

    But there are so many points worth making along the way.

    The Bible is rich with stories of pain and struggle, forgiveness and redemption, and when we study it all in context, we begin to understand God’s love for us in all-new ways.

    From the table of contents in the front to the maps in the back, reading and gleaning truth from the Bible is worth your while. And just like this story about the Israelites marching out of a 430-year captivity through a sea which parted to allow them to cross on dry land, and then comes crashing in on the army chasing them, there are many pieces to every story.

    So, take time to study the Bible.

    Don’t miss a moment. Don’t look past a hero or a healing because if you miss a piece, you just might miss the point.

  • TechNet2 The annual TechNet Symposium is returning to Fort Bragg with the intent to help build solutions and share best practices that promote valuable results to technology challenges the military faces today.

    The symposium is hosted by the North Carolina chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). They are a non-profit volunteer association of technology professionals that promotes technology in the military community. The local North Carolina chapter hosts monthly luncheons, golf tournaments, professional development classes, college scholarships, STEM grants to local schools and the annual TechNet Fort Bragg conference.

    The president of the local chapter, Marv Gordner, says this has been the biggest exposition in the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg area every year for the past 12 years. In 2020, the conference was canceled due to COVID-19 and last year, it had to be held off base.

    “This year, we are back at Fort Bragg and right where and when we need to be,” Gordner said.

    The two-day military technology conference will be held at the Iron Mike Conference Center. TechNet Fort Bragg offers an opportunity for experts and leaders from across the Army and Fort Bragg community to address various sides of the challenging, controversial issues facing the U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Joint Special Operations Command and U.S. Army Special Operations Command communities.

    The topics covered during the conference will address hard-hitting issues facing the military technology community over the next 12 to 18 months.

    Attendees can pick a specific topic they would like to focus on during the symposium and go to those breakout sessions. Those tracks include Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Cyber, Data, Small Business and Other.
    Gordner says there are three main things people can take away from the exposition: Networking, Education and Giving to a good cause. The AFCEA will use the money raised at the conference for local charity efforts such as local teaching STEM grants, scholarships for high school seniors, and ROTC cadets in college.

    The keynote speaker will be Brig. Gen. Jeth B. Rey. He is the Director of the Network Cross-Functional Team within Army Futures Command. He is responsible for the continuous improvement of network, command, control, communications and intelligence to enable mission command across the tactical network. On Wednesday, April 6, he will be speaking about how the Army is modernizing the tactical network and increasing integration with the strategic network through the Army Unified Network Plan to deliver data-centric capabilities in support of Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) and Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

    “Everyone is welcome from E1 to people with stars on their shoulders. You will make good contacts. You can always learn something,” Gordner said. “You can always get that one percent or five percent better every day.”

    Gordner told Up & Coming Weekly that he hopes for at least 700 to 800 people to attend.

    The conference will take place on Tuesday, April 5 and Wednesday, April 6.

    Military and Government attendees can attend for free, while retired military and non-government attendees can attend for $175.

    Tickets are available at https://www.technetfortbragg.com/Register. People can also register at the door.

  • In my last column, I wrote about the Mediterranean diet. Nutrition trends are popular and frequently discussed topics. There are as many opinions on the best diet as there are a variety of diets. The industry has taken an active approach in marketing to us to impact the way we eat. Marketed products come in the form of vitamins, powders, planned meals and drinks. Specialized diets have become so popular that it is not unusual to see diet-related options on restaurant menus. In the long run, proper nutrition depends on individual consumption and how our bodies respond to nutrition interventions. Lifestyle, current health, and genetics also significantly impact how we react to a diet. Two people of the same age, sex, height and weight will respond differently to the amount of weight loss in the same period and see weight loss in different areas of their bodies.

    I am not suggesting that you go on the Paleo diet, but it is an interesting subject. Enthusiasts of the Paleo diet believe it is the healthiest way to eat because it works with your genetics, resulting in more energy and keeping you lean and strong. The Paleo diet has a heavy focus on protein consumption. It is considered a caveman diet or a stone-age diet consisting of foods thought to be eaten by humans in the Paleolithic era, dating approximately 2.5 million to ten thousand years ago. The significant difference in eating during this time was the food was obtained by hunting, gathering fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. When farming emerged, foods that became part of our diets included dairy products and legumes. Advocates of the diet believed that the addition of legumes and dairy products resulted in obesity and heart problems.

    Preferred Paleo foods are vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, wild game, grass-fed lean meat, fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and olive and walnut oils. People on the Paleo diet are advised to drink lots of water, black coffee or green tea. Foods to avoid are grains, legumes, dairy products, sugar, salt and potatoes. Some examples of a Paleo menu: Breakfast — smoothies with a combination of kale or spinach, banana, apple and almond milk or scrambled eggs with sauteed spinach, grilled tomatoes and pumpkin seeds. Lunch — mixed salad greens, fried sea bass, pumpkin seeds and olive oil dressing or roasted chicken with mixed greens, tomatoes and olive oil dressing. Dinner — roasted chicken stuffed with carrots and fresh rosemary or baked salmon with roasted asparagus.

    The Paleo diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, animal proteins, nuts and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish and less consumption of meat products.

    A safe approach to weight loss involves losing one to two pounds per week. Fad diets that cause a large amount of weight loss in a short time are not sustainable.

    A healthy approach to dieting includes a combination of diet and exercise. While going on a quick-fix diet for a special occasion or trying a friend’s diet can be tempting, the bottom line is that a sustainable lifestyle with good eating habits will result in a healthier you. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, saturated fats and sweets.

    Take your time selecting a diet and educating yourself or see a qualified nutritionist for meal plans. Live, love life with health and diet.

  • USASOC Last week, Fort Bragg ranges were busy playing host to an elite group of local, national and international special operators. Annually, Fort Bragg sets the stage for U.S. Special Operations Command Sniper Competition (USASOC). The event is created with great attention to detail and secrecy by the Special Forces Sniper School Instructors (SFSC) from the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. Each competition and each event are different, keeping highly trained competitors on their toes.

    This is the 13th time the competition has been held. In the wake of COVID, the event has had to shift and adapt. Last year, fewer teams competed, and the French team was the only international partner able to attend. During the 2020 competition, the USASOC Sniper Competition was held entirely in-house, with soldiers already at Fort Bragg representing the different Special Forces Groups and special operations elements.

    21 teams were in attendance to compete; six of the teams were international, including teams from Ireland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland,
    Non-descript white, gray and silver government issue vans ferried soldiers and their equipment between events on precise timelines. Six minutes to here, eight minutes there. Upon arrival at any given range, competition organizers provided each team with relevant details of the challenge before them. The teams collected the appropriate weaponry and scopes, bundled out of their vans and were given one minute to ask the SFSC instructor in charge questions.

    On Tuesday, March 22, a white van rolled up to Range 61 with a two-person team from the U.S. Marine Corps 3rd Raider Unit. One team member climbed to the first floor of a six-floor structure facing a long-range, and the other situated himself in the back of a Humvee next to the building. Each in the prone position. Spotters stood at scopes to check their accuracy and the instructor in charge handed the operator on the first-floor platform a tile with one of eight possible images. The team member in the Humvee, who played spotter for this event, was given a key with all eight images and each image corresponding to a specific target shape and color.

    The soldier in the Humvee has a carbine, the other a long gun or sniper rifle.

    "… background, there are several shapes," called the soldier on the platform. "On the background is a large five-pointed star."

    "Yup," the soldier in the Humvee confirmed.

    "Inside of that is a large circle, inside of the circle is a square inside of the square is hexagon… an octagon, inside of the square is an octagon, and then inside the octagon is an orange circle with a blue border," the soldier on the platform said.

    "Alright, it's going to be a green piece of steel. It's literally just a vertical … a green two-by-four," the soldier in the Humvee said.

    "Got it."

    The soldier on the platform lines up the shot, accounts for the distance and wind and pulls the trigger.

    "Miss," calls the spotter.

    And another tile is given to the soldier on the platform. This continues until the team's time has run out. The Marine Raiders praised the challenge, loaded up and headed to their next event.

    Each event is designed to test the team's marksmanship and ability to communicate and work as a team.

    On Range 62, the next event tested the teams on their ability to shoot at "known distances."

    "A big problem with shooting is wind," explained SFSC Instructor Rick Cuza.

    He explained that the targets were placed 500 to 800 meters out. Each bank of targets had been small, medium and large targets of about the same height but not the same width. The targets range in the number of points they are worth; more for smaller targets less for the larger ones.

    "They have to decide based on the distance and what they see the conditions which target they are going to shoot," Cuza said.

    At another event, soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) completed an event designed to test their ability to discriminate between their targets, deciding which targets are threats and which are not.

    Organizers staged this event in an urban setting with targets placed between 385 meters and 650 meters. The team was positioned in a room on an upper floor of a building shooting out of a window. The teams would need to use their scopes to determine if objects near their targets were weapons, indicating they were a threat.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Chuy Almonte, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Special Warfare Group believes the event does not simply measure marksmanship; the events measure a soldier's ability to perform under stress.

    "It's really about to be able to problem-solve … managing your stress," Almonte said.

    Almonte says that the competition is of value beyond measuring skills; that it lays a foundation of communication and collaboration and facilitates the sharing of knowledge with international partners.

    This is important from a perspective of personal experience, Almonte explained.

    While deployed in Afghanistan, Almonte worked on a firebase in a "very kinetic area during a very kinetic time." They needed help and were supported by a group of Czech Republic special forces. They built a strong relationship.

    "We brought a lot of white space to that region … we went from a 500-meter freedom of movement to an almost 10 kilometers freedom of movement," Almonte said. "Because of that partnership with the Czech soldiers."

    Further down the line, while working on a different problem set based in Africa, that relationship was again a benefit.

    "Focused in a totally different content and area of the world, but because of our previous relationship together, we were basically able to pick up where we left off," Almonte said.

    The events culminated in a banquet Friday, March 26, where the event's winners were recognized. A USASOC team for Fort Bragg took first place, France second, and 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) third. Ireland was disqualified during the competition for a negligent discharge.

  • Citys Mural By the time Jermaine "JP" Powell finishes a state-of-the-art mural where the I-295 Overpass crosses North Ramsey Street, motorists traveling into and outside the Fayetteville city limits will admire the attractive scenic design on both sides of the underpass.

    Without words, the mural will speak to ways in which the City of Fayetteville recognizes and supports the ways in which the arts can enrich a community. People may wonder why it took so long to have such an attractive mural painted. That's where my inside story begins.

    If you take time to drive past the early phases of the mural being painted, you will be able to see the stages that take place to create a very large mural titled We Are Fayetteville: Legacy and Future.

    So why is it important to know the process as the artist begins working – you can drive by and enjoy it when it's completed? In short, you will see why the mural looks the way it does; and you may be surprised at the logistics of a project of this scale.

    Factors include but are not limited to finding sources to support the project, planning, leadership knowledgeable about the arts, countless hours of coordinating with individuals, committees, agencies and groups, and of course, finding the right artist for the task.

    The I-295 and Ramsey Street Corridor Project started in 2017/2018 when the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County (Arts Council) applied for and received partial funding from the National Endowments for the Arts.

    Over the next few years, the project was paused several times due to budgetary concerns and the ability to receive approval for the work. COVID restrictions and people working remotely further delayed coordination with organizations.

    In early 2020, Michelle Horn and I were contracted to coordinate the mural project. Michelle and I had worked together coordinating the Veterans Park Project, we work well together, and both bring varied expertise and strengths.

    Bob Pinson, interim president/CEO of the Arts Council, and his staff worked closely with us to carry out many of the administrative details, interfacing with Michael Gibson and Tim Johnson with the Fayetteville/Cumberland Parks and Recreation Department (and too many others to list), NC DOT representatives and suppliers.

    So, the planning begins. Before launching the project with a nationwide "request for proposals (RFP)," an advisory board of individuals in the visual arts/architecture was created. Coordinators met with members of the City's Revitalization Committee to determine themes. Finally, the coordinators and Pinson met with a group of citizens to discuss themes they believed best represented the north side of Fayetteville.
    Now the RFP could be published, initializing a national search for submissions by artists. Artists sent their resumes and examples of mural designs using themes from the meetings: "diversity, agricultural past, forward-thinking, a pleasant and fun place to live and work and the colors of green and gold... since Methodist University and Pine Forest High School anchor this area."

    North Carolina Department of Transportation owns the bridge and the concrete surface on each side of the abutment that will be painted. If the design was going to be approved, the process first had to meet the detailed guidelines of the NCDOT Aesthetics Committee from planning to pre-approved paint for the project.

    The preliminary guidelines had been met: (1) a good location for a mural and a design that is not distracting, (2) the coordinators provided the engagement and expertise required, (3) the community was engaged early in the process, (4) a five-step process of selecting an artist was used, and (5), the RFP went to as many national websites as possible for the search to be inclusive and diverse regardless of race, color, national origin, sex or age."

    After the June 2020 deadline for artists to submit their ideas, the coordinators selected the top three artists based on resume, design and if they were suited for such a large project. The members of the Advisory Committee chose the artist in a blind selection process (blind selection means the committee did not see the names of artists or where they lived – only viewed prior murals by an artist and ideations for this project).

    Two of the finalists included an Italian artist creating murals in the US and a muralist living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Through the blind selection process, the advisory committee selected a third artist: Jermaine "JP" Powell, an artist living in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina!

    The decision was overwhelmingly unanimous. Powell, a mixed-media fine artist and mural artist living in North Carolina, is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, located in Brooklyn, New York. He was selected for the project due to his strong design skills, creative use of patterns and textures, and his uplifting and positive approach to subjects in prior murals and content.

    By August 2020, Powell, the coordinators and Pinson had met with residents, and they discussed the piece's themes with the artist. Residents shared what they valued in their part of the community.

    Over the next few months, the artist worked with coordinators and advisory committee members, revising and presenting his drafts for approval.

    By March 2021, the design was approved by the city's Public Art Committee, Revitalization and Corridor Committee and Fayetteville City Council.

    A year later, this month, after many COVID-related delays, the project is starting. Unexpected delays included the length of time it took for two NC DOT Aesthetic Committees to review the approved design and paint being used, COVID and Zoom meetings, approved paints on backorder finally arriving and weather preventing priming of the walls. Finally, Powell has begun laying the foundation of the design on the walls.

    During the delays, meetings on the project continued with the coordinators, Powell, Arts Council staff, and staff from Fayetteville City Parks and Recreation. Discussions included logistics of the site, equipment and supplies. A small team of volunteer assistants was selected, met and were briefed on safety standards at the location and the practice of working with the artist.

    Everyone who has participated in the project is excited to have Powell as the artist and share a mural we know the community will find pleasing and attractive.
    The mural, like other public art projects, will add enormous value to the cultural, aesthetic and economic vitality of our community. State-of-the-art projects contribute to our identity as a community, foster community pride, and enhance the quality of life for the residents.

    The entire mural process has been documented and archived at the Arts Council as a resource for future projects. The Arts Council marketing team is creating a video to share when the mural is complete. Visit http://www.wearethearts.com/295mural for more information.

    Photo Credit: Location for a new mural at the intersection of I-295 and north Ramsey Street. Depending on weather conditions, the murals are expected to be completed by the end of June. Photo courtesy of the City of Fayetteville.

  • Artists for Austism April is Autism Awareness Month, and “Jammin’” Jon Kiebon knows what Fayetteville needs to kick it off in high style. The first annual Artists for Autism Awareness benefit concert will take place at the Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe on Saturday, April 3, from 12 to 5 p.m.

    Formerly called Jammin’ Jon’s Rocking for Autism Awareness, the event was conceived in 2012 on the boardwalk of Rockaway Beach in New York and inspired by his daughter, Gail, who was diagnosed on the spectrum before age two.

    Kiebon, a New York musician heavily inspired by the work of Frank Zappa, saw a concert as an opportunity to bring more visibility to people on the spectrum and fundraise for important causes.

    “The autism community can be so fragmented, and people are so leery of one another. This event is about raising awareness for autism, available resources to those on the spectrum, and bringing the community together.”

    In search of affordable housing amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic, Jammin’ Jon found his way to Fayetteville by chance, then quickly found his tribe in business owner Franco Webb and local spoken-word artist “Little Niecie.”

    What began as a discussion between sets at the open-mic nights hosted by Webb’s Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe would eventually become the blueprint for April’s concert.

    Little Niecie, who also has a child on the spectrum, is incredibly passionate about this project, taking on the co-coordinator role.

    At her suggestion, the concert will keep its origins as a fundraising event, with 100% of its proceeds going to Cumberland County special education teachers.

    “Special-Ed teachers go through so much and pay for so much out of pocket. So we’ve teamed up with School Tools,” another business based in Fayetteville, “to ensure these teachers get what they need.”

    Niecie’s involvement also stems from a place a bit closer to home. Like Jon, she wants to be an agent of awareness regarding autism.

    “People tend to think of autism in one scope; this event is an opportunity to educate the community about what autism is and what it can be. We also want people to have fun at an awesome family event.”

    In that vein, Artists for Autism Awareness has plenty to offer.

    The 1-hour open mic stage will give local artists, many of whom are on the spectrum themselves, an opportunity to shine. In addition, performers can look forward to an awards ceremony at the end of the set, presented by “Little Niecie” herself.

    Attendees can pursue various vendor booths selling everything from woodcraft, wreaths, and jewelry to children’s books and poetry.

    Information booths for veterans and those with disabilities will be on-site to offer more information on available resources in the community.

    Complete with food trucks, a raffle, and plenty of activities for kids in attendance, the Artists for Autism Awareness is an event for anyone and everyone.

    Not forgetting its roots as a musical festival, the main stage has quite a show for those in attendance.

    Several local musicians, such as Fat Freddy’s Cat and Kevin Taylor, to name just a few, will be there to rock the crowd.

    By no means a local, but proud to now call Fayetteville his home, Jammin’ Jon will also take the stage to give back to a community for which he is so grateful.

    “This is surreal,” Jon says reflectively of the event, “this is much bigger than what I did in Rockaway; I never had anything like this.”

  • Hotels Very few people know that my first career out of the Army, in 1970, was in the hospitality industry. My degree, earned in the Army's Project Transition Program, was in hotel/motel management. And fortunately, my first job was with Pinehurst, Inc. I was a hotel management intern at their elegant and historic Carolina Hotel in the village of Pinehurst. I worked under and with the industry's most experienced and dedicated hospitality professionals. From bell hopping to the front desk to housekeeping, night auditing and food and beverage, I learned from the best. At twenty-one years old, I was eager to learn the craft and even keener to immerse myself in a satisfying career dedicated to making people feel welcomed, comfortable and happy.

    It's a colossal transition from hotel management and hospitality to newspaper publishing, and there were several other experiences and careers in-between. However, I learned one thing for sure, the rules and principles they taught me in the hospitality industry apply to every aspect of work and life I have experienced since then. This is why I have dedicated the past 26 years to showcasing and accentuating the Fayetteville community.
    When I created the Up & Coming Weekly newspaper in 1996, the Fayetteville community had no shortage of warm and welcoming residents, arts and culture, dedicated and involved business professionals or municipal leadership. What the Fayetteville community did lack was somewhat of an enigma to me, and that was an advocate for the city. In the absence of sufficient media, a dedicated local TV and radio station, the marketing and promotion of the uniquely friendly nature of our diverse Fayetteville community was lost. Filling that void became our mantra and, ultimately, our business philosophy. The rest is history. So, you may be asking what all this information has to do with apartments and hotels. Much.

    It is commendable that Jordan Jones of Prince Charles Holdings LLC and the city have agreed to build over 200 apartments above the $17 million-plus Hay Street Parking deck. The deck without the elevator! Residential apartments may seem like a good alternative after the Hyatt hotel, and office building didn't materialize. I do not think it is the best alternative because of all the hard work the Arts Council, Cool Spring Downtown District, Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Alliance and many others are doing to enhance historic downtown Fayetteville. Everyone wants to make downtown Fayetteville a thriving destination and a successful environment for local businesses, organizations and guests. With a background in the hospitality industry and after spending decades traveling for business, I can say, without a doubt, a first-class 3.5 or 4-star property located downtown would create a tourist and economical tour de force for Fayetteville and the downtown business community. The Exit 49, Skibo Road and Cross Creek Mall areas have good businesses; however, they are not in downtown Fayetteville. People wanting to experience the heart of our city want to stay in the heart of our city. Visitors, guests and travelers spending the night on the city's perimeter are reluctant to venture downtown and instead seek out more convenient restaurants or entertainment venues. However, if they stayed in the heart of historic downtown Fayetteville, the entire city would become their dining, entertainment and fun destination. I'm convinced that quality properties like Hyatt, Courtyard, Fairfield, Hilton or Hampton Inns would do exceptionally well while drawing travelers off I-95 and providing guests and visitors a favorable and hospitable impression of our community. Local downtown businesses and city and county agencies would support such a venture because a quality hotel would provide lodging and meeting space convenient to both city and county offices. A quality downtown hotel would be a win-win for the local downtown businesses, the city and the county government, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, the Woodpeckers, the Arts Council and citizens. The apartments are good, but a quality downtown hotel would make historic downtown Fayetteville even better.

    I'll close by sharing this: On July 29, seven Harley Davidson motorcycle riders (and one BMW) will be leaving Fayetteville and traveling to Sturgis, South Dakota, a distance of 1850 miles. Our itinerary includes spending the night in hotels in downtown Charleston, West Virginia, downtown Cleveland, Ohio, downtown Ludington, Michigan, downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin and downtown Deadwood, South Dakota. We are not the exception to the rule of travel enjoyment. Without a quality hotel, downtown Fayetteville deprives itself of a substantial economic opportunity by neglecting to provide the facility and amenities this market

    In closing, if you know of any local hotel or business entrepreneurs who agree with this assessment, have them contact me. After I retire from the newspaper business, I will gladly come and manage their hotel for them. Full disclosure, I was never very good at housekeeping!

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • Ukraine Demonstration This past week, March 24, marked one month since renewed aggression in Ukraine in the ongoing Russo-Ukraine War. Beginning in 2014 and resulting in the Russian annexation of Crimea and unrest in the Donbas region, the war has culminated in a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. While the war may seem very far away for many in Cumberland County, it is hitting home for some.

    Dmitry and Alena, whose last names are being withheld at their request because Dmitry is in the U.S. Army Special Forces, are from and grew up near Kyiv. The couple immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine. Dmitry joined the U.S. Army in 2009 and graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2014. He currently serves on active duty and is stationed locally at Fort Bragg.

    While Dimitry and Alena now live in the U.S., their families are still in Ukraine. This includes brothers and sisters and their children, aunts, uncles and cousins. Dmitry's nephew and brother-in-law are currently fighting in Kyiv along with thousands more throughout Ukraine who have vowed to defend their homeland.

    Shortly after the invasion, Dmitry put out a call through his personal network and via social media for support and medical supplies to be donated and sent to Ukraine. Just one day after the invasion began, Dmitry posted.

    "If you [are] not too far away from me: Fayetteville NC, we've got some request[s] from Ukraine," Dmitry said in his post.

    He was requesting medical supplies to send home. And the community answered.

    "Russian and Belorussian terrorists are still attacking my home country, and I am still looking for equipment to send to Ukraine. We successfully shipped off today 22 40-gallon boxes of amazing medical equipment worth $98,000," Dmitry said in early March.

    In support of his call for help, the Special Forces Foundation, a nonprofit with the mission of supporting Green Berets and their families, helped Dmitry and Alena establish a fund supporting their cause.

    "The Green Beret Humanitarian Fund (GBHF) was created to support humanitarian efforts in which Green Berets coordinate, work with or otherwise support outside of their line of duty. The fund was created in the first days of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine when a fellow Green Beret and his wife reached out for assistance in helping their former countrymen," the Special Forces Foundation said in a statement. "Dmitry and

    Alena have actively been gaining support within their community in the form of monetary and material donations and physical help in preparing those donations for delivery to Ukrainians in dire need. The GBHF has been set up so that they, along with other advocates, can actively raise funds to aid in the expenses accrued when shipping donated items to Ukraine."

    Since the creation of the GBHF, a Facebook page, UkrainianEfforts has been created, demonstrations in Fayetteville have been organized, and Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom and Dirty Whiskey Craft Cocktail Bar have scheduled an event in support of Dmitry and Alena. The brewery is accepting donations by collecting Meals Ready to Eat, dry freeze foods, blankets, water filtration systems, socks and undergarments and medical supplies.

    The efforts to support the GBHF will culminate in an event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 3.

    For information on how to help the GBHF visit the Facebook UkrainianEfforts, and to make a donation, you can text GBHF to 41444 and follow the link provided.

  • We Americans take great pride in our Constitutional right to free speech. It is, after all, the very first amendment we made to our Constitution in our clarifying Bill of Rights in 1791. The First Amendment protects us from government restrictions on our speech, but it is widely interpreted as a right to voice our thoughts in public. We cherish it, in part, because other nations do not have such a guarantee for their people, a sad reality on full display during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    So, it is not surprising that a recent editorial in the New York Times with the headline America has a free speech problem" caught my attention. The Times' editorial board describes our problem this way. "For all the tolerance and enlightenment that modern society claims, Americans are losing hold of a fundamental right as citizens of a free country: the right to speak their minds and voice their opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned... the old lesson of 'think before you speak' has given way to the new lesson of 'speak at your peril.'"

    The Times lays much of the blame for this dangerous situation on the vicious ideological war between the right and left of our political system, with one side pretending "cancel culture" does not exist and the other side attacking rapid societal change with laws banning books and censoring some discussions in schools and colleges.

    What's more, the newspaper has teamed with Siena College to poll on this issue. Here are some of its questions … be honest with yourself as you read them!

