• Do you have a favorite car wash/stylist/restaurant? Do you just love a particular nonprofit orgBOF2019VOTENONOMS resizeanization/entertainment venue/veterinarian? Now is your chance to tell us about it. Once a year, we reach out to our readers through our Best of Fayetteville readership survey to ask what you love most about this area.

    We don’t pre-sell advertising to promote or nominate specific businesses and organizations for Best of Fayetteville. But we do encourage them to promote themselves and encourage their friends, family and customers to vote in Best of Fayetteville.

    We do not sell or require businesses or organizations to participate with advertising purchases in pre-contest special sections to get their business officially printed on the ballot.

    We do not have pre-ballot advertising sales.

    After the survey is complete and the ballots are tallied, there is only ONE winner in each category. The winners are given the opportunity to purchase advertising/marketing programs to thank their customers and supporters and to market and brand their companies, capitalizing on and taking advantage of their Best of Fayetteville achievement.

    Voting lasts through May 24. Visit http://uandc.brainboxdev.com/ and fill out a ballot online. Or, find a paper edition of Up & Coming Weekly and fill out the ballot and mail it in.

    Once all the votes are counted, we throw a big party congratulating the winners, and we publish an entire issue celebrating them that resides on our website and in businesses all year long.

  • Sebrina Wilson Jack Britt softball coachSebrina Wilson has been the varsity softball coach at Jack Britt High School since the school opened its doors in 2000, so she knows a thing or two about the sport.
    As she readies her team for this weekend’s state 4-A championship series with Western champion South Caldwell at North Carolina State University’s Dail Softball Stadium in Raleigh, she admits a state championship run wasn’t in her thinking when the season started.
    Britt, the No. 8 seed in the 4-A East, is 23-5 overall.
    South Caldwell was the No. 2 seed in the 4-A West and is 28-2.
    In the MaxPreps rankings, South Caldwell and Britt are No. 2 and No. 12 respectively in North Carolina. In 4-A, South Caldwell is No. 1 and Britt No. 3.
    South Caldwell swept Richmond Senior 2-0 in the Western 4-A series. Britt was 0-3 against Richmond this Carlie Myrtle Jack Britt softballseason, which won the regular-season title in the Sandhills Athletic Conference.
    South has a 25-game winning streak, last losing 7-1 to 3-A softball finalist Alexander Central.
    Britt has won five in a row since falling for the third time to Richmond Senior 7-2 in the Sandhills Conference tournament. 
    It was having to play in that tough league that gave Wilson some pause entering the season, even though she had a good mix of talented newcomers and solid veterans returning.
    Looking back, Wilson said that tough run in the Sandhills Conference prepared Britt for its battles in the state playoffs. But there was something that may have been bigger than that behind Britt’s success.
    “Just last year, they will admit to you it was more their attitude that kept them from winning,’’ Wilson said of her team. “The biggest thing is we’re playing for each other. I think any team that gets to this point, you have to be able to play for each other.’’
    The biggest area of improvement Wilson has seen in the postseason is defense. “We’ve cleaned up a lot of the little miscues we’ve had,’’ she said. “When we would have them before, we would let them compound and lead us to another one. Right now we’re battling out of them.’’
    If one player has been the key to the Britt turnaround, it’s probably freshman pitcher Carlie Myrtle. A veteran of travel ball and the tutelage of her dad, former Methodist University baseball All-American and Britt assistant coach Joe Myrtle, Myrtle is 19-5 and has limited opponents to a .243 batting average.
    She has recorded 128 strikeouts in 152.2 innings while walking 23 for an earned run average of 2.57. She has already committed to play college softball at the University of North Carolina.
    “Carlie has put together a solid season on the mound,’’ Wilson said. “By no means is she going to step up and strike everyone out. Our defense has finally learned they have to step up and play behind her.’’
    Myrtle knows she’s not a strikeout pitcher, but feels there are other aspects of her game that make her effective on the mound.
    “I feel like I have good spin rates,’’ she said. “If I can get the pitch to move like I need it to, I can get the batter to hit it poorly and not get full connection on the ball. That way, it leads to a popup or a ground ball that I know my defense can get to.’’
    Myrtle has experience playing at N.C. State and likes the facility. “I know the ball bounces true and doesn’t have many bad hops,’’ she said.
    Myrtle is also one of the team’s batting leaders with a .500 average that includes 34 RBIs, 11 doubles, two triples and five home runs.
    Another hitting leader is senior Kassady Hardee, who hit .427 with 28 RBIs, 11 doubles and five homers.
    “I’m super proud of us,’’ Hardee said. “We’ve all worked together, really meshed into a family. I think that’s what’s gotten us so far. If one person strikes out we go and pick them up and make sure they’re okay so we can stay in the game. I think that’s our key this year, us being one.’’
    Wilson doesn’t know a lot about South Caldwell, Britt’s finals opponent, except the Spartans are young like her Buccaneer team. “We’re almost like a mirror image having young kids playing so many vital roles for our programs,’’ she said. “We’re going to come in and try to hit the ball and they’re going to come in and try to hit the ball. It’s who can play the best defense.’’
    Britt and South Caldwell will share the N.C. State field with the 1-A championship series between Louisburg and Alleghany.
    Britt’s first game is Friday at 5 p.m. with South Caldwell as the home team. The teams will return to the field Saturday at 11 a.m. with Britt as the home team.
    If a third game is needed, it will be at 5 p.m. Saturday. South Caldwell, as the higher overall seed, would be home for that game.
    Tickets are $8 for Friday’s game with no re-entry. Tickets to the Saturday session all-day are $12 with re-entry allowed. If there is a third game in the series you can purchase a single-game ticket for $8.
    Britt fans are urged to arrive early for the game. There is permanent seating at N.C. State for about 500 fans and roughly another 200 spaces for fans who bring their own chairs. 
    Photos, from top: Sebrina Wilson, Carlie Myrtle
  • 20 Nyielah NickNyielah Nick


    • Baseball/Track

    • Sophomore

    Nick has a 3.75 gradepoint average. In addition to basketball and track, she is active in ROTC and Find a Friend.





    20 Zaryen McGilvaryZaryen McGilvary


    • Indoor and outdoor track

    • Sophomore

    McGilvary has a 3.6 grade point average. In addition to track, McGilvary is active in ROTC.

  • 19 Freedom chris basFreedom Christian Academy’s softball team won its second North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2-A softball championship in three years last week, again on its homefield, winning three straight games in the double elimination round of the state tournament.

    Freedom was the No. 2 seed in the tournament and didn’t have to play a game on the road, beating Calvary Day School 10-0 in the opening round before play moved to Freedom for the rest of the tournament. Freedom beat No. 3 seed Rocky Mount Academy 13-2, then downed No. 1 seed Fayetteville Christian 3-1.

    Rocky Mount came out of the loser’s bracket after eliminating Fayetteville Christian 3-2, then Freedom clinched the title with a five-inning 11-1win over Rocky Mount in the final game.

    Haley Nelson got the win in the championship game, allowing three hits and one run in five innings while recording six strikeouts and yielding three walks.

    Rocky Mount led briefly at 1-0 before Molly Montgomery homered to give Freedom a 2-1 lead. Montgomery singled home two more runs later in the game.

    Kendall MacCauley also tripled to drive in two more runs for the Patriots.

    Nelson, Montgomery and Lexi Little made the NCISAA 2-A All-State team for Freedom. Chosen from Fayetteville Christian were Destiny Smith, Olivia Nieto and Morgan Hatchell.

    • NC Spurs will hold a basketball camp featuring Fayetteville Academy basketball coach Bill Boyette. The camp is for boys and girls 8-12 and 13-18 and will be held July 9-13 at Fayetteville Academy from 9 a.m. until noon each day. The cost is $200 per student and includes player evaluation. 

    For information, call Jimmy Maher at 910-580-5643 or visit www.ncspurs.com/basketball.

    NC Spurs will also hold an elite training camp for soccer July 19-21. Sessions for U10-U13 will be held 9 a.m. until noon and for U14-U18 from 5p.m. to 8 p.m. The camp will be directed by Shaun Maher, 14-year professional player with various teams in England and Ireland.

    The camp is for boys and girls, high school players from freshman to senior and travel players ages 10-18. Players will be grouped by age and playing ability. Goalkeeper training will be provided using the new sidekick, which can beviewed at www.seattlesportsciences.com.

    The cost is $225 and includes player evaluation. For more information, visit www.ncspurs.com or call Maher at the number given previously.

    Summer soccer camps are also scheduled June 25-29 and July 16-20. Camp hours are 9 a.m. until noon daily. Ages are 4-15 with players grouped by ability. Goalkeepers will also train with the sidekick device. Cost is $170 per player.

    Fayetteville Academy soccer coaches Jimmy Maher and Andrew McCarthy will work at both soccer camps.

  • 17 CharlieCharlie Daniels is a name most people in this part of the country instantly recognize. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a corner of this nation where people are not at least familiar with the titan of country music and his smash 1979 country rock single, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” June 1, The Charlie Daniels Band brings the Southern Uprising Tour to North Carolina for one night to play a show at Fayetteville’s CrownTheater.

    Daniels is 81 years old this year, but he shows no signs of slowing down. Since his self-titled, debut album was released in 1971, Daniels has been zig-zagging all over the United States. In all that time, he has fallen in love with America over and over. When asked what his favorite place is to visit while out on the road, Daniels said, “I love it all. I love this nation. I like to play anywhere I can get grits for breakfast.” He laughed and continued, “Give me a stage and a room full of people, and I’m ready to rock.”

    For Daniels, North Carolina is home. He was born in 1936 in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the state remains a source of inspiration for him. “That’s where my dream started,” he said. While he was a teenager in North Carolina, he learned his first three-chord song on guitar. “I learned to play on an old guitar. Once I could play the G/C/D chords, I could play a whole song, and that was the most exciting thing to happen to me. After I learned those three chords on a guitar, I wanted nothing more than to be a professional musician. All of that started back there in Carolina.”

    The Charlie Daniels Band is not alone on the Southern Uprising Tour. The Marshall Tucker Band, longtime friends of Daniels, is also on the bill.

    Daniels reminisced about the time he met The Marshall Tucker Band: “I met Marshall Tucker Band in about 1973 or ’74. We were playing a show together in Nashville.”

    Daniels said he walked into their dressing room and made a joke about their junior high school in Spartanburg, South Carolina. “Big ole smiles broke out on their faces,” he said. “We just hit it off. ”The two bands have been frequent tour companions ever since.

    Daniels promises the people of Fayetteville and the surrounding areas a great show. He has built his career on entertaining his audiences. When asked if he would like to say anything to the people of Fayetteville, he said, “Come let us entertain you. That’s what we’re about. From the time we hit the stage to the time we leave, that’s what we do. Playing music is a pure joy to us, but it wouldn’t be a joy if it weren’t for you.”

    The Southern Uprising Tour marks the end of the 82nd season of Community Concerts in Fayetteville. Community Concerts prides itself in bringing notable entertainment to the community. The organization also awards college music scholarship seach year to promising local high school graduates.

    Community Concerts also produces the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame.This year’s inductees to the Hall of Fame are Buck Hodge, the minister of music at Northwood Temple Church, and Bill Ayerbe of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra.

    Tickets for The Charlie Daniels Band with The Marshall Tucker Band at the Crown Theater range in price from $35 to $100 and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased online at www.CapeFearTix.com or by phone at 888-257-6208. Additionally, tickets can be purchased at the Crown Complex Box Office and the Leisure Travel Office located on Fort Bragg. The concert is scheduled for Friday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m.

  • 14 Hope Mills signsThinking about putting up a sign to advertise something in Hope Mills? Do yourself and the town a favor by checking first with Chancer McLaughlin, development and planning administrator for the town. You could save his department and yourself some headaches.

    McLaughlin and his staff oversee the good, the bad and the ugly of the signs that pop up all over Hope Mills. They recently sent out a mailer to all the businesses in town with a refresher on what is and isn’t allowed by the town’s sign ordinance.

    That ordinance takes up about 14 typed pages. Why so much reading material? McLaughlin said it’s because there’s a lot of ground to cover.

    McLaughlin said the sign ordinance stretches to14 pages not because there are so many different signs, but because the rules covering how different signs are regulated tend to be layered.

    Since a person or a business may only be looking at one type of sign to install, McLaughlin said there may be only a couple pages in the sign ordinance that apply specifically to them.

    If there’s one sign McLaughlin said the town is most likely to have a problem with, it’s what’s called a flag sign.

    Flag signs are portable or moveable signs not meant to be permanently attached to the ground or a building. Sometimes businesses use flag signs, and that’s where problems arise.

    “The sign ordinance allows flag signs for the grand opening of a business for a period of a week,’’McLaughlin said. “You can’t have a flag sign that’s a permanent attachment.

    “In addition to providing information about the sign ordinance, the mailer the town recently sent out to local businesses about signs alerted the businesses that Hope Mills plans to become more aggressive in its handling of violations.’’

    But McLaughlin and his staff haven’t exactly been ignoring the sign issue in Hope Mills. At least every other Friday, and sometimes more often if they notice an increase in illegal signs, McLaughlin and his co-workers do sign sweeps of Hope Mills.

    Normally, McLaughlin said, his team divides the town into quadrants,focusing on the commercial areas, and take one quadrant each Friday of a sweep. Their aim is to cover the whole town in the space of one month. On some days, they’ll tackle a larger area.

    While on these tours they also try to educate people they encounter on what signs they can and can’t use.

    He noted nearly all the signs you see posted on public right of ways advertising various small businesses are against the rules.

    On some weekends, McLaughlin said, his team picks up as many as 60 signs. And the sweeps continue.

    “As fast as we keep picking them up, they keep putting them down,’’ he said. “We have to be very consistent with continually putting the message out there.’’

    If you have questions about what signs are legal and illegal, contact McLaughlin’s office at 910-426-4103.

  • 13 FTCC MeredithFayetteville Technical Community College’s 56th commencement exercises on May 18 at the Crown Coliseum represented the first year in the history of the college where students in the graduating class divided into two groups to participate in separate ceremonies, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Each ceremony recognized specific program areas. The change was made primarily for the convenience of FTCC students and their family members. Fayetteville Tech celebrated with a record number of graduates during the combined ceremonies: 2,498 curriculum/credit graduating students; 5,797 associate degrees/certificates/diplomas; 315 High School Connections students; and 210 adult high school students.

    The staff at FTCC are grateful to the honorable Sen. Wesley Meredith, who served as commencement speaker and delivered a unique message to the graduating class – a message of hope, perseverance and success. It’s a message shared by many FTCC students who turn to the school in search of higher education, leading ultimately to a path for success.

    Meredith shared his personal story about how he earned an associate’s degree from Fayetteville Tech in horticulture technology and was better equipped to handle the challenges of owning, sustaining and growing his lawn care business. He reminded students that the road of life following graduation would not always be smooth and easy, and dedication and perseverance would always be required – not only for graduates seeking to become entrepreneurs but also those who plan to work for an employer or continue their education.

    Meredith represents an excellent role model for our college graduates in that he not only succeeded in developing and growing his business as a community college graduate, he also demonstrated his appreciation for the community he loves by serving the citizens of Cumberland County in his role as District 19 representative and majority Whip in the North Carolina Senate.

    At the same time FTCC celebrated with 2018 graduates during the ceremony, we were also informed about the critical condition of another good friend of the school’s – Harry F. Shaw. We later learned that Shaw died the next day following the graduation ceremony.

    13 FTCC ShawShaw once commented that he very much looked forward to shaking the hands of each FTCC graduate and was stirred emotionally when he saw the individuals who had turned to FTCC to complete their high school education. I would like to thank the FTCC students, faculty, staff, board members, family members of our students and other honored guests who took a few moments during the graduation ceremony to pause with me to honor the life and contributions of Harry F. Shaw.

    Shaw served on the FTCC Board of Trustees from 1969 to 2007, served on the FTCC Foundation Board of Directors and worked diligently on several committees through his service to the North Carolina Community College System. In honor of his devoted service to FTCC, Fayetteville Tech named the Harry F. Shaw Virtual College Center (opened in 2005) at the Fayetteville campus in honor of him.

    I invite you, also, as members of the Fayetteville community, to take some quiet time to reflect on the positive impact of Shaw’s many contributions not only to FTCC and North Carolina’s community colleges but also to the Fayetteville and Cumberland County area.

    It is never easy to say farewell to a friend as good as Shaw was for so many in our community, but we can find some comfort in knowing that his touch will be embedded forever in our community and the place he loved so very much.


    PHOTOS: (Top to Bottom) Sen. Wesley Meredith & Harry F. Shaw

  • 12 Kiwanis talent nightAs a community, Fayetteville offers a variety of artistic outlets for its youth – dance schools, theaters, musical organizations and more. Every year, the Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville hosts an event that lets these young performers share their talents with the community. The Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville presents its 67th Kiwanis Talent Night Saturday, June 9, at 7 p.m. at Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

    “The Fayetteville Kiwanis Club has used this particular event not only to give children a chance to perform, but also to raise money for the other children/community-related events they support throughout the year,” said Bill Bowman, chairman of the production committee. “The Fayetteville Kiwanis Club has 33 different committees, which is more committees than some clubs have members, and each one of them participates in helping this community and recognizes the potential of children.”

    The event will feature special guest appearances. The Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Queens will share insightful messages with the students. Jeremy Ruiz, magician, will perform magical acts.

    “The money that we are raising actually goes back to the children to help them pursue whatever their endeavor is,” said Bowman. “Right now, the entire show will have about 26 participants in all four categories, which are K-2, 3-5, middle and high school.”

    The overall showcase winner will receive a trophy and $200. The first-place winner in each division will receive a trophy and $100; the second place winner in each division will receive a trophy and $50; and the third-place winner in each division will receive a trophy and $25. Four $150 music scholarships will be awarded for voice, strings, piano and band instrument.

    “The music scholarships will allow the student to go to the camp of their choice,” said Bowman. “We leave the scholarships open so they can apply the scholarship to whatever camp they choose to attend during the summer.”

    Bowman added the music scholarships are sponsored by Rocket Fizz and Wendy’s restaurants. The businesses helped promote the program through all of their stores. The Kiwanis Club worked with Cumberland County Schools to contact art, music and dance teachers to get the word out about the talent showcase.

    “What makes this event exciting is that we have had children like Grady Bowman, Brooke McLaurin and Victoria Huggins start with the Kiwanis Talent Night and (go) on to do really great things,” said Bowman. “We look forward to this event and hope the public turns out to see these remarkable children.”

    Tickets cost $8 at the door. For more information, call 910-391-3859.

  • 11 NeverlandAlpha & Omega Dance Academy is bringing Peter Pan, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys to the Sandhills with its spring recital, “Neverland.” The AODA team welcomes the community to enjoy this unique, dance driven presentation of Peter Pan’s story Saturday, June 9, at Fayetteville State University’s J.W. Seabrook Auditorium.

    A scaled-down children’s recital, featuring dancers ages 3-6, begins at 10:30 a.m. “Neverland,” the larger production showcasing students ages 7 and older, begins at 3 p.m.

    “Instead of holding a typical dance recital, our artistic staff and dancers work hard to provide a theatrical and thematic production, complete with a cast of main characters, narration, acting, costumes and creative sets and props,” said AODA owner and instructor Rachel Choi.

    AODA offers classes ranging from pointe to hip hop, and each of those classes will tell a part of the story – from ballerinas flying to Neverland to tap-dancing crocodiles to musical theatre performing the iconic song “Ugg-A-Wugg.”

    “Whether you’re attending our (production) to support your friends or decide (if) our studio is right for you, we’re excited to give you a sneak peek into our world of dance,” said Sarah Pages, artistic and production director and dance instructor.

    Choi said, “I hope this will be an entertaining show, but even more so, I hope ‘Neverland’ will serve to inspire everyone, young and old, to never forget the beauty and power of imagination, hope, belief and friendship – and perhaps a little bit of pixie dust.”

    AODA is a Christian studio and one of the only local non-competitive dance studios. Its ratings on popular platforms like Facebook boast 5 stars. Past AODA productions include “A Puppet to a Boy” (“Pinocchio,” 2012), “Oz” (“The Wizard of Oz,” 2013), “Narnia” (“The Chronicles of Narnia,” 2014), “Alice” (“Alice In Wonderland,” 2015), “Adventures with Mary and Bert” (“Mary Poppins,” 2016) and “Belle”( “Beauty & The Beast,” 2017).

    Tickets to “Neverland” on June 9 cost $10 and include entry to the morning children’s recital. They can be purchased in advance at AODA, 201 S. McPherson Church Rd., or at the door the day of the production at J.W. Seabrook Auditorium. AODA students and children under the age of six enter free. Seating begins 30 minutes prior to each show.

    Visit www.alphaomegadanceacademy.com or call 910-860-1405 to learn more.

  • 10 CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOFPlaywright Tennessee Williams wrote often about the human condition. Cruelty, suffering and yearning for love in alonely world consumed his writing. “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which he wrote in 1955, is no different. The Southern classic fits perfectly as the last show of the Gilbert Theater’s 2017-18 season, punctuating a theatrical journey of wild, caged hearts. Performances of the show run June 1-10.

    “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” tells the tale of a husband and wife, Brick and Maggie, who are at odds both physically and emotionally. They don’t sleep together. Brick, a copious drinker, is still in shambles over the suicide of his best friend. Maggie is concerned with whether or not Brick’s siblings will inherit Big Daddy’s fortune. Meanwhile, everyone except Big Daddy seems to know he is dying of cancer.

    Knee-deep in the sludge of greed, familial discord and lies, the whole clan gathers to pretend and to smile and to “celebrate” Big Daddy’s birthday. Yet as often happens with family, past slights explode to the surface.

    In Williams’ original play, he critiques the homophobia and sexism rampant particularly in the South. But these critiques don’t quite make it into the 1958 MGM film version, starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. The film was produced in the height of the Hays Code era, when sexual repression on film was the standard.

    According to director James Dean, the Gilbert Theater adapted Williams’ 1974 version of the play, which contains more overt portrayals of the original undertones.

    “(Williams’) plays are usually about how difficult communication is between people,” said Dean. “This one is really about this one rich family and their lack of communication in that core, the dysfunction of this family.”

    One of Williams’ earlier plays is subtitled “A Prayer for the Wild of Heart That are Kept in Cages.” It is also a good working summary of the Gilbert Theater’s season.

    The season opener, “Evil Dead: The Musical,” is a playful reflection of the wild being caged in a dead zombie body. A cage is a cage.

    The Gilbert’s follow-up was the classic story of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George Bailey so embodies the idea of a caged free spirit. He wanted to build things. Go places. Be somebody. But he become strapped in his small town, destined to take over his father’s banking business and live a life of quiet desperation. The ending sees George accepting and becoming almost grateful for his cage.

    To paraphrase the candid Williams: you either accept it, kill yourself or stop looking in mirrors.

    By adapting David Ives’ play “Venus in Fur,” the Gilbert continued the theme of a trapped wildness aching to be free. Thomas wants to put Vanda in a certain kind of box: submissive to the director’s ideas and ego, demure, not headstrong. Still, Vanda is the one to turn the tables and put Thomas in that very box designed for her.

    “Antigone,” on the other hand, shows the wild heart of an activist, a revolutionary, trapped in the cage of simply being born in the wrong time.

    With “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” one hopes the Gilbert captures the desperation of Williams’ characters to connect beyond the steel cage of our individual selves. If so, it will be the cherry a top a well-crafted season.

    “Every single person can relate to the things going on in this play,” said Dean. “We all have problems within our family units. You might love them and at the same time you just can’t believe they’re saying or doing the things that they do.”

    To support the Gilbert and its 25th anniversary season next year, the theater is hosting a fundraiser featuring classical chamber music June 10. Tickets are $30 per person. For more information, visit www.gilberttheater.com.

  • 09 news armyIt was just a few months ago that then Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend brought Fort Bragg’s 18th Airborne Corps headquarters element home from Iraq. Soon there after, Townsend got his fourth star and was reassigned. In another five months or so, the nation’s lead airborne headquarters will head back to the Middle East, the Pentagon announced. Fort Bragg’s new commanding general, Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, will go to Iraq with several hundred soldiers of his headquarters unit.

    The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, which is part of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) out of Fort Campbell in Kentucky, will be deploying to Afghanistan during the summer. The 101st is an elite, specialized light infantry division. Trained for helicopter operations, it is the most potent and tactically mobile of the U.S. Army’s divisions.

    The 101st CAB will replace the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart in Georgia as part of a regular rotation of forces to support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, according to the Army release. Operation Freedom’s Sentinel includes two core components: working with allies and partners and continuing “counter terrorism operations against the remnants of Al-Qaeda to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used to stage attacks against our homeland.”

    Most of the brigade’s soldiers will deploy and are expected to return in the spring of 2019, said Capt. Kris Sibbaluca, a brigade spokesman. He said the brigade will provide aviation support to troops on the ground using Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache helicopters. “The deployment will be a challenge. However, we do not doubt that our soldiers are ready,” said Col. Craig Alia, the 101st CAB commander.

    The 18th Airborne Corps will replace Third Corps Headquarters of Fort Hood, Texas, as part of a regular rotation of forces to support Operation Inherent Resolve. It is the operational name for U.S. military intervention against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Since August of 2016, the 18th Airborne Corps has been responsible for the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. It will oversee this combined joint task force fighting the Islamic State and set conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability, according to the operation’s website.

    Since Inherent Resolve began in late 2014, headquarters units of 18th and 3rd Corps have alternated deployments by their headquarters units. In the past, these rotations have lasted about one year.

  • 08 new MikeMitchellThe minister who offered the invocation atthe most recent Hope Mills Board of Commissioners meeting must have had an idea about an entry on the agenda. He included Jesus’ admonition in the book of Matthew that “Every… household divided against itself will not stand.” Moments later, commissioner Jessie Bellflowers had a proposed resolution added to the agenda; that Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell be censured for cause.

    Later, Mitchell, reading from a prepared statement, spoke of his concerns that some commissioners had been taking part in private discussions of town business on a private Facebook group known as the Hope Mills Chatter. Mitchell felt such closed discussions represented “social segregation of elected officials” that could be a violation of North Carolina’s Open Meetings law.

    He did not mention them by name, but it’s widely known that Bellflowers and town board members Meg Larson and Jerry Legge were involved.

    Knowing it would likely be defeated, Mitchell made a motion that commissioners not participate in group emails or closed online discussions because they represent a quorum of the governing body.

    That’s when town attorney Dan Hertzog Jr. intervened. He cautioned that he agreed with some others that the virtual Facebook discussions did not necessarily violate the law.

    Mitchell with drew his motion after Hertzog agreed to research the matter further.

    Bellflowers introduced his motion that Mitchell be censured for behavior. He insisted that online, closed-group discussions are not considered official meetings. He said they did not engage in coordinated, simultaneous discourse. Bellflowers said none of the issues were likely to come before the board of commissioners for official action. “My first amendment rights have been challenged, and I take it personally,” said Bellflowers.

    Commissioner Pat Edwards said this had become a “sore spot” for her and was the most recent of several conflicts among board members.

    Commissioners Larson and Legge agreed with Bellflowers that Mitchell had raised an issue that had been be labored for months.

    Mitchell said he was proud of his position, adding,“If you want to move on with this censure, that’s OK.”

    The board did so, and the censure resolution passed on a 3-2 vote with Mitchell and Edwards dissenting.

    In what is often the case, attorneys – even those who concentrate on communications law – disagree among themselves in nuances of the state’s open meetings and public records statutes. There is no misunderstanding of the preamble to the law, which states, “Where as the public bodies that administer the legislative, policy-making, quasi-judicial, administrative, and advisory functions of North Carolina and its political subdivisions exist solely to conduct the people’s business, it is the public policy of North Carolina that the hearings, deliberations, and actions of these bodies be conducted openly.”


    PHOTO: Hope Mills Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell

  • 07 news digestCivil Leader Dies

    The legacy of a remarkable Fayettevillecivic leader will likely be anchored by his devotion to nature conservation in his hometown. Harry E. Shaw died on May 19 at the age of 91. He served in numerous capacities, including as president and chairman of the City of Fayetteville Linear Park Corporation.

    At Mayor Mitch Colvin’s suggestion, the city’s Cross Creek Linear Park will be named for Shaw. He founded the nonprofit organization and personally directed development of the park and trail that runs along Cross Creek from Festival Park to Eastern Boulevard.

    Shaw was a loan officer for Home Federal Savings & Loan for more than 30 years. He was elected to Fayetteville City Council in 1965 and won re-election four times, serving as mayor pro tem much of that time. In 1975, he was appointed by the governor to the board of Fayetteville Technical Community College, where he served for 29 years as its chairman. Shaw was a charter member of the Lafayette Society and a board member of Cape Fear Botanical garden.

    New gateway to downtown Fayetteville opens

    The new $24.3 million Rowan Street bridge in downtown Fayetteville is set to open June 5. Construction on the project is running six months ahead of schedule, according to North Carolina Department of Transportation.

    Once the adjacent, old bridge is torn down, workers will finish construction on the final two lanes. “Favorable weather last year helped get the new bridge open half a year early, as did an internally compressed construction schedule by the contractor, S.T. Wooten Corporation of Wilson,” said DOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale.

    The existing four-lane bridge was built in 1956 and had become functionally obsolete. The new bridge is made up of two spans. One crosses the CSX railroad, and the other goes over the Norfolk Southern railroad. The project also includes realigning Rowan Street, Murchison Road and Bragg Boulevard into an intersection that will create a new gateway into downtown and a more prominent route to the Fayetteville State University campus.

    Cape Fear Valley launches clinical trials program

    A new partnership in Cumberland County will enable Cape Fear Valley Health to have access to clinical trials. Carolina Institute for Clinical Research is the newly formed partnership between Cape Fear Valley Health and Wake Research/M3-Wake Research Associates, Inc., based in Raleigh.

    “A robust clinical research program is an important part of an academic health system,” said Michael Nagowski, chief executive officer of Cape Fear Valley Health. “Our physician residency programs in obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, emergency medicine, family practice, psychiatry and general surgery will benefit greatly from this partnership. Our patients and community will also benefit from having access to a wide variety of clinical trials.” 

    Access to clinical trials will be available for nearly all major therapeutic areas including internal medicine, dermatology, women’s health, metabolic diseases, gastroenterology, men’s health, neuroscience, pulmonology, rheumatology, vaccines and women’s health trials.

    City fire station repositioned

    Fayetteville’s new Fire Station 12 at 911 Hope Mills Rd. is adjacent to J.W. Coon Elementary School. It’s three blocks east of the 65-year-old station it replaces, which was owned by the Lafayette Village Rural Fire Department until the city annexed the area in 2004. The land for the new station was donated to the city of Fayetteville by Cumberland County Schools.

    “The new facility includes updated features needed for today’s fire service operations and resources, including our fire personnel,” said Fire Chief Ben Major.

    The 10,000-square-foot building has two apparatus bays, a community/training room, a decontamination room, a kitchen and fitness room. The city paid more than $3.5 million for the station. Chief Major indicated response times will be shorter for the neighborhoods station 12 serves, which include Gallup Acres, Lafayette Village, Oakdale, South Hills, Ashton Forest, Quail Ridge, Queensdale and Evergreen Estates.

    Health Department offers free mosquito insecticide

    Mosquito season is in full swing in Cumberland County. The Cumberland County Department of Public Health is providing some relief by way of free mosquito insecticide to Cumberland County residents.

    There are at least 60 types of mosquitoes in North Carolina. One of the most common and recognizable is the Asian tiger, with its distinct white and black striped legs and body. This pest feeds during dawn to dusk hours. Most of the mosquitoes native to North Carolina will reproduce in ditches, swamps, marshes and other natural bodies of water. But the Asian tiger mosquito tends to breed in pockets of standing water, sometimes in as little as 1 ounce.

    To aid in reducing the mosquito population, Cumberland County Department of Public Health is providing Mosquito Dunks all summer long. The Mosquito Dunks product, provided at no cost to Cumberland County residents, is a biological pest control agent that kills mosquito larvae. It is nontoxic to fish, birds, wildlife and pets. Another effective means to reduce the mosquito population is the “tip and toss” method. Tip over any containers that have standing water including tires, flower pots, buckets, jars and barrels.

    County residents can pick up a two-month supply of the Mosquito Dunk insecticide, with instructions on use, in the Environmental Health section on the third floor of the Health Department, 1235 Ramsey St., Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

    Board of Health discusses priorities

    The Board of Health held its regular meeting on May 15. During that meeting, the agency discussed priorities previously established at the planning retreat in April. Issues discussed included the governing structure of the Health Department. On May 4, a letter from the Board of Health was sent to the Board of County Commissioners indicating they would like to see the Health Department remain an independent department from the Department of Social Services and that the Board of Health would like to remain a governing board.

    Also discussed was a need for more school health nurses. An additional seven nurses have been requested to be added to the fiscal year 2018-19 budget. The Health Board also talked about an increase in transparency between the Health Department staff and the Board of Health and between the Board of Health and the Board of Commissioners and the community. The board also discussed issues including lowering the sexually transmitted infection rate in the county, providing better messaging around opioid misuse and becoming a leader in the effort to combat the opioid crisis in our community.

    The 2017 Annual Report for the Department of Public Health is available online at http://co.cumberland.nc.us/health/community-resources/reports. The Board of Health meets monthly on the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the 3rd floor board room of the Public Health Center, 1235 RamseySt. For more information, call 910-433-3705.


    PHOTO: Harry E. Shaw

  • 06 exceptionalismAs the father of two young boys, one already in kindergarten, I can’t help but feel helpless seeing American school kids murdered in their classrooms on a monthly basis. “Thoughts and prayers” are running thin.

    Columbine happened when I was in high school. I remember discussing it with my English class. Most of us wrote it off by arguing that the kids responsible were “just crazy.” Colorado was too far away, and it never really registered. We went on being high school kids.

    Flash forward 20 years: I’m a dad now, and I’m at a PTA event in the auditorium of my old elementary school where I was a turtle in the Christmas play. The speaker interrupts bingo night to solicit donations to construct a solid wooden fence around the playground to “protect the perimeter” of the school.

    What happened? No, seriously, what happened?

    It used to be that there was a mass shooting and it was in the news for a few days, but it was soon forgotten and we all went about our lives. It could happen here, but it wasn’t a real threat, just a random freak event like a plane crash. We didn’t worry about “protecting our perimeter” like we were in a war movie.

    Times have changed. We’re averaging one school shooting per week in 2018. A danger that once seemed random is now making an appearance at bingo night where it follows you home and sets up shop in the back of your mind where you store your catalog of fatherly fears. When you blog about it two months later, you’re still wondering if it could be your kid.

    It’s not going anywhere. After all, we’re America.We’re different. We’re exceptional.

    It’s a self-evident truth that more guns equal more gun deaths. Take basic math, logic, the nature of human conflict, add a dash of gunpowder, and you get the following:

    Assault weapons kill people with amazing speed and efficiency, so it would make sense to try to keep these weapons out of the hands of minors, criminals, crazy people, etc. But we’re North Carolina, and we’re exceptionally exceptional, so there is absolutely nothing our right-wing legislators are going to do to curb access to assault weapons. Nothing. These men bash their peers in primaries if they get a B+ rating from the National Rifle Association.

    But have no fear. Our leaders are on an innovative mission this spring to create new ways to save our kids without infringing on your (or their) right to bear assault weapons. Here’s a list from Longleaf Politics of school safety bills pending in the legislature:

    • House Bill 933 lets North Carolina give school psychologist licenses to people who hold a national professional credential valid in 32 other states.

    • House Bill 932 requires school districts to set up an anonymous tip line to help identify threats.

    • House Bill 934 directs school districts to set up threat assessment teams and figure out how they’re going to respond to students who could cause harm to their school.

    • House Bill 937 sets training standards for school resource officers.

    • House Bill 938 gets charter schools to set up risk management plans, including making sure law enforcement knows the layout of school buildings.

    • House Bill 939 will set up a framework for school districts to evaluate how safe their facilities are.

    • House Bill 940 directs school districts to report out by Sept. 15 how many school resource officers they have and at what levels.

    • House bill 941 allots $1.8 million to place school resource officers in more elementary and middle schools.

    Do you feel better now? I don’t, and I’m not trying to be negative or sarcastic. It’s as if we’re conceding that these shootings are a new way of life, and we’re just trying to find a way to beat the shooters to the punch. If only we had more psychologists, more heroes to step in front of the bullets, or more wooden fences, we could stop them.

    While all these bills are noble, they ignore the shiny black elephant in the room. The ignorance is intentional, just ask the Speaker of the House. Lawmakers are reviewing ways to increase school safety. But those efforts are expected to stop short of gun restrictions.

    “Folks want to try to drag the gun debate into it, ”Republican House Speaker Tim Moore told a TV interviewer last week. “Look, that’s a discussion for another time.”

    I guess he’s talking about me.

  • 03 letters to editorLast week’s edition of Up & Coming Weekly featured former city councilman Tyrone Williams. Some of our readers responded passionately to our position – especially on social media. We are publishing some of their comments, with their permission. Many of the comments related to this issue have not been published because the writer either refused to give us permission or did not respond to our request to publish their comments. If we missed you or if you want your voice to be heard, email editor@upandcomingweekly.com.

    Via email

    Hi, I just want to say that your magazine cover with Tyrone Williams is of bad taste. He may have done wrong, but what’s the point of kicking a man when he’s already down??? Let he w/o son cast the 1st stone!

    – Marie Thomas

    Via Up & Coming Weekly’s Facebook page

    So much positive stuff going on in town and yallchose this as the cover? smh

    – David P Wedlock Jr.

    When you are caught on tape soliciting a bribe it is hard to go quietly into the night. Ask any mobster caught on tape in a RICO case. Mr. Lallier’s alleged actions (despecable as they may be) have yet to be litigated and he is not an elected public figure. Mr. Williams got busted. Straight up. 40 years ago I would have jumped to defend Mr. Williams based on our shared race. No more. I am long past defending the bad behavior of people based on their race. With elected public office comes public scrunity, good and bad. This is an example of something that he did being held up for inspection. Remember, the FBI does not just wake up and decide to tape someone. That permission comes from a U.S. District Attorney. We, the public must be able to look into the actions of our elected officials, no matter what color they are. Even if disclosing those actions is painful (and believe me as a Black southerner this is painful to me). I think Mr. Williams knew exactly what he was doing when he walked into that office shortly after being elected. He just got busted.

    Long ago, before many of my adversaries were a stain on a mattress someone said you should be judged by the content of your character not the color of your skin. The guy has been judged by his character... he has been proved to be lacking.

    The cover is on the money.

    – Tony Long

    This cover is an epic fail, Bill Bowman!

    – Teri Gibson Schultz

    Awful. No justification for this kind of behavior from a local media company. I’ve been watching how the Mike Lallier case has received next ”to barely there coverage,” or the level of sacrifice “outrage” similar to this case. The behavior by both men are wrong. Up and Coming - the cover stinks of racism.

    – Carroll Arnold

  • 02 pub penFor 23 years we have used our community newspaper to uplift market and promote the quality of life unique only to Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

    I understand many of our readers, especially those in the black community, were disappointed and even angered with the choice of our cover for the last edition. I admit, it was over the top, but I wanted to get everyone’s attention.

    Anyone who knows me knows I am passionate about this community. I built my media company marketing, promoting, touting and defending the Fayetteville community. The cover design was intended to make a bold and profound statement not about this community but to this community. It certainly was not meant to offend the sensitivities of our residents.

    I am truly sorry and hope this heartfelt apology will be accepted by those I hurt and offended. Those who know me or my newspaper know that meanness and hatred are just not my style. I love this community and have spent my entire career working to solve problems, build relationships and celebrate the goodness that makes this such a special place.

    Below is my official statement and explanation as to the purpose and intent of last week’s Up & Coming Weekly feature involving Tyrone Williams. There are no other explanations, motives, truths or conspiracies.

    Over the past 23 years, our community has grown and finally come of age in the arts, culture, education, economic development and quality of life in comparison to other North Carolina cities. It was a long and hard-fought process, but we did it. I was distraught at the thought of us losing ground by allowing others to exploit and disrespect our community.

    The purpose of the cover and the Tyrone Williams story was to get the community’s attention and to make sure everyone knows and understands that this kind of outrageous and unscrupulous behavior by anyone, of any race, color or political affiliation will not and cannot be accepted, condoned, ignored or encouraged with impunity.

    Fayetteville elected Williams. He was a known entity in this community, and Fayetteville elected him to represent District 2 anyway. Then he got caught.

    Getting Williams to resign from the city council does not eradicate the offense, and it surely is not an exoneration. The message I wanted to convey, and which I have already admitted was in poor taste, is that our city is on the right track both culturally and economically, and we have made too much progress to allow people, agencies or organizations to abuse and plunder our good will, resources and achievements.

    Up & Coming Weekly takes full responsibility for our content and opinions. Our writers’ photos and credentials are included with every article, and we have never hid behind aliases or unidentified or anonymous sources. In addition, we have always openly made our newspaper accessible to the city, county and Fort Bragg, as well as individuals, businesses, institutions and community organizations, to promote initiatives and tell their stories. We provide them a strong and relevant voice. That’s what community newspapers do. That is what the Fourth Estate is all about.

    In the future, and without minimizing any of the enthusiasm or commitment we have for promoting Fayetteville and our city’s leaders, I promise to be more sensitive and aware about how we convey the ideas, achievements and concerns that affect our city.

    We are the only media company that has succeeded solely by aggressively and positively reporting, promoting and writing about one thing: the greater Fayetteville community.

    I’ve never hid the fact that I love this community and seek to be a positive influence to bring about growth and change that will benefit it – even during tough times. In this situation, my form was bad, but my intentions were good.

    I hope we can put this behind us and move forward. We have so much more to say about the Fayetteville community, its leadership and its citizens.


    Bill Bowman


    Up & Coming Weekly

  • 01 coverOnce a year, Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville comes alive with the annual Blues n-Brews Festival, which features some of the best blues music and beer in the region. The Blues-n-Brews festival benefits the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. All the proceeds from the festival go toward helping CFRT realize its mission. According to Liz Thompson, development director of CFRT, many people who attend the festival each year do not even realize that the event helps CFRT continue to serve the community through its many productions and programs. Funds raised through the one day music festival go toward arts education, theater camps, production budgets as well as general operating costs for the theater. This year’s festival is slated for June 2 and promises to offer an interesting new spin on what has become one of the area’s premier events over the last 16 years.

    Thompson describes Blues-n-Brews as “a one day festival benefiting CFRT where around 3,000 people come together and taste the best beer in the region and jam to the hottest blues in the area.” General admission to Blues-n-Brews includes five hours of live blues music, a souvenir sampling glass and unlimited beer tastings from nearly 30 different breweries, including some local and regional favorites.

    There will also be a plethora of local food trucks and other vendors on hand. Thompson noted, “We are still making some tweaks, but the full brewery and vendor lineup is available online at bnb.cfrt.org”

    While the festival promises the same quality interms of its musical acts and beer selection, longtime patrons of Blues-n-Brews will notice something new about the event. According to Thompson, “This year, we decided to do something a little different and give the festival a theme.” That theme is “Music City,” and it ties in directly to CFRT’s 2018-19 season.

    Thompson explained the tie-in: “Next year, the theater’s season opens with a new musical entitled ‘Music City,’ which tells the story of three young songwriters trying to make it in Nashville. We thought this offered a unique opportunity to brand the festival as ‘Blues-n-Brews: Music City Edition.’” Thompson went on to explain, “Patrons can expect some great blues but with a little more of a country spin.”

    The festival boasts a strong lineup of musical acts that will provide the soundtrack to the afternoon. The general festival opens with a performance by Nattalyee Randall, a veteran of the stage who played both Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone inproductions at the North Carolina Theater. Patrons of the arts in Fayetteville will recognize her from CFRT’s production of “Dreamgirls.” “Nattalyee is a vocal powerhouse,” said Thompson. “She will be singing the blues standards that everyone knows and recognizes.” The Tom Euler Band, which plays progressive blues/rock, is also slated to perform. The band, out of Virginia, was a semi-finalist in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier this year.

    The festival’s music lineup culminates in the evening’s headlining performance by Casey James. James is from Fort Worth, Texas, and is probably best known for his season nine “American Idol” run, when he finished third place behind Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. James has shared the stage with notable performing artists like Taylor Swift, Alan Jackson and Sugarland. His new album, “Strip it Down,” was released in June 2017 and is available for download on iTunes and can be streamed on Spotify.

    There is a fourth band on the bill for the Blues-n-Brews festival, but the performance is only available to those who purchase VIP tickets. Fayetteville’s own Guy Unger Band with lead vocals by Michael Pennink will be playing the first hour of the festival from 4-5 p.m., an hour that is available only for VIPs.

    According to Thompson, there are plenty of other perks to purchasing the VIP ticket. Not only will VIP ticket-holders hear great music from The Guy Unger Band, they will also avoid the long lines of the general admission portion of the festival, which means they will get to sample more beer and talk to more brewers than the people who arrive at 5 p.m. Additionally, she said, “The VIP tent is sponsored by 96.5 BOB FM, and they are bringing in fantastic caterers like Carrabba’s and Mash House.” She added, “VIP ticket-holders have access to covered seating as well as complimentary snacks and swag bags. VIPs will also serve as the judges in the Best in Show Beer Tasting Competition.”

    The festival is staffed each year by volunteers, and according to Thompson, there are still volunteer positions available. “We need beer pourers more than anything else,” said Thompson. “Volunteer beer pourers make it possible for the brewers to talk to the people sampling their beer about how that beer is made and all of the other things that people who do beer tastings are interested in.”

    Volunteer shifts are available throughout the day, and there are major perks that come with volunteering at Blues-n-Brews. Anyone who volunteers for at least four hours at the festival will receive either complimentary general admission to the festival or two complimentary tickets to any CFRT opening-weekend show for the 2018-19 season.

    CFRT provides summer theater camps for children, special matinee performances for students in the area, and a brand-new military outreach program that offers free theater classes to military children and families on Fort Bragg. More information on the work of CFRT and the 2018-19 season, which includes performances of “Annie,” “Memphis” and “Trumbo,” is available at www.cfrt.org.

    Tickets for the 16th Annual Blues-n-Brews Festival in Festival Park are on sale now. General admission tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the gate. VIP tickets are $80 and are only available in advance. Tickets are also available for $10 for those who do not wish to participate in the beer tasting. Advanced tickets can be purchased online at bnb.cfrt.org.

    The Blues-n-Brews Festival is scheduled for Saturday,June 2, from 4-10 p.m.

  • Hope Mills Veterans MemorialIf it was William Greene’s call, there would be an observance of Memorial Day year round, not just during the final week of May annually.
    “These people raised their hands and volunteered,’’ said Greene, who serves as the post adjutant and quartermaster for the Hope Mills Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10630. “These people have died for your freedoms. You’ve got to stop and give thanks for that.’’
    Hope Mills has long paid tribute to fallen members of the military on Memorial Day, and this year will be no exception.
    The tribute will take place Monday at 4 p.m. at the war memorial located adjacent to the Hope Mills Recreation Center on Rockfish Road. Numerous groups and organizations will take part in the ceremony, and the general public is invited to attend. 
    “It’s anyone in the community,’’ Greene said. “We need to give thanks. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today and have the freedoms we have. To me, that’s really the main point.’’
    Greene will serve as master of ceremonies of the event, which will begin with opening remarks and the invocation from Grilley Mitchell, the chaplain for the Hope Mills VFW post.
    Two young people, Angeline Vela and Alia Palmer, who were winners of the VFW Patriots Pen and Voice of Democracy essay contests, will share their prize-winning entries.
    Memorial 2Mayor Jackie Warner will read the town proclamation in recognition of Memorial Day, and the names of three Hope Mills veterans who passed away will be added to the monument at the memorial. They include former town commissioner Bob Gorman, former mayor Al Brafford and Lt. Kathryn Bailey, who was lost in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in August of 2017.
    A variety of organizations will present flower arrangements in memory of the fallen. That will be followed by the rendering of honors by Sgt. Richard Schwartz and soldiers from the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion at Fort Bragg. The program will close with the singing of God Bless America and the National Anthem.
    Afterward, everyone is invited to enjoy refreshments at the recreation center.
    The VFW Post will also hold a smaller ceremony earlier in the day at 2 p.m. at the newly-constructed pier on Hope Mills lake. They will unveil a bench on the pier dedicated to the memory of Vietnam veterans.
    Greene said the bench was dedicated months ago but had to wait to be installed after the pier was constructed. He said the VFW post may add a second bench later in memory of Korean War veterans.
    “It feels really good to bring the community in on all these events,’’ he said.
    Photo caption, bottom: This floral arrangement will be presented during the Memorial Day service in Hope Mills. It’s from Project Healing Waters, an organization that helps introduce physically and emotionally disabled military service personnel to fly fishing. It was designed by Debbie Jones of Hope Mills Plaza Florist.
  • 12Maxwell Cup photoTerry Sanford finished a dominant year in the Patriot Athletic Conference by bringing home the Maxwell/Wells Fargo Trophy for overall athletic excellence.

    The Bulldogs won or shared conference championships in seven sports. They won at least two conference titles in all three major seasons of the school year, and ended with a flourish in the spring as they took titles in boys tennis, baseball and girls soccer. All three of those spring teams made deep runs in the N.C. High School Athletic Association state playoffs, each making it at least to the third round or beyond.

    Final point totals saw Terry Sanford outdistance second-place Cape Fear, last year’s winner of the trophy, with 137 points to 129.5.

    Pine Forest was third with 122, followed by South View with 110, Gray’s Creek 107, Overhills 101, E.E. Smith 54, Westover 44 and Douglas Byrd 32.5.

    When it was created in 1979, the Maxwell Cup was an all-sports trophy for Cumberland County schools. Since that time, as schools have been moved into different leagues, it’s become a joint all-sports award with the NCHSAA’s Wells Fargo Cup that goes to the best overall athletic program in each conference. Now that eight of the 10 Cumberland County senior high schools are in the Patriot Conference, the Maxwell is presented to the best school in that league along with the Wells Fargo Cup.

    “We encourage multi-sport athletes,” said Terry Sanford athletic director Liz McGowan. “There’s a lot of truth that kids who play sports have to be more organized with their time. They end up being stronger students because they are using their time wisely.’’

    McGowan said the coaching staff at Terry Sanford works together to make the sharing of athletes between different sports successful. “A lot of our kids end up going Division 1 or Division 2 after they leave us,” she said.

    A couple of multi-sport athletes, Maggie Hodge and Dante Bowlding, share McGowan’s view of the coaches at Terry Sanford.

    Hodge participates in cross-country, swimming and track and field. “I’m with smaller teams, and you really get to build a tighter connection with your coaches,” she said.

    Bowlding was part of two conference championship teams for the Bulldogs, basketball and football. 

    A junior, Bowlding will have a chance next year to help keep the Maxwell Cup at Terry Sanford. He already knows what the key will be to doing that.

    “Leadership,’’ he said. “Leading by example. Doing everything I can to help my team.’’

    Photo: L to R: Maggie Hodge, Dante Bowlding and Terry Sanford athletic director Liz McGowan.

  • 02PubelectedCome on, folks! Four years terms for our elected officials? Are you kidding? Is this community so sadistic and hellbent on fulfilling that predetermined and haunting conclusion that Fayetteville and Cumberland County will always find a way to rip defeat from the jaws of victory?

    No doubt Fayetteville is experiencing a growth spurt stimulated by the new $38 million baseball stadium and the Houston Astros’ 30-year commitment to play ball in the city. Currently, we have about $100 million of new economic development in downtown Fayetteville. This is a good thing, but the prevailing question in the minds of many residents is “does this community have the dedicated, intelligent and business-savvy leadership capable of managing growth of this magnitude?” Many think not. 

    And this comes on the heels of the unfortunate situation Fayetteville just endured with ex-District 2 Councilman Tyrone Williams. Williams resigned his position several weeks ago in disgrace after the city council voted to start the process to officially remove him from office for perceived ethics violations that took place within weeks of his tenure. 

    Many city and county residents feel this situation demonstrates the prevalence and permeation of the problem of having unqualified and incompetent people in leadership at municipal and county government levels. Political correctness and apathy are major disincentives for nurturing good, honest and well-educated people to seek offices of leadership. 

    If our community is to move forward and achieve social, cultural and economic stability on par with our North Carolina counterparts, we must find a way to encourage strong and capable citizens to step forward to serve this community while discouraging those opportunists who only intend to park themselves in those positions for convenience and prestige and to enjoy a source of supplemental income. 

    These posers are easy to identify. They contribute little or nothing by way of innovative thought or vision while mastering only the art of getting elected. Anyone who attends Fayetteville City Council or Cumberland County Commissioners meetings on a regular basis or watches them on TV can easily identify these governmental freeloaders. Here are the three of the most common and conspicuous signs:

    1. They lack intellectual capacity, which makes them appear confused on the simplest matters, rendering them helpless to reasonably evaluate the magnitude of situations affecting the city and county.

    2. They have an impulsive and constant need to grandstand for the gallery or TV cameras. This manifests itself in the asking of dumb and irrelevant questions while elaborating on Mr. Obvious-style observations. This kind of conspicuous behavior wastes time and serves as a motivated diversion to cover up the fact that:

    3. They have shown up unaware of priorities and unprepared for the meeting. This is obvious to the informed public and even more obvious, distressing and annoying to those commissioners and councilmen trying to rightfully serve their constituents. The most frequent and recurring complaint we hear is “…they just don’t read their packets.” Packets refer to the information provided to them in advance of the meeting about the topics and details of what is going to be covered in that meeting. They receive these packets so they can be informed of the issues and business of government.

    Four-year terms should not be the remedy or reward for those whose talents lie only in knowing how to get elected in a mostly protected district. Nor should this kind of behavior go unchallenged or be accepted by constituents. Two-year terms are plenty long enough to learn proper policies and procedures of our local government. 

    I’ll close with these related thoughts and warnings of sorts: Political correctness inhibits free speech and restricts our right to free expression. This is what gave us Tyrone Williams. There was no vetting. Way too many people, including prominent, well-positioned citizens, knew of Williams’ character (or lack thereof), his reputation and dubious business dealings. Yet, no one came forward. 

    Additionally, our entire community should always be skeptical of people who show up on the political scene seeking office without any previous community involvement, voice, presence or involvement in the process of government. At some point, we need to ask why and not be afraid of the answer or consequence. 