    • Over the past year, have you held your tongue because you were concerned about retaliation or harsh criticism?
    • Over the past year, have you retaliated against or harshly criticized another person because of something he or she said?
    • How much of a problem is it that some Americans do not exercise their freedom of speech in everyday situations out of fear of retaliation or harsh criticism?

    No matter how you responded personally, 55% of those polled said they had indeed held their tongues, more women than men and slightly more Republicans than Democrats. Fewer, 22%, reported that they had done the retaliating, more younger folks and more liberals than conservatives.

    And, not surprisingly, fully 84% believe fear of retaliation for expressing one's opinions is a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem. Nearly half said they feel less free to talk about politics now than they did ten years ago.

    Millions of us are worried about this, and with good reason.

    Living in a free society requires respectful communication, not the free-flowing, often incorrect and false and/or unattributed vitriol on various social media platforms. Large numbers of us read, believe and disseminate misinformation, and disinformation is damaging our nation.

    We cannot communicate with — much less understand — each other if we do not respect each other's right to express our opinions, no matter how much we might disagree with those opinions. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us identify with one political side.

    At this time in our nation's history, few of us actually have open minds. Conversion is not the point.

    The point, the concern, the danger is that we have lost the will and the ability to communicate respectfully when we disagree with each other. We see each other not as fellow Americans with differing points of view but as enemies.

    If that is true, we have squandered our precious right to free speech.

    Therefore, we have canceled each other and our precious First Amendment right.

  • Market House The Market House was a major topic of discussion during Fayetteville’s City Council meeting Monday night and will continue to be for the next few months.

    The U.S. Department of Justice, which held two workshop meetings with 80 members of the community in October and January, presented a final report to the Council.

    Dion Lyons, a specialist from the DOJ who oversaw the two meetings, says these meetings were different than his usual City-SPIRIT workshops. This was because a decision was already made by the City to repurpose the Market House so the groups that met could not talk about demolition or moving the Market House. Instead, they discussed topics surrounding structural modification, art exhibits and themed events.

    “Both groups want to see the Market House as a symbol of education. They want the true comprehensive story of the history of the Market House to be told. Both groups want to see the Market House handicap accessible and ADA compliant. They want to see vibrant displays of art that connect Market House visitors with activities that promote positive emotional responses and insight. It would feature various genres of art that represent African-American culture and history, as well as an alternate space that is representative of Fayetteville. There were recommendations to enclose the arches to allow the structure to be secured once the proposed solutions are implemented," a spokeswoman for the Human-Rights Commission told the council.

    The goal of the DOJ report and the Human-Relations Commission was for the council to approve the report so the commission can go back and create a more detailed plan on which suggestions took the highest priority and create detailed plans on how to fulfill the suggestions.

    “We've narrowed down the community's input into a set of sort of action plans and recommendations for city council,” Lyons said. “Instead of reconvening all 80 or more citizens who participated, we would now go forward with the recommendations that we have and a subcommittee on a subcommittee of those same 80 people now represented by five from the first group in October and five from the second group in January. Those would be the people on the committee now tasked to work with the City Council to implement the plans that they came up with.”

    However, many council members felt that not enough community input was allowed for the DOJ meetings. The meetings were not open to the public, and the number of people allowed in the meetings was limited because of COVID-19. The people involved in the decisions were also chosen by the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Rights Commission.

    Councilmember Courtney Banks-Mclaughlin motioned for the council’s staff to open these discussions back up to the public in order to receive more input about the repurposing of the Market House. That motion was approved 9 to 1, with Councilmember Johnny Dawkins voting against it.

    Fencing to come down
    The City Council also voted Monday night to take down the fence surrounding the Market House.

    The fence was put up around the Market House shortly after rioters set fire to the building following protests in May of 2020. City Manager Doug Hewett says the repairs are completed and it was up to the council to decide whether or not to keep the fencing up.

    "We're having open dialog on how to deal with it with the citizens of Fayetteville and we trying to hear back from them because it is a sticky, sticky subject,” Councilmember D.J. Haire said. “But I just don't see where the need to continue to have it surrounded with the temporary fence with all of the work has been done and the improvements has been done and the fence doesn't make it look any better.”

    Councilmember Antonio Jones said that he believes the fence is divisive and this is the right time to take it down.

    “At some point we have to trust the community to do the right thing, just like some would trust them to do the wrong thing,” Jones said.

    The motion passed nine to one, with Councilmember Banks-McLaughlin voting against.

    The City Manager said that the fence wouldn’t come down immediately, but would probably happen within the month.

    “We would probably want to make sure we gave notice so that we had made everyone aware and probably several days for that. We would need to remove the fencing, clean up, probably brush and sweep the area,” Hewitt said.

  • The water is safe at Fort Bragg, according to officials during a town hall last week. The virtual town hall addressed the concerns of possible water contamination and illness that have been rumored online.

    Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander, hosted a town hall alongside Steve Wykel Director of Public Works, Audrey Oxendine from Public Works, LTC Teresa Pearce from Public Health and LTC Easter Strayer from the post’s Veterinary Clinic on Friday afternoon to answer questions from Fort Bragg residents.

    “Fort Bragg Garrison takes these issues seriously and an investigation is ongoing,” said Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander. “The health and welfare of the Soldiers and their families are our number one priority.”

    The American States Utility Services routinely tests 70 different sites across Fort Bragg. The samples are used to test for bacteria and fecal matter present in the water. Based on recent concerns of possible, the garrison commander ordered additional samples this week, which have all come back negative.

    “We’ve never had an actual true positive sample where we had to do a boil water notice, but if we did have a sample come back positive for bacteria they immediately notify that location,” said Oxendine. “We resample upstream and downstream of that location, and then if it is positive, we issue a boil water notice.”

    Pence says what sickness is being seen on the installation is Norovirus. Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, according to the CDC. Fort Bragg says there has been a small number of norovirus cases reported in the area.

    Pearce stresses the importance of washing your hands and cleaning your home to help prevent this virus. She says the virus is very contagious and usually spreads within the household and from person to person.

    Since Norovirus spreads among children, Fort Bragg Schools and Child Development Centers have been notified of the concerns and to take extra precautions such as proper hand-washing, according to Pence.

  • Spring LakeFollowing a State Auditor's Office report about the misappropriation of funds in Spring Lake, the Local Government Commission (LGC) will officially step in to avoid payment processing problems.

    Following the release of the audit report, Interim Town Manager Samantha Wullenwaber was fired by the city. According to the LGC, Wullenwaber had the authority to sign checks and her abrupt dismissal left the town with limited options to perform that function.

    During a special meeting on Wednesday, March 23, the LGC voted to retain David Erwin as the town's finance officer and appointed Tiffany Anderson and Susan McCullen as deputy finance officers. All three are State and Local Government Finance Division employees. Erwin was retained as account signatory. Anderson and McCullen also were named account signatories. These appointees should ensure that checks go out on time.

    The Board of Alderman held their own closed session meeting the following night. While the board took no formal action and nothing was voted on, a new interim town manager was announced. The board agreed to hire Joe Durham from Joe Durham and Associates.

    Additionally, Spring Lake's town attorney, Jonathan Charleston, submitted his resignation on Wednesday, March 23.

    According to the LGC, in Charleston's letter to Spring Lake Mayor Kia Anthony, he expressed appreciation for the opportunity to work with the board.

    "While we have worked with the town through several challenges, we believe now is a good time to transition to new counsel," Charleston's letter stated, as recounted by the LGC.

    Charleston has provided a 30-day notice, but he said he "can accommodate a sooner departure with the town's express consent," according to the LGC.

  • Residents in rural Cumberland County with limited access to high-speed broadband internet may have more options in the coming years due to local and state funding through the American Rescue Plan Act.

    The county Board of Commissioners approved $1 million in local ARPA funding Monday to partner with Brightspeed, an internet service provider headquartered in Charlotte.

    Cumberland County received $65 million from ARPA, federal legislation passed last year to combat the public health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    To fund the needed infrastructure, Brightspeed is applying to the N.C. Department of Information Technology for a Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology, or GREAT, grant, which is also funded through ARPA money allocated to the state.

    GREAT, which started in 2018 before the pandemic, was redesigned for 2022 to incorporate $350 million from the federal dollars.

    ISPs, like Brightspeed, can apply for the GREAT grant. If accepted, ISPs can receive up to $4 million.

    The ISP, as dictated from state legislation in 2018 that started GREAT, must match that grant anywhere from 35%-50%.

    However, ISPs can partner with counties, such as Cumberland, to request local ARPA dollars to be used as part of the required matching funds.

    “That is a big focus of the way that this particular state legislation is written,” said Angela Bailey, director of the broadband infrastructure office at NCDIT. “To encourage partnerships with counties so that we’re leveraging both the state ARPA dollars and the local ARPA dollars.”

    At the meeting Monday, County Manager Amy Cannon told commissioners that Brightspeed plans to bring high-speed fiber access to 2,017 residences and businesses.

    The company estimates the total cost of the project to be $7.5 million, costing about $3,700 per location.

    If accepted into the GREAT grant program, Brightspeed and Cumberland County would invest $2.5 million and $1 million, respectively, as the company has applied for the maximum grant amount of $4 million.

    The application period for the $350 million in the grant program began Jan. 31 and will end April 4.

    NCDIT will begin assessing applications after that date.

    Brightspeed is the second company in recent months to announce expansion of its fiber network into Cumberland County.

    Metronet, a fiber internet company based in Indiana, launched its fiber network in the county earlier this month, Carolina Public Press reported.

    The company is investing $70 million of its own money into the new infrastructure. According to the county and the city of Fayetteville, neither is spending any money on the project.

    The city’s Public Works Commission, however, is investing $1.7 million in the construction.

    Metronet has announced plans to expand to parts of rural Cumberland, including the small towns of Falcon, Godwin, Linden and Stedman.

    Brightspeed has not been in contact with the PWC, a spokesperson with PWC said.

    Requirements of the GREAT program
    To be eligible for the GREAT grant that Brightspeed is pursuing, the funds must be used to build eligible infrastructure in economically distressed counties or rural census tracts with limited broadband access in other counties.

    The state defines eligible counties as the first and second of the N.C. Department of Commerce’s three-tiered county system, with tier one being defined as the most economically disadvantaged. Cumberland is among the tier one counties.

    Brightspeed’s construction plan for its fiber network includes many rural parts of Cumberland, stretching from Gray’s Creek through the Rockfish Road area in Hope Mills to the Hoke County line, Cannon said. The coverage area will also go from Wade to the Harnett County line, she said.

    The purpose of the GREAT grant program is to serve rural communities like these as it often isn’t profitable for ISPs to build infrastructure in remote areas, Bailey said.

    “(The program) essentially incentivizes private-sector providers, broadband providers, to build into areas of the state that are unserved with broadband service,” she said.

    NCDIT defines unserved as locations with no access to internet service with speeds of at least 25 megabytes per second download and 3 megabytes per second upload.

    While more than 99% of Cumberland County has access to that level of service, according to data from NCDIT, most of that is centered in Fayetteville.

    Less than 10% of the entire county has access to fiber internet service, which typically offers speeds well above the state’s minimum threshold.

    A Brightspeed spokesperson said in an email to Carolina Public Press that the company offers speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second upload and download, which is about 1,000 megabytes.

    During the GREAT grant program’s vetting process, NCDIT will administer scores to applicants that account for how fast the service is, how many unserved locations there are in the project and the cost of construction, among other things.

    Applicants with the highest scores, based on available funding, will be accepted into the program.

    After the application phase, accepted ISPs will have a two-year window to complete construction, though a Brightspeed spokesperson said the company would anticipate the project in Cumberland to be finished before that window lapses.

    After construction, NCDIT will continue to monitor the ISP’s service to ensure deployed speeds are maintained as part of the grant requirements, Bailey said.

    As a federal requirement of ARPA, ISPs must also participate in the affordable connectivity program, which requires that households at 200% or below the federal poverty level receive certain discounts on internet service.

    GREAT prior to ARPA
    Prior to ARPA, the GREAT grant program operated initially with $10 million from the state. In the years after, it received $15 million annually.

    The first ISPs accepted into the program completed construction last summer.

    According to NCDIT, the program throughout its history has awarded over $55 million to ISPs to expand broadband service to over 40,000 residences and businesses in North Carolina.

  • Cumberland County CourthouseLast Friday, Cumberland County filed a lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont chemical companies, accusing the companies of causing severe groundwater contamination in the county.

    The law firm companies, Crueger Dickinson L.L.C. and Baron & Budd, P.C., filed the lawsuit on behalf of Cumberland County.

    DuPont has had a chemical facility in Cumberland County dating back to the 1960s. In the 1980s, DuPont started discharging a chemical known as PFOA into the Cape Fear River. PFOA was a type of PFAS chemical, also known as a "forever chemical" because they do not naturally break down and accumulate in the environment and the blood and organs of people and animals. In 2005, PFOA was phased out after the Environmental Protection Agency penalized DuPont for failing to report information about its risk to human health and the environment. In 2009, the company began using a substitute known as GenX, another type of PFAS substance, claiming it was safer. However, the E.P.A. has since said that GenX exposure is associated with an increased risk of health problems in animal studies, including issues in the kidney, liver, immune system and others. Additionally, it can increase the risk of cancer.

    Chemours promised in 2017 to capture, remove and safely dispose of the contaminants in the drinking water source.

    In October 2020, North Carolina filed a lawsuit against DuPont and Chemours, alleging they were aware of the health threats associated with GenX. North Carolina officials announced in August that Chemours had exceeded limits on how much GenX it's Fayetteville factory was emitting and fined them $300,000 for the violations.

    The Complaint alleges that the companies discharged these toxic chemicals into the air, groundwater, and surface water for decades.

    "These companies have used the environment surrounding the Fayetteville Works facility as a dumping ground for hundreds of chemicals while assuring the E.P.A. and state agencies that they were doing no such thing," the Complaint alleges.

    According to the county, these chemicals have been detected at two elementary schools and have impacted thousands of Cumberland County residents who use groundwater wells as their sole water source.

    Up & Coming Weekly has reached out to the Chemours Company F.C., L.L.C., DuPont de Nemours, Inc., and Corteva, Inc. about the lawsuit but has not heard back.

  • Fort BraggA visit from the 10th Marines Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Bragg will mean a larger than usual presence of loud explosions and artillery fire.

    The Marines will be conducting their semi-annual field artillery section certifications, command-post exercise, and live-fire training, Operation Rolling Thunder, March 24 through April 10. The field artillery live fire portion of the exercise starts on March 28. The 10th Marines will fire significant amounts of M777 Howitzer 155mm ammunition from twenty different M777 Howitzers, which can be associated with loud explosions and reverberations upon detonation.

     At the same time, field artillery units from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Field Artillery Brigade will conduct live-fire training resulting in additional loud explosions and reverberations.

    “The training conducted at Fort Bragg is necessary to help maintain the 10th Marine Regiment’s readiness,” said Sharilyn Wells, Fort Bragg spokesperson. “We ask the communities surrounding Fort Bragg to be understanding while they are here training.”

    According to Wells, all field artillery units will comply with existing requirements that prohibit them from massing fires larger than battalion size between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily or from firing during the hours of 10 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

  • IMG 0854The Gilbert Theater, "Theater with a Pulse," brings "Othello," a tale of love, envy, betrayal and race to its stage from March 25 to April 10.

    The Gilbert is an award-winning community theater located in the heart of downtown Fayetteville, founded in 1994 by Lynn Pryer. Now in its 28th season, the theater prides itself on bringing a diverse selection of topics, tastes and artistic styles to the stage.

    "Othello" tells the story of Venetian general Othello, a nobleman of Black Moorish descent. Othello struggles to hold on to his reputation, his secret marriage to Desdemona and his military career at the hands of Iago, a scheming, lower-ranked soldier driven by jealousy.

    Written around 1604, Othello tackles themes that co-directors Lawrence Carlisle III and Montgomery Sutton believe still resonates with audiences today.

    "This play is about something that at its heart is universal," said Carlisle, who is also artistic director at the Gilbert Theater.

    While the idea of Shakespeare may seem intimidating for some, Sutton's adaptation is designed to be accessible, bridging the gulf between classical works like Shakespeare and modern-day audiences.
    The production will be modern, with the characters dressed in everyday clothing. Sutton wants the characters to be "incredibly recognizable" to the people in the audience.
    The play will unfold as a "psychological thriller," with the run time cut to 90 minutes and one intermission.

    "We've taken fine-grit sandpaper to this play and made it smooth and aerodynamic."

    "The goal," Sutton explains, "is to tell a story simply and clearly," Carlisle echoes the sentiment, expressing his deep appreciation for this play. He feels it is one of Shakespeare's "most focused and straightforward works."

    "We've trimmed a lot of fat off the language," Sutton explains. "It's still rich; it's still heightened; it's still Shakespeare, but with nothing extraneous."

    Ultimately, Carlisle and Sutton want theatergoers to feel connected. Engagement is a word that comes up a lot when speaking about the play's production and their hopes for the audience.

    "I want people to walk away really connecting with questions the play asks about human nature, what it means to be a villain, and what culpability we have for our actions," Sutton said. "Come ready to have your assumptions challenged."

    Carlisle invites the audience to come and truly experience theater, stating that "live theater is a much more visceral experience than other forms of entertainment."

    "I want people to come to enjoy live theater, enjoy the show, and come away with more appreciation for Shakespeare," Carlisle said. “If you don't like Shakespeare or feel you don't understand Shakespeare — this is the show to see."

    While online ticket purchases are recommended, the box office will be open one and a half hours prior to the show's start.

    General admission tickets are $18; discount tickets for first responders, military, students, and seniors are also available. Tickets can be purchased at www.gilberttheater.com. For more information, call 910- 678-7186.

  • in her shoesThe Rape Crisis of Cumberland County at the Phoenix Center has set a date for their 10th annual Walk Awhile in Their Shoes event, Friday, March 25 at 7 p.m., in front of the Encore Academy Building on Hay Street in downtown Fayetteville.

    “The event originally started as a fundraiser, but it has really grown into an awareness event as well as a fundraiser about sexual assault in our community,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director of Rape Crisis of Cumberland County, at the Phoenix Center. “We will stroll down to Segra Stadium, and that is where we will be having our after party.”

    The Rape Crisis of Cumberland County at the Phoenix Center supports sexual and domestic violence victims in multiple ways.

    “Last year, we had 412 victims of sexual violence and 398 victims of domestic violence in Cumberland County, and we provide services from a crisis hotline, responding to the emergency room, responding to law enforcement and going to court,” said Gerdes. “Last year, domestic violence cases were different, but the numbers were not necessarily up because of COVID-19.”

    Gerdes added that last year schools were closed, many worked from home or were unemployed and much domestic violence was contained to the home. Many victims did not feel comfortable reaching out or leaving their homes for help for many reasons.

    These conditions have impacted federal funding for the center.

    “We had closed shelters whether it was due to staffing, COVID-19 outbreak or just closed, and we all took a big hit in federal funding,” said Gerdes. “The services that used to be prior to COVID-19 were not there, and coming out of COVID-19, we are still feeling those effects.”

    She added, “For domestic violence, we are focusing on really trying to get victims to a safe place which is more than likely outside of Cumberland County.”

    Walk Awhile in Their Shoes event will see men walk four blocks down Hay Street wearing high heels; the walk will end at Segra Stadium.
    The traditional red heels have been challenging to source this year, so event planners welcome the support regardless of footwear.

    “Originally, it was red high heels, but we just can’t find enough red high heels to be honest with you,” said Gerdes. “Some men don’t wear red high heels for the walk, so they wear red shoes, black flats or their tennis shoes, and we are okay with that. We have some seasoned, older gentlemen that may have hip or knee problems but want to come out and support, and they do, and we are so grateful for that.”

    Plans for the Phoenix Center involve working to return to where they were before COVID-19, building back up their volunteer advocates, a pilot program to support the need for sexual assault nurse examiners, advocating for a bill in Raleigh and using funds to rehab their building.

    “One of the most amazing things about this walk is that we have victims, their family members and husbands that come to this walk, and they walk the walk,” said Gerdes. “It is so incredible to see these victims in awe of seeing these people supporting them, not knowing who they are.”

    Registration begins at 6 p.m. on the day of the event, and the cost is $25, $15 with a student ID; for more information, call 910-485-7273.

  • 3283081The All American Races include the All American Half Marathon and a 5K, which are now open to the public for participation.

    "This is a virtual event, and our runners are able to run at any time between now up until Tuesday, May 31," said Jennifer Fayson, Fort Bragg MWR special events office. "Now that it has gone virtual, they will be able to run on their own and select the location of their choosing, and we would like for runners to know that the new Liberty Park is available for them to use."

    The event is a morale booster and community event. While it is usually an in-person race, due to the current 82nd Airborne Division's Immediate Response Force Deployments to Europe, virtual, seemed the way to go for race planners.

    "The purpose of the event is to bring some morale to our families, soldiers, veterans and members of our community," Fayson said. "Recently, it was supposed to be an in-person event with a half marathon and 5K; however, due to various events going on, we transitioned it to a virtual event."

    The virtual event allows runners freedom of venue and includes mail-out swag.

    "Winners now have an opportunity to run a 5K or a half marathon at a place of their choosing, and they will submit the results to us, and we will mail them an event shirt, half marathon or 5K medal, and a commemorative event bib," Fayson said.

    The All American Races, formally known as the All American Marathon, held its inaugural event in 2014. The marathon was a collaboration between the City of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. It began as a marathon, half marathon, and 5k.

    In previous years, the marathon and the half marathon started in downtown Fayetteville, and runners ran the All American Freeway onto the installation and crossed the finish line at the Main Post Parade Field.

    "After the race going virtual in 2020 and 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, we felt this would be a good time to make some changes," said Fayson.

    "The transition to a loop course that started and finished at the new Liberty Park was one of the changes that we were most excited about, and we are looking forward to a return to the in-person event in 2023."

    Previously, the half marathon was nicknamed "Mike to Mike."

    At that time, the run started at the iconic Iron Mike statue in front of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in historic downtown Fayetteville and passed the Iron Mike statue on Fort Bragg located near the finish line at the Main Post Parade Field.

    These virtual marathons are non-competitive with no age group or overall awards. Participation costs $40 per race.

    Registration is going on now and will run until May 31. Visit www.zippyreg.com/online_reg/?e=1610, to register, or call, 910-908-5977.

  • Monster Truckz Crown Thumbnail ea5e6f03f8Truckz! Truckz! And more Truckz are headed to Fayetteville's Crown Complex Arena from March 25 to March 27.

    "This is a thrill-show featuring highly trained professionals, so first and foremost, we want to tell people: do not try this at home," said Ariel Valeires, on-site manager for Monster Truckz Extreme.

    The show offers a variety of "gravity-defying" acts to shock and amaze, emphasizing a "high-octane" experience.

    "Most people have heard of monster trucks, but we have so much more than that. We have a human cannonball. Our show is very fast, high speed, high energy and high risk," Valeires said.

    This event aims to bring spectacle and awe to its audience, focusing on fun that's appropriate for all ages.

    "We want to offer our audience a good time with their family, the whole family, which is entertainment that's hard to come by nowadays. We want to entertain people aged 0-110," Valeires said.

    The show will be packed with opportunities for kids to learn, engage and play with the gigantic machines right there on site.
    The Monster Truckz Pit Party is a free pre-show at the Monster Truckz event where kids can take pictures and snag the drivers' autographs. Additionally, attendees can learn about the physics and mechanics behind the incredible vehicles before seeing them in action.

    Visitors are encouraged to arrive early, as "The Pit" takes place two hours before the show. During this time, young attendees can visit the "Kids Zone," an area complete with rides on a real monster truck, a gigantic slide, face-painting and a bounce house.

    The show runs from February to December each year and performs in a different city each week with no weeks off. It's an incredible commitment for the drivers, performers and support staff.
    But for Valeires, the long weeks on the road are worth it.

    "For me, the best part of the show is to see the same look of excitement on thousands of faces all at the same time," Valeires said. "Most people have only ever seen monster trucks on TV, so they're not prepared for just how loud it is. Seeing all those faces when the engines start is hard to describe. You have to see it to believe it."

    The event will be held outdoors, and Valeires has some advice for attendees.

    "Honestly, this is an outdoor performance where we perform rain or shine. So check the weather before you come and dress accordingly. If it might rain—bring an umbrella. Be prepared for a very loud show. You're about to experience something you've never seen before."

    Showtimes are Friday, March 25, at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 26, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 27, at 2 p.m.

    The Crown Complex Arena is located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. For more information and tickets, visit: www.monstertruckz.com.

  • pittWhat's in a name? Would a Viking by any other name smell as sweet? This is the musical question America is asking itself right now. Well lucky you, my two gentle readers, today's assault on world literature will answer that question as we look at my favorite Viking, the inimitable Ivar the Boneless. What? You say you have never heard of Ivar the Boneless? For shame. Allow me to correct that gap in your knowledge of Norsemen.

    Ivar was a real person. His full name was Ivar Ragnarsson, but his buddies called him Ivar the Boneless. He strode the Earth in the middle of the 9th Century, raising heck wherever he went. His daddy was King Ragnar Lodbrok. Like many Kings, Ragnar had issues. On Ragnar's wedding night, his bride Aslaug told him that their son would be born boneless unless he waited three nights to consummate their marriage. Ragnar, being hot to trot, chose not to wait.

    Living up to Asluag's prophecy, legend says Ivar was born without bones. Scientists guess that Ivar might have had osteogenesis imperfecta, a terrible condition of brittle bones that break frequently. Some Norse experts think that Ivar's nickname was a Viking joke. They propose that Ivar was actually a giant. His buddies called him Boneless like calling a 300-pound man "Tiny." The actual truth is lost in the fog of time. In any event, history has called him Ivar the Boneless forevermore.