    The answer needs to be much more substantial than “it’s a white district” or “it’s a black district” or whether it’s a Democrat or Republican seat, or “wow, I could use the money.”

    Fayetteville and Cumberland County need people who care. We need leaders who have integrity, competence and intelligence. We need leaders who are visionaries.

    If our elected officials don’t have these qualities or can’t prove their worth in two years, they will not be able to do it in four years. Let’s be realistic and practical in this decision. 

    Let the people decide. In the meantime, think about this: What cost- or tax-saving measures have been introduced or initiated during the last two years?

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly

  • 09Hope Mills sculpture 2The town of Hope Mills is known statewide for opportunities it offers for athletics, recreation and senior citizens. Now Mayor Jackie Warner is trying to expand its cultural horizons by putting a little art on local display.

    It’s been two years since Warner went to a meeting of the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County on behalf of Hope Mills to learn about ways she might bring art into the community.

    About the same time, her son, Teddy Warner, was working with the city of Laurinburg when it had a relationship with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke to try and do the same thing.

    Warner’s idea was to get outdoor sculptures to be displayed in public locations like Hope Mills Lake and the park near Town Hall.

    She spoke with Adam Walls, a sculpture instructor at UNC-Pembroke.

    Walls came and made presentations to the Hope Mills Town of Commissioners. The plan was for the town to spend $3,000 on purchasing materials for Walls’ art students at Pembroke. In return, they would create original works of sculpture with the town-purchased materials and give them to the town.

    Laurinburg didn’t have an agreement with the students on what happened to the art, so Warner and Hope Mills struck a deal. At the end of a year of display, the town could have the option of buying the art from each student, at a cost of $300 per sculpture, based on 10 sculptures for the total of $3,000 for materials.

    If the town doesn’t buy the artwork, it will go back to the student and the town will get a new piece to replace it.

    For future funding for the project, Warner said she spoke to Deborah Mintz of the Arts Council about writing a grant and getting funding from the council.

    “The Arts Council would love to help fund this project so that it will instill in Hope Mills the same kinds of things they’re trying to do in Fayetteville and other areas,’’ Warner said.

    The sculptures began showing up in Hope Mills earlier this month, some at Hope Mills Lake and some near Town Hall.

    Warner said the various projects now on display are largely constructed from recycled metal, everything from old grate and drain covers to metal poles.

    Warner said she hopes to continue putting art on display in other ways in the near future. Part of the upcoming lake celebration in Hope Mills will include art and jazz performances.

    “We’re going to have artists down there painting and doing sculpture,’’ she said. “We’re just trying to promote art in Hope Mills.’’

    For the time being, Warner said, the focus on art will be outdoors, dealing mainly with metal sculpture.

    In the long term, she’d like to offer painting, but finding a place to display paintings is a problem.

    “We have to come up with a venue or display area,’’ Warner said. There is a possible limited option for display in Town Hall, she said. The parks and recreation building wouldn’t be suitable because it’s so busy.

    Warner said the town may have to limit art displays to those times when special events are going on like the lake celebration.

    Once the town builds its long-awaited museum to celebrate its mill village history, Warner said that’s a possible location to display local art.

    “I’m tickled we are doing this,’’ she said. “This was something I wanted to do way back when I was first elected mayor and couldn’t get the support for it. Once the Arts Council got involved and they started offering the opportunity for Hope Mills, it just fell into place.’’

  • 11John DeWeese Jack BrittA fitting cap to the wrestling career of former Jack Britt coach John DeWeese occurred this past weekend when he was inducted into the North Carolina chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame based in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

    DeWeese’s nomination was pushed by some old friends in the North Carolina wrestling world, former UNC-Pembroke wrestling coach P.J. Smith and his longtime coaching partner when the two were at Seventy-First, current Pine Forest principal David Culbreth.

    “You don’t realize after 28 or 29 years of coaching wrestling all the impacts you have,’’ said DeWeese, who, though he’s retired from coaching, still teaches earth science at Jack Britt High School. “I still get calls from my first wrestlers. They have kids and want to know what to do with them when they’re wrestling.”

    He enjoys bumping into his former wrestlers when he’s around Fayetteville shopping. He still helps out in the wrestling program at Jack Britt, mainly with the operation of the annual tournament he founded, the Boneyard Bash. But other than that, he’s tried to deliberately stay away from frequent visits to the Buccaneer wrestling room.

    “I think I’ve been in there three times,’’ he said. He said he learned a valuable lesson from Culbreth, who was supposed to be the first wrestling coach at Jack Britt after leaving Seventy-First, but literally walked away from the job to enter the business world before deciding to return to education some years later.

    “I didn’t realize how much that would help me,’’ DeWeese said. “It helped me understand this is my job and what I need to do.’’

    DeWeese literally got into the sport as a favor to a former wrestler. He was at Lewis Chapel Junior High when the previous wrestling coach unexpectedly stepped down. The late J.C. Hawk, who went on to win a state title at Seventy-First, came to DeWeese and pleaded with him to take over as coach, even though he knew nothing about wrestling

    DeWeese said Hawk promised to teach him all he knew about wrestling, and DeWeese ordered some VHS instructional tapes to get an understanding of the sport. 

    “I wore them out trying to get an understanding of what to teach a bunch of kids,’’ DeWeese said.

    DeWeese went on to win 13 conference titles and only lose three home conference matches in 17 seasons as Britt’s wrestling coach.

    His crowning moment came in 2015, when the Buccaneers won the 4-A state dual team championship in a match held on Jack Britt’s home court.

    Although he won that state title and crowned multiple individual state champions during his career, DeWeese points to an accomplishment from the academic realm that remains his proudest achievement.

    “I had three kids at West Point,’’ he said, referring to three of his wrestlers who attended the United States Military Academy.

    The trio included Spencer Nick and brothers Andrew and Brad Wanovich. A third brother, Kevin Wanovich, is still enrolled at Britt and could become the fourth wrestler once coached by DeWeese to attend the military academy.

    “I think they learned a lot and we put them in a position to be good leaders,’’ DeWeese said.

    Looking back, DeWeese said his goal as a wrestling coach was pretty simple. “I never went into anything if I didn’t want to do it,’’ he said. “If I’m in it, I’m in it to win it, and win it as ethically correct as possible.

    Photo: John DeWeese

  • 10pagThe annual beauty pageant held in conjunction with Ole Mills Days in the fall has been a success for the past few years in Hope Mills, and town officials are expecting similar results from the new Fourth of July pageant that will debut Friday, June 22.

    The new pageant is part of the extended celebration of both the Fourth of July and the return of Hope Mills Lake.

    The Fourth of July pageant will take place over a two-day period from June 22-23, both times in the gymnasium at the Hope Mills Recreation Center. Both events will begin at 6:30 p.m.

    Kenny Bullock, who heads up the recreation department for the town, will oversee the pageant, which will determine winners in five different age groups.

    The divisions will be 3-5, 6-9, 10-12, 13-16 and 17-22. 

    All contestants must be Cumberland County residents and pay an entry fee of $30 each. Entry forms are available at the recreation center

    The deadline for entry is June 1, but this date may be extended if there aren’t enough entries in each of the five age groups

    Bullock said they will be aiming for a minimum of five to six entries in each age group with a maximum of 20 per age group.

    The entry fee is used to cover the cost of the competition since the town has not allotted any funds to cover the expense. Bullock said they will also seek outside sponsors to cover the cost.

    Bullock said the gym at Hope Mills Recreation Center was chosen to host the pageant after the town was unable to find a local school where it could be held.

    “We tried several schools,’’ Bullock said. “During the summer it’s hard to get into the schools because they are stripping and waxing the floors, trying to get schools ready. It was hard to fit the pageant in before the summer schedule.’’

    In addition to issues dealing with regular summer maintenance at the schools, Bullock also said the summer schedule of the county schools is a problem since they are closed from Friday through Sunday during those months. 

    “It’s hard trying to get someone to come in, open the building and stuff,’’ he said. They also looked into using recreation or community buildings at local churches but were unable to find one suitable.

    In addition to housing the actual pageant, Bullock said the recreation center also offers space to have dressing rooms for the contestants so they can be split up according to age group.

    Bullock said the seating capacity of the gym, with bleachers and chairs set up on the floor, is 400. Tickets, which are $5 each, will be sold at the recreation center. Staff will keep count of the tickets sold to make sure capacity isn’t exceeded, Bullock said.

    Each contestant will get one free ticket to give to a family member or friend.

    Bullock said the pageant judges will be chosen from outside Cumberland County to try to ensure that none of them know any of the pageant contestants. He said judges will be sought who have previous pageant judging experience, possibly even at the national level.

    The pageant will begin on Friday evening, June 22, with the competition for the youngest age group. “They get tired early,’’ Bullock said of the smaller children. “That night, they’ll be done, and they won’t be there until 10 or 11.’’

    The remainder of the contestants will take the stage the following day. Bullock said there would not be a talent competition, but the contestants in the two oldest categories will have an onstage interview question during the competition.

    We’re looking at natural beauty and stage presence,’’ Bullock said. Contestants are not allowed to wear fake eyelashes or wigs, only naturally-looking, age-appropriate makeup.

    For any questions about the pageant, call 910-426-4107.


  • 01coverUAC0052318001It began innocently enough in November of last year. Political newcomer Tyrone Williams was elected to an open District 2 Fayetteville City Council seat. He placed first in a crowded field of 10 candidates to replace councilman Kirk deViere, who decided to run for state senate rather than seek re-election. 

    A few weeks after his election, Williams and his campaign manager, T.J. Jenkins, met with downtown Fayetteville commercial developer Jordan Jones. Jenkins had arranged the meeting with Jones, indicating there was an apparent problem with the legal title to the former Prince Charles Hotel, which Jenkins indicated Williams could clear up.

    The firm, in which Jones is an investor, had purchased the building in bankruptcy for $200,000. Jones became suspicious, and that may be when the FBI’s Public Corruption unit was called in by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. It isn’t known if any indictments will come out of the federal investigation. 

    “I know that my meeting with Mr. Jordan Jones of Prince Charles Holdings, LLC, in December 2017, has caused turmoil for the city,” Williams said in a lengthy statement issued when he resigned. 

    “It’s unfortunate that things worked out the way they did; the people of District 2 just didn’t know him,” former Cumberland County Commissioner Billy R. King said of Williams. According to published reports, Williams has a checkered past when it comes to business dealings. And he lied when he said publicly that he had a financial interest in PCH Holdings, the firm restoring the Prince Charles.

    Jones’ firm had conducted a title search and found the iconic eight-story Hay Street building is clear of any issues. A title search is performed primarily to answer three questions regarding a property on the market: Does the seller have a saleable and marketable interest in the property? What kind of restrictions or allowances pertain to the use of the land? These include real covenants, easements and other equitable servitudes. Do any liens exist on the property that need to be paid off at closing? 

    A title search is also performed when an owner wishes to mortgage property and the bank requires the owner to insure the transaction. Jones’ firm acquired two bank loans totaling $13 million to pay for the renovation of the building. He told Up & Coming Weekly that interior restoration of the 90-year-old structure is on schedule. It will be followed by about five months of work to restore the historical facade. Jones hopes to have 61 apartments available by the end of this year. 

    Some plans for the former eight-story ballroom have changed. A posh, high-end apartment was planned originally, but Jones said it didn’t appear the market would support a $3,000 monthly rental fee. So, it will be converted into an office. At least two restaurants, a coffee shop and a couple small retail stores will occupy the first floor. Jones’ greatgrandfather built the hotel in 1924. 

    After resisting demands from his city council colleagues to resign, as well as a legal procedure to remove him from office, Williams finally caved and stepped down early this month. 

    What about Jenkins? Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin asked him to resign his position on a city council advisory committee. Entrepreneur Wilson Lacy said Jenkins was removed from his recently acquired post as president of the Fayetteville Business and Professional League. 

    Williams’ resignation brought relief for city council and was accepted. “If you’re an elected official, you ought to understand the importance of avoiding ethical lapses and the perceptions most likely to accompany secret meetings asking for money if you expect to be successful in the political arena,” said civic leader Troy Williams. 

    Fayetteville Observer columnist Myron Pitts said of Williams, “He lied to his council colleagues about having a financial interest in the current Prince Charles project, forcing the council to retake some key votes on the stadium and the other projects. He also lied about informing the mayor and city attorney about his alleged conflict of interest in February.”

    Five people interested in being appointed to fill the District 2 position recently attended a meeting at Second Missionary Baptist Church on Old Wilmington Road. Patricia Bradley, Len Brown, Sharon Moyer, Paul Taylor and Dan Culliton asked the more than 100 people in attendance to support them. Several others spoke, some of them in support of the interested candidates. Others who filed to seek the District 2 seat were Vernell Cruz, Mary “Bunny” English, William Gothard, George Mitchell and George Turner.

    Two-term Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans organized the public meeting and was joined by Mayor Colvin, who served as master of ceremonies. Evans once served as District 2 councilman and has since become one of the community’s influential political figures. In addition to Evans, immediate past District 2 council member deViere and former council member Mabel Smith were in attendance. Williams was not mentioned at all during the hourlong meeting. 

    District 2 is the largest and most racially diverse of the city’s nine districts. It encompasses the downtown area, much of the impoverished inner-city residential areas and a portion of Haymount Hill.

    The application process to succeed Williams has ended, and now it’s up to city council. Each applicant will address city council at a meeting on May 29. Council will hold a hearing to take citizen input June 5. They’ll make their decision June 11 and will install the new member June 25. 

    The city of Fayetteville’s next fiscal year will begin July 1 with a new governing body and fresh hopes for a better community.

  • 08Crowns3Hats off to Cape Fear Regional Theatre for wrapping up the season with a singing, shouting, footstomping good time with “Crowns, A Gospel Musical.” Cast and crew deliver a fantastic story of overcoming tragedy and finding one’s path.

    “Crowns” runs through June 3. Don’t wait to get your tickets; there are sure to be sold-out shows.

    The show, written by Regina Taylor, is adapted from the book “Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats” by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry.

    Seeing “Crowns” onstage is a little bit like going to church, and a little bit like hanging out with some of the coolest gals in town. There are a lot of laughs and a few tears as the characters recount stories of their lives associated with their hats, or crowns.

    I attended a pre-show chat with playwright Regina Taylor, where she shared not only her thoughts on “Crowns,” but also her experience of being a Golden Globe award-winning actress, as well as her perspective from growing up with a single mother who encouraged her writing and creativity.

    “Crowns is a celebration of African-American culture,” Taylor said. 

    “The character (Yolanda) loses her sense of self with the death of her brother in Brooklyn,” Taylor said. “Her mother sends her to South Carolina to live with her grandmother (Mother Shaw).”

    But as Taylor explains, and we see in the musical, her mother sends her South to reclaim her from her grief. Yolanda no longer knows quite where she fits into things without her brother, who was her other half.

    With Mother Shaw and her “Hat Queens,” Yolanda starts hearing stories – markers in these women’s lives that shape them and point them ahead on their paths.

    “These stories are stories we’ve all been touched by (baptisms, funerals, happy and sad moments)... about finding you have a community to lean on, to find your direction,” Taylor said.

    “We can put that on a stage and different people of all walks of life can see themselves, see their neighbors, who they think are so different…” and recognize commonalities, Taylor said.

    It is a story of finding yourself and your voice in this world through the collective memories of who we are and what we have experienced. Though the subject matter is serious, CFRT delivers a fun show with amazing music, dance and hats – oh, the hats! 

    “Crowns” is worth the price of admission just to see the hats, and these characters wearing them, and I do mean wearing them – with style, with sass, with confidence. It’s the kind of confidence that comes from truly knowing your value.

    “Crowns” is directed by Donna Baldwin Bradby (“The Wiz”). The cast includes Cassandra Lowe Williams as Mother Shaw, La’Tonya R. Wiley, Chasity McIntosh, Sha’Air Hawkins, Janeta Jackson and Walter Johnson with Ariel Neema Blake as Yolanda. 

    All deliver terrific performances and shuffle between multiple characters as they switch crowns. Each has a turn to demonstrate their vocal talents, as well.

    Everything about the show pays tribute to AfricanAmerican culture – from gospel hymns to dance moves. The songs are mostly traditional hymns sung in churches all over the South, with some blues and jazz. There’s even a bit of hip-hop. The songs carry the message that trouble doesn’t last, better times are ahead. 

    Choreographer Tina Yarborough Liggins included West African movements that are also reminiscent of shouting in churches. It was interesting to see these movements performed by the whole cast at times when shouting can be such an individual experience. It seemed to be symbolic of a collective joining to share in enthusiastic worship. It was fantastic and a testament to the talent CFRT gathered for this production.

    This is a show you don’t want to miss.

    Tickets for “Crowns” range from $17 to $32 with discounts and group sales available. For more information about the show or special events, contact the box office at 910-323-4233 or visit www.cfrt.org.

  • 07Alliance logo for headerSome individuals in Cumberland County with traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI, could be getting some assistance. A TBI is classified as an injury to the brain that has been caused by an external force. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, “Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).”

    The CDC estimates the prevalence rate of TBI to be 2 percent of the population, which is approximately 200,000 North Carolinians. 

    Last November, the Joint Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services introduced an Adult and Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Pilot Program (S.L. 2017-57, Section 11F.9; Senate Bill 582). According to a document prepared by Dave Richard and Mark Benton of the Department of Health and Human Services, “The purpose is to increase compliance with internationally approved evidence-based treatment guidelines. The goals include reduction in patient mortality, improve patient level of recovery and reduce longterm care costs.”

    The General Assembly, last fall, approved $450,000 in funding to allow between three and five hospitals to participate in a TBI pilot program. Senate Bill 582 indicates that $150,000 was committed for the program in the 2017-18 state budget with $300,000 committed to the 2018-19 state budget. The funding was appropriated to the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse.

    Alliance Behavioral Healthcare was selected by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to administer the pilot waiver for TBI in its four-county service region. Cumberland County is one of the four counties. The other counties Alliance serves are Durham, Johnston and Wake. Medicare and Medicaid Services recently approved the waiver for implementation in late summer 2018. 

    “This waiver is an important milestone in North Carolina’s commitment to improving the life and well-being of individuals who experience a traumatic brain injury,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “The waiver includes rehabilitation services such as supported employment, life skills training, cognitive rehabilitation and day supports.”

    The TBI waiver program is designed to provide community-based rehabilitative services and support to help TBI patients with recovery. TBI patients will need to meet certain eligibility criteria to participate. The TBI will have to have happened on or after their 22nd birthday. They need to have cognitive, behavioral and physical support needs. 

    The TBI patients will also need to meet certain financial eligibility requirements. A news release from NCDHHS states, “To qualify, the adults must require the level of care for a nursing facility or specialty rehabilitation hospital.” This pilot will last three years. In the first year, the waiver will include 49 individuals participating, increasing each year to 107 participants by year three. The TBI pilot program will launch in late summer 2018.

    If you have questions about eligibility, call Alliance’s 24-hour Access and Information line at 800-510-9132. Alliance is asking that callers please specifically ask for information on the TBI waiver when they call. Callers should expect to experience a brief crisis screening initially.

  • 06Substandard houseLife is getting back to near normal at Fayetteville’s Mobile Manor mobile home park in Bonnie Doone. Electrical power will likely have been fully restored to all occupied trailers by week’s end. Many of the homes were hooked up late last week, and the only garbage dumpster serving the park was emptied. It was overflowing when code enforcement officers responded to an anonymous tip about dangerous electricity problems at a dozen trailers late last month. 

    They found what officials described as “an imminent threat to life and property.” Duke Energy disconnected power at the single electricity meter that serves as the point of delivery at the park. City officials said inspectors found about a dozen instances of life-threatening hazards at occupied trailers after getting an anonymous tip April 24. 

    Assistant City Manager Jay Reinstein said 37 families occupy the 45 trailers in the park. City police hand-delivered letters to residents the night before the power was turned off. “The information process should have started much earlier,” said Fayetteville City Councilwoman Tisha Waddell. She added that residents could have been alerted at the same time trailer park managers were told in April that they had to fix the problem or their power would be turned off.

    “We’ve been dealing with concerns out there for a long time,” said District 4 Councilman D. J. Haire. City manager Doug Hewett noted that code enforcement violations, which he called “deplorable,” had been levied against property manager Sheila Monsour previously. He said emergency vehicles would be unable to negotiate a bumpy, virtually impassable dirt road that winds through the property. 

    Hewett said Monsour was warned three times earlier this month about electrical hazards throughout the park. Issues ranged from exposed electrical conductors on individual meters to exposed energized terminals, according to Michael Martin, the city’s assistant development director

    The main meter is located on the lot of Army veteran Dewey McLamb. He showed a receipt book where he had paid his $150 monthly lot rent two months in advance. McLamb has lived at Mobile Manor mobile home park for nine years and subsists on a VA disability benefit and Social Security. 

    “Our code enforcement staff has limited knowledge of the electrical code, so we sent an electrical inspector out with our code enforcement staff to follow up on the complaint,” Martin said. He added that electrical hookups are not checked routinely when the city conducts sweeps of the city’s 17 mobile home parks.

    Absentee owner Portia Covington of Glen Allen, Virginia, said she and her sister, Valerea Russ of Fayetteville, took ownership of the property last year. Since then, Covington said, she has tried repeatedly to get Monsour to make property improvements. Monsour has the management lease on the trailer park and has for years. 

    City records indicate that Mobile Manor has been cited 219 times for code violations since 2010. Four fines of $200 each were levied since March of this year.

  • 05Gallberry Farm Elementary copyOn Tuesday, May 15, at 8:16 a.m., Gallberry Farm Elementary School in Hope Mills went under lock down. A man who was seen wandering the school had not checked in with the school’s office. Cumberland County Schools Chief Communication Officer Renarta Moyd said, “An unidentified man walked into the school cafeteria looking for his child and was acting strangely. As a precaution, the school went into code red lockdown. Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputies responded and took him into custody.”

    Lt. Sean Swain, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s spokesman, explained, “The School Resource Officer from Grey’s Creek responded and had the unidentified man in custody at 8:26 a.m. When our K-9 officer arrived, the suspect was already in handcuffs.” 

    The man, identified as 33-year-old Pierre Kevon Miller of Fayetteville, was charged with trespassing, damage to property, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. He did not have a weapon. No one was harmed, and there was no further incident. Sheriff deputies investigated why the man was in the school. Lt. Swain added, “The school’s prep plan took place like it was supposed to.”

    Will term limits increase?

    Some members of Fayetteville City Council are contemplating a change to council members’ term limits from two to four years. The idea was discussed during a council work session on May 7. Councilman Larry Wright said he thinks it makes sense to give the elected official time to do policy. 

    Councilman Jim Arp is against the idea. He said, “After what we’ve just gone through,” referring to the recent controversy with former Councilman Tyrone Williams, that it’s not fair to the citizens to not give them new options at the two-year point. 

    Councilwoman Kathy Jensen expressed that voter turnout would be boosted in the years that the mayor would run. And she noted that the district where the mayor lives would see higher turnout

    Mayor Pro Tem Ted Mohn mentioned the council previously considered four-year terms but the vote was deadlocked at 5-5.

    May 28, City Council will hold a public hearing on its desire to extend members terms of office from two years to four years. If the city code is changed, the members’ four-year terms would likely be staggered, although that provision is not included in the resolution. The proposed changes would take place following the next municipal election in November 2019.

    Opioid Use Disorder 

    The use and abuse of opioids is now considered a chronic issue. The North Carolina League of Women Voters says nearly half the people with Opioid Use Disorder have no health insurance coverage. They cannot be accepted into rehab programs, pay for medications or receive longterm care. 

    NC House Bill 662, dubbed Carolina Cares, proposes an affordable insurance-like program for working North Carolinians who are not eligible for Medicaid. Unintentional opioid overdose deaths have risen dramatically over the last 16 years, according to the NCLWV. Heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic drugs are outpacing prescription medications as the principal cause of overdoses.

    The LWV urges the state legislature to conduct a hearing on the Carolina Cares proposal during the legislative session now underway.

    Animal shelter pet adoption hours change

    The Cumberland County Animal Control Shelter, located at 4704 Corporation Dr., has temporarily adjusted its weekday hours for adoption services. The shelter now opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is open Saturday from 1-5 p.m. Drop-off and owner claim hours remain unchanged. 

    The change in adoption hours results from staffing changes at the shelter. The new schedule ensures adequate staff is available in the afternoons, which is the shelter’s busiest time. 

    “The change in hours should have minimal-tono-impact on adoptions,” said Shelter Manager Jennifer Hutchinson-Tracy. “We would never do anything that would make it more difficult for an animal to be adopted or reclaimed.”

    Shelter attendants will be better able to focus on caring for the animals and cleaning and preparing the animal housing areas. 

    Learn & Burn Longleaf Pine Workshop

    Private landowners are invited to an Evening Learn & Burn Longleaf Pine Workshop. The workshop will be held Thursday, May 31, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., at 535 Speight Rd., West End, North Carolina. Dinner will be included.

    Grant funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (http://nfwf.org) makes this a no-cost event for attendees. There will be discussions and demonstrations (weather permitting) about the opportunities for prescribed burning during the growing season. Attendees will learn best management practices for pinestraw raking as well as converting from loblolly to longleaf. Beetle prevention will also be discussed. RSVP to Jesse Wimberley, Sandhills Area Land Trust, by calling 910-603-1052 or emailing jesse@sandhillslandtrust.org.

  • 04Lone Ranger and Tonto 1956We are almost halfway through 2018. Just 50 short years ago, we were half way through 1968, which was one difficult year. The 71st High School class of 1968 and I graduated the day Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Climb on board Mr. Peabody’s Way Back machine to waste three minutes of your time reading this column. Most Dook graduates, being slow readers, will lose five minutes of their life reading this stain on world literature.

    To give you some perspective of how long ago 1968 was, consider that in 1968 the TV series “The Lone Ranger” had been in reruns since 1957. High school graduates in 1968 grew up watching the Lone Ranger, who was a bit of a time traveler himself. Who among us of a certain delicate age can forget the opening lines of the Lone Ranger bidding us to travel back into the past?

    “A fiery horse with the speed of light and a cloud of dust, and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver away! With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.” 

    with the Lone Ranger, chasing bad guys. Some of you who came in late and are not yet calendar-impaired may not get the cultural importance of the Lone Ranger. Please stop reading this column and return to watching cat videos on your cellphone. 

    The Lone Ranger, played by the excellent Clayton Moore, was the sole survivor of a troop of Texas Rangers who had been bushwhacked by bad guys. The Lone Ranger wore a mask, roaming the West, bringing justice and capturing the lonely hearts of pioneer women who endured unrequited love for him. 

    He always rode away at the end of each episode, leaving a lovely lady pining for the handsome stranger behind the mask. It was an early version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” At the end of each episode, after the Lone Ranger had solved the crime with the bad guys in the calaboose, someone would ask: “Who was that masked man?” A more knowledgeable someone would say, “It was the Lone Ranger.” The Lone Ranger would yell, “Hi-Yo Silver and away!” and ride off into the sunset. Fade to commercial. 

    Some unkind critics said the Lone Ranger loved his horse, Silver, more than he loved the ladies. Not so, he was just too busy fighting bad guys to settle down on a ranch with a good woman. Fighting for law and order in the early West was a full-time job. His faithful Indian companion, Tonto, was played by Jay Silverheels, who was a Canadian Indian. Tonto’s job was to be the Lone Ranger’s sidekick, chasing bad guys or hanging out by a ranch or in a box canyon, waiting for the bad guys to show up. Mostly, Tonto would get captured and beaten up. Then the Lone Ranger would save him. Less frequently, Tonto would rescue the Lone Ranger from the guys in black hats. It was clearly a politically incorrect TV show. 

    It culturally misappropriated Native American culture by making Tonto the Lone Ranger’s flunky. Tonto always called the Lone Ranger “Kemosabe,” which some amateur linguists said meant “Dumbo” or an even worse insult that is not printable in a family newspaper.

    The Lone Ranger had a vaguely defined financial interest in a silver mine. As a result, he named his horse Silver and would only shoot silver bullets into bad guys. It is unclear whether being shot by a silver bullet was less painful than being shot by a lead bullet. It does seem classier to have silver bullets pierce vital internal organs. Even in 2018, thanks to the Lone Ranger, the term “silver bullet” remains in use when discussing some remedy for an intractable problem. 

    In addition to plugging bad guys, silver bullets are very useful in killing werewolves. While the TV series never showed the Lone Ranger fighting a werewolf, the possibility remains that the Lone Ranger might have been born in central Europe, where werewolves were quite common.

    One can never be too careful about werewolves. Gentle Reader, even you might become a werewolf, under the right conditions. Remember the ancient chant: “Even a man who is pure in heart/And says his prayers by night/May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms/And the autumn moon is bright.”

    If your significant other has recently purchased a magazine of silver bullets, buy a Kevlar vest and do not go outside during the next full moon. The life you save may be your own.

    Hi-Yo Silver and away!

  • 03Marg eatOver the last 12 months, I have been a traveling fool. 

    Perhaps I am making up for all the years I could not travel because of family and work obligations. Perhaps I feel the increasingly heavy press of time. Probably it is both, coupled with a real curiosity about the rest of the world and how others live.

    My most recent travels have taken me to Africa on safari in Tanzania last summer and last month to Peru and Bolivia. I never imagined hiking in the Andes, but I did at 13,000 feet or so and lived to report it. Such trips add immeasurably to my understanding of the world in all sorts of ways, including what people eat in other places. 

    My practice is to try most anything once – not quite CNN’s Anthony Bourdain, but I have tasted and enjoyed lots of new dishes. I drew the line only once in Peru, which has a signature delicacy called cuy. What exactly is cuy? Cuy is what you and I know as guinea pig, and a Dickson Precious Jewel had an albino guinea pig named Ace (Ventura) as a pet when he was in the second grade. That did it for me, and our guide consoled me with this thought. If you name it, don’t eat it – and I did not. We did discover a small village devoted to cuy restaurants. Note my facial reaction in the attached photo. Full disclosure. I never really loved Ace myself, but that does not mean I could eat him or any of his distant relatives.

    Interestingly, though, I lost a little weight on both trips even though I ate almost anything that crossed my plate, including breads and dessert most days. 

    The reason, I now believe, is that countries like Tanzania, Peru and Bolivia do not have the processed and preserved foods that are staples for us. Most families grow and raise most of what they eat and shop daily for the rest in small local shops. The fare is not especially gourmet, but it is absolutely fresh and prepared and eaten within a short period of time. What you and I think of as a full-service supermarket is almost nonexistent in these countries. The few that may be spotted in major cities still differ from ours in that they offer fresh local meats and produce, not products that have been preserved and transported thousands of miles to get to their tables.

    All of this has reminded me yet again that food shopping in our mega groceries, offering everything from actual food to tooth brushes and insect repellant, must be strategic. Wandering around is rarely a healthy option. Planning ahead can keep you and your family healthier.

    Here are a few tips I have gleaned over the years and try to practice, some days with more success than on others.

    If what you pick up has ingredients that sound more like a chemistry lab than coming from plants or animals, you might consider putting it back on the shelf. Ditto if the words “processed” or “preservative” are on the package, especially if they appear more than once.

    Shop the perimeter of your supermarket for produce, meats and dairy items. Skip the interior aisles filled with processed cookies, crackers, chips loaded with calories and low in nutrition

    Keep an eye on people you know who are healthy and of normal weight. They are doing something right, so consider following their examples.

    Acknowledge that restaurant portions are way too generous. Think about putting part of your order in a “to go” box at the outset. That way you will not over eat, and you will have another meal for later. Remember, too, that luscious as they may be, buffets are not your friends for healthy eating.

    Try not to let yourself get too hungry between meals so that the next meal or snack turns into a total rout of everything edible within sight.

    So, travel when you can to learn how others live, whether it is to the next state or the next continent. It will enrich your life, and – as a prescription drug TV spot says – “it may even help you lose a little weight.

  • 20Tia BookerTia Booker

    Jack Britt

    • Basketball

    • Senior

    Booker has a 3.92 gradepoint average.

    She is a member of the Total Image Club, volunteers at her church and is employed part-time.She has been accepted at North Carolina State University.


    21Andrew BoyleAndrew Boyle

    Gray’s Creek

    • Baseball

    • Junior

    While playing for the Bears’ baseball team, Boyle has maintained a grade point average of 4.19.

  • 19Dr. Marvin Connelly JrDr. Marvin Connelly Jr., the new superintendent of Cumberland County Schools, hasn’t had a lot of direct involvement in athletics during his long career in education, but he views the school athletic program as a vital part of the total education package.

    Connelly said most of his ties to athletics came during his stints as principal at both the middle school and high school levels.

    “I’m not an athletic kind of guy myself, but I love athletics,’’ he said. “If you live in North Carolina, you have to love sports, especially basketball.’’

    Connelly served as principal at Raleigh’s Athens Drive High School, and one of the prized possessions in his current office at the Wake County Schools is an autographed baseball from one of Athens Drive’s biggest professional stars, Major League Baseball standout Josh Hamilton.

    Connelly said he has a passion about insuring that teams under his watch are successful, while still focusing on the fact that student-athletes are not just athletes who happen to be students.

    “Obviously, high school athletics are a crucial part of the total school program,’’ he said. He said research and data show that the dropout rate is lower for students involved in athletics as well as extracurricular and cocurricular activities.

    “I think it’s important for schools to have strong extracurricular and cocurricular programs,’’’ he said.

    Connelly expects coaches and athletic directors to understand that the athletes are students first, and that athletics is as much about what happens off the field as it is on.

    “I think when you can build that character in your players and character in your coaching staff, winning is important,’’ he said, “but you’ve got to win on the field and off the field.’’

    Connelly said he plans to meet with various leader groups within the school system, including the school system’s athletic directors and principals. “We would want to talk with them and see what the successes are, what the challenges are and how I may partner with them as a group to build upon the successes and overcome the challenges,’’ he said.

    He plans to try and spend some time in Fayetteville and Cumberland County between now and when he officially takes over from interim superintendent Tim Kinlaw in July.

    “I want to make sure I’m listening to folks and getting with as many stake holder groups as I can during this first 100 days,’’ he said. “I want to focus on listening, hearing their successes, hearing their concerns as we begin to do some work and develop our strategic plans.’’


    PHOTO: Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr.

  • 18Pine Forest golf team copyAt the Patriot Athletic Conference 3-A/4-A golf competition for the season, Terry Sanford’s Hunter Leclair mounted a successful rally, and Pine Forest held off a surging Cape Fear team in the final round.

    The closing tournament was held at Baywood Golf Course a week ago Monday.

    Leclair entered the final match of the season seven shots back of first-place Josiah Hopkins of Pine Forest and just two shots ahead of Cape Fear’s Logan Sessoms, who was playing on his home course.

    Leclair responded with a second consecutive round of 77, allowing him to surge past Hopkins and barely edge Sessoms for first place. Leclair had a season average of 78.67 to 79.0 for Sessoms.

    Leclair said it was tough to win this season because Sessoms and Hopkins consistently posted good scores. “I was just trying to hang in there,’’ he said.

    During the final match, his goal was to stay a stroke or two away from Sessoms. “The best I could do was match him,’’ Leclair said. “I was able to get one ahead at the end. If I could keep pace with him, I knew I was having a great round.’’

    Leclair felt wedge play was the key to his win in the final round. “I had at least five or six birdie putts inside of 10 feet after I had a wedge in my hands,’’ he said. “I was feeling real confident if I could get into that range I was going to walk away with at worst a par.’’

    The season ended in a bit of a surprise for the Pine Forest team. Coach Wayne Lee thought his squad might have a shot at contending, but he also knew Terry Sanford and Cape Fear were going to be solid opponents.

    “We were good at the beginning of the season,’’ Lee said. “That helped a lot. We pretty much stayed consistent the whole season. We’ve definitely been the most consistent team week to week.’’

    Lee said the unquestioned leader of his team has been Hopkins, a sophomore. His 85 in the final round was his worst round of the season. Prior to that he’d been under 80 for six rounds, with his previous high before last Monday an 82.

    “He’s also been our leader in the clubhouse,’’ Lee said. “He keeps everybody loose. If somebody hits a bad shot at practice, he’ll say, ‘Come here, let’s work on that.’

    “He’s definitely been the go-to guy. He’s been my assistant coach out there.’’

    Hopkins said he had high expectations for himself this spring and felt iron play has been the key to his success. “From 100 to 200 yards, you give me an iron in my hand from the middle of the fairway and I can put it somewhere close, like 20 or 30 feet,’’ he said. “Iron play is definitely the strength of my game.’’

    The hottest team as the regular season is ending is Cape Fear.

    The Colts won last year’s conference title and finished the regular season sharing second in the April 16 tournament at Cypress Lakes Golf Course, then winning the final two tournaments at Highland and Baywood.

    “I know we didn’t play a tour potential early on,’’ said Cape Fear coach Todd Edge. “We’ve got a very young team, Logan being the only senior. We’ve got no juniors,and the rest are freshmen and sophomores.’’

    Colton Danks, one of the Cape Fear returners, finished third behind Sessoms in the final standings with an 83.67 stroke average per round.

    “I’m proud of the way they finished the last two weeks,’’ Edge said. “It gives us a little momentum going into the regionals.’’

    The regional tournaments for the 3-A and 4-A classifications were held prior to the publication of this story.

    Regional play for 3-A teams was scheduled last Monday at Whispering Pines and 4-A at Anderson Creek.

    State tournaments are next Monday, with 4-A at Pinehurst No. 6 and 3-A at Longleaf.


    PHOTO: The Pine Forest golf team, L - R: Head coach Wayne Lee, Dylan Hicks, Josiah Hopkins, Jonathan Rose, Whitt Badgett, Walker Shearin and Brandon Shepard.

  • 11F2TMovies can transport us to any place or time or culture. They engage the entire spectrum ofhuman emotions. We can laugh over life’s little failures or die a thousand deaths of heartbreak through the characters that flit across the screen. But really, we love movies because we love the shared experience.

    “Frame to Table” aims to celebrate the shared experience of film culture on Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m. at SkyView on Hay. It is a fundraiser with a unique twist that will benefit the third annual Indigo Moon Film Festival.

    With food and wines reminiscent of legendary movies, attendees can enjoy a “culinary trip around the world.”

    Pat Wright and Jan Johnson are the co-directors of the nonprofit putting on the fundraiser, as well as the organizers of the film festival. Both agreed the inspiration for this distinctive fundraiser stems from the desire to celebrate a love of movies.

    “There are certain films that are in our childhood that we love and mark moments in our lives where the family will all be gathered around the television or they all go out to a drive-in,” said Wright. “Film is very important cultural art, and we want people to remember how important film is to them and their personal history.”

    Though the films and local caterers have yet to be chosen for the event, the organizers promise attendees will not be disappointed.

    “It’s for movie lovers,” said Johnson. “We love decorating the tables to reflect the different ethnic areas like Italian or Vietnamese or Thai or African. There are films associated with all of those countries, so we just think it’s fun. People really enjoyed it last year.

    ”You can expect movies like “The King and I” for China or “Good Morning, Vietnam!” for, of course, Vietnam. Clips from the movies will play at each table chosen to represent a different country and its cuisines.

    According to Wright and Johnson, the fundraiser works as a way to “ignite excitement” about the upcoming Indigo Moon Film Festival. Seeing familiar movies from the past reminds festival-goers of the brand new international films to be screened in a few months.

    Last year, hundreds of people gathered to watch films submitted from all over the world. According to Wright, films have already been submitted from as far away as Afghanistan, Iraq and China this year.

    The fundraiser is vital to the film festival because it provides necessary funding to bring the filmmakers to Fayetteville.

    “Filmmaking is a difficult life and you often do a lot of work for not much money and very little in the way of screenings or recognition,” said Wright. “We want to do everything we can to encourage the directors to come and to be apart of the festival screening.”

    In fact, last year, the Indigo Moon Film Festival was the North Carolina premiere site for the acclaimed documentary “Hondros,” featuring Chris Hondros and directed by Greg Campbell. Both were Fayetteville natives and Terry Sanford High School graduates. According to Variety, the film has gone on to be purchased by Netflix.

    “We hope they have a great time (at the fundraiser), learn a little about how to attend a film festival and bring films up in their minds and remind them how much they love film,” said Wright.

    Indigo Moon will accept film submissions until July 30. Categories include feature-length and short narrative and documentary films, animation and student films.

    “Frame to Table” will take place at SkyView Lounge on Hay Street. Tickets are $50 per person. Visit www.indigomoonfilmfestival.com/f2t/tolearn more and to reserve your seats.

  • 09illusionistsv2Whether it is fictional characters like Harry Potter or real-life figures such as Harry Houdini or the unknown magician who came to your elementary school doing parlor tricks, we all need a little magic in our lives. It was Roald Dahl who once said, “Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Well, you can find it May 10 at the Crown Theatre. “The Illusionists– Live from Broadway” will perform for one night in Fayetteville as part of the Community Concerts season.

    The production features five renowned performers doing the variety of magic they each know best.

    Jonathan Goodwin is “The Daredevil.” Think Evel Knievel for the modern era. He performs death-defying acts such as being hanged, buried alive, attacked by sharks and even burned at the stake. The claim is that, unlike the other performers, Goodwin’s acts are not illusions but real stunts.

    Colin Cloud is “The Deductionist.” He is the Sherlock Holmes of entertainment, if Holmes had a flair for comedy. He will know what any given audience member had for breakfast that day, what kind of car they drive or even their pin code.

    An Ha Lim and Jeff Hobson have been part of The Illusionists in the past and are back again this year as “The Manipulator” and “The Trickster,” respectively.

    The last of the five members is Kevin James. No, not the “Mall Cop” actor, but “The Inventor” who does specialty magic.

    “I invent all of my magic,” said James. “I try very hard to find some kind of emotional hook to take the spectators on a journey with me. Sometimes it will be sweet and innocent; other times you can feel nostalgic and other times shocking.”

    According to The Illusionists tour webpage, James is one of the most-viewed magicians on YouTube. He’s traveled to over 80 countries and headlined countless prominent venues. Even more impressive is the fact that he’s done royal performances like in the days of old magicians – for the likes of the Prince of Monaco and the Sultan of Dubai and at the White House for former President Barack Obama.

    “This process from taking a scribble on a napkin to finally getting applause from an audience is very soul-fulfilling,” said James. “I plan to do this therest of my days.”

    James, of relation to the legendary showman P.T. Barnum, has had his tricks in the acts of other prominent magicians like Doug Henning and David Copperfield. One of the most famous is the “Floating Rose” trick, where a piece of paper transforms into a paper rose before, finally, into a real rose.

    “Scientists are the easiest people to fool and kids are the hardest,” revealed James. “The scientists are very convinced that they know how the world works, so you can play upon their assumptions. The kids don’t have hardcore assumptions yet. Their minds are more open. So they can find the method faster. The best-kept secret is that there are no real secrets. Magicians are guarding an empty safe.

    “My favorite bits for me are when I am interacting with the audience one-on-one. You never know what they will say or do. There is nothing like seeing magic live and in-person. You cannot shrug it off as a camera trick when it is happening right in front of your eyes, inches away.”

    “The Illusionist – Live from Broadway” performance will be at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 10. For tickets or to learn more about Community Concerts, go to www.community-concerts.com

  • 01 coverUAC0050218001Twenty-two years ago, Holly Whitley was only six months into operating her new Legends Pub on Bragg Boulevard when she hosted the first Spring Fling. She’d intended to host a casual fun run, but then, a friend was in a motorcycle accident that rendered him temporarily unable to work. She turned the Spring Fling into a benefit to help him and his wife cover their bills. Since then, the Spring Fling has stayed true to these roots and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support community members who are in immediate need. This year’s Spring Fling takes place May 4-6 at Legends Pub.

    “We like to stay in our community,” Whitley said. “We’re not knocking large organizations or anything like that, but we really believe in taking care of our own community.”

    The funds raised this year will benefit Lisa Horne, a member of The Steele Angels Riding Club. The Steele Angels are a local nonprofit group made up of women motorcyclists who support and conduct fundraising events to assist women and underprivileged children in need. Steele Angels founder and president Wendy Rogers said, “Lisa was in a terrible motorcycle accident on March 31, and as always, bikers come together and help each other. Bikers are, in my book, some of the most amazing people on this earth. They have hearts as big as the world.

    “Lisa Horne has a love for the steel horses (motorcycles); she has a love for the furry horses as well. She has loved horses since she was 11 years old and loves to ride them as well. She has been a member of The Steele Angels for over 8 years and is also a member of some horse-riding clubs. She has served and is still active in the military; I call her our ‘Military Girl.’ She served in South Korea, Afghanistan and on other tours. She has four children and five grandchildren.”

    The Steele Angels Riding Club has always had close ties with Whitley and Legends Pub, but this is the first time a Steele Angel has benefited from the Spring Fling.

    “It’s kind of a blessing when we don’t have an individual to do Spring Fling for,” Whitley said. “That means one of our friends has not been hurt. One of us has not been put in distress. We like to take care of our own, but we don’t want to have to.”

    Friday, May 4, kicks things off with a casual preparty at Legends. The doors open around 8 p.m. for pizza, drinks and the opportunity to participate in a pool tournament or raffle.

    Saturday, May 5, is the Scott Sather Memorial Run, an unchanging element of the Spring Fling since 2003. Sather was a regular at Legends and a member of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, an elite Air Force operations unit assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command at Pope Army Air Field. He was killed in Iraq on April 8, 2003, and is honored by a memorial in Freedom Memorial Park downtown.

    The ride will leave from Legends around noon and stop at spots like Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson, The Rednecks Yacht Club and VFW 370 on Dock Bennett Road, returning by 4:30 p.m. That evening will feature food, live music from Motorjunkie starting at 6 p.m., raffles and a live auction. “People bring in donations for everything (to be auctioned),” Whitley said. “Helmets, motorcycle jackets, lots of baskets (coffee, tea, facials from a spa)... it never fails that we have done well. We raised close to $15,000 in one event, and for one little bar on Bragg Boulevard, that’s pretty impressive. … People will also just write us checks and hand us money. They believe in the cause, they believe in what we’re doing.”

    Sunday, May 6, ends the weekend with a bikeshow. Anyone is welcome to participate by lining their bike up in front of the bar. “A lady stands at each one of the bikes,” Whitley said. “It’s not about the bike; it’s about raising the money. You get a dollar a vote.” The bike that wins the most money takes best of show.

    At the core of Whitley’s massive crew of friends, family and volunteers who make the Spring Fling possible are the Gypsy Women. It’s an ever-evolving group of women that’s been around since the 1980s, several years before Whitley opened Legends. Gypsy Women move away and return. As their daughters grow up, the Gypsy Women induct them into the group as well. One thing stays the same: they stick together and tangibly support each other through all life brings their way – deployment, divorce, illness and death as well as weddings, babies, promotions and new beginnings.

    “We started out in our 30s and 40s and now we’re in our 50s and 60s, a lot of us,” Whitley said. “But we get a lot of respect as the younger people are coming up in their 20s and 30s. They’re just as involved with us, and it’s nice to see the different age groups of women work so well together. And being a Gypsy Woman is really just being able to give your heart out and help people – to support our causes that we choose together in conversation.

    “We see someone in a situation where we know they would be there for us if we were in that situation. My kids grew up with these benefits, and I’ve watched them take care of their friends. It’s a generation thing. My bar has lots of parents, or even grandparents, that come in and drink with them.”

    Over the last 22 years, the Spring Fling has enabled community members to pay for mammograms, cancer treatments, hospital bills and living expenses while going through difficult times. There have also been many years when there was not an individual who needed the Spring Fling’s funds. Those years, the event has benefited organizations like the Child Advocacy Center; Falcon Children’s Home; Hope Mills Sunshine Center Inc.; Fayetteville Hyperbarics, LLC; Fayetteville Animal ProtectionSociety; the NC Veterans Home; and the Kidsville News Literacy & Education Foundation, among many others.

    Legends Pub also extends a special thank you to Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins and veteran motorcycle police officer Derick Boyd for their assistance in making this year’s event possible.

    Legends Pub is located at 4624 Bragg Blvd # 1. Overflow parking will be available just past the bar on the right, in the parking lot of Ken’s Muffler and Auto Repair. Call Legends at 910-867-2364 for more information.

  • 09Caroline 2Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s production of “Caroline, or Change” is a beautiful, necessary and visceral work of art. I cried three times. And I will probably pay to see it again. 

    “Caroline” was not the show I expected it to be. Neither was its protagonist. After interviewing Director Bryan Conger and lead actress Joy Ducree Gregory two weeks ago, I knew a few things. I knew the washing machine, dryer, radio, moon and bus are all played by people. I knew it’s a show deeply rooted in memory and imagination. I knew Caroline is a sad character. And I knew the story is all about change.

    But I didn’t know the washing machine would feel like a wise, kind aunt. I didn’t know the dryer would emanate both sensuality and fear. I didn’t know the moon would feel so disconnected from and yet sympathetic to the humans below.

     The way these imaginary characters sing, riding in and out of Jeanine Tesori’s score, creates an atmosphere of authentic human experience that’s better than realism. In the hot, damp basement where Caroline spends her days doing laundry as a maid, the audience is given a window into the way Caroline thinks and feels about and remembers her past — a window Caroline can no longer offer to real people. 

    When she sings in that basement and is joined by the washer’s song, the radio’s song and the moon’s, it’s like seeing bright colors painted right next to each other — distinct and yet blending in the mind’s eye to create something real, fresh and relatable.

    I also didn’t know a sad, angry and hopeless protagonist could be so compelling and inspiring. 

    I don’t think we see enough characters like Caroline onstage. She was so very real. Ducree Gregory does an incredible job. The show is worth attending on the basis of her final song alone. The maturity, dignity and responsibility with which Ducree Gregory brings Caroline to life as a three-dimensional and complex woman who yes, is sad, is powerful.

    The entire cast is phenomenal. Their onstage chemistry was a bit slow to start, but once they found their groove, I didn’t care; I was just there with them, completely absorbed in their world. 

    Kesimy Martinez stood out as Caroline’s oldest daughter, Emmy. Martinez has a unique presence — an understated confidence and spunk, and an expressive voice with impressive control. Christian Lattimore and Henry Gregory IV are delightful and completely unaffected in their acting as Caroline’s two younger sons, Jackie and Joe. Michael Bertino is endearingly awkward and boyish as the son of the Jewish family Caroline
    works for.

    The last thing I did not know, going into this show, is that the change this story is really about is a kind I’d never seen onstage before. The story is set in Louisiana, 1963; the number of political and social changes going on outside of Caroline are numerous, and those are addressed. Then there’s pocket change; I won’t say more than that this kind of change is important to the story, and to one particular relationship. Lastly, there’s this other kind of change: “That’s how Caroline will change — that’s how Caroline will rearrange herself.” Caroline sings out these words in the show’s most beautiful and heartbreaking moment. To understand this last kind of change, you have to see the show. It’s more than worth it.

    CFRT invites the public to attend a pre-show conversation focused on the civil rights movement May 18 from 6:30-7:15 p.m., facilitated by Reverend Cureton Johnson. This event was made possible because CFRT received the prestigious NEA “Art Works” Grant for “Caroline, or Change.”

    The show runs through May 28. Tickets cost $15-$25 and can be purchased by visiting www.cfrt.org or calling (910) 323- 4233.

  • 18UniqueNashUnique Nash

    Seventy-First • Softball • Freshman

    Nash put together a 3.65 grade point average while playing for the Falcon softball team this season.






    19ZacheryBagleyZachery Bagley

    Gray’s Creek • Baseball • Senior

    Bagley had a 5.0 grade point average as a member of the Bears’ baseball team this spring.

  • 17PrepNotebook AlphonzaKeeFamiliar faces will be filling a couple of coaching positions at Cumberland County high schools next year.

    Cape Fear has named former Fayetteville State mens’ basketball coach Alphonza Kee as its boys’ basketball coach while South View has picked veteran assistant coach Phil Dean as its new softball coach.

    Kee replaces Robert Strong, who left Cape Fear to become head coach at Bethlehem Christian Academy in Georgia. At this writing, Kee’s hiring was still awaiting final approval of the Cumberland County Board of Education.

    “I’m excited I’ve got somebody coming with such high character and passion for teaching young men,’’ said Cape Fear principal Lee Spruill. “He’s not just a coach, he’s also an educator.’’

    Kee said he wants to lay a foundation of hard work, character and discipline. “We want... to try to get a feeder system started and start teaching from the ground up,’’ he said.

    Kee spent seven years at Fayetteville State and was 91-105 overall and 47-70 in the CIAA. His first head coaching job was at Max Abbott Middle School where he won a championship.

    Dean will be moving into his first head coaching job after a long career at South View that included coaching both football and softball.

    “I’m excited to have my first head coaching position at my alma mater,’’ the 1979 South View graduate said. “I look forward to building on the excellence that has been established before.’’

    He started with the softball team under the late Eddie Dees in 1999, then continued when Kellie Aldridge took over the program. He got out of softball coaching from 2009-14, then returned to help Aldridge coach the current class of seniors.

    Aldridge recently announced she is leaving South View for family reasons and will join the staff at Gray’s Creek High School where she will assist with coaching the softball team.

    • Because of space limitations, this week’s scheduled spring football preview of Pine Forest was held. It will appear in next week’s edition of Up &
    Coming Weekly

    Photo: Cape Fear has named former Fayetteville State mens’ basketball coach Alphonza Kee as its boys’ basketball coach. 

  • 16RichieKingTerry Sanford boys’ tennis coach Gene Autry is still getting over the sting of a 5-4 loss to Matthews Weddington High School in this year’s state 3-A dual team tennis finals.

    But one thing that’s making it easier is checking the Bulldog tennis roster as he plans for next season.

    “We have only one senior that starts,’’ he said. “That’s Richie King in the six hole.’’

    King worked with brothers Henry and Nathan Lieberman to provide Terry Sanford the four wins the Bulldogs scored in the championship match with Weddington. Even with his exit, Terry Sanford will return all the starters at the first five singles positions.

    “The Liebermans will only get better with their extensive schedule of summer tournaments,’’ Autry said. 

    Another dedicated player is Alex Kasari at third court. Autry said Kasari also is committed to off-season work. He’s also got confidence in the players at the remaining two spots, Andrew Zahran and Dev Sashidar.

    The only question left is who will play No. 6 next year. Right now a pair of players who will be seniors next season, Josh Blackman and Michael Hicks, are the leading candidates. Hicks is part of one of the richest bloodlines in Terry Sanford tennis history. 

    His mother, Margit Monaco Hicks, teamed with her sister Lisa Monaco Wheless to win the N.C. High School Athletic Association girls’ doubles championship four years in a row back in the 1970s.

    When Denzel Wallace took over as softball coach at Fayetteville Christian this season, he thought chances for a state title were solid even though the defending 2-A N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association champ Freedom Christian was in the same town.

    “I thought with some hard work, we’d be able to be there at the end,’’ he said. Wallace proved right as Fayetteville Christian met Freedom in the double elimination finals of this year’s state tournament and came away with the victory and a 16-3 record.

    Fayetteville was led by sophomore pitcher Morgan Hatchell, who was named the NCISAA 2-A softball player of the year.

    “Throughout the season she was steady,’’ Wallace said. “She pitched every game for us and always kept low numbers.’’

    Wallace said Hatchell averaged about two earned runs per game. “We knew what we were getting out of her and we knew she would compete to the very end.

    “Everybody believed in her ability the whole year to get us there.’’

    Looking ahead to the 2018 season, Wallace is optimistic about chances for a repeat.

    “Our whole group was young,’’ he said of this year’s team. “We had a couple of seventh graders and an eighth grader starting. I think having the same coach and same group of players, we’ll be able to get a head start on the things we need to.’’ 

    Joining Hatchell on the NCISAA 2-A All-State team from Fayetteville Christian were Destiny Smith and Olivia Nieto.

    Chosen from Freedom Christian were Makenzie Mason, Haley Nelson, Miranda McKoy, Kendal McCauley and Molly Montgomery. Also selected was Aubrey Griffin of Village Christian.

    Photo: Richie King, senior at Terry Sanford, tennis player

  • 15JadeJordanJade Jordan of Pine Forest High School recently wrapped up her outstanding track career for the Trojans in style.

    At this year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A championship meet at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, Jordan won her second consecutive state title in the long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 6.5 inches.

    Counting her previous indoor long jump championship, that’s three state titles. She was also a freshman national champion in the long jump. Add to that the fact Jordan was a dual performer in the spring for Pine Forest, running track while being a star player on the Trojan soccer team, and her feat becomes even more impressive.

    Terry Wickham, track coach at Pine Forest, said Jordan ranks among the top three track athletes he’s ever coached at the school.

    “Lincoln Carr won six state titles in the long jump and triple jump,’’ he said. “Ryan Davis won three titles in the shot put.’’

    Wickham said if Jordan had competed in track alone she possibly could have added state titles in events like the 300 hurdles and the triple jump, but her demanding athletic schedule wouldn’t allow her time to do the sport-specific training in those other events.

    “She works extremely hard and has the passion to compete,’’ Wickham said.

    Jordan wasn’t the only Fayetteville and Cumberland County athlete to fare well in this year’s track championships. In the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A/2-A meet, athletes from Fayetteville Christian and Fayetteville Academy had big performances.

    • Fayetteville Christian’s Nashya Pagan was a double winner for the Warriors. She took the 100 and 200-meter dashes with times of 12.47 and 25.93.

    • Fayetteville Christian also had a trio of winning relay teams. The girls triumphed in the 4x100 and 4x200 while the boys’ won the 4x400.

    • The 4x400 boys’ team of Eli Sutton, Brennan Gantt and twins Jaylen and Jamarii Green broke the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association state record with a time of 3:30.87.

    • Pagan, Chiara Waddy-Arce, Aeryon Davis and O’Mauri Robinson won both the 4x200 and the 4x100. Their times were 1:48.16 and 51.79,

    • Also participating in the 1-A/2-A meet was Fayetteville Academy’s Morgan Dorsey. Dorsey triumphed in the 800 meter run for the Eagles with a time of 2:20.72.

  • 14JimJonesOn June 29, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, making medians part of the American highway landscape. The bill created a 41,000-mile “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” that would, according to Eisenhower, eliminate unsafe roads, inefficient routes, traffic jams and all the other things that got in the way of “speedy, safe transcontinental travel.” 

    Today, you only have to drive a few miles to know that Fayetteville is taking road medians to a new level. These medians are still under construction, which means these areas are dangerous to everyone — particularly motorcyclists.  

    Road construction demands orange cones, barrels, debris and drivers making sudden stops. I was on Bragg Boulevard the other day and within seconds, a cone was out into the lane. A police car was there attending an accident, because someone rear-ended the car in front of them while making a left-hand turn. Combine all of this with large machines kicking up asphalt, and you’ve got a recipe for a motorcycle danger zone.   

    As good motorcyclists, we have to pay attention to our surroundings. We know we have a limited time to react when an event happens. As riders, we have one goal in order to stay safe: maintain the space around us. 

    In order get that space, we must be ready to be able to stop and stop suddenly. It is important to note that many modern motorcycles have Anti-lock Brake System. Based on information from wheel speed sensors, the ABS unit adjusts the pressure of the brake fluid in order to keep traction and avoid fall downs (e.g. maintain deceleration). On bikes without ABS, riders must use their skills to provide balance between the front and back brakes. 

    How long does it take to stop? Reaction times depend on two major factors: the bike and the rider. 

    It takes an alert, experienced rider a little less than a second to process the situation. To be a little more precise, it takes about 0.7 seconds with good brakes, good tires, a smooth surface and a dry road to maximize your braking distance. This is assuming that the motorcyclist has their hands over the front brake and the foot in the ready position to press down on the rear brake. For a less experienced motorcyclist, it can take from 1.0 to 1.5 seconds to react — if they react at all. 

    Let’s say it takes 1.25 seconds before you react to danger. Going 40 mph, it can take 74 feet just to react. At 40 mph, under good conditions, it can take another 2.15 seconds to go from 40 mph to a stop. That is a traveling distance of 62 feet to stop. This is a total of 136 feet for a total of 3.75 seconds to come to a stop. 

    In normal traffic, we are taught to stay at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. This means you have a 1.75 second gap, and you will hit whatever it is that you are trying to avoid. 

    If you can’t avoid crashing, what do you do? Some suggest standing up and leaping in hopes hope you can fly over the obstacle. Others say to lay the bike down and slide towards the obstacle. Either way, you still have to contend with speed, force and the impact of the ground, and then possibly the obstacle. 

    Somewhere, your body will have to absorb the impact. The best thing to do is to avoid this situation all together, but if you are going to crash, you still have time lay on the brakes and let technology continue to slow you down. It is better to hit at something 5 mph than 25 mph. 

    If you have been reading my articles for any time, you know I am a big believer in riding with the proper riding gear: DOT full face helmet, eye protection, motorcycle jacket, motorcycle pants, boots and gloves. If you do hit, you will thank me for the reminder. 

    Stay safe and keep the rubber down. If there is a topic that you would like to discuss you can contact me at motorcycle4fun@aol.com. RIDE SAFE!

  • 13WCLN1Envy isn't always a bad thing. My father died when I was just 22 years old. Our first child was just a

    year old, and though we have a picture or two of them together, he can't say he ever knew him. The man my son and our two other children grew up calling Grandpa was Bill Harris.

    Bill was a welder. He worked at a company in Wichita, Kansas, that built rides for carnivals and amusement parks. We could be at a village festival in Germany, a theme park in California or a carnival in North Carolina, and Bill could point out a ride and tell you more about it than the operators. 

    He would readily admit that he was just one part of the process, but that never put a damper on his pride in the work the team collectively accomplished. That's what I envied about him: his ability to give credit where it was due; his knack for letting others be admired.

    Before he passed away, I flew out to Wichita to spend a week with him learning the art of wood turning. He was an amazing craftsman, and our family has plenty of items in and around our homes to attest to his penchant for quality.

    I think about Bill a lot. As time passes, my memories are filled with his pride in workmanship, and I wonder how many of us take the opportunity to appreciate seeing others enjoy what we do for a living, or as a hobby, for that matter. It's easy to clock in, do the work and go home at the end of the day, never seeing yourself as an important part of the bigger picture, but we all are. Regardless of your position in your job — whether as the CEO of a large firm, the person who cleans the floors in a school building, or the one who makes lunches as a stay-at-home mom or dad — you are part of a bigger picture. And every part matters.

    I’m reminded of where it says in the Bible, “...for the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?”

    So whatever it is you do, do it well. You can flourish and be full of joy in knowing you are part of something bigger. With Bill, there have been hundreds of thousands of people who entered and safely exited amusement rides and never knew whom to thank for how much they enjoyed themselves. 

    And just like Bill, there are people counting on you to do a great job today, and whether it's today or twenty years from now, many of them will never know your name, but they'll be thankful nonetheless.

    Photo: Dan DeBruler, Dorothy DeBruler, Jolene Harris and Bill Harris

  • 12PoeHouseThis summer Sweet Tea Shakespeare brings drama to the 1897 Poe House. June begins with a rendition of “Othello.”  It runs June 1-4, 11 and 15-18. 

    “This production sticks strongly to Shakespeare’s original text, but I would not call it a ‘classical’ production,” said Director Dennis Henry. “The approach to the play is one that is accessible and entertaining. The costumes are Victorian and the actors are modern, so the play feels new. There will be moments of audience interaction and Sweet Tea always creates a fun atmosphere around the play,” he added. 

    “Othello” is one of Shakespeare’s most popular works. It is a tragedy about Othello, a Moorish Venetian general, and his wife Desdemona. 

    Though written in 1603, the story deals with themes and issues that persist today. “One of the first things I noticed when reading ‘Othello’ with these actors is how modern this play feels,” Henry said. 

    “Many tragedies deal with kings and queens and issues of the government, but ‘Othello’ is personal. The action starts right away in this play and the issues being dealt with are jealousy, thirst for power, racism, illicit affairs and revenge. These are very personal issues that we deal with today and the characters are just like us,” Henry said. 

    The beautiful 1897 Poe House and garden have a unique and inviting atmosphere perfect for storytelling. This venue allows for the company’s minimalistic style, but it can also add a layer of difficulty for the cast. 

    “Outdoor venues are always a challenge since they are factors you can’t control,” Henry said. “How bad is the traffic noise? What will the wind be like each day? This is a good challenge, though, because the audience experience is so much fun in an outdoor setting, especially one as beautiful as the Poe House garden. Actors who are well-prepared will be able to deal with whatever may come up.” 

    Another aspect unique to Sweet Tea Shakespeare performances is how they carefully design every aspect of the performance experience. Audience members are engaged and entertained from the moment that they step foot into the venue. 

    “Sweet Tea has a very exciting approach where they seek to make the entire experience of attending the play exciting,” Henry said. “There is so much music and the actors chat with the audience. It is much more fun than just sitting in an auditorium reading the ads in the program. As a director, that makes it even more important to make sure the play is well-done, because I don’t want the play to get lost in all the other activity. With this cast, I am confident that won’t be the case!” 

    Sweet Tea’s second show of the summer, “The Dark Lady of the Sonnets,” runs June 8-10. This show is a break from what Sweet Tea Shakespeare usually brings to the stage, as The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company will be a collaborator. This is a professional touring Shakespeare Company from Michigan that partners with Sweet Tea for this performance. This group is known for their audience interaction, which builds an intimate relationship between audience members and performers.  

    “The Dark Lady of the Sonnets” is written by George Bernard Shaw. The story revolves around Shakespeare’s relationships with the inspiration for his plays and poetry: Queen Elizabeth I and the Dark Lady. The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company interweaves some of Shakespeare’s sonnets and live music into the performance for a unique exploration of Shakespeare and his work.  

    For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com.  


  • 11Foxshire1Most people can remember a specific interest that burned in their childhood hearts and led to like-minded friends, a secret club and glorious endeavors of creation. For the founding members of Foxshire Films, each person remembers one passion very clearly: love of motion pictures.

    Foxshire Films currently consists of four of its founding members — Samuel Heble, Brendan Alspach and brothers Nicholas and Gage Long — and recent recruit Kathryn Holden.

    “We want to challenge ourselves and the community around us to go forward artistically and just do it; pursue your dreams,” said Alspach. Heble agreed, adding, “I want our films to give glory to God in a way that’s truthful and destroys Christian art culture. We want to preach the gospel through messages that are really raw and in unique ways, straight from our hearts.”

    On December 12, 2015, Heble, the Long brothers and others who are no longer with the group met up at Coffee Scene to talk about film. At that meeting, everyone was full of restless energy and ready to turn their love for film into commitment and action. “It was very organic in a surprising way. … We got together and it was so collaborative that (the group’s formation) kind of just happened on its own,” Gage said. “The lack of things happening pushed us to commit,” added Nick.

    That’s not to say it was a picture-perfect start. They were working with a small amount of basic film equipment and an essentially non-existent budget. Their communication and organizational skills needed much improvement. 

    But they committed. They met every Wednesday for two to five hours. They spent time outside of that weekly meeting doing individual tasks like writing short film scripts, storyboarding or scouting film locations.

    And as they continued to meet, they just started doing it: making films, trying on roles and skills and getting their hands dirty. Their first production was “John Johnson” in January 2016, a one-and-a-half minute film that was shot in one day, in one room, with one actor — that actor being founding member Nick.

    Since then, they’ve made five more short films. Their most recent release, “One Night…,” is an 11-and-a-half minute comedy-suspense with five actors and an original score composed by Greensboro musician Andrew Beach and performed by music students at UNC Greensboro, with atmospheric lighting aided by a homemade fog machine. Another one of those five films, “Through the Treeline,” was accepted into Fayetteville’s Indigo Moon Film Festival in October 2016.

    This year, Foxshire showed its films and spoke at two public events, FTCC’s Off the Record: Artist Series night, and SKD’s Cultural Arts Festival. They plan to continue their forward momentum, aiming to build a growing network of film-lovers and dream-chasers in Fayetteville.

    Last summer, Foxshire made its first big effort to reach out to the community with a project titled The Fox Gathering. For this five-month project, Foxshire put out an open call to those interested in any aspect of filmmaking, like screenwriting, directing, acting or sound. The goal was not to create perfect products, but to give people a chance to jump into the filmmaking process and learn together regardless of skill level. A total of 33 people participated, and the result was three short films. Collin Tubbs, Fox Gathering participant, said, “(It) was really open to whoever was interested and invested in it. …It was like a breath of fresh air.”

    The resounding theme of my interview with Foxshire was, “Just do it.” So take note, dreamers. Go forth and do. Email foxshirefilms@gmail.com to connect with the group, and follow their progress by liking their Facebook page. Watch three of their films at vimeo.com/foxshirefilms and watch their Fox Gathering films at vimeo.com/thefoxgathering.

    Photo: Foxshire Films members Nick Long, Kathryn Holden, Gage Long, Brendan Alspach and Samuel Heble

  • 10AnneFrank“The Diary of Anne Frank” runs at the Gilbert Theater from May 26 to June 4. Many people are familiar with the story. The diary records the experiences of the 13-year-old Anne Frank and her family who hid from Nazis in the Netherlands. 

    The book captures the daily experiences the family lived during the two years they spent trapped in an attic. At times it is difficult to read and the ending is jarring, but this story offers an invaluable glimpse into the human experience of some of the darkest times in human history from the eyes of a hopeful young girl. 

    Despite the heavy premise of this work, it is not all about death and destruction and it most certainly is not a relic of the past. World War II is over, but many of the problems the Frank family grappled with are still very relevant today. The story is tightly focused on a single family in a small period of time, but they deal with universally relevant human themes. “Everyone should see this play.... It is still relevant to today’s climate, politically and socially. It’s about love and hope,” Director Brian Adam Kline explained. 

    Taking a book and adapting it to the stage can be very difficult, but live productions can make stories much more personal and real. Seeing a person act out emotions and situations adds a layer of immediacy that printed words can fail to capture. 

    Transforming “The Diary of Anne Frank” into a live production is particularly difficult, in part because of the delicate historical nature of the show. “As a director, I have tried to approach this play with great attention to detail.  It was so important to me to do this right. This play is not just an adaption of the diary but also a historical memorial to Anne, her family, her housemates and the victims of the Holocaust. This production has always been for them,” Kline said. 

    The amount of time and effort that everyone at the Gilbert Theater has put into creating a respectful and accurate production of The Diary of Anne Frank is astounding. “I spent a year of research on the diary, the history, the people and the environment,” said Kline. “I contacted the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and they were so vital in my exploration of this world. I had to get it as close as I could. We used photographs to match the colors of the house, costuming and hair. With the long task of preproduction, finding the best actors and crew, production challenges seemed to be smoother,” Kline added.

    The biggest challenge the production has faced is in spacing. The Gilbert Theater is smaller than the Anne Frank House, but creative use of space has allowed the cast and crew to maintain the integrity of the story and the history. 

    Perhaps the smaller space will enhance the audience’s feelings of personal involvement and help the production’s themes hit home. Tickets can be purchased at www.gilberttheater.com. 

  • 07Protocol Kim Robertson “(It’s) sad, but if someone wants to shoot their way in and start firing off shots they could. This could happen anywhere and unfortunately has,” said Kim Robertson, principal of Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary School on Legion Road. 

    She was responding to a question about how her school would react to an active shooter on campus.  Robertson said all aspects of her building layout and student/staff contact information is cataloged in a computer. 

    Principals and the police can access that information at any time. Thirteen real-time cameras are installed at Elizabeth Cashwell School and are monitored at the safety office. 

    “We have to have a plan for such an occasion, and we share it with the safety office and staff,” Robertson said. Her school has a crisis response team equipped with walkie talkies. “Almost daily I have an issue that requires a response, but nothing like a serious threat of danger,” she said. 

    “In the event of an active shooter, principals follow our crisis management procedures, which include our lockdown procedures,” added Associate Superintendent Tim Kinlaw. Policy requiring sheltering in place should such an instance occur is set by the Cumberland County Board of Education. 

    State law doesn’t address active shooter scenarios. There is a statute that deals with the importance of fire drills: “It shall be the duty of the principal to conduct a fire drill during the first week after the opening of school and thereafter at least one fire drill each school month, in each building in his charge, where children are assembled. 

    “Fire drills shall include all pupils and school employees, and the use of various ways of egress to simulate evacuation of said buildings under various conditions, and such other regulations as shall be prescribed for fire safety by the Commissioner of Insurance, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. A copy of such regulations shall be kept posted on the bulletin board in each building.” 

    “Monthly fire drills are required with a report sent to the Safety Office each month,” Robertson confirmed. “Our principals follow Board policy regarding fire drills. We have not received any reports from the County or City Fire Marshals stating that fire drills have not been conducted according to state fire code requirements,” added Kinlaw.

    “Tornado drills are also required when notification comes that we are to do one,” said Robertson. During a tornado outbreak across the south in April 2011, Benjamin Martin Elementary School at 430 N. Reilly Road, in Fayetteville, was so badly damaged that classes couldn’t be held there for the rest of the school year. Fortunately, the tornado touched down on a Saturday. 

    Robertson said local principals are reminded near the end of a school month if drills haven’t been performed and documented. “The fire marshal conducts random checks to see school reports annually,” she added.                      

    Photo: Kim Robertson, principal of Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary School 


  • 06Amy Cannon“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.” 

    —Milton Friedman

    Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon is recommending an 8.2 cents increase in the county’s ad valorem property tax rate for the fiscal year beginning July 1. 

    When rural fire district and recreation taxes are added, the total tax rate for residents living in unincorporated areas of the county would come to 98.45 cents. That doesn’t include stormwater, solid waste, refuse, recycling fees or auto privilege taxes, some of which may also go up. 

    Cannon is proposing an eight-dollar increase in the solid waste fee paid annually by homeowners. Property owners in cities and towns do not pay fire district taxes. Some towns ask their residents to pay recreation taxes; some do not. All the municipalities add their ad valorem property tax rates ranging from 15 cents per hundred in Falcon to just shy of 50 cents in Fayetteville. 

    Cannon determined the revenue-neutral tax rate to offset tax revenue losses in the county is 78.2 cents. The losses amounted to $4.8 million.  

    Cannon applies the term “revenue neutrality” to the county’s total tax base. But depending on individual residential or commercial values, actual taxes paid will be anything but neutral. Among North Carolina’s eight largest metropolitan areas, Cumberland County stands alone in a decline of property values. “Locally, we continue to struggle with weak economic conditions,” Cannon stated in her budget message. 

    She noted that sales tax collections were down significantly from 2008 to 2011. But they’ve been trending at pre-recession levels since then.  Looking back, the manager cited “limited natural growth in property tax values over the last ten years.” Nowhere in her budget document does Cannon mention that the Cumberland County Tax Administration Office spotted an apparent downturn in property values immediately following the previous revaluation in 2009, which became a trend. 

    Cannon told county commissioners earlier this year she didn’t begin taking that into account until about 2014. “Our local economy is very sensitive to troop deployments,” Cannon noted. She did not mention that redeployments from battlefields to Fort Bragg routinely result in positive economic surges. She said there has been an estimated loss of 5,000 personnel since 2012. 

    Cannon is proposing nearly $6 million in expenditure reductions. Forty-one full-time positions and 49 part- time jobs would be eliminated. Thirty-seven of the positions are vacant. Significant budget cuts are proposed in human services, except those mandated by state law. There will be cuts in the hours of operation of county libraries but none will be closed. Funding of so-called non-governmental outside agencies will be cut in half, and no new agencies will be accepted for funding. 

    County Commission Chairman Glenn Adams adjourned the meeting immediately following Cannon’s presentation. Commissioners began a series of budget workshops May 30. They’re prepared to meet through June 14 if needed but must adopt the FY18 budget by July 1.

    Photo: Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon

  • 05NewsDigestWar in Korea

    It’s been six decades since hostilities ended on the Korean peninsula. The threat of a resurgence has never been greater than now, and some Fort Bragg soldiers would be among the first thrust into combat. 

    The military has taken a back seat to the State Department as U.S. officials push diplomatic and economic measures hoping that, with the help of China, the North Korean regime of Kim Jong Un can be persuaded to stop its provocations. 

    If diplomatic efforts fail and a conventional war ensued, experts agree the scenario would involve massive amounts of U.S. and South Korean forces in a war that could drag on for many months or longer. At a recent press conference, when asked by reporters about the current tensions with North Korea, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said, “If this goes to a military solution, it’s going to be tragic on an unbelievable scale.”  

    Military Times has constructed a detailed overview of what war on the Korean Peninsula would be like, based on interviews with current and former military officials as well as intelligence assessments of North Korea’s military capabilities. 

    In the opening hours, U.S. officials would alert Marines on Okinawa to begin heading toward the fight. Back in the United States the call would go out to the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division to launch its brigade combat team of paratroopers. 

    A battalion of America’s Global Response Force is poised to deploy within 18 hours. The balance of the assigned 82nd brigade combat team would be “wheels up” within 96 hours. Experts predict heavy initial casualties among U.S. and South Korean forces. 

    “Anybody that assumes this could be knocked out in 30 days would be dead wrong,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling. “There would be literally thousands, tens of thousands, some say more than 100,000 civilian casualties.” 

    Rural Fire Department Revenue Deficits

    This year’s downturn in Cumberland County property values has had a significant impact on rural fire departments. Municipal fire departments are supported through ad valorem property taxes, which can be adjusted as needed. 

    Volunteer departments are sustained by local fire district taxes also based on property values. Property owners in the county pay a fire tax of 10 cents per hundred dollars of valuation over and above regular property taxes. In the fiscal year ahead, the fire tax levy will not yield as much revenue as in the past. Twelve of the county’s rural fire departments will come up $265,000 short in lost revenue. The loss will severely impact rural-most departments which operate on small budgets. 

    Larger ones, like Pearces Mill Fire Department south of Fayetteville, would lose as much as $44,000 in fiscal year 2018, according to Fire Chief’s Association President Freddie Johnson. “We can tighten our belt and get by,” said longtime Pearces Mill Fire Chief Ronnie Marley. “But the long-term solution is not as hopeful.” 

    County Manager Amy Cannon is proposing to dip into the association’s surplus to provide each rural department at least one-half of their revenue shortfalls. “In the long term, there needs to be a very thorough review of fire department funding,” said Cannon.

    Downtown Fayetteville Field of Honor

    Fayetteville’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum is again honoring service members, veterans and their families with Field of Honor American flags on the parade ground between the museum and the North Carolina Veterans Park downtown. The annual tribute, sponsored by the Fayetteville Downtown Alliance, features hundreds of American flags, which can be purchased and dedicated to honor special people in the lives of those making the purchases. Arrangements can be made at the museum’s gift shop. “The flags will be flown through the end of this month,” said Paul Galloway, President of the Museum Foundation. 

    Downtown Parking May Change

    It may not be long before parking meters return to Hay Street downtown. City Council wants to encourage people to park in the four-story parking garage on Franklin Street. That’s one idea the city is considering to make up for the loss of dozens of spaces in the center of the city when the minor league baseball stadium is built. 

    Another idea is a second, but smaller, parking deck — this one behind City Hall. City Manager Doug Hewett revealed that suggestion in his proposed FY18 city budget. Some members of City Council note the underutilized parking garage on Franklin Street is two blocks from City Hall and could easily be utilized by city employees. “There is a serious parking problem that is going to get worse,” Councilman Bill Crisp said. Many of the parking spots being lost to progress are near the Amtrak railroad station where City Hall employees normally park. 

    Fayetteville Physician named to Public Health Commission                                             

    Dr. J. Wayne Riggins of Fayetteville has been appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Commission for Public Health. The commission consists of 13 members, four of whom are elected by the North Carolina Medical Society and nine who are appointed
    by the Governor. 

    Dr. Riggins is a practicing ophthalmologist. He graduated from F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in 1993. He completed his residency at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and currently practices at Cape Fear Eye Associates. Riggins is affiliated with Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital.     

  • 04GraduationGraduation exercises occurred all over the country in May and early June. Several million high school students completed high school. For them it was the culmination of 12 years of schooling. Hundreds of thousands of others graduated from colleges and universities. Their degrees represent years of hard work, sacrifice on their part and often sacrifice on the part of others.

    Regardless if it was a high school diploma or a degree from a university, graduation marks the completion of a prescribed program of study. It also means the graduates are transitioning to the next phase of their lives. Carolina College of Biblical Studies recently celebrated its 40th commencement with 30 men and women earning degrees. 

    The degrees earned were varied. They included Associates and Bachelors of Arts degrees in Biblical Studies as well as Associates and Bachelors of Arts degrees in Leadership and Ministry. 

    Additionally, several students received one of the six minors CCBS offers, which are in Pastoral Ministries, Biblical Languages, Apologetics, Christian Education, Biblical Counseling and Intercultural Studies.

    Rightly, we celebrate our graduates’ accomplishments. They persevered through a rigorous course of study and most have many other responsibilities such as family, work and ministry in their local church. Now that they have graduated, we cheer them on to lead and/or launch healthy ministries worldwide. A few of this year’s CCBS class of 2017 include:

    A military wife stationed, along with her husband and children, in a country in Europe. Through CCBS’s online degree programs, she began and completed her degree without ever having been to our Fayetteville campus. God will continue to use her as she ministers to her family and to other military personnel and people in her community far from North Carolina.

    A young pastor from the Sanford area. He leads a healthy growing Hispanic congregation in Lee County. His congregation often partners with other churches in that area to ensure that others who have not heard the good news of Jesus’s offer of life have an opportunity to hear the life changing message.

    A seasoned pastor who, before enrolling at CCBS, had no formal theological training. Sensing a need to fill this void, he enrolled at CCBS while simultaneously launching a new church as well as volunteering to be a chaplain for a local high school football team. He persevered and is now one of our
    newest graduates.

    These are only three of our recent graduates. There are 27 others in this year’s graduating class. Each one has a unique story and set of circumstances. 

    Yet in some ways, they all share at least two things in common. A few years ago, they all sensed the need for a biblical education and their personal need to know God better and God’s word, the Bible, more thoroughly.

    The other thing they all have in common? They all, despite challenges, refused to quit. They tenaciously did the work and now have finished their course
    of study. 

    Perhaps it’s time for you to begin the enrollment process too? All 30 of these men and women did and now are graduates.  

  • 03JakeDeaneditOn Monday, America will pause to honor and remember the patriotic men and women who sacrificed their lives in support of our liberty.  Here in North Carolina, more than 11,000 men and women gave their lives in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  

    As we remember the fallen and thank the veterans in our community, I am also humbled and grateful to meet the next generation of American heroes who are volunteering to defend America.  

    So far this academic year, 17 students from North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District have received prestigious appointments to West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

    • Jake Dean of Waxhaw received a rare double-appointment to both West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy.  He has always dreamed of serving his country, and now he’ll face a tough choice between two outstanding opportunities.

    •  Luke Johnson of Charlotte received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.  He ranks near the top of his class, displays tremendous leadership and excels in calculus.

    • Caroline Horne of Weddington launched two charities, served in student government and was captain of the soccer team. This fall, she’ll be a West Point cadet.

    • Erin McCullagh of Charlotte attended a U.S. Naval Academy swim camp in elementary school and never forgot their culture of respect.  She’ll join them in Annapolis this fall.

    • Nick Derrico of Charlotte received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, which he’s dreamed of attending since he was nine.

    • Will Kern of Waxhaw spent the past four years watching his brother face the many challenges of cadet life at the U.S. Air Force Academy and was never deterred. He now has his own appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

    • Sumi Vijayakuma, a high school student from Matthews who also serves as a Physics Teaching Assistant at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics, received a prestigious appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

    • Coby Kurtz of Waxhaw, who founded a high school designated driver group to combat drunk driving, received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

    • Sam McGee of Charlotte always felt “safe and secure thanks to the United States military” and wants to give back. He received an appointment to West Point.

    • Manny Riolo of Charlotte will follow his Marine Corps grandfather, Navy grandfather and Air Force father with his appointment to the U.S. Air
    Force Academy.

    • Stephen Harold of Waxhaw will follow his father, brother, grandparents, uncles and aunts into a life of military service. He received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

    • Coleman Johnson of Waxhaw has a life goal of doing everything within his power to preserve America for the next generation.  He received an appointment to West Point.

    • Elizabeth White of Charlotte received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.  She has demonstrated a passion for helping those around her improve and succeed.

    • Quinn Schneider is an Eagle Scout from Cornelius, a member of the Civil Air Patrol, and a Black Diamond-level snow skier.  He received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

    • Eyan Bowers of Mooresville received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.  His ambition is “to serve this country I know and love.”

    • Luke Miller, a varsity wide receiver from Mooresville, has learned the importance of teamwork and hopes to apply those lessons as a military officer. He received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

    • Lelyand Cathey of Matthews has persevered.  When he didn’t receive a nomination in 2016, he worked hard to further prepare himself, culminating in this year’s appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

    One of the best parts of my job is helping outstanding local students achieve their dream of attending a U.S. Service Academy. These are dreams that involve immense sacrifice, as students are committing at least nine years of their lives in defense of our freedom and way of life.  

    In April, more than 300 local students, parents and teachers participated in “Service Academy Days” I hosted in Charlotte and Fayetteville. If you missed the events and would like to learn more about the rigorous nomination process, please call my Charlotte office at 704-362-1060.

    To the families of those who died in service to our nation, we extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude. To the veterans who served, we extend sincere appreciation and an offer to assist you with issues involving the VA. To the students entering U.S. Service Academies or enlisting, we say thank you and congratulations.

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

    Photo: Jake Dean of Waxhaw received a rare double-appointment to both West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

  • 02MargaretI was amused last fall when a friend shared plans for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

    Hers is an eastern North Carolina clan, with growing ranks of young adults who are recent college graduates and who see the world in terms of diversity, openness and helping others reach their potential. Couple that with a platoon of older relatives — aka grumpy old white guys — who voted to “Make America Great Again,” and you can see where this is headed. Remember that Thanksgiving was barely two weeks after the dreadful 2016 election, and wounds on both sides were fresh and tender.

    My friend decided to weather Thanksgiving by placing a sign on her kitchen island announcing a “Politics-Free Zone” and threatening to eject offenders from the family gathering.  

    I chuckled and congratulated my friend on her ingenuity and assured her that this, too, shall pass.


    The division and rancor in American life has not improved.  It may be worse than ever.

    North Carolinian and humorist Celia Rivenbark devoted a recent syndicated column to our inability to talk about our divides that come from political affiliation, class, race, education, age and all sorts of other things.  

    Rivenbark reported that political talk was banned — or at least attempts were made — at several gatherings she recently attended.  This included one where the hostess allowed political conversation until a certain guest arrived, at which time guests were instructed to put a sock in it.

    Rivenbark, whose columns are celebrated for both their humor and Southern flavor, reacted this way: “This conversation ban is harder for some of us to adhere to than others. While I’m happy to spend way too much time dissecting the crumbling relationship between real New York housewives Ramona and Bethany, it’s weird to be told what you can and can’t talk about.”  

    She was just warming up.  Here is more:

    “One day soon, restaurants and bars will be segregated. The hostess will greet you with, ‘Politics?’ or ‘No politics?’ so your conversation won’t offend like stale cigarette smoke did back in the day.”

    All of this is silly, of course, but the reality of our national political and social acrimony is anything but. Both sides are convinced of their absolute correctness.  Both sides have arms crossed protectively over their chests and are staring down the other side.  

    Congress gets nothing accomplished because members are loath to talk across the partisan aisle and those of us in the hinterlands are in much the same shape.

    I cannot speak for Celia Rivenbark, but it occurs to me that we could all benefit from some professional counseling. Across our nation, bazillions of counselors make their livings by helping people, often family members but also others, learn how to talk to each other about difficult issues.  

    Imagine an arena full of partisans from both sides listening to on-stage, big-screen counselors intoning, “Repeat after me. ‘I respect you even if I violently disagree with your politics.’” With luck, there could be a tearful group hug at the end of the counseling session.

    A ridiculous thought, I know, but I also know our nation is struggling with what kind of country we want to be, and we are not going to resolve this if we cannot communicate with those who disagree with us. 

    It would help if our political leaders could be our role models for reaching out to the other side, but that seems unlikely if you watch the chattering classes on television. Name-calling in public and in private is more popular than actual conversation.  My fantasy would be a grass roots movement not unlike Moral Mondays or the Tea Party where we all begin talking to each other honestly and without anger.

    In the meantime, Rivenbark, the mother of a young adult daughter, seems to have her own strategy for handling “Politics Free Zone” friends who clearly make her want to do exactly the opposite.

    “A well-intentioned host wagging his finger and saying ‘No political talk tonight’ makes me want to do crazy stuff like say ‘Pass the parsley potatoes and tell me what’s the worst thing a mother could hear. It’s ‘Mom, I have a second date with Bill O’Reilly tonight.’”

  • 01COVERLegends Pub is a special place. If you’ve ever been there, you know that walking through the door is like coming to the very best kind of family reunion. The laughter, the camaraderie, the feeling of acceptance … these are the elements that keep people coming back. 

    Within the walls of Legends is an even more tight-knit group: The Gypsy Women. Through deployments, divorce, tragedy, illness as well as graduations, weddings, babies  and everything else life has thrown at them, the Gypsy Women have stood together, looking out for each other and for those around them. 

    They’ve shared life’s joys and tragedies — together. It was in this spirit of sisterhood that the first Spring Fling was born 21 years ago. Every year since then, Legends Pub Owner Holly Whitley and the Gypsy Women have hosted the Spring Fling. It’s a time for fun, food, games, motorcycles and more. 

    But it is also a time for helping others. In the event’s history, it has raised tens of thousands of dollars and helped individuals and organizations alike. This year, the event falls on June 9-11. Proceeds benefit the North Carolina State Veterans Home.

    Kick off the weekend on Friday, June 9, with pool, music and fun at Legends Pub. 

    Saturday, June 10, is the Scott Sather Memorial Run. The first bike goes out at noon. Sather was a regular at Legends. He was assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, an elite Air Force operations unit assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command at Pope Army Air Field. Sather was killed in Iraq on April 8, 2003. 

    “He was one of our dearest friends and a loyal customer,” said Whitley. “Scott supported everything we did and was always there when we needed help with something. Losing him was a real blow for us. He touched so many lives.” The Scott Sather Memorial Run is a part of the Spring Fling every year.

     “He was the first airman killed in Iraq,” Whitley added. “It took over 11 years to get his memorial into Freedom Memorial Park. The monument well describes who Scott was.”

    Sunday, June 11 is the bike show and rodeo. Whiltley said this is a fun way to end the weekend, relaxing with friends.

    In addition to donating proceeds to the NC Veterans Home, one of the ways Whitley aims to help the NC Veterans Home is by providing toiletries and other necessities. Like everything Whitley does, it’s going to be fun. “We are filling brown paper bags with things like toothpaste, shampoo and body wash. 

    “We are going to ‘sell’ the bags at the Spring Fling so people can ‘adopt’ a veteran when they purchase the bags. They can write a personal note on the bags and really make a veteran feel special and let them know they care,” Whitley explained. Legends will donate them to the NC Veterans Home. She added that Legends will also accept donations for the home to include things like packages of new socks, sweaters and sweat pants.

    Legends Pub is filled with both active duty service members and veterans on any given night, and the choice to support those who served seemed natural, Whitley said. 

    So many of the Legends family, several of them service members and veterans, have ended up on “the wall” at the back of the bar. This wall is adorned with photographs and memoriabilia honoring those lost to war, to illness, to accidents or to unfortunate circumstances. And in true Legends style, the wall is a place in the bar where memories are recounted and adventures and hijinx relived.

    Located on Cochran Avenue, the N.C. State Veterans home is certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and works in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Services to provide comprehensive 24-hour care to aged and infirm veterans. 

    The NC Veterans Home provides services that include dietetic programming; hospice; I.V. therapy; laundry; medication management; memory support unit; occupational therapy; oxygen therapy; pain management; pharmacy; physical therapy; recreational activities; religious services; short-term rehabilitation; speech therapy; tracheotomy; volunteer services; and wound care management.

    Come out to the Legends Pub Annual Spring Fling to honor and to celebrate those with us and those passed with a crowd that’s sure to make you feel at home. Call Legends at (910) 867-2364 for more information. 

  • 05NewsDigest May17 23The City of Fayetteville can’t say when the Tokay Senior Fitness Center operated by the Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks & Recreation Department will re-open. The specialty center sustained extensive smoke damage during an electrical fire. It’s been closed since March 27. City spokesman Nathan Walls told Up & Coming Weekly that “there are too many variables to predict a reopening date.” The popular older adult fitness center has work out equipment including treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines and Nautilus equipment. Seniors use the facility for physical rehabilitation and regular fitness regimens often as prescribed by physicians. Group exercise classes are also offered. Those classes are temporarily being held at the Smith Recreation Center, 1520 Slater Avenue. The exercise equipment room at the Smith Center is open for senior citizen patrons at 7 a.m. Monday-Friday.

    Talk About a Major Motoring Inconvenience…
    Local motorists accustomed to travelling Bragg Boulevard in an approach to downtown Fayetteville are trying to get used to a long detour. Drivers traveling toward downtown on Bragg Boulevard (N.C. 24) should be aware that a roadway closure between West Rowan Street and the Rowan Street bridge is in effect through June 15. DOT is detouring traffic to allow for the installation of a sewer line. The detour is marked, suggesting that inbound motorists turn left onto the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway, to Ramsey Street. Then take a right to downtown. There are alternate routes as well. Inbound downtown drivers may want to use Fort Bragg Road, or they can turn right onto the MLK Jr. Freeway over to Hay Street and on into downtown.

    Blackwell Seeks Superior Court Clerk’s Office
    Cindy Blackwell, a former Chief Assistant Clerk of Cumberland County Superior Court, announces she will seek the Democratic nomination for the Clerk’s position. “The Clerk of Court serves an important role for our citizens and our court system,” she said in making her announcement. “Every day thousands of citizens access our courts, whether it’s to pay a seat-belt ticket, make a child-support payment or to execute a departed loved-one’s estate,” she added. Blackwell left the office in early 2014 when Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons passed over Blackwell and appointed District Court Judge Kim Tucker to succeed retired Clerk Linda Priest. Blackwell then accepted a position with the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh. “I have the background, the experience and understanding to serve you,” Blackwell said in news release announcing her candidacy.

    Gander Mountain in Fayetteville Likely to Stay Open
    Gander Mountain, a chain of hunting and outdoor stores, is not shutting down after being bought in a bankruptcy sale, according to the new owner, Marcus Lemonis of Camping World. He said reports that all the stores are closing are untrue and that at least 70 Gander Mountain locations will remain open. In North Carolina, Gander Mountain stores in Fayetteville and Winston-Salem will stay open. The others, including Raleigh, are still up in the air. Camping World has until Oct. 6 to determine which Gander Mountain locations it would like to keep. Lemonis is best known as host of CNBC’s reality series “The Profit.”

    Lawyers for the Man Convicted of Killing Shaniya Davis Want a New Trial
    Mario McNeill’s claim that he is entitled to a new trial for raping and murdering 5-year-old Shaniya Davis in 2009 “is bogus.” That’s the opinion of North Carolina Assistant Attorney General Anne M. Middleton. In oral arguments for a new trial before the North Carolina Supreme Court, Middleton recounted that McNeill told his attorneys, Allen Rogers and Coy Brewer, that he wanted to provide police information helpful to them. In so doing, she said, McNeill waived his attorney-client privilege. Brewer and Rogers then told authorities where they could find Shaniya Davis’s body, hoping the death penalty would be taken off the table. District Attorney Billy West offered McNeill a chance to plead guilty to avoid the death sentence, Middleton said, but he chose not to accept it. He went to trial in 2013 and was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death. Shaniya’s mother had sold her to McNeill in repayment of a $200 drug debt. Appellate lawyer Andrew DeSimone told the court that Rogers and Brewer were obliged to keep the information McNeill provided them by their client secret. The justices will review the oral arguments and written briefs, and decide whether McNeill should get a new trial.

    Crisis Intervention Resources
    Residents wishing to apply for Crisis Intervention Fund assistance should go to the Salvation Army Community Center at 220 E. Russell Street. The Salvation Army Center at 1047 Southern Ave. is temporarily closed because of recent flooding. The program is administered by the Cumberland County Department of Social Services for individuals and families experiencing a heating or cooling-related crisis. The CIP program is in effect until all funds are exhausted, or June 30. Money is paid directly to utility providers on behalf of approved applicants. Applications are accepted Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Detailed information is available from the Salvation Army at 910-483-8119.

  • 17SlampPoetsPoetry is a form of expression that requires creativity and skill. Slam poetry adds extra layers of difficulty because it requires the poem to be memorized and verbally expressed, and it’s a competition. 

    Poets verbally present an original work and a panel of judges rates the performances. This sort of competition started in 1984 in the Jazz clubs of Chicago when American poet Marc Smith started experimenting with types of poetry performances. Since then, poetry slams have increased in popularity. There are now national and international competitions that celebrate this unique art form every year. This year, local poets received an invitation to one of the world’s premier slams.

    There is only one youth poetry slam team in Fayetteville: The Poetic Pathos Slam Team. The group has performed all over Fayetteville and Hope Mills. It is a student club based out of Gray’s Creek High School. The club was started four years ago by coach Joel Mayo. Recently the group was invited to participate at Brave New Voices, which is an international slam poetry festival and competition. Only 50 teams are invited to participate from around the globe every year. 

    Brave New Voices was created by Youth Speaks, Inc in 1998. Youth Speaks, Inc. was founded in 1996 by James Kass and is based out of San Francisco. Its mission is to create safe spaces and challenge young people to “find, develop, publicly present and apply their voices as creators of positive societal change.” The organization brings together art education and civic engagement in unique, evolving and relevant ways. The Brave New Voices festival is an extension of this mission.  

    This year the festival takes place July 19 through 22 in the Bay Area. The young participating poets will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, slams, showcases, community service and civic participation events. 

    The festival is not only an opportunity for the team to perform and bring a global spotlight to the arts in Fayetteville. This is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the growing artists on the team to hone their craft at an event specifically designed to encourage and empower them. They will also be able to bring all this passion and learning back home to Fayetteville. 

    This festival is obviously an incredible opportunity. The big challenge is the funding. The Poetic Pathos Youth Slam Team is a new team and they don’t have the funds to send 5-6 members and their coaches to the competition. They are asking for the community’s support with a Gofundme page. 

    They need $2,000 for registration fees by June 1, and $7,000 overall to fund transportation, registration fees, housing fees and food for
    the trip. 

    To donate and to support the growing artists in our community, visit https://www.gofundme.com/poeticpathosBNV. There is no more direct way to support the arts.  

  • 15DPrattDevon Pratt

    Terry Sanford • Cross country/track/soccer • Senior 

    A versatile athlete, Pratt has a grade point average of 4.0. He was named Athlete of the Year in the Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference. In the fall he ran cross country and played soccer in the same season. He plans to attend Wingate.




    16Allie LambertAllie Lambert

    Gray’s Creek • Softball • Junior

    Lambert, a member of the Bears’ state-playoff qualifying softball team, has a grade point average of 4.5.

  • 14PrepNotebookTerry Sanford ended its final season in the Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference in style by winning the league’s Wells Fargo Cup for overall athletic excellence.

    The Bulldogs had to fend off a strong challenge in the spring from perennial cup rival Union Pines in order to take the award as the final margin of victory was only 110.5-109.0

    Terry Sanford was the overall winner in the fall and winter sports seasons and led Union Pines 82-66 heading into spring. Union Pines took three team championships in spring: girls’ and boys’ track and boys’ golf.

    Terry Sanford matched Union Pines in total spring titles with championships in baseball, girls’ soccer and boys’ tennis.

    Other team titles Terry Sanford won this year were a share of girls’ tennis with Union Pines, girls’ golf and girls’ swimming.

    Other final scores were Lee County 87, Gray’s Creek 82.5, Southern Lee 81.5, Westover 46 and Douglas Byrd 35.5.

    This fall, the battle for the Wells Fargo Cup should get interesting as Terry Sanford joins the bulk of the Cumberland County Schools in the new 4-A/3-A Patriot Conference which will include Overhills and all the county schools except Seventy-First and Jack Britt. Britt and Seventy-First are moving to the Sandhills Conference.

    • You’ll read elsewhere in this issue of Up & Coming Weeklyabout the start of the season for the Hope Mills Boosters American Legion baseball team. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for American Legion baseball, getting my first taste of it when I went to high school at West Rowan and was exposed to the perennially strong Legion program in Rowan County.

    I followed the Hope Mills Legion team often in my early years as a sports writer at the Fayetteville Observer, and have fond memories of a storybook season in the 1980s when a scrappy Hope Mills team made it to the championship series with that same Rowan County bunch I grew up with.

    I mention Legion baseball because in recent years it’s been on the wane in our area, and only through the commitment of State Legion Hall of Fame coach
    Doug Watts has the sport survived locally.

    There is much more competition for the Legion team these days with minor league baseball returning to the area and the college summer league team that plays here.

    I’d suggest if you have the time, drop by South View High School some night this summer and catch a Legion game. These are local kids, some of whom just might be playing college or pro baseball themselves one day. It’s worth your time to give them some support.

  • 13AmericanLegionWhen it comes to summer baseball traditions, there’s none older or with stronger local ties in Fayetteville and Cumberland County than American Legion baseball.

    State American Legion Hall of Fame coach Doug Watts has been a part of the tradition stretching back over 50 years. He’s stepped aside from active coaching, but is still involved and was on the sidelines working hard last week when the Hope Mills Boosters team convened for its first practice session of the season at South View High School.

    Watts is officially listed as the athletic officer for the Boosters, but he’s turned head coaching duties over to Mark Kahlenberg, who has a staff that includes Randy Nalls, Cecil Combs and former Boosters player Logan Haines.

    They will have played their season opener at Wallace on May 22 by the time this story runs, but they start the year with a five-game road swing and don’t play their first home contest at South View until June 7.

    As always, there are some changes for the Boosters this season, the biggest being they have dropped Terry Sanford as one of the schools they draw players from and added Pine Forest. 

    Returning to the fold are players from Jack Britt, South View and Purnell Swett.

    Britt and Swett both had great years, Britt sharing the Mid-South 4-A regular-season title with Cape Fear and Swett winning the Southeastern 4-A regular-season championship.

    A handful of players is back from 2016, including D.J. Bishop of Jack Britt along with Landon Harris and Andrew Sabalboro of South View.

    Kahlenberg was excited about a turnout of over 20 players at the first practice. “We have 13 pitchers who are also listed as position players,’’ Kahlenberg said. “Having 13 pitchers is very important. We’ve never had 13 to start the season.’’

    One of those pitchers is Jacob Austin from Pine Forest, son of Methodist University baseball coach Tom Austin. Austin’s not sure if he’ll be just a pitcher or a daily position player, but he’s excited about the opportunity.

    “Every team we play will have college-level pitching,’’ Austin said of the Legion schedule. “There are no patsies.’’

    He hopes to work on command of his curveball during the summer. “It’s been in and out the whole year,’’ he said.

    Two players from Jack Britt Kahlenberg is counting on are Zachary Knapp and Gavin Wheeler. Knapp, like Austin, is also a pitcher.

    “It gives me the opportunity to work on my skills and play with a bunch of guys I know are the best of the best,’’ Knapp said. “I just want to keep getting better in every aspect of the game.’’

    Here is this year’s Hope Mills Boosters schedule. Home games are at South View High School. All games begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted:

    May 22 – at Wallace; 26 – at Wilmington Post 545; 29 – at Wilmington Post 10.

    June 2 – at Whiteville (West Columbus High School); 4 – at Jacksonville (doubleheader, 3 p.m.); 7 – at Wallace; 14 – at Wilmington Post 10; 17 – Wilmington Post 545 (doubleheader, 3 p.m.); 21– Jacksonville; 23 – at Wallace; 25 – Morehead City (doubleheader, 2 p.m.); 30 – at Wilmington Post 10

    July 1 – Whiteville (doubleheader, 3 p.m.); 2 – at Morehead City (2 p.m.); 5 – State playoffs open. 26 – State final 8, at Pitt Community College, Greenville.

  • 12CapeFearThere’s an air of anticipation, but more than a little concern as Cape Fear High School holds spring football conditioning workouts after the best season in
    school history.

    Coming off a 15-1 record that included the school’s first-ever conference football title and trip to the state 4-A championship game, there are plenty of reasons to be excited.

    But the reason for concern is quickly made evident when you arrive at the practice field and see star quarterback Justice Galloway-Velazquez wearing a walking boot on his left leg.

    The boot is the result of recent surgery to repair an assortment of injuries to his left ankle. The worst was a torn ligament he suffered in the Eastern 4-A finals against Scotland. There were also pieces of cartilage left in his ankle from a previous injury, plus tissue and bone damage from his freshman year.

    “They cleaned all that up and said I’ll come back 100 percent,’’ Galloway-Velazquez said. There’s an outside chance once the boot comes off in about a month and he finishes rehab he could take part in the closing stage of summer workouts. “The healing process is coming along faster than I thought,’’ he said.

    Still, don’t be surprised if the Cape Fear staff plays things cautiously and holds him out until the official start of summer practice on July 31.

    Meanwhile, though he can’t work out, Galloway-Velazquez is showing up at practice during the spring conditioning period. “I’m a leader on and off the field,’’ he said. “Me being out here while I’m injured shows a lot to them and means a lot to me.

    “I can contribute not only by wearing a helmet but by just being a standby, helping out with
    the coaches.’’

    Cape Fear suffered some key graduation losses, especially among Galloway-Velazquez’s corps of receivers, but he doesn’t think that means Cape Fear won’t field another good team.

    “We’re going to be different, but people should be prepared for a good game,’’ he said. “We play to win, and we play Cape Fear football. We’re always going to have a hard-nosed, hitting team and good scoring offense.’’

    Cape Fear coach Jake Thomas said the approach to the season is the same with Galloway-Velazquez on the sidelines for now. “We’re still putting in the same plays,’’ he said. “We’ll have to make adjustments until he
    gets back.’’

    The biggest gaps the Colts need to fill are at receiver, on the offensive line and the secondary, Thomas said. “We feel like we have the best group of leaders in our program that we’ve had,’’ Thomas said. “It’s always good when you have to build around those senior leaders.’’

    One thing Thomas knows will be different this season is Cape Fear will be a marked opponent after beating every school it faced from the Eastern half of the state.

    The Colts will also be dropping to 3-A and joining the new 4-A/3-A Patriot Conference. It includes former Mid-South Conference rivals Overhills, South View and Pine Forest, still 4-A schools, new fellow 3-A school E.E. Smith, plus former members of the Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference Terry Sanford, Douglas Byrd, Gray’s Creek and Westover.

    “I’ve stressed to these guys they’re going to have a target on their back after the season we had,’’ Thomas said. “It’s going to be tougher to make it along that same type of road.’’

  • 11FTCCMost adults will make many changes during their working lives. At FTCC, there is a valuable resource students can use to help them decide where to go for career guidance. 

    Many students enter college feeling overwhelmed about where to start or what to focus on first. The JOBS Center at FTCC specializes in administering career assessments to help students uncover the education, training and specialized tasks needed for individualized careers. 

    The career assessments match skills and interests and motivate students to think about how well-suited they might be for a particular career. Assessments also provide a blueprint for identifying strengths, options and possibilities and can help safeguard students from pursuing a career that may not be the best match for them. And the nice thing about taking a career assessment is that there is no need to be worried about right or wrong answers, as there are no wrong answers!   

    Career Coach is another resource used to help students make better career decisions as well as match students’ interests with programs offered at FTCC. FTCC offers over 230 programs leading to the award of an associate degree, certificate or diploma. For students who wish to continue studying at four-year colleges and universities, FTCC offers college transfer degree programs that aid in completing the requirements for a bachelor’s degree and beyond.

    Coming into the JOBS Center can help alleviate one of the greatest drawbacks to career assessments: belief that the result is the “solution” to all career woes. Without professional guidance and the right preparation beforehand, a person may risk wasting a great deal of time and effort on pursuing a career path that doesn’t suit them. 

    At the FTCC JOBS Center, we know choosing a career path can be challenging and many questions can flood a student’s mind before making the right choice. Students may ask themselves questions: “How much education is needed for a particular career? How much money will it take to earn the education? How long will it take? How much money will I earn in a particular career? What is the job outlook for my career?” 

    For students or potential students who are asking these questions, get started on the right track and visit the JOBS Center at the Tony Rand Student Center located at the Fayetteville campus of FTCC in Room 128. Study for an exciting career in health care, business, computer technology, engineering and applied technology, public service or general education. Registration for summer and fall classes is currently underway.  

    You can make the smart choice for your education at Fayetteville Technical Community College and quickly be on the path to a new beginning in life, regarding your career. The FTCC JOBS Center staff will be happy to assist you in your search for the perfect career.