    Ivar's daddy, King Ragnar, came to a bad end. After losing a battle to King Aella of North Umbria, Ragnar got tossed into a pit of poisonous snakes, dying a venomous death. His death did not sit well with Ivar and his brothers, who then invaded Britain to kick some Northumbrian backside in 865 A.D.

    As the story goes, Ivar the Boneless was carried into battles on a shield smiting his enemies with his sword or piercing them with arrows from his longbow. After winning a battle, Viking warlords enjoyed being carried around on the shields of the defeated enemy just to rub it in. The same phenomenon occurred when Tar Heel fans went to Franklin Street to celebrate the recent defeat of Dook at Coach K's last home game and beatification. That loss caused Coach K to emulate Lesley Gore's great song, "It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to." But I digress, back to Ivar.

    Ivar was a wild man in battle. He got to be known as a Berserker. Berserkers were Viking warriors who went absolutely bananas when the blood lust was lusting. Historians say the term came from the Vikings' habit of wearing a bearskin into battle. "Ber" means bear, and "Serker" means coat in Viking talk. Watch out; you just learned something new that was old. After Ivar whipped King Aella in battle, he subjected him to a gooey and painful death called the "blood eagle." As this is a family newspaper, I shall spare you the gruesome details of the "blood eagle," but you can look it up on Mr. Google if you are curious. Ivar apparently died about 873 A.D. of a "sudden and horrible disease," according to Irish records. An English researcher claims that the bones of a nine-foot-tall Viking found in Ireland might be the remains of Ivar. If Ivar were nine feet tall, that could explain his silly nickname. At this point, we say goodbye to Ivar but continue to consider some colorful Viking names.

    The Vikings' twisted sense of humor shows up in many of their names. When they weren't robbing monasteries or despoiling virgins, Vikings spent a lot of time like the former guy making up nicknames. Shakespeare may have stolen his lines from Ivar's berserking band of brothers when he had Henry V say: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers/ For he today that sheds his blood with me/ Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile."

    Ponder the names of Ivar's buddies: Eric Bloodaxe, Gunnstein Berserk-Killer, Olaf the Witch Breaker, Harald Wartooth, Thoriir the Troll Buster, Sigurd Snake in the Eye, Sweyn Forkbeard, Asbjorn Muscle of Orastead, Hilf the Castrator of Horses, Sigurd the Stout, Ljot the Unwashed, Tryggvi the Pretender and last but not least Eystein Foul-Fart. Who would want to meet any of this vile group in hand-to-hand combat?

    Being duly sensitive to today's current woke culture, one can only imagine the humiliation and smell shaming visited upon poor old Eystein Foul-Fart. Eystein was probably suffering from some gastrointestinal disorder that caused him to become socially isolated and sustain great mental anguish. The sorrow and the pity. I can only liken his suffering to that of a worker named Leon. I was once in a restaurant restroom and noticed a defacing of the sign that says, "Employees must wash their hands after every visit."

    Some insensitive lout had singled out poor Leon on said sign. The lout had written in ink below the printed "Employees must wash their hands" "Especially Leon."

    Eystein and Leon were brothers who suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The horror. The horror. Can't we all just get along?

  • DSC 0113Fayetteville Technical Community College Foundation is hosting the second annual Trojan Fit 5K Color Run/Walk on Saturday, April 30.

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

    The mission of FTCC Foundation is to foster and promote the growth, progress, and general welfare of FTCC, provide supplementary financial support to the College and its students, and advance and enrich the services provided for students, the community, alumni, faculty, and staff. FTCC Foundation manages more than 200 scholarship endowments and other funds.

    The FTCC Trojan Fit 5K Color Run/Walk will be a fun event for serious runners and casual walkers. Run or walk across FTCC’s beautiful campus and explore the Camellia Trails, fountains and the Rose Garden. The optional rainbow color powder adds extra fun and happiness. There will be two routes available – a 5K run and a fun walk, appropriate for families with strollers. Proceeds from the Trojan Fit Color Run benefit the Health and Fitness Scholarship and other scholarships at FTCC.

    “Now, more than ever, health and fitness are a priority for many people. The health and fitness industry is growing fast with an increased demand for trainers and industry workers,” said Joseph Davis, health and fitness instructor at FTCC and Trojan Fit committee member. “Our goal with the Health and Fitness Scholarship is to ease the financial burden of our students and help them to achieve their academic and career goals.”

    Registration is limited to the first 400 participants. T-shirt and race bib pickup will take place on the Thursday and Friday before the event. Check-in on race day will begin at 8 a.m. The warm-up begins at 8:45 a.m., and the run starts at 9 a.m. After the run, participants are invited to enjoy music and food and check out health and fitness vendors.

    Many volunteers are needed to manage the Color Run to staff the water and color stations and provide route guidance. This will be a safe and fun volunteer opportunity for individuals and groups.

    “We are so excited to be able to host another Trojan Fit Color Run here at the FTCC campus. This event brings people together in the community and offers a great volunteer experience as well,” said Vinessa Jones, health and fitness instructor at FTCC and volunteer coordinator for the event. “Volunteer hours are a great way to be involved in the community. Students get to add experience to their college and work applications.

    Whether you want to be a participant, a volunteer or simply come out to encourage those running, we hope to see you there.”

    Individual registration is $35 per person. For more information and to register to run or volunteer, visit https://www.faytechcc.edu/trojan5k or call 910-678-8441.

  • EE smithLegacy: a word that best describes Doctor Ezekiel Ezra Smith. A free man born in 1853, E.E. Smith was an educator, a soldier, a pastor and a diplomat. The Fayetteville History Museum will celebrate this legacy with an open house at Smith's Fayetteville home, March 25, from noon to 3 p.m.

    The house, built in 1902, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. It is on Blount and Chase Streets in downtown Fayetteville, an area that was once a prominent African American neighborhood.

    "A lot of people are surprised when they see the house and step foot in here. This was a man of wealth. That's not a story that is told that there were upper-middle-class, affluent African Americans. That is a Fayetteville story," said Heidi Bleazey, historic properties manager, Fayetteville History Museum.

    Smith was not from a wealthy family originally. He was born on a farm in Duplin County, where his father worked. While his mother's family had been free for a couple of generations, his father was the first of his family to be emancipated. As a young black child, Smith was not allowed an education in the formal sense. After the Civil War, however, he was able to attend a school in Wilmington, where he also began his teaching career at the age of 17. Smith applied to Shaw University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1878. He would later return to Shaw University and receive a doctorate.

    Smith became the principal of a school in Goldsboro, where he was approached with an opportunity to become the head of the Fayetteville State Normal School, now Fayetteville State University. Smith worked hard to continue to improve the school and is credited as being instrumental in obtaining the land FSU currently sits on.

    In addition to his legacy within FSU, Smith's name is also used for a local high school. E. E. Smith High School produces many graduates who then continue to FSU, becoming educators themselves.

    "About 90% of the high school graduates from E.E. Smith from the 50s and 60s went directly to FSU, and the majority of them are teachers," said Melinda Dancy, museum assistant.
    Dancy's two daughters graduated from E.E. Smith following their father's footsteps. She said she brought them to the house to experience the man their school was named after.

    "E.E. Smith alumni go really strong; they have such a sense of school pride. So it's been cool to have alumni come here and have even more meaning associated with their school pride. I think that would make E.E. Smith proud, to see how prideful his graduates are," said Catherine Linton, museum specialist.

    The parlor of the E.E. Smith House will be decorated with period-appropriate furniture pieces, books and photos. Further into the house, an exhibit gallery space has been set up with panels talking about Smith's extraordinary life.

    Smith served in the North Carolina National Guard through the Spanish American War. He was an ordained Baptist Minister and became president of the Baptist State Convention. In 1888, President Grover Cleveland appointed him as resident minister and general consul to the Republic of Liberia. Smith was also a businessman, heading insurance companies and real estate holdings and editor of multiple newspapers.

    The museum staff were permitted to peruse FSU's archives. They found the certificate from Cleveland appointing Smith as resident minister and general consul to the Republic of Liberia and his Third North Carolina Regiment appointment letter. Copies of both will be on display for visitors to see.

    "We are constantly learning about him, constantly seeing new aspects. We bought a celebratory edition of the Fayetteville Observer from 1967, and there was a little snippet about him saying that he developed a newspaper here in Fayetteville that was short-lived, and we were like, 'what didn't he do?'," said Bleazey.

    This will be the second open house for the E.E. Smith property. The first one, held in February, was seen as a great success, with many older community members coming in and sharing memories of the space.
    Linton mentioned how hard the community worked to rehabilitate the space, which had fallen into disrepair. She credited support from city staff, building maintenance, city custodians, grounds people and Cumberland County Parks and Recreation.

    "People have really shown interest in getting back into this house, seeing it brought back to life, and becoming that gathering space and community center," said Linton.

    Emma Freeman, marketing and social media manager for the museum, agreed.

    "It was really cool to talk to some people at our first open house who grew up in this neighborhood. What this house symbolized for them, this was a hub for them," said Freeman. "As kids, they would come and hang on the porch and talk and play. They knew what this house stood for and who E.E. Smith was, and they loved being here."

    The open house on March 25 is free and open to the public.

  • Clue Social Media Posts 9Jennifer Newman, Marc de la Concha and Jock Brocki sit around a plain table at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. They talk like they are involved in a rapid-fire improv. The jokes fly back and forth, and the three actors seem to build off one another's comments, moving through the quips as if they were planned. In just a couple of days, the trio will brave a dark and stormy night, a moving stage and a murder. They will come as Miss Scarlet,

    Wadsworth and Mr. Boddy, respectively. They are just three of the actors in the upcoming musical "Clue: On Stage."

    "As soon as I heard they were doing 'Clue,' I immediately started researching everything I possibly could on Miss Scarlett. I thought if I could get this, I would cry," Newman said.

    "We missed the crying part," Brocki quickly quipped. The three actors immediately laughed. The rapport they have with each other is palpable and engaging.

    The play is an adaptation of the 1985 movie "Clue," directed by Jonathan Lynn and starring Tim Curry.

    Newman said she loved the movie and, of course, the "confident, sexy" Miss Scarlet. While she idolized the confidence that Miss Scarlet had and went into the audition with the goal of landing the part, every actor has to take their roles in a "different direction."

    "I feel like you have to give at least some nods to the classics … I don't think anyone could be the exact character they saw in the movie. It's important to give an audience a new take on all these characters," Newman said.

    Newman and De la Concha are local actors, and Brocki is a self-proclaimed, semi-retired actor living in the Triangle area. De la Concha is also the Director of Education for Cape Fear Regional Theatre.
    Brocki jokes that De la Concha didn't even need to audition for Wadsworth.

    "I had to do a little bit of an audition," De la Concha said.

    Brocki laughed and gave a playful eye roll. Picking up on his humor, and having a naturally happy-go-lucky demeanor, De la Concha added, "I knew just a little bit before."

    De la Concha plays Wadsworth, the same role played by Curry in "Clue," the motion picture. When De la Concha speaks about Curry, he remarks on the iconic nature of his depiction of the character and a sort of mixture of both excitement and intimidation about playing this part.

    "I'm no Tim Curry. He's amazing, but you want to pay respect to something that is so iconic but bring a new take to it," he said.
    Something the three actors can agree on without hesitation, the true magic and finesse of the play, is the fast-paced conversation that takes place between the ten actors in the production and quick movements requiring precision.

    "You can't mess up the details. The characters go over everything with a fine-tooth comb so you can't mess it up," De la Concha said.

    "No pressure," Newman said while laughing.

    The stage and set for this production are multi-layered; Brocki helped with the construction. It will have many hidden doors and rooms, and, according to Brocki, the set itself will have a lot of movement — not just the actors.

    "For an audience, there's a lot of eye candy," Brocki said.

    The show's director, Mary Catherine Burke, wants the audience to feel like they are a part of the board game. The actors will be almost surrounded on three sides by their audience at many points.

    "Things are sliding and moving … the audience will feel like they are in the game with us," De la Concha said.

    With all the movement, the actors admit that because the show is a murder mystery, they have to make sure the movements are precise. The audience is supposed to want to figure out the murder alongside the characters, so the recreation of scenes and details matters. The finer details, Newman said, are the hardest part.

    "It's hard to make sure you are where you need to be when you need to be there," she paused before continuing, "in heels."

    "I don't have heels," Brocki laughed.

    "I guess I could if it was part of the costume," De la Concha said.

    The three performers stop for a second, look at one another then share another giggle.
    The music for the show will be original to this production. There will be a lot of sound cues for the actors, and the music, the actors promise, will be a large part of the show and its mounting suspense. The theater hired Los Angeles producer David Abbinant to create the music and sound cues for the play.

    "There's an entire scene with no lines. It's basically like a dance number in a play," Newman said.

    "Clue: On Stage" will be made up of 11 actors. It will be about 90 minutes in length and offer no intermission. Within five minutes of the start of the show, the audience will be able to see all the actors on stage together.

    The key to the performance was keeping it going at a fast pace, just like the original movie.

    "The cast is together most of the evening. They are so suspicious of one another they want to stay together, so they don't get murdered," De la Concha said.

    De la Concha said this show will not be a run of the mill one direction show. The actors will be surrounded on three sides by the audience — an intentional involvement that differs from regular plays at the theatre.

    "We say you are in the game. You are in it with us," he said.

    The actors share a few laughs about the start of rehearsal, including De la Concha telling his fellow cast members that they would all have to play his Golden Girls' version of the Clue board game at some point.
    During the first rehearsal, they recalled, Burke asked each of them to talk about their favorite games growing up. Brocki said marbles. De la Concha said Nintendo. Newman loved Monopoly. She's competitive, she said.

    "I like Monopoly, Risk … anything that requires complete domination," Newman laughed.

    "Okay, Miss Scarlett," De la Concha chuckled.

    "That's why she was cast," Brocki added.

    The quick jokes and back-forth of their conversation is just a little peek into the chemistry that the crowd can expect on the stage during "Clue: On Stage." This sort of chemistry and connection is what De la Concha said was the easiest part of putting this particular play together. The play requires its actors to have fun and be involved in a lot of conversation and physical comedy.

    "We did this play merely because it's fun. It's engaging. It takes your mind off of what happened that day. All you can think about is who did it," said Ashley Owen, Marketing Director for Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

    "Clue: On Stage" will run from March 24 through April 10. Tickets are $15 to $25. Military and educator discounts are available during special Military Appreciation and Educator Appreciation nights.
    The show is rated PG for parental guidance. It contains mild and comedic themes of violence and adult humor.

  • vietnamWith 2.7 million Americans having served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1975, the Vietnam War impacted and defined over a decade of American History. March 29, Vietnam Veterans Day was established by former President Barrack Obama in 2012 and made official in 2017 with The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 signed into law by former President Donald J. Trump.

    With 58,318 killed, 61% being under 21, and over 75,000 severely injured, the war impacted the entire country. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 1584 Americans remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, 1062 individual's remains have been repatriated since the beginning of 1973.

    Memorializing these losses in Washington, D.C., the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 1982, reflects the names of those killed during the conflict.

    The Moving Wall has toured the U.S for 30 years, a half-size replica of the Memorial in Washinton, D.C. The Moving Wall was inspired during Vietnam veteran John Devitt's attendance at the commemoration of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A small group of Vietnam veterans built The Moving Wall to "share that experience with those who did not have the opportunity to go to Washington," according to movingwall.org.

    The Moving Wall is making its third visit to Fayetteville as part of the Airborne and Special Operations four-day community-wide remembrance event "Vietnam War: Reflections of Courage." The Moving Wall will be on display on the ASOM parade field and will be accessible to visitors 24 hours a day during the event.

    There will be a directory available for those who may want to make a rubbing of a loved one's name.

    The four-day event will mark the 49th anniversary of the end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam on March 29.

    And while the Moving Wall will be the centerpiece of the event, the event will offer so much more to attendees; organizers are anticipating a large turnout in the thousands.

    "Many veterans' groups and military organizations will be drawn to The Moving Wall as it represents honor, respect, healing and closure for so many men and women who served during the Vietnam War and their families. With Cumberland County and North Carolina having one of the highest populations of Vietnam Veterans in the U.S., this exhibit in Fayetteville will give many people in our community and beyond an opportunity to honor and respect those who made the ultimate sacrifice through remembrance and education," said Jim Bartlinski, museum director, ASOM.

    An opening Remembrance Ceremony begins at 4 p.m. on March 25 at the Yarborough Bank Theater and will be followed by a pinning ceremony. Speaking at the ceremony are two local Vietnam Veterans with community ties. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie Spencer, an ASOM volunteer and member of their Military Advisory Committee, will be speaking. During the war, Spencer served with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) (Airborne) and with the Military Advisory Command.

    Ron Matthews will also speak at the event. Matthews is a local who served in the Republic of Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 with the 1st Infantry Division and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

    Their stories are unique, and their connection to the local community is invaluable. Speaking about Mathews, ASOM Foundation Executive Director, Renee Lane, explained his story is unique, and as a community leader, it is important for people to hear his story.

    "He has a really good story about his service there [the Republic of Vietnam]," said Lane. "He's a community leader here, and everybody knows him, and I think it would be important for people to hear his story."

    Following the speakers and ceremony, visiting Vietnam veterans can be pinned. The pins are only for living veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, but there is a unique pin for those who served from November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975. The Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin holds deep significance for those who wear it. Many Vietnam veterans said they are glad they served, 91%, and many say they would serve again, 74%. There is a great deal of pride regarding their service among Vietnam

    "I have a number of medals pinned on in my day … even though it might just be a lapel pin to a lot of people, this is like a medal to the Vietnam veterans," said retired Col. Michael Brazelton, U.S. Air Force, in a pamphlet from the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. Brazelton is a former Vietnam War POW and was awarded the Silver Star four times.

    The pinning program is offered by ASOM all year. Still, they expect to have an opportunity to pin many additional veterans who will be visiting during "Vietnam War: Reflections of Courage."
    On March 26, retired Lt. Col Jack Kelley will speak about his book "Bonded in Battle." Kelley served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

    His book details the true account of Sgt. Charles Morris, who received the Medal of Honor for his leadership and bravery in Vietnam in June of 1966. Following the book discussion, ASOM will be hosting a screening of the documentary "My Father's Brothers" by Kelley's son, Shawn Kelley.

    The following day, March 27, the documentary "The Wall That Heals" will be shown. The documentary focuses on the stories of North Carolinians who served in Vietnam.The documentary is slated to air on FOX 50, WRAL-TV and PBS-North Carolina.

    Event organizers expect a "full house for these events and highly recommend attendees register for the events. To register for the Remembrance Ceremony visit, https://bit.ly/remceremony, for the March 26 event visit, https://bit.ly/326vietnam and for the March 27 event visit, https://bit.ly/327vietnam.
    In addition to the Moving Wall and guest speakers, ASOM encourages visitors to take some time and walk through the museum's gallery.

    "I would encourage people to go into our gallery because we have the exhibit on the 173rd with the Huey. That highlights Lawrence Joel, the medic, and Chaplain Watters. And of course, the POW Nick Rowe exhibit that we have, and of course the Red Hats [Military Assistance Command Vietnam] exhibit," Bartlinski said.

    In addition, there will be unique Vietnam-era artwork and artifacts on display throughout the museum lobby.

    "This is a great way to educate the public on Vietnam. And it's not just the Wall, but inside the museum in the lobby here, we have a lot of artifacts that have never been on display before from the Vietnam era. And I think that it's important for people to see the artifacts and understand the meaning behind them. And certainly, come away more educated about what happened than when they walked in the door," said Lane.

    The artifacts are a mixture of Airborne, Special Forces and even some Montagnard artifacts.

  • pub penThere are two new attractions at the zoo where we display all the critters and culprits in North Carolina state and local politics. The two latest arrivals to our political zoo are the Fayetteville Observer (FO)/Opinion Editor Myron Pitts and the Public Policy Polling (PPP). The Fayetteville Observer recently asked the few readers they have left what their thoughts were on Gov. Roy Cooper’s surprise endorsement of former Democratic City Councilmember Val Applewhite over current District 19 Sen. Kirk deViere. The Public Policy Polling (PPP) joins the FO/Pitts for hastily rushing out a survey showing Applewhite with a substantial double-digit lead over deViere in the Senate District 19 Democratic Party primary. It’s all happening at the zoo!

    The FO has seldom asked a question to which they didn’t already have the answer; their response is usually already set and ready to go to press. Some of their news coverage and editorial writings are so outlandish that Gannett (owner of FO) has begun putting disclaimers on their editorials:

    OPINION. This piece expresses the views of its author(s), separate from those of this publication.

    What? How can this be when the newspaper publication itself employs the writer? It may be that declining FO revenue, loss of subscriptions and reader pushback could have warranted and precipitated Gannett’s action. CYA.

    Next, to earn their spot at the zoo, the PPP is a Democratic organization operating out of Raleigh. PPP has used questions, in this writer's opinion, designed to sway and influence public opinion. The recent poll produced by PPP for Applewhite's campaign deserves an “F” and has been deemed “very much worthless” by a local political commentator.
    Cooper and his celebrated-fifteen-minutes-of-fame endorsement of Applewhite have unnerved and embarrassed his party. Even prominent members of the Democratic Party are asking, “… What was he thinking?”

    Cooper has exposed just how nasty, retaliatory, impulsive and mindless the Democratic Party is when someone doesn’t tow the Democratic line.

    On May 17, the Democratic primary will be the ultimate answer to whether Cooper impacted the election outcome beyond demeaning the integrity of North Carolina politics in general. Even though District 19 is a three-way race between Applewhite, deViere, and retired Judge Ed Donaldson, all eyes will be on Applewhite and deViere. No one can predict the outcome at this point. However, we know this: As a former Councilmember, Applewhite’s vexed and argumentative personality did little for the City of Fayetteville citizens and even less for her community and constituents. And, she indeed did nothing to bring $413 million to Fayetteville and Cumberland County to enhance our quality of life.

    We urge our readers to become “election intelligent.” Know the candidates and what they stand for, and vote in every election.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

    OPINION. This piece expresses the views of its author, not separate from those of the publisher.

  • Cumberland County Courthouse Facing a crucial decision about benefits for employees, Cumberland County is going to ask its workers for their perspective.

    Cumberland County will survey its employees in the coming weeks to see whether they prefer higher premiums with lower deductibles, or vice versa, as part of the upcoming fiscal year’s health insurance plan.

    The Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved taking $2 million from the county’s general fund to keep premiums and deductibles the same as last year as a way to keep high and rising health care costs in check for employees.

    Before finalizing those rates, though, commissioners want to see what workers prefer.

    Commissioner Jimmy Keefe, who objected to not lowering deductibles at a previous meeting, introduced the idea of a survey Monday.

    “I’m not asking for any additional money, but possibly paying a higher premium to get a lower deductible,” he said.

    Oftentimes, Keefe said, employees are unable to pay the high deductibles, resulting in letters and calls from collection agencies.

    “It’s just a revolving door of pain and suffering,” he said.

    The current deductible for individuals, under the county’s plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield, is $2,000. For employees and their families, it’s $6,000.

    The monthly premium for a standard wellness plan is $21 for individuals and $296 for families.

    How premiums impact deductibles
    Cumberland Finance Director Vicki Evans said key differences exist between premiums and deductibles that prevent an exact offset in increases and decreases to either.

    “The premiums give the county upfront money because that’s being deducted from the employees’ pay every pay period, but the deductible is on the back end,” she said.

    Most employees are far from likely to pay the full deductible, as that requires receiving that much health care in a given year.

    “Many of our employees, they never meet (the deductible),” Evans said. “They go to primary care visits only during the year. Primary care visits are only subject to copays. There’s no real impact on the people who may be paying more for a premium without additional benefit.”

    To determine the effect of a higher premium on the deductible, Evans said, the county’s insurance broker will need to run figures that account for a collective claims history among employees.

    According to a presentation to the county during its previous meeting, annual paid claims rose to over $22 million, an increase of 21.5%.

    Evans said she expects to have the survey results ready to present to the commissioners by their second meeting next month on April 18.

    Rising health care costs
    Before the board’s agreement, Cumberland was projected to have a $4.38 million deficit in health care costs for the upcoming year, according to the county.

    Beyond the $2 million from the general fund, the board agreed to raise employer contributions as part of next year’s budget to make up the rest of the costs.

    Last year, before the increase in paid claims, the board had planned to decrease deductibles by $1,000, but rising costs rendered that financially impossible.

    “It’s just not good news,” Chairman Glenn Adams said at a previous meeting upon hearing the news.

    “A benefit isn’t a benefit if you can’t afford to pay it.”

    To keep the cost of that benefit the same for now, the board decided to invest the $2 million.

    But those costs could keep increasing.

    “The county is continuing to monitor health insurance cost trends on a monthly basis,” an emailed statement from the county said.

    “Trends are showing health insurance costs are rising. However, each year the broker will evaluate and determine feasibility of various deductible amounts.”

    County keeps health reimbursement plan
    In an attempt to keep health costs low for workers, the board also decided to keep in place the health reimbursement account for employees.

    The HRA, which was established last year, allows employees, once they go over the $1,000 deductible mark, to apply for reimbursement of health costs up to $1,000.

    The broker, however, didn’t recommend renewal, as it costs the county $7,000 per month in administration costs.

    “This isn’t the traditional way to handle deductibles but is a way the board could help members in managing health insurance costs,” county officials said.