  • 10FSOThe Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra presents its fifth annual Symphonic Salute to the U. S. Armed Forces on Sunday, May 28, 7:30 p.m. in Festival Park located in downtown Fayetteville.  

    “This is our fifth year doing this and it is a concert to honor all of our armed forces that have fought for this country. We want to remember them,” said Julia Atkins, FSO director of artistic operations and marketing. 

    “The idea originated from a conversation between the Army Ground Forces Band of Fort Bragg and the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, and we thought it would be great to do a collaborative project during the Memorial Day weekend.” Atkins added that this is the first year the symphony is doing this on their own because the band is no longer in existence.

    The concert will be conducted by Dr. Timothy Altman. He is UNC Pembroke’s music department chair, a professor of trumpet and Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra’s principal trumpet. 

    “The music will be a mix of classical and pop and obviously patriotic music as well,” said Atkins. “We are going to do several marches and we will open the concert with ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’”  

    Atkins added that the orchestra will play a few John Williams tunes, patriotic songs and an older tune titled “A Salute to the Big Band” for some of the older veterans. “The Armed Forces Salute” will be played, a song tied to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Coast Guard. Typically when this song is played everyone who is a part of the armed forces or has a family member in the armed forces will be asked to stand when they hear their service song being played.      

    Food trucks will be on site from R. Burgers, Charlie’s Ice and Babann’s Southern Fried Chicken.  “The event continues to be a huge success and it draws in 3,000–4,000 people each year,” said Atkins. “Please arrive early because parking is a challenge.”   

    The concert is free and open to the public. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs to sit on. Chairs will not be provided. In the case of inclement weather the concert will be moved indoors to Huff Concert Hall at Methodist University. 

    For more information call (910) 433-4690 or visit www.fayettevillesymphony.org.   

  • 09KiwanisThe Fayetteville Kiwanis Club presents their 66th annual Talent Night Showcase on Saturday, June 10, 7 p.m. at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. 

    “This has always been one of the premiere fundraisers of the Fayetteville Kiwanis Club and it probably has one of the longest traditions,” said Bill Bowman, publisher of Up & Coming Weekly. “To be able to sustain a children’s cultural program for that long is absolutely amazing and something that we cherish.” 

    Bowman added that Kiwanis Club opens the event up to all children in Cumberland County in kindergarten through 12th grade. He also said the club feels it is important that children have a venue to showcase their talents because these kids work hard, go to music lessons and train, but they have very few opportunities to really showcase their talents. 

    About 20 years ago the Cape Fear Regional Theatre became a partner in the event. Since then, students not only get a chance to perform — they get to do it onstage at the Cape Fear Regional Theater. 

    The categories are preschool–2nd grade, 3rd–5th grade, 6th–8th grade and 9th–12th grade.  

    Two new classical divisions have been added this year. There will be 1st, 2nd and 3rd place  winners and $2,000 in cash, trophies and scholarships will be awarded. 

    The overall winner will receive a trophy and $200. The first place winner in each division will receive a trophy and $100. The second place winner in each division will receive a trophy and $50. The third place winner in each division will receive a trophy and $25. 

    Four music scholarships of $150 each will be awarded for voice, strings, piano and band instrument.

    The proceeds from ticket sales will be used to support local Kiwanis projects for children. “All the money we raise goes back into this community to help children’s initiatives,” said Bowman.  Some of those initiatives are Terrific Kids, Reading is Fundamental, Every Kid a Swimmer and many more.

    “What has been amazing is there have been dozens upon dozens of kids from Fayetteville that perform on the stage in the Kiwanis Talent Night show that have gone on to do great things,” said Bowman. “Those children have been Miss North Carolina, performed in Carnegie Hall, obtained jobs with the Boston Philharmonic, performed on Broadway and other accomplishments.”

    To register for the event, visit www.fayettevillekiwanis.org/talent/ or pick up an application at the Up & Coming Weeklybuilding at 208 Rowan St., Wendy’s restaurants or from your music, art or dance instructor. 

    Auditions will be on Saturday, June 3 at the Honeycutt Recreation Center. The audition cannot exceed 3 1/2 minutes. You will be contacted about your audition time. The deadline for submitting applications for auditions is June 1. 

    Tickets cost $7 and will be available at the door. For more information, contact Bill Bowman at (910) 391-3859.  

  • 08fourthfridayThere is always something fun to do at 4th Friday. The art openings, historical exhibits, music, shopping,  activities, great dining experiences; what’s not to love? 

    On May 26, The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County opens one of its most popular exhibits — the “Public Works” exhibition. What makes this exhibit so special is that all of the art in the show is by local artists from Bladen, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, and Scotland Counties, Fort Bragg or Pope Field.  

    The Fayetteville Public Works Commission sponsors the   community-wide exhibit. Attendees are invited to vote for their favorite pieces. The “People’s Choice” winner will receive a gift basket and the winners of the online virtual vote will receive prizes from the Arts Council. Many of the pieces will be available for purchase as well. The exhibit will be on display through July 22. Visit www.theartscouncil.com for more information.

    Each month, the Downtown Alliance plans fun, themed activities for 4th Friday. This month, the theme centers around the Field of Honor, which is sponsored by the Alliance and the Airborne  & Special Operations Museum Foundation.  

    The Field of Honor, located at ASOM and the NC Veterans Park, is a living display of heroism that flies as a patriotic tribute to the strength and unity of Americans. Find out more at www.ncfieldofhonor.com.

    Cape Fear Studios offers another option to view the work of local artists with its 27th Annual Members’ Exhibit. The show includes pottery from visiting artist Ben Owens. There will be a reception from 6-9 p.m. 

    At Headquarters Library, enjoy big band music from Second Time Around. Favorites include pieces by Glenn Miller, Les Brown and more. The band will also perform music from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s from 7 to 9 p.m.

    Children will enjoy a visit to Fascinate-U Children’s Museum where they can creats spring flowers and explore the museum from 7-9 p.m. for free.

    The Market House opens for 4th Friday with different exhibits throughout the year. This month, the exhibit is all about banking. Take in the exhibit and enjoy the view from  upstairs from  6 to 10 p.m.  The banking exhibit is in addition to the permanent exhibit, “A View from the Square: A History of Downtown Fayetteville.”

  • 07SundayBusOf North Carolina’s six largest cities, only Fayetteville does not offer public transportation service on Sundays.  

    Even the smaller cities of Asheville and Wilmington provide bus service on the Sabbath. The Fayetteville Advisory Committee on Transit has recommended that City Council begin limited Sunday service, but City Manager Doug Hewett did not include it in his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Overall, bus ridership has declined over the past year, reversing a growth trend. Charlotte and Greensboro have also seen declines. “We believe our ridership has been impacted by low gasoline prices,” said Transit Director Randy Hume.

    In their continuing support of transit service, several City Council members told Hewett they would like to see Sunday service worked into the new budget. Transit Director Hume suggested that initial service on the Sabbath include 10 bus routes. He said the advisory committee considered bus ridership on Saturdays to project likely Sunday use. A study found that 1,241 patrons would likely ride buses on Sunday compared to 3,244 Saturday riders. Average ridership weekdays is 5,816, said Hume.

    Sunday service, even in an abbreviated format, would require four-and-a-half months of preparation if approved by City Council. Additional operators, supervisor time and maintenance staff would be required, said Assistant Transit Director Kelly Blazey.  

    “We will need time to get through the hiring process, provide training, update our printed materials, hold any necessary public meetings regarding the changes and advertise the changes,” she added. FAST estimates it would cover 34 weeks of service in FY18. On an annualized basis, officials estimate total costs for limited bus service on Sundays would be nearly $336,000 with $152,000 funded by passenger fares and grants. The remaining $183,00 would have to come from the general fund. And, $30,000 could be shifted from operating grants to provide additional support for Sunday service. If approved by City Council, buses would run on the following routes:

    Route 3        Cedar Creek Rd.

    Route 5        Ramsey St.

    Route 6        University Estates / Bragg Blvd. / Cross Creek Mall

    Route 7        Savoy Heights / Robeson St. / Raeford Rd.

    Route 8        Southern Ave. / Owen Dr. /CFV Med Ctr.

    Route 12      Murchison Rd. / University Estates

    Route 14      Downtown / Eutaw / Cross Creek Mall

    Route 17      West Fayetteville / Cliffdale Rd.

    Route 18      Skibo Rd. / Hollywood Heights

    Route 15      Cross Creek Mall / Glensford Dr. / CFV Med Ctr.

    Times will vary by half an hour or so from route to route, but would be available from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. And FASTtrac transit service would be available on all of the above routes. 

  • 06NewsDigestNew Fayetteville Military Healthcare Facility

    The Fayetteville Rehabilitation Clinic is a new joint venture between Womack Army Medical Center and the Fayetteville VA Medical Center. The clinic provides expanded access to physical therapy, speech-language pathology and occupational therapy services for VA and Department of Defense enrollees in the greater Fayetteville area. 

    “This clinic is an excellent example of how patients can benefit when we as the VA and DoD consolidate our efforts in support of service members, former service members and their families,” said Col. Lance Raney, commander of Womack Army Medical Center. 

    The joint initiative allows the Army and VA to work together to promote efficient and cost-effective resource-sharing ideas, officials said. “One of the constant challenges we face is increasing access to care for a steadily growing patient population,” said VA Medical Center Director Elizabeth Goolsby. The 10,000 square-foot facility offers rehabilitative care and services. Staff includes eight physical therapists, three occupational therapists, one speech-language pathologist and 13 therapy assistants. The Fayetteville Rehabilitation Clinic is located at 4101 Raeford Rd.

    The Last Change of Command

    The 1st Sustainment Command (1st TSC) hosted a change of command ceremony for its new commander, Maj. Gen. Flem B. Walker Jr., and outgoing commander, Maj. Gen. Paul C. Hurley Jr., at the Fort Bragg Ritz-Epps Physical Fitness Center. 

    The ceremony marked the last change of command for the unit. It is being reassigned to Fort Knox, Kentucky, as part of Army restructuring. The 1st TSC provides a critical sustainment support mission to the Army and multinational forces in the U.S. Central Command. Formerly known as COSCOM, the 1st TSC was originally designated to support Fort Bragg’s XVIII Airborne Corps.

    Bridge Replacement Near Hope Mills

    A 54-year-old bridge north of Hope Mills will be replaced. The Department of Transportation awarded a $729,221 contract to S&C Construction of Wilmington. The bridge is on Crystal Springs Road over Buckhead Creek, and was built to design standards that are now considered obsolete. It also has weight restrictions, which limit the types of vehicles that can use it. The new bridge will not have those restraints. Work on the project will begin next month and is expected to be completed by Dec. 1.

    Citizen Survey Underway

    Greater Fayetteville United is conducting a county-wide survey this month to measure trust, communication, interest and engagement in politics and national affairs. Group involvement, giving and volunteering, faith-based engagement and quality-of-life indicators are also part of the survey. It’s administered by a nationally-recognized consultant funded by grants from the Cumberland Community Foundation and the City of Fayetteville. 

    The consultant is contacting approximately 4,000 randomly selected Cumberland County residents. “This project will provide the data we need to establish a benchmark and empower residents and local agencies as we work to build a stronger community and strengthen bonds,” said Dr. Darl Champion, president of Greater Fayetteville United. The results of the survey will be used to tackle local issues such as poverty, racism, trust, crime, homelessness and lack of civic engagement. GFU will reveal results of the survey at a community forum in the fall. 

    No VA Hotline, Yet

    Four months into his presidency, The Military Times reported Donald Trump’s White House has not set up a promised hotline for veterans’ complaints that he vowed would speed up reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The idea was part of a 10-point plan unveiled last July. 

    The hotline, Trump promised at a July 26 rally, would ensure that “no complaints would fall through the cracks …this could keep me very busy at night, folks.” The 10-point VA plan was recently removed from Trump’s campaign website along with a host of other pledges from last summer and fall. The president also pledged to create a commission “to investigate all the fraud, cover-ups, and wrongdoing that has taken place in the VA.” No such commission has been announced. 

    Run for the Legend

    The Airborne & Special Operations Museum will hold its 10th annual 5K/10K Run for the Legend on Saturday, June 3, at 8 a.m. All donations and proceeds from the event support the museum’s operational and educational programs and activities. USA Track & Field sanction the Run for the Legend. The certified course begins and ends on the Hay Street side of the museum. The top three men and women in each race receive trophies. 

    Registration is available online at www.active.com and at the museum; it costs $20 in advance and $25 the day of the race. Strollers, wagons, and well-behaved, leashed dogs are permitted, but will be asked to start in the rear of the race.

  • 05HitsMissesHit:Congratulations to Fayetteville’s 35th annual Dogwood Festival, possibly the best ever, recognized as among the top outdoor family events in the south.

    Miss: Why are three city streets that connect Grove Street with Person Street inaccessible because bridges are out? The Ann Street bridge has gone without repairs for so long that it’s overgrown with a thicket of trees.

    Hit:Thank you to the City of Fayetteville’s Budget staff for its comprehensive evaluation and understanding of the $200 million FY18 operating budget. Staff answered virtually every question council members brought up regarding the proposed FY18 budget, all of which helped councilmen and woman to keep the budget in perspective.

    Miss:Cumberland County is not taking action on declining local residential property values when the problem was first recognized eight years ago. Now, Fayetteville and Cumberland County comprise the only metropolitan area in North Carolina where property values have gone down.

    Hit: Kudos to business developers for building out most of the remaining commercial property along the south side of Skibo Road. Every new business adds to the tax base and takes some heat off
    home owners.

    Miss:Too many rules and restrictions confuse residents when they dispose of yard debris. Many people have no idea what they’re supposed to do. Pine straw and leaves are being raked to the curb and left there, sometimes for weeks, for the city to pick up. 

    Hit:Fayetteville’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum was named one of the top military museums in the country. It’s truly a world-class museum.

    Miss:City officials continue to allow a dozen ugly and smelly garbage cans to illegally block downtown Fayetteville’s Old Street and mar the beauty of the historic area.

    Miss:Dear drivers in Fayetteville who think an amber traffic light means speed up to get through the intersection before the light turns red: You’re wrong! Green to amber means caution … slow down and prepare to stop.

    Hit: Thank you, City of Fayetteville, for repaving streets in the Montclair neighborhood that were literally worn out when they were used as a detour during the years that Glensford Drive was being widened between Raeford and Morganton Roads. 

  • 04RevenueLast week I posted on social media that our city and county elected servants ought to review their proposed budgets together … in one room, sitting across the table from each other. I’m thinking if they sit down and compare what each is proposing, they can get a better understanding of what their proposed budgets will do to people they represent.

    I got a lot of likes from the people — the voters, but nothing from our elected servants. I can understand that. They are a bit skittish about this year’s budget. To be fair, they are in a world of hurt. Reports are that most taxable property values in our county went down about 7 percent. So, each penny of property tax on $100 worth of property yields fewer tax dollars for both our city and county. And while you and I reduce our spending when money gets tight, the government doesn’t operate that way.

    So, the county and city plan to raise their respective property tax rate to what government budgetcrats call “revenue neutral.” That means the rate will go up just enough to get the county and city the same amount it would have gotten before property values plummeted: from 74 cents to 78.4 cents for the county, and from 49.95 cents to 52.66 cents for the city. But then the county will add another 3.9 cents to pay for increases in this year’s budget, bringing the total county rate to 82.3 cents for every $100 worth of taxable property.

    And don’t forget, the city manager also proposes to raise fees for collecting your garbage, recyclables and yard trash from $44 to $48, and stormwater fees from $45 to $51. Stormwater fees are supposed to be used by the city to alleviate flooding during heavy rains. That’s another subject all together.

    But here is the kicker. Not everyone’s residential property value decreased. The revenue neutral hike will increase rates for those who didn’t see a drop in their property values for whatever reason. County commissioners and City Council members need to consider this hiccup in their budget decisions.

    For example, let’s take a $150,000 house whose value did not change. The property tax increase that is supposed to be “revenue neutral” will increase the combined city and county property tax by $171.50.

    My property value increased 1.3 percent. I thought it a fluke … an anomaly. I called five friends to check their revaluations. Three of the five had an increase larger than mine. One who had a decrease in his residential property value saw a 28 percent increase in his business property value.

    Get this. His commercial property consists of three parcels. Two saw a significant increase in value that resulted in the 28 percent spike. The third parcel, which the state plans to take for a road widening project, decreased in value. That means the state will buy that parcel for a much lower price. I’m sure that was purely coincidental.

    We can’t figure out why three of the five people in my social circle had their property values increase when all I’m hearing is about how property values decreased. I’m sure the more people I call, the more will probably say their property values decreased.

    But I was curious, and so I headed to the Cumberland County Tax Record website to compare 2016 to 2017 property values in my neighborhood. Here is where it gets weird.

    One neighbor’s property value decreased by $1,000. Two other neighbors’ property values increased by 3.1 and 1.4 percent. All the houses are within a stone’s throw of each other, and all were built around the same time.

    Here’s the weirdest part: One house that has been in structural and aesthetic decline for several years increased in value by $4,000. The owner abandoned the house earlier this year. It’s an eyesore that guards the entrance into our small community. We reported it to the city, and they slapped a sign on the garage door asking the owner to clean the property. Did I say the owner abandoned the property? Go figure.

  • 03SinkorSwimI fought the sink, and the sink won. I don’t know what you did on Mother’s Day, but I re-enacted Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” at our kitchen sink. For those of you who came in late, in 1954 Walt Disney made a movie version of“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” It’s a great movie, starring James Mason as Captain Nemo, the Nautilus as the world’s first steampunk submarine, and the Kraken as the Giant Squid. 

    The plot is intense. Rumors of a sea monster attacking ships cause the U.S. government to send out a ship to discover what is going on. Turns out the sea monster is actually the Nautilus submarine commanded by the semi-crazed Captain Nemo. A bunch of exciting stuff happens in the movie: cannibals, hurricanes, deserted islands, and best of all, an attack by a giant squid. 

    Mother’s Day is when the prodigal children come home to assure their Moms that all the excitement they provided during their childhood was worth it. Our house was no different. Both sons came home to see their mother. Moms are not supposed to cook on Mother’s Day, so I was in charge of lunch. After a brief time at the sink doing culinary things, I noticed the sink had decided not to drain. Where there should have been a vortex sucking liquid into who knows where, there was only a calm sea filling up the sink each time the water was turned on. This could not be good.

    The logical thing was to turn on the garbage disposal to drain away trouble into the bowels of PWC. Didn’t work. Instead, the water in the sink on the garbage disposal side bubbled up on the smaller side sink. It wasn’t just water. It was water with chunks of loathsome black stuff. Some of the dark flotsam was fine grained. There was something in the pipes. I suspected either a submarine or a giant squid.

    Being a husband of many decades, I had to make a quick decision. Who to blame? Ah ha! My wife had made a batch of her excellent deviled eggs recently. The egg shells had fallen into the sink. While she had removed most of the shells, undoubtably some shells had fallen into the drain and clogged it up. Blame wrongly assigned, I could self-righteously begin the process of turning the garbage disposal on and off in the vain hope of eventually breaking up the clog or the sea serpent that was creating the sink tsunamis.This did not work.

    I vowed not to be defeated by a mere sink harboring the Clog from the Black Lagoon. Doing the manly thing, I went to Lowes. I bought something called a mini sink plunger that looks like a plastic accordion. For less than four bucks, my problem appeared to be solved. Unfortunately, this tool did not work. I decided to hold a stopper down in the small sink while I turned on the garbage disposal.This seemed to work briefly. The water in the garbage disposal side began to drain. As Borat would say, “Great success.”

    Modestly, I felt a kinship to the heroism of Big Bad John as immortalized in Jimmy Dean’s greatest song. I began humming a modified version: “Then came that day at the bottom of the sink/ When the Clog emerged and black goo started flyin’/ Mother’s Day dinner was expected and hearts beat fast/ And everybody thought they had eaten their last/ Except Dad/ Big Bad Dad/ Through the fetid water and wet chunks of this man-made hell walked a giant of a Dad that the family knew well/ Grabbed a metal stopper, gave out with a groan/ And like a giant dumb bell just stood there alone/ Big Dad/ With all of his strength, he gave a mighty shove/ And a son yelled out, ‘There’s a drain being unplugged’/ And three family members scrambled from a watery grave/ Now there’s only one left down there to save, Big Dad/ Then came that rumble way down in the ground/ And water and chunks belched out of that drain/ And everybody knew that Dad’s plumbing efforts were in vain.

    It turns out water is not compressible. America’s favorite geyser, Old Faithful, erupted from the small sink, spraying a magnificent stream of filthy chunky water onto me and into the air. Water, water everywhere. And yet the boards do shrink. Tonight, let us praise professional plumbers. 

  • 02Margaret Grow UpU.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) just published a book. Not a diatribe about our paralyzed Congress, our dreadful 2016 election, or Democrats and Republicans duking it out all over our nation, Sasse’s “The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance” suggests something else entirely. 

    Sasse writes that perhaps loving but overprotective parents have raised a generation of young adults who are not assuming responsibilities shouldered without question by their parents, grandparents and older forebearers. Perhaps our young folks need to step up to the plate. 

    Hello, millennials! Not everyone sees “The Vanishing American Adult” in this context. Some see Sasse’s literary effort as the requisite book written by a politician with higher aspirations. Sniffed Alyssa Rosenberg in a review in The Washington Post titled “To Make America Great Again, Give Your Kid Chores,” Sasse’s book “comes across as an effort to set Sasse up for a larger role on the national stage.” 

    Writing for The New York Times, Jennifer Szalai hints at the same motivation, describing the Senator as “a 45-year-old conservative whose political ascent has been remarkably swift.”

    Senator Sasse may well be positioning himself for the one office larger than the U.S. Senate, so stay tuned to what the former college-president-now-politician is up to and what he says. 

    Meanwhile, Sasse’s newly-published book strives hard to make salient and painful points that have been made before by other authors and thinkers and which gives many American parents considerable pause. Think helicopter parents.

    When one of the Precious Jewels, then a pipsqueak, headed into the third grade, I stopped by the school to meet his teacher, new to that elementary school. She confided that she had come from a school in a disadvantaged neighborhood where she never met a parent of any of her students. She had transferred into a school with high achieving parents who expected the same from their children. So many mothers had dropped by to tell the new teacher about their very special “Susie” and “Stevie” that the new teacher felt smothered and doubted her decision to change schools.

    More than a little has been written about millennials, who have also been called Echoes of the baby boom, Generation 9/11, Generation Me, Trophy Kids and other terms generally applied to young people in western, developed nations. They have been described, as Sasse suggests, as self-absorbed, sheltered, pressured, confident, entitled and very special. 

    They are also seen as seeking a comfortable balance between work and personal life, having a strong social consciousness, collaborative work habits and enviable technology skills.

    As a proud and full-throated baby boomer born to parents of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation, it is clear to me that collective life experiences define every generation. My parents’ generation lived through the Great Depression, World War II and the postwar economic boom. They were thrifty,
    deliberate and conservative in their work and
    personal lives. 

    My fellow boomers and I grew up as part of the biggest demographic bump in American history to that point, requiring new schools and services at every stage in our lives, including all sorts of care services as we begin to fade into the sunset. 

    We ignited and survived the great social upheaval in our nation during the 1960s and 70s and were also labeled self-absorbed and all about “me.” In our waning years, we also helped elect Donald Trump president of the United States.

    So, it is no surprise that millennials have been and continue to be shaped by the world they encounter. They were children and college
    students when the trauma of 9/11 forever
    changed our nation. 

    They are the most diverse and highly educated generation in American history, yet they still face the fallout of the Great Recession. As they establish careers and families, they no doubt have read speculation that they will never achieve the financial stability their parents have enjoyed.

    They do not remember a time without computers and increasingly powerful technology that allows access to the entire world Instantaneous communication is their way of life. Their world is unlike those of their parents and grandparents, so it is hardly surprising that they are different
    as well.

    I suspect the criticism Sasse levels at millennials — and by extension, at their parents — carries both kernels of truth and a shallow understanding of one generation from another. I also suspect Senator Sasse has his eyes on our nation’s biggest political prize.

  • 01PubPenWhen my oldest walked across the stage at UNC Chapel Hill this past Mother’s Day to receive her diploma, I could not have been prouder. Big days like this don’t just happen. For more than two decades, countless people have invested in her and the entire class of 2017. 

    My daughter is a product of the Cumberland County Schools system. I am thankful for everyone in it who contributed to her success: the teachers who pushed her to do her best; the ones who called her out when she was trying to get away with doing less; the ones who saw her struggle and offered encouragement; the ones who taught her how to be an independent thinker; the ones who taught her to love reading. 

    I am thankful to the teachers who sponsored clubs that instilled in her a love of theater, debate, foreign languages, adventure and a sense of civility and love for her fellow man. I am thankful for the administrators who showed compassion when her dad was deployed and our family was struggling. I am thankful for administrators who were always kinds and professional.

    My hat is off to the volunteers who spent time in her classrooms, held fundraisers to benefit local students and who helped in other ways I’ll never know. I’m thankful to all of them — and so many more. 

    Having good-hearted, solid leaders who care for children at the helm of our education system makes all these things an everyday occurrence in this community. Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Till Jr. is an excellent example of leadership, and he is serious about helping local students prosper. 

    His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Dr. Till recently received the North Carolina PTA Superintendent of the Year Award and the North Carolina Association of School Administrators 2017 Raymond Sarbaugh Leadership Award. They are well-deserved. 

    I know mine is not the only heart that is full this time of year. At commencement ceremonies across the country, proud families reflect and students celebrate, some showing their gratitude with messages like “Thanks, mom and dad!” on their mortarboards. That’s not been the experience everywhere, though.

    It has been disheartening to watch the news coverage of graduations at some other establishments, including the booing of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University. Eventually, the noise became so disruptive that the school’s president, Edison O. Jackson, interrupted DeVos to tell the students, “If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you. Choose which way you want to go.” In addition to booing, several of the students had risen to their feet and turned their backs on DeVos.

    Similarly, as Vice President Mike Pence took the stage to give a commencement speech this past Sunday at his alma mater, Notre Dame, a crowd of about 150 got up and walked out. While Pence did not acknowledge the walkout, he did note, “This university (Notre Dame) is a vanguard of the freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America.”

    Pride and hard work and all the warm fuzzies of the season aside, as a mom and as an American, it breaks my heart that this is the platform some choose in voicing their views. I am a firm believer in the First Amendment and expect people to stand up for their beliefs. There is also something to be said for having a little class and a sense of occasion. There is a time and place for booing, for protesting, for dissenting. A commencement ceremony is not one of them. 

    Are we really turning out a generation of easily-offended, emotionally vulnerable snowflakes? For all our good intentions, has the helicopter parenting, coddling and overpraising backfired? Have we produced a graduating class across this country that is so self-centered and self-absorbed that sitting respectfully through one commencement address is just too much? I hope not. I choose to believe not. 

    Although there were clearly some who chose to ruin a day that was decades in the making at Bethune-Cookman University and Notre Dame, I choose to believe that the class of 2017 is going to make the world a much better place. I believe they are up to the task! 

  • 01COVERCape Fear Regional Theatre invites the public to its 15th annual Blues-N-Brews festival on June 3 for a fun-filled Saturday evening at Festival Park. “(This) is going to be hands-down the best way to kick off your summer,” said CFRT Development Director Liz Thompson. “It checks all the boxes for a great time — cold beer, hot blues music, great food, awesome people and it’s all for a good cause!” Blues-N-Brews is CFRT’s big fundraising event each year. 

    Three talented groups provide the “Blues” for the event. Mark McKinney & Co. play from 5-6:30 p.m., Tullie Brae from 6:45-8:15p.m., and Elliot and the Untouchables from 8:30-10p.m. 

    Mark McKinney & Co. is an acoustic trio of three local musicians based out of Pembroke. Tullie Brae is a multi-instrumentalist  with roots in gospel music. She was a huge hit when she played at Brews-N-Brews two years ago and returns as a part of her current tour. Elliot and the Untouchables specialize in jump and jump-influenced blues, a style of music that combines elements of swing and blues. The band is hugely popular in the southeastern U.S. and last played at this event in 2008.

    The “Brews” come from over 40 brewers, including every local brewer our area offers. One $35 ticket gets you a 3-ounce taste-testing glass, which you can use to taste as many of the more than 100 beers available as you want. These include craft beers, ciders and everything in between. 

    For the first time, a small selection of the most popular beers will be available for purchase in full-sized quantities, for those who find what they like and want to stick to that. For non-beer lovers, Lu Mil Vineyard will have wine and wine slushies available for purchase. 

    There will also be an abundance of dining options to browse through. Thompson said she’s particularly excited for this element. “I love a good food truck, and we’ve got some of the best coming,” she said. “There will be something for everyone — burgers, ribs, BBQ, shrimp, nachos, chicken and waffles, sweets and more.” 

    Blues-N-Brews has grown since its inception 15 years ago and plans to maintain its momentum. Thompson said Festival Park has a maximum capacity of 10,000 people, and this year they’re at 3,000 registered to attend. Eventually, she said, CFRT would love to see the whole park filled. But the growth for this event has not only been in numbers. Quality is also increasing each year, as CFRT continues to prove itself to be a treasure our city needs. 

    This year, CFRT won the Fayetteville’s Tourism & Development Authority grant. This enabled staff to expand marketing efforts to include the entire region, not just Cumberland County. CFRT also built a new partnership with Beasley radio station, and partnered with the popular new downtown store Pressed – A Creative Space to design this year’s T-shirts. 

    This pattern of reaching out and making local connections to the benefit of everyone demonstrates the spirit CFRT carries. “We have 22 people who are part of making this event happen,” said Thompson. “Many of them are just community members who wanted to get involved. SarahMarie (Stewart) was a volunteer last year and was the food vendor chair. This year she’s the co-chair for the whole event!” For those interested in volunteering day-of for two to four-hour shifts, email bnbvolunteers@cfrt.org. 

    Gates open at 4 p.m. for those who purchase a $75 VIP ticket. Tullie Brae will treat VIP guests to an extra concert in the VIP tent from 4-5 p.m., where guests can also enjoy local beer and food donated by Mash House Brewing Company. Regular tickets cost $35 each, include the unlimited taste-testing glass and free music, and grant admission at 5 p.m. Tickets for $15 are available for those who want to come in and enjoy the night without drinking. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit www.cfrt.org/BluesNBrews.

  • 06AnthonyKellyThe Fayetteville Police Department is back up to full strength. Ten cadets just graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement Training class, pinned on their badges and were issued side arms. Until the graduation, the official count for the department was 427 sworn officers out of 433 authorized positions. Many officials focus on the racial composition of Fayetteville’s public safety services. Interim Police Chief Anthony Kelly is not one of them. Nor is City Manager Doug Hewett. Of those 427 sworn officers, only 80 of them are African-American.

    “We’re looking at it in the wrong way,” declared Kelly. “We’ve been trying to recruit a community into a profession that has not been introduced to it as a viable career opportunity,” he said. Kelly added that he never interacted with the police as a youngster. “We almost will have to advance to another generation to start changing the mindset of young people.” Kelly was a recruiter for three years with the police department.

    There’s a lot of work to be done among those who believe the FPD should better represent the community it serves. Fayetteville has one of the largest populations of African-Americans in North Carolina, yet the police department’s black composition is 19 percent of the whole. Of approximately 270 uniformed, patrol officers there are only five black sergeants in supervisory positions. Kelly isn’t alarmed about the numbers. “White supervisors could have an advantage in the black community. When I responded in the black community, I caught more flak from the people than elsewhere.” Kelly said in his experience white sergeants get more respect. When asked what that says about policing, he responded, “what does that say about black people … the community I live in must change the way it looks at things.”

    Officials note that many African-American officers with career promotional opportunities in mind receive terrific training and experience in Fayetteville and then move on to other departments. Typically, municipal fire departments have even worse records of hiring and retaining blacks. Kelly was quick to recall that “being a fireman never crossed my mind when I was young.” He says most young black men and women never interact with firefighters. It’s a foreign career field to them.

    City Councilman Chalmers McDougald doesn’t see it that way. He said it’s a matter of the city aggressively recruiting African Americans. He puts the responsibility on the city administration, especially the Office of Human Resources. HR is a core function of business and government. An HR department of an organization oversees various aspects of employment, such as compliance with labor law and employment standards, employee benefits as well as recruitment and dismissal. “HR is supposed to know the law,” said McDougald. “You have to have balance in the employee applicant pool,” he added We emailed City Manager Hewett with some questions about the hiring disparities and then spoke with him in person. “I’ve not reviewed this information and as such, can’t comment at this time,” he said. “That’s a big part of the problem,” Councilman McDougald declared. “I think they’ve tried to hide what they’re not doing, but anything that’s hidden can be dug up.” He concluded. Bi-racial employment issues in the fire department will be discussed by city council in June.

  • 02SalesTaxAs a citizen of Fayetteville, it is a frustrating and disappointing experience watching the negotiation process that intends to determine how future sales tax receipts will be divided among Cumberland County, Fayetteville and other municipalities in the county. I suggest residents of Fayetteville get informed and thoughtfully watch this process. Closely investigating what is happening guarantees an eye-opening moment that will, hopefully, result in Fayetteville citizens speaking up and demanding fairness.

    Given that annexations reduce the amount of sales tax distributed to the county and municipalities, a 2003 agreement was reached that called for Fayetteville and towns to reimburse the county, or one another, half the sales tax distribution gained because of annexations. The initial agreement was for 10 years but was extended in 2013 for three more years. It was extended again in 2016 for three additional years with the understanding that in January 2017, the county and municipalities would commence negotiations regarding division of sales tax receipts. Those negotiations started on April 12 in a meeting where the county and municipalities were represented.

    The distribution can be done one of two ways. One is as it is currently done, by per capita distribution, where the total of the county-wide population (in incorporated and unincorporated areas) and the populations of each municipality are used to calculate a proportional per capita distribution. The other is ad valorem distribution, where the sum of ad valorem (property) taxes levied by the county and each municipality, in the immediately preceding fiscal year, are used to calculate a proportional share of sales tax proceeds.

    The crux of the matter is that the county and municipalities, except for Fayetteville, are in agreement to extend the current arrangement until 2023. Mayor Nat Robertson has been quoted in several reports as saying the city was giving up $2.1 million when the agreement was first reached. The city is now losing $6.7 million. Among other places, this statement was reported in an article titled, “Cumberland County, Fayetteville and town leaders debate sale tax funds” by Steve DeVane. In the end, Fayetteville is facing payouts that have no limit. The question for all involved, especially for residents of Fayetteville, is whether this is fair to those who live in and financially support the city.

    I live in Fayetteville, and my answer is that the sales tax distribution arrangement in place, and being pushed for extension by the county and other municipalities, is horrendously unfair to residents of Fayetteville. What follows are some considerations that lead me to this conclusion.

    As mentioned above, the annual amount paid is steadily increasing. Without doubt, these increasing payment amounts result from improved sales tax collections. Therein is a major point of unfairness. The bulk of sales tax receipts is generated in Fayetteville. Following is what I wrote during February 2016 in a column titled, “Cumberland County’s Sales Tax Distribution Squabble: An Example of What’s Wrong in America:”

    Fayetteville’s Mayor, Nat Robertson, and City Manager, Ted Voorhees, led an information meeting on 13 January 2016 that was open to the public. One slide in the prepared presentation read: “Taxable sales within Fayetteville accounted for 82.6 percent of the county-wide total sales for FY2009 (the last year for which data is available). Under the state distribution methods, for FY2015 Fayetteville could only receive approximately 25 percent to 36 percent of the sales tax distributions.” It would appear reasonable that this be a point for consideration in determining fair distribution.

    Given that the normal state distribution method yields a relatively low sales tax return for Fayetteville while a substantial portion of those taxes are generated in the city, it seems unfair that we suffer further under the modified distribution procedure. This unfair condition is compounded by allowing the amount transferred to the county and other municipalities to increase without limit.

    The primary reason for increased sales tax revenue that is being distributed to the county and municipalities other than Fayetteville requires attention. I contend it is, by and far, due to actions undertaken by the City of Fayetteville. In 2004, Fayetteville annexed areas of Cumberland County that added some 43,000 residents to the City. The “Big Bang” annexation was a tense time in our city and county, but it took us above the 200,000 population level that major businesses desire before considering locating in a city. After attaining that population level, national companies that I never expected to choose Fayetteville started arriving.
    Further, the city has taken, and is taking, other actions that feed the economic growth of this area. Fayetteville took the lead in winning a Hope VI grant that allowed for demolition of public housing in the Old Wilmington Road area that did not provide the appearance that contributes to attracting businesses. More importantly, citizens were living in less than adequate housing. The result was beautiful units that provide better than adequate housing and enhances that portion of the city.

    There is a promising effort underway to build a North Carolina Civil War History Center in Fayetteville. The city stepped up to financially support that project. It will be another asset that produces economic growth. The new transportation center located downtown is beautiful, functional and rivals similar facilities anywhere.

    The recently passed $35 million Parks and Recreation bond issue will bring much-needed recreation facilities to the city. On the heels of this step came the decision to build a baseball stadium downtown. It will be home to Fayetteville’s minor league team.

    On Sunday, April 30, after church my wife and I sat in the shade on Hay Street and enjoyed jazz by three different groups. This was part of the annual Dogwood Festival attended this year by some 275,000 over the weekend. It could happen in a superbly accommodating space because the city built Festival Park, and, over time, transformed the downtown from a “party central” to a beautiful area that is inviting and simply a very pleasant place to spend time. As I sat there on Hay Street enjoying the afternoon, three thoughts hit me: I am starting to feel good, again, about Fayetteville; in the future, the Dogwood Festival will likely expand to the baseball stadium; all those festival vendors collect and deposit sales tax.

    What has been presented - and more - shows Fayetteville to be, among the county and other municipalities, the economic engine of this area. To see this as fact, one only has to compare Fayetteville economic expansion actions with those of Cumberland County. What has the county done to spur economic growth? On Hope VI, county commissioners had to be pushed for a minimal investment; given the county’s track record, City Council made Fayetteville’s financial support of the North Carolina Civil War History Center contingent on the county matching that contribution. The bottom line question is: what of consequence is the County doing, or done, to attract jobs, have people spend money in the area and simply make this a great place to live? I think not much.

    County leaders argue that they have mandated services that must be provided and sales tax revenue is needed to help meet those requirements. I drive by the county’s Health Department several times a week. What I see is a huge sign flashing all kinds of free stuff…” free mammograms, free condoms, free smoking cessation classes.” I suggest the county do a thorough review of what is mandated and challenge some mandates. They might also take actions that lessen or negate the need for those mandated services.

    Fayetteville is transferring sales tax revenue, in increasing amounts, to other entities with no limit in place or insight; generating the bulk of sales tax revenue and is the economic engine of the county. I encourage citizens of

    Fayetteville to follow this sales tax distribution issue very closely and insist on fairness. This is not a matter that should be left for elected officials to resolve without thoughtful stand-taking by those of us out here feeding these government tills with hard-earned dollars. I hold that extending the current agreement is absolutely unfair to the citizens of Fayetteville.

  • David Phillips and Ricky Lopes have been friends for years. So, when Ricky’s 21-year-old son, Justin, died unexpectedly the in the summer of 2104, Phillips wanted to do something to honor Justin. The youngest of three, Justin loved cooking with his mom and was enrolled at the University of South Carolina. He planned to pursue a career in accounting. Andrea Phillips, David’s wife described his family as close-knit. “Justin’s death came out of nowhere and was unexpected,” said Andrea. “He was very involved in the community. He played soccer and baseball. He was in the key club and the National Honor Society. His family attends Lafayette Baptist Church, and he was very involved there as well.”

    As a fellow athlete, David, a runner, spent some time talking with his wife, Andrea, about what they could do to make a difference. The result was the Derby Run 5k. This year marks the second annual Derby Run. It takes place May 20 at Terry Sanford High School, Justin’s alma mater.

    “Our family has always been very close. We loved Justin so much and continue to miss him everyday. We are incredibly grateful that friends and family are coming together to raise money to benefit children within the community in his memory. Justin loved sports and loved to compete, so the Derby Run is an event we feel certain he would enjoy, ” said the Lopes Family (Donna and Ricky Lopes, Rebecca Lopes Aul and Emily Lopes Townsend).

    The course runs through scenic Haymount, including the Fayetteville Technical Community College campus, and finishes at Terry Sanford High School. “It’s easy, fun and flat!” said Andrea. “The entire event is a lot of fun. It is a party feeling. Last year we had a lot of friends of the family participate. There was a lot of reminiscing and hugging. We had about 200 runners. We would be thrilled if we had 300 this year.”

    She added that there will be a local radio station at Terry Sanford, and attendees are invited to wear their best Derby hat and/or costume. There will be prizes for various categories. Each runner will receive a commemorative T-shirt and a bag. T-shirts are also available for purchase. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
    In celebrating Justin’s life, it made sense to turn the run into something that would help others. Last year, the Derby Run benefited St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. This year, the family decided to keep it local and is giving the proceeds from the race to the Child Advocacy Center in Fayetteville, Cy’s World Foundation, and the Justin Richard Lopes Memorial Scholarship of Cumberland Community Foundation. Andrea added that they are also accepting gently worn athletic shoes for Water Step, a charitable organization for healthy drinking water in needed areas of the world.

    The child Advocacy Center works with partners in the community, including law enforcement and medical practitioners to offer children a safe place that supports the prevention, investigation and prosecution of child abuse. CAC not only offers a safe place to interview children, it also offers prevention education for parents, professionals and agencies in our community. During FY 2016, our center served 773 children and their families and, by our coordinating efforts, saved the community more than $500,000.

    Founded in 201 in honor of Edgar Clyde Garber IV, who died at the age of 17, Cy’s World Foundation seeks to promote a love of the outdoors. The goal of the organization is to offer grants that focus on teaching, introducing, and compelling youth to enjoy outdoors safely, with conservation of natural resources and sustainable practices to insure these activities are here for others to enjoy for many generations. Cy’s World has partnered with YMCA’s Camp thunderbird, Cumberland County’s Ducks Unlimited, Hunter’s Helping Kids and First Tee of the Triad, Winston-Salem on various events aimed at getting kids up and moving.

    The Justin Richard Lopes Memorial Scholarship of Cumberland Community Foundation supports Cumberland County high school students who will attend the University of South Carolina.
    Water Step is a nonprofit organization that provides safe water to communities in developing countries. Based on simple tools and effective training, organization trains people how to use safe water solutions: water purification, health education and well repair, empowering communities to take care of their own water needs for years.

    To register for the Derby Run, go to active.com and type Derby Run into the search bar. Registration is $25. Late registration opens at 7 a.m. at Terry Sanford on May 20. The race starts at 8 a.m. Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1651810641752739.

  • 13Lea JordanSouth View High School was recently honored by the N.C. High School Athletic Association with the Commissioner’s Cup at the organization’s annual meeting in Chapel Hill. But South View principal Brian Edkins got an even bigger prize when he went to the Tiger prom later the same week.
    Attending the prom was South View student Lea Jordan, who graduated early in January but learned less than a month later she was suffering from leukemia. She’s been in and out of the hospital at Duke since then getting treatments.
    Before she left, Jordan vowed to attend her prom in May. Edkins said if they had to, they’d carry her across the stage. They didn’t. Jordan made it under her own steam.
    What made her appearance special was Jordan was one of the recipients this year of a donation made possible by South View’s Kicking for Cancer soccer fundraiser. It was an idea started nearly 20 years ago by Edkins when he was the school’s soccer coach as a tribute to his dad, who was a victim of cancer.
    The charity event, conducted in the soccer preseason each year, has raised close to $100,000 in its history. It is why South View was one of eight schools in the state to receive this year’s Commissioner’s Cup, which is presented to member schools of the NCHSAA for charitable
    or other outreach programs to their
    local communities.
    Initially, all money from Kicking for Cancer was given to the American Cancer Society.
    In recent years, donations have also been given to individuals battling the disease.
    This year, Jordan became the first South View student to receive a gift of $500 to help with her struggle with cancer.
    Edkins said the goal of Kicking for Cancer becomes clearer when you start to put actual faces on the people the money goes to. “When I saw her there she was absolutely glowing,’’ he said. “It made me so happy. You get to see where your hard work is going to.’’
    Jordan said the week of prom she didn’t have to undergo a chemotherapy treatment, so her energy level was good. She found a dress in Durham the Tuesday before prom and got out of the hospital the next day.
    “It meant a lot,’’ Jordan said. “My last day of classes (at South View) was Jan. 27. I was thrown into a world of being in and out of the hospital and don’t get to see people my age and my friends
    that much.
    “To be able to see them and spend time with them made me feel like a normal teenager.’’
    The chemotherapy has caused Jordan to lose her hair, but she said she never considered wearing a wig to the prom. “It’s me and who I am now,’’ she said. “It’s something I had to deal with. It’s not something I’m ashamed of.’’

  • 13Lea JordanSouth View High School was recently honored by the N.C. High School Athletic Association with the Commissioner’s Cup at the organization’s annual meeting in Chapel Hill. But South View principal Brian Edkins got an even bigger prize when he went to the Tiger prom later the same week.
    Attending the prom was South View student Lea Jordan, who graduated early in January but learned less than a month later she was suffering from leukemia. She’s been in and out of the hospital at Duke since then getting treatments.
    Before she left, Jordan vowed to attend her prom in May. Edkins said if they had to, they’d carry her across the stage. They didn’t. Jordan made it under her own steam.
    What made her appearance special was Jordan was one of the recipients this year of a donation made possible by South View’s Kicking for Cancer soccer fundraiser. It was an idea started nearly 20 years ago by Edkins when he was the school’s soccer coach as a tribute to his dad, who was a victim of cancer.
    The charity event, conducted in the soccer preseason each year, has raised close to $100,000 in its history. It is why South View was one of eight schools in the state to receive this year’s Commissioner’s Cup, which is presented to member schools of the NCHSAA for charitable
    or other outreach programs to their
    local communities.
    Initially, all money from Kicking for Cancer was given to the American Cancer Society.
    In recent years, donations have also been given to individuals battling the disease.
    This year, Jordan became the first South View student to receive a gift of $500 to help with her struggle with cancer.
    Edkins said the goal of Kicking for Cancer becomes clearer when you start to put actual faces on the people the money goes to. “When I saw her there she was absolutely glowing,’’ he said. “It made me so happy. You get to see where your hard work is going to.’’
    Jordan said the week of prom she didn’t have to undergo a chemotherapy treatment, so her energy level was good. She found a dress in Durham the Tuesday before prom and got out of the hospital the next day.
    “It meant a lot,’’ Jordan said. “My last day of classes (at South View) was Jan. 27. I was thrown into a world of being in and out of the hospital and don’t get to see people my age and my friends
    that much.
    “To be able to see them and spend time with them made me feel like a normal teenager.’’
    The chemotherapy has caused Jordan to lose her hair, but she said she never considered wearing a wig to the prom. “It’s me and who I am now,’’ she said. “It’s something I had to deal with. It’s not something I’m ashamed of.’’

  • 15PrepNotebookDees ShirtBefore he retired, longtime N.C. High School Athletic Association Executive Director Charlie Adams dreamed of an exhibit hall adjacent to the association’s offices where displays of memorabilia from great high school teams, coaches and athletes could be housed for the public to come view.

    That was one dream Adams wasn’t able to accomplish, but it doesn’t mean the various sports items he collected aren’t on display today.

    When the NCHSAA remodeled its offices a few years ago, plans were included for display cases and shelves around the building to show off some of the wide assortment of items that have been donated over the years. Now visitors to the offices can see a shirt worn by longtime South View softball coach Eddie Dees, or a cap that adorned the head of Cape Fear softball coaching legend Doris Howard.

    Que Tucker, the current commissioner of the NCHSAA, said when the building remodel took place, they wanted a way to try and keep at least part of Adams’ 

    dream alive. “We added shelving in the building and more wall space where we could hang jerseys,’’ she said.

    The main problem is that Adams and the NCHSAA staff did such a great job getting things donated, there is no room to display all of it at one time.

    That’s where Pepper Hines of the current NCHSAA staff and retired associate commissioner Carolyn Shannonhouse come in.

    The memorabilia currently not on display is kept in storage. Hines and Shannonhouse are responsible for rotating items on a regular basis, so different things are on display at different times.

    In addition to the collection of helmets, jerseys and various kinds of balls, there are also a host of pictures of great coaches and athletes from throughout the NCHSAA’s history.

    With the continuing advance of technology, Tucker hopes for a day when the NCHSAA can display all of its memorabilia like some museums do, with touch screens that would allow visitors to punch in the name of a great coach or athlete, then see that person’s picture with a biography of his or her accomplishments.


  • 16Aaron Beavers

    Aaron Beavers
    Gray’s Creek • Tennis • Junior
    As a member of the Bears’ tennis team, Beavers compiled a grade point average
    of 4.33


    17Anna Suggs

    Anna Suggs
    Terry Sanford • Softball • Sophomore
    Suggs, who is part of the Global Studies program at Terry Sanford, has a grade point average of 4.33. She is active in numerous clubs at Terry Sanford, as well as youth activities at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church.

  • 20ScholarAthlete1Payton Short

    Seventy-First • Softball • Sophomore

    Short has compiled a 4.17 grade point average for the Falcons.











    20ScholarAthlete2Sidney Gronowski

    Cape Fear • Softball •Junior

    Through May 2, Gronowski was batting .418 for the state playoff-bound Cape Fear softball team. She has a grade point average of 3.95 and is a member of the Student Government Association at Cape Fear.

  • CHAPEL HILL – As expected, the N.C. High School Athletic Association pared down its state playoff field in response to a major change in the classification of its schools. The action was taken at last week’s spring meeting of the NCHSAA Board of Directors.

    Beginning this fall, 20 percent of the association’s schools will be in the 4-A class and another 20 percent in 1-A. Both 3-A and 2-A will have 30 percent each.

    Since there are fewer teams in the top and bottom classes, it made sense to reduce the number of teams in the playoffs. There will now be 48 each in 4-A and 1-A, with 64 each in 3-A and 2-A.

    In football, the NCHSAA will still split classes and offer eight state titles. The new playoff numbers are for baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball
    and volleyball.

    One controversial point was that MaxPreps state rankings will be used to seed the teams on a one-year experiment. Some members of the NCHSAA Board of Directors, including Patty Evers of East Bladen, oppose that idea.

    “I’m not for a ranking system in high school,’’ Evers said. “How do you know who’s good and who’s not? You just don’t know and who’s going to do all
    that research?”

    Que Tucker, commissioner of the NCHSAA, said the board got a lot of input from athletic directors at their recent conference in Wilmington, along with recommendations from an ad hoc committee on the playoffs. “I think what the board did was good and we’ll see how it works,’’ she said.

    One important issue the board took no action on was the future of home school athletes playing for NCHSAA member schools. It has been a hot topic in other states and Evers said the NCHSAA knows the subject is coming to North Carolina. “We are ready to move forward with it,’’ she said. “There are still some things going on with the legislature we don’t
    know about.’’

    Tucker said the NCHSAA doesn’t want to have a knee jerk reaction to the issue and just blindly put a policy in place. “We’ll continue to monitor it and what our strategies will be as we move forward,’’ she said.

    Other news from the meeting:

    • Dual team wrestling, the last sport to still hold its state championship in a high school gym, will be moved to a neutral championship site.

    • The NCHSAA will look into developing a separate championship for
    girls’ wrestling.

    • Accepting money or an illegal award will cause an NCHSAA athlete to lose eligibility for the semester it was accepted and the semester to follow.

    • Cheerleading coaches and tennis coaches, girls and boys, must attend the annual rules clinic for their sport.

    • Cumberland County will get
    its own officials’ association
    for lacrosse.

    • The NCHSAA can require host schools for the playoffs to get a venue suitable to the expected crowd that is of sufficient quality.

    • In-season dead periods were cut from six to three weeks. The May dead period was eliminated for girls’ sports and for boys at schools without football. A 10-day dead period was added at the end of the school year.

    • Guidelines were set to have mandatory breaks during a game when wet bulb thermometer readings are at 90 or above.

  • 19BrittJack Britt baseball coach Dr. Christopher Dague teaches history at the school, so it was only appropriate that his Buccaneer team make a little of it this season.

    For the first time since Britt opened its doors in 2000, Jack Britt owns a piece of a conference baseball title. The Bucs split regular-season honors with perennial Mid-South 4-A Conference power Cape Fear and are ready to begin competition in this week’s state 4-A baseball playoffs.

    Dague said he began talking with his players before the season started about the need to exceed expectations this season. “This is the hardest-working team I’ve had,’’ he said. “It’s been incredible to watch them work.’’

    He said the squad was so committed they were unhappy when he gave them time off, like the Saturday after their big conference win over Cape Fear.

    “They get along well with each other,’’ Dague said, “but winning cures a lot of that too.’’

    So does senior leadership, and Dague said he was blessed with that this season. 

    Two of those seniors are Zachary Knapp and Gavin Wheeler. Knapp has 67 strikeouts in 37.1 innings through April 29 and a .350 batting average with 20 RBIs.

    Wheeler is hitting .375 with eight RBIs.

    Knapp said making history means a lot to this year’s Britt team. “You’ve earned something special,’’ he said. “I feel we have no egos on the team. Everyone gets along pretty well. The main goal of all the players is to win.’’

    Knapp has successfully battled back from knee surgery twice but is still waiting for colleges to show interest in him. “If I go out and give my all, the scouts will come,’’ he said.

    Wheeler agreed with Knapp that egos are not a problem on this Britt team and that the focus hasn’t been on personal glory. “You hear some guys on other teams worried about numbers and how they are doing,’’ Wheeler said. “To win the conference championship is more important.

    “That’s what we’ve been after, W’s, not our numbers.’’

    Britt hit a bump in the road at the end of the regular season, losing a pitching duel against Cape Fear star Gavin Williams, then getting battered by Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference regular-season champion Terry Sanford.

    Dague said the team’s mantra all season is that at 3:45 p.m., the start of practice, whatever happened the previous day is history.

    He’s optimistic about this year’s playoff chances. “Last year we beat Southern Alamance, who was a No. 8 seed,’’ he said. “We had a 14-12 record. We’re 15-7 now (before the Mid-South tournament).

    “If we execute what we know how to do, we’ll be fine,” Dague added.

  • 18QuestionsAnsweredThere were questions at the start of the season for both the Cape Fear baseball and softball teams.

    For baseball, they came from an early season knee injury to star pitcher Gavin Williams. For softball, it was the graduation of star pitcher Aubrey Reep and no experience waiting in the wings to replace her.

    To say both questions have been answered is an understatement. Williams returned to the mound on his surgically repaired knee in April and has been mowing down the competition. Cape Fear’s softball team rallied around young pitcher MacKenzie Peters by mounting the best offense the Colts have seen during their recent run of state 4-A playoff success.

    The result is baseball shared the Mid-South 4-A title with Jack Britt, and softball took a 20-0 record into the Mid-South tournament. Both teams are optimistic and poised to begin pursuit of N.C. High School Athletic Association titles as state playoffs in both sports open this week.

    After a scrimmage with Midway in February, Cape Fear baseball coach Wendell Smith was shocked to find Williams collapsed on the ground near the team bus.

    “He had said something to me about his knee locking up in P.E., but I didn’t think much about it,’’ Smith said. The diagnosis was a torn meniscus in his Williams’ left knee. He underwent surgery on March 1st, but the prognosis was good, and after 30 days of rehabbing he returned to play.

    “I thought it would affect my pitching, but it hasn’t done any of that,’’ Williams said. That could be because he’s been getting up as early as 5:30 a.m. to do strength work focusing on his legs and back.

    “What the doctor told him to do after the operation he did to strengthen it,’’ Smith said. “That’s self-discipline.’’

    Williams began drawing attention with his improved velocity last summer. This spring he’s been tracked by more radar guns at his games than a speeding car on Interstate 95.

    Entering last week’s Mid-South tournament, Smith was 3-0 with 48 strikeouts in 23.2 innings. He had yet to allow an earned run this season.

    “I changed my mechanics from last year,’’ he said, “where I stood on the mound, release point, balance point, stuff like that.’’

    Smith said the Colts don’t have to rely solely on Williams in the playoffs. “Our philosophy is if we’ve got good enough pitching and throw strikes, we’ve got a chance to win,’’ he said. “We can find a way to score runs.’’

    Runs have been a big feature of this year’s Cape Fear softball team, and Bri Bryant is one of the reasons. Through May 1st she leads Cumberland County both in batting and RBIs with a .667 average and 47 runs driven in.

    “This year she’s been totally a power hitter,’’ said Cape Fear co-coach Jeff McPhail. “She stepped up her game, bat-wise.’’

    Bryant said that was her goal in the offseason. “My past three years I felt I tried too hard,’’ she said. “I tried to see it and hit it wherever the pitch is pitched.’’

    She praised Peters for stepping in at pitcher as a 13-year-old with no varsity experience. “We’ve tried to have her back, pitching and defense-wise,’’ Bryant said. “A lot of people didn’t see us being in the position we’re in. We’ve tried to blow everybody’s mind.’’McPhail hopes the team got some good experience for the playoffs when Cape Fear added games late this year with strong opponents Marlboro Academy and Whiteville.

    “When you get to the playoffs you’ve got to have luck on your side,’’ he said. “We’re hitting the ball better than we have in the last two or three years, and that’s going to be our key.’’

  • 17Free Fire 2016I thought Hollywood had promised all roles related to being criminal in Boston to Ben Affleck, in perpetuity. It just doesn’t seem right to watch all the wacky shenanigans taking place in “Free Fire” (90 minutes) without his Southie accent classing up the joint. The only real information I had about the plot was that it involved an incredible amount of bullets. And, since it was directed by Ben Wheatley (one weird dude) and written by Amy Jump (a super awesome lady), I knew the odds were on it being incredibly bizarre somehow.

    The odds were right. Most of the film takes place in an abandoned umbrella factory, and everybody gets shot hilariously, writhes around the floor, swears a lot, does some illegal drugs and (with the lone exception of Brie Larson) has the most fabulously manly facial hair this side of a ZZ Top music video. In fact, up until this film, I always thought Armie Hammer looked like a big cartoon baby. Now, after seeing his Grizzly Man beard, I understand that he is very attractive. Never shave again, Armie Hammer!

    The plot is fairly straightforward. Vernon (Sharlto Copley) is meeting two Irish Republican Army guys, Chris (Cillian Murphey) and Frank (Michael Smiley), to sell them many powerful guns. Apparently, this also involves various representatives and intermediaries such as Ord (Hammer), Justine (Larson), Harry (Jack Reynor), Martin (Babou Ceesay), Stevo (Sam Riley) and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti). I am not an expert in arms dealing, but that seems like a pretty long list of dramatis personae for a secret, illegal weapons deal with a terrorist group. I hope the cast gets cut down to a more manageable shortlist before I get confused about which guys are fighting which other guys, or which is supposed to be Justine’s love interest.

    Vernon brings the wrong guns, but Chris and Frank maintain their calm and do the deal anyway. Chris does that jerk power play where he asks Vernon a question, then begins firing his new toy loudly and repeatedly to drown out Vernon’s response. This happens at least three times. Since Vernon is clearly odious, I find that less troublesome than I otherwise would. A briefcase of cash changes hands and everyone lives happily ever after.

    Except. When the IRA guys load the guns into the nondescript van, Harry realizes that Stevo was the guy who messed with his cousin the night before, and things go south. It starts out pretty hilarious, with Harry demanding satisfaction for his cousin, and Frank trying to figure out how extensive a beating will fit the bill. It escalates pretty quickly until everyone has been shot at least twice. Hilariously, there are still so many people screaming and writhing on the floor at this point. I did lose track of what guys were allies and which guys were shooting at each other. Wheatley and Jump do not make it easy to figure out, either. At random intervals, it seems like Vernon and Ord are either still buddies or planning to put a bullet in each other. Ditto with Vernon and Justine, and several other pairs that keep kissing and making up, right before shooting each other again. It is a masterpiece.    

    Overall, I got a serious Tarantino vibe from the whole thing. The wildly incongruous, yet perfectly on-the-nose soundtrack probably contributed, as did the snappy dialogue and the fact that most of the movie is one long shootout. I think it is fair to say I quite enjoyed it. In fact, if you have a day off and some cool friends, I encourage you to check out the rest of the Amy Jump/Ben Wheatley catalog. Except “A Field in England;” that one was too arty even
    for me. 

  • 16FoodPoliticsFood, fantasy, fiction and politics are my favorite topics. If you read my column regularly, you know these preferences and will not be surprised that the books I recommend for reading in May deal with these themes.

    First of all, “The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food” edited by Randall Kenan, collects some of the best writing by North Carolina authors about their favorite foods and eating experiences. Lee Smith, Daniel Wallace, Marianne Gingher, Jill McCorkle, Jaki Shelton Green, Wayne Caldwell, Marcie Cohen Ferris, Michael McFee and Zelda Lockhart are some of the contributors. My favorite is Kenan himself. He opens his essay with a memory of food Duplin County neighbors brought to his family’s house when his great uncle died.

    “People showing up heavy-laden with food to the homes of the recently deceased. Hams, fried chicken, oven-baked barbecue chicken, pork chops smothered in gravy, dirty rice, Spanish rice, potato salad galore, slaw, sweet potato casseroles, candied yams, hushpuppies, cornbread, soup, chopped pork barbecue, collard greens, pound cake, chocolate cake, coconut cake, pineapple cake, red velvet cake, sweet potato pie and lemon meringue pie.”

    Jaki Shelton Green writes about a meal she fixed for a man she was “kicking to the curb. It seemed best to leave a taste of me on his lips. Fillet of beef in puff pastry and Madeira cream sauce. Caramelized shallots, carrots, and mushrooms. Roasted lemon garlic artichokes. Grand Marnier cheesecake.”

    My fiction theme is represented by “The Education of Dixie Dupree,” the debut novel of Benson’s Donna Everhart. The main character, 11-year-old Dixie, is an accomplished liar. Her mother’s abuse of Dixie, her father’s abuse of her mother, and her uncle’s sexual abuse of Dixie, explain why she tells lies. Dixie’s determined struggle to overcome these challenges anchors her coming of age story.

    As the book opens, Dixie’s father has suddenly gone away and her mother is about to fall over the edge. Food and money are running out. Dixie and her teenage brother are in despair. Then, out of the blue, their mother’s brother, Uncle Ray, appears just in time to rescue them. But with his help comes trouble, worse than anything the family has known. What Uncle Ray brings is a dark and disturbing but completely compelling story of sexual abuse and the devastation it can bring to the lives of families and young people.

    Hillsborough’s John Claude Bemis, a musician and former elementary school teacher, writes for young readers. He engages them with imaginative magical fantasy. His latest, “Out of Abaton: The Wooden Prince,” takes the classic puppet-turning-into-real-boy story of Pinocchio into a wild adventure. 

    Master Geppetto is a brilliant inventor on the run, being hunted down as a traitor to the emperor. Pinocchio is more than a marionette. He is an “automa,” a wooden mechanical servant that obeys, without question, the commands of its owner. Like the classic Pinocchio, this automa may be turning into a human. This book is wonderfully complicated and so very stimulating, even for this adult reader.

    Now for the politics. Some North Carolinians still talk about the 1972 election when Jesse Helms won the U.S. Senate seat he was to keep for 30 years and thereby transform North Carolina politics. 

    Others remember how that election interrupted the upward trajectory of one of North Carolina’s most promising and most interesting political figures, Nick Galifianakis. Thanks to his neighbor and retired UNC-Chapel Hill history professor John Semonche, we have a full life story of this son of Greek immigrants who made his hard-to-spell last name a North Carolina classic. Semonche’s book, “Pick Nick: The Political Odyssey of Nick Galifianakis from Immigrant Son to Congressman,” introduces modern North Carolinians to one of our state’s most interesting political figures.

  • 15FTCCIt is the aspiration of professionals and paraprofessionals in the field of Speech-Language Pathology to positively influence the most powerful tool offered to mankind, communication. In the words of the late Maya Angelou, “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.” 

    Fayetteville Technical Community College embraced this concept and established its Speech-Language Pathology Assistant program in 1997. FTCC is proud to be one of two schools in North Carolina that continues to offer this type of program. 

    A speech-language pathology assistant is a person who assists a licensed speech-language pathologist in a variety of areas, including conducting screenings, implementing therapy in the areas of receptive and expressive language, articulation, fluency, augmentative and alternative communication and oral motor skills. They also prepare materials for therapy, schedule patients for therapy and maintain files and equipment, to say the least. Students who complete the two-year competitive health program graduate with an Associate in Applied Science in Speech-Language Pathology Assisting.

    When asked what sets this program apart from other health programs, a few students shared the following comments: 

    “Our program is one that is designed to impact a person’s way of life — which is communication.”

    “We as humans rely on communication as our driving tool for conveying detailed descriptions of our innermost thoughts and emotions.” 

    “The SLPA Program works to help give those who are hampered by speech and language difficulties the chance to improve if not overcome those obstacles. It allows them the chance to gain self-confidence and stand tall when they have something to say.” 

    “The SLPA Program is well put together, and the professors genuinely care about the future of their students.” 

    “This program has made me feel very confident in my ability to emerge in the workforce upon graduation, and it has inspired me to further my educational journey, as well…” 

    “The adviser goes above and beyond to make sure you’re educationally, professionally and clinically prepared for the program and what’s to come afterward.”

    Speech-language pathology assistants are currently in high demand with career opportunities in school systems and private agencies. If you’re ready for the challenge and ready to embark on a great journey in the field of health care, we invite you to join us at FTCC. Registration is currently underway for summer classes and fall classes. FTCC not only offers a high-quality education at an affordable price, it offers opportunities to grow through leadership and community involvement with many clubs and organizations available for students. FTCC also recently completed its first year of opening up new athletics opportunities for students in the areas of basketball and golf. Your opportunities for personal growth through a great education and positive relationships are plentiful at FTCC. 

    For more information on Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Program, call (910) 678-8492 or email gaineyc@faytechcc.edu.

  • 14MothersDayStylistics1The Crown Coliseum presents a Mother’s Day Soul Jam featuring the Stylistics on Saturday, May 13 at 7 p.m. Stylistics member Airrion Love and I had a conversation about the Soul Jam, their greatest hits and new projects.

    What should the audience expect to see at this Mother’s Day Soul Jam performance? 

    We don’t feature other people’s material and our portion of the show is going to be all of our hits that people have come to love over the years.     

    What is your favorite Stylistics song?

    You know it’s funny because each year it is a different one. My favorite is “Payback Is A Dog.” It was not as big of a hit like “Betcha By Golly Wow” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” but it is a popular song. 

    What messages do you convey in your songs?

    All of our songs are about being in and out of love. The message may change depending on the song we sing. “People Make The World Go Round” is a song that was about what was going on at that particular time. Everybody that knows our music would say it relates to love. 

    When were you first inspired to do music?

    Coming up I wanted to be a singer, and I was singing at the age of six. I was part of a few groups. When I got older, I was interested in computer programming, and that is what I was gearing things for. I was working at a bank in Philadelphia in the computer department and I took a leave of absence from my job to take a chance and make music with the group, and it turned out to be a great decision. 

    Some bands and groups break up over a period of time. What is the key to keeping a musical group together and continuing to make beautiful music for decades?

    If I knew that answer, I would bottle it and sell it. One of the things that has helped us maintain our position is that we were given great material. Those songs were so good. In the 70s we were a part of what was going on along with the other 70s group. But now we have maintained it and people have loved our group through the years. 

    Are there any future projects for
    the group?  

    We have a couple of things in the fire, but it is too soon to comment on. We have a meeting next week in regards to doing some background for some people. We have a finished product that we are trying to work out a record deal for. 

    Treat mom to a pre-show dinner buffet at the Crown Theatre from 5–7 p.m. Dinner includes tossed garden salad, smothered chicken in gravy, grilled Tilapia with yellow curry sauce, red beans and rice, seasonal mixed vegetables, biscuits and cornbread, seasonal fruit cobbler, freshly brewed coffee, iced tea, water and one glass of red or white wine. The dinner is $25. 

    Ticket prices for the concert are $45, $60, $75 and $90.  For more information, visit www.capefeartix.com. 


  • 13JamTams7Fayetteville After 5 is a longstanding tradition: a time to shake off the cares of the week and enjoy a night of music in the great outdoors. This month, start Mother’s Day weekend with a free concert in Festival Park. Bring your friends, your family, your mom and spend an evening relaxing and making memories together. Come dance on the promenade and relax. Make memories, enjoy the music and enjoy an evening with the ones you love.

    The Tams kick off the Fayetteville After 5 season, which also features 120 Minutes June 9; On the Border: The Ultimate Eagles Tribute Band July 14; and country music artist Kasey Tyndall August 11.

    The Tams have been entertaining crowds since the 1960s. Their 1968 hit “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” is a fan favorite. Other hits include “You Lied to Your Daddy,” “Hey Girl,” “I’ve Been Hurt” and “It’s Better to Have Loved a Little.” The group has been named Beach Band of the Decade at the Beach Music Awards and Outstanding Black Musical Group by the Atlanta Black History Awards. The Tams were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1992.

    The season’s second concert is set for June 9. Local musicians open the show, but around 6:30 or 7 p.m., fans can look forward to music by 120 Minutes, a 90’s alternative/pop/rock tribute band. This Triangle-area band hits all the high points of the 90’s, playing music by some of the decade’s biggest acts, including Nirvana, Gin Blossoms, Third Eye Blind, Britney Spears, The Spice Girls, Veruca Salt, Pearl Jam, Weezer, TLC, Duncan Sheik, Backstreet Boys, Aqua, Faith Hill, Santana feat. Rob Thomas Spacehog, The Cranberries, Better Than Ezra and Smashing Pumpkins.

    On June 14, a local favorite,  On The Border — The Ultimate Eagles Tribute Band, takes the stage bringing all the best of the Eagles to the Sandhills. Known for their authentic Eagles sound, come take it easy with “Hotel California,” “One of These Nights,” “Seven Bridges Road,” “Witchy Woman” and “Best of My Love.” These are just a few of the tunes attendees can look forward to.

     On August 11, Kasey Tindall brings a taste of country to Fayetteville. An Eastern Carolina native, Tindall’s  songs include “Everything is Texas” and”Who I Ain’t,” which both speak to her Southern roots.

    The gates open at 5 p.m. and the music will start at either 6:30 or 7 p.m. Coming early is the best way to get a great seat and to relax a little in the park before the fun begins. Concerts last until 10:30 or 11 p.m. No outside food or beverage is allowed, but there will be food and beverages for sale. The event is presented in partnership with R.A. Jefferies. Audience members are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to relax on the grass. 

  • 12Caroline1In the musical “Caroline, or Change,” opening at Cape Fear Regional Theatre this weekend, the washing machine, dryer, radio, moon and bus are all played by people. 

    “I think that immediately (establishes) that this is not realism,” said Director Bryan Conger. “This play is all about change. I think change begins in the imaginations of people. They imagine what is beyond them or what could be … and that’s how a movement starts.” He said the idea of imagination, memory and emotion being the catalyst for concrete change informed his approach to the whole show. 

    Joy Ducree Gregory, who plays Caroline, agreed. Gregory said it’s Caroline’s memories and feelings projected onto inanimate objects that allow her as an actress to portray someone who might otherwise seem one-dimensionally sad. “I don’t think she’s emotionally available enough to tell (other people) about herself, but she is emotionally available enough to have conversations with these inanimate objects, which all sort of represent a piece of her,” added Conger.

    There are, however, other human characters in this story, like Caroline’s 8-year-old boy, her daughter who is coming into adulthood and the middle-class Jewish family she works for as a maid. Tension between Caroline and the Jewish family rises after a small amount of money goes missing. This serves as the impetus for the play’s exploration of the political through the personal, set in 1963 Louisiana. 

    Look forward to Jeanine Tesori’s visceral score played by a live orchestra that, according to CFRT’s mailer, blends blues, gospel and traditional Jewish melodies. In most musicals, spoken dialogue carries a good amount of the story with songs arriving at strategically emotional moments. Conger said this dynamic is reversed in “Caroline.” Gregory said she’s heard this score performed by other casts and she’s blown away by the talent in this production, saying Conger did a perfect job casting each role. “I don’t believe I’ve ever before been part of a show where every rehearsal I get chills just from listening to the music,” said Gregory. “This is the most challenging role, vocally, that I’ve ever (undertaken) … I’ve never had to dig so deep emotionally to sing a song.” 

    Gregory said the issues “Caroline” explores continue to resonate because they are still relevant in today’s America. “In this story, you have issues with race, issues with culture, with the disparities between those that have and those that don’t have — how those with privilege view the world and view money, versus those that don’t,” she said. “When you take that storyline and you look at where we are in 2017 … I think yes, we’ve come a long way, but … it’s clear that this is a time where we have to look at where we are. And the same conversations that will happen as a result of this play, those are the same conversations we need to be having in America.”

    CFRT invites the public to attend free pre-show conversations May 17 and 18, from 6:30-7:15 p.m. On May 17, Nick Glazier, executive director of the North Carolina Justice Center, will facilitate a conversation about poverty and economic disparity in America. On May 18, Reverend Cureton Johnson will facilitate a talk about the civil rights movement. Pre-show conversations are made possible due to CFRT’s receiving the prestigious NEA “Art Works” Grant for “Caroline, or Change.”

    “Caroline” opens for preview nights May 11-12, with official opening night Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$25 and can be purchased by visiting www.cfrt.org or calling (910) 323- 4233.


  • 11FYBudgetIt may be a first for City of Fayetteville budget writers: Of nearly $200 million in next fiscal year’s operating budget plan, there’s only a $3,000 difference between this fiscal year’s budget and the proposed FY18 plan. The property tax rate will have to be adjusted to compensate for a loss of revenue brought about by a decline in property values. City Manager Doug Hewett told Fayetteville City Council members the tax rate must be increased to 52.66 cents per hundred dollars of property valuation from 49.95 cents to achieve revenue neutrality. That means the tax for those whose property values went down because of revaluation will not go up.

    Hewett briefed Council members in small groups encouraging them to ask questions while preparing them for virtually no growth in spending in the coming fiscal year, except for a small pay raise for the city’s 1,500 employees. Hewett said police and fire pay plans would include scheduled increases. The manager is proposing small increases in environmental service and stormwater fees but no tax increase. 

    Hewett describes his plan as a hold-the-line budget brought about by the countywide decline in residential property values. Some members were disappointed that the Fayetteville Area System of Transit’s proposal to launch limited Sunday bus service is being put on hold. 

    The manager plans to realign some departments of the government. In response to questions from some Council members on tight operations, Hewett said making progress is a matter of capacity and resources. Environmental services (trash collection) plus street maintenance and stormwater management would become a division of the Engineering and Infrastructure Department. The Permitting and Inspections Department would be consolidated into the Planning and Code Enforcement Department. “The objective is to achieve improved efficiency,” said Hewett. 

    And an aging workforce is taking its toll. Senior managers and experienced professionals are approaching retirement, Hewett noted. Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer said some older workers can’t always perform some of their duties as they once could. He hopes to encourage high school graduates to study the trades at Fayetteville Technical Community College. 

    Bauer has been talking with FTCC officials about attracting young people into vocational fields such as plumbing and mechanical engineering. “These trades provide a good wage,” Bauer said. He added that permitting inspectors are needed in these areas to improve the city’s ability to meet the needs of the business community promptly.

    Hewett said he hopes to find other ways of stabilizing the city’s workforce. Turnover in the police department has been significantly reduced thanks in part to an improved pay plan. But Hewett noted that recruiting and employee retention in other departments such as environmental services, transit and information technology continue to be a challenge. Hewett could not say what the current turnover rates are. City Council and the administration will spend the next few weeks refining the FY18 budget plan, which must be adopted by July 1. 

  • 10Stadium Design ProgressFayetteville City Council is drawing ever closer to turning dirt on a Downtown minor league baseball stadium. “Aug. 19 is the tentative date for actual construction to begin,” said Baseball Stadium Committee Chairman Mitch Colvin. The committee gets another update on exhaustive design and budget work in June. Last week, the committee heard from architect Mike Sabatini of Populous, a global architecture firm hired by the city to design the $33 million stadium, which at this point is way over budget. 

    Sabatini told the committee the ballpark will be a downsized version of Spirit Communications Park in Columbia, South Carolina, which opened in 2016. Like the Columbia park, the Fayetteville stadium will serve as a 365-day-per-year multi-use sports and entertainment venue. It will be the home of Fayetteville’s Advanced Single-A minor league affiliate ofthe Houston Astros. But it’s being designed also for concerts, soccer, football and a host of other activities. It will seat up to 5,000 spectators for sporting events and thousands more for open-air concerts. The stadium itself will feature a 360-degree concourse, an exclusive 100-seat elevated grand stand, club seating in right field, unique left-center field rocking chair seating and an open-air party deck. It will also feature a grassy berm for blanket viewing in center field. 

    “We’re a bit behind and need to get back on schedule,” Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer told the committee. Barton Malow Company of Southfield, Michigan, is the general contractor. It’s a respected firm that provides construction services throughout North America. “We need to move to the next level of design,” said Barton Malow’s Roslyn Henderson. 

    She said that will include reducing an early construction estimate of $39 million. “A close scrutiny of options pulled $5 million out, leaving $34.7 million,” she told the committee.
    “We feel confident as a team that we’ll get to the $33 million budget.” 

    When asked by Mayor Nat Robertson why the local stadium will cost more than the larger Columbia ballpark, Henderson said, “It’s only 20 percent smaller and we’re at the tail end of a down economy heading into a booming economy.”

    It’s been a year now since the city began what then had been a three-year research project headed initially by former Deputy City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney. With Small-Toney’s departure last fall, Bauer has taken the reins. He called last week’s update a “feedback stage in the process.” 

    Council learned the final design and budget data should take eight to 10 weeks. Because members of Council and city administrators will be on vacation in July, the stadium committee agreed to meet again on June 19 for another update. 

    Committee member Kirk deViere suggested the group had gotten to the point that the full Council should be engaged from now on. Colvin and Robertson said the smaller working group has made rapid progress possible, and that other Council members are welcome to attend the meetings.

  • 09NewsDigestPlans for New Fayetteville Harris Teeter Store Suspended

    Up & Coming Weekly has learned Harris Teeter will not be opening a third Cumberland County grocery store, at least not now. The planned 78,000-square-foot super-sized grocery was to have been built on an undeveloped tract on Ramsey Street between Shawcroft Road and Kings Creek Drive. 

    “Harris Teeter quarterly reports were down and they decided not to go through with the project,” said City Councilwoman Kathy Jensen, who represents North Fayetteville. Just last week, the grocery chain opened a new store in suburban Baltimore, MD. 

    Harris Teeter of Matthews, NC, has over 230 stores in seven states and the District of Columbia. It operates a store on Raeford Road and another in Hope Mills. “I am disappointed but not surprised that between city and state building codes the Harris Teeter project wouldn’t work,” said Mayor Nat Robertson. Company officials did not respond to Up & Coming Weekly’s inquiry.

    Bridge or Culvert for Shawcroft Road?

    In a week or so, the City of Fayetteville will decide whether to permanently repair Shawcroft Road in Kings Grant with a new culvert or a bridge. It will depend on the findings of a new study by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. The roadway gave way during Hurricane Matthew six months ago and crushed a culvert that carried a stream beneath the roadway. A temporary fix has re-opened the road and the City hopes to make permanent repairs starting next month. 

    “The problem is twofold,” said City Infrastructure Director Rob Stone. A dam that created the lake is considered high hazard by DEQ. And, owners of Kings Grant Golf Course claim a new culvert would create a “pinch point” in the stream that would restrict water flow to the lake, which is its source of course irrigation. Thus, they favor a bridge over the Shawcroft Road stream.

    Fayetteville Ranks High for Business Startups

    Fayetteville is among the top cities in North Carolina to start a business, reports WalletHub.com. Fayetteville was the only Tar Heel city to lead in a statistical category, sharing the top spot for longest average workweek. The big North Carolina winner is Charlotte, which ranks No. 3 in the nation. Durham and Raleigh were also among the best big cities for business. They ranked 14 and 16 respectively. WalletHub’s report was issued this month. Winston-Salem ranked 17, Fayetteville 36 and Greensboro 56. “WalletHub’s analysts compared startup opportunities that exist in the 150 most populated U.S. cities,” the authors explained. Ranking highest in the country is Oklahoma City followed by Salt Lake City. Cities were evaluated on a variety of economic statistics, government data and weighting by WalletHub’s own evaluation team. 

    Sports Emphasized in Fayetteville

    The city needs at least 50 acres for its planned multipurpose athletic complex approved by voters as part of last year’s successful recreation bond referendum. City Council has authorized the administration to negotiate a possible $4 million purchase price for 65 acres in the military business park off Sante Fe Drive and Bragg Boulevard. 

    No money for land acquisition was included in the bond issue. Fifteen sports fields are planned for the complex with construction slated to begin in 2020. The business park is the preferred choice of the Council’s Parks Bond Committee. “The sports travel industry is a $9 billion business,” said Councilman Jim Arp. “This site is a crown jewel,” he added. City Council is not impressed with parcels off Fields Road in East Fayetteville or the Shaw Heights area near Fort Bragg. 

    Fort Bragg Officer Killed in Iraq

    An infantry platoon leader with Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division is one of the latest casualties in the global war on terrorism. First Lt. Weston Lee, 25, was killed by an improvised explosive device outside  Mosul, Iraq, military officials said. Lee, of Bluffton, Georgia, was assigned to 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. 

    He joined the Army two years ago and deployed to Iraq in December 2016, officials said. In a Facebook post, Col. Pat Work, commander of the 2nd Brigade, praised Lee as “exactly the type of leader that our paratroopers deserve.” He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal, the Army said. Lee’s death marks the sixth combat fatality in Iraq since the United States launched military operations against ISIS in August 2014. There are more U.S. forces in Iraq now than at any time since the 2011 U.S. withdrawal, as Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition work to push ISIS out of Mosul.

    Drunk Driving Continues to Decline Locally

    Once again, a local “Driving While Impaired” checkpoint resulted in arrests of far fewer drunk drivers than might have been expected. Of 49 citations issued at the checkpoint along Hoke Loop Road in western Fayetteville, only five motorists were cited for driving while intoxicated. 

    The results of a DWI roadblock several months ago yielded similar results. A police news release stated that “the goal of the checkpoint is to … reduce the number of impaired drivers on the roadway.” 

    The campaign entitled “Be Smarter Than That” promotes easy access to safe transportation options for people who plan to drink alcoholic beverages. It proposes using designated drivers, downloading ride apps like Uber and using public transportation options like taxis. A Fayetteville Police report of roadblock outcomes cited 19 drivers with revoked or no driver’s licenses, nine registration violations, five DWI arrests and two each of misdemeanor drug violations, seat belt violations and inspection violations. Police said nine other varied citations were given out.

  • 08SankofajbugThe Sandhills Family Heritage Association started as a personal quest. The founder, Ammie Jenkins, was interested in her own family’s story. She researched how her family progressed from slavery to landownership. As part of her discovery process she interviewed many community elders, and they shared their stories and experiences with her. Through these interviews, Jenkins uncovered incredible themes of strength and resilience as well as critical community issues. 

    This inspired her to create the SFHA to address social, economic, environmental and cultural issues that negatively impact rural communities. The programs promote ideas like self-sufficiency, land ownership, preserving cultural heritage and education — all while uniting the African-American community members in the Sandhills region. In that spirit, each year SFHA hosts the Sandhills Sankofa Festival. This year, the festival is set for May 20.

     Sankofa means “go back and get that which we have lost or forgotten.” The festival is sponsored by both the SFHA and the Spring Lake Recreation Department. Since its founding in 2002, the festival has provided a space annually for the celebration and appreciation of rural African-American culture and heritage.
    This is a family-friendly event that features performing arts, educational exhibits, food and entertainment. 

     The live entertainment at the festival represents the diversity and immense creativity within African-American culture. The headline act is Johnny White and The Elite Band. The group has performed all over the United States and is widely recognized for their powerful vocals and soulful performances. 

    Puncho, an artist who specializes in blues, will also perform during the festival. The group Shea-Ra Nichi will perform a powerful and educational rendition of African dance and drumming. Mitch Capel will also make an appearance as Gran’ Daddy Junebug, demonstrating the captivating art of storytelling. 

     In addition to live performances, there will be artists who work in many different forms of media that represent different aspects of African-American culture throughout history. There will be demonstrations of African dancing, drumming, storytelling, fabric art, culinary arts and visual arts. There will also be a variety of vendors, many of which are local small businesses and organizations. This festival is an opportunity to experience, appreciate and share African-American culture in the Sandhills. 

    There are several other SFHA programs that are active year-round. They fall under five categories that create the acronym HOPE: history and heritage preservation; outreach and community education; protection of land and natural services; and economic development. 

    Within each category there are several specific ways in which SFHA touches the community. Examples are oral history interviews, the Sandhills Farmers Market accepting EBT Food Stamps, information about sustainable farming practices and vending opportunities at the farmer’s market. These are just a few examples of how SFHA is working to directly touch the lives of African-American community members. These resources and connections improve the immediate quality of life and future for recipients. Furthermore, when individuals succeed, the entire community grows and benefits. 

    Admission to the Sankofa Festival is free. It takes place May 20 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. It will be held at the Edward Mendoza Municipal Park, which is located at 1770 Little River Rd., in Spring Lake. 

    For more information, visit: http://sandhillsfamilyheritage.weebly.com/sankofa-festival.html. 

  • 07TaxesOkay folks, open your wallets. Local government is about to get a little more expensive this year.

    County Manager Amy Canon last week gave her elected board dire news: The County is $27 million in the hole. And, finding money to shave that deficit doesn’t look promising. Here’s why.

    First, the property revaluation didn’t produce the money County bureaucrats hoped for. In fact, property values took a nose dive since the last revaluation in 2009. I say most because I’m one of the few whose property actually went up a couple of grand.

    Lower property values means less property tax for county coffers. The County will have to up the tax rate by about four and a half cents to break even. They call that revenue neutral. That means the current county tax rate of 74 cents per $100 valuation could jump to 78.4 cents per $100 valuation. It’s been at 74 cents for the past five years.

    There’s also talk of another 3.9 cents on top of the 4.4-cent increase to get the County past the break-even point. The extra 3.9 cents would pay for a pay raise and health care insurance increases, repair county-owned buildings and keep jailed inmates healthy.

    Let’s do the math. Your property tax on a $100,000 home will jump from $740 to $823, an $83 hike.
    If you have anything above a starter home, the chances of having a $100,000 house now-a-days is slim. So, if you have a $200,000 house, your bill comes to $1,646. Then there are the cars, motorcycles, boats and the trailers to haul the toys. Each with its own tax-assessed price tag. 

    The Fayetteville City Council at this writing hasn’t reviewed its budget proposal. But remember, with property values down and a lot on their fiscal plate, the City Council also needs money to get out of the hole.  

    The County is in a bind. The North Carolina General Assembly created Cumberland County. And it’s that body of lawmakers who through the years compiled a list of what counties have to do to be counties. Among those duties is to pay for programs the state deems necessary. Counties struggling to pay for those programs call them unfunded mandates.

    The list includes: sheriff’s departments and jails, medical examiners, courts, building code enforcement, public schools, social services, mental health, public health, board of elections, tax offices, child support and money for keeping FTCC buildings and facilities maintained.

    Canon’s proposed options are to cut back on services the County is not required to provide. As usual, closing a popular service like the library is among them. So is not filling unfilled jobs and eliminating real people from the payroll. Also, in this country we treat animals as disposable items, so cutting services at the animal shelter makes sense.

    And while Fayetteville — the sixth largest city in the state —  is the shopping mecca of southeast North Carolina, the resulting sales tax yield is meager compared to the other cities.

    Finally, the City of Fayetteville wants to renegotiate its agreement with the County on how they share sales tax proceeds. Currently, the city returns a part of the sales tax the County lost when Fayetteville annexed 42,000 people into the city back in 2005.

    According to Mayor Nat Robertson, the payback deal last year cost the city about $7 million.  The mayor wants to keep more of it. He wants a reset of the agreed-upon formula.

    Folks, the money pie is getting smaller. Our city and county-elected leaders will be competing for more of what they believe is their fair share. They may even want to make the pie bigger by having you pay for it.

    More than ever, we need city and county-elected officials get out of their silos. We need them to cooperate for the benefit of all citizens.

  • 06hog1Publisher’s Note: After reading Ms. Valentine’s editorial submission recently published in the Fayetteville Observer (Sunday, May 7), we invited her to again opine on this very important and relevant issue. – Bill Bowman

    Hurricane Matthew’s flooding exposed a sordid fact that we’ve denied for years. Hog lagoons are still intimately entwined with the Cape Fear River, and our once-pristine river (once cleanest in the state) is now on the endangered list. Ironically, the answer may be a case of “back to the future.”

    We’ve been looking for a solution to hog lagoons for nearly 17 years. It is obvious that lawsuits, hog farm buyouts and further state regulations are not the solution. So, what is?

    In North Carolina, hog production is big business — to the tune of $1 billion. That’s a lot of influence, and it should not be underestimated. It is rumored that nearly 80 percent of the General Assembly receives political contributions from the pork industry. To be fair, the industry is doing its share to resolve the issue, having invested in research. It is also working to resolve the environmental issues company-owned and contract producers’ open air lagoons create.

    In 2000, then-Attorney General Easley made a deal with Smithfield Foods. The result was a $65 million grant from the company that would be used to develop new technologies to deal with hog waste. 

    N. C. State received $15 million with the understanding that the university would develop technologies that were less expensive than the current lagoon system and that Smithfield’s company-owned farms would begin using the technologies once they were fully developed.

    One such innovation was a belt system that would separate solids and handle waste more easily. It also reduced odors. Another included an earthen digester to produce biogas. The projects came close to the cost criteria but were still pricier than the lagoon systems, so the projects did not go forward. 

    In the meantime, a 10-year moratorium on building new hog farms gave Smithfield the opportunity to sell off company-owned farms. Now the company didn’t have to honor its commitment or endure the added expenses of installing any new technologies.

    That left $50 million in grant money. The funds were supposed to be administered by the Attorney General’s office over a 25-year period. The monies were meant to be used as grants for projects that leveraged environmental improvements. The grants were to be competitive and would be for $1-2 million annually. The Attorney General would award them at his discretion.

    Projects awarded under this program in 2016 for grant year 2017 by then-Attorney General Cooper included: $150,000 to the Nature Conservancy to buy 300 acres along the Black River; $425,000 to the N.C. Land Trust to buy 3,000 acres on the Waccamaw River; $37,000 to N.C. State to develop a fact sheet for farmers to reduce pollution along Millstone Creek and the Cape Fear River; and $250,000 to Ducks Unlimited to replace water control structures, remove debris and install pumps on the Pasquotauk and Tar-Pamlico River Basins.

    These projects are worthy environmentally, but they don’t help family-owned hog farms in their efforts to find cost-efficient lagoon alternatives. They also don’t reduce odors coming from the barns, spray fields and lagoons.

    Let’s stop pointing fingers. Let’s work together and support funding for collaborative partnerships that zero in on the core issue — solving the lagoon problem. The good news is that there are several people and organizations working on this problem, including entrepreneurial farmers, small agricultural businesses, universities (including Fayetteville State University) and nonprofits like Cape Fear River Assembly and River Watchers. Smithfield is working on the issue, too.The bad news is that none of them are working together. They are operating independently of one another.

    Several of the technologies N.C. State worked on for well over a decade came close to meeting the environmental criteria. They could potentially meet the cost standards, too. Unfortunately, many of these technologies have been shelved or are being worked on in isolation, negating their potential.

    We are running out of time. As the hog industry, much of which is Chinese-owned, relocates to drier climates out west, North Carolina family farmers are left wondering what the future holds for an industry that relies on hog lagoons located in flood plains.

    Meanwhile, nonfarmers continue to dread the heavy rains that fill our sewers with sludge and bring flies and odors that send residents indoors.

  • 05CapeFearRiverBasinThe Cape Fear River is the natural central feature of this area. It is a major source of recreation and part of a huge number of identifying  names of businesses and organizations. It is an essential source of water for a major part of North Carolina called the Cape Fear River basin (including Fayetteville), and it should be essential in the development of the economy of the area as it was in the past. The Cape Fear River has recently been put on the list of endangered rivers!

    There are numerous Cape Fear River associations and organizations, including the Cape Fear River Assembly, on whose board I serve, that are focused on the river or parts (upper, middle lower) of it. Other examples of organizations include the Cape Fear River partnership, the N.C. Wildlife Association and the River Keepers Alliance, to name only a few.

    The CFRA is the largest and most comprehensive association and at one time had about $6 million in research funds and a membership of over 200 communities along the Cape Fear in addition to being the protector of all of the Cape Fear River sub basins. 

    Lack of leadership and political banter led to waning interest in the river and the water itself. The CFRA’s intent is to serve all three of the Cape Fear regions, and it is in the process of being reinvigorated. 

    Changes in water quality should get everyone’s attention because we face global concerns about water quantity and quality. The Cape Fear is not immune. We saw a net “interbasin transfer” (aka, loss) of water from the Cape Fear basin to the Neuse basin several years ago to support the growth of Wake County, and there is another (hopefully failed) attempt underway to take more. 

    Growth and development in the Cape Fear basin are resulting in more water being extracted for that use, with less than all of it returned after treatment. But because of increased total use, more nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potentially toxic materials are also added back to the river. Discharge is currently regulated by nutrient concentration, not total quantity, as it should be, but this is gradually being changed. Until those changes are implemented, downstream the concentration of nutrients in the water will increase, and water quality will decrease.

    It is common to finger-point at specific “residents” of the river basin such as agriculture, or other industries, as culprits. But the fact is, everyone is part of the problem and therefore must be part of the solution. 

    Agriculture is the most common target as a source of water pollution. The agricultural industries have added many regulations and practice changes to help reduce impacts. Reports following Hurricane Matthew are the most recent cases, citing a small number of animal waste lagoons that overflowed. However, numerous waste treatment facilities in municipalities discharged far more sewage.

    The Cape Fear River basin has an impressive number of water quality monitoring stations, and the data from them are readily available. The question is: How do we maintain quality in a river that is not going to get “bigger” (but will probably get smaller) and with more demand for water to support growth and development? Greater treatment costs mean higher water bills, and unfortunately, not all of the contaminants that can end up in water are easily or even possibly removed. So solutions include elimination of contaminants at their source.

    It is important that we all take the value and privilege of both quantity and quality of water seriously in every aspect of our lives. It should never drop off the radar. Without adequate and safe water, we cannot survive.

    In some parts of the world, access to adequate safe water is a cause for war. Let’s not make that the case in North Carolina.

  • 04Kim Jong UnJust when you think things can’t get any more fun around the White House, The Donald invites Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to visit the Oval Office to chew the fat and the curtains.  

    President Rod is famous for killing his own citizens in his war on drugs. Rod promised to pardon himself and his police officers for murdering anyone accused or suspected of using or selling drugs. Nice guy, Rod.  

    Continuing his charm offensive with the world’s dictators, The Donald just called North Korea’s Kook for Life, Kim Jong-un, a smart cookie and allowed that he would be honored to meet Kim. Kim is famous for his creative ways of killing people, particularly relatives who might pose a threat to his reign. 

    Kim has terminated his uncle and a passel of high ranking North Korean military officials with an anti-aircraft gun. Like Munchkins and the Wicked Witch of the East, Kim wants his enemies undeniably and reliably dead, not only merely dead, but really, most sincerely dead. Better put plastic on all the White House furniture when Kim comes for dinner.  Blood stains are really hard to get out of
    antique furniture.

     The Donald has been delivering more than his usual number of odd statements recently. He is causing concern that the elevator in the White House no longer goes all the way to the top floor.  Some people are sayin’ instead of draining the DC swamp, The Donald is working on a financial  plan prepared by his Wall Street buddies to make the United States a wholly owned joint venture subsidiary of Goldman Sachs and Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company. Rumors that the new name of the United States will be Putonia
    remain unfounded.

    The bloom seems to be going off the rose with The Donald’s bromance with Vlad Putin. It’s sad to see a good love die. Putin may want his election support back. The Donald has turned his back on his American supporters, so it should not come as any great surprise he would turn his back on his Russian sugar daddy. 

    In the latest edition of As the White House Turns,  The Donald seems to believe he is channeling former President Andrew Jackson.  According to Henry Kissinger,  Richard Nixon in his last days in the White House wandered the halls talking to the pictures of former Presidents. 

    No word yet on whether The Donald is talking to the portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office.  One can only hope that Old Hickory will give The Donald some good advice when that conversation starts.

    The Donald recently stated that our first psychic president, Andrew Jackson, was angry about the Civil War even though Andy was pushing up daisies 16 years before the war started. Quote The Donald: “He was really angry that — he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, ‘There is no reason for this.’” The Donald went on to ask, “Why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

    Excellent question, sir. The job of the President is to inspire the country to ask questions that should be asked even if the questions display a touch of early onset age-related confusion. In a failed attempt to find humor in this particular jugular vein, I am inspired to ask more questions that The Donald may pose along the road to the Apocalypse.

    Perhaps a special Presidential Commission on Unasked Questions can be appointed to consider these issues:  Why isn’t down up?  Why isn’t Red Dye Number 2 a vegetable? Why aren’t worms space stations? 

    Why aren’t tornados goldfish? Why isn’t diabetes a European country? Who put the bop in the bop she bop she bop? Why aren’t trees clocks? Why isn’t wet dry? Why aren’t rocks made of sponge cake? Why isn’t the truth lies? Why aren’t alternative facts an Olympic sport? Why isn’t left right? Why do fools fall in love?  What happened to my missing sock? Why are cats psychotic? Why did Hillary think she could get away with a private email server? Why would anyone put anchovies on a perfectly good pizza? 

    Who would think running with the bulls in Pamplona is a good idea? Why are starfish in the ocean instead of the sky? Why aren’t dogs cats? Who let the dogs out? Why don’t we do it in the road? Why don’t we order up a bowl of chili? Who killed the Mocking Bird? What made Gatsby so great? Why did Atlas shrug? Would Welbutrin have helped Les Miserables? 

    As our last question for the Presidential Commission: For whom is the bell tolling?  

  • 03LetterToYoungerDear Margaret, the Younger,

    For the last year or so, I have been working on a family project to preserve photographs and documents for our Precious Jewels, and I have found a number of photos of you, triggering memories both wonderful and sad. I have also realized how much I know today that my younger self would take decades to absorb.

    So, in no particular order, here is some of what I wish I had known when I was your age.

    Worry less about what others think about you and any other subject. What really counts is what you think about you and the world around you.  

    Learn to trust yourself and your instincts. You will make mistakes, but you will also learn from them and not repeat them.

    Many young women spend their youths looking for Prince Charming, who may or may not show up and who is almost certainly different people at different stages of your life.  No need to expect him to pop up around every corner.  You will likely find each other when the time is right.

    In the meantime, enjoy your life.  Meet new people, not all of whom will like you — or you, them — but as my mother told me, you can learn something from everyone you meet who knows something you do not. 

    Prepare yourself for the rest of your life through a solid education and experiences that challenge you, but understand that no matter how much you prepare, life probably will not turn out the way you expect.

    Travel. Go as many places as you can because once career and family take over, travel pretty much flies out the window for decades. International travel changes your worldview, but travelling to other cities and states broadens your outlook and is fun. Heck, a day trip to the North Carolina Zoo is a terrific change of scenery.

    Understand that as life unfolds, you will experience great joys and losses that bring you to your knees.  Everyone goes through this, though some have harder and longer travails than others. You will be wiser and stronger from all your experiences.

    Dream big. You can be the first woman U.S. president, but chances are you will not, and
    that is okay. 

    Don’t worry overly about your appearance. Clean and healthy go a long way, more than makeup and the latest trendy outfit. Paraphrasing Jill Conner Browne, author of the “Sweet Potato Queen” books, pretty and handsome do not last. Stupid does. Fortunately, so does smart.

    Let go of anger and resentment as soon as you can. We all have these emotions, some deeply held, but they hurt only us, not those who we believe have done us wrong.  Allowing these emotions to rule us means that someone else, not us, is in charge. Kiss negative emotions goodbye and get on with your life.

    Likewise, don’t sweat the small stuff. Surly store clerks. Traffic jams. People who let you down. Telephone solicitations. The list is endless and not worth your time and attention.

    Beware of people who say they are often bored. Chances are that is because they are boring themselves.

    Cherish your family — parents and siblings and those beyond the immediate family circle.  These are the people who know you best and love you most and are most invested in your happiness and success. They can make you more joyful and angry than almost anyone else, but they will not always be here. Some will go much earlier than you think. Whatever your differences, your hurts, your sadnesses, you will ultimately be thankful if you nurture your
    family relationships.

    On that note, though, the only person who will walk every step of life with you is you. Learn to love yourself and enjoy your own company. Treat each moment and each day as if it were precious, because it is. None of us ever know when, where or how our end will come. Fret not, but treasure each day as if it were your last. 

    So go forth bravely and with a smile to meet whatever comes your way.  It is the only way to go.

    Much love and with fingers crossed,

    Margaret, the Elder

  • 02PubPenNo doubt many people think fresh, clean water comes from turning on a faucet or that electricity comes from flipping a wall switch. Ah, ignorance is bliss.

    Well, last week I had the privilege of joining over 30 local business and community leaders for an up-close and personal view of the internal operations of Fayetteville’s Hometown Utility, PWC. It was impressive. Pride, efficiency, proficiency and dependability were characteristics that permeated throughout the entire organization of 600 plus employees. Everyone, without exception, left the PWC campus that day with a newfound appreciation for a well-lit room and a clean, refreshing and uncontaminated glass of water.

    This edition of Up & Coming Weekly is dedicated to starting a conversation about clean water and the need to protect and preserve our natural resources — the Cape Fear River in particular — and the environmental issues connected and related to preserving and protecting it. 

    Read and heed the articles that make up this week’s cover. They are written by three knowledgeable and passionate members of our community: Dr. Leonard Bull, Sharon Valentine and State Representative Billy Richardson. All share their concerns, insights and visions on what could very well be the next generation’s most critical challenge in North Carolina: the availability of clean and healthy water. Protecting and preserving our rivers, streams and other natural resources needs to be given the highest priority.

    Our local utility, PWC, is doing its part with award-winning processes and talent and leadership that have been recognized locally, statewide and nationally. Providing clean water and making it affordable is a priority for PWC. Being good and conscientious stewards of ratepayers’ money is also a
    high priority. 

    Matter of fact, we enjoy local residential water rates lower than Orange, Hoke and Harnett counties. We even have lower rates than Raleigh and Cary, the two cities currently trying to take our water via interbasin transfers. This begs the question: Who manages their resources more effectively? The same thing holds true with electricity. Even with PWC purchasing electrical power from Duke Power, our local residential PWC rates are lower than those of South River and Lumbee River.

    Here’s the take away this week: Natural resources are just that, “natural resources.” We can’t make more of them, and we can’t replace them, making it all the more crucial that we care for and manage them well. As such, they must be respected, appreciated and preserved. 

    It cannot be all about money, politics and power. Ask the thousands of poisoned residents of Flint, Michigan, who went months without access to clean water. Or, commercial fishermen on our eastern shores. This issue is not going away. However, we will be the ones that determine its degree of severity. We should all drink to that!

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 01COVER“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.” – Teddy Roosevelt

    The Problem

    North Carolina has the fourth largest estuarine system in the world. Consider the possibilities that such a system offers a nation, much less a state; it boggles the mind. North Carolina has a system perfect for economic growth made simple: it should host clean jobs and economic overlay districts that act as economic and recreational paradises. 

    But something is amiss. The inshore fishing is off. Sportsmen who should be in North Carolina are flocking to Louisiana, Florida and Virginia — not North Carolina.

    There are other downward trends exacerbating this problem. Wake County is witnessing unparalleled growth. Apparently, the pressure is so great in Wake County to find water that the main solution to their crisis is with interbasin transfers. They take our water, use it and place it back into the Neuse River, never even putting it back where they got it. With lax policies on water, we now claim two of the top seven most-polluted rivers in America.

    North Carolina has become a state that is first in things we should be last in, and last in things we should be first in. Nowhere is this more evident than in the status of our estuarine system. Here are a few significant examples to consider:

    • North Carolina has two rivers in its Coastal Plain region that rank in the top seven worst polluted rivers of our country: The Cape Fear and
    the Neuse.

    • From Maine to Texas, we are the only state that allows unrestricted gill netting and shrimp trawling in our rivers and sounds; this devastates weed beds and oyster beds. For every pound of shrimp caught, these practices kill five pounds of juvenile fish.

    • Wake County adds 73 residents daily, which places enormous pressure on the state’s water capacity. Interbasin transfers are taking our water from The Cape Fear River and putting it into the Neuse River.

    • We have lost 90 percent of our oysters in
    Pamlico Sound.

    • The Marine Fisheries Commission is so inept that when it does attempt to protect weed beds and oyster restorations, the commercial industry simply waits until dark, goes into the area, removes the buoys and then trawls into the area until there is nothing left but sand.

    • We have 15 saltwater fish species that are so reduced, we cannot count them adequately.

    • In three rivers — the Neuse, Tar and Cape Fear, we have less than 5 percent wild, native-DNA striped
    bass left.

    • We refused to support and promote a $2 billion industry at the expense of a $400 million industry that takes more resources than it adds.

    •  In a 40-mile radius, we produce and place the second largest hog and third largest poultry wet animal waste deposits into shallow lagoons and the state’s shallow water table. This procedure
    concentrates pathogens, waste bacteria and antibiotics — all of which promote algae blooms in our rivers.

    The 2,000 Pound Elephant in the Room Is Fort Bragg’s Future

    Here’s a sobering thought: The sixth largest employer in our state could very well leave North Carolina, not because of space or lack of friendly effort from our city, county and business community. Rather, it could leave because of ignorance on our part that we have assumed our water is unlimited. It is not.

    Our General Assembly chooses not to use scientific data when measuring the health of our water, but the U.S. Army will. Campbell University’s School of Medicine, when working at the Cape Fear Valley Regional Medical Center as a residency program, will. Businesses coming in for clinical trials will. Simply put, we could easily bankrupt our future.

    Imagine in 10-15 years a Fayetteville without Fort Bragg. Imagine Fayetteville without Goodyear or the Campbell University residency program. Imagine Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Bladen, Columbus, Pender and New Hanover counties without sufficient water sources to fish in, much less drink from. It is, in fact, a possibility. The facts are the facts; equally so is the truth. The truth is that we can turn these problems around. Our problems are mostly man-made and therefore can be solved by man.


    We must cap interbasin transfers by negotiating if possible. If it persists, we should head downstream on the Neuse River, place large pumps just below where our water is released and pump it back in the Cape Fear River basin.

    Secondly, we need to clean and replace the water we use and do so properly and promptly.
    Thirdly, we must engage proactively and adopt long-range plans for our use of water for growth, quality of life, recreational purposes and the future. 

    Finally, we can at last have full use of our river by adopting a complete overlay plan for common-sense development so our citizens can both enjoy and economically benefit from our beautiful river and estuary system. We have the overlay, but we get in our own way by allowing personal relationships to interfere with the overall good of our community development. Hence, we are still without our river overlay, causing development to sit idle, all for
    a junkyard.

    If we intend to pollute, then let’s do so honestly. But let’s honestly plan and use our water to its fullest. Eastern North Carolina has, over the last 25 years, endured water policies centered on the refusal to change and fix our state’s water.

    The Marine Fisheries Commissions is the laughing stock of the nation’s enforcement arm for saltwater fisheries. Two simple concepts should govern policy. We are presently operating at over 60 percent use of our water. Unintelligent use and pollution only hasten full capacity. Because of this, we must revisit all water pollution.

    Finally, we must align ourselves with friends of water. Ducks Unlimited, Sierra Club, commercial and sports fishermen, N.C. Riverkeepers, Waterkeepers Carolina and other cities and counties downstream must unite. Those groups have bipartisan support and represent large numbers of people connected to our estuarine system.

    Our job is to insist Raleigh put the water it takes from our basin back into the Cape Fear basin after they have fully treated it. A fact staring our water in the face is that in five years, Raleigh-Charlotte will be larger in population than the rest of the state combined. Can you imagine the pressure that Raleigh’s growth will put on our water in such numbers? Simultaneously, we must cure pollution, develop long-range planning, encourage conservation easements and restore our depleted shellfish, fish and weed beds.


    Dohn Broadwell, a former developer, outdoor enthusiast and friend, lived a life that exemplifies our solution. He spoke out, in his own way. He was an example of responsible growth. He used the water but cared for it. He enjoyed our estuary system to its fullest, hunting, fishing, canoeing and watching the sun rise over Pamlico Sound — just in awe of nature and just enjoying the outdoors. He left our estuary system better than he found it. 