     Photo Credit: The Cumberland County Courthouse in Fayetteville houses meetings of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Carolina Public Press

  • Some North Carolina counties taking state-allocated rental aid may have to use local funds to disburse it, as fees used to fund that process are lower than what was allowed with previous allocations due to a different set of rules.

    The state’s relief comes from the $46 billion Congress approved through federal stimulus. The assistance was created to curb evictions due to widespread income loss at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This was split into two rounds of relief: one from the December 2020 stimulus and the other from the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021.

    Portions of that went to the state government and North Carolina’s 12 most populous counties — Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Johnston, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Union and Wake.

    To allow for state and local governments to pay for the disbursement of this aid, the U.S. Treasury allowed for 10% of the funds in the first round of relief to be used for administration.

    For the second round of assistance, that increased to 15%.

    The state government’s over $1 billion in rent relief, however, was limited to a lower percentage.

    In Senate Bill 172 from last year, the state legislature divided portions of its allocation to those same 12 counties, but it limited administration fees to just 5%.

    For some counties, that lower rate may not cover disbursement costs. If the county decides to take the money, any additional expenses may have to be paid for with local dollars.

    Cumberland County, for instance, is set to receive more than $31 million in rent aid from the state, but the administration fee won’t be enough to cover the salaries of its rent relief staff, according to county officials.

    Of the 25 positions that Cumberland has listed for applications, three will be funded by the Department of Social Services budget, each at an annual salary of nearly $32,000.

    But additional dollars from the county may be needed. County officials said in an email that it hasn’t determined whether enough DSS money is available to cover the salaries.

    Cumberland’s rental assistance program was previously administered by Innovative Emergency Management, but the private company said the lower fee was not enough to cover its costs going forward, Carolina Public Press previously reported.

    DSS is set to take over the program as the county Board of Commissioners, by unanimous vote, unofficially approved having Social Services handle administration at a previous meeting.

    At Monday’s meeting, the board will vote on whether to finalize the move.

    ‘An expensive program to run’
    Buncombe was one of the counties that took rental aid from the state.

    To disburse the money, county dollars are being used due to the limitations of the 5% administrative fee, said Phillip Hardin, Buncombe County’s economic services director.

    “At the end of the day, it’s an expensive program to run,” he said. “It’s a very labor-intensive program with a lot of work involved.”

    That work involves processing applications to ensure the tenants meet aid requirements. Staff members must work with applicants to verify that they earn 80% or less of the area median income and that they lost income due to the pandemic.

    “We’ve used county dollars for certain to offset,” Hardin said.

    “We’re using staff who work in programs that have revenue attached to them, such as food assistance and Medicaid.”

    That’s not necessarily universal across the state. Hardin said it depends on the county.

    “Counties pay different amounts,” Hardin said. “We pay fairly well in Buncombe, versus maybe another county that doesn’t pay and have benefits like we do.”

    According to the job listings for Cumberland, DSS will offer benefits to those who take the positions.

    Cumberland DSS Director Heather Skeens said in an email that the salaries are equivalent to current DSS positions.

    Despite the decrease in administration funding from the state, Hardin said that the efficiency and the speed of the program in Buncombe have not been affected.

    The fee limitation will not impact the performance of Cumberland’s program either, Skeens said.

    Shift to housing stability services
    While the state allocations are limited to a 5% administrative fee, an additional 5% in housing stability services is allowed. That funding can include, among other things, paying staff to speak with and obtain documentation from landlords. The money can be used on social workers who attend court to assist tenants with an eviction case.

    Mecklenburg County contracted DreamKey Partners to administer the county’s rental aid. Erin Barbee, the company’s chief strategy officer, said the fee limitations forced the firm to reduce staff and lean more into its application software.

    “When we were told that it was changing from 10% to 5%, we needed to shift pretty quickly,” she said. “We were already in conversation about how we could use technology to our advantage and reduce people power, because our program was driven by people power, and it was efficient, but it needed to have more efficiencies.”

    The fee changes forced existing staff away from administrative duties, Barbee said.

    “We put more people into the housing stability services, which gave us the ability to serve those on the ground in the courthouses,” she said. “It was a shift, but I would say it was a good one. We weren’t thinking in that manner before.

    “It’s hard to be upset about the change when it was a positive outcome for us.”

    While the limitations of the state legislation led DreamKey to invest in housing stability services, they were allowed beforehand at a higher rate.

    Both rounds of the direct federal allocation allowed 10% in housing stability. That’s on top of the respective 10% and 15% in administrative fees in the first two runs of relief.

    With that flexibility, Cumberland’s previous administrator, Innovative Emergency Management, used the maximum 25% of the aid at one point for administration and housing stability, Carolina Public Press previously reported.

    In Buncombe County, Hardin said he preferred the previous rate.

    “I would hope that they would have kept it at what Treasury kept it at,” he said.

    Cumberland will use the housing stability funds to pay case managers to work on the ground with landlords and renters, obtaining documentation when necessary from each, while also assisting tenants in court in preventing evictions, when appropriate, Skeens said.

  • sheriff earl buttlerFormer Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler passed away on Sunday, March 20, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office.

    The 84-year-old man passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, according to the press release.

    Butler served as Sheriff of Cumberland County for 22 years, from 1994 to 2016. Prior to being elected as sheriff, Butler worked as a district supervisor with the North Carolina Department of Probation and Parole. He was one of the longest-serving Sheriffs in North Carolina.

    Prior to working in law enforcement, Butler was a football player who went on to play for UNC and eventually the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    In 2019, the Sheriff’s Training Center was renamed in honor of Earl R. Butler. Wright was the one to submit that nomination.

    “Building dedications should be done while someone is alive so they can appreciate it, like we appreciate them," Wright said at the time.

    In 2021, the name of Princeton Street in the Massey Hill community was changed to Moose Butler Lane in honor of Butler. Butler grew up in the Massey Hill neighborhood.

    A Public Viewing will be held on Wednesday, March 23 at Rogers and Breece Funeral Home, 500 Ramsey Street Fayetteville, from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. A Celebration of Sheriff Earl R. Butler's Life Services will be on Thursday, March 24, at 2 p.m. at Massey Hill Baptist Church. There is limited seating. The interment will follow with a private graveside service.

    The family requests that memorials be made to Falcon Children's Home 7569 N. West Street Falcon, NC 28342 and the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center 123 W. Franklin Street, Suite 510, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.


    County Commissioner Chairman Glenn Adams has ordered all flags at County facilities to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Moose. The flags will remain at half-staff until Butler's funeral.

    "On behalf of Cumberland County, I send our deepest condolences to the Butler family. We have lost a gentle giant of a man. First and foremost, Sheriff Butler cared about people. He was a fair and just man who thought about the whole county and how to make it the best place to live for everyone. We will miss him," Adams said in a press release.

    Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin also gave his condolences to the Butler family in a statement.

    "Today, many hearts of our community are saddened by the passing of Former Sheriff Earl Moose Butler. Sheriff Butler contributed tremendously to the safety and security of our community with his decades of public service. We are rarely given an opportunity to work with a true servant like Moose Butler. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sheriff Butler’s family and loved ones."

    Governor Roy Cooper tweeted that Butler was a strong friend and leader.

    "Sheriff Moose Butler was a true public servant who worked diligently to protect the health & safety of the people of Cumberland County. I’m grateful for our decades of friendship, his strong leadership across our state and the real difference he made in the lives of so many," Cooper said.

    Cumberland County Schools will comply with the order to fly flags at half staff in concert with other Cumberland County facilities until Butler's Celebration of Life on Thursday.

    "We were saddened to learn that former Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler passed away on Sunday, March 20, 2022. A distinguished alumnus of Massey Hill High School and tremendous public servant, Sheriff Butler was instrumental in expanding the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in Cumberland County Schools. We extend our heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the Butler family during this challenging time," Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. said.

    "The passing of former Cumberland County Sheriff Early Ray "Moose" Butler is a terrible loss to our community. Sheriff Butler was a legend in Cumberland County; as kind as he was strong, as fair as he was tough. During his 22-year tenure as Cumberland County's chief law enforcement officer, Sheriff Butler oversaw many of the positive changes in effect today. In many ways, he set the standard for modern policing in this state and left a legacy that will live long after him. Dion and I mourn with the family and friends of Sheriff Butler as well as the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department during this difficult time," Sen. Ben Clark's statement read.

  • SmithThe Cumberland County Sheriff's Office Special Victims' Unit has arrested a former Cape Fear High School teacher on child-sex charges.

    31-year-old William Landon Smith of Wade County was arrested Friday, March 18 on 29 Warrants with a total of 56 charges. Smith was arrested for 27 counts of 1st-Degree Sex Exploitation of a Minor, 28 Counts of Indecent Liberties with a Student, and one count of Secretly Using or Installing a Photographic Imaging Device to Arouse or Gratify Sexual Desire.

    The Sheriff's Office states that Smith was communicating with victims through social media apps such as Snapchat. One of the known accounts he was using was "Landonology90" user qunyt57f5Rf with Snapchat code 704087.

    Sheriff Ennis Wright requests that all parents, guardians, and custodians monitor their children's social media accounts and educate them about internet safety.

    “It is essential to know who is communicating with your children. Predators are not everywhere, but they may be anywhere," Wright said.

    Smith is currently at the Cumberland County Detention Center on a $425,000.00 secure bond. His first appearance is set for 2:30 p.m. on Monday, March 21 at the Cumberland County Detention Center.

    Detectives have not identified all the victims that had contact with Smith. Anyone with information is requested to contact Detective S. Odenwelder at 910-677-5477 or CrimeStoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers' information may also be submitted electronically by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org.

  • FPD Homicide Fayetteville Police are looking into a shooting investigation Saturday evening that has left three men dead and three people with injuries.

    Officers arrived at the parking lot of the Baymont Ramada off Own Drive around 8:51 p.m. following reports of a shooting.

    42-year-old William Franklin Davis Sr. of Fayetteville was pronounced dead at the scene. Keith Allan Dickey, 37, of Lumber Bridge, and Donald Dillenbeck, 49, of Vestal, New York, died later at the hospital, according to FPD.

    The three other people who were shot are being treated at a local hospital.

    Detectives have determined the shooting. Police have determined the shooting occurred during a confrontation between the Hells Angels, Red Devils, Infamous Ryders and La Familia motorcycle gang organizations.

    Detectives are reviewing hundreds of hours of private security camera footage, license plate reader data, and city-owned cameras. Witnesses or anyone with specific information is asked to contact Detective R. Vernon at (910) 729-2525 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers information can also be submitted electronically, by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org

  • 05 FOrt Bragg sign The Naming Commission has narrowed down the list of new names for nine military installations, including Fort Bragg.

    The renaming of Fort Bragg comes after the U.S. Congress voted to mandate that Fort Bragg and eight other military installations named after Confederate figures or sympathizers be renamed. Fort Bragg was named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg.

    Fort Bragg's leadership has held several town halls on and off-post to receive input from servicemembers and local citizens about the renaming process.

    The Naming Commission said it received more than 34,000 submissions for new names and narrowed it down to 87 names. Some of those names do have connections to Fort Bragg and were some of the suggestions received by Fort Bragg's leadership. The commission does state that while a final selection for each post is still pending, the scope of consideration is now focused on these names:

    • Sgt. 1st Class William Bryant, a 5th Special Forces Group soldier who received a Medal of Honor after being killed in Vietnam in 1969.
      Master Sergeant Raul Perez "Roy" Benavidez, a 5th Special Forces Group soldier who received the Medal of Honor for a series of brave actions during the Vietnam War in 1968.
    • Lt. General James Gavin was the third Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. He was nicknamed "The Jumping General" because he practiced taking part in combat jumps with the paratroopers under his command.
    • Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. First Class Randy Shughart was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993. Gordon and Shughart were stationed at Fort Bragg before being deployed to Somalia. Gordon Elementary School in Linden Oaks, Harnett County, was named in Gordon's honor.
    • Capt. Kimberly Hampton was the first female military pilot in United States history to be shot down and killed as a result of hostile fire. She was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg before becoming the commander of Delta Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment prior to the unit's deployment to Iraq in 2003. Hampton was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Air Medal, and Purple Heart.
    • Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence Joel of the 1st Battalion 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade was awarded the Silver Star and Medal of Honor for his actions in South Vietnam aiding his fellow Soldiers during an ambush by a Viet Kong battalion. Fort Bragg's Lawrence Joel Health and Dental Clinic is named after him.
    • Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore and his wife Julia Moore helped prompt the U.S. Army to set up survivor support networks and casualty notification teams consisting of uniformed officers, which are still in use. The two were married at Fort Bragg while Hal Moore was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. Throughout his career, he became a jumpmaster with over 300 jumps. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism at the Battle Ia Drang during the Vietnam War.
    • Gen. Roscoe Robinson, Jr. was the first African-American commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and the first African-American officer to reach the rank of four-star general. Robinson served in the Korean War and received a Bronze Star for his actions in his early career.
    • Gen. Matthew Ridgway fought with distinction during World War II while directly helping create the foundation of the first airborne corps.
    • Cpl. Rodolfo Perez "Rudy" Hernandez received the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above the call of duty for his actions during the Korean War.
    • Gen. Omar N. Bradley oversaw the U.S. military policymaking in the Korean War. The Bradley Fighting vehicles were named after Gen. Bradley and known as a key armored vehicle for the U.S. military.

    One name missing that was popular with Fayetteville, and Fort Bragg locals were Brig. Gen. Edward S. Bragg, the cousin of Braxton Bragg. In the Civil War, Edward Bragg served in the Union Army and served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Wisconsin. Later, he was United States Minister to Mexico during the presidency of Grover Cleveland and consul-general to the Republic of Cuba and British Hong Kong under President Theodore Roosevelt.

    The full list can be seen here.

    The commission has until Oct. 1 to submit a name-change proposal to the House Armed Services Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee in response to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

    "It's important that the names we recommend for these installations appropriately reflect the courage, values and sacrifices of our diverse military men and women," retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard said, the chair of The Naming Commission. "We also are considering the local and regional significance of names and their potential to inspire and motivate our service members."

  • The Office of the State Auditor has released its final report into allegations of the misuse of funds in Spring Lake.

    The state auditor found that Spring Lake’s former accounting technician used at least $430,112 of town funds for personal use, at least $36,400 in cash was found to be missing from daily deposits, town employees spent $102,877 of town funds on questionable credit card purchases, the town overpaid the former economic development director $9,900, town officials failed to safeguard town vehicles and the town board did not maintain closed session meeting minutes for some meetings held during 2019 and 2020.

    Findings from this investigation are being referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Bureau of Investigation to determine if there is sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges related to the misappropriation of public funds.

    The state auditor’s key recommendations include the recommendation that the board consider seeking legal action against the former accounting technician, the board should ensure adherence to procedures governing financial operations designed to prevent and detect missing cash in the daily cash collection process, the current finance director should ensure that the procedures to prevent and detect missing cash in the daily cash collection process are being followed, the finance director should ensure monthly bank reconciliations are completed timely and accurately, the revenue supervisor should reconcile the collections reports to the deposit slips to ensure all monies collected are deposited into the town’s bank account, the board should establish a comprehensive policy for credit card usage that includes requirements such as itemized receipts for purchases, a documented town purpose for purchases, validation that the purchases were included in the town’s budget, review of all credit card documentation (including receipts and the documented business purpose) before approval of payment and finally the town should seek reimbursement for any amount of the overpayment not yet repaid by the former economic development director.

    In a response from Spring Lake Mayor, Kia Anthony, to the state auditor, Anthony states that the Board of Alderman accepts the findings and recommendations contained in the report and will commit to working with the North Carolina Local Government Commission as well as the Office of State Auditor’s to address the underlying basis for each finding.

    “We have carefully reviewed the report and discussed the same with representatives of the NC Local Government Commission. From the board’s review of the report, we have concluded that a significant focus of the report involves (1) fraudulent conduct relating to the town’s former finance director/accounting technician who used her position to override the town’s systems of internal control for personal gain and (2) other internal control and compliance breakdowns,” Anthony’s letter stated.

    However, the state auditor said that Spring Lake has made several statements that “obscure an issue, mislead the reader and minimize the importance of the Office of State Auditor’s findings and recommendations.”

    The state auditor required Spring Lake to explain the corrective action it plans to take. The report states that while the town agreed with the findings in the report, the town's response did not include the required details. Without those details, the auditor states it will be difficult for the town and other stakeholders to monitor if corrective actions are being implemented and to ensure those responsible are held accountable.

    The Local Government Commission’s Director, State and Local Government Finance Division Sharon Edmuson wrote to the state auditor agreeing that the town’s response was not detailed enough.

    “It does not include target completion dates for corrective action, nor does it include enough specifics about necessary changes in processes, procedures and policies. The submitted response does not indicate which town staff position is specifically for each corrective action and refers to a town audit committee that currently has no members.” Edmundson said in her letter. “We do not believe the submitted response meets your requirements for a complete response.”
    The state auditor also states in her report that if the town had followed their recommendations from the 2016 Investigative Report about questionable purchases, the issues found in the current investigation may not have occurred.

    Following an emergency board meeting Thursday morning that was an entirely closed session due to personnel matters, Anthony held a press release regarding the findings.

    “The breadth and seriousness of the misconduct discovered is astonishing. This misconduct is particularly troubling because of the unique position of trust that finance and accounting professionals and senior personnel hold within local government,” Anthony said. “The findings in the report demand that those responsible be severely punished for their wrongdoing and that the board puts in place measures designed to prevent its recurrence. The board expects that everyone involved in misappropriating the town’s resources will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

    Anthony goes on to say she is disappointed and surprised by the response of the state auditor and Local Government Commission contained in the report.
    Anthony also points out that members have been appointed to serve on the Audit Committee earlier this week and former Wake County Manager to assist the board in identifying strong candidates for the roles of town manager and finance director.

    Spring Lake’s finances were seized by state authorities in Oct. 2021 after the town had a $1 million loan that had not been reported to state officials. The majority of the Board of Alderman serving at that time are no longer on the board.

  • Two men have been arrested for the murder of a 24-year-old last year.

    Bryan T. Love was shot and killed at the Zaxby's on 2166 Skibo Road on Feb. 20, 2021. According to police, Love was shot in the chest in the parking lot of the restaurant.

    On March 9, Fayetteville Police arrested 32-year-old Andrew Seidel and 32-year-old Marcus Small for the First Degree Murder of Love. They both were also charged with Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon, Felony Conspiracy, Attempted First Degree Murder, and Discharge a Weapon into Occupied Property. Small was arrested at the Cumberland County Courthouse by the United States Marshalls Service. Seidel was served on the warrants at the Cumberland County Jail while in jail for unrelated charges.

    Both are not eligible for bond. They will both appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on March 30.

  • pexels tembela bohle 1089930Walking around Downtown Fayetteville with an open container of alcohol in specially designated districts may be a possibility in the future. Following the recently passed House Bill 890, the Cool Spring Downtown District is researching how Fayetteville could benefit from a social district, which would allow open container alcoholic beverages purchased within the social district confines.

    The Cool Spring Downtown District, Senator Kirk deViere, Mayor Mitch Colvin, Councilmember Shakeyla Ingram, other elected officials, and several downtown business owners were invited to hear a presentation from the North Carolina Downtown Development Association about the bill and [possible implementation in Fayetteville.
    House Bill 890 allows cities to create open-container districts for alcohol. For this to happen, the governing body of a local governmental unit may make a designated social district that contains a common area where people can drink alcoholic beverages; the alcoholic beverage must be purchased from an ABC licensed business from within the social district. People cannot bring their drinks to the district, and they cannot carry drinks outside the district.

    To establish a social district, seven things are required: signage must be installed at the boundaries of the district, all drinks must be in clearly labeled non-glass containers that are under 16 oz, the local government must pass a local ordinance that establishes the boundaries of the district along with days/hours that are approved for open-container alcohol, and that map and district plan must be submitted to the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

    When looking at Fayetteville, the most prominent problem presenters were concerned with was establishing the district and its boundaries.

    "I think one of Fayetteville's biggest challenges is going to be where you put the signs and where you put the boundaries just because you do have such a wide streetscape. I think figuring out where you want to put those signs is probably going to be important," said Jason Epleym, president, Benchmark Planning.

    A Social District's potential problems could include littering, public intoxication, and illegal filling of containers from 'personal bottles.' However, the biggest problem Ray Gibbs, executive director, Forward High Point, has seen from these social districts has been a lack of participation.

    "It's not something that's going to be right for every city. It's not a magic solution. And as we always say in downtown development, there is no magic solution," Gibbs said. "But, you know, if you put one in effect and only one or two of your bars, restaurants, or pubs participate, is there really enough to do it and makes sense?"

    Bianca Shoneman, president and CEO, Cool Spring Downtown District, said that the next step is to send out a survey to get feedback to see if establishing a social district is something Fayetteville residents and business owners want in their downtown area.

    "As a collective, we want to make sure that property owners, elected officials, residents and of course, our community at large are all behind this effort because downtown is the heart of the city, and we should have a concerted effort to move us forward and generally have consensus from the community before coming out ahead," Shoneman said. "We are looking to do this likely sometime – if we do feel like it's ready to move forward – by ordinance sometime in late summer, early fall."

  • Fay Eats Header 1 The Fayetteville Marksmen hockey organization will be holding a food festival on March 19 at the Crown Coliseum. The festival, which will showcase both local and chain restaurant vendors, will take place the afternoon before the Marksmen face the Birmingham Bulls.

    According to Zach Ruettgers, an intern working with the Marksmen, 18 vendors are currently lined up to provide food for the event, including but not limited to Dorothy's Catering, Carrabbas Italian Grill, Gaston Brewing Company and El Cazador Mexican Restaurant.

    "This is our first year putting on an event like this. Fayetteville Eats is designed to marry two of the most exciting elements of the Fayetteville community: its wonderful cuisine and Marksmen hockey," he said.

    The vendors will be setting up sampling tables, and participants can roam the vendor's offerings and enjoy sample size bites of their food. The idea behind the festival was to create the "ultimate tailgate experience," and to help create that atmosphere, organizers will have games set up for attendees, and drinks will be available throughout the event.

    Fayetteville Eats is open to all ages. Admission to the game is included in the price of a ticket to the festival.

    The Marksmen are offering two different ticket packages for the festival. The "general admission" package costs $30 in advance, $35 on the day of, and includes entry to the festival beginning at 3:30 p.m. Ticket holders have access to unlimited sampling with the vendors. With the general admission package, festival-goers will receive an endzone ticket to the Marksman game starting at 6:30 p.m.

    In addition to the unlimited food sampling, VIP ticket holders will be able to take advantage of complimentary soft drinks and water during the festival. The VIP package allows for early access into the festival at 3 p.m. and costs $45 in advance, $50 on the day of the event. VIPs will receive a center ice ticket for the game and a Marksman shot glass.

    "This is a food festival featuring some of the best food and drinks that Fayetteville has to offer, followed by a Marksman hockey game," said Ruettgers.
    The event will also feature music by a local performer. Michael Daughtry, a North Carolina singer and songwriter, will perform during the festival. Daughtry has opened for acts like Jimmy Buffet, and is a local Fayetteville favorite.

    Tickets can be found at https://marksmenhockey.com/fayettevilleeats/.

  • pexels ella olsson 1640777 1Weight loss is often a primary reason people join a fitness center or start exercising. A healthy weight loss goal is to lose one-to-two pounds per week for long-term sustainability. A drastic weight loss approach with a caloric intake of four hundred to eight hundred calories per day can be non-sustainable. With this type of approach, you will likely regain weight within six months or less. A good diet with exercise can help you lose weight and maintain your weight loss goals.

    Anyone can slash their caloric intake and lose weight, but is this weight loss a plan you will continue to follow? Educating yourself about nutrition-related dieting options empowers you to make good decisions about food consumption for health and wellness. Choosing a weight loss plan can be overwhelming with all the available commercial programs and apps because no one diet fits all. Take your time to research a plan or app that will work for you. Two diets surface when I read health and fitness articles: the Mediterranean and Paleo diet.

    The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, seafood, and grains -in moderation. The Paleo diet features an abundance of meat, seafood, poultry with fresh vegetables and fruit. While I am not suggesting that you try either of these diets, I think the Mediterranean diet is an interesting read for this column. It became popular in the fifties and sixties when Ancel Keys and his colleagues studied relationships between diet and coronary heart disease in Greece, Spain, Italy, Finland, Japan and South Africa.They found that the diets in Italy and Greece had the lowest risk of developing heart disease. In general, people in these countries enjoy long lives with low rates of chronic disease.

    The lifestyle in these countries also embraces regular physical activity and leisurely meals with friends and family. The question is, why is this diet so effective?

    The Mediterranean diet encompasses many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds. It is a heart-healthy eating plan that incorporates cooking methods and flavors of the region. The diet is rich in fiber, protein, and Omega -3 fats and allows for a modest amount of carbs. The preferred beverages on this diet are coffee, tea, water and an occasional red wine. It encourages fewer eggs, red meat, white meat, sweets, refined grains, processed foods, sweetened beverages and unhealthy oils.

    Research has shown that this type of diet can reduce your risk of diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. People in these countries enjoy long lives with low rates of chronic disease. The reason is that the diet has fewer foods high in fat, salt and sugar. The result is weight loss, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and less inflammation in the body. Studies also suggest that this diet promotes good gut health and healthy aging. Below are menu choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. Breakfast: Grilled tomatoes on whole-wheat toast, yogurt with fruit or kale and butternut squash frittata. Lunch: Mixed green salad with olives and cherry tomatoes (oil and vinegar dressing) or whole-grain sandwich with hummus, vegetables, or chickpea salad. Dinner: Whole–grain pizza with grilled vegetables or broiled salmon with brown rice and vegetables. Snack: Hummus with red bell peppers. Look for my next column, which will feature details on the Paleo diet. Live, love life with healthy eating and exercise.