    He was active in Ducks Unlimited, left extensive conservation easements and advocated for the environment’s health. He invested not just in water; he invested in the future of our youngsters.

    It is said that wise men plant trees under whose shade they will never sit. I think now wise men and women must preserve water — water they will never drink or play in. But one day, a fellow North Carolinian will. Because of our effort, that North Carolinian will be a much better person and live a much healthier, happier life.

  • 21Scholar1TaylorTaylor Clark

    Seventy-First • Softball • Freshman

    While playing for the Falcon softball team, Clark has maintained a grade point average of 4.125.











    21Scholar2TabithaTabitha Herring

    Gray’s Creek • Cross country • Senior

    Herring, who ran cross country for the Bears last fall, maintained a grade point average of 4.7.

  • Beginning with this issue, we are expanding our weekly High School Highlights coverage. We are dropping the weekly high school schedules, which were subject to unpredictable changes beyond control of the schools. In their place, we are adding either a third story or a Prep Notebook weekly by sports editor Earl Vaughan Jr. We hope you enjoy the change. 

    20Bill SochovkaBill Sochovka, the dean of high school football coaches in Cumberland County, has been chosen to receive the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s Homer Thompson Memorial Eight Who Make A Difference Award.

    The award is presented annually to one person in each of the NCHSAA’s eight regions and will be presented to Sochovka at this year’s NCHSAA annual meeting at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill on Thursday. Sochovka is the winner for Region 4.

    The award is presented in memory of longtime Winston-Salem Parkland Athletic Director Homer Thompson, who was known for his years of service as well as being a class administrator who promoted good sportsmanship.

    Sochovka believes the award reflects not only his work at Pine Forest, but the attitude of his assistant coaches and other head coaches at the school.

    “We all try to do what’s best for kids, not just in athletics,’’ he said. “You can go to school if you have good grades and do the right thing, and you can use athletics to get you there.’’

    Sochovka also praised his wife, Sheila, for her role in working with the football players at Pine Forest. “She has been the team mom,’’ he said.

    •  I was glad to hear the recent announcement by the NCHSAA that Duke University will return to the rotation of schools hosting the state football championships this fall. Duke dropped out of hosting over a decade ago because the community in Durham didn’t support it well and fans and teams often complained about the ancient facilities at Wallace Wade Stadium.

    But things have changed at Duke under football coach David Cutcliffe. The stadium underwent a major renovation and a new group, the Triangle Sports Commission, has stepped in and offered to help with sponsorship and making the championships work there.

    This will relieve a major burden for the NCHSAA of dividing eight title games through only three sites. With a fourth site available, they can schedule two games at each venue. This will allow for later starting times at all four locations and also more time between games so schools and their fans won’t have to be rushed out to allow a new group to come in.

    Here’s to hoping the new Duke experience will work and make the championships be what the NCHSAA has long advertised, a memory forever.

  • 19Nick GalbanDr. Christopher Dague, baseball coach and advanced placement history teacher at Jack Britt High School, remembers Nick Galban as a hard-working student-athlete with a big heart.

    “I always felt like no matter what Nick was doing he was going to exceed expectations in terms of work, effort and attitude,’’ Dague said. 

    But Dague had no idea one of Galban’s first altruistic efforts would be to offer a hand to his former teacher and baseball coach. Galban, who studied engineering at N.C. State and is about to begin an internship at a firm in Wilmington, has created a GoFundMe page to help Dague and others.

    Called the Dana and Dague Fund, it’s designed to raise money for 23 people in Fayetteville and Cumberland County that Galban hopes to help with educational expenses. His goal is to raise $10,200 by the start of school this fall and then distribute it to the people on his list.

    The fund is named for Galban’s mother and Dague. He chose to honor his mom because of her role as a single parent raising Galban and his siblings. 

    Galban said he picked Dague because he was the kind of teacher who stayed on top of his students. “He was always making sure you were doing the right thing, even when no one was looking,’’ Galban said. “He stressed that was the time you needed to be doing it right. He never gave up on me.’’

    Dague said Galban was among a handful of players at Britt who played for him when he was both junior varsity and varsity baseball coach at the school. “He was a great kid who worked hard,’’ Dague said.

    Galban’s decision to give back to education came as no surprise to Dague. “He sees the value of education,’’ Dague said. “It’s a cool thing to see a student who is reflective on his own life at that young an age.’’

    Dague said any donation is appreciated by teachers these days. “Teachers are always being creative in trying to find new ways to engage students,’’ he said. “That takes money.’’

    In addition to the money, Galban said he’s working with the Middle Creek High School girls’ soccer team to add an additional donation to the package. The soccer team has taken on Galban’s cause and will be collecting various school supplies and packing them in gift bags to give to a group of 13 students he’s identified to benefit from his charity.

    “It’s selfless of them to contribute because they won’t reap the benefits,’’ he said.

    If you’d like to donate to Galban’s GoFundMe project, the web address is www.gofundme.com/the-dana-dague-fund.

  • 18Brian RandolphThere’s something old in Brian Randolph’s world these days, but everything else is definitely something new.

    The old part is Randolph is back at Jack Britt High School as a teacher and coach, but not like he used to be. Instead of a football assistant, he’s head of the program for the Buccaneers.

    He also finds himself in the unenviable role of trying to rebound from the school’s worst record ever and only the second losing record since Britt opened its doors in 2000, a mark of 3-8 that included failing to qualify for the state 4-AA playoffs.

    Add to that the challenge of joining Cumberland County rival Seventy-First and moving into the newly-named Sandhills Athletic Conference with traditional powers Scotland, Richmond Senior and Pinecrest, and you can see Randolph has a full plate.

    But he’s borrowing from the lessons learned from his high school coach, Douglas Byrd’s multiple hall of famer Bob Paroli. 

    “One of the big things he preached was focusing on the details and being tough,’’ Randolph said. “The game is won in the trenches. If you make practice harder than the games, the games will be easy.’’ 

    Outgoing Jack Britt coach Brian Rimpf had to declare in December whether Britt would choose to hold spring practice in late May with the full squad or be limited to 21 players per day and hold workouts in April. He chose the latter.

    Randolph isn’t a big fan of the plan because football players taking part in spring sports can’t practice football, but he’s making it work. “We want to get morale back and implement our base offense and defense,’’ he said. “Once summer starts we can do finer detail things.’’

    C.J. Davis, a wide receiver who’ll be a senior in the fall, said things have already changed under Randolph.

    “We are more disciplined,’’ he said. “We’re trying to forget last year and move on. We’re expecting bigger and better things. We don’t plan on going 3-8 again.’’

    Davis said the primary goal in the spring workouts is to learn the new offense. “If we learn the playbook, get the plays down, get them running smoothly, we’ll do just fine and practice will be easier,’’ he said.

    He said the team is excited about the move into the new conference. “It’s going to be a real good test we’ve been put into,’’ he said. He expects the Buccaneers will be competitive if they can keep their composure and
    remain disciplined.

    Randolph is also looking forward and not letting the 3-8 record hang like an albatross from the neck of his new team. “A 3-8 season does not destroy a program,’’ Randolph said. “As my old coach used to say, ‘Let the chips fall where they may.’ ‘’

  • 17ChangeGoodNo matter how successful we become or how important the world says we are, there’s one thing we all could use a little more of: encouragement. Few things cost less or prove more deeply beneficial than a thoughtful arm around the shoulder and a kind word or two.

    As a longtime husband, I can almost feel the strength surge into my body when my wife sends me out the door with words like, “I’ll be loving you!” or welcomes me home with, “I missed you so much today!” I feel important. I feel needed. And I’m encouraged to share that same thing with others. That’s how encouragement works. It’s highly contagious, and practically leaps from one person to the next. 

    Life is so much more incredibly short than we give it credit for being. At 13, the time until high school graduation seems like an eternity away. But just a few years later, and you’re beginning to measure time in terms of “years remaining.” I don’t mean that in a morbid sense, it’s just that more and more I find myself desiring to become the person I needed when I was younger. As you read these few words today, I hope you’ll grab hold of the power you have to make someone else’s day. 

    As a Christian believer and follower, I find plenty of hope and encouragement in reading the Bible and allowing the words on those pages to spring to life inside me. It’s a joy getting to know God better through reading about his personality and characteristics, and I highly recommend it. As I read the things Jesus taught his early followers, his ability to be perfectly honest and explain life to them amazes me! He took time to encourage countless people directly — many of them were social outsiders, and there were also a good many who were part of the “in” crowd socially, politically, or both.

    The thing was, he offered encouragement. And his ministry grew. I can’t fathom a legacy larger than that of Jesus, and none more positive. And I can’t help but honor that legacy by extending a hand or a kind word to the people I come in contact with. 

    Whether it’s a simple note or letter to a family member, a text to a friend or a calming word to an overworked waitress at a busy restaurant — you have the power to change the day. For good. And I hope you will.

  • 16NC Woman BulgariaWhy would North Carolinian Elizabeth Kostova, who is a New York TimesNo.1 bestselling author, set her action-packed novel in Bulgaria?

    I will give you an answer in a minute. But first, a little bit about her new book, The Shadow Land.

    The book’s main character is a young North Carolina mountain woman, Alexandra Boyd. On her first day in the country she meets a small Bulgarian family group. They tell her they are on the way to a beautiful monastery and suggest she consider visiting it later. After they part ways, Alexandra finds she has a satchel that belongs to the Bulgarian group.

    A young taxi driver called Bobby befriends her as she seeks to find the satchel’s owners. In the satchelis a wooden urn, containing
    ashes and inscribed with the name Stoyan Lazarov.

    She and Bobby report the incident to the local police. The police give them an address for Lazarov.

    First, Alexandra and Bobby rush to the monastery and search for the Bulgarian group, but find no one. As they prepare to leave, they realize they have been locked in a room. Alexandra thinks “nothing in her previous experience had prepared her for the feeling of being suddenly locked in a monastic room with a stranger five thousand miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains, holding an urn containing the ashes of another stranger. In addition to being tired and afraid, she was suddenly a thief, a vagrant and a prisoner.”

    Although they escape from the monastery, they cannot escape a growing awareness that they are being followed and possessing this urn has put them in danger.

    Nevertheless, the next day they go to the address provided by the police. The house is empty of people, but photos and papers there confirm the urn’s owners had lived there. A neighbor gives them another address elsewhere in Bulgaria.

    Before leaving town, Alexandra and Bobby adopt a stray dog, which becomes an important character with a major role in one of the concluding scenes. Kostova introduces other people, including an older, wealthy businessman-turned-politician named Kurilkov and known as “The Bear.” He is seeking to win the next election on the promise of “non-corruption.”

    There are growing and inexplicable dangers: vandalized cars, threats, murder and kidnapping. Only if the urn contains some valuable secret can there be an explanation for the unsettling situation.

    An explanation of the urn’s secret and its dangerous value becomes the spine on which Kostova builds the book’s surprising and violent resolution.  

    On that same spine she attaches another story, that of Stoyan Lazarov, a talented violinist, lover of Vivaldi, loving husband and father, who ran afoul of Bulgaria’s post-World War II brutal communist dictatorship. He was confined for many years in a torturous labor camp where work conditions and weather almost killed him and destroyed his health and his prospects for a fulfilling musical career.

     At the work camp, he met two men, one a friend and fellow inmate and the other a guard who becomes a heated enemy. Both characters play a major part in the book’s dramatic conclusion.

    Why, then, did Kostova set this book in Bulgaria? Explaining her fascination for that nation, she writes about her first visit when she first came to “this mysterious country, hidden for so long behind the Iron Curtain,” and she felt, “I had somehow come home.”

    Kostova’s novel takes her readers on a tour of Bulgaria: its mountains, its cities and villages, its forests and seashores. Her poetic descriptions of Bulgaria’s landscapes and people made this reader want to see for myself the country she loves so much.

  • 15boss abyThe Boss Baby (97 minutes) is marketed as a family film. Like most films aimed at children, there are dark messages lined up just below the surface, waiting to be decoded. 

    I wasn’t dying to see it. But, since the only other alternative was the eighth film in the box office gold franchise about those guys who like to drive at unreasonably high rates of speed while also in a state of extreme anger, and I managed to avoid the previous seven films, it was a point of pride that I find something else to review.

    The film starts off with the voice of Tim (Miles Bakshi) narrating over some vintage-inspired animation. He tells us that, according to his parents (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow), he has an overactive imagination. The animation helpfully blends together his perceptions of what is happening with what is actually happening … so if he is pretending to fight underwater monsters, he is actually holding his breath in the bath. This establishes that Tim is an unreliable narrator, and the story that follows is most likely a product of his rich fantasy life. Might I suggest that, with only minor rewrites, this could work as a child’s tale of terror? Because there are some really horrifying elements at play.

    Before the arrival of Boss Baby (Alex Baldwin), Tim gets three stories, five hugs and a special song (“Blackbird”) before bed every night — in spite of the fact that both his parents work at high-level jobs at a pet company. You see, the clues that this is a fantasy are there right from the beginning. And, before I continue, why would parents sing “Blackbird” to their child every night? It’s one of the saddest songs in the entire catalog of songs by The Beatles. And I held that opinion before the YouTube video made everyone cry. You know what song I sing to my baby daughter at bedtime? “The Shankill Butchers.” Much less likely to make someone cry.

    Anyway, one day the Boss Baby arrives in a taxi, wearing a suit and tie. He asks his parents about this and they respond that it is cute and he looks like a little executive. Soon after, Tim, attempting to get his parents’ attention, waits forlornly in bed for a single story or a hug — only to find his parents are both singing “his” special song to his new brother. I have two kids, and that is messed up.

    Either Tim’s fantasy life includes writing dialogue for his parents (in which case, why does he have them prefer his baby brother to him?) OR his parents really think it’s a good idea to completely ignore Tim and let him think they love his baby brother more than him. At one point, they are arguing about who is taking the business trip to Las Vegas and who is staying home with the new baby, while Tim sits sadly at the table, realizing that parental love is tenuous and easily lost. 

    It is heartrending — and, for the record, if my husband and I had to make a similar choice, we would be figuring out which friend was free to babysit. Because when you are stuck at home with two small, screaming, hyper little squirrels whose idea of fun is waiting until you blink, then figuring out the quickest way to get on top of the roof and play Superman, the walls start closing in just a tad. Kids, if you ever read this, Mommy loves you!

    The themes only get darker from here. It turns out babies are at war with puppies, because there is only so much love to distribute in a family, and puppies are starting to get more. 

    Boss Baby was sent to Earth to stop the worldwide launch of the cutest puppy ever — because otherwise, the puppies will win. When this mission is accomplished, he will get a promotion and disappear — and his parents will forget he ever existed. I could probably write a thesis deconstructing the 20 kinds of messed up contained within the past paragraph, but instead, I will suggest that when picking movies to enjoy as a family, maybe don’t pick one that emphasizes how kids get ignored when new babies arrive.

    Now showing at Patriot 14 + IMAX.

  • 13GreenBeretThe year was 1966. The Righteous Brothers, The Four Tops, The Monkees and The Mamas and The Papas were all in the Billboard Top 10. The No. 1 spot for five weeks, though, was held by a special forces soldier who had taken a punji stick to the knee in Vietnam. It was Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler’s “The Ballad of the Green Berets.” 

    The song sold 9 million records. Sadler earned more than $500,000 in royalties in 1966 from the song. Later, Sadler would say the song was the worst thing that ever happened to him. 

    Historian, journalist and author Marc Leepson captures Sadler’s triumphs and misadventures in his recently-published book Ballad of the Green Beret: The Life and Wars of Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, from the Vietnam War and Pop Stardom to Murder and an Unsolved, Violent Death. On Sunday, May 7, City Center Gallery and Books will host a book signing and author presentation for Leepson.

    When Leepson decided to write about Sadler, he had some general knowledge of the green beret. “I knew about the song, and I knew about Sadler and that he was involved in some mercenary stuff. I discovered a lot of what people don’t know,” said Leepson. “I interviewed 71 people, most all of them knew him and many of them trained or served with him. I found people he grew up with, a guy he was in the Air Force and Army with and in Vietnam. They told me a lot of stuff.”

    There was stuff about the guy Sadler killed in Nashville in 1978 and how Sadler got away with it. “There are three chapters in the book about it,” said Leepson. “The detective from the case was very cooperative. Barry’s mug shot is in the book.”

    After serving in the Army, Sadler’s dream was to become a recording artist, screenwriter and actor. While he did score some bit parts in a few western series on TV, his dreams of fame and fortune as a performer and musician never came to fruition. He was broke and in debt by 1973. Sadler did write 29 pulp fiction novels, though. All but seven of them were part of the Casca: The Eternal Mercenary series. While the books sold well, Sadler never recovered financially. That didn’t keep Sadler down; he moved to Guatemala where he claimed to train Contras. While there, he was shot in the head, kidnapped and more. Leepson covers it all.

    “This is the first biography of Barry Sadler and he has a local connection. He lived in Fayetteville. He trained at Fort Bragg and was assigned there. The song is the unofficial theme song of the special forces,” said Leepson. “It is still played today. I don’t think anyone knows how it came to be. I tell that story in detail. It involved a public affairs lieutenant, a general and Barry. He went viral before anyone knew the word internet.” 

    While this is Leepson’s ninth book, he is no stranger to Fayetteville. He spoke about his book Lafayette: Idealist General during a Lafayette Birthday Celebration weekend in recent years. Leepson has also written about Francis Scott Key, the Civil War, the history of the American flag and Monticello. On May 7, guests who attend the book signing will have a chance to ask Leepson questions and hear him speak. His presentation begins at 2:30 p.m. Books will be available for purchase. Find out more about City Center Gallery and books at www.citycentergallery.com. Find out more about Marc Leepson at www.marcleepson.com.

  • 12COSFor years, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers have been bringing incredible music and cultural opportunities to our region. Originally, the group was an “ensemble,” but more recently the group has expanded and partnered with various other community organizations. COS now includes three choirs: The Cross Creek Chorale, Campbellton Youth Chorus and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers make up the core of the group. 

    This growth is due in part to the work of Dr. Michael Martin, who will soon be leaving the COS. “I think we have done much to increase the positive reputation of the group and advance a support for choral music. This mission began with my arrival in 2007: to create a local symphonic choral organization that could partner with my choral program and create high-level music opportunities for the community and ourselves,” he said. “With the foundation provided by Alan Porter’s prior leadership, we have partnered with local colleges and professional music organizations. We have also delivered large orchestral and choral works with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra.” 

    The music produced by the Cumberland Oratorio Singers is phenomenal. It may surprise some audience members to know the members of the group all have day jobs. For Martin, this is one of the best aspects of the group, as it allows for community members to engage deeply with the arts. According to Martin, “It is the community approach to performance that makes these people special. Most members are not driven by anything but the success of the group. We come from all over the community: doctors, lawyers, from different churches, teachers, custodians, etc., all for the purpose to make music!”  

    Martin acknowledges building a community in Fayetteville has some particular challenges. “People come and go, and in Fayetteville this challenge is even harder given the nature of our military community with frequent moving,” he said. “The one thing we can never forget is why people should do this to begin with: to come together as a community to sing!” 

    Inarguably, Martin has made a huge impact not only on the Cumberland Oratorio Singers, but also on the local community as whole. Luckily his new focus won’t take him too far away. 

    “While COS is very respectful of my space with my family, it has become too much to balance with my growing responsibilities at Methodist University. For now, I am focused on being there for my job and family, as well as expanding my role in choral music in North Carolina,” he explained. “I intend to be involved with the COS in the future, hopefully as a member of the board. After a year away, I would like to be involved with them and offer my support to the new director in whatever way he or she would like. I believe in this group and will advocate and support them in any way possible!” 

    His years of experience have also inspired him to leave a little friendly advice for the incoming director. “If there is one thing that I have learned from my years of conducting community choirs it’s that most people sing simply because they want to do it. It is not a requirement for them, and that needs to be respected and supported. They are not paid, but we tend to expect them to be professional in every way. I have always considered our membership as ‘volunteer professionals’ with families and jobs. Therefore, people will learn and perform with what little time is available.” he said. 

    There is still time to catch a performance of the Cumberland Oratorio Singers this season. The next concert is May 19. Find out more at www.singwithcos.org. 

  • 11BoThorpThe next Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch is May 11 at the Ramada Inn Bordeaux. These lunches happen four times a year and are an opportunity for the women of Fayetteville to network and build rewarding relationships with other women in the community.  

    In addition to refreshments, shopping and networking opportunities, there is also a keynote speaker. “Every lunch we invite an amazing woman with an inspiring story. They share their story in an effort to inspire and encourage the women at the lunch. We want to use these experiences to empower and educate the women in the community,” said Keri Kittinger, director of the Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch. 

    “This lunch we have Bo Thorpe, the founding artistic director of the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. She built that theater from nothing, just a building on the corner of Hay Street, to the amazing theater it is today. She’s going to talk about the things she faced in making this happen." 

    The keynote speakers are always successful women in the community. Speakers have come from all sects of the community with a wide range of experiences. Diversity is one of the strongest characteristics of the Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch. “It is amazing being in a room filled with women who are all there to support each other. We women don’t always support each other, and to be part of this is encouraging. Our community in Fayetteville is incredibly diverse, and this diversity is well-represented at our lunches. Seeing all these different women come together to support each other is a powerful thing to be part of,” said Kittinger.  

    The event begins at 10 a.m. with a Shopportunity Expo and wine tasting that will last until noon, when the luncheon and keynote speech begin. At 2 p.m., the Shopportunity Expo and wine tasting resume for another hour.  The Shopportunity is a great time for networking and features local business owners showcasing all their businesses have to offer. This year there will be more vendors than ever.  “We have been growing this thing for a while. At first we only had 22 vendors and we totally sold out. Last year we decided to increase that number to 44 vendors and we still had to turn people away,” said Kittinger. “For this lunch, we have 60 vendors spots and we are hoping to fill them up. Our goal is 60 vendors and 200 attendees.” 

    Another change this year is the location. “This year our location is the Ramada Inn at Bordeaux, which is a little more central. We are hoping to reach out to the women who maybe can’t come out for the whole day,” Kittinger explained. 

    She added that the Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunches, which provide so much opportunity for local women, are only possible because of the contributions of community members and the hard work of the women on the advisory board. Bill Bowman is one such community member, who recently received the Athena Award from the Chamber of Commerce due to his work with these lunches and Women’s View Magazine. The sponsors of the Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch are also vital to the success of these events. Without their support, tickets would approach $70. Their support makes the events affordable for the women of the community. Additionally, a portion of the luncheon profits will be given to the Kidsville News Literacy and Education Foundation.  

    To register as a vendor or attendee, visit www.fayettevilleladiespowerlunch.com.

  • 10budget prepCumberland County Manager Amy Cannon said County government faces a potential $27 million funding gap in Fiscal Year 2018. But is it really a deficit? 

    $18 million of that is new money not now in the County budget. Some of it represents budget increases requested by departmental managers. 

    A big chunk of the gap, $9.7 million, is in revenue losses resulting from the unprecedented reduction in ad valorem property values. The information provided county commissioners “was a snapshot of strategies under consideration … the budget division and management are still developing options for balancing the budget,” Cannon said. The current tax rate is 74 cents per $100 of property valuation. To achieve revenue neutrality, Cannon told county commissioners they would have to raise the property tax rate to 78.4 cents. Any increase would hurt homeowners whose property increased in value, but would offset losses in reduced home values while not increasing the actual tax burden. “We have to balance this budget and it is going to be challenging. This is not a short-term fix,” Cannon said.

    There will have to be some cuts in County operations, and as many as 66 employees could lose their jobs. Attrition would likely reduce the payroll some. Cannon has instructed budget staff and department heads to focus on reducing non-mandated services. A pay raise for employees is likely out of the question and Cannon proposes to scratch the county’s 401K contribution for employees. Mandated services are those functions of all county governments in North Carolina established by the state constitution like schools, mental health services, social welfare, public health, court facilities and jail, along with funding for the sheriff’s office and other county agencies. 

    Many other activities the County supports are considered quality of life expenses; the niceties that separate some communities from others, like animal control, public libraries, domestic violence protection and support of non-profit community groups like the Child Advocacy Center and Contact of Fayetteville.  Contact is a 24-hour crisis intervention telephone hotline which has been in existence for nearly fifty years. It receives a little less than $7,000 annually from the County, but that represents 14-percent of its modest budget. These so-called outside agencies would see reductions in their budgets. Some would lose all funding from the County. “The majority of services the County provides are human services. (They) are essential and mandated, and have to be provided,” said County Commission Chairman Glenn Adams. He didn’t speak to quality of life issues. 

    Cannon made her presentation to commissionersfor information only. She’ll make her formal budget proposal later this month. It could include closing one of the County’s public libraries and reducing hours of operation at three others. “I am sorry that libraries are not considered a mandated service, and wish that we all had a different understanding of the value of libraries in the community,” said Library Director Jody Risacher. Talk of closing a library concerns her. “I can’t tell you which branch, and don’t wish to speculate. My sense is that everything is on the table,” she added. Cannon insists her outline is just a suggestion, but it isn’t the first time the administration has proposed closing the Domestic Violence Care Center and Shelter. Twice before, as far back as 1999, the shelter for abused women came close to being eliminated. Up & Coming Weekly asked Social Services Director Brenda Jackson if she would fight to keep the agency open. “In order to realize any County savings, DSS must explore non-mandated services due to the lack of state, federal and grant funding sufficient to provide this program,” she responded.   

    Cannon also suggested closing two public health clinics and consolidating a pair of group homes. She said she has already cut increased departmental requests by $3 million and has instructed department heads to submit three levels of additional incremental reductions. They are to include operational and staff cuts. Cannon will present her recommended budget at 7 p.m. on May 25. 

  • 09VARay MackeyRetired Marine Sgt. Maj. Ray Mackey is walking again. “First time in probably over a year I was able to stand for any given amount of time,” Mackey said. It’s exactly what he was doing the first time CBS News met him seven years ago. He was learning to walk after losing both legs to a land mine in Afghanistan. CBS News correspondent David Martin reported “then as now, (Mackey) was being fitted for prosthetics at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.” 

    The sockets that fit his legs to the prostheses are what sent Mackey back to Walter Reed after the VA in Fayetteville kept him waiting. Martin said if that wait is too long, his body changes and the sockets no longer fit. 

    Mackey said he received six or seven sockets that did not fit because of the delays. Up & Coming Weeklywas unable to reach Mackey. “It is unacceptable that he felt he had to go outside VA to get the services he needed,” said Fayetteville VA spokesman Jeffery Melvin. “We can and will do better.”

    Confined to a wheelchair, Mackey said at Walter Reed he got new sockets in less than a week. “This is probably the most work I’ve done on my legs in a while,” Mackey said during physical therapy. He has gained a lot of weight and his hips have lost their flexibility. Walking will always be hard for him. 

    But “It was the inability of the VA to keep him in properly fitting prosthetics that was keeping a good man down,” Martin reported. “I am just another number that got pulled out of a number machine,” Mackey said. He’s now back home in North Carolina. He recently got a call from the local VA saying they want to come up with a plan for making the system better and meeting his needs. 

    Fayetteville VA Medical Center Director Elizabeth Goolsby was out of town when Up & Coming Weeklyasked for a response to Mackey’s complaints. 

    VA spokesman Melvin was apologetic. “We regret that Sgt. Maj. Mackey felt he had to go to Walter Reed to get the services he needed.  Our Chief of Prosthetics reached out to him, apologized and asked him to return to Fayetteville VA and let us serve him again, and this time we vow to get it right.” Melvin continued. 

    “Several factors contributed to Sgt. Maj. Mackey’s previous difficulty getting his prostheses properly fitted.  Because of a staff vacancy, we could not fit him in house when he first began seeing us, so we referred him to a private vendor.  We have the staff to fit him here now. However, this does not absolve us of our responsibility for not knowing he was experiencing difficulty.”

  • 08CCTaskForceSeven years ago, a local public safety task force issued a report that the group had spent two years working on. It was described as a comprehensive review of fire departments, EMS and
    emergency communications. 

    The report outlined recommendations for service improvements. The task force went so far as to recommend creation of a special sales tax to adequately fund increased public demands for service. Details as to how proceeds from a sales tax would be shared have not been worked out. But such a tax is still the top priority of the revitalized public safety task force.

    Members didn’t meet again until this month. Only a couple of the recommendations from 2010 have been enacted. One of them is close to completion: the creation of a joint City/County 911 emergency
    call center. A separate task force working on that project has until the end of this month to agree on a governing board and how to share responsibility. 

    Assistant County Manager Tracey Jackson is attempting to reduce a budding turf battle so as to qualify the City and County for state grants. As for the other task force, funding remains the agency’s top priority. And a dedicated sales tax is now called an “immediate need.” The 2010 report was made to county commissioners and the elected boards of municipal governments in Cumberland County. It concluded that “without fundamental funding changes, required system changes cannot be accomplished.” 

    Freddie Johnson, president of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association, told members of the task force that declines in residential property values disclosed this year have cost
    12 of the County’s rural fire departments more than $265,000 in lost revenue. Pearces Mill, Stoney Point and Vander fire departments took the biggest hits with individual losses of more than $44,000. Only three volunteer departments benefited from increases in property values. Cotton Fire Department in suburban Hope Mills gained nearly $112,000 in new tax revenue. Rural fire departments are primarily funded by a 10-cent fire district tax. A few low-wealth fire districts receive small supplements from the County. Municipal fire departments in Fayetteville, Hope Mills and Spring Lake are supported by regular property taxes. 

    Rural fire departments hope to implement a system whereby the closest available unit would respond to a 911 call regardless of jurisdiction. The Fayetteville Fire Department has had that capability for some time. 911 dispatchers can identify the location of fire engines and squads on a real-time map and send the closest unit to the emergency. Chiefs of the various departments in attendance at the meeting also agreed it is desirable to establish clear public expectations of emergency responses for all County fire departments. As a practical matter, though, small departments which are totally dependent on volunteers cannot be expected to respond to emergency medical rescues at the same level of expectation as wealthier departments who maintain round-the-clock paid staffs.

    The task force chiefs agreed to meet monthly in order to keep public safety priorities and needs alive.                                             

  • 07NewsDigestApril Killings Unrelated

    Three local men died violent deaths at the hands of others in April. Police said the homicides were unrelated but did not appear to be random. 

    Mark Lewis, 54, of Concord Drive in College Lakes, was shot at his home Sunday afternoon, April 2. Officers found Lewis with a gunshot wound to the chest, said Police Sgt. Shawn Strepay. Police took the alleged shooter into custody at the scene. David Adam Wildhagen, 30, of the 5000 block of Cooper Road, is charged with first-degree murder and was jailed without bond. A pair of homicides occurred within two days of each other late in the month. The death of Jeffrey Brewington, of Goins Drive off Owen Drive, remains unsolved. Police found Brewington beaten inside his home late Friday night, April 22. He had been robbed and police apparently have no suspects. On Monday, April 24, officers responded to a shooting on Alamance Road off Raeford Road. A family member had discovered Dennis Burden, 21, dead. The alleged shooter is Shyheim White, 19, of Dublin.  He was charged with involuntary manslaughter growing out of what police called “negligent and reckless use of the firearm.”  

    Serial Rapist #2

    Up & Coming Weekly recently reported on a serial rapist who’s wanted for committing 11 rapes after breaking into apartments of local women. 

    A second highly-publicized case continues to have the attention of the Fayetteville Police Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit. Sexual assaults committed by the “Ramsey Street Rapist” took place over two years between March 2006 and January 2008. The series of rapes occurred in the North Fayetteville area and remain unsolved.  These attacks were committed by a subject who was dubbed the “Ramsey Street Rapist.” 

    DNA belonging to the unknown subject was recovered at three of the crime scenes and has been uploaded to the National Combined DNA Index System. The Ramsey Street Rapist was described as a white male, then about 40, about 6 feet tall and weighing about 200 pounds. Time-progressed composites illustrate what he would probably look like today, with and without facial hair. Detectives have remained relentless in their search for the “Ramsey Street Rapist” for the last 10 years.  

    Local Youth Council is a Winner Several Times Over

    The Fayetteville–Cumberland County Youth Council is proof that our youngsters are among the best and brightest in North Carolina. Two were elected to the Executive Board of the State Youth Council during a conference last month. Rebecca Mitchell was elected chairperson and Konstance Woods was chosen as the state council’s secretary. The FCCYC was honored as the state’s most diverse youth council. 

    Joshua Jensen was awarded North Carolina State Youth Council’s Most Outstanding Member and Jordan Clayborn was a keynote speaker. FCCYC has representation from high schools across Cumberland County. Its members range from sophomores to seniors. The Youth Council helped with Hurricane Matthew relief and hosted an event to help teenagers prepare for their future and develop leadership skills at conferences across the state and nation. The Fayetteville-Cumberland Youth Council’s mission is “to serve as a voice for youth in a youth-led organization.” 

  • 06ccbsInstitutional accreditation reflects a voluntary decision made by the institution to conduct a self-evaluation of its academic operations from every vantage point to meet the standards of an accrediting agency. Because of the amount of rigor involved, many institutions either choose not to seek to meet these standards or they develop their own standards and the result may be labeled as “degree mills.” Graduates from those schools earn the paper, but not the product required by reputable employers.

    Since accreditation is not required, graduates of institutions which have not met prescribed standards have a red flag that follows them as they seek their places in society. Some schools even follow agencies that are not accredited, hence the degree is still not what it proposes to be for lack of a core of standards. Without accreditation, the school has taken money without giving the student a standard-based education.

    Accreditation approval demonstrates compliance with standards developed by an official agency. In the United States, there are six regional accreditation bodies (Regional Accreditation) and a host of nontraditional schools (such as beautician and barber schools, Bible colleges) with a specific focus (National Accreditation). Both accrediting bodies require the applying institutions to comply with standards approved by the U.S. Department of Education and therefore qualify for federal (Title IV) funds.

    For institutions to receive these federal funds, the government recognizes the choice has been made to spend time, effort and finances to prove that the institutions have met the guidelines of an approved agency. Usually, they have affiliated themselves with a qualifying accrediting agency and become a candidate for accreditation and then have applied for and received the status of accreditation. They have completed these steps because they want to professionally prepare graduates of their institution to perform at a high level in their chosen field. 

    Many hours will be spent by all facets of the institution studying its operations from every aspect, including budget and its appropriate use, faculty, resources, curriculum, library, mission and mission-appropriate goals as well as administration and long-range and strategic planning. Assessment tools that determine the success of the institution are also vital.

    Initial accreditation is only the first step. A team of professionals reflecting the areas of competencies sought will receive written documents from the institution certifying compliance with basic standards of the accrediting agency, assessment results and long- and short-range planning of the institution. 

    This is followed by a visit by these professionals to examine the actual operations of the institution. Reaccreditation follows at prescribed intervals to assure continued compliance with the standards of the accrediting agency.

    Carolina College of Biblical Studies has chosen to meet the national standards of the Association for Biblical Higher Education for both its on-campus and online degree programs. CCBS completed a team visit for reaccreditation April 4-7. CCBS received six commendations, one for the online program, from the visiting team and some recommendations that it will address to complete the reaccreditation process.

    The graduates of CCBS have been very successful and often continue to graduate schools such as Liberty University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. They are also serving as pastors and planters of churches. Almost 90 percent of our graduates made CCBS their first choice to enroll in college. It is not unusual for our students to recruit others to attend the college.

    The administration, faculty and staff of CCBS recognize, as do our students, that accreditation is the gold standard. The Association for Biblical Higher Education has set the standards as the accrediting agency, and CCBS has met those standards as we seek to disciple Christ-followers through biblical higher education, for a lifetime of effective servant leadership.

  • 05YoungCriminalsShould North Carolina “Raise the Age?” North Carolina is the last and only state to prosecute 16- and 17 year-old teenagers as adults. Only 3 percent of violent offenses are committed by our youth. This means the overwhelming majority of our teenagers receive adult consequences for minor offenses. A teenage mistake could prevent a child from entering the military, receiving college financial aid or obtaining employment. But, this could all change with House Bill 280, the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, proposed bipartisan legislation which would raise the juvenile offender age to 17 except for violent felonies. 

    Under the proposed legislation, teenagers who commit murder or rape would still be prosecuted as an adult. Why the push to increase the age limit?  According to an article titled “States Raising Age for Adult Prosecutions Back to 18” published by ABA Journalin February of this year, “adult penalties lead to more teen recidivism (repeatedly committing crimes), new science shows teenage brains really do mature later,” and it is a response to high incarceration rates.” Also, over the past 10 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared it unconstitutional to execute for crimes committed as juveniles, outlawed the automatic life without parole for nonhomicide crimes, extended the ban on automatic life without parole for teenagers who have committed homicide and retroactively extended the ban on life sentences. The difference is our juvenile justice system focuses on rehabilitation — helping the child make a change — versus the adult system which focuses
    on punishment. 

    According to North Carolina Policy Watch, House Bill 280 has the support of the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, the Police Benevolent Association, the Association of Chiefs of Police and the North Carolina Chief Justice’s Courts Commission. Over the next few months, we must watch to see if North Carolina joins the rest of the nation and raises the age.

  • 04ChinaOver the past several decades American foreign policy toward China has been primarily economic in nature. In 1979, we granted Most Favored Nation trading status with China, and in 2001, China became a member of the World Trade Organization. For years, the theory has been that China will reform government dominance and communist tendencies with increased access to global markets. Our leaders have believed open market access would permeate the Chinese culture with greater personal freedoms and liberties.

    Unfortunately, the outcome of continuous and unrestricted market access has not yielded the intended results. China remains a significant human rights abuser, censoring everything from news and journalism to religious freedom, women’s rights and political dissidence.

    Furthermore, China has used the economic benefits of global market access to blatantly undermine international adversaries through cyberespionage, corporate IP theft, market manipulation, illegal naval expansion and the significant development of domestic military capabilities.

    When I hosted Dr. Henry Kissinger for a speech in Charlotte in 1991, he contrasted Russia and China, with Russia being an outward expansionist regime and China being still relatively unengaged in the world. Today, however, through the favor of economic expansion granted in large part by the United States, China has aggressive visions to expand its global footprint across multiple continents. Through economic expansion, China has emerged from its reclusive traditions to become a major economic and military power.

    China has built its economy from a $300 billion GDP in 1985 to over $11 trillion today. This is largely a result of the theory that open markets would transform culture.

    As a member of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, I have heard scores of testimony from victims who detail the continued egregious violations of human rights, religious liberties and freedoms of conscience by the Chinese government — proving our original economic theories wrong.

    Hope for a culture change in China has been diminished by the dominance of the Communist Party and their underlying vision to stay in power and suppress their citizens. With this in mind, the United States must shift its foreign policy toward China and use our various economic resources to compel the Chinese government and force change. We must impose a severe price on China to change their mindset.

    Today, China pursues its economic and expansionist interests seemingly unchecked. For example, Chinese investment in the United States has skyrocketed, growing from approximately $4.6 billion in 2010 to $45.6 billion in 2016. Many of these investments come from state-sponsored firms and strategically target our critical and financial infrastructure, as well as American start-up companies who produce emerging foundational technologies with broad military applications.

    One way we can counter strategic Chinese economic warfare is to strengthen our export control laws and rules associated with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Through denying market access to Chinese state-sponsored firms, we can more effectively leverage government action, particularly related to human rights and North Korea. The key to compelling change in North Korea is through imposing serious economic penalties on the Chinese government for providing material and political support of the oppressive North Korean regime. 

    We must approach every action and every economic transaction with China as directly related to Chinese support for North Korea, Chinese abuse of human rights, Chinese cyberespionage and Chinese military development.

    Over the past several years, through multiple Congressional letters co-signed by dozens of my colleagues, I have fought for heightened government scrutiny over various Chinese state-sponsored transactions, both domestic and abroad.

    Our efforts led to an unprecedented economic penalty imposed on the ZTE Corporation for selling embargoed technologies to Iran in 2012. 

    We have raised public concerns related to Chinese state-sponsored attempts to purchase American financial institutions, including the Chicago Stock Exchange and MoneyGram. Additionally, we have analyzed global Chinese efforts to invest in semiconductor technologies and have targeted certain transactions that will disrupt our Defense Department’s supply chain for critical military applications.

    As our government moves forward with China, we must consider policies that impose a strategic disadvantage to the Chinese economy. 

    Our policies must include efforts to sanction Chinese officials who engage in cyberespionage or human rights abuses and Chinese entities that provide critical or financial services to North Korea.

    Further, we must consider punitive action against Chinese trade-based money laundering, as well as money laundering that emerges from Macau.

    As China continues to modernize its military and emphasize capabilities intended to disrupt and challenge the United States, our government must respond by using our strong markets, economy and trade policies to compel immediate action by the Chinese government.

    America has a choice. We can have prescriptive economic and trade policies with China — including tariffs, sanctions, improved export control laws and strong CFIUS review authorities — or we can continue to allow them to advance their human rights abuses, execute massive corporate theft and cyberespionage operations and deliver material support for North Korea.

    This column first appeared on Fox News Opinion

  • 03HowDidWelake rimHow did we get here?

    Jeff “Goldy” Goldberg hosts Good Morning Fayetteville on WFNC 640 AM. On a recent show, he was interviewing a police officer who works with the Crime Stoppers program in our area. They started the conversation by discussing a shooting at Lake Rim. Reportedly, two groups were arguing, guns were produced and a man was shot. In essence, Goldy wondered aloud and with genuine concern, “How did we get here?” He explained when he was young, at most, arguments were settled with fists … not guns. His tone was one of absolute amazement that what was being reported could happen. What follows are my thoughts in response to Goldy’s question that people America are asking: How did we get here?

    In my estimation, our actions, for the most part, are the result of what we view as acceptable behavior. Regarding crime, Leonard A. Sipes Jr. clearly makes this point in an article titled “Top 10 Factors Contributing to Violent Crime-Updated,” in which he wrote: “Our criminological training is that governments do not control crime, communities or societies do; there is little the justice system can do if you decide to engage in violence, use drugs, participate in theft or buy stolen goods. We note that the criminological literature generally agrees that crime rises and falls over time at roughly the same rates in states and western countries, thus the explanations for crime seem to have a common, societal theme (i.e., drug use, universal agreements as to what is permissible).”

    What I want to examine is what I consider to be the most relevant part of the quote above: “…universal agreements as to what is permissible.” This leads one to ask how agreement as to what is permissible is being determined and promoted in America. I contend the answer speaks to how we became a society riddled with crime and a multitude of other ills. That is, we have and are experiencing a dramatic shift in the forces that shape agreements as to what is permissible in society.

    A major destructive shift is in the decline of church, especially Christian, influence on this process of defining what is permissible in society. I grew up in Camilla, Georgia, where the population was about 5,000. I remember walking over a mile to Union Baptist Church where my father was pastor. 

    Cheryl McCoy, her sister Brenda, Bobby Rosemond, Joe Grissom and I would make that walk to attend various youth activities. That was a time of foundation-building for us. The positive influence of all the good that happened in that church experience was a major factor in shaping our thinking regarding what is permissible in life. I am confident in saying not one of us in that group of walkers would see the crime, lawlessness or deafening irresponsible conduct of far too many Americans as permissible behavior. The very positive impact our Christian church had on my walking group was not unique to us; it was a widespread happening in that little town and across America. 

    The Christian Church has lost much of its capacity for, as was the case with my walking group, influencing what is viewed as permissible in America. Not only has that capacity declined, it is moving toward total collapse. Consider the following quotes from an article titled “The Decline of Christianity In America” that was posted June 30, 2009,
    at www.signsofthelastdays.com:

    According to a stunning new survey by America’s Research Group, 95 percent of 20 to 29 year old evangelicals attended church regularly during their elementary and middle school years. However, only 55 percent of them attended church regularly during high school, and only 11 percent of them were still regularly attending church when in college.

    The reality is that young Americans are deserting the Church in America in droves … 46 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 to 34 indicated they had no religion.

    Given what I have said so far, the question is: Why has the Christian Church, for the most part, lost the ability to influence what is viewed as permissible in American society? I hold the primary reason is that, in general, Christians have turned away from modeling and calling others to live in accordance with the teachings of scripture and the example of Jesus. This has happened, and is happening, for the same reason it occurred in the time of Jesus. John 12:42-43 (NIV) says:

    Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. 

    In these verses, Jesus is within days of going to the cross. Some people in positions of leadership believed he was the promised deliverer of the Jews. Because this belief was not widely held, and accepting it would cause rejection of believers, many who believed kept quiet. In our time, being Christian attracts rejection, verbal attacks and denial of religious liberty. 

    I am not aware of physical attacks on American Christians, but it is becoming more and more challenging to be Christian in America. Too often, the response of many Christians is to steer clear of the hard work of influencing for good what is seen as permissible. The result is those who are counter to the Christian faith fill the void and set the course. 

    Interestingly, many Christians explain or justify their failure to take a stand by going to what Jesus said about judging. In Matthew 7:1, Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you will be judged.” Jesus goes further in the verses that follow. I contend He is not saying to never judge. Instead, Jesus explains how we should judge, how we should hold one another accountable. What He says should not be used as a reason for failing to, as Christians, be active in the process of determining what is permissible in society. 

    My hope and prayer is that Christians in America and around the world will find the wherewithal to stand and be the Godly influence we should be in defining what is permissible in society. I realize doing what we ought to comes with a high price. Be reminded that Jesus gave notice to those of us who stand with him (Matthew 5:11-12):

    Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

  • 02BlackoutMost of us have them in our families. 

    Sometimes we refer to them as “an eccentric” or a “real character,” like one of my favorite relatives who wanted more of the women in our family to be blonde. If you look at my photo on this page, you will see blonde is not my natural hair color. 

    Sometimes, there is no denying the situation is beyond eccentricity, like a cousin who was so angry at the power company in his area that he set up a flat bed truck decorated with Christmas lights and railed about his grievances with a megaphone to passing motorists. That was when he was not dropping anti-power company leaflets out of his twin-engine plane all over the crop fields of his rural county.

    Sometimes, it is clear we are dealing with a mental illness, like another cousin who is struggling with significant depression in her senior years. It is this kind and other serious conditions that we find so difficult to acknowledge and to discuss within our own families and without.

    That is why it struck me when I read last month about Britain’s Prince Harry, the red-headed, fun-loving, hard-partying bachelor prince, and his public announcement of his battles to keep mental and emotional equilibrium after the sudden death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, when he was only 12 years old. Prince Harry confessed he more or less shut down his emotions for 20 years, with neither he nor his older brother, William, talking much about their mother and the loss of her. Prince Harry said bottling up his emotions hurt both his personal life and his work.

    Part of his coming out about his mental health issues included a filmed interview with Harry, William and William’s wife, Kate Middleton, about the importance of being open about mental health.

    Joining in the ongoing conversation is Lady Gaga, who has spoken openly about living with post-traumatic stress disorder. Like Prince Harry, Lady Gaga spoke publicly with Prince William about her mental health.

    The British princes are not the first children to lose their mother suddenly and too early, nor is the flamboyant entertainer the first celebrity to have had a traumatic past. The difference is they are talking about their experiences. They are urging others to do so as well and to seek help for mental health issues when we need it.

    Writing recently in The News & Observer, Duke University psychology professor Robin Gurwitch said children often experience death of a loved one or some other trauma that, left unaddressed whether through talking to others or through professional counseling, can lead to crippling depression. 

    We cannot shield children from these experiences, but we can help them understand and cope. “In reality, talking is the most important step we can take to help our children heal from trauma and loss,” said Gurwitch.

    Talking truthfully about our experiences chips away at the stigma of mental stress and illness, with well-known people bravely leading the way. The other critical piece of the equation is providing access to needed mental health services. 

    North Carolina tried to set up community-based services in the early 2000s, but I do not know anyone who thinks this system is yet working the way it should. Many of the homeless people we see in our community are in need of mental health services that simply are not available to them. We can and must do better.

    Many years ago, a person in her 50s and dear to me was successfully treated for long-term substance abuse, and when she returned, we did talk about her issues in a way we never had before treatment. I asked her what she had learned during her time away. She thought a moment and said, “I learned that everyone has problems. I had thought I was the only one.”

    She had thought that for decades, probably because no one talked much about substance abuse or other mental health issues — or if they did, it was probably to criticize and not to offer help. My dear one is long gone now, but I still feel sad that she lived with substance abuse longer than she might have because no one was willing to talk about it honestly.

    My guess is Prince Harry and Lady Gaga have access to all sorts of treatment, and their forthright conversations about mental health are going to help many people. The rest of us can do that as well by acknowledging mental illness for what it is — a collection of largely treatable conditions, just like most physical illnesses, which most of us love to discuss ad infinitum.

  • 01PubPenSPORTSOh my! Decisions, decisions, decisions. Hmmmmmm? Where should the City of Fayetteville put the new sports complex? Well, from where I sit, and from what I’m hearing on the street from citizens who are informed about this opportunity, it is pretty much is a “no-brainer.” 

    However, what they seem to be more concerned about is the way the City Council is behaving. You would think on major proposals and important City business that coordination, cooperation and communication between Council members would be paramount. Well, not so much. Matter of fact, what seem to be “no-brainer” decisions are seemingly very divisive. This is causing some anxiety among citizens who are following the process. 

    Recently, Council member Ted Mohn reached out to me and other members of the media to get our take on the sports complex situation. We appreciated this consideration. In his memo, and in Ted Mohn style, he included a comprehensive evaluation of the suggested Fields/Cedar Creek Road site. He certainly did his homework. It included a graphic of the Rocky Mount Sports Complex for comparison with a dated 4-year financial impact of the complex. He also included a graphic of the Fields/Cedar Creek Road location that included a possible additional 36-acre add on. He also showed nearby commercial development and a sample concept of how the location could house and develop into a viable sports complex. No doubt a lot of time and effort went into this study. However, in my opinion, the Fields/Cedar Creek Road location is not the right location for this project. What follows is basically what I shared with Councilman Mohn in response to his request.

    I thanked him for including me in his quest for information and for all the time and research he invested in making sure the Council had all the facts and details and an understanding of the circumstances when considering where to locate the new $9 million sports complex. This is a major project, an important decision and a very big deal for our community. Accordingly, it needs to be thoroughly thought out and examined from all angles, especially from the perspective of the residents and taxpayers of the City of Fayetteville. This is not the time for infighting or petty ward politics.   

    I also clarified Up & Coming Weekly’s position and obligation to local residents as a community newspaper. Even though we now have a “hard news” element in our publication provided by Senior Reporter Jeff Thompson, traditionally, Up & Coming Weekly’s format has been derived from local observations and analysis of situations affecting our community from a historic perspective and how these actions or events impact the quality of life here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. We do this mostly using “first person” insights and opinions. Matter of fact, by the time I’m ready to pen an article, I find myself pretty much putting down in print what the majority of our readers are already thinking. They trust Up & Coming Weekly because we validate their thoughts.

    After 21 years, the journalistic track record and reputation of Up & Coming Weekly is pretty stellar. And no one can accuse us of “fake news.” 

    With a small community newspaper like Up & Coming Weekly, it’s not how many papers we print each week that is important — it’s who reads it! 

    So, with all this being said, I told Mohn in response to his email that “historically speaking” the Cedar Creek/Fields Road area is a poor choice of locations. By historically, I mean Fayetteville and Cumberland County governments have chronic bad habits of justifying the means to accommodate the ends. And, unfortunately,  with very costly results. I could list at least a half-dozen examples, but I did not need to. Mohn knows what they are and so do the taxpayers. The sports complex should not and cannot become another one of these casualties. 

    This complex needs to be an economic driver. So, whatever monies the City has to come up with to assure its success should be considered a solid and vetted economic development opportunity. And, as such, it should be a rock-solid investment. I implored Ted to use his time, talent and influence to get the Council to shed the politics and do the type of due diligence that will net us a sound and responsible decision.

    I challenged him to query the Council members and the folks he sent memos to about how many times they have visited Exit 49 on Cedar Creek Road in the last year. To Dine? To Shop? To patronize the hotels? I bet zero! 

    While he is at it, I suggested he ask how many have ever participated in a travel sports program, and then find and interview people who have been active in traveling sports teams and ask them what they look for in community amenities when considering participating in a tournament or road trip. 

    I promise you, we can do more for building Fayetteville’s economy and quality of life while enhancing our community’s brand and image by placing it out by Bragg Boulevard near the All American Freeway and I-295, close to Cross Creek Mall. Really. I’m a big believer in creating a “WOW!” factor when it comes to promotion and marketing – two things Fayetteville doesn’t do very well close to home.  If, when all is said and done, we have to invest another $4 million to make this location happen, you can rest assured the “WOW!” factor will be there already included and thriving, and at no additional cost to
    the City.

    Everyone is hoping City Council makes the right decision. I personally hope they take the opportunity to finally prove me wrong when I say: “Fayetteville never misses an opportunity, to miss an opportunity.” 

    Everyone wants this project to be successful, right?  This being the case, why even risk the chance of a failure by choosing an unproven location? Fayetteville’s leadership should hedge its bet by placing the sports complex near I-295 and Cross Creek Mall. This sound location would justify and protect the taxpayers’ and the City’s investments. After all, when it comes to the Reilly Road location or the location at Exit 49 on Cedar Creek Road, the idea of “Build it and they will come” just hasn’t happened. At least not in the last two decades. Again, why risk the taxpayers’ money? 

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 01COVER“The word ‘conductor,’ in my opinion, has more than one meaning. There’s ‘conductor’ like the person who waves the stick around, and then there’s ‘conductor’ as in the element that conducts the energy like a copper wire. You are conducting the energy of the music into these people that you’re standing in front of, and then that transmits to the audience.” 

    The man who said this has been in love with music since he was 3 years old and the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra just revealed him to be its new music director and conductor. His name is Stefan Sanders. 

    Sanders said he remembers going to a concert when he was a teen and sitting very close to the stage. He said seeing the energy emanate from the conductor to the musicians onstage was “absolutely mesmerizing to watch. I knew right then and there ‘This is what I want to do with my life’ … it just took my breath away.’”

    Today, as a successful conductor and thriving artist, Sanders said his approach stems from that same idea about emanation he initially fell in love with. “There’s a term in music called ‘pulse.’ And that is usually referred to as the time, rhythm or beat of the music. But I think … the pulse of music is more like the pulse of a living thing, a heartbeat. There’s this inner pulse that all living things have... it’s a word used to describe the feeling (of something at its core).” 

    He believes a conductor’s number one job is to take the time to understand the pulse, or living heartbeat, of a piece of music, and to emanate that understanding to the musicians. His job is done, he said, when an orchestra can feel the music’s pulse without him so that for the performance he can simply be the facilitator. 

    And music isn’t the only thing that has a pulse. Cities do too, Sanders said – and he liked Fayetteville’s. Sanders spent a week in Fayetteville last November when he came as one of five auditioning guest conductors selected by an FSO search committee. “After a couple of days in Fayetteville, I knew that if they would offer me the position, I would heartily accept,” he said. “I was completely charmed by Fayetteville. One thing that surprised me was the amount of international representation … Every single person I met was an absolute delight.... I know I’m going to a community of like-minded people and people that respect and treat one another with dignity and kindness.” 

    Sanders said he wants to build the identity of the orchestra within the community as an essential, vibrant point of human connection and help continue FSO’s upward trajectory of musical excellence. “When the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra was putting together (the contract), they were very wise in stipulating they wanted a 12-week commitment. This is more weeks than there are actual performances... They (wanted to ensure) they would have access and availability of their music director to make an impact on their community beyond just conducting concerts. That is one of the things I really relish for this for the coming season and our future,” he said. 

    Sanders said he wants to combat the idea that orchestras are “high-brow” or only enjoyable to certain types of people. “Good music was … written by a human being that had the same experiences and feelings about life that every other person has about life. It just so happens they were living and working in a time where this was their medium for expression,” he said. He said he wants to provide a context where everyone feels welcome to come to an FSO concert and where people are willing to sacrifice some of their time and resources to do so because they can see the value it will add to
    their lives. 

    “(Art) is how we know for a fact … that we all share … this sense of community, whether it’s Fayetteville, North Carolina, the U.S., North America or the globe,” said Sanders. “We are not alone, and culture and art are how we express these feelings we all feel no matter where we’re from. This consumes my mind and my vision for what I do. I’m constantly thinking about how I can share this with as many people as I possibly can because that’s really what conducting is all about.”

    The 2017-18 FSO season, led by Sanders, begins this October. Tickets will be available starting in May. Learn more about FSO’s values and mission at www.fayettevillesymphony.org. 

  • 051816COVERMichelle Ingram loves jazz and she loves to laugh. She left Fayetteville 28 years ago and cultivated her love of jazz in places far and wide. “I have a lot of musician friends from Colorado, California, Florida and it was fun to go see them perform,” she said. 

    Ingram recently returned Fayetteville and was pleasantly surprised at everything there is to do here. “It was like Fayetteville just exploded. Places that I remember as fields and dirt roads have shopping centers and housing developments on them now,” she said. While Fayetteville is definitely not the place she left almost three decades ago, Ingram is eager to be a part of the positive growth that has redefined the city — by bringing some of that jazz she loves so much to the community. “I moved here and my friends would call and they asked if there is a jazz club here,” said Ingram. “And they were surprised when I told them there is not. Actually, I was surprised, too, because there is some amazing talent here. I think a lot of people are unaware just how much local talent there is here or how good the local jazz artists are. Or maybe because a musician is local they don’t think of the performer as a big name. But if you look at where they have been and who they played with, they are big — and they are that good.” 

    With a passion for jazz and comedy, connections in the music world, a deep pool of local talent, a growing city with a thriving music and arts culture, and experience promoting music events and venues in the past, it was clear to Ingram what she needed to do. She started Michelle’s Jazz and Comedy Entertainment and started putting together the inaugural season of Fayetteville’s Jazz and Comedy Showcase.

    Instead of opening a jazz club, Ingram intends to host shows at different venues around Fayetteville. “I am thinking there will be a concert or comedy show every two months or so,” said Ingram. It will be enough that people can look forward to quality entertainment, but not so much that they become uninterested.” Her goal is to host a jazz festival in Festival Park in the summer of 2017 in addition to concerts and comedy shows throughout the year.

    The first performance is scheduled for June 18 at the Metropolitan Room. The entertainment roster features an opening performance by Pete Everett and the Total Package Band, which is a touring international band playing original, jazz-infused rhythm and blues, funk, jazz and gospel music.

    Poet Kwabena Dinizulu is set to perform also.

    Vocalist Theo Valentin and bassist and musical director Mike Ely will perform as well as special guests Sam Rucker and Willie Bradley. Valentin sang her first solo for an audience in her church when she was just 5-years-old and her passion has never waned. She performed in high school and attended Norfolk University in Norfolk, Virginia, majoring in voice and minoring in piano. She’s been performing ever since.

    Saxophonist Sam Rucker is known for connecting to the audience with his music. With two albums under his belt, Rucker’s original songs are not only encouraging, they are entertaining as well.

    A son of Fayetteville, trumpeter Willie Bradley has a degree in music education and performance. He’s played with  pros including  Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Max Roach, Betty Carter and Nat Adderley.

    Grammy-award winner Norman Connors and the Starship Orchestra will headline the show. A native of Philadelphia, Connors showed an interest in jazz at a young age. He met music legend and his personal idol, Miles Davis, when he was just 13. By his early 20s he’d signed a record deal with Buddah Records and scored several hit songs including “You Are My Starship” and “Valentine Love.” His later songs include “Take It to the Limit,” “Black Cow” and “Passion.”

    Set in a jazz night club setting, Ingram chose the Metropolitan room for its cozy feel. “There will be appetizers, which are included in the price of the ticket, and the tables will be for four instead of eight to make this an intimate experience.” 

    There are two show times of 7 and 10 p.m. 

    Next in the series is the 100 percent Outrageous Clean Comedy Show on July 30.  “Comedy shows are really enjoyable — laughing is important,” said Ingram. “Sometimes big shows come to town, but at the end of the day, if you can go to a small venue and have a good laugh, that’s just as good.  So I try to bring more clean comedy to the area. I guess as you get older maybe you don’t want to hear the profanity as much.” 

    This event is at the Embassy Suites Hotel Ballroom. Entertainers include Dave Martin, Elaine Postman, Michelle Miller, Chris Petty and Ray Thomas. 

    Ingram says she is in this for the long haul and is pouring her heart and soul into the project with the intention of having a lasting positive impact on the community. 

    “I’m no one-hit wonder. I know other promoters have come and gone and maybe have left a bad taste in people’s mouths, but I am here to stay.” 

    Other shows scheduled this year include:The Hit Ladies of Comedy Show at the Embassy Suites Hotel Ballroom on Oct. 1; The Latin Jazz Explosion at The Metropolitan Room on Nov. 5; and The Heart of Christmas at The Crown Theatre on Dec. 3.

    For more information, visit www.michellesjazzcomedyent.com/home.html.

  • get down downtown flyerCool Springs Downtown District will host Get Down, Downtown on May 28 from 7-9 p.m. in downtown Fayetteville.

    “The mission behind Get Down, Downtown Fayetteville is to showcase our local musicians, artists and performers, while encouraging visitors to shop and eat local in downtown Fayetteville,” said Lauren Falls, Cool Springs director of marketing and events.

    This event highlights the organizations Busker Program, which has been incorporated in their 4th Friday and holiday events over the last three years.

    Attendees can expect seeing live performers, artists, musicians along Hay Street and Person Street. The family-friendly event will also feature a balloon artist.

    “This is a free, family friendly event and we encourage you to come and enjoy the local talent here in downtown Fayetteville,” Falls said.

    Some of the artists and performers will include, Michael Daughtry and the Drift (Musician), Aloha Ka'naka O Hula Hulau Dancers, Matthew Mercer (VADEN presents Art by D-Zine), Costa, a balloon artist from Imagine Circus, Shadows of the Fire Dance Troupe, performers from Gilbert Theater, among others.

    The event won’t feature specific deals or promotions, but attendees are encouraged to support local businesses and attractions.

    “At Get Down Downtown Fayetteville, you can expect to see a diverse group of performers, artists and musicians from our Fayetteville community” she said.
    For more information, please visit our event page: https://bit.ly/GetDownDowntownFay

  • 11 rocknontheriverAfter being shut down last year due to the pandemic, local music event Rock’n On The River is back and ready to kick-start the season with a double header May 21.

    The concert series will feature a performance each month from May until October at 1122 Person St. (behind Deep Creek Grill) in Fayetteville. The May show will feature two tribute bands — Mostley Crue, playing Motley Cure hits, and Shoot To Thrill, who will pay homage to AC/DC.

    “The event will benefit two local non-profits - Karen Chandler Trust and Kidsville News,” said Greg Adair, organizer of Rock’n On The River. “Half of the proceeds from the event will go to these non-profits.”

    The Karen Chandler Trust is a local nonprofit helping those battling cancer. Kidsville News Foundation is an education and literacy nonprofit in Cumberland County.

    Mostley Crue will perform from 6-8 p.m. Shoot To Thrill will kick off at 8:15 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.

    “We are a pretty high energy band and bring a lot to the show,” said Scott Koempel, lead guitarist for Mostley Crue. “It will be a lot of fun and will be a great night if the weather is perfect.”

    Based out of Raleigh, Mostley Crue started about 13 years ago and currently has four members and a growing following.

    “They are there to laugh and have a great time,” he said. “The band we are playing with, we are great friends, they are a great band and, in the music community, a lot of the community is like family, we support each other.”
    Shoot To Thrill, another Raleigh native, consists of five members and is an all women rock band covering AC/DC that has been around for the last eight years. Shoot To Thrill is known for their fun stage show that incorporates the

    “Even though we like to dress up, rock out and put on a show, we really like to play well,” said Wendy Brancaccio of Shoot To Thrill. “We are so excited … it was so fun when we played two years ago.”

    The Rock’n On The River events will feature food and drinks for purchase at the venue.

    “Deep Creek Grill is the partner that will offer different diner type foods like barbecue, hotdogs, the typical southern diner food,” Adair said. “This is also a Healy sponsored event, and they will be selling beer, four different types of beer and drinks. No outside food or drinks will be allowed.”

    Rock’n On The River began in 2018 when Adair felt the need for a local event for the people of Fayetteville.

    “I just found the place down there and wanted to bring the river back, it wasn't being utilized the way it should and it's a really pretty place,” he said.

    The music series will feature other bands like Reflections II, Trial by Fire, Heart Breaker, Joyner Young & Marie and more for the rest of the season.

    “It's a great set up that gives a chance for a lot of new people to discover bands that may not have seen or go to see usually,” Koempel said. “It's a win situation for the vendors, the event, the bands and people.”

    Parking for the show begins at 5 p.m. and costs $3 per person in any vehicle. Food and beverage sales also begin at 5 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring their chairs and blankets. No pets are allowed at the event.

    For more information, line-up updates on Rock’n On The River, visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/Rockn-On-The-River-271048666818630

    10 Crue and Thrill







    May 21
    6 p.m. Mostley Crue (Motley Crue Tribute)
    8:15 p.m Shoot To Thrill (AC/DC Tribute)
    June 18
    6 p.m. Reflections II (variety)
    8:15 p.m. Trial By Fire (Journey Tribute)
    July 16
    6p.m. Joyner, Young & Marie (Pop/Variety)
    8:15 p.m. Heart Breaker (Heart Tribute)
    Aug. 27
    6 p.m. Throwback Collaboration Band (R&B/Dance)
    8:15 p.m. North Tower (Beach/Boogie)
    Sept. 17
    6 p.m. Cool Heat (Variety/Beach/Dance)
    8:15 p.m. Bad Inc. (Bad Company Tribute)
    Oct. 22
    6 p.m. Rivermist (Classic Rock/Variety/ R&B)
    8:15 p.m. Tuesday's Gone (Skynyrd Tribute)

  • 04 210506 A OP908 0793sOn a normal day at Camp Mackall, hundreds of soldiers seeking to join the elite ranks of Army Special Operations, are running, rucking, climbing and utilizing logic and intelligence to solve problems. On May 6, things looked a little different as the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s Family Programs hosted a Spouse Q-Course, which brought the spouses of Special Operations soldiers, cadre and students to the training ground to walk a mile or two in their soldiers’ boots.

    Dee Ann Rader, the Family Resiliency Coordinator for Family Programs, greeted the spouses with a big smile. “This is going to be a great day,” said Rader. “Nothing but good vibes today. I know the spouses are going to have a great day, and that the SWCS cadre will do a great job.”

    Rader’s enthusiasm was matched by the spouses who came in groups and began to mingle immediately. The spouses were excited and their energy filled the room. “This is really a great day to have this event,” continued Rader. “Tomorrow (Friday, May 7) is Military Souse Appreciation Day — so we couldn’t have chosen a better day.”

    The event is one of many family events that is funded by One Team. One Team is an Army funded inclusive program intended to fill in gaps in readiness of SWCS student spouses and families, with the goal of providing resources, training, connections and mentorship to build a firm foundation of knowledge, strength and resiliency as they move forward in the Special Operations community.

    The group was welcomed to Camp Mackall by Maj. Jacob Wachob, acting commander of 1st Bn., 1st Special Warfare Training Group. 1st Battalion is in charge of ARSOF Selection and Assessments, as well as the qualification courses for Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations and Special Forces.

    “We hope this will be a fun and educational day for you,” he said. “You are going to face some challenges, try some good food and have the opportunity to see and do things that you have not done before. Bite off what you can chew — figuratively and literally — and we hope you have a great day.”

    “Nasty Nick” is the world-famous obstacle course that stretches across Camp Mackall. Prior to beginning their day, the spouses watched a video that describes the course. Looking across the room, the spouses looked on in trepidation, but also in excitement.

    “You are going to get to do things today that most people won’t ever get to do. The obstacle course assess your strength, agility and forces you to conquer your fears,” a member of the cadre explained.

    Prior to tackling the obstacle course, the spouses spent time at the SERE Compound. SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) is a training program that prepares U.S. military personnel, Department of Defense civilians and contractors to survive and "return with honor” should they ever be captured by enemy forces.

    At the SERE compound, the spouses were divided into teams — much like the small teams Army Special Operations Soldiers operate in while deployed — to move through various areas of the training, including weapons, trapping and survival techniques. They also had a chance to check out the “Road Kill Café.”

    At the trapping location, spouses learned how soldiers were trained to find water and food if they were ever caught behind enemy lines. A member of the cadre explained that students are taught to focus on protein, noting that students are taught about animals that they can find in various areas of the world, and were shown number of ways of trapping an animal using things you find around you like a rock or string. He explained that a soldier may set 12 traps, but percentage wise would only get one hit, noting that they are looking for smaller animals such as squirrels, rabbits and even rats.

    Jessica, whose husband is in the Civil Affairs Qualification Course, signed up for the event because she “wanted to see first-hand what her husband was going through” so she could “relate to the stories “ her husband shared with her about his training. “This gives me perspective on what he is doing, and I can understand what he is talking about.”

    At the weapons station, they learned that weapons can be made from just about anything, including rocks and sticks. They were given the opportunity to use a couple of the weapons, the first, called a “rabbit stick,” is quite literally a heavy stick that is thrown in a lateral movement at a small animal. The next weapon was a man-made spear that was launched with an atlatl, which is a tool that uses leverage to achieve great velocity.

    Elle, a vivacious brunette, was the first to jump at the chance to throw the rabbit stick. Her throw was not on the mark — or even near it — but she laughed at how bad her throw was. “My husband is in the Special Forces Qualification Course, and when I heard about this, I jumped because I wanted to understand more about what my husband was doing. By doing this, I can connect on a different level having seen for myself what he talks about. I really never thought I would have the opportunity to do this.”

    Jamie’s husband has been in the Army 8 years, and is now in the SFQC. “This is the first time I’ve gotten to see Camp Mackall and having the opportunity to experience new thing and meet new people sounded great to me. It is also pretty neat to learn how make a weapon from thing you pick up off the ground.”

    While most of the attendees were not successful with the atlatl, Jewels, a former soldier, and athlete, hit the target dead center multiple times. “I’m really interested in what he has been doing, and while I am prior military it’s cool to see the SOF side of the house. This is a good group of women, and we are having a lot of fun together.”

    The bonding of spouses is one of the goals of Family Programs. Carolyn Roberson, the Senior Advisor to Family Programs, is the spouse of Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, the SWCS Commander. Having lived the Army life, Carolyn explained that the bonds between military spouses are important, particularly when soldiers are deployed or away at training. She noted that having a support system of people who know what you are going through is key to navigating Army life. Having helped plan the event, she was excited to see the bonds that were formed by the spouses and their willingness to try new things and tackle obstacles.

    Prior to leaving the SERE area, the attendees had a chance to taste the offerings of the “Road Kill Café.” The day’s menu was comprised of beaver, otter, goat, deer and raccoon that was cooked by the cadre. The majority of the spouses at least took a bite or two of the offerings, with one woman noting that it “wasn’t that bad.”

    Elia is a native of Colombia, but her husband is a Special Forces Medic, who previously served in 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), but is now an instructor at the Special Warfare Medical Group, which trains ARSOF medics.

    “When we were in Colombia, I didn’t get to see or know much about what he did and didn’t have the opportunity to see it,” she said. “So I wanted to come out and see and learn.”

    The excitement grew as the six teams approached Nasty Nick. While some of the attendees were hesitant as they approached the obstacle course, Aisha grew more excited. “Specifically, I wanted to see these obstacles.”

    She not only saw them, she also got a chance to climb them, cross them and vault across them (the vault wasn’t very successful); however, the teams came together to lift, push and pull one another across – which is symbolic of the way spouses support one another while their soldiers are deployed: They come together as “one team.”

    (All photos by K. Kassens, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.)

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  • warfighter health symposiumThe Task Force Dagger Special Operations Foundations and the Hunterseven Foundation are coming together to host the Warfighter Health Symposium on May 18. The interactive event is designed to educate service members and veterans on the importance of understanding military exposures as they relate to wellness.

    The educational discussion is free, however, those wanting to attend should register ahead of time as there are only 200 spots available.

    The information presented in this symposium includes military situational awareness, understanding your operational environment, top toxic exposures, and health concerns in military veterans. As well as published academic research conducted by the HunterSeven medical team, other topics presented include identifying gaps in healthcare provider knowledge as it relates to veteran health care, preventative measures, and being proactive in your healthcare while in and out of service.

    This event is for ages 18 and up. The content presented in this symposium is for those who are active military, veterans, their families, medical providers and congressional legislators. There will be Q & A time, a networking session and food and drinks available.

    There will be a variety of presenters including Army Master Sgt. Geoff Dardia, a Green Beret; former Army Sgt. Chelsey Poisson, a registered nurse; June Heston, wife of Brigadier General Michael Heston; and video testimonies of veterans dealing with health issues. A video from North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis will also be shown during the event.

    The Warfighter Health Symposium will take place from 6-9 p.m. on May 18 at Studio 15 located at 215 Williams St. in Fayetteville. For more information and to register for the event visit the website https://bit.ly/WarfighterHealthNC.

  • nerd marketIt’s time to put on your favorite superhero outfit because the Cool Spring Downtown District is hosting its first-ever Nerd Market on May 15 from noon until 4 p.m.

    “The Nerd Market will be a place where you can find DC and Marvel memorabilia, artists selling their work, and so much more,” said Lauren Falls, the director of marketing and events for Cool Spring Downtown District.

    Adults and kids of all ages are invited to take part in the opportunity to shop and support the local nerd/comic con community.

    “This is a family-friendly event and free to the public. We will have a food truck, DJ and a cosplay contest that you can enter to win a prize,” Falls sad.

    The Nerd Market will be held at 301 Hay Street in Fayetteville. Those interested in entering the cosplay costume contest can register online. For more information and sign up please visit https://bit.ly/NerdMarketDowntownFay.

  • 05 mil vet kittenCumberland County Animal Services is collaborating with Fort Bragg veterinarians to perform vital surgical procedures on shelter animals. Working alongside Animal Services employees military veterinarians are volunteering their time to spay and neuter shelter dogs and cats to get them ready for adoption. Veterinarians also perform the same service for some of the feral cats that are part of the department’s Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release program. The program is the most effective and humane option for reducing community cat populations around the county.

    “Not having our own clinic and getting access to surgery and just hands-on practice for our technicians and doctors can be challenging,” said Maj. Renee Krebs, DVM, Clinical Specialist with the 248th Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support. “It’s so beneficial for us and we really enjoy helping out the shelter.” Once the animals are taken in for surgery, they are placed under anesthesia by trained staff, who also monitor the animals during their surgery and throughout their recovery.

    “We appreciate all the help we get from the Fort Bragg Veterinary Services,” said Animal Services Director Elaine Smith. “They greatly expand our capacity to provide quality care for these animals. They also help us get animals ready for adoption much more quickly, so they don’t have to spend extra days here at the shelter. It’s also great to see the extra experience these veterinarians get so they can keep their surgical skills at the highest level.”

    To learn more about the services Animal Services provides, visit their website at co.cumberland.nc.us/animal-services, call 910-321-6852 or visit www.facebook.com/CumberlandCountyAnimalShelter.

    Pictured Above: Maj. Eileen Jenkins, a veterinarian with the 248th Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support comforts a kitten in this ile photo. (U.S. Army Photo by Dustin D. Biven)

  • 02 churchIt’s that most wonderful time of year again, when the current temporary members of the Fayetteville City Council are tempted to sell the rights to the Public Works Commission for thirty years. In return, the Council will get a mess of pottage in a secret financial story of Biblical proportions.

    This time the would-be buyer is an investment outfit from Louisiana called Bernhard Capital Partners. Let’s call this firm Bernie to keep things simple. The Fayetteville City Council will play the role of Esau. Bernie will take the role of Jacob. PWC will inhabit the role of Birthright in this story.

    Ponder the story of Jacob and Esau from the Bible to see how this fits the City Council’s current flirtation with selling PWC to some out of towners for some fast cash.

    Jacob and Esau were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was born first which gave him the Birthright. This was a big deal in Hebrew times as the first born got the best parts of the family inheritance. Jacob grabbed Esau’s ankle in an effort to be born first. However, Esau emerged first securing his claim to the Birthright.

    Years later, Esau had been out in the fields. He came home hungry as a starving bear. Jacob, being a homebody, had cooked up a mess of red pottage which is what they used to call stew. Jacob, sensing an investment opportunity, refused to give Esau any of the pottage unless Esau swapped his Birthright for a bowl of pottage. Esau’s blood sugar was way down which caused him not to think clearly. Choosing immediate gratification over the delayed version, Jacob agreed to swap his Birthright for the mess of pottage.

    The deal was done. No birthright for Esau. It was a sweet deal for Jacob who was just out a bowl of stew.

    So how does this story fit our very own City Council and its interest in selling PWC as an indentured servant for 30 years to some strangers? Apparently, the City Council was working out a double secret deal like the Manhattan Project with Bernie to sell off PWC. The Raleigh News & Observer spilled the beans in a story on April 13 blowing the cover off the negotiations of the proposed 30 years of PWC wandering in the wilderness under the tender mercies of an out of state company.

    Turns out there is a non-disclosure agreement between the City Council, PWC and Bernie so the full details aren’t available to the roughly 140,000 electric, water and sewer customers of PWC.

    As the Church Lady used to say, “Well, isn’t that convenient?” At the time of the writing of this column, the NDA was still in place and the details were still double secret. The News & Observer report said Bernie had offered $750 million to the City for the PWC rights for the next 30 years.

    If the opening offer was $750 million, you know that the rights are worth far more than that amount.

    PWC has been around since 1905. It is owned by the city of Fayetteville which means the citizens of Fayetteville. It has received numerous awards for being well run and providing excellent service to our citizens.

    In the interest of full disclosure, my father E.H. Dickey was an electrical engineer for PWC for many years. He was one of those guys who got up in the middle of the night during storms to get the power back on. There are a lot of those guys at PWC who get up in the middle of the night to keep things running. They are local. Having local guys who live here take care of things here is a good thing. No one in Louisiana currently decides when to do maintenance in Fayetteville.

    Under Bernie, that could change. Deferring maintenance is way absentee owners make more money. Do you want to trust an absentee owner to decide whether to spend money to maintain PWC’s equipment? I don’t.

    All this comes under the heading of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Bernie may be wonderful. I don’t know. I do know PWC ain’t broke. Why gamble?

    The makeup of the City Council is temporary. Council members come and go. Fayetteville’s citizens outlast councils. PWC has been run by local citizens since 1905 unless the Council decides to sell it into indentured servitude. The temptation for the current Council to sell PWC is going to be great. The Council would have a slush fund of $750 million to spend on all sorts of favorite ideas. How long do you think it would be until they spent that pile of money on pet projects? The current Council will be out of office, the pile of money will be gone, and Bernie down on the bayou will be setting our rates, deciding on maintenance, and putting us on voice mail before you can say “Oops!”

    It was not a good idea to kill the Golden Goose to get her golden eggs. Indenturing PWC for 30 years to get PWC’s Golden Eggs today will be a decision we will all regret later. PWC is Fayetteville’s Birthright.

    It’s your hometown utility. Tell the City Council not to trade 30 years of PWC for a mess of pottage. Tell your City Council to tell Bernie thanks, but no thanks.

  • 10 Yolanda Burse artist WakandaThe Culture and Heritage Alliance will host the “NC Wakanda Gala” on May 15 from 6-10 p.m. at the Volta Space downtown, which is located at 116 Person St.

    The event will feature a variety of art, music, dancing and more. Attendees are encouraged to wear their “Wakanda” themed or African outfits.

    “We are having fun with it,” said Kelly, the vice president for the Culture and Heritage Alliance. “There will be three artists there, we’ll have African drums, dancing, local artists, there will be African food. The Gala will feature artists like Matthew Mercer, Kognoscenti, Yolanda Burse amongst others.”

    Drinks and mingling will begin at 6 p.m., and customers will be served African hors d'oeuvres.

    Mercer, an artist who specializes in comic books, will be offering some “Black Panther” artwork for viewing and purchase.

    The Gala will observe COVID precautions, allowing up to 75 people, and temperatures will be taken at the door.

    “The Alliance promotes peace, culture in our community and all of North Carolina,” Kelly said. “We promote dance performances, culture exhibitions, storytelling to inform others of the customs, culture and traditions of all indigenous people and that’s native American, Latino, African and so much more.”

    Located at 105 Person St., the Alliance started 15 years ago and hosts events like the African World Peace Festival, the NC African Film Festival, Salsa & Swing Nights, Celebration of African Culture and workshops throughout the year.

    The Salsa & Swing event is free to the public, happening every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Volta Space. Donations are welcome and go towards the Heritage and Culture Alliance, Kelly mentioned.

    “People don’t know how much diversity is in our area, so we bring that forth and bring that out, people can see that there is diversity,” she said.

    “Everyone loves African art, but where can you get it? Is it online but you can talk to us and we’ll find someone for you.”

    Tickets prices for the “NC Wakanda Gala” are $25 single and $40 for a couple and can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com/e/nc-wakanda-gala-culture-heritage-alliance-tickets-151006994987?aff=efbeventtix&fbclid=IwAR30FZbXELJKNcg6UH4oft8FW--9LID5GZ38FEtySbtAv3aRrAXcED6AzYw

    To learn more about the Alliance, visit www.cultureandhertiagealliance.org

    Pictured Above: The Gala feature works by artists Yolanda Burse (above) and Mathew Mercer, who will dislay "Black Panther" themed works. (Photos Courtesy the Culture and Hertiage Alliance). 

  • 11 Fay area Trans MuseumThe Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum opened Literary Fayetteville: Pages of Our Past, a new exhibit that showcases books from the late 18th century to the mid-20th century.

    These books tell the story of Fayetteville’s past through pamphlets, stories, diaries, familiy bibles and more.

    “This exhibit has never been done before,” said Museum Director Bruce Daws. “We picked a timeline, and discussed what to showcase within that frame.”

    The exhibit features over 50 books and pamphlets, each with a unique story and connection to Fayetteville.

    Each book within the exhibit is numbered and there are binders provided that contain the information and background for each book displayed.

    The exhibit also examines Fayetteville's authors, book dealers and libraries. It breaks down the importance of books and how they related to social life in the early 1900s.

    Literary Fayetteville: Pages of Our Past is not just an interesting learning experience for the family, it also provides knowledge to both historians and book collectors. Book collectors can learn what makes a book valuable, and factors relating to the care and condition of a book. Historians can learn the backgrounds of previously unknown books.

    This exhibit provides information that is not only interesting to Fayetteville locals but also fills in the gaps for history buffs.

    One of the pieces that stand out is number 49, which is the diary of Elizabeth Poe as it was kept from 1903 to 1909. She was one of the last of the Poe’s to live in Fayetteville’s E. A. Poe House, now a museum on Arsenal Avenue. This diary allows viewers to step back in time and experience Fayetteville’s life and society through the words of a young woman living in that time.

    The free exhibit was opened to the public on April 23. Depending on the popularity of the exhibit, the Museum will determine if it will remain open for six months or a year.

    The exhibit is a family-friendly environment with something for all ages.

    The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum is located at 325 Franklin St. and offers tours of several different historical monuments, the museum and the museum’s annex. Museum hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    For more information about tours and schedules visit their website www.fcpr.us/facilities/museums/fayetteville-area-transportation-and-local-history-museum or call 910-433-1457.


  • 12 10North Carolina USA Boxing presents their 1st annual Carolina Gloves Boxing Tournament May 14 through Sunday, May 16 at Freedom Courts Sportsplex.

    Tournament sessions for Saturday are scheduled to begin at noon and 6:00 p.m. Championships will take place Sunday at noon.

    “We wanted an event that we could grow every year and it had to be branded with the Carolina Gloves name on it,” said Patrick Finklin, tournament director and president of NC Amateur Boxing.

    “We decided to have a boxing tournament in Fayetteville because it is the center of the hub of North Carolina.”

    Finklin added that after COVID-19 many boxers are hungry to start boxing again.

    Boxing is a positive intervention that has been proven to help at-risk and troubled youth stay on the right path.

    “It is an outlet and a lot of gyms in the United States use it to keep kids out of trouble,” said Finklin.

    “They see Floyd Mayweather as well as other well-known boxers and their goal is to become one of them because it is not just always about basketball and football.”

    Boxing can be a platform to not only give kids a positive outlet, but also encourage a long-term commitment to the sport.

    “I was too short for basketball and too small for football,” said Juan Verdejo, who started boxing in his teens. Now 34, Verdejo serves as the head boxing coach at Burgess Boxing & Fitness in Spring Lake. “I think boxing is a way of life.”

    The tournament is a way to bring boxers from area clubs together and promote the sport, Verdejo said.

    “This event will help bring awareness, be entertaining and help build up local youth,” Verdejo said.

    The tournament is open to the public and local audiences can also expect to see talent from across the country compete.

    “Right now we have people registered from California, Florida, New York and Ohio that are coming to participate in the tournament, said Finklin. “We are expecting about 300 boxers to show up in Fayetteville from 8 years old to 70 years old.”

    Being a great boxer requires a lot of training, skills and endurance. It takes 4 months to a year to train for a big fight.

    “The characteristics of a great boxer are being motivated, having great mental and physical discipline, perseverance and the determination to get better,” said Finklin.

    “Their training entails stretching, muscle memory, running, sparring, fighting and competing.”

    He added, “They start off as a novice which is 0-10 fights and once they get more than 10 fights they are in an open division. Every boxer’s main goal is to make the United States Olympic Team and afterwards to become pro.”

    “We have about 6 gyms in the Fayetteville and Spring Lake area and we have boxers from all over the country coming in,” said Finklin. “If you have students who are in the boxing gym come on out and support the event because those students will be at the tournament.”

    Prizes for the winners of the tournament include a Championship Belt and bragging rights for the 1st place winner and a medal for the 2nd place winner.

    “We want to bring some exposure of amateur boxing to North Carolina because there are a lot of people who don’t even know that it exists,” said Finklin. “We wanted to create an outlet for people to be able to be excited about and come out to watch.”

    All boxers and coaches must check-in Friday, May 14 from 12-6:00 p.m. General admission is $15 and $10 with a student ID. The event is open to the public. For more information call 910-309-6956 or visit www.ncusaboxing.net

    Pictured Above: Head boxing coach Juan Verdejo (center giving thumbs up) will be coaching boxers from Burgess Noxing and Fitness in the 1st Carolina Gloves Boxing Tournament. (photo courtesy Burgess Boxing & Fitness). 

  • 03 vote verticalIn 2006/7, I led the opposition to an effort to restructure the Fayetteville City Council. I was wrong. Vote Yes Fayetteville is a current attempt to change the Council make-up from nine single member districts to five single and four at-large seats. This is an opportunity for correcting a serious past failing, and I am taking it. I will do all that I can to help achieve this restructuring.

    In 2006, I attended a meeting where several speakers made the case that the proposed referendum to change the Council structure would dilute Black representation on the Council. In that meeting, I agreed to lead an effort opposing the referendum. I did so even though I had signed the petition calling for the referendum.

    My mind was changed because I accepted the argument that Black citizens face some challenges that are best understood by other Blacks. In addition, when looking at voting patterns in the city, it was clear that white citizens primarily voted for white candidates. This voting pattern brought in the likelihood that there was a racism component at work. There was also the consideration that running at-large is more expensive than competing in a single district and that would be a hindrance for Black candidates.

    In the end, on February 6, 2007, the referendum passed and the process of implementing the new structure started. However, the U.S. Justice Department had authority to reverse the decision of Fayetteville voters and did so. The Justice Department concluded that that the 6-3 plan could negatively affect minority voting. That is, make the election of minority candidates less likely.

    Opposing passage of the restructuring resolution gave our group members far better insight into the issues affecting all Fayetteville citizens, but especially Black residents. More clearly, we saw the societal and political blind spots: areas that needed to be addressed, but with different approaches and attitudes from what was the norm. For this reason, what had been the referendum opposition organization, “NO 2,” became the Fayetteville Area Coalition for Equality (FAYCE). I was elected chairman of the new organization.

    The focus of FAYCE was on the needs of Black residents while endeavoring to have local governments treat all residents fairly and equally. It is absolutely critical to understand that it was not our aim to have any group(s) of Fayetteville citizens given attention to the detriment of any other group(s). Even though our focus was on issues affecting Black citizens, the aim was fair and equal treatment for all.

    FAYCE had a clearly defined approach for pursuing our overall aim. Gathering facts and examining those facts, before taking a position on any issue, was central to that approach. There was also commitment to detailed planning for any project or action.

    Our commitment to these principles showed through in the structure of our meetings, in how we addressed difficult issues, in developing a candidates’ guide for the 2007 municipal election, and sponsoring candidates’ forums for that election. In line with our desire to get facts and thoughtful responses and to accurately and productively inform citizens, we provided forum questions to the candidates in advance. In line with our approach, these forums were not about tripping anybody up; they were about informing citizens and encouraging reasoning over emotion.

    Into 2008, FAYCE was proving very effective in pursuing the organization’s goals. Then came the 2008 North Carolina presidential primary. Barack Obama received 9 out of 10 Black votes. Don Worthington, a reporter with The Fayetteville Observer, called and asked me what I thought about Blacks voting so overwhelmingly for Obama. He quoted me correctly as saying, “If nine out of 10 Blacks voted for Obama, they may be guilty of the same racism they accused whites of in the past.” The main argument in 2006, against restructuring the Council, was that since whites overwhelmingly voted for whites, that voting pattern indicated the presence of racism. Continuing that reasoning, why would Blacks voting overwhelmingly for a Black candidate not also raise the possibility of racism?

    Although there were some individuals who publicly agreed with what I said, the outrage in opposition was deafening. WIDU, a local radio station with a sizeable Black audience, was inundated with calls from people who were totally disgusted with my comment.

    The level of disgust was eye-opening for me. Then there was this statement written by someone on Ron Harrison’s blog: “…FAYCE flounders — and honestly, it was beginning to look like an organization that could positively influence the community … which befuddles me why Merritt opened his mouth in such a manner.” The clear message from the outrage and comments, such as the one quoted here, was that I should have been quiet regarding a condition I believed could prove dangerous and debilitating for this city and even the nation. That was not and is not my approach to leading or living. I resigned as chairman of FAYCE.

    The experience that I have reviewed to this point caused a major revamping of the framework within which I do my thinking. For instance, there was a time when, if the government said something was true, I accepted it without question; I was inclined to, without detailed examination, accept claims of racism as true; I believed that the vast majority of politicians were committed to doing what was good for all Americans; did not give extensive attention to the political process, governmental policies, or fiscal considerations. Every one of these components, and more, of my framework for thinking has shifted 180 degrees.

    Against this backdrop, here is how I now assess Vote Yes Fayetteville. The 5/4 restructuring is required because the current structure of nine single member districts is doing exactly what, in 2006, those of us who opposed that restructuring claimed would happen if it were instituted; except, in 2021, the racial impact is reversed. In 2006, there were more white residents than Black. That is no longer the case. Eight of the 10 members of Council are Black and, during elections, indications are that Black citizens overwhelmingly vote for viable Black Democratic candidates. Applying the racism argument made in 2006/7 by those of us who opposed restructuring, and by the U.S. Justice Department in overruling the will of Fayetteville voters, the current Council structure requires some effort to even the playing field for white citizens.

    Another point of opposition being raised again is that it is more expensive to run at-large than in a district and this puts Black candidates at a disadvantage. One response to this claim is to point to Blacks who are currently serving in at-large positions, such as: sheriff, chairman of the County Commission, and Clerk of Court.
    In terms of fairness and equal treatment of all, the impact on white citizens of this at-large cost argument demands attention. It says to white citizens who have financial means, “You are able to provide substantial financial support to candidates or to your personal campaign; consequently, we must maintain a system that prevents you from participating in the political process in a manner equal to all other citizens.” This is totally unfair and certainly smells like discrimination.

    There also seems to be greater attention to issues championed by Black residents than to those affecting all citizens of the city. The first of these regards the Market House; despite its otherwise very positive historical significance, because slaves were sold there, Council is giving significant attention to what might be done to quell outrage from some Black citizens and an undetermined number of white citizens. Of equal high priority with Council is satisfying demands for a citizens police review board that would have access to records and information that are not now publically available.

    While there is tremendous focus on these two issues, the weightier responsibilities of local government are getting far less attention than is necessary or reasonably expected by the general public. Among these are understaffing of the police department, rising crime rates, failure to protect property during a season of protesting/rioting/looting, not proactively promoting economic development, questionable handling of infrastructure needs, and, in general, conducting city affairs in a fashion that divides rather than unifies citizens.

    The negative consequences of the picture painted here are many, but the loss of white residents is one deserving of serious consideration by those who might oppose Vote Yes Fayetteville. Since 2000, maybe before, the white population of Fayetteville has been in decline. If this restructuring and other fairness/equalizing actions are not taken, Fayetteville will experience the same terrifying quality of life decline as other cities that followed our current course. Consider Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles and so forth.

    At the bottom line, I contend that if this effort to restructure the Fayetteville City Council fails, it will show us to be a city where white citizens are treated unfairly, the primary indicator of racism in voting only applies to whites, and we are willing to protect these conditions at the cost of a dramatic decline in our quality of life.

    Support Vote Yes Fayetteville.

  • 04 new chmaber pres copyThe Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce announced that Sharon Fiveash was selected as the new President and CEO. The Chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve Fiveash for the position following a nationwide search. “We had many strong candidates from throughout the country. Sharon Fiveash was the ideal choice,” said Brian Pearce, Chair of the Chamber’s Board. Fiveash has served numerous chambers including those in Lexington, Kentucky., Branson and Chillicothe, Missouri, and South Windsor, Connecticut. Pearce said Fiveash brings more than 30 years of diverse business experience combined with experience in marketing, sales, fundraising, economic development and lobbying to Fayetteville.

    Pictured Above: Sharon Fiveash 

  • 06 staff poseWhile many small businesses in the area faced challenges during the pandemic year, some entrepreneurs saw opportunities to adapt, survive and even thrive. Such is the case for Angie Toman, owner of Living Balance Studios, a local wellness and fitness boutique.

    Living Balance opened its store front as a private-instruction only studio in Fayetteville in 2013, but Toman had been offering lessons since 2001. When the pandemic hit, Toman was able to host online classes.

    Due to her ingenuity and dedication to serving her clients, Toman not only adapted her business to survive COVID-19 restrictions, but is now able to expand her business.
    On May 15, Living Balance Studios will host a grand re-opening of sorts, with additional space to meet customer needs. The public is invited to the free event scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 201 S McPherson Church Road, to enjoy a sampling of classes offered at the studio. There will be raffle prizes, nutrition and wellness consultations, and more.

    Hobby to Career

    Toman is a former trial lawyer turned health and wellness teacher who began her journey in yoga and Pilates back in the early 90’s to help with her migraines, a result of her stressful work life.

    “At the time, no one in town was teaching yoga in my part of Florida, so I basically started watching videos and training myself, and it wasn’t too hard given that I had a dance background,” Toman said. “It was fun, a hobby on the side.”

    After moving to Fayetteville in August of 2000, she became a stay-at-home mom.

    “I wasn’t good at just staying home and I started getting very antsy,” she recalls. “I was looking for something to do and a local gym started offering yoga classes, so a friend of mine recommended me to teach yoga and Pilates.”

    After teaching for a while, her students requested private lessons, which led her to offering lessons out of her home or client’s homes.

    “I started doing that and from then it was kind of word of mouth,” Toman said.

    “A student told a friend, and a friend told a friend and in a year or two I was basically this travelling yoga show.”

    Toman moved to D.C. and continued her business there before returning to Fayetteville in 2010. After divorce, she had to figure out if she was going to make this hobby her career. Her family and friends thought she was crazy not to go back to practicing law where she could make a lot more money, she said.

    “I liked being a lawyer, being a trial attorney, I liked the energy of that, I enjoyed the adrenaline rush, but I knew it wasn't the type of job for me if I wanted to be present with my kids and create my own schedule,” Toman said.

    “So, I decided I was going to give it a shot. I told my family I was going to give it five years, and if I can’t support my family then I’ll go back to being a lawyer.”

    Thriving during a pandemic

    Living Balance began in 2013 with five to seven instructors who taught private lessons. Class space increased from one studio to two within two years after opening, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Toman really considered expanding the business.

    During the pandemic, most of their clients continued lessons online when the studio was closed, so the business survived the financial pinch many small businesses in the area felt.

    “About 75 percent of our clientele stayed with us,” Toman said. “Some bought two to three packages ahead of time to help us keep the cash flow, so I was able to pay rent, pay my instructors.”

    Hosting online classes during the last year also allowed her to continue classes with clients who were out of town or on vacation,
    she said.

    Toman decided to open a bigger space and offer group classes. With some local yoga studios permanently closing their doors during the pandemic year, she had the opportunity to ask those owners for their top yoga instructors.

    “Because there were so many instructors who were suddenly out of work, I was able to really pick the best ones for my team,” she said.

    Toman looked for instructors with more in-depth training than basic yoga certification, those working therapeutically with clients who had injuries, health concerns and those who didn’t feel comfortable for any reason mentally or physically.

    “I was specific about who I hired, how they were trained, and spent time observing private classes to understand the attention to detail that comes with a private class,” Toman said.

    With expansion, Toman was worried that she wouldn’t have time to teach and would become more of an administrator, which led her to making her two lead instructors managers.

    Jessica Laird runs social media and marketing, while Vicky Greene runs all the administrative day-to-day things that come up, allowing Toman time to lead some classes.

    “I know what my passion is, it’s teaching and watching people grow in their practice, and watching it change their life, whether it's physically, mental or spiritually,” Toman said.

    Health Benefits

    “Pilates is all about core strength, your abdominal strength, your back strength,” Toman said. “So many people have back issues - as opposed to taking a pill for the pain, Pilates is a great place to strengthen all those muscles, it gives you support,” she said.

    Most clients who do Pilates find that it’s a strong workout, it’s a hard workout, but they feel good afterwards and it’s low impact, she mentioned.

    A yogi of 27 years, Toman likes to run, life weights and do aerobics as well, but yoga is the main thing that keeps her body moving and
    in shape.

    “It’s so good for your joints, your muscles, it allows you to keep moving,” she said.

    Toman emphasized the benefits of yoga and centering yourself in the stressful environment of the pandemic.

    “I find myself in the morning just doing five or 10 minutes of yoga, it gets me mentally ready for the day, it’s such a stress reliever,”
    she said.

    Dream Come True

    “A year ago in March, this was not even on my radar,” she said. “It's been a whirlwind of a year, it's been wonderful, people ask me if I am stressed but I am not stressed, I am busy.”

    The pandemic and lockdown worked in favor of the studio, giving them the chance to focus and get construction done and conduct a soft open on March 22.

    “Everything has fallen into place, like I am doing what I was supposed to be doing,” she said.

    “My kids say ‘you’re so lucky to love what you’re doing every day,’ but I say the idea behind this started in 2001 and we are in 2021 — it’s been a 20-year process, it didn’t happen overnight,” Toman said.

    The mission behind the launch of Living Balance Studios was to have the place become a sanctuary for everyone that entered, she said. “I want this place to be where people can let go of their world and be taken care of,” she said.

    Grand Opening and Beyond

    Living Balance Studios will be expanding in the same building but will now see larger studio spaces, going from 1500 to 4,300 square feet in the building, which was formerly Morgan’s Chop House. They will now have 26 coaches on their team.

    The Grand Opening will offer free classes in four studios. Classes are expected to fill up quickly, so get there early to sign up for slots. For a detailed schedule of classes, visit www.livingbalancestudiosnc.com/grand-opening 

    “We will be offering lectures and discussions on health, wellness and all our services, where people can be educated about them,” Toman said. Hayat from Hayat Yoga Shala (one of the yoga businesses that closed last year) will be a keynote instructor.

    Raffle tickets will be available for purchase to bid on different items like a 25-class-pass, an Apple Crate Basket, massage therapy gift certificates, wellness coaching gift certificates and more. Classes will be free, but donations will be accepted to benefit The Better Health Organization of Cumberland County and The Children’s Advocacy Center.

    The Grand Opening will highlight a sampling of what Living Balance Studios will offer: yoga, Pilates, life and wellness, nutrition, counselling, yoga assist massage, reiki and more.

    “The nutrition coach will help guide your grocery shopping, go through your pantry, the life and wellness training focuses on lifestyle and living healthier, yoga assist massage, a form of Thai massage, where the client lies on the floor and I passively put them in different yoga poses. While they are in that pose, I am doing pressure points and massage on their body. We have got reiki services which are energy healing,” Toman said.

    The studio will be offering workshops this summer on meditation workshops, chakra, hula hoop. Information will be listed on their website.

    Living Balance also offers free Karma Yoga workshops every Thursday for the community at 6 p.m.

    “One thing we are known for is being very detail oriented, we have a great reputation, trying to take care of the clients,” Toman said. “Even though we have a lot more people now I want it to be that experience.”

    Pictured Above: Living Balance Studios was able to expand their space in the last year and hire additional instructors (above). Their grand opening on May 15 will hilight available classes to include restorative yoga & riki, hot yoga, pilates, as well as forums such as healthy eating and Chakras 101. 

  • 01 Crime Stoppers LogoWell, now that our Hometown Utility PWC has ceased negotiations with Bernhard Capital, Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin and his cabal may be back to the drawing board for an alternative plan to raid the coffers of one of the most caring, well-managed and efficient utility companies in the state.

    On two fronts, the entire ordeal of the prospect of allowing an equity firm with no utility experience to take over the management or our local utility was the near-perfect example of how the lack of transparency in local government can impact a community.

    One: lack of transparency allows unpopular and unsavory schemes to hatch.

    Two: When there is openness in government, it enables local media to report news and provide detailed information to the general public, keeping them informed on issues and situations that affect taxpayers' livelihoods and quality of life.

    Transparency encourages elected officials to justify their actions. Free speech and transparency in government are vitally important in maintaining a free democracy. Of course, it helps when local elected officials care more about their constituents than they do themselves. In our community, it's sadly becoming pretty apparent they do not.

    Those who care about the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community and its residents get involved with the community. Two recent Fayetteville events demonstrated this type of caring.

    The local Crime Stoppers organization cares about our law enforcement officers. Fayetteville Crime Stoppers recently launched a county-wide appreciation initiative where they began visiting law enforcement agencies in Fayetteville and Cumberland County to present officers a full dinner gift card from Chick-fil-A. It was made possible through the partnership and generosity of local businessman Tommy Arnold, owner of Chick-fil-A, and the dedication of the Crime Stoppers organization. The initiative was launched May 6 with a presentation to the Fayetteville City Police Department by Arnold, Fayetteville Crime Stoppers Chairman Dr. Eric See of Methodist University, and Duncan Hubbard of Holmes Electric. These Crime Stoppers supporters and volunteers are people, businesses and organizations that care, and the Fayetteville community is better and safer because of them.

    The Care Clinic on Robeson Street is another perfect example of a local organization dedicated to caring for the health and welfare of residents who cannot afford health insurance for medical and dental services. For over a quarter century, this invaluable and charitable non-profit organization has depended on a countless number of caring volunteers from all walks of life, funded only by generous donations and a few well-planned community events.

    One such event was also May 6, when they held their annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction at the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens. It was heartwarming to see the outpouring of community support for an organization that provides medical and dental services to residents free of charge. The event was a virtual "who's who" of caring residents, including Mike Nagowski, CEO of Cape Fear Valley Health Systems, and State Representative John Szoka. Unfortunately, conspicuously absent were members of our city and county management team and our elected officials. This was highly disappointing.

    You would think this would have been the perfect time to come and support the Care Clinic and the people that do so much work for our residents. Our local elected officials missed this opportunity while sending a message of apathy to their constituents. No doubt, if asked, everyone will have a grand excuse for not attending, but the fact remains — “actions will always speak louder than words.”

    Another saying our leadership should become familiar with: "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

    As a media source, we work with hundreds of people and dozens of great invaluable organizations covering all aspects of quality of life in Fayetteville — people and organizations that care. These people and organizations make our life better and our community pleasantly unique.

    We need leadership that respects, encourages and endorses those values. There is no hiding from the truth. Again, "actions will always speak louder than words."

    In the coming months, all residents must pay close attention to the actions of those who seek leadership positions in our community. Their track record will speak volumes on how much they care about the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • tribute 2I never truly understood the role of a mother until I lost my mother, Cora Jones, the night before Thanksgiving in 2007. I also lost the person who informed me of her death. My little sister, Chakita Jones, was murdered four days before her 26th birthday. My sister and mother were not perfect, but they did their best to give their kids the best. As a mother of seven, my sister gave her life to save her son’s life. When my sister was killed, she was shielding my nephew from bullets. During her last six months of life, my mother was more worried about me, Kita, and Josh than the fact that she was dying. Her biggest concern was making sure that I finished high school and enrolled in college. But, when Kita called me, my entire world changed. I had never experienced the death of a family member. When I lost my mother, I felt numb for months. When I lost my mom, I lost unconditional love. I lost my direction in life, motivation, and my will to continue with life. Yes, I had suicidal thoughts. While many will not admit it, this is a reality for many of us who have lost our mother. You will never get over it. Every year, I, like others, am reminded of the importance of a mother.

    Mother’s Day is bittersweet for those who do not physically have a mother. We take the time to reflect on the beautiful memories she left us. However, we are constantly wishing that we can have one more conversation. Everyday, I wish that I can go back to 1360 Davis Street and sit on the steps under the tree with my mom while she has a cold beer after a long day of work at the cleaners.

     On Mother’s Day, me and Kita would visit her gravesite and reflect. Now, Kita is gone and I have to visit two gravesites. When my mom passed away, Kita was that last living piece of her that I had. Kita was four years younger than me, and no matter how much we would argue, I always knew she was going to be there. She provided that unconditional love that I needed at a trying time. We did not judge each other. When she had my niece, I watched her grow from a girl to a woman fast. Though she was young, she understood that she had to care for this life she was bringing forth. As we grew older, Kita had more kids and loved each one equally. At the time of her death, she was the mother of seven beautiful children. Realistically, I was in no position to take on the responsibility of seven more kids alone. So, I am forever thankful to my cousins Brittany, Courtney, and Iesha for being there. These women along with all the other females in my family stepped into a void that was created by a senseless act of violence. Before my mom passed, she met this woman that lived across the street from my aunt and they became friends. Over the years, Kia grew to be more like family and would become grandmother to all 10 of my mother’s grandchildren. She does her best to be present for every special occasion concerning the kids, just as my mother would.

     I will never forget the day I told Kita and Kia I was about to have my first child. They acted as if they were more excited than me. However, nothing will ever top the moment that my kid’s mother jokingly threw two positive pregnancy tests on me and said “congratulations, you a daddy now.” I jumped out of the bed and grabbed her instantly. She made me the happiest man on earth and gave me a reason to push forward. I was already confident in her mothering skills because she had a child prior to us meeting. I was the one who had to learn how to be a parent. She was the greatest teacher. When my son was born, I was constantly wondering if I was doing the right thing. I would always ask questions like “can I hold him,” “how am I supposed to do this,” or “are you sure I’m not hurting him.” She would always laugh while she helped me and reassured me that the baby is good. Like many mothers, G has made sacrifices to ensure that me and my boys can have peace... and clean clothes. As a father, I must commend the mother of my children. She is a mother and business owner that loves to give back. Last summer, in the late stages of her pregnancy, she participated in marches and helped to serve the homeless at the Market House. Her maternal gifts allow me the opportunity to focus on providing for our family. There is no amount of gratitude that can be shown to express how I feel about her.

     She recently donated her time and hands to mothers that lost their sons in combat. Her company, Royal Stitches, provided handmade red, white and blue roses named American Flowers to veteran nonprofit Southern CC, Inc. as a part of their “Tribute to Gold Star Mothers.” CEO Tony Brown and his organization honored Gold Star Mothers with a day of pampering. Mothers received a makeover courtesy of Fusion Hair Salon. After receiving makeovers, the group of women were escorted to Pierro’s for dinner and Hummingbird to make candles. During dinner, the mothers were serenaded by Tony and a group of men. Before departing, each mother was given a gift bag that included American Flowers among other gifts donated by small businesses throughout the community.

     A mother is the most important person you have in your life. As men, we will never know what it is like to carry a child. Witnessing childbirth changed my life. I can only imagine how it feels to birth a child. But, women do it every day. So, salute to every mother. Happy Mother’s Day. Salute to every activist getting active. Peace.  


    Pictured below: (left) Author Rakeem Jones and his sister Chakita.  (right) Cora Jones, the author's mother.

    Photos courtesy of the author.

    Keem and Kita

    Keem Mom Cora Jones










  • 02 USCapitolFlagsHC1507 source 1Hip! Hip! Hooray! Yippee! Yippee!

    Something both positive and bipartisan is floating around in Congress, and it deserves robust discussion and serious consideration.