  • BLBBC 2021 ST paddys Spring has arrived. It is time to bid a fond farewell to the gray days of winter and welcome the tease of summer, which is just around the corner. The longer days and warmer weather invite a sense of fun, and Bright Light Brewing Company has plans to help Fayetteville kickoff springtime in the "Can-Do City."

    BLBC, a fixture on the downtown scene over the past five years, is hosting its annual St. Paddy's Day at Bright Light on March 19 from 4 to 11 p.m.
    Considered a "nano-brewery," BLBC is veteran-owned and opened its taproom doors on Russell St. in 2017. The company has now expanded to include a brewhouse located at 304 Williams St., a mere two blocks away.

    St. Paddy's Day at Bright Light boasts no shortage of games, good food and fun. Rainbows, shamrocks and likely more than a few shenanigans as any non-believers in attendance try not to get pinched. There will be a little something for everyone.

    "It's going to be so much fun," Oliva Caughey, event manager at BLBC, said, struggling to explain a game ominously called the "Shamrock Shuffle" without laughing.
    BLBC's St. Paddy's event will have a curated list of activities tailored to its patrons and community, from the whimsical to the more daring.

    Feel like channeling your St. Paddy's Day free spirit with a bit of body art? BLBC has got you covered. Free face painting will be available on-site from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. After that time, patrons are welcome to have their faces painted, but at their own cost.

    Attendees can also try their hand at some ax-throwing hosted by Axes and X's, another local company.

    From 4 to 9 p.m., guests can enjoy the savory comfort of the Rollin' Rust Belt Food Truck. Their Great Lakes-inspired menu "will definitely fill you up, and it goes really well with a pint or two," according to their website.

    A "pint or two" won't be an issue at BLBC. With an impressive rotation of in-house beer and at least fifteen on tap, festivalgoers can look forward to a St. Patrick's Day celebration staple- green beer, at $4 a pint.
    Fayetteville musician Crow Kozak, popular at the taproom, will entertain the merry crowd from 7 to 10 p.m. "We try to do as many local musicians in rotation as possible," Caughey said, expressing the company's dedication to supporting local talent and businesses.

    And ultimately, Caughey explains, that's what this event is all about.
    It's about appreciation and the collective uplifting of an industry hard-hit by events of the last two years.

    "We want to bring the community together and support small businesses," Caughey continued. "Especially during the pandemic, it's more important than ever."

    St. Paddy's at Bright Light will be held at the BLBC taproom at 444 W. Russell St.
    For more information, visit brighlightbrew.com/events.

  • Whoever said "politics is a circus" wasn't far from wrong. And every circus has a ringmaster and a lion tamer that shout and crack their whips demanding compliance from those they dominate. North Carolina's Governor Roy Cooper indeed fills both these positions in Raleigh's political circus. Cooper's recent, unprecedented and outlandish endorsement of former Fayetteville City Councilwoman Val Applewhite to challenge and unseat District 19 Democrat Senator Kirk deViere shocked both Republican and Democratic citizens. But, it's Cooper's circus. He is the ringmaster, and he calls all the shots.

    There is little doubt that Cooper's action is retaliation toward deViere for working across the political aisles with Republicans on local and statewide policies and initiatives. Initiatives and policies that ultimately would benefit his District 19 constituents and all the residents of North Carolina. In other words, deViere was doing his job. He was doing what the people of District 19 elected him to do. From these tasks and principles, he did not waver. Ringmaster Cooper punished deViere for not adhering to strict Democratic Party mandates, policies and philosophies. Cooper's actions are a near-perfect example of just how ruthless, corrupt and unforgiving the game of politics can be at all levels.

    Sen. deViere and the Cumberland County delegation, Sen. Ben Clark, State Reps. John Szoka, Diane Wheatley, Billy Richardson, and Marvin Lucus all worked diligently and "across the aisle" to do everything they could for the citizens of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. The result was an unprecedented $413 million infusion into our community to enhance our quality of life and positively impact our community for decades to come.
    In a recent phone conversation with Sen. deViere, I reminded him that "no good deed goes unpunished." In this writer's opinion, Cooper's endorsement of Applewhite indicates his circus may be on the verge of transforming into a zoo. This being the case, every citizen of Fayetteville and Cumberland County needs to be aware of the situation and know who's who in the zoo.

    I urge you to do your due diligence on each candidate. Learn who the candidates are, what they stand for, what they have accomplished or what they plan to accomplish if elected. One of the main reasons quality leadership has diminished in Fayetteville and Cumberland County during the last decade is because candidates have figured out how to be elected, but they have no knowledge of the office they are elected to or what is expected of them.

    Their lack of knowledge and experience has created a significant deficit in our planning and future vision for the entire community.
    Over the years, Senator deViere and I have disagreed on many issues, but never has it been personal. I have always admired people with a solid work ethic who are not afraid to stand up and fight for their principles regardless of political affiliations. Hardcore and complex politics often make this difficult.

    Gov. Cooper and Val Applewhite have done very little for Fayetteville and Cumberland County citizens. Neither Cooper nor Applewhite contributed to bringing $413 million to our community. The upcoming elections will be vital to the ultimate success of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. During this election period, everyone needs to be aware of who's who in the zoo. Our community has great potential, and collectively, we have identified faltering leadership in the mayor's office, city council and the county commission. We are the only ones who can change this, and we do not want to elect more of the same. Vote. But vote from a position of knowledge. Vote on the candidates based on their ability to serve our community with dignity, honor and integrity. Fayetteville and Cumberland County are wonderful communities with tremendous potential. We must

    elect honest and talented leaders who will take advantage of our assets and will not abuse the positions entrusted to them. I'll leave you with this.
    It's all up to us and not hard to do,
    Run the circus out of town,
    And you will disassemble the zoo!
    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.
    (My apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

  • IMG 1995 Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 670 have scheduled a new event. Their Spring Fling with The Embers featuring Craig Woolard will be held on March 20, from 4 to 7 p.m. at VFW Post 670.
    The Embers were formed in 1958 by Bobby Tomlinson and Jackie Gore.

    "[The Embers] were one of the first integrated bands that had a Black saxophone player," said Craig Woolard, lead singer and featured artist of The Embers. "They recorded their first album live from the North Carolina State University student union."

    Being in the group was an excellent experience for Woolard.

    "The band opened a nightclub in Raleigh, opened a nightclub in Atlantic Beach, drove nice Cadillacs and it was big time for me," Woolard said.
    Woolard dreamed of performing early on in life.

    "I am from... Washington, North Carolina, and we would go to Atlantic Beach, and that is when I first heard about The Embers," said Woolard. "I was a musician, and I would look at the stage and wish that one day I could be on the stage performing too."

    The Embers laid the foundation for Beach Music in the Carolinas, Virginia, the Gulf Coast region and the beaches. The current band members are Gerald Davis, bass player; Jody Bundy, keyboards; Wayne Free, drummer; Jeff Grimes, guitar; Bob Nantz, trombone; Stephen Pachuta, trumpet; and Craig Woolard, lead vocals. They are supported by sound, lights and setup crew members Julio Eubanks and Bob Blair.
    Woolard feels his bandmates are very talented and enjoys performing with them.

    "Gerald [on bass] and I joined The Embers the same day in November of 1976," said Woolard. "He is easily one of those influential musicians in my life."
    The Embers have recorded numerous albums and single releases that span decades. Some of their greatest hits include "Far Away Places," "I Love Beach Music," "Solitaire," "What You Do To Me" and "Cool Me Out," to name a few.

    Woolard has also had independent success as well.

    "I have had several hits that include 'Love Don't Come No Stronger Than Yours and Mine' and 'I've Got A Feeling We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again,'" said Woolard.

    The Embers' awards and accomplishments include induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame, the honor of carrying the moniker of North Carolina's Official Ambassadors of Music, military coins of excellence for their distinguished service, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award and the Group of the Year Award.

    "I have won Male Vocalist of the Year at the Carolina Beach Music Awards and Entertainer of the Year many times, so much so that I retired myself from it," said Woolard. "When you win the first few times, everybody applauds, but when you win 15 times, you might get some boos, so I figured I needed to quit while I was ahead."

    Some of the band's most significant accomplishments include playing at former President Bill Clinton's Inaugural Party, playing for an ambassador at his home in Ottawa, Canada, and being sponsored by Anheuser-Busch.

    "It was a big deal to get sponsored by the national company, Anheuser-Busch, in the 80s, and they picked up our song "I Love Beach Music" and turned it into "I Love Budweiser," so people all over the country were getting to hear that," said Woolard. "They would fly us to different places to play at their conventions in New York City, Chicago, Palm Springs and Hawaii."

    Touring is one of the band's favorite things to do, and they have traveled the world extensively, averaging 250 shows a year.

    "When COVID-19 hit, everything was shut down," said Woolard. "Everybody sat around and adjusted as best as we could. I was fortunate because, in January 2020, the owner of a radio station asked me if I would be interested in doing radio, so I gave it a try and every Sunday night from 6 to 11 p.m. was the Craig Woolard Show."

    The radio position helped Woolard through the pandemic.

    "I got the radio job because the Lord knew what was going to happen, so he looked out for me and carried me through," said Woolard.

    The Embers hold an annual cruise during the Christmas holidays, and about 300 of their fans show up to the party.

    "It is called the 'Making Waves Cruise,' and it is something that I started during my time away from The Embers," said Woolard. "I had my own band, The Craig Woolard Band, and I started the Making Waves Cruise, and when those guys who were in charge called me back, it became the 'Making Waves Cruise' with The Embers."

    He added, "We have been doing this cruise for at least 15 years until the pandemic hit."

    "Right now we are working on a destination instead of a cruise because of the pandemic and you just don't know what is going to happen," said Woolard.

    Future projects for the group involve recording an album.

    "Every Christmas, we release a Christmas album to go along with the Christmas show because we do the show the whole month of December all the way up to Christmas Eve," said Woolard.

    "I am happy to be able to do what I am doing, and I don't have a problem keeping my spirits up," said Woolard. "If I have got to sing the same songs every night, then I have to find a way to make that interesting, and the way that I do it is to listen and see how well I can sing that song a little better than I did the last time."

    The Embers are looking forward to playing good music at the Spring Fling.

    "The audience can expect the most entertaining and professional performance that we can possibly muster," said Woolard. "You cannot rest on your laurels, and you have to make people a believer every time that you play."

    The Spring Fling will feature food trucks, vendors, music and more in addition to The Embers.

    The Spring Fling is free from noon to 4 p.m. and the concert is open to the public.

    After 4 p.m., tickets cost is $10 to $15 and can be purchased at the door and online at https://theticketing.co/events/theembersatvfwpost670.
    Sponsors, food trucks and vendors are still needed.

    Interested trucks and vendors are asked to call/text 910-779-8425 or email agoraproductionsmc@gmail.com.

  • labour2017Residents in Fayetteville and the region have the unique opportunity to experience an uncommon type of artform by visual artist Marcela Casals — a performance work titled in-bitween. Casals, who lived in Fayetteville for many years and now resides in the New York City area, was invited to participate in the 2021-2022 Fine Art Series at Fayetteville State University in the Department of Performing and Fine Arts.

    Before Marcela Casals decided to complete a degree in sculpture and ceramics at FSU, she was a well-known actor and director at the Gilbert Theatre in Fayetteville. By 2017 Casals had completed the visual art degree in sculpture and ceramics at FSU, a Post Baccalaureate degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a Master of Fine Arts at the School of Arts in New York. After graduation, she remained in New York as a performance artist.

    Casals has created an immersive sculpture installation in Rosenthal Gallery to perform in-bitween on two different days: March 18th and 19th. The event is free and a reception to meet the artist will follow the March 19th performance from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery on Gillespie Street in downtown Fayetteville.

    Before leaving Fayetteville, Casals was invited to create a sculpture installation in the west gallery at the Arts Council of Fayetteville in 2013. The paper and fabric used in the installation titled woodforeststream became her signature materials. From descending sculptural forms to sculptural projections, Casals utilizes neutral and/or black/white paper or fabric to express content. Using easily accessible materials Casals inspires meaning from a minimal approach in her performances and accumulation as mass in her sculptures.

    in-bitween, reveals Casals’ underlying preoccupation with the characteristics of opposites: restraint and gravity, limitation and abundance, weight and weightlessness, culture and nonculture, lastly, language and the voiceless. After the performance, the immersive sculpture installation remains in place until April 8, 2022, for visitors to Rosenthal Gallery to experience — the video recording of in-bitween will play on a large monitor.

    In talking about the content for in-bitween Casals shared her experiences with language as “innate and foreign, a bridge and a barrier. After arriving with my parents in NYC from Buenos Aires at the age of nine, not speaking a word of English … in a years’ time I spoke it fluently. Time passed and I only spoke Spanish with my parents. By the time of my adulthood, my parents returned to Argentina and visited me regularly in the United States. Visiting them regularly, I noticed my mother language was stunted. When my parents passed and not having spoken Spanish for two years, I came to experience a sense of loss. I was no longer from my birthplace and not 100% from where I grew up…my experience with language, that everyday sound defines this middle space I inhabit: not from there, not from here, in-bitween.”

    Visitors to in-bitween performance do not need to know Casals' idea behind the sculpture and performance, they can experience whatever their sensibilities respond to during the event. Knowing the artist’s intent before visiting the gallery could give visitors insight and perhaps influence a new and surprisingly pleasing experience.

    Visitors do not have to stay the entire time of the performance; they can quietly come and go during either of the performances. The five-hour March 19th performance is durational. Instead of performing for the complete five hours, the artist will take short breaks, then re-enter the performance.

    A master class is scheduled for the art students — the public is welcome to attend. The artist will briefly talk about the history of performance art and how theatre and being a trained studio artist has influenced her style.

    Instead of the master class, visitors can go to this YouTube link prior to coming to the gallery for in-bitween: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsO9K3twk3E

    As an actor, Casals has a long list of memorable theater performances over the years. Since becoming a visual artist, her list of achievements continues to grow. While an art student in 2011, Casals was one of the artists who participated in the “500 Hands” North Carolina Veterans Park, in Fayetteville, NC. Like the other artists, Casals was assigned and traveled to 12 counties in North Carolina to cast the hands of veterans and their supporters for Veterans Park.

    Some of her installations and performances includes the following: “Intrusion” Installation, Projecto áce, Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2013; “Is That A Gun In Your Pocket” Studio 10, Brooklyn NY Performance, 2017; “Labour” Performance/Installation — SVA Open Studios, 2017; and 2020 “Parabola-Parable” Language-Mother Tongue, The Immigrant Artists Biennial, NYC Performance.

  • Market House The Market House in downtown Fayetteville has been a focus of local dissension long before any of us reading this column drew breath, and sometimes the buzz has been louder than at other times. Since the 2020 unrest following the murder of Fayetteville native George Floyd in Minneapolis, the buzz has accelerated to the point that an arsonist tried to set the building afire. However, he managed to burn only his clothes. Calls to demolish the Market House reached Fayetteville City Council and resulted in the Council deciding to “repurpose” the building, but it is unclear what that means at this point.

    The Market House was constructed following the great fire of 1831, which consumed its predecessor, the State House, where North Carolina ratified the US Constitution and chartered the nation’s first public university, the University of North Carolina. It was what its name implies for most of its existence, a community market for local goods and produce with town hall facilities on the upper floor. In more recent years, the market function fell away, and the second story has been used as a library, an art museum, a history museum and offices for various organizations. Over time, it became an official symbol of the city of Fayetteville, a logo of sorts. It is one of 40 National Historic Landmarks in North Carolina and the only one in Cumberland County.

    It is also a place where enslaved human beings were sold as chattel.

    Stop for a moment. Let that historical reality sink in.

    It is also a place where enslaved human beings were sold as chattel.

    In downtown Fayetteville in an open arcaded building, a place near which many residents now enjoy an outdoor meal, a visit to nearby parks, attend church or take in a movie at an art-house theater, human beings were sold to the highest bidder.

    Families were likely parted, perhaps for eternity. A plaque to honor and in memory of those enslaved people was authorized by Fayetteville City Council in 1989 now resides permanently on the ground level of the Market House. It acknowledges the building’s excruciating history but can do nothing to change it.

    So the question looms on and large. What is the fate of the Market House in the 21st century?

    Presumably, the Council’s decision to repurpose the building means it will not be demolished. Still, calls for its destruction continue, and as with any elected body responsive to public sentiment, that decision can be changed. It should not be.

    Tearing down a building because atrocities occurred there does not erase them. It may even make such acts more difficult to remember if the place where they happened exists only in memory.

    This is why Germany retained its horrendous concentration camps — so people will never forget what happened in them.

    That said, what should the Market House be? Should it stand in place or be moved, if that is even possible? How should it be used, if used at all?

    These are the complex and emotional questions facing Fayetteville's City Council.

    I do not envy its members this decision, but the timing has landed it squarely in their laps.

    Americans from coast to coast and elsewhere are grappling with our nation’s history of and, sadly, continuing racism. Millions of individuals and thousands of communities are struggling with our collective pasts and painful presents. We are looking into personal and national mirrors and must reckon with what we see.

    Whatever the fate of the nearly 200-year-old Market House is to be, it should be decided now. As difficult as this decision will be, Fayetteville City Council must not be allowed, as politicians say, to “kick this can down the road.”

    The decision is this Council’s, and the time is now.

  • dg martinGoing blind. Is there any way it could be a good thing?

    Frank Bruni asks this question in his new book, “The Beauty of Dusk.”

    Bruni, one of the great writers to move to North Carolina recently, is an opinion writer for The New York Times, author of bestselling books, and is now a professor of public policy at Duke University.

    One day in 2017, Bruni woke up to find something wrong with an eye. He could barely see anything in that eye. Reading and driving became problematic. Doctors told him a stroke had destroyed the nerves that connected the eye and the brain.

    The damage was permanent, and there was a 40 percent chance something similar would happen to the other eye. If it did, he would be, for all practical purposes, totally blind.

    How Bruni dealt with life afterwards, is the story of his book.

    He sought out people who have been similarly handicapped: blind, deaf, injured limbs, crippling diseases. He found that many have learned to live with their situations and have refused to be defeated.

    As he told me recently, “I decided to put on my journalist hat and interviewed to try to learn from people who had been confronted with serious physical and medical challenges” and learn “how they navigated those, and what they learned from them.”

    He wanted to avail himself of that wisdom. So, he said, “That's the story of the book.”

    The stories he collected are impressive and inspirational.

    He wrote about an English travel writer, James Holman, who notwithstanding his blindness, Bruni told me, “was perhaps the most famous travel writer of his day.”

    “When he wrote about the places, to the extent that he described them visually, it was through other people's accounts.

    “But, there was still so much available to him, the smells of a place, the sounds of a place, the legends of a place. And it's a really interesting lesson in how much is still available to us when a portion of our lives is taken away. There are still many portions of our lives, many, many perspectives and aspects left.”

    Bruni writes about David Tatel, a blind U.S. Court of Appeals judge who, rather than focusing on all the negatives of his blindness, celebrates his luck at having gone blind “at a point in human progress when technology was so sophisticated and could come to the rescue in many situations.”

    When Bruni told the judge that he was impressed with him and “our species’ unfathomable nimbleness,” the judge “smiled and with his whole face, then said something that echoed in my thoughts for the rest of that evening and echoes there still. ‘Starfish can regrow limbs,’ he said. ‘But that’s nothing compared to what human beings can do.’”

    Bruni was inspired by others, such as a blind dancer, a blind painter, a blind gallerist, a blind architect, all showing the powerful ability of humans to adapt even better than the starfish.

    From these many other people facing up to lost physical abilities Bruni learned that there were upsides to these downsides and the struggles that go with them.

    Instead of asking, “Why me?” Bruni asks, “Why not me?”

    “Why should any of us be spared struggle, when struggle is a condition more universal than comfort, than satiation, than peace, maybe than love? Should we even be calling or thinking of it as struggle, which connotes an exertion beyond the usual, a deviation from the norm?”

    He told me that we are dealt a set of cards in this life. Some are really good, some not.

    “You have no control over what that hand of cards is going to be, but you have enormous control over how you play them. That's a lesson that was really hammered home to me as I dealt with vision loss.”

    That lesson, Bruni thinks, is one all of us should learn.

  • 5158487 04 gobs of guns banquet for the f 640The Cape Fear Friends of NRA will celebrate their 30th anniversary with their Annual Banquet and Auction next week.

    Cape Fear Friends of NRA connects with the national Friends of NRA program which has raised over one billion dollars for the National Rifle Association of America Foundation. That foundation has funded over 56,000 grants in connection to the support of shooting sports. Each year, the local non-profit organization uses 100% of the money raised at the Annual Banquet and Auction event to support local shooting sports and award grants for firearm safety programs.

    Tony Forte, the Chairmen of the CFFNRA committee, said their organization has helped several local organizations, and one of their significant commitments is gun safety and gun education programs.
    Those programs include 4-H, the scouts, sharpshooter clubs and Fayetteville's Operation Ceasefire.

    "The firearms community is growing fast. Over 13 million guns were sold in the United States last year; five million of them are new shooters. That's part of the audience we're trying to reach out to," Forte said. "Education safety is key."

    The Friends of NRA national organization has raised over a billion dollars for education, specifically for kids. $150,000 has been raised locally over the past six years.

    The banquet event is a family-friendly affair with some educational programs, but mainly it's for people to come together and learn about what the Cape Fear Friends of NRA does. They will also be hosting raffles and auctions. The auction items will include firearms, sporting goods, equipment, ammunition and artwork.

    Forte says that they expect well over 200 people to be at the event. He says this may be the best year so far. He hopes to raise at least $25,000 by the end of the event.

    "Our next real milestone would be to double that. We're going to try to do it incrementally," Forte said. 'So $25,000, that's where we've been comfortable in good times and bad."

    Looking towards the future, Forte says they would like to plan an event or help co-sponsor a women's target event in the fall.

    "Women are dominating the shooting sports now," Forte said. "There's no reason anyone has an advantage over another person other than something they have: vision, motor coordination and motor skills. Men and women are equal on the playing field in shooting sports. As women discovered, shooting sports today are really changing our world, and it's really exciting to see."

    The Annual Banquet and Auction will be held on March 24 at Paradise Acres of Grays Creek, located at 1965 John McMillan Road, in Hope Mills. The banquet will kick off at 6 p.m. Ticket prices are $45 for singles and $80 for doubles. Tickets can be purchased online at www.friendsofnra.org/eventtickets/Events/Details/34?eventId=58633.

  • 275552454 1027299954801352 3440785021579282691 n Nadia Minniti, the owner of Gusto Napoletano, never expected to leave Segra Stadium last week with funding for a food truck, but she did.

    Minniti was one out of eight women who pitched their ideas to the Women's Business Center of Fayetteville at the Center for Economic Empowerment and Development and the City of Fayetteville for a chance to win up to $10,000 in grant funding. The eight competitors presented their businesses and ideas to a group of judges at Segra Stadium last Thursday in an event called #HERPitch.

    #HERPitch was one out of five themed events throughout the week that helped celebrate, recognize and support local women business owners and employees.

    Minniti said this theme of supporting each other continued throughout the competition.

    "You think that eight women competing for this money, the atmosphere is going to be like we are going to be at each other's throats. I was so surprised. We were supporting one another. Helping adjust each other's crown," Minniti said. "We were giving each other advice and helping each other out. Yes, we were all there competing, but you didn't feel the competitiveness of us competing with one another."

    Three women total were awarded checks. Evolv Dezigns won a check for $2,500 and Joy in Learning Discovery Center was awarded a check for $1,000.

    Minniti won the biggest prize, a $7,500 check. Her plan for that money is to buy a food truck with a customized wood-fire oven in the back to make authentic Neapolitan pizza, the only food truck in North Carolina, to Minniti's knowledge, that would do so.

    "I am very grateful and happy that CEED is there for us women because this is still a man's world - especially in the restaurant industry and the pizza world. There are very few women in the pizza world still. I am one of the few women in the world that is certified to make Neapolitan pizza."

    Minniti opened Gusto Napoletano in Sept. of 2019. She said she only survived the pandemic because she started small with a small staff and a limited menu. While that has helped her survive, she wants to get more recognition in town and have more people eat good pizza.

    "There's no food truck that has good pizza in Fayetteville. The market is there," Minniti explained. "Well if we want to increase our sales and continue to grow, getting a food truck is the cheapest way to do that. It will also increase my exposure out into the community."

    With the grant from CEED and the City of Fayetteville, Minniti believes she could have this food truck up and running in a year.

    Minniti said she would be excited to see this type of event happen again in the future to help support other women in the community.

    “There are a lot of women who have great ideas and sometimes they need a sounding board to bounce this idea off and maybe get funded for them.
    There are a lot of valuable businesses that can positively contribute to society, especially in Fayetteville. CEED and these types of events are a great asset to this community,”
    Minniti said.

  • Jeremy Camp 88888357 5056 BF65 D602525ABDE67D9A 88d3c098 5056 bf65 d61e46a6dfe9bb3c We often sing along with songs we hear on the radio (or our favorite digital platform) without much thought of the road down which they were written.

    Other times, though, we hear a song and just know there's a story tucked away in the lyrics.

    The latter would likely be the case with contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp's "I Still Believe."

    A popular single from his first major-label full-length album in 2003, Camp wrote the song after the death of his first wife, Melissa.

    The song helped propel Jeremy Camp's career, whose name is now well-known to Christian music fans.