    I fell in love with civics in the 9th grade, and it has shaped my life. Civics is the study of how government works and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

    In an authoritarian system, civics is not so important, because the government is going to do what it wants no matter what the citizens think since they have few rights or responsibilities.

    In a democratic system like ours, however, it is critical that citizens understand what government is supposed to do and what it is actually doing. It is critical as well that we understand our own rights and responsibilities and what it means to be a citizen of the United States, including our obligation to vote.

    Civics has long since fallen on hard times, though. As of 2018, only 9 states require a year of civics education and 10 states have no civics requirements at all. Blessedly, North Carolina falls into the former category.

    A survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 26% of Americans can identify our 3 branches of government. I should not have been, of course, but I was stunned late last year — yes, stunned! — when a newly elected U.S. Senator, Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., identified the 3 branches as, “You know, the House, the Senate, and the executive.” Maybe, he just played too much football.

    I have no idea if Sen. Tuberville’s civics ignorance was the tipping point, but two of his colleagues are sponsoring legislation to invest $1 billion annually in civics and history education in K-12 schools throughout our country. Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, say the Educating for Democracy Act would help future generations of Americans gain a deeper understanding of the workings of government and what their obligations are as citizens of the United States. It would provide grants to states, non-profits, educational institutions and strengthen scholarship programs. A companion bill, also bipartisan, has been filed in the U.S. House.

    The legislation would clearly fill a huge void in our nation, but it is not without controversy. Some of civics is clear and factual, particularly the structure of government, federal, state and local, and its mechanics, executive, legislative and judicial. Those are just the facts, ma’am.
    How we use government becomes more interpretive. Think of the debate now raging over the use of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate. The filibuster exists, but how it is employed is highly controversial.

    The same is true of history. As for the history component of the legislation, we all know the American Civil War occurred between 1861-1865, and that its effects haunt us to this day. How we perceive that conflict, its background and aftermath, though, is individual and personal and often at odds with the perception of others. Ditto for the American experience in Vietnam and the January 6th insurrection in Washington. These events occurred, but many of us interpret them differently.

    All of that said, members of Congress are addressing a void in our national knowledge that has swallowed up Americans’ sense of our country and our place in it.

    What we do not know — and do not attempt to learn — threatens the future of our democracy. Much has been written over the last decade about this threat.

    The only way to combat it is to educate Americans about where we came from and how we participate as citizens.

  • 07 CFRT BEFORECape Fear Regional Theatre is undergoing renovations to improve the audience experience.

    The popular theatre that began performing in 1962 under the name “Fayetteville Little Theatre” became CFRT and now features a three-story complex serving about 49,000 audience members in a typical year.

    “This theatre is flying from coach to first-class,” Mary Kate Burke, artistic director for CFRT, said.

    CFRT will be getting a new HVAC system, more handicap accessible and stair-free seating, better lighting and a new sound system, among other changes.

    “The width of the seats will go from 19 to 21 inches and the depth of each row will gain at least 6 inches deeper than before from the knees to the back of the chair,” Burke said. “There was a lot of community engagement and consensus and we have decided to stick with the red seats.”

    In the past, CFRT received feedback about volume issues and uneven hearing throughout the theatre. The new sound system will address and fix these problems. The organization invited Rob Kaplowitz to help design the system.

    Kaplowitz is a 25-year veteran in the sound industry, having worked as a composer, sound designer and is a recipient of a Tony Award for “Fela!” and an OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence In Sound Design, among other celebrations of his work. He has worked in many theatre companies on and off Broadway.

    CFRT hosted a meet-and-greet with Kaplowitz for theatre sponsors, donors and patrons on April 16 to show the crowd prototypes of the new improvements and the new sound system.

    “The old sound system’s best speakers were the center ones, you can see there’s a wide variation from front to bank, so rest assured I have replaced all of them,” he said. “We are becoming inaudible going to the back. Before, the person who wanted the front and aisle seat was hearing the worst sounding show possible.”

    Kaplowitz said the equipment that CFRT had been using in the building is pre-2000s and basically obsolete, adding that sound technology has rapidly evolved in the last few years.

    “The new speakers sound 60 times better than the voice you heard so far,” he assured the crowd. “With the new speakers, you've got coverage all the way to the back, with very little variation. The difference between two seats will not be more than 8 decibels, which is very low.”

    CFRT has reached over 70% of their monetary goal to pay for renovations due to contributions from various patrons and donors. The theatre also received a $250,000 grant that jump-started the campaign from a foundation that prefers to remain anonymous.

    Theatre-goers can also sponsor a new seat with a plaque bearing a name or message. There are about 100 seats left to sponsor. Sponsor plaques from the original seats will be part of a new installation in the lobby. More information can be found by visiting www.cfrt.org/support/#capital-campaign. Those interested in learning how to become a sponsor can call Ella Wrenn at 910-323-4234 ext. 229.

  • 12 Max Greene faces Greensboros Emery AlexanderFencers from the All-American Fencing Academy took gold medals in all events in an April 24 tournament with Greensboro Fencing Academy. It was the first multi-club tournament since last April when the pandemic forced closures and restrictions.

    After nearly a year with a mixture of virtual classes and in-house tournaments, the All-American Fencing Academy’s fencers got their first challenge and an opportunity to gauge their progress against a tough fencing club. Three events were contested during the weekend tournament: youth mixed foil, men’s foil and women’s foil.

    In the youth foil, Fayetteville fencer Atticus Conlin went undefeated in the pool rounds while teammate Max Greene placed 2nd after the pools. Emery Alexander from Greensboro was close behind seeding 3rd after the pools.

    Greene was able to defeat Alexander in the semi-final round which pitted him against Conlin in the gold medal round. During their last tournament, Conlin was undefeated in the pools and elimination rounds, eventually defeating Greene. However, during this tournament, Greene jumped to an early lead in the finals and was able to maintain it and defeat Conlin 10-6 earning Greene his first gold medal.

    In the women’s foil, All-American Fencing Academy fielded 4 fencers against Greensboro’s 5 fencers. Fayetteville fencer Isabelle Guevarra went undefeated against 8 other fencers, only giving up 12 touches in the pool round. Mackie Hinds from Greensboro took second coming out of the pool round.
    Fayetteville fencer Gianna Megill competed in her first tournament since she began fencing three months ago. She had an astounding performance in the pool, winning 3 out of 8 bouts.

    In the elimination rounds, 1st and 2nd seeds Guevarra and Hinds continued their march to the gold medal round where Guevarra defeated Hinds 15-6. All-American Fencing Academy team member Elinor Morkos tied for 3rd during the tournament.

    “Elinor has been very consistent, and you see her utilizing many of the tactics and drills we work on in class and it has been successful for her,” said All-American Fencing Academy head coach Gerhard Guevarra. “She has been working hard and persistent on training well.”

    “This is Isabelle’s first year in the senior events having graduated from the youth USA Fencing category,” Coach Guevarra said. “She was looking forward to earning her first national rating before the pandemic halted all national events at the beginning of the fall 2020 competitive season.”

    In the men’s foil event, All-American Fencing Academy fielded 6 fencers, once again overshadowed by Greensboro’s 9 fencers. The men’s foil competition was divided into 3 pools of five fencers where All-American Fencing Academy teammates Gabriel Guevarra and Bruce McRae placed 1st and undefeated in their respective pools while Greensboro’s Arlo Leake took 1st in the 3rd pool.

    New All-American Fencing Academy fencer Weston Black earned 2 wins in his pool in his first tournament after starting fencing only two
    months ago.

    In the elimination rounds, 5th seed Leo Hinds from Greensboro upset Fayetteville fencer Daniel Johnson, who was 4th seed. There was another upset in the first round where Greensboro teammates Matthew Clark in 14th seed defeated 3rd seed Arlo Clark, giving 6th seed All-American Fencer Colton Culliton a window of opportunity to continue to the semi-final round. Culliton defeated Clark 15-11 to face teammate Gabriel Guevarra in the final four.

    1st and 2nd seed McRae and Gabriel Guevarra went unimpeded in the elimination rounds and faced each other in the gold medal round where Guevarra took the win 15-9.

    Seniors headed to college

    All-American Fencing Academy seniors Sabrina Krupenko, Bruce McRae and Holden McNeil have all been accepted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the fall and will all be trying out for the Division 1 NCAA Varsity Fencing Team. Seniors Gabriel Guevarra and Kaitlyn Gerow have been accepted to East Carolina University and intend to continue fencing at the university club.

    Beginner Fencing Camp

    The All-American Fencing Academy will be hosting its annual Beginner Summer Fencing Camp for students between the ages of 7-12 and teens. The Camp will be from June 18-20 at the Academy in downtown Fayetteville. For more information about the Camp visit www.allamericanfencing.com.

    A growing sport and a growing club

    The sport of fencing is growing world-wide. In an historically European dominated sport, U.S. teams have consistently been present on the world stage. In the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, fencing will have a full medal count for the first time with 6 individual medals and 6 team medals.

    For those interested in trying their hand at the sport, the All-American Fencing Academy hosts a walk-in class for beginners during Fourth Friday events downtown. The Academy is located at 207 B Donaldson St. The Academy instructs and trains recreational and competitive fencers starting at age 7, teens, adults and veterans ages 40+. Its fencers compete regionally and nationally. Coaches include former World Cup and NCAA fencers.

    For more information about the All-American Fencing Academy and its classes, please call 910-644-0137, e-mail info@allamericanfencing.com or visit www.allamericanfencing.com.

    Pictured Above: Fayettevile fencer Max Greene (left) faces Greensboro's Emery Alexander in the youth foil competition. Greene advanced to the finals and won his first golden metal. (Photo courtesy All-American Fencing Academy). 

  • 05 Saragrace SnipesSarahgrace Snipes is the new executive director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. She succeeds Malia Allen who resigned last summer. Snipes was previously associated with the North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington. "It is an honor to be able to play a part in the Fayetteville community as the next Executive Director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival,” Snipes said in a statement. “After a long and difficult year of the pandemic, I am looking forward to bringing joy to Fayetteville's citizens and businesses through our events.” The Dogwood Festival has been a Fayetteville tradition for 39 years. It is usually a three-day festival celebrated during the 4th weekend of April. It went on hiatus last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A mini event scheduled last month was also cancelled.

  • 03 USCapitolBuildingHC1611 sourceNorth Carolina has grown large enough over the last decade to earn a 14th congressional seat, the U.S. Census Bureau announced April 27 in a news release. That seat will be contested during next year’s 2022 congressional elections.

    The announcement came as the U.S. Census Bureau completed data processing for the first 2020 Census results. Its state population counts are used to apportion the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states. As population increases or decreases in each state, the number of seats to represent it changes. North Carolina was one of five states to pick up a seat, while Texas picked up two. Seven states lost a congressional seat, including New York and California.

    Complete data is expected to be released Aug. 16, paving the way for the General Assembly to begin creating new maps for the 14 congressional districts, all 120 N.C. House seats, and all 50 N.C. Senate seats.

    The 14 seats are the most the state has had. North Carolina had 13 seats in the House from 1813 to 1843 and again since 2003. In total, North Carolina now shows an overall population of 10.45 million people. The 2010 figure was 9.5 million. North Carolina remains the ninth-most-populous state and grew by 918,465 people, or 9.6%, between 2010 an 2020. N.C.’s growth outpaced the U.S. as a whole, which had a 7.4% population growth rate.

    The General Assembly has sole authority over redistricting. The governor can neither sign nor veto redistricting maps.

    “Redistricting can be a tough process under any circumstances, but it gets even more complicated when you add in a new congressional seat,” said Mitch Kokai, John Locke Foundation senior political analyst. “Rather than tweaking existing district lines, lawmakers have to decide how and where to create a whole new district. The ripple effects could be felt in congressional districts across the state.”

    As of now the 2022 primaries are set to take place on March 8. As reported by The Associated Press, North Carolina election dates for 2022 likely won’t be altered despite anticipated delays in receiving data needed to perform the once-a-decade redistricting, the General Assembly’s top Republicans said recently. Candidate filing is planned for December.

    With these numbers, North Carolina will also have 16 presidential electors, up from 15, beginning in 2024. The Electoral College is the group of presidential electors required by the U.S. Constitution to form every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president. Each state appoints electors, equal in number to its congressional delegation.

    North Carolina has eight Republican members of the U.S. House and five Democrats, after courts ordered new maps drawn for the 2020 election. Beginning with elections in 2014 and again 2016, and 2018, North Carolina elected 10 Republican members of the U.S. House and three members who were Democrats.

    In examining the early data it appears to Carolina Journal, and this is speculation, that the best-case scenario for Democrats would be a 9-5 GOP map that leaves all Democrat incumbents with blue-leaning districts, and the GOP protecting all eight of its member districts, while drawing a GOP-friendly 14th seat. The worst case would be a new map in which voters would be likely to select 10 GOP members and four Democrats to represent the state.

    According to Cook Political, when it comes to control of the U.S. House:

    “Republicans’ biggest redistricting weapons are Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina — and they could conceivably pick up all five seats they need for the majority from those four alone.”

    Cook Political predicts the GOP would pick up 1.5 House seats from NC, which would reflect either a 9-5 or 10-4 map. UVA Center for Center for Politics predicts nationally the GOP will gain a minimum of one seat out of North Carolina.

    In a 10-4 scenario, it is possible the districts of Rep. Alma Adams in the Charlotte area, Reps. David Price and Deborah Ross in the Triangle area, and Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s eastern North Carolina district would be largely retained for Democrats, with Republicans targeting the Greensboro-area district of first-term Democrat Rep. Kathy Manning.

    The new 14th District could possibly be carved out of the Charlotte suburbs, including parts of Mecklenburg, Cleveland and Gaston Counties, but those decisions can’t begin to take shape until county-by-county numbers are released in late summer. House Speaker Tim Moore, among many others, is rumored to be thinking of running for Congress. He is from Cleveland County. First elected to the General Assembly in 2002, Moore is serving his fourth term as the presiding officer of the House and is the longest-serving Republican House speaker in North Carolina history.

    With heavy population growth on North Carolina’s southern coast, another possibility is that the 7th District could be more of a coastal district, with a new district taking in some of Wake County and perhaps anchored in Johnston. This is speculation that could change once county-by-county population numbers are release late in the summer.

    Nationally, Republicans are expected to make small gains through congressional redistricting. If the 2020 election were to be held again under the new apportionment, Joe Biden would have won with 303 Electoral College votes, rather than 306.

    Apportionment has made Texas the big winner of two new congressional seats. Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Montana and Oregon all picked up one new member of Congress.

    Losing a congressional seat after a population drop were New York, California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This is the first time California has ever lost a seat in the U.S. House due to a population decrease.

    Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original online posting to reflect that the information provided is based on data research and the writer’s analysis.

  • 08 sdc parachute 3The Salvation Army of the Sandhills region will be hosting a Summer Day Camp for children in grades K-8 from June 7 to
    Aug. 16.

    “The Salvation Army Red Shield Club Summer Day Camp is our annual camp that provides a safe environment for the children we serve to play and grow,” said Alison Henion, who serves as the community relations and development coordinator for Sandhill’s Salvation Army.

    The camp takes place annually and can usually hold 45 to 50 kids but will host only 22 this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The camp costs $55 per week, with a one-time $15 registration fee, and will have a rolling registration all summer so participants can join anytime. Camp will be held during the day from 7:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

    “This year is an Olympic theme so we will have many friendly and fun competitions mimicking the Summer Olympic Games,” Henion said. “We also have art and crafts, field trips, movie days and computer time. We incorporate education in a fun way as well by hosting a reading competition and academic games.”

    The camps will be led by their Community Center Director Donya Campbell along with two other program aides.

    “We also will have different businesses, churches and community groups come spend time with the kids,” she said. “They host activities provide lunch or just simply hang out and play.”

    The camp application to the camp can be found at www.salvationarmycarolinas.org/fayetteville/community-center/? and emailed to donya.campbell@uss.salvationarmy.org or delivered in person at the admin office located at 220 E Russell St.

    For those interested in donating to the local Salvation Army or volunteering, visit www.salvationarmycarolinas.org/fayetteville/? or call Alison at 910-483-8119.

  • 01 PWC FHUNote from Publisher Bill Bowman: I am yielding my space this week to Fayetteville resident, PWC ratepayer, and former District 8 Fayetteville City Councilman Ted Mohn. He is known for his laid-back common-sense management style, keen insights into complex city issues, and his razor-sharp analysis of what constitutes fiscal responsibility and good municipal business practices. Below he raises 13 pertinent questions about the proposal made to our city by Bernhard Capital to manage our Hometown Utility. These questions need to be answered before any further consideration is given to this proposal.

    Fayetteville PWC is correct to request being released from the non-disclosure agreement with Bernhard Capital LLC. Citizens of Fayetteville and FAYPWC ratepayers deserve answers on this proposal. Fayetteville City Council should join our FAYPWC in being released from the NDA. Our Hometown Utility belongs to us and we deserve answers in a reasonably timely manner.

    In June 2019, I attended a meeting at City Hall along with Mayor Mitch Colvin, Councilmember Tisha Waddell, FAYPWC Commissioner Darsweil Rogers, select Fayetteville senior staff and members from Bernhard Capital. Bernhard provided us a handout with background company information and the basic concept of how such an agreement might work. No specific financials were ever discussed. Everyone agreed much due diligence was needed for any further discussion for an initial financial proposal of this magnitude. June 2019 was the last time I heard of Bernhard’s idea until I noticed a closed joint-meeting between City Council, our FAYPWC Commission, Bernhard members and select city and FAYPWC senior staff. That meeting occurred on December 1, 2020, at Fayetteville State University. I thought it was odd at first but then I realized the extra space was most likely needed because of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements.

    Fayetteville taxpayers and FAYPWC ratepayers outside city limits deserve details of the Bernhard proposal. Below are some of my simple questions:

    1. How much actual cash will the city be provided upfront from Bernhard?

    2. Is Bernhard going to pay-off all current city debt in addition to the upfront cash?

    3. Who will set the FAYPWC customer electric, water and sewer rates?

    4. Who will negotiate with Duke Energy for long-term bulk electric rate purchases in the future?

    5. Will Bernhard pay actual property taxes versus how FAYPWC now pays Fayetteville money from their electric fund as payments in leu of taxes (PIT) as specified in the City/FAYPWC charter?

    6. Will the potential new annual property tax payments from Bernhard be greater each year than the PIT money currently paid by FAYPWC to the city per the charter?

    7. Will Bernhard actually build a satellite headquarters in Fayetteville and bring 200+ jobs like they told Lafayette, Louisiana, they were considering back in 2018 and never did?

    8. Bernhard says they make their investment back by being more efficient in running business. During their due diligence what aspects of running FAYPWC will they make more efficient to save money which would go back to their investors?

    9. Fayetteville PWC is a not-for-profit utility. Will the NC General Assembly have to update the charter to allow FAYPWC profits to be turned over to Bernhard and their investors?

    10. Fayetteville PWC currently takes what could be considered profit and turns around and uses that money for infrastructure upgrades, extensions and improvements. Will Bernhard take that money to repay their investors or will they continue to invest in infrastructure upgrades and replacements?

    11. Will Bernhard want some type of revenue sharing agreement where they automatically get “x%” of the initial annual revenue from the electric, water and wastewater fund regardless of projected/planned infrastructure needed upgrades identified by the FAYPWC?

    12. Who will have regulatory oversight of Bernhard’s management of our FAYPWC’s electric, water and wastewater departments and funds?

    13. How many years does this proposal last and what happens at the end of this proposal to the city, FAYPWC ratepayers and Bernhard investors?
    Many questions still need to be answered and I’ve only scratched the surface. If Bernhard has done their due diligence to make this a win-win for the city of Fayetteville, FAYPWC ratepayers and their investors, I’d like to see their amortization tables on who is held harmless, who makes out and who gets the short end of the stick. I need to see these projections from Bernhard broken down by each utility fund to better understand what is being proposed and projected. I also want to see projections from our FAYPWC senior staff and whomever the city of Fayetteville might have hired to review all of this.

    Residents and FAYPWC ratepayers deserve transparency on this proposal and we need it before our City Council and FAYPWC Commissioners take public votes on the Bernhard proposal.

  • 04 Cumberland county courthouse2City and county government buildings have reopened to the public in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Face coverings are still required in all facilities, and social distancing is in effect. In-person services had been limited since March 2020 to protect the health of residents and employees. “I am proud of our employees for their dedication to the County’s mission of providing services and how they adapted to the new work challenges during the prolonged pandemic,” said County Manager Amy Cannon. City Hall, the county courthouse and the eight Cumberland County Public Library locations have resumed service. The libraries are open for 45-minute sessions Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. At 15 minutes before the top of each hour, customers are asked to leave the buildings so staff can clean and wipe down high-touch areas. The libraries continue to offer curbside pick-up service at all branches. Meeting rooms, in-person programming, Book-a-Librarian sessions and the Mobile Outreach Service are not available. The Department of Social Services on Ramsey Street is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Citizens may continue to apply for public assistance programs (Food and Nutrition, Medicaid, Child Care and Work First) remotely without visiting the building. Information on the various ways to apply for assistance is available at ccdssnc.com.

  • 06 Police Chief engagementEditor's Note: This article has been updated to correctly annotate that NC General Statutes do specifically address the use of deadly force.

    New York banned chokeholds. Seattle required de-escalation training. Los Angeles restricted shooting at moving vehicles. But those reforms did not stop police from killing Eric Garner, Charleena Lyles or Ryan Twyman, who died when officers used the very tactics that the changes were supposed to prevent.

    Activists say these realizations have created unprecedented momentum for law enforcement reform and some radical ideas like defunding and abolishing police.

    The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative non-profit think tank that focuses on domestic policy and urban affairs, notes there are good reasons to be skeptical of many of the most popular reforms being advanced. MI suggests that policy makers should consider police reforms aligned with recruiting, training, reliable data and the promotion of body worn cameras.

    Up & Coming Weekly asked Fayetteville Chief of Police Gina V. Hawkins if department policy specifies that the use of deadly force is the last resort.

    “The level of force used must be such that it is objectively reasonable and necessary,” she responded, noting that the use of force is detailed in North Carolina General Statute §15A-401. According to the Statute, use of deadly force is justified for a police officer to "defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly phsyical force..." An officer may also use deadly force to "prevent the escape from custody of a person he reasonably believes is attempting to escape by means of a deadly weapon..."

    Hawkins said that “an officer has a duty to intervene to prevent or stop the use of excessive force by another officer when it is safe and reasonable to do so.”

    In her written responses, Hawkins referred repeatedly to best practices without elaborating.

    “I am heavily involved with the recruitment and hiring process, and in seeking the newest and most updated training that follows these best practices,” she said.

    “Oversight, and following the best practices, ensures that we are developing an officer that is well rounded, professional, and constantly learning,” she added.

    Mayor Mitch Colvin addressed the issue of police brutality in an Up & Coming Weekly opinion piece last week. “While our city has certainly had its problems with racial and social bias, to include aggressive policing in predominately Black communities, we have come a long way over the last 8 years,” Colvin wrote. The city began revamping its policing policies when former police chief Harold Medlock invited the U.S. Justice Department to evaluate the FPD in 2012/2013. “Many of the changes made were proactive and allowed us to get a head start on the necessary changes,” Colvin added.

    He pointed out that the city established a Citizens Advisory Board to assist in building better relationships with law enforcement and the communities they serve. The mayor supports the FPD’s requirement that officers wear body cameras. The theory of using body cameras is that police officers will be less likely to commit misconduct if they understand their actions are being recorded. North Carolina state law requires that camera footage be made public only when ordered by a judge.

    “By the time it goes through that judicial process, the trust is broken with the community,” Colvin said.

    “Until governments invest in supporting communities rather than criminalizing and controlling them, the violence will not stop,” said John Raphling, senior U.S. criminal legal system researcher at Human Rights Watch.

    Pictured Above: Poliece Chief Gina Hawkins interacts with children during a community engagement event. (Photo Courtesey Fayetteville Police Department). 

  • 10 N2103P23006CFayetteville Technical Community College offers the Mobile Application Developer associate degree as a concentration under the Information Technology major. This curriculum prepares learners to design and develop mobile applications for the web, Android and iOS mobile devices.

    Graduates will be proficient in HTML, JavaScript, Java, Swift and UI/UX. Upon completion of the program, students will be well equipped to enter the growing field of application software development.

    The Computer Programming and Development Department started offering the Mobile Application Developer degree in the Fall Semester of 2020. This program introduces students to Java, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Swift and HTML5 App development. New to the program is Swift language training — the primary mobile application development language for Apple mobile devices. Students will learn the necessary skills to create basic applications for the iPhone and the iPad. Students will also be introduced to app development using HTML5 which can be used on many different devices.

    To further benefit students, the department has added a Mac lab furnished with iMacs, MacBook Pros and iPads for students to test their design and programming skills.

    FTCC offers a broad range of programs of study leading to the award of associate degrees, certificates and diplomas. Many educational choices are available in the field of computer and information technology, where graduates can seek employment as designers, developers, testers, support technicians, system administrators, and programmers. Specialty areas include business intelligence, database services, healthcare informatics, security
    and more.

    Specific program areas to explore include Mobile Application Development, Computer Programming & Development, Database Management, Digital Media Technology, Game & Interactive Programming, Intelligence Studies, Network Management, Network Administration, PC Support & Services, Systems Security & Analysis, Simulation & Game Development, Cloud Management, and User Interface and Experience Design, along with Advertising and Graphic Design. Within each of these program areas are additional specialty programs of study, which allow students broad choices for expansion in becoming well equipped for a career in the computer technology field. The Computer Information Technology area offers 30+ certificates to go along with the degrees listed.

    For students interested in pursuing an exciting career in a high-demand field, FTCC is a wise choice for education in Computer Information Technology. Summer classes begin May 24 and Fall classes begin August 16. Visit www.faytechcc.edu to apply now and begin the enrollment process. To reach out with questions about pursuing the Mobile Applications Developer program at FTCC, call 910-678-8571 or email camerona@faytechcc.edu.

    With affordable tuition, a broad range of classes and programs to choose from offered in person, online and virtual, FTCC is your smart choice for education. Admissions counselors are standing by to help yo find your way forward at FTCC.

  • 11 N2105P21004CIn 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson officially recognized Mother's Day as a national holiday. More than a hundred years later, the holiday has become a global celebration to honor the mothers who made sacrifices to raise generations of children and support them through adulthood.

    While flowers or chocolates are a perfectly suitable way to say thanks, it's the way you live your life, the special words you say to her, or even those you write in a card that mean the most.

    Before I even turned 18, I left home to join the Army, and never returned except to visit. And while I can still hope that my life in some way is a tribute to the mother who raised and launched me into the world, so much of what I know about mothers and their adult children I've learned from a front row seat to an amazing mother and grandmother — my wife.

    On a recent Saturday, she made plans for as many as wanted to join us to gather their Nerf® guns and follow us, or to see how many we could fit inside each vehicle for a drive-thru dinosaur hunt in a neighboring county. It was a day of silliness including a lunch-on-the-road and picking strawberries at a local farm.

    Later that same day, our son knocked on the door with his children who were excited to give us some small gifts they picked out for us while on a Spring Break vacation. As if that weren't enough, the following day, our daughter invited mom and me over for fresh strawberry pie and some fun conversation.

    This is some of what being a mom is about. Loving your children, giving them your time and attention, and watching them blossom into parents who do the same. It's not all dinosaur hunts, gifts and strawberry pie, but those things stem from a life well-lived, and children well-loved.

    The Bible has much to say about the joys, challenges and rewards of motherhood. In Proverbs 31:26 it says "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." That's what I see when I look at the woman — the mother — I've spent more time with than any other. Wisdom and kindness. A mother who loves her children and theirs. A mother who wants the very best for every single one of them, and stops to call, video chat, and pray for each of them on a regular basis.

    There's not enough I can't say enough about the importance of motherhood, so if you're a mom — thank you. If your mother is still living, I hope you'll take it from here. Call her. Write a letter. Fill a card with words that will honor her and place it in her hands.

    As you celebrate all that motherhood is and means, let me point you again to the Bible. If you only have time to read one small chapter, read Proverbs 31 where you'll find this in the 28th verse – "Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

  • 09 Gary Lowder picAs more pandemic restrictions are being lifted, many of us are ready for spring and summer activities to begin. Warmer weather and sunshine invite us to venture outdoors to enjoy friends, good food, a favorite beverage and great music. On May 14, Fayetteville Dinner Theatre, Up & Coming Weekly, and Gates Four Golf & Country Club will kick off the Gates Four Summer Concert Series with the Carolina Summer Beach Bash.

    Piedmont Natural Gas and Jay Dowdy of All American Homes are the title sponsors of this new summer-long outdoor music venue for Cumberland County residents. Working in conjunction with Healy Wholesale Distributors, these great sponsors support this musical series to assist in raising money for reading and educational resources for Cumberland County children through the Kidsville News Literacy and Education Foundation.

    All concerts will be presented outdoors at the Gates Four Pavilion and socially distanced. The Concert Series includes a variety of musical acts from Beach to the Beatles. The Concert Series will be held monthly through September, with tickets available online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com or the Gates Four business office during business hours. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with food (included with ticket price) served 6-7:30 p.m. A complete line of beverages will be available at three convenient full-service cash bars serving Healy Wholesale beer and wine products and your favorite mixed drinks. Concierge table service will be provided for VIP tables inside the Pavilion. Fayetteville's own Mash House Brewery will also have a large selection of their custom craft beers available. Sweet Frog will be present for those with a sweet tooth.

    There will be something for everyone during this concert series which showcases a different band each month. Kicking off the Concert Series on May 14 is Gary Lowder & Smokin' Hot. Known as a party band based out of North Myrtle Beach, their music covers songs from several decades with many different genres of music represented, including soul, rhythm and blues, funk, reggae, jazz standards, country, 50s, 60s and Carolina Beach Music. In addition to covering today's top trending hits, the Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot also has successful hits on local radio and internet stations across North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Florida.

    Members of Smokin' Hot have been nominated collectively for several Carolina Beach Music Awards over the years. In 2013, the band won "CD of the Year" at the Carolina Beach Music Awards. In 2014, they won "Group of the Year." In 2015, they were nominated for 13 Carolina Beach Music Awards, with J.K. Loftin, group guitarist, winning "Engineer of the Year." In 2016, they were nominated for 6 CBMA Awards, including "Male Vocalist" (G. Lowder), "Group Album" ("Playin' With Fire 2"), "Entertainer" (G. Lowder), "Engineer" and "Producer" (J.K.Loftin), "Collaboration or Duo" (G. Lowder & Marsha Morgan, "Too Many Tears"). Gary Lowder & Smokin' Hot is an example of the quality entertainment Gates Four brings to Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

    The next concert on June 26 will be the British Invaders, who will present a Beatles Tribute to Beatlemania of the 1960s when English bands stormed the U.S. music charts and won over crowds of screaming fans. While dressing in period Nehru suits and playing vintage instruments, the British Invaders will entertain the audience with a mixture of British hits from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Dave Clark Five, The Animals, The Yardbirds, Rod Stewart and Elton John.

    On July 17, it's a classic retro rock party with the Jan Michael Fields Band performing hits of the 70s and 80s. Here is another decade of fabulous Rockin' in the 80s music. Jan Fields is a charismatic performer known as one of the top vocalists in the southeast. His stellar voice and ability to work the stage are just as relevant today as in the 80s when he was the frontman for the international touring act, Sidewinder. Jan is the consummate pro, and his dedication to his craft earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 for outstanding contributions and support of the North Carolina music industry.

    August 28 picks up in the 90s with Stylin' Country with the Tim Hair (Tim McGraw) Tribute Band. For fans of McGraw's country and crossover hits, the show will follow his career from his 1994 breakout "Indian Outlaw" and feature his many number one songs through his chart-topper "Humble and Kind."

    The grand finale of the Summer Concert Series is on September 18, showcasing Fayetteville and Cumberland County's 4-time winner "Best Local Band" in Up & Coming Weekly's Best of Fayetteville survey. The versatile Rivermist Band will be performing their award-winning songs to include top forty, rock, pop, funk and R & B. This talented group of musicians has played together in Fayetteville and the southeast for more than 40 years. It is a great way to end the Summer Concert Series. Their shows are always professional, energetic and entertaining.

    Plan to be at the Pavilion at Gates Four on May 14 for the Carolina Summer Beach Bash. The Gates Four Summer Concert Series offers terrific music from the talented artists along with Gates Four hospitality, friends, great food, plenty of drinks and a great time. Tickets for all concert dates are available for purchase at Gates Four or online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com. Tickets are $60 per person and include the concert, food, lawn seating (bring your chairs), gifts, door prizes and a few surprises.

    For VIP Tables, group rates or more information, call 910-391-3859. Tickets are limited in order to keep the concert attendees comfortable and socially distanced.

  • 13 strunkFew people are better qualified to talk about the current state of high school athletics in North Carolina than Rick Strunk. Strunk joined the staff at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association in 1985 and spent 30 years there before stepping down in 2015.

    During his early years with the NCHSAA, Strunk had a conversation with longtime NCHSAA leader Charlie Adams about what events could disrupt high school sports on a statewide scale.

    Adams told Strunk one thing would be a major war that could put restrictions on travel.

    The second thing Adams said was an epidemic.

    Strunk said during his time with the NCHSAA, they did have to deal with a situation like that, but it was nothing on the scale of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

    “There was a measles outbreak,’’ Strunk said, adding that it was confined to one area of the state. “School systems went under quarantine for a limited period of time to try and track down the source of the measles.’’

    Schools in that area developed a workaround, redoing their athletic schedules and playing games against schools that weren’t under quarantine, then once the quarantine was lifted, making up all the postponed games against the schools that were in lockdown.

    He thinks the NCHSAA has done the best job possible trying to make decisions within the framework of the restrictions that have been set down in North Carolina to curb the spread of the pandemic, and he thinks coaches, athletes, parents and fans need to understand that the NCHSAA lacks the freedom to make plans for the future at will.

    “When the governor says something is going to happen on this date, you can’t make your own decision to run counter to that,’’ he said. “Health and safety of the participants is paramount. That is what North Carolina has focused on.’’

    Strunk said he has stayed in contact with members of the NCHSAA staff during the pandemic, and hopes the public appreciates this has been a painful process for them. “They know the value of high school sports and that kids want to play,’’ he said. “I really feel bad for seniors who didn’t have a season in the spring because it was stopped so early.’’

    At the same time, he had nothing but praise for how school systems and coaches are still reaching out to support both students and athletes.
    “Schools have had to pivot quickly,’’ he said. “Without much run-up they had to put classes online.’’

    He said coaches have had to design strength conditioning programs for homebound athletes who don’t have access to gyms or weights.

    In the face of everything, Strunk is trying to be optimistic and hopeful that by this fall, some degree of normalcy will return and coaches and athletes will be back on the field.
    “First is the decision about school,’’ he said. “That will drive a lot of things.’’

    He’s also concerned about if fans will feel safe going to games and if small businesses will be able to provide financial support to local teams after being closed.

    Instead of a light switch, Strunk thinks the return to sports will be more like a dimmer switch. “The safety of the public, the athletes, the coaches, the fans, all of those are the prime directive in this case,’’ he said.

  •  Much attention has been devoted recently to placing the spotlight on nurses and the critical frontline position they fulfill, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic — and rightfully so. We are grateful for their courage and the sacrifices they make, and who among us hasn’t been impacted in some way by nurses during our lifetimes?

    Fayetteville Technical Community College offers an associate degree program in nursing that has full North Carolina Board approval and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

    The ADN program is designed to be completed in four semesters. All ADN courses are offered face-to-face, up to 10 hours per week. All didactic components of the nursing (NUR) courses are eight weeks in length. The only course offered online is pharmacology. Clinicals are accomplished through one 12-hour shift per week for all courses except NUR 111 (Introduction to Health Concepts). NUR 111 clinicals consist of two 6-hour shifts twice a week. Pharmacology does not have a clinical component. The Complex Health Concepts course consists of didactic content during the first eight weeks, then students transition to the clinical component where they will complete 240 hours of clinical shifts with their assigned preceptor. Clinical sites are located in the Fayetteville, Pinehurst and Lumberton areas as well as other surrounding counties.

    There are two application cycles for students interested in applying for the associate degree nursing program at FTCC: the fall cycle from Nov. 1-Jan. 30 and the summer cycle from June 1-July 31. The TEAS test is one of the required prerequisite components, and the minimum exam score is 64%. The associate degree nursing program currently consists of eight NUR courses. The courses are NUR 111 (Introduction to Health Concepts), NUR 112 (Health-Illness Concepts), NUR 113 (Family Health Concepts), NUR 114 (Holistic Health Concepts), NUR 117 (Pharmacology), NUR 211 (Health Care Concepts), NUR 212 (Health System Concepts) and NUR 213 (Complex Health Concepts). Course work includes clinical rotations to health care facilities and labs in designated courses.

    Nursing is a challenging professional occupation that leads to many personally gratifying experiences. Nurses evaluate various conditions and administer treatment options for their patients. Nurses who successfully complete the associate degree program at Fayetteville Tech receive training to practice in dynamic situations to meet the individual needs which impact health, quality of life and achievement of potential. Course work includes and builds upon the domains of healthcare, nursing practice and the holistic individual. Content emphasizes the nurse as a member of the interdisciplinary team providing safe, individualized care while employing evidence-based practice, quality improvement and informatics. If you would like to learn more about the associate degree nursing program and competitive admissions application process, call me at 910-678-9872 or email me at sporberh@faytechcc.edu.

    Fayetteville Tech offers over 280 academic programs of study leading to the award of associate degree, certificate, or diploma. Programs fall under the categories of arts and humanities, business, computer technology, engineering/applied technology, health, math and sciences, and public service. Some programs at FTCC are available 100% online. To learn more about the programs of study at FTCC, visit www.faytechcc.edu or contact an admissions representative at admissions@faytechcc.edu. ;
  • 07 khiarimhoons Quarantine may seem to be winding down, but the need for social distancing remains. In the past few months, the quarantine brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that personal connections are a vital part of daily living. Without them, the world seems a little bleak. In response to this need for connection with others, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County joined forces with artists of all disciplines to host Hay Street Live Virtual Jam Session. It is a bright spot in a trying situation and something to look forward to each week.

    Using modern technology, the Arts Council is bridging the gap by hosting a series of virtual events every Friday, at 6 p.m., through live streaming on Facebook.

    While the concept of time may be altered due to the quarantines, the attempt to reach some kind of normalcy is vital to mental health and maintaining relationships. Whether it seems real or not, spring has sprung, and Memorial Day is in the rearview mirror. Summer has officially begun. Aren’t we all ready for some fun? May 29, performer Kiari Mhoon will be featured on Hay Street Live Virtual Jam Session to kick off summer with some smooth R&B and pop tunes.
    Although he’s young, 21-year-old Mhoon has performed for many years, starting his foray into entertainment right after he learned to walk and continuing to today. Originally from Arkansas, his family settled in Tennessee, where he attended high school and performed in school plays, the choir and madrigals, as well as small group ensembles and solo performances. During his time in the Army, Mhoon played the lead in the “ U.S. Army Soldier Show” and sang the national anthem at several events and ceremonies.

    After winning a contest held by Universal Records, Mhoon took his group “Versatile” on a nightclub tour. In 2017, he released his first album, “24 Hours,” under his independent label, Mhoon Records. This was followed by a second album, “All I Want,” in 2019.

    This week, Mhoon, who is influenced by artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Beyonce, will perform for the Fayetteville community, so get ready to groove. According to Mhoon, listeners can expect to hear “songs from his albums, along with songs that have inspired me in some way.”

    “Kiari is an immensely talented vocalist, and he also performs in the 82nd Airborne Band,” stated Metoya Scott, public relations manager for the Arts Council. She continued, “While this may not be the same experience as seeing Kiari perform live, it will still be very entertaining” for those who attend.

    In closing, Scott acknowledged how the Hay Street Live program has grown since it started. “The Arts Council is grateful (for) the amount of participation we’ve received for Hay Street Live, and we are looking forward to more performances to come,” she said.

    To view Kiari Mhoon this Friday, and for performances going forward, visit www.theartscouncil.com, www.wearethearts.com, or check out Facebook @TheArtsCouncilFAY to view the upcoming virtual concerts.
  • 10 biscuitvilleCumberland County’s newest Biscuitville fast-food restaurant is all dressed up and ready for opening day in Hope Mills.

    The only question is exactly when that will be.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening date for the restaurant at the intersection of Hope Mills Road and George Owen Road is generically scheduled for summer, but officials at the business’s restaurant support center in Greensboro can’t offer any more specific information on the opening than that.

    Alon Vanterpool is the marketing manager for Biscuitville, which is primarily a North Carolina business with locations largely located in the Triad area of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point, along with some in Virginia.

    Vanterpool said Biscuitville has expanded into the Triangle area of Raleigh and Durham and is also growing in Fayetteville as the addition of the Hope Mills restaurant indicates.

    Construction of the Hope Mills location was well underway when concerns about the pandemic reaching the United States started to grow.

    Vanterpool said Biscuitville officials quickly realized plans for moving forward with the opening of the restaurant would be heavily influenced by following state guidelines put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    Biscuitville does have other restaurants already open in the Fayetteville area that are currently serving drive-through customers only.

    The first step to get the new Hope Mills location up and running will be completing the hiring of a manager for the store along with the staff.

    Vanterpool said Biscuitville typically begins the search for the top staff positions about six months before opening then hires the members of the restaurant crew four to six weeks before opening.

    As of mid-May, the Hope Mills location is still looking for a manager/operator, with plans to hire approximately 40 people to work on the restaurant crew.
    Vanterpool said open positions on the restaurant crew can be found at www.biscuitville.com/careers.

    She isn’t sure what the status of filling any of the crew positions is at this time, but she knows the hiring of crew members was on Biscuitville’s radar before the pandemic struck.

    “As soon as we get the go-ahead, we’ll be going full speed ahead,’’ Vanterpool said.

    Visit the company’s website at www.biscuitville.com for any general questions about Biscuitville or the new Hope Mills location.

  • 12 N2005P21001HI say “no” a lot, especially to my toddler.

    “No, don’t do that!” “No, that’s not kind.” “No, don’t touch that!” “No, don’t put that in your mouth!” “No, no, no!” So many nos have to be said for a 2 year old to learn how to do life well. But do they all need to be said?

    I’ve caught myself over and over again saying no to things he wants that inconvenience me. He is full of curiosity and wonder, and I catch myself saying no to his adventures, even when there’s no good reason not to other than it makes more work for me.

    “No, you can’t jump in puddles today. You’ll get dirty.” “No, you can’t get that out. I just vacuumed.” “No, that’s too loud!” “No, you can’t help me. It’s faster if I do it myself.”

    “No, no, no!”

    Parents with young kids, do you find yourself doing that too? Why do we say no when, yeah, it might take some extra cleaning up, hosing off, or time out of the day, but we could say yes and have some of the best memories with our kids? Why do I say no? Because its not good for him or because it's not fun for me?

    I want to say yes, way more than I say no. I’m not saying give the child everything he wants at the drop of a hat, but take note of the things I’m saying “no” to just out of pure inconvenience for me. If I don’t, I’ll be robbing him of a childhood of exploration, contentment in the little things, imagination and discovery. I want him to know he’s capable, fun and smart. If he never gets to find out for himself, how will he ever know?

    Proverbs 22:6 holds this age-old truth: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” This definitely applies to training children in the ways of the Lord, but I think it applies here as well. What he learns now will serve him when he’s older. Hopefully, if I cultivate an adventurous heart in him, one that loves to learn, experience, imagine and discover, he’ll take that with him all the way through adulthood. Maybe he’ll teach it to his children one day. If I’m consistent, he’ll learn it, too. If I’m negative and self-centered, catering to my own convenience, he’ll learn it, too. But, if I seek out the needs of others, if I create experiences for him that he’ll never forget, if I let him show me what interests him, he’ll learn to do that for others, too.

    So, here’s to saying yes:

    “Yes, son! We’ve got nowhere to go today. Of course you can jump in puddles.”

    “Yes, bud! Hop up on this chair and stir for me! I’d love your help!”

    “Sure! I’ll play with you!”

    And maybe, just maybe, by saying yes, I’ll come up with more adventures on my own, too.

  • 06 SSGT Ronald ShurerMedal of Honor recipient and retired Special Forces medic Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer died earlier this month. The U.S. Secret Service, for whom Shurer worked since retiring from the Army in 2009, announced his death. “Today, we lost an American Hero: Husband, father, son and Medal of Honor recipient, Special Agent Ronald J. Shurer II,” the Secret Service said.

    Shurer, 41, was undergoing treatment for lung cancer at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C.

    The day before he died, he said that he would soon be taken off a ventilator, an often difficult and sometimes dangerous medical procedure. “Very upset to write this... been unconscious for a week. They are going to try and take it out in a couple of hours, they can’t tell me if it will work,” Shurer wrote in an Instagram post from his hospital bed, pictured with his wife, Miranda.

    Shurer was awarded the Medal of Honor in October 2018 for his actions as a Green Beret medic with Fort Bragg’s 3rd Special Forces Group during the Battle of Shok Valley in northeastern Afghanistan a decade earlier.

    “Ron was the embodiment of the Special Forces soldier, a dedicated husband and a loving father,” said 3rd Group commander Col. Nathan Prussian. “His heroic actions were an inspiration throughout 3rd Special Forces Group, Special Forces Regiment and the U.S. Army.”

    On April 6, 2008, a 12-man Green Beret team from Operational Detachment-Alpha 3336 were on a mission to kill a leader of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin insurgent group. The Green Berets and about 100 Afghan commandos were dropped from hovering helicopters because the icy mountainside was too steep to land on.

    The assault force faced scaling a 100-foot cliff to reach the enemy compound. But within minutes, heavy machine-gun fire and rockets rained down from enemy positions above. Shurer, then a senior medical sergeant, began to help wounded Afghan commandos. Capt. Kyle Walton, the operation’s ground commander, radioed Shurer to advance up the slope as casualties mounted. Shurer scaled the mountainside under fire. “We were pinned down with nearly nowhere to go,” Walton said.

    While treating the wounded, Shurer was hit twice — once in the arm and once by a stunning round to his helmet. Dillon Behr, one of the Green Beret soldiers who was critically wounded, credited Shurer for his survival. “Without Ron Shurer at my side, I would have died that day.”

    Shurer, a long time Fayetteville resident, last lived in suburban Washington, D.C. He regularly attended events there and in Fayetteville to help raise funds for the Special Forces Charitable Trust, a charity that supports families of Green Berets.

    Shurer’s Medal of Honor was an upgrade from an earlier Silver Star Medal he received for his actions during the gunbattle in Afghanistan. A Pentagon review determined his actions warranted the nation’s highest award for valor. The Green Berets honored for their heroism represented the largest set of citations for a single battle since the Vietnam War. After the citations were read, the then-commander of Fort Bragg’s Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, Jr., stated, “There is no finer fighting man on the face of the earth than the American soldier. And there is no finer American soldier than our Green Berets. If you saw what you heard today in a movie, you would shake your head and say, that didn’t happen, but it does, every day.”

  • 02 N2005P72026CNumbers and statistics can be misleading. This week, our publisher, Bill Bowman, yields his space to Jimmy Jones for a more skeptical look at the statistics in the age of COVID-19.

    In the last few weeks, we have heard a lot about how our government officials are “following the data” and “following the science.” Here is the problem. I do not believe the majority of people trust their data or their science. I think we have a difficulty understanding what is factual and what is theoretical, and we are letting it confuse our decision-making processes.

    When the United States of America bombed Japan in World War II, it killed and wounded an estimated quarter of a million people, and the world entered the nuclear age and an atomic race. I grew up in the ‘60s. In the first grade, we watched films about what to do during a nuclear explosion. The film would tell us, “don’t look at the blast,” “hide under your desk” and “duck and cover.” I now realize that this was a theoretical test of the American population. Now I know that the shockwaves would bust my eardrums and lungs, and the thermal radiation would melt my skin. Somehow, the government knew this and convinced its citizens that this was factual. Educators across the country showed us this movie, and we practiced hiding under our wooden desk — and no one questioned it.

    Last year, hurricane Dorian came. We watched as officials, scientists, meteorologists and that guy from the Weather Channel tell us that Fayetteville was in the path of a Category IV storm. Factually, the storm did come. Theoretically, it could have hit land as a Category IV and come to Fayetteville. Factually, it hit near Jacksonville with tropical-storm-force winds. These predictions are not done blindly but with thousands of sensors, satellites and Air Force C-130 airplanes flying into the storm. There are so many factors that you cannot accurately predict the course of nature. Often, we take theoretical information and try to make factual predictions, usually to save lives.
    As we hear the “breaking news” on the coronavirus showing us the data, people are starting to discover that the data does not seem to make sense. If you have had the coronavirus or lost someone from this, I am not discounting your pain, grief or loss.

    Nature is running a course, and we cannot see it. There are only four factors that we all have to understand. We will get the virus, or we will not. If we do get it, we will live or die.

    Every day the news flashes with the numbers of COVID-19 cases, the number of new cases and the number of deaths. These numbers mean nothing because they cannot be collated because not everyone has been tested nor are there enough tests. To make it useful, the entire population would have to be tested at the exact same moment while separated six-feet apart. Then we would need to check everyone across the world for a two-week period. We might then get an accurate count. Many deaths of high-risk people — those who were already in jeopardy of dying from some other health issue — are often included in the COVID-19 statistics, but that is not reported. I don’t know if these numbers are continually being blasted to us because the government and media think we are stupid or because we are dumb enough not to understand.

    The chance of getting hit by lightning is one in a million. In 2017, the U.S. population was 327 million. That year, 2.7 million died. That is about 0.8% of the population. Thus far, there have been 90,694 deaths due to COVID-19 in the U.S. That is one in 3,605 people or 0.027% of the people that die each year in the U.S. In North Carolina, as of 2018, there were about 10.4 million people in the state. Last week, there were 695 deaths in North Carolina contributed to COVID-19. That is one in 14,694 people or 0.0066% of the population that have died in the state. Sadly, as we move forward, these numbers will get worse.

    The number of cases that the government report on COVID-19 does not report how many people are contagious at a time. That is a number we could use to make educated decisions. Symptomatically, this is hard to diagnose because the list of symptoms continues to grow. It is hard to tell if someone has COVID-19, the flu or allergies without a test. We use to look at someone who sneezed and say, “God bless you.” Now, we may say, “God bless you,” but we are thinking, “Run!” “Don’t get me sick,” and, “I hope you don’t die.”

    Social distancing is not going to work. This is the same as having to hide under your desk in a nuclear explosion because we are a community of people. We are social beings. From birth to death and in between, we long to be in touch and interact with people. In my opinion, I do not want the government to tell me what to do, where to go and who I can see in a free society. I prefer our leaders to recommend, “stay safer at home,” but the king of our state ordered us to “stay at home, close our businesses and wreck our economy while bureaucrats pick who can do what in the name of social distancing. No person or representative in a free society should ever have this kind of power over the people.They are elected to represent us, no matter the circumstances. These people either do not understand the Constitution, or maybe they just decided to run rampant over it to protect their kingdom.

    Looking at the blame game of where it started is just a waste of time for the common person. The United States government could not find who released anthrax in Washington, D.C., in the deadly attack in 2001. After that event, the government told us to use plastic and use duct tape to seal our doors and windows. They should have just told us to put plastic bags over our heads and say, “Good luck.”

    The government needs to work on its credibility. It is your responsibility, and the right thing to do, to protect yourself as you see fit. If you are sick, stay home. If you are high risk, don’t go out. If you go out, I recommend that you have your will updated and have a “do not resuscitate” order in place, if that is what you wish.

    Until there is an effective vaccine, there are risks, and nature will run its course. The numbers are in our favor to survive.

  •  Fayetteville and Cumberland County Community Development Departments are responding to the economic impacts being experienced by small businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic. Funding has been made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Community Development Block Grant Program. Separate projects are being administered by Fayetteville and Cumberland County Community Development Departments. Financial assistance is available from county government to small for-profit businesses with up to 10 employees at the time of application. Up to $10,000 in grant funding can be provided to for-profit businesses operating outside the city of Fayetteville in Cumberland County. Fayetteville City Council approved funding for bridge loans to help small business operations while they await approval of federal loans. The program is funded for $260,000, providing individual businesses up to $5,000. The goals of the bridge loans are to provide immediate relief so small businesses in the city of Fayetteville can stay open and limit job losses until they qualify for longer-term disaster funding from the SBA or other funding sources.

    Keep the water running

    Stay-at-home orders have changed the way our community’s people shop, eat, do business and go to school. When buildings are vacant or operate at significantly reduced capacity for an extended time, the water is left sitting in the pipes. Disease-causing microorganisms can grow, and corrosion control can be impacted. To remove stale and potentially unhealthy water in buildings, the Fayetteville Public Works Commission suggests preparations be taken to reopen properties when the time comes. The key is to flush water systems and devices. For larger buildings, a single flush isn’t enough to re-establish good water quality. Flushing should be a part of the cleaning and routine maintenance that will have to be completed before reopening.

    PWC recommends performing a final flush 24 to 48 hours before a building officially reopens. Consider the following steps when flushing your facilities: Flush all faucets (remove faucet aerators if possible) for 10 to 30 minutes, open all outlets at once to flush the service line, and then open them again, individually, beginning near where the water enters the building. Flush cold water first, then flush hot water until it reaches its maximum temperature. Follow manufacturer recommendations to flush water fountains, hot-water tanks, hot-water recirculating loops, ice makers, dishwashers, humidifiers and cooling towers.

    Veterans Affairs and hydroxychloroquine

    Facing growing criticism, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it will not stop use of an unproven malaria drug on veterans with COVID-19, but that fewer of its patients are now taking it. In responses provided to Congress and obtained by The Associated Press, the VA said it never “encouraged or discouraged” its government-run hospitals to use hydroxychloroquine on patients. Still, it acknowledged that VA Secretary Robert Wilkie had wrongly asserted publicly without evidence that the drug had been shown to benefit younger veterans. The VA also agreed more study was needed on the drug and suggested its use was now limited to extenuating circumstances. The Veterans Affairs Department declined to say how many patients had been treated with hydroxychloroquine for the coronavirus since January. Still, a recent analysis of VA hospital data showed that hundreds of veterans had taken it by early April. “Any drug used to treat patients with COVID-19, especially veterans living with debilitating preexisting conditions, must be proven safe and effective before it’s administered,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mt., said. “Given recent studies from both VA and other hospitals, hydroxychloroquine