    At the very beginning of the pandemic, a full-length movie based on the story behind the song was due to release on March 13, 2020, only to find there were few to no theaters open to the public — seemingly derailing the plans for the impact of "I Still Believe the Movie."

    Undeterred, the film was released immediately on digital and streaming platforms to great acclaim.

    And nearly two decades into his musical career, fans were quickly able to connect with the man behind the artistry and the story of God's faithfulness to the singer.

    Camp's career highlights now include over 30 number one Christian radio hits, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers songwriter awards, and back-to-back Gospel Music Association Dove Awards for Best Male Vocalist.

    Fayetteville will get all of that and much more when the "I Still Believe Tour" lands in the Crown Theatre on Saturday, March 19th.

    Appropriately named, the "I Still Believe Tour" features Riley Clemmons, a young Christian songstress whose infectious pop singles have earned her the respect, admiration and tens of millions of plays on radio and digital platforms since her 2018 debut.

    Canada-native Jordan St. Cyr rounds out the lineup for the evening, which promises to be one of the best Christian music shows of the year.

    Longtime fans of Jeremy Camp know they can count on an evening that is both high energy and reflective.

    Jeremy has a solid foundation as an artist and is an adept storyteller whose songs quickly point to God and the truth of his strength.

    With a twenty-year string of hits songs under his hat, the evening will be filled with exciting surprises for some and sing-along memories for others.

    Without a doubt, everyone will leave knowing they have been both encouraged and entertained.

    Doors open at 6 p.m., and the concert begins at 7 p.m. at Fayetteville's Crown Theatre on Saturday, March 19th. To purchase tickets, visit crowncomplexnc.com.


  • IMG 5216 1 Sweet Tea Shakespeare, Fayetteville's traveling theater company, will be presenting an impromptu performance of the magical and whimsy musical "Into the Woods."

    Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" has won three Tony Awards and was made into a full-length Disney film in 2014. The story follows several well-known fairytale characters — Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and a Baker and his wife. All have wishes and hope a witch will grant them, bringing the old adage "be careful of what you wish" to mind as their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results.

    Artistic Director Jeremy Fiebig said this performance promises to be an evening full of magic and fairytales. However, the idea for the musical to be performed came very late into the game.

    "We signed paperwork to do 'Into the Woods' in January," Fiebig said.

    The idea came to Sweet Tea Shakespeare after the new owners of Fayetteville Pie Company, Kerry and Jen Washburn, approached Sweet Tea Shakespeare after their annual Christmas concerts. The new Fayetteville Pie Company owners heard about the theater company's 2019 performance of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" at the restaurant and how successful it was. They wanted to do it again.

    Shortly after that meeting, the idea of doing another Sondheim classic came about. Sweet Tea Shakespeare rose to the challenge and ambitiously put this musical performance together in under three months.

    However, Fiebig says it's been easy to do with the support from Fayetteville Pie Company.

    "They have been so extremely supportive. It was the case for Sweeney Todd, and it's the case now," Fiebig said.

    The tickets at the Fayetteville Pie Company will include a themed dinner with live music an hour before the show starts. Then attendees can make their way downstairs to see the small performance.

    "That's one thing unique about the Fayetteville Pie Company experience is that there are less than 50 seats a night, so you get that experience of seeing a play in your living room," Fiebig said. "What's different between Sweet Tea and anywhere else is how familiar, and close and interactive the performances are. It feels like we are doing a production in your living room. It's that intimate. It involves you that much."

    With having a small "stage," there's not much room for a large set — which for Fiebig is another thing he loves about their performances.

    "One of the things that excite me about this performance is all of the ways we find to create that magic with little, everyday household items."

    One big difference with this performance behind-the-scenes is that there will be two entirely separate casts for all the actors.

    "When we were planning this, it was still in the height of the omicron surge. We knew from our experiences from the last few months; we needed to have a cover plan for actors," Fiebig explained. "Every person in this play has a cover. We have this whole team of folks to essentially come to rehearsals, watch, step in occasionally, and they will get a small handful of performances of their own."

    The run of "Into the Woods" will kick off on March 17 and will run through April 10 at the Fayetteville Pie Company. The production will move and continue at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church from April 21 through May 8.

    The ticket price for the Fayetteville Pie Company show includes a savory pie, a sweet pie and a soft drink or tea.

    Beer and wine will be available for purchase. The total price is $47.50 per ticket.

    At the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church shows, tickets range from $10 to $30. The performances will take place outside unless it rains.

    Tickets for the performances can be bought at sweetteashakespeare.com/into-the-woods-fayetteville-nc-events/.

  • BotanicalG The Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is holding their "Party With A Purpose" on March 19. This event is their twelfth annual Big Hat Brunch and will be held at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    "Put on your biggest, classiest and most elegant hat as we enjoy brunch and a cup of tea with those Ft. Bragg Deltas," reads the organization's invitation of welcome.
    Founded in 1913, "Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world," as stated by their website.

    Introduced in 2010, The Big Hat Brunch has been a popular annual fundraising event. Attendance in years past has numbered in the hundreds, with tickets selling out well before the event day. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, however, seating will be limited this year.

    Making a move in venue from the Iron Mike Conference Center on Fort Bragg, the site of this event for the past 11 years, The Big Hat Brunch 2022 will make its first appearance at The Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

    Attendees of this year's brunch can enjoy the early spring with good food and fellowship while taking in the natural beauty of an 80-acre "urban oasis" located mere minutes from the bustle of downtown Fayetteville.

    The Big Hat Brunch's primary fund-raising goal is to provide scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors planning to attend Fayetteville State University.

    According to their Facebook page, "Since the first Big Hat Brunch in 2010, the Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter has awarded over $50,000 in scholarships to high school seniors and college students attending FSU."

    Proceeds from this event directly fund the 2nd Lt. Lisa Nicole Bryant Memorial Scholarship.

    Lisa Bryant, born in 1979, was a 2nd Lt. in the United States Army and a graduate of Princeton University. Bryant was murdered in the early morning hours of July 10, 1993, in a residence hall on Fort Bragg; she was 21 years old.

    Through the fundraising efforts of The Big Hat Brunch, the Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority seeks to keep Lisa Bryant's spirit, legacy and devotion to academic excellence alive with the dedication of this scholarship to meritable students in the Fort Bragg community.

    According to their webpage, "This scholarship will be awarded to a deserving undergraduate military family member attending FSU who exemplifies a commitment to education while majoring in sociology, psychology or education."

    While no dress code is expressly stated, it's clear at least one item is an absolute must!

    Tickets are $50 and the event will be held at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, located at 536 N. Eastern Blvd.

    Those interested in attending can find additional information and tickets for The Annual Big Hat Brunch at www.eventbrite.com/e/annual-big-hat-brunch-2022-tickets-173147909057?ref=eios&fbclid=IwAR2dRGxldO7QRGzJwDsTvk6TYtSxqfef5dC9oEbWDKdmpPitdLOx7GLxBg0

  • FACVB logo As one of the fastest-changing industries, tourism continues to be a primary engine of economic health in the entire country.

    That applies here in Fayetteville/Cumberland County as well. The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB) recently initiated a tourism research project that will serve as the foundation for the Strategic Marketing and Media Planning for 2022 and beyond.

    The FACVB sought to highlight tourism's impact on the area through this project. By partnering with the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and the Cool Spring Downtown District, the Foundational Tourism Research Project delivered insights from three different scopes of work: Stakeholder Study, Scout Report and Tourism Market Study.

    The Stakeholder Study provided tourism insights from local stakeholders and explored the community's awareness of the three organizations. The information gathered from this effort will help optimize community assets and the community tourism brand.

    The Scout Report provided real-time data (cell phone signals) and was able to show the geographic distribution of Fayetteville's visitors from outside of Cumberland County. The data helped identify the markets with the most significant opportunity and will help measure the performance by each market year over year.

    The third element of the research project, the Tourism Market Study, targeted regional travelers to assess and measure sentiment, brand health, visitor profile and barriers to visitation.
    The purpose of the study was to amplify the core of the regional marketplace by measuring Fayetteville/Cumberland County's brand health as a destination and comparing it to other regional destinations of similar size and scope.

    The research summary included impressive numbers regarding tourism's economic health and its impact on the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. The average leisure visitor spends $877 a visit, and the average business visitor party spends $502 during their stay. Even the Visiting Family/Relatives sector spends $489 during a visit.

    "The Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties" was prepared for Visit NC by the U.S. Travel Association for 2019, and the below data was presented to FACVB:
    • Cumberland County's travel and tourism industry employs 4,820 people with a payroll totaling nearly $116 million.
    • Travel spending generates $44.598 million in local and state taxes.
    • Travel to Cumberland County is worth $601 million to our local economy, translating to a tax savings of $134.14 per county resident.
    • Cumberland County ranks tenth out of North Carolina's 100 counties in economic impact from tourism.

    Everyone in the community can contribute to the continuation of the area's growth and shape the tourism industry in Cumberland County. The FACVB works alongside the community, hospitality partners and community leaders to further increase tourism and position Fayetteville/Cumberland County as a destination.

    The FACVB extends an invitation to all to visit the Welcome Center, where they can learn more about the FACVB goals and mission as they represent Fayetteville/Cumberland County as the tourism marketing arm of the community for conventions, meetings, sporting events and leisure travel.

    The research in its entirety can be found on the FACVB website at VisitFayettevilleNC.com/about-us/research.

  • Murchison Townhouses With more than 5,000 pending applications from rent-burdened households, Cumberland County is expected to take over administration of its pandemic rental assistance program next month.

    The county and the city of Fayetteville pooled their federal rental aid to form the Fayetteville Cumberland Rental Assistance Program, or RAP, last June.

    The program was initially funded with two rounds of federal rental aid, one from the December 2020 COVID-19 stimulus package and the other from the American Rescue Plan Act. In total, RAP received over $18 million in direct federal aid.

    The funds are for low-income tenants who have fallen behind on rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Renters are eligible for up to 12 months in past due rent and three months in future rent.

    The city and county had previously contracted administration to Innovative Emergency Management, a private company based in Morrisville in Wake County.

    But IEM decided not to renew past the depletion of the program’s current funding. In an emailed statement to Carolina Public Press, the company said its decision was due, in part, to restrictions the N.C. General Assembly placed on the next $17 million.

    During the first two rounds of assistance, IEM said, the company fronted $13 million, at no additional cost to the city or county, to get the program up and running. Fayetteville and Cumberland later reimbursed that spending.

    IEM officials said they also decided not to renew as more upfront spending would have been required.

    “IEM is committed to stabilizing housing and is proud to have been a part of the city of Fayetteville’s and Cumberland County’s COVID-19 recovery efforts,” company officials said.

    Reduced administrative fees
    From both rounds of federal assistance combined, North Carolina’s state government received over $1 billion in rental aid.

    Most of that was used for North Carolina’s own statewide rental assistance effort, the Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions program.

    Portions of it, however, were allocated to the state’s most populous counties, Cumberland among them, as part of state legislation last year, Senate Bill 172.

    In that legislation, Cumberland was allocated more than $31 million, $17 million of which will be disbursed by the county’s Department of Social Services after IEM finishes administering the last of the current funds.

    The law also reduces administrative fees to 5%, down from the 10% in the U.S. Treasury guidelines for state and local governments.

    IEM said this reduction would render the company unable to cover the cost of disbursement, which, the company said, includes call center and case management services, among others.

    To begin administering the aid, DSS Director Heath Skeens told the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners at its monthly agenda meeting last week that DSS would need to hire 25 temporary workers.

    In a statement emailed to Carolina Public Press, Cumberland officials said all positions except for three would be funded with administration fees.

    It hasn’t been determined whether additional county funds will be needed to fund the remaining three positions or whether the DSS budget can handle it, officials said.

    Skeens said she hopes to have the positions filled by March 28.

    The Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 in support of having DSS take over RAP’s administration. Commissioners Michael Boose and Charles Evans were not present for the vote.

    The action will be on the consent agenda for Monday’s board meeting.

    IEM said the company is working with DSS in the transition.

    “IEM and the county are working together to pivot program administration to DSS,” company officials said. “IEM is working with DSS to provide the necessary training and resources to support a successful handoff.”

    Pending applications
    Due to depleting funds, RAP halted applications to the program in January.

    As of last week, 5,165 applications were pending. About 180 applicants will be sent checks in the next two weeks from the remaining $1.3 million in the last round of assistance directly from the federal government, IEM said.

    DSS expects to begin processing the remaining applications as the agency begins going through the next $17 million from the state, Skeens said.

    “Our plan is to begin to process those applications as quickly as possible, to identify and to ensure that we are distributing the money to those in need, as quickly as we can,” Skeens said. “But again, there are 5,100 applications, and that is not going to happen in 30 days. It’s going to take some time.”

    Cumberland officials said it remains to be seen when applications will reopen.

    “We are unsure when and if the portal will be opened for new applications,” an email from the county said. “That will depend on if there is any money left.”

    The next $17 million in funding will be depleted by the 5,100 pending applications, they said.

    So far in the program, 2,631 households in Cumberland County have received aid. Each family has received an average payout of about $5,200.

    Out of the federal aid received, Cumberland County officials said $1.3 million was remaining as of last Thursday, and IEM expects to send that money to landlords and tenants within the next two weeks.

    That’s the last 7% from the first two rounds of federal rent aid as IEM has disbursed 93%.

  • melvin Nyrell Melvin, a filed candidate for the Fayetteville mayoral race, has decided to drop out of the contested race to run for a spot on the Cumberland County Board of Education.

    In a public statement, Melvin says that while he was running for mayor, he found himself at multiple school board meetings and saw parents ignored by the school board.

    "I have seen parents left outside and refused the right to speak. I have seen parents ignored and shrugged off. I have done my best to speak on their behalf. They have contacted me. I have been thanked and encouraged by them. I have been told they did not feel heard until I spoke up for them," Melvin said. "I set out to serve God and help the citizens of Fayetteville. In doing so, I have found parents being denied the right to be actively involved in how and what their children are taught just because they are taught in public schools. The board of education is designed to serve parents and children while balancing their serves to teachers and staff. I believe they need help to do that again."

    He is looking to run for the At-Large seat during the general election on Nov. 8. The filing deadline for this election is Aug. 5.

    He says he believes the Mayor's Office will end up with proper leadership and spoke highly of mayorial candidate Freddie Delacruz.

    Mayor Mitch Colvin, the incumbent candidate, will be running again for a third term in the upcoming primary elections. There are now four candidates who will be running against him. The candidates who filed for mayor are Clifton L. Johnson, Franco Webb, Antoine J. Miner and Delacruz.

  • Metronet Metronet, a leading 100 percent fiber optic internet provider, officially launched its network in Cumberland County. This expansion of internet services would allow for more innovation and entrepreneurship.

    “Our future-proof network has proven valuable to the cities we partner with, and we are excited to bring that opportunity to Fayetteville,” said Dave Heimbach, Metronet President and Chief Operating Officer. “Metronet is proud to support the CORE Innovation Center by providing 1 Gigabit of upload and download speeds for the next five years. Our services will allow local entrepreneurs to kick-start their businesses and promote further economic growth for the city."

    The celebratory ‘lighting” of the Cumberland County network took place at the CORE Innovation Center adjacent to FCEDC Offices. The CORE is a unique military and technology-focused accelerator offering rentable private offices, demonstration space, conference rooms and a rooftop reception space, overlooking downtown Fayetteville.

    “Advanced world-class internet access is an essential component of innovation. This connectivity is crucial for military and technological innovation, which the CORE accelerator space was developed to support,” said North Carolina Representative John Szoka. “We are thankful that Metronet is now delivering gigabit speeds to drive digital transformation within our local community, boosting the efficiency of our businesses and the productivity of our people.”

    Metronet's network across Cumberland County is under construction. When complete, the network will cover Cumberland County, including Fayetteville, Hope Mills, Linden, Wade, Stedman, Godwin, Eastover, Falcon, and Spring Lake. This build-out will also provide service to portions of Hoke County, such as the communities of Raeford and Rockfish. 

    Metronet expects that all planned areas will receive access within two years, with customers in initial construction areas now eligible for Metronet services. Those who would like to learn more about the construction process can visit construction.metronetinc.com to see the progress throughout their community.

    Cumberland County Commission Chairman Glenn Adams shared, “More than ever, our citizens are relying on fast internet to work, learn and engage. Deploying a high-speed and affordable telecommunications service is critical to help bridge the digital divide.”

    “Metronet’s infrastructure is a vital advancement for our community,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said in a press release. “We’re thrilled to become the next ‘Gigabit City.’ We also need to thank the Fayetteville Public Works Commission for their active collaboration and support in facilitating the construction process. We are grateful that Metronet chose Fayetteville and Cumberland County for their first North Carolina deployment and welcome them to our community.”

    Metronet is currently hiring for several positions in sales and operations. Individuals who are interested in joining the Metronet team can visit metronetinc.com/careers to search for positions and submit applications.

  • Valley Pavilion expansion Cape Fear Valley Medical Center will be adding two new floors on top of the Valley Pavilion section. This expansion, worth $110 million, will add 100 beds - 40 of which will be designed as ICU beds - 187 full-time positions and two rooftop helipads.

    CEO Michael Nagowski said this expansion has been an anticipated part of the health system’s long-term planning, and that the health system has been saving funds in preparation for this.

    “We recognized that we need this expansion to meet the growing needs of our community, and to provide meaningful assistance to reduce delays in our Emergency Department,” Nagowski said. “We expect that this will dramatically improve wait times in the ER.”

    The rooftop helipads were designed specifically to help emergencies, specifically because of the short distance from Fort Bragg. Currently, the hospital’s helipad is located on the front lawn.

    “Our plan is that one of the helipads will be structured to accept Blackhawk helicopters,” said Nagowski. “We want to make sure we have complete readiness if it was needed, because of our proximity to Fort Bragg.”

    The construction is expected to start in the fall and will be completed in the fall of 2024. Little Diversified Architectural Consulting and Rodgers Builders, Inc. were chosen to do the construction because they wouldn't shut down or close the entrance of the hospital or the ER while building the two stories.

    “It was a major consideration because we need to be adding onto this facility while it’s occupied,” Nagowski said. “During different phases of construction, there may be some traffic pattern adjustments around our entrances, but they will remain open. We don’t expect the project to affect traffic on Owen Drive or Village Drive at all.”

    This is the first major expansion since 2008 when the five-story Valley Pavilion opened. That expansion added 132 Acute Care beds to the hospital’s capacity, as well as new adult and pediatric Emergency Departments, Heart & Vascular Center, Bariatric Center, Women’s Pavilion, Surgical Pavilion, and Imaging department. Not counting Behavioral Health beds, the medical center currently has 524 Acute Care beds and 78 Rehabilitation beds.

  • Cumberland County School Board approved a reassignment plan for students at T.C. Berrien Elementary school Tuesday evening.

    The board voted on Plan A, which would divide the 178 students that attend T.C. Berrien Elementary School amongst Ferguson-Easley Elementary and Lucile Soulders Elementary school.

    According to Cumberland County Schools, Lucile Souders currently has 284 students with a building capacity of 400 students. This plan would add 52 students to Lucile Souders. Ferguson-Easley Elementary currently has 195 students, with a building capacity of 396 students. The reassignment plan would add 126 students to Ferguson-Easley.

    CCS Plan A WEB

    The approved plan will create the least amount of movement for students, as only those who normally attend T.C. Berrien are affected by the reassignment, according to the district.

    The district says the furthest distance that students would have to travel is 2.9 miles, compared with 9.9 miles currently to W. T. Brown Elementary.

    Some of the board members had concerns about changes in diversity and economic index for these reassignment plans. For Lucile Souders, the economic index would go down to 4.8 and 2.7 for Ferguson Easley.

    The board approved the closure of T.C. Berrien Elementary school unanimously, it will close at the end of the school year.

  • faith Beginning on Wednesday evening, March 16 and continuing until nightfall on March 17 is the Jewish holiday of Purim. (For religious purposes, Jewish days run from sunset to sundown.) Purim is the celebration of the survival of the Jews in ancient Persia, from the wicked plot of Haman, as described in the biblical “Book of Esther.”

    Perhaps the most unusual thing about this book is that it is in the Hebrew Bible of the Jews (as well as in the Old Testament of Christian scriptures) despite the fact that God is never mentioned. The book does seem to allude to God, or at least cosmic forces, acting behind the scenes, but God is never mentioned explicitly. Indeed, the rabbis in antiquity who determined which writings were sacred enough to be included officially in the Hebrew Bible they were formalizing vigorously debated the issue of its inclusion before deciding it should make the cut.

    Perhaps the reason it ultimately prevailed is precisely because God is only found there implicitly. Understandably, we would like to have obvious, incontrovertible and palpable proof of the existence of God and what God wants from us. A burning bush or the splitting of a sea might be nice. It would definitely help make our lives more certain and assured. But that’s not the nature of the daily experience for most of us.

    Faith is the recognition that there is more to our lives and the world around us than we can access directly. And this truth is found beyond the sphere of religion. How do you feel – not just infer, but feel - the care, concern or love of another human being? How do actors sense the energy of an audience in a silent, dark theater with bright stage lights in their eyes? How do we know when a sound or a sight is beautiful? How do we recognize, if we are truly honest with ourselves, whether we have acted morally or not?

    None of these are merely part of the realm of our ordinary five senses. They are not within the empirical processes with which we analyze and incorporate overt information. And yet, we all know with certainty that those intangible experiences are real. Even the ultra-rational skeptics among us live their lives, as a practical matter, as if they are genuine realities. As my doctoral studies in religious philosophy would acknowledge, there are ways to account for all of this in formal ways. But that’s not what’s important for our daily lives.

    What matters is that we open ourselves up to what is greater than ourselves and beyond what is overtly apparent to us. Our lives can be enriched by recognizing, like the “Book of Esther,” there is always much more present in our lives, contributing to them than simply the superficial. Whether in the realm of the Divine, cosmos or humanity, let us appreciate the powerful omnipresence that is just beyond the veil of our senses.

  • Walter E Dellinger III The tributes that rolled in when North Carolina lawyer Walter Dellinger died Feb. 16 were testimony that he was one of the nation’s great lawyers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He was 80.

    In an Associated Press article, North Carolina native Jonathan Drew wrote that Dellinger’s career “marked him as one of the legal giants of our era. Many remembered — and justly celebrated — him as a brilliant and prolific scholar, a titan of the Supreme Court bar, an inspiring teacher and mentor to generations of bright proteges now in elected office, federal and state government, and on the bench.

    “He was also a government lawyer whose advice was important to both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Key officials in the Biden White House sought his advice almost literally until the day he died.”

    His son, Hampton, recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an assistant attorney general in the Biden administration’s Justice Department, gave this tribute to his dad, “Walter lived a wonderful and extraordinary life. He had many loves, first among them his wife Anne but also the State and University of North Carolina, the law and the rule of law, and American democracy.”

    Several years ago I talked to Dellinger for a short North Carolina Bookwatch program recorded at Carolina Meadows in Chapel Hill, where he was living. He was working on a chapter of a memoir to be titled “Balcony Reserved for White Spectators.”
    He explained his early awareness of the unfairness of the social system in his hometown Charlotte. In the late 1950s he was working on a construction site “where only whites could be carpenters and the black men were all laborers paid $1 an hour. As I was a temporary kid, I was assigned as a laborer. I was like the token white labor on this crew.

    “What was interesting and dramatic for me was that the best carpenter by far was one of the African American men who was a laborer. He got paid as a laborer no matter what he was doing. So whenever there was a very difficult challenge to the carpentry, the on-site supervisor would ask David to take on the challenge.

    “But if anybody from company headquarters arrived on the scene, I was sometimes a lookout, David had to put down his carpentry tools. He could be an expert but couldn't be caught breaking the rigid rules. That gives you a sense of how rigid the system was.”

    Dellinger remembered his love of Black music and listening to WGIV, the Black radio station in Charlotte. “I listened to the gospel hour faithfully. They had a contest to see who could first identify a gospel song, and I knew immediately from the first three bars it was ‘Ride on King Jesus.’

    “The prize was a one-year subscription to Ebony magazine, which in the segregated South was a whole different world, particularly the advertisements where no people of color were ever in mainstream media.”
    Dellinger’s love of music led him to try to attend the Black concerts and dances at Park Center in downtown Charlotte. There is where he encountered the sign.

    He explained, “In Charlotte dances that were for African Americans [they]had a balcony reserved for white spectators, so it's sort of both literal and metaphorical the notion that I was only a spectator from the balcony on what was happening with race in the South, watching what was happening in the Black community.”

    After four years at UNC-Chapel Hill, three years at Yale Law School, and two years teaching at the University of Mississippi Law School, Dellinger was never “only a spectator” again.

    He lived and died in the middle of our country’s struggle to eliminate the unfairness the carpenter David experienced and the legacy of the customs that put Dellinger in the balcony at Park Center dances.

  • pagan games Arnette Park will play host to the second Fayetteville Pagan Games, held March 12 and beginning at 11 a.m. The Pagan Games celebrate the Pagan communities in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and the surrounding areas. This year, the games are Norse-themed, with different events focused on Norse mythology.

    “There is a large Norse Pagan community here in Fayetteville and Fort Bragg, and I knew this theme would drum up a bit more attention. It’s not Norse Pagan exclusive; anyone can jump in,” said Danny Hirajeta, the organizer of the event.

    Hirajeta explains that the Pagan Games is a way for different groups to come together. Hirajeta has been a practicing Pagan for over 20 years, but when he came to Fayetteville, he felt a disconnect between the different Pagan groups.

    “I used to have to drive up to three hours toward the coast because that was the only way I was going to be able to interact with pagans, and I thought, we should have something like [the Games] in Fayetteville,” he said.

    The first Fayetteville Pagan Games held in 2020 were Greek-themed, and Hirajeta enjoyed hosting the festivities. Initially, the idea was to center the games around the Pagan holiday Imbolc, traditionally in February. Imbolc is the celebration of the return of spring, a time when people begin to focus on new plans and a time when the earth starts to warm back up. However, the weather last time didn’t quite cooperate. The event will be held a month later than the holiday this year to ensure warmer weather.

    “We decided to push the games forward because last time it was incredibly cold and incredibly wet and a little miserable. People were falling in the mud, and everyone did think it was hilarious, but it was pretty cold. So, we decided to push it out almost a month to hopefully not have it be that way,” said Hirajeta.

    The games are a mix of physical challenges, luck-based games, skills and relays. The day will begin with an opening ceremony followed by a game called “Well of Mimir.” Runes will be placed in the bottom of a water-filled tub, and participants will be shown a rune symbol they’ll have to look for in the bottom of the tub.

    The poetry contest is a highlight of the Pagan Games along with a relay race conducted in cardboard Viking longboats. The day finishes with “Blind Archery,” based on the story of Baldr, a god thought to be indestructible. Baldr met his end when killed by Loki, an archer named Hodr the Blind and an arrow with mistletoe. Participants will blindly shoot three arrows at targets with Baldr’s image at the center. A spotter will play the part of Loki and help the blind archers find the target.

    “All of the games represent Norse mythology or stories or history. It gives the game meaning, so we aren’t just doing whatever. We have something to attach it to,” said Hirajeta.
    The general public is invited to watch the Pagan Games. Those who wish to participate can find tickets and game information at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fayetteville-pagan-games-2022-tickets-220298226927.

    Tickets to participate cost $8 in advance and $10 at the event. There will be three prize bundles and an overall champion prize bundle, with items donated from local Fayetteville stores, including Pressed NC, Garnet Skull, and Moon Garden Apothecary. The event is for anyone 18 and over.

  • Dirtbag St Paddys Before you get after your green beer, you can get your workout in on Saturday, March 12, at Dirtbag Ales. Rogue Alpha Athletics is co-hosting the third, not consecutive, because of the pandemic, St. Paddy’s Day Beer Mile and Keg Toss.

    “Participants can run, jog, walk, crawl the one mile-ish course and enjoy four ten-ounce beer straight from Dirtbag Ales onsite brewery,” according to event organizers.

    Organizers ask that all participants be sure they are checked in at noon, as the event kicks off at 12:15 p.m. Sign up is $40 plus a nominal processing fee. The event is costume and dog friendly, and there will be prizes. To purchase tickets, visit runsignup.com/Race/NC/HopeMills/UglySweaterBeerMileDirtbagAles.

    If running a mile is not your forte, fear not, Dirtbag has got you covered for the entire day. After the Beer Mile, at 12:30 p.m., music for the day will begin with a live performance by the Stone Dolls, a Southern Pines-based band.

    “They’re a fantastic trio that comes out here and plays,” explained Shannon Loper, operations manager and event and marketing coordinator for Dirtbag Ales.

    The Stone Dolls will finish their set around 4:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., the ’80s Unleashed will be on the scene and playing until 10 p.m. At this time, a Raleigh DJ, Chris Domingo, will be onsite for the Dirty Whiskey Craft Cocktail Bar will take over for the St. Paddy’s after-party.

    Need some green beer? Not to worry, Dirtbag’s Weiner Smash will be all dressed in green, but the green Weiner Smash will be a one-day-only opportunity; the brewery dresses its pints in green to order. The event will mark the annual release of Dirtbag Ales El Dorado Red, a red India pale ale, and a special small-batch brew in the Erin Go Bragh spirit, Dropkick Stout.

    As described by Loper, Weiner Smash is a Belgian blonde, “single-malt, single-hop, super basic and very light in color.” However, Weiner Smash will be markedly green for this occasion. Dirty Whiskey Craft Cocktail Bar will also be sporting a special St. Paddy’s cocktail menu with the ever-popular Irish Car Bomb made using Dirtbag Ales Cold-Brew Mocha Porter.

    Food options onsite for the event will be showing up strong as well. Napkins will be offering an Irish feature to compliment the festivities; resident food truck the Redneck BBQ Lab will be on site. In addition to the Dirtbag Ales fixtures, R Burger – Up & Coming Weekly’s 2021 Best of Fayetteville Best Food Truck — the Grazing Buffalo, Baja Dogs, Alamo Snow and from Raleigh, Beefy Buns, will all be on hand to feed the crowd. Daytime festivities are, like most Dirtbag Ales events, family-oriented. There will be face painting on offer.

    Loper said that the people make the event stand out for her each year.

    “I love the energy of the crowd. I love how everybody is excited to be out here. Everybody is here just to have a good time. I enjoy the atmosphere. The energy that comes from people that are just excited to be out here for St. Patrick’s Day,” Loper said.

  • beach music fesitval 2The Fayetteville Beach Music Festival is returning after being on a hiatus for several years. The day-long festival will be bringing beach music and family fun later this month.

    The festival is a fundraiser for the Karen Chandler Trust - a local non-profit charity that started over 20 years ago. KCT helps support local cancer patients that are currently undergoing treatment. That support ranges from helping with car rides to treatments and doctor's appointments to paying off utility bills, car payments, mortgages and rents.

    "We have given over one million dollars away to cancer patients," Mike Chandler, a founding member of KCT, said. "99.9% of all the funds raised go to cancer patients."

    Chandler helped form the Karen Chandler Trust in honor of his late sister. Karen Chandler, a mother of two and a local musician, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Local musicians held a benefit concert to raise money to help pay off medical bills while she was fighting against cancer. After she passed away in 1999 at age 44, the leftover money was used to form the KCT.

    In 2021, the KCT raised and distributed close to $150,000 to Cumberland County cancer patients.

    The benefit concerts were a tradition for many years and helped continue to raise money, but they were phased out a few years ago. Mike Chandler decided it was time to bring back the music component to fundraise, and he wants to make sure it sticks this time.

    "We are going to try and do this as an annual event. I tried to bring it back down to a local level. I wanted to bring that back," Chandler said.

    All proceeds from the festival go directly to KCT and that money will be distributed to people in the community who need it.

    To qualify to receive help from the KCT, a cancer patient must be a resident of Cumberland County and have a letter from a social worker or a medical provider confirming cancer treatment.

    The festival will take place at Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom. Chandler says he is excited to have the music festival at Dirtbag Ales as they offer plenty of parking, space, and shade, allowing everyone to pull a lawn chair up and enjoy the day.

    For Shannon Loper, the operations manager and event and marketing coordinator at Dirtbag Ales Brewery, supporting KCT as the venue for the Beach Music Festival was a no-brainer for Dirtbag Ales. The non-profit helped Loper's parents when their neighborhood put in a new sewer system, and they received an unexpected bill for a $5,000 connection fee.

    "My dad was in stage four pancreatic cancer, and obviously, cancer ruins your credit if you're not fortunate. And they did not have the money," Loper said. "PWC began repossession proceedings on my parent's house, and the Karen Chandler Trust came in and paid their $5,000 utility bill."

    All festival performers have a personal connection with the KCT, and all are local musicians. Rivermist will kick off the festival at 1 p.m. Classic Soul takes the stage at 2:15 p.m. The Martin Davis Band featuring a founding member of The Embers, Jackie Gore, will begin their performance at 3:45 p.m. Finally, the Chairmen of the Board will close out the fundraiser with their performance starting at 5:30 p.m.

    The festival will be a family-friendly affair with games, sponsor tables and bounce houses for kids. Food will also be available for purchase. The food trucks currently confirmed for the festival are Smokey's BBQ, R Burger, Ragin Rooster and 32 Degrees Ice Cream.

    "People can bring their kids, their dogs, their lawn chairs and come on out and enjoy it," Chandler told Up & Coming Weekly.

    Chandler's goal is to have anywhere from two thousand to four thousand people attend the festival.

    "Our goal is to raise $40,000," Chandler said.

    The event is being sponsored in part by Cape Fear Valley Hospital and Dragon's Lair Comics.

    The festival will take place on March 27. Gates will open at noon, and the music will start at 1 p.m. The Beach Music Festival will run until 7 p.m. General Admission to the festival is $20, and children under 12 get in for free.
    Tickets can be purchased at

    For more information about the Karen Chandler Trust, whether to donate or volunteer, call 910-578-3382 or visit their website, karenchandlertrust.com.

  • FSO BR Is this just fantasy, or is the Fayetteville Symphony playing Queen? One of the most anticipated concerts of the year is back with the FSO's "Bohemian Rhapsody" concert.

    Anna Meyer, community engagement manager for the FSO, told Up & Coming Weekly that this performance's theme has been in the works for a while. She explained that this program was initially scheduled for the 2019-2020 season, but COVID-19 canceled it.

    "We've really been waiting for this," Meyer said. "We like to have concerts that incorporate popular music that people recognize and can kind of sing-along. I think we like to do that just so people feel a little bit more involved in a concert they know."

    The FSO will be performing four classical pieces that break the stereotype of symphony music. These pieces were created with the idea that you dance and enjoy yourself. And as the title of the concert suggests, the performance of FSO's symphonic rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen will be included.

    The principal cellist during this event is local cellist Nathan Leyland. He will help conclude the evening with a performance of Antonin Dvorak's "Cello Concerto." This concerto is often noted as one of Dvorak's greatest concertos of all time. The concerto highlights a mix of folk music with the classical range of the cello.

    For Leyland, this concerto has a special place in his heart. The first symphony concert he attended was the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra in Virginia. During that concert, Steven Honigberg, a cellist and member of the National Symphony Orchestra, performed the "Cello Concerto."

    "I was in fifth grade and had just started playing the cello. I was selected to perform in a masterclass with Mr. Honigberg, and the next day we were invited to watch him play with the orchestra," Leyland said. "It's pretty wild to think that 36 years later, I am getting ready to perform this great work with my friends and colleagues in FSO."

    The symphony will be returning to the Seabrook Auditorium at Fayetteville State University for the first time since the pandemic started. The bigger auditorium means that more people will be able to attend this concert. The previous concerts for the 2022 season have been performed for around 100 people. Because of the location, this concert will be able to entertain an audience of more than 700.

    Meyer says that they have sold more tickets for this performance as well.

    The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on March 12. Tickets can be purchased online at https://ci.ovationtix.com/36404/production/1075555 or over the phone at 910-433-3690. The ticket price ranges from $5 to $25. The total concert run time will be an hour and 20 minutes.


  • elections Filing is closed for the May 2022 primaries and candidates are ready to start campaigning all over Cumberland County. Many of the races are contested — both locally and state-wide.

    Mayor Mitch Colvin, the incumbent candidate, will be running again for a third term. There are five candidates who will be running against him. The candidates who filed for mayor are Clifton L. Johnson, Freddie Delacruz, Franco Webb, Nyrell Melvin and Antoine J. Miner.

    Kathy Jensen, the incumbent candidate, will be running again for her fourth term. She is being challenged by Jose Alex Rodriquez and William Milbourne III.

    Shakeyla Ingram, the incumbent candidate, will be running against three other candidates. She is being challenged by Janene Ackles, Joseph Dewberry, James Peterson and former councilmember Tyrone Williams.

    Antonio Jones, the incumbent candidate who was recently appointed to the city council seat in December, will be running against four candidates - John Zimmerman, Mario Benavente, Kurin Keys and Bill Ayerbe.

    D.J. Haire, the incumbent candidate, will be running for his eleventh term in City Council. He is being challenged by Thomas C. Green and William Grantham.

    Johnny Dawkins, the incumbent candidate, will be facing only one other candidate at the polls. The challenger is Frederick G. LaChance III.

    Christopher Davis, the current seat holder, will be leaving his office at Fayetteville City Council in order to run for the North Carolina House of Representatives. His seat is being contested by Joy Marie Potts, Leigh Howard, Peter Pappas and Derrick Thompson.

    Larry Wright, the incumbent candidate, will be running for his fourth term. He is being challenged by Myahtaeyarra Warren and Brenda McNair.

    Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, the incumbent candidate, will be running for her second term. She is being challenged by one other candidate - Michael Pinkston.

    Yvonne Kinston, the incumbent candidate, will be running for her second term. She is being challenged by John Czajkowski, Sonya Renita Massey and Deno Hondros.

    There are two at-large commissioner seats open for the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.
    For the Democratic Ballot, there are six candidates running for the seats. Those candidates are current Commissioner Larry Lancaster, former Commissioner Marshall Faircloth, Veronica B. Jones, Ronald Pittman, Jackie Paul-Ray and Paul Taylor.
    For the Republican Ballot, State Rep. John Szoka and Ron Ross will be running.

    Ennis Wright, the incumbent sheriff, has filed for re-election. He is being challenged by Democrat Lester A. Lowe. Whoever comes out in the primary election will run against Republican Candidate LaRue Windham in the general election in November.

    On the Democratic ballot, incumbent Rep. Marvin Lucas is being challenged by Naveed Aziz. Whoever comes out in the primary election will run against Republican Candidate Gloria Carrasco in the general election in November.

    On the Democratic ballot, there are three candidates. Former State Rep. Elmer Floyd, Prince Christian and Kimberly Hardy will be running against each other.
    On the Republican ballot, incumbent Rep. Diane Wheatley is being challenged by Clarence W. Goins, Jr.

    On the Democratic ballot, there are two candidates running for this seat - Charles Smith and Terry L. Johnson Sr.

    On the Democratic ballot, there are three candidates running against each other - Fayetteville City Councilmember Chris Davis, Keith Byrd and Frances Jackson. Whoever comes out in the primary election will run against Republican Candidate Susan Chapman in the general election in November.

    On the Democratic ballot, incumbent State Sen. Kirk DeViere is being challenged by former Fayetteville City Councilwoman Val Applewhite and Ed Donaldson.
    On the Republican ballot, former State Sen. Wesley Meredith will be running against Dennis Britt.

    On the Democratic Ballot, there are four candidates running for the U.S. Representative seat. Those candidates include Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans, Charles Graham, Steve Miller and Yushonda Midgette.
    On the Republican Ballot, there are two candidates running. U.S. Rep. David Rouzer will be facing off Max Southworth-Beckwith.

    On the Republican Ballot, there are four candidates running for the seat - U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, Jen Bucardo, Mike Andriani and Francisco Rios.
    Whoever comes out in the primary election will run against Democratic Candidate State Sen. Ben Clark in the general election in November.

    The Cumberland County Board of Elections is currently looking for poll workers for the primary elections. Poll worker training starts in late March. Poll workers will be paid $25 for training and $130 for election day.

    Registered Cumberland County voters who are interested should contact Mitzie Roberts at 910-321-6603 or mcroberts@co.cumberland.nc.us.

    Early voting for the primaries begins on April 28 and ends on May 14 at 3 p.m.

    Voters can start requesting their absentee ballots on March 28. The last day to apply for absentee ballots by mail is on May 10.

    Absentee ballots must be hand delivered to the Board of Elections on May 17 by 5 p.m. If being sent by mail, absentee ballots must be postmarked and received no later than the third day after the election.

    The Primary Election is scheduled for May 17.
    Registered voters may locate their precinct on the Board of Elections website at www.cumberlandcountync.gov/elections.

  • Pitt Congratulations, gentle readers, you have survived the Rona. You have lived long enough to see the return of that most wonderful time of the year: America's favorite event, your stomach's highlight of the year, the social event that welcomes sweet springtime: The Annual Cape Fear Kiwanis Pancake Festival.

    Yes, friends and neighbors, once again, it's time to put on a happy face, plus the old feed bag and come on down to Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church conveniently located at 614 Oakridge Ave. in historic Haymount.

    This is the 48th Annual Pancake Festival put on by the Cape Fear Kiwanis. For a mere $6, you can shake off the demons of winter and the isolation of quarantines to indulge in all the pancakes and sausage that you dare to eat. All proceeds go right back into our community for various civic groups and activities. You can eat all the pancakes you like without guilt, knowing you are contributing to Cumberland County's good causes.

    During last year's bout with the Rona, the Pancake Festival only had to do drive-through orders. However, as the Rona seems to be receding into the rear-view mirror, the Pancake Festival returns to dine in and carry out.

    Dine-in and have breakfast with your friends, neighbors and total strangers who are all in excellent moods due to a collective sugar high. As we are unable to keep them out and frankly welcome their money, you will get to see local politicians of all stripes working the crowd. It is a sight to see, not to be missed.

    Here is a listing of some of the local beneficiaries of past Pancake Festivals. Bringing Up Grades, Better Health of Cumberland County, Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland County, Cape Fear Valley NICU, The Care Clinic, Catholic Charities, Dolly Parton Imagination Library, EE Smith High School Mentoring Program, Child Advocacy Center, Friends of the Cumberland County Library, Habitat for Humanity, Homeworks, five local high school Key Clubs, Lewis Chapel Builders Club, New Parent Support Diaper Program at Fort Bragg, Operation Inasmuch, Police Activity League, Safe Kids, Salvation Army, College Scholarships to four local students annually, Second Harvest Food Bank, Urban Ministry, USO, Vision Resource Center and the Westminster Church Eyeglass Program have all received grants from the Cape Fear Kiwanis Club.

    At about this time, you are probably asking yourself, "Self, what is the origin story of pancakes and some pancake factoids to dazzle my friends?" Funny, you should ask that question as the rest of the column will deal with pancakes' back story.

    Mr. Google knows the answer. None other than Ms. Betty Crocker has a history of the pancake out on the interwebs. According to Ms. Crocker, the first mention of pancakes shows up in about 600 B.C. when a Greek poet named Cratinus mentioned pancakes in a poem. In case you are in Greece and want pancakes for breakfast, ask for 'Tiganites.' You will get them with honey and walnuts. During the Middle Ages, the first three pancakes in the batch had religious significance. The three were marked with a cross and not eaten to ward off evil spirits. Evil spirits could be scared by pancakes back then. Not sure that pancakes would work now against Putin in Ukraine, but it might be worth a try.

    William Shakespeare liked pancakes as he wrote about them in his play As You Like It when Touchstone said: "a certain knight that swore by his honor they were good pancakes and swore by his honor that the mustard was naught, Now I'll stand to it, the pancakes were naught, and the mustard was good."

    The Kiwanis guarantee their pancakes will be good and totally without mustard unless you bring your own yellow condiment. Why anyone would want to put mustard on their pancakes is beyond the scope of this column. As the King of Siam once said: "It is a puzzlement."

    Some other pancake factoids: Maple syrup which graces many pancakes, was originally discovered by the Algonquin Indians. The world's biggest pancake, cooked in 1994, was 49.3 feet in diameter and estimated to contain two million calories.

    The National Geographic reports that an analysis of starch grains on grinding tools from 30,000 years ago meant that Stone Age cuisine may have included pancakes made from cattails and ferns.

    The most flips of a pancake in two minutes were 349 times by a cook named Dean Gould in England in 1995. Southerners eat the most pancakes of any group of Americans. We proudly consume 32.5% of all of America's pancakes. If you have ever driven through Myrtle Beach, you know that Highway 17 is awash with more Pancake Houses than you can shake a stick at if you were so inclined to shake such a stick at that particular type of building.

    Allow me to end with the Kiwanis' motto: "Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time."

    It is your civic duty to come out, buy and eat some patriotic pancakes. If you come hungry, you will leave happy.

    The annual Kiwanis Pancake Festival returns on March 11, from 7 a.m. to noon.

  • pub pen 3 9 Finally, we are scheduled to have a primary election on May 17. Candidate filings have faced inconvenient delays because of lawsuits over the establishment of congressional districts. These districts are also used in county and municipal elections and were redrawn using information from the 2020 Census. So, let the games (primaries) begin!

    It's been a long time since this community has seen so much activity and enthusiasm toward local elections. The many residents who have filed to serve public offices in Fayetteville and Cumberland County reflect this enthusiasm. Every one of them should be commended for their willingness to step up and be a public servant. This enthusiastic participation speaks volumes about what residents think of the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County's leadership. And, by the candidates' turnout, these folks are not giving our current public servants very high marks in leadership. Just the opposite. Citizens are frustrated and discouraged by the way our local governments are run. Dissatisfaction runs the gamut. Our local governments lack transparency in handling the allegations of incompetence and mismanagement leveled against Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins. And the reluctance of the City Council to call for an independent external investigation of former councilwoman Tisha Waddell's allegations against the mayor and several sitting council members. Suppose there is, in fact, no truth to these allegations, as Mayor Mitch Colvin contends. Then why resist the call for an independent external investigation? An independent external inquiry into Waddell's allegations would provide proof, reassurance and closure for the citizens of Fayetteville. Residents are not happy with the way current leadership is running this community, and they are losing trust and confidence in them every day and for a good reason.

    The citizens of Fayetteville and Cumberland County love and care about this community, and they witness daily what our collective elected officials choose to ignore.

    The downtown encampments filled with people without homes are seen daily by city and county elected officials, staff members and employees without acknowledgment. People are homesteading under trees in our center city and camping out in our downtown parking lots using our trees and fence posts to hang their laundry and trash bags.

    In addition, we have a homicide rate that makes us competitive for the title of murder capital of North Carolina and one of the deadliest cities in the country. But, we boast a lower rate of petty crimes. The amount of trash and litter on our streets is beginning to speak volumes about people's lack of respect for our community.

    Yes, the election period is short. Yes, candidates seeking office must work fast and hard to raise money and name recognition. And, yes, most of the incumbents have a huge advantage. I doubt any challengers will displace Mitch Colvin or many of the other city and county officials.

    However, the sheer number of candidates running for office indicates that people are not happy with the current leadership. And, those new folks who manage to win have the opportunity to provide a new and fresh leadership style that could help assure honest governance to city and county residents.

    Review the candidates carefully and do your due diligence. Because, ultimately, in the end, we will end up with the kind of leadership we deserve.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • CC Logo The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners met Monday morning to startling news — there are currently 733 children in foster care in the County — the highest number for an individual county in North Carolina. Another concerning number commissioners learned, or a number that should be larger was that Cumberland County only has 51 foster families.

    Delores Long, the assistant director of Social Services, told the board that out of the 733 children who are in foster care, 275 have been placed out of county and 42 were placed out of the state.

    “So you can see with the number of children we have out of county and out of state, there’s truly a need for foster families within Cumberland County,” Long told the commissioners.

    When asked what could possibly be the cause for the high number of foster children, Long said it largely has to do with having a large military installation in the county.

    “We have a lot of families who come here and they do not necessarily have direct, natural support here in the community. So that has the tendency to increase the number of times children have to enter foster care because they lack the natural supports in the community to prevent it,” Long said.

    The Department of Social Services is collaborating with the county for a “Not Perfect…Just Willing” campaign. This campaign aims to create more awareness for families and adults in Cumberland County to take an interest in being a foster family. The goal for Long is to raise the number of foster families from 51 to 115.

    The campaign will kick off on March 26 at the “Vax Your Vet, Vax Yourself 2.0” event.

    “To be a foster parent, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be willing,” Loren Bymer, the Deputy Public Information Director, said. “Our goal is to increase foster families within Cumberland County so we don’t have to send anyone outside our county.”

  • 7080462 Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III ordered 500 more U.S. service members to be deployed. 300 of those troops will come from Fort Bragg.

    The troops from Fort Bragg will form a modular ammunition ordnance company, according to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby. They will be heading to Germany to provide additional logistic support to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division already on the ground.

    Kirby said the movement is temporary and the added personnel are being positioned “to help reinforce and bolster deterrence and defense capabilities of the NATO alliance."

    "[We're] going to adjust our posture continuously as the conditions require. And as has noted before, we are not and will not send forces into Ukraine," Kirby said.

    Additional service members will also be coming from Fort Stewart, Georgia.

    Photo Credit: U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat, 82nd Airborne Division prepare to train with their Polish Allies at a sniper range in Nowa Deba, Poland, March 3, 2022. The 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., has been deployed to Poland as part of the strong and unremitting commitment to our NATO Allies and to deter aggression. (Photo by Sgt. Catessa Palone)

  • fayetteville logo 1024x585 Down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers could be coming to Fayetteville city employees soon.

    The City Council voted unanimously Monday to have officials look into expanding its existing Good Neighbor Homebuyer Loan Program to include all eligible city employees.

    When the program first started in 2019, the $20,000 down payment assistance was only offered to police officers.

    The council also asked officials to increase that assistance amount to $30,000 to account for rising home prices.

    As of January, the latest available data, the typical sales price for an existing single-family home in Fayetteville was $189,450, according to Longleaf Pine Realtors.

    That’s an increase of over 11% from January 2021.

    Some ZIP codes in Fayetteville, such as 28314, 28306 and 28304, saw increases approaching 20%. ZIP codes 28305 and 28312 — which both saw an increase of around 30% — have median sale prices for existing single-family homes at $243,000 and $304,504, respectively.

    “There’s been a serious appreciation of housing costs,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said at Monday’s City Council meeting, advocating for the assistance increase. “Houses are competitive … instead of it being one offer or two offers, it’s 10 offers. In order to really put them in the game, they have to put an increased down payment with the way prices have gone up.”

    The program is funded through $400,000 from the city’s general fund and from a $50,000 donation from First Horizon Bank.

    Fayetteville’s economic and community development director, Chris Cauley, said in an interview before the meeting that the program incentivizes positive community aspects in two key ways.

    “It’s about that community-oriented policing that is so important to achieve,” Cauley said. “And then it is also about relief — turning the tide from rental to homeownership. That’s one of the challenges with struggling neighborhoods. Someone’s grandmother passes away, and the grandchildren are in another state, and so they just rent the house out until they can’t rent the house anymore. That’s how a lot of neighborhoods decline over time.

    “It’s really in the city’s interest and the community’s overall to help promote positive property ownership and homeownership from a generational wealth standpoint, from a community safety standpoint and just from preservation of property tax values in those neighborhoods, keeping those neighborhoods intact.”
    If the City Council approves a presented plan to expand the program in the coming weeks, eligible city employees can apply for the assistance as soon as April, Cauley said.

    Who is eligible?
    If the program is expanded, city employees can apply for assistance if they meet certain criteria.

    Employees must have worked for the city for at least a year and received a “meets expectations” in their most recent evaluation.

    They must also be a first-time homebuyer, which the city considers as anyone who is purchasing the property, will live in the house as a primary residence and has had no ownership, sole or joint, in a residential property in the three years prior to the date of purchase.

    There are also income limitations.
    Employees and their families must have an annual household income at or below 140% of the area median income.
    In Fayetteville, that’s $58,000 for a single person, and it’s $65,700, $73,400 and $81,100, respectively, for household sizes of two, three and four people.

    Eligible city employees could purchase a home through the program only in certain neighborhoods.
    As it currently exists, the program is limited to homes in the Central Campbellton neighborhood and the Murchinson Road Corridor.

    The City Council also voted to have officials look into expanding that to four other neighborhoods — Massey HIll Community, Bonnie Doone, 71st District Community and Deep Creek.

    “They all revolve around low-income census tract areas, areas that in some programs we call hard to develop,” Cauley said. “If we’re really looking to try to create homeownership and tip the scale in our redevelopment areas, from renters to homeowners, then this is a really great program to do it.”

    How the program works
    The down payment assistance will come in the form of a five-year depreciating loan.

    That means the amount owed, in the case that the city employee decides to sell, will decrease by 20% every year over a five-year period.

    At the end of the five years, the loan, which is given at zero percent, will be considered paid in full.

    Since this is considered to be a forgivable loan by the Internal Revenue Service, employees will also have to pay taxes on the assistance since it would be considered part of their annual compensation.

    That taxable income will be spread out of the five-year period of the loan.

    Homebuyer education class
    Another part of the program’s expansion is the addition of a homebuyer education class.

    Since the program started in late 2019, Cauley said about a half dozen police officers have inquired about the program, but none have purchased a home through it.

    Cauley said that the primary reason based on feedback was that officers didn’t feel they were ready to buy a home.

    A homebuyer education class, Cauley said, could address that issue.

    “Folks just are not ready to be first-time homeowners and have been renters essentially their whole life,” he said. “Their parents could have been renters their whole life, and buying a house is a serious thing. And it’s also complicated. We wanted to put together a first-time homebuyer education class as a component of this.”

    Cauley said the city would find a certified housing counselor who would teach the potential homeowners how to navigate the homebuying process from finding a lender and real estate agent to finding a home in their price range.

    The class would also teach them how to take on the new responsibilities that come with owning a home.

    Council member Antonio Jones, who is also a real estate agent, supports this addition to the program.

    “There’s a lot that goes into buying a home, going from renting to buying,” Jones said. “The classes would definitely be beneficial because it prepares them for things that they may not have originally thought about or had to deal with on the rental side.”

    Why not others in the city?
    During Monday’s meeting, council member Shakeyla Ingram inquired about adding other occupations outside the city payroll to the program, specifically teachers and firefighters.

    Cauley said in response that significant changes would need to be made to expand the program in that fashion.

    “The legalities of that are very different than us funding our own employees,” Cauley said. “This essentially becomes the base of their compensation.”

    He also said hurdles exist to funding assistance for people who are not low income.

    “We’re very limited in what we can do outside of that moderate income for housing,” Cauley said. “That’s not to say that we couldn’t, but that would need to really be a separate council direction for us to go work on something like that.”

  • Rep. John Szoka Headshot North Carolina Representative John Szoka has filed to run for the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners At-Large seat.

    Szoka told Up & Coming Weekly that after five terms of representing North Carolina's 45th District in the state's House of Representatives, he believes it is time to come back to the county level.

    "I bring that knowledge of who I can talk to in state government to make things happen in a positive manner for our county," Szoka said. "I think more people need to go to this state first and then come back to the county one elected. I think I'll be able to help the county move forward in a faster way, perhaps than it's been."

    The biggest issues that Szoka wants to tackle, if elected, are bringing water and sewer systems to the whole county and dealing with the Grays Creek PMPA-infected water.

    "I've worked very hard on those at the state level trying to get resolution and working to get water, to clean water to the residents of Grays Creek. But really, that's a county issue," Szoka said. "So one of my priorities as a county commissioner will be to get the county commission to more than just talk about getting water out there, but actually taking effective steps to make it happen.

    He previously was running for the Congressional District 4 seat before the redistricting lawsuits were filed and the North Carolina Supreme Court drew new maps in late February. He opposed the new congressional map as it separated Fort Bragg and the Sandhills area. The new district Szoka would run for, if he wanted to go to the U.S. House of Representatives, would have been District 9, however, Rep. Richard Hudson is already running for the seat and he did not want to run against Hudson. 

    North Carolina Rep. Diane Wheatley said that Szoka's knowledge and relationships he has gained in the state legislature as well as his experience in finance and his personal work ethic will make him an outstanding member of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Wheatley and Szoka worked together in the state's House of Representatives as well as on the Cumberland County Legislative Delegation.

    "We are very fortunate that John Szoka has decided to run for County Commissioner," Wheatley told Up & Coming Weekly. "I look forward to working with John to help improve the lives of the citizens of Cumberland County."

    Other people running for the at-large seat include Commissioner Larry Lancaster, Marshall Faircloth, Jackie Paul-Ray, Paul Taylor, Veronica B. Jones, and Ron Ross.

  • Doggy Photo Cumberland County Animal Services announced that they have shown significant progress in helping the animals of Cumberland County over the last decade.

    In 2012, ten years ago, the shelter was only able to save 10% of cats and 44% of dogs that entered the facility. In 2021, the department saved more than 60% of cats and 84% of dogs.

    Some of the services that helped increase the number of animals saved included microchip scanners, adoption and the Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return program.

    “We have made great strides in ensuring that more animals are adopted from our shelter and establishing relationships with dozens of animal rescue groups to allow them to take animals from our shelter for placement,” said Animal Services Director Elaine Smith. 

    With the microchip scanners, many lost pets could be reunited with their owners without having to be admitted to the animal shelter.

    Adoptions have also increased over the past four years due to many events, both at the shelter and around the community. Adoption fees were also reduced, which helped in getting more animals adopted.

    The Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return program, implemented in 2019, has sterilized nearly 1,800 cats. Animal Services says this has helped prevent more than 11,500 kittens from entering the community. Residents can trap feral cats and bring them to the shelter, where the cats are sterilized and vaccinated before being returned to where they were trapped. 

    “We need people in the community to help us by adopting pets, by reporting animal abuse, and by volunteering at our shelter,” Smith added. “This is not something we can do alone.”

    Animal Services is hosting a mobile adoption event on Saturday, March 5 at the Petsmart off Ramsey Street. The event will start at 10 a.m. 

    To see animals available for adoption and learn more about volunteer opportunities at Cumberland County Animal Services, visit cumberlandcountync.gov/departments/animal-services-group/animal-services or call 910-321-6852.

  • 05 FOrt Bragg sign Fort Bragg has lifted the indoor face mask mandate for all vaccinated individuals.

    According to new Defense Department guidance, indoor mask requirements will not be required for installations in counties where the CDC COVID-19 Community Level is considered to be medium.

    Previously, all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, were required to wear a face mask inside. Now only unvaccinated members are required to wear a face mask when indoors.

    Womack Army Medical Center, the Fort Bragg Intrepid Spirit Center, Fayetteville Rehabilitation Center, Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center, Fort Bragg pharmacies, the pharmacy annex and all Fort Bragg dental facilities will still be requiring face masks.

  • Woodpeckers Release Party The Fayetteville Woodpeckers will be kicking off their 2022 season in April with a game on April 8 in Kannapolis, but will quickly be returning home to Segra Stadium on April 12 to go against the Salem Red Sox team.

    Single-game tickets for the first half of the season will be available for purchase starting on March 12. The Woodpeckers will be hosting a ticket release party from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 12 at Segra Stadium. Plenty of activities are scheduled for the ticket release party. Families can play catch in the outfield, take some swings in the batting cages, or enjoy the Kids Zone. They will also have a variety of prizes that can be won and food available for purchase. Fans can also gear up for the 2022 season by browsing and buying new merchandise in The Birds’ Nest Team Store.

    Tickets can be purchased online starting March 14 at 9 a.m. Tickets for the home games in July, August and September will be available for purchase in May.

     For more information on ticket purchases, call the Woodpeckers front office at 910-339-1989 or visit www.fayettevillewoodpeckers.com.

    Minor League Spring Training officially started on Feb. 28 at the Astros Spring Training complex in West Palm Beach, FL.


  • faith 3 2 There are only a handful of contacts on my phone I’ve added photos to. And when Jeff’s picture popped up on a recent Saturday evening, I was excited to get the call.

    We became quick friends after meeting nearly 20 years ago and have shared meals, prayers and conversations through some of the highest and lowest points of life during that time. I have several friends who attend the church Jeff pastors just outside town, about 30-miles from my home on the other side of town, and though he’s a good teacher and leader, the drive has always been enough to keep me in a church a little closer to home.

    I can honestly say I don’t remember why Jeff called that night. Like any good friend, the conversations typically go down several roads, and we’re more likely to stop when one of us reaches home, work or the checkout line than arrive at the end of the conversation. One thing we share is a particular affection for contemporary Christian music. Not just what’s out today; we often cite bands, songs and artists who found a place in the collective heart of Christian culture across several decades.

    On this recent Saturday night, when Jeff called, I had just finished listening to a YouTube recording of an album that took me back to a time shortly after I began my journey with Christ. It was a live album from the group Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart – a ‘too-many-guitars-to-count’ Christian rock band from the 1980s. At the time, the music drew me in; as a new Christian, rock music spoke to me from a place I understood. But there was something else about the live recording. Somewhere near the end of the concert, the band fell into this simple groove, and Mylon began to speak. In his slow, southern drawl, he talked about the importance of opening and reading the Bible. He continued talking about his relationship with God – a God with whom he had frequent conversations. I may not have realized it at the time, but this would become instrumental in my walk of faith. I had listened to that album – and Mylon’s message – so many times back then that the thought of knowing and becoming so familiar with God by reading His word, praying and listening became a foundation in my life.

    As I unfolded that memory for Pastor Jeff in our phone call, I said, “…that’s why it’s so important to tell our story. There’s always someone listening that understands the language.” Not missing a beat, Jeff told me he was getting the men in his church to be more engaged with one another and invited me to speak at an upcoming breakfast.

    When the morning came, I left early enough that the sun was in my eyes nearly the whole way. I grew agitated as I squinted to see traffic lights and lane markings, but then, as I turned north and the sun was off to the side, there was a line from a song stuck in my head from church a few days earlier: “Your mercies are new … as surely as the morning comes.” My agitation quickly faded into thankfulness in that moment. God’s goodness and faithfulness have carried me through good and bad times, and it’s still that familiarity I learned when Mylon shared his story in a language I understood, which led me to and keeps me in a place of trusting God through all of it. The transformation continues daily. This is the story I’ll tell.

  • Fitness There are two tests that fitness professionals often use to check the state of exertion in a group class setting or when personal training. The two tests are the Talk Test and the Borg Rating RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). Both tests are easy to learn and helpful when determining your level of exercise intensity.

    Have you ever heard a fitness instructor or personal trainer ask how you are doing? If you have heard that question, the trainer or instructor is looking for an audible response showing your exercise level. The basis of this measure is that the harder you work, the more breathless you become. The technical term is Ventilatory Threshold or (VT1). If you are exercising at a light-to-moderate intensity and can talk comfortably, you are below VT1 intensity. As you increase exercise, your breathing frequency rises, your blood lactate accumulates faster and talking becomes increasingly limited. Test results range from VT1, moderate intensity, to VT2, the highest exercise intensity.

    The average person exercising is not looking for VT2 sustainability and can recognize when they have reached their maximum output and decrease their intensity. Being aware of how you are breathing is a good sign. An example would be walking or jogging while talking with a friend. Your conversation flows at a comfortable pace. Your terrain begins to change slightly, and now you are approaching a small hill or incline. Talking becomes a little more challenging, but you are not taxed to complete sentences. The slope you are on has become a tough hill or picked up your pace. Your small talk at this point becomes more difficult, and your conversation is becoming limited to a few, one or no words.

    If you are working out by yourself and you know you can sing along with the song you are listening to, you are at a moderate or lower pace. That song gets harder to sing as you progress, and your level intensifies. You are at your max when you can only listen and cannot sing along.

    It does not take the direction of an exercise professional to know when you are reaching your maximum. Another scale for monitoring a level of exercise intensity is the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). The scale level rates from 0 to 10, with 0 at nothing and 10 at intense exertion. A person exercising at a level 3 or 4 would be considered a moderate-intensity rate. A seven on the scale would be just above your VT1 and considered strong. It is a subjective way to quantify your overall feelings and sensations while exercising. As you exercise, you may begin to sweat or feel a difference in your breathing, and as intensity increases, you may start to experience fatigue.

    A doctor may recommend that you use the RPE versus your heart rate because certain medications can cause functional and structural changes in the cardiorespiratory system and could affect a person’s maximum heart rate. Being aware of how your body reacts to exercise is essential to know what feels good and what does not and can help avoid injuries. As you become familiar with both scales, it will help you assess your intensity levels. Knowing when to increase and decrease your level of intensity will be a valuable tool in improving your overall fitness. Live, love life with health and movement.

  • St Avold A bond that began to form in the early 1980s and solidified in the early 1990s is finding life again nearly four decades after making the first connections. The Lafayette Society has handed the reins of Fayetteville's International Sister City over to a new organization, the Fayetteville Saint Avold Friendship Alliance (FSAFA).

    Saint Avold is situated in the Lorraine region of northeast France and is just seventeen miles from the border of Germany. The town is just south of the largest World War II cemetery, the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial. This location is considered American soil, and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) oversees its operations. ABMC, created by executive order in 1923, is an agency of the federal government's executive branch. On this land, an ocean and many miles away, a son of Fayetteville is buried, a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, Pfc. William M. Shaw, Jr. Shaw was killed in action overseas on September 12, 1944. His sister Gillie Revelle, who is nearing 90 years old, is still in Fayetteville, explained FSAFA President Kris Johnson. Johnson sits at a large wooden desk in Town Historian Bruce Daws' office at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum. On the desk in front of her is a vintage diplomat-style briefcase circa possibly the early 1990s full of display board photos from Saint Avold events and displays in the past. This briefcase symbolizes the passing of the baton for the Sister City Program to FSAFA. Former Lafayette Society President Hank Parfitt passed these items on to Johnson when she stepped up to reinvigorate the connection between Fayetteville and Saint Avold.
    Johnson has quite a tale about the long-standing relationship between the two cities.

    The program began with the late Martha Duell, former Lafayette Society president and described by Johnson as "a true ambassador" for Fayetteville. Duell caught wind of a repair needed for a statue of the Marquis de Lafayette in Lorraine in 1981 and offered support. This act of support on Duell's part sowed the seeds of connection. When a delegation of bicyclists from the Lorraine region began to plan a trip to cycle from Washington D.C. to Fayetteville in 1986, it was recommended they reach out to Duell. In addition to the cycle trip, the group contacted the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial for help identifying a North Carolina soldier buried there, one they might be able to honor during their trip. The cemetery superintendent gave them Shaw's name. With approval from the cemetery, they collected soil from Shaw's grave. The bicyclists mixed this soil with sand from Omaha Beach in Normandy. When they arrived in Fayetteville, with Shaw's family in attendance, they spread the soil and sand at the marker in Cross Creek Cemetery that honors Fayetteville's "sons who never returned home from the war," explained Johnson.

    This act of kindness and connection was Duell's inspiration to connect Fayetteville and Saint Avold. On September 27, 1993, former Fayetteville Mayor J.L. Dawkins and the City Council signed a resolution uniting the two International Sister Cities. In 1994, Saint Avold renamed the street in front of the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial, Avenue de Fayetteville. Over the years, groups of people from both cities have visited in delegations to maintain the relationship and uphold cultural exchange.

    Students in Cumberland County Schools have participated in pen pal programs with Saint Avold. And in 1997, signs were posted along Interstate-95 declaring the cities' sisterhood.

    Johnson feels the time has come to reconnect and reinvigorate the program.

    The first event for the newly founded group was a trip to see an Alphonse Mucha exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, followed by a lunch at French restaurant La Coquette. FSAFA is not stopping there. It has many more events in the planning stages for the upcoming year.

    The group, which is a nonprofit working to gain their 501(c) designation, uses funds for two functions, education and administration. Sales from a published book of Shaw's letters home during WWII, "Letter's to Home, a Soldier's Story," helps support FSAFA's educational pursuits. Proceeds from an upcoming yard sale will support their administration costs.

    This yard sale has been dubbed the first annual Great French-American Yard Sale and is scheduled for March 12. It will be held at 121 Devane St. from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The yard sale will have a variety of furniture, housewares, kitchen and cookware, home décor and much more.

    In addition to the Great French-American Yard Sale, plans are in the works for a French cheese and wine tasting event and a possible French cookery and baking class at Fayetteville Technical Community College.

    FSAFA membership for this first year is free, and dues will be a nominal fee moving forward.

    Memberships will include discounted group rates for events and outings. Interested parties are encouraged to reach out to the group by emailing faync_saintavold@yahoo.com or like the Facebook page, Fayetteville – Saint Avold Friendship Alliance.

  • Something ominous and ugly is active in our nation once again, and it is vicious.

    It is not new. In fact, it was birthed before we were a nation and stems from our nation’s original sin, slavery. It is something we have been loath to talk about publicly for nearly half a century. However, events and personalities in recent years have loosened tongues, and now some among us are once again showcasing America’s hideous underbelly. They are demonstrating — and in some instances with great pride — American racism.

    Some people — we know not who—have kicked off 2022 by making bomb threats to historically black colleges and universities in at least 11 states and Washington, DC. Just last month, both Fayetteville State and Winston-Salem State Universities received bomb threats on the same day. No explosive devices were found on either campus, though FSU did suspend operations while officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies investigated. It is important to remember that these colleges and universities operate to educate students with the same purpose as all other institutions of higher learning.

    Bomb threats against HBCUs are hardly the only racist behaviors currently directed at minorities in the United States. Hate crimes against Black people have increased by 40% since 2019, according to FBI data and by a horrifying 70% against people of Asian heritage over the same period. Anti-Semitic hate crimes have also risen, though not as dramatically; such offenses account for nearly 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes. If this is not shocking enough, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland says that many hate crimes are never reported at all, so hate crimes are under-counted.

    Historians have yet to define this hateful period in our history. Still, chances are they will eventually write about segments of the American population that fear change from life as they have known it.
    After the American Civil War, elements against change expressed themselves through the Ku Klux Klan and other fear-mongering organizations, through Jim Crow laws intended to disenfranchise African Americans, and, more recently, through private schools known as segregation academies and the John Birch Society and other such organizations. Such groups promote a highly sanitized version of American history in which our darker behaviors and beliefs were and are rarely mentioned. If some aspect of our past or current reality does not jive with their worldview, it did not exist.
    We live in a pluralistic society with a highly mobile population, which is not going to change. Like all history, it will continue to evolve, whether some of us like it or not. The America that some people idealize never really existed, so there is nothing to which to return. We can only move forward.

    When FSU shut down for the bomb scare, leaving its men’s and women’s basketball teams adrift with nowhere to play their visiting Claflin University opponents that evening on Senior Night, FSU Chancellor Darrell Allison reached out to Methodist University. Within hours, the Broncos and their visitors and fans of both teams were in the MU arena playing ball and cheering on the teams. Said Allison to those in the arena, “If the motive [of the bomb threat] was to send a message of hate based on race, those responsible lost, they lost in a big way. What evil and hatred would like to do to cause division only made us stronger in greater unity.”

  • Dismas Charities The North Carolina Court of Appeals published a decision Tuesday deciding that the City of Fayetteville should have approved Dismas Charities' permit request to build a halfway house in Downtown Fayetteville.

    Dismas Charities Inc., of Louisville, Kentucky, wanted to build a 14,339 square foot, 100-bed halfway house for federal prisoners at 901-905 Cain Road. Dismas Charities is a private company contracted by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to operate residential reentry centers. The BOP has the authority to place inmates in reentry halfway houses to serve the remainder of their sentences which it says is normally six months to a year. If built as proposed, the Cain Road institution would have been the company’s largest center.

    However, the City of Fayetteville denied the permit by a 5-4 vote based on its conclusion that Dismas did not meet its burden of production to show that its use met a certain standard in the City’s ordinance which requires a showing that the special use sought “allows for the protection of property values and the ability of neighboring lands to develop the uses permitted in the zoning district.”

    The firm appealed, and on Sept. 3, 2020, Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Tally affirmed the city council’s decision.

    However, the appeals court concluded that the superior court should have conducted a de novo review, rather than applying the whole record test, to determine whether Dismas met its burden of production. Based on the appeals court's de novo review, Dismas did meet its burden of production. The court found that there was no competent, material, substantial evidence offered to counter Dismas’ evidence. Therefore the Court decided that the City Council was required to approve Dismas’ permit application.

    "Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the superior court and remand with instructions to remand to the City Council to approve Dismas’ permit request," the appeals court opinion read.

  • Fort Bragg experienced phone outages between Monday and Wednesday, but all lines appear to be operational now.

    "Throughout the outage, the emergency 9-1-1 system was operational, and most personnel on post were able to telephone other on-post personnel. Additionally, staff members on base were able to use alternate means of communication such as Microsoft Teams and mobile phones to continue to meet mission requirements," according to a spokesperson from the 7th Signal Command.

    Womack Army Medical Center was one of the buildings on base that was having phone issues, causing issues for patients to make appointments, fill in prescriptions, and call the nurse line. However, phone lines are back up at Womack and are functioning.

    This article was updated on March 3 at 1 p.m.

  • Fayetteville New SignsA newly redesigned city seal won’t be official quite yet.

    The City Council unanimously voted Monday to delay documenting a description of the new design in favor of making slight changes.
    In late December, the council incorporated the new seal as an official insignia for the council, to be used for official Fayetteville documents, ceremonies and other uses.

    If not delayed, Monday’s vote would have changed an ordinance to alter the official description of the city seal to describe the new one, which shows the image of a star with the text “CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE NORTH CAROLINA” surrounding it.

    Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen made a motion to return the city seal to the design team to possibly remove the “CITY OF” text.

    The old seal contained an image of downtown’s Market House, a controversial landmark that saw demonstrations during 2020’s George Floyd protests due to its early history. While the site at the original city center had many uses for political meetings and conducting business transactions, this sometimes included slave trades.

    Protests lead to future changes to Market House

    In the days after Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in late May 2020, protests around the Market House escalated. Two people set fire to the landmark in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy it. Damage from the fire and sprinklers has been repaired, and the arson suspects have been charged.

    Protests continued around the landmark throughout the summer of 2020, with calls for police reform.

    In the aftermath of the protests, not only did the council vote to change the seal but considered relocating the Market House entirely last April.

    However, the relocation, priced at $2 million, proved too costly for the council to approve, according to minutes from the meeting.

    Instead, the council voted 9-1 to direct city officials to make plans for repurposing the landmark.

    Council member Courtney Banks-McLaughlin voted against the plan. Earlier in the meeting, she moved to relocate the Market House, but the action failed when no other council member made a required seconding motion.

    The repurposing of the landmark entails many options such as widening the occupied space to overtake the center roundabout lane or reclaiming the square entirely.

    This enlarged space could accommodate art exhibits that display Black history, according to a presentation to the council. There could also be vendors each month, with a focus on Black farmers, entrepreneurs and artists.

    As a part of that vote in April, the council tasked the city’s Human Relations Commission to engage with citizens to determine how to repurpose the Market House.

    The council has also sought guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice. A DOJ report is expected to be presented to the council in the coming months.

    Currently, the inner traffic circle around the landmark contains a mural that reads “Black Lives Matter End Racism Now.”

  • pexels anna shvets 3786126 Masks are now optional on school buses for Cumberland County Schools. This comes as new guidance was passed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend masks but not require them.

    Shirley Bolden, the director of CCS Health Services, shared this information as part of a COVID-19 update during the Student Support Services Committee meeting today.

    Bolden reinstated that COVID-19 policies are still in place to include screening, physical distancing, encouraging virtual meetings, utilizing isolation rooms, recommending masking.

    The Cumberland County School district has partnered with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and MAKO Medical to provide free screening for students and employees. Students and staff can register for weekly testing at their school. Participation in the MAKO testing is voluntary and requires registration through MAKO. To learn more and register, visit the district's COVID-19 Testing for Students and Employees webpage.

  • Spring Lake Logo The Spring Lake Board of Aldermen met Tuesday evening, Feb. 28, to discuss the town's finances.

    Susan McCullen, director of the Fiscal Management Section of the Local Government Commission, gave an update and answered some of the Aldermen's questions on the town's financial plan.

    Last year, the Local Government Commission took control of the town's finances after investigations were launched involving missing money and concerns about budget deficits. As a result, Spring Lake has a fiscal accountability agreement with the Local Government Commission, an enhanced monitoring strategy they use to monitor the town's finances.

    According to McCullen, Spring Lake still has a fiscal accountability agreement and has not established an exit strategy. An exit strategy would include a plan for the board, the manager and the finance staff to regain control of finances